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Lovelace; only more stupid; yawning and stretching, instead of humming a tune as thou didst at Smith's.
I assisted to get the poor man into bed. He was so weak and low, that he could not bear the fatigue, and fainted away; and I verily thought was quite gone. But recovering, and his doctor coming, and advising to keep him quiet, I retired, and joined Mowbray in the garden; who took more delight to talk of the living Lovelace and levities, than of the dying Belton and his repentance.
I just saw him again on Saturday night before I went to bed; which I did early; for I was surfeited with Mow. bray's frothy insensibility, and could not bear him.
It is such a horrid thing to think of, that a man who had lived in such strict terms of what shall I call it? with another; the proof does not come out so, as to say, friendship; who had pretended so much love for him; could not bear to be out of his company; would ride an hundred miles an end to enjoy it; and would fight for him, be the cause right or wrong: yet now, could be so little moved to see him in such misery of body and mind, as to be able to rebuke him, and rather ridicule than pity him, because he was more affected by what he felt, than he had seen a malefactor, (hardened perhaps by liquor, and not softened by previous sickness,) on his going to execu tion.
This put me strongly in mind of what the divine Miss HARLOWE once said to me, talking of friendship, and what my friendship to you required of me: Depend upon it, 'Mr. Belford,' said she, that one day you will be convinced, that what you call friendship, is chaff and stubble; and that nothing is worthy of that sacred name
That has not virtue for its base,'
Sunday morning, I was called up at six o'clock, at the poor man's earnest request, and found him in a terrible agony. O Jack! Jack! said he, looking wildly, as if he had seen a spectre-Come nearer me! reaching out both arms-Come nearer me!Dear, dear Belford, save me! Then clasping my arm with both his hands, and rearing up his head towards me, his eyes strangely rolling, Save me! dear Belford, save me! repeated he.
I put my other arm about him--Save you from what, my dear Belton! said I; save you from what? Nothing shall hurt you. What must I save you from?
Recovering from his terror, he sunk down again, O save me from myself! said he; save me from my own reflections. O dear Jack! what a thing it is to die ; and not to have one comfortable reflection to revolve! What would I give for one year of my passed life?-only one year-and to have the same sense of things that I now have?
I tried to comfort him as well as I could: but freelivers to free-livers are sorry death-bed conforters. And he broke in upon me: O my dear Belford, said he, I am told, (and I have heard you ridiculed for it,) that the excellent Miss Harlowe has wrought a conversion in you. May it be so! You are a man of sense: O may it be so! Now is your time! Now, that you are in full vigour of mind and body!-But your poor Belton, alas! your poor Belton kept his vices, till they left him-and see the miserable effects in debility of mind and despondency! Were Mowbray here, and were he to laugh at me, I would own that this is the cause of my despair-that God's justice cannot let his mercy operate for my comfort: for, Oh! I have been very, very wicked; and have despised
the offers of his grace, till he has withdrawn it from me for ever,
I used all the arguments I could think of to give him consolation: and what I said had such an effect upon him, as to quiet his mind for the greatest part of the day; and in a lucid hour his memory served him to repeat these lines of Dryden, grasping my hand, and looking wistfully upon me:
O that I less could fear to lose this being,
In the afternoon of Sunday, he was inquisitive after you, and your present behaviour to Miss Harlowe. I told him how you had been, and how light you made of it. Mow. bray was pleased with your impenetrable hardness of heart, and said, Bob. Lovelace was a good edge-tool, and steel to the back and such coarse but hearty praises he gave you, as an abandoned man might give, and only an abandoned man could wish to deserve.
But hadst thou heard what the poor dying Belton said on this occasion, perhaps it would have made thee serious an hour or two, at least.
When poor Lovelace is brought,' said he, to a sick، bed, as I am now, and his mind forebodes that it is im" possible he should recover, (which his could not do ' in his late illness: if it had, he could not have behaved so lightly in it;) when he revolves his past mis-spent life; his actions of offence to helpless innocents; in Miss Harlowe's case particularly; what then will he 'think of himself, or of his past actions? his mind de 'bilitated; his strength turned into weakness; unable
to stir or to move without help; not one ray of hope < darting in upon his benighted soul; his conscience · standing in the place of a thousand witnesses; his pains 'excruciating; weary of the poor remnant of life he drags, 6 yet dreading, that, in a few short hours, his bad will be 'changed to worse, nay, to worst of all; and that worst
of all, to last beyond time and to all eternity; O Jack! what will he then think of the poor transitory gratifi'cations of sense, which now engage all his attention? 'Tell him, dear Belford, tell him, how happy he is if he 'know his own happines; how happy, compared to his C poor dying friend, that he has recovered from his illness, ' and has still an opportunity lent him, for which I would ' give a thousand worlds, had I them to give!'
I approved exceedingly of his reflections, as suited to his present circumstances; and inferred consolations to him from a mind so properly touched.
He proceeded in the like penitent strain. I have lived a very wicked life; so have we all. We have never made a conscience of doing whatever mischief either force or fraud enabled us to do. We have laid snares for the innocent heart; and have not scrupled by the too-ready sword to extend, as occasions offered, the wrongs we did to the persons whom we had before injured in their dearest relations. But yet, I flatter myself, sometimes, that I have less to answer for than either Lovelace or Mowbray; for I, by taking to myself that accursed deceiver from whom thou hast freed me, (and who, for years, unknown to me, was retaliating upon my own head some of the evils I had brought upon others,) and retiring, and living with her as a wife, was not party to half the mischiefs, that I doubt they, and Tourville, and even you, Belford, committed. As to the ungrateful Thomasine, I hope I
have met with my punishment in her. But notwithstanding this, dost thou not think, that such an action-and such an action-and such an action; [and then he recapitulated several enormities, in the perpetration of which (led on by false bravery, and the heat of youth and wine) we have all been concerned ;] dost thou not think that these villanies, (let me call them now by their proper name,) joined to the wilful and gloried-in neglect of every duty that our better sense and education gave us to know were required of us as men and christians, are not enough to weigh down my soul into despondency?-Indeed, indeed, they are! and now to hope for mercy; and to depend upon the efficacy of that gracious attribute, when that no less shining one of justice forbids me to hope; how can I !-I, who have despised all warnings, and taken no advantage of the benefit I might have reaped from the lingering consumptive illness I have laboured under, but left all to the last stake; hoping for recovery against hope, and driving off repentance, till that grace is denied me; for, oh! my dear Belford! I can now neither repent, nor pray, as I ought; my heart is hardened, and I can do nothing but despair!
More he would have said; but, overwhelmed with grief and infirmity, he bowed his head upon his pangful bosom, endeavouring to bide from the sight of the hardened Mowbray, who just then entered the room, those tears which
he could not restrain.
Prefaced by a phlegmatic hem; sad, very sad, truly! cried Mowbray; who sat himself down on one side of the bed, as I sat on the other his eyes half closed, and his lips pouting out to his turned-up nose, his chin curdled [to use one of thy descriptions]; leaving one at a loss to know whether stupid drowsiness or intense contemplation had got most hold of him.