Letter 519: Colonel Morden to John Bedford

Sat. Sept. 23. 

Dear Sir,
I am very sorry, that any-thing you have heard I have said should give you uneasiness.

I am obliged to you for the letters you have communicated to me; and still further for your promise to favour me with others occasionally.

All that relates to my dear cousin I shall be glad to see, be it from whom it will.

I leave to your own discretion, what may or may not be proper for Miss Howe to see from so free a pen as mine.

I admire her spirit. Were she a man, do you think, Sir, she would, at this time, have your advice to take upon such a subject as that you write upon?

Fear not, however, that your communications shall put me upon any measures that otherwise I should not have taken. The wickedness, Sir, is of such a nature, as admits not of aggravation.

Yet I do assure you, that I have not made any resolutions that will be a tie upon me.

I have indeed expressed myself with vehemence upon the occasion. Who could forbear to do so? But it is not my way to resolve in matters of moment, till opportunity brings the execution of my purposes within my reach.

We shall see what manner of spirit this young man will be acted by, on his recovery. If he continue to brave and defy a family, which he has so irreparably injured—If— But resolutions depending upon future contingencies are best left to future determination, as I just now hinted.

Mean time, I will own, that I think my cousin’s arguments unanswerable. No good man but must be concluded by them. —But, alas! Sir, who is good?

As to your arguments; I hope you will believe me, when I assure you, as I now do, that your opinion, and your reasonings, have, and will always have, great and deserved weight with me: And that I respect you still more than I did, if possible, for your expostulations in favour of the end of my cousin’s pious injunctions to me. They come from you, Sir, with the greatest propriety, as her executor and representative; and likewise as you are a man of humanity, and a well-wisher to both parties.

I am not exempt from violent passions, Sir, any more than your friend; but then I hope they are only capable of being raised by other peoples insolence, and not by my own arrogance, If ever I am stimulated by my imperfections and my resentments to act against my judgment, and my cousin’s injunctions; some such reflections as these that follow, will run away with my reason. Indeed they are always present with me.

    In the first place; My own disappointment: Who came over with the hope of passing the remainder of my days in the conversation of a kinswoman so beloved; and to whom I had a double relation, as her cousin and trustee.
          Then I reflect, too—too often perhaps for my engagements to her in her last hours, that the dear creature could only forgive for

herself. 

           She, no doubt, is happy: But who shall forgive for a

whole family, 

        in all its branches made miserable for their lives?
          That the more faulty her friends were as to

her, 

          the more enormous his ingratitude, and the more inexcusable—What! Sir, was it not enough, that she suffered what she did

for him,  

          but the barbarian must make her suffer for her sufferings for

his sake

        ?—

Passion makes me express this weakly: Passion refuses strength sometimes, where the propriety of a resentment prima facie declares expression to be needless. I leave it to you, Sir, to give this reflection its due force.

          That the author of this diffusive mischief perpetrated it premeditatedly, wantonly, in the gaiety of his heart. To

try 

        my cousin, say you, Sir? To try the virtue of a Clarissa, Sir! —Had she then given him any cause to doubt her virtue? —It could not be. —If he averrs that she did—I am indeed called upon—But I will have patience.
        That he carried her, as now it appears, to a vile brothel, purposely to put her out of all human resource; Himself out of the reach of all humane remorse: And that, finding her proof against all the common arts of delusion, base and unmanly arts were there used to effect his wicked purposes.

Once dead, the injured saint, in her will, says, he has seen her.

      That I could not know this, when I saw him at M. Hall: That, the object of his attempts considered, I could not suppose there was such a monster breathing as he: That it was natural for me to impute her refusal of him rather to transitory resentment, to consciousness of human frailty, and mingled doubts of the sincerity of his offers, than to villainies, which had given the irreversible blow, and had at that instant brought her down to the gates of death, which in a very few days inclosed her.

 

    That he is a man of defiance: A man who thinks to awe every-one by his insolent darings, and by his pretensions to superior courage and skill.
          That, disgrace as he is to his name, and to the character of a gentleman, the man would not want his merit, who, in vindication of the

dishonoured 

        distinction, should expunge and blot him out of the worthy lift.
          That the injured family has a son, who, however unworthy of such a sister, is of a temper vehement, unbridled, fierce, unequal therefore (as he has once indeed been found) to a contention with this man: The loss of which son, by a violent death, on such an occasion, by a hand so justly hated, would complete the misery of the whole family: And who, nevertheless, resolves to call him to account, if I do not: His very

misbehaviour 

           perhaps to such a sister stimulating his perverse heart to do her memory the

more signal 

        justice; tho’ the attempt might be fatal to him.
          Then, Sir, to be a witness, as I am every hour, to the calamity and distress of a family to which I am related; every-one of whom, however averse to an alliance with him while it had

not 

        taken place, would no doubt have been soon reconciled to the admirable creature, had the man (to whom, for his family and fortunes it was not a disgrace to be allied) done her but common justice!
          To see them hang their pensive heads; mope about, shunning one another; tho’ formerly never used to meet but to rejoice in each other; afflicting themselves with reflections, that the last time they respectively saw the dear creature it was here, or there, at such a place, in such an attitude; and could they have thought that it would have been the

last?

