While everyone's all will-he-or-won't-he over Lovelace and his reformed rake status, Belford is over here showing what a good guy really looks like. (Need to brush up on rakes? Check out our Lovelace "Character Analysis.") Sure, Belford associates with some questionable folks. And yeah, he's probably got his own past with the ladies. But when it comes down to it, Belford knows right from wrong.
Plus, he's willing to step in for Clarissa when she's got no one else. What is Lovelace doing? Gallivanting around promising to marry Clarissa someday? What we really need is a guy who's not afraid to call Lovelace a "savage-hearted monster!" (258.1). Clarissa could really stand to take some vocabulary lessons from him, is all we're saying.
Belford is the ideal reformed rake because he does what's right because it's right, not because he needs additional motivation (like a hot girl). Even when Lovelace promises to marry Clarissa, he's got his own interests at stake. While Lovelace is waffling between marriage and bachelorhood, Belford is getting Clarissa out of prison. Pardon us if we're a little heated, but it's a pity he didn't find Clarissa first.
Belford doesn't just do right by Clarissa. He tirelessly writes back to Lovelace to guide him back on the straight and narrow, even when it's obvious the dude is a lost cause. "Not one word will I reply to such an abandoned wretch as thou hast shown thyself to be in thine of last night" (192.1), Belford says….and yet he keeps writing those letters.
He never totally gives up on Lovelace, either. He's like Anna Howe in that way, except Anna doesn't have to deal with a total criminal. Even after Clarissa's death, Belford keeps a close eye on his pal. Maybe that's why Clarissa trusts him to be her executor.