It is my opinion, (if thou holdest thy purposes to marry,) that thou canst not do better than to procure thy real aunts, and thy real cousins, to pay her a visit, and to be thy advocates. But if they decline personal visits, letters from them, and from my Lord M. supported by Miss Howe’s interest, may, perhaps, effect something in thy favour.
But these are only my hopes, founded on what I wish for thy sake. The lady, I really think, would choose death rather than thee: and the two women are of opinion, though they knew not half of what she has suffered, that her heart is actually broken.
At taking my leave, I tendered my best services to her, and besought her to permit me frequently to inquire after her health.
She made me no answer, but by bowing her head.
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
Wednesday, July 19.
This morning I took a chair to Smith’s; and, being told that the lady had a very bad night, but was up, I sent for her worthy apothecary; who, on his coming to me, approving of my proposal of calling in Dr. H., I bid the woman acquaint her with the designed visit.
It seems she was at first displeased; yet withdrew her objection: but, after a pause, asked them, What she should do? She had effects of value, some of which she intended, as soon as she could, to turn into money, but, till then, had not a single guinea to give the doctor for his fee.
Mrs. Lovick said, she had five guineas by her; they were at her service.
She would accept of three, she said, if she would take that (pulling a diamond ring from her finger) till she repaid her; but on no other terms.
Having been told I was below with Mr. Goddard, she desired to speak one word with me, before she saw the Doctor.
She was sitting in an elbow-chair, leaning her head on a pillow; Mrs. Smith and the widow on each side her chair; her nurse, with a phial of hartshorn, behind her; in her own hand her salts.
Raising her head at my entrance, she inquired if the Doctor knew Mr. Lovelace.
I told her no; and that I believed you never saw him in your life.
Was the Doctor my friend?
He was; and a very worthy and skilful man. I named him for his eminence in his profession: and Mr. Goddard said he knew not a better physician.
I have but one condition to make before I see the gentleman; that he refuse not his fees from me. If I am poor, Sir, I am proud. I will not be under obligation, you may believe, Sir, I will not. I suffer this visit, because I would not appear ungrateful to the few friends I have left, nor obstinate to such of my relations, as may some time hence, for their private satisfaction, inquire after my behaviour in my sick hours. So, Sir, you know the condition. And don’t let me be vexed. ’I am very ill! and cannot debate the matter.’