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PREFACE. platform, Few novels have ever been so widely and highly praised as “ The History of Clarissa Harlowe.” At the time of its first appearance, more than a century ago, it was read and wept over, and talked aboyt by every one in England who could read at all; much more literally than even of Dickens' novels, it can be said that it reached the entire reading class. Nor was this merely a popular success. Sherlock commended it (and “Pamela ") from the pulpil; Pope praised it in terms unusual with him ; Doctor Johnson declared it to be the first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart; Sir James Mackintosh thought it the finest work of fiction ever written in any language: Sir Walter Scott said that “no work had appeared before, perhaps none has appeared since, containing such direct appeals to the passions in a manner so irresistible; and Lord Macaulay is reported to have known it almost by heart. In France, too, the fame of Richardson reached an eminence scarcely ever attained there by a foreign author. Diderot and Rousseau compared hird with Homer; and it is said that for many years Frenchmen visiting England were wont to seek the Flask Walk at Hampsteadthe scene of one of the episodes in “Clarissa"-in the belief that the novel recorded historic fact: More than this, the two principal characters of the story have pàszed into literature and conversa. tion as types; and thousands use Lovelace and Clarissa as standards of comparison without any idea of how they got their attributes. Why is it then that, outside a small circle of scholars and
а critics, we so scldcm meet with any.cne nowadays, who has read
no Clarissa "? The chief reason is not far to seek. A glance at thc work reveals it at once; for twenty-four hundred closely printed pages would frighten the vast majority of modern readers away from a story even more fascinating than this. Fortunately Richardson, more easily perhaps than any other great writer, bears abridgment. His plots are singularly simple; the essential incidents and episodes are not numerous ; and his style is a marvel of amplitude and redundancy. Of course, this very
redundancy of style has a certain charm for readers with exhaustless leisure and patience; but on the other hand it has rendered the task of adapting his work to readers of another kind more satisfactory in the performance than is usual in such cases.
In the following abridgment the Editor has confined himselt to eliminating superfluous and irrelevant matter. Only in three or four instances has he added so much as a note; and the language, the punctuation, even the divisions into sentences and paragraphs, are the same as in the original work. In the elisions also, the Editor's object has been to preserve all the characteristic features of “Clarissa ” as Richardson wrote it. The “indelicacy" (as it is termed) of that work, was not obvious in the last century even to a church dignitary; and it is evident, from the correspondence and memoirs of the period, that this fault, if Richardson can be taxed with it, did not strike any of his contemporaries. The truth is, he presents scenes rather nakedly which would be avoided or but slightly touched by an equally reputable novelist of our day. But his purpose is always good; he always aims at exalting virtue and condemning vice. He may be occasionally coarse. but he is never immoral; and apart from its interest as a story and study of human nature, “Clarissa ” is of the utmost value as an absolutely truthful picture of English society in the latter part of the last century.
C. H. J.
Miss Anna Howe to Miss Clarissa Harlowe.
Jan. 10. I AM extremely concerned, my dearest friend, for the disturb ances that have happened in your family. I know how it musi hurt you to become the subject of the public talk : and yet upon an occasion so generally known, it is impossible but that whatever relates to a young lady whose distinguished merits have made her the public care, should engage every body's attention. Hong to have the particulars from yourself; and of the usage I am told you receive upon an accident you could not help ; and in which, as far as I can learn, the sufferer was the aggressor.
Mr. Diggs, the surgeon, whom I sent for at the first hearing of the rencounter, to inquire, for your sake, how your brother was, told me, that there was no danger from the wound, if there were none from the fever ; which it seems had been increased by the perturbation of his spirits.
Mr. Wyerley drank tea with us yesterday: and though he is far from being partial to Mr. Lovelace, as it may be well supposed, yet both he and Mr. Symmes blame your family for the treatment
they gave him when he went in person to inquire after your 3 brother's health, and to express his concern for what had happened.
They say that Mr. Lovelace could not avoid drawing his sword. and that either your brother's unskilfulness or passion left him from the very first pass entirely in his power.
As all your friends without doors are apprehensive that some other unhappy event may result from so violent a contention, in which it seems the families on both sides are now engaged, I must desire you to enable me, on the authority of your own information, to do you occasional justice.
My mother, and all of us, like the rest of the world, talk of nobody but you on this occasion, and of the consequences which may follow from the resentments of a man of Mr. Lovelace's spirit; who, as he gives out, has been treated with high indignity by your uncles. My mother will have it, that you cannot now, with any decency, either see him, or correspond with him. She is a good deal prepossessed by your uncle Antony; who occasionally calls upon us, as you know; and on this rencounter, has represented to her the crime which it would be in a sister to encourage a man who is to wade into her favor (this was his expression) through the blood of her brother.
Write to me therefore, my dear, the whole of your story from the time that Mr. Lovelace was first introduced into your family; and particularly an account of all that passed between him and your sister; about which there are different reports ; some people scrupling not to insinuate that the younger sister has stolen a lover from the elder: and pray write in so full a manner as may satisfy those who know not so much of your affairs as I do. If anything unhappy should fall out from the violence of such spirits as you have to deal with, your account of all things previous to it will be your best justification. Your ever grateful and affectionate,
Miss Clarissa Harlowe 'to Miss Howe.
every one else.
Harlowe Place, Jan. 13. Our family has indeed been strangely discomposed.-Discomposed !-It has been in tumults, ever since the unhappy transaction; and I have borne all the blame; yet should have had tou much concern from myself, had I been more justly spared by
For, whether it be owing to a faulty impatience, having been too indulgently treated to be inured to blame, or to the regret I have to hear those censured on my account whom it is my duty to vindicate; I have sometimes wished, that it had pleased God to have taken me in my last fever, when I had every body's love and good opinion ; but oftener that I had never been distinguished by my grandfather as I was: since that distinction has estranged from me my brother's and sister's affections; at least, has raised a jealousy with regard to the apprehended favor of my two uncles, that now and then overshadows their love.
My brother being happily recovered of his fever, and his wound in a hopeful way, although he has not yet ventured abroad, I will be as particular as you desire in the little history