Trent, Dec. 3-14.
He was plaguy gloomy. That was not I. But yet he told me, that I had acted like a man of true spirit in my first letter; and with honour, in giving him so readily this meeting. He wished I had in other respects; and then we might have seen each other upon better terms than now we did.
I said, there was no recalling what was pass’d; and that I wished some things had not been done, as well as he.
To recriminate now, he said, would be as exasperating as unavailable. And as I had so chearfully given him this opportunity, words should give place to business. — Your choice, Mr. Lovelace, of Time, of Place, of Weapon, shall be my choice.
I will only say, replied he, that the chances may be more equal by the Sword, because we can neither of us be to seek in that: And you’d stand, says he, a worse chance, as I apprehend, with a Pistol; and yet I have brought two; that you may take your choice of either: For, added he, I never missed a mark at pistol-distance, since I knew how to hold one.
I told him, that he spoke like himself: That I was expert enough that way, to embrace it, if he chose it; tho’ not so sure of my mark as he pretended to be. Yet the devil’s in’t, Colonel, if I, who have a slit a bullet in two upon a knife’s-edge, hit not my man. So I have no objection to a Pistol, if it beyour choice. No man, I’ll venture to say, has a steadier Hand or Eye than I have.
With all my heart.
We parted with a solemn sort of ceremonious civility: And this day I called upon Him; and we rode out together to fix upon the place: And both being of one mind, and hating to put off for the morrow what could be done to-day, would have decided it then: But De la Tour, and the Colonel’s valet, who attended us, being unavoidably let into the secret, joined to beg we would have with us a Surgeon from Brixen, whom La Tour had fallen in with there, and who had told him he was to ride next morning to bleed a person in a fever, at a lone cottage, which, by the Surgeon’s description, was not far from the place where we then were, if it were not that very cottage within sight of us.
They undertook so to manage it, that the Surgeon should know nothing of the matter till his assistance was called in. And La Tour being, as I assured the Colonel, a ready-contriving fellow (whom I ordered to obey him as myself were the chance to be in his favour) we both agreed to defer the decision till to-morrow, and to leave the whole about the Surgeon to the management of our two valets; injoining them absolute secrecy: And so rode back again by different ways.
We fixed upon a little lone valley for the Spot—Ten to-morrow morning the Time—And Single Rapier the Word. Yet I repeatedly told him, that I value myself so much upon my skill in that weapon, that I would wish him to choose any other.
He said, It was a gentleman’s weapon; and he who understood it not, wanted a qualification that he ought to suffer for not having: But that, as to him, one weapon was as good as another throughout all the instruments of offence.
We are to ride thither, and to dismount when at the place; and his footman and mine are to wait at an appointed distance, with a chaise to carry off to the borders of the Venetian territories the survivor, if one drop; or to assist either or both, as occasion may demand.
A shower of rain has left me nothing else to do: And therefore I write this letter; tho’ I might as well have deferred it till to-morrow twelve o’clock, when I doubt not to be able to write again, to assure you how much I am