Prominent Sisters: Mary Lamb, Dorothy Wordsworth, and Sarah Disraeli

By Michael Polowetzky | Go to book overview

This is the last letter written by Mary Lamb that is known to exist. She died peacefully in her bed on 20 May 1847, at the age of eighty-three.91 Having survived not only her brother, but also Coleridge, Byron, Keats, Shelley, and Blake, she had outlived all the major figures of the British Romantic Age except the Wordsworths. Her passing almost symbolized the passing of an era.

Mary was buried next to her brother in Edmonton churchyard on May 28. The funeral was a small, solemn affair, most of those who might have attended having already preceded her to the grave. No one questioned why Dorothy Wordsworth was absent; she would not have understood what was happening anyway. Like her friend, she had long been rendered mentally incapacitated, in her case from arteriosclerosis. Among those who did attend the ceremony, only Edward Moxon and Henry Crabb Robinson could say they knew Mary intimately. And yet amid his sadness, the diarist noted, there was also a feeling of relief, if not exactly happiness. Liberated now from her many sufferings, Mary could once more join her brother. As they stood together in life, so now they could stand together in history.


NOTES: PART ONE
1.
Percy Fitzgerald, ed. The Life, Letters and Writings of Charles Lamb ( London: Constable, 1875), vol. 1, 78.
2.
Edward V. Lucas, The Life of Charles Lamb ( New York: Putnam's, 1905), vol. 1, 4.
6.
William Carew Hazlitt, The Lambs ( London: Matthews, 1897), 16.
7.
Lucas, The Life, 55-56.
8.
Charles and Mary Lamb, The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. E. V. Lucas ( London: Methuen, 1904), vol. 3, 306.
12.
Barry Cornwall ( Bryan Waller Procter), Charles Lamb: A Memoir ( London: Moxon, 1876), 33.
13.
Hazlitt, The Lambs, xii.
14.
Charles and Mary Lamb, The Complete Letters of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. E. V. Lucas ( London: Methuen, 1935), vol. 1, 39-40.
15.
London Morning Chronicle, 26 September 1796.
16.
Charles Lamb, The Selected Letters of Charles Lamb, ed. T. S. Matthews ( New York: Farrar, Strauss and Cudahy), 1956, 13.
17.
Lamb, Complete Letters, 47.
20.
Lucas, The Life, 159.

-44-

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