But Vanessa remained undaunted. " You once had a maxim," she replied, " which was to act what was right, and not to mind what the world would say. I wish you would keep it now. Pray what can be wrong in seeing and advising an unhappy young woman? I cannot imagine. You cannot but know that your frowns make my life unsupportable."
Vanessa herself, however, exonerates the dean; it was not because of him that two lives were filled with misery, but because of the irresistible force of her own love. Indeed, she wrote, "You endeavour by severities to force me from you. Nor can I blame you; for with the utmost distress and confusion I behold myself the cause of uneasy reflections to you."
But she assured him also, from the bitter anguish of her heart, that love had mastered her completely. "Put my passion under the utmost restraint," she wrote; "send me as distant from you as the earth will allow; yet you cannot banish those charming ideas which will ever stick by me whilst I have the use of memory; nor is the love I beat you rooted only in my soul, for there is not a single atom of my frame that is not blended with it."
At length, however, in the inevitable sequence of events, her love gave way to rage. Stella, Vanessa became convinced, was the obstacle which stood between herself and Swift. She hated Stella, therefore, with all the hatred of a despairing, jealous woman. A rumour, moreover, had reached her ears-a persistent, harassing rumour-that, in 1716, Swift secretly had married Stella
Could this be true? Overwhelmed by suspicion, consumed by doubt and fear, she called on Stella and taxed her openly with the question
It was an angry scene, and Swift, when he heard of it, was furious. This was an indignity which he could not tolerate. Stella, the woman whose good name was to him more dear than anything, had been insulted. His anger knew no bounds; he refused to see Vanessa; he banished her from his presence for ever, and henceforth refused even to hold communication with her.
Thus, after one weak action of revenge-she revoked the will which she had made in favour of the dean, and authorised her executors, after her death, to publish his letters to her-she retired to the country, and there, two months later, miserable and wretched, she died, a broken-hearted woman.
The news of her death distressed Dean Swift pathetically; he realised that the responsibility rested mainly on his shoulders and mourned truly for the woman who had sacrificed her life to love of him.
In 1728, moreover, when Stella also died, his cup of sorrow was filled to the very brim.
Stella had been in delicate health for some years, and the dean had been awaiting the end in grief and apprehension. " I think," he wrote to a friend, when already he saw the shadow of death lying across his path, " that there is not a greater folly of entering into too strict a partnership or friendship with the loss of which a man must be absolutely miserable."
This may have been the remark of a cynical egoist, but in it lies a rare, pathetic truth, the story of a great man's love and dread of loneliness. Swift was now too old a man to form another friendship, and henceforth, until his death, he lived in his deanery a dismal, lonely, melancholy life. The name of Stella he never mentioned; it seemed that she had vanished from his memory, for the past was a forbidden topic in his household. But Swift had not forgotten; he spoke truly when he declared that he was no ordinary lover, for a truer love than his has never been, and true it remained until the end.
But it was not until after his death that, hidden in a secret drawer of his bureau, was found the key of the mystery of his life. It was a lock of hair, and with it was this inscription: "Only a woman's hair. Only the memory of a woman's love, of a life's devotion-only that and nothing more."
Love Songs, Old And New No. 2. Mary Of Argyle
Written by C. Jefferys
Composed by S. Nelson
i. I have heard the ma-vis sing-ing
His love-song to the morn;
I have seen thedewdrop clinging To the
J. B. Cramer & Co.
Though thy voice may lose its sweetness, And thine eye its brightness, too;
Though thy step may lack its fleetness, And thy hair its sunny hue:
Still to me wilt thou be dearer Than all the world can own.
I have loved thee for thy beauty,
But not for that alone: I have watched thy heart, dear Mary,
And its goodness was the wile That has made thee mine for ever,
Bonny Mary of Argyle.