October 27 1814: Oh! Those Redeeming Eyes of Mary


October 27 1814, Percy Shelley, in hiding from creditors, who threatened his arrest, writes to Mary Godwin.

Know, my best Mary, that I feel myself, in your absence, almost degraded to the level of the vulgar and impure. I feel their vacant, stiff eyeballs fixed upon me, until I seem to have been infected with their loathsome meaning, — to inhale a sickness that subdues me to languor. Oh ! those redeeming eyes of Mary, that they might beam upon me before I sleep ! Praise my forbearance, 0 beloved one, that I do not rashly fly to you, and at least secure a moment’s bliss. Wherefore should I delay? Do you not long to meet me ? All that is exalted and buoyant in my nature urges me toward you, reproaches me with cold delay, laughs at all fear, and spurns to dream of prudence. Why am I not with you ? Alas! we must not meet.

I did not, for I could not, express to you my admiration of your letter to Fanny; the simple and impressive language in which you clothed your argument, the full weight you gave to every part, the complete picture you exhibited of what you intended to describe, was more than I expected, f How hard and stubborn must be the spirit that does not confess you to be the subtlest and most exquisitely fashioned intelligence ! that among women there is no equal mind to yours ! And I possess this treasure! How beyond all estimate is my felicity ! Yes; I am encouraged, — I care not what happens; I am most happy. Meet me to-morrow at three o’clock in St Paul’s, if you do not hear before. Adieu! remember, love, at vespers before sleep. I do not omit my prayers.

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