The poor lady is just recovered from a fainting fit, which has left her at death’s door. Her late tranquillity and freedom from pain seemed but a lightening, as Mrs. Lovick and Mrs. Smith call it.
By my faith, Lovelace, I had rather part with all the friends I have in the world, than with this lady. I never knew what a virtuous, a holy friendship, as I may call mine to her, was before. But to be so new to it, and to be obliged to forego it so soon, what an affliction! Yet, thank Heaven, I lose her not by my own fault!—But ’twould be barbarous not to spare thee now.
She has sent for the divine who visited her before, to pray with her.
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Kensington, Wednesday noon.
Like AEsop’s traveller, thou blowest hot and cold, life and death, in the same breath, with a view, no doubt, to distract me. How familiarly dost thou use the words, dying, dimness, tremor? Never did any mortal ring so many changes on so few bells. Thy true father, I dare swear, was a butcher, or an undertaker, by the delight thou seemest to take in scenes of death and horror. Thy barbarous reflection, that thou losest her not by thy own fault, is never to be forgiven. Thou hast but one way to atone for the torments thou hast given me, and that is, by sending me word that she is better, and will recover. Whether it be true or not, let me be told so, and I will go abroad rejoicing and believing it, and my wishes and imaginations shall make out all the rest.
If she live but one year, that I may acquit myself to myself (no matter for the world!) that her death is not owing to me, I will compound for the rest.
Will neither vows nor prayers save her? I never prayed in my life, put all the years of it together, as I have done for this fortnight past: and I have most sincerely repented of all my baseness to her—And will nothing do?
But after all, if she recovers not, this reflection must be my comfort; and it is truth; that her departure will be owing rather to wilfulness, to downright female wilfulness, than to any other cause.
It is difficult for people, who pursue the dictates of a violent resentment, to stop where first they designed to stop.
I have the charity to believe, that even James and Arabella Harlowe, at first, intended no more by the confederacy they formed against this their angel sister, than to disgrace and keep her down, lest (sordid wretches!) their uncles should follow the example their grandfather had set, to their detriment.
So this lady, as I suppose, intended only at first to vex and plague me; and, finding she could do it to purpose, her desire of revenge insensibly became stronger in her than the desire of life; and now she is willing to die, as an event which she thinks will cut my heart-strings asunder. And still, the more to be revenged, puts on the Christian, and forgives me.