Shelley and Mary arrived back in London after their elopement to face the almost universal disapproval of family and friends, and severe money problems. Shelley was now financially responsible for Mary and Claire as well as Harriet, who was heavily pregnant with their second child. Godwin refused to see him, but demanded financial support. Mary wrote this impassioned letter to Shelley when he was in hiding from his numerous creditors. They could meet only on Sundays, when it was illegal to make arrests for debt.
This is Mary Shelley’s earliest surviving letter.
For what a minute did I see you yesterday – is this the way my beloved that we are to live till the sixth in the morning I look for you and when I awake I turn to look on you – dearest Shelley you are solitary and uncomfortable why cannot I be with you to cheer you and to press you to my heart oh my love you have no friends why then should you be torn from the only one who has affection for you – But I shall see you tonight and that is the hope that I shall live on through the day– be happy dear Shelley and think of me – why do I say this dearest & only one I know how tenderly you love me and how you repine at this absence from me – when shall we be free from fear of treachery?–
I send you the letter I told you of from Harriet and a letter we received yesterday from fanny the history of this interview I will tell you when I come – but perhaps as it is so rainy a day Fanny will not be allowed to come at all –
My love my own one be happy –
I was so dreadfully tired yesterday that I was obliged to take a coach home forgive this extravagance but I am so very weak at present & I had been so agitated through the day that I was not able to stand a morning rest however will set me quite right again and I shall be quite well when I meet you this evening – will you be at the door of the coffee house at five oclock as it is désagreable to go into those places and I shall be there exactly at the time & we will go into St. Pauls where we can sit down
I send you Diogenes as you have no books – Hookham was so ill tempered as not to send the books I asked for
Percy Bysshe Shelley; (1822, or later recovered) Mary Shelley; (bequest, 1851) Sir Percy and Lady Shelley; (bequest, 1889) Lady Shelley; (gift, 1893) Bodleian.
Mary Shelley Letters, i, pp.1-2; Shelley’s Guitar, no. 49.