He acquaints Mr. Lovelace of the prosecution intended to be set up against him, by his masters, for a Rape upon Miss Betterton, whom, by a stratagem, he had got into his hands; and who afterwards died in child-bed; the child still living, but, as Joseph says, not regarded by his Honour in the least . His masters, he says, call it a very vile affair; but God forbid that he should, without his Honour’s leave. He hears, he says, that his Honour went abroad to avoid the prosecution which the lady’s relations otherwise would have set on foot. And that his masters will not rest till they get the Bettertons to commence it.
Joseph tells him, that this was one of the stories which ‘Squire Solmes was to tell his young Lady of, would she have heard him ( b ) .
He desires him to let him know, if his Honour’s life is in danger from this prosecution; and hopes, if it be, ‘that he will not be hanged like as a common man; but only have his head cut off, or so; and that he will natheless think of his faithful Joseph Leman, before his head shall be condemned, because afterwards he understands, that all will be the king’s, or the shreeve’s .’
He then acquaints him, that Captain Singleton, and his young master and young mistress, are often in close conference together; and that his young master said, before his face, to the captain, that his blood boiled over for revenge upon his Honour; and at the same time praised him (Joseph) to the captain, for his fidelity and for his good head, altho’ he looked so seelie : And then he offers his services, in order to prevent mischief, and to deserve his bounty, and his favour, as to the Blue Boar Inn, which he hears so good an account of—
‘And then the Blue Boar is not all neither (says Joseph), since, and please your Honour, the pretty Sow [God forgive me for jesting in so serious a matter] runs in my head likewise. I believe I shall love her mayhap more than your Honour would have me; for she begins to be kind and good-humoured, and listens, and please your Honour, like as if she was among beans, when I talk about the Blue Boar, and all that.
‘Pray your Honour forgive the jesting of a poor plain man. We common folks have our joys, and please your Honour, like as our betters have; and if we be sometimes snubbed, we can find our underlings to snub again: And if not, we can get a wife, mayhap, and snub her: So are masters some how or other ourselves.’
He then tells him how much his conscience smites him for what he has done; since, but for the stories his Honour taught him, it would have been impossible for his old masters, and his lady, to have been so hard-hearted as they were, notwithstanding the malice of his young master and young mistress.
‘And here is the sad thing (proceeds he); they cannot come to clear up matters with my dearest young lady, because, as your Honour has ordered it, they have these stories as if bribed out of your Honour’s servant; which must not be known, for fear your
Honour should kill him and me too, and blacken the bribers! —Ah, your Honour! —I doubt, your Honour, as that I am a very vile fellow,—Lord bless my soul! and did not intend it.
‘But if my dearest young lady should come to harm, and please your Honour, the Horsepond at the Blue Boar—But Lord preserve me from all bad mischiefs, and all bad ends, I pray the Lord! —For tho’ your Honour is kind to me in wordly pelf, yet what shall a man get to lose his soul, as holy scripture says, and please your Honour?
‘But natheless I am in hope of repentance hereafter, being but a young man, if I do wrong thro’ ignorance; your Honour being a great man, and a great wit; and I a poor creature, not worthy notice; and your Honourable to answer for all. But howsoever I am
Your Honour’s faithful servant in all duty,
Joseph Leman .’
April 15 and 16.