Part 9 out of 11
her unprovided for. His father, and Emma Isola's grandfather, was
Agostino Isola, who settled at Cambridge and taught Italian there.
Wordsworth was among his pupils. He edited a collection of _Pieces
selected from the Italian Poets_, 1778; also editions of _Gerusalemme
Liberata_ and _Orlando Furioso_, and a book of _Italian Dialogues_. Emma
Isola is first mentioned by Lamb in an unpublished letter written to her
aunt, Miss Humphreys, in January, 1821, arranging for the little girl's
return to Trumpington Street, Cambridge, from London, where she had been
spending her holidays with the Lambs. The Lambs had met her at Cambridge
in the summer of 1820. The exact date of her adoption by the Lambs
cannot be ascertained now. Emma Isola married Edward Moxon in 1833, and
lived until 1891.
* * * * *
Page 58. _To the Same_.
Writing to Procter in January, 1829, Lamb calls Miss Isola "a silent
brown girl," and in his letter of November, 1833, to Mr. and Mrs. Moxon,
he says: "I hope you [Moxon] and Emma will have many a quarrel and many
a make-up (and she is beautiful in reconciliation!) ..." See the poem
"To a Friend on His Marriage," page 80, for a further description of
Emma Isola's character.
* * * * *
Page 58. _Harmony in Unlikeness_.
The two lovely damsels were Emma Isola and her friend Maria.
* * * * *
Page 59. _Written at Cambridge_.
This sonnet was first printed in _The Examiner_, August 29 and 30, 1819,
and was dated August 15. Lamb, we now know, from a letter recently
discovered, was in Cambridge in August, 1819, just after being refused
by Miss Kelly. Hazlitt in his essay "On the Conversation of Authors" in
the _London Magazine_ for September, 1820, referred to Lamb's visit to
him some years before, and his want of ease among rural surroundings,
adding: "But when we cross the country to Oxford, then he spoke a
little. He and the old collegers were hail-fellow-well-met: and in the
quadrangle he 'walked gowned.'"
Page 59. _To a Celebrated Female Performer in the "Blind Boy."_
First printed in the _Morning Chronicle_, 1819. "The Blind Boy,"
"attributed," says Genest, "to Hewetson," was produced in 1807. It was
revived from time to time. Miss Kelly used to play Edmond, the title
Page 59. _Work_.
First printed in _The Examiner_, June 20 and 21, 1819, under the title
Many years earlier we see the germ of this sonnet in Lamb's mind, as
indeed we see the germ of so many ideas that were not fully expressed
till later, for he always kept his thoughts at call. Writing to
Wordsworth in September, 1805, he says:--"Hang work! I wish that all the
year were holyday. I am sure that Indolence indefeasible Indolence is
the true state of man, and business the invention of the Old Teazer who
persuaded Adam's Master to give him an apron and set him a-houghing. Pen
and Ink and Clerks, and desks, were the refinements of this old torturer
a thousand years after...."
Lamb probably was as fond of this sonnet as of anything he wrote in what
might be called his second poetical period. He copied it into his first
letter to Bernard Barton, in September, 1822, and he drew attention to
it in his _Elia_ essay "The Superannuated Man."
* * * * *
Page 60. _Leisure_.
First printed in the _London Magazine_ for April, 1821, probably, I
think, as a protest against the objection taken by some persons to the
opinions expressed by Lamb in his essay on "New Year's Eve" in that
magazine for January (see Vol. II., and notes). Lamb had therein said,
speaking of death:--"I am not content to pass away 'like a weaver's
shuttle.' Those metaphors solace me not, nor sweeten the unpalatable
draught of mortality. I care not to be carried with the tide, that
smoothly bears human life to eternity; and reluct at the inevitable
course of destiny. I am in love with this green earth; the face of town
and country; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the sweet security of
streets. I would set up my tabernacle here. I am content to stand still
at the age to which I am arrived; I, and my friends. To be no younger,
no richer, no handsomer. I do not want to be weaned by age; or drop,
like mellow fruit, as they say, into the grave."
Such sentiments probably called forth some private as well as public
protests; and it was, as I imagine, in a whimsical wish to emphasise the
sincerity of his regard for life that Lamb reiterated that devotion in
the emphatic words of "Leisure" in the April number. This sonnet was a
special favourite with Edward FitzGerald.
It is sad to think that Lamb, when his leisure came, had too much of it.
Writing to Barton on July 25, 1829, during one of his sister's
illnesses, he says: "I bragg'd formerly that I could not have too much
time. I have a surfeit.... I am a sanguinary murderer of time, that
would kill him inchmeal just now."
Page 60. _To Samuel Rogers, Esq_.
Daniel Rogers, the poet's elder brother, died in 1829. In acknowledging
Lamb's sonnet, Samuel Rogers wrote the following letter, which Lamb
described to Barton (July 3, 1829) as the prettiest he ever read.
Many, many thanks. The verses are beautiful. I need not say with
what feelings they were read. Pray accept the grateful
of us all, and believe me when I say that nothing could have been
a greater cordial to us in our affliction than such a testimony from such
a quarter. He was--for none knew him so well--we were born within a
year or two of each other--a man of a very high mind, and with less
disguise than perhaps any that ever lived. Whatever he was, _that_ we
saw. He stood before his fellow beings (if I may be forgiven for saying
so) almost as before his Maker: and God grant that we may all bear
as severe an examination. He was an admirable scholar. His Dante
and his Homer were as familiar to him as his Alphabets: and he had
the tenderest heart. When a flock of turkies was stolen from his farm,
the indignation of the poor far and wide was great and loud. To me he
is the greatest loss, for we were nearly of an age; and there is now no
human being alive in whose eyes I have always been young.
Yours most gratefully,
Another sonnet to Rogers will be found on p. 100.
* * * * *
Page 61. _The Gipsy's Malison_.
First printed in _Blackwood's Magazine_, January, 1829. Lamb had sent it
to _The Gem_, but, as he told Procter in a letter on January 22, 1829:
"The editors declined it, on the plea that it would _shock all mothers;_
so they published the 'Widow' [Hood's parody of Lamb] instead. I am born
out of time. I have no conecture about what the present world calls
delicacy. I thought _Rosamund Gray_ was a pretty modest thing. Hessey
assures me that the world would not bear it. I have lived to grow into
an indecent character. When my sonnet was rejected, I exclaimed,
'Hang the age, I will write for Antiquity!'"
In another letter to Procter, Lamb tells the sonnet's history:--
"_January_ 29, 1829.
"When Miss Ouldcroft (who is now Mrs. Beddam [Badams], and Bed-dam'd to
her!) was at Enfield, which she was in summer-time, and owed her health
to its suns and genial influences, she visited (with young lady-like
impertinence) a poor man's cottage that had a pretty baby (O the
yearnling!), gave it fine caps and sweetmeats. On a day, broke into the
parlour our two maids uproarious. 'O ma'am, who do you think Miss
Ouldcroft (they pronounce it Holcroft) has been working a cap for?' 'A
child," answered Mary, in true Shandean female simplicity.' 'Tis the
man's child as was taken up for sheep-stealing.' Miss Ouldcroft was
staggered, and would have cut the connection; but by main force I made
her go and take her leave of her protegee. I thought, if she went no
more, the Abactor or the Abactor's wife (_vide_ Ainsworth) would suppose
she had heard something; and I have delicacy for a sheep-stealer. The
overseers actually overhauled a mutton-pie at the baker's (his first,
last, and only hope of mutton pie), which he never came to eat, and
thence inferred his guilt. _Per occasionem cujus_, I framed the sonnet;
observe its elaborate construction. I was four days about it. [Here came
the sonnet.] Barry, study that sonnet. It is curiously and perversely
elaborate. 'Tis a choking subject, and therefore the reader is directed
to the structure of it. See you? and was this a fourteener to be
rejected by a trumpery annual? forsooth,'twould shock all mothers; and
may all mothers, who would so be shocked, be damned! as if mothers were
such sort of logicians as to infer the future hanging of _their_ child
from the theoretical hangibility (or capacity of being hanged, if the
judge pleases) of every infant born with a neck on. Oh B.C.! my whole
heart is faint, and my whole head is sick (how is it?) at this damned
canting unmasculine age!"
[Footnote 27: Talfourd. Canon Ainger gives "Damn"]
* * * * *
Page 61. _To the Author of Poems, published under the name of Barry
Printed in the _London Magazine_, September, 1820.
Barry Cornwall was the pen-name of Bryan Waller Procter, 1787-1874,
whose impulse to write poetry came largely from Lamb himself. In his
_Dramatic Scenes_, 1819, was the beginning of a blank-verse treatment or
adaptation of Lamb's "Rosamund Gray." Procter addressed to Lamb some
excellent lines "Over a Flask of Sherris," which were printed in the
_London Magazine_, 1825, and again in _English Songs_, 1832. His
_Martian Colonna; an Italian Tale_, was published in 1820 and his
_Sicilian Story_ later in the same year. The "Dream" was printed in
_Dramatic Scenes_. Procter in his old age wrote a charming memoir of
* * * * *
Page 62. _To R.S. Knowles, Esq_.
First printed in the _London Magazine_, September, 1820. By a curious
oversight the error in Knowles's initials was repeated in the _Album
Verses_, 1830, Knowles's first name being, of course, James. James
Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862) had been a doctor, a schoolmaster, an
actor, and a travelling elocutionist, before he took seriously to
writing for the stage. His first really successful play was "Virginius,"
written for Edmund Kean, transferred to Macready, and produced in 1820.
His greatest triumph was "The Hunchback," 1832. Lamb, who met Knowles
through William Hazlitt, of Wem, the essayist's father, wrote both the
prologue and epilogue for Knowles's play "The Wife," 1833 (see pages
* * * * *
Page 63. _Quatrains to the Editor of the "Every-Day Book_."
