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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 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
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[Dated at end: April 9, 1816.]

DEAR Wordsworth—Thanks for the books you have given me and for all the Books you mean to give me. I will bind up the Political Sonnets and Ode according to your Suggestion. I have not bound the poems yet. I wait till People have done borrowing them. I think I shall get a chain, and chain them to my shelves More Bodleiano, and People may come and read them at chain’s length. For of those who borrow, some read slow, some mean to read but don’t read, and some neither read nor meant to read, but borrow to leave you an opinion of their sagacity. I must do my money-borrowing friends the justice to say that there is nothing of this caprice or wantonness of alienation in them. When they borrow my money, they never fail to make use of it. Coleridge has been here about a fortnight. His health is tolerable at present, though beset with temptations. In the first place, the Cov. Gard. Manager has declined accepting his Tragedy, tho’ (having read it) I see no reason upon earth why it might not have run a very fair chance, tho’ it certainly wants a prominent part for a Miss O Neil or a Mr. Kean. However he is going to day to write to Lord
Byron to get it to Drury. Should you see Mrs. C., who has just written to C. a letter which I have given him, it will be as well to say nothing about its fate till some answer is shaped from Drury. He has two volumes printing together at Bristol, both finished as far as the composition goes; the latter containing his fugitive Poems, the former his Literary Life. Nature, who conducts every creature by instinct to its best end, has skilfully directed C. to take up his abode at a Chemist’s Laboratory in Norfolk Street. She might as well have sent a Helluo Librorum for cure to the Vatican. God keep him inviolate among the traps and pitfalls. He has done pretty well as yet.

Tell Miss H. my Sister is every day wishing to be quietly sitting down to answer her very kind Letter, but while C. stays she can hardly find a quiet time, God bless him.

Tell Mrs. W. her Postscripts are always agreeable. They are so legible too. Your manual graphy is terrible, dark as Lycophron. “Likelihood “for instance is thus typified [here Lamb makes an illegible scribble].

I should not wonder if the constant making out of such Paragraphs is the cause of that weakness in Mrs. W.’s Eyes as she is tenderly pleased to express it. Dorothy I hear has mounted spectacles; so you have deoculated two of your dearest relations in life. Well, God bless you and continue to give you power to write with a finger of power upon our hearts what you fail to impress in corresponding lucidness upon our outward eyesight.

Mary’s Love to all, She is quite well.

I am call’d off to do the deposits on Cotton Wool—but why do I relate this to you who want faculties to comprehend the great mystery of Deposits, of Interest, of Warehouse rent, and Contingent Fund—Adieu.

C. Lamb.

A longer Letter when C. is gone back into the Country, relating his success, &c.—my judgment of your new Books &c. &c.—I am scarce quiet enough while he stays.

Yours again
C. L.
Tuesday 9 Apr. 1816.

[Wordsworth had sent Lamb, presumably in proof (see next letter), Thanksgiving Ode, 18 Jan. 1816, with other short pieces chiefly referring to recent events, 1816—the subject of the ode being the peace that had come upon Europe with the downfall of Napoleon. It follows in the collected works the sonnets to liberty.

More Bodleiano.” According to Macray’s Annals of the Bodleian Library (second edition, 1890, page 121), books seem
to have been chained in the Bodleian Library up to 1751. The process of removing the chains seems to have begun in 1757. In 1761 as many as 1,448 books were unchained at a cost of a ½d. a piece. A dozen years later discarded chains were sold at the rate of 2d. for a long chain, l½d. for a short one, and if one hankered after a hundred-weight of them, the wish could be gratified on payment of 14s. Many loose chains are still preserved in the library as relics.

“For of those who borrow.” Lamb’s Elia essay, “The Two Races of Men,” may have had its germ in this passage.

Coleridge came to London from Calne in March bringing with him the manuscript of “Zapolya.” He had already had correspondence with Lord Byron concerning a tragedy for Drury Lane, on whose committee Byron had a seat, but he had done nothing towards writing it. “Zapolya” was never acted. It was published in 1817. Coleridge’s lodgings were at 43 Norfolk Street, Strand. See next letter for further news of Coleridge at this time.

“A Helluo Librorum”—a book-glutton.

Lycophron, the Greek poet and grammarian, called “Tenebrosus,’ on account of the obscurity of his poem Cassandra.]

[April 26, 1816.]

