21 February 1820

A. Smyth, 3 Montpellier, Bath, to Mary Hays, 1 Upper Cumming St., Pentonville, 21 February 1820.1


Feby  21st 1820  No 3 Montpellier Bath


My Dear Friend

       I have remained at Bath ever since I wrote, and have spent my time much to my own satisfaction but very different from the manner in which it is usually spent in this place my friends in Ireland who had earnestly pressed my return when they perceived my wish to remain here acquiesced with a kindness the result of good sense and real affection, but Mrs Pennington was not so easily reconciled to my determination, on her return to her own house she wrote  me an earnest and (I must say) a most affectionate invitation to resume my former situation in it; but this I declined for reasons which will ^readily^ suggest themselves to your mind but which I could not so easily explain to her my excuses were therefore (as must ever be the case where we do not express ourselves with unreserved confidence [although I adhered as closely as possible to the truth by dwelling on ^my^ love of retirement and perfect freedom] lame and unsatisfactory) at least to her nor do I think she has forgiven my refusal  I have seen her only once since and then not alone she looked I thought very well but complained of declining health a complaint Miss Wren tells me by no means unfounded Mr Pn was in the  gout but otherwise quite as well as when you left Dowry St Miss Wren was kind and reasonable the reconciliation that has taken place with Mrs Piozzi2 seems a great source of3 pleasure to the whole family she pays them frequent visits and they all agree that her powers of entertainment are as brilliant as ever, I suppose you read an account of the Gala with which she celebrated the completion of her eightieth year every one was eager to go and almost every one abused her for celebrating such an event in such a manner the general distress which prevailed and which far exceeded any thing I ever witnessed in England seemed to point out a very different method but it was hardly fair to blame her for circumstances which could not have been foreseen when she planned her fête and did not occur till it was too late to give it up I have been very anxious and uneasy and I know how much you would have sympathized with me about Mr Gratton he has had a severe cold during most of the winter which the Newspapers chose to convert into a mortal malady, I am not disposed to make myself miserable on slight grounds and I well know how little reliance is due in these cases to public reports I had also letters stating the real nature of his indisposition yet I suffered most severely until his recovery was announced as anxious affection might have led his friends to deceive themselves and me but he is recovered and resolved which I scarcely expected not to relinquish his public duties Mrs Gratton has been also very ill and one of her daughters the former has long been an invalid the latter is now recovered I myself have been confined with a fever cold followed by great languor and debility but am now well: I hope you will give me a particular and I trust it will be a favorable account of your health and present situation. I was surprized to hear that your sister had commenced authoress4 I am sure whatever she wrote would be marked with good sense & good feeling. I have not been able to procure her book but the libraries here I do not think so good or at least so well regulated as Barrys at Bristol5 farewell my dear Mrs Hays and believe me with true regard your Affectte

                                     A Smyth


Address: Miss M Hays | No 1. Upper Cumming St | Pentonville

Postmark: 22 February 1820

1 Misc. Ms. 2198, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 538-39.

2 Hester Lynch Thrale Piozzi (1741-1821) was still a commanding figure among London’s literati as she entered her 80th year on 27 January 1820.

3 of of] MS

4 Reference is to Elizabeth Hays Lanfear’s recent publication of her novel, Fatal Errors

5 The firm of Bartholmew Barry [later Barry and Son], bookseller, was loated at 21 High Street, Bristol. Barry's Circulating Library was opened around 1814 (the year its first Catalogue was printed), and continued into the 1830s. The New Catalogue of Barry and Son's Circulating Library was printed in 1830, and among the 3666 titles listed in the Catalogue is Mary Hays's six-volume Female Biography (item no. 1616); the library, however, but did not hold a copy at that time of Elizabeth Hays Lanfear's Fatal Errors.