Charles Lamb.

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I got on Wednesday by favour of a princess dying !

0. L.


The Garden of England,
Letter CLXVIL] December 10, 1817.

Dear J. P. 0. — I know how zealously you feel for our
friend S. T. Coleridge; and I know that you and your


family attended his lectures four or five years ago. He
is in bad health, and worse mind : and unless something
is done to lighten his mind he will soon be reduced to
his extremities ; and even these are not in the best con-
dition. I am sure that you will do for him what you
can ; but at present he seems in a mood to do for him-
self. He projects a new course, not of physic, nor of
metaphysic, nor a new course of life, but a new course of
lectures on Shakspeare and Poetry. There is no man
better qualified (always excepting number one) ; but I
am pre-engaged for a series of dissertations on India
and Indiapendence, to be completed, at the expense of
the Company, in I know not (yet) how many volumes
foolscap folio. I am busy getting up my Hindoo
mythology ; and, for the purpose, I am once more
enduring Southey's curse. To be serious, Coleridge's
state and affairs make me so; and there are particidar
reasons just now, and have been any time for the last
twenty years, why he should succeed. He will do so
with a little encouragement. I have not seen him
lately ; and he does not know that I am writing.
Yours (for Coleridge's sake) in haste, C. Lamb.


Letter CLXVIII.] December 1817.

My dear Haydon — I will come with pleasure to 22,
Lisson Grove, North, at Rosse's, half-way up, right-hand
side, if I can find it.

Yours, C. Lamb.

20, Russell Court,

Covent Garden, East.

Half-way up, next the corner,

Left-hand side.



East India House,
Letter CLXIX.] February 18, 1818.

My dear Mrs. Wordsworth — I have repeatedly taken
pen in hand to answer your kind letter. My sister
should more properly have done it, but she having failed,
I consider myself answerable for her debts. I am now
trying to do it in the midst of commercial noises, and
with a quill which seems more ready to glide into
arithmetical figures and names of gourds, cassia, carda-
moms, aloes, ginger, or tea, than into kindly responses
and friendly recollections. The reason why I cannot
write letters at home is, that I am never alone. Plato's
— (I write to W. W. now) — Plato's double-animal parted
never longed more to be reciprocally re -united in the
system of its first creation than I sometimes do to be but
for a moment single and separate. Except my morning's
walk to the office, which is like treading on sands of gold
for that reason, I am never so. I cannot walk home
from office but some officious friend offers his unwelcome
courtesies to accompany me. All the morning I am
pestered. I could sit and gravely cast up sums in great
books, or compare sum with sum, and write "paid"
against this, and "unpaid" against t'other, and yet
reserve in some corner of my mind "some darling
thoughts all my own," — faint memory of some passage
in a book, or the tone of an absent friend's voice — a
snatch of Miss Burrell's singing, or a gleam of Fanny
Kelly's divine plain face. The two operations might be
going on at the same time without thwarting, as the
sun's two motions (earth's, I mean), or as I sometimes
turn round till I am giddy, in my back parlour, while
my sister is walking longitudinally in the front ; or as
the shoulder of veal twists round with the spit, while the
smoke wreathes up the chimney. But there are a set of
amateurs of the Belles Lettres — the gay science — who


come to me as a sort of rendezvous, putting questions of
criticism, of British Institutions, Lalla Rookhs, etc. —
what Coleridge said at the lecture last night — who have
the form of reading men, hut, for any possible use read-
ing can be to them, but to talk of, might as well have
been Ante-Cadmeans born, or have lain sucking out the
sense of an Egyptian hieroglyph as long as the pyramids
will last, before they should find it. These pests worrit
me at business, and in all its intervals, perplexing my
accounts, poisoning my little salutary warming- time at
the fire, puzzling my paragraphs if I take a newspaper,
cramming in between my own free thoughts and a column
of figures, which had come to an amicable compromise
but for them. Their noise ended, one of them, as I said,
accompanies me home, lest I should be solitary for a
moment; he at length takes his welcome leave at the
door ; up I go, mutton on table, hungry as hunter, hope
to forget my cares, and bury them in the agreeable
abstraction of mastication ; knock at the door, in comes
Mr. Hazlitt, or Mr. Martin Burney, or Morgan Demi-
gorgon, or my brother, or somebody, to prevent my
eating alone — a process absolutely necessary to my poor
wretched digestion. the pleasure of eating alone ! —
eating my dinner alone ! let me think of it. But in they
come, and make it absolutely necessary that I should
open a bottle of orange ; for my meat turns into stone
when any one dines with me, if I have not wine. Wine
can mollify stones ; then that wine turns into acidity,
acerbity, misanthropy, a hatred of my interrupters —
(God bless 'em ! I love some of 'em dearly), and with the
hatred, a still greater aversion to their going away. Bad
is the dead sea they bring upon me, choking and deaden-
ing, but worse is the deader dry sand they leave me on,
if they go before bed-time. Come never, I would say to
these spoilers of my dinner ; but if you come, never go !
The fact is, this interruption does not happen very often ;
but every time it comes by surprise, that present bane of
my life, orange wine, with all its dreary stifling conse-


