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Richardson saw four editions through the press during his lifetime: the first in 1748 (actually published in three installments: Vols. I-II, December 1, 1747; Vols. III-IV, April 28, 1748; Vols. V-VII, December 6, 1748); the second in 1749, which consists of only the first four volumes of his novel; the third in 1751; and the fourth in 1759.[7] Following Sale's practice, I count the one printed in 1759 as the fourth edition. A deluxe "fourth" edition in octavo was published simultaneously with the less expensive third in duodecimo (1751), but since it is identical in text with the third, I have not included it in my study.


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By the time Richardson was preparing his third installment (Vols. V-VII) for printing in December 1748, almost a year after the first two volumes had appeared, he realized he would soon need a new edition. For this reason he printed enough copies of the third installment to accompany a new printing of Volumes I-IV. This is why the second edition consists of only four volumes, or approximately one-half of the novel. It terminates with Clarissa's escape to Hampstead Heath and Lovelace's new schemes to recapture her. This new printing of Volumes I-IV was offered to the public on June 15, 1749, only six months after the third and final installment of the first edition. Since the truncated second edition has no new Volumes V-VII of its own, any collation must reckon with this fact. From the point of view of the evolution of the text, the second or intermediate stage between 1748 and 1751 is only partly complete. Volumes V-VIII of the third edition must be compared directly with Volumes V-VIII of the first.

It is probable that Richardson made some changes right on the manuscript or proof sheets of the third installment before they actually were printed for the first time. His letter of May 10, 1748 lends plausibility to the assumption that he may have been planning his revised second version even while preparing the last three volumes of his first one. Written only three months after the initial publication of Volumes I-IV, this letter indicates that he planned to recast the final three volumes extensively: "I know not whether it [Clarissa] has not suffer'd by the Catastrophe's being too much known and talked of. . . . I had never, however, designed that the Catastrophe should be known before Publication; . . . I have so greatly alter'd the two last Volumes, that one half of the Sequel must be new written."[8] It is not unlikely that while rewriting during the next seven months, he may well have been marking his first four volumes in preparation for the second edition. He already knew he needed it.

Richardson certainly prepared his 1749 text meticulously. Almost every page contains at least one substantive change, most contain from two to eight or more. Over 1,000 changes occur in Volume I alone, and each of the other volumes is revised as thoroughly. The majority of smaller revisions are designed to correct and elevate the text in tone, as well as to render it more concrete and vivid. Syntax becomes smoother; grammar is corrected; diction is elevated; thousands of contractions are expanded; abbreviations and numbers are spelled out.[9]


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All this creates a more carefully polished text to replace the first printed edition.

In the matter of grammar alone, hundreds and hundreds of minute changes are systematically inserted into the text. Subjects are frequently added ("Will receive" is changed to "I will receive"); understood verbs are made explicit ("against your" to "against taking your"); objects are inserted ("have her without" to "Have her without Marriage"); prepositions are included ("man whom" to "man to whom"); conjunctions are filled in ("thinks I have" to "thinks that I have"); and many dangling prepositional constructions are eliminated ("I ought to have been bound by" to "by which I ought to have been bound"). Verb tenses are altered selectively ("has not" to "had not," "cheapens" to "cheapened," "were" to "was" but also "was" to "were," "shall" to "should," etc.); the past participle of some verbs is changed, though not consistently ("forbid" to "forbidden," "broke" to "broken," "forgot" to "forgotten," "shook" to "shaken"); the subjunctive is now more often employed ("If that comes to pass" to "if that come to pass"); conjunctions are altered ("But" to "Altho'"); adverbs are corrected ("Sure" to "Surely"); and fourteen comparative adjectives are revised ("the charming'st women" to "the most charming," "cruellest" to "most cruel," "favourablest" to "most favourable," etc.).

At least 200 pronouns were altered to clarify the meaning of specific sentences and to achieve greater concreteness. Thirty instances of the indefinite pronoun "one" or "one's" were eliminated in favor of personal pronouns or descriptive nouns such as "we," "our," "a Libertine," "the blusterer," etc. In at least 170 other cases, Richardson changed a pronoun to a noun, or a common noun to a proper noun, for greater precision in his meaning: "he" becomes "The Captain," "Mr. Lovelace," "Mr. Hickman," etc.; "she" becomes "Mrs. Greme," "Miss Howe," "the good woman," etc.; "they" becomes "my Brother and Sister," "it" becomes "the parcel," "humour," "marriage," etc.; "theirs" becomes "the silly people," etc.

