Part 2 out of 6
air, and, the chair being come, whipt into it; the people about the door
seeming to be in good humour with me; one crying, a pleasant gentleman, I
warrant him! and away I was carried to White's, according to direction.
As soon as I came thither, I ordered Will. to go and change his clothes,
and to disguise himself by putting on his black wig, and keeping his
mouth shut; and then to dodge about Smith's, to inform himself of the
I give thee this impudent account of myself, that thou mayest rave at me,
and call me hardened, and what thou wilt. For, in the first place, I,
who had been so lately ill, was glad I was alive; and then I was so
balked by my charmer's unexpected absence, and so ruffled by that, and by
the bluff treatment of father John, that I had no other way to avoid
being out of humour with all I met with. Moreover I was rejoiced to
find, by the lady's absence, and by her going out at six in the morning,
that it was impossible she should be so ill as thou representest her to
be; and this gave me still higher spirits. Then I know the sex always
love cheerful and humourous fellows. The dear creature herself used to
be pleased with my gay temper and lively manner; and had she been told
that I was blubbering for her in the back-shop, she would have despised
me still more than she does.
Furthermore, I was sensible that the people of the house must needs have
a terrible notion of me, as a savage, bloody-minded, obdurate fellow; a
perfect woman-eater; and, no doubt, expected to see me with the claws of
a lion, and the fangs of a tiger; and it was but policy to show them what
a harmless pleasant fellow I am, in order to familiarize the Johns and
the Josephs to me. For it was evident to me, by the good woman's calling
them down, that she thought me a dangerous man. Whereas now, John and I
have shaken hands together, and dame Smith having seen that I have the
face, and hands, and looks of a man, and walk upright, and prate, and
laugh, and joke, like other people; and Joseph, that I can talk of taking
his teeth out of his head, without doing him the least hurt; they will
all, at my next visit, be much more easy and pleasant to me than Andrew's
gloves were to him; and we shall be as thoroughly acquainted, as if we
had known one another a twelvemonth.
When I returned to our mother's, I again cursed her and all her nymphs
together; and still refused to see either Sally or Polly! I raved at the
horrid arrest; and told the old dragon that it was owing to her and her's
that the fairest virtue in the world was ruined; my reputation for ever
blasted; and that I was not married and perfectly happy in the love of
the most excellent of her sex.
She, to pacify me, said she would show me a new face that would please
me; since I would not see my Sally, who was dying with grief.
Where is this new face? cried I: let me see her, though I shall never see
any face with pleasure but Miss Harlowe's.
She won't come down, replied she. She will not be at the word of command
yet. She is but just in the trammels; and must be waited upon, I'll
assure you; and courted much besides.
Ay! said I, that looks well. Lead me to her this instant.
I followed her up: and who should she be, but that little toad Sally!
O curse you, said I, for a devil! Is it you? is your's the new face?
O my dear, dear Mr. Lovelace! cried she, I am glad any thing will bring
you to me!--and so the little beast threw herself about my neck, and
there clung like a cat. Come, said she, what will you give me, and I'll
be as virtuous for a quarter of an hour, and mimic your Clarissa to the
I was Belforded all over. I could not bear such an insult upon the dear
creature, (for I have a soft and generous nature in the main, whatever
thou thinkest;) and cursed her most devoutly, for taking my beloved's
name in her mouth in such a way. But the little devil was not to be
balked; but fell a crying, sobbing, praying, begging, exclaiming,
fainting, that I never saw my lovely girl so well aped. Indeed I was
almost taken in; for I could have fancied I had her before me once more.
O this sex! this artful sex! there's no minding them. At first, indeed,
their grief and their concern may be real: but, give way to the
hurricane, and it will soon die away in soft murmurs, thrilling upon your
ears like the notes of a well-tuned viol. And, by Sally, one sees that
art will generally so well supply the place of nature, that you shall not
easily know the difference. Miss Clarisa Harlowe, indeed, is the only
woman in the world I believe that can say, in the words of her favourite
Job, (for I can quote a text as well as she,) But it is not so with me.
They were very inquisitive about my fair-one. They told me that you
seldom came near them; that, when you did, you put on plaguy grave airs;
would hardly stay five minutes; and did nothing but praise Miss Harlowe,
and lament her hard fate. In short, that you despised them; was full of
sentences; and they doubted not, in a little while, would be a lost man,
A pretty character for thee, is it not? thou art in a blessed way; yet
hast nothing to do but to go on in it: and then what work hast thou to go
through! If thou turnest back, these sorceresses will be like the czar's
cossacks, [at Pultowa, I think it was,] who were planted with ready
primed and cocked pieces behind the regulars, in order to shoot them
dead, if they did not push on and conquer; and then wilt thou be most
lamentably despised by every harlot thou hast made--and, O Jack, how
formidable, in that case, will be the number of thy enemies!
I intend to regulate my motions by Will.'s intelligence; for see this
dear creature I must and will. Yet I have promised Lord M. to be down in
two or three days at farthest; for he is grown plaguy fond of me since I
I am in hopes that the word I left, that I am to go out of town to-morrow
morning, will soon bring the lady back again.
Mean time, I thought I would write to divert thee, while thou art of such
importance about the dying; and as thy servant, it seems, comes backward
and forward every day, perhaps I may send thee another letter to-morrow,
with the particulars of the interview between the dear creature and me;
after which my soul thirsteth.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
TUESDAY, AUG. 22.
I must write on, to divert myself: for I can get no rest; no refreshing
rest. I awaked just now in a cursed fright. How a man may be affected
'Methought I had an interview with my beloved. I found her all goodness,
condescension, and forgiveness. She suffered herself to be overcome in
my favour by the joint intercessions of Lord M., Lady Sarah, Lady Betty,
and my two cousins Montague, who waited upon her in deep mourning; the
ladies in long trains sweeping after them; Lord M. in a long black mantle
trailing after him. They told her they came in these robs to express
their sorrow for my sins against her, and to implore her to forgive me.
'I myself, I thought, was upon my knees, with a sword in my hand,
offering either to put it up in the scabbard, or to thrust it into my
heart, as she should command the one or the other.
'At that moment her cousin Morden, I thought, all of a sudden, flashed in
through a window, with his drawn sword--Die, Lovelace! said he; this
instant die, and be d----d, if in earnest thou repairest not by marriage
my cousin's wrongs!
'I was rising to resent this insult, I thought, when Lord M. ran between
us with his great black mantle, and threw it over my face: and instantly
my charmer, with that sweet voice which has so often played upon my
ravished ears, wrapped her arms around me, muffled as I was in my Lord's
mantle: O spare, spare my Lovelace! and spare, O Lovelace, my beloved
cousin Morden! Let me not have my distresses augmented by the fall of
either or both of those who are so dear to me!
'At this, charmed with her sweet mediation, I thought I would have
clasped her in my arms: when immediately the most angelic form I had ever
beheld, all clad in transparent white, descended in a cloud, which,
opening, discovered a firmament above it, crowded with golden cherubs and
glittering seraphs, all addressing her with Welcome, welcome, welcome!
and, encircling my charmer, ascended with her to the region of seraphims;
and instantly, the opened cloud closing, I lost sight of her, and of the
bright form together, and found wrapt in my arms her azure robe (all
stuck thick with stars of embossed silver) which I had caught hold of in
hopes of detaining her; but was all that was left me of my beloved
Clarissa. And then, (horrid to relate!) the floor sinking under me, as
the firmament had opened for her, I dropt into a hole more frightful than
that of Elden; and, tumbling over and over down it, without view of a
bottom, I awaked in a panic; and was as effectually disordered for half
an hour, as if my dream had been a reality.'
Wilt thou forgive my troubling thee with such visionary stuff? Thou wilt
see by it only that, sleeping or waking, my Clarissa is always present
But here this moment is Will. come running hither to tell me that his
lady actually returned to her lodgings last night between eleven and
twelve; and is now there, though very ill.
I hasten to her. But, that I may not add to her indisposition, by any
rough or boisterous behaviour, I will be as soft and gentle as the dove
herself in my addresses to her.
That I do love her, I all ye host of Heaven,
Be witness.--That she is dear to me!
Dearer than day, to one whom sight must leave;
Dearer than life, to one who fears to die!
The chair is come. I fly to my beloved.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Curse upon my stars!--Disappointed again! It was about eight when I
arrived at Smith's.--The woman was in the shop.
So, old acquaintance, how do you now? I know my love is above.--Let her
be acquainted that I am here, waiting for admission to her presence, and
can take no denial. Tell her, that I will approach her with the most
respectful duty, and in whose company she pleases; and I will not touch
the hem of her garment, without her leave.
Indeed, Sir, you are mistaken. The lady is not in this house, nor near
I'll see that.--Will.! beckoning him to me, and whispering, see if thou
canst any way find out (without losing sight of the door, lest she should
be below stairs) if she be in the neighbourhood, if not within.
Will. bowed, and went off. Up went I, without further ceremony; attended
now only by the good woman.
I went into each apartment, except that which was locked before, and was
now also locked: and I called to my Clarissa in the voice of love; but,
by the still silence, was convinced she was not there. Yet, on the
strength of my intelligence, I doubted not but she was in the house.
I then went up two pairs of stairs, and looked round the first room: but
no Miss Harlowe.
And who, pray, is in this room? stopping at the door of another.
A widow gentlewoman, Sir.--Mrs. Lovick.
O my dear Mrs. Lovick! said I.--I am intimately acquainted with Mrs.
Lovick's character, from my cousin John Belford. I must see Mrs. Lovick
by all means.--Good Mrs. Lovick, open the door.
Your servant, Madam. Be so good as to excuse me.--You have heard my
story. You are an admirer of the most excellent woman in the world.
Dear Mrs. Lovick, tell me what is become of her?
The poor lady, Sir, went out yesterday, on purpose to avoid you.
How so? she knew not that I would be here.
She was afraid you would come, when she heard you were recovered from
your illness. Ah! Sir, what pity it is that so fine a gentleman should
make such ill returns for God's goodness to him!
You are an excellent woman, Mrs. Lovick: I know that, by my cousin John
Belford's account of you: and Miss Clarissa Harlowe is an angel.
Miss Harlowe is indeed an angel, replied she; and soon will be company
No jesting with such a woman as this, Jack.
