LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. IV 1822

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
The subject continued.

The following was the reply received:—


“I should not have disregarded your injunction not to send you any more letters that might come to you, had I not promised the gentleman who left the enclosed to forward it at the earliest opportunity, as he said it was of consequence. Mr. Patmore called the day after you left town. My mother and myself are much obliged by your kind offer of tickets to the play, but must decline accepting it. My family send their best respects, in which they are joined by

“Yours truly,
“S. Walker.”

It appears that this letter was franked, and Mr. Hazlitt could not make out the writing. He had asked her whether the apartments occupied by him were let yet, and she took no notice of the question. He confessed to Mr. Patmore in this letter that he half sus-
pected her to be “an arrant jilt,” yet he “loved her dearly.” The evening before he left for Scotland, he had broken ground on the subject of a platonic attachment, but she did not quite know whether that could be. “Her father was rather strict, and would object.”

The next letter to Patmore is of the 30th March, 1822. He was still alone at or near Edinburgh: nor was he quite sure yet, whether Mrs. Hazlitt was coming there to have the business settled, or not. He had written to 9, Southampton Buildings, once more, but his letter remained without an answer. I shall not enter into the merely rhapsodical portions of this correspondence, because their committal to paper and appearance in print once must ever form a subject of regret. They are the unconnected and inconsequent outpourings of an imagination always supernaturally vivid, and now morbidly so. But he was not drawn away entirely from other matters. These letters occasionally contain miscellaneous items of news.

“It is well,” says he, “I had finished Colburn’s work,* before all this came upon me. It is one comfort I have done that. . . . I write this on the supposition that Mrs. H. may still come here, and that I may be left in suspense a week or two longer. But, for God’s sake, don’t go near the place on my account. Direct to me at the post-office, and if I return to town directly, as I fear, I will leave word for them to forward the letter to me in London—not in S. B. . . . .

* The second volume of ‘Table Talk.’

I have finished the book of my conversations with her, which I call ‘
Liber Amoris.’

“Yours truly,
“W. H.*
“Edinburgh, March 30.

“P.S. I have seen the great little man,† and he is very gracious to me. Et sa femme aussi! I tell him I am dull and out of spirits. He says he cannot perceive it. He is a person of an infinite vivacity. My Sardanapalus‡ is to be in. In my judgment Myrrha is most like S. W., only I am not like Sardanapalus.

“P. G. Patmore, Esq.,
“12 Greek Street, Soho, London.”

I have no letter between March 30th and April 7th. Mrs. Hazlitt was still expected, but had not yet arrived.

[April 7, 1822.]
“My dear Friend,

“I received your letter this morning with gratitude. I have felt somewhat easier since. It showed your interest in my vexations, and also that you knew nothing worse than I did. I cannot describe the weakness of mind to which she has reduced me. I am come back to Edinburgh about this cursed business, and Mrs. H. is coming down next week. . . . . A thought has struck me.

* I am quoting from the original autograph letter: in the printed copy the text differs,


‡ The review of Byron’sSardanapalus,’ in the ‘Edinburgh.’

Her father has a bill of mine for 10l. unhonoured, about which I tipped her a cavalier epistle ten days ago, saying I should be in town this week, and ‘would call and take it up,’ but nothing reproachful. Now if you can get
Colburn, who has a deposit of 220 pp. of the new volume, to come down with 10l., you might call and take up the aforesaid bill, saying that I am prevented from coming to town, as I expected, by the business I came about. . . . .

“W. H.

“P.S. Could you fill up two blanks for me in an essay on Burleigh House in Colburn’s hands,—one, Lamb’s Description of the Sports in the Forest:—see John Woodvil,
To see the sun to bed, and to arise, &c.;
the other,
Northcote’s account of Claude Lorraine in his Vision of a Painter at the end of his life of Sir Joshua? . . . .

Final. Don’t go at all. . . . . To think that I should feel as I have done for such a monster!

“P. G. Patmore, Esq.,
“12, Greek Street, Soto, London.”

