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make us groan, as they very lately did him—that is to say, while he had strength to groan; for now his voice is not to be heard; all inward, lost; not so much as speaking by his eyes; yet, strange! how can it be? the bed rocking under him like a cradle.
Alas! he's gone! that groan, that dreadful groan,
The struggling soul has bid a long adieu
To its late mansion-Fled! Ah! whither fled?
Now is all indeed over!-Poor, poor Belton! by this time thou knowest if thy crimes were above the size of God's mercies! Now are every one's cares and attendance at an end! now do we, thy friends,-poor Belton!-know the worst of thee, as to this life! Thou art released from insufferable tortures both of body and mind! may those tortures, and thy repentance, expiate for thy offences, and mayest thou be happy to all eternity!
We are told, that God desires not the death, the spiritual death of sinner: And 'tis certain, that thou didst deeply repent! I hope, therefore, as thou wert not cut off in the midst of thy sins by the sword of injured friendship, which more than once thou hadst braved, [the dreadfullest of all deaths, next to suicide, because it gives no opportunity for repentance] that this is a merciful earnest that thy penitence is accepted; and that thy long illness, and dreadful agonies in the last stages of it, were thy only punishment.
I wish indeed, I heartily wish, we could have seen one ray of comfort darting in upon his benighted mind, before he departed. But all, alas! to the very last gasp, was horror and confusion. And my only fear arises from this,
that, till within the four last days of his life, he could not be brought to think he should die, though in a visible decline for months; and, in that presumption, was too little inclined to set about a serious preparation for a journey, which he hoped he should not be obliged to take; and when he began to apprehend that he could not put it off, his impatience, and terror, and apprehension, showed too little of that reliance and resignation, which afford the most comfortable reflections to the friends of the dying, as well as to the dying themselves.
But we must leave poor Belton to that mercy, of which we have all so much need; and, for my own part (do you, Lovelace, and the rest of the fraternity, as ye will) I am resolved, I will endeavour to begin to repent of my follies while my health is sound, my intellects untouched, and while it is in my power to make some atonement, as near to restitution or reparation, as is possible, to those I have wronged or misled. And do ye outwardly, and from a point of false bravery, make as light as ye will of my resolution, as ye are none of ye of the class of abandoned and stupid sots who endeavour to disbelieve the future existence of which ye are afraid, I am sure you will justify me in your hearts, if not by your practices; and one day you will wish you had joined with me in the same resolution, and will confess there is more good sense in it, than now perhaps you will own.
Seven o'clock, Thursday Morning.
You are very earnest, by your last letter(just given me) to hear again from me, before you set out for Berks. I will therefore close with a few words upon the only subject in your letter which I can at present touch upon : and this is the letter of which you give me a copy from the lady.
Want of rest, and the sad scene I have before my eyes," have rendered me altogether incapable of accounting for the contents of it in any shape. You are in ecstasies upon it. You have reason to be so, if it be you think. Nor would I rob you of your joy: but I must say that I am amazed at it.
Surely, Lovelace, this surprising letter cannot be a forgery of thy own, in order to carry on some view, and to impose upon me. Yet, by the style of it, it cannot; though thou art a perfect Proteus too.
I will not, however, add another word, after I have desired the return of this, and have told you that I am Your true friend, and well-wisher,
MR. LOVELACE, TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Aug. 24, Thursday Morn,
RECEIVED thy letter in such good time, by thy fellow's dispatch, that it gives me an opportunity of throwing in a few paragraphs upon it. I read a passage or two of it to Mowbray; and we both agree that thou art an absolute master of the lamentable.
Poor Belton! what terrible conflicts were thy last con. flicts!-I hope, however, that he is happy: and I have the more hope, because the hardness of his death is likely to be such a warning to thee. If it have the effect thou declarest it shall have, what a world of mischief will it prevent! how much good will it do! how many poor
wretches will rejoice at the occasion, (if they know it,) however melancholy in itself, which shall bring them in a compensation for injuries they had been forced to sit down contented with! But, Jack, though thy uncle's death has made thee a rich fellow, art thou sure that the making good of such a vow will not totally bankrupt thee?
Thou sayest I may laugh at thee, if I will. Not I, Jack: I do not take it to be a laughing subject: and I am heartily concerned at the loss we all have in poor Belton: and when I get a little settled, and have leisure to contemplate the vanity of all sublunary things (a subject that will now-and-then, in my gayest hours, obtrude itself upon me) it is very likely that I may talk seriously with thee upon these topics; and, if thou hast not got too much the start of me in the repentance thou art entering upon, will go hand-in-hand with thee in it. If thou hast, thou wilt let me just keep thee in my eye; for it is an up-hill work; and I shall see thee, at setting out, at a great distance; but as thou art a much heavier and clumsier fellow than myself, I hope that without much puffing and sweating, only keeping on a good round dog-trot, I shall be able to overtake thee.
Mean time, take back thy letter, as thou desirest. I would not have it in my pocket upon any account at pre. sent; nor read it once more.
I am going down without seeing my beloved. I was a hasty fool to write her a letter, promising that I would not come near her till I saw her at her father's. For as she is now actually at Smith's, and I so near her, one short visit could have done no harm.
I sent Will., two hours ago, with my grateful compli. ments, and to know how she does.
How must I adore this charming creature! for I am
ready to think my servant a happier fellow than myself, for having been within a pair of stairs and an apartment of her.
Mowbray and I will drop a tear a-piece, as we ride along, to the memory of poor Belton:—as we ride along, say: for we shall have so much joy when we arrive at Lord M.'s, and when I communicate to him and my cousins the dear creature's letter, that we shall forget every thing grievous: since now their family-hopes in my refor mation (the point which lies so near their hearts) will all revive; it being an article of their faith, that, if I marry, repentance and mortification will follow of course.
Neither Mowbray nor I shall accept of thy verbal invitation to the funeral. We like not these dismal formalities. And as to the respect that is supposed to be shown to the memory of a deceased friend in such an attendance, why should we do any thing to reflect upon those who have made it a fashion to leave this parade to people whom they hire for that purpose?
Adieu, and be cheerful. Thou canst now do no more for poor Belton, wert thou to howl for him to the end of thy life.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Sat. Aug. 26.
On Thursday afternoon I assisted at the opening of poor Belton's will, in which he has left me his sole executor, and bequeathed me a legacy of an hundred guineas; which