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Full text of "The letters of Charles Lamb, in which many mutilated words and passages have been restored to their original form; with letters never before published and facsimiles of original ms. letters and poems;"

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August 26, 1 8 14. 

Let the hungry soul rejoice : there is corn in 
Egypt. Whatever thou hast been told to the con- 
trary by designing friends, who perhaps inquired 
carelessly, or did not inquire at all, in hope of 
saving their money, there is a stock of Remorse 
on hand, enough, as Pople conjectures, for seven 
years' consumption; judging from experience of 
the last two years. Methinks it makes for the 
benefit of sound literature, that the best books do 
not always go off best. Inquire in seven years' 
time for the Rokebys and the Laras, and where 
shall they be found? — fluttering fragmentally in 
some thread-paper; whereas thy Wallenstein and 
thy Remorse are safe on Longman's or Pople's 
shelves, as in some Bodleian; there they shall 
remain ; no need of a chain to hold them fast — 
perhaps for ages — tall copies — and people shan't 
run about hunting for them as in old Ezra's shriev- 
alty they did for a Bible, almost without effect 
till the great-great-grandniece (by the mother's 
side) of Jeremiah or Ezekiel (which was it?) re- 
membered something of a book, with odd read- 
ing in it, that used to lie in the green closet in 
her aunt Judith's bedchamber. 


The caterer Price was at Hamburgh when last 
Pople heard of him, laying up for thee, like some 
miserly old father for his generous-hearted son 
to squander. 

Mr. Charles Aders, whose books also pant for 
that free circulation which thy custody is sure 
to give them, is to be heard of at his kinsmen, 
Messrs. Jameson and Aders, No. 7 Laurence 
Pountney Lane, London, according to the infor- 
mation which Crabius with his parting breath 
left me. Crabius is gone to Paris. I prophesy he 
and the Parisians will part with mutual contempt. 
His head has a twist Allemagne, like thine, dear 

I have been reading Madame [de] Stael on 
Germany. An impudent clever woman. But 
if Faust be no better than in her abstract of it, 
I counsel thee to let it alone. How canst thou 
translate the language of cat-monkeys ? Fie on 
such fantasies ! But I will not forget to look for 
Proclus. It is a kind of book which, when we 
meet with it, we shut up faster than we opened 
it. Yet I have some bastard kind of recollection 
that somewhere, some time ago, upon some stall 
or other, I saw it. It was either that or Plothius, 
or Saint Augustine's City of God. So little do some 
folks value, what to others, sc. to you, "well used," 
had been the " Pledge of Immortality." Bishop 
Bruno I never touched upon. Stuffing too good 
for the brains of such a "Hare" [J. C. Hare] as 
thou describest. May it burst his pericranium, as 


the gobbets of fat and turpentine (a nasty thought 
of the seer) did that old dragon in the Apo- 
crypha! May he go mad in trying to understand 
his author ! May he lend the third volume of 
him before he has quite translated the second, 
to a friend who shall lose it, and so spoil the 
publication ; and may his friend find it and send 
it him just as thou or some such less dilatory 
spirit shall have announced the whole for the 
press; lastly, may he be hunted by Reviewers, 
and the devil jug him ! 

So I think I have answered all the questions 
except about Morgan's gos-lettuces. The first 
personal peculiarity I ever observed of him (all 
worthy souls are subject to 'em) was a particular 
kind of rabbit-like delight in munching salads 
with oil without vinegar after dinner — a steady 
contemplative browsing on them — didst never 
take note of it? Canst think of any other queries 
in the solution of which I can give thee satisfac- 
tion? Do you want any books that I can procure 
for you ? Old Jimmy Boyer is dead at last. 

Trollope has got his living, worth ^iooo 
a-year net. See, thou sluggard, thou heretic- 
sluggard, what mightest thou not have arrived 
at ! Lay thy animosity against Jimmy in the 
grave. Do not entail it on thy posterity. 

C. Lamb 

i i 


September 19, 18 14. 

My dear W., — I have scarce time or quiet to 
explain my present situation, how unquiet and 
distracted it is. Owing to the absence of some 
of my compeers, and to the deficient state of 
payments at E. I. H., owing to bad peace specu- 
lations in the calico market (I write this to 
W. W., Esq., Collector of Stamp duties for the 
conjoint northern counties, not to W. W., Poet) 
I go back, and have for these many days past, to 
evening work, generally at the rate of nine hours 
a day. The nature of my work, too, puzzling and 
hurrying, has so shaken my spirits, that my sleep 
is nothing but a succession of dreams of business 
I cannot do, of assistants that give me no assist- 
ance, of terrible responsibilities. 

