Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, [c. early December 1795].
I had hoped to give my dear Grace no cause of uneasiness or complaint by delay in writing but have already fail’d in this respect. I have been at different times employ’d in fulfilling my engagements to dr Mrs Saffery Esther & Hannah as I wish’d to send them together and expected to have had my little Packet ready some days sooner but have been prevented to you I need not explain how –
I procured my box Saturday morng & consequently your’s and our dear Hannah’s welcome Epistles which while they afforded me heartfelt satisfaction cost me many tears the endearing language with which they were fraught awaken’d the deep and poignant regret that before persuaded my Mind to the most lively and uncontroulable emotion so that for the time they seem’d rather to augment than diminish my grief – Indifference herself would blush should I pass by unnoticed those tender and flattering expressions of your too partial affections your little Poem which besides its claims of this heart upon me has no very small demand on my admiration from < > of poetical merit indeed it < > have < > such a predicament that delicacy forbids my subjecting it to the perusal of others who would all doubtless unite with me in bestowing on it those commendations whh are so justly its due – As to the desires of a spiritual nature breathed in it, it is my earnest prayer for you that they may be delightfully and constantly realized in your Experience that you may be enabled to adopt the language of the Poet in its fullest import and say –
’Tis Heaven to rest in Thine embrace
And nowhere else but there –
The negative part of this Sentiment I am well acquainted with but I long to know a great deal more of the positive to fill up the tedious hours of pilgrimage with sweet anticipation this would not lead to the setting up a rest here for it is the longings of the Soul after spiritual good whh as the Christian can never possess imperfection here he is never perfectly content but is still saying with the Psalmist I shall be satisfied when I awake in Thy likeness –
I forwarded your’s to Mrs Ford the same morng with a few lines whh served a little to disburthen my own Mind I need not tell you with how much affection that dear Friend received nor with how much candor and sweetness she excused every delay and seeming neglect on our part in her conduct that description must be unnecessary I thought the time long till the Monday Morng after my arrival when I sent & beg’d her to come to me she sat with me about an hour & in the afternoon I spent a short time with her since that I have not seen her except it be thro’ the window & reason is my Father is exceedingly jealous of those visits and besides when he has been out I have been engaged a little < > – Mrs Collins has got a nice < > is very fond of & I believe is a means of keeping him in a rather better temper – Mrs Keen I have seen once she is most dreadfully jealous & I know not what to do in it: however I wish you would not forget to send your love &c: – I am not very likely to have my dr Mrs Sansom near me as there are some difficulties about James’s return – Our present Foreman is John Kendall whom you will remember – James from a knowledge of the Family is afraid to take a place in whh he must cooperate with him and yet at present there seems no propriety in turning him off indeed in some respects he is certainly better qualified than Sansom but the principle thing whh is his integrity remains to be proved. I have written Mrs Scott and Mrs Houghton and beg’d the former to write to me directed for Mrs Ford – I wish much to see our dear friends in Chapel St but am pretty well answered that my first visit in Town whenever it takes place will not be there –
I have so many things to say to you that I have hardly know how to proceed – with respect to the state of my Mind believe I must for this time refer you to any other Correspondent – I am a good deal oppressed but I trust the Lord will undertake for me I desire to leave all in his hand – It is my duty to confess that the least of my Sins deserves more than the greatest of my Sufferings and my invaluable privilege to believe that I shall not bear a single affliction more than what shall be for my profit and God’s glory what reason then my dr Sister for cheerful acquiescence in what encouragement to exercise the most unlimited confidence – He doth not afflict willingly & tis said of our adorable Emmanuel that He is bowed with a feeling of our infirmities – As to outward things they are as well as I can expect have been a good deal teazed about < > tho’ all in what is call’d a good < > be courted of my religion < > something any way so it be but done I < > great deal about the Company I am to be introduced to this Winter Public Places &c – Last Saturday Mr A. brought me from Town a very handsome Dunstable Bonnet & fashionable Cap call’d the Prince of Wales’s Night Cap whh together cost him 30 shillings for my comfort they were both very unexceptionable as to neatness and propriety I endeavor’d to appear obliged and gratified but it was hard work I had reason to be thankful for his attention but when I view’d those trifles as a part of the price offer’d for my integrity I rejected them with scorn I assure you I have some ground for these suspicions – I had a very narrow escape of a White Beaver with yellow Feathers & Feather for my Cap whh would have quite metamorphosed your Sister Anne but no more of this at present –
Soon after I sat down to write to you I was served with the copy of Subpoena on my Father at the Suit of Marchant to appear before the Barons of the Exchequer to morrow I don’t understand such short notice & am ready to hope it is of no great consequence however as he is in London he will most likely hear of it from his Attorney who will have notice of their Proceedings – He is himself Plaintiff in the Court of Exchequer – And as for common Law it is for the present at a Stand – Marchants Atty having made a mistake in the manner of their arrestg my Father after procuring and justifying Bail made a motion to discharge it whh was granted without demur – My Father return’d last night & I supposed was prepared for the present I had to make him it appears to be quite a thing of course –
You enquire about Politics I can only say that things in a general point of view are very bad indeed as to the particulars you allude to I believe there neither has been nor is apparent any just ground of fear from that Quarter had occurred. The Meeting in Palace Yard is a < > by Mr Pitt whh is called the Convention Bill – Its design from what information I can gather is to suppress meetings for the purpose of political debate to prohibit all animadversions not only on his Majesty but his Ministers & to impower Government to imprison any persons who shall be guilty of such offences without any tedious process – perhaps you will wonder with me that the Minister would venture such an unpopular step at the present critical juncture – with respect to the Meeting some people were very busy in predicting consequences but nothing of a painful nature ensued – and if we consider that the active Men in this were Fox the Duke of Bedford & Gray who are not suspected of revolutionary principles & who possess such an assimilated influence over the Minds of the people we shall cease to wonder that this immense assembly were dismiss’d without the least appearance of tumult after they had conducted their Idol in triumph to his House – there has been another very numerous Meeting at Hackney at whh also were present the Dukes of Bedford & Norfolk & the Duke of Northumberland by proxy all under his Grace’s influence were order’d to attend I suppose there was scarcely ever a Bill so strongly opposed – but yet there is no doubt of its being passed the Minister has so large a Majority in the House – I was in great hopes that the successes of the Austrians would have promoted a peace but victory has again declared for the French – Well it ought to satisfy us that the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth and that in all these events he is exerting his own precious and sovereign Will.
