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V. Novello, Esq., Green, Shacklewell.



To WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.

Letter CCLXI V. ] [Middle of May, 1825.]

Dear W. — I write post-hoste to ensure a frank.
Thanks for your hearty congratulations. I may now date
from the sixth week of my " Hegira, or Flight from
Leadenhall." I have lived so much in it, that a Summer
seems already past ; and 'tis but early May yet with you
and other people. How I look down on the slaves and
drudges of the world ! Its inhabitants are a vast cotton-
web of spin-spiu-spinners ! the carking cares ! the
money-grubbers ! Sempiternal muckworms !



TO WORDSWORTH. 133

Your Virgil I have lost sight of, but suspect it is in
the hands of Sir G. Beaumont ; I think that circumstances
made me shy of procuring it before. Will you write to
him about it 1 — and your commands shall be obeyed to a
tittle.

Coleridge has just finished his prize Essay by which,
if it get the prize, he'll touch an additional £100 I fancy.
His book, too ("Commentary on Bishop Leighton"), is
quite finished, and penes Taylor and Hessey.

In the London Magazine, which is just out (1st of
May), are two papers entitled the " Superannuated
Man," which I wish you to see ; and also, 1st of April,

a little thing called " Barbara S ," a story gleaned

from Miss Kelly. The London Magazine, if you can
get it, will save my enlargement upon the topic of my
manumission.

I must scribble to make up my hiatus crumence, ; for
there are so many ways, pious and profligate, of getting
rid of money in this vast city and suburbs, that I shall
miss my thirds. But couragio ! I despair not. Your
kind hint of the cottage was well thrown out ; an anchor-
age for age and school of economy, when necessity comes ;
but without this latter, I have an unconquerable terror
of changing place. It does not agree with us. I say it
from conviction ; else I do sometimes ruralise in fancy.

Some d — d people are come in, and I must finish
abruptly. By d — d, I only mean deuced. 'Tis these
suitors of Penelope that makes it necessary to authorise
a little for gin and mutton, and such trifles.

Excuse my abortive scribble.

Yours, not in more haste than heart, C. L.

Love and recollects to all the Wins., Doras, Marys
round your Wrekin.

Mary is capitally well. Do write to Sir G. B., for I
am shyish of applying to him.



134 LETTEKS OF CHARLES LAMB.

To BERNARD BARTON.

Letter CCLX V.] July 2, 1825.

My dear B. B. — My nervous attack has so unfitted
me that I have not courage to sit down to a letter. My
poor pittance in the London you will see is drawn from
my sickness. Your book is very acceptable to me, because
most of it is new to me ; but your book itself we
cannot thank you for more sincerely than for the intro-
duction you favoured us with to Anne Knight. Now
cannot I write Mrs. Anne Knight for the life of me.

She is a very pleas , but I won't write all we have

said of her so often to ourselves, because I suspect you
would read it to her. Only give my sister's and my
kindest remembrances to her, and how glad we are we
can say that word. If ever she come to Southwark again,
I count upon another pleasant Bridge walk with her. Tell
her, I got home, time for a rubber ; but poor Tryphena
will not understand that phrase of the worldling.

I am hardly able to appreciate your volume now :
but I liked the dedication much, and the apology for your
bald burying grounds. To Shelley ; but that is not new.
To the young Vesper-singer, Great Bealings, Playford,
and what not.

If there be a cavil, it is that the topics of religious
consolation, however beautiful, are repeated till a sort
of triteness attends them. It seems as if you were for
ever losing friends' children by death, and reminding
their parents of the Resurrection. Do children die so
often, and so good, in your parts 1 The topic taken from
the consideration that they are snatched away from
jwssible vanities, seems hardly sound ; for to an Omniscient
eye their conditional failings must be one with their
actual ; but I am too unwell for theology.

Such as I am,

I am yours and A[nne] K[night's] truly,

C. Lamb.



TO BARTON. 135

Letter CCLXVI.] August 10, 1825.

We shall be soon again at Colebrook.

