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THE WORKS



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IN FOUR VOLUMES.
VOL. I.



s



A NEW EDITION.



BOSTON:
WILLIAM VEAZIE.

NEW YORK:

HURD AND HOUGHTON.

1864.



■i-«.



CAM bridge:
stereotyped by h. o. houghton.

boston:
printed by john wilson and son.



CONTEISIK



LETTERS.

CHAPTER I.— [1775 to 1796.]

PAGB
lamb's parentage, SCHOOL-DATS, AND YOUTH, TO THE
COMMENCEMENT OF HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH
COLERIDGE 11

CHAPTER n. — [1796.]
LETTERS TO COLERIDGE 29

CHAPTER ni. — [1797.]
LETTERS TO COLERIDGE 51

CHAPTER IV. —[1798.]

lamb's LITERARY EFFORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE WITH

SOUTHEY 74

CHAPTER v. — [1799, 1800.]

LETTERS TO SOUTHEY, COLERIDGE, MA^TNING, AND WORDS-
WORTH 100

CHAPTER VI.— [1800.]

LETTERS TO MANNING, AFTER LAMB'S REMOVAL TO THE

TEMPLE 136

CHAPTER VII. — [1801 to 1804.]
LETTERS TO MANNING, WORDSWORTH, AND COLERIDGE ;

JOHN WOODVIL REJECTED, PUBLISHED, AND REVIEWED 158



VI CONTENTS.

CHAPTER Vin. — [1804 to 1806.]

PAGB
LETTERS TO MANNING, WORDSWORTH, RICKMAN, AND HAZ-

LITT. — " MR. H." WRITTEN, — ACCEPTED, — DAMNED 195

CHAPTER IX. — [1807 xo 1814.]

LETTERS TO MANNING, MONTAGUE, WORDSWORTH, AND

COLERIDGE 229

CHAPTER X. — [1815 to 1817.]
LETTERS TO WORDSWORTH, SOUTHEY, AND MANNING . 255

CHAPTER XI. — [1818 to 1820.]

LETTERS TO WORDSWORTH, SOUTHEY, MANNING, AND

COLERIDGE . . . , . . . . 283

CHAPTER XII. — [1820 TO 1823.]

LETTERS TO WORDSWORTH, COLERIDGE, FIELD, WILSON,

AND BARTON 301

CHAPTER Xm. — [1823.]
lamb's CONTROVERSY WITH SOUTHEY .... 329

CHAPTER XrV.— [1823 to 1825.]
LETTERS TO AINSWORTH, BARTON, AND COLERIDGE . 359

CHAPTER XV. — [1825.]
lamb's EMANCIPATION FROM THE INDIA HOUSE . . 381

CHAPTER XVI. — [1826 to 1828.]

LETTERS TO ROBINSON, CARY, COLERIDGE, PATMORE,

PROCTER, AND BARTON 396



THE LETTERS

OF

CHARLES LAMB.

WITH

A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE

BY

SIR THOMAS NOON TALFOURD, D. C. L.,

ONE OF HIS EXECUTORS.



TO

MARY ANNE LAMB,

THESE LETTERS,

THE MEMORIALS OF MANY YEARS WHICH SHE SPENT WITH
THE WRITER IN UNDIVIDED AFFECTION;

)F THE SORROWS AND THE JOY'S SHE SHARED, OF THE GENIUS WHICH

SHE CHERISHED, AND OF THE EXCELLENCES WHICH

SHE BEST knew;

ARE

RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED,

BY THE EDITOR



PREFACE.



The share of the Editor in these volumes can
scarcely be regarded too slightly. The successive
publications of Lamb's works form almost the only
events of his life which can be recorded ; and upon
these criticism has been nearly exhausted. Little,
therefore, was necessary to accompany the Letters,
except such thread of narrative as might connect them
together ; and such explanations as might render their
allusions generally understood. The reader's gratitude
for the pleasure which he will derive from these memo-
rials of one of the most delightful of English writers is
wholly due to his correspondents, who have kindly in-
trusted the precious relics to the care of the Editor,
and have permitted them to be given to the world ;
and to Mr. Moxon, by whose interest and zeal they
have been chiefly collected. He may be allowed to
express his personal sense of the honor which he has
received in such a trust from men, some of whom are
among the greatest of England's living authors, — to
Wordsworth, Southey, Manning, Barton, Proctor, Gil-
man, Patmore, Walter, Wilson, Field, Robinson, Dyer,
Gary, Ainsworth, to Mr. Green, the executor of Cole-
ridge, and to the surviving relatives of Hazlitt. He
is also most grateful to Lamb's esteemed schoolfellow,



10 PREFACE.

Mr. Le Grice, for supplying an interesting part of his
history. Of the few additional facts of Lamb's history,
the chief have been supplied by Mr. Moxon, in whose
welfare he took a most affectionate interest to the close
of his life ; and who has devoted some beautiful son-
nets to his memory.