    Every-one of them reviving instances of her excellencies, that will for a long time make their very blessings a curse to them!
          Her closet, her chamber, her cabinet, given up to me to disfurnish, in order to answer (now

too late

        obliging!) the legacies bequeathed; unable themselves to enter them; and even making use of less convenient back-stairs, that they may avoid passing by the doors of her apartment!
          Her parlour locked up; the walks, the retirements, the summer-house in which she delighted, and used to pursue her charming works;

that, 

        in particular, from which she went to the fatal interview; shunned, or hurried by, or over!
    Her perfections, nevertheless, called up to remembrance, and enumerated: Incidents and graces, unheeded before, or passed over in the groupe of her numberless perfections, now brought into notice, and dwelt upon!
    The very servants allowed to expatiate upon these praiseful topics to their principals! Even eloquent in their praises—The distressed principals listening and weeping! Then to see them break in upon the zealous applauders, by their impatience and remorse, and throw abroad their helpless hands, and exclaim; then again to see them listen to hear more of her praises, and weep again—They even encouraging the servants to repeat, how they used to be stopt by strangers to ask after her, and by those who knew her, to be told of some new instances to her honour—How aggravating all this!
          In

dreams 

          they see her, and

desire 

          to see her: Always an angel, and accompanied by angels: Always clad in robes of light: Always endeavouring to comfort

them,

         who declare that they shall never more know comfort!
    What an example she set! How she indited! How she drew! How she wrought! How she talked! How she sung! How she played! Her voice, music! Her accent, harmony!
    Her conversation how instructive! how sought after! The delight of persons of all ages, of both sexes, of all ranks! Yet how humble, how condescending! Never were dignity and humility so illustriously mingled!
          At other times, how generous, how noble, how charitable, how judicious in her charities! In every action laudable! In every attitude attractive! In every appearance, whether full-dressed, or in the housewife’s more humble garb, equally elegant, and equally lovely!

    Like 

            or

    resembling 

          Miss

    Clarissa Harlowe, they now remember to be a praise denoting the highest degree of approveable excellence, with every-one, whatever person, action, or rank, spoken of.

            The desirable daughter; the obliging kinswoman; the affectionate sister (All envy now subsided!); the faithful, the warm friend; the affable, the kind, the benevolent mistress! —Not one fault remembered! All their severities called cruelties: Mutually accuseing each other; each him and herself; and all to raise

    her 

          character, and torment themselves.

    Such, Sir, is the angel, of whom the vilest of men has deprived the world! You, Sir, who know more of the barbarous machinations and practices of this strange man, can help me to still more inflaming reasons, were they needed, why a man not perfect may stand excused to the generality of the world, if he should pursue his vengeance.

    But I will force myself from the subject, after I have repeated, that I have not yet made any resolutions that can bind me. Whenever I do, I shall be glad they may be such as may merit the honour of your approbation.

    I send you back the copies of the posthumous letters. I see the humanity of your purpose in the transmission of them to me; and I thank you most heartily for it. I presume, that it is owing to the same laudable consideration, that you kept back the copy of that to the wicked man himself.

    I intend to wait upon Miss Howe in person with the diamond ring, and such other of the effects bequeathed to her as are here. I am, Sir,

    Your most faithful and obliged Servant,
    Wm. Morden .

    Mr. Belford, in his answer to this letter, farther inforces the lady’s dying injunctions; and rejoices that the Colonel has made no vindictive resolutions; and hopes everything from his prudence and consideration, and from his promise given to the dying lady.

    He refers to the seeing him in town an account of the dreadful ends of two of the greatest criminals in his cousin’s affair. ‘This, says he, together with Mr. Lovelace’s disorder of mind, looks as if Providence had already taken the punishment of these unhappy wretches into its own hands.’

    He desires a day’s notice of his coming to town, lest otherwise he may be absent at the time.

    This he does, tho’ he tells him not the reason, with a view to prevent a meeting between him and Mr. Lovelace; who may be in town (as he apprehends) about the same time, in his way to go abroad.

     

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