6 October [1820]

M. A. Hookham, Marlborough Square, to Mary Hays, Upper Cumming Street, Pentonville, 6 October [1820].1


Marlborough Square Oct 6


       I fear, my dear Madam, you will attribute to neglect and want of friendship a silence on the part of my Mother and myself which has been occasioned by unavoidable circumstances.

      Letter-writing (I think you will agree with me) is often only idle pastime, yet as the expression, or means of communicating sentiments of kindness and esteem it is a truly pleasing occupation: – this, I have ever sought to render it – and, for that purpose I take up my pen, only at those moments when I feel the warmest desire to converse with the friend whom I am about to address nor can I quit any particular occupation, or immediate duty, to constrain my thoughts in consideration of the “Early answers” which ought to be given – Were I to do so my letter would be cold, formal, and unnatural. On the contrary the sentiments should first flow from the heart, being furnished to the few by judgment, pruned of the idle shoots imagination lends – But let me not lead you to suppose this is the only excuse for our neglect of your kind letter dated Augst last – It arrived here at the time my Mother was absent with all the family at Southend – there she remained a month, and on her return she was much occupied with domestic arrangements – I paid a short visit in the country with Mr Hookham and on coming home I found it was finally determined that my father & mother would set out in four days time for the north leaving all their little family in our care[.] Were you better acquainted with my Mother you would not be surprised that she could not write even a line in answer to your last favor – It is her habit to defer all her arrangements until the period that they become absolutely requisite – thus she had much on her hands at this moment and indeed we were all occupied in assisting her – Among her numerous charges before we parted she requested I would write to you and make every apology in my power for her neglect – with her thanks for your kind attentions to my Brother2 – The letter with which you favored him he tells us, he regrets much that he had not an opportunity of making use of – By this time, I suppose, he will be near Edinburgh3 – the friend he travelled with left him at Wrexham and my Mother’s last letter say’s she will accompany him as far as Carlisle – I do not know when my Mother will return, but most likely the weather will influence her stay in the country –

      During her absence I have taken up my residence at No 8 and am fully occupied from morning till night in the numerous affairs of the family – Indeed I should perhaps have written sooner but towards evening (my leisure time) I generally feel myself so much fatigued that writing or study are quite out of the question. –

       It was with much regret that we heard of the failure of your plan for your future establishment – indeed it would give me much pleasure could I furnish you with any of the information respecting boarding houses for which you enquire – Southend I am sure would be too dull in winter and Finchley I suppose too much in the vicinity of London – You would not, I imagine, like to remain in the same neighbourhood you are in at present – I should think some town like Oxford, or Bath would be most desirable for your residence – but at present I cannot say I know of any thing exactly calculated to answer your wishes --

      We all write in sincere remembrance and Believe me My dear Madam

                         Your’s truly – M A Hookham –

The little “spoild child” goes on very well under my care – and really I think I never saw any child more tractable – he say’s his “please Sister” and “thank you” better than any of them, and is always so good and engaging in his manners every one must love him –


Address: Mrs Hays  | Mrs Coles4 | Upper Cummings ^Street^ |


Postmark:  7 o’clock [rest is unreadable, but in a contemporary hand is written below the postmark, ‘1820’]

1 Misc. 2205, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 541-42.

2 George Starling, who appears in an earlier letter (see Starling to Hays,1 December 1819). 

3 Edingburgh] MS

4 Hays moved to 1 Upper Cumming Street c. 30 August 1819, once again uniting herself with her first landlord in Kirby Street in 1795, Miss Ann Cole. The above letter mentions her desire to move into a boarding house, which she will do by March 1821, but not in the provinces (Southend, Oxford, or Bath) but rather in her former neighborhood of Islington, living in a large house at 41 Cross Street, situated between her sister Elizabeth Lanfear in Church Street and Sarah Hills in Felix Terrace in and her niece, Emma Hills, in Canonbury Square. She remains there through June 1823, at which time Hays moves into a room at Vanbrugh Castle, Greenwich.