I will not bear thy heavy preachments, Belford, upon this affecting letter. So, not a word of that sort! The paper, thou’lt see, is blistered with the tears even of the hardened transcriber; which has made her ink run here and there.
Mrs. Sinclair is a true heroine, and, I think, shames us all. And she is a woman too! Thou’lt say, the beset things corrupted become the worst. But this is certain, that whatever the sex set their hearts upon, they make thorough work of it. And hence it is, that a mischief which would end in simple robbery among men rogues, becomes murder, if a woman be in it.
I know thou wilt blame me for having had recourse to art. But do not physicians prescribe opiates in acute cases, where the violence of the disorder would be apt to throw the patient into a fever or delirium? I aver, that my motive for this expedient was mercy; nor could it be any thing else. For a rape, thou knowest, to us rakes, is far from being an undesirable thing. Nothing but the law stands in our way, upon that account; and the opinion of what a modest woman will suffer rather than become a viva voce accuser, lessens much an honest fellow’s apprehensions on that score. Then, if these somnivolencies [I hate the word opiates on this occasion,] have turned her head, that is an effect they frequently have upon some constitutions; and in this case was rather the fault of the dose than the design of the giver.
But is not wine itself an opiate in degree?—How many women have been taken advantage of by wine, and other still more intoxicating viands?— Let me tell thee, Jack, that the experience of many of the passive sex, and the consciences of many more of the active, appealed to, will testify that thy Lovelace is not the worst of villains. Nor would I have thee put me upon clearing myself by comparisons.
If she escape a settled delirium when my plots unravel, I think it is all I ought to be concerned about. What therefore I desire of thee, is, that, if two constructions may be made of my actions, thou wilt afford me the most favourable. For this, not only friendship, but my own ingenuousness, which has furnished thee with the knowledge of the facts against which thou art so ready to inveigh, require of thee.