Part 1 out of 2
This etext was prepared by Christopher Hapka, Sunnyvale, California.
LIBER AMORIS, OR, THE NEW PYGMALION
by WILLIAM HAZLITT
The circumstances, an outline of which is given in these pages, happened
a very short time ago to a native of North Britain, who left his own
country early in life, in consequence of political animosities and an
ill-advised connection in marriage. It was some years after that he
formed the fatal attachment which is the subject of the following
narrative. The whole was transcribed very carefully with his own hand,
a little before be set out for the Continent in hopes of benefiting by a
change of scene, but he died soon after in the Netherlands--it is
supposed, of disappointment preying on a sickly frame and morbid state
of mind. It was his wish that what bad been his strongest feeling while
living, should be preserved in this shape when he was no more.--It has
been suggested to the friend, into whose hands the manuscript was
entrusted, that many things (particularly in the Conversations in the
First Part) either childish or redundant, might have been omitted; but a
promise was given that not a word should be altered, and the pledge was
held sacred. The names and circumstances are so far disguised, it is
presumed, as to prevent any consequences resulting from the publication,
farther than the amusement or sympathy of the reader.
H. Oh! is it you? I had something to shew you--I have got a picture
here. Do you know any one it's like?
S. No, Sir.
H. Don't you think it like yourself?
S. No: it's much handsomer than I can pretend to be.
H. That's because you don't see yourself with the same eyes that others
do. I don't think it handsomer, and the expression is hardly so fine as
yours sometimes is.
S. Now you flatter me. Besides, the complexion is fair, and mine is
H. Thine is pale and beautiful, my love, not dark! But if your colour
were a little heightened, and you wore the same dress, and your hair
were let down over your shoulders, as it is here, it might be taken for
a picture of you. Look here, only see how like it is. The forehead is
like, with that little obstinate protrusion in the middle; the eyebrows
are like, and the eyes are just like yours, when you look up and
S. What then, do I always say--"No--never!" when I look up?
H. I don't know about that--I never heard you say so but once; but that
was once too often for my peace. It was when you told me, "you could
never be mine." Ah! if you are never to be mine, I shall not long be
myself. I cannot go on as I am. My faculties leave me: I think of
nothing, I have no feeling about any thing but thee: thy sweet image has
taken possession of me, haunts me, and will drive me to distraction.
Yet I could almost wish to go mad for thy sake: for then I might fancy
that I had thy love in return, which I cannot live without!
S. Do not, I beg, talk in that manner, but tell me what this is a
H. I hardly know; but it is a very small and delicate copy (painted in
oil on a gold ground) of some fine old Italian picture, Guido's or
Raphael's, but I think Raphael's. Some say it is a Madonna; others call
it a Magdalen, and say you may distinguish the tear upon the cheek,
though no tear is there. But it seems to me more like Raphael's St.
Cecilia, "with looks commercing with the skies," than anything
else.--See, Sarah, how beautiful it is! Ah! dear girl, these are the
ideas I have cherished in my heart, and in my brain; and I never found
any thing to realise them on earth till I met with thee, my love! While
thou didst seem sensible of my kindness, I was but too happy: but now
thou hast cruelly cast me off.
S. You have no reason to say so: you are the same to me as ever.
H. That is, nothing. You are to me everything, and I am nothing to
you. Is it not too true?
H. Then kiss me, my sweetest. Oh! could you see your face now--your
mouth full of suppressed sensibility, your downcast eyes, the soft blush
upon that cheek, you would not say the picture is not like because it is
too handsome, or because you want complexion. Thou art heavenly-fair,
my love--like her from whom the picture was taken--the idol of the
painter's heart, as thou art of mine! Shall I make a drawing of it,
altering the dress a little, to shew you how like it is?
S. As you please.--
H. But I am afraid I tire you with this prosing description of the
French character and abuse of the English? You know there is but one
subject on which I should ever wish to talk, if you would let me.
S. I must say, you don't seem to have a very high opinion of this
H. Yes, it is the place that gave you birth.
S. Do you like the French women better than the English?
H. No: though they have finer eyes, talk better, and are better made.
But they none of them look like you. I like the Italian women I have
seen, much better than the French: they have darker eyes, darker hair,
and the accents of their native tongue are much richer and more
melodious. But I will give you a better account of them when I come
back from Italy, if you would like to hear it.
S. I should much. It is for that I have sometimes had a wish for
travelling abroad, to understand something of the manners and characters
of different people.
H. My sweet girl! I will give you the best account I can--unless you
would rather go and judge for yourself.
S. I cannot.
H. Yes, you shall go with me, and you shall go WITH HONOUR--you know
what I mean
S. You know it is not in your power to take me so.
H. But it soon may: and if you would consent to bear me company, I
would swear never to think of an Italian woman while I am abroad, nor of
an English one after I return home. Thou art to me more than thy whole
S. I require no such sacrifices.
H. Is that what you thought I meant by SACRIFICES last night? But
sacrifices are no sacrifices when they are repaid a thousand fold.
S. I have no way of doing it.
H. You have not the will.--
S. I must go now.
H. Stay, and hear me a little. I shall soon be where I can no more
hear thy voice, far distant from her I love, to see what change of
climate and bright skies will do for a sad heart. I shall perhaps see
thee no more, but I shall still think of thee the same as ever--I shall
say to myself, "Where is she now?--what is she doing?" But I shall
hardly wish you to think of me, unless you could do so more favourably
than I am afraid you will. Ah! dearest creature, I shall be "far
distant from you," as you once said of another, but you will not think
of me as of him, "with the sincerest affection." The smallest share of
thy tenderness would make me blest; but couldst thou ever love me as
thou didst him, I should feel like a God! My face would change to a
different expression: my whole form would undergo alteration. I was
getting well, I was growing young in the sweet proofs of your
friendship: you see how I droop and wither under your displeasure! Thou
art divine, my love, and canst make me either more or less than mortal.
Indeed I am thy creature, thy slave--I only wish to live for your
sake--I would gladly die for you--
S. That would give me no pleasure. But indeed you greatly overrate my
H. Your power over me is that of sovereign grace and beauty. When I am
near thee, nothing can harm me. Thou art an angel of light, shadowing
me with thy softness. But when I let go thy hand, I stagger on a
precipice: out of thy sight the world is dark to me and comfortless.
There is no breathing out of this house: the air of Italy will stifle
me. Go with me and lighten it. I can know no pleasure away from thee--
"But I will come again, my love, An' it were ten thousand mile!"
S. Mrs. E---- has called for the book, Sir.
H. Oh! it is there. Let her wait a minute or two. I see this is a
busy-day with you. How beautiful your arms look in those short sleeves!
S. I do not like to wear them.
H. Then that is because you are merciful, and would spare frail mortals
who might die with gazing.
S. I have no power to kill.
H. You have, you have--Your charms are irresistible as your will is
inexorable. I wish I could see you always thus. But I would have no
one else see you so. I am jealous of all eyes but my own. I should
almost like you to wear a veil, and to be muffled up from head to foot;
but even if you were, and not a glimpse of you could be seen, it would
be to no purpose--you would only have to move, and you would be admired
as the most graceful creature in the world. You smile--Well, if you
were to be won by fine speeches--
S. You could supply them!
H. It is however no laughing matter with me; thy beauty kills me daily,
and I shall think of nothing but thy charms, till the last word trembles
on my tongue, and that will be thy name, my love--the name of my
Infelice! You will live by that name, you rogue, fifty years after you
are dead. Don't you thank me for that?
S. I have no such ambition, Sir. But Mrs. E---- is waiting.
H. She is not in love, like me. You look so handsome to-day, I cannot
let you go. You have got a colour.
S. But you say I look best when I am pale.
H. When you are pale, I think so; but when you have a colour, I then
think you still more beautiful. It is you that I admire; and whatever
you are, I like best. I like you as Miss L----, I should like you still
more as Mrs. ----. I once thought you were half inclined to be a prude,
and I admired you as a "pensive nun, devout and pure." I now think you
are more than half a coquet, and I like you for your roguery. The truth
is, I am in love with you, my angel; and whatever you are, is to me the
perfection of thy sex. I care not what thou art, while thou art still
thyself. Smile but so, and turn my heart to what shape you please!
S. I am afraid, Sir, Mrs. E---- will think you have forgotten her.
H. I had, my charmer. But go, and make her a sweet apology, all
graceful as thou art. One kiss! Ah! ought I not to think myself the
happiest of men?
H. Where have you been, my love?
S. I have been down to see my aunt, Sir.
H. And I hope she has been giving you good advice.
S. I did not go to ask her opinion about any thing.
H. And yet you seem anxious and agitated. You appear pale and
dejected, as if your refusal of me had touched your own breast with
pity. Cruel girl! you look at this moment heavenly-soft, saint-like, or
resemble some graceful marble statue, in the moon's pale ray! Sadness
only heightens the elegance of your features. How can I escape from
you, when every new occasion, even your cruelty and scorn, brings out
some new charm. Nay, your rejection of me, by the way in which you do
it, is only a new link added to my chain. Raise those downcast eyes,
bend as if an angel stooped, and kiss me. . . . Ah! enchanting little
trembler! if such is thy sweetness where thou dost not love, what must
thy love have been? I cannot think how any man, having the heart of
one, could go and leave it.
S. No one did, that I know of.
H. Yes, you told me yourself he left you (though he liked you, and
though he knew--Oh! gracious God! that you loved him) he left you
because "the pride of birth would not permit a union."--For myself, I
would leave a throne to ascend to the heaven of thy charms. I live but
for thee, here--I only wish to live again to pass all eternity with
thee. But even in another world, I suppose you would turn from me to
seek him out who scorned you here.
