University of Virginia Library

Search this document 


expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
collapse section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 
expand section 

expand section 


Page 119


Unlike Richardson's thousands of changes in single words or small phrases, which have not been previously discussed by scholars, some of his many larger revisions have been known from his Forster memorandum, which selectively lists 102 "most Material" changes in the second edition. This document is the basis of Kinkead-Weekes' inquiry, but it was actually published as early as 1908 by Erich Poetzsche,[14] and mentioned by Sale in his bibliographical study in 1936.[15]

The memorandum was probably drawn up for Richardson's own records, since he was precise in his habits both as a printer and as an author. He identifies the volume and page number for each of the 102 passages, classifying each one according to whether it is an "Addition," "Large Insertion," "Omission," etc. Sometimes he indicates his reason for making the change, such as this important entry under Volume IV, page 65 — "A large Note added, in Defense of Clarissa's Character and Delicacy." The smallest passage is one printed line of text; the largest adds more than seven pages of material by expanding an exchange of letters between Lovelace and Joseph Leman from six to thirteen pages.

There is considerable diversity among these revisions, nor is Richardson's inventory by any means complete for all of the longer changes in the second edition. Counting one printed line as a minimum unit, my collation reveals there are at least 271 other changes (of one line or more) besides the 102 cited in his list. Many of these do not materially alter the structure of the plot, or significantly refine a character's feelings, actions or motivation (criteria which seem to guide Richardson's own selection in his Forster memorandum), but all of them increase our knowledge of the evolution of his text and his achievement as a craftsman.

Nonetheless, certain exclusions are in order. Since some revisions, notably those about Lovelace, have been discussed by Kinkead-Weekes and others, I will not take them up. For the same reasons, I will also exclude all the "editorial" footnotes except one contemporary allusion. Most of them serve to blacken Lovelace or to defend the heroine's delicacy.[16] Their various uses of the omniscient point of view set them off as a distinctive, easily identifiable group of changes, and their aesthetic value for this novel has been the subject of controversy. Many


Page 120
other revisions, of the 373 that are one line or longer, are too inconsequential to need examination here. I will present a varied sampling of Richardson's changes, concentrating on those that have not been treated in print, those which seem to produce the most essential changes in important elements of this novel (e.g. character, theme, technique, style), and those which most illuminate the author's creative habits and intentions.

The shaping of Lovelace and Clarissa had tested Richardson's ingenuity from the very beginning of his labors. In the case of his heroine, he struggled to achieve several purposes. Among these, he wanted her to be a faultless exemplum to young ladies. At the same time, she could not be completely perfect, or she would appear too unnatural and improbable as a girl of eighteen, not sufficiently well "written to nature," to achieve great artistic and instructive power. Both goals are explicitly stated in his surviving correspondence.

As early as October 29, 1748, while the last three volumes of Clarissa were still in manuscript, he spelled out his first objective in a letter to Aaron Hill: "I had further intended to make her so faultless, that a Reader should find no way to account for the Calamities she met with, and to justify Moral Equity but by looking up to a future Reward; another of my principal Doctrines; and one of my principal Views to inculcate in this Piece."[17] A second letter to Aaron Hill one month later invites him and the women of his family to locate those passages in the novel where Clarissa seems to lack delicacy or grace: "Your Dear Ladies will be so good as to honour me with their Censure and Correction, in such places . . . where my Clarissa wants Delicacy and Female Grace. I struggled, as I may say, to give her Failings, that I might not seem to have aimed at drawing a perfect Character. But that Delicacy and Propriety of Sex, which I think to be the Sex's Glory, I wou'd not have her want."[18]

In 1749, while he was preparing his second edition, he was still refining his heroine. Two remarkable revisions are designed to preserve Clarissa from any suspicion of deceit. The first edition had shown her planning a deception to forestall marriage to Solmes: "For fear they should have an earlier day in their intention, than that which will too soon come, I will begin to be very ill. Nor need I feign much; for indeed, I am extremely low, weak, and faint" (1st ed., II, 253). Clearly Richardson had tried to diminish her guilt by stressing the small scope of her intended action, but in doing so he overlooked a more troubling flaw: it is not the degree of her artifice, but her willingness to use it


Page 121
at all, which detracts from her innocence. Her ruse disappears in the revision: "And who knows, but they may have a still earlier day in their intention, than that which will too soon come?" (2nd ed., II, 251).

