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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 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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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Jan. 2nd, 1810.

Mary sends her love.

DEAR Manning,—When I last wrote to you, I was in lodgings. I am now in chambers, No. 4., Inner Temple Lane, where I should be happy to see you any evening. Bring any of your friends, the Mandarins, with you. I have two sitting-rooms: I call them so par excellence, for you may stand, or loll, or lean, or try any posture in them; but they are best for sitting; not squatting down Japanese fashion, but the more decorous use of the post——s which European usage has consecrated. I have two of these rooms on the third floor, and five sleeping, cooking, &c., rooms, on the fourth floor. In my best room is a choice collection of the works of Hogarth, an English painter of some humour. In my next best are shelves containing a small but well-chosen library. My best room commands a court, in which there are trees and a pump, the water of which is excellent—cold with brandy, and not very insipid without. Here I hope to set up my rest, and not quit till Mr. Powell, the undertaker, gives me notice that I may have possession of my last lodging. He lets lodgings for single gentlemen. I sent you a parcel of books by my last, to give you some idea of the state of European literature. There comes with this two volumes, done up as letters, of minor poetry, a sequel to “Mrs. Leicester;” the best you may suppose mine; the next best are my coadjutor’s; you may amuse yourself in guessing them out; but I must tell you mine are but one-third in quantity of the whole. So much for a very delicate subject. It is hard to speak of one’s self, &c. Holcroft had finished his life when I wrote to you, and Hazlitt has since finished his life—I do not mean his own life, but he has finished a life of Holcroft, which is going to press. Tuthill is Dr. Tuthill. I continue Mr. Lamb. I have published a little book for children on titles of honour: and to give them some idea of the difference of rank and gradual rising, I have made a little scale, supposing myself to receive the following various accessions of dignity from the king, who is the fountain of honour—As at first, 1, Mr. C. Lamb; 2, C. Lamb, Esq.; 3, Sir C. Lamb, Bart.; 4, Baron Lamb of Stamford;1 5, Viscount Lamb; 6, Earl Lamb; 7, Marquis Lamb; 8, Duke Lamb. It would look like quibbling to carry it on further, and especially as it is not necessary for children to go beyond the ordinary titles of sub-regal dignity in

1 Where my family come from. I have chosen that if ever I should have my choice.

our own country, otherwise I have sometimes in my dreams imagined myself still advancing, as 9th, King Lamb; 10th, Emperor Lamb; 11th, Pope Innocent, higher than which is nothing but the Lamb of God. Puns I have not made many (nor punch much), since the date of my last; one I cannot help relating. A constable in Salisbury Cathedral was telling me that eight people dined at the top of the spire of the cathedral; upon which I remarked, that they must be very sharp-set. But in general I cultivate the reasoning part of my mind more than the imaginative. Do you know Kate * * * * * * * * * I am stuffed out so with eating turkey for dinner, and another turkey for supper yesterday (turkey in Europe and turkey in Asia), that I can’t jog on. It is New-Year here. That is, it was New-Year half a-year back, when I was writing this. Nothing puzzles me more than time and space, and yet nothing puzzles me less, for I never think about them.1 The Persian ambassador is the principal thing talked of now. I sent some people to see him worship the sun on Primrose Hill at half past six in the morning, 28th November; but he did not come, which makes me think the old fire-worshippers are a sect almost extinct in Persia. Have you trampled on the Cross yet? The Persian ambassador’s name is
Shaw Ali Mirza. The common people call him Shaw Nonsense. While I think of it, I have put three letters besides my own three into the India post for you, from your brother, sister, and some gentleman whose name I forget. Will they, have they, did they, come safe? The distance you are at, cuts up tenses by the root. I think you said you did not know Kate * * * * * * * * * I express her by nine stars, though she is but one, but if ever one star differed from another in glory ——. You must have seen her at her father’s. Try and remember her. Coleridge is bringing out a paper in weekly numbers, called the “Friend,” which I would send, if I could; but the difficulty I had in getting the packets of books out to you before deters me; and you’ll want something new to read when you come home. It is chiefly intended to puff off Wordsworth’s poetry; but there are some noble things in it by the by. Except Kate, I have had no vision of excellence this year, and she passed by like the queen on her coronation day; you don’t know whether you saw her or not. Kate is fifteen: I go about moping, and sing the old pathetic ballad I used to like in my youth—
“She’s sweet Fifteen,
I’m one year more.”

