THE MERSHON COMPANY
AN ENGLISHWOMAN'S LOVE-LETTERS.
It need hardly be said that the woman by whom these letter were written
had no thought that they would be read by anyone but the person to whom
they were addressed. But a request, conveyed under circumstances which
herself would have regarded as all-commanding, urges that
they should now be given to the world; and, so far as is possible with a
due regard to the claims of privacy, what is here printed presents the
letters as they were first written in their complete form and sequence.
Very little has been omitted which in any way bears upon the devotion
which they are a record. A few names of persons and localities have been
changed; and several short notes (not above twenty in all), together
with some passages bearing
upon events which might be
recognized, have been left out without indication
of their omission.
It was a necessary condition to the present publication
authorship of these letters should remain unstated. Those who know will
keep silence; those who do not, will not find here any data likely to
guide them to the truth.
The story which darkens these pages cannot be more fully indicated while
the feelings of some who are still living have to be consulted; nor will
the reader find the root of the tragedy
explained in the letters
themselves. But one thing at least may be said as regards the principal
actors--that to the memory of neither of them does any blame belong.
They were equally
the victims of circumstances, which came whole out of
the hands of fate and remained, so far as one of the two was concerned,
to the day of her death.
Beloved: This is your first letter from me: yet it is not the first I have
written to you. There are letters to you lying at love's dead-letter
office in this same writing--so many, my memory has lost count of them!
This is my confession: I told you I had one to make, and you laughed:--you
did not know how serious it was--for to be in love with you long before
you were in love with me--nothing can be more serious than that!
You deny that I was: yet I know when you first really loved me. All at
once, one day something about me came upon you as a surprise: and how,
except on the road to love, can there be surprises? And in the surprise
came love. You did not _know_ me before. Before then, it was only the
other nine entanglements which take hold of the male heart and occupy it
till the tenth is ready to make one knot of them all.
In the letter written that day, I said, "You love me." I could never
have said it before; though I had written twelve letters to my love for
you, I had not once been able to write of your love for me. Was not
Now I have confessed! I thought to discover myself all blushes, but my
face is cool: you have kissed all my blushes away! Can I ever be ashamed
in your eyes now, or grow rosy because of anything _you_ or _I_ think?
So!--you have robbed me of one of my charms: I am brazen. Can you love
You love me, you love me; you are wonderful! we are both wonderful, you
Well, it is good for you to know I have waited and wished, long before
the thing came true. But to see _you_ waiting
and wishing, when the
thing _was_ true all the time:--oh! that was the trial! How not suddenly
to throw my arms round you and cry, "Look, see! O blind mouth, why are
And you never knew? Dearest, I love you for it, you never knew! I believe
a man, when he finds he has won, thinks he has taken the city by assault:
he does not guess how to the insiders it has been a weary siege, with
flags of surrender
fluttering themselves to rags from every wall and
window! No: in love it is the women who are the strategists: and they have
at last to fall into the ambush
they know of with a good grace.
You must let me praise myself a little for the past, since I can never
praise myself again. You must do that for me now! There is not a battle
left for me to win. You and peace hold me so much a prisoner, have so
caught me from my own way of living, that I seem to hear a pin drop
twenty years ahead of me: it seems an event! Dearest, a thousand times,
I would not have it be otherwise: I am only too willing
to drop out of
and find myself in your arms instead. Giving you my
love, I can so easily give you my life. Ah, my dear, I am yours so
utterly, so gladly! Will you ever find it out, you who took so long to
Dearest: Your name woke me this morning: I found my lips piping their song
before I was well back into my body out of dreams. I wonder if the rogues
babble when my spirit is nesting? Last night you were a high tree and I
was in it, the wind blowing us both; but I forget the rest,--whatever, it
was enough to make me wake happy.
There are dreams that go out like candle-light directly one opens the
shutters: they illumine the walls no longer; the daylight
is too strong
for them. So, now, I can hardly remember anything of my dreams:
daylight, with you in it, floods them out.
Oh, how are you? Awake? Up? Have you breakfasted? I ask you a thousand
things. You are thinking of me, I know: but what are you thinking? I am
devoured by curiosity
about myself--none at all about you, whom I have all
by heart! If I might only know how happy I make you, and just _which_
thing I said yesterday
is making you laugh to-day--I could cry with joy
over being the person I am.
It is you who make me think so much about myself, trying
to find myself
out. I used to be most self-possessed, and regarded it as the crowning
virtue: and now--your possession of me sweeps it away, and I stand crying
to be let into a secret that is no longer mine. Shall I ever know _why_
you love me? It is my religious difficulty; but it never rises into a
doubt. You _do_ love me, I know. _Why_, I don't think I ever can know.
