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the Third trying the Hundredth Psalm 1 I get my music
for nothing. But the weather seems to be softening, and
will thaw my stunnings. Coleridge, writing to me a
week or two since, begins his note — " Summer has set in
with its usual severity." A cold Summer is all I know
of disagreeable in cold. I do not mind the utmost
rigour of real Winter, but these smiling hypocrites of
Mays wither me to death. My head has been a ringing
chaos, like the day the winds were made, before they
submitted to the discipline of a weathercock, before the
quarters were made. In the street, with the blended
noises of life about me, I hear, and my head is lightened ;
but in a room the hubbub comes back, and I am deaf as
a sinner. Did I tell you of a pleasant sketch Hood has
done, which he calls—" Very deaf indeed"? It is of
a good-natured stupid -looking old gentleman, whom a
footpad has stopped, but for his extreme deafness cannot
make him understand what he wants. The unconscious
old gentleman is extending his ear-trumpet very com-
placently, and the fellow is firing a pistol into it to make
him hear, but the ball will pierce his skull sooner than
the report will reach his sensorium. I choose a very
little bit of paper, for my ear hisses when I bend down
to write. I can hardly read a book, for I miss that small



TO COLERIDGE. 147

soft voice which the idea of articulated words raises
(almost imperceptibly to you) in a silent reader. I seem
too deaf to see what I read. But with a touch or two
of returning zephyr my head will melt. What lies you
poets tell about the May ! It is the most ungenial part
of the year. Cold crocuses, cold primroses, you take
your blossoms in ice — a painted sun.

" Unmeaning joy around appears,
And Nature smiles as if she sneers."

It is ill with me when I begin to look which way the
wind sets. Ten years ago, I literally did not know the
point from the broad end of the vane, which it was that
indicated the quarter. I hope these ill winds have blown
over you as they do through me.

Kindest remembrances to you and yours. C. L.



To SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

Letter CCLXXVIII.] Jwne 1, 1826.

Dear Coleridge — If I know myself, nobody more
detests the display of personal vanity, which is implied
in the act of sitting for one's picture, than myself. But
the fact is, that the likeness which accompanies this
letter was stolen from my person at one of my unguarded
moments by some too partial artist, and my friends are
pleased to think that he has not much flattered me.
Whatever its merits may be, you, who have so great an
interest in the original, will have a satisfaction in tracing
the features of one that has so long esteemed you. There
are times when in a friend's absence these graphic repre-
sentations of him almost seem to bring back the man
himself. The painter, whoever he was, seems to have
taken me in one of those disengaged moments, if I may
so term them, when the native character is so much more
honestly displayed than can be possible in the restraints
of an enforced sitting attitude. Perhaps it rather de-



148 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

scribes me as a thinking man, than a man in the act of
thought. Whatever its pretensions, I know it will be
dear to you, towards whom I should wish my thoughts
to flow in a sort of an undress rather than in the more
studied graces of diction.

I am, dear Coleridge, yours sincerely, C. Lamb.



To J. B. DIBDIN.

Letter CCLXXIX.] Friday, some day in June, 1826.

Dear D. — My first impulse upon opening 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 1 ? Why 'tis 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 dare say
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. Your account of the fierce faces in the
Hangings, with the presumed interlocution of the Eagle
and the Tiger, amused us greatly. You cannot be so very
bad while you can pick mirth off from rotten walls. But
let me hear you have escaped out of your oven. . . . Your
business, I take it, is bathing, not baking.

