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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1825

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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Produced by CATH
[p.m. January 11, 1825.]

MY Dear Sir—Pray return my best thanks to your father for his little volume. It is like all of his I have seen, spirited, good humoured, and redolent of the wit and humour of a century ago. He should have lived with Gay and his set. The Chessiad is so clever that I relish’d it, in spite of my total ignorance of the game. I have it not before me, but I remember a capital simile of the Charwoman letting in her Watchman husband, which is better than Butler’s Lobster turned to Red. Hazard is a grand Character, Jove in his Chair. When you are disposed to leave your one room for my six, Colebrooke is where it was, and my sister begs me to add that as she is disappointed of meeting your sister your way, we shall be most happy to see her our way, when you have an
eveng, to spare. Do not stand on ceremonies and introductions, but come at once. I need not say that if you can induce your father to join the party, it will be so much the pleasanter. Can you name an evening next week? I give you long credit.

Meantime am
as usual
yours truly
C. L.
E. I. H.
11 Jan. 25.

When I saw the Chessiad advertised by C. D. the Younger, I hoped it might be yours. What title is left for you—

Charles Dibdin the Younger, Junior.

O No, you are Timothy.


[Charles Dibdin the Younger wrote a mock-heroic poem, “The Chessiad,” which was published with Comic Tales in 1825. The simile of the charwoman runs thus:—
Now Morning, yawning, rais’d her from her bed,
Slipp’d on her wrapper blue and ’kerchief red,
And took from Night the key of Sleep’s abode;
For Night within that mansion had bestow’d
The Hours of day; now, turn and turn about,
Morn takes the key and lets the Day-hours out;
Laughing, they issue from the ebon gate,
And Night walks in. As when, in drowsy state,
Some watchman, wed to one who chars all day,
Takes to his lodging’s door his creeping way;
His rib, arising, lets him in to sleep,
While she emerges to scrub, dust, and sweep.

This is the lobster simile in Hudibras, Part II., Canto 2, lines 29-32:—
The sun had long since, in the lap
Of Thetis, taken out his nap,
And, like a lobster boiled, the morn
From black to red began to turn.

Hazard is the chief of the gods in the Chessiad’s little drama.

“You are Timothy.” See page 611.

I have included in Vol. I. of the present edition a review of Dibdin’s book, in the New Times, January 27, 1825, which both from internal evidence and from the quotation of the charwoman passage I take to be by Lamb, who was writing for that paper at that time.]

[p.m. January 20, 1825.]

The brevity of this is owing to scratching it off at my desk amid expected interruptions. By habit, I can write Letters only at office.

DEAR Miss H. Thank you for a noble Goose, which wanted only the massive Encrustation that we used to pick-axe open about this season in old Gloster Place. When shall we eat another Goosepye together? The pheasant too must not be forgotten, twice as big and half as good as a partridge. You ask about the editor of the Lond. I know of none. This first specimen is flat and pert enough to justify subscribers who grudge at t’other shilling. De Quincey’s Parody was submitted to him before printed, and had his Probatum. The “Horns” is in a poor taste, resembling the most laboured papers in the Spectator. I had sign’d it “Jack Horner:” but Taylor and Hessey said, it would be thought an offensive article, unless I put my known signature to it; and wrung from me my slow consent. But did you read the “Memoir of Liston”? and did you guess whose it was? Of all the Lies I ever put off I value this most. It is from top to toe, every paragraph, Pure Invention; and has passed for Gospel, has been republished in newspapers, and in the penny play-bills of the Night, as an authentic Account. I shall certainly go to the Naughty Man some day for my Fibbings. In the next No. I figure as a Theologian! and have attacked my late brethren, the Unitarians. What Jack Pudding tricks I shall play next, I know not. I am almost at the end of my Tether.

Coleridge is quite blooming; but his Book has not budded yet. I hope I have spelt Torquay right now, and that this will find you all mending, and looking forward to a London flight with the Spring. Winter we have had none, but plenty of foul weather. I have lately pick’d up an Epigram which pleased me.
Two noble Earls, whom if I quote,
Some folks might call me Sinner;
The one invented half a coat;
The other half a dinner.
The plan was good, as some will say
And fitted to console one:
Because, in this poor starving day,
Few can afford a whole one.


I have made the Lame one still lamer by imperfect memory, but spite of bald diction, a little done to it might improve it into a good one. You have nothing else to do at [“Talk kayhere written and scratched out] Torquay. Suppose you try it. Well God bless you all, as wishes Mary, [most] sincerely, with many thanks for Letter &c.


[Addressed “For Miss Hutchinson, T. Monkhouse Esqre., Torquay, Devonshire.”

The Monkhouses’ house in London was at 34 Gloucester Place.

Lamb’s De Quincey parody was the “Letter to an Old Gentleman, whose Education has been Neglected”.

Coleridge’s book”—the Aids to Reflection, published in May or June, 1825.

“I have lately pick’d up an Epigram.” This is by Henry Man, an old South-Sea House clerk, whom in his South-Sea House essay Lamb mentions as a wit. The epigram, which refers to Lord Spencer and Lord Sandwich, will be found in Man’s Miscellaneous Works, 1802.]

[p.m. Jan. 25, 1825.]

DEAR Corelli, My sister’s cold is as obstinate as an old Handelian, whom a modern amateur is trying to convert to Mozart-ism. As company must & always does injure it, Emma and I propose to come to you in the evening of tomorrow, instead of meeting here. An early bread-and-cheese supper at ½ past eight will oblige us. Loves to the Bearer of many Children.

C. Lamb.

I sign with a black seal, that you may begin to think, her cold has killed Mary, which will be an agreeable unsurprise when you read the Note.


[This is the first letter to Novello, who was the peculiar champion of Mozart and Haydn. Lamb calls him Corelli after Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713), the violinist and composer. It was part of a
joke between Lamb and Novello that Lamb should affect to know a great deal about music. See the
Elia essay “A Chapter on Ears” for a description of Novello’s playing. Mrs. Novello was the mother of eleven children.]

[Dated at end: 10 February, 1825.]

DEAR B. B.—I am vexed that ugly paper should have offended. I kept it as clear from objectionable phrases as possible, and it was Hessey’s fault, and my weakness, that it did not appear anonymous. No more of it for God’s sake.

The Spirit of the Age is by Hazlitt. The characters of Coleridge, &c. he had done better in former publications, the praise and the abuse much stronger, &c. but the new ones are capitally done. Horne Tooke is a matchless portrait. My advice is, to borrow it rather than read [? buy] it. I have it. He has laid on too many colours on my likeness, but I have had so much injustice done me in my own name, that I make a rule of accepting as much over-measure to Elia as Gentlemen think proper to bestow. Lay it on and spare not.

Your Gentleman Brother sets my mouth a watering after Liberty. O that I were kicked out of Leadenhall with every mark of indignity, and a competence in my fob. The birds of the air would not be so free as I should. How I would prance and curvet it, and pick up cowslips, and ramble about purposeless as an ideot! The Author-mometer is a good fancy. I have caused great speculation in the dramatic (not thy) world by a Lying Life of Liston, all pure invention. The Town has swallowed it, and it is copied into News Papers, Play Bills, etc., as authentic. You do not know the Droll, and possibly missed reading the article (in our 1st No., New Series). A life more improbable for him to have lived would not be easily invented. But your rebuke, coupled with “Dream on J. Bunyan,” checks me. I’d rather do more in my favorite way, but feel dry. I must laugh sometimes. I am poor Hypochondriacus, and not Liston.

