LETTER 470: MR BELFORD TO ROBERT LOVELACE

Wedn. morn. Sept. 6. 

And is she somewhat better? —Blessings upon thee without number or measure! Let her still be better and better! Tell me so at least, if it be notso: For thou knowest not what a joy that poor temporary reprieve, that she will hold out yet a day or two, gave me.

 

But who told this hard-hearted and death-pronouncing Doctor, that she will hold it no longer? By what warrant says he this? What presumption in these parading solemn fellows of a college, which will be my contempt to the latest hour of my life, if this brother of it (eminent as he is deemed to be) cannot work an ordinary miracle in her favour, or rather in mine .

 

Let me tell thee, Belford, that already he deserves the utmost contempt, for suffering this charming clock to run down so low. What must be his art, if it could not wind it up in a quarter of the time he has attended her, when, at his first visits, the springs and wheels of life and motion were so good, that they seemed only to want common care and oiling!

 

I am obliged to you for endeavouring to engage her to see me. ‘Twas like a friend. If she had vouchsafed me that favour, she should have seen at her feet the most abject adorer that ever kneeled to justly offended beauty.

 

What she bid you, and what she forbid you, to tell me (the latter for tender considerations); That she forgives me; and that, could she have made me a good man, she could have made me a happy one! That she even loved me! At such a moment to own that she once loved me! Never before loved any man! That she prays for me! That her last tear should be shed for me, could she by it save a soul, without her, doomed to perdition! —O Belford, Belford! I cannot bear it! —What a dog, what a devil, have I been to so superlative a goodness! —Why does she not inveigh against me? —Why does she not execrate me? —O the triumphant subduer! Ever above me! —And now to leave me so infinitely below her!

 

Marry and repair, at any time. This (wretch that I was!) was my plea to myself. To give her a lowering sensibility; to bring her down from among the stars which her beamy head was surrounded by, that my wife, so greatly above me, might not too much despise me—This was part of my reptile envy, owing to my more reptile apprehension of inferiority. —Yet, from step to step, from distress to distress, to maintain her superiority; and, like the sun, to break out upon me with the greater refulgence for the clouds that I had contrived to cast about her— And now to escape me thus! —No power left me to repair her wrongs! —No alleviation to my self-reproach! —No dividing of blame with her!—

 

Tell her, O tell her, Belford, that her prayers and wishes, her superlatively generous prayers and wishes, shall not be vain: That I can, and do, repent—and long have repented: —Tell her of my frequent deep remorses— It was impossible that such remorse should not at last produce effectual remorses—Yet she must not leave me—She must live, if she would wish to have my contrition perfect —For what can despair produce?—

 

 

I will do every-thing you would have me do, in the return of your letters. You have infinitely obliged me by this last, and by pressing for an admission for me, tho’ it succeeded not.

Once more, how could I be such a villain to so divine a creature! Yet love her all the time, as never man loved woman! —Curse upon my contriving genius! Curse upon my intriguing head, and upon my seconding heart! —To sport with the fame, with the honour, with the life, of such an angel of a woman! —O my damn’d incredulity! — That, believing her to be a woman, I must hope to find her a woman! —On my incredulity, that there could be such virtue (virtue for virtue’s sake) in the Sex, founded I my hope of succeeding with her.

 

But say not, Jack, that she must leave us yet. —If she recover—And if I can but re-obtain her favour, then indeed will life be life to me. —The world never saw such an husband as I will make. I will have no will but hers: She shall conduct me in all my steps: She shall open and direct my prospects, and turn every motion of my heart, as she pleases.

You tell me in your letter, that at eleven o’clock she had sweet rest; and my servant acquaints me from Mrs. Smith, that she has had a good night. What hopes does this fill me with! I have given the fellow five guineas for his good news, to be divided between him and his fellow-servant.

 

Dear, dear Jack! confirm this to me in thy next—For Heaven’s sake do! —Tell the Doctor I will make him a present of a thousand guineas if he recover her. —Ask if a consultation be necessary.

 

Adieu, dear Belford! —Confirm, I beseech thee, the hopes that now with sovereign gladness have taken possession of a heart, that, next to Hers, is

Thine.

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