First printed in the _London Magazine_, May, 1825, and copied by Hone
into the _Every-Day Book_ for July 9 of the same year. William Hone (see
Vol. I. notes), 1780-1842, was a bookseller, pamphleteer and antiquary,
who, before he took to editing his _Every-Day Book_ in 1825, had passed
through a stormy career on account of his critical outspokenness and
want of ordinary political caution; and Lamb did by no means a
fashionable thing when he commended Hone thus publicly. The _Every-Day
Book_, begun in 1825, was, when published in 1826, dedicated by Hone to
Charles Lamb and his sister. "Your daring to publish me your 'friend,'
with your 'proper name' annexed," Hone wrote, "I shall never forget."
Page 63. Acrostics.
In his more leisurely years, at Islington and Enfield, Lamb wrote a
great number of acrostics--many more probably than have been
preserved--of which these, printed in _Album Verses_, are all that he
cared to see in print. Probably he found his chief impulse in Emma
Isola's schoolfellows and friends, who must have been very eager to
obtain in their albums a contribution from so distinguished a gentleman
as Elia, and who passed on their requests through his adopted daughter.
I have not been able to trace the identity of several of them. The lady
who desired her epitaph was Mrs. Williams in whose house Emma Isola was
governess. While there Emma was seriously ill, and Lamb travelled down
to Fornham, in Suffolk, in 1830, to bring her home. On returning he
wrote Mrs. Williams several letters, in one of which, dated Good Friday,
he said:--"I beg you to have inserted in your county paper something
like this advertisement; 'To the nobility, gentry, and others, about
Bury,--C. Lamb respectfully informs his friends and the public in
general, that he is leaving off business in the acrostic line, as he is
going into an entirely new line. Rebuses and Charades done as usual, and
upon the old terms. Also, Epitaphs to suit the memory of any person
Mrs. Williams probably then suggested that Lamb should write her
epitaph, for in his next letter he says:--"I have ventured upon some
lines, which combine my old acrostic talent (which you first found out)
with my new profession of epitaphmonger. As you did not please to say,
when you would die, I have left a blank space for the date. May kind
heaven be a long time in filling it up."
On page 48 will be found some lines to one of Mrs. Williams' daughters.
The acrostic on page 65 is to another. These would both be Emma Isola's
* * * * *
Page 66. _Translations from Vincent Bourne_.
Vincent Bourne (1695-1747), the English Latin poet, entered Westminster
School on the foundation in 1710, and, on leaving Cambridge, returned to
Westminster as a master. He was so indolent a teacher and disciplinarian
that Cowper, one of his pupils, says: "He seemed determined, as he was
the best, so to be the last, Latin poet of the Westminster line."
Bourne's _Poemata_ appeared in 1734. It is mainly owing to Cowper's
translations (particularly "The Jackdaw") that he is known, except to
Latinists. Lamb first read Bourne in 1815. Writing to Wordsworth in
April of that year he says:--"Since I saw you I have had a treat in the
reading way which comes not every day. The Latin Poems of V. Bourne
which were quite new to me. What a heart that man had, all laid out upon
town and scenes, a proper counterpoise to _some people's_ rural
extravaganzas. Why I mention him is that your Power of Music reminded me
of his poem of the ballad singer in the Seven Dials. Do you remember his
epigram on the old woman who taught Newton the A B C, which after all he
says he hesitates not to call Newton's _Principia_? I was lately
fatiguing myself with going through a volume of fine words by L'd
Thurlow, excellent words, and if the heart could live by words alone, it
could desire no better regale, but what an aching vacuum of matter--I
don't stick at the madness of it, for that is only a consequence of
shutting his eyes and thinking he is in the age of the old Elisabeth
poets--from thence I turned to V. Bourne--what a sweet unpretending
pretty-mannered _matter-ful_ creature, sucking from every flower, making
a flower of every thing--his diction all Latin, and his thoughts all
English. Bless him, Latin wasn't good enough for him--why wasn't he
content with the language which Gay and Prior wrote in."
On the publication of _Album Verses_, wherein these nine poems from
Vincent Bourne were printed, Lamb reviewed the book in Moxon's
_Englishman's Magazine_ for September, 1831, under the title "The Latin
Poems of Vincent Bourne" (see Vol. I.). There he quoted "The Ballad
Singers," and the "Epitaph on an Infant Sleeping"--remarking of
Bourne:--"He is 'so Latin,' and yet 'so English' all the while. In
diction worthy of the Augustan age, he presents us with no images that
are not familiar to his countrymen. His topics are even closelier drawn;
they are not so properly English, as _Londonish_. From the streets, and
from the alleys, of his beloved metropolis, he culled his objects, which
he has invested with an Hogarthian richness of colouring. No town
picture by that artist can go beyond his BALLAD-SINGERS; Gay's TRIVIA
alone, in verse, comes up to the life and humour of it."
* * * * *
Page 72. _Pindaric Ode to the Tread Mill_.
First printed in _The New Times_, October 24, 1825. The version there
given differed considerably from that preserved by Lamb. It had no
divisions. At the end of what is now the first strophe qame these
Now, by Saint Hilary,
(A Saint I love to swear by,
Though I should forfeit thereby
Five ill-spared shillings to your well-warm'd seat,
Worshipful Justices of Worship-street;
Or pay my crown
At great Sir Richard's still more awful mandate down:)
They raise my gorge--
Those Ministers of Ann, or the First George,
(Which was it?
For history is silent, and my closet--
Reading affords no clue;
I have the story, Pope, alone from you;)
In such a place, &c.
Lamb offered the Ode to his friend Walter Wilson, for his work on Defoe,
to which Lamb contributed prose criticisms (see Vol. I.), but Wilson did
not use it. The letter making this offer, together with the poem,
differing very slightly in one or two places, is preserved in the
* * * * *
Page 75. _Going or Gone_.
First printed in Hone's _Table Book_, 1827, signed Elia, under the title
"Gone or Going." It was there longer, after stanza 6 coming the
Had he mended in right time,
He need not in night time,
(That black hour, and fright-time,)
Till sexton interr'd him,
Have groan'd in his coffin,
While demons stood scoffing--
You'd ha' thought him a-coughing--
My own father heard him!
Could gain so importune,
With occasion opportune,
That for a poor Fortune,
That should have been ours,
In soul he should venture
To pierce the dim center,
Where will-forgers enter Amid the dark Powers?--
And in the _Table Book_ the last stanza ended thus:--
And flaunting Miss Waller--
_That_ soon must befal her,
Which makes folks seem taller,--
Though proud, once, as Juno!
[Footnote 28: Who sat up with him.]
[Footnote 29: I have this fact from Parental tradition only.]
[Footnote 30: Death lengthens people to the eye.]
To annotate this curious tale of old friendships, dating back, as I
suppose, in some cases to Lamb's earliest memories, both of London and
Hertfordshire, is a task that is probably beyond completion. The day is
too distant. But a search in the Widford register and churchyard reveals
a little information and oral tradition a little more.
Stanza 2. _Rich Kitty Wheatley_. The Rev. Joseph Whately, vicar of
Widford in the latter half of the eighteenth century, married Jane
Plumer, sister of William Plumer, of Blakesware, the employer of Mrs.
Field, Lamb's grandmother. Archbishop Whately was their son. Kitty
Wheatley may have been a relative.
Stanza 2. _Polly Perkin_. On June 1, 1770, according to the Widford
register, Samuel Perkins married Mary Lanham. This may have been Polly.
Stanza 3. _Carter ... Lily_. The late Mrs. Tween, a daughter of Randal
Norris, Lamb's friend, and a resident in Widford, told Canon Ainger that
Carter and Lily were servants at Blakesware. Lily had noticeably red
cheeks. Lamb would have seen them often when he stayed there as a boy.
In Cussan's _Hertfordshire_ is an entertaining account of William
Plumer's widow's adhesion to the old custom of taking the air. She rode
out always--from Gilston, only a few miles from Widford and
Blakesware--in the family chariot, with outriders and postilion (a
successor to Lily), and so vast was the equipage that "turn outs" had to
be cut in the hedges (visible to this day), like sidings on a
single-line railway, to permit others to pass. The Widford register
gives John Lilley, died October 18, 1812, aged 85, and Johanna Lilley,
died January 1, 1823, aged 90. It also gives Benjamin Carter's marriage,
in 1781, but not his death.
Stanza 4. _Clemitson's widow_. Mrs. Tween told Canon Ainger that
Clemitson was the farmer of Blakesware farm. I do not find the name in
the Widford register. An Elizabeth Clemenson is there.
Stanza 4. _Good Master Clapton_. There are several Claptons in Widford
churchyard. Thirty years from 1827, the date of the poem, takes us to
1797: the Clapton whose death occurred nearest that time is John Game
Clapton, May 5, 1802.
Stanza 5. _Tom Dockwra_. I cannot find definite information either
concerning this Dockwra or the William Dockwray, of Ware, of whom Lamb
wrote in his "Table Talk" in _The Athenaeum_, 1834 (see Vol. I.). There
was, however, a Joseph Docwray, of Ware, a Quaker maltster; and the late
Mrs. Coe, _nee_ Hunt, the daughter of the tenant of the water-mill at
Widford in Lamb's day, where Lamb often spent a night, told me that a
poor family named Docwray lived in the neighbourhood.
Stanza 6. _Worral ... Dorrell_. I find neither Worral nor Dorrell in the
Widford archives, but Morrils and Morrells in plenty, and one Horrel.
Lamb alludes to old Dorrell again in the _Elia_ essay "New Year's Eve,"
where he is accused of swindling the family out of money. Particulars of
his fraud have perished with him, but I have no doubt it is the same
William Dorrell who witnessed John Lamb's will in 1761. In the _Table
Book_ this stanza ended thus:--
With cuckoldy Worral,
And wicked old Dorrel,
'Gainst whom I've a quarrel--
His end might affright us.
Stanzas 8 and 9. _Fanny Hutton ... Betsy Chambers ... Miss Wither ...
Miss Waller_. Fanny Hutton, Betsy Chambers, Miss Wither and Miss Waller
elude one altogether. Lamb's schoolmistress, Mrs. Reynolds, was a Miss
* * * * *
Page 78. NEW POEMS IN LAMB'S _POETICAL WORKS_, 1836.
