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fortunes are already dissipated; and the remaining fourth will probably soon go after the other three.
Poor Belton! we see how it is with him !—His only felicity is, that he will hardly live to want.
Thou art too proud, and too prudent, ever to be destitute; and, to do thee justice, hast a spirit to assist such of thy friends as may be reduced; and wilt, if thou shouldst then be living. But I think thou must, much sooner than thou imaginest, be called to thy account—knocked on the head perhaps by the friends of those whom thou hast injured; for if thou escapest this fate from the Harlowe family, thou wilt go on tempting danger and vengeance, till thou meetest with vengeance; and this, whether thou marriest or not: for the nuptial life will not, I doubt, till age join with it, cure thee of that spirit for intrigue, which is continually running away with thee, in spite of thy better sense, and transitory resolutions.
Well, then, I will suppose thee laid down quietly among thy worthier ancestors.
And now let me look forward to the ends of Tourville and Mowbray, [Belton will be crumbled into dust before thee perhaps] supposing thy early exit has saved them from gallows intervention.
Reduced, probably, by riotous waste to consequential want, behold them refuged in some obscene hole or garret: obliged to the careless care of some dirty old woman, whom nothing but her poverty prevails upon to attend to perform the last offices for men who have made such shocking ravage among the young ones.
Then how miserably will they whine through squeaking organs; their big voices turned into puling pity-begging lamentations! Their now offensive paws, how helpless then!—Their now erect necks then denying support to their aching heads; those globes of mischief dropping upon their quaking shoulders. Then what wry faces will they make! their hearts and their heads reproaching each other !—Distended their parched mouths !— Sunk their unmuscled cheeks!—Dropt their underjaws!—Each grunting like the swine he had resembled in his life! Oh ! what a vile wretch have I been! Oh! that I had my life to come over again!—Confessing to the poor old woman, who cannot shrive them! Imaginary ghosts of deflowered virgins, and polluted matrons, flitting before their glassy eyes! And old Satan, to their apprehensions, grinning behind a looking-glass held up before them, to frighten them with the horror visible in their own countenances!
For my own part, if I can get some good family to credit me with a sister or a daughter, as I have now an increased fortune, which will enable me to> propose handsome settlements, I will desert ye all; marry, and live a life of reason, rather than a life of brute, for the time to come.
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Thursday night. I Was forced to take back my twenty guineas. How the women managed it, I can't tell (I suppose they too readily found a purchaser for the rich suit;) but she mistrusted, that I was the advancer of the money; and would not let the clothes go. But Mrs. Lovick has actually sold for fifteen guineas, some rich lace worth three times the sum; out of which she repaid her the money she borrowed for fees to the doctor, in an illness occasioned by the barbarity of the most savage of men. Thou knoxvest his name!
The doctor called on her in the morning, it seems, and had a short debate with her about fees. She insisted, that he should take one every time he came, write or not write; mistrusting, that he only gave verbal directions to Mrs. Lovick, or the nurse, to avoid taking any.
He said, that it would have been impossible for him, had he not been a physician, to forbear inquiries after the health and welfare of so excellent a person. He had not the thought of paying her a compliment in declining the offered fee: but he knew her case could not so suddenly vary, as to demand his daily visits. She must permit him, therefore, to inquire of the women below after her health; and he must not think of coming up, if he were to be pecuniarily rewarded for the satisfaction he was so desirous to give himself.
It ended in a compromise for a fee each other time; which she unwillingly submitted to; telling him, that though she was at present desolate and in disgrace, yet her circumstances were, of right, high; and no expenses could rise so, as to be scrupled, whether she lived or died. But she submitted, she added, to the compromise, in hopes to see him as often as he had opportunity; for she really looked upon him, and Mr. Goddard, from their kind and tender treatment of her, with a regard next to filial.
I hope thou wilt make thyself acquainted with this worthy doctor, when thou comest to town; and give him thy thanks, for putting her into conceit with the sex that thou hast given her so much reason to execrate. . .:
MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
M. Hall, Friday, July 21. Just returned from an interview with this Hickman: a precise fop of a fellow, as starched as his ruffles.
Thou knowest I love him not, Jack; and whom we love not, we cannot allow a merit to; perhaps not the merit they should be granted. However, I am in earnest, when I say, that he seems to me to be so set, so prim, so affected, so mincing, yet so clouterly in his person, that I dare engage for thy opinion, if thou dost justice to him, and to thyself, that thou never beheldest such another, except in a pier glass.
I'll tell thee how I play'd him off.
He came in his own chariot to Dormer's; and we took a turn in the garden, at his request. He was devilish ceremonious, and made a bushel of apologies for the freedom he was going to take: and, after half a hundred hums and haws, told me, that he came—that he came—to wait on me—at the request of dear Miss Howe, on the account— on the account of Miss Harlowe.
Well, sir, speak on, said I: but give me leave to say, that if your book be as long as your preface, it will take up a week to read it.
This was pretty rough, thou'lt say: but there's nothing like balking these formalists at first. When they are put out of their road, they are filled with doubts of themselves, and can never get into it again: so that an honest fellow, impertinently attacked, as I was, has all the game in his own hand quite through the conference.
He stroked his chin, and hardly knew what to say. At last, after parenthesis within parenthesis, apologizing for apologies, in imitation, I suppose, of Swift's Digression in praise of Digressions—I presume, I presume, sir, you were privy to the visit made to Miss Howe by the young ladies your cousins, in the name of Lord M. and Lady Sarah Sadleir, and Lady Betty Lawrance.
I was, sir: and Miss Howe had a letter afterwards, signed by his lordship and by those ladies, and underwritten by myself. Have you seen it, sir?
I can't say but I have. It is the principal cause of this visit: for Miss Howe thinks your part of it is written with such an air of levity—pardon me, sir—that she knows not whether you are in earnest, or not, in your address to her for her interest with her friend*.
Will Miss Howe permit me to explain myself in person to her, Mr. Hickman?
0 sir, by no means. Miss Howe, I am sure, would not give you that trouble.
1 should not think it a trouble. I will most readily attend you, sir, to Miss Howe, and satisfy her in all her scruples. Come, sir, I will wait upon you now. You have a chariot. Are alone. We can talk as we ride.
He hesitated, wriggled, winced, stroked his ruffles, set his wig, and pulled his neckcloth, which was long enough for a bib.—I am not going directly back to Miss Howe, sir. It will be as well, if you will be so good as to satisfy Miss Howe by me.
What is it she scruples, Mr. Hickman?
* See Mr. Lovelace's billet to Miss Howe, p. 247, of this volume.