Thursday morning, Oct. 5.
It may be some satisfaction to your Lordship, to have a brief account of what has just now passed between Colonel Morden and me.
We had a good deal of discourse about the Harlowe-family, and those parts of the Lady’s Will which still remain unexecuted; after which the Colonel addressed himself to me in a manner which gave me some surprize.
He flattered himself, he said, from my present happy turn, and from my good constitution, that I should live a great many years. It was therefore his request, that I would consent to be his Executor; since it was impossible for him to make a better choice, or pursue a better example, than his cousin had set.
His heart, he said, was in it: There were some things in his cousin’s Will and his analogous; and he had named one person with me, with whom he was sure I would not refuse to be joined; and to whom he intended to apply for his consent, when he had obtained mine ( a ) . [Intimating, as far as I could gather, that it was Mr. Hickman, son of Sir Charles Hickman; to whom I know your Lordship is not a stranger: For he said, Every one who was dear to his beloved cousin, must be so to him: and he knew, that the gentleman whom he had thoughts of, would have, besides my advice and assistance, the advice of one of the most sensible ladies in England.]
He took my hand, seeing me under some surprize: You must not hesitate, much less deny me, Mr. Belford. Indeed you must not. Two things I will assure you of: That I have, as I hope, made every-thing so clear, that you cannot have any litigation: And that I have done so justly, and I hope it will be thought so generously, by all my relations, that a mind like yours will rather have pleasure than pain in the Execution of this Trust. And this is
what I think every honest man, who hopes to find an honest man for his Executor, should do.
I told him, that I was greatly obliged to him for his good opinion of me: That it was so much every man’s duty to be an honest man, that it could not be self-praise to say, that I had no doubt to be found so. But if I accepted of this Trust, it must be on condition—I could name no condition, he said, interrupting me, which he would refuse to comply with.
This condition, I told him, was, that as there was as great a probability of his being my survivor, as I his, he would permit me to name him for mine; and, in that case, a week should not pass before I made my Will.
With all his heart, he said; and the readier, as he had no apprehensions of suddenly dying; for what he had done and requested was really the effect of the satisfaction he had taken in the part I had already acted as his cousin’s Executor; and in my ability, he was pleased to add: As well as in pursuance of his cousin’s advice in the Preamble to her Will; to wit, ‘That this was a work which should be set about in full health, both of body and mind.’
I told him, that I was pleased to hear him say, that he was not in any apprehension of suddenly dying; as this gave me assurance, that he had laid aside all thoughts of acting contrary to his beloved cousin’s dying request.
Does it argue, said he, smiling, that if I were to pursue a vengeance so justifiable in my own opinion, I must be in apprehension of falling by Mr. Lovelace’s hand? —I will assure you, that I have no fears of that sort. —But I know this is an ingrateful-subject to you. Mr. Lovelace is your friend; and I will allow, that a good man may have a friendship for a bad one, so far as to wish him well, without countenancing him in his evil.
I will assure you, added he, that I have not yet made any resolutions either way. I have told you what force my cousin’s repeated requests have with me. Hitherto they have with-held me—But let us quit this subject.
This, Sir (giving me a sealed-up parcel), is my Will. It is witnessed. I made no doubt of prevailing upon you to do me the requested favour. I have a duplicate to leave with the other gentleman; and an attested copy, which I shall deposit at my banker’s. At my return, which will be in six or eight months at farthest, I will allow you to make an exchange of yours, if you will have it so. I have only now to take leave of my relations in the country. And so God protect you, Mr. Belford! You will soon hear of me again.
He then very solemnly embraced me, as I did him: And we parted.
I heartily congratulate with your Lordship on the narrow escape each gentleman has had from the other: For I apprehend, that they could not have met without fatal consequences.
Time, I hope, which subdues all things, will subdue their resentments. I am, my Lord,
Your Lordship’s most faithful and obedient Servant,
J. Belford .
Several other Letters passed between Miss Howe and Mr. Belford, relating to the disposition of the Papers and Letters; to the Poor’s Fund; and to other articles of the Lady’s Will: Wherein the method of proceeding in each case was adjusted. After which the Papers were returned to Mr. Belford, that he might order the two directed copies of them to be taken.In one of these letters Mr. Belford requests Miss Howe to give the Character of the friend she so dearly loved:
- ‘A task, he imagines, that will be as agreeable to herself, as worthy of her pen.’
- ‘I am more especially curious to know,
- what was that particular disposition of her time, which I find mentioned in a letter which I have just dipt into, where her sister is enviously reproaching her on that score (
- . This information may perhaps enable me,
says he, to account for what has often surprised me; How, at so tender an age, this admirable lady became mistress of such extraordinary and such various qualifications.’
This request produced the following Letter.