LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Sarah Hutchinson, 25 April 1823

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[p.m. April 25, 1823.]

DEAR Miss H——, Mary has such an invincible reluctance to any epistolary exertion, that I am sparing her a mortification by taking the pen from her. The plain truth is, she writes such a pimping, mean, detestable hand, that she is ashamed of the formation of her letters. There is an essential poverty and abjectness in the frame of them. They look like begging letters. And then she is sure to omit a most substantial word in the second draught (for she never ventures an epistle without a foul copy first) which is obliged to be interlined, which spoils the neatest epistle, you know [the word “epistle” is underlined]. Her figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., where she has occasion to express numerals, as in the date (25 Apr 1823), are not figures, but Figurantes. And the combined posse go staggering up and down shameless as drunkards in the day time. It is no better when she rules her paper, her lines are “not less erring” than her words—a sort of unnatural parallel lines, that are perpetually threatening to meet, which you know is quite contrary to Euclid [here Lamb has ruled lines grossly unparallel]. Her very blots are not bold like this [here a bold blot], but poor smears [here a poor smear] half left in and half scratched out with another smear left in their place. I like a clean letter, A bold free hand, and a
fearless flourish. Then she has always to go thro’ them (a second operation) to dot her is, and cross her ts. I don’t think she can make a cork screw, if she tried—which has such a fine effect at the end or middle of an epistle—and fills up—

[Here Lamb has made a corkscrew two inches long (see facsimile).]

There is a corkscrew, one of the best I ever drew. By the way what incomparable whiskey that was of Monkhouse’s. But if I am to write a letter, let me begin, and not stand flourishing like a fencer at a fair.

It gives me great pleasure (the letter now begins) to hear that you got down smoothly, and that Mrs. Monkhouse’s spirits are so good and enterprising. It shews, whatever her posture may be, that her mind at least is not supine. I hope the excursion will enable the former to keep pace with its out-stripping neighbor. Pray present our kindest wishes to her, and all. (That sentence should properly have come in the Post Script, but we airy Mercurial Spirits, there is no keeping us in). Time—as was said of one of us—toils after us in vain. I am afraid our co-visit with Coleridge was a dream. I shall not get away before the end (or middle) of June, and then you will be frog-hopping at Boulogne. And besides I think the Gilmans would scarce trust him with us, I have a malicious knack at cutting of apron strings. The Saints’ days you speak of have long since fled to heaven, with Astræa, and the cold piety of the age lacks fervor to recall them—only Peter left his key—the iron one of the two, that shuts amain—and that’s the reason I am lockd up. Meanwhile of afternoons we pick up primroses at Dalston, and Mary corrects me when I call ’em cowslips. God bless you all, and pray remember me euphoneously to Mr. Gnwellegan. That Lee Priory must be a dainty bower, is it built of flints, and does it stand at Kingsgate? Did you remem

[This is apparently the proper end of the letter. At least there is no indication of another sheet.]