’A long time has passed without your hearing from me, and I am sure you must have said more than once: “Well, that priest has more sense than I gave him credit for. He took the hint. He understood that it would be useless for us to continue to write long letters to each other about remorse of conscience and Mr. Poole’s criticism of the Bible.” But the sight of my handwriting will call into question the opinion you have formed of my good sense, and you will say: “Here he is, beginning it all over again.” No, I am not. I am a little ashamed of my former letters, and am writing to tell you so. My letters, if I write any, will be quite different in the future, thanks to your candour. Your letter from Rapallo cured me; like a surgeon’s knife, it took out the ulcer that was eating my life away. The expression will seem exaggerated, I know; but let it remain. You no doubt felt that I was in ignorance of my own state of feelings regarding you, and you wrote just such a letter as would force me to look into my heart and to discover who I really was. You felt that you could help me to some knowledge of myself by telling me about yourself.
’The shock on reading your confession—for I look upon your Rapallo letter as one—was very great, for on reading it I felt that a good deal that I had written to you about the salvation of your soul was inspired, not by any pure fear that I had done anything that might lose a soul to God, but by pure selfishness. I did not dare to write boldly that I loved yourself, and would always love you; I wore a mask and a disguise, and in order to come to terms with myself I feel it necessary to confess to you; otherwise all the suffering I have endured would be wasted.
’But this is not all my confession; worse still remains. I have discovered that when I spoke against you in church, and said things that caused you to leave the parish, I did not do so, as I thought, because I believed that the morality of my parish must be maintained at any cost. I know now that jealousy—yes, sensual jealousy—prompted me. And when I went to my sisters to ask them to appoint you to the post of music-teacher in their school, I did not do so for their sake, but for my own, because I wished to have you back in the parish. But I do not wish you to think that when I wrote about atonement I wrote what I knew to be untrue. I did not; the truth was hidden from me. Nor did I wish to get you back to the parish in order that I might gratify my passion. All these things were very vague, and I didn’t understand myself until now. I never had any experience of life till I met you. And is it not curious that one should know so little of one’s self, for I might have gone down to my grave without knowing how false I was at heart, if I had not been stricken down with a great illness.