28 April [1813]

Eliza Fenwick, Lee Mount, to Miss Hays, at T. Hays, Wandsworth Common, 28 April [1813].1

Lee Mount April 28th

My dear Friend

            I take up my pen with an almost total incapacity of writing. I cannot command my thoughts to follow any but the most painful course. Imagine what various and torturing apprehensions must assail me when I tell you that the date of the last letter I received from Eliza was Novr 25th. It came to hand early in January and this is now the last day but one of April. Packets have arrived, fleets have come, at least so newspapers aver, and yet five months elapse & I have no letter from her who has ever been so punctual, so watchful of the opportunities of communicating her thoughts feelings & circumstances to her mother. That the Captures have been numerous by American vessels I am aware, but if vessels arrive with letters to others why not also to me? The most probable cause ^as it^ appears to me ^is^ that she has herself been taken prisoner. When she closed that letter of Novr 25th they were on the point of sailing for St Thomas & from thence intended returning to Barbadoes taking Antigua in their way. Is it very querulous or unreasonable then that ^I^ imagine such a calamity to have befalling befallen her, & that my nightly dreams should be haunted by representations of want & woe and suffering – ^plundered of^ her little savings, her labours suspended and the term of our separation prolonged and all her air built projects of a reunion of competence content and happiness <–> overthrown and annihilated. Forgive dear Mary my tormenting you with these useless lamentations, but when I attempt to write my uneasiness and apprehensions press on me in a tenfold degree. Believe me I am far from yielding myself up at all times to the harrassing forboding of evil and the extinction of hope. I am often surprised at the power I have of banishing such painful images by encreasing my occupations. They are indeed incessant during the hours of day & I compel myself to remain with the family circle from dinner till Bed-time because I will have my thoughts relieved & or distracted – It is at night that loneliness awakens recollection and alarm & sometimes my nights are very wretched indeed. My health is far from good though still I have no return of my former complaint, but nervous headaches and (as I believe) a pressure of blood upwards disorder me very greatly at times. I do every thing I can towards the preservation of the remnant of my constitution.  I rise at 6 oClock or near it & walk before breakfast whenever the weather will admit; & of that advantage I have been seldom deprived for we have had extraordinary fine weather till this last week when Easterly winds have brought ^us^ hail and snow. Still the vegetation is lovely in its advance. It is long since I had so favorable an opportunity of tracing the progress of spring. It is a beautiful season; <-> inspiring the youth & bringing a species of consolation to the afflicted. When out of doors I seem to go from my cares, yet do not imagine I mean to imply less content with the family than I have heretofore expressed. I do not indeed – you know what I mean by your own enjoyment ^of natures scenes.^

         I was grieved that Southey should have answered in a way to pain you. It is a strange world. I expected something to so entirely different.  Congeniality of taste and feeling & the collision of mind appear to me to promise to a ^secluded &^ domestic man such a source of enjoyment that I supposed he would have been enchanted at the proposition & eager to close with it. I too am sorry that you wrote to him since his reply would wound and disappoint you. My dear friend you and I are not fated to have our hopes & wishes realized.

        Orlando has been here from the day before good friday, when his hollidays commenced, till last Monday morning; in the ^full^ enjoyment of liberty & felicity. He reads me long lectures on my fears about his Sister till his eyes fill with tears & his voice is choked by a sob. But young & sanguine his hopes soon revive and anticipations of misfortune have no power over him.

        I cannot say that his presence makes me ^absolutely^ happy, but he gives me moments of pleasure & amuses me very greatly. His Animal Spirits are unbounded and he has a species of humour that is irresistible. Some of his flights really surprise me they are so truly whimsical & shew so much observation on manners & peculiarities. He is very well, grows & his physical activity & strength seem to encrease.

         I often wonder what will be his fate in life. And I sigh to think that such happiness as he at present possesses cannot last through life.

          God bless you my dearest Friend. Excuse this gloomy & for me short letter. Write to me. You cannot perhaps believe how sincere a satisfaction your letters give me ^though^ mingled with the painful feeling your disappointments create. Tell me all that happens to you and believe me ever affectionately yours

                        E Fenwick


I cannot act upon the advice you gave me till I hear of or from my Eliza again – I write to her yet have no idea that my letters reach her, and to address her in this uncertainty is an effort of the most painful kind. I dread the revolving period of writing in which I did take delight.


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

Postmark: none



1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 136-37; not in Brooks, Correspondence.