Our 2nd No is all trash. What are T. and H. about? It is whip syllabub, “thin sown with aught of profit or delight.” Thin sown! not a germ of fruit or corn. Why did poor Scott die! There was comfort in writing with such associates as were his little
band of Scribblers, some gone away, some affronted away, and I am left as the solitary widow looking for water cresses.

The only clever hand they have is Darley, who has written on the Dramatists, under name of John Lacy. But his function seems suspended.

I have been harassed more than usually at office, which has stopt my correspondence lately. I write with a confused aching head, and you must accept this apology for a Letter.

I will do something soon if I can as a peace offering to the Queen of the East Angles. Something she shan’t scold about.

For the Present, farewell.

C. L.
10 Feb. 1825.

I am fifty years old this day. Drink my health.


[“That ugly paper” was “A Vision of Horns.”

Hazlitt’s Spirit of the Age had just been published, containing criticisms, among others, of Coleridge, Horne Tooke and Lamb. Lamb was very highly praised. Here is a passage from the article:—

How admirably he has sketched the former inmates of the South-Sea House; what “fine fretwork he makes of their double and single entries!” With what a firm yet subtle pencil he has embodied “Mrs. Battle’s Opinions on Whist!” How notably he embalms a battered beau; how delightfully an amour, that was cold forty years ago, revives in his pages! With what well-disguised humour he introduces us to his relations, and how freely he serves up his friends! Certainly, some of his portraits are fixtures, and will do to hang up as lasting and lively emblems of human infirmity. Then there is no one who has so sure an ear for “the chimes at midnight,” not even excepting Mr. Justice Shallow; nor could Master Silence himself take his “cheese and pippins” with a more significant and satisfactory air. With what a gusto Mr. Lamb describes the Inns and Courts of law, the Temple and Gray’s Inn, as if he had been a student there for the last two hundred years, and had been as well acquainted with the person of Sir Francis Bacon as he is with his portrait or writings! It is hard to say whether St. John’s Gate is connected with more intense and authentic associations in his mind, as a part of old London Wall, or as the frontispiece (time out of mind) of the Gentleman’s Magazine. He hunts Watling Street like a gentle spirit; the avenues to the play-houses are thick with panting recollections; and Christ’s Hospital still breathes the balmy breath of infancy in his description of it!

“Your Gentleman Brother”—John Barton, Bernard’s younger half-brother.

“The Author-mometer.” I have not discovered to what Lamb refers.

“Dream on J. Bunyan.” Probably a poem by Barton, but I have not traced it.

“Thin sown,” etc. See note on page 653.


“T. and H.”—Taylor & Hessey.

“Poor Scott”—John Scott, who founded the London Magazine (see note on page 434).

“Darley”—George Darley (1795-1846), author of Sylvia; or, The May Queen, 1827.

“The Queen of the East Angles.” Possibly Lucy Barton, possibly Anne Knight, a friend of Barton’s.]

[Not dated. ? February, 1825.]

MY dear M.,—You might have come inopportunely a week since, when we had an inmate. At present and for as long as ever you like, our castle is at your service. I saw Tuthill yesternight, who has done for me what may
“To all my nights and days to come,
Give solely sovran sway and masterdom.”
But I dare not hope, for fear of disappointment. I cannot be more explicit at present. But I have it under his own hand, that I am non-capacitated (I cannot write it in-) for business. O joyous imbecility! Not a susurration of this to anybody!

Mary’s love.
C. Lamb.

[Lamb had just taken a most momentous step in his career and had consulted Tuthill as to his health, in the hope of perhaps obtaining release and a pension from the East India House. We learn more of this soon.

“To all my nights and days . . .” See “Macbeth,” I., 5, 70, 71.

Here might come two brief notes to Dibdin, of no importance.]

[Dated at end: March 1, 1825.]

DEAR Miss Hutchinson, Your news has made us all very sad. I had my hopes to the last. I seem as if I were disturbing you at such an awful time even by a reply. But I must acknow-
ledge your kindness in presuming upon the interest we shall all feel on the subject. No one will more feel it than
Robinson, to whom I have written. No one more than he and we acknowleged the nobleness and worth of what we have lost. Words are perfectly idle. We can only pray for resignation to the Survivors. Our dearest expressions of condolence to Mrs. M—— at this time in particular. God bless you both. I have nothing of ourselves to tell you, and if I had, I could not be so unreverent as to trouble you with it. We are all well, that is all. Farewell, the departed—and the left. Your’s and his, while memory survives, cordially

C. Lamb.
1 Mar. 1825.

[The letter refers to the death of Thomas Monkhouse.

Here should come an undated note from Lamb to Procter, in which Lamb refers to the same loss: “We shall be most glad to see you, though more glad to have seen double you.”]

[p.m. March 23, 1825.]

DEAR B. B.—I have had no impulse to write, or attend to any single object but myself, for weeks past. My single self. I by myself I. I am sick of hope deferred. The grand wheel is in agitation that is to turn up my Fortune, but round it rolls and will turn up nothing. I have a glimpse of Freedom, of becoming a Gentleman at large, but I am put off from day to day. I have offered my resignation, and it is neither accepted nor rejected. Eight weeks am I kept in this fearful suspence. Guess what an absorbing stake I feel it. I am not conscious of the existence of friends present or absent. The E. I. Directors alone can be that thing to me—or not.—

I have just learn’d that nothing will be decided this week. Why the next? Why any week? It has fretted me into an itch of the fingers, I rub ’em against Paper and write to you, rather than not allay this Scorbuta.

While I can write, let me adjure you to have no doubts of Irving. Let Mr. Mitford drop his disrespect. Irving has prefixed
a dedication (
of a Missionary Subject 1st part) to Coleridge, the most beautiful cordial and sincere. He there acknowledges his obligation to S. T. C. for his knowledge of Gospel truths, the nature of a Xtian Church, etc., to the talk of S. T. C. (at whose Gamaliel feet he sits weekly) [more] than to that of all the men living. This from him—The great dandled and petted Sectarian—to a religious character so equivocal in the world’s Eye as that of S. T. C., so foreign to the Kirk’s estimate!—Can this man be a Quack? The language is as affecting as the Spirit of the Dedication. Some friend told him, “This dedication will do you no Good,” i.e. not in the world’s repute, or with your own People. “That is a reason for doing it,” quoth Irving.

I am thoroughly pleased with him. He is firm, outspeaking, intrepid—and docile as a pupil of Pythagoras.

You must like him.

Yours, in tremors of painful hope,

C. Lamb.

[In the first paragraphs Lamb refers to the great question of his release from the India House.

For Irving see note to Letter 340. In a letter of Mary Russell Mitford, who looked upon Irving as quack absolute, dated February 19, 1825, we find her discussing the preacher with Charles Lamb.]

[March 29], 1825.

I HAVE left the d——d India House for Ever!

Give me great joy.
C. Lamb.

