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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJane Talbot - Letter 69 - To Mr. Montford
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Jane Talbot - Letter 69 - To Mr. Montford Post by :cjv01 Category :Long Stories Author :Charles Brockden Brown Date :May 2012 Read :1899

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Jane Talbot - Letter 69 - To Mr. Montford

Letter LXIX - To Mr. Montford

To Mr. Montford

New Haven, February 10.

My dear friend:--

This letter is written in extreme pain; yet no pain that I ever felt, no external pain possible for me to feel, is equal to the torment I derive from suspense. Good Heaven! what an untoward accident! to be forcibly immured in a tavern-chamber; when the distance is so small between me and that certainty after which my soul pants!

I ought not thus to alarm my beloved friends, but I know not what I write: my head is in confusion, my heart in tumults; a delirium, more the effect of a mind stretched upon the rack of impatience than of limbs shattered and broken, whirls me out of myself.

Not a moment of undisturbed repose have I enjoyed for the last two months. If awake, omens and conjectures, menacing fears, and half-formed hopes, have haunted and harassed me. If asleep, dreams of agonizing forms and ever-varying hues have thronged my fancy and driven away peace.

In less than an hour after landing at Boston, I placed myself in the swiftest stage, and have travelled night and day, till within a mile of this town, when the carriage was overturned and my left arm terribly shattered. I was drawn with difficulty hither; and my only hope of being once more well is founded on my continuance, for I know not how long, in one spot and one posture.

By this time, the well-known hand has told you who it is that writes this:--the exile; the fugitive; whom four long years of absence and silence have not, I hope, erased from your remembrance, banished from your love, or even totally excluded from the hope of being seen again.

Yet that hope, surely, must have been long ago dismissed. Acquainted as you are with some part of my destiny; of my being left on the desert shore of Japan; on the borders of a new world,--a world civilized indeed, and peopled by men, but existing in almost total separation from the other families of mankind; with language, manners, and policy almost incompatible with the existence of a stranger among them; all entrance or egress from which being commonly supposed to be prohibited by iron laws and inflexible despotism; that I, a stranger, naked, forlorn, cast upon a sandy beach frequented but at rare intervals and by savage fishermen, should find my way into the heart of this wonderful empire, and finally explore my way back to my native shore, are surely most strange and incredible achievements. Yet all this, my friend, has been endured and performed by your Colden.

Finding it impossible to move immediately from this place, and this day's post having gone out before my arrival, I employed a man to carry you these assurances of my existence and return, and to bring me back intelligence of your welfare; and some news concerning--may I perish if I can, at this moment, write her name! Every moment, every mile that has brought me nearer to _her_, or rather nearer to certainty of her life or death, her happiness or misery, has increased my trepidation,--added new tremors to my heart.

I have some time to spare. In spite of my impatience, my messenger cannot start within a few hours. I am little fitted, in my present state of pain and suspense, to write intelligibly. Yet what else can I do but write? and will you not, in your turn, be impatient to know by what means I have once more set my foot in my native land?

I will fill up the interval, till my messenger is ready, by writing. I will give you some hints of my adventures. All particulars must be deferred till I see you. Heaven grant that I may once more see you and my sister! Four months ago you were well, but that interval is large enough to breathe ten thousand disasters. Expect not a distinct or regular story. That, I repeat, must be deferred till we meet. Many a long day would be consumed in the telling; and that which was hazard or hardship in the encounter and the sufferance will be pleasant to remembrance and delightful in narration.

This person's name was Holtz. He was the agent of the Dutch East India Company in Japan. He was then at court in a sort of diplomatic character. He was likewise a physician and man of science. He had even been in America, and found no difficulty in conversing with me in my native language.

You will easily imagine the surprise and pleasure which such a meeting afforded me. It likewise opened a door to my return to Europe, as a large trade is regularly maintained between Java and Japan.

Many obstacles, however, in the views which Tekehatsin had formed, of profit and amusement, from my remaining in his service, and in the personal interests and wishes of my friend Holtz, opposed this design; nor was I able to accomplish it, but on condition of returning.

I confess to you, my friend, my heart was not extremely averse to this condition.

I left America with very faint hopes, and no expectation, of ever returning. The longer I resided among this race of men, the melancholy and forlornness of my feelings declined. Prospects of satisfaction from the novelty and grandeur of the scene into which I had entered began to open upon me; sentiments of affection and gratitude for Holtz, and even for the Japanese lord, took root in my heart. Still, however, happiness was bound to scenes and to persons very distant from, my new country, and a restlessness forever haunted me, which nothing could appease but some direct intelligence from you and from Jane Talbot. By returning to Europe, I could likewise be of essential service to Holtz, whose family were Saxons, and whose commercial interests required the presence of a trusty agent for a few months at Hamburg.