A second mention of a pretended illness eight pages later was also emended. This time Richardson's transformation is even more illuminating. He does not simply drop the scheme, but adroitly turns it into a blameless new device to postpone the dreaded marriage to Solmes. Initially, the passage read: "I am far from being well: Yet must I make myself worse than I am, preparative to the suspension I hope to obtain of the menaced evil of Wednesday next" (1st ed., II, 261). It becomes, "I am really ill. And shall make the worst of my indisposition, and not the best (as I used to do, for fear of making my friends uneasy) in hopes to obtain a suspension of the threatened evil of Wednesday next" (2nd ed., II, 259).

Several revisions focus on Clarissa's responsibility for her early correspondence with Lovelace. Though her parents forbade it, there must be continued contact between their daughter and Lovelace if the tragic tale is to be set in motion. The first edition stresses her helplessness in the affair, and her own lack of choice in her actions: "But being forced into a clandestine correspondence, indiscreet measures are fallen upon by the rash man, before I can be consulted: And between them, I have not an option, altho' my ruin [For is not the loss of reputation a ruin?] may be the dreadful consequence of the steps taken. What a perverse fate is mine" (1st ed., II, 228). Certain facts and circumstances are subtly reworked in 1749. The adjective "clandestine," with all its unmistakable connotations of deliberate illicit intrigue, is replaced by "unhappy" to direct attention to Clarissa's good intentions and unwanted misfortune. Her disobedience is also played down in the second version by adding a meritorious motive for it: "For altho' I was induced to carry on this unhappy correspondence, as I think I ought to call it, in hopes to prevent mischief; yet indiscreet measures are fallen upon by the rash man, before I, who am so much concerned in the event of the present contentions, can be consulted: And, between his violence on one hand, and that of my relations on the other, I find myself in danger from both" (2nd ed., II, 226).

A comparable refinement puts a different light on Clarissa's continued correspondence with Anna, after that too had been forbidden. Here again the problem is similar: to keep the narrative unbroken, the young ladies must remain in touch, yet the heroine must be preserved from equivocation. In the first edition, Clarissa rationalizes her action: "Yet (altho' I am ready sometimes to discontinue a correspondence so dear to me, in order to make your mamma easy) what


Page 122
hurt could a letter now-and-then from each do? — Mine occasionally filled with self-accusation too!" (1st ed., III, 70-71). Recast, this passage shows her willing to continue only if Mrs. Howe will renew her permission: "Yet as to this correspondence, what hurt could arise from it, if your Mother could be prevailed upon to permit it to be continued? — So much prudence and discretion as you have" (2nd ed., III, 70).

Another difficulty in the novel which the author puzzled over in his early drafts is the thorny problem of Clarissa's departure from Harlowe Place with Lovelace. Richardson had written to Aaron Hill in 1746 that "Going off with a man is, moreover, the Thing I wanted most to make inexcusable; and I thought I ought not to make a Clarissa, give a Sanction to such an highly undutiful and disreputable Procedure, from any common Motives."[19] One notable revision, however, makes her unplanned flight with Lovelace more excusable, not less so. In the first edition, Clarissa had written to Anna: "I own you might well be surprised; [I was myself; as by this time you will have seen] — after I had determin'd, too, so strongly against going away" (1st ed., III, 49). The new version puts greater stress on her fixed resolve to remain at Harlowe Place, as well as her passive role in the new turn of events: "I own, that after I had told you of my absolute determination not to go away with him, you might well be surprised, at your first hearing that I was actually gone. The Lord bless me, my dear, I myself, at times, can hardly believe it is I, that have been led to take so strange a step" (2nd ed., III, 49).

The same incident is also remodeled by omitting lines that present her flight negatively. In the first edition, she bluntly criticized herself when she arrived at St. Albans: "What a satisfaction am I robbed of, my dearest friend, by this rash action? I can now, too late, judge of the difference there is in being an offended rather than an offending person! — What would I give to have it once more in my power to say I suffer'd wrong, rather than did wrong" (1st ed., III, 50). In reshaping the passage, Richardson replaced "rash action" with the milder term "inconsiderateness," and he eliminated the line in which she implies she is an "offending person." Although he still has her admit her responsibility, he mitigates her guilt: "What a satisfaction am I robbed of, my dearest friend, when I reflect upon my inconsiderateness! O that I had it still in my power to say I suffered wrong, rather than did wrong!" (2nd ed., III, 50).