You ask me the same question about yourself, and it becomes absurd,
because I altogether
belong to you. If I hold my breath
for a moment
wickedly (for I can't do it breathing), and try to look at the world
with you out of it, I seem to have fallen over a precipice; or rather,
the solid earth has slipped from under my feet, and I am off into
vacuum. Then, as I take breath
again for fear, my star swims up and
clasps me, and shows me your face. O happy star this that I was born
under, that moved with me and winked quiet prophecies at me all through
my childhood, I not knowing
what it meant:--the dear radiant
naming to me my lover!
As a child, now and then, and for no reason, I used to be sublimely
happy: real wings took hold of me. Sometimes a field became fairyland
as I walked through it; or a tree poured out a scent that its blossoms
never had before or after. I think now that those must have been moments
when you too were in like contact
with earth,--had your feet in grass
which felt a faint ripple
of wind, or stood under a lilac in a drench
fragrance that had grown double after rain.
When I asked you about the places of your youth, I had some fear of
finding that we might once have met, and that I had not remembered it as
the summing up of my happiness in being young. Far off I see something
us, something I could not have guessed at
before--the happiness of being old. Will it not be something like the
evening before last when we were sitting together, your hand in mine,
and one by one, as the twilight
drew about us, the stars came and took
up their stations overhead? They seemed to me then to be following out
some quiet train of thought in the universal
mind: the heavens were
remembering the stars back into their places:--the Ancient of Days
drawing upon the infinite
treasures of memory in his great lifetime.
Will not Love's old age be the same to us both--a starry
Your dear letter is with me while I write: how shortly
you are able to
say everything! To-morrow you will come. What more do I want--except
to-morrow itself, with more promises of the same thing?
You are at my heart, dearest: nothing in the world can be nearer to me
Dearest and rightly
Beloved: You cannot tell how your gift has pleased me;
or rather you _can_, for it shows you have a long memory back to our first
meeting: though at the time I was the one who thought most of it.
It is quite true; you have the most beautifully
shaped memory in
Christendom: these are the very books in the very edition
I have long
wanted, and have been too humble
to afford myself. And now I cannot stop
to read one, for joy of looking at them all in a row. I will kiss you
for them all, and for more besides: indeed it is the "besides" which
brings you my kisses at all.
Now that you have chosen so perfectly
to my mind, I may proffer
request which, before, I was shy of making. It seems now beneficently
anticipated. It is that you will not ever let your gifts take the form
of jewelry, not after the ring which you are bringing me: _that_, you
know, I both welcome
and wish for. But, as to the rest, the world has
supplied me with a feeling against jewelry
as a love-symbol. Look
abroad and you will see: it is too possessive, too much like "chains of
office"--the fair one is to wear her radiantharness
before the world,
that other women may be envious
and the desire of her master's eye be
satisfied! Ah, no!
I am yours, dear, utterly; and nothing you give me would have that sense:
I know you too well to think it. But in the face of the present fashion
(and to flout it), which expects the lover to give in this sort, and the
beloved to show herself a dazzling captive, let me cherish
opposition which would have no meaning if we were in a world of our own,
and no place in my thoughts, dearest;--as it has not now, so far as you
are concerned. But I am conscious
I shall be looked at as your chosen; and
I would choose my own way of how to look back most proudly.
And so for the books more thanks and more,--that they are what I would
most wish, and not anything else: which, had they been, they would still
have given me pleasure, since from you they could come only with a good
meaning: and--diamonds even--I could have put up with them!
To-morrow you come for your ring, and bring me my own? Yours is here
waiting. I have it on my finger, very loose, with another standing
sentry over it to keep it from running
A mouse came out of my wainscot last night, and plunged me in horrible
dilemma: for I am equally
idiotic over the idea of the creature trapped
or free, and I saw sleepless
nights ahead of me till I had secured a
change of locality
him back into hiding would have only deferred my getting
truly rid of him, so I was most tiptoe
in my doings.
Finally, a paper bag, put into a likely nook with some sentimentally
preserved wedding-cake crumbled into it, crackled to me of his arrival.
In a brave moment I noosed the little beast, bag and all, and lowered
him from the window by string, till the shrubs took from me the burden
I visited the bag this morning: he had eaten his way out, crumbs and
all: and has, I suppose, become a fieldmouse, for the hay smells
invitingly, and it is only a short run over the lawn and a jump over the
ha-ha to be in it. Poor morsels, I prefer them so much undomesticated!
