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

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

We got your little book but last night, being at Enfield, to which place
we came about a month since, and are having quiet holidays. Mary walks
her twelve miles a day some days, and I my twenty on others. 'T is all
holiday with me now, you know; the change works admirably.

For literary news, in my poor way, I have a one-act farce [1] going to be
acted at Haymarket; but when? is the question, 'Tis an extravaganza, and
like enough to follow "Mr. H." "The London Magazine" has shifted its
publishers once more, and I shall shift myself out of it. It is fallen.
My ambition is not at present higher than to write nonsense for the
playhouses, to eke out a something contracted income. _Tempus erat_.
There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, when the muse, etc. But I am now
in Mac Flecknoe's predicament, -

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

Your old friend,

C. LAMB.

[1] Probably "The Pawnbroker's Daughter," which happily was not destined
to be performed. - AINGER.


XCI.


TO BERNARD BARTON.

_March_ 20, 1826.

Dear B. B., - You may know my letters by the paper and the folding. For
the former, I live on scraps obtained in charity from an old friend,
whose stationery is a permanent perquisite; for folding, I shall do it
neatly when I learn to tie my neckcloths. I surprise most of my friends
by writing to them on ruled paper, as if I had not got past pothooks and
hangers. Sealing-wax I have none on my establishment; wafers of the
coarsest bran supply its place. When my epistles come to be weighed with
Pliny's, however superior to the Roman in delicate irony, judicious
reflections, etc., his gilt post will bribe over the judges to him. All
the time I was at the E. I. H. I never mended a pen; I now cut 'em to
the stumps, marring rather than mending the primitive goose-quill. I
cannot bear to pay for articles I used to get for nothing. When Adam
laid out his first penny upon nonpareils at some stall in Mesopotamos, I
think it went hard with him, reflecting upon his old goodly orchard,
where he had so many for nothing. When I write to a great man at the
court end, he opens with surprise upon a naked note, such as Whitechapel
people interchange, with no sweet degrees of envelope. I never enclosed
one bit of paper in another, nor understood the rationale of it. Once
only I sealed with borrowed wax, to set Walter Scott a-wondering, signed
with the imperial quartered arms of England, which my friend Field bears
in compliment to his descent, in the female line, from Oliver Cromwell.
It must have set his antiquarian curiosity upon watering. To your
questions upon the currency, I refer you to Mr. Robinson's last speech,
where, if you can find a solution, I cannot. I think this, though, - the
best ministry we ever stumbled upon, - gin reduced four shillings in the
gallon, wine two shillings in the quart! This comes home to men's minds
and bosoms. My tirade against visitors was not meant _particularly_ at
you or Anne Knight. I scarce know what I meant, for I do not just now
feel the grievance. I wanted to make an _article_. So in another thing I
talked of somebody's _insipid wife_ without a correspondent object in my
head; and a good lady, a friend's wife, whom I really _love_ (don't
startle, I mean in a licit way), has looked shyly on me ever since. The
blunders of personal application are ludicrous. I send out a character
every now and then on purpose to exercise the ingenuity of my friends.
"Popular Fallacies" will go on; that word "concluded" is an erratum, I
suppose, for "continued." I do not know how it got stuffed in there. A
little thing without name will also be printed on the Religion of the
Actors; but it is out of your way, so I recommend you, with true
author's hypocrisy, to skip it. We are about to sit down to roast beef,
at which we could wish A. K., B. B., and B. B.'s pleasant daughter to be
humble partakers. So much for my hint at visitors, which was scarcely
calculated for droppers-in from Woodbridge; the sky does not drop such
larks every day. My very kindest wishes to you all three, with my
sister's best love.

C. LAMB.


XCII.


TO J. B. DIBDIN.

_June_, 1826.

