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Olen seems gifted with. He stumbles about dark
mountains at best; but he knows at least how to be
thankful for this life, and is too thankful indeed for certain
relationships lent him here, not to tremble for a possible
resumption of the gift. He is too apt to express himself
lightly, and cannot be sorry for the present occasion, as
as it has called forth a reproof so Christian-like. His
animus at least (whatever become of it in the female
termination) hath always been cum Christianis.

Pray make my gratefullest respects to the Poet (do I

flatter myself when I hope it may be M y 1) and say

how happy I should feel myself in an acquaintance with
him. I will just mention that in the middle of the
second column, where I have affixed a cross, the line

" One in a skeleton's ribb'd hollow cooped,"
is undoubtedly wrong. Shoidd it not be —

"A skeleton's rib or ribs ? "

or,

" In a skeleton ribb'd, hollow-coop'd ?"

I perfectly remember the plate in Quarles. In the first
page esoteric is pronounced esdteric. It should be (if
that is the word) esoteric. The false accent may be
corrected by omitting the word old. Pray, for certain
reasons, give me to the 18th at furthest extremity for
my next.

Poor Elia, the real (for I am but a counterfeit), is
dead. The fact is, a person of that name, an Italian, was



36 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

a fellow-clerk of mine at the South Sea House, thirty
(not forty) years ago, when the characters I described
there existed, but had left it like myself many years ;
and I having a brother now there, and doubting how he
might relish certain descriptions in it, I clapt down the
name of Elia to it, which passed off pretty well, for Elia
himself added the function of an author to that of a
scrivener, like myself.

I went the other day (not having seen him for a year)
to laugh over with him at my usurpation of his name,
and found him, alas ! no more than a name, for he died
of consumption eleven months ago, and I knew not of it.

So the name has fairly devolved to me, I think ; and
'tis all he has left me.

Dear sir, yours truly, 0. Lamb.

Messrs. Taylor & Hessey, Fleet Street,
for J. Taylor, Esq.



To C. COWDEN CLARKE.

Letter CLXXX VII.] [1821.]

My dear Sir — Your letter has lain in a drawer of
my desk, upbraiding me every time I open the said
drawer, but it is almost impossible to answer such a
letter in such a place, and I am out of the habit of reply-
ing to epistles otherwhere than at office. You express
yourself concerning Hunt like a true friend, and have
made me feel that I have somehow neglected him, but
without knowing very well how to rectify it. I live so
remote from him — by Hackney — that he is almost out
of the pale of visitation at Hampstead. And I come
but seldom to Covt. Gardn. this summer time, and when
I do, am sure to pay for the late hours and pleasant
Novello suppers which I incur. I also am an invalid.
But I will hit upon some way, that you shall not have
cause for your reproof in future. But do not think I
take the hint unkindly. When I shall be brought low



TO COLERIDGE. 37

by any sickness or untoward circumstance, write just
such a letter to some tardy friend of mine — or come up
yourself with your friendly Henshaw face — and that will
be better. I shall not forget in haste our casual day at
Margate. May we have many such there or elsewhere !
God bless you for your kindness to H., which I will
remember. But do not show Novello this, for the flout-
ing infidel doth mock when Christians cry God bless us.
Yours and his, too, and all our little circle's most affect 9 .

C. Lamb.
Mary's love included.



To SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

Letter CLXXXVIII.] March 9, 1822.

Dear Coleridge — It gives me great satisfaction to
hear that the pig turned out so well : they are interesting
creatures at a certain age. What a pity such buds should
blow out into the maturity of rank bacon ! You had all
some of the crackling and brain sauce. Did you remem-
ber to rub it with butter, and gently dredge it a little,
just before the crisis 1 Did the eyes come away kindly
with no OEdipean avulsion 1 Was the crackling the
colour of the ripe pomegranate 1 Had yoii no complement
of boiled neck of mutton before it, to blunt the edge of
delicate desire 1 Did you flesh maiden teeth in it 1 Not
that / sent the pig, or can form the remotest guess what
part Owen could play in the business. I never knew him
give anything away in my life. He would not begin
with strangers. I suspect the pig, after all, was meant
for me ; but at the unlucky juncture of time being absent,
the present somehow went round to Highgate. To confess
an honest truth, a pig is one of those things which I
could never think of sending away. Teal, widgeon,
snipes, barn-door fowls, ducks, geese — your tame villatic
things — Welsh mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, fresh



