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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Appendix III

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
‣ Appendix III
List of Letters
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Errors of my own and typographical blunders in the previous volumes must be left for correction in a new edition, if that should be called for; but a few omissions may be supplied here and one or two of the major mistakes set right.

I am also able to include some authentic new writings by Lamb and two or three interesting conjectural pieces.


It was wrong to include in this volume the little article on “Samuel Johnson the Whig,” on page 350, first associated with Lamb by J. E. Babson in Eliana. The criticism, although in Lamb’s hand, was merely copied by him from Coleridge. It will be found in Coleridge’s Table Talk.

The little article on “London Fogs,” on page 351, although attributed to Lamb by William Ayrton, is in reality a passage from an essay on the Months by Leigh Hunt in the New Monthly Magazine.

The article on “Shakspeare’s Characters,” on page 367, thought to be Lamb’s by Alexander Ireland, is part of Hazlitt’s essay on “Henry VI.” in the volume called Shakspeare’s Characters, 1817, which (to make my error worse) was dedicated to Lamb.

I am inclined now to doubt if Lamb were the author of the critical note on Gray’s Latin Ode on page 381. Mr. Dobell’s suggestion that Sir Charles Abraham Elton was the author seems to me very reasonable.

The little sketch “A True Story,” on page 329, attributed to Lamb by the editor of The Talisman, 1831, is thought by Mr. Swinburne and others to be Leigh Hunt’s. Leigh Hunt, however, does not seem to have reprinted it; and absolute proof of his authorship not being offered, I should like, I think, to retain it in its present place.

Early Journalism, I

Writing to Rickman about his Morning Post work, in January, 1802, Lamb says that in addition to certain other things it was he who made the Lord Mayor’s bed. The reference is undoubtedly to the following little article on January 4, 1802:—

Grand State Bed

Ever since an account of the Marquis of Exeter’s Grand State Bed appeared in the fashionable world, grandeur in this article of furniture has become quite the rage. Among others the Lord Mayor, feeling for the dignity of the city of London, has petitioned the Corporation for one of great splendour to be placed in the Mansion-house, at the City’s expence.

We have been favoured with a description of this magnificent state bed, the choice of his Lordship. The body is formed by the callipee, or under shell of a large turtle, carved in mahogany, and sufficiently capacious to receive two well-fed people. The callipash, or upper shell, forms the canopy. The posts are four gigantic figures richly gilt: two of them accurate copies of Gog and Magog; the other two represent Sir William Walworth and the last man in armour. Cupids with custards are the supporters. The curtains are of mazarine purple, and curiously wrought with the series of the idle and industrious apprentice from Hogarth, in gold embroidery: but the vallens exceed description; there, the various incidents in the life of Whittington are painted. The mice in one of the compartments are done so much to the life, that his Lordship’s cat, who is an accurate judge of mice, was deceived. The quilt is of fashionable patchwork figures, the description of which we shall not anticipate, as, we understand, Mr. Birch has obtained a sketch of it for his large Twelfth Cake. The whole is worthy of the taste of the first Magistrate of the first City in the world.

Early Journalism, II

On January 6 (Twelfth Night), 1802, the following fable was printed in the Morning Post. That Lamb was the author no one need have any doubt after reading the Elia essay “Rejoicings on the New Year’s Coming of Age”:—

Fable For Twelfth Day

Once upon a high and solemn occasion all the great fasts and festivals in the year presented themselves before the throne of Apollo, God of Days.—Each brought an offering in his hand, as is the custom all over the East, that no man shall appear before the presence of the King empty-handed. Shrove-Tuesday was there with his pan-cakes, and Ash-Wednesday with his oblation of fish. Good Friday brought the mystical bun. Christmas-Day came bending underneath an intolerable load of turkeys and mince-pies, his snow-white temples shaded with holly and the sacred misletoe, and singing a carol as he advanced.
Next came the Thirtieth of January, bearing a calfs-head in a charger; but Apollo no sooner understood the emblematical meaning of the offering, than the stomach of the God turned sick, and with visible indignation and abhorrence he ordered the unfortunate Day out of his presence—the contrite Day returned in a little time, bearing in his hands a Whig (a sort of cake well-tempered and delicious)—the God with smiles accepted the atonement, and the happy Day understood that his peace was made, he promising never to bring such a dish into the presence of a God again. Then came the august Fourth of June, crowned with such a crown as British Monarchs commonly wear, leading into the presence the venerable Nineteenth of MayApollo welcomed the royal pair, and placed them nearest to himself, and welcomed their noble progeny, their eldest-born and heir, the accomplished Twelfth of August, with all his brave brothers and handsome sisters. Only the merry First of April, who is retained in the Court of Apollo as King’s Jester, made some mirth by his reverent inquiries after the health of the Eighteenth of January, who, being a kept mistress, had not been deemed a proper personage to be introduced into such an assembly. Apollo, laughing, rebuked the petulance of his wit; so all was mirth and good humour in the palace—only the sorrowful Epiphany stood silent and abashed—he was poor, and had come before the King without an oblation. The God of Days perceived his confusion, and turning to the Muses (who are nine), and to the Graces, his hand-maids (who are three in number), he beckoned to them, and gave to them in charge to prepare a Cake of the richest and preciousest ingredients: they obeyed, tempering with their fine and delicate fingers the spices of the East, the bread-flour of the West, with the fruits of the South, pouring over all the Ices of the North. The God himself crowned the whole with talismanic figures, which contained this wondrous virtue—that whosoever ate of the Cake should forthwith become Kings and Queens. Lastly, by his heralds, he invested the trembling and thankful Epiphany with the privilege of presenting this Cake before the King upon an annual festival for ever. Now this Cake is called Twelfth Cake upon earth, after the number of the virgins who fashioned the same, being nine and three.

