Charles Lamb.

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From Mrs. Leishman's, Chase, Enfield.


Letter CCCXXVIIL] August 1828.

Dear Haydon — I have been tardy in telling you that
your Chairing the Member gave me great pleasure — 'tis


true broad Hogarthian fun, the High Sheriff capital.
Considering, too, that you had the materials imposed
upon you, and that you did not select them from the rude
world as H. did, I hope to see many more such from
your hand. If the former picture went beyond this I
have had a loss, and the King a bargain. I longed to
rub the back of my hand across the hearty canvas that
two senses might be gratified. Perhaps the subject is a
little discordantly placed opposite to another act of Chair-
ing, w r here the huzzas were Hosannahs ! but I was pleased
to see so many of my old acquaintances brought together

Believe me, yours truly, C. Lamb.


Letter CCCXXIX.] October 11, 1828.

A splendid edition of " Bunyan's Pilgrim!" Why,
the thought is enough to turn one's moral stomach. His
cockle-hat and staff transformed to a smart cock'd 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 Vauity 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, O 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 in 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 ? then come hither,
And lay my book, thy head, and heart together.

" John Bunyan."

Show me such poetry in any 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 paralysed. 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 opprest way for a long long time, and they are things
which must be to you of faith, for who can explain
depression 1 Yes, I am hooked into the " Gem," but
only for some lines written on a dead infant of the
Editor's, 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 whistled through
all the covers of magazines, the barefaced sort of emula-
tion, 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 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 gentle-
men 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
all three (we can lodge you) our pleasant farms and

We both join in kindest loves to you and yours.

C. Lamb, redivivus.


Letter CCCXXX.] [Enfield, October 1828.]

Dear Clarke — We c4d expect to see you with
Victoria and the Novellos before this, and do not quite
understand why we have not. Mrs. N. and V. [Vincent]
promised us after the York expedition; a day being
named before, which fail'd. Tis not too late. The
autumn leaves drop gold, and Enfield is beautifuller — to


a common eye — than when you lurked at the Greyhound.
Benedicks are close ; but how I so totally missed you at
that time, going for my morning cup of ale duly, is a
mystery. 'Twas stealing a match before one's face in
earnest. But certainly we had not a dream of your
appropinquity. I instantly prepared an Epithalamium,
in the form of a Sonata — which I was sending to Novello
to compose ; but Mary forbid it me as too light for the
occasion — as if the subject required anything heavy : so
in a tiff with her I sent no congratulation at all. Tho' I
promise you the wedding was very pleasant news to me
indeed. Let your reply name a day this next week,
when you will come as many as a coach will hold ; such
a day as we had at Dulwich. My very kindest love and
Mary's to Victoria and the Novellos. The enclosed is
from a friend nameless, but highish in office, and a man
whose accuracy of statement may be relied on with
implicit confidence. He wants the expose to appear in a
newspaper as the "greatest piece of legal and Parlia-
mentary villainy he ever remember' d ," and he had experi-
ence of both ; and thinks it would answer afterwards in
a cheap pamphlet printed at Lambeth in 8 V0 sheet, as
16,000 families in that parish are interested. I know
not whether the present "Examiner" keeps up the
character of exposing abuses, for I scarce see a paper
now. If so, you may ascertain Mr. Hunt of the strictest
truth of the statement, at the peril of my head. But if
this won't do, transmit it me back, I beg, per coach — or
better, bring it with you.

Yours unaltered, C. Lamb.


Letter CCCXXXL] [Enfield, November 6, 1828.]

My dear Novello — I am afraid I shall appear rather
tardy in offering my congratulations, however sincere,
upon your daughter's marriage. The truth is I had put


together a little Serenata upon the occasion, but was pre-
vented from sending it by my sister, to whose judgment
I am apt to defer too much in these kind of things ; so
that, now I have her consent, the offering, I am afraid,
will have lost the grace of seasonableuess. Such as it is,
I send it. She thinks it a little too old-fashioned in the
manner, too much like what they wrote a century back.
But I cannot write in the modern style, if I try ever so
hard. I have attended to the proper divisions for the
music, and you will have little difficulty in composing it.
If I may advise, make Pepusch your model, or Blow.
It will be necessary to have a good second voice, as the
stress of the melody lies there : —


On the Marriage of Charles Cowden Clarke, Esqre., to Victoria,
eldest daughter of Vincent Novello, Esqre.


Wake th' harmonious voice and string,
Love and Hymen's triumph sing,
Sounds with secret charms combining,
In melodious union joining,
Best the wondrous joys can tell,
That in hearts united dwell.

