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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1806

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
Thursday, 15th Jan., 1806.

DEAR Hazlitt,—Godwin went to Johnson’s yesterday about your business. Johnson would not come down, or give any answer, but has promised to open the manuscript, and to give you an answer in one month. Godwin will punctually go again
(Wednesday is Johnson’s open day) yesterday four weeks next: i.e. in one lunar month from this time. Till when Johnson positively declines giving any answer. I wish you joy on ending your Search. Mrs. H. was naming something about a Life of
Fawcett, to be by you undertaken: the great Fawcett, as she explain’d to Manning, when he ask’d, What Fawcett? He innocently thought Fawcett the player. But Fawcett the Divine is known to many people, albeit unknown to the Chinese Enquirer. I should think, if you liked it, and Johnson declined it, that Phillips is the man. He is perpetually bringing out Biographies, Richardson, Wilkes, Foot, Lee Lewis, without number: little trim things in two easy volumes price 12s. the two, made up of letters to and from, scraps, posthumous trifles, anecdotes, and about forty pages of hard biography. You might dish up a Fawcettiad in 3 months, and ask 60 or 80 Pounds for it. I should dare say that Phillips would catch at it—I wrote to you the other day in a great hurry. Did you get it? This is merely a Letter of business at Godwin’s request.

Lord Nelson is quiet at last. His ghost only keeps a slight fluttering in odes and elegies in newspapers, and impromptus, which could not be got ready before the funeral.

As for news—We have Miss Stoddart in our house, she has been with us a fortnight and will stay a week or so longer. She is one of the few people who are not in the way when they are with you. No tidings of Coleridge. Fenwick is coming to town on Monday (it no kind angel intervene) to surrender himself to prison. He hopes to get the Rules of the Fleet. On the same, or nearly the same, day, Fell, my other quondam co-friend and drinker, will go to Newgate, and his wife and 4 children, I suppose, to the Parish. Plenty of reflection and motives of gratitude to the wise disposer of all things in us, whose prudent conduct has hitherto ensured us a warm fire and snug roof over our heads. Nullum numen abest si sit Prudentia.

Alas! Prudentia is in the last quarter of her tutelary shining over me. A little time and I ——

But may be I may, at last, hit upon some mode of collecting some of the vast superfluities of this money-voiding town. Much is to be got, and I don’t want much. All I ask is time and leisure; and I am cruelly off for them.

When you have the inclination, I shall be very glad to have a letter from you.—Your brother and Mrs. H., I am afraid, think hardly of us for not coming oftener to see them, but we are distracted beyond what they can conceive with visitors and visitings. I never have an hour for my head to work quietly its own workings; which you know is as necessary to the human system as sleep.


Sleep, too, I can’t get for these damn’d winds of a night: and without sleep and rest what should ensue? Lunacy. But I trust it won’t.

Yours, dear H., mad or sober,

C. Lamb.

[Hazlitt’s business was finding a publisher for his abridgment of Search (see page 326). Johnson was Priestley’s publisher. A letter to Godwin from Coleridge in June, 1803 (see Mr. Kegan Paul’s Life of Godwin, II., 96), had suggested such an abridgment, Coleridge adding that a friend of his would make it, and that he would write a preface and see the proofs through the press. Hence Godwin’s share in the matter. Coleridge’s part of the transaction was not carried out.

Hazlitt’s Life of Joseph Fawcett (?1758-1804), the poet and dissenting preacher of Walthamstow and Old Jewry, whom he had known intimately, was not written. The Fawcett of whom Manning, the Chinese Enquirer, was thinking was John Fawcett, famous as Dr. Pangloss and Caleb Quotem.

“The Fleet”—the prison for debtors in Farringdon Street. Closed in 1844. The Rules of the Fleet were the limits within which prisoners for debt were under certain conditions permitted to live: the north side of Ludgate Hill, the Old Bailey up to Fleet Lane, Fleet Lane to Fleet Market, and then back to Ludgate Hill. The Rules cost money: £10 for the first £100 of the debt and for every additional £100, £4. Later, Fenwick seems to have settled in America.

Nullum, numen abest si sit Prudentia”—“No protecting deity is wanting, if there is prudence.” Adapted from Juvenal, Satire X., 365.

Here should come an undated letter, not available for this edition (printed by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in Lamb and Hazlitt). The letter was accompanied by Tingry’s Painters and Varnisher’s Guide, 1804. Hazlitt, who was then painting, seems to have wanted prints of trees, probably for a background. Lamb says that he has been hunting in shop windows for him. He adds: “To supply poetry and wildness, you may read the American Farmer over again” (see Letter No. 138). The postscript runs, “Johnson shall not be forgot at his month’s end” (see above).]

Jan. 25th, 1806.

DEAR Rickman,—You do not happen to have any place at your disposal which would suit a decayed Literatus? I do not much expect that you have, or that you will go much out of the way to serve the object, when you hear it is Fenwick. But the case is, by a mistaking of his turn, as they call it, he is reduced, I am afraid, to extremities, and would be extremely glad of a place in an office. Now it does sometimes happen, that just as a man wants a place, a place wants him; and though this is a lottery to which none but G. B. would choose to trust his all, there is no harm just to call in at Despair’s office for a friend, and see if his number is come up (B.’s further case I enclose by way of episode). Now, if you should happen, or anybody you know, to want a hand, here is a young man of solid but not brilliant genius, who would turn his hand to the making out dockets, penning a manifesto, or scoring a tally, not the worse (I hope) for knowing Latin and Greek, and having in youth conversed with the philosophers. But from these follies I believe he is thoroughly awakened, and would bind himself by a terrible oath never to imagine himself an extraordinary genius again.

Yours, &c.,
C. Lamb.

[Mr. Hazlitt’s text, which I follow here, makes Lamb appeal for Fenwick; but other editors say Fell—except Talfourd, who says F. If, as Lamb says in his previous letter, Fell was bound for Newgate and Fenwick only for the Fleet, probably it was Fenwick. But the matter is not very important. Fenwick and Fell both came into Lamb’s life through Godwin and at this point they drop out. The enclosure concerning George Burnett is missing.]

[Dated at end: February 1st, 1806.]

DEAR Wordsworth—I have seen the Books which you ordered, booked at the White Horse Inn, Cripplegate, by the Kendal waggon this day 1st Feby. 1806; you will not fail
to see after them in time. They are directed to you at Grasmere. We have made some alteration in the Editions since your
sister’s directions. The handsome quarto Spencer which she authorized Mary to buy for £2. 12. 6, when she brought it home in triumph proved to be only the Fairy Queen: so we got them to take it again and I have procured instead a Folio, which luckily contains, besides all the Poems, the view of the State of Ireland, which is difficult to meet with. The Spencer, and the Chaucer, being noble old books, we did not think Stockdale’s modern volumes would look so well beside them; added to which I don’t know whether you are aware that the Print is excessive small, same as Eleg. Extracts, or smaller, not calculated for eyes in age; and Shakespear is one of the last books one should like to give up, perhaps the one just before the Dying Service in a large Prayer book. So we have used our own discretion in purchasing Pope’s fine Quarto in six volumes, which may be read ad ultimam horam vitæ. It is bound like Law Books (rather, half bound) and the Law Robe I have ever thought as comely and gentlemanly a garb as a Book would wish to wear. The state of the purchase then stands thus,
  Urrey’s Chaucer £1 . 16 —
  Pope’s Shakespeare   2 .   2 —
  Spenser         14 —
  Milton   1 .  5 —
  Packing Case &c.          3 . 6
    6 . — . 6
Which your Brother immediately repaid us. He has the Bills for all (by his desire) except the Spenser, which we took no bill with (not looking to have our accounts audited): so for that and the Case he took a separate receipt for 17/6. N.B. there is writing in the Shakespear: but it is only variæ lectiones which some careful gentleman, the former owner, was at the pains to insert in a very neat hand from 5 Commentators. It is no defacement. The fault of Pope’s edition is, that he has comically and coxcombically marked the Beauties: which is vile, as if you were to chalk up the cheek and across the nose of a handsome woman in red chalk to shew where the comeliest parts lay. But I hope the noble type and Library-appearance of the Books will atone for that. With the Books come certain Books and Pamphlets of G. Dyer, Presents or rather Decoy-ducks of the Poet to take in his thus-far obliged friends to buy his other works; as he takes care to inform them in M.S. notes to the Title Pages, “G. Dyer, Author of other Books printed for Longman &c.” The books have lain at your dis-
patchful brother’s a 12 months, to the great staling of most of the subjects. The three Letters and what is else written at the beginning of the respective Presents will ascertain the division of the Property. If not, none of the Donees, I dare say, will grudge a community of property in this case. We were constrained to pack ’em how we could, for room. Also there comes
W. Hazlitt’s book about Human Action, for Coleridge; a little song book for Sarah Coleridge; a Box for Hartley which your Brother was to have sent, but now devolved on us—I don’t know from whom it came, but the things altogether were too much for Mr. (I’ve forgot his name) to take charge of; a Paraphrase on the King and Queen of Hearts, of which I being the Author beg Mr. Johnny Wordsworth’s acceptance and opinion. Liberal Criticism, as G. Dyer declares, I am always ready to attend to!—And that’s all, I believe. N.B. I must remain Debtor to Dorothy for 200 pens: but really Miss Stoddart (women are great gulfs of Stationery), who is going home to Salisbury and has been with us some weeks, has drained us to the very last pen: by the time S. T. C. passes thro’ London I reckon I shall be in full feather. No more news has transpired of that Wanderer. I suppose he has found his way to some of his German friends.

A propos of Spencer (you will find him mentioned a page or two before, near enough for an a propos), I was discoursing on Poetry (as one’s apt to deceive onesself, and when a person is willing to talk of what one likes, to believe that he also likes the same: as Lovers do) with a Young Gentleman of my office who is deep read in Anacreon Moore, Lord Strangford, and the principal Modern Poets, and I happen’d to mention Epithalamiums and that I could shew him a very fine one of Spencer’s. At the mention of this, my Gentleman, who is a very fine Gentleman, and is brother to the Miss Evans who Coleridge so narrowly escaped marrying, pricked up his ears and exprest great pleasure, and begged that I would give him leave to copy it: he did not care how long it was (for I objected the length), he should be very happy to see any thing by him. Then pausing, and looking sad, he ejaculated Poor Spencer! I begged to know the reason of his ejaculation, thinking that Time had by this time softened down any calamities which the Bard might have endured—“Why, poor fellow!” said he “he has lost his Wife!” “Lost his Wife?” said I, “Who are you talking of?” “Why, Spencer,” said he. “I’ve read the Monody he wrote on the occasion, and a very pretty thing it is.” This led to an explanation (it could be delay’d no longer) that the sound Spencer, which when Poetry is talk’d of generally excites an image of an old Bard in a Ruff, and sometimes with it dim notions of Sir P. Sydney and perhaps Lord Burleigh, had raised in my Gentleman a quite
contrary image of The
Honourable William Spencer, who has translated some things from the German very prettily, which are publish’d with Lady Di. Beauclerk’s Designs.

