Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, Monday, 13 January 1794.
Monday Morn:g Janry 13th 94
I am at length favor’d with an opportunity of unrestrain’d converse with my beloved friend – Alas that it should have been so long impracticable – I think I can hear you framing a variety of excuses for the delay the most plausible one, my proposed visit to Chapel Street. Now then shall I excite your pity, when I shall inform you, that I have not thus indulged away the time which should have been devoted to my dr Grace – far different indeed have been the employments and avocations which have witheld my Pen –
Soon after our last painful parting, my Father express’d a wish that Mr Ravenscroft & his family might be invited to spend the Xmas Season with us; to which as you may readily suppose, I made not the slightest objection, and for that time gave up all hopes of seeing our dr friends – you know my disposition in these things – I would not place < > in the smallest point of competition – I < > a compliance tho’ – which robb’d both < > of health & repose; my Heart powerfully < > my conscience render’d the task difficult < > with a tender and affectionate familiarity < > masterly for Nature but I forbear to animadvert < > invitation was only accepted for Louisa, who < > day before Christmas & remain’d with me till Friday last I found her as well as could be expected from the kind of [in]struction she has received, but her uncontroulable vivacity render’d her a very wearisome companion – you will not now be much at a loss, to account for my want of leisure but when I shall add three or four days dinner and supper company, one day out to dinner – Intense application to Books, besides no inconsiderable degree of Indisposition I know I shall stand excused – I recd your Pacquet in the midst of Bustle & preparation on the morng of Xmas Day, & could only at that time be tantalized by stolen & imperfect glances – I will not tell you that your letter gave me great pleasure; for it fill’d my mind with so many painful & embarassing ideas that I could not taste the sweets it contain’d – I reflected with concern on the inability I felt to fulfil your various wishes at a time when actuated by love I should have hasten’d with Joyful alacrity to execute every commission: but you know my love these were the murmurs of pride & impatience & I now feel more humble, at least I hope so I felt that I had nothing to bestow on our dr friend but useless commiseration; but the Lord will enable me in his own good time, & I hope you can rely on my watchfulness of the first opportunity < > petticoat I had a few days before given to < > was very glad of it, which I thought a < > than cutting it up for Mary who is to < > one – The Sheets have been in continual < > Bed, & Money has been so much in < > this Season, as to place it almost out of my power < > and a few Shillings; I need not expatiate on < > nor on the additional pain I experienced on < > the low state of your finances – I also doubt very much the possibility of seeing my dr Mrs Saffery a circumstance indeed which would afford me sincere pleasure I will not however quite despair of this – I am obliged to consult brevity & must therefore hasten to inform you of some incidents which have occur’d since your departure – Poor Mrs Freeman has left her probationary state after a tedious & severe illness – If I rightly understand what you insinuate respecting Mr Lane this may admit of a comparison She was not so ignorant of divine Truths as we were induced to imagine from her conversation, but she confess’d that she had never felt their saving power; she complain’d much of darkness whh as Mrs Collins observed raised a faint prospect that their was some light to render the darkness perceptible; she express’d herself for the most part desireous of Christian conversation & Prayer & was in consequence visited by Mrs Collins Mrs Ford & Mrs Keens also Mr Wood & Mr Saxbe the latter seem’d to be most favor’d in directing her aim and affordg consolation – I have a very high opinion of that young Man but to return to poor Mrs F– she had every human assistance whh would be afforded her both as to spirituals & temporals – for the most important part our friends were much divided, however Mr Wood in the funeral sermon seem’d to speak with confidence that tho’ the Lord had hid his face from her for a Season, as an awful warning of the danger of an empty or hypocritical profession yet it had remember’d her in mercy & in the hour of extremity < > on her Soul with the reviving beams < > let us hope my dr Sister that this was indeed the < > perhaps I ought to apologize for this long detail < > conceived at would be interesting to you for it was < > to me – Ah my Friend how fearful to leave so < > a concern to an hour, when, as in this instance, < > is rack’d with pain, & the fainting spirits < > scarcely supply the faculty of hearing, much less < > powers of thought & the exercises of prayer & < > what would become of such a soil if any thing more were required than the Woman of Canaan’s Prayer “Lord help me” 15 Ch. 25 V. St Matthew (I heard a Gospel Sermon on the preceding verse at Hounslow the Sabbath my Father was absent) – I must now present a more agreeable scene to your view – the sick Bed of a rejoicing Christian I mean Mr Saxbe. He has been brought very low but the nearer his mortal part seem’d to ye Grave the higher his soul was raised on the wings of faith to survey his heavenly inheritance the gladness of his Heart broke out in rapturous adoration & in strong & earnest exhortations to those who were present he sent for Thomas Collins one night which was thought might be his last and besought him to consider the things which belong to his eternal peace before it was too late – he succeeded so far as to move his natural passions but I fear this is all – He return’d ardent thanks to God on hearing of your progress in the heavenly road –
Mrs Keens has been extremely ill Mrs Ford much indisposed her Husband is now at home whh will make their situation better as it respects temporals – All our friends would I now be kindly remember’d they rejoice in the loving kindness of the Lord so wonderfully manifested in your late preservation –
I must hasten to conclude – Be assured I shall bear all your requests in mind & hope an opportunity will soon offer to comply with some at least of them.
My father knows of my writing today & as I am rather weary at the length of time whh has elapsed since I heard fm you beg you will return an immediate answer & would advise you to mention your own wants as also the Counterpanes whh will relieve me from a disagreeable embarassment – I am charged with various regards to you fm Mr B – & Mr R especially – I have not said half I wish’d to you but hope to write again soon & to have more time both to think & commit to paper – Present suitable remembrances to all friends tenderly to dr Mrs Houghton – I must not omit my Father’s love to you –
Adieu my dr Grace & believe my with the sincerest prayers for your temporal & eternal peace
Your affecte friend & Sister
Excuse this almost illegible scrawl
Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.1.(g.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Mr Harding’s | Exeter Street | Sarum. Postmark illegible; 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. 63-65. Whether the reference to Mr. Lane is William Lane of the Minerva Press is not clear.