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Memoirs of William Hazlitt
Ch. IV 1822
Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, Journal; 22 April-22 May 1822

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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Monday, 22nd [April] Mr. Bell called about twelve, and I went with him to Mr. Cranstoun, the barrister, to consult him on the practicability and safety of procuring a divorce, and informed him that my friends in England had rather alarmed me by asserting that, if I took the oath of calumny, and swore that there was no collusion between Mr. Hazlitt and myself to procure the divorce, I should be liable to a prosecu-
tion and transportation for perjury. Mr. Hazlitt having certainly told me that he should never live with me again, and as my situation must have long been uncomfortable, he thought for both our sakes it would be better to obtain a divorce, and put an end to it

Tuesday, 23rd.—Consulted Mr. Gray [a solicitor]. . . . . The case must be submitted to the procurators to decide whether I may be admitted to the oath of calumny. If they agree to it, the oath to be administered, then Mr. Hazlitt to be cited in answer to the charge, and if not defended [I told him I was sure Mr. Hazlitt had no such intention, as he was quite as desirous of obtaining the divorce as me], he said then, if no demur or difficulty arose about proofs, the cause would probably occupy two months, and cost 50l., but that I should have to send to England for the testimony of two witnesses who were present at the marriage, and also to testify that we acknowledged each other as husband and wife, and were so esteemed by our friends, neighbours, acquaintances, &c. He said it was fortunate that Mr. and Mrs. Bell were here to bear testimony to the latter part. And that I must also procure a certificate of my marriage from St. Andrew’s Church, Holborn. I took the questions which Mr. Gray wrote . . . . . to Mr. Bell, who added a note, and I put it in the penny post. Sent also the paper signed by Mr. Hazlitt securing the reversion of my money to the child, which Mr. Bell had given me, by the mail to Coulson, requesting him to get it properly stamped and return it to me, together with the certificate of my marriage. . . . .


Thursday, 25th April [1822].—Mr. Bell called to ask if he could be of any assistance to me. I had just sent a note to Mr. Hazlitt to say that I demurred to the oath, so there was no occasion to trouble Mr. Bell. In the afternoon Mr. Ritchie, of the Scotsman newspaper, called to beg me, as a friend to both (I had never seen or heard of him before), to proceed in the divorce, and relieve all parties from an unpleasant situation. Said that with my appearance it was highly probable that I might marry again, and meet with a person more congenial to me than Mr. Hazlitt had unfortunately proved. That Mr. Hazlitt was in such a state of nervous irritability that he could not work or apply to anything, and that he thought that he would not live very long if he was not easier in his mind. I told him I did not myself think that he would survive me. . . . . In the evening Mr. Bell called. . . . . I then told him of Mr. Ritchie’s visit, at which he seemed much surprised, and said if Mr. Hazlitt had sent him, as I supposed, he acted with great want of judgment and prudence. . . . .

Saturday, 11th April.—Gave Mr. Bell the stamp for the 50l. bill, and the following paper of memorandum for Mr. Hazlitt to sign:—

“1. William Hazlitt to pay the whole expense of board, clothing, and education, for his son, William Hazlitt, by his wife, Sarah Hazlitt (late Stoddart), and she to be allowed free access to him at all times, and occasional visits from him.

“2. William Hazlitt to pay board, lodging, law, and all other expenses incurred by his said wife during her
stay in Scotland on this divorce business, together with travelling expenses.

“3. William Hazlitt to give a note-of-hand for fifty pounds at six months, payable to William Netherfold or order. Value Received.”

Mr. Bell said he would go that day to Mr. Gray then go on to Mr. Hazlitt’s, and call on me afterwards; but I saw no more of him.

