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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1823

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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[January, 1823.]

DEAR Payne—Your little books are most acceptable. ’Tis a delicate edition. They are gone to the binder’s. When they come home I shall have two—the “Camp” and “Patrick’s Day”—to read for the first time. I may say three, for I never read the “School for Scandal.” “Seen it I have, and in its happier days.” With the books Harwood left a truncheon or mathematical instrument, of which we have not yet ascertained the use. It is like a telescope, but unglazed. Or a ruler, but not smooth enough. It opens like a fan, and discovers a frame such as they weave lace upon at Lyons and Chambery. Possibly it is from those parts. I do not value the present the less, for not being quite able to detect its purport. When I can find any one coming your way I have a volume for you, my Elias collected. Tell Poole, his Cockney in the Lon. Mag. tickled me exceedingly. Harwood is to be with us this evening with Fanny, who comes to introduce a literary lady, who wants to see me,—and whose portentous name is Plura, in English “many things.” Now, of all God’s creatures, I detest letters-affecting, authors-hunting ladies. But Fanny “will have it so.” So Miss Many Things and I are to have a conference, of which you shall have the result. I dare say she does not play at whist. Treasurer Robertson, whose coffers are absolutely swelling with pantomimic receipts, called on me yesterday to say he is going to write to you, but if I were also, I might as well say that your last bill is at the Banker’s, and will be honored on the instant receipt of the third Piece, which you have stipulated for. If you have any such in readiness, strike while the iron is hot, before the Clown cools. Tell Mrs. Kenney, that the Miss F. H. (or H. F.) Kelly, who has begun so splendidly in Juliet, is the identical little Fanny Kelly who used to play on their green before their great Lying-Inn Lodgings at Bayswater. Her career has stopt short by the injudicious bringing her out in a vile new Tragedy, and for a third character in a stupid old one,—the Earl of Essex. This is Macready’s doing, who taught her. Her recitation, &c. (not her voice or person), is masculine. It is so clever, it seemed a male Debut. But cleverness is the bane of Female Tragedy especially. Passions uttered logically, &c. It is bad enough in men-actors. Could you do nothing for little Clara Fisher? Are there no French Pieces with a Child in them? By Pieces I mean here dramas, to
prevent male-constructions. Did not the Blue Girl remind you of some of
Congreve’s women? Angelica or Millamant? To me she was a vision of Genteel Comedy realized. Those kind of people never come to see one. N’import—havn’t I Miss Many Things coming? Will you ask Horace Smith to——[The remainder of this letter has been lost.]


[Payne seems to have sent Lamb an edition of Sheridan. “The Camp” and “St. Patrick’s Day” are among his less known plays.

“Seen it I have, and in its happier days.” After Pope’s line (29) in the “Epilogue to the Satires I.”:—
Seen him I have, but in his happier hour.

Poole was writing articles on France in the London Magazine. Lamb refers to “A Cockney’s Rural Sports” in the number for December, 1822.

Fanny would be Fanny Holcroft. Plura I do not identify.

“Fanny ‘will have it so.’” Possibly in recollection of “pretty Fanny’s way” in Parnell’sElegy to an Old Beauty.”

The new tragedy in which Miss Kelly had to play was probably “The Huguenot,” produced December 11, 1822. “The Earl of Essex” was revived December 30, 1822. Macready played in both.

“Cleverness is the bane.” See Lamb’s little article on “The New Acting” in Vol. I., page 151.

Clara Fisher. See Letter 292.

The Blue Girl seems to refer to the lady mentioned at the end of Letter 275.

Angelica is in Congreve’sLove for Love”; Millamant in his “Way of the World.”]

[No date. January, 1823.]

DEAR Wordsworth, I beg your acceptance of Elia, detached from any of its old companions which might have been less agreeable to you. I hope your eyes are better, but if you must spare them, there is nothing in my pages which a Lady may not read aloud without indecorum, which is more than can be said of Shakspeare.


What a nut this last sentence would be for Blackwood! You will find I availed myself of your suggestion, in curtailing the dissertation on Malvolio.

I have been on the Continent since I saw you.

I have eaten frogs.

I saw Monkhouse tother day, and Mrs. M. being too poorly to admit of company, the annual goosepye was sent to Russell Street, and with its capacity has fed “A hundred head” (not of Aristotle’s) but “of Elia’s friends.”

Mrs. Monkhouse is sadly confined, but chearful.—

This packet is going off, and I have neither time, place nor solitude for a longer Letter.’

Will you do me the favor to forward the other volume to Southey?

Mary is perfectly well, and joins me in kindest remembces to you all.

[Signature cut away.]

[“What a nut . . . for Blackwood.” To help on Maga’s great cause against Cockney arrogance.

“The dissertation on Malvolio.” In Elia the essays on the Old Actors were much changed and rearranged (see Appendix to Vol. II. in this edition).

“A hundred head.” See the Dunciad, IV., 192:—
A hundred head of Aristotle’s friends.]

Twelfth Day [January 6], 1823.

THE pig was above my feeble praise. It was a dear pigmy. There was some contention as to who should have the ears, but in spite of his obstinacy (deaf as these little creatures are to advice) I contrived to get at one of them.

It came in boots too, which I took as a favor. Generally those petty toes, pretty toes! are missing. But I suppose he wore them, to look taller.

He must have been the least of his race. His little foots would have gone into the silver slipper. I take him to have been Chinese, and a female.—

If Evelyn could have seen him, he would never have farrowed two
such prodigious
volumes, seeing how much good can be contained in—how small a compass! He crackled delicately.

John Collier Junr has sent me a Poem which (without the smallest bias from the aforesaid present, believe me) I pronounce sterling.

I set about Evelyn, and finished the first volume in the course of a natural day. To-day I attack the second.—Parts are very interesting.—

I left a blank at top of my letter, not being determined which to address it to, so Farmer and Farmer’s wife will please to divide our thanks. May your granaries be full, and your rats empty, and your chickens plump, and your envious neighbors lean, and your labourers busy, and you as idle and as happy as the day is long!
Vive L’ Agriculture!

Frank Field’s marriage of course you have seen in the papers, and that his brother Barron is expected home.
How do you make your pigs so little?
They are vastly engaging at that age.
I was so myself.
Now I am a disagreeable old hog—
A middle-aged-gentleman-and-a-half.
My faculties, thank God, are not much impaired. I have my sight, hearing, taste, pretty perfect; and can read the Lord’s Prayer in the common type, by the help of a candle, without making many mistakes.

Believe me, while my faculties last, a proper appreciator of your many kindnesses in this way; and that the last lingering relish of past flavors upon my dying memory will be the smack of that little Ear. It was the left ear, which is lucky. Many happy returns (not of the Pig) but of the New Year to both.—

Mary for her share of the Pig and the memoirs desires to send the same—

Dr. Mr. C. and Mrs. C—
Yours truly
C. Lamb.

[This letter, now printed from the original in the possession of Mr. Adam of Buffalo, is usually supposed to have been addressed by Lamb to Mr. and Mrs. Bruton of Mackery End. The address is, however, Mrs. Collier, Smallfield Place, East Grinstead, Sussex (see also Letters 266 and 336, pages 561 and 655).


“If Evelyn could have seen him.” John Evelyn’s Diary had recently been published, in 1818 and 1819, in two large quarto volumes.]

9 Jan., 1823.

“THROW yourself on the world without any rational plan of support, beyond what the chance employ of Booksellers would afford you”!!!

Throw yourself rather, my dear Sir, from the steep Tarpeian rock, slap-dash headlong upon iron spikes. If you had but five consolatory minutes between the desk and the bed, make much of them, and live a century in them, rather than turn slave to the Booksellers. They are Turks and Tartars, when they have poor Authors at their beck. Hitherto you have been at arm’s length from them. Come not within their grasp. I have known many authors for bread, some repining, others envying the blessed security of a Counting House, all agreeing they had rather have been Taylors, Weavers, what not? rather than the things they were. I have known some starved, some to go mad, one dear friend literally dying in a workhouse. You know not what a rapacious, dishonest set those booksellers are. Ask even Southey, who (a single case almost) has made a fortune by book drudgery, what he has found them. O you know not, may you never know! the miseries of subsisting by authorship. ’Tis a pretty appendage to a situation like yours or mine, but a slavery worse than all slavery to be a bookseller’s dependent, to drudge your brains for pots of ale and breasts of mutton, to change your free thoughts and voluntary numbers for ungracious Task-Work. Those fellows hate us. The reason I take to be, that, contrary to other trades, in which the Master gets all the credit (a Jeweller or Silversmith for instance), and the Journeyman, who really does the fine work, is in the background, in our work the world gives all the credit to Us, whom they consider as their Journeymen, and therefore do they hate us, and cheat us, and oppress us, and would wring the blood of us out, to put another sixpence in their mechanic pouches. I contend, that a Bookseller has a relative honesty towards Authors, not like his honesty to the rest of the world. B[aldwin], who first engag’d me as Elia, has not paid me up yet (nor any of us without repeated mortifying applials), yet how the Knave fawned
while I was of service to him! Yet I dare say the fellow is punctual in settling his milk-score, &c. Keep to your Bank, and the Bank will keep you. Trust not to the Public, you may hang, starve, drown yourself, for anything that worthy Personage cares. I bless every star that Providence, not seeing good to make me independent, has seen it next good to settle me upon the stable foundation of Leadenhall. Sit down, good
B. B., in the Banking Office; what, is there not from six to Eleven p.m. 6 days in the week, and is there not all Sunday? Fie, what a superfluity of man’s time,—if you could think so! Enough for relaxation, mirth, converse, poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. O the corroding torturing tormenting thoughts, that disturb the Brain of the unlucky wight, who must draw upon it for daily sustenance. Henceforth I retract all my fond complaints of mercantile employment, look upon them as Lovers’ quarrels. I was but half in earnest. Welcome, dead timber of a desk, that makes me live. A little grumbling is a wholesome medicine for the spleen; but in my inner heart do I approve and embrace this our close but unharassing way of life. I am quite serious. If you can send me Fox, I will not keep it six weeks, and will return it, with warm thanks to yourself and friend, without blot or dog’s ear. You much oblige me by this kindness.

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.

Please to direct to me at India Ho. in future. [? I am] not always at Russell St.