Let me hear that you have clambered up to Lover's Seat :
it is as fine in that neighbourhood 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
so grand as when it is left to itself. One cock-boat spoils
it— a sea-mew or two improves it. And go to the little
church which is a very Protestant Loretto, and seems dropt



TO DIBDIN. 149

by some angel for the use of a hermit who was at once
parishioner and a whole parish. It Js 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 it all the appertances of a
church of the first magnitude — its pulpit, its pews, its
baptismal font ; a cathedral in a nut-shell. Seven people
would crowd it like a Caledonian Chapel. The minister
that divides the Word there must give lumping penny-
worths. 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 'twould 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 'twould feel a mountain thrown upon it no more
than a taper- worm would. Go and see, but not ivithout your
spectacles. By the way, there's a capital farm-house two-
thirds of the way to the Lover's Seat, with incomparable
plum cake, ginger-beer, etc. Mary bids me warn you not
to read the Anatomy of Melancholy in your present low
way. You'll fancy yourself a pipkin or a headless bear,
as Burton speaks of. You'll be lost in a maze of remedies
for a labyrinth of diseasements — a plethora of cures.
Read Fletcher ; above all the Spanish Curate, the Thief,
or Little Night Walker, the Wit Without Money, and the
Lover's Pilgrimage. Laugh and come home fat. Neither
do we think Sir T. Browne quite the thing for you just
at present. Fletcher is as light as soda-water. Browne
and Burton are too strong potions for an Invalid. And
don't thumb and dirt the books. Take care of the bind-
ings. Lay a leaf of silver paper under 'em as you read
them. And don't smoke tobacco over 'em — the leaves



150 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

will fall in and burn or dirty their namesakes. If you
find any dusty atoms of the Indian Weed crumbled up in
the Beaumont and Fletcher, they are mine. But then,
you know, so is the Folio also. A pipe and a comedy of
Fletcher's the last thing of a night is the best recipe for
light dreams, and to scatter away Nightmares. Probatum
est. But do as you like about the former. Only, cut the
Baker's. You will come home else all crust ; Rankings
must chip you before you can appear in his counting-house.
And, my dear Peter Fin Junr., do contrive to see the sea
at least once before you return. You'll be asked about
it in the Old Jewry. It will appear singular not to have
seen it. And rub up your Muse — the family Muse — -and
send us a rhyme or so. Don't waste your wit upon that
damned Dry Salter. I never knew but one Dry Salter who
could relish those mellow effusions, and he broke. You
knew Tommy Hill, the wittiest of Dry Salters. Dry
Salters ! what a word for this thirsty weather ! I must
drink after it. Here's to thee, my dear Dibdin, and to
our having you again snug and well at Colebrooke. But
our nearest hopes are to hear again from you shortly.
An epistle only a quarter as agreeable as your last would
be a treat.

Yours most truly, C. Lamb.

Timothy B. Dibdin, Esq.,

No. 9, Blucher Row,

Priory, Hastings.



Letter CCLXXX.] July 14. 1826.

Because you boast poetic grandsire,
And rhyming kin, both uncle and sire,
Dost think that none but their descendings
Can tickle folks with double endings ?
I had a Dad that would for half a bet
Have put down thine thro' half the alphabet.
Thou who would be Dan Prior the Second,
For Dan Posterior must be reckoned.



TO DIBDIN. 151

In faith, dear Tim, your rhymes are slovenly,

As a man may say, dough-baked and ovenly ;

Tedious and long as two Long Acres,

And smell most vilely of the Baker's.

(I have been cursing every limb o' thee,

Because I could not hitch in Timothy.

Jack, Will, Tom, Dick's a serious evil,

But Tim, plain Tim's the very Devil).

Thou most incorrigible scribbler,

Right Watering Place and Cockney Dribbler,

What child, that barely understands A

B C, would ever dream that stanza

Would tinkle into rhyme with " Plan, Sir" 1

Go, go — you are not worth an answer.

I had a sire, that at plain Crambo

Had hit you o'er the head a damn'd blow.

How now 1 may I die game, and you die brass,

But I had stol'n a quip from Hudibras !

'Twas thinking on that fine old suttler,

That was in faith a second Butler ;

Had as queer rhymes as he, and subtler.

He would have put you to 't this weathei

For rattling syllables together.

Rhymed you to death, like "rats in Ireland,"

Except that he was born in High'r Land.

His chimes, not cramped like thine, and rung ill,

Had made Job split his sides on dunghill.

