7 April 1806
Eliza Fenwick, [15 Northumberland Street], London, to Mary Hays, 3 Park Street, Islington [postmark 7 April 1806].1
My mind misgave me yesterday when I saw ^through the window^ Leo’s saucer standing empty on the floor but I knocked & rang obstinately for some considerable time in hopes you had some neighbour who cd direct me to Mr Lanfears2 whose address I had forgotten. No one came & I was compelled to plod my weary way home again. I came yesterday because I could not come to-day & most probably not tomorrow. In the first place I have been recommended & introduced to a musician of ^some^ eminence who has agreed to give Eliza singing lessons. Unfortunately she has had a dreadful cold sore throat & hoarseness ever since we came to town. He call’d to enquire on Saturday evening; & finding her a little better said he wd come three days following this week, that she might do what she could. Of course it is necessary I shd be present, for he is but a young man. Another thing is, that I see The forty thieves comes out tomorrow. As I have done such things before I hope to get two guineas by making a little pantomimic book of it.3 I was twice on Saturday & once yesterday morning at the booksellers & cd not find him at home – that I must get settled to night or tomorrow morning & be assur’d dear Mary I never wanted two guineas more than at present, or I would not stay away on that account’ nor wd I sit up all night (which I must do) to earn it for I am exceedingly unwell. This morning after I rose, I had a species of fainting fit & was forced to lie down. Now I have had a cold chill & the pains of my head & limbs are almost intolerable. It is probable the walk to you & back again without resting was too much for me. My strength is not what it was I can scarcely walk at all. I wish you were nearer, for then I could snatch an hour frequently to spend with you. Every moment almost of this week is mark’d out for occupations I cannot lay aside. Eliza plays on Friday the part of Zorayda4 at the private theatre of course this is to be known only to ourselves & the young man who introduces her there. Many preparations are necessary, but in particular the depression of her spirits is so great arising from her timidity, that my constant attention alas keeps her from sinking under the effort – I fear I am going to be ill – The faintness has returned & the chilliness with a cold sweat follows – This is terrible. I will go to Bed & try perspiration. What an unfortunate being I am!
Yrs most truly
½ past 11 Monday
1 Fenwick Family Papers, Correspondence, 1798-1855, New York Historical Library; Wedd, Fate of the Fenwicks 14-15; not in Brooks, Correspondence.
2 Ambrose Lanfear, husband of Elizabeth Hays Lanfear and Mary Hays's brother-in-law.
3 By this date Fenwick had begun her second writing career, this time aimed at young readers; this would eventually lead to her connection with the Godwin's and their Juvenile Library. The musical Forty Thieves opened at this time at Drury Lane.
4 Zorayda was one of the characters in Elizabeth Inchbald's play, The Mountaineers (1806). The young man who introduced Eliza, now fully bent on achieving a career on the stage, may have been Henry Kemble (1789-1836), the actor with whom she will become romantically involved in 1808.