I reclaimed your book, which Hazlitt has un- 
civilly kept, only two days ago, and have made 
shift to read it again with shattered brain. It 
does not lose — rather some parts have come out 
with a prominence I did not perceive before — - 
but such was my aching head yesterday (Sunday) 
that the book was like a mountain landscape to 
one that should walk on the edge of a precipice. 
I perceived beauty dizzily. Now what I would 
say is, that I see no prospect of a quiet half-day 
or hour even till this week and the next are past. 
I then hope to get four weeks' absence, and if 
then is time enough to begin I will most gladly 


do what you require, tho' I feel my inability, 
for my brain is always desultory, and snatches 
off hints from things, but can seldom follow 
a " work " methodically. But that shall be 
no excuse. What I beg you to do is to let me 
know from Southey, if that will be time enough 
for the Quarterly, i. e. suppose it done in three 
weeks from this date (September 19): if not, 
it is my bounden duty to express my regret and 
decline it. 

Mary thanks you and feels highly grateful for 
your Patent of Nobility, and acknowledges the 
author of Excursion as the legitimate Fountain 
of Honour. We both agree, that to our feeling 
Ellen is best as she is. To us there would have 
been something repugnant in her challenging her 
penance as a dowry ! the fact is explicable, but 
how few to whom it could have been render'd 
explicit ! 

The unlucky reason of the detention of Ex- 
cursion was, Hazlitt and we having a misunder- 
standing. He blowed us up about six months 
ago, since which the union hath snapt, but M. 
Burney borrow'd it for him, and after reiterated 
messages I only got it on Friday. His remarks 
had some vigour in them, particularly something 
about an old ruin being too modern for your pri- 
meval nature, and about a lichen, but I forget the 
passage ; but the whole wore a slovenly air of 
despatch and disrespect. That objection which 
M. Burney had imbibed from him about Vol- 


taire, I explain'd to M. B. (or tried) exactly on 
your principle of its being a characteristic speech. 
That it was no settled comparative estimate of 
Voltaire with any of his own tribe of buffoons — 
no injustice, even if you spoke it, for I dared say 
you never could relish Candide. I know I tried 
to get thro' it about a twelvemonth since, and 
could n't for the dulness. Now, I think I have 
a wider range in buffoonery than you. Too much 
toleration perhaps. 

I finish this after a raw ill-bak'd dinner, fast 
gobbled up, to set me off to office again after 
working there till near four. O Christ ! how I 
wish I were a rich man, even tho' I were squeezed 
camel-fashion at getting thro' that needle's eye 
that is spoken of in the Written Word. Apropos, 
are you a Christian ? or is it the Pedlar and the 
Priest that are ? 

I find I miscall'd that celestial splendour of 
the mist going off, a sunset. That only shews my 
inaccuracy of head. 

Do pray indulge me by writing an answer 
to the point of time mentioned above, or let 
Southey. I am asham'd to go bargaining in this 
way, but indeed I have no time I can reckon on 
till the first week in October. God send I may 
not be disappointed in that ! 

Coleridge swore in letter to me he would 
review Excursion in the Quarterly. Therefore, 
tho' that shall not stop me, yet if I can do any- 
thing, when done, I must know of him if he has 


anything ready, or I shall fill the world with 
loud exclaims. 

I keep writing on, knowing the postage is no 
more for much writing, else so fagg'd and dis- 
jointed I am with damn'd India House work, 
I scarce know what I do. My left arm reposes 
on Excursion. I feel what it would be in quiet. 
It is now a sealed book. 

O happy Paris, seat of idleness and pleasure ! 
From some return'd English I hear that not such 
a thing as a counting-house is to be seen in her 
streets, — scarce a desk. Earthquakes swallow 
up this mercantile city and its gripple merchants, 
as Drayton hath it, " born to be the curse of this 
brave isle." I invoke this not on account of any 
parsimonious habits the mercantile interest may 
have, but, to confess truth, because I am not fit 
for an office. 

Farewell, in haste, from a head that is ill to 
methodize, a stomach to digest, and all out of 
tune. Better harmonies await you ! 

C. Lamb 


October 20, 18 14. 

Dear S., — I have this day deposited with Mr. 
G. Bedford the essay you suggested to me. I am 
afraid it is wretchedly inadequate. Who can cram 
into a strait coop of a review any serious idea of 
such a vast and magnificent poem as Excursion ? 

