Copyright
Charles Lamb.

The letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) online

. (page 26 of 31)
Online LibraryCharles LambThe letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) → online text (page 26 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The "Spiritual Law" is a short poem on the text "But
the word is very nigh thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart,
that thou may'st do it."

Whipping the Greek drama upon the back of Genesis. In
some verses on Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac, Barton
had written —

" Brief colloquy, yet more sublime
To every feeling heart
Than all the boast of classic time

Or Drama's proudest art ;
Far, far beyond the Grecian stage,
Or Poesy's most glowing page."

Letter CCLXXIII (p. 142).—" The Religion of the Actors."
A little paper by Lamb, printed in the new Monthly Magazine
for May of this year.

Letter CCLXXIV (p. 144). — Your nephew's pleasant book.
Henry Nelson Coleridge published this year with John Murray,
Six Months in the West Indies in 1S25, the narrative of a journey
taken by the young man in company with his uncle for the
benefit of his health. It contains pleasant and graphic descrip-



332 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

tions of the various places visited, and is written throughout in
a witty vein, and in a tone of rather ostentatious Epicureanism,
which no doubt led to Coleridge's strictures on its morality.
The style is curiously unlike Lamb's, but exhibits many signs
of the influence of the Sentimental Journey, as Lamb truly
remarks. But the little volume " saddens into excellent sense "
towards the end, in a serious discussion of the then burning
question of "West Indian Slavery.
F. K. Fanny Kelly.

Letter CCLXXVIII (p. 147). — The likeness which accom-
panies this letter was obviously the well-known etching on copper
by Mr. Brook Pulham.

Letter CCLXXIX (p. 148).— Mr. Dibdin was staying at
Hastings, as his delicate health often obliged him to do, and
was lodging at a baker's, to which fact allusions will be dis-
covered in this and the following letters. The theme of the
little church at Hollington is again the subject of infinite varia-
tions. " Blucher Kow " is a thing of the past, and has merged
into a thoroughfare bearing a quite other name.

Peter Fin. The name of a character played by Liston.

Letter CCLXXX (p. 150).— Lamb and his friend Dibdin
were given to exchanging letters in rhyme. The "Dibdin
Muse " seems to have favoured, in various degree, all members
of the family, and we find Lamb retorting that he too came of
a poetical stock, and adducing his father, old John Lamb, the
Lovel of the Essay on " The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple."
See that Essay, and my notes upon it. Poor Dibdin had
apparently allowed "plan, sir" to rhyme to " stanza " in the
effusion which called forth this reply. "Small Bohemia," or
" Little Bohemia," remains to this day, I believe, the name of
a district outside Hastings.

Letter CCLXXXI (p. 152). — The Quotidian. Hone's Every
Day Book. Lamb had published some "Quatrains" to Hone
in the London Magazine, which were reprinted in the Every
Day Book of July 9, 1826. Hone appended to them a poetical
reply in the same number, headed " Quatorzians." For Lamb's
verses, see Poems, Plays, and Essays, p. 90. They begin —
"I like you and your book, ingenious Hone ! "

Letter CCLXXXII (p. 153).— Another of those wild and
grotesque effusions, written to amuse the invalid during his
enforced loneliness at a watering-place. Mr. Dibdin's nephew
informs me that his uncle was remarkable for his genuine piety
and religious habits, which makes the banter even more extra-
vagant. " Old Ranking" was, of course, one of the firm in the
Old Jewry, young Dibdin's employers.



NOTES. 333

Letter CCLXXXIII (p. 155). — The Garrick plays. Lamb
was laboriously going through this collection, bequeathed by
Garrick to the nation, for the purpose of publishing selections
from them in his friend Hone's Table Book.

I may just refer to Lamb's expression, "dross matters," —
matters, that is, touching money. In previous editions of these
letters, readings have varied curiously from "these matters"
to "dress matters."

Letter CCLXXXIV (p. 157). — Sacred Specimens. Mr.
Mitford published this year his Sacred Specimens : Selected from
Early English Poets.

Hood's book is mighty clever. Whims and Oddities. Second
Series.