The recentness of the period of some of the letters
has rendered it necessary to omit many portions of
them, in which the humor and beauty are interwoven
with personal references, which, although wholly fi*ee
from anything which, rightly understood, could give
pain to any human being, touch on subjects too sacred
for public exposure. Some of the personal allusions
which have been retained, may seem, perhaps, too free
to a stranger ; but theyi^nglVe been retained only in
cases in which the Editor ^ well assured the parties
would be rather gratifiei ithan displeased at seeing
their names connected in^^elike association with one
so dear to their memories.

The italics and the capitals are invariably those indi-
cated by the MSS. It is to be regretted that in the
printed letters the reader must lose the curious varieties
of writing with which the originals abound, and which
are scrupulously adapted to the subjects.

Many letters yet remain unpublished, which will
farther illustrate the character of Mr. Lamb, but which
must be reserved for a future time, when the Editor
hopes to do more justice to his own sense of the genius
and the excellence of his friend, than it has been possi-
ble for him to accomplish in these volumes.

T. N. T.

Russell Square, 26th June, 1837.



LETTERS, &c. OF CHARLES LAMB.



CHAPTER I.

[1775 to 1796.]

lamb's parentage, school-days, and youth, to the
commencement of his correspondence with cole-
RIDGE.

Charles Lamb was bom on 10th February, 1775,
in Crown-Office Row, in the Inner Temple, where he
spent the first seven years of his life. His parents
were in a humble station, but they were endued with
sentiments and with manners which might well become
the gentlest blood ; and fortune, which had denied them
wealth, enabled them to bestow on their children some
of the happiest intellectual advantages which wealth
ever confers. His father, Mr. John Lamb, who came
up a little boy fi"om Lincoln, fortimately both for him-
self and his master, entered into the service of Mr. Salt,
one of the Benchers of the Inner Temple, a widower,
who, growing old within its precincts, was enabled to
appreciate and to reward his devotedness and intelli-
gence ; and to whom he became, in the language of his
son, " his clerk, his good servant, his dresser, his friend,



12 PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH.

his flapper, his giiide, stop-watch, auditor, treasurer." *
Although contented with his lot, and discharging its
duties with the most patient assiduity, he was not with-
out literary ambition ; and having written some occa-
sional verses to grace the festivities of a benefit society
of which he was a member, was encouraged by his
brother members to publish, in a thin quarto, " Poet-
ical Pieces on several Occasions." This volume con-
tains a lively picture of the life of a lady's footman of
the last century ; the " History of Joseph," told in
well-measured heroic couplets ; and a pleasant piece,
after the manner of " Gay's Fables," entitled the
" Sparrow's Wedding," which was the author's favor-
ite, and which, when he fell into the dotage of age,
he delighted to hear Charles read.f His wife was a

* Lamb has given characters of his father (under the name of Level),
and of Mr. Salt, in one of the most exquisite of all the Essays of Elia, —
" The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple." Of Level, he says, " He was
a man of an incorrigible and losing honesty. A good fellow withal, and
' would strike.' In the cause of the oppressed he never considered ine-
qualities, or calculated the number of his opponents. He once wrested a
sword out of the hand of a man of quality that had drawn upon him; and
pommelled him severely with the hilt of it. The swordsman had offered
insult to a female, — an occasion upon which no odds against him could
have prevented the interference of Level. He would stand next day bare-
headed to the same person, modestly to excuse his interference, — for L.
never forgot rank, where something better was not concerned. L. was the
liveliest little fellow breathing; had a face as gay as Garrick's, whom he
was said greatly to resemble; (I have a portrait of him which confirms
it;) possessed a fine turn for humorous poetry, — next to Swift and Prior;
moulded heads in clay or plaster of Paris to admiration, by the dint of
natural genius merely; turned cribbage-boards and such small cabinet
toys to perfection; took a hand at quadrille or bowls with equal facility;
made punch better than any man of his degree in England; had the mer-
riest quips and conceits; and was altogether as brimful of rogueries and
inventions as you could desire. He was a brother of the angle, moreover ;
and just such a free, hearty, honest companion as Mr. Izaak Walton
would have chosen to go a fishing with."