quences, follows. Evening company I should always
like had I any mornings, but I am saturated with human
faces (divine forsooth !) and voices all the golden morning ;
and five evenings in a week would be as much as I should
covet to be in company ; but I assure you that is a won-
derful week in which I can get two, or one to myself.
I am never 0. L., but always C. L. and Co. He who
thought it not good for man to be alone, preserve me
from the more prodigious monstrosity of being never by
myself ! I forget bed-time, but even there these sociable
frogs clamber up to annoy me. Once a week, generally
some singular evening that, being alone, I go to bed at
the hour I ought always to be a-bed ; just close to my
bedroom window is the club-room of a public -house,
where a set of singers, I take them to be chorus-singers
of the two theatres (it must be both of them), begin their
orgies. They are a set of fellows (as I conceive) who,
being limited by their talents to the burthen of the song
at the play-houses, in revenge have got the common
popular airs by Bishop, or some cheap composer, arranged
for choruses ; that is, to be sung all in chorus. At least
I never can catch any of the text of the plain song,
nothing but the Babylonish choral howl at the tail on't.
"That fury being quenched" — the howl, I mean — a
burden succeeds of shouts and clapping, and knocking of
the table. At length overtasked nature drops under it,
and escapes for a few hours into the society of the sweet
silent creatures of dreams, which go away with mocks
and mows at cockcrow. And then I think of the words
Christabel's father used (bless me, I have dipt in the
wrong ink !) to say every morning by way of variety

when he awoke :

" Every knell, the Baron saith,
Wakes us up to a world of death " —

or something like it. All I mean by this senseless inter-
rupted tale, is, that by my central situation I am a little
over-companied. Not that I have any animosity against
the good creatures that are so anxious to drive away the


harpy solitude from me. I like 'em, and cards, and a
cheerful glass ; but I mean merely to give you an idea,
between office confinement and after-office society, how
little time I can call my own. I mean only to draw a
picture, not to make an inference. I would not that I
know of have it otherwise. I only wish sometimes I
could exchange some of my faces and voices for the faces
and voices which a late visitation brought most welcome,
and carried away, leaving regret, but more pleasure, even
a kind of gratitude, at being so often favoured with that
kind northern visitation. My London faces and noises
don't hear me — I mean no disrespect, or I should explain
myself, that instead of their return 220 times a year, and
the return of W. W., etc., seven times in 104 weeks,
some more equal distribution might be found. I have
scarce room to put in Mary's kind love, and my poor
name, 0. Lamb.

W. H. goes on lecturing against W. W. and making
copious use of quotations from said W. W. to give a zest
to said lectures. S. T. C. is lecturing with success. I
have not heard either him or H., but I dined with S. T. 0.
at Gillman's a Sunday or two since, and he was well and
in good spirits. I mean to hear some of the course ; but
lectures are not much to my taste, whatever the lecturer
may be. If read, they are dismal flat, and you can't
think why you are brought together to hear a man read
his works, which you could read so much better at leisure
yourself. If delivered extempore, I am always in pain
lest the gift of utterance should suddenly fail the orator
in the middle, as it did me at the dinner given in honour
of me at the London tavern. " Gentlemen," said I, and
there I stopped; the rest my feelings were under the
necessity of supplying. Mrs. Wordsworth will go on,
kindly haunting us with visions of seeing the lakes once
more, which never can be realised. Between us there is
a great gulf, not of inexplicable moral antipathies and
distances, I hope, as there seemed to be between me and


