Letter 530: MR. LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD

 

Paris, Octob. 14-25.


—-Timor & minæ
Scandunt eodem quo dominus: neque
Decedit ærata triremi, &
Post equitem sedet atra cura.

 

In a language so expressive as the English, I hate the pedantry of tagging or prefacing what I write with Latin scraps; and ever was a censurer of the mottomongers among our weekly and daily scribblers. But these verses of Horace are so applicable to my case, that, whether on shipboard, whether in my post-chaise, or in my inn at night, I am not able to put them out of my head. Dryden once I thought said well in these bouncing lines:

Man makes his Fate according to his mind.
The weak, low spirit Fortune makes her slave:
But she’s a drudge, when hector’d by the brave.
If Fate weave common thread, I’ll change the doom,
And with new purple weave a nobler loom.

 

And in these:

Let Fortune empty her whole quiver on me,
I have a soul, that, like an ample shield,
Can take in all, and verge enough for more.
Fate was not mine: Nor am I Fate’s—
Souls know no conquerors—

 

But in the first quoted lines, considering them closely, there is nothing but blustering absurdity: In the other, the poet says not truth; for Conscience is the Conqueror of Souls: At least it is the Conqueror of mine: And who ever thought it a narrow one?

 

But this is occasioned partly by poring over the affecting Will, and posthumous Letter. What an army of texts has she drawn up in array against me in the latter! —But yet, Jack, do they not shew me, that, two or three thousand years ago, there were as wicked fellows as myself? — They do—And that’s some consolation.

 

But the generosity of her mind display’d in both, is what stings me most. And the more still, as it is now out of my power any way in the world to be even with her.

 

I ought to have written to you sooner. But I loiter’d two days at Calais, for an answer to a letter I wrote to engage my former travelling valet, De la Tour; an ingenious, ready fellow, as you have heard me say. I have engaged him, and he is now with me.

 

I shall make no stay here; but intend for some of the Electoral courts. That of Bavaria, I think, will engage me longest. Perhaps I may step out of my way (if I can be out of my way any-where) to those of Dresden and Berlin: And it is not impossible that you may have one letter from me at Vienna. And then perhaps I may fall down into Italy by the Tirol; and so, taking Turin in my way, return to Paris; where I hope to see Mowbray and Tourville: Nor do I despair of you.

 

This a good deal differs from the plan I gave you. But you may expect to hear from me as I move; and whether I shall pursue this route, or the other.

 

I have my former lodgings in the Rue St. Antoine: Which I shall hold, notwithstanding my tour: So they will be ready to accommodate any two of you, if you come hither before my return: And for this I have conditioned.

 

I write to Charlotte; and that is writing to all my relations at once.

 

Do thou, Jack, inform me duly of every-thing that passes: —Particularly, How thou proceedest in thy Reformation-scheme: How Mowbray and Tourville go on in my absence: Whether thou hast any chance for a wife [I am the more solicitous on this head, because thou seemest to think, that thy Mortification will not be complete, nor thy Reformation secure, till thou art shackled]: How the Harlowes proceed in their penitentials: If Miss Howe be married, or near being so: How honest Doleman goes on with his Empiric, now he has dismissed his Regulars, or they him; and if any likelihood of his perfect recovery. Be sure be very minute: For every trifling occurrence relating to those we value, becomes interesting, when we are at a distance from them. Finally, prepare thou to piece thy broken thread, if thou wouldst oblige

 

Thy Lovelace .

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