Dear B. B. — You must excuse my not writing before,
when I tell you we are on a visit at Enfield, where I do
not feel it natural to sit down to a letter. It is at all
times an exertion. I would rather talk with you and
Anne Knight quietly at Colebrook Lodge, over the matter
of your last. You mistake me when you express misgiv-
ings about my relishing a series of scriptural poems. I
wrote confusedly. What I meant to say was, that one
or two consolatory poems on deaths would have had a
more condensed effect than many. Scriptural, devotional
topics admit of infinite variety. So far from poetry tiring
me because religious, I can read, and I say it seriously,
the homely old version of the Psalms in our Prayer Books
for an hour or two together sometimes without sense of
weariness.

I did not express myself clearly about what I think
a false topic insisted on so frequently in consolatory
addresses on the death of infants. I know something
like it is in Scripture, but I think humanly spoken. It
is a natural thought, a sweet fallacy to the survivors,
but still a fallacy. If it stands on the doctrine of this
being a probationary state, it is liable to this dilemma.
Omniscience, to whom possibility must be clear as act,
must know of the child, what it would hereafter turn
out : if good, then the topic is false to say it is secured
from falling into future wilfulness, vice, etc. If bad, I
do not see how its exemption from certain future overt
acts, by being snatched away, at all tells in its favour.
You stop the arm of a murderer, or arrest the finger of
a pickpurse ; but is not the guilt incurred as much by
the intent as if never so much acted ? Why children
are hurried off, and old reprobates of a hundred left,
whose trial humanly we may think was complete at fifty,
is among the obscurities of Providence. The very notion
of a state of probation has darkness in it. The All-



136 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

knower has no need of satisfying His eyes by seeing what
we will do, when He knows before what we will do.
Methinks we might be condemned before commission.
In these things we grope and flounder, and if we can
pick up a little human comfort that the child taken is
snatched from vice (no great compliment to it, by the
by), let us take it. And as to where an untried child
goes, whether to join the assembly of its elders who have
borne the heat of the day — fire-purified martyrs, and
torment-sifted confessors — what know we ! We promise
heaven, methinks, too cheaply and assign large revenues
to minors, incompetent to manage them. Epitaphs run
upon this topic of consolation, till the very frequency in-
duces a cheapness. Tickets for admission into Paradise
are sculptured out at a penny a letter, twopence a
syllable, etc. It is all a mystery ; and the more I try to
express my meaning (having none that is clear), the more
I flounder. Finally, write what your own conscience, which
to you is the unerring judge, seems best, and be careless
about the whimsies of such a half-baked notionist as I
am. We are here in a most pleasant country, full of
walks, and idle to our hearts' desire. Taylor has dropt
the London. It was indeed a dead weight. It has got
in the Slough of Despond. I shuffle off my part of the
pack, and stand like Christian with light and merry
shoulders. It had got silly, indecorous, pert, and every-
thing that is bad. Both our kind remembrances to Mrs.
K. and yourself, and strangers'-greeting to Lucy (is it
Lucy or Ruth X) that gathers wise sayings in a Book.

0. Lamb.



To ROBERT SOUTHEY.

Letter CCLXVII.] August 19, 1825.

Dear Southey — You'll know who this letter comes
from by opening slap-dash upon the text, as in the good



TO SOUTHEY. 137

old times. I never could come into the custom of
envelopes ; 'tis a modern foppery ; the Plinian correspond-
ence 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 humour to touch these matters.
May all our churches flourish ! Two things staggered
me in the poem (and one of them staggered both of us).
I cannot away with a beautiful series of verses, as I pro-
test they are, commencing " Jenuer." 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 reckon-
ing. 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 fire-flies. A
tree is a Magnolia, etc. — Can I but like the truly Catholic
spirit 1 " Blame as thou mayest the Papist's erring



138 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

creed " — which, and other passages, brought me back to
the old Anthology days, and the admonitory lesson to
" Dear George " on the " The Vesper Bell," a little poem
which retains its first hold upon me strangely.

The compliment to the translatress is daintily con-
ceived. 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 perse veringly 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 allegorising
away of honest Quixote ! He may as well say Strap is
meant to symbolise 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 over-
flowed 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 unfor-
tunate Second Part with the confederacies of that
unworthy duke and most contemptible duchess, Cer-
vantes 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 holydays. Mary walks her twelve miles a
day some days, and I my twenty on others. 'Tis all
holyday with me now, you know. The change works
admirably.

