Many have asked me, what relationship in the world is worthy of being called the most glorious relationship existing between a small group of people? Could it be that relationship which exists within a close family? Could it be that between a husband and his devoted wife, or between a mistress and her paramour? My resounding answer to all such paltry guesses must be a loud, unmistakable No. For it seems to me a matter of undisputed truth that this most glorious bond can be none other than that between two very intimate female friends a-bed together, and a plumpish middle-aged gentleman peering in through the key-hole over-against the door.
This glorious relationship is to be considered of the highest moral worth, which is made more valuable precisely because it is so rare; just as a diamond is made more precious on account of its rareness, so this relationship gains in value because rarely are all the actors in this happy trilogy to be found together. Indeed in the author's experience, he has found this to be an extremely hard relationship to orchestrate; though a highly noble one to pursue nevertheless.
I shall now endeavor to give some advice to the reader upon how one may create the conditions necessary for such a relationship to blossom. First, we must understand the two necessary principal ingredients, namely, an honest maiden and her lusty, saucy friend of many years. The best example to be presented here is that of my heroine, Miss Clarissa, and her ever-trustworthy friend, the dear Miss Ana Howe. But just as it is impossible for any woman in the world to equal Clarissa in her nobility--for Clarissa is not only an ornament to her sex, but to human nature--so it is impossible for any woman to equal Miss Howe (an Emilia to Clarissa's Desdemona) in her devotion and constancy to her friend; thus making this kind of friendship as a precious jewel in a mountain of coal. Or at least such was the situation in the 18th century, when I wrote my "Clarissa."
It is my belief now, however, that friendships of this nature do exist widely in the present age, for such has been the power of the example set forth in my book that it has inspired all kinds of women over the last three hundred years to want to improve their lives, that is, to form strong friendships, resembling that of Clarissa and Miss Howe, with one another, and to spend time with one another in their bedrooms, wearing only their white under-shifts. And whenever such meetings occur, one can be fairly certain that this author will be found peering in through the key-hole, so that he may be instructed by all that unfolds within. For the love between a Clarissa and her Miss Howe is the most beautiful and true love there is, most worthy to be admired through the key-hole, or through an opened sash window, or from the inside of a closet or buck-basket.
It should be understood, of course, before the hasty reader flies out of the house in search of the key-hole where he may glimpse this, that white under-shifts, as well as a heavily perfumed and powdered room, are necessary elements in the opening stages of this friendship; therefore it may behoove the reader to have such ingredients, if possible, prepared in advance.