Tell me of a truth, good Mrs. Lovick, where I may see this dear lady.
Upon my soul, I will neither fright for offend her. I will only beg of
her to hear me speak for one half-quarter of an hour; and, if she will
have it so, I will never trouble her more.
Sir, said the widow, it would be death for her to see you. She was at
home last night; I'll tell you truth: but fitter to be in bed all day.
She came home, she said, to die; and, if she could not avoid your visit,
she was unable to fly from you; and believed she should die in your
And yet go out again this morning early? How can that be, widow?
Why, Sir, she rested not two hours, for fear of you. Her fear gave her
strength, which she'll suffer for, when that fear is over. And finding
herself, the more she thought of your visit, the less able to stay to
receive it, she took chair, and is gone nobody knows whither. But, I
believe, she intended to be carried to the waterside, in order to take
boat; for she cannot bear a coach. It extremely incommoded her
But before we talk any further, said I, if she be gone abroad, you can
have no objection to my looking into every apartment above and below;
because I am told she is actually in the house.
Indeed, Sir, she is not. You may satisfy yourself, if you please: but
Mrs. Smith and I waited on her to her chair. We were forced to support
her, she was so weak. She said, Whither can I go, Mrs. Lovick? whither
can I go, Mrs. Smith?--Cruel, cruel man!--tell him I called him so, if he
come again!--God give him that peace which he denies me!
Sweet creature! cried I; and looked down, and took out my handkerchief.
The widow wept. I wish, said she, I had never known so excellent a lady,
and so great a sufferer! I love her as my own child!
Mrs. Smith wept.
I then gave over the hope of seeing her for this time, I was extremely
chagrined at my disappointment, and at the account they gave of her ill
Would to Heaven, said I, she would put it in my power to repair her
wrongs! I have been an ungrateful wretch to her. I need not tell you,
Mrs. Lovick, how much I have injured her, nor how much she suffers by her
relations' implacableness, Mrs. Smith, that cuts her to the heart. Her
family is the most implacable family on earth; and the dear creature, in
refusing to see me, and to be reconciled to me, shows her relation to
them a little too plainly.
O Sir, said the widow, not one syllable of what you say belongs to this
lady. I never saw so sweet a temper! she is always accusing herself, and
excusing her relations. And, as to you, Sir, she forgives you: she
wishes you well; and happier than you will let her die in peace? 'tis all
she wishes for. You don't look like a hard-hearted gentleman!--How can
you thus hunt and persecute a poor lady, whom none of her relations will
look upon? It makes my heart bleed for her.
And then she wept again. Mrs. Smith wept also. My seat grew uneasy to
me. I shifted to another several times; and what Mrs. Lovick farther
said, and showed me, made me still more uneasy.
Bad as the poor lady was last night, said she, she transcribed into her
book a meditation on your persecuting her thus. I have a copy of it. If
I thought it would have any effect, I would read it to you.
Let me read it myself, Mrs. Lovick.
She gave it to me. It has an Harlowe-spirited title: and, from a
forgiving spirit, intolerable. I desired to take it with me. She
consented, on condition that I showed it to 'Squire Belford. So here,
Mr. 'Squire Belford, thou mayest read it, if thou wilt.
ON BEING HUNTED AFTER BY THE ENEMY OF MY SOUL.
MONDAY, AUG. 21.
Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man.
Preserve me from the violent man.
Who imagines mischief in his heart.
He hath sharpened his tongue like a serpent. Adders' poison is under his
Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked. Preserve me from the
violent man, who hath purposed to overthrow my goings.
He hath hid a snare for me. He hath spread a net by the way-side. He
hath set gins for me in the way wherein I walked.
Keep me from the snares which he hath laid for me, and the gins of this
worker of iniquity.
The enemy hath persecuted my soul. He hath smitten my life down to the
ground. He hath made me dwell in darkness, as those that have been long
Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me. My heart within me is
Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble.
For my days are consumed like smoke: and my bones are burnt as the
My heart is smitten and withered like grass: so that I forget to eat my
By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness. I am like an owl of the desart.
I watch; and am as a sparrow alone upon the house-top.
I have eaten ashes like bread; and mingled my drink with weeping:
Because of thine indignation, and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up,
and cast me down.
My days are like a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.
Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked: further not his devices,
lest he exalt himself.
Why now, Mrs. Lovick, said I, when I had read this meditation, as she
called it, I think I am very severely treated by the lady, if she mean me
in all this. For how is it that I am the enemy of her soul, when I love
her both soul and body?
She says, that I am a violent man, and a wicked man.--That I have been
so, I own: but I repent, and only wish to have it in my power to repair
the injuries I have done her.
The gin, the snare, the net, mean matrimony, I suppose--But is it a crime
in me to wish to marry her? Would any other woman think it so? and
choose to become a pelican in the wilderness, or a lonely sparrow on the
house-top, rather than have a mate that would chirp about her all day and
She says, she has eaten ashes like bread--A sad mistake to be sure!--And
mingled her drink with weeping--Sweet maudlin soul! should I say of any
body confessing this, but Miss Harlowe.
She concludes with praying, that the desires of the wicked (meaning poor
me, I doubt) may not be granted; that my devices may not be furthered,
lest I exalt myself. I should undoubtedly exalt myself, and with reason,
could I have the honour and the blessing of such a wife. And if my
desires have so honourable an end, I know not why I should be called
wicked, and why I should not be allowed to hope, that my honest devices
may be furthered, that I MAY exalt myself.
But here, Mrs. Lovick, let me ask, as something is undoubtedly meant by
the lonely sparrow on the house-top, is not the dear creature at this
very instant (tell me truly) concealed in Mrs. Smith's cockloft?--What
say you, Mrs. Lovick? What say you, Mrs. Smith, to this?
They assured me to the contrary; and that shew as actually abroad, and
they knew not where.
Thou seest, Jack, that I would fain have diverted the chagrin given me
not only by the women's talk, but by this collection of Scripture-texts
drawn up in array against me. Several other whimsical and light things I
said [all I had for it!] with the same view. But the widow would not let
me come off so. She stuck to me; and gave me, as I told thee, a good
deal of uneasiness, by her sensible and serious expostulations. Mrs.
Smith put in now-and-then; and the two Jack-pudding fellows, John and
Joseph, not being present, I had no provocation to turn the conversation
into a farce; and, at last, they both joined warmly to endeavour to
prevail upon me to give up all thoughts of seeing the lady. But I could
not hear of that. On the contrary, I besought Mrs. Smith to let me have
one of her rooms but till I could see her; and were it but for one, two,
or three days, I would pay a year's rent for it; and quit it the moment
the interview was over. But they desired to be excused; and were sure
the lady would not come to the house till I was gone, were it for a
This pleased me; for I found they did not think her so very ill as they
would have me believe her to be; but I took no notice of the slip,
because I would not guard them against more of the like.
In short, I told them, I must and would see her: but that it should be
with all the respect and veneration that heart could pay to excellence
like her's: and that I would go round to all the churches in London and
Westminster, where there were prayers or service, from sun-rise to
sun-set, and haunt their house like a ghost, till I had the opportunity
my soul panted after.
This I bid them tell her. And thus ended our serious conversation.
I took leave of them; and went down; and, stepping into my chair, caused
myself to be carried to Lincoln's-Inn; and walked in the gardens till the
chapel was opened; and then I went in, and staid prayers, in hopes of
seeing the dear creature enter: but to no purpose; and yet I prayed most
devoutly that she might be conducted thither, either by my good angel, or
her own. And indeed I burn more than ever with impatience to be once
more permitted to kneel at the feet of this adorable woman. And had I
met her, or espied her in the chapel, it is my firm belief that I should
not have been able (though it had been in the midst of the sacred office,
and in the presence of thousands) to have forborne prostration to her,
and even clamorous supplication for her forgiveness: a christian act; the
exercise of it therefore worthy of the place.
After service was over, I stept into my chair again, and once more was
carried to Smith's, in hopes I might have surprised her there: but no
such happiness for thy friend. I staid in the back-shop an hour and an
half, by my watch; and again underwent a good deal of preachment from the
women. John was mainly civil to me now; won over a little by my serious
talk, and the honour I professed for the lady. They all three wished
matters could be made up between us: but still insisted that she could
never get over her illness; and that her heart was broken. A cue, I
suppose, they had from you.
While I was there a letter was brought by a particular hand. They seemed
very solicitous to hide it from me; which made me suspect it was for her.
I desired to be suffered to cast an eye upon the seal, and the
superscription; promising to give it back to them unopened.
Looking upon it, I told them I knew the hand and seal. It was from her
sister.* And I hoped it would bring her news that she would be pleased
* See Letter XXVI. of this volume.
They joined most heartily in the same hope: and, giving the letter to
them again, I civilly took leave, and went away.
But I will be there again presently; for I fancy my courteous behaviour
to these women will, on their report of it, procure me the favour I so
earnestly covet. And so I will leave my letter unsealed, to tell thee
the event of my next visit at Smith's.
Thy servant just calling, I sent thee this: and will soon follow it by
another. Mean time, I long to hear how poor Belton is: to whom my best
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
TUESDAY, AUG. 22.
I have been under such concern for the poor man, whose exit I almost
hourly expect, and at the shocking scenes his illness and his agonies
exhibit, that I have been only able to make memoranda of the melancholy
passages, from which to draw up a more perfect account, for the
instruction of us all, when the writing appetite shall return.
It is returned! Indignation has revived it, on receipt of thy letters of
Sunday and yesterday; by which I have reason to reproach thee in very
serious terms, that thou hast not kept thy honour with me: and if thy
breach of it be attended with such effects as I fear it will be, I shall
let thee know more of my mind on this head.
If thou wouldst be thought in earnest in thy wishes to move the poor lady
in thy favour, thy ludicrous behaviour at Smith's, when it comes to be
represented to her, will have a very consistent appearance; will it
not?--I will, indeed, confirm in her opinion, that the grave is more to
be wished-for, by one of her serious and pious turn, than a husband
incapable either of reflection or remorse; just recovered, as thou art,
from a dangerous, at least a sharp turn.
