“Mary Hazlitt"-the daughter of John Hazlitt, the essayist’s brother.
“I am pleased that H. liked my letter to the Laureate.” Hazlitt wrote, in the essay “On the Pleasures of Hating,” “I think I must be friends with Lamb again, since he has written that magnanimous Letter to Southey, and told him a piece of his mind!” Coleridge also approved of it, and Crabb Robinson’s praise was excessive.
Here should come a note from Lamb to Mrs. Shelley dated Nov. 12, 1823, saying that Dyer walked into the New River on Sunday week at one o’clock with his eyes open.]
CHARLES LAMB TO ROBERT SOUTHEY
E.I.H., 21st November, 1823.
DEAR Southey,-The kindness of your note has melted away the mist which was upon me. I have been fighting against a shadow. That accursed “Quarterly Review” had vexed me by a gratuitous speaking, of its own knowledge, that the “Confessions of a Drunkard” was a genuine description of the state of the writer. Little things, that are not ill meant, may produce much ill. That might have injured me alive and dead. I am in a public office, and my life is insured. I was prepared for anger, and I thought I saw, in a few obnoxious words, a hard case of repetition directed against me. I wished both magazine and review at the bottom of the sea. I shall be ashamed to see you, and my sister (though innocent) will be still more so; for the folly was done without her knowledge, and has made her uneasy ever since. My guardian angel was absent at that time.
I will muster up courage to see you, however, any day next week (Wednesday excepted). We shall hope that you will bring Edith with you. That will be a second mortification. She will hate to see us; but come and heap embers. We deserve it, I for what I’ve done, and she for being my sister.
Do come early in the day, by sun-light, that you may see my Milton.
I am at Colebrook Cottage, Colebrook Row, Islington. A detached whitish house, close to the New River, end of Colebrook Terrace, left hand from Sadler’s Wells.
Will you let me know the day before?
Your penitent C. LAMB.
P.S.—I do not think your handwriting at all like Hunt’s. I do not think many things I did think.
[For the right appreciation of this letter Elia’s Letter to Southey must be read (see Vol. I. of the present edition). It was hard hitting, and though Lamb would perhaps have been wiser had he held his hand, yet Southey had taken an offensive line of moral superiority and rebuke, and much that was said by Lamb was justified.
Southey’s reply ran thus:—
My Dear Lamb—On
Monday I saw your letter in the London Magazine,
which I had not before had an opportunity of seeing, and I now take
the first interval of leisure for replying to it.