I suppose you are so busy that it is not fair to ask you to write me a line to say how you are going on. Yet if any one of you have half an hour to spare for that purpose, it will be most thankfully received. Charles joins with me in love to you all together, and to each one in particular upstairs and downstairs.
Yours most affectionately, M. LAMB. June 18
[Mr. Hazlitt dates this letter 1825 or 1826, and considers it to refer to a second visit to Hastings; but I think most probably it refers to the 1823 visit, especially as the Lovers’ Seat would assuredly have been discovered then. Miss James was Mary Lamb’s nurse. Mrs. Randal Norris had been a Miss Faint.
There is a curious similarity between a passage in this letter and in one of Byron’s, written in 1814: “I have been swimming, and eating turbot, and smuggling neat brandies, and silk handkerchiefs ... and walking on cliffs and tumbling down hills.”
A Hastings guide book for 1825 gives Mrs. Gibbs’ address as 4 York Cottages, near Priory Bridge. Near by, in Pelham Place, a Mr. Hogsflesh had a lodging-house.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[P.M. 10 July, 1823.]
Dear Sir—I shall be happy to read the MS.
and to forward it; but T. and
H. must judge for themselves of publication. If it prove interesting (as
I doubt not) I shall not spare to say so, you may depend upon it.
Suppose you direct it to Acco’ts. Office, India House.
I am glad you have met with some sweetening circumstances to your unpalatable draught. I have just returned from Hastings, where are exquisite views and walks, and where I have given up my soul to walking, and I am now suffering sedentary contrasts. I am a long time reconciling to Town after one of these excursions. Home is become strange, and will remain so yet a while. Home is the most unforgiving of friends and always resents Absence; I know its old cordial looks will return, but they are slow in clearing up. That is one of the features of this our galley slavery, that peregrination ended makes things worse. I felt out of water (with all the sea about me) at Hastings, and just as I had learned to domiciliate there, I must come back to find a home which is no home. I abused Hastings, but learned its value. There are spots, inland bays, etc., which realise the notions of Juan Fernandez.
The best thing I lit upon by accident was a small country church (by whom or when built unknown) standing bare and single in the midst of a grove, with no house or appearance of habitation within a quarter of a mile, only passages diverging from it thro’ beautiful woods to so many farm houses. There it stands, like the first idea of a church, before parishioners were thought of, nothing but birds for its congregation, or like a Hermit’s oratory (the Hermit dead), or a mausoleum, its effect singularly impressive, like a church found in a desert isle to startle Crusoe with a home image; you must make out a vicar and a congregation from fancy, for surely none come there. Yet it wants not its pulpit, and its font, and all the seemly additaments of our worship.