c. October 1780

Letter 130. Mary Hays to Miss Eccles, c. October 1780.1


    Your very affectionate letter, my dear Madam, is truly flattering – my heart feels all the powers of it; your kind invitation has roused me from a stupidity, a lethargy of sorrow into which I was sinking; the idea of knowing, of loving the relations of my Eccles, is indeed interesting; yet my soul feels the keenest emotions of anguish when I reflect how differently I hoped to meet you! Alas! the cold hand of adversity has nipped in the bud all my promised joys, and at this time there is not in the world a wretch so miserable as the unfortunate girl who is now writing to you. I have a thousand anxious fears lest my dear Miss Eccleses should esteem me less when known than they do at present; I sincerely assure them that I have no external charms to prepossess them in my favor; your brother (my dear ladies) loved me because he knew the tenderness and sincerity of my heart; the sensibility of my soul; and the warmth and steadiness of my affections.

    If I can get fortitude to return with your father to Fordingbridge (the native place of my beloved; the place where his dear remains are interred), I must intreat to be indulged in one request, which is to live intirely secluded from the world, that I may not be introduced to any out of your own family, and when company comes in, be permitted to retire to my own apartment; for in my situation amusements of all kinds are insupportably irksome; my mind is incapable of tasting them; every exertion is painful; dress I have determined to give up, notwithstanding the remonstrances of my friends to the contrary; I only took pleasure in it to appear amiable in the eyes of my Eccles; I have now no object to please! My soul ardently pants after retirement; I fly to my sisters for a refuge from the impertinence of society; may I flatter myself that you will with open arms receive the poor unhappy fugitive? I long, yet equally dread to embrace you – support me, oh my God! through the affecting scene! My heart palpitates at the idea! Oh! what will be its sensations at entering a house once the residence of all I held valuable? My tenderest, my faithfullest friend!

                        “Oh! he was dearer to my soul than peace!

                        Far Dearer than the vital air I breathe!”2

Return your father my most grateful acknowledgments for his kindness. I purpose accepting his obliging offer, if as the time approaches, I find my spirits capable of undertaking the journey. Present my affectionate compliments to your sister, and be assured I am, my dear Madam, your sincere friend

                                                Maria Hays


1 Brooks, Correspondence 226-27; Wedd, Love Letters 212-13. Wedd's title: "Mary to Miss Eccles."

2 Source unknown. Most likely the lines are by Hays.