By Mary Isabella Lamb meant Mary Sabilla Novello, Vincent Novello’s wife. The eldest girl was Mary Victoria, afterwards the wife of Charles Cowden Clarke, the Mr. Clark mentioned here. Novello (now living at Shackleford Green) remained a good Roman Catholic to the end. Holmes was Edward Holmes (1797-1859), a pupil of Cowden Clarke’s father at Enfield and schoolfellow of Keats. He had lived with the Novellos, studying music, and later became a musical writer and teacher and the biographer of Mozart.
Mrs. Barron Field was a Miss Jane Carncroft, to whom Lamb addressed some album verses (see Vol. IV. of this edition). Leigh Hunt knew of Field’s return, for he had contributed to the New Monthly earlier in the year a rhymed letter to him in which he welcomed him home again.
Irving was Edward Irving (1792-1834), afterwards the founder of the Catholic Apostolic sect, then drawing people to the chapel in Hatton Garden, attached to the Caledonian Asylum. The dedication, to which Lamb alludes more than once in his correspondence, was that of his work, For Missionaries after the Apostolical School, a series of orations in four parts, ... 1825. It runs:—
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, ESQ.
MY DEAR AND HONOURED FRIEND,
Unknown as you are, in the true character either of your mind or of your heart, to the greater part of your countrymen, and misrepresented as your works have been, by those who have the ear of the vulgar, it will seem wonderful to many that I should make choice of you, from the circle of my friends, to dedicate to you these beginnings of my thoughts upon the most important subject of these or any times. And when I state the reason to be, that you have been more profitable to my faith in orthodox doctrine, to my spiritual understanding of the Word of God, and to my right conception of the Christian Church, than any or all of the men with whom I have entertained friendship and conversation, it will perhaps still more astonish the mind, and stagger the belief, of those who have adopted, as once I did myself, the misrepresentations which are purchased for a hire and vended for a price, concerning your character and works. You have only to shut your ear to what they ignorantly say of you, and earnestly to meditate the deep thoughts with which you are instinct, and give them a suitable body and form that they may live, then silently commit them to the good sense of ages yet to come, in order to be ranked hereafter amongst the most gifted sages and greatest benefactors of your country. Enjoy and occupy the quiet which, after many trials, the providence of God hath bestowed upon you, in the bosom of your friends; and may you be spared until you have made known the multitude of your thoughts, unto those who at present value, or shall hereafter arise to value, their worth.