8 February 1813
Eliza Fenwick, Lee Mount, to Mrs. M. Hays, at T. Hays, Esqr, Wandsworth Common, 8 February 1813.1
Lee Mount Feby 8th 1813
My dear dear Friend
I have made the enclosed few extracts from Elizas letters with some difficulty which just excuse my not extending them. The latter ones will extort a sigh to from you to think how little stability there is in human happiness, and how rarely minds constituted to feel all its value, and to enjoy its greatest purity are permitted to retain it within their grasp. While you wish that her happiness may continue sad experience & observation will prompt a sight sigh of doubt and dread of those casualties that may interrupt or overwhelm it. I meant to have given you further extracts from Mr R—s letters but pain prevented & also I recollected that it was enough to give you a specimen of his manner as his letters cannot have the interest to you that hers have.
After the first bitter emotion that your letter excited I began cooly [sic] to consider of the advantages total change of scene & society may produce both to your health and feelings. I like your plans so much that I am almost glad you are compell’d to make the experiment. I know the sensations at once craving and gratified with which you will gaze on Natures sublime varieties which you have hitherto enjoyed only in description. Closing a letter yesterday to Miss Lamb which I have had some time in hand I said she would soon receive a visit from you – that you meant to consult her on a little project you had formed, but that I left you to make your own explanations. With your unostentatious estimation of luxury and comfort, your love of solitude or rather retirement, your preference of the Count[r]y and your regular, orderly & frugal habits your income will meet your wants particularly as you do not object to boarding or the simple fare of a school table. In the course of your wanderings opportunities will occur for you to choose from and should Mr Southeys family be [paper torn] there are other dwellings on the borders of those romantic lakes where you may for a time inhale [paper torn] & enjoy repose and the most precious & gratifying of all blessings independence. Who knows – if these [paper torn] should come to England and settle and Orlando does [paper torn] but some unadorned cottage may serve us to [paper torn] our infirmities together ^in^. To bid adieu to your occupation is not to leave a pleasure I am certain. I once thought very differently of the task of education to what I now do & such doubtless is the case with you. To be able to fix a willing delighted attention to communicate energy, to perceive ideas shooting expanding and maturing under your guidance & culture and to receive the an intelligent need of affection & gratitude in return for your labours for yr pupils is a vision of very agreeable promise I grant you – But our wearied spirits exhausted patience and harrassed tempers have none of these pleasures to second I believe. Go then, dear Mary, you who have no ties to bind you to such species of servitude, whom necessity does not compel to silence your reluctance & bend your will and wishes to your circumstances, go & taste of liberty & society befitting your tastes and talents.2
Thank you a thousand times for your charming letter to Orlando. It drew tears from it him. He had come to spend my birth day with me (Feby 1st) and those welcome letters from you arrived on that day. He told me I must answer his for him, for what could he say but that it was all just & true and kind. He returned to school early on Tuesday morning & bade me preserve his letter with care. He wonders how you can be spared from Wandsworth. So do I. Who will be the guardian of the house & younger children now in the absence of Master & Misstess Mistress? Surely Surely you will be miss’d. I am glad you are going to Tooting and to Black-heath.3 It is change of scene and air, and as a visitor you will not want due attention. Poor Mrs Lanfear! How well I can appreciate her sufferings.4
You most must accept the extracts in lieu of a longer epistle from me. I am still very unwell [paper torn] I have to write to Eliza also for Wednesdays part. [I have] got a troublesome pain in my knees and [can] scarcely towards the end of the day rise from my chair [paper torn] probably Rheumatism. We have had a long, and [for] Ireland unusual season of dry weather which has been these three days exchanged for storms of wind and rain – this is not in any favor but still I believe I am getting better although I seem to grow old every hour.
Mrs Honner describes the Prickly heart & the boils of which Eliza now complains as torturing but advantageous to the general health. She never was without one or the other without languishing or suffering inflammatory attacks the whole 12 years of her residence in India.
I have laid by £2 of my debt to you and expect to have the overplus this next quarter – should you want it now let me know and I can procure it. Lanno is expensive to me, but having paid my debts I shall make my income fit my demands very well unless mired by other long illnesses.
God bless and preserve you dear and constant friend and grant that we meet happier than we parted prays yr ever affectionate
I received a letter lately from Mr Hopwood & he says “We have heard nothing yet from Miss Francis.” Do you know whether Mrs Francis has changed her intentions about Patty Hopwood? If it lies in yr way make the enquiry. The clever little girl is making amazing progress & will be [quite a] musician of no ordinary fame I perceive.
I will answer what you say of Irish People in my next more more Adieu
Address: For | Mrs M. Hays | T. Hays Esqr | Wandsworth Common
Postmark: 8 February
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, Unpublished Letters; does not appear in Wedd, Fate, or Brooks, Correspondence.
2 Hays's mother had died in 1812, and with her inheritance and previous annuity and earnings from her writings, Hays was able to live somewhere other than London for the first time in her life; another motivating factor was her lingering feelings for William Frend and the fact that she could never distance herself from him as she wished while still living in London. Later this year, she will leave for Northamptonshire (Southey rejects her application to live in his household), and will live away from London for most of the next 3-4 years.
3 It is unclear who among her family or friends was living in Tooting at that time, but her brother John was still living at the Paragon in Blackheath.
4 Elizabeth Hays Lanfear was raising her two young sons in Islington (her husband had committed suicide in 1809), living, much like her sister, off of monies received upon the death of her mother (about £800), an adequate but not by any means a comfortable amount given her situation.