Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin | Elizabeth Robins Pennell | Biography & Autobiography | English | 3/5



chapter 7 of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin by Elizabeth Robbins Pennell this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by pamela nogami visit to paris 1792 to 1793 the vindication of the rights of women made Mary still more generally known its Fame spread far and wide not only at home but abroad where it was translated into German and French like pains rights of man or malthus's essay on the theory of population it advanced new doctrines which threatened to overturn existing social relations and a consequently struck men with fear and Wonder and evoked more censure than praise some were disgusted with such a bold breaking of conventional chains a few were startled into admiration much of the public amazement was due not only to the principles of the book but to its warmth and earnestness as miss Thackeray says the English author esas of those days kept their readers carefully at penn's length and seemed for the most part to be so conscious of their surprising achievement in the way of literature as never to forget for a single minute that they were in print but here was a woman who wrote eloquently from her heart who told people boldly what she thought upon subjects of which her sex as a rule pretended to know nothing and who forgot herself in her interest in her work it was natural that curiosity was felt as to what manner of being she was and that curiosity changed into surprise when instead of the virago expected she was found to be to use Godwin's words lovely in her person and in the best and most engaging sense feminine in her manners the fable was in this case reversed it was the sheep who appeared in wolves clothing in her own circle of friends and acquaintances she was lionized some of her readers were converted into enthusiasts the reputation she had won by her answer to burke was now firmly established she was respected as an independent thinker and bold dealer with social problems but conservatives avoided her and her book as moral plagues many people would not even look at what she had written satisfied with the old-fashioned way of treating the subjects there in disgust they would not run the risk of finding out that they were wrong they dreaded the increase of knowledge which would bring with it greater sorrow mrs. Barbeau eloquent in her defense of men's rights could conceive no higher aim for women than the attainment of a sufficient knowledge to make them agreeable companions to their husbands and brothers should there be any deviation from the methods of Education which ensured this end they would she feared become like the pre cious or fem savant of Moliere Mary's vigorous appeal for improvement could therefore have no meaning for her Hannah more enthusiastic in her denunciations of slavery but unconscious that her Liberty was in the least restricted did not hesitate to form an opinion of the rights of women without examining it thus necessarily missing its true significance in this she doubtless represented a large majority of her sex she wrote to horace walpole in 1793 i have been much pestered to read the rights of women but am invincibly resolved not to do it of all jargon I hate metaphysical jargon beside there is something fantastic and absurd in the very title how many ways there are of being ridiculous I am sure I have as much liberty as I can make good use of now I am an old maid and when I was a young one I had I dare say more than was good for me if I were still young perhaps I should not make this confession but so many women are fond of government I suppose because they are not fit for it to be unstable and capricious I really think is but two characteristic of our sex and there is perhaps no animal so much indebted to support a nation for its good behavior as woman I have soberly and uniformly maintained this doctrine ever since I have been capable of observation and I used horribly to provoke some of my female friends meet us farm by it especially such a row experience as poor mrs. Walsingham men on the other hand thought Mary was unsexy herself by her arguments which seemed to interfere with their rights and interference they could not Brook Walpole when he answered the letter from which the above extract is taken wrote with warmth it is better to thank Providence for the tranquillity and happiness we enjoy in this country in spite of the philosophizing serpents we have in our bosom the pains the tewks and the Wollstonecraft's I am glad you have not read the tract of the last mention writer I would not look at it though assured it contains neither metaphysics nor politics but as she entered the lists of the latter and borrowed her title from the demons book which aimed at spreading the wrongs of men she is excommunicated from the pale of my library we have had enough of new systems in the world a great deal too much already she seems always to have incurred Walpole's deepest scorn and wrath he could not speak of her without he being scorned upon her name a year or two later when she published her book on the French Revolution writing again to Hannah more he thus concludes his letter idea thou excellent woman thou reverse of that hyena and petticoats mrs. Wollstonecraft who to this day discharges her ink and gall on Marie Antoinette whose unparalleled sufferings have not yet starched that elect OHS blazing ferocity there was at least one man in London whose opinion was worth having who it is known treated the book with indifference and he by a strange Caprice of fate was William Godwin it was at this time when she was in the fullness of her fame that Mary first met him she was dining at johnsons with pain and shove it and Godwin had come purposely to meet the American philosopher and to hear him talk but pain was at best a silent man and marry it seems monopolized the conversation Godwin was disappointed and consequently the impression she made upon him was not pleasing he afterwards wrote an account of this first meeting which is interesting because of the closer relationship to which an acquaintance so unpropitious lee begun was to lead he says the interview was not fortunate marion myself parted mutually displeased with each other I had not read her rights of women I had barely looked into her answer to Burke and been displeased as literary men are apt to be with a few offences against grammar and other minut points of composition I had therefore little curiosity to see mrs. Wollstonecraft and a very great curiosity to see Thomas Paine Paine and his general habits is no great talker and though he threw in occasion only some shrewd and striking remarks the conversation lay principally between me and Mary I have consequence heard her very frequently when I wished to hear pain we touched on a considerable variety of topics and particularly on the character and habits of certain eminent men marry as has been observed had acquired in a very blamable degree the practice of seeing everything on the gloomy side and bestowing censure with a plentiful hand where circumstances were in any degree doubtful I on the contrary had a strong propensity to favorable construction and particularly where I found unequivocal marks of genius strongly to incline to the supposition of generous and manly virtue we ventilated in this way the character of Voltaire and others who had obtained from some individuals and ardent admiration while the greater number had treated them with extreme moral severity Mary was at last provoked to tell me that praise lavished in the way that i lavished it could do no credit either to the commended or the commander we discussed some questions on the subject of religion in which her opinions approached much nearer to the received ones than mine as the conversation proceeded I became dissatisfied with the tone of my own share in it we touched upon all topics without treating forcibly or connected ly upon any meanwhile I did her the justice in giving an account of the conversation to a party in which i supped though I was not sparing of my blame to yield her the praise of a person of active and independent thinking on her side she did me no part of what perhaps I considered as justice we met two or three times in the course of the following year but made a very small degree of progress toward a cordial acquaintances not until Mary had lived through the tragedy of her life were they destined to become more to each other than mere fellow mortals there was much to be learned and much to be forgotten before the time came to her to give herself into his keeping her family was naturally interested in her book from personal motives but Eliza and every 'no heartily disapproved of it and their feelings for their elder sister became from this period less and less friendly both were now in good situations Mary felt free therefore to consider her own comforts a little besides she had attained the position which it became her to sustain with dignity she was now known as mrs. Wollstonecraft and was a prominent figure in the literary world shortly after the publication of the rights of women she moved from the modest lodgings in George Street to larger better rooms in store street bedford square and these she furnished comfortably necessity was no longer her only standard she also gave more care to her dress her Stern apprenticeship was over she had so successfully trampled upon the thorns in her path that she could pause to enjoy the flowers to modern readers her new furniture and gowns are welcome signs of the awakening of the springtime in her cold and wintry life but her sisters resented them particularly because while they needed less received less from her bounty and Charles waiting for a good opening in America was living at her expense he with thoughtless and gratitude sent them semi satirical accounts of her new mode of living and thus unconsciously kindled their jealousy into a fierce flame when the extent of Mary's kindness and cell sacrifice in their regard is remembered the petty ill nature of brother and sisters as expressed in the following letter from mrs. Bishop to every nuh is unpardonable Upton castle July third 1792 he Charles informs me to that mrs. Wollstonecraft is grown quite handsome he adds likewise that being conscious she is on the wrong side of 30 she now endeavours to set off those charms she once despised to the best advantage this aunt anew for he is delighted with her affection and kindness to him so the author of the rights of women is going to France I dare say her chief motive is to promote poor Bess's comfort or thine my girl or at least I think she will so reason well in spite of reason when Mrs W reaches the continent she will be but