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_September_, 1827.

Dear P., - Excuse my anxiety, but how is Dash? I should have asked if
Mrs. Patmore kept her rules and was improving; but Dash came uppermost.
The order of our thoughts should be the order of our writing. Goes he
muzzled, or _aperto ore_? Are his intellects sound, or does he wander a
little in _his_ conversation. You cannot be too careful to watch the
first symptoms of incoherence. The first illogical snarl he makes, to
St. Luke's with him! All the dogs here are going mad, if you believe the
overseers; but I protest they seem to me very rational and collected.
But nothing is so deceitful as mad people, to those who are not used to
them. Try him with hot water; if he won't lick it up, it's a sign he
does not like it. Does his tail wag horizontally or perpendicularly?
That has decided the fate of many dogs in Enfield. Is his general
deportment cheerful? I mean when he is pleased, for otherwise there is
no judging. You can't be too careful. Has he bit any of the children
yet? If he has, have them shot, and keep _him_ for curiosity, to see if
it was the hydrophobia. They say all our army in India had it at one
time; but that was in _Hyder_-Ally's time. Do you get paunch for him?
Take care the sheep was sane. You might pull his teeth out (if he would
let you), and then you need not mind if he were as mad as a Bedlamite.

It would be rather fun to see his odd ways. It might amuse Mrs. P. and
the children. They'd have more sense than he. He'd be like a fool kept
in a family, to keep the household in good humor with their own
understanding. You might teach him the mad dance, set to the mad howl.
_Madge Owlet_ would be nothing to him. "My, how he capers!" (_In the
margin is written "One of the children speaks this_.") ... What I
scratch out is a German quotation, from Lessing, on the bite of rabid
animals; but I remember you don't read German. But Mrs. P. may, so I
wish I had let it stand. The meaning in English is: "Avoid to approach
an animal suspected of madness, as you would avoid fire or a
precipice," - which I think is a sensible observation. The Germans are
certainly profounder than we. If the slightest suspicion arises in your
breast that all is not right with him, muzzle him and lead him in a
string (common packthread will do; he don't care for twist) to Mr.
Hood's, his quondam master, and he'll take him in at any time. You may
mention your suspicion, or not, as you like, or as you think it may
wound, or not, Mr. H.'s feelings. Hood, I know, will wink at a few
follies in Dash, in consideration of his former sense. Besides, Hood is
deaf, and if you hinted anything, ten to one he would not hear you.
Besides, you will have discharged your conscience, and laid the child at
the right door, as they say.

We are dawdling our time away very idly and pleasantly at a Mrs.
Leishman's, Chase, Enfield, where, if you come a-hunting, we can give
you cold meat and a tankard. Her husband is a tailor; but that, you
know, does not make her one. I know a jailor (which rhymes), but his
wife was a fine lady.

Let us hear from you respecting Mrs. P.'s regimen. I send my love in
a - to Dash.

C. LAMB.


XCVIII.


TO BERNARD BARTON.

_October_ 11, 1828.

A splendid edition of Bunyan's Pilgrim! [1] Why, the thought is enough to
turn one's moral stomach. His cockle-hat and staff transformed to a
smart cocked beaver and a jemmy cane; his amice gray to the last Regent
Street cut; and his painful palmer's pace to the modern swagger! Stop
thy friend's sacrilegious hand. Nothing can be done for B. but to
reprint the old cuts in as homely but good a style as possible, - the
Vanity Fair and the Pilgrims there; the silly-soothness in his
setting-out countenance; the Christian idiocy (in a good sense) of his
admiration of the shepherds on the Delectable mountains; the lions so
truly allegorical, and remote from any similitude to Pidcock's; the
great head (the author's), capacious of dreams and similitudes, dreaming
in the dungeon. Perhaps you don't know my edition, what I had when
a child.

If you do, can you bear new designs from Martin, enamelled into copper
or silver plate by Heath, accompanied with verses from Mrs. Hemans's
pen? Oh, how unlike his own!

"Wouldst thou divert thyself from melancholy?
Wouldst thou be pleasant, yet be far from folly?
Wouldst thou read riddles and their explanation?
Or else be drowned in thy contemplation?
Dost thou love picking meat? or wouldst thou see
A man i' the clouds, and hear him speak to thee?
Wouldst thou be in a dream, and yet not sleep?
Or wouldst thou in a moment laugh and weep?
Or wouldst thou lose thyself, and catch no harm,
And find thyself again without a charm?
Wouldst read _thyself_, and read thou knowest not what,
And yet know whether thou art blest or not
By reading the same lines? Oh, then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together."