Mrs. Bland sung it in boy’s clothes the first time I heard it. I sometimes think the lower notes in my voice are like Mrs. Bland’s.

1 [See Appendix II., page 971.]

That glorious singer
Braham, one of my lights, is fled. He was for a season. He was a rare composition of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel, yet all these elements mixed up so kindly in him, that you could not tell which predominated; but he is gone, and one Phillips is engaged instead. Kate is vanished, but Miss B * * * * * * is always to be met with!
“Queens drop away, while blue-legg’d Maukin thrives;
And courtly Mildred dies while country Madge survives.”
That is not my poetry, but
Quarles’s; but haven’t you observed that the rarest things are the least obvious? Don’t show anybody the names in this letter. I write confidentially, and wish this letter to be considered as private. Hazlitt has written a grammar for Godwin; Godwin sells it bound up with a treatise of his own on language, but the grey mare is the better horse. I don’t allude to Mrs. Godwin, but to the word grammar, which comes near to grey mare, if you observe, in sound. That figure is called paranomasia in Greek. I am sometimes happy in it. An old woman begged of me for charity. “Ah! sir,” said she, “I have seen better days;” “So have I, good woman,” I replied; but I meant literally, days not so rainy and overcast as that on which she begged: she meant more prosperous days. Mr. Dawe is made associate of the Royal Academy. By what law of association I can’t guess. Mrs. Holcroft, Miss Holcroft, Mr. and Mrs. Godwin, Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt, Mrs. Martin and Louisa, Mrs. Lum, Capt. Burney, Mrs. Burney, Martin Burney, Mr. Rickman, Mrs. Rickman, Dr. Stoddart, William Dollin, Mr. Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. Norris, Mr. Fenwick, Mrs. Fenwick, Miss Fenwick, a man that saw you at our house one day, and a lady that heard me speak of you; Mrs. Buffam that heard Hazlitt mention you, Dr. Tuthill, Mrs. Tuthill, Colonel Harwood, Mrs. Harwood, Mr. Collier, Mrs. Collier, Mr. Sutton, Nurse, Mr. Fell, Mrs. Fell, Mr. Marshall, are very well, and occasionally inquire after you. [Rest cut away.]


[“I have published a little book.” This was, of course, an invention. In the Elia essay on “Poor RelationsLamb says that his father’s boyhood was spent at Lincoln, and in Susan Yates’ story in Mrs. Leicester’s School we see the Lincolnshire fens, but of the history of the family we know nothing. I fancy Stamford is a true touch.

“The Persian ambassador.” A portrait of this splendid person is preserved at the India Office. Leigh Hunt says that Dyer was among the pilgrims to Primrose Hill.

“Kate * * * * * * * * *.” I have not identified this young lady.


“The old pathetic ballad.” I have not found this.

“Mrs. Bland.” Maria Theresa Bland (1769-1838), a Jewess, and a mezzo-soprano famous in simple ballads, who was connected with Drury Lane for many years.

“Braham is fled.” Braham did not sing in London in 1810, but joined Mrs. Billington in a long provincial tour. Phillips was Thomas Philipps (1774-1841), singer and composer.

“Miss B * * * * * *.” Miss Burrell. See note on page 513.

“Not my poetry, but Quarles’s.” In “An Elegie,” Stanza 16. Lamb does not quote quite correctly.

Hazlitt’s grammar.” A New and Improved Grammar of the English Tongue . . . by William Hazlitt, to which is added A New Guide to the English Tongue by E[dward] Baldwin (William Godwin). Published by M. J. Godwin. 1810.

“A woman begged of me.” Lamb told this story at the end of his Elia essay “A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars,” in the London Magazine, June, 1822, but the passage was not reprinted in book form. See Vol. II. of this edition, page 387.

George Dawe was made A.R.A. in 1809, not R.A. until 1814.

Of the friends on Lamb’s list we have already met several. Mr. and Mrs. Norris were the Randal Norrises. Dr. Stoddart having left Malta was now practising in Doctors Commons. Mr. and Mrs. Collier were the John Dyer Colliers, the parents of John Payne Collier, who introduced Lamb to Henry Crabb Robinson. Both Colliers were journalists. We meet some Buffams later, in the Moxon correspondence. Mr. Marshall was Godwin’s friend. Of Mrs. Lum, Mr. Dollin, Mr. Thompson, Colonel and Mrs. Harwood, and Mr. Sutton, I know nothing.]

[Dated by H. C. R. Feb. 7, 1810.]

