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Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. VIII 1803-05
Sarah Stoddart [Hazlitt] to Mary Lamb; [21 September 1803]

Chap. I 1778-1811
Ch. II: 1791-95
Ch. III 1795-98
Ch. IV 1798
Ch. V 1798
Ch. VI 1792-1803
Ch. VII 1803-05
Ch. VIII 1803-05
Ch. IX
Ch. X 1807
Ch. XI 1808
Ch. XII 1808
Ch. XII 1812
Ch. XIV 1814-15
Ch. XV 1814-17
Ch. XVI 1818
Ch. XVII 1820
Ch. XX 1821
Ch. I 1821
Ch. II 1821-22
Ch. III 1821-22
Ch. IV 1822
Ch. V 1822
Ch. VI 1822
Ch. VII 1822-23
Ch. VIII 1822
Ch. IX 1823
Ch. X 1824
Ch. XI 1825
Ch. XII 1825
Ch. XIII 1825
Ch. XIV 1825
Ch. XV 1825
Ch. XVI 1825-27
Ch. XVII 1826-28
Ch. XVIII 1829-30
Ch. XX
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[21st September, 1803.]
“My dear Sarah,

“I returned home from my visit yesterday, and was much pleased to find your letter, for I have been very anxious to hear how you are going on. I could hardly help expecting to see you when I came in; yet, though I should have rejoiced to have seen your merry face again, I believe it was better as it was, upon the whole—and, all things considered, it is certainly better you should go to Malta. The terms you are upon with your lover* does (as you say it will) appear wondrous strange to me; however, as I cannot enter into your feelings, I certainly can have nothing to say to it, only that I sincerely wish you happy in your own way, however odd that way may appear to me to be. I would begin now to advise you to drop all correspondence with

* A Mr. Turner, to whom Miss Stoddart was at this stage engaged.

William;* but as I said before, as I cannot enter into your feelings and views of things, your ways not being my ways, why should I tell you what I would do in your situation? So, child, take thy own ways, and God prosper thee in them!

“One thing my advising spirit must say—use as little Secrecy as possible, and as much as possible make a friend of your sister-in-law.† You know I was not struck with her at first sight, but upon your account I have watched and marked her very attentively; and while she was eating a bit of cold mutton in our kitchen, we had a serious conversation. From the frankness of her manner I am convinced she is a person I could make a friend of: why should not you? We talked freely about you; she seems to have a just notion of your character, and will be fond of you, if you will let her. . . . .

“My aunt and my mother were wholly unlike you and your sister, yet in some degree theirs is the secret history I believe of all sisters-in-law. . . . When you leave your mother, and say if you never shall see her again you shall feel no remorse; and when you make a Jewish bargain with your lover, all this gives me no offence, because it is your nature and your temper, and I do not expect or want you to be otherwise than you are. I love you for the good that-is in you, and look for no change. . . . .

* After great hesitation, and a most careful comparison of dates and expressions in letters, I have arrived at the firm belief that William was my grandfather, and that Miss Stoddart was in correspondence with him thus early.

† Mrs., afterwards Lady Stoddart. She was Isabella, daughter of the Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieff, Bart.


Secrecy, though you appear all frankness, is certainly a grand failing of yours; it is likewise your brother’s, and therefore a family failing. By secrecy, I mean you both want the habit of telling each other at the moment everything that happens, where you go, and what you do—that free communication of letters and opinions, just as they arrive, as Charles and I do, and which is after all the only groundwork of friendship. . . . . . . Begin, for God’s sake [from the] first, and tell her everything that passes: at first she may hear you with indifference, but in time this will gain her affection and confidence. Show her all your letters (no matter if she does not show hers); it is a pleasant thing for a friend to put into, one’s hand a letter just fresh from the post. I would even say, begin with showing her this, but that it is written freely and loosely, and some apology ought to be made for it. . . . .

“God bless you, and grant you may preserve your integrity, and remain unmarried and penniless, and make William a good and a happy wife.

“Your affectionate friend,
“M. Lamb.

Charles is very unwell, and my head aches. He sends his love: mine, with my best wishes, to your brother and sister.

“I hope I shall get another letter from you.

“Wednesday 21st September, 1803.
“Miss Stoddart, Dr. Stoddart’s, Ryde, Isle of Wight.
“To be left at the Post-Office.”