What Belton will do with his Thomasine I know not! nor care I to advise him: for I see the poor fellow does not like that any body should curse her but himself. This he does very heartily. And so low is he reduced, that he blubbers over the reflection upon his past fondness for her cubs, and upon his present doubts of their being his: ’What a damn’d thing is it, Belford, if Tom and Hal should be the hostler dog’s puppies and not mine!’
Very true! and I think the strong health of the chubby-faced muscular whelps confirms the too great probability.
But I say not so to him.
You, he says, are such a gay, lively mortal, that this sad tale would make no impression upon you: especially now, that your whole heart is engaged as it is. Mowbray would be too violent upon it: he has not, he says, a feeling heart. Tourville has no discretion: and, a pretty jest! although he and his Thomasine lived without reputation in the world, (people guessing that they were not married, notwithstanding she went by his name,) yet ’he would not too much discredit the cursed ingrate neither!’
Could a man act a weaker part, had he been really married; and were he sure he was going to separate from the mother of his own children?
I leave this as a lesson upon thy heart, without making any application: only with this remark, ’That after we libertines have indulged our licentious appetites, reflecting, (in the conceit of our vain hearts,) both with our lips and by our lives, upon our ancestors and the good old ways, we find out, when we come to years of discretion, if we live till then (what all who knew us found out before, that is to say, we found out), our own despicable folly; that those good old ways would have been best for us, as well as for the rest of the world; and that in every step we have deviated from them we have only exposed our vanity and our ignorance at the same time.’
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Saturday, may 20.