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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1808

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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[p.m. February 12, 1808.]

MY dear Sarah,—I have sent your letter and drawing off to Wem (Hazlitt’s father’s), in Shropshire, where I conjecture Hazlitt is. He left town on Saturday afternoon, without telling us where he was going. He seemed very impatient at not hearing from you. He was very ill and I suppose is gone home to his father’s to be nursed.

I find Hazlitt has mentioned to you an intention which we had of asking you up to town, which we were bent on doing, but, having named it since to your brother, the Doctor expressed a strong desire that you should not come to town to be at any other house than his own, for he said that it would have a very strange appearance. His wife’s father is coming to be with them till near the end of April, after which time he shall have full room for you. And if you are to be married, he wishes that you should be married with all the proper decorums, from his house. Now though we should be most willing to run any hazards of disobliging him, if there were no other means of your and Hazlitt’s meeting, yet as he seems so friendly to the match, it would not be worth while to alienate him from you and ourselves too, for the slight accommodation which the difference of a few weeks would make, provided always, and be it understood, that if you and H. make up your minds to be married before the time in which you can be at your brother’s, our house stands open and most ready at a moment’s notice to receive you. Only we would not quarrel unnecessarily with your brother. Let there be a clear necessity shewn, and we will quarrel with any body’s brother. Now though I have written to the above effect, I hope you will not conceive, but, that both my brother and I had looked forward to your coming with unmixed pleasure, and are really disappointed at your brother’s declaration, for next to the pleasure of being married, is the pleasure of making, or helping marriages forward.

We wish to hear from you, that you do not take our seeming change of purpose in ill part, for it is but seeming on our part; for it was my brother’s suggestion, by him first mentioned to Hazlitt, and cordially approved by me; but your brother has set his face against it, and it is better to take him along with us, in our plans, if he will good-naturedly go along with us, than not.

The reason I have not written lately has been that I thought it better to leave you all to the workings of your own minds in this
momentous affair, in which the inclinations of a bye-stander have a right to form a wish, but not to give a vote.

Being, with the help of wide lines, at the end of my last page, I conclude with our kind wishes, and prayers for the best.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.

H.’s direction is (if he is there) at Wem in Shropshire. I suppose as letters must come to London first, you had better inclose them, while he is there, for my brother in London.


[The drawing referred to, says Mr. W. C. Hazlitt, was a sketch of Middleton Cottage, Miss Stoddart’s house at Winterslow (see next letter).]

Temple, 18th February, 1808.

SIR,—I am truly concerned that any mistake of mine should have caused you uneasiness, but I hope we have got a clue to William’s absence, which may clear up all apprehensions. The people where he lodges in town have received direction from him to forward one or two of his shirts to a place called Winterslow, in the county of Hants [Wilts] (not far from Salisbury), where the lady lives whose Cottage, pictured upon a card, if you opened my letter you have doubtless seen, and though we have had no explanation of the mystery since, we shrewdly suspect that at the time of writing that Letter which has given you all this trouble, a certain son of yours (who is both Painter and Author) was at her elbow, and did assist in framing that very Cartoon which was sent to amuse and mislead us in town, as to the real place of his destination.

And some words at the back of the said Cartoon, which we had not marked so narrowly before, by the similarity of the handwriting to William’s, do very much confirm the suspicion. If our theory be right, they have had the pleasure of their jest, and I am afraid you have paid for it in anxiety. But I hope your uneasiness will now be removed, and you will pardon a suspense occasioned by Love, who does so many worse mischiefs every day.

The letter to the people where William lodges says, moreover, that he shall be in town in a fortnight.


My sister joins in respects to you and Mrs. Hazlitt, and in our kindest remembrances and wishes for the restoration of Peggy’s health.

I am, Sir, your humble servt.,

Ch. Lamb.

[The Rev. William Hazlitt, Hazlitt’s father (1737-1820), was a Unitarian minister at Wem, in Shropshire, the son of an Irish Protestant. Hazlitt’s mother was Grace Loftus of Wisbech, a farmer’s daughter.

Sarah Stoddart’s letter containing the drawing referred to had been sent by the Lambs to William Hazlitt at Wem, whereas Hazlitt, instead of seeking his father’s roof as arranged, had sought his betrothed’s, and had himself helped in the mystification.

Peggy was Hazlitt’s only sister.]