I am extremely concerned for the poor unprotected lady. She was so
excessively low and weak on Saturday, that I could not be admitted to her
speech: and to be driven out of her lodgings, when it was fitter for her
to be in bed, is such a piece of cruelty, as he only could be guilty of
who could act as thou hast done by such an angel.
Canst thou thyself say, on reflection, that it has not the look of a
wicked and hardened sportiveness, in thee, for the sake of a wanton
humour only, (since it can answer no end that thou proposest to thyself,
but the direct contrary,) to hunt from place to place a poor lady, who,
like a harmless deer, that has already a barbed shaft in her breast,
seeks only a refuge from thee in the shades of death.
But I will leave this matter upon thy own conscience, to paint thee such
a scene from my memoranda, as thou perhaps wilt be moved by more
effectually than by any other: because it is such a one as thou thyself
must one day be a principal actor in, and, as I thought, hadst very
lately in apprehension: and is the last scene of one of thy more intimate
friends, who has been for the four past days labouring in the agonies of
death. For, Lovelace, let this truth, this undoubted truth, be engraved
on thy memory, in all thy gaieties, That the life we are so fond of is
hardly life; a mere breathing space only; and that, at the end of its
Thou must die, as well as Belton.
Thou knowest, by Tourville, what we had done as to the poor man's worldly
affairs; and that we had got his unhappy sister to come and live with him
(little did we think him so very near to his end): and so I will proceed
to tell thee, that when I arrived at his house on Saturday night, I found
him excessively ill: but just raised, and in his elbow-chair, held up by
his nurse and Mowbray (the roughest and most untouched creature that ever
entered a sick man's chamber); while the maid-servants were trying to
make that bed easier for him which he was to return to; his mind ten
times uneasier than that could be, and the true cause that the down was
no softer to him.
He had so much longed to see me, as I was told by his sister, (whom I
sent for down to inquire how he was,) that they all rejoiced when I
entered: Here, said Mowbray, here, Tommy, is honest Jack Belford!
Where, where? said the poor man.
I hear his voice, cried Mowbray: he is coming up stairs.
In a transport of joy, he would have raised himself at my entrance, but
had like to have pitched out of the chair: and when recovered, called me
his best friend! his kindest friend! but burst into a flood of tears: O
Jack! O Belford! said he, see the way I am in! See how weak! So much,
and so soon reduced! Do you know me? Do you know your poor friend
You are not so much altered, my dear Belton, as you think you are. But I
see you are weak; very weak--and I am sorry for it.
Weak, weak, indeed, my dearest Belford, said he, and weaker in mind, if
possible, than in body; and wept bitterly--or I should not thus unman
myself. I, who never feared any thing, to be forced to show myself such
a nursling!--I am quite ashamed of myself!--But don't despise me; dear
Belford, don't despise me, I beseech thee.
I ever honoured a man that could weep for the distresses of others; and
ever shall, said I; and such a one cannot be insensible of his own.
However, I could not help being visibly moved at the poor fellow's emotion.
Now, said the brutal Mowbray, do I think thee insufferable, Jack. Our
poor friend is already a peg too low; and here thou art letting him down
lower and lower still. This soothing of him in his dejected moments, and
joining thy womanish tears with his, is not the way; I am sure it is not.
If our Lovelace were here, he'd tell thee so.
Thou art an impenetrable creature, replied I; unfit to be present at a
scene, the terrors of which thou wilt not be able to feel till thou
feelest them in thyself; and then, if thou hadst time for feeling, my
life for thine, thou behavest as pitifully as those thou thinkest most
Then turning to the poor sick man, Tears, my dear Belton, are no signs of
an unmanly, but, contrarily of a humane nature; they ease the
over-charged heart, which would burst but for that kindly and natural
Give sorrow words (says Shakspeare)
--The grief that does not speak,
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart, and bids it break.
I know, my dear Belton, thou usedst to take pleasure in repetitions from
the poets; but thou must be tasteless of their beauties now: yet be not
discountenanced by this uncouth and unreflecting Mowbray, for, as Juvenal
says, Tears are the prerogative of manhood.
'Tis at least seasonably said, my dear Belford. It is kind to keep me in
countenance for this womanish weakness, as Mowbray has been upbraidingly
calling it, ever since he has been with me: and in so doing, (whatever I
might have thought in such high health as he enjoys,) has convinced me,
that bottle-friends feel nothing but what moves in that little circle.
Well, well, proceed in your own way, Jack. I love my friend Belton as
well as you can do; yet for the blood of me, I cannot but think, that
soothing a man's weakness is increasing it.
If it be a weakness, to be touched at great and concerning events, in
which our humanity is concerned, said I, thou mayest be right.
I have seen many a man, said the rough creature, going up Holborn-hill,
that has behaved more like a man than either of you.
Ay, but, Mowbray, replied the poor man, those wretches have not had their
minds enervated by such infirmities of body as I have long laboured
under. Thou art a shocking fellow, and ever wert.--But to be able to
remember nothing in these moments but what reproaches me, and to know
that I cannot hold it long, and what may then be my lot, if--but
interrupting himself, and turning to me, Give me thy pity, Jack; 'tis
balm to my wounded soul; and let Mowbray sit indifferent enough to the
pangs of a dying friend, to laugh at us both.
The hardened fellow then retired, with the air of a Lovelace; only more
stupid; yawning and stretching, instead of humming a tune as thou didst
I assisted to get the poor man into bed. He was so weak and low, that he
could not bear the fatigue, and fainted away; and I verily thought was
quite gone. But recovering, and his doctor coming, and advising to keep
him quiet, I retired, and joined Mowbray in the garden; who took more
delight to talk of the living Lovelace and levities, than of the dying
Belton and his repentance.
I just saw him again on Saturday night before I went to bed; which I did
early; for I was surfeited with Mowbray's frothy insensibility, and could
not bear him.
It is such a horrid thing to think of, that a man who had lived in such
strict terms of--what shall I call it? with another; the proof does not
come out so, as to say, friendship; who had pretended so much love for
him; could not bear to be out of his company; would ride an hundred miles
on end to enjoy it; and would fight for him, be the cause right or wrong:
yet now, could be so little moved to see him in such misery of body and
mind, as to be able to rebuke him, and rather ridicule than pity him,
because he was more affected by what he felt, than he had seen a
malefactor, (hardened perhaps by liquor, and not softened by previous
sickness,) on his going to execution.
This put me strongly in mind of what the divine Miss HARLOWE once said to
me, talking of friendship, and what my friendship to you required of me:
'Depend upon it, Mr. Belford,' said she, 'that one day you will be
convinced, that what you call friendship, is chaff and stubble; and that
nothing is worthy of that sacred name,
'That has not virtue for its base.'
Sunday morning, I was called up at six o'clock, at the poor man's earnest
request, and found him in a terrible agony. O Jack! Jack! said he,
looking wildly, as if he had seen a spectre--Come nearer me!--Dear, dear
Belford, save me! Then clasping my arm with both his hands, and rearing
up his head towards me, his eyes strangely rolling, Save me! dear
Belford, save me! repeated he.
I put my other arm about him--Save you from what, my dear Belton! said I;
save you from what? Nothing shall hurt you. What must I save you from?
Recovering from his terror, he sunk down again, O save me from myself!
said he; save me from my own reflections. O dear Jack! what a thing it
is to die; and not to have one comfortable reflection to revolve! What
would I give for one year of my past life?--only one year--and to have
the same sense of things that I now have?
I tried to comfort him as well as I could: but free-livers to free-livers
are sorry death-bed comforters. And he broke in upon me: O my dear
Belford, said he, I am told, (and I have heard you ridiculed for it,)
that the excellent Miss Harlowe has wrought a conversion in you. May it
be so! You are a man of sense: O may it be so! Now is your time! Now,
that you are in full vigour of mind and body!--But your poor Belton,
alas! your poor Belton kept his vices, till they left him--and see the
miserable effects in debility of mind and despondency! Were Mowbray
here, and were he to laugh at me, I would own that this is the cause of
my despair--that God's justice cannot let his mercy operate for my
comfort: for, Oh! I have been very, very wicked; and have despised the
offers of his grace, till he has withdrawn it from me for ever.
I used all the arguments I could think of to give him consolation: and
what I said had such an effect upon him, as to quiet his mind for the
greatest part of the day; and in a lucid hour his memory served him to
repeat these lines of Dryden, grasping my hand, and looking wistfully
O that I less could fear to lose this being,
Which, like a snow-ball, in my coward hand,
The more 'tis grasped, the faster melts away!
In the afternoon of Sunday, he was inquisitive after you, and your
present behaviour to Miss Harlowe. I told him how you had been, and how
light you made of it. Mowbray was pleased with your impenetrable
hardness of heart, and said, Bob. Lovelace was a good edge-tool, and
steel to the back: and such coarse but hearty praises he gave you, as an
abandoned man might give, and only an abandoned man could wish to
But hadst thou heard what the poor dying Belton said on this occasion,
perhaps it would have made thee serious an hour or two, at least.
'When poor Lovelace is brought,' said he, 'to a sick-bed, as I am now,
and his mind forebodes that it is impossible he should recover, (which
his could not do in his late illness: if it had, he could not have
behaved so lightly in it;) when he revolves his past mis-spent life; his
actions of offence to helpless innocents; in Miss Harlowe's case
particularly; what then will he think of himself, or of his past actions?
his mind debilitated; his strength turned into weakness; unable to stir
or to move without help; not one ray of hope darting in upon his
benighted soul; his conscience standing in the place of a thousand
witnesses; his pains excruciating; weary of the poor remnant of life he
drags, yet dreading, that, in a few short hours, his bad will be changed
to worse, nay, to worst of all; and that worst of all, to last beyond
time and to all eternity; O Jack! what will he then think of the poor
transitory gratifications of sense, which now engage all his attention?
Tell him, dear Belford, tell him, how happy he is if he know his own
dying happiness; how happy, compared to his poor dying friend, that he
has recovered from his illness, and has still an opportunity lent him,
for which I would give a thousand worlds, had I them to give!'
