Mary Steele Dunscombe, [Broughton,] to Mary Steele Tomkins, Abingdon, undated (c. 1803).

As I have so good an Opportunity I cannot forbear sending a line to My Dear Mary to tell her that I often, very often think of her & wish for her Company especially in the Garden where I should be delighted to ramble with her – We have no flowers to gather ^yet^ but every day now presents us with some new beauty some newly opened leaves or some plant sprung up since last Yesterday. – The verdure steals over the Hedge & the Arbor by imperceptible degrees till at length we feel a sort of surprise at beholding them covered with foliage & bloom; & thus my Dear girl should the beautiful Mind be silently & gradually improving in knowledge & virtue – how pleasant to be acquiring ^new^ Ideas daily, or dropping like the autumnal leaves some folly or some prejudice – I was very much pleased to find you so fond of Herveys Meditations – His reflections in a flower Garden are beautiful & just & I dare say you often think of them when tending your flowers or rambling about the delightful scenes that surround you – Religion, as you my dearest Mary have been early taught, is not a gloomy but a cheerful enlivening Subject, what can be more so than the Idea of a Father infinitely kind & Good as well as Wise who whilst he showers around us a thousand enjoyments here invites ^us^ to still nobler ones hereafter – but I shall tire you. I only meant to remind ^you^ of my Affection & to say that your Momma will not ^I hope^ forget her (I think almost) promise of sparing you to me a little while before you go to School. You will I doubt not be glad to see Lucy I wish I could accompany her & so will Emma too will rejoice to see her Friend I dare say – I wish I could see you all – it would much gratify me to receive a Letter from you tho I have little very little to say that can amuse my Dr Girl – What Books are you reading? Do you continue to love Music? & how goes ^on your^ little Trade of Benevolence? I was much pleased with it – I have written badly but Momma will decypher if you cannot. You must give my Love to Dear little Emma. Uncle D I am sure would send his in abundance to you did he know I was writing. Adieu my Dear Girl. Do not forget to keep a little Corner in your Heart for your Affectionate Aunt & sincere Friend

Mary Dunscombe

Text: STE 5/13/ii. No postmark. Address: Miss Mary Steele Tomkins / Oakley House. For an annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 3, p. 353. Letter occurs just prior to Mary Steele Tomkins’s departure for boarding school at Sarah Norton Biggs’s establishment in Peckham that fall.