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I shall present to his unfortunate sister, to whom he has not been so kind as I think he ought to have been, He has also left twenty pounds a-piece to Mowbray, Tourville, thyself, and me, for a ring to be worn in remembrance of him.
After I had given some particular orders about the preparations to be made for his funeral, I went to town; but having made it late before I got in on Thursday night, and being fatigued for want of rest several nights before, and now in my spirits, [I could not help it, Lovelace!] I contented myself to send my compliments to the innocent suf. ferer, to inquire after her health.
My servant saw Mrs. Smith, who told him, she was very glad I was come to town; for that the lady was worse than she had yet been.
It is impossible to account for the contents of her letter to you; or to reconcile those contents to the facts I have to communicate.
I was at Smith's by seven yesterday (Friday) morning; and found that the lady was just gone in a chair to St. Dunstan's to prayers: she was too ill to get out by six to Covent-garden church; and was forced to be supported to her chair by Mrs. Lovick. They would have persuaded her against going; but she said she knew not but it would be her last opportunity. Mrs. Lovick, dreading that she would be taken worse at church, walked thither before her
Mrs. Smith told me she was so ill on Wednesday night, that she had desired to receive the sacrament; and accordingly it was administered to her, by the parson of the parish whom she besought to take all opportunities of assisting her in her solemn preparation.
This the gentleman promised: and called in the morning to inquire after her health; and was admitted at the first
He staid with her about half an hour; and when he came down, with his face turned aside, and a faltering accent, Mrs. Smith,' said he, 'you have an angel in 6 your house. I will attend her again in the evening, as she 6 desires, and as often as I think it will be agreeable to 'her.'
Her increased weakness she attributed to the fatigues she had undergone by your means; and to a letter she had received from her sister, which she answered the same day.
Mrs. Smith told me that two different persons had called there, one on Thursday morning, one in the evening, to inquire after her state of health; and seemed as if commissioned from her relations for that purpose; but asked not to see her, only were very inquisitive after her visiters: (particularly, it seems, after me: What could they mean by that?) after her way of life, and expenses; and one of them inquired after her manner of supporting them; to the latter of which, Mrs. Smith said, she had answered, as the truth was, that she had been obliged to sell some of her clothes, and was actually about parting with more; at which the inquirist (a grave old farmer-looking man) held up his hands, and said, Good God!-this will be sad, sad news to somebody! I believe I must not mention it. But Mrs. Smith says she desired he would, let him come from he would. He shook his head, and said if she died, the flower of the world would be gone, and the family she be longed to would be no more than a common family*. I was pleased with the man's expression.
You may be curious to know how she passed her time, when she was obliged to leave her lodging to avoid you.
* This man came from her cousin Morden; as will be seen hereafter, Letter XCIV. of this volume; and Vol. VIII. Letter I.
Mrs. Smith tells me that she was very ill when she "went out on Monday morning, and sighed as if her heart 'would break as she came down stairs, and as she went 'through the shop into the coach, her nurse with her, as " you had informed me before: that she ordered the coachman (whom she hired for the day) to drive any where, so it was into the air: he accordingly drove her to Hampstead, and thence to Highgate. There at the Bowling-green House, she alighted, extremely ill, and having breakfasted, ordered the coachman to drive very 'slowly any where. He crept along to Muswell-hill, and 6 put up at a public house there; where she employed herself two hours in writing, though exceedingly weak and low, till the dinner she had ordered was brought in : she endeavoured to eat, but could not: her appetite was 6 gone, quite gone, she said. And then she wrote on for three hours more: after which, being heavy, she dozed a little in an elbow-chair. When she awoke, she or dered the coachman to drive her very slowly to town, to the house of a friend of Mrs. Lovick; whom, as agreed ( upon, she met there: but, being extremely ill, she 'would venture home at a late hour, although she heard 'from the widow that you had been there; and had rea" son to be shocked at your behaviour. She said she found there was no avoiding you: she was apprehensive she should not live many hours, and it was not impossible but the shock the sight of you must give her would determine her fate in your presence.
She accordingly went home. She heard the relation ' of your astonishing vagaries, with hands and eyes often lifted up; and with these words intermingled, Shocking 'creature! incorrigible wretch! And will nothing make him serious? And not being able to bear the thoughts of
an interview with a man so hardened, she took to her usual chair early in the morning, and was carried to the Temple-stairs, where she had ordered her nurse before her, to get a pair of oars in readiness (for her 'fatigues the day before made her unable to bear a coach ;) ❝ and then she was rowed to Chelsea, where she breakfasted; and after rowing about, put in at the Swan at Brentford-ait, where she dined; and would have written, but had no conveniency either of tolerable pens, 6 or ink, or private room; and then proceeding to Richmond, they rowed her back to Mortlake; where she put in, and drank tea at a house her watermen recommended to her. She wrote there for an hour; and re' turned to the Temple; and, when she landed, made one of the watermen get her a chair, and so was carried to the widow's friend, as the night before; where she 6 again met the widow, who informed her that you had "been after her twice that day.
'Mrs. Lovick gave her there her sister's letter*; and she was so much affected with the contents of it, that she 6 was twice very nigh fainting away; and wept bitterly, " as Mrs. Lovick told Mrs. Smith; dropping some warmer 6 expressions than ever they had heard proceed from her
lips, in relation to her friends; calling them cruel, and 'complaining of ill offices done her, and of vile reports raised against her.
While she was thus disturbed, Mrs. Smith came to her, and told her, that you had been there a third time, and was just gone, (at half an hour after nine,) having left word how civil and respectful you would
* See Letter LXVIII, of this volume.
be; but that you was determined to see her at all events.
'She said it was hard she could not be permitted to die in peace: that her lot was a severe one: that she 'began to be afraid she should not forbear repining, and to think her punishment greater than her fault: but, recalling herself immediately, she comforted herself, "that her life would be short, and with the assurance of a 'better.'
By what I have mentioned, you will conclude with me, that the letter brought her by Mrs. Lovick (the superscription of which you saw to be written in her sister's hand) could not be the letter on the contents of which she grounded that she wrote to you, on her return home. And yet neither Mrs. Lovick, nor Mrs. Smith, nor the servant of the latter, know of any other brought her. But as the women assured me, that she actually did write to you, I was eased of a suspicion which I had begun to entertain, that you (for some purpose I could not guess at) had forged the letter from her of which you sent me a copy.
On Wednesday morning, when she received your letter in answer to her's, she said, Necessity may well be called the mother of invention-but calamity is the test of integrity. I hope I have not taken an inexcusable step-And there she stopt a minute or two; and then said, I shall now, perhaps, be allowed to die in peace.
I staid till she came in. She was glad to see me ; but, being very weak, said, she must sit down before she could go up stairs and so went into the back-shop; leaning upon Mrs. Lovick: and when she had sat down, 'I am 'glad to see you, Mr. Belford, said she; I must say so— let mis-reporters say what they will.'