Letter CCLXXXV (p. 158).— Talfourd misdated this letter
by a year, placing it in 1826. "Poor Norris" was Randal
Norris, Sub-Treasurer of the Inner Temple, and one of the
earliest and most loyal friends of Lamb and his parents. He
died this month, and was buried in the Temple churchyard.
Norris was connected through his wife with the Hertfordshire
village of Widford, which Lamb knew so well. It adjoined
Blakesware.

Letter CCLXXXVII (p. 160).— This letter was clearly
written for publication and appeared in Hone's Table, Book (i.
3). It served as preface to the selections which thenceforth
were given weekly.

Letter CCLXXXIX (p. 162). — The last Extract. See
Table Book, i. 357. In the passage from Porter's " Two angry
"Women of Abingdon " the printer had given the line referred
to—

" Blush forth golden hair and glorious red,"

ruining at once sense and metre.

Letter CCXC (p. 162). — Your picture. Haydon's "Alex-
ander," exhibited in the Royal Academy this year. See
Haydon's Diary, ii. 149.

The two lordlike Bucks were, according to Haydon, who first
printed this note of Lamb's, the Duke of Devonshire and Agar
Ellis.

Letter CCXCI (p. 163). — This letter was addressed to
Novello in the pages of Hone's Table Book (i. 514). It followed
the publication (in the " Garrick" Series) of the beautiful lyric
from George Peele's Arraignment of Paris, beginning —

* ' Fair and fair and twice so fair,
As fair as any may he. "



334 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

Lamb headed his letter " To my esteemed friend and excel-
lent musician, V. N., Esq."

Letter CCXCII (p. 164). — A correspondent in your last
number. See Table Boole, i. 803. This letter was signed
"The Veiled Spirit." Lamb's reply appeared in the next
number (ii. 10).

Letter CCXCIII (p. 165). — This letter is here printed for
the first time in its entirety from the original manuscript. The
first paragraph, hitherto omitted, tells an amusing and charac-
teristic story of Lamb and Thomas Hood.

The picture verses were some lines written by Lamb to
accompany the gift to Barton of a coloured print, in a frame.
The lines were afterwards published in his Album Verses,
1830, and will be found in my edition {Poems, Plays, and
Essays, p. 102).

Bernard Barton delighted to cover his walls with such
pictures as he could afford, respecting which a pleasant passage
will be found in Edward Fitzgerald's Memoir. Lamb had
somewhere picked up a coloured print representing a little boy
learning to read at his mother's knee, and showing many
obvious signs of childish obstinacy. For this picture Lamb
had taken down from his own walls an old frame, considerably
too large for it ; but by carefully coating the superfluous margin
of glass with cobbler's-wax, he and his friend Hood had suc-
ceeded in giving the whole a reputable appearance. It was on
suggesting the use of this frame that Hood observed that
Barton would be " sure to like it, because it was broad-brimmed."
In writing his verses Lamb, remembering the jest, ended as
follows : —

"For the Frame —

'Tis not ill-suited to the same ;

Oak-carved, not gilt, for fear of falling ;

Old-fashioned, plain, yet not appalling ;

And broad-brimmed, as the Owner's Calling."

The last line, Lamb here requests Bernard Barton to expunge.
When he printed the poem three years afterwards in Album
Verses, he retained the line, but with a modification —

"And sober, as the Owner's Calling."

The print, in its ill-fitting frame, still hangs over the mantel-
piece in Mrs. Fitzgerald's (Lucy Barton's) drawing-room. The
original manuscript, with the last line carefully erased with
Barton's "best ivory-handled," is, by her generous kindness,
in the possession of the editor. The picture has yet one more
poetical association. It forms the subject of some pretty verses



NOTES. 335

by Barton, in his New Year's Eve, and other Poems, 1828,
entitled "Fireside Quatrains to Charles Lamb."

Letter CCXCIV (p. 167).— In Hone's Table Book (ii. 55)
appeared a sonnet of Lamb's addressed to Miss Kelly, ' ' on her
excellent Performance of Blindness in the revived opera of
Arthur and Emmeline." Hence this letter.

