’To persons in health, said she, this sight may be shocking; and the preparation, and my unconcernedness in it, may appear affected: but to me, who have had so gradual a weaning-time from the world, and so much reason not to love it, I must say, I dwell on, I indulge, (and, strictly speaking, I enjoy,) the thoughts of death. For, believe me,’ [looking stedfastly at the awful receptacle,] ’believe what at this instant I feel to be most true, That there is such a vast superiority of weight and importance in the thought of death, and its hoped-for happy consequences, that it in a manner annihilates all other considerations and concerns. Believe me, my good friends, it does what nothing else can do: it teaches me, by strengthening in me the force of the divinest example, to forgive the injuries I have received; and shuts out the remembrance of past evils from my soul.’
And now let me ask thee, Lovelace, Dost thou think that, when the time shall come that thou shalt be obliged to launch into the boundless ocean of eternity, thou wilt be able (any more than poor Belton) to act thy part with such true heroism, as this sweet and tender blossom of a woman has manifested, and continues to manifest!
Oh! no! it cannot be!—And why can’t it be?—The reason is evident: she has no wilful errors to look back upon with self-reproach—and her mind is strengthened by the consolations which flow from that religious rectitude which has been the guide of all her actions; and which has taught her rather to choose to be a sufferer than an aggressor!
This was the support of the divine Socrates, as thou hast read. When led to execution, his wife lamenting that he should suffer being innocent, Thou fool, said he, wouldst thou wish me to be guilty!
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
Friday, Sept. 1.
How astonishing, in the midst of such affecting scenes, is thy mirth on what thou callest my own aspirations! Never, surely, was there such another man in this world, thy talents and thy levity taken together!— Surely, what I shall send thee with this will affect thee. If not, nothing can, till thy own hour come: and heavy will then thy reflections be!
I am glad, however, that thou enablest me to assure the lady that thou wilt no more molest her; that is to say, in other words, that, after having ruined her fortunes, and all her worldly prospects, thou wilt be so gracious, as to let her lie down and die in peace.
Thy giving up to poor Belton’s sister the little legacy, and thy undertaking to make Mowbray and Tourville follow thy example, are, I must say to thy honour, of a piece with thy generosity to thy Rose-bud and her Johnny; and to a number of other good actions in pecuniary matters: although thy Rose-bud’s is, I believe, the only instance, where a pretty woman was concerned, of such a disinterested bounty.