23 March 1808

John Dunkin, Woodham Mortimer Lodge, to Mary Hays, 3 Park Street, Islington, 23 March 1808.1


Woodham Mortimer Lodge Mar 23d, 1808


    Accept my best thanks my Dear Mary for your favor of the 8th Inst – to answer it particularly, I must take it in the order it stands – my dear girls first claim my regard – tell them how much I am pleas’d to hear of the improvements they are making, & still expect they will make under your kind, sisterly, & friendly attention – also of the affectionate expressions in their Letters to me, which will always find a return with Interest, and can only terminate with my existence – if Sarah finds herself comfortable and happy, I am not determined in taking her back after the year expires – I never yet dealt ungenerously by any, and I am sure I shall not begin with you – at any rate you may be assured I shall give you a few months notice – let them by all means continue daily to read the Scriptures, and I sincerely wish they may be a “light to their feet and a Lamp to their paths[”]2 – early impressions are not soon erased – they may be of much service to them hereafter in a world, to the most prosperous, full of snares and dangers and which, by the apparent unequal dispensations of providence, must convince every thinking Mind, that tis only a passage to a better; when “we shall see no more through a glass darkly[”]3 – <-> all mysteries will be done away & we shall join in saying “Righteous art thou O Lord in all thy ways, Holy in all thy works[”]4 – altho’ at present we are surrounded by Clouds & darkness, we shall at all times do well to remember, and it ought also to be our Consolation, that “Justice & Judgment are the habitation of his Throne and righteousness goeth before his face[”]5 – You misunderstood me of what I said of J L6 – his prospects are quite equal to my expectation – his present difficulties are from want of a larger Capital – if he can shift for another year, & my life is spared, I doubt not, being able to assist him – his prospects for this year are good, as the seasons were never more favorable for heavy lands – one good Year would nearly relieve him – I have seen a full Statement of his affairs, and all the money sunk has been, I am informd been sunk, with judgment, and with the promise I hope of a tenfold return – in a farm out of Condition, which was the Case with his when he took it, ^he^ has every thing going out for 2 years at least, with little return – after that time he may look forward for payment, and altho’ at present he may “sow in Tears[”] I trust eventually he will reap with joy7 – his difficulties at first, may continually ^in the end^ do him good – his disappointments from his father, and the state his ^father’s^ affairs are in, must necessarily depress his Spirits, and as, very likely his frequently seeing him and hearing of his difficulties, might induce him to say to me, that he wishd for my situation even in London coud he meet one, occasiond the subject I mentiond to you, to pass my mind – perhaps on the whole, things may be better as they are – were he inclined to part wth the farm to morrow, his whole Capital woud find a return, which woud be nearly ten times as much as I had when I first set off in Life – no possible imprudence can be charged on Nancy and I believe she is fully acquainted with every thing – so that from what I wrote I am sure you need not defer your visit there on that account, as you had promisd it – tho’ it woud have given us much pleasure had it been at Woodm Mortimer – perhaps you can extend your time to spend another fortnight with us, and as th your Pupils will be with you their lessons can have your usual attention – I have written to Thomas,8 for whom, I feel great anxiety, fearing his prudence will hardly stand the trials he must necessarily be exposd to  – but I must, and will still hope for, the best – You are very kind in acquitting ^Mr F^9 so much as you have – I cannot so easily do it, and perhaps because I cannot fully enter into all your reasons – he has married another, but I fear without a Heart to dispose of – his prospects may be flattering but they will be deceitful with^out^ the testimony of a good Conscience –

     The Pork intended for you I find was sent to your Mother, with which I am perfectly satisfied, tho’ it might be a disappointment to you at the time – what I intend now to send you I hope will be more acceptable, as it will be much larger, and fit to salt down & own. Let me know in answer to this your every demand on me to Lady Day includg the Quarterly payment and I will immediately remit an order to Mr Lanfear10 for the amt. – have you seen 3 vols octavo, Letters from the Mountains by a lady beging at the age of 17 – if you have not, both you & some of your pupils will be much delighted with them.11

     When will the present cold winds leave us – this winter especially since Xs has been the most unpleasant I remember Perhaps I have felt the Cold more than common from my usual Complaint in my Stomach – Thank God I am much better – Mary Lee12 is just recoverd from the meazles – I hear all the Children in Aldermanbury13 have them and fear that Betsys Strength14 will hardly be equal to her duty & love – If my Daughters knew I was writing they woud join in best wishes for your happiness and in kind remembrance to all your Circle – make my sincere & affectionate love to the Girls & be assured I am also sincerely & affy yrs

                                         J Dunkin Jr


Address: Mrs Hays | N° 3 Park Street | Islington

Postmark: 24 March 1808, Maldon

Post Paid to London

1 Misc. Ms. 2286, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 492-94.

2 See Psalm 119:105.

3 I Corinthians 13:12.

4 Psalm 145:17.

5 Psalm 89:14.

6 John Lee, Dunkin's son-in-law (see previous letter by Dunkin).

7 Psalm 126:5.

8 Thomas Dunkin (see previous two letters).

9 William Frend.

10 Ambrose Lanfear, Sr, husband of Mary Hays’s sister, Elizabeth, who would die shortly by means of suicide.

11 Letters from the Mountains, being the Real Correspondence of a Lady, 3 vols (1803) by the Scottish writer, Anne Grant (1755-1838).

12 Mary Lee was one of John Dunkin’s most recent granddaughters and greatniece of Mary Hays; she was the child of Anne Dunkin and John Lee, who were married on 17 October 1805.

13 Apparently a reference to children from the marriage of Joanna Dunkin and Nathaniel Palmer, living at that time in Aldermanbury; however, none were included in Nathaniel's will, so we can assume none of them survived into adulthood.

14 Most likely Elizabeth Lanfear, living only a short distance away from Hays in Islington, who had two young boys of her own by this date.