If you are looking for Clarissa Harlowe; or the history of a young lady Volume IX Part 18 you are coming to the right place.
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And now, O my blessed REDEEMER, do I, with a lively faith, humbly lay hold of thy meritorious death and sufferings; hoping to be washed clean in thy precious blood from all my sins: in the bare hope of the happy consequences of which, how light do those sufferings seem (grievous as they were at the time) which, I confidently trust, will be a mean, by the grace, to work out for me a more exceeding and eternal weight of glory!
Signed, sealed, published, and declared, the day and year above-written, by the said Clarissa Harlowe, as her last will and testament; contained in seven sheets of paper, all written with her own hand, and every sheet signed and sealed by herself, in the presence of us,
John Williams, Arthur Bedall, Elizabeth Swanton.
COLONEL MORDEN, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
SAT. SEPT. 16.
I have been employed in a most melancholy task: in reading the will of the dear deceased.
The unhappy mother and Mrs. Norton chose to be absent on the affecting occasion. But Mrs. Harlowe made it her earnest request that every article of it should be fulfilled.
They were all extremely touched with the preamble.
The first words of the will–‘I, Clarissa Harlowe, now by strange melancholy accidents, lodging,’ &c. drew tears from some, sighs from all.
The directions for her funeral, in case she were or were not permitted to be carried down; the mention of her orders having been given for the manner of her being laid out, and the presence of mind so visible throughout the whole, obtained their admiration, expressed by hands and eyes lifted up, and by falling tears.
When I read the direction, ‘That her body was not to be viewed, except any of her relations should vouchsafe, for the last time, to look upon her;’ they turned away, and turned to me, three or four times alternately. Mrs. Hervey and Miss Arabella sobbed; the uncles wiped their eyes; the brother looked down; the father wrung his hands.
I was obliged to stop at the words, ‘That she was n.o.body’s.’
But when I came to the address to be made to the accursed man, ‘if he were not to be diverted from seeing her dead, whom ONCE before he had seen in a manner dead’—-execration, and either vows or wishes of revenge, filled every mouth.
These were still more fervently renewed, when they came to hear read her forgiveness of even this man.
You remember, Sir, on our first reading of the will in town, the observations I made on the foul play which it is evident the excellent creature met with from this abandoned man, and what I said upon the occasion. I am not used to repeat things of that nature.
The dear creature’s n.o.ble contempt of the nothing, as she n.o.bly calls it, about which she had been giving such particular directions, to wit, her body; and her apologizing for the particularity of those directions from the circ.u.mstances she was in–had the same, and as strong an effect upon me, as when I first read the animated paragraph; and, pointed by my eye, (by turns cast upon them all,) affected them all.
When the article was read which bequeathed to the father the grandfather’s estate, and the reason a.s.signed for it, (so generous and so dutiful,) the father could sit no longer; but withdrew, wiping his eyes, and lifting up his spread hands at Mr. James Harlowe; who rose to attend him to the door, as Arabella likewise did—-All he could say–O Son!
Son!–O Girl! Girl!–as if he reproached them for the parts they had acted, and put him upon acting.
But yet, on some occasions, this brother and sister showed themselves to be true will disputants.
Let tongue and eyes express what they will, Mr. Belford, the first reading of a will, where a person dies worth anything considerable, generally affords a true test of the relations’ love to the deceased.
The clothes, the thirty guineas for mourning to Mrs. Norton, with the recommendation of the good woman for housekeeper at The Grove, were thought sufficient, had the article of 600. which was called monstrous, been omitted. Some other pa.s.sages in the will were called flights, and such whimsies as distinguish people of imagination from those of judgment.
My cousin Dolly Hervey was grudged the library. Miss Harlowe said, That as she and her sister never bought the same books, she would take that to herself, and would make it up to her cousin Dolly one way or other.
I intend, Mr. Belford, to save you the trouble of interposing–the library shall be my cousin Dolly’s.
