JUDITH SARGENT MURRAY to MERCY OTIS WARREN (1728–1814), Autographed Letter, March 1796

JUDITH SARGENT MURRAY to MERCY OTIS WARREN (1728–1814), Autographed Letter, March 1796

Judith Sargent Murray wrote this letter to the “celebrious” (that is, famous) Mercy Otis Warren of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Describing herself as a “humble adventurer .  .  . aspiring to [literary] distinction,” Murray invites the older playwright, poet, and essayist to subscribe in advance to The Gleaner, the collection of Murray’s work that appeared a year later. Calling Warren a “genius,” Murray describes herself as a “daughter of Columbia” seeking to follow in Warren’s “splendid footsteps.”

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society

JUDITH SARGENT MURRAY to MERCY OTIS WARREN (1728–1814), Autographed Letter, March 1796

Letter 620 To Mrs W– of P–
Boston Franklin Place March 4th 1797 

Respected Madam

Although I cannot boast the honor of a personal acquaintance with you, yet having repeatedly, with superior pleasure, perused the volume with which you have obliged the world, I trace in that invaluable publication, amid the brilliant manifestations of Genius so richly displayed, unequivocal demonstrations of mind fraught with that degree of candour, and benevolence, which may embolden a more humble adventurer in the career of fame, to look with confidence for your sanction to attempts originating in an ardent solicitude to please, and cherished and matured, by the emulative glow, so frequently enkindled by great examples. When the virtues are combined with talents, admiration is then the growth of reason, and justice delighteth to entwine for the brow of merit, thus established, her ever blooming chaplets. Yes, honored Lady, it is most true – “To lead the envied way is thine” But tracing thy splendid footsteps, the daughters of Columbia become ambitious of some reflected ray, by which to point the lengthening view, with wide expansion out spread before them, and the literary Votary, aspiring to distinction will sedulously seek to authorize her pretensions, by the celebrious name of Warren. It is hence, Madam, the inclosed proposals meet your eye, and if you will condescend to propitiate the wishes of the Gleaner, by your own signature and that of any of your numerous friends, you will confer a very high obligation upon one, who hath wept over your misfortunes, who hath been improved, and charmed by your “Fame embellished lays”, who breaths a fervid wish for your continued, and augmenting celerbrity, and who has the honor to be, with great respect, and high esteem your most obedient &c &c