LETTER 532: MR LOVELACE TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ.

Paris, Oct. 16-27.

I follow my last of the, on the occasion of a letter just now come to hand from Joseph Leman. The fellow is Conscience-ridden, Jack; and tells me, ‘That he cannot rest either day or night for the mischiefs which he fears he has been, and may still further be the means of doing.’ He wishes, ‘if it please God, and if it please me, that he had never seen my Honour’s face.’

 

And what is the cause of his present concern, as to his own peculiar; what, but ‘the slights and contempts which he receives from every one of the Harlowes; from those particularly, he says, whom he has endeavoured to serve as faithfully as his engagements to me would let him serve them? And I always made him believe, he tells me ( poor weak soul as he was from his cradle !) that serving me was serving both, in the long-run . But this, and the death of his dear young lady, is a grief, he declares, that he shall never claw off, were he to live to the age of Matthew-Salem: Althoff, andhowsoever, he is sure; that he shall not live a month to an end, being strangely pined, and his stomach nothing like what it was: And Mrs. Betty being also (now she has got his love ) very cross and slighting : But, thank his God for punishing her! she is in a poor way hersell .

 

‘But the chief occasion of troubling my Honour now, is not his own griefs only, altho they are very great; but to prevent future mischiefs to me: For he can assure me, that Colonel Morden has set out from them all, with a full resolution to have his will of me : And he is well assured, that he said, and swore to it, as how he was resolved that he would either have my Honour’s heart’s blood, or I should have his; or some such-like sad threatenings : And that all the family rejoice in it, and hope I shall come short home .’

 

This is the substance of Joseph’s letter; and I have one from Mowbray, which has a hint to the same effect. And I recollect now, that thou wert very importunate with me to go to Madrid, rather than to France and Italy, the last evening we passed together.

 

What I desire of thee, is, by the first dispatch, to let me faithfully know all that thou knowest on this head.

 

I can’t bear to be threatened, Jack. Nor shall any man, unquestioned, give himself airs in my absence, if I know it, that shall make me look mean in any-body’s eyes: That shall give my friends pain for me: That shall put them upon wishing me to change my intentions, or my plan, to avoid him. Upon such despicable terms as these, thinkest thou that I could bear to live?

 

But why, if such were his purpose, did he not let me know it, before I left England? Was he unable to work himself up to a resolution, till he knew me to be out of the kingdom?

 

As soon as I can inform myself where to direct to him, I will write to know his purpose; for I cannot bear suspense, in such a case as this: That solemn act, were it even to be Marriage or Hanging, which must be done tomorrow, I had rather should be done to-day. My mind tires and sickens with impatience on ruminating upon scenes that can afford neither variety nor certainty. To dwell twenty days in expectation of an event that may be decided in a quarter of an hour, is grievous.

 

If he come to Paris, altho’ I should be on my tour, he will very easily find out my lodgings : For I every day see some or other of my countrymen, and divers of them have I entertained here . I go frequently to the Opera, and to the Play, and appear at Court, and at all public places. And, on my quitting this city, will leave a direction whither my letters from England, or elsewhere, shall from time to time be forwarded. Were I sure, that his intention is what Joseph Leman tells me it is, I would stay here, or shorten his course to me, let him be where he would.

 

I cannot get off my regrets on account of this dear Lady for the blood of me. If the Colonel and I are to meet, as he has done me no injury, and loves the memory of his cousin, we shall engage with the same sentiments, as to the object of our dispute: And that, you know, is no very common case.

 

In short, I am as much convinced that I have done wrong, as he can be; and regret it as much. But I will not bear to be threatened by any man in the world, however conscious of having deserved blame.

Adieu, Belford! Be sincere with me. No palliation, as thou valuest

Thy Lovelace .

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