DR R.—My Brother whom you have met at my rooms (a plump good looking man of seven and forty!) has written a book about humanity, which I transmit to you herewith. Wilson the Publisher has put it in his head that you can get it Reviewed for him. I dare say it is not in the scope of your Review—but if you could put it in any likely train, he would rejoyce. For alas! our boasted Humanity partakes of Vanity. As it is, he teazes me to death with chusing to suppose that I could get it into all the Reviews at a moment’s notice—I!! who have been set up as a mark for them to throw at, and would willingly consign them all to Hell flames and Megæra’s snaky locks.


But here’s the Book—and don’t shew it Mrs. Collier, for I remember she makes excellent Eel soup, and the leading points of the Book are directed against that very process.

Yours truly
C. Lamb.
At Home to-night—Wednesday [February 7].

[Addressed to “Henry Robinson, Esq., 56 Hatton Garden,’ with a Treatise on Cruelty to Animals.’”

Lamb’s brother, John Lamb, who was born in 1763, was now Accountant of the South-Sea House. His character is described by Lamb in the Elia essay “My Relations,” where he figures as James Elia. Robinson’s Diary later frequently expresses Robinson’s dislike of his dogmatic ways.

The pamphlet has been identified by Mr. L. S. Livingston as A Letter to the Right Hon. William Windham, on his opposition to Lord Erskine’s Bill for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It was published by Maxwell & Wilson at 17 Skinner Street in 1810. No author’s name is given. One copy only is known, and that is in America, and the owner declines to permit it to be reprinted. The particular passage referring to eel pie runs thus:—

“If an eel had the wisdom of Solomon, he could not help himself in the ill-usage that befalls him; but if he had, and were told, that it was necessary for our subsistence that he should be eaten, that he must be skinned first, and then broiled; if ignorant of man’s usual practice, he would conclude that the cook would so far use her reason as to cut off his head first, which is not fit for food, as then he might be skinned and broiled without harm; for however the other parts of his body might be convulsed during the culinary operations, there could be no feeling of consciousness therein, the communication with the brain being cut off; but if the woman were immediately to stick a fork into his eye, skin him alive, coil him up in a skewer, head and all, so that in the extremest agony he could not move, and forthwith broil him to death: then were the same Almighty Power that formed man from the dust, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, to call the eel into a new existence, with a knowledge of the treatment he had undergone, and he found that the instinctive disposition which man has in common with other carnivorous animals, which inclines him to cruelty, was not the sole cause of his torments; but that men did not attend to consider whether the sufferings of such insignificant creatures could be lessened: that eels were not the only sufferers; that lobsters and other shell fish were put into cold water and boiled to death by slow degrees in many parts of the sea coast; that these, and many other such wanton atrocities, were the consequence of care-
lessness occasioned by the pride of mankind despising their low estate, and of the general opinion that there is no punishable sin in the ill-treatment of animals designed for our use; that, therefore, the woman did not bestow so much thought on him as to cut his head off first, and that she would have laughed at any considerate person who should have desired such a thing; with what fearful indignation might he inveigh against the unfeeling metaphysician that, like a cruel spirit alarmed at the appearance of a dawning of mercy upon animals, could not rest satisfied with opposing the Cruelty Prevention Bill by the plea of possible inconvenience to mankind, highly magnified and emblazoned, but had set forth to the vulgar and unthinking of all ranks, in the jargon of proud learning, that man’s obligations of morality towards the creatures subjected to his use are imperfect obligations!”

Robinson’s review was, I imagine, The London Review, founded by Richard Cumberland in February, 1809, which, however, no longer existed, having run its brief course by November, 1809.

“Megæra’s snaky locks.” From Paradise Lost, X., 559:—
and up the trees
Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks
That curl’d Megæra.

Here should come another letter from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Senior, dated March 10, 1810, not available for this edition. It refers to Mr. Lloyd’s translation of the first seven books of the Odyssey and is accompanied by a number of criticisms. Lamb advises Mr. Lloyd to complete the Odyssey, adding that he would prize it for its Homeric plainness and truths above the confederate jumble of Pope, Browne and Fenton which goes under Pope’s name and is far inferior to his Iliad. Among the criticisms is one on Mr. Lloyd’s use of the word “patriotic,” in which Lamb says that it strikes his ears as being too modern; adding that in English few words of more than three syllables chime well into a verse. The word “sentiment” calls from him the remark that he would root it out of a translation of Homer. “It came in with Sterne, and was a child he had by Affectation.”]