I am myself, too, peculiarly unfit from con- 
stitutional causes and want of time. However, it 
is gone. 

I have nine or ten days of my holydays left, 
but the rains are come. 

Kind remembrances to Mrs. S. and sisters. 
Yours truly, C. L. 

BETHAM (aged 14) 

November 2, 18 14. 

It is very long since I have met with such an 
agreeable surprise as the sight of your letter, my 
kind young friend, afforded me. Such a nice 
letter as it is too. And what a pretty hand you 
write. I congratulate you on this attainment 
with great pleasure, because I have so often felt 
the disadvantage of my own wretched hand- 

You wish for London news. I rely upon your 
sister Ann for gratifying you in this respect, 
yet I have been endeavouring to recollect whom 
you might have seen here, and what may have 
happened to them since, and this effort has only 
brought the image of little Barbara Betham, 
unconnected with any other person, so strongly 
before my eyes that I seem as if I had no other 
subject to write upon. Now I think I see you 
with your feet propped upon the fender, your 
two hands spread out upon your knees — an atti- 


tude you always chose when we were in familiar 
confidential conversation together — telling me 
long stories of your own home, where now you 
say you are " Moping on with the same thing 
every day," and which then presented nothing 
but pleasant recollections to your mind. How 
well I remember your quiet steady face bent 
over your book. One day, conscience struck at 
having wasted so much of your precious time in 
reading, and feeling yourself, as you prettily said, 
" quite useless to me," you went to my drawers 
and hunted out some unhemmed pocket-hand- 
kerchiefs, and by no means could I prevail upon 
you to resume your story books till you had 
hemmed them all. I remember, too, your teach- 
ing my little maid to read — your sitting with 
her a whole evening to console her for the death 
of her sister ; and that she in her turn endeav- 
oured to become a comforter to you, the next 
evening, when you wept at the sight of Mrs. 
Holcroft, from whose school you had recently 
eloped because you were not partial to sitting 
in the stocks. Those tears, and a few you once 
dropped when my brother teased you about your 
supposed fondness for an apple dumpling, were 
the only interruptions to the calm contentedness 
of your unclouded brow. We still remain the 
same as you left us, neither taller nor wiser, or per- 
ceptibly older, but three years must have made 
a great alteration in you. How very much, dear 
Barbara, I should like to see you ! 

J 7 

We still live in Temple Lane, but I am now- 
sitting in a room you never saw. Soon after you 
left us we were distressed by the cries of a cat, 
which seemed to proceed from the garrets ad- 
joining to ours, and only separated from ours by 
a locked door on the farther side of my brother's 
bedroom, which you know was the little room 
at the top of the kitchen stairs. We had the 
lock forced and let poor puss out from behind 
a pannel of the wainscot, and she lived with us 
from that time, for we were in gratitude bound 
to keep her, as she had introduced us to four 
untenanted, unowned rooms, and by degrees we 
have taken possession of these unclaimed apart- 
ments — first putting up lines to dry our clothes, 
then moving my brother's bed into one of these, 
more commodious than his own room. And last 
winter, my brother being unable to pursue a 
work he had begun, owing to the kind inter- 
ruptions of friends who were more at leisure 
than himself, I persuaded him that he might 
write at his ease in one of these rooms, as he 
could not then hear the door knock, or hear 
himself denied to be at home, which was sure 
to make him call out and convict the poor maid 
in a fib. Here, I said, he might be almost really 
not at home. So I put in an old grate, and made 
him a fire in the largest of these garrets, and 
carried in one table, and one chair, and bid him 
write away, and consider himself as much alone 
as if he were in a new lodging in the midst of 


Salisbury Plain, or any other wide unfrequented 
place where he could expect few visitors to break 
in upon his solitude. I left him quite delighted 
with his new acquisition, but in a few hours he 
came down again with a sadly dismal face. He 
could do nothing, he said, with those bare white- 
washed walls before his eyes. He could not write 
in that dull unfurnished prison. 