On Sunday the 21st April, 1822, Mrs. Hazlitt landed at Leith. She had left London on the previous Sunday in the smack Superb, at 3 p.m. So it had been a week’s voyage. She experienced fine, dry weather. In her Diary, which she entitled the ‘Journal of my Trip to Scotland,’ she gives the following account of her arrival:—


Sunday, 21st [April].—At 5 a.m. calm. At 1 p.m. landed safe at Leith. A laddie brought my luggage with me to the Black Bull, Catherine Street, Edinburgh. Dined at three on mutton chops. Met Mr. Bell at the door, as I was going to take a walk after dinner. He had been on board the vessel to inquire for me. After he went, I walked up to Edinburgh. . . . . Returned to tea. . . . . Went to bed at half-past twelve.

Mr. Hazlitt casually heard of her arrival from Mr. Bell, but they did not apparently meet, though Mr. H. was at the Black Bull that Sunday, as will be seen presently. He wrote off to Mr. Patmore on the same day:—

[Edinburgh, April 21, 1822.]
“My dear Patmore,

“I got your letter this morning, and I kiss the rod not only with submission but gratitude. Your rebukes of me and your defences of her are the only things that save me. . . . . Be it known to you that while I write this I am drinking ale at the Black Bull, celebrated in Blackwood. It is owing to your letter. Could I think the love honest, I am proof against Edinburgh ale. . . . Mrs. H. is actually on her way here. I was going to set off home . . . . when coming up Leith Walk I met an old friend come down here to settle, who said, ‘I saw your wife at the wharf. She had just paid her passage by the Superb.’ . . . This Bell whom I met is the very man to negotiate the business between us.
Should the business succeed, and I should be free, do you think
S. W. will be Mrs. ——? If she will she shall; and to call her so to you, or to hear her called so by others, will be music to my ears such as they never heard [!] . . . . . How I sometimes think of the time I first saw the sweet apparition, August 16, 1820! . . . I am glad you go on swimmingly with the N[ew] M[onthly] M[agazine]. I shall be back in a week or a month. I won’t write to her.

[No signature.]

“I wish Colburn would send me word what he is about. Tell him what I am about, if you think it wise to do so.

“P. G. Patmore, Esq.,
“12, Greek Street, Soho, London.”

The letters in the printed volume are very apt to mislead such readers as they may find, for they are not printed faithfully, even as regards the sequence of events. We must therefore go back to Mrs. Hazlitt’s Diary, which is, I believe, perfectly accurate, and certainly most minute:—

Monday, 22nd [April] Mr. Bell called about twelve, and I went with him to Mr. Cranstoun, the barrister, to consult him on the practicability and safety of procuring a divorce, and informed him that my friends in England had rather alarmed me by asserting that, if I took the oath of calumny, and swore that there was no collusion between Mr. Hazlitt and myself to procure the divorce, I should be liable to a prosecu-
tion and transportation for perjury. Mr. Hazlitt having certainly told me that he should never live with me again, and as my situation must have long been uncomfortable, he thought for both our sakes it would be better to obtain a divorce, and put an end to it

Tuesday, 23rd.—Consulted Mr. Gray [a solicitor]. . . . . The case must be submitted to the procurators to decide whether I may be admitted to the oath of calumny. If they agree to it, the oath to be administered, then Mr. Hazlitt to be cited in answer to the charge, and if not defended [I told him I was sure Mr. Hazlitt had no such intention, as he was quite as desirous of obtaining the divorce as me], he said then, if no demur or difficulty arose about proofs, the cause would probably occupy two months, and cost 50l., but that I should have to send to England for the testimony of two witnesses who were present at the marriage, and also to testify that we acknowledged each other as husband and wife, and were so esteemed by our friends, neighbours, acquaintances, &c. He said it was fortunate that Mr. and Mrs. Bell were here to bear testimony to the latter part. And that I must also procure a certificate of my marriage from St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn. I took the questions which Mr. Gray wrote . . . . . to Mr. Bell, who added a note, and I put it in the penny post. Sent also the paper signed by Mr. Hazlitt securing the reversion of my money to the child, which Mr. Bell had given me, by the mail to Coulson, requesting him to get it properly stamped and return it to me, together with the certificate of my marriage. . . . .