[Dated at end: 26 February, 1808.]

DEAR Missionary,—Your letters from the farthest ends of the world have arrived safe. Mary is very thankful for your remembrance of her, and with the less suspicion of mercenariness, as the silk, the symbolum materiale of your friendship, has not yet appeared. I think Horace says somewhere, nox longa. I would not impute negligence or unhandsome delays to a person whom you have honoured with your confidence; but I have not heard of the silk, or of Mr. Knox, save by your letter. Maybe he expects the first advances! or it may be that he has not succeeded in getting the article on shore, for it is among the res prohibitæ et non nisi smuggle-ationis viâ fruendæ. But so it is, in the friendships between wicked men, the very expressions of their good-will cannot but be sinful. Splendida vitia at best. Stay, while I remember it—Mrs. Holcroft was safely delivered of a girl some day in last week. Mother and child doing well. Mr. Holcroft has been attack’d with severe rheumatism. They have moved to Clipstone Street. I suppose you know my farce was damned. The noise still rings in my ears. Was you ever in the pillory?—being damned is something like that. Godwin keeps a shop in Skinner Street, Snow Hill, he is turned children’s bookseller, and sells penny, twopenny, threepenny, and fourpenny books. Sometimes he gets an order for the dearer sort of Books. (Mind, all that I tell you in this letter is true.) A treaty of marriage is on foot between William Hazlitt
Miss Stoddart. Something about settlements only retards it. She has somewhere about £80 a year, to be £120 when her mother dies. He has no settlement except what he can claim from the Parish. Pauper est Cinna, sed amat. The thing is therefore in abeyance. But there is love o’ both sides. Little Fenwick (you don’t see the connexion of ideas here, how the devil should you?) is in the rules of the Fleet. Cruel creditors! operation of iniquitous laws! is Magna Charta then a mockery? Why, in general (here I suppose you to ask a question) my spirits are pretty good, but I have my depressions, black as a smith’s beard, Vulcanic, Stygian. At such times I have recourse to a pipe, which is like not being at home to a dun; he comes again with tenfold bitterness the next day.—(Mind, I am not in debt, I only borrow a similitude from others; it shows imagination.) I have done two books since the failure of my farce; they will both be out this summer. The one is a juvenile book—“The Adventures of Ulysses,” intended to be an introduction to the reading of Telemachus! It is done out of the Odyssey, not from the Greek: I would not mislead you; nor yet from Pope’s Odyssey, but from an older translation of one Chapman. The “Shakespear Tales” suggested the doing it. Godwin is in both those cases my bookseller. The other is done for Longman, and is “Specimens of English Dramatic Poets contemporary with Shakespear.” Specimens are becoming fashionable. We have—“Specimens of Ancient English Poets,” “Specimens of Modern English Poets,” “Specimens of Ancient English Prose Writers,” without end. They used to be called “Beauties.” You have seen “Beauties of Shakespear?” so have many people that never saw any beauties in Shakespear. Longman is to print it, and be at all the expense and risk; and I am to share the profits after all deductions; i.e. a year or two hence I must pocket what they please to tell me is due to me. But the book is such as I am glad there should be. It is done out of old plays at the Museum and out of Dodsley’s collection, &c. It is to have notes. So I go creeping on since I was lamed with that cursed fall from off the top of Drury-Lane Theatre into the pit, something more than a year ago. However, I have been free of the house ever since, and the house was pretty free with me upon that occasion. Damn ’em, how they hissed! It was not a hiss neither, but a sort of a frantic yell, like a congregation of mad geese, with roaring something like bears, mows and mops like apes, sometimes snakes, that hiss’d me into madness. Twas like St. Anthony’s temptations. Mercy on us, that God should give his favourite children, men, mouths to speak with, to discourse rationally, to promise smoothly, to flatter agreeably, to encourage warmly, to counsel wisely: to sing with, to drink with, and to kiss
with: and that they should turn them into mouths of adders, bears, wolves, hyenas, and whistle like tempests, and emit breath through them like distillations of aspic poison, to asperse and vilify the innocent labours of their fellow-creatures who are desirous to please them! God be pleased to make the breath stink and the teeth rot out of them all therefore! Make them a reproach, and all that pass by them to loll out their tongue at them! Blind mouths! as
Milton somewhere calls them. Do you like Braham’s singing? The little Jew has bewitched me. I follow him like as the boys followed Tom the Piper. He cured me of melancholy, as David cured Saul; but I don’t throw stones at him, as Saul did at David in payment. I was insensible to music till he gave me a new sense. O, that you could go to the new opera of “Kais” to-night! ’Tis all about Eastern manners; it would just suit you. It describes the wild Arabs, wandering Egyptians, lying dervishes, and all that sort of people, to a hair. You needn’t ha’ gone so far to see what you see, if you saw it as I do every night at Drury-lane Theatre. Braham’s singing, when it is impassioned, is finer than Mrs. Siddons’s or Mr. Kemble’s acting; and when it is not impassioned, it is as good as hearing a person of fine sense talking. The brave little Jew! Old Sergeant Hill is dead. Mrs. Rickman is in the family way. It is thought that Hazlitt will have children, if he marries Miss Stoddart. I made a pun the other day, and palmed it upon Holcroft, who grinned like a Cheshire cat. (Why do cats grin in Cheshire?—Because it was once a county palatine, and the cats cannot help laughing whenever they think of it, though I see no great joke in it.) I said that Holcroft said, being asked who were the best dramatic writers of the day, “Hook And I.” Mr. Hook is author of several pieces, “Tekeli,” &c. You know what hooks and eyes are, don’t you? They are what little boys do up their breeches with. Your letter had many things in it hard to be understood: the puns were ready and Swift-like; but don’t you begin to be melancholy in the midst of Eastern customs! “The mind does not easily conform to foreign usages, even in trifles: it requires something that it has been familiar with.” That begins one of Dr. Hawkesworth’s papers in the “Adventurer,” and is, I think, as sensible a remark as ever fell from the Doctor’s mouth.1 White is at Christ’s Hospital, a wit of the first magnitude, but had rather be thought a gentleman, like Congreve. You know Congreve’s repulse which he gave to Voltaire, when he came to visit him as a literary man, that he wished to be considered only in the light of a private gentleman. I think the impertinent Frenchman was properly answered. I should just serve any member of the French institute in the same manner, that wished to be introduced to me. Bonaparte has

