12 May 1820

Eliza Fenwick, Barbados, to Miss Hays, 1 Upper Cumming Street, Pentonville, 12 May 1820.1

Barbadoes May 12th 1820

My dear Friend,

       I intended a long Chat with you by this opportunity – but a troublesome giddiness in the head which has assailed me some days past renders writing a difficulty I will not however let the occasion pass without a line promising myself that even a line will give you pleasure.

     You have before this received the news of our disappointment for which I daily almost hourly return thanks & feel it to be a blessing. It is a season of most unusually scarcity; the ^sugar^ crops have failed & the provision grounds are destroyed by a long drought. We suffer here on the spot extremely from it – no presents of yams &c &c now from the Country and our household expences by the encreased price of provisions amount now to £20 per week & sometimes exceed, whereas last year at the dearest part of it £15 was the utmost. Money seems to have vanished. We just scrape together enough for Marketting (^for^ which there is no credit) but cannot get in the Sums I want to send to England for books music and all the materials of our occupation. This makes a loss for I buy from the Stores at a dearer rate than I sold ^at^ and yet left myself a sufficient profit. It is my daily penance to send over my list of unpaid debts; even from families who for six years together never miss’d the quarter day I receive explanations and apologies for non-payment. All this is troublesome and inconvenient here, but still our situation is so well known that we could obtain in our turn any credit we chose to ask – at Bristol on the contrary had remittances failed what a situation should we have been in! How can I think it otherwise than an interposition for wise ends.

         Eliza is constantly fluctuating – a week or two tolerable – a week or two worse – I exceedingly wish her to have the benefit of a voyage to England & nothing keeps me from sending her but the want of a spare £100. I have written very preemptorily  to Antigua & if the funds came I will loose no time – if not wait we must.

            I long to hear from you – from all I know & love in England. Pray write to me very frequently. I hope in future to be a good correspondent. I ought to be, if that will purchase letters for they are the soothers of our cares & recreations after toils. Our old cares of which I have often complained do not lessen – namely the vexations inseparable in this Country from household duties – neglect – idleness – & plunder are the invariable order of the day. The week before last we were robbed by a young girl of 16 who looked after little Elizabeth & did needle-work. A most engaging Countenance & peculiar artlessness of manners imposed on us completely[.] We were always losing & suspected all but her – Till on Sunday week growing bolder by success she opened Mrs Rutherfords drawer by a false key & took out £40 – £10 of which I found hid in an old shoe – the rest no threats could make her acknowledge the disposal of. She was the daughter of a free colored woman by a white Gentleman & being free herself the law could not command the flogging it would have ordered a Slave in the same circumstances. I could not ^bear to^ prosecute to death & therefore she was turned loose by the ill regulated police of this Country. We find these misfortunes constantly assailing us.

          Adieu Dear dear Friend. Tell me all that concerns yourself and what face old England at present wears[.]

             Eliza joins in kindest wishes

                                     with yrs truly

                                                 E. Fenwick

Address: To | Miss Hays | No 1 Upper Cumming Street | Pentonville

Postmark: ? 1820

1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 202-04; not in Brooks, Correspondence