Sunday, 28th April, 1822—Wrote to Mr. Hazlitt to inform him I had only between five and six pounds of my quarter’s money left, and therefore, if he did not send me some immediately, and fulfil his agreement for the rest, I should be obliged to return on Tuesday, while I had enough to take me back. Sent the letter by a laddie. Called on Mr. Bell, who said that Mr. Gray was not at home when he called, but that he had seen his son, and appointed to be with him at ten o’clock on Monday morning. Told me that Mr. Hazlitt said he would give the draft to fifty pounds at three months instead of six, when the proceedings had commenced (meaning, I suppose, when the oath was taken, for they had already commenced) but would do nothing before. Told me he was gone to Lanark, but would be back on Monday morning. . . . .

Tuesday, 30th April.—Went to Mr. Bell after dinner, who did not know whether Mr. Hazlitt was returned or not. . . . . In the evening, after some hesitation, went to Mr. Hazlitt myself for an answer. He told me he expected thirty pounds from Colburn on Thursday, and then he would let me have five pounds for present
expenses; that he had but one pound in his pocket, but if I wanted it, I should have that. That he was going to give two lectures at Glasgow next week, for which he was to have 100l., and he had eighty pounds beside to receive for the ‘
Table Talk’ in a fortnight, out of which sums he pledged himself to fulfil his engagements relative to my expenses: and also to make me a handsome present, when it was over (20l.), as I seemed to love money. Or it would enable me to travel back by land, as I said I should prefer seeing something of the country to going back in the steamboat, which he proposed. Said he would give the note-of-hand for fifty pounds to Mr. Ritchie for me, payable to whoever I pleased: if he could conveniently at the time, it should be for three months instead of six, but he was not certain of that. . . . . Inquired if I had taken the oath. I told him I only waited a summons from Mr. Gray, if I could depend upon the money, but I could not live in a strange place without: and I had no friends or means of earning money here as he had; though, as I had still four pounds, I could wait a few days. I asked him how the expenses, or my draught, were to be paid, if he went abroad, and he answered that, if he succeeded in the divorce, he should be easy in his mind, and able to work, and then he should probably be back in three months; but otherwise, he might leave England for ever. He said that as soon as I had got him to sign a paper giving away a 150l. a year from himself, I talked of going back, and leaving everything. . . I told him to recollect that it
was no advantage for myself that I sought . . . it was only to secure something to his child as well as mine. He said he could do very well for the child himself; and that he was allowed to be a very indulgent, kind father—some people thought too much so. I said I did not dispute his fondness for him, but I must observe that though he got a great deal of money, he never saved or had any by him, or was likely to make much provision for the child; neither could I think it was proper, or for his welfare that he should take him to the Fives Court, and such places . . . . it was likely to corrupt and vitiate him. . . . He said perhaps it was wrong, but that he did not know that it was any good to bring up children in ignorance of the world. . . . He said I had always despised him and his abilities. . . . He said that a paper had been brought to him from Mr. Gray that day, but that he was only just come in from Lanark, after walking thirty miles, and was getting his tea. . . . .

Thursday, 2nd May [1822].—Mr. Bell called to say Mr. Hazlitt would sign the papers to-morrow and leave [them] in his hand. And that he should bring me the first five pounds. When he was gone, I wrote to Mr. Hazlitt, requesting him to leave the papers in Mr. Ritchie’s hands, as he had before proposed.

Friday, 3rd May.—Received the certificate of my marriage, and the stamped paper transferring my money to the child after my death, from Coulson, the carriage of which cost seven shillings. Called on Mr. Gray, who said, on my asking him when my presence would
be necessary in the business, that he should not call on me till this day three weeks. . . . .

Saturday, 4th May, 1822.—Mr. Ritchie called, and gave me 4l, said Mr. Hazlitt could not spare more then, as he was just setting off for Glasgow

Tuesday, 7th May.—Wrote to my little son

Tuesday, 21st May.—Wrote to Mr. Hazlitt for money. The note was returned with a message that he was gone to London, and would not be back for a fortnight.

Wednesday, 22nd.—Called on Mr. Ritchie to inquire what I was to do for money, as Mr. Hazlitt had gone off without sending me any: he seemed surprised to hear he was in London, but conjectured he was gone about the publication of his book, took his address, and said he would write to him in the evening.