t The following little poem, entitled " A Letter from a Child to its



PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH. 13

woman of appearance so matronly and commanding,
that, according to the recollection of one of Lamb's
dearest schoolmates, " she might be taken for a sister
of Mrs. Siddons." This excellent couple were blessed
Avith three children, John, Mary, and Charles ; John
being twelve and Mary ten years older than Charles.
John, who is vividly described in the Essay of Elia en-
titled " My Relations," under the name of James Elia,
rose to fill a lucrative office in the South-Sea House,
and died a few years ago, having to the last fulfilled
the affectionate injunction of Charles, to " keep the
elder brother up in state." Mary (the Bridget of the
same essay) still survives, to mourn the severance of a
life-long association, as free from every alloy of selfish-
ness, as remarkable for moral beauty, as this world
ever witnessed in brother and sister.

On the 9th of October, 1782, when Charles Lamb
had attained the age of seven, he was presented to the
school of Christ's Hospital, by Timothy Yeates, Esq.,

Grandmother," written by Mr. John Lamb for his eldest son, though pos-
sessing no merit beyond simplicity of expression, may show the manner
in which he endeavored to discharge his parental duties : —

" Dear Grandam,

Pray to God to bless
Your grandson dear, with happiness ;
That, as I do advance each year,
I may be taught my God to fear ;
My little frame from passion free.
To man's estate from infancy;
From vice, that turns a youth aside.
And to have wisdom for my guide;
That I may neither lie nor swear,
But in the path of virtue steer;
My actions generous, firm, and just,
Be always faithful to my trust;
And thee the Lord will ever bless.
Your grandson dear,

John L , the Less."



14 PARENTAGE, SCHOOt-DAYS, AND YOUTH.

Governor, as " the son of John Lamb, scrivener, and
EHzaheth his wife," and remained a scholar of that
noble establishment till he had entered into his fifteenth
year. Small of stature, delicate of frame, and consti-
tutionally nervous and timid, he would seem unfitted
to encounter the discipline of a school foraied to re-
strain some hundreds of lads in the heart of the me-
tropolis, or to fight his way among them. But the
sweetness of his disposition won him favor from all ;
and although the antique peculiarities of the school
tinged his opening imagination, they did not sadden his
childhood. One of his schoolfellows, of whose genial
qualities he has made affectionate mention in his " Rec-
ollections of Christ's' Hospital," Charles V. Le Grice,
now of Treriefe, near Penzance, has supplied me with
some particulars of his school-days, for which friends of
a later date will be gratefiil. "Lamb," says Mr. Le
Grice, " was an amiable gentle boy, very sensible and
keenly observing, indulged by his schoolfellows and by
his master on account of his infirmity of speech. His
countenance was mild ; his complexion clear brown,
with an expression which might lead you to think that
he was of Jewish descent. His eyes were not each- of
the same color, one was hazel, the other had specks of
gray in the iris, mingled as we see red spots in the
blood-stone. His step was plantigrade, which made
his walk slow and peculiar, adding to the staid ap-
pearance of his figure. I never heard his name men-
tioned without the addition of Charles, although, as
there was no other boy of the name of Lamb, the
addition was unnecessary ; but there was an implied
kindness in it, and it was a proof that his gentle man-
ners excited that kindness."



PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH. 15

" His delicate fi-ame and his difficulty of utterance,
which was increased by agitation, unfitted him for
joining in any boisterous sport. The description which
hi gives, in his ' Recollections of Christ's Hospital,' of
thfe habits and feelings of the schoolboy, is a true one
in general, but is more particularly a delineation of
himself, — the feelings were all in his own heart, — the
portrait was his own : ' While others were all fire and
play, he stole along with all the self-concentration of a
young monk.' These habits and feelings were awak-
ened and cherished in him by pecuhar circumstances :
he had been born and bred in the Inner Temple ; and
his parents continued to reside there while he was at
school, so that he passed from cloister to cloister, and
this was all the change his young min$ ever knew.
On every half-holiday (and there were two in the
week) in ten minutes he was in the gardens, on the
terrace, or at the fountain of the Temple : here was
his home, here his recreation ; and the influence they
had on his infant mind is vividly shown in liis descrip-
tion of the Old Benchers. He says, ' I was born and
passed the first seven years of my life in the Temple : '
he might have added, that here he passed a great por-
tion of the second seven years of his hfe, a portion
which mixed itself with all his habits and enjoyments,
and gave a bias to the whole. Here he found a happy
home, affectionate parents, and a sister who watched
over him to the latest hour of his existence (God be
with her !) with the tenderest solicitude ; and here he
had access to the library of Mr. Salt, one of the Bench-
ers, to whose memory his pen has given, in return for
this and greater favors, — I do not think it extravagant
to sav — immortalitv. To use his own language, here



