1812 January 18

Eliza Fenwick, [5 Tavistock Square], to Mary Hays, Wandsworth Common, Saturday, 18 January [1812].1

Saturday Jany 18th

I appear to have neglected you, I know not why for your last letter afforded tha me that dear yet melancholy satisfaction which is among the highest of my gratifications. I could wish you would always talk to me of yourself, of your feelings past & present, for you spread out the page of so rich and fair a mind that it is delight to read it notwithstanding the painful sympathy its misfortunes awaken. The most chilling sensation I know arising from common place causes is not to be understood. That has been one source of my discomfort in my dependent state. I am not understood at all better than you, perhaps less so, yet devoid of the affinity that lessens distance & creates habits of familiarity I am may perhaps be less exposed to liberties. It does sometimes give me fits of absolute spleen to feel myself confounded with ordinary A B C teachers & to know that the best exertions I can make are only considered as the repetition of the by-rote lessons I myself learnt in the days of my youth at School – Ah well it will be all the same a hundred years hence & if you & I could contrive in the interim some plan to spend our old age together I think we could shut out some casualties that now too often intrude on our repose. I know not how it is but the likelihood of Elizas marrying never comes across my thoughts except when named by you or the many others who persevere in saying the same thing. The Planters & West India people live beyond their incomes & are obliged to look out for fortunes. Her profession is against her particularly with her temper. She will not play on the senses till she secure him a cover on her own terms. She has but one straight path in every aim & she will not associate with men who capable perhaps of understanding or appreciating her single heartedness. I believe I told you of her having an offer a short time before she went away from a young man just going to be established as a Printer by his friends. Notwithstanding her refusal he retains a strong interest in her welfare & called on me the other day to ask if I had heard of her safety.

I cannot thank you sufficiently for the kindness & judgment evinced in your letter to Essex.2 After all I begin to doubt if weak minded people are capable of true friendship. I am sure they cannot exercise its rights with propriety. It will be indeed extraordinary if Eliza does not find respect & comfort at Barbadoes with such pains taken for her. I begin now to feel the tardiness of days. It is 10 weeks on Monday since she left us & nine to day since she sailed from the Downs. Sureless Surely her letters must be now on their passage to England & I am not unreasonable in calculating that early in next month we shall hear from her. I have not been at Lambs since I had yr letter, for indeed except to walk in the square which I scar rarely omit I seldom go out, and I know they have neither Kehanna nor The vision. The Cid they have I believe and I will endeavour to call there very soon to procure it.3 I borrowed Kehanna from Miss Beetham, but she is out of Town with her newly married brother & indeed since I have lived here I have not kept up my acquaintance with her because my spare time only allows me to see one or two persons.

Orlando sends his best & kindest love to you & all the family. He still works hard but all his comforts are over at home I believe Mr F— does not persevere in sobriety. Poor fellow his eyes often fill with tears when he bids me good night & thinks of the forlorn comforts place he is going home too He writes me a letter every evening & expresses himself with great freedom & sweetness. When does the school open? you did not mention in your last. He has made much progress in his drawing but I shall not be sorry when the time comes of his return to school, so uncomfortable does the idea of his fathers irregularities make me.

No letter yet from your brother. I still hope

God bless you! Pray write to me.



When do you come to Russel Square?

1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 56-57; not in Brooks, Correspondence.

2 Apparently, Mary Hays had written to John Dunkin, Jr., in Essex, most likely seeking his aid on behalf of Orlando Fenwick.

3 Reference is to Robert Southey's The Curse of Kehama (1811), Sir Walter Scott's The Vision of Don Roderick (1811), and Corneille's The Cid (republished in 1810-11).