In 1836 Moxon issued a new edition of Lamb's poems, consisting of those
in the _Works_, 1818, and those in _Album Verses_--with a few
exceptions and several additions--under the embracive title _The
Poetical Works of Charles Lamb_. Whether Moxon himself made up this
volume, or whether Mary Lamb or Talfourd assisted, I do not know. The
dedication to Coleridge stood at the beginning, and that to Moxon half
Page 78. _In the Album of Edith S----_.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, March 9, 1833, under the title
"Christian Names of Women." Edith S---- was Edith May Southey, the
poet's daughter, who married the Rev. John Wood Warter.
Page 78. _To Dora W----_.
Dora, _i.e._, Dorothy Wordsworth, the poet's daughter, who married
Edward Quillinan, and thus became stepmother of Rotha Q---- of the next
* * * * *
Page 79. _In the Album of Rotha Q----_.
Rotha Quillinan, younger daughter of Edward Quillinan (1791-1851),
Wordsworth's friend and, afterwards, son-in-law. His first wife, a
daughter of Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges, was burned to death in 1822
under the most distressing circumstances. Rotha Quillinan, who was
Wordsworth's god-daughter, was so called from the Rotha which flows
through Rydal, close to Quillinan's house.
* * * * *
Page 80. _To T. Stothard, Esq_.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, December 21, 1833. In a letter to
Rogers in December, 1833, Lamb alludes to his sonnet to the poet (see
page 100), adding that for fear it might not altogether please Stothard
he has "ventured at an antagonist copy of verses, in _The Athenaeum_, to
_him_, in which he is as every thing, and you [Rogers] as nothing."
Thomas Stothard (1755-1834) was at that time seventy-eight. He had long
been the friend of Rogers, having helped in the decoration of his house
in 1803 and illustrated the _Pleasures of Memory_ as far back as 1793.
Lamb's sonnet refers particularly to the edition of Rogers' _Poems_ that
is dated 1834, which Stothard and Turner embellished. Stothard
illustrated very many of the standard novels for Harrison's _Novelists'
Magazine_ towards the end of the eighteenth century, among these being
Richardson's, Fielding's, Smollett's and Sterne's. In Robert Paltock's
_Life and Adventures of Peter Wilkins_, 1751, a flying people are
described, among whom the males were "Glums" and the females
"Gawries."--Titian lived to be ninety-nine.
Page 80. _To a Friend on His Marriage_.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, December 7, 1833. The friend was
Edward Moxon, whose marriage to Emma Isola, Lamb's adopted daughter, was
solemnised on July 30, 1833. Lamb mentions more than once the absence of
any dowry with Miss Isola. His own wedding present to them was the
portrait of Milton which his brother, John Lamb, had left to him.
* * * * *
Page 81. _The Self-Enchanted_.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, January 7, 1832.
* * * * *
Page 82. _To Louisa M---, whom I used to call "Monkey."_
First printed in Hone's _Year Book_ for December 30, 1831, under the
title "The Change." (See the verses "The Ape," on page 89, and note, the
forerunner of the present poem, addressed also to Louisa Martin.)
Page 82. _Cheap Gifts: a Sonnet_.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, February 15, 1834.
* * * * *
Page 83. _Free Thoughts on Several Eminent Composers_. Lamb was very
fond of these lines, which he sent to more than one of his friends. The
text varies in some of the copies, but I have not thought it necessary
to indicate the differences. Its inspiration was attributed by him both
to William Ayrton (1777-1858), the musical critic, and to Vincent
Novello (1781-1861), the organist, composer and close friend of Lamb. In
a letter to Sarah Hazlitt in 1830 Lamb copies the poem,
remarking--"Having read Hawkins and Burney recently, I was enabled to
talk [to Ayrton] of Names, and show more knowledge than he had suspected
I possessed; and in the end he begg'd me to shape my thoughts upon
paper, which I did after he was gone, and sent him."
So Lamb wrote to Mrs. Hazlitt. But to Ayrton, when he sent the verses,
he said:--"[Novello] desiring me to give him my real opinion respecting
the distinct grades of excellence in all the eminent Composers of the
Italian, German and English schools, I have done it, rather to oblige
him than from any overweening opinion I have of my own judgment in that
Both these statements are manifestations of what Lamb called his
"matter-of-lie" disposition. To Mrs. Hazlitt he thought that Ayrton's
name would be more important; to Ayrton, Novello's.
The verses, whatever their origin, were written by Lamb in Novello's
Album, with this postscript, signed by Mary Lamb, added:--
The reason why my brother's so severe,
Vincentio, is--my brother has no _ear_;
And Caradori, his mellifluous throat
Might stretch in vain to make him learn a note.
Of common tunes he knows not anything,
Nor "Rule Britannia" from "God save the King."
He rail at Handel! He the gamut quiz!
I'd lay my life he knows not what it is.
His spite at music is a pretty whim--
He loves not it, because it loves not him.
* * * * *
Page 85. _Dramatic Fragment_.
_London Magazine_, January, 1822. An excerpt from Lamb's play, "Pride's
Cure" (_John Woodvil_). See note below.
* * * * *
Page 86. _Dick Strype_.
Writing to John Rickman in January, 1802, Lamb says, "My editor [Dan
Stuart of the _Morning Post_] uniformly rejects all that I do,
considerable in length. I shall only do paragraphs with now and then a
slight poem, such as Dick Strype, if you read it, which was but a long
epigram." The verses, which appeared on January 6, 1802, may be compared
with the story of Ephraim Wagstaff, on page 432 of Vol. I., written
twenty-five years later. It has been pointed out that _Points of
Misery_, 1823, by Charles Molloy Westmacott (Bernard Blackmantle of the
_English Spy_), contains the poem with slight alterations. But
Westmacott reaped where he could, and his book is confessedly not wholly
original. Lamb seems to me to admit authorship by implication fairly
completely. Westmacott was only thirteen when it was first printed.
* * * * *
Page 88. _Two Epitaphs on a young Lady, etc_.
_Morning Post_, February 7, 1804. Signed C.L. Lamb sends the poem both
to Wordsworth and Manning in 1803. He says to Manning:--"Did I send you
an epitaph I scribbled upon a poor girl who died at nineteen?--a good
girl, and a pretty girl, and a clever girl, but strangely neglected by
all her friends and kin.... Brief, and pretty, and tender, is it not? I
send you this, being the only piece of poetry I have _done_ since the
Muses all went with T.M. [Thomas Manning] to Paris."
The young lady was Mary Druitt of Wimborne who died of consumption in
1801. The verses are not on her tombstone. A letter from Lamb to his
friend Rickman (see Canon Ainger's edition), shows that it was for
Rickman that the lines were written. Lamb did not know Mary Druitt.
Writing to Rickman in February, 1802, Lamb sends the second
epitaph:--"Your own prose, or nakedly the letter which you sent me,
which was in some sort an epitaph, would do better on her gravestone
than the cold lines of a stranger."
* * * * *
Page 89. _The Ape_.
Printed in the _London Magazine_, October, 1820, where it was preceded
by these words:--
"To THE EDITOR
"Mr. Editor,--The riddling lines which I send you, were written upon a
young lady, who, from her diverting sportiveness in childhood, was named
by her friends The Ape. When the verses were written, L.M. had outgrown
the title--but not the memory of it--being in her teens, and
consequently past child-tricks. They are an endeavour to express that
perplexity, which one feels at any alteration, even supposed for the
better, in a beloved object; with a little oblique grudging at Time, who
cannot bestow new graces without taking away some portion of the older
ones, which we can ill miss.
L.M. was Louisa Martin, who is now and then referred to in Lamb's letter
as Monkey, and to whom he addressed the lines on page 82, which come as
a sequel to the present ones. In a letter to Wordsworth, many years
later, dated February 22, 1834, Lamb asks a favour for this lady:--"The
oldest and best friends I have left are in trouble. A branch of them
(and they of the best stock of God's creatures, I believe) is
establishing a school at Carlisle; Her name is Louisa Martin ... her
qualities ... are the most amiable, most upright. For thirty years she
has been tried by me, and on her behaviour I would stake my soul."
* * * * *
Page 90. _In Tabulam Eximii...._
These Latin verses were printed in _The Champion_, May 6 and 7, 1820,
signed Carlagnulus, accompanied by this notice: "We insert, with great
pleasure, the following beautiful Latin Verses on HAYDON'S fine Picture,
and shall be obliged to any of our correspondents for a spirited
translation for our next." The following week brought one
translation--Lamb's own--signed C.L. Both were reprinted in _The
Poetical Recreations of "The Champion"_ in 1822, and again in Tom
Taylor's _Life of Haydon_, 1853.
Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846) was for six years at work upon this
picture--"Christ's Entry into Jerusalem"--which was exhibited at the
Egyptian Hall in 1820. The story goes that Mrs. Siddons established the
picture's reputation in society. While the private-view company were
assembled in doubt the great actress entered and walked across the room.
"It is completely successful," she was heard to say to Sir George
Beaumont; and then, to Haydon, "The paleness of your Christ gives it a
supernatural look." A stream of 30,000 persons followed this verdict.
The picture is now in Philadelphia.
Line 4. _Palma_. There were two Palmas, both painters of the Venetian
school. Giacomo Palma the Elder, who is referred to here, was born about
1480. Both painted many scenes in the life of Christ.
Lines 7 and 8. _Flaccus' sentence_.
Valeat res ludicra si me
Palma negata macrum, donata reducit opimum.
Horace, _Epist., II_., I, 180-181.
(Farewell to performances, if the palm, denied, sends one home lean,
but, granted, flourishing.)
Lamb has not quite represented the poet's meaning, which is a profession
of independence in regard to popular applause.
* * * * *
Page 91. _Sonnet to Miss Burney...._
First printed in the _Morning Chronicle_, July 13, 1820. The Burney
family began to be famous with Dr. Charles Burney (1726-1814), the
musician, the author of the _History of Music_, and the friend of Dr.
Johnson and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Among his children were the Rev.