1 [See Appendix II., page 970.]

voted 5,000 livres to
Davy, the great young English chemist; but it has not arrived. Coleridge has delivered two lectures at the Royal Institution; two more were attended, but he did not come. It is thought he has gone sick upon them. He a’n’t well, that’s certain. Wordsworth is coming to see him. He sits up in a two pair of stairs room at the “Courier” Office, and receives visitors on his close stool. How is Mr. Ball? He has sent for a prospectus of the London Library.

Does any one read at Canton? Lord Moira is President of the Westminster Library. I suppose you might have interest with Sir Joseph Banks to get to be president of any similar institution that should be set up at Canton. I think public reading-rooms the best mode of educating young men. Solitary reading is apt to give the headache. Besides, who knows that you do read? There are ten thousand institutions similar to the Royal Institution, which have sprung up from it. There is the London Institution, the Southwark Institution, the Russell Square Rooms Institution, &c.—College quasi Con-lege, a place where people read together. Wordsworth, the great poet, is coining to town; he is to have apartments in the Mansion House. He says he does not see much difficulty in writing like Shakspeare, if he had a mind to try it. It is clear then nothing is wanting but the mind. Even Coleridge a little checked at this hardihood of assertion. Jones of Trinity, I suppose you know he is dead. Dyer came to me the other evening at 11 o’clock, when there was a large room full of company, which I usually get together on a Wednesday evening (all great men have public days), to propose to me to have my face done by a Miss Beetham (or Betham), a miniature painter, some relation to Mrs. Beetham the Profilist or Pattern Mangle woman opposite to St. Dunstan’s, to put before my book of Extracts. I declined it.

Well, my dear Manning, talking cannot be infinite; I have said all I have to say; the rest is but remembrances, which we shall bear in our heads of you, while we have heads. Here is a packet of trifles nothing worth; but it is a trifling part of the world where I live; emptiness abounds. But, in fulness of affection, we remain yours,

C. L.

[Manning had written in April, 1807, saying that a roll of silk was on its way to Mary Lamb. It was, however, another letter, not preserved, which mentioned Mr. Knox as the bearer.

Horace says somewhere.” In Epistles, Book I., 1, 20.

