19 September 1801
Eliza Fenwick to Mary Hays, Maisonnette, near Ingatestone, Essex, 19 September 1801.1
Sepr 19th 1801
Knowing that your parcel was sent & that Mr Francis had secured your manuscripts,2 I yielded to my petty occupations & ^have^ suffered a week to elapse before I answer your letter.
I am sincerely glad that the Maisonette is a retreat so adapted to your taste. A bare, monotonous plain is one of the most fatigueing objects in the world both to the eye & by the imagination. I had a cold feeling towards Essex till you described the parts you have visited but I now wish you were mistress of a Maisonette and I your visitor.
We have heard nothing more of Mr F. ^than^ that he is gone into Kent. I dare say you will see him by & by in Essex. If any other intelligence should come to us you shall immediately be acquainted with it.
The Rheumatism in my neck & the back of my head torments me exceedingly I had a cold when you went from town & this is the result; it often prevents my doing any thing, but the principal cause of my not having written to you was ^my^ efforts for the deliverance of poor Mrs Burke. There are a set of great people who have the reputation of great humanity and I have written her case & her prospects to most of them and not once succeeded. I wanted to raise for her a small sum to remove with; to buy a table a stove & leave her a trifle for support till she had earned something. She can in Westminster get immediate employment in turning & cleaning Flats – no person on the spot does it, so that till her school encreases sufficiently for her support she has another means of livelihood. You will I am sure agree with me that I was in the right to make every attempt to secure for her a benefit likely to be so lasting – though perhaps I do wrong to devote my thoughts wholly to it, while my own affairs are replete with perplexity – but I cannot help it. The question of who I shall next apply to even now haunts me forgive then the nothingness of this letter and allow that I love you even while I write so heavily & stupidly.
Mr Fenwick is very busy sending out the Prospectus.3 He finds that he shall not be ready for publishing the paper quite as soon as he proposed, & if he has to make many Journeys for the establishment of correspondents he probably will not commence till near the meeting of Parliament. Slow and sure is at present his maxim. If he grows wary & prudent what transformations may we not expect.
I really envy your walks, your abode & your social pleasures. The change of scene is a sort of appetite with me the moment I begin to travel I am happy – I wish a Post Chaise were now waiting to bring me to you & then carry me where I should dictate – But tis all vanity & vexation of spirit, the wishes I mean, for here I must stay, indulge in reverie, do little, plan much, & pore over my pretty landscape for relaxation. I have half a mind to jump on board a little vessel now in the river & sail away to Cornwall.
Adieu my respectful & kind remembrance to your Brother & Sister. Mr F unites in that & in most affectionate love to yourself with her who is constantly & truly your sincere friend
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, Unpublished Letters, NY Historical Library (does not appear in Wedd, Fate, or Brooks, Correspondence).
2 Hays was enjoying an extended stay with her Dunkin relations living in Essex (all were part of the Dunkin corn factoring business which also owned large farms and mills in Essex) and working on her Female Biography, which is most likely the "manuscripts" that were sent to Mr. Francis. This is most likely the Henry Francis who was the father of the Henry Francis who would marry Elizabeth Dunkin in 1803. In 1801, the elder Henry Francis, living at the Paragon, Walworth, which is where the Dunkins had lived between 1792 and 1798, subscribed, along with John Dunkin and Dunkin’s eldest son and his father, John Dunkin, Sr., to Samuel Lowell’s Sermons on Evangelical and Practical Subjects.
3 John Fenwick was preparing to begin work on a new periodical, The Plough, after the demise that September of his short-lived periodical, The Albion, which proved far too radical for the changing taste of British readers by 1801.