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very improper, if I desire, for my own peace' sake; for the sake of other poor creatures, who may be still injured by him, if he be made quite desperate ; and for the sake of all your worthy family; that you will extend to him that forgiveness which you hoped for from me ? and this the rather, as I presume to think, that his daring and impetuous spirit will not be subdued by violent methods ; since I have no doubt, that the gratifying of a present passion will be always more prevalent with him, than any future prospects, however unwarrantable the one, or beneficial the other.
Your resentments on my account are extremely generous, as your goodness to me is truly noble : but I am not without hope, that he will be properly affected by the evils he has made me suffer; and that, when I am laid low and forgotten, your whole honourable family will be enabled to rejoice in his reformation; and see many of those happy years together, which, my good lord, and my dear ladies, you so kindly wish to Your ever grateful and obliged
MR. BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Thursday, August 10. | BEGIN to pity thee heartily, now I see thee in
earnest, in the fruitless love thou expressest to K. this angel of a woman ; and the rather, as, say what thou wilt, it is impossible she should get over her illness, and her friends' implacableness, of which she has had fresh instances.
I hope thou art not indeed displeased with the extracts I have made from thy letters for her. The letting her know the justice thou hast done to her virtue in them, is so much in favour of thy ingenuousness (a quality, let me repeat, that gives thee a superiority over common libertines) that I think in my heart I was right; though to any other woman, and to one who had not known the worst of thee that she could know, it might have been wrong.
If the end will justify the means, it is plain, that I have done well with regard to ye both; since I have made her easier, and thee appear in a better light to her, than otherwise thou wouldst have done.
But if, nevertheless, thou art dissatisfied with my having obliged her in a point, which I acknowledge to be delicate, let us canvass this matter at our first meeting : and then I will show thee what the extracts were, and what connexions I gave them in thy favour.
But surely thou dost not pretend to say what I shall, or shall not do, as to the executorship.
I am my own man, I hope. I think thou shouldst be glad to have the justification of her memory left to one, who, at the same time, thou mayst be assured, will treat thee, and thy actions, with all the lenity the case will admit.
I will now briefly proceed to relate what had passed since my last, as to the excellent lady. By the account I shall give thee, thou wilt see, that she has troubles enough upon her, all springing originally from thyself, without needing to add more to them by new vexations. My last was dated on Saturday.
She had received several letters in my absence, as Mrs. Lovick acquainted me, besides yours. Yours, it seems, much distressed her; but she ordered the messenger, who pressed for an answer, to be told, that it did not require an immediate one.
On Wednesday she received a letter from her uncle Harlowe, in answer to one she had written to her mother on Saturday on her knees. It must be a very cruel one, Mrs. Lovick says, by the effects it had upon her : for, when she received it, she was intending to take an after- noon airing in a coach; but was thrown into so violent a fit of hysterics upon it, that she was forced to lie down; and (being not recovered by it) to go to bed about eight o'clock.
On Thursday morning she was up very early; and had recourse to the Scriptures to calm her mind, as she told Mrs. Lovick : and, weak as she was, would go in a chair to Lincoln’s-inn Chapel, about eleven. She was brought home a little better; and then sat down to write to her uncle. But was obliged to leave off several times—to struggle, as she told Mrs. Lovick, for an humble temper. My heart, said she to the good woman, is a proud heart, and not yet, I find, enough mortified to my condition ; but, do what I can, will be for prescribing resenting things to my pen.
Mrs. Lovick obliged me with the copy of a Meditation collected by the lady from the Scriptures. We may see by this the method she takes to fortify her mind.
MEDITATION. Poor mortals the cause of their own misery. Say not thou, it is through the Lord that I fell away; for thou oughtest not to do the thing that he hateth.
Say not thou, he hath caused me to err; for he hath no need of the sinful man.
He himself made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel ;
If thou wilt to keep the commandments and to perform acceptable faithfulness.
He hath set fire and water before thee : stretch forth thine hand to whither thou wilt.
He hath commanded no man to do wickedly: neither hath he given any man license to sin.
And now, Lord, what is my hope ? Truly my hope is only in thee.
Deliver me from all my offences, and make me not a rebuke unto the foolish.
When thou with rebuke dost chasten man for sin, thou makest his beauty to consume away, like as it were a moth fretting a garment; every man therefore is vanity.
Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged. O bring thou me out of my distresses !
Mrs. Smith gave me the following particulars of a conversation that passed between herself and a young clergyman, on Tuesday afternoon, who, as it appears, was employed to make inquiries about the lady by her friends.
He came into the shop in a riding-habit, and asked for some Spanish snuff; and finding only Mrs. Smith there, he desired to have a little talk with her in the back-shop.
He beat about the bush in several distant questions, and at last began to talk more directly about Miss Harlowe.
He said, he knew her before her fall (that was his impudent word); and gave the substance of the following account of her, as I collected it from Mrs. Smith.
She was then, he said, the admiration and delight of everybody : he lamented, with great solemnity, her backsliding; another of his phrases. Mrs. Smith said, he was a fine scholar; for he spoke several things she understood not; and either in Latin or Greek, she could not tell which ; but was so good as to give her the English of them without asking. A fine thing, she said, for a scholar to be so condescending!
I suppose he has not been long come from college, and now thinks he has nothing to do, but to blaze away for a scholar among the ignorant; as such young fellows are apt to think those who cannot cap verses with them, and tell us how an ancient author expressed himself in Latin
on a subject, upon which, however, they may know how, as well as that author, to express themselves in English.
Mrs. Smith was so taken with him, that she would fain have introduced him to the lady, not questioning but it would be very acceptable to her, to see one who knew her and her friends so well. But this he declined for several reasons, as he called them ; which he
One was, that persons of his cloth should be very cautious of the company they were in, especially where sex was concerned, and where a woman had slurred her reputation—(I wish I had been there when he gave himself these airs). Another, that he was desired to inform himself of her
present way of life, and who her visitors were ; for, as to the praises Mrs. Smith gave the lady, he hinted, that she seemed to be a good-natured woman, and might (though for the lady's sake he hoped not) be too partial and shortsighted to be trusted to, absolutely, in a concern of so high a nature as he intimated the task was which he had undertaken ; nodding out words of doubtful import, and assuming airs of great significance (as I could gather) throughout the whole conversation. And when Mrs. Smith told him, that the lady was in a very bad state of health, he gave a careless shrug—she may be very ill, says he: her disappointments must have touched her to the quick : but she is not bad enough, I dare say, yet, to atone for her very great lapse, and to expect to be forgiven by those whom she has so much disgraced.
A starched conceited coxcomb! What would I give he had fallen in my way?
He departed, highly satisfied with himself, no doubt, and assured of Mrs. Smith's great opinion of his sagacity and learning : but bid her not say anything to the lady about him, or his inquiries. And I, for very different reasons, enjoined the same thing.
I am glad, however, for her peace of mind's sake, that they begin to think it behoves them to inquire about her.