Part 11 out of 14
So far Martin has written, and further than that I can give you no
intelligence, for I do not yet know Phillips's intentions; nor can I
tell you the exact time when we can come; nor can I positively say we
shall come at all; for we have scruples of conscience about there being
so many of us. Martin says, if you can borrow a blanket or two, he can
sleep on the floor, without either bed or mattress, which would save his
expences at the Hut; for, if Phillips breakfasts there, he must do so
too, which would swallow up all his money. And he and I have calculated
that, if he has no Inn expences, he may as well spare that money to give
you for a part of his roast beef.
We can spare you also just five pounds. You are not to say this to
Hazlitt, lest his delicacy should be alarmed; but I tell you what Martin
and I have planned, that, if you happen to be empty pursed at this time,
you may think it as well to make him up a bed in the best kitchen.
I think it very probable that Phillips will come; and, if you do not
like such a croud of us, for they both talk of staying a whole month,
tell me so, and we will put off our visit till next summer.
The 14th July is the day Martin has fixed for _coming_. I should have
written before, if I could have got a positive answer from them.
Thank you very much for the good work you have done for me. Mrs.
Stoddart also thanks you for the gloves. How often must I tell you never
to do any needle work for any body but me?
Martin Burney has been very ill, and still is very weak and pale. Mrs.
Holcroft and all her children, and all her scholars, have had the
measles. Your old friend, Mrs. Fenwick, is in town.
We are going to see Mrs. Martin and her daughter, Mrs. Fulton (Sarah
Martin), and I expect to see there the future husband of Louisa. It will
be a charming evening, doubtless.
I cannot write any more, for we have got a noble Life of Lord Nelson
lent us for a short time by my poor relation the book binder, and I want
to read as much of it as I can.
On reading Martin's note over again, we guess the Captain means him to
stay only a fortnight. It is most likely we shall come the beginning of
July. Saturday [?June 3].
[The Lambs were proposing to spend their holidays with the Hazlitts, in
July, and to take Colonel Phillips and his nephew Martin Burney with
them. (Or possibly it was the other Phillips.) As it happened, however,
Mary Lamb was taken ill almost immediately after writing this letter,
and the visit had to be postponed until September and October.
The Hut was the Winterslow inn.
"My poor relation the book binder." See the letter to Barron Field, Oct.
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
June 7th, 1809.
Dear Coleridge,--I congratulate you on the appearance of "The Friend."
Your first number promises well, and I have no doubt the succeeding
numbers will fulfil the promise. I had a kind letter from you some time
since, which I have left unanswered. I am also obliged to you, I
believe, for a review in the "Annual," am I not? The "Monthly Review"
sneers at me, and asks "if 'Comus' is not _good enough_ for Mr. Lamb?"
because I have said no good serious dramas have been written since the
death of Charles the First, except "Samson Agonistes"; so because they
do not know, or won't remember, that "Comus" was written long before, I
am to be set down as an undervaluer of Milton! O Coleridge, do kill
those reviews, or they will kill us--kill all we like! Be a friend to
all else, but their foe. I have been turned out of my chambers in the
Temple by a landlord who wanted them for himself; but I have got other
at No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, far more commodious and roomy. I have two
rooms on third floor and five rooms above, with an inner staircase to
myself, and all new painted, &c., and all for L30 a year! I came into
them on Saturday week; and on Monday following, Mary was taken ill with
fatigue of moving, and affected, I believe, by the novelty of the home;
she could not sleep, and I am left alone with a maid quite a stranger to
me, and she has a month or two's sad distraction to go through. What sad
large pieces it cuts out of life--out of _her_ life, who is getting
rather old; and we may not have many years to live together! I am
weaker, and bear it worse than I ever did. But I hope we shall be
comfortable by and bye. The rooms are delicious, and the best look
backwards into Hare Court, where there is a pump always going. Just now
it is dry. Hare Court trees come in at the window, so that it's like
living in a garden. I try to persuade myself it is much pleasanter than
Mitre Court; but, alas! the household gods are slow to come in a new
mansion. They are in their infancy to me; I do not feel them yet; no
hearth has blazed to them yet. How I hate and dread new places!
I was very glad to see Wordsworth's book advertised; I am to have it
to-morrow lent me, and if Wordsworth don't send me an order for one upon
Longman, I will buy it. It is greatly extolled and liked by all who have
seen it. Let me hear from some of you, for I am desolate. I shall have
to send you, in a week or two, two volumes of Juvenile Poetry, done by
Mary and me within the last six months, and that tale in prose which
Wordsworth so much liked, which was published at Christmas, with nine
others, by us, and has reached a second edition. There's for you! We
have almost worked ourselves out of child's work, and I don't know what
to do. Sometimes I think of a drama, but I have no head for play-making;
I can do the dialogue, and that's all. I am quite aground for a plan,
and I must do something for money. Not that I have immediate wants, but
I have prospective ones. O money, money, how blindly thou hast been
worshipped, and how stupidly abused! Thou art health, and liberty, and
strength; and he that has thee may rattle his pockets at the foul fiend!
Nevertheless, do not understand by this that I have not quite enough for
my occasions for a year or two to come. While I think on it, Coleridge,
I fetch'd away my books which you had at the "Courier" Office, and found
all but a third volume of the old plays, containing "The White Devil,"
"Green's Tu Quoque," and the "Honest Whore,"--perhaps the most valuable
volume of them all--_that_ I could not find. Pray, if you can, remember
what you did with it, or where you took it out with you a walking
perhaps; send me word; for, to use the old plea, it spoils a set. I
found two other volumes (you had three), the "Arcadia," and "Daniel,"
enriched with manuscript notes. I wish every book I have were so noted.
They have thoroughly converted me to relish Daniel, or to say I relish
him, for, after all, I believe I did relish him. You well call him
sober-minded. Your notes are excellent. Perhaps you've forgot them. I
have read a review in the "Quarterly," by Southey, on the Missionaries,
which is most masterly. I only grudge it being there. It is quite
beautiful. Do remember my Dodsley; and pray do write; or let some of you
write. Clarkson tells me you are in a smoky house. Have you cured it? It
is hard to cure anything of smoking. Our little poems are but humble,
but they have no name. You must read them, remembering they were
task-work; and perhaps you will admire the number of subjects, all of
children, picked out by an old Bachelor and an old Maid. Many parents
would not have found so many. Have you read "Coelebs?" It has reached
eight editions in so many weeks; yet literally it is one of the very
poorest sort of common novels, with the draw-back of dull religion in
it. Had the religion been high and flavoured, it would have been
something. I borrowed this "Coelebs in Search of a Wife" of a very
careful, neat lady, and returned it with this stuff written in the
"If ever I marry a wife
I'd marry a landlord's daughter,
For then I may sit in the bar,
And drink cold brandy-and-water."
I don't expect you can find time from your "Friend" to write to me much,
but write something, for there has been a long silence. You know
Holcroft is dead. Godwin is well. He has written a very pretty, absurd
book about sepulchres. He was affronted because I told him it was better
than Hervey, but not so good as Sir T. Browne. This letter is all about
books; but my head aches, and I hardly know what I write; but I could
not let "The Friend" pass without a congratulatory epistle. I won't
criticise till it comes to a volume. Tell me how I shall send my packet
to you?--by what conveyance?--by Longman, Short-man, or how? Give my
kindest remembrances to Wordsworth. Tell him he must give me a book. My
kind love to Mrs. W. and to Dorothy separately and conjointly. I wish
you could all come and see me in my new rooms. God bless you all.
[The first number of _The Friend_ was dated June 1, 1809.
Lamb's _Dramatic Specimens_ had been reviewed in the _Annual Review_ for
1808, with discrimination and approval (see Vol. IV. of my large
edition), but whether or not by Coleridge I do not know.
Wordsworth's book was his pamphlet on the "Convention of Cintra."
The Juvenile Poetry was _Poetry for Children. Entirely Original_. By the
author of _Mrs. Leicester's School_. In two volumes, 1809. _Mrs.
Leicester's School_, 1809, had been published a little before.
Wordsworth's favourite tale was Arabella Hardy's "The Sea Voyage."
I know nothing of the annotated copy of Sidney's _Arcadia_. Daniel's
_Poetical Works_, 12mo, 1718, two volumes, with marginalia by Lamb and
Coleridge, is still preserved. The copy of Hannah More's _Coelebs in
Search of a Wife_, 1809, with Lamb's verses, is not, I think, now known.
Southey's missionary article was in the first number of the _Quarterly_,
Hervey wrote _Meditations among the Tombs_; Sir Thomas Browne, _Urn
Here should come four letters from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Senior. They
are all printed in _Charles Lamb and the Lloyds_. The first, dated June
13, 1809, contains an interesting criticism of a translation of the
twenty-fourth book of the _Iliad_, which Charles Lloyd, the father of
Robert Lloyd, had made. Lamb says that what he misses, and misses also
in Pope, is a savage-like plainness of speaking.
"The heroes in Homer are not half civilized--they utter all the cruel,
all the selfish, all the _mean thoughts_ even of their nature, which it
is the fashion of our great men to keep in."
Mr. Lloyd had translated [Greek: aoidous] (line 720) "minstrels." Lamb
says "minstrels I suspect to be a word bringing merely English or
English ballad feelings to the Mind. It expresses the thing and
something more, as to say Sarpedon was a Gentleman, or as somebody
translated Paul's address, 'Ye men of Athens,' 'Gentlemen of Athens.'"
The second letter, dated June 19, 1809, continues the subject. Lamb
writes: "I am glad to see you venture _made_ and _maid_ for rhymes. 'Tis
true their sound is the same. But the mind occupied in revolving the
different meaning of two words so literally the same, is diverted from
the objection which the mere Ear would make, and to the mind it is rhyme
In the third letter, dated July 31, 1809, Lamb remarks of translators of
Homer, that Cowper delays one as much, walking over a Bowling Green, as
Milton does, travelling over steep Alpine heights.
The fourth letter, undated, accompanies criticisms of Mr. Lloyd's
translation of the _Odyssey_, Books 1 and 2, Mr. Lloyd had translated
[Greek: Bous Helioio] (Book I, line 8) "Bullocks of the Sun." Lamb
wrote: "OXEN of the Sun, I conjure. Bullocks is too Smithfield and
sublunary a Word. Oxen of the Sun, or of Apollo, but in any case not
With a letter to Robert Lloyd, belonging to this year, Lamb sends
_Poetry for Children_, and states that the poem "The Beggar Man" is by
his brother, John Lamb.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
Monday, Oct. 30th, 1809.