There was no limit to his merryings

At christ'nings, weddings, nay at buryings.

No undertaker would live near him,

Those grave practitioners did fear him ;

Mutes, at his merry mops, turned "vocal,"

And fellows, hired for silence, " spoke all."

No body could be laid in cavity

Long as he lived, with proper gravity.

His mirth-fraught eye had but to glitter,

And every mourner round must titter.

The Parson, prating of Mount Hermon,



152 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

Stood still to laugh in midst of sermon.
The final sexton (smile he must for him)
Could hardly get to " dust to dust " for him.
He lost three pall-bearers their livelihood,
Only with simpering at his lively mood :
Provided that they fresh and neat came,
All jests were fish that to his net came.
He'd banter Apostolic castings
As you jeer fishermen at Hastings.
When the fly bit, like me, he leapt o'er all,
And stood not much on what was Scriptural.
P.S. I had forgot, at Small Bohemia*

(Enquire the way of your maid, Euphemia)
Are sojourning, of all good fellows
The prince and princess, the Novellos.
Pray seek 'em out, and give my love to 'em ;
You'll find you'll soon be hand and glove to 'em.

C. L.

* In prose, Little Bohemia, about a mile from Hast-
ings in the Holliugton Road, when you can get as far.
This letter will introduce you, if 'tis agreeable. Take a
donkey — 'tis Novello the Composer and his wife, our very
good friends. Dear Dib, I find relief in a word or two
of prose. In truth my rhymes come slow. You have
"routh of 'em." It gives us pleasure to find you keep
your good spirits. Your letter did us good. Pray Heaven
you are got out at last. Write quickly.

For Tim Dibdin,
At No. 4 Meadow Cottages,
Hastings.



To WILLIAM HONE.

Letter CCLXXXI.] [Enfield, July 25, 1826.]

Dear H. — The Quotidian came in as pleasantly as it
was looked for at breakfast time yesterday. You have



TO DIBDIN. 153

repaid my poor stanzas with interest. This last inter-
lineation is one of those instances of affectation rightly
applied. Read the sentence without it, how bald it is !
Your idea of " worsted in the dog-days " was capital.

We are here so comfortable that I am confident we
shall stay one month, from this date, most probably
longer; so if you please, you can cut your out-of-town
room for that time. I have sent up my petit farce
altered ; and Harley is at the theatre now. ■ It cannot
come out for some weeks. When it does, we think not
of leaving her, but to borrow a bed of you for the night.

I write principally to say that the 4th of August is
coming, — Dogget's Coat and Badge Day on the water.
You will find a good deal about him in Gibber's Apology,
octavo, facing the window; and something haply in a
thin blackish quarto among the plays, facing the fireside.

You have done with mad dogs ; else there is a print
of Rowlandson's, or somebody's, of people in pursuit of
one in a village, which might have come in : also
Goldsmith's verses.

Mary's kind remembrance. C. Lamb.

Mr. Hone,

Colebrook Cottage,
Islington.



To J. B. DIBDIN".

LETTfiii CCLXXXII.] Saturday, September 9, 1826.

An answer is requested.

Dear D. — I have observed that a Letter is never more
acceptable than when received upon a rainy day, especially
a rainy Sunday ; which moves me to send.you somewhat,
however short. This will find you sitting after Breakfast,
which you will have prolonged as far as you can with
consistency to the poor handmaid that has the reversion
of the Tea Leaves ; making two nibbles of your last morsel
of stale roll (you cannot have hot new ones on the Sabbath),



