12 December 1808

Mary Reid, Leicester, to Mary Hays, Park Street, Islington, 12 December 1808.1


Le[ice]ster Decr the 12th/ 1808

My dear Miss Hays

       As my brother is going to Town, I gladly avail myself of the opportunity of writing a few lines just to inquire how you do – my own health has been so indifferent for the last twelve months, that I have been unable to keep up any regular correspondence, but I am not so absorbed in selfish feelings, as not still to retain a lively interest in the welfare of my friends, & shall be sincerely glad to hear that you are better & happier than when you last wrote. – Your exertions for the good of others deserve to be reversed, & I have no doubt will, at least in the satisfaction they will afford your own mind – Alas, poor Mrs Barbauld her situation is indeed a distressing one – but I trust she will be supported under it – And the world will now be convinced of Mr Bs insanity2 – his many amiable qualities, the delicacy of his mind, the kindness & benevolence of his heart, are now recall’d with tender regret – nay even his infirmities are thought of with respect – who does not tremble on beholding so much worth & talent, so much principle & piety sacrificed to the infirmity of our mortal nature – to the insidious operation of bodily disease – that I must abruptly bid you Adieu – my brother is going – However inattentive or hurried the pen, believe me, you have still the esteem & regard

             of your affectionte Mary Reid

If you will have the kindness to send a line in a few days directed to the care of Mr Reid at Dr Reids Granville Street, Brunswick Square, it will be forwarded to me


Address: Miss Hays | Park Street | Islington

1 Misc. Ms. 2192, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 505-06. 

2 Shortly before this letter, Rochemont Barbauld had drowned himself in the New River, having suffered from bouts of insanity for years; within a few months, Ambrose Lanfear, husband of Elizabeth Hays Lanfear, would also commit suicide. Crabb Robinson wrote about both events in his Reminiscences for 1808: 

And I soon renewed my old acquaintce habits ^and^ of visiting my old acquaintance I went to Mrs Barbauld whom I had to console with, on account of her husband having drowned himself ^in a fit of insanity^ – His death was a relief to her – At Islington was my friend Miss Hayes who had also lost a brother in law Mr Lanfere by an act of suicide, the consequence of commercial embarrassment –