She broke down two benches in Trinity Gardens, one on the confines of St. John’s, which occasioned a litigation between the societies as to repairing it. In warm weather she retires into an ice-cellar (literally!) and dates the returns of the years from a hot Thursday some 20 years back. She sits in a room with opposite doors and windows, to let in a thorough draught, which gives her slenderer friends tooth-aches. She is to be seen in the market every morning at 10, cheapening fowls, which I observe the Cambridge Poulterers are not sufficiently careful to stump.
Having now answered most of the points containd in your Letter, let me end with assuring you of our very best kindness, and excuse Mary from not handling the Pen on this occasion, especially as it has fallen into so much better hands! Will Dr. W. accept of my respects at the end of a foolish Letter.
[Miss Wordsworth was visiting her brother, Christopher Wordsworth, the Master of Trinity.
Willy was William Wordsworth, junr.
Lamb’s New Year speculations were contained in his Elia essay “New Year’s Eve,” in the London Magazine for January, 1821. There is no evidence that Campbell disapproved of the essay. Canon Ainger suggests that Lamb may have thus alluded playfully to the pessimism of his remarks, so opposed to the pleasures of hope. When the Quarterly did “come in,” in 1823, it was with cold words, as we shall see.
“Trinity Library.” It is here that are preserved those MSS. of Milton, which Lamb in his essay “Oxford in the Vacation,” in the London Magazine for October, 1820, says he regrets to have seen.
“Cromwell at Sidney.” See Mary Lamb’s letter to Miss Hutchinson, August 20, 1815.
“Harvey ... at Dr. Davy’s”—Dr. Martin Davy, Master of Caius.
“Alsop.” This is the first mention of Thomas Allsop (1795-1880), Coleridge’s friend and disciple, who, meeting Coleridge in 1818, had just come into Lamb’s circle. We shall meet him frequently. Allsop’s Letters, Conversations and Recollections of Samuel Taylor Coleridge contain much matter concerning Lamb.
“Winter bleak had charms for me.” I could not find this for the large edition. It is from Burns’ “Epistle to William Simpson,” stanza 13.
Mrs. Paris was a sister of William Ayrton and the mother of John Ayrton Paris, the physician. It was at her house at Cambridge that the Lambs met Emma Isola, whom we are soon to meet.
“Mrs. Smith.” Lamb worked up this portion of his letter into the little humorous sketch “The Gentle Giantess,” printed in the London Magazine for December, 1822 (see Vol. I. of the present edition), wherein Mrs. Smith of Cambridge becomes the Widow Blacket of Oxford.
“Dr. W.”—Dr. Christopher Wordsworth.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS ALLSOP