The next day, before he came home. from his 
office, I had gathered up various bits of old car- 
petting to cover the floor; and, to a little break 
the blank look of the bare walls, I hung up a 
few old prints that used to ornament the kitchen, 
and after dinner, with great boast of what an 
improvement I had made, I took Charles once 
more into his new study. A week of busy labours 
followed, in which I think you would not have 
disliked to have been our assistant. My brother 
and I almost covered the walls with prints, for 
which purpose he cut out every print from every 
book in his old library, coming in every now 
and then to ask my leave to strip a fresh poor 
author — which he might not do, you know, 
without my permission, as I am elder sister. 
There was such pasting, such consultation where 
their portraits, and where the series of pictures 
from Ovid, Milton, and Shakespear would show 
to most advantage, and in what obscure corner 
authors of humbler note might be allowed to 
tell their stories. All the books gave up their 
stores but one, a translation from Ariosto, a deli- 


cious set of four and twenty prints, and for which 
I had marked out a conspicuous place ; when 
lo ! we found at the moment the scissars were 
going to work that a part of the poem was 
printed at the back of every picture. What a 
cruel disappointment ! To conclude this long 
story about nothing, the poor despised garret is 
now called the print room, and is become our 
most favourite sitting room. 

Your sister Ann will tell you that your friend 
Louisa is going to France. Miss Skepper is out 
of town, Mrs. Reynolds desires to be remem- 
bered to you, and so does my neighbour Mrs. 
Norris, who was your doctress when you were 
unwell, her three little children are grown three 
big children. The Lions still live in Exeter 
Change. Returning home through the Strand, 
I often hear them roar about twelve o'clock at 
night. I never hear them without thinking of 
you, because you seemed so pleased with the 
sight of them, and said your young companions 
would stare when you told them you had seen 
a Lion. 

And now, my dear Barbara, fare well, I have 
not written such a long letter a long time, but 
I am very sorry I had nothing amusing to write 
about. Wishing you may pass happily through 
the rest of your school days, and every future 
day of your life, 

I remain, your affectionate Friend, 

M. Lamb 

My brother sends his love to you, with the 
kind remembrance your letter shewed you have 
of us as I was. He joins with me in respects to 
your good father and mother, and to your brother 
John, who, if I do not mistake his name, is 
your tall young brother who was in search of a 
fair lady with a large fortune. Ask him if he 
has found her yet. You say you are not so tall 
as Louisa — you must be, you cannot so degen- 
erate from the rest of your family. Now you 
have begun, I shall hope to have the pleasure of 
hearing from [you] again. I shall always receive 
a letter from you with very great delight. 


December 12, 18 14. 

Sir, — I am sorry to seem to go off my agree- 
ment, but very particular circumstances have 
happened to hinder my fulfilment of it at present. 
If any single essays ever occur to me in future, 
you shall have the refusal of them. Meantime 
I beg you to consider the thing as at an end. 

Yours, with thanks and acknowledgment, 

C. Lamb 


December 28, 18 14. 

Dear W., — Your experience about tailors 
seems to be in point blank opposition to Burton, 


as much as the author of the Excursion does toto 
coelo differ in his notion of a country life from the 
picture which W. H. has exhibited of the same. 
But with a little explanation you and B. may be 
reconciled. It is evident that he confined his 
observations to the genuine native London tailor. 
What freaks tailor-nature may take in the country 
is not for him to give account of. And certainly 
some of the freaks recorded do give an idea of the 
persons in question being beside themselves, rather 
than in harmony with the common moderate self- 
enjoyment of the rest of mankind. A flying tailor, 
I venture to say, is no more in rerum natura than 
a flying horse or a gryphon. His wheeling his 
airy flight from the precipice you mention had 
a parallel in the melancholy Jew who toppled 
from the monument. Were his limbs ever found ? 
Then, the man who cures diseases by words is evi- 
dently an inspired tailor. Burton never affirmed 
that the act of sewing disqualified the practiser of 
it from being a fit organ for supernatural revela- 
tion. He never enters into such subjects. 'T is 
the common uninspired tailor which he speaks 
of. Again the person who makes his smiles to be 
heard, is evidently a man under possession ; a de- 
moniac tailor. A greater hell than his own must 
have a hand in this. I am not certain that the 
cause which you advocate has much reason for 
triumph. You seem to me to substitute light- 
headedness for light-heartedness by a trick, or 
not to know the difference. I confess, a grin- 


ning tailor would shock me. — Enough of 

The " 'scapes " of the great god Pan who ap- 
peared among your mountains some dozen years 
since, and his narrow chance of being submerged 
by the swains, afforded me much pleasure. I can 
conceive the water-nymphs pulling for him. He 
would have been another Hylas. W. Hylas. In 
a mad letter which Capel Lofft wrote to Monthly 
M\agazine\ Phillips (now Sir Richard) I remem- 
ber his noticing a metaphysical article by Pan, 
signed H., and adding " I take your correspondent 
to be the same with Hylas." Hylas has put forth 
a pastoral just before. How near the unfounded 
conjecture of the certainly inspired Lofft (un- 
founded as we thought it) was to being realized ! 
I can conceive him being " good to all that wan- 
der in that perilous flood." One J. Scott (I know 
no more) is editor of Champion. Where is Cole- 
ridge ? 