Dear Coleridge,--I have but this moment received your letter, dated the
9th instant, having just come off a journey from Wiltshire, where I have
been with Mary on a visit to Hazlitt. The journey has been of infinite
service to her. We have had nothing but sunshiny days and daily walks
from eight to twenty miles a-day; have seen Wilton, Salisbury,
Stonehenge, &c. Her illness lasted but six weeks; it left her weak, but
the country has made us whole. We came back to our Hogarth Room--I have
made several acquisitions since you saw them,--and found Nos. 8, 9, 10
of "The Friend." The account of Luther in the Warteburg is as fine as
anything I ever read. God forbid that a man who has such things to say
should be silenced for want of L100. This Custom-and-Duty Age would have
made the Preacher on the Mount take out a licence, and St. Paul's
Epistles would not have been missible without a stamp. Oh, that you may
find means to go on! But alas! where is Sir G. Beaumont?--Sotheby? What
is become of the rich Auditors in Albemarle Street? Your letter has
I am so tired with my journey, being up all night, I have neither things
nor words in my power. I believe I expressed my admiration of the
pamphlet. Its power over me was like that which Milton's pamphlets must
have had on his contemporaries, who were tuned to them. What a piece of
prose! Do you hear if it is read at all? I am out of the world of
readers. I hate all that do read, for they read nothing but reviews and
new books. I gather myself up unto the old things.
I have put up shelves. You never saw a book-case in more true harmony
with the contents, than what I've nailed up in a room, which, though
new, has more aptitudes for growing old than you shall often see--as one
sometimes gets a friend in the middle of life, who becomes an old friend
in a short time. My rooms are luxurious; one is for prints and one for
books; a Summer and a Winter parlour. When shall I ever see you in them?
[Hazlitt has given some account of the Lambs' visit to Winterslow, but
the passage belongs probably to the year following. In his essay "On the
Conversation of Authors" he likens Lamb in the country to "the most
capricious poet Ovid among the Goths." "The country people thought him
an oddity, and did not understand his jokes. It would be strange if they
had, for he did not make any, while he stayed. But when he crossed the
country to Oxford, then he spoke a little. He and the old colleges were
hail-fellow well met; and in the quadrangles he 'walked gowned.'" Again,
in "A Farewell to Essay-writing," Hazlitt says: "I used to walk out at
this time with Mr. and Miss Lamb of an evening, to look at the Claude
Lorraine skies over our heads melting from azure into purple and gold,
and to gather mushrooms, that sprang up at our feet, to throw into our
Lamb's Hogarths were framed in black. It must have been about this time
that he began his essay "On the Genius of Hogarth," which was printed in
_The Reflector_ in 1811 (see Vol. I.).
_The Friend_ lasted until No. XXVII., March 15, 1810. The account of
Luther was in No. VIII., October 5, 1809. Coleridge had not been
supported financially as he had hoped, and had already begun to think of
stopping the paper.
Sir George Howland Beaumont (1753-1827), of Coleorton, the friend and
patron of men of genius, had helped, with Sotheby, in the establishment
of _The Friend_, and was instrumental subsequently in procuring a
pension for Coleridge. William Sotheby (1757-1833), the translator and
author, had received subscriptions for Coleridge's lectures.
"The rich Auditors in Albemarle Street"--those who had listened to
Coleridge's lectures at the Royal Institution.
"The pamphlet." Presumably Wordsworth's "Convention of Cintra."
"You never saw a book-case." Leigh Hunt wrote of Lamb's books in the
essay "My Books," in _The Literary Examiner_:--
"It looks like what it is, a selection made at precious intervals from
the book-stalls;--now a Chaucer at nine and two-pence; now a Montaigne
or a Sir Thomas Browne at two shillings; now a Jeremy Taylor, a Spinoza;
an old English Dramatist, Prior, and Sir Philip Sidney; and the books
are 'neat as imported.' The very perusal of the backs is a 'discipline
of humanity.' There Mr. Southey takes his place again with an old
Radical friend: there Jeremy Collier is at peace with Dryden: there the
lion, Martin Luther, lies down with the Quaker lamb, Sewel: there Guzman
d'Alfarache thinks himself fit company for Sir Charles Grandison, and
has his claims admitted. Even the 'high fantastical' Duchess of
Newcastle, with her laurel on her head, is received with grave honours,
and not the less for declining to trouble herself with the constitutions
of her maids."]
MARY LAMB TO SARAH HAZLITT
November 7th, 1809.
My dear Sarah--The dear, quiet, lazy, delicious month we spent with you
is remembered by me with such regret, that I feel quite discontent &
Winterslow-sick. I assure you, I never passed such a pleasant time in
the country in my life, both in the house & out of it, the card playing
quarrels, and a few gaspings for breath after your swift footsteps up
the high hills excepted, and those drawbacks are not unpleasant in the
recollection. We have got some salt butter to make our toast seem like
yours, and we have tried to eat meat suppers, but that would not do, for
we left our appetites behind us; and the dry loaf, which offended you,
now comes in at night unaccompanied; but, sorry am I to add, it is soon
followed by the pipe and the gin bottle. We smoked the very first night
of our arrival.
Great news! I have just been interrupted by Mr. Daw, who comes to tell
me he was yesterday elected a Royal Academician. He said none of his own
friends voted for him; he got it by strangers, who were pleased with his
picture of Mrs. White. Charles says he does not believe Northcote ever
voted for the admission of any one. Though a very cold day, Daw was in a
prodigious sweat, for joy at his good fortune.
More great news! my beautiful green curtains were put up yesterday, and
all the doors listed with green baize, and four new boards put to the
coal-hole, and fastening hasps put to the window, and my died Manning
silk cut out.
Yesterday was an eventful day: for yesterday too Martin Burney was to be
examined by Lord Eldon, previous to his being admitted as an Attorney;
but he has not yet been here to announce his success.
I carried the baby-caps to Mrs. [John] Hazlitt; she was much pleased,
and vastly thankful. Mr. [John] H. got fifty-four guineas at Rochester,
and has now several pictures in hand.
I am going to tell you a secret, for ---- says she would be sorry to
have it talked of. One night ---- came home from the ale-house, bringing
with him a great, rough, ill-looking fellow, whom he introduced to ----
as Mr. Brown, a gentleman he had hired as a mad keeper, to take care of
him, at forty pounds a year, being ten pounds under the usual price for
keepers, which sum Mr. Brown had agreed to remit out of pure friendship.
It was with great difficulty, and by threatening to call in the aid of
watchmen and constables, that ---- could prevail on Mr. Brown to leave
We had a good chearful meeting on Wednesday: much talk of Winterslow,
its woods & its nice sun flowers. I did not so much like Phillips at
Winterslow, as I now like him for having been with us at Winterslow. We
roasted the last of his 'beach, of oily nut prolific,' on Friday, at the
Captain's. Nurse is now established in Paradise, _alias_ the Incurable
Ward [of Westminster Hospital]. I have seen her sitting in most superb
state, surrounded by her seven incurable companions. They call each
other ladies. Nurse looks as if she would be considered as the first
lady in the ward: only one seemed at [all] like to rival her in dignity.
A man in the India House has resigned, by which Charles will get twenty
pounds a year; and White has prevailed on him to write some more
lottery-puffs. If that ends in smoke, the twenty pounds is a sure card,
and has made us very joyful.
I continue very well, & return you very sincere thanks for my good
health and improved looks, which have almost made Mrs. Godwin die with
envy; she longs to come to Winterslow as much as the spiteful elder
sister did to go to the well for a gift to spit diamonds--
Jane and I have agreed to boil a round of beef for your suppers, when
you come to town again. She, Jane, broke two of the Hogarth glasses
while we were away--whereat I made a great noise.
Farewel. Love to William, and Charles's love and good wishes for the
speedy arrival of the Life of Holcroft, & the bearer thereof.
Yours most affectionately,
Charles told Mrs. Godwin, Hazlitt had found a well in his garden, which,
water being scarce in your country, would bring him in two hundred a
year; and she came in great haste the next morning to ask me if it were
true. Your brother and his &c. are quite well.
[George Dawe had just been elected not Royal Academician but Associate.
He became full R.A. in 1814.
Mrs. White was the wife of Anthony White, the surgeon, who had been
apprenticed to Sir Anthony Carlisle.
Northcote was James Northcote, R.A., whose _Conversations_ Hazlitt
recorded some years later.
Martin Burney never made a successful lawyer. His life was destined to
be unhappy and unprofitable, as we shall see later.
"I am going to tell you a secret." In the absence of the original these
blanks cannot be filled in, nor are they important.
"Lottery puffs." See note on page 340.
"The spiteful elder sister." This story is in Grimm, I think.
"The _Life of Holcroft_." The _Memoirs of Thomas Holcroft_, begun by
Holcroft and finished by Hazlitt, although completed in 1810, was not
published until 1816.
Here should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, dated January 1,
1810, thanking him for a turkey. Lamb mentions that his 1809 holiday had
been spent in Wiltshire, where he saw Salisbury Cathedral and
Stonehenge. He adds that Coleridge's _Friend_ is occasionally sublime.
This was the last letter of the correspondence. Robert Lloyd died on
October 26, 1811. Lamb wrote in the _Gentleman's Magazine_ a memoir of
him, which will be found in Vol. I. of this edition.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
Jan. 2nd, 1810.
Mary sends her love.
