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I refer myself to Tourville, who will let you know the difficulty we had to drive out this meek mistress, and frugal manager, with her cubs, and to give the poor fellow's sister possession for him of his own house; he skulking mean while at an inn at Croydon, too dispirited to appear in his own cause.
But I must observe that we were probably but just in time to save the shattered remains of his fortune from this rapacious woman, and her accomplices: for, as he cannot live long, and she thinks so, we found she had certainly taken measures to set up a marriage, and keep possession of all for herself and her sons.
Tourville will tell you how I was forced to chastise the quondam hostler in her sight, before I could drive him out of the house. He had the insolence to lay hands on me: and I made him take but one step from the top to the bottom of a pair of stairs. I thought his neck and all his bones had been broken. And then, he being carried out neck-and-heels, Thomasine thought fit to walk out after him.
Charming consequences of keeping; the state we have been so fond of extolling!-Whatever it may be thought of in strong health, sickness and declining spirits in the keeper will bring him to see the difference.
She should soon have him, she told a confidant, in the space of six foot by five; meaning his bed: and then she would let nobody come near him but whom she pleased. The hostler-fellow, I suppose, would then have been his physician; his will ready made for him; and widows' weeds probably ready provided; who knows, but she to appear in them in his own sight? as once I knew an instance in a wicked wife; insulting a husband she hated, when she thought him past recovery: though it gave the
man such spirits, and such a turn, that he got over it, and lived to see her in her coffin, dressed out in the very weeds she had insulted him in.
So much, for the present, for Belton and his Thomasine.
I BEGIN to pity thee heartily, now I see thee in earnest in the fruitless love thou expressest to 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 liber. tines,) 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 canvas this matter at our first meeting: and then I will show thee what the extracts were, and what connec tions 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 mayest be assured, will
treat thee, and thy actions, with all the lenity the case will admit.
I cannot help expressing my surprise at one instance of thy self-partiality; and that is, where thou sayest she had need, indeed, to cry out for mercy herself from her friends, who knows not how so show any.
Surely thou canst not think the cases alike-for she, as I understand, desires but a last blessing, and a last for. giveness, for a fault in a manner involuntary, if a fault at all; and does not so much as hope to be received; thou, to be forgiven premeditated wrongs, (which, nevertheless, she forgives, on condition to be no more molested by thee ;) and hopest to be received into favour, and to make the finest jewel in the world thy absolute property in conse quence of that forgiveness.
I will now briefly proceed to relate what has 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. And as long as thou canst exert thyself so very cavalierly at M. Hall, where every one is thy prisoner, I see not but the bravery of thy spirit may be as well gratified in domineering there over half a dozen persons of rank and distinction, as it could be over an helpless orphan, as I may call this lady, since she has not a single friend to stand by her, if I do not; and who will think herself happy, if she can refuge herself from thee, and from all the world, in the arms of death.
My last was dated on Saturday.
On Sunday, in compliance with her doctor's advice, she took a little airing. Mrs. Lovick, and Mr. Smith and his wife, were with her. After being at Highgate chapel at
divine service, she treated them with a little repast; and in the afternoon was at Islington church, in her way home; returning tolerably cheerful.
She had received several letters in my absence, as Mrs. Lovick acquainted me, besides your's. Your's, 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 afternoon 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.'
I arrived in town from Belton's this Thursday evening; and went directly to Smith's. She was too ill to receive my visit. But, on sending up my compliments, she sent
* See Letter XLI. of this volume.
me down word that she should be glad to see me in the morning.
Mrs. Lovick obliged me with the copy of a meditation collected by the lady from the Scriptures. She has entitled it Poor mortals the cause of their own misery; so entitled, I presume, with intention to take off the edge of her repinings at hardships so disproportioned to her fault, were her fault even as great as she is inclined to think it. We
e may see, by this, the method she takes to fortify her mind, and to which she owes, in a great measure, the magnanimity with which she bears her undeserved persecutions,
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 whether thou wilt.
He hath commanded no man to do wickedly neither hath he given any man licence 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