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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, 19 October 1810

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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Friday, 19 Oct., 1810. E. I. Ho.

DR W.—I forwarded the Letter which you sent to me, without opening it, to your Sister at Binfield. She has returned it to me, and begs me to tell you that she intends returning from B. on Monday or Tuesday next, when Priscilla leaves it, and that it was her earnest wish to spend another week with us in London, but she awaits another Letter from home to determine her. I can only say that she appeared so much pleased with London, and that she is so little likely to see it again for a long time, that if you can spare her, it will be almost a pity not. But doubtless she will have heard again from you, before I can get a reply to this Letter & what she next hears she says will be decisive. If wanted, she will set out immediately from London. Mary has been very ill which you have heard I suppose from the Montagues. She is very weak and low spirited now. I was much pleased with your continuation of the Essay on Epitaphs. It is the only sensible thing which has been written on that subject & it goes to the Bottom. In particular I was pleased with your Translation of that Turgid Epitaph into the plain feeling under it. It is perfectly a Test. But what is the reason we have so few good Epitaphs after all?

A very striking instance of your position might be found in the Church yard of Ditton upon Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton upon Thames has been blessed by the residence of a Poet, who for Love or Money, I do not well know which, has dignified every grave stone for the last few years with bran new verses, all different, and all ingenious, with the Author’s name at the Bottom of each. The sweet Swan of Thames has artfully diversified his strains & his rhymes, that the same thought never occurs twice. More justly perhaps, as no thought ever occurs at all, there was a
physical impossibility that the same thought should recur. It is long since I saw and read these inscriptions, but I remember the impression was of a smug Usher at his desk, in the intervals of instruction levelling his pen. Of Death as it consists of dust and worms and mourners and uncertainty he had never thought, but the word death he had often seen separate & conjunct with other words, till he had learned to skill of all its attributes as glibly as Unitarian
Belsham will discuss you the attributes of the word God, in a Pulpit, and will talk of infinity with a tongue that dangles from a scull that never reached in thought and thorough imagination two inches, or further than from his hand to his mouth, or from the vestry to the Sounding Board. [But the] epitaphs were trim and sprag & patent, & pleased the survivors of Thames Ditton above the old mumpsimus of Afflictions Sore.

To do justice though, it must be owned that even the excellent Feeling which dictated this Dirge when new, must have suffered something in passing thro’ so many thousand applications, many of them no doubt quite misplaced, as I have seen in Islington Churchy’d (I think) an Epitaph to an Infant who died Ætatis 4 months, with this seasonable inscription appended, Honor thy Fathr. and Mothr. that thy days may be long in the Land &c.—Sincerely wishing your children better [words cut out with signature].