Nothing like defining of Terms when we talk. What blunders might I have fallen into of quite inapplicable Criticism, but for this timely explanation.

N.B. At the beginning of Edm. Spencer (to prevent mistakes) I have copied from my own copy, and primarily from a book of Chalmers on Shakspear, a Sonnet of Spenser’s never printed among his poems. It is curious as being manly and rather Miltonic, and as a Sonnet of Spenser’s with nothing in it about Love or Knighthood. I have no room for remembrances; but I hope our doing your commission will prove we do not quite forget you.

C. L.
1 Feb., 1806.

[Stockdale’s Shakespeare was published in 1784. Pope’s Quarto was published in 1725.

Ad ultimam horam vitæ”—“To the last hour of life.”

Hazlitt’s book about Human Action for Coleridge”—An Essay on the Principles of Human Action, 1805.

“A Paraphrase of the King and Queen of Hearts.” This was a little book for children by Lamb, illustrated by Mulready and published by T. Hodgkins (for the Godwins) in 1806. It was discovered through this passage in this letter and is reprinted in facsimile in Vol. III. of the present edition. The title ran The King and Queen of Hearts, with the Rogueries of the Knave who stole away the Queen’s Pies.

Coleridge had left Malta on September 21, 1805. He went to Naples, and from there to Rome in January, 1806, where he stayed until May 18.

“A propos of Spencer.” This portion of the letter, owing to a mistake of Talfourd’s, is usually tacked on to one dated June, 1806.

Anacreon Moore was Thomas Moore; Lord Strangford, the diplomatist, was the author of Poems from the Portuguese of Camoens, 1803.

Miss Evans.” See note on page 25.

“Poor Spencer.” William Robert Spencer (1769-1834), was the author of jeux d’esprit and poems. He is now known, if at all, by his ballad of “Bed Gellert.” He married the widow of Count Spreti, and in 1804 published a book of elegies entitled “The Year of Sorrow.” Spencer was among the translators of Burger’sLeonore,” his version being illustrated by Lady Diana Beauclerk (his great-aunt) in 1796. Lamb used this anecdote as a little article
in the
Reflector, No. II., 1811, entitled “On the Ambiguities arising from Proper Names” (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 69). Lamb, however, by always spelling the real poet with a “c,” did nothing towards avoiding the ambiguity!

This is the sonnet which Lamb copied into Wordsworth’s Spenser from George ChalmersSupplemental Apology for the Believers in the Shakespeare-Papers (1799), page 94:—

To the Right worshipful, my singular good friend, Mr. Gabriel Harvey, Doctor of the Laws:—
Harvey, the happy above happiest men
I read: that sitting like a looker on
Of this world’s stage, doest note with critique pen
The sharp dislikes of each condition:
And as one careless of suspition,
Ne fawnest for the favour of the great:
Ne fearest foolish reprehension
Of faulty men, which danger to thee threat.
But freely doest, of what thee list, entreat,
Like a great Lord of peerless liberty:
Lifting the good up to high honours seat,
And the Evil damning ever more to dy.
For life, and death is [are] in thy doomful writing:
So thy renowne lives ever by endighting.”
Dublin: this xviij of July, 1586;
Your devoted friend, during life,
[Dated at end: Feb. 19, 1806.]

DEAR H.Godwin has just been here in his way from Johnson’s. Johnson has had a fire in his house; this happened about five weeks ago; it was in the daytime, so it did not burn the house down, but did so much damage that the house must come down, to be repaired: his nephew that we met on Hampstead Hill put it out: well, this fire has put him so back, that he craves one more month before he gives you an answer.

I will certainly goad Godwin (if necessary) to go again this very day four weeks; but I am confident he will want no goading.

Three or four most capital auctions of Pictures advertised. In May, Welbore Ellis Agar’s, the first private collection in England, so Holcroft says. In March, Sir George Young’s in Stratford-place (where Cosway lives), and a Mr. Hulse’s at Blackheath, both very capital collections, and have been announce for some months. Also the Marquis of Lansdowne’s Pictures in March; and though inferior to mention, lastly, the Tructhsessian gallery. Don’t your mouth water to be here?


T’other night Loftus called, whom we have not seen since you went before. We meditate a stroll next Wednesday, Fast-day. He happened to light upon Mr. Holcroft’s Wife, and Daughter, their first visit at our house.

Your brother called last night. We keep up our intimacy. He is going to begin a large Madona and child from Mrs. H. and baby. I fear he goes astray after ignes fatui. He is a clever man. By the bye, I saw a miniature of his as far excelling any in his shew cupboard (that of your sister not excepted) as that shew cupboard excells the shew things you see in windows—an old woman—damn her name—but most superlative; he has it to clean—I’ll ask him the name—but the best miniature I ever saw, equal to Cooper and them fellows. But for oil pictures!—what has he [to] do with Madonas? if the Virgin Mary were alive and visitable, he would not hazard himself in a Covent-Garden-pit-door crowd to see her. It an’t his style of beauty, is it?—But he will go on painting things he ought not to paint, and not painting things he ought to paint.

Manning is not gone to China, but talks of going this Spring. God forbid!

Coleridge not heard of.

I, going to leave off smoke. In mean time am so smoky with last night’s 10 Pipes, that I must leave off.

Mary begs her kind remembrances.

Pray write to us—

This is no Letter, but I supposed you grew anxious about Johnson.

N.B.—Have taken a room at 3/- a week, to be in between 5 & 8 at night, to avoid my nocturnal alias knock-eternal visitors. The first-fruits of my retirement has been a farce which goes to manager tomorrow. Wish my ticket luck.

God bless you, and do write.—Yours, fumosissimus,

C. Lamb.
Wednesday, 19 Feb., 1806.

[Addressed to Hazlitt at Wem.

Johnson was the publisher whom we have already seen considering Hazlitt’s abridgment of the Light of Nature Revealed.

Lamb was always interested in sales of pictures: the on-view days gave him some of his best opportunities of seeing good painting. The Truchsessian Picture Gallery was in New Road, opposite Portland Place. Exhibitions were held annually, the pictures being for sale.

Loftus was Tom Loftus of Wisbech, a cousin of Hazlitt.


Holcroft’s wife at that time, his fourth, was Louisa Mercier, who afterwards married Lamb’s friend, James Kenney, the dramatist. The daughter referred to was probably Fanny Holcroft, who subsequently wrote novels and translations.

Cooper, the miniature painter, would be Samuel Cooper (1609-1672), a connection by marriage of Pope’s mother, and the painter of Cromwell and other interesting men.

Lamb’s N.B. contains his first mention of his farce “Mr. H.” We are not told where the 3s. room was situated. Possibly in the Temple.]

[?Feb. 20, 21 and 22, 1806.]

MY dear Sarah,—I have heard that Coleridge was lately going through Sicily to Rome with a party, but that, being unwell, he returned back to Naples. We think there is some mistake in this account, and that his intended journey to Rome was in his former jaunt to Naples. If you know that at that time he had any such intention, will you write instantly? for I do not know whether I ought to write to Mrs. Coleridge or not.

I am going to make a sort of promise to myself and to you, that I will write you kind of journal-like letters of the daily what-we-do matters, as they occur. This day seems to me a kind of new era in our time. It is not a birthday, nor a new-year’s day, nor a leave-off-smoking day; but it is about an hour after the time of leaving you, our poor Phoenix, in the Salisbury Stage; and Charles has just left me for the first time to go to his lodgings; and I am holding a solitary consultation with myself as to the how I shall employ myself.

Writing plays, novels, poems, and all manner of such-like vapouring and vapourish schemes are floating in my head, which at the same time aches with the thought of parting from you, and is perplext at the idea of I-cannot-tell-what-about notion that I have not made you half so comfortable as I ought to have done, and a melancholy sense of the dull prospect you have before you on your return home. Then I think I will make my new gown; and now I consider the white petticoat will be better candle-light worth; and then I look at the fire, and think, if the irons was but down, I would iron my Gowns—you having put me out of conceit of mangling.


So much for an account of my own confused head; and now for yours. Returning home from the Inn, we took that to pieces, and ca[n]vassed you, as you know is our usual custom. We agreed we should miss you sadly, and that you had been, what you yourself discovered, not at all in our way; and although, if the Post Master should happen to open this, it would appear to him to be no great compliment, yet you, who enter so warmly into the interior of our affairs, will understand and value it, as well as what we likewise asserted, that since you have been with us you have done but one foolish thing, vide Pinckhorn (excuse my bad Latin, if it should chance to mean exactly contrary to what I intend). We praised you for the very friendly way in which you regarded all our whimsies, and, to use a phrase of Coleridge’s, understood us. We had, in short, no drawback on our eulogy on your merit, except lamenting the want of respect you have to yourself—the want of a certain dignity of action, you know what I mean, which—though it only broke out in the acceptance of the old Justice’s book, and was, as it were, smothered and almost extinct, while you were here—yet is so native a feeling in your mind, that you will do whatever the present moment prompts you to do, that I wish you would take that one slight offence seriously to heart, and make it a part of your daily consideration to drive this unlucky propensity, root and branch, out of your character.—Then, mercy on us, what a perfect little gentlewoman you will be!!!—

You are not yet arrived at the first stage of your journey; yet have I the sense of your absence so strong upon me, that I was really thinking what news I had to send you, and what had happened since you had left us. Truly nothing, except that Martin Burney met us in Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields, and borrowed four-pence, of the repayment of which sum I will send you due notice.

Friday [Feb. 21, 1806].—Last night I told Charles of your matrimonial overtures from Mr. White, and of the cause of that business being at a stand-still. Your generous conduct in acquainting Mr. White with the vexatious affair at Malta highly pleased him. He entirely approves of it. You would be quite comforted to hear what he said on the subject.

He wishes you success, and, when Coleridge comes, will consult with him about what is best to be done. But I charge you, be most strictly cautious how you proceed yourself. Do not give Mr. W. any reason to think you indiscreet; let him return of his own accord, and keep the probability of his doing so full in your mind; so, I mean, as to regulate your whole conduct by that expectation. Do not allow yourself to see, or in any way renew your acquaintance with, William, nor do not do any other silly thing of that kind; for, you may depend upon it, he will be a kind of spy upon
you, and, if he observes nothing that he disapproves of, you will certainly hear of him again in time.

Charles is gone to finish the farce, and I am to hear it read this night. I am so uneasy between my hopes and fears of how I shall like it, that I do not know what I am doing. I need not tell you so, for before I send this I shall be able to tell you all about it. If I think it will amuse you, I will send you a copy. The bed was very cold last night.