Dear D., - My first impulse upon seeing your letter was pleasure at
seeing your old neat hand, nine parts gentlemanly, with a modest dash of
the clerical; my second, a thought natural enough this hot weather: Am I
to answer all this? Why, 't is as long as those to the Ephesians and
Galatians put together: I have counted the words, for curiosity.... I
never knew an enemy to puns who was not an ill-natured man. Your fair
critic in the coach reminds me of a Scotchman, who assured me he did not
see much in Shakspeare. I replied, I daresay _not_. He felt the
equivoke, looked awkward and reddish, but soon returned to the attack by
saying that he thought Burns was as good as Shakspeare. I said that I
had no doubt he was, - to a _Scotchman_. We exchanged no more words that
day.... Let me hear that you have clambered up to Lover's Seat; it is as
fine in that neighborhood as Juan Fernandez, - as lonely, too, when the
fishing-boats are not out; I have sat for hours staring upon a shipless
sea. The salt sea is never as grand as when it is left to itself. One
cock-boat spoils it; a seamew or two improves it. And go to the little
church, which is a very Protestant Loretto, and seems dropped by some
angel for the use of a hermit who was at once parishioner and a whole
parish. It is not too big. Go in the night, bring it away in your
portmanteau, and I will plant it in my garden. It must have been
erected, in the very infancy of British Christianity, for the two or
three first converts, yet with all the appurtenances of a church of the
first magnitude, - its pulpit, its pews, its baptismal font; a cathedral
in a nutshell. The minister that divides the Word there must give
lumping pennyworths. It is built to the text of "two or three assembled
in my name." It reminds me of the grain of mustard-seed. If the glebe
land is proportionate, it may yield two potatoes. Tithes out of it could
be no more split than a hair. Its First fruits must be its Last, for 't
would never produce a couple. It is truly the strait and narrow way, and
few there be (of London visitants) that find it. The still small voice
is surely to be found there, if anywhere. A sounding-board is merely
there for ceremony. It is secure from earthquakes, not more from
sanctity than size, for't would feel a mountain thrown upon it no more
than a taper-worm would. _Go and see, but not without your spectacles_.


XCIII.


TO HENRY CRABB ROBINSON.

_January_ 20, 1827.

Dear Robinson, - I called upon you this morning, and found that you had
gone to visit a dying friend. I had been upon a like errand. Poor
Norris [1] has been lying dying for now almost a week, - such is the
penalty we pay for having enjoyed a strong constitution! Whether he knew
me or not, I know not, or whether he saw me through his poor glazed
eyes; but the group I saw about him I shall not forget. Upon the bed, or
about it, were assembled his wife and two daughters, and poor deaf
Richard, his son, looking doubly stupefied. There they were, and seemed
to have been sitting all the week. I could only reach out a hand to Mrs.
Norris. Speaking was impossible in that mute chamber. By this time I
hope it is all over with him. In him I have a loss the world cannot make
up. He was my friend and my father's friend all the life I can remember.
I seem to have made foolish friendships ever since. Those are
friendships which outlive a second generation. Old as I am waxing, in
his eyes I was still the child he first knew me. To the last he called
me Charley. I have none to call me Charley now. He was the last link
that bound me to the Temple. You are but of yesterday. In him seem to
have died the old plainness of manners and singleness of heart. Letters
he knew nothing of, nor did his reading extend beyond the pages of the
"Gentleman's Magazine." Yet there was a pride of literature about him
from being amongst books (he was librarian), and from some scraps of
doubtful Latin which he had picked up in his office of entering
students, that gave him very diverting airs of pedantry. Can I forget
the erudite look with which, when he had been in vain trying to make out
a black-letter text of Chaucer in the Temple Library, he laid it down
and told me that "in those old books Charley, there is sometimes a deal
of very indifferent spelling;" and seemed to console himself in the
reflection! His jokes - for he had his jokes - are now ended; but they
were old trusty perennials, staples that pleased after _decies
repetita_, and were always as good as new. One song he had, which was
reserved for the night of Christmas Day, which we always spent in the
Temple. It was an old thing, and spoke of the flat-bottoms of our foes
and the possibility of their coming over in darkness, and alluded to
threats of an invasion many years blown over; and when he came to
the part -

"We'll still make 'em run, and we'll still make 'em sweat,
In spite of the devil and 'Brussels Gazette,'" -

his eyes would sparkle as with the freshness of an impending event. And
what is the "Brussels Gazette" now? I cry while I enumerate these
trifles. "How shall we tell them in a stranger's ear?" His poor good
girls will now have to receive their afflicted mother in an inaccessible
hovel in an obscure village in Herts, where they have been long
struggling to make a school without effect; and poor deaf Richard - and
the more helpless for being so - is thrown on the wide world.

My first motive in writing, and, indeed, in calling on you, was to ask
if you were enough acquainted with any of the Benchers to lay a plain
statement before them of the circumstances of the family. I almost
fear not, for you are of another hall. But if you can oblige me and my
poor friend, who is now insensible to any favors, pray exert yourself.
You cannot say too much good of poor Norris and his poor wife.

Yours ever,

CHARLES LAMB.

[1] Randal Norris, sub-treasurer of the Inner Temple, an early friend of
the Lambs.


XCIV.


TO PETER GEORGE PATMORE.

LONDRES, _Julie_ 19_th_, 1827.

Dear P., - I am so poorly. I have been to a funeral, where I made a pun,
to the consternation of the rest of the mourners. And we had wine. I
can't describe to you the howl which the widow set up at proper
intervals. Dash [1] could; for it was not unlike what he makes.

