25 October 1806

Eliza Fenwick, London, to Mary Hays, [3] Park Street, Islington, [postmark 25 October 1806].1


My dear friend,

     I am glad you have brought back with you the remembrance of pleasant hours pass’d in the country May those to which you return wear a still better aspect, & make the <–> painful past, but as the fading impression of a dream. We are still here, for in spite of my best & constant efforts I cannot yet compass the means of our removal. It will require some preparations which my friends are unequal to. Nor shall I be able to do it at earliest before Christmas. The delay is however no way injurious to Eliza nor to my prospects in her, but it makes the present full of toil of care & perplexity that gives me many a heart ache. She is meanwhile making a steady progress in her art; even a more rapid one than with the disadvantage of her excessive fears & want of reliance on herself I had hoped for. She has made one comic attempt of Volante in the Honey Moon2 in which she displayed a considerable portion of that fancy & playfulness which has always led me to suppose Comedy will be best adapted to her powers. I was very sorry that owing to a mistake in the delivery of the tickets I could not give Mr H. Robinson3 any the evening she played Volante as I had promised. He has seen her twice both times under great disadvantages, the first time, she was under a sort of distraction of mind & thought & much dissatisfied with those among whom she was playing; the second time she was more in possession of herself but she disliked her character, exceedingly, its situation, the play & all attendant circumstances. These things too often occur in her present school but the advantage of practise in treading the stage & in the ability to look an audience in the face counterbalances the other numerous disadvantages. She now attends Mr Holcroft4 every day that she has leisure. Leisure occurs so seldom that I have been out (on a visit) but once since you left town & that was to Mr Holcrofts & then I did not go to tea but went at 8 oClock. When we come to see you I believe it must be on a Sunday & then return the same evening. Tomorrow & tomorrow weeks have occupations now provided for them for I am working to pay my rent against a stated time which, has alas got a little into arrear. If possible as soon as I am done [with] this job ^I will^ steal a week day for I do not like to rob Mrs Lanfear5 of you on the day of yr usual visit there.

     Eliza joins in affectionate wishes to you Our loves to Leo, in whose renewal of beauty we much rejoice. It does us all credit.

             Adieu yrs most affectionately

                         E Fenwick

Address: Miss Hays | Park Street | Islington

Postmark: 25 October 1806

1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York  Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 15-16; not in Brooks, Correspondence.

2 A character in The Honeymoon (1805) by John Tobin (1770-1804). 

3 Crabb Robinson.

4 Thomas Holcroft, the playwright. 

5 Elizabeth Hays Lanfear, whose residence in Upper Terrace, Islington, was not far from that of Mary Hays in Park Street.