Part 10 out of 11
two Miss Crockfords of Stanza XVIII. would be the daughters of William
Crockford, of Crockford's Club, who, after succeeding to his father's
business of fishmonger, opened the gaming-house which bore his name and
amassed a fortune of upwards of a million.--Semele (Stanza XXI.), whose
lightest wish Jupiter had sworn to grant, was treacherously induced to
express the desire that Jupiter would visit her with the divine pomp in
which he approached his lawful wife Juno. He did so, and she was
consumed by his lightning and thunderbolts.--The bard of Stanza XXV. is,
of course, Virgil.
* * * * *
Page 138. Prologues and Epilogues.
Writing to Sarah Stoddart concerning Godwin's "Faulkener" Mary Lamb
remarked: "Prologues and Epilogues will be his [Charles's] death."
Page 138. _Epilogue to "Antonio."_
Had Lamb not sent this epilogue to Manning in the letter of December 13,
1800, we should have no copy of it; for Godwin, by Lamb's advice, did
not print it with the play. Writing to Godwin two days before, Lamb
remarked:-"I have been plotting how to abridge the Epilogue. But I
cannot see that any lines can be spared, retaining the connection,
except these two, which are better out:
"Why should I instance, &c.,
The sick man's purpose, &c.,
and then the following line must run thus,
"The truth by an example best is shown."
See lines 16, 17 and 18.
Godwin's "Antonio," produced at Drury Lane on December 13, 1800, was a
failure. Many years afterwards Lamb told the story of the unlucky first
night (see "The Old Actors" in Appendix to Vol. II. of this edition).
Godwin, its author, was, of course, William Godwin, the philosopher
(1756-1836). Later Lamb wrote the prologue to another of his plays (see
page 140 and note).
Lines 35 and 36. _Suett ... Bannister_. Richard Suett (1755-1805) and
Jack Bannister (1760-1836), two famous comedians of that day. Line 62.
"_Pizarro_." Sheridan's patriotic melodrama, produced May 24, 1799, at
* * * * *
Page 140. _Prologue to "Faulkener."_
William Godwin's tragedy "Faulkener" was produced at Drury Lane,
December 16, 1807, with some success. Lamb's letters to Godwin of
September 9 and 17, 1801, suggest that he had a share in the framing of
the plot. Later the play was taken in hand by Thomas Holcroft and made
According to Godwin's preface, 1807, the story was taken from the 1745
edition of Defoe's _Roxana_, which contains the episode of Susannah
imagining herself to be Roxana's daughter and throwing herself in her
mother's way. Godwin transformed the daughter into a son. Lamb, however,
seems to have believed this episode to be in the first edition, 1724,
and afterwards to have been removed at the entreaty of Southerne,
Defoe's friend (see Lamb's letters to Walter Wilson, Defoe's biographer,
of December 16, 1822, and February 24, 1823). But it is in reality the
first edition which lacks the episode, and Mr. G.A. Aitken, Defoe's
latest editor, doubts Southerne's interference altogether and considers
Susannah's curiosity an alien interpolation. For Lamb's other remarks on
Defoe see also the "Ode to the Tread Mill," page 72 of this volume, and
"Estimate of Defoe's Secondary Novels" (Vol. I.). Writing to Walter
Wilson on November 15, 1829, on the receipt of his memoirs of Defoe,
Lamb exclaims: "De Foe was always my darling."
Page 140. _Epilogue to "Time's a Tell-Tale."_
A play by Henry Siddons (1774-1815), Mrs. Siddons' eldest son. It was
produced in 1807 at Drury Lane, with Lamb's prologue, which was,
however, received so badly that on the second night another was
substituted for it.
* * * * *
Page 142. _Prologue to "Remorse."_
Coleridge's tragedy "Remorse," a recasting of his "Osorio" (written at
Sheridan's instigation in 1797), was produced with success on January
23, 1813; and was printed, with the prologue, in the same year. Lamb's
prologue, "spoken by Mr. Carr," was (according to Mr. Dykes Campbell) a
recasting of some verses composed for the prize offered by the Drury
Lane Committee in the previous year, 1812, in response to their
advertisement for a suitable poem to be read at the reopening of the new
building after the fire of 1809. It was, of course, this competition
which brought forth the _Rejected Addresses_ (1812) of the brothers
James and Horace Smith.
The prologue as printed is very different from that which was spoken at
the theatre by Mr. Carr. A writer in the _Theatrical Inquisitor_ for
February, 1813, in his contemptuous criticism, refers to several
passages that are no longer extant. I quote from an account of the
matter by the late Mr. Dykes Campbell in the _Illustrated London News_,
October 22, 1892:--
I am afraid the true text of Lamb's "Rejected Address," even as
modified for use as a prologue, has not come down to us. This is how the
severe and suspicious _Inquisitor_ describes it and its twin brother the
The Prologue and Epilogue were among the most stupid productions of the
modern muse; the former was, in all probability, a Rejected Address, for
it contained many eulogiums on the beauty and magnificence of the "dome"
of Drury; talked of the waves being not quite dry, and expressed the
happiness of the bard at being the first whose muse had soared within
its limits. More stupid than the doggerel of Twiss, and more affected
than the pretty verses of Miles Peter Andrews, the Epilogue proclaimed
its author and the writer of the Prologue to be par nobile fratrum, in
rival dulness both pre-eminent.
The reader of Lamb's prologue will find little of all this in it, but
there is no reason for doubting the critic's account of what he heard at
the theatre. It is not at all unlikely that it was this paragraph which
suggested to Lamb the advisability of still further revising the
"Rejected Address." In the prologue there is a good deal about the size
of the theatre, as compared with "the Lyceum's petty sphere," and of how
pleased Shakspere would have been had he been able to hear--
When that dread curse of Lear's
Had burst tremendous on a thousand ears:
rather an anti-climax, by the way, for it means an audience of but five
hundred, which would have been a beggarly account for the new Drury.
There is nothing either about its "dome," or about the scenery, except
commonplaces so flat that one doubts if it be quite fair to quote them--
The very use, since so essential grown,
Of painted scenes, was to his [Shakspere's] stage unknown.
This is not an improvement on the "waves not yet quite dry," a Lamb-like
touch which could not have been invented by the critic, and may go far
to convince us of his veracity.
Above all, there is no trace of that splendidly audacious suggestion
that Coleridge was the first "whose muse had soared" within the new
dome--unless we find a blind one in the closing lines, supposing them to
have been converted by the simple process of inversion. Instead of
Coleridge being the first whose muse had soared in the new Drury, Drury
was the first place in which his dramatic muse had soared.
Lamb was not among the writers parodied by the "sneering brothers" (as
he called them later), but Coleridge was. Lamb's turn came in 1825, when
P.G. Patmore, afterwards his friend and the father of Coventry Patmore,
wrote _Rejected Articles_, in which was a very poor imitation of Elia.
Line 9. _Betterton or Booth._ Thomas Betterton, born probably in 1635,
acted for the last time in 1710, the year in which he died. Barton Booth
(1681-1733) left the stage in 1728. Betterton was much at the Little
Theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields; also at Sir John Vanbrugh's theatre in
Line 11. _Quin_. James Quin (1693-1766) of Drury Lane and Covent
Garden, Garrick's great rival, famous as Falstaff. His last appearance
was in 1753.
Line 12. _Garrick._ Garrick's Drury Lane, in which Lamb saw his first
play, was that built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1674. It lasted, with
certain alterations, including a new face by the brothers Adam, nearly
120 years. The seating capacity of this theatre was modest. In 1794 a
new Drury Lane Theatre, the third, was opened--too large for comfortable
seeing or hearing. This was burned down in 1809; and the new one, the
fourth, and that in which "Remorse" was produced, was opened in 1812.
This is the building (with certain additions) that still stands.
Lines 13-16. _Garrick in the shades._ Many years later Lamb used the
same idea in connection with Elliston (see "To the Shade of Elliston,"
Line 20. _Ben and Fletcher._ Ben Jonson (1573?-1637) and John Fletcher
(1579-1625), Beaumont's collaborator. Ben Jonson's "Every Man in His
Humour" was produced at the Globe in 1598, Shakspeare being in the
caste; but in the main he wrote for Henslowe, who was connected with the
Rose and the Swan, on Bankside, and with the theatre in Newington Butts,
and who built, with Alleyn, in 1600, the Fortune in Golden Lane,
Cripplegate Without. Beaumont and Fletcher's plays went for the most
part to Burbage, who owned the Globe at Southwark and the Blackfriars'
Theatre. Shakspeare also wrote for Burbage.
* * * * *
Page 143. _Epilogue to "Debtor and Creditor."_
"Debtor and Creditor" was a farce by James Kenney (1780-1849), Lamb's
friend, with whom he stayed at Versailles in 1822. The play was produced
April 20, 1814. Gosling's experiences as a dramatic author seem to have
been curiously like Lamb's own. See note to "Mr. H." on page 392.
