I wish indeed, I heartily wish, we could have seen one ray of comfort darting in upon his benighted mind, before he departed. But all, alas! to the very last gasp, was horror and confusion. And my only fear arises from this, that, till within the four last days of his life, he could not be brought to think he should die, though in a visible decline for months; and, in that presumption, was too little inclined to set about a serious preparation for a journey, which he hoped he should not be obliged to take; and when he began to apprehend that he could not put it off, his impatience, and terror, and apprehension, showed too little of that reliance and resignation, which afford the most comfortable reflections to the friends of the dying, as well as to the dying themselves.
But we must leave poor Belton to that mercy, of which we have all so much need; and, for my own part (do you, Lovelace, and the rest of the fraternity, as ye will) I am resolved, I will endeavour to begin to repent of my follies while my health is sound, my intellects untouched, and while it is in my power to make some atonement, as near to restitution or reparation, as is possible, to those I have wronged or misled. And do ye outwardly, and from a point of false bravery, make as light as ye will of my resolution, as ye are none of ye of the class of abandoned and stupid sots who endeavour to disbelieve the future existence of which ye are afraid, I am sure you will justify me in your hearts, if not by your practices; and one day you will wish you had joined with me in the same resolution, and will confess there is more good sense in it, than now perhaps you will own.
You are very earnest, by your last letter, (just given me) to hear again from me, before you set out for Berks. I will therefore close with a few words upon the only subject in your letter which I can at present touch upon: and this is the letter of which you give me a copy from the lady.
Want of rest, and the sad scene I have before my eyes, have rendered me altogether incapable of accounting for the contents of it in any shape. You are in ecstacies upon it. You have reason to be so, if it be as you think. Nor would I rob you of your joy: but I must say I am amazed at it.
Surely, Lovelace, this surprising letter cannot be a forgery of thy own, in order to carry on some view, and to impose upon me. Yet, by the style of it, it cannot though thou art a perfect Proteus too.
I will not, however, add another word, after I have desired the return of this, and have told you that I am
Your true friend, and well-wisher,
Mr. Lovelace, to John Belford,
Aug. 24, Thursday morning.