MARY HAYS IN THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM GODWIN AND MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT



Excerpts taken from 

  • The Letters of William Godwin, vols. 1-2, ed. Pamela Clemit  (Oxford: OUP, 2011, 2014)
  • The Collected Letters of Mary Wollstonecraft, ed. Janet Todd (London: Allen Lane, 2003. 

 

Wollstonecraft to Godwin, 2 August 1796 (Todd 345)

 

From the style of the note, in which your epistle was enveloped, Miss Hays seems plus triste que ordinaire. Have you seen her? . . .  (345)


Wollstonecraft to Godwin, [17 August 1796] (Todd 349-50)

 

. . . I shall take this letter, just before dinner time, to ask you to come and dine with me, and Fanny, whom I have shut out to day. Should you be engaged  come in the evening. Miss H— seldom stays late, never to supper – or to morrow – as you wish . . . (350)


Godwin to Wollstonecraft, [17 August 1796] (Clemit 1.173-75)

 

. . . . Be happy. Resolve to be happy. You deserve to be so. Every thing that interferes with it, is weakness & wandering; & a woman, like you, can, must, shall, shake it off. Afford, for instance, no food for the morbid madness, & no triumph to the misanthropical gloom, of your afternoon visitor [Hays]. Call up, with firmness, the energies, which, I am sure, you so eminently possess. . . . [174]

 

Godwin to Wollstonecraft, [19 August 1796] [Clemit 1.176-77]

 

I have no answer to make to your fable, which I acknowledge to be uncommonly ingenious & well composed. I see not however its application, either to Wednesday when miss Hayes came, & when, as you confess, my visit gave you spirits, or to yesterday, when the presence of Margaret is the next room tortured me. . . . [176]

 

Wollstonecraft to Godwin, [10 September 1796] (Todd 359-60)

 

. . . I am almost afraid on reflection that an indistinct intuition of our affection produced the effect on Miss H— that distressed me – She has owned to me that she cannot endure to see others enjoy the mutual affection from which she is debarred – I will write a kind note to her to day to ease my conscience; for when I am happy myself, I am made up of milk and honey, I would fain make every body else so -- . . . (360)

 

Wollstonecraft to Godwin, 28 September 1796 (Todd 368)

 

I was detained at Miss Hay’s, where I met MrsBunn, as it was necessary for me to out stay her. But this is not the worst part of the story. MrsBunn was engaged to dined [sic] at Opie’s, who had promised to bring her to see me this evening –. They will not stay long of course – so do as you please I have no objection to your drinking tea with them – But should you not like it – may I request you drink tea with M. Hays, and come to me at an early hour. Nay, I wish you would call on me in your way for half an hour – as soon as you can rise from table; I will then give you the money.

 

Wollstonecraft to Godwin, [30 September 1796] (Todd 369-70)

 

 . . . You do not know how much I admired your self-government, last night, when your voice betrayed the struggle it cost you – I am glad that you force me to love you more and more, in spite of my fear of being pierced to the heart by every one on whom I rest my mighty stock of affection. – Your tenderness was considerate, as well as kind, -- Miss Hays entering, in the midst of the last sentence, I hastily laid  [370] my letter aside, without finishing, and have lost the remain – Is it sunk in the quicksand of Love? . . . 

 

Wollstonecraft to Godwin, 4 July 1797 (Todd 427-29)

 

 . . . I think you wrong – yes; with the most decided conviction I dare to say it, having still in my mind the unswervableprinciples of justice and humanity. You judge not in your own case as in that of another. You give a softer name to folly and immorality when it flatters – yes, I must say it – your vanity, than to mistaken passion, when it was extended to another – you termed Miss Hay’s conduct insanity when only her own happiness was envolved – I cannot forget the strength of your [429] expressions – and you treat with a mildness calculated to foster it, a romantic, selfishness, and pamper conceit, which will even lead the object to – I was going to say misery – but I believe her incapable of feeling it. Her want of sensibility with respect to her family first disgusted me – Then to obtrude herself on me, to see affection, and instead of feeling sympathy, to endeavor to undermined [sic] it, certainly resembles the conduct of the fictitious being, to whose dignity she aspires. Yet you, at the very moment, commenced a correspondence with her, whom you had previously almost neglected – you brought me a letter without a conclusion – and you changed countenance at the reply – My old wounds bleed afresh – What did not blind confidence, and unsuspecting truth, lead me to – my very soul trembles sooner than endure the hundred part of what I have suffer [sic], I could wish my poor Fanny and self asleep at the bottom of the sea. 


Godwin to David Booth, 14 October 1799 (Clemit 2.103-04)


. . . Miss Hays is beginning to be an old maid; & her person is not so generally an object of admiration as the powers of her mind. She lives by herself in lodgings; &, I understand, is considerably more easy & cheerful than when she published her Emma Courtenay. She has about forty pounds a year; &, as much as that falls short of her wants, she supplies from literary labour. (103)


Godwin to Richard Phillips, [6 September 1801] (Clemit 2.230-31)


. . . the answer to the other part of your note of yesterday[,] is obvious. My negotiation with you last spring avowedly proceeded on this basis, that, in consequence of the failure of my tragedy, I was reduced to great necessity, & stood in need of some immediate supply of a certain magnitude. In consequence of this you made one of your notes for £200[.] I told you, I thought I had a friend who would instantly advance me cash for it. In this I was mistaken. I sent it to my friend by that very night's post, but it was returned. With great difficulty & may vexatious delays I at length got it cashed. At present you might as well ask me to shoot my friend through the head, as ask me to propose to him any alteration of the security in his hands (lodged). I have not more command over it, than over the notes you may have given to miss Robinson, or miss Hayes, or any other of your customers. (231)