LETTER 425: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ

Aug. 24. Thursday morn.

C, by thy fellow’s dispatch, that it gives me an opportunity of throwing in a few paragraphs upon it. I read a passage or two of it to Mowbray; and we both agree, that thou art an absolute master of the Lamentable.

 

Poor Belton! what terrible conflicts were thy last conflicts! —I hope, however, that he is happy: And I have the more hope, because the hardness of his death is likely to be such a warning to thee . If it have the effect thou declarest it shall have, what a world of mischief will it prevent! How much good will it do! How many poor wretches will rejoice at the occasion, (if they know it) however melancholy in itself, which shall bring them in a compensation for injuries they had been forced to sit down contented with? But, Jack, tho’ thy uncle’s death has made thee a rich fellow, art thou sure, that the making good of such a vow, will not totally bankrupt thee?

 

Thou sayest I may laugh at thee, if I will. Not I, Jack: I do not take it to be a laughing subject: And I am heartily concerned at the loss we all have in poor Belton: And when I get a little settled, and have leisure to contemplate the vanity of all sublunary things, (a subject

 

that will now-and-then, in my gayest hours, obtrude itself upon me) it is very likely, that I may talk seriously with thee upon these topics; and, if thou hast not got too much the start of me in the repentance thou art entering upon, will go hand-in-hand with thee in it. If thou hast, thou wilt let me just keep thee in my eye; for it is an up-hill work, and I shall see thee, at setting out, at a great distance; but as thou art a much heavier and clumsier fellow than myself, I hope that without much puffing and sweating, only keeping on a good round dogtrot, I shall be able to overtake thee.

 

Mean time take back thy letter, as thou desirest; I would not have it in my pocket upon any account at present; nor read it once more.

 

I am going down without seeing my Beloved. I was a hasty fool to write her a letter, promising that I would not come near her, till I saw her at her father’s. For as she is now actually at Smith’s, and I so near her, one short visit could have done no harm.

 

I sent Will. two hours ago with my grateful compliments, and to know how she does. How must I adore this charming creature! For I am ready to think my servant a happier fellow than myself, for having been within a pair of stairs and an apartment of her!

 

Mowbray and I will drop a tear apiece, as we ride along, to the memory of poor Belton: — As we ride along, I say: For we shall have so much joy, when we arrive at Lord M’s, and when I communicate to him and my cousins the dear creature’s letter, that we shall forget every thing grievous: Since now their family-hopes in my reformation (the point which lies so near their hearts) will all revive; it being an article of their faith, that if I marry, repentance and mortification will follow of course.

 

Neither Mowbray nor I shall accept of thy verbal invitation to the funeral. We like not these dismal formalities. And as to the respect-that is supposed to be shewn to the memory of a deceased friend in such an attendance, why should we do any thing to reflect upon those who have made it a fashion to leave this parade to people whom they hire for that purpose ?

 

Adieu, and be chearful. Thou canst now do no more for poor Belton, wert thou to howl for him to the end of thy life.

 

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