a woman I cannot help painting her in the height of all her wishes at the very summit of happiness for will not ambition fill every chink of her great soul for such I really think hers that is not occupied by love after having drawn this sketch you can hardly suppose me so sanguine as to expect my pretty face will be thought of when matters of state are an agitation yet i think you know such a miracle not impossible i wish i could think it at all probable but alas it has so much the appearance of castle building that i think it will soon disappear like the baseless fabric of a vision and leave not a rack behind and you actually have the vanity to imagine that in the National Assembly personages like em and fusilli will bestow a thought on two females whom nature meant to suckle fools and chronicle small beer only a few days before Mary had written to ever Ryan to discuss with her a matter relative to mrs. bishops prospects this letter explains the illusions of the latter two Mary's proposed trip to France and shows how little reason she had for her ill-natured conclusions London June twentieth 1792 I have been considering what you say respecting Eliza's residents in France for some time past mr. and mrs. fusilli mr. Johnson and myself have talked of a summer excursion to Paris it is now determined on and we think of going in about six weeks I shall be introduced to many people my book has been translated and praised in some popular prints and mr. fusilli of course is well known it is then very probable that i shall hear of some situation for Eliza and I shall be on the watch we intend to be absent only six weeks if then I fix on an eligible situation for her she may avoid the Welsh winter this journey will not lead me into any extraordinary expense or I should put it off to a more convenient season for I am NOT as you may suppose very flush of money and Charles is wearing out the clothes which were provided for his voyage still I am glad he has acquired a little practical knowledge of farming the French trip was however put off until the following December and when the time came for her departure neither mr. Johnson nor the fu's Ellie's accompanied her since the disaffection of the latter has been construed in a way which reflects upon Mary's character it is necessary to pause here to consider the nature of the friendship which existed between them the shadow unfairly cast upon her reputation must be dissipated Mary valued fuselli as one of her dearest friends he liked her was an enthusiast he was a warm partisan of justice and a rebel against established institutions he would take any steps to see that the rights of the individual were respected his interference in a case where men in subordinate positions were defrauded by those in authority but which did not affect him personally was the cause of his being compelled to leave souris his home and thus eventually of his coming to England besides their unity of thought and feeling their work often lay in the same direction who's Ellie as well as Mary translated for Johnson and contributed to the analytical review he was an intimate friend of lava ter whose work on physiognomy Mary had translated with the liveliest interest there was thus a strong bond of sympathy between them and many ways in which they could help and consult with each other in their literary tasks Mary was devoid of the coquetry which is so strong with some women that they carry it even into their friendships she never attempted to conceal her liking for Fazeli his sex was no drawback why should it be it had not interfered with her warm feelings for George blood or mr. Johnson she was the last person in the world to be deterred from what she thought was right for the sake of appearances however another construction was given to her friendly demonstrations the story told both by Knowles the biographer of fuseli and by Godwin is that Mary was in love with the artist and that the necessity of suppressing even if she could not destroy her passion hopeless since its object was a married man was the immediate reason of her going to France alone but they interpret the circumstances very differently the incidents as given by Godwin are in no wise to Mary's discredit though his account of them was later on twisted and distorted by below in his sexagenarian the latter writer however is so prejudiced that his words have but little value Godwin in the memoirs after demonstrating these strengths of the intimacy between Mary and Fazeli says notwithstanding the inequality of their years Mary was not of a temper to live upon terms of so much intimacy with a man of merit and genius without loving him the delight she enjoyed in his society she transferred by association to his person what she experienced in this respect was no doubt heightened by the state of celibacy and restraint in which she had hitherto lived and to which the rules of polished society condemn an unmarried woman she conceived a personal and ardent affection for him mr. Fazeli was a married man and his wife the acquaintance of Mary she readily perceived the restrictions which this circumstance seemed to impose upon her but she made light of any difficulty that might arise out of them not that she was insensible to the value of domestic endearments between persons of an opposite sex but that she scorned to suppose that she could feel a struggle in conforming to the laws she should lay down to her conduct there is no reason to doubt that if mr. fuseli had been disengaged at the period of their acquaintance he would have been the man of her choice one of her principal inducements to this step her visit to France related I believe to mr. fuseli she had at first considered it as a reasonable and judicious to cultivate what I may be permitted to call a platonic affection for him but she did not in the sequel find all the satisfaction in this plan which she had originally expected from it it was in vain that she enjoyed much pleasure in his society and that she enjoyed it free Lee her ardent imagination was continually conjuring up pictures of the happiness she should have found if fortune had favoured they're more intimate union she felt herself formed for domestic affection and all those tender charities which men of sensibility have constantly treated as the dearest bond of human society general conversation and society could not satisfy her she felt herself alone as it were in the great mass of her species and she repined when she reflected that the best years of her life were spent in this comfortless solitude these ideas made the cordial intercourse of mr. fuseli which had at first been one of her greatest pleasures a source of perpetual torment to her she conceived it necessary to snap the chain of this association in her mind and for that purpose determined to seek a new climate and mingle in different scenes mr. Keegan Palmieri's able defender of modern times denies the whole story he writes in his private ori memoirs to her letters to inlay godwin new extremely little of his wife's earlier life nor was this a subject on which he had sought enlightenment from herself I can only hearsay that I failed to find any confirmation whatever of this preposterous story as told in Noel's life of Fazeli or in any other form while I find much which makes directly against it the strongest fact being that Mary remained to the end the correspondent and close friend of mrs. fusilli her character is the best refutation of Noel's charges she was too proud to demean herself to any man she was too sensitive to slights to risk the repulses he says she accepted instance always before and after this period she had nothing more at heart than the happiness of others it is not likely that she would have deliberately tried to step in between fuselli and his wife and gain at the latter's expense her own ends she could not have changed her character in a day she never played fast and loose with her principles these were in many ways contrary to the standard of the rest of mankind but they were also equally opposed to the conduct imputed to her the testimony of her actions is her acquittal that she did not for a year produce any work of importance is no argument against her it was only after three years of uninterruptedly that she found time to write the rights of women on account of the urgency of her everyday needs she had no leisure for work whose financial success was uncertain however this may have been it is certain that mr. Johnson and the fazolis decided to remain at home when Mary in December started for Paris the excitement in the French capital was then at fever heat but the outside world hardly comprehended how serious the troubles were princes and their adherence trembled at the blow given to royalty in the person of Louis the sixteenth liberals rejoiced at the successful revolt against monarchical tyranny but neither one party nor the other for a moment for saw what a terrible weapon reform was to become in the hands of the excitable French people if in the city where the tragedy was being enacted the customary baking and brewing the prom innate endure the trees and dog dancing and the shoe blacking on the Pont Neuf could still continue it is not strange that those who watched it from a bar mistook its real weight the terrible night of the 10th of August had come and gone the sep tember massacres the details of which had not yet reached England were over the jihadists were in the ascendancy and had restored order there were fears contentions in the National Convention but on the whole its attitude was one to inspire confidence the English who saw in the arrest of the king and in the popular feeling against him just such a crisis as their nation had passed through once or twice were not deterred from visiting the country by its unsettled state the French prejudiced against England it is true was strong Lafayette had some time before publicly expressed his belief that she was secretly conspiring against the peace of France but his imputation had been vigorously denied and nominally the two governments were friendly English citizens had no reason to suppose that they would not be safe in Paris and those among them whose opinions brought them on rapport with the French Republicans felt doubly secure consequently Mary's departure for that capital alone and unprotected did not seem so hazardous then as it does now that the true condition of affairs is better understood she knew in Paris a Madame foodie Tia daughter of Madame barragan's at whose school in Putney Eliza and ever on ahead been teachers and to her house she went by invitation Monsieur and Madame felita were absent and she was for some time its sole occupant saved the servants the object of her visit was twofold she wished to study French for though