[Barton had long been meditating the advisability of giving up his place in the bank at Woodbridge and depending upon his pen. Lamb’s letter of dissuasion is not the only one which he received. Byron had written to him in 1812: “You deserve success; but we knew, before Addison wrote his Cato, that desert does not always command it. But suppose it attained—
‘You know what ills the author’s life assail—
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.’
Do not renounce writing, but never trust entirely to authorship. If you have a profession, retain it; it will be like
Prior’s fellowship, a last and sure resource.” Barton had now broken again into dissatisfaction with his life. He did not, however, leave the bank.

Southey made no “fortune” by his pen. He almost always had to forestall his new works.]

23 January, ’23.

DEAR Payne—I have no mornings (my day begins at 5 p.m.) to transact business in, or talents for it, so I employ Mary, who has seen Robertson, who says that the Piece which is to be Operafied was sent to you six weeks since by a Mr. Hunter, whose journey has been delayed, but he supposes you have it by this time. On receiving it back properly done, the rest of your dues will be forthcoming. You have received £30 from Harwood, I hope? Bishop was at the theatre when Mary called, and he has put your other piece into C. Kemble’s hands (the piece you talk of offering Elliston) and C. K. sent down word that he had not yet had time to read it. So stand your affairs at present. Glossop has got the Murderer. Will you address him on the subject, or shall I—that is, Mary? She says you must write more showable letters about these matters, for, with all our trouble of crossing out this word, and giving a cleaner turn to th’ other, and folding down at this part, and squeezing an obnoxious epithet into a corner, she can hardly communicate their contents without offence. What, man, put less gall in your ink, or write me a biting tragedy!

C. Lamb.
February [9], 1823.

MY dear Miss Lamb—I have enclosed for you Mr. Payne’s piece called Grandpapa, which I regret to say is not thought to be of the nature that will suit this theatre; but as there appears to be much merit in it, Mr. Kemble strongly recommends that you should send it to the English Opera House, for which it seems to be excellently adapted. As you have already been kind enough to be our medium of communication with Mr. Payne, I have imposed this trouble upon you; but if you do not like to act for Mr. Payne in the business, and have no means of disposing of the piece, I will forward it to Paris or elsewhere as you thins he may prefer.

Very truly yours,

Henry Robertson.
T. R. C. G., 8 Feb. 1823.

Dear P—— We have just received the above, and want your instructions. It strikes me as a very merry little piece, that should be played by very young actors. It strikes me that Miss Clara Fisher would play the boy exactly. She is just such a forward chit. No young man would do it without its appearing absurd, but in a girl’s hands it would have just all the reality that a short dream of an act requires. Then for the sister, if Miss Stevenson that was, were Miss Stevenson and younger, they two would carry it off. I do not know who they have got in that young line, besides Miss C. F., at Drury, nor how you would like Elliston to have it—has he not had it? I am thick with Arnold, but I have always heard that the very slender profits of the English Opera House do not admit of his giving above a trifle, or next to none, for a piece of this kind. Write me what I should do, what you would ask, &c. The music (printed) is returned with the piece, and the French original. Tell Mr. Grattan I thank him for his book, which as far as I have read it is a very companionable one. I have but just received it. It came the same hour with your packet from Cov. Gar., i.e. yester-night late, to my summer residence, where, tell Kenney, the cow is quiet. Love to all at Versailles. Write quickly.

C. L.

I have no acquaintance with Kemble at all, having only met him once or twice; but any information, &c., I can get from R., who is a good fellow, you may command. I am sorry the rogues are so dilitory, but I distinctly believe they mean to fulfill their engagement. I am sorry you are not here to see to these things. I am a poor man of business, but command me to the short extent of my tether. My sister’s kind remembrance ever.

C. L.

[The “Grandpapa” was eventually produced at Drury Lane, May 25, 1825, and played thrice. Miss Stevenson was an actress praised by Lamb in The Examiner (see Vol. I. of this edition, pages 187 and 189).

Samuel James Arnold was manager of the Lyceum, then known as the English Opera House; he was the brother of Mrs. William Ayrton, Lamb’s friend.

Mr. Grattan was Thomas Colley Grattan (1792-1864), who was then living in Paris. His book would be Highways and Byways, first series, 1823.

There is one other note to Payne in the Century Magazine, unimportant and undated, suggesting a walk one Sunday.]

[p.m. February 17, 1823.]

MY dear Sir—I have read quite through the ponderous folio of G. F. I think Sewell has been judicious in omitting certain parts, as for instance where G. F. has revealed to him the natures of all the creatures in their names, as Adam had. He luckily turns aside from that compendious study of natural history, which might have superseded Buffon, to his proper spiritual pursuits, only just hinting what a philosopher he might have been. The ominous passage is near the beginning of the Book. It is clear he means a physical knowledge, without trope or figure. Also, pretences to miraculous healing and the like are more frequent than I should have suspected from the epitome in Sewell. He is nevertheless a great spiritual man, and I feel very much obliged by your procuring me the Loan of it. How I like the Quaker phrases—though I think they were hardly completed till Woolman. A pretty little manual of Quaker language (with an endeavour to explain them) might be gathered out of his Book. Could not you do it? I have read through G. F. without finding any explanation of the term first volume in the title page. It takes in all, both his life and his death. Are there more Last words of him? Pray, how may I venture to return it to Mr. Shewell at Ipswich? I fear to send such a Treasure by a Stage Coach. Not that I am afraid of the Coachman or the Guard reading it. But it might be lost. Can you put me in a way of sending it in safety? The kind hearted owner trusted it to me for six months. I think I was about as many days in getting through it, and I do not think that I skipt a word of it. I have quoted G. F. in my Quaker’s meeting, as having said he was “lifted up in spirit” (which I felt at the time to be not a Quaker phrase), “and the Judge and Jury were as dead men under his feet.” I find no such words in his Journal, and I did not get them from Sewell, and the latter sentence I am sure I did not mean to invent. I must have put some other Quaker’s words into his mouth. Is it a fatality in me, that every thing I touch turns into a Lye? I once quoted two Lines from a translation of Dante, which Hazlitt very greatly admired, and quoted in a Book as proof of the stupendous power of that poet, but no such lines are to be found in the translation, which has been searched for the purpose. I must have dreamed them, for I am quite certain I did not forge them knowingly. What a misfortune to have a Lying
memory.—Yes, I have seen
Miss Coleridge, and wish I had just such a—daughter. God love her—to think that she should have had to toil thro’ five octavos of that cursed (I forget I write to a Quaker) Abbeypony History, and then to abridge them to 3, and all for £113. At her years, to be doing stupid Jesuits’ Latin into English, when she should be reading or writing Romances. Heaven send her Uncle do not breed her up a Quarterly Reviewer!—which reminds me, that he has spoken very respectfully of you in the last number, which is the next thing to having a Review all to one’s self. Your description of Mr. Mitford’s place makes me long for a pippin and some carraways and a cup of sack in his orchard, when the sweets of the night come in.

C. Lamb.

[In the 1694 folio of George Fox’s Journal the revelation of the names of creatures occurs twice, once under Notts in 1647 and again under Mansfield in 1648.

“Sewell.” The History of the Rise, Increase and Progress of the Christian People called Quakers, 1722. By William Sewell (1654-1720).

“In my Quaker’s meeting”—the Elia essay (see Vol. II., page 45).

“I once quoted two Lines.” Possibly, Mr. A. R. Waller suggests to me, the lines:—
Because on earth their names
In Fame’s eternal volume shine for aye,
quoted by
Hazlitt in his Round Table essay “On Posthumous Fame,” and again in one of his Edinburgh Review articles. They are presumably based upon the Inferno, Canto IV. (see Haselfoot’s translation, second edition, 1899, page 21, lines 74-78). But the “manufacturer” of them must have had Spenser’s line in his mind, “On Fame’s eternall bead-roll worthie to be fyled” (Faerie Queene, Bk. IV., Canto II., Stanza 82). They have not yet been found in any translation of Dante. This explanation would satisfy Lamb’s words “quoted in a book,” i.e., The Round Table, published in 1817.

“Miss Coleridge”—Coleridge’s daughter Sara, born in 1802, who had been brought up by her uncle, Southey. She had translated Martin Dobrizhoffer’s Latin history of the Abipones in order to gain funds for her brother Derwent’s college expenses. Her father considered the translation “unsurpassed for pure mother English by anything I have read for a long time.” Sara Coleridge married her cousin, Henry Nelson Coleridge, in 1829. She edited her father’s
works and died in 1852. At the present time she and her mother were visiting the

Mr. Mitford was John Mitford (1781-1859), rector of Benhall, in Suffolk, and editor of old poets. Later he became editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine. He was a cousin of Mary Russell Mitford. In the Gentleman’s Magazine for May, 1838, is a review of Talfourd’s edition of Lamb’s Letters, probably from his pen, in which he records a visit to the Lambs in 1827.]

[Dated at end: February 24, 1823.]

DEAR W.—I write that you may not think me neglectful, not that I have any thing to say. In answer to your questions, it was at your house I saw an edition of Roxana, the preface to which stated that the author had left out that part of it which related to Roxana’s daughter persisting in imagining herself to be so, in spite of the mother’s denial, from certain hints she had picked up, and throwing herself continually in her mother’s way (as Savage is said to have done in his, prying in at windows to get a glimpse of her), and that it was by advice of Southern, who objected to the circumstances as being untrue, when the rest of the story was founded on fact; which shows S. to have been a stupid-ish fellow. The incidents so resemble Savage’s story, that I taxed Godwin with taking Falconer from his life by Dr. Johnson. You should have the edition (if you have not parted with it), for I saw it never but at your place at the Mews’ Gate, nor did I then read it to compare it with my own; only I know the daughter’s curiosity is the best part of my Roxana. The prologue you speak of was mine, so named, but not worth much. You ask me for 2 or 3 pages of verse. I have not written so much since you knew me. I am altogether prosaic. May be I may touch off a sonnet in time. I do not prefer Col. Jack to either Rob. Cr. or Roxana. I only spoke of the beginning of it, his childish history. The rest is poor. I do not know anywhere any good character of De Foe besides what you mention. I do not know that Swift mentions him. Pope does. I forget if D’Israeli has. Dunlop I think has nothing of him. He is quite new ground, and scarce known beyond Crusoe. I do not know who wrote Quarll. I never thought of Quarll as having an author. It is a poor imitation; the monkey is the best in it, and his pretty dishes made of shells. Do you know the
Paper in the
Englishman by Sir Rd. Steele, giving an account of Selkirk? It is admirable, and has all the germs of Crusoe. You must quote it entire. Captain G. Carleton wrote his own Memoirs; they are about Lord Peterborough’s campaign in Spain, & a good Book. Puzzelli puzzles me, and I am in a cloud about Donald M’Leod. I never heard of them; so you see, my dear Wilson, what poor assistances I can give in the way of information. I wish your Book out, for I shall like to see any thing about De Foe or from you.

