- Project Runeberg -  Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark /
10

(1889) [MARC] Author: Mary Wollstonecraft With: Henry Morley
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from the effects of which she would escape as the wife of a
citizen of the United States. But she did not marry. She
witnessed many of the horrors that came of the loosened
passions of an untaught populace. A child was born to
her—a girl whom she named after the dead friend of her
own girlhood. And then she found that she had leant upon
a reed. She was neglected; and was at last forsaken.
Having sent her to London, Imlay there visited her, to
explain himself away. She resolved on suicide, and in
dissuading her from that he gave her hope again. He needed
somebody who had good judgment, and who cared for his
interests, to represent him in some business affairs in
Norway. She undertook to act for him, and set out on the
voyage only a week after she had determined to destroy
herself.

The interest of this book which describes her travel is
quickened by a knowledge of the heart-sorrow that underlies
it all. Gilbert Imlay had promised to meet her upon her
return, and go with her to Switzerland. But the letters she
had from him in Sweden and Norway were cold, and she
came back to find that she was wholly forsaken for an actress
from a strolling company of players. Then she went up
the river to drown herself. She paced the road at Putney
on an October night, in 1795, in heavy rain, until her clothes
were drenched, that she might sink more surely, and then
threw herself from the top of Putney Bridge.

She was rescued, and lived on with deadened spirit. In 1796
these “Letters from Sweden and Norway” were published.
Early in 1797 she was married to William Godwin. On the
10th of September in the same year, at the ago of thirty-eight,
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin died, after the birth of the
daughter who lived to become the wife of Shelley. The
mother also would have lived, if a womanly feeling, in
itself to be respected, had not led her also to unwise
departure from the customs of the world. Peace be to her
memory. None but kind thoughts can dwell upon the life
of this too faithful disciple of Rousseau.

                                        H. M.

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