- Project Runeberg -  Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark /
9

(1889) [MARC] Author: Mary Wollstonecraft With: Henry Morley
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noble life now to be touched in its enthusiasms by the spirit
of the Revolution, to be caught in the great storm, shattered,
and lost among its wrecks.

To Burke’s attack on the French Revolution Mary
Wollstonecraft wrote an Answer—one of many answers
provoked by it—that attracted much attention. This was
followed by her “Vindication of the Rights of Woman,”
while the air was full of declamation on the “Rights of
Man.” The claims made in this little book were in advance
of the opinion of that day, but they are claims that have in
our day been conceded. They are certainly not
revolutionary in the opinion of the world that has become a
hundred years older since the book was written.

At this time Mary Wollstonecraft had moved to rooms in
Store Street, Bedford Square. She was fascinated by Fuseli
the painter, and he was a married man. She felt herself to
be too strongly drawn towards him, and she went to Paris
at the close of the year 1792, to break the spell. She felt
lonely and sad, and was not the happier for being in a
mansion lent to her, from which the owner was away, and
in which she lived surrounded by his servants. Strong
womanly instincts were astir within her, and they were not
all wise folk who had been drawn around her by her
generous enthusiasm for the new hopes of the world, that
made it then, as Wordsworth felt, a very heaven to the
young.

Four months after she had gone to Paris, Mary
Wollstonecraft met at the house of a merchant, with whose wife
she had become intimate, an American named Gilbert
Imlay. He won her affections. That was in April, 1793.
He had no means, and she had home embarrassments, for
which she was unwilling that he should become in any way
responsible. A part of the new dream in some minds then
was of a love too pure to need or bear the bondage of
authority. The mere forced union of marriage ties
implied, it was said, a distrust of fidelity. When Gilbert
Imlay would have married Mary Wollstonecraft, she
herself refused to bind him; she would keep him legally exempt
from her responsibilities towards the father, sisters, brothers,
whom she was supporting. She took his name and called
herself his wife, when the French Convention, indignant
at the conduct of the British Government, issued a decree

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