Dear Manning,--When I last wrote to you, I was in lodgings. I am now in
chambers, No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, where I should be happy to see you
any evening. Bring any of your friends, the Mandarins, with you. I have
two sitting-rooms: I call them so _par excellence_, for you may stand,
or loll, or lean, or try any posture in them; but they are best for
sitting; not squatting down Japanese fashion, but the more decorous use
of the post----s which European usage has consecrated. I have two of
these rooms on the third floor, and five sleeping, cooking, &c., rooms,
on the fourth floor. In my best room is a choice collection of the works
of Hogarth, an English painter of some humour. In my next best are
shelves containing a small but well-chosen library. My best room
commands a court, in which there are trees and a pump, the water of
which is excellent--cold with brandy, and not very insipid without. Here
I hope to set up my rest, and not quit till Mr. Powell, the undertaker,
gives me notice that I may have possession of my last lodging. He lets
lodgings for single gentlemen. I sent you a parcel of books by my last,
to give you some idea of the state of European literature. There comes
with this two volumes, done up as letters, of minor poetry, a sequel to
"Mrs. Leicester;" the best you may suppose mine; the next best are my
coadjutor's; you may amuse yourself in guessing them out; but I must
tell you mine are but one-third in quantity of the whole. So much for a
very delicate subject. It is hard to speak of one's self, &c. Holcroft
had finished his life when I wrote to you, and Hazlitt has since
finished his life--I do not mean his own life, but he has finished a
life of Holcroft, which is going to press. Tuthill is Dr. Tuthill. I
continue Mr. Lamb. I have published a little book for children on titles
of honour: and to give them some idea of the difference of rank and
gradual rising, I have made a little scale, supposing myself to receive
the following various accessions of dignity from the king, who is the
fountain of honour--As at first, 1, Mr. C. Lamb; 2, C. Lamb, Esq.; 3,
Sir C. Lamb, Bart.; 4, Baron Lamb of Stamford; 5, Viscount Lamb; 6,
Earl Lamb; 7, Marquis Lamb; 8, Duke Lamb. It would look like quibbling
to carry it on further, and especially as it is not necessary for
children to go beyond the ordinary titles of sub-regal dignity in our
own country, otherwise I have sometimes in my dreams imagined myself
still advancing, as 9th, King Lamb; 10th, Emperor Lamb; 11th, Pope
Innocent, higher than which is nothing but the Lamb of God. Puns I have
not made many (nor punch much), since the date of my last; one I cannot
help relating. A constable in Salisbury Cathedral was telling me that
eight people dined at the top of the spire of the cathedral; upon which
I remarked, that they must be very sharp-set. But in general I cultivate
the reasoning part of my mind more than the imaginative. Do you know
Kate *********. I am stuffed out so with eating turkey for dinner, and
another turkey for supper yesterday (turkey in Europe and turkey in
Asia), that I can't jog on. It is New-Year here. That is, it was
New-Year half a-year back, when I was writing this. Nothing puzzles me
more than time and space, and yet nothing puzzles me less, for I never
think about them. Miss Knap is turned midwife. Never having had a child
herself, she can't draw any wrong analogies from her own case. Dr.
Stoddart has had Twins. There was five shillings to pay the Nurse. Mrs.
Godwin was impannelled on a jury of Matrons last Sessions. She saved a
criminal's life by giving it as her opinion that ----. The Judge
listened to her with the greatest deference. The Persian ambassador is
the principal thing talked of now. I sent some people to see him worship
the sun on Primrose Hill at half past six in the morning, 28th November;
but he did not come, which makes me think the old fire-worshippers are a
sect almost extinct in Persia. Have you trampled on the Cross yet? The
Persian ambassador's name is Shaw Ali Mirza. The common people call him
Shaw Nonsense. While I think of it, I have put three letters besides my
own three into the India post for you, from your brother, sister, and
some gentleman whose name I forget. Will they, have they, did they, come
safe? The distance you are at, cuts up tenses by the root. I think you
said you did not know Kate *********, I express her by nine stars,
though she is but one, but if ever one star differed from another in
glory--. You must have seen her at her father's. Try and remember her.
Coleridge is bringing out a paper in weekly numbers, called the
"Friend," which I would send, if I could; but the difficulty I had in
getting the packets of books out to you before deters me; and you'll
want something new to read when you come home. It is chiefly intended to
puff off Wordsworth's poetry; but there are some noble things in it by
the by. Except Kate, I have had no vision of excellence this year, and
she passed by like the queen on her coronation day; you don't know
whether you saw her or not. Kate is fifteen: I go about moping, and sing
the old pathetic ballad I used to like in my youth--
"She's sweet Fifteen,
I'm _one year more_."
Mrs. Bland sung it in boy's clothes the first time I heard it. I
sometimes think the lower notes in my voice are like Mrs. Eland's. That
glorious singer Braham, one of my lights, is fled. He was for a season.
He was a rare composition of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel, yet
all these elements mixed up so kindly in him, that you could not tell
which predominated; but he is gone, and one Phillips is engaged instead.
Kate is vanished, but Miss B ****** is always to be met with!
"Queens drop away, while blue-legg'd Maukin thrives;
And courtly Mildred dies while country Madge survives."
That is not my poetry, but Quarles's; but haven't you observed that the
rarest things are the least obvious? Don't show anybody the names in
this letter. I write confidentially, and wish this letter to be
considered as _private_. Hazlitt has written a _grammar_ for Godwin;
Godwin sells it bound up with a treatise of his own on language, but the
_grey mare is the better horse_. I don't allude to Mrs. Godwin, but to
the word _grammar_, which comes near to _grey mare_, if you observe, in
sound. That figure is called paranomasia in Greek. I am sometimes happy
in it. An old woman begged of me for charity. "Ah! sir," said she, "I
have seen better days;" "So have I, good woman," I replied; but I meant
literally, days not so rainy and overcast as that on which she begged:
she meant more prosperous days. Mr. Dawe is made associate of the Royal
Academy. By what law of association I can't guess. Mrs. Holcroft, Miss
Holcroft, Mr. and Mrs. Godwin, Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt, Mrs. Martin and
Louisa, Mrs. Lum, Capt. Burney, Mrs. Burney, Martin Burney, Mr. Rickman,
Mrs. Rickman, Dr. Stoddart, William Dollin, Mr. Thompson, Mr. and Mrs.
Norris, Mr. Fenwick, Mrs. Fenwick, Miss Fenwick, a man that saw you at
our house one day, and a lady that heard me speak of you; Mrs. Buffam
that heard Hazlitt mention you, Dr. Tuthill, Mrs. Tuthill, Colonel
Harwood, Mrs. Harwood, Mr. Collier, Mrs. Collier, Mr. Sutton, Nurse, Mr.
Fell, Mrs. Fell, Mr. Marshall, are very well, and occasionally inquire
after you. [_Rest cut away_.]
[Footnote 1: Where my family come from. I have chosen that if ever I
should have my choice.]
["I have published a little book." This was, of course, an invention. In
the _Elia_ essay on "Poor Relations" Lamb says that his father's boyhood
was spent at Lincoln, and in Susan Yates' story in _Mrs. Leicester's
School_ we see the Lincolnshire fens, but of the history of the family
we know nothing, I fancy Stamford is a true touch.
"The Persian ambassador." A portrait of this splendid person is
preserved at the India Office. Leigh Hunt says that Dyer was among the
pilgrims to Primrose Hill.
"Kate *********." I have not identified this young lady.
"The old pathetic ballad." I have not found this.
"Mrs. Bland." Maria Theresa Bland (1769-1838), a Jewess, and a
mezzo-soprano famous in simple ballads, who was connected with Drury
Lane for many years.
"Braham is fled." Braham did not sing in London in 1810, but joined Mrs.
Billington in a long provincial tour. Phillips was Thomas Philipps
(1774-1841), singer and composer.
"Miss B ******." Miss Burrell. See note to letter of Feb. 18, 1818.
"Not my poetry, but Quarles's." In "An Elegie," Stanza 16. Lamb does not
quote quite correctly.
"Hazlitt's grammar." _A New and Improved Grammar of the English Tongue
... By William Hazlitt, to which is added A New Guide to the English
Tongue by E[dward] Baldwin_ (William Godwin). Published by M. J. Godwin.
"A woman begged of me." Lamb told this story at the end of his _Elia_
essay "A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars," in the _London Magazine_,
June, 1822, but the passage was not reprinted in book form. See Vol. II.
of this edition.
George Dawe was made A.R.A. in 1809, not R.A. until 1814.
Of the friends on Lamb's list we have already met several. Mr. and Mrs.
Norris were the Randal Norrises. Dr. Stoddart having left Malta was now
practising in Doctors Commons. Mr. and Mrs. Collier were the John Dyer
Colliers, the parents of John Payne Collier, who introduced Lamb to
Henry Crabb Robinson. Both Colliers were journalists. Thompson may be
Marmaduke Thompson of Christ's Hospital. We meet some Buffams later, in
the Moxon correspondence. Mr. Marshall was Godwin's friend. Of Mrs. Lum,
Mr. Dollin, Colonel and Mrs. Harwood, and Mr. Sutton, I know nothing.]
CHARLES LAMB TO HENRY CRABB ROBINSON
[Dated by H. C. R. Feb. 7, 1810.]
Dr R.--My Brother whom you have met at my rooms (a plump good looking
man of seven and forty!) has written a book about humanity, which I
transmit to you herewith. Wilson the Publisher has put it in his head
that you can get it Reviewed for him. I dare say it is not in the scope
of your Review--but if you could put it in any likely train, he would
rejoyce. For alas! our boasted Humanity partakes of Vanity. As it is, he
teazes me to death with chusing to suppose that I could get it into all
the Reviews at a moment's notice--I!! who have been set up as a mark for
them to throw at, and would willingly consign them all to Hell flames
and Megaera's snaky locks.
But here's the Book--and don't shew it Mrs. Collier, for I remember she
makes excellent Eel soup, and the leading points of the Book are
directed against that very process.
Yours truly C. LAMB.
At Home to-night--Wednesday [February 7].
[Addressed to "Henry Robinson, Esq., 56 Hatton Garden, 'with a Treatise
on Cruelty to Animals.'"
Lamb's brother, John Lamb, who was born in 1763, was now Accountant of
the South-Sea House. His character is described by Lamb in the _Elia_
essay "My Relations," where he figures as James Elia. Robinson's _Diary_
later frequently expresses Robinson's dislike of his dogmatic ways.
The pamphlet has been identified by Mr. L.S. Livingston as _A Letter to
the Right Hon. William Windham, on his opposition to Lord Erskine's Bill
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals_. It was published by Maxwell &
Wilson at 17 Skinner Street in 1810. No author's name is given. One copy
only is known, and that is in America, and the owner declines to permit
it to be reprinted. The particular passage referring to eel pie runs
"If an eel had the wisdom of Solomon, he could not help himself in the
ill-usage that befalls him; but if he had, and were told, that it was
necessary for our subsistence that he should be eaten, that he must be
skinned first, and then broiled; if ignorant of man's usual practice, he
would conclude that the cook would so far use her reason as to cut off
his head first, which is not fit for food, as then he might be skinned
and broiled without harm; for however the other parts of his body might
be convulsed during the culinary operations, there could be no feeling
of consciousness therein, the communication with the brain being cut
off; but if the woman were immediately to stick a fork into his eye,
skin him alive, coil him up in a skewer, head and all, so that in the
extremest agony he could not move, and forthwith broil him to death:
then were the same Almighty Power that formed man from the dust, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, to call the eel into a
new existence, with a knowledge of the treatment he had undergone, and
he found that the instinctive disposition which man has in common with
other carnivorous animals, which inclines him to cruelty, was not the
sole cause of his torments; but that men did not attend to consider
whether the sufferings of such insignificant creatures could be
lessened: that eels were not the only sufferers; that lobsters and other
shell fish were put into cold water and boiled to death by slow degrees
in many parts of the sea coast; that these, and many other such wanton
atrocities, were the consequence of carelessness occasioned by the pride
of mankind despising their low estate, and of the general opinion that
there is no punishable sin in the ill-treatment of animals designed for
our use; that, therefore, the woman did not bestow so much thought on
him as to cut his head off first, and that she would have laughed at any
considerate person who should have desired such a thing; with what
fearful indignation might he inveigh against the unfeeling metaphysician
that, like a cruel spirit alarmed at the appearance of a dawning of
mercy upon animals, could not rest satisfied with opposing the Cruelty
Prevention Bill by the plea of possible inconvenience to mankind, highly
magnified and emblazoned, but had set forth to the vulgar and unthinking
of all ranks, in the jargon of proud learning, that man's obligations of
morality towards the creatures subjected to his use are imperfect
Robinson's review was, I imagine, _The London Review_, founded by
Richard Cumberland in February, 1809, which, however, no longer existed,
having run its brief course by November, 1809.
