24 July 1780

Letter 123.  Mary Hays to Mrs. Collier, Monday, July 24, 1780.1


     No, my dearest mamma, I will not confine you to a day; for (don’t be angry with me when I own) your last letter did not give me the satisfaction I generally receive from your epistles; was there not something constrained in the style of it? It did not seem to breathe that tenderness, which you have taught me to expect; but perhaps I only imagine so; friendship where animated and sincere is like love, susceptible of jealousy. But if I give up my day, I shall still expect to hear from you as often; I will not by any means consent to be deprived of that satisfaction.

     You ask me respecting the “grand affair” as you term it. I have the pleasure to inform you that everything respecting it goes on prosperously; the preliminaries are settled, the cards printing, and the lawyers employed; if [no] accident intervenes, Mr Eccles is to enter on the partnership on the first of August. I wish the time was arrived, for I cannot persuade myself that an event so pleasing will ever take place. Mr Eccles has been so poorly these two days past, that I am filled with alarms about him; he complains of a violent headach and sickness, and seems very feverish; my God, if he should be taken from me! But distraction is in the idea; I dare not indulge it even for a moment! My existence depends on his. Ah, my dear Mamma, you know not to what an excess I love him; ’tis that which makes me apprehensive of losing him; for the Almighty will not suffer idolatry in our hearts. But I will not give way to these gloomy fears; they are too painful; why should we by anticipating, double our distresses? “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof.”2


  When am I to expect to see you, my dear Mamma? you have now been absent almost a month; but Tinwell has such prevailing charms, that I do not wonder you are loath to quit it; I only wish it was nearer London; though ’tis unreasonable to hope to draw all we love into one circle.

     You have made no mention of E––, what is become of him? An old lover like an old almanack grows quite out of date; I am a little saucy I believe, but you must forgive me, for these bad pens so fatigue me, that I could quarrel with a straw; but I love you most sincerely notwithstanding my flippancy.

     I am grown strangely stupid of late, but know not what can occasion it, yet so it is; I fear you will grow tired of so dull a correspondent. … I have not yet visited your library, which is somewhat extraordinary; but my mind has of late been so much agitated, that even reading has lost its charms. If my Eccles should get well, a few days I hope will put an end to my adventures, and settle me in the calm tranquility which my soul has so long and so ardently panted after. … I must now lay down my pen which I will condemn to be thrown out of the window. With the tenderest esteem, I am your dutiful and affectionate

                                            Maria Hays

Monday, July 24, 1780

1 Brooks, Correspondence 217-18; Wedd, Love Letters 198-200. Wedd's title: "Eccles' Illness Reported to Mrs. Collier."

2 Matthew 6:34.