8 December 1811

John Taylor, Manchester, to Mary Ann Taylor, Broughton, [Sunday] 8 December 1811.

12 mo. 8, 1811.

[…] I wrote pretty soon after thy arrival at Broughton, in answer to thy letter informing us of it. Since then I have been in such a State of Mind, & had so much writing to do, & of such a particular kind, that my Mary Ann must excuse me when I tell her I could hardly make up my mind to write to her. The fact is, we have been engaged in a very violent war about the Lancasterian School. This began very soon after my Return from the West of England, & was continued till the Anniversary. To enter into all the particulars would be tedious.

[…] But I could not write to thee sooner, for while this School business was undetermined I could do nothing else. I could not rest night or day and have often on account of trouble of mind for the School & myself (but principally on account of myself) had very bad nights, getting up sometimes at midnight to write to O. Wood 3 long letters, besides other pieces of writing on this subject [...]

We want thee sadly to come home, or rather we want thee at home, for I would not wish thee to come till thou art filled, as Paul says, with thy friends company. I must tell thee that my friends say I have been too violent & personal in my opposition to Ottiwell Wood, & to have acted imprudently gives me great pain, for I feel condemnation of myself.

I am glad thou hast, as thou says, been introduced to thy Mother’s acquaintance. O, mayst thou be like her, only more happy! I wish thou hadst time to transcribe the little poems thou so much admires; the prose pieces will I hope be thy own, when thy kind friend has enjoyed them as long as her friends can wish in this world & is prepared for the blissful Society of her many highly valued Friends & the nobler employments of a better. My recollections concerning her are very painful to myself, very painful indeedHe only who knows my guilt & misery can remove it. O that I may be washed in that precious blood, that cleanseth from all sin! Tis true I never saw any comparable in my eyes to thy Mother, but my duplicity of conduct & carelessness of her peace wrings my Heart. I wish (together with my Son) to be affectionately remembered to thy Mother’s Friend.

When thou gettest to Portsmouth give my dear love to thy Uncle, Aunt, & their dear children, & write immediately, and I will write thee again without delay, I hope. Farewell, my dear love….

Text: Scott and Scott, A Family Biography, pp. 109-10; address page notes that letter was sent to ‘M. Duncombe’s, Broughton, near Stockbridge, Hants.’ For an annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 4, p. 307.