Charles Lamb.

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I shall be able to find it again for you, on his third shelf,
where he stuffs his presentation copies, uncut, in shape
and matter resembling a lump of dry dust ; but on care-
fully removing that stratum, a thing like a pamphlet will


emerge. I have tried this with fifty different poetical
works that have been given G. D. in return for as many
of his own performances ; and I confess I never had any
scrapie in taking my own again, wherever I found it,
shaking the adherences off; and by this means one copy
of "my works" served for G. D., and, with a little

dusting, was made over to my good friend Dr. G ,

who little thought whose leavings he was taking when
he made that graceful bow. By the way, the Doctor is
the only one of my acquaintance who bows gracefully ;
my town acquaintance, I mean. How do you like my
way of writing with two inks % I think it is pretty and
motley. Suppose Mrs. W. adopts it, the next time she
holds the pen for you. My dinner waits. I have no
time to indulge any longer in these laborious curiosities.
God bless you, and cause to thrive and burgeon whatsoever
you write, and fear no inks of miserable poetasters.

Yours truly, Charles Lamb.

Mary's love.

Letter CLXXV.] May 28, 1819.

My dear M. — I want to know how your brother is,
if you have heard lately. I want to know about you. I
wish you were nearer. How are my cousins, the Gladmans
of Wheathamstead, and farmer Bruton 1 Mrs. Bruton is
a glorious woman.

"Hail, Mackery End"—

This is a fragment of a blank verse poem which I once
meditated, but got no further. The E. I. H. has been
thrown into a quandary by the strange phenomenon of
poor Tommy Bye, whom I have known man and mad-man
twenty-seven years, he being elder here than myself by
nine years and more. He was always a pleasant, gossip-
ing, half- headed, muzzy, dozing, dreaming, walk-about,
inoffensive chap ; a little too fond of the creature — (who


isn't at times f) ; but Tommy had not brains to work off
an over-night's surfeit by ten o'clock next morning ; and
unfortunately, in he wandered the other morning drunk
with last night, and with a superfcetation of drink taken
in since he set out from bed. He came staggering under
his double burthen, like trees in Java, bearing at once
blossom, fruit, and falling fruit, as I have heard you or
some other traveller tell, with his face literally as blue as
the bluest firmament ; some wretched calico, that he had
mopped his poor oozy front with, had rendered up its
native dye ; and the devil a bit would he consent to wash
it, but swore it was characteristic, for he was going to
the sale of indigo, and set up a laugh which I did not
think the lungs of mortal man were competent to. It
was like a thousand people laughing, or the Goblin Page.
He imagined afterwards that the whole office had been
laughing at him, so strange did his own sounds strike
upon his wowsensorium ! But Tommy has laughed his
last laugh, and awoke the next day to find himself reduced
from an abused income of £600 per annum to one-sixth
of the sum, after thirty-six years' tolerably good service.
The quality of mercy was not strained in his behalf : the
gentle dews dropt not on him from heaven. It just
came across me that I was writing to Canton. Will
you drop in to-morrow night ? Fanny Kelly is coming,
if she does not cheat us. Mrs. Gold is well, but
proves "uncoined," as the lovers about Wheathamstead
would say.

I have not had such a quiet half hour to sit down to
a quiet letter for many years. I have not been inter-
rupted above four times. I wrote a letter the other day,
in alternate lines, black ink and red, and you cannot
think how it chilled the flow of ideas. Next Monday is
Whit-Monday. What a reflection ! Twelve years ago,
and I should have kept that and the following holidays
in the fields a -Maying. All of those pretty pastoral
delights are over. This dead, everlasting dead desk, —
how it weighs the spirit of a gentleman down ! This


dead wood of the desk, instead of your living trees !
But then again, I hate the Joskins, a name for Hertford-
shire bumpkins. Each state of life has its inconvenience ;
but then again, mine has more than one. Not that I
repine, or grudge, or murmur at my destiny. I have
meat and drink, and decent apparel; I shall, at least,
when I get a new hat.

A red-haired man has just interrupted me. He has
broke the current of my thoughts. I haven't a word
to add. I don't know why I send this letter, but I have
had a hankering to hear about you some days. Perhaps
it will go off before your reply comes. If it don't, I
assure you no letter was ever welcomer from you, from
Paris or Macao. C. Lamb.


Letter CLXXVL] June 7, 1819.

