Upon my faith, Lovelace, I love to praise thee; and often and often, as thou knowest, have I studied for occasions to do it: insomuch that when, for the life of me, I could not think of any thing done by thee that deserved praise, I have taken pains to applaud the not ungraceful manner in which thou hast performed actions that merited the gallows.
Now thou art so near, I will dispatch my servant to thee, if occasion requires. But, I fear, I shall soon give thee the news thou art apprehensive of. For I am just now sent for by Mrs. Smith; who has ordered the messenger to tell me, that she knew not if the lady will be alive when I come.
I could not close my letter in such an uncertainty as must have added to your impatience. For you have, on several occasions, convinced me, that the suspense you love to give would be the greatest torment to you that you could receive. A common case with all aggressive and violent spirits, I believe. I will just mention then (your servant waiting here till I have written) that the lady has had two very severe fits: in the last of which whilst she lay, they sent to the doctor and Mr. Goddard, who both advised that a messenger should be dispatched for me, as her executor; being doubtful whether, if she had a third, it would not carry her off.
She was tolerably recovered by the time I cane; and the doctor made her promise before me, that, while she was so weak, she would not attempt any more to go abroad; for, by Mrs. Lovick’s description, who attended her, the shortness of her breath, her extreme weakness, and the fervour of her devotions when at church, were contraries, which, pulling different ways (the soul aspiring, the body sinking) tore her tender frame in pieces.
So much for the present. I shall detain Will. no longer than just to beg that you will send me back this packet and the last. Your memory is so good, that once reading is all you ever give, or need to give, to any thing. And who but ourselves can make out our characters, were you inclined to let any body see what passes between us? If I cannot be obliged, I shall be tempted to withhold what I write, till I have time to take a copy of it.*
* It may not be amiss to observe, that Mr. Belford’s solicitude to get back his letters was owing to his desire of fulfilling the lady’s wishes that he would furnish Miss Howe with materials to vindicate her memory.
A letter from Miss Howe is just now brought by a particular messenger, who says he must carry back a few lines in return. But, as the lady is just retired to lie down, the man is to call again by-and-by.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Uxbridge, Sept. 1, Twelve o’clock at night.