RICHARDSON, Samuel (1689-1761). Autograph letter signed to 'Mr Moore' [Edward Moore], London, 3 October 1748, speculating teasingly on the source of criticisms of Clarissa relayed in his correspondent's letter, 'A Question to you dear Sir if you please. Are they the Three Ladies of St Neot's or is it the ingenious Author of certain fables calculated for the castigation as well as improvement of Ladies in general who imagine that the character of Clarissa is an Affront to the Sex?', and continuing about the misunderstanding of the 'Tendency of the Five volumes you have seen as well as that of two others to come' when all that is meant is 'that the poor Clarissa may be admitted to fill a gap in the Reading World while Mr Moore and Mr Fielding are (as a certain Duke said of a certain Genius in his Retirement) reposing their understandings'; defending his portrayal of the character of Lovelace, 'Let me ask -- Have you read Lovelace's Bad and not his Good? Or does the Allowance which you have for the Bad make you forget that he has any Good? Is he not generous? Is he not with regard to Meum and Tuum matters just? Does he not on all occasions exalt the Lady at his own Expence? ... Ah my dear Mr Moore! But I will not repeat that there are more Lovelaces in the World that the World imagines there are'; continuing the argument in the same mocking spirit, ending 'My Duty to the ladies unknown, I wish I could not say unknown. You know how much I love the whole sex', 37 lines written in brown ink on one page, 220 x 182mm, annotated in a different hand below the signature 'Author of Clarissa', addressed on integral leaf 'For Mr Moore At Ashley Palmers Esq. at Eaton, near St Neots Huntingdonshire', traces of black wax seal (2 tiny holes with part loss of one word of text; mathematical calculations in faint red crayon on address leaf, small splits in folds).
The letter is from an amusing exchange between Richardson and Edward Moore (whose Fables for the Female Sex were published in 1744). Moore, who once planned to dramatise Clarissa with Garrick as Lovelace, reported on 1 October 1748 that 'three fair ladies' had ordered him to scold the author because Clarissa, by showing what a woman ought to be, showed up all other women, and because the book's tendency was to put people 'out of conceit' with other reading. The present letter has previously been known from the contemporary transcript in the library of the Victoria and Albert Museum (Forster Collection, XV, ii, f.19).