14 September 1779

Letter 44. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Tuesday, 14 September 1779.1 

Mon cher amour,

     I did not think Mrs Collier’s absence would have affected me so much as it is likely to do – Who would have thought my heart was so inclined, as to be dejected on that account, and warmly solicitous for her return. – I hope she will not stay so long as she intended; I shall count the days and hours till I see her again. – Her presence is essential to my happiness; – for it gives me my Maria’s company oftener than I must now expect it. – How hard it is to part with blessings which we have been used to enjoy. – I feel all the pains of another separation from you. – It is so unexpected a misfortune too; I recollect [f. 168] the time when I entertained all the fears from her presence, which now her absence converts to realities. – I used to rejoice at her being from home, but now I regret it. – How strangely has a little time, and circumstances, changed my ideas! – What a few weeks ago, used to fill me with all the anxiety of pleasing expectation, now gives me the dread of fearful apprehension. – What a perpetual vicissitude does the mind of one who loves sustain! – Fixed as to the object of his love, the man is there immutable and ever shady, but in every thing else he is wavering, and uncertain – What powers of attraction are there in love! – As the load-stone ever points to the pole, so the lover (however situated) looks to his Mistress; her approbation gives life to every action; she is the axis on which his affections, his pleasures, his very ideas turn – The influence of a woman one adores, over us, is unspeakable; her request, her commands, come with such a persuasive softness to the soul, that, who could disobey? – Happy is he, who has found one, who walks in the paths of virtue; she can never teach him to deviate from those paths, in which she herself delights to walk. – She will guide and confirm his steps; she can with ever powerful eloquence shew him what is error, and conduct him from it to the arms of truth. – When a woman of delicate sense, and virtue, has the ascendant in the heart of a man, how does she raise, and enoble him!

“Oh! woman, lovely woman! nature form’d you

To temper man, we had been brutes without you.2 [f. 169]

There, have I not made amends for the “illiberal censures” as you was pleased to call them, on the ladies, in one of my “long letters? – I cannot however help joining with you in Mrs Collier’s praise; she is certainly a most amiable woman; one of the most generous sentiments; one whose heart is ever open to the distresses of her friends, and ready to relieve them; I have a great partiality for her, but I cannot allow her any part of your heart; in that I must beg to be a monopolizer. –

    I was yesterday afternoon considering how much I had improved under Mr B----’s lectures,3 and after weighing the arguments on each side of the question, I find (if there is any difference) I am rather “worse for mending.” – He is a greater satire on his profession, than it was possible for a Foote4 ever to conceive. – Really, of all the bunglers I ever heard, he is the worst. – Without learning, without a knowledge of the scriptures, without common sense, without any single requisite (except a modest assurance) he sets himself up as a preacher of the gospel. – He is continually advancing tenets which he is by no means qualified to defend. – Prejudiced and rigid5 to the last degree, he is for ever censuring and condemning those who think differently from himself. – The Roman Catholics, on whom he is always urging attacks are more charitable than he. – So confident too, his opinions are not to be controverted. – He is everlastingly laying down maxims which an Infant might overturn. – I shall never forget one, which fell from [f. 170] his mouth the Sunday before last; it was this: – “You know it has frequently happened, that a General, or an Admiral, has lost his head, for erring in his opinion; so (I believe) will many men be damned, for errors in their judgement, on points of religion.” – But I have done with him; did nothing but Mr B----’s preaching draw me to meeting, I should very seldom trouble him. –


Tuesday morning –

“The dawn is overcast, the morning lowers,

And heavily in clouds brings on the day;6

And yet I have hardly a doubt, but it will be fine; surely the God of love who can tame monsters, will exert his powers, and govern the winds for a day; a shaft at each of the Gods of the four corners of the earth will make them forget to blow. – I think I desire almost any favors from Mr Cupid; I have long been one of his most faithful subjects; I have implicitly obeyed him; can he then deny me this small request, when I humbly beseech it of him? –You complimented Mrs ------ on Sunday last, and said how handsome she looked; I can never allow any one to possess charms, who will not admit them in others: this is a piece of generosity which Mrs --- is not mistress of – As she is very awkward at returning compliments [f. 171] suppose I do it for her; well then, I think you looked amazingly handsome on Sunday, as superior to her, as is the light of the moon to that of a single star. – Her beauties like those of an ordinary picture are gloomy and inanimate, whilst yours have all the enlivening graces, which inform us of the mind within. – Whilst one appears with a sullen consequence as demanding our admiration, the other with a lovely diffidence wins our tenderest regard. – Indeed, my dear Maria, you have more charms than you are sensible of, and every day discovers new ones; the more I know of you, the more I am in love with you, and the more convinced how well you deserve it. – I fancy Cupid is answering my prayer, for it clears up; it certainly will be a fine day – Adieu, my dearest Maria –

             I am faithfully yours

                                 J. Eccles.

Sept 14th 1779.  

1 Brooks, Correspondence 106-08; Wedd, Love Letters 83-84.

2 Lines from Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved, Act I, scene 1 (p. 239).

3 Michael Brown, minister at the Gainsford Street Baptist Chapel, Blackfields, c. 1777-1819. 

4 Samuel Foote (1720-77), known for his satiric portrayal of the popular Calvinistic Methodist evangelist George Whitefield.

5 riged] MS

6 Lines from Addison's Cato, Act  1, scene 1.