Richardson also sharpened his meaning by discriminating thoughts, actions, and things with more specificity. Clarissa reports that Lovelace contrived "some wicked stratagem" rather than "some way or other"; she worries that she will be "called uncivil" for refusing Miss Partington her bed rather than "called so"; she takes exception to Lovelace's "haughty looks" not "how he looked"; and Anna skirmishes with her


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mother over a prohibited "Letter" not a "paper." Other changes are widespread and they shift words like "person" to "woman," "sex" to "Men," "women" to "wives," "man" to "Lover," "This letter" to "my mother's Letter," "thing" to "proceeding," "That" to "Over-delicacy," etc.

A whole series of revisions is designed to smooth out confusing details and to clarify complex syntax structures. Many are too long to quote here, and not all of them are successful. But even a few examples of Richardson's shorter revisions will suggest what happens in his text. Clarissa's involuted reference to her brother James is changed from "unbrotherly nephew" to simply "my Brother"; her mention of "my father's family" becomes "our family," "more undelightful" becomes "and of consequence less pleasing," "for my mind's sake," becomes "for me," the "when" becomes the "time for it," "The contrary window," becomes "the most distant window," "was silent for a considerable space" becomes "was silent for some time," "she is full of fears of consequences" becomes "she is very fearful of the consequences," etc.

Another large set of revisions systematically alters various terms of address throughout the second edition. One of the most obvious patterns is the disappearance of Clarissa's childlike use of "mamma" and "papa." In 1749 Richardson consistently replaced these two words with the more restrained greeting "Mother" and "Father." Since there are 305 of these changes in Volume I alone, the difference in tone between the two editions is considerable. A second pattern affects the titles of Lovelace's family, members of the aristocratic class. Richardson professed ignorance of the proper modes of address while working on his last novel, Sir Charles Grandison, and appealed to his correspondents for help. His letter to Lady Dorothy Bradshaigh, dated October 5, 1753, indicates that he had been troubled by matters of social decorum even when writing his two earlier novels: "The Wonder at the Mistakes in Pamela and Clarissa, as to the Titles of Characters, will be lessened, when it is known, that my Ignorance of Proprietys of those Kinds, was one of the Causes; another that writing without a Plan."[10] We do not know where he received his help in 1749, but it is clear that he corrected 51 titles that designate Lovelace's relations: "Aunt Lawrance" is regularly emended to "Lady Betty" or "Lady Betty Lawrance,"; "his aunt Sadleir" to "Lady Sarah," or "Lady Sarah Sadleir"; Lovelace's "uncle" to "Lord M." or "his Lordship."

A more formal tone is introduced even for characters in the novel who are not part of the nobility, although they are not addressed above


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their rank. Anna now writes to Clarissa of "Mr. Hickman" instead of "Hickman," and she instructs Clarissa to leave letters for her at "Mr. Wilson's" not "Wilson's." Lovelace now speaks of "Mrs. Howe" not "Goody Howe," and on one occasion the servant Hannah is called by her proper name instead of "wench." On the other hand, Richardson substituted a more personal mode of address on fourteen occasions when Clarissa is being named. In the first edition he had allowed her family and close friends to call her occasionally "Clarissa Harlowe" or "Miss Clarissa Harlowe." He now gains greater realism by having her addressed intimately as "Clarissa" or "Clary."

