Leah Price


Richardson's second novel, Clarissa, takes for its heroine a woman who writes her will; his last, Sir Charles Grandison, is named instead after a hero who executes others'. Grandison executes the will of a man who has tried to kill him, the wills of two men whose lives he has saved, and even a will that does not exist. After his father dies intestate, Grandison takes advantage of the semantic overlap between "will" and "intention" to claim that there is something for him to execute: "that intention will I execute with as much exactness, as if he had made a will."' Sir Hargrave Pollexfen asks Grandison to administer his property in the same breath as he asks a clergyman to care for his soul: "Be my executor. And do you, good Bartlett, put me in the way of repentance" (6:31:143). The desire of women throughout Europe to make Sir Charles their husband is matched only by the wish of men throughout England to make him their executor-requests which, unlike the competing demands of four English and two Italian ladies, he never refuses.