PLEASE to state the Weights and Amounts of the following Lots of sold Sale, 181 for

Your obedient Servant,
Chas. Lamb.
Accountant’s Office,
26 Apr. 1816

DEAR W. I have just finished the pleasing task of correcting the Revise of the Poems and letter. I hope they will come out faultless. One blunder I saw and shuddered at. The hallucinating rascal had printed battered for battened, this last not conveying any distinct sense to his gaping soul. The Reader (as they call ’em) had discovered it and given it the marginal brand, but the substitutory n had not yet appeared. I accompanied his notice with a most pathetic address to the Printer not to neglect the Correction. I know how such a blunder would “batter at your Peace.” [Batter is written batten and corrected to batter in the
1816“CHRIST ABEL”487
margin.] With regard to the works, the Letter I read with unabated satisfaction. Such a thing was wanted, called for. The parallel of
Cotton with Burns I heartily approve; Iz. Walton hallows any page in which his reverend name appears. “Duty archly bending to purposes of general benevolence” is exquisite. The Poems I endeavored not to understand, but to read them with my eye alone, and I think I succeeded. (Some people will do that when they come out, you’ll say.) As if I were to luxuriate tomorrow at some Picture Gallery I was never at before, and going by to day by chance, found the door open, had but 5 minutes to look about me, peeped in, just such a chastised peep I took with my mind at the lines my luxuriating eye was coursing over unrestrained,—not to anticipate another day’s fuller satisfaction. Coleridge is printing Xtabel, by Ld Byron’s recommendation to Murray, with what he calls a vision, Kubla Khan—which said vision he repeats so enchantingly that it irradiates and brings heaven and Elysian bowers into my parlour while he sings or says it, but there is an observation “Never tell thy dreams,” and I am almost afraid that Kubla Khan is an owl that won’t bear day light, I fear lest it should be discovered by the lantern of typography and clear reducting to letters, no better than nonsense or no sense. When I was young I used to chant with extacy Mild Arcadians ever blooming, till somebody told me it was meant to be nonsense. Even yet I have a lingering attachment to it, and think it better than Windsor Forest, Dying Xtian’s address &c.—C. has sent his Tragedy to D. L. T.—it cannot be acted this season, and by their manner of receiving it, I hope he will be able to alter it to make them accept it for next. He is at present under the medical care of a Mr. Gilman (Killman?) a Highgate Apothecary, where he plays at leaving off Laud—m. I think his essentials not touched: he is very bad, but then he wonderfully picks up another day, and his face when he repeats his verses hath its ancient glory, an Archangel a little damaged.

Will Miss H. pardon our not replying at length to her kind Letter? We are not quiet enough. Morgan is with us every day, going betwixt Highgate and the Temple. Coleridge is absent but 4 miles, and the neighborhood of such a man is as exciting as the presence of 50 ordinary Persons. ’Tis enough to be within the whiff and wind of his genius, for us not to possess our souls in quiet. If I lived with him or the author of the Excursion, I should in a very little time lose my own identity, and be dragged along in the current of other people’s thoughts, hampered in a net. How cool I sit in this office, with no possible interruption further than what I may term material; there is not as much metaphysics in 36 of the people here as there is in the first page of Locke’s
treatise on the Human understanding, or as much poetry as in any ten lines of the Pleasures of Hope or more natural Beggar’s Petition. I never entangle myself in any of their speculations. Interruptions, if I try to write a letter even, I have dreadful. Just now within 4 lines I was call’d off for ten minutes to consult dusty old books for the settlement of obsolete Errors. I hold you a guinea you don’t find the Chasm where I left off, so excellently the wounded sense closed again and was healed.

N.B. Nothing said above to the contrary but that I hold the personal presence of the two mentioned potent spirits at a rate as high as any, but I pay dearer, what amuses others robs me of myself, my mind is positively discharged into their greater currents, but flows with a willing violence. As to your question about work, it is far less oppressive to me than it was, from circumstances; it takes all the golden part of the day away, a solid lump from ten to four, but it does not kill my peace as before. Some day or other I shall be in a taking again. My head akes and you have had enough. God bless you.

C. Lamb.

[Lamb had been correcting the proofs of Wordsworth’s Letter to a Friend of Burns and his Thanksgiving Ode, with other short Pieces, both published in 1816. In the Letter to a Friend of Robert Burns, which was called forth by the intended republication of Burns’ life by Dr. Currie, Wordsworth incidentally compares Burns and Cotton. The phrase which Lamb commends is in the description of “Tam o’ Shanter” (page 22)—“This reprobate sits down to his cups, while the storm is roaring, and heaven and earth are in confusion;—the night is driven on by song and tumultuous noise—laughter and jest thicken as the beverage improves upon the palate—conjugal fidelity archly bends to the service of general benevolence—selfishness is not absent, but wearing the mask of social cordiality. . . .”

