Mary Steele Dunscombe, Broughton, to Mary Steele Tomkins, Peckham, near London, [Wednesday] 16 November .
As I am deprived of the pleasure of seeing my dear Mary I cannot forbear sending her a line to remind her of an Aunt who fondly loves her & to enquire how she does & ^how^ she likes school.
I missed you very much when I visited Oakley for tho I was pleased to see dear little Emma frolic around me yet we both wanted you. I never walked in the Garden without wishing for you to tell me the names of the plants as you used to do but however your improvement my dear Girl must reconcile all your friends to your absence & I hope you will never forget that this ^is^ the great end to be obtained by being at School – but however desirable the acquisition of knowledge & elegant accomplishments there is nothing I hope my Dear Mary will ^never^ forget is far more needful: a regard to that great & good Being from whom all our enjoyments flow – His Idea should be associated in our minds with all that is excellent with all that is desirable. I hope you do not neglect to read your Bible especially the New Testament, there you will find that the Benevolent Saviour has said Suffer little Children to come unto me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
This evening we expect your Grandmama Aunt & Mr Evans – I wish very much that I could pencil in your Papa & Momma to bring you hither at Christmass but I fear they will not be able to make it convenient – you will see some alterations when you come next to Broughton. We are draining the Marsh which will make it much pleasanter & I hope you will be able to run about ^on^ it by next Summer. The River too will ^be^ made to wind in Sight – Lucy has had a bad cold but is better – her Garden has wanted your assistance this Autumn. She & Uncle D too both long to see you.
Have you heard that I have a new little Pony quiet enough I think for Emma to Ride. Your Momma rode it & liked it as I hope you will do next Summer.
What are your favorite Books? I hope you will tell me about it as we used to say. Uncle sends you his kindest regards & is always happy to hear of you which we sometimes do from Mr Mullett – Lucy desires her Love you will give my kind regards to Mrs Biggs. I need not say that it gives me great ^pleasure^ that you have such a Governess. You cannot love & revere ^her^ too much – When you have time (as I know you must be much employed) you will I hope favor me with a Letter. Write just as you would talk to me – do not mind form & order. I have not to you you see, but have filled my paper with Chit chat – Farewell my Dear Girl amidst the many kind Friends who claim your love & gratitude reserve a Corner of your heart for your very Affectionate Aunt
P.S. Your Grandmama & Aunt both desire their Love. They are quite well & so are all at Oakley. Grandmama says she shall rejoice to see you. I fear my Dr Girl will have some difficulty to read my Scrawl my pen is bad
Broughton Novbr 16th
Text: STE 5/13/iii. Postmark: Stockbridge, 17 November 1803. Address: To / Miss Mary Steele Tomkins / Mrs Biggs’s Peckham near / London. For an annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 3, pp. 355-56. Mary Tomkins was ten years of age.