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Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. XII 1808

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
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At Winterslow—Literary disappointments—Domestic troubles—Visitors.

Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt settled for the present at Winterslow, in one of the cottages-which belonged to the latter in the village. It was there, in the early months of his union, that my grandfather wrote his ‘English Grammar,’ founded on an entirely new principle, and intended to supersede Lindley Murray. It was not till 1810, however, that he succeeded in inducing anybody to print it, and it never came to a second edition. ‘Murray’s Grammar’ is still kept in stock; Hazlitt’s is only on the shelves of the curious.

He also prepared for the press an abridgment in English of Bourgoing’sTableau de l’Espagne Moderne,’ which had been published at Paris in 1807, in 3 vols. 8vo., and reproduced in the original language by Stockdale of Piccadilly this year in the same form. But when the work was completed, no publisher could be found to undertake it, and it has remained in MS. ever since. It was more than whispered at the time that the translator had not done himself justice; but the truth may have been, that the interest in the subject, being ephemeral, was exhausted by Stockdale’s French edi-
tion, and that buyers were in such a case apt to be shy of a condensed version, in which they could not be sure what was left out.

So the literary ventures of 1808 were not very happy or inspiring. Of the two enterprises in which he had engaged, one dropped dead from the press, and one never reached it.

Mrs. Hazlitt does not appear to have been so attentive and punctual a correspondent now as Miss Lamb had found her before. As to Hazlitt, he never wrote, if he could help it. The Lambs sometimes heard of them through Dr. Stoddart; but they were desirous, at least one of them was—the bridesmaid, of some real Winterslow news. So, on the 10th December, 1808 (their first winter together in Wiltshire), came the following budget of gossip, and a demand for “as good back.”

“Dec. 10, 1808.
“My dear Sarah,

“I hear of you from your brother, but you do not write yourself, nor does Hazlitt. I beg that one or both of you will amend this fault as speedily as possible, for I am very anxious to hear of your health. . . .

“You cannot think how very much we miss you and H. of a Wednesday evening—all the glory of the night, I may say, is at an end. Phillips makes his jokes, and there is no one to applaud him. Rickman argues, and there is no one to oppose him.

“The worst miss of all to me is that when we are in the dismals, there is now no hope of relief from any quarter whatsoever. Hazlitt was most brilliant, most
ornamental, as a Wednesday-man, but he was a more useful one on common days, when he dropt in after a quarrel, or a fit of the glooms. . . .

Charles is come home, and wants his dinner. . . Tell us how you go on, and how you like Winterslow and winter evenings. . . . John Hazlitt was here on Wednesday, very sober.

“Our love to Hazlitt. . . .

“Yours affectionately,
“M. Lamb.
“Mrs. Hazlitt,
“Winterslow, near Sarum, Wilts.”*

The event to which Miss Lamb was looking forward occurred on Sunday afternoon, January 15, 1809, at a quarter past four o’clock; it was a son; and the parents agreed to call him William. He only lived, however, till the 5th of July in the same year, and was buried on the evening of the 9th, at St. Martin’s churchyard, Salisbury, in the grave of his grandfather Stoddart.

Against this blow they had to set the prospect of seeing the Lambs, and Martin Burney, and Colonel Phillips, down at Winterslow on a visit of a few weeks. Lamb had made up his mind to spend his holydays with them.

“June, 1809.

“‘You may write to Hazlitt that I will certainly go to Winterslow, as my father has agreed to give me 5l.

* The whole of this letter will appear in the forthcoming new edition of the correspondence of Elia; it is not printed faithfully by Talfourd.

to bear my expenses, and has given leave that I may stop till that is spent, leaving enough to defray my carriage on the 15th July.’

“So far Martin has written, but further than that I can give you no intelligence, for I do not yet know Phillips’ intentions, nor can I tell you the exact time when we can come. Nor can I positively say we shall come at all, for we have scruples of conscience about there being so many of us. Martin says if you can borrow a blanket or two, he can sleep on the floor without either bed or mattress, which would save his expenses at the Hut, for if Phillips breakfasts there, he must do so too, which would swallow up all his money. And he and I have calculated that, if he has no inn expenses, he may as well spare that money to give you for a part of his roast beef. We can spare you also just five pounds. You are not to say this to Hazlitt, lest his delicacy should be alarmed; but I tell you what Martin and I have planned, that if you happen to be empty-pursed at this time, you may think it as well to make him up a bed in the best kitchen.

