The Love Letters Of Mary Wollstonecraft To Gilbert Imlay
This archive contains 80 texts, with 34,863 words or 198,151 characters.
 Dowden’s “Life of Shelley.”  The child is in a subsequent letter called the “barrier girl,” probably from a supposition that she owed her existence to this interview.—W. G.  This and the thirteen following letters appear to have been written during a separation of several months; the date, Paris.—W. G.  Some further letters, written during the remainder of the week, in a similar strain to the preceding, appear to have been destroyed by the person to whom they were addressed.—W. G.  Imlay went to Paris on March 11, after spending a fortnight at Havre, but he returned to Mary soon after the date of Letter XIX. In August he went to Paris, where he was followed by Mary. In Sep... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
[London, Dec. 1795.] You must do as you please with respect to the child.—I could wish that it might be done soon, that my name may be no more mentioned to you. It is now finished.—Convinced that you have neither regard nor friendship, I disdain to utter a reproach, though I have had reason to think, that the “forbearance” talked of, has not been very delicate.—It is however of no consequence.—I am glad you are satisfied with your own conduct. I now solemnly assure you, that this is an eternal farewel.—Yet I flinch not from the duties which tie me to life. That there is “sophistry” on one side or other, is certain; but now it matters not on which. On my part it has not been a questio... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
[London, Dec. 1795.] As the parting from you for ever is the most serious event of my life, I will once expostulate with you, and call not the language of truth and feeling ingenuity! I know the soundness of your understanding—and know that it is impossible for you always to confound the caprices of every wayward inclination with the manly dictates of principle. You tell me “that I torment you.”—Why do I?——Because you cannot estrange your heart entirely from me—and you feel that justice is on my side. You urge, “that your conduct was unequivocal.”—It was not.—When your coolness has hurt me, with what tenderness have you endeavored to remove the impression!—and even ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
London, December 8 . Having just been informed that —— is to return immediately to Paris, I would not miss a sure opportunity of writing, because I am not certain that my last, by Dover has reached you. Resentment, and even anger, are momentary emotions with me—and I wished to tell you so, that if you ever think of me, it may not be in the light of an enemy. That I have not been used well I must ever feel; perhaps, not always with the keen anguish I do at present—for I began even now to write calmly, and I cannot restrain my tears. I am stunned!—Your late conduct still appears to me a frightful dream.—Ah! ask yourself if you have not condescended to employ a little address, I could almost say c... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
London, November 27 . The letter, without an address, which you put up with the letters you returned, did not meet my eyes till just now.—I had thrown the letters aside—I did not wish to look over a register of sorrow. My not having seen it, will account for my having written to you with anger—under the impression your departure, without even a line left for me, made on me, even after your late conduct, which could not lead me to expect much attention to my sufferings. In fact, “the decided conduct, which appeared to me so unfeeling,” has almost overturned my reason; my mind is injured—I scarcely know where I am, or what I do.—The grief I cannot conquer (for some cruel recollections never ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
[Paris] Feb. 19 . When I first received your letter, putting off your return to an indefinite time, I felt so hurt, that I know not what I wrote. I am now calmer, though it was not the kind of wound over which time has the quickest effect; on the contrary, the more I think, the sadder I grow. Society fatigues me inexpressibly—So much so, that finding fault with every one, I have only reason enough, to discover that the fault is in myself. My child alone interests me, and, but for her, I should not take any pains to recover my health. As it is, I shall wean her, and try if by that step (to which I feel a repugnance, for it is my only solace) I can get rid of my cough. Physicians talk much of the danger attending any complaint ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Friday Morning [Paris, Dec. 1793]. I am glad to find that other people can be unreasonable, as well as myself—for be it known to thee, that I answered thy first letter, the very night it reached me (Sunday), though thou couldst not receive it before Wednesday, because it was not sent off till the next day.—There is a full, true, and particular account.— Yet I am not angry with thee, my love, for I think that it is a proof of stupidity, and likewise of a milk-and-water affection, which comes to the same thing, when the temper is governed by a square and compass.—There is nothing picturesque in this straight-lined equality, and the passions always give grace to the actions. Recollection now makes my heart bound to ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