Charles Burney (1757-1817), the classical scholar and owner of the
Burney Library, now in the British Museum; Rear-Admiral James Burney
(1750-1821), who sailed with Cook, wrote the _Chronological History of
the Discoveries in the South Sea or Pacific Ocean_, and became a friend
of Lamb; Frances Burney, afterwards Madame d'Arblay (1752-1840), the
novelist, author of _Evelina, Camilla_ and _Cecilia_; and Sarah Harriet
Burney (1770?-1844), a daughter of Dr. Burney's second wife, also a
novelist, and the author, among other stories, of _Geraldine
Fauconberg_. "Country Neighbours; or, The Secret," the tale that
inspired Lamb's sonnet, formed Vols. II. and III. of Sarah Burney's
_Tales of Fancy_. Blanch is the heroine.
The good old man in Madame d'Arblay's _Camilla_ is Sir Hugh Tyrold, who
adopted the heroine.
Page 91. _To my Friend The Indicator_.
Printed in _The Indicator_, September 27, 1820, signed ****, preceded by
these words by Leigh Hunt, the editor:--
Every pleasure we could experience in a friend's approbation, we have
felt in receiving the following verses. They are from a writer, who of
all other men, knows how to extricate a common thing from commonness,
and to give it an underlook of pleasant consciousness and wisdom.
...The receipt of these verses has set us upon thinking of the
good-natured countenance, which men of genius, in all ages, have for the
most part shewn to contemporary writers.
* * * * *
Page 92. _On seeing Mrs. K---- B----_.
The late Mr. Dykes Campbell thought it very likely that these charming
verses were Lamb's. I think they may be, although it is odd that he
should not have reprinted anything so pretty. Mr. Thomas Hutchinson's
belief that they are Lamb's, added to that of their discoverer, leads me
to include them confidently here. Here and there it seems impossible
that the poem could come from any other hand: line 11 for example, and
the idea in lines 13 to 16, and the statement in lines 27 and 28. None
the less it must be borne in mind that one does but conjecture. The
lines are in _The Tickler Magazine_ for 1821.
* * * * *
Page 93. _To Emma, Learning Latin, and Desponding_.
First printed in _Blackwood's Magazine_, June, 1829.
Mary Lamb had other pupils in her time, among them Miss Kelly, the
actress, Mary Victoria Novello (afterwards Mrs. Cowden Clarke), and
William Hazlitt, the essayist's son. Emma was, of course, Emma Isola.
Sara Coleridge's translation of Martin Dobrizhoffer's _Historia de
Abiponibus_ under the title _Account of the Abipones_ was published in
1822, when she was only twenty.
"To think [Lamb wrote to Barton, on February 17, 1823, of Sara
Coleridge] that she should have had to toil thro' five octavos of that
cursed (I forget I write to a Quaker) Abbey pony History, and then to
abridge them to 3, and all for L113. At her years, to be doing stupid
Jesuits' Latin into English, when she should be reading or writing
Romances." Sara Coleridge's romance-writing came later, in 1837, when
her fairy tale, _Phantasmion_, appeared.
In its original form this sonnet in its fifth line ran thus:--
(In new tasks hardest still the first appears).
Derwent Coleridge read the sonnet in 1853 in Mrs. Moxon's album, and
copying it out, sent it to his wife, saying that he wished Sissy (his
daughter Christabel) to get it by heart. He added this note: "Charles
Lamb having discovered that this Sonnet consisted but of thirteen lines,
Miss Lamb inserted the 5th, which interrupts the flow and repeats a
rhime." Derwent Coleridge goes on to suggest two alternative lines:--
And hope may surely chase desponding fears
Let hope encouraged chase desponding fears.
Lamb, however, had already amended the fifth line (as in _Blackwood's
To young beginnings natural are these fears.
Page 93. _Lines addressed to Lieut. R.W.H. Hardy, R.N._
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, January 10, 1846, contributed by an
anonymous correspondent (probably Thomas Westwood the Younger) who sent
also "The First Leaf of Spring" (page 105). _Travels in the Interior of
Mexico in_ 1825 ... 1828, by Robert William Hale Hardy, was published in
1829. Lamb made an exception in favour of Hardy's book. Writing to Dilke
for something to read from _The Athenaum_ office, in 1833, he
particularly desired that "no natural history or useful learning, such
as Pyramids, Catacombs, Giraffes, or Adventures in Southern Africa"
might be sent.
* * * * *
Page 94. _Lines for a Monument_....
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, November 5, 1831, and again in _The
Tatler_, Hunt's paper, December 31, 1831. In August, 1830, four sons and
two daughters of John and Ann Rigg, of York, were drowned in the Ouse.
Several literary persons were asked for inscriptions for the monument,
erected at York in 1831, and that by James Montgomery, of Sheffield, was
chosen. Lamb sent his verses to Vincent Novello, through whom he seems
to have been approached in the matter, on November 8, 1830, adding:
"Will these lines do? I despair of better. Poor Mary is in a deplorable
state here at Enfield."
Page 94. _To C. Aders, Esq_.
First printed in Hone's _Year Book_ (March 19), 1831 (see note to "Angel
* * * * *
Page 95. _Hercules Pacificatus_.
First printed in the _Englishman's Magazine_, August, 1831. Suidas is
supposed to have lived in the tenth or eleventh century, and to have
compiled a _Lexicon_--a blend of biographical dictionary.
* * * * *
Page 98. _The Parting Speech of the Celestial Messenger to the Poet_.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, February 25, 1832.
Palingenius was an Italian poet of the sixteenth century, whose real
name was Pietro Angelo Mazolli, but who wrote in Latin under the name
of Marcellus Palingenius Stollatus. His _Zodiacus Vitae_, a
philosophical poem, was published in 1536.
* * * * *
Page 99. _Existence, considered in itself, no Blessing_. First printed
in _The Athenaeum_, July 7, 1832.
* * * * *
Page 100. _To Samuel Rogers, Esq., on the New Edition of his "Pleasures
First printed in _The Times_, December 13, 1833. Signed C. Lamb. This is
the sonnet mentioned in the letter which is quoted on page 344, in the
note to the sonnet to Stothard. The new edition of _Pleasures of Memory_
was published by Moxon in 1833, dated 1834.
* * * * *
Page 101. _To Clara N---- _.
First printed in _The Athenaeum_, July 26, 1834. Clara N---- was, of
course, Clara Anastasia Novello, daughter of Lamb's friend, Vincent
Novello (1781-1861), the organist, and herself a fine soprano singer
(see also the poem "The Sisters," on the same page). Miss Novello, who
was born on June 10, 1818, became the Countess Gigliucci, and survived
until March 12, 1908. _Clara Novella's Reminiscences_, compiled by her
daughter, the Contessa Valeria Gigliucci, with a memoir by Arthur Duke
Coleridge, were published in 1910. In them is this charming passage:--
How I loved dear Charles Lamb! I once hid--to avoid the ignominy
of going to bed--in the upright (cabinet) pianoforte, which in its
lowest part had a sort of tiny cupboard. In this I fell asleep, awakening
only when the party was supping. My appearance from beneath the
pianoforte was hailed with surprise by all, and with anger from my
mother; but Charles Lamb not only took me under his protection, but
obtained that henceforth I should never again be sent to bed _when he
came_, but--glory and delight!--always sit up to supper. Later, in
Frith Street days, my Father made me sing to him one day; but [Lamb]
stopped me, saying, "Clara, don't make that d--d noise!" for which,
I think, I loved him as much as for all the rest. Some verses he sent
me were addressed to "St. Clara."
In spite of Lamb's declaration about himself and want of musical sense,
both Crabb Robinson and Barron Field tell us that he was capable of
Page 101. _The Sisters_.
These verses, printed in Mr. W.C. Hazlitt's _Lamb and Hazlitt_, 1900,
"_For_ SAINT CECILIA,
At Sign'r Vincenzo Novello's
No. 67 Frith Street.
They were signed C. Lamb. One might imagine Emma, the nut-brown maid, to
be Emma Isola, as that was a phrase Lamb was fond of applying to
her--assuming the title "The Sisters" to be a pleasantry; but the late
Miss Mary Sabilia Novello assured me that the sisters were herself,
Emma Aloysia Novello and Clara Anastasia Novello (see above).
* * * * *
Page 102. _Love will Come_.
"Love will Come" was included by Lamb in a letter to Miss Fryer, a
school-fellow of Emma Isola. Lamb writes:--"By desire of Emma I have
attempted new words to the old nonsense of Tartar Drum; but _with_ the
nonsense the sound and spirit of the tune are unaccountably gone, and
_we_ have agreed to discard the new version altogether. As _you_ may be
more fastidious in singing mere silliness, and a string of well-sounding
images without sense or coherence--Drums of Tartars, who use _none_, and
Tulip trees ten foot high, not to mention Spirits in Sunbeams,
&c.,--than _we_ are, so you are at liberty to sacrifice an enspiriting
movement to a little sense, tho' I like LITTLE SENSE less than his
vagarying younger sister NO SENSE--so I send them.--The 4th line of 1st
stanza is from an old Ballad."
The old ballad is, I imagine, "Waly, Waly," of which Lamb was very fond.
Page 102. _To Margaret W----_.
This poem, believed to be the last that Lamb wrote, was printed in _The
Athenaeum_ for March 14, 1835. I have not been able to ascertain who
Margaret W---- was.
* * * * *
ALBUM VERSES AND ACROSTICS
Page 104. _What is an Album?_
These lines were probably written for Emma Isola's Album, which must not
be confounded with her Extract Book. The Album was the volume for which
Lamb, in his letters, occasionally solicited contributions. It was sold
some years ago to Mr. Quaritch, and is now, I believe, in a private
collection, although in a mutilated state, several of the poems having
been cut out. These particular lines of Lamb's were probably written by
him also in other albums, for John Mathew Gutch, his old school-fellow,
discovered them on the fly-leaf of a copy of _John Woodvil_, and sent
them to _Notes and Queries_, Oct. 11, 1856. In that version the
twenty-first line ran:--
There you have, Madelina, an album complete.