Your old friend,

C. Lamb.
From my and your old compound. 24 Feb. ’23.

[With this letter compare Letter 89 to Godwin, and Letter 285 to Wilson, pages 225 and 586.

Defoe’s Roxana, first edition, does not, as a matter of fact, contain the episode of the daughter which Lamb so much admired. Later editions have it. Godwin says in his Preface to “Faulkener,” 1807, the play to which Lamb wrote a prologue in praise of Defoe (see Vol. V., page 123), that the only accessible edition of Roxana in which the story of Susannah is fully told is that of 1745.

Richard Savage was considered to be the natural son of the Countess of Macclesfield and Earl Rivers. His mother at first disowned him, but afterwards, when this became impossible, repulsed him. Johnson says in his “Life of Savage,” that it was his hero’s “practice to walk in the dark evenings for several hours before her door in hopes of seeing her as she might come by accident to the window or cross her apartment with a candle in her hand.”

Swift and Defoe were steady enemies, although I do not find that either mentions the other by name. But Swift in The Examiner often had Defoe in mind, and Defoe in one of his political writings refers to Swift, apropos Wood’s halfpence, as “the copper farthing author.”

Pope referred to Defoe twice in the Dunciad: once as standing high, fearless and unabashed in the pillory, and once, libellously, as the father of Norton, of the Flying Post.

Philip Quarll was the first imitation of Robinson Crusoe. It was published in 1727, purporting to be the narrative of one Dorrington, a merchant, and Quarll’s discoverer. The title begins, The Hermit; or, The Unparalleled Sufferings and Surprising Adventures of Mr. Philip Quarll, an Englishman . . . Lamb says in his essay on Christ’s Hospital that the Blue-Coat boys used to read the book. It is unknown now, although an abridgment
appeared quite recently. The authorship of the book is still unknown.

Steele’s account of Selkirk is in The Englishman, No. 26, Dec. 1, 1713. Wilson quoted it.

Defoe’s fictitious Military Memoirs of Capt. George Carleton was published in 1728.

I cannot explain Puzzelli or Donald M’Leod. Later Lamb sent Wilson, who seems to have asked for some verse about Defoe, the “Ode to the Treadmill,” but Wilson did not use it.

“My old compound.” Robinson’s Diary (Vol. I., page 333) has this: “The large room in the accountant’s office at the East India House is divided into boxes or compartments, in each of which sit six clerks, Charles Lamb himself in one. They are called Compounds. The meaning of the word was asked one day, and Lamb said it was ‘a collection of simples.’”]

[Dated at end: March 11, 1823.]

DEAR Sir—The approbation of my little book by your sister is very pleasing to me. The Quaker incident did not happen to me, but to Carlisle the surgeon, from whose mouth I have twice heard it, at an interval of ten or twelve years, with little or no variation, and have given it as exactly as I could remember it. The gloss which your sister, or you, have put upon it does not strike me as correct. Carlisle drew no inference from it against the honesty of the Quakers, but only in favour of their surprising coolness—that they should be capable of committing a good joke, with an utter insensibility to its being any jest at all. I have reason to believe in the truth of it, because, as I have said, I heard him repeat it without variation at such an interval. The story loses sadly in print, for Carlisle is the best story teller I ever heard. The idea of the discovery of roasting pigs, I also borrowed, from my friend Manning, and am willing to confess both my plagiarisms.

Should fate ever so order it that you shall be in town with your sister, mine bids me say that she shall have great pleasure in being introduced to her. I think I must give up the cause of the Bank—from nine to nine is galley-slavery, but I hope it is but temporary. Your endeavour at explaining Fox’s insight into the natures of animals must fail, as I shall transcribe the passage. It appears to me that he stopt short in time, and was on the brink of falling
with his friend
Naylor, my favourite.—The book shall be forthcoming whenever your friend can make convenient to call for it.

They have dragged me again into the Magazine, but I feel the spirit of the thing in my own mind quite gone. “Some brains” (I think Ben Jonson says it) “will endure but one skimming.” We are about to have an inundation of poetry from the Lakes, Wordsworth and Southey are coming up strong from the North. The she Coleridges have taken flight, to my regret. With Sara’s own-made acquisitions, her unaffectedness and no-pretensions are beautiful. You might pass an age with her without suspecting that she knew any thing but her mother’s tongue. I don’t mean any reflection on Mrs. Coleridge here. I had better have said her vernacular idiom. Poor C. I wish he had a home to receive his daughter in. But he is but as a stranger or a visitor in this world. How did you like Hartley’s sonnets? The first, at least, is vastly fine. Lloyd has been in town a day or two on business, and is perfectly well. I am ashamed of the shabby letters I send, but I am by nature anything but neat. Therein my mother bore me no Quaker. I never could seal a letter without dropping the wax on one side, besides scalding my fingers. I never had a seal too of my own. Writing to a great man lately, who is moreover very Heraldic, I borrowed a seal of a friend, who by the female side quarters the Protectorial Arms of Cromwell. How they must have puzzled my correspondent!—My letters are generally charged as double at the Post office, from their inveterate clumsiness of foldure. So you must not take it disrespectful to your self if I send you such ungainly scraps. I think I lose £100 a year at the India House, owing solely to my want of neatness in making up Accounts. How I puzzle ’em out at last is the wonder. I have to do with millions. I?

It is time to have done my incoherencies.

Believe me Yours Truly

C. Lamb.
Tuesd 11 Ma 23.

[Lamb had sent Elia to Woodbridge. Bernard Barton’s sister was Maria Hack, author of many books for children. The Quaker incident is in the essay “Imperfect Sympathies.” Carlisle was Sir Anthony Carlisle, whom we have already seen.

“Your endeavour at explaining Fox’s insight.” See Letter 293. James Nayler (1617?-1660), an early Quaker who permitted his admirers to look upon him as a new Christ. He went to extremes totally foreign to the spirit of the Society. Barton made a paraphrase of Nayler’s “Last Testimony.”


“They have dragged me again.” Lamb had been quite ready to give up Elia with the first essays. “Old China,” one of his most charming papers, was in the March London Magazine.

“Some brains . . .” I have not been able to find this in Ben Jonson.

“Hartley’s sonnets.” Four sonnets by Hartley Coleridge were printed in the London Magazine for February, 1823, addressed to R. S. Jameson. This was the first:—
When we were idlers with the loitering rills,
The need of human love we little noted:
Our love was Nature; and the peace that floated
On the white mist, and slept upon the hills,
To sweet accord subdued our wayward wills:
One soul was ours, one mind, one heart devoted,
That, wisely doating, ask’d not why it doated;
And ours the unknown joy, that knowing kills.
But now I find how dear thou wert to me;
That, man is more than half of Nature’s treasure,—
Of that fair beauty which no eye can see,—
Of that still music which no ear can measure;
But now the streams may sing for others’ pleasure,
The hills sleep on in their eternity.

“Writing to a great man lately.” This was Sir Walter Scott (see Letter 279). Barron Field would be the friend with the seal.]

[p.m. 5 April 1823.]

DEAR Sir—You must think me ill mannered not to have replied to your first letter sooner, but I have an ugly habit of aversion from letter writing, which makes me an unworthy correspondent. I have had no spring, or cordial call to the occupation of late. I have been not well lately, which must be my lame excuse. Your poem, which I consider very affecting, found me engaged about a humorous Paper for the London, which I had called a “Letter to an Old Gentleman whose Education had been neglected”—and when it was done Taylor and Hessey would not print it, and it discouraged me from doing any thing else, so I took up Scott, where I had scribbled some petulant remarks, and for a make shift father’d them on Ritson. It is obvious I could not make your Poem a part of them, and as I did not know whether I should ever be able to do to my mind what you suggested, I thought it not fair to keep back the verses for the chance. Mr. Mitford’s
sonnet I like very well; but as I also have my reasons against interfering at all with the Editorial arrangement of the London, I transmitted it (not in my own handwriting) to them, who I doubt not will be glad to insert it. What eventual benefit it can be to you (otherwise than that a kind man’s wish is a benefit) I cannot conjecture. Your Society are eminently men of Business, and will probably regard you as an idle fellow, possibly disown you, that is to say, if you had put your own name to a sonnet of that sort, but they cannot excommunicate Mr. Mitford, therefore I thoroughly approve of printing the said verses. When I see any Quaker names to the Concert of Antient Music, or as Directors of the British Institution, or bequeathing medals to Oxford for the best classical themes, etc.—then I shall begin to hope they will emancipate you. But what as a Society can they do for you? you would not accept a Commission in the Army, nor they be likely to procure it; Posts in Church or State have they none in their giving; and then if they disown you—think—you must live “a man forbid.”

I wishd for you yesterday. I dined in Parnassus, with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Rogers, and Tom Moore—half the Poetry of England constellated and clustered in Gloster Place! It was a delightful Even! Coleridge was in his finest vein of talk, had all the talk, and let ’em talk as evilly as they do of the envy of Poets, I am sure not one there but was content to be nothing but a listener. The Muses were dumb, while Apollo lectured on his and their fine Art. It is a lie that Poets are envious, I have known the best of them, and can speak to it, that they give each other their merits, and are the kindest critics as well as best authors. I am scribbling a muddy epistle with an aking head, for we did not quaff Hippocrene last night. Marry, it was Hippocras rather. Pray accept this as a letter in the mean time, and do me the favor to mention my respects to Mr. Mitford, who is so good as to entertain good thoughts of Elia, but don’t show this almost impertinent scrawl. I will write more respectfully next time, for believe me, if not in words, in feelings, yours most so.


