1792 June 28 (Maria)

Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, to Anne Andrews, Isleworth, [Thursday], 28 June [1792].

June 28th

Your letter of the 25th, bearing a very wrong date, something alarm’d me. Was there not my dear Anna, a secret discomposure in your breast, which the caution of your Friendship could not hide from the solicitude of mine did no conscious agitation trouble the stream of tenderness flowing from your heart. Ah remember the lessons of confidence and trust you teach me; and perform the involuntary penance of a blush. I confess my suspicion a little affects the Law; but whatever be the cause, the effect is certainly produced. You must direct my enquiring spirit to the source on that ground I pardon the offence since if your kindness has dissembled your candor has betray’d you, concerning your own or my Fathers health I have no room to doubt from your Letter; and as we are never a bow-shot from adversity my fortitude might have been trusted for the rest. – but perhaps all this proceeds from the infected eye of an Invalid. Indeed a sore Throat united with the gloom of the weather made me a very proper subject for the dismal Spirits of Imagination to work upon, when I received the Pacquet; I am now much better; but still alive to those impressions it first excited. –

Respecting your total silence on my last Letter, with the commission it contain’d, I have various conjectures. It has a little displeased my Grandfather to whom you must answer it in a few days. Pray prepare a large reply to all my Charges. I should have delay’d this for him if I had not wish’d to lay before you & my Father a scheme of my Grandmothers proposing, it is briefly this, the reunion of our Family. I see no other mode of preventing, a continual absence from home, during their lives; as the latter grows every day more incapable of domestic Toil and both nay all might suffer from the mercenary protection of a stranger. Besides the care of their age descends to us by the most sacred inheritance. These are arguments of sufficient force & I have reason to believe they tend to nothing unpleasing to my Father – if they do not you will both employ them in this case when you see Mr Harding. I would have you urge it with circumspection; as he is now unacquainted with the design; perhaps a small house near us, rented separately would be best. His principal objections I think would be the Market this is only by way of preparation you must act consistently with your opinion –

I am obliged by the contents of the parcel but am incapacitated for the purchases you speak of it is nearly two months since I came & ye necessary expences of Shoes Gloves Ribband &c already incur’d, with the weekly demands of my Laundress, may easily convince you on reflection, it would not be pleasant to borrow without a stricter necessity; therefore humbly submitting to my Almonery good pleasure I shall wait my Grandfathers return from Isleworth. Tell your fair Companion, yt she owes her pardon to that absence; which makes us gentle I thankfully return the message of love tho’ I do not countenance her cruelty in attempting to leave you; bid the Ladies of your household accept my grateful thanks. I would answer their question in person were I able; how does my Father like his royal hero’s coup d’essai. I mean the Prince of W– bring all the company you can to my retirement for I am at present so lost a thing “I find it solitude to be alone”

Answer for me in C– St. requite me to my acquaintance. Speak for me with all tenderness, all duty, to my Father & yourself; & consecrate by pray’r that friendship, to which with a trembling hand, but unshaken heart, I subscribe the Name, of

Maria Grace Andrews

Your birthday was not unobserved; but you will expect nothing tuneful fm a sore throat You say nothing of my gentle hero Adieu! our Friends greet you with much love –

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, I.B.4.a.(8.), Angus Library. Address: Miss Andrews | Mr Andrews’s | Isleworth | Midd.x Postmark: Salisbury; 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. 31-32. 23 June 1794 was Anne’s twentieth birthday. MGA’s ‘gentle hero’ is a reference to her recently published novel, The Noble Enthusiast; her anxiety was warranted, because the novel would not be well received by the reviewers or the general public.