Lamb quoted from the lines in his review of his _Album Verses_, under
the title "The Latin Poems of Vincent Bourne," in the _Englishman's
Magazine_ (see Vol. I.). Two versions of the lines are copied by Lamb
into one of his Commonplace Books.
Line 6. _Sweet L.E.L.'s_. L.E.L. was, of course, Letitia Elizabeth
Landon, afterwards Mrs. Maclean (1802-1838), famous as an Album-and
Annual-poetess. Lamb, if an entry in P.G. Patmore's diary is correct,
did not admire her, or indeed any female author. He said, "If she
belonged to me I would lock her up and feed her on bread and water till
she left off writing poetry."
* * * * *
Page 105. _The First Leaf of Spring_.
Printed in _The Athenaeum_, January 10, 1846, contributed probably by
Thomas Westwood. In a note prefacing the three poems which he was
sending, this correspondent stated that "The First Leaf of Spring" had
been printed before, but very obscurely. I have not discovered where.
Page 105. _To Mrs. F---- on Her Return from Gibraltar_.
This would probably be Mrs. Jane Field, _nee_ Carncroft, the wife of
Lamb's friend, Barron Field, who inspired the _Elia_ essay on "Distant
Correspondents." Field held the Chief Justiceship of Gibraltar for some
* * * * *
Page 106. _To M. L---- F----_.
M.L. Field, the second daughter of Henry Field, and Barron Field's
sister. This lady, who lived to a great age, gave Canon Ainger the copy
of the prologue to "Richard II." written by Lamb for an amateur
performance at her home.
Page 106. _To Esther Field_.
Another of Barron Field's sisters.
The text of these three poems has been corrected by the Thomas
Hutchinson's Oxford edition.
* * * * *
Page 107. _To Mrs. Williams_.
See note above. In writing to Mrs. Williams on April 2, 1830, to tell of
Emma Isola's safe journey after her illness, Lamb says:--"How I employed
myself between Epping and Enfield the poor verses in the front of my
paper may inform you, which you may please to christen an Acrostic in a
Mrs. Williams replied with the following acrostic upon Lamb's name,
which Mr. Cecil Turner, a descendant, has sent me and which I give
according to his copy:--
TO CHARLES LAMB
_Answer to Acrostics on the Names of Two Friends._
Charmed with the lines thy hand has sent,
Honour I feel thy compliment,
Amongst thy products that have won the ear
Ranged in thy verse two friends most dear.
Lay not thy winning pen away,
Each line thou writest we bid thee stay.
Still ask to charm us with another lay.
Long-linked, long-lived by public fame,
A friend to misery whate'er its claim,
Marvel I must if e'er we find
Bestowed by Heaven a kindlier mind.
The two friends were Cecilia Catherine Lawton (see page 64) and Edward
Hogg (see page 109). In reply Lamb says (Good Friday, 1830):--"I do
assure you that your verses gratified me very much, and my sister is
quite _proud_ of them. For the first time in my life I congratulated
myself upon the shortness and meanness of my name. Had it been
Schwartzenberg or Esterhazy it would have put you to some puzzle."
Later in the same letter, referring to the present acrostic, he said
speaking of Harriet Isola, Emma's sister, she "blames my last verses as
being more written on _Mr._ Williams than on yourself; but how should I
have parted whom a Superior Power has brought together?"
Page 107. _To the Book_.
Written for the Album of Sophia Elizabeth Frend, afterwards the wife of
Augustus De Morgan, the mathematician (1806-1871), and mother of the
novelist Mr. William De Morgan. Her father was William Frend
(1757-1841), the reformer and a friend of Crabb Robinson and George
Dyer. The lines were printed in Mrs. De Morgan's _Three Score Years and
Ten_, as are also those that follow--"To S.F."
* * * * *
Page 108. _To R Q._
From the Album of Rotha Quillinan.
* * * * *
Page 109. _To S.L.... To M.L._
I have not been able to identify the Lockes. The J.F. of the last line
might be Jane Field. Copies of these poems are preserved at South
Page 109. _An Acrostic against Acrostics_.
Edward Hogg was a friend of Mr. Williams (see above). These verses were
first printed in _The Lambs_ by Mr. W.C. Hazlitt.
* * * * *
Page 110. _On being Asked to Write in Miss Westwood's Album._
Frances Westwood was the daughter of the Westwoods, with whom the Lambs
were domiciled at Enfield Chase in 1829-1832. See letters to Gillman and
Wordsworth (November 30, 1829, and January 22, 1830) for description of
the Westwoods. The only son, Thomas Westwood, who died in 1888, and was
an authority on the literature of angling, contributed to _Notes and
Queries_ some very interesting reminiscences of the Lambs in those days.
This poem and that which follows it were sent to _Notes and Queries_ by
Thomas Westwood (June 4, 1870).
It is concerning these lines that Lamb writes to Barton, in 1827:--
"Adieu to Albums--for a great while--I said when I came here, and had
not been fixed two days, but my Landlord's daughter (not at the
Pot-house) requested me to write in her female friend's, and in her own.
If I go to ---- thou art there also, O all pervading Album! All over the
Leeward Islands, in Newfoundland, and the Back Settlements, I understand
there is no other reading. They haunt me. I die of Albo-phobia!"
Page 111. _Un Solitaire._
E.I., who made the drawing in question, would be Emma Isola. The verses
were copied by Lamb into his Album, which is now in the possession of
Mrs. Alfred Morrison.
Page 111. _To S[arah] T[homas]_.
From Lamb's Album. I have not been able to trace this lady.
Page 111. _To Mrs. Sarah Robinson._
From the copy preserved among Henry Crabb Robinson's papers at Dr.
Williams' Library. Sarah Robinson was the niece of H.C.R., who was the
pilgrim in Rome. The stranger to thy land was Emma Isola, Fornham, in
Suffolk, where she was living, being near to Bury St. Edmunds, the home
of the Robinsons.
* * * * *
Page 112. _To Sarah._
From the Album of Sarah Apsey. Lamb seems to have known very many
Page 112. _To Joseph Vale Asbury._
From Lamb's Album. Jacob (not Joseph, as Lamb supposed) Vale Asbury was
the Lambs' doctor at Enfield. There are extant two amusing letters from
Lamb to Asbury.
* * * * *
Page 113. _To D.A._
From Lamb's Album. Dorothy Asbury, the wife of the doctor.
Page 113. _To Louisa Morgan._
From Lamb's Album. Louisa Morgan was probably the daughter of
Coleridge's friend, John Morgan, of Calne, in Wiltshire, with whom the
Lambs stayed in 1817--the same Morgan--"Morgan demigorgon"--who ate
walnuts better than any man Lamb knew, and munched cos-lettuce like a
rabbit (see letters to Coleridge in August, 1814). Southey and Lamb each
allowed John Morgan L10 a year in his old age and adversity, beginning
Page 113. _To Sarah James of Beguildy._
Sarah James was Mary Lamb's nurse, and the sister of the Mrs. Parsons
with whom she lived during the last years of her life. Miss James was
the daughter of the rector of Beguildy, in Shropshire. The verses are
reprinted from _My Lifetime_ by the late John Hollingshead, who was the
great-nephew of Miss James and Mrs. Parsons.
* * * * *
Page 114. _To Emma Button._
Included in a letter from Lamb to John Aitken, editor of _The Cabinet_,
July 5, 1825.
Page 114. _Written upon the cover of a blotting book. The Mirror,_ May
Identified by Mr. Walter Jerrold. First collected by Mr. Thomas
* * * * *
Page 115. POLITICAL AND OTHER EPIGRAMS.
Lamb was not a politician, but he had strong--almost
passionate--prejudices against certain statesmen and higher persons,
which impelled him now and then to sarcastic verse. The earliest
examples in this vein that can be identified are two quatrains from the
_Morning Post_ in January, 1802, printed on page 115, and the epigram
on Sir James Mackintosh in _The Albion_, printed on the same page, to
which Lamb refers in the _Elia_ essay on "Newspapers Thirty-five Years
Ago" (see Vol. II.). Until a file of _The Albion_ turns up we shall
never know how active Lamb's pen was at that time. The next belong to
the year 1812--in _The Examiner_ (see page 116)--and we then leap
another seven years or so until 1819-1820, Lamb's busiest period as a
caustic critic of affairs--in _The Examiner_, possibly the _Morning
Chronicle_, and principally in _The Champion_. After 1820, however, he
returned to this vein very seldom, and then with less bitterness and
depth of feeling. "The Royal Wonders," in _The Times_ for August 10,
1830 (see page 122), and "Lines Suggested by a Sight of Waltham Cross,"
in the _Englishman's Magazine_, September, 1831 (written, however, some
years earlier), on page 121, being his latest efforts that we know of.
Of course there must be many other similar productions to which we have
no clue--the old _Morning Post_ days doubtless saw many an epigram that
cannot now be definitely claimed for Lamb--but those that are preserved
here sufficiently show how feelingly Lamb could hate and how trenchantly
he could chastise. Others that seem to me likely to be Lamb's I could
have included; but it is well to dispense as much as possible with the
problematic. For example, I suspect Lamb of the authorship of several of
the epigrams quoted in _The Examiner_ in 1819 and 1820 from the _Morning
Chronicle_. He used to send verses to the _Morning Chronicle_ at that
time, and Leigh Hunt, the editor of _The Examiner_, would naturally be
pleased to give anything of his friend's an additional publicity.
The majority of the epigrams printed in this section might have remained
unidentified were it not that in 1822 John Thelwall, who owned and
edited _The Champion_ in 1818-1820, issued a little volume entitled _The
Poetical Recreations of "The Champion,"_ wherein Lamb's contributions
were signed R. et R. This signature being appended to certain poems of
which we know Lamb to have been the author--as "The Three Graves," which
he sent also to the _London Magazine_ (in 1825), and which he was in the
habit of reading or reciting to his friends--enables us to ascertain the
authorship of the others. A note placed by Thelwall above the index of
the book states, "it is much to be regretted that, by mere oversight, or
rather mistake, several of the printed epigrams of R. et R. have been
omitted;" but a search through the files of _The Champion_ has failed to
bring to light any others with Lamb's adopted signature.
