Anne Andrews, Salisbury, to Maria Grace Andrews, Isleworth, Monday, [6 October 1794].
After many days in a state of anxiety, and suspence better felt than described your letter reach’d me late on Saturday Eveng having paid a visit to Exeter a circumstance which created in me no small degree of astonishment & whh I can by no means account for it is certainly very extraordinary that it should happen a second time in so short a space – but the discovery of it were possible will by no means repay the trouble of investigation let us therefore leave it.
And now my dr Girl what have you to say on your own behalf for the neglect you was guilty of in so long delaying the promised Epistle whh be assured was very distressing to me could you not figure to yourself the uneasiness & solicitude of my Mind and if so is it possible that my Sister! my sympathising Friend! could be indifferent about, or unconcern’d to remove it? No, I will not entertain a thought so injurious to the amiable & zealous tenderness whh I know from experience to be a predominating principle in her Breast you will pardon this expostulating still I am indeed sorry I have had such frequent occasion to use it since your departure from Sarum –
This welcome & long expected letter reach’d me when I was just in the bitterness of disappointment and the unusual time of its arrival added to the previous discomposures of my Spirits deprived me for a few moments of the power of opening but the contents I must confess almost if not wholly obliterated every trace of sorrow from my mind every Sentiment every line seem’d expressive of health & cheerfulness & while I could not but lament the conciseness & hasty manner in whh I perceived it to have been written yet I felt and acknowledged that it had a greater tendency to revive my confidence & dissipate my fears than if it had been indited in a frame of mind the most sweetly solemnized or under impressions of the most interesting nature –
Yours was indeed a letter of Intelligence some of whh excited in me no small degree of surprise especially your new correspondence tho’ I have nothing to say by way of disapprobation since it seems evidently to be one of those things whh make for Peace whh it is certainly our wisdom at all times to follow and if it shd have any tendency to establish harmony & unanimity & remove those heartwarmings & animosities that have so long subsisted it will be matter of pleasing reflection on any future retrospect –
By what I gather from your expressions there is still great necessity for me to call my patience into exercise as it respects your return I am sure I need not tell you how highly conducive your presence is at all times to my happiness yet I can say that if the delay is really essential to my Father’s ease and comfort I will strive to acquiesce in this deprivation not only without complaint but cheerfully now do not make an ill use of this declaration by lengthening your absence even one unnecessary Day. Indeed I conceive your own inclinations will not < > act in this manner but on the contrary will impel you to as speedy a return as will consist with the performance of Relative duties &c: –
As to your Political news the most wonderful part has turn’d out as is commonly the case to be more strange than true. I mean the rumour’d Counter revolution in Paris as to the intended attempt on the King’s life which is indubitable fact: folly seems the truest characteristic of such designs it even prevails above the inhumanity of them; it appears to me almost wholly impossible to form any idea of the end proposed – I do not see that ye assasination of ye King would be the least effectual to the subversion of the present government or to the redress of any public grievances. The state of Affairs on the Continent is truly deplorable. The acc.ts rec.d from thence are but one unvaried recital of the expulsion defeat & dreadful slaughter of the combined Armies add to this the ravages of the yellow fever in the West Indies which falls wholly on the Europeans, the natives not being affected, the executions in France &c &c &c and I think it may be allow’d that Europe at this period displays a scene of horror almost unparallell’d in the Page of History – with what calamity is it not visited you have doubtless heard of the tremendous Earthquake near Constantinople & also of the famine there –
Pray my dear can you spare me your french Books if so will you indulge me by sendg them and at the same time the dark gown and petticoat whh I am much in want of for a Winter’s garb I shall not mention other things at present as I hope you will come soon and bring them with you. I must leave you remember me to my Father & all enquiring Friends &c &c: Adieu my beloved that in every situation or circumstance in whh you are placed you may be guided supported comforted by unerring Wisdom uncreated strength & neverending compassion is ye prayer of your friend & Sister
Grandpapa & Grandmama desire love
Pray send the Par[cel] immediately
Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.3.(q.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Isleworth | Middlesex. Postmark: Salisbury, 9 October 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. 83-84. In July 1794 a coup, led by more moderate Jacobins, brought down Robespierre’s government, putting an end to what had become known as the ‘Reign of Terror’ and replacing it with the Directory. Anne also references the "Pop-gun Plot," in which informants notified the authorities that an attempt on the King’s life would be made while he was in attendance at the theatre by means of a poisoned dart in a pop-gun; the ongoing war with France; and the outbreak of yellow fever in America.