Line 12. _They never bring the Spanish._ Spanish, old slang for money.
Line 40. _Polito's._ Polito at one time kept the menagerie in Exeter
Line 42. _Larry Whack._ Larry Whack is referred to in the play. Says
Sampson, on one occasion: "Who be I? Come, that be capital! Why, ben't I
Sampson Miller? Didn't I bang the Darby Corps at York Races ... and
durst Sir Harry Slang bring me up to town to fight Larry Whack, the
* * * * *
Page 145. _Epilogue to an Amateur Performance of "Richard II."_
This epilogue, says Canon Ainger, who first printed it, was written for
a performance given by the family of Barren Field in 1824. The family of
Henry Field, Barron's father, would perhaps be more accurate; for Barron
Field was childless. The verses, which I print by permission of Miss
Kendall, Miss Field's residuary legatee, were given to Canon Ainger by
the late Miss M.L. Field, of Hastings. In his interesting note he adds
of this lady (to whom Lamb addressed the verses on page 106), "she told
me that she (then a girl of 19) sat by the side of Lamb during the
performance. She remembered well, she said, that in course of the play a
looking glass was broken, and that Lamb turned to her and whispered
'Sixpence!' She added that before the play began, while the guests were
assembling, the butler announced 'Mr. Negus!'--upon which Lamb
exclaimed, 'Hand him round!'"
Lamb refers in the opening lines to Edmund Kean and John Philip Kemble.
In this connection it may be interesting to state that Lamb told Patmore
that he considered John of Gaunt, time-honoured Lancaster, the grandest
name in the world.
* * * * *
Page 146. _Prologue to "The Wife."_
The original form of the prologue to James Sheridan Knowles' comedy, not
hitherto collected in any edition of Lamb's writings, is preserved in
the Forster collection in the South Kensington Museum. It was sent to
Moxon, for Knowles, in April, 1833, and differs considerably. See the
large edition of this work. It is curious that the prologue was not
attributed to Lamb when the play was printed. Knowles wrote in the
preface: "To my early, my trusty and honoured friend, Charles Lamb, I
owe my thanks for a delightful Epilogue, composed almost as soon as it
was requested. To an equally dear friend, I am equally indebted for my
* * * * *
Page 147. _Epilogue to "The Wife."_
This epilogue was spoken by Miss Ellen Tree.
* * * * *
Page 149. JOHN WOODVIL.
First published in 1802 in a slender volume entitled _John Woodvil: a
Tragedy. By C. Lamb. To which are added Fragments of Burton, the author
of the Anatomy of Melancholy._ The full contents of the book were:--
John Woodvil; Ballad, From the German (see page 29); Helen (see page
28); Curious Fragments, I., II., III., IV.; The Argument; The
Consequence (see Vol. I., page 29, and note; also pages 30 and 35 of the
present volume and notes).
_John Woodvil_ was reprinted by Lamb in the _Works_, 1818, the text of
which is followed here.
If Mr. Fuller Russell was right in his statement in _Notes and Queries_,
April 1, 1882, that Lamb told him he "had lost L25 by his best effort,
_John Woodvil_," we must suppose that the book was published wholly or
partially at his own cost.
The history of the poem which follows is, with an omission and addition
here and there, that compiled by the late Mr. Dykes Campbell and
contributed by him to _The Athenaeum_, October 31 and November 14, 1891.
Mr. Campbell had the opportunity of collating the edition of 1802 with a
manuscript copy made by Lamb and his sister for Manning. With that
patient thoroughness and discrimination which made his work as an
editor so valuable, Mr. Campbell minutely examined this copy and put the
results on record; and they are now for the first time, by permission of
Mrs. Dykes Campbell and the Editor of _The Athenaum_, incorporated in an
edition of Lamb's writings. The copy itself, I may add, when it came
into the market, was secured by an American collector. Mr. Campbell's
words follow, my own interpolations being within square brackets.
Lamb's first allusion to the future _John Woodvil_ occurs in a letter to
Southey (October 29, 1798), at a time when the two young men were
exchanging a good many copies of verses for mutual criticism. "Not
having anything of my own," writes Lamb, "to send you in return (though,
to tell the truth, I am at work upon something which if I were to cut
away and garble, perhaps I might send you an extract or two that might
not displease you: but I will not do that; and whether it will come to
anything I know not, for I am as slow as a Fleming painter, when I
compose anything) I will crave leave to put down a few lines of old
Christopher Marlowe's." Lamb must soon have got rid of his objections to
cutting away and garbling, for before a month had elapsed he had sent
Southey two extracts, first the "Dying Lover" [see "Dramatic Fragment,"
page 85], and next (November 28) "The Witch" [see page 199], both of
which passages were excluded from the printed play. [The letter, which
is wrongly dated April 20, 1799, in some editions, concludes (of "The
Witch"): "This is the extract I bragged of as superior to that I sent
you from Marlowe: perhaps you will smile."]
Charles Lloyd shared with Southey the pains and pleasures of criticising
Lamb's verses, for Lamb asks the latter if he agrees with Lloyd in
disliking something in "The Witch."
[Thus: "Lloyd objects to 'shutting up the womb of his purse' in my curse
(which, for a Christian witch in a Christian country, is not too mild, I
hope). Do you object? I think there is a strangeness in the idea, as
well as 'shaking the poor little snakes from his door,' which suits the
speaker. Witches illustrate, as fine ladies do, from their own familiar
objects, and snakes and the shutting up of wombs are in their way. I
don't know that this last charge has been before brought against 'em nor
either the sour milk or the mandrake babe; but I affirm these be things
a witch would do if she could."]
Lamb proposes also to adopt an emendation of Southey's in the "Dying
Lover"--"though I do not feel the objection against 'Silent Prayer,'"
and in the event he did very sensibly stick to his own opinion, for in
the _London Magazine_ the line runs, as first written:--
He put a silent prayer up for the bride.
One wonders what harm Southey can have seen in it. At this time Southey
was collecting verses for the first volume of his _Annual Anthology_
(provisionally called the _Kalendar_), and inviting contributions from
Lamb. In writing before November 28, 1798, "This ['The Witch'] and the
'Dying Lover' I gave you are the only extracts I can give without
mutilation," Lamb may have meant that Southey was at liberty to print
them in the _Anthology_. A year later, October 31, 1799, when the second
volume was in preparation, Lamb wrote:--"I shall have nothing to
communicate, I fear, to the _Anthology_. You shall have some fragments
of my play if you desire them; but I think I would rather print it
As a matter of fact, Lamb contributed nothing to the collection except
the lines "Living without God in the World," printed in the first volume
[see page 19. To _Recreations in Agriculture, Natural History,_ etc.,
1801, edited by Dr. James Anderson, a friend of George Dyer, Lamb,
however, sent "Description of a Forest Life," "The General Lover" (What
is it you love?) and the "Dying Lover," called "Fragment in Dialogue."
There are slight differences in the text, the chief alteration being in
line 3 of the "Description of a Forest Life":--
Bursting the lubbar bonds of sleep that bound him.]
Reverting to the letter of November 28, one learns Lamb's intentions as
to the play:--"My Tragedy will be a medley (as I intend it to be a
medley) of laughter and tears, prose and verse, and in some places
rhyme, songs, wit, pathos, humour, and, if possible, sublimity; at least
it is not a fault in my intention if it does not comprehend most of
these discordant atoms. Heaven send they dance not the 'Dance of
The composition went on slowly and in a very casual way, for on January
21, 1799, he writes again to Southey:--"I have only one slight passage
to send you, scarce worth the sending, which I want to edge in somewhere
into my play, which, by the way, hath not received the addition often
lines, besides, since I saw you." The "slight passage" is one which, it
will be seen, was "edged in" near the end of the second act, but taken
out again--that beginning:--
I saw him [John Woodvil] in the day of Worcester fight,
Whither he came at twice seven years,
Under the discipline of the Lord Falkland
(His uncle by the mother's side), etc.
Lamb naively asks Southey, "But did Falkland die before the Worcester
fight? In that case I must make bold to unclify some other nobleman." I
suppose Southey must have answered that Falkland had been killed at
Newbury eight years before Worcester fight, for when the passage had
been edged into the play, _Naseby_ and _Ashley_ were substituted for
"Worcester" and "Falkland" respectively. This was as bad a shot as the
first, for Sir Anthony Cooper, whether at Naseby or no, did not become
Lord Ashley until sixteen years after that fight. Had the passage
escaped the pruning knife, Lamb's historical research would no doubt
have provided a proper battle and a proper uncle for his hero. Again
Lloyd appears as a critic, and this time he is obeyed, probably because
his objection to "portrayed in his face" was backed by Southey. "I like
the line," says Lamb, but he altered it to
Of Valour's beauty in his youthful face
in the Manning MS. Four months later, on May 20, Lamb sends Southey the
charming passage about forest-life on page 173, and defends his blank
verse against Southey's censure of the pauses at the end of the lines;
he does it on the model of Shakespeare, he says, in his "endeavour after
a colloquial ease and spirit." Talfourd printed the passage in full, but
some later editors have cut down the twenty-four lines to the six
opening ones, to the loss of a point in the letter. Lamb says he "loves
to anticipate charges of unoriginality," adding--"the first line is
"To have my love to bed and to arise.