The origin of the signature R. et R. is unknown. Mr. Percy Fitzgerald
suggests that it might stand for Romulus and Remus, but offers no
supporting theory. He might have added that so unfamiliar a countenance
is in these epigrams shown by their author, that the suggestion of a
wolf rather than a Lamb might have been intended. Lamb's principal
political epigrams were drawn from him by his intense contempt for the
character of George IV., then Prince of Wales. His treatment of Caroline
of Brunswick, as we see, moved Lamb to utterances of almost sulphurous
indignation not only for the prince himself, but for all who were on his
side, particularly Canning. Lamb, we must suppose, was wholly on the
side of the queen, thus differing from Coleridge, who when asked how his
sympathies were placed would admit only to being anti-Prince.
John Thelwall (1764-1834)--Citizen Thelwall--was one of the most popular
and uncompromising of the Radicals of the seventeen-nineties. He
belonged to the Society of the Friends of the People and other Jacobin
confederacies. In May, 1794, he was even sent to the Tower (with Home
Tooke and Thomas Hardy) for sedition; moved to Newgate in October; and
tried and acquitted in December. Lamb first met him, I fancy, in 1797,
when Thelwall was intimate with Coleridge. After 1798 Thelwall's
political activities were changed for those of a lecturer on more
pacific subjects, and later he opened an institution in London where he
taught elocution and corrected the effects of malformation of the organs
of speech. He bought _The Champion_ in 1818, and held it for two or
three years, but it did not succeed. Thelwall died in 1834. Among his
friends were Coleridge, Haydon, Hazlitt, Southey, Crabb Robinson and
Lamb, all of whom, although they laughed at his excesses and excitements
as a reformer, saw in him an invincible honesty and sincerity.
Before leaving this subject I should like to quote the following
lines from _The Champion_ of November 4 and 5, 1820:--
A LADY'S SAPPHIC
Now the calm evening hastily approaches,
Not a sound stirring thro' the gentle woodlands,
Save that soft Zephyr with his downy pinions
Scatters fresh fragrance.
Now the pale sun-beams in the west declining
Gild the dew rising as the twilight deepens,
Beauty and splendour decorate the landscape;
Night is approaching.
By the cool stream's side pensively and sadly
Sit I, while birds sing on the branches sweetly,
And my sad thoughts all with their carols soothing,
Lull to oblivion.
A correspondence on English sapphics was carried on in _The Champion_
for some weeks at this time, various efforts being printed. On November
4 appeared the "Lady's Sapphic," just quoted, signed M.S. On the
following day--for _The Champion_, like _The Examiner_, had a Saturday
and Sunday edition--this signature was changed to M.L., and was thus
given when the verses were reprinted in _The Poetical Recreations_ of
_"The Champion"_ in 1822. There is no evidence that Mary Lamb wrote it;
but she played with verse, and presumably read _The Champion_, since her
brother was writing for it, and the poem might easily be hers.
Personally I like to think it is, and that Lamb, on seeing the mistake
in the initials in the Saturday edition, hurried down to the office to
have it put right in that of Sunday. The same number of _The Champion_
(November 4 and 5, 1820) contains another poem in the same measure
signed C., which not improbably was Lamb's contribution to the pastime.
It runs as follows:--
DANAE EXPOSED WITH HER INFANT
_An English Sapphic_
Dim were the stars, and clouded was the azure, Silence in darkness
brooded on the ocean, Save when the wave upon the pebbled sea-beach
Then, O forsaken daughter of Acrisius! Seiz'd in the hour of woe and
tribulation, Thou, with the guiltless victim of thy love, didst Rock on
Sad o'er the silent bosom of the billow, Borne on the breeze and
modulated sweetly, Plaintive as music, rose the mother's tones of
"Sad is thy birth, and stormy is thy cradle, Offspring of sorrow!
nursling of the ocean! Waves rise around to pillow thee, and night winds
Lull thee to slumber!"
Page 115. _To Sir James Mackintosh._
In a letter to Manning in August, 1801, Lamb quotes this epigram as
having been printed in _The Albion_ and caused that paper's death the
previous week. In his _Elia_ essay on "Newspapers," written thirty years
later, he stated that the epigram was written at the time of
Mackintosh's departure for India to reap the fruits of his apostasy; but
here Lamb's memory deceived him, for Mackintosh was not appointed
Recorder of Bombay until 1803 and did not sail until 1804, whereas there
is reason to believe the date of Lamb's letter to Manning of August,
1801, to be accurate. The epigram must then have referred to a rumour of
some earlier appointment, for Mackintosh had been hoping for something
for several years.
Sir James Mackintosh (1765-1832), the lawyer and philosopher, had in
1791 issued his _Vindicia Galliae_, a reply to Burke's _Reflections on
the French Revolution_. Later, however, he became one of Burke's friends
and an opponent of the Revolution, and in 1798 he issued his
Introductory Discourse to his lectures on "The Law of Nature and
Nations," in which the doctrines of his _Vindiciae Gallicae_ were
repudiated. Hence his "apostasy." Mackintosh applied unsuccessfully for
a judgeship in Trinidad, and for the post of Advocate-General in Bengal,
and Lord Wellesley had invited him to become the head of a college in
Calcutta. Rumour may have credited him with any of these posts and thus
have suggested Lamb's epigram. In 1803 he was appointed Recorder of
Bombay. Lamb's dislike of Mackintosh may have been due in some measure
to Coleridge, between whom and Mackintosh a mild feud subsisted. It had
been Mackintosh, however, brother-in-law of Daniel Stuart of the
_Morning Post_, who introduced Coleridge to that paper. (See notes to
Vol. II., where further particulars of _The Albion_, edited by Lamb's
friend, John Fenwick, will be found.)
Lamb may or may not have invented the sarcasm in this epigram; but it
was not new. In Mrs. Montagu's letters, some years before, we find
something of the kind concerning Charles James Fox: "His rapid journeys
to England, on the news of the king's illness, have brought on him a
violent complaint in the bowels, which will, it is imagined, prove
mortal. However, if it should, it will vindicate his character from the
general report that he has no bowels, as has been most strenuously
asserted by his creditors."
Page 115. _Twelfth Night Characters_....
_Morning Post_, January 8, 1802.
These epigrams were identified by the late Mr. Dykes Campbell from a
letter of Lamb's to John Rickman, dated Jan. 14, 1802, printed in
A---- is, of course, Henry Addington (1757-1844), afterwards Viscount
Sidmouth. After being Speaker for eleven years, he became suddenly Prime
Minister in 1801, at the wish of George III., who was rendered uneasy by
Pitt's project for Catholic relief.
C---- and F---- were George Canning (1770-1827) and John Hookham Frere
(1769-1846) of _The Anti-Jacobin_, against whom Lamb had a grudge on
account of the _Anti-Jacobin's_ treatment of himself and Lloyd (see note
to _Blank Verse_, page 320). Lamb returned to the attack on Canning
again and again, as the epigrams that follow will show.
The epigram on Count Rumford was not included. We know that it was sent,
from the Rickman letter. The same missive tells us that that on Dr.
Solomon was also written in 1802, but it was not printed till _The
Champion_ took it on July 15 and 16, 1820. Solomon was alive in 1802 and
was therefore a present Empiric. He was a notorious quack doctor, author
of the _Guide to Health_ and the purveyor of a nostrum called Balm of
Gilead. One of Southey's letters (October 14, 1801) contains a
diverting account of this Empiric. I copy one of Solomon's
advertisements from a provincial paper:--
CORDIAL BALM OF GILEAD
To the young it will afford lasting health, strength and spirits, in
place of lassitude and debility; and to the aged and infirm it will
assuredly furnish great relief and comfort by gently and safely
invigorating the system; it will not give immortality; but if it be
in the power of medicine to gild the autumn of declining years, and
calmly and serenely protract the close of life beyond its narrow
span, this restorative is capable of effecting that grand
The price was 10s. 6d. a bottle.
Lamb's epigrams were only a few among many printed in the _Morning Post_
for January 7 and 8, 1802. Whether he wrote also the following I do not
know, but these are not inconceivably from his hand:--
Off with BRIAREUS, and his HUNDRED HANDS,
OUR NELSON, with _one arm_, unconquer'd stands!
By crooked arts, and actions sinister,
I came at first to be a Minister;
And now I am no longer Minister,
I still retain my actions sinister.
* * * * *
Page 116. _Two Epigrams_. _The Examiner_, March 22, 1812.
These epigrams have no signature, but the second of them was reprinted
in _The Poetical Recreations of "The Champion"_ (1822) with Lamb's
signature, R. et R., appended, and a note saying that it was written in
the last reign, together with an announcement that it had not appeared
in _The Champion_, but was inserted in that collection at the author's
request. By Princeps and the heir-apparent is meant, of course, the
Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV., who had just entered upon office
as Regent. The epigrams refer to his transfer of confidence, if so it
may be called, from the Whig party to the Marquis Wellesley, Perceval
and the Tory party. The circumstance that the Prince of Wales was also
Duke of Cornwall is referred to in the first epigram. The second of the
epigrams is copied into one of Lamb's Commonplace Books with the title
"On the Prince breaking with his Party."
Page 116. _The Triumph of the Whale_.
_The Examiner_, March 15, 1812. Reprinted in _The Poetical Recreations
of "The Champion,"_ signed R. et R., with a note stating that it had not
appeared in _The Champion_, but was collected with the other pieces by
the author's request.
The subject of the verses was, of course, the first gentleman in Europe.
_The Examiner_ was never over-nice in its treatment of the prince, and
it was in the same year, 1812, that Leigh Hunt, the editor, and his
brother, the printer, of the paper were prosecuted for the article
styling him a "libertine" and the "companion of gamblers and demireps"
(which appeared the week following Lamb's poem), and were condemned to
imprisonment for it. Lamb's lines came very little short of expressing
equally objectionable criticisms; but verse is often privileged.
