3 March 1790

Mary Egerton, London, to Mrs. Andrews, Isleworth, [Wednesday], 3 March 1790.

Wed:y March 3d 90

Nothing but your indisposition my dr. Mohr, would indeed form a sufficient excuse for your long Silence, because I always appeal to my own heart on these occasions – which reminds me that the only thing almost, which prevents my writing to you immediately, is on the same principle, that children hoard up what they like best to the very last, because it is impossible to eat their Cake and keep their Cake.

I am very sorry to find that all 3 of my dr Friends have been so ill, & have only a very common consolation to offer, viz, that almost every Body shares in the same misfortune for I scarcely know a Person who either does not, or has not, suffered from predispositions which with you, I very much attribute to the unusual temperature & the season – for my own part, I was last week so much oppressed by a low Fever that it rendered me unable to reach so far as Bond St & I was obliged to execute your commissions by a Messenger – It is not however I hope less satisfactory on that account, tho’ I am sorry to learn from Mr W. that he had not a sufficient Quantity of the Potion but procured some at rather a higher price – I suppose he enclosed a Bill of it – as I had not an opportunity of settling with him.

With respect to the elder Mr W I should be sorry to impute his Queerness to Anne to any other cause than that versatility I have often observed in his Temper & Spirits – I taxed him with it when I last called, but he denied the charge & said he really took leave of her tho’ we did not notice it, & should likewise have been much pleased by an hours conversation with her; but Mrs. W. forsooth! was, it seems a little piqued, that we did not pay her another, longer Visit (tho’ every succeeding Day was fully engaged) & as usual, imputed it to Pride! They have let their lodgings unfurnished, & I hope to comfortable Tenants –

As I have begun with news, I may as well go on with it, & leave my Argufications and Expostulations for another Place I have then, the pleasure to tell you that poor Mrs Mansel, who must henceforth be known as Mrs Biggs (her maiden name) is I hope comfortably provided for, thro’ the very kind endevors of the benevolent Mrs Scott in a very amiable family of her acquaintance, who reside near us – another thing you will perhaps not be sorry to hear, is that a certain Character mentioned in my last, has left England & will I suppose henceforth be employed in Military arrangements for the Patriots – Thus much for intelligence extraordinary!

Sincerely do I hope with you My dr Mrs A– that the most transient cloud may never cast a doubt on the sincerity of our Friendship – I think hitherto it has gained strength by time. – For I believe you will not suspect me of flattery, when I repeat, what I have so often declared that I think not a day ever passes in which you escape my Recollections or are excluded from my prayers – No! Heaven knows I feel the most earnest sollicitude for your happiness & would give any thing to procure you yt measure of permanent peace & Tranquility – permit me then once more to advert to the old Subject; permit me to express the heart felt pleasure I feel to find you say you have flung away your playthings. You confess they are but Opiates, which afford only a temporary delight Oh! my dr Madam – might you not discover something that instead of numbing you to the sense of Pain could produce a Sensation of Pleasure? Surely such a recipe is worth a little seeking for, and since so many others in similar Complaints, have experienced such salutary Effects, it would be extremely incredulous in you, to doubt, that the wounds which rankle in your Heart, might not be much alleviated by some of the friendly Balsam to which I allude.

At any rate, it must be confess’d that your present palliatives, if they do not hurt the constitution (which I very much suspect they do) can never eradicate the disease; besides which, they contribute to vitiate the Patients Taste, & direct his attention from better remedies – and as the Health of the Soul is, it must be confessed, an Object of the utmost magnitude it must be alone a source of the highest consolation to us, to reflect in a certain hour, that we cannot be charged with trifling or neglect, but employed our time & attentions, in consulting the best physician, & pursuing all the methods that were most likely to effect its’ ease & recovery. To drop however the Allegory which I have perhaps pursued too far, it gives me much Satisfaction to think that my dr Mrs A. takes pleasure in perusing the books lent for the instruction of my dr little Pupil – I hope Reason as well as Affection aided by a Teacher of whom we all have need, will concur to make you approve them, & if you will permit me to be your Librarian I hope it will be in my Power to furnish you thus from time to time. I am now in particular perusing a new publication which I wish you much to see, & if you approve, will send it when those you have, are gone through; as you are pleased to express approbation concerning the Texts I lent you, I [would] add the following, which I have since found, & think fully < > as the preceding –

Ist John 3 v. 16. Hereby perceive we the Love of God, because he laid down his life for us &c

Revelation 1. v.8 I am ye Alpha & Omega, the beginning & the ending, saith the Lord, which is & which was, & which is to come the Almighty. This should be considered with the whole of the Chapter.

I reached yest. as far as C.X. [Charing Cross] being elected to go thither by hearing unexpectedly that my Brother was returned to Woolwich! his departure was as much a Subject of surprize & consternation to them, it being too obvious from the whole of his Conduct that he was in a very improper State so that there is every reason to fear a repetition of this panful Scene I lately endured – You may easily conceive my dr Friend that I can not be insensible to the present melancholy situation he is in – there is at present I think little Reason to expect that his Life will be of long duration; or if it is prolonged, it will be in a distressful State, while his own unconsciousness of it; & impatience of control, make his Cousins & myself quite at a loss what means to have recourse to, for the reestablishment of his health – If such be the frequent Effects of Error, what gratitude should I feel for being so mercifully preserved from them! surely I have no right to repine at any Affliction – neither do I for myself, but I cannot help feeling for him – Poor Fellow! – When I reflect with what fair prospects he set out in life & how they are blighted at so early a Period! – My heart throbs, but it bleeds when I think of the evil probability there is of his leaving this World in a State so ill suited for another! – Surely this, (little as it is felt by the Gay & thoughtless,) is of all others the most distressing Consideration! – I must intreat you not to mention a syllable of this to Mr A. as I would not speak thus, to any but those in whom I have an unlimited confidence.

Adieu Dr Mdm – It is in vain to ask you to write soon – remember me to the dr Children & tell Anne I insist on an early reply from her.

M. E.

Text: Saffery/Whitaker Papers, acc. 142, I.A.2, Angus Library. Address: Mrs Andrews | Isleworth | Middlesex. 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. 10-12.