she could read and translate this language fluently from want of practice she could neither speak nor understand it when it was spoken and she also desired to watch for herself the of the cause of freedom their love of liberty had made the French as a nation peculiarly attractive to her she had long since openly about her sympathy by her indignant reply to Burke's outcry against them it was now a great satisfaction to be where she could follow day by day the progress of their struggle she had excellent opportunities not only to see what was on the service of society which is all visitors to a strange land can usually do but to study the actual forces at work in the movement Thomas Paine was then in Paris he was a member of the National Convention and was on terms of intimacy with condo say Billy so madam hollow and other Republican leaders Mary had known him well in London she now renewed the acquaintance and was always welcome to his house near the Rue de leche Lea later when worn out by his numerous visitors he retired to the full parks and Annie to a hotel where Madame de Pompadour had once lived and allowed it to be generally believed that he had gone into the country for his health Mary was one of the few favorite friends who knew of his whereabouts she thus through him was brought into close contact with the leading spirits of the day she also saw much of hell and Maria Williams the poetess already notorious for her extreme liberalism and who had numerous friends and acquaintances among the revolutionary party in Paris mrs. Christie was still another friend of this period her husband's business having kept them in France they had become thoroughly nationalized at their house many Americans congregated among others a captain Gilbert imlay of whom more Hereafter in addition to these English friends Mary had letters of introduction to several prominent French citizens she arrived in Paris just before Louis the sixteenth trial the city was comparatively quiet but there was in the air and oppression which betokened the coming storm she felt the people suspense as if she too had been personally interested between her studies and her efforts to obtain the proper clue by which she could in her own mind reduce the present political chaos to order she found more than enough wherewith to fill her days as always happened with her the mental strain reacted upon her physical health and her old enemies depression of spirits and headaches returned to harass her she wrote to every nuh on the twenty-fourth of December tomorrow I expect to see a lean madam aletheia during her absence the servants endeavor to render the house a most excellent one comfortable to me but as I wish to acquire the language as fast as I can I am sorry to be obliged to remain so much alone I apply so closely to the language and labor so continually to understand what I hear that I never go to bed without a headache and my spirits are fatigued with endeavoring to form a just opinion of public affairs the day after tomorrow I expect to see the King at the bar and the consequences that will follow I am almost afraid to anticipate I have seen very little of Paris the streets are so dirty and I wait till i can make myself understood before I call upon madame la home and etc miss Williams has behaved very civilly to me and I shall visit her frequently because I rather like her and I meet French company at her house her manners are affected yet the simple goodness of her heart continually breaks through the varnish so that one would be more inclined at least I should to love than admire her authorship is a we wait for female shoulders especially in the sunshine of prosperity of the French I will not speak till I know more of them they seem the people of all others for a stranger to come amongst yet sometimes when I have given a commission which was eagerly asked for it has not been executed and when I asked for an explanation i allude to the servant made a quick girl who ant please you has been a teacher in an English boarding school dust is thrown up with a self sufficient air and I am obliged to appear to see her meaning clearly though she puzzles herself that I may not make her feel her ignorance but you must have experienced the same thing I will write to you soon again meanwhile let me hear from you and believe me yours sincerely and affectionately MW when the dreaded 26th came there was no one in Paris more excited and interested than Mary from her window she saw the King as he rolled by with calm dignity to his trial throughout the entire day she waited anxiously uncertain as to what would be the effects of the mornings proceedings then when evening came and all continued quiet and the danger was over she grew nervous and fearful as she had that other memorable night when she kept her vigil in the little room at Hackney she was absolutely alone with her thoughts and it was a relief to write to mr. Johnson it gave her a sense of companionship this hyena and petticoats this philosophizing serpent was at heart as feminine as hannah more or any other excellent woman Paris December 26 1792 I should immediately on the receipt of your letter my dear friend have thanked you for your punctuality for it highly gratified me had I not wish to wait till I could tell you that this day was not stained with blood indeed the prudent precautions taken by the National Convention to prevent a tumult made me suppose that the dogs of faction would not dare to bark much less to bite however true to their scent and I was not mistaken for the citizens who were all called out our returning home with composed countenances shouldering their arms about nine o'clock this morning the King passed by my window moving silently along accepting now and then a few strokes on the drum which rendered the stillness more awful through empty streets surrounded by the national guards who clustering around the carriage seemed to deserve their name the inhabitants flocked to their windows but the casements were all shut not a voice was heard nor did I see anything like an insulting gesture for the first time since i entered france i bowed to the majesty of the people and respected the propriety of behavior so perfectly in unison with my own feelings I can scarcely tell you why but an association of ideas made the tears flow insensibly from my eyes when I saw Louis sitting with more dignity than I expected from his character in a hackney-coach going to meet death where so many of his race have triumphed my fancy instantly brought Louie the 14th before me entering the Capitol with all his pomp after one of the victories most flattering to his pride only to see the sunshine of prosperity overshadowed by the sublime gloom of misery I have been alone ever since and though my mind is calm I cannot dismiss the lively images that have filled my imagination all the day nay do not smile but pity me for once or twice lifting my eyes from the paper i have seen eyes glare through a glass door opposite my chair and bloody hands shook at me not the distant sound of a footstep can I here my apartments are remote from those of the servants the only persons who sleep with me in an immense hotel one folding door opening after another I wish I had even the cat with me I want to see something alive death in so many frightful shapes has taken hold of my fancy and for the first time in my life I cannot put out the candle MW these imaginary terrorists gave way to real one soon enough the execution of Louis was followed by the declaration of war between France and England and the complete demoralization of the French people especially of the Parisians the feeling against England grew daily more bitter and the position of English residents in Paris more precarious it was next to impossible for them to send letters home and therefore their danger was not realized by their countrymen on the other side of the channel mrs. bishop in the faraway Welsh castle grew impatient at Mary's silence politics was a subject dear to her heart but one tabooed at upton at her first word upon the topic the family her employers left the room and she was consequently obliged to ignore it when she was with them but when some months later two or three French refugees came to Pembroke she was quick to go to them ostensibly for French lessons but in reality to hear their accounts of the scenes through which they had passed forced to live in quiet remote places she longed for the excitement only to be had in the large centers of action in at one time in her discontent began to make plans to join her sister in France while Eliza was thus contemplating a journey to pair Mary was wondering how it would be possible either to continue living there or to leave the country it was equally out of the question to obtain fresh supplies of money from England or a passport to carry her safely back she had when she left London only intended to be absent for a few weeks and had not even given up her rooms in George Street but the weeks had lengthened into months and now her return was an impossibility for motives of economy she left the large Feeley 8i mansion at first she thought of making a trip to Switzerland but this plan had to be abandoned because of the difficulty in obtaining a passport she therefore went to New ye where her ready money well nigh exhausted she lived as simple as she could economy was doubly necessary at a time when heavy taxes were sending a hungry multitude into the streets clamoring for bread she was now more alone than ever her soul attendant was an old man a gardener he became her warm friend succumbing completely to her power of attraction with the gallantry of his race he could not do enough for Madame he waited upon her with unremitting attention he even disputed for the honor of making her bed he served up at her table unasked the grapes from his garden which he absolutely refused to give to her guests he objected to her English independence her lonely walks through the woods of New yi met with his serious disapproval and hepa sought her to allow him the privilege of accompanying her painting in awful colors the robbers and other dangers with which the place abounded but Mary persisted in going alone and when evening after evening she returned unharmed it must have seemed to him as if she bore a charmed life such as these show better than volumes of praise the true kindly pneus of her nature which was not influenced by distinctions of rank those who knew her but by name however dealt with her in less gentle fashion her fame had been carried even into Pembroke and while she was living her solitary and inoffensive life in Paris mrs. Bishop was writing to every nuh the conversation at upton castle turns on Murphy on Irish potatoes or Tommy Paine whose effigy they burnt at