I approved exceedingly of his reflections, as suited to his present
circumstances; and inferred consolations to him from a mind so properly
He proceeded in the like penitent strain. I have lived a very wicked
life; so have we all. We have never made a conscience of doing whatever
mischief either force or fraud enabled us to do. We have laid snares for
the innocent heart; and have not scrupled by the too-ready sword to
extend, as occasions offered, the wrongs we did to the persons whom we
had before injured in their dearest relations. But yet, I flatter
myself, sometimes, that I have less to answer for than either Lovelace or
Mowbray; for I, by taking to myself that accursed deceiver from whom thou
hast freed me, (and who, for years, unknown to me, was retaliating upon
my own head some of the evils I had brought upon others,) and retiring,
and living with her as a wife, was not party to half the mischiefs, that
I doubt they, and Tourville, and even you, Belford, committed. As to the
ungrateful Thomasine, I hope I have met with my punishment in her. But
notwithstanding this, dost thou not think, that such an action--and such
an action--and such an action; [and then he recapitulated several
enormities, in the perpetration of which (led on by false bravery, and
the heat of youth and wine) we have all been concerned;] dost thou not
think that these villanies, (let me call them now by their proper name,)
joined to the wilful and gloried-in neglect of every duty that our better
sense and education gave us to know were required of us as men and
christians, are not enough to weigh down my soul into despondency?--
Indeed, indeed, they are! and now to hope for mercy; and to depend upon
the efficacy of that gracious attribute, when that no less shining one of
justice forbids me to hope; how can I!--I, who have despised all
warnings, and taken no advantage of the benefit I might have reaped from
the lingering consumptive illness I have laboured under, but left all to
the last stake; hoping for recovery against hope, and driving off
repentance, till that grace is denied me; for, oh! my dear Belford! I can
now neither repent, nor pray, as I ought; my heart is hardened, and I can
do nothing but despair!--
More he would have said; but, overwhelmed with grief and infirmity, he
bowed his head upon his pangful bosom, endeavouring to hide from the
sight of the hardened Mowbray, who just then entered the room, those
tears which he could not restrain.
Prefaced by a phlegmatic hem; sad, very sad, truly! cried Mowbray; who
sat himself down on one side of the bed, as I sat on the other: his eyes
half closed, and his lips pouting out to his turned-up nose, his chin
curdled [to use one of thy descriptions]; leaving one at a loss to know
whether stupid drowsiness or intense contemplation had got most hold of
An excellent, however uneasy lesson, Mowbray! said I.--By my faith it is!
It may one day, who knows how soon? be our own case!
I thought of thy yawning-fit, as described in thy letter of Aug. 13. For
up started Mowbray, writhing and shaking himself as in an ague-fit; his
hands stretched over his head--with thy hoy! hoy! hoy! yawning. And then
recovering himself, with another stretch and a shake, What's o'clock?
cried he; pulling out his watch--and stalking by long tip-toe strides
through the room, down stairs he went; and meeting the maid in the
passage, I heard him say--Betty, bring me a bumper of claret; thy poor
master, and this d----d Belford, are enough to throw a Hercules into the
Mowbray, after this, assuming himself in our friend's library, which is,
as thou knowest, chiefly classical and dramatical, found out a passage in
Lee's Oedipus, which he would needs have to be extremely apt; and in he
came full fraught with the notion of the courage it would give the dying
man, and read it to him. 'Tis poetical and pretty. This is it:
When the sun sets, shadows that show'd at noon
But small, appear most long and terrible:
So when we think fate hovers o'er our heads,
Our apprehensions shoot beyond all bounds:
Owls, ravens, crickets, seem the watch of death;
Nature's worst vermin scare her godlike sons:
Echoes, the very leavings of a voice,
Grow babbling ghosts, and call us to our graves.
Each mole-hill thought swells to a huge Olympus;
While we, fantastic dreamers, heave and puff,
And sweat with our imagination's weight.
He expected praises for finding this out. But Belton turning his head
from him, Ah, Dick! (said he,) these are not the reflections of a dying
man!--What thou wilt one day feel, if it be what I now feel, will
convince thee that the evils before thee, and with thee, are more than
the effects of imagination.
I was called twice on Sunday night to him; for the poor fellow, when his
reflections on his past life annoy him most, is afraid of being left with
the women; and his eyes, they tell me, hunt and roll about for me.
Where's Mr. Belford?--But I shall tire him out, cries he--yet beg of him
to step to me--yet don't--yet do; were once the doubting and changeful
orders he gave: and they called me accordingly.
But, alas! What could Belford do for him? Belford, who had been but too
often the companion of his guilty hours; who wants mercy as much as he
does; and is unable to promise it to himself, though 'tis all he can bid
his poor friend rely upon!
What miscreants are we! What figures shall we make in these terrible
If Miss HARLOWE'S glorious example, on one hand, and the terrors of this
poor man's last scene on the other, affect me not, I must be abandoned to
perdition; as I fear thou wilt be, if thou benefittest not thyself from
Among the consolatory things I urged, when I was called up the last time
on Sunday night, I told him, that he must not absolutely give himself up
to despair: that many of the apprehensions he was under, were such as the
best men must have, on the dreadful uncertainty of what was to succeed to
this life. 'Tis well observed, said I, by a poetical divine, who was an
excellent christian,* That
Death could not a more sad retinue find,
Sickness and pain before, and darkness all behind.
* The Rev Mr. Norris, of Bremerton.
About eight o'clock yesterday (Monday) morning, I found him a little
calmer. He asked me who was the author of the two lines I had repeated
to him; and made me speak them over again. A sad retinue, indeed! said
the poor man. And then expressing his hopelessness of life, and his
terrors at the thoughts of dying; and drawing from thence terrible
conclusions with regard to his future state; There is, said I, such a
natural aversion to death in human nature, that you are not to imagine,
that you, my dear Belton, are singular in the fear of it, and in the
apprehensions that fill the thoughtful mind upon its approach; but you
ought, as much as possible, to separate those natural fears which all men
must have on so solemn an occasion, from those particular ones which your
justly-apprehended unfitness fills you with. Mr. Pomfret, in his
Prospect of Death, which I dipped into last night from a collection in
your closet, which I put into my pocket, says, [and I turned to the
Merely to die, no man of reason fears;
For certainly we must,
As we are born, return to dust;
'Tis the last point of many ling-ring years;
But whither then we go,
Whither, we fain would know;
But human understanding cannot show.
This makes US tremble----
Mr. Pomfret, therefore, proceeded I, had such apprehensions of this dark
state as you have: and the excellent divine I hinted at last night, who
had very little else but human frailties to reproach himself with, and
whose miscellanies fell into my hands among my uncle's books in my
attendance upon him in his last hours, says,
It must be done, my soul: but 'tis a strange,
A dismal, and mysterious change,
When thou shalt leave this tenement of clay,
And to an unknown--somewhere--wing away;
When time shall be eternity, and thou
Shalt be--thou know'st not what--and live--
thou know'st not how!
Amazing state! no wonder that we dread
To think of death, or view the dead;
Thou'rt all wrapt up in clouds, as if to thee
Our very knowledge had antipathy.
Then follows, what I repeated,
Death could not a more sad retinue find,
Sickness and pain before, and darkness all behind.
Alas! my dear Belford [inferred the unhappy deep-thinker] what poor
creatures does this convince me we mortals are at best!--But what then
must be the case of such a profligate as I, who by a past wicked life
have added greater force to these natural terrors? If death be so
repugnant a thing to human nature, that good men will be startled at it,
what must it be to one who has lived a life of sense and appetite; nor
ever reflected upon the end which I now am within view of?
What could I say to an inference so fairly drawn? Mercy, mercy,
unbounded mercy, was still my plea, though his repeated opposition of
justice to it, in a manner silenced that plea: and what would I have
given to have had rise in my mind, one good, eminently good action to
have remembered him of, in order to combat his fears with it?
I believe, Lovelace, I shall tire thee, and that more with the subject
of my letter, than even with the length of it. But really, I think thy
spirits are so offensively up since thy recovery, that I ought, as the
melancholy subjects offer, to endeavour to reduce thee to the standard
of humanity, by expatiating upon them. And then thou canst not but be
curious to know every thing that concerns the poor man, for whom thou
hast always expressed a great regard. I will therefore proceed as I have
begun. If thou likest not to read it now, lay it by, if thou wilt, till
the like circumstances befall thee, till like reflections from those
circumstances seize thee; and then take it up, and compare the two cases
At his earnest request, I sat up with him last night; and, poor man! it
is impossible to tell thee, how easy and safe he thought himself in my
company, for the first part of the night: A drowning man will catch at a
straw, the proverb well says: and a straw was I, with respect to any real
help I could give him. He often awaked in terrors; and once calling out
for me, Dear Belford, said he, Where are you!--Oh! There you are!--Give
me your friendly hand!--Then grasping it, and putting his clammy,
half-cold lips to it--How kind! I fear every thing when you are absent.
But the presence of a friend, a sympathising friend--Oh! how comfortable!
But, about four in the morning, he frighted me much: he waked with three
terrible groans; and endeavoured to speak, but could not presently--and
when he did,--Jack, Jack, Jack, five or six times repeated he as quick as
thought, now, now, now, save me, save me, save me--I am going--going
I threw my arms about him, and raised him upon his pillow, as he was
sinking (as if to hide himself) in the bed-clothes--And staring wildly,
Where am I? said he, a little recovering. Did you not see him? turning
his head this way and that; horror in his countenance; Did you not see
See whom, see what, my dear Belton!
O lay me upon the bed again, cried he!--Let me not die upon the floor!--
Lay me down gently; and stand by me!--Leave me not!--All, all will soon
You are already, my dear Belton, upon the bed. You have not been upon
the floor. This is a strong delirium; you are faint for want of
refreshment [for he had refused several times to take any thing]: let me
persuade you to take some of this cordial julap. I will leave you, if
you will not oblige me.
He then readily took it; but said he could have sworn that Tom. Metcalfe
had been in the room, and had drawn him out of bed by the throat,
upbraiding him with the injuries he had first done his sister, and then
him, in the duel to which he owed that fever which cost him his life.
Thou knowest the story, Lovelace, too well, to need my repeating it: but,
mercy on us, if in these terrible moments all the evils we do rise to our
frighted imaginations!--If so, what shocking scenes have I, but still
what more shocking ones hast thou, to go through, if, as the noble poet
If any sense at that sad time remains!
The doctor ordered him an opiate this morning early, which operated so
well, that he dosed and slept several hours more quietly than he had done
for the two past days and nights, though he had sleeping-draughts given
him before. But it is more and more evident every hour that nature is
almost worn out in him.
