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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt [14 March 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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[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.