24 June 1814

Penelope Pennington, Hot Wells, to Mary Hays, Paragon, Blackheath, Kent, 24 June 1814.1

Hot Wells 24th June 1814 

My dear Madam

       Taking all circumstances into consideration, if perfectly convenient, and agreeable to you, I think it will be best to postpone your removal here, until my return from our Excursion. – I should not like to trust your reception to any ones Feelings but my own.         Welcomed in my Arms, I flatter myself you will not feel a Stranger; – a sensation cruelly annoying to me, and for which I have the truest Sympathy. – I believe I shou’d have proposed this Plan, but there is something chilling to my perceptions in unnecessary delay; but as this arrangement will favor your Wishes in the delight of seeing objects so dear, and interesting to you, every objection on that side is removed. – you will have full leisure to satisfy all the demands of your Friends, and when we meet it will be with an unalloyed satisfaction, and without the apprehension of speedy separation, which I have a presentiment, when once I have got you under my Roof, I shall not speedily, or willingly subscribe to. – Your Furniture will probably arrive before my departure, as we do not purpose leaving Home until the 1st or 2nd August. – Otherwise by addressing a line to Miss Wren, at my House in my absence, you may command all necessary information. –

       The Bed with its etcetera’s will be decidedly useful & acceptable, – as I am under the necessity, in conse[quence] of my poor Mothers encreasing Infirmities, to take a Person, who must have the sole care of her, and the little Tent Bed, I mentioned in my last, is brought into requisition to facilitate this arrangement. – I shall not attempt to provide Curtains for your chamber, until I see what will best harmonize with your Furniture. –

       After all, as I told you in my last, Circumstances may arise to entirely set aside my Plans, in which case you shall have immediate information. – 

     You shall also hear from me on my route, and be, previously, acquainted with the exact period of my return.

   I thank you dearest Madam for your caution respecting double Postage, and am quite shocked at the Idea of the consequences which might have attended my inadvertence in that particular, – believe me I did [not] intend any deception. – I had written single on my Letter before Mr Pennington advised my inclosing that little scrap, and then forgot to erase2 it.

      It appears to me that Summer is postponed for the present Season, – you know the Sun and the Emblem of Louis 14th, and I should really suppose Louis the 18th had carried it away with him,3 were it not for a few occasional and transient gleams bestowed upon us. – 

     The want of its cheering influence is most sensibly felt in my shattered and enervated frame – and if the Sea breezes do not make up for their deficiency, I fear I shall suffer still more severely.

       The departure of the Sovereigns will I suppose sober the London World again. – The delirium however must have been most delightful! They will now be at full leisure to quarrel with the Prince for his ungallant Conduct towards the Princess at this crisis.4

      I wish indeed he did not hate his Wife so cordially that he wou'd suffer her to take her place in the Drawing Room, & see her there with the same polite Indifference many other Husbands do; – but I think John Bull has no right to interfere in Family quarrels and that the Prince, whose firmness & Wisdom has contributed so largely to the Blessings they are about to enjoy, and whose magnificent Spirit has done so much honor to the country he governs, & adorns, is entitled to a large share of their Respect, Gratitude, & forebearance. –

       Did I ever express my concern for the sudden death of Mr Charles Danvers?5 – a very worthy & respectable Man. I was but slightly acquainted with him, but having been the medium through which I commenced Acquaintance with you dear Madam, I felt an interest in him, no other circumstance probably wou’d have given me. – you will not, I think, praise the Writing of this Epistle. I am unusually tremulous & nervous to Day, but at all times – Sincerely & affectionately yours

                        P. Pennington


Mr P. desires his best Regards


Address: Mrs M. Hays | Paragon | Blackheath | Kent6

Postmark: not readable.

1 Misc. Ms. 2185, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 521-22.

2 eraze] MS

3 References to Louis XIV (1638-1715), the “Sun King,” and Louis XVIII (1755-1824) of France.

4 The disparaging treatment of Princess Caroline of Brunswick by the Prince of Wales, and his ongoing infidelity, were public knowledge at this time.

5 Charles Danvers (c. 1764-1815) was a friend of Robert Southey since childhood and a large body of their correspondence has survived. The Southey’s lived for a time in the late 1790s adjacent to Danvers and his mother (he never married) in Kingsdown, Bristol. Danvers knew Coleridge, Humphry Davy, and many other Romantic writers as well.  He died in London in 1815 and was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Gravel Pit Unitarian chapel in Hackney, led at that time by Robert Aspland.

6 Hays had returned from Northamptonshire and was now living with her brother John and his family at his beautiful home, No. 6 Paragon, Blackheath, which still remains today.