8 September 1779
Letter 39. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Wednesday, 8 September 1779.
I could not help laughing a little at your disappointment on sunday – yet I own it was not acting with politeness, am sorry for it and all that, and now I think I have made apologies sufficient. – I have a great mind not to go with you to morrow because – but you know the reason why – indeed if you do not learn to behave with more propriety I1 shall be seriously angry2 – I really shall – you need not put on that smile of incredulity. – I cannot imagine where you want to take me – consider, four miles is a great way; and quite out of my road too – what time shall we get back, in no time for dinner I am sure – I really cannot think of going, it will tire me to death – besides what will the Lepard’s3 say; the invitation was to come in the morning early, and you know they love to make discoveries, and know all how and about it – positively your scheme will not do, nor will the weather be favorable I dare say, for I am very unlucky. –
I will not believe that writing to me gives you any pleasure, while you send me so much waste paper as you did in your last, it was quite shabby – the next time you serve me so, I shall send it back again to you to be filled up. – I’ll tell you a scheme of Miss Roberts’s, (’tis just now come into my head) – ’tis a political one, and I [f. 151] think would be of service to the nation in this critical time, well now for it – “That no lady should encourage the addresses of her lover, till he has presented her with the head of a Frenchman” – what do you think of it; should we not frequently have all the youths armed cap a pee prancing away on their Rosinantes over the plains – it would really be delightful. – I should expect to see you one of the foremost – Vanity! – don’t you think I have quantum sufficit – I shall be a latin scholar in time, I veryly believe – will you undertake to teach me; I am sure I should improve with such a master – are not you very much obliged to me for the compliment – you are I know, so I need not ask. – What a rambling girl I am this morning, I have quite rattled myself out of breath – If I don’t see you in the evening, I shall condemn this epistle to the flames – ’tis a pity to be sure to consume my wit, ’tis so seldom I have any to spare – but mind – I won’t allow you to say so, though I take that liberty myself. – What a fine morning it has turned out after the rain – who could have thought it – if it is but as fine to morrow – what then – why I will not go with you, unless you see me to night, and have eloquence enough to persuade me to alter my mind. – But I am called to breakfast – duce take it, mind how I spell it, that is not wicked you know; but I must go so adieu! –
I stood a few minutes after you left me this morning [f. 152] considering whether I should take up my pen or a book, at last the idea, that I could write to you but twice a week in Mrs Collier’s absence, determined me to sit down to scribble,4 beside, I felt a sort of lightness, or sauciness if you please, which I wanted to run off, but now the humor is over – the trifling fit is gone, and I am seriously with unfeigned
Sincerity all your own
Wednesday Sepr 8th 1779.
I have let such a space as you did, which I would advise you to fill up with a flourish – if I had known how I would have done it for you. –
2 II] MS
2 angery] MS
3 William Lepard III and his brother, John Pelly Lepard (1758-96), worked with their father, William Lepard, Jr. (1730-1805) (mentioned above) in the family business in Newgate Street as stationers, rag merchants, paper makers, and printers. In 1789 John Pelly Lepard moved to 91 Newgate Street, and his father joined him there the next year. That same year William Lepard and James Smith, most likely a member of the Baptist congregation in Little Wild Street, opened a printing and bookselling business at 14 Bridges Street, Covent Garden, with Smith remaining with Lepard at that location until 1798. The Lepards attended the Particular Baptist meeting at Carter Lane, Southwark, not far from the Hays's residence in Gainsford Street. William Lepard, Sr. (1700-99), joined the Baptist meeting in Carter Lane, under John Gill, in 1717; he died in 1799 at the age of 99; William, Jr., joined at Carter Lane in 1755. Among the younger Lepard’s earliest printing jobs (1758-1766) were various works by Gill and, in the 1770s and early 1780s, works by Robert Robinson. During that time, William Lepard III's sister, Ann Lepard, was a close friend of Mary Hays, as revealed in this correspondence.
4 scrible] MS