12 November 1779
Letter 94. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Friday evening, 12 November 1779.1
From this time I place no dependance on any thing in this world, “where disappointment smiles at hope’s career”2; ’tis productive of infinite anxiety and disquietude. – This day has been a series of suspense from morning until evening, I have passed it in painful uncertainty. How transitory are human hopes! – This morning, what pleasures did I promise myself! – But what has the day brought forth? – A gloomy restlessness of mind, equally irksome as my expectations had been flattering. – Anticipation is delusive; how often has it doubled my distress; – I have in idea enjoyed that happiness which perhaps never will arrive; and when my imagination has been raised to the most lofty height, it has been dashed down and I have been left almost hopeless; – yet how seldom is it that our fears prove groundless – What an unhappy existence is what we call life, and how vastly disproportionate its comforts and cares! There are no joys here; they are all fancy; they terminate in certain pains. – Happiness in this world is a deception, and to wish for it is vanity. In a few hours I shall have gone through twenty four years, and what can I say of them? They have been a confused scene of false joy and too substantial misery, and each succeeding one has left me more unhappy than the former; – what a poor foundation is this for hope of what is to come; and yet I am sometimes foolish enough to look forward with [f. 355] expectation. – The only consolation I at present have, is, that in all probability, before such another term of years is past, “I shall have done with all these transitory things.” – Misfortune will then have lost its power; – I shall be no longer subject to its insults; – till then I only wish for patience. –
Friday evening. – I told you this morning what I had written, so you will not be surprised; really though, I think I never more sensibly felt a disappointment than that of yesterday; – but you know your company is every thing to me; how hard must it be then to be deprived of it, when its idea has been so warmly impressed on my mind. – All the morning, had the pleasures of the afternoon been before me, I thought of nothing but you; – how tenderly did I wish for you and expect you at the appointed time! – Judge then of the situation of my heart when you did not come. – After I came home too, I thought I should see you in the evening, but there also my hopes were baffled. – From an indisposition which I felt, and these other circumstances, I passed the night not altogether agreeably; when the mind is disturbed how little is rest to be expected! – I was vexed, but you perfectly satisfied me this morning; you removed every unkind consideration far away. – How happy am I when you have relieved me from any trifling doubts I have labor’d under! – did I say trifling? – No; nothing which concerns my interesting my Maria’s bosom is trifling; – ’tis of infinite consequence; – with too lively an affection do I love her to think her disregard a trifle. [f. 356] But I am happy in every part of your conduct: – that animating tenderness with which you always treat me has charms beyond the power of expression; – can I then ever prove ungrateful? – ’Tis impossible; – you give life to all the faculties of my soul; its every emotion is refined and enlivened by you. – Never can my heart stray from my dear little girl; ever will it continue faithful to her, whilst it continues to beat. – Happy in the regard you have bestowed upon me, ever shall my utmost endeavors be exerted to render you so too. – How dear you are to your sincerely affectionate
J. Eccles! –
Friday even: Novr 12th 1779. –
1 Brooks, Correspondence 191-92; Wedd, Love Letters 167-68.
2 Lines from Young's The Complaint, "Night the Ninth," "The Consolation" (p. 184).