[April 9th, 1810.]

DEAR Gutch,—I did not see your brother, who brought me Wither; but he understood, he said, you were daily expecting to come to town: this has prevented my writing. The books
have pleased me excessively: I should think you could not have made a better selection. I never saw “
Philarete” before—judge of my pleasure. I could not forbear scribbling certain critiques in pencil on the blank leaves. Shall I send them, or may I expect to see you in town? Some of them are remarks on the character of Wither and of his writings. Do you mean to have anything of that kind? What I have said on “Philarete” is poor, but I think some of the rest not so bad: perhaps I have exceeded my commission in scrawling over the copies; but my delight therein must excuse me, and pencil-marks will rub out. Where is the Life? Write, for I am quite in the dark.

Yours, with many thanks,

C. Lamb.

Perhaps I could digest the few critiques prefixed to the Satires, Shepherds Hunting, &c., into a short abstract of Wither’s character and works, at the end of his Life. But, may be, you don’t want any thing, and have said all you wish in the Life.


[John Mathew Gutch (1776-1861), whom we have met before (see page 167), was at this time living at Bristol, where he owned, edited and printed Felix Farley’s Bristol Journal. He had been printing for his own pleasure an edition of George Wither’s poems, which he had sent to Lamb for his opinion, intending ultimately to edit Wither fully. Lamb returned the volumes with a number of comments, many of which he afterwards incorporated in his essay “On the Poetry of George Wither,” printed in his Works in 1818. Gutch subsequently handed the volumes to his friend Dr. John Nott of the Hot Wells, Bristol, who had views of his own upon Wither, and who commented in his turn on the poet and on Lamb’s criticism of the poet. In course of time the volumes fell into Lamb’s hands again, when Nott’s comments on Wither and on Lamb received treatment. They were ultimately given by Lamb to his friend Brook Pulham of the India House (who made the caricature etching of “Ælia”) and are now in the possession of Mr. A. C. Swinburne, who told the story of the book in the Nineteenth Century for January, 1885, reprinted in his Miscellanies, 1886. Some passages from that article will be found in the notes to Lamb’s essay on Wither in Vol. I. of the present edition, page 453. The last word was with Nott, for when Gutch printed a three- or four-volume edition of Wither in 1820, under Nott’s editorship, many of Lamb’s best things were included as Nott’s.]

Mr. Hazlitt’s: Winterslow, near Sarum,
12th July, 1810.

DEAR [Montagu],—I have turned and twisted the MSS. in my head, and can make nothing of them. I knew when I took them that I could not; but I do not like to do an act of ungracious necessity at once; so I am ever committing myself by half engagements and total failures. I cannot make any body understand why I can’t do such things. It is a defect in my occiput. I cannot put other people’s thoughts together; I forget every paragraph as fast as I read it; and my head has received such a shock by an all-night journey on the top of the coach, that I shall have enough to do to nurse it into its natural pace before I go home. I must devote myself to imbecility. I must be gloriously useless while I stay here. How is Mrs. [M.]? will she pardon my inefficiency? The city of Salisbury is full of weeping and wailing. The Bank has stopt payment; and every body in the town kept money at it, or has got some of its notes. Some have lost all they had in the world. It is the next thing to seeing a city with a plague within its walls. The Wilton people are all undone. All the manufacturers there kept cash at the Salisbury bank; and I do suppose it to be the unhappiest county in England this, where I am making holiday.

We purpose setting out for Oxford Tuesday fortnight, and coming thereby home. But no more night travelling. My head is sore (understand it of the inside) with that deduction of my natural rest which I suffered coming down. Neither Mary nor I can spare a morsel of our rest. It is incumbent on us to be misers of it. Travelling is not good for us—we travel so seldom. If the Sun be Hell, it is not for the fire, but for the sempiternal motion of that miserable Body of Light. How much more dignified leisure hath a mussel glued to his unpassable rocky limit, two inch square! He hears the tide roll over him, backwards and forwards twice a-day (as the d——d Salisbury Long Coach goes and returns in eight and forty hours), but knows better than to take an outside night-place a top on’t. He is the Owl of the Sea. Minerva’s fish. The fish of Wisdom.

Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. [M.].

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.

[If the date is correct we must suppose that the Lambs had made a second visit to the Hazlitts and were intending to return by way of Oxford (see next Letter).

