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P. 436, aftes the note on "Birth and Feeling" add : —

''^ yJge or length of service." Here was a note : —

Mrs. Inchbald seems to have fallen into the common mistake of the
character in some otherwise sensible observations on this comedy. " It
might be asked," she says, " whether this credulous steward was much
deceived in imputing a degraded taste, in the sentiments of love, to his
fair lady Olivia, as she actually did fall in love with a domestic, and one
who, from his extreme youth, was perhaps a greater reproach to her
discretion tlian had she cast a tender regard upon her old and faithful
servant."' But where does she gather the fact of his age.' Neither
Maria nor Fabian ever cast reproach upon liim.


cMoni^/Oc.dtai^^i^yt^Ma'^ii^it^.MM^^ '^.,j^^?a€/i/u. ^.^.i!l.



List of Portraits vii

Miscellaneous Correspondence I

Supplemental Letters iz6a

ELIA. — EssAVs which have appeared under that signature
in the " London Magazine : —

The South Sea House 129

Oxford in the Vacation 1 40

Christ's Hospital Five-and-Thirty Years Ago 148

The Two Races of Men 165

New Year's Eve 173

Mrs. Battle's Opinion on Whist 181

A Chapter on Ears 190

All Fools' DaxY 197

A Quakers' Meeting 202

The Old and the New Schoolmaster 209

Imperfect Sympathies 220

Witches, and Other Night Fears 231

Vaientine's Day 24°

My Relations 244

Mackery End, in Hertfordshire 252

My First Play ^59



Modern Gallantry 265

The Old Benchers of the Inneh Temple 270

Grace Before Meat 28 J

Dream Children ; A Revekie 294

Distant Correspondents 299

The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers 307

A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars in the

Metropolis 316

A Dissertation upon Roast Pig 327

A Bachelor's Complaint of the Behaviour of Married

People 336

On Some of the Old Actors 346

On the Artificlal Comedy of the Last Century .... 361

On the Acting of Munden 372

THE LAST ESSAYS OF ELIA — Being a Sequel to Essays
Published under that Name : —

I reface 377

Blackesmoor in H shire 383

Poor Relations 390

Detached Thoughtb on Books and Reading 399

Stage Illusion 4°7

To the Shade of Elliston 412

Notes to the Essays of Elia 417


Lamb, after Joseph frontispiece

Godwin face page 114

MUNDEN J, j> 372


Miscellaneous Correspondence.

Letter CCXCVI. [About 1822.]


Your lines are not to be understood reading on
one leg. They are sinuous, and to be won with
wrestling. I do assure you in sincerity that no-
thing you have done has given me greater satis-
faction. Your obscurity, where you are dark, which
is seldom, is that of too much meaning, not the
painful obscurity which no toil of the reader can
dissipate ; not the dead vacuum and floundering
place in which imagination finds no footing : it is
not the dimness of positive darkness, but of distance;
and he that reads and not discerns must get a better
pair of spectacles. I admire every piece in the
collection. I cannot say the first is best : when I do
so, the last read rises up in judgment. To your
Mother, to your Sister, to Mary dead, they are all
weighty with thought and tender with sentiment.
Your poetry is like no other. Those cursed dryads
and pagan trumperies of modern verse have put me
out of conceit of the very name of poetry. Your
verses are as good and as wholesome as prose, and
I have made a sad blunder if I do not leave you
with an impression that your present is rarely
valued. Charles Lamb.



Letter CCXCVIL] Dec 20, 1830.


Dear Dyer, — I should have written before to thank
you for your kind letter, written with your own hand.
It glads us to see your writing. It will give you
pleasure to hear that after so much illness we are
in tolerable health and spirits once more. Poor
Enfield, that has been so peaceable hitherto, has
caught the inflammatory fever ; the tokens are upon
her ; and a great fire was blazing last night in the
barns and haystacks of a farmer, about half a mile
from us. Where will these things end ? There is
no doubt of its being the work of some ill-disposed
rustic; but how is he to be discovered ? They go to
work in the dark with strange chemical preparations,
unknown to our forefathers. There is not even a
dark lantern, to have a chance of detecting these
Gux Fauxes. We are past the iron age, and are got
into the fiery age, undreamed of by Ovid. You are
lucky in Clifford's Inn, where I think you have few
ricks or stacks worth the burning. Pray, keep as
little corn by you as you can for fear of the worst.
It was never good times in England since the poor
began to speculate upon their condition. Formerly
they jogged on with as little reflection as horses.
The whistling ploughman went cheek by jowl with
his brother that neighed. Now the biped carries a
box of phosphorus in his leather breeches, and in the
dead of night the half-illuminated beast steals his
magic potion into a cleft in a barn, and half the
country is grinning with new fires. Farmer Gray-