That review you speak of, I am only sorry it 
did not appear last month. The circumstances 
of haste and peculiar bad spirits under which it 
was written, would have excused its slightness and 
inadequacy, the full load of which I shall suffer 
from its lying by so long as it will seem to have 
done from its postponement. I write with great 
difficulty and can scarce command my own reso- 
lution to sit at writing an hour together. I am 
a poor creature, but I am leaving off gin. I hope 
you will see good-will in the thing. I had a diffi- 


culty to perform not to make it all panegyrick ; 
I have attempted to personate a mere stranger to 
you ; perhaps with too much strangeness. But you 
must bear that in mind when you read it, and not 
think that I am in mind distant from you or your 
poem, but that both are close to me among the 
nearest of persons and things. I do but act the 
stranger in the review. Then I was puzzled about 
extracts and determined upon not giving one that 
had been in the Examiner, for extracts repeated 
give an idea that there is a meagre allowance of 
good things. By this way, I deprived myself of 
Sir Alfred Irthing and the reflections that con- 
clude his story, which are the flower of the poem. 
H. had given the reflections before me. Then it 
is the first review I ever did, and I did not know 
how long I might make it. But it must speak for 
itself, if Gifford and his crew do not put words in 
its mouth, which I expect. 

Farewell. Love to all. Mary keeps very bad. 

C. Lamb 


Early January, 1815. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I told you my review 
was a very imperfect one. But what you will 
see in the Quarterly is a spurious one which 
Mr. Baviad Gifford has palm'd upon it for mine. 
I never felt more vex'd in my life than when I 
read it. I cannot give you an idea of what he 


has done to it out of spite at me because he once 
suffer'd me to be called a lunatic in his Thing. 
The language he has alter'd throughout. What- 
ever inadequateness it had to its subject, it was in 
point of composition the prettiest piece of prose 
I ever writ, and so my sister (to whom alone I 
read the MS.) said. That charm if it had any 
is all gone : more than a third of the substance is 
cut away, and that not all from one place, but 
passim, so as to make utter nonsense. Every warm 
expression is changed for a nasty cold one. I have 
not the cursed alteration by me, I shall never look 
at it again, but for a specimen I remember I had 
said the poet of the Excursion " walks thro' com- 
mon forests as thro' some Dodona or enchanted 
wood, and every casual bird that flits upon the 
boughs, like that miraculous one in Tasso, but 
in language more piercing than any articulate 
sounds, reveals to him far higher lovelays." It 
is now (besides half a dozen alterations in the 
same half dozen lines) " but in language more 
intelligent reveals to him " — that is one I re- 
member. But that would have been little, putting 
his damn'd shoemaker phraseology (for he was 
a shoemaker) instead of mine, which has been 
tinctured with better authors than his ignorance 
can comprehend — for I reckon myself a dab 
at prose — verse I leave to my betters — God help 
them, if they are to be so reviewed by friend 
and foe as you have been this quarter. 

I have read "It won't do." But worse than 


altering words, he has kept a few members only 
of the part I had done best, which was to explain 
all I could of your " scheme of harmonies," as 
I had ventured to call it, between the external 
universe and what within us answers to it. To 
do this I had accumulated a good many short 
passages, rising in length to the end, weaving in 
the extracts as if they came in as a part of the 
text, naturally, not obtruding them as specimens. 
Of this part a little is left, but so as without con- 
juration no man could tell what I was driving at. 
A proof of it you may see (tho' not judge of 
the whole of the injustice) by these words : I 
had spoken something about " natural method- 
ism," and after follows, " and therefore the tale 
of Margaret should have been postponed " (I for- 
get my words, or his words): now the reasons for 
postponing it are as deducible from what goes 
before, as they are from the 104th Psalm. The 
passage whence I deduced it has vanished, but 
clapping a colon before a therefore is always reason 
enough for Mr. Baviad GifFord to allow to a re- 
viewer that is not himself. 