"Megaera's snaky locks." From _Paradise Lost_, X., 559:--
and up the trees
Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks
That curl'd Megaera.
Here should come another letter from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Senior,
dated March 10, 1810. It refers to Mr. Lloyd's translation of the first
seven books of the _Odyssey_ and is accompanied by a number of
criticisms. Lamb advises Mr. Lloyd to complete the _Odyssey_, adding
that he would prize it for its Homeric plainness and truths above the
confederate jumble of Pope, Broom and Fenton which goes under Pope's
name and is far inferior to his _Iliad_. Among the criticisms is one on
Mr. Lloyd's use of the word "patriotic," in which Lamb says that it
strikes his ears as being too modern; adding that in English few words
of more than three syllables chime well into a verse. The word
"sentiment" calls from him the remark that he would root it out of a
translation of Homer. "It came in with Sterne, and was a child he had by
CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN MATHEW GUTCH
[April 9th, 1810.]
Dear Gutch,--I did not see your brother, who brought me Wither; but he
understood, he said, you were daily expecting to come to town: this has
prevented my writing. The books have pleased me excessively: I should
think you could not have made a better selection. I never saw
"Philarete" before--judge of my pleasure. I could not forbear scribbling
certain critiques in pencil on the blank leaves. Shall I send them, or
may I expect to see you in town? Some of them are remarks on the
character of Wither and of his writings. Do you mean to have anything of
that kind? What I have said on "Philarete" is poor, but I think some of
the rest not so bad: perhaps I have exceeded my commission in scrawling
over the copies; but my delight therein must excuse me, and pencil-marks
will rub out. Where is the Life? Write, for I am quite in the dark.
Yours, with many thanks,
Perhaps I could digest the few critiques prefixed to the Satires,
Shepherds Hunting, &c., into a short abstract of Wither's character and
works, at the end of his Life. But, may be, you don't want any thing,
and have said all you wish in the Life.
[John Mathew Gutch (1776-1861), whom we have met before, was at this
time living at Bristol, where he owned, edited and printed _Felix
Farley's Bristol Journal_. He had been printing for his own pleasure an
edition of George Wither's poems, which he had sent to Lamb for his
opinion, intending ultimately to edit Wither fully. Lamb returned the
volumes with a number of comments, many of which he afterwards
incorporated in his essay "On the poetry of George Wither," printed in
his _Works_ in 1818. Gutch subsequently handed the volumes to his friend
Dr. John Nott of the Hot Wells, Bristol, who had views of his own upon
Wither, and who commented in his turn on the poet and on Lamb's
criticism of the poet. In course of time the volumes fell into Lamb's
hands again, when Nott's comments on Wither and on Lamb received
treatment. They were ultimately given by Lamb to his friend Brook Pulham
of the India House (who made the caricature etching of "AElia") and are
now in the possession of Mr. A.C. Swinburne, who told the story of the
book in the _Nineteenth Century_ for January, 1885, reprinted in his
_Miscellanies_, 1886. Some passages from that article will be found in
the notes to Lamb's essay on Wither in Vol. I. of the present edition.
The last word was with Nott, for when Gutch printed a three- or
four-volume edition of Wither in 1820, under Nott's editorship, many of
Lamb's best things were included as Nott's.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BASIL MONTAGU
Mr. Hazlitt's: Winterslow, near Sarum,
12th July, 1810.
Dear [Montagu],--I have turned and twisted the MSS. in my head, and can
make nothing of them. I knew when I took them that I could not; but I do
not like to do an act of ungracious necessity at once; so I am ever
committing myself by half engagements and total failures. I cannot make
any body understand why I can't do such things. It is a defect in my
occiput. I cannot put other people's thoughts together; I forget every
paragraph as fast as I read it; and my head has received such a shock by
an all-night journey on the top of the coach, that I shall have enough
to do to nurse it into its natural pace before I go home. I must devote
myself to imbecility. I must be gloriously useless while I stay here.
How is Mrs. [M.]? will she pardon my inefficiency? The city of Salisbury
is full of weeping and wailing. The Bank has stopt payment; and every
body in the town kept money at it, or has got some of its notes. Some
have lost all they had in the world. It is the next thing to seeing a
city with a plague within its walls. The Wilton people are all undone.
All the manufacturers there kept cash at the Salisbury bank; and I do
suppose it to be the unhappiest county in England this, where I am
We purpose setting out for Oxford Tuesday fortnight, and coming thereby
home. But no more night travelling. My head is sore (understand it of
the inside) with that deduction of my natural rest which I suffered
coming down. Neither Mary nor I can spare a morsel of our rest. It is
incumbent on us to be misers of it. Travelling is not good for us--we
travel so seldom. If the Sun be Hell, it is not for the fire, but for
the sempiternal motion of that miserable Body of Light. How much more
dignified leisure hath a mussel glued to his unpassable rocky limit, two
inch square! He hears the tide roll over him, backwards and forwards
twice a-day (as the d----d Salisbury Long Coach goes and returns in
eight and forty hours), but knows better than to take an outside
night-place a top on't. He is the Owl of the Sea. Minerva's fish. The
fish of Wisdom.
Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. [M.].
Yours truly, C. LAMB.
[If the date is correct we must suppose that the Lambs had made a second
visit to the Hazlitts and were intending to return by way of Oxford (see
Basil Montagu was a barrister and humanitarian, a friend of Wordsworth
and Coleridge, and afterwards step-father-in-law of Procter. He was born
in 1770 and lived until 1851. Lamb probably addressed to him many other
letters, also to his third wife, Carlyle's "noble lady." But the
correspondence was destroyed by Mrs. Procter.
The MSS. referred to cannot now be identified.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM HAZLITT
August 9th, 1810.
Dear H.,--Epistemon is not well. Our pleasant excursion has ended sadly
for one of us. You will guess I mean my sister. She got home very well
(I was very ill on the journey) and continued so till Monday night, when
her complaint came on, and she is now absent from home.
I am glad to hear you are all well. I think I shall be mad if I take any
more journeys with two experiences against it. I find all well here.
Kind remembrances to Sarah--have just got her letter.
H. Robinson has been to Blenheim. He says you will be sorry to hear that
we should have asked for the Titian Gallery there. One of his friends
knew of it, and asked to see it. It is never shown but to those who
inquire for it.
The pictures are all Titians, Jupiter and Ledas, Mars and Venuses, &c.,
all naked pictures, which may be a reason they don't show it to females.
But he says they are very fine; and perhaps it is shown separately to
put another fee into the shower's pocket. Well, I shall never see it.
I have lost all wish for sights. God bless you. I shall be glad to see
you in London.
Yours truly, C. LAMB.
[Hazlitt subsequently saw the Blenheim Titians and wrote of them with
gusto in his description of the Picture Galleries of England.
Next should come a letter from Lamb to Mrs. Thomas Clarkson, dated
September 18, 1810, not available for this edition; relating to the
illness of Mary Lamb and stating that she is "quite restored and will be
with me in little more than a week."]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
Friday, 19 Oct., 1810. _E.I.Ho_.
Dr W.--I forwarded the Letter which you sent to me, without opening it,
to your Sister at Binfield. She has returned it to me, and begs me to
tell you that she intends returning from B. on Monday or Tuesday next,
when Priscilla leaves it, and that it was her earnest wish to spend
another week with us in London, but she awaits another Letter from home
to determine her. I can only say that she appeared so much pleased with
London, and that she is so little likely to see it again for a long
time, that if you can spare her, it will be almost a pity not. But
doubtless she will have heard again from you, before I can get a reply
to this Letter & what she next hears she says will be decisive. If
wanted, she will set out immediately from London. Mary has been very ill
which you have heard I suppose from the Montagues. She is very weak and
low spirited now. I was much pleased with your continuation of the Essay
on Epitaphs. It is the only sensible thing which has been written on
that subject & it goes to the Bottom. In particular I was pleased with
your Translation of that Turgid Epitaph into the plain feeling under it.
It is perfectly a Test. But what is the reason we have so few good
Epitaphs after all?
A very striking instance of your position might be found in the Church
yard of Ditton upon Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton upon Thames
has been blessed by the residence of a Poet, who for Love or Money, I do
not well know which, has dignified every grave stone for the last few
years with bran new verses, all different, and all ingenious, with the
Author's name at the Bottom of each. The sweet Swan of Thames has
artfully diversified his strains & his rhymes, that the same thought
never occurs twice. More justly perhaps, as no thought ever occurs at
all, there was a physical impossibility that the same thought should
recur. It is long since I saw and read these inscriptions, but I
remember the impression was of a smug Usher at his desk, in the
intervals of instruction levelling his pen. Of Death as it consists of
dust and worms and mourners and uncertainty he had never thought, but
the word death he had often seen separate & conjunct with other words,
till he had learned to skill of all its attributes as glibly as
Unitarian Belsham will discuss you the attributes of the word God, in a
Pulpit, and will talk of infinity with a tongue that dangles from a
scull that never reached in thought and thorough imagination two inches,
or further than from his hand to his mouth, or from the vestry to the
Sounding Board. [But the] epitaphs were trim and sprag & patent, &
pleased the survivors of Thames Ditton above the old mumpsimus of
To do justice though, it must be owned that even the excellent Feeling
which dictated this Dirge when new, must have suffered something in
passing thro' so many thousand applications, many of them no doubt quite
misplaced, as I have seen in Islington Churchy'd (I think) an Epitaph to
an Infant who died AEtatis 4 months, with this seasonable inscription
appended, Honor thy Fath'r. and Moth'r. that thy days may be long in the
Land &c.--Sincerely wishing your children better [_words cut out with
[Binfield, near Windsor, was the home of Dorothy Wordsworth's uncle, Dr.
