LETTER 247: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Sunday morn. (June 11) 4 o’clock

A FEW words to the information thou sentest me last night concerning thy poor old man; and then I rise from my seat, shake myself, refresh, new-dress, and so to my charmer, whom, notwithstanding her reserves, I hope to prevail upon to walk out with me on the heath, this warm and fine morning.

The birds must have awakened her before now. They are in full song. She always gloried in accustoming herself to behold the sun-rise; one of God’s natural wonders, as once she called it.

Her window salutes the east. The valleys must be gilded by his rays, by the time I am with her; for already have they made the up-lands smile, and the face of nature cheerful.

How unsuitable wilt thou find this gay preface to a subject so gloomy, as that I am now turning to!

I am glad to hear thy tedious expectations are at last answered.

Thy servant tells me that thou art plaguily grieved at the old fellow’s departure.

I can’t say but thou mayst look as if thou wert; harassed as thou hast been for a number of days and nights with a close attendance upon a dying man, beholding his drawing-on hour—pretending, for decency’s sake, to whine over his excruciating pangs—to be in the way to answer a thousand impertinent inquiries after the health of a man thou wished to die—to pray by him—for so once thou wrotest to me!—to read by him—to be forced to join in consultations with a parcel of solemn would-seem-wise doctors, and their officious zanies the apothecaries, joined with the butcherly tribe of scarificators; all combined to carry on the physical farce, and to cut out thongs both from his flesh and his estate—to have the superadded apprehension of dividing thy interest in what he shall leave with a crew of eager-hoping, never-to-be-satisfied relations, legatees, and the devil knows who, of private gratificators of passions laudable and illaudable—in these circumstances, I wonder not that thou lookest to servants (as little grieved at heart as thyself, and who are gaping after legacies as thou after heirship ) as if thou indeed wert grieved; and as if the most wry-facing woe had befallen thee.

Then, as I have often thought, the reflection that must naturally arise from such mortifying objects as, the death of one with whom we have been familiar must afford, when we are obliged to attend it in its slow approaches, and in its face-twisting pangs, that it will one day be our own case, goes a great way to credit the appearance of grief.

And this it is that, seriously reflected upon, may temporarily give a fine air of sincerity to the wailings of lively widows, heart-exulting heirs, and residuary legatees of all denominations; since, by keeping down the inward joy, those interesting reflections must sadden the aspect, and add an appearance of real concern to the assumed sables.

Well, but now thou art come to the reward of all thy watchings, anxieties, and close attendances, tell me what it is; tell me if it compensate thy trouble, and answer thy hope?

As to myself, thou seest by the gravity of my style how the subject has helped to mortify me. But the necessity I am under of committing either speedy

matrimony, or a rape, has saddened over my gayer prospects, and, more than the case itself, contributed to make me sympathize with thy present joyful sorrow.

Adieu, Jack. I must be soon out of my pain; and my Clarissa shall be soon out of hers—for so does the arduousness of the case require.

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