Miss Kelly

In The Examiner for December 20, 1818, after Leigh Hunt’s criticism of Kenney’s comedy “A Word for the Ladies” is the following paragraph. Leigh Hunt’s criticism is signed: this is not, nor is it joined to the article. There is, I think, good reason to believe it to be Lamb’s:—

It was not without a feeling of pain, that we observed Miss Kelly among the spectators on the first night of the new comedy. What does she do before the curtain? She should have been on the stage. With such youth, such talents,—
Those powers of pleasing, with that will to please,
it is too much that she should be forgotten discarded, laid aside like
an old fashion. It really is not yet the season for her “among the wastes of time to go.” Is it Mr. Stephen Kemble, or the Sub-Committee; or what heavy body is it, which interposes itself between us and this light of the stage?

Letter to an Old Gentleman whose Education has been Neglected
Vol. I., page 213

In the London Magazine for December, 1823, under “The Lion’s Head,” is the following jesting paragraph in which it is possible perhaps to see the hand of the author of the “Letter to the Old Gentleman.”

The following admirable letter seems to refer to the observations on Kant, contained in the Opium Eater’s Letters. Perhaps that acute logician may be able to discover its meaning: or if not, he may think it worth preserving as an illustration of Shakespeare’s profound knowledge of character displayed in Ancient Pistol.

Can Neptune sleep?—Is Willich dead?—Him who wielded the trident of Albion! Is it thus you trample on the ashes of my friend? All the dreadful energies of thought—all the sophistry of fiction and the triumphs of the human intellect are waving o’er his peaceful grave. “He understood not Kant.” Peace then to the harmless invincible. I have long been thinking of presenting the world with a Metaphysical Dictionary—of elucidating Locke’s romance.—I await with impatience Kant in English. Give me that! Your letter has awakened me to a sense of your merits. Beware of squabbles; I know the literary infirmities of man. Scott rammed his nose against mortals—he grasped at death for fame to chaunt the victory.


How is the Opium Eater?

Letter To Southey
Vol. I., page 226

In the London Magazine for December, 1823, under “The Lion’s Head,” is the following:—

We have to thank an unknown correspondent for the following

Occasioned by reading in Elia’s Letter to Dr. Southey, that the admirable translator of Dante, the modest and amiable C——, still remained a curate—or, as a waggish friend observed,—after such a Translation should still be without Preferment.*
O Thou! who enteredst the tangled wood,
By that same spirit trusting to be led,
That on the first discoverer’s footsteps shed
The light with which another world was view’d;

* We suspect, by the way, this is not strictly the case, though we believe it is very nearly so.

Thou hast well scann’d the path, and firmly stood
With measured niceness in his holy tread,
Till, mounting up thy star-illumined head,
Thou lookedst in upon the perfect good!
What treasures does thy golden key unfold!
Riches immense, the pearl beyond all price,
And saintly truths to gross ears vainly told!
Say, gilds thy earthly path some Beatrice?—
If bread thou want’st, they will but give thee stones,
And when thou’rt gone, will quarrel for thy bones!
An Unworthy Rector.
Hood’s “Progress Of Cant”

There can be, I think, very little doubt that Lamb was the author of the following criticism of Hood’s picture “The Progress of Cant” in the New Monthly Magazine for February, 1826. Lamb, we know, praised the detail of the Beadle, reproduced in Hone’s Every-Day Book, under the title “An Appearance of the Season” (see Vol. I., page 307). This is the New Monthly Magazine article:—