There is a value in looking closely at Richardson's deletions, for as


Page 123
he himself said as early as 1744, he was a "sorry pruner" and as "apt to add three pages for one" he took away.[20] His Forster memorandum lists six "Omissions" from the second edition; four of these, however, designate lines of verse, including Elizabeth Carter's 'Ode to Wisdom.' There are also thirty-five other deletions, from one to four lines each (but totaling only sixty-seven lines altogether), that are cut in 1749 — over and above the many individual words and phrases cited earlier in the first section of this paper. The total (sixty-seven lines scattered throughout four volumes) is relatively slight in bulk, considering that some of Richardson's individual insertions introduce as much new material into the novel at one stroke.

None of his deletions concerning Clarissa is listed in his Forster memorandum. In Letter XXXIX, Volume II, Clarissa tells Anna that if Lovelace offers her protection, he must do so without any material advantage, for she will not litigate with her father over her estate: "And yet," she laments, "that I have too much pride to think of marrying, until I have a fortune that shall make me appear upon a foot of equality with, and void of obligation to, anybody" (1st ed., II, 269). Such clear concern for financial independence and social position may have seemed to Richardson incompatible with the exemplary spiritual function he wanted her to serve. He excludes these lines after the first edition.

He also struck out three lines from Volume IV in which Clarissa entreats Anna for psychological support in dismissing Lovelace forever: "Do my dear, advise me, persuade me, to renounce the man for ever: And then I will for ever renounce him!" (1st ed., IV, 44). The passage suggests she is wavering, out of a more dangerous weakness for Lovelace than Richardson wished to stress in 1749 (several other alterations also bear this out); he may also have felt that Clarissa's appeal to Anna for moral counsel was excessive, unworthy of his heroine's own independent moral sense. A third instance of the author's desire to minimize Clarissa's attachment to Lovelace is his decision to omit these three lines by her to Antony Harlowe: "And is it such a crime in me, if I should prefer an acquaintance of Twelve months to one of Two?" (1st ed., I, 209). Her question is very revealing as a response to her uncle's charge that she will not consider Solmes, the new suitor proposed for her after her brother's return from Scotland, because she is prepossessed in another's favor. Richardson still let Clarissa compare the two suitors to Solmes' disadvantage, but he carefully removed her explicit confession of a preference.


Page 124

A fourth deletion probably reflects other reasons. Near the end of Volume IV, Lovelace fancies with pleasure the sight of Clarissa, his mistress, holding a "Twin-Lovelace" at each breast, "pressing with her fine fingers the generous flood into the purple mouths of each eager hunter by turns" (1st ed., IV, 260). The imaginative fantasy is retained in 1749, but the quoted lines are cut. One suspects that Richardson decided the robust maternal image was too earthy for his maiden heroine.

Consistent with his effort to weaken Clarissa's growing affection for Lovelace in the early volumes, Richardson altered several signs of it by changing "Love" to "A conditional kind of liking," and by eliminating some discussion of the topic (1st ed., I, 181, 252; 2nd ed., I, 182, 254). Disappointingly, the most ineffectual changes with respect to Clarissa are several newly inserted passages which simply lengthen the novel without ennobling her character or rendering it more attractive. She is given further opportunities to make moral commentaries on her own plight, to judge Lovelace more harshly, and to chide Anna anew for criticizing the Harlowe family (2nd ed., I, 179-80; III, 71-72, 207).

Richardson always intended the violence of James and Arabella to lead to more and more inhuman actions by the whole family. His letter to Sarah Chapone, March 2, 1752, points out the undesirable dominance James and Arabella exert over their parents: "The Harlowes being too much influenced by their insolent and rapacious Son, joined by the instigations of an envious Daughter."[21] He had developed the vicious character of the family in the first edition, but he exploited it even more fully in 1749 by introducing fifteen details to magnify the Harlowes' evil.

When Mrs. Harlowe pleads that Clarissa not be turned out of the house for refusing Solmes a visit downstairs, her son taunts his mother with this new line: "It is plain, that she relies upon her power over you" (2nd ed., I, 286). Another addition in the same volume shows James equally stubborn when he directs Mrs. Norton to report to Clarissa "That the treaty with Mr. Solmes is concluded: That nothing but her compliance with her duty is wanting" (2nd ed., I, 260). Lovelace, expert in the ways of power himself, easily recognizes that James and Arabella are determined to provoke Clarissa into some rashness, and he shrewdly sums up their characters in this added line: "tho' they had too much malice in their heads to intend service to me by their persecutions of her" (2nd ed., III, 82).