Cookson, Canon of Windsor.
Priscilla, _nee_ Lloyd, a sister of Charles Lloyd, had married
Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards Master of Trinity, in 1804.
Wordsworth's "Essay on Epitaphs" was printed in part in _The Friend_,
February 22, 1810. For the remainder see Wordsworth's _Works_, Part II.
began with a reference to _Rosamund Gray_. I quote the passage
containing the turgid example.
Let us return to an instance of common life. I quote it with reluctance,
not so much for its absurdity as that the expression in one place will
strike at first sight as little less than impious; and it is indeed,
though unintentionally so, most irreverent. But I know no other example
that will so forcibly illustrate the important truth I wish to
establish. The following epitaph is to be found in a church-yard in
Westmoreland; which the present Writer has reason to think of with
interest as it contains the remains of some of his ancestors and
kindred. The date is 1673.
"Under this Stone, Reader, inter'd doth lye,
Beauty and Virtue's true epitomy.
At her appearance the noone-son
Blush'd and shrunk in 'cause quite outdon.
In her concentered did all graces dwell:
God pluck'd my rose that He might take a smel.
I'll say no more: but weeping wish I may
Soone with thy dear chaste ashes com to lay.
Sic efflevit Maritus."
Can anything go beyond this in extravagance? yet, if the fundamental
thoughts be translated into a natural style, they will be found
reasonable and affecting--"The woman who lies here interred, was in my
eyes a perfect image of beauty and virtue; she was to me a brighter
object than the sun in heaven: God took her, who was my delight, from
this earth to bring her nearer to Himself. Nothing further is worthy to
be said than that weeping I wish soon to lie by thy dear chaste ashes.
Thus did the husband pour out his tears."
Wordsworth wrote an epitaph on Lamb, but it was too long to be used. A
few lines are now on the tablet in Edmonton Church.
Lamb had begun his criticisms of churchyard epitaphs very early:
Talfourd tells that, when quite a little boy, after reading a number of
flattering inscriptions, he asked Mary Lamb where all the bad people
MARY LAMB TO MISS WORDSWORTH
[P.M. November 13, 1810.]
My dear friend--My brother's letter, which I did not see, I am sure has
distressed you sadly. I was then so ill as to alarm him exceedingly, and
he thought me quite incapable of any kind of business. It is a great
mortification to me to be such an useless creature, and I feel myself
greatly indebted to you for the very kind manner in which you take this
ungracious matter: but I will say no more on this unpleasant subject. I
am at present under the care of Dr. Tuthill. I think I have derived
great benefit from his medicines. He has also made a water drinker of
me, which, contrary to my expectations, seems to agree with me very
I very much regret that you were so untimely snatched away; the lively
recollection you seem to retain of London scenes will I hope induce you
to return, in happier times, for I must still hope for better days.
We have had many pleasant hours with Coleridge,--if I had not known how
ill he is I should have had no idea of it, for he has been very
chearful. But yet I have no good news to send you of him, for two days
ago, when I saw him last, he had not begun his course of medicine &
regimen under Carlisle. I have had a very chearful letter from Mrs.
Clarkson. She complained a little of your friend Tom, but she says she
means to devote the winter to the task of new molding him, I am afraid
she will find it no easy task.
Mrs. Montague was very sorry to find you gone. I have not seen much of
her, for I have kept very much at home since her return. I mean to stay
at home and keep early hours all this winter.
I have a new maid coming this evening. Betty, that you left here, went
from me last week, and I took a girl lately from the country, who was
fetched away in a few days by her sister, who took it into her head that
the Temple was an improper place for a girl to live in. I wish the one
that is coming may suit me. She is seven & twenty, with a very plain
person, therefore I may hope she will be in little danger here.
Henry Robinson, and many other friends that you made here, enquire
continually after you. The Spanish lady is gone, and now poor Robinson
is left quite forlorn.
The streets remind me so much of you that I wish for you every showy
shop I pass by. I hope we had many pleasant fireside hours together, but
I almost fear the stupid dispirited state I was in made me seem a very
flat companion; but I know I listened with great pleasure to many
interesting conversations. I thank you for what you have done for
Phillips, his fate will be decided in about a week. He has lately
breakfasted with Sir Joseph Banks, who received him with great civility
but made him no promise of support. Sir Joseph told him a new candidate
had started up who it was expected would be favoured by the council. I
am afraid Phillips stands a very poor chance.
I am doing nothing, I wish I was, for if I were once more busily
employed at work, I should be more satisfied with myself. I should not
feel so helpless, & so useless.
I hope you will write soon, your letters give me great pleasure; you
have made me so well acquainted with all your household, that I must
hope for frequent accounts how you are all going on. Remember us
affectionately to your brother & sister. I hope the little Katherine
continues mending. God bless you all & every one.
Your affectionate friend
Nov'r. 13, 1810.
CHARLES LAMB TO Miss WORDSWORTH
(_Added to same letter_)
Mary has left a little space for me to fill up with nonsense, as the
Geographers used to cram monsters in the voids of their maps & call it
Terra Incognita. She has told you how she has taken to water, like a
hungry otter. I too limp after her in lame imitation, but it goes
against me a little _at first_. I have been _aquavorous_ now for full
four days, and it seems a moon. I am full of cramps & rheumatisms, and
cold internally so that fire won't warm me, yet I bear all for virtues
sake. Must I then leave you, Gin, Rum, Brandy, Aqua Vitae--pleasant
jolly fellows--Damn Temperance and them that first invented it, some
Anti Noahite. Coleridge has powdered his head, and looks like Bacchus,
Bacchus ever sleek and young. He is going to turn sober, but his Clock
has not struck yet, meantime he pours down goblet after goblet, the 2d
to see where the 1st is gone, the 3d to see no harm happens to the
second, a fourth to say there's another coming, and a 5th to say he's
not sure he's the last. William Henshaw is dead. He died yesterday, aged
56. It was but a twelvemonth or so back that his Father, an ancient
Gunsmith & my Godfather, sounded me as to my willingness to be guardian
to this William in case of his (the old man's) death. William had three
times broke in business, twice in England, once in t'other Hemisphere.
He returned from America a sot & hath liquidated all debts. What a
hopeful ward I am rid of. AEtatis 56. I must have taken care of his
morals, seen that he did not form imprudent connections, given my
consent before he could have married &c. From all which the stroke of
death hath relieved me. Mrs. Reynolds is the name of the Lady to whom I
will remember you to-morrow. Farewell. Wish me strength to continue.
I've been eating jugg'd Hare. The toast & water makes me quite sick.
[After the preceding letter Mary Lamb had been taken ill--but not, I
think, mentally--and Dorothy Wordsworth's visit was put off.
Coleridge, _The Friend_ having ceased, had come to London with the
Montagus on October 26 to stay with them indefinitely at 55 Frith
Street, Soho. But a few days after his arrival Montagu had inadvisedly
repeated what he unjustifiably called a warning phrase of Wordsworth's
concerning Coleridge's difficult habits as a guest--the word "nuisance"
being mentioned--and this had so plunged Coleridge in grief that he left
Soho for Hammersmith, where his friends the Morgans were living.
Montagu's indiscretion led to a quarrel between Coleridge and Wordsworth
which was long of healing. This is no place in which to tell the story,
which has small part in Lamb's life; but it led to one of the few
letters from Coleridge to Lamb that have been preserved (see Mr. E.H.
Coleridge's edition of Coleridge's _Letters_, page 586).
Carlisle was Sir Anthony Carlisle (1768-1840), the surgeon and a friend
"The Spanish lady"--Madam Lavaggi. See Robinson's _Diary_, 1869, Vol.
I., page 303.
"Phillips." This would be Ned Phillips, I presume, not the Colonel. I
have not discovered for what post he was trying.
"The little Katherine." Catherine Wordsworth, born September 6, 1808,
lived only until June 4, 1812.
"I have been _aquavorous_." Writing to Dorothy Wordsworth on December 23
Crabb Robinson says that Lamb has abstained from alcohol and tobacco
since Lord Mayor's Day (November 9).
"William Henshaw." I know nothing more of this unfortunate man.]
MARY LAMB TO MISS WORDSWORTH
[P.M. Nov. 23, 1810.]
My dear Friend, Miss Monkhouse left town yesterday, but I think I am
able to answer all your enquiries. I saw her on Sunday evening at Mrs.
Montagu's. She looked very well & said her health was greatly improved.
She promised to call on me before she left town but the weather having
been very bad I suppose has prevented her. She received the letter which
came through my brother's hands and I have learned from Mrs. Montagu
that all your commissions are executed. It was Carlisle that she
consulted, and she is to continue taking his prescriptions in the
country. Mr. Monkhouse & Mr. Addison drank tea with us one evening last
week. Miss Monkhouse is a very pleasing girl, she reminds me, a little,
of Miss Hutchinson. I have not seen Henry Robinson for some days past,
but I remember he told me he had received a letter from you, and he
talked of Spanish papers which he should send to Mr. Southey. I wonder
he does not write, for I have always understood him to be a very regular
correspondent, and he seemed very proud of your letter. I am tolerably
well, but I still affect the invalid--take medicines, and keep at home
as much as I possibly can. Water-drinking, though I confess it to be a
flat thing, is become very easy to me. Charles perseveres in it most
Coleridge is just in the same state as when I wrote last--I have not
seen him since Sunday, he was then at Mr. Morgan's but talked of taking
Phillips feels a certainty that he shall lose his election, for the new
candidate is himself a Fellow of the Royal Society, and [it] is thought
Sir Joseph Banks will favour him. It will now be soon decided.
My new maid is now sick in bed. Am I not unlucky? She would have suited
me very well if she had been healthy, but I must send her away if she is
not better tomorrow.
Charles promised to add a few lines, I will therefore leave him plenty
of room, for he may perhaps think of something to entertain you. I am
sure I cannot.
I hope you will not return to Grasmere till all fear of the Scarlet
Fever is over, I rejoice to hear so good an account of the children and
hope you will write often. When I write next I will endeavour to get a
frank. This I cannot do but when the parliament is sitting, and as you
seemed anxious about Miss Monkhouse I would not defer sending this,
though otherwise it is not worth paying one penny for.
God bless you all.