Res prohibitæ et non nisi smuggle-ationia viâ fruendæ” —“The things prohibited and only to be enjoyed if they are smuggled.”

Splendida vitia.” Glorious aberrations.


Godwin sold books at 41 Skinner Street under his wife’s name—M. J. Godwin. At first when he began, in 1805, in Hanway Street, he had used the name of Thomas Hodgkins, his manager.

Pauper est Cinna, sed amat”—“Cinna (i.e., Hazlitt) is poor, but none the less he loves.” Lamb is evidently thinking of Ben Jonson’s Timber; or, Discoveries, where Ben Jonson quotes Martial’s one-line epigram (8, xix.), “Pauper videri Cinna vult; et est pauper.”

“Damn ’em, how they hissed.” This passage has in it the germ of Lamb’s essay in The Reflector two or three years later, “On the Custom of Hissing at the Theatres” (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 87).

“Blind mouths” (Lycidas, 119).

John Braham (?1774-1856), the great tenor and the composer of “The Death of Nelson.” Lamb praised him again in his Elia essay “Imperfect Sympathies,” and later wrote an amusing article on Braham’s recantation of Hebraism (see “The Religion of Actors,” Vol. I., page 287). “Kais,” composed by Braham and Reeve, was produced at Drury Lane, February 11, 1808.

“Old Sergeant Hill.” George Hill (1716-1808), nicknamed Serjeant Labyrinth, the hero of many stories of absence-of-mind. He would have appealed to Manning on account of his mathematical abilities. He died on February 21.

“Hook and I.” This pun is attributed also to others; who may very easily have made it independently. Theodore Hook was then only nineteen, but had already written “Tekeli,” a melodrama, and several farces. Talfourd omits the references to breeches.

“Dr. Hawkesworth.” John Hawkesworth, LL.D. (?1715-1773), the editor of Swift, a director of the East India Company, and the friend of Johnson whom he imitated in The Adventurer. He also made one of the translations of Fenelon’s Télémaque, to which Lamb’s Adventures of Ulysses was to serve as prologue.

James White, Lamb’s friend and the author of Falstaff’s Letters, was for many years a clerk in the Treasurer’s office at Christ’s Hospital. Later he founded an advertisement agency, which still exists.

“Congreve’s repulse.” The story is told by Johnson in the Lives of the Poets. Congreve “disgusted him [Voltaire] by the despicable foppery of desiring to be considered not as an author but a gentleman; to which the Frenchman replied, ‘that, if he had been only a gentleman, he should not have come to visit him.’”

“Young Davy.” Afterwards Sir Humphry Davy, and now one of Coleridge’s correspondents. He had been awarded the Napoleon prize of 3,000 francs “for his discoveries announced in the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1807.”


“Coleridge’s lectures.” Coleridge delivered the first on January 12,1808, and the second on February 5. The third and fourth were eventually delivered some time before April 3. The subject was not Taste but Poetry. Coleridge’s rooms over The Courier office at No. 348 Strand are described by De Quincey in his Works, Vol. II. (1863 edition), page 98.

It was Coleridge’s illness that was bringing Wordsworth to town, to be followed by Southey, largely by the instrumentality of Charles and Mary Lamb. It is conjectured that Coleridge was just then more than usually in the power of drugs.

Sir Joseph Banks, as President of the Royal Society, had written a letter to the East India Company supporting Manning’s wish to practise as a doctor in Canton.

The similar institutions that sprang up in imitation of the Royal Institution have all vanished, except the London Institution in Finsbury Circus.

“Writing like Shakspeare.” This passage was omitted by Talfourd. He seems to have shown it to Crabb Robinson, just after Lamb’s death, as one of the things that could not be published. Robinson (or Robinson’s editor, Dr. Sadler), in recording the event, substitutes a dash for Wordsworth’s name.

Miss Betham was Miss Mary Matilda Betham (1776-1852), afterwards a friend and correspondent of Lamb. We shall soon meet her again. She had written a Biographical Dictionary of the Celebrated Women of Every Age and Country, 1804, and some poems. Among her sitters were Coleridge and Mrs. Coleridge. The Profilist opposite St. Dunstan’s was, I take it, E. Beetham, Patent Washing-Mill Maker at 27 Fleet Street. I find this in the 1808 Directory. The shop was close to Inner Temple Lane.]

March 11, 1808.

