4 and 5 July 1800

Eliza Fenwick, at T. H. Pierces Esqr, New Park near Axminster, to Mary Hays, Hatton Garden, London, Sunday (and Monday), 4 and 5 July.1


Sunday ^& Monday^ July 4th & 5th

    A week dear Mary has elapsed since I arrived here more dead than alive so exhausted was I at the end of my journey by fatigue more of mind than body. I came also to a scene of sorrow. Mr Pierces second daughter, a fine girl of 14 & Eliza’s most beloved friend & company^ion^ died the day before our arrival. Orlando had as I imagined drooped before our leaving town but on the Journey was full of spirits & vivacity. The morning after we came here he was full of the chicken pocks accompanied with a rash & fever. Mrs Pierce, near lying in of a twelfth Child, in consequence of the distress of the late event has been very ill with many symptoms of premature labour, but all these cases are hourly lessening. Mrs P. & Orlando are almost recovered & Eliza dry’s the tears she shed in torrents for poor Fanny’s death & begins to seek the pleasures she has been so often accustomed to enjoy here. I tell you all these particulars to shew you why I have not sooner eased your anxious thoughts by an assurance of my safety.

    Yes dear Mary I am safe, but not sound. I have a diseased mind. You know however my temper, & how little disposed it is to create or augment misery. I am rather restless than wretched & silent oftener than sad. It is not unnatural nor yet at all blameable that I ^my wishes^ should press forward to the end of my Journey. I long to know & understand to their utmost extent my future cares. At present the suspense & uncertainty preys upon my spirits even while I am sheltered from the rude storms that of late have so continually overwhelmed my hopes; and I feel the kindness & attention of my friends here with a kind of self reproach for being so little able to divest myself of self & return ^them^ a pure & untainted sympathy. I have written to Cornwall & urged them immediately to enable me to come there I cannot hear from them before the middle of the week but if they even answer instantly as I wish I shall likely be here ten days longer & shall expect a consoling letter from you.

    One great detriment to my perfect recovery is the rainy state of the weather. I cannot climb the hills nor repose in the wood where a favorite spot I selected ten years ago bears my name. Sunshine appears necessary to happiness in all cases except those of blighted affections.

    I have heard once from Mr F. since I have been here. I do not suppose you have seen him for he intended to keep very close to avoid danger. I am determined Mary, if it be possible, to consider myself & children totally separated from his bad fortu or good fortunes   If I should be able to contribute to his repose & comfort I shall rejoice but never, never, will I again, if the means are to be had by my industry of supporting my children, involve myself in such miseries & perplexities as I have endured. I confess that I do not without regret part with those attentions & tokens of esteem & respect ^I used to receive^ from persons whose of talent & moral worth, but nor would I willingly part give up the feeling from whence I derived my gratification in those tokens, but still I turn to your friendship as my continual reward.

    I think of you every night when I go to bed & wish I knew whether you are rid of your nightly interruption. Write me a long letter & tell me every thing you can of yourself   Make my respectful compliments of farewell to Mr Friend [sic] when you see him & if there is any one else you think of for me I shall be obliged – The Kingsfords in particular – Explain me & my motives as you deem most prudent.2

    I wish it were possible for you to avoid giving your sister my opinion of her manuscript. I respect her too much not to be reluctant to give her that pain3 Adieu dear friend. Direct at T. H. Pierces Esqr New Park near Axminster.

            Yrs most truly

                            E Fenwick


Address: Miss Hays | Hatton Garden 20 [sic] | London

Postmark: 8 July 1800


1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, NY Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 8-9; not in Brooks, Correspondence

2 William Frend, Hay's long-time lover and friend and another reference in this correspondence to their on-again, off-again relationship. For more on Frend and the Kingsfords, see the Biographical Index.

3 Reference here is to Elizabeth Hays's MS. of her novel, Fatal Errors, which Wollstonecraft read through in September 1796 but would not be published until 1819.