Letter 193: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.
Saturday, May 20
I AM pleased with the sober reflection thou concludest thy last with; and I thank thee for it. Poor Belton!—I did not think his Thomasine would have proved so very a devil. But this must everlastingly be the risk of a keeper who takes up with a low-bred girl. This I never did. Nor had I occasion to do. Such a one as I, Jack, needed only, till now, to shake the stateliest tree, and the mellowed fruit dropped into my mouth: always of Montaigne’s taste, thou knowest—thought it a glory to subdue a girl of family 157 —More truly delightful to me the seduction progress than the crowning act—for that’s a vapour, a bubble!—And most cordially do I thank thee for thy indirect hint that I am right in my present pursuit.
From such a lady as Miss Harlowe, a man is secured from all the inconveniencies thou expatiatest upon.
Once more, therefore, do I thank thee, Belford, for thy approbation!—One need not, as thou sayest, sneak into holes and corners and shun the day, in the company of such a lady as this. How friendly in thee, thus to abet the favourite
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purpose of my heart!—Nor can it be a disgrace to me to permit such a lady to be called by my name!—Nor shall I be at all concerned about the world’s censure, if I live to the years of discretion which thou mentionest, should I be taken in, and prevailed upon to tread with her the good old path of my ancestors.
A blessing on thy heart, thou honest fellow! I thought thou wert but in jest, or acting but by my uncle’s desire, when thou wert pleading for matrimony in behalf of this lady!—It could not be principle, I knew, in thee: it could not be compassion—A little envy indeed I suspected!—But now I see thee once more thyself. And once more, say I, a blessing on thy heart, thou true friend, and very honest fellow!
Now will I proceed with courage in all my schemes, and oblige thee with the continued narrative of my progressions towards bringing them to effect!—But I could not forbear to interrupt my story, to show my gratitude!