But art thou sure, Jack, it is a mortification?—My uncle once gave promises of such a root-and-branch distemper: but, alas! it turned to a smart gout-fit; and I had the mortification instead of him.—I have heard that bark, in proper doses, will arrest a mortification in its progress, and at last cure it. Let thy uncle’s surgeon know, that it is worth more than his ears, if he prescribe one grain of the bark.
I wish my uncle had given me the opportunity of setting thee a better example: thou shouldst have seen what a brave fellow I had been. And had I had occasion to write, my conclusion would have been this: ’I hope the old Trojan’s happy. In that hope, I am so; and
’Thy rejoicing friend,
Dwell not always, Jack, upon one subject. Let
me have poor Belton’s
story. The sooner the better. If I can be of service to him, tell
him he may command me either in purse or person. Yet the former with
a freer will than the latter; for how can I leave my goddess? But
I’ll issue my commands to my other vassals to attend thy summons.
If ye want head, let me know. If not, my quota,
on this occasion, is
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
Saturday, may 20.
Not one word will I reply to such an abandoned wretch, as thou hast shewn thyself to be in thine of last night. I will leave the lady to the protection of that Power who only can work miracles; and to her own merits. Still I have hopes that these will save her.
I will proceed, as thou desirest, to poor Belton’s case; and the rather, as it has thrown me into such a train of thinking upon our past lives, our present courses, and our future views, as may be of service to us both, if I can give due weight to the reflections that arise from it.
The poor man made me a visit on Thursday, in this my melancholy attendance. He began with complaints of his ill health and spirits, his hectic cough, and his increased malady of spitting blood; and then led to his story.
A confounded one it is; and which highly aggravates his other maladies: for it has come out, that his Thomasine, (who, truly, would be new christened, you know, that her name might be nearer in sound to the christian name of the man whom she pretended to doat upon) has for many years carried on an intrigue with a fellow who had been hostler to her father (an innkeeper at Darking); of whom, at the expense of poor Belton, she has made a gentleman; and managed it so, that having the art to make herself his cashier, she has been unable to account for large sums, which he thought forthcoming at demand, and had trusted to her custody, in order to pay off a mortgage upon his parental estate in Kent, which his heart has run upon leaving clear, but which now cannot be done, and will soon be foreclosed. And yet she has so long passed for his wife, that he knows not what to resolve upon about her; nor about the two boys he was so fond of, supposing them to be his; whereas now he begins to doubt his share in them.