Charles Lamb.

The letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) online

. (page 14 of 31)
Online LibraryCharles LambThe letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

— occupied ; peopled with the spirits of deceased members
of the county and Justices of the Quorum. Would I were
buried in the peopled solitude of one, with my feelings
at seven years old ! Those marble busts of the Emperors,
they seemed as if they were to stand for ever, as they
had stood from the living days of Rome, in that old
marble hall, and I to 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 his scythe only by my littleness.


Even now he is whetting one of his smallest razors to
clean wipe me out, perhaps. Well !


Letter CCXCIX.] [August 10, 1827.]

My dear Hone — We are both excessively grieved at
dear Matilda's illness, whom we have ever regarded with
the greatest respect. Pray God, your next news, which
we shall expect most anxiously, shall give hopes of her

Mary keeps her health very well, and joins in kind
remembrances and best wishes.

A few more Numbers (about 7) will empty my
Extract Book ; then we will consult about the " Speci-
mens." By then, I hope you will be able to talk about
business. How you continue your book at all, and so
well, in trying circumstances, I know not. But don't
let it stop. Would to God I could help you ! — but we
have the house full of company, which we came to avoid.

God bless you. C. L.

Mr. Hone,

22, Belvidere Place,


Letter CCC] August 28, 1827.

Dear B. B. — I am thankful to you for your ready
compliance with my wishes. Emma is delighted with
your verses, to which I have appended this notice, "The
sixth line refers to the child of a dear friend of the
author's, named Emma," without which it must be obscure,
and have sent it with four album poems of my own (your
daughter's with your heading, requesting it a place next


mine), to a Mr. Fraser, who is to be editor of a more
superb pocket-book than has yet appeared, by far ! the
property of some wealthy booksellers ; but whom, or what
its name, I forgot to ask. It is actually to have in it
schoolboy exercises by his present Majesty and the late
Duke of York. So Lucy will come to Court ; how she
will be stared at ! Wordsworth is named as a contributor.
Fraser, whom I have slightly seen, is editor of a forthcome
or coming Review of foreign books, and is intimately con-
nected with Lockhart, etc. So I take it that this is a con-
cern of Murray's. Walter Scott also contributes mainly.
I have stood off a long time from these annuals, which are
ostentatious trumpery, but could not withstand the request
of Jameson, a particular friend of mine and Coleridge.

I shall hate myself in frippery, strutting along, and
vying finery with beaux and belles, with "future Lord
Byrons and sweet L. E. L.'s." Your taste, I see, is less
simple than mine, which the difference of our persuasions
has doubtless effected. In fact, of late you liave so
Frenchified your style, larding it with hors de combats,
and au desopoirs, that o' my conscience the Foxian blood
is quite dried out of you, and the skipping Monsieur
spirit has been infused. Doth Lucy go to balls 1 I
must remodel my lines, which I wrote for her. I hope
A. K. keeps to her primitives.

If you have anything you'd like to send further, I
daresay an honourable place would be given to it ; but I
have not heard from Fraser since I sent mine, nor shall
probably again, and therefore I do not solicit it as from
him. Yesterday I sent off my tragi- comedy to Mr.
Kemble. Wish it luck. I made it all ('tis blank verse,
and I think of the true old dramatic cut) or most of it in
the green lanes about Enfield, where I am, and mean to
remain, in spite of your peremptory doubts on that head.
Your refusal to lend your poetical sanction to my " Icon,"
and your reasons to Evans, are most sensible. Maybe I
may hit on a line or two of my own jocular ; maybe not.
Do you never Londonise again 1 I should like to talk


over old poetry with you of which I have much, and you,
I think, little. Do your Drummonds allow no holidays 1
I would willingly come and work for you a three weeks
or so, to let you loose. Would I could sell or give you
some of my leisure ! Positively, the best thing a man
can have to do is nothing, and next to that perhaps —
good works. I am but poorlyish, and feel myself writing
a dull letter ; poorlyish from company ; not generally,
for I never was better, nor took more walks, fourteen
miles a day on an average, with a sporting dog, Dash.
You would not know the plain poet, any more than he
doth recognise James Nayler trick'd out au deserpoy
(how do you spell it 1) En passant, J'aime entendre de
mon bon homme sur surveillance de croix, ma pas I'homme
jiguratif. Do you understand me ? C. Lamb.


Letter CCCL] Sunday, September 2 [1827].

