13 February 1779

Letter 3.  Mary Hays to John Eccles, Saturday, 13 February 1779.1


       Perhaps I act inconsistant with strict delicacy by writing – but for once will sacrifice punctilio to the wish of consoling you. – I blush not to confess your letter affected me; be assured Mr Eccles, of my sincere pity. – You complain of a father, you think him unfeeling – those dispositions are best suited to pass through this world; – strong sensibility is not be wished for – though it is sometimes attended by pleasures exquisite and refin’d – of which the stoical part of mankind can have no idea – Yet alas! is it not too often productive of heart felt distress. – But that a parent can be indifferent when the happiness of his child is concerned, appears amusing to me, who am blest with the best, the most indulgent of mothers! – in her the prudence of a monitor, is ever sweetly attempered with the tender affection of a friend. – How could you entertain so strange a suspicion, or think me capable of treating you with contempt! – believe me Sir, it was not possible my esteem could be lessened by your sufferings. – But cherish not a fruitless despair! – You are young, and may yet be happy! – to hear of that happiness – whatever may be [f. 13] your situation of life, will be always pleasing to your

                         Sincere Friend

                                                                      Mary Hays.

Saturday Feby 13th 1779.

. . . . . . When I forget her, Forget! but ’tis impossible, then may I forget the use and privilege of reason.2                                               

                                                                        John Eccles.

1 Brooks, Correspondence 36; Wedd, Love Letters 17.

2 Lines are from  Act 1, scene 1 of Nicholas Rowe's The Fair Penitent. A Tragedy (London: J. and R. Tonson, 1763), p. 12.