c. late December 1796-early January 1797
Mary Wollstonecraft to Mary Hays, undated [c. late December 1796 or early January 1797].1
I have sent you the Gossips Story2 to review, as you wish to read it, but I would thank you if you would do it immediately, because Johnson is in want of materials for the present month. The great merit of this work is, in my opinion, the display of the small causes which destroy matrimonial felicity & peace. In reviewing, will you pardon me? you seem to <-> run into an errour [sic] which I have laboured to cure in myself: you allude to things in the work which can only be understood by those who have read it, instead of, by a short summary of the contents, or an account of the incident on which the interest turns, enabling a person to have a clear idea of a book, which they have never heard of before. I could explain myself better, were I not in haste.
I expect Mrs Robinson & daughter to drink [tea] with me,3 on thursday, will you come to meet them. She has read your novel,4 and was very much pleased with the main story; but did not like the conclusion. She thinks the death of Augustus the end of the story and that the husband should have been suffered to die a natural death. Perhaps she is right. I know my sympathy ceased at the same place; but I thought that was owing to having had a peep behind the curtain. I shall expect you. Adieu!
Address: Miss Hays
1 MS MW 0043, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 309-10; Todd, Collected Letters 392-93; Wedd, Love Letters 240-41.
2 Jane West's A Gossip's Story, and a Legendary Tale (1796) was reviewed by Hays (signed as "V. V.") in the January issue of the Analytical Review 15 (1797), 25-6.
3 See previous letter.
4 Emma Courtney.