Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

she wants ?—And should not I be overjoyecf, thinkest thou, to serve her ?—What then is there in the parting with her apparel, but female perverseness ?—And I am not sure, whether I ought not to be glad, if she does this out of spite to me.— Some disappointed fair ones would have hanged, some drowned themselves. My beloved only revenges herself upon her clothes. Different ways of working has passion in different bosoms, as humours or complexion induce.—Besides, dost think I shall grudge to replace, to three times the value, what she disposes of? So, Jack, there is no great matter in this.

Thou seest how sensible she is of the soothings of the polite doctor: this will enable thee to judge how dreadfully the horrid arrest;, and her gloomy father's curse, must have hurt her. I have great hope, if she will but see me, that my behaviour, my contrition, my soothings, may have some happy

But thou art too ready to give me up. Let me seriously tell thee, that all excellence as she is, I think the earnest interposition of my relations ; the implored mediation of that little fury, Miss Howe; and the commissions thou actest under from myself; are such instances of condescension and high value in them, and such contrition in me, that nothing further can be done.—So here let the matter rest for the present, till she considers better of it.

But now a few words upon poor Belton's case. I own I was at first a little startled at the disloyalty of his Thomasine. Her hypocrisy to be for so many years undetected!—I have very lately had some intimations given me of her vileness; and had intended to mention them to thee, when I saw thee. To say the truth, I always suspected her eye: the eye, thou knowest, is the casement, at which the heart generally looks out. Many a woman, who will not shew herself at the door, has tipt the sly, the intelligible winjc from the windows.

[graphic]

But Tom had no management at all. A very careless fellow. Would never look into his own affairs. The estate his uncle left him was his ruin: wife, or mistress, whoever was, must have had his fortune to sport with.

I have often hinted his weakness of this sort to him; and the danger he was in of becoming the property of designing people. But he hated to take pains. He would ever run away from his accounts; as now, poor fellow! he would be glad to do from himself. Had he not had a woman to fleece him, his coachman or valet would have been his prime minister, and done it as effectually.

But yet, for many years, I thought she was true to his bed. At least I thought the boy3 were his own. For though they are muscular and big boned, yet I supposed the healthy mother might have furnished them with legs and shoulders: for she is not of a delicate frame; and then Tom, some years ago, looked up, ai)d spoke more like a man, than he has done of late; squeaking inwardly, poor fellow! for some time past, from contracted quail pipes, and wheezing from lungs half spit away.

He complains, thou sayest, that we all run away from him. Why, after all, Belford, it is no pleasant thing to see a poor fellow one loves, dying by inches, yet unable to do him good. There are friendships which are only bottle deep: I should be loth to have it thought, that mine for any of my vassals is such a one. Yet, with gay hearts, which became intimate because they were gay, the reason for their first intimacy ceasing, the friendship will fade: but may not this sort of. friendship be more properly distinguished by the word companionship?

But mine, as I said, is deeper than this: I would still be as ready as ever I was in my life, to the utmost of my power, to do him service.

As one instance of this my readiness to extricate him from all his difficulties, as to Thomasine, dost thou care to propose to him an expedient that is just come into my head?

It is this: I would engage Thomasine and her cubs (if Belton be convinced they are neither of them his) in a party of pleasure. She was always complaisant to me. It should be in a boat, hired for the purpose, to sail to Tilbury, to the Isle of Shepey, or pleasuring up the Medway; and 'tis but contriving to turn the boat bottom upward. I can swim like a fish. Another boat shall be ready to take up whom I should direct, for fear of the worst: and then, if Tom has a mind to be decent, one suit of mourning will serve for all three: nay, the hostler cousin may take his plunge from the steerage: and who knows but they may be thrown up on the beach, Thomasine and he hand in hand?

This, thou'lt say, is no common instance offriendship.

Meantime, do thou prevail on him to come down to us: he never was more welcome in his life than he shall be now: if he will not, let him find me some other service; and I will clap a pair of wings to my shoulders, and he shall see me come flying in at his windows at the word of command.

Mowbray and Tourville each intend to give thee a letter; and I leave to those rough varlets to handle thee as thou deservest for the shocking picture thou hast drawn of their last ends. Thy own past guilt has stared thee full in the face, one may see .6

by it: and made thee, in consciousness of thy demerits, sketch out these cursed outlines. I am glad thou hast got the old fiend to hold the glass* before thy own face so soon. Thou must be in earnest surely, when thou wrotest it, and have severe conviction upon thee: for what a hardened varlet must he be, who could draw such a picture as this in sport?

As for thy resolution of repenting and marrying; I would have thee consider which thou wilt set about first. If thou wilt follow my advice, thou slialt make short work of it: let matrimony take place of the other; for then thou wilt, very possibly, have repentance come tumbling in fast upon thee, as a consequence, and so have both in one.

LETTER LXXX.

MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.

Friday noon, July 21. This morning I was admitted, as soon as I sent up my name, into the presence of the divine lady. Such I may call her; as what I have to relate will fully prove.

She had had a tolerable night, and was much better in spirits; though weak in person; and visibly declining in looks.

Mrs. Lovick and Mrs. Smith were with her; and accused her, in a gentle manner, of having applied herself too assiduously to her pen for her strength, having been up ever since five. She said, she had rested better than she had done for many nights:

See p. 353.

she had found her spirits free, and her mind tolev rably easy: and having, as she had reason to think, but a short time, and much to do in it, she must be a good housewife of her hours.

She had been writing, she said, a letter to her sister: but had not pleased herself in it: though she had made two or three essays: but that the last must go.

By hints I had dropt from time to time, she had reason, she said, to think that I knew every thing that concerned her and her family; and, if so, must be acquainted with the heavy curse her father had laid upon her; which had been dreadfully fulfilled in one part, as to her prospects in this life, and that in a very short time; which gave her great apprehensions of the other part. She had been applying herself to her sister, to obtain a revocation of it. I hope my father will revoke it, said she, or I shall be very miserable—yet [and she gasped as she spoke, with apprehension]—I am ready to tremble at what the answer may be; for my sister is hard hearted.

I.said something reflecting upon her friends; as to what they would deserve to be thought of, if the unmerited imprecation were not withdrawn.—upon which she took me up, and talked in such a dutiful manner of her parents as must doubly condemn them (if they remain implacable) for their inhuman treatment of such a daughter.

She said, I must not blame her parents: it was her dear Miss Howe's fault to do so: but what an enormity was there in her crime, which could set the best of parents (as they had been to her, till she disobliged them) in a bad light, for resenting the rashness of a child from whose education they had reason to expect better fruits! There were some hard circumstances in her case, it was true: but my

« VorigeDoorgaan »