16 PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH.

he ' was tumbled into a spacious closet of good old Eng-
lish reading, where he browsed at will upon that fair
and wholesome pasturage.' He applied these words to
his sister ; but there is no doubt they ' browsed ' to-
gether ; they had walked hand in hand from a time
'extending beyond the period of their memory.' "

When Lamb quitted school, he was in the lower
division of the second class, — which in the language
of the school is termed "being in Greek Form, but
not Deputy Grecian." He had read Virgil, Sallust,
Terence, selections from Lucian's Dialogues, and Xen-
ophon ; and had evinced considerable skill in the
niceties of Latin composition, both in prose and verse.
His docility and aptitude for the attainment of classical
knowledge would have insured him an exhibition ; but
to this the impediment in his speech proved an insu-
perable obstacle. The exhibitions were given under
the implied, if not expressed, condition of entering into
the Church ; the whole course of education was pre-
paratory to that end ; and therefore Lamb, who was
unfitted by nature for the clerical profession, was not
adopted into the class which led to it, and quitted school
to pursue the uncongenial labor of the "desk's dull
wood." To this apparently hard lot he submitted with
cheerftilness, and saw his schoolfellows of his own stand-
ing depart, one after another, for the University without
a murmur. This acquiescence in his different fortune
must have been a hard trial for the sweetness of his
disposition ; as he always, in after-life, regarded the
ancient seats of learning with the fondness of one who
had been hardly divorced from them. He delighted,
when other duties did not hinder, to pass his vacations
in their neighborhood, and indulge in that fancied as-



PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH. 17

sociation with them which he has so beautifully mir-
rored in his "Somiet written at Cambrido-e."* What
worldly success can, indeed, ever compensate for the
want of timely nurture beneath the shade of one of
these venerable institutions, — for the sense of antiquity
shading, not checking, the joyous inpulses of opening
manhood, — for the refinement and the grace there in-
terfused into the long labor of ambitious study, — for
young friendships consecrated by the associations of
long past time ; and for liberal emulation, crowned by
successes restrained from ungenerous and selfish pride
by palpable symbols of the genius and the learning of
ages ?

On 23d November, 1789, Lamb finally quitted
Christ's Hospital for the abode of his parents, who still
resided in the Temple. At first he was employed in
the South-Sea House, under his brother John ; but on
the 5th April, 1792, he obtained an appointment in the
accountant's office of the East India Company. His
salary, though then small, was a welcome addition to
the scanty means of his parents ; who now were xm~
able, by their own exertions, to increase it, his mother

* I was not train'd in academic bowers,
And to those learned streams I nothing owe
"Which copious from those twin fair founts do flow;
Mine have been anything but studious hours.
Yet can I fancy, wandering 'mid thy towers,
Myself a nursling, Granta, of thy lap;
My brow seems tightening with the doctor's cap,
And I walk gowned; feel unusual powers.
Strange forms of logic clotiie my admiring speech;
Old Ramus' ghost is busy at mj' brain;
And my skull teems with notions infinite.
Be still, ye reeds of Camus, while I teach
Truths which transcend the searching schoolmen's vein,
And half had stagger'd that stout Stagirite!

VOL. I. 2



18 PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH.

being in ill health, which confined her to her bed, and
his father sinking into dotage. On their comfort, how-
ever, this, and what was more precious to him, his little
leisure, were freely bestowed; and his recreations were^
confined to a delightful visit to the two-shilling gallery
of the theatre, in company with his sister, and an occa-
sional supper with some of his schoolmates, when in
town, from Cambridge. On one of these latter occa-
sions he obtained the appellation of Ciuy, by which he
was always called among them ; but of which few of
his late friends heard till after his death. " In the first
year of his clerkship," says Mr. Le Grice, in the com-
munication with which he favored me, " Lamb spent
the evenino; of the 5th November with some of his for-
mer schoolfellows, who, being amused with the partic-
ularly large and flapping brim of his round hat, pinned
it up on the sides in the form of a cocked-hat. Lamb
made no alteration in it, but walked home in his usual
sauntering gait towards the Temple. As he was going
down Ludgate-hill, some gay young men, who seemed
riot to have passed the London Tavern without resting,
exclaimed, ' The veritable Guy ! — no man of straw ! '
and with this exclamation they took him up, making a
chair with their arms, carried him, seated him on a post
in St. Paul's churchyard, and there left him. This
story Lamb told so seriously, that the truth of it was
never doubted. He wore his three-cornered hat many
evenings, and retained the name of Guy ever after.
Like Nym, he quietly sympathized in the fun, and
seemed to say, ' that was the humor of it.' A clef^
gyman of the City lately wrote to me, ' I have no
recollection of Lamb. There was a gentleman called
Guy, to whom you once introduced me, and with



