CONCLUSION: JOHN BELFORD

What remains to be mentioned for the satisfaction of such of the readers as may be presumed to have interested themselves in the fortunes of those other principals in the story, who survived Mr. Lovelace, will be found summarily related as follows:

 

The news of Mr. Lovelace’s unhappy End was received with as much grief by his own relations, as it was with exultation by the Harlowe-family, and by Miss Howe. His own family were most to be pitied, because, being sincere admirers of the inimitable Lady, they were greatly grieved for the injustice done her; and now had the additional mortification of losing the only male of it, by a violent death.

 

That his fate was deserved, was still a heightening of their calamity, as they had, for that very reason, and his unpreparedness for it, but too much grounds for apprehension with regard to his future happiness. While the other family, from their unforgiving spirit, and even the noble young Lady above-mentioned, from her lively resentments, found his death some little, some temporary, alleviation of the heavy loss they had sustained, principally thro’ his means.

 

Temporary alleviation, we repeat, as to the Harlowe family; for THEY were far from being happy or easy in their reflections upon their own conduct.

 

Mrs. Harlowe lived about two years and an half after the much-lamented death of her excellent daughter.

 

Mr. Harlowe survived his Lady about half a year.

 

Both, in their last hours, comforted themselves, that they should be restored to their BLESSED daughter, as they always (from the time that they were acquainted with her happy exit ) called her.

 

They both lived, however, to see their son James, and their daughter Arabella, married: But not to take joy in either of their nuptials.

 

Mr. James Harlowe married a woman of family, an orphan, and is obliged, at a very great expence, to support her claim to estates, which were his principal inducement to make his addresses to her; but which, to this day, he has not recovered; nor is likely to recover; having very powerful adversaries to contend with, and a Title to assert, which admits of litigation; and he not blessed with so much patience as is necessary to persons embarrassed in Law.

 

What is further observable with regard to him, is, that the match was intirely of his own head, against the advice of his father, mother, and uncles, who warned him of marrying in this lady a Law-suit for life. His ungenerous behaviour to his wife, for what she cannot help, and for what is as much her misfortune as his, has occasioned such estrangements between them (she being a woman of spirit) as, were the Law-suits determined, and even more favourably than probably they will be, must make him unhappy to the End of his Life. He attributes all his misfortunes, when he opens himself to the few friends he has, to his vile and cruel treatment of his angelic sister. He confesses these misfortunes to be just, without having temper to acquiesce in the acknowledged justice. One month in every year he puts on mourning, and that month commences with him on the 7th of September, during which he shuts himself up from all company. Finally, he is looked upon, and often calls himself, The most miserable of Beings .

 

Arabella’s Fortune became a temptation to a man of Quality to make his addresses to her: His Title an inducement with her to approve of him. Brothers and Sisters, when they are not Friends, are generally the sharpest Enemies to each other. He thought too much was done for her in the settlements. She thought not enough. And for some years past, they have so heartily hated each other, that if either know a joy, it is in being told of some new misfortune or displeasure that happens to the other. Indeed, before they came to an open rupture, they were continually loading each other, by way of exonerating themselves ( to the additional disquiet of the whole family ) with the principal guilt of their implacable behaviour and sordid cruelty to their admirable Sister. —May the reports that are spread of this Lady’s further unhappiness from her Lord’s free life; a fault she justly thought so odious in Mr. Lovelace (though that would not have been an insuperable objection with her to his addresses); and of his public slights and contempt of her, and even sometimes of his personal abuses, which are said to be owing to her impatient spirit, and violent passions; be utterly groundless. —For, what a heart must that be, which would wish she might be as great a torment to herself, as she had aimed to be to her Sister? Especially as she regrets to this hour, and declares, that she shall to the last of her life, her cruel treatment of that Sister; and (as well as her Brother) is but too ready to attribute to that her own unhappiness.

 

Mr. Antony and Mr. John Harlowe are still [at the writing of this] living: But often declare, That, with their beloved niece, they lost all the joy of their lives: And lament, without reserve, in all companies, the unnatural part they were induced to take against her.

 

Mr. Solmes is also still living, if a man of his cast may be said to live; for his general behaviour and sordid manners are such as justify the aversion the excellent Lady had to him. He has moreover found his addresses rejected by several women of far inferior fortunes (great as his own are) to those of the Lady to whom he was encouraged to aspire.

 

Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville having lost the man in whose conversation they so much delighted; shock’d and awakened by the several unhappy catastrophes before their eyes; and having always rather ductile than dictating hearts; took their friend Belford’s advice: Converted the remainder of their fortunes into Annuities for Life; and retired, the one into Yorkshire, the other into Nottinghamshire, of which counties they are natives: Their friend Belford managing their concerns for them, and corresponding with them, and having more and more hopes every time he sees them (which is once or twice a year, when they come to town) that they will become more and more worthy of their names and families.

