Mary Lamb (Gilchrist 1883)
Eminent Women Series
EDITED BY JOHN H. INGRAM
W. H. ALLEN & CO., 13 WATERLOO PLACE, S.W.
PRINTED BY W. H. ALLEN & CO., 13 WATERLOO PLACE.
I am indebted to Mrs. Henry Watson, a grand-daughter of Mr. Gillman, for one or two interesting reminiscences, and for a hitherto unpublished "notelet" by Lamb (p. 248), together with an omitted paragraph from a published letter (p. 84), which confirms what other letters also show,—that the temporary estrangement between Lamb and Coleridge was mainly due to the influence of the morbid condition of mind of their common friend, Charles Lloyd.
My thanks are also due to Mr. Potts for some bibliographic details respecting the various editions of the Tales from Shakespeare.
Reprinted here, for the first time, is a little essay on Needle-work (regarded from an industrial, not an "art" point of view), by Mary Lamb (p. 186), unearthed from an obscure and long-deceased periodical—The British Lady's Magazine—for which I have to thank Mr. Edward Solly, F.R.S.
The reader will find, also, the only letter that has been preserved from Coleridge to Lamb, who destroyed all the rest in a moment of depression (pp. 24–6) . This letter is given, without exact date or name of the person to whom it was addressed, in Gillman's unfinished Life of Coleridge, as having been written "to a friend in great anguish of mind on the sudden death of his mother," and has, I believe, never before been identified. But the internal evidence that it was to Lamb is decisive.
In taking Mary as the central figure in the following narrative, woven mainly from her own and her brother's letters and writings, it is to that least explored time, from 1796 to 1815—before they had made the acquaintance of Judge Talfourd, Proctor, Patmore, De Quincey, and other friends, who have left written memorials of them—that we are brought nearest; the period, that is, of Charles' youth and early manhood. For Mary was the elder by ten years; and there is but little to tell of the last twenty of her eighty-three years of life, when the burthen of age was added to that of her sad malady.
The burial-register of St. Andrew's, Holborn, in which church-yard Lamb's father, mother and aunt Hetty were buried, shows that the father survived his wife's tragic death nearly three years instead of only a few months as Talfourd, and others following him, have supposed. It is a date of some interest because not till then did brother and sister begin together their life of "double singleness" and entire mutual devotion. Also, in sifting the letters for facts and dates, I find that Lamb lived in Chapel Street, Pentonville not, as Talfourd and Proctor thought, a few months, but three years, removing thither almost immediately after the mother's death. It is a trifle, yet not without interest to the lovers of Lamb, for these were the years in which he met in his daily walks, and loved but never accosted, the beautiful Quakeress "Hester," whose memory is enshrined in the poem beginning "When Maidens such as Hester die."
Parentage and Childhood
Birth of Charles.—Coleridge.—Domestic Toils and Trials.—Their Tragic Culmination.—Letters to and from Coleridge
Death of Aunt Hetty.—Mary removed from the Asylum.—Charles Lloyd.—A Visit to Nether Stowey, and Introduction to Wordsworth and his Sister.—Anniversary of the Mother's Death.—Mary ill again.—Estrangement between Lamb and Coleridge.—Speedy Reconcilement
Death of the Father.—Mary comes Home to live.—A Removal.—First Verses.—A Literary Tea-Party.—Another Move.—Friends increase
Personal Appearance and Manners.—Health.—Influence of Mary's Illnesses upon her Brother
Visit to Coleridge at Greta Hall.—Wordsworth and his Sister in London.—Letters to Miss Stoddart.—Coleridge goes to Malta.—Letter to Dorothy Wordsworth on the Death of her Brother John
Mary in the Asylum again.—Lamb's Letter with a Poem of hers.—Her slow Recovery.—Letters to Sarah Stoddart.—The Tales from Shakespeare begun.—Hazlitt's Portrait of Lamb.—Sarah's Lovers.—The Farce of Mr. H.
The Tales from Shakespeare.—Letters to Sarah Stoddar
Correspondence with Sarah Stoddart.—Hazlitt.—A Courtship and Wedding at which Mary is Bridesmaid
Mrs. Leicester's School.—A Removal.—Poetry for Children
The Hazlitts again.—Letters to Mrs. Hazlitt.—Two Visits to Winterslow.—Mr. Dawe, R.A.—Birth of Hazlitt's Son.—Death of Holcroft
An Essay on Needle-work
Letters to Miss Betham and her little Sister.—To Wordsworth.—Manning's Return.—Coleridge goes to Highgate.—Letter to Miss Hutchinson on Mary's state.—Removal to Russell Street.—Mary's Letter to Dorothy Wordsworth.—Lodgings at Dalston.—Death of John Lamb and Captain Burney
Hazlitt's Divorce.—Emma Isola.—Mrs. Cowden Clarke's Recollections of Mary.—The Visit to France.—Removal to Colebrook Cottage.—A Dialogue of Reminiscences
Lamb's Ill-health.—Retirement from the India House, and subsequent Illness.—Letter from Mary to Lady Stoddart.—Colebrook Cottage quitted.—Mary's constant Attacks.—A Home given up. Board with the Westwoods.—Death of Hazlitt.—Removal to Edmonton.—Marriage of Emma Isola.—Mary's sudden Recovery.—Ill again.—Death of Coleridge.—Death of Charles.—Mary's Last Days and Death
LIST OF AUTHORITIES.
Life, Letters, and Writings of Charles Lamb. Edited by Percy Fitzgerald, M.A., F.S.A. 1876.
The Works of Charles Lamb. Edited by Charles Kent [in which, for the first time, the dates and original mode of publication were affixed to the Essays, &c.]. 1878.
Poetry for Children, by Charles and Mary Lamb. Edited by Richard Herne Shepherd. 1878.
Mrs. Leicester's School, by Charles and Mary Lamb.
Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb. 1807.
Final Memorials of Charles Lamb, by Talfourd. 1848.
Charles Lamb: A Memoir, by Barry Cornwall. 1866.
Mary and Charles Lamb, by W. Carew Hazlitt. 1874.
My Friends and Acquaintance, by P. G. Patmore. 1854.
Letters, Conversations, and Recollections of Coleridge, by Thomas Allsop. Third edition. 1864.
Early Recollections of Coleridge, by J. Cottle. 1837.
Biographia Literaria, by Coleridge. Second edition. 1847.
Life of Coleridge, by Gillman. Vol. I. 1838.
Memoirs and Letters of Sara Coleridge. Edited by her Daughter. 1873.
Life of Wordsworth, by Rev. Dr. C. Wordsworth. 1851.
A Chronological List of the Writings of Hazlitt and Leigh Hunt, preceded by an Essay on Lamb, and List of his Works, by Alex. Ireland; printed for private circulation. (The copy used contains many MS. additions by the Author.) 1868.
Recollections of Writers, by Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke. 1878.
Six Life Studies of Famous Women, by M. Betham Edwards. 1880.
Diary, Reminiscences, and Correspondence of Henry Crabb-Robinson. Edited by Dr. Sadler. 1869.
Memoir of William Hazlitt, by W. Carew Hazlitt. 1867.
Spirit of the Age. Hazlitt. 1825, 1826.
Autobiographical Sketches. De Quincey. 1863.
Lakes and Lake Poets.