The Progress Of Cant

A wicked wag has produced a caricature under this title, in which he marshalleth all the projected improvements of the age, and maketh them take their fantastic progress before the eyes of the scorner. It is a spirited etching, almost as abundant in meaning as in figures, and hath a reprobate eye to a corner—an Hogarthian vivification of post and placard. Priests, anti-priests, architects, politicians, reformers, flaming loyalty-men, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, all go on “progressing,” as the Americans say. Life goes on, at any rate; and there is so much merriment on all sides, that for our parts, inclined to improvements as we are, we should be willing enough to join in the laugh throughout, if the world were as merry as the artist. The houses are as much to the purpose as the pedestrians. There is the office of the Peruvian Mining Company, in dismal, dilapidated condition; a barber’s shop, with “Nobody to be shaved during divine service,” the h worn out; two boarding-schools for young ladies and gentlemen, very neighbourly; and the public-house, called the Angel and Punch-Bowl, by T. Moore. Among the crowd is a jolly, but vehement, reverend person holding a flag, inscribed, “The Church in Anger,” the D for danger being hidden by another flag, inscribed, “Converted Jews.” Then there is the Caledonian Chap (el being obstructed in the same way), who holds a pennon, crying out, “No Theatre!” Purity of Election, with a bludgeon, very drunk; and, above all, a petty fellow called the Great Unknown, with his hat over his eyes, and a constable’s staff peeping out of his pocket. Some of the faces and figures are very clever, particularly the Barber; the Saving-banks man; the Jew Boy picking the pocket; the Charity Boy and the Beadle. The Beadle is rich from head to foot. Nathless, we like not to see Mrs. Fry so roasted: we are at a loss to know why the Blacks deserve to be made Black Devils; and are not aware that the proposal of an University in
London has occasioned, or is likely to occasion, any sort of cant. However, there is no harm done where a cause can afford a joke; and where it cannot, the more it is joked at, the better.

Mr. Ephraim Wagstaff

In The Table Book, 1827, beginning on column 185, Vol. II., is the following humorous story which there is some reason to believe mar be Lamb’s. The late Mr. Dykes Campbell had no doubt whatever, the proof residing not only in internal evidence but in the rhymed story of “Dick Strype,” printed below, on page 989, which we may assume Lamb to have written. The subject of the two stories, prose and verse, is the same, and the style of Ephraim Wagstaff is not altogether unlike that of Juke Judkins. I am not however quite convinced.

ForThe Table Book
Mr. Ephraim Wagstaff, His Wife And Pipe

About the middle of Shoemaker-row, near to Broadway, Blackfriars, there resided for many years a substantial hardwareman, named Ephraim Wagstaff. He was short in stature, tolerably well favoured in countenance, and singularly neat and clean in his attire. Everybody in the neighbourhood looked upon him as a “warm” old man; and when he died, the property he left behind him did not bely the preconceived opinion. It was all personal, amounted to about nineteen thousand pounds; and, as he was childless, it went to distant relations, with the exception of a few hundred pounds bequeathed to public charities.

The family of Ephraim Wagstaff, both on the male and female sides, was respectable, though not opulent. His maternal grandfather, he used to say, formed part of the executive government in the reign of George I., whom he served as petty constable in one of the manufacturing districts during a long period. The love of office seems not to have been hereditary in the family; or perhaps the opportunities of gratifying it did not continue; for, with that single exception, none of his ancestors could boast of official honours. The origin of the name is doubtful. On a first view, it seems evidently the conjunction of two names brought together by marriage or fortune. In the “Tatler” we read about the staff in a variety of combinations, under one of which the popular author of that work chose to designate himself, and thereby conferred immortality on the name of Bickerstaff. Our friend Ephraim was no great wit, but he loved a joke, particularly if he made it himself; and he used to say, whenever he heard any one endeavouring to account for his name, that he believed it originated in the marriage of a Miss Staff to some Wag who lived near her; and who, willing to show his gallantry, and at the same time his knowledge of French customs, adopted the fashion of that sprightly people, by adding her family name to his own. The conjecture is at least probable, and so we must leave it.