Mrs Ford has < > fully think it an excellent work but I shall able to tell you more about it when I read more of them. Mr Saxbe has returned my Edwards – Poor Man he is languishing out his existence by slow but certain degrees the alteration in his looks shock’d me greatly I can’t suppose it possible for him to hold out much longer –
You request me to fix a time at whh we may meet each other in Spirit before the throne of Grace this tho’ perfectly consonant to my inclinations is attended with no small difficulty however after frequent deliberation think eleven in the forenoon the best period as there is great uncertainty before Breakfast partly from the overegularity of our hours & the Season of the Year & partly from my Father’s frequent Journey’s to Town whh you know allways put us in a bustle –
With respect to pecuniary Matters it is with extreme mortification that I acquaint you with my inability to assist you agreeably to my Wishes or to send those little presents to our dear friends that would have so gratified my feelings but I must learn to exercise patience be assured I cannot enjoy any comforts or indulgences of whh I think you are destitute tho’ as usual they are very partial but time forbids enlargement –
Don’t forget to remember me to the dr People – I have been quite concern’d that I came away without parting leave of old Mrs Marsh do give my kind respects to her my love to dr Granny Hamford – suitable < > to Mr & Mrs H–
< > increase of faith and holiness < > who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift may you be enabled to trust in and wait patiently on God in dark & gloomy Seasons believing ye trial of your faith whh is far more precious than of Gold whh perisheth shall be found unto praise & honor & glory
Yours most affectionately
I would have you direct your parcel for Mrs Ford Isleworth to be left at the Rose & Crown near Smallbro’ Green Turnpike till called and put a letter in the post Office for me two days before you send the pacquet – (whh had better be by Cook’s Coach) that I may have time to speak to Mrs Collins to go for it –
Since I wrote the above have recd a very affectionate Epistle from Mrs Scott let me entreat you to her directly – also one from Mrs Houghton
Remember that Esther is told to send her letter [to] me to Sarum – that you may forward I forget to mention it in my letter –
Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.2.(m.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews. No postmark; 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. 107-11. Further indications here of Maria Grace Andrews continuing to compose poetry at this time as well as Anne's continued reading of Jonathan Edwards. The two sisters are also still intrigued about politics. After the Copenhagen Fields meeting of the London Corresponding Society on 26 October 1795 and the attack on the King’s coach on 29 October, the government moved to bring two bills before Parliament aimed at curtailing the activities of radical reformist groups – the Treasonable Practices Bill, introduced into the House of Lords by Grenville on 6 November 1795, and the Seditious Meetings Bill, moved by Pitt in the House of Commons on 10 November. The Two Bills became law on 18 December 1795. The former bill reinvigorated the notion that it was treason to even contemplate (or ‘imagine’, a word often used in derision of the bill) bodily harm or the death of the king, or engage in any speech or form of writing that would incite hatred of the king or parliament, the latter punishable in some cases with deportation. These bills gave local magistrates discretionary power over all public meetings of fifty persons or more convened for the purpose of petitioning the King or Parliament for parliamentary or ecclesiastical reform. As Albert Goodwin notes, ‘alarmism had done its work, and by placing large public assemblies under the close surveillance of local magistrates, the government could count on their unquestioning collaboration in the work of internal security. In Parliament Pitt could rely on the unwavering support of large ministerial majorities and the enthusiastic backing of the Portland Whigs to force through these repressive policies, and in the country the propertied, professional and middle classes, rallied once more by the Reevite associations, united in self-defence against the renewed threats from reviving radicalism.’ The reaction by political reformers was predictable, and meetings of the reform groups were held in London and its suburbs and in localities throughout the provinces. According to the History of the Two Acts, 94 petitions against the Bills were sent to Parliament, with over 130,000 signatures, including 65 petitions in favor of the Bills, with 30,000 signatures. The Hackney meeting mentioned by Anne was held on Saturday, 21 November, in the Assembly Room of the Mermaid Tavern, with the Dukes of Norfolk and Bedford leading the people present into signing a petition opposing the Two Bills (Anne’s comment about these men ‘all under his Grace’s influence were order’d to attend’ is somewhat ambiguous). The Palace Yard meeting was held on 26 November with many of the same parliamentary leaders appearing in opposition to the bills. As to the situation in Austria, Anne Andrews is referring to the Peace of Basel, in which France signed treaties with Prussia (5 April), Spain (22 July), and Hessen-Kassel (28 August), establishing the stage for the end of the War of the First Coalition that would occur the next year, leaving England at that time as the primary power still engaged against France. See Account of the Proceedings of a Meeting of the Inhabitants of Westminster, in Palace-Yard, Monday, Nov. 26, 1795, including the Substances of the Speeches of the Duke of Bedford, Mr. Sheridan, Mr. Fox, &c (London: Citizen Lee, at the Tree of Liberty, 1795); History of the Two Acts (London: G. G. and J. Robinson, 1796); A. Goodwin, The Friends of Liberty: The English Democratic Movement in the Age of the French Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 389.