First Voice.

To young Victoria's happy fame

Well may the Arts a trophy raise,

Music grows sweeter in her praise,
And, own'd by her, with rapture speaks her name.
To touch the brave Cowdenio's heart,

The Graces all in her conspire ;
Love arms her with his surest dart,

Apollo with his lyre.


The list'ning Muses all around her,
Think 'tis Phoebus' strain they hear ;

And Cupid, drawing near to wound her.
Drops his bow, and stands to hear.



Second Voice.

While crowds of rivals with despair

Silent admire, or vainly court the Fair,

Behold the happy conquest of her eyes,

A Hero is the glorious prize !

In courts, in camps, thro' distant realms renown M,

Cowdenio comes ! — Victoria, see,
He comes with British honour crown'd,

Love leads his eager steps to thee.


In tender sighs he silence breaks,

The Fair his flame approves,
Consenting blushes warm her cheeks,

She smiles, she yields, she loves.


First Voice.

Now Hymen at the altar stands,

And while he joins their faithful hands,

Behold ! by ardent vows brought down,

Immortal Concord, heavenly bright,

Array'd in robes of purest light,

Descends, th' auspicious rites to crown.

Her golden harp the goddess brings ;

Its magic sound

Commands a sudden silence all around,

And strains prophetic thus attune the strings.

First Voice.
The Swain his Nymph possessing,

Second Voice.
The Nymph her Swain caressing;

First and Second.
Shall still improve the blessing,
For ever kind and true.


While rolling years are flying,
Love, Hymen's lamp supplying,
With fuel never dying,
Shall still the flame renew.


To so great a master as yourself I have no need to
suggest that the peculiar tone of the composition requires
sprightliness, occasionally checked by tenderness, as in
the second air, —

She smiles, — she yields, — she loves.

Again, you need not be told that each fifth line of the
two first recitatives requires a crescendo.

And your exquisite taste will prevent your falling
into the error of Purcell, who at a passage similar to
that in my first air,

Drops his bow, and stands to hear,
directed the first violin thus : —

Here the first violin must drop his bow.

But, besides the absurdity of disarming his principal
performer of so necessary an adjunct to his instrument,
in such an emphatic part of the composition too, which
must have had a droll effect at the time, all such
minutiae of adaptation are at this time of day very pro-
perly exploded, and Jackson of Exeter very fairly ranks
them under the head of puns.

Should you succeed in the setting of it, we propose
having it performed (we have one very tolerable second
voice here, and Mr. Holmes, I dare say, would supply
the minor parts) at the Greyhound. But it must be a
secret to the young couple till we can get the band in

Believe me, dear Novello, yours truly,

0. Lamb.


Letter CCCXXXIL] Enfield, November 9, 1828.

Sir — I beg to return my acknowledgments for the
present of your elegant volume, which I should have
esteemed, without the bribe of the name prefixed to it.

VOL. II. p


I have been much pleased with it throughout, but am
most taken with the peculiar delicacy of some of the
sonnets. I shall put them up among my poetical

Your obliged Servant, C. Lamb.


LetterCCCXXXIII.] December 5, 1828.

Dear B. B. — I am ashamed to receive so many nice
books from you, and to have none to send you in return.
You are always sending me some fruits or wholesome
potherbs, and mine is the garden of the Sluggard, nothing
but weeds, or scarce they. Nevertheless, if I knew how
to transmit it, I would send you Blackwood's of this month,
which contains a little drama, to have your opinion of it,
and how far I have improved, or otherwise, upon its pro-
totype. Thank you for your kind sonnet. It does me
good to see the Dedication to a Christian Bishop. I am
for a comprehension, as divines call it ; but so as that
the Church shall go a good deal more than half way over
to the silent Meeting-house. I have ever said that the
Quakers are the only professors of Christianity as I read
it in the Evangiles. I say professors : marry, as to prac-
tice, with their gaudy hot types and poetical vanities,
they are much at one with the sinful. Martin's Frontis-
piece is a very fine thing, let C. L. say what he pleases
to the contrary. Of the Poems, I like them as a volume,
better than any one of the preceding ; particularly,
"Power and Gentleness "— " The Present "—" Lady
Russell " ; with the exception that I do not like the noble
act of Curtius, true or false — one of the grand founda-
tions of old Roman patriotism — to be sacrificed to
Lady R.'s taking notes on her husband's trial. If a
thing is good, why invidiously bring it into light with
something better 1 There are too few heroic things in
this world, to admit of our marshalling them in anxious


