24 April 1812

Eliza Fenwick, [5 Tavistock Square], to Mary Hays, Wandsworth Common, Thursday Evening, [postmark 24 April 1812].1


Wed Thursday Evening 

          You & Orlando both took my reproach more seriously than it was meant. I was far from supposing you either idle or inconsiderate. But this proves how vile all sorts of affection ^affectation^ are, for I was affecting spirits when I had them not. What can have become of your letter? I cannot find that there is any negligence on the part of our Postman or Servants. I have had indeed from one quarter or other a succession of letters lately & why that one shd have been mislaid among so many deliver’d it is not possible to imagine. The usual way if I am out or upstairs [is] for Berkeley (our Man) to pay postage & put the letter on the parlour Chimney piece ready for my return. I found yours so placed on Tuesday. I hate to lose a letter of yours because they contain so much of the gratifying & useful.

         I begin to suspect that this Ireland is to be my fate. Would you believe that the family have open’d another negotiation with me? I am just come from visiting at her own request Mrs Hewitt of Tavistock place, an elegant pretty little woman the sister of Mrs Honner. The latter it seems fell so much in love with my letters that she cannot endure the thoughts of any other Governess and has left her Children still at <–> school at Hammersmith in the remote hope of still inducing me to go. Mr Honner is a native of Ireland but has been in India where these Children were all born. The eldest girl is near 14, the second 10, the third 8. These are my intended pupils. Little has been done for them yet in the way of education for they have only been 18 months from India and the Lady ^with whom they are^ tells their Aunt that they are beginning to be humanized. I dont dislike the idea of civilizing these little savages because less will be expected than where education is ^to be^so laboured & diffuse. Mrs Honner, (says her Sister) is beloved by every one who knows her, gentle amiable & affectionate but extremely indolent (that I like) & disliking Irish accents, blunders, & manners sees very little Company. This last clause was enu among the things apprized me which might not be to my taste – and it was followed by describing the retired situation of Lee Mount & the agricultural pursuits which so engrossed Mr Honner as to disincline him to general ^gay^ Society though of a hospitable temper.2

         I was shewn a fine view of Lee Mount. It stands on the side of a Hill, sheltered to the North by a wood. The grounds slope down to a river on the other side of which rises an abrupt precipice crowned with the ruins of a fine old Castle. The background, of a range of mountains shuts in the whole. In a painting in it is romantic & picturesque in the extreme. We came to no conclusion; indeed Mrs Hewitt only wanted me to be informed whether any objections to my going had ceased; that she might enquire no farther till after Mr Honner & I had met; who is expected in London in a fortnight. I engaged once more to take the matter into consideration, & so we parted.

            What ought I to do? This Can I leave Orlando? Independent of him perhaps I shd not hesitate. A retired Country Seat pleases & Mrs Honners character pleases me. Mrs Hewitt has perfect ease & polish in her manners. Mrs Honners letters had the same characteristics. An indolent easy temper would not be likely to teize me either as to my manner of instruction or expect the Children to drudge in the wearying degree they do here. I am puzzled. You may leave Wandsworth and who then will be a second mother to my boy. Eliza is gone and you & he are in fact all that I have to leave. The feeling that finds me here seems also to dictate my removal. I almost wish this had not occurred – My spirits become agitated & prey upon my frame.

            Well, I shall see you on Saturday week & I hope on Sunday Morning we shall have the enjoyment of a tete-a-tete to talk over all our projects incompatible wishes & projects. I am glad your birth-day riots are to be restrained. Children should never meet purposely to participate [in] the pleasures of men & women These dances & suppers are terrible evils in odious modern education. Blindmans Buff, Puss in the Corner or such like pastimes may produce a torn crock or coat but cloyed stomachs & premature passions are worse.

        I long believe me for Saturday week. My mind has been strangely set upon it for this month past. No letters from Eliza! No Packets! But running ships have come from Jamaica. How dreary is this interval

                        Yrs very truly  

                                                E   F


Address: For |Miss Hays | Wandsworth Common

Postmark: Illegible



1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 84-86; not in Brooks, Correspondence.

2  Fennick will leave the Mocattas and journey to Ireland to become governess to the Honner family. The Honners had been living in India, where Robert Honner had been an officer in the Nineteenth Regiment of the British Army. The Honners had four children: three girls and one son about a year younger than Fennick’s son, Orlando, all having been born in India. Honner had been charged with inappropriate behavior toward another officer in India in 1807 and was discharged from the Army. The Honners had returned to Ireland and in 1811 settled into an impressive estate, Lee Mount, just outside Cork. Honner's pleas for reinstatement were to no avail, so by the time Fenwick was approached about coming to Lee Mount as governess, he had resigned himself to life as a country gentleman, though his schemes for the property would not materialize as he hoped. Fenwick will leave the Honners in 1814, and shortly thereafter the Honners left as well.