S. If the proud scorn us here, in that place we shall all be equal.
H. Do not look so--do not talk so--unless you would drive me mad. I
could worship you at this moment. Can I witness such perfection, and
bear to think I have lost you for ever? Oh! let me hope! You see you
can mould me as you like. You can lead me by the hand, like a little
child; and with you my way would be like a little child's:--you could
strew flowers in my path, and pour new life and hope into me. I should
then indeed hail the return of spring with joy, could I indulge the
faintest hope--would you but let me try to please you!
S. Nothing can alter my resolution, Sir.
H. Will you go and leave me so?
S. It is late, and my father will be getting impatient at my stopping
H. You know he has nothing to fear for you--it is poor I that am alone
in danger. But I wanted to ask about buying you a flageolet. Could I
see that which you have? If it is a pretty one, it would hardly be
worth while; but if it isn't, I thought of bespeaking an ivory one for
you. Can't you bring up your own to shew me?
S. Not to-night, Sir.
H. I wish you could.
S. I cannot--but I will in the morning.
H. Whatever you determine, I must submit to. Good night, and bless
[The next morning, S. brought up the tea-kettle as usual; and looking
towards the tea-tray, she said, "Oh! I see my sister has forgot the
tea-pot." It was not there, sure enough; and tripping down stairs, she
came up in a minute, with the tea-pot in one hand, and the flageolet in
the other, balanced so sweetly and gracefully. It would have been
awkward to have brought up the flageolet in the tea-tray and she could
not have well gone down again on purpose to fetch it. Something,
therefore, was to be omitted as an excuse. Exquisite witch! But do I
love her the less dearly for it? I cannot.]
H. You say you cannot love. Is there not a prior attachment in the
case? Was there any one else that you did like?
S. Yes, there was another.
H. Ah! I thought as much. Is it long ago then?
S. It is two years, Sir.
H. And has time made no alteration? Or do you still see him sometimes?
S. No, Sir! But he is one to whom I feel the sincerest affection, and
ever shall, though he is far distant.
H. And did he return your regard?
S. I had every reason to think so.
H. What then broke off your intimacy?
S. It was the pride of birth, Sir, that would not permit him to think
of a union.
H. Was he a young man of rank, then?
S. His connections were high.
H. And did he never attempt to persuade you to any other step?
S. No--he had too great a regard for me.
H. Tell me, my angel, how was it? Was he so very handsome? Or was it
the fineness of his manners?
S. It was more his manner: but I can't tell how it was. It was chiefly
my own fault. I was foolish to suppose he could ever think seriously of
me. But he used to make me read with him--and I used to be with him a
good deal, though not much neither--and I found my affections entangled
before I was aware of it.
H. And did your mother and family know of it?
S. No--I have never told any one but you; nor I should not have
mentioned it now, but I thought it might give you some satisfaction.
H. Why did he go at last?
S. We thought it better to part.
H. And do you correspond?
S. No, Sir. But perhaps I may see him again some time or other, though
it will be only in the way of friendship.
H. My God! what a heart is thine, to live for years upon that bare
S. I did not wish to live always, Sir--I wished to die for a long time
after, till I thought it not right; and since then I have endeavoured to
be as resigned as I can.
H. And do you think the impression will never wear out?
S. Not if I can judge from my feelings hitherto. It is now sometime
since,--and I find no difference.
H. May God for ever bless you! How can I thank you for your
condescension in letting me know your sweet sentiments? You have
changed my esteem into adoration.--Never can I harbour a thought of ill
in thee again.
S. Indeed, Sir, I wish for your good opinion and your friendship.
H. And can you return them?
H. And nothing more?
S. No, Sir.
H. You are an angel, and I will spend my life, if you will let me, in
paying you the homage that my heart feels towards you.
H. You are angry with me?
S. Have I not reason?
H. I hope you have; for I would give the world to believe my suspicions
unjust. But, oh! my God! after what I have thought of you and felt
towards you, as little less than an angel, to have but a doubt cross my
mind for an instant that you were what I dare not name--a common
lodging-house decoy, a kissing convenience, that your lips were as
common as the stairs--
S. Let me go, Sir!
H. Nay--prove to me that you are not so, and I will fall down and
worship you. You were the only creature that ever seemed to love me;
and to have my hopes, and all my fondness for you, thus turned to a
mockery--it is too much! Tell me why you have deceived me, and singled
me out as your victim?
S. I never have, Sir. I always said I could not love.
H. There is a difference between love and making me a laughing-stock.
Yet what else could be the meaning of your little sister's running out
to you, and saying "He thought I did not see him!" when I had followed
you into the other room? Is it a joke upon me that I make free with
you? Or is not the joke against HER sister, unless you make my
courtship of you a jest to the whole house? Indeed I do not well see
how you can come and stay with me as you do, by the hour together, and
day after day, as openly as you do, unless you give it some such turn
with your family. Or do you deceive them as well as me?
S. I deceive no one, Sir. But my sister Betsey was always watching and
listening when Mr. M---- was courting my eldest sister, till he was
obliged to complain of it.
H. That I can understand, but not the other. You may remember, when
your servant Maria looked in and found you sitting in my lap one day,
and I was afraid she might tell your mother, you said "You did not care,
for you had no secrets from your mother." This seemed to me odd at the
time, but I thought no more of it, till other things brought it to my
mind. Am I to suppose, then, that you are acting a part, a vile part,
all this time, and that you come up here, and stay as long as I like,
that you sit on my knee and put your arms round my neck, and feed me
with kisses, and let me take other liberties with you, and that for a
year together; and that you do all this not out of love, or liking, or
regard, but go through your regular task, like some young witch, without
one natural feeling, to shew your cleverness, and get a few presents out
of me, and go down into the kitchen to make a fine laugh of it? There
is something monstrous in it, that I cannot believe of you.
S. Sir, you have no right to harass my feelings in the manner you do.
I have never made a jest of you to anyone, but always felt and expressed
the greatest esteem for you. You have no ground for complaint in my
conduct; and I cannot help what Betsey or others do. I have always been
consistent from the first. I told you my regard could amount to no more
H. Nay, Sarah, it was more than half a year before I knew that there
was an insurmountable obstacle in the way. You say your regard is
merely friendship, and that you are sorry I have ever felt anything more
for you. Yet the first time I ever asked you, you let me kiss you; the
first time I ever saw you, as you went out of the room, you turned full
round at the door, with that inimitable grace with which you do
everything, and fixed your eyes full upon me, as much as to say, "Is he
caught?"--that very week you sat upon my knee, twined your arms round
me, caressed me with every mark of tenderness consistent with modesty;
and I have not got much farther since. Now if you did all this with me,
a perfect stranger to you, and without any particular liking to me, must
I not conclude you do so as a matter of course with everyone?--Or, if
you do not do so with others, it was because you took a liking to me for
some reason or other.
S. It was gratitude, Sir, for different obligations.
H. If you mean by obligations the presents I made you, I had given you
none the first day I came. You do not consider yourself OBLIGED to
everyone who asks you for a kiss?
S. No, Sir.
H. I should not have thought anything of it in anyone but you. But you
seemed so reserved and modest, so soft, so timid, you spoke so low, you
looked so innocent--I thought it impossible you could deceive me.
Whatever favors you granted must proceed from pure regard. No betrothed
virgin ever gave the object of her choice kisses, caresses more modest
or more bewitching than those you have given me a thousand and a
thousand times. Could I have thought I should ever live to believe them
an inhuman mockery of one who had the sincerest regard for you? Do you
think they will not now turn to rank poison in my veins, and kill me,
soul and body? You say it is friendship--but if this is friendship,
I'll forswear love. Ah! Sarah! it must be something more or less than
friendship. If your caresses are sincere, they shew fondness--if they
are not, I must be more than indifferent to you. Indeed you once let
some words drop, as if I were out of the question in such matters, and
you could trifle with me with impunity. Yet you complain at other times
that no one ever took such liberties with you as I have done. I
remember once in particular your saying, as you went out at the door in
anger--"I had an attachment before, but that person never attempted
anything of the kind." Good God! How did I dwell on that word
BEFORE, thinking it implied an attachment to me also; but you have
since disclaimed any such meaning. You say you have never professed
more than esteem. Yet once, when you were sitting in your old place, on
my knee, embracing and fondly embraced, and I asked you if you could not
love, you made answer, "I could easily say so, whether I did or not--YOU
SHOULD JUDGE BY MY ACTIONS!" And another time, when you were in the
same posture, and I reproached you with indifference, you replied in
these words, "Do I SEEM INDIFFERENT?" Was I to blame after this to
indulge my passion for the loveliest of her sex? Or what can I think?
S. I am no prude, Sir.
H. Yet you might be taken for one. So your mother said, "It was hard
if you might not indulge in a little levity." She has strange notions
of levity. But levity, my dear, is quite out of character in you. Your
ordinary walk is as if you were performing some religious ceremony: you
come up to my table of a morning, when you merely bring in the
tea-things, as if you were advancing to the altar. You move in
minuet-time: you measure every step, as if you were afraid of offending
in the smallest things. I never hear your approach on the stairs, but
by a sort of hushed silence. When you enter the room, the Graces wait
on you, and Love waves round your person in gentle undulations,
breathing balm into the soul! By Heaven, you are an angel! You look
like one at this instant! Do I not adore you--and have I merited this
S. I have repeatedly answered that question. You sit and fancy things
out of your own head, and then lay them to my charge. There is not a
word of truth in your suspicions.
H. Did I not overhear the conversation down-stairs last night, to which
you were a party? Shall I repeat it?
S. I had rather not hear it!
H. Or what am I to think of this story of the footman?
S. It is false, Sir, I never did anything of the sort.
H. Nay, when I told your mother I wished she wouldn't * * * * * * * * *
(as I heard she did) she said "Oh, there's nothing in that, for Sarah
very often * * * * * *," and your doing so before company, is only a
trifling addition to the sport.