Dear Hone — By the verses in yesterday's Table Book,
sign'd *, I judge you are going on better ; but / xoant to
be resoli/d. Allsop promised to call on you, and let me
know, but has not. Pray attend to this ; and send me
the number before the present (pages 225 to 256), which
my newsman has neglect'd. Your book improves every
week. I have written here a thing in 2 acts, and sent
it to Cov 1 Gard.

Yours, C. Lamb.


Letter CCCII.] September 5, 1827.

Dear Dib. — Emma Isola, who is with us, has opened
an album : bring some verses with you for it on Satur-
day evening. Any fun will do. I am teaching her


Latin ; you may make something of that. Don't be
modest. For in it you shall appear, if I rummage out
some of your old pleasant letters for rhymes. But an
original is better.

Has your Pa * any scrap *? C. L.

We shall be most glad to see your sister or sisters
with you. Can't you contrive it 1 Write in that case.

* The infantile word for father.

T. Dibdin, Esq.,
Messrs. Railtons',

Old Jewry, London.

Letter CCCI II.] September IS, 1827.

Dear John — Your verses are very pleasant, and have
been adopted into the splendid Emmatic constellation,
where they are not of the least magnitude. She is
delighted with their merit and readiness. They are just
the thing. The 14th line is found. We advertised it.
" Hell is cooling for want of company." We shall make
it up, along with our kitchen fire to roast you into our new
House where I hope you will find us in a few Sundays. We
have actually taken it, and a compact thing it will be.

Kemble does not return till the month's end.

My heart sometimes is good, sometimes bad about it,
as the day turns out wet or walky.

Emma has just died, choked with a Gerund- in -dum.
On opening her, we found a Participle- in -rus in the peri-
cardium. The King never dies, which may be the reason
that it always reigns here.

We join in loves. C. L. his orthograph.

What a pen !

Mr. John B. Dibdin,

Messrs. Rankings,
Old Jewry.




Letter CCCIV.] Tuesday [September 18, 1827.]

Dear Hood — If I have anything in my head, I will
send it to Mr. Watts. Strictly speaking, he should have
had my album-verses, but a very intimate friend impor-
tun'd 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 27 th. 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 !"

See the rest in the Complete Angler.

We have got our books into our new house. I am a
dray-horse, if I was not asham'd of the undigested,
dirty lumber, as I toppled 'em out of the cart, and blest
Becky that came with 'em for her having an unstuff'd
brain with such rubbish. We shall get in by Michael's
Mass. 'Twas with some pain we were evuls'd from Cole-
brook. You may find some of our flesh sticking to the
door-posts. 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. 'Tis an enterprise; and shoves back
the sense of death's approximating, which, tho' 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 Colebrook ! The Middle-
tonian stream, and all its echoes, mourn. Even minnows
dwindle. A par vis Jiunt minimi I I fear to invite Mrs.

TO HOOD. 179

Hood to our new mansion, lest she 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 counter-action thro' the Table Booh of
last Saturday. Has it not reach'd you, that you are silent
about it 1 Our new domicile is no manor-house ; but
new, and externally not inviting, but furnish'd 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 £1100 expence, 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 turn ;
courtiers for a sport, then philosophers ; old, homely tell-
tmths 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 1

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

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

0, the old books we shall peruse here !

0, the new nonsense we shall trifle over there !

0, Sir T. Browne, here !

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

C. (urbanus) L. (sylvanus) — (Elia ambo)

Inclos'd are verses which Emma sat down to write
(her first) on the eve after your departure. Of course,


they are only for Mrs. H.'s perusal. They will shew, at
least, that one of our party is not willing to cut old
friends. What to call 'em I don't know. Blank verse
they are not, because of the rhymes ; rhymes they are
not, because of the blank verse ; heroics they are not,
because they are lyric ; lyric they are not, because of the
heroic measure. They must be call'd Emmaics.

The Hoods, 2, Robert Street,
Adelphi, London.


Letter CCCV.] September 18, 1827.

My dear, and now more so, John — How that name
smacks ! What an honest, full, English, and yet withal
holy and apostolic sound it bears, above the methodistical
priggish Bishoppy name of Timothy, under which I had
obscured your merits !

What I think of the paternal verses you shall read
within, which I assure you is not pen praise but heart

It is the gem of the Dibdin Muses. I have got all
my books into my new house, and their readers in a fort-
night will follow, to whose joint converse nobody shall be
more welcome than you, and any of yours.

