early July 1780

Letter 121. Mary Hays to Mrs. Collier at Tinwell,1 early July 1780.2


    I need not tell my dear Mamma, how painful her absence is to me, nor how tenderly I love her; her own affectionate heart will inform her of those things more faithfully than it is in the power of expression.

    Disappointment still pursues your poor girl! Gifford is in London, but refuses to do what is required of him, under a pretense of its not being in his power. Ridiculous excuse! Can four hundred pounds (and that not required till the end of six months), be an object to a man who is now come to town to take possession of a fortune of near twenty thousand? But I am not in the least surprized; tis so like the world, “the mean unfeeling selfish world.”3

     We have now but one hope remaining; if that fails, a separation must infallibly take place; perhaps to meet no more on this side eternity; ’tis expected monday next will decide our fate, as on that day we expect to have a letter from Fordingbridge in answer to some fresh proposals which have been made to Mr Eccles’s father; the last which ever will be made to him; if he complies. peace and thankfulness will be once more diffused in my heart; if not, I shall be plunged into the blackest despair. Yes, we must then part! I can no longer embarrass the best, the most amiable of parents; I will be the victim, although my life should prove the sacrifice. Why was I formed to feel everything in the extreme? Ah, my dear Madam, don’t you tremble for your girl? You know the sensibility of her soul. I have met with such frequent disappointments, that I hardly dare indulge a hope. Oh gracious and almighty God, whatever the event may be, give me resignation to thy will; teach me to submit without murmuring. When things go wrong, I feel myself very rebellious, and am ready to arraign providence, and tax my creator with cruelty – ’tis for this reason perhaps that I have been so long unhappy, to bring me to a just sense of my unworthiness – we are indeed shortsighted, sinful mortals. – I shall not close this letter till after the post comes in on monday, as I know your tenderness for you Maria, will make suspense painful; my heart beats with apprehension as the time approaches; what an interesting crisis! Do you not while you read participate in my agitations? You do, I know; my imagination paints you with the tear of sympathy glistening in your eye; ah! how soothing is the idea of your affection; you are indeed my Mamma; my heart feels for you a filial tenderness. Mrs Digby must not deny me a share of your regard for (I had almost said) I merit it by my ardent and sincere friendship. I expect a letter from you this evening, and shall feel very much mortified if I am disappointed, but of that I have hardly any apprehension, you could not forget me I am sure, as you would imagine I should anxiously wish to hear of your health and safety, and likewise the welfare of your friends. But I will now lay down my pen. – Adieu! my dear Mamma, for the present; on monday if I have time I will finish this letter, and acquaint you with my happiness or wretchedness; if not on tuesday morning; you will pardon the delay of a day.


Tuesday morning. I have not had time till this morning to resume my pen. We had the expected letter last night, the contents of which were favorable. God grant a happy issue to this affair! If the enquiries turn out as we wish, I think it will be settled in a fortnight, or three weeks at furthest; in my next letter I shall be able to inform you more particularly. Join with me, my dear Mamma, in thanks to the Almighty, for this prospect of success.

    I received your letter on saturday; how replete with the dictates of unrestrained tenderness! I will not attempt describing the sensibility of my heart to such a friendship, let it suffice to say ’tis impossible. Continue thus to write without constraint; nobody sees any more of your letters than I choose to communicate, and if they did, they would only find fresh reason to admire and esteem you.

    I am glad you received no hurt from the breaking down of the coach; Miss Roberts is indeed unlucky; but yet I am half inclined to envy her, for having it in her power to show those proofs of regard and attention, which I more than equally feel, although I have not the same opportunities of discovering them.

    Make my acknowledgements to Mrs Digby for her obliging enquiries after me, and tell her I am determined to love her whether she gives me leave or not; therefore she must not harden her heart against me.

    No letters from Priestlands4; when there are you may be assured I will send them as you desired.

    All friends are much obliged for your kind remembrance of them, and desire a return of compliments. –

    And now, my dearest Mamma, I must bid you adieu; for two reasons, the first and most material is that I have filled my paper, the other that I must dress, as we are going to my sister Dunkin’s5 to keep the anniversary of her wedding day, where I expect to meet a great deal of company. – I need not repeat how affectionately I love you, as I am certain you cannot entertain the least doubt of it, 

                                           Maria Hays


1 Brooks, Correspondence 214-15; Wedd, Love Letters 194-96. Wedd's title: "Mary to Mrs. Collier at Tinwell."

2 Tinwell is a small village in the county of Rutland, not far from Stamford, Lincolnshire. To the south is Easton on the Hill.

3 Lines from Brooke, Emily Montague, 1.4 (see also Letter 14).

4 Possibly a community located near Sherborne, Dorset. There was also a Priestlands Farm located near the village of Pennington, near Lymington, Hampshire.                        

5 Joanna Hays Dunkin, Mary's eldest sister.