Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, [Friday], 29 April 1796.
I received my dr Grace’s letter about an Hour since but am still as much at a loss how to answer it as I was the first moment of perusal – You will not I am assured feel any surprise at this irresolution when you reflect on the intricacy & difficulty of these circumstances in whh we are placed: or impart it for a moment to the smallest degree of indifference in my Breast as it respects your society, whh you well know has for many years constituted a very large share of my happiness as to temporal things –
The idea of your coming to Isleworth carries with it a mixture of pleasing and painful sensations better conceived than express’d – but as the time is very short I must come immediately to the point.
First then as it respects my situation I cannot admit of your return home merely on that acct, as however pleasing your presence is & ever must be to me there is a doubt whether it might prove an alleviation to those difficulties whh I have to contend with: in regard to Mr A– experience and observation have in measure proved ye contrary as you know it was rather uncommon for him to be on good terms with both of us at the same time and whh ever was the object of his displeasure the distress to each was the same – In general I suffer but little from that Quarter whh I consider as a mercy; tho’ sometimes I find it may be a snare – your counsel indeed I often want and that greatly tho’ frequently when the perplexity is past I am thankfull you were not burthen’d with it – besides this, I have had a latent hope when Mr A’s affairs were somewhat more settled of revisiting Sarum to whh some circumstances with whh you are at present unacquainted have contributed –
But it is time to look on the other side and take your health &c into consideration here I see abundant reason to encourage your return; here my feelings are indeed deeply interested, and I should not hesitate to urge your immediate departure could I perswade myself to think it would be consider’d as a visit, and that the Breach whh seems to be made between us heal’d: tho little has pass’d on the subject the very suspicion, has caused me much grief in your absence from each other; how much less should I be able to support any appearance of disagreement or disgust when together – but I am wrong to distress myself by such anticipations – as for pecuniary matters it would probably for the present be most comfortable at home indeed were you supplied in this way agreeably to my wishes I shd rather advise you to seek the restoration of health and spirits by a journey to Portsea or almost any where but Isleworth –
Be assured my Beloved notwithstandg this Statement it would afford me the most delight again to embrace you, it would be an inexpressible satisfaction to be able to watch over your health, and after witnessing an amendment in strength and spirits < > you comfortably equip’d &c: to send you back to the enjoyment of those invaluable Privileges for which no temporal ease or gratifications can compensate.
Mr A– is in Town and indeed had he been at home I could not have ventured to mention anything on the subject to him lest it should have induced him to enquire if I had recd any fresh intelligence: but if you will write and say something of it, (tho’ not much, as I would rather wish the proposal to come from me than you, I will endeavor to come at his real sentiments and make you immediately acquainted with them –
In any case I think such a deliberation likely to be productive of good – & in the meantime beg you will endeavor to rise above dejection and seek the preservation of that health whh I trust you will in future prove the value of by many years of domestic & social felicity & peace the Spring has been Stormy, but this is no reason why the Summer may not be serene & genial – No, my dr friend I do not despond – I regret nothing of past trials but the sin and folly connected with them, and for the future I can truly say I fear nothing, but on the same ground When I said, my Bosom was a stranger to Peace it was not from the influence of despair, or habitual melancholly but from the incessant recurrence of external or internal distresses –
I am happy for your comfort to be able to say that I am in the enjoyment of a considerable degree of health – have recover’d my Appetite and got rid of that extreme languor and depression with whh I have been much exercised of late – I must conclude – pray remember me most affectionately to my kind and partial friends & tell our dr Hannah that if she is call’d on to part with you I hope she wil be enabled to do it with becoming fortitude – Love to Mr & Mrs H–
Dr Mrs Ford who sympathizes in our perplexities as far as she is acquainted with them begs the tenderest remembrances of friendship and affection also Mrs Collins I think you had better write two letters and send them the same day, as I shall then have an opportunity of hearing your private sentiments – the remotest idea of seeing & embracing you glows at my heart notwithstanding every allay but whether < > or present I am equally your tenderly affecte friend & Sister
I need not entreat you as it respects this design to ask counsel of Him who is infinitely wise to direct & gracious [to] bless those who call on him in truth
Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.3.(g.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Exeter Street | Sarum | April 29th 1796. Postmark: Isleworth, 29 April 1796; 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. 125-26.