Pembroke the other day nay they talked of immortalizing miss Wollstonecraft in like manner but all end in damning all politics what good will they do men and what rights have men that three meals a day will not supply after all perhaps they were wise these Welshman were not their brethren in France purchasing their rights literally at the price of their three meals a day sometimes perhaps to please her friend the gardener instead of her rambles through the woods Mary walked towards and even into Paris and then she saw sites which made Pembroke logic seem true wisdom and freedom a farce once in so doing she passed by chance a place of execution just at the close of one of its too frequent tragic scenes the blood was still fresh upon the pavement the crowd of lookers on not yet dispersed she heard them as they stood there he herzing the day's horror and she chafed against the cruelty and inhumanity of the deed in a moment her French so improved that she could make herself understood she was telling the people near her something of what she thought of their new tyrants those were dangerous times for freedom of speech so far the champions of Liberty had proved themselves more inexorable masters than the berbil some of the bystanders who though they dared not speak their minds sympathized with Mary's indignation warned her of her danger and hurried her away from the spot horror at the ferocity of men's passions wrath and injustice as committed in the name of freedom and impatience at her own helplessness to write the evils by which she was surrounded no doubt inspired her as saddened and sobered she walked back alone to Nooyi during all this time she continued her literary work she proposed to write a series of letters upon the present character of the French nation and with this end in view she silently studied the people and the course of political action she was quick and observant and nothing escaped her notice she came to Paris prepared to continue a firm partisan of the French Revolution but she could not be blind to the national defects she saw the frivolity and sensuality of the people their hunger for all things sweet and the unrestrained passions of the greater number of the Republican leaders which made them love Liberty more than law itself she valued their cause but she despised the means by which they sought to gain it thus in laboring to grasp the meaning of the movement not as it appeared to petty factions but as it was as a whole she was confronted by the greatest of all mysteries the relation of good and evil again as when she had analyzed the rights of women she recognized evil to be a power which eventually works for righteousness thereby proving the clearness of her mental vision only one of these letters however was written and published it was dated februari fifteenth 1793 so that the opinions therein expressed were not hastily formed as its style is that of a familiar letter and as it gives a good idea of the thoroughness with which she had applied herself to her task it may appropriately Italy be quoted from here she writes the whole mode of life here tens indeed to render the people frivolous and to borrow their favorite epithet amiable ever on the wing they are always sipping the sparkling joy on the brim of the cup leaving satiety in the bottom for those who venture to drink deep on all sides they trip along buoyed up by animal spirits and seemingly so void of care that often when I am walking on the boulevards it occurs to me that they alone understand the true import of the term leisure and they trifle their time away with such an air of contentment I know not how to wish them wiser at the expense of gaiety they play before me like motes and a sunbeam enjoying the passing ray whilst in English head searching for more solid happiness losses in the analysis of pleasure the volatile sweets of a moment there chief enjoyment it is true rises from vanity but it is not the vanity that engenders vexation of spirit on the contrary it lightens the heavy burdens of life which reason too often ways merely to shift from one shoulder to the other before I came to France I cherished you know an opinion that strong virtues might exist with the polished manners produced by the progress of a civilization and I even anticipated the epoch when in the course of improvement men would labour to become virtuous without being goaded on by misery but now the perspective of the Golden Age fading before the attentive I of observation almost eludes my sight and losing thus in part my theory of a more perfect state start not my friend if I bring forward an opinion which at the first glance seems to be levelled against the existence of god I am NOT become an atheist I assure you by residing at Paris yet I begin to fear the device or if you will evil is the Grand mobile of action and that when the passions are justly poised we become harmless and in the same proportion useless you may think it too soon to form an opinion of the future government yet it is impossible to avoid hazarding some conjectures when everything whispers me that names not principles are changed and when I see that the turn of the tide has left the dregs of the old system to corrupt the new for the same pride of office the same desire of power are still visible with this aggravation that fearing to return to obscurity after having but just acquired a relish for distinction each hero or philosopher for all are dubbed with these new titles endeavors to make hay while the Sun shines and every petty municipal officer become the idol or rather the tyrant of the day stalks like a on a dunghill the letters were discontinued probably because Mary thought letter rising too easy and familiar a style in which to treat so weighty a subject she only gave up the one work however to undertake another still more ambitious at knew ye she began and wrote almost all that was ever finished of her historical and moral view of the French Revolution while she was thus living the quiet life of a student in the midst of excitement her own affairs as well as those of France were hastening to a crisis end of chapter 7 chapter 8 of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin by Elizabeth Robbins Pennell this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by pamela nogami life with my 1793 to 1794 while Mary was living at Nooyi the terrors of the French Revolution growing daily greater she took a step to which she was prompted by pure motives but which has left a blot upon her fair name the outcry raised by her vindication of the rights of women has ceased since it's theories have found so many champions but that which followed her assertion of her individual rights has never yet then hushed mr. kegan paul speaks the truth when he says the name of mary wollstonecraft has long been a mark of habla kweon scorn and the least that can be done to clear her memory of stains is to stay Tim partially the facts of her case as has been said in the previous chapter Mary often spent her free hours with mrs. Christie and at her house she met captain gilbert m li he was one of the many Americans than living in Paris was an attractive man personally and by his position and abilities entitled to respect he had taken an active part in the American rebellion having then risen to the rank of captain and after the war had been sent as commissioner to survey still unsettled districts of the western states on his return from his work he wrote a topographical description of the western territory of north america which is remarkable for its thoroughness and it's clear condensed style it passed through several additions and increased his reputation his business and France is not very explicitly explained his headquarters seemed to have been at of while he had certain commercial relations with Norway and Sweden he was most probably in the timber trade and was at least in this period successful Godwin says that he had no property whatever but his speculations apparently brought in plenty of ready money foreigners in Paris especially Americans in English were naturally drawn together Marianne imlay had mutual acquaintances and they saw much of each other his Republican sentiments alone would have appealed to her but the better she learned to know him the more she liked him personally he on his side was equally attracted and his kindness and consideration for her were greatly in his favor their affection in the end developed into a feeling stronger than mere friendship its consequence since both war free would under ordinary circumstances have been marriage but her circumstances just then were extraordinary Godwin says that she objected to a marriage with imlay because she did not wish to involve him in certain family embarrassments to which she conceived herself exposed or make him answerable for the pecuniary demands that existed against her there were however more formidable objections not of her own making the English who remained in Paris ran the chance from day to day of being arrested with the priests and aristocrats and even of being carried to the guillotine their only safeguard lay in obscurity they had above all else to evade the notice of the government officers Mary if she married in lay would be obliged to proclaim herself a British subject and would thus be risking imprisonment and perhaps death besides it was very doubtful whether a marriage ceremony performed by the French authorities would be recognized in England as valid to marry however this did not seem an insurmountable obstacle to their union her view had now become mr. kegan paul says that mutual affection was marriage and that the marriage tie should not bind after the death of love if love should die in her vindication she had upheld the sanctity of marriage because she believed that the welfare of society depends upon the order maintained in family relations but her belief also was that the form the law demands is nothing the feeling which leads those concerned to desire it everything what she had hitherto seen of married life as at present instituted was not calculated to make her think highly of it her mother and her friends mother had led the various dogs lives because the law would not permit them to leave brutal and sensual husbands whom they had ceased to honor or love her sister had been driven mad by the ill treatment of a man to whom she was bound by legal but not by natural ties probably in London other cases had come within her notice love was the one unimportant element in the marriage compact the artificial tone of society had disgusted all the more earnest thinkers of the day the one extreme to which existing evils were carried drove reformers to the other Mary reasoned in the same spirit as they did and from no desire to uphold the doctrine of