that gentleman concerned in the Stamp Office, that I so
strangely recoiled from at Haydon's. I think I had an
instinct that he was the head of an office. I hate all
such people — accountants' deputy accountants. The dear
abstract notion of the East India Company, as long as
she is unseen, is pretty, rather poetical ; but as she
makes herself manifest by the persons of such beasts, I
loathe and detest her as the scarlet what-do-you-call-her
of Babylon. I thought, after abridging us of all our
red-letter days, they had done their worst; but I was
deceived in the length to which heads of offices, those
true liberty-haters, can go. They are the tyrants ; not
Ferdinand, nor Nero. By a decree passed this week,
they have abridged us of the immemorially- observed
custom of going at one o'clock of a Saturday, the little
shadow of a holiday left us. Dear W. W., be thankful
for liberty.

To Messrs. OLLIER.

Letter CLXX.] June 18, 1818.

Dear Sir (whichever opens it) — I am going off to
Birmingh™. I find my books, whatever faculty of selling
they may have (I wish they had more for {*%£} sake),
are admirably adapted for giving away. You have been
bounteous. Six more, and I shall have satisfied all just
claims. Am I taking too great a liberty in begging you
to send 4 as follows, and reserve 2 for me when I come
home? That will make 31. Thirty-one times 12 is 372
shillings — eighteen pounds twelve shillings ! ! ! But here
are my friends, to whom, if you could transmit them, as
I shall be away a month, you will greatly
Oblige the obliged,

C. Lamb.

Mr. Ayrton, James Street, Buckingham Gate;
Mr. Alsager, Suffolk Street East, Southwark, by
Horsemonger Lane ;


And in one parcel,
directed to R. Southey, Esq., Keswick, Cumberland :

One for R. S. ;

And one for W m . Wordsworth, Esq.

If you will be kind enough simply to write " From the
Author " in all 4, you will still further, etc.

Either Longman or Murray is in the frequent habit of
sending books to Southey, and will take charge of the
parcel. It will be as well to write in at the beginning
thus :

" R. Southey, Esq. From the Author."

" W. Wordsworth, Esq. From the Author."

Then, if I can find the remaining 2 left for me at
Russell S* when I return, rather than encroach any more
on the heap, I will engage to make no more new friends
ad infinitum, yourselves being the last.

Yours truly, C. L.

I think Southey will give us a lift in that damn'd
Quarterly. I meditate an attack upon that Cobbler
Gifford, which shall appear immediately after any favour-
able mention which S. may make in the Quarterly. It
can't, in decent gratitude, appear before.


Letter CLXXL] Monday, October 26, 1818.

Dear Southey — I am pleased with your friendly
remembrances of my little things. I do not know
whether I have done a silly thing or a wise one, but
it is of no great consequence. I run no risk, and
care for no censures. My bread and cheese is stable
as the foundations of Leadenhall Street, and if it hold
out as long as the "foundations of our Empire in the
East," I shall do pretty well. You and W. W. should
have had your presentation copies more ceremoniously
sent, but I had no copies when I was leaving town


for my holidays, and rather than delay, commissioned
my bookseller to send them thus nakedly. By not hear-
ing from W. W. or you, I began to be afraid Murray
had not sent them. I do not see S. T. 0. so often as I
could wish. He never comes to me ; and though his
host and hostess are very friendly, it puts me out of my
way to go see one person at another person's house. It
was the same when he resided at Morgan's. Not but
they also were more than civil ; but, after all, one feels
so welcome at one's own house. Have you seen poor
Miss Betham's "Vignettes"? Some of them, the second
particularly, " To Lucy," are sweet and good as herself,
while she was herself. She is in some measure abroad
again. I am better than I deserve to be. The hot
weather has been such a treat ! Mary joins in this little
corner in kindest remembrances to you all. 0. L.


Letter CLXXII.] December 24, 1818.

My dear Coleridge — I have been in a state of incessant
hurry ever since the receipt of your ticket. It found me
incapable of attending you, it being the night of Kenney's
new comedy, which has utterly failed. You know my
local aptitudes at such a time ; I have been a thorough
rendezvous for all consultations. My head begins to
clear up a little, but it has had bells in it. Thank you
kindly for your ticket, though the mournful prognostic
which accompanies it certainly renders its permanent pre-
tensions less marketable ; but I trust to hear many a
course yet. You excepted Christmas week, by which I
understood next week ; I thought Christmas week was
that which Christmas Sunday ushered in. We are sorry
it never lies in your way to come to us ; but, dear
Mahomet, we will come to you. Will it be convenient
to all the good people at Highgate, if we take a stage up,
not next Sunday, but the following, viz., 3d January,


1819 ? Shall we be too late to catch a skirt of the old
out-goer 1 How the years crumble from under us ! We
shall hope to see you before then ; but, if not, let us
know if then will be convenient. Can we secure a coach

Believe me ever yours, C. Lamb.