S. I'll call my mother, Sir, and she shall contradict you.
H. Then she'll contradict herself. But did not you boast you were
"very persevering in your resistance to gay young men," and had been
"several times obliged to ring the bell?" Did you always ring it? Or
did you get into these dilemmas that made it necessary, merely by the
demureness of your looks and ways? Or had nothing else passed? Or have
you two characters, one that you palm off upon me, and another, your
natural one, that you resume when you get out of the room, like an
actress who throws aside her artificial part behind the scenes? Did you
not, when I was courting you on the staircase the first night Mr. C----
came, beg me to desist, for if the new lodger heard us, he'd take you
for a light character? Was that all? Were you only afraid of being
TAKEN for a light character? Oh! Sarah!
S. I'll stay and hear this no longer.
H. Yes, one word more. Did you not love another?
S. Yes, and ever shall most sincerely.
H. Then, THAT is my only hope. If you could feel this sentiment for
him, you cannot be what you seem to me of late. But there is another
thing I had to say--be what you will, I love you to distraction! You
are the only woman that ever made me think she loved me, and that
feeling was so new to me, and so delicious, that it "will never from my
heart." Thou wert to me a little tender flower, blooming in the
wilderness of my life; and though thou should'st turn out a weed, I'll
not fling thee from me, while I can help it. Wert thou all that I dread
to think--wert thou a wretched wanderer in the street, covered with
rags, disease, and infamy, I'd clasp thee to my bosom, and live and die
with thee, my love. Kiss me, thou little sorceress!
H. Then go: but remember I cannot live without you--nor I will not.
H. I have then lost your friendship?
S. Nothing tends more to alienate friendship than insult.
H. The words I uttered hurt me more than they did you.
S. It was not words merely, but actions as well.
H. Nothing I can say or do can ever alter my fondness for you--Ah,
Sarah! I am unworthy of your love: I hardly dare ask for your pity; but
oh! save me--save me from your scorn: I cannot bear it--it withers me
S. I bear no malice, Sir; but my brother, who would scorn to tell a lie
for his sister, can bear witness for me that there was no truth in what
you were told.
H. I believe it; or there is no truth in woman. It is enough for me to
know that you do not return my regard; it would be too much for me to
think that you did not deserve it. But cannot you forgive the agony of
S. I can forgive; but it is not easy to forget some things!
H. Nay, my sweet Sarah (frown if you will, I can bear your resentment
for my ill behaviour, it is only your scorn and indifference that harrow
up my soul)--but I was going to ask, if you had been engaged to be
married to any one, and the day was fixed, and he had heard what I did,
whether he could have felt any true regard for the character of his
bride, his wife, if he had not been hurt and alarmed as I was?
S. I believe, actual contracts of marriage have sometimes been broken
off by unjust suspicions.
H. Or had it been your old friend, what do you think he would have said
in my case?
S. He would never have listened to anything of the sort.
H. He had greater reasons for confidence than I have. But it is your
repeated cruel rejection of me that drives me almost to madness. Tell
me, love, is there not, besides your attachment to him, a repugnance to
S. No, none whatever.
H. I fear there is an original dislike, which no efforts of mine can
S. It is not you--it is my feelings with respect to another, which are
H. And yet you have no hope of ever being his? And yet you accuse me
of being romantic in my sentiments.
S. I have indeed long ceased to hope; but yet I sometimes hope against
H. My love! were it in my power, thy hopes should be fulfilled
to-morrow. Next to my own, there is nothing that could give me so much
satisfaction as to see thine realized! Do I not love thee, when I can
feel such an interest in thy love for another? It was that which first
wedded my very soul to you. I would give worlds for a share in a heart
so rich in pure affection!
S. And yet I did not tell you of the circumstance to raise myself in
H. You are a sublime little thing! And yet, as you have no prospects
there, I cannot help thinking, the best thing would be to do as I have
S. I would never marry a man I did not love beyond all the world.
H. I should be satisfied with less than that--with the love, or regard,
or whatever you call it, you have shown me before marriage, if that has
only been sincere. You would hardly like me less afterwards.
S. Endearments would, I should think, increase regard, where there was
love beforehand; but that is not exactly my case.
H. But I think you would be happier than you are at present. You take
pleasure in my conversation, and you say you have an esteem for me; and
it is upon this, after the honeymoon, that marriage chiefly turns.
S. Do you think there is no pleasure in a single life?
H. Do you mean on account of its liberty?
S. No, but I feel that forced duty is no duty. I have high ideas of
the married state!
H. Higher than of the maiden state?
S. I understand you, Sir.
H. I meant nothing; but you have sometimes spoken of any serious
attachment as a tie upon you. It is not that you prefer flirting with
"gay young men" to becoming a mere dull domestic wife?
S. You have no right to throw out such insinuations: for though I am
but a tradesman's daughter, I have as nice a sense of honour as anyone
H. Talk of a tradesman's daughter! you would ennoble any family, thou
glorious girl, by true nobility of mind.
S. Oh! Sir, you flatter me. I know my own inferiority to most.
H. To none; there is no one above thee, man nor woman either. You are
above your situation, which is not fit for you.
S. I am contented with my lot, and do my duty as cheerfully as I can.
H. Have you not told me your spirits grow worse every year?
S. Not on that account: but some disappointments are hard to bear up
H. If you talk about that, you'll unman me. But tell me, my love,--I
have thought of it as something that might account for some
circumstances; that is, as a mere possibility. But tell me, there was
not a likeness between me and your old lover that struck you at first
sight? Was there?
S. No, Sir, none.
H. Well, I didn't think it likely there should.
S. But there was a likeness.
H. To whom?
S. To that little image! (looking intently on a small bronze figure of
Buonaparte on the mantelpiece).
H. What, do you mean to Buonaparte?
S. Yes, all but the nose was just like.
H. And was his figure the same?
S. He was taller!
[I got up and gave her the image, and told her it was hers by every
right that was sacred. She refused at first to take so valuable a
curiosity, and said she would keep it for me. But I pressed it eagerly,
and she look it. She immediately came and sat down, and put her arm
round my neck, and kissed me, and I said, "Is it not plain we are the
best friends in the world, since we are always so glad to make it up?"
And then I added "How odd it was that the God of my idolatry should turn
out to be like her Idol, and said it was no wonder that the same face
which awed the world should conquer the sweetest creature in it!" How I
loved her at that moment! Is it possible that the wretch who writes
this could ever have been so blest! Heavenly delicious creature! Can I
live without her? Oh! no--never--never.
"What is this world? What asken men to have, Now with his love, now in
the cold grave, Alone, withouten any compagnie!"
Let me but see her again! She cannot hate the man who loves her as I
LETTERS TO THE SAME
--You will scold me for this, and ask me if this is keeping my promise
to mind my work. One half of it was to think of Sarah: and besides, I
do not neglect my work either, I assure you. I regularly do ten pages a
day, which mounts up to thirty guineas' worth a week, so that you see I
should grow rich at this rate, if I could keep on so; AND I COULD KEEP
ON SO, if I had you with me to encourage me with your sweet smiles, and
share my lot. The Berwick smacks sail twice a week, and the wind sits
fair. When I think of the thousand endearing caresses that have passed
between us, I do not wonder at the strong attachment that draws me to
you; but I am sorry for my own want of power to please. I hear the wind
sigh through the lattice, and keep repeating over and over to myself two
lines of Lord Byron's Tragedy--
"So shalt thou find me ever at thy side Here and hereafter, if the last
applying them to thee, my love, and thinking whether I shall ever see
thee again. Perhaps not--for some years at least--till both thou and I
are old--and then, when all else have forsaken thee, I will creep to
thee, and die in thine arms. You once made me believe I was not hated
by her I loved; and for that sensation, so delicious was it, though but
a mockery and a dream, I owe you more than I can ever pay. I thought to
have dried up my tears for ever, the day I left you; but as I write
this, they stream again. If they did not, I think my heart would burst.
I walk out here of an afternoon, and hear the notes of the thrush, that
come up from a sheltered valley below, welcome in the spring; but they
do not melt my heart as they used: it is grown cold and dead. As you
say, it will one day be colder.--Forgive what I have written above; I
did not intend it: but you were once my little all, and I cannot bear
the thought of having lost you for ever, I fear through my own fault.
Has any one called? Do not send any letters that come. I should like
you and your mother (if agreeable) to go and see Mr. Kean in Othello,
and Miss Stephens in Love in a Village. If you will, I will write to
Mr. T----, to send you tickets. Has Mr. P---- called? I think I must
send to him for the picture to kiss and talk to. Kiss me, my best
beloved. Ah! if you can never be mine, still let me be your proud and
TO THE SAME
--You will be glad to learn I have done my work--a volume in less than a
month. This is one reason why I am better than when I came, and another
is, I have had two letters from Sarah. I am pleased I have got through
this job, as I was afraid I might lose reputation by it (which I can
little afford to lose)--and besides, I am more anxious to do well now,
as I wish you to hear me well spoken of. I walk out of an afternoon,
and hear the birds sing as I told you, and think, if I had you hanging
on my arm, and that for life, how happy I should be--happier than I ever
hoped to be, or had any conception of till I knew you. "But that can
never be"--I hear you answer in a soft, low murmur. Well, let me dream
of it sometimes--I am not happy too often, except when that favourite
note, the harbinger of spring, recalling the hopes of my youth, whispers
thy name and peace together in my ear. I was reading something about
Mr. Macready to-day, and this put me in mind of that delicious night,
when I went with your mother and you to see Romeo and Juliet. Can I
forget it for a moment--your sweet modest looks, your infinite propriety
of behaviour, all your sweet winning ways--your hesitating about taking
my arm as we came out till your mother did--your laughing about nearly
losing your cloak--your stepping into the coach without my being able to
make the slightest discovery--and oh! my sitting down beside you there,
you whom I had loved so long, so well, and your assuring me I had not
lessened your pleasure at the play by being with you, and giving me your
dear hand to press in mine! I thought I was in heaven--that slender
exquisitely-turned form contained my all of heaven upon earth; and as I
folded you--yes, you, my own best Sarah, to my bosom, there was, as you
say, A TIE BETWEEN US--you did seem to me, for those few short
moments, to be mine in all truth and honour and sacredness--Oh! that we
could be always so--Do not mock me, for I am a very child in love. I
ought to beg pardon for behaving so ill afterwards, but I hope THE
LITTLE IMAGE made it up between us, &c.