The house is perfection to our use and comfort.
Milton is come. I wish Wordsworth were here to meet
him. The next importation is of pots and saucepans,
window curtains, crockery, and such base ware.

The pleasure of moving, when Becky moves for you.
the moving Becky ! I hope you will come and warm
the house with the first.

From my temporary domicile, Enfield.

Elia, that "is to go."
Mr. John Dibdin,

Messrs. Rankings,
Old Jewry.



Enfield Chase Side,
Letter CCCVL] September 25, 1827.

Dear Sir — I beg leave in the warmest manner to
recommend to your notice Mr. Moxon, the bearer of this,
if by any chance yourself should want a steady hand in
your business, or know of any Publisher that may want
such a one. He is at present in the house of Messrs.
Longman and Co., where he has been established for
more than six years, and has the conduct of one of the
four departments of the Country Line. A difference
respecting salary, which he expected to be a little raised
on his last promotion, makes him wish to try to better
himself. I believe him to be a young man of the highest
integrity and a thorough man of business, and should not
have taken the liberty of recommending him, if I had
not thought him capable of being highly useful.

I am, Sir, with great respect, your h'ble servant,

Charles Lamb.


Mrs. Leishmun's, Chase, Enfield,
Letter CCCVIL] 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 1 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 over-
seers ; 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 is a sign he does not like
it. Does his tail wag horizontally, or perpendicularly 1
That has decided the fate of many dogs in Enfield. Is
his general deportment cheerful 1 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 H yder- Ally's
time. Do you get paunch for him 1 Take care the sheep
was sane. You might pull out his teeth (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 humour 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 tlie 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 pack-thread 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 plea-
santly 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 knew 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.

[What follows was written on the outside of the
letter : — ]

Seriously, I wish you would call upon Hood when you
are that way. He's a capital fellow. I've sent him two
poems, one ordered by his wife, and written to order ;
and 'tis a week since, and I've not heard from him. I
fear something is the matter.

Our kindest remembrance to Mrs. P.


Letter CCCVIII.] Chase Side, October 1, 1827.

Dear R. — I am settled for life I hope at Enfield. I
have taken the prettiest, compactest house I ever saw,
near to Antony Robinson's ! but, alas ! at the expense of
poor Mary, who was taken ill of her old complaint the
night before we got into it. So I must suspend the
pleasure I expected in the surprise you would have had
in coming down, and finding us householders. Farewell,
till we can all meet comfortable. Pray apprise Martin
Burney. Him I longed to have seen with you ; but our
house is too small to meet either of you without her

God bless you.



Letter CCCIX.] October 2, 1827.

My dear Dibdin — It gives me great pain to have to
say that I cannot have the pleasure of seeing you for
some time. We are in our house, but Mary has been
seized with one of her periodical disorders — a temporary
derangement — which commonly lasts for two months.
You shall have the first notice of her convalescence. Can
you not send your manuscript by the coach 1 directed to
Chase Side, next to Mr. Westwood's Insurance Office. I
will take great care of it.

Yours most truly, C. Lamb.


Letter CCCX.] October 4, 1827.

I am not in humour to return a fit reply to your
pleasant letter. We are fairly housed at Enfield, and
an angel shall not persuade me to wicked London again.
We have now six Sabbath-days in a week for — none/
The change has worked on my sister's mind to make her
ill ; and I must wait a tedious time before we can hope
to enjoy this place in unison. Enjoy it, when she recovers,
I know we shall. I see no shadow, but in her illness,
for repenting the step ! For Mathews — I know my own
utter unfitness for such a task. I am no hand at describ-
ing costumes, a great requisite in an account of mannered
pictures. I have not the slightest acquaintance with
pictorial language even. An imitator of me, or rather
pretender to be me, in his " Rejected Articles," has made
me minutely describe the dresses of the poissardes at
Calais ! — I could as soon resolve Euclid. I have no eye
for forms and fashions. I substitute analysis, and get


rid of the phenomenon by slurring in for it its impres-
sion. I am sure you must have observed this defect, or
peculiarity, in my writings ; else the delight would be
incalculable in doing such a thing for Mathews — whom I
greatly like — and Mrs. Mathews, whom I almost greatlier
like. What a feast 'twould be to be sitting at the
pictures painting 'em into words ; but I could almost as
soon make words into pictures. I speak this deliberately,
and not out of modesty. I pretty well know what I
can't do.