Stock said something to the touchy rustic, that
he did not reHsh, and he writes his distaste in
flames. What a power to intoxicate his crude
brains, just muddlingly awake to perceive that some-
thing is wrong in the social system, — what a hellish
faculty above gunpowder ! Now the rich and poor
are fairly pitted. We shall see who can hang or
bum fastest. It is not always revenge that stimulates
these kindlings. There is a love of exerting mis-
chief. Think of a disrespected clod that was trod
into earth, that was nothing, on a sudden by
damned arts refined into an exterminating angel,
devouring the fruits of the earth and their growers
in a mass of fire ; what a new existence ! What a
temptation above Lucifer's ! Would clod be any
thing but a clod if he could resist it ? Why, here
was a spectacle last night for a whole country, a
bonfire visible to London, alarming her guilty towers,
and shaking the Monument with an ague fit, all
done by a little vial of phosphor in a clown's fob.
How he must grin, and shake his empty noddle in
clouds 1 The Vulcanian epicure ! Alas ! can we
ring the bells backward ? Can we unlearn the arts
that pretend to civilize, and then burn the world ?
There is a march of science ; but who shall beat the
drums for its retreat ? Who shall persuade the boor
that phosphor will not ignite ? Seven goodly stacks
of hay, with corn-barns proportionable, lie smoking
ashes and chaff, which man and beast would sputter
out and reject like those apples of asphaltes and
bitumen. The food for the inhabitants of earth will
quickly disappear. Hot rolls may say, " Fuimus
panes, fuit quartern-loaf, et ingens gloria apple-
pasty-orura." That the good old munching system

B 2


may last thy time and mine, good un-incendiary
George, is the devout prayer of thine,

To the last crust, C. Lamb.

Letter CCXCVIIL] .Feb. 22nd. 1831.


Dear Dyer, — Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Rogers's friends,
are perfectly assured that you never intended any
harm by an innocent couplet, and that in the revivifi-
cation of it by blundering Barker you had no hand
whatever. To imagine that at this time of day
Rogers broods over a fantastic expression of more
than thirty years' standing, would be to suppose him
indulging his '* Pleasures of Memory " with a ven-
geance. You never penned a line which for its own
sake you need, dying, wish to blot. You mistake
your heart if you think you can write a lampoon.
Your whips are rods of roses. Your spleen has ever
had for its object vices, not the vicious ; abstract
offences, not the concrete sinner. But you are sensi-
tive, and wince as much at the consciousness of
having committed a compliment, as another man
would at the perpetration of an affront. But do not
lug me into the same soreness of conscience with
yourself. I maintain, and will to the last hour, that
I never writ of you but con aniore ; that if any
allusion was made to your near-sightedness, it was
not for the purpose of mocking an infirmity, but of
connecting it with scholar-like habits : for is it not
erudite and scholarly to be somewhat near of sight
before age naturally brings on the malady ? You
could not then plead the obrepens senectus. Did I
not moreover make it an apology for a certain absence^


which some of our friends may have experienced,
when you have not on a sudden made recognition of
them in a casual street-meeting ? And did I not
strengthen your excuse for this slowness of recogni-
tion, by further accounting morally for the present
engagement of your mind in worthy objects ? Did I
not, in your person, make the handsomest apology
for absent-of-mind people that was ever made ? If
these things be not so, I never knew what I wrote, or
meant by my writing, and have been penning libels
all my life without being aware of it. Does it follow
that I should have exprest myself exactly in the
same way of those dear old eyes of yours now, now
that Father Time has conspired with a hard task-
master to put a last extinguisher upon them ? I
should as soon have insulted the Answerer of
Salmasius when he awoke up from his ended task
and saw no more with mortal vision. But you are
many films removed yet from Milton's calamity. You
write perfectly intelligibly. Marry, the letters are not
all of the same size or tallness ; but that only shows
your proficiency in the hands, text, german-hand,
court-hand, sometimes law-hand, and affords variety.
You pen better than you did a twelvemonth ago ; and
if you continue to improve, you bid fair to win the
golden pen which is the prize at your young gentle-
men's academy. But you must be aware of Valpy,
and his printing-house, that hazy cave of Trophonius,
out of which it was a mercy that you escaped with a
glimmer. Beware of MSS. and Variee Lectiones.
Settle the text for once in your mind, and stick to it.
You have some years' good sight in you yet, if you
do not tamper with it. It is not for you (for us I
should say) to go poring into Greek contractions, and


Star-gazing upon slim Hebrew points. We have yet
the sight

Of sun, and moon, and star, tliroughout the year.
And man and woman.