[“Your poem.” Barton’s poem was entitled “A Poet’s Thanks,” and was printed in the London Magazine for April, 1823, the same number that contained Lamb’s article on Ritson and Scott. It is one of his best poems, an expression of contentment in simplicity. The “Letter to an Old Gentleman,” a parody of De Quincey’s series of “Letters to a Young Gentleman” in the London Magazine, was not published until January, 1825. Scott was John Scott of Amwell (Barton’s predecessor as the Quaker poet), who had written
a rather foolish book of prose,
Critical Essays on the English Poets. Ritson was Joseph Ritson, the critic and antiquarian. See Vol. I. of the present edition, page 218, for the essay. Barton seems to have suggested to Lamb that he should write an essay around the poem “A Poet’s Thanks.” Mitford’s sonnet, which was printed in the London Magazine for June, 1823, was addressed commiseratingly to Bernard Barton. It began:—
What to thy broken Spirit can atone,
Unhappy victim of the Tyrant’s fears;
and continued in the same strain, the point being that Barton was the victim of his Quaker employers, who made him “prisoner at once and slave.” Lamb’s previous letter shows us that Barton was being worked from nine till nine, and we must suppose also that an objection to his poetical exercises had been lodged or suggested. The matter righted itself in time.

“A man forbid” (“Macbeth,” I., 3, 21).

“I dined in Parnassus.” This dinner, at Thomas Monkhouse’s, No. 34 Gloucester Place, is described both by Moore and by Crabb Robinson, who was present. Moore wrote in his Journal: “Dined at Mr. Monkhouse’s (a gentleman I had never seen before) on Wordsworth’s invitation, who lives there whenever he comes to town. A singular party. Coleridge, Rogers, Wordsworth and wife, Charles Lamb (the hero at present of the London Magazine), and his sister (the poor woman who went mad in a diligence on the way to Paris), and a Mr. Robinson, one of the minora sidera of this constellation of the Lakes; the host himself, a Mæcenas of the school, contributing nothing but good dinners and silence. Charles Lamb, a clever fellow, certainly, but full of villainous and abortive puns, which he miscarries of every minute. Some excellent things, however, have come from him.”

Lamb told Moore that he had hitherto always felt an antipathy to him, but henceforward should like him.

Crabb Robinson writes: “April 4th.—Dined at Monkhouse’s. Our party consisted of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, Moore, and Rogers. Five poets of very unequal worth and most disproportionate popularity, whom the public probably would arrange in the very inverse order, except that it would place Moore above Rogers. During this afternoon, Coleridge alone displayed any of his peculiar talent. He talked much and well. I have not for years seen him in such excellent health and spirits. His subjects metaphysical criticism—Wordsworth he chiefly talked to. Rogers occasionally let fall a remark. Moore seemed conscious of his inferiority. He was very attentive to Coleridge, but seemed to relish Lamb, whom he sat next. L. was in a good frame—kept
himself within bounds and was only cheerful at last. . . . I was at the bottom of the table, where I very ill performed my part. . . . I walked home late with Lamb.”

Many years later Robinson sent to The Athenæum (June 25, 1853) a further and fuller account of the evening.

“Hippocrene . . . Hippocras.” Hippocrene is the fountain of the Muses; hippocras, a medicinal drink.]

April 13th, 1823.

DEAR Lad,—You must think me a brute beast, a rhinoceros, never to have acknowledged the receipt of your precious present. But indeed I am none of those shocking things, but have arrived at that indisposition to letter-writing, which would make it a hard exertion to write three lines to a king to spare a friend’s life. Whether it is that the Magazine paying me so much a page, I am loath to throw away composition—how much a sheet do you give your correspondents? I have hung up Pope, and a gem it is, in my town room; I hope for your approval. Though it accompanies the “Essay on Man,” I think that was not the poem he is here meditating. He would have looked up, somehow affectedly, if he were just conceiving “Awake, my St. John.” Neither is he in the “Rape of the Lock” mood exactly. I think he has just made out the last lines of the “Epistle to Jervis,” between gay and tender,
“And other beauties envy Worsley’s eyes.”

I’ll be damn’d if that isn’t the line. He is brooding over it, with a dreamy phantom of Lady Mary floating before him. He is thinking which is the earliest possible day and hour that she will first see it. What a miniature piece of gentility it is! Why did you give it me? I do not like you enough to give you anything so good.

I have dined with T. Moore and breakfasted with Rogers, since I saw you; have much to say about them when we meet, which I trust will be in a week or two. I have been over-watched and overpoeted since Wordsworth has been in town. I was obliged for health sake to wish him gone: but now he is gone I feel a great loss. I am going to Dalston to recruit, and have serious thoughts—of altering my condition, that is, of taking to sobriety. What do you advise me?

T. Moore asked me your address in a manner which made me believe he meant to call upon you.

Rogers spake very kindly of you, as every body does, and none with so much reason as your

C. L.

[This is the first important letter to Bryan Waller Procter, better known as Barry Cornwall, who was afterwards to write, in his old age, so pleasant a memoir of Lamb. He was then thirty-five, was practising law, and had already published Marcian Colonna and A Sicilian Story.

The Epistle to Mr. Jervas (with Mr. Dryden’s translation of Fresnoy’s Art of Painting) did not end upon this line, but some eighteen lines later. I give the portrait opposite page 606.

“Lady Mary.” By Lady Mary Lamb means, as Pope did in the first edition, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. But after his quarrel with that lady Pope altered it to Worsley, signifying Lady Frances Worsley, daughter of the Duke of Marlborough and wife of Sir Robert Worsley.]

(See Facsimile)
[p.m. April 25, 1823.]

DEAR Miss H——, Mary has such an invincible reluctance to any epistolary exertion, that I am sparing her a mortification by taking the pen from her. The plain truth is, she writes such a pimping, mean, detestable hand, that she is ashamed of the formation of her letters. There is an essential poverty and abjectness in the frame of them. They look like begging letters. And then she is sure to omit a most substantial word in the second draught (for she never ventures an epistle without a foul copy first) which is obliged to be interlined, which spoils the neatest epistle, you know [the word “epistle” is underlined]. Her figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, &c., where she has occasion to express numerals, as in the date (25 Apr 1823), are not figures, but Figurantes. And the combined posse go staggering up and down shameless as drunkards in the day time. It is no better when she rules her paper, her lines are “not less erring” than her words—a sort of unnatural parallel lines, that are perpetually threatening to meet, which you know is quite contrary to Euclid [here Lamb has ruled lines grossly unparallel]. Her very blots are not bold like this [here a bold blot], but poor smears [here a poor smear] half left in and half scratched out with another smear left in their place. I like a clean letter, A bold free hand, and a
fearless flourish. Then she has always to go thro’ them (a second operation) to dot her is, and cross her ts. I don’t think she can make a cork screw, if she tried—which has such a fine effect at the end or middle of an epistle—and fills up—

[Here Lamb has made a corkscrew two inches long (see facsimile).]

There is a corkscrew, one of the best I ever drew. By the way what incomparable whiskey that was of Monkhouse’s. But if I am to write a letter, let me begin, and not stand flourishing like a fencer at a fair.

It gives me great pleasure (the letter now begins) to hear that you got down smoothly, and that Mrs. Monkhouse’s spirits are so good and enterprising. It shews, whatever her posture may be, that her mind at least is not supine. I hope the excursion will enable the former to keep pace with its out-stripping neighbor. Pray present our kindest wishes to her, and all. (That sentence should properly have come in the Post Script, but we airy Mercurial Spirits, there is no keeping us in). Time—as was said of one of us—toils after us in vain. I am afraid our co-visit with Coleridge was a dream. I shall not get away before the end (or middle) of June, and then you will be frog-hopping at Boulogne. And besides I think the Gilmans would scarce trust him with us, I have a malicious knack at cutting of apron strings. The Saints’ days you speak of have long since fled to heaven, with Astræa, and the cold piety of the age lacks fervor to recall them—only Peter left his key—the iron one of the two, that shuts amain—and that’s the reason I am lockd up. Meanwhile of afternoons we pick up primroses at Dalston, and Mary corrects me when I call ’em cowslips. God bless you all, and pray remember me euphoneously to Mr. Gnwellegan. That Lee Priory must be a dainty bower, is it built of flints, and does it stand at Kingsgate? Did you remem

[This is apparently the proper end of the letter. At least there is no indication of another sheet.]


[Addressed to “Miss Hutchinson, 17 Sion Hill, Ramsgate, Kent,” where she was staying with Mrs. Monkhouse. “Not less erring.” I have not found this.

“‘Time’—as was said of one of us.” Johnson wrote of Shakespeare, in the Prologue at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre in 1747:—
And panting Time toil’d after him in vain.


“The Saints’ days.” See note on page 514. Astræa, goddess of justice, fled to heaven in the age of bronze owing to the wickedness of man.

“Shuts amain.”
Two mass keys he bore, of metals twain,
(The golden opes, the iron shuts amain).
Lycidas, 110, 111.

“Mr. Gnwellegan.” Probably Lamb’s effort to write the name of Edward Quillinan, afterwards Wordsworth’s son-in-law, whose first wife had been a Miss Brydges of Lee Priory.

“Lee Priory”—the home of Sir Egerton Brydges, at Ickham, near Canterbury, for some years. He had, however, now left, and the private press was closed.

In Notes and Queries, November 11, 1876, was printed the following scrap, a postscript by Charles Lamb to a letter from Mary Lamb to Miss H(utchinson). I place it here, having no clue as to date, nor does it matter:—]

[No date.]

APROPOS of birds—the other day at a large dinner, being call’d upon for a toast, I gave, as the best toast I knew, “Wood-cock toast,” which was drunk with 3 cheers.

Yours affecty
C. Lamb.
[No date. Probably 1823.]

IT is hard when a Gentleman cannot remain concealed, who affecteth obscurity with greater avidity than most do seek to have their good deeds brought to light—to have a prying inquisitive finger, (to the danger of its own scorching), busied in removing the little peck measure (scripturally a bushel) under which one had hoped to bury his small candle. The receipt of fern-seed, I think, in this curious age, would scarce help a man to walk invisible.


Well, I am discovered—and thou thyself, who thoughtest to shelter under the pease-cod of initiality (a stale and shallow device), art no less dragged to light—Thy slender anatomy—thy skeletonian D—— fleshed and sinewed out to the plump expansion of six characters—thy tuneful genealogy deduced—

By the way, what a name is Timothy!

Lay it down, I beseech thee, and in its place take up the properer sound of Timotheus—

Then mayst thou with unblushing fingers handle the Lyre “familiar to the D——n name.”