Feb. 21 [?22].—I have received your letter, and am happy to hear that your mother has been so well in your absence, which I wish had been prolonged a little, for you have been wanted to copy out the Farce, in the writing of which I made many an unlucky blunder.

The said Farce I carried (after many consultations of who was the most proper person to perform so important an office) to Wroughton, the Manager of Drury Lane. He was very civil to me; said it did not depend upon himself, but that he would put it into the Proprietors’ hands, and that we should certainly have an answer from them.

I have been unable to finish this sheet before, for Charles has taken a week’s holidays [from his] lodging, to rest himself after his labour, and we have talked to-night of nothing but the Farce night and day; but yesterday [I carri]ed it to Wroughton; and since it has been out of the [way, our] minds have been a little easier. I wish you had [been with] us, to have given your opinion. I have half a mind to sc[ribble] another copy, and send it you. I like it very much, and cannot help having great hopes of its success.

I would say I was very sorry for the death of Mr. White’s father; but not knowing the good old gentleman, I cannot help being as well satisfied that he is gone—for his son will feel rather lonely, and so perhaps he may chance to visit again Winterslow. You so well describe your brother’s grave lecturing letter, that you make me ashamed of part of mine. I would fain rewrite it, leaving out my ‘sage advice;’ but if I begin another letter, something may fall out to prevent me from finishing it,—and, therefore, skip over it as well as you can; it shall be the last I ever send you.

It is well enough, when one is talking to a friend, to hedge in an odd word by way of counsel now and then; but there is something mighty irksome in its staring upon one in a letter, where one ought only to see kind words and friendly remembrances.

I have heard a vague report from the Dawes (the pleasant-looking young lady we called upon was Miss Daw), that Coleridge returned back to Naples: they are to make further enquiries, and let me know the particulars. We have seen little or nothing of Manning since you went. Your friend [George] Burnett calls as usual, for Charles to point out something for him. I miss you
sadly, and but for the fidget I have been in about the Farce, I should have missed you still more. I am sorry you cannot get your money, continue to tell us all your perplexities, and do not mind being called Widow Blackacre.

Say all in your mind about your Lover, now Charles knows of it; he will be as anxious to hear as me. All the time we can spare from talking of the characters and plot of the Farce, we talk of you. I have got a fresh bottle of Brandy to-day: if you were here, you should have a glass, three parts brandy—so you should. I bought a pound of bacon to-day, not so good as yours. I wish the little caps were finished. I am glad the Medicines and the Cordials bore the fatigue of their journey so well. I promise you I will write often, and not mind the postage. God bless you. Charles does not send his love, because he is not here.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.

Write as often as ever you can. Do not work too hard.


[Mr. Hazlitt dates this letter April, thinking that Mary Lamb’s pen slipped when she wrote February 21 half-way through. But I think February must be right; because (1) Miss Stoddart has only just left, and Lamb tells Hazlitt in January that she is staying a week or so longer: April would make this time three months; and (2) Lamb has told Hazlitt on February 19 that his farce is finished.

Coleridge left Malta for Rome on September 21, 1805. He was probably at Naples from October, 1805, to the end of January, 1806, when he went to Rome, remaining there until May 18. Writing to Mrs. Clarkson on March 2, 1806, Dorothy Wordsworth quotes from a letter written on February 25 by Mary Lamb to Mrs. S. T. Coleridge and containing this passage: “My Brother has received a letter from Stoddart dated December 26, in which he tells him that Coleridge was then at Naples. We have also heard from a Mr. Dawe that a friend of his had received a letter of the same date, which mentioned Coleridge having been lately travelling towards Rome with a party of gentlemen; but that he changed his mind and returned back to Naples. Stoddart says nothing more than that he was driven to Naples in consequence of the French having taken possession of Trieste.” (See the Athenæum, January 23, 1904.)

Vide Pinckhorn.” I cannot explain this, unless a Justice Pinckhorn had ogled Sarah Stoddart and offered her a present of a
Mary Lamb, by the way, some years later taught Latin to William Hazlitt, Junior, Sarah’s son.

Martin Charles Burney, the son of Captain Burney, born in 1788, a devoted admirer of the Lambs to the end. He was now only eighteen. We shall often meet him again.

Mr. White was not Lamb’s friend James White.

Winterslow, in Wiltshire, about six miles from Salisbury, was a small property belonging to Sarah Stoddart.

“Widow Blackacre.” In Wycherley’sPlain Dealer:” a busybody and persistent litigant.]

[March, 1806.]

MY dear Sarah,—No intention of forfeiting my promise, but mere want of time, has prevented me from continuing my journal. You seem pleased with the long, stupid one I sent, and, therefore, I shall certainly continue to write at every opportunity. The reason why I have not had any time to spare, is because Charles has given himself some hollidays after the hard labour of finishing his farce, and, therefore, I have had none of the evening leisure I promised myself. Next week he promises to go to work again. I wish he may happen to hit upon some new plan, to his mind, for another farce: when once begun, I do not fear his perseverance, but the hollidays he has allowed himself, I fear, will unsettle him. I look forward to next week with the same kind of anxiety I did to the first entrance at the new lodging. We have had, as you know, so many teasing anxieties of late, that I have got a kind of habit of foreboding that we shall never be comfortable, and that he will never settle to work: which I know is wrong, and which I will try with all my might to overcome—for certainly, if I could but see things as they really are, our prospects are considerably improved since the memorable day of Mrs. Fenwick’s last visit. I have heard nothing of that good lady, or of the Fells, since you left us.

We have been visiting a little—to Norris’s, to Godwin’s; and last night we did not come home from Captain Burney’s till two o’clock: the Saturday night was changed to Friday, because Rickman could not be there to-night. We had the best tea things, and the litter all cleared away, and every thing as handsome as possible—Mrs. Rickman being of the party. Mrs. Rickman is much increased in size since we saw her last, and the alteration
1806LAMB BUSY343
in her strait shape wonderfully improves her.
Phillips was there, and Charles had a long batch of Cribbage with him: and, upon the whole, we had the most chearful evening I have known there a long time. To-morrow, we dine at Holcroft’s. These things rather fatigue me; but I look for a quiet week next week, and hope for better times. We have had Mrs. Brooks and all the Martins, and we have likewise been there; so that I seem to have been in a continual bustle lately. I do not think Charles cares so much for the Martins as he did, which is a fact you will be glad to hear—though you must not name them when you write: always remember, when I tell you any thing about them, not to mention their names in return.

We have had a letter from your brother, by the same mail as yours, I suppose; he says he does not mean to return till summer, and that is all he says about himself; his letter being entirely filled with a long story about Lord Nelson—but nothing more than what the newspapers have been full of, such as his last words, &c. Why does he tease you with so much good advice? is it merely to fill up his letters as he filled ours with Lord Nelson’s exploits? or has any new thing come out against you? has he discovered Mr. Curse-a-rat’s correspondence? I hope you will not write to that news-sending gentleman any more. I promised never more to give my advice, but one may be allowed to hope a little; and I also hope you will have something to tell me soon about Mr. W[hite]: have you seen him yet? I am sorry to hear your Mother is not better, but I am in a hoping humour just now, and I cannot help hoping that we shall all see happier days. The bells are just now ringing for the taking of the Cape of Good Hope.

I have written to Mrs. Coleridge to tell her that her husband is at Naples; your brother slightly named his being there, but he did not say that he had heard from him himself. Charles is very busy at the Office; he will be kept there to-day till seven or eight o’Clock: and he came home very smoky and drinky last night; so that I am afraid a hard day’s work will not agree very well with him.

O dear! what shall I say next? Why this I will say next, that I wish you was with me; I have been eating a mutton chop all alone, and I have been just looking in the pint porter pot, which I find quite empty, and yet I am still very dry. If you was with me, we would have a glass of brandy and water; but it is quite impossible to drink brandy and water by oneself; therefore, I must wait with patience till the kettle boils. I hate to drink tea alone, it is worse than dining alone. We have got a fresh cargo of biscuits from Captain Burney’s. I have——

March 14.—Here I was interrupted; and a long, tedious interval has intervened, during which I have had neither time nor
inclination to write a word. The Lodging—that pride and pleasure of your heart and mine—is given up, and here he is again
Charles, I mean—as unsettled and as undetermined as ever. When he went to the poor lodging, after the hollidays I told you he had taken, he could not endure the solitariness of them, and I had no rest for the sole of my foot till I promised to believe his solemn protestations that he could and would write as well at home as there. Do you believe this?

I have no power over Charles: he will do—what he will do. But I ought to have some little influence over myself. And therefore I am most manfully resolving to turn over a new leaf with my own mind. Your visit to us, though not a very comfortable one to yourself, has been of great use to me. I set you up in my fancy as a kind of thing that takes an interest in my concerns; and I hear you talking to me, and arguing the matter very learnedly, when give way to despondency. You shall hear a good account of me, and the progress I make in altering my fretful temper to a calm and quiet one. It is but being once thorowly convinced one is wrong, to make one resolve to do so no more; and I know my dismal faces have been almost as great a drawback upon Charles’s comfort, as his feverish, teazing ways have been upon mine. Our love for each other has been the torment of our lives hitherto. I am most seriously intending to bend the whole force of my mind to counteract this, and I think I see some prospect of success.

Of Charles ever bringing any work to pass at home, I am very doubtful; and of the farce succeeding, I have little or no hope; but if I could once get into the way of being chearful myself, I should see an easy remedy in leaving town and living cheaply, almost wholly alone; but till I do find we really are comfortable alone, and by ourselves, it seems a dangerous experiment. We shall certainly stay where we are till after next Christmas; and in the mean time, as I told you before, all my whole thoughts shall be to change myself into just such a chearful soul as you would be in a lone house, with no companion but your brother, if you had nothing to vex you—nor no means of wandering after Curse-a-rats.

Do write soon: though I write all about myself, I am thinking all the while of you, and I am uneasy at the length of time it seems since I heard from you. Your Mother, and Mr. White, is running continually in my head; and this second winter makes me think how cold, damp, and forlorn your solitary house will feel to you. I would your feet were perched up again on our fender.

Manning is not yet gone. Mrs. Holcroft is brought to bed. Mrs. Reynolds has been confined at home with illness, but is recovering. God bless you.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.

[“Norris’s”—Randal Norris, sub-treasurer of the Inner Temple, whose wife, née Faint, came from Widford, where she had known Lamb’s grandmother, Mary Field.

Captain Burney’s whist parties, in Little James Street, Pimlico, were, as a rule, on Saturdays. Later Lamb established a Wednesday party.

Of Mrs. Brooks I have no knowledge; nor of him whom Mary Lamb called Mr. Curse-a-rat.

“The Cape of Good Hope.” The Cape of Good Hope, having been taken by the English in 1795 from the Dutch, and restored to them at the Peace of Amiens in 1802, had just been retaken by the English.

