(Clarissa). The heroine of Richardson's novel of that name. In order to avoid a marriage urged upon her by her parents, she casts herself on the protection of a lover, who grossly abuses the confidence thus reposed in him. He subsequently proposes to marry her, but Clarissa rejects the offer, and retires from the world to cover her shame and die.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894