DEAR Godwin,—The giant’s vomit was perfectly nauseous, and I am glad you pointed it out. I have removed the objection. To the other passages I can find no other objection but what you may bring to numberless passages besides, such as of Scylla snatching up the six men, etc., that is to say, they are lively images of shocking things. If you want a book, which is not occasionally to shock, you should not have thought of a tale which was so full of anthropophagi and wonders. I cannot alter
these things without enervating the Book, and I will not alter them if the penalty should be that you and all the London booksellers should refuse it. But speaking as author to author, I must say that I think the terrible in those two passages seems to me so much to preponderate over the nauseous, as to make them rather fine than disgusting. Who is to read them, I don’t know: who is it that reads
Tales of Terror and Mysteries of Udolpho? Such things sell. I only say that I will not consent to alter such passages, which I know to be some of the best in the book. As an author I say to you an author, Touch not my work. As to a bookseller I say, Take the work such as it is, or refuse it. You are as free to refuse it as when we first talked of it. As to a friend I say, Don’t plague yourself and me with nonsensical objections. I assure you I will not alter one more word.


[This letter refers to the proofs of Lamb’s Adventures of Ulysses, his prose paraphrase for children of Chapman’s translation of the Odyssey, which Mrs. Godwin was publishing. Godwin had written the following letter:—

Skinner St., March 10, 1808.

Dear Lamb,—I address you with all humility, because I know you to be tenax propositi. Hear me, I entreat you, with patience.

It is strange with what different feelings an author and a bookseller looks at the same manuscript. I know this by experience: I was an author, I am a bookseller. The author thinks what will conduce to his honour: the bookseller what will cause his commodities to sell.

You, or some other wise man, I have heard to say, It is children that read children’s books, when they are read, but it is parents that choose them. The critical thought of the tradesman put itself therefore into the place of the parent, and what the parent will condemn.

We live in squeamish days. Amid the beauties of your manuscript, of which no man can think more highly than I do, what will the squeamish say to such expressions as these,—“devoured their limbs, yet warm and trembling, lapping the blood,” p. 10. Or to the giant’s vomit, p. 14; or to the minute and shocking description of the extinguishing the giant’s eye in the page following. You, I daresay, have no formed plan of excluding the female sex from among your readers, and I, as a bookseller, must consider that if you have you exclude one half of the human species.

Nothing is more easy than to modify these things if you please, and nothing, I think, is more indispensable.


Give me, as soon as possible, your thoughts on the matter.

I should also like a preface. Half our customers know not Homer, or know him only as you and I know the lost authors of antiquity. What can be more proper than to mention one or two of those obvious recommendations of his works, which must lead every human creature to desire a nearer acquaintance.—

Believe me, ever faithfully yours,
W. Godwin.

As a glance at the Adventures of Ulysses will show (see Vol. III. of this edition), Lamb did not make the alteration on pages 10 or 15 (pages 211 and 212 of Vol. III.), although the giant’s vomit has disappeared. The Tales of Terror, 1801, were by Matthew Gregory Lewis, “Monk Lewis,” as he was called, and the Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794, by Mrs. Radcliffe.]

[Dated at end: March 12, 1808.]

DEAR Sir,—Wordsworth breakfasts with me on Tuesday morning next; he goes to Mrs. Clarkson the next day, and will be glad to meet you before he goes. Can you come to us before nine or at nine that morning? I am afraid, W. is so engaged with Coleridge, who is ill, we cannot have him in an evening. If I do not hear from you, I will expect you to breakfast on Tuesday.

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.
Saturday, 12 Mar., 1808.

[This is the first letter to Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867), whom Lamb was destined to know very intimately, and to whose Diary we are indebted for much of our information concerning the Lambs. Robinson, who was only a month younger than Lamb, had been connected with the Times as foreign correspondent and foreign editor; in November, 1809, he gave up journalism and began to keep his terms at the Middle Temple, rising in time to be leader of the Norfolk Circuit. We shall see much more of him. He knew Lamb well enough to accompany him, his sister and Hazlitt to “Mr. H.” in December, 1806.


Wordsworth left on April 3, by which time Coleridge was sufficiently recovered to give two more lectures. The series closed in June. Coleridge then went to Bury St. Edmunds to see the Clarksons, and then to Grasmere, to the Wordsworths. His separation from Mrs. Coleridge had already occurred, he and his wife remaining, however, on friendly terms.]