Now this mouse is no allegory, and the paper bag is _not_ a diamond
necklace, in spite of the wedding-cake sprinkled over it! So don't say
that this letter is too hard for your understanding, or you will
frighten me from telling you anything foolish again. Brains are like
jewels in this, difference of surface has nothing to do with the size
and value of them. Yours is a beautiful smooth round, like a pearl, and
mine all facets and flashes like cut glass. And yours so much the
bigger, and I love it so much the best! The trap which caught me was
baited with one great pearl. So the mouse comes in with a meaning tied
to its tail after all!
In all the world, dearest, what is more unequal
than love between a man
and a woman? I have been spending an amorous morning and want to share it
with you: but lo, the task of bringing that bit of my life into your
vision is altogether
What have I been doing? Dear man, I have been dressmaking! and dress,
when one is in the toils, is but a love-letter writ large. You will see
and admire the finished thing, but you will take no interest in the
composition. Therefore I say your love is unequal
For think how ravished I would be if you brought me a coat and told me
it was all your own making! One day you had thrown down a mere
tailor-made thing in the hall, and yet I kissed it as I went by. And
that was at a time when we were only at the handshaking stage, the
palsied beginnings of love:--_you_, I mean!
But oh, to get you interested in the dress I was making to you
to-day!--the beautiful flowing opening,--not too flowing: the elaborate
where the heart of me has to come, and the wind-up
of the skirt, a long reluctant
tailing-off, full of commas and colons of
ribbon to make it seem longer, and insertions everywhere. I dreamed
myself in it, retiring through the door after having bidden you
good-night, and you watching the long disappearing eloquence
tail, still saying
to you as it vanished, "Good-by, good-by. I love you
so! see me, how slowly I am going!"
Well, that is a bit of my dress-making, a very corporate part of my
affection for you; and you are not a bit interested, for I have shown
you none of the seamy side; it is that which interests you male
creatures, Zolaites, every one of you.
And what have you to show similar, of the thought of me entering into
all your masculine
pursuits? Do you go out rabbit-shooting for the love
of me? If so, I trust you make a miss of it every time! That you are a
sportsman is one of the very hardest things in life that I have to bear.
Last night Peterkins came up with me to keep guard against any further
intrusion of mice. I put her to sleep on the couch: but she discarded
the red shawl I had prepared for her at the bottom, and lay at the top
most uncomfortably in a parcel
of millinery into which from one end I
had already made excavations, so that it formed a large bag. Into the
further end of this bag Turks crept and snuggled down: but every time
she turned in the night (and it seemed very often) the brown paper
crackled and woke me up. So at last I took it up and shook out its
contents; and Pippins slept soundly on red flannel
till Nan-nan brought
You will notice that in this small narrative
Peterkins gets three names:
it is a fashion that runs through the household, beginning
Mother-Aunt, who on some days speaks of Nan-nan as "the old lady," and
