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journeyman, who really does the fine work, is in the back-
ground, — in our work the world gives all the credit to us,
whom they consider as their journeymen, and therefore
do they hate us, and cheat us, and oppress us, and would
wring the blood of us out, to put another sixpence in
their mechanic pouches ! I contend that a bookseller has
a relative honesty towards authors, not like his honesty
to the rest of the world. B., who first engaged me
as "Elia," has not paid me up yet (nor any of us
without repeated mortifying appeals), yet how the knave
fawned when I was of service to him ! Yet I dare say
the fellow is punctual in settling his milk-score, etc.

Keep to your bank, and the bank will keep you.
Trust not to the public ; you may hang, starve, drown
yourself, for anything that worthy personage cares. I
bless every star that Providence, not seeing good to make
me independent, has seen it next good to settle me upon
the stable foundation of Leadenhall. Sit down, good


B. B., in the banking-office. "What ! is there not from
six to eleven p.m. six days in the week, and is there not
all Sunday 1 ? Fie, what a superfluity of man's time, if
you could think so ! — enough for relaxation, mirth, con-
verse, poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. Oh the
corroding, torturing, tormenting thoughts, that disturb
the brain of the unlucky wight who must draw upon it
for daily sustenance ! Henceforth I retract all my fond
complaints of mercantile employment ; look upon them as
lovers' quarrels. I was but half in earnest. Welcome
dead timber of a desk, that makes me live. A little
grumbling is a wholesome medicine for the spleen ; but
in my inner heart do I approve and embrace this our
close but unharassiug way of life. I am quite serious.
If you can send me Fox, I will not keep it six weeks, and
will return it, with warm thanks to yourself and friend,
without blot or dog's ear. You will much oblige me by
this kindness.

Yours truly, C. Lamb.


Letter CCVIIL] January 23, '23.

Dear Payne— I have no mornings (my day begins at
5 p.m.) to transact business in, or talents for it, so I
employ Mary, who has seen Robertson, who says that the
Piece which is to be Operafied was sent to you six weeks
since by a Mr. Hunter, whose journey has been delayed,
but he supposes you have it by this time. On receiving
it back properly done, the rest of your dues will be forth-
coming. You have received £30 from Harwood, I hope 1
Bishop was at the theatre when Mary called, and he has
put your other piece into 0. Kemble's hands (the piece you
talk of offering Elliston) and 0. K. sent down word that
he had not yet had time to read it. So stand your affairs


at present. Glossop has got the "Murderer." Will you
address hirn on the subject, or shall I — that is, Mary 1
She says you must write more showable letters about
these matters, for, with all our trouble of crossing out
this word, and giving a cleaner turn to th' other, and
folding down at this part, and squeezing an obnoxious
epithet into a corner, she can hardly communicate their
contents without offence. What, man, put less gall in
your ink, or write me a biting tragedy !

C. Lamb.


Letter CCIX.] February 17, 1823. .

My dear Sir — I have read quite through the ponderous
folio of George Fox. I think Sewell has been judicious
in omitting certain parts, as for instance where G. F. has
revealed to him the natures of all the creatures in their
names, as Adam had. He luckily turns aside from that
compendious study of natural history, which might have
superseded Buffon, to his proper spiritual pursuits, only
just hinting what a philosopher he might have been.
The ominous passage is near the beginning of the book.
It is clear he means a physical knowledge, without trope
or figure. Also, pretences to miraculous healing, and the
like, are more frequent than I should have suspected from
the epitome in Sewell. He is nevertheless a great spirit-
ual man, and I feel very much obliged by your procuring
me the loan of it. How I like the Quaker phrases ! —
though I think they were hardly completed till Woolman.
A pretty little manual of Quaker language (with an
endeavour to explain them) might be gathered out of his
book. Could not you do it 1 I have read through G. F.
without finding any explanation of the term first volume
in the title-page. It takes in all, both his life and his