Richardson's effort to imitate contemporary modes of address in his fiction is also reflected in 72 changes he made from "Gentleman" and "Lady" to "man" and "woman." Many of these 72 changes identify more accurately Clarissa's middle-class background, revealing the author's scrupulous attention to the social distinctions of his time. We recall that at one point in the novel Clarissa's uncle John Harlowe describes her manners and behavior as typical of the upper classes, in contrast to Arabella's commonness: "No, it was your gentleness of heart and manners, that made every-body, even strangers, at first sight, treat you as a Lady, and call you a Lady, tho' not born one, while your elder Sister had no such distinctions paid her" (2nd ed., II, 85). Although Richardson does not alter John Harlowe's praise of his niece, he does make his second edition reflect class distinctions with greater precision. One very telling longer revision omits six lines of text that had appeared in the first edition. Clarissa had written to Anna Howe that Lovelace insists upon addressing her as Lady, even though a marriage had not yet taken place: "Lady he calls me, at every word, perhaps in compliment to himself. As I endeavour to repeat his words with exactness, you'll be pleased, once for all, to excuse me for repeating This. I have no title to it. And I am sure I am too much mortify'd at present to take any pride in that, or any other of his compliments" (1st ed., III, 94). Perhaps Richardson was most concerned that Clarissa's dwelling upon the matter belied her stated disinterest in the compliment. But consistent with this deletion, he also altered references to her as "Lady" throughout the text, changing them to words like "woman," "person," "sweet creature," "Fair-one," and others.

The word "gentleman" posed a similar problem for Richardson and he solved it in essentially the same way. Richardson thought of "gentleman" not only as a word which designates a man of noble birth, but also as one which in its secondary sense describes a man whose conduct conforms to a high standard of moral excellence. How then would he designate Lovelace and his companions, whose libertine lives


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gave them no right to the title, though their social class did? Richardson puzzles over this contradiction even in the first edition: he has Clarissa use the term to describe Lovelace's four friends to Anna, after which she comments on the paradox it contains: "But to the gentlemen, as they must be called in right of their ancestors, it seems; for no other do they appear to have" (III, 322). Richardson did not revise this statement by Clarissa in the second edition, but he did alter one reference by her to these same men six pages later, from "four gentlemen" to "four men."

Other revisions of "lady" or "gentleman" show Richardson continuing to select more strict class distinctions; at the same time he universalized moral issues that are not limited exclusively to members of one social class. Belford no longer speaks of Lovelace's "trial upon young ladies," but extends it to "young women"; Lovelace now comments on devices to "deceive a woman" not just "a lady." The "gentlewoman of the inn" at St. Albans, where Clarissa and Lovelace stop after leaving Harlowe Place, now becomes "the mistress of the house." Arabella calls Solmes "a naughty man" instead of "a naughty gentleman," and Clarissa angers her brother when she reminds him that "a young man's education" (not "a young gentleman's") should train him to reason justly and control his passions — what the university very obviously failed to do in James Harlowe's case!

Perhaps to achieve elegance, and perhaps to heighten his story's tragic quality, Richardson made many changes in the diction of his characters. Colloquialisms are replaced by finer speech, and dozens of words the author newly invented are revised or eliminated. We know that Richardson encountered public criticism for his freedoms with the English language. In 1754, after the publication of Sir Charles Grandison, an anonymous pamphleteer attacked Richardson's choice of language: "That your writings have in a great measure corrupted our language and taste, is a truth that cannot be denied. The consequences abundantly shew it. By the extraordinary success you have met with, if you are not to be reckoned a classical author, there is certainly a very bad taste prevailing at present. Our language, though capable of great improvements, has, I imagine, been for some time on the decline, and your works have a manifest tendency to hasten that on, and corrupt it still farther."[11] This critic also expresses his fear that many of Richardson's "new-coin'd words and phrases" will be imitated by other writers until they are finally transferred to a dictionary by some


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industrious compiler, there to be sanctioned by Richardson's "great Authority." The prophecy was at least partly fulfilled quite soon, for in the very next year (1755) Dr. Johnson's dictionary came out, containing ninety-seven entries culled from Clarissa alone.[12]

As an innovator, Richardson often invented new words for unusual effects ("figaries," "tostications," "precautionaries") and he manipulated standard ones in unorthodox ways. Sometimes he merely hyphenated a conventional word and placed the stressed portion in italics ("un-question-able," "unper-suade-able," "ap-pa-rent," "in-ten-tion," "oppor-tune-ly"), imitating on paper oral patterns of intonation. In other instances, he added prefixes or suffixes ("un-busy," "un-shy," "promiser-er") for expressive emphasis. He also invented compound adjectives, such as "struggled-away cheek" to incorporate the agent's action within the modifier.

