Anne Andrews, Salisbury, to Maria Grace Andrews, Isleworth, [Wednesday], 13 August 1794.
Sarum Wednesday Morng
My dearest Love
It will I am sure be wholly superfluous for me to attempt any description of my feelings on the receipt of your letter, I shall only say that I wept out the emotions of a weak & unthankful Heart, before I recollected the powerful claim the tidings contain’d on my gratitude: indeed I have reason to blush on reflection, that my Mind could be so absorpt in the sorrowful review of your past sufferings, as almost wholly, to lose sight of recovering mercy, till the remonstrating Voice of Friendship, the dictates of Reason & as I would hope some small degree of resignation to the Sovereign Will, connected with a consciousness of what I had been spared, recall’d me to a sense of the obligations I lay under to Him in whose Hand are the Issues of Life, and to the exercise of the little share of fortitude & patience whh I possess – I was much engaged yesterday, but had this not been the case I could not properly compose myself for writing, but my heart was with you in the most unlimited acceptation of the Word and now that I have taken the pen, I hardly know what to say to you unless I were to ask you a great many questions whh I trust will be unnecessary as I hope in your next to have all cause of solicitude removed – or, I could lay many injunctions on you, as it respects your management of yourself, whh tho I am convinced you would excuse as imputing it to my anxious tenderness, might not meet with similar indulgence from others but rather draw on me the censure of conceit &c: perhaps not unjustly I shall therefore forbear, only entreating you to be careful of that health whh is so valuable in the estimation of many & to me, how almost invaluable.
Ah my dear I long’d to be with you last night, I thought I could envy any one who might have the happiness of sitting beside your Bed, nor could I easily consign myself to sleep while my Fancy presented you as reclining a weary Head on a Pillow no longer capable of affording repose; but I will hope that this was not the case and that you are now enjoying the benefit of past rest.
You mention the resentment you expect me to feel at being kept in ignorance of your situation but be assured my love that tho’ I have threaten’d so hard, there was at that moment no room for displeasure in my breast; yet, I must tell you that for the future it will have a great tendency to increase my anxiety, but do not let this grieve you since our present separation will I trust be short & for the time to come, if my wishes were to be gratified such partings will not frequently take place – I rejoice to think that you were attended with so much care & attention – those who have acted in this manner have laid me under obligations of the tenderest nature & they have my sincerest thanks whh is all the return I can now make them.
Your Chitchat as you term it afforded me matter of consolation because it was a favorable symptom of the amendment of your health & spirits – I am glad you were pleased with my dr little Val I conceived I might have done him an injury in overpraising him: I had mention’d him together with the family in a few lines whh I sent in great haste on Friday & supposed they would have reach’d you on Sabbath day but conjecture you must have received them on yesterday: pray do not forget to remember me to Louisa as I should not wish to show partiality. As for Miss Ovendon’s visit it will I doubt not, like her former ones to Isleworth, be attended with numerous delays – I am somewhat surprised at what you tell me of my Cousin Harriet &c: but am incapable of judging properly, as I do not know what occasional or accidental cultivation her Mind may have recd – I can only say, that if she does possess abilities above the common standard they can hardly be deem’d hereditary.
I had no intention of writing a long letter to my dr Grace & took this Paper merely for want of Post, but it has already exceeded the limits of a short one & I must add a few lines more to inform you if it be necessary of the tender concern express’d by several of your Sarum friends, expecially Mr & Mrs Saffery who are both in tolerable health Mr S– set off this morng for Lymington with Mrs Marsh.
As you do not speak of it I hope you were not alarm’d by the late Thunder Storm whh we learn’d from the News Papers to have been very violent about London.
Mr & Mrs Harding are both pretty well & would be remember’d – my Grandmama desired me to tell you how much she was grieved at hearing of your illness.
I have as usual many things to say to you but am this Aftn under an engagement whh I wish fulfilled & therefore must hasten to assure you that with the most earnest prayers for the continuance, nay the increase of all that Peace & consolation of whh [your] Letter is so delightfully expressive & for every blessing even exceeding abundant above all that you can ask or think, I remain
Your affectionate Friend & Sister
I shall be in very impatient expectation of a letter
Am obliged by the contents of the Parcel
Pray remember me suitably to my Father & tell him I do not know what that is myself since he has criticized my mode of expression; if my judgment were to be taken it should differ materially from servility on the one hand or disrespectful coldness on the other – I have a very good opinion of him as a Nurse where his Heart is engaged & I have the happiness to say that I feel no doubt of its being the Case in this instance. Mr Willoughby & family are in the Country –
Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.3.(n.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Isleworth | Midd:x | Aug.st 13th 1794. Postmark: Salisbury, 14 August 1794; for a fully annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, gen. ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 6, pp. 75-76. Harriet Andrews and her brother William, both of Shaw, were relations of Maria and Anne.