CHARLES LAMB TO Miss WORDSWORTH
(_Added to same letter_)
We are in a pickle. Mary from her affectation of physiognomy has hired a
stupid big country wench who looked honest, as she thought, and has been
doing her work some days but without eating--eats no butter nor meat,
but prefers cheese with her tea for breakfast--and now it comes out that
she was ill when she came with lifting her mother about (who is now with
God) when she was dying, and with riding up from Norfolk 4 days and
nights in the waggon. She got advice yesterday and took something which
has made her bring up a quart of blood, and she now lies, a dead weight
upon our humanity, in her bed, incapable of getting up, refusing to go
into an hospital, having no body in town but a poor asthmatic dying
Uncle, whose son lately married a drab who fills his house, and there is
no where she can go, and she seems to have made up her mind to take her
flight to heaven from our bed.--O God! O God!--for the little
wheelbarrow which trundled the Hunchback from door to door to try the
various charities of different professions of Mankind!
Here's her Uncle just crawled up, he is far liker Death than He. O the
Parish, the Parish, the hospital, the infirmary, the charnel house,
these are places meet for such guests, not our quiet mansion where
nothing but affluent plenty and literary ease should abound.--Howard's
House, Howard's House, or where the Parylitic descended thro' the
sky-light (what a God's Gift) to get at our Savior. In this perplexity
such topics as Spanish papers and Monkhouses sink into comparative
insignificance. What shall we do?--If she died, it were something:
gladly would I pay the coffin maker and the bellman and searchers--O
Christ. C. L.
[Miss Monkhouse was the daughter of the Wordsworths' and Lambs' friend,
"Mr. Addison." I have not traced this gentleman.
Miss Hutchinson was Sarah Hutchinson, sister of Mrs. Wordsworth.
"The Hunchback." In the _Arabian Nights_.
"Howard's House." This would be Cold-Bath Fields Prison, erected in 1794
upon some humane suggestions of Howard the Philanthropist.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM HAZLITT
Wednesday, November 28, 1810.
Dear Hazlitt--I sent you on Saturday a Cobbett, containing your reply to
the _Edinburgh Review_, which I thought you would be glad to receive as
an example of attention on the part of Mr. Cobbett to insert it so
speedily. Did you get it? We have received your pig, and return you
thanks; it will be dressed in due form, with appropriate sauce, this
day. Mary has been very ill indeed since you saw her; that is, as ill as
she can be to remain at home. But she is a good deal better now, owing
to a very careful regimen. She drinks nothing but water, and never goes
out; she does not even go to the Captain's. Her indisposition has been
ever since that night you left town; the night Miss W[ordsworth] came.
Her coming, and that d----d Mrs. Godwin coming and staying so late that
night, so overset her that she lay broad awake all that night, and it
was by a miracle that she escaped a very bad illness, which I thoroughly
expected. I have made up my mind that she shall never have any one in
the house again with her, and that no one shall sleep with her, not even
for a night; for it is a very serious thing to be always living with a
kind of fever upon her; and therefore I am sure you will take it in good
part if I say that if Mrs. Hazlitt comes to town at any time, however
glad we shall be to see her in the daytime, I cannot ask her to spend a
night under our roof. Some decision we must come to, for the harassing
fever that we have both been in, owing to Miss Wordsworth's coming, is
not to be borne; and I would rather be dead than so alive. However, at
present, owing to a regimen and medicines which Tuthill has given her,
who very kindly volunteer'd the care of her, she is a great deal
quieter, though too much harassed by company, who cannot or will not see
how late hours and society teaze her.
Poor Phillips had the cup dash'd out of his lips as it were. He had
every prospect of the situation, when about ten days since one of the
council of the R. Society started for the place himself, being a rich
merchant who lately failed, and he will certainly be elected on Friday
next. P. is very sore and miserable about it.
Coleridge is in town, or at least at Hammersmith. He is writing or going
to write in the _Courier_ against Cobbett, and in favour of paper money.
No news. Remember me kindly to Sarah. I write from the office.
Yours ever, C. LAMB.
I just open'd it to say the pig, upon proof, hath turned out as good as
I predicted. My fauces yet retain the sweet porcine odour. I find you
have received the Cobbett. I think your paper complete.
Mrs. Reynolds, who is a sage woman, approves of the pig.
["A Cobbett." This was Cobbett's _Political Register_ for November 24,
1810, containing Hazlitt's letter upon "Mr. Malthus and the Edinburgh
Reviewers," signed "The Author of a Reply to the _Essay on Population_."
Hazlitt's reply had been criticised in the _Edinburgh_ for August,
probably only just published.
The postscript contains Lamb's first passage in praise of roast pig.
I place next the following undated letter to Godwin from Mr. Kegan
Paul's _William Godwin: His Friends and Contemporaries_, as it seems to
be connected with the decision concerning visitors expressed in the
letter to Hazlitt.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM GODWIN
Dear Godwin,--I have found it for several reasons indispensable to my
comfort, and to my sister's, to have no visitors in the forenoon. If I
cannot accomplish this I am determined to leave town.
I am extremely sorry to do anything in the slightest degree that may
seem offensive to you or to Mrs. Godwin, but when a general rule is
fixed on, you know how odious in a case of this sort it is to make
exceptions; I assure you I have given up more than one friendship in
stickling for this point. It would be unfair to those from whom I have
parted with regret to make exceptions, which I would not do for them.
Let me request you not to be offended, and to request Mrs. G. not to be
offended, if I beg both your compliances with this wish. Your friendship
is as dear to me as that of any person on earth, and if it were not for
the necessity of keeping tranquillity at home, I would not seem so
If you were to see the agitation that my sister is in, between the fear
of offending you and Mrs. G. and the difficulty of maintaining a system
which she feels we must do to live without wretchedness, you would
excuse this seeming strange request, which I send you with a trembling
anxiety as to its reception with you, whom I would never offend. I rely
on your goodness.
MARY LAMB TO SARAH HAZLITT
[? End of 1810 or early 1811.]
My dear Sarah,--I have taken a large sheet of paper, as if I were going
to write a long letter; but that is by no means my intention, for I only
have time to write three lines to notify what I ought to have done the
moment I received your welcome letter. Namely, that I shall be very much
joyed to see you. Every morning lately I have been expecting to see you
drop in, even before your letter came; and I have been setting my wits
to work to think how to make you as comfortable as the nature of our
inhospitable habits will admit. I must work while you are here; and I
have been slaving very hard to get through with something before you
come, that I may be quite in the way of it, and not teize you with
complaints all day that I do not know what to do.
I am very sorry to hear of your mischance. Mrs. Rickman has just buried
her youngest child. I am glad I am an old maid; for, you see, there is
nothing but misfortunes in the marriage state.
Charles was drunk last night, and drunk the night before; which night
before was at Godwin's, where we went, at a short summons from Mr. G.,
to play a solitary rubber, which was interrupted by the entrance of Mr.
and little Mrs. Liston; and after them came Henry Robinson, who is now
domesticated at Mr. Godwin's fireside, and likely to become a formidable
rival to Tommy Turner. We finished there at twelve o'clock (Charles and
Liston brim-full of gin and water and snuff): after which Henry Robinson
spent a long evening by our fireside at home; and there was much gin and
water drunk, albeit only one of the party partook of it. And H.R.
professed himself highly indebted to Charles for the useful information
he gave him on sundry matters of taste and imagination, even after
Charles could not speak plain for tipsiness. But still he swallowed the
flattery and the spirits as savourily as Robinson did his cold water.
Last night was to be a night, but it was not. There was a certain son of
one of Martin's employers, one young Mr. Blake; to do whom honour, Mrs.
Burney brought forth, first rum, then a single bottle of champaine, long
kept in her secret hoard; then two bottles of her best currant wine,
which she keeps for Mrs. Rickman, came out; and Charles partook
liberally of all these beverages, while Mr. Young Blake and Mr. Ireton
talked of high matters, such as the merits of the Whip Club, and the
merits of red and white champaine. Do I spell that last word right?
Rickman was not there, so Ireton had it all his own way.
The alternating Wednesdays will chop off one day in the week from your
jolly days, and I do not know how we shall make it up to you; but I will
contrive the best I can. Phillips comes again pretty regularly, to the
great joy of Mrs. Reynolds. Once more she hears the well-loved sounds
of, 'How do you do, Mrs. Reynolds? How does Miss Chambers do?'
I have spun out my three lines amazingly. Now for family news. Your
brother's little twins are not dead, but Mrs. John Hazlitt and her baby
may be, for any thing I know to the contrary, for I have not been there
for a prodigious long time. Mrs. Holcroft still goes about from
Nicholson to Tuthil, and from Tuthil to Godwin, and from Godwin to
Tuthil, and from Tuthil to Godwin, and from Godwin to Tuthil, and from
Tuthil to Nicholson, to consult on the publication, or no publication,
of the life of the good man, her husband. It is called the Life
Everlasting. How does that same Life go on in your parts? Good bye, God
bless you. I shall be glad to see you when you come this way.
Yours most affectionately,
I am going in great haste to see Mrs. Clarkson, for I must get back to
dinner, which I have hardly time to do. I wish that dear, good, amiable
woman would go out of town. I thought she was clean gone; and yesterday
there was a consultation of physicians held at her house, to see if they
could keep her among them here a few weeks longer.
[This letter is dated by Mr. Hazlitt November 30, 1810, but I doubt if
that can be right. See extract from Crabb Robinson above, testifying to
Lamb's sobriety between November 9 and December 23.
Liston was John Liston (1776?-1846), the actor, whose mock biography
Lamb wrote some years later (see Vol. I. of this edition). His wife was
a diminutive comedienne, famous as Queen Dollalolla in "Tom Thumb." Lamb
may have known Liston through the Burneys, for he is said to have been
an usher in Dr. Burney's school--Dr. Charles Burney, Captain Burney's
"Henry Robinson." Crabb Robinson's _Diary_ shows us that his
domestication by Godwin's fireside was not of long duration. I do not
know who Tommy Turner was. Mr. Ireton was probably William Ayrton, the
musical critic, a friend and neighbour of the Burneys, and later a
friend of the Lambs, as we shall see.
"The alternating Wednesdays." The Lambs seem to have given up their
weekly Wednesday evening, which now became fortnightly. Later it was:
changed to Thursday and made monthly.
Mrs. Reynolds had been a Miss Chambers.]
MARY LAMB TO MATILDA BETHAM
[No date. Feb., 1811.]
