No Good Deed

By Ewan Lawrie

Moffat the Magniloquent along the Mississippi

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Found Among the Moffat Papers Assembled by Prof. J. Maccabi

[No copyright issues, image]

From the Catalogue of Rheims et Sauvage de Paris
Auction date 6th June, 1951

Lot 666: Hand written letter on vellum, addressed to Ellen Pardoner, C/o John Brown, Notary Public, Seahouses, Northumberland, England. signed “Moffat”, dated 4th July, 1852. Franked at London Postal Office, 1st September. Marked “Postage Due 2s 11d”

Throws light on the the infamous Jedermann Family”. Professor Joseph Maccabi, Dept. of Eastern European Studies, Cambridge.

Text reproduced below.

My Dear Ellen,


I hope I do not presume in the use of either your name or the word preceding? Although several years have passed since we parted in the grounds of Gibbous House, I have thought of you whenever things have gone badly for me since. I confess it has been hard living since I crossed the ocean. Of course, the small fortune I brought with me did not last long here on this side of the water. When, or indeed if, you receive this I hope that something will have turned up, although it is hard to see whence it might do so.

This letter and a copy of it have been dispatched on two different vessels, postage will only be due on the first to reach John Brown’s hands. Perhaps it is a vain hope that he will know where to find you, but I suspect that his connections to the Jedermanns are no less significant than your own and, therefore, I believe you will read this at least before the year is out.


Speaking of the Jedermanns, I trust their bargain will be kept and that I am no longer of interest to them. I believe I did not thank you enough in the matter of your preserving me from the worst consequences of the Professor’s experiments. I do so now, fulsomely.


It is quite uncanny, I feel as much in my prime as when I saw you last. I must indeed have come from superior stock; it is almost enough to make one believe in some of your Uncles’ wilder claims. Could you not find it in yourself to give me the truth of events at Gibbous House? I was so intent on leaving that benighted place behind that I gave no argument to the preposterous drivel that all of you were so determined that I would believe. Any reply to this letter, though not expected, would be most welcome. Any letters to “Moffat” should be addressed to the care of


Cargo Broker

Port of New York,



I feel confident of this gentleman’s bona fides in the matter of the onward transmission of any mail, at least as soon as he has finished reading it. Send anything sensitive in the old cypher, I remember fondly my efforts at discovering my own name. What a fool you must have thought me, Ellen.


I do hope that we meet again one day, if not in this world then the next, where I am sure that both you and I will receive a warm welcome. Every ship on every horizon brings hope for those stranded so far from home. Do reply to this letter, though I may be anywhere in this former colony, I will collect it one day. If our respective destinies do cause us to meet again, I might not be so foolish as to leave you a second time,


Yours, ever,


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