etiquettes of precedence. Would you make a poem on
the story of Ruth (pretty story !), and then say— Ay, but
how much better is the story of Joseph and his brethren !
To go on, the stanzas to " Ohalon " want the name of
Clarkson in the body of them ; it is left to inference.
The " Battle of Gibeon " is spirited, again ; but you
sacrifice it in the last stanza to the song at Bethlehem.
Is it quite orthodox to do so 1 The first was good, you
suppose, for that dispensation. Why set the Word
against the Word? It puzzles a weak Christian. So
Watts's Psalms are an implied censure on David's. But
as long as the Bible is supposed to be an equally
divine emanation with the Testament, so long it
will stagger weaklings to have them set in opposition.
" Godiva " is delicately touched. I have always thought
it a beautiful story, characteristic of the old English
times. But I could not help amusing myself with the
thought — if Martin had chosen this subject for a frontis-
piece — there would have been in some dark corner a
white lady, white as the walker on the waves, riding
upon some mystical quadruped ; and high above would
have risen " tower above tower a massy structure high "
— the Tenterden steeples of Coventry, till the poor cross
would scarce have known itself among the clouds ; and
far above them all the distant Clint Hills peering over
chimney-pots, piled up, Ossa-on-Olympus fashion, till the
admiring spectator (admirer of a noble deed) might have
gone look for the lady, as you must hunt for the other in
the lobster. But M[artin] should be made royal archi-
tect. What palaces he would pile ! But then, what
parliamentary grants to make them good ! Nevertheless,
I like the frontispiece. "The Elephant" is pleasant;
and I am glad you are getting into a wider scope of
subjects. There may be too much, not religion, but too

many good words in a book, till it becomes, as Sh

says of Religion, a rhapsody of words. I will just name,
that you have brought in the " Song to the Shepherds "
in four or five, if not six places. Now this is not good


economy. The " Enoch " is fine ; and here I can sacrifice
" Elijah " to it, because 'tis illustrative only, and not
disparaging of the latter prophet's departure. I like this
best in the book. Lastly, I much like the " Heron "; 'tis
exquisite. Know you Lord Thurlow's Sonnet to a bird
of that sort on Lacken water 1 If not, 'tis indispensable
I send it you, with my Blackwood, if you tell me how
best to send them. "Fludyer" is pleasant, — you are
getting gay and Hoodish. What is the enigma 1 Money 1
If not, I fairly confess I am foiled, and sphynx must
. . . eat me. Four times I've tried to write " eat me,"
and the blotting pen turns it into cat me. And now I
will take my leave with saying, I esteem thy verses, like
thy present, honour thy frontispicer, and right reverence
thy patron and dedicatee, and am, dear B. B.,

Yours heartily, C. Lamb.

Our joint kindest loves to A. K. and your daughter.


Letter CCCXXXIV.] [December 1828.]

My dear three C.'s — The way from Southgate to
Colney Hatch thro' the unfrequentedest Blackberry paths
that ever concealed their coy bunches from a truant
Citizen, we have accidentally fallen upon — the giant Tree
by Cheshunt we have missed, but keep your chart to go
by, unless you will be our conduct. At present I am
disabled from further flights than just to skirt round
Clay Hill, with a peep at the fine backwoods, by strained
tendons, got by skipping a skipping rope at 53 — Jiei mihi
non sum qualis ; but do you know, now you come to
talk of walks, a ramble of four hours or so — there and
back — to the willow and lavender plantations at the
south corner of Northaw Church by a well dedicated to
Saint Claridge, with the clumps of finest moss rising
hillock fashion, which I counted to the number of two
hundred and sixty, and are called " Claridge's covers,"


the tradition being that that saint entertained so many
angels or hermits there, upon occasion of blessing the
waters 1 The legends have set down the fruits spread
upon that occasion, and in the " Black Book of St.
Albans," some are named which are not supposed to
have been introduced into this island until a century
later. But waiving the miracle, a sweeter spot is not in
ten counties round ; you are knee-deep in clover, that is
to say, if you are not above a middling man's height ;
from this paradise, making a day of it, you go to see the
ruins of an old convent at March Hall, where some of
the painted glass is yet whole and fresh.

If you do not know this, you do not know the
capabilities of this country ; you may be said to be a
stranger to Enfield. I found it out one morning in
October, and so delighted was I that I did not get home
before dark, well a-paid.

I shall long to show you the Clump Meadows, as
they are called — we might do that without reaching
March Hall ; when the days are longer we might take
both, and come home by Forest Cross, so skirt over
Pennington and the cheerful little village of Churchley
to Forty Hill.