My dear Matilda,--Coleridge has given me a very chearful promise that he
will wait on Lady Jerningham any day you will be pleased to appoint; he
offered to write to you; but I found it was to be done _tomorrow_, and
as I am pretty well acquainted with his tomorrows, I thought good to let
you know his determination _today_. He is in town today, but as he is
often going to Hammersmith for a night or two, you had better perhaps
send the invitation through me, and I will manage it for you as well as
I can. You had better let him have four or five days' previous notice,
and you had better send the invitation as soon as you can; for he seems
tolerably well just now. I mention all these betters, because I wish to
do the best I can for you, perceiving, as I do, it is a thing you have
set your heart upon. He dined one [d]ay in company with Catilana (is
that the way you spell her Italian name?--I am reading Sallust, and had
like to have written Catiline). How I should have liked, and how you
would have liked, to have seen Coleridge and Catilana together!
You have been very good of late to let me come and see you so seldom,
and you are a little goodish to come so seldom here, because you stay
away from a kind motive. But if you stay away always, as I fear you mean
to do, I would not give one pin for your good intentions. In plain
words, come and see me very soon; for though I be not sensitive as some
people, I begin to feel strange qualms for having driven you from me.
Alas! Wednesday shines no more to me now.
Miss Duncan played famously in the new comedy, which went off as
famously. By the way, she put in a spiteful piece of wit, I verily
believe of her own head; and methought she stared me full in the face.
The words were "As silent as an author in company." Her hair and herself
looked remarkably well.
[Angelica Catalani (1782-1849) was the great singer. I find no record of
Coleridge's meeting with her.
"Miss Duncan." Praise of this lady in Miss Hardcastle and other parts
will be found in Leigh Hunt's _Critical Essays on the Performers of the
London Theatres_, 1807. At this time she was playing with the Drury Lane
Company at the Lyceum. They produced several new plays.]
CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN MORGAN
[Dated at end: March 8, 1811.]
There--don't read any further, because the Letter is not intended for
you but for Coleridge, who might perhaps not have opened it directed to
him suo nomine. It is to invite C. to Lady Jerningham's on Sunday. Her
address is to be found within. We come to Hammersmith notwithstanding on
Sunday, and hope Mrs. M. will not think of getting us Green Peas or any
such expensive luxuries. A plate of plain Turtle, another of Turbot,
with good roast Beef in the rear, and, as Alderman Curtis says, whoever
can't make a dinner of that ought to be damn'd. C. LAMB.
Friday night, 8 Mar., 1811.
[This is Lamb's only existing letter to Coleridge's friend, John Morgan.
Coleridge had not found a lodging and was still with the Morgans at 7
Portland Place, Hammersmith.
Alderman Sir William Curtis, M.P., afterwards Lord Mayor of London, was
the subject of much ridicule by the Whigs and Radicals, and the hero of
Peter Pindar's satire "The Fat Knight and the Petition." It was he who
first gave the toast of the three R.'s--"reading, riting and
MARY LAMB TO SARAH HAZLITT
2 Oct., 1811.
My dear Sarah,--I have been a long time anxiously expecting the happy
news that I have just received. I address you because, as the letter has
been lying some days at the India House, I hope you are able to sit up
and read my congratulations on the little live boy you have been so many
years wishing for. As we old women say, 'May he live to be a great
comfort to you!' I never knew an event of the kind that gave me so much
pleasure as the little long-looked-for-come-at-last's arrival; and I
rejoiced to hear his honour has begun to suck--the word was not
distinctly written and I was a long time making out the solemn fact. I
hope to hear from you soon, for I am desirous to know if your nursing
labours are attended with any difficulties. I wish you a happy
_getting-up_, and a merry christening.
Charles sends his love, perhaps though he will write a scrap to Hazlitt
at the end. He is now looking over me, he is always in my way, for he
has had a month's holydays at home, but I am happy to say they end on
Monday--when mine begin, for I am going to pass a week at Richmond with
Mrs. Burney. She has been dying, but she went to the Isle of Wight and
recovered once more, and she is finishing her recovery at Richmond. When
there I intend to read Novels and play at Piquet all day long.
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM HAZLITT
(_Added to same letter_)
I cannot help accompanying my sister's congratulations to Sarah with
some of my own to you on this happy occasion of a man child being born--
Delighted Fancy already sees him some future rich alderman or opulent
merchant; painting perhaps a little in his leisure hours for amusement
like the late H. Bunbury, Esq.
Pray, are the Winterslow Estates entailed? I am afraid lest the young
dog when he grows up should cut down the woods, and leave no groves for
widows to take their lonesome solace in. The Wem Estate of course can
only devolve on him, in case of your brother leaving no male issue.
Well, my blessing and heaven's be upon him, and make him like his
father, with something a better temper and a smoother head of hair, and
then all the men and women must love him.
Martin and the Card-boys join in congratulations. Love to Sarah. Sorry
we are not within Caudle-shot. C. LAMB.
If the widow be assistant on this notable occasion, give our due
respects and kind remembrances to her.
[William Hazlitt's son, William Hazlitt, afterwards the Registrar, was
born on September 26, 1811, He had been preceded by another boy, in
1809, who lived, however, only a few months.
"H. Bunbury." Henry William Bunbury, the caricaturist and painter, and
the husband of Goldsmith's friend, Catherine Horneck, the "Jessamy
Bride." He died in 1811.
The Card-boys would be Lamb's Wednesday visitors.
Here should come a letter from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Senior, dated
September 8, 1812. It is printed in _Charles Lamb and the Lloyds_: a
letter of criticism of Mr. Lloyd's translation of the _Epistles_ of
A letter from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Junior, belonging to this period,
is now no more, in common with all but two of his letters, the remainder
of which were destroyed by Lloyd's son, Charles Grosvenor Lloyd. Writing
to Daniel Stuart on October 13, 1812, Wordsworth says. "Lamb writes to
Lloyd that C.'s play [Coleridge's "Remorse"] is accepted."
We now come to a period of three years in Lamb's life which is
represented in the correspondence by only two or three letters. Not
until August 9, 1814, does he return to his old manner. During this time
Lamb is known to have written his first essay on Christ's Hospital, his
"Confessions of a Drunkard," the little but excellent series of
Table-Talk in _The Examiner_ and some verses in the same paper. Possibly
he wrote many letters too, but they have disappeared. We know from Crabb
Robinson's _Diary_ that it was a social period with the Lambs; the India
House work also becoming more exacting than before.]
CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN DYER COLLIER
[No date. Probably 1812.]
Dear Sir--Mrs. Collier has been kind enough to say that you would
endeavour to procure a reporter's situation for W. Hazlitt. I went to
consult him upon it last night, and he acceded very eagerly to the
proposal, and requests me to say how very much obliged he feels to your
kindness, and how glad he should be for its success. He is, indeed, at
his wits' end for a livelihood; and, I should think, especially
qualified for such an employment, from his singular facility in
retaining all conversations at which he has been ever present. I think
you may recommend him with confidence. I am sure I shall _myself_ be
obliged to you for your exertions, having a great regard for him.
[John Payne Collier, who prints this in his _Old Man's Diary_, adds:
"The result was that my father procured for Hazlitt the situation of a
parliamentary reporter on the _Morning Chronicle_; but he did not retain
it long, and as his talents were undoubted, Mr. Perry transferred to him
the office of theatrical critic, a position which was subsequently held
for several years by a person of much inferior talents."
Crabb Robinson mentions in his _Diary_ under the date December 24, 1812,
that Hazlitt is in high spirits from his engagement with Perry as
parliamentary reporter at four guineas a week.
I place here, not having any definite date, a letter on a kindred
subject from Mary Lamb:--]
MARY LAMB TO MRS. JOHN DYER COLLIER
Dear Mrs. C.--This note will be given to you by a young friend of mine,
whom I wish you would employ: she has commenced business as a
mantua-maker, and, if you and my girls would try her, I think she could
fit you all three, and it will be doing her an essential service. She
is, I think, very deserving, and if you procure work for her among your
friends and acquaintances, so much the better. My best love to you and
my girls. We are both well.
[John Payne Collier remarks: "Southey and Coleridge, as is well known,
married two sisters of the name of Fricker. I never saw either of them,
but a third sister settled as a mantua-maker in London, and for some
years she worked for my mother and her daughters. She was an intelligent
woman, but by no means above her business, though she was fond of
talking of her two poet-married relations. She was introduced to my
mother by the following note from Mary Lamb, who always spoke of my
sisters as _her_ girls."
Mary Lamb had herself worked as a mantua-maker for some years previous
to the autumn of 1796.]
CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN SCOTT
[P.M. (? Feb.), 1814.]
Sir--Your explanation is perfectly pleasant to me, and I accede to your
proposal most willingly.
As I began with the beginning of this month, I will if you please call
upon you for _your part of the engagement_ (supposing I shall have
performed mine) on the 1st of March next, and thence forward if it suit
you quarterly.--You will occasionally wink at BRISKETS & VEINY PIECES.
Your hble. Svt.
[John Scott (1783-1821) we shall meet later, in 1820, in connection with
the _London Magazine_, which he edited until the fatal termination of
his quarrel with _Blackwood's_. Scott had just become editor of _The
Lamb's only contribution to _The Champion_ under Scott, which can be
identified, is the essay "On the Melancholy of Tailors," but there is
little doubt that he supplied many of the extracts from old authors
which were printed from time to time, and possibly one or two comic
letters also. See the letter of Dec. 12, 1814.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
[Dated at end: August 9, 1814.]
Dear Wordsworth, I cannot tell you how pleased I was at the receit of
the great Armful of Poetry which you have sent me, and to get it before
the rest of the world too! I have gone quite through with it, and was
thinking to have accomplishd that pleasure a second time before I wrote
to thank you, but M. Burney came in the night (while we were out) and
made holy theft of it, but we expect restitution in a day or two. It is
the noblest conversational poem I ever read. A day in heaven. The part
(or rather main body) which has left the sweetest odour on my memory (a
bad term for the remains of an impression so recent) is the Tales of the
Church yard. The only girl among seven brethren, born out of due time
and not duly taken away again--the deaf man and the blind man--the
Jacobite and the Hanoverian whom antipathies reconcile--the
Scarron-entry of the rusticating parson upon his solitude--these were
all new to me too. My having known the story of Margaret (at the
beginning), a very old acquaintance, even as long back as I saw you
first at Stowey, did not make her reappearance less fresh. I don't know
what to pick out of this Best of Books upon the best subjects for
That gorgeous Sunset is famous, I think it must have been the identical
one we saw on Salisbury plain five years ago, that drew Phillips from
the card table where he had sat from rise of that luminary to its
unequall'd set, but neither he nor I had gifted eyes to see those
symbols of common things glorified such as the prophets saw them, in
that sunset--the wheel--the potter's clay--the wash pot--the wine
press--the almond tree rod--the baskets of figs--the fourfold visaged
head, the throne and him that sat thereon.
