I showed this letter to my fair-one. She was not displeased with it. So, Jack, we cannot now move too fast, as to settlements and license: the day is her uncle’s day, or Captain Tomlinson’s, perhaps, as shall best suit the occasion. Miss Howe’s smuggling scheme is now surely provided against in all events.
But I will not by anticipation make thee a judge of all the benefits that may flow from this my elaborate contrivance. Why will these girls put me upon my master-strokes?
And now for a little mine which I am getting ready to spring. The first that I have sprung, and at the rate I go on (now a resolution, and now a remorse) perhaps the last that I shall attempt to spring.
A little mine, I call it. But it may be attended with great effects. I shall not, however, absolutely depend upon the success of it, having much more effectual ones in reserve. And yet great engines are often moved by small springs. A little spark falling by accident into a powder-magazine, hath done more execution in a siege, than an hundred cannon.
Come the worst, the hymeneal torch, and a white sheet, must be my amende honorable, as the French have it.
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
Tuesday, June 6.
Unsuccessful as hitherto my application to you has been, I cannot for the heart of me forbear writing once more in behalf of this admirable woman: and yet am unable to account for the zeal which impels me to take her part with an earnestness so sincere.
But all her merit thou acknowledgest; all thy own vileness thou confessest, and even gloriest in it: What hope then of moving so hardened a man?—Yet, as it is not too late, and thou art nevertheless upon the crisis, I am resolved to try what another letter will do. It is but my writing in vain, if it do no good; and if thou wilt let me prevail, I knowthou wilt hereafter think me richly entitled to thy thanks.
To argue with thee would be folly. The case cannot require it. I will only entreat thee, therefore, that thou wilt not let such an excellence lose the reward of her vigilant virtue.
I believe there never were libertines so vile, but purposed, at some future period of their lives, to set about reforming: and let me beg of thee, that thou wilt, in this great article, make thy future repentance as easy, as some time hence thou wilt wish thou hadst made it.
If thou proceedest, I have no doubt that this affair will end tragically, one way or another. It must. Such a woman must interest both gods and men in her cause. But what I most apprehend is, that with her own hand, in resentment of the perpetrated outrage, she (like another Lucretia) will assert the purity of her heart: or, if her piety preserve her from this violence, that wasting grief will soon put a period to her days. And, in either case, will not the remembrance of thy ever-during guilt, and transitory triumph, be a torment of torments to thee?