I think there is a sweetness in the versification not unlike some rhymes
in that exquisite play, and the last line but three is yours." This line
describes how the deer, as they came tripping by,
Then stop and gaze, then turn, they know not why.
Lamb thus gives the line and his reference:--
That met the gaze, or turn'd it knew not why.
But, of course, he misquotes both line and title--though Southey would
feel flattered in finding that his friend's memory had done so well. As
the editors have not annotated the passage, I will say here that Lamb
should have quoted
The modest eye
That met the glance, or turn'd, it knew not why.
"Rosamund to Henry."
The poem is one of those in the now scarce volume which Southey and
Lovel published jointly at Bath in 1795, _Poems: containing "The
Retrospect."_ [It was this forest passage which, as Hazlitt tells us in
his _Spirit of the Age_, so puzzled Godwin. After looking in vain
through the old dramatists for it, he applied to Lamb himself.]
[Footnote 31: Sir Jacob Astley(?), but he too was ennobled _after_
By the end of October the play had evidently been completed (though not
yet named), for on the 31st Southey was asked, "Have you seen it, or
shall I lend you a copy? I want your opinion of it." None is recorded
here, but more than two years later, when Southey was in London, he gave
it to Danvers (_Letters of R.S._, II., 184): "Lamb and his sister see us
often: he is printing his play, which will please you by the exquisite
beauty of its poetry, and provoke you by the exquisite silliness of its
The play must have been baptised as "Pride's Cure" soon after
Hallowe'en, for at Christmas it was submitted under that title to
Kemble, and about the same time (December 28, 1799) we find Lamb
defending the title (with the vehemence and subtlety of a doubter, as I
read) against the adverse criticism of Manning and Mrs. Charles Lloyd.
Lamb had lately been on a visit to these friends at Cambridge, and had
doubtless taken a copy of his play with him and received their
objections there and then--for his defence does not seem to have been
provoked by a letter. [In a letter to Charles Lloyd that has come to
light since Mr. Dykes Campbell wrote, belonging to middle December,
1799, Lamb asks for his play to be returned to him, suggesting that Mrs.
Lloyd shall despatch it. It was probably in the letter that accompanied
the parcel that the criticism of the title was found. Lamb thus defended
it:--"By-the-bye, I think you and Sophia both incorrect with regard to
the _title_ of the _play_. Allowing your objection (which is not
necessary, as pride may be, and is in real life often, cured by
misfortunes not directly originating from its own acts, as Jeremy Taylor
will tell you a naughty desire is sometimes sent to cure it; I know you
read these _practical divines_)--but allowing your objection, does not
the betraying of his father's secret directly spring from pride?--from
the pride of wine, and a full heart, and a proud over-stepping of the
ordinary rules of morality, and contempt of the prejudices of mankind,
which are not to bind superior souls--'as _trust_ in _the matter of
secrets_ all _ties_ of _blood_, etc., etc., keeping of _promises_, the
feeble mind's religion, binding our _morning knowledge_ to the
performance of what _last night's ignorance spake_'--does he not prate,
that '_Great Spirits_' must do more than die for their friend? Does not
the pride of wine incite him to display some evidence of friendship,
which its own irregularity shall make great? This I know, that I meant
his punishment not alone to be a cure for his daily and habitual
_pride_, but the direct consequence and appropriate punishment of a
particular act of pride.
"If you do not understand it so, it is my fault in not explaining my
Manning seems to have begged for a copy--or reconsideration,
perhaps--for Lamb, on February 13, 1800, promised him a copy "of my play
and the _Falstaff Letters_ in a day or two." There is no trace of the
former having been sent, but the latter certainly was, for on March 1 he
presses Manning for his opinion of it--hopes he is "prepared to call it
a bundle of the sharpest, queerest, profoundest humours," etc., as he
was accustomed to hope when that book was in question. The next mention
of the play occurs in an undated letter to Coleridge [accompanying a MS.
copy of the play for the Wordsworths], dated by Talfourd and other
editors "end of 1800," which must have been written in March or April,
1800 [since Coleridge was then staying with Wordsworth, engaged in
completing the translation of _Wallenstein,_ the last of the MS. being
sent to the printer in April]. Talfourd's mistake in dating it perhaps
led him to suppose that the copy sent through Coleridge to Wordsworth
was a printed copy, and that Lamb had printed _John Woodvil_ a year
before he published it. If any other proof were needed that Talfourd
guessed wrongly, it is supplied by this sentence in the letter to
Manning of February 15, 1801:--"I lately received from Wordsworth a copy
of the second volume [of the _Lyrical Ballads_] accompanied by an
acknowledgment of having received from me _many months since_ a copy of
a certain Tragedy, with excuses for not having made any acknowledgment
Lamb's reply to Wordsworth (January 30, 1801) is so very dry--"Thank you
for Liking my Play!!"--that we may suppose that Wordsworth's expression
of "liking" was not very enthusiastic.
Things become clearer when we reach November 3, 1800, on which day Lamb
thus addressed Manning (I quote verbatim from the original letter):--"At
last I have written to Kemble to know the event of my play, which was
presented last Christmas. As I suspected, came an answer back that the
copy was lost ... with a courteous (reasonable!) request of another copy
(if I had one by me), and a promise of a definite answer in a week. I
could not resist so facile and moderate demand: so scribbled out
another, omitting sundry things, such as the witch story, about half the
forest scene (which is too leisurely for _story_), and transposing that
damn'd soliloquy about England getting drunk, which like its reciter
stupidly stood alone nothing prevenient, or antevenient, and cleared
away a good deal besides ... I sent it last night, and am in weekly
expectation of the Tolling Bell and death warrant."
It will be observed that that second copy sent to Kemble must have
differed essentially from the one sent to Manning, for the latter
includes the witch story, and retains in its original place the
soliloquy about England getting drunk.
To this copy sent to Manning we now come in chronological order, but the
exact date of its despatch must remain uncertain. Clearly it was
subsequent, but probably not long subsequent, to Kemble's rejection of
the play, which took place soon after All Souls' Day, for Kemble must
have made up his mind within half an hour of taking up the manuscript. I
venture to assume that the argosy which bore all the treasures recounted
in the following bill of lading sailed about Christmas, 1800. It is sad
to think that the bill of lading itself and the MS. of "Pride's Cure"
are the only salvage.
"I send you all of Coleridge's letters to me which I have preserved;
some of them are upon the subject of my play. I also send you Kemble's
two letters, and the prompter's courteous epistle, with a curious
critique on 'Pride's Cure' by a young Physician from EDINBORO', who
modestly suggests quite another kind of plot. These are monuments of my
disappointments which I like to preserve ...You will carefully keep all
(except the Scotch Doctor's, _which burn_) _in statu quo_ till I come to
claim mine own."
On the reverse of the half-sheet is written: "For Mister Manning |
Teacher of the Mathematics | and the Black Arts, | There is another
letter in the inside cover of the book opposite the blank leaf that
[This is the other letter, written inside the board cover of the copy of
the play, in Charles Lamb's hand:--
"Mind this goes for a letter. (Acknowledge it directly, if only in ten
"(I shall want to hear this comes safe.)
"I have scratched out a good deal, as you will see. Generally, what I
have rejected was either _false_ in _feeling_, or a violation of
character, mostly of the first sort. I will here just instance in the
concluding few lines of the dying Lover's story, which completely
contradicted his character of _violent_ and _unreproachful_. I hesitated
a good while what copy to send you, and at last resolved to send the
_worst_, because you are familiar with it and can make it out; a
stranger would find so much difficulty in doing it, that it would give
him more pain than pleasure. This is compounded precisely of the two
persons' hands you requested it should be.
The two persons were undoubtedly Charles Lamb and his sister.]
Before proceeding to the MS. itself, it will be desirable to refer to
Lamb's letter to Manning of February 15, 1802, in which he defends
himself against Manning's animadversions on the changes found in the
printed _John Woodvil_. This letter is addressed to "Mr. Thomas Manning,
Maison Magnan, No. 342 Boulevard Italien, Paris." ....The italics are in
the original:--"_Apropos_, I think you wrong about _my_ play. All the
omissions are _right_. And the supplementary scene, in which Sandford
_narrates_ the manner in which his master is affected, is the best in
the book. It stands where a hodge-podge of German puerilities used to
stand. I insist upon it that you like that scene." ...
There is one thing more to add. Its excuse is the best in the world--it
is quite new. In that precious letter of February 15, 1801, is a passage
[printed in Canon Ainger's _edition de luxe_] which shows that Lamb
(probably) tried George Colman the younger with "Pride's Cure." The
potentate of the Haymarket was probably less sublimely courteous in his
rejection than Kemble.
