In finishing the third volume of Sir Charles, I have only a few notes to make. First of all, I was fortunate to be directed to another online version of Sir Charles Grandison, at Blackmask. This version does seem to be somewhat different than the version I am using, but it has saved me some degree of typing time. My version of this volume should be on Project Gutenberg before too long; Iâ€™ll provide the link when it is.
As far as the contents of this volume, the main plot of Harrietâ€™s concealed love for Sir Charles continues. She has the wholehearted support of Sir Charlesâ€™s sisters, as well as her own family, but continues to feel herself unworthy of his attention. There are some developments in the story of Emily Jervois, Sir Charlesâ€™s ward, but the main event is the discovery of Sir Charlesâ€™s Italian affair with Clementina della Porretta, an aristocratic young woman from Bologna. As it might be imagined, it is revealed (largely through a series of excerpts from Sir Charlesâ€™s previous letters to Dr. Bartlett) that his intentions were entirely honorable, and possibly founded as much—or more—on compassion as love. The revelation (naturally) causes Harriet to take Clementinaâ€™s part more than her own.
I found the most interesting aspect of this volume to be the strong references to Shakespeare. Sir Charles first knows Clementina as a sort of voluntary English â€œtutor,â€ and Clementina specifically refers to both Hamlet and Twelfth Night, even quoting from the latter. Further than this, however, Clementinaâ€™s story seems to have many purposeful parallels to that of Ophelia in Hamlet: torn between her duty to family and religion and her love for the foreign â€œhereticâ€ Sir Charles, Clementina goes gently mad. Other specific references to Hamlet: Clementinaâ€™s parents, on several occasions, arrange for Sir Charles to speak with her, eavesdropping on their conversations first without his knowledge, then with it; later, Clementina, thinking herself refused by Sir Charles, desires to â€œgo her ways to a nunnery.â€ Very interesting stuff; I havenâ€™t read Twelfth Night yet (sad to say), but I believe one of the characters is called Olivia, as is a spiteful Italian lady in Sir Charles.