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Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. IX
Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart [Hazlitt] [20 February 1806]

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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[February 17-22,1806.]
“My dear Sarah,

“. . . . I am going to make a sort of promise to myself and to you, that I will write you kind of journal-like letters of the daily what-we-do matters, as they occur. This day seems to me like a new era in our time. It is not a birthday, nor a new year’s day, nor a leave-off-something day; but it is about an hour after the time of leaving you, our poor Phœnix, in the Salisbury stage. . . . Writing plays, novels, poems, and all such kind of vapouring and impossible schemes are floating in my head, which at the same time aches with the thought of parting from you, and is perplexed at the idea of I cannot-tell-what-about notion that I have not made you half so comfortable as I ought to have done, and a melancholy sense of the dull prospect you have before you on your return home; then I think I will make my new gown, and now I consider the white petticoat will be better candle-light worth. . . . .

“So much for an account of my own confused head, and now for yours. Returning home from the Inn, we took that to pieces, and ca[n]vassed you as you know is our usual custom. We agreed we should miss you sadly, and that you had been what you yourself discovered, not at all in our way; and although if the post-
master should happen to open this, it would appear to him to be no great compliment; yet you, who enter so warmly into the interior of our affairs, will understand and value it, as well as what we likewise asserted, that since you have been with us you have done but one foolish thing, vide Pinckhorn (excuse my bad Latin if it should chance to mean exactly contrary to what I intend). We praised you for the very friendly way in which you regarded all our whimsies, and, to use a phrase of
Coleridge’s, understood us. We had, in short, no drawback on our eulogy on your merit except lamenting the want of respect you have to yourself—the want of a certain dignity of action, you know what I mean, which, though it only broke out in the acceptance of the old justice’s book, and was, as it were, smothered and almost extinct, while you were here; yet is it so native a feeling in your mind, that you will do whatever the present moment prompts you to do, that I wish you would take that one slight offence seriously to heart, and make it a part of your daily consideration to drive this unlucky propensity, root and branch, out of your character. Then, mercy on us, what a perfect little gentlewoman you will be!!!

“You are not yet arrived at the first stage of your journey, yet have I the sense of your absence so strong upon me, that I was really thinking what news I had to send you, and what had happened since you had left us. Truly nothing, except that Martin Burney met us in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and borrowed fourpence, of the repayment of which sum I will send you due notice.


“Friday [Feb. 20, 1806]. Last night I told Charles of your matrimonial overtures from Mr. White, and of the cause of that business being at a standstill. . . .

“He wishes you success, and when Coleridge comes, will consult with him about what is best to be done. But I charge you, be most strictly cautious how you proceed yourself. Do not give Mr. W. any reason to think you indiscreet; let him return of his own accord, and keep the probability of his doing so full in your own mind; so I mean as to regulate your whole conduct by that expectation. Do not allow yourself to see, or in any way renew your acquaintance with William, nor do not do any other silly thing of that kind; for you may depend upon it he will be a kind of spy upon you, and if he observes nothing that he disapproves of, you will certainly hear of him again in time.*

“Feb. 21. I have received your letter, and am happy to hear that your mother has been so well in your absence, which I wish had been prolonged a little, for you have been wanted to copy out the farce, in the writing of which I made many an unlucky blunder. . . . I wish you had [been with] us to have given your opinion. I have half a mind to write another copy and send it to you. . . . .

“I miss you sadly, and but for the fidget I have been in about the farce I should have missed you still more. I do not mind being called Widow Blackacre. . . .

“Say all in your mind about your lover now Charles knows of it; he will be as anxious to hear as me. All

* These italics are mine.

the time we can spare from talking of the characters and plot of the farce, we talk of you. I have got a fresh bottle of brandy to-day: if you were here you should have a glass, three parts brandy, so you should. . . . Charles does not send his love, because he is not here.

“Yours affectionately,
“M. Lamb.
“Miss Stoddart, Winterslow, near Salisbury.
“5s. 1d. paid.”