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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1821

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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[p.m. January 8, 1821.]

Mary perfectly approves of the appropriatn of the feathers, and wishes them Peacocks for your fair niece’s sake!

DEAR Miss Wordsworth, I had just written the above end earning words when Monkhouse tapped me on the shoulder with an invitation to cold goose pye, which I was not Bird of that sort enough to decline. Mrs. M. I am most happy to say is better. Mary has been tormented with a Rheumatism, which is leaving her. I am suffering from the festivities of the season. I wonder how my misused carcase holds it out. I have play’d the experimental philosopher on it, that’s certain. Willy shall be welcome to a mince pye, and a bout at Commerce, whenever he comes. He was in our eye. I am glad you liked my new year’s speculations. Everybody likes them, except the Author of the Pleasures of Hope. Disappointment attend him! How I like to be liked, and what I do to be liked! They flatter me in magazines, newspapers, and all the minor reviews. The Quarterlies hold aloof. But they must come into it in time, or their leaves be waste paper. Salute Trinity Library in my name. Two special things are worth seeing at Cambridge, a portrait of Cromwell at Sidney, and a better of Dr. Harvey (who found out that blood was red) at Dr. Davy’s. You should see them.

Coleridge is pretty well, I have not seen him, but hear often of him from Alsop, who sends me hares and pheasants twice a week. I can hardly take so fast as he gives. I have almost forgotten Butcher’s meat, as Plebeian. Are you not glad the Cold is gone? I find winters not so agreeable as they used to be, when “winter bleak had charms for me.” I cannot conjure up a kind similitude for those snowy flakes—Let them keep to Twelfth Cakes.

Mrs. Paris, our Cambridge friend, has been in Town. You do not know the Watfords? in Trumpington Street—they are capital people.

Ask any body you meet, who is the biggest woman in Cambridge—and I’ll hold you a wager they’ll say Mrs. Smith.

She broke down two benches in Trinity Gardens, one on the confines of St. John’s, which occasioned a litigation between the societies as to repairing it. In warm weather she retires into an ice-cellar (literally!) and dates the returns of the years from a hot Thursday some 20 years back. She sits in a room with opposite
doors and windows, to let in a thorough draught, which gives her slenderer friends toothaches. She is to be seen in the market every morning at 10, cheapening fowls, which I observe the Cambridge Poulterers are not sufficiently careful to stump.

Having now answered most of the points containd in your Letter, let me end with assuring you of our very best kindness, and excuse Mary from not handling the Pen on this occasion, especially as it has fallen into so much better hands! Will Dr. W. accept of my respects at the end of a foolish Letter.

C. L.

[Miss Wordsworth was visiting her brother, Christopher Wordsworth, the Master of Trinity.

Willy was William Wordsworth, junr.

Lamb’s New Year speculations were contained in his Elia essay “New Year’s Eve,” in the London Magazine for January, 1821. ) There is no evidence that Campbell disapproved of the essay. Canon Ainger suggests that Lamb may have thus alluded playfully to the pessimism of his remarks, so opposed to the pleasures of hope. When the Quarterly did “come in,” in 1823, it was with cold words, as we shall see.

“Salute Trinity Library.” It is here that are preserved those MSS. of Milton, which Lamb regretted to have seen in his essay “Oxford in the Vacation,” in the London Magazine for October, 1820.

Cromwell at Sidney.” See Letter 211.

Harvey . . . at Dr. Davy’s”—Dr. Martin Davy, Master of Caius.

“Alsop.” This is the first mention of Thomas Allsop (1795-1880), Coleridge’s friend and disciple, who, meeting Coleridge in 1818, had just come into Lamb’s circle. We shall meet him frequently. Allsop’s Letters, Conversations and Recollections of Samuel Taylor Coleridge contain much matter concerning Lamb.

“Winter bleak had charms for me.” I have not found this. Thomson’s Seasons (“Autumn”) has—
E’en winter wild to him is full of bliss.

Mrs. Paris was a sister of William Ayrton and the mother of John Ayrton Paris, the physician. It was at her house at Cambridge that the Lambs met Emma Isola, whom we are soon to meet (see Letter 263).

“Mrs. Smith.” Lamb worked up this portion of his letter into the little humorous sketch “The Gentle Giantess,” printed in the London Magazine for December, 1822 (see Vol. I. of the present
edition, page 211), wherein Mrs. Smith of Cambridge becomes the Widow Blacket of Oxford.

“Dr. W.”—Dr. Christopher Wordsworth.]

[No date. ? 1821.]

DEAR Sir—The hairs of our head are numbered, but those which emanate from your heart defy arithmetic. I would send longer thanks but your young man is blowing his fingers in the Passage.

Yours gratefully
C. L.

[The date of this scrap is unimportant; but it comes well here in connection with the reference in the preceding letter.

In Harper’s Magazine for December, 1859, were printed fifty of Lamb’s notes to Allsop, all of which are reproduced in at least two editions of Lamb’s letters. I have selected only those which say anything, as for the most part Lamb was content with the merest message; moreover, the date is often so uncertain as to be only misleading. Letter 251 is, I fear, here out of place. Lamb was not at Dalston in the winter.

Crabb Robinson says of Allsop, “I believe his acquaintance with Lamb originated in his sending Coleridge a present of £100 in admiration of his genius.”]

[No date. ? 1821.]

DR Sir—Thanks for the Birds and your kindness. It was but yesterdy. I was contriving with Talfd to meet you ½ way at his chamber. But night don’t do so well at present. I shall want to be home at Dalston by Eight.

I will pay an afternoon visit to you when you please. I dine at a chop-house at One always, but I can spend an hour with you after that.

Yours truly
C. L.

Would Saturdy serve?