With much difficulty have I traced thee to thy lurking-place. Many a goodly name did I run over, bewildered between Dorrien, and Doxat, and Dover, and Dakin, and Daintry—a wilderness of D’s—till at last I thought I had hit it—my conjectures wandering upon a melancholy Jew—you wot the Israelite upon Change—Master Daniels—a contemplative Hebrew—to the which guess I was the rather led, by the consideration that most of his nation are great readers—

Nothing is so common as to see them in the Jews’ Walk, with a bundle of script in one hand, and the Man of Feeling, or a volume of Sterne, in the other—

I am a rogue if I can collect what manner of face thou carriest, though thou seemest so familiar with mine—If I remember, thou didst not dimly resemble the man Daniels, whom at first I took thee for—a care-worn, mortified, economical, commercio-political countenance, with an agreeable limp in thy gait, if Elia mistake thee not. I think I shd. shake hands with thee, if I met thee.


[John Bates Dibdin, the son of Charles Dibdin the younger and grandson of the great Charles Dibdin, was at this time a young man of about twenty-four, engaged as a clerk in a shipping office in the city. I borrow from Canon Ainger an interesting letter from a sister of Dibdin on the beginning of the correspondence:—

My brother . . . had constant occasion to conduct the giving or taking of cheques, as it might be, at the India House. There he always selected “the little clever man “in preference to the other clerks. At that time the Elia Essays were appearing in print. No one had the slightest conception who “Elia” was. He was talked of everywhere, and everybody was trying to find him out, but without success. At last, from the style and manner of conveying his ideas and opinions on different subjects, my brother began to suspect that Lamb was the individual so widely sought for, and wrote some lines to him, anonymously, sending them by post to his residence, with the hope of sifting him on the subject. Although Lamb could not know who sent him the lines, yet he looked very hard at the writer of them the next time they met, when he walked up, as usual, to Lamb’s desk in the most unconcerned manner, to transact the necessary business. Shortly after, when they
were again in conversation, something dropped from Lamb’s lips which convinced his hearer, beyond a doubt, that his suspicions were correct. He therefore wrote some more lines (anonymously, as before), beginning—
“I’ve found thee out, O Elia!”
and sent them to Colebrook Row. The consequence was that at their next meeting Lamb produced the lines, and after much laughing, confessed himself to be Elia. This led to a warm friendship between them.

Dibdin’s letter of discovery was signed D. Hence Lamb’s fumbling after his Christian name, which he probably knew all the time.

“Familiar to the D——n name.” I have not traced the quotation that was in Lamb’s mind.]

[p.m. 3 May 1823.]

DEAR Sir—I am vexed to be two letters in your debt, but I have been quite out of the vein lately. A philosophical treatise is wanting, of the causes of the backwardness with which persons after a certain time of life set about writing a letter. I always feel as if I had nothing to say, and the performance generally justifies the presentiment. Taylor and Hessey did foolishly in not admitting the sonnet. Surely it might have followed the B. B. I agree with you in thinking Bowring’s paper better than the former. I will inquire about my Letter to the Old Gentleman, but I expect it to go in, after those to the Young Gentn are completed. I do not exactly see why the Goose and little Goslings should emblematize a Quaker poet that has no children. But after all—perhaps it is a Pelican. The Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin around it I cannot decypher. The songster of the night pouring out her effusions amid a Silent Meeting of Madge Owlets, would be at least intelligible. A full pause here comes upon me, as if I had not a word more left. I will shake my brain. Once—twice—nothing comes up. George Fox recommends waiting on these occasions. I wait. Nothing comes. G. Fox—that sets me off again. I have finished the Journal, and 400 more pages of the Doctrinals, which I picked up for 7s. 6d. If I get on at this rate, the Society will be in danger of having two Quaker poets—to patronise. I am at Dalston now, but if, when I go back to Cov. Gar., I find thy friend has not call’d for the Journal, thee must put me in a way of sending it; and if it should happen that the Lender of it, having that volume, has not the other, I shall be most happy in his accept-
ing the Doctrinals, which I shall read but once certainly. It is not a splendid copy, but perfect, save a leaf of Index.

I cannot but think the London drags heavily. I miss Janus. And O how it misses Hazlitt! Procter too is affronted (as Janus has been) with their abominable curtailment of his things—some meddling Editor or other—or phantom of one—for neither he nor Janus know their busy friend. But they always find the best part cut out; and they have done well to cut also. I am not so fortunate as to be served in this manner, for I would give a clean sum of money in sincerity to leave them handsomely. But the dogs—T. and H. I mean—will not affront me, and what can I do? must I go on to drivelling? Poor Relations is tolerable—but where shall I get another subject—or who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I assure you it teases me more than it used to please me. Ch. Lloyd has published a sort of Quaker poem, he tells me, and that he has order’d me a copy, but I have not got it. Have you seen it? I must leave a little wafer space, which brings me to an apology for a conclusion. I am afraid of looking back, for I feel all this while I have been writing nothing, but it may show I am alive. Believe me, cordially yours

C. Lamb.

[The sonnet probably was Mitford’s, which was printed in the June number (see page 606). Bowring, afterwards Sir John, was writing in the London Magazine on “Spanish Romances.”

“The Goose and little Goslings.” Possibly the design upon the seal of Barton’s last letter.

“Janus.” The first mention of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright (see note on page 619), who sometimes wrote in the London over the pseudonym Janus Weathercock. John Taylor, Hood and perhaps John Hamilton Reynolds made up the magazine for press. In the May number, in addition to Lamb’sPoor Relations,” were contributions from De Quincey, Hartley Coleridge, Cary, and Barton. But it was not what it had been.

Lloyd’s Quaker poem would probably be one of those in his Poems, 1823, which contains some of his most interesting work.]

[p.m. May 6, 1823.]

DEAR Sir—Your verses were very pleasant, and I shall like to see more of them—I do not mean addressed to me.

I do not know whether you live in town or country, but if it
suits your convenience I shall be glad to see you some evening— say Thursday—at 20 Great Russell Street, Covt Garden. If you can come, do not trouble yourself to write. We are old fashiond people who drink tea at six, or not much later, and give cold mutton and pickle at nine, the good old hour. I assure you (if it suit you) we shall be glad to see you.—

Yours, etc.
C. Lamb.
E.I.H., Tuesday,

Some day of May 1823.
Not official.

My love to Mr. Railton.
The same to Mr. Rankin,
to the whole Firm indeed.


[The verses are not, I fear, now recoverable. Dibdin’s firm was Railton, Rankin & Co., in Old Jury.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Hone, dated May 19, 1823. William Hone (1780-1842), who then, his stormy political days over, was publishing antiquarian works on Ludgate Hill, had sent Lamb his Ancient Mysteries Described, 1823. Lamb thanks him for it, and invites him to 14 Kingsland Row, Dalston, the next Sunday: “We dine exactly at 4.”]

Hastings, at Mrs. Gibbs, York Cottage,
Priory, No. 4. [June 18, 1823.]

MY dear Friend,—Day after day has passed away, and my brother has said, “I will write to Mrs. [? Mr.] Norris tomorrow,” and therefore I am resolved to write to Mrs. Norris today, and trust him no longer. We took our places for Sevenoaks, intending to remain there all night in order to see Knole, but when we got there we chang’d our minds, and went on to Tunbridge Wells. About a mile short of the Wells the coach stopped at a little inn, and I saw, “Lodgings to let” on a little, very little house opposite. I ran over the way, and secured them before the coach drove away, and we took immediate possession: it proved a very comfortable place, and we remained there nine days. The first evening, as we were wandering about, we met a lady, the wife of one of the India House clerks, with whom we had been slightly acquainted some years ago, which slight acquaintance has been ripened into a great intimacy during the nine pleasant days that we passed at the Wells. She and her two daughters went with us in an open chaise to Knole, and as the chaise held only five, we
Miss James upon a little horse, which she rode famously. I was very much pleased with Knole, and still more with Penshurst, which we also visited. We saw Frant and the Rocks, and made much use of your Guide Book, only Charles lost his way once going by the map. We were in constant exercise the whole time, and spent our time so pleasantly that when we came here on Monday we missed our new friends and found ourselves very dull. We are by the seaside in a still less house, and we have exchanged a very pretty landlady for a very ugly one, but she is equally attractive to us. We eat turbot, and we drink smuggled Hollands, and we walk up hill and down hill all day long. In the little intervals of rest that we allow ourselves I teach Miss James French; she picked up a few words during her foreign Tour with us, and she has had a hankering after it ever since.

We came from Tunbridge Wells in a Postchaise, and would have seen Battle Abbey on the way, but it is only shewn on a Monday. We are trying to coax Charles into a Monday’s excursion. And Bexhill we are also thinking about. Yesterday evening we found out by chance the most beautiful view I ever saw. It is called “The Lovers’ Seat.” . . . You have been here, therefore you must have seen [it, or] is it only Mr. and Mrs. Faint who have visited Hastings? [Tell Mrs.] Faint that though in my haste to get housed I d[ecided on] . . . ice’s lodgings, yet it comforted all th . . . to know that I had a place in view.

I suppose you are so busy that it is not fair to ask you to write me a line to say how you are going on. Yet if any one of you have half an hour to spare for that purpose, it will be most thankfully received. Charles joins with me in love to you all together, and to each one in particular upstairs and downstairs.

Yours most affectionately,
M. Lamb.
June 18

[Mr. Hazlitt dates this letter 1825 or 1826, and considers it to refer to a second visit to Hastings; but I think most probably it refers to the 1823 visit, especially as the Lovers’ Seat would assuredly have been discovered then. Miss James was Mary Lamb’s nurse. Mrs. Randal Norris had been a Miss Faint.

There is a curious similarity between a passage in this letter and in one of Byron’s, written in 1814: “I have been swimming, and eating turbot, and smuggling neat brandies, and silk handkerchiefs . . . and walking on cliffs and tumbling down hills.”

A Hastings guide book for 1825 gives Mrs. Gibbs’ address as 4 York Cottages, near Priory Bridge. Near by, in Pelham Place, a Mr. Hogsflesh had a lodging-house.]

[p.m. 10 July, 1823.]

DEAR Sir—I shall be happy to read the MS. and to forward it; but T. and H. must judge for themselves of publication. If it prove interesting (as I doubt not) I shall not spare to say so, you may depend upon it. Suppose you direct it to Accots. Office, India House.