Show me any such poetry in any one of the fifteen forthcoming
combinations of show and emptiness 'yclept "Annuals." So there's verses
for thy verses; and now let me tell you that the sight of your hand
gladdened me. I have been daily trying to write to you, but [have been]
paralyzed. You have spurred me on this tiny effort, and at intervals I
hope to hear from and talk to you. But my spirits have been in an
oppressed way for a long time, and they are things which must be to you
of faith, for who can explain depression? Yes, I am hooked into the
"Gem," but only for some lines written on a dead infant of the
editor's [2] which being, as it were, his property, I could not refuse
their appearing; but I hate the paper, the type, the gloss, the dandy
plates, the names of contributors poked up into your eyes in first page,
and whisked through all the covers of magazines, the barefaced sort of
emulation, the immodest candidateship. Brought into so little space, - in
those old "Londons," a signature was lost in the wood of matter, the
paper coarse (till latterly, which spoiled them), - in short, I detest to
appear in an Annual. What a fertile genius (and a quiet good soul
withal) is Hood! He has fifty things in hand, - farces to supply the
Adelphi for the season; a comedy for one of the great theatres, just
ready; a whole entertainment by himself for Mathews and Yates to figure
in; a meditated Comic Annual for next year, to be nearly done by
himself. You'd like him very much.

Wordsworth, I see, has a good many pieces announced in one of 'em, not
our "Gem." W. Scott has distributed himself like a bribe haunch among
'em. Of all the poets, Cary [3] has had the good sense to keep quite
clear of 'em, with clergy-gentlemanly right notions. Don't think I set
up for being proud on this point; I like a bit of flattery, tickling my
vanity, as well as any one. But these pompous masquerades without masks
(naked names or faces) I hate. So there's a bit of my mind. Besides,
they infallibly cheat you, - I mean the booksellers. If I get but a copy,
I only expect it from Hood's being my friend. Coleridge has lately been
here. He too is deep among the prophets, the year-servers, - the mob of
gentleman annuals. But they'll cheat him, I know. And now, dear B. B.,
the sun shining out merrily, and the dirty clouds we had yesterday
having washed their own faces clean with their own rain, tempts me to
wander up Winchmore Hill, or into some of the delightful vicinages of
Enfield, which I hope to show you at some time when you can get a few
days up to the great town. Believe me, it would give both of us great
pleasure to show you our pleasant farms and villages.

We both join in kindest loves to you and yours.

C. LAMB _redivivus_.

[1] An _édition de luxe_, illustrated by John Martin, and with an
Introduction by Southey. See Macaulay's review of it.

[2] Hood's.

[3] The translator of Dante.


XCIX.


TO PROCTER.

_January_ 22, 1829.

Don't trouble yourself about the verses. Take 'em coolly as they come.
Any day between this and midsummer will do. Ten lines the extreme. There
is no mystery in my incognita. She has often seen you, though you may
not have observed a silent brown girl, who for the last twelve years has
rambled about our house in her Christmas holidays. She is Italian by
name and extraction. [1] Ten lines about the blue sky of her country will
do, as it's her foible to be proud of it. Item, I have made her a
tolerable Latinist. She is called Emma Isola. I shall, I think, be in
town in a few weeks, when I will assuredly see you. I will put in here
loves to Mrs. Procter and the Anti-Capulets [Montagus], because Mary
tells me I omitted them in my last. I like to see my friends here. I
have put my lawsuit into the hands of an Enfield practitioner, - a plain
man, who seems perfectly to understand it, and gives me hopes of a
favorable result.

Rumor tells us that Miss Holcroft is married. Who is Baddams? Have I
seen him at Montacute's? I hear he is a great chemist. I am sometimes
chemical myself. A thought strikes me with horror. Pray Heaven he may
not have done it for the sake of trying chemical experiments upon
her, - young female subjects are so scarce! An't you glad about Burke's
case? We may set off the Scotch murders against the Scotch novels, - Hare
the Great Unhanged. [2]

Martin Burney is richly worth your knowing. He is on the top scale of my
friendship ladder, on which an angel or two is still climbing, and some,
alas! descending. I am out of the literary world at present. Pray, is
there anything new from the admired pen of the author of "The Pleasures
of Hope"? Has Mrs. He-mans (double masculine) done anything pretty
lately? Why sleeps the lyre of Hervey and of Alaric Watts? Is the muse
of L. E. L. silent? Did you see a sonnet of mine in Blackwood's last? [3]
Curious construction! _Elaborata facilitas!_ And now I 'll tell. 'Twas
written for "The Gem;" but the - editors declined it, on the plea that it
would _shock all mothers_; so they published "The Widow" instead. I am
born out of time, I have no conjecture about what the present world
calls delicacy. I thought "Rosamund Gray" was a pretty modest thing.
Hessey assures me that the world would not bear it. I have lived to grow
into an indecent character. When my sonnet was rejected, I exclaimed,
"Damn the age; I will write for Antiquity!"

