Methinks I am sorry for honest Belton. But a man cannot be ill, or vapourish, but thou liftest up thy shriek-owl note, and killest him immediately. None but a fellow, who is for a drummer in death’s forlorn-hope, could take so much delight, as thou dost, in beating a dead-march with thy goose-quills. Whereas, didst thou but know thine own talents, thou art formed to give mirth by thy very appearance; and wouldst make a better figure by half, leading up thy brother-bears at Hockley in the Hole, to the music of a Scot’s bagpipe. Methinks I see thy clumsy sides shaking, (and shaking the sides of all beholders,) in these attitudes; thy fat head archly beating time on thy porterly shoulders, right and left by turns, as I once beheld thee practising to the horn-pipe at Preston. Thou remembrest the frolick, as I have done an hundred times; for I never before saw thee appear so much in character.
But I know what I shall get by this—only that notable observation repeated, That thy outside is the worst of thee, and mine the best of me. And so let it be. Nothing thou writest of this sort can I take amiss.
But I shall call thee seriously to account, when I see thee, for the extracts thou hast given the lady from my letters, notwithstanding what I said in my last; especially if she continue to refuse me. An hundred times have I myself known a woman deny, yet comply at last: but, by these extracts, thou hast, I doubt, made her bar up the door of her heart, as she used to do her chamber-door, against me.—This therefore is a disloyalty that friendship cannot bear, nor honour allow me to forgive.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
London, Aug. 21, Monday.
I believe I am bound to curse thee, Jack. Nevertheless I won’t anticipate, but proceed to write thee a longer letter than thou hast had from me for some time past. So here goes.
That thou mightest have as little notice as possible of the time I was resolved to be in town, I set out in my Lord’s chariot-and-six yesterday, as soon as I had dispatched my letter to thee, and arrived in town last night: for I knew I could have no dependence on thy friendship where Miss Harlowe’s humour was concerned.
I had no other place so ready, and so was forced to go to my old lodgings, where also my wardrobe is; and there I poured out millions of curses upon the whole crew, and refused to see either Sally or Polly; and this not only for suffering the lady to escape, but for the villanous arrest, and for their detestable insolence to her at the officer’s house.
I dressed myself in a never-worn suit, which I had intended for one of my wedding-suits; and liked myself so well, that I began to think, with thee, that my outside was the best of me:
I took a chair to Smith’s, my heart bounding in almost audible thumps to my throat, with the assured expectations of seeing my beloved. I clasped my fingers, as I was danced along: I charged my eyes to languish and sparkle by turns: I talked to my knees, telling them how they must bend; and, in the language of a charming describer, acted my part in fancy, as well as spoke it to myself.