free love fearless in her practice as in her theories she did not hesitate in this emergency to act in a way that seemed to her conscience right she loved him lay honestly and sincerely but because she loved him she could not think evil of him nor suppose for a moment that his passion was not as pure and true as hers therefore she consented to live with him as his wife though no religious North civil ceremony could sanction their union that this according to the world standard was wrong is a fact beyond dispute but before the first stones are thrown the pros as well as the cons must be remembered if Mary had held the conventional beliefs as to the relations of the sexes she would be judged by them had she thought her action with em lay criminal then she would be condemned by her own conviction but she did not think so moreover her opinions to the contrary were very decided when she gave herself to em lay without waiting for he ministers blessing or illegal permit she acted in strict adherence to her moral ideas and this at once places her in a far different rank from that of the mrs. Robinson's and mrs. Jordans with whom men have been too ready to class her to marry loved was literally her whole existence and fidelity a virtue to be cultivated above all others Mary Wollstonecraft might rely upon her friends and acquaintances for recognition of her virtue but she should have remembered that to the world at large her conduct would appear immoral that by it she would become a pariah in society and her work lose much of its efficacy while she would be giving to her children if she had any and inheritance of shame that would cling to them forever she may probably have realized this drawback and determined to avoid the evil consequences of her defiance to social usages for the first few months it seems that she kept her intimacy with inlay secret and she may have intended concealing it until such time as she could make it legal in the eyes of the world godwin dates its beginning in april 1793 the only information in this respect is to be had from her published letters to em lay the first of which was written in June of the same year though it must be added mr. kegan paul queries the date this and the following note dated august proved the secrecy she had for a time to maintained the latter seems to have been written after she had determined to live openly with imlay in paris but just before she carried her determination into practice past twelve o'clock monday night I obey an emotion of my heart which made me think of wishing thee my love good night before I go to rest with more tenderness than i can tomorrow when writing a hasty line or two under Colonel blanks I you can scarcely imagine with what pleasure i anticipate the day when we are to begin almost to live together and you would smile to hear how many plans of employment i have in my head now that i am confident my heart has found peace in your bosom cherish me with that dignified tenderness which i have only found in you and your own dear girl will try to keep under a quickness of feeling that is sometimes given you pain yes i will be good that i may deserve to be happy and why you love me i cannot again fall into the miserable state which rendered life a burden almost too heavy to be borne but goodnight god bless you i will be at the barrier a little after ten o'clock tomorrow the reason for this step was probably the fact that it was not safe to her to continue in Paris alone and unprotected the robbers in the woods at nou ye might be laughed at but the red-capped seat y-yeah and cyn drunk from the first drop of aristocratic blood were no old man's dangers the peril of the english in the city increased with every new development of the struggle but americans were looked upon as staunch brother citizens and a man who had fought for the American Republic was esteemed as the friend and honored guest of the French Republic as inlays wife Mary safety would therefore be assured the murderous greed of the people to break out in September in the law of the suspect was already felt in August and at the end of that month she sought protection under em lays roof and shielded herself by his name she could not at once judge of the manner in which this expedient would be received it was impossible to hold an communication with England for 18 months after her letter to mr. Johnson not a word from her reached her friends at home as for those in Paris so intense was the great human tragedy of which they were the witnesses that they probably forgot to gossip about each other the crimes and horrors that stared them in the face were so appalling that desire to seek out imaginary ones in their neighbors was lost as far as can be known from Mary's letters her connection with inlay did not take from her the position she had held in the English colony no door was closed against her no scandal was spread about her the truth is these people must have understood her difficulties as well as she did they knew the impossibility of a legal ceremony and the importance in her case of an immediate union and understanding this they seemed to have considered her inlays wife at least the rumors which months afterwards came to her sisters treated her marriage as a certainty Charles Wollstonecraft now settled in Philadelphia wrote on june sixteenth 1794 to Eliza a year after Marion imlay had begun their joint life I heard for Mary six months ago by a gentleman who knew her at Paris and since that have been informed she is married to Captain em lai of this country the same report had found its way to mr. Johnson and through him again to mrs. bishop it was hard to doubt its truth and yet mrs. Bishop knew as well if not better than anyone Mary's views about marriage she had happily for herself reaped the benefit of them in her surprise she sent Charles's letters to every nuh accompanied by her own reflections upon the startling news the only record of Mary's connection with imlay which lasted for about two years are the letters which she wrote to him while he was away from her his absences being frequent and long fortunately these letters have been preserved they were published by God when almost immediately after her death and were republished in 1879 by mr. kegan paul they are says god when the offspring of a glowing imagination and a heart penetrated with the passion it essays to describe she was 35 when she met em lay her passion for him was strong with the strength of full womanhood nor had it been weakened by the flirtations in which so many women fritter away whatever deep feeling they may have originally possessed her letters contain the unreserved expression of her feelings though was written before she had cause to doubt her lover are full of wifely devotion and tenderness those written from the time she was forced to question his sincerity through the gradual realization of his faithlessness until the bitter end are the most pathetic and heart-rending that have ever been given to the world they are the cry of a human soul in its death agony and are the more tragic because they belong to real life and not to fiction inlays love was to marry what the kiss of the prince was to Sleeping Beauty in a fairy tale it awakened her heart to happiness leading her into that new world which is the old hitherto the love which had been her portion was that which she had sought in the pity of others whoa in the gentle relief of another's care and yet she had always believed that the pure passion which a man gives to a woman as the greatest good in life that she was without it had been to her a heavier trial than an unhappy home and overwhelming debts now when she least expected it it had come to her while women in Paris were either trembling with fear for what the morrow might bring forth or else caught in the feverish whirl of rebellion one at least had found rest human happiness can never be quite perfect sensitiveness was a family fault with the wilson crafts it had been developed rather than suppressed and married by her circumstances she was therefore keenly susceptible not only to em lay his love but to his failings of these he had not a few he does not seem to have been a refined man from some remarks and Mary's letters that may be concluded that he added one time been very dissipated and that the society of course men and women had blunted his finer instincts his faults were peculiarly calculated to offend her his passion had to be stimulated his business called him away often and his absences were unmistakeably necessary to the maintenance of his devotion the sunshine of her new life was therefore not entirely unclouded she was by degrees obliged to lower the high pedestal on which she had placed her lover and to admit to herself that he was not much above the level of ordinary men this discovery did not lessen her affection though it made her occasionally melancholy but she was on the whole happy in September he was compelled to leave her to go to Avila where he was detained for several months love had cast out all fear from her heart she was certain that he considered himself in every sense of the word her husband and therefore during his absence she frankly told him how much she missed him and in her letters shared her troubles and pleasures with him she wrote the last thing at night to tell him of her love and her loneliness she could not take his slippers from their old place by the door she would not look at a package of books sent to her but said she would keep them until he could read them to her while she was mending her stockings she drew pictures of the happy days to come when in the farm either in America or France to which they both looked forward as their ultimate uli they would spend long evenings by their fireside perhaps with children about their knees if Eliza sent her a worrying letter half the worry was gone when she had confided it to him if Nair do weel Charles temporarily prosperous or promising to be so wrote her one that pleased her straight way she described the delight with which he would make a friend of em lai when the latter had been away but a short time she found that there was to be a new tie between them as the father of her unborn child he became doubly dear to her while the consciousness that another life depended upon her made her more careful of her health this thought she told him has not only produced an overflowing of tenderness to you but made me very attentive to calm my mind and take exercise lest I should destroy an object in which we are to have a mutual interest you know as mr. kegan paul says no one can read her letters without seeing that she was a pure high-minded and refined woman and that she considers herself in the eyes of God and man his wife during the first part of his absence him lay