“Batter at your peace.” “Macbeth,” IV., 3, 178.

Coleridge’s Christabel (with Kubla Khan and The Pains of Sleep) was published by Murray in 1816. It ran into a second edition quickly, but was not too well received. The Edinburgh indeed described it as destitute of one ray of genius. In a letter from Fanny Godwin to Mary Shelley, July 20, 1816, in Dowden’s Life of Shelley, we read that “Lamb says Christabel ought never to have been published; and that no one understood it, and Kubla Khan is nonsense.” But this was probably idle gossip. Lamb had admired Christabel to the full, but he may have thought its publication in an incomplete state an error.


“Mild Arcadians ever blooming.” In Pope’sSong by a Person of Quality.”

Coleridge was introduced to Mr. James Gillman of the Grove, Highgate, by Dr. Adams of Hatton Garden, to whom he had applied for medical aid. Adams suggested that Gillman should take Coleridge into his house. Gillman arranged on April 11 that Adams should bring Coleridge on the following day. Coleridge went alone and conquered. He promised to begin domestication on the next day, and “I looked with impatience,” wrote Gillman in his Life of Coleridge, “for the morrow . . . I felt indeed almost spellbound, without the desire of release.” Coleridge did not come on the morrow, but two days later. He remained with the Gillmans for the rest of his life.

The Pleasures of Hope, by Thomas Campbell; The Beggar’s Petition—“Pity the sorrows of a poor old man”—by Thomas Moss (1740-1808), a ditty in all the recitation books. Lamb alluded to it in the London Magazine version of his Elia essay, “A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars.”

Here should come a brief note from Lamb to Leigh Hunt, dated May 13,1816, not available for this edition (printed in The Lambs), accompanying Falstaff’s Letters, etc., and a gift of “John Woodvil.” This is Lamb’s first letter to James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859) that has been preserved. He had known Hunt (an old Christ’s Hospitaller, but later than Lamb’s day) for some years. To his Reflector he contributed a number of essays and humorous letters in 1810-1811; and he had written also for The Examiner in 1812 and during Hunt’s imprisonment in 1813-1815. The Lambs visited him regularly at the Surrey Jail. One of Lamb’s most charming poems is inscribed “To T. L. H.”—Thornton Leigh Hunt, whom he called his “favourite child.”]

[Dated at end: June 1, 1816.]

DEAR Miss Betham,—I have sent your very pretty lines to Southey in a frank as you requested. Poor S. what a grievous loss he must have had! Mary and I rejoice in the prospect of seeing you soon in town. Let us be among the very first persons you come to see. Believe me that you can have no friends who respect and love you more than ourselves. Pray present our
kind remembrances to
Barbara, and to all to whom you may think they will be acceptable.

Yours very sincerely,
C. Lamb.

Have you seen Christabel since its publication?

E. I. H. June 1 1816.

[Southey’s eldest son, Herbert, had died in April of this year.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to H. Dodwell, of the India House, dated August, 1816, not available for this edition. Lamb writes from Calne, in Wiltshire, where he and his sister were making holiday, staying with the Morgans. He states that he has lost all sense of time, and recollected that he must return to work some day only through the accident of playing Commerce instead of whist.]

[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.

[The Lambs had taken summer lodgings—at 14 Kingsland Row, Dalston—which they retained for some years: but this is not quite certain (see Letter 244 and note, page 540).

Hazlitt’s article on Coleridge was in The Examiner for September 8. Among other things Hazlitt said: “Mr. Shandy would have settled the question at once: ‘You have little or no nose, Sir.’”

One passage in the article gives colour to the theory that Hazlitt occasionally borrowed from Lamb’s conversation. In Lamb’s letter to Wordsworth of April 20, 1816, he has the celebrated description of Coleridge, “an archangel a little damaged.” Hazlitt in this
article writes: “If he had had but common moral principle, that is, sincerity, he would have been a great man; nor hardly, as it is, appears to us—
‘Less than arch-angel ruined, and the excess
Of glory obscur’d.’”
Hazlitt may have heard Lambs’ epithet, backed probably by the same passage from
Paradise Lost.

