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lady, whom none of her relations will look upon? It makes my heart bleed for her.
And then she wept again. Mrs. Smith wept also. My seat grew uneasy to me. I shifted to another several times; and what Mrs. Lovick farther said, and showed me, made me still more uneasy.
Bad as the poor lady was last night, said she, she trans. cribed into her book a meditation on your persecuting her thus. I have a copy of it. If I thought it would have any effect, I would read it to you.
Let me read it myself, Mrs. Lovick.
She gave it to me. It has an Harlowe-spirited title: and, from a forgiving spirit, intolerable. I desired to take it with me. She consented, on condition that I showed it to 'Squire Belford. So here, Mr. 'Squire Belford, thou may'st read it, if thou wilt.
On being hunted after by the enemy of my soul.
Deliver me, O Lord, from the evil man.
Who imagines mischief in his heart.
He hath sharpened his tongue like a serpent. Adders poison is under his lips.
Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked. Preserve me from the violent man, who hath purposed to overthrow my goings.
He hath hid a snare for me. He hath spread a net by the way-side. He hath set gins for me in the way wherein I walked.
Keep me from the snares which he hath laid for me, and the gins of this worker of iniquity.
The enemy hath persecuted my soul. He hath smitten my life down to the ground. He hath made me dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.
Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me. My heart within me is desolate.
Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble.
For my days are consumed like smoke: and my bones are burnt as the hearth.
My heart is smitten and withered like grass: so that I forget to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my skin.
I am like a pelican of the wilderness. I am like an owl of the desart.
I watch; and am as a sparrow alone upon the house. top.
I have eaten ashes like bread; and mingled my drink with weeping:
Because of thine indignation, and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
My days are like a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.
Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked: further not his devices, lest he exalt himself.
Why now, Mrs. Lovick, said I, when I had read this meditation, as she called it, I think I am very severely treated by the lady, if she mean me in all this. For how is it that I am the enemy of her soul, when I love her both soul and body?
She says, that I am a violent man, and a wicked man. -That I have been so, I own: but I repent, and only
wish to have it in my power to repair the injuries I have done her.
The gin, the snare, the net, mean matrimony, I sup pose-But is it a crime in me to wish to marry her? Would any other woman think it so? and choose to become a pelican in the wilderness, or a lonely sparrow on the house-top, rather than to have a mate that would chirp about her all day and all night?
She says, she has eaten ashes like bread-A sad mis take to be sure!-Aud mingled her drink with weeping -Sweet maudlin soul! should I say of any body confes. sing this, but Miss Harlowe.
She concludes with praying, that the desires of the wicked (meaning poor me, I doubt) may not be granted; that my devices may not be furthered, lest I exalt myself. I should undoubtedly exalt myself, and with reason, could I have the honour and the blessing of such a wife. And if my desires have so honourable an end, I know not why I should be called wicked, and why I should not be allowed to hope, that my honest devices 'may be furthered, that I MAY exalt myself.
But here, Mrs. Lovick, let me ask, as something is undoubtedly meant by the lonely sparrow on the house-top, is not the dear creature at this very instant (tell me truly) concealed in Mrs. Smith's cock loft?-What say you, Mrs. Lovick? What say you, Mrs. Smith, to this?
They assured me to the contrary; and that she was actually abroad, and they knew not where.
Thou seest, Jack, that I would fain have diverted the chagrin given me not only by the women's talk, but by this collection of Scripture-texts drawn up in array against Several other whimsical and light things I said [all I had for it!] with the same view. But the widow would
not let me come off so. She stuck to me; and gave me, as I told thee, a good deal of uneasiness, by her sensible and serious expostulations. Mrs. Smith put in now-andthen; and the two Jack-pudding fellows, John and Joseph, not being present, I had no provocation to turn the conversation into a farce; and, at last, they both joined warmly to endeavour to prevail upon me to give up all thoughts of seeing the lady. But I could not hear of that. On the contrary, I besought Mrs. Smith to let me have one of her rooms but till I could see her; and were it but for one, two, or three days, I would pay a year's rent for it; and quit it the moment the interview was over. But they desired to be excused; and were sure the lady would not come to the house till I was gone, were it for a month.
This pleased me; for I found they did not think her so very ill as they would have me believe her to be; but I took no notice of the slip, because I would not guard them against more of the like.
In short, I told them, I must and would see her: but that it should be with all the respect and veneration that heart could pay to excellence like her's: and that I would go round to all the churches in London and Westminster, where there were prayers or service, from sun-rise to sunset, and haunt their house like a ghost, till I had the opportunity my soul panted after.
This I bid them tell her.
And thus ended our serious
I took leave of them; and went down; and, stepping into my chair, caused myself to be carried to Lincoln'sInn; and walked in the gardens till chapel was opened; and then I went in, and staid prayers, in hopes of seeing
the dear creature enter: but to no purpose; and yet I prayed most devoutly that she might be conducted thither, either by my good angel, or her own. And indeed I burn more than ever with impatience to be once more permitted to kneel at the feet of this adorable woman. And had I met her, or espied her in the chapel, it is my firm belief that I should not have been able (though it had been in the midst of the sacred office, and in the presence of thousands) to have forborne prostration to her, and even clamorous supplication for her forgiveness: a christian act; the exercise of it therefore worthy of the place.
After service was over, I stept into my chair again, and once more was carried to Smith's, in hopes I might have surprised her there: but no such happiness for thy friend. I staid in the back-shop an hour and an half, by my watch; and again underwent a good deal of preachment from the women. John was mainly civil to me now; won over a little by my serious talk, and the honour I professed for the lady. They all three wished matters could be made up between us but still insisted that she could never get over her illness; and that her heart was broken. A cue, I suppose, they had from you.
While I was there a letter was brought by a particular hand. They seemed very solicitous to hide it from me ; which made me suspect it was for her. I desired to be suffered to cast an eye upon the seal, and the superscription; promising to give it back to them unopened.
Looking upon it, I told them I knew the hand and seal. It was from her sister*. And I hoped it would bring her news that she would be pleased with.
*See Letter LXVIII, of this volume.