28 September 1811

Eliza Fenwick, London, to Mary Hays, Wandsworth Common, Thursday evening [postmark 28 September 1811].1

Thursday Evening

    It seems a long time since I wrote to you and somehow, I cannot help wishing you may have thought it so too. I do not grow independent of affection. I never shall, I am convinced, for I cling with an increase of earnestness to all that is left me. I really was disappointed beyond what I can ^now^ express at the shortness of your last. When I had read to the bottom of the page I turned & examined every part to find another word or two. I do not mean this remark in any other way than to describe the state of my mind for I assure you I afterwards smiled at the recollection of my own unreasonableness.

     I never saw Orlando look so well as on the morning of his last visit to me. The walk had given him a fine glow & every feature was animated with the joy of seeing us. He behaved exceedingly well in the presence of his sister, & kept his firmness though I could perceive with a struggle, for I had found an opportunity of hinting to him that she was at exceedingly low spirited & that any emotion on his part would quite overpower her. When she left us alone ^for a time^ he threw his arms round me & sobbed vehemently; & we indulged together in our foolishness, which you must allow was natural enough. We had the prudence to recover composure as quickly as possible & the day afforded us real gratification. Mr Dyke, Eliza’s Manager, was quite charmed with Orlando & when he bade us good night & darted out of the room to mount the Coach Mr D. exclaimed, I wish that boy was mine.

     A number of circumstances that Mr & Mrs Dyke spoke of that day, as matters of course, I mean relative to the conduct & managements of the Theatre seemed to imply so strongly, the importance they attached to Eliza & their high opinion of her respectability & talent that my confidence ^in our having done right^ encreased. She also felt some apprehensions removed; and she is materially better in spirits than she was. She dined here to-day from Limehouse & is gone this evening to Miss Lambs. Her Uncle has become kinder to her.2 He has been telling her the means by which she may learn the nature & profit of certain merchandise there ^at Barbadoes^ & says if she can send him an estimate of such commodities as bear the best profit, he will send her over goods to dispose of at a considerable prcentage. The Mocattoes advised that she should attempt something of that kind as oth ^most^ merchants wives in the West Indies keep stores, but I did not suppose it possible for her to get goods. However now if she sees a likelihood of making money in that way she will have the power. Mrs Da Costas Husband is realizing a fortune by a store at St Thomas’s. Orlando says we appear to thrive now we are away from his father; and I think we do succeed better since I burst the fetters that with him bound us down to almost every species of wretchedness. Some sorrows & disappointments must attend us, but often in my most depressed & languid moments I am cheered by remembring that I am providing for my boy who otherwise would be an outcast or a slave.

     Speaking of Orlando reminds me that he mentioned something of a Military Academy which he had heard of from you. Explain this in your next. Whatever is supposed to be most for his good depend on it I will submit to, though it should remove him to a greater distance from me. I am now so well school’d in self subjection that on my own account I will not make any demurs.

     I still am free from the spasms but have frequent & severe head-aches. The change of weather has materially affected me. No wonder for it must be trying to every constitution & you no doubt have participated in the feeling.

     Eliza desires to be kindly & gratefully remembered to you. As we do not move these three weeks I hope to come & pass an evening with you. when Could Eliza manage to meet Mr Hays3 & come with him? when you appoint the time for her visit. Would he like the trouble of taking her up here? I name these conveniences to us, without any scruple because you cannot have any objection to shew me if, or where I trespass. You will be so good as to give me some days notice of when you wish to see her, for she so roams from place to place that I may have to convey the intelligence all the way to Limehouse, to which the post is strangely irregular.

                         Adieu yrs truly   E   F.

 I have sent to Mrs Hall. Let me hear from you soon.

Address: For | Miss Hays | Wandsworth Common

Postmark: 28 September 1811

1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 45-46; not in Brooks, Correspondence.

2 Young Eliza Fenwick was apparently doing some work for her uncle, Thomas Fenwick, living then at Limehouse and engaged in a business venture with John Fenwick. She was in the final stages of preparing for her departure to Barbados, where she had signed papers to work in an acting company that performed in several of the islands in that part of the Caribbean. 

3 Most likely Thomas Hays, Mary's brother.