LETTER 537: F.J. DE LA TOUR TO JOHN BELFORD, ESQ. NEAR SOHO SQUARE, LONDON

Trent, December 18. N.S. 

Sir,
I have 
melancholy news to inform you of, by order of the Chevalier Lovelace. He shewed me his letter to you before he sealed it; signifying, that he was to meet the Chevalier Morden on the 15th. Wherefore, as the occasion of the meeting is so well known to you, I shall say nothing of it here.

I had taken care to have ready, within a little distance, a Surgeon and his assistant, to whom, under an oath of secrecy, I had revealed the matter (tho’ I did not own it to the two gentlemen); so that they were prepared with bandages, and all things proper. For well was I acquainted with thebravery and skill of my Chevalier; and had heard the character of the other; and knew the animosity of both. A post-chaise was ready, with each oftheir footmen, at a little distance.

The two Chevaliers came exactly at their time: They were attended by Monsieur Margate (the colonel’s gentleman) and myself. They had given orders over-night, and now repeated them in each other’s presence, that we should observe a strict impartiality between them: And that, if one fell, each of us should look upon himself, as to any needful help, or retreat, as the servant of the survivor, and take his commands accordingly.

After a few compliments, both the gentlemen, with the greatest presence of mind that I ever beheld in men, stript to their shirts, and drew.

They parried with equal judgment several passes. My Chevalier drew the first blood, making a desperate-push, which, by a sudden turn of his antagonist, missed going clear thro’ him, and wounded him on the fleshy part of the ribs of his right side; which part the sword tore out, being on the extremity of the body: But, before he could recover himself, his adversary, in return, pushed him into the inside of the left arm, near theshoulder: And the sword, by raking his breast as it passed, being followed by a great effusion of blood, the Colonel said, Sir, I believe you have enough.

My Chevalier swore by G—d, he was not hurt: ‘Twas a pin’s point: And so made another pass at his antagonist; which he, with a surprising dexterity, received under his arm, and run my dear Chevalier into the body: Who immediately fell: saying, The luck is your’s, Sir— O my beloved Clarissa! —Now art thou—Inwardly he spoke three or four words more. His sword dropt from his hand. Mr. Morden threw his down, and ran to him, saying in French—Ah Monsieur, you are a dead man! — Call to God for mercy!

We gave the signal agreed upon to the footmen; and they to the Surgeons; who instantly came up.

Colonel Morden, I found, was too well used to the bloody work; for he was as cool as if nothing so extraordinary had happened, assisting theSurgeons, tho’ his own wound bled much. But my dear Chevalier fainted away two or three times running, and vomited blood besides.

However, they stopped the bleeding for the present; and we helped him into the voiture; and then the Colonel suffered his own wound to be dressed; and appeared concerned that my Chevalier was between whiles (when he could speak, and struggle) extremely outrageous. — Poor gentleman! he had made quite sure of victory!

The Colonel, against the Surgeons advice, would mount on horseback to pass into the Venetian territories; and generously gave me a purse of gold to pay the Surgeons; desiring me to make a present to the footman; and to accept of the remainder, as a mark of his satisfaction in my conduct; and in my care and tenderness of my master.

The Surgeons told him,that my Chevalier could not live over the day.

When the Colonel took leave of him, Mr. Lovelace said in French. You have well revenged the dear creature.

I have, Sir, said Mr. Morden, in the same language: And perhaps shall be sorry that you called upon me to this work, while I was balancing whether to obey, or disobey, the dear angel.

There is a fate in it! replied my Chevalier—A cursed fate! —Or this could not have been! —But be ye all witnesses, that I have provoked my destiny, and acknowlege, that I fall by a Man of Honour.

Sir, said the Colonel, with the piety of a confessor, (wringing Mr. Lovelace’s hand) snatch these few fleeting moments, and commend yourself to God.

And so he rode off.

The voiture proceeded slowly with my Chevalier; yet the motion set both his wounds bleeding afresh; and it was with difficulty they again stopped the blood.

We brought him alive to the first cottage; and he gave orders to me to dispatch to you the pacquet I herewith send sealed up; and bid me write to you the particulars of this most unhappy affair, and to give you thanks, in his name, for all your favours and friendship to him.

Contrary to all expectation, he lived over the night: But suffered much, as well from his impatience and disappointment, as from his wounds; for he seemed very unwilling to die.

He was delirious, at times, in the two last hours; and then several times cried out, Take her away! Take her away! but named no-body. And sometimes praised some Lady (that Clarissa, I suppose, whom he had called upon when he received his death’s wound) calling her, Sweet Excellence! Divine Creature! Fair Sufferer! —And once he said, Look down, blessed Spirit, look down! —And there stopt;—his lips however moving.

At nine in the morning, he was seized with convulsions, and fainted away; and it was a quarter of an hour before he came out of them.

His few last words I must not omit, as they shew an ultimate composure; which may administer some consolation to his honourable friends.

Blessed —said he, addressing himself no doubt to Heaven; for his dying eyes were lifted up—A strong convulsion prevented him for a few moments saying more—But recovering, he again with great fervor (lifting up his eyes, and his spread hands) pronounced the word Blessed : —Then, in aseeming ejaculation, he spoke inwardly so as not to be understood: At last, he distinctly pronounced these three words,

LET THIS EXPIATE!
And then, his head sinking on his pillow, he expired; at about half an hour after ten.

He little thought, poor gentleman! his End so near: So had given no direction about his body. I have caused it to be embowelled, and deposited in avault, till I have orders from England.

This is a favour that was procured with difficulty; and would have been refused, had he not been an Englishman of rank: A nation with reason respected in every Austrian government—For he had refused ghostly attendance, and the Sacraments in the Catholic way. May his Soul be happy, I pray God!

I have had some trouble also on account of the manner of his death, from the Magistracy here: Who have taken the requisite informations in theaffair. And it has cost me some money. Of which, and of my dear Chevalier’s effects, I will give you a faithful account in my next. And so, waiting at this place your commands, I am, Sir,

Your most faithful and obedient Servant,
F. J. De la Tour .

This entry was posted in from F.J. De La Tour, to John Belford and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *