1810 (Fall)

Mary Steele Dunscombe, [Broughton,] to Anne Steele Tomkins, undated (c. fall 1810).

My Dear Sister

It is long very long since I addressed you & many kind Letters am ^I^ in your debt – ^but I^ am unable to discharge my obligations in this respect as well as others but I cannot content myself without sending a line. Mr T will give you but a poor account of me – I feel like a poor drowning Wretch who the moment his head rises above water a fresh billow rolls over him & he sinks again – if I am better for a day I dont some little agitation or other overcomes me & I become as ^bad as^ ever – I want more Strength more fortitude – but the infinitely wise & good Being who ordereth all things according to the Counsels of his wisdom knows what situation is most solitary for us &

Tis but to wait with patience

A few sad hours a few more painful steps

And Lifes fatiguing pilgrimage is o’er,

Oh could I with unshaken hope declare

Then shall my nobler powers awake to Life

To Life & Joy in &c &c

Mr T will tell you of Mr Ds difficulties &c – for myself the mere acquisition or demonstration of wealth would little effect me but circumstances connected with it render it painful – I fear Mr D will wear himself out – it has already affected his health nor will ^it^ I fear produce any favorable change in any respect yet his mind ^is^ in a religious point ^of view^ in a most enviable state & while he has pain’d me about triffles he has conversed with a calmness & devotion of Spirit that has delighted & astonished me. – I did not intend this when I began but I say it to you only – I meant when I began only to express my ardent wishes that your change of Abode may be accompanied with every blessing – Oh may we meet in Peace & Comfort! I expect Miss Coltman about the time of your removal – with this I send a couple of little Books for Anne & Jane if you should approve of them if not put them by – I wish I had somewhat to send my Dear Emma but my love is not the less for my poverty and

If Puss were conscious of the honors

Which Painting has bestowd conferrd upon her

She too would scratch her thanks, & send

A message to her artist Friend

But Puss can neither write nor spell

Nor I translate her language well.

So silent both we must remain

Till we shall see her here our friend again.

My Love to my Sister M with thanks for her kind Letter & still kinder visit – She will I hope excuse my not having answer’d the former as she knows the state I am in – Once more with Love to you all. I remain my Dr Sister

Faithfully Yours


Text: STE 5/11/viii. No postage page. For an annotated text of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 3, pp. 378-79. This letter was written sometime in the fall of 1810. The Tomkins had been living at Bath but were moving once again, this time to Bevis Hill, near Southampton. They would live in three homes during their stay at Southampton, before eventually settling in Broughton House after the death of Mary Steele. Another factor in dating the letter is the reference to Elizabeth Coltman, who was visiting in Broughton in November 1810. Poetic lines are taken from Anne Steele’s poem, ‘The Pilgrim’, in Poems on Subjects Chiefly Devotional (1780), vol. 2, p. 58.