for the purpose of making the matter as plain as possible, I now say that you can now drop the subject, dismiss your thoughts (if you ever had any) from me forever, and leave this letter unanswered, without calling forth one accusing murmur from me. And I will even go further, and say that if it will add anything to your comfort or peace of mind to do so, it is my sincere wish that you should.
Do not understand by this that I wish to cut your acquaintance.
I mean no such thing.
What I do wish is that our further acquaintance shall depend upon yourself.
If such further acquaintance would contribute nothing to your happiness, I am sure it would not to mine.
If you feel yourself in any degree bound to me, I am now willing to release you, provided you wish it; while, on the other hand, I am willing and even anxious to bind you faster, if I can be convinced that it will in any considerable degree add to your happiness.. This, indeed, is the whole question with me.
All that we know of the sequel is contained in a letter which Lincoln
wrote to his friend Mrs. Browning
nearly a year later, after Miss Owens
had finally returned to Kentucky
, in which, without mentioning the lady's name, he gave a seriocomic description of what might be called a courtship to escape matrimony.
He dwells on his disappointment at her changed appearance, and continues:
But what could I do?
I had told her sister that I would take her for better or for worse, and I made a point of honor and conscience in all things to stick to my word, especially if others had been induced to act on it, which in this case I had no doubt they had; for I was now fairly convinced that no other man on earth would have her, and hence the conclusion that they were bent on holding me to my bargain.