You have vision enough to discern Mrs, Dyer from
the other comely gentlewoman who lives up at stair-
case No. 5 ; or, if you should make a blunder in the
twilight, Mrs. Dyer has too much good sense to be
jealous for a mere effect of imperfect optics. But
don't try to write the Lord's Prayer, Creed, and Ten
Commandments in the compass of a half-penny ;
nor run after a midge, or a mote, to catch it ; and
leave off hunting for needles in bundles of hay, for
all these things strain the eyes. The snow is six feet
deep in some parts here. I must put on jack-boots
to get at the Post-Office with this. It is not good
for weak eyes to pore upon snow too much. It lies
in drifts. I wonder what its drift is ; only that it
makes good pancakes, remind Mrs. Dyer. It turns a
pretty green world into a white one. It glares too
much for an innocent colour methinks. I wonder
why you think I dislike gilt edges. They set off a
letter marvellously. Yours, for instance, looks for all
the world like a tablet of curious hieroglyphics in a
gold frame. But don't go and lay this to your eyes.
You always wrote hieroglyphically, yet not to come
up to the mystical notations and conjuring characters
of Dr. Parr. You never wrote what I call a school-
master's hand, like Mrs. Clarke ; nor a woman's hand,
like Southey; nor a missal hand, like Person ; nor
an all-of-the-wrong-side sloping hand, like Miss
Hayes ; nor a dogmatic, Mede-and-Persian, perem.p-
tory hand, like Rickman ; but you ever wrote what I
call a Grecian's hand ; what the Grecians write (or


used) at Christ's Hospital ; such as Whalley would
have admired, and Boyer have applauded, but Smith
or Atwood (writing-masters) would have horsed you for.
Your boy-of-genius hand and your mercantile hand
are various. By your flourishes, I should think you
never learned to make eagles or corkscrews, or flourish
the governors' names in the writing-school ; and by
the tenour and cut of your letters, I suspect you
were never in it at all. By the length of this scrawl
70U will think I have a design upon your optics ; but
I have writ as large as I could, out of respect to
them ; too large, indeed, for beauty. Mine is a sort
deputy Grecian's hand ; a little better, and more of a
worldly hand, than a Grecian's, but still remote from
the mercantile. I don't know how it is, but I keep
my rank in fancy still since school-days. I can
never forget I was a deputy Grecian 1 And writing
to you, or to Coleridge, besides affection, I feel a
reverential deference as to Grecians still. I keep my
soaring way above the Great Erasmians,^ yet far
beneath the other. Alas ! what am I now ? What is
a Leadenhall clerk, or India pensioner, to a deputy
Grecian ? How art thou fallen, Lucifer 1 Just
room for our loves to Mrs. D., &c. C. Lamb.

' The third form at Christ's Hospital, is called the Great Erasmus,
(or, for short, the Great Eras,) after Erasmus Smith. The fourth
form is called the Little Erasmus, — H.


Letter CCXCIX.] Dec. zi, 1834.


Dear Mrs. Dyer, — I am very uneasy about a Book,
which I either have lost or left at your house on
Thursday. It was the book I went out to fetch from
Miss Buffam's while the tripe was frying. It is
called " Phillip's Theatrum Poetarum," but it is an
English book. I think I left it in the parlour. It is
Mr. Carey's book, and I would not lose it for the
world. Pray, if you find it, book it at the Swan,
Snow Hill, by an Edmonton stage immediately,
directed to Mr. Lamb, Church Street, Edmonton, or
write to say you cannot find it. I am quite anxious
about it. If it is lost, I shall never like tripe again.

With kindest love to Mr. Dyer and all,

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.

Letter CCC]

to mr. r'ickman.

Dear Rickman, — The enclosed letter explains itself.
It will save me the danger of a corporal interview
with the man-eater, who, if very sharp set, may take
a fancy to me, if you will give me a short note,
declaratory of probabilities. These from him who
hopes to see you once or twice more before he goes


hence, to be no more seen : for there is no tipple nor
tobacco in the grave, whereunto he hasteneth.

