1825 August 7
Eliza Fenwick, 663 Broadway, New York, to Mary Hays, Vanbrugh Castle, Maze Hill, Blackheath, 7 August 1825.1
663 Broadway New York
Augst 7th 1825
My very dear Friend
So little distressed am I for writing either in body or mind that I could scarcely touch my pen but on account of Mr Huoly’s immediate departure for England – still dear England! Since our removal to this vast City Mrs Rutherford has had a long and dangerous illness. Her old complaint of determination of blood to the chest & brain has been attended with so much internal inflamation as seemed to baffle all medical skill & to defy the efforts of ^constant^ bleedings, blisterings, starvings &c &c; by which she is reduced to almost infantine weakness. It is also judged by now that her liver is affected. I came to this City high in hope. It was an enterprise (though a costly one) that augur’d well, & every friend who desired to promote our success
there assured me that our commencement was unusually favorable. I was warned not to expect more than two or three scholars for the first few months, which has been the general routine of the most flourishing schools, yet we received 13 pupils in the course of the first month & heard a considerable increase spoken of, for the conclusion of the hot weather – Such hot weather never has been known in the memory of the oldest persons, & the spread of yellow fever, has sent everyone out of town that could do it conveniently. Though alarmed at the high rent, & the immoderate rate of Servants wages, my courage was ready to bear me through till Eliza fell sick. That event struck so deeply into the root of our enterprise, that added to excessive bodily fatigue, my mind has become depressed, & I can look only at the gloomy side of the question; and dwell on painful forebodings. Yet when I reflect, I ought with thankfulness, to prize the blessing granted me in uncommonly good health, through which I have struggled under the most laborious (for bulkey me) occupations. Out of two servants one (a Countrywoman, whom I received from compassion as a widow with helpless unfriended Children, supplied her with clothes & money to place her Children out) robbed me & was turned away, & the other insulted, & quitted me; so there I was left destitute of all assistance in a large & lofty house, except that of a little girl, for upwards of a fortnight. In that dilemma, I was compelled to give a vacation, which we had announced not to do before the expiration of six months. Hordes of Irish Women are flocking to this country bringing their natural pride & want of industry, & adding thereto the distressing spirit of insubordination & insolence that pervades the class of people here, destined to be servants, & labourers. While the Blacks & Mulattoes are stepping so far above slavery, that they even outrun the whites in their independence, & deficiance defiance of any ^thing^ like humility. The inconceivable influx of strangers to this city makes such a demand for servants that good & bad are almost equally sure of places, & the community are now looking about for means to obviate ^lessen^ in some degree this species of domestic misery. Every one complains, & laments, & severely experiences the same difficulties, & therefore I do hope that some remedy may be found by wiser heads than mine before long.
When shall I hear from you? I think the further I advance into the vale of life the closer my recollections cling to the dear intercourse of past days. Never can I hope [for] its personal renewal & I take shame to myself that I allow long intervals to pass without maintaining my share of this remote yet precious communion, but I am overwhelmed with petty cares which consume my spirits, & devour my time. You too complain of reluctance to
write the act of writing yet your hinderances cannot equal mine. We have made but few new acquaintance here in New York and yet many of my old London Associations revive. We are in the upper part of the town where it is pleasant & airy. The neighborhood is new, the houses handsome, & are so rapidly engaged that rents are very high, & we are told that in a short space we shall find ourselves in the Centre of the City; though now our house is one of two Marble buildings, with an occupied space, for building, on each side. New York is rapidly encreasing in wealth. We see constant signs of plenty, & even of splendor, but Courtly Magnificence or beggarly poverty is nowhere visible. Like all great cities it has its lurking holes for the meanest & the basest no doubt; & I miss the rough simplicity of Connecticut.
Mrs R. has come down stairs to-day but with difficulty. A more even pulse than she has yet had, promises a step toward recovery. She must change the air as soon as she can support the motion of a carriage.
I at length have made the bold resolution of sending the Demarary children home. Three of them I sent in June the fourth is still here. All my West India Debts are still in arrears & gradually becoming more & more hopeless. My most active friend Mr Huoly,2 has quitted Barbadoes, has visited us in America, has been to the Lake & falls & tomorrow sets sail for England, from thence to Ireland to visit his mother from whom he has been many years separated. I am not sure that he will call on you. He is
strangely ^curiously^ shy of strangers for a Man that has been much out in the world. He has two never dying claims on my regard – one a constant zeal for my welfare, & the other having been a favorite with Orlando!
Farewell Dear Mary! As long as I live I feel that I am bound to cares, toils, & anxieties but my heart still keeps its affection towards you! Believe me ever affectionately yours
Address: Mrs M. Hays | Vanbrugh Castle | Maize Hill | Blackheath
Favor'd by | D. Huoly Esqr
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 238-40; not in Brooks, Correspondence. Fenwick had moved her family from New Haven to New York City in hope of better prospects, but soon the keeping of a school will prove not feasible and she will spend some time operating a boarding house on Broadway, in Manhattan. After the death of Eliza Fenwick Rutherford in 1828, Fenwick will take her grandchildren and remove to Upper Canada and what is now Toronto, Ontario, where she will remain for several years, finally retiring to Providence, Rhode Island, to live with her friends, the Duncan family. Fenwick died there in 1840, having not contact with Hays after 1828.
2 Mr. Huoly (see Fenwick to Hays, 1 August 1823) had apparently given up his interest in the Barbados school, though still attempting to assist Fenwick if possible.