7 July 1796

John Fenwick, [London], to George Dyer, [London], 7 July 1796.1

7 July 1796

Dear Sir,

    I have to account to you for keeping your Memoirs of Robinson's life so long, and returning it, at length, without reviewing it.2  I did not lose any time in looking over the parts which belonged to my purpose and determined to give the review of the book a place in the first magazine.3 That I afterward found impossible. But I still proposed the review to myself, and actually began to write it.  Then, I found difficulties which my cursory view of the subject in the first instance did not present.  It is my determination, at present, to avoid all discussion of religious subjects. But I found I could not omit the subject in reviewing the life of an eminent baptist minister without being ridiculous, and without implying my dislike of religion.  Besides, I saw nothing of value in Robinson's sentiments relative to freedom.  As to your own notion of freedom & your ardant philanthropy I could have said enough on that subject with pleasure, but I must have made an awkward appearance in the introduction of the subject.  I ought to have seen this sooner; and I beg your pardon.

    I leave you a copy of our first number.  You will find it sufficiently faulty; but I am very young in my employment.

      That your poem was not included in this number was owing to mismanagement; for I meant from the first to give it the performance.  

      Will you do me the favour to give me a poetical translation of the sonnet inclosed with this letter?  If it be consistent with your occupations, you will oblige me.

                                             John Fenwick


I will thank you to return the original, as I mean to insert  it with the translation.


1 Wedd Family Collection, [private]; transcription by Imogen Wedd. The rest of the Fenwick letter collection (from which this letter may once have belonged) now resides in the Pforzheimer Collection, New York Public Library. 

2 Reference is to Dyer's important volume, Memoirs of Robert Robinson (1796), which Fenwick had thought about reviewing but changed his mind as unsuitable to him. 

3 Fenwick is referring to the new magazine connected with the London Corresponding Society, a society organized in 1792 by a group of radical reformers who soon found themselves at the top of the Pitt administration's list of political enemies. Fenwick served as one of the editors of the Society's Moral and Political Magazine, which ran between June 1796 (as noted above) and May 1797. Two poems were published in the first issue, but neither was composed by Dyer. See Mary Thrale, ed., Selections from the Papers of the London Corresponding Society 1792-1799 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 362-63.