Mrs. Holcroft is brought to bed.” The child was Louisa, afterwards Mrs. Badams.]

March, 1806.

DEAR Rickman,—I send you some papers about a salt-water soap, for which the inventor is desirous of getting a parliamentary reward, like Dr. Jenner. Whether such a project be feasible, I mainly doubt, taking for granted the equal utility. I should suppose the usual way of paying such projectors is by patents and contracts. The patent, you see, he has got. A contract he is about with the Navy Board. Meantime, the projector is hungry. Will you answer me two questions, and return them with the papers as soon as you can? Imprimis, is there any chance of success in application to Parliament for a reward? Did you ever hear of the invention? You see its benefits and saving to the nation (always the first motive with a true projector) are feelingly set forth: the last paragraph but one of the estimate, in enumerating the shifts poor seamen are put to, even approaches to the pathetic. But, agreeing to all he says, is there the remotest chance of Parliament giving the projector anything; and when should application be made, now or after a report (if he can get it) from the navy board? Secondly, let the infeasibility be as great as you will, you will oblige me by telling me the way of introducing such an application to Parliament, without buying over a majority of members, which is totally out of projector’s
power. I vouch nothing for the soap myself; for I always wash in fresh water, and find it answer tolerably well for all purposes of cleanliness; nor do I know the projector; but a relation of mine has put me on writing to you, for whose parliamentary knowledge he has great veneration.

P.S. The Capt. and Mrs. Burney and Phillips take their chance at cribbage here on Wednesday. Will you and Mrs. R. join the party? Mary desires her compliments to Mrs. R., and joins in the invitation.

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.

[Rickman now held the post of private secretary to the Speaker, Charles Abbot, afterwards Lord Colchester.

Captain Burney we have already met. His wife, Sarah Burney, was, there is good reason to suppose, in Lamb’s mind when he wrote the Elia essay “Mrs. Battle’s Opinions on Whist.” Phillips was either Colonel Phillips, a retired officer of marines, who had sailed with Burney and Captain Cook, had known Dr. Johnson, and had married Burney’s sister; or Ned Phillips (Rickman’s Secretary) mentioned in the note to Letter 488, on page 838.]

March 15, 1806.

DEAR H.—I am a little surprised at no letter from you. This day week, to wit, Saturday, the 8th of March, 1806, I booked off by the Wem coach, Bull and Mouth Inn, directed to you, at the Rev. Mr. Hazlitt’s, Wem, Shropshire, a parcel containing, besides a book, &c., a rare print, which I take to be a Titian; begging the said W. H. to acknowledge the receipt thereof; which he not having done, I conclude the said parcel to be lying at the inn, and may be lost; for which reason, lest you may be a Wales-hunting at this instant, I have authorised any of your family, whosoever first gets this, to open it, that so precious a parcel may not moulder away for want of looking after. What do you in Shropshire when so many fine pictures are a-going, a-going every day in London? Monday I visit the Marquis of Lansdowne’s, in Berkeley Square. Catalogue 2s. 6d. Leonardos in plenty. Some other day this week I go to see Sir Wm. Young’s, in Stratford
Hulse’s, of Blackheath, are also to be sold this month; and in May, the first private collection in Europe, Welbore Ellis Agar’s. And there are you, perverting Nature in lying landscapes, filched from old rusty Titians, such as I can scrape up here to send you, with an additament from Shropshire Nature thrown in to make the whole look unnatural. I am afraid of your mouth watering when I tell you that Manning and I got into Angerstein’s on Wednesday. Mon Dieu! Such Claudes! Four Claudes bought for more than £10,000 (those who talk of Wilson being equal to Claude are either mainly ignorant or stupid); one of these was perfectly miraculous. What colours short of bonâ fide sunbeams it could be painted in, I am not earthly colourman enough to say; but I did not think it had been in the possibility of things. Then, a music-piece by Titian—a thousand-pound picture—five figures standing behind a piano, the sixth playing; none of the heads, as M. observed, indicating great men, or affecting it, but so sweetly disposed; all leaning separate ways, but so easy—like a flock of some divine shepherd; the colouring, like the economy of the picture, so sweet and harmonious—as good as Shakspeare’sTwelfth Night,”—almost, that is. It will give you a love of order, and cure you of restless, fidgetty passions for a week after—more musical than the music which it would, but cannot, yet in a manner does, show. I have no room for the rest. Let me say, Angerstein sits in a room—his study (only that and the library are shown)—when he writes a common letter, as I am doing, surrounded with twenty pictures worth £60,000. What a luxury! Apicius and Heliogabalus, hide your diminished heads!

Yours, my dear painter,

C. Lamb.

[Angerstein’s was the house of John Julius Angerstein (1735-1823) the financier, in Pall Mall. He had a magnificent collection of pictures, £60,000 worth of which were bought on his death by the nation, to form the nucleus of our National Gallery. A portrait of Angerstein by Lawrence hangs there. The Titian of which Lamb speaks is now attributed to the School of Titian. It is called “A Concert,” and is No. 8 in the National Gallery catalogue. See opposite page. Angerstein’s Claudes are also in the National Gallery, Nos. 2, 5, 12, 14 and 30.]

May 10, 1806.

MY dear Manning—I didn’t know what your going was till I shook a last fist with you, and then ’twas just like having shaken hands with a wretch on the fatal scaffold, and when you are down the ladder, you can never stretch out to him again. Mary says you are dead, and there’s nothing to do but to leave it to time to do for us in the end what it always does for those who mourn for people in such a case. But she’ll see by your letter you are not quite dead. A little kicking and agony, and then ——. Martin Burney took me out a walking that evening, and we talked of Mister Manning; and then I came home and smoked for you; and at twelve o’Clock came home Mary and Monkey Louisa from the play, and there was more talk and more smoking, and they all seemed first-rate characters, because they knew a certain person. But what’s the use of talking about ’em? By the time you’ll have made your escape from the Kalmuks, you’ll have staid so long I shall never be able to bring to your mind who Mary was, who will have died about a year before, nor who the Holcrofts were! Me perhaps you will mistake for Phillips, or confound me with Mr. Daw, because you saw us together. Mary (whom you seem to remember yet) is not quite easy that she had not a formal parting from you. I wish it had so happened. But you must bring her a token, a shawl or something, and remember a sprightly little Mandarin for our mantle-piece, as a companion to the Child I am going to purchase at the Museum. She says you saw her writings about the other day, and she wishes you should know what they are. She is doing for Godwin’s bookseller twenty of Shakspear’s plays, to be made into Children’s tales. Six are already done by her, to wit, ‘The Tempest,’ ‘Winter’s Tale,’ ‘Midsummer Night,’ ‘Much Ado,’ ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona,’ and ‘Cymbeline:’ ‘The Merchant of Venice’ is in forwardness. I have done ‘Othello’ and ‘Macbeth,’ and mean to do all the tragedies. I think it will be popular among the little people. Besides money. It is to bring in 60 guineas. Mary has done them capitally, I think you’d think. These are the humble amusements we propose, while you are gone to plant the cross of Christ among barbarous Pagan anthropophagi. Quam homo homini præstat! but then, perhaps, you’ll get murder’d, and we shall die in our beds with a fair literary reputation. Be sure, if you see any of those people whose heads do grow beneath
their shoulders, that you make a draught of them. It will be very curious. O Manning, I am serious to sinking almost, when I think that all those evenings, which you have made so pleasant, are gone perhaps for ever. Four years you talk of, maybe ten, and you may come back and find such alterations! Some circumstance may grow up to you or to me, that may be a bar to the return of any such intimacy. I daresay all this is Hum, and that all will come back; but indeed we die many deaths before we die, and I am almost sick when I think that such a hold as I had of you is gone. I have friends, but some of ’em are changed. Marriage, or some circumstance, rises up to make them not the same. But I felt sure of you. And that last token you gave me of expressing a wish to have my name joined with yours, you know not how it affected me: like a legacy.

God bless you in every way you can form a wish. May He give you health, and safety, and the accomplishment of all your objects, and return you again to us, to gladden some fireside or other (I suppose we shall be moved from the Temple). I will nurse the remembrance of your steadiness and quiet, which used to infuse something like itself into our nervous minds. Mary called you our ventilator. Farewell, and take her best wishes and mine.

One thing more. When you get to Canton, you will most likely see a young friend of mine, Inspector of Teas, named Ball. He is a very good fellow and I should like to have my name talked of in China. Give my kind remembrances to the same Ball.

Good bye.
C. L.

[Addressed to “Mr. Manning, Passenger on Board the Thames, East Indiaman, Portsmouth.”

Manning sailed for China this month. He did not return to England until 1817. His nominal purpose was to practise medicine there, not to spread Christianity, as Lamb suggests—probably in fun.

This is Manning’s reply to Lamb’s letter:—

Dear Lamb—As we are not sailed yet, and I have a few minutes, why should not I give you a line to say that I received your kind letter yesterday, and shall read it again before I have done with it. I am sorry I had not time to call on Mary, but I did not even call on my own Father, and he’s 70 and loves me like a Father. I don’t know that you can do any thing for me at the India House: if you hear any thing there about me, communicate it to Mr. Crabtree, 13, Newgate Street. I am not dead,
nor dying—some people go into Yorkshire for four [years], and I have no currant jelly aboard. Tell
Holcroft I received his kind letter.

“T. Manning for ever.”

Quam homo homini præstat.” Terence, “Eunuchus,” II., 2, 1, “Di immortales! homini homo quid præstat!”—“Immortal gods! what a difference there is between one man and another!”

See Appendix II., page 969, for addition to this letter.]

[Mr. W. C. Hazlitt dates: June 2, 1806.]

MY dear Sarah,—You say truly that I have sent you too many make-believe letters. I do not mean to serve you so again, if I can help it. I have been very ill for some days past with the toothache. Yesterday, I had it drawn; and I feel myself greatly relieved, but far from easy, for my head and my jaws still ache; and, being unable to do any business, I would wish to write you a long letter, to atone for my former offences; but I feel so languid, that I am afraid wishing is all I can do.

I am sorry you are so worried with business; and I am still more sorry for your sprained ancle. You ought not to walk upon it. What is the matter between you and your good-natured maid you used to boast of? and what the devil is the matter with your Aunt? You say she is discontented. You must bear with them as well as you can; for, doubtless, it is you[r] poor Mother’s teazing that puts you all out of sorts. I pity you from my heart.

We cannot come to see you this summer, nor do I think it advisable to come and incommode you, when you for the same expence could come to us. Whenever you feel yourself disposed to run away from your troubles, come up to us again. I wish it was not such a long, expensive journey, then you could run backwards and forwards every month or two.

I am very sorry you still hear nothing from Mr. White. I am afraid that is all at an end. What do you intend to do about Mr. Turner?

