24-25 October 1779

Letter 79. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Sunday and Monday morning, 24-25 October 1779.1

[f. 305]

     You say, “Whilst here, all my ambition, all my thirst of happiness centers in my Maria; she is all I ask of heaven.” – Delightful assurance; my heart felt all its weight of tenderness,, and sympathetically experienced the same sentiment. – Why will you say every thing looks dark and gloomy? – can there be any happiness equal to that which flows from a harmony of souls; an exact similarity of sentiment between two persons who are sensible to each others worth, and are united by the sincerest, the tenderest of friendships? – Ah my dearest Eccles! can the world with all its pomp and grandeur bestow pleasures equal to this? – is there not something celestial in it?

                     “Each being to each a dearer self,

                     Supremely happy in th’ awaken’d power

                     Of giving joy.”2 ­ –

Indeed you shall not encourage melancholy reflections – your little girl will not allow it; she loves to see you look chearful, and is never so happy as when her endeavors to give you satisfaction have succeeded – Fortune is a fickle goddess, and often changes when she is least expected to do so; affluence we do not wish for, only a “sufficiency, content, [f. 306] retirement, rural quiet.”3 Should you like to live a few miles from town? to a well formed mind, there are ten thousand pleasures in the country; what sweet rambles could we take of a fine morning in the spring, or evening in summer; with what a delighted attention, should I listen to the observations of my Eccles, while

                     “Creative love, still bade eternal Eden

                     Smile around.”4

Your sentiments should be mine; – in every thing would I endeavor to be that character which would be most pleasing to you; and then, would you not always regard me with the same emotions of tenderness, you do at present? – I am a little unreasonable girl, and could not bear the shadow of indifference; indeed I won’t swear that I have not a quantity of jealousy in my composition; though don’t be too much alarmed about it; for if I had any suspicions, I would only try to reclaim you by appearing (if possible) more amiable than her, for whom you slighted me; I am convinced, that what love and generosity cannot effect, reproaches never will: how many unhappy marriages have been caused by pride, and resentment, where perhaps the least condescension and gentleness, would have been productive of the most contrary effects; though ’tis sometimes the fault of the husband as well as the wife; some men are of that brutal disposition, that the more [f. 307] submissive a woman appears, the more they tyrannize over them, thinking it manly perhaps, to imitate the Eastern Bashaw’s; but such characters must be wicked, or ignorant; why then should I mention them to my Eccles? In my papa, was every thing exemplified – “the best of husband’s, father’s friends” – and ah! the most beloved! – Pardon the over flowings of filial affection. – Adieu!

        Monday morn: 10 o’clock. – I have had rather a restless night, yet think I am somewhat better to day – I have been looking sometime at the window for you, but suppose as I have not seen you, that you are gone out. – Betsy is very ill this morning, I ^we^ take it by turns I think. – The conclusion of your last letter, and your behavior yesterday, was flattering beyond all expression, and in a moment dispersed all those foolish fears, which I always perplex myself with, when I have not seen you for a few days; ’tis a weakness I own, for I never had the least reason for them; but one is often ingenious at tormenting oneself. – Don’t you find the same propensity sometimes? – I expect a letter from Mrs Collier to day; I am very proud of my correspondants; with such advantages, ought I not to improve? – I think you said, “when you was tired of writing to your little girl, you would tell her so.” – May that time never arise. – Adieu! – my whole heart is yours – ever will you be loved more affectionately by your

                                 Maria Hays.

Monday morn: Octr: 25th: 1779.         


1 Brooks, Correspondence 168-70; Wedd, Love Letters 145-46. 

2 Lines from Thomson's The Seasons, "Summer," ll. 1183-85.

3 Ibid., "Spring," ll. 1158-59.

4 Ibid., "Summer," ll. 1193-94.