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meaning on perusal of my letter. You have seen what I wrote, no doubt ?
I have, Madam. And then I began to account for it, as an innocent artifice.
Thus far indeed, Sir, it is innocent, that I meant him no hurt, and had a right to the effect I hoped for from it; and he had none to invade me. But have you, Sir, that letter of his in which he gives you (as I suppose he does) the copy of mine ?
I have, Madam. And pulled it out of my letter-case. But hesitating-Nay, Sir, said she, be pleased to read my letter to yourself-I desire not to see his-and see if you can be longer a stranger to a meaning so obvious.
I read it to myself-Indeed, Madam, I can find nothing but that you are going down to Harlowe-place to be reconciled to your father and other friends and Mr. Lovelace presumed that a letter from your sister, which he saw brought when he was at Mr. Smith's, gave you the welcome news of it.
She then explained all to me, and that, as I may say, in six words-A religious meaning is couched under it, and that's the reason that neither you nor I could find it out.
Read but for my father's house, Heaven, said she, and for the interposition of my dear blessed friend, sup6. pose the mediation of my Saviour (which I humbly rely upon); and all the rest of the letter will be ac counted for.' I hope (repeated she) that it is a par donable artifice. But I am afraid it is not strictly right.
I read it so, and stood astonished for a minute at her invention, her piety, her charity, and at thine and mine own stupidity to be thus taken in.
And now, thou vile Lovelace, what hast thou to do (the lady all consistent with herself, and no hopes left for
thee) but to hang, drown, or shoot thyself, for an outwitted boaster?
My surprise being a little over, she proceeded: As to the letter that came from my sister while your friend was here, you will soon see, Sir, that it is the cruellest letter she ever wrote me.
And then she expressed a deep concern for what might be the consequence of Colonel Morden's intended visit to you; and besought me, that if now, or at any time here. after, I had opportunity to prevent any further mischief, without detriment or danger to myself, I would do it.
I assured her of the most particular attention to this and to all her commands; and that in a manner so agreeable to her, that she invoked a blessing upon me for my good. ness, as she called it, to a desolate creature who suffered under the worst of orphanage; those were her words.
She then went back to her first subject, her uneasiness for fear of your molesting her again; and said, If you have any influence over him, Mr. Belford, prevail upon him that he will give me the assurance that the short remainder of my time shall be all my own. I have need of it. In. deed I have. Why will he wish to interrupt me in my duty? Has he not punished me enough for my preference of him to all his sex? Has he not destroyed my fame and my fortune? And will not his causeless vengeance upon me be complete, unless he ruin my soul too?-Excuse me, Sir, for this vehemence! But indeed it greatly imports me to know that I shall be no more disturbed by him. And yet, with all this aversion, I would sooner give way to his visit, though I were to expire the moment I saw him, than to be the cause of any fatal misunderstanding between you and him.
I assured her that I would make such a representation
of the matter to you, and of the state of her health, that I would undertake to answer for you, that you would not attempt to come near her.
And for this reason, Lovelace, do I lay the whole matter before you, and desire you will authorize me, as soon as this and mine of Saturday last come to your hands, to dissipate her fears,
This gave her a little satisfaction; and then she said that had I not told her that I could promise for you, she was determined, ill as she is, to remove somewhere out of my knowledge as well as out of your's. And yet, to have been obliged to leave people I am but just got acquainted with, said the poor lady, and to have died among perfect strangers, would have completed my hardships.
This conversation, I found, as well from the length as the nature of it, had fatigued her; and seeing her change colour once or twice, I made that my excuse, and took leave of her desiring her permission, however, to attend her in the evening; and as often as possible; for I could not help telling her that, every time I saw her, I more and more considered her as a beatified spirit; and as one sent from Heaven to draw me after her out of the miry gulf in which I had been so long immersed.
And laugh at me if thou wilt; but it is true that, every time I approach her, I cannot but look upon her as one just entering into a companionship with saints and angels. This thought so wholly possessed me, that I could not help begging, as I went away, her prayers and her blessing, with the reverence due to an angel.
In the evening, she was so low and weak, that I took my leave of her in less than a quarter of an hour. I went directly home. Where, to the pleasure and wonder of my cousin and her family, I now pass many
honest evenings: which they impute to your being out of
my own servant, to make I must have kept thee in hope; but wilt not, I am back without a letter.
I shall dispatch my packet to-morrow morning early by thee amends for the suspense thou'lt thank me for that, I sure, for sending thy servant
I long for the particulars of the conversation between you and Mr. Morden: the lady, as I have hinted, is full of apprehensions about it. Send me back this packet when perused; for I have not had either time or patience to take a copy of it. And I beseech you enable me to make good my engagements to the poor lady that you will not invade her again.
MR. BELFORD, TO ROBERT LOVELACE, ESQ.
Wednesday, Aug. 30.
I HAVE a conversation to give you that passed between this admirable lady and Dr. H. which will furnish a new instance of the calmness and serenity with which she can talk of death, and prepare for it, as if it were an occur rence as familiar to her as dressing and undressing.
As soon as I had dispatched my servant to you with my letters of the 26th, 28th, and yesterday the 29th, I went to pay my duty to her, and had the pleasure to find her, after a tolerable night, pretty lively and cheerful. She was but just returned from her usual devotions; and Doctor H. alighted as she entered the door.
After inquiring how she did, and hearing her complaints of shortness of breath, (which she attributed to inward decay, precipitated by her late harasses, as well from her friends as from you,) he was for advising her to go into the air.
What will that do for me? said she tell me truly, good Sir, with a cheerful aspect, (you know you cannot disturb me by it,) whether now you do not put on the true physician; and despairing that any thing in medicine will help me, advise me to the air, as the last resource ? -Can you think the air will avail in such a malady as mine?
He was silent.
I ask, said she, because my friends (who will possibly some time hence inquire after the means I used for my re covery) may be satisfied that I omitted nothing which so worthy and so skilful a physician prescribed?
The air, Madam, may possibly help the difficulty of breathing, which has so lately attacked you.
But, Sir, you see how weak I am. You must see that I have been consuming from day to day; and now, if I can judge by what I feel in myself, putting her hand to her heart, I cannot continue long. If the air would very probably add to my days, though I am far from being desirous to have them lengthened, I would go into it; and the rather, as I know Mrs. Lovick would kindly accompany me. But if I were to be at the trouble of removing into new lodgings, (a trouble which I think now would be too much for me,) and this only to die in the country, I had rather the scene were to shut up here. For here have I meditated the spot, and the manner, and every thing, as well of the minutest as of the highest consequence, that can attend the solemn moments. So, Doctor, tell me truly, may I stay here, and be clear of any imputations of cur