_Erratum_ in sonnet. Last line but something, for "tender" read "tend,"
The Scotch do not know our law terms, but I find some remains of honest,
plain old writing lurking there still. They were not so mealy mouthed as
to refuse my verses. Maybe, 't is their oatmeal,

Blackwood sent me £20 for the drama. Somebody cheated me out of it next
day; and my new pair of breeches, just sent home, cracking at first
putting on, I exclaimed, in my wrath, "All tailors are cheats, and all
men are tailors." Then I was better.

C. L.

[1] Emma Isola, Lamb's ward, daughter of one of the Esquire Bedells of
Cambridge University, and granddaughter of an Italian refugee. The Lambs
had met her during one of their Cambridge visits, and finally adopted
her.

[2] Burke and Hare, the Edinburgh resurrection-men.

[3] The Gypsy's Malison.


C.


TO BERNARD BARTON.
ENFIELD CHASE SIDE,

_Saturday, 25th of July_, A.D. 1829, 11 A.M.

There! a fuller, plumper, juicier date never dropped from Idumean palm.
Am I in the _date_ive case now? If not, a fig for dates, - which is more
than a date is worth. I never stood much affected to these limitary
specialities, - least of all, since the date of my superannuation.

"What have I with time to do?
Slaves of desks, 't was meant for you."

Dear B. B., - Your handwriting has conveyed much pleasure to me in
respect of Lucy's restoration. Would I could send you as good news of
_my_ poor Lucy! [1] But some wearisome weeks I must remain lonely yet. I
have had the loneliest time, near ten weeks, broken by a short
apparition of Emma for her holidays, whose departure only deepened the
returning solitude, and by ten days I have passed in town. But town,
with all my native hankering after it, is not what it was. The streets,
the shops, are left, but all old friends are gone. And in London I was
frightfully convinced of this as I passed houses and places, empty
caskets now. I have ceased to care almost about anybody. The bodies I
cared for are in graves, or dispersed. My old clubs, that lived so long
and flourished so steadily, are crumbled away. When I took leave of our
adopted young friend at Charing Cross,'t was heavy unfeeling rain, and I
had nowhere to go. Home have I none, and not a sympathizing house to
turn to in the great city. Never did the waters of heaven pour down on a
forlorner head. Yet I tried ten days at a sort of a friend's house; but
it was large and straggling, - one of the individuals of my old long knot
of friends, card-players, pleasant companions, that have tumbled to
pieces, into dust and other things; and I got home on Thursday,
convinced that I was better to get home to my hole at Enfield, and hide
like a sick cat in my corner. Less than a month, I hope, will bring home
Mary. She is at Fulham, looking better in her health than ever, but
sadly rambling, and scarce showing any pleasure in seeing me, or
curiosity when I should come again. But the old feelings will come back
again, and we shall drown old sorrows over a game of piquet again. But
it is a tedious cut out of a life of fifty-four, to lose twelve or
thirteen weeks every year or two. And to make me more alone, our
ill-tempered maid is gone, who, with all her airs, was yet a home-piece
of furniture, a record of better days; the young thing that has
succeeded her is good and attentive, but she is nothing. And I have no
one here to talk over old matters with. Scolding and quarrelling have
something of familiarity and a community of interest; they imply
acquaintance; they are of resentment, which is of the family
of dearness.

* * * * *

I bragged formerly that I could not have too much time; I have now a
surfeit. With few years to come, the days are wearisome. But weariness
is not eternal. Something will shine out to take the load off that flags
me, which is at present intolerable. I have killed an hour or two in
this poor scrawl. I am a sanguinary murderer of time, and would kill him
inch-meal just now. But the snake is vital. Well, I shall write merrier
anon. 'T is the present copy of my countenance I send, and to complain
is a little to alleviate. May you enjoy yourself as far as the wicked
world will let you, and think that you are not quite alone, as I am!
Health to Lucia and to Anna, and kind remembrances.