38 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

or pickled, your potted char, Swiss cheeses, French pies,
early grapes, muscadines, I impart as freely unto my
friends as to myself. They are but self-extended ; but
pardon me if I stop somewhere. "Where the fine feeling
of benevolence giveth a higher smack than the sensual
rarity, there my friends (or any good man) may command
me ; but pigs are pigs, and I myself therein am nearest
to myself. Nay, I should think it an affront, an under-
valuing done to Nature who bestowed such a boon upon
me, if in a churlish mood I parted with the precious gift.
One of the bitterest pangs of remorse I ever felt was when
a child — when my kind old aunt had strained her pocket-
strings to bestow a sixpenny whole plum-cake upon me.
In my way home through the Borough I met a venerable
old man, not a mendicant, but thereabouts ; a look-beggar,
not a verbal petitionist ; and in the coxcombry of taught
charity I gave away the cake to him. I walked on a
little in all the pride of an Evangelical peacock, when of
a sudden my old aunt's kindness crossed me j the sum it
was to her ; the pleasure she had a right to expect that
I — not the old impostor — should take in eating her cake :
the ingratitude by which, under the colour of a Christian
virtue, I had frustrated her cherished purpose. I sobbed,
wept, and took it to heart so grievously, that I think I
never suffered the like ; and I was right. It was a piece
of unfeeling hypocrisy, and it proved a lesson to me ever
after. The cake has long been masticated, consigned to
the dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable pauper.

But when Providence, who is better to us all than our
aunts, gives me a pig, remembering my temptation and
my fall, I shall endeavour to act towards it more in the
spirit of the donor's purpose.

Yours (short of pig) to command in everything.

C. L.



TO WORDSWORTH. 39



To WILLIAM WORDSWORTH.

Letter CLXXXIX.] March 20, 1822.

My dear Wordsworth — A letter from you is very
grateful ; I have not seen a Kendal postmark so long !
We are pretty well, save colds and rheumatics, and a
certain deadness to everything, which I think I may date
from poor John's loss, and another accident or two at the
same time, that have made me almost bury myself at
Dalston, where yet I see more faces than I could wish.
Deaths overset one, and put one out long after the recent
grief. Two or three have died within the last two twelve-
months, and so many parts of me have been numbed.
One sees a picture, reads an anecdote, starts a casual
fancy, and thinks to tell of it to this person in preference
to every other : the person is gone whom it would have
peculiarly suited. It won't do for another. Every
departure destroys a class of sympathies. There's Captain
Burney gone ! What fun has whist now 1 What matters
it what you lead, if you can no longer fancy him looking
over you 1 One never hears anything, but the image of
the particular person occurs with whom alone almost you
would care to share the intelligence. Thus one distributes
oneself about ; and now for so many parts of me I have
lost the market. Common natures do not suffice me.
Good people, as they are called, won't serve. I want
individuals. I am made up of queer points, and I want
so many answering needles. The going away of friends
does not make the remainder more precious. It takes so
much from them as there was a common link. A. B.
and C. make a party. A. dies. B. not only loses A. ;
but all A.'s part in C. C. loses A.'s part in B., and so
the alphabet sickens by subtraction of interchangeables.
I express myself muddily, capite dolente. I have a
dulling cold. My theory is to enjoy life, but my practice
is against it. I grow ominously tired of official confine-
ment. Thirty years have I served the Philistines, and



40 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

my neck is not subdued to the yoke. You don't know
how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls
without relief, day after day, all the golden hours of the
day between ten and four, without ease or interposition.
Tcedet me harum quotidianarmn formarum, these pesti-
lential clerk-faces always in one's dish. Oh for a few years
between the grave and the desk ! — they are the same,
save that at the latter you are the outside machine. The

foul enchanter ("letters four do form his name" —

Busirane is his name in hell), that has curtailed you of
some domestic comforts, hath laid a heavier hand on me,
not in present infliction, but in taking away the hope of
enfranchisement. I dare not whisper to myself a pension
on this side of absolute incapacitation and infirmity, till
years have sucked me dry ; — Othmi cum indignitate. I
had thought in a green old age (Oh green thought i) to
have retired to Ponder's End (emblematic name, how
beautifid !), in the Ware Road, there to have made up my
accounts with Heaven and the company, toddling about
between it and Cheshunt ; anon stretching, on some
fine Izaak Walton morning, to Hoddesdon or Amwell,
careless as a beggar ; but walking, walking ever till I
fairly walked myself off my legs, dying walking ! The
hope is gone. I sit like Philomel all day (but not sing-
ing), with my breast against this thorn of a desk, with
the only hope that some pulmonary affliction may relieve
me. Vide Lord Palmerston's report of the clerks in the
War Office (Debates in this morning's Times), by which
it appears, in twenty years as many clerks have been
coughed and catarrhed out of it into their freer graves.
Thank you for asking about the pictures. Milton hangs
over my fire-side in Covent Garden (when I am there),
the rest have been sold for an old song, wanting the
eloquent tongue that should have set them off! You
have gratified me with liking my meeting with Dodd.
For the Malvolio story — the thing is become in verity a
sad task, and I eke it out with anything. If I could
slip out of it I should be happy, but our chief-reputed



