11 March 1814
Penelope Pennington, Hot Wells, to Mary Hays, at Mrs. Mackie’s, Tansor, near Oundle, Northamptonshire, 11 March 1814.1
Hot Wells 11th March 1814
I was really glad, my dear Madam, to hear that my Letter reach’d you safe through the heavy Snows that threaten’d its obstruction, if not its total loss; – and that neither your Health, nor Spirits have suffer’d materially by the inclement Season we have had, and this never ending Winter which still tarries with us, and is almost too much for my Philosophy. – My little Garden, the Pride of my Heart, & delight of my Eyes, that used, at this time, to be gay with Snow-drops, Crocus’s, and “a thousand lovely Children of the Spring,” is all chill and dreary! – but Midsummer will come when I trust you will find us in full bloom and beauty, and most fervently do I wish the “Home” you seek with such ingenuous Confidence, & where you will be so gladly, & cordially welcomed, may, indeed prove to you “a Haven of rest,” and not disappoint the warm hopes you entertain on the Subject.
I sometimes think it might have ^been^ acting more wisely not to have excited so strong an Interest, on either Side; – yet I doubt only myself. – Distinguish’d in early Life by no inconsiderable share of Personal Graces & attractions – now lost & faded! – my nature once most affectionate, & too lavishly caress’d! – my Hopes alas! “too fondly nursed, too rudely cross’d”! – a certain chill has taken place in the warm current of my Heart, that makes me doubt whether it can ever flow again; – and I am conscious my Temper has contracted an impatience and asperity which I cannot always restrain, the natural consequence that disappointments flowing from the loss of Lovers, Friends, and Patrimony, often produce in the best Soil of the human Mind. – and do you yet think dearest Madam you can love such a changed & faulty being? – I own it sometimes strikes me that you may, and the delusion is so pleasing I cannot part with it.
Shou’d it, however, as almost every other Blessing has been, be altogether torn from me in the event, I will never trust to impulse again. – I think we stand a chance of pleasing one another tolerably well as far as Principles, Feelings, & Opinions go, which is meeting under no small advantage. – on Religious Points I perceive we must “agree to differ” – I am strongly attach’d to the “Establish’d Church,” to “Principalities & Powers” as the best Security for that Moral Order which I love; – but I am content every one shou’d think on these subjects for themselves. – In my intimate and Bosom Connexions, I only desire that the same God and Saviour may be acknowledged – for the rest I say with Pope
“For Modes of faith, let senseless Bigots fight,
He cannot be wrong, whose Life is in the right.”2 –
In Politics, whatever may be the difference of Opinion respecting the means, we must all have the same end in view, the general good. – We must all detest the Tyrant who has wrought such misery, & such a scene of rapine, & desolation over ^the^ World and wish his power limited, or, if it pleased the great Disposer of Events, his compleat overthrow; – for as soon may we expect to find the “troubled ocean without a Storm, as that the turbulent Elements of which he is composed, shou’d subside into the calm of Peace” –
But the discussion of such Matters only gives a zest to Conversation, which in the level, dull road of common Life, often wants a Subject. – We can think, and talk of nothing at present but the Allies, and our Spirits rise, & fall as they seem to succeed, or are defeated, and, indeed, without this animating Spring to have kept our Minds in a constant state of action, I think we should have become quite torpid under the influence of this long, and chilly Winter. – I say to myself repeatedly, in another Week surely the great Work going on will be compleated! – but Week succeeds to Week and the End still seems so far off, that conjecture loses itself at times in despair, until a Streamlet of good News again revives our Hopes. – May the result be permanent rest, & quiet the long suffering World! My lucubrations take a pleasanter and more certain turn when I say to myself – “in a few Days my new Friend, & Hearts dear hope, will only have 1 month more in Northamptonshire; – two more will then bring her to my Arms, and the “Haven where she wou’d be.” –
You have given me a picture of your Mind. – pray let me have a Sketch of your Person. – I like to know what I have to expect – whether black, or fair, and whether I am to look up, or down to my Object; – in short whether I am to expect a smart, little, degagée Figure, or a graceful Simiramis3; – whether a Pair of Black Eyes, sparkling with Wit & Intelligence, or of Blue full of Softness, & Intellect? – I have injured the tendon of the fore Finger, on my Right Hand, which is at present so sore & painful I write with difficulty, & I have ^the^ vilest Pen that was every touch’d, and having mislaid my Stock, cannot get at a better, – so you must excuse a wretched Scrawl, and make it out as well as you can –
Mr Pennington desires me to offer you his best Regards & most respectful Compliments, & I am – My dear Madam,
much, & most sincerely Yours
Address: Mrs M: Hays | Mrs Mackies | Tansor near Oundle |Northamptonshire
Postmark: 13 March 18[?]
1 Misc. Ms. 2182, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 513-15.
2 Lines adapted from Pope’s Essay on Man, Epistle III, ll. 305-06.
3 Semiramis was an Assyrian goddess of extraordinary beauty. However, Pennington may also be referring to the historical Semiramis, the Assyrian Queen Shammuramat, wife of Shamshi-Adad V, who briefly ruled during the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC) after her husband’s death (811-06 BC).