My dear Wordsworth — You cannot imagine how proud
we are here of the dedication. We read it twice for
once that we do the poem I mean all through; yet
" Benjamin " is no common favourite ; there is a spirit of
beautiful tolerance in it. It is as good as it was in 1806 ;
and it will be as good in 1829, if our dim eyes shall be
awake to peruse it. Methinks there is a kind of shadow-
ing affinity between the subject of the narrative and the
subject of the dedication; but I will not enter into
personal themes ; else, substituting ******
for Ben, and the Honourable United Company of Mer-
chants trading to the East Indies, for the master of the
misused team, it might seem, by no far-fetched analogy,
to point its dim warnings hitherward ; but I reject the
omen, especially as its import seems to have been diverted
to another victim.

I will never write another letter with alternate inks.
You cannot imagine how it cramps the flow of the style.
I can conceive Pindar (I do not mean to compare myself


to him), by the command of Hiero, the Sicilian tyrant
(was not he the tyrant of some place *? fie on my neglect
of history !) — I can conceive him by command of Hiero or
Perillus set down to pen an Isthmian or Nemean panegyric
in lines, alternate red and black. I maintain he couldn't
have done it ; it would have been a strait-laced torture
to his muse; he would have call'd for the bull for a
relief. Neither could Lycidas, nor the Chorics (how do
you like the word 1 ?) of Samson Agonistes, have been
written with two inks. Your couplets, with points,
epilogues to Mr. H.'s, etc., might be even benefited by
the twyfount, where one line (the second) is for point,
and the first for rhyme. I think the alteration would
assist, like a mould. I maintain it, you could not have
written your stanzas on pre -existence with two inks.
Try another ; and Rogers, with his silver standish, having
one ink only, I will bet my " Ode on Tobacco," against
the "Pleasures of Memory," — and "Hope," too, shall
put more fervour of enthusiasm into the same subject
than you can with your two ; he shall do it starts pede in
uno, as it were.

The " Waggoner " is very ill put up in boards ; at
least it seems to me always to open at the dedication ;
but that is a mechanical fault. I re-read the " White
Doe of Rylstone;" the title should be always written at
length, as Mary Sabilla Novello, a very nice woman of
our acquaintance, always signs hers at the bottom of the
shortest note. Mary told her, if her name had been
Mary Ann, she would have signed M. A Novello, or M.
only, dropping the A. ; which makes me think, with
some other trifles, that she understands something
of human nature. My pen goes galloping on most
rhapsodically, glad to have escaped the bondage of
two inks.

Manning had just sent it home, and it came as fresh
to me as the immortal creature it speaks of. M. sent it
home with a note, having this passage in it : "I cannot
help writing to you while I am reading Wordsworth's


poem. I am got into the third canto, and say that it
raises my opinion of him very much indeed. 'Tis broad,
noble, poetical, with a masterly scanning of human
actions, absolutely above common readers. What a
manly (implied) interpretation of (bad) party-actions, as
trampling the Bible, etc. !" and so he goes on.

I do not know which I like best, — the prologue (the
latter part especially)' to "P. Bell," or the epilogue to
" Benjamin." Yes, I tell stories ; I do know I like the
last best ; and the " Waggoner " altogether is a pleasanter
remembrance to me than the "Itinerant." If it were
not, the page before the first page would and ought to
make it so. The sonnets are not all new to me ; of those
which are new, the ninth I like best. Thank you for
that to Walton. I take it as a favour done to me, that,
being so old a darling of mine, you should bear testimony

to his worth in a book containing a dedic : I cannot

write the vain word at full length any longer.

If, as you say, the " Waggoner," in some sort, came
at my call, oh for a potent voice to call forth the
" Recluse " from his profound dormitory, where he sleeps
forgetful of his foolish charge — the world !

Had I three inks, I would invoke him ! Talfourd
has written a most kind review of J. Woodvil, etc., in
the Champion. He is your most zealous admirer, in
solitude and in crowds. H. Crabb Robinson gives me
any dear prints that I happen to admire ; and I love him
for it and for other things. Alsager shall have his copy ;
but at present I have lent it for a day only, not choosing
to part with my own. Mary's love. How do you all
do, amanuenses both — marital and sororal 1

C. Lamb.


Letter CLXXVIL] 1819.

