The time span of these letters is 1720-1740s: when theater is discussed, 1720; when other articles discussed, 1720-1740. The reasoning for this is the limited material available from the 18th century. I wanted to examine the theater season during the time Love in Excess was published, but had much trouble finding other texts before/of this date.

3 September, 1720

My Cordelia,

Five nights and a day have passed since you left our Harrow home, but your lack of presence is already felt upon my mood. The joy of Joanna’s coming into the world is passing, and with it, come the mundane trials of country life. How I envy my sister, Katherine! how I envy you! She and her husband with newest child, and you with your city! I can only imagine what pleasures you might be brought with this night, and the next! Will you be courted into dance at a ball? Will you discuss the twisted love plots of your favorite Eliza Hayword novel, Love in Excess, at the salon?

I know that you had given me the first issue of Mrs. Spectator as a gift, a token of London, but I placed it back into your luggage just before your departure. I read the entire issue and understood all of its words and meanings. The true gift is that of the knowledge I acquired from it, cousin! I believe the physical copy to be of greater use to you. Perhaps, when next at the salon, you might discuss the findings of The Female Spectator instead of the stories of passion your dear friends do find so amusing. Remember, the anonymous author declared that she and her spies will always be watching, from Bath to Germany (Female 10) !

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Do you remember what we discussed about your dear friend and fine gentlemen, Mr. Edwards? Such acquaintanceship must be a careful deed for a young, beautiful, educated woman like you, and a man like him! Excuse me, dear cousin, if you find my thoughts disagreeable, but I think you fit for more than either, or both, of the Edwards brothers.

I’m worried that your friends and readings will lead you into dishonest temptation. Your sex may find misconstrued truth in the plot of works like Love in Excess. For although each character finds him or herself lost in misguided and irrational emotions, I believe Haywood held a much deeper truth in her writing. You must take the desperate pleadings of Alovisa, the naïveté of Amena, and the moral injustice of the Count D’elmont, not as examples of right, but instances of wrong. You are of a fairer breed, Cordelia. You read to me, yourself, Mrs. Spectator’s intelligences on love:

love in itself, when under the direction of reason, harmonizes the soul, and gives it a gentle, generous turn; but I can by no means approve of such definitions of that passion as we find in plays, novels, and romances… authors seem to lay out all their art rendering that character most interesting…They dress their Cupid up in roses, call him the god of soft desires, and everspringing joys, yet at the same time give him the vindictive sury, and, the rage of Mars — shew him impatient of control and trampling over all, the ties of duty, friendship, or natural affection, yet make the motive sanctify the crime. (Female 13-14)

Ah, if I only knew Mrs. Spectator’s true name. Maybe she would be the woman for me? Although I do not think it possible for me to forget it, I had transcribed her quote in my private journal the night before you left, after dinner with Joanna and her husband. You musn’t be consumed by your infatuations, my dear. Remember your logic! your schooling! your upbringing- whenever he is near! Remember that there is another woman who loves him, and that he will soon be her bridegroom.

I do thank Him for the life he has given me: Katherine, her Joanna, and my beautiful country. I mean not to come off as an envious countryman. Think of me when you may, and write me of London and your activities.

Yours truly,


30 September, 1720

Dearest Cousin James,

I am writing to you in a post-show haze. I am filled with wonder, yet again, of the London stage and his actors and actresses. I have just come from seeing “Othello” at Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The rivalry, of which we have discussed, between Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the Drury Lane stages brings me almost to despair! How can I not see Shakepeare’s “Othello” one night, and “Hamlet” the next? Should I stay loyal to only one London stage? The ladies at the salon tell me that Lord Chamberlain’s men and the Drury Lane stage have been engaging in business disagreements. I wonder what this will do to the stage! I have heard they might have to shut down. Then, cousin, there would be a monopoly on English drama performance, as the King’s Theater has just been consumed with a French comedy troupe as of late. (London 547)

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Ah! Forgive me cousin. How must I go on to you so? I must sound so spoiled. Let me change the subject to tell you that I have been trying to keep my distance from Mr. Edwards…Even as I paired my arm with another man at the ball last night, I could not help but pay glances to Mr. Edwards as he danced with Josephine. Oh tell me, dearest cousin! What is it that I lack that she does not? Is it her dark auburn tresses? her inferior education? Ah, but there I go again. I must listen to you in matters such as these. Although, I do not agree that Mr. Edwards would not be my greatest match…

Naughty cousin! You quote Mrs. Spectator out of context. And so, I will quote my author out of hers:

“Love is too jealous, too arbitrary a monarch to suffer any other passion to equalize himself in that heart where he has fixed his throne. When once entered, he becomes the whole business of our lives, we think- we dream of nothing else, nor have a wish not inspired by him…Love, needs not only this fuel to maintain its fire, it survives in absence, and disappointments, it endures, unchilled, the wintry blasts indifference and neglect, and continues its blaze, even in a storm of hatred and ingratitude, and reason, pride, or a just sensibility of conscious worth, in vain opposite it…Love creates intolerable torments! Unspeakable joys! Raises us to the highest heaven of happiness, and sinks us to the lowest hell of misery. (Love 164)

I think this may describe the way I feel about Mr. Edwards. Even as he has picked himself another match, I still feel “intolerable torments.” My infatuation with him burns constant, especially without my ability to tell another soul in London.

You see, unfair cousin. I too can quote about love, even though I have never myself have had it returned. Oh but James, I know you, too, have lived long without it. I am not like your Miss Tenderilla from the Female Spectator’s story from which you quote. She declared, “If music be the food of love, play on” (Female 13)! You know that I would never quote Shakespeare only for sport of courtship! or storm in temper out of a room from which I did not receive desired attention! You know I am never without it, dear cousin. Ah hah! I kid. You know that I am most always in agreement with Mrs. Spectator’s critiques on society. However, as I do see the novels of our time as imitations and representations of nature, how then could loves like Melloria and The Count’s not exist? Do we not write what we know?

Visit me soon, James. I miss your wit. You never come to the city anymore, even as you write about how much you’d like to see it again. Why won’t you come see Mr. Edwards, yourself, and see if he an improper subject of my attention?

Forever yours,


15 October, 1720

Fair Cousin Cordelia,

I trust you know that your beloved author Eliza Haywood had an early performance at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the place where you saw Othello of late (Backscheider)! How grand to live in the city of your literary idol. To walk the streets and frequent the shops, to live in the same location of Haywood…This is what I envy about your city.

I give you my deepest sympathy for the trials of the London stages. It is such a same that even in art, the faults of our human nature may bring us to troublesome and trivial quarrels. I am glad to hear that Shakespeare’s work is of the major popularity in the London theaters. Do you prefer Hamlet or Othello? The Lincoln’s Inn Fields or The Drury Lane stage?

Have you heard the gossip about Haywood? I know she a widow of many years, and that she has two children. I’ve heard gossip that her first son might come from Richard Savage. I hear they had been living and collaborating on plays together (Backscheider)! Savage wrote her a poem on her novel The Rath Resolve. The relationship between two great writers would perhaps be the most romantic of all.

In his correspondence, Savage wrote to Haywood about the importance of creative talent, especially her own. He tells her that “In thy full Figures, Painting’s Force we find,/ A Music fires, thy Language lifts the Mind./ Thy Pow’r gives Form, and touches into Life/ The Passions imag’d in their bleeding Strife” (Miscellaneous 162). So complimentary, is he! And in her work, he declares that she portrays the true art of emotion in that of hope, fear, love, jealous and friendship. He sets up an extraordinary relationship between these entities, showing how they are present in her novel. I think, however, that this truth may be generalized to all great work and imitation of nature: “Hope attacks Fear, and Reason Love’s Controul,/ Jealousy wounds, and Friendship heals the Soul:/ Black Falsehood wears black Gallantry’s Disgurise,/ And the guilt Cloud enchants and the Fair One’s Eyes” (Miscellaneous 162). Ah! There is no better compliment, expression of praise, or skillfully worded universal truth than that given by a writer.