death. Are there more last words of him ? Pray how
may I return it to Mr. Shewell at Ipswich 1 I fear to
send such a treasure by a stage-coach ; not that I am
afraid of the coachman or the guard's reading it ; but it
might be lost. Can you put me in a way of sending it
in safety 1 The kind-hearted owner trusted it to me for
six months ; I think I was about as many days in getting
through it, and I do not think that I skipped a word of
it. I have quoted G. F. in my " Quaker's Meeting," as
having said he was " lifted up in spirit " (which I felt at
the time to be not a Quaker phrase), " and the judge and
jury were as dead men under his feet." I find no such
words in his journal, and I did not get them from Sewell,
and the latter sentence I am sure I did not mean to
invent : I must have put some other Quaker's words into
his mouth. Is it a fatality in me, that everything I
touch turns into "a lie "? I once quoted two lines from
a translation of Dante, which Hazlitt very greatly
admired, and quoted in a book as proof of the stupendous
power of that poet ; but no such lines are to be found in
the translation, which has been searched for the purpose.
I must have dreamed them, for I am quite certain I did
not forge them knowingly. What a misfortune to have
a lying memory ! Yes, I have seen Miss Coleridge, and
wish I had just such a — daughter. God love her ! To
think she should have had to toil through five octavos of
that cursed (I forget I write to a Quaker) Abbeypony
History, and then to abridge them to three, and all for
£113 ! — at her years to be doing stupid Jesuits' Latin
into English, when she should be reading or writing
romances ! Heaven send her uncle do not breed her up
a Quarterly Reviewer ! which reminds me that he has
spoken very respectfully of you in the last Number,
which is the next thing to having a Review all to one's
self. Your description of Mr. Mitford's place makes me
long for a pippin and some caraways, and a cup of sack
in his orchard, when the sweets of the night come in.
Farewell, C. Lamb.




Letter OCX.] February 1823.

My dear Miss Lamb — I have enclosed for you Mr.
Payne's piece called " Grandpapa," which I regret to say
is not thought to be of the nature that will suit this
theatre ; but as there appears to be much merit in it,
Mr. Kemble strongly recommends that you should send
it to the English Opera House, for which it seems to be
excellently adapted. As you have already been kind
enough to be our medium of communication with Mr.
Payne, I have imposed this trouble upon you ; but if you
do not like to act for Mr. Payne in the business, and
have no means of disposing of the piece, I will forward it
to Paris or elsewhere as you think he may prefer.

Very truly yours, Henry Robertson.

T. R. C. G., Feb. 8, 1823.

Dear P We have just received the above, and

want your instructions. It strikes me as a very merry
little piece, that should be played by very young actors.
It strikes me that Miss Clara Fisher would play the boy
exactly. She is just such a forward chit. No young
man would do it without its appearing absurd, but in a
girl's hands it would have just all the reality that a short
dream of an act requires. Then for the sister, if Miss
Stevenson that was were Miss Stevenson and younger,
they two would carry it off. I do not know who they have
got in that young line, besides Miss C. F., at Drury, nor
how you would like Elliston to have it — has he not had
it 1 I am thick with Arnold, but I have always heard
that the very slender profits of the English Opera House
do not admit of his giving above a trifle, or next to none,
for a piece of this kind. Write me what I should do,
what you would ask, etc. The music (printed) is returned


with the piece, and the French original. Tell Mr.
Grattan I thank him for his book, which as far as I have
read it is a very companionable one. I have but just
received it. It came the same hour with your packet
from Cov. Gar., i.e. yester-night late, to my summer
residence, where, tell Kenney, the cow is quiet. Love to
all at Versailles. Write quickly. C. L.

I have no acquaintance with Kemble at all, having
only met him once or twice ; but any information, etc., I
can get from R., who is a good fellow, you may command.
I am sorry the rogues are so dilatory, but I distinctly
believe they mean to fulfil their engagement. I am sorry
you are not here to see to these things. I am a poor
man of business, but command me to the short extent of
my tether. My sister's kind remembrance ever.

C. L.


Letter CCXI.] February 24, 1823.

Dear W. — I write that you may not think me
neglectful, not that I have anything to say. In answer
to your questions, it was at your house I saw an edition
of " Roxana," the preface to which stated that the author
had left out that part of it which related to Roxana's
daughter persisting in imagining herself to be so, in spite
of the mother's denial, from certain hints she had picked
up, and throwing herself continually in her mother's way
(as Savage is said to have done in his, prying in at
windows to get a glimpse of her), and that it was by
advice of Southern, who objected to the circumstances as
being untrue, when the rest of the story was founded on
fact; which shows S. to have been a stupid-ish fellow.
The incidents so resemble Savage's story, that I taxed
Godwin with taking Falkner from his life by Dr. Johnson.
You should have the edition (if you have not parted with