[Robinson states in his Reminiscences of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Lamb, preserved in MS. at Dr. Williams’ Library: “A most important incident in Lamb’s life, tho’ in the end not so happy for him as he anticipated, was his obtaining his discharge, with a pension of almost £4OO a year, from the India House. This he announced to me by a note put into my letter box: ‘I have left the India House. D—— Time. I’m all for eternity.’ He was
rather more than 50 years of age. I found him and his Sister in high spirits when I called to wish them joy on the 22 of April. ‘I never saw him so calmly cheerful,’ says my journal, ‘as he seemed then.’” See the next letters for
Lamb’s own account of the event.]

Colebrook Cottage,
6 April, 1825.

DEAR Wordsworth, I have been several times meditating a letter to you concerning the good thing which has befallen me, but the thought of poor Monkhouse came across me. He was one that I had exulted in the prospect of congratulating me. He and you were to have been the first participators, for indeed it has been ten weeks since the first motion of it.

Here I am then after 33 years slavery, sitting in my own room at 11 o’clock this finest of all April mornings a freed man, with £441 a year for the remainder of my life, live I as long as John Dennis, who outlived his annuity and starved at 90. £441, i.e. £450, with a deduction of £9 for a provision secured to my sister, she being survivor, the Pension guaranteed by Act Georgii Tertii, &c.

I came home for ever on Tuesday in last week. The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelm’d me. It was like passing from life into Eternity. Every year to be as long as three, i.e. to have three times as much real time, time that is my own, in it! I wandered about thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not. But that tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to understand the nature of the gift. Holydays, even the annual month, were always uneasy joys: their conscious fugitiveness—the craving after making the most of them. Now, when all is holyday, there are no holydays. I can sit at home in rain or shine without a restless impulse for walkings. I am daily steadying, and shall soon find it as natural to me to be my own master, as it has been irksome to have had a master. Mary wakes every morning with an obscure feeling that some good has happened to us.

Leigh Hunt and Montgomery after their releasements describe the shock of their emancipation much as I feel mine. But it hurt their frames. I eat, drink, and sleep sound as ever. I lay no anxious schemes for going hither and thither, but take things as they occur. Yesterday I excursioned 20 miles, to day I write a few letters.
Pleasuring was for fugitive play days, mine are fugitive only in the sense that life is fugitive. Freedom and life co-existent.

At the foot of such a call upon you for gratulation, I am ashamd to advert to that melancholy event. Monkhouse was a character I learnd to love slowly, but it grew upon me, yearly, monthly, daily. What a chasm has it made in our pleasant parties! His noble friendly face was always coming before me, till this hurrying event in my life came, and for the time has absorpt all interests. In fact it has shaken me a little. My old desk companions with whom I have had such merry hours seem to reproach me for removing my lot from among them. They were pleasant creatures, but to the anxieties of business, and a weight of possible worse ever impending, I was not equal. Tuthill and Gilman gave me my certificates. I laughed at the friendly lie implied in them, but my sister shook her head and said it was all true. Indeed this last winter I was jaded out, winters were always worse than other parts of the year, because the spirits are worse, and I had no daylight. In summer I had daylight evenings. The relief was hinted to me from a superior power, when I poor slave had not a hope but that I must wait another 7 years with Jacob—and lo! the Rachel which I coveted is brot. to me—

Have you read the noble dedication of Irving’sMissionary Orations” to S. T. C. Who shall call this man a Quack hereafter? What the Kirk will think of it neither I nor Irving care. When somebody suggested to him that it would not be likely to do him good, videlicet among his own people, “That is a reason for doing it” was his noble answer.

That Irving thinks he has profited mainly by S. T. C., I have no doubt. The very style of the Ded. shows it.

Communicate my news to Southey, and beg his pardon for my being so long acknowledging his kind present of the “Church,” which circumstances I do not wish to explain, but having no reference to himself, prevented at the time. Assure him of my deep respect and friendliest feelings.

Divide the same, or rather each take the whole to you, I mean you and all yours. To Miss Hutchinson I must write separate. What’s her address? I want to know about Mrs. M.

Farewell! and end at last, long selfish Letter!

C. Lamb.

[Lamb expanded the first portion of this letter into the Elia essay “The Superannuated Man,” which ought to be read in connection with it (see Vol. II. of the present edition).

“Now when all is holyday.” Shakespeare had written:—
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work.
I. Henry IV.,” I., 2, 227-228.

Leigh Hunt and James Montgomery, the poet, had both undergone imprisonment for libel.

At a Court of Directors of the India House held on March 29, 1825, it was resolved “that the resignation of Mr. Charles Lamb of the Accountant General’s Office, on account of certified ill-health, be accepted, and, it appearing that he has served the Company faithfully for 33 years, and is now in the receipt of an income of £730 per annum, he be allowed a pension of £450 (four hundred and fifty pounds) per annum, under the provisions of the act of the 53 Geo. III., cap. 155, to commence from this day.”]

[p.m. April 6, 1825.]

DEAR B. B.—My spirits are so tumultuary with the novelty of my recent emancipation, that I have scarce steadiness of hand, much more mind, to compose a letter.

I am free, B. B.—free as air.
The little bird that wings the sky
Knows no such Liberty!
I was set free on Tuesday in last week at 4 o’Clock.
I came home for ever!

I have been describing my feelings as well as I can to Wordswth. in a long letter, and don’t care to repeat. Take it briefly that for a few days I was painfully oppressed by so mighty a change, but it is becoming daily more natural to me.

I went and sat among ’em all at my old 33 years desk yester morning; and deuce take me if I had not yearnings at leaving all my old pen and ink fellows, merry sociable lads, at leaving them in the Lurch, fag, fag, fag.

The comparison of my own superior felicity gave me any thing but pleasure.

B. B., I would not serve another 7 years for seven hundred thousand pounds!

I have got £441 net for life, sanctioned by Act of Parliament, with a provision for Mary if she survives me.

I will live another 50 years; or, if I live but 10, they will be
1825“BARBARA S.”677
thirty, reckoning the quantity of real time in them, i.e. the time that is a man’s own.

Tell me how you like “Barbara S.”—will it be received in atonement for the foolish Vision, I mean by the Lady?

Apropos, I never saw Mrs. Crauford in my life, nevertheless ’tis all true of Somebody. Address me in future
Colebrook Cottage,

I am really nervous (but that will wear off) so take this brief announcement.

Yours truly
C. L.

[“The little bird . . .” This is Lamb’s version of Lovelace’s
The birds that wanton in the air
Know no such liberty,
in the poem “
To Althea, from Prison.”

Barbara S——,” the Elia essay, was printed in the London Magazine April, 1825 (see Vol. II. of this edition). It purports to be an incident in the life of Mrs. Crawford, the actress, but had really happened to Fanny Kelly.

The following letter tells the story of Lamb’s emancipation once more:—]

[p.m. April 18, 1825.]

DEAR Miss Hutchinson—You want to know all about my gaol delivery. Take it then. About 12 weeks since I had a sort of intimation that a resignation might be well accepted from me. This was a kind bird’s whisper. On that hint I spake. Gilman and Tuthill furnishd me with certificates of wasted health and sore spirits—not much more than the truth, I promise you—and for 9 weeks I was kept in a fright—I had gone too far to recede, and they might take advantage and dismiss me with a much less sum than I had reckoned on. However Liberty came at last with a liberal provision. I have given up what I could have lived on in the country, but have enough to live here by managemt. and scribbling occasionally. I would not go back to my prison for seven
years longer for £10000 a year. 7 years after one is 50 is no trifle to give up. Still I am a young Pensioner, and have served but 33 years, very few I assure you retire before 40, 45, or 50 years’ service.