At the age of fifty-two it pleased heaven to deprive Mr. Wagstaff of his beloved spouse Barbara. The bereavement formed an era in his
history. Mrs. Wagstaff was an active, strong woman, about ten years older than himself, and one sure to be missed in any circle wherein she had once moved. She was indeed no cipher. Her person was tall and bony, her face, in hue, something between brown and red, had the appearance of having been scorched. Altogether her qualities were truly commanding. She loved her own way exceedingly; was continually on the alert to have it; and, in truth, generally succeeded. Yet such was her love of justice, that she has been heard to aver repeatedly, that she never (she spoke the word never emphatically) opposed her husband, but when he was decidedly in the wrong. Of these occasions, it must also be mentioned, she generously took upon herself the trouble and responsibility of being the sole judge. There was one point, however, on which it would seem that Mr. Wagstaff had contrived to please himself exclusively; although, how he had managed to resist so effectually the remonstrances and opposition which, from the structure of his wife’s mind he must necessarily have been doomed to encounter, must ever remain a secret. The fact was this: Ephraim had a peculiarly strong attachment to a pipe; his affection for his amiable partner scarcely exceeding that which he entertained for that lively emblem of so many sage contrivances and florid speeches, ending like it—in smoke. In the times of his former wives (for twice before had he been yoked in matrimony) he had indulged himself with it unmolested. Not so with Mrs. Wagstaff the third. Pipes and smoking she held in unmitigated abhorrence: but having, by whatever means, been obliged to submit to their introduction, she wisely avoided all direct attempts to abate what she called among her friends “the nuisance;” and, like a skilful general, who has failed of securing victory, she had recourse to such stratagems as might render it as little productive as possible to the enemy. Ephraim, aware how matters stood, neglected no precaution to guard against his wife’s manoeuvres—meeting, of course, with various success. Many a time did her ingenuity contrive an accident, by which his pipe and peace of mind were at once demolished; and, although there never could be any difficulty in replacing the former by simply sending out for that purpose, yet he has confessed, that when he contemplated the possibility of offering too strong an excitement to the shrill tones of his beloved’s voice, (the only pipe she willingly tolerated,) he waved that proceeding, and submitted to the sacrifice as much the lesser evil. At length Mrs. Wagstaff was taken ill, an inflammation on her lungs was found to be her malady, and that crisis appeared to be fast approaching, when
The doctor leaves the house with sorrow,
Despairing of his fee to-morrow.
The foreboding soon proved correct; and, every thing considered, perhaps it ought not to excite much surprise, that when Ephraim heard from the physician that there was little or no chance of her recovery, he betrayed no symptoms of excessive emotion, but mumbling something unintelligibly, in which the doctor thought he caught the sound
of the words “Christian duty of resignation,” he quietly filled an additional pipe that evening. The next day Mrs. Wagstaff expired, and in due time her interment took place in the churchyard of St. Ann, Blackfriars, every thing connected therewith being conducted with the decorum becoming so melancholy an event, and which might be expected from a man of Mr. WagstafFs gravity and experience. The funeral was a walking one from the near vicinity to the ground; and but for an untimely slanting shower of rain, no particular inconvenience would have been felt by those who were assembled on that occasion; that casualty, however, caused them to be thoroughly drenched; and, in reference to their appearance, it was feelingly observed by some of the by-standers, that they had seldom seen so many tears on the faces of mourners.—

To be continued—(perhaps).
A Letter To The Editor

In column 857 of The Table Book, 1827, Vol. II., is the following letter to Hone, which is very likely to be from Lamb’s pen. Waltham Abbey was a favourite objective of his in his long Essex and Hertfordshire rambles:—

Waltham, Essex
To the Editor

Sir,—The following epitaph is upon a plain gravestone in the churchyard of Waltham Abbey. Having some point, it may perhaps be acceptable for the Table Book. I was told that the memory of the worthy curate is still held in great esteem by the inhabitants of that place.

Rev. Isaac Colnett,
Fifteen years curate of this Parish,
Died March 1, 1801—Aged 43 years.
Shall pride a heap of sculptured marble raise,
Some worthless, unmourn’d, titled fool to praise,
And shall we not by one poor gravestone show
Where pious, worthy Colnett sleeps below?

Surely common decency, if they are deficient in antiquarian feeling, should induce the inhabitants of Waltham Cross to take some measures, if not to restore, at least to preserve from further decay and dilapidation the remains of that beautiful monument of conjugal affection, the cross erected by Edward I. It is now in a sad disgraceful state.

I am, &c,
“Mrs. Battle’s Opinions On Whist”
Vol. II., page 32

A little essay on card playing in the Every-Day Book, the authorship of which is unknown, but which may be Hone’s, ends with the following pleasant passage, which might be added to my notes:—


“Cousin Bridget and the gentle Elia seem beings of that age wherein lived Pamela, whom, with ‘old Sarah Battle,’ we may imagine entering their room, and sitting down with them to a square game. Yet Bridget and Elia live in our own times: she, full of kindness to all, and of soothings to Elia especially;—he, no less kind and consoling to Bridget, in all simplicity holding converse with the world, and, ever and anon, giving us scenes that Metzu and De Foe would admire, and portraits that Deuner and Hogarth would rise from their graves to paint.”

“The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers”
Vol. II., page 108

Leigh Hunt, in The Examiner for May 5, 1822, quoted some of the best sentences of this essay. On May 12 a correspondent (L. E.) wrote a very agreeable letter supporting Lamb’s plea for generosity to sweeps and remarking thus upon Lamb himself:—

“I read the modicum on ‘Chimney-Sweepers,’ which your last paper contained, with pleasure. It appears to be the production of that sort of mind which you justly denominate ‘gifted;’ but which is greatly undervalued by the majority of men, because they have no sympathies in common with it Many who might partially appreciate such a spirit, do nevertheless object to it, from the snap-dragon nature of its coruscations, which shine themselves, but shew every thing around them to disadvantage. Your deep philosophers also, and all the laborious professors of the art of sinking, may elevate their nasal projections, and demand ‘cui bono’? For my part I prefer a little enjoyment to a great deal of philosophy. It is these gifted minds that enliven our habitations, and contribute so largely to those every-day delights, which constitute, after all, the chief part of mortal happiness. Such minds are ever active—their light, like the vestal lamp, is ever burning—and in my opinion the man who refines the common intercourse of life, and wreaths the altars of our household gods with flowers, is more deserving of respect and gratitude than all the sages who waste their lives in elaborate speculations, which tend to nothing, and which we cannot comprehend—nor they neither.”