Your forlorn C. L.

[1] Mary Lamb.


CI.


TO MR. GILLMAN.

_November_ 30, 1829.

Dear G., - The excursionists reached home and the good town of Enfield a
little after four, without slip or dislocation. Little has transpired
concerning the events of the back-journey, save that on passing the
house of 'Squire Mellish, situate a stone bow's cast from the hamlet,
Father Westwood [1], with a good-natured wonderment, exclaimed, "I cannot
think what is gone of Mr. Mellish's rooks. I fancy they have taken
flight somewhere; but I have missed them two or three years past." All
this while, according to his fellow-traveller's report, the rookery was
darkening the air above with undiminished population, and deafening all
ears but his with their cawings. But nature has been gently withdrawing
such phenomena from the notice of Thomas Westwood's senses, from the
time he began to miss the rooks. T. Westwood has passed a retired life
in this hamlet of thirty or forty years, living upon the minimum which
is consistent with gentility, yet a star among the minor gentry,
receiving the bows of the tradespeople and courtesies of the alms-women
daily. Children venerate him not less for his external show of gentry
than they wonder at him for a gentle rising endorsation of the person,
not amounting to a hump, or if a hump, innocuous as the hump of the
buffalo, and coronative of as mild qualities. 'T is a throne on which
patience seems to sit, - the proud perch of a self-respecting humility,
stooping with condescension. Thereupon the cares of life have sat, and
rid him easily. For he has thrid the _angustiæ domus_ with dexterity.
Life opened upon him with comparative brilliancy. He set out as a rider
or traveller for a wholesale house, in which capacity he tells of many
hair-breadth escapes that befell him, - one especially, how he rode a mad
horse into the town of Devizes; how horse and rider arrived in a foam,
to the utter consternation of the expostulating hostlers, inn-keepers,
etc. It seems it was sultry weather, piping-hot; the steed tormented
into frenzy with gad-flies, long past being roadworthy: but safety and
the interest of the house he rode for were incompatible things; a fall
in serge cloth was expected; and a mad entrance they made of it. Whether
the exploit was purely voluntary, or partially; or whether a certain
personal defiguration in the man part of this extraordinary centaur
(non-assistive to partition of natures) might not enforce the
conjunction, I stand not to inquire. I look not with 'skew eyes into the
deeds of heroes. The hosier that was burned with his shop in Field Lane,
on Tuesday night, shall have passed to heaven for me like a Marian
Martyr, provided always that he consecrated the fortuitous incremation
with a short ejaculation in the exit, as much as if he had taken his
state degrees of martyrdom _in formâ_ in the market vicinage. There is
adoptive as well as acquisitive sacrifice. Be the animus what it might,
the fact is indisputable, that this composition was seen flying all
abroad, and mine host of Daintry may yet remember its passing through
his town, if his scores are not more faithful than his memory.

* * * * *

To come from his heroic character, all the amiable qualities of domestic
life concentre in this tamed Bellerophon. He is excellent over a glass
of grog; just as pleasant without it; laughs when he hears a joke, and
when (which is much oftener) he hears it not; sings glorious old
sea-songs on festival nights; and but upon a slight acquaintance of two
years, Coleridge, is as dear a deaf old man to us as old Norris, rest
his soul! was after fifty. To him and his scanty literature (what there
is of it, _sound_) have we flown from the metropolis and its cursed
annualists, reviewers, authors, and the whole muddy ink press of that
stagnant pool.

[1] Lamb's landlord. He had driven Mary Lamb over to see Coleridge at
Highgate. The Lambs had been compelled, by the frequent illnesses of
Mary Lamb, to give up their housekeeping at Enfield and to take lodgings
with the Westwoods.


CII.


TO WORDSWORTH.

_January_ 22, 1830.