Mrs. Hervey could hardly keep her seat. On this occasion, however, she only said, That her late dear and ever dear niece, was too glad to her and hers. But, at another time, she declared, with tears, that she could not forgive herself for a letter she wrote,* looking at Miss Arabella, whom, it seems, unknown to any body, she had consulted before she wrote it and which, she said, must have wounded a spirit, that now she saw had been too deeply wounded before.
* See Vol. III. Letter LII.
O my Aunt, said Arabella, no more of that!–Who would have thought that the dear creature had been such a penitent?
Mr. John and Mr. Antony Harlowe were so much affected with the articles in their favour, (bequeathed to them without a word or hint of reproach or recrimination,) that they broke out into self-accusations; and lamented that their sweet niece, as they called her, was not got above all grateful acknowledgement and returns. Indeed, the mutual upbraidings and grief of all present, upon those articles in which every one was remembered for good, so often interrupted me, that the reading took up above six hours. But curses upon the accursed man were a refuge to which they often resorted to exonerate themselves.
How wounding a thing, Mr. Belford, is a generous and well-distinguished forgiveness! What revenge can be more effectual, and more n.o.ble, were revenge intended, and were it wished to strike remorse into a guilty or ungrateful heart! But my dear cousin’s motives were all duty and love.
She seems indeed to have been, as much as a mortal could be, LOVE itself.
Love sublimed by a purity, by a true delicacy, that hardly any woman before her could boast of. O Mr. Belford, what an example would she have given in every station of life, (as wife, mother, mistress, friend,) had her lot fallen upon a man blessed with a mind like her own!
The 600. bequeathed to Mrs. Norton, the library to Miss Hervey, and the remembrances to Miss Howe, were not the only articles grudged. Yet to what purpose did they regret the pecuniary bequests, when the poor’s fund, and not themselves, would have had the benefit, had not those legacies been bequeathed?
But enough pa.s.sed to convince me that my cousin was absolutely right in her choice of an executor out of the family. Had she chosen one in it, I dare say that her will would have been no more regarded than if it had been the will of a dead king; than that of Lousi XIV. in particular; so flagrantly broken through by his nephew the Duke of Orleans before he was cold. The only will of that monarch, perhaps, which was ever disputed.
But little does Mr. James Harlowe think that, while he is grasping at hundreds, he will, most probably, lose thousands, if he be my survivor.
A man of a spirit so selfish and narrow shall not be my heir.
You will better conceive, Mr. Belford, than I can express, how much they were touched at the hint that the dear creature had been obliged to part with some of her clothes.
Silent reproach seized every one of them when I came to the pa.s.sage where she mentions that she deferred filling up some blanks, in hopes of receiving their last blessing and forgiveness.
I will only add, that they could not bear to hear read the concluding part, so solemnly addressed to her Redeemer. They all arose from their seats, and crowded out of the apartment we were in; and then, as I afterwards found, separated, in order to seek that consolation in solitary retirement, which, though they could not hope for from their own reflections, yet, at the time, they had less reason to expect in each other’s company. I am, Sir,
Your faithful and obedient servant, WILLIAM MORDEN.
MR. BELFORD, TO THE RIGHT HON. LORD M.
LONDON, SEPT. 14.
I am very apprehensive that the affair between Mr. Lovelace and the late excellent Miss Clarissa Harlowe will be attended with farther bad consequences, notwithstanding her dying injunctions to the contrary. I would, therefore, humbly propose that your Lordship, and his other relations, will forward the purpose your kinsman lately had to go abroad; where I hope he will stay till all is blown over. But as he will not stir, if he knew the true motives of your wishes, the avowed inducement, as I hinted once to Mr. Mowbray, may be such as respects his own health both of person and mind. To Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville all countries are alike; and they perhaps will accompany him.
I am glad to hear that he is in a way of recovery; but this the rather induces me to press the matter. I think no time should be lost.
Your Lordship had head that I have the honour to be the executor of this admirable lady’s last will. I transcribe from it the following paragraph.
[He then transcribes the article which so gratefully mentions this n.o.bleman, and the ladies of his family, in relation to the rings she bequeaths them, about which he desires their commands.]