Eliza Fenwick, London, to Mary Hays, 3 Park Street, Islington, Thursday evening, c. 1806.1
This is a species of cross purposes: daily have I been reproaching you for not coming to see me, or at least writing to me – You, I said, who had a constant leisure, ^such^ a tranquil measurement of time that you could <–> anticipate the occupations & almost the contingencies of every coming day might do that which I, plunged into an unceasing tumult found to be impossible. Now however I take reproach to myself & feel that I ought to have advertized you of the situation in which I stand. Though I cannot with justice, perhaps say that every day has been completely occupied since I saw you last, yet I can strictly aver no one has been at perfect liberty, for if disengaged from Eliza’s affairs or my own work I have been languid & disordered from the fatigue they induce, or have been expecting some claim from which in propriety I could not withdraw. Elizas pursuit, in which I have the satisfaction to say she makes most promising advances, does not allow me to call any day my own. She has played several characters, & as she dresses them herself (as being far less expensive than hiring
them ^dresses^) I am obliged sometimes to assist her in those preparations. Attending rehearsals, being subject to calls & consultations from others concerned, all compleatly enslave me, for I make a point (& she does also) never to leave her without my presence in any of those circumstances. Independent of all this am I obliged to work at any thing & every thing I can get however disagreeable, or narrow in the profits because I am incurring heavy expences in her behalf; and some most unpleasant jobs I have had. I submit to these circumstances, & many deprivations without murmur because I foresee an advantageous termination. It is much my desire to keep Eliza in town, playing at the private theatres till Christmas if I can accomplish it, otherwise (that is if I have not employment before me sufficient to bear the expence) she will go next month either to Southampton or Guernsey, I am anxious she should practise much, before she goes into the Country because her timidity is so extreme it frequently robs her of her powers. The fatigue of remaining several hours behind the scenes & the heat of those places are injurious to my health. Last night she played Lady Anne in Richard III & Marianna in the Miser,2 & to day I have been quite disabled with one of my worst headaches or your letter wd have been answered some hours earlier. Tomorrow I have an appointment with Phillips3 & Saturday I must assist Eliza in preparations for the dress of Miss Blandford4 which she plays next Wednesday, but as you will not object to my using the needle in your presence if you will come & spend the day here on Saturday it will afford me a pleasure beyond what I can readily express. If you are engaged on Saturday come Monday or Tuesday for it will be quite out of my power to come to you till after Wednesday & we partly expect to be called to a rehearsal on Thursday of another piece in which she is to take a part.
If I do not hear from you appointing one of the latter days I shall expect you to dine with me on Saturday. And pray come as early as you can.
Dear Mary – I trust days will come when we shall enjoy each others society; & have the added happiness of looking back on our days of warfare, as a painful dream from which we have awoke to peace & security.
God bless you & believe me even when long absent & silent affectionately
yrs E Fenwick
Address: Miss Hays | 3 Park Street | Islington
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 16-18; not in Brooks, Correspondence.
2 References are to characters in Shakespeare's Richard III and Moliere's The Miser.
3 The publisher Richard Phillips, for whom both Fenwick and Hays had had a long and somewhat turbulent business affiliation.
4 Miss Blandford was a character in Thomas Morton's play, Speed the Plough (1800). It was the same character that was the initial role of Elizabeth Poe, mother of Edgar Allan Poe, at the Boston Theatre on 13 October 1806.