Let me carry you, in few words, through the difficulties of my embarkation, and the incidents of a short stay at Batavia, and a long voyage over half the world to Hamburg.

Shortly after my return to Hamburg, from an excursion into Saxony to see Holtz's friends, I met with Mr. Cartwright, an American. After much fluctuation, I had previously resolved to content myself with writing to you, of whom I received such verbal information from several of our countrymen as removed my anxiety on your account. A very plausible tale, told me by some one that pretended to know, of Mrs. Talbot's marriage with a Mr. Cartwright, extinguished every new-born wish to revisit my native land, and I expected to set sail on my return to India, before it could be possible to hear from you.

I was on the eve of my departure, when the name of Cartwright, an American, then at Hamburg, reached my ears. The similarity of his name to that of the happy man who had supplanted the poor wanderer in the affections of Jane, and a suspicion that they might possibly be akin, and, consequently, that _this might afford me some information as to the character or merits of _that Cartwright, made me throw myself in his way.

You may easily imagine, what I shall defer relating, the steps which led us to a knowledge of each other, and by which I discovered that this Cartwright was the one mentioned to me, and that, instead of being already the husband of my Jane, his hopes of her favour depended on the certain proof of my death.

Cartwright's behaviour was in the highest degree disinterested. He might easily have left me in my original error, and a very few days would have sent me on a voyage which would have been equivalent to my death. On the contrary, his voluntary information, and a letter which he showed me, written in Jane's hand, created a new soul in my breast. Every foreign object vanished, and every ancient sentiment, connected with our unfortunate loves, was instantly revived. Ineffable tenderness, and an impatience next to rage to see her, reigned in my heart.

Yet, my friend, with all my confidence of a favourable reception from Jane,--her conduct now exempt from the irresistible control of her mother, and her tenderness for me as fervent as ever,--yet, since so excellent a man as Cartwright existed, since his claims were, in truth, antecedent to mine, since my death or everlasting absence would finally insure success to these claims, since his character was blemished by none of those momentous errors with which mine was loaded, since that harmony of opinion on religious subjects, without which marriage can never be a source of happiness to hearts touched by a true and immortal passion, was perfect in _his case,--never should mere passion have seduced me to her feet. If my reflections and experience had not changed my character,--if all _her views as to the final destiny and present obligations of human beings had not become _mine_,--I should have deliberately ratified the act of my eternal banishment.

Yes, my friend; this weather-beaten form and sunburnt face are not more unlike what you once knew, than my habits and opinions now and formerly. The incidents of a long voyage, the vicissitudes through which I have passed, have given strength to my frame, while the opportunities and occasions for wisdom which these have afforded me have made _my mind whole_. I have awakened from my dreams of doubt and misery, not to the cold and vague belief, but to the living and delightful consciousness, of every tie that can bind man to his Divine Parent and Judge.

Again I must refer you to our future interviews. A broken and obscure tale it would be which I could now relate. I am hurried, by my fears and suspenses--Yet it would give you pleasure to know every thing as soon as possible--some time likewise must elapse--_You and my sister have always been wise. The lessons of true piety it is the business of your lives to exemplify and to teach. Henceforth, if that principle, which has been my stay and my comfort in all the slippery paths and unlooked-for perils from which I have just been delivered, desert not my future steps, I hope to be no mean example and no feeble teacher of the same lessons. Indefatigable zeal and strenuous efforts are indeed incumbent on me in proportion to the extent of my past misconduct and the depth of my former degeneracy.

By what process of reflection I became thus, you shall speedily know: yet can you be at a loss to imagine it? _You_, who have passed through somewhat similar changes; who always made allowances for the temerity of youth, the fascinations of novelty; who always predicted that a few more years, the events of my peculiar destiny, the leisure of my long voyage, and that goodness of intention to which you were ever kind enough to admit my claims, would ultimately provide the remedy for all errors and evils, and make me worthy of the undivided love of all good men,--you, who have had this experience, and who have always regarded me in this light, will not wonder that reflection has, at length, raised me to the tranquil and steadfast height of simple and true piety.

Such, my friend, were my inducements to return; but first it was necessary to explain, by letter, to Holtz--But my messenger is at the door, eager to begone. Take this, my friend. Bring yourself, or send back by the same messenger, without a moment's delay, tidings of her, and of your safety. As to me, be not much concerned on my account. I am solemnly assured by my surgeon that nothing but time and a tranquil mind are necessary to restore me to health. The last boon no hand but yours can confer on your

H. COLDEN.

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