London, October 26.
I cannot think, my dear Lovelace, that Colonel Morden has either threatened you in those gross terms mentioned by the vile, hypocritical, and ignorant Joseph Leman, or intends to follow you. They are the words of people of that fellow’s class; and not of a gentleman: Not of Colonel Morden, I am sure. You’ll observe, that Joseph pretends not to say that he heard him speak them
I have been very solicitous to sound the Colonel, for your sake, and for his own, and for the sake of the injunctions of the excellent lady to me, as well as to him, on that subject. He is (and you will not wonder that he should be) extremely affected; and owns, that he has expressed himself in terms of resentment on the occasion. Once he said to me, That had his beloved cousin’s case been that of a common seduction; and had she been drawn in by what Bishop Burnet calls The Delicacy of Intrigue (her own infirmity or credulity contributing to her fall) he could have forgiven you. But, in so many words, He assured me, that he had not taken any resolutions; nor had he declared himself to the family in such a way as should bind him to resent: On the contrary, he has owned, that his cousin’s injunctions have hitherto had the force upon him which I could wish they should have.
He went abroad in a week after you. When he took his leave of me, he told me, That his design was to go to Florence; and that he would settle his affairs there; and then return to England, and here pass the remainder of his days.
I was indeed apprehensive that if you and he were to meet, something unhappy might fall out: And as I knew that you proposed to take Italy, and very likely Florence, in your return to France, I was very solicitous to prevail upon you to take the court of Spain into your plan. I am still so. And if you are not to be prevailed upon to do that, let me intreat you to avoid Florence or Leghorn in your return, as you have visited both heretofore. At least, let not the proposal of a meeting come from you.
It would be matter of serious reflection to me, if the very fellow, this Joseph Leman, who gave you such an opportunity to turn all the artillery of his masters against themselves, and to play them upon one another to favour your plotting purposes, should be the instrument in the devil’s hand (unwittingly too) to avenge them all upon you : For should you even get the better of the Colonel, would the mischief end there? —It would but add remorse to your present remorse; since the interview must end in death; for he would not, I am confident, take his life at your hand. The Harlowes would, moreover, prosecute you in a legal way. You hate them ; and they would be gainers by his death: Rejoicers in yours—And have you not done mischief enough already?
Let me therefore (and thro’ me all your friends) have the satisfaction to hear, that you are resolved to avoid this gentleman. Time will subdue all things. No-body doubts your bravery. Nor will it be known, that your plan is changed thro’ persuasion.
Young Harlowe talks of calling you to account. This is a plain evidence, that Mr. Morden has not taken the quarrel upon himself for their family.
I am in no apprehension of any-body but Colonel Morden. I know it will not be a means to prevail upon you to oblige me, to say, that I am well assured, that this gentleman is a skilful swordsman; and that he is as cool and sedate as skilful. But yet I will add, that if I had a value for my life, he should be the last man, except yourself, with whom I would choose to have a contention.
I have, as you required, been very candid and sincere with you. I have not aimed at palliation. If you seek not Colonel Morden, it is my opinion he will not seek you: For he is a man of principle. But if you seek him, I believe he will not shun you.
Let me re-urge (It is the effect of my love for you!) that you know your own guilt in this affair, and should not be again an aggressor. It would be pity, that so brave a man as the Colonel should drop, were you and he to meet: And, on the other hand, it would be dreadful, that you should be sent to your account unprepared for it; and persuing a fresh violence. Moreover, seest thou not, in the deaths of two of thy principal agents, the handwriting upon the wall against thee?
My zeal on this occasion may make me guilty of repetition. Indeed I know not how to quit the subject. But if what I have written, added to your own remorse and consciousness, cannot prevail, all that I might further urge will be ineffectual.
Adieu therefore! Mayst thou repent of the past: And may no new violences add to thy heavy reflections, and overwhelm thy future hopes, is the wish of
Thy true Friend,
John Belford .