23 August 1781

Mary Hays’s Concluding Note to the Love Letters, 23 August 1781.1  

     After a stay of five weeks at Fordingbridge, I returned to my friends, with an aching heart (accompanied by Miss Eccles), and experienced the truth of an observation which my Eccles once made, “that it was a wretched hope to expect an alleviation of our distresses from a change of place.”

     The following summer I revisited this country, where after residing near three months, employed in a melancholy contemplation of the uncertainty of all human enjoyments, and the peculiar severity of my fate, I again returned to the bosom of my friends, whose affectionate sympathy is the only source from which I derive consolation.

     This day is the anniversary of that fatal day, which blasted all the fond hopes of my youth!

“For which I mourn, and will forever mourn!

Nor will I change these black and dismal robes!

Nor ever dry these swoll’n and wat’ry eyes;

Or ever taste content and peace of heart,

Whilst I have life, and thought of thee, my Eccles.”2

Death to me is the most pleasing theme of contemplation! All its terrors I have already undergone, and I impatiently expect 

                    “To see the shadows rise – and be dismist.”3

                                                        Mary Hays


August 23, 1781

1 Brooks, Correspondence 232; Wedd, Love Letters 219. Wedd's title: "Concluding Note to the Love Letters."

2 Lines from William Congreve's play, The Mourning Bride (1697), Act I, scene 1. 

3 Line from Nicholas Rowe's tragedy, Jane Shore (1714), Act V, scene 1.