“I think it very probable that Phillips will come, and if you do not like such a crowd of us, for they both talk of staying a whole month, tell me so, and we will put off our visit till next summer.

“The 14th of July is the day when Martin has fixed for coming.

“I should have written before, if I could have got a positive answer from them.

“Thank you very much for the good work you have
done for me.
Mrs. Stoddart also thanks you for the gloves. How often must I tell you never to do any needlework for anybody but me?

Martin Burney has been very ill, and still is very weak and pale. . . . . I cannot write any more, for we have got a noble ‘Life of Lord Nelson’ lent us by our poor relation, the bookbinder, and I want to read as much of it as I can.

“Yours affectionately,
“M. Lamb.

“On reading Martin’s note over again, we guess the Captain means him to stay only a fortnight. It is most likely we shall come the beginning of July.

“Mrs. Hazlitt,
“Winterslow, near Salisbury.”

The expectation disclosed in this very singular letter, which seems to point to a bygone phase of middle class English life, was not exactly fulfilled. The Lambs, in consequence of Miss Lamb falling suddenly ill, and remaining so for several weeks, did not reach Wiltshire till the autumn. Charles and his sister spent the month of October very happily with Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt. Burney and Phillips made their arrangements accordingly, and went down after all, Martin with his five pounds in his pocket, let us hope, to help to pay for Mrs. Hazlitt’s roast beef.

The Lambs, however, enjoyed themselves excessively, by their own subsequent acknowledgment—particularly the evening walks, and the hashed mutton with
Wiltshire mushrooms for supper.* My grandmother’s walking powers were rather too great for
Miss Lamb, however, and Elia must have missed the town which he so loved. My grandfather likens him on this occasion to “the most capricious poet Ovid among the Goths.” “The country people thought him an oddity,” Mr. Hazlitt continues, “and did not understand his jokes. It would be strange if they had, for he did not make any, while he stayed. But when we crossed the country to Oxford, then he spoke a little. He and the old colleges were hail-fellow well met; and in the quadrangles he ‘walked gowned.’”

Lamb has described this visit to Oxford in one of the Essays of Elia. He was accustomed to lament not having gone to one of the universities after leaving Christ’s Hospital.

My grandfather was escort on the occasion, as we know from himself. He says:—

“I once took a party to Oxford with no mean éclat; showed them that seat of the muses at a distance,
With glistening spires and pinnacles adorn’d;
descanted on the learned air that breathes from the grassy quadrangles and stone walls of halls and colleges; was at home in the Bodleian; and at Blenheim quite superseded the powdered Ciceroni that attended us, and that pointed in vain with his wand to commonplace beauties in matchless pictures.

“I remember being much amused with meeting, on a hot dusty day, between Blenheim and Oxford, some

* See vol. ii., p. 229.

strolling Italians with a troop of dancing dogs, and a monkey in costume mounted on the back of one of them. He rode en cavalier, and kept his countenance with great gravity and decorum, and turned round with a certain look of surprise and resentment, that I, a foot passenger, should seem to question his right to go on horseback. This seemed to me a fine piece of practical satire in the manner of

The brother and sister, delighted with their trip, returned home on the 29th or 30th. Lamb found a letter of Coleridge’s waiting for him, dated the 9th of October, and he answered it at once. In it he spoke of what they had been about, and gave the reason for his long silence.

“I have but this moment received your letter, dated the 9th instant, having just come off a journey from Wiltshire, where I have been with Mary on a visit to Hazlitt. The journey has been of infinite service to her. We have had nothing but sunshiny days, and daily walks from eight to twenty miles a-day; have seen Wilton, Salisbury, Stonehenge, &c. Her illness lasted but six weeks; it left her weak, but the country has made us whole.”

Talfourd prints (not correctly) the letter post-marked November 7, 1809, in which Miss Lamb conveyed for them both the feelings with which they looked back, and the pleasure they had had; but I cannot resist a few extracts, as they are so much to the point:—

“The dear, quiet, lazy, delicious month,” she begins, “we spent with you is remembered by me with such
regret, that I feel quite discontent and Winterslow-sick. I assure you I never passed such a pleasant time in the country in my life, both in the house and out of it—the card-playing quarrels, and a few gaspings for breath after your swift footsteps up the high hills excepted, and those drawbacks are not unpleasant in the recollection. We have got some salt butter, to make our toast seem like yours, and we have tried to eat meat suppers, but that would not do, for we left our appetites behind us. . . .