I have but one holiday, which is Christmas Day itself
nakedly : no pretty garnish and fringes of St. John's Day,
Holy Innocents, etc., that used to bestud it all around in
the calendar. Improbe labor / I write six hours every
day in this candle-light fog-den at Leadenhall.


Letter CLXXIIL] [1818.]

Dear C. — I steal a few minutes from a painful and
laborious avocation, aggravated by the absence of some
that should assist me, to say how extremely happy we
should be to see you return clean as the cripple out of
the pool of Bethesda. That damn'd scorbutic — how came
you by it 1 . . . You are now fairly a damaged lot ; as
Venn would say, One Scratched. You might play Scrub
in the Beaux' Stratagem. The best post your friends
could promote you to would be a scrubbing post. " Aye,
there's the rub." I generally get tired after the third
rubber. But you, I suppose, tire twice the number
every day. First, there's your mother, she begins after
breakfast; then your little sister takes it up about
Nuncheon time, till her bones crack, and some kind
neighbor comes in to lend a hand, scrub, scrub, scrub,
and nothing will get the intolerable itch (for I am per-
suaded it is the itch) out of your penance-doing bones.
A cursed thing just at this time, when everybody wants
to get out of town as well as yourself. Of course, I
don't mean to reproach you. You can't help it, the
whoreson tingling in your blood. I dare say you would

VOL. II. c


if you could. But don't you think you could do a little

work, if you earned as much as D does before 12

o'Clock. Hang him, there he sits at that cursed Times —
and latterly he has had the Berkshire Chronicle sent him
every Tuesday and Friday to get at the County news.
Why, that letter which you favored him with, appears
to me to be very well and clearly written. The man
that wrote that might make out warrants, or write
Committees. There was as much in quantity written as
would have filled four volumes of the Indigo appendix ;
and when we are so busy as we are, every little helps.
But I throw out these observations merely as innuendos.
By the way there's a Doctor Lamert in Leadenhall Street,
who sells a mixture to purify the blood. No. 114
Leadenhall Street, near the market. But it is necessary
that his Patients should be on the spot, that he may see
them every day. There's a sale of Indigo advertised for
July, forty thousand lots — 10,000 chests only, but they
sell them in quarter chests which makes 40,000. By
the bye a droll accident happened here on Thursday,
Wadd and Plumley got quarrelling about a kneebuckle
of Hyde's which the latter affirmed not to be standard ;
Wadd was nettled at this, and said something reflecting
on tradesmen and shopkeepers, and Plumley struck him.
. . . Friend is married; he has married a Roman Catholic,
which has offended his family, but they have come to an
agreement, that the boys (if they have children) shall be
bred up in the father's religion, and the girls in the
mother's, which I think equitable enough. ... I am
determined my children shall be brought up in their
father's religion, if they can find out what it is. Bye is
about publishing a volume of poems which he means to
dedicate to Matthie. Methinks he might have found a
better Meceenas. They are chiefly amatory, others of
them stupid, the greater part very far below mediocrity ;
but they discover much tender feeling; they are most
like Petrarch of any foreign Poet, or what we might
have supposed Petrarch would have written if Petrarch


had been born a fool ! Grinwallows is made master of the
ceremonies at Dandelion, near Margate ; of course he gives
up the office. "My Harry" makes so many faces that
it is impossible to sit opposite him without smiling.
Dowley danced a Quadrille at Court on the Queen's
birthday with Lady Thynne, Lady Desbrow, and Lady
Louisa Manners. It is said his performance was graceful
and airy. Cabel has taken an unaccountable fancy into
his head that he is Fuller, member for Sussex. He
imitates his blunt way of speaking. I remain much the
same as you remember, very universally beloved and
esteemed, possessing everybody's good-will, and trying at
least to deserve it; the same steady adherence to principle,
and correct regard for truth, which always marked my
conduct, marks it still. If I am singular in anything it
is in too great a squeamishness to anything that remotely
looks like a falsehood. I am call'd Old Honesty ; some-
times Upright Telltruth, Esq., and I own it tickles my
vanity a little. The Committee have formally abolish'd
all holydays whatsoever — for which may the Devil, who
keeps no holydays, have them in his eternal burning
workshop. When I say holydays, I mean Calendar
holydays, for at Medley's instigation they have agreed to
a sort of scale by which the Chief has power to give
leave of absence, viz. : —

Those who have been 50 years and upwards to be
absent 4 days in the year, but not without leave
of the Chief.

