One day, Sir, you will perhaps know all my story. But, whenever it is known, I beg that the author of my calamities may not be vindictively sought after. He could not have been the author of them, but for a strange concurrence of unhappy causes. As the law will not be able to reach him when I am gone, the apprehension of any other sort of vengeance terrifies me; since, in such a case, should my friends be safe, what honour would his death bring to my memory?—If any of them should come to misfortune, how would my fault be aggravated!
God long preserve you, my dearest Cousin, and bless you but in proportion to the consolation you have given me, in letting me know that you still love me; and that I have one near and dear relation who can pity and forgive me; (and then you will be greatly blessed;) is the prayer of
Your ever grateful and affectionate
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford, Esq. [In answer to his letters XXIII. XXXVII. Of this volume.] Thursday, Aug. 31.
I cannot but own that I am cut to the heart by this Miss Harlowe’s interpretation of her letter. She ought never to be forgiven. She, a meek person, and a penitent, and innocent, and pious, and I know not what, who can deceive with a foot in the grave!—
’Tis evident, that she sat down to write this letter with a design to mislead and deceive. And if she be capable of that, at such a crisis, she has as much need of Heaven’s forgiveness, as I have of her’s: and, with all her cant of charity and charity, if she be not more sure of it than I am of her real pardon, and if she take the thing in the light she ought to take it in, she will have a few darker moments yet to come than she seems to expect.
Lord M. himself, who is not one of those (to speak in his own phrase) who can penetrate a millstone, sees the deceit, and thinks it unworthy of her; though my cousins Montague vindicate her. And no wonder this cursed partial sex [I hate ’em all—by my soul, I hate ’em all!] will never allow any thing against an individual of it, where our’s is concerned. And why? Because, if they censure deceit in another, they must condemn their own hearts.
She is to send me a letter after she is in Heaven, is she? The devil take such allegories, and the devil take thee for calling this absurdity an innocent artifice!
I insist upon it, that if a woman of her character, at such a critical time, is to be justified in such a deception, a man in full health and vigour of body and mind, as I am, may be excused for all his stratagems and attempts against her. And, thank my stars, I can now sit me down with a quiet conscience on that score. By my soul, I can, Jack. Nor has any body, who can acquit her, a right to blame me. But with some, indeed, every thing she does must be good, every thing I do must be bad— And why? Because she has always taken care to coax the stupid misjudging world, like a woman: while I have constantly defied and despised its censures, like a man.