Basil Montagu was a barrister and humanitarian, a friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and afterwards step-father-in-law of Procter. He was born in 1770 and lived until 1851. Lamb probably addressed to him many other letters, also to his third wife, Carlyle’s “noble lady.” But the correspondence was destroyed by Mrs. Procter.

The MSS. referred to cannot now be identified.]

August 9th, 1810.

DEAR H.,—Epistemon is not well. Our pleasant excursion has ended sadly for one of us. You will guess I mean my sister. She got home very well (I was very ill on the journey) and continued so till Monday night, when her complaint came on, and she is now absent from home.

I am glad to hear you are all well. I think I shall be mad if I take any more journeys with two experiences against it. I find all well here. Kind remembrances to Sarah—have just got her letter.

H. Robinson has been to Blenheim. He says you will be sorry to hear that we should have asked for the Titian Gallery there. One of his friends knew of it, and asked to see it. It is never shown but to those who inquire for it.

The pictures are all Titians, Jupiter and Ledas, Mars and Venuses, &c., all naked pictures, which may be a reason they don’t show it to females. But he says they are very fine; and perhaps it is shown separately to put another fee into the shower’s pocket. Well, I shall never see it.

I have lost all wish for sights. God bless you. I shall be glad to see you in London.

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.
1810 EPITAPHS 417

[Hazlitt subsequently saw the Blenheim Titians and wrote of them with gusto in his description of the Picture Galleries of England.

Next should come a letter from Lamb to Mrs. Thomas Clarkson, dated September 18, 1810, not available for this edition; relating to the illness of Mary Lamb and stating that she is “quite restored and will be with me in little more than a week.”]

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].


[Binfield, near Windsor, was the home of Dorothy Wordsworth’s uncle, Dr. Cookson, Canon of Windsor.

Priscilla, née Lloyd, a sister of Charles Lloyd, had married Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards Master of Trinity, in 1804.

Wordsworth’sEssay on Epitaphs” was printed in part in The Friend, February 22, 1810. For the remainder see Wordsworth’s Works. Part II. began with a reference to Rosamund Gray. I quote the passage containing the turgid example.

Let us return to an instance of common life. I quote it with reluctance, not so much for its absurdity as that the expression in one place will strike at first sight as little less than impious; and it is indeed, though unintentionally so, most irreverent. But I know no other example that will so forcibly illustrate the important truth I wish to establish. The following epitaph is to be found in a church-yard in Westmoreland; which the present Writer has reason to think of with interest as it contains the remains of some of his ancestors and kindred. The date is 1673.
“Under this Stone, Reader, inter’d doth lye,
Beauty and Virtue’s true epitomy.
At her appearance the noone-son
Blush’d and shrunk in ’cause quite outdon.
In her concentered did all graces dwell:
God pluck’d my rose that He might take a smel.
I’ll say no more: but weeping wish I may
Soone with thy dear chaste ashes com to lay.
Sic efflevit Maritus.”


Can anything go beyond this in extravagance? yet, if the fundamental thoughts be translated into a natural style, they will be found reasonable and affecting “The woman who lies here interred, was in my eyes a perfect image of beauty and virtue; she was to me a brighter object than the sun in heaven: God took her, who was my delight, from this earth to bring her nearer to Himself. Nothing further is worthy to be said than that weeping I wish soon to lie by thy dear chaste ashes. Thus did the husband pour out his tears.”

Wordsworth wrote an epitaph on Lamb, but it was too long to be used. A few lines are now on the tablet in Edmonton Church.

The text of “Afflictions Sore” will be found on page 63. Lamb had begun his criticisms of churchyard epitaphs very early: Talfourd tells that, when quite a little boy, after reading a number of flattering inscriptions, he asked Mary Lamb where all the bad people were buried.]

[p.m. November 13, 1810.]

MY dear friend—My brother’s letter, which I did not see, I am sure has distressed you sadly. I was then so ill as to alarm him exceedingly, and he thought me quite incapable of any kind of business. It is a great mortification to me to be such an useless creature, and I feel myself greatly indebted to you for the very kind manner in which you take this ungracious matter: but I will say no more on this unpleasant subject. I am at present under the care of Dr. Tuthill. I think I have derived great benefit from his medicines. He has also made a water drinker of me, which, contrary to my expectations, seems to agree with me very well.

I very much regret that you were so untimely snatched away; the lively recollection you seem to retain of London scenes will I hope induce you to return, in happier times, for I must still hope for better days.