I believe Mr. Rickman is well again, but I have not been able to get out lately to enquire, because of my toothache. Louisa Martin is quite well again.

William Hazlitt, the brother of him you know, is in town. I believe you have heard us say we like him? He came in good time; for the loss of Manning made Charles very dull, and he likes
Hazlitt better than any body, except Manning. My toothache has moped Charles to death: you know how he hates to see people ill.

Mrs. Reynolds has been this month past at Deptford, so that I never know when Monday comes. I am glad you have got your Mother’s pension.

My Tales are to be published in separate story-books; I mean, in single stories, like the children’s little shilling books. I cannot send you them in Manuscript, because they are all in the Godwins’ hands; but one will be published very soon, and then you shall have it all in print. I go on very well, and have no doubt but I shall always be able to hit upon some such kind of job to keep going on. I think I shall get fifty pounds a year at the lowest calculation; but as I have not yet seen any money of my own earning, for we do not expect to be paid till Christmas, I do not feel the good fortune, that has so unexpectedly befallen me, half so much as I ought to do. But another year, no doubt, I shall perceive it.

When I write again, you will hear tidings of the farce, for Charles is to go in a few days to the Managers to enquire about it. But that must now be a next-year’s business too, even if it does succeed; so it’s all looking forward, and no prospect of present gain. But that’s better than no hopes at all, either for present or future times.

Charles has written Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and has begun Hamlet; you would like to see us, as we often sit, writing on one table (but not on one cushion sitting), like Hermia and Helena in the Midsummer’s Night’s Dream; or, rather, like an old literary Darby and Joan: I taking snuff, and he groaning all the while, and saying he can make nothing of it, which he always says till he has finished, and then he finds out he has made something of it.

If I tell you that you Widow-Blackacreise, you must tell me I Tale-ise, for my Tales seem to be all the subject matter I write about; and when you see them, you will think them poor little baby-stories to make such a talk about; but I have no news to send, nor nothing, in short, to say, that is worth paying two pence for. I wish I could get franks, then I should not care how short or stupidly I wrote.

Charles smokes still, and will smoke to the end of the chapter.

Martin [Burney] has just been here. My Tales (again) and Charles’s Farce has made the boy mad to turn Author; and he has written a Farce, and he has made the Winter’s Tale into a story; but what Charles says of himself is really true of Martin, for he can make nothing at all of it: and I have been talking very eloquently this morning, to convince him that nobody can write farces, &c., under thirty years of age. And so I suppose he will go home and new model his farce.


What is Mr. Turner? and what is likely to come of him? and how do you like him? and what do you intend to do about it? I almost wish you to remain single till your Mother dies, and then come and live with us; and we would either get you a husband, or teach you how to live comfortably without. I think I should like to have you always to the end of our lives living with us; and I do not know any reason why that should not be, except for the great fancy you seem to have for marrying, which after all is but a hazardous kind of an affair: but, however, do as you like; every man knows best what pleases himself best.

I have known many single men I should have liked in my life (if it had suited them) for a husband: but very few husbands have I ever wished was mine, which is rather against the state in general; but one never is disposed to envy wives their good husbands. So much for marrying—but however, get married, if you can.

I say we shall not come and see you, and I feel sure we shall not: but, if some sudden freak was to come into our wayward heads, could you at all manage?—Your Mother we should not mind, but I think still it would be so vastly inconvenient.—I am certain we shall not come, and yet you may tell me, when you write, if it would be horribly inconvenient if we did; and do not tell me any lies, but say truly whether you would rather we did or not.

God bless you, my dearest Sarah! I wish, for your sake, I could have written a very amusing letter; but do not scold, for my head aches sadly. Don’t mind my headach, for before you get this it will be well, being only from the pains of my jaws and teeth. Farewel.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.

[This letter contains the first mention to Sarah Stoddart of William Hazlitt, who was shortly to put an end to the claims both of Mr. White and Mr. Turner.

The Tales from Shakespear, although mainly Mary Lamb’s book, did not bear her name for many years, not until after her brother’s death. Her connection with it was, however, made public in more than one literary year-book of her day. Originally they were to be unsigned, but Godwin “cheated” Lamb into putting a name to them (see Letter 161). The single stories, which Mrs. Godwin issued at sixpence each, are now excessively rare. The ordinary first edition in two volumes is a valuable possession, much desired by collectors.]

1806 “MR. H.” ACCEPTED 353
[p.m. June 26, 1806.]

DEAR Wordsworth—We got the six pounds safe in your sister’s letters—are pleased, you may be sure, with the good news of Mrs. W.—hope all is well over by this time. “A fine boy!—have you any more? one more and a girl—poor copies of me” vide Mr. H. a farce which the Proprietors have done me the honor—but I will set down Mr. Wroughton’s own words. N.B. the ensuing letter was sent in answer to one which I wrote begging to know if my piece had any chance, as I might make alterations, &c. I writing on the Monday, there comes this letter on the Wednesday. Attend.

(Copy of a Letter from Mr. Rd. Wroughton)

Sir, Your Piece of Mr. H—I am desired to say, is accepted at Drury Lane Theatre, by the Proprietors, and, if agreeable to you, will be brought forwards when the proper opportunity serves—the Piece shall be sent to you for your Alterations in the course of a few days, as the same is not in my Hands but with the Proprietors.

I am Sir,
Your obedient sert.,
Rd. Wroughton.
66 Gower St.
June 11, 1806

On the following Sunday Mr. Tobin comes. The scent of a manager’s letter brought him. He would have gone further any day on such a business. I read the letter to him. He deems it authentic and peremptory. Our conversation naturally fell upon pieces—different sorts of pieces—what is the best way of offering a piece—how far the caprice of managers is an obstacle in the way of a piece—how to judge of the merits of a piece—how long a piece may remain in the hands of the managers before it is acted—and my piece—and your piece—and my poor brother’s piece—my poor brother was all his life endeavouring to get a piece accepted—

I am not sure that when my poor Brother bequeathed the care of his pieces to Mr. James Tobin he did not therein convey a legacy which in some measure mollified the otherwise first stupefactions of grief. It can’t be expected that the present Earl Nelson passes all his time in watering the laurels of the Admiral with Right Reverend Tears. Certainly he steals a fine day now and then to plot how to lay out the grounds and mansion at Burnham most
suitably to the late Earl’s taste, if he had lived, and how to spend the hundred thousand pound parliament has given him in erecting some little neat monument to his memory.

MR. H. I wrote that in mere wantonness of triumph. Have nothing more to say about it. The Managers I thank my stars have decided its merits for ever. They are the best judges of pieces, and it would be insensible in me to affect a false modesty after the very flattering letter which I have received and the ample—

I think this will be as good a pattern for Orders as I can think on. A little thin flowery border round, neat not gaudy, and the Drury Lane Apollo with the harp at the top. Or shall I have no Apollo?—simply nothing? Or perhaps the Comic Muse?

[Here came the picture of the box ticket. See opposite page.]

The same form, only I think without the Apollo, will serve for the pit and galleries. I think it will be best to write my name at full length; but then if I give away a great many, that will be tedious. Perhaps Ch. Lamb will do. BOXES now I think on it I’ll have in Capitals. The rest in a neat Italian hand. Or better perhaps, Boxes, in old English character, like Madoc or Thalaba?

I suppose you know poor Mountague has lost his wife. That has been the reason for my sending off all we have got of yours separately. I thought it a bad time to trouble him. The Tea 25 lb. in 5 5 lb. Papers, two sheets to each, with the chocolate which we were afraid Mrs. W. would want, comes in one Box and the Hats in a small one. I booked them off last night by the Kendal waggon. There comes with this letter (no, it comes a day or two earlier) a Letter for you from the Doctor at Malta, about Coleridge, just received. Nothing of certainty, you see, only that he is not at Malta. We supt with the Clarksons one night—Mrs. Clarkson pretty well. Mr. C. somewhat fidgety, but a good man. The Baby has been on a visit to Mrs. Charlotte Smith, Novellist-and morals-trainer, but is returned. [A short passage omitted here.]

Mary is just stuck fast in All’s Well that Ends Well. She complains of having to set forth so many female characters in boy’s clothes. She begins to think Shakspear must have wanted Imagination. I to encourage her, for she often faints in the prosecution of her great work, flatter her with telling her how well such a play and such a play is done. But she is stuck fast and I have been obliged to promise to assist her. To do this it will be necessary to leave off Tobacco. But I had some thoughts of doing that before,
for I sometimes think it does not agree with me.
W. Hazlitt is in Town. I took him to see a very pretty girl professedly, where there were two young girls—the very head and sum of the Girlery was two young girls—they neither laughed nor sneered nor giggled nor whispered—but they were young girls—and he sat and frowned blacker and blacker, indignant that there should be such a thing as Youth and Beauty, till he tore me away before supper in perfect misery and owned he could not bear young girls. They drove him mad. So I took him home to my old Nurse, where he recover’d perfect tranquillity. Independent of this, and as I am not a young girl myself, he is a great acquisition to us. He is, rather imprudently, I think, printing a political pamphlet on his own account, and will have to pay for the paper, &c. The first duty of an Author, I take it, is never to pay anything. But non cuivis attigit adire Corinthum. The Managers I thank my stars have settled that question for me.

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.

[Wordsworth’s third child, Thomas, who did not grow up, was born June 16, 1806.

“A fine boy!” The quotation is from Mr. H.’s soliloquy after the discovery of his name:—

“No son of mine shall exist, to bear my ill-fated name. No nurse come chuckling, to tell me it is a boy. No midwife, leering at me from under the lids of professional gravity. I dreamed of caudle. (Sings in a melancholy tone) Lullaby, Lullaby,—hush-a-by-baby—how like its papa it is!—(makes motions as if he was nursing). And then, when grown up, ‘Is this your son, sir?’ ‘Yes, sir, a poor copy of me,—a sad young dog!—just what his father was at his age,—I have four more at home.’ Oh! oh! oh!”

Tobin was James Tobin, whom we have already met, brother of the late dramatist, John Tobin.

Poor Mountague would be Basil Montagu, whose second wife had just died. He married afterwards Anne Skepper, whom Lamb came to know well, and of whom he speaks in his Elia essay “Oxford in the Vacation.”

The Doctor was Dr. Stoddart. Coleridge had left Malta some months before, as we have seen. He had also left Rome and was in some foreign town unknown, probably not far from Leghorn, whence he sailed for England in the following month, reaching Portsmouth in August.

The Baby was Mrs. Godwin, and Charlotte Smith was the poetess (of great fame in her day, but now forgotten), who was then living
at Tilford, near Farnham, in Surrey. She died in the following October. The passage which I have, with extreme reluctance, omitted, refers to the physical development of the two ladies.
Lamb was writing just then less for Wordsworth than Antiquity.

