21 December 1779

Letter 110. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Tuesday evening, 21 December 1779.1

My Dearest, –

         So much have my spirits been of late depressed, that though I have several times attempted it, I could not write to you; I have been unusually low, and yet have no new reasons to account for it; on saturday and sunday last, in particular, I was almost beside myself. How true it is, that the greater part of our pleasures and pains, are infinitely enhanced by comparing them with those of others! ’Tis by hearing of, and seeing the easy attainment of happiness in others, that I am become so unhappy. Whilst the wishes of some are completed almost unsought after, I am daily more hopeless; not a glimmering ray comforts me. – What, my Maria, shall I do? Frequently, in darkest moments, I think of going abroad, but ’tis what I am unable to resolve on; nothing but hard necessity can ever put me on that scheme; yet at home I have but very distant hopes of any establishment in life; in all probability, many years must pass e’er that time shall arrive; in old age, if I live to it, I shall be just beginning the business of youth; I have only a life of severest cares to expect in every stage of it. – I am distressed on your account, that I have heaped so many troubles on you, that I have rendered your life a scene of inquietude: when will the fates cease to frown on us? I am indeed unhappy; – oh! that I alone were so; yet, my dear Maria, innocently have I involved you in my misfortune; you, whom of all the world I most wished to make happy, have I made wretched: – oh! miserable recompense of sincere love! The best, the tenderest of wishes, have been followed with the severest effects; yet, till you bid me, I cannot repent of what is past; why should I repine when you remain silent, nay when you are ever endeavoring to support me? ’Tis unmanly I own; yet, believe me, these tears flow not for myself but for you; ’tis for you I am miserable, for have I not made you so? May you ever be a stranger to what passes in my bosom; how often do I put on a smiling countenance, when the keenest torments rend my heart. – But stop, – why do I complain? I’ll repeat no more; your tenderness is a balm to every wound; there can I ever find that repose which everything beside denies me. How often have I assured my little girl that she is more than all the world to me, and how sincerely can I reassure her that my whole soul is unchangeably hers … Not all her sex besides have a charm that can move my heart; ’tis she alone for whom I wish to live; for what is there in life without her? However fortune may frown or smile, ever will you be most dear to your sincerely affectionate

                                    J. Eccles


Tuesday even: Dec. 21, 1779.

1 Brooks, Correspondence 207; Wedd, Love Letters 182-83. Wedd's title: "Another Unhappy Letter From Eccles."