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of intrigue, and of plots that my soul delights to form and pursue; and if thou wilt not be open-eyed to the follies of my youth, [a transitory state;] every excursion shall serve but the more to endear thee to me, till in time, and in a very little time too, I shall get above sense; and then, charmed by thy soul-attracting converse; and brought to despise my former courses; what I now, at distance, consider as a painful duty, will be my joyful choice, and all my delight will centre in thee!
MOWBRAY is just arrived with thy letters. I therefore close my agreeable subject, to attend to one which I doubt will be very shocking.
I have engaged the rough varlet to bear me company in the morning to Berks; where I shall file off the rust he has contracted in his attendance upon the poor fellow.
He tells me that, between the dying Belton and the preaching Belford, he shan't be his own man these three days and says that thou addest to the unhappy fellow's weakness, instead of giving him courage to help him to bear his destiny.
I am sorry he takes the unavoidable lot so heavily. But he has been long ill; and sickness enervates the mind as well as the body; as he himself very significantly observed to thee.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
I HAVE been reading thy shocking letter-Poor Belton ! what a multitude of lively hours have we passed together! He was a fearless, cheerful fellow: who'd have thought that all should end in such dejected whimpering and terror?
But why didst thou not comfort the poor man about the rencounter between him and that poltroon Metcalfe? He acted in that affair like a man of true honour, and as I should have acted in the same circumstances. Tell him I say so; and that what happened he could neither help nor foresee.
Some people are as sensible of a scratch from a pin's point, as others from a push of a sword: and who can say any thing for the sensibility of such fellows? Metcalfe would resent for his sister, when his sister resented not for herself. Had she demanded her brother's protection and resentment, that would have been another man's matter, to speak in Lord M.'s phrase: but she herself thought her brother a coxcomb to busy himself undesired in her affairs, and wished for nothing but to be provided for decently and privately in her lying-in; and was willing to take the chance of Maintenon-ing his conscience in her favour*, and get
Madam Maintenon was reported to have prevailed upon Lewis XIV. of France, in his old age, (sunk, as he was, by ill success in the field,) to marry her, by way of compounding with his conscience for the freedoms of his past life, to which she attributed his public losses.
ting him to marry when the little stranger came; for she knew what an easy, good-natured fellow he was. And indeed if she had prevailed upon him, it might have been happy for both; as then he would not have fallen in with his cursed Thomasine. But truly this officious brother of her's must interpose. This made a trifling affair important: And what was the issue? Metcalfe challenged; Bel. ton met him; disarmed him; gave him his life: but the fellow, more sensible in his skin than in his head, having received a scratch, was frighted: it gave him first a puke, then a fever, and then he died, that was all. And how could Belton help that?-But sickness, a long tedious sickness, will make a bugbear of any thing to a languishing heart, I see that. And so far was Mowbray à-propos in the verses from Nat. Lee, which thou hast transcribed.
Merely to die, no man of reason fears, is a mistake, say thou, or say thy author, what ye will. And thy solemn parading about the natural repugnance between life and death, is a proof that it is.
Let me tell thee, Jack, that so much am I pleased with this world, in the main; though, in some points too, the world (to make a person of it,) has been a rascal to me; so delighted am I with the joys of youth; with my worldly prospects as to fortune; and now, newly, with the charming hopes given me by my dear, thrice dear, and for ever dear CLARISSA; that were I even sure that nothing bad would come hereafter, I should be very loth (very much afraid, if thou wilt have it so,) to lay down my life and them together; and yet, upon a call of honour, no man fears death less than myself.
But I have not either inclination or leisure to weigh thy leaden arguments, except in the pig, or, as thou wouldst say, in the lump.
If I return thy letters, let me have them again some time hence, that is to say, when I am married, or when poor Belton is half forgotten; or when time has enrolled the honest fellow among those whom we have so long lost, that we may remember them with more pleasure than pain; and then I may give them a serious perusal, and enter with thee as deeply as thou wilt into the subject.
When I am married, said I ?-What a sound has that! I must wait with patience for a sight of this charming creature, till she is at her father's. And yet, as the but blossoming beauty, as thou tellest me, is reduced to a shadow, I should have been exceedingly delighted to see her now, and every day till the happy one; that I might have the pleasure of observing how sweetly, hour by hour, she will rise to her pristine glories, by means of that state of ease and contentment, which will take place of the stormy past, upon her reconciliation with her friends, and our happy nuptials.
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
WELL, but now my heart is a little at ease, I will condescend to take brief notice of some other passages in thy letters.
I find I am to thank thee, that the dear creature has avoided my visit. Things are now in so good a train that I must forgive thee; else thou shouldst have heard more of this new instance of disloyalty to thy general.
Thou art continually giving thyself high praise, by way
of opposition, as I may say, to others; gently and artfully blaming thyself for qualities thou wouldst at the same time have to be thought, and which generally are thought, praise-worthy.
Thus, in the airs thou assumest about thy servants, thou wouldst pass for a mighty humane mortal; and that at the expense of Mowbray and me, whom thou representest as kings and emperors to our menials. Yet art thou always unhappy in thy attempts of this kind, and never canst make us, who know thee, believe that to be a virtue in thee, which is but the effect of constitutional phlegm and absurdity.
Knowest thou not, that some men have a native dignity in their manner, that makes them more regarded by a look, than either thou canst be in thy low style, or Mowbray in his high?
I am fit to be a prince, I can tell thee, for I reward well, and I punish seasonably and properly; and I am generally as well served as any man.
The art of governing these underbred varlets lies more in the dignity of looks than in words; and thou art a sorry fellow, to think humanity consists in acting by thy servants, as men must act who are not able to pay them their wages; or had made them masters of secrets, which, if divulged, would lay them at the mercy of such wretches.
Now to me, who never did any thing I was ashamed to own, and who have more ingenuousness than ever man had; who can call a villany by its right name, though practised by myself, and (by my own readiness to reproach myself) anticipate all reproach from others; who am not such a hypocrite, as to wish the world to think me other or better than I am- -it is my part, to look a servant into his duty, if I can; nor will I keep one who knows not