Letter CCXCV (p. 167).— First printed by Mr. P. G.
Patmore in My Friends and Acquaintance (1854).

Dash was a dog that had been given to Lamb by Thomas
Hood. Mr. Patmore has much to tell of this roving animal,
who ultimately was transferred to Mr. Patmore's keeping. See
My Friends and Acquaintance, vol. i. p. 29 : —
"Ifhe bring but a relict away,
lie is happy, nor heard to complain. "

See Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, "Absence" —

' ' The pilgrim that journeys all day
To visit some far-distant shrine,
If he bear but a relique away
Is happy, nor heard to repine."

Letter CCXCVI (p. 169). — I am busy with a farce in two
acts. The Intruding Widow, a dramatic poem founded on Mr.
Crabbe's tale of The Confidant." See Poems, Plays, and
Essays. Ultimately published in Blackwood's Magazine.

Letter CCXCVII (p. 171).— Sir John Stoddart, Chief-
Justice at Malta. See Letter LXXIX. in vol i., and note.

Fearn's " Anti-Tooke." — Anti-Tooke: or, an Analysis of
Language. (London, 1824.)

Letter CCXCVIII (p. 172). — My engraving. The etching
on copper by Brook Pulham.

i" had my Blakesware. See Elia Essay, " Blakesmoor in
Hertfordshire," and notes upon it, in this edition. The essay
was first published in the London Magazine.

Letter CCXCIX (p. 174). — The reference here is to Lamb's
contributions to the Table Book of extracts from the Garrick
plays. Hone felt deeply the kindness of Lamb and his sister
during his struggling career. In dedicating to them his Every
Day Book, he says : — " How can I forget your and Miss Lamb's
sympathy and kindness when glooms overmastered me, and that
your pen sparkled in the book when my mind was in clouds
and darkness. These 'trifles,' as each of you would call
them, are benefits scored upon my heart."

Letter CCC (p. 174). — Barton had been sending verses for



336 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

Emma Isola's album. Respecting Mr. Eraser's projected album,
see note to Letter CCCXV.

" Future Lord Byrons and sweet L. E. L.'s." This is a line
from some verses on albums, which have been attributed, I
think on insufficient grounds, to Lamb himself.

My tragi-comcdy. The Intruding Widow.

Your Drummonds. Lamb uses the name of one famous firm
of bankers to indicate Barton's employers, the Alexanders.

En passant. I despair of interpreting Lamb's attempts at
the French language. Talfourd, equally hopeless, omitted the
last sentence, but I restore it from the original manuscript.

Letter CCCI (p. 176).— See Table Book, ii. 287, "Past,
Present, and Future. Extemporaneous Lines, written to oblige
a young Friend who suggested the Topic." Hone signed his
own contributions with a *. In the poem occur these lines, to
which Lamb specially refers : —

"Time, that faithful tutor,
Were I but teachable, might show the Future
As the Present is ; and yet I paint it
Teeming with joy. "

Letter CCCIV (p. 178).— Mr. Watts. Alaric A. Watts,
the editor of various albums and keepsakes.

" Lord, what good hours do we keep!"
From a poem by Charles Cotton, quoted in the Complete Angler.
A feeble counter -action thro' the Table Book of last
Saturday. We must suppose there had been some critical
attacks upon Hood's " Plea of the Midsummer Fairies " (1827),
for Lamb contributed to the Table Book a prose version of a
portion of that poem, under the title, "The Defeat of Time:
or a Tale of the Fairies" {Table Book, ii. 335). After para-
phrasing the earlier part of the poem, Lamb breaks off with
the following postscript : — " What particular endearments
passed between the Fairies and their Poet passes my pencil to
delineate ; but if you are curious to be informed, I must refer
you, gentle reader, to the 'Plea of the Fairies,' a most agreeable
poem lately put forth by my friend Thomas Hood ; of the first
half of which the above is nothing but a meagre and a harsh
prose abstract. Farewell. (Elia.) The words of Mercury are
harsh after the songs of Apollo."

