2 December 1792
George Dyer,1 Cardinal’s Cap Inn, Cambridge, to Mary Hays, [Gainsford Street], 2 December 1792.2
I do myself the pleasure of enclosing a few lines, as Mr Frend is about sendg a parcel, though I have nothing very particular to say. – He informs me he has taken the liberty of making a few marks in yr papers, which I am persuaded you will take in good part. He has been much pleased,
I am he informs me, with your writings, and I am persuaded not without reason.3 I shall be in town in about a week. If I can be of any service in overlooking the proof sheets, you may command me, except. Probably, I may stay too long for you, and Mr Worthington, or any other friend would run their eye over the proof sheets then after you have corrected it. When I drop this hint do not suppose I doubt yr own judgement. I know, by experience, the disadvantage of not havg a friendly eye, which will sometimes discover a little inaccuracy in printing, wh escapes my own. Mrs Robinsons family is <[well?] > Mr Curtis desires compts I beg my respects & best wishes to all at Gainsborough [sic] St. and to Miss Woolstonecraft, if you think proper, and Mr and Mrs Brown.4 With best wishes, I remain
My dear friend,
Yrs with esteem and respect
Cardinal’s Cap Inn
P.S. If you think proper to favor me with a line intimating to me what state of forwardness yr work is in, and whether I can be of any service to you, I shall be happy to find a note for me in Bride Lane, or the Chapter Coffee house St Pauls church yard, when I come to London. I leave Cambridge in a few days, but shall stop in the road, at friends.
Nov Dec. 2. 1792.
Address: Miss Hays.
1 George Dyer (1755-1841) was educated at Christ’s Hospital, London, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he graduated with a B.A. in 1778. After spending several years (1779-85) as a Baptist tutor (both for Robert Robinson at Cambridge and at J. C. Ryland’s academy at Northampton) and as a Particular Baptist minister in Oxford (1781-82), Dyer became a Unitarian. A final attempt at the ministry, this time as an assistant to John Prior Estlin in the Unitarian chapel at Lewin’s Mead, Bristol, failed to materialize in 1791, after which Dyer removed to London, employing himself in various kinds of literary labors the rest of his life. A gentle but eccentric scholar who composed a considerable amount of poetry (much to the chagrin of his friends Charles Lamb, S. T. Coleridge, and Robert Southey), Dyer nevertheless produced some noteworthy writings, especially his early political works-Inquiry into the Nature of Subscription to the Thirty-Nine Articles (1789); The Complaints of the Poor People of England (1793); Dissertation on Theory and Practice of Benevolence (1795); Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Robert Robinson (1796); and of special interest to Flower during his imprisonment, An Address to the People of Great Britain on the Doctrine of Libel (1799). Dyer came to know Mary and Elizabeth Hays in 1792 through their friendship with Robert Robinson’s daughters, Mary and Ann. He also introduced Hays to William Frend that year, and may have been instrumental in bringing the two sisters into a circle of Unitarian ministers that included John Disney, Theophilus Lindsey, Hugh Worthington, and John Evans, all of whom corresponded with Mary Hays between 1792 and 1794. These letters, the majority of which are by Dyer (his letters continue into 1797), can now be found in the A. F. Wedd collection at Dr Williams’s Library and in the Hays material in the Pforzheimer Collection, New York Public Library, all the letters having originally been part of one collection. Dyer also mentions Elizabeth Hays in his undated (c. 1806) letter to the Messrs Vernor and Hood about some writings she had sent out for possible publication in the Lady’s Monthly Museum or other periodicals.
2 Misc. MS. 2164, Pforzheimer Collection, NYPL; Brooks, Correspondence 276-77.
3 Frend joins the list here of reviewers of the MS. of Hays's Letters and Essays.
4 Dyer had been close to the Robinson family since the late 1770s, when he lived for a time in the Robinson home at Chesterton and tutored the Robinson children, being tutored himself in theology by Robinson as part of his preparation for the Baptist ministry, which he would commence in 1781-82 at Oxford. Other references here are to Robinson's son-in-law, William Curtis (at that time manager o the Cardinal's Cap Inn in Cambridge where Dyer was staying when he wrote the above letter), and Robinson's daughter and husband, Mary and Samuel Brown. Wollstonecraft has moved into that circle by this time, as Dyer's closing line reveals.