Anna is also used to point up the Harlowes' evil. What can be their hope, she asks in new lines to Clarissa, "Except indeed it be to


Page 125
drive you to extremity, and to ruin you in the opinion of your Uncles, as well as Father" (2nd ed., II, 133). Richardson sets this comment in italics for even greater emphasis, foreshadowing the outcome of the first stage of the action of the novel, Clarissa's estrangement from her family. He also uses Anna to highlight a key feature of Arabella's character in another addition: "that meanness rises with her pride, and goes hand in hand with it" (I, 87).

The longest revision that magnifies the Harlowe wickedness presents Anna's reaction to Mr. Harlowe's curse on Clarissa. In 1749, Richardson inserted two new paragraphs into Anna's Letter LIV (2nd ed., III, 266-67), described in the Forster memorandum as "much altered." Anna's new comments stress the unnaturalness of Mr. Harlowe's denunciation, which she sees as his own curse against God. She also acquires another new line in the same letter, to advertise further the family's guilt: "Can you think that Heaven will seal to the black passions of its depraved Creatures?" (2nd ed., III, 266).

Even Clarissa now reveals more about her family, especially her mother, whom she formerly shielded. In consequence, they loom more blameworthy for insisting that she marry Solmes: "My Mother, my dear, tho' I must not say so, was not obliged to marry against her liking. My Mother loved my Father" (2nd ed., I, 109). Another revision shows Mrs. Harlowe participating more actively in the family evil. The original passage accented her helplessness within the family circle: "Would any-body, my dear Miss Howe, wish to marry, when one sees a necessity for such a sweet temper as my mamma's, either to be ruin'd, or depriv'd of all power" (1st ed., I, 100). The second edition stresses her culpable role, despite her own better judgment, against Clarissa: "Would any-body, my dear Miss Howe, wish to marry, who sees A Wife of such a temper, and blessed with such an understanding as my Mother is noted for, not only deprived of all power; but obliged to be even active in bringing to bear points of high importance, which she thinks ought not to be insisted upon?" (2nd ed., I, 100).

His care to blacken Mrs. Harlowe is notably evident in Richardson's removal of one rare clue that she appreciates her daughter: "And now, that she has left us, so disgracefully left us! we are stript of our ornament, and are but a common family!" (1st ed., IV, 34). But even worse damage results from a long passage inserted into Anna's Letter to Clarissa of March 23 (2nd ed., II, 13-14), for it leaves no doubt that Mrs. Harlowe's human and moral qualities have withered under the hostile influence of the Harlowes throughout the years of her marriage. Anna argues that the family's effect on her is incontestable evidence of its terrible power to corrupt even the good.


Page 126

Finally, one addition which Richardson describes as "small, but significant" in his Forster memorandum makes Antony Harlowe look still more foolish than previously. Inserted into his courtship letter to Mrs. Howe, it expresses his views on how to handle servants: "And moreover, if we keep not servants at distance, they will be familiar. I always made it a rule to find fault, whether reasonably or not, that so I might have no reason to find fault. Young women and servants, in general (as worthy Mr. Solmes observes) are better governed by Fear than Love. But this my humour as to servants, will not affect either you or Miss, you know" (2nd ed., IV, 111).

Other supporting characters also undergo revision. Lord M's garrulousness is expanded unnecessarily in Volume IV (Letter XVII) with more maxims and bits of moral counsel. Joseph Leman's letter grows more effectively from 2½ to 5 pages, from an abstract to a full-length letter in Joseph's characteristic illiterate prose (2nd ed., III, 229-233). Dolly Hervey's note that Mr. Brand will marry Clarissa omits her description of him as "the young Oxford Clergyman, and fine scholar" (1st ed., II, 295; 2nd ed., II, 292). Readers, in no position to evaluate this first clue to Brand's character, could be misled by Dolly's secondhand report. Anna assails the romantic pretensions of her mother and Antony Harlowe with more vigor (2nd ed., IV, 116), and she tries more actively to send money to Clarissa in defiance of her mother's orders (2nd ed., III, 193). This draws new chiding by Clarissa (2nd ed., III, 207), which could have been better left out.

One of Richardson's finest revisions — and one wishes he had invented more of this caliber — is his expansion of a comic scene between Anna and her mother, depicted in the first edition only in bare outline:

Bless me! — how impatient! — I must break off —

* * *

A charming dialogue — But I am sent for down in a very peremptory manner (1st ed., III, 63)

Its development brings this scene amazingly alive, making us see and feel Anna's confusion as she tries to hide her letters before her mother enters:

Bless me! — how impatient she is! — How she thunders at the door! — This moment, Madam! — How came I to double-lock myself in! — What have I done with the key? — Duce take the key! — Dear Madam! You flutter one so!

