23 July [1810]

Eliza Fenwick to Mary Hays, at T. Hays, Esqr, Wandsworth, Monday, 23 July [1810].1

Monday. July 23d

       The day after my arrival in London mentioning to Mr Dyer2 that I intended going the following morning to Islington to enquire why you my estimable & long kind friend had ceased to communicate with me, I heard to my surprise that you had become a member of your Brothers family at Wandsworth. That would not have deter’d me from visiting you, but I was taken ill with a severe complaint that held me three long weeks in great suffering & rendered me unequal to every exertion Since my recovery I have been & am still watching the daily expected arrival of in town of a person through whose interest I hope to get Eliza a situation in London this ensuing winter. As his stay may be but that of a single day I dared not risque the chance of missing him. But yesterday Henrietta Braddock came to see me, and from her I learned the astonishing and afflicting account of the domestic misfortunes of poor Mrs Lanfear.3 Has this then been the cause why I have never heard from you? Were your circumstances or your spirits so affected by that event as to induce you to quit <–> or change the nature of your home? Have I in any way given you cause to with-hold your confidence from me? I have indeed been a poor wearying complaining creature, always either from mischance of or want of judgment changing from bad to worse, and I do not wonder that any one, except you dear Mary, should be inclined to withdraw from me, but you had a heart in which affection was so fervent, so genuine, that I thought having chosen me with all my weakness, and defects you would love me through life. What have I done more than being misjudging & unfortunate to deserve no longer to partake your confidence? If you knew how much, even when sustaining in anguish that almost destroyed me, and how often I have turned to the remembrance of our former intercourse you would not believe me unworthy of the continuance of our friendship. Pray let me hear from you. Tell me why you are removed? I would wish to believe that the story I have listened to with dismay is exaggerated. Can I see you alone at Wandsworth? Or will you give me your company for a day in town? I am at 33 Wych Street, close to St Clements Church & when I enquir’d for a Wandsworth stage I found they put up in Fleet-Street. Mr F— comes home at 3 oClock to dinner – all the rest of the day I am alone. If you will grant me this precious favor let me know the day, that shd business call me out I may arrange it so as not to lose a moment of your company.         

            The last has been a very momentous year to me. It has taught me new griefs in whose very nature often drew my thoughts to you. I little imagined that new calamities had assailed you also, for I thought you out of the reach of domestic affliction.

            Eliza is at present at Birmingham.4 She possesses virtue in its every sense. She has a heart worthy of being lov’d by yours. The fate of high virtue and great sensibility you too shall know. The longer we live the more misery we become acquainted with.

                        Adieu my dear friend

                                    Yrs E Fenwick


Address: Miss Hays | at T. Hays Esqr | Wandsworth

Postmark: 23 July 1810



1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, Unpublished Letters, New York Historical Library; does not appear in Wedd, Fate, or Brooks, Correspondence. After she left Park Place, Islington, in early 1809, Hays moved in with her brother Thomas in his new and spacious home on Wandsworth Common. As Fenwick's letters will reveal, Hays continued her work as a teacher, this time mentoring several of her brother's children, especially his daughter. In April 1811, Orlando Fenwick will begin attending a boarding school at West Hill, near Wandsworth, operated by a Mr. Wilkinson; Orlando will spend many weekends in the Hays home at Wandsworth, with Mary Hays becoming his "second mother." 

2 Hays's old friend and correspondent, George Dyer. 

3 Elizabeth Hays Lanfear, Hays's younger sister and now a widow after her husband's suicide in 1809.

4 Eliza Fenwick, Jr., was still pursuing her actor career with various provincial acting companies.