[Paris] December 28 . ******** I do, my love, indeed sincerely sympathize with you in all your disappointments.—Yet, knowing that you are well, and think of me with affection, I only lament other disappointments, because I am sorry that you should thus exert yourself in vain, and that you are kept from me. ——, I know, urges you to stay, and is continually branching out into new projects, because he has the idle desire to amass a large fortune, rather an immense one, merely to have the credit of having made it. But we who are governed by other motives, ought not to be led on by him. When we meet, we will discuss this subject—You will listen to reason, and it has probably occurred to you, that it will be bett... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
LETTER XV Sunday Morning [Paris, Feb. 1794]. I wrote to you yesterday, my [Imlay]; but, finding that the colonel is still detained (for his passport was forgotten at the office yesterday) I am not willing to let so many days elapse without your hearing from me, after having talked of illness and apprehensions. I cannot boast of being quite recovered, yet I am (I must use my Yorkshire phrase; for, when my heart is warm, pop come the expressions of childhood into my head) so lightsome, that I think it will not go badly with me.—And nothing shall be wanting on my part, I assure you; for I am urged on, not only by an enlivened affection for you, but by a new-born tenderness that plays cheerly round my dilating heart. I was therefor... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
[June 18, 1795] Thursday. Here I am still—and I have just received your letter of Monday by the pilot, who promised to bring it to me, if we were detained, as he expected, by the wind.—It is indeed wearisome to be thus tossed about without going forward.—I have a violent headache—yet I am obliged to take care of the child, who is a little tormented by her teeth, because —— is unable to do any thing, she is rendered so sick by the motion of the ship, as we ride at anchor. These are however trifling inconveniences, compared with anguish of mind—compared with the sinking of a broken heart.—To tell you the truth, I never suffered in my life so much from depression of spirits—from despair.... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
[Havre] April 7 . Here I am at Havre, on the wing towards you, and I write now, only to tell you, that you may expect me in the course of three or four days; for I shall not attempt to give vent to the different emotions which agitate my heart—You may term a feeling, which appears to me to be a degree of delicacy that naturally arises from sensibility, pride—Still I cannot indulge the very affectionate tenderness which glows in my bosom, without trembl...
Two o’Clock [Paris, June 1793]. My dear love, after making my arrangements for our snug dinner to-day, I have been taken by storm, and obliged to promise to dine, at an early hour, with the Miss ——s, the only day they intend to pass here. I shall however leave the key in the door, and hope to find you at my fire-side when I return, about eight o’clock. Will you not wait for poor Joan?—whom you will find better, and till then think ve...
Monday Night [Paris, Dec. 30, 1793]. My best love, your letter to-night was particularly grateful to my heart, depressed by the letters I received by ——, for he brought me several, and the parcel of books directed to Mr. —— was for me. Mr. ——’s letter was long and very affectionate; but the account he gives me of his own affairs, though he obviously makes the best of them, has vexed me. A melancholy letter from my sister...
[Tonsberg] August 9 . Five of your letters have been sent after me from ——. One, dated the 14th of July, was written in a style which I may have merited, but did not expect from you. However this is not a time to reply to it, except to assure you that you shall not be tormented with any more complaints. I am disgusted with myself for having so long importuned you with my affection.—— My child is very well. We shall soon meet, to par...
[Gothenburg] August 26 . I arrived here last night, and with the most exquisite delight, once more pressed my babe to my heart. We shall part no more. You perhaps cannot conceive the pleasure it gave me, to see her run about, and play alone. Her increasing intelligence attaches me more and more to her. I have promised her that I will fulfill my duty to her; and nothing in future shall make me forget it. I will also exert myself to obtain an independence for her; b...