The letter I sent you was one directed to the care of Edward White,
India House, for Mrs. Hazlitt. _Which_ Mrs. H. I don't yet know; but
Allsop has taken it to France on speculation. Really it is embarrassing.
There is Mrs. present H., Mrs. late H., and Mrs. John H.; and to which
of the three Mrs. Wigginses it appertains, I know not. I wanted to open
it, but 'tis transportation.

I am sorry you are plagued about your book. I would strongly recommend
you to take for one story Massinger's "Old Law." It is exquisite. I can
think of no other.

Dash is frightful this morning. He whines and stands up on his hind
legs. He misses Becky, who is gone to town. I took him to Barnet the
other day, and he couldn't eat his vittles after it. Pray God his
intellectuals be not slipping.

Mary is gone out for some soles. I suppose 'tis no use to ask you to
come and partake of 'em; else there is a steam vessel.

I am doing a tragi-comedy in two acts, and have got on tolerably; but it
will be refused, or worse, I never had luck with anything my name
was put to.

Oh, I am so poorly! I _waked_ it at my cousin's the bookbinder, who is
now with God; or if he is not,'tis no fault of mine.

We hope the Frank wines do not disagree with Mrs. Patmore. By the way, I
like her.

Did you ever taste frogs? Get them if you can. They are like little
Lilliput rabbits, only a thought nicer.

How sick I am! - not of the world, but of the Widow Shrub. She's sworn
under £6,000; but I think she perjured herself. She howls in E _la_, and
I comfort her in B flat. You understand music?

If you haven't got Massinger, you have nothing to do but go to the first
Bibliothèque you can light upon at Boulogne, and ask for it (Gifford's
edition); and if they haven't got it, you can have "Athalie," par
Monsieur Racine, and make the best of it. But that "Old Law" is
delicious.

"No shrimps!" (that's in answer to Mary's question about how the soles
are to be done.)

I am uncertain where this wandering letter may reach you. What you mean
by Poste Restante, God knows. Do you mean I must pay the postage? So I
do, - to Dover.

We had a merry passage with the widow at the Commons. She was
howling, - part howling, and part giving directions to the proctor, - when
crash! down went my sister through a crazy chair, and made the clerks
grin, and I grinned, and the widow tittered, and then I knew that she
was not inconsolable. Mary was more frightened than hurt.

She'd make a good match for anybody (by she, I mean the widow).

"If he bring but a _relict_ away,
He is happy, nor heard to complain."

SHENSTONE.

Procter has got a wen growing out at the nape of his neck, which his
wife wants him to have cut off; but I think it rather an agreeable
excrescence, - like his poetry, redundant. Hone has hanged himself for
debt. Godwin was taken up for picking pockets. Moxon has fallen in love
with Emma, our nut-brown maid. Becky takes to bad courses. Her father
was blown up in a steam machine. The coroner found it "insanity." I
should not like him to sit on my letter.

Do you observe my direction? Is it Gallic, classical? Do try and get
some frogs. You must ask for "grenouilles" (green eels). They don't
understand "frogs," though 't is a common phrase with us.

If you go through Bulloign (Boulogne), inquire if Old Godfrey is living,
and how he got home from the Crusades. He must be a very old man.

[1] A dog given to Lamb by Thomas Hood. See letter to Patmore dated
September, 1827.


XCV.


TO BERNARD BARTON.

_August_ 10, 1827.

Dear B. B., - I have not been able to answer you, for we have had and are
having (I just snatch a moment) our poor quiet retreat, to which we fled
from society, full of company, - some staying with us; and this moment as
I write, almost, a heavy importation of two old ladies has come in.
Whither can I take wing from the oppression of human faces? Would I were
in a wilderness of apes, tossing cocoa-nuts about, grinning and
grinned at!