We have had many pleasant hours with Coleridge,—if I had not known how ill he is I should have had no idea of it, for he has been very chearful. But yet I have no good news to send you of him, for two days ago, when I saw him last, he had not begun his course of medicine & regimen under Carlisle. I have had a very chearful letter from Mrs. Clarkson. She complained a little of your friend Tom, but she says she means to devote the winter to the task of new molding him, I am afraid she will find it no easy task.


Mrs. Montague was very sorry to find you gone. I have not seen much of her, for I have kept very much at home since her return. I mean to stay at home and keep early hours all this winter.

I have a new maid coming this evening. Betty, that you left here, went from me last week, and I took a girl lately from the country, who was fetched away in a few days by her sister, who took it into her head that the Temple was an improper place for a girl to live in. I wish the one that is coming may suit me. She is seven & twenty, with a very plain person, therefore I may hope she will be in little danger here.

Henry Robinson, and many other friends that you made here, enquire continually after you. The Spanish lady is gone, and now poor Robinson is left quite forlorn.

The streets remind me so much of you that I wish for you every showy shop I pass by. I hope we had many pleasant fireside hours together, but I almost fear the stupid dispirited state I was in made me seem a very flat companion; but I know I listened with great pleasure to many interesting conversations. I thank you for what you have done for Phillips, his fate will be decided in about a week. He has lately breakfasted with Sir Joseph Banks, who received him with great civility but made him no promise of support. Sir Joseph told him a new candidate had started up who it was expected would be favoured by the council. I am afraid Phillips stands a very poor chance.

I am doing nothing, I wish I was, for if I were once more busily employed at work, I should be more satisfied with myself. I should not feel so helpless, & so useless.

I hope you will write soon, your letters give me great pleasure; you have made me so well acquainted with all your household, that I must hope for frequent accounts how you are all going on. Remember us affectionately to your brother & sister. I hope the little Katherine continues mending. God bless you all & every one.

Your affectionate friend
M. Lamb.
Novr. 13, 1810.
LETTER 185 (continued).
[Charles Lamb adds:—]

Mary has left a little space for me to fill up with nonsense, as the Geographers used to cram monsters in the voids of their maps & call it Terra Incognita. She has told you how she has taken to water, like a hungry otter. I too limp after her in lame imita-
tion, but it goes against me a little at first. I have been aquavorous now for full four days, and it seems a moon. I am full of cramps & rheumatisms,’ and cold internally so that fire won’t warm me, yet I bear all for virtues sake. Must I then leave you, Gin, Rum, Brandy, Aqua Vita?—pleasant jolly fellows—Damn Temperance and them that first invented it, some Anti Noahite.
Coleridge has powdered his head, and looks like Bacchus, Bacchus ever sleek and young. He is going to turn sober, but his Clock has not struck yet, meantime he pours down goblet after goblet, the 2d to see where the 1st is gone, the 3d to see no harm happens to the second, a fourth to say there’s another coming, and a 5th to say he’s not sure he’s the last. William Henshaw is dead. He died yesterday, aged 56. It was but a twelvemonth or so back that his Father, an ancient Gunsmith & my Godfather, sounded me as to my willingness to be guardian to this William in case of his (the old man’s) death. William had three times broke in business, twice in England, once in t’other Hemisphere. He returned from America a sot & hath liquidated all debts. What a hopeful ward I am rid of. Ætatis 56. I must have taken care of his morals, seen that he did not form imprudent connections, given my consent before he could have married &c. From all which the stroke of death hath relieved me. Mrs. Reynolds is the name of the Lady to whom I will remember you tomorrow. Farewell. Wish me strength to continue. I’ve been eating jugg’d Hare. The toast & water makes me quite sick.

C. Lamb.

[After the preceding letter Mary Lamb had been taken ill—but not, I think, mentally—and Dorothy Wordsworth’s visit was put off.

Coleridge, The Friend having ceased, had come to London with the Montagus on October 26 to stay with them indefinitely at 55 Frith Street, Soho. But a few days after his arrival Montagu had inadvisedly repeated what he unjustifiably called a warning phrase of Wordsworth’s concerning Coleridge’s difficult habits as a guest—the word “nuisance” being mentioned—and this had so plunged Coleridge in grief that he left Soho for Hammersmith, where his friends the Morgans were living. Montagu’s indiscretion led to a quarrel between Coleridge and Wordsworth which was long of healing. This is no place in which to tell the story, which has small part in Lamb’s life; but it led to one of the few letters from Coleridge to Lamb that have been preserved (see Mr. E. H. Coleridge’s edition of Coleridge’s Letters, page 586).

