It need hardly be said that the woman by whom these letter were written had no thought that they would be read by anyone but the person to whom they were addressed. But a request, conveyed under circumstances which the writer herself would have regarded as all-commanding, urges that they should now be given to the world; and, so far as is possible with a due regard to the claims of privacy, what is here printed presents the letters as they were first written in their complete form and sequence.
Very little has been omitted which in any way bears upon the devotion of which they are a record. A few names of persons and localities have been changed; and several short notes (not above twenty in all), together with some passages bearing too intimately upon events which might be recognized, have been left out without indication of their omission.
It was a necessary condition to the present publication that the authorship of these letters should remain unstated. Those who know will keep silence; those who do not, will not find here any data likely to guide them to the truth.
The story which darkens these pages cannot be more fully indicated while the feelings of some who are still living have to be consulted; nor will the reader find the root of the tragedy explained in the letters themselves. But one thing at least may be said as regards the principal actors—that to the memory of neither of them does any blame belong. They were equally the victims of circumstances, which came whole out of the hands of fate and remained, so far as one of the two was concerned, a mystery to the day of her death.