You will ask how I bear my freedom. Faith, for some days I was staggered. Could not comprehend the magnitude of my deliverance, was confused, giddy, knew not whether I was on my head or my heel as they say. But those giddy feelings have gone away, and my weather glass stands at a degree or two above

I go about quiet, and have none of that restless hunting after recreation which made holydays formerly uneasy joys. All being holydays, I feel as if I had none, as they do in heaven, where ’tis all red letter days.

I have a kind letter from the Wordswths congratulatory not a little.

It is a damp, I do assure you, amid all my prospects that I can receive none from a quarter upon which I had calculated, almost more than from any, upon receiving congratulations. I had grown to like poor M. more and more. I do not esteem a soul living or not living more warmly than I had grown to esteem and value him. But words are vain. We have none of us to count upon many years. That is the only cure for sad thoughts. If only some died, and the rest were permanent on earth, what a thing a friend’s death would be then!

I must take leave, having put off answering [a load] of letters to this morning, and this, alas! is the 1st. Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. Monkhouse and believe us

Yours most Truly,
C. Lamb.
[p.m. May 2, 1825.]

DEAR Hone,—I send you a trifle; you have seen my lines, I suppose, in the “London.” I cannot tell you how much I like the “St. Chad Wells.

Yours truly
C. Lamb.

P.S. Why did you not stay, or come again, yesterday?


[These words accompany Lamb’s contribution, “Remarkable Correspondent,” to Hone’s Every-Day Book (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 297). Lamb was helping Hone in his new venture as much as he was able; and Hone in return dedicated the first volume to him. “St. Chad’s Wells” was an article by Hone in the number for March 2.]

[No date. May, 1825.]

DEAR W. I write post-hoste to ensure a frank. Thanks for your hearty congratulations. I may now date from the 6th week of my Hegira or Flight from Leadenhall. I have lived so much in it, that a Summer seems already past, and ’tis but early May yet with you and other people. How I look down on the Slaves and drudges of the world! its inhabitants are a vast cottonweb of spin spin spinners. O the carking cares! O the money-grubbers—sempiternal muckworms!

Your Virgil I have lost sight of, but suspect it is in the hands of Sir G. Beaumont. I think that circumstances made me shy of procuring it before. Will you write to him about it? and your commands shall be obeyed to a tittle.

Coleridge has just finishd his prize Essay, which if it get the Prize he’ll touch an additional £100 I fancy. His Book too (commentary on Bishop Leighton) is quite finished and penes Taylor and Hessey.

In the London which is just out (1st May) are 2 papers entitled the Superannuated Man, which I wish you to see, and also 1st Apr. a little thing called Barbara S—— a story gleaned from Miss Kelly. The L. M. if you can get it will save my enlargement upon the topic of my manumission.

I must scribble to make up my hiatus crumenæ, for there are so many ways, pious and profligate, of getting rid of money in this vast city and suburbs that I shall miss my third: but couragio. I despair not. Your kind hint of the Cottage was well thrown out. An anchorage for age and school of economy when necessity comes. But without this latter I have an unconquerable terror of changing Place. It does not agree with us. I say it from conviction. Else—I do sometimes ruralize in fancy.


Some d——d people axe come in and I must finish abruptly. By d——d, I only mean deuced. Tis these suitors of Penelope that make it necessary to authorise a little for gin and mutton and such trifles.

Excuse my abortive scribble.

Yours not in more haste than heart

C. L.

Love and recollects to all the Wms. Doras, Maries round your Wrekin.

Mary is capitally well.

Do write to Sir G. B. for I am shyish of applying to him.


[Coleridge had been appointed to one of the ten Royal Associateships of the newly chartered Royal Society of Literature, thus becoming entitled to an annuity of 100 guineas. An essay was expected from each associate. Coleridge wrote on the Prometheus of Æschylus, and read it on May 18. His book was Aids to Reflection. See note on page 687.

Hiatus crumenæ”—“Deficiency in my purse.”

“I shall miss my thirds.” Lamb’s pension was two-thirds of his stipend.

“Some d——d people.” A hint for Lamb’s Popular Fallacy on Home, soon to be written.

“Round your Wrekin.” Lamb repeats this phrase twice in the next few months. He got it from the Dedication to Farquhar’s play “The Recruiting Officer”—“To all friends round the Wrekin”].

[Undated. ? May, 1825.]

WITH regard to a John-dory, which you desire to be particularly informed about, I honour the fish, but it is rather on account of Quin who patronised it, and whose taste (of a dead man) I had as lieve go by as anybody’s (Apicius and Heliogabalus excepted—this latter started nightingales’ tongues and peacocks’ brains as a garnish).

Else in itself, and trusting to my own poor single judgment, it hath not that moist mellow oleaginous gliding smooth descent from the tongue to the palate, thence to the stomach, &c., that your Brighton Turbot hath, which I take to be the most friendly and
familiar flavor of any that swims—most genial and at home to the palate.

Nor has it on the other hand that fine falling off flakiness, that oleaginous peeling off (as it were, like a sea onion), which endears your cod’s head & shoulders to some appetites; that manly firmness, combined with a sort of womanish coming-in-pieces, which the same cod’s head & shoulders hath, where the whole is easily separable, pliant to a knife or a spoon, but each individual flake presents a pleasing resistance to the opposed tooth. You understand me—these delicate subjects are necessarily obscure.

But it has a third flavor of its own, perfectly distinct from Cod or Turbot, which it must be owned may to some not injudicious palates render it acceptable—but to my unpractised tooth it presented rather a crude river-fish-flavor, like your Pike or Carp, and perhaps like them should have been tamed & corrected by some laborious & well chosen sauce. Still I always suspect a fish which requires so much of artificial settings-off. Your choicest relishes (like nature’s loveliness) need not the foreign aid of ornament, but are when unadorned (that is, with nothing but a little plain anchovy & a squeeze of lemon) then adorned the most. However, I shall go to Brighton again next Summer, and shall have an opportunity of correcting my judgment, if it is not sufficiently informed. I can only say that when Nature was pleased to make the John Dory so notoriously deficient in outward graces (as to be sure he is the very Rhinoceros of fishes, the ugliest dog that swims, except perhaps the Sea Satyr, which I never saw, but which they say is terrible), when she formed him with so few external advantages, she might have bestowed a more elaborate finish in his parts internal, & have given him a relish, a sapor, to recommend him, as she made Pope a Poet to make up for making him crooked.

