c. March-April 1780

Letter 119. Mary Hays to John Eccles at Fordingbridge.1

     Take the note, my dear Eccles; I love you too well to let you suffer a moment’s anxiety for what does not deserve one; pardon what may appear like levity in the style of it, as it was written to my most intimate friend, in an unguarded “gaieté de coeur”.

     I want your sentiments on delicacy and female reserve. My heart has lately been in continual struggles between its affection for you, and the decorum I owe to my sex; I wish for your opinion on this subject; I can repose an entire confidence on your advice, as I know the strength of your understanding, and the goodness of your heart. – Yes, ever will your Maria look up to you as her protector, guardian, and friend, in the best, the most extensive sense of the words. Will then my Eccles write me his thoughts on the before mentioned subject, and send it to Mrs Collier’s some time tomorrow? He will oblige me by so doing. – Adieu! I am faithfully and affectionately

                 Your own girl

                             Maria Hays

1 Brooks, Correspondence 213; Wedd, Love Letters 192-93. Wedd's title: "The Subject of Decorum Again."

2 "cheerfulness of heart"