I am glad you have met with some sweetening circumstances to your unpalatable draught. I have just returned from Hastings, where are exquisite views and walks, and where I have given up my soul to walking, and I am now suffering sedentary contrasts. I am a long time reconciling to Town after one of these excursions. Home is become strange, and will remain so yet a while. Home is the most unforgiving of friends and always resents Absence; I know its old cordial looks will return, but they are slow in clearing up. That is one of the features of this our galley slavery, that peregrination ended makes things worse. I felt out of water (with all the sea about me) at Hastings, and just as I had learned to domiciliate there, I must come back to find a home which is no home. I abused Hastings, but learned its value. There are spots, inland bays, etc., which realise the notions of Juan Fernandez.

The best thing I lit upon by accident was a small country church (by whom or when built unknown) standing bare and single in the midst of a grove, with no house or appearance of habitation within a quarter of a mile, only passages diverging from it thro’ beautiful woods to so many farm houses. There it stands, like the first idea of a church, before parishioners were thought of, nothing but birds for its congregation, or like a Hermit’s oratory (the Hermit dead), or a mausoleum, its effect singularly impressive, like a church found in a desert isle to startle Crusoe with a home image; you must make out a vicar and a congregation from fancy, for surely none come there. Yet it wants not its pulpit, and its font, and all the seemly additaments of our worship.

Southey has attacked Elia on the score of infidelity, in the Quarterly, Article, “Progress of Infidels [Infidelity].” I had not, nor have, seen the Monthly. He might have spared an old friend such a construction of a few careless flights, that meant no harm to religion. If all his unguarded expressions on the subject were to be collected


But I love and respect Southey—and will not retort. I hate his review, and his being a Reviewer.

The hint he has droppd will knock the sale of the book on the head, which was almost at a stop before.

Let it stop. There is corn in Egypt, while there is cash at Leadenhall. You and I are something besides being Writers. Thank God.

Yours truly

C. L.

[What the MS. was I do not know. Lamb recurs more fully to the description of the little church—probably Hollingdon Rural, about three miles north-west from the town—in Letters 332 and 378, on pages 648 and 708.

The thoughts in the second paragraph of this letter were amplified in the Elia essay “The Old Margate Hoy,” in the London Magazine for July, 1823.

“Southey has attacked Elia.” In an article in the Quarterly for January, 1823, in a review of a work by Grégoire on Deism in France, under the title “The Progress of Infidelity,” Southey had a reference to Elia in the following terms: “Unbelievers have not always been honest enough thus to express their real feelings; but this we know concerning them, that when they have renounced their birthright of hope, they have not been able to divest themselves of fear. From the nature of the human mind this might be presumed, and in fact it is so. They may deaden the heart and stupify the conscience, but they cannot destroy the imaginative faculty. There is a remarkable proof of this in Elia’s Essays, a book which wants only a sounder religious feeling, to be as delightful as it is original.” And then Southey went on to draw attention to the case of Thornton Hunt, the little child of Leigh Hunt, the (to Southey) notorious freethinker, who, as Lamb had stated in the essay “Witches and Other Night Fears,” would wake at night in terror of images of fear.

“I will not retort.” Lamb, as we shall see, changed his mind.

“Almost at a stop before.” Elia was never popular until long after Lamb’s death. It did not reach a second edition until 1836. There are now several new editions every year.]

[July, 1823.]

DR. A.—I expect Proctor and Wainwright (Janus W.) this evening; will you come? I suppose it is but a compt to ask Mrs. Alsop; but it is none to say that we should be most glad to see her. Yours ever. How vexed I am at your Dalston expeditn.

C. L.

[Mrs. Allsop was a daughter of Mrs. Jordan, and had herself been an actress.]

[Dated at end: 2 September [1823].]

DEAR B. B.—What will you say to my not writing? You cannot say I do not write now. Hessey has not used your kind sonnet, nor have I seen it. Pray send me a Copy. Neither have I heard any more of your Friend’s MS., which I will reclaim, whenever you please. When you come London-ward you will find me no longer in Covt. Gard. I have a Cottage, in Colebrook row, Islington. A cottage, for it is detach’d; a white house, with 6 good rooms; the New River (rather elderly by this time) runs (if a moderate walking pace can be so termed) close to the foot of the house; and behind is a spacious garden, with vines (I assure you), pears, strawberries, parsnips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart of old Alcinous. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining room, all studded over and rough with old Books, and above is a lightsome Drawing room, 3 windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great Lord, never having had a house before.

The London I fear falls off.—I linger among its creaking rafters, like the last rat. It will topple down, if they don’t get some Buttresses. They have pull’d down three, W. Hazlitt, Proctor, and their best stay, kind light hearted Wainwright—their Janus. The best is, neither of our fortunes is concern’d in it.

I heard of you from Mr. Pulham this morning, and that gave a fillip to my Laziness, which has been intolerable. But I am so
taken up with pruning and gardening, quite a new sort of occupation to me. I have gather’d my Jargonels, but my Windsor Pears are backward. The former were of exquisite raciness. I do now sit under my own vine, and contemplate the growth of vegetable nature. I can now understand in what sense they speak of Father Adam. I recognise the paternity, while I watch my tulips. I almost Fell with him, for the first day I turned a drunken gard’ner (as he let in the serpent) into my Eden, and he laid about him, lopping off some choice boughs, &c., which hung over from a neighbor’s garden, and in his blind zeal laid waste a shade, which had sheltered their window from the gaze of passers by. The old gentlewoman (fury made her not handsome) could scarcely be reconciled by all my fine words. There was no buttering her parsnips. She talk’d of the Law. What a lapse to commit on the first day of my happy “garden-state.”

I hope you transmitted the Fox-Journal to its Owner with suitable thanks.

Mr. Cary, the Dante-man, dines with me to-day. He is a model of a country Parson, lean (as a Curate ought to be), modest, sensible, no obtruder of church dogmas, quite a different man from Southey,—you would like him.

Pray accept this for a Letter, and believe me with sincere regards


C. L.
2 Sept.

[“Your kind sonnet.” Barton’s well-known sonnet to Elia (quoted on page 645) had been printed in the London Magazine long before—in the previous February. I do not identify this one among his writings.

“I have a Cottage.” This cottage still stands (1904). Within it is much as in Lamb’s day, but outwardly changed, for a new house has been built on one side and it is thus no longer detached. The New River still runs before it, but subterraneously. There is no tablet on the house; there is no tablet on any of Lamb’s houses.

Barton was so attracted by one at least of Lamb’s similes that, I fancy, he borrowed it for an account of his grandfather’s house at Tottenham which he wrote some time later; for I find that gentleman’s garden described as “equal to that of old Alcinous.”

“Kind light hearted Wainwright.” Lamb has caused much surprise by using such words of one who was destined to become almost the most cold-blooded criminal in English history; but, as Hartley Coleridge wrote in another connection, it was Lamb’s way to take things by the better handle, and Wainewright’s worse faults in those days seem to have been extravagance and affectation. Lamb at any rate liked him and Wainewright
was proud to be on a footing with Elia and his sister, as we know from his writings. Wainewright at this time was not quite twenty-nine; he had painted several pictures, some of which were accepted by the academy, and he had written a number of essays over several different pseudonyms, chief of which was Janus Weathercock. He lived in Great Marlborough Street in some style and there entertained many literary men, among them Lamb. It was not until 1826 that his criminal career began.

“Mr. Pulham”—Brook Pulham of the India House, who made the caricature etching of Elia.

“While I watch my tulips.” Lamb is, of course, embroidering here, but we have it on the authority of George Daniel, the antiquary, that with his removal to Colebrooke Cottage began an interest in horticulture, particularly in roses.

“Garden-state.” From Marvell’sGarden,” verse 8, line 1:—
Such was that happy garden-state.

“Mr. Cary.” The Rev. Henry Francis Cary (1772-1844), the translator of Dante and afterwards, 1826, Assistant-Keeper of the Printed Books in the British Museum. A regular contributor to the London Magazine.]

LETTERS 307 TO 310
[Dated at end: Sept. 6 [1823].]

DEAR Alsop—I am snugly seated at the cottage; Mary is well but weak, and comes home on Monday; she will soon be strong enough to see her friends here. In the mean time will you dine with me at ½ past four to-morrow? Ayrton and Mr. Burney are coming.

Colebrook Cottage, left hand side, end of Colebrook Row on the western brink of the New River, a detach’d whitish house.

No answer is required but come if you can.

C. Lamb.
Saturday 6th Sep.

I call’d on you on Sunday. Respcts to Mrs. A. & boy.

[p.m.: Sept. 9, 1823.]

MY dear A.—I am going to ask you to do me the greatest favour which a man can do to another. I want to make my will, and to leave my property in trust for my sister. N.B.
I am not therefore going to die.—Would it be unpleasant for you to be named for one? The other two I shall beg the same favor of are
Talfourd and Proctor. If you feel reluctant, tell me, and it sha’n’t abate one jot of my friendly feeling toward you.

Yours ever,

C. Lamb.
E. I. House, Aug. [i.e., Sept.] 9, 1823.
[p.m. September 10, 1823.]

MY dear A.—Your kindness in accepting my request no words of mine can repay. It has made you overflow into some romance which I should have check’d at another time. I hope it may be in the scheme of Providence that my sister may go first (if ever so little a precedence), myself next, and my good Exrs survive to remembr us with kindness many years. God bless you.

I will set Proctor about the will forthwith.

C. Lamb.
[September, 1823.]

DEAR A.—Your Cheese is the best I ever tasted; Mary will tell you so hereafter. She is at home, but has disappointed me. She has gone back rather than improved. However, she has sense enough to value the present, for she is greatly fond of Stilton. Yours is the delicatest rain-bow-hued melting piece I ever flavoured. Believe me. I took it the more kindly, following so great a kindness.

Depend upon’t, yours shall be one of the first houses we shall present ourselves at, when we have got our Bill of Health.

Being both yours and Mrs. Allsop’s truly.

C. L. & M. L.

[Allsop and Procter may have been named as executors of Lamb’s will at one time, but when it came to be proved the executors were Talfourd and Ryle, a fellow-clerk in the India House.]

[p.m. September 17, 1823.]

DEAR Sir—I have again been reading your stanzas on Bloomfield, which are the most appropriate that can be imagined, sweet with Doric delicacy. I like that
Our more chaste Theocritus
just hinting at the fault of the Grecian. I love that stanza ending with
Words phrases fashions pass away;
But Truth and nature live through all.
But I shall omit in my own copy the one stanza which alludes to
Lord B.—I suppose. It spoils the sweetness and oneness of the feeling. Cannot we think of Burns, or Thompson, without sullying the thought with a reflection out of place upon Lord Rochester? These verses might have been inscribed upon a tomb; are in fact an epitaph; satire does not look pretty upon a tombstone. Besides, there is a quotation in it, always bad in verse; seldom advisable in prose.