Thelwall--and Lamb--showed some courage in reprinting the lines in 1822,
when the prince had become king. Talfourd relates that Lamb was in the
habit of checking harsh comments on the prince by others with the
smiling remark, "_I_ love my Regent."
In Galignani's 1828 edition of Byron this piece was attributed to his
* * * * *
Page 118. _St. Crispin to Mr. Gifford._
_The Examiner_, October 3 and 4, 1819. Reprinted in _The Poetical
Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822.
William Gifford (1756-1826), editor of the _Quarterly Review_, had been
apprenticed to a cobbler. Lamb had an old score against him on account
of his editorial treatment of Lamb's review of Wordsworth's _Excursion_,
in 1814, and other matters (see note to "Letter to Southey," Vol. I.).
Writing to the Olliers, on the publication of his _Works_, June 18,
1818, Lamb says, in reference to this sonnet: "I meditate an attack upon
that Cobler Gifford, which shall appear immediately after any favourable
mention which S. [Southey] may make in the Quarterly. It can't in decent
_gratitude_ appear _before_." When the sonnet was printed in the
_Examiner_ it purported to have reference to the _Quarterly's_ treatment
of Shelley's _Revolt of Islam_, which treatment Leigh Hunt was then
exposing in a series of articles.
Page 118. _The Godlike._
_The Champion_, March 18 and 19, 1820. Reprinted in _The Poetical
Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822.
Another contribution to the character of George IV., who had just
succeeded to the throne, and was at that moment engaged upon the task of
divorcing his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. The eighth line must be read
probably with a medical eye. The concluding three lines refer to George
III.'s insanity. As a political satirist Lamb disdained half measures.
Page 119. _The Three Graves._
_The Champion_, May 13 and 14, 1820. Signed Dante. Reprinted in _The
Poetical Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822, signed Dante and R. et R.
Reprinted in the _London Magazine_, May, 1825, unsigned, with the names
in the last line printed only with initials and dashes, and the
sub-title, "Written during the time, now happily almost forgotten, of
the spy system."
Lamb probably found a certain mischievous pleasure in giving these lines
the title of one of Coleridge's early poems.
The spy system was a protective movement undertaken by Lord Sidmouth
(1757-1844) as Home Secretary in 1817--after the Luddite riots, the
general disaffection in the country, Thistlewood's Spa Fields uprising
and the break-down of the prosecution. Curious reading on the subject is
to be found in the memoirs of Richmond the Spy, and Peter Mackenzie's
remarks on that book and its author, in _Tait's Magazine_. The spy
system culminated with the failure of the Cato Street Conspiracy in
1820, which cost Thistlewood his life. That plot to murder ministers was
revealed by George Edwards, one of the spies named by Lamb in the last
line of this poem. Castles and Oliver were other government spies
mentioned by Richmond.
Line 2. _Bedloe, Oates_ ... William Bedloe (1650-1680) and Titus Oates
(1649-1705) were associated as lying informers of the proceedings of the
imaginary Popish Plot against Charles II.
Page 119. _Sonnet to Mathew Wood, Esq_.
_The Champion_, May 13 and 14, 1820. Reprinted in _The Poetical
Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822.
Matthew Wood, afterwards Sir Matthew (1768-1843), was twice Lord Mayor
of London, 1815-1817, and M.P. for the city. He was one of the principal
friends and advisers of Caroline of Brunswick, George IV.'s repudiated
wife. Hence his particular merit in Lamb's eyes. Later he administered
the affairs of the Duke of Kent, whose trustee he was, and his baronetcy
was the first bestowed by Queen Victoria. The sonnet contains another of
Lamb's attacks on Canning. This statesman's mother, after the death of
George Canning, her first husband, in 1771, took to the stage, where she
remained for thirty years. Canning was at school at Eton. The course on
which Wood was adjured to hold was the defence of Queen Caroline; but
Canning's opposition to her cause was not so absolute as Lamb seemed to
think. The ministry, of which Canning was a member, had prepared a bill
by which the queen was to receive L50,000 annually so long as she
remained abroad. The king insisted on divorce or nothing, and it was his
own repugnance to this measure that caused Canning to tender his
resignation. The king refused it, and Canning went abroad and did not
return until it was abandoned.
Line 11. _Pickpocket Peer_. This would be Henry Dundas, Viscount
Melville (1742-1811), Pitt's lieutenant, who was impeached for
embezzling money as First Lord of the Admiralty. He was acquitted, but
that was a circumstance that would hardly concern Lamb when in this
* * * * *
Page 120. _On a Projected Journey_.
_The Champion_, July 15 and 16, 1820. Reprinted in _The Poetical
Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822. George IV.'s visit to Hanover did
not, however, occur till October, 1821. This is entitled in Ayrton's MS.
book (see below) "Upon the King's embarcation at Ramsgate for Hanover,
Page 120. _Song for the C----n_.
_The Champion_, July 15 and 16, 1820. Reprinted in _The Poetical
Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822.
A song for the Coronation, which was fixed for 1821. Queen Caroline
returned to England in June, 1820, staying with Alderman Wood (see page
361) in order to be on the spot against that event. Meanwhile the
divorce proceedings began, but were eventually withdrawn. Caroline made
a forcible effort to be present at the Coronation, on July 29, 1821, but
was repulsed at the Abbey door. She was taken ill the next day and died
on August 7. "Roy's Wife of Aldivalloch" is the Scotch song by Anne
Page 120. _The Unbeloved_.
_The Champion_, September 23 and 24, 1820. Reprinted in _The Poetical
Recreations of "The Champion,"_ 1822. In _The Champion_ the last line
was preceded by
the reference to heiress-hunting touching upon Canning's marriage to
Miss Joan Scott, a sister of the Duchess of Portland, who brought him
Line 4. _C----gh_. Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and second
Marquis of Londonderry (1769-1822), Foreign Secretary from 1812 until
his death. He committed suicide in a state of unsound mind.
Line 6. _The Doctor_. This was the nickname commonly given to Henry
Addington, Viscount Sidmouth.
Line 8. _Their chatty, childish Chancellor_. John Scott, afterwards Earl
of Eldon (1751-1838), the Lord Chancellor.
Line 9. _In Liverpool some virtues strike_. Robert Banks Jenkinson, Earl
of Liverpool (1770-1828), Prime Minister at the time, and therefore
principal scapegoat for the Divorce Bill.
Line 10. _And little Van's beneath dislike_. Nicholas Vansittart,
afterwards Baron Bexley (1766-1851), Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Line 12. _H----t_. Thomas Taylour, first Marquis of Headfort
(1757-1829), the principal figure in a crim. con. case in 1804 when he
was sued by a clergyman named Massey and had to pay L10,000 damages.
* * * * *
Page 121. _On the Arrival in England of Lord Byron's Remains_.
From a MS. book of William Ayrton's. In _The New Times_, October 24,
1825, the verses followed the "Ode to the Treadmill." The epigram, which
was unsigned, then ran thus:--
THE POETICAL CASK
With change of climate manners alter not:
Transport a drunkard--he'll return a sot.
So lordly Juan, d----d to endless fame,
Went out a _pickle_--and comes back the same.
Lord Byron's body had been brought home from Greece, for burial at
Hucknall Torkard, in 1824, and the cause of the epigram was a paragraph
in _The New Times_ of October 19, 1825, stating that the tub in which
Byron's remains came home was exhibited by the captain of the _Rodney_
for 2s. 6d. a head; afterwards sold to a cooper in Whitechapel; resold
to a museum; and finally sold again to a cooper in Middle New Street,
who was at that time using it as an advertisement.
The third line recalls Pope's line--
See Cromwell damn'd to everlasting fame.
_Essay on Man_, IV., 284.
Page 121. _Lines Suggested by a Sight of Waltham Cross._
First printed in the _Englishman's Magazine_, September, 1831. Lamb sent
the epigram to Barton in a letter in November, 1827. The body of
Caroline of Brunswick, the rejected wife of George IV., was conveyed
through London only by force--involving a fatal affray between the
people and the Life Guards at Hyde Park corner--on its way to burial at
Page 122. _For the "Table Book."_
This epigram accompanies a note to William Hone. It was marked "For the
_Table Book_," but does not seem to have been printed there.
Page 122. _The Royal Wonders._
_The Times_, August 10, 1830. Signed Charles Lamb. The epigram refers to
the Paris insurrection of July 26, 1830, which cost Charles X. his
throne; and, at home, to William IV.'s extreme fraternal friendliness to
Page 122. _Brevis Esse Laboro._ "One Dip."
* * * * *
Page 123. _Suum Cuique._
These epigrams were written for the sons of James Augustus Hessey, the
publisher, two Merchant Taylor boys. In _The Taylorian_ for March, 1884,
the magazine of the Merchant Taylors' School, the late Archdeacon
Hessey, one of the boys in question, told the story of their authorship.
It was a custom many years ago for Election Day at Merchant Taylors'
School to be marked by the recitation of original epigrams in Greek,
Latin and English, which, although the boys themselves were usually the
authors, might also be the work of other hands. Archdeacon Hessey and
his brother, as the following passage explains, resorted to Charles Lamb
The subjects for 1830 were _Suum Cuique_ and _Brevis esse latoro_.
After some three or four exercise nights I confess that I was literally
"at my wits' end." But a brilliant idea struck me. I had frequently, boy
as I was, seen Charles Lamb (Elia) at my father's house, and once, in
1825 or 1826, I had been taken to have tea with him and his sister, Mary
Lamb, at their little house, Colebrook Cottage, a whitish-brown
tenement, standing by itself, close to the New River, at Islington. He
was very kind, as he always was to young people, and very quaint. I told
him that I had devoured his "Roast Pig;" he congratulated me on
possessing a thorough schoolboy's appetite. And he was pleased when I
mentioned my having seen the boys at Christ's Hospital at their public
suppers, which then took place on the Sunday evenings in Lent. "Could
this good-natured and humorous old gentleman be prevailed upon to give
me an Epigram?" "I don't know," said my father, to whom I put the
question, "but I will ask him at any rate, and send him the mottoes." In
a day or two there arrived from Enfield, to which Lamb had removed some
time in 1827, not one, but two epigrams, one on each subject. That on
_Suum Cuique_ was in Latin, and was suggested by the grim satisfaction
which had recently been expressed by the public at the capture and
execution of some notorious highwayman. That on _Brevis esse laboro_ was
in English, and might have represented an adventure which had befallen
Lamb himself, for he stammered frequently, though he was not so grievous
a _Balbulus_ as his friend George Darley, whom I had also often seen. I
need scarcely say that the two Epigrams were highly appreciated, and
that my brother and myself, for I gave my brother one of them, were
objects of envy to our schoolfellows.
