We have two more letters after the antepenultimate. There is one dated from Trent, Dec. 3-14 (No 536, Ross Penguin, pp 1484-6) in which Lovelace seems utterly confident it would not be he who would die. His behavior is of course matched by Morden's who seems equally so superconfident he determines to give Lovelace the choice of a weapon Lovelace was thought to be superior in. Both are proud, coldly murderous, macho males. One can almost see them outside some 20th century bar.

Then from Trent on the 18th F.J. DeLaTour writes Belford to describe Lovelace's death in the early morning hours of the 16th. People do often die in the early morning hours. The duelling scene moves swiftly; Lovelace would have murdered Morden could he have; he is given an opportunity to back down, as both men would still have been deemed "honorable" when they had both wounded one another, but he would not yield. Both act chivalrously and courteously, and the scene is tactful, gracious, vividly done in Richardson's best pictorial-dramatic mode.

But of course their courtesy is a sham, their chivalry the cant chivalry of the world. Lovelace's death is presented as an agon, but again it is concisely and tactfully, suggestively moved over. I think in despite of himself Richardson does feel sympathy for his hero-villain in the inward visions as we see Lovelace uttering his response, as well as in his first words when killed,

'Oh my beloved Clarissa!--Now thou art--Inwardly he spoke three or four words more.'

He vomits up a good deal of blood. They have a hard time controlling the blood during the carriage ride. It is necessary to hide what has happened. When he dies, it is thought that he is praying to Clarissa. A Roman Catholic thought? My view is she possesses him as he had possessed her. They are eternally knit into one another, a Tristan and Isolde for their era.

The piece ends somberly and realistically with the servant worried about money and what to do with the remains when the law has so obviously been flouted.

Ellen Moody

Other posts under this date in the novel:
             Conclusion and Postscript
             A Parody of Clarissa

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