Thus encouraged by the princess’s changeless friendship, I wrote to her, leaving little to be guessed of my state of mind, withholding nothing of the circumstances surrounding me. Imagination dealt me all my sharpest misery, and now that Ottilia resumed her place there, I became infinitely peacefuller, and stronger to subdue my hungry nature. It caused me no pang, strangely though it read in my sight when written, to send warm greetings and respects to the prince her husband.
Is it any waste of time to write of love? The trials of life are in it, but in a narrow ring and a fierier. You may learn to know yourself through love, as you do after years of life, whether you are fit to lift them that are about you, or whether you are but a cheat, and a load on the backs of your fellows. The impure perishes, the inefficient languishes, the moderate comes to its autumn of decay—these are of the kinds which aim at satisfaction to die of it soon or late. The love that survives has strangled craving; it lives because it lives to nourish and succour like the heavens.
But to strangle craving is indeed to go through a death before you reach your immortality.
But again, to write of a love perverted by all the elements contributing to foolishness, and foredoomed to chastisement, would be a graceless business. Janet and I went through our trial, she, you may believe, the braver under the most to bear.
I was taken by Temple down to the ship—smelling East of London, for the double purpose of trying to convince Captain Welsh of the extravagance of a piece of chivalry he was about to commit, and of seeing a lady with a history, who had recently come under his guardianship. Temple thought I should know her, but he made a mystery of it until the moment of our introduction arrived, not being certain of her identity, and not wishing to have me disappointed. It appeared that Captain Welsh questioned his men closely after he had won his case, and he arrived at the conclusion that two or three of them had been guilty of false swearing in his interests. He did not dismiss them, for, as he said, it was twice a bad thing to turn sinners loose: it was to shove them out of the direct road of amendment, and it was a wrong to the population. He insisted, however, on paying the legal costs and an indemnity for the collision at sea; and Temple was in great distress about it, he having originally suggested the suspicion of his men to Captain Welsh. ’I wanted to put him on his guard against those rascals,’ Temple said, ‘and I suppose,’ he sighed, ’I wanted the old captain to think me enormously clever all round.’ He shook himself, and assumed a bearish aspect, significant of disgust and recklessness. ’The captain ’ll be ruined, Richie; and he’s not young, you know, to go on sailing his barque Priscilla for ever. If he pays, why, I ought to pay, and then you ought to pay, for I shouldn’t have shown off before him alone, and then the wind that fetched you ought to pay. Toss common sense overboard, there’s no end to your fine-drawings; that’s why it’s always safest to swear by the Judge.’