And is it a year since we parted from you at the steps of Edmonton
stage? There are not now the years that there used to be. The tale of
the dwindled age of men, reported of successional mankind, is true of
the same man only. We do not live a year in a year now. 'T is a _punctum
stans_. The seasons pass us with indifference. Spring cheers not, nor
winter heightens our gloom: autumn hath foregone its moralities, - they
are "heypass repass," as in a show-box. Yet, as far as last year, occurs
back - for they scarce show a reflex now, they make no memory as
heretofore - 't was sufficiently gloomy. Let the sullen nothing pass.
Suffice it that after sad spirits, prolonged through many of its months,
as it called them, we have cast our skins, have taken a farewell of the
pompous, troublesome trifle called housekeeping, and are settled down
into poor boarders and lodgers at next door with an old couple, the
Baucis and Baucida of dull Enfield. Here we have nothing to do with our
victuals but to eat them, with the garden but to see it grow, with the
tax-gatherer but to hear him knock, with the maid but to hear her
scolded. Scot and lot, butcher, baker, are things unknown to us, save as
spectators of the pageant. We are fed we know not how, - quietists,
confiding ravens. We have the _otium pro dignitate_, a respectable
insignificance. Yet in the self condemned obliviousness, in the
stagnation, some molesting yearnings of life not quite killed rise,
prompting me that there was a London, and that I was of that old
Jerusalem. In dreams I am in Fleet Market; but I wake and cry to sleep
again. I die hard, a stubborn Eloisa in this detestable Paraclete. What
have I gained by health? Intolerable dulness. What by early hours and
moderate meals? A total blank. Oh, never let the lying poets be believed
who 'tice men from the cheerful haunts of streets, or think they mean it
not of a country village. In the ruins of Palmyra I could gird myself up
to solitude, or muse to the snorings of the Seven Sleepers; but to have
a little teasing image of a town about one, country folks that do not
look like country folks, shops two yards square, half-a-dozen apples and
two penn'orth of over-looked gingerbread for the lofty fruiterers of
Oxford Street, and for the immortal book and print stalls a circulating
library that stands still, where the show-picture is a last year's
Valentine, and whither the fame of the last ten Scotch novels has not
yet travelled (marry, they just begin to be conscious of the
"Redgauntlet"), to have a new plastered flat church, and to be wishing
that it was but a cathedral! The very blackguards here are degenerate,
the topping gentry stockbrokers; the passengers too many to insure your
quiet, or let you go about whistling or gaping, - too few to be the fine
indifferent pageants of Fleet Street. Confining, room-keeping, thickest
winter is yet more bearable here than the gaudy months. Among one's
books at one's fire by candle, one is soothed into an oblivion that one
is not in the country; but with the light the green fields return, till
I gaze, and in a calenture can plunge myself into St. Giles's. Oh, let
no native Londoner imagine that health and rest and innocent occupation,
interchange of converse sweet and recreative study, can make the country
anything better than altogether odious and detestable. A garden was the
primitive prison, till man with Promethean felicity and boldness luckily
sinned himself out of it. Thence followed Babylon, Nineveh, Venice,
London; haberdashers, goldsmiths, taverns, playhouses, satires,
epigrams, puns, - these all came in on the town part and the thither side
of innocence. Man found out inventions. From my den I return you
condolence for your decaying sight, - not for anything there is to see in
the country, but for the miss of the pleasure of reading a London
newspaper. The poets are as well to listen to; anything high may - nay,
must be read out; you read it to yourself with an imaginary auditor: but
the light paragraphs must be glid over by the proper eye; mouthing
mumbles their gossamery substance. 'Tis these trifles I should mourn in
fading sight. A newspaper is the single gleam of comfort I receive here;
it comes from rich Cathay with tidings of mankind. Yet I could not
attend to it, read out by the most beloved voice. But your eyes do not
get worse, I gather. Oh, for the collyrium of Tobias enclosed in a
whiting's liver, to send you, with no apocryphal good wishes! The last
long time I heard from you, you had knocked your head against something.
Do not do so; for your head (I do not flatter) is not a knob, or the top
of a brass nail, or the end of a ninepin, - unless a Vulcanian hammer
could fairly batter a "Recluse" out of it; then would I bid the smirched
god knock, and knock lustily, the two-handed skinker! Mary must squeeze
out a line _propriá manu_; but indeed her fingers have been incorrigibly
nervous to letter-writing for a long interval. 'T will please you all to
hear that, though I fret like a lion in a net, her present health and
spirits are better than they have been for some time past; she is
absolutely three years and a half younger, as I tell her, since we have
adopted this boarding plan.

Our providers are an honest pair, Dame Westwood and her husband, - he,
when the light of prosperity shined on them, a moderately thriving
haberdasher within Bow bells, retired since with something under a
competence; writes himself parcel-gentleman; hath borne parish offices;
sings fine old sea-songs at threescore and ten; sighs only now and then
when he thinks that he has a son on his hands about fifteen, whom he
finds a difficulty in getting out into the world, and then checks a sigh
with muttering, as I once heard him prettily, not meaning to be heard,
"I have married my daughter, however;" takes the weather as it comes;


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