Eliza Fenwick, London, to Mary Hays, at Thomas Hays, Esqr, Wandsworth Common, Sunday, 10 o’clock, [c. June 1811].1
Sunday 10 oClock
For fear of accidents, I deemed it best to cut the enclosed notes. I dare say the Post is a safe conveyance but my misfortunes render me timid & suspicious of evil. I believe I should really be distracted to lose this sum & in such desperate Circumstances as mine over-caution is scarcely a weakness. What a state of
mid mind I have been in since Wednesday. Afer Lanno was gone Eliza told me she intended seeing a manager from Barbadoes who was in town & wd go with him if they cd agree. I helpless wretched I could not say ought against it, so I begged Mrs M— to spare me for three hours that I might go with Eliza to this dreaded interview on thursday. I did, and the man seemed prepossessed in her favor, but wished to see her play & the means of that was to be consider’d of. He said she must enter into a bond for three years service & threw out some remarks of surprise at her venturing alone & unprotected on such an enterprise. When Eliza & I parted that morning, I seemed to have consigned her to something worse than her grave, but I said not a syllable in dissuasion. Last night I recd from her a note of which I make an extract for you
My dearest Mother,
Compared with what I was yesterday & the day before I am happy. I have determined not to go to Barbadoes and my mind is easy. As soon as you left me & I began to think of going without you to such a distance I felt very nearly out of my senses. It was a mad scheme. We have but one happiness in our possession, in this world, & to throw that away wd be to deserve the punishment it would inflict. You cannot leave Lanno without sacrificing his hopes & forcing him to be as unfortunate as ourselves. I shd not like to separate from him the only two years we are likely to be together, but for the sake of Money to help him, I would submit, but I wd not, could not part with you, perhaps indeed never to meet again, for millions. We will do the best we can, if I can get a Country engagement, and if not I will try teaching & authorship – We will work & starve together – together we will remain. Be happy, very happy for we have no hopes! Fortune will never smile on us & we must be happy without her. It is only people who have no real troubles that are allowed to pet, to make the world even. Do you know I think I am not always in my steady senses. I now feel a Joy in repeating I will not go to Barbadoes, yet I sought the opportunity as if it were to constitute the felicity of my life & when the prospect was before me I feared it as some people do death – My dearest Mother what shd I be without you!”
Whether to call this a relief I know not I am so bewildered,
that so hopeless, that I dreadful as the separation would be I almost fancy I ought to counsel my poor girl to fly far from me & the contagion of my miseries. Sometimes I imagine that the dreadful & unnatural curse Mr F. laid on Eliza in the wantonness of his spleen against me, cleaves to & overwhelms her. It is certainly a moral truth that the sins of the Parents must in some shape or other be visited upon the heads of the Children.
I have requested this afternoon to go to Town to meet Eliza at Godwins, after a long mornings work in which every sentence I uttered seemed to exhaust me & leave me without the possibility of speaking again.
My depression of spirits is so great that I cannot write to Lanno as I meant to do. Perhaps by the next post conveying the remainder of the notes I may be better able to address a few lines to him. Adieu dear Mary. Forgive me for being thus always troublesome to you.
Yrs ever E F
Mr Harris has confirmed Elizas dismissal. So no more hopes remain in that quarter. Mr Colman2 wd have engaged her had she applied in time for the Haymarket Season. So they kept her in indecision just long enough to effect the utmost possible mischief.
Address: Miss Hays | T. Hays Esqr | Wandsworth Common
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 36-37; not in Brooks, Correspondence.
2 George Colman (1762-1836) succeeded his father as manager of the Haymarket Theatre in 1789; he was also a prolific playwright.