1792 May 22 (Maria)

Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, to Anne Andrews, Isleworth, [Tuesday], 22 May 1792.

May 22d 92

I have finish’d the inclosed Task; and begin now to enjoy the sweet leisure of sentiment; and to address my Friend. – On Thursday I received your very grateful Letter, a nervous weariness, adding to an inward disaffection for the business it enjoin’d, and an intervening Sabbath, has delay’d mine till now.

Full welcome O my Sister was the language of your friendship to my Soul; it was a Banquet which the painful vicissitude of Absence, had prepared me most deeply to enjoy. – Thus pain and pleasure united in the human breast assist each other; like the barren, & the fertile, mingled in perspective, and tho’ opposite as deformity and grace comprise within their opponent natures, one of the strictest unions of Mortality; and compose indeed the changing “tissue of our Doom.”

“Both interwoven with so nice an art,

“No pow’r can tear, the twisted threads apart.”

But all this you knew before, I believe I was led into it by reflecting on your Letter which brought the social spirit of Love into my Solitude with a little of Wisdom’s counsel, who put on for him the sacred Vest of Duty; he made a League with his old Adversary Absence, (who I am sure cannot therein break his faith,) and very cordially shook him by the hand; gilding with a smile the necessary banishment, consoling almost as the embraces of his Guardian, and I hope he will return to her, in the same exquisite good humor; now don’t you perceive that I have answer’d a large portion of your enquiry into the state of my inclinations; those respecting my stay at Sarum, if it be necessary I will tell you in plainer language, that since my duty has conducted me to this Abode of tender and venerable Age, I would remain here at least for some time if it meets my Fathers willing approbations; to his and your solicitude in my welfare I am surely much indebted, my health is now nearly in its usual state; but as my appetite which at first forsook me is returning, I may hope in time for the blessedness of peaceful slumbers; which have not yet reach’d me; you see I am very circumstantial, and be assured I shall continue so if requisite. I am impatient to tell you of my Grandmother’s much amended health; she has walk’d out twice, without relapsing; her complexion is much clearer and other symptoms favorable, notwithstanding all which the great debility of Age with its natural infirmity’s particularly want of sight render her an Object worthy our peculiar Care, our tenderest attention. I walk almost daily with my Grandfather his disease alas! is mentally an obdurate melancholy at which I can only sigh not wonder he seems to take pleasure in my company; and if I should a moment repine to sacrifice some hours, as I have reason to believe, of welcome youth, in the service, and society, of reverend age, whisper some good Angel, do you tell me so my Sister “The selfish heart deserves the pain it feels” –

I fear I shall not answer half your Letter; it deserves a better return; but indeed I am not ungrateful –

I had a thousand things to say which I must defer, I am charged with the tenderest commissions from our Friends to my Father & yourself you will be pleased to say much for me nay to command, the heart of your truest

Friend & Sister

Maria Grace Andrews

PS remember me with due Compts to the Ladies & all our Friends –

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, I.B.1.(2.), Angus Library. 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. 26-27. "The Ladies" is a reference to the young female scholars at the school in Isleworth operated now by Anne in the wake of her mother's death the previous year.