29 July 1779
Letter 5. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Thursday, 29 July 1779.1
We have company to spend the day with us, which renders it impossible I should see you this evening; I am likewise prevented from going to Mrs. K-----’s2 as I had intended; but in consideration of these disappointments, I will if possible meet you tomorrow evening at a little after eight o’clock – it is rather too late an hour, but I cannot come sooner – besides a walk by moon-light has ten thousand charms – it inspires a pleasing melancholy, a delightful sensation – I mean to
Those souls of more delicate kind,
Who feast not on pleasure alone;
Who wear the soft sense of the mind,
To the song of the world still unknown.3
You smile! I own I am a little romantic Girl! – My Mamma often tells me, “I am in a fairy dream.” – May the keen hand of adversity never awake me from the pleasing delusion. –
I have been thinking rather seriously on Prudence since I last saw you – I fear I have too often [f. 17] swerved from the rules which it dictates. – I should like to know your real sentiments upon the subject. – Why should we sacrifice sincerity to politeness. – Your admonitions might confuse, but they would amend me – reproofs ^are^ as much the duty of friendship as commendations; and as a friend I would ever wish to consider you. – But how I run on, I shall certainly tire you with my scribbillation – that last word is not English I believe but the Ladies have a right to coin you know, ’tis a privilege they have had ever since the creation. –
But one thing I had almost forgot, you must not keep me more than half an hour to morrow evening, and must promise to behave with the strictest decorum, as I intend to follow Miss J----’s4 example. – I am call’d to tea – Adieu! believe me ever y---- what was I a going to say – pardon me, it was only a little mistake – I am not used to write to Gentlemen. – Well then, you must be contented with the initials of my name, as I cannot at present think of any other conclusion. –
Thursday July 29th 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 37-38; Wedd, Love Letters 18-19.
2 Mrs Knight is an attendant at the Baptist chapel along with the Hays and probably a neighbor as well. She also appears in letter 78.
3 Lines taken from a poem in Henry Mackenzie's popular sentimental novel, The Man of Feeling (1771).
4 Miss James, Hays's friend who also attended at the Gainsford Street chapel. Eccles will work for Mr James in his counting house. Brooks suggests that Mr James's home and business are in Lambeth, but most likely by 1791 he or his son is the John James who was listed as a Cornfactor in Gainsford Street (UBD, 1791, vol. 1, part 2), the same occupation as John Dunkin and Mary Hays's two younger brothers. There was also a Thomas James, Grocer, St Thomas’s, Southwark, and a William James, timber merchant, Narrow-wall, Lambeth (UBD, 1791), both not far from Gainsford Street.