"Now to my own affairs. I have not taken that thing to Colman, but I
have proceeded one step in the business. I have inquired his address and
am promised it in a few days."
[The Manning copy of _John Woodvil_ is thus described by Mr. Dykes
Campbell]:--It is composed of foolscap sheets stitched into a limp
wrapper of marbled paper. The writing is chiefly Mary Lamb's; her
brother's portion seems to have been done at various times, for the ink
varies in shade, and the handwriting in style.
On the inside of the first cover, as before noted, is written the letter
quoted above. Then comes a page with:--
Begun August, 1798, finished May, 1799.
This comes in beginng 2d act.
of Marg. to John
[this being Margaret's "Letter" (page 160 of the present volume).]
On the reverse, Mary has written out the "Characters in 'Pride's Cure,'
a Tragedy." In this list Lovel and Gray are described as "two Court
On the next page the play opens, but on the top margin is written:--
"Turn a leaf back for _my_ Letter to Manning.
The point of the underlining of "my" is to distinguish Lamb's letter
from Margaret's, which chance to face one another in the MS.
Act the First. Scene the First.
A Servants' apartment in Wodvil [_sic_] Hall.
A Song by Daniel.
"When the King enjoys his own again."
_Peter_. A delicate song upon my verity.
Where didst learn it, fellow?
And so on for some leaves without material difference from print.
After the speech [page 155] "_All_. Truly a sad consideration" comes
this continuation of the dialogue:--
_Daniel_. You know what he said to you one day in confidence.
_Peter_. I have reason to remember the words--"'Tis a pity (said he) a
traitor should go unpunished."
_Francis_. Did he say so much? _Peter_. As true as I sit here. I told
Daniel of it the same day. Did I not, Daniel?
_Daniel_. Well, I do not know but it may be merrier times with us
servants if Sir Walter never comes back.
_Francis_. But then again, who of us can think of betraying him?
_Peter_. His son, John Woodvil, is the prince of good masters.
_Daniel_. Here is his health, and the King's. (_They all drink_.) Well,
I cannot see why one of us should not deserve the reward as well as
_Martin_. Indeed there is something in that.
_Sandford enters suddenly_.
_Sandford_. You well-fed and unprofitable grooms.
And so on as printed, until we come to Margaret's reply to Sandford's
speech ending [page 156]:--
Since my ["our"] old master quitted all his rights here.
_Margaret_. Alas! I am sure I find it so.
Ah! Mr. Sandford,
This is no dwelling now for me,
As in Sir Walter's days it was.
I can remember when this house hath been
A sanctuary to a poor orphan girl
From evil tongues and injuries of the world.
Now every day
I must endure fresh insult from the scorn
Of Woodvil's friends, the uncivil jests
And free discourses of the dissolute men
That haunt this mansion, making me their mirth.
Further on in the same dialogue comes the following, after the line in
Margaret's speech [page 158, line 18],
His love, which ["that"] long has been upon the wane.
And therefore 'tis men seeing this
Have ta'en their cue and think it now their time
To slur me with their coward disrespects,
Unworthy usages, who, while John lov'd
And while one breath'd
That thought not much to take the orphan's part,
And durst as soon
Hold dalliance with the chafed lion's paw,
Or play with fire, or utter blasphemy,
As think a disrespectful thought of Margaret.
_Sandford_. I am too mean a man,
Being but a servant in the family,
To be the avenger of a Lady's wrongs,
And such a Lady! but I verily think
That I should cleave the rudesby to the earth
With my good oaken staff, and think no harm,
That offer'd you an insult, I being by.
I warrant you, young Master would forgive,
And thank me for the deed,
Tho' he I struck were one of his dearest friends.
_Margaret_. O Mr. Sandford, you must think it,
I know, as sad undecency in me
To trouble thus your friendly hearing
With my complaints.
But I have now no female friend
In all this house, adviser none, or friend
To council with, and when I view your face,
I call to mind old times,
And how these things were different once
When your old friend and master rul'd this house.
Nay, never weep; why, man, I trust that yet
Sir Walter shall return one day
And thank you for these tears,
And loving services to his poor orphan.
For me, I am determined what to do.
And so on as printed down to Margaret's line [page 158, line 3 from
And cowardice grows enamour'd of rare accidents.
The three lines which follow in print [pages 158-9] are not in the MS.
Margaret continues thus:--
But we must part now.
I see one coming, that will also observe us.
Before night comes we will contrive to meet,
And then I will tell you further. Till when, farewell.
_Sandford_. My prayers go with you, Lady, and your counsels,
And heaven so prosper them, as I wish you well.
[_They part several ways_.]
Scene the Second. A Library in Woodvil Hall; John Woodvil alone.
_John Woodvil (alone)_. Now universal England getteth drunk.
And so on as printed in Act II. [on page 165]. After the last printed
A fishing, hawking, hunting country gentleman,
the MS. has these five lines, but Lamb drew his pen through them:--
Great spirits ask great play-room; I would be
The Phaeton, should put the world to a hazard,
E'er I'd forego the horses of the sun,
And giddy lustre of my travels' glory
For tedious common paces. [_Exit_.]
Scene the Third. An apartment in Woodvil Hall; Margaret. Sandford.
_Margaret_. I pray you spare me, Mr. Sandford.
And so on as printed as the continuation of the former scene [page 159]
to the end of that and of the first act. But in the middle of Sandford's
speech comes in the "Witch" story, thus introduced:--
[_Sandford_.] I know a suit
Of lovely Lincoln-green, that much shall grace you
In the wear, being glossy, fresh and worn but seld,
Young Stephen Woodvil's they were, Sir Walter's eldest son,
Who died long since in early youth.
_Margaret_. I have somewhere heard his story. I remember
Sir Walter Rowland would rebuke me, being a girl,
When I have asked the manner of his death.
But I forget it.
_Sandford_. One summer night, Sir Francis, as it chanc'd,
Was pacing to and fro in the avenue
That westward fronts our house,--
_Margaret_. Methinks I should learn something of his story
Whose garments I am to wear.
_Sandford_. Among those aged oaks, etc.
And so the witch story goes on, not quite as printed as a separate poem
in the _Works_ of 1818 [see page 199], but not differing very
Then comes "Act the Second. John Woodvil alone. Reading a letter (which
stands at the beginning of the book)." The letter is longer in MS. than
in print [see page 160], the words in italics having been withdrawn from
the middle of the second sentence:--
"The course I have taken ... seemed to [me] best _both for the warding
off of calumny from myself (which should bring dishonor upon the memory
of Sir Rowland my father, if a daughter of his could be thought to
prefer doubtful ease before virtuous sufferance, softness before
reputation), and_ for the once-for-all releasing of yourself...."
No notable alteration occurs until we come to the second scene, which in
the MS. (owing to the transposition of Woodvil's soliloquy) followed
immediately on Lovel's reply to Woodvil's speech--
No, you shall go with me into the gallery--
printed on page 164.
Scene the Second. Sherwood Forest. Sir Walter Woodvil, Simon, drest as
Sir Walter's opening speech is long in print [page 166]--in MS. it is
_Sir Walter_. How fares my boy, Simon, my youngest born,
My hope, my pride, young Woodvil, speak to me;
Thinkest thy brother plays thy father false?
My life upon his faith and noble heart;
Son John could never play thy father false.
There is no further material change to note until we come to the point
in the conversation between Sir Walter, Simon and Margaret [page 172],
where Simon calls John "a scurvy brother," to whom Margaret responds:--
_Margaret_. I speak no slander, Simon, of your brother,
He is still the first of men.
_Simon_. I would fain learn that, if you please.
_Margaret_. Had'st rather hear his praises in the mass
Or parcel'd out in each particular?
_Simon_. So please you, in the detail: general praise
We'll leave to his Epitaph-maker.
_Margaret_. I will begin then--
His face is Fancy's tablet, where the witch
Paints, in her fine caprice, ever new forms,
Making it apt all workings of the soul,
All passions and their changes to display;
His eye, attention's magnet, draws all hearts.
_Simon_. Is this all about your son, Sir?
_Margaret_. Pray let me proceed. His tongue....
_Simon_. Well skill'd in lying, no doubt--
_Sir Walter_. Ungracious boy! will you not hear her out?
_Margaret_. His tongue well skill'd in sweetness to discuss--
(False tongue that seem'd for love-vows only fram'd)--
_Simon_. Did I not say so?
_Margaret_. All knowledge and all topics of converse,
Ev'n all the infinite stuff of men's debate
From matter of fact, to the heights of metaphysick,
How could she think that noble mind
So furnish'd, so innate in all perfections,
The manners and the worth
That go to the making up of a complete Gentleman,
Could from his proper nature so decline
And from that starry height of place he mov'd in
To link his fortune to a lowly Lady
Who nothing with her brought but her plain heart,
And truth of love that never swerv'd from Woodvil.