TO CLARE. 41

assistants have forsaken us. The Opium-Eater crossed
us once with a dazzling path, and hath as suddenly left
us darkling; and, in short, I shall go on from dull to
worse, because I cannot resist the booksellers' importunity
— the old plea you know of authors, but I believe on my
part sincere. Hartley I do not so often see ; but I never
see him in unwelcome hour. I thoroughly love and
honour him. I send you a frozen epistle, but it is Winter
and dead time of the year with me. May heaven
keep something like Spring and Summer up with you,
strengthen your eyes, and make mine a little lighter to
encounter with them, as I hope they shall yet and again,
before all are closed.

Yours, with every kind remembrance. C. L.

I had almost forgot to say, I think you thoroughly
right about presentation copies. I should like to see
you print a book I should grudge to purchase for its size.
Hang me, but I would have it though !

Mary perfectly approves of the appropriation of
the feathers, and wishes them peacock's for your fair
niece's sake.



To WILLIAM GODWIN.

Letter CXC] May 16, 1822.

Dear Godwin — I sincerely feel for all your trouble.
Pray use the enclosed <£50, and pay me when you can.
I shall make it my business to see you very shortly.

Yours truly, C. Lamb.



To JOHN CLARE.

Letter CXCL] India House, August 31, 1822.

Dear Clare — I thank you heartily for your present.
I am an inveterate old Londoner, but while I am among



42 LETTERS OP CHARLES LAMB.

your choice collections I seem to be native to them and
free of the country. The quality of your observation has
astonished me. What have most pleased me have been
" Recollections after a Ramble," and those " Grongar
Hill " kind of pieces in eight syllable lines, my favourite
measure, such as " Cooper Hill " and " Solitude." In
some of your story-telling Ballads the provincial phrases
sometimes startle me. I think you are too profuse with
them. In poetry slang of every kind is to be avoided.
There is a rustick Cockneyism, as little pleasing as ours
of London. Transplant Arcadia to Helpstone. The
true rustic style I think is to be found in Shenstone.
Would his "Schoolmistress," the prettiest of poems,
have been better if he had used quite the Goody's own
language 1 Now and then a home rusticism is fresh and
startling ; but when nothing is gained in expression, it is
out of tenor. It may make folks smile and stare ; but
the ungenial coalition of barbarous with refined phrases
will prevent you in the end from being so generally tasted,
as you desire to be. Excuse my freedom, and take the
same liberty with my puns.

I send you two little volumes of my spare hours.
They are of all sorts : there is a Methodist hymn for
Sundays and a farce for Saturday night. Pray give
them a place on your shelf. Pray accept a little volume,
of which I have a duplicate, that I may return in equal
number to your welcome presents. I think I am
indebted to you for a sonnet in the "London" for
August 1

Since I saw you I have been in France, and have
eaten frogs. The nicest little rabbity things you ever
tasted. Do look about for them. Make Mrs. Clare pick
off the hind quarters, boil them plain, with parsley and
butter. The fore quarters are not so good. She may
let them hop off by themselves.

Yours sincerely, Chas. Lamb.

[Addressed at back]
Mr. John Clare.



TO BARTON. 43



To BERNARD BARTON.

India House,
Letter CXCIL] September 11, 1822.

Dear Sir — You have misapprehended me sadly, if you
suppose that I meant to impute any inconsistency in your
writing poetry with your religious profession. I do not
remember what I said, but it was spoken sportively, I am
sure — one of my levities, which you are not so used to as
my older friends. I probably was thinking of the light
in which your so indulging yourself would appear to
Quakers, and put their objection in my own foolish
mouth. I would eat my words (provided they should be
written on not very coarse paper) rather than I would
throw cold water upon your, and my once, harmless
occupation.