[To this letter I have received no answer, not a line. The rolling
years of eternity will never fill up that blank. Where shall I be?
What am I? Or where have I been?]
WRITTEN IN A BLANK LEAF OF ENDYMION
I want a hand to guide me, an eye to cheer me, a bosom to repose on; all
which I shall never have, but shall stagger into my grave, old before my
time, unloved and unlovely, unless S. L. keeps her faith with me.
* * * * * * * * * * *
--But by her dove's eyes and serpent-shape, I think she does not hate
me; by her smooth forehead and her crested hair, I own I love her; by
her soft looks and queen-like grace (which men might fall down and
worship) I swear to live and die for her!
A PROPOSAL OF LOVE
(Given to her in our early acquaintance)
"Oh! if I thought it could be in a woman (As, if it can, I will presume
in you) To feed for aye her lamp and flames of love, To keep her
constancy in plight and youth, Outliving beauties outward with a mind
That doth renew swifter than blood decays: Or that persuasion could but
thus convince me, That my integrity and truth to you Might be confronted
with the match and weight Of such a winnowed purity in love-- How were I
then uplifted! But, alas, I am as true as truth's simplicity, And
simpler than the infancy of truth."
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA.
LETTERS TO C. P----, ESQ.
My good friend, Here I am in Scotland (and shall have been here three
weeks, next Monday) as I may say, ON MY PROBATION. This is a lone
inn, but on a great scale, thirty miles from Edinburgh. It is situated
on a rising ground (a mark for all the winds, which blow here
incessantly)--there is a woody hill opposite, with a winding valley
below, and the London road stretches out on either side. You may guess
which way I oftenest walk. I have written two letters to S. L. and got
one cold, prudish answer, beginning SIR, and ending FROM YOURS
TRULY, with BEST RESPECTS FROM HERSELF AND RELATIONS. I was going to
give in, but have returned an answer, which I think is a touch-stone. I
send it you on the other side to keep as a curiosity, in case she kills
me by her exquisite rejoinder. I am convinced from the profound
contemplations I have had on the subject here and coming along, that I
am on a wrong scent. We had a famous parting-scene, a complete quarrel
and then a reconciliation, in which she did beguile me of my tears, but
the deuce a one did she shed. What do you think? She cajoled me out of
my little Buonaparte as cleverly as possible, in manner and form
following. She was shy the Saturday and Sunday (the day of my
departure) so I got in dudgeon, and began to rip up grievances. I asked
her how she came to admit me to such extreme familiarities, the first
week I entered the house. "If she had no particular regard for me, she
must do so (or more) with everyone: if she had a liking to me from the
first, why refuse me with scorn and wilfulness?" If you had seen how
she flounced, and looked, and went to the door, saying "She was obliged
to me for letting her know the opinion I had always entertained of
her"--then I said, "Sarah!" and she came back and took my hand, and
fixed her eyes on the mantelpiece--(she must have been invoking her idol
then--if I thought so, I could devour her, the darling--but I doubt
her)--So I said "There is one thing that has occurred to me sometimes as
possible, to account for your conduct to me at first--there wasn't a
likeness, was there, to your old friend?" She answered "No, none--but
there was a likeness!" I asked, to what? She said "to that little
image!" I said, "Do you mean Buonaparte?"--She said "Yes, all but the
nose."--"And the figure?"--"He was taller."--I could not stand this. So
I got up and took it, and gave it her, and after some reluctance, she
consented to "keep it for me." What will you bet me that it wasn't all
a trick? I'll tell you why I suspect it, besides being fairly out of my
wits about her. I had told her mother half an hour before, that I
should take this image and leave it at Mrs. B.'s, for that I didn't wish
to leave anything behind me that must bring me back again. Then up she
comes and starts a likeness to her lover: she knew I should give it her
on the spot--"No, she would keep it for me!" So I must come back for
it. Whether art or nature, it is sublime. I told her I should write
and tell you so, and that I parted from her, confiding, adoring!--She is
beyond me, that's certain. Do go and see her, and desire her not to
give my present address to a single soul, and learn if the lodging is
let, and to whom. My letter to her is as follows. If she shews the
least remorse at it, I'll be hanged, though it might move a stone, I
modestly think. (See before, Part I. first letter.)
N.B.--I have begun a book of our conversations (I mean mine and the
statue's) which I call LIBER AMORIS. I was detained at Stamford and
found myself dull, and could hit upon no other way of employing my time
Dear P----, Here, without loss of time, in order that I may have your
opinion upon it, is little Yes and No's answer to my last.
"Sir, I should not have disregarded your injunction not to send you any
more letters that might come to you, had I not promised the Gentleman
who left the enclosed to forward it the earliest opportunity, as he said
it was of consequence. Mr. P---- called the day after you left town.
My mother and myself are much obliged by your kind offer of tickets to
the play, but must decline accepting it. My family send their best
respects, in which they are joined by
The deuce a bit more is there of it. If you can make anything out of it
(or any body else) I'll be hanged. You are to understand, this comes in
a frank, the second I have received from her, with a name I can't make
out, and she won't tell me, though I asked her, where she got franks, as
also whether the lodgings were let, to neither of which a word of
answer. * * * * is the name on the frank: see if you can decypher it by
a Red-book. I suspect her grievously of being an arrant jilt, to say no
more--yet I love her dearly. Do you know I'm going to write to that
sweet rogue presently, having a whole evening to myself in advance of my
work? Now mark, before you set about your exposition of the new
Apocalypse of the new Calypso, the only thing to be endured in the above
letter is the date. It was written the very day after she received
mine. By this she seems willing to lose no time in receiving these
letters "of such sweet breath composed." If I thought so--but I wait
for your reply. After all, what is there in her but a pretty figure,
and that you can't get a word out of her? Hers is the Fabian method of
making love and conquests. What do you suppose she said the night
before I left her?
"H. Could you not come and live with me as a friend?
"S. I don't know: and yet it would be of no use if I did, you would
always be hankering after what could never be!"
I asked her if she would do so at once--the very next day? And what do
you guess was her answer--"Do you think it would be prudent?" As I
didn't proceed to extremities on the spot, she began to look grave, and
declare off. "Would she live with me in her own house--to be with me
all day as dear friends, if nothing more, to sit and read and talk with
me?"--"She would make no promises, but I should find her the
same."--"Would she go to the play with me sometimes, and let it be
understood that I was paying my addresses to her?"--"She could not, as a
habit--her father was rather strict, and would object."--Now what am I
to think of all this? Am I mad or a fool? Answer me to that, Master
Brook! You are a philosopher.
Dear Friend, I ought to have written to you before; but since I received
your letter, I have been in a sort of purgatory, and what is worse, I
see no prospect of getting out of it. I would put an end to my torments
at once; but I am as great a coward as I have been a dupe. Do you know
I have not had a word of answer from her since! What can be the reason?
Is she offended at my letting you know she wrote to me, or is it some
new affair? I wrote to her in the tenderest, most respectful manner,
poured my soul at her feet, and this is the return she makes me! Can
you account for it, except on the admission of my worst doubts
concerning her? Oh God! can I bear after all to think of her so, or
that I am scorned and made a sport of by the creature to whom I had
given my whole heart? Thus has it been with me all my life; and so will
it be to the end of it!--If you should learn anything, good or bad, tell
me, I conjure you: I can bear anything but this cruel suspense. If I
knew she was a mere abandoned creature, I should try to forget her; but
till I do know this, nothing can tear me from her, I have drank in
poison from her lips too long--alas! mine do not poison again. I sit
and indulge my grief by the hour together; my weakness grows upon me;
and I have no hope left, unless I could lose my senses quite. Do you
know I think I should like this? To forget, ah! to forget--there would
be something in that--to change to an idiot for some few years, and then
to wake up a poor wretched old man, to recollect my misery as past, and
die! Yet, oh! with her, only a little while ago, I had different hopes,
forfeited for nothing that I know of! * * * * * * If you can give me any
consolation on the subject of my tormentor, pray do. The pain I suffer
wears me out daily. I write this on the supposition that Mrs. ----- may
still come here, and that I may be detained some weeks longer. Direct
to me at the Post-office; and if I return to town directly as I fear, I
will leave word for them to forward the letter to me in London--not at
my old lodgings. I will not go back there: yet how can I breathe away
from her? Her hatred of me must be great, since my love of her could
not overcome it! I have finished the book of my conversations with her,
which I told you of: if I am not mistaken, you will think it very nice
Have you read Sardanapalus? How like the little Greek slave, Myrrha, is
(Written in the Winter)
My good Friend, I received your letter this morning, and I kiss the rod
not only with submission, but gratitude. Your reproofs of me and your
defences of her are the only things that save my soul from perdition.