_Simon_. Wilt please you hear some vices of this brother,
This all-accomplish'd John?
_Margaret_. There is no need--I grant him all you say and more,
Vain, ambitious, large of purpose,
Fantastic, fiery, swift and confident,
A wayward child of vanity and spleen,
A hair-brain'd mad-cap, dreamer of gold dreams,
A daily feaster on high self-conceit,
With many glorious faults beside,
Weak minds mistake for virtues.
_Simon_. Add to these,
That having gain'd a virtuous maiden's love,
One fairly priz'd at twenty times his worth,
He let her wander houseless from his door
To seek new friends and find elsewhere a home.
_Sir Walter_. Fie upon't--
All men are false, I think, etc.
And here we arrive at the "Dying Lover," which was printed anonymously in the
_London Magazine_ for January, 1822. But before passing from the long
passage transcribed above I am bound to say that Lamb drew his pen
through it all, marking some bits "bad" and others "very bad." I venture
to think that in this he did himself some injustice.
To Sir Walter's sweeping indictment Margaret replies as follows. I keep
to the text of the MS., noting some trifling changes made for the
_London Magazine_ [see page 85]:--
_Margaret_. All are not false. I knew a youth who died
For grief, because his Love proved so,
And married to another.
I saw him on the wedding day,
For he was present in the church that day,
And in his best apparel too,
As one that came to grace the ceremony.
I mark'd him when the ring was given,
His countenance never changed;
And when the priest pronounced the marriage blessing,
He put a silent prayer up for the bride,
[For they stood near who saw his lips move.]
He came invited to the marriage-feast
With the bride's friends,
And was the merriest of them all that day;
But they, who knew him best, call'd it feign'd mirth;
And others said,
He wore a smile like death's upon his face.
His presence dash'd all the beholders' mirth,
And he went away in tears.
_Simon_. What followed then?
_Margaret_. Oh! then
He did not as neglected suitors use
Affect a life of solitude in shades,
In free discourse and sweet society,
Among his friends who knew his gentle nature best.
Yet ever when he smiled,
There was a mystery legible in his face,
That whoso saw him said he was a man
Not long for this world.----
And true it was, for even then
The silent love was feeding at his heart
Of which he died:
Nor ever spake word of reproach,
Only he wish'd in death that his remains
Might find a poor grave in some spot, not far
From his mistress' family vault, "being the place
Where one day Anna should herself be laid."
(So far in the _Magazine_.)
[Footnote 32: "With" (_London Magazine_).]
[Footnote 33: "In festive bravery deck'd" (_London Magazine_).]
[Footnote 34: This line erased in MS. and nothing substituted. In the
_London Magazine_ this took its place:--"For so his moving lip
[Footnote 35: "Death" (_London Magazine_).]
[Footnote 36: Lamb drew his pen through the four concluding lines, and
wrote in the margin "_very_ bad."]
_Simon_. A melancholy catastrophe. For my part I shall never die for
love, being as I am, too general-contemplative for the narrow passion. I
am in some sort a general lover.
_Margaret_. In the name of the Boy-god who plays at blind man's buff
with the Muses, and cares not whom he catches; what is it you love?
And so on until the end of Simon's famous description of the delights of
forest life [page 173]. To this
_Margaret_ (_smiling_). And afterwards them paint in simile.
(_To Sir Walter._) I had some foolish questions to put concerning your
son, Sir.--Was John so early valiant as hath been reported? I have heard
some legends of him.
_Sir Walter_. You shall not call them so. Report, in most things
superfluous, in many things altogether an inventress, hath been but too
modest in the delivery of John's true stories.
_Margaret_. Proceed, Sir.
_Sir Walter_. I saw him on the day of Naseby Fight--
To which he came at twice seven years,
Under the discipline of the Lord Ashley,
His uncle by the mother's side,
Who gave his early principles a bent
Quite from the politics of his father's house.
_Margaret_. I have heard so much.
_Sir Walter_. There did I see this valiant Lamb of Mars,
This sprig of honour, this unbearded John,
This veteran in green years, this sprout, this Woodvil,
With dreadless ease, guiding a fire-hot steed
Which seem'd to scorn the manage of a boy,
Prick forth with such an ease into the field
To mingle rivalship and deeds of wrath
Even with the sinewy masters of the art!
The rough fanatic and blood-practis'd soldiery
Seeing such hope and virtue in the boy,
Disclosed their ranks to let him pass unhurt,
Checking their swords' uncivil injuries
As both to mar that curious workmanship
Of valour's beauty in his youthful face.
_Simon_. Mistress Margaret will have need of some refreshment, etc.
Lamb has drawn his pen through this passage, and marked it "bad or
[Footnote 37: Some lines intervene here in the letter to Southey of
January 21, 1799, which are not in the MS.]
At the beginning of the fourth act John Woodvil's soliloquy is broken
in upon by Sandford. He has just told himself [page 186] that
Some, the most resolved fools of all,
Have told their dearest secrets in their cups,
_Enter Sandford in haste._
_Sandford_. O Sir, you have not told them anything?
_John_. Told whom, Sandford?
_Sandford_. Mr. Lovel or Mr. Gray, anything concerning your father?
_John_. Are they not my friends, Sandford?
_Sandford_. Your friends! Lord help you, they your friends! They were no
better than two Court spies set on to get the secret out of you. I have
just discovered in time all their practices.
_John_. But I have told one of them.
_Sandford_. God forbid, God forbid!
_John_. How do you know them to be what you said they were?
_Sandford_. Good God!
_John_. Tell me, Sandford, my good Sandford, your master begs it of you.
_Sandford_. I cannot speak to you. [_Goes out, John following him._]
Scene the Second. The forest.
This forest scene has been greatly altered. When Gray has said [page
188], "'Tis a brave youth," etc., there follows:--
_Sir Walter_. Why should I live any longer? There is my sword
(_surrendering_). Son John, 'tis thou hast brought this disgrace upon us
_Simon_. Father, why do you cover your face with your hands? Why do you
draw your breath so hard? See, villains, his heart is burst! O villains,
he cannot speak! One of you run for some water; quick, ye musty rogues:
will ye have your throats cut? [_They both slink off._] How is it with
you, father? Look up, Sir Walter, the villains are gone.
"He hears" [page 188], down to "_Bears in the body_" [page 188], of the
print is not in the MS., which goes on thus:--
_Sir Walter_. Barely a minute's breath is left me now,
Which must be spent in charity by me,
And, Simon, as you prize my dying words,
I charge you with your brother live in peace
And be my messenger,
To bear my message to the unhappy boy,
For certain his intent was short of my death.
_Simon_. I hope as much, father.
_Sir Walter_. Tell him I send it with my parting prayer,
And you must fall upon his neck and weep,
And teach him pray, and love your brother John,
For you two now are left in the wide world
The sole survivors of the Woodvil name.
Bless you, my sons-- [_Dies._]
_Simon._ My father's soul is fled.
And now, my trusty servant, my sword,
One labour yet, my sword, then sleep for ever.
Drink up the poor dregs left of Woodvil's name
And fill the measure of our house's crimes.
How nature sickens,
To view her customary bands so snapt
When Love's sweet fires go out in blood of kin,
And natural regards have left the earth.
Scene changes to another part of the forest.
They are gone to bear the body to the town,
It was an error merely and no crime.
And so to the end of her long speech as printed [page 189].
At this point in the MS. comes in "the hodge-podge of German
puerilities" (see the letter to Manning, February 15, 1802), the
sacrifice of which so discontented Manning, who evidently considered the
"supplementary scene" (closing the fourth act, [pages 189 to 191]), as
Lamb called it, a poor substitute.
Scene changes to Woodvil Hall.
_John reading a letter by scraps--A Servant attending._
"An event beyond the possible reach of foresight. 'Tis thought the
deep disgrace of supposed treachery in you o'ercame him. His heart
brake. You will acquit yourself of worse crimes than indiscretion.
My remorse must end with life.
"Your quondam companion and penitent for the wrong he has done ye.
"_Postscript._--The old man being unhappily removed, the young man's
advancement henceforth will find no impediment."
_John._ Impediment indeed there now is none:
For all has happened that my soul presag'd.
What hinders, but I enter in forthwith
And take possession of my crowned state?
For thy advancement, Woodvil, is no less;
To be a King, a King.
I hear the shoutings of the under-world,
I hear the unlawful accents of their mirth,
The fiends do shout and clap their hands for joy,
That Woodvil is proclaim'd the Prince of Hell.
They place a burning crown upon my head,
I hear it hissing now, [_Puts his hand to his forehead._]
And feel the snakes about my mortal brain.
[_Sinks in a swoon, is caught in the arms of a servant._]
Scene. A Courtyard before Woodvil Hall.
Sandford. Margaret (as just arrived from a journey).
_Margaret._ Can I see him to-night?
_Sandford._ I think ye had better stay till the morning:
he will be more calm.
_Margaret._ You say he gets no sleep?