On June 2, however, “J. C. H.” intervened to correct what he considered the “dangerous spirit “of Lamb’s essay, which said so little of the hardships of the sweeps, but rather suggested that they were a happy class. J. C. H. then put the case of the unhappy sweep with some eloquence, urging upon all householders the claims of the mechanical sweeping machine.

The Tombs In The Abbey
Vol. II. page 207

In The Examiner for April 8, 1821, is quoted from The Traveller the following epigram, which may possibly be Lamb’s, and which shows at any rate that his protest against entrance fees for churches was in the air.

On a Visit to St. Paul’s
What can be hop’d from Priests who, ’gainst the Poor,
For lack of two-pence, shut the church’s door;
Who, true successors of the ancient leaven,
Erect a turnpike on the road to Heaven?
“Knock, and it shall be open’d,” saith our Lord;
“Knock, and pay two-pence,” say the Chapter Board:
The Showman of the booth the fee receives,
And God’s house is again a “den of thieves.”
“Rejoicings upon the New Year’s Coming of Age’
Vol. II., page 235

For the first draft of this essay—or at any rate for the germ of it—see page 980.

Lamb’s Earliest Poem

To the Illustrated London News for December 26, 1891, the late Mr. Dykes Campbell contributed an account of a book that had belonged to James Boyer, of Christ’s Hospital, in which his best scholars transcribed compositions of more than usual merit. All Lamb’s Grecians figure here. Lamb is represented by the following:—

Mille viæ mortis
What time in bands of slumber all were laid,
To Death’s dark court, methought I was convey’d;
In realms it lay far hid from mortal sight,
And gloomy tapers scarce kept out the night.
On ebon throne the King of Terrors sate;
Around him stood the ministers of Fate;
On fell destruction bent, the murth’rous band
Waited attentively his high command.
Here pallid Fear & dark Despair were seen.
And Fever here with looks forever lean,
Swoln Dropsy, halting Gout, profuse of woes,
And Madness fierce & hopeless of repose,
Wide-wasting Plague; but chief in honour stood
More-wasting War, insatiable of blood;
With starting eye-balls, eager for the word;
Already brandish’d was the glitt’ring sword.
Wonder and fear alike had fill’d my breast,
And thus the grisly Monarch I addrest—
“Of earth-born Heroes why should Poets sing,
“And thee neglect, neglect the greatest King?
“To thee ev’n Csesar’s self was forc’d to yield
“The glories of Pharsalia’s well-fought field.”
When, with a frown, “Vile caitiff, come not here,”
Abrupt cried Death; “shall flatt’ry soothe my ear?”
“Hence, or thou feel’st my dart!” the Monarch said.
Wild terror seiz’d me, & the vision fled.
Charles Lamb.
An Early Tale in Verse

Writing to John Rickman in January, 1802, Lamb says, “My editor [Dan Stuart of the Morning Post] uniformly rejects all that I do, considerable in length. I shall only do paragraphs with now and then a slight poem, such as Dick Strype, if you read it, which was but a long epigram.” The verses, which appeared on January 6, 1802, may be compared with the story of Ephraim Wagstaff, on page 984, written twenty-five years later. It has been pointed out that Points of Misery, 1823, by Charles Molloy Westmacott (Bernard Blackmantle of the English Spy), contains the poem with slight alterations. But Westmacott reaped where he could, and his book is confessedly not wholly original. Lamb seems to me to admit authorship by implication fairly completely. Westmacott was only thirteen when it was first printed.