I assure you my complaints are founded. I 
know how sore a word alter'd makes one, but 
indeed of this review the whole complexion is 
gone. I regret only that I did not keep a copy, 
I am sure you would have been pleased with it, 
because I have been feeding my fancy for some 
months with the notion of pleasing you. Its im- 
perfection or inadequateness in size and method 


I knew, but for the writing part of it I was fully 
satisfied. I hoped it would make more than 
atonement. Ten or twelve distinct passages come 
to my mind, which are gone, and what is left is 
of course the worse for their having been there ; 
the eyes are pull'd out and the bleeding sockets 
are left. I read it at Arch's shop with my face 
burning with vexation secretly, with just such a 
feeling as if it had been a review written against 
myself, making false quotations from me. But 
I am asham'd to say so much about a short 
piece. How are you served ! and the labours of 
years turn'd into contempt by scoundrels. 

But I could not but protest against your taking 
that thing as mine. Every pretty expression (I 
know there were many), every warm expression, 
there was nothing else, is vulgarised and frozen 
— but if they catch me in their camps again let 
them spitchcock me. They had a right to do it, 
as no name appears to it, and Mr. Shoemaker 
GifFord I suppose never waived a right he had 
since he commenc'd author. God confound him 
and all caitiffs. C. L. 


February 23, 1815. 

Dear Sargus, — This is to give you notice that 
I have parted with the cottage to Mr. Grig, Jr., 
to whom you will pay rent from Michaelmas 
last. The rent that was due at Michaelmas I do 


not wish you to pay me. I forgive it you as you 
may have been at some expenses in repairs. 

Yours, Ch. Lamb 


" Bis dat qui dat cito." 

I hate the pedantry of expressing that in an- 
other language which we have sufficient terms for 
in our own. So in plain English I very much wish 
you to give your vote to-morrow at Clerkenwell, 
instead of Saturday. It would clear up the brows 
of my favourite candidate, and stagger the hands 
of the opposite party. It commences at nine. 
How easy, as you come from Kensington (apro- 
pos, how is your excellent family ?) to turn down 
Bloomsbury, through Leather Lane (avoiding 
Lay Stall Street for the disagreeableness of the 
name). Why, it brings you in four minutes and 
a half to the spot renowned on northern mile- 
stones, " where Hicks' Hall formerly stood." 
There will be good cheer ready for every inde- 
pendent freeholder; where you see a green flag 
hang out go boldly in, call for ham, or beef, or 
what you please, and a mug of Meux's Best. How 
much more gentleman-like to come in the front 
of the battle, openly avowing one's sentiments, 
than to lag in on the last day, when the adver- 
sary is dejected, spiritless, laid low. Have the first 
cut at them. By Saturday you '11 cut into the mut- 
ton. I 'd go cheerfully myself, but I am no free- 


holder [Fuimus Troes,fuit Ilium), but I sold it for 
^50. If they 'd accept a copy-holder, we clerks 
are naturally «?/>y-holders. 

By the way, get Mrs. Hume, or that agreeable 
Amelia or Caroline, to stick a bit of green in 
your hat. Nothing daunts the adversary more 
than to wear the colours of your party. Stick 
it in cockade-like. It has a martial and by no 
means disagreeable effect. 

Go, my dear freeholder, and if any chance calls 
you out of this transitory scene earlier than ex- 
pected, the coroner shall sit lightly on your corpse. 
He shall not too anxiously inquire into the cir- 
cumstances of blood found upon your razor. That 
might happen to any gentleman in shaving. Nor 
into your having been heard to express a contempt 
of life, or for scolding Louisa for what Julia did, 
and other trifling incoherencies. 

Yours sincerely, C. Lamb 


April 7, 1815. 

The conclusion of this epistle getting gloomy, 
I have chosen this part to desire our kindest loves 
to Mrs. Wordsworth and to Dorothea. Will none 
of you ever be in London again ? 

Dear Wordsworth, — You have made me very 
proud with your successive book presents. I have 
been carefully through the two volumes to see 
that nothing was omitted which used to be there. 


I think I miss nothing but a character in anti- 
thetic manner which I do not know why you left 
out ; the moral to the boys building the giant, 
the omission whereof leaves it in my mind less 
complete; and one admirable line gone (or 
something come instead of it) " the stone-chat 
and the glancing sand-piper," which was a line 
quite alive. I demand these at your hand. 