it), for I saw it never but at your place at the Mews'
Gate, nor did I then read it to compare it with my own ;
only I know the daughter's curiosity is the best part of
my " Roxana." The prologue you speak of was mine,
and so named, but not worth much. You ask me for
two or three pages of verse. I have not written so much
since you knew me. I am altogether prosaic. May be I
may touch off a sonnet in time. I do not prefer " Colonel
Jack" to either "Robinson Crusoe" or "Roxana." I
only spoke of the beginning of it, his childish history.
The rest is poor. I do not know anywhere any good
character of De Foe besides what you mention. I do not
know that Swift mentions him ; Pope does. I forget if
D'Israeli has. Dunlop I think has nothing of him. He
is quite new ground, and scarce known beyond " Crusoe."
I do not know who wrote " Quarl." I never thought of
" Quarl " as having an author. It is a poor imitation ;
the monkey is the best in it, and his pretty dishes made
of shells. Do you know the paper in the Englishman
by Sir Richard Steele, giving an account of Selkirk 1 It
is admirable, and has all the germs of " Crusoe." You
must quote it entire. Captain G. Carleton wrote his own
Memoirs ; they are about Lord Peterborough's campaign
in Spain, and a good book. "Puzzelli" puzzles me, and
I am in a cloud about " Donald M'Leod." I never heard
of them ; so you see, my dear Wilson, what poor assist-
ances I can give in the way of information. I wish your
book out, for I shall like to see anything about De Foe or
from you.

Your old friend, C. Lamb.

From my and your old compound.


Letter CCXIL] March 5, 1823.

Dear Sir — You must think me ill-mannered not to
have replied to your first letter sooner, but I have an ugly


habit of aversion from letter writing, which makes me an
unworthy correspondent. I have had no spring, or cordial
call to the occupation of late. I have been not well
lately, which must be my lame excuse. Your Poem,
which I consider very affecting, found me engaged about
a humorous Paper for the London, which I had called
"A Letter to an Old Gentleman whose education had
been neglected" — and when it was done Taylor and
Hessey would not print it, and it discouraged me from
doing anything else ; so I took up Scott, where I had
scribbled some petulant remarks, and for a make -shift
father'd them on Eitson. It is obvious I could not make
your Poem a part of them ; and as I did not know
whether I should ever be able to do to my mind what
you suggested, I thought it not fair to keep back the
verses for the chance. Mr. Mitford's Sonnet I like very
well ; but as I also have my reasons against interfering
at all with the Editorial arrangement of the London, I
transmitted it (not in my own handwriting) to them, who
I doubt not will be glad to insert it. What eventual
benefit it can be to you (otherwise than that a kind man's
wish is a benefit) I cannot conjecture. Your Society are
eminently men of business, and will probably regard you
as an idle fellow, possibly disown you ; that is to say, if
you had put your own name to a Sonnet of that sort ;
but they cannot excommunicate Mr. Mitford ; therefore I
thoroughly approve of printing the said verses. When I
see any Quaker names to the Concert of Ancient Music,
or as Directors of the British Institution, or bequeathing
medals to Oxford for the best classical themes, etc., then
I shall begin to hope they will emancipate you. But
what as a Society can they do for you 1 You would not
accept a commission in the army, nor they be likely to
procure it. Posts in Church or State have they none in
their giving ; and then, if they disown you, — think — you
must live " a man forbid."

I wished for you yesterday. I dined in Parnassus,
with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Rogers, and Tom Moore, —


half the poetry of England constellated and clustered in
Gloucester Place ! It was a delightful evening. Coleridge
was in his finest vein of talk — had all the talk ; and let
'em talk as evilly as they do of the envy of poets, I am
sure not one there but was content to be nothing but a
listener. The Muses were dumb while Apollo lectured
on his and their fine art. It is a lie that poets are
envious. I have known the best of them, and can speak
to it, that they give each other their merits, and are the
kindest critics as well as best authors. I am scribbling
a muddy epistle with an aching head, for we did not quaff
Hippocrene last night ; marry, it was Hippocrass rather.
Pray accept this as a letter in the meantime, and do me
the favour to mention my respects to Mr. Mitford, who
is so good as to entertain good thoughts of Elia, but don't
show this almost impertinent scrawl. I will write more
respectfully next time, for believe me, if not in words, in
feelings yours most so. C. L.

Letter CCXIII.] March 11, 1823.