_Sandford._ He hath not slept since Sir Walter died. I have sat up with
him these two nights. Francis takes my place to-night--O! Mistress
Margaret, are not the witch's words come true--"All that we feared and
worse"? Go in and change your garments, you have travelled hard and want
_Margaret._ I will go to bed. You will promise I shall see him in the
_Sandford._ You will sleep in your old chamber?
_Margaret._ The Tapestry room: yes. Pray get me a light. A good night to
_Sandford._ Amen, say I. [_They go in._]
Scene. The Servants' Hall.
Daniel, Peter and Robert.
_Daniel._ Are we all of one mind, fellows? He that lov'd his old master,
speak. Shall we quit his son's service for a better? Is it aye, or no?
_Peter._ For my part, I am afraid to go to bed to-night.
_Robert._ For certain, young Master's indiscretion was that which broke
_Peter._ Who sits up with him to-night?
_Peter._ Lord! what a conscience he must have, that he cannot sleep
_Robert._ They say he is troubled with the Night-mare.
_Daniel._ Here he comes, let us go away as fast as we can.
_Enter John Woodvil and Francis._ [_They run out._]
_John._ I lay me down to get a little sleep,
And just when I began to close my eyes,
My eyes heavy to sleep, it comes.
_Francis._ What comes?
_John._ I can remember when a child the maids
Would place me on their lap, as they undrest me,
As silly women use, and tell me stories
Of Witches--Make me read "Glanvil on Witchcraft,"
And in conclusion show me in the Bible,
The old Family-Bible with the pictures in it,
The 'graving of the Witch raising up Samuel,
Which so possest my fancy, being a child,
That nightly in my dreams an old Hag came
And sat upon my pillow.
I am relapsing into infancy,--
And shortly I shall dote--for would you think it?
The Hag has come again. Spite of my manhood,
The Witch is strong upon me every night.
[_Walks to and fro, then as if recollecting something._]
What said'st thou, Francis, as I stood in the passage?
Something of a Father:
The word is ringing in my ears now--
Twice afterwards Lamb returned to this episode--in "The Witch
Aunt" in story _Mrs. Leicester's School_ (see Vol. III.), and in "Witches
and other Night Fears," in _Elia_ (see Vol. II. 9).]
_Francis_. I remember, one of the servants, Sir, would pass a few
days with his father at Leicester. The poor old man lies on his deathbed,
and has exprest a desire to see his son before he dies. But none
cared to break the matter to you.
_John_. Send the man here. [_Francis goes out_.]
My very servants shun my company.
I held my purse to a beggar yesterday
Who lay and bask'd his sores in the hot sun,
And the gaunt pauper did refuse my alms.
_Francis returns with Robert_.
_John_. Come hither, Robert. What is the poor man ailing?
_Robert_. Please your honour, I fear he has partly perish'd for want of
physic. His means are small, and he kept his illness a secret to me not
to put me to expenses.
_John_. Good son, he weeps for his father.
Go take the swiftest horse in my stables,
Take Lightfoot or Eclipse--no, Eclipse is lame,
Take Lightfoot then, or Princess,
Ride hard all night to Leicester.
And give him money, money, Francis--
The old man must have medicines, cordials,
And broth to keep him warm, and careful nurses.
He must not die for lack of tendance, Robert.
[Footnote 39: Lamb puts his pen through these two lines, and writes across
them "miserable bad."]
_Robert_. God bless your honour for your kindness to my poor father.
_John_. Pray, now make haste. You may chance to come in time.
[_Robert goes out_.]
_John_. Go get some firewood, Francis,
And get my supper ready. [_Francis goes out_.]
The night is bitter cold.
They in their graves feel nothing of the cold,
Or if they do, how dull a cold--
All clayey, clayey. Ah God! who waits below?
Come up, come quick. I saw a fearful sight.
_Francis returns in haste with wood_.
_John_. There are such things as spirits, deny it who may.
Is it you, Francis? Heap the wood on thick,
We two shall sup together, sup all night,
Carouse, drink drunk, and tell the merriest tales--
Tell for a wager, who tells merriest--
But I am very weak. O tears, tears, tears,
I feel your just rebuke. [_Goes out_.]
Scene changes to a bed-room. John sitting alone: a lamp burning by him.
"Infinite torments for finite offences." I will never believe it. How
divines can reconcile this monstrous tenet with the spirit of their
Theology! They have palpably failed in the proof, for to put the
question thus:--If he being infinite--have a care, Woodvil, the latitude
of doubting suits not with the humility of thy condition. What good men
have believed, may be true, and what they profess to find set down
clearly in their scriptures, must have probability in its defence.
Touching that other question the Casuists with one consent have
pronounced the sober man accountable for the deeds by him in a state of
drunkenness committed, because tho' the action indeed be such as he,
sober, would never have committed, yet the drunkenness being an act of
the will, by a moral fiction, the issues are accounted voluntary also. I
lose my sleep in attending to these intricacies of the schoolmen. I lay
till daybreak the other morning endeavouring to draw a line of
distinction between sin of direct malice and sin of malice indirect, or
imputable only by the sequence. My brain is overwrought by these
labours, and my faculties will shortly decline into impotence. [_Throws
himself on a bed_.]
End of the Fourth Act.
[Footnote 40: Lamb had crossed out this passage from "Infinite
torments," and written at "touching" "begin here."]
In the fifth act of the printed play [page 192] we have simply "Margaret
enters." In the MS. Sandford prepares his master for her advent, and
announces her thus:--
_Sandford_. Wilt please you to see company to-day, Sir?
_John_. Who thinks me worth the visiting?
_Sandford_. One that traveled hard last night to see you,
She waits to know your pleasure.
_John_. A lady too! pray send her to me--
Some curiosity, I suppose.
[_Sandford goes out and returns with Margaret_.]
[Footnote 41: "Woodvil!" and some illegible words struck out, and nothing
_John_. Comes Margaret here, etc.
When, a page further on [page 194], John has declared to Margaret that
This earth holds not alive so poor a thing as I am--
I was not always thus,
the MS. went on (but the passage is struck out as "bad"):--
You must bear with me, Margaret, as a child,
For I am weak as tender Infancy
And cannot bear rebuke--
Would'st think it, Love!
They hoot and spit upon me as I pass
In the public streets: one shows me to his neighbour,
Who shakes his head and turns away with horror--
I was not always thus--
_Margaret_. Thou noble nature, etc.
The next scene--the last [page l95]--is much cut about. The long speech
of Margaret beginning,
To give you in your stead a better self,
and John's reply [both printed at pages 196-7], are struck out, and
"Nimis" written by Lamb's pen in large characters in the margin;
but after that all goes on in harmony with the print, to the end:--
It seem'd the guilt of blood was passing from me
Even in the act and agony of tears
And all my sins forgiven.
At this point in the MS. Simon arrives:--
[_A noise is heard as of one without, clamorous to come in_.]
_Margaret_. 'Tis your brother Simon, John.
_Enter Simon, with his sword in a menacing posture, John staggers
towards him and falls at his feet, Margaret standing over him._
_Simon_. Is this the man I came so far to see--
The perfect Cavalier, the finish'd courtier
Whom Ladies lov'd, the gallant curled Woodvil,
Whom brave men fear'd, the valiant, fighting Woodvil,
The haughty high-ambitioned Parricide--
The same that sold his father's secret in his cups,
And held it but an after-dinner's trick?--
So humble and in tears, a crestfallen penitent,
And crawling at a younger brother's feet!
The sinews of my [_stiff_] revenge grow slack.
My brother, speak to me, my brother John.
(_Aside_) Now this is better than the beastly deed
Which I did meditate.
_John (rising and resuming his old dignity)_. You come to take my life,
I know it well.
You come to fight with me--[_Laying his hand upon his sword_.]
This arm was busy on the day of Naseby:
'Tis paralytic now, and knows no use of weapons.
The luck is yours, Sir. [_Surrenders his sword_.]
_Simon_. My errand is of peace:
A dying father's blessing and lost prayers
For his misguided son.
Sir Walter sends it with his parting breath.
He bade me with my brother live in peace,
He bade me fall upon his neck and weep,
(As I now do) and love my brother John;
For we are only left in the wide world
The poor survivors of the Woodvil name. [_They embrace_.]
_Simon_. And Margaret here shall witness our atonement--
(For Margaret still hath followed all your fortunes).
And she shall dry thy tears and teach thee pray.
So we'll together seek some foreign land,
Where our sad story, John, shall never reach.
_End of "Pride's Cure" and Charles Lamb's Dramatic Works!!_
After all this [Mr. Campbell adds finally] is the reader prepared to
think Manning altogether wrong and Lamb altogether right as to what was
done in the process of transforming Pride's Cure into _John Woodvil_?
The version of 1818 here printed differs practically only in
minor matters of typography and punctuation from that of 1802.