Dear Sir — It is so long since I have seen or heard
from you, that I fear that you will consider a request I


have to make as impertinent. About three years since,
when I was one day in Bristol, I made an effort to see
you ; but you were from home. The request I have to
make is, that you would very much oblige me, if you
have any small portrait of yourself, by allowing me to
have it copied, to accompany a selection of " Likenesses of
Living Bards " which a most particular friend of mine is
making. If you have no objections, and could oblige me
by transmitting such portrait to me at No. 44 Russell
Street, Covent Garden, I will answer for taking the
greatest care of it, and returning it safely the instant the
copier has done with it. I hope you will pardon the
liberty from an old friend and well-wisher,

Charles Lamb.

Letter CLXXVIII.] [1819.]

Dear Sir — My friend, whom you have obliged by the
loan of your picture, has had it very exactly copied (and
a very spirited drawing it is ; so every one thinks who
has seen it). The copy is not much inferior, done by a
daughter of Josephs, R.A. He purposes sending you
back the original, which I must accompany with my
warm thanks, both for that, and your better favour, the
Messiah, which I assure you I have read through with
great pleasure ; the verses have great sweetness, and a
New Testament-plainness about them which affected me
very much. I could just wish that in page 63 you had
omitted the lines 71 and 72, and had ended the period
with —

"The willowy brook was there, but that sweet sound —
When to be heard again on Earthly ground ?"

Two very sweet lines, and the sense perfect.

And in page 154, line 68, — " I come ordained a world
to save " — these words are hardly borne out by the story,
and seem scarce accordant with the modesty with which
our Lord came to take his common portion among the


baptismal candidates. They also anticipate the beauty
of John's recognition of the Messiah, and the subse-
quent confirmation from the voice and Dove.

You will excuse the remarks of an old brother bard,
whose career, though long since pretty well stopped, was
coeval in its beginning with your own, and who is sorry
his lot has been always to be so distant from you. It is
not like that 0. L. will see Bristol again ; but, if J. C.
should ever visit London, he will be a most welcome visitor
to C. L. My sister joins in cordial remembrances. . . .

Dear sir, yours truly, Charles Lamb.

Letter CLXXIX.] * London, India House,

November 5, 1819.

My dear Sir — I am quite ashamed of not having
acknowledged your kind present earlier; but that un-
known something, which was never yet discovered, though
so often speculated upon, which stands in the way of lazy
folks answering letters, has presented its usual obstacle.
It is not forgetfulness nor disrespect nor incivility, but
terribly like all these bad things.

I have been in my time a great epistolary scribbler :
but the passion, and with it the facility, at length wears
out ; and it must be pumped up again by the heavy
machinery of duty or gratitude, when it should run free.
I have read your "Fall of Cambria" with as much
pleasure as I did your " Messiah." Your Cambrian Poem
I shall be tempted to repeat oftenest, as human poems
take me in a mood more frequently congenial than divine.
The character of Llewellyn pleases me more than any-
thing else, perhaps ; and then some of the lyrical pieces
are fine varieties.

It was quite a mistake that I could dislike anything
you should write against Lord Byron ; for I have a
thorough aversion to his character, and a very moderate
admiration of his genius : he is great in so little a way.


To be a Poet is to be the Man, not a petty portion of
occasional low passion worked up in a permanent form of
humanity. Shakspeare has thrust such rubbishly feelings
into a corner, — the dark dusky heart of Don John, in the
Much Ado about Nothing. The fact is, I have not seen
your " Expostulatory Epistle " to him. I was not aware,
till your question, that it was out. I shall inquire, and
get it forthwith.

Southey is in town, • whom I have seen slightly ;
Wordsworth expected, whom I hope to see much of. I
write with accelerated motion ; for I have two or three
bothering clerks and brokers about me, who always press
in proportion as you seem to be doing something that is
not business. I could exclaim a little profanely ; but I
think you do not like swearing.

I conclude, begging you to consider that I feel myself
much obliged by your kindness ; and shall be most happy
at any and at all times to hear from you.

Dear sir, yours truly, Charles Lamb.


Letter CLXXX.] November 25, 1819.