I am sorry to find that you have got a knack of saying things which are not true to shew your wit. If I had no wit but what I must shew at the expence of my virtue or my modesty, I had as lieve be as stupid as * * * at the Tea Warehouse. Depend upon it, my dear Chambers, that an ounce of integrity at our death-bed will stand us in more avail than all the wit of Congreve or . . . For instance, you tell me a fine story about Truss, and his playing at Leamington, which I know to be false, because I have advice from Derby that he was whipt through the Town on that very day you say he appeared in some character or other, for robbing an old woman at church of a seal ring. And Dr. Parr has been two months dead. So it won’t do to scatter these untrue stories about among people that know any thing. Besides, your forte is not invention. It is judgment, particularly shown in your choice of dishes. We seem in that instance born under one star. I like you for
liking hare. I esteem you for disrelishing minced veal. Liking is too cold a word.—I love you for your noble attachment to the fat unctuous juices of deer’s flesh & the green unspeakable of turtle. I honour you for your endeavours to esteem and approve of my favorite, which I ventured to recommend to you as a substitute for hare, bullock’s heart, and I am not offended that you cannot taste it with my palate. A true son of
Epicurus should reserve one taste peculiar to himself. For a long time I kept the secret about the exceeding deliciousness of the marrow of boiled knuckle of veal, till my tongue weakly ran riot in its praises, and now it is prostitute & common.—But I have made one discovery which I will not impart till my dying scene is over, perhaps it will be my last mouthful in this world: delicious thought, enough to sweeten (or rather make savoury) the hour of death. It is a little square bit about this size in or near the knuckle bone of a fried [figure] joint of . . . fat I can’t call it nor lean neither altogether, it is that beautiful compound, which Nature must have made in Paradise Park venison, before she separated the two substances, the dry & the oleaginous, to punish sinful mankind; Adam ate them entire & inseparate, and this little taste of Eden in the knuckle bone of a fried . . . seems the only relique of a Paradisaical state. When I die, an exact description of its topography shall be left in a cupboard with a key, inscribed on which these words, “C. Lamb dying imparts this to C. Chambers as the only worthy depository of such a secret.” You’ll drop a tear. . . .


[Charles Chambers was the brother of John Chambers (see page 518). He had been at Christ’s Hospital with Lamb and subsequently became a surgeon in the Navy. He retired to Leamington and practised there until his death, somewhen about 1857, says Mr. Hazlitt. He seems to have inherited some of the epicure’s tastes of his father, the “sensible clergyman in Warwickshire” who, Lamb tells us in “Thoughts on Presents of Game,” “used to allow a pound of Epping to every hare.”

The phrase “when unadorned” &c. is from Thomson’s Seasons, “Autumn,” line 204.


This letter adds one more to the list of Lamb’s gustatory raptures, and it is remarkable as being his only eulogy of fish. Mr. Hazlitt says that the date September 1, 1817, has been added by another hand; but if the remark about Dr. Parr is true (he died March 6, 1825) the time is as I have stated. Fortunately the date in this particular case is unimportant. Mr. Hazlitt suggests that the stupid person in the Tea Warehouse was Bye, whom we met last in Letter 235.

Of Truss we know nothing. The name may be a misreading of Twiss (Horace Twiss, 1787-1849, politician, buffoon and Mrs. Siddons’ nephew), who was quite a likely person to be lied about in joke at that time.]

[? June, 1825.]

MY dear Coleridge,—With pain and grief, I must entreat you to excuse us on Thursday. My head, though externally correct, has had a severe concussion in my long illness, and the very idea of an engagement hanging over for a day or two, forbids my rest; and I get up miserable. I am not well enough for company. I do assure you, no other thing prevents my coming. I expect Field and his brother’s this or to-morrow evening, and it worries me to death that I am not ostensibly ill enough to put ’em off. I will get better, when I shall hope to see your nephew. He will come again. Mary joins in best love to the Gillmans. Do, I earnestly entreat you, excuse me. I assure you, again, that I am not fit to go out yet.

Yours (though shattered),

C. Lamb.

[This letter has previously been dated 1829, but I think wrongly. Lamb had no long illness then, and Field was then in Gibraltar, where he was Chief-Justice. Lamb’s long illness was in 1825, when Coleridge’s Thursday evenings at Highgate were regular. Coleridge’s nephew may have been one of several. I fancy it was the Rev. Edward Coleridge. Henry Nelson Coleridge had already left, I think, for the West Indies.]

[Dated at end: June 14 (? 1825).]

DEAR Sir, I am quite ashamed, after your kind letter, of having expressed any disappointment about my remuneration. It is quite equivalent to the value of any thing I have yet sent you. I had Twenty Guineas a sheet from the London; and what I did for them was more worth that sum, than any thing, I am afraid, I can now produce, would be worth the lesser sum. I used up all my best thoughts in that publication, and I do not like to go on writing worse & worse, & feeling that I do so. I want to try something else. However, if any subject turns up, which I think will do your Magazine no discredit, you shall have it at your price, or something between that and my old price. I prefer writing to seeing you just now, for after such a letter as I have received from you, in truth I am ashamed to see you. We will never mention the thing again.

Your obliged friend & Servt
C. Lamb.
June 14.

[In the absence of any wrapper I have assumed this note to be addressed to Colburn, the publisher of the New Monthly Magazine. Lamb’s first contribution to that periodical was “The Illustrious Defunct” (see Vol. I. of this edition) in January, 1825. A year later he began the “Popular Fallacies,” and continued regularly for some months.]

[p.m. July 2, 1825.]

DEAR C.—We are going off to Enfield, to Allsop’s, for a day or 2, with some intention of succeeding them in their lodging for a time, for this damn’d nervous Fever (vide Lond. Mag. for July) indisposes me for seeing any friends, and never any poor devil was so befriended as I am. Do you know any poor solitary human that
wants that cordial to life a—true friend? I can spare him twenty, he shall have ’em good cheap. I have gallipots of ’em—genuine balm of cares—a going—a going—a going. Little plagues plague me a 1000 times more than ever. I am like a disembodied soul—in this my eternity. I feel every thing entirely, all in all and all in etc. This price I pay for liberty, but am richly content to pay it. The
Odes are 4-5ths done by Hood, a silentish young man you met at Islinton one day, an invalid. The rest are Reynolds’s, whose sister H. has recently married. I have not had a broken finger in them.

They are hearty good-natured things, and I would put my name to ’em chearfully, if I could as honestly. I complimented them in a Newspaper, with an abatement for those puns you laud so. They are generally an excess. A Pun is a thing of too much consequence to be thrown in as a make-weight. You shall read one of the addresses over, and miss the puns, and it shall be quite as good and better than when you discover ’em. A Pun is a Noble Thing per se: O never lug it in as an accessory. A Pun is a sole object for reflection (vide my aids to that recessment from a savage state)—it is entire, it fills the mind: it is perfect as a Sonnet, better. It limps asham’d in the train and retinue of Humour: it knows it should have an establishment of its own. The one, for instance, I made the other day, I forget what it was.

Hood will be gratify’d, as much as I am, by your mistake. I liked ‘Grimaldi’ the best; it is true painting, of abstract Clownery, and that precious concrete of a Clown: and the rich succession of images, and words almost such, in the first half of the Mag. Ignotum. Your picture of the Camel, that would not or could not thread your nice needle-eye of Subtilisms, was confiim’d by Elton, who perfectly appreciated his abrupt departure. Elton borrowed the “Aids” from Hessey (by the way what is your Enigma about Cupid? I am Cytherea’s son, if I understand a tittle of it), and returnd it next day saying that 20 years ago, when he was pure, he thought as you do now, but that he now thinks as you did 20 years ago. But E. seems a very honest fellow. Hood has just come in; his sick eyes sparkled into health when he read your approbation. They had meditated a copy for you, but postponed it till a neater 2d Edition, which is at hand.

Have you heard the Creature at the Opera House—Signor Nonvir sed veluti Vir?

Like Orpheus, he is said to draw storks &c. after him. A picked raisin for a sweet banquet of sounds; but I affect not these exotics. Nos durum genus, as mellifluous Ovid hath it.

