Letter 116. Mary Hays to John Eccles at Fordingbridge, mid-February 1780.1
A sigh will frequently steal from my bosom, when I reflect on the distance which separates us; this is the hour in which I usually converse with you; though you are absent, I will still continue the custom. Ah! my dearest Eccles, how sincerely do I love you, how anxiously wish to see you return; the time already begins to appear tedious; I naturally cast my eyes towards your window, though certain of not seeing what my eyes are in search of; I long for monday, yet (strange contradiction) equally dread it; with a trembling agitation shall I open your letter, fearful of examining its contents; for does not much depend on the success of your journey? If the event should prove favorable, how sincerely shall I participate in your satisfaction; if otherwise (which heaven avert), your Maria will sympathise in the disappointment, and share in your every disquiet; but even then we will not despair, as I have the happiness to find my friends think him amiable who possesses the heart of their girl; he is indeed the most amiable, the most pleasing of men. Am I partial? perhaps so; for your little girl ever regards you, ever thinks of you, with the most animated emotions of tenderness; therefore be not vain of her approbation. – I expect a long epistle on monday; you cannot be too minute in your relations, for where the heart is attached, every particular becomes interesting. I accompanied you in ideas through all your journey; entered with you into Salisbury, and to Mr. Gifford’s, from thence to Fordingbridge, and painted to myself the surprize your sisters would be in at seeing you – but I could not go any farther. – My God, protect him! bless him! Grant that he may return with joy to his Maria! Ever shall her prayers be offered for his happiness! ––– Tell me how this little absence affects you? Do you think often of me? Are you restless and uncomfortable? What a silly girl! I blush at my own folly; but you must not laugh at my weakness; I can’t allow for that.
I was surprized this morning at seeing your curtain down; somebody certainly sleeps in your room whilst you are absent; I felt cross at it; though I don’t know for what reason.
What delightful fine weather it is; if my wishes have any efficacy, you feel the same exhilarating sunshine at Fordingbridge. Had the spring been a little more advanced I should have expected you to have been poetical, but at present I will excuse you, as trees stript of their leaves, and fields of their verdure, cannot be very inspiring. I long to hear the event of your application; my heart is tortured with all the pangs of suspence. If possible let me have a letter on wednesday or thursday; you know the pleasure it always gives me to hear from you. I intend writing again by tuesday’s post, for next to the satisfaction of conversing with a friend, is that of writing to them.
Adieu, my dear Eccles, be assured I am all your own,
1 Brooks, Correspondence 210-11; Wedd, Love Letters 188-89. Wedd's title: "Mary to Eccles at Fordingbridge."