Anne Andrews, Isleworth, to Maria Grace Andrews, Salisbury, Saturday, [20 February 1796].
The request contain’d in my dr Grace’s last which I recd about three hours ago, was not necessary to stimulate me to an immediate reply, since the tenderest solicitude irresistibly impells me at this time. I was at breakfast with Mr A– when your Letter arrived Yesterday, and after glancing over the few first lines, and the conclusion, (as the quickest mode of obtaining information on the State of your health and Spirits generally), with a trepidation usual on such occasions, I put it in my Pocket, determined to want a more favorable moment for perusal, telling Mr A– I thought all was pretty well – You will judge the surprise and grief I felt on reading the account of our dr Mrs Saffery’s Sickness, – my mind before considerably depressed could not well support the many tender recollections whh press’d upon it. I wept out those emotions which would not be repress’d, and my unthankful heart seem’d more inclined to brood over a supposed distress, than to exercise gratitude for the Mercy whh had prevented it – I however derived some consolation from your epistle I thought I could discover in the expression of it, a degree of chearfulness to whh I have been long unaccustom’d, and gather’d from it some pleasing change in your experience, an event whh I have waited for with the most assured expectation, for none ever trusted in him and were ashamed & he hath said I will never leave thee nor forsake thee – I have as usual much to say and but little time to say it in & must therefore use brevity –
I am indeed sincerely pleased at the prospect of our dr Esther’s return I trust it will prove in every sense advantageous; I hope you will forward a letter from her in the next parcel – whh you may send as soon as convenient & direct as before – Tho’I shd not have readily guess’d at the young couple, yet I am not peculiarly surprized, since observation daily shows us that scarcely anything of this kind is too strange to be true.
Your last repaid all the pain of the former, I know not when I have found my spirit so much refresh’d and comforted; it rejoices my heart to hear of the [prosperity] of the dear Church, and of the success which the Lord is pleased to crown the labours of our beloved Pastor I shall miss among your list of Candidates Wm Roe who I expected would have been one of the first. I trust those that are added will be added of the Lord & be as trees planted by the waterside to bring forth fruit in due Season remember me kindly to the young Women – What is Mrs Marsh about all this time give my love & tell her I am quite impatient to hear of her becoming a Baptist by practice as well as sentiment –
I am much pleased with your acct of the conduct of Joshua & Williams hope the reality of their professions will be abundantly manifest in their future conduct & that the constant exercise of humility may prove their zeal to be according to knowledge – I am happy to think that the misapprehension with respect to what pass’d that night at conference is set right, as I should have been pain’d in being however innocently the Cause of wounding their Minds or of interrupting for a Moment the peace & harmony of the Church – There is one piece of intelligence if possible more satisfactory than any of the former I mean the promising appearances in those unhappy Wanderers from God – Mary Lane & Mary Loder – If it should be as we hope, with what joy shall we receive these returning Prodigals & what reason shall we have to admire the riches and Sovreignty of Divine Grace – I must have a word or two of business tho’ I am very unwilling to change my Subject – You say what are we to do about the Mission House at Threwton &c: – indeed I hardly know what to say – Mr A–’s affairs at present are exceedingly critical according to my own judgement: things have been extremely distressg the present quarter; the complete purchase of one share of the Mill; earnest of the other, rapacious Lawyers, together with treacherous foremen and selfish ungenerous Customers, have heap’d up more trouble & perplexity than I can well describe – besides this Trade is very dead and money I believe generally scarce – I do not feel much fear about the future if we can but stand the present, and we have no reason to doubt the kindness of God in this respect –
Let me know when you write, the time when you expect to be calld upon to contribute to the Mission &c: & depend on my exertions I think you must reduce the sum of the former as we proposed, the latter I must leave to your judgment & do the best I can for you – Be assured nothing is more pleasing to me than to afford you every assistance in the mean time my dr Love suffer not any anxiety to prey on your Spirits exercise the most unlimited confidence in him who hath promised that all things shall work together for good to them that love God and who are the called according to his purpose –
I am sorry to say that our dr Mrs Sansom is likely to be a prisoner to her chamber for a long time if she should be spared to leave it – Love to Hannah tell her to write me a nice long letter – the tenderest remembrances to my beloved Mr & Mrs Saffery tell them I hope not to be disappointed of the expectation you have inspired – Mrs Ford & Collins wd be affectly remember’d – Adieu
Yours very tenderly
Kind love to enquirers
I shall expect to hear from you directly that I may learn the state of our dr Friend’s health – and then you can also inform me what time I may expect the Pacquet –
Note at the bottom of the last page in another hand:
My dear Cousin,
Miss Anne has spared me this corner, to tell you that I am still at Isleworth and hope soon to go to School here. Be assured I love you and remain yours ever affecly V G Ravenscroft
Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.3.(i.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Exeter Street | Sarum. Postmark: 22 February 96; 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. 123-24. Val Ravenscroft was a cousin of Anne and Maria Grace Andrews. William Rowe (1777-1817) attended at Brown Street, Salisbury, before entering Bristol Baptist Academy. After completing his studies he was ordained in the Baptist church at Redruth in 1803. He itinerated in Cornwall for many years, and was greatly interested in the work of the Baptist Missionary Society, naming his son after William Carey. His final pastorate was at Weymouth, Dorsetshire. A letter from Rowe to John Saffery, dated 24 August 1799, written shortly after Saffery’s marriage to Maria Grace Andrews, can be found in the Reeves Collection, R/11/14, Angus Library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford. For more on Rowe, see Baptist Magazine 9 (1817): 186.