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LETTERS TO FANNY BRAWNE
SHANKLIN, ISLE OF WIGHT, THURSDAY.
[Postmark, Newport, 3 July, 1819. ] MY DEAREST LADY :
I am glad I had not an opportunity of sending off a letter which I wrote for you on Tuesday night
—'twas too much like one out of Rousseau's “ Heloise.” I am more reasonable this morning. The morning is the only proper time for me to write to a beautiful girl whom I love so much : for at night, when the lonely day has closed, and the lonely, silent, unmusical chamber is waiting to receive me as into a sepulchre, then believe me my passion gets entirely the sway, then I would not have you see those rhapsodies which I once thought it impossible I should ever give way to, and which I have often laughed at in another, for fear you should [think me) either too unhappy or perhaps a little mad. I am now at a very pleasant cottage window, looking onto a beautiful hilly country, with a glimpse of the sea; the morning is very fine. I do not know how elastic my spirit might be, what pleasure I might have in living here and breathing and wandering as free as a stag about this beautiful coast if the remembrance of you did not weigh so upon me. I have never known any unalloy'd happiness for many days together : the death or sickness of some one has always spoilt my hours—and now, when none such troubles oppress me, it is, you must confess, very hard that another sort of pain should haunt me. Ask yourself, my love, whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom. Will you confess this in the letter you must write immediately? and do all you can to console me in it- make it rich as a draught of poppies to intoxicate me — write the softest words and kiss them, that I may at least touch my lips where yours have been. For myself I know not how to express my devotion to so fair a form : I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days— three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain. But however selfish I may feel, I am sure I could never act selfishly: as I told you a day or two before I left Hampstead, I will never return to London if my fate does not turn up Pam, or at least a Court-card. Though I could centre my happiness in you, I cannot expect to engross your heart so entirely – indeed, if I thought you felt as much for me as I do for you at this moment, I do not think I could restrain myself from seeing you again to-morrow for the delight of one embrace. But no — I must live upon hope and chance. In case of the worst that can happen, I shall still love you — but what hatred shall I have for another! Some lines I read the other day are continually ringing a peal in my ears :
To see those eyes I prize above mine own
Do write immediately. There is no post from this place, so you must address Post office, Newport, Isle of Wight. I know before night I shall curse myself for having sent you so cold a letter; yet it is better to do it as much in my senses as possible. Be as kind as the distance will permit to your
Present my compliments to your mother, my love to Margaret, and best remembrances to your brother -- if you please so.
July 8th. [Postmark, Newport, 10 July, 1819.) My Sweet Girl:
Your letter gave me more delight than anything in the world but yourself could do; indeed I am
almost astonished that any absent one should have that luxurious power over my senses which I feel. Even when I am not thinking of you I receive your influence and a tenderer nature stealing upon me. All my thoughts, my unhappiest days and nights, have, I find, not at all cured me of my love of beauty, but made it so intense that I am miserable that you are not with me: or rather breathe in that dull sort of patience that cannot be called Life. I never knew before, what such a love as you have made me feel, was; I did not believe in it; my fancy was asraid of it, lest it should burn me up. But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 't will not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with pleasures. You mention “horrid people," and ask me whether it depend upon them whether I see you again. Do understand me, my love, in this. I have so much of you in my heart that I must turn mentor when I see a chance of harm befalling you. I would never see anything but pleasure in your eyes, love on your lips, and happiness in your steps. I would wish to see you among those amusements suitable to your inclinations and spirits; so that our loves might be a delight in the midst of pleasures agreeable enough, rather than a resource from vexations and cares. But I doubt much, in case of the worst, whether I shall be philosopher enough to follow my own lessons: if I saw my resolution give you a pain, I could not. Why may I not speak of your beauty, since without that I could never have lov'd you ?I cannot conceive any beginning of such love as I