C. Lamb.

1 6, Mitre Court Buildings,

Inner Temple,
How clearly the Goul writes, and like a gentleman !
jipril 10th, 1802.

Letter CCCL]

to the same.

Dear Rickman, — I enclose you a wonder, a letter
from the shades. A dead body wants to return, and
be inroUed inter vivos. 'Tis a gentle ghost, and in
this Galvanic age it may have a chance.

Mary and I are setting out for the Isle of Wight.
We make but a short stay, and shall pass the time
betwixt that place and Portsmouth, where Fen wick is.
I sadly wanted to explore the Peak this Summer;
but Mary is against steering without card or com-
pass, and we should be at large in Darbyshire.

We shall be at home this night and to-morrow, if
you can come and take a farewell pipe.

I regularly transmitted your Notices to the Morning
Post, but they have not been duly honoured. The
fault lay not in me.

Yours truly,

C. Lamb,

Saturday Morning,

July 16, 1803.


Letter CCCIL] Jan. 25, 1806.


Dear Rickman, — You do not happen to have any
place at your disposal which would suit a decayed
Literatus ? I do not much expect that you have, or
that you will go much out of the way to serve the
object, when you hear it is Fell. But the case is, by
a mistaking of his turn, as they call it, he is reduced,
I am afraid, to extremities, and would be extremely
glad of a place in an office. Now it does sometimes
happen, that just as a man wants a place, a place
wants him ; and though this is a lottery to which
none but G. Burnett would choose to trust his all,
there is no harm just to call in at Despair's office for
a friend, and see if his number is come up, (Burnett's
further case I enclose by way of episode.) Now, if
you should happen, or any body you know, to want a
hand, here is a young man of solid but not brilliant
genius, who would turn his hand to the making out of
dockets, penning a manifesto, or scoring a tally, not
the worse (I hope) for knowing Latin and Greek, and
having in youth conversed with the philosophers.
But from these follies I believe he is thoroughly
awakened, and would bind himself by a terrible oath
never to imagine himself an extraordinary genius

Yours, &c., C. Lamb.

Letter CCCIIL] March. 1806.


Dear Rickman, — I send you some papers about a
salt-\v»ater soap, for which the inventor is desirous of


getting a parliamentary reward, like Dr. Jenner.
Whether such a project be feasible, I mainly doubt,
taking for granted the equal utility. I should sup-
pose the usual way of paying such projectors is by
patent and contracts. The patent, you see, he has
got. A contract he is about with the Navy Board.
Meantime, the projector is hungry. Will you answer
me two questions, and return them with the papers
as soon as you can ? Imprimis, is there any chance
of success in application to Parliament for a reward ?
Did you ever hear of the invention ? You see its
benefits and saving to the nation (always the first
motive with a true projector) are feelingly set forth :
the last paragraph but one of the estimate, in enu-
merating the shifts poor seamen are put to, even
approaches to the pathetic. But, agreeing to all he
says, is there the remotest chance of Parliament
giving the projector any thing? And when should
application be made, now, or after a report (if he can
get it) from the Navy Board ? Secondly, let the
infeasibility be as great as you will, you will oblige
me by telling me the way of introducing such an
application in Parliament, without buying over a ma-
jority of members, which is totally out of projector's
power. I vouch nothing for the soap myself; for I
always wash in fresh water, and find it answer tole-
rably well for all purposes of cleanliness ; nor do I
know the projector ; but a relation of mine has put
me on writing to you, for whose parliamentary know-
ledge he has great veneration.

P.S. The Capt. and Mrs. Burney and Phillips
take their chance at cribbage here on Wednesday.
Will you and Mrs. R. join the party ? Mary desires


her compliments to Mrs. R., and joins in the invita-

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.

Letter CCCIV.] [1829.]

to mr. serjeant talfourd.

Dear Talfourd, — You could not have told me of a
more friendly thing than you have been doing. I
am proud of my namesake, I shall take care never
to do any dirty action, pick pockets, or anyhow get
myself hanged, for fear of reflecting ignominy upon
your young Chrisom. I have now a motive to be
good. I shall not omnis moriar ; — my name borne
down the black gulf of oblivion.

I shall survive in eleven letters, five more than
Caesar. Possibly I shall come to be knighted, or
more ! Sir C. L. Talfourd, Bart. !

