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farther. Harry, on this return from thee, confirmed the bad way
thou art in. But I hope Lord M. in his un. merited tenderness for thee, thinks the worst of thee. What can it be, Bob.? A violent fever, they say ; but at. tended with odd and severe symptoms.
I will not trouble thee in the way thou art in, with what passes here with Miss Harlowe. I wish thy repentance as swift as thy illness; and as efficacious, if thou diest; for it is else to be feared, that she and you will never meet in one place.
I told her how ill you are. Poor man! said she. Dan. gerously ill, say you?
Dangerously indeed, Madam !-So Lord M. sends me word !
God be merciful to him, if he die !-said the admirable creature. Then, after a pause, Poor wretch !-may he meet with the mercy he has not shown!
I send this by a special messenger : for I am impatient. to hear how it goes with thee.-If I have received thy last letter, what melancholy reflections will that last, so full of shocking levity, give to
Thy true friend,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Tuesday, Aug. 15. Tuank thee, Jack; most heartily I thank thee, for the sober conclusion of thy last !- I have a good mind, for the
sake of it, to forgive thy till now absolutely unpardonable extracts.
But dost think I will lose such an angel, such a forgiv. ing angel, as this ?---By my soul, I will not !—To pray for mercy for such an ungrateful miscreant !-how she wounds me, how she cuts me to the soul, by her exalted generosity !--But she must have mercy upon me first ! - then will she teach me a reliance for the sake of which her prayer
for me will be answered. But hasten, hasten to me particulars of her health, of her employments, of her conversation.
I am sick only of love! Oh! that I could have called her mihe!-it would then have been worth while to be sick!. to have sent for her down to me from town; and to have had her, with healing in her dove-like wings, flying to my comfort ; her duty and her choice to pray for me, and to bid me live for her sake!-0 Jack! what an angel have I
But I have not lost her! I will not lose her! I am almost well; should be quite well but for these prescribing rascals, who, to do credit to their skill, will make the disease of importance. And I will make her mine!-- and be sick again, to entitle myself to her dutiful tenderness, and pious as well as personal concern!
God for ever bless her!-Hasten, hasten particulars of her! I am sick of love !-such generous goodness !-By all that's great and good, I will not lose her!-so tell her !She says, that she could not pity me, if she thought of being mine! This, according to Miss Howe's transcriptions to Charlotte.—But bid her hate me, and have me : and my behaviour to her shall soon turn that hate to love! for, body and mind, I will be wholly her's.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Thursday, Aug. 17. I
Am sincerely rejoiced to hear that thou art already so much amended, as thy servant tells me thou art. Thy letter looks as if thy morals were mending with thy health. This was a letter I could show, as I did, to the lady.
She is very ill : (cursed letters received from her im. placable family !) so I could not have much conversation with her, in thy favour, upon it.-But what passed will make thee more and more adore her.
She was very attentive to me, as I read it; and, when I had done, Poor man! said she; what a letter is this! He had timely instances that my temper was not ungenerous, if generosity could have obliged him! But his remorse, and that for his own sake, is all the punishment I wish him.-Yet I must be more reserved, if you write to him every thing I say!
I extolled her unbounded goodness—how could I help it, though to her face!
No goodness in it! she said—it was a frame of mind she had endeavoured after for her own sake. She suffered too much in want of mercy, not to wish it to a penitent heart. He seems to be penitent, said she
and it is not for me to judge beyond appearances.-If he be not, he deceives himself more than any body else.
She was so ill that this was all that passed on the occasion.
What a fine subject for tragedy, would the injuries of this lady, and her behaviour under them, both with regard
to her implacable friends, and to her persecutor, make! With a grand objection as to the moral, nevertheless*; for here virtue is punished ! Except indeed we look forward to the rewards of HEREAFTER, which, morally, she must be sure of, or who can ? Yet, after all, I know not, so sad a fellow art thou, and so vile an husband mightest thou have made, whether her virtue is not rewarded in missing thee: for things the most grievous to human nature, when they happen, as this charming creature once observed, are often the happiest for us in the event.
I have frequently thought, in my attendance on this Jady, that if Belton's admired author, Nie. Rowe, had had such a character before him, he would have drawn an. other sort of a penitent than he has done, or given his play, which he calls The Fair Penitent, a fitter title. Miss Harlowe is a penitent indeed! I think, if I am not guilty of a contradiction in terms; a penitent without a
her parents' conduct towards her from the first con. sidered.
The whole story of the other is a pack of dd stuff. Lothario, 'tis true, seems such another wicked ungenerous varlet as thou knowest who: the author knew how to draw a rake; but not to paint a penitent. Calista is a
* Mr. Belford's objection, That virtue ought not to suffer in a tragedy, is not well considered: Monimia in the Orphan, Belvidera in Venice Preserved, Athenais in Theodosius, Cordelia in Shakspeare's King Lear, Desdemona in Othello, Hamlet, (to name no more,) are instances that a tragedy could hardly be justly called a tragedy, if virtue did not temporarily suffer, and vice for a while triumph. But he recovers himself in the same paragraph ; and leads us to look up to the FUTURE for the reward of virtue, and for the punishment of guilt: and observes not amiss, when he says, He knows not but that the virtue of such a woman as Clarissa is rewarded in missing such a man as Lovelace.
desiring luscious wench, and her penitence is nothing else but rage, insolence, and scorn. Her passions are all storm and tumult; nothing of the finer passions of the sex, which, if naturally drawn, will distinguish themselves from the masculine passions, by a softness that will even shine through rage and despair. Her character is made up of deceit and disguise. She has no virtue; is all pride ; and her devil is as much within her, as without her.
How then can the fall of such a one create a proper distress, when all the circumstances of it are considered ? For does she not brazen out her crime, even after de. tection? Knowing her own guilt, she calls for Altamont's vengeance on his best friend, as if he had traduced her; yields to marry Altamont, though criminal with another; and actually beds that whining puppy, when she had given up herself, body and soul, to Lothario ; who, nevertheless, refused to marry
her. Her penitence, when begun, she justly styles the phrensy of her soul; and, as I said, after having, as long as she could, most audaciously brazened out her crime, and done all the mischief she could do, (occasion. ing the death of Lothario, of her father, and others, she stabs herself.
And can this be an act of penitence ?
But, indeed, our poets hardly know how to create a distress without horror, murder, and suicide ; and must shock your soul, to bring tears from your eyes,
Altamont indeed, who is an amorous blockhead, a cre. dulous cuckold, and, (though painted as a brave fellow, and a soldier,) a mere Tom. Essence, and a quarreller with his best friend, dies like a fool, (as we are led to suppose at the conclusion of the play,) without either sword or pop-gun, of mere grief and nonsense, for one