Fanny Holcroft is just come in, with her paternal severity of aspect. She has frozen a bright thought which should have follow’d. She makes us marble, with too little conceiving. ’Twas
respecting the Signor, whom I honour on this side idolatry. Well, more of this anon.

We are setting out to walk to Enfield after our Beans and Bacon, which are just smoking.

Kindest remembrances to the G.’s ever.

From Islinton,

2d day, 3d month of my Hegira or Flight from Leadenhall.

C. L.Olim Clericus.

[“To Allsop’s.” Allsop says in his Letters ... of Coleridge that he and the Lambs were housemates for a long time.

“Vide Lond. Mag. for July”—where the Elia essay “The Convalescent” was printed.

“The Odes”—Odes and Addresses to Great People, 1825. Coleridge after reading the book had written to Lamb as follows (the letter is printed by Hood):—

My Dear Charles,—This afternoon, a little, thin, meanlooking sort of a foolscap, sub-octavo of poems, printed on very dingy outsides, lay on the table, which the cover informed me was circulating in our book-club, so very Grub-Streetish in all its appearance, internal as well as external, that I cannot explain by what accident of impulse (assuredly there was no motive in play) I came to look into it. Least of all, the title, Odes and Addresses to Great Men, which connected itself in my head with Rejected Addresses, and all the Smith and Theodore Hook squad. But, my dear Charles, it was certainly written by you, or under you, or una cum you. I know none of your frequent visitors capacious and assimilative enough of your converse to have reproduced you so honestly, supposing you had left yourself in pledge in his lock-up house. Gillman, to whom I read the spirited parody on the introduction to Peter Bell, the Ode to the Great Unknown, and to Mrs. Fry; he speaks doubtfully of Reynolds and Hood. But here come Irving and Basil Montagu.

Thursday night 10 o’clock.—No! Charles, it is you. I have read them over again, and I understand why you have anon’d the book. The puns are nine in ten good—many excellent—the Newgatory transcendent. And then the exemplum sine exemplo of a volume of personalities and contemporaneities, without a single line that could inflict the infinitesimal of an unpleasance on any man in his senses: saying and except perhaps in the envy-addled brain of the despiser of your Lays. If not a triumph over him, it is at least an ovation. Then, moreover, and besides, to speak with becoming modesty, excepting my own self, who is there but you who can write the musical lines and stanzas that are intermixed?

Here, Gillman, come up to my Garret, and driven back by the guardian spirits of four huge flower-holders of omnigenous roses and honeysuckles—(Lord have mercy on his hysterical olfactories! What will he do in Paradise? I must have a pair or two of nostril-plugs, or nose-goggles laid in his coffin)—stands at the door, reading that to M’Adam, and the washer-woman’s letter, and he admits the facts. You are found in the manner, as the lawyers say! so, Mr. Charles! hang yourself up, and send me a line, by way of token and acknowledgment. My dear love to Mary. God bless you and your Unshamabramizer.

S. T. Coleridge.

Reynolds was John Hamilton Reynolds. According to a marked copy in the possession of Mr. Buxton Forman, Reynolds wrote only
the odes to
Mr. M’Adam, Mr. Dymoke, Sylvanus Urban, Elliston and the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.

The newspaper in which Lamb complimented the book was the New Times, for April 12, 1825. See Vol. I. of the present edition, page 285, for the review, where the remarks on puns are repeated. The “Mag. Ignotum” was the ode to the Great Unknown, the author of the Scotch novels. In the same paper on January 8, 1825, Lamb had written an essay called “Many Friends” (see Vol. I., page 270) a little in the manner of this first paragraph.

“Your picture of the Camel.” Probably the story of a caller told by Coleridge to Lamb in a letter.

“Your Enigma about Cupid.” Possibly referring to the following passage in the Aids to Reflection, 1825, pages 277-278:—

From the remote East turn to the mythology of Minor Asia, to the Descendants of Javan who dwelt in the tents of Shem, and possessed the Isles. Here again, and in the usual form of an historic Solution, we find the same Fact, and as characteristic of the Human Race, stated in that earliest and most venerable Mythus (or symbolic Parable) of Prometheus—that truly wonderful Fable, in which the characters of the rebellious Spirit and of the Divine Friend of Mankind (Θέος ϕιλάνθρωπος) are united in the same Person: and thus in the most striking manner noting the forced amalgamation of the Patriarchal Tradition with the incongruous Scheme of Pantheism. This and the connected tale of Io, which is but the sequel of the Prometheus, stand alone in the Greek Mythology, in which elsewhere both Gods and Men are mere Powers and Products of Nature. And most noticeable it is, that soon after the promulgation and spread of the Gospel had awakened the moral sense, and had opened the eyes even of its wiser Enemies to the necessity of providing some solution of this great problem of the Moral World, the beautiful Parable of Cupid and Psyche was brought forward as a rival Fall of Man: and the fact of a moral corruption connatural with the human race was again recognized. In the assertion of Original Sin the Greek Mythology rose and set.

“Elton”—Charles Abraham Elton, whom we have already met.

“Have you heard the Creature?”—Giovanni Battista Velluti (1781-1861), an Italian soprano singer who first appeared in England on June 30, 1825, in Meyerbeer’s “Il Crociato in Egitto.” He received £2,500 for five months’ salary.

Nos durum genus”—
Inde genus durum sumus experiensque laborum.
Ovid, Metamorphoses, I., 414.

“On this side idolatry.” Ben Jonson’s phrase of Shakespeare. In Timber.

“Olim Clericus”—“Formerly a clerk.”]

[p.m. July 2, 1825.]

MY dear B. B.—My nervous attack has so unfitted me, that I have not courage to sit down to a Letter. My poor pittance in the London you will see is drawn from my sickness. Your Book is very acceptable to me, because most of it [is] new to me, but your Book itself we cannot thank you for more sincerely than for the introduction you favoured us with to Anne Knight. Now cannot I write Mrs. Anne Knight for the life of me. She is a very pleas—, but I won’t write all we have said of her so often to ourselves, because I suspect you would read it to her. Only give my sister’s and my kindest remembces to her, and how glad we are we can say that word. If ever she come to Southwark again I count upon another pleasant bridge walk with her. Tell her, I got home, time for a rubber; but poor Tryphena will not understand that phrase of the worldlings.

I am hardly able to appreciate your volume now. But I liked the dedicatn much, and the apology for your bald burying grounds. To Shelly, but that is not new. To the young Vesper-singer, Great Bealing’s, Playford, and what not?

If there be a cavil it is that the topics of religious consolation, however beautiful, are repeated till a sort of triteness attends them. It seems as if you were for ever losing friends’ children by death, and reminding their parents of the Resurrection. Do children die so often, and so good, in your parts? The topic, taken from the consideratn that they are snatch’d away from possible vanities, seems hardly sound; for to an omniscient eye their conditional failings must be one with their actual; but I am too unwell for Theology.

Such as I am, I am yours and A. K.’s truly

C. Lamb.

[“My poor pittance”—“The Convalescent.”

“Your Book”—Barton’s Poems, 4th edition, 1825. The dedication was to Barton’s sister, Maria Hack.