Yet hath it an authorish twang with it, which will
wear out my name for poetry. Give him a smile
from me till I see him. If you do not drop down
before, some day in the week after next I will come
and take one night's lodging with you, if convenient,
before you go hence. You shall name it. We are
in town to-morrow speciali gratia, but by no arrange-
ment can get up near you.

Believe us both, with greatest regards, yours and
Mrs. Talfourd's.

Charles Lamb-Philo-Talfourd.

I come as near it as I can.


Letter CCCV.] Feb. 1833.


My dear T., — Now cannot I call him Serjeant ;
what is there in a coif? Those canvas sleeves pro-
tective from ink,^ when he was a law-chit — a Chitty-
ling, (let the leathern apron be apocryphal,) do more
'specially plead to the Jury Court, of old memory.
The costume (will he agnize it ?) was as of a desk-
fellow, or Socius Plutei. Methought I spied a
brother !

That familiarity is extinct for even Curse me if I
can call him Mr. Serjeant — except, mark me, in com-
pany. Honour where honour is due ; but should he
ever visit us, (do you think he ever will, Mary?)
what a distinction should I keep up between him and
our less fortunate friend, H. C. E. ! Decent respect
shall always be the Crabb's — but, somehow, short of

Well, of my old friends, I have lived to see two
knighted, one made a judge, another in a fair way to
it. Why am I restive ? why stands my sun upon

Variously, rpy dear Mrs. Talfourd, [I can be more
familiar with her !] Mrs. Serjeant Talfourd, — my
sister prompts me — (these ladies stand upon cere-
monies) — has the congratulable news affected the
members of our small community. Mary compre-
hended it at once, and entered into it heartily. Mrs.

W was, as usual, perverse ; wouldn't, or couldn't,

understand it. A Serjeant ? She thought Mr. T.
was in the law. Didn't know that he ever 'listed.

1 Mr. Lamb always insisted that the costume referred to was worn
when he first gladdened his young friend by a call at Mr. Chitty's
Chambers. I am afraid it is all apocryphal T.



Emma alone truly sympathized. She had a silk
gown come home that very day, and has precedence
before her learned sisters accordingly.

We are going to drink the health of Mr. and Mrs.
Serjeant, with all the young serjeantry ; and that is
all that I can see that I shall get by the promotion.

Valete, et mementote amici quondam vestri
humillimi. C. L.

Letter CCCVL] Aug. 31st, 1817.


My dear Barron, — The bearer of this letter so far
across the seas is Mr. Lawrey, who comes out to you
as a missionary, and whom I have been strongly im-
portuned to recommend to you as a most worthy
creature by Mr. Fenwick, a very old, honest friend
of mine ; of whom, if my memory does not deceive
me, you have had some knowledge heretofore as
editor of the Statesman ; a man of talent, and patriotic.
If you can show him any facilities in his arduous
undertaking, you will oblige us much. Well, and
how does the land of thieves use you ? and how do
you pass your time, in your extra-judicial intervals ?
Going about the streets with a lantern, like Diogenes,
looking for an honest man ? You may look long
enough, I fancy. Do give me some notion of the
manners of the inhabitants where you are. They


don't thieve all day long do they ? No human pro-
perty could stand such continuous battery. And
what do they do when they an't stealing ?

Have you got a theatre ? What pieces are per-
formed ? Shakspeare's, I suppose ; not so much for
the poetry, as for his having once been in danger of
leaving his country on account of certain " small

Have you poets among you ? Damn'd plagiarists,
I fancy, if you have any. I would not trust an idea,
or a pocket-handkerchief of mine, among 'em. You
are almost competent to answer Lord Bacon's
problem, whether a nation of atheists can subsist
together. You are practically in one :

"So thievish 'tis, that the eighth commandment itself
Scarce seemeth there to be."

Our old honest world goes on with little perceptible
variation. Of course you have heard of poor
Mitchell's death, and that G. Dyer is one of Lord
Stanhope's residuaries. I am afraid he has not
touched much of the residue yet. He is positively
as lean as Cassius. Barnes is going to Demerara,
or Essequibo, I ,am not quite certain which. Alsager
is turned actor. He came out in genteel comedy at
Cheltenham this season, and has hopes of a London

For my own history, I am just in the same spot,
doing the same thing, (videlicet, little or nothing,) as
when you left me ; only I have positive hopes that I
shall be able to conquer that inveterate habit of
smoking which you may remember I indulged in. I
think of making a beginning this evening, viz.
Sunday, 31st Aug., 1817, not Wednesday, 2nd Feb.,
i8i8, as it will be perhaps when you read this for the

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