1792 July 21 (Anne)

Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, [Saturday], 21 July 1792.

Thanks to my dear Girl for her very welcome Letter, tho’ she will pardon me if I say more welcome Messenger. Surely I need not define the emotions which heaved the bosom of your Anna, when that Messenger was announced; nor that hidden pang, which empoison’d the first embrace: but I revived at the auspicious glow of health upon his aged Cheek, while the tranquility that beam’d thro’ the smile of parental affection, imparted a kindred serenity to my ruffled spirit. You know my love I have often pointed out to you the difference of our feelings, or rather our sensations, yours alas! too exquisite, press forward as it were by an irresistible attraction to meet pain half way, and cling self devoted to each sad remembrance: mine are confessedly cowards, who shrink even from the semblance of danger, who recoil instinctively from the envenom’d Shaft of Sorrow, or unable to save themselves flight immediately bathe them in Lethean Streams – I could say more on this but have no time either for systems, or sentiment –

So much at least in contemplation during the stay of our parental Friend at Isleworth – now I know you are surprised at my saying this, indeed my dear you bestow’d your blame very improperly on the Herald, who never having been dispatch’d could not become a deserter; you will easily discover a clue to this mystery, but I have still to entreat your pardon for occasioning these mistakes by not writing – I assure you it was not for want of an effort, I exerted myself to the utmost of my ability for your sake, but finding it fruitless solaced myself at length in the consideration that it might be the more readily be dispensed with as my Grandfather would convey intelligence of our welfare since that time I have been delay’d by various important engagements the will indeed has ever been inclined but the power has not seconded but let me not sacrifice this opportunity to Apologies which must be unnecessary to the sympathising heart of my Maria I cannot however proceed to a detail of occurences tho’ some indeed are interesting ’till neglecting order I have first express’d my grief for the illness of our dear Parent and that counteracting joy which attended the news her recovery. Let me commend to your care a congratulatory embrace –

For these few last Weeks, we have been involved in law but there is now a cessation, a heavy cloud seem’d impending but it is blown over – the opposing party by a kind of strategem obtain’d an order from the commissioner’s in Chancery to have money paid into Court, to the amount of nearly One Thousand Pounds, a Hearing took place last Tuesday on that subject, when the Order was discharged, and my Father of course victorious A Chaise which conducted Mr Tew to Town on this occasion and my Father admitted me into one Corner, and so set me down at Grosvenor Place about nine in the Morn:g from whence I soon found my way to Chapel St. Our dear Friends were in tolerable health, Mrs Scott is almost entirely recover’d from her weakness, but was not that day otherwise rather indisposed – need I tell you that they received me with tenderness, the silent reproach express’d in the countenance of the one, and the short but pointed expression of the other, mingled an embarrassment with the pleasure of our meeting –

About two or three hours after my arrival, Mr Scott being more at leisure since the completion of his Bible, they set themselves with one consent to analyse our conduct, and believe me it could not very well bear the test, my excuses were however in part admitted – but for you my dear Grace, tho’ all my little stock of eloquence was exhausted in your service, I could not avert their unfavorable decision they would judge of the heart by the actions, indeed I found myself greatly at a loss in your defence, I could not set forth any present obstacle to your writing Mr Scott observ’d that were a Letter from them a welcome thing as they were once induced to suppose it was, you would certainly find means to procure yourself that gratification – this was unanswerable – Mrs Scott enlarged on the hopes she had entertain’d of our friendship, and the sorrow, the chagrin she experienced on the disappointment of those hopes – I was greatly pain’d – I am myself both surprized and concern’d at your neglect – will you not yet atone for it – I believe if you do not write soon which I hope you will you may expect to hear from Mrs S– an explanation of her sentiments more explicit than I have given you – They intend visiting Isleworth in the course of the summer –

Now all this time perhaps you are fancying me in the little Chamber at Chapel Street, but I am sitting in my old place at the dressing Drawers – I return’d on the even:g of the same Day – I can tell you another excursion of mine which will equally if not more surprize you, it was to the Richmond Theatre, – where a tolerably well acted Comedy excited a transient Mirth I would say more on what it did and what it did not produce, but that you know, I think I may say concur, in my opinion on this subject – I have been once to Mr Pope’s Garden, I directed my hasty steps to the farthest extremity of this delightful spot, to behold its most endearing grace, its chiefest ornament, in the simple monument of filial love, I unreluctantly lost sight of the elegant Poet to contemplate the pious Son, and found he appear’d far more interesting seen thro’ this medium. I consoled myself that in my bosom, dutious Remembrance had consecrated as fair a Pill, and faithful Affection, there recorded in far more indelible characters as bright tribute to Maternal Virtue – How preferable the soothing softness inspired by such ideas to that so boasted, Philosophic energy of Mind, which were considerable, is but depravity or Pride speciously disguised –