I have read " Napoleon " and the rest with delight.
I like them for what they are, and for what they are
not. I have sickened on the modern rhodomontade and
Byronism, and your plain Quakerish beauty has captivated
me. It is all wholesome cates ; ay, and toothsome too ;
and withal Quakerish. If I were George Fox, and George
Fox licenser of the press, they should have my absolute
imprimatur. I hope I have removed the impression.

I am, like you, a prisoner to the desk. I have been
chained to that galley thirty years, — a long shot. I have
almost grown to the wood. If no imaginative poet, I am
sure I am a figurative one. Do " Friends " allow puns %
verbal equivocations 1 They are unjustly accused of it ;
and I did my little best in the " Imperfect Sympathies "
to vindicate them. I am very tired of clerking it, but
have no remedy. Did you see a Sonnet to this purpose
in the Examiner ? —

" Who first invented work, and bound the free
And holy-day rejoicing spirit down
To the ever -haunting importunity
Of business, in the green fields and the town,



44 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

To plough, loom, anvil, spade ; and oh, most sad,
To that dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood ?
Who but the being unblest, alien from good,
Sabbathless Satan ! he who his unglad
Task ever plies, 'mid rotatory burnings,
That round and round incalculably reel ;
For wrath Divine hath made him like a wheel
In that red realm from which are no returnings ;
Where, toiling and turmoiling, ever and aye,
He and his thoughts keep pensive worky-day."

I fancy the sentiment exprest above will be nearly
your own. The expression of it probably would not so
well suit with a follower of John Woolman. But I do
not know whether diabolism is a part of your creed, or
where indeed to find an exposition of your creed at all.
In feelings and matters not dogmatical, I hope I am half
a Quaker. Believe me, with great respect, yours,

0. Lamb.

I shall always be happy to see or hear from you.



To Mrs. KENNEY.

Letter CXCIII.] London, September 11, 1822.

Dear Mrs. K. — Mary got home safe on Friday night.
She has suffered only a common fatigue, but as she is
weakly, begs me to thank you in both our names for all
the trouble she has been to you. She did not succeed in
saving Robinson's fine waistcoat. They could not com-
prehend how a waistcoat, marked Henry Robinson, could
be a part of Miss Lamb's wearing apparel. So they
seized it for the king, who will probably appear in it at
the next levee. Next to yourself, our best thanks to H.
Payne. I was disappointed he came not with her. Tell
Kenney the Cow has got out, by composition, paying so
much in the pound. The canary bird continues her
sleep-persuading strains. Pray say to Ellen that I think
the verses very pretty which she slipt into my pocket on



TO FIELD. 45

9

the last day of my being at Versailles. The stanzas on
Ambition are fine, allowing for the age of the writer.
The thought that the present King of Spain whom I
suppose she means by the " brown monarch," sitting in
state among his grandees, is like

" A sparrow lonely on the house's top,"
is perhaps a little forced. The next line is better,

"Too high to stoop, though not afraid to drop."

Pray deliver what follows to my dear wife Sophy.

My dear Sophy — The few short days of connubial
felicity which I passed with you among the pears and
apricots of Versailles were some of the happiest of my
life. But they are flown !

And your other half — your dear co-twin — that she-you
— that almost equal sharer of my affections : you and
she are my better half, a quarter a-piece. She and
you are my pretty sixpence — you the head, and she the
tail. Sure, Heaven that made you so alike must pardon
the error of an inconsiderate moment, should I for love
of you, love her too well. Do you think laws were made
for lovers 1 I think not.

Adieu, amiable Pair, Yours and yours C. Lamb.

P.S. — I enclose half a dear kiss a-piece for you.



To Mr. BARRON FIELD.

Letter CXCIV.] September 22, 1822.

My dear F. — I scribble hastily at office. Frank wants
my letter presently. I and sister are just returned from
Paris ! ! We have eaten frogs. It has been such a
treat ! You know our monotonous tenor. Frogs are the
nicest little delicate things — rabbity-flavoured. Imagine
a Lilliputian rabbit ! They fricassee them ; but in my
mind, drest seethed, plain, with parsley and butter, would



46 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

have been the decision of Apicius. Paris is a glorious
picturesque old city. London looks mean and new to it,
as the town of Washington would, seen after it. But
they have no St. Paul's, or Westminster Abbey. The
Seine, so much despised by Cockneys, is exactly the size
to run through a magnificent street ; palaces a mile long
on one side, lofty Edinbro' stone (0 the glorious antiques !)
houses on the other. The Thames disunites London and
Southwark. I had Talma to supper with me. He has
picked up, as I believe, an authentic portrait of Shaks-
peare. He paid a broker about .£40 English for it. It
is painted on the one half of a pair of bellows, — a lovely
picture, corresponding with the folio head. The bellows
has old carved wings round it, and round the visnomy is
inscribed, as near as I remember, not divided into rhyme
— I found out the rhyme —

" Whom have we here,
Stuck on the bellows,
But the Prince of good fellows,
Willy Shakspeare ?"
At top —

" base and coward luck
To be here stuck !" — PoiNS.

