30 August [1799]

Eliza Fenwick to Mary Hays, at Rev. Kingsfords,1 Wepham, near Canterbury, Friday, 30 August [1799].2

Friday Augst 30

    Can I tell you – No I cannot to my satisfaction describe to you the lively pleasure I feel in beginning once more to converse with you after daily experiencing many uneasy sensations lest your quick sensibility should misrepresent the nature of my silence. Mr Fenwick has had more translation I, you know, am ^then^ employed as amanuensis but there my occupations ended not for Eliza has been very very ill & to compleat my sum of horrifying occupations my little maid Betty who at the best of times is of little use became a burthen instead of a service for she also was very ill. Every morning I promised myself I should that day find an opportunity to write to you & every evenings disappointment added to my fears of your conjectures. How are you dear Mary? Are you doubting the ^an^ affection that is sincerely yours? I cannot promise myself that your you are not pained & displeased for otherwise you would yourself <–> have written Will not my plain statement bring you back to affection & to confidence? You have often & often made allowances for my fettered situation & will not ^surely^ now lessen my growing happiness by reserve & displeasure. Write to me directly my friend & say that you forgive me.

   The bad weather must have greatly lessened the pleasure of your excursion I hope it did not prevent the visitor3 for whose approach you were so fondly & anxiously watching when you last wrote to me. I love you too well not to be sometimes very angry that ^with^ you  I want to see you free but I despair – yes of you Mary I despair.

    Your indefatigable good tempered Beau remains for your consolation. Henry Robinson is still, & likely to continue, among us but I suppose he writes to you & I am telling old news. Miss Braddock desired I would give her love to you She has taken a fancy little shop in Woodstock Street Oxford road I really believe it will be a comfortable provision for her. She has a few friends who will interest themselves for her & she has chosen a means through which every body can if they will serve her. 

    Mrs Reverley4 stills sacrifices to a tight drawn etiquette she receives no one, she visits no one. I am half afraid that when she is disposed to associate with her former acquaintance she may have some resistance or resentment to encounter from those with whom she lives who having been accustomed to such strict retirement may be apt to think a breach of it an enormity.

    How much longer shall you stay in Kent? Walk ride & visit to the utmost that you ^may^ lay up a store of health & spirits to bear you through the winter in which I suppose as usual you will seek to enjoy hours of pleasure that almost always I think brought bring to you a greater or less portion of bitter indescribable anguish.

    Adieu my dear Mary Mr Fenwick joins in assuring of our true unalterable affection

                    Eliza Fenwick


I ought to have told you that Eliza is a great deal better yet still pale & languid – Among other of my businesses I forgot to say that I had at the intervals I could scratch fifty little jobs to do for Fanny Gerald which could not be delayed as she has at last left me. Her absense will certainly be an advantage if I can make any thing of my time. Once more fare thee wellOur kind Compliments to your Jolly host & fair hostess.


Address: Miss Hays | Mr Kingfords Wepham | near Canterbury

Postmark: Illegible


1 Rev. Sampson Kingsford (1740-1821) was the chief minister at the General Baptist meeting in Black Friars, Canterbury, from 1771 until his death on 27 August 1821. References later in the letter to Kent and her "Jolly host & fair hostess" are to the Kingsfords. For more on Kingsford, see his entry in the Biographical Index.

2 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, NY Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 6-7; not in Brooks, Correspondence

3 Another reference by Fenwick to William Frend. The following paragraph playfully suggests Crabb Robinson as her replacement beau. 

4 Maria Reveley, Fenwick's friend and now a widow.