Thursday, 25th April [1822].—Mr. Bell called to ask if he could be of any assistance to me. I had just sent a note to Mr. Hazlitt to say that I demurred to the oath, so there was no occasion to trouble Mr. Bell. In the afternoon Mr. Ritchie, of the Scotsman newspaper, called to beg me, as a friend to both (I had never seen or heard of him before), to proceed in the divorce, and relieve all parties from an unpleasant situation. Said that with my appearance it was highly probable that I might marry again, and meet with a person more congenial to me than Mr. Hazlitt had unfortunately proved. That Mr. Hazlitt was in such a state of nervous irritability that he could not work or apply to anything, and that he thought that he would not live very long if he was not easier in his mind. I told him I did not myself think that he would survive me. . . . . In the evening Mr. Bell called. . . . . I then told him of Mr. Ritchie’s visit, at which he seemed much surprised, and said if Mr. Hazlitt had sent him, as I supposed, he acted with great want of judgment and prudence. . . . .

Saturday, 11th April.—Gave Mr. Bell the stamp for the 50l. bill, and the following paper of memorandum for Mr. Hazlitt to sign:—

“1. William Hazlitt to pay the whole expense of board, clothing, and education, for his son, William Hazlitt, by his wife, Sarah Hazlitt (late Stoddart), and she to be allowed free access to him at all times, and occasional visits from him.

“2. William Hazlitt to pay board, lodging, law, and all other expenses incurred by his said wife during her
stay in Scotland on this divorce business, together with travelling expenses.

“3. William Hazlitt to give a note-of-hand for fifty pounds at six months, payable to William Netherfold or order. Value Received.”

Mr. Bell said he would go that day to Mr. Gray then go on to Mr. Hazlitt’s, and call on me afterwards; but I saw no more of him.

Sunday, 28th April, 1822—Wrote to Mr. Hazlitt to inform him I had only between five and six pounds of my quarter’s money left, and therefore, if he did not send me some immediately, and fulfil his agreement for the rest, I should be obliged to return on Tuesday, while I had enough to take me back. Sent the letter by a laddie. Called on Mr. Bell, who said that Mr. Gray was not at home when he called, but that he had seen his son, and appointed to be with him at ten o’clock on Monday morning. Told me that Mr. Hazlitt said he would give the draft to fifty pounds at three months instead of six, when the proceedings had commenced (meaning, I suppose, when the oath was taken, for they had already commenced) but would do nothing before. Told me he was gone to Lanark, but would be back on Monday morning. . . . .

Tuesday, 30th April.—Went to Mr. Bell after dinner, who did not know whether Mr. Hazlitt was returned or not. . . . . In the evening, after some hesitation, went to Mr. Hazlitt myself for an answer. He told me he expected thirty pounds from Colburn on Thursday, and then he would let me have five pounds for present
expenses; that he had but one pound in his pocket, but if I wanted it, I should have that. That he was going to give two lectures at Glasgow next week, for which he was to have 100l., and he had eighty pounds beside to receive for the ‘
Table Talk’ in a fortnight, out of which sums he pledged himself to fulfil his engagements relative to my expenses: and also to make me a handsome present, when it was over (20l.), as I seemed to love money. Or it would enable me to travel back by land, as I said I should prefer seeing something of the country to going back in the steamboat, which he proposed. Said he would give the note-of-hand for fifty pounds to Mr. Ritchie for me, payable to whoever I pleased: if he could conveniently at the time, it should be for three months instead of six, but he was not certain of that. . . . . Inquired if I had taken the oath. I told him I only waited a summons from Mr. Gray, if I could depend upon the money, but I could not live in a strange place without: and I had no friends or means of earning money here as he had; though, as I had still four pounds, I could wait a few days. I asked him how the expenses, or my draught, were to be paid, if he went abroad, and he answered that, if he succeeded in the divorce, he should be easy in his mind, and able to work, and then he should probably be back in three months; but otherwise, he might leave England for ever. He said that as soon as I had got him to sign a paper giving away a 150l. a year from himself, I talked of going back, and leaving everything. . . I told him to recollect that it
was no advantage for myself that I sought . . . it was only to secure something to his child as well as mine. He said he could do very well for the child himself; and that he was allowed to be a very indulgent, kind father—some people thought too much so. I said I did not dispute his fondness for him, but I must observe that though he got a great deal of money, he never saved or had any by him, or was likely to make much provision for the child; neither could I think it was proper, or for his welfare that he should take him to the Fives Court, and such places . . . . it was likely to corrupt and vitiate him. . . . He said perhaps it was wrong, but that he did not know that it was any good to bring up children in ignorance of the world. . . . He said I had always despised him and his abilities. . . . He said that a paper had been brought to him from Mr. Gray that day, but that he was only just come in from Lanark, after walking thirty miles, and was getting his tea. . . . .