Dear Miss Wordsworth — You will think me negligent :
but I wanted to see more of Willy before I ventured to
express a prediction. Till yesterday I had barely seen
him — Virgilium tantum vidi — but yesterday he gave us
his small company to a bullock's heart, and I can pro-
nounce him a lad of promise. He is no pedant, nor
bookworm ; so far I can answer. Perhaps he has hitherto
paid too little attention to other men's inventions, prefer-
ring, like Lord Foppington, the " natural sprouts of his
own." But he has observation, and seems thoroughly
awake. I am ill at remembering other people's bon mots,
but the following are a few : — Being taken over Waterloo
Bridge, he remarked, that if we had no mountains, we
had a fine river at least ; which was a touch of the com-


parative : but then he added, in a strain which augured
less for his future abilities as a political economist, that
he supposed they must take at least a pound a week toll.
Like a curious naturalist, he inquired if the tide did not
come up a little salty. This being satisfactorily answered,
he put another question, as to the flux and reflux ; which
being rather cunningly evaded than artfully solved by
that she- Aristotle, Mary, — who muttered something about
its getting up an hour sooner and sooner every day, — he
sagely replied, "Then it must come to the same thing at
last ; " which was a speech worthy of an infant Halley !
The lion in the 'Change by no means came up to his
ideal standard ; so impossible is it for Nature, in any of
her works, to come up to the standard of a child's
imagination ! The whelps (lionets) he was sorry to find
were dead ; and on particular inquiry, his old friend the
ourang-outang had gone the way of all flesh also. The
grand tiger was also sick, and expected in no short time
to exchange this transitory world for another, or none.
But again, there was a golden eagle (I do not mean that
of Charing) which did much arride and console him.
William's genius, I take it, leans a little to the figurative ;
for, being at play at tricktrack (a kind of minor billiard-
table which we keep for smaller wights, and sometimes
refresh our own mature fatigues with taking a hand at),
not being able to hit a ball he had iterate aimed at, he
cried out, "I cannot hit that beast!" Now the balls
are usually called men, but he felicitously hit upon a
middle term ; a term of approximation and imaginative
reconciliation ; a something where the two ends of the
brute matter (ivory), and their human and rather violent
personification into men, might meet, as I take it — illus-
trative of that excellent remark, in a certain preface
about imagination, explaining " Like a sea-beast that had
crawled forth to sun himself!" Not that I accuse
William Minor of hereditary plagiary, or conceive the
image to have come ex traduce. Rather he seemeth to
keep aloof from any source of imitation, and purposely to


remain ignorant of what mighty poets have done in this
kind before him ; for, being asked if his father had ever
been on Westminster Bridge, he answered that he did
not know !

It is hard to discern the oak in the acorn, or a temple
like St. Paul's in the first stone which is laid ; nor can I
quite prefigure what destination the genius of William
Minor hath to take. Some few hints I have set down,
to guide my future observations. He hath the power of
calculation, in no ordinary degree for a chit. He com-
biueth figures, after the first boggle, rapidly ; as in the
tricktrack board, where the hits are figured. At first he
did not perceive that 15 and 7 made 22 ; but by a little
use he could combine 8 with 25, and 33 again with 16,
which approacheth something in kind (far let me be from
flattering him by saying in degree) to that of the famous
American boy. I am sometimes inclined to think I
perceive the future satirist in him, for he hath a sub-
sardonic smile which bursteth out upon occasion ; as
when he was asked if London were as big as Ambleside ;
and indeed no other answer was given, or proper to be
given, to so ensnaring and provoking a question. In
the contour of the skull, certainly I discern something
paternal. But whether in all respects the future man
shall transcend his father's fame, Time, the trier of
Geniuses, must decide. Be it pronounced peremptorily
at present, that Willy is a well-mannered child, and
though no great student, hath yet a lively eye for things
that lie before him.

Given in haste from my desk at Leadenhall.

Yours, and yours most sincerely, C. Lamb.


Letter CLXXXL] January 10, 1820.

Dear Coleridge — A letter written in the blood of your
poor friend would indeed be of a nature to startle you ;


