Letter to Agnes McLehose, 25 January 1788

Clarinda, my life, you have wounded my soul.-Can I think of your being unhappy, even tho’ it be not described in your pathetic elegance of language, without being miserable?

Clarinda, can I bear to be told from you, that “you will not see me tomorrow night-that you wish the hour of parting were come”! Do not let us impose on ourselves by sounds: if in the moment of fond endearment and tender dalliance, I perhaps trespassed against the letter of Decorum’s law; I appeal, even to you, wbether I ever smned m the very least degree against the spirit of her strictest statute.

-But why, My Love, talk to me in such strong terms; every word of which cuts me to the very soul? You know, a hint, the slightest signification of your wish, is to me a sacred command.

-Be reconciled, My Angel, to your God, your self and me; and I pledge you Sylvander’s honor, an oath I dare say you will trust without reserve, that you shall never more have reason to complain of his conduct.

-Now, my Love, do not wound our next meeting with any averted looks or restrained caresses: I have marked the line of conduct, a line I know exactly to your taste, and which I will inviolably keep; but do not you show the least inclination to make boundaries: seeming distrust, where you know you may confide, is a cruel sin against Sensibility.-

“Delicacy, you know it, was which won me to you at once-“take care you do not loosen the dearest most sacred tie that unites us” Clarinda, I would not have stung your soul, I would not have bruised your spirit, as that harsh crucifying, “Take care,” did mine; no, not to have gained heaven! Let me again appeal to your dear Self, if Sylvander, even when he seemingly half-transgressed the laws of Decorum, if he did not shew more chastised, trembling, faultering delicacy, than the MANY of the world do in keeping these laws.-

O Love and Sensibility, ye have conspired against My Peace! I love to madness, and I feel to torture! Clarinda, how can I forgive myself, that I ever have touched a single chord in your bosom with pain! would I do it willingly? Would any consideration, any gratification make me do so?

O, did you love like me, you would not, you could not deny or put off a meeting with the Man who adores you; who would die a thousands deaths before he would injure you; and who must soon bid you a long farewell!-

I had proposed bringing my bosom friend, Mr Ainslie, tomorrow evening, at his strong request, to see you; as he only has time to stay with us about ten minutes, for an engagement; but-I shall hear from you: this afternoon, for mercy’s sake! for till I hear from you I am wretched.-O Clarinda, the tie that binds me to thee, is entwisted, incorporated with my dearest threads of life!

Published in: on January 26, 2009 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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