She is my heart's idol; and believe me those words of yours applied to
the dear saint--"To lip a chaste one and suppose her wanton"--were balm
and rapture to me. I have LIPPED HER, God knows how often, and oh! is
it even possible that she is chaste, and that she has bestowed her loved
"endearments" on me (her own sweet word) out of true regard? That
thought, out of the lowest depths of despair, would at any time make me
strike my forehead against the stars. Could I but think the love
"honest," I am proof against all hazards. She by her silence makes my
dark hour; and you by your encouragements dissipate it for twenty-four
hours. Another thing has brought me to life. Mrs. ----- is actually on
her way here about the divorce. Should this unpleasant business (which
has been so long talked of) succeed, and I should become free, do you
think S. L. will agree to change her name to -----? If she WILL, she
SHALL; and to call her so to you, or to hear her called so by others,
would be music to my ears, such as they never drank in. Do you think if
she knew how I love her, my depressions and my altitudes, my wanderings
and my constancy, it would not move her? She knows it all; and if she
is not an INCORRIGIBLE, she loves me, or regards me with a feeling
next to love. I don't believe that any woman was ever courted more
passionately than she has been by me. As Rousseau said of Madame
d'Houptot (forgive the allusion) my heart has found a tongue in speaking
to her, and I have talked to her the divine language of love. Yet she
says, she is insensible to it. Am I to believe her or you? You--for I
wish it and wish it to madness, now that I am like to be free, and to
have it in my power to say to her without a possibility of suspicion,
"Sarah, will you be mine?" When I sometimes think of the time I first
saw the sweet apparition, August 16, 1820, and that possibly she may be
my bride before that day two years, it makes me dizzy with incredible
joy and love of her. Write soon.
My dear Friend, I read your answer this morning with gratitude. I have
felt somewhat easier since. It shewed your interest in my vexations,
and also that you know nothing worse than I do. I cannot describe the
weakness of mind to which she has reduced me. This state of suspense is
like hanging in the air by a single thread that exhausts all your
strength to keep hold of it; and yet if that fails you, you have nothing
in the world else left to trust to. I am come back to Edinburgh about
this cursed business, and Mrs. ----- is coming from Montrose next week.
How it will end, I can't say; and don't care, except as it regards the
other affair. I should, I confess, like to have it in my power to make
her the offer direct and unequivocal, to see how she'd receive it. It
would be worth something at any rate to see her superfine airs upon the
occasion; and if she should take it into her head to turn round her
sweet neck, drop her eye-lids, and say--"Yes, I will be yours!"--why
then, "treason domestic, foreign levy, nothing could touch me further."
By Heaven! I doat on her. The truth is, I never had any pleasure, like
love, with any one but her. Then how can I bear to part with her? Do
you know I like to think of her best in her morning-gown and mob-cap--it
is so she has oftenest come into my room and enchanted me! She was once
ill, pale, and had lost all her freshness. I only adored her the more
for it, and fell in love with the decay of her beauty. I could devour
the little witch. If she had a plague-spot on her, I could touch the
infection: if she was in a burning fever, I could kiss her, and drink
death as I have drank life from her lips. When I press her hand, I
enjoy perfect happiness and contentment of soul. It is not what she
says or what she does--it is herself that I love. To be with her is to
be at peace. I have no other wish or desire. The air about her is
serene, blissful; and he who breathes it is like one of the Gods! So
that I can but have her with me always, I care for nothing more. I
never could tire of her sweetness; I feel that I could grow to her, body
and soul? My heart, my heart is hers.
(Written in May)
Dear P----, What have I suffered since I parted with you! A raging fire
is in my heart and in my brain, that never quits me. The steam-boat
(which I foolishly ventured on board) seems a prison-house, a sort of
spectre-ship, moving on through an infernal lake, without wind or tide,
by some necromantic power--the splashing of the waves, the noise of the
engine gives me no rest, night or day--no tree, no natural object varies
the scene--but the abyss is before me, and all my peace lies weltering
in it! I feel the eternity of punishment in this life; for I see no end
of my woes. The people about me are ill, uncomfortable, wretched
enough, many of them--but to-morrow or next day, they reach the place of
their destination, and all will be new and delightful. To me it will be
the same. I can neither escape from her, nor from myself. All is
endurable where there is a limit: but I have nothing but the blackness
and the fiendishness of scorn around me--mocked by her (the false one)
in whom I placed my hope, and who hardens herself against me!--I believe
you thought me quite gay, vain, insolent, half mad, the night I left the
house--no tongue can tell the heaviness of heart I felt at that moment.
No footsteps ever fell more slow, more sad than mine; for every step
bore me farther from her, with whom my soul and every thought lingered.
I had parted with her in anger, and each had spoken words of high
disdain, not soon to be forgiven. Should I ever behold her again?
Where go to live and die far from her? In her sight there was Elysium;
her smile was heaven; her voice was enchantment; the air of love waved
round her, breathing balm into my heart: for a little while I had sat
with the Gods at their golden tables, I had tasted of all earth's bliss,
"both living and loving!" But now Paradise barred its doors against me;
I was driven from her presence, where rosy blushes and delicious sighs
and all soft wishes dwelt, the outcast of nature and the scoff of love!
I thought of the time when I was a little happy careless child, of my
father's house, of my early lessons, of my brother's picture of me when
a boy, of all that had since happened to me, and of the waste of years
to come--I stopped, faultered, and was going to turn back once more to
make a longer truce with wretchedness and patch up a hollow league with
love, when the recollection of her words--"I always told you I had no
affection for you"--steeled my resolution, and I determined to proceed.
You see by this she always hated me, and only played with my credulity
till she could find some one to supply the place of her unalterable
attachment to THE LITTLE IMAGE. * * * * * I am a little, a very little
better to-day. Would it were quietly over; and that this misshapen form
(made to be mocked) were hid out of the sight of cold, sullen eyes! The
people about me even take notice of my dumb despair, and pity me. What
is to be done? I cannot forget HER; and I can find no other like what
SHE SEEMED. I should wish you to call, if you can make an excuse, and
see whether or no she is quite marble--whether I may go back again at my
return, and whether she will see me and talk to me sometimes as an old
friend. Suppose you were to call on M---- from me, and ask him what his
impression is that I ought to do. But do as you think best. Pardon,
P.S.--I send this from Scarborough, where the vessel stops for a few
minutes. I scarcely know what I should have done, but for this relief
to my feelings.
My dear Friend, The important step is taken, and I am virtually a free
man. * * * What had I better do in these circumstances? I dare not
write to her, I dare not write to her father, or else I would. She has
shot me through with poisoned arrows, and I think another "winged wound
" would finish me. It is a pleasant sort of balm (as you express it)
she has left in my heart! One thing I agree with you in, it will remain
there for ever; but yet not very long. It festers, and consumes me. If
it were not for my little boy, whose face I see struck blank at the
news, looking through the world for pity and meeting with contempt
instead, I should soon, I fear, settle the question by my death. That
recollection is the only thought that brings my wandering reason to an
anchor; that stirs the smallest interest in me; or gives me fortitude to
bear up against what I am doomed to feel for the ungrateful. Otherwise,
I am dead to every thing but the sense of what I have lost. She was my
life--it is gone from me, and I am grown spectral! If I find myself in
a place I am acquainted with, it reminds me of her, of the way in which
I thought of her,
--"and carved on every tree The soft, the fair, the inexpressive she!"
If it is a place that is new to me, it is desolate, barren of all
interest; for nothing touches me but what has a reference to her. If
the clock strikes, the sound jars me; a million of hours will not bring
back peace to my breast. The light startles me; the darkness terrifies
me. I seem falling into a pit, without a hand to help me. She has
deceived me, and the earth fails from under my feet; no object in nature
is substantial, real, but false and hollow, like her faith on which I
built my trust. She came (I knew not how) and sat by my side and was
folded in my arms, a vision of love and joy, as if she had dropped from
the Heavens to bless me by some especial dispensation of a favouring
Providence, and make me amends for all; and now without any fault of
mine but too much fondness, she has vanished from me, and I am left to
perish. My heart is torn out of me, with every feeling for which I
wished to live. The whole is like a dream, an effect of enchantment; it
torments me, and it drives me mad. I lie down with it; I rise up with
it; and see no chance of repose. I grasp at a shadow, I try to undo the
past, and weep with rage and pity over my own weakness and misery. I
spared her again and again (fool that I was) thinking what she allowed
from me was love, friendship, sweetness, not wantonness. How could I
doubt it, looking in her face, and hearing her words, like sighs
breathed from the gentlest of all bosoms? I had hopes, I had prospects
to come, the flattery of something like fame, a pleasure in writing,
health even would have come back with her smile--she has blighted all,
turned all to poison and childish tears. Yet the barbed arrow is in my
heart--I can neither endure it, nor draw it out; for with it flows my
life's-blood. I had conversed too long with abstracted truth to trust
myself with the immortal thoughts of love. THAT S. L. MIGHT HAVE BEEN
MINE, AND NOW NEVER CAN--these are the two sole propositions that for
ever stare me in the face, and look ghastly in at my poor brain. I am
in some sense proud that I can feel this dreadful passion--it gives me a
kind of rank in the kingdom of love--but I could have wished it had been
for an object that at least could have understood its value and pitied
its excess. You say her not coming to the door when you went is a
proof--yes, that her complement is at present full! That is the reason
she doesn't want me there, lest I should discover the new affair--wretch
that I am! Another has possession of her, oh Hell! I'm satisfied of it
from her manner, which had a wanton insolence in it. Well might I run
wild when I received no letters from her. I foresaw, I felt my fate.
The gates of Paradise were once open to me too, and I blushed to enter
but with the golden keys of love! I would die; but her lover--my love
of her--ought not to die. When I am dead, who will love her as I have
done? If she should be in misfortune, who will comfort her? when she
is old, who will look in her face, and bless her? Would there be any
harm in calling upon M----, to know confidentially if he thinks it worth
my while to make her an offer the instant it is in my power? Let me
have an answer, and save me, if possible, FOR her and FROM myself.