sometimes as "that girl," all according to the two tempers she has about
position in regard to me.
You were only here yesterday, and already I want you again so much, so
Your never satisfied but always loving.
Most Beloved: I have been thinking, staring at this blank piece of paper,
and wondering how _there_ am I ever to say what I have in me here--not
wishing to say anything at all, but just to be! I feel that I am living
now only because you love me: and that my life will have run out, like
this penful of ink, when that use in me is past. Not yet, Beloved, oh, not
writer [´raitə] n.作者；作家 (初中英语单词)devotion [di´vəuʃən] n.献身；忠诚；热爱 (初中英语单词)indication [,indi´keiʃən] n.指示；征兆，迹象 (初中英语单词)tragedy [´trædʒidi] n.悲剧；惨案；灾难 (初中英语单词)equally [´i:kwəli] ad.相等地；平等地 (初中英语单词)mystery [´mistəri] n.神秘；秘密；故弄玄虚 (初中英语单词)waiting [´weitiŋ] n.等候；伺候 (初中英语单词)surrender [sə´rendə] vt.&n.交出；引渡；放弃 (初中英语单词)otherwise [´ʌðəwaiz] ad.另外 conj.否则 (初中英语单词)willing [´wiliŋ] a.情愿的，乐意的 (初中英语单词)altogether [,ɔ:ltə´geðə] ad.完全；总而言之 (初中英语单词)daylight [´deilait] n.日光；黎明 (初中英语单词)curiosity [,kjuəri´ɔsiti] n.好奇；奇事；珍品 (初中英语单词)yesterday [´jestədi] n.&ad.昨天；前不久 (初中英语单词)breath [breθ] n.呼吸；气息 (初中英语单词)childhood [´tʃaildhud] n.幼年(时代)；早期 (初中英语单词)knowing [´nəuiŋ] a.会意的，心照不宣的 (初中英语单词)contact [´kɔntækt] n.接触；联系 v.联络 (初中英语单词)twilight [´twailait] n.黎明；黄昏 (初中英语单词)overhead [´əuvə,hed] ad.当头 a.在头上的 (初中英语单词)universal [,ju:ni´və:səl] a.宇宙的；普遍的 (初中英语单词)shortly [´ʃɔ:tli] ad.立刻，马上；不久 (初中英语单词)beloved [bi´lʌvd] a.为….所爱的 n.爱人 (初中英语单词)humble [´hʌmbəl] a.谦卑的 vt.贬抑 (初中英语单词)welcome [´welkəm] a.受欢迎的；可喜的 (初中英语单词)harness [´hɑ:nis] vt.上马具 n.马具 (初中英语单词)captive [´kæptiv] n.俘虏；捕获物 (初中英语单词)conscious [´kɔnʃəs] a.意识的；自觉的 (初中英语单词)running [´rʌniŋ] a.奔跑的；流动的 (初中英语单词)startle [´stɑ:tl] vt.使吃惊，使惊跳 (初中英语单词)therefore [´ðeəfɔ:] ad.&conj.因此；所以 (初中英语单词)parcel [´pɑ:sl] n.包裹；一批 vt.区分 (初中英语单词)beginning [bi´giniŋ] n.开始，开端；起源 (初中英语单词)bearing [´beəriŋ] n.举止；忍耐；关系 (高中英语单词)publication [,pʌbli´keiʃən] n.发表；公布；发行 (高中英语单词)confession [kən´feʃən] n.招供；认错；交待 (高中英语单词)radiant [´reidiənt] a.发光的 n.光源(体) (高中英语单词)ripple [´ripəl] n.涟漪 v.(使)起涟漪 (高中英语单词)infinite [´infinit] a.无限的，无穷的 (高中英语单词)edition [i´diʃən] n.版本；很相似的 (高中英语单词)perfectly [´pə:fiktli] ad.理想地；完美地 (高中英语单词)jewelry [´dʒu:əlri] n.珠宝(饰物) (高中英语单词)cherish [´tʃeriʃ] vt.珍爱；怀有(感情) (高中英语单词)concerned [kən´sə:nd] a.有关的；担心的 (高中英语单词)locality [ləu´kæliti] n.位置，地区，发生地 (高中英语单词)composition [,kɔmpə´ziʃən] n.写作；作曲；作品 (高中英语单词)saying [´seiŋ, ´sei-iŋ] n.言语；言论；格言 (高中英语单词)narrative [´nærətiv] a.叙述的 n.记事 (高中英语单词)privacy [´praivəsi, -pri] n.隐退；独处；秘密 (英语四级单词)brazen [´breizən] a.黄铜制的；无耻的 (英语四级单词)ambush [´æmbuʃ] n.埋伏(地点)；伏兵 (英语四级单词)trying [´traiiŋ] a.难堪的；费劲的 (英语四级单词)precipice [´presipis] n.悬崖；危急的处境 (英语四级单词)drench [drentʃ] vt.湿透，浸透 (英语四级单词)starry [´stɑ:ri] a.星光照耀的，闪亮的 (英语四级单词)rightly [´raitli] ad.正义地；正确地 (英语四级单词)beautifully [´bju:tifəli] ad.美丽地；优美地 (英语四级单词)proffer [´prɔfə] vt.&n.提供；贡献 (英语四级单词)envious [´enviəs] a.妒忌的，羡慕的 (英语四级单词)tiptoe [´tiptəu] n.脚尖 vi.踮着脚走 (英语四级单词)diplomatic [,diplə´mætik] a.外交的 (英语四级单词)unequal [ʌn´i:kwəl] a.不平等的；不同的 (英语四级单词)reluctant [ri´lʌktənt] a.勉强的；难得到的 (英语四级单词)eloquence [´eləkwəns] n.雄辩；口才 (英语四级单词)masculine [´mæ:skjulin] a.男性的 n.男子 (英语四级单词)flannel [´flænl] n.法兰绒 (英语四级单词)intimately [´intimitli] ad.密切地；熟悉地 (英语六级单词)ritual [´ritʃuəl] n.典礼；礼节 a.典礼的 (英语六级单词)sleepless [´sli:pləs] a.失眠的；寂静的 (英语六级单词)privileged [´privilidʒd] a.有特权的；特许的 (英语六级单词)