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Clarissa

Samuel Richardson

Letters 79–110

Letters 33–78

Letters 79–110, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary

Clarissa’s pens, ink, and paper are taken away, but she continues to write with her concealed stash. Lovelace threatens to interfere if Clarissa is taken to her uncle’s and suggests that she run away to his relatives’ house. Anna writes that her mother has refused to take Clarissa in. She suggests that Clarissa sneak away to London, where she can hide until Cousin Morden arrives and offers to accompany her. Clarissa defends Mrs. Howe’s right to refuse her and blames herself for corresponding with Lovelace against her parents’ injunction. She refuses to consider Anna’s offer, but she asks if Anna could find her some transportation to London.

The Harlowes learn that Lovelace has assembled a band of armed men to waylay them if they take Clarissa to her uncle’s. They are incensed but decide not to go through with the plan. Instead, they order a license so Clarissa can be married in her own room on the following Wednesday. Seeing no way out, Clarissa writes to Lovelace that she will meet him Monday night near the summer house, and she brings the letter to Lovelace’s pick-up spot. But she is uneasy, and that night she has a dream in which Lovelace carries her to a churchyard, stabs her, and throws her into a grave in which other bodies are already decomposing. On waking she finds that Lovelace has taken her letter, and she wishes she could have gotten it back first.

Anna writes that she cannot find a way to get Clarissa to London. She insists that the duties of friendship compel Clarissa to accept her assistance. If Clarissa decides to go off with Lovelace instead, Anna recommends that she marry him immediately.

Lovelace writes that his cousin Charlotte, who was supposed to escort Clarissa in her escape, is ill. This, combined with Clarissa’s reflections on the difficulty of renouncing Lovelace if she goes away with him, leads her to write to Lovelace and cancel the plan. While all the other letters to Lovelace had been retrieved immediately, this one lies where she has left it until the day appointed for the escape. Dolly writes to Clarissa to warn her that she will be forced into marriage on Wednesday, but Clarissa decides to risk staying. Since Lovelace has still not retrieved the letter, Clarissa resolves to meet him as planned, fearing that if she does not, he will go into the house and cause trouble. She writes to Anna from her summer house at eleven o’clock. Her Aunt Hervey has come to see her there and tries to comfort Clarissa with mysterious hints that all might not be as bad as she thinks. The hour of the appointment comes as she is writing, and she notes that her lines are getting shaky. She runs to deposit the letter before Lovelace arrives.

Her next letter, dated Tuesday morning, is written from a nearby town, St. Albans. It gives little information, but Clarissa blames herself for doing “a rash, an inexcusable thing, in meeting him” and asks Anna to send her linens. Anna is aghast at what Clarissa has done but says she loves her still and offers any help she can give. The letter is interrupted by the arrival of two young women at the Howe residence, apparently bearing the gossip about Clarissa’s elopement.

Clarissa writes to fill in the details of her flight: She meets Lovelace and tells him of the change in her plans. He breathlessly tells her that they must run, or that they will be discovered any moment. He will not let go of her hand and draws her out of the gate. They argue back and forth for some time, when finally Clarissa decides to turn back and call off the plan. She goes to re-enter through the gate when there is a commotion inside, followed by shouts about guns and pistols. (It’s later learned that the commotion is created by Joseph Leman on Lovelace’s instruction). Terrified and confused, Clarissa runs with Lovelace to his chariot. In their lodgings at St. Albans, Clarissa is filled with remorse and suspects that she has been tricked.

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