35 years and upward, 3 days,

25 years and upward, 2 days,

18 years and upward, 1 day,
which I think very Liberal. We are also to sign our name
when we go as well as when we come, and every quarter
of an hour we sign, to show that we are here. Mins and
Gardner take it in turn to bring round the book —
here is Mins with the Book — no, it's Gardner — " What's
that, G.I" "The appearance book, Sir" (with a gentle
inclination of his head, and smiling). " What the


devil, is the quarter come again 1 " It annoys Dodwell
amazingly ; he sometimes has to sign six or seven times
while he is reading the Newspaper —

[ Unfinished.]


Letter CLXXI V.] May 1819.

Dear Wordsworth — I received a copy of " Peter Bell "
a week ago, and I hope the author will not be offended
if I say I do not much relish it. The humour, if it is
meant for humour, is forced ; and then the price ! — six-
pence would have been dear for it. Mind, I do not mean
your "Peter Bell," but a "Peter Bell" which preceded
it about a week, and is in every bookseller's shop window
in London, the type and paper nothing differing from the
true one, the preface signed W. W., and the supplementary
preface quoting as the author's words an extract from
the supplementary preface to the "Lyrical Ballads." Is
there no law against these rascals 1 I would have this
Lambert Simnel whipt at the cart's tail. Then there is
Rogers ! He has been re-writing your Poem of the Strid,
and publishing it at the end of his " Human Life." Tie
him up to the cart, hangman, while you are about it.
Who started the spurious "P. B." I have not heard.
I should guess, one of the sneering brothers, the vile
Smiths ; but I have heard no name mentioned. " Peter
Bell " (not the mock one) is excellent ; for its matter, I
mean. I cannot say that the style of it quite satisfies
me. It is too lyrical. The auditors to whom it is feigned
to be told, do not arride me. I would rather it had
been told me, the reader, at once. " Heartleap Well " is
the tale for me ; in matter as good as this ; in manner
infinitely before it, in my poor judgment. Why did you
not add " The Waggoner '"? — Have I thanked you though,
yet, for "Peter Bell"? I would not not have it for a
good deal of money. C is very foolish to scribble


about books. Neither his tongue nor fingers are very
retentive. But I shall not say anything to him about it.
He would only begin a very long story, with a very long
face ; and I see him far too seldom to teaze him with
affairs of business or conscience when I do see him. He
never comes near our house ; and when we go to see him
he is generally writing, or thinking. He is writing in
his study till the dinner comes, and that is scarce over
before the stage summons us away. The mock " P. B."
had only this effect on me, that after twice reading it
over in hopes to find something diverting in it, I reached
your two books off the shelf, and set into a steady reading
of them, till I had nearly finished both before I went to
bed : the two of your last edition, of course, I mean :
and in the morning I awoke determining to take down
the Excursion. I wish the scoundrel imitator could
know this. But why waste a wish on him 1 I do not
believe that paddling about with a stick in a pond, and
fishing up a dead author, whom his intolerable wrongs
had driven to that deed of desperation, would turn the
heart of one of these obtuse literary Bells. There is no
Cock for such Peters ; — damn 'em ! I am glad this
aspiration came upon the red ink line. It is more of a
bloody curse. I have delivered over your other presents
to Alsager and G. D. A., I am sure, will value it, and
be proud of the hand from which it came. To G. D. a
poem is a poem. His own as good as anybody's, and
(God bless him !) anybody's as good as his own ; for I
do not think he has the most distant guess of the possi-
bility of one poem being better than another. The gods,
by denying him the very faculty itself of discrimination,
have effectually cut off every seed of envy in his bosom.
But with envy, they excited curiosity also ; and if you
wish the copy again, which you destined for him, I think

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