11 November 1779

Letter 93. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Thursday morning, 11 November 1779.1

[f. 351]

         What is the reason, that always after you have left me, I feel a restless inquietude? – I either recollect having said, or omitted to say something which gives me uneasiness; – last night in particular, I was unhappy; – I was angry with myself for being so captious, and apprehensive of your displeasure – indeed your Maria can not bear your anger even for a moment – but you should never treat her with the appearance of indifference, as she is too apt to be alarmed, though there may be no real cause for it; – If I did not regard my Eccles with the tenderest esteem, should I be so soon affected? – let then that affection plead my excuse. – What shall I say to your later letter? – receive my most grateful acknowledgements for it – while you continue thus soothing, thus tender, your little girl must be supremely happy. – She loves you with the sincerest attachment – your idea will dwell forever in her heart – no time can have power to erase it; – is it possible to love twice? – oh no! – it never can to “souls of more delicate kind”2 – Half the world are not capable of love! – they know it but by name: that preference which is unthinkingly bestowed upon every object which captivates the senses, has no connection with the heart; – how widely different from the sensations which arise in a soul replete with sensibility, and actuated by a real sincere passion, founded in a [f. 352] similarity of sentiment, and a secret sympathy, which irresistibly engages all the affections; – the emotions it causes are most interesting – at once delicate and animated. – Such an attachment I feel for my Eccles – and such a one he alone is capable of inspiring in the bosom of his Maria. 

“Indifference then to recommend,

Dull reason oh forebear;

Till you a bliss have power to send,

That can with love compare.”3

Ten o’clock. – How provoking is this rain! – vain are the schemes of mortals! – In fancy how have I been anticipating the pleasures of our excursion on this day; but alas! those pleasing dreams of happiness are now vanishing away – my imagination paints you at this moment looking out at the weather, with an anxiety as lively as my own. – When will these wintry clouds, this desolating season be over? – how ardently do I wish the return of spring! – “For May is the month of L452.”4 – Did you like those papers I gave you last night? – I must own I read them with satisfaction, because I felt the justness of the observations in them. – The rain seems to abate, but still the sky looks heavy and lowering; – disappointment I fear has marked this day; – is not fate peculiarly unkind to us? – have we merited such repeated mortifications? – surely there will be [f. 353] a change some time or other; – a whole life of pain can never be allotted5 to any! – We may at least hope a vicissitude! – I have so long promised myself pleasure from this day, that I shall not be philosopher enough to bear the disappointment with composure! – Alas! – ’tis all over! – my Mamma is going to send to my sister  Hills’s,6 to put off their going to Hackney till the first fine day; – our walk must then of necessity be deferred; – I shall be unhappy lest you should wait for me; for ’tis impossible for me to let you know. – How very perversely does every thing happen; – I am ready to die with vexation – but you cannot my dearest Eccles be displeased with me. Was it in my power, with what pleasure would your little girl fly to meet you. – Words cannot express how much – how tenderly you are beloved by your

                                                     Maria Hays.


Thursday morn: Novr 11th 1779.

1 Brooks, Correspondence 189-91; Wedd, Love Letters 166-67.

2 Line from Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling, p. 236 (see Letter 5).

3 Lines taken from "The Nightingale and the Watch," a poem by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu that appeared in the Lady's Magazine 5 (January 1774), 49.

4 Line actually reads: “For May is the Month of Love.”

5 alloted] MS

6 Sarah Hays Hills (1756-1836), older sister of Mary and Elizabeth Hays.