My sister's verses are homely, but just what they
should be ; I send them, not for the poetry, but the
good sense and good will of them. I was beginning to
transcribe ; but Emma is sadly jealous of its getting into
more hands, and I won't spoil it in her eyes by divulging
it. Come to Enfield, and read it. As my poor cousin,
the bookbinder, now with God, told me most sentiment-
ally, that having purchased a picture of fish at a dead
man's sale, his heart ached to see how the widow grieved
to part with it, being her dear husband's favourite ; and
he almost apologised for his generosity by saying he could
not help telling the widow she was " welcome to come
and look at it" — e.g. at his house — "as often as she
pleased." There was the germ of generosity in an un-
educated mind. He had just reading enough from the
backs of books for the "nee sinit esse feros"; had he
read inside, the same impulse would have led him to
give back the two-guinea thing — with a request to see
it, now and then, at her house. We are parroted into
delicacy. — Thus you have a tale for a Sonnet.

Adieu ! with (imagine both) our loves. 0. L.


Letter CCCXL] October 7, 1827.

Let us meet if possible when you hobble to town.
Enfield Chase, nearly opposite to the 1st chapel; or


better to define it, east side opposite a white House in
which a Mrs. Vaughan (in ill health) still resides.

My dear Dodwell — Your little pig found his way to
Enfield this morning without his feet, or rather his little
feet came first, and as I guessed the rest of him soon
followed. He is quite a beauty. It was a pity to kill
him, or rather, as Rice would say, it would have been a
pity not to kill him, in his state of innocence. He might
have lived to be corrupted by the ways of the world, and
for all his delicate promise have turned out, like an old
Tea Broker you and I remember, a lump of fat rusty
Bacon. Bacon was a Beast, my friend at Calne, Marsh,
used to say — or was it Bendry ? A rasher of the latter
still hangs up in Leadenhall. Your kind letter has left
a relish upon my taste; it read warm and short as
to-morrow's crackling.

I am not quite so comfortable at home yet as I should
be else in the neatest compactest house I ever got
— a perfect God-send ; but for some weeks I must enjoy
it alone. ' She always comes round again. It is a house
of a few years' standing, built (for its size with every
convenience) by an old humourist for himself, which he
tired of as soon as he got warm in it. Grates, locks, a
pump, convenience indescribable, and cheap as if it had
been old and craved repairs. For me, who always take
the first thing that offers, how lucky that the best should
first offer itself ! My books, my prints are up, and I seem
(so like this room I write in is to a room there) to have
come here transported in the night, like Gulliver in his
flying house ; and to add to the deception, the New River
has come down from Islington with me. 'Twas what I
wished — to move my house, and I have realised it. Only
instead of company seven nights in the week, I see my
friends on the First Day of it, and enjoy six real Sabbaths.
The Museum is a loss, but I am not so far but I can visit
it occasionally : and I have exhausted the Plays there.

" Indisputably I shall allow no sage and onion to be
cramm'd into the throat of so tender a suckling.


" Bread and milk with some odoriferous mint, and the
liveret minced.

" Come and tell me when he cries, that I may catch
his little eyes.

" And do it nice and crips." (That's the Cook's word.)
You'll excuse me, I have been only speaking to Becky
about the dinner to-morrow. After it, a glass of seldom-
drunk wine to my friend Dodwell, and, if he will give a
stranger leave, to Mrs. Dodwell : then to the memory of
the last, and of the last but one, learned Dodwell, of
whom, but not whom, I have read so much. The next
to the "Outward and Homeward bound ships" — and, if
the bottle lasts, to the Chairman, Deputy-Chairman, the
Court of Directors, the Secretary, the Treasurer, and
Accomptant-General, of the East India Company, with a
blunt bumper at parting to P . All I can do, I can-
not make P look like a G n, yet he is portly,

majestic, hath his nods, his condescensions, his variety of
behaviour to suit your Director, your Upper Clerk, your
Ryles, and your Winfields, he tempers mirth with gravity,
gives no affront, and expects to receive none, is honourable,
mannered, of good bearing, looks like a man who, accus-
tomed to respect others, silently extorts respect from them,
has it as a sort of in course ; without claiming it, finds
it. What do I miss in him, then, of the essentials of
gentlemanhood ? He is right sterling — but then, some-
how, he always has that d d large Goldsmith's Hall

mark staring upon him. Possibly he is too fat for a
gentleman — then I think of Charles Fox in the Dropsy ;

Online LibraryCharles LambThe letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) → online text (page 14 of 31)