c. early August 1800
Eliza Fenwick, Englefield Cottage, near Egham, Surrey, to Mary Hays, 22 Hatton Garden [early August 1800] [postmark not readable].1
Englefield Cottage, near Egham Surry
I have heard of you dear Mary by Mr F. & am delighted that you are going to Champion Hill2 at a season when London has no longer an all powerful attraction for ^you^ It seems to me that when the heart cannot gain the solace it seeks, change of scene produces a torpor that is comparatively desirable.
Since I came to this place my time has been completely engrossed by little but necessary avocations. We generally ride four or five hours a day & having till within these few days been without female servants
this day Miss Robinson & myself were busy from morning to night. Englefield green is singularly beautiful Tis a broad plain on the summit of a high hill, the houses are irregularly scattered & the breaks & openings display an astonishing prospect of richly wooded & cultivated country with the Thames poring through it. Mrs Robinson’s Cottage stands aloof from the grander dwellings of Lady Shuldam Lord Uxbridge & Mrs Freemantle its front windows look over St Anns Hill, the retreat of Mr Fox3 & from ^on^ the back we are sheltered by the tall trees of the forest. Mrs Robinson has displayed great taste in the fitting up of her cottage the papers of the rooms in a particular degree are beautifully appropriated to the building & situation The furniture is perhaps more ornamental than I should chuse for myself but still it is elegant & quiet – nothing gaudy nor ill placed. And yet dear Mary I sigh now & then for a home. Ah what a charm has the idea of a quiet home for me who for the past six years been tossed to & fro amidst fears & frights & perils. But at present Home does not open its sheltering doors for me & I may congratulate myself on being the guest of a woman whose powers of pleasing ever varied & graceful are united to quick feeling & generosity of temper. I intend making every advantage of the air & situation & am now writing to you on a garden seat under the shade of two tall trees & surrounded by a plantation of shrubs. Mr F. came to us on thursday last & intends returning tomorrow.
If you make an excursion to Windsor, do not be satisfied with the common routine of travelling through the town but visit the park by all means, it abounds with fine situations & majestic <–> views.
Write to me dear Mary You have in letter writing the happiest facility while I am without any power of clothing the impulses of my affection in appropriate language. It is the same with me in conversation I am always powerless but not insensible.
Adieu, dear friend May you be happy
Prays your sincere
The children are well & Orlando improves in strength & beauty daily. Have you seen Mrs Robinsons Address to him? Tis a charming little poem It was in the Morning post last Tuesday.3
Address: Miss Hays | 22 Hatton Garden
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, NY Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 10-11; Brooks, Correspondence 320-21. Fenwick was staying for a time in the home of the writer Mary Robinson (1757-1800), who had met Hays c. 1795 during Hays movement within the Godwin circle.
2 Hays was going to visit her sister, Joanna Dunkin, and her large family at their spacious mansion at Champion Hill.
3 The MP Charles James Fox (1749-1806), who once had a brief affair with Robinson.
4 Robinson's poem to Fenwick’s son, Orlando, appeared in the Morning Post on 29 July 1800; the above letter would have been composed the following week, at the beginning of August 1800.