20 November 1779
Letter 101. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Saturday, 20 November 1779.1
As it is my intention to scold you by word of mouth, I shall be peaceable with you in this letter; – I believe crooked words [f. 373] make not so violent an impression on you as crooked letters, at least I hope they do not; for that reason I prefer the former method of shewing my resentment to the latter, for sincerely I could not bear the thought of giving you more than momentary pain, though I fancy I need not dread that much. – Your sex ^are^ so artful and insinuating, as to make us recant whatever displeases you, be it ever so just; – if we have the greatest reason to complain of your treatment, you can convince us we entertain false notions of things, and that you are “ever in the right;” – you will have a thousand reasons ready, each of which singly ought to be of sufficient weight to convince me; – but now I recollect, ladies have no need of reasons, – only to say a thing is the same with them as to prove it; – is it not so? Well, you must have your way now, but if ever I come to hold the reins of government, what sweet revenge will I take! I’ll dictate with authority, and teach you the art of perfect and implicit obedience. – Yet after all, I am ever inclined to find excuses for you when you disappoint me, and am never at a loss; is not that amazing kind? – But you must have a heart of adamant, could you suffer trifles to keep me in painful suspence, for you certainly have long been assured beyond a doubt, that I am a most amiable and deserving young man; – at least I think so myself; – I dare say you always reflect on me with the warmest approbation; – you well know I merit it, and I am perfectly conscious of it myself too. – But really, setting aside all degrees of conceit, I was almost frozen to death last [f. 374] night waiting for you, and so it ends. –
Oh! my Maria, too well you know your power, to think I can for a minute be angry with you; – when you have been unhappy on my account, I have been most miserable; you know not the anguish of my mind when I see you in the least distressed. – After the goodness I have experienced from you, ’tis impossible I can ever be ungrateful; – no, you possess my whole soul; – I am all yours; – all my hopes and fears are for you; – for you I wish prosperity; – for you I hate adversity. – Yet under every situation, my love would invariably be the same; – words cannot define the passion that glows within my breast; – ’tis pure as light; – ’tis strong as life; – ’tis beyond all description; – sure you can never reject a heart that adores you; – no, I know your generosity is too great, yet I would not be beholden to that; – what your love refuses to grant, I could not accept from your generosity; – but my dear Maria, I entertain not a single doubt of your partiality, your heart is mine, and your love is my pride; – what joys are equal to those which flow from a pure sentimental attachment! – I feel the inspiring theme; – mutual love! how soothing is the influence on the soul! – how sincere thy transports! – how do the pleasures of sense vanish before thee! – They are mere toys, and thou are real bliss! – What is there here worth [f. 375] a thought, without thou deignest to add thy smiles? – “What’s life without passion, sweet passion of love”? – I knew not what it was to love, before I knew you; – never did I feel that delicate tenderness, that refinement of soul, that sanctity of affection, which you have raised in my bosom, for any one but you; nor shall any other ever have possession of my heart; – ’tis yours with all its powers; – never can it stray from you; – as it is your prisoner then, be gentle to it; treat it with kindness, and ’tis your willing captive for ever; nothing but frowns and indifference from my Maria, can ever tempt it to become a deserter. – Oh! may I never experience them; still bless me with your smiles, and eternally will you find the kindest, the most affectionate of friends in your
Saturday Novr 20th 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 200-201; Wedd, Love Letters 174-75.