31 October 1779

Letter 84. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Sunday afternoon, 31 October 1779.1

My dear Maria,

      Being now recovered from the shock I received last night, I am again able to hold my pen, and sit down to scribble a few lines to you. – I think you will believe me when I tell you I was seriously alarmed; a thousand fears rushed on my mind at once; I feared every thing. – Sleep fled from my eyes, or if it returned for a few minutes, it [f. 322] was only to distract me more with frightful dreams. – I dreaded to see you this morning; I was afraid to examine your countenance; but oh! how gladly was I disappointed when I found my apprehensions were not realized! How happy was I to find they were only shadows! – The idea of entirely losing my little girl pursued and affected me severely; my heart at first sunk within me, but soon my spirits returned, and I was resolved no power on earth should take her from me. – Too dear is she to my soul, too essential to my peace to be resigned without a struggle; never, never will I part from her. –

     Sunday afternoon. – Your not coming to listen to the word of Mr B---- this morning was only laziness; how you love to indulge yourself; but you can plead illness; ladies have always excuses ready; for instance Friday evening; – really that was admirably done. –

      I don’t know what to think of your last letter; I have half a mind to be angry; but that will be to no purpose, for if I am angry now, it will be gone as soon as I see you. – Well then, when I have greater leisure, I’ll attend more seriously to this same letter; but remember for the future when you send me home to read your letters I won’t go; – or stop, would it not be better to go and not return again? – Yet let me not be too vain; – that perhaps you could more easily dispense with, than I could wish; – I think I had better let alone the [f. 323] attempt for my own happiness; for I confess, were I to endeavor to punish you, and fail, I should feel myself very uncomfortable. – But let me examine my heart; – Do I wish even to vex you? – Do I wish to disturb you, even for a minute? – Oh no! – I wish just the contrary. – I think then, you ought not to punish me as you do; I hope you will not be absent from meeting this afternoon; – many a painful minute did I spend this morning there; – there was nothing there to entertain the eye or ear; – be you but there, and then the one will be satisfied, and the other will lose its curiosity the while. – There, I think that looks like a compliment; at least, is it not amazingly civil – But, my dear little girl, I cannot compliment you; – what in others is flattery, I speak from the heart. – I must leave off or lose my dinner; – I’ll do the former to oblige you; I know you’d chuse that for me, would you not? – Adieu! – though I have wrote so little yet my whole heart is yours; won’t that make amends? –

                                    J. Eccles. –


Sunday afternoon Octr. 31st. 1779. –


P.S. –  Be sure you don’t say this looks shabby, though in reality I think so.

1 Brooks, Correspondence 176-77; Wedd, Love Letters 153-54.