29 December 1814

John Prior Estlin,1 [Bristol], to Mary Hays, at W. Pennington’s Esq., Hot Wells, Bristol, 29 December 1814.2

Decr 29th 1814

My Dear Madam

         I delayed answering your very kind letter to Mrs Estlin until this morning in hopes of being able to request the favour of your company on Saturday. In a case in which it becomes me to acknowledge the hand of Providence, I must not use any term which implies visitation. Mrs Estlin has been indisposed for two days, and is not able to leave her bed today. Her complaint is [Eiysipetas?] attended with fever. Dr Prichard3 and my Son think there is no ground for alarm, but they do not hold out hopes of a speedy recovery. Those complaints which indeed, at this season are necessaries; when we have the happiness of your company, you will not want. Luxuries we cannot offer, and I am convinced you do not wish for them.   

       A sympathetic mind, how rare a blessing! I hope in a short time you will agree in opinion with Mrs Estlin and myself, that children and grandchildren keep open the heart, and preserve it in a state of susceptibility, which would not other wise be contracted by losses, and hardened by disappointments in the expectation of kindness ^for kindness^. With every wish of old friendship, with both the recollection and anticipation of its pleasures, I beg leave to subscribe myself,

                  my Dear Madam

                                     Your affectionate Friend

                                                J. P. Estlin

I know not whether you wish to be called Miss or Mrs. To the word Mary I have associated ideas of higher respect and affection. I will in imitation of your example simply put M.  In future I hope you will inform me how I am to address you.

Address: M. Hays | Pennington’s Esqr | Hot Wells

Postmark:  29 December 1814, Bristol


1 For Estlin, see previous letter and entry in Biographical Index.

2 Misc 2173, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 291-92.

3 James Cowles Prichard (1786-1848) studied medicine at Bristol in 1802 and later at St. Thomas’s Hospital and Edinburgh University, where he took an M.D. in 1808. He began his medical practice in Bristol in 1810, focusing on ethnology and insanity. His research led to his first publication, Researches into the Physical History of Man (1813). He was originally a Quaker, but became an Anglican later in life. He may have been a Unitarian at some point, for in 1811 he married Estlin's daughter, Anne Maria Estlin. Other publications by Prichard include An  Analysis of the Egyptian Mythology (1819); Treatise on Diseases of the Nervous System (1822); Treatise on Insanity and Other Disorders Affecting the Mind (1835); and Natural History of Man (1843).