Carlisle was Sir Anthony Carlisle (1768-1840), the surgeon and a friend of Lamb.


“The Spanish lady”—Madam Lavaggi. See Robinson’s Diary, 1869, Vol. I., page 303.

“Phillips.” This would be Ned Phillips, I presume, not the Colonel. I have not discovered for what post he was trying.

“The little Katherine.” Catherine Wordsworth, born September 6, 1808, lived only until June 4, 1812.

“I have been aquavorous.” Writing to Dorothy Wordsworth on December 23 Crabb Robinson says that Lamb has abstained from alcohol and tobacco since Lord Mayor’s Day (November 9).

“Bacchus ever sleek and young.” After Dryden, “Alexander’s Feast,” III., 2:—
Bacchus ever fair and ever young.

“William Henshaw.” I know nothing more of this unfortunate man.]

[p.m. Nov. 23, 1810.]

MY dear Friend, Miss Monkhouse left town yesterday, but I think I am able to answer all your enquiries. I saw her on Sunday evening at Mrs. Montagu’s. She looked very well & said her health was greatly improved. She promised to call on me before she left town but the weather having been very bad I suppose has prevented her. She received the letter which came through my brother’s hands and I have learned from Mrs. Montagu that all your commissions are executed. It was Carlisle that she consulted, and she is to continue taking his prescriptions in the country. Mr. Monkhouse & Mr. Addison drank tea with us one evening last week. Miss Monkhouse is a very pleasing girl, she reminds me, a little, of Miss Hutchinson. I have not seen Henry Robinson for some days past, but I remember he told me he had received a letter from you, and he talked of Spanish papers which he should send to Mr. Southey. I wonder he does not write, for I have always understood him to be a very regular correspondent, and he seemed very proud of your letter. I am tolerably well, but I still affect the invalid—take medicines, and keep at home as much as I possibly can. Water-drinking, though I confess it to be a flat thing, is become very easy to me. Charles perseveres in it most manfully. Coleridge is just in the same state as when I wrote last—I have not seen him since Sunday, he was then at Mr. Morgan’s but talked of taking a lodging.


Phillips feels a certainty that he shall lose his election, for the new candidate is himself a Fellow of the Royal Society, and [it] is thought Sir Joseph Banks will favour him. It will now be soon decided.

My new maid is now sick in bed. Am I not unlucky? She would have suited me very well if she had been healthy, but I must send her away if she is not better tomorrow.

Charles promised to add a few lines, I will therefore leave him plenty of room, for he may perhaps think of something to entertain you. I am sure I cannot.

I hope you will not return to Grasmere till all fear of the Scarlet Fever is over, I rejoice to hear so good an account of the children and hope you will write often. When I write next 1 will endeavour to get a frank. This I cannot do but when the parliament is sitting, and as you seemed anxious about Miss Monkhouse I would not defer sending this, though otherwise it is not worth paying one penny for.

God bless you all.

Yours affectionately
M. Lamb.
LETTER 186 (continued).
[Charles Lamb adds:—]

We are in a pickle. Mary from her affectation of physiognomy has hired a stupid big country wench who looked honest, as she thought, and has been doing her work some days but without eating—eats no butter nor meat, but prefers cheese with her tea for breakfast—and now it comes out that she was ill when she came with lifting her mother about (who is now with God) when she was dying, and with riding up from Norfolk 4 days and nights in the waggon. She got advice yesterday and took something which has made her bring up a quart of blood, and she now lies, a dead weight upon our humanity, in her bed, incapable of getting up, refusing to go into an hospital, having no body in town but a poor asthmatic dying Uncle, whose son lately married a drab who tills his house, and there is no where she can go, and she seems to have made up her mind to take her flight to heaven from our bed.—O God! O God!—for the little wheelbarrow which trundled the Hunchback from door to door to try the various charities of different professions of Mankind!

Here’s her Uncle just crawled up, he is far liker Death than He. O the Parish, the Parish, the hospital, the infirmary, the charnel house, these are places meet for such guests, not our quiet mansion
where nothing but affluent plenty and literary ease should abound.—Howard’s House, Howard’s House, or where the Parylitic descended thro’ the sky-light (what a God’s Gift) to get at our Savior. In this perplexity such topics as Spanish papers and Monkhouses sink into comparative insignificance. What shall we do?—If she died, it were something: gladly would I pay the coffin maker and the bellman and searchers—O Christ.