I doubt if their having been in a Paper will not prevent T. and H. from insertion, but I shall have a thing to send in a day or two, and shall try them. Omitting that stanza, a very little alteration is wantg in the beginng of the next. You see, I use freedom. How happily (I flatter not!) you have brot in his subjects; and, (I suppose) his favorite measure, though I am not acquainted with any of his writings but the Farmer’s Boy. He dined with me once, and his manners took me exceedingly.

I rejoyce that you forgive my long silence. I continue to estimate my own-roof comforts highly. How could I remain all my life a lodger! My garden thrives (I am told) tho’ I have yet reaped nothing but some tiny sallad, and withered carrots. But a garden’s a garden anywhere, and twice a garden in London.

Somehow I cannot relish that word Horkey. Cannot you supply it by circumlocution, and direct the reader by a note to explain that it means the Horkey. But Horkey choaks me in the Text.

It raises crowds of mean associations, Hawking and sp——g, Gauky, Stalky, Maukin. The sound is every thing, in such dulcet modulations ’specially. I like
Gilbert Meldrum’s sterner tones,
without knowing who Gilbert Meldrum is. You have slipt in your rhymes as if they grew there, so natural-artificially, or artificial-naturally. There’s a vile phrase.

Do you go on with your Quaker Sonnets—[to] have ’em ready with Southey’s Book of the Church? I meditate a letter to S. in the London, which perhaps will meet the fate of the Sonnet.

Excuse my brevity, for I write painfully at office, liable to 100 callings off. And I can never sit down to an epistle elsewhere. I read or walk. If you return this letter to the Post Office, I think they will return 4d, seeing it is but half a one. Believe me tho’ entirely yours

C. L.
1823 LLOYD’S ”POEMS,” 1823 623

[Barton’sVerses to the Memory of Bloomfield, the Suffolk Poet” (who died in August, 1823), were printed in book form in his Poetic Vigils, 1824. This is the stanza that Lamb most liked:—
It is not quaint and local terms
Besprinkled o’er thy rustic lay,
Though well such dialect confirms
Its power unletter’d minds to sway,
It is not these that most display
Thy sweetest charms, thy gentlest thrall,—
Words, phrases, fashions, pass away,
But Truth and Nature live through all.

The stanza referring to Byron was not reprinted, nor was the word Horkey, which means Harvest Home in Suffolk. Gilbert Meldrum is a character in one of Bloomfield’s Rural Tales.

“Seldom advisable in prose.” Lamb’s editors would have a lighter task had he practised this precept.

“Quaker Sonnets.” Barton did not carry out this project. Southey’s Book of the Church was published in 1824.

“I meditate a letter to S.” The “Letter of Elia to Mr. Southey” was published in the London Magazine for October, 1823.]

[No date. Autumn, 1823 ]

YOUR lines are not to be understood reading on one leg. They are sinuous, and to be won with wrestling. I assure you in sincerity that nothing you have done has given me greater satisfaction. Your obscurity, where you are dark, which is seldom, is that of too much meaning, not the painful obscurity which no toil of the reader can dissipate; not the dead vacuum and floundering place in which imagination finds no footing; it is not the dimness of positive darkness, but of distance; and he that reads and not discerns must get a better pair of spectacles. I admire every piece in the collection; I cannot say the first is best; when I do so, the last read rises up in judgment. To your Mother—to your Sister—to Mary dead—they are all weighty with thought and tender with sentiment. Your poetry is like no other:—those cursed Dryads and Pagan trumperies of modern verse have put me out of conceit of the very name of poetry. Your verses are as good and as wholesome as prose; and I have made a sad blunder if I do not leave you with an impression that your present is rarely valued.

Charles Lamb.

[This scrap is in Selections from the Poems and Letters of Bernard Barton, 1849, edited by Edward FitzGerald and Lucy Barton. Lloyd says: “I had a very ample testimony from C. Lamb to the character of my last little volume. I will transcribe to you what he says, as it is but a note, and his manner is always so original, that I am sure the introduction of the merest trifle from his pen will well compensate for the absence of any-thing of mine.” The volume was Poems, 1823, one of the chief of which was “Stanzas on the Difficulty with which, in Youth, we Bring Home to our Habitual Consciousness, the Idea of Death,” to which Lloyd appended the following sentence from Elia’s essay on “New Year’s Eve,” as motto: “Not childhood alone, but the young man till thirty, never feels practically that he is mortal. He knows it indeed, and, if need were, he could preach a homily on the fragility of life; but he brings it not home to himself, any more than in a hot June, we can appropriate to our imagination the freezing days of December.”]

India Office, 14th Oct., 1823.

DEAR Sir,—If convenient, will you give us house room on Saturday next? I can sleep anywhere. If another Sunday suit you better, pray let me know. We were talking of Roast Shoulder of Mutton with onion sauce; but I scorn to prescribe to the hospitalities of mine host.

With respects to Mrs. C., yours truly,

C. Lamb.
[No date. ? Oct., 1823.]

DEAR Sir—Mary has got a cold, and the nights are dreadful; but at the first indication of Spring (alias the first dry weather in Novr early) it is our intention to surprise you early some eveng.

Believe me, most truly yours,
C. L.
The Cottage, Saturday night.
1823 ANOTHER PIG 625

Mary regrets very much Mrs. Allsop’s fruitless visit. It made her swear! She was gone to visit Miss Hutchinsn, whom she found out.

[p.m. October 28, 1823.]

MY dear Sir—Your Pig was a picture of a pig, and your Picture a pig of a picture. The former was delicious but evanescent, like a hearty fit of mirth, or the crackling of thorns under a pot; but the latter is an idea, and abideth. I never before saw swine upon sattin. And then that pretty strawy canopy about him! he seems to purr (rather than grunt) his satisfaction. Such a gentlemanlike porker too! Morland’s are absolutely clowns to it. Who the deuce painted it?

I have ordered a little gilt shrine for it, and mean to wear it for a locket; a shirt-pig.

I admire the petty-toes shrouded in a veil of something, not mud, but that warm soft consistency with [? which] the dust takes in Elysium after a spring shower—it perfectly engloves them.

I cannot enough thank you and your country friend for the delicate double present—the Utile et Decorum—three times have I attempted to write this sentence and failed; which shows that I am not cut out for a pedant.

(as I say to
Southey) will you come and see us at our poor cottage of Colebrook to tea tomorrow evening, as early as six? I have some friends coming at that hour—

The panoply which covered your material pig shall be forthcoming—The pig pictorial, with its trappings, domesticate with me.

Your greatly obliged

[“The crackling of thorns” (Eccles. vii. 6). “Morland’s”—George Morland, the painter. “Utile et Decorum.” A very common tag. But Lamb may have been thinking of—
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
Horace, Odes, III., ii., 13.

“Sir (as I say to Southey).” Elia’s Letter in the London Magazine begins thus.]

[No date. Early November, 1823.]

DEAR Mrs. H.,—Sitting down to write a letter is such a painful operation to Mary, that you must accept me as her proxy. You have seen our house. What I now tell you is literally true. Yesterday week George Dyer called upon us, at one o’clock (bright noon day) on his way to dine with Mrs. Barbauld at Newington. He sat with Mary about half an hour, and took leave. The maid saw him go out from her kitchen window; but suddenly losing sight of him, ran up in a fright to Mary. G. D., instead of keeping the slip that leads to the gate, had deliberately, staff in hand, in broad open day, marched into the New River. He had not his spectacles on, and you know his absence. Who helped him out, they can hardly tell; but between ’em they got him out, drenched thro’ and thro. A mob collected by that time, and accompanied him in. “Send for the Doctor!” they said: and a one-eyed fellow, dirty and drunk, was fetched from the Public House at the end, where it seems he lurks, for the sake of picking up water practice, having formerly had a medal from the Humane Society for some rescue. By his advice, the patient was put between blankets; and when I came home at four to dinner, I found G. D. a-bed, and raving, light-headed with the brandy-and-water which the doctor had administered. He sung, laughed, whimpered, screamed, babbled of guardian angels, would get up and go home; but we kept him there by force; and by next morning he departed sobered, and seems to have received no injury. All my friends are open-mouthed about having paling before the river, but I cannot see that, because a . . . lunatic chooses to walk into a river with his eyes open at midday, I am any the more likely to be drowned in it, coming home at midnight.

I had the honour of dining at the Mansion House on Thursday last, by special card from the Lord Mayor, who never saw my face, nor I his; and all from being a writer in a magazine! The dinner costly, served on massy plate, champagne, pines, &c.; forty-seven present, among whom the Chairman and two other directors of the India Company. There’s for you! and got away pretty sober! Quite saved my credit!

We continue to like our house prodigiously. Does Mary Hazlitt go on with her novel, or has she begun another? I would not dis-
courage her, tho’ we continue to think it (so far) in its present state not saleable.

Our kind remembrances to her and hers and you and yours.—

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.

I am pleased that H. liked my letter to the Laureate.


[Addressed to “Mrs. Hazlitt, Alphington, near Exeter.”

This letter is the first draft of the Elia essay “Amicus Redivivus,” which was printed in the London Magazine in December, 1823. George Dyer, who was then sixty-eight, had been getting blind steadily for some years. A visit to Lamb’s cottage to-day (the little end white house in the accompanying picture), bearing in mind that the ribbon of green between iron railings that extends along Colebrooke Row was at that time an open stream, will make the nature of G. D.’s misadventure quite plain.

Mary Hazlitt”—the daughter of John Hazlitt, the essayist’s brother. See Letter 827.

“I am pleased that H. liked my letter to the Laureate.” Hazlitt wrote, in the essay “On the Pleasures of Hating,” “I think I must be friends with Lamb again, since he has written that magnanimous Letter to Southey, and told him a piece of his mind!” Coleridge also approved of it, and Crabb Robinson’s praise was excessive.]

E. I. H., 21st November, 1823.

DEAR Southey,—The kindness of your note has melted away the mist which was upon me. I have been fighting against a shadow. That accursed “Quarterly Review” had vexed me by a gratuitous speaking, of its own knowledge, that the “Confessions of a Drunkard” was a genuine description of the state of the writer. Little things, that are not ill meant, may produce much ill. That might have injured me alive and dead. I am in a public office, and my life is insured. I was prepared for anger, and I thought I saw, in a few obnoxious words, a hard case of repetition directed against me. I wished both magazine and review at the bottom of the sea. I shall be ashamed to see you, and my sister (though innocent) will be still more so; for the folly was done without her knowledge, and has made her uneasy ever since. My guardian angel was absent at that time.


