LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bryan Waller Procter, [19 January 1829]

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[19th Jan., 1829.]

MY dear Procter,—I am ashamed to have not taken the drift of your pleasant letter, which I find to have been pure invention. But jokes are not suspected in Bœotian Enfield. We are
plain people; and our talk is of corn, and cattle, and Waltham markets. Besides, I was a little out of sorts when I received it. The fact is, I am involved in a case which has fretted me to death; and I have no reliance, except on you, to extricate me. I am sure you will give me your best legal advice, having no professional friend besides but
Robinson and Talfourd, with neither of whom at present I am on the best terms. My brother’s widow left a will, made during the lifetime of my brother, in which I am named sole executor, by which she bequeaths forty acres of arable property, which it seems she held under Covert Baron, unknown to my brother, to the heirs of the body of Elizabeth Dowden, her married daughter by a first husband, in fee-simple, recoverable by fine—invested property, mind; for there is the difficulty—subject to leet and quitrent; in short, worded in the most guarded terms, to shut out the property from Isaac Dowden, the husband. Intelligence has just come of the death of this person in India, where he made a will, entailing this property (which seem’d entangled enough already) to the heirs of his body, that should not be born of his wife; for it seems by the law in India, natural children can recover. They have put the cause into Exchequer process, here removed by Certiorari from the native Courts; and the question is, whether I should, as executor, try the cause here, or again re-remove it to the Supreme Sessions at Bangalore? (which I understand I can, or plead a hearing before the Privy Council here). As it involves all the little property of Elizabeth Dowden, I am anxious to take the fittest steps, and what may be least expensive. Pray assist me, for the case is so embarrassed, that it deprives me of sleep and appetite. M. Burney thinks there is a case like it in Chapt. 170, sect. 5, in Fearne’s Contingent Remainders. Pray read it over with him dispassionately, and let me have the result. The complexity lies in the questionable power of the husband to alienate. . . .

I had another favour to beg, which is the beggarliest of beggings.

A few lines of verse for a young friend’s Album (six will be enough). M. Burney will tell you who she is I want ’em for. A girl of gold. Six lines—make ’em eight—signed Barry C‚——. They need not be very good, as I chiefly want ’em as a foil to mine. But I shall be seriously obliged by any refuse scrap. We are in the last ages of the world, when St. Paul prophesied that women should be “headstrong, lovers of their own wills, having Albums.” I fled hither to escape the Albumean persecution, and had not been in my new house twenty-four hours, when the daughter of the next house came in with a friend’s Album to beg a contribution, and the following day intimated she had one of her own. Two more have sprung up since. If I take the wings of the morning and fly unto the uttermost parts of the earth, there will Albums be. New
Holland has Albums. But the age is to be complied with. M. B. will tell you the sort of girl I request the ten lines for. Somewhat of a pensive cast, what you admire. The lines may come before the Law question, as that can not be determined before Hilary Term, and I wish your deliberate judgment on that. The other may be flimsy and superficial. And if you have not burnt your returned letter, pray re-send it me, as a monumental token of my stupidity. ’Twas a little unthinking of you to touch upon a sore subject. Why, by dabbling in those accursed Albums, I have become a byword of infamy all over the kingdom. I have sicken’d decent women for asking me to write in Albums. There be “dark jests” abroad, Master Cornwall; and some riddles may live to be clear’d up. And ’tis not every saddle is put on the right steed; and forgeries and false Gospels are not peculiar to the Age following the Apostles. And some tubs don’t stand on their right bottoms. Which is all I wish to say in these ticklish Times—and so your Servant,

Chs. Lamb.