1792 November 5 (Anne)

Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, [Monday], 5 November 1792.

Isleworth Novr 5th 1792

My dear Sister

We received your Letter with a mingled Sensation of sorrow and solicitude – full well alas! could we perceive the sad necessity of a painful refusal – and a refusal of what! and to whom! – to me as if it was a rejection of new life – and who shall deny ought to my Maria without a pang! Were we Heathens, we might indeed repine and rail at the inexorable Fables, those illusive Deities; but my sweet friend will easily make the distinction between these, who unhappily wandering in the beaten Track of Error, saw not the Hand that administerd the salutary, tho’ bitter draft of Affliction, and those, who by the perspicuity of mental vision, can penetrate the dark incumbent Cloud which involves the mysterious dispensations of His Providence, to behold the God who pitieth the frail and suffering Children of Mortality even as a Father pitieth his own Offspring. We are of those who have been taught to say, and I trust to feel

With Joy, with Grief, that healing hand I see,

It form’d the Skies, & yet it bled for me.

Let us my dear adopt one part at least of our Poet’s Prayer –

“Or impious discontent,

At ought thy Wisdom has deny’d,

Or ought thy Goodness lent” –

Surely the wisdom of the Ancients was very aptly figured by the Owl, who shunning the glorious and enlivening blare of Solar light, seeks only those faint gleams, which pervade the dusky shadows of the Night: such were those renowned Sages, who like their emblem brooding in Philosophic Shades, seem’d (as emulative of Creative Powers) aiming to bring forth light out of darkness – let the Christian Symbol be the quick sighted, ambitious Eagle who instructs her infant progeny to soar towards & gaze upon the majestic fountain of a essential brightness; the first great agent of the Maker’s Will: so should we being thus high privileged, look to that radiant light of Truth, which is so graciously vouchsafed us from the inexhaustless source of eternal day – Pardon this digression.

My Father desires me to apologize for him that he does not himself answer your letter, but he is really very much engros’d and tomorrow is the first day of term which brings with it a fresh accumulation of engagements and perplexities; and for myself you will, I hope believe me, when I say that my presence at home at this period, is assuredly indispensable: – as for my feelings at this Season, I would by all means avoid delineation; yet I doubt not, but that almost every painful emotion that corrodes your breast, might find its aching resemblance lodged in a Sister’s – but let us not my Friend be overcome: the conflict has been hitherto successful: be yet more nobly firm, and doubly victorious; as your favorite Bard exhorts –

Yet bear up awhile,

And what your bounded view which only saw

A little part, deem’d Evil is no more,

The Storms of Wintry Time shall quickly pass,

And one unbounded Spring encircle all.

Ask yourself my love what we have past: surely the ansr will be, a Sea of Trouble, a dreadful struggle of almost despairing grief: what then, shall we, who have encounter’d the real and direful form of Calamity, fall inglorious victims to its fearful Shadow; for what is it but a shadow that we so tremble at – My Father desires his kind love, He would have you be happy, and joins with me in wishing you to cultivate that sweet Pearl, which goodness bosoms ever –

I have much more to say to you than time or paper will admit, pray do not forget that whenever you will consent to return, our arms will be joyfully open’d to receive you, nay, not only our arms but our Hearts – pray let me know what the things are, you stand in need of, I shall be happy to supply you with any thing in my power – we think of turning our attention to finding a little House at no great distance as you request – Remember us suitably to our dear friends – I hope to write to you again soon – Adieu my best beloved yt you may seek & find certain & unchangeable felicity is ye sincere & ardent prayer of you’re

A Andrews

The Ladies would be remember’d to you I have had a great deal of Eloquence bestow’d on me to perswade me of the illusive nature of my feelings and to teach me to oppose the shield of Reason and fortitude to the visionary Shafts of Sensation you have nothing to do but regret the loss you have sustain’d in not hearing it –

Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.3.(k.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Mr Harding’s | Exeter Street | Sarum. 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. 41-43. Mr Andrews may also have been involved in the operation of the school in Isleworth. after the death of his wife, or he may simply be assisting Anne and possibly some other teachers as they prepare for a new school term. Anne's father also operated the old manor mill, which, as can be seen from the address pages of some of these letters, was opposite the Andrews’s home in Isleworth.