I'd like to suggest from today's letters that, if it be that Richardson actually thought in terms of calendared letters--which I have been trying to suggest he didn't always at least while he was first writing them, but only interwove them together later--if it be Richardson worked in terms of the calendar, thought about real time, he wrote these letters in order to present a juxtaposition Lovelace's letter to Belford with the exchange of Clary and the commonplace cruelty (and therefore all the more riveting) of Mrs Howe.
How cruel is Mrs Howe, and how in character with the world: the nasty dig at the end: _mistofrtune makes people plaintive_ says it all. Yet she likes to think well of herself, her motives being of the best, so signs "Your compassionating well-wisher..." The breathless frank letter of Clarissa juxtaposed to this cold heart renews our sympathy for her heroine. Is she yet safe? We do not know.
Lovelace, on the other hand, is himself.
The letter gives is another virtuouso performance
like the one in which he imagined himself
paraded through town. Instead of understanding
that what he has on his hands is a traumatized,
isolated, anguished and self-lacerated
human being, he thinks of Clarissa as a kind
of doll, "pretty little miss;" whatever truth
he does capture about her pride, it's not
much compared to his, and again, as before,
she's not really human to him, a thing, a toy;
again we are with the morality of a child and
many people. He says again he would marry
her if she would, but a motive here is to cover
up his lies and the rape, saying he's not anxious
to duel with any member of her family, not he's
not unwilling neither. His hatred of them shows
how far he is from understanding what would
make her happy, which, more than slightly
incomprehensible as it is to this reader, includes
living within the bosom of this family.
Then there's his regret over Lord M's recovery.
He went down to take over, and notices that
now that Lord M's recovered, he's _Cousin Bobby_
again. Probably true, but Richardson expects
us to notice his lack of feeling for his
uncle. By-the-bye he's not Bob to his relatives
or to his rakish friends, but Bobby. Belford
calls him Lovelace, he calls himself Bob to
Belford. So Bobby and Clary.
It struck me yesterday that I have never read
any considered criticism of Belford as a more
than a virtuous hero (in the manner of Golden).
Belford is in a way the real hero of the book;
he replaces Lovelace. In the book this is
psychologically persuasive, for there is competition
between them throughout; but he also is
more than a mouthpiece for Richardson.
I find him appealing--and can see why David
Nokes gave him the roles Mordren ought
to have played, had Morden been a more
humane sensitive and enlightened man..
Belford does become Clarissa's one real friend, in
some ways a better friend than Anna for he has
a more realistic idea of the world. He's also
the rake turned sober, but far more convincingly
than 5th act repentances in order to win
the heroine. Perhaps he ought to be more
studied both as to presentation, history, and
the values he embodies by the end of the book.
Would it have been hot in England on June
30th? In the years I lived there June was
a very chancy month; it was often as not,
to me at least, cold. I remember Virginia
Woolf talking of fires in June. At any
rate, Richardson makes very little of the
weather; it's not an element in the story at all.
We have been usually cool this past week in
Virginia, and today back to heat again.
To this Caroline Brashears replied: