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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1805

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
‣ Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
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Produced by CATH
[p.m. February 18, 1805.]

MY dear Wordsworth, the subject of your letter has never been out of our thoughts since the day we first heard of it, and many have been our impulses towards you, to write to you, or to write to enquire about you; but it never seemed the time. We felt all your situation, and how much you would want Coleridge at such a time, and we wanted somehow to make up to you his absence, for we loved and honoured your Brother, and his death always occurs to my mind with something like a feeling of reproach, as if we ought to have been nearer acquainted, and as if there had been some incivility shown him by us, or something short of that respect which we now feel: but this is always a feeling when people die, and I should not foolishly offer a piece of refinement, instead of sympathy, if I knew any other way of making you feel how little like indifferent his loss has been to us. I have been for some time wretchedly ill and low, and your letter this morning has affected me so with a pain in my inside and a confusion, that I hardly know what to write or how. I have this
morning seen
Stewart, the 2d mate, who was saved: but he can give me no satisfactory account, having been in quite another part of the ship when your brother went down. But I shall see Gilpin tomorrow, and will communicate your thanks, and learn from him all I can. All accounts agree that just before the vessel going down, your brother seemed like one overwhelmed with the situation, and careless of his own safety. Perhaps he might have saved himself; but a Captain who in such circumstances does all he can for his ship and nothing for himself, is the noblest idea. I can hardly express myself, I am so really ill. But the universal sentiment is, that your brother did all that duty required: and if he had been more alive to the feelings of those distant ones whom he loved, he would have been at that time a less admirable object; less to be exulted in by them: for his character is high with all that I have heard speak of him, and no reproach can fix upon him. Tomorrow I shall see Gilpin, I hope, if I can get at him, for there is expected a complete investigation of the causes of the loss of the ship, at the East India House, and all the Officers are to attend: but I could not put off writing to you a moment. It is most likely I shall have something to add tomorrow, in a second letter. If I do not write, you may suppose I have not seen G. but you shall hear from me in a day or two. We have done nothing but think of you, particularly of Dorothy. Mary is crying by me while I with difficulty write this: but as long as we remember any thing, we shall remember your Brother’s noble person, and his sensible manly modest voice, and how safe and comfortable we all were together in our apartment, where I am now writing. When he returned, having been one of the triumphant China fleet, we thought of his pleasant exultation (which he exprest here one night) in the wish that he might meet a Frenchman in the seas; and it seem’d to be accomplished, all to his heart’s desire. I will conclude from utter inability to write any more, for I am seriously unwell: and because I mean to gather something like intelligence to send to you tomorrow: for as yet, I have but heard second hand, and seen one narrative, which is but a transcript of what was common to all the Papers. God bless you all, and reckon upon us as entering into all your griefs.

[Signature cut away.]

[This is the first of a series of letters bearing upon the loss of the East Indiaman Earl of Abergavenny, which was wrecked off Portland Bill on February 6, 1805, 200 persons and the captain, John Wordsworth, being lost. The character of Wordsworth’sHappy Warrior” is said to have been largely drawn from his brother John. His age was only thirty-three.]

[p.m. February 19, 1805.]

MY dear Wordsworth, I yesterday wrote you a very unsatisfactory letter. To day I have not much to add, but it may be some satisfaction to you that I have seen Gilpin, and thanked him in all your names for the assistance he tried to give: and that he has assured me that your Brother did try to save himself, and was doing so when Gilpin called to him, but he was then struggling with the waves and almost dead. G. heard him give orders a very little before the vessel went down, with all possible calmness, and it does not at all appear that your Brother in any absence of mind neglected his own safety. But in such circumstances the memory of those who escaped cannot be supposed to be very accurate; and there appears to be about the Persons that I have seen a good deal of reservedness and unwillingness to enter into detail, which is natural, they being Officers of the Ship, and liable to be examined at home about its loss. The examination is expected to day or to-morrow, and if any thing should come out, that can interest you, I shall take an early opportunity of sending it to you.

Mary wrote some few days since to Miss Stoddart, containing an account of your Brother’s death, which most likely Coleridge will have heard, before the letter comes: we both wish it may hasten him back. We do not know any thing of him, whether he is settled in any post (as there was some talk) or not. We had another sad account to send him, of the death of his schoolfellow Allen; tho’ this, I am sure, will much less affect him. I don’t know whether you knew Allen; he died lately very suddenly in an apoplexy. When you do and can write, particularly inform us of the healths of you all. God bless you all. Mary will write to Dorothy as soon as she thinks she will be able to bear it. It has been a sad tidings to us, and has affected us more than we could have believed. I think it has contributed to make me worse, who have been very unwell, and have got leave for some few days to stay at home: but I am ashamed to speak of myself, only in excuse for the unfeeling sort of huddle which I now send. I could not delay it, having seen Gilpin, and I thought his assurance might be some little ease to you.

We will talk about the Books, when you can better bear it. I have bought none yet. But do not spare me any office you can put
me on, now or when you are at leisure for such things. Adopt me as one of your family in this affliction; and use me without ceremony as such.

Mary’s kindest Love to all.

C. L.
Tuesday [Feb. 19].

[Mary Lamb’s letter to Miss Stoddart, here referred to, is no longer preserved. Coleridge a little later accepted the post of private secretary to the Governor of Malta, Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander John Ball. Allen was Bob Allen, whom we have already met.]

16 Mitre-court Buildings,
Saturday, 24th [i.e., 23rd] Feb., 1805.

DEAR Manning,—I have been very unwell since I saw you. A sad depression of spirits, a most unaccountable nervousness; from which I have been partially relieved by an odd accident. You knew Dick Hopkins, the swearing scullion of Caius? This fellow, by industry and agility, has thrust himself into the important situations (no sinecures, believe me) of cook to Trinity Hall and Caius College: and the generous creature has contrived with the greatest delicacy imaginable, to send me a present of Cambridge brawn. What makes it the more extraordinary is, that the man never saw me in his life that I know of. I suppose he has heard of me. I did not immediately recognise the donor; but one of Richard’s cards, which had accidentally fallen into the straw, detected him in a moment. Dick, you know, was always remarkable for flourishing. His card imports, that “orders (to wit, for brawn), from any part of England, Scotland, or Ireland, will be duly executed,” &c. At first, I thought of declining the present; but Richard knew my blind side when he pitched upon brawn. ’Tis of all my hobbies the supreme in the eating way. He might have sent sops from the pan, skimmings, crumplets, chips, hog’s lard, the tender brown judiciously scalped from a fillet of veal (dexterously replaced by a salamander), the tops of asparagus, fugitive livers, runaway gizzards of fowls, the eyes of martyred pigs, tender effusions of laxative woodcocks, the red spawn of lobsters, leverets’ ears, and such pretty filchings common to cooks;
but these had been ordinary presents, the everyday courtesies of dishwashers to their sweethearts. Brawn was a noble thought. It is not every common gullet-fancier that can properly esteem it. It is like a picture of one of the choice old Italian masters. Its gusto is of that hidden sort. As
Wordsworth sings of a modest poet,—“you must love him, ere to you he will seem worthy of your love;” so brawn, you must taste it, ere to you it will seem to have any taste at all. But ’tis nuts to the adept: those that will send out their tongues and feelers to find it out. It will be wooed, and not unsought be won. Now, ham-essence, lobsters, turtle, such popular minions, absolutely court you, lay themselves out to strike you at first smack, like one of David’s pictures (they call him Darveed), compared with the plain russet-coated wealth of a Titian or a Correggio, as I illustrated above. Such are the obvious glaring heathen virtues of a corporation dinner, compared with the reserved collegiate worth of brawn. Do me the favour to leave off the business which you may be at present upon, and go immediately to the kitchens of Trinity and Caius, and make my most respectful compliments to Mr. Richard Hopkins, and assure him that his brawn is most excellent; and that I am moreover obliged to him for his innuendo about salt water and bran, which I shall not fail to improve. I leave it to you whether you shall choose to pay him the civility of asking him to dinner while you stay in Cambridge, or in whatever other way you may best like to show your gratitude to my friend. Richard Hopkins, considered in many points of view, is a very extraordinary character. Adieu: I hope to see you to supper in London soon, where we will taste Richard’s brawn, and drink his health in a cheerful but moderate cup. We have not many such men in any rank of life as Mr. R. Hopkins. Crisp the barber, of St. Mary’s, was just such another. I wonder he never sent me any little token, some chestnuts, or a puff, or two pound of hair just to remember him by; gifts are like nails. Præsens ut absens, that is, your present makes amends for your absence.


C. Lamb.

[This letter is, I take it, a joke: that is to say, the brawn was sent to Lamb by Manning, who seems to have returned to Cambridge for a while, and Lamb affects to believe that Hopkins, from whom it was bought, was the giver. I think this view is supported by the reference to Mr. Crisp, at the end,—Mr. Crisp being Manning’s late landlord.

The letter contains Lamb’s second expression of epicurean rapture: the first in praise of pig.


“As Wordsworth sings”—in the “Poet’s Epitaph”:—
He is retired as noontide dew,
Or fountain in a noon-day grove;
And you must love him, ere to you
He will seem worthy of your love.

David”—the French painter.

Præsens ut absens.Lamb enlarged upon the topic of gifts and giving many years later, in the Popular Fallacy “That we must not look a Gift Horse in the Mouth,” 1826, and in his “Thoughts on Presents of Game,” 1833.]

[p.m. March 5, 1805.]

MY dear Wordsworth, if Gilpin’s statement has afforded you any satisfaction, I can assure you that he was most explicit in giving it, and even seemed anxious (interrupting me) to do away any misconception. His statement is not contradicted by the last and fullest of the two Narratives which have been published (the former being a mere transcript of the newspapers), which I would send you if I did not suppose that you would receive more pain from the unfeeling canting way in which it is drawn up, than satisfaction from its contents; and what relates to your brother in particular is very short. It states that your brother was seen talking to the First Mate but a few minutes before the ship sank, with apparent cheerfulness, and it contradicts the newspaper account about his depression of spirits procrastinating his taking leave of the Court of Directors; which the drawer up of the Narrative (a man high in the India House) is likely to be well informed of. It confirms Gilpin’s account of his seeing your brother striving to save himself, and adds that “Webber, a Joiner, was near the Captain, who was standing on the hencoop when the ship went down, whom he saw washed off by a sea, which also carried him (Webber) overboard;”—this is all which concerns your brother personally. But I will just transcribe from it, a Copy of Gilpin’s account delivered in to the Court of Directors:—

“Memorandum respecting the Loss of the E. of A.”

“At 10 a.m. being about 10 leagues to the westward of Portland, the Commodore made the signal to bear up—did so accordingly; at this time having maintop gallant mast struck, fore and mizen
do. on deck, and the jib boom in the wind about W.S.W. At 3 p.m. got on board a Pilot, being about 2 leagues to the westward of Portland; ranged and bitted both cables at about ½ past 3, called all hands and got out the jib boom at about 4. While crossing the east End of the Shambles, the wind suddenly died away, and a strong tide setting the ship to the westward, drifted her into the breakers, and a sea striking her on the larboard quarter, brought her to, with her head to the northward, when she instantly struck, it being about 5 p.m. Let out all the reefs, and hoisted the topsails up, in hopes to shoot the ship across the Shambles. About this time the wind shifted to the N.W. The surf driving us off, and the tide setting us on alternately, sometimes having 4½ at others 9 fathoms, sand of the sea about 8 feet; continued in this situation till about ½ past 7, when she got off. During the time she was on the Shambles, had from 3 to 4 feet water; kept the water at this height about 15 minutes, during the whole time the pumps constantly going. Finding she gained on us, it was determined to run her on the nearest shore. About 8 the wind shifted to the eastward: the leak continuing to gain upon the pumps, having 10 or 11 feet water, found it expedient to bale at the forescuttles and hatchway. The ship would not bear up—kept the helm hard a starboard, she being water-logg’d: but still had a hope she could be kept up till we got her on Weymouth Sands. Cut the lashings of the boats—could not get the Long Boat out, without laying the main-top-sail aback, by which our progress would have been so delayed, that no hope would have been left us of running her aground, and there being several sloops in sight, one having sent a small skiff on board, took away 2 Ladies and 3 other passengers, and put them on board the sloop, at the same time promising to return and take away a hundred or more of the people: she finding much difficulty in getting back to the sloop, did not return. About this time the Third Mate and Purser were sent in the cutter to get assistance from the other ships. Continued pumping and baling till 11 p.m. when she sunk. Last cast of the lead 11 fathoms; having fired guns from the time she struck till she went down, about 2 a.m. boats came and took the people from the wreck about 70 in number. The troops, in particular the Dragoons, pumped very well.

“(Signed) Thos. Gilpin.”

And now, my dear W.—I must apologize for having named my health. But indeed it was because, what with the ill news, your letter coming upon me in a most wretched state of ill spirits, I was scarce able to give it an answer, and I felt what it required.
But we will say no more about it. I am getting better. And when I have persisted time enough in a course of regular living I shall be well. But I am now well enough; and have got to business afresh.
Mary thanks you for your invitation. I have wished myself with you daily since the news. I have wished that I were Coleridge, to give you any consolation. You have not mourned without one to have a feeling of it. And we have not undervalued the intimation of your friendship. We shall one day prove it by intruding on your privacy, when these griefs shall be a little calmed. This year, I am afraid, it is impossible: but I shall store it up as among the good things to come, which keep us up when life and spirits are sinking.

If you have not seen, or wish to see, the wretched narrative I have mentioned, I will send it. But there is nothing more in it affecting you. I have hesitated to send it, because it is unfeelingly done, and in the hope of sending you something from some of the actual spectators; but I have been disappointed, and can add nothing yet. Whatever I pick up, I will store for you. It is perfectly understood at the E. I. House, that no blame whatever belongs to the Captn. or Officers.

I can add no more but Mary’s warmest Love to all. When you can write without trouble, do it, for you are among the very chief of our interests.

C. Lamb.
4 March.
[Dated at end: March 21, 1805.]

DEAR Wordsworth, upon the receipt of your last letter before that which I have just received, I wrote myself to Gilpin putting your questions to him; but have yet had no answer. I at the same time got a person in the India House to write a much fuller enquiry to a relative of his who was saved, one Yates a midshipman. Both these officers (and indeed pretty nearly all that are left) have got appointed to other ships and have joined them. Gilpin is in the Comet, India-man, now lying at Gravesend. Neither Yates nor Gilpin have yet answered, but I am in daily expectation. I have sent your letter of this morning also to Gilpin. The waiting for these answers has been my reason for not writing you. I have made very particular enquiries about Webber, but in vain. He was a common seaman (not the ship’s carpenter) and no traces
of him are at the I. House: it is most probable that he has entered in some Privateer, as most of the crew have done. I will keep the £1 note till you find out something I can do with it. I now write idly, having nothing to send: but I cannot bear that you should think I have quite neglected your commission. My letter to G. was such as I thought he could not but answer: but he may be busy. The letter to Yates I hope I can promise will be answered. One thing, namely why the other ships sent no assistance, I have learn’d from a person on board one of them: the firing was never once heard, owing to the very stormy night, and no tidings came to them till next morning. The sea was quite high enough to have thrown out the most expert swimmer, and might not your brother have received some blow in the shock, which disabled him? We are glad to hear poor
Dorothy is a little better. None of you are able to bear such a stroke. To people oppressed with feeling, the loss of a good-humoured happy man that has been friendly with them, if he were no brother, is bad enough. But you must cultivate his spirits, as a legacy: and believe that such as he cannot be lost. He was a chearful soul! God bless you. Mary’s love always.

C. Lamb.
21st March, 1805.
[p.m. April 5, 1805.]

DEAR Wordsworth, I have this moment received this letter from Gilpin in reply to 3 or 4 short questions I put to him in my letter before yours for him came. He does not notice having recd yours, which I sent immediately. Perhaps he has already answered it to you. You see that his hand is sprain’d, and your questions being more in number, may delay his answer to you. My first question was, when it was he called to your brother: the rest you will understand from the answers. I was beginning to have hard thoughts of G. from his delay, but now I am conftrm’d in my first opinion that he is a rare good-hearted fellow. How is Dorothy? and all of you?

Yours sincerely
C. Lamb.

4th question was, was Capt. W. standing near the shrouds or any place of safety at the moment of sinking?

Northfleet, March 31st, 1805.

Sir—I did not receive yours of 16th inst. till this day, or shd. have answered it sooner. To your first Question, I answer after the Ship had sunk. To your second, my answer is, I was in the Starboard Mizen Rigging—I thought I see the Captn. hanging by a Rope that was fast to the Mizen Mast. I came down and haild him as loud as I could, he was about 10 feet distant from me. I threw a rope which fell close to him, he seem’d quite Motionless and insensible (it was excessive cold), and was soon after sweep’d away, and I see him no more. It was near about five minutes after the Ship went down. With respect to the Captn and Webber being on the same Hencoop, I can give no answer, all I can say, I did not see them. Your fourth Question, I cannot answer, as I did not see Capt. Wordsworth at the moment the Ship was going down, tho I was then on the Poop less than one minute before I see the Captn there. The Statement in the printed Pamphlet is by no means correct. I have sprained my Wrist, most violently, and am now in great pain, which will, I hope, be an apology for the shortness of this Letter.

believe me truly yours*
Thos. Gilpin.
This Letter as been detained till April 5th.

* This is merely a kind way of expressing himself, for I have no acquaintance with him, nor ever saw him but that once I got introduced to him.

I think I did not mention in my last, that I sent yours to T. Evans, Richmond. I hope you have got an answer.

[p.m. May 7, 1805.]

MY dear Miss Wordsworth—I thank you, my kind friend, for your most comfortable letter. Till I saw your own handwriting, I could not persuade myself that I should do well to write to you, though I have often attempted it, but I always left off dissatisfied with what I had written, and feeling that I was doing an improper thing to intrude upon your sorrow. I wished to tell you, that you would one day feel the kind of peaceful state of mind, and sweet memory of the dead which you so happily describe as now almost begun, but I felt that it was improper, and most grating to the feelings of the afflicted, to say to them that the memory of their affliction would in time become a constant part not only of their “dream, but of their most wakeful sense of happiness.” That you would see every object with, and through your lost brother, and that that would at last become a real and everlasting source of comfort to you, I felt, and well knew from my own experience in sorrow, but till you yourself began to feel this
I did not dare tell you so, but I send you some poor lines which I wrote under this conviction of mind, and before I heard
Coleridge was returning home. I will transcribe them now before I finish my letter, lest a false shame prevent me then, for I know they are much worse than they ought to be, written as they were with strong feeling and on such a subject. Every line seems to me to be borrowed, but I had no better way of expressing my thoughts, and I never have the power of altering or amending anything I have once laid aside with dissatisfaction.
Why is he wandering on the sea?
Coleridge should now with Wordsworth be.
By slow degrees he’d steal away
Their woe, and gently bring a ray
(So happily he’d time relief)
Of comfort from their very grief.
He’d tell them that their brother dead
When years have passed o’er their head,
Will be remember’d with such holy,
True, and perfect melancholy
That ever this lost brother John
Will be their heart’s companion.
His voice they’ll always hear, his face they’ll always see,
There’s nought in life so sweet as such a memory.

Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson came to see us last week, I find it was at your request they sought us out; you cannot think how glad we were to see them, so little as we have ever seen of them, yet they seem to us like very old friends. Poor Mrs. Clarkson looks very ill indeed, she walked near a mile, and came up our high stairs, which fatigued her very much, but when she had sat a while her own natural countenance with which she cheared us in your little cottage seemed to return to her, and then I began to have hopes she would get the better of her complaint. Charles does not think she is so much altered as I do. I wish he may be the better judge. We talked of nothing but you. She means to try to get leave of Dr. Beddoes to come and see you—her heart is with you, and I do not think it would hurt her so much to come to you, as it would distress you to see her so ill.

She read me a part of your letter wherein you so kindly express your wishes that we would come and see you this summer. I wish we could, for I am sure it would be a blessed thing for you and for us to be a few weeks together—I fear it must not be. Mrs. Clarkson is to be in town again in a fortnight and then they have promised we shall see more of them.

I am very sorry for the poor little Dorothy’s illness—I hope soon to hear she is perfectly recovered. Remember me with affection to your brother, and your good sister. What a providence it is that your brother and you have this kind friend, and these
dear little ones—I rejoice with her and with you that your brother is employed upon his poem again.

Pray remember us to Old Molly. Mrs. Clarkson says her house is a pattern of neatness to all her neighbours—such good ways she learnt of “Mistress.” How well I remember the shining ornaments of her kitchen, and her old friendly face, not [the] least ornamental part of it.

Excuse the haste I write in. I am unexpectedly to go out to dinner, else I think I have much more to say, but I will not put it off till next post, because you so kindly say I must not write if I feel unwilling—you do not know what very great joy I have in being again writing to you. Thank you for sending the letter of Mr. Evans, it was a very kind one. Have you received one from a Cornet Burgoine? My brother wrote to him and desires he would direct his answer to your brother.

God bless you and yours my dear friend.

I am yours affectionately
M. Lamb.

[“Dream, but of their most wakeful sense . . .” I have not found this.

Dr. Beddoes, who was attending Mrs. Clarkson, would be, I suppose, Thomas Beddoes of Clifton (1760-1808), the father of Thomas Lovell Beddoes and a friend of Coleridge and Southey. In a letter from Dorothy Wordsworth to Mrs. Clarkson, dated April 19, 1805 (recently printed by Mr. Hale White in the Athenæum), we read:—

I have great pleasure in thinking that you may see Miss Lamb; do not miss it if you can possibly go without injury to yourself—they are the best good creatures—blessings be with them! they have sympathised in our sorrow as tenderly as if they had grown up in the same [town?] with us and known our beloved John from his childhood. Charles has written to us the most consolatory letters, the result of diligent and painful inquiry of the survivors of the wreck,—for this we must love him as long as we have breath. I think of him and his sister every day of my life, and many times in the day with thankfulness and blessings. Talk to dear Miss Lamb about coming into this country and let us hear what she says of it. I cannot express how much we all wish to see her and her brother while we are at Grasmere. We look forward to Coleridge’s return with fear and painful hope—but indeed I dare not look to it—I think as little as I can of him.]

1805 MARY LAMB 311
[Slightly torn. The conjectures in square brackets are Talfourd’s.]
Friday, 14th June, 1805.

MY dear Miss Wordsworth, Your long kind letter has not been thrown away (for it has given me great pleasure to find you are all resuming your old occupations, and are better) but poor Mary to whom it is addrest cannot yet relish it. She has been attacked by one of her severe illnesses, and is at present from home. Last Monday week was the day she left me; and I hope I may calculate upon having her again in a month, or little more. I am rather afraid late hours have in this case contributed to her indisposition. But when she begins to discover symptoms of approaching illness, it is not easy to say what is best to do. Being by ourselves is bad, and going out is bad. I get so irritable and wretched with fear, that I constantly hasten on the disorder. You cannot conceive the misery of such a foresight. I am sure that for the week before she left me, I was little better than light-headed. I now am calm, but sadly taken down, and flat. I have every reason to suppose that this illness, like all her former ones, will be but temporary; but I cannot always feel so. Meantime she is dead to me, and I miss a prop. All my strength is gone, and I am like a [fool, ber]eft of her co-operation. I dare not think, lest I [should think] wrong; so used am I to look up to her [in the least] and the biggest perplexity. To say all that [I know of her] would be more than I think any body could [believe or even understand; and when I hope to have her well [again with me] it would be sinning against her feelings to go about to praise her: for I can conceal nothing that I do from her. She is older, and wiser, and better, than me, and all my wretched imperfections I cover to myself by resolutely thinking on her goodness. She would share life and death, heaven and hell, with me. She lives but for me. And I know I have been wasting and teazing her life for five years past incessantly with my cursed drinking and ways of going on. But even in this up-braiding of myself I am offending against her, for I know that she has cleaved to me for better, for worse; and if the balance has been against her hitherto, it was a noble trade.

I am stupid and lose myself in what I write. I write rather what answers to my feelings (which are sometimes sharp enough) than express my present ones, for I am only flat and stupid.


Poor Miss Stoddart! she is coming to England under the notion of passing her time between her mother and Mary, between London and Salisbury. Since she talk’d of coming, word has been sent to Malta that her Mother is gone out of her mind. This Letter, with mine to Stoddart with an account of Allen’s death, &c., has miscarried (taken by the French) [word missing]. She is coming home, with no soul to receive [words missing]. She has not a woman-friend in London.

I am sure you will excuse my writing [any more, I] am very poorly. I cannot resist tra[nscribing] three or four Lines which poor Mary made upon a Picture (a Holy Family) which we saw at an Auction only one week before she left home. She was then beginning to show signs of ill boding. They are sweet Lines, and upon a sweet Picture. But I send them, only as the last memorial of her.

Maternal Lady with the Virgin-grace,
Heaven-born thy Jesus seemeth sure,
And thou a virgin pure.
Lady most perfect, when thy angel face
Men look upon, they wish to be
A Catholic, Madona fair, to worship thee.
You had her lines about the “
Lady Blanch.” You have not had some which she wrote upon a copy of a girl from Titian, which I had hung up where that print of Blanch and the Abbess (as she beautifully interpreted two female figures from L. da Vinci) had hung, in our room. ’Tis light and pretty.
Who art thou, fair one, who usurp’st the place
Of Blanch, the Lady of the matchless grace?
Come, fair and pretty, tell to me
Who in thy lifetime thou mightst be?
Thou pretty art and fair,
But with the Lady Blanch thou never must compare.
No need for Blanch her history to tell,
Whoever saw her face, they there did read it well.
But when I look on thee, I only know
There liv’d a pretty maid some hundred years ago.
This is a little unfair, to tell so much about ourselves, and to advert so little to your letter, so full of comfortable tidings of you all. But my own cares press pretty close upon me, and you can make allowance. That you may go on gathering strength and peace is the next wish to Mary’s recovery.

I had almost forgot your repeated invitation. Supposing that Mary will be well and able, there is another ability which you may guess at, which I cannot promise myself. In prudence we
ought not to come. This illness will make it still more prudential to wait. It is not a balance of this way of spending our money against another way, but an absolute question of whether we shall stop now, or go on wasting away the little we have got beforehand, which my wise conduct has already incroach’d upon one half. My best Love, however, to you all; and to that most friendly creature,
Mrs. Clarkson, and better health to her, when you see or write to her.

C. Lamb.

[The reference to Miss Stoddart is explained later, in Letter No. 135.

Mary Lamb’s two poems were included in the Works, 1818. “Lady Blanch” is the poem quoted on page 290.]

[Dated by Mr. Hazlitt: July 27, 1805.]

DEAR Archimedes,—Things have gone on badly with thy ungeometrical friend; but they are on the turn. My old housekeeper has shown signs of convalescence, and will shortly resume the power of the keys, so I shan’t be cheated of my tea and liquors. Wind in the west, which promotes tranquillity. Have leisure now to anticipate seeing thee again. Have been taking leave of tobacco in a rhyming address. Had thought that vein had long since closed up. [A sentence omitted here.] Find I can rhyme and reason too. Think of studying mathematics, to restrain the fire of my genius, which G. D. recommends. Have frequent bleedings at the nose, which shows plethoric. Maybe shall try the sea myself, that great scene of wonders. Got incredibly sober and regular; shave oftener, and hum a tune, to signify cheerfulness and gallantry.

Suddenly disposed to sleep, having taken a quart of pease with bacon and stout. Will not refuse Nature, who has done such things for me!

Nurse! don’t call me unless Mr. Manning comes.—What! the gentleman in spectacles?—Yes.

C. L.
Hot Noon.

[“Have been taking leave of tobacco.” See page 317; also page 648.]

[? Sep. 18, 1805.]

MY dear Sarah,—I have made many attempts at writing to you, but it has always brought your troubles and my own so strongly into my mind, that I have been obliged to leave off, and make Charles write for me. I am resolved now, however few lines I write, this shall go; for I know, my kind friend, you will like once more to see my own handwriting.

I have been for these few days past in rather better spirits, so that I begin almost to feel myself once more a living creature, and to hope for happier times; and in that hope I include the prospect of once more seeing my dear Sarah in peace and comfort in our old garret. How did I wish for your presence to cheer my drooping heart when I returned home from banishment.

Is your being with, or near, your poor dear Mother necessary to her comfort? does she take any notice of you? and is there any prospect of her recovery? How I grieve for her and for you. . . .

I went to the Admiralty about your Mother’s pension; from thence I was directed to an office in Lincoln’s Inn, where they are paid. They informed me at the office that it could not be paid to any person except Mr. Wray, without a letter of attorney from your Mother; and as the stamp for that will cost one pound, it will, perhaps, be better to leave it till Mr. Wray comes to town, if he does come before Christmas; they tell me it can be received any Thursday between this and Christmas. If you send up a letter of Attorney, let it be in my name. If you think, notwithstanding their positive assurance to the contrary, that you can put me in any way of getting it without, let me know. Are you acquainted with Mr. Pearce, and will my taking another letter from you to him be of any service? or will a letter from Mr. Wray be of any use?—though I fear not, for they said at the office they had orders to pay no pension without a letter of Attorney. The attestation you sent up, they said, was sufficient, and that the same must be sent every year. Do not let us neglect this business; and make use of me in any way you can.

I have much to thank you and your kind brother for; I kept the dark silk, as you may suppose: you have made me very fine; the broche is very beautiful. Mrs. Jeffries wept for gratitude when she saw your present; she desires all manner of thanks and good wishes. Your maid’s sister was gone to live a few miles from town; Charles, however, found her out, and gave her the handkerchief.
I want to know if you have seen William, and if there is any prospect in future there. All you said in your letter from Portsmouth that related to him was burnt so in the fumigating, that we could only make out that it was unfavourable, but not the particulars; tell us again how you go on, and if you have seen him: I conceit affairs will some how be made up between you at last.

I want to know how your brother goes on. Is he likely to make a very good fortune, and in how long a time? And how is he, in the way of home comforts?—I mean, is he very happy with Mrs. Stoddart? This was a question I could not ask while you were there, and perhaps is not a fair one now; but I want to know how you all went on—and, in short, twenty little foolish questions that one ought, perhaps, rather to ask when we meet, than to write about. But do make me a little acquainted with the inside of the good Doctor’s house, and what passes therein.

Was Coleridge often with you? or did your brother and Col. argue long arguements, till between the two great argue-ers there grew a little coolness?—or perchance the mighty friendship between Coleridge and your Sovereign Governor, Sir Alexander Ball, might create a kind of jealousy, for we fancy something of a coldness did exist, from the little mention ever made of C. in your brother’s letters.

Write us, my good girl, a long, gossiping letter, answering all these foolish questions—and tell me any silly thing you can recollect—any, the least particular, will be interesting to us, and we will never tell tales out of school: but we used to wonder and wonder, how you all went on; and when you was coming home we said, “Now we shall hear all from Sarah.”

God bless you, my dear friend.

I am ever your affectionate
Mary Lamb.

If you have sent Charles any commissions he has not executed, write me word—he says he has lost or mislaid a letter desiring him to inquire about a wig.

Write two letters—one of business and pensions, and one all about Sarah Stoddart and Malta. Is Mr. Moncrief doing well there?

Wednesday morning.

We have got a picture of Charles; do you think your brother would like to have it? If you do, can you put us in a way how to send it?


[Mrs. Stoddart was the widow of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. Mr. Wray and Mr. Pearce were presumably gentlemen connected
with the Admiralty or in some way concerned with the pension. “William” is still the early William—not
William Hazlitt, whom Sarah was destined to marry. Mr. Moncrieff would be Mrs. John Stoddart’s eldest brother, who was a King’s Advocate in the Admiralty Court at Malta. The picture of Charles might be some kind of reproduction of Hazlitt’s portrait of him, painted in the preceding year; but more probably, I think, a few copies of Hancock’s drawing, made in 1798 for Cottle, had been struck off.]

[p.m. September 28, 1805.]

MY dear Wordsworth (or Dorothy rather, for to you appertains the biggest part of this answer by right.)—I will not again deserve reproach by so long a silence. I have kept deluding myself with the idea that Mary would write to you, but she is so lazy, or, I believe the true state of the case, so diffident, that it must revert to me as usual. Though she writes a pretty good style, and has some notion of the force of words, she is not always so certain of the true orthography of them, and that and a poor handwriting (in this age of female calligraphy) often deter her where no other reason does. We have neither of us been very well for some weeks past. I am very nervous, and she most so at those times when I am: so that a merry friend, adverting to the noble consolation we were able to afford each other, denominated us not unaptly Gum Boil and Tooth Ache: for they use to say that a Gum Boil is a great relief to a Tooth Ache. We have been two tiny excursions this summer, for three or four days each: to a place near Harrow, and to Egham, where Cooper’s Hill is: and that is the total history of our Rustications this year. Alas! how poor a sound to Skiddaw, and Helvellyn, and Borrodaile, and the magnificent sesquipedalia of the year 1802. Poor old Molly! to have lost her pride, that “last infirmity of Noble Mind,” and her Cow—Providence need not have set her wits to such an old Molly. I am heartily sorry for her. Remember us lovingly to her. And in particular remember us to Mrs. Clarkson in the most kind manner. I hope by southwards you mean that she will be at or near London, for she is a great favorite of both of us, and we feel for her health as much as is possible for any one to do. She is one of the friendliest, comfortablest women we know, and made our little stay at your cottage one of the pleasantest times we ever past. We were quite
strangers to her.
Mr. C. is with you too?—our kindest separate remembrances to him.

As to our special affairs, I am looking about me. I have done nothing since the beginning of last year, when I lost my newspaper job, and having had a long idleness, I must do something, or we shall get very poor. Sometimes I think of a farce—but hitherto all schemes have gone off,—an idle brag or two of an evening vaporing out of a pipe, and going off in the morning; but now I have bid farewell to my “Sweet Enemy” Tobacco, as you will see in my next page, I perhaps shall set soberly to work. Hang Work! I wish that all the year were holyday. I am sure that Indolence indefeazible Indolence is the true state of man, and business the invention of the Old Teazer who persuaded Adam’s Master to give him an apron and set him a houghing. Pen and Ink, and Clerks, and desks, were the refinements of this old torturer a thousand years after, under pretence of Commerce allying distant shores, promoting and diffusing knowledge, good &c.—

May the Babylonish curse
Strait confound my stammering verse,
If I can a passage see
In this word-perplexity,
Or a fit expression find,
Or a language to my mind,
(Still the phrase is wide an acre)
To take leave of thee, Tobacco;
Or in any terms relate
Half my Love, or half my Hate,
For I hate yet love thee so,
That, whichever Thing I shew,
The plain truth will seem to be
A constrain’d hyperbole,
And the passion to proceed
More from a Mistress than a Weed.
Sooty retainer to the vine,
Bacchus’ black servant, negro fine,
Sorcerer that mak’st us doat upon
Thy begrim’d complexion,
And, for thy pernicious sake
More and greater oaths to break
Than reclaimed Lovers take
’Gainst women: Thou thy siege dost lay
Much too in the female way,
While thou suck’st the labouring breath
Faster than kisses; or than Death.
Thou in such a cloud dost bind us,
That our worst foes cannot find us,
And Ill Fortune (that would thwart us)
Shoots at rovers, shooting at us;
While each man thro’ thy heightening steam,
Does like a smoking Etna seem,
And all about us does express
(Fancy and Wit in richest dress)
A Sicilian Fruitfulness.
Thou through such a mist dost shew us,
That our best friends do not know us;
And, for those allowed features,
Due to reasonable creatures,
Liken’st us to fell Chimeras,
Monsters, that, who see us, fear us,
Worse than Cerberus, or Geryon,
Or, who first loved a cloud, Ixion.
Bacchus we know, and we allow
His tipsy rites. But what art thou?
That but by reflex canst shew
What his deity can do,
As the false Egyptian spell
Aped the true Hebrew miracle—
Some few vapours thou may’st raise,
The weak brain may serve to amaze,
But to the reins and nobler heart
Canst nor life nor heat impart.
Brother of Bacchus, later born,
The old world was sure forlorn,
Wanting thee; that aidest more
The God’s victories than before
All his panthers, and the brawls
Of his piping Bacchanals;
These, as stale, we disallow,
Or judge of thee meant: only thou
His true Indian Conquest art;
And, for Ivy round his dart,
The reformed God now weaves
A finer Thyrsus of thy leaves.
Scent to match thy rich perfume
Chymic art did ne’er presume
Through her quaint alembic strain;
None so sovran to the brain.
Nature, that did in thee excell,
Framed again no second smell.
Roses, violets, but toys
For the smaller sort of boys,
Or for greener damsels meant;
Thou’rt the only manly scent.
Stinking’st of the stinking kind,
Filth of the mouth and fog of the mind,
Africa that brags her foyson,
Breeds no such prodigious poison,
Henbane, nightshade, both together,
Hemlock, aconite——
Nay rather,
Plant divine, of rarest virtue,
Blisters on the tongue would hurt you;
’Twas but in a sort I blamed thee,
None e’er prosper’d who defamed thee:
Irony all, and feign’d abuse,
Such as perplext Lovers use
At a need, when in despair
To paint forth their fairest fair,
Or in part but to express
That exceeding comeliness
Which their fancies does so strike,
They borrow language of Dislike,
And instead of Dearest Miss,
Honey, Jewel, Sweetheart, Bliss,
And, those forms of old admiring,
Call her Cockatrice and Syren,
Basilisk and all that’s evil,
Witch, Hyena, Mermaid, Devil,
Ethiop wench, and Blackamoor,
Monkey, Ape, and twenty more,
Friendly Traitress, Loving Foe:
Not that she is truly so,
But no other way they know
A contentment to express,
Borders so upon excess,
That they do not rightly wot,
Whether it be pain or not.
Or, as men, constrain’d to part
With what’s nearest to their heart,
While their sorrow’s at the height,
Lose discrimination quite,
And their hasty wrath let fall,
To appease their frantic gall,
On the darling thing whatever,
Whence they feel it death to sever,
Though it be, as they, perforce,
Guiltless of the sad divorce.
For I must (nor let it grieve thee,
Friendliest of plants, that I must) leave thee—
For thy sake, Tobacco, I
Would do anything but die;
And but seek to extend my days
Long enough to sing thy praise.
But, as She, who once has been
A King’s consort, is a Queen
Ever after; nor will bate
Any tittle of her state,
Though a widow, or divorced,
So I, from thy converse forced,
The old name and style retain,
(A right Katherine of Spain;)
And a seat too ’mongst the joys
Of the blest Tobacco Boys:
Where, though I by sour physician
Am debarr’d the full fruition
Of thy favours, I may catch
Some collateral sweets, and snatch
Sidelong odours, that give life
Like glances from a neighbour’s wife;
And still dwell in the by-places,
And the suburbs of thy graces,
And in thy borders take delight,
An unconquer’d Canaanite.

I wish you may think this a handsome farewell to my “Friendly Traitress.” Tobacco has been my evening comfort and my morning curse for these five years: and you know how difficult it is from refraining to pick one’s lips even, when it has become a habit This Poem is the only one which I have finished since so long as when I wrote “Hester Savory.” I have had it in my head to do it these two years, but Tobacco stood in its own light when it gave me head aches that prevented my singing its praises. Now you have got it, you have got all my store, for I have absolutely not another line. No more has Mary. We have nobody about us that cares for Poetry, and who will rear grapes when he shall be the sole eater? Perhaps if you encourage us to shew you what we may write, we may do something now and then before we absolutely forget the quantity of an English line for want of practice. The “Tobacco,” being a little in the way of Withers (whom Southey so much likes) perhaps you will somehow convey it to him with my kind remembrances. Then, everybody will have seen it that I wish to see it: I have sent it to Malta.

I remain Dear W. and D— yours truly,

C. Lamb.
28th Sep., 1805.

[“Last infirmity of noble mind” (Lycidas, 71).

“Sweet Enemy.” Sir Philip Sidney’s phrase, of France, in the sonnets. “Friendly Traitress.” Lamb may have been thinking of Helena’s phrase,
A counsellor, a traitress and a dear.
All’s Well,” I., 1, 184.

“Hang Work.” This paragraph is the germ of the sonnet entitled “Work” which Lamb wrote fourteen years later (see page 572). He seems always to have kept his thoughts in sight.

The “Farewell to Tobacco” was printed in the Reflector, No. IV., 1811 or 1812, and then in the Works, 1818 (see Notes to Vol. V. of this edition, pages 298-300.) Lamb’s farewell was frequently repeated; but it is a question whether he ever entirely left off smoking. Talfourd says that he did; but the late Mrs. Coe, who remembered Lamb at Widford about 1827-1830, credited him with the company of a black clay pipe. It was Lamb who, when Dr. Parr asked him how he managed to emit so much smoke, replied that he had toiled after it as other men after virtue. And Macready relates that he remarked in his presence that he wished to draw his last breath through a pipe and exhale it in a pun.

Hester Savory.” See page 262.]

[Early November, 1805.]

MY dear Sarah,—Certainly you are the best letter-writer (besides writing the best hand) in the world. I have just been reading over again your two long letters, and I perceive they make me very envious. I have taken a bran new pen, and put on my spectacles, and am peering with all my might to see the lines in the paper, which the sight of your even lines had well nigh tempted me to rule: and I have moreover taken two pinches of snuff extraordinary, to clear my head, which feels more cloudy than common this fine, chearful morning.

All I can gather from your clear and, I have no doubt, faithful history of Maltese politics is, that the good Doctor, though a firm friend, an excellent fancier of brooches, a good husband, an upright Advocate, and, in short, all that they say upon tomb stones (for I do not recollect that they celebrate any fraternal virtues there) yet is but a moody brother, that your sister in law is pretty much like what all sisters in law have been since the first happy invention of the happy marriage state; that friend Coleridge has undergone no alteration by crossing the Atlantic,—for his friendliness to you, as well as all the oddities you mention, are just what one ought to look for from him; and that you, my dear Sarah, have proved yourself just as unfit to flourish in a little, proud Garrison Town as I did shrewdly suspect you were before you went there.

If I possibly can, I will prevail upon Charles to write to your brother by the conveyance you mention; but he is so unwell, I almost fear the fortnight will slip away before I can get him in the right vein. Indeed, it has been sad and heavy times with us lately: when I am pretty well, his low spirits throws me back again; and when he begins to get a little chearful, then I do the same kind office for him. I heartily wish for the arrival of Coleridge; a few such evenings as we have sometimes passed with him would wind us up, and set us a going again.

Do not say any thing, when you write, of our low spirits—it will vex Charles. You would laugh, or you would cry, perhaps both, to see us sit together, looking at each other with long and rueful faces, and saying, “how do you do?” and “how do you do?” and then we fall a-crying, and say we will be better on the morrow. He says we are like tooth-ach and his friend gum bile—which,
though a kind of ease, is but an uneasy kind of ease, a comfort of rather an uncomfortable sort.

I rejoice to hear of your Mother’s amendment; when you can leave her with any satisfaction to yourself—which, as her sister, I think I understand by your letters, is with her, I hope you may soon be able to do—let me know upon what plan you mean to come to Town. Your brother proposed your being six months in Town, and six with your Mother; but he did not then know of your poor Mother’s illness. By his desire, I enquired for a respectable family for you, to board with; and from Captn. Burney I heard of one I thought would suit you at that time. He particularly desires I would not think of your being with us, not thinking, I conjecture, the home of a single man respectable enough. Your brother gave me most unlimited orders to domineer over you, to be the inspector of all your actions, and to direct and govern you with a stern voice and a high hand, to be, in short, a very elder brother over you—does not the hearing of this, my meek pupil, make you long to come to London? I am making all the proper enquiries against the time of the newest and most approved modes (being myself mainly ignorant in these points) of etiquette, and nicely correct maidenly manners.

But to speak seriously. I mean, when we mean [? meet], that we will lay our heads together, and consult and contrive the best way of making the best girl in the world the fine Lady her brother wishes to see her; and believe me, Sarah, it is not so difficult a matter as one is sometimes apt to imagine. I have observed many a demure Lady, who passes muster admirably well, who, I think, we could easily learn to imitate in a week or two. We will talk of these things when we meet. In the mean time, I give you free license to be happy and merry at Salisbury in any way you can. Has the partridge-season opened any communication between you and William—as I allow you to be imprudent till I see you, I shall expect to hear you have invited him to taste his own birds. Have you scratched him out of your will yet? Rickman is married, and that is all the news I have to send you.

Your Wigs were sent by Mr. Varvell about five months ago; therefore, he could have arrived when you came away.

I seem, upon looking over my letter again, to have written too lightly of your distresses at Malta; but, however I may have written, believe me, I enter very feelingly into all your troubles. I love you, and I love your brother; and between you, both of whom I think have been to blame, I know not what to say—only this I say, try to think as little as possible of past miscarriages; it was, perhaps, so ordered by Providence, that you might return home to be a comfort to your poor Mother, And do not, I con-
jure you, let her unhappy malady afflict you too deeply. I speak from experience, and from the opportunity I have had of much observation in such cases, that insane people, in the fancy’s they take into their heads, do not feel as one in a sane state of mind does under the real evil of poverty, the perception of having done wrong, or any such thing that runs in their heads.

Think as little as you can, and let your whole care be to be certain that she is treated with tenderness. I lay a stress upon this, because it is a thing of which people in her state are uncommonly susceptible, and which hardly any one is at all aware of: a hired nurse never, even though in all other respects they are good kind of people. I do not think your own presence necessary, unless she takes to you very much, except for the purpose of seeing with your own eyes that she is very kindly treated.

I do so long to see you! God bless and comfort you!

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.

[Miss Stoddart had now returned to England, to her mother at Salisbury, who had been and was very ill. Coleridge meanwhile had had coolnesses with Stoddart and had transferred himself to the roof of the Governor.

Rickman married, on October 30, 1805, Susanna Postlethwaite of Harting, in Sussex.]

November 10, 1805.

DEAR Hazlitt,—I was very glad to hear from you, and that your journey was so picturesque. We miss you, as we foretold we should. One or two things have happened, which are beneath the dignity of epistolary communication, but which, seated about our fire at night, (the winter hands of pork have begun) gesture and emphasis might have talked into some importance. Something about Rickman’s wife, for instance: how tall she is and that she visits prank’d out like a Queen of the May with green streamers—a good-natured woman though, which is as much as you can expect from a friend’s wife, whom you got acquainted with a bachelor. Some things too about Monkey, which can’t so well be written—how it set up for a fine Lady, and thought it had got
Lovers, and was obliged to be convinc’d of its age from the parish register, where it was proved to be only twelve; and an edict issued that it should not give itself airs yet these four years; and how it got leave to be called Miss, by grace;—these and such like Hows were in my head to tell you, but who can write? Also how
Manning’s come to town in spectacles, and studies physic; is melancholy and seems to have something in his head, which he don’t impart. Then, how I am going to leave off smoking. O la! your Leonardos of Oxford made my mouth water. I was hurried thro’ the gallery, and they escaped me. What do I say? I was a Goth then, and should not have noticed them. I had not settled my notions of Beauty. I have now for ever!—the small head, the [here is drawn a long narrow eye] long Eye,—that sort of peering curve, the wicked Italian mischief! the stick-at-nothing, Herodias’ daughter kind of grace. You understand me. But you disappoint me, in passing over in absolute silence the Blenheim Leonardo. Didn’t you see it? Excuse a Lover’s curiosity. I have seen no pictures of note since, except Mr. Dawe’s gallery. It is curious to see how differently two great men treat the same subject, yet both excellent in their way: for instance, Milton and Mr. Dawe. Mr. Dawe has chosen to illustrate the story of Sampson exactly in the point of view in which Milton has been most happy: the interview etween the Jewish Hero, blind and captive, and Dalilah. Milton has imagined his Locks grown again, strong as horse-hair or porcupine’s bristles; doubtless shaggy and black, as being hairs “which of a nation armed contained the strength.” I don’t remember, he says black: but could Milton imagine them to be yellow? Do you? Mr. Dawe with striking originality of conception has crowned him with a thin yellow wig, in colour precisely like Dyson’s, in curl and quantity resembling Mrs. Professor’s, his Limbs rather stout, about such a man as my Brother or Rickman—but no Atlas nor Hercules, nor yet so bony as Dubois, the Clown of Sadler’s Wells. This was judicious, taking the spirit of the story rather than the fact: for doubtless God could communicate national salvation to the trust of flax and tow as well as hemp and cordage, and could draw down a Temple with a golden tress as soon as with all the cables of the British Navy.—Miss Dawe is about a portrait of sulky Fanny Imlay, alias Godwin: but Miss Dawe is of opinion that her subject is neither reserved nor sullen, and doubtless she will persuade the picture to be of the same opinion. However, the features are tolerably like—Too much of Dawes! Wasn’t you sorry for Lord Nelson? I have followed him in fancy ever since I saw him walking in Pall Mall (I was prejudiced against him before) looking just as a Hero should look; and I have been very much cut about it indeed. He was the only pretence of a Great Man we
had. Nobody is left of any Name at all. His Secretary died by his side. I imagined him, a
Mr. Scott, to be the man you met at Hume’s; but I learn from Mrs. Hume that it is not the same. I met Mrs. H. one day, and agreed to go on the Sunday to Tea, but the rain prevented us, and the distance. I have been to apologise, and we are to dine there the first fine Sunday. Strange perverseness! I never went while you staid here, and now I go to find you! What other news is there, Mary?—What puns have I made in the last fortnight? You never remember them. You have no relish for the Comic. “O! tell Hazlitt not to forget to send the American Farmer. I dare say it isn’t so good as he fancies; but a Book’s a Book.” I have not heard from Wordsworth or from Malta since. Charles Kemble, it seems, enters into possession tomorrow. We sup at 109 Russell St. this evening. I wish your brother wouldn’t drink. It’s a blemish in the greatest characters. You send me a modern quotation poetical. How do you like this in an old play? Vittoria Corombona, a spunky Italian Lady, a Leonardo one, nick-named the White Devil, being on her trial for murder, &c.—and questioned about seducing a Duke from his wife and the State, makes answer:
“Condemn you me for that the Duke did love me?
So may you blame some fair and chrystal river,
For that some melancholic distracted man
Hath drown’d himself in it.”—

Our ticket was a £20. Alas!! are both yours blanks?

P.S.—Godwin has asked after you several times.

N.B.—I shall expect a Line from you, if but a bare Line, whenever you write to Russell St., and a Letter often when you do not. I pay no postage; but I will have consideration for you until parliament time and franks. Luck to Ned Search and the new art of colouring. Monkey sends her Love, and Mary especially.

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.

[Addressed to Hazlitt at Wem. This is the first letter from Lamb to Hazlitt that has been preserved. The two men first met at Godwin’s. Holcroft and Coleridge were disputing which was best—man as he is, or man as he ought to be. Lamb broke in with, “Give me man as he ought not to be.”

Hazlitt at this date was twenty-six, some three years younger than Lamb. He had just abandoned his project of being a painter and was settling down to literary work.

Rickman’s wife.” This passage holds the germ of Lamb’s essay on “The Behaviour of Married Persons,” first printed in the
Reflector, No. IV., in 1811 or 1812, and afterwards included with the Elia essays.

“Monkey” was Louisa Martin, a little girl of whom Lamb was fond and whom he knew to the end of his life (see Letter 576).

Manning studied medicine at the Westminster Hospital for six months previous to May, 1806.

“The Oxford Leonardos . . . the Blenheim Leonardo.” The only Leonardos at Oxford are the drawings at Christ Church. The Blenheim Leonardo was probably Boltraffio’s “Virgin and Child” which used to be ascribed to Da Vinci, as indeed were many pictures he never painted. Hazlitt subsequently wrote a work on the Picture Galleries of England, but he mentions none of these works.

“Mr. Dawe’s gallery.” George Dawe (1781-1829), afterwards R.A., of whom Lamb wrote his essay “Recollections of a Late Royal Academician,” where he alludes again to the picture of Samson (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 331).

“Which of a nation armed contained the strength” (Samson Agonistes, 1494).

“Dyson’s.” Dyson was a friend of Godwin. Mrs. Professor was Mrs. Godwin.

“Miss Dawe.” I know nothing further of George Dawe’s sister. Fanny Imlay was the unfortunate daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (by Gilbert Imlay the author). She committed suicide in 1816.

Nelson was killed on October 21, 1805. Scott was his chaplain, and he was not killed.

Hume was Joseph Hume, an official at Somerset House, whom we shall meet again directly.

The American Farmer was very likely Gilbert Imlay’s novel The Emigrants, 1793, or possibly his Topographical Description of the Western Territory of North America, 1792.

Charles Kemble, brother of John Philip Kemble and father of Fanny Kemble.

John Hazlitt, the miniature painter, lived at 109 Russell Street.

Lamb’s quotation, afterwards included in his Dramatic Specimens, 1808, is from Webster’sThe White Devil,” Act III., Scene 1.

The £20 ticket was presumably in the Lottery. Lamb’s essay “The Illustrious Defunct” (see Vol. I., page 259) shows him to have been interested in Lotteries; and in Letter No. 178 Mary Lamb states that he wrote Lottery puff’s.

“Ned Search.” Hazlitt was engaged on an abridgment of The Light of Nature Pursued, in seven volumes, 1768-1778, nominally by Edward Search, but really by Abraham Tucker.

“The new art of colouring” is a reference, I fancy, to Tingry, mentioned again on page 331.]

[November 9 and 14, 1805.]

MY dear Sarah,—After a very feverish night, I writ a letter to you; and I have been distressed about it ever since. In the first place, I have thought I treated too lightly your differences with your brother—which I freely enter into and feel for, but which I rather wished to defer saying much about till we meet. But that which gives me most concern is the way in which I talked about your Mother’s illness, and which I have since feared you might construe into my having a doubt of your showing her proper attention without my impertinent interference. God knows, nothing of this kind was ever in my thoughts; but I have entered very deeply into your affliction with regard to your Mother; and while I was wishing, the many poor souls in the kind of desponding way she is in, whom I have seen, came afresh into my mind; and all the mismanagement with which I have seen them treated was strong in my mind, and I wrote under a forcible impulse, which I could not at that time resist, but I have fretted so much about it since, that I think it is the last time I will ever let my pen run away with me.

Your kind heart will, I know, even if you have been a little displeased, forgive me, when I assure you my spirits have been so much hurt by my last illness, that at times I hardly know what I do. I do not mean to alarm you about myself, or to plead an excuse; but I am very much otherwise than you have always known me. I do not think any one perceives me altered, but I have lost all self-confidence in my own actions, and one cause of my low spirits is, that I never feel satisfied with any thing I do—a perception of not being in a sane state perpetually haunts me. I am ashamed to confess this weakness to you; which, as I am so sensible of, I ought to strive to conquer. But I tell you, that you may excuse any part of my letter that has given offence: for your not answering it, when you are such a punctual correspondent, has made me very uneasy.

Write immediately, my dear Sarah, but do not notice this letter, nor do not mention any thing I said relative to your poor Mother. Your handwriting will convince me you are friends with me; and if Charles, who must see my letter, was to know I had first written foolishly, and then fretted about the event of my folly, he would both ways be angry with me.


I would desire you to direct to me at home, but your hand is so well known to Charles, that that would not do. Therefore, take no notice of my megrums till we meet, which I most ardently long to do. An hour spent in your company would be a cordial to my drooping heart.

Pray write directly, and believe me, ever

Your affectionate friend,
M. Lamb.

Nov. 14.—I have kept this by me till to-day, hoping every day to hear from you. If you found the seal a clumsy one, it is because I opened the wafer.

Write, I beg, by the return of the post; and as I am very anxious to hear whether you are, as I fear, dissatisfied with me, you shall, if you please, direct my letter to Nurse. Her direction is, Mrs. Grant, at Mr. Smith’s, Maidenhead, Ram Court, Fleet Street.

I was not able, you know, to notice, when I writ to Malta, your letter concerning an insult you received from a vile wretch there; and as I mostly show my letters to Charles, I have never named it since. Did it ever come to your brother’s knowledge? Charles and I were very uneasy at your account of it. I wish I could see you.

Yours ever,
M. Lamb.

I do not mean to continue a secret correspondence, but you must oblige me with this one letter. In future I will always show my letters before they go, which will be a proper check upon my wayward pen.

[p.m. Nov. 15, 1805.]

DEAR Manning,—Certainly you could not have called at all hours from two till ten, for we have been only out of an evening Monday and Tuesday in this week. But if you think you have, your thought shall go for the deed. We did pray for you on Wednesday night. Oysters unusually luscious—pearls of extraordinary magnitude found in them. I have made bracelets of them—given them in clusters to ladies. Last night we went out in despite, because you were not come at your hour.

1805 TWO MR. LAMBS 329

This night we shall be at home, so shall we certainly both Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Take your choice, mind I don’t say of one, but choose which evening you will not, and come the other four. Doors open at five o’clock. Shells forced about nine. Every gentleman smokes or not as he pleases. O! I forgot, bring the £10, for fear you should lose it.

C. L.

[I append another note, without a date, printed by Talfourd:—]


DEAR Manning,—I sent to Brown’s immediately. Mr. Brown (or Pijou, as he is called by the moderns) denied the having received a letter from you. The one for you he remembered receiving, and remitting to Leadenhall Street; whither I immediately posted (it being the middle of dinner), my teeth unpicked. There I learned that if you want a letter set right, you must apply at the first door on the left hand before one o’clock. I returned and picked my teeth. And this morning I made my application in form, and have seen the vagabond letter, which most likely accompanies this. If it does not, I will get Rickman to name it to the Speaker, who will not fail to lay the matter before Parliament the next sessions, when you may be sure to have all abuses in the Post Department rectified.

N.B. There seems to be some informality epidemical. You direct yours to me in Mitre Court; my true address is Mitre Court Buildings. By the pleasantries of Fortune, who likes a joke or a double entendre as well as the best of her children, there happens to be another Mr. Lamb (that there should be two!!) in Mitre Court.

Farewell, and think upon it.

C. L.

[Here should come a letter from Mary Lamb to Mrs. Clarkson, dated December 25, 1805, printed by Mr. Macdonald. It states that Lamb has been latterly in indifferent health, and is unimportant.]