Maria : Or, the Wrongs of Woman
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BY THE EDITOR * * i.e., Godwin [Publisher’s note]. VERY FEW hints exist respecting the plan of the remainder of the work. I find only two detached sentences, and some scattered heads for the continuation of the story. I transcribe the whole. I. “Darnford’s letters were affectionate; but circumstances occasioned delays, and the miscarriage of some letters rendered the reception of wished-for answers doubtful: his return was necessary to calm Maria’s mind.” II. “As Darnford had informed her that his business was settled, his delaying to return seemed extraordinary; but love to excess, excludes fear or suspicion.” The scattered heads for the continuation of the story, are as follow. * * To... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Such was her state of mind when the dogs of law were let loose on her. Maria took the task of conducting Darnford’s defense upon herself. She instructed his counsel to plead guilty to the charge of adultery; but to deny that of seduction. The counsel for the plaintiff opened the cause, by observing, “that his client had ever been an indulgent husband, and had borne with several defects of temper, while he had nothing criminal to lay to the charge of his wife. But that she left his house without assigning any cause. He could not assert that she was then acquainted with the defendant; yet, when he was once endeavoring to bring her back to her home, this man put the peace-officers to flight, and took her he knew not whither. Afte... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
One morning confusion seemed to reign in the house, and Jemima came in terror, to inform Maria, “that her master had left it, with a determination, she was assured (and too many circumstances corroborated the opinion, to leave a doubt of its truth) of never returning. I am prepared then,” said Jemima, “to accompany you in your flight.” Maria started up, her eyes darting towards the door, as if afraid that some one should fasten it on her for ever. Jemima continued, “I have perhaps no right now to expect the performance of your promise; but on you it depends to reconcile me with the human race.” “But Darnford!”—exclaimed Maria, mournfully—sitting down again, and crossing her arm... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Darnford returned the memoirs to Maria, with a most affectionate letter, in which he reasoned on “the absurdity of the laws respecting matrimony, which, till divorces could be more easily obtained, was,” he declared, “the most insufferable bondage.” Ties of this nature could not bind minds governed by superior principles; and such beings were privileged to act above the dictates of laws they had no voice in framing, if they had sufficient strength of mind to endure the natural consequence. In her case, to talk of duty, was a farce, excepting what was due to herself. Delicacy, as well as reason, forbade her ever to think of returning to her husband: was she then to restrain her charming sensibility through mere preju... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
“As my mind grew calmer, the visions of Italy again returned with their former glow of coloring; and I resolved on quitting the kingdom for a time, in search of the cheerfulness, that naturally results from a change of scene, unless we carry the barbed arrow with us, and only see what we feel. “During the period necessary to prepare for a long absence, I sent a supply to pay my father’s debts, and settled my brothers in eligible situations; but my attention was not wholly engrossed by my family, though I do not think it necessary to enumerate the common exertions of humanity. The manner in which my uncle’s property was settled, prevented me from making the addition to the fortune of my surviving sister, that I coul... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Abodes of horror have frequently been described, and castles, filled with specters and chimeras, conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wondering mind. But, formed of such stuff as dreams are made of, what were they to the mansion of despair, in one corner of which Maria sat, endeavoring to recall her scattered thoughts! Surprise, astonishment, that bordered on distraction, seemed to have suspended her faculties, till, waking by degrees to a keen sense of anguish, a whirlwind of rage and indignation roused her torpid pulse. One recollection with frightful velocity following another, threatened to fire her brain, and make her a fit companion for the terrific inhabitants, whose groans and shrieks were no... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
