LETTER 526: MR BELFORD TO LORD M.

 

London, Tuesday night, Oct. 3.

 

My Lord,
I obey your Lordship’s commands with great pleasure. Yesterday in the afternoon Mr. Lovelace made me a visit at my lodgings. As I was in expectation of one

 

from Colonel Morden about the same time, I thought proper to carry him to a tavern which neither of us frequented (on pretence of an half-appointment); ordering notice to be sent me thither, if the Colonel came: And Mr. Lovelace sent to Mowbray, and Tourville, and Mr. Doleman of Uxbridge (who came to town to take leave of him) to let them know where to find us.

 

Mr. Lovelace is too well recovered, I was going to say. I never saw him more gay, lively, and handsome. We had a good deal of bluster about some parts of the Trust I have engaged in; and upon freedoms I had treated him with; in which, he would have it, that I had exceeded our agreed on limits: But on the arrival of our three old companions, and a nephew of Mr. Doleman’s (who had a good while been desirous to pass an hour with Mr. Lovelace) it blew off for the present.

 

Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville had also taken some exceptions at the freedoms of my pen; and Mr. Lovelace, after his way, took upon him to reconcile us; and did it at the expence of all three; and with such an infinite run of humour and raillery, that we had nothing to do but laugh at what he said, and at one another. I can deal tolerably with him at my pen; but in conversation he has no equal. In short, it was his day. He was glad, he said, to find himself alive; and his two friends clapping and rubbing their hands twenty times in an hour, declared, that now once more he was all himself; the charmingst fellow in the world; and they would follow him to the furthest part of the globe.

 

I threw a bur upon his coat now-and then; but none would stick.

 

Your Lordship knows, that there are many things which occasion a roar of applause in conversation, when the heart is open, and men are resolvedto be merry, which will neither bear repeating, nor thinking of afterwards. Common things, in the mouth of a man we admire, and whose wit has passed upon us for sterling, become, in a gay hour, uncommon . We watch every turn of such a one’s countenance, and are resolved to laugh when he smiles, even before he utters what we are expecting to flow from his lips.

 

Mr. Doleman and his nephew took leave of us by Twelve. Mowbray and Tourville grew very noisy by One; and were carried off by Two. Wine never moves Mr. Lovelace, notwithstanding a vivacity which generally helps on over-gay spirits. As to myself, the little part I had taken in their gaiety kept me unconcerned.

 

The clock struck Three before I could get him into any serious or attentive way—So natural to him is gaiety of heart; and such strong hold had the liveliness of the evening taken of him. His conversation you know, my Lord, when his heart is free, runs off to the bottom without any dregs.

 

But after that hour, and when we thought of parting, he became a little more serious: And then he told me his designs, and gave me a plan of his intended tour; wishing heartily, that I could have accompanied him.

 

We parted about Four; he not a little dissatisfied with me; for we had some talk about subjects which, he said, he loved not to think of; to wit, Miss Harlowe’s Will; my Executorship; papers I had in confidence communicated to that admirable lady [with no unfriendly design, I assure your Lordship]; and he insisting upon, and I refusing, the return of the letters he had written to me from the time that he had made his first addresses to her.

 

He would see me once again, he said; and it would be upon very ill terms if I complied not with his request. Which I bid him not expect. But, that I might not deny him every-thing, I told him, that I would give him a copy of the Will; tho’ I was sure, I said, when he read it, he would wish he had never seen it.

 

I had a message from him about Eleven this morning, desiring me to name a place at which to dine with Him, and Mowbray, and Tourville, for the last time: And soon after another from Colonel Morden, inviting me to pass the evening with him at the Bedford-Head in Covent-Garden. And, that I might keep them at distance from one another, I appointed Mr. Lovelace at the Eagle in Suffolk-Street.

 

There I met him, and the two others. We began where we left off at our last parting; and were very high with each other. But, at last, all was made up, and he

 

offered to forget and forgive every-thing, on condition that I would correspond with him while abroad, and continue the series which had been broken thro’ by his illness; and particularly give him, as I had offered, a copy of the Lady’s Will.