Tell me cousin, have you kept your distance from Mr. Edwards? I do think it necessary that I pay you a visit in the hopes to also meet the gentlemen of your infatuation. However, my sister Katherine still needs my help with the baby! New life is such a beautiful, but tedious thing. I mean that only in the fact that they require so much attention and trouble! I must tend to the older brothers so that Katherine can take care of Joanna, alone.

I wish that I could articulate my feelings and love for you like Savage and Haywood could. I would trade my love of science for a propensity of words so that I may write to you like Savage to his mistress. Only to show you my care, cousin! and your worth! Write to me at your earliest convenience. Or perhaps earlier…

Your humble servant,


5 December, 1720

Bright and Wonderful James,

Thank you for that quote from Savage on Haywood! Although I had heard of their affairs, I have yet to read that piece. Eliza Haywood is much a scandalous figure, is she not? I think that authors like Pope, who criticize her, do it in envy that she, a creature of her sex, showed able to portray human nature in a way Swift, Defoe, and Pope himself were unable! Although I cannot help but admire the works of Pope for their literary merit, I despise him so as a person because of his stabs at Haywood in "The Dunciad." Have you read or seen Haywood’s "The Wife to be Lett" (Wife)? It is her ever so clever retort! I’ve heard it will be performed at Drury Lane. Next you come, we must go see it! I hope that her rebuttal to Pope’s awful insults is both strong and tasteful.

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Why is it that you are so against my wishes for Mr. Edwards? I see it as strange since you do not even know the man. James, you so rarely pass judgment so soon, and on people whose situations are dissimilar from your own. Is there something you have heard about Mr. Edwards? If he were not an honest man he may have taken me up on my coy advances by now…

I have lived so long without love, dear James, that I am afraid I will soon never find it. I want what the absurdity that Haywood wrote of, and must have had with Savage! I want to disregard the careful teachings of the Female Spectator, and dive onward into desire! In such a city of excitement and opportunity, I feel dull and unwanted.

This letter seems to have become more morose than its start. Please James, come to me. Come see the theatre and discuss your wonderful opinions with me in the flesh.

Your somewhat hopeful cousin,


29 December, 1720

Oh Cousin!

How must you ask me to explain myself? In every correspondence you question my motives, my opinions of your infatuation! Do you not see it? Is it not obvious? Love has controlled my reason, and jealousy wounding my soul. It is like Savage said, the guilt has clouded my fair eyes. I detest the object of your affection if it not me! even if he the most honest, worthy man in the world!

I am coming Cordelia. I am coming to prove myself worthy of your love. I may not be the Savage to your Haywood, but I will show you that you are wanted.

Until we meet again,


Works Cited

Backscheider, Paula R.. “Haywood , Eliza (1693?–1756).” Paula R. BackscheiderOxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. Online ed. Ed. Lawrence Goldman. Sept. 2010. 9 Dec. 2012 <>.

Haywood, Eliza. The Female Spectator 1.1 (1744-1746): 7-61. Eighteenth Century Journals. Web. 29 Nov. 2012.

Haywood, Eliza Fowler, and David Oakleaf. Love in Excess, Or, The Fatal Enquiry. Peterborough, Ont.: Broadview, 2000. Print.

Haywood, Eliza Fowler. A wife to be lett. A [c]omedy. As it is acted at the Theatre-Royal in Drury-Lane, By His Majesty's servants. Written by Mrs. Eliza Haywood. Glasgow, M,DCC,LVII. [1757]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Maryland College Park. 9 Dec. 2012. <>.

The London Stage, 1660-1800, Part 2,1700-1729:A Calendar of Plays, Entertainment and Afterpieces Together with Casts, Box-Reciepts and Contemporary Comment. Ed. Emmet L. Avery. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 1965. Print.

Miscellaneous poems and translations. By several hands. Publish'd by Richard Savage, Son of the late Earl Rivers. London, MDCCXXVI. [1726]. Eighteenth Century Collections Online. Gale. University of Maryland College Park. 9 Dec. 2012