My dear Friend, Your letter raised me for a moment from the depths of
despair; but not hearing from you yesterday or to-day (as I hoped) I
have had a relapse. You say I want to get rid of her. I hope you are
more right in your conjectures about her than in this about me. Oh no!
believe it, I love her as I do my own soul; my very heart is wedded to
her (be she what she may) and I would not hesitate a moment between her
and "an angel from Heaven." I grant all you say about my
self-tormenting folly: but has it been without cause? Has she not
refused me again and again with a mixture of scorn and resentment, after
going the utmost lengths with a man for whom she now disclaims all
affection; and what security can I have for her reserve with others, who
will not be restrained by feelings of delicacy towards her, and whom she
has probably preferred to me for their want of it. "SHE CAN MAKE NO
MORE CONFIDENCES"--these words ring for ever in my ears, and will be my
death-watch. They can have but one meaning, be sure of it--she always
expressed herself with the exactest propriety. That was one of the
things for which I loved her--shall I live to hate her for it? My poor
fond heart, that brooded over her and the remains of her affections as
my only hope of comfort upon earth, cannot brook this new degradation.
Who is there so low as me? Who is there besides (I ask) after the
homage I have paid her and the caresses she has lavished on me, so vile,
so abhorrent to love, to whom such an indignity could have happened?
When I think of this (and I think of nothing else) it stifles me. I am
pent up in burning, fruitless desires, which can find no vent or object.
Am I not hated, repulsed, derided by her whom alone I love or ever did
love? I cannot stay in any place, and seek in vain for relief from the
sense of her contempt and her ingratitude. I can settle to nothing:
what is the use of all I have done? Is it not that very circumstance
(my thinking beyond my strength, my feeling more than I need about so
many things) that has withered me up, and made me a thing for Love to
shrink from and wonder at? Who could ever feel that peace from the
touch of her dear hand that I have done; and is it not torn from me for
ever? My state is this, that I shall never lie down again at night nor
rise up in the morning in peace, nor ever behold my little boy's face
with pleasure while I live--unless I am restored to her favour. Instead
of that delicious feeling I had when she was heavenly-kind to me, and my
heart softened and melted in its own tenderness and her sweetness, I am
now inclosed in a dungeon of despair. The sky is marble to my thoughts;
nature is dead around me, as hope is within me; no object can give me
one gleam of satisfaction now, nor the prospect of it in time to come.
I wander by the sea-side; and the eternal ocean and lasting despair and
her face are before me. Slighted by her, on whom my heart by its last
fibre hung, where shall I turn? I wake with her by my side, not as my
sweet bedfellow, but as the corpse of my love, without a heart in her
bosom, cold, insensible, or struggling from me; and the worm gnaws me,
and the sting of unrequited love, and the canker of a hopeless, endless
sorrow. I have lost the taste of my food by feverish anxiety; and my
favourite beverage, which used to refresh me when I got up, has no
moisture in it. Oh! cold, solitary, sepulchral breakfasts, compared
with those which I promised myself with her; or which I made when she
had been standing an hour by my side, my guardian-angel, my wife, my
sister, my sweet friend, my Eve, my all; and had blest me with her
seraph kisses! Ah! what I suffer at present only shews what I have
enjoyed. But "the girl is a good girl, if there is goodness in human
nature." I thank you for those words; and I will fall down and worship
you, if you can prove them true: and I would not do much less for him
that proves her a demon. She is one or the other, that's certain; but I
fear the worst. Do let me know if anything has passed: suspense is my
greatest punishment. I am going into the country to see if I can work a
little in the three weeks I have yet to stay here. Write on the receipt
of this, and believe me ever your unspeakably obliged friend.
--"Stony-hearted" Edinburgh! What art thou to me? The dust of thy
streets mingles with my tears and blinds me. City of palaces, or of
tombs--a quarry, rather than the habitation of men! Art thou like
London, that populous hive, with its sunburnt, well-baked, brick-built
houses--its public edifices, its theatres, its bridges, its squares, its
ladies, and its pomp, its throng of wealth, its outstretched magnitude,
and its mighty heart that never lies still? Thy cold grey walls reflect
back the leaden melancholy of the soul. The square, hard-edged,
unyielding faces of thy inhabitants have no sympathy to impart. What is
it to me that I look along the level line of thy tenantless streets, and
meet perhaps a lawyer like a grasshopper chirping and skipping, or the
daughter of a Highland laird, haughty, fair, and freckled? Or why
should I look down your boasted Prince's Street, with the beetle-browed
Castle on one side, and the Calton Hill with its proud monument at the
further end, and the ridgy steep of Salisbury Crag, cut off abruptly by
Nature's boldest hand, and Arthur's Seat overlooking all, like a lioness
watching her cubs? Or shall I turn to the far-off Pentland Hills, with
Craig-Crook nestling beneath them, where lives the prince of critics and
the king of men? Or cast my eye unsated over the Frith of Forth, that
from my window of an evening (as I read of AMY and her love) glitters
like a broad golden mirror in the sun, and kisses the winding shores of
kingly Fife? Oh no! But to thee, to thee I turn, North Berwick-Law,
with thy blue cone rising out of summer seas; for thou art the beacon of
my banished thoughts, and dost point my way to her, who is my heart's
true home. The air is too thin for me, that has not the breath of Love
in it; that is not embalmed by her sighs!
I am not mad, but my heart is so; and raves within me, fierce and
untameable, like a panther in its den, and tries to get loose to its
lost mate, and fawn on her hand, and bend lowly at her feet.
Oh! thou dumb heart, lonely, sad, shut up in the prison-house of this
rude form, that hast never found a fellow but for an instant, and in
very mockery of thy misery, speak, find bleeding words to express thy
thoughts, break thy dungeon-gloom, or die pronouncing thy Infelice's
Within my heart is lurking suspicion, and base fear, and shame and hate;
but above all, tyrannous love sits throned, crowned with her graces,
silent and in tears.
My dear P----, You have been very kind to me in this business; but I
fear even your indulgence for my infirmities is beginning to fail. To
what a state am I reduced, and for what? For fancying a little artful
vixen to be an angel and a saint, because she affected to look like one,
to hide her rank thoughts and deadly purposes. Has she not murdered me
under the mask of the tenderest friendship? And why? Because I have
loved her with unutterable love, and sought to make her my wife. You
say it is my own "outrageous conduct" that has estranged her: nay, I
have been TOO GENTLE with her. I ask you first in candour whether the
ambiguity of her behaviour with respect to me, sitting and fondling a
man (circumstanced as I was) sometimes for half a day together, and then
declaring she had no love for him beyond common regard, and professing
never to marry, was not enough to excite my suspicions, which the
different exposures from the conversations below-stairs were not
calculated to allay? I ask you what you yourself would have felt or
done, if loving her as I did, you had heard what I did, time after time?
Did not her mother own to one of the grossest charges (which I shall
not repeat)--and is such indelicacy to be reconciled with her pretended
character (that character with which I fell in love, and to which I
MADE LOVE) without supposing her to be the greatest hypocrite in the
world? My unpardonable offence has been that I took her at her word,
and was willing to believe her the precise little puritanical person she
set up for. After exciting her wayward desires by the fondest embraces
and the purest kisses, as if she had been "made my wedded wife
yestreen," or was to become so to-morrow (for that was always my feeling
with respect to her)--I did not proceed to gratify them, or to follow up
my advantage by any action which should declare, "I think you a common
adventurer, and will see whether you are so or not!" Yet any one but a
credulous fool like me would have made the experiment, with whatever
violence to himself, as a matter of life and death; for I had every
reason to distrust appearances. Her conduct has been of a piece from
the beginning. In the midst of her closest and falsest endearments, she
has always (with one or two exceptions) disclaimed the natural inference
to be drawn from them, and made a verbal reservation, by which she might
lead me on in a Fool's Paradise, and make me the tool of her levity, her
avarice, and her love of intrigue as long as she liked, and dismiss me
whenever it suited her. This, you see, she has done, because my
intentions grew serious, and if complied with, would deprive her of THE
PLEASURES OF A SINGLE LIFE! Offer marriage to this "tradesman's
daughter, who has as nice a sense of honour as any one can have;" and
like Lady Bellaston in Tom Jones, she CUTS you immediately in a fit
of abhorrence and alarm. Yet she seemed to be of a different mind
formerly, when struggling from me in the height of our first intimacy,
she exclaimed--"However I might agree to my own ruin, I never will
consent to bring disgrace upon my family!" That I should have spared
the traitress after expressions like this, astonishes me when I look
back upon it. Yet if it were all to do over again, I know I should act
just the same part. Such is her power over me! I cannot run the least
risk of offending her--I love her so. When I look in her face, I cannot
doubt her truth! Wretched being that I am! I have thrown away my heart
and soul upon an unfeeling girl; and my life (that might have been so
happy, had she been what I thought her) will soon follow either
voluntarily, or by the force of grief, remorse, and disappointment. I
cannot get rid of the reflection for an instant, nor even seek relief
from its galling pressure. Ah! what a heart she has lost! All the love
and affection of my whole life were centred in her, who alone, I
thought, of all women had found out my true character, and knew how to
value my tenderness. Alas! alas! that this, the only hope, joy, or
comfort I ever had, should turn to a mockery, and hang like an ugly film
over the remainder of my days!--I was at Roslin Castle yesterday. It
lies low in a rude, but sheltered valley, hid from the vulgar gaze, and
powerfully reminds one of the old song. The straggling fragments of the
russet ruins, suspended smiling and graceful in the air as if they would
linger out another century to please the curious beholder, the green
larch-trees trembling between with the blue sky and white silver clouds,
the wild mountain plants starting out here and there, the date of the
year on an old low door-way, but still more, the beds of flowers in
orderly decay, that seem to have no hand to tend them, but keep up a
sort of traditional remembrance of civilization in former ages, present
altogether a delightful and amiable subject for contemplation. The
exquisite beauty of the scene, with the thought of what I should feel,
should I ever be restored to her, and have to lead her through such
places as my adored, my angelwife, almost drove me beside myself. For
this picture, this ecstatic vision, what have I of late instead as the
image of the reality? Demoniacal possessions. I see the young witch
seated in another's lap, twining her serpent arms round him, her eye
glancing and her cheeks on fire--why does not the hideous thought choke
me? Or why do I not go and find out the truth at once? The moonlight
streams over the silver waters: the bark is in the bay that might waft
me to her, almost with a wish. The mountain-breeze sighs out her name:
old ocean with a world of tears murmurs back my woes! Does not my heart
yearn to be with her; and shall I not follow its bidding? No, I must
wait till I am free; and then I will take my Freedom (a glad prize) and
lay it at her feet and tell her my proud love of her that would not
brook a rival in her dishonour, and that would have her all or none, and
gain her or lose myself for ever!--
You see by this letter the way I am in, and I hope you will excuse it as
the picture of a half-disordered mind. The least respite from my
uneasiness (such as I had yesterday) only brings the contrary reflection
back upon me, like a flood; and by letting me see the happiness I have
lost, makes me feel, by contrast, more acutely what I am doomed to bear.
