1792 June 29 (Anne)

Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, [Friday], 29 June [1792].

Isleworth June 29th

My dear Maria

I fear that this enforced silence hath injured both myself and you – myself, in that it hath slander’d my zealous heart which is ever engaged in, and devoted to your service, and you since I cannot but suspect, that it hath induced a painful doubt of the sincerity and warmth of that affection, to which so large a portion of our earthly felicity is annexed – It hath done yet more, for sympathy hath reached many a sigh in the bosom of thy Anna, which she whisper’d me it had caused in the kindred Mansion – but shall I not hope that this gracious Sympathy, hath by her prudent care repress’d these evils, could she not admonish thee to beware of cruel suspicion, and assured thee of my faithful tenderness, or could not her favorite handmaid Remembrance, have forbidden thy anxiety, by realizing a scene too familiar to thy pitying eye I mean the unpleasing Picture of domestic confusion, employments in which variety will not afford pleasure, and business deprived of its solace, because the end is not in view.

But I have besides this been waiting for many things which I wish’d to send you, or inform you of as will appear by the contents of the parcel – I cannot pretend to acquaint you with the numerous occurrences which fill up my time, tho’ indeed you must value it as a truce of self-denial, since I long to supply the defect of your absence, by communicating every trifle which interests me for the moment – first however, as intelligence which will I know afford you pleasure, I have a companion and an indulgent one too, as you will suppose when I tell you that she kindly accepts my material presence, while the better part is engaged in penetrating the retirement of my beloved in conversing with my gentle friend, and while averting my eyes from every present object, as endued with magnetic vision, defying all intervening obstacles, and even space itself, I recall the dear image of my absent joy – need I tell you that this kind friend is no other than our dear Miss Ovenden she came on Monday – but she is as I said before of yourself no changeling – for she is no sooner come, than she talks of returning, and I fear indeed her stay will not be long, on account of the young ladies arrival from Robertsbridge –

I have received a Letter from Mrs Scott dated Margate, this will I know afford you real satisfaction. She went down with Mrs Barber in her chariot, which render’d her Journey easy – the Bathing agreed with her extremely; she is, or will be soon at home – You will perhaps be surprised when I say her letter gave me pain, it contain’d a reproach, and doubts however expected, I was not proof against; it will be unnecessary to explain to you Alas! that our situations in this life, should often render us liable to imputations, which tho’ undeserved, we are not able to clear ourselves from, we have nothing to do in this case, but to reflect how greatly reprehensible our conduct is in other instances which escape all but that great Omnipresent Being, who directs every shaft, and knows full well how justly we merit that aggravation of punishment, which we feel in receiving it from one, against whom we have not at least intentionally offended; let us not then vainly look to the mortal agent, but to that unerring Hand whose Justice demands our submission, whose Mercy our gratitude –

Our dear friend speaks of you in very kind and affectionate terms, but includes you partly in the reproach of negligence, by observing “once I hoped to have received a letter from her” – You will be pleasd to hear that Mr Scott has completed his work – Charles Graham was here about a fortnight ago, when he inform’d us that Mrs Clareson was obliged to take a Journey to Carlisle on account of the illness of Miss Nancy Graham and therefore she could not fulfil her obligation of having us to spend some time with her at present – The Ladies desire obliging remembrances, Mrs Larkin adds tell her that we want to know when she will return home, at least whether she ever intends it –

I must not forget to tell you that Mrs Cameron has bid Adieu to Isleworth – I have not seen her since her return from Bath – Miss Ovenden desires love, Mrs Peacock begs particular admission, into these friendly memorials; pray suppose for the rest of your acquaintance.

My Father must love you, but he is not at home to send it; I leave it to you to conceive the measure; he joins me in dutiful and affectionate regards to our venerable friends – farewell best beloved may good Angels guard you, and that ye path of piety & virtue may for you be strew’d with flowers, & your companions in it health & peace is ye sincere & ardent prayer of your devoted sister

[no signature]

Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.1.(n.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. No address page, no postmark; 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. 32-34. Reference here to Thomas Scott’s popular The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, with Original Notes (better known as Scott’s Commentary on the Bible), which was published in installments between 1788 and 1792.