Hazlitt’s political pamphlet was his Free Thoughts on Public Affairs, 1806.

Non cuivis attigit adire Corinthum.Horace, Epist. I., 17, 36, “Non cuivis homini contingit adire Corinthum”—“It is not the lot of every man to visit Corinth.”]

[No date. ? Begun on Friday, July 4, 1806.]

CHARLES and Hazlitt are going to Sadler’s Wells, and I am amusing myself in their absence with reading a manuscript of Hazlitt’s; but have laid it down to write a few lines, to tell you how we are going on. Charles has begged a month’s hollidays, of which this is the first day, and they are all to be spent at home. We thank you for your kind invitations, and were half-inclined to come down to you; but after mature deliberation, and many wise consultations, such as you know we often hold, we came to the resolution of staying quietly at home: and during the hollidays we are both of us to set stoutly to work and finish the Tales, six of them being yet to do. We thought, if we went anywhere and left them undone, they would lay upon our minds; and that when we returned, we should feel unsettled, and our money all spent besides: and next summer we are to be very rich, and then we can afford a long journey some where, I will not say to Salisbury, because I really think it is better for you to come to us; but of that we will talk another time.

The best news I have to send you is, that the Farce is accepted. That is to say, the manager has written to say it shall be brought out when an opportunity serves. I hope that it may come out by next Christmas: you must come and see it the first night; for if it succeeds, it will be a great pleasure to you, and if it should not, we shall want your consolation. So you must come.

I shall soon have done my work, and know not what to begin next. Now, will you set your brains to work and invent a story, either for a short child’s story, or a long one that would make a kind of Novel, or a Story that would make a play. Charles wants
me to write a play, but I am not over anxious to set about it; but seriously will you draw me out a skeleton of a story, either from memory of any thing that you have read, or from your own invention, and I will fill it up in some way or other.

The reason I have not written so long is, that I worked, and worked, in hopes to get through my task before the hollidays began; but at last I was not able, for Charles was forced to get them now, or he could not have had any at all: and having picked out the best stories first, these latter ones take more time, being more perplext and unmanageable. But however I hope soon to tell you that they are quite completed. I have finished one to-day which teazed me more than all the rest put together. The[y] sometimes plague me as bad as your Lovers do you. How do you go on, and how many new ones have you had lately?

I met Mrs. Fenwick at Mrs. Holcroft’s the other day; she loo[ked very] placid and smiling, but I was so disconcerted that I hardly knew how to sit upon my chair. She invited us to come and see her, but we did not invite her in return; and nothing at all was said in an explanatory sort: so that matter rests at present.

Mrs. Rickman continues very ill—so ill, that there are no hopes of her recovery—for which I am very sorry indeed.

I am sorry you are altogether so uncomfortable; I shall be glad to hear you are settled at Salisbury: that must be better than living in a lone house, companionless as you are. I wish you could afford to bring your Mother up to London; but that is quite impossible.

Your brother wrote a letter a week ago (which passed through our hands) to Wordsworth, to tell him all he knew of Coleridge; but as he had not heard from C. for some time, there was nothing in the letter we did not know before.

Thanks for your brother’s letters. I preserve them very carefully, and you shall have them (as the Manager says) when opportunity serves.

Mrs. Wordsworth is brought to bed; and I ought to write to Miss Wordsworth to thank her for the information, but I suppose I shall defer it till another child is coming. I do so hate writing letters. I wish all my friends would come and live in town. Charles has been telling me even it is better [than] two months that he ought to write to your brother. [It is not] my dislike to writing letters that prevents my [writing] to you, but sheer want of time, I assure you, because [I know] you care not how stupidly I write, so as you do but [hear at the] time what we are about.

Let me hear from you soon, and do let me hear some [good news,] and don’t let me hear of your walking with sprained ancles again; no business is an excuse for making yourself lame.


I hope your poor Mother is better, and Aunty and Maid jog on pretty well; remember me to them all in due form and order. Charles’s love, and our best wishes that all your little busy affairs may come to a prosperous conclusion.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.
Friday evening.

[Added later:—]

They (Hazlitt and Charles) came home from Sadler’s Wells so dismal and dreary dull on Friday, that I gave them both a good scolding—quite a setting to rights; and I think it has done some good, for Charles has been very chearful ever since. I begin to hope the home hollidays will go on very well. Mrs. Rickman is better. Rickman we saw at Captain Burney’s for the first time since her illness last night.

Write directly, for I am uneasy about your Lovers; I wish something was settled. God bless you.

Once more, yours affectionately,

M. Lamb.

Sunday morning [July 6, or more probably 13].—I did not put this in the post, hoping to be able to write a less dull letter to you this morning; but I have been prevented, so it shall go as it is. I am in good spirits just at this present time, for Charles has been reading over the Tale I told you plagued me so much, and he thinks it one of the very best: it is All’s Well that Ends Well. You must not mind the many wretchedly dull letters I have sent you; for, indeed, I cannot help it, my mind is so dry always after poring over my work all day. But it will soon be over.

I am cooking a shoulder of Lamb (Hazlitt dines with us); it will be ready at two o’Clock, if you can pop in and eat a bit with us.


[The programme at Sadler’s Wells on July 4, 1806, was: “Aquatic Theatre, Sadler’s Wells. A new dance called Grist and Puff, or the Highland Fling. The admired comic pantomime, Harlequin and the Water Kelpe. New melodramatic Romance, The Invisible Ring; or, The Water Monstre and Fire Spectre.” The author of both was Mr. C. Dibdin, Jun. “Real water.”

Mary Lamb’s next work, after the Tales from Shakespear, was Mrs. Leicester’s School. Charles Lamb meanwhile was preparing his Dramatic Specimens and Adventures of Ulysses.

Mrs. Rickman did not die then. She lived until 1836.]

[p.m. August 29, 1806.]

MY dear Miss Wordsworth—After I had put my letter in the post yesterday I was uneasy all the night because of some few expressions relative to poor Coleridge—I mean, in saying I wished your brother would come to town and that I wished your brother would consult Mr. Southey. I am very sure your brother will take no step in consequence of any foolish advice that I can give him, so far I am easy, but the painful reflections I have had during a sleepless night has induced me to write merely to quiet myself, because I have felt ever since, that in the present situation of Coleridge, returned after an absence of two years, and feeling a reluctance to return to his family, I ought not to throw in the weight of a hair in advising you or your Brother, and that I ought not to have so much as named to you his reluctance to return to Keswick, for so little is it in my power to calculate on his actions that perhaps in a few days he may be on his return home.

You, my dear friend, will perfectly understand me that I do not mean that I might not freely say to you anything that is upon my mind—but [the] truth is, my poor mind is so weak that I never dare trust my own judgement in anything: what I think one hour a fit of low spirits makes me unthink the next. Yesterday I wrote, anxiously longing for Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. Southey to endeavour to bring Mrs. C. to consent to a separation, and to day I think of the letter I received from Mrs. Coleridge, telling me, as joyful news, that her husband is arrived, and I feel it very wrong in me even in the remotest degree to do anything to prevent her seeing that husband—she and her husband being the only people who ought to be concerned in the affair.

All that I have said, or meant to say, you will perfectly understand, it being nothing more than to beg you will consider both my letter to day and yesterday as if you had not read either, they being both equally the effect of low spirits, brought on by the fatigue of Coleridge’s conversation and the anxious care even to misery which I have felt since he has been here, that something could be done to make such an admirable creature happy. Nor has, I assure you, Mrs. Coleridge been without her full share in adding to my uneasiness. They say she grows fat and is very happy—and people say I grow fat and look happy—

It is foolish to teize you about my anxieties, you will feel quite enough on the subject yourself, and your little ones are all ill, and
no doubt you are fatigued with nursing, but I could not help writing to day, to tell you how what I said yesterday has vext and worried me. Burn both these foolish letters and do not name the subject of them, because
Charles will either blame me for having written something improper or he will laugh at me for my foolish fears about nothing.

Though I wish you not to take notice of what I have said, yet I shall rejoice to see a letter from you, and I hope, when you have half an hour’s leisure, to see a line from you. We have not heard from Coleridge since he went out of town, but I dare say you have heard either from him or Mrs. Clarkson.

I remain my dear friend
Yours most affectionately
M. Lamb.
Friday [August 29].

[For the full understanding of Mary Lamb’s letter it is necessary to read Coleridge’s Life and his Letters. Coleridge on his return from abroad reached London August 17, 1806, and took up his quarters with the Lambs on the following day. He once more joined Stuart, then editing the Courier, but much of his old enthusiasm had gone. In Mr. Dykes Campbell’s words:—

Almost his first words to Stuart were: “I am literally afraid, even to cowardice, to ask for any person, or of any person.” Spite of the friendliest and most unquestioning welcome from all most dear to him, it was the saddest of home-comings, for the very sympathy held out with both hands induced only a bitter, hopeless feeling of remorse—a
“Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain;—
And genius given, and knowledge won in vain;—”
of broken promises,—promises to friends and promises to himself; and above all, sense of a will paralysed—dead perhaps, killed by his own hand.

Coleridge remained at Lamb’s at any rate until August 29, afterwards taking rooms in the Courier office at 348 Strand. Meanwhile his reluctance to meet or communicate with his wife was causing his friends much concern, none more so than Mary Lamb, who wrote at least two letters filled with anxious sympathy to Dorothy Wordsworth on the subject, asking for the mediation of Wordsworth or Southey. Her earlier letter is missing.

To quote Mr. Dykes Campbell again:—

On September 16—just a month after his landing—he wrote his first letter to his wife, to say that he might be expected at Greta Hall on the 29th.

Before this, Wordsworth had informed Sir George Beaumont that Coleridge “dare not go home, he recoils so much from the thought of domesticating with Mrs. Coleridge, with whom, though on many accounts he much respects her, he is so miserable that he dare not encounter it. What a deplorable thing! I have written to him to say that if he does not come down immediately I must insist upon seeing him some-where. If he appoints London I shall go.


I believe if anything good is to be done for him it must be done by me.”

It was this letter of Wordsworth, doubtless, which drew Coleridge to the North. Dorothy’s letter to Lady Beaumont, written on receipt of the announcement of Coleridge’s home-coming, goes copiously and minutely into the reasons for the estrangement between the poet and his wife. Miss Wordsworth still had hopes of an improvement. “Poor soul!” she writes, “he had a struggle of many years, striving to bring Mrs. C. to a change of temper, and something like communion with him in his enjoyments. He is now, I trust, effectually convinced that he has no power of that sort,” and may, she thinks, if he will be “reconciled to that one great want, want of sympathy,” live at home in peace and quiet. “Mrs. C. has many excellent properties, as you observe; she is unremitting in her attention as a nurse to her children, and, indeed, I believe she would have made an excellent wife to many persons. Coleridge is as little fitted for her as she for him, and I am truly sorry for her.”

