12 November 1807
Mary Hays, 54 Coram Street, to William Tooke, [39 Ormond Street], 12 November 1807.1
Dear Sir, my earnest desire of relieving my friend, in some degree, from the pressure of her present distress, has not, I hope, made me guilty of an impropriety, in putting into your hands letters of a very delicate & confidential nature. But it appeared to me that no appeal could be so forcible as her own unstudied affecting narrative, the effusions of a wounded & almost broken spirit, poured out to an old & sympathizing friend. I have known Mrs F nearly ten years, & have seen her in the most trying & afflicting circumstances, in all of which she has manifested a patient sweetness, a fortitude, an activity, a fertility in resource, equally admirable & uncommon. She is the daughter of a clergyman, & possesses a mind highly & richly endowed. Mr F, to whom she was early married, was a man of fortune & family; his
early youth, was spent in camps, where he acquired habits of expence & thoughtless generosity, that have subsequently proved the ruin of himself & family. With superior talents, high courage, & a heart made up of warm & generous feelings, nothing could teach him common sense & prudence. & for many years past both he & Mrs F have struggled to support themselves & children by literary exertions; but the debts which Mr F had previously contracted, & the consequent law expences by which many of them were doubled, weighed down all their exertions. Worn out with these ineffectual struggles, he has at length surrendered himself, with the resolution of languishing in confinement, from the idea of which his active spirit has ever shrunk with abhorrence, till an act of grace shall liberate him & leave his future exertions free. In the meantime, the support of her children falls wholly on Mrs F, the vigour of whose constitution & mind long affliction has considerably impaired.
But little more than useless sympathy it has hitherto been in my power to afford her; but if, through your humanity & influence,2 I should be a means of procuring for her more substantial & important consolation, I shall feel myself bound by an additional tie of kindness & obligation to subscribe myself, with grateful esteem & respect, dear Sir, your sincere friend &c.
54 Coram St. Nov 12th 1807.
NB Excuse this hasty & scarcely legible scrall
Mrs F shall not know of your kind interference on her behalf, till I am acquainted with the result.
Address: Wm Tooke Esq.
1 MH 0033, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 344-45. Hays is still visiting her brother John Hays at his home in Coram Street.
2 Most likely Hays is referring here to the Literary Fund (established 1788), of which Tooke had some influence at this time among its members. The Fund was designed to provide monies (small grants) to assist those involved in literary endeavors who had inadequate means of support. Hays will ask Robinson for assistance with the fund in the following letter.