Letter CCCVI (p. 181).— Mr. Moxon. The earliest men-
tion, save in a letter of the June preceding, of one afterwards
to be Lamb's friend and publisher, and the husband of Emma
Isola. He was then a young man of six-and-twenty.

Letter CCCVII (p. 181).— Dash had been made over to



NOTES. 337

the care of the Patmores, having been found by the Lambs
"intractable and wild."

I've sent him tioo poems. One qf these was the poem, "On
an infant dying as soon as born," written at the request of Mrs.
Hood on the death of her first child. See Poems, Plays, and
Essays, p. 93.

Letter CCCX (p. 184).— This letter was first printed in
Mrs. Mathews's Memoirs of her husband (iii. 596). It was there
given a propos of the suggestion that had been made to Lamb,
through Barron Field, that he should write an elaborate descrip-
tion of the pictures in Mathews's famous Theatrical Portrait
Gallery.

An imitator of me. Rejected Articles was a collection of
parodies of various prose writers, by Mr. P. G. Patmore (1826),
one of the many jenx d'esprit suggested by the success of
the more famous Rejected Addresses. The first article in
the volume was a paper purporting to be by Elia, entitled " An
Un - Sentimental Journey." It was no more successful than
many other attempts to imitate a style essentially inimitable.

Letter CCCXI (p. 185).— This letter is now for the first
time printed as a whole. The original is in the possession of
the family of my friend, Mr. George Loveday of Wardington,
Banbury. Mr. Dodwell (it will be remembered) was a fellow-
clerk of Lamb's in the India House. The names indicated by
initials were other colleagues of Lamb and his correspondent.

Letter CCCXIII (p. 188). — Leigh Hunt would appear to
have desired a portrait of Lamb, as one of certain projected
illustrations for the work he had in preparation, Lord Byron
and some of his Contemporaries: with Recollections of the
Author's Life and of his Visit to Italy. 1828. The book ulti-
mately appeared, however, without the portraits. Both the
likenesses of Lamb, here mentioned, have been since engraved.
The one by Hazlitt "in a queer dress" represents Lamb in a
nondescript costume, with a ruff.

Letter CCCXV (p. 190).— The kind "knitter in the sun!"
Lamb is thinking of the line in Twelfth Night —

"The spiusters and the knitters in the sun."

A Bijoux. So Lamb wrote, and French was not his strong
point. The Bijou for 1828, published by Pickering, was edited
by W. Fraser, afterwards editor of the Foreign Quarterly
Review. Besides the Royal contributions referred to in Lamb's
letter to Barton of 28th August 1827, the Bijou contained one
of Lamb's ("Fresh clad from Heaven, an angel bright") ; three
poems of Coleridge's — "Youth and Age," "Work without

VOL. II. Z



338 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

Hope," "The Two Founts;" and here, moreover, was first
printed Blanco AVhite's immortal sonnet, beginning "Mysteri-
ous Night !"

Letter CCCXVIII (p. 192).— Your welcome present. The
Widow's Tale, and Other Poems, by Bernard Barton, 1827.
The author prefixes a note to the "Widow's Tale," stating
that the incidents are taken from the painful but interesting
"Account of the loss of five Wesleyan missionaries and others
in the Maria mail-boat off the Island of Antigua,_ by Mrs.
Jones, the only survivor on that mournful occasion." A
woodcut on the title-page, representing three shipwrecked
travellers in extremis on a raft at sea, is, as Lamb remarks,
"a rueful lignum mortis." All the poems or passages indi-
cated by Lamb with approval are given in the memorial
volume on Barton already referred to. The "third stanza, at
p. 108/' that made Lamb long to see Van Balen, was from a
poem describing a picture by that artist, representing some
angel children leading up a lamb to the infant Saviour in His
mother's lap. The stanza, containing a simile that Lamb
thought exquisite, may well be quoted here. It is from the
"Grandsire's Tale," in which the old man relates the early
death of his grandchild : —

' ' Though some might deem her pensive, if not sad,
Yet those that knew her better, best could tell
How calmly happy, and how meekly glad

Her quiet heart in its own depths did dwell :
Like to the waters of some crystal well,

In which the stars of heaven at noon are seen,
Fancy might deem on her young spirit fell
Glimpses of light more glorious and serene
Than that of life's brief day, so heavenly was her mien."