 

It cannot be amiss to mention what became of the two sisters in iniquity, Sally Martin, and Polly Horton ; names so frequently occurring in the foregoing collection.

 

After the death of the profligate Sinclair, they kept on the infamous trade with too-much success; till an accident happened in the house—A gentleman of family killed in it in a fray, contending with another for a new-vamp’d face. Sally was accused of holding the gentleman’s arm, while his more favoured adversary run him through the heart, and then-made off. And she being try’d for her life, narrowly escaped.

 

This accident obliged them to break up house-keeping, and not having been frugal enough of their ill-gotten gains (lavishing upon one, what they got by another) they were compelled, for subsistence-sake, to enter themselves as under-managers at such another house as their own had been. In which service, soon after, Sally died of a fever and surfeit got by a debauch: And the other, about a month after, by a violent cold, occasioned thro’ carelessness in a Salivation. Two creatures who wanted not sense, and had had (what is deemed to be) a good Modern Education; their parents having lived reputably; and once having much better hopes of them: But who were in a great measure answerable for their miscarriages, by indulging them in the fashionable follies and luxury of an age given up to those amusements and pleasures which are so apt to set people of but Middle Fortunes above all the useful employments of life; and to make young women an easy prey to Rakes and Libertines.

 

Happier Scenes open for the remaining characters; for it might be descending too low to mention the untimely Ends of Dorcas, and of William, Mr. Lovelace’s wicked servant; and the pining and consumptive ones of Betty Barnes and Joseph Leman, unmarried both, and in less than a year after the happy death of their excellent young Lady.

 

The good Mrs. Norton passed the small remainder of her life, as happily as she wished, in her beloved foster-daughter’s dairy-house, as it used to be called: As she wished, we repeat;—for she had too strong aspirations after Another life, to be greatly attached to This.

 

She laid out the greatest part of her time in doing good by her advice, and by the prudent management of the Fund committed to her direction. Having lived an Exemplary Life from her Youth upwards; and seen her Son happily settled in the world; she departed with ease and calmness, without pang or agony, like a tired traveller, falling into a sweet slumber: Her last words expressing her hope of being restored to the Child of her Bosom; and to her own excellent Father and Mother, to whose care and pains she owed that good Education to which she was indebted for all her other blessings.

 

The Poor’s Fund, which was committed to her care, she resigned, a week before her death, into the hands of Mrs. Hickman, according to the direction of the Will, and all the accounts and disbursements with it; which she had kept with such an exactness, that that Lady declares, that she will follow her method, and only wishes to do as well.

 

Miss Howe was not to be persuaded to quit her mourning for her dear friend, until six months were fully expired: And then she made Mr. Hickman one of the happiest men in the world. A woman of her fine sense and understanding, married to a man of virtue and good-nature (who had no past capital errors to reflect upon, and to abate his joys, and whose behaviour to Mrs. Hickman is as affectionate, as it was respectful to Miss Howe ) could not do otherwise. They are already blessed with two fine children; a Daughter, to whom, by joint consent, they have given the name of her beloved friend; and a Son, who bears that of his father.

 

She has allotted to Mr. Hickman, who takes delight in doing good (and that as much for its own sake, as to oblige her) his part of the management of the Poor’s Fund; to be accountable for it, as she pleasantly says, to her . She has a appropriated every Thursday morning for her part of that management; and takes so much delight in the task, that she declares, it is one of the most agreeable of her amusements. And the more agreeable, as she teaches every one whom she benefits, to bless the Memory of her departed Friend ; to whom she attributes the merit of all her own charities, as well as that of those which she dispenses in pursuance of her Will.

 

She has declared, That this Fund shall never fail while she lives. She has even engaged her Mother to contribute annually to it. And Mr. Hickman has appropriated twenty pounds a year to the same. In consideration of which she allows him to recommend four objects yearly to partake of it. Allows, is her style; for she assumes the whole prerogative of dispensing this charity; the only prerogative she does or has occasion to assume. In every other case, there is but one will between them; and that is generally his or hers, as either speak first, upon any subject, be it what it will. Mrs. Hickman, she sometimes as pleasantly as generously tells him, must not quite forget that she was once Miss Howe, because if he had not loved her as such, and with all her foibles, she had never been Mrs. Hickman . Nevertheless she seriously, on all occasions, and that to others, as well as to himself, confesses, that she owes him unreturnable obligations for his patience with her in HER Day, and for his generous Behaviour to her in HIS.

 

And still the more highly does she esteem and love him, as she reflects upon his past kindness to her beloved friend; and on that dear friend’s good opinion of him. Nor is it less grateful to her, that the worthy man joins most sincerely with her in all those respectful and affectionate recollections, which make the memory of the Departed precious to Survivors.

