Thursday morning: Heavy petting mutual, Clarissa responds

What Lovelace does not seem to realize even a little bit is that Clarissa has responded, that the heavy petting was mutual, and that she is running away from herself:

"And now Belford, reflect upon the distance ... how long I had laid wait... think how ungovernable must be my transports in those happy moments!--And yet, in my own account, I was both decent and generous. The following lines, altered to the first person, come nearest of any I can recollect, to the rapturous occasion:

Bowing, I kneel'd, and her forc'd hand I press'd, With sweet compulsion, to my beating breast; O'er it, in ecstasy, my lips bent low, And tides of sighs 'twixt her grasp'd fingers flow, High beat my hurry'd pulse, at each fierce kiss, And ev'ry burning sinew ach'd with bliss.

But, far from being affected by an address so fervent (although from a man she had so lately owned a regard for, and with whom, but an hour or two before, she had parted wiht so much satisfaction), that I never saw a bittered, or more moving grief, when she came fully to herself.... (Ross Penguin, Let 225, p 724)

When she came fully to herself? Where was she when she was not fully conscious to herself. It seems she was affected "by an address so fervent" and responded in kind.

The series of letters "To Mr Lovelace;" "To Mrs Lovelace" reminded me of earlier epistolary icings on the cake (to borrow a term from RA Day's book, Told in Letters_, but what's interesting there is she never admits it is herself she was immediately so bitter about, she who betrayed herself. She blames him only. Vile man, and the rest of it. To the 20th century reader were she able to be as frank as she is in that rare moment about "the strength to keep my passions under," this series of scenes would draw our sympathy much more fully.

How close they've become:

I do, I _do_ forgive you!
Yes, heartily?
And freely?
Freely! ... (p 727)

And they kiss...

The scenes of her running away are superbly well done, the external description captures the internal realities of both Lovelace and Clarissa very well.

Why can't he see it? Even more why does Richardson thereby through him deny what we see? Because neither can fully admit the girl has in her deep wells of sexual passion; she could dissolve away into some connection beyond time. It's the old anti-feminism; if a woman has sexual passion, she must become a vulture&c.&c

Ellen Moody

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