An artist who painted me lately. Henry Meyer, referred to
in the letter to Leigh Hunt of November 1827.



CHAPTER VI.

1828-1834.

Letter CCCXX (p. 196).— Hunt's Lord B. Leigh Hunt's
Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries, etc. etc. 1828.

Hazlitt's speculative episodes. In his Life of Napoleon
Buonaparte, four volumes. 1828.

The ' ' Companion. " One of Leigh Hunt's numerous ventures
of the periodical sort. It began in Jauuary 9, and was dis-



NOTES. 339

continued on July 23, of this year 1828. A glance at the list
of contents in Mr. Alexander Ireland's valuable Bibliography
supports Lamb's complaint that there was too much in it of
Madame Pasta. One article in the Companion was " Walks
home by night in bad weather — Watchmen. "

One Clarke a schoolmaster. The father of Cowden Clarke,
the Rev. John Clarke, was a schoolmaster at Enfield. Keats, it
will be remembered, was one of his pupils.

Holmes. Edward Holmes, author of the Life of Mozart and
other musical works, was also at Mr. Clarke's school. He con-
tributed at this time articles on musical subjects to the Atlas
newspaper.

Victoria. Mary Victoria Novello, afterwards Mrs. Cowden
Clarke. The Novellos lived for a while at Shacklewell Green,
near Dalston. Cowden Clarke, it should be added, was in
early life a teacher in his father's school, which explains Lamb's
allusion to the "schoolmaster text hand."

Thurtell. Not the murderer, but his brother Thomas, who
kept the Cock Tavern in the Haymarket.

Letter CCCXXI (p. 198). — The things which Pickering has.
Certain verses of Lamb's offered to Mr. Pickering for his Bijou,
if not used, were promised to Thomas Hood, who was editing
another annual called the Gem.

Letter CCCXXIII (p. 199).— Mitford tells you of H.'s
book. Lamb apparently refers to William Hazlitt's Spirit of
the Age; or, Contemporary Portraits, published in 1825, in
which his own was one of the Portraits sketched. See Letter
to Bernard Barton of February 10, 1825.

The author of "May you like it?" The Rev. C. B. Tayler,
the vicar of Hadleigh, Suffolk, Barton's neighbour and friend.

Letter CCCXXV (p. 200). — Moxon was at this time with
Mr. Hurst, the publisher, in St. Paul's Churchyard.

Poor John Scott's Second, on occasion of the duel with Lock-
hart in 1821, in which Scott was killed.

Letter CCCXXVII (p. 201). — In 1828 a project was
formed for erecting a monument to Thomas Clarkson, on the
hill above Wade's Mill on the Buntingford Road, in Hertford-
shire, this being the spot where the resolution of devoting
his life to the abolition of the Slave Trade first took possession
of him. This was in Clarkson's lifetime, for he survived till
1846. The scheme was abandoned for the time, but has
been revived and carried out within the last few years.

Upon a hillock at Forty Hill. Forty Hill is a district of
Enfield.



340 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

Letter CCCXXVIII (p. 202). — Your Chairing the Member.
One of two pictures that Haydon had just painted, the subjects
taken from certain frolics that he had witnessed when in the
King's Bench Prison. The other was "The Mock Election,"
purchased for five hundred guineas by King George IV. " Chair-
ing the Member" was exhibited by Haydon, with other of his
pictures, in August of this year, at the Western Bazaar in Bond
Street. "Besides the new picture, the Exhibition included
'Solomon,' 'Christ's Entry into Jerusalem,' and the drawings
for the two prison pictures. 'The Mock Election' was not there,
as it had before this been removed to Windsor. " ( Tom Taylor's
Life of B. JR. Haydon.)

Letter CCCXXIX (p. 203).— The Edition de Luxe here
spoken of as in preparation was published in 1830, with a
Prefatory Memoir of Bunyan by Southey. It was illustrated
by Barton's friend, John Martin. Macaulay's review of this
edition will be remembered. His observations on Martin's
unfitness for this kind of illustration bear a strong resemblance
to Lamb's.