Dear Friend, Here I am at St. Bees once more, amid the scenes which I
greeted in their barrenness in winter; but which have now put on their
full green attire that shews luxuriant to the eye, but speaks a tale of
sadness to this heart widowed of its last, its dearest, its only hope!
Oh! lovely Bees-Inn! here I composed a volume of law-cases, here I wrote
my enamoured follies to her, thinking her human, and that "all below was
not the fiend's"--here I got two cold, sullen answers from the little
witch, and here I was ----- and I was damned. I thought the revisiting
the old haunts would have soothed me for a time, but it only brings back
the sense of what I have suffered for her and of her unkindness the more
strongly, till I cannot endure the recollection. I eye the Heavens in
dumb despair, or vent my sorrows in the desart air. "To the winds, to
the waves, to the rocks I complain"--you may suppose with what effect!
I fear I shall be obliged to return. I am tossed about (backwards and
forwards) by my passion, so as to become ridiculous. I can now
understand how it is that mad people never remain in the same
place--they are moving on for ever, FROM THEMSELVES!
Do you know, you would have been delighted with the effect of the
Northern twilight on this romantic country as I rode along last night?
The hills and groves and herds of cattle were seen reposing in the grey
dawn of midnight, as in a moonlight without shadow. The whole wide
canopy of Heaven shed its reflex light upon them, like a pure crystal
mirror. No sharp points, no petty details, no hard contrasts--every
object was seen softened yet distinct, in its simple outline and natural
tones, transparent with an inward light, breathing its own mild lustre.
The landscape altogether was like an airy piece of mosaic-work, or like
one of Poussin's broad massy landscapes or Titian's lovely pastoral
scenes. Is it not so, that poets see nature, veiled to the sight, but
revealed to the soul in visionary grace and grandeur! I confess the
sight touched me; and might have removed all sadness except mine. So (I
thought) the light of her celestial face once shone into my soul, and
wrapt me in a heavenly trance. The sense I have of beauty raises me for
a moment above myself, but depresses me the more afterwards, when I
recollect how it is thrown away in vain admiration, and that it only
makes me more susceptible of pain from the mortifications I meet with.
Would I had never seen her! I might then not indeed have been happy,
but at least I might have passed my life in peace, and have sunk into
forgetfulness without a pang.--The noble scenery in this country mixes
with my passion, and refines, but does not relieve it. I was at
Stirling Castle not long ago. It gave me no pleasure. The declivity
seemed to me abrupt, not sublime; for in truth I did not shrink back
from it with terror. The weather-beaten towers were stiff and formal:
the air was damp and chill: the river winded its dull, slimy way like a
snake along the marshy grounds: and the dim misty tops of Ben Leddi, and
the lovely Highlands (woven fantastically of thin air) mocked my
embraces and tempted my longing eyes like her, the sole queen and
mistress of my thoughts! I never found my contemplations on this
subject so subtilised and at the same time so desponding as on that
occasion. I wept myself almost blind, and I gazed at the broad golden
sunset through my tears that fell in showers. As I trod the green
mountain turf, oh! how I wished to be laid beneath it--in one grave with
her--that I might sleep with her in that cold bed, my hand in hers, and
my heart for ever still--while worms should taste her sweet body, that I
had never tasted! There was a time when I could bear solitude; but it
is too much for me at present. Now I am no sooner left to myself than I
am lost in infinite space, and look round me in vain for suppose or
comfort. She was my stay, my hope: without her hand to cling to, I
stagger like an infant on the edge of a precipice. The universe without
her is one wide, hollow abyss, in which my harassed thoughts can find no
resting-place. I must break off here; for the hysterica passio comes
upon me, and threatens to unhinge my reason.
My dear and good Friend, I am afraid I trouble you with my querulous
epistles, but this is probably the last. To-morrow or the next day
decides my fate with respect to the divorce, when I expect to be a free
man. In vain! Was it not for her and to lay my freedom at her feet,
that I consented to this step which has cost me infinite perplexity, and
now to be discarded for the first pretender that came in her way! If
so, I hardly think I can survive it. You who have been a favourite with
women, do not know what it is to be deprived of one's only hope, and to
have it turned to shame and disappointment. There is nothing in the
world left that can afford me one drop of comfort--THIS I feel more
and more. Everything is to me a mockery of pleasure, like her love.
The breeze does not cool me: the blue sky does not cheer me. I gaze
only on her face averted from me--alas! the only face that ever was
turned fondly to me! And why am I thus treated? Because I wanted her
to be mine for ever in love or friendship, and did not push my gross
familiarities as far as I might. "Why can you not go on as we have
done, and say nothing about the word, FOREVER?" Was it not plain from
this that she even then meditated an escape from me to some less
sentimental lover? "Do you allow anyone else to do so?" I said to her
once, as I was toying with her. "No, not now!" was her answer; that is,
because there was nobody else in the house to take freedoms with her. I
was very well as a stopgap, but I was to be nothing more. While the
coast was clear, I had it all my own way: but the instant C---- came,
she flung herself at his head in the most barefaced way, ran breathless
up stairs before him, blushed when his foot was heard, watched for him
in the passage, and was sure to be in close conference with him when he
went down again. It was then my mad proceedings commenced. No wonder.
Had I not reason to be jealous of every appearance of familiarity with
others, knowing how easy she had been with me at first, and that she
only grew shy when I did not take farther liberties? What has her
character to rest upon but her attachment to me, which she now denies,
not modestly, but impudently? Will you yourself say that if she had all
along no particular regard for me, she will not do as much or more with
other more likely men? "She has had," she says, "enough of my
conversation," so it could not be that! Ah! my friend, it was not to be
supposed I should ever meet even with the outward demonstrations of
regard from any woman but a common trader in the endearments of love! I
have tasted the sweets of the well practiced illusion, and now feel the
bitterness of knowing what a bliss I am deprived of, and must ever be
deprived of. Intolerable conviction! Yet I might, I believe, have won
her by other methods; but some demon held my hand. How indeed could I
offer her the least insult when I worshipped her very footsteps; and
even now pay her divine honours from my inmost heart, whenever I think
of her, abased and brutalised as I have been by that Circean cup of
kisses, of enchantments, of which I have drunk! I am choked, withered,
dried up with chagrin, remorse, despair, from which I have not a
moment's respite, day or night. I have always some horrid dream about
her, and wake wondering what is the matter that "she is no longer the
same to me as ever?" I thought at least we should always remain dear
friends, if nothing more--did she not talk of coming to live with me
only the day before I left her in the winter? But "she's gone, I am
abused, and my revenge must be to LOVE her!"--Yet she knows that one
line, one word would save me, the cruel, heartless destroyer! I see
nothing for it but madness, unless Friday brings a change, or unless she
is willing to let me go back. You must know I wrote to her to that
purpose, but it was a very quiet, sober letter, begging pardon, and
professing reform for the future, and all that. What effect it will
have, I know not. I was forced to get out of the way of her answer,
till Friday came.
TO S. L.
My dear Miss L----, EVIL TO THEM THAT EVIL THINK, is an old saying;
and I have found it a true one. I have ruined myself by my unjust
suspicions of you. Your sweet friendship was the balm of my life; and I
have lost it, I fear for ever, by one fault and folly after another.
What would I give to be restored to the place in your esteem, which, you
assured me, I held only a few months ago! Yet I was not contented, but
did all I could to torment myself and harass you by endless doubts and
jealousy. Can you not forget and forgive the past, and judge of me by
my conduct in future? Can you not take all my follies in the lump, and
say like a good, generous girl, "Well, I'll think no more of them?" In
a word, may I come back, and try to behave better? A line to say so
would be an additional favour to so many already received by
Your obliged friend,
And sincere well-wisher.
LETTER XII. TO C. P----
I have no answer from her. I'm mad. I wish you to call on M---- in
confidence, to say I intend to make her an offer of my hand, and that I
will write to her father to that effect the instant I am free, and ask
him whether he thinks it will be to any purpose, and what he would
advise me to do.
"Love is not love that alteration finds: Oh no! it is an ever-fixed
mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken."