Dick Strype; or, The Force of Habit
A Tale—By Timothy Bramble
Habits are stubborn things:
And by the time a man is turn’d of forty,
His ruling passion’s grown so haughty
There is no clipping of its wings.
The amorous roots have taken earth, and fix
And never shall P—TT leave his juggling tricks,
Till H——Y quits his metre with his pride,
Till W——M learns to flatter regicide,
Till hypocrite-enthusiasts cease to vant
And Mister W——E leaves off to cant.
The truth will best be shewn,
By a familiar instance of our own.
Dick Strype
Was a dear friend and lover of the Pipe;
He us’d to say, one pipe of Kirkman’s best
Gave life a zest.
To him ’twas meat, and drink, and physic,
To see the friendly vapour
Curl round his midnight taper,
And the black fume
Clothe all the room,
In clouds as dark as science metaphysic.
So still he smok’d, and drank, and crack’d his joke;
And, had he single tarried
He might have smok’d, and still grown old in smoke:
But Richard married.
His wife was one, who carried
The cleanly virtues almost to a vice,
She was so nice:
And thrice a week, above, below,
The house was scour’d from top to toe,
And all the floors were rubb’d so bright,
You dar’d not walk upright
For fear of sliding:
But that she took a pride in.
Of all things else Rebecca Strype
Could least endure a pipe.
She rail’d upon the filthy herb tobacco,
Protested that the noisome vapour
Had spoilt the best chintz curtains and the paper
And cost her many a pound in stucco:
And then she quoted our King James, who saith
“Tobacco is the Devil’s breath.”
When wives will govern, husbands must obey;
For many a day
Dick mourn’d and miss’d his favourite tobacco,
And curs’d Rebecca.
At length the day approach’d, his wife must die:
Imagine now the doleful cry
Of female friends, old aunts and cousins,
Who to the fun’ral came by dozens—
The undertaker’s men and mutes
Stood at the gate in sable suits
With doleful looks,
Just like so many melancholy rooks.
Now cakes and wine are handed round,
Folks sigh, and drink, and drink, and sigh,
For Grief makes people dry:
But Dick is missing, nowhere to be found
Above, below, about
They searched the house throughout,
Each hole and secret entry,
Quite from the garret to the pantry,
In every corner, cupboard, nook and shelf,
And all concluded he had hang’d himself.
At last they found him—reader, guess you where—
’Twill make you stare—
Perch’d on Rebecca’s Coffin, at his rest,
Smoking a Pipe of Kirkman’s Best.
“Farewell To Tobacco”

To the note to the “Farewell to Tobacco” I might have added the following pleasant verses in The Table Book, 1827, which, appearing m the same number that contained the tenth instalment of the Garrick Plays, must have been seen by Lamb and probably pleased him:—

The Smoker’s Song
For The Table Book
For thy sake, Tobacco, I
Would do any thing but die!
Charles Lamb.
There is a tiny weed, man,
That grows far o’er the sea, man;
The juice of which does more bewitch
Than does the gossip’s tea, man.
Its name is call’d tobacco,
’Tis used near and far, man;
The car-man chews—but I will choose
The daintier cigar, man.
’Tis dainty ev’n in shape, man—
So round, so smooth, so long, man I
If you’re a churl, ’twill from you hurl
Your spleen—you’ll sing a song, man!
If you will once permit it
To touch your swelling lip, man,
You soon shall see ’twill sweeter be
Than what the bee doth sip, man!
If e’er you are in trouble,
This will your trouble still, man,
On sea and land ’tis at command,
An idle hour to kill, man!
And if the blind god, Cupid,
Should strike you to the heart, man,
Take up a glass, and toast your lass—
And—ne’er from smoking part, man!
And also if you’re married,
In Hymen’s chains fast bound, man;
To plague your wife out of her life,
Smoke still the whole year round, man!
How sweet ’tis of an evening
When wint’ry winds do blow, man,
As ’twere in spite, to take a pipe,
And smoke by th’ fire’s glow, man!
The sailor in his ship, man,
When wildly rolls the wave, man,
His pipe will smoke, and crack his joke
Above his yawning grave, man!
The soldier, in the tavern,
Talks of the battle’s roar, man:
With pipe in hand, he gives command,
And thus he lives twice o’er, man!
All classes in this world, man,
Have each their own enjoyment,
But with a pipe, they’re all alike—
’Tis every one’s employment!
Of all the various pleasures
That on this earth there are, man,
There’s nought to me affords such glee
As a pipe or sweet cigar, man!
O. N. Y.
“Harmony in Unlikeness”

The reference to Maria in this sonnet (Vol. V., pages 54 and 311) is not to Mary Lamb, as I supposed, but to a schoolfellow of Emma Isola’s.

“To Emma, Learning Latin and Desponding”

In its original form this sonnet (see Vol. V., page 83) in its fifth line ran thus:—
(In new tasks hardest still the first appears).
Derwent Coleridge read it in 1853 in Mrs. Moxon’s album, and copying it out, sent it to his wife, saying that he wished Sissy (his daughter Christabel) to get it by heart. He added this note: “Charles Lamb having discovered that this Sonnet consisted but of thirteen lines, Miss Lamb inserted the 5th, which interrupts the flow and repeats a rhime.” Derwent Coleridge goes on to suggest two alternative lines:—
And hope may surely chase desponding fears
Let hope encouraged chase desponding fears.
Lamb, however, had already amended the fifth line (as in Blackwood’s Magazine) to—
To young beginnings natural are these fears.