The death of George IV., however, prevented their being recited on the
occasion for which they were written.
"_Suum Cuique_," which was signed F. Hessey, was thus translated by its
A thief, on dreary Bagshot's heath well known,
Was fond of making others' goods his own;
_Meum_ was never thought of, nor was _Tuum_,
But everything with him was counted _Suum_.
At length each gets his own, and no one grieves;
The rope his neck, Jack Ketch his clothes receives:
His body to dissecting knife has gone;
Himself to Orcus: well--each gets his own.
The English epigram, which was signed J.A. Hessey, was a rhyming version
of a story which Lamb was fond of telling. Three, at least, of his
friends relate the story in their recollections of him: Mrs. Mathews in
her life of her husband; Leigh Hunt in _The Companion_; and De Quincey
in _Fraser's Magazine_. The incident possibly occurred to Lamb when as a
boy--or little more--he stayed at Margate about 1790. Lamb must have
written Merchant Taylors' epigrams before, for in 1803, in a letter to
Godwin about writing to order, he speaks of having undertaken, three or
four times, a schoolboy copy of verses for Merchant Taylors' boys at a
guinea a copy, and refers to the trouble and vexation the work was to
Writing to Southey on May 10, 1830, Lamb said, at the end:--"Perhaps
an epigram (not a very happy-gram) I did for a school-boy yesterday may
amuse. I pray Jove he may not get a flogging for any false quantity; but
'tis, with one exception, the only Latin verses I have made for forty
years, and I did it 'to order.'
"Adsciscit sibi divitias et opes alienas
Fur, rapiens, spolians quod mihi, quod-que tibi,
Proprium erat, temnens haec verba, meum-que tuum-que
Omne suum est: tandem Cui-que Suum tribuit.
Dat resti collum; restes, vah! carnifici dat;
Sese Diabolo, sic bene; Cuique Suum."
Page 123. _On "The Literary Gazette"_.
_The Examiner_, August 22, 1830. This epigram, consisting only of the
first four lines, slightly altered, and headed "Rejected Epigrams,
6"-evidently torn from a paper containing a number of verses (the figure
7 is just visible underneath it)--is in the British Museum among the
letters left by Vincent Novello. It is inscribed, "In handwriting of Mr.
Charles Lamb." The same collection contains a copy, in Mrs. Cowden
Clarke's handwriting, of the sonnet to Mrs. Jane Towers (see page 50).
_The Literary Gazette_ was William Jerdan's paper, a poor thing, which
Lamb had reason to dislike for the attack it made upon him when _Album
Verses_ was published (see note on page 331).
_The Examiner_ began the attack on August 14, 1830. All the epigrams are
signed T.A. This means that if Lamb wrote the above, he wrote all; which
is not, I think, likely. I do not reproduce them, the humour of punning
upon the name of the editor of the _Literary Gazette_ being a little
T.A. may, of course, have been Lamb's pseudonymous signature. If so, he
may have chosen it as a joke upon his friend Thomas Allsop. But since
one of the epigrams is addressed to himself I doubt if Lamb was the
Page 123. _On the Fast-Day_.
John Payne Collier, in his privately printed reminiscences, _An Old
Man's Diary_, quotes this epigram as being by Charles Lamb. It may have
been written for the Fast-Day on October 19, 1803, for that on May 25,
1804, or for a later one. Lamb tells Hazlitt in February, 1806, that he
meditates a stroll on the Fast-Day.
Page 123. _Nonsense Verses_.
Mr. W. Carew Hazlitt, in _Mary and Charles Lamb_, 1874, says: "I found
these lines--a parody on the popular, or nursery, ditty, 'Lady-bird,
lady-bird, fly away home'--officiating as a wrapper to some of Mr.
Hazlitt's hair. There is no signature; but the handwriting is
unmistakably Lamb's; nor are the lines themselves the worst of his
playful effusions." The piece suggests that Lamb, in a wild mood, was
turning his own "Angel Help" (see page 51) into ridicule--possibly to
satisfy some one who dared him to do it, or vowed that such a feat could
not be accomplished.
* * * * *
Page 124. _On Wawd._
Wawd was a fellow-clerk. We have this _jeu d'esprit_ through Mr. Joseph
H. Twichell, an American who had it from a fellow-clerk of Lamb's named
Ogilvie. (See _Scribner's Magazine_, March, 1876.)
Page 124. _Six Epitaphs._
Writing to Southey on March 20, 1799, Lamb says:--"I the other day
threw off an extempore epitaph on Ensign Peacock of the 3rd Regt. of the
Royal East India Volunteers, who like other boys in this scarlet tainted
age was ambitious of playing at soldiers, but dying in the first flash
of his valour was at the particular instance of his relations buried
with military honours! like any veteran scarr'd or chopt from Blenheim
or Ramilies. (He was buried in sash and gorget.) Sed hae sunt
lamentabilis nugae--But'tis as good as some epitaphs you and I have read
together in Christ-Church-yard."
The last five Epigrams were sent to the _New York Tribune_, Feb. 22,
1879, by the late J.H. Siddons. They were found on scraps of paper in
Lamb's desk in the India House. Wagstaff and Sturms were fellow-clerks.
Dr. Drake was the medical officer of the establishment. Captain Dey was
a putative son of George IV. The lines upon him were given to Siddons by
Page 126. _Time and Eternity_ and _From the Latin_.
In _The Mirror_ for June 1, 1833, are the two poems, collected under the
general heading "The Gatherer," indexed "Lamb, C., lines by." Mr. Thomas
Hutchinson first printed the second poem; but I do not feel too happy
* * * * *
Page 127. SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE, 1831.
This ballad was published by Moxon, anonymously, in 1831, although the
authorship was no secret In its volume form it was illustrated by George
Cruikshank. Lamb probably did not value his ballad very highly. Writing
to Moxon in 1833 he says, "I wish you would omit 'by the Author of Elia'
now, in advertising that damn'd 'Devil's Wedding.'"
There is a reference to the poem, in Lamb's letter to Moxon of
October 24, 1831, which needs explanation. Moxon's _Englishman's
Magazine_, after running under his control for three months,
was suddenly abandoned. Lamb, who seems to have been paid in
advance for his work, wrote to Moxon on the subject, approving him
for getting the weight off his mind and adding:--"I have one on
mine. The cash in hand which as ***** less truly says,
burns in my pocket. I feel queer at returning it (who does not?).
You feel awkward at re-taking it (who ought not?) is there no
middle way of adjusting this fine embarrassment. I think I
have hit upon a medium to skin the sore place over, if not quite
to heal it. You hinted that there might be something under L10
by and by accruing to me _Devil's Money_. You are sanguine--say
L7 10s.--that I entirely renounce and abjure all future interest
in, I insist upon it, and 'by Him I will not name' I won't touch a
penny of it. That will split your loss one half--and leave me
conscientious possessor of what I hold. Less than your assent to
this, no proposal will I accept of."
A few months later, writing again to Moxon, he says:--"I am heartily
sorry my Devil does not answer. We must try it a little longer; and,
after all, I think I must insist on taking a portion of its loss upon
myself. It is too much that you should lose by two adventures."
According to some reminiscences of Lamb by Mr. J. Fuller Russell,
printed in _Notes and Queries_, April 1, 1882, Lamb suppressed "Satan in
Search of a Wife," for the reason that the Vicar of Enfield, Dr.
Cresswell, also had married a tailor's daughter, and might be hurt by
the ballad. The correspondence quoted above does not, I think, bear out
Mr. Russell's statement. If the book were still being advertised in
1833, we can hardly believe that any consideration for the Vicar of
Enfield would cause its suppression. This gentleman had been at Enfield
for several years, and Lamb would have either suppressed the book
immediately or not at all; but possibly his wish to disassociate the
name of Elia from the work was inspired by the coincidence.
The ballad does not call for much annotation. The legend
mentioned in the dedication tells how Cecilia, by her music, drew
an angel from heaven, who brought her roses of Paradise. The
ballad of King Cophetua and the beggar maid may be read in the
_Percy Reliques_. Hecate is a triple deity, known as Luna in heaven,
Diana on earth, and Proserpine in hell. In the reference to Milton
I think Lamb must have been thinking of the lines, _Paradise Lost_,
Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view,
Nor the deep tract of Hell....
or, _Paradise Lost_, V., 542:--
And so from Heav'n to deepest Hell.
Alecto (Part I., Stanza II.) was one of the Furies.--Old Parr (Stanza
IV.) lived to be 152; he died in 1635.--Semiramis (Stanza XVII.) was
Queen of Assyria, under whom Babylon became the most wonderful city in
the world; Helen was Helen of Troy, the cause of the war between the
Greeks and Trojans; Medea was the cruel lover of Jason, who recovered
the Golden Fleece.--Clytemnestra (Stanza XVIII.) was the wife and
murderer of Agamemnon; Joan of Naples was Giovanna, the wife of Andrea
of Hungary, who was accused of assassinating him. Landor wrote a play,
"Giovanna of Naples," to "restore her fame" and "requite her wrongs;"
Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt, and lover of Mark Antony; Jocasta
married her son Oedipus unknowing who he was.--A tailor's "goose"
(Stanza XXII.) is his smoothing-iron, and his "hell" (Stanza XXIII.) the
place where he throws his shreds and debris.--Lamb's own "Vision of
Horns" (see Vol. I.) serves as a commentary on Stanza XXVII.; and in his
essay "On the Melancholy of Tailors" (Vol. I.) are further remarks on
the connection between tailors and cabbage in Stanza I. of Part II.--The