1795 May 19 (Maria)

Maria Grace Andrews, Portsmouth, to Anne Andrews, Salisbury, [Tuesday], 19 May 1795.

Portsea Tuesday Night May ye 19th 1795 –

Tho’ retired for ye purpose of repose, I cannot prevail on myself to attempt sleeping till I have spent a few moments in conversation with my dr Friend. What is ye soft indulgence of slumber: compared with ye luxury of retiring to ye Arms of Friendship? these to relieve ye wearied Soul upon ye bosom of Sympathy – have not we often found my Sister ye sweetness of silent intercourse – when we have stolen into retirement from ye busy vanities of life. I am sure yt I frequently dread to lose in ye stupid forgetfulness of sleep, those sensibilities with which I lay down to rest. Ah! there is sometimes a tenderness of Spirit experienced amid ye solemnities of midnight recollection yt may not be express’t. When ye Soul rising superior to ye weakness of her gross Companion – pours upon ye listening bar of Solitude ye emotions of a Mind – or deprest with languish or exhausted with delight – the latter seems to be my Case at present. I am really prest down with ye weight of pleasurable Sensations – you know too well my taste for ye sublime, & beautiful of Nature to wonder at ye warmth of expressions resulting from ye ravishing view I have just had of ye Grandeur of God in ye Wonders of Creation. Today I have visited the Isle of Wight – we set out early in ye Mor:g & after viewing ye fleet at Spithead landed at Ryde the Panorama gave you a very faint Idea of ye beautiful Scenery of ye Island that I have only view’d imperfectly ye least delightful past time wd not permit us to penetrate far into its charming Recesses. I long to ramble on ye Rocky Shore on ye back of ye Isle with my beloved Anne & dr Mrs Scott – Mrs Saffery echos the Languor of my heart in wishing you always made one in our Parties – ye sweet little Creature is gone to Bed dreadfully fatigued tonight. I hope to say something satisfactory about her in ye Mor:g – I was a little, I may say a good deal agitated in returning home ys Even:g at ye gentle swelling of ye waves, ye immensity of ye Prospect, ye Infinitude of yt God, whose Sea, now “roll’d to waft me” overcharged my Spirit. I thought more than once what if after all I shd be forbidden to contemplate ye greatness of God with pleasure? if the perfection of this wisdom, & this power, shd after all aggravate my misery what if He shd command ye wave to engulph me, in which I now adore ye wonders of his hand! Oh tremendus thought! bid ye black Ocean of eternal Death roll over me & entomb me for ever from ye glory of His power. But still my Soul secretly replied & strove to speak with confidence –

Jesus my Lord I know His name;

His name is all my trust:

Nor will He put my Soul to shame;

Nor let my hope be lost.

May you my dr Love sing ye happy language in ye full assurance of hope unto ye End – tis very late I believe I must say good morn:g

Wednesday – an Engagement to an early dinner will prevent ye long enjoyment of epistolary privilege at ys time & I must devote a few Moments to business – it is not without regret yt I tell my dr Anne my longer stay is now inevitable; unless her particular desire prevent. I must state the Case which is quite alter’d since my last. A letter arrived last week from Bristol requesting the assistance of Mr Horsey as a Supply at Tabernacle & he leaves us to day for yt purpose – Mrs H– upon ys redoubled her solicitations & has at length prevail’d on Mrs Saffery to stay till his return, as she has given up ye Company of her husband who goes accompanied with Miss H– by Rook on Friday. They will hear no plea of mine that I can bring forward with convenience there are many things connected with my situation here agreeable as it is tender’d by the kind efforts of Friendship, which makes me long to return. Ye loss I sustain as deprived of your Society makes me impatient of delay. Yes my love they may tell me what they please of love & natural ties. Friendship, as Spencer says has claims more refined, more enlarged, than what he calls the “raging fire of love to womankind or soft affection dear to kindred sweet” you know yt I am not Stoical in my views nor entirely devoted to platonic friendships – but when I think on ye pleasure resulting from ye possession of a Friend like you I own yt I rejoice tis divested of passion an union immortal in its principle yt shall exist in regions of Purity, where grosser relationship is dissolved for ever – miserable, then unspeakably miserable, shd I be, not to possess a spiritual Friend if ever I sustain’d ye Character of a Wife in ye Companion of my Days. Let us my dr Sister pray to study more, & more, ye honor of our heavenly Bridegroom yt we may never become, the wretched Partners, of ungodly Men & may God make each of us continually more pure in heart yt our fervent love, may be without dissimulation, abundantly to his Glory.

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, 1.B.1.(10.), Angus Library. No address page; 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. 93-95. The Tabernacle in Bristol was one of the many meeting houses established by George Whitefield and his followers in the eighteenth century. In the summer of 1794 a series of meetings was held there, attended by John Ryland, Jr., that eventually led to the formation of the London Missionary Society in 1795, the missionary arm of the Independent congregations of England. Various Calvinistic ministers, both Baptist and Independent, preached at the Tabernacle, but the congregation did not call their first stated minister, David Ralph, until shortly after Horsey’s preaching engagement.