I will muster up courage to see you, however, any day next week (Wednesday excepted). We shall hope that you will bring Edith with you. That will be a second mortification. She will hate to see us; but come and heap embers. We deserve it, I for what I’ve done, and she for being my sister.

Do come early in the day, by sun-light, that you may see my Milton.

I am at Colebrook Cottage, Colebrook Row, Islington. A detached whitish house, close to the New River, end of Colebrook Terrace, left hand from Sadler’s Wells.

Will you let me know the day before?

Your penitent
C. Lamb.

P.S.—I do not think your handwriting at all like Hunt’s. I do not think many things I did think.


[For the right appreciation of this letter Elia’s Letter to Southey must be read (see Vol. I. of the present edition, page 226). It was hard hitting, and though Lamb would perhaps have been wiser had he held his hand, yet Southey had taken an offensive line of moral superiority and rebuke, and much that was said by Lamb was justified.

Southey’s reply, which I am permitted by Miss Warter to print, ran thus:—

My Dear Lamb—On Monday I saw your letter in the London Magazine, which I had not before had an opportunity of seeing, and I now take the first interval of leisure for replying to it.

Nothing could be further from my mind than any intention or apprehension of any way offending or injuring a man concerning whom I have never spoken, thought, or felt otherwise than with affection, esteem, and admiration.

If you had let me know in any private or friendly manner that you felt wounded by a sentence in which nothing but kindness was intended—or that you found it might injure the sale of your book—I would most readily and gladly have inserted a note in the next Review to qualify and explain what had hurt you.

You have made this impossible, and I am sorry for it. But I will not engage in controversy with you to make sport for the Philistines.

The provocation must be strong indeed that can rouse me to do this, even with an enemy. And if you can forgive an unintended offence as heartily as I do the way in which you have resented it, there will be nothing to prevent our meeting as we have heretofore done, and feeling towards each other as we have always been wont to do.

Only signify a correspondent willingness on your part, and send me your address, and my first business next week shall be to reach your door, and shake hands with you and your sister. Remember me to her most kindly and believe me—Yours, with unabated esteem and regards,

Robert Southey.

The matter closed with this exchange of letters, and no hostility remained on either side.

Lamb’s quarrel with the Quarterly began in 1811, when in a review of Weber’s edition of Ford Lamb was described as a “poor
maniac.” It was renewed in 1814, when his
article on Wordsworth’s Excursion was mutilated. It broke out again in 1822, as Lamb says here, when a reviewer of Reid’s treatise on Hypochondriasis and other Nervous Affections (supposed to be Dr. Gooch, a friend of Dr. Henry Southey’s) referred to Lamb’s “Confessions of a Drunkard” (see Vol. I. of the present edition, page 133) as being, from his own knowledge, true. Thus Lamb’s patience was naturally at breaking point when his own friend Southey attacked Elia a few numbers later.

“I do not think your handwriting at all like Hunt’s.” Lamb had said, in the Letter, of Leigh Hunt: “His hand-writing is so much the same with your own, that I have opened more than one letter of his, hoping, nay, not doubting, but it was from you, and have been disappointed (he will bear with my saying so) at the discovery of my error.”]

[p.m. November 22, 1823.]

DEAR B. B.—I am ashamed at not acknowledging your kind little poem, which I must needs like much, but I protest I thought I had done it at the moment. Is it possible a letter has miscarried? Did you get one in which I sent you an extract from the poems of Lord Sterling? I should wonder if you did, for I sent you none such.—There was an incipient lye strangled in the birth. Some people’s conscience is so tender! But in plain truth I thank you very much for the verses. I have a very kind letter from the Laureat, with a self-invitation to come and shake hands with me. This is truly handsome and noble. ’Tis worthy of my old idea of Southey. Shall not I, think you, be covered with a red suffusion?

You are too much apprehensive of your complaint. I know many that are always ailing of it, and live on to a good old age. I know a merry fellow (you partly know him) who when his Medical Adviser told him he had drunk away all that part, congratulated himself (now his liver was gone) that he should be the longest Liver of the two. The best way in these cases is to keep yourself as ignorant as you can—as ignorant as the world was before Galen—of the entire inner construction of the Animal Man—not to be conscious of a midriff—to hold kidneys (save of sheep and swine) to be an agreeable fiction—not to know whereabout the gall grows—to account the circulation of the blood an idle whimsey of Harvey’s
to acknowledge no mechanism not visible. For, once fix the seat of your disorder, and your fancies flux into it like bad humours. Those medical gentries chuse each his favourite part—one takes the lungs—another the aforesaid liver—and refer to that whatever in the animal economy is amiss. Above all, use exercise, take a little more spirituous liquors, learn to smoke, continue to keep a good conscience, and avoid tampering with hard terms of art—viscosity, schirossity, and those bugbears, by which simple patients are scared into their grave. Believe the general sense or the mercantile world, which holds that desks are not deadly. It is the mind, good
B. B., and not the limbs, that taints by long sitting. Think of the patience of taylors—think how long the Chancellor sits—think of the Brooding Hen.

I protest I cannot answer thy Sister’s kind enquiry, but I judge I shall put forth no second volume. More praise than buy, and T. and H. are not particularly disposed for Martyrs.

Thou wilt see a funny passage, and yet a true History, of George Dyer’s Aquatic Incursion, in the next “London.” Beware his fate, when thou comest to see me at my Colebrook Cottage. I have filled my little space with my little thoughts. I wish thee ease on thy sofa, but not too much indulgence on it. From my poor desk, thy fellow-sufferer this bright November,

C. L.

[Again I do not identify the kind little poem. It may have been a trifle enclosed in a letter, which Barton did not print and Lamb destroyed.]

India-House, 9th Dec., 1823.

(If I had time I would go over this letter again, and dot all my i’s.)

DEAR Sir,—I should have thanked you for your Books and Compliments sooner, but have been waiting for a revise to be sent, which does not come, tho’ I returned the proof on the receit of your letter. I have read Warner with great pleasure. What an elaborate piece of alliteration and antithesis! why it must have been a labour far above the most difficult versification. There is a fine simile of or picture of Semiramis arming to repel a siege. I do not mean to keep the Book, for I suspect you are forming a
curious collection, and I do not pretend to any thing of the kind. I have not a Blackletter Book among mine, old
Chaucer excepted, and am not Bibliomanist enough to like Blackletter. It is painful to read. Therefore I must insist on returning it at opportunity, not from contumacity and reluctance to be oblig’d, but because it must suit you better than me. The loss of a present from should never exceed the gain of a present to. I hold this maxim infallible in the accepting Line. I read your Magazines with satisfaction. I throughly agree with you as to the German Faust, as far [as] I can do justice to it from an English translation. ’Tis a disagreeable canting tale of Seduction, which has nothing to do with the Spirit of Faustus—Curiosity. Was the dark secret to be explored to end in the seducing of a weak girl, which might have been accomplished by earthly agency? When Marlow gives his Faustus a mistress, he flies him at Helen, flower of Greece, to be sure, and not at Miss Betsy, or Miss Sally Thoughtless.
“Cut is the branch that bore the goodly fruit,
And wither’d is Apollo’s laurel tree:
Faustus is dead.”

What a noble natural transition from metaphor to plain speaking! as if the figurative had flagged in description of such a Loss, and was reduced to tell the fact simply.—

I must now thank you for your very kind invitation. It is not out of prospect that I may see Manchester some day, and then I will avail myself of your kindness. But Holydays are scarce things with me, and the Laws of attendance are getting stronger and stronger at Leadenhall. But I shall bear it in mind. Meantime something may (more probably) bring you to town, where I shall be happy to see you. I am always to be found (alas!) at my desk in the forepart of the day.

I wonder why they do not send the revise. I leave late at office, and my abode lies out of the way, or I should have seen about it. If you are impatient, Perhaps a Line to the Printer, directing him to send it me, at Accountant’s Office, may answer. You will see by the scrawl that I only snatch a few minutes from intermitting Business.

Your oblig. Ser.,
C. Lamb.

[Ainsworth had sent Lamb William Warner’s Syrinx; or, A Sevenfold History, 1597. The book was a gift, and is now in the Dyce and Foster library at South Kensington.

Goethe’s Faust. Lamb, as we have seen, had read the account of the play in Madame de Staël’s Germany. He might also have
read the
translation by Lord Francis Leveson-Gower, 1823. Hayward’s translation was not published till 1834. Lamb misquotes Marlowe’sFaustus.” The passage runs (Scene xvi. (a)):—
Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough
That sometime grew within this learned man:
Faustus is gone.
Lamb gives it in his
Dramatic Specimens. Goethe admired Lamb’s sonnet on his family name.

“Manchester.” Ainsworth was still a solicitor’s pupil at Manchester. The letter is addressed to him at 10 King’s Street in that city.]

[Dated at end: December 20, (1823).]

MY dear Sir—You talk of months at a time and I know not what inducements to visit Manchester, Heaven knows how gratifying! but I have had my little month of 1823 already. It is all over, and without incurring a disagreeable favor I cannot so much as get a single holyday till the season returns with the next year. Even our half-hour’s absences from office are set down in a Book! Next year, if I can spare a day or two of it, I will come to Manchester, but I have reasons at home against longer absences.—I am so ill just at present—(an illness of my own procuring last night; who is Perfect?)—that nothing but your very great kindness could make me write. I will bear in mind the letter to W. W., you shall have it quite in time, before the 12.

My aking and confused Head warns me to leave off.—With a muddled sense of gratefulness, which I shall apprehend more clearly to-morrow, I remain, your friend unseen,

C. L.
I. H. 29th.

Will your occasions or inclination bring you to London? It will give me great pleasure to show you every thing that Islington can boast, if you know the meaning of that very Cockney sound. We have the New River!

I am asham’d of this scrawl: but I beg you to accept it for the present. I am full of qualms.

A fool at 50 is a fool indeed.


[W. W. was Wordsworth.

“A fool at 50 is a fool indeed.” “A fool at forty is a fool indeed” was Young’s line in Satire II. of the series on “Love of Fame.Lamb was nearing forty-nine.]