Mitford was hoaxing you surely about my engraving; 't is a little
sixpenny thing, [1] too like by half, in which the draughtsman has done
his best to avoid flattery. There have been two editions of it, which I
think are all gone, as they have vanished from the window where they
hung, - a print-shop, corner of Great and Little Queen Streets, Lincoln's
Inn Fields, - where any London friend of yours may inquire for it; for I
am (though you _won't understand it_) at Enfield Chase. We have been
here near three months, and shall stay two more, if people will let us
alone; but they persecute us from village to village. So don't direct to
_Islington_ again till further notice. I am trying my hand at a drama,
in two acts, founded on Crabbe's "Confidant," _mutatis mutandis_. You
like the Odyssey: did you ever read my "Adventures of Ulysses," founded
on Chapman's old translation of it? For children or men. Chapman is
divine, and my abridgment has not quite emptied him of his divinity.
When you come to town I'll show it you. You have well described your
old-fashioned grand paternal hall. Is it not odd that every one's
earliest recollections are of some such place? I had my Blakesware
[Blakesmoor in the "London"]. Nothing fills a child's mind like a large
old mansion; better if un - or partially - occupied, - peopled with the
spirits of deceased members of the county and justices of the quorum.
Would I were buried in the peopled solitudes of one, with my feelings at
seven years old! Those marble busts of the emperors, they seemed as if
they were to stand forever, as they had stood from the living days of
Rome, in that old marble hall, and I too partake of their permanency.
Eternity was, while I thought not of Time. But he thought of me, and
they are toppled down, and corn covers the spot of the noble old
dwelling and its princely gardens, I feel like a grasshopper that,
chirping about the grounds, escaped the scythe only by my littleness.
Even now he is whetting one of his smallest razors to clean wipe me
out, perhaps. Well!

[Footnote 1:] An etching of Lamb, by Brooke Pulham, which is said to be
the most characteristic likeness of him extant.


XCVI.


TO THOMAS HOOD,

_September_ 18, 1827.

Dear Hood, - If I have anything in my head, I will send it to Mr. Watts.
Strictly speaking, he should have all my album-verses; but a very
intimate friend importuned me for the trifles, and I believe I forgot
Mr. Watts, or lost sight at the time of his similar "Souvenir." Jamieson
conveyed the farce from me to Mrs. C. Kemble; he will not be in town
before the 27th.

Give our kind loves to all at Highgate, and tell them that we have
finally torn ourselves outright away from Colebrooke, where I had _no_
health, and are about to domiciliate for good at Enfield, where I have
experienced _good_.

"Lord, what good hours do we keep!
How quietly we sleep!" [1]

See the rest in the "Compleat Angler."

We have got our books into our new house. I am a dray-horse if I was not
ashamed of the indigested, dirty lumber, as I toppled 'em out of the
cart, and blessed Becky that came with 'em for her having an unstuffed
brain with such rubbish. We shall get in by Michael's Mass. 'T was with
some pain we were evulsed from Colebrooke.

You may find some of our flesh sticking to the doorposts. To change
habitations is to die to them; and in my time I have died seven deaths.
But I don't know whether every such change does not bring with it a
rejuvenescence. 'T is an enterprise, and shoves back the sense of
death's approximating, which, though not terrible to me, is at all times
particularly distasteful. My house-deaths have generally been
periodical, recurring after seven years; but this last is premature by
half that time. Cut off in the flower of Colebrooke! The Middletonian
stream and all its echoes mourn. Even minnows dwindle. _A parvis
fiunt minimi!_

I fear to invite Mrs. Hood to our new mansion, lest she should envy it,
and hate us. But when we are fairly in, I hope she will come and try it. I
heard she and you were made uncomfortable by some unworthy-to-be-cared-for
attacks, and have tried to set up a feeble counteraction through the
"Table Book" of last Saturday. Has it not reached you, that you are
silent about it? Our new domicile is no manor-house, but new, and
externally not inviting, but furnished within with every convenience, -
capital new locks to every door, capital grates in every room, with
nothing to pay for incoming, and the rent £10 less than the Islington one.

It was built, a few years since, at £1,100 expense, they tell me, and I
perfectly believe it. And I get it for £35, exclusive of moderate taxes.
We think ourselves most lucky.

It is not our intention to abandon Regent Street and West End
perambulations (monastic and terrible thought!), but occasionally to
breathe the fresher air of the metropolis. We shall put up a bedroom or
two (all we want) for occasional ex-rustication, where we shall
visit, - not be visited. Plays, too, we'll see, - perhaps our own; Urbani
Sylvani and Sylvan Urbanuses in turns; courtiers for a sport, then
philosophers; old, homely tell-truths and learn-truths in the virtuous
shades of Enfield, liars again and mocking gibers in the coffee-houses
and resorts of London. What can a mortal desire more for his
bi-parted nature?

Oh, the curds-and-cream you shall eat with us here!

Oh, the turtle-soup and lobster-salads we shall devour with you there!

Oh, the old books we shall peruse here!

Oh, the new nonsense we shall trifle over there!

Oh, Sir T. Browne, here!

Oh, Mr. Hood and Mr. Jerdan, there!

Thine,

C. (URBANUS) L. (SYLVANUS) - (Elia ambo).

[1] By Charles Cotton.


XCVII.


TO P. G. PATMORE.


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