The Gem. The Gem for 1829 was edited by Thomas Hood.
In the volume for that year appeared Lamb's verses "On an
infant dying as soon as born," written at the request of Mrs.
Hood, on the death of her infant child.

Letter CCCXXX (p. 205). — When you lurked at the
Greyhound. Cowden Clarke and his bride spent their quiet
honeymoon at the Inn at Enfield, as Mrs. Cowden Clarke tells
us. They were married on the 5th of July of this year.

Letter CCCXXXI (p. 206).— The " Epithalamium " referred
to in the former letter was, on second thoughts, despatched to
Vincent Novello. Mrs. Cowden Clarke, who first printed this
parody upon the school of Dryden in the Gentleman's Magazine
for December 1873, dwells with just appreciation upon the
admirable fooling of the entire letter.

Letter CCCXXXII (p. 209).— Laman Blanchard published
this year a little volume of Poems, Lyric Offerings, dedicated
to Lamb.

Letter CCCXXXIII (p. 210).— Barton had sent Lamb his
latest volume, A New Year's Eve, and other Poems. (London,
1828.) It was dedicated "to Charles Richard Sumner, Bishop
of Winchester, in memorial of his courtesy and kindness," and
had for frontispiece an engraving of a drawing by Martin, of
Christ walking on the sea. Lamb, in applauding the picture,
refers to certain strictures upon Martin contained in a previous
letter to Barton. "Power and Gentleness, or the Cataract



NOTES. 341

and the Streamlet," is perhaps as charming a lyric as Barton
ever wrote. It contains the stanza about the streamlet, which
was a favourite with that admirable judge, Edward Fitz-
gerald : —

" More gaily now it sweeps
By the small schoolhouse, in the sunshine bright ;

And o'er the pebbles leaps
Like happy hearts by holiday made light."

The full title of the "Lady Russell " poem was, " Lady Rachel
Russell : or, a Roman Hero and an English Heroine compared."
The " stanzas to 'Chalon'" were "On a Portrait by A. E. Chalon,
R.A." — the portrait being one of Clarkson, the Abolitionist.

As Sh says of Religion. It is hardly necessary to point

out that the allusion is to Hamlet's —

" And fair Religion make
A rhapsody of words."

I much like the "Heron." "Syr Heron. Inscribed to my
ingenious friend, John Major, on receiving from him a seal
bearing the impress of that bird."

" Fludycr." "To Sir Samuel Fludyer, on the devastation
effected on his Marine Villa at Felixstowe by the encroachments
of the Sea." The answer to the enigma is clearly, as Mrs.
Fitzgerald has pointed out to me, an auctioneer's hammer.

Letter CCCXXXV (p. 213). — As Procter had tried a practi-
cal joke upon Lamb, the latter seems to have thought it a good
opportunity to return the compliment. In the details that
follow, concerning the case that "fretted him to death," the
element of truth was that John Lamb had, shortly before his
death, married a widow, who had a married daughter, Elizabeth
Dowden. This, I have ascertained, was a fact. Lamb, as his
brother's executor, had some trouble in administering the estate.;
but the elaborate and impossible farrago of details here built
upon the simple foundation is, of course, the wildest nonsense.
The serious reference to the 170th chapter of "Fearne's Con-
tingent Remainders " (a classic work, divided, I believe, into
some dozen or fifteen chapters) is delightfully conceived.
Talfourd adds that the alleged coolness between Lamb and
his legal friends was part of the fiction.

A few lines of verse for a young friend's album. It was for
Emma Isola's album that the verses were asked.

Barry C is Barry Cornwall, Mr. Procter's poetical

"Alias."

Letter CCCXXXVI (p. 216). — I have revised previous
texts of this letter from the original in Mrs. Procter's posses-



342 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

sion, and restored one or two characteristic sentences hitherto
omitted.

The anti-Capulets. The Montagus (Basil Montagu and his
wife).

Miss Holcrqft. Louisa Holcroft, daughter of the dramatist,



Online LibraryCharles LambThe letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) → online text (page 26 of 31)