When perusing the first parcel of books, Maria had, with her pencil, written in one of them a few exclamations, expressive of compassion and sympathy, which she scarcely remembered, till turning over the leaves of one of the volumes, lately brought to her, a slip of paper dropped out, which Jemima hastily snatched up. “Let me see it,” demanded Maria impatiently, “You surely are not afraid of trusting me with the effusions of a madman?” “I must consider,” replied Jemima; and withdrew, with the paper in her hand. In a life of such seclusion, the passions gain undue force; Maria therefore felt a great degree of resentment and vexation, which she had not time to subdue, before Jemima, returning, delivered ... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Active as love was in the heart of Maria, the story she had just heard made her thoughts take a wider range. The opening buds of hope closed, as if they had put forth too early, and the the happiest day of her life was overcast by the most melancholy reflections. Thinking of Jemima’s peculiar fate and her own, she was led to consider the oppressed state of women, and to lament that she had given birth to a daughter. Sleep fled from her eyelids, while she dwelt on the wretchedness of unprotected infancy, till sympathy with Jemima changed to agony, when it seemed probable that her own babe might even now be in the very state she so forcibly described. Maria thought, and thought again. Jemima’s humanity had rather been benumbed t... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
“Addressing these memoirs to you, my child, uncertain whether I shall ever have an opportunity of instructing you, many observations will probably flow from my heart, which only a mother—a mother schooled in misery, could make. “The tenderness of a father who knew the world, might be great; but could it equal that of a mother—of a mother, laboring under a portion of the misery, which the constitution of society seems to have entailed on all her kind? It is, my child, my dearest daughter, only such a mother, who will dare to break through all restraint to provide for your happiness—who will voluntarily brave censure herself, to ward off sorrow from your bosom. From my narrative, my dear girl, you may gather th... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
Pity, and the forlorn seriousness of adversity, have both been considered as dispositions favorable to love, while satirical writers have attributed the propensity to the relaxing effect of idleness; what chance then had Maria of escaping, when pity, sorrow, and solitude all conspired to soften her mind, and nourish romantic wishes, and, from a natural progress, romantic expectations? Maria was six-and-twenty. But, such was the native soundness of her constitution, that time had only given to her countenance the character of her mind. Revolving thought, and exercised affections had banished some of the playful graces of innocence, producing insensibly that irregularity of features which the struggles of the understanding to trace or gover... (From : Gutenberg.org.)
“I resume my pen to fly from thought. I was married; and we hastened to London. I had purposed taking one of my sisters with me; for a strong motive for marrying, was the desire of having a home at which I could receive them, now their own grew so uncomfortable, as not to deserve the cheering appellation. An objection was made to her accompanying me, that appeared plausible; and I reluctantly acquiesced. I was however willingly allowed to take with me Molly, poor Peggy’s daughter...
THE WRONGS OF WOMAN, like the wrongs of the oppressed part of mankind, may be deemed necessary by their oppressors: but surely there are a few, who will dare to advance before the improvement of the age, and grant that my sketches are not the abortion of a distempered fancy, or the strong delineations of a wounded heart. In writing this novel, I have rather endeavored to pourtray passions than manners. In many instances I could have made the incidents more dramatic, would I h...
“My father,” said Jemima, “seduced my mother, a pretty girl, with whom he lived fellow-servant; and she no sooner perceived the natural, the dreaded consequence, than the terrible conviction flashed on her—that she was ruined. Honesty, and a regard for her reputation, had been the only principles inculcated by her mother; and they had been so forcibly impressed, that she feared shame, more than the poverty to which it would lead. Her incessant importunities to prevail...
“By watching my only visitor, my uncle’s friend, or by some other means, Mr. Venables discovered my residence, and came to inquire for me. The maid-servant assured him there was no such person in the house. A bustle ensued—I caught the alarm—listened—distinguished his voice, and immediately locked the door. They suddenly grew still; and I waited near a quarter of an hour, before I heard him open the parlor door, and mount the stairs with the mistress of the hous...
“I have perhaps dwelt too long on a circumstance, which is only of importance as it marks the progress of a deception that has been so fatal to my peace; and introduces to your notice a poor girl, whom, intending to serve, I led to ruin. Still it is probable that I was not entirely the victim of mistake; and that your father, gradually fashioned by the world, did not quickly become what I hesitate to call him—out of respect to my daughter. “But, to hasten to the mor...