Thursday, 2nd May [1822].—Mr. Bell called to say Mr. Hazlitt would sign the papers to-morrow and leave [them] in his hand. And that he should bring me the first five pounds. When he was gone, I wrote to Mr. Hazlitt, requesting him to leave the papers in Mr. Ritchie’s hands, as he had before proposed.

Friday, 3rd May.—Received the certificate of my marriage, and the stamped paper transferring my money to the child after my death, from Coulson, the carriage of which cost seven shillings. Called on Mr. Gray, who said, on my asking him when my presence would
be necessary in the business, that he should not call on me till this day three weeks. . . . .

Saturday, 4th May, 1822.—Mr. Ritchie called, and gave me 4l, said Mr. Hazlitt could not spare more then, as he was just setting off for Glasgow

Tuesday, 7th May.—Wrote to my little son

Tuesday, 21st May.—Wrote to Mr. Hazlitt for money. The note was returned with a message that he was gone to London, and would not be back for a fortnight.

Wednesday, 22nd.—Called on Mr. Ritchie to inquire what I was to do for money, as Mr. Hazlitt had gone off without sending me any: he seemed surprised to hear he was in London, but conjectured he was gone about the publication of his book, took his address, and said he would write to him in the evening.

Mr. Hazlitt gave two lectures at the Andersonian Institution, Glasgow. The first, which took place on Monday, May 6, was on Milton and Shakespeare. In the Glasgow Herald of May 3, 1822, is the following notice:—
Andersonian Institution.
Mr. Hazlitt Lectures on Monday evening, May the 6th,
on Milton and Shakespeare.
Tickets, five shillings. To Commence at 8 o’clock.
This lecture was thus noticed in the same paper for Friday, May 10:—*

* There are a few lines alluding to this lecture in the Examiner for May 12, 1822.


Mr. Hazlitt’s lecture on Monday night last was numerously attended, and made a powerful impression upon an audience composed of some of the most distinguished characters and most respectable inhabitants of our city. His perception of the beauties and faults of our great dramatist was vivid and accurate, and the sublimities of Milton were developed with kindred enthusiasm.”

The second lecture was advertised for Monday the 13th, at the same hour, the tickets five shillings, as before. The subject was to be Burns; but the plan was subsequently altered, and the Herald of May 13 announced that Mr. Hazlitt would treat of Thomson and Burns.

The following notice of this second and farewell lecture appeared in the Scotsman of Saturday, May 18, 1822, as an extract from the Glasgow Chronicle:—

Mr. Hazlitt delivered his second and last lecture on Monday evening to a numerous and respectable audience. Nothing could exceed the marked attention with which he was heard throughout. ‘He concluded,’ continues a correspondent, ‘amidst the plaudits of highly-raised and highly-gratified expectation.’”

While he was at Glasgow he attended St. John’s Church, for the sake of hearing Dr. Chalmers preach. “We never saw,” he says, “fuller attendances or more profound attention—it was like a sea of eyes, a swarm of heads, gaping for mysteries, and staring for elucidations.”