For literary news, in my poor way, I have a one-act



TO HONK. 139

farce going to be acted at the Haymarket ; but when 1 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 play-houses, to eke out a some-
what contracted income. Tempus erat. There was a
time, my dear Cornwallis, when the Muse, etc. But I
am now in Mac Fleckno'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 vigour to him. We are on a
half visit to his friend Allsop, at a Mrs. Leishman's,
Enfield, but expect to be at Colebrook 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.



To WILLIAM HONE.

Letter CCLXVIIL] September 30, 1825.

Dear H. — I came home in a week from Enfield, worse
than I went. My sufferings have been intense, but are
abating. I begin to know what a little sleep is. My
sister has sunk under her anxieties about me. She is
laid up, deprived of reason for many weeks to come, I
fear. She is in the same house, but we do not meet. It
makes both worse. I can just hobble down as far as the
" Angel " once a day ; further kills me. When I can
stretch to Copenhagen] Street I will. If you come this



140 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

way any morning, I can only just shake you by the hand.
This gloomy house does not admit of making my friends
welcome. You have come off triumphant with Bartholo-
mew Fair.

Yours (writ with difficulty), C. Lamb.

11 r. Hone,
Ludgate Hill.



To THOMAS MANNING.

Letter CCLXIX.] December 10, 1825.

My dear M. — "We have had sad ups and downs since
you saw us, but we are at present in untroubled waters
though not by them, for our old New River has taken a
jaundice of the muds and rains, and looks as yellow as
Miss .

Your red trunk (not hose, tho' a flame-coloured pair
was once esteemed a luxury) is safe deposited at the
Peacock, who by the by is worth your seeing. She has
had her tail brushed up, and looks as pert as A-goose with
a hundred eyes in 3/y-thology : I don't know what yours
says of it. Your gown will be at the Bell, Totteridge,
by the Telegraph on Monday ; time enough, I hope, to
go out to the curate's to an early Tea in it. We have a
corner at double dumbee for you, whenever you are dis-
posed to change your Inn.

Believe us, yours as ever,

Charles and Mary Lamb.

From Colebrook, this Saturday, the 10th of December 1825.



To CHARLES OLLIER.

Colebrook Cottage, Colebrook Roiv,
Letter CCLXX.] Tuesday {January 1826.]

Dear Oilier — I send you two more proverbs, which
will be the last of this batch, unless I send you one more



TO BARTON. 141

by the post on Thursday ; none will come after that
day ; so do not leave any open room in that case. Hood
sups with me to-night. Can you come and eat grouse 1
Tis not often I offer at delicacies.

Yours most kindly, C. Lamb.



Letter CCLXXL] January 1826.

Dear 0. — "We lamented your absence last night. The
grouse were piquant : the bucks incomparable. You must
come in to cold mutton and oysters some evening. Name
your evening; though I have qualms at the distance.
Do you never leave early ? My head is very queerish,
and indisposed for much company ; but we will get
Hood, that half Hogarth, to meet you. The scrap I send
should come in after the "Rising with the Lark."

Yours truly.

Colburn, I take it, pays postages.



To BERNARD BARTON.

Letter CCLXXIL] February 7, 1826.

Dear B. B. — I got your book not more than five
days ago, so am not so negligent as I must have appeared
to you with a fortnight's sin upon my shoulders. I tell
you with sincerity, that I think you have completely
succeeded in what you intended to do. What is poetry
may be disputed. These are poetry, to me at least.
They are concise, pithy, and moving. Uniform as they
are, and untristorify'd, I read them through at two
sittings, without one sensation approaching to tedium.
I do not know that among your many kind presents
of this nature, this is not my favourite volume. The
language is never lax, and there is a unity of design and
feeling. You wrote them with love — to avoid the cox-
combical phrase, con aviore. I am particularly pleased



142 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

with the " Spiritual Law," pages 34 and 35. It reminded
me of Quarles, and "holy Mr. Herbert," as Izaak Walton
calls him ; the two best, if not only, of our devotional
poets, though some prefer Watts, and some Tom Moore.
I am far from well, or in my right spirits, and shudder
at pen-and-ink work. I poke out a monthly crudity for
Colburn in his magazine, which I call " Popular Fallacies,"
and periodically crush a proverb or two, setting up my
folly against the wisdom of nations. Do you see the
Neio Monthly ?