One feeling I was particularly struck with as what I recognised so very
lately at Harrow Church on entering in it after a hot and secular day's
pleasure,--the instantaneous coolness and calming, almost transforming,
properties of a country church just entered--a certain fragrance which
it has--either from its holiness, or being kept shut all the week, or
the air that is let in being pure country--exactly what you have reduced
into words but I am feeling I cannot. The reading your lines about it
fixed me for a time, a monument, in Harrow Church, (do you know it?)
with its fine long Spire white as washd marble, to be seen by vantage of
its high scite as far as Salisbury spire itself almost--
I shall select a day or two very shortly when I am coolest in brain to
have a steady second reading, which I feel will lead to many more, for
it will be a stock book with me while eyes or spectacles shall be lent
There is a deal of noble matter about mountain scenery, yet not so much
as to overpower and discountenance a poor Londoner or South country man
entirely, though Mary seems to have felt it occasionally a little too
powerfully, for it was her remark during reading it that by your system
it was doubtful whether a Liver in Towns had a Soul to be Saved. She
almost trembled for that invisible part of us in her.
Save for a late excursion to Harrow and a day or two on the banks of the
Thames this Summer, rural images were fast fading from my mind, and by
the wise provision of the Regent all that was countryfy'd in the Parks
is all but obliterated. The very colour of green is vanishd, the whole
surface of Hyde Park is dry crumbling sand (Arabia Arenosa), not a
vestige or hint of grass ever having grown there, booths and drinking
places go all round it for a mile and half I am confident--I might say
two miles in circuit--the stench of liquors, _bad_ tobacco, dirty people
and provisions, conquers the air and we are stifled and suffocated in
Order after Order has been issued by L'd. Sidmouth in the name of the
Regent (acting in behalf of his Royal father) for the dispersion of the
varlets, but in vain. The vis unita of all the Publicans in London,
Westm'r., Marybone, and miles round is too powerful a force to put down.
The Regent has rais'd a phantom which he cannot lay. There they'll stay
probably for ever. The whole beauty of the Place is gone--that
lake--look of the Serpentine--it has got foolish ships upon it--but
something whispers to have confidence in nature and its revival--
at the coming of the _milder day_
These monuments shall all be overgrown.
Meantime I confess to have smoked one delicious Pipe in one of the
cleanliest and goodliest of the booths--a tent rather, "O call it not a
booth!"--erected by the public Spirit of Watson, who keeps the Adam and
Eve at Pancras (the ale houses have all emigrated with their train of
bottles, mugs, corkscrews, waiters, into Hyde Park--whole Ale houses
with all their Ale!) in company with some of the guards that had been in
France and a fine French girl (habited like a Princess of Banditti)
which one of the dogs had transported from the Garonne to the
Serpentine. The unusual scene, in H. Park, by Candlelight in open air,
good tobacco, bottled stout, made it look like an interval in a
campaign, a repose after battle, I almost fancied scars smarting and was
ready to club a story with my comrades of some of my lying deeds.
After all, the fireworks were splendent--the Rockets in clusters, in
trees and all shapes, spreading about like young stars in the making,
floundering about in Space (like unbroke horses) till some of Newton's
calculations should fix them, but then they went out. Any one who could
see 'em and the still finer showers of gloomy rain fire that fell
sulkily and angrily from 'em, and could go to bed without dreaming of
the Last Day, must be as hardened an Atheist as * * * * * *.
Again let me thank you for your present and assure you that fireworks
and triumphs have not distracted me from receiving a calm and noble
enjoyment from it (which I trust I shall often), and I sincerely
congratulate you on its appearance.
With kindest remembrances to you & household, we remain--yours sincerely
C. LAMB and sister.
9 Aug., 1814.
[With this letter Lamb's second epistolary period may be said to begin.
Wordsworth had sent Lamb a copy of _The Excursion_, which had been
published in July, 1814. In connection with this letter Lamb's review of
the poem in the _Quarterly_ (see Vol. I. of this edition) should be
read. The tales of the churchyard are in Books VI. and VII. The story of
Margaret had been written in 1795.
The "sunset scene" (see letter of September 19, 1814) is at the end of
Book II. Lamb refers to his visit to Hazlitt at Winterslow, near
Salisbury, in 1809, with Mary Lamb, Colonel Phillips and Martin Burney.
Wordsworth was not with them. This is the passage:--
So was he lifted gently from the ground,
And with their freight homeward the shepherds moved
Through the dull mist, I following--when a step,
A single step, that freed me from the skirts
Of the blind vapour, opened to my view
Glory beyond all glory ever seen
By waking sense or by the dreaming soul!
The appearance, instantaneously disclosed,
Was of a mighty city--boldly say
A wilderness of building, sinking far
And self-withdrawn into a boundless depth,
Far sinking into splendour--without end!
Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold,
With alabaster domes, and silver spires,
And blazing terrace upon terrace, high
Uplifted; here, serene pavilions bright,
In avenues disposed; there, towers begirt
With battlements that on their restless fronts
Bore stars--illumination of all gems!
By earthly nature had the effect been wrought
Upon the dark materials of the storm
Now pacified; on them, and on the coves
And mountain-steeps and summits, whereunto
The vapours had receded, taking there
Their station under a cerulean sky.
Oh, 'twas an unimaginable sight!
Clouds, mists, streams, watery rocks and emerald turf,
Clouds of all tincture, rocks and sapphire sky,
Confused, commingled, mutually inflamed,
Molten together, and composing thus,
Each lost in each, that marvellous array
Of temple, palace, citadel, and huge
Fantastic pomp of structure without name,
In fleecy folds voluminous, enwrapped.
Right in the midst, where interspace appeared
Of open court, an object like a throne
Under a shining canopy of state
Stood fixed; and fixed resemblances were seen
To implements of ordinary use,
But vast in size, in substance glorified;
Such as by Hebrew Prophets were beheld
In vision--forms uncouth of mightiest power
For admiration and mysterious awe.
In August, 1814, London was in a state of jubilation over the
declaration of peace between England and France. Lord Sidmouth, late Mr.
Addington, the Home Secretary, known as "The Doctor," was one of Lamb's
butts in his political epigrams.
"* * * * * *." I assume these stars to stand for Godwin.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
13 August, 1814.
Dear Resuscitate,--there comes to you by the vehicle from Lad Lane this
day a volume of German; what it is I cannot justly say, the characters
of those northern nations having been always singularly harsh and
unpleasant to me. It is a contribution of Dr. Southey towards your
wants, and you would have had it sooner but for an odd accident. I wrote
for it three days ago, and the Dr., as he thought, sent it me. A book of
like exterior he did send, but being disclosed, how far unlike. It was
the _Well-bred Scholar_,--a book with which it seems the Dr. laudably
fills up those hours which he can steal from his medical avocations.
Chesterfield, Blair, Beattie, portions from "The Life of Savage," make
up a prettyish system of morality and the Belles Lettres, which Mr.
Mylne, a Schoolmaster, has properly brought together, and calls the
collection by the denomination above mentioned. The Doctor had no sooner
discovered his error than he despatched man and horse to rectify the
mistake, and with a pretty kind of ingenuous modesty in his note seemeth
to deny any knowledge of the _Well-bred Scholar_; false modesty surely
and a blush misplaced; for, what more pleasing than the consideration of
professional austerity thus relaxing, thus improving; but so, when a
child I remember blushing, being caught on my knees to my maker, or
doing otherwise some pious and praiseworthy action; _now_ I rather love
such things to be seen. Henry Crabb Robinson is out upon his circuit,
and his books are inaccessible without his leave and key. He is
attending the Midland Circuit,--a short term, but to him, as to many
young Lawyers, a long vacation sufficiently dreary. I thought I could do
no better than transmit to him, not extracts, but your very letter
itself, than which I think I never read any thing more moving, more
pathetic, or more conducive to the purpose of persuasion. The Crab is a
sour Crab if it does not sweeten him. I think it would draw another
third volume of Dodsley out of me; but you say you don't want any
English books? Perhaps, after all, that's as well; one's romantic
credulity is for ever misleading one into misplaced acts of foolery.
Crab might have answered by this time: his juices take a long time
supplying, but they'll run at last,--I know they will,--pure golden
pippin. His address is at T. Robinson's, Bury, and if on Circuit, to be
forwarded immediately--such my peremptory superscription. A fearful
rumour has since reached me that the Crab is on the eve of setting out
for France. If he is in England, your letter will reach him, and I
flatter myself a touch of the persuasive of my own, which accompanies
it, will not be thrown away; if it be, he is a Sloe, and no true-hearted
crab, and there's an end. For that life of the German Conjuror which you
speak of, "Colerus de Vita Doctoris vix-Intelligibilis," I perfectly
remember the last evening we spent with Mrs. Morgan and Miss Brent, in
London-Street,--(by that token we had raw rabbits for supper, and Miss
Brent prevailed upon me to take a glass of brandy and water after
supper, which is not my habit,)--I perfectly remember reading portions
of that life in their parlour, and I think it must be among their
Packages. It was the very last evening we were at that house. What is
gone of that frank-hearted circle, Morgan and his cos-lettuces? He ate
walnuts better than any man I ever knew. Friendships in these parts
stagnate. One piece of news I know will give you pleasure--Rickman is
made a Clerk to the House of Commons, L2000 a year with greater
expectat'us--but that is not the news--but it is that poor card-playing
Phillips, that has felt himself for so many years the outcast of
Fortune, which feeling pervaded his very intellect, till it made the
destiny it feared, withering his hopes in the great and little games of
life--by favor of the single star that ever shone upon him since his
birth, has strangely stept into Rickman's Secretaryship--sword, bag,
House and all--from a hopeless L100 a year eaten up beforehand with
desperate debts, to a clear L400 or L500--it almost reconciles me to the
belief of a moral government of the world--the man stares and gapes and
seems to be always wondering at what has befaln him--he tries to be
eager at Cribbage, but alas! the source of that Interest is dried up for
ever, he no longer plays for his next day's meal, or to determine
whether he shall have a half dinner or a whole dinner, whether he shall
buy a pair of black silk stockings, or wax his old ones a week or two
longer, the poor man's relish of a Trump, the Four Honors, is gone--and
I do not know whether if we could get at the bottom of things whether
poor star-doomed Phillips with his hair staring with despair was not a