LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, [23 September 1816]

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[p.m. September 23, 1816.]

MY dear Wordsworth, It seems an age since we have corresponded, but indeed the interim has been stuffd out with more variety than usually checquers my same-seeming existence.—Mercy on me, what a traveller have I been since I wrote you last! what foreign wonders have been explored! I have seen Bath, King Bladud’s ancient well, fair Bristol, seed-plot of suicidal Chatterton, Marlbro’, Chippenham, Calne, famous for nothing in particular that I know of—but such a vertigo of locomotion has not seized us for years. We spent a month with the Morgans at the last named Borough—August—and such a change has the change wrought in us that we could not stomach wholesome Temple air, but are absolutely rusticating (O the gentility of it) at Dalston, about one mischievous boy’s stone’s throw off Kingsland Turnpike, one mile from Shoreditch church,—thence we emanate in various directions to Hackney, Clapton, Totnam, and such like romantic country. That my lungs should ever prove so dainty as to fancy they perceive differences of air! but so it is, tho’ I am almost ashamed of it, like Milton’s devil (turn’d truant to his old Brimstone) I am purging off the foul air of my once darling
tobacco in this Eden, absolutely snuffing up pure gales, like old worn out Sin playing at being innocent, which never comes again, for in spite of good books and good thoughts there is something in a Pipe that virtue cannot give tho’ she give her unendowed person for a dowry. Have you read the
review of Coleridge’s character, person, physiognomy &c. in the Examiner—his features even to his nose—O horrible license beyond the old Comedy. He is himself gone to the sea side with his favorite Apothecary, having left for publication as I hear a prodigious mass of composition for a Sermon to the middling ranks of people to persuade them they are not so distressed as is commonly supposed. Methinks he should recite it to a congregation of Bilston Colliers,—the fate of Cinna the Poet would instantaneously be his. God bless him, but certain that rogue-Examiner has beset him in most unmannerly strains. Yet there is a kind of respect shines thro’ the disrespect that to those who know the rare compound (that is the subject of it) almost balances the reproof, but then those who know him but partially or at a distance are so extremely apt to drop the qualifying part thro’ their fingers. The “after all, Mr. Wordsworth is a man of great talents, if he did not abuse them” comes so dim upon the eyes of an Edinbro’ review reader, that have been gloating-open chuckle-wide upon the preceding detail of abuses, it scarce strikes the pupil with any consciousness of the letters being there, like letters writ in lemon. There was a cut at me a few months back by the same hand, but my agnomen or agni-nomen not being calculated to strike the popular ear, it dropt anonymous, but it was a pretty compendium of observation, which the author has collected in my disparagement, from some hundreds of social evenings which we had spent together,—however in spite of all, there is something tough in my attachment to H—— which these violent strainings cannot quite dislocate or sever asunder. I get no conversation in London that is absolutely worth attending to but his. There is monstrous little sense in the world, or I am monstrous clever, or squeamish or something, but there is nobody to talk to—to talk with I should say—and to go talking to one’s self all day long is too much of a good thing, besides subjecting one to the imputation of being out of one’s senses, which does no good to one’s temporal interest at all. By the way, I have seen Colerge. but once this 3 or 4 months. He is an odd person, when he first comes to town he is quite hot upon visiting, and then he turns off and absolutely never comes at all, but seems to forget there are any such people in the world. I made one attempt to visit him (a morning call) at Highgate, but there was something in him or his apothecary which I found so unattractively-repulsing from any temptation to call again, that I stay away as naturally
as a Lover visits. The rogue gives you Love Powders, and then a strong horse drench to bring ’em off your stomach that they mayn’t hurt you. I was very sorry the printing of your
Letter was not quite to your mind, but I surely did not think but you had arranged the manner of breaking the paragraphs from some principle known to your own mind, and for some of the Errors, I am confident that Note of Admiration in the middle of two words did not stand so when I had it, it must have dropt out and been replaced wrong, so odious a blotch could not have escaped me. Gifford (whom God curse) has persuaded squinting Murray (whom may God not bless) not to accede to an offer Field made for me to print 2 vols, of Essays, to include the one on Hogrth. and 1 or 2 more, but most of the matter to be new, but I dare say I should never have found time to make them; M. would have had ’em, but shewed specimens from the Reflector to G——, as he acknowleged to Field, and Crispin did for me. “Not on his soal but on his soul, damn’d Jew” may the malediction of my eternal antipathy light—We desire much to hear from you, and of you all, including Miss Hutchinson, for not writing to whom Mary feels a weekly (and did for a long time feel a daily) Pang. How is Southey?—I hope his pen will continue to move many years smoothly and continuously for all the rubs of the rogue Examiner. A pertinacious foulmouthed villain it is!

This is written for a rarity at the seat of business: it is but little time I can generally command from secular calligraphy,—the pen seems to know as much and makes letters like figures—an obstinate clerkish thing. It shall make a couplet in spite of its nib before I have done with it,
“and so I end
Commending me to your love, my dearest friend.”
from Leaden Hall, Septemr something, 1816

C. Lamb.