28 October 1811

John Taylor, Manchester, to Mary Ann Taylor, [postmark 28 October 1811].

Dr M. A.,—

After long expectation, we recd with great pleasure thy letter last first day morning, as I was going to Meeting. We thought it a long time, but thou wast as I supposed with thy Cousins at Melbury. I am pleased thou hast had a jaunt to Weymouth, a place so much talked of, and also with the Enquiries of some of my old friends thou meetest with here & there, of whom we may talk more when we have thee at home. And when dost thou think of setting thy face towards it?...

I am pleased with the arrangement thou hast made for going to Broughton & Portsmouth, only I expect it will not be in thy power to accomplish it. Thou cannot go to Broughton till our friends are at home to receive thee.

… Since I wrote the above I have waited about a fortnight in hopes of hearing from thee, and now have received thy letter. Awful indeed is the Intelligence it contains; but I may say, in consequence of what Mary Dunscombe had told me, I was not very much surprized at it. Thos. Dunscombe had such an attack before, as had for more than a week affected his faculties a good deal and almost deprived him of Memory, that I was convinced he would never again be like himself. But indeed the Change is awfully sudden, tho’ the mind might not have been wholly unprepared to expect it. Tell Mary D. of my tender sympathy with her in her present affliction. And indeed, little as I have known of the circumstances of her fate since I left the West of England, I cannot help thinking, that she as well as her friend thy Mother, from the circumstance of both their Husbands having relinquished the profession in which they were accepted as future Husbands and other matters, they must have experienced considerable course of trial, but I am sensible the path of my Wife must have been incomparably more trying. The history both of Thos. Dunscombe and myself has often furnished, & I believe ever will furnish to me while I have memory, matter of serious & of deep Reflection.

I think thy reasons are good for making some longer stay at Broughton, if, when thou hast been there awhile, Mary Dunscombe desires it. But she has a wide circle not only of Acquaintances but Relations, so that unless thou finds a longer Visit in some degree necessary for her consolation in her Affliction, I should think a fortnight long enough. Indeed I do not know that she ever expected thee to stay a longer time.

We go on as comfortably as we can without thy company, and Fanny is quite determined to do her best till her Mistress comes home. Affairs about Snapehill are very bad among the families. Farewell my dear love; always keep a Conscience void of offence both towards God & man; O that I had done so!

J. T.

Text: Scott and Scott, A Family Biography, pp. 108-09; see also pp. 104-07, for five other letters by Taylor to Mary Ann between 1803 and 1808, some written during her time in boarding school in Liverpool. Thomas Dunscombe died at Farringdon on 4 October 1811, just a few weeks prior to Taylor’s letter. For an annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 4, p. 306.