Crabb Robinson tells us, in his Diary, that Coleridge was less hurt by the article than he anticipated. “He denies H., however, originality, and ascribes to L. [Lamb] the best ideas in H.’s articles. He was not displeased to hear of his being knocked down by John Lamb lately.”

Coleridge’s new work was The Statesman’s Manual; or, the Bible the best Guide to Political Skill and Foresight: A Lay Sermon, 1816. It had been first announced as “A Lay Sermon on the Distresses of the Country, addressed to the Middle and Higher Orders,” and Hazlitt’s article had been in the nature of an anticipatory review.

I do not find anywhere the “cut” at Lamb from Hazlitt’s hand, or indeed any one’s hand, to which Lamb refers. Hazlitt at this time was living at No. 19 York Street, Westminster, in Milton’s old house.

“Agni-nomen.” From agnus, a lamb.

“The fate of Cinna.” Cinna the poet, mistaken for the oppressor, was torn to pieces by the populace. See “Julius Cæsar,” III., 3.

“After all, Mr. Wordsworth . . .”—the Edinburgh Review article on The Excursion, in November, 1814, beginning, “This will never do,” had at least two lapses into fairness: “But the truth is, that Mr. Wordsworth, with all his perversities, is a person of great powers”; and “Nobody can be more disposed to do justice to the great powers of Mr. Wordsworth than we are.”

“The rogue gives you Love Powders.” See note on page 164.

“The printing of your Letter.” The Letter to a Friend of Burns (see above).

“2 vols, of Essays.” These were printed with poems as The Works of Charles Lamb by the Olliers in 1818 (see page 515).

“Crispin”—Gifford (see note on page 453).

“Not on his soal [sole] but on his soul”—“Merchant of Venice,” IV., 1, 123—“Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew.”

Southey.” Hazlitt’s attacks on the Laureate were continuous.]

[No date. Middle of November, 1816.]
Inner Temple.
[Charles Lamb adds at the head:—]

Mary has barely left me room to say How d’ye. I have received back the Examiner containing the delicate enquiry into certain infirm parts of S. T. C.’s character. What is the general opinion of it? Farewell. My love to all.

C. Lamb.

MY dear friend, I have procured a frank for this day, and having been hindered all the morning have no time left to frame excuses for my long and inexcusable silence, and can only thank you for the very kind way in which you overlook it. I should certainly have written on the receipt of yours but I had not a frank, and also I wished to date my letter from my own home where you expressed so cordial a wish to hear we had arrived. We have passed ten, I may call them very good weeks, at Dalston, for they completely answered the purpose for which we went. Reckoning our happy month at Calne, we have had quite a rural summer, and have obtained a very clear idea of the great benefit of quiet—of early hours and time intirely at one’s own disposal, and no small advantages these things are; but the return to old friends—the sight of old familiar faces round me has almost reconciled me to occasional headachs and fits of peevish weariness—even London streets, which I sometimes used to think it hard to be eternally doomed to walk through before I could see a green field, seem quite delightful.

Charles smoked but one pipe while we were at Dalston and he has not transgressed much since his return. I hope he will only smoke now with his fellow-smokers, which will give him five or six clear days in the week. Shame on me, I did not even write to thank you for the bacon, upon which, and some excellent eggs your sister added to her kind present, we had so many nice feasts. I have seen Henry Robinson, who speaks in raptures of the days he passed with you. He says he never saw a man so happy in three wives as Mr. Wordsworth is. I long to join you and make a fourth, and we cannot help talking of the possibility in some future fortunate summer of venturing to come so far, but we generally end in thinking the possibility impossible, for I dare not come but by post chaises, and the expence would be enormous, yet it was very pleasing to read
Mrs. Wordsworth’s kind invitation and to feel a kind of latent hope of what might one day happen.