 

I promised him: And he then fell to raillying me on my gravity, and on my Reformation-schemes, as he called them. As we walked about the room, expecting dinner to be brought in, he laid his hand upon my shoulder, then pushed me from him with a curse; walking round me, and surveying me from head to foot; then calling for the observation of the others, he turned round upon his heel, and, with one of his peculiar wild airs, Ha, ha, ha, ha, burst he out, that these sour-faced proselytes should take it into their heads that they cannot be pious, without forfeiting both their good-nature and good manners! —Why Jack, turning me about, pr’ythee look up, man! —Dost thou not know, that Religion, if it has taken proper hold of the heart, is the most chearful countenance-maker in the world? —I have heard my beloved Miss Harlowe say so: And she knew, or no-body did. And was not her aspect a benign proof of the observation? But by these wamblings in thy cursed gizzard, and thy aukward grimaces, I see thou’rt but a novice in it yet! —Ah, Belford, Belford thou hast a confounded parcel of briars and thorns to trample over barefoot, before Religion will illumine these gloomy features!

 

I give your Lordship this account, in answer to your desire to know, if I think him the man he was?

 

In our conversation at dinner, he was balancing whether he should set out the next morning, or the morning after. But finding he had nothing to do, and Colonel Morden being in town (which, however, I told him not of) I turned the scale; and he agreed upon setting out to-morrow morning; they to see him imbark; and I promised to accompany them for a morning’s ride (as they proposed their horses); but said, that I must return in the afternoon.

 

With much reluctance they let me go to my evening’s appointment: They little thought with whom: For Mr. Lovelace had put it as a case of honour to all of us, whether,

 

as he had been told that Mr. Morden and Mr. James Harlowe had thrown out menaces against him, he ought to leave the kingdom till he had thrown himself in their way.

 

Mowbray gave his opinion, that he ought to leave it like a man of honour, as he was; and if he did not take those gentlemen to task for their opprobrious speeches, that at least he should be seen by them in public before he went away; else they might give themselves airs, as if he had left the kingdom in fear of them.

 

To this he himself so much inclined, that it was with difficulty I persuaded him, that, as they had neither of them proceeded to a direct and formal challenge; as they knew he had not made himself difficult of access; and as he had already done the family injury enough; and it was Miss Harlowe’s earnest desire, that be would be content with that; he had no reason, from any point of honour, to delay his journey; especially as he had so just a motive for his going, as the establishing of his health; and as he might return the sooner, if he saw occasion for it.

 

I found the Colonel in a very solemn way. We had a good deal of discourse upon the subject of letters which had passed between us in relation to Miss Harlowe’s Will, and to her family.

 

He has some accounts to settle with his banker; which, he says, will be adjusted to-morrow; and on Thursday he proposes to go down again, to take leave of his friends; and then intends to set out directly for Italy.

 

I wish Mr. Lovelace could have been prevailed upon to take any other tour, than that of France and Italy. I did propose Madrid to him: But he laugh’d at me, and told me, that the proposal was in character from a Mule; and from one who was become as grave as a Spaniard of the old cut, at ninety.

 

I expressed to the Colonel my apprehensions, that his cousin’s dying injunctions would not have the force upon him, that were to be wished.

 

They have great force upon me, Mr. Belford, said he; or one world would not have held Mr. Lovelace and me thus long. But my intention is to go to Florence; not to lay my bones there, as upon my cousin’s death I told you I thought to do; but to settle all my affairs in those

 

parts, and then to come over, and reside upon a little paternal estate in Kent, which is strangely gone to ruin in my absence. Indeed, were I to meet Mr. Lovelace, either here or abroad, I might not be answerable for the consequence.

 

He would have engaged me for to-morrow. But having promised to attend Mr. Lovelace on his journey, as I have mentioned, I said, I was obliged to go out of town, and was uncertain as to the time of my return in the evening. And so I am to see him on Thursday morning at my own lodgings.

 

I will do myself the honour to write again to your Lordship to-morrow night. Mean time, I am, my Lord,

Your Lordship’s, &c

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