Shall I not love her for herself alone, in spite of fickleness and
folly? To love her for her regard to me, is not to love her, but
myself. She has robbed me of herself: shall she also rob me of my love
of her? Did I not live on her smile? Is it less sweet because it is
withdrawn from me? Did I not adore her every grace? Does she bend less
enchantingly, because she has turned from me to another? Is my love
then in the power of fortune, or of her caprice? No, I will have it
lasting as it is pure; and I will make a Goddess of her, and build a
temple to her in my heart, and worship her on indestructible altars, and
raise statues to her: and my homage shall be unblemished as her
unrivalled symmetry of form; and when that fails, the memory of it shall
survive; and my bosom shall be proof to scorn, as hers has been to pity;
and I will pursue her with an unrelenting love, and sue to be her slave,
and tend her steps without notice and without reward; and serve her
living, and mourn for her when dead. And thus my love will have shewn
itself superior to her hate; and I shall triumph and then die. This is
my idea of the only true and heroic love! Such is mine for her.
Perfect love has this advantage in it, that it leaves the possessor of
it nothing farther to desire. There is one object (at least) in which
the soul finds absolute content, for which it seeks to live, or dares to
die. The heart has as it were filled up the moulds of the imagination.
The truth of passion keeps pace with and outvies the extravagance of
mere language. There are no words so fine, no flattery so soft, that
there is not a sentiment beyond them, that it is impossible to express,
at the bottom of the heart where true love is. What idle sounds the
common phrases, adorable creature, angel, divinity, are? What a proud
reflection it is to have a feeling answering to all these, rooted in the
breast, unalterable, unutterable, to which all other feelings are light
and vain! Perfect love reposes on the object of its choice, like the
halcyon on the wave; and the air of heaven is around it.
FROM C. P., ESQ.
London, July 4th, I822.
I have seen M----! Now, my dear H----, let me entreat and adjure you to
take what I have to tell you, FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH--neither for less,
nor more. In the first place, I have learned nothing decisive from him.
This, as you will at once see, is, as far as it goes, good. I am
either to hear from him, or see him again in a day or two; but I thought
you would like to know what passed inconclusive as it was--so I write
without delay, and in great haste to save a post. I found him frank,
and even friendly in his manner to me, and in his views respecting you.
I think that he is sincerely sorry for your situation; and he feels that
the person who has placed you in that situation is not much less
awkwardly situated herself; and he professes that he would willingly do
what he can for the good of both. But he sees great difficulties
attending the affair--which he frankly professes to consider as an
altogether unfortunate one. With respect to the marriage, he seems to
see the most formidable objections to it, on both sides; but yet he by
no means decidedly says that it cannot, or that it ought not to take
place. These, mind you, are his own feelings on the subject: but the
most important point I learn from him is this, that he is not prepared
to use his influence either way--that the rest of the family are of the
same way of feeling; and that, in fact, the thing must and does entirely
rest with herself. To learn this was, as you see, gaining a great
point.--When I then endeavoured to ascertain whether he knew anything
decisive as to what are her views on the subject, I found that he did
not. He has an opinion on the subject, and he didn't scruple to tell me
what it was; but he has no positive knowledge. In short, he believes,
from what he learns from herself (and he had purposely seen her on the
subject, in consequence of my application to him) that she is at present
indisposed to the marriage; but he is not prepared to say positively
that she will not consent to it. Now all this, coming from him in the
most frank and unaffected manner, and without any appearance of cant,
caution, or reserve, I take to be most important as it respects your
views, whatever they may be; and certainly much more favourable to them
(I confess it) than I was prepared to expect, supposing them to remain
as they were. In fact as I said before, the affair rests entirely with
herself. They are none of them disposed either to further the marriage,
or throw any insurmountable obstacles in the way of it; and what is more
important than all, they are evidently by no means CERTAIN that SHE
may not, at some future period, consent to it; or they would, for her
sake as well as their own, let you know as much flatly, and put an end
to the affair at once.
Seeing in how frank and straitforward a manner he received what I had to
say to him, and replied to it, I proceeded to ask him what were HIS
views, and what were likely to be HERS (in case she did not consent)
as to whether you should return to live in the house;--but I added,
without waiting for his answer, that if she intended to persist in
treating you as she had done for some time past, it would be worse than
madness for you to think of returning. I added that, in case you did
return, all you would expect from her would be that she would treat you
with civility and kindness--that she would continue to evince that
friendly feeling towards you, that she had done for a great length of
time, &c. To this, he said, he could really give no decisive reply, but
that he should be most happy if, by any intervention of his, he could
conduce to your comfort; but he seemed to think that for you to return
on any express understanding that she should behave to you in any
particular manner, would be to place her in a most awkward situation.
He went somewhat at length into this point, and talked very reasonably
about it; the result, however, was that he would not throw any obstacles
in the way of your return, or of her treating you as a friend, &c., nor
did it appear that he believed she would refuse to do so. And, finally,
we parted on the understanding that he would see them on the subject,
and ascertain what could be done for the comfort of all parties: though
he was of opinion that if you could make up your mind to break off the
acquaintance altogether, it would be the best plan of all. I am to hear
from him again in a day or two.--Well, what do you say to all this? Can
you turn it to any thing but good--comparative good? If you would know
what _I_ say to it, it is this:--She is still to be won by wise and
prudent conduct on your part; she was always to have been won by
such;--and if she is lost, it has been (not, as you sometimes suppose,
because you have not carried that unwise, may I not say UNWORTHY?
conduct still farther, but because you gave way to it at all. Of course
I use the terms "wise" and "prudent" with reference to your object.
Whether the pursuit of that object is wise, only yourself can judge. I
say she has all along been to be won, and she still is to be won; and
all that stands in the way of your views at this moment is your past
conduct. They are all of them, every soul, frightened at you; they have
SEEN enough of you to make them so; and they have doubtless heard ten
times more than they have seen, or than anyone else has seen. They are
all of them including M---- (and particularly she herself) frightened
out of their wits, as to what might be your treatment of her if she were
yours; and they dare not trust you--they will not trust you, at present.
I do not say that they will trust you, or rather that SHE will, for
it all depends on her, when you have gone through a probation, but I am
sure that she will not trust you till you have. You will, I hope, not
be angry with me when I say that she would be a fool if she did. If she
were to accept you at present, and without knowing more of you, even I
should begin to suspect that she had an unworthy motive for doing it.
Let me not forget to mention what is perhaps as important a point as
any, as it regards the marriage. I of course stated to M---- that when
you are free, you are prepared to make her a formal offer of your hand;
but I begged him, if he was certain that such an offer would be refused,
to tell me so plainly at once, that I might endeavour, in that case, to
dissuade you from subjecting yourself to the pain of such a refusal.
HE WOULD NOT TELL ME THAT HE WAS CERTAIN. He said his opinion was
that she would not accept your offer, but still he seemed to think that
there would be no harm in making it!---One word more, and a very
important one. He once, and without my referring in the slightest
manner to that part of the subject, spoke of her as a GOOD GIRL, and
LIKELY TO MAKE ANY MAN AN EXCELLENT WIFE! Do you think if she were a
bad girl (and if she were, he must know her to be so) he would have
dared to do this, under these circumstances?--And once, in speaking of
HIS not being a fit person to set his face against "marrying for
love," he added "I did so myself, and out of that house; and I have had
reason to rejoice at it ever since." And mind (for I anticipate your
cursed suspicions) I'm certain, at least, if manner can entitle one to
be certain of any thing, that he said all this spontaneously, and
without any understood motive; and I'm certain, too, that he knows you
to be a person that it would not do to play any tricks of this kind
with. I believe--(and all this would never have entered my thoughts,
but that I know it will enter yours) I believe that even if they thought
(as you have sometimes supposed they do) that she needs whitewashing, or
making an honest woman of, YOU would be the last person they would
think of using for such a purpose, for they know (as well as I do) that
you couldn't fail to find out the trick in a month, and would turn her
into the street the next moment, though she were twenty times your
wife--and that, as to the consequences of doing so, you would laugh at
them, even if you couldn't escape from them.--I shall lose the post if I
Ever truly your friend,
My dear P----, You have saved my life. If I do not keep friends with
her now, I deserve to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. She is an angel
from Heaven, and you cannot pretend I ever said a word to the contrary!
The little rogue must have liked me from the first, or she never could
have stood all these hurricanes without slipping her cable. What could
she find in me? "I have mistook my person all this while," &c. Do you
know I saw a picture, the very pattern of her, the other day, at
Dalkeith Palace (Hope finding Fortune in the Sea), just before this
blessed news came, and the resemblance drove me almost out of my senses.
Such delicacy, such fulness, such perfect softness, such buoyancy, such
grace! If it is not the very image of her, I am no judge.--You have the
face to doubt my making the best husband in the world; you might as well
doubt it if I was married to one of the Houris of Paradise. She is a
saint, an angel, a love. If she deceives me again, she kills me. But I
will have such a kiss when I get back, as shall last me twenty years.
May God bless her for not utterly disowning and destroying me! What an
exquisite little creature it is, and how she holds out to the last in
her system of consistent contradictions! Since I wrote to you about
making a formal proposal, I have had her face constantly before me,
looking so like some faultless marble statue, as cold, as fixed and
graceful as ever statue did; the expression (nothing was ever like
THAT!) seemed to say--"I wish I could love you better than I do, but
still I will be yours." No, I'll never believe again that she will not
be mine; for I think she was made on purpose for me. If there's anyone
else that understands that turn of her head as I do, I'll give her up
without scruple. I have made up my mind to this, never to dream of
another woman, while she even thinks it worth her while to REFUSE TO
HAVE ME. You see I am not hard to please, after all. Did M---- know
of the intimacy that had subsisted between us? Or did you hint at it?
I think it would be a CLENCHER, if he did. How ought I to behave when
I go back? Advise a fool, who had nearly lost a Goddess by his folly.
The thing was, I could not think it possible she would ever like ME.
Her taste is singular, but not the worse for that. I'd rather have her
love, or liking (call it what you will) than empires. I deserve to call