25 June 1804
Henry Crabb Robinson, Jena, to Mary Hays, [9 St. Georges Place, Camberwell], 25 June 1804.1
My dear ffriend,
I have written one or two Letters to you which have not been so far successful to procure me an Answer: But I will draw no conclusions from this, either against your well being in general, or against the continuance of your good will for me: So many accidents may have happen’d to prevent my hearing from you. Nor do I write now with any ^further^ purpose than to recall your recollection of me, And to assure you once again that neither the Change of Opinions, the various Scenes I have witnessed, the variety of Characters I have become acquainted with, nor the necessary result of a 4 years absence, have together been able to remove you from a place in my Memory & Esteem – Your Image is one of those agreeable distant Objects with which (even when the nearer ones are pleasant,) I am glad to vary the Impressions which busy my fancy. I often think of you with Interest & regard, & please myself with the hope of one day renewing my personal acquaintance with you –
To say a word or two of myself – I continue here at Jena a place to which I am more attached than perhaps I ought to be for a town that is not within my native country. I pursue my reading so entirely without restraint – All unpleasant objects are so entirely removed And I live a life of such perfect freedom: that I can dispense with certain higher & more exquisite Enjoyments, which unquestionably my present mode of life does not tend to my possessing in the future –
It would gratify me much to hear from you an account of yourself equally favorable. I should rejoice to hear that you were more actively employed than I am – for the higher energy of your Character And the habit of having your kind understanding or feelings called forth – has allows you now no medium between Intellectual Exertion And destructive Ennuie and Melancholy.
I am fully determined to return to England at Spring if peace should in the mean time be made – But I shall hardly think for the present of taking up my Abiding City among you – I have seen & loved Germany but I long after Italy; This is now the promised Land of my expecting fancy – but I will first renew my english Connections for tho’ I do not feel hitherto any very significant diminution of my Affection towards my ffriends at home – my understanding tells me there is a time beyond which no absence can be suffer’d with Safety.
I have no time to write a long Letter now – As I must send this Letter immediately to Leipzick to my ffriend Tomalin2 a friend of Astley’s,3 with whom I wish you to become acquainted, T.[’s] Character is expressed in his physiognomy – And I need not say more to excite your Esteem. He was a dissenting minister but like Astley left the profession for Conscience Sake – he has since been travelling in Germany for Macmurdo’s house[.] I do not know your present Address – Tomalin will have no difficulty in finding you out. He can tell you how I am in health &c &c Should you write, send your Letter to Jameson4 –
Your sincere ffriend
H. C. Robinson.
Jena 25th June 1804.
Address: For Miss Hayes | To be delivered | by my friend | Tomalin./
1 Crabb Robinson Archive, Bundle 6, XIII (d.), Dr. Williams's Library, London; Brooks, Correspondence 565-66.
2 Obadiah Tomalin (1772-1843) was at one time a Dissenting minister who studied at the Northampton Academy, 1789-95, during the tenure of John Horsey, Presbyterian minister at Northampton. Tomalin supplied for a time at Yeovil, Somerset, but was not successful. He left the ministry and became connected about this time with Edward Macmurdo and later with Mr Davy, Robinson’s friend, who, like J. T. Rutt, was a drug merchant in London but, unlike Rutt, was an orthodox Dissenter, not a Unitarian. He introduced Robinson to Thomas Manning, the solicitor and son of the Presbyterian minister at Exeter. Robinson writes about Tomalin in his 1800 Reminiscences: "Just before I went abroad I became acquainted with Obadiah Tomalin an ex minister from the York – or was it the Northampton Academy? He had gone into the Service of Mr McMurdo And abot this time took Ed: Macmurdo to fix him at school at near Frankfurth."
3 Joseph Astley (c. 1777-1832) studied for the Dissenting ministry at New College, Manchester, in the 1790s, but turned to journalism in London before becoming a successful chemical manufacturer in Edinburgh. He assumed control of the Analytical Review from Joseph Johnson at the end of 1798, an operation he maintained through the following June, when the Review folded. Astley was the son of Thomas Astley (1738-1817), a nonconformist minister at Preston and Chesterfield, Lancashire, and fellow classmate of Joseph Priestley at Daventry Academy. Astley’s Advertisement for the new series of the Review, published in February 1799 (London: T. Hurst), described the periodical as only a Rational Dissenter would do: “untainted by the Prejudices of Party or the Dogmas of Sectarism [sic]” (ii), a periodical worthy of “the Friends of human Improvement” neither hindered “by the Spirit of Faction, nor impaired by the Menaces of Persecution” (iii).
4 For Jameson, see Robinson to Hays, 26 January 1802.