“I carried the baby-caps to Mrs. [John] Hazlitt, she was much pleased, and vastly thankful. Mr. H. got fifty-four guineas at Rochester, and has now several pictures in hand. He has been very disorderly lately. . . .

“We had a good cheerful meeting on Wednesday: much talk of Winterslow, its woods and its nice sunflowers. I did not so much like Phillips at Winterslow, as I now like him for having been with us at Winterslow. . . .

“I continue very well, and return you very sincere thanks for my good health and improved looks, which have almost made Mrs. Godwin die with envy; she longs to come to Winterslow as much as the spiteful elder sister did to go to the well for a gift to spit diamonds. . . .

“Farewell. Love to William, and Charles’s love and good wishes for the speedy arrival of the ‘Life of Holcroft’ and the bearer thereof.

“Yours most affectionately,
“M. Lamb.

Charles told Mrs. Godwin, Hazlitt had found a well in his garden which, water being scarce in your country, would bring him in two hundred a-year, and she came in great haste the next morning to ask me if it were true.

“Mrs. Hazlitt,
“Winterslow, near Salisbury.”

Mrs. Hazlitt miscarried on the 6th March, 1810, and again on the 6th of September, 1810.

Mr. Hazlitt was at this time busy with the ‘Memoir of Holcroft,’ for which the materials had been confided to him for his use. Miss Lamb alluded to it in her last, and does so once more in her next letter to Mrs. Hazlitt.

The well mentioned as having been found in the garden of the cottage was not so productive, unluckily, as Charles gave Mrs. Godwin to understand, for it never yielded a penny to anybody. The proprietor was sometimes in the habit, however, of placing himself behind it, where he could not be seen, and where he could overhear the talk of the Winterslovians; and this was the whole advantage he derived at any stage of his occupancy from the possession of the only well in the hamlet. It happened occasionally that the eavesdropping metaphysician found the germ of some subtle train of thought in the unsophisticated chit-chat of these Arcadians.

The letters from Lamb himself to my grandfather are few in number, but very suggestive in their purport.
They show that
Mr. Hazlitt was still profoundly interested in everything connected with the Fine Arts, though he had ceased to be a servant of that Muse, and that he was observing in his mind’s eye, and hoarding up stores of criticism against the time that his tongue should be loosened.

Talfourd printed the following from the original autograph now before me:—

[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 not 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, Jupiters 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.
“Mr. Hazlitt,
“Winterslow, near Salisbury.”

Mrs. Hazlitt wrote to Miss Lamb to say they were thinking of coming up:—

[Nov. 30, 1810.]
“My dear Sarah,

“I have taken a large sheet of paper, as if I were going to write a long letter; but that is by no means my intention, for I only have time to write three lines to notify what I ought to have done the moment I received your welcome letter, namely, that I shall be very much joyed to see you. Every morning lately I have been expecting to see you drop in, even before your letter came; and I have been setting my wits to work how to make you as comfortable as the nature of our inhospitable habits will admit. I must work while you are here, and I have been trying very hard to get through with something before you come, that I may be quite in the way of it, and not tease you with complaints all day that I do not know what to do.

“I am very sorry to hear of your mischance. . . . The alternating Wednesdays will chop off one day in the week from your jollydays, and I do not know how I
shall make it up to you. But I will contrive the best I can.
Phillips comes again pretty regularly, to the great joy of Mrs. Reynolds. Once more she hears the well-loved sounds of ‘How do you do, Mrs. Reynolds? How does Miss Chambers do?’

“I have drawn out my three lines amazingly. Now for family news. Your brother’s little twins are not dead; but Mrs. John Hazlitt and her baby may be for anything I know to the contrary, for I have not been there for a prodigious long time. Mrs. Holcroft still goes about from Nicholson to Tuthill, from Tuthill to Godwin, and from Godwin to Tuthill, and from Tuthill to Nicholson, to consult on the publication or no publication of the life of the good man her husband. It is called the ‘Life Everlasting.’ How does that same Life go on in your parts?

“Good-bye. God bless you. I shall be glad to see you when you come this way.

