9 November 1779 (2)
Letter 92. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Tuesday, 9 November 1779.1
How easily can I set aside the thoughts of any amusement and devote the minutes I can spare to the pleasure of my Maria; I am not charmed with the noise and bustle of the world; nor has variety nor the shew of pageantry any attractions for me; all the variety I wish is in you. I feel so tranquil a state of mind, when I avoid the pursuits after happiness, which engage the gay unthinking world, that it is impossible they can disappoint me; I am not bent on them, therefore they cannot disquiet me. – The more solid enjoyments which are ever attendant on the paths of virtue are [f. 348] too sublime to be set in competition with the former. – Can a temporary levity of mind, or those spirits which are excited by (I will not say vice) circumstances, which at best exist in vanity, be compared to the permanent satisfaction which exalts the soul, from a consciousness of having lived and acted on the purest principles of rectitude? – I am not against any innocent indulgences; they ought to be sometimes encouraged I think: the mind at times calls for some recreation to renovate its faculties for more noble action: but to live on pleasure is the greatest source of pain. – I know, my little girl will be pleased when I tell her, that she alone can give the true relish to any entertainment: nothing can please, in which she does not participate, and with her is all that happiness can give. – I am not at all selfish in my pleasures, for I can sincerely say I am incapable of any in which you have not a part. – I promise myself more from our walk on Thursday next, than ’tis possible for the whole world to give you; yet I will not depend on it, for there it is possible I may be disappointed. – The company of a tender, engaging companion is a consolation under every misfortune in life; – when love soothes our cares, they cannot but be alleviated. What a delightful scene must be the life of those whose hearts and hands are both united! – who are possessed of a comfortable sufficiency; whose wishes are the same; whose taste is refined and whose sentiments correspond! – Their happiness is in themselves, nor can the world destroy it: – secure of each other affections, but little in this world have they to hope or fear. – I frequently think what insensitive creatures those must be, who have [f. 349] more than affluence, and yet live in a single state; – our sex in particular have no just excuse on this account: – it must proceed from a narrowness of mind; – pleasures of an inferior rank can satisfie them: the attainment of riches is the highest good some are capable of; they have no more exalted notions than the keeping together of treasures; – which yet in a very short time they must leave behind them, and which whilst here they have not the spirit to enjoy; – others, on the contrary, lavish away estates and fortunes in sensuality and luxury; and their ideas of pleasure are just opposite to those of the former class. – Indeed the objects and pursuits of men are almost as various as their faces; – but very few can stand the test of scrutinizing reason. – Those men who have not a susceptibility of soul to love, lose all the purest joys of life; – indeed life is an insipid existence without it; ’tis a state, by no means on any other account enviable. –
You have often in your letters of late intimated that it is possible, or at least that you think it possible I can be so base as to desert you. – I don’t think you doubt my affection now, why then will you perplex yourself with what is yet to come; – besides ’tis an unkind supposition; – it looks something like a reflection on my past conduct, which I know you never intended. – But my dearest Maria, you need entertain no such fears; – I know not a thought which strays from you; – I know not a wish which could exist without you; – I am [f. 350] not of such an unstable disposition; – I am everlastingly your’s by all that’s tender and sacred. – I am ever ready to satisfie any jealous suspicion that may disturb you, by the most solemn engagement, and the most irrevocable too. – To be always your’s, is the height of my desires; ever to love you with the same ardor which I now feel, and to reflect on you with the same sensations. – What could all the universe give me in return for the loss of those pleasures which I have ever possessed from a consciousness of the dignity of that passion which you have called forth? – I am too sensible of your worth and too well acquainted with the openness and generosity of your heart, not to know, my dearest girl, that I can never love you enough, nor sufficiently value you. – After an attachment of two years duration and with a great deal of opposition too, I think we both ought to leave off doubting; – ’tis a very painful situation. – Be assured that nothing can change the heart of your sincerely affectionate –
J. Eccles. –
Tuesday Novr 9th 1799.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 188-89; Wedd, Love Letters 165-66.