In 1749 Richardson revised many of these experiments. Forty-six hyphenated words like "ap-pa-rent" were standardized in the second edition by dropping hyphens and italics; newly invented nouns, like the feminine forms "survivress," "Rivalress," and "varletesses" were replaced by conventional nouns, "survivor," "Rival," and "Rogues." Clarissa now calls Betty "The confident creature" (not "The Confidence"), and she refers to her family's "dependence" upon her past good conduct (not their "dependencies"). Certain compound adjectives are also simplified: James Harlowe's "college-begun antipathy" to Lovelace becomes his "early antipathy"; Clarissa tells Lovelace that his offers to reform are just so many "anticipating concessions" instead of "stop-mouth concessions." Arabella's claim that Clarissa "next-to-bewitch'd people" becomes "half-bewitched people"; Lovelace gives Clarissa's "averted cheek" a kiss rather than her "struggled-away" one. Clarissa's closing lines to Anna are changed three times from "ever-affectionate" friend to "affectionate," and dropped one other time; "Your ever-obliged CL. HARLOWE" is changed to "CL. HARLOWE" once, and dropped altogether once. Other changes turn "over-ceremonious husband" to "ceremonious husband," "beg-pardon apologies" to "apologies," "all-excelling Sister" to "Sister, "lifted-up" to "uplifted," "over-promptitude" to "promptitude," etc.

Reflecting the nobler tone of the second edition, some colorful colloquialisms are replaced with more dignified expressions. Clarissa's phrase "sooner than it agrees with my stomach" becomes "sooner than I should otherwise chuse"; "had told" becomes "had numbered."


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Clarissa speculates that Joseph Leman "acts a double part" between her brother and Lovelace rather than "plays booty." Lovelace speaks of "this cursed family" instead of "these cursed folks." Anna reports that her fiancé Hickman "dismounted" not "alit," and Clarissa "began to vindicate her fidelity and Love" instead of "fell a vindicating." James Harlowe storms out of Clarissa's room with "a glowing face" instead of a "face as red as scarlet." Anna speaks of Clarissa's "non-compliance" with her family's wishes instead of "standing-out." She "listened" instead of "harken'd." Clarissa insists that her "father loved me in his heart" instead of "loved me at bottom." Lovelace calls on the Devil of Love "not to frustrate my hopes" instead of "not to play me booty." He addresses Belford as the "awkward fellow" not "puppy," and as a "mortal" not a "varlet." He describes James Harlowe as "The foolish Brother" not the "Cunning whelp the brother," himself as a "bashful mortal" not a "bashful whelp." Clarissa is urged by Anna to "escape" or "withdraw" instead of "to go off." She is "in bed," not "abed." Lovelace speaks of "a high degree" not "a damn'd degree," "d-----d Art" becomes "Female Art," "a d----n'd impudent thing" becomes "an impudent Thing," although "what a d---n'd thing" remains as "what a damn'd thing." Finally, six expletives that use the name "God" or "Lord" are softened to "Heaven" ("for God's sake" to "for Heaven's sake").

Certain minor revisions are used to intensify the lines of action in the novel, and to delineate characters more pointedly. Lovelace's "faulty morals" becomes "his repeated faulty morals"; he is described as "that detested Libertine," not "that Libertine." Mr. Harlowe now is described as a "severe Father," not just an "unkind" one, and James and Arabella's 'implacableness" is changed to "antipathy." Clarissa is "so highly provoked," not "so provoked"; she goes to the "extorted interview" with Solmes, or the "apprehended interview," rather than simply "the interview." But on the other hand, Richardson also deleted modifiers: Clarissa speaks of "the subject" of marriage to Solmes, rather than "the shocking subject." She describes herself to him as a "young creature," not "a poor young creature." Betty becomes "sullen" when silenced by Clarissa, not "quite sullen," and Anna is thanked for "the pains" she took on Clarissa's behalf, not "the kind pains."

