For close to a year, I believed my wife dead. When I learned it was not so, but that rather she had been placed in a horrible situation she could not extracate herself from, I did my utmost to save her from it. Ultimately, I succeeded, but my wife was not unmoved by the ordeal. She informed me that she did not love me anymore, at least not in the way a wife should love a husband. Or perhaps it would be better to say the person she has become could not love the person I had become.
Although we are living seperately now, neither of us wish to embarrass our families or make a mockery of the matrimonial institution with a divorce: I continue to send her money to live in the style in which she is accustomed and she maintains the house as she pleases. I have rented a rather more humble flat near the home of my colleague, Mr. Norrell. She wants for nothing material and I only regret I cannot meet the other obligations of a husband.
I had, of course, mourned for her loss, but now I must do so over again, and it is no less painful. Firstly, then, I ask: How can one pass beyond (emotionally, I mean) the loss of a loved one who one is obliged to see more-or-less regularly because of an persisting legal and social contract?
And secondly: I am a man not yet out of my thirties and (I flatter myself) passing charming. If and when the time comes when I am prepared to keep the company of ladies again, how best to do so discretely, so that no-one (My dear wife especially!) is scandalized?
In answering, it would be best, I think, to take note of two facts: I am something of a public figure, and live in England in the year 1817.
(I am sure I can rely upon your discretion in this matter)