28 November 1779

Letter 106. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Sunday morning, 28 November 1779.1

     These gloomy mornings are rather unfavorable for writing; they frequently infect the spirits; so if this letter be conceived in a dull strain, you will know to what to impute it. – But you may say, what has the weather to do with the heart of a lover? It must be but an indifferent composition if that can damp or cool its affections! – very true; but may not the weight in the atmosphere around us, so compress and confine the flame, that its effects may not be so visible, though ’tis fervent as ever? And may not the senses become mouldy and inactive by the moisture and thickness of the air, and so prevent the growth of bright ideas?

     Is not this a very philosophical apology for a dull epistle, and are not they sound arguments? At least you must allow them to be as good as Mr B—n’s.2 – This brings something to my mind – don’t you think it is a most comfortable doctrine to our sex, that we are not pestered with any of yours in heaven? Mr B—n is not over polite to you; but I suppose he has experience what plagues you are here, and so is for shutting you out from a hereafter; at least if any of you should be there, it will be a WONDER. – However till experience has made me as wise as he, I shall not admit this as a part of my creed. ’Tis an odd scheme, methinks, to make hermaphrodites of us; as we shall be only spiritual, I cannot see why the distinction of sex should be taken away; besides if there are neither male nor female spirits, I should think memory and affection must be taken from us too; for is not love a pure intellectual enjoyment of the soul? And to recollect this, and yet be deprived of its pleasures, is this consistant with perfect happiness? But as I have nobody to dispute with, I’ll leave the subject with assuring my little girl that I shall be much disappointed in the next world, if she is less dear to me than in this. … walked from the city with Mr Bond last night; the remembrance of his partner seemed to engross his thoughts; he spoke but very little, and his countenance wore the aspect of a real mourner. If he is a man of feeling, what poignant griefs must he suffer! What acute distress must overwhelm him, on the approach to a home bereft of all its joys! Deprived of all his soul held most dear on earth, what a disconsolate scene must life be! – Oh heaven! for ever shield me from this extreme stroke of thy displeasure! Never take my Maria from me, and what else is there I can endure! – Adieu! May the smiles of heaven ever bless my little girl, prays her truly affectionate

                            J. Eccles


Sunday morning, Nov. 28, 1779.

1 Brooks, Correspondence 204-05; Wedd, Love Letters 180-81. Wedd's title: "Eccles Confesses Dulness."

2 Michael Brown, Baptist minister at the Gainsford Street chapel, Blackfields.