You ask how Coleridge maintains himself. I know no more than you do. Strange to say, I have seen him but once since he has been at Highgate, and then I met him in the street. I have just been reading your kind letter over again and find you had some doubt whether we had left the Temple entirely. It was merely a lodging we took to recruit our health and spirits. From the time we left Calne Charles drooped sadly, company became quite irksome, and his anxious desire to leave off smoking, and his utter inability to perform his daily resolutions against it, became quite a torment to him, so I prevailed with him to try the experiment of change of scene, and set out in one of the short stage coaches from Bishopsgate Street, Miss Brent and I, and we looked over all the little places within three miles and fixed on one quite countrified and not two miles from Shoreditch Church, and entered upon it the next day. I thought if we stayed but a week it would be a little rest and respite from our troubles, and we made a ten weeks stay, and very comfortable we were, so much so that if ever Charles is superannuated on a small pension, which is the great object of his ambition, and we felt our income straitened, I do think I could live in the country entirely—at least I thought so while I was there but since I have been at home I wish to live and die in the Temple where I was born. We left the trees so green it looked like early autumn, and can see but one leaf “The last of its clan” on our poor old Hare Court trees. What a rainy summer!—and yet I have been so much out of town and have made so much use of every fine day that I can hardly help thinking it has been a fine summer. We calculated we walked three hundred and fifty miles while we were in our country lodging. One thing I must tell you, Charles came round every morning to a shop near the Temple to get shaved. Last Sunday we had such a pleasant day, I must tell you of it. We went to Kew and saw the old Palace where the King was brought up, it was the pleasantest sight I ever saw, I can scarcely tell you why, but a charming old woman shewed it to us. She had lived twenty six years there and spoke with such a hearty love of our good old King, whom all the world seems to have forgotten, that it did me good to hear her. She was as proud in pointing out the plain furniture (and I am sure you are now sitting in a larger and better furnished room) of a small room in which the King always dined, nay more proud of the simplicity of her royal master’s taste, than any shower of Carlton House can be in showing the fine things there, and so she was when she made us remark the smallness of one of the Princesses’ bedrooms, and said she slept and also dressed in that little room. There are a great many good pictures but I was
most pleased with one of the King when he was about two years old, such a pretty little white-headed boy.

I cannot express how much pleasure a letter from you gives us. If I could promise my self I should be always as well as I am now, I would say I will be a better correspondent in future. If Charles has time to add a line I shall be less ashamed to send this hasty scrawl. Love to all and every one. How much I should like once more to see Miss Wordsworth’s handwriting, if she would but write a postscript to your next, which I look to receive in a few days.

Yours affectionately
M. Lamb.

For a Postscript, see the beginning.


[“Miss Brent.” Mrs. Morgan’s sister.

Crabb Robinson had been in the Lake Country in September and October.

“The last of its clan.” From Coleridge’s Christabel, line 49.

“To a shop near the Temple” Possibly to Mr. A—— of Flower de-Luce Court, mentioned by Lamb in the footnote to his essay “On the Melancholy of Tailors” (see Vol. I., page 174).

“Our good old King”—George III., then in retirement. Carlton House was the home of the Regent, whom Lamb (and probably his sister) detested—as his “Triumph of the Whale” and other squibs (see Vol. V.) show.

See Appendix it., page 973, for a letter to Rickman.]

[No date. ? Late 1816.]

MY dear Miss Hutchinson, I had intended to write you a long letter, but as my frank is dated I must send it off with a bare acknowledgment of the receipt of your kind letter. One question I must hastily ask you. Do you think Mr. Wordsworth would have any reluctance to write (strongly recommending to their patronage) to any of his rich friends in London to solicit employment for Miss Betham as a Miniature Painter? If you give me hopes that he will not be averse to do this, I will write to you more fully stating the infinite good he would do by performing so irksome a task as I know asking favours to be. In brief, she has contracted debts for printing her beautiful poem of “Marie,” which like all things of original excellence does not sell at all.


These debts have led to little accidents unbecoming a woman and a poetess to suffer. Retirement with such should be voluntary.

[Charles Lamb adds:—]

The Bell rings. I just snatch the Pen out of my sister’s hand to finish rapidly. Wordswth. may tell De Q that Miss B’s price for a Virgin and Child is three guineas.

Yours (all of you) ever
C. L.

[“De Q”—Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859), the “opium-eater,” then living at Grasmere. Lamb and De Quincey had first met in 1804; but it was not until 1821 that they became really intimate, when Lamb introduced him to the London Magazine.

Miss Betham painted miniature portraits, among others, of Mrs. S. T. Coleridge and Sara Coleridge.

Here should come a note to William Ayrton dated April 18, 1817, not available for this edition, thanking him for much pleasure at “Don Giovanni” (see note to next letter).

Somewhen in 1816 should come a letter from Lamb to Leigh Hunt on the publication of The Story of Rimini, mentioned in Leigh Hunt’s Correspondence, of which this is the only sentence that is preserved: “The third Canto is in particular my favourite: we congratulate you most sincerely on the trait [? taste] of your prison fruit.”]