Mowbray, quite tired with this house of mourning, intends to set out in
the morning to find you. He was not a little rejoiced to hear you were
in town; I believe to have a pretence to leave us.
He has just taken leave of his poor friend, intending to go away early:
an everlasting leave, I may venture to say; for I think he will hardly
live till to-morrow night.
I believe the poor man would not have been sorry had he left him when I
arrived; for 'tis a shocking creature, and enjoys too strong health to
know how to pity the sick. Then (to borrow an observation from thee) he
has, by nature, strong bodily organs, which those of his soul are not
likely to whet out; and he, as well as the wicked friend he is going to,
may last a great while from the strength of their constitutions, though
so greatly different in their talents, if neither the sword nor the
I must repeat, That I cannot but be very uneasy for the poor lady whom
you so cruelly persecute; and that I do not think that you have kept your
honour with me. I was apprehensive, indeed, that you would attempt to
see her, as soon as you got well enough to come up; and I told her as
much, making use of it as an argument to prepare her for your visit, and
to induce her to stand it. But she could not, it is plain, bear the
shock of it: and indeed she told me that she would not see you, though
but for one half-hour, for the world.
Could she have prevailed upon herself, I know that the sight of her would
have been as affecting to you, as your visit could have been to her; when
you had seen to what a lovely skeleton (for she is really lovely still,
nor can she, with such a form and features, be otherwise) you have, in a
few weeks, reduced one of the most charming women in the world; and that
in the full bloom of her youth and beauty.
Mowbray undertakes to carry this, that he may be more welcome to you, he
says. Were it to be sent unsealed, the characters we write in would be
Hebrew to the dunce. I desire you to return it; and I'll give you a copy
of it upon demand; for I intend to keep it by me, as a guard against the
infection of your company, which might otherwise, perhaps, some time
hence, be apt to weaken the impressions I always desire to have of the
awful scene before me. God convert us both!
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY MORN. 11 O'CLOCK.
I believe no man has two such servants as I have. Because I treat them
with kindness, and do not lord it over my inferiors, and d--n and curse
them by looks and words like Mowbray; or beat their teeth out like
Lovelace; but cry, Pr'ythee, Harry, do this, and, Pr'ythee, Jonathan, do
that; the fellows pursue their own devices, and regard nothing I say, but
what falls in with these.
Here, this vile Harry, who might have brought your letter of yesterday in
good time, came not in with it till past eleven at night (drunk, I
suppose); and concluding that I was in bed, as he pretends (because he
was told I sat up the preceding night) brought it not to me; and having
overslept himself, just as I had sealed up my letter, in comes the
villain with the forgotten one, shaking his ears, and looking as if he
himself did not believe the excuses he was going to make. I questioned
him about it, and heard his pitiful pleas; and though I never think it
becomes a gentleman to treat people insolently who by their stations are
humbled beneath his feet, yet could I not forbear to Lovelace and Mowbray
him most cordially.
And this detaining Mowbray (who was ready to set out to you before) while
I write a few lines upon it, the fierce fellow, who is impatient to
exchange the company of a dying Belton for that of a too-lively Lovelace,
affixed a supplement of curses upon the staring fellow, that was larger
than my book--nor did I offer to take off the bear from such a mongrel,
since, on this occasion, he deserved not of me the protection which every
master owes to a good servant.
He has not done cursing him yet; for stalking about the court-yard with
his boots on, (the poor fellow dressing his horse, and unable to get from
him,) he is at him without mercy; and I will heighten his impatience,
(since being just under the window where I am writing, he will not let me
attend to my pen,) by telling you how he fills my ears as well as the
fellow's, with his--Hay, Sir! And G--d d--n ye, Sir! And were ye my
servant, ye dog ye! And must I stay here till the mid-day sun scorches
me to a parchment, for such a mangy dog's drunken neglect?--Ye lie,
Sirrah!--Ye lie, I tell you--[I hear the fellow's voice in an humble
excusatory tone, though not articulately] Ye lie, ye dog!--I'd a good
mind to thrust my whip down your drunken throat: d--n me, if I would not
flay the skin from the back of such a rascal, if thou wert mine, and have
dog's-skin gloves made of it, for thy brother scoundrels to wear in
remembrance of thy abuses of such a master.
The poor horse suffers for this, I doubt not; for, What now! and, Stand
still, and be d--d to ye, cries the fellow, with a kick, I suppose, which
he better deserves himself; for these varlets, where they can, are
Mowbrays and Lovelaces to man or beast; and not daring to answer him, is
flaying the poor horse.
I hear the fellow is just escaped, the horse, (better curried than
ordinary, I suppose, in half the usual time,) by his clanking shoes, and
Mowbray's silence, letting me know, that I may now write on: and so, I
will tell thee that, in the first place, (little as I, as well as you,
regard dreams,) I would have thee lay thine to heart; for I could give
thee such an interpretation of it, as would shock thee, perhaps; and if
thou askest me for it, I will.
Mowbray calls to me from the court-yard, that 'tis a cursed hot day, and
he shall be fried by riding in the noon of it: and that poor Belton longs
to see me. So I will only add my earnest desire, that you will give over
all thoughts of seeing the lady, if, when this comes to your hand, you
have not seen her: and, that it would be kind, if you'd come, and, for
the last time you will ever see your poor friend, share my concern for
him; and, in him, see what, in a little time, will be your fate and mine,
and that of Mowbray, Tourville, and the rest of us--For what are ten,
fifteen, twenty, or thirty years, to look back to; in the longest of
which periods forward we shall all perhaps be mingled with the dust from
which we sprung?
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY MORN. AUG. 23.
All alive, dear Jack, and in ecstacy!--Likely to be once more a happy
man! For I have received a letter from my beloved Miss HARLOWE; in
consequence, I suppose, of that which I mentioned in my last to be left
for her from her sister. And I am setting out for Berks directly, to
show the contents to my Lord M. and to receive the congratulations of all
my kindred upon it.
I went, last night, as I intended, to Smith's: but the dear creature was
not returned at near ten o'clock. And, lighting upon Tourville, I took
him home with me, and made him sing me out of my megrims. I went to bed
tolerably easy at two; had bright and pleasant dreams; (not such of a
frightful one as that I gave thee an account of;) and at eight this
morning, as I was dressing, to be in readiness against the return of my
fellow, whom I had sent to inquire after the lady, I had the following
letter brought to me by a chairman:
TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
TUESDAY NIGHT, 11 O'CLOCK (AUG. 22.)
I have good news to tell you. I am setting out with all diligence for my
father's house, I am bid to hope that he will receive his poor penitent
with a goodness peculiar to himself; for I am overjoyed with the
assurance of a thorough reconciliation, through the interposition of a
dear, blessed friend, whom I always loved and honoured. I am so taken up
with my preparation for this joyful and long-wished-for journey, that I
cannot spare one moment for any other business, having several matters of
the last importance to settle first. So, pray, Sir, don't disturb or
interrupt me--I beseech you don't. You may possibly in time see me at my
father's; at least if it be not your own fault.
I will write a letter, which shall be sent you when I am got thither and
received: till when, I am, &c.
I dispatched instantly a letter to the dear creature, assuring her, with
the most thankful joy, 'That I would directly set out for Berks, and wait
the issue of the happy reconciliation, and the charming hopes she had
filled me with. I poured out upon her a thousand blessings. I declared
that it should be the study of my whole life to merit such transcendent
goodness: and that there was nothing which her father or friends should
require at my hands, that I would not for her sake comply with, in order
to promote and complete so desirable a reconciliation.'
I hurried it away without taking a copy of it; and I have ordered the
chariot-and-six to be got ready; and hey for M. Hall! Let me but know
how Belton does. I hope a letter from thee is on the road. And if the
poor fellow can spare thee, make haste, I command thee, to attend this
truly divine lady. Thou mayest not else see her of months perhaps; at
least, not while she is Miss HARLOWE. And oblige me, if possible, with
one letter before she sets out, confirming to me and accounting for this
But what accounting for it is necessary? The dear creature cannot
receive consolation herself but she must communicate it to others. How
noble! She would not see me in her adversity; but no sooner does the sun
of prosperity begin to shine upon her than she forgives me.
I know to whose mediation all this is owing. It is to Colonel Morden's.
She always, as she says, loved and honoured him! And he loved her above
all his relations.
I shall now be convinced that there is something in dreams. The opening
cloud is the reconciliation in view. The bright form, lifting up my
charmer through it to a firmament stuck round with golden cherubims and
seraphims, indicates the charming little boys and girls, that will be the
fruits of this happy reconciliation. The welcomes, thrice repeated, are
those of her family, now no more to be deemed implacable. Yet are they
family, too, that my soul cannot mingle with.
But then what is my tumbling over and over through the floor into a
frightful hole, descending as she ascends? Ho! only this! it alludes to
my disrelish to matrimony: Which is a bottomless pit, a gulph, and I know
not what. And I suppose, had I not awoke in such a plaguy fright, I had
been soused into some river at the bottom of the hole, and then been
carried (mundified or purified from my past iniquities,) by the same
bright form (waiting for me upon the mossy banks,) to my beloved girl;
and we should have gone on cherubiming of it and caroling to the end of
But what are the black sweeping mantles and robes of Lord M. thrown over
my face? And what are those of the ladies? O Jack! I have these too:
They indicate nothing in the world but that my Lord will be so good as to
die, and leave me all he has. So, rest to thy good-natured soul, honest
Lady Sarah Sadleir and Lady Betty Lawrance, will also die, and leave me
Miss Charlotte and her sister--what will become of the?--Oh! they will be
in mourning, of course, for their uncle and aunts--that's right!
As to Morden's flashing through the window, and crying, Die, Lovelace,
and be d----d, if thou wilt not repair my cousin's wrong! That is only,
that he would have sent me a challenge, had I not been disposed to do the
All I dislike is this part of the dream: for, even in a dream, I would
not be thought to be threatened into any measure, though I liked it ever
And so much for my prophetic dream.