[p.m. March 16, 1808.]

MY dear Sarah,—Do not be very angry that I have not written to you. I have promised your brother to be at your wedding, and that favor you must accept as an atonement for my offences—you have been in no want of correspondence lately, and I wished to leave you both to your own inventions.

The border you are working for me I prize at a very high rate because I consider it as the last work you can do for me, the time so fast approaching when you must no longer work for your friends. Yet my old fault of giving away presents has not left me, and I am desirous of even giving away this your last gift. I had intended to have given it away without your Knowledge, but I have intrusted my secret to Hazlitt, and I suppose it will not remain a secret long, so I condescend to consult you. It is to Miss Hazlitt, to whose superior claim I wish to give up my right to this precious worked border. Her brother William is her great favorite, and she would be pleased to possess his bride’s last work. Are you not to give the fellow-border to one sister-in-law, and therefore has she not a just claim to it?—I never heard in the annals of weddings (since the days of Nausicaa, and she only washed her old gowns for that purpose) that the brides ever furnished the apparel of their maids. Besides, I can be completely clad in your work without it, for the spotted muslin will serve both for cap and hat (Nota bene, my hat is the same as yours) and the gown you sprigged for me has never been made up, therefore I can wear that—Or, if you like better, I will make up a new silk which Manning has sent me from China. Manning would like to hear I wore it for the first time at your wedding. It is a very pretty light colour, but there is an objection (besides not being your work and that is a very serious objection) and that is, Mrs. Hazlitt tells me that all Winterslow would be in an uproar if the bridemaid was to be dressed in anything but white, and although it is a very light colour I confess we
cannot call it white, being a sort of a dead-whiteish-bloom colour; then silk, perhaps, in a morning is not so proper, though the occasion, so joyful, might justify a full dress. Determine for me in this perplexity between the sprig and the China-Manning silk. But do not contradict my whim about Miss Hazlitt having the border, for I have set my heart upon the matter: if you agree with me in this I shall think you have forgiven me for giving away your pin; and that was a mad trick, but I had many obligations and no money. I repent me of the deed, wishing I had it now to send to Miss H. with the border, and I cannot, will not, give her the
Doctor’s pin, for having never had any presents from gentlemen in my young days, I highly prize all they now give me, thinking my latter days are better than my former.

You must send this same border in your own name to Miss Hazlitt, which will save me the disgrace of giving away your gift, and make it amount merely to a civil refusal.

I shall have no present to give you on your marriage, nor do I expect that I shall be rich enough to give anything to baby at the first christening, but at the second, or third child’s I hope to have a coral or so to spare out of my own earnings. Do not ask me to be Godmother, for I have an objection to that—but there is I believe, no serious duties attached to a bride’s maid, therefore I come with a willing mind, bringing nothing with me but many wishes, and not a few hopes, and a very little of fears of happy years to come.

I am dear Sarah
Yours ever most affectionately
M. Lamb.

What has Charles done that nobody invites him to the wedding?


[The wedding was on May 1, 1808. Originally it was intended to perform the ceremony at Winterslow, but London was actually the place: St. Andrew’s, Holborn. Mary Lamb was a bridesmaid and Charles Lamb was present. He told Southey in a letter some years after: “I was at Hazlitt’s marriage, and had like to have been turned out several times during the ceremony. Anything awful makes me laugh.”

The episode of Nausicaa, to which Mary Lamb refers, had just been rewritten by Charles Lamb in the Adventures of Ulysses.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to George Dyer (see Appendix II., page 970), which states that Coleridge is Bury’d; that is, at Bury St. Edmunds, and that the Dramatic Specimens has been published, but not Ulysses yet. Lamb says that he will
give both to Dyer rather than let him buy them, since half-guinea books were never calculated for his friends. A few remarks follow about
Hazlitt and certain painters turning poets and encroaching on Lamb and Dyer’s province.]

December 10th, 1808.

MY dear Sarah,—I hear of you from your brother; but you do not write yourself, nor does Hazlitt. I beg that one or both of you will amend this fault as speedily as possible, for I am very anxious to hear of your health. I hope, as you say nothing about your fall to your brother, you are perfectly recovered from the effects of it.