There are, however, a few alterations which should be noted. On
page 176, in John's first speech, "fermentations" was, in 1802,
"stimuli." On page 178, in the speech of the Third Gentleman,
there is a change. In 1802 he said "(_dashing his glass down_)
Pshaw, damn these acorn cups, they would not drench a fairy.
Who shall pledge," &c. And at the end of Act III, one line is
omitted. In 1802 John was made to say, after disarming Lovel
Still have the will without the power to execute,
As unfear'd Eunuchs meditate a rape.
This simile, which one reviewer fell upon with some violence, was
Mr. Thomas Hutchinson, writing in The Athenceum, December 28, 1901,
remarks: "The truth is that in Lamb's imitations of the elder writers
'anachronistic improprieties' (as Thomas Warton would say) are
exceedingly rare. In _John Woodvil_ it would not, I think, be easy to
discover more than two: _caprice_, which, in the sense of 'a capricious
disposition,' seems to belong to the eighteenth century, and _anecdotes_
(i.e., 'secret Court history'), which, in its English form at least,
probably does not occur much before 1686."
This note is already too long, or I should like to say something of the
reception of _John Woodvil_, which was not cordial. The _Annual Review_
was particularly severe, and the _Edinburgh_ caustic.
* * * * *
Page 109. "THE WITCH."
In the _Works_, 1818, this dramatic sketch followed _John Woodvil_.
Lamb sent "The Witch" to Robert Lloyd in November, 1798 (see _Charles
Lamb and the Lloyds_, page 91), in a version differing widely from that
of the _Works_ here given. The speakers are Sir Walter Woodvil's steward
and Margaret. The principal variation is this, after the curse:--
_Margaret_. A terrible curse!
_Old Steward_. O Lady! such bad things are said of that old woman,
You would be loth to hear them!
Namely, that the milk she gave was sour,
And the babe, who suck'd her, shrivell'd like a mandrake,
And things besides, with a bigger horror in them,
Almost, I think, unlawful to be told!
In the penultimate line "The mystery of God" was "Creation's beauteous
* * * * *
Page 202. "MR. H----."
Lamb composed this farce in the winter 1805-1806. Writing to Hazlitt on
February 19, 1806, he says: "Have taken a room at 3s. a week to be in
between 5 and 8 at night, to avoid my _nocturnal_ alias _knock-eternal_
visitors. The first-fruits of my retirement has been a farce which goes
to manager tomorrow." Mary Lamb, writing to Sarah Stoddart at about the
same time, says: "Charles is gone [to the lodging] to finish the farce,
and I am to hear it read this night. I am so uneasy between my hopes and
fears of how I shall like it, that I do not know what I am doing." The
next day or so, February 21, she says that she liked the farce "very
much, and cannot help having great hopes of its success"--stating that
she has carried it to Mr. Wroughton at Drury Lane.
The reply came on June n, 1806, saying that the farce was accepted,
subject to a few alterations, and would be produced in due course (see
Lamb's letter to Wordsworth, written in "wantonness of triumph," of June
26). Mary Lamb, writing to Sarah Stoddart, probably in October, 1806,
Charles took an emendated copy of his farce to Mr. Wroughton, the
Manager, yesterday. Mr. Wroughton was very friendly to him, and
expressed high approbation of the farce; but there are two, he tells
him, to come out before it.... We are pretty well, and in fresh
hopes about this farce.
Lamb tells Manning about it, on December 5, adding after an outline of
the plot:--"That's the idea--how flat it is here--but how whimsical in
the farce!" Later he says: "I shall get L200 from the theatre if 'Mr.
H----' has a good run, and, I hope, L100 for the copyright. Nothing if
it fails; and there never was a more ticklish thing. The whole depends
on the manner in which the name is brought out, which I value myself on,
as a _chef-d'oeuvre_." And a little later still: "N.B. If my little
thing don't succeed, I shall easily survive."
"Mr. H----" was produced on December 10, 1806. The play-bill for the
night ran thus:--
Theatre Royal, Drury-Lane
This present Wednesday, December 10, 1806
Their Majesties Servants will act the Operatic Drama of
Or, Music's Fascination
After which will be produced (Never Acted) a new Farce, in Two acts,
The Characters by
Mr. Wewitzer, Mr. Hartley, Mr. Penley, Mr. Purser
Mr. Carles, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Fisher, Mr. Placide, Mr. Webb
Miss Mellon, Mrs. Sparks
Miss Tidswell, Mrs. Harlowe
Mrs. Scott, Mrs. Maddocks, Miss Sanders
The Prologue to be spoken by Mr. Elliston
According to Mrs. Baron-Wilson's _Memoirs of (Miss Mellon)
Harriet, Duchess of St. Albans_, Lamb was allowed to cast "Mr.
H----" himself. Miss Mellon played the heroine.
The Lambs sat near the orchestra with Hazlitt and Crabb Robinson, and
the house was well salted with friendly clerks from the East India House
and the South-Sea House. The prologue went capitally; and all was well
with the play until the name of Hogsflesh was pronounced. Then
disapproval set in in a storm of hisses, in which, Crabb Robinson tells
us, Lamb joined heartily, standing on his seat to do so.
In a report of the first night of "Mr. H----" in _Monthly Literary
Recreations_ for December, 1806, we read that on the secret of the name
being made public "all interest vanished, the audience were disgusted,
and the farce went on to its very conclusion almost unheard, amidst the
contending clamours of 'Silence,' 'Hear! hear!' and 'Off! off! off!'"
Writing to Wordsworth on the next day Lamb told the story:--"Mr. H----
came out last night and failed. I had many fears; the subject was not
substantial enough. John Bull must have solider fare than a _Letter_. We
are pretty stout about it, have had plenty of condoling friends, but
after all, we had rather it should have succeeded. You will see the
Prologue in most of the Morning Papers. It was received with such shouts
as I never witness'd to a Prologue. It was attempted to be encored. How
hard! a thing I did merely as a task, because it was wanted--and set no
great store by; and Mr. H.!! The quantity of friends we had in the house
my brother and I being in Public Offices &c. was astonishing--but they
yielded at length to a few hisses--"a hundred hisses--damn the word, I
write it like kisses--how different--a hundred hisses outweigh 1000
claps. The former come more directly from the Heart. Well, 'tis
withdrawn and there is an end. Better Luck to us."
Writing to Sarah Stoddart, Lamb put the case thus:--"Mary is a little
cut at the ill success of 'Mr. H.,' which came out last night, and
_failed_. I know you'll be sorry, but never mind. We are determined not
to be cast down. I am going to leave off tobacco, and then we must
thrive. A smoking man must write smoky farces." Thereafter Lamb's
attitude to "Mr. H----" was always one of humorous resignation.
Lamb should have chosen a better, by which I mean a worse,
name than Hogsflesh. As a matter of fact a great number of
persons had become quite accustomed to the asperities of Hogsflesh,
not only from the famous cricketer of that name, one of the pioneers
of the game, but also from the innkeeper at Worthing. Indeed an
old rhyme current at the end of the eighteenth century anticipated
some of Lamb's humour, for the two principal landlords of Worthing,
which was just then beginning to be a fashionable resort, were
named Hogsflesh and Bacon, leading to the quatrain:--
Brighton is a pretty street,
Worthing is much taken;
If you can't get any other meat
There's Hogsflesh and Bacon.
The Drury Lane authorities do not seem to have considered the failure as
absolute as did Lamb, for on the next day--December 11--the bills
*** The New Farce of Mr. H----, performed for the first time last
night, was received by an overflowing audience with universal applause,
and will be repeated for the second time to-morrow.
But the next evening's bill--December 12, 1806--stated that "The New
Farce of Mr. H---- is withdrawn at the request of the author."
"Mr. H----" did not then disappear altogether from the stage. A
correspondent of _Notes and Queries_, May 26, 1855, remembered seeing it
at Philadelphia when he was a boy. The last scene, he says, particularly
amused the audience. And in William B. Wood's _Personal Recollections of
the Stage_, 1855, it is recorded of the Philadelphia Theatre, of which
he was manager, that in 1812, "Charles Lamb's excellent farce of 'Mr.
H----' met with extraordinary success, and was played an unusual number
of nights." Lamb, however, did not profit thereby.
The little play was published in Philadelphia in 1813 under the title
_Mr. H----, or Beware a Bad Name. A farce in two acts, as performed at
the Philadelphia Theatre_--Lamb's name not figuring in any way in
connection with it.
In England "Mr. H----" was not revived until 1885, when, as a curiosity,
it was played by the Dramatic Students' Society. The performance was
held at the Gaiety on October 27, 1885, the prologue being spoken by a
gentleman made up to resemble Lamb. At the Cheadle Town Hall on October
19 and 20, 1910, "Mr. H----" was given again, with the difference that
the secret of the name was disclosed from the start.
In _Notes and Queries_, August 3, 1889, the following amusing play-bill
was printed, contributed by Mr. Bertram Dobell:--
Theatre Royal, English Opera House, Strand.