You assure me my Sister, that you still maintain the distinguish’d eminence of Heroic Sentiment – that the spark is not quench’d that your young Eaglet Ambition is trying his fragile wings, and straining his tender eyes, to gaze on the Sun-enlighten’d goal to which you have directed his flight – I congratulate you on the prowess of this young Adventurer let me counsel you tho not to bound his Aim; let him be high privileged in an immortal one remember – “He builds too low, who builds below the Skies” I am sorry to hear that the Mind that son of immortality is in you so “fetter’d by his gross Companion’s fall,” and thus, “dependant on the dust” We will wish health, activity, and good will to this Minister, if it be only to enable the Sovereign to execute his wise and salutary purposes –

Your sympathy my sweet Friend is an essential consolation, a balm which alleviates every grief, and unction which assuages every smart, a soft fetter with which to bind the aching brow of care – Do not my Love fear for me too much, have confidence in, and commend me to His Almighty protection, whose ways are mercy and faithfulness, and who ordereth all things according to his will – We entertain no doubt of the interest you take in every thing which respects our welfare, or of your readiness to participate and share in the evil of our destiny, as well as in the good, but we will notwithstanding thank you for your zealous expression of it –

I feel most sensibly for those nice, those delicate perceptions which inflict such tortures on the bosom of sensibility, shall I not entreat my Maria to attempt a conquest of these insidious foes – you indeed deserve, nay you command my pity but you are in the right to deny your own to wounds against which you should arm yourself try now let it be the armour of divine Philosophy and take celestial Hope to animate you to the contest and defy their puny efforts, do this and the victory is complete –

I have seen the old Castle but do not remember much of it – I like what you tell me of the Cathedral, and hope to exercise my own Judgement on it, at present it is not practicable – Miss Ovendon left me the day before my Grandfather arrived, I hear she is unwell, I know she would be very kindly remember’d to you I am now writing with a silver pen which is her gift – The Ladies return both my Grandfather’s Compts and expressions of esteem in full measure running over pray tell him I think it will never be his fate

“To grieve for friendship unreturn’d,

Or ill requited love.”

Our friendly inmates desire you to accept our compts and good wishes – Miss Bush and others of your acquaintance greet you – I hope the two Guineas sent you by my Grandfather supplied your present necessities – I should think there must be some money due from Mr Collins for Cheyt Sing would have you enquire for it – Mrs Wynne speaks in very flattering tones of your Enthusiast Mrs Larkin’s praise is less warm – Would advise you to see if some of those books cannot be sold to libraries of Booksellers in Salisbury – My Father joins me in a due tribute of duty and affection to our venerable friends. He returns your love with parental tenderness – tell my Dr Grandmama I love her very much, and should rejoice to see her I hope it will one day take place –

You cannot call this a Liliputian Letter, I only beg that as you ask’d for it, you will pay it the respect of open eyes – I had almost forgotten to tell you, that I am totally incapacitated for procuring the fair Garland you require, I am become a very rebel to that placid power – Spleen has I fear assumed an Empire in my Bosom from which she will not be easily expell’d – Now is our time to cultivate her favor, and enjoy her smiles, and as an additional motive, you may by that means effect a reconciliation between the gentle Queen and me alas! too long estranged.

Adieu my beloved may a better Angel than the sweet Sophrosyne guard your waking and your sleeping hours, and may the Father of all mercies and the God of all Consolation be the continual refuge of you, and our affectionate Friend and Sister

Anne Andrews

(Isleworth July 21st ..92)

Pray let me know when you write if your eyes are well Present Compts to all enquiring friends –

Do not let the errors you may find in your Enthusiast grieve you they are natural evils

Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.3.(a.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. No address page; for a complete annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, gen. ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 6, pp. 35-38. By the summer of 1792 Maria Grace Andrews had met the Safferys and was attending the Baptist congregation in Brown Street at Salisbury, a decision that would have met with disapproval from her parents and caused some concern to the Scotts, all of whom were Anglicans. Benjamin Charles Collins, publisher of the Salisbury Journal, was one of the sellers of MGA’s Cheyt Sing.