Increased use of italics in the second edition highlights key words, passages, and details. This device had already been used in the first edition for emphasis, but in 1749 Richardson took even greater care to show that his heroine exercised as much precaution as possible in proposing conditions to Lovelace before leaving Harlowe Place. His Forster memorandum lists two new examples of added italics, but there


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are dozens of other instances — some simply one word, some much larger — that he does not identify.[13] Italics are particularly significant in the second volume, when Clarissa is relying on Lovelace's promise to put her under the protection of the ladies in his family. Each of the promises he makes to her while she is still at Harlowe Place is newly underscored to stress his later betrayal, and her innocence.

In addition to these various larger patterns of changes made in the second edition, a number of specific items were altered. Richardson began to spell Dr. Lewin as Dr. Lewen; in Volume II he replaced an inaccurate allusion to Ariadne with the name Arachne, the expert weaver who challenged Athene to a contest, whose talent Lovelace compares to Clarissa's skill in embroidery. He also identifies correctly in that same volume Caesar's third wife as Pompeia (not Calpurnia), and he changes an allusion by Lovelace from Mulciber to Satan. Along with these specific corrections, he made several hundred single word changes that need to be looked at individually: "violence" to "passion," "bequeath" to "devise," "daughter" to "child," "delicate" to "polite," etc.

Given these myriad small changes, what is their distinctive effect on the second edition? Is Clarissa finally a better or worse novel for these efforts in 1749? No simple answer can be formulated, for gains and losses both emerge, in great variety as well as in numbers, when the second edition is compared with its predecessor. Each text compromises some of the most attractive features of the other. It must be noted too that many small revisions, quite apart from those that clearly enhance or mar the text, neither increase nor diminish the aesthetic pleasure aroused by this novel, nor do they markedly transform this pleasure from one variety into some other kind. Such changes, being indeterminate in functional impact, need not have been made. They offer no decisive reasons for choosing either version over the other, yet they must be counted among the literal facts pertinent to any detailed study of Richardson's skill in refining his art.

Even from a study of its small changes alone, it is clear that the virtues of the second edition, despite its truncated state, are several. Much of the polishing of minor matters clearly provides readers with better prose: more concrete, more precise in its meaning, more pointed in its internal references, more accurate in its use of allusion and historical example — in short, a more readable text. Happily, a fair number of awkward inventions are dropped. Not all of the words


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Richardson newly coined for his first edition are successful. In 1749 he weeded out many of the more infelicitous ones, as well as other distracting verbalisms and stylistic idiosyncrasies of various sorts, without sacrificing the illusion of spontaneity.

It is to his credit, too, that Richardson improved the capacity of his novel to mirror more exactly the modes of address appropriate to the social strata of his day. This is fully consistent with his theory of the novel as a fiction that achieves emotional and instructive power by imitating the nexus of probabilities typical of life, by being "written to nature." Given his experiential handicap with respect to the aristocracy, this should not be taken for granted. More impressive, however, is his subtle effort to refine his art in universal terms, employing deft touches here and there to release his novel from unnecessary bondage to class distinctions. His tale of deception and sorrow transcends, even while it more carefully builds upon them, the passing accidents of birth, and certain small changes in the second edition reinforce this powerful thrust.

Some freshness is sacrificed (though this loss can easily be exaggerated in a novel of such length, density, and minute detail) by still other revisions designed to improve the prose. However, corrections in grammar do not automatically spoil the refreshing verve of letters "written to the moment," nor do they necessarily render the novel's tone rigidly "formal." It is easier to see that freshness is lost in those cases where Richardson's concern for propriety led him to discard certain colorful colloquialisms, oaths, and expletives that originally added a distinct flavor to specific speeches. For good reason some were eliminated as inappropriate to the particular character speaking. Others seem to have been cut simply to raise the tone, but these, unfortunately, are not replaced by anything that secures this desired effect with comparable power or vibrancy.

A major case in point is Richardson's decision to substitute "Mother"-"Father" for the more appealing terms of endearment Clarissa uses in the first edition, "mamma"-"papa." Whatever his reasons were for this change, his creative instincts failed him in this matter. His heroine thereby lost a charming dimension that had helped to humanize her. This vivid sign of her own warm-hearted affection for her parents made their cruelty more poignant to watch. Indeed, if Richardson had succeeded in transforming his grave girl more fully, endowing her with undeniable warmth as well as with tragic grace, she would be delightful to encounter. Small changes are not all he wrought, however, and I now will examine the larger revisions introduced in 1749.