15 April 1793

Theophilus Lindsey,1 Essex Street, Strand, to Mary Hays, [Gainsford Street], 15 April 1793 [no address page].2

 

Essex Street, Strand

April 15. 1793

 

Madam

      I should be glad to know any way in which I could make a return for the valuable present of your book;3 for which you would have received my thanks much earlier, had I been acquainted with your address.

      Eusebia4 had led me to think highly of the author: but many things in the Letters and Essays have raised my ideas much higher, in which are such traces of just thought and well-digested reading on a variety of subjects, and of a lively correct imagination[.]

      The scarecrow doctrine of Necessity you have shown how to strip of its horrid form, and to familiarize and make it ^easy,^ and I think to vindicate it’s truth, to those that will read and make use of their understandings.

      In short I like both your metaphysics and divinity: but most of all, what appears in every page, the enlightened mind, turned to virtue and to God, and ardent to inspire others with the same sentiments and engage in the same pursuits. Madam, always your much

                        obliged servant,

                                    T. Lindsey.


1 Theophilus Lindsey (1723-1808), after resigning his living in the Church of England following the failure of the Feathers Tavern Petition in 1772, became one of the leading Unitarians (“rational dissenters”) of his day and founder of the influential Unitarian congregation in Essex Street, London, where he ministered from 1778 to 1793, turning pastoral duties over to his assistant, John Disney.  In the 1780s he was a correspondent of the poet, Mary Scott (1751-93) and her brother, the Unitarian minister Russell Scott, and in the 1790s of Mary Hays. Lindsey authored several defenses of Unitarianism, including his controversial reply to Robert Robinson’s Plea for the Divinity of Christ (1776) entitled A Historical View of the State of the Unitarian Doctrine and Worship from the Reformation to our own time, with some account of the obstructions it has met with at different periods (1783).  He also wrote An Apology on Resigning the Vicarage of Catterick, Yorkshire (1774) and its sequel in 1776.  For Lindsey's complete correspondence, see The Letters of Theophilus Lindsey, ed. Grayson Ditchfield, 2 vols (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Church of England Record Society, 2007-12). 


2 A. F. Wedd Collection, shelfmark 24.93(1), Dr. Williams's Library, London; Brooks, Correspondence 280; Walker, Idea of Being Free 190-91.


3 Hays's Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous (1793).


4 The nom de plume used by Hays in her publication the previous year, Cursory Remarks on an Enquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public or Social Worship: inscribed to Gilbert Wakefield, B.A., late fellow of Jesus-College, Cambridge (London: T. Knott, No. 47 Lombard Street, 1792).