One word I must object to in your little book, and
it recurs more than once — fadeless is no genuine com-
pound ; loveless is, because love is a noun as well as
verb ; but what is a fade 1 And I do not quite like
whipping the Greek drama upon the back of " Genesis,"
page 8. I do not like praise handed in by disparage-
ment ; as I objected to a side censure on Byron, etc., in
the " Lines on Bloomfield." With these poor cavils
excepted, your verses are without a flaw.

C. Lamb.



Letter CCLXXIII.] 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 pot-hooks 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



TO BARTON. 143

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 gives
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 can not. 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 A. K . 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 corre-
spondent 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



144 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

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.



To SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

Lettek CCLXXIV.] March 22, 1826.

Dear Coleridge — We will with great pleasure be with
you on Thursday in the next week early. May we
venture to bring Emma with us 1 Your finding out my
style in your nephew's pleasant book is surprising to me.
I want eyes to descry it. You are a little too hard upon
his morality, though I confess he has more of Sterne
about him than of Sternhold. But he saddens into
excellent sense before the conclusion. Your query shall
be submitted to Miss Kelly, though it is obvious that the
pantomime, when done, will be more easy to decide upon
than in proposal. I say, do it by all means. I have
Decker's play by me, if you can filch anything out of it.
Miss Gray, with her kitten eyes, is an actress, though
she shows it not at all ; and pupil to the former, whose
gestures she mimics in comedy to the disparagement of
her own natural manner, which is agreeable. It is funny
to see her bridling up her neck, which is native to F. K. ;
but there is no setting the manners of others upon one's
shoulders any more than their head. I am glad you
esteem Manning, though you see but his husk or shrine.
He discloses not, save to select worshippers, and will
leave the world without any one hardly but me knowing
how stupendous a creature he is. I am perfecting my-
self in the " Ode to Eton College " against Thursday,
that I may not appear unclassic. I have just discovered
that it is much better than the " Elegy."

In haste, C. L.

P.S. — I do not know what to say to your latest theory



TO NOVELLO. 145

about Nero being the Messiah, though by all accounts he
was a 'nointed one.



To the Rev. H. F. CARY.

Letter CCLXXV.] April 3, 1826.

Deal- Sir — It is whispered me that you will not be
unwilling to look into our doleful hermitage. Without
more preface, you will gladden our cell by accompanying
our old chums of the London, Darley and A[llan]
C[uuninghamJ, to Enfield on Wednesday. You shall
have hermit's fare, with talk as seraphical as the novelty
of the divine life will permit, with an innocent retrospect
to the world which we have left, when I will thank you
for your hospitable offer at Chiswick, and with plain
hermit reasons evince the necessity of abiding here.

Without hearing from you, then, you shall give us
leave to expect you. I have long had it on my conscience
to invite you, but spirits have been low ; and I am
indebted to chance for this awkward but most sincere
invitation.

Yours, with best loves to Mrs. Cary, C. Lamb.

D. knows all about the coaches. Oh for a Museum
in the wilderness !



To VINCENT NOVELLO.

Letter CCLXXV I.] May 9, 1826.

Dear N. — You will not expect us to-morrow, I am
sure, while these damn'd North-Easters continue. We
must wait the Zephyrs' pleasure. By the bye, I was at
Highgate on Wednesday, the only one of the party.

Yours truly, C. Lamb.

Summer, as my friend Coleridge waggishly writes, has
set in with its usual severity.

Kind remembces. to Mrs. Novello, etc.

VOL. II. L



146 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.



To BERNARD BARTON.

Letter CCLXXVIL] May 16, 1826.

Dear B. B. — I have had no spirits lately to begin a
letter to you, though I am under obligations to you (how
many !) for your neat little poem. 'Tis just what it
professes to be, a simple tribute, in chaste verse, serious
and sincere.

I do not know how friends will relish it, but we out-
lyers, honorary friends, like it very well. I have had
my head and ears stuffed up with the East winds : a
continual ringing in my brain of bells jangled, or the
spheres touched by some raw angel. Is it not George



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