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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJane Talbot - Letter 51 - To James Montford
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Jane Talbot - Letter 51 - To James Montford Post by :cjv01 Category :Long Stories Author :Charles Brockden Brown Date :May 2012 Read :2170

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Jane Talbot - Letter 51 - To James Montford

Letter LI - To James Montford

To James Montford

December 13.

Is not this strange, my friend? Miss Jessup, it seems, has denied her own letter. Surely there was no mistake,--no mystery. Let me look again at the words in the cover.

Let me awake! Let me disabuse my senses! Yes. It is plain. Miss Jessup repented her of her confession. Something in that unopened letter-- believing the contents of that known, there were inducements to sincerity which the recovery of that letter, and the finding it unopened, perhaps annihilated. Pride resumed its power. Before so partial a judge as Mrs. Fielder, and concerning a wretch so worthy of discredit as I, how easy, how obvious to deny, and to impute to me the imposture charged on herself!

Well, and what is now to be done? I will once more return to Miss Jessup. I will force myself into her presence, and then----But I have not a moment to lose.

* * * * *

And this was the night, this was the hour, that was to see my Jane's hand wedded to mine! That event Providence, or fate, or fortune, stepped in to forbid. And must it then pass away like any vulgar hour?

It deserves to be signalized, to be made memorable. What forbids but sordid, despicable cowardice? Not virtue; not the love of universal happiness; not piety; not sense of duty to my God or my fellow-creatures. These sentiments, alas! burn feebly or not at all within my bosom.

It is not hope that restrains my hand. For what is my hope? Independence, dignity, a life of activity and usefulness, are not within my reach. And why not? What obstacles arise in the way?

Have I not youth, health, knowledge, talents? Twenty professional roads are open before me, and solicit me to enter them; but no. I shall never enter any of them. Be all earthly powers combined to force me into the right path,--the path of duty, honour, and interest: they strive in vain.

And whence this incurable folly?--this rooted incapacity of acting as every motive, generous and selfish, combine to recommend? Constitution; habit; insanity; the dominion of some evil spirit, who insinuates his baneful power between the _will and the _act_.

And this more congenial good; this feminine excellence; this secondary and more valuable self; this woman who has appropriated to herself every desire, every emotion of my soul: what hope remains with regard to her? Shall I live for her sake?

No. Her happiness requires me to be blotted out of existence. Let me unfold myself _to myself; let me ask my soul, Canst thou wish to be rejected, renounced, and forgotten by Jane? Does it please thee that her happiness should be placed upon a basis absolutely independent of thy lot? Canst thou, with a true and fervent zeal, resign her to her mother?

I can. I do.

* * * * *

I wish I had words, my friend: yet why do I wish for them? Why sit I here, endeavouring to give form, substance, and duration to images to which it is guilty and opprobrious to allow momentary place in my mind? Why do I thus lay up, for the few that love me, causes of affliction?

Yet perhaps I accuse myself too soon. The persuasion that I have one friend is sweet. I fancy myself talking to one who is interested in my happiness; but this shall satisfy me. If fate impel me to any rash and irretrievable act, I will take care that no legacy of sorrow shall be left to my survivors. My fate shall be buried in oblivion. No busy curiosity, no affectionate zeal, shall trace the way that I have gone. No mourning footsteps shall haunt my grave,

I am, indeed, my friend--never, never before, spiritless and even hopeless as I have sometimes been, have my thoughts been thus gloomy. Never felt I so enamoured of that which seems to be the cure-all.

Often have I wished to slide obscurely and quietly into the grave; but this wish, while it saddened my bosom, never raised my hand against my life. It made me willingly expose my safety to the blasts of pestilence; it made me court disease; but it never set my imagination in search after more certain and speedy means.

Yet I am wonderfully calm. I can still reason on the folly of despair. I know that a few days, perhaps a few hours, will bring me some degree of comfort and courage; will make life, with all its disappointments and vexations, endurable at least.

Would to Heaven I were not quite alone! Left thus to my greatest enemy, myself, I feel that I am capable of deeds which I fear to name.

A few minutes ago I was anxious to find Miss Jessup; to gain another interview with Mrs. Fielder. Both the one and the other have left the city. Jane's dwelling is deserted. Shortly after I left it, they set out upon their journey, and Miss Jessup--no doubt, to avoid another interview with me--has precipitately withdrawn into the country.

I shall not pursue their steps. Let things take their course. No doubt, a lasting and effectual remorse will, some time or other, reach the heart of Miss Jessup, and this fatal error will be rectified. I need not live, I need not exert myself, to hasten the discovery. I can do nothing.

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