You cannot think how very much we miss you and H. of a Wednesday evening. All the glory of the night, I may say, is at an end. Phillips makes his jokes, and there is no one to applaud him; Rickman argues, and there is no one to oppose him.

The worst miss of all to me is, that, when we are in the dismals, there is now no hope of relief from any quarter whatsoever. Hazlitt was most brilliant, most ornamental, as a Wednesday-man; but he was a more useful one on common days, when he dropt in after a quarrel or a fit of the glooms. The Sheffington is quite out now, my brother having got drunk with claret and Tom Sheridan. This visit, and the occasion of it, is a profound secret, and therefore I tell it to nobody but you and Mrs. Reynolds. Through the medium of Wroughton, there came an invitation and proposal from T. S., that C. L. should write some scenes in a speaking pantomime, the other parts of which Tom now, and his father formerly, have manufactured between them. So, in the Christmas holydays, my brother and his two great associates, we expect, will be all three damned together: this is, I mean, if Charles’s share, which is done and sent in, is accepted.

I left this unfinished yesterday, in the hope that my brother would have done it for me: his reason for refusing me was ‘no exquisite reason;’ for it was, because he must write a letter to Manning in three or four weeks, and therefore he could not be always writing letters, he said. I wanted him to tell your husband about a great work which Godwin is going to publish, to enlighten the world once more, and I shall not be able to make out what it
is. He (Godwin) took his usual walk one evening, a fortnight since, to the end of Hatton Garden and back again. During that walk, a thought came into his mind, which he instantly set down and improved upon, till he brought it, in seven or eight days, into the compass of a reasonable sized pamphlet. To propose a subscription to all well disposed people, to raise a certain sum of money, to be expended in the care of a cheap monument for the former and the future great dead men,—the monument to be a white cross, with a wooden slab at the end, telling their names and qualifications. This wooden slab and white cross to be perpetuated to the end of time. To survive the fall of empires and the destruction of cities by means of a map, which was, in case of an insurrection among the people, or any other cause by which a city or country may be destroyed, to be carefully preserved; and then, when things got again into their usual order, the white-cross-wooden-slab-makers were to go to work again, and set them in their former places. This, as nearly as I can tell you, is the sum and substance of it, but it is written remarkably well, in his very best manner; for the proposal (which seems to me very like throwing salt on a sparrow’s tail to catch him) occupies but half a page, which is followed by very fine writing on the benefits he conjectures would follow if it were done. Very excellent thoughts on death, and on our feelings concerning dead friends, and the advantages an old country has over a new one, even in the slender memorials we have of great men who once flourished.

Charles is come home, and wants his dinner; and so the dead men must be no more thought on: tell us how you go on, and how you like Winterslow and winter evenings.

Noales [Knowles] has not got back again, but he is in better spirits. John Hazlitt was here on Wednesday, very sober.

Our love to Hazlitt.

Yours affectionately,
M. Lamb.
[Charles Lamb adds:—]

There came this morning a printed prospectus from S. T. Coleridge, Grasmere, of a weekly paper, to be called The Friend—a flaming prospectus—I have no time to give the heads of it—to commence first Saturday in January. There came also a notice of a Turkey from Mr. Clarkson, which I am more sanguine in expecting the accomplishment of than I am of Coleridge’s prophecy.

C. Lamb.

[“The Sheffington.” I have no notion what this word means. Lamb’s share of the speaking pantomime for the Sheridans has vanished. We do not even know if it were ever accepted.

The late Mr. Charles Kent, in his Centenary Edition of Lamb’s works, printed a comic opera, said, on the authority of P. G. Patmore, to be Lamb’s, and identified it with the experiment mentioned by Mary Lamb. But an examination of the manuscript, which is in the British Museum, convinces me that the writing is not Lamb’s, while the matter has nothing characteristic in it. Tom Sheridan, by the way, was just a month younger than Lamb.

“No exquisite reason.” Sir Andrew Aguecheek’s phrase (“Twelfth Night,” II., 3, 157).

Godwin’s new book was the Essay on Sepulchres, 1809.

Noales was probably James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862), the dramatist, a protégé of Hazlitt’s father. We shall meet him again in the correspondence. After serving as a soldier and practising medicine he had gone on the stage. Several years later he became one of Lamb’s friends.

The Friend, which probably had been in Coleridge’s thoughts for some time, was announced to begin on the first Saturday in January. Lamb’s scepticism was justified; the first number came out on June 1.]