Mr. Belford was not so destitute of humanity and affection, as to be unconcerned at the unhappy fate of his most intimate friend. But when he reflects upon the untimely Ends of several of his companions, but just mentioned in the preceding history ( a ) —On the shocking despondency and death of his poor friend Belton —On the signal justice which overtook the wicked Tomlinson —  On the dreadful exit of the infamous Sinclair —On the deep remorses of his more valued friend—And, on the other hand, on the Example, set him by the most excellent of her Sex—and on her blessed preparation, and happy departure—And when he considers, as he often does with awe and terror, that his wicked habits were so rooted in his depraved heart, that all these Warnings, and this lovely Example, seemed to be but necessary to enable him to subdue them, and to reform; and that such awakening Calls are hardly ever afforded to men of his cast, or (if they are) but seldom attended with such happy effects in the Prime of Youth, and in the full Vigour of Constitution: —When he reflects upon all these things, he adores the Mercy, which thro’ these Calls has snatched him as a brand out of the fire : And thinks himself obliged to make it his endeavour to find out, and to reform any of those who may have been endangered by his means; as well as to repair, to the utmost of his power, any damage or mischiefs which he may have occasioned to others.

 

With regard to the Trust with which he was honoured by the inimitable Lady, he had the pleasure of acquitting himself of it in a very few months, to every-body’s satisfaction; even to that of the unhappy family; who sent him their thanks on the occasion. Nor was he, at delivering up his accounts, contented with resigning the Legacy bequeathed to him, to the Uses of the Will. So that the Poor’s Fund, as it is called, is become a very considerable sum; and will be a lasting bank for relief of objects who best deserve relief.

 

There was but one Earthly Blessing which remained for Mr. Belford to wish for, in order, morally speaking, to secure to him all his other blessings; and that was, the greatest of all worldly ones, a virtuous and prudent Wife. So free a liver as he had been, he did not think that he could be worthy of such a one, till, upon an impartial examination of himself, he found the pleasure he had in his new resolutions so great, and his abhorrence of his former courses so sincere, that he was the less apprehensive of a deviation.

 

Upon this presumption, having also kept in his mind some encouraging hints from Mr. Lovelace; and having  been so happy as to have it in his power to oblige Lord M. and that whole noble family, by some services grateful to them (the request for which from his unhappy friend was brought over, among other papers, with the dead body, by De la Tour) he besought that Nobleman’s Leave to make his addresses to Miss Charlotte Montague, the eldest of his Lordship’s two nieces: And making at the same time such proposals of Settlements as were not objected to, his Lordship was pleased to use his powerful interest in his favour. And his worthy niece having no engagement, she had the goodness to honour Mr. Belford with her hand; and thereby made him as completely happy as a man can be, who has enormities to reflect upon, which, in a course of years, the deaths of some of the injured parties, and the irreclaimableness of others, have put it out of his power to atone for.

 

Happy is the man who, in time of health and strength, sees and reforms the errors of his ways! —But how much more happy he, who has no capital and wilful errors to repent of! —How unmixed and sincere must the joys of such a one come to him!

 

Lord M. added bountifully in his life-time, as did also the two Ladies his Sisters, to the fortune of their worthy Niece. And as Mr. Belford has been blessed with a Son by her, his Lordship at his death (which happened just three years after the untimely one of his unhappy Nephew) was pleased to devise to that Son, and to his descendants for ever (and in case of his death unmarried, to any other children of his Niece) his Hertfordshire estate ( designed for Mr. Lovelace ) which he made up to the value of a moiety of his real estates; bequeathing also a moiety of his personal to the same Lady.

 

Miss Patty Montague, a fine young Lady (to whom her Noble uncle, at his death, devised the other moiety of his real and personal estates, including his Seat in Berkshire) lives at present with her excellent Sister Mrs. Belford; to whom she removed upon Lord M’s death: But, in all probability, will soon be the Lady of a worthy Baronet, of antient family, fine qualities, and ample fortunes, just returned from his Travels, with a character superior to the very good one he set out with: A case that very seldom happens, altho’ the End of Travel is Improvement .

 

Colonel Morden, who with so many virtues and accomplishments, cannot be unhappy, in several Letters to the Executor, with whom he corresponds from Florence (having, since his unhappy affair with Mr. Lovelace, changed his purpose of coming so soon to reside in England as he had intended) declares, That altho’ he thought himself obliged either to accept of what he took to be a challenge, as such; or tamely to acknowlege, that he gave up all resentment of his cousin’s wrongs; and in a manner to beg pardon for having spoken freely of Mr. Lovelace behind his back; and altho’ at the time he owns he was not sorry to be called upon, as he was, to take either the one course or the other; yet now, coolly reflecting upon his beloved cousin’s reasonings against Duelling; and upon the price it had too probably cost the unhappy man; he wishes he had more fully considered those words in his cousin’s posthumous letter—“If God will allow him Time for Repentance, why should you deny it him?”

 

To conclude—The worthy Widow Lovick continues to live with Mr. Belford; and by her prudent behaviour, piety, and usefulness, has endeared herself to her Lady, and to the Whole Family.

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