Eliza Fenwick, London, to Mary Hays, 3 Park Street, Islington, [c. January 1808].1
My dear friend
I set out on Tuesday Evening to come to you but before I had reached the end of St John Street a drizzling rain had so penetrated my Plaid Cloak that I thought it unsafe to proceed Since that night I have had no opportunity.
Were you at ease my unfortunate & ill used friend, at this moment I should feel such an unabated swell of satisfaction my poor heart would bewilder my head. Fortune seems to turn her wheel in our favour. Yr kindness seems to have set the fickle goddess an example she resolves to emulate. Eliza is offer’d an Irish engagement in which every thing is as we wish. The line of acting in which she is most successful is to be exclusively her own. She is to be engag’d for one year certain at two guineas pr week & three benefits in the course of the year. At the end of it, it is to be at her option to renew her engagement for another year with an advance of Salary. The two Managers are equally pleased with her & are so anxious to have her that they give me no time scarcely for deliberation. This evening, they have sent me word, they will bring the Agreement & hope we shall be ready to sign them.
As to deliberation on the advantage it needs none, for if I could have selected
the ^a^ place & line of acting it is that I should have prefer’d to all others. At the end of 2 years practice she will be able to command her future situation. Mrs Skinner wife to one Manager came with them, & they all say it is absolutely necessary I shd go with her. They tell me the Irish are vehement in their hospitality encouragement & patronage at benefits of a young actress if respectable in her character, & that my being on the spot will be her passport among the first families. Inclination seconds duty. Belfast is a very very cheap place We can live on less than her Salary & I shall have time to write & not be compell’d to eat up my money before I have earn’d it. The expence of going is a sad weight but they talk of her ^three^ benefits being worth at least, they say, £250. The money therefore your kindness has gathered for me, I shall apply advantageously to fitting her out & going with her if it were only a trial it wd be different but a positive engagement is all that was wanted to ensure her & our prosperity. I shall come to you for an hour on Sunday morning, we are to dine with Lambs but I must see you both to consult you on my affairs & if possible to soothe your affliction. Let it rejoice you my friend that you have established the prosperity of a good & deserving girl, for but for your late efforts I must have refused their offers & I really believe it wd have killed her she has of late fretted so much at her keeping in my hands. They are pleasant people & Mr Leyton is a very clever sensible man.
I had begun this when [Speening?] came in. God bless you
Address: Miss Hays
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 22-23; not in Brooks, Correspondence.