c. April-May 1796

Mary Wollstonecraft to [Mary Hays?], undated [c. April-May 1796].1


[I went to France] to lose in public happiness the sense of private misery . . .

       Love, dear, delusive love! . . . rigorous reason had forced [me] to resign; and now [my] rational prospects were blasted, just as [I] had learned to be contented with rational enjoyments . . .  [I was] existing . . . in a living tomb, and [my] life [was] but an exercise of fortitude, continually on the stretch. . . . During [Imlay’s] absence, affection had led [me] to make numberless excuses for his conduct [but when I desired to see him once more] he returned no other answer, except declaring, with unjustifiable passion, that he would not see [me].

       It was not for the world  . . . that I complied with this request [of retaining the name of Imlay], but I was unwilling to cut the Gordian knot, or tear myself away in appearance, when I could not in reality.


1 Text taken from Hays's biographical tribute to Wollstonecraft in The Annual Necrology for 1797-98 (London: J. Phillips, 1800), pp. 411ff; see also Godwin's Memoirs of Mary Wollstonecraft, chapter 8; Brooks, Correspondence, 305; Todd, Collected Letters 340.