I am glad that you have not sacrificed a verse 
to those scoundrels. I would not have had you 
offer up the poorest rag that lingered upon the 
stript shoulders of little Alice Fell, to have atoned 
all their malice. I would not have given 'em a 
red cloak to save their souls. I am afraid lest that 
substitution of a shell (a flat falsification of the his- 
tory) for the household implement as it stood at 
first, was a kind of tub thrown out to the beast, 
or rather thrown out for him. The tub was a good 
honest tub in its place, and nothing could fairly 
be said against it. You say you made the altera- 
tion for the "friendly reader," but the malicious 
will take it to himself. Damn 'em; if you give 
'em an inch, &c. The preface is noble, and such 
as you should write. I wish I could set my name 
to it, Imprimatur, — but you have set it there 
yourself, and I thank you. I had rather be a door- 
keeper in your margin, than have their proudest 
text swelling with my eulogies. The poems in the 
volumes which are new to me are so much in the 
old tone that I hardly received them as novelties. 

Of those of which I had no previous know- 


ledge, the Four Yew Trees and the mysterious 
company which you have assembled there, most 
struck me — Death the Skeleton and Time the 
Shadow. It is a sight not for every youthful poet 
to dream of; it is one of the last results he must 
have gone thinking-on for years for. Laodamia 
is a very original poem ; I mean original with 
reference to your own manner. You have no- 
thing like it. I should have seen it in a strange 
place, and greatly admired it, but not suspected 
its derivation. 

Let me in this place, for I have writ you sev- 
eral letters without naming it, mention that my 
brother, who is a picture-collector, has picked up 
an undoubtable picture of Milton. He gave a 
few shillings for it, and could get no history with 
it but that some old lady had had it for a great 
many years. Its age is ascertainable from the 
state of the canvas, and you need only see it to 
be sure that it is the original of the heads in the 
Tonson editions, with which we are all so well 
familiar. Since I saw you I have had a treat in 
the reading way which comes not every day, the 
Latin Poems of V. Bourne, which were quite 
new to me. What a heart that man had, all laid 
out upon town scenes, a proper counterpoise to 
some people's rural extravaganzas. Why I men- 
tion him is that your Power of Music reminded 
me of his poem of The Ballad Singer in the Seven 
Dials. Do you remember his epigram on the 
old woman who taught Newton the ABC, 

3 1 

which, after all, he says, he hesitates not to call 
Newton's Principia. I was lately fatiguing my- 
self with going thro' a volume of fine words by 
Lord Thurlow ; excellent words, and if the 
heart could live by words alone, it could desire 
no better regale ; but what an aching vacuum 
of matter ; I don't stick, at the madness of it, for 
that is only a consequence of shutting his eyes 
and thinking he is in the age of the old Elisa- 
beth poets. From thence I turned to V. Bourne. 
What a sweet unpretending pretty-mannered 
matter-ful creature, sucking from every flower, 
making a flower of everything, his diction all 
Latin, and his thoughts all English. Bless him ! 
Latin was n't good enough for him, why was n't 
he content with the language which Gay and 
Prior wrote in ? 

I am almost sorry that you printed extracts 
from those first poems, or that you did not print 
them at length. They do not read to me as they 
do all together. Besides, they have diminished 
the value of the original (which I possess) as a 
curiosity. I have hitherto kept them distinct in 
my mind as referring to a particular period of 
your life. All the rest of your poems are so much 
of a piece, they might have been written in the 
same week ; these decidedly speak of an earlier 
period. They tell more of what you had been 

We were glad to see the poems " by a female 
friend." The one of the Wind is masterly, but 

3 2 

not new to us. Being only three, perhaps you 
might have clapt a D. at the corner, and let it 
have past as a printer's mark to the uninitiated, 
as a delightful hint to the better instructed. As 
it is, expect a formal criticism on the poems of 
your female friend, and she must expect it. 

I should have written before, but I am cruelly 
engaged and like to be. On Friday I was at 
office from ten in the morning (two hours din- 
ner except) to eleven at night ; last night till 
nine. My business and office business in general 
has increased so. I don't mean I am there every 
night, but I must expect a great deal of it. I 
never leave till four, and do not keep a holyday 
now once in ten times, where I used to keep all 
red-letter days, and some fine days besides, which 
I used to dub Nature's holydays. I have had my 
day. I had formerly little to do. So of the little 
that is left of life I may reckon two-thirds as 
dead, for Time that a man may call his own is 
his Life ; and hard work and thinking about it 
taints even the leisure hours, — stains Sunday 
with workday contemplations. This is Sunday, 
and the headache I have is part late hours at work 
the two preceding nights, and part later hours 
over a consoling pipe afterwards. But I find 
stupid acquiescence coming over me. I bend to 
the yoke, and it is almost with me and my 
household as with the man and his consort, — 

To them each evening had its glittering star, 
And every Sabbath day its golden sun — 


to such straits am I driven for the life of life, 
Time ! O that from that superfluity of holyday 
leisure my youth wasted, — 

Age might but take some hours youth wanted not ! 

