23 January [1797]

Mary Reid,1 Guilford Street, to Mary Hays, Little John Street, Grays Inn Lane, Monday, 23 January [1797] [incorrectly dated 1796].2


Guilford street Monday Jany the 23d/96

       As I do not wish to awaken feelings of disgust & horror, by appearing before you, with a black eye & a bruised protuberant forehead, I must relinquish the pleasure of calling upon you this morning. That I am prevented from bidding you Adieu is not one of the least painful effects, of an accident I have met with. I cannot, however, leave Town, without thanking you, for the agreeable hours I have enjoy’d in your society, without acknowledging myself gratified, by the expressions of friendship which accompany’d Mr Lloyd’s Poems.3  Did I not cherish the hope of meeting again, I should almost regret that we had ever met. But I flatter myself, that curiosity or amusement, will sometime take you into Leicestershire; & the various gratifications the metropolis affords, will probably induce me to visit it again; perhaps e’er long. – If I am sufficiently recover’d by that time, I intend leaving Town tomorrow morng – My brother desires his respects. Much as you dislike a slovenly appearance on paper, you w.d excuse it in the present instance, if you knew the circumstances under which I write. It has been with difficulty that I have used my pen at all – Adieu, my dear Madam – May all that happiness, health, peace, talents, & virtue, can afford, long attend you! – Y.r obliged 

                                                            Mary Reid.


I have not long left my bed, or I should have sent earlier.


Address: Miss Hays | Corner of Little John Street | Grays Inn Lane.

Postmark: none.

1 Mary Reid (1769-1839) of Leicester visiting London after the arrival of her brother, John (1773-1822) (mentioned later in the letter), first as a student at Hackney New College (Unitarian) between 1789 and 1794, and then upon the commencement of his medical practice in London after completion of his studies at Edinburgh University in September 1798. The Reids were close friends with Richard Phillips, formerly of Leicester who also arrived in London in 1795 to begin publication of the Monthly Magazine. Mary Reid may have met Hays during the time her brother attended the academy in Hackney (Hays was active in the same Unitarian circles as the ministers and tutors associated with the college) or at one of the Unitarian congregations they might have attended at the same time, most likely Salters' Hall, where Hugh Worthington, Jr., was the primary preacher and who became a friend and correspondent of Hays in 1792 and who was the son of the Reid's minister in Leicester, Hugh Worthington, Sr.. It is also possible that Reid and Hays met in 1796 through a new mutual friend, Richard Phillips, for whom Hays began contributing to his new periodical, the Monthly Magazine, early in 1796.  Whatever the case, Reid quickly began to move in the Godwin-Hays circle, and would continue so long after Hays fell out of the circle after the turn of the new century. For more on the Reids, see the Biographical Index.

2 Misc. Ms: 2191, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 504.

3 Charles Lloyd (1775-1839), originally from Birmingham, had lived for a time with Coleridge in the West Country and had published Poems on Various Subjects in 1795. By 1798, he had met Hays and many of the young Romantic figures living in London, including John Reid. He would have an ugly public encounter with Hays in late 1798 that destroyed their friendship and greatly damaged her reputation, though completely unwarranted. Several accounts of the affair by Hays's acquaintances, such as Coleridge, Lamb, Southey, and Crabb Robinson, can be found in "Letters Related to Hays, 1796-1843."