“Yours most affectionately,
“M. Lamb.
* * * * * *
“Mrs. Hazlitt, at Mr. Hazlitt’s,
“Winterslow, near Salisbury.”

The ‘Life Everlasting’ was finished this year, so far as it was ever finished (for the fourth volume is still in MS.); but it lay by for a considerable time before Mr. Hazlitt or Mrs. Holcroft succeeded in making terms for its appearance in print. In 1810, the ‘English Grammar,’ completed by its author in 1808, was brought
out by
Godwin in a small duodecimo volume; and the publisher himself produced a condensed version of the book under the title of ‘Outlines of English Grammar.’

The Edinburgh reviewers had taken no notice of the ‘Reply to Malthus,’ now three years old, so far. But in August, 1810, somebody lumped it with another work of a similar cast, and wrote a paper upon the two, passing certain strictures on Mr. Hazlitt’s book. Mr. Hazlitt, who was down at Winterslow when the ‘Review’ for August came out, does not seem to have become immediately aware of the circumstance; but so soon as the article was brought under his notice he prepared an answer, which Cobbett very promptly inserted in his ‘Weekly Register’ for November, 1810.

Lamb sent down to Wiltshire, on the very day it was published, the number of the ‘Register’ containing his friend’s paper, and followed it up four days afterwards with a letter, which is now printed for the first time. It tells a sorry tale of home troubles besides, but alleviated by the receipt and due immolation of a very satisfactory Winterslow pig:—

“Dear Hazlitt,

“I sent you on Saturday a Cobbett, containing your reply to ‘Edin. Rev.,’ 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 drest, 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. came; her coming, and . . . . 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 again in the house 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 coming is not to be borne, and I had rather be dead than so alive. However, at present, owing to a regimen and medicines which Tuthill has given her, who very kindly volunteered 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 tease her.

“Poor Phillips had the cup dashed out of his lips as it were. He had every prospect of the situation, when,
about two 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. Poor 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.
“Wednesday, 28 Nov., 1810.

“I just open 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.

“Mr. Hazlitt,
“Winterslow, near Salisbury, Wilts.”

The Malthusian controversy was not done with till many years after this. I must beg leave to anticipate a little, for the sake of juxtaposition. It happened that in October, 1823, Mr. De Quincey had in the ‘London Magazine’ a paper on this much-vexed question, in which paper he went over ground preoccupied by Mr. Hazlitt, and, in fact, brought forward arguments which Mr. Hazlitt had disposed of as far back as 1807.
So in the next November there was a letter, under the Lion’s Head, from Mr. Hazlitt, pointing out this, to the following effect:—

To the Editor of theLondon Magazine.’

“Will you have the kindness to insert in the Lion’s Head the two following passages from a work of mine published some time since? They exhibit rather a striking coincidence with the reasonings of the ‘Opium-Eater’ in your late number on the discoveries of Mr. Malthus, and as I have been a good deal abused for my scepticism on that subject, I do not feel quite disposed that any one else should run away with the credit of it. I do not wish to bring any charge of plagiarism in this case; I only beg to put in my own claim of priority. The first passage I shall trouble you with relates to tho geometrical and arithmetical series. . . . [Here comes the passage.*] This passage, allowing for the difference of style, accords pretty nearly with the reasoning in the ‘Notes from the Pocket-Book of an Opium-Eater.’ I should really like to know what answer Mr. Malthus has to this objection, if he would deign one—or whether he thinks it best to impose upon the public by his silence? So much for his mathematics: now for his logic, which the Opium-Eater has

* Hazlitt’sPolitical Essays,’ 1819, p. 403; but the article had already appeared in the ‘Reply to Malthus,’ 1807. The passage begins with—“Both the principle of the necessary increase,” &c., down to “his mathematics are altogether spurious.”

also attacked, and with which I long ago stated my dissatisfaction in manner and form following. [Here comes the second quotation.*]

“This, Mr. Editor, is the writer whom ‘our full senate call all-in-all-sufficient.’ There must be a tolerably large bonus offered to men’s interests and prejudices to make them swallow incongruities such as those here alluded to; and I am glad to find that our ingenious and studious friend the Opium-Eater agrees with me on this point too, almost in so many words.

“I am, Sir,
“Your obliged friend and servant,
“W. Hazlitt.”

