c. Late December 1779

Letter 111.  Mary Hays to John Eccles.1

     I cannot express the pleasure it gave me, to receive a letter from my Eccles again, when I had almost begun to despair of it; but even that pleasure has not been without its alloy; ah! how much your complaints affected me! The sympathetic tears would not be suppressed; ever shall they mingle with yours; ever shall they flow for the sorrows of him who is dearer to me than my own soul. …. Talk not of going abroad; how could I bear the separation?

                                “Parting is death in love.”2

The idea is insupportable! To lose you perhaps forever! Forever! Good God, what a thought! Could my Eccles bear it with composure? I flatter myself he could not! Ah! where would he find a friend so tender, so sincere as his Maria? In distress, in adversity, to whom could he fly for consolation? Oh never leave me! These arms shall be open to receive you, when all the world oppress and forsake you; no time nor circumstance can change my affection; I am wholly yours in prosperity and adversity; there is no test that my friendship (as pure as it is animated) will not stand; be comforted – be happy – and may the best of blessings attend you.

                         Maria Hays

1 Brooks, Correspondence 208; Wedd, Love Letters 184-85. Wedd's title: "Mary’s Distress."

2 Source unknown.