20 November 1795

Mary Steele, Broughton, to the Revd Russell Scott, Portsmouth, [Friday] 20 November 1795.

Dr Sir,

I must have appeared very negligent & unfriendly, I doubt, in so long deferring to send the Drawings…. I have divided them as equally as I could between us, as Mr. Taylor told me he did not wish that any of them should be sent to Sherborne. I shall send 2 boxes of them according to your direction by Rook’s Waggon from Romsey on Tuesday next. I thought it best to write by Post to inform you of it. I sincerely thank you for your very kind Letter. I read it with feelings congenial to your own. To the latest hour of life your beloved Sister’s Memory will be dear to me, & it was a soothing, sad indulgence to weep over the Effusion of a Brother’s Sorrow for her. Nothing but the full Conviction of her Earthly Comfort being for ever destroyed could have reconciled my Mind even in the degree it is to our separation tho indeed there is one thought that above all others should check the rising murmur, that it is the Will of God.

You know, I presume, that I was favoured with a Visit from the Dear Children& you will imagine what I felt, when folding the Dear Girl in my Arms, I could scarcely help fancying her Blessed Mother was looking down upon us from the Regions of felicity. Notwithstanding the restraints of Education I could trace many resembling traits in her Infant Mind. They both of them appear to me to possess Capacities much above the common. Ah! how much is it to be regretted that their opening faculties should be cramped by that cold & rigid System their Father has adopted. A Love of Truth & Benevolence, however, he will assiduously endeavour to instill. – I find he is not removed from Bristol, & mean soon to enquire for their welfare, which my Absence has prevented for some time. I earnestly wished to know the fate of the Papers, but could not take the liberty of speaking to Mr. T. on the Subject when I saw him.

I should be happy to have an interview with you either Here or at Yeovil…. I hope we may one day mutually augment the little treasure so dear to Affection; my Stock, alas, is but small, tho to me invaluable…. I beg my Compts to Mrs. Scott, and am, Dr Sir, with the sincerest good wishes, yr Obliged &c.

M. Steele

Text: See Scott and Scott, A Family Biography, pp. 71-72. For an annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 3, pp. 340. In 1908, Isabella and Catherine Scott, the compilers of the history of the Scott family, had in their possession several books of poetry by Mary Scott (much like the books of poetry recorded by Mary Steele and now in the Steele Collection) as well as a collection of letters by and to Mary Scott. The historian Herbert McLachlan saw these materials in the late 1920s when he wrote his article on the Scotts and Taylors. Unfortunately, the the whereabouts of the poetry is not known today and was most likely destroyed at some point.