Here should come a letter from Lamb to Hone, dated May 19, 1823. William Hone (1780-1842), who then, his stormy political days over, was publishing antiquarian works on Ludgate Hill, had sent Lamb his Ancient Mysteries Described, 1823. Lamb thanks him for it, and invites him to 14 Kingsland Row, Dalston, the next Sunday: “We dine exactly at 4.”]
MARY LAMB TO MRS. RANDAL NORRIS
Hastings, at Mrs. Gibbs, York Cottage, Priory, No. 4. [June 18, 1823.]
My dear Friend,—Day after day has passed away, and my brother has said, “I will write to Mrs. [? Mr.] Norris to-morrow,” and therefore I am resolved to write to Mrs. Norris to-day, and trust him no longer. We took our places for Sevenoaks, intending to remain there all night in order to see Knole, but when we got there we chang’d our minds, and went on to Tunbridge Wells. About a mile short of the Wells the coach stopped at a little inn, and I saw, “Lodgings to let” on a little, very little house opposite. I ran over the way, and secured them before the coach drove away, and we took immediate possession: it proved a very comfortable place, and we remained there nine days. The first evening, as we were wandering about, we met a lady, the wife of one of the India House clerks, with whom we had been slightly acquainted some years ago, which slight acquaintance has been ripened into a great intimacy during the nine pleasant days that we passed at the Wells. She and her two daughters went with us in an open chaise to Knole, and as the chaise held only five, we mounted Miss James upon a little horse, which she rode famously. I was very much pleased with Knole, and still more with Penshurst, which we also visited. We saw Frant and the Rocks, and made much use of your Guide Book, only Charles lost his way once going by the map. We were in constant exercise the whole time, and spent our time so pleasantly that when we came here on Monday we missed our new friends and found ourselves very dull. We are by the seaside in a still less house, and we have exchanged a very pretty landlady for a very ugly one, but she is equally attractive to us. We eat turbot, and we drink smuggled Hollands, and we walk up hill and down hill all day long. In the little intervals of rest that we allow ourselves I teach Miss James French; she picked up a few words during her foreign Tour with us, and she has had a hankering after it ever since.
We came from Tunbridge Wells in a Postchaise, and would have seen Battle Abbey on the way, but it is only shewn on a Monday. We are trying to coax Charles into a Monday’s excursion. And Bexhill we are also thinking about. Yesterday evening we found out by chance the most beautiful view I ever saw. It is called “The Lovers’ Seat."... You have been here, therefore you must have seen [it, or] is it only Mr. and Mrs. Faint who have visited Hastings? [Tell Mrs.] Faint that though in my haste to get housed I d[ecided on] ... ice’s lodgings, yet it comforted all th ... to know that I had a place in view.