Then, finally, in December, Mr. De Quincey published a letter in answer to Mr. Hazlitt’s letter; but he virtually admitted the priority, at the same time that he disclaimed any plagiarism or intentional encroachment. Mr. Hazlitt seems to have considered the explanation sufficient, and the matter was suffered to drop. An independent article on Mr. Malthus’sMeasure of Value,’ in the same magazine, but by a person who does not so much as refer to Hazlitt or De Quincey, closed the business finally, I believe, and if so, 1823 saw the discussion set at rest for ever. We, who did not live fifty years ago and wear knee-breeches, had better not get into a way of laughing too heartily or too

* “The most singular thing in this singular performance,” &c., down to “because the scheme itself is impracticable.”—‘Political Essays,’ p. 421.

bitterly (as it may be) at the follies of such as did. They had their crotchets and we have ours. We may be more nearly quits than is generally supposed.

So far my grandfather’s domestic and literary affairs cannot be said to have thriven very conspicuously, notwithstanding that Messrs. Longman’s list announced him even in 1807 to be “a person of eminence.”

He had plenty of leisure at this period of his life, as he had had indeed from his childhood downward. Hitherto he had thought only; or if he had read, he had read little and that little desultorily. But now he began to turn his attention to books more, as things out of which he might make capital; and in these, his early married days, I trace to him Locke’s Essay, Hobbes’sLeviathan,’ Berkeley, Priestley, and other authors of a congenial sort. Perhaps he did not go even to these with the best will possible, for, next to writing, reading up went most against the grain with him. But something had to be done; 120l. or 150l. a year would not keep them as matters stood; and Mrs. Hazlitt was again expecting to present him with an heir.

This addition to their comfort and to their responsibilities arrived on Thursday, the 26th September, 1811, at twenty minutes before four in the morning. Like the first, he was to be named William, after his father and his grandfather.

On the 2nd October came a congratulatory letter from Miss Lamb:—

“2 Oct., 1811. Temple.
“My dear Sarah,

“I have been a long time anxiously expecting the happy news that I have just received. I address you because, as the letter has been lying some days at the India House, I hope you are able to sit up and read my congratulations on the little live boy you have been so many years wishing for. As we old women say, ‘May he live to be a great comfort to you.’ I never knew an event of the kind that gave me so much pleasure as the little, long-looked-for, come-at-last’s arrival; and I rejoice to hear his honour has begun to suck. The word was not distinctly written, and I was a long time making out the wholesome fact. I hope to hear from you soon, for I am anxious to know if your nursing labours are attended with any difficulties. I wish you a happy getting up, and a merry christening.

Charles sends his love, perhaps though he will write a scrap to Hazlitt at the end. He is now looking over me; he is always in my way, for he has had a month’s holiday at home; but I am happy to say they end on Monday, when mine begin, for I am going to pass a week at Richmond with Mrs. Burney. She had been dying; but she went to the Isle of Wight and recovered once more. When there, I intend to read novels and play at piquet all day long.

“Yours truly,
“M. Lamb.”

Charles’s “scrap” was as follows:—

“Dear Hazlitt,

“I cannot help accompanying my sister’s congratulations to Sarah with some of my own to you on this happy occasion of a man child being born.

“Delighted fancy already sees him some future rich alderman or opulent merchant, painting perhaps a little in his leisure hours for amusement, like the late H. Bunbury, Esq.

“Pray, are the Winterslow estates entailed? I am afraid lest the young dog, when he grows up, should cut down the woods, and leave no groves for widows to take their lonesome solace in. The Wem estate of course can only devolve on him, in case of your brother leaving no male issue.

“Well, my blessing and heaven’s be upon him, and make him like his father, with something a better temper and a smoother head of hair; and then all the men and women must love him.

Martin and the card-boys join in congratulations. Love to Sarah. Sorry we are not within caudle-shot.

“C. Lamb*

“If the widow be assistant on this notable occasion, give our due respects and kind remembrances to her.

“Mrs. Hazlitt,
“Winterslow, near Sarum, “Wilts.”

* The C of Lamb’s signature measures one inch and a quarter in length; it slopes very much, or its extreme altitude would be somewhere about two inches. The height of the b is one inch.


I regret to say that this double epistle closes the series, which I hare found of such eminent usefulness. There is a great chasm at 1811, and even when the correspondence recommences, it commences too late, and is too scanty and lukewarm to make it of particular consequence to us in our present object and design.