It might perhaps be stated here that the separation was agreed upon in December. At the end of that month Coleridge visited the Wordsworths at Coleorton with Hartley, and in a few days began to be “more like his old self”—in Dorothy Wordsworth’s phrase.

I append an undated letter, preserved in the Morrison Collection, which may belong to this period:—]


DEAR Coleridge—I have read your silly, very silly, letter, and between laughing and crying I hardly know how to answer it. You are too serious and too kind a vast deal, for we are not much used to either seriousness or kindness from our present friends, and therefore your letter has put me into a greater hurry of spirits that [?than] your pleasant segar did last night, for believe me your two odd faces amused me much more than the mighty transgression vexed me. If Charles had not smoked last night his virtue would not have lasted longer than tonight, and now perhaps with a little of your good counsel he will refrain. Be not too serious if he smokes all the time you are with us—a few chearful evenings spent with you serves to bear up our spirits many a long and weary year—and the very being led into the crime by your segar that you thought so harmless, will serve for our amusement many a dreary time when we can get no letter nor hear no tidings of you.

You must positively must write to Mrs. Coleridge this day, and you must write here, that I may know you write, or you must come and dictate a letter for me to write to her. I know all that you would say in defence of not writing and I allow in full force everything that [you] can say or think, but yet a letter from me or you shall go today.


I wanted to tell you, but feared to begin the subject, how well your children are, how Pypos thrives and what a nice child Sara is, and above all I hear such favorable accounts from Southey, from Wordsworth and Hazlitt, of Hartley.

I have got Wordsworth’s letters out for you to look at, but you shall not see them or talk of them without you like—Only come here as soon as you receive this, and I will not teize you about writing, but will manage a few lines, Charles and I between us. But something like a letter shall go today.

Come directly
Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.
[p.m. October 23, 1806.]

MY dear Sarah—I thank you a thousand times for the beautiful work you have sent me, I received the parcel from a strange gentleman yesterday. I like the patterns very much, you have quite set me up in finery, but you should have sent the silk handkerchief too. Will you make a parcel of that and send it by the Salisbury coach—I should like to have it in a few days because we have not yet been to Mr. Babbs and that handkerchief would suit this time of year nicely.

I have received a long letter from your brother on the subject of your intended marriage. I have no doubt but you also have one on this business, therefore it is needless to repeat what he says. I am well pleased to find that upon the whole he does not seem to see it in an unfavorable light. He says that, if Mr. D. is a worthy man he shall have no objection to become the brother of a farmer, and he makes an odd request to me that I shall set out to Salisbury to look at and examine into the merits of the said Mr. D., and speaks very confidently as if you would abide by my determination. A pretty sort of an office truly.—Shall I come?

The objections he starts are only such as you and I have already talked over, such as the difference in age, education, habits of life, &c.

You have gone too far in this affair for any interference to be at all desirable, and if you had not, I really do not know what my wishes would be. When you bring Mr. Dowling at Christmas I suppose it will be quite time enough for me to sit in judgement upon him, but
my examination will not be a very severe one. If you fancy a very young man, and he likes an elderly gentlewoman; if he likes a earned and accomplished lady, and you like a not very learned youth, who may need a little polishing, which probably he will never acquire; it is all very well, and God bless you both together and may you be both very long in the same mind.

I am to assist you too, your brother says, in drawing up the marriage settlements—another thankful office! I am not, it seems, to suffer you to keep too much money in your own power, and yet I am to take care of you in case of bankruptcy &c., and I am to recommend to you, for the better management of this point, the serious perusal of Jeremy Taylor his opinion on the marriage state, especially his advice against separate interests in that happy state, and I am also to tell you how desirable it is that the husband should have the intire direction of all money concerns, except, as your good brother adds, in the case of his own family, where the money, he observes, is very properly deposited in Mrs. Stoddart’s hands, she being better suited to enjoy such a trust than any other woman, and therefore it is fit that the general rule should not be extended to her.

We will talk over these things when you come to town, and as to settlements, which are matters of which, I never having had a penny in my own disposal, I never in my life thought of—and if I had been blessed with a good fortune, and that marvellous blessing to boot, a husband, I verily believe I should have crammed it all uncounted into his pocket—But thou hast a cooler head of thy own, and I dare say will do exactly what is expedient and proper, but your brother’s opinion seems somewhat like Mr. Barwis’s and I dare say you will take it into due consideration, yet perhaps an offer of your own money to take a farm may make uncle do less for his nephew, and in that case Mr. D. might be a loser by your generosity. Weigh all these things well, and if you can so contrive it, let your brother settle the settlements himself when he returns, which will most probably be long before you want them.

You are settled, it seems, in the very house which your brother most dislikes. If you find this house very inconvenient, get out of it as fast as you can, for your brother says he sent you the fifty pound to make you comfortable, and by the general tone of his letter I am sure he wishes to make you easy in money matters: therefore why straiten yourself to pay the debt you owe him, which I am well assured he never means to take? Thank you for the letter and for the picture of pretty little chubby nephew John.

I have been busy making waistcoats and plotting new work to succeed the Tales. As yet I have not hit upon any thing to my mind.


Charles took an emendated copy of his farce to Mr. Wroughton the Manager yesterday. Mr. Wroughton was very friendly to him, and expressed high approbation of the farce, but there are two, he tells him, to come out before it, yet he gave him hopes that it will come out this season, but I am afraid you will not see it by Christmas. It will do for another jaunt for you in the spring. We are pretty well and in fresh spirits about this farce. Charles has been very good lately in the matter of Smoking.

When you come bring the gown you wish to sell. Mrs. Coleridge will be in town then, and if she happens not to fancy it, perhaps some other person may.

Coleridge I believe is gone home; he left us with that design but we have not heard from him this fortnight.

Louisa sends her love; she has been very unwell lately.

My respects to Coridon, Mother, and Aunty.

Farewel, my best wishes are with you.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.

When I saw what a prodigious quantity of work you had put into the finery I was quite ashamed of my unreasonable request, I will never serve you so again, but I do dearly love worked muslin.


[Sarah Stoddart now has a new lover, Mr. Dowling, to whom she seems actually to have become engaged. Mr. Barwis, I presume, was Mr. Dowling’s uncle. Coridon would, I imagine, be Mr. Dowling.]

5th Dec. 1806.

Tuthill is at Crabtree’s who has married Tuthill’s sister.

MANNING, your letter dated Hottentots, August the what-was-it? came to hand. I can scarce hope that mine will have the same luck. China—Canton—bless us—how it strains the imagination and makes it ache! I write under another uncertainty, whether it can go to-morrow by a ship which I have just learned is going off direct to your part of the world, or whether the despatches may not be sealed up and this have to wait, for if it is detained here, it will grow staler in a fortnight than in a five
months’ voyage coming to you. It will be a point of conscience to send you none but bran-new news (the latest edition), which will but grow the better, like oranges, for a sea voyage. Oh, that you should be so many hemispheres off—if I speak incorrectly you can correct me—why, the simplest death or marriage that takes place here must be important to you as news in the old Bastile. There’s your friend
Tuthill has got away from France—you remember France? and Tuthill?—ten-to-one but he writes by this post, if he don’t get my note in time, apprising him of the vessel sailing. Know then that he has found means to obtain leave from Bonaparte without making use of any incredible romantic pretences as some have done, who never meant to fulfil them, to come home; and I have seen him here and at Holcroft’s.1 An’t you glad about Tuthill? Now then be sorry for Holcroft, whose new play, called “The Vindictive Man,” was damned about a fortnight since. It died in part of its own weakness, and in part for being choked up with bad actors. The two principal parts were destined to Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Bannister, but Mrs. J. has not come to terms with the managers, they have had some squabble, and Bannister shot some of his fingers off by the going off of a gun. So Miss Duncan had her part, and Mr. de Camp1 took his.1 His part, the principal comic hope of the play, was most unluckily Goldfinch, taken out of the “Road to Ruin,” not only the same character, but the identical Goldfinch—the same as Falstaff is in two plays of Shakspeare. As the devil of ill-luck would have it, half the audience did not know that H. had written it, but were displeased at his stealing from the “Road to Ruin;” and those who might have borne a gentlemanly coxcomb with his “That’s your sort,” “Go it”—such as Lewis is—did not relish the intolerable vulgarity and inanity of the idea stript of his manner. De Camp was hooted, more than hist, hooted and bellowed off the stage before the second act was finished, so that the remainder of his part was forced to be, with some violence to the play, omitted. In addition to this, a whore was another principal character—a most unfortunate choice in this moral day. The audience were as scandalised as if you were to introduce such a personage to their private tea-tables. Besides, her action in the play was gross—wheedling an old man into marriage. But the mortal blunder of the play was that which, oddly enough, H. took pride in, and exultingly told me of the night before it came out, that there were no less than eleven principal characters in it, and I believe he meant of the men only, for the play-bill exprest as much, not reckoning one woman and one whore; and true it was, for Mr. Powell, Mr. Raymond, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. H. Siddons, Mr. Barrymore, &c. &c.,—to the number

1 [See Appendix II., page 970.]