Anne Knight.” A Quaker lady, who kept a school at Woodbridge. Tryphena (Rom. xvi. 12) laboured in the Lord.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Hone, dated Enfield, July 25, 1825. Lamb had written some quatrains to the editor of the Every-Day Book, which were printed in the London Magazine
for May, 1825. Hone copied them into his periodical, accompanied by a reply. Lamb began:—
I like you, and your book, ingenuous Hone!
Hone’s reply contained the sentiment:—
I am “ingenuous”: it is all I can
Pretend to; it is all I wish to be.
See the Every-Day Book, Vol. I., July 9. Hone at this time was occupying Lamb’s house at Colebrooke Row, while the Lambs were staying at the
Allsops’ lodgings at Enfield.

In the letter Lamb also refers to his “petit farce.” Probably “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter” (see Vol. V. of this edition). He says it is at the theatre now and Harley is there too. This would be John Pritt Harley, the actor. He was connected both with Drury Lane and the Lyceum. In an earlier note to Hone (printed by Mr. Fitzgerald) Lamb had asked him to take the farce to the theatre.

See Appendix III page 974, for a note to John Aitken.]

[p.m. August 10, 1825.]

We shall be soon again at Colebrook.

DEAR B. B.—You must excuse my not writing before, when I tell you we are on a visit at Enfield, where I do not feel it natural to sit down to a Letter. It is at all times an exertion. I had rather talk with you, and Ann Knight, quietly at Colebrook Lodge, over the matter of your last. You mistake me when you express misgivings about my relishing a series of scriptural poems. I wrote confusedly. What I meant to say was, that one or two consolatory poems on deaths would have had a more condensed effect than many. Scriptural—devotional topics—admit of infinite variety. So far from poetry tiring me because religious, I can read, and I say it seriously, the homely old version of the Psalms in our Prayerbooks for an hour or two together sometimes without sense of weariness.

I did not express myself clearly about what I think a false topic insisted on so frequently in consolatory addresses on the death of Infants. I know something like it is in Scripture, but I think humanly spoken. It is a natural thought, a sweet fallacy to the
Survivors—but still a fallacy. If it stands on the doctrine of this being a probationary state, it is liable to this dilemma. Omniscience, to whom possibility must be clear as act, must know of the child, what it would hereafter turn out: if good, then the topic is false to say it is secured from falling into future wilfulness, vice, &c. If bad, I do not see how its exemption from certain future overt acts by being snatched away at all tells in its favor. You stop the arm of a murderer, or arrest the finger of a pickpurse, but is not the guilt incurred as much by the intent as if never so much acted? Why children are hurried off, and old reprobates of a hundred left, whose trial humanly we may think was complete at fifty, is among the obscurities of providence. The very notion of a state of probation has darkness in it. The all-knower has no need of satisfying his eyes by seeing what we will do, when he knows before what we will do. Methinks we might be condemn’d before commission. In these things we grope and flounder, and if we can pick up a little human comfort that the child taken is snatch’d from vice (no great compliment to it, by the bye), let us take it. And as to where an untried child goes, whether to join the assembly of its elders who have borne the heat of the day—fire-purified martyrs, and torment-sifted confessors—what know we? We promise heaven methinks too cheaply, and assign large revenues to minors, incompetent to manage them. Epitaphs run upon this topic of consolation, till the very frequency induces a cheapness. Tickets for admission into Paradise are sculptured out at a penny a letter, twopence a syllable, &c. It is all a mystery; and the more I try to express my meaning (having none that is clear) the more I flounder. Finally, write what your own conscience, which to you is the unerring judge, seems best, and be careless about the whimsies of such a half-baked notionist as I am. We are here in a most pleasant country, full of walks, and idle to our hearts desire. Taylor has dropt the London. It was indeed a dead weight. It has got in the Slough of Despond. I shuffle off my part of the pack, and stand like Xtian with light and merry shoulders. It had got silly, indecorous, pert, and every thing that is bad. Both our kind remembrances to
Mrs. K. and yourself, and stranger’s-greeting to Lucy—is it Lucy or Ruth?—that gathers wise sayings in a Book.

C. Lamb.

[The London Magazine passed into the hands of Henry Southern in September, 1825. Lamb’s last article for it was in the August number—“Imperfect Dramatic Illusion,” reprinted in the Last Essays of Elia as “Stage Illusion.”]

August 10, 1825.

DEAR Southey,—You’ll know who this letter comes from by opening slap-dash upon the text, as in the good old times. I never could come into the custom of envelopes; ’tis a modern foppery; the Plinian correspondence gives no hint of such. In singleness of sheet and meaning then I thank you for your little book. I am ashamed to add a codicil of thanks for your “Book of the Church.” I scarce feel competent to give an opinion of the latter; I have not reading enough of that kind to venture at it. I can only say the fact, that I have read it with attention and interest. Being, as you know, not quite a Churchman, I felt a jealousy at the Church taking to herself the whole deserts of Christianity, Catholic and Protestant, from Druid extirpation downwards. I call all good Christians the Church, Capillarians and all. But I am in too light a humour to touch these matters. May all our churches flourish! Two things staggered me in the poem (and one of them staggered both of us). I cannot away with a beautiful series of verses, as I protest they are, commencing “Jenner.” ’Tis like a choice banquet opened with a pill or an electuary—physic stuff. T’other is, we cannot make out how Edith should be no more than ten years old. Byr Lady, we had taken her to be some sixteen or upwards. We suppose you have only chosen the round number for the metre. Or poem and dedication may be both older than they pretend to; but then some hint might have been given; for, as it stands, it may only serve some day to puzzle the parish reckoning. But without inquiring further (for ’tis ungracious to look into a lady’s years), the dedication is eminently pleasing and tender, and we wish Edith May Southey joy of it. Something, too, struck us as if we had heard of the death of John May. A John May’s death was a few years since in the papers. We think the tale one of the quietest, prettiest things we have seen. You have been temperate in the use of localities, which generally spoil poems laid in exotic regions. You mostly cannot stir out (in such things) for humming-birds and fire-flies. A tree is a Magnolia, &c.—Can I but like the truly Catholic spirit? “Blame as thou mayest the Papist’s erring creed”—which and other passages brought me back to the old Anthology days and the admonitory lesson to “Dear George” on the “The Vesper Bell,” a little poem which retains its first hold upon me strangely.

The compliment to the translatress is daintily conceived. Nothing
is choicer in that sort of writing than to bring in some remote, impossible parallel,—as between a great empress and the inobtrusive quiet soul who digged her noiseless way so perseveringly through that rugged Paraguay mine. How she Dobrizhoffered it all out, it puzzles my slender Latinity to conjecture. Why do you seem to sanction
Landor’s unfeeling allegorising away of honest Quixote! He may as well say Strap is meant to symbolise the Scottish nation before the Union, and Random since that act of dubious issue; or that Partridge means the Mystical Man, and Lady Bellaston typifies the Woman upon Many Waters. Gebir, indeed, may mean the state of the hop markets last month, for anything I know to the contrary. That all Spain overflowed with romancical books (as Madge Newcastle calls them) was no reason that Cervantes should not smile at the matter of them; nor even a reason that, in another mood, he might not multiply them, deeply as he was tinctured with the essence of them. Quixote is the father of gentle ridicule, and at the same time the very depository and treasury of chivalry and highest notions. Marry, when somebody persuaded Cervantes that he meant only fun, and put him upon writing that unfortunate Second Part with the confederacies of that unworthy duke and most contemptible duchess, Cervantes sacrificed his instinct to his understanding.