Dear Sir — The approbation of my little book by your
sister is very pleasing to me. The Quaker incident did
not happen to me, but to Carlisle the surgeon, from whose
mouth I have twice heard it, at an interval of ten or
twelve years, with little or no variation, and have given
it as exactly as I could remember it. The gloss which
your sister or you have put upon it does not strike me as
correct. Carlisle drew no inference from it against the
honesty of the Quakers, but only in favour of their sur-
passing coolness ; that they should be capable of com-
mitting a good joke, with an utter insensibility to its
being any jest at all. I have reason to believe in the
truth of it, because, as I have said, I heard him repeat it
without variation at such an interval. The story loses
sadly in print, for Carlisle is the best story-teller I ever
heard. The idea of the discovery of roasting pigs I also


borrowed, from iny friend Manning, and am willing to
confess both my plagiarisms. Should fate ever so order
it that you shall be in town with your sister, mine bids
me say, that she shall have great pleasure in being intro-
duced to her. I think I must give up the cause of the
Bank ; from 9 to 9 is galley slavery, but I hope it is but
temporary. Your endeavour at explaining Fox's insight
into the natures of animals must fail, as I shall transcribe
the passage. It appears to me that he stopt short in
time, and was on the brink of falling with his friend
Naylor, my favourite. The book shall be forthcoming
whenever your friend can make convenient to call
for it.

They have dragged me again into the Magazine, but
I feel the spirit of the thing in my own mind quite gone.
" Some brains " (I think Ben Jonson says it) " will
endure but one skimming." We are about to have an
inundation of poetry from the Lakes : Wordsworth and
Southey are coming up strong from the North. The She
Coleridges have taken flight, to my regret. With Sara's
own-made acquisitions, her unaffectedness and no-preten-
sions are beautiful. You might pass an age with her
without suspecting that she knew anything but her
mother's tongue. I don't mean any reflections on Mrs.
Coleridge here. I had better have said her vernacular
idiom. Poor 0., I wish he had a home to receive his
daughter in ; but he is but as a stranger or a visitor in
this world.

How did you like Hartley's sonnets? The first, at
least, is vastly fine. I am ashamed of the shabby letters
I send, but I am by nature anything but neat. Therein
my mother bore me no Quaker. I never could seal a
letter without dropping the wax on one side, besides
scalding my fingers. I never had a seal, too, of my own.
Writing to a great man lately, who is moreover very
heraldic, I borrowed a seal of a friend, who by the female
side quarters the Protectorial arms of Cromwell. How
they must have puzzled my correspondent ! My letters


are generally charged as double at the Post Office, from
their inveterate clumsiness of foldure ; so you must not
take it disrespectful to yourself if I send you such ungainly
scraps. I think I lose £100 a year at the India House,
owing solely to my want of neatness in making up
accounts. How I puzzle 'em out at last is the wonder.
I have to do with millions ! !

It is time to have done my incoherences.

Believe me, yours truly, C. Lamb.


Letter CCXI V.] 1823.

Dear Payne — Your little books are most acceptable.
Tis a delicate edition. They are gone to the binder's.
When they come home I shall have two — the " Camp "
and " Patrick's Day " — to read for the first time. I may
say three, for I never read the " School for Scandal."
"Seen it I have, and in its happier days." With the
books Harwood left a truncheon or mathematical instru-
ment, of which we have not yet ascertained the use. It
is like a telescope, but unglazed. Or a ruler, but not
smooth enough. It opens like a fan, and discovers a
frame such as they weave lace upon at Lyons and Cham-
bery. Possibly it is from those parts. I do not value
the present the less for not being quite able to detect its
purport. When I can find any one coming your way I
have a volume for you, my Elias collected. Tell Poole,
his Cockney in the Lon. Mag. tickled me exceedingly.
Harwood is to be with us this evening with Fanny, who
comes to introduce a literary lady, who wants to see me,
— and whose portentous name is Plura, in English,
"many things." Now, of all God's creatures, I detest
letters -affecting, authors-hunting ladies. But Fanny
" will have it so." So Miss Many-Things and I are to
have a conference, of which you shall have the result. I


