On October 28 1814, Percy Shelley writes to Mary Godwin.
My beloved Mary, I do not know whether these transient meetings produce not as much pain as pleasure. What have I said? I do not mean it. I will not forget the sweet moments when I saw your eyes, “the divine rapture of the few and fleeting kisses. Yet, indeed, this must cease; indeed, we must not part thus wretchedly to meet amid the comfortless tumult of business, ” to part, I know not how.
Well, dearest love, to-morrow, “to-morrow night. That eternal clock! Oh, that I could “fright the steeds of lazy-paced Time “! I do not think that I am less impatient now than formerly to repossess – to entirely engross – my own treasured love. seems so unworthy a cause for the slightest separation. I could reconcile it to my own feelings to go to prison if they would cease to persecute us with interruptions.
I must return.
Your thoughts alone can waken mine to energy; my mind without yours is dead and cold as the dark midnight river when the moon is down. It seems as if you alone could shield me from impurity and vice. If I were absent from you long, I should shudder with horror at myself; my understanding becomes undisciplined without you.. .. How divinely sweet a task it is to imitate each other’s excellences, and each moment to become wiser in this surpassing love, so that, constituting but one being, all real knowledge may be comprised in the maxim yvoi6i o-tavrov (Know thyself), with infinitely more justice than in its narrow and common application!
I enclose you Hookham’s note; what do you think of it? My head aches; I am not well; I am tired with this comfortless estrangement from all that is dear to me. My own dearest love, good-night I meet you in Staples Inn at twelve to-morrow—half an hour before twelve. I have written to Hooper and Sir J. Shelley.