1794 May 26 (Maria)

Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, to Anne Andrews, Isleworth, [Monday], 26 May 1794.

Sarum Monday Night, May 26th 1794

I address you my beloved Sister in much haste; because I have been so long prevented writing that I can bear it no longer, and am determined to tell you something, tho’ but a little of my grateful feelings, about your last letter. I need not tell you, how highly I estimate the indulgent promise it contains. Tho’ the pleasure is secretly embitter’d, by the reflection yt it may cost our dear Father, (who is thus unexpectedly kind) some discouraging thoughts of me, ’tis very likely he will say, that I don’t improve in the art of sowing trouble, &c. O! I have been the slave of these fears a long while, & perhaps sh:d not have broken thro’ the tiresome restraint; but for the hurry in which I wrote rend’ring concealment almost impracticable. Beside the melancholy consequent, on the sickness of a Friend, I suffer’d that pain which attends on the mental indisposition of another. My poor G. F. is somehow distressingly agitated under afflictions, and exhibits a striking Picture of the misery which attends a too severe attention to the perishing things of time & sense. To add to my dejection I had endured a very considerable degree of pain in my head; just before my G. M.hs affliction for which I had recourse to a blister and in this situation commenced Nurse. Now on such a poor, impatient, mutable, Creature as your Sister, such a concurrence of circumstances, may readily be supposed to make rather gloomy impressions, & with all our natural proneness to rest on an arm of flesh; can you wonder at my secret longings for yr society? and while these continually (if need be,) are excited, by some who are considerate enough to ask, “why I do not send for my Sister”; can you wonder they broke out into expression? especially as some of my most intimate Salisbury Friends, are absent –

I write this quite late; by my G. M. bedside; who thro’ mercy does not appear to be in immediate danger. She is able to sit up in her chamber, where she has been confined, and yt chiefly to her bed, for near three weeks, with ye attendance of two of the Faculty; Surgeon; & Apothecary, poor dear woman she possesses wonderful spirits in the midst of it. & my G. F:hr can hardly think there is danger, except she be in appearance dying. Poor Man I cd scarcely persuade him of the dislocation; & it was only by violent exertions, I got him to send for the Surgeon who replaced the bone, without whose assistance the Patient must have endured great torture. –

The noisy triumph of the Night does not disturb my sleeping Nursery, but makes me a very weary correspondent. After the most dismal acc:ts for day’s past from our S—y Politicians; my ears have been fatigued for some hours with repeated firing by our Military I supposed by the dreadful activity of the Gentlemen of the Rope, who are exercising at my expence on the City Bells. Beside this is the noisy acclamation of the Multitude who are roaring out the Coronation Anthem, in notes of brutal Festivity, which almost distracts me. “How sad our State by Nature is!” in ye confusion of such scenes, how sweet are the consolations of true Religion O how superior are its pleasures; to thou which thus madly move, the ungodly multitude, whether civilized or savage! the religion of Jesus, never was design’d, to make our pleasure less.

Adieu my Love, come soon, ’tis almost too late, to say good Night; but I will take time to tell my dear Father yt I love him; & beg pardon for being so troublesome. Once more adieu, yrs very tenderly, M. G. A –

Monday Mor:g

You must my dear love, excuse this; for I wrote it with a trembling hand; amidst the uproar of ye Night! my G. M. not so well –

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, 1.B.1.(7.), Angus Library. Address: Miss Andrews, | Isleworth | Middlesex. Postmark: May 26 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. 72-73. May 1794 was rife with political tension between the loyalist supporters of the Church and King, under the direction of Pitt and his supporters in parliament, and reformers, both in and out of parliament, who continued to demand changes in the political system and were vocal in their opposition to the war against France. One consequence of the heightened tensions and vehement rhetoric marking the divisions between the two sides was an increase in suspicion on the part of the government that various reform groups, such as the London Corresponding Society, had become anti-monarchical and were threatening violence against the Crown. As a result, the Suspension of Habeas Corpus Act was passed on 7 May and put into effect on 16 May 1794, receiving royal assent on 23 May. That same month several leading members of the London Corresponding Society were arrested for treason, including Thomas Hardy, John Thelwall, and Horne Tooke. Numerous celebrations by Church and King Associations were common throughout England at this time; most likely Maria Grace is referring to one such celebration in the above letter.