At bottom —

" Nay ! rather a glorious lot is to him assign'd,
Who, like the Almighty, rides upon the wind."

Pistol.

This is all in old carved wooden letters. The counte-
nance smiling, sweet, and intellectual beyond measure,
even as he was immeasurable. It may be a forgery.
They laugh at me and tell me Ireland is in Paris, and
has been putting off a portrait of the Black Prince. How
far old wood may be imitated I cannot say. Ireland was
not found out by his parchments, but by his poetry. I
am confident no painter on either side the Channel could
have painted anything near like the face I saw. Again,
would such a painter aud forger have taken £40 for a
thing, if authentic, worth £4000 1 Talma is not in the



TO BARTON. 47

secret, for he had not even found out the rhymes in the
first inscription. He is coming over with it, and, my
life to Southey's Thalaba, it will gain universal faith.

The letter is wanted, and I am wanted. Imagine the
blank filled up with all kind things.

Our joint hearty remembrances to both of you.

Yours, as ever, C. Lamb.



To BERNARD BARTON.

East India House,
Letter CXCV.] October 9, 1822.

Dear Sir — I am ashamed not sooner to have acknow-
ledged your letter and poem. I think the latter very
temperate, very serious, and very seasonable. I do not
think it will convert the club at Pisa, neither do I think
it will satisfy the bigots on our side the water. Some-
thing like a parody on the song of Ariel would please
them better : —

" Full fathom five the Atheist lies,
Of his bones are hell-dice made."

I want time, or fancy, to fill up the rest. I sincerely
sympathise with you on your doleful confinement. Of
time, health, and riches, the first in order is not last in
excellence. Riches are chiefly good because they give us
Time. What a weight of wearisome prison hours have I
to look back and forward to, as quite cut out of life ! and
the sting of the thing is, that for six hours every day I
have no business which I could not contract into two, if
they would let me work task-work. I shall be glad to
hear that your grievance is mitigated. Shelley I saw
once. His voice was the most obnoxious squeak I ever
was tormented with, ten thousand times worse than the
Laureate's, whose voice is the worst part about him,
except his Laureateship. Lord Byron opens upon him on
Monday in a parody (I suppose) of the Vision of Judg-
ment, in which latter the Poet I think did not much show



48 LETTERS OF CHARLES LAMB.

his. To award his Heaven and his Hell in the pre-
sumptuous manner he has done, was a piece of immodesty
as bad as Shelleyism.

I am returning a poor letter. I was formerly a great
scribbler in that way, but my hand is out of order. If
I said my head too, I should not be very much out, but
I will tell no tales of myself ; I will therefore end (after
my best thanks, with a hope to see you again some time
in London), begging you to accept this letteret for a
letter — a leveret makes a better present than a grown
hare, and short troubles (as the old excuse goes) are best.

I hear that Lloyd is well, and has returned to his
family. I think this will give you pleasure to hear.

I remain, dear sir, yours truly, C. Lamb.



To B. R. HAYDON.

Letter CXCVL] India House, October 19, 1822.

Dear Haydon — Poor Godwin has been turned out of
his house and business in Skinner Street, and if he does
not pay two years' arrears of rent, he will have the whole
stock, furniture, etc., of his new house (in the Strand)
seized when term begins. We are trying to raise a sub-
scription for him. My object in writing this is simply
to ask you, if this is a kind of case which would be likely
to interest Mrs. Coutts in his behalf, and who, in your
opinion, is the best person to speak with her on his
behalf. Without the aid of from £300 to £400 by that
time, early in November, he will be ruined. You are
the only person I can think of, of his acquaintance, and
can perhaps, if not yourself, recommend the person most
likely to influence her. Shelley had engaged to clear
him of all demands, and he has gone down to the deep
insolvent.

Yours truly, C. Lamb.

Is Sir Walter to be applied to, and by what chaunel 1



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