14 January [1806]

John Aikin, Stoke Newington, to Mary Hays, [9 St. Georges Place, Camberwell], 14 January 1805 [1806].1 


Dear Madam

       I am sorry for the occasion which has prevented us from receiving the pleasure of a visit from you while the fine weather lasted, but I hope we shall be more fortunate in the approaching spring.

       Mr Barbauld2 desires me to inform you that everything is settled satisfactorily with respect to the library, & that there is no demand whatever against you. He would have written himself to give you this information, but the affair is but just now concluded.

      I have renewed my application to Mr Phillips on your account, who positively assures me that the history is printing & that it will be out by Lady day.3 You may depend upon it that I shall not fail to bring him to a settlement as soon as the estimate can be made, but I believe we must have patience till that time.

       I am acquainted with no particular account of the abolition of the society of Jesuits except the short piece of D’Alembert entitled Sur la Destruction des Jesuits,4 which I have, at your service, if you are not possessed of it. Probably the Annual Registers contain further information, under the years in which the events took place. A Life of Pope Ganganelli5 must also afford information on this point. I see in the reviews a work of Dr [Mayn’s?]6 which seems to be annals of the last half-century: This can hardly fail to touch upon the topic.

       My wife & daughters join in respectful complts with, Dear Madam,

                        Your faithful friend & servt

                                                J. Aikin

Stoke Newington

Jan 14. 1805

Address:  Miss Hays | 9 St George’s Place | Camberwell

Postmark: 1[?] January 180[?]



From Mr Phillips’s letter of agreement it appears that Miss Hays was employed to continue Mrs Charlotte Smith’s ^work^ down to the present time; it is therefore obvious that the mode of doing it was prescribed by what was already done by Mrs Smith; & in fact her manuscript was sent to Miss Hays as a model.     

      It appears to me that Miss Hays has executed her part in a manner not inferior to that of Mrs Smith, & particularly that she has at least as much of the state of manners & society. This, in reality makes a small part in the performance of each of them; but, if Mr Phillips was satisfied with the composition of Mrs Smith, he has no reason to be dissatisfied with that of Miss Hays.

       With respect to length, it is to be remarked that the later parts of English history being the most interesting, they require being written more at large than the earlier. However, after Mr Phillips had given specific directions to Miss Hays in this point, she was bound to conform to them as nearly as the matter would permit; & if she has exceeded in any considerable degree, it ought to be at her own loss.

       As the work was taken from her in breach of the original agreement, Miss Hays cannot be expected to take any additional pains to render it more acceptable to Mr Phillips. Nevertheless, if he will supply her with books capable of furnishing more matter relative to manners, I would recommend that she should make some augmentation in this part, at the same rate of payment as the rest.

       I find nothing, therefore, to deduct from Miss Hays’s claim, except such excess of historical matter as may surpass Mr Phillips’s directions, & must be thrown out in the printing. If, also, any skill in authorship is required in reducing such exuberant matter, & Miss Hays does not chuse to take the trouble of it herself, she should make an allowance for the doing it.

                        J. Aikin


Attached to the above statement is the following undated letter by Aikin to Hays:

Dear Madam

       After much delay on account of the mislaying Mrs Smith’s papers, I have seen them, & made up my opinion as to the whole case, which I have given in the above statement, an exact transcript of which I have left with ^written for^ Mr Phillips. He agrees to submit the affair to my arbitration. I shall therefore take the earliest opportunity of bringing it to a conclusion, & remain,

                                    Yours very sincerely

                                                J. Aikin


Address: Miss Hays | St George’s Place | Camberwell

Postmark:  17 [?]

1 Misc. Ms. 2149, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 339. Aikin has clearly misdated the letter, a typical January error, for the Lady Day publication of the History was in March 1806, not 1805.

2 Rev. Rochemont Barbauld, husband of Anna Letitia Barbauld, at that time living in Stoke Newington, near John Aikin.

3 Reference is to Charlotte Smith’s three-volume The History of England, from the Earliest Records to the Peace of Amiens. In a Series of Letters to a Young Lady at School (London: R. Phillips, 1806). Mary Hays wrote volume 3.

4 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert’s Sur la destruction des Jesuites appeared in 1767 and in 1805. The Society of Jesus (known as the Jesuits) were a Catholic society that originated in Spain in the 16th century, led by Ignatius of Loyola; the society’s mission was primarily evangelization and prosyletization of largely unchurched communities (thus, the Jesuits were an early missionary society) as well as education, founding many institutions of higher learning around the world.

5 Pope Giovanni Vincenzo Antonio Ganganelli (1705-74) served as Pope Clement XIV from May 1769 to September 1774. The 4th edition of Letters of Pope Clement XIV. (Ganganelli.) To which are prefixed Anecdotes of his Life, appeared in London in 1804, published by J. Cawthorn.

6 Unidentified.

7 Misc. Ms. 2150, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 340.