Clarissa Harlowe LETTER XI



I take the liberty to write to you, by this special messenger. In the phrensy of my soul I write to you, to demand of you, and of any of your family who can tell news of my beloved friend, who, I doubt, has been spirited away by the base arts of one of the blackest—O help me to a name black enough to call him by! Her piety is proof against self-attempts. It must, it must be he, the only wretch, who could injure such an innocent; and now—who knows what he has done with her!

If I have patience, I will give you the occasion of this distracted vehemence.

I wrote to her the very moment you and your sister left me. But being unable to procure a special messenger, as I intended, was forced to send by the post. I urged her, [you know I promised that I would: I urged her,] with earnestness, to comply with the desires of all your family. Having no answer, I wrote again on Sunday night; and sent it by a particular hand, who travelled all night; chiding her for keeping a heart so impatient as mine in such cruel suspense, upon a matter of so much importance to her, and therefore to me. And very angry I was with her in my mind.

But, judge my astonishment, my distraction, when last night, the messenger, returning post-haste, brought me word, that she had not been heard of since Friday morning! and that a letter lay for her at her lodgings, which came by the post; and must be mine!

She went out about six that morning; only intending, as they believe, to go to morning-prayers at Covent-Garden church, just by her lodgings, as she had done divers times before—Went on foot!—Left word she should be back in an hour!—Very poorly in health!

Lord, have mercy upon me! What shall I do!—I was a distracted creature all last night!

O Madam! you know not how I love her!—My own soul is not dearer to me, than my Clarissa Harlowe!—Nay! she is my soul—for I now have none—only a miserable one, however—for she was the joy, the stay, the prop of my life. Never woman loved woman as we love one another. It is impossible to tell you half her excellencies. It was my glory and my pride, that I was capable of so fervent a love of so pure and matchless a creature.— But now—who knows, whether the dear injured has not all her woes, her undeserved woes, completed in death; or is not reserved for a worse fate! —This I leave to your inquiry—for—your—[shall I call the man—— your?] relation I understand is still with you.

Surely, my good Ladies, you were well authorized in the proposals you made in presence of my mother!—Surely he dare not abuse your confidence, and the confidence of your noble relations! I make no apology for giving you this trouble, nor for desiring you to favour with a line, by this messenger,

Your almost distracted ANNA HOWE.