Toronto Oct 20 1880
12 Hayter Street
My dear Ida –
I have been forced as well by circumstances as by inclination to think of you continually lately. I have not heard from you for over a month. Mostly my own fault I suppose, but still I was expecting to hear from you before this. Indeed I have been watching every mail and that means watching three times a day. Perhaps I did not write a satisfactory answer to your last. Perhaps I was not able to do so. You ask me if I do not care to retain your love without the expectation & I can answer by saying that I am anxious to retain your love at any cost, but I dont see why how1 you could be cruel enough to add the last part of that sentence. Again further on in your letter you seem to draw the inference without declaring it in so many words, that because all my letters were not as you expected, that therefore you were not always esteemed & counted first with me. I am very very sorry if you ever thought this; for if so you were just as far as possible from the truth. I have loved you once & continually and do yet as I do not think I can never love any one else. I am more and more of the opinion expressed by you in your last letter that only one such love comes to us in this life. I love you today as warmly and truly as the first time I ever held you in my arms. I wanted to see you very much. Of course I took it for granted that you being you and I being ‘me’ you would at least receive me kindly.
“I will be first or not at all” I cant get away from this. Did you really think you were’nt first that you were bound at any cost to be “not at all”? And you assert that you are as true to me to day as you ever were. I cannot understand then why I am made to suffer for I am sure you were true to me once. Could’nt I tell that when I pressed you close to my own breast? Could’nt I tell it when I felt ‘thy’ arms clinging about my neck? Could’nt I tell it when I could read the truth in your own eyes? Could’nt I tell it when I was assured that your lips loved mine as mine yours? And do you assert that that is all true yet? well then why cannot I hold you close in my arms as I used to? why then cannot I love you as I used to as my own Ida? I am all every way. I am not altogether sure of the truth of Tennyson’s verse “I hold it true” 2 I cannot understand you Ida. I cannot understand your letter. I wish I could, out of all the past in all the present from all the future I am convinced of this one thing that I love you as my life.
3 The Union is going on. I have not yet gone. We hope to attend the evening meetings. I was to hear Gough last night. I have seen a number of the boys. Met Mr. Alexander as I was coming from lecture to day. Perhaps I may write you when the Union is over. Would you like to hear? J.J.
4 I was selling old5 books the other day & I came to one wh (sic)6 had been to Simcoe, and on the flysheet was written “out of the love I bear thee yield I my life for thee” I did’nt see that one. – J.J.
7 You say we do not stand today as four years ago. I know certainly that we dont. You say there is something missing. Is it old-time confidence? Not on my part I think. Is it old-time love? Not on my part un-less my heart lies. What is wanting. Do you trust me as well? I did’nt know before I received your very painful letter to me in Osgoode but what we did stand the same as four years ago. It is for you to answer your own question I cant. I am ignorant of the “something missing” I know one thing “missing” – that I miss – by your letters full of the warmth good-will & love & yes of your very self of some time ago. Now I have a notion to not send this letter Perhaps you will not be ready to accept it. If not acceptable only try & remember that it expreses my feelings and for the love I bear you I write. – J.J.
- Jacob first wrote “why” and then crossed out the “w” and used the “h” to begin “how” such that the “o” is written superimposed over the “y” ↩
- Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809 –1892) wrote the poem In Memoriam A.H.H. to honour the memory of his friend and fellow writer Arthur Henry Hallam (1811 – 1833). The poem was first published anonymously in 1850 and then was published in Tennyson’s Works in 1891 by Macmillan (London). Hallam had been engaged to Tennyson’s sister Emily when he suffered a fatal stroke in Vienna – he was 22 years old. The line referred to by Jacob is from the fourth and final stanza of the poem, which reads as follows:
. . . I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all. ↩
- Written in cross-writing, begun in the left margin of the last page of the letter. ↩
- Written in cross-writing, begun in the left margin of the third page of the letter. ↩
- A three-letter word, difficult to decipher. It might be “2nd”. ↩
- Perhaps a short-hand for “which”. ↩
- Written in cross-writing, begun in the left margin of the first page. ↩