We got your little book but last night, being at Enfield, to which place we came about a month since, and are having quiet holydays. Mary walks her twelve miles a day some days, and I my twenty on others. ’Tis all holiday with me now, you know. The change works admirably.

For literary news, in my poor way, I have a one-act farce going to be acted at the Haymarket; but when? is the question. ’Tis an extravaganza, and like enough to follow “Mr. H.” “The London Magazine” has shifted its publishers once more, and I shall shift myself out of it. It is fallen. My ambition is not at present higher than to write nonsense for the play-houses, to eke out a somewhat contracted income. Tempus erat. There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, when the Muse, &c. But I am now in Mac Fleckno’s predicament,—
“Promised a play, and dwindled to a farce.”

Coleridge is better (was, at least, a few weeks since) than he has been for years. His accomplishing his book at last has been a source of vigour to him. We are on a half visit to his friend Allsop, at a Mrs. Leishman’s, Enfield, but expect to be at Colebrooke Cottage in a week or so, where, or anywhere, I shall be always most happy to receive tidings from you. G. Dyer is in the height of an uxorious paradise. His honeymoon will not wane till he wax cold. Never
was a more happy pair, since Acme and Septimius, and longer. Farewell, with many thanks, dear
S. Our loves to all round your Wrekin.

Your old friend,
C. Lamb.

[In the letter to Barton on page 700 Lamb continues or amplifies his remarks on his own letter-writing habits.

“Capillarians.” The New English Dictionary gives Lamb’s word in this connection as its sole example, meaning without stem.

“The poem”—Southey’s Tale of Paraguay, 1825, which begins with an address to Jenner, the physiologist:—
Jenner! for ever shall thy honour’d name,
and is dedicated to
Edith May Southey
Edith! ten years are number’d, since the day.
Edith Southey was born in 1804. The dedication was dated 1814.

John May was Southey’s friend and correspondent. It was not he that had died.

“The Vesper Bell”—“The Chapel Bell,” which was not in the Annual Anthology, but in Southey’s Poems, 1797. Dear George would perhaps be Burnett, who was at Oxford with Southey when the verses were written (see the Appendix, page 956).

“The compliment to the translatress.” Southey took his Tale of Paraguay from Dobrizhoffer’s History of the Abipones, which his niece, Sara Coleridge, had translated (see Letter 293 and note). Southey remarks in the poem that could Dobrizhoffer have foreseen by whom his words were to be turned into English, he would have been as pleased as when he won the ear of the Empress Queen.

“Landor’s . . . allegorising.” Landor, in the conversation between “Peter Leopold and the President du Paty,” makes President du Paty say that Cervantes had deeper purpose than the satirising of knight-errants, Don Quixote standing for the Emperor Charles V. and Sancho Panza symbolising the people. Southey quoted the passage in the Notes to the Proem. Lamb’s Elia essay on the “Defect of Imagination” (see Vol. II., page 233) amplifies this criticism of Don Quixote.

Strap and Random are in Smollett’s Roderick Random, and Partridge and Lady Bellaston in Fielding’s Tom Jones.

“Madge Newcastle.” Lamb’s oft-extolled Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle.

“A one-act farce.” This was, I imagine, “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter,” although that is in two acts. It was not, however, acted.


“My dear Cornwallis.”
There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, when
The Muse would take me on her airy wing.
From a poem by
Sneyd Davis to the Hon. and Rev. F. C. in Dodsley’s Collection of Poems by Several Hands, vol. vi., p. 138. Edition 1766.

“Mac Fleckno’s predicament.” See Dryden’sMac-Flecknoe,” line 182.

George Dyer had just been married to the widow of a solicitor who lived opposite him in Clifford’s Inn.

“Acme and Septimius.” See Catullus, Carm. 45, “De Acme et Septimio;” the story of two fond and doating lovers.

Here should come three unimportant notes to Hone with reference to the Every-Day Book—adding an invitation to Enfield to be shown “dainty spots.”]

[p.m. Sept. 9 1825].

MY dear Allsop—We are exceedingly grieved for your loss. When your note came, my sister went to Pall Mall, to find you, and saw Mrs. L. and was a little comforted to find Mrs. A. had returned to Enfield before the distresful event. I am very feeble, can scarce move a pen; got home from Enfield on the Friday, and on Monday followg was laid up with a most violent nervous fever second this summer, have had Leeches to my Temples, have not had, nor can not get, a night’s sleep. So you will excuse more from

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.
Islington, 9 Sept.

Our most kind remembces to poor Mrs. Allsop. A line to say how you both are will be most acceptable.


[Allsop’s loss was, I imagine, the death of one of his children.]

[p.m. Sept. 24, 1825.]

MY dear Allsop—Come not near this unfortunate roof yet a while. My disease is clearly but slowly going. Field is an excellent attendant. But Mary’s anxieties have overturned her.
She has her old
Miss James with her, without whom I should not feel a support in the world. We keep in separate apartments, and must weather it. Let me know all of your healths. Kindest love to Mrs. Allsop.

C. Lamb.

Can you call at Mrs. Burney 26 James Street, and tell her, & that I can see no one here in this state. If Martin return—if well enough, I will meet him some where, don’t let him come.


[Field was Henry Field, Barron Field’s brother.

Here should come a note from Lamb to Hone, dated September 30, 1825, in which Lamb describes the unhappy state of the house at Colebrooke Row, with himself and his sister both ill.

Here also should come a similar note to William Ayrton.

On October 18 Lamb sends Hone the first “bit of writing” he has done “these many weeks.”]

[p.m. Oct. 24, 1825.]

I SEND a scrap. Is it worth postage? My friends are fairly surprised that you should set me down so unequivocally for an ass, as you have done, Page 1358.

Here he is
what follows?
The Ass
Call you this friendship?

Mercy! What a dose you have sent me of Burney!—a perfect opening* draught.

* A Pun here is intended.


[This is written on the back of the MS. “In re Squirrels” for Hone’s Every-Day Book (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 306). Lamb’s previous contribution had been “The Ass” which Hone had introduced with a few words.]

[Dec. 5, 1825.]

DEAR A.—You will be glad to hear that we are at home to visitors; not too many or noisy. Some fine day shortly Mary will surprise Mrs. Allsop. The weather is not seasonable for formal engagements.

Yours most ever,
C. Lamb.

[Here should come a note to Manning at Totteridge, signed Charles and Mary Lamb, and dated December 10, 1825. It indicates that both are well again, and hoping to see Manning at Colebrooke.]

[No date. ? Dec, 1825.]

DEAR O.—I leave it entirely to Mr. Colburn; but if not too late, I think the Proverbs had better have L. signd to them and reserve Elia for Essays more Eliacal. May I trouble you to send my Magazine, not to Norris, but H. C. Robinson Esq. King’s bench walks, instead.

Yours truly
C. Lamb.

My friend Hood, a prime genius and hearty fellow, brings this.


[Lamb’s “Popular Fallacies” began in the New Monthly Magazine in January, 1826. Henry Colburn was the publisher of that magazine, which had now obtained Lamb’s regular services. The nominal editor was Campbell, the poet, who was assisted by Cyrus Redding. Ollier seems to have been a sub-editor.]