Dear charming creature! What a meeting will there be between her and her
father and mother and uncles! What transports, what pleasure, will this
happy, long-wished-for reconciliation give her dutiful heart! And indeed
now methinks I am glad she is so dutiful to them; for her duty to her
parents is a conviction to me that she will be as dutiful to her husband:
since duty upon principle is an uniform thing.
Why pr'ythee, now, Jack, I have not been so much to blame as thou
thinkest: for had it not been for me, who have led her into so much
distress, she could neither have received nor given the joy that will now
overwhelm them all. So here rises great and durable good out of
I know they loved her (the pride and glory of their family,) too well to
hold out long!
I wish I could have seen Arabella's letter. She has always been so much
eclipsed by her sister, that I dare say she has signified this
reconciliation to her with intermingled phlegm and wormwood; and her
invitation must certainly runs all in the rock-water style.
I shall long to see the promised letter too when she is got to her
father's, which I hope will give an account of the reception she will
There is a solemnity, however, I think, in the style of her letter, which
pleases and affects me at the same time. But as it is evident she loves
me still, and hopes soon to see me at her father's, she could not help
being a little solemn, and half-ashamed, [dear blushing pretty rogue!] to
own her love, after my usage of her.
And then her subscription: Till when, I am, CLARISSA HARLOWE: as much as
to say, after that, I shall be, if not to your own fault,
O my best love! My ever-generous and adorable creature! How much does
this thy forgiving goodness exalt us both!--Me, for the occasion given
thee! Thee, for turning it so gloriously to thy advantage, and to the
honour of both!
And if, my beloved creature, you will but connive at the imperfections of
your adorer, and not play the wife with me: if, while the charms of
novelty have their force with me, I should happen to be drawn aside by
the love of intrigue, and of plots that my soul delights to form and
pursue; and if thou wilt not be open-eyed to the follies of my youth, [a
transitory state;] every excursion shall serve but the more to endear
thee to me, till in time, and in a very little time too, I shall get
above sense; and then, charmed by thy soul-attracting converse; and
brought to despise my former courses; what I now, at distance, consider
as a painful duty, will be my joyful choice, and all my delight will
centre in thee!
Mowbray is just arrived with thy letters. I therefore close my agreeable
subject, to attend to one which I doubt will be very shocking.
I have engaged the rough varlet to bear me company in the morning to
Berks; where I shall file off the rust he has contracted in his
attendance upon the poor fellow.
He tells me that, between the dying Belton and the preaching Belford, he
shan't be his own man these three days: and says that thou addest to the
unhappy fellow's weakness, instead of giving him courage to help him to
bear his destiny.
I am sorry he takes the unavoidable lot so heavily. But he has been long
ill; and sickness enervates the mind as well as the body; as he himself
very significantly observed to thee.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
I have been reading thy shocking letter--Poor Belton! what a multitude of
lively hours have we passed together! He was a fearless, cheerful
fellow: who'd have thought all that should end in such dejected
whimpering and terror?
But why didst thou not comfort the poor man about the rencounter between
him and that poltroon Metcalfe? He acted in that affair like a man of
true honour, and as I should have acted in the same circumstances. Tell
him I say so; and that what happened he could neither help nor foresee.
Some people are as sensible of a scratch from a pin's point, as others
from a push of a sword: and who can say any thing for the sensibility of
such fellows? Metcalfe would resent for his sister, when his sister
resented not for herself. Had she demanded her brother's protection and
resentment, that would have been another man's matte, to speak in Lord
M.'s phrase: but she herself thought her brother a coxcomb to busy
himself undesired in her affairs, and wished for nothing but to be
provided for decently and privately in her lying-in; and was willing to
take the chance of Maintenon-ing his conscience in her favour,* and
getting him to marry when the little stranger came; for she knew what
an easy, good-natured fellow he was. And indeed if she had prevailed
upon him, it might have been happy for both; as then he would not have
fallen in with his cursed Thomasine. But truly this officious brother of
her's must interpose. This made a trifling affair important: And what
was the issue? Metcalfe challenged; Belton met him; disarmed him; gave
him his life: but the fellow, more sensible in his skin than in his head,
having received a scratch, was frighted: it gave him first a puke, then
a fever, and then he died, that was all. And how could Belton help that?
--But sickness, a long tedious sickness, will make a bugbear of any thing
to a languishing heart, I see that. And so far was Mowbray a-propos in
the verses from Nat. Lee, which thou hast described.
* Madam Maintenon was reported to have prevailed upon Lewis XIV. of
France, in his old age, (sunk, as he was, by ill success in the field,)
to marry her, by way of compounding with his conscience for the freedoms
of his past life, to which she attributed his public losses.
Merely to die, no man of reason fears, is a mistake, say thou, or say
thy author, what ye will. And thy solemn parading about the natural
repugnance between life and death, is a proof that it is.
Let me tell thee, Jack, that so much am I pleased with this world, in
the main; though, in some points too, the world (to make a person of it,)
has been a rascal to me; so delighted am I with the joys of youth; with
my worldly prospects as to fortune; and now, newly, with the charming
hopes given me by my dear, thrice dear, and for ever dear CLARISSA; that
were I even sure that nothing bad would come hereafter, I should be very
loth (very much afraid, if thou wilt have it so,) to lay down my life
and them together; and yet, upon a call of honour, no man fears death
less than myself.
But I have not either inclination or leisure to weigh thy leaden
arguments, except in the pig, or, as thou wouldst say, in the lump.
If I return thy letters, let me have them again some time hence, that is
to say, when I am married, or when poor Belton is half forgotten; or when
time has enrolled the honest fellow among those whom we have so long
lost, that we may remember them with more pleasure than pain; and then I
may give them a serious perusal, and enter with thee as deeply as thou
wilt into the subject.
When I am married, said I?--What a sound has that!
I must wait with patience for a sight of this charming creature, till she
is at her father's. And yet, as the but blossoming beauty, as thou
tellest me, is reduced to a shadow, I should have been exceedingly
delighted to see her now, and every day till the happy one; that I might
have the pleasure of observing how sweetly, hour by hour, she will rise
to her pristine glories, by means of that state of ease and contentment,
which will take place of the stormy past, upon her reconciliation with
her friends, and our happy nuptials.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Well, but now my heart is a little at ease, I will condescend to take
brief notice of some other passages in thy letters.
I find I am to thank thee, that the dear creature has avoided my visit.
Things are now in so good a train that I must forgive thee; else thou
shouldst have heard more of this new instance of disloyalty to thy
Thou art continually giving thyself high praise, by way of opposition, as
I may say, to others; gently and artfully blaming thyself for qualities
thou wouldst at the same time have to be thought, and which generally are
Thus, in the airs thou assumest about thy servants, thou wouldst pass for
a mighty humane mortal; and that at the expense of Mowbray and me, whom
thou representest as kings and emperors to our menials. Yet art thou
always unhappy in thy attempts of this kind, and never canst make us, who
know thee, believe that to be a virtue in thee, which is but the effect
of constitutional phlegm and absurdity.
Knowest thou not, that some men have a native dignity in their manner,
that makes them more regarded by a look, than either thou canst be in thy
low style, or Mowbray in his high?
I am fit to be a prince, I can tell thee, for I reward well, and I punish
seasonably and properly; and I am generally as well served by any man.
The art of governing these underbred varlets lies more in the dignity of
looks than in words; and thou art a sorry fellow, to think humanity
consists in acting by thy servants, as men must act who are not able to
pay them their wages; or had made them masters of secrets, which, if
divulged, would lay them at the mercy of such wretches.
Now to me, who never did any thing I was ashamed to own, and who have
more ingenuousness than ever man had; who can call a villany by its own
right name, though practised by myself, and (by my own readiness to
reproach myself) anticipate all reproach from others; who am not such a
hypocrite, as to wish the world to think me other or better than I am--
it is my part, to look a servant into his duty, if I can; nor will I keep
one who knows not how to take me by a nod, or a wink; and who, when I
smile, shall not be all transport; when I frown, all terror. If, indeed,
I am out of the way a little, I always take care to rewards the varlets
for patiently bearing my displeasure. But this I hardly ever am but when
a fellow is egregiously stupid in any plain point of duty, or will be
wiser than his master; and when he shall tell me, that he thought acting
contrary to my orders was the way to serve me best.
One time or other I will enter the lists with thee upon thy conduct and
mine to servants; and I will convince thee, that what thou wouldst have
pass for humanity, if it be indiscriminately practised to all tempers,
will perpetually subject thee to the evils thou complainest of; and
justly too; and that he only is fit to be a master of servants, who can
command their attention as much by a nod, as if he were to pr'ythee a
fellow to do his duty, on one hand, or to talk of flaying, and
horse-whipping, like Mowbray, on the other: for the servant who being
used to expect thy creeping style, will always be master of his master,
and he who deserves to be treated as the other, is not fit to be any
man's servant; nor would I keep such a fellow to rub my horse's heels.
I shall be the readier to enter the lists with thee upon this argument,
because I have presumption enough to think that we have not in any of our
dramatic poets, that I can at present call to mind, one character of a
servant of either sex, that is justly hit off. So absurdly wise some,
and so sottishly foolish others; and both sometime in the same person.
Foils drawn from lees or dregs of the people to set off the characters of
their masters and mistresses; nay, sometimes, which is still more absurd,
introduced with more wit than the poet has to bestow upon their
principals.--Mere flints and steels to strike fire with--or, to vary the
metaphor, to serve for whetstones to wit, which, otherwise, could not be
made apparent; or, for engines to be made use of like the machinery of
the antient poets, (or the still more unnatural soliloquy,) to help on a
sorry plot, or to bring about a necessary eclaircissement, to save the
poet the trouble of thinking deeply for a better way to wind up his
Of this I am persuaded, (whatever my practice be to my own servants,)
that thou wilt be benefited by my theory, when we come to controvert the
point. For then I shall convince thee, that the dramatic as well as
natural characteristics of a good servant ought to be fidelity, common
sense, cheerful obedience, and silent respect; that wit in his station,
except to his companions, would be sauciness; that he should never
presume to give his advice; that if he venture to expostulate upon any
unreasonable command, or such a one a appeared to him to be so, he should
do it with humility and respect, and take a proper season for it. But
such lessons do most of the dramatic performances I have seen give, where
servants are introduced as characters essential to the play, or to act
very significant or long parts in it, (which, of itself, I think a
fault;) such lessons, I say, do they give to the footmen's gallery, that
I have not wondered we have so few modest or good men-servants among
those who often attend their masters or mistresses to plays. Then how
miserably evident must that poet's conscious want of genius be, who can
stoop to raise or give force to a clap by the indiscriminate roar of the
But this subject I will suspend to a better opportunity; that is to say,
to the happy one, when my nuptials with my Clarissa will oblige me to
increase the number of my servants, and of consequence to enter more
nicely into their qualifications.