appears to a fin as devoted as she could have wished him to be when her letters to him did not come regularly as indeed how could they in those troubled days he grew impatient his impatience Mary greeted as a good sign the business at avila apparently could not be easily settled the date of emily's returned became more and more uncertain and Mary grew restless at his prolonged stay this she let him know soon enough she was not a silent heroine willing to let concealment prey on her spirits it was as impossible for her to smile at grief as it was to remain unconscious of her lover's shortcomings her first complaints however were half playful half serious they were inspired by her desire to see him more than by any misgiving as to the cause of his detention on the twenty-ninth of December she wrote you seem to have taken up your abode at IVA pray sir when do you think of coming home or to write very considerately when will business permit you I shall expect as the country people say in England that you will make a power of money to indemnify me for your absence well but my love to the old story am I to see you this week or this month I do not ask what you are about 4 as you did not tell me I would not ask mr. blank who is generally pretty communicative but the playfulness quickly disappeared Mary was ill and her illness aggravated her normal sensitiveness while the terrible death drama of the Revolution was calculated to deepened rather than to relieve her gloom inlays answers to her letters were kind and reassuring and contained ample explanation of his apparent coldness to give him the benefit of the doubt he was probably at this time truthful in pleading business as an excuse for his long absence his reasons at all events not only satisfied Mary but made her ashamed of what seemed to her a want of faith in him she was as humble in her penitence as if she had been grievously at fault as it continued impossible for em lai to leave Avila it was arranged that Mary should join him there she could not go at once on account of her health well she had been so unhappy she had neglected to take that care of herself which her condition necessitated and she was suffering the consequences once her mind was at rest she made what amends she could buy exercise in the bracing winter air in defiance of dirt and intense cold and by social relaxation at least such as could be held while the guillotine was executing daily tasks to the tune of sigh you ha and women were madly turning in the mazes of the car manual though she could not boast of being quite heard she was soon able to report to em lai I am so lightsome that I think it will not go badly with me her health sufficiently restored and an escort the excited condition of the country making one more than usually indispensable having been found she began her welcome journey it was doubly welcome one could breathe more freely away from Paris the seat of the reign of terror where the revolution as VIN yo said was Saturn like devouring its own children and for Mary the journey had likewise the positive pleasure of giving her her heart's desire before em lays warm assurances of his love her uneasiness melted away as quickly as the snow at the first breath of spring she arrived in Avila in the februari of 1794 about a fortnight later imlay left for Paris but many proofs of his affection had greeted her and during these few days he had completely calmed her fears judging from the letters she sent him during his absence he must have been as lover like as in the first happy days of their union one was written the very day after his departure inlays absence was brief nor did he again leave Mary until the following August in April their child a daughter was born who Mary called Fanny in memory of her first and dearest friend despite her past imprudence 'as she was so well that she remained in bed but a day eight days later she was out again though she felt no ill effects at the time her rashness had probably something to do with her illness when her second child was born these months at aviva were a pleasant oasis in the dreary desert of her existence she seems to have had a house of her own a Nava and to have seen a little of the ave whom she found ugly without doubt and their houses smelling too much of Commerce they were in a word wha but her husband and her child were all the society she wanted with them any wilderness would have been a paradise her affection increased with time and inlay though discovered not to be a demigod grew ever dearer to her her love for her child which she confessed was at first the effect of a sense of duty developed soon into a deep and tender feeling with M lays wants to attend to the little Fanny at one time ill with smallpox to nurse and her book on the revolution to write the weeks and months passed quickly and happily in August inlay was summoned to Paris and at once the sky of her paradise was overcast she wrote to him you too have somehow clung round my heart I found I could not eat my dinner in the great room and when I took up the large knife to carve for myself tears rushed into my eyes do not however suppose that I am melancholy for when you are from me I not only wonder how I can find fault with you but how I can doubt your affection end of chapter eight chapter nine of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin by Elizabeth Robbins Pennell this LibriVox recording is in the public domain recording by Pamela nogami mblaze desertion 1794 to 1795 unfortunately as a rule the traveler on life's journey has but as short a time to stay in the pleasant green resting places as the wanderer through the desert in September Mary followed em lai to Paris but before the end of the month he had bidden her farewell and had gone to London against the fascination of money making her charms had little chance his estrangement dates from this separation when Mary met him again he had forgotten love and honor and had virtually deserted her while her affection became stronger he is weakened until finally it perished all together her confidence in him however was confirmed by the months spent at Avila and she little dreamed his departure was the prelude to their final parting for a time she was lighter hearted than she had ever been before while he was away the memory of her late happiness reassured her her little girl was an unceasing source of joy and she never tired of writing to em lay about her her maternal tenderness overflows in her letters she said in one of them not doubting his interest to be as great as hers you will want to be told over and over again that our little Hercules is quite recovered besides looking at me there are three other things which delight her to ride in a coach to look at a scarlet Wescott and hear loud music yesterday at the fete she enjoyed the two latter but to honor JJ rousseau I intend to give her a sash the first she has ever had round her in a second she writes I have been playing and laughing with the little girl so long that I cannot take up my pen to address you without emotion pressing her to my bosom she looked so like you Entre Nous your best looks for I do not admire your commercial face every nerve seemed to vibrate to her touch and I began to think that there was something in the assertion of man and wife being one for you seemed to pervade my whole frame quickening the beat of my heart and lending me the sympathetic tears you excited as the devout go to pilgrimage to places once sanctified by the presence of a departed saint so she visited alone the haunts of the early days of their love living over again the incidents which had made them sacred my imagination she wrote to him chooses to ramble back to the barrier with you or to see you coming to meet me in my basket of grapes with what pleasure do I recollect your looks and words when I have been sitting on the window regarding the waving corn she begged him to bring back his barrier face as she does fondly recall their interviews at the barrier she told him of a night passed at San German in the very room which had once been theirs and glowing with these recollections she warned him that if he should return changed in aught she would fly from him to cherish remembrances which must be ever dear to her occasionally a little humorous pleasantry interrupted the more tender outpourings in her letters on the twenty-sixth of october inlay having now been absent for over a month she writes I have almost charmed a judge of the tribunal our who though I should not have thought it possible has humanity if not beaucoup des Polly but let me tell you if you do not make haste back I shall be half in love with the author of the Marseillaise who is a handsome man a little too broad face torso and plays sweetly on the violin what do you say to this threat why Anton ooh I like to give way to a sprightly vain when writing to you the devil you know his proverbially said to be in a good humor when he is pleased many of her old friends in the capital had been numbered among the children devoured by the insatiable monster a few however were still left and she seems to have made new ones and to have again gone into Parisian Society the condition of affairs was more conducive to social pleasures than it had been the year before robes Pierre was dead there were others besides Mary who feared the last flap of the tail of the beast but as a rule the people now action had come were overconfident and the season was one of merrymaking there were faites and balls even mourning for the dead became the signal for rejoicing and gay Parisians their arms tied with crepe danced to the memory of the victims of the late national delirium the reign of terror was over but so was Mary's happiness Public Order was partly restored but her own short-lived peace was rudely interrupted in lay in London became more absorbed in his immediate affairs a fact which he could not conceal in his letters and Mary realized that compared to business she was of little or no importance to him she expostulated earnestly with him on the folly of allowing money cares and ambitions to preoccupy him she sincerely sympathized with him and his disappointments but she could not understand his willingness to sacrifice sentiment and affection too sordid cares it appears to me absurd she told him to waste life and preparing to live but by degrees the dark shades increased until they had completely blotted out the light made by the past inlays letters were fewer and shorter more taken up with business and less concerned with her Archie to endure his indifference or ought she to separate from him forever was the question which now tortured her she had tasted the higher pleasures and the present pain was intense in proportion her letters became mournful as dirges once but