But these are dreams till summer; meanwhile we
should be most glad to see you for a lesser excursion —
say Sunday next, you and another, or if more, best on a
week-day with a notice, but o' Sundays, as far as a leg
of mutton goes, most welcome.

We can squeeze out a bed. Edmonton coaches run
every hour, and my pen has run out its quarter. Heartily


Letter CCCXXXV.] January 19, 1829.

My dear Procter — I am ashamed not to have taken
the drift of your pleasant letter, which I find to have
been pure invention ; but jokes are not suspected in


Boeotian Enfield. We are plain people, and our talk is
of corn and cattle and Waltham markets. Besides, I
was a little out of sorts when I received it. The fact is,
I am involved in a case which has fretted me to death,
and I have no reliance except on you to extricate me. I
am sure you will give me your best legal advice, having
no professional friend besides but Robinson and Talfourd,
with neither of whom, at present, I am on the best of
terms. My brother's widow left a will, made during the
lifetime of my brother, in which I am named sole executor,
by which she bequeaths forty acres of arable property,
which it seems she held under covert baron, unknown to
my brother, to the heirs of the body of Elizabeth Dowden,
her married daughter by a first husband, in fee simple,
recoverable by fine ; invested property, mind, for there
is the difficulty ; subject to leet and quit-rent ; in short,
worded in the most guarded terms, to shut out the
property from Isaac Dowden, the husband. Intelligence
has just come of the death of this person in India, where
he made a will, entailing this property (which seemed
entangled enough already) to the heirs of his body that
should not be born of his wife ; for it seems by the law
in India, natural children can recover. They have put
the cause into Exchequer process here, removed by certio-
rari from the native courts ; and the question is, whether
I should, as executor, try the cause here, or again re-remove
it to the Supreme Sessions at Bangalore, which I under-
stand I can, or plead a hearing before the Privy Council
here. As it involves all the little property of Elizabeth
Dowden, I am anxious to take the fittest steps, and what
may be least expensive. For God's sake assist me, for
the case is so embarrassed that it deprives me of sleep and
appetite. M. Burney thinks there is a case like it in
chap. 170, sec. 5, in " Fearn's Contingent Remainders."
Pray read it over with him dispassionately, and let me
have the result. The complexity lies in the questionable
power of the husband to alienate in usum enfeoffments
whereof he was only collaterally seized, etc.


I had another favour to beg, which is the beggarliest
of beggings : a few lines of verse for a young friend's
album (six will be enough). M. Buruey will tell you who
she is I want 'em for. A girl of gold. Six lines — make

'em eight — signed Barry C . They need not be very

good, as I chiefly want 'em as a foil to mine. But I shall
be seriously obliged by any refuse scrap. We are in the
last ages of the world, when St. Paul prophesied that
women should be "headstrong, lovers of their own wills,
having albums." I fled hither to escape the albumean
persecution, and had not been in my new house twenty-
four hours when the daughter of the next house came in
with a friend's album to beg a contribution, and the
following day intimated she had one of her own. Two
more have sprung up since. " If I take the wings of the
morning " and fly unto the uttermost parts of the earth,
there will albums be. New Holland has albums. But
the age is to be complied with. M. B. will tell you the
sort of girl I request the ten lines for. Somewhat of a
pensive cast, what you admire. The lines may come
before the law question, as that cannot be determined
before Hilary Term, and I wish your deliberate judgment
on that. The other may be flimsy and superficial. And
if you have not burnt your returned letter, pray resend
it me, as a monumental token of my stupidity. 'Twas a
little unthinking of you to touch upon a sore subject.
Why, by dabbling in those accursed Annuals I have
become a byword of infamy all over the kingdom. I
have sicken'd decent women for asking me to write in
albums. There be dark "jests" abroad, Master Corn-
wall, and some riddles may live to be cleared up. And
'tisn't every saddle is put on the right steed. And
forgeries and false Gospels are not peculiar to the age
following the Apostles. And some tubs don't stand on
their right bottom, which is all I wish to say in these
ticklish times ; and so your servant, Ch. Lamb.


Letter CCCXXXVL] January 22, 1829.

Don't trouble yourself about the verses. Take 'em
coolly as they come. Any day between this and Mid-
summer 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 extrac-
tion. Ten lines about the blue sky of her country will
do, as 'tis her foible to be proud of it. — Item : I have
made her a tolerable Latinist. She is called Emma
Isola. I approve heartily of your turning your four
vols, into a lesser compass. 'Twill Sybillise the gold
left. I shall, I think, be in town in a few weeks, when
I will assuredly see you. I will put in here Loves to

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