Although I have the highest opinion that man can have of the generosity
of my dear Miss Harlowe, yet I cannot for the heart of me account for
this agreeable change in her temper but one way. Faith and troth,
Belford, I verily believe, laying all circumstances together, that the
dear creature unexpectedly finds herself in the way I have so ardently
wished her to be in; and that this makes her, at last, incline to favour
me, that she may set the better face upon her gestation, when at her
If this be the case, all her falling away, and her fainting fits, are
charmingly accounted for. Nor is it surprising, that such a sweet novice
in these matters should not, for some time, have known to what to
attribute her frequent indispositions. If this should be the case, how I
shall laugh at thee! and (when I am sure of her) at the dear novice
herself, that all her grievous distresses shall end in a man-child; which
I shall love better than all the cherubims and seraphims that may come
after; though there were to be as many of them as I beheld in my dream;
in which a vast expanse of firmament was stuck as full of them as it
I shall be afraid to open thy next, lest it bring me the account of poor
Belton's death. Yet, as there are no hopes of his recovery--but what
should I say, unless the poor man were better fitted--but thy heavy
sermon shall not affect me too much neither.
I enclose thy papers; and do thou transcribe them for me, or return them;
for there are some things in them, which, at a proper season, a mortal
man should not avoid attending to; and thou seemest to have entered
deeply into the shocking subject.--But here I will end, lest I grow too
Thy servant called here about an hour ago, to know if I had any commands;
I therefore hope that thou wilt have this early in the morning. And if
thou canst let me hear from thee, do. I'll stretch an hour or two in
expectation of it. Yet I must be at Lord M.'s to-morrow night, if
possible, though ever so late.
Thy fellow tells me the poor man is much as he was when Mowbray left him.
Wouldst thou think that this varlet Mowbray is sorry that I am so near
being happy with Miss Harlowe? And, 'egad, Jack, I know not what to say
to it, now the fruit seems to be within my reach--but let what will come,
I'll stand to't: for I find I can't live without her.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
WEDNESDAY, THREE O'CLOCK.
I will proceed where I left off in my last.
As soon as I had seen Mowbray mounted, I went to attend upon poor Belton;
whom I found in dreadful agonies, in which he awoke, after he generally
The doctor came in presently after, and I was concerned at the scene that
passed between them.
It opened with the dying man's asking him, with melancholy earnestness,
if nothing--if nothing at all could be done for him?
The doctor shook his head, and told him, he doubted not.
I cannot die, said the poor man--I cannot think of dying. I am very
desirous of living a little longer, if I could but be free from these
horrible pains in my stomach and head. Can you give me nothing to make
me pass one week--but one week, in tolerable ease, that I may die like a
man, if I must die!
But, Doctor, I am yet a young man; in the prime of my years--youth is a
good subject for a physician to work upon--Can you do nothing--nothing at
all for me, Doctor?
Alas! Sir, replied his physician, you have been long in a bad way. I
fear, I fear, nothing in physic can help you!
He was then out of all patience: What, then, is your art, Sir?--I have
been a passive machine for a whole twelvemonth, to be wrought upon at the
pleasure of you people of the faculty.--I verily believe, had I not taken
such doses of nasty stuff, I had been now a well man--But who the plague
would regard physicians, whose art is to cheat us with hopes while they
help to destroy us?--And who, not one of you, know any thing but by
Sir, continued he, fiercely, (and with more strength of voice and
coherence, than he had shown for several hours before,) if you give me
over, I give you over.--The only honest and certain part of the art of
healing is surgery. A good surgeon is worth a thousand of you. I have
been in surgeons' hands often, and have always found reason to depend
upon their skill; but your art, Sir, what is it?--but to daub, daub,
daub; load, load, load; plaster, plaster, plaster; till ye utterly
destroy the appetite first, and the constitution afterwards, which you
are called in to help. I had a companion once, my dear Belford, thou
knewest honest Blomer, as pretty a physician he would have made as any
in England, had he kept himself from excess in wine and women; and he
always used to say, there was nothing at all but the pick-pocket parade
in the physician's art; and that the best guesser was the best physician.
And I used to believe him too--and yet, fond of life, and fearful of
death, what do we do, when we are taken ill, but call ye in? And what
do ye do, when called in, but nurse our distempers, till from pigmies you
make giants of them? and then ye come creeping with solemn faces, when ye
are ashamed to prescribe, or when the stomach won't bear its natural
food, by reason of your poisonous potions,--Alas, I am afraid physic can
do no more for him!--Nor need it, when it has brought to the brink of the
grave the poor wretch who placed all his reliance in your cursed slops,
and the flattering hopes you gave him.
The doctor was out of countenance; but said, if we could make mortal men
immortal, and would not, all this might be just.
I blamed the poor man; yet excused him to the physician. To die, dear
Doctor, when, like my poor friend, we are so desirous of life, is a
melancholy thing. We are apt to hope too much, not considering that the
seeds of death are sown in us when we begin to live, and grow up, till,
like rampant weeds, they choke the tender flower of life; which declines
in us as those weeds flourish. We ought, therefore, to begin early to
study what our constitutions will bear, in order to root out, by
temperance, the weeds which the soil is most apt to produce; or, at
least, to keep them down as they rise; and not, when the flower or plant
is withered at the root, and the weed in its full vigour, expect, that
the medical art will restore the one, or destroy the other; when that
other, as I hinted, has been rooting itself in the habit from the time of
This speech, Bob., thou wilt call a prettiness; but the allegory is just;
and thou hast not quite cured me of the metaphorical.
Very true, said the doctor; you have brought a good metaphor to
illustrate the thing. I am sorry I can do nothing for the gentleman; and
can only recommend patience, and a better frame of mind.
Well, Sir, said the poor angry man, vexed at the doctor, but more at
death, you will perhaps recommend the next succession to the physician,
when he can do no more; and, I suppose, will send your brother to pray by
me for those virtues which you wish me.
It seems the physician's brother is a clergyman in the neighbourhood.
I was greatly concerned to see the gentleman thus treated; and so I told
poor Belton when he was gone; but he continued impatient, and would not
be denied, he said, the liberty of talking to a man, who had taken so
many guineas of him for doing nothing, or worse than nothing, and never
declined one, though he know all the time he could do him no good.
It seems the gentleman, though rich, is noted for being greedy after
fees! and poor Belton went on raving at the extravagant fees of English
physicians, compared with those of the most eminent foreign ones. But,
poor man! he, like the Turks, who judge of a general by his success, (out
of patience to think he must die,) would have worshipped the doctor, and
not grudged thee times the sum, could he have given him hopes of
But, nevertheless, I must needs say, that gentlemen of the faculty should
be more moderate in their fees, or take more pains to deserve them; for,
generally, they only come into a room, feel the sick man's pulse, ask the
nurse a few questions, inspect the patient's tongue, and, perhaps, his
water; then sit down, look plaguy wise, and write. The golden fee finds
the ready hand, and they hurry away, as if the sick man's room were
infectious. So to the next they troll, and to the next, if men of great
practice; valuing themselves upon the number of visits they make in a
morning, and the little time they make them in. They go to dinner and
unload their pockets; and sally out again to refill them. And thus, in a
little time, they raise vast estates; for, as Ratcliffe said, when first
told of a great loss which befell him, It was only going up and down one
hundred pairs of stairs to fetch it up.
Mrs. Sambre (Belton's sister) had several times proposed to him a
minister to pray by him, but the poor man could not, he said, bear the
thoughts of one; for that he should certainly die in an hour or two
after; and he was willing to hope still, against all probability, that he
might recover; and was often asking his sister if she had not seen people
as bad as he was, who, almost to a miracle, when every body gave them
over, had got up again?
She, shaking her head, told him she had; but, once saying, that their
disorders were of an acute kind, and such as had a crisis in them, he
called her Small-hopes, and Job's comforter; and bid her say nothing, if
she could not say more to the purpose, and what was fitter for a sick man
to hear. And yet, poor fellow, he has no hopes himself, as is plain by
his desponding terrors; one of which he fell into, and a very dreadful
one, soon after the doctor went.
WEDNESDAY, NINE O'CLOCK AT NIGHT.
The poor man had been in convulsions, terrible convulsions! for an hour
past. O Lord! Lovelace, death is a shocking thing! by my faith it is!--
I wish thou wert present on this occasion. It is not merely the concern
a man has for his friend; but, as death is the common lot, we see, in his
agonies, how it will be one day with ourselves. I am all over as if cold
water were poured down my back, or as if I had a strong ague-fit upon me.
I was obliged to come away. And I write, hardly knowing what.--I wish
thou wert here.
Though I left him, because I could stay no longer, I can't be easy by
myself, but must go to him again.
Poor Belton!--Drawing on apace! Yet was he sensible when I went in--too
sensible, poor man! He has something upon his mind to reveal, he tells
me, that is the worst action of his life; worse than ever you or I knew
of him, he says. It must then be very bad!
He ordered every body out; but was seized with another convulsion-fit,
before he could reveal it; and in it he lies struggling between life and
death--but I'll go in again.
ONE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.
All now must soon be over with him: Poor, poor fellow! He has given me
some hints of what he wanted to say; but all incoherent, interrupted by
dying hiccoughs and convulsions.
Bad enough it must be, Heaven knows, by what I can gather!--Alas!
Lovelace, I fear, I fear, he came too soon into his uncle's estate.
If a man were to live always, he might have some temptation to do base
things, in order to procure to himself, as it would then be, everlasting
ease, plenty, or affluence; but, for the sake of ten, twenty, thirty
years of poor life to be a villain--Can that be worth while? with a
conscience stinging him all the time too! And when he comes to wind up
all, such agonizing reflections upon his past guilt! All then appearing
as nothing! What he most valued, most disgustful! and not one thing to
think of, as the poor fellow says twenty and twenty times over, but what
is attended with anguish and reproach!--
To hear the poor man wish he had never been born!--To hear him pray to be
nothing after death! Good God! how shocking!