This present FRIDAY, April 26, 1822,
Will be presented a FARCE called
(_N.B. This piece was damned at Drury Lane Theatre._)
Previous to which a PROLOGUE will be spoken by Mrs. EDWIN.
After the Farce (for the first Time in this country, and now performing
with immense success in Paris)
A French _Petite Comedie_, called
Le Comedien D'Etampes.
(N.B. _This piece was never acted in London, and may very probably
be damned HERE_.)
Immediately after which
A LOVER'S CONFESSION, in the shape of a SONG,
by M. EMILE
(From the Theatre de la Poste St. Martin, at Paris.)
To conclude with a _Pathetic Drama_, in
One Act, called
The Sorrows of Werther.
(N.B. This Piece was damned at Covent Garden Theatre.)
Brothers and Sisters of Charlotte, by six Cherubims
got for the occasion.
Leader of the Band, Mr. Knight, Conductor, Mr. E. Knight.
Piano Forte, Mr. Knight, Jun. Harpsichord, Master Knight (that was).
Clavecin, by the Father of the Knights, to come.
Vivat Rex! No Money returned (because none will be taken).
_On account of the above surprising Novelty, not an_ ORDER _can
possibly be admitted:_--
_But it is requested, that if such a thing finds its way into the front
of the house_, IT WILL BE KEPT.
Doors open at Half past Six, begin at Half past Seven precisely.
The Entrance for all parts of the House at the Private Box Door in
Lowndes, Printer, Marquis Court, Drury Lane, London.
Mr. Dobell wonders if Lamb had any knowledge of this performance, and he
suggests that possibly he had a hand in the bill. Certainly the
interpolations concerning damnation are in his manner.
I add a few notes:--
Page 208. _The man with the great nose_. See Slawkenbergius's tale in
_Tristram Shandy_, Vol. IV.
Page 212. _The feeling Hurley_. Harley was the hero of Henry Mackenzie's
novel, _The Man of Feeling_.
Page 217. _Jeremiah Pry_. John Poole may have taken a hint here for his
farce "Paul Pry," produced in September, 1825. Lamb and he knew each
other slightly. Lamb analysed the prying nature again in _The New Times_
early in 1825, in two papers on "Tom Pry" and "Tom Pry's Wife" which
will be found in Vol. I. of this edition.
Page 220. _Old Q----_. William Douglas, fourth Duke of Queensberry
(1724-1810), the most notorious libertine of his later days.
Page 224. _John, my valet_. This is a very similar incident to that
described in the _Elia_ essay on the "Old Benchers," where Lovel (John
Lamb) warns Samuel Salt, when dressing him, not to allude, at the party
to which he is going, to the unfortunate Miss Blandy.
Page 228, line 1. _Mother Damnable_. There was at Kentish Town a
notorious old shrew who bore this nickname in the 17th century.
* * * * *
Page 238. "THE PAWNBROKER'S DAUGHTER."
Printed in _Blackwood_, January, 1830, and not reprinted by Lamb.
This little play was never acted. Lamb refers to it in a letter to
Bernard Barton--in July, 1829--as "an old rejected farce"; and Canon
Ainger mentions a note of Lamb's to Charles Mathews, in October, 1828,
offering the farce for production at the Adelphi. The theme is one that
seems always to have interested Lamb (see his essay on the
"Inconveniences of Being Hanged," Vol. I.).
Page 243, line 3. "_An Argument against the Use of Animal Food._" Joseph
Ritson, 1752-1803, the antiquarian, was converted to vegetarianism by
Mandeville's _Fable of the Bees_. The work from which Cutlet quotes was
published in 1802. Pope's motto is from the _Essay on Man_, I., lines
Page 243, last line. _Mr. Molyneux ... in training to fight Cribb_.
Cutlet's rump steak did not avail in either of the great struggles
between Tom Cribb and Tom Molineaux. At their first meeting, on December
18, 1810, Molineaux went under at the thirty-third round; and in the
return match, on September 28, 1811, Molineaux's jaw was broken at the
ninth and he gave in at the eleventh, to the great disappointment of the
20,000 spectators. Mr. Molineaux was a negro.
END OF VOL. IV.
"In the Album of a very Young Lady"
"To Caroline Maria Applebee"
"To Cecilia Catherine Lawton"
"To a Lady who Desired me to Write Her Epitaph"
"To Her youngest Daughter"
"To Mrs. F----, on Her Return from Gibraltar"
"To Esther Field"
"To Mrs. Williams"
"An Acrostic against Acrostics"
"To Mrs. Sarah Robinson"
"Acrostic" (Joseph Vale Asbury)
"To Sarah James of Beguildy"
"To Emma Button"
Addington, Henry, Lamb's epigram on
Aders, Charles, Lamb's poem to
_Albion, The,_ and Lamb
"In the Album of a Clergyman's Lady"
"In the Autograph Book of Mrs. Sergeant W----"
"In the Album of Lucy Barton"
"In the Album of Miss ----"
"In the Album of a very Young Lady"
"In the Album of a French Teacher"
"In the Album of Miss Daubeny"
"In the Album of Mrs. Jane Towers"
"In My Own Album"
"In the Album of Edith S----"
"To Dora W----"
"In the Album of Rotha Q----"
"In the Album of Catherine Orkney"
"What is an Album"
"The First Leaf of Spring"
"To the Book"
"On Being Asked to Write in Miss Westwood's Album"
"In Miss Westwood's Album"
"The Sisters" (See also under the heading of ACROSTICS.)
Ann Simmons (Lamb's "Anna")
_Annual Anthology_, Lamb's contribution to
_Anti-Jacobin, The,_ and Lamb
"ANTONIO" by Godwin
_Athenaeum, The_, Lamb's contributions to
"Ballad Noting the Difference of Rich and Poor"
"from the German"
"Barton, Bernard, To"
Lucy, Lamb's verses to
Beaumont, Francis, quoted
_Bijou, The_, Lamb's contribution to
_Blackwood's Magazine_, the Lambs' contributions to
Blakesware and Widford
"BLANK VERSE," by Lloyd and Lamb
Burney, Martin, Lamb's sonnet to
Sarah, Lamb's poem to
Burton, Lamb's imitation of
Byron, Lord, Lamb's epigram on
Campbell, J. Dykes, on JOHN WOODVIL
Canning, George, Lamb's epigrams on
Caroline of Brunswick, Lamb's championship of
Carter, Ben, of Blakesware
"Catechist, The Young"
_Champion, The_, Lamb's contributions to
Clarkes, the Cowden
Coleridge, S.T., Lamb's dedication to
his "POEMS ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS"
and Sara, Lamb's lines to
his alteration of Lamb's sonnets
on Lamb's sonnet "We were two pretty babes"
in Gillray's cartoon
and "The Old Familiar Faces"
his translation of "Thekla's Song"
Sara, her Latinity
"Composed at Midnight"
"Confidant, The," by Crabbe, adapted by Lamb
"Cook, To David"
Cornwall, Barry. See PROCTER, B.W.
Cowley, Abraham, quoted
"Cowper, To the Poet"
Crabbe, George, Lamb's adaptation of
Da Vinci, Leonardo, poems upon
Day, Matthew, Lamb's epigram on
Dedication of Lamb's "WORKS" to Coleridge
of Lamb's "POEMS," 1797, to his sister
Dedication of Lamb's "ALBUM VERSES" to Moxon
"Dialogue between a Mother and Child"
"Divine Subjects, Fancy Employed on"
Dix, Margaret, Lamb's epitaph on
Dockwra, Tom, of Widford
Dorrell, William, the swindler
"Douglas, The Tomb of"
Drake, Onesimus, of the East India House
Druitt, Mary, Lamb's epitaph upon
East India House epigrams
_Englishman's Magazine_, Lamb's contributions to
Epigrams possibly by Lamb
Epilogue to Godwin's "ANTONIO"
to Siddons' "TIME'S A TELL-TALE"
to Kenney's "DEBTOR AND CREDITOR"
to an amateur performance of "RICHARD II"
to Knowles' "THE WIFE"
"Epitaph on a Dog"
"on a Young Lady"
_Examiner_, The, Lamb's contributions to
"Existence, Considered in Itself, no Blessing"
"Faces, The Old Familiar"
"Family Name, The"
"Fancy Employed on Divine Subjects"
"Farewell to Tobacco, A"
"FARMER, PRISCILLA, POEMS ON THE DEATH OF"
Fast Day, Lamb's epigram on
"FAULKENER," by Godwin
"Female Orators, The"
Fenwick, John, editor of _The Albion_
Field, family, the poems to
Mrs., Lamb's grandmother
"Free Thoughts on Several Eminent Composers"
Frend, Sophia, Lamb's poems to,
Frere, John Hookham, Lamb's epigram on
"Friend, To a"
"From the Latin"
Fryer, Miss, Lamb's poem for
George IV., Lamb's epigrams on
Gifford, William, Lamb's sonnet upon
Gillray, James, his cartoons