Ever since I have arrived in the 21st century, I have been importuned by many men and women desiring to know how I write my novels; they desire to investigate the depths of my soul by which they seek to understand my poetical method, which they hope to bring home to the breasts of living writers, and no doubt to make a fine sum of money for themselves. They make inquiries concerning my daily routines(black coffee and gin in the morning, a great deal of vexatious scribblings until sundown, and a vinegar compress before bedtime), concerning my favorite writers (Shakespeare, Dryden, Johnson), and some pert varlet even asked to feel my powedered wig. But the grand question that I am always asked by my admirers is whence I derive my immense knowledge of human lives, particularly in their most intimate moments?
But whence can I possibly obtain such private information, but from peeping through key-holes? Come and see this odd figure kneeling upon the floor, or on the dirty ground, with one hand in his bosom, his face smooshed against a hard door, looking through the key-hole in trembling agitation. What views he may espy! This creature, however, confines his night risques (for he never practices his art in the daylight)to the properties only of the most respectable and pious households, particularly of those households wherein virtuous young ladies are known to reside.
But you never will see him until I shew him to you. And thus do I respond to my admirers, "My immense knowledge of human lives comes not from me but from a friend who delights in key-hole peeping, and who tells me everything he discovers thereby, for the figure that I have just described belongs to my dear friend Mr.Hutchinson, the notorious libertine, from whom I gather all my secrets."
Observe this momentous scene in my "Clarissa"--in which we see through the key-hole my tragic heroine, Miss Clarissa Harlowe, on her knees, at her bed's feet, her head and bosom on the bed, her arms extended, praying for deliverance from her evil tormentors. We understand by this scene that her correspondence with God was not just a matter of putting on a public production meant to bring her sympathy from others. Oh! Clarissa Harlowe, what angelic soul thou possessed!
Observe also the following scene (as recorded by me courtesy Mr.Hutchinson's peepings)---a young lady, barefooted, walking back and forth in the room while removing her dress and revealing her linen underthings.