1 August 1779 (2)
Letter 10. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Sunday, 1 August 1779.1
Your letter gave me a painfully pleasing sensation! – the tears which it excited flowed from tenderness and pity! – Alas! that the best affections of the human heart, should so often be productive of the deepest distress! – The giddy, the gay, the inconsiderate, the unfeeling – they are happy – while those whose souls are [f. 37] replete with sensibility – whose sentiments are refined – and who are formed tremblingly susceptible of every softer emotion – they drink deep of the cup of misfortune, and are practiced in the school of adversity; but
“Let us not aggravate our sorrows;
“But to the God’s, permit the event of things?
“Our lives discolor’d with our present woes,
“May still grow bright, and swell with happier hours.
“So the pure limpid stream, when foul with stains
“Of rushing torrents, and descending rains;
“Works itself clear, and as it runs refines,
“Till by degrees the floating mirror shines,
“Reflects each flower that on the border grows,
“And a new heaven in its fair bosom shows.”2
I heard a conversation yesterday between my Mamma, and Sister, which which gave me pleasure – why then should I not make you ^a^ participator of it. – She spoke of the affair in the tenderest terms said, “She was sure you was sincere, was amiable – wished the obstacles could be removed, and thought that time might make a change in circumstance.” – I am glad Mr James came – it has re-established your character. – You wish to see me – what can I say, will it not be renewing emotions? – but I promised you, therefore I [f. 38] will not give you pain by arguing against it. – I am ashamed to see you after the weakness I discovered on thursday evening – ah! how shall I dare to meet your eyes? – my heart flutters at the idea! – on thursday then it must be. – The family are going out to spend the day – any time in the afternoon that suits you – the place I leave to your choice likewise – you see the intire confidence I put in you Mr Eccles – let me not repent it. – I trust in your honor – endeavor to meet me with composure, for my spirits will not bear too great an agitation! – indeed I fear to see you – I shall be overwhelmed with confusion – I am breathless at the thought. –
How have you passed this day? – but I will not ask what it would (perhaps) give me pain to hear. – I believe you suffer – I know you do at present – but absence may work a cure, may in time erase me from your heart, and restore you once more to the world and its amusements. – Pardon me if I form a judgement from the conduct of your sex in general – perhaps I wish to find you an exception – at this time you think you are one, and are angry with me for entertaining a thought to the contrary; but you know not what may happen – there are such diversity of occupations, hurry and employments in the life of a man, that will not give them leisure to attend to the tenderness, the attentions of Love. – Women are by nature more constant than men – education [f. 40]3 and the stillness and privacy of their lives improves this happy disposition: besides their attachments being of a purer, sublimer nature, in exalted species of friendship independent of passion, render them more lasting. – Confess! am I right in my opinion. – In the course of our correspondence I shall have a thousand cases to put to you – I love to hear your definitions – I promise myself improvement as well as pleasure from them; by this innocent intercourse, we shall be able to form a right judgement of each others sentiments and characters, and it will afford us a heart-felt tranquil satisfaction, which the malice of the world cannot deprive us of. – I have the highest opinion of your honor and understanding – my thoughts, my heart shall be laid open to you; you shall direct its motions, and censure or applaud as you see occasion, with all the sincerity and freedom of friendship – the lover must be forgot in the monitor; I will look up to you as my guardian and adviser – as a tender friend, and regard you with a sisterly affection. – Do not then give way to repinings – happiness may yet be in store – pleasure is ever succeeded by pain, (we have found it so) in like manner, good may arise out of evil. – Every thing I can do (consistent with the duty I owe a parent) to restore you to peace, be assured I will. – Adieu! – look on me as your sister,
as your faithful friend!
It was better that you did not see me to day –
Sunday August 1st 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 47-49; Wedd, Love Letters 28-30.
2 Lines from Addison's Cato, Act 1, scene iv.
3 Pagination in the MS book skips fol. 39.