1



PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH. 19

whom I have occasionally interchanged nods for more
than thirty years ; but how is it that I never met Mr.
Lamb ? If I was ever introduced to him, I wonder
.that we never came in contact during my residence for
ten years in Edmonton.' Imagine this gentleman's
surprise when I informed him that his nods to Mr.
Guy had been constantly reciprocated by Mr. Lamb ! "
During these years Lamb's most frequent companion
was James White, or rather, Jem White, as he always
called him. Lamb always insisted that for hearty joy-
ous humor, tinged with Shaksperian fancy, Jem never
had an equal. " Jem White ! " said he, to Mr. Le
Grice, when they met for the last time, after many
vears' absence, at the Bell at Edmonton, in June,
1833, " there never was his like ! We never shall see
such days as those in which Jem flourished ! " All
that now remains of Jem is the celebration of the sup-
pers which he gave the young chimney-sweepers in the
Elia of his friend, and a thin duodecimo volume, which
he published in 1796, under the title of the " Letters
of Sir John Falstaff, with a dedication (printed in black-
letter) to Master Samuel Irelaunde," which those who
knew Lamb at the time believed to be his. " White's
Letters," said Lamb, in a letter to a friend about this
time, " are near publication. His frontispiece is a good
conceit : Sir John learning to dance, to please jNIadame
Page, in dress of doublet, &c., from the upper half, and
modern pantaloons, with shoes of the eighteenth cen-
tury, from the lower half, and the whole work is fiill
of goodly quips and rare fancies, ' all deftly masked
like hoar antiquity,' — much superior to Dr. Kenrick's
' Falstaff 's Wedding.' " The work was neglected, al-
though Lamb exerted all the influence he subsequently



20 PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH.

acquired with more popular writers to obtain for it
favorable notices, as will be seen from various passages
in his letters. He stuck, however, gallantly by his
favorite prot(3g^ ; and even when he could little afford
to disburse sixpence, he made a point of buying a copy
of the book whenever he discovered one amidst the
refuse of a bookseller's stall, and would present it to a
friend in the hope of making a convert. He gave me
one of these copies soon after I became acquainted with
him, stating that he had purchased it in the morning
for sixpence, and assuring me I should enjoy a rare
treat in the perusal ; but if I must confess the truth,
the mask of qiiaintness was so closely worn, that it
nearly concealed the humor. To Lamb it was, doubt-
less, vivified by the eye and voice of his old boon com-
panion, forming to him an undying commentary ; with-
out which it was comparatively spiritless. Alas ! how
many even of his own most delicate fancies, rich as
they are in feeling and in wisdom, will be lost to those
who have not present to them the sweet broken ac-
cents, and the half playful, half melancholy smile of the
writer !

But if Jem White was the companion of his lighter
moods, the friend of his serious thoughts was a person
of far nobler powers, — Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It
was his good fortune to be the schoolfellow of that ex-
traordinary man ; and if no particular intimacy had
been formed between them at Christ's Hospital, a foun-
dation was there laid for a friendship to which the
world is probably indebted for all that Lamb has added
to its sources of pleasure. Junior to Coleridge by two
years, and far inferior to him in all scholastic acquire-
ments. Lamb had listened to the rich discourse of " the



PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH. 21

inspired charity-boy" with a wondering dehght, pure
from all envy, and, it may be, enhanced by his sense
of his own feebleness and difficulty of expression.
While Coleridge remained at the University, they met
occasionally on his visits to London ; and when he
quitted it, and came to town, full of mantling hopes
and glorious schemes, Lamb became his admiring dis-
ciple. The scene of these happy meetings was a little
public-house, called the Salutation and Cat, in the
neighborhood of Smithfield, where they used to sup,
and remain long after they had " heard the chimes at
midnight." There they discoursed of Bowles, who was
the god of Coleridge's poetical idolatry, and of Burns
and Cowper, who, of recent poets, in that season of
comparative barrenness, had made the deepest impres-
sion on Lamb. There Coleridge talked of " Fate, free-
will, foreknoAvledge absolute," to one who desired " to
find no end" of the golden maze; and there he recited
his early poems with that deep sweetness of intonation
which sunk into the heart of his hearer. To these
meetings Lamb was accustomed at all periods of his life
to revert, as the season when his finer intellects were



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