13 October 1779

Letter 69. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Wednesday, 13 October 1779.1


         How pleasing were the sensations I experienced after seeing you last night, and on reading your epistle; my spirits before were depressed beyond expression; – I feared to give you my letter; I feared to meet you; my mind was confused and uneasy; filled with doubts and agitations. But how soon were they agreeably dispersed by the endearing tenderness of your behaviour; my heart felt all the powers of it; never will I again offend; I will study to oblige, for can your Maria taste greater felicity than in giving satisfaction to him, (who I fear is too dear to her.) The reasons you give for wishing Miss D. and my sister2 to go to Lark-Hall with us, are truly grateful; indeed I long to pay the old lady another visit, and will take the first opportunity of doing so: but I [f. 274] cannot promise when, yet be assured it shall be as soon as possible. – I was charmed with the seriousness of your reflections on the beauties of nature – indeed your letters always give me pleasure, as they convince me that I have not formed a too partial judgement of your understanding, and make me set a higher value on your correspondence,3 because it must be productive of improvement, as well as present satisfaction. – Strange power you possess over your Maria; insensibly does she become a convert to your every opinion. and adopts all your sentiments; you shall direct her conduct, and to you will she look for approbation on every action, being conscious that your affection will always make you solicitous for her happiness. – You say, “you philosophize to drive away despair.” Don’t make use of such terms; you have no cause for despair; – the heart of your Maria is firmly yours; she has stood many trials, but nothing has been able to shake her constancy – fortune in the end will be tired of persecuting us; when things are at the worst, they often take a turn more favorable; but even supposing they never should, still they cannot deprive us of the satisfaction of this pleasing intercourse of tenderness; this reciprocal esteem, which is productive of every heart felt delight. – Reflect how many situations in life are ten thousand times more distressing than our own; comparison weighs much in our estimation of good and evil; and though a generous heart, even laboring under the severest calamities may be incapable of forming a wish for relief at the expence of anothers happiness; yet there is a sort [f. 275] of alleviation to be found in reflecting, that there are, and have been others much more wretched than ourselves – as to myself, I can never be unhappy while you continue to love me; the whole world, all the honors, riches and pleasures of it, could make me no amends for the loss of your heart. – Perhaps I act contrary to the usual method of my sex by avowing this; but I am unused to disguises; affectation is my aversion, and surely it would be a species of it to attempt to deny what my conduct has too plainly discovered; the man who could slight a woman because he thought she was not insensible of his tenderness, would be utterly unworthy the least of her attention: – Is not that frankness, which you once termed, “the pure ingenuous elegance of soul,”4 infinitely more charming, more endearing to the man of sense and sentiment, than either the cold frigidity of a stoical disposition, or the affected prudery of a dissembling one? – Why should I blush at owning a tenderness that is founded in sensibility and purity, and established by every principle of virtue and delicacy, from a conviction of merit? – Will it be unpleasing, if I wish to know your intentions when you quit Mr James’s? – My curiosity proceeds from my concern for your welfare; be assured you may place an intire confidence in your own little girl; nothing shall ever transpire from her lips, which you wish to conceal – for is not your interest also hers? – I know you do not think her unworthy your confidence; whatever your situation may be, her love (yes, I will [f. 276] say love) must ever continue the same; at the same time, if you have the shadow of a wish to conceal any thing, tell me so, and not a question will I ever ask you – To contribute to your ease and satisfaction, must always be the first wish of the heart of your

            Your faithful affectionate

                                    Maria Hays.


Wednesday Octr: 13th: 1779.

1 Brooks, Correspondence 154-55; Wedd, Love Letters 130-31. 

2 Mary Dunkin, John Dunkin's younger sister, and Elizabeth Hays, Mary Hays's Youngers sister. 

3 corrispondance] MS

4 Line from Thomson's The Seasons, "Summer," l. 1294.