* * *

You may believe, my dear, that I took care of my Papers before I opened the door. We have had a charming dialogue — She flung from me in a passion —

So—what's now to be done — Sent for down in a very peremptory manner (2nd ed., III, 62)


Page 127

One modest deletion enhances Hickman's character, although it cannot by itself produce the radical change Richardson desired. Richardson argues strongly in his correspondence[22] that readers are wrong to form their judgment of Hickman from the narrative points of view of Lovelace and Anna, but he nonetheless sought to improve Hickman's appeal in the second edition by striking out this slanted statement by Anna: "For Hickman appears to me to be a man of that antiquated cut; as to his mind I mean: A great deal too much upon the formal, you must needs think him to be, yourself" (1st ed., I, 174).

Several contemporary or historical allusions are also revised in 1749. Richardson's footnote in the first edition explaining that "This picture [Clarissa's] is drawn as big as life by Mr. Highmore, and is in his possession" (III, 260) is omitted now; an allusion to Cromwell is also dropped "[as Cromwell said, If it must be my head, or the king's]" (III, 57); as is this reference to French royalty: "The royal cully of France, thou knowest, was Maintenon'd into it by his ill successes in the field" (1st ed., IV, 92). One new allusion, this time to English royalty, is added to Lovelace's claim that a woman will forgive almost any masculine indiscretion except public statement that she is "too old for him to attempt." The allusion supplies a confirmatory example from Renaissance history: "And did not Essex's personal reflection on Queen Elizabeth, that she was old and crooked, contribute more to his ruin, than his treason?" (2nd ed., III, 361).

At least sixteen other alterations are of one kind.[23] Material written in indirect discourse is turned into the more lively format of direct speech, better able to create the illusion of letters written spontaneously. Two versions of the following passage show a typical transformation:

He presumed, he told me, from what I said, that my application to my relations was unsuccessful:That therefore he hoped I would give him leave now to mention the terms in the nature of settlements, which he had long intended to propose to me; and which having till now delay'd to do, thro' accidents not proceeding from himself, he had thoughts of urging to me the moment I enter'd upon my new house; (1st ed., IV, 52)

I presume, Madam, replied he, from what you have said, that your application to Harlowe-place has proved unsuccessful: I therefore hope, that you will now give me leave to mention the terms in the nature of Settlements, which I have


Page 128
long intended to propose to you; and which having till now delayed to do, thro' accidents not proceding from myself, I had thoughts of urging to you the moment you entered upon your new house; (2nd ed., IV, 52)

Continuing a practice already operative fourteen times in the first edition, Richardson casts one crucial scene in Volume IV (between Tomlinson, Clarissa, and Lovelace, pp. 225-28) more explicitly into dramatic form. He does so by borrowing from playwrighting the convention of prefacing each speech in a dialogue with the speaker's name. His choice is excellent for its context. Tomlinson's role, as a master of disguise serving Lovelace by deceiving Clarissa, is carried off with the flair of a well-acted stageplay that arouses new suspense.

Many of the larger revisions (like most of the small ones discussed in Part I of this paper) are essentially stylistic. They range in quality, as do all of Richardson's changes, but often they clearly improve the text. Some changes transform minor passages into vivid images by adding tiny new details that further animate even sentences that were already good. As if he were auctioning off a prize heifer, James Harlowe directs Solmes' gaze toward Clarissa. In the first edition he said simply: "Look at her person! Think of her qualities! — All the world confesses them" (II, 187); but the full weight of his boorishness is more powerfully felt through this revision: "Look at her person! (and he gazed at me, from head to foot, pointing at me, as he referred to Mr. Solmes). Think of her fine qualities! — All the world confesses them" (2nd ed., II, 184).

More intensity is also built into another passage that presents Clarissa waiting in silence for her mother to recognize her. It first read: "After some time, she ask'd me coldly, What directions I had given for the day?" (1st ed., I, 120). This is reworked by combining a specific temporal reference with evidence of Clarissa's anxiety: "I believe it was a quarter of an hour before she spoke to me (my heart throbbing with the suspense all the time); and then she asked coldly, What directions I had given for the day?" (2nd ed., I, 120). A final example shows, by its original and altered forms, how Richardson simplified and improved several clumsy, confusing sentences: "He was grieved at his heart, that he had so little share in my favour or confidence, as he had the mortification to find, by what I had said, he had" (1st ed., III, 36). In 1749 it is trimmed neatly to: "He was grieved at his heart, to find that he had so little share in my favour or confidence" (2nd ed., III, 35).