My dear and happy Sister,
Your afflicted servant.
A letter directed for me, at Mr. Smith’s, a
glover, in King-street,
Covent-garden, will come to hand.
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
[In answer to letters XXIX. XXXII. Of this volume.]
Edgware, Monday, July 24.
What pains thou takest to persuade thyself, that the lady’s ill health is owing to the vile arrest, and to the implacableness of her friends. Both primarily (if they were) to be laid at thy door. What poor excuses will good hearts make for the evils they are put upon by bad hearts!—But ’tis no wonder that he who can sit down premeditatedly to do a bad action, will content himself with a bad excuse: and yet what fools must he suppose the rest of the world to be, if he imagines them as easy to be imposed upon as he can impose upon himself?
In vain dost thou impute to pride or wilfulness the necessity to which thou hast reduced this lady of parting with her clothes; For can she do otherwise, and be the noble-minded creature she is?
Her implacable friends have refused her the current cash she left behind her; and wished, as her sister wrote to her, to see her reduced to want: probably therefore they will not be sorry that she is reduced to such straights; and will take it for a justification from Heaven of their wicked hard heartedness. Thou canst not suppose she would take supplies from thee: to take them from me would, in her opinion, be taking them from thee. Miss Howe’s mother is an avaricious woman; and, perhaps, the daughter can do nothing of that sort unknown to her; and, if she could, is too noble a girl to deny it, if charged. And then Miss Harlowe is firmly of opinion, that she shall never want nor wear the think she disposes of.
Having heard nothing from town that obliges me to go thither, I shall gratify poor Belton with my company till to-morrow, or perhaps till Wednesday. For the unhappy man is more and more loth to part with me. I shall soon set out for Epsom, to endeavour to serve him there, and re-instate him in his own house. Poor fellow! he is most horribly low spirited; mopes about; and nothing diverts him. I pity him at my heart; but can do him no good.—What consolation can I give him, either from his past life, or from his future prospects?
Our friendships and intimacies, Lovelace, are only calculated for strong life and health. When sickness comes, we look round us, and upon one another, like frighted birds, at the sight of a kite ready to souse upon them. Then, with all our bravery, what miserable wretches are we!
Thou tallest me that thou seest reformation is coming swiftly upon me. I hope it is. I see so much difference in the behaviour of this admirable woman in her illness, and that of poor Belton in his, that it is plain to me the sinner is the real coward, and the saint the true hero; and, sooner or later, we shall all find it to be so, if we are not cut off suddenly.