C. L.

[Miss Monkhouse was the daughter of the Wordsworths’ and Lambs’ friend, Thomas Monkhouse.

“Mr. Addison.” I have not traced this gentleman.

Miss Hutchinson was Sarah Hutchinson, sister of Mrs. Wordsworth.

“The Hunchback.” In the Arabian Nights.

“Howard’s House.” This would be Cold-Bath Fields Prison, erected in 1794 upon some humane suggestions of Howard the Philanthropist.

“The Paralytic.” See Mark ii.]

Wednesday, November 28, 1810.

DEAR Hazlitt—I sent you on Saturday a Cobbett, containing your reply to the Edinburgh Review, which I thought you would be glad to receive as an example of attention on the part of Mr. Cobbett to insert it so speedily. Did you get it? We have received your pig, and return you thanks; it will be dressed in due form, with appropriate sauce, this day. Mary has been very ill indeed since you saw her; that is, as ill as she can be to remain at home. But she is a good deal better now, owing to a very careful regimen. She drinks nothing but water, and never goes out; she does not even go to the Captain’s. Her indisposition has been ever since that night you left town; the night Miss W[ordsworth] came. Her coming, and that d——d Mrs. Godwin coming and staying so late that night, so overset her that she lay broad awake all that night, and it was by a miracle that she escaped a very bad illness, which I thoroughly expected. I have made up my mind that she shall never have any one in the house again with her, and that no one shall sleep with her, not even for a night; for it is a very serious
thing to be always living with a kind of fever upon her; and therefore I am sure you will take it in good part if I say that if
Mrs. Hazlitt comes to town at any time, however glad we shall be to see her in the daytime, I cannot ask her to spend a night under our roof. Some decision we must come to, for the harassing fever that we have both been in, owing to Miss Wordsworth’s coming, is not to be borne; and I would rather be dead than so alive. However, at present, owing to a regimen and medicines which Tuthill has given her, who very kindly volunteer’d the care of her, she is a great deal quieter, though too much harassed by company, who cannot or will not see how late hours and society teaze her.

Poor Phillips had the cup dash’d out of his lips as it were. He had every prospect of the situation, when about ten days since one of the council of the R. Society started for the place himself, being a rich merchant who lately failed, and he will certainly be elected on Friday next. P. is very sore and miserable about it.

Coleridge is in town, or at least at Hammersmith. He is writing or going to write in the Courier against Cobbett, and in favour of paper money.

No news. Remember me kindly to Sarah. I write from the office.

Yours ever,

C. Lamb.

I just open’d it to say the pig, upon proof, hath turned out as good as I predicted. My fauces yet retain the sweet porcine odour. I find you have received the Cobbett. I think your paper complete.

Mrs. Reynolds, who is a sage woman, approves of the pig.


[“A Cobbett.” This was Cobbett’s Political Register for November 24, 1810, containing Hazlitt’s letter upon “Mr. Malthus and the Edinburgh Reviewers,” signed “The Author of a Reply to the Essay on Population.” Hazlitt’s reply had been criticised in the Edinburgh for August, probably only just published.

The postscript contains Lamb’s first passage in praise of roast pig.

I place here the following undated letter to Godwin from Mr. Kegan Paul’s William Godwin: His Friends and Contemporaries, as it seems to be connected with the decision concerning visitors expressed in the letter to Hazlitt:—]


DEAR Godwin,—I have found it for several reasons indispensable to my comfort, and to my sister’s, to have no visitors in the forenoon. If I cannot accomplish this I am determined to leave town.


I am extremely sorry to do anything in the slightest degree that may seem offensive to you or to Mrs. Godwin, but when a general rule is fixed on, you know how odious in a case of this sort it is to make exceptions; I assure you I have given up more than one friendship in stickling for this point. It would be unfair to those from whom 1 have parted with regret to make exceptions, which I would not do for them. Let me request you not to be offended, and to request Mrs. G. not to be offended, if I beg both your compliances with this wish. Your friendship is as dear to me as that of any person on earth, and if it were not for the necessity of keeping tranquillity at home, I would not seem so unreasonable.

If you were to see the agitation that my sister is in, between the fear of offending you and Mrs. G. and the difficulty of maintaining a system which she feels we must do to live without wretchedness, you would excuse this seeming strange request, which I send you with a trembling anxiety as to its reception with you, whom I would never offend. I rely on your goodness.

C. Lamb.