154 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

and reluctantly coming to an end, because when that is
done, what can you do till dinner 1 You cannot go to
the Beach, for the rain is drowning the sea, turning rank
Thetis fresh, taking the brine out of Neptune's pickles,
while mermaids sit upon rocks with umbrellas, their ivory
combs sheathed for spoiling in the wet of waters foreign
to them. You cannot go to the Library, for it's shut.
You are not religious enough to go to Church. it is
worth while to cultivate piety to the gods, to have
something to fill the heart up on a wet Sunday. You
cannot cast accounts, for your Ledger is being eaten up
with moths in the Ancient Jewry. You cannot play at
Draughts, for there is none to play with you, and besides
there is not a draught-board in the house. You cannot
go to market, for it closed last night. You cannot look
into the shops, their backs are shut upon you. You
cannot while away an hour with a friend, for you have
no friend round that Wrekin. You cannot divert your-
self with a stray acquaintance, for you have picked none
up. You cannot bear the chiming of Bells, for they
invite you to a banquet where you are no visitant. You
cannot cheer yourself with the prospect of to-morrow's
letter, for none come on Mondays. You cannot count
those endless vials on the mantlepiece with any hope of
making a variation in their numbers. You have counted
your spiders : your Bastile is exhausted. You sit and
deliberately curse your hard exile from all familiar sights
and sounds. Old Ranking poking in his head unex-
pectedly would just now be as good to you as Grimaldi.
Anything to deliver you from this intolerable weight of
ennui. You are too ill to shake it off : not ill enough to
submit to it, and to lie down as a Lamb under it. The
Tyranny of sickness is nothing to the cruelty of Con-
valescence : 'tis to have Thirty Tyrants for one. That
pattering rain drops on your brain. You'll be worse
after dinner, for you must dine at one to-day that Betty
may go to afternoon service. She insists upon having
her chopped hay. And then when she goes out, who



TO BARTON. 155

was something to you, something to speak to — what an
interminable afternoon you'll have to go thro'. You can't
break yourself from your locality : you cannot say,
"to-morrow morning I set off for Banstead," for you are
booked for Wednesday. Foreseeing this, I thought a
cheerful letter would come in opportunely. If any of the
little topics for mirth I have thought upon should serve
you in this utter extinguishment of sunshine, to make
you a little merry, I shall have had my ends. I love to
make things comfortable. . . . That, which is scratched
out was the most material thing I had to say, but on
maturer thoughts I defer it.

P.S. — We are just sitting down to dinner with a
pleasant party — Coleridge, Reynolds the dramatist, and
Sam Bloxam : to-morrow (that is, to-day), Liston and
Wyat of the Wells, dine with us. May this find you as
jolly and freakish as we mean to be. C. Lamb.

Addressed —

T. Dibdin, Esq.,

4 Meadow Cottages,
Hastings.



To BERNARD BARTON.

Letter CCLXXXIII.] September 26, 1826.

Dear B. B. — I don't know why I have delayed so
long writing. 'Twas a fault. The under- current of
excuse to my mind was that I had heard of the vessel in
which Mitford's jars were to come; that it had been
obliged to put into Batavia to refit (which accounts for
its delay), but was daily expected. Days are past, and
it comes not, and the mermaids may be drinking their
tea out of his china for aught I know; but let's hope
not. In the meantime I have paid £28, etc., for the
freight and prime cost, which I a little expected he
would have settled in London. But do not mention it.
I was enabled to do it by a receipt of £30 from Colburn,



156 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

with whom, however, I have done. I should else have
mil short ; for I only just make ends meet. We will
wait the arrival of the trinkets, and to ascertain their
full expense, and then bring in the bill. Don't mention
it, for I daresay 'twas mere thoughtlessness. I am sorry
you and yours have any plagues about dross matters. I
have been sadly puzzled at the defalcation of more than
one-third of my income, out of which when entire I saved
nothing. But cropping off wine, old books, etc. etc., in
short, all that can be called pocket-money, I hope to be
able to go on at the cottage. Remember, I beg of you
not to say anything to Mitford, for if he be honest it will
vex him : if not, which I as little expect as that you
should be, I have a hank still upon the jars.

Colburn had something of mine in last month, which
he has had in hand these seven months, and had lost, or
couldn't find room for : I was used to different treatment
in the London, and have forsworn periodicals. I am
going thro' a course of reading at the Museum : the
Garrick plays, out of part of which I formed my speci-
mens. I have two thousand to go thro' ; and in a few
weeks have despatched the tythe of 'em. It is a sort of
office to me ; hours, ten to four, the same. It does me
good. Man must have regular occupation, that has been
used to it.