only once the light shone again on the fifteenth of January she received a kind letter from em lay and her anger died away it is pleasant to forgive those we love she said to him simply but it was followed by his usual hasty business notes or by complete silence and henceforward she knew hope only by name her old habit of seeing everything from the dark side returned she could not find one redeeming point in his conduct this bear seized her soul other discomforts contributed their share to her burden a severe cold had settled upon her lungs and she imagined she was in a galloping consumption her lodgings were not very convenient but she had put up with them waiting day by day for EM lays return weary of her life as job was of his she liked him speak out in the bitterness of her soul her letters from this time on are written from the very valley of the shadow of death grief sometimes makes men strong Mary's stimulated her into a determination to break her connection with imlay and to live for her child alone she would remain in Paris and superintend Fannie's education she had already been able to labor for herself and there was no reason why she should not do it again until she settled upon the means of support to be adopted she would borrow money from her friends anything was better than to live at em lays expense as for him such a course would probably be a relief and certainly it would do him no harm as I never concealed the nature of my connection with you she wrote to him your reputation will not suffer but her plans for some reason did not meet with his approval he was tired of her and yet he seems to have been ashamed to confess his inconstancy at one moment he wrote that he was coming to Paris at the next he bade her meet him in London but no mention was made of the farm in America the excitement of Commerce proved more alluring than the piece of country life his shilly-shallying unnerved Mary positive desertion would have been easier to bear the child was now the strongest bond of union between them for her sake she felt the necessity of continuing to live with imlay as long as possible though his love was dead therefore when he wrote definitely that he would like her to come to him since he could not leave his business to go to her she relinquished her intentions of remaining alone in France with Fanny and set out at once for London she could hardly have passed through Avila without feeling the bitter contrast between her happiness of the year before and her present hopelessness I sit lost in thought she wrote to em lai looking at the sea and tears rush into my eyes when I find that I am cherishing any fond expectations I have indeed been so unhappy this winter I find it as difficult to acquire fresh hopes as to regain tranquillity enough of this be still foolish heart but for the little girl I could almost wish that it should cease to beat to be no more alive to the anguish of disappointment she reached london in april 1795 her gloomiest forebodings were confirmed em lai had provided a furnished house for her and had considered her comforts but his manner was changed he was cold and constrained and she felt the difference immediately he was little with her and business was as of old the excuse according to Godwin he had formed another connection with a young strolling actress life was thus even less bright in London than it had been in Paris for her there were indeed worse things waiting at the gate of life than death and she resolved by suicide to escape from them this part of her story is very obscure but it is certain that her suicidal intentions were so nearly carried into effect that she had written several letters containing her as she thought last wishes and which were to be opened after all was over there is no exact account of the manner in which she proposed to kill herself nor of the means by which she was prevented I only know Godwin says that mr. Imlay became acquainted with her purpose at a moment when he was uncertain whether or no it was already executed and that his feelings were roused by the intelligence it was perhaps owing to his activity and representations that her life was at this time saved she determined to continue to exist this event sobered both inlay and Mary they saw the danger they were in and the consequent necessity of forming a definite conclusion as to the nature of their future relations they must either live together in perfect confidence or else they must separate my friend my dear friend she wrote him examine yourself well I am out of the question for alas I am nothing and discover what you wish to do what will render you most comfortable or to be more explicit whether you desire to live with me or part forever when you can ascertain it tell me frankly I conjure you for believe me I have very involuntary interrupted your peace the determination could not be made in a hurry in the meantime Mary knew it would be unwise to remain idle meditating upon her wrongs forgetfulness of self in active work appeared the only possible means of living through the period of uncertainty him lay had business in Norway and Sweden which demanded the personal superintendence either of himself or of a trustworthy agent he gave it in charge to marry and at the end of May she started upon this mission that M lay still looked upon her as his wife and that his confidence in her was unlimited he's shown by the following document in which he authorizes her to act for him maina 19th 1795 know all men by these presents that I gilbert m lay citizen of the United States of America at present residing in London do nominate constitute and appoint marry em lay my best friend and wife to take the sole management and direction of all my affairs and business which I had placed in the hands of mr. Elias Bachmann negotiate gotten pork or in those of Monsieur me Borg and company Copenhagen desiring that she will manage and direct such concerns in such manner as she may deem most wise and prudent for which this letter shall be a sufficient power enabling her to receive all money or sums of money that may be recovered from Peter Ellison or his connections whatever may be the issue of the trial now carrying on instigated by mr. Elias Bachmann as my agent for the violation of the trust which I had reposed in his integrity considering the aggravated de-stresses the accumulated losses and the damages sustained in consequence of the set Ellison's disobedience of my injunctions I desire the said Mary m lee will clearly ascertain the amount of such damages taking first the advice of persons qualified to judge of the probability of obtaining satisfaction or the means the said Ellison or his connections who may be proved to be implicated in his guilt may have or power of being able to make restitution and then commence a new prosecution for the same accordingly respecting the cargo of goods in the hands of monsieurs me book and company mrs. imlay has only to consult the most experienced persons engaged in the disposition of such articles and then placing them at their disposal act as she may deem right and proper thus confiding in the talent seal and earnestness of my dearly beloved friend and companion I submit the management of these Affairs entirely and implus to her discretion remaining most sincerely and affectionately hers truly GM lay witness J Samuel unfortunately for Mary she was detained at Hull from which town she was to set sail for about a month she was thus unable to immediately still the memory of her sorrows it is touching to see how now that she could no longer doubt that imlay was made of common clay she began to find excuses for him she represented to herself that it was her misfortune to have met him too late had she known him before dissipation had enslaved him there could have been none of this trouble she was further more convinced that his natural refinement was not entirely destroyed and that if he would but make the effort he could overcome his grosser appetites after almost a month of inactivity the one bright spot in it being a visit to Beverly the home of her childhood she sailed for Sweden with Fanny and a maid as her only companions her letters from Sweden Norway and Denmark with the more personal passages omitted were published in a volume by themselves shortly after her return to England notice of them will find a more appropriate place in another chapter all that is necessary here is the very portion which was then suppressed but which Godwin later included with the letters to inlay the northern trip had at least this good result it's strengthened her physically she was so weak when she first arrived in Sweden that the day she landed she fell fainting to the ground as she walked to her carriage for a while everything fatigued her the bustle of the people around her seemed flat dull and unprofitable the civilities by which he was overwhelmed and the endeavors of the people she met to amuse her were fatiguing nothing for a while could lighten her deadly weight of sorrow but by degrees as her letters show she improved you ere long walks and rides on horseback rowing and bathing in days in the country had their beneficial effect and she wrote to em lay on july 4th the rosy fingers of health already streak my cheeks and i have seen a physical life in my eyes after i have been climbing the rocks that resembled the faun credulous hopes of youth but even a sound body cannot heal a broken heart Mary could not throw off her troubles in a day she after a time tried to distract her mind by entering into the amusements she had it first scorned but it was often in vain there was a change for the better however in her mental state for though her grief was not completely cured she at least voluntarily sought to recover her emotional equilibrium she had at least one pleasure that helped to soften her cares this was her love for the child which always great was increased by EM lays cruelty the tenderness which he by his indifference repulsed she now lavished upon Fanny she seemed to feel that she ought to make amends for the fact that her child was to all intents and purposes fatherless it so happened that at one time she was obliged to leave her child with a nurse for about a month business called her to tune spike in Norway and the journey would have been bad for Fanny who was cutting her teeth I felt more at leaving my child and I thought I should she wrote to Emily and whilst at night I imagined every instant that I heard the half to form sounds of her voice I asked myself how I could think of parting with her forever of leaving her thus helpless here indeed was a stronger argument against suicide than Christianity or its after shine this absence stimulated her motherly solicitude and heightened her sense of responsibility in her appeals to