29 August 1779
Letter 29. John Eccles to Mary Hays, Sunday, 29 August 1779.1
As I don’t think the letter I gave you this afternoon [f. 117] a good one to go to sleep on, I could not easily forgive myself, if I did not follow it with one of a different complexion; yet I hardly know what to write – Your letter really astonishes me – after committing2 a fault yourself, by an uncommon species of rhetoric, you persuade me I am the criminal – Did I not promise you a letter on saturday, and did not you put it off till sunday? – Yet now you accuse me of neglecting to write to you – But hold, I’ll say no more; you have such a power of persuasion, that I am certain you can convince me I am wrong. – So crafty too; you are afraid it will be a task to me to write three times a week – because Mrs Collier is going into the country, and you will not then be able to write more than twice. – How ready at an expedient! – only ’tis to ease me; – ’tis not at all for your inconvenience. – I’ll torment you with three volumes every week during Mrs Collier’s absence, and extort as many from you, or else inflict some signal punishment on you, equal to the crime of slighted love; such as hanging or drowning myself on purpose to haunt you afterwards. – You save me an amazing deal of trouble; you have a happy knack of commending yourself; – ’tis impossible I can equal you on that theme – when I ask your character, it shall be from yourself – then I am sure it will please me – You are quite unlike the ladies of the town; so far from being a slanderer of your own sex, you are one of their best advocates – I love you the better for it; it discovers a generous spirit – I never was fond of any but deserved scandal – After [f. 118] accusing and condemning me for neglecting to write to you, you proceed to pass sentence – you threaten to turn over a new leaf – do if you dare – I shall then turn to a new book. – This last letter is written better than any I ever saw of your’s – yet you complain of your pens – what an inconsistent girl! – However you shall have some more on tuesday evening – but not unless you give me a good long letter for them – I have a great inclination to follow your example in apologizing, that is to make none at all, (it really is fatiguing business) – Yet I think I ought to tell you that certainly some evil spirit sat by my side and dictated a great part of the last letter I wrote – ’twas in a confounded desperate style and “that’s not my way.” – But seriously I beg your pardon for whatever is exceptionable – I wish to write nothing unpleasing; I would not give you a moments uneasiness. – I never doubted you – sure I am of your sincerity and perseverance – sure I am that your heart is of more value than the universe – I cannot pretend to repay it with its own worth; “but such as I had, have I given unto thee.”3 – Be as tender to what was mine, as I am to what was yours, I desire no more – You cannot say I have much vanity – Adieu, my dearest Girl,
I am intirely yours
J. Eccles. –
Sunday August 29. 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 83-84; Wedd, Love Letters 62-63.
2 commiting] MS
3 Acts 3:6.