May my story be a warning to all, how they prefer a libertine to a man of true honour; and how they permit themselves to be misled (where they mean the best) by the specious, yet foolish hope of subduing riveted habits, and, as I may say, of altering natures!—The more foolish, as constant experience might convince us, that there is hardly one in ten, of even tolerably happy marriages, in which the wife keeps the hold in the husband’s affections, which she had in the lover’s. What influence then can she hope to have over the morals of an avowed libertine, who marries perhaps for conveniency, who despises the tie, and whom, it is too probable, nothing but old age, or sickness, or disease, (the consequence of ruinous riot,) can reclaim?
I am very glad you gave my cous—
Hither I had written, and was forced to quit my pen. And so much weaker and worse I grew, that had I resumed it, to have closed here, it must have been with such trembling unsteadiness, that it would have given you more concern for me, than the delay of sending it away by last night’s post can do. I deferred it, therefore, to see how it would please God to deal with me. And I find myself, after a better night than I expected, lively and clear; and hope to give a proof that I do, in the continuation of my letter, which I will pursue as currently as if I had not left off.
I am glad that you so considerately gave my cousin Morden favourable impressions of Mr. Belford; since, otherwise, some misunderstanding might have happened between them: for although I hope this Mr. Belford is an altered man, and in time will be a reformed one, yet is he one of those high spirits that has been accustomed to resent imaginary indignities to himself, when, I believe, he has not been studious to avoid giving real offences to others; men of this cast acting as if they thought all the world was made to bar with them, and they with nobody in it.
Mr. Lovelace, you tell me, thought fit to intrust my cousin with the copy of his letter of penitence to me, and with my answer to it, rejecting him and his suit: and Mr. Belford, moreover, acquaints me, how much concerned Mr. Lovelace is for his baseness, and how freely he accused himself to my cousin. This shows, that the true bravery of spirit is to be above doing a vile action; and that nothing subjects the human mind to so much meanness, as the consciousness of having done wilful wrong to our fellow creatures. How low, how sordid, are the submissions which elaborate baseness compels! that that wretch could treat me as he did, and then could so poorly creep to me for forgiveness of crimes so wilful, so black, and so premeditated! how my soul despised him for his meanness on a certain occasion, of which you will one day be informed!* and him whose actions one’s heart despises, it is far from being difficult to reject, had one ever so partially favoured him once.