24 September 1779
Letter 52. John Eccles to Miss Hays, Friday morning, 24 September 1779.1
Should I ask those, whose pleasures are of the dissipated kind, how they were entertained at such and such a place? I well know what would be the substance of their answer; supposing it in ^the^ most favourable light, there is always a something that defeats the intent of those impositions on the senses; and “No false joy without real pain,” is a motto very proper for those who seek for happiness, in living, as it were on publick pleasure. – Though they find themselves perpetually disappointed, and disquietude is the consequence of all their solicited amusements, yet so lost is unthinking man, that he this evening flies with impatience to what gave him nothing but painful reflections on the last. – They are seduced by the name of pleasure, there is a fascinating charm in the word; and though repeated experience has taught them, how foolishly vain are their expectations, yet contrary to all remonstrance the tyranness2 inclination will be obeyed. – Where is the noble faculty of reason fled? – But my Maria, the pleasures I enjoy with you, sweeten from reflection; they are not only temporary pleasures, but they constantly please, and every time I think of them they are repeated. I never spent two more agreeable afternoons than those on which we [f. 202] visited Lark-hall; they were productive of real delight without alloy; they left a serene composure, a heart felt peace behind: such a state of mind as may be called happy. – I look back on them with the greater satisfaction too, as they raised in me such emotions as are beyond words to describe, such as angels feel for each other; sure you will not be displeased to hear that every time I see you, I find fresh reason for loving you, and that my affections are continually increasing; every day adds to the charms which I first loved, and shall not my love rise in proportion?
Well, now I’ll talk with you a little; conversation with you is never uninteresting; besides if I am to answer for you, I am certain I shall not be contradicted; that’s delightful; yet I had rather you was here to answer me in propria persona; (you cannot call this pedantry, because you set me the example of writing in latin, consequently I have a right to suppose you understand it.) You prate about awful distances, reserve, restraint &c. Thank my stars, ’tis only talk, and not reality: I am not fond of too great distance; your window is one of the most uninspiring places I know; love I think is something like electric fire; it sparkles with a touch. – I wonder what sort of a figure you would make, were you to put on a very grave face, and tell me with all the reserve of language imaginable, the liberties I take are insufferable, that you would no longer [f. 203] submit to them and that I must learn to know you and myself better; and I still wonder more how you would bear it were I to obey you and observe this same awful distance; we should both (I believe) make an awkward, and entertaining pair of spectacles. – But I know ’tis not in your nature to be so hard-hearted, is it now? – No. – You have not so much cruelty in your composition I know, unless your face is only a mask; and that I never will believe; a countenance expressive of so much delicacy and softness cannot be a deceitful one. – No, I defy you to give one severe look; – I know you cannot; ’tis not in your power if you would, and if you could you would not. – You know I am very good and have always been; you cannot say, I ever merited a single frown from you: stop, let me consider a little: – no never. – I admit you have had reason to look a little serious at me now and then, but never above five minutes at a time. I think I seem to have a tolerable opinion of myself; yet I know you will countenance me; you are conscious (are you not?) that I deserve the warmest encomiums of praise; am I not a most amiable young man? – Really you are an example to your sex; that’s your answer, and I never can suffer you to contradict your own words: besides unless you admit the propriety and veracity of this whole page I shall be very cautious how I lavish any commendations on you for the future. – (very pretty.) – I foresee I shall be reprehended for this letter; it will not be full; I [f. 204] expect to see your head pop out of the window every minute, though I hope you are in bed yet. – I hope the thunder and rain did not wake you this morning; I was alarmed (not for your safety; I knew there was no danger) for fear you should be disturbed, and not able to compose yourself afterwards; there were a few loud claps, and the lightning was very bright but not dangerous. – Good morning – I see you are at the window; you know if I write one short letter, the next always supplies what is wanting.
Yours for ever
J. Eccles. –
Friday morning Septr: 24th: 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 122-23; Wedd, Love Letters 99-100.
2 tyraness] MS