but this is nought but harmless red iuk, or, as the witty-
mercantile phrase hath it, clerk's blood. Hang 'em !
my brain, skin, flesh, bone, carcase, soul, time is all
theirs. The Royal Exchange, Gresham's Folly, hath me
body and spirit. I admire some of Lloyd's lines on you,
and I admire your postponing reading them. He is a
sad tattler; but this is under the rose. Twenty years
ago he estranged one friend from me quite, whom I have
been regretting, but never could regain since. He almost
alienated you also from me, or me from you, I don't know
which ; but that breach is closed. The " dreary sea " is
filled up. He has lately been at work " telling again,"
as they call it, a most gratuitous piece of mischief, and
has caused a coolness betwixt me and (not a friend
exactly, but) an intimate acquaintance. I suspect also
he saps Manning's faith in me, who am to Manning more
than an acquaintance. Still I like his writing verses
about you. Will your kind host and hostess give us a
dinner next Sunday; and, better still, not expect us if
the weather is very bad? Why you should refuse twenty
guineas per sheet for Blackwood's, or any other magazine,
passes my poor comprehension. But, as Strap says,
"you know best." I have no quarrel with you about
prseprandial avocations; so don't imagine one. That
Manchester sonnet I think very likely is Capel Lofft's.
Another sonnet appeared with the same initials in the
same paper, which turned out to be Procter's. What do
the rascals mean 1 Am I to have the fathering of what
idle rhymes every beggarly poetaster pours forth ! Who
put your marine sonnet " about Browne " into Blackwood?
I did not. So no more, till we meet.

Ever yours, C. L.

Letter CLXXXIL] March 30, 1821.

My dear Sir — If you can come next Sunday we shall
be equally glad to see you, but do not trust to any of


Martin's appointments, except on business, in future.
He is notoriously faithless in that point, and we did
wrong not to have warned you. Leg of Lamb, as before,
hot at 4. And the heart of Lamb ever.

Yours truly, C. L.


Letter CLXXXIII.] May 1, 1821.

Dr. C. — I will not fail you on Friday by six, and
Mary, perhaps, earlier. I very much wish to meet
Master Mathew, and am very much obliged to the
Gillmans for the opportunity. Our kind respects to them
always, Elia.

Letter CLXXXIV.] Wednesday, May 2, '21.

Dear Sir — You dine so late on Friday, it will be
impossible for us to go home by the eight o'clock stage.
Will you oblige me by securing us beds in some house
from which a stage goes to the Bank in the morning 1 I
would write to Coleridge, but cannot think of troubling
a dying man with such a request.

Yours truly, C. Lamb.

If the beds in the town are all engaged, in consequence
of Mr. Mathews's appearance, a hackney coach will serve.
We shall neither of us come much before the time.


[Kingsland Roiv, Dalstori],
Letter CLXXXV.] May 16, 1821.

Dear J. P. C. — Many thanks for the "Decameron:"
I have not such a gentleman's book in my collection : it
was a great treat to me, and I got it just as I was



wanting something of the sort. I take less pleasure in
books than heretofore, but I like books about books.
In the second volume, in particular, are treasures —
your discoveries about " Twelfth Night," etc. What a
Shakspearian essence that speech of Osrades for food ! —
Shakspeare is coarse to it — beginning " Forbear and eat
no more." Osrades warms up to that, but does not set
out ruffian -swaggerer. The character of the Ass with
those three lines, worthy to be set in gilt vellum, and
worn in frontlets by the noble beasts for ever —

" Thou would, perhaps, he should become thy foe,
And to that end dost beat him many times :
He cares not for himself, much less thy blow."

Cervantes, Sterne, and Coleridge, have said positively
nothing for asses compared with this.

I write in haste ; but p. 24, vol. i., the line you
cannot appropriate is Gray's sonnet, specimenifyed by
Wordsworth in first preface to L. B., as mixed of bad
and good style : p. 143, 2nd vol., you will find last poem
but one of the collection on Sidney's death in Spenser,
the line,

"Scipio, Caesar, Petrarch of our time."

This fixes it to be Raleigh's : I had guess'd it to be
Daniel's. The last after it, " Silence augmenteth rage,"
I will be crucified if it be not Lord Brooke's. Hang you,
and all meddling researchers, hereafter, that by raking into
learned dust may find me out wrong in my conjecture !

Dear J. P. C., I shall take the first opportunity of
personally thanking you for my entertainment. We are
at Dalston for the most part, but I fully hope for an
evening soon with you in Russell or Bouverie Street, to
talk over old times and books. Remember us kindly to
Mrs. J. P. C.

Yours very kindly, Charles Lamb.

I write in misery.

N.B, — The best pen I could borrow at our butcher's :
the ink, I verily believe, came out of the kennel.



Letter CLXXXVL] July 30, 1821.

Dear Sir — You will do me injustice if you do not
convey to the writer of the beautiful lines, which I now
return you, my sense of the extreme kindness which dic-
tated them. Poor Elia (call him Ellia) does not pretend
to so very clear revelations of a future state of being as

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