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
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.