23 October 1779 (1)

Letter 77. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Saturday morning, 23 October 1779.1

     Why did you call the paper you sent me this morning a trifle?2 – believe me, it is of inestimable value; for is it not an additional proof of that affection, which when set in competition3 with all the riches of the east, would infinitely overbalance it – Oh! gracious heaven grant I may never have to live to see an event so distressing take place! – An eternal separation your Maria, could never support! – Yet perhaps that time is not far off, for indeed I am very ill; I have scarcely been off the bed all day, and ’tis with difficulty I now hold my pen; I was very feverish all night; and still feel such an insurmountable languor that I cannot hold up my head; but I was determined to write if possible, lest you should be displeased. – All the family were out yesterday, to drink tea and spend the evening except myself and [f. 304] Betsy, Miss Dunkin came over to sit with me, and I thought you perhaps might be of our party; when unexpectedly Mr and Mrs Knight4 came and drank tea, with us, and at once destroyed our pleasing social scheme; so many as they were, and rather noisy in their mirth overcame my spirits, and I believe is the cause of my being so much worse today. – How the world will intrude itself! – Is there any felicity but what flows from love, and friendship? Surely none! – I had promised myself pleasure in the society of two friends who are most dear to me – and my expectations were instantaneously disappointed, because I dare not act contrary to the dictates of civility – hateful customs – here the savages have the advantages of us – “Where free to follow nature is the mode.”5 – I don’t think I shall be able to go out tomorrow, which I am the more mortified at as Mr Bell6 is to preach in the evening, but I am glad of it notwithstanding, because I recollect you was pleased with him, when you heard him preach. – ’Tis a long time since I saw you last – has not the reflection of your little girls illness given you some pain? – has it not caused you one sigh? – oh, yes! I am sure it has. – Pardon my breaking off so abruptly – I must bid you adieu! as I find myself incapable of proceeding; but in sickness or health, be assured my dearest Eccles, you are ever remembered with the tenderest emotions by your own,

                                 Maria Hays.


Saturday morn: Octr. 23d. 1779.  

1 Brooks, Correspondence 167-68; Wedd, Love Letters 143-44. 

2 This note appears to be missing.

3 compitition] MS

4 Elizabeth Hays, Miss Dunkin, and the Knights were all relations or neighbors of Mary Hays; most likely the Knights attended the Gainsford Street Baptist Chapel along with the Hays and Dunkin families.  

5 Line from Thomson's The Seasons, "Autumn," l. 223.       

6 Most likely a lay preacher, possibly from within Rev. Brown's congregation or a nearby one.