So A. K. keeps a school ; she teaches nothing wrong,
I'll answer for't. I have a Dutch print of a school-
mistress ; little old-fashioned Fleminglings, with only one
face among them. She a princess of a schoolmistress,
wielding a rod for form more than use ; the scene, an old
monastic chapel, with a Madonna over her head, looking
just as serious, as thoughtful, as pure, as gentle as her-
self. Tis a type of thy friend.

Will you pardon my neglect 1 ? Mind, again I say,
don't show this to M. ; let me wait a little longer to
know the event of his luxuries. I am sure he is a good
fellow, tho' I made a serious Yorkshire lad stare when I
said he was a clergyman. He is a pleasant layman



TO BARTON. 157

spoiled. Heaven send him his jars uncrack'd, and me

my

Yours, with kindest wishes to your daughter and
friend, in which Mary joins, C. L.

Letter CCLXXXIV.] [End of 1826.]

Dear B. B. (the Busy Bee, as Hood after Dr. Watts
apostrophises thee, and well dost thou deserve it for thy
labours in the Muses' gardens, wandering over parterres
of Think-on-mes and Forget-me-nots, to a total impossi-
bility of forgetting thee), thy letter was acceptable, thy
scruples may be dismissed, thou art rectus in curid, not
a word more to be said, verbum sapienti, and so forth,
the matter is decided with a white stone, classically, mark
me, and the apparitions vanish'd which haunted me, only
the cramp, Caliban's distemper, clawing me in the calvish
part of my nature, makes me ever and anon roar bullishly,
squeak cowardishly, and limp cripple-ishly. Do I write
quakerly and simply, 'tis my most Master Mathews's like
intention to do it. See Ben Jonson. — I think you told
me your acquaintance with the Drama was confin'd to
Shakspeare and Miss Baillie : some read only Milton and
Croly. The gap is as from an ananas to a turnip. I
have fighting in my head the plots, characters, situations,
and sentiments of 400 old plays (bran new to me) which
I have been digesting at the Museum, and my appetite
sharpens to twice as many more, which I mean to course
over this Winter. I can scarce avoid dialogue fashion in
this letter. I soliloquise my meditations, and habitually
speak dramatic blank verse without meaning it. Do you
see Mitford 1 He will tell you something of my labours.
Tell him I am sorry to have missed seeing him, to have
talked over those old Treasures. I am still more sorry
for his missing Pots. But I shall be sure of the earliest
intelligence of the Lost Tribes. His Sacred Specimens
are a thankful addition to my shelves. Marry, I could
wish he had been more careful of corrigenda. I have



158 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

discover'd certain which have slipt his errata. I put 'em
in the next page, as perhaps thou canst transmit them
to him ; for what purpose but to grieve him (which yet
I should be sorry to do), but then it shows my learning,
and the excuse is complimentary, as it implies their
correction in a future edition. His own things in the
book are magnificent, and as an old Christ's Hospitaller
I was particularly refresh'd with his eulogy on our
Edward. Many of the choice excerpta were new to me.
Old Christmas is a-coming, to the confusion of Puritans,
Muggletonians, Anabaptists, Quakers, and that unwas-
sailing crew. He cometh not with his wonted gait ; he
is shrunk nine inches in his girth, but is yet a lusty
fellow. Hood's book is mighty clever, and went off 600
copies the first day. Sion's Songs do not disperse so
quickly. The next leaf is for Rev. J. M. In this adieu,
thine briefly, in a tall friendship, C. Lamb.



To Mr. H. C. ROBINSON.

Colebrooke How, Islington,
Letter CCLXXXV.] Saturday, January 20, 1827.

Dear Robinson — I called upon you this morning, and
found that you were gone to visit a dying friend. I had
been upon a like errand. Poor Norris 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 stupified. 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



TO ROBINSON. 159

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



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