c. late September 1797

Mary Hays, [Little John Street], to Hugh Skeys1 [c. late September 1797].2

 

Sir, 

      Myself & Mrs Fenwick3 were the only two female friends that were with Mrs Godwin during her last illness. Mrs F attended her from the beginning of her confinement with scarcely intermission. I was with her for the four last days of her life, & though I have had but little experience in scenes of this sort, yet I can confirm that my imagination could never have pictured to me a mind so tranquil, under affliction so great. She was all kindness and attention, and cheerfully complied with everything that was recommended to her by her friends. In many instances she employed her mind with more sagacity on the subject of her illness than any of the persons about her. Her whole soul seemed to dwell with anxious fondness on her friends; & her affections, which were at all times more alive than perhaps those of any other human being, seemed to gather new disinterestedness upon this trying occasion. The attachment and regret of those who surrounded her appeared to increase every hour, and if her principles are to be judged of by what I saw of her death, I should say that no principles could be more conducive to calmness and consolation.


1 Hugh Skeys (1765-1810) was a Dublin wine merchant who also traded in Portugal.  He was married briefly to Wollstonecraft's friend, Frances "Fanny" Blood (1758-85), who died during childbirth in their first year of marriage; his second wife was Elizabeth Delane. He maintained his connections with Wollstonecraft thereafter, which led to his acquaintance with Mary Hays. 

Taken from Paul C. Kegan, William Godwin: His Friends and Contemporaries, 2 vols (London: King, 1876), 1.282; see also Brooks, Correspondence 505.

3 First reference in the Hays correspondence to Eliza Fenwick (1766-1840), whose friendship with Hays would last, in person and through their letters, into the late 1820s and probably beyond. Godwin seems to dispute Hays's claim here in his letter to Hays on 10 October 1797. For more on Fenwick, see her entry in the Biographical Index.