But, Madam, said I, you’ll see by the date of this letter, that their severity, previous to that, cannot be excused by it.
It imports me much, replied she, on account of my present wishes, as to the office you are so kind to undertake, that you should not think harshly of my friends. I must own to you, that I have been apt sometimes myself to think them not only severe but cruel. Suffering minds will be partial to their own cause and merits. Knowing their own hearts, if sincere, they are apt to murmur when harshly treated: But, if they are not believed to be innocent, by persons who have a right to decide upon their conduct according to their own judgments, how can it be helped? Besides, Sir, how do you know, that there are not about my friends as well-meaning misrepresenters as Mr. Brand really seems to be? But, be this as it will, there is no doubt that there are and have been multitudes of persons, as innocent as myself, who have suffered upon surmises as little probable as those on which Mr. Brand founds his judgment. Your intimacy, Sir, with Mr. Lovelace, and (may I say?) a character which, it seems, you have been less solicitous formerly to justify than perhaps you will be for the future, and your frequent visits to me may well be thought to be questionable circumstances in my conduct.
I could only admire her in silence.
But you see, Sir, proceeded she, how necessary it is for young people of our sex to be careful of our company. And how much, at the same time, it behoves young persons of your’s to be chary of their own reputation, were it only for the sake of such of our’s as they may mean honourably by, and who otherwise may suffer in their good names for being seen in their company.
As to Mr. Brand, continued she, he is to be pitied; and let me enjoin you, Mr. Belford, not to take any resentments against him which may be detrimental either to his person or his fortunes. Let his function and his good meaning plead for him. He will have concern enough, when he finds every body, whose displeasure I now labour under, acquitting my memory of perverse guilt, and joining in a general pity for me.
This, Lovelace, is the woman whose life thou hast curtailed in the blossom of it!—How many opportunities must thou have had of admiring her inestimable worth, yet couldst have thy senses so much absorbed in the woman, in her charming person, as to be blind to the angel, that shines out in such full glory in her mind! Indeed, I have ever thought myself, when blest with her conversation, in the company of a real angel: and I am sure it would be impossible for me, were she to be as beautiful, and as crimsoned over with health, as I have seen her, to have the least thought of sex, when I heard her talk.
THURSDAY, THREE O’CLOCK, AUG. 31.
On my re-visit to the lady, I found her almost as much a sufferer from joy as she had sometimes been from grief; for she had just received a very kind letter from her cousin Morden; which she was so good as to communicate to me. As she had already begun to answer it, I begged leave to attend her in the evening, that I might not interrupt her in it.