A New Epigram

The letter to Rickman, dated January 14, 1802, recently printed by Canon Ainger, contains an epigram by Lamb on Count Rumford which was excluded from the “Twelfth Night Characters” in the Morning Post on January 7 and 8. It runs thus:—
Count Rumford
I deal in aliments fictitious
And teaze the poor with soups nutritious.
Of bones and flesh I make dilution
And belong to the National Institution.
The same letter shows us that the epigram on Dr. Solomon (see Vol. V., page 106) which The Champion printed in 1820, was also written for the “Twelfth Night Characters” in 1802. Solomon was then alive.

On the Literary Gazette

The epigram in Vol. V., page 109, was printed in The Examiner for August 22, 1830—a fact I have only recently lighted upon. It then ran thus:—
In merry England I computed once
The number of the dunces—dunce for dunce;
There were four hundred, if I don’t forget,
All readers of the L——y G——e;
But if the author to himself keep true,
In some short months they’ll be reduced to two.


The Examiner began the attack on August 14, 1830. All the epigrams are signed T. A. This means that if Lamb wrote the above, he wrote all; which is not, I think, likely. I do not reproduce them, the humour of punning upon the name of the editor of the Literary Gazette being a little outmoded.

T. A. may, of course, have been Lamb’s pseudonymous signature. If so, he may have chosen it as a joke upon his friend Thomas Allsop. But since one of the epigrams is addressed to himself I doubt if Lamb was the author.

Prologue To “Remorse”

These verses (see Vol. V., page 125) as printed are different from those which were spoken at the theatre by Mr. Carr. A writer in the Theatrical Inquisitor for February, 1813, in his contemptuous criticism, refers to several passages that are no longer extant. I quote from an account of the matter by the late Mr. Dykes Campbell in the Illustrated London News, October 22, 1892:—

I am afraid the true text of Lamb’s “Rejected Address,” even as modified for use as a prologue, has not come down to us. This is how the severe and suspicious Inquisitor describes it and its twin brother the epilogue—

The Prologue and Epilogue were among the most stupid productions of the modern muse; the former was, in all probability, a Rejected Address, for it contained many eulogiums on the beauty and magnificence of the “dome” of Drury; talked of the waves being not quite dry, and expressed the happiness of the bard at being the first whose muse had soared within its limits. More stupid than the doggerel of Twiss, and more affected than the pretty verses of Miles Peter Andrews, the Epilogue proclaimed its author and the writer of the Prologue to be par nobile fratrum, in rival dulness both pre-eminent.

The reader of Lamb’s prologue will find little of all this in it but there is no reason for doubting the critic’s account of what he heard at the theatre. It is not at all unlikely that it was this paragraph which suggested to Lamb the advisability of still further revising the “Rejected Address.” In the prologue there is a good deal about the size of the theatre, as compared with “the Lyceum’s petty sphere,” and of how pleased Shakspere would have been had he been able to hear—
When that dread curse of Lear’s
Had burst tremendous on a thousand ears:
rather an anti-climax, by the way, for it means an audience of but five hundred, which would have been a beggarly account for the new Drury. There is nothing either about its “dome,” or about the scenery, except commonplaces so flat that one doubts if it be quite fair to quote them—
The very use, since so essential grown,
Of painted scenes, was to his [Shakspere’s] stage unknown.
This is not an improvement on the “waves not yet quite dry,” a Lamb-like touch which could not have been invented by the critic, and may go far to convince us of his veracity.

Above all, there is no trace of that splendidly audacious suggestion that Coleridge was the first “whose muse had soared” within the new dome—unless we find a blind one in the closing lines, supposing them to have been converted by the simple process of inversion. Instead of Coleridge being the first whose muse had soared in the new Drury, Drury was the first place in which his dramatic muse had soared.

“Mr. H.”

In Notes and Queries, August S, 1889, the following amusing playbill was printed, contributed by Mr. Bertram Dobell:—

Theatre Royal, English Opera House, Strand.
Particularly Private.
This present FRIDAY, April 26, 1822,
Will be presented a Farce called
Mr. H. . . .
(N.B. This piece was damned at Drury Lane Theatre.)
[Caste follows.]
Previous to which a Prologue will be spoken by Mrs. Edwin.
After the Farce (for the first Time in this country, and now performing
with immense success in Paris)
A French Petite Comedie, called
Le Comedien D’Etampes.
(N.B. This piece was never acted in London, and may very probably be damned Here.)
[Caste follows.]
Immediately after which
A Lover’s Confession, in the shape of a Song,
(From the Theatre de la Poste St. Martin, at Paris.)
To conclude with a Pathetic Drama, in
One Act, called
The Sorrows of Werther.
(N.B. This Piece was damned at Covent Garden Theatre.)
[Caste follows.]
Brothers and Sisters of Charlotte, by six Cherubims
got for the occasion.
Leader of the Band, Mr. Knight. Conductor, Mr. E. Knight. Piano Forte, Mr. Knight, Jun. Harpsichord, Master Knight (that was). Clavecin, by the Father of the Knights, to come.
Vivat Rex! No Money returned (because none will be taken).
On account of the above surprising Novelty, not an Order can possibly be admitted:—
But it is requested, that if such a thing finds its way into the front of the house, it will be kept.
Doors open at Half past Six, begin at Half past Seven precisely.
The Entrance for all parts of the House at the Private Box Door in
Exeter Street.
Lowndes, Printer, Marquis Court, Drury Lane, London.

