This I bid them tell her. And thus ended our serious conversation.
I took leave of them; and went down; and, stepping into my chair, caused myself to be carried to Lincoln’s-Inn; and walked in the gardens till the chapel was opened; and then I went in, and staid prayers, in hopes of seeing the dear creature enter: but to no purpose; and yet I prayed most devoutly that she might be conducted thither, either by my good angel, or her own. And indeed I burn more than ever with impatience to be once more permitted to kneel at the feet of this adorable woman. And had I met her, or espied her in the chapel, it is my firm belief that I should not have been able (though it had been in the midst of the sacred office, and in the presence of thousands) to have forborne prostration to her, and even clamorous supplication for her forgiveness: a christian act; the exercise of it therefore worthy of the place.
After service was over, I stept into my chair again, and once more was carried to Smith’s, in hopes I might have surprised her there: but no such happiness for thy friend. I staid in the back-shop an hour and an half, by my watch; and again underwent a good deal of preachment from the women. John was mainly civil to me now; won over a little by my serious talk, and the honour I professed for the lady. They all three wished matters could be made up between us: but still insisted that she could never get over her illness; and that her heart was broken. A cue, I suppose, they had from you.
While I was there a letter was brought by a particular hand. They seemed very solicitous to hide it from me; which made me suspect it was for her. I desired to be suffered to cast an eye upon the seal, and the superscription; promising to give it back to them unopened.
Looking upon it, I told them I knew the hand and seal. It was from her sister.* And I hoped it would bring her news that she would be pleased with.
* See Letter XXVI. of this volume.
They joined most heartily in the same hope: and, giving the letter to them again, I civilly took leave, and went away.
But I will be there again presently; for I fancy my courteous behaviour to these women will, on their report of it, procure me the favour I so earnestly covet. And so I will leave my letter unsealed, to tell thee the event of my next visit at Smith’s.
Thy servant just calling, I sent thee this: and will soon follow it by another. Mean time, I long to hear how poor Belton is: to whom my best wishes.
Mr. Belford, to Robert Lovelace,
Tuesday, Aug. 22.
I have been under such concern for the poor man, whose exit I almost hourly expect, and at the shocking scenes his illness and his agonies exhibit, that I have been only able to make memoranda of the melancholy passages, from which to draw up a more perfect account, for the instruction of us all, when the writing appetite shall return.