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tion, as his humanity, I am sure, will distinguish him to the lady.
Mrs. Lovick gratified me with an account of a letter she had written from the lady's mouth to Miss Howe; she being unable to write herself with steadiness.
It was to this effect; in answer, it seems, to her two letters, whatever were the contents of them:
'That she had been involved in a dreadful calamity, which she was sure, when known, would exempt her from the effects of her friendly displeasure, for not answering her first; having been put under an arrest—could she have believed it?— That she was released but the day before: and was now so weak and so low, that she was obliged to get a widow gentlewoman in the same house to account thus for her silence to her [Miss Howe's] two letters of the 13th and 16th: that she would, as soon as able, answer them—begged of her, meantime, not to be uneasy for her; since (only that this was a calamity which came upon her when she was far from being well; a load laid upon the shoulders of a poor wretch, ready before to sink under too heavy a burden) it was nothing to the evil she had before suffered: and one felicity seemed likely to issue from it; which was that she would be at rest, in an honest house, with considerate and kind-hearted people; having assurance given her, that she should not be molested by the wretch,' whom it would be death for her to see: so that now she [Miss HoweJ needed not to send to her by private and expensive conveyances: nor need Collins to take precautions for fear of being dogged to her lodgings; nor. need she write by a fictitious name to her, but by her own.'
You see I am in a way to oblige you: you see hpw much, she depends upon my engaging for your forbearing to intrude yourself into her company: let not your flaming impatience destroy all; and make me look like a villain to a lady who has reason to suspect every man she sees to be so.— Upon this condition, you may expect all the services that can flow from true friendship, and from Your sincere well-wisher,
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Tuesday night, July 18. I Am just come from the lady. I was admitted into the dining-room, where she was sitting in an elbow-chair, in a very weak and low way. She made an effort to stand up, when I entered; but was forced to keep her seat. You'll excuse me, Mr. Belford: I ought to rise to thank you for all your kindness to me. I was to blame to be so loth to leave that sad place: for I am in heaven here, to what I was there; and good people about me, too!—I have not had good people about me for a long, long time before; so that [with a halfsmile] I had begun to wonder whither they were all gone.
Her nurse and Mrs. Smith, who were present, took occasion to retire: and, when we were alone, You seem to be a person of humanity, sir, said she: you hinted, as I was leaving my prison, that yon were not a stranger to my sad story. If you know it truly, you must know that I have been most barbarously treated; and have not deserved it at the man's hands by whom I have suffered.
I told her, I knew enough to be convinced, that she had the merit of a saint, and the purity of an angel: and was proceeding, when she said, No flighty compliments! No undue attributes, sir!
I offered to plead for my sincerity; and mentioned the word politeness; and would have distinguished between that andflattery. Nothing can be polite, said she, that is not just: whatever 1 may have had; I have now no vanity to gratify.
I disclaimed all intentions of compliment: all I had said, and what I should say, was, and should be, the effect of sincere veneration. My unhappy friend's account of her had entitled her to that.
I then mentioned your grief, your penitence, your resolutions of making her all the amends that were possible now to be made her: and in the most earnest manner, I asserted your innocence as to the last villanous outrage.
Her answer was to this effect—It is painful to me to think of him. The amends you talk of, cannot be made. This last violence you speak of, is nothing to what preceded it. That cannot be atoned for: nor palliated: this may; and I shall not be sorry to be convinced, that he cannot be guilty of so very low a wickedness.—Yet, after his vile forgeries of hands—after his baseness in imposing upon me the most infamous persons as ladies of honour of his own family—what are the iniquities he is not capable of?
I would then have given her an account of the trial you stood with your friends: your own previous resolutions of marriage, had she honoured you with the requested Jour words: all your family's earnestness to have the honour of her alliance : and the application of your two cousins to Miss Howe, by general consent, for that young lady's interest with her: but, having just touched upon these topics, she cut me short, saying, that was a cause before another tribunal: Miss Howe's letters to her were upon that subject; and she would write her thoughts to her as soon as she was able.
I then attempted more particularly to clear you of having any hand in the vile Sinclair's officious arrest; a point she had the generosity to wish you cleared of: and having mentioned the outrageous letter you had written to me on this occasion, she asked, if I had that letter about me?
I owned I had.
She wished to see it.
This puzzled me horribly: for you must needs think, that most of the free things, which, among us rakes, pass for wit and spirit, must be shocking stuff to the ears or eyes of persons of delicacy of that sex: and then such an air of levity runs through thy most serious letters; such a false bravery, endeavouring to carry off ludicrously the subjects that most affect thee; that those letters are generally the least fit to be seen, which ought to be most to thy credit.
Something like this I observed to her; and would fain have excused myself from shewing it.: but she was so earnest, that I undertook to read some parts of it, resolving to omit the most exceptionable.
I know thou'lt curse me for that: but I thought it better to oblige her, than to be suspected myself; and so not have it in my power to serve thee with her, when so good a foundation was laid for it; and when she knows as bad of thee as I can tell her.
Thou rememberest the contents, I suppose, of thy furious letter*. Her remarks upon the different parts of it, which I read to her, were to the following effect:
Upon the two first lines, all undone!'undone, by
* See letter lxii. .
Jupiler! zounds, Jack, what shall I do now! A curse upon all my plots and contrivances! thus she expressed herself:
'O how light, how unaffected with the sense of its own crimes, is the heart that could dictate to the pen this libertine froth!'
The paragraph which mentions the vile arrest, affected her a good deal.
In the next I omitted thy curse upon thy relations, whom thou wert gallanting: and read on the seven subsequent paragraphs down to thy execrable wish; which was too shocking to read to her. What I read produced the following reflections from her:
'The plots and contrivances which he curses, and the exultings of the wicked wretches on finding me out, shew me, that all his guilt was premeditated: nor doubt I, that his dreadful perjuries, and inhuman arts, as he went along, were to pass for fine stratagems; for witty sport; and to demonstrate a superiority of inventive talents.—O my cruel, cruel brother! had it not been for thee, I had not been thrown upon so pernicious and so despicable a plotter !—But proceed, sir; pray proceed.'
At that part, canst thou, 0 fatal prognosticator! tell me where my punishment will end?—She sighed: and when I came to that sentence praying, for my reformation, perhaps—Is that there? said she, sighing again. Wretched man !—And shed a tear for thee.—By my faith, Lovelace, I believe she hates thee not! She has at least a concern, a generous concern for thy future happiness !—What a noble creature hast thou injured!
She made a very severe reflection upon me, on reading these words—on your knees, for me, beg her pardon—' You had all your lessons, sir, said she, when you came to redeem me—you was so condesVol. vi. * *