Mr. Dobell wonders if Lamb had any knowledge of this performance, and he suggests that possibly he had a hand in the bill. Certainly the interpolations concerning damnation are in his manner. The following notice was circulated in the theatre on the night of the performance:—

“The Ladies and Gentlemen who have honoured the Theatre with a Visit, are most respectfully informed that Mrs. Edwin has been very suddenly and seriously indisposed. In this emergency Mrs. J. Weippart (formerly Miss J. Stevenson), of this Theatre, has kindly undertaken the part of Melesinda in the Farce called Mr. H. . . . The prologue, intended to have been recited by Mrs. Edwin, will be read by Mr. H, . . himself—who solicits the customary indulgence.


“As a conclusion to this complicated Apology, it is with sorrow announced that M. Perlet, M. Emile, and Mr. C. J. Mathews, have had the misfortune of falling from their horse and sprained their right ancle—but it is anxiously hoped—that as the actors intend to put their best leg forward, the performance will not be considered a lame one,”

The last paragraph, it is suggested, embodies a sarcastic hit at some recent public example of bad grammar.

A New Poem

In The Mirror for June 1, 1833, are the following lines, collected under the general heading “The Gatherer”:—
Where the soul drinks of misery’s power,
Each moment seems a lengthened hour;
But when bright joy illumes the mind,
Time passes as the fleetest wind.—
How to a wicked soul must be
Whole ages of eternity?
C. L——B.
The poem is indexed “Lamb, C, lines by.” See also new verses on pp. 965, 974.


On page 332 of Vol. V. I have printed an exercise in Sapphics which may very possibly be by Mary Lamb. The same number of The Champion (November 5, 1820) contains another poem in the same measure signed C., which not improbably was Lamb’s contribution to the pastime. It runs as follows:—

Danae Exposed with Her Infant
An English Sapphic
Dim were the stars, and clouded was the azure,
Silence in darkness brooded on the ocean,
Save when the wave upon the pebbled sea-beach
Faintly resounded.
Then, O forsaken daughter of Acrisius!
Seiz’d in the hour of woe and tribulation,
Thou, with the guiltless victim of thy love, didst
Rock on the surges.
Sad o’er the silent bosom of the billow,
Borne on the breeze and modulated sweetly,
Plaintive as music, rose the mother’s tones of
Comfortless anguish.
“Sad is thy birth, and stormy is thy cradle,
“Offspring of sorrow! nursling of the ocean!
“Waves rise around to pillow thee, and night winds
Lull thee to slumber!”
A Poem Possibly by Lamb

The late Mr. Dykes Campbell thought it very likely that the following charming verses were Lamb’s. I think they may be, although it is odd that he should not have reprinted anything so pretty. Here and there it seems impossible that the poem could come from any other hand: line 11 for example, and the idea in lines 13 to 16, and the statement in lines 27 and 28. The lines are in The Tickler Magazine for 1821.

On Seeing Mrs. K—— B——, Aged Upwards Of Eighty, Nurse an Infant
A sight like this might find apology
In worlds unsway’d by our Chronology;
As Tully says, (the thought’s in Plato)—.
“To die is but to go to Cato.”
Of this world Time is of the essence,—
A kind of universal presence;
And therefore poets should have made him
Not only old, as they’ve pourtray’d him,
But young, mature, and old—all three
In one—a sort of mystery—
(’Tis hard to paint abstraction pure.)
Here young—there old—and now mature-
Just as we see some old book-print,
Not to one scene its hero stint;
But, in the distance, take occasion
To draw him in some other station.
Here this prepost’rous union seems
A kind of meeting of extremes.
Ye may not live together. Mean ye
To pass that gulf that lies between ye
Of fourscore years, as we skip ages
In turning o’er historic pages?
Thou dost not to this age belong:
Thou art three generations wrong:
Old Time has miss’d thee: there he tarries!
Go on to thy contemporaries!
Give the child up. To see thee kiss him
Is a compleat anachronism.
Nay, keep him. It is good to see
Race link’d to race, in him and thee.
The child repelleth not at all
Her touch as uncongenial,
But loves the old Nurse like another—
Its sister—or its natural mother;
And to the nurse a pride it gives
To think (though old) that still she lives
With one, who may not hope in vain
To live her years all o’er again!