30 July 1793

Mary Egerton Scott, London, to Maria Grace Andrews and Anne Andrews, Salisbury, [Tuesday], 30 July 1793.

July 30 1793

I sincerely thank my Dr Sister for her kind Letter, & am truly sorry for the occasion of her long silence. I can easily suppose that the uncommon degree of heat we have lately had would prove injurious to your health, & am indeed surprized to think I have been but little affected by it.

I congratulate you my Dr Friend, that the hopes you have so long entertained, are at length fulfilled in seeing Dr Anna at Salisbury – and I sincerely wish you may enjoy all that comfort in each other’s Society which Imagination no doubt has often anticipated – but all our comforts in this life are so mixed with alloy, & happiness so greatly depends on the state of our own mind, that we often are disappointed in those very things from which we may most reasonably promise ourselves great satisfaction.

Thus I know I have often found it in long looked for interviews with my dearest friends – & thus I find it in a measure at this time – the employment of which would naturally afford me much gratification were it not for the discordant state of my own mind – Alas! what poor, wretched creatures we are, & what trivial circumstances suffice to untune the Instrument which touched a few hours before, would perhaps have afforded pleasing harmony – It will indeed never cease to Jar, till joined to that blessed Choir above, where Sin will never interrupt the perfect Unity that prevails.

Two Evenings’s ago, I sat down to converse with my beloved Grace in a calm & placid frame of Mind – but I had not written 5 lines when a violent pain (arising from a decayed Tooth with which I lately suffered much) obliged me to desist – To day, (I am ashamd to say I hardly know why or wherefore), my mind seems so differently disposed, that it is quite an effort to me to write, & I certainly should not have proceeded so far, if it were not for the idea that my dr Friends will certainly be impatient & dissatisfied if I presume a longer Silence – Perhaps a little time ago, had I written the dictates of my heart, I should have expatiated on the delightful Subject of the Lord’s gracious dealings and wonderful bounty to a most vile unworthy creature – now – if I were to speak all I feel & know, it would be to declare to you the base Ingratitude of a Soul, who of all others has the greatest cause for humility, praise & love – but I forbear to enlarge on so unedifying a Subject – and would rather, if I knew how, join with my friend in something that might be more for the glory of the God we profess to serve, & the edification of our own Souls – for, however soothing it may be to Self to see the hidden corruptions of those our partiality leads us to think well of, it by no means tends to animate our endeavors or excite our ardor, in fighting the good fight of faith.

It surprises me to find you speak of living so much in Solitude. I should have supposed that in your present situation you have enjoyed a good deal of Xian Society, & as to any other I do not conceive you can form a wish for it – I am aware however, that this is not always so easily to be met with, as we are at first ready to imagine – There is so much imperfection in the best of characters – so many prejudices, so many obstacles in the way – that it is but seldom we enjoy the pure sublime delight which arises from fervent love of the Brethren. Conformity to this present evil World which is too visible in the mass of professors, is no doubt one great hindrance in this respect – were there more simplicity – less ostentation, & observance of frivolous ceremonies &c we should no doubt meet & converse together with more freedom & comfort. At least I know, this is much the case in London, where iniquity may truly be said to abound & the love of many to wax cold – but I must not say any thing more to prejudice you against the place of my residence. I see that in this I have succeeded but too well. You seem alarmed at the thoughts of visiting us – yet I trust in Chapel St. you would not be exposed to those Temptations with which the Metropolis abound – and that if not interrupted by the evil of our own Hearts, we should enjoy together a degree of Satisfaction superior to any we ever yet experienced with each other – but I suppose this is a pleasure, I must not presume to hope for, or else I should be more importunate in requesting it.

You will say I am never satisfied especially the Sp. State of your aged friends – what is much worse you have dealt very cruelly with me by suffering Anne to excite my curiosity (the most restless passion in the female Breast) by saying “That Grace will inform you of some circumstances in which I doubt not you feel yourself interested” – and lo! when the Letter comes, these circumstances are as I conceive passed over in Silence – I hope your next my dr friend which I shall expect soon to receive will be more intelligent – at present I must conclude my Letter, the most stupid perhaps I ever sent you (having written it at 4 or 5 different times) with commending you to the God of all Grace, & assuring you of the sincerest regard of yr very affecte Sister

M. Scott

Aug. 2 1793

I should have answered your kind Letter before my Dr Anne, but waited in daily expectation of a Letter from your Sister, which I supposed in consequence of what you said would have contained something that would require a particular reply – herein however I have been disappointed, & must wait another Epistle for the unfolding this mystery – but as my dr Sister is sensible that I must be tenderly concerned in all those circumstances which materially interest her, I hope you will not keep back, those “things which in your last you said were very near your Heart & that you wished much to impart to me” but were prevented by want of Time & Paper.

I am extremely glad to find that, after all your disappointments, fears & mortifications, you at length arrived safe at Sarum & found the Lord so much better to you than all your fears – Alas my Dr friend we are too apt to distrust him, and not to see the evil of this Sin till reiterated proofs of his care and goodness tend to make us ashamed of our ingratitude and < > – I sincerely hope that this Visit will prove < > productive of much mental gratification from conversing with your dr Sister but really prove of essential benefit to your Soul. I am sure I often lament the very unfavorable Situation in which you are placed as well knowing the difficulties & dangers that beset the Christian race, I cannot but tremble for all those who are both destitute of the outward means of grace & surrounded with mistaken & ensnaring Companions – for such must all those be, however moral & amiable, who are Enemies to the Cross of Christ – Oh! my Dr Sister may the Lord < > loss for Him, & give you to feel as well as to see, that without his Smile nothing can make us peaceful & happy.

I have the pleasure to tell you, that we are (thro’ mercy) all in tolerable health & spirits – My dr Mr S. (whose time is still occupied in publishing) desires his love to yourself & Sister – which I had not room to mention in my Letter to her – The children also unite in kind remembrance to you. Susan is returned from D. Hill much better than when she went, being now able to sit, & converse with us as before – She also, would be kindly remembered –

I wish to know what was the last number you received of the little periodical publications, as when an opportunity offers I shall be glad to convey to you the remainder – pray write to me soon & let me know all that concerns you, how you spend your time? when you think of returning to Isleworth &c &c as there are not now the usual impediments to our unlimited correspondence – besides I wish to know what hopes I may venture to indulge of a verbal intercourse with you, as many months are now elapsed since I enjoyed that satisfaction.

I am sensible my dr Anne I have written a very insipid Letter – but these things must plead my excuse. In the first place, I have nothing interesting to impart – in the 2d I write just after Dinner – in the third I am much distressed with the Toothache – The next time I sit down to converse with you, I hope it please God, I shall be delivered from these difficulties. In the mean time I would assure you, that I am, with unfeigned prayers for your spiritual & eternal welfare, my Dr Anne

Yr very affecte friend & Sister

Mary Scott

Text: Reeves Collection, Box 14.8.(i.), Bodleian Library, Oxford. Address: Miss Andrews | Mr Hardings | Exeter Street | Sarum. Postmark: illegible; 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. 53-56. By the date of this letter, Maria Grace, a resident at Salisbury for at least a year and a half, was joined by her sister Anne.