of eleven, had all parts equally prominent, and there was as much of them in quantity and rank as of the hero and heroine—and most of them gentlemen who seldom appear but as the hero’s friend in a farce—for a minute or two—and here they all had their ten-minute speeches, and one of them gave the audience a serious account how he was now a lawyer but had been a poet, and then a long enumeration of the inconveniences of authorship, rascally booksellers, reviewers, &c.; which first set the audience a-gaping; but I have said enough. You will be so sorry, that you will not think the best of me for my detail; but news is news at Canton. Poor H. I fear will feel the disappointment very seriously in a pecuniary light. From what I can learn he has saved nothing. You and I were hoping one day that he had; but I fear he has nothing but his pictures and books, and a no very flourishing business, and to be obliged to part with his long-necked
Guido that hangs opposite as you enter, and the game-piece that hangs in the back drawing-room, and all those Vandykes, &c.! God should temper the wind to the shorn connoisseur. I hope I need not say to you, that I feel for the weather-beaten author and for all his household. I assure you his fate has soured a good deal the pleasure I should have otherwise taken in my own little farce being accepted, and I hope about to be acted—it is in rehearsal actually, and I expect it to come out next week. It is kept a sort of secret, and the rehearsals have gone on privately, lest by many folks knowing it, the story should come out, which would infallibly damn it. You remember I had sent it before you went. Wroughton read it, and was much pleased with it. I speedily got an answer. I took it to make alterations, and lazily kept it some months, then took courage and furbished it up in a day or two and took it. In less than a fortnight I heard the principal part was given to Elliston, who liked it, and only wanted a prologue, which I have since done and sent; and I had a note the day before yesterday from the manager, Wroughton (bless his fat face—he is not a bad actor in some things), to say that I should be summoned to the rehearsal after the next, which next was to be yesterday. I had no idea it was so forward. I have had no trouble, attended no reading or rehearsal, made no interest; what a contrast to the usual parade of authors! But it is peculiar to modesty to do all things without noise or pomp! I have some suspicion it will appear in public on Wednesday next, for W. says in his note, it is so forward that if wanted it may come out next week, and a new melo-drama is announced for every day till then: and “a new farce is in rehearsal,” is put up in the bills. Now you’d like to know the subject. The title is “Mr. H.,” no more; how simple, how taking! A great H. sprawling over the play-bill and attracting eyes at
1806THE PLOT OF “MR. H.”367
every comer. The story is a coxcomb appearing at Bath, vastly rich—all the ladies dying for him—all bursting to know who he is—but he goes by no other name than Mr. H.—a curiosity like that of the dames of Strasburg about the man with the great nose. But I won’t tell you any more about it. Yes, I will; but I can’t give you an idea how I have done it. I’ll just tell you that after much vehement admiration, when his true name comes out, “Hogsflesh,” all the women shun him, avoid him, and not one can be found to change their name for him—that’s the idea—how flat it is here!—but how whimsical in the farce! and only think how hard upon me it is that the ship is despatched to-morrow, and my triumph cannot be ascertained till the Wednesday after—but all China will ring of it by and by. N.B. (But this is a secret). The
Professor has got a tragedy coming out with the young Roscius in it in January next, as we say—January last it will be with you—and though it is a profound secret now, as all his affairs are, it cannot be much of one by the time you read this. However, don’t let it go any further. I understand there are dramatic exhibitions in China. One would not like to be forestalled. Do you find in all this stuff I have written anything like those feelings which one should send my old adventuring friend, that is gone to wander among Tartars and may never come again? I don’t—but your going away, and all about you, is a threadbare topic. I have worn it out with thinking—it has come to me when I have been dull with anything, till my sadness has seemed more to have come from it than to have introduced it. I want you, you don’t know how much—but if I had you here in my European garret, we should but talk over such stuff as I have written—so—. Those “Tales from Shakespear” are near coming out, and Mary has begun a new work. Mr. Dawe is turned author: he has been in such a way lately—Dawe the painter, I mean—he sits and stands about at Holcroft’s and says nothing—then sighs and leans his head on his hand. I took him to be in love—but it seems he was only meditating a work,—“The Life of Morland,”—the young man is not used to composition. Rickman and Captain Burney are well; they assemble at my house pretty regularly of a Wednesday—a new institution. Like other great men f have a public day, cribbage and pipes, with Phillips and noisy Martin.

Good Heaven! what a bit only I’ve got left! How shall I squeeze all I know into this morsel! Coleridge is come home, and is going to turn lecturer on taste at the Royal Institution. I shall get £200 from the theatre if “Mr. H.” has a good run, and I hope £100 for the copyright. Nothing if it fails; and there never was a more ticklish thing. The whole depends on the manner in which the name is brought out, which I value myself on, as a chef-d’oeuvre.
How the paper grows less and less! In less than two minutes I shall cease to talk to you, and you may rave to the Great Wall of China. N.B. Is there such a wall! Is it as big as Old London Wall by Bedlam? Have you met with a friend of mine, named
Ball, at Canton?—if you are acquainted, remember me kindly to him.1 May-be, you’ll think I have not said enough of Tuthill and the Holcrofts. Tuthill is a noble fellow, as far as I can judge. The Holcrofts bear their disappointment pretty well, but indeed they are sadly mortified. Mrs. H. is cast down. It was well, if it were but on this account, that Tuthill is come home. N.B. If my little thing don’t succeed, I shall easily survive, having, as it were, compared to H.’s venture, but a sixteenth in the lottery. Mary and I are to sit next the orchestra in the pit, next the tweedledees. She remembers you. You are more to us than five hundred farces, clappings, &c.

Come back one day.

C. Lamb.

[The letter is addressed to T. Manning, Esq., Canton. At the end Lamb adds:—

Holcroft has just writ to me as follows:—

“‘Dear Sir, Miss L. has informed us you are writing to Manning. Will you be kind enough to inform him directly from me that I and my family are most truly anxious for his safety; that if praying could bring down blessings on him we should pray morning noon and night; that his and our good friends the Tuthills are once more happily safe in England, and that I earnestly entreat not only a single letter but a correspondence with him whenever the thing [is] practicable, with such an address as may make letters from me likely to find him. In short, dear sir, if you will be kind enough to speak of me to Manning, you cannot speak with greater friendship and respect than I feel.

“‘Yours with true friendship and kindness.’”

In the beginning of this letter we see the first germ of an idea afterwards developed in the letter to Barron Field of August 31, 1817 (see page 500), and again, more fully, in the Elia essay “Distant Correspondents.”

Tuthill, afterwards Sir George Leman Tuthill (1772-1835), was the physician, who, on a visit to Paris, was included among the English détenus and held a captive for several years. He was released only after his wife had made a personal appeal to Napoleon on his return from hunting. The words “incredible romantic pretences” refer chaffingly to Manning’s application to Napoleon for liberty to return to England two or three years previously.

1 [See Appendix II., page 970.]

1806 “MR. H.” FAILS 369

Holcroft’sVindictive Man” was produced at Drury Lane on November 20, 1806. It was a complete failure. His “Road to Ruin,” produced in 1792 at Covent Garden, with “Gentleman” Lewis as Goldfinch, had been a great success and is still occasionally played. Holcroft was also a very voluminous author and translator, and the partner of his brother-in-law, Mercier, in a printing business, which, however, was unprofitable.

“The dames of Strasburg”—in Tristram, Shandy, Vol. IV.

“The Professor has a tragedy.” This was “Faulkener,” for which Lamb wrote the prologue (see Letters Nos. 89 and 90, pages 225 and 228, and Vol. V., page 123). Owing to the capriciousness of Master Betty, the Young Roscius, it was not produced until December 16, 1807, and then with Elliston in the principal part. It was only partially successful, a result for which Godwin blamed Holcroft, who had revised the play.

Mary Lamb’s new work was Mrs. Leicester’s School.

“Mr. Dawe is turned author.” The Life of George Morland, by George Dawe, was published in 1807.

Coleridge’s intended series of lectures on Taste was abandoned. He did not actually deliver any until January 12, 1808.]

[Dated at end: December 11, 1806.]

Mary’s Love to all of you—I wouldn’t let her write—

DEAR Wordsworth, Mr. H. came out last night and failed. I had many fears; the subject was not substantial enough. John Bull must have solider fare than a Letter. We are pretty stout about it, have had plenty of condoling friends, but after all, we had rather it should have succeeded. You will see the Prologue in most of the Morning Papers. It was received with such shouts as I never witness’d to a Prologue. It was attempted to be encored. How hard! a thing I did merely as a task, because it was wanted—and set no great store by; and Mr. H.!!

The quantity of friends we had in the house, my brother and I being in Public Offices &c., was astonishing—but they yielded at length to a few hisses. A hundred hisses—damn the word, I write it like kisses—how different—a hundred hisses outweigh a 1000 Claps. The former come more directly from the Heart—Well, ’tis withdrawn and there is an end.

Better Luck to us——

C. L.
11 Dec.—(turn over).

P.S. Pray when any of you write to the Clarksons, give our kind Loves, and say we shall not be able to come and see them at Xmas—as I shall have but a day or two,—and tell them we bear our mortification pretty well.


[“Mr. H.” was produced at Drury Lane on December 10, with Elliston in the title-rôle. Lamb’s account of the evening is supplemented by Hazlitt in his essay “On Great and Little Things” and by Crabb Robinson, a new friend whom he had just made, in his Diary. See Vol. V. of this edition, pages 180 and 368. The curious thing is that the management of Drury Lane advertised the farce as a success and announced it for the next night. But Lamb apparently interfered and it was not played again. Some few years later “Mr. H.” was performed acceptably in America.]

December 11 [1806].

Don’t mind this being a queer letter. I am in haste, and taken up by visitors, condolers, &c. God bless you!

DEAR Sarah,—Mary is a little cut at the ill success of “Mr. H.,” which came out last night and failed. I know you’ll be sorry, but never mind. We are determined not to be cast down. I am going to leave off tobacco, and then we must thrive. A smoking man must write smoky farces.

Mary is pretty well, but I persuaded her to let me write. We did not apprise you of the coming out of “Mr. H.” for fear of ill-luck. You were much better out of the house. If it had taken, your partaking of our good luck would have been one of our greatest joys. As it is, we shall expect you at the time you mentioned. But whenever you come you shall be most welcome. God bless you, dear Sarah,

Yours most truly,
C. L.

Mary is by no means unwell, but I made her let me write.


[Following this should come a letter from Mary Lamb to Mrs. Thomas Clarkson, dated December 23, 1806, not available for this
edition. It also describes the ill success of “
Mr. H.” “The blame rested chiefly with Charles and yet it should not be called blame for it was mere ignorance of stage effect . . . he seems perfectly aware why and for what cause it failed. He intends to write one more with all his dearly bought experience in his head, and should that share same fate he will then turn his mind to some other pursuit.” Lamb did not write another farce for many years. When he did—“The Pawnbroker’s Daughter” (see Vol. V. of this edition, page 212)—it deservedly was not acted.]

[No date. ? 1806.]

I REPENT. Can that God whom thy votaries say that thou hast demolished expect more? I did indite a splenetic letter, but did the black Hypocondria never gripe thy heart, till thou hast taken a friend for an enemy? The foul fiend Flibbertigibbet leads me over four inched bridges, to course my own shadow for a traitor. There are certain positions of the moon, under which I counsel thee not to take anything written from this domicile as serious.

I rank thee with Alves, Latinè Helvetius, or any of his cursed crew? Thou art my friend, and henceforth my philosopher—thou shalt teach Distinction to the junior branches of my household, and Deception to the greyhaired Janitress at my door.

What! Are these atonements? Can Arcadians be brought upon knees, creeping and crouching?

Come, as Macbeth’s drunken porter says, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock—seven times in a day shalt thou batter at my peace, and if I shut aught against thee, save the Temple of Janus, may Briareus, with his hundred hands, in each a brass knocker, lead me such a life.

C. Lamb.

[I cannot account for this letter in the absence of its predecessor and that from Godwin to which it replies.

“The foul fiend Flibbertigibbet.” See “King Lear,” III., 4, 120.

“Helvetius”—Claude Adrien Helvetius (1715-1771), author of De L’Esprit, which was condemned by the Sorbonne.

“Macbeth’s drunken porter.” See “Macbeth,” II., 3.


“Batter at my peace.”
The tyrant has not battered at their peace.
Macbeth,” IV., 3, 178.

“Temple of Janus.” The doors of the temple were closed during peace and opened in war time.]