27 October 1779
Letter 81. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Wednesday evening, 27 October 1779.1
I am very sorry for the uneasiness I gave you by not appearing at the window on monday, be assured it was unintentional; for no consideration should ever induce me to disturb your peace for a moment, if I could possibly avoid it: yet I will own your solicitude pleased me, as it was a fresh proof of the sincerity of your attachment to me. – How very affectionate was your letter this morning! – my heart felt a thrill of delight ^while^ reading it. – And so you think there was a time when your success or disappointment, was a matter of indifference to your Maria! – Shall I tell you! – you are mistaken? – your little girl looked on you with an eye of partiality, long before she knew of your attachment to her; I felt emotions in your favor for some time, without knowing the meaning of them, or from what cause they arose; some little jealousies which I felt (on supposing you liked Miss Dunkin) first gave the alarm; I was terrified, reasoned with myself, and determined to check the growing inclination, by setting before me the improbability of ever meeting with a return, from a consciousness that I possessed but few personal charms, and you being intirely unacquainted with me, must judge by appearances – but still the sensations I felt were so new, and stole on my heart with such an irresistible softness, that I was entangled e’er I was aware: I [f. 313] sometimes fancied you looked on me with tenderness; but those fancies quickly vanished, as in general you rather avoided than sought my eyes. – Whatever you may think of Mr Chissel, I assure you, that the character he gave of you greatly strengthened my esteem; he painted you sentimental, tender, generous; I ever entertained romantic ideas of love and sentiment, and imagined that yours might be similar2; there was a certain pensiveness in your looks which pleased me, and I thought I should like just such a man for a lover; but my attachment was yet in its infancy, a sort of preference, or conditional liking – soon after you spoke to me, and gave some hints of a regard – but as Miss Dunkin, had an equal share of your attention, I attributed your behavior to gallantry; at last it was too particular to doubt any longer of your intentions; I felt on the discovery a mixed emotion, that was at once both pleasing and painful; for I early saw the difficulties we should have to encounter; but yet a secret power compelled me to encourage your assiduities; how many struggles did my mind suffer, from doubts and fears; the world told me your views were interested; I rejected the insinuation with scorn, which was attributed to vanity; many endeavors were made to depreciate3 you, but prejudiced in your favor by an internal pleader, I gave no ear to them; – opposition I believe increased my affection, and I determined to persevere; – on a nearer acquaintance I found you all that my most romantic wishes formed; – all other men sunk in my opinion, and I determined to be yours, or “live a life of single blessedness.”4 – Since [f. 314] then,5 nothing has been able to shake my constancy – nothing ever will – my heart is ever yours irrevocably – my hand is reserved for you – through life your happiness shall be my first, my dearest care; and while my Eccles continues to love me, I shall account myself the happiest of women; the whole world could never make me amends for your loss; – every faculty of my soul is yours, and I am assured, that you can never act unworthy of the confidence I repose in you; – your Maria takes a pride in having no reserves to the man of her choice, because she believes him to be the most amiable, the best of his sex. – I glory in my attachment, for it is truth and virtue that I am enamoured with – Your person, pleasing as it is, would never of itself engaged my approbation; (although it might my admiration,) ’tis your sensibility, your sentiments, your understanding that claims my tenderest esteem; – be ever what you are, and no time shall find your little girl wanting in her fidelity. – Good-night! may that peace you wished me be doubled in your bosom, prays your own
Wednesday even: Octr. 27th: 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 171-73; Wedd, Love Letters 148-50.
2 similer] MS
3 depriciate] MS
4 Lines from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act I, scene 1.
5 when] MS