By his incoherent hints, I am afraid 'tis very bad with him. No pardon,
no mercy, he repeats, can lie for him!
I hope I shall make a proper use of this lesson. Laugh at me if thou
wilt; but never, never more, will I take the liberties I have taken; but
whenever I am tempted, will think of Belton's dying agonies, and what my
own may be.
THURSDAY, THREE IN THE MORNING.
He is now at the last gasp--rattles in the throat--has a new convulsion
every minute almost! What horror is he in! His eyes look like
breath-stained glass! They roll ghastly no more; are quite set; his face
distorted, and drawn out, by his sinking jaws, and erected staring
eyebrows, with his lengthened furrowed forehead, to double its usual
length, as it seems. It is not, it cannot be the face of Belton, thy
Belton, and my Belton, whom we have beheld with so much delight over the
social bottle, comparing notes, that one day may be brought against us,
and make us groan, as they very lately did him--that is to say, while he
had strength to groan; for now his voice is not to be heard; all inward,
lost; not so much as speaking by his eyes; yet, strange! how can it be?
the bed rocking under him like a cradle.
Alas: he's gone! that groan, that dreadful groan,
Was the last farewell of the parting mind!
The struggling soul has bid a long adieu
To its late mansion--Fled! Ah! whither fled?
Now is all indeed over!--Poor, poor Belton! by this time thou knowest if
thy crimes were above the size of God's mercies! Now are every one's
cares and attendance at an end! now do we, thy friends,--poor Belton!--
know the worst of thee, as to this life! Thou art released from
insufferable tortures both of body and mind! may those tortures, and thy
repentance, expiate for thy offences, and mayest thou be happy to all
We are told, that God desires not the death, the spiritual death of a
sinner: And 'tis certain, that thou didst deeply repent! I hope,
therefore, as thou wert not cut off in the midst of thy sins by the sword
of injured friendship, which more than once thou hadst braved, [the
dreadfullest of all deaths, next to suicide, because it gives no
opportunity for repentance] that this is a merciful earnest that thy
penitence is accepted; and that thy long illness, and dreadful agonies in
the last stages of it, were thy only punishment.
I wish indeed, I heartily wish, we could have seen one ray of comfort
darting in upon his benighted mind, before he departed. But all, alas!
to the very last gasp, was horror and confusion. And my only fear arises
from this, that, till within the four last days of his life, he could not
be brought to think he should die, though in a visible decline for
months; and, in that presumption, was too little inclined to set about a
serious preparation for a journey, which he hoped he should not be
obliged to take; and when he began to apprehend that he could not put it
off, his impatience, and terror, and apprehension, showed too little of
that reliance and resignation, which afford the most comfortable
reflections to the friends of the dying, as well as to the dying
But we must leave poor Belton to that mercy, of which we have all so much
need; and, for my own part (do you, Lovelace, and the rest of the
fraternity, as ye will) I am resolved, I will endeavour to begin to
repent of my follies while my health is sound, my intellects untouched,
and while it is in my power to make some atonement, as near to
restitution or reparation, as is possible, to those I have wronged or
misled. And do ye outwardly, and from a point of false bravery, make as
light as ye will of my resolution, as ye are none of ye of the class of
abandoned and stupid sots who endeavour to disbelieve the future
existence of which ye are afraid, I am sure you will justify me in your
hearts, if not by your practices; and one day you will wish you had
joined with me in the same resolution, and will confess there is more
good sense in it, than now perhaps you will own.
SEVEN O'CLOCK, THURSDAY MORNING.
You are very earnest, by your last letter, (just given me) to hear again
from me, before you set out for Berks. I will therefore close with a few
words upon the only subject in your letter which I can at present touch
upon: and this is the letter of which you give me a copy from the lady.
Want of rest, and the sad scene I have before my eyes, have rendered me
altogether incapable of accounting for the contents of it in any shape.
You are in ecstacies upon it. You have reason to be so, if it be as you
think. Nor would I rob you of your joy: but I must say I am amazed at
Surely, Lovelace, this surprising letter cannot be a forgery of thy own,
in order to carry on some view, and to impose upon me. Yet, by the style
of it, it cannot though thou art a perfect Proteus too.
I will not, however, add another word, after I have desired the return of
this, and have told you that I am
Your true friend, and well-wisher,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
AUG. 24, THURSDAY MORNING.
I received thy letter in such good time, by thy fellow's dispatch, that
it gives me an opportunity of throwing in a few paragraphs upon it. I
read a passage or two of it to Mowbray; and we both agree that thou art
an absolute master of the lamentable.
Poor Belton! what terrible conflicts were thy last conflicts!--I hope,
however, that he is happy: and I have the more hope, because the hardness
of his death is likely to be such a warning to thee. If it have the
effect thou declarest it shall have, what a world of mischief will it
prevent! how much good will it do! how many poor wretches will rejoice at
the occasion, (if they know it,) however melancholy in itself, which
shall bring them in a compensation for injuries they had been forced to
sit down contented with! But, Jack, though thy uncle's death has made
thee a rich fellow, art thou sure that the making good of such a vow will
not totally bankrupt thee?
Thou sayest I may laugh at thee, if I will. Not I, Jack: I do not take
it to be a laughing subject: and I am heartily concerned at the loss we
all have in poor Belton: and when I get a little settled, and have
leisure to contemplate the vanity of all sublunary things (a subject that
will now-and-then, in my gayest hours, obtrude itself upon me) it is very
likely that I may talk seriously with thee upon these topics; and, if
thou hast not got too much the start of me in the repentance thou art
entering upon, will go hand-in-hand with thee in it. If thou hast, thou
wilt let me just keep thee in my eye; for it is an up-hill work; and I
shall see thee, at setting out, at a great distance; but as thou art a
much heavier and clumsier fellow than myself, I hope that without much
puffing and sweating, only keeping on a good round dog-trot, I shall be
able to overtake thee.
Mean time, take back thy letter, as thou desirest. I would not have it
in my pocket upon any account at present; nor read it once more.
I am going down without seeing my beloved. I was a hasty fool to write
her a letter, promising that I would not come near her till I saw her at
her father's. For as she is now actually at Smith's, and I so near her,
one short visit could have done no harm.
I sent Will., two hours ago, with my grateful compliments, and to know
how she does.
How must I adore this charming creature! for I am ready to think my
servant a happier fellow than myself, for having been within a pair of
stairs and an apartment of her.
Mowbray and I will drop a tear a-piece, as we ride along, to the memory
of poor Belton:--as we ride along, said I: for we shall have so much joy
when we arrive at Lord M.'s, and when I communicate to him and my cousins
the dear creature's letter, that we shall forget every thing grievous:
since now their family-hopes in my reformation (the point which lies so
near their hearts) will all revive; it being an article of their faith,
that if I marry, repentance and mortification will follow of course.
Neither Mowbray nor I shall accept of thy verbal invitation to the
funeral. We like not these dismal formalities. And as to the respect
that is supposed to be shown to the memory of a deceased friend in such
an attendance, why should we do any thing to reflect upon those who have
made it a fashion to leave this parade to people whom they hire for that
Adieu, and be cheerful. Thou canst now do no more for poor Belton, wert
thou to howl for him to the end of thy life.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
SAT. AUG. 26.
On Thursday afternoon I assisted at the opening of poor Belton's will, in
which he has left me his sole executor, and bequeathed me a legacy of an
hundred guineas; which I shall present to his unfortunate sister, to whom
he has not been so kind as I think he ought to have been. He has also
left twenty pounds a-piece to Mowbray, Tourville, thyself, and me, for a
ring to be worn in remembrance of him.
After I had given some particular orders about the preparations to be
made for his funeral, I went to town; but having made it late before I
got in on Thursday night, and being fatigued for want of rest several
nights before, and now in my spirits, [I could not help it, Lovelace!] I
contented myself to send my compliments to the innocent sufferer, to
inquire after her health.
My servant saw Mrs. Smith, who told him, she was very glad I was come to
town; for that lady was worse than she had yet been.
It is impossible to account for the contents of her letter to you; or to
reconcile those contents to the facts I have to communicate.
I was at Smith's by seven yesterday (Friday) morning; and found that the
lady was just gone in a chair to St. Dunstan's to prayers: she was too
ill to get out by six to Covent-garden church; and was forced to be
supported to her chair by Mrs. Lovick. They would have persuaded her
against going; but she said she knew not but it would be her last
opportunity. Mrs. Lovick, dreading that she would be taken worse at
church, walked thither before her.
Mrs. Smith told me she was so ill on Wednesday night, that she had
desired to receive the sacrament; and accordingly it was administered to
her, by the parson of the parish: whom she besought to take all
opportunities of assisting her in her solemn preparation.
This the gentleman promised: and called in the morning to inquire after
her health; and was admitted at the first word. He staid with her about
half an hour; and when he came down, with his face turned aside, and a
faltering accent, 'Mrs. Smith,' said he, 'you have an angel in your
house.--I will attend her again in the evening, as she desires, and as
often as I think it will be agreeable to her.'
Her increased weakness she attributed to the fatigues she had undergone
by your means; and to a letter she had received from her sister, which
she answered the same day.
Mrs. Smith told me that two different persons had called there, one on
Thursday morning, one in the evening, to inquire after her state of
health; and seemed as if commissioned from her relations for that
purpose; but asked not to see her, only were very inquisitive after her
visiters: (particularly, it seems, after me: What could they mean by
that?) after her way of life, and expenses; and one of them inquired
after her manner of supporting them; to the latter of which, Mrs. Smith
said, she had answered, as the truth was, that she had been obliged to
sell some of her clothes, and was actually about parting with more; at
which the inquirist (a grave old farmer-looking man) held up his hands,
and said, Good God!--this will be sad, sad news to somebody! I believe
I must not mention it. But Mrs. Smith says she desired he would, let him
come from whom he would. He shook his head, and said if she died, the
flower of the world would be gone, and the family she belonged to would
be no more than a common family.* I was pleased with the man's
* This man came from her cousin Morden; as will be seen hereafter,
Letters LII. and LVI. of this volume.