em lai to settle upon his future course in her regard she now began to dwell upon her child as the most important reason to keep them together he seems to have written to her regularly at times she reproached him for not letting her hear from him but at others she acknowledged the receipt of three and five letters in one morning if these had been preserved hers would not seem as important as they do now for he gave her reason to suppose that he was anxious for a reunion and wrote in a style which she told him she may have deserved but which she had not expected from him she also referred to his admission that her words tortured him and there was talk of a trip together to Switzerland but at the same time his proofs of indifference forced to declare that she and pleasure had shaken hands how often she breaks out in her agony passing through the rocks I have thought but for this child I would lay my head on one of them and never open my eyes again the only particular in which he remained firm was his unwillingness to give a final decision in what to her was the one all-important matter his vacillating behavior was heartless in the extreme her suspense became unbearable and all her letters contained in treaties for him to relieve it finally after allowing her to suffer three months of acute agony he summoned up resolution enough to tell her he would abide by her decision her business in the North had been satisfactorily settled for which she was alas to receive but poor thanks and the welfare of the child having now become the pivot of her actions she returned to England from Dover she sent him a letter informing him that she was prepared once more to make his home hers you say I must decide for myself I have decided that it was most for the interest of my little girl and for my own comfort little as i expect for us to live together and i even thought that you would be glad some years hence when the tumult business was over to repose in the society of an affectionate friend unmarked the progress of an interesting child whilst endeavoring to be of use in the circle you at last resolve to rest in for you cannot run about forever the result of this letter was that em lay and Mary tried to retie the broken thread of their domestic relations the ladder went up to London and they settled together in lodgings it would have been better for her had she never seen him again the fire of his love had burnt out no power could rekindle it his indifference was hard to bear but so long as he assured her that he had formed no other attachment she made no complaint for Fanny's sake she endured the new bitterness and found such poor comfort as she could and being with him it was but too true that the constancy of her affection was the torment of her life in spite of everything she still loved him before long however she discovered through her servants that he was basely deceiving her he was keeping up a separate establishment for a new mistress Mary following the impulse of the moment went at once to this house where she found him the particular zuv their interview are not known but her wretchedness during the night which followed maddened her his perfidy hurt her more deeply than his indifference her cup of sorrow was filled to overflowing and for the second time she made up her mind to fly from a world which held nothing but misery for her it may be concluded that for the time being she was really mad it will be remembered that troubles of a kindred nature had driven mrs. Bishop to insanity all the Wollstonecraft inherited a peculiarly excitable temperament Mary had she not lost all self-control would have been deterred from suicide as she had been from thoughts of it in Sweden by her love for Fanny but her grief was so it drowned all memory and reason the morning after this night of agony she wrote to em lai i write you now on my knees imploring you to send my child and the maid with blank to Paris to be consigned to the care of Madame blank who blank sexy on the blank should they be removed blank can give their direction I shall make no comments on your conduct or any appeal to the world let my wrongs sleep with me soon very soon I shall be at peace when you receive this my burning head will be cold I would encounter a thousand deaths rather than a night like the last your treatment has thrown my mind into a state of chaos yet I am serene I go to find comfort and my only fear is that my poor body will be insulted by an endeavor to recall my hated existence but I shall plunge into the Thames where there is the least chance of my being snatched from the death I seek god bless you may you never know by experience what you have made me endure should your sensibility ever awake remorse will find its way to your heart and in the midst of business and sensual pleasures I shall appear before you the victim of your deviation from rectitude then she left her house to seek refuge in the waters of the river she went first to Battersea bridge but it was too public for her purpose she could not risk a second frustration of her designs there was no place in London where she could be unobserved with the calmness of despair she hired a boat and rowed to Putney it was a cold foggy November day and by the time she arrived at her destination the night had come and the rain fell in torrance an idea occurred to her if she wet her clothes thoroughly before jumping into the river her weight would make her sink rapidly she walked up and down up and down the bridge in the driving rain the fog enveloped the night in a gloom as impenetrable as that of her heart no one passed to interrupt her preparations at the end of half an hour satisfied that her end was accomplished she leapt from the bridge into the water below despite her soaked clothing she did not sink at once in her desperation she pressed her skirts around her then she became unconscious she was found however before it was too late vigorous efforts were made to restore life and she was brought back to consciousness she had met with the insult she most dreaded and her disappointment was keen her failure only increased her determination to destroy herself in lay whose departure to his other house Mary construed into abandonment of her made in spite of this letter many inquiries as to her health and tranquility repeated offers of pecuniary assistance and at the request of mutual acquaintances even went to see her but a show of interest was not what she wanted and her thanks for it was the assurance that before long she would be where he would be saved the trouble of either thinking or talking of her fortunately mr. Johnson and her other friends interfered actively in her behalf and by their arguments and representations prevailed upon her to relinquish the idea of suicide through their kindness the fever which consumed her was somewhat abated her temporary madness over she again remembered her responsibility as a mother and realized that true courage consists in facing a foe anat and flying from it of the change in her intentions for the future she informed imlay godwin makes the incredible statement that inlay refusing to break off his new connection though he declared it to be of a temporary nature Mary proposed that she should live in the same house with his mistress in this way he would not be separated from his child and she would quietly wait the end of his intrigue imlay according to Godwin consented to her but afterwards thought better of it and refused there is not a word in her letters to confirm this extraordinary story it is simply impossible that at one moment she should have been driven to suicide by the knowledge that he had a mistress and that at the next she should take a step which was equivalent to countenancing his conduct it is more rational to conclude that Godwin was misinformed than to believe this towards the end of november emly went to Paris with the woman for whom he had sacrificed wife and child Mary felt that the end had now finally come as is seen in the few letters which still remain once the first bitterness of her disappointment had been mastered the old tenderness revived and she renewed her excuses for him my affection for you is rooted in my heart she wrote fondly and sadly I know you are not what you now seem nor will you always act and feel as you now do though I may never be comforted by the change writing to him however was more than she could bear each letter reopened the wound he had inflicted and inspired her with a wild desire to see him she therefore wisely concluded that all correspondence between them must cease in December 1795 while he was still in Paris she bade him or last farewell though in so doing she was as she says piercing her own heart she refused to hold further communication with him or to receive his money but she told him she would not interfere in anything he might wish to do for fanny here it may be said that though inlay declared that a certain sum should be settled upon the ladder not a shilling of it was ever paid Mary saw him once or twice afterwards when he came to London again godwin says that she could not restrain herself from making another effort and desiring to see him once more during his absence her affection had led her to make numberless excuses for his conduct and she probably wished to believe that his present connection was as he represented it purely of a casual nature to this application she observed that he returned no other answer except declaring with unjustifiable passion that he would not see her they did meet however but their meeting was accidental imlay was one day paying a visit to mr. Christie who had returned to London and with whom he had business relations he was sitting in the parlor when Mary called mrs. Christie hearing her voice and probably fearing an embarrassing scene hurried out to warn her of his presence and to advise her not to come into the room but Mary not heeding her entered fearlessly and with Fanny by the hand went up and spoke to em lai they retired it seems to another room and he then promised to see her again and indeed to dine with her at her lodgings on the following day he kept his promise and there was a second interview but it did not lead to a reconciliation the very next day she went into Berkshire where she spent the month of March with her friend mrs. cotton she never again made the slightest attempt to see him or to hear from him there was a limit even to her affection and forbearance one day after her return to town she was walking along the new road when Emily passed her on horseback he jumped off his horse and walked with her for a little distance this was the last time they met from that moment he passed completely out of her life end of chapter 9

Michael Martin

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