18 November 1808

Mary Brown,1 St. Mary Hill, to Mary Hays, [3 Park Street, Islington], [18 November 1808].2


      My dear friend tell me do you know any thing more agonizing than duty and inclination at war. I received your two kind notes for which my heart is most grateful – Last week I intended to have enjoyed the pleasure of seeing you Early this [day], and sent my Son to say so – I dined at Mr Mulletts3 on Friday last and on Saturday4 my beloved John was taken very ill in a fever, he had before had a bad cold with sore throat and other unpleasant symptoms but he was not so much worse on Sunday we sent for Dr Syms – his stomach refused every thing and the fever was extremely ^high^ – At this moment a voice seem’d to say “Stand still and know that I am God”5 when sick with watching this soothing Sentence cheared my aching heart, when wearied by sitting up night after night, this has been my pillow, an a downey one it has been to my throbbing head – but he is better. “Praise the Lord oh my Soul!”6 a full confidence in the wise decrees of Him who cannot err produces a calm in the disturbed bosom of a mother which nothing else can – and while I sit rivetted to his bedside afraid to breath[e] least I should awaken this sleeping Angel, I adore the goodness of the Almighty who gave me him and who has a right to recall him. Oh fortitude Oh resignation where are ye – I am a poor weak foolish woman pitty me my dear friend I stand in need of your kind Sympathy, how a little of this sweet ingredient reconciles us to what we have no power to utter – but my heart is lighter now, and I hope soon to see you but can fix no Time – as duty imperviously demands my personal Attention Attendance on this Lovely flower and ardently do I pray I may raise its Drooping head – my two girls are also ill in violent7 colds which I fear will terminate in the Hooping cough this is another source of sorrow again I implore your pitty – accept my affectionate Love and present it to your dear girls8

                                                M I Brown

Friday night

St Mary Hill


Address: Miss Hays | Park Street | Islington

Postmark: 19 November 1808, 4 o’clock. 

Post Paid 3d

1 Mary Robinson Brown, daughter of the Baptist minister Robert Robinson of Cambridge who had been an important correspondent of Mary Hays in the 1780s. Mary Robinson and her sister, Ann, beame friends of Mary and Elizabeth Hays at that time and continued so thereafter. Mary Robinson was married to the wine merchant Samuel Brown and moved in the same Unitarian circles that Hays and Crabb Robinson had entered in the mid-1790s, all being friends of George Dyer, Anthony Robinson, William Frend, and, as this letter reveals, Thomas Mullett and his family.

2 Misc 2163, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, 290-91.

3 Thomas Mullett (1745-1814) was initially a prosperous paper-maker and stationer in Bristol at 18 Bristol-back. He married Mary Evans (1743?-1800), the daughter of Hugh Evans (and Sarah Browne) and sister to Caleb Evans, ministers at the church in Broadmead. At some point in the late 1780s or early 1790s, Mullett removed to London, where he began operating as an American agent in partnership with his wife’s nephew and his son-in-law, Joseph Jeffries Evans (1768-1812). At the time of Mullett’s death in 1814, he was residing in Clapham; he was buried at Bunhill Fields, with John Evans, General Baptist minister at Worship Street, London, delivering his funeral sermon. During his time in London, Mullett and his son-in-law, J. J. Evans, became close friends with the diarist Henry Crabb Robinson. Mullett and Evans appear frequently in the early volumes of Robinson’s diary. For more on Mullett and his family, see his entry in the Biographical Index; also Timothy Whelan,  “From Thomas Mullett to Charles Dickens, Jr.: Creating, Sustaining and Expanding a West Country-London Baptist Circle.” Baptist Quarterly 48.2 (2017), 78-100.

4 Satturday] MS

5 Psalm 46:10.

6 Psalm 103:1.

7 violant] MS

8 Reference is to the Dunkin girls then living with Mary Hays.