dare say she does not play at whist. Treasurer Robert-
son, whose coffers are absolutely swelling with pantomimic
receipts, called on me yesterday to say he is going to
write to you, but if I were also, I might as well say that
your last bill is at the Banker's, and will be honored on
the instant receipt of the third Piece, which you have
stipulated for. If you have any such in readiness, strike
while the iron is hot, before the Clown cools. Tell Mrs.
Kenney, that the Miss F. H. (or H. F.) Kelly, who has
begun so splendidly in Juliet, is the identical little Fanny
Kelly, who used to play on their green before their great
Lying-Inn Lodgings at Bayswater. Her career has stopt
short by the injudicious bringing her out in a vile new
Tragedy, and for a third character in a stupid old one, —
the "Earl of Essex." This is Macready's doing, who
taught her. Her recitation, etc. (not her voice or person),
is masculine. It is so clever, it seemed a male Debtit.
But cleverness is the bane of Female Tragedy especially.
Passions uttered logically, etc. It is bad enough in men-
actors. Could you do nothing for little Clara Fisher?
Are there no French Pieces with a Child in them 1 By
Pieces I mean here dramas, to prevent male -construc-
tions. Did not the Blue Girl remind you of some of
Congreve's women 1 Angelica or Millamant 1 To me
she was a vision of Genteel Comedy realised. Those kind
of people never come to see one. N'import — havn't I
Miss Many-Things coming 1 Will you ask Horace Smith
to [The remainder of this letter has been lost.~\

Letter CCXV.] 1823.

Dear Payne — A friend and fellow-clerk of mine, Mr.
White (a good fellow) coming to your parts, I would fain
have accompanied him, but am forced instead to send a
part of me, verse and prose, most of it from 20 to 30
years old, such as I then was, and I am not much altered.

Paris, which I hardly knew whether I liked when I


was in it, is an object of no small magnitude with me
now. I want to be going, to the Jardin des Plantes (is
that right, Louisa 1 ?) with you — to Pere la Chaise, La
Morgue, and all the sentimentalities. How is Talma, and
his (my) dear Shakspeare 1

If.B. — My friend White knows Paris thoroughly, and
does not want a guide. We did, and had one. We both
join in thanks. Do you remember a Blue-Silk Girl (Eng-
lish) at the Luxembourg, that did not much seem to
attend to the Pictures, who fell in love with you, and
whom I fell in love with — an inquisitive, prying, curious
Beauty — where is she ?

Votre Tres Humble Serviteur,

Charlois Agneau,

alias C. Lamb.

Guichy is well, and much as usual. He seems blind
to all the distinctions of life, except to those of sex.
Remembrance to Kenney and Poole.


Letter CCXVL] April 13, 1823.

Dear Lad — You must think me a brute beast, a
rhinoceros, never to have acknowledged the receipt of
your precious present. But indeed I am none of those
shocking things, but have arrived at that indisposition to
letter -writing which would make it a hard exertion to
write three lines to a king to spare a friend's life : whether
it is that the Magazine paying me so much a page I am
loath to throw away composition. How much a sheet
do you give your correspondents % I have hung up Pope,
and a gem it is, in my town room ; I hope for your
approval. Though it accompanies the Essay on Man, I
think that was not the poem he is here meditating. He
would have looked up, somehow affectedly, if he were


just conceiving "Awake, my St. John." Neither is he
in the Rape of the Lock mood exactly. I think he has
just made out the last lines of the " Epistle to Jervis,"
between gay and tender,

" And other beauties envy Worsley's eyes."

I'll be d . . .'d if that isn't the line. He is brooding
over it, with a dreamy phantom of Lady Mary floating
before him. He is thinking which is the earliest possible
day and hour that she will first see it. What a minia-
ture piece of gentility it is ! Why did you give it me 1
I do not like you enough to give you anything so good.

I have dined with T. Moore and breakfasted with
Rogers, since I saw you ; have much to say about them
when we meet, which I trust will be in a week or two.
I have been over-watched and over-poeted since Words-
worth has been in town. I was obliged for health's sake
to wish him gone, but now he is gone I feel a great loss.
I am going to Dalston to recruit, and have serious
thoughts of altering my condition, that is, of taking to
sobriety. What do you advise me ?

Rogers spake very kindly of you, as everybody does,
and none with so much reason as your C. L.


Letter CCXVIL] April 25, 1823.

Dear Miss H. — Mary has such an invincible reluctance
to any epistolary exertion, that I am sparing her a morti-
fication by taking the pen from her. The plain truth is,

Online LibraryCharles LambThe letters of Charles Lamb (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 31)