[p.m. Dec. (10), 1808.]

MY dear Mrs. Clarkson—I feel myself greatly indebted to Mr. Clarkson for his care about our direction, since it has procured us the pleasure of a line from you. Why are we all, my dear friend, so unwilling to sit down and write a letter when we all so well know the great satisfaction it is to hear of the welfare of an absent friend? I began to think that you and all I connect in my mind with you were gone from us for ever——Coleridge in a manner gave us up when he was in town, and we have now lost all traces of him. At the time he was in town I received two letters from Miss Wordsworth, which I never answered because I would not complain to her of our old friend. As this has never been explained to her it must seem very strange, more particularly so, as Miss Hutchinson & Mrs. Wordsworth were in an ill state
of health at the time. Will you some day soon write a few words just to tell me how they all are and all you know concerning them?

Do not imagine that I am now complaining to you of Coleridge. Perhaps we are both in fault, we expect too much, and he gives too little. We ought many years ago to have understood each other better. Nor is it quite all over with us yet, for he will some day or other come in with the same old face, and receive (after a few spiteful words from me) the same warm welcome as ever. But we could not submit to sit as hearers at his lectures and not be permitted to see our old friend when school-hours were over. I beg you will not let what I have said give you a moment’s thought, nor pray do not mention it to the Wordsworths nor to Coleridge, for I know he thinks I am apt to speak unkindly of him. I am not good tempered, and I have two or three times given him proofs that I am not. You say you are all in your “better way,” which is a very chearful hearing, for I trust you mean to include that your health is bettering too. I look forward with great pleasure to the near approach of Christmas and Mr. Clarkson. And now the turkey you are so kind as to promise us comes into my head & tells me it is so very near that if writing before then should happen to be the least irksome to you, I will be content to wait for intelligence of our old friends till I have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Clarkson in town. I ought to say this because I know at times how dreadfully irksome writing a letter is to me, even when I have no reason in the world to give why it is so, and I remember I have heard you express something of the same kind of feelings.

I try to remember something to enquire after at Bury—The lady we visited, the cherry tree Tom and I robbed, Tom my partner in the robbery (Mr. Thomas C—— I suppose now), and your Cook maid that was so kind to me, are all at present I can recollect. Of all the places I ever saw Bury has made the liveliest impression on my memory. I have a very indistinct recollection of the Lakes.

Charles joins with me in affectionate remembrances to you all, and he is more warm in his expressions of gratitude for the turkey because he is fonder of good eating than I am, though I am not amiss in that way.

God bless you my kind friends
I remain yours affectionately
M. Lamb.

Excuse this slovenly letter, if I were to write it over again I should abridge it one half.

Saturday morning
No. 16 Mitre Court Buildings
Inner Temple.
[Charles Lamb adds:—]

We have this moment received a very chearful letter from Coleridge, who is now at Grasmere. It contains a prospectus for a new weekly publication to be called The Friend. He says they are well there, and in good spirits & that he has not been so well for a long time.

The Prospectus is of a weekly paper of a miscellaneous nature to be call’d the Friend & to come out, the first number, the first Saturday in January. Those who remember The Watchman will not be very sanguine in expecting a regular fulfillment of this Prophecy. But C. writes in delightful spirits, & if ever, he may now do this thine. I suppose he will send you a Prospectus. I had some thought of inclosing mine. But I want to shew it about. My kindest remembrc to Mr. C. & thanks for the turkey.

C. Lamb.

[Coleridge, after delivering his lectures, had gone to Bury on a visit to the Clarksons. He then passed on to Grasmere, to Wordsworth’s new house, Allan Bank, and settled down to project The Friend.

Tom Clarkson, with whom Mary Lamb robbed a cherry tree, became a metropolitan magistrate. He died in 1837.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, dated February 25, 1809, not available for this edition. It tells Lloyd where to look for Lamb when he reached town—at 16 Mitre Court Buildings, which he is leaving at Lady Day, or at 2 or 4 Inner Temple Lane. “Drury Lane Theatre is burnt to the ground.” Robert Lloyd spent a short while in London in the spring of 1809 and saw the Lambs, Godwin, Captain Burney, James White and other persons. His letters to his wife describing these experiences, printed in Charles Lamb and the Lloyds, are amusingly fresh and enthusiastic.]