14 July 1806
Eliza Flower at Plymouth to Benjamin Flower at Harlow, Monday, 14 July 1806.
Plymouth Monday July 14 1806
My dear Benjamin
I feel I assure you most happy indeed at the near prospect of my return to you & my sweet babes. We leave Plymouth by the diligence to morrow, which takes 3 inside, & one outside passing there being 4 of us (viz) Mrs Freeman Mrs Armitage Mary &myself we have taken the whole coach so that we can all ride inside or out as we like, & in consequence of our taking the coach entirely to ourselves they will allow the coach to set off 2 hours earlier than usual & we shall reach Tiverton the same night.
I am much concerned for poor John, his state of health is alarming & this love affair has still such fast hold of him as almost to incapacitate him for business; I have no doubt but his illness proceeds entirely from his disappointment added to the reflection on the ill usage he has received. He was yesterday in so unhappy a state of mind that he beckoned me out of the room & requested I would sit with him a little while, that he might endeavour to relieve his mind by conversing with me—the more I see of the disposition of my brother & the very correct & steady manner in which he conducts himself (& he reasons in his cooler moments as a man should do—respecting this unhappy affair) & the more I hear of the cruel manner in which he has been treated the more I am shocked, & my great fear is that he will carry the ill effects of Miss Hawkes’s conduct to wound him thro life—he said to me yesterday—“Sister I am ruined the world is nothing to me—& I never, no never whilst I live can ever put confidence in another woman—all my Ideas & hopes of domestic happiness & of being a settled man are blasted; & I never shall be happy more[”]—his judgement is now convinced that whatever might happen to throw her in his way—that he never ought to marry her—but I believe he had hopes & rather trusted to the chapter of Accidents for producing an Ecclaircissement but the letter containing your conversation & hers (the whole of which he has seen) together with some observations of Mr Hawkes’s, has so completely removed every shadow of hope & so thoroughly convinced him of the Lady’s duplicity that he now resigns himself to those feelings which are undermining his health.
I am anxious to get him to return her letters it should be done but he says he never can write her more however I will endeavour to prevail on him to address a note to her & to require a return of his own letters—do write him an affectionate letter. I had hoped you would have done so whilst I had been here he feels himself greatly obliged & very grateful, & very sorry at the same time for all the trouble you have had. Mary’s lover is here—he is I dare say a good kind of man & I suppose has a regard for her but he would not have been the man of my choice he appears to be a perfectly steady man & his moral character is good & people in general are ready to appropriate the characters of a military man very highly if he be not a rake; but that he is not. I consider him a negative sort of character & a person not calculated to bustle thro life I have been very faithful with Mary & when she has asked it have given her my opinion freely. Tho steadiness is an essential qualification in a man it is but one amongst many which the man I married must possess & so have told her. But more of this when I see you next week.
I have been most gratified with the novelties which Plymouth & the neighbourhood exhibit—we went one day thro the dock yard & another day had a sail to Saltram. Yesterday my Brother got a dock vessel & took Mrs F Mary&Mr Yates almost to the Edistone, I did not go. We had arranged matters to have gone a gypsying as they call it to Mount Edgecombe but the day would not serve it has rained hard all the morning—the country about Plymouth is very beautiful but I am still partial to Harlow as I dare say I should be to any spot where you & myself & dear children could be happy. The more I see of the world the more I am convinced how much happiness is in our own reach, & how near it resides to the home of the man who looks no farther than for the approbation of his conscience & his God. I have put the question to myself how far worldly prosperity is necessary to my happiness; but according to my present feelings & Ideas I could never be unhappy in any situation with you my children—health& the meer common necessaries of life—I trust I shall find you all well & expect Sarah has learned to chatter a good deal—will she know me when I return—I rather expect she will—I long to be with you & shall enjoy home with tenfold relish. This jaunt to Plymouth has been of much service to me & I was never in better health. I fear I have lost time in the preserving way unless the fruit here ripens earlier than at Harlow but this I must leave.
Respecting Wallnuts I wish Bet would call at Mr Mumfords & enquire of Mrs Sharp whether the Wallnuts are ripe—she promised me a thousand if they are tell Jane to slice the thousand & put them in pins or jars putting a layer of wallnuts & then a half handful of salt & so on till the pans are filled when they should be sent to be baked in a slow oven, & have some brown paper tied over; the oven must not be too hot—they should be put in after the bread is drawn. Jane must put the nuts in large brown coarse jars & if she does not know how she had better enquire of Mrs Stokes as she helped me do them last year—but I would rather if possible the wallnuts should hang till I return if they will not be [illegible] The wallnuts should be sliced in 3 or four pieces according to their size to ripe tho at any rate let Mrs Sharp be spoken too lest she should forget she promised me I hope Jane will mind to keep the best knives & forks in good order—shall expect to see my Garden very gay & plants in the pots healthy my next letter will inform you of the day when we shall be in London where I hope to meet you as Mrs F does Mr F. Mrs Freeman will thank you to let Mr Freeman know she is quite well she will inform him what day we mean to set out from Ottery. Kiss dear Eliza & Sarah for dear Mamma (now dont forget it) & believe me dear love
Note: For the complete annotated text, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Politics, Religion, and Romance: The Letters of Benjamin Flower and Eliza Gould Flower, 1794-1808 (Aberystwyth: National Library of Wales, 2008), pp. 324-27.