The illness of our excellent Miss Halcombe has afforded me the opportunity of enjoying an unexpected intellectual pleasure.
I refer to the perusal (which I have just completed) of this interesting Diary.
There are many hundred pages here. I can lay my hand on my heart, and declare that every page has charmed, refreshed, delighted me.
To a man of my sentiments it is unspeakably gratifying to be able to say this.
I allude to Miss Halcombe.
I refer to the Diary.
Yes! these pages are amazing. The tact which I find here, the discretion, the rare courage, the wonderful power of memory, the accurate observation of character, the easy grace of style, the charming outbursts of womanly feeling, have all inexpressibly increased my admiration of this sublime creature, of this magnificent Marian. The presentation of my own character is masterly in the extreme. I certify, with my whole heart, to the fidelity of the portrait. I feel how vivid an impression I must have produced to have been painted in such strong, such rich, such massive colours as these. I lament afresh the cruel necessity which sets our interests at variance, and opposes us to each other. Under happier circumstances how worthy I should have been of Miss Halcombe--how worthy Miss Halcombe would have been of ME.
The sentiments which animate my heart assure me that the lines I have just written express a Profound Truth.
Those sentiments exalt me above all merely personal considerations. I bear witness, in the most disinterested manner, to the excellence of the stratagem by which this unparalleled woman surprised the private interview between Percival and myself-- also to the marvellous accuracy of her report of the whole conversation from its beginning to its end.
Those sentiments have induced me to offer to the unimpressionable doctor who attends on her my vast knowledge of chemistry, and my luminous experience of the more subtle resources which medical and magnetic science have placed at the disposal of mankind. He has hitherto declined to avail himself of my assistance. Miserable man!
Finally, those sentiments dictate the lines--grateful, sympathetic, paternal lines--which appear in this place. I close the book. My strict sense of propriety restores it (by the hands of my wife) to its place on the writer's table. Events are hurrying me away. Circumstances are guiding me to serious issues. Vast perspectives of success unroll themselves before my eyes. I accomplish my destiny with a calmness which is terrible to myself. Nothing but the homage of my admiration is my own. I deposit it with respectful tenderness at the feet of Miss Halcombe.
I breathe my wishes for her recovery.
I condole with her on the inevitable failure of every plan that she has formed for her sister's benefit. At the same time, I entreat her to believe that the information which I have derived from her Diary will in no respect help me to contribute to that failure. It simply confirms the plan of conduct which I had previously arranged. I have to thank these pages for awakening the finest sensibilities in my nature--nothing more.
To a person of similar sensibility this simple assertion will explain and excuse everything.
Miss Halcombe is a person of similar sensibility.
In that persuasion I sign myself, Fosco.