Undated, c. April 1792
Mary Wollstonecraft, Store Street, [Bedford Square], to Mary Hays, Gainsford Street, Saturday morning, [undated, c. April 1792].1
I have just cast my eye over your sensible little pamphlet,2 and found fewer of the superlatives, exquisite, fascinating, &c, all of the feminine gender, than I expected. Some of the sentiments, it is true, are rather obscurely expressed; but if you continue to write you will imperceptibly correct this fault and learn to think with more clearness, and consequently avoid the errors naturally produced by confusion of thought.
As you wish to have your proofs3 quickly returned, I should think that you had better desire the printer’s boy to bring them to me and wait for them, for I will read them immediately, unless I should happen to be particularly engaged. I shall use a pencil so you may adopt or erase my corrections without much trouble.
I thank you for recollecting the enquiries which I requested you to make, respecting my brother;4 but since I saw you I have received a letter from him.
I shall not forget your message to Mr Johnson5 and remain yours Sincerely
Address: Miss Hays | Gainsford Street | Southwark
1 MW 0046, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 300-01; Todd, Collected Letters 211-12; Wedd, Love Letters 224.
2 Reference is to Hays's first significant publication, Cursory Remarks on an Enquiry into the Expediency and Propriety of Public Worship (London: T. Knott, 1792), signed "Eusebia." The work appeared in the early months of that year; Todd dates the letter as late 1792.
3 Reference here is most likely to Hays's second major publication, Letters and Essays, Moral and Miscellaneous (London: T. Knott, 1793), which appeared in March 1793, with a dedication to her new friend and correspondent among London's leading Unitarians, the Revd. John Disney.
4 Either James or Charles Wollstonecraft, her two brothers.
5 Joseph Johnson (1738-1809) was the leading Dissenting bookseller and publisher in London during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. Born into a Baptist family in Liverpool, Johnson came to London in 1752 as an apprentice to George Keith, a Baptist bookseller in Gracechurch Street and brother-in-law to John Gill, well known High Calvinist pastor of the Particular Baptist meeting at Horsleydown (later Carter Lane), Southwark. In 1770, Johnson opened his own bookshop in St. Paul’s Churchyard, where he remained until his death. He published and sold numerous works by Dissenters (he worshiped among the General Baptists for many years, as well as other Unitarian congregations in London), such as Mrs. Barbauld, Dr. Aikin and Joseph Priestley, as well as controversial political pamphlets by such writers as Mary Wollstonecraft, Gilbert Wakefield, and Horne Tooke. He also published Hays's radical novel, The Victim of Prejudice. Hays wrote several pieces for his periodical, The Analytic Review. In 1797 he was sentenced to nine months imprisonment and fined £50 for selling Wakefield’s A Reply to Some Parts of the Bishop of Llandaff’s Address to the People of Great Britain (1798). See Tyson 3, 135-75.