13 November 1779
Letter 95. Mary Hays to John Eccles, Saturday, 13 November 1779.1
The first part of your letter distressed me beyond expression; – you shall not my dearest Eccles be unhappy if your Maria can prevent it; – what is there she would not do to contribute to your felicity? – most willingly would she sacrifice her own! – Your complainings pierce me to the soul; – too fondly, too tenderly do I esteem you not to participate in all your pains. – Doubt not my affection [f. 357] even for a moment; – when this heart ceases to beat alone for my Eccles, may it be for ever still; – ’tis only for him that it feels every emotion of love, and soft affection. – When I am capable of infidelity; or even indifference, may I be treated with that contempt, which I shall so deservedly merit. – But ’tis impossible! – your little girl is too sensible of your worth, and of the value of that tenderness you profess for her; – she would not exchange her interest in your heart for myriads of worlds! – Was I to lose you would be a void – a tasteless existance;2 –
“Depriv’d of love, and all its joys,
In vain we boast content;
All other pleasures are but toys,
Nor for the heart were meant.”3
The rigid, and the unfeeling may tax me with want of delicacy in thus freely declaring the artless, undisguised sentiments of my soul; – but why should I blush at owning an attachment, which is founded on the knowledge of your many virtues? – There is not a thought of my heart,
“Which virgins might not tell, and angels hear.”4
Is it a libertine, an immoral, a profane or dissipated man, for whom [f. 358] I acknowledge this tenderness? – oh no! – On the contrary it is for the best, the most amiable of his sex; – the man of feeling; – the man of real sentiment. – How happy am I in such a lover; – I envy not the great; I wish not for riches, unless to bestow them on my Eccles. – Can wealth give happiness? – are there any pleasures, (worthy the name,) but those of the heart? – All else is delusion, the gay dream of an hour; unlike the solid, sincere satisfaction which flows from “content, retirement, rural quiet, progressive virtue, and approving heaven.”54 – Had the Muses been favorable to me, I should certainly have sent you some little compliment yesterday; – but it was in vain I courted their assistance; – in plain prose then accept my sincerest wishes for many happy returns of the day; – may the choicest blessings of heaven be profusely showered upon your head; – may all your wishes be fulfilled, and the remainder of your life be one unvaried scene of felicity. –
I felt the disappointment on Thursday, with all its bitterness; – you know not how much your Maria suffered from the disagreeable necessity; – think then how much the additional weight of your displeasure must affect her; – I hope we shall yet go; and I cannot help promising myself much pleasure from the excursion. – Never be angry with your little girl again without hearing her; your displeasure makes her miserable; indeed she cannot bear it. – I have no pens but of my own making, which you may suppose [f. 359] are excellent, therefore you must pardon this scrawl. – Adieu! With the sincerest affection I am intirely yours,
Maria Hays. –
Saturday Novr 13th 1779.
1 Brooks, Correspondence 192-93; Wedd, Love Letters 168-69.
2 Similar to a passage in Brooke, Emily Montague, 2.136.
3 Lyrics to the popular song, "Love, our Greatest Blessing," which appeared in the Monthly Melody: or Polite Amusement for Gentlemen and Ladies ... Composed by Dr. Arne (London: G. Kearsly, 1760), 32-33. Kearsley was one of London's Dissenting booksellers/printers.
4 Line adapted from Prior’s Henry and Emma (p. 8); line is also used in Letter 45.
5 Lines from Thomson’s The Seasons, “Spring.”