N. B. I have left off spirituous liquors for four 
or more months, with a moral certainty of its 
lasting. Farewell, dear Wordsworth ! 


April 28, 18 15. 

Dear Wordsworth, — The more I read of your 
two last volumes, the more I feel it necessary to 
make my acknowledgments for them in more 
than one short letter. The Night Piece to which 
you refer me I meant fully to have noticed ; but 
the fact is, I come so fluttering and languid from 
business, tired with thoughts of it, frightened 
with fears of it, that when I get a few minutes 
to sit down to scribble (an action of the hand 
now seldom natural to me — I mean voluntary 
pen-work) I lose all presential memory of what 
I had intended to say, and say what I can, talk 
about Vincent Bourne, or any casual image, in- 
stead of that which I had meditated — by the 
way, I must look out V. B. for you. So I had 
meant to have mentioned Yarrow Visited, with 
that stanza, " But thou that didst appear so fair; " 
than which I think no lovelier stanza can be 
found in the wide world of poetry; — yet the 


poem, on the whole, seems condemned to leave 
behind it a melancholy of imperfect satisfaction, 
as if you had wronged the feeling with which, 
in what preceded it, you had resolved never to 
visit it, and as if the Muse had determined in 
the most delicate manner to make you, and scarce 
make you, feel it. Else, it is far superior to the 
other, which has but one exquisite verse in it, 
the last but one, or the two last : this is all fine, 
except perhaps that that of "studious ease and 
generous cares " has a little tinge of the less ro- 
mantic about it. 

The Farmer of Tils bury Vale is a charming 
counterpart to Poor Susan, with the addition of 
that delicacy towards aberrations from the strict 
path, which is so fine in the Old Thief and the Boy 
by his Side, which always brings water into my 
eyes. Perhaps it is the worse for being a repeti- 
tion. Susan stood for the representative of poor 
rus in urbe. There was quite enough to stamp the 
moral of the thing never to be forgotten. " Fast 
volumes of vapour," &c. The last verse of Susan 
was to be got rid of at all events. It threw a kind 
of dubiety upon Susan's moral conduct. Susan is 
a servant-maid. I see her trundling her mop, and 
contemplating the whirling phenomenon thro' 
blurred optics; but to term her "a poor outcast" 
seems as much as to say that poor Susan was no 
better than she should be, which I trust was not 
what you meant to express. 

Robin Goodfellow supports himself without 


that stick of a moral which you have thrown away ; 
but how I can be brought in felo de omittendo for 
that ending to \h.eBoy-builders is a mystery. I can't 
say positively now — I only know that no line 
oftener or readier occurs than that " Light-hearted 
boys, I will build up a giant with you." It comes 
naturally with a warm holyday and the freshness 
of the blood. It is a perfect summer amulet that 
I tie round my legs to quicken their motion when 
I go out a-Maying. (N. B.) I don't often go out 
a.-maying. Must is the tense with me now. Do 
you take the pun? 

Young Romilly is divine, the reasons of his 
mother's grief being remediless. I never saw 
parental love carried up so high, towering above 
the other loves. Shakspeare had done something 
for the filial in Cordelia, and by implication for 
the fatherly, too, in Lear's resentment ; he left it 
for you to explore the depths of the maternal 
heart. I get stupid and flat and flattering: what's 
the use of telling you what good things you have 
written, or — I hope I may add — that I know 
them to be good. Apropos — when I first opened 
upon the just-mentioned poem, in a careless tone 
I said to Mary as if putting a riddle " What is 
good for a bootless bean?" to which with infinite 
presence of mind (as the jest book has it) she 
answered, a "shoeless pea." It was the first joke 
she ever made. Joke the second I make. You 
distinguish well in your old preface between the 
verses of Dr. Johnson of the Man in the Strand, 


and that from The Babes in the Wood. I was think- 
ing whether taking your own glorious lines, — 

And from the love which was in her soul 
For her youthful Romilly, 

which, by the love I bear my own soul, I think 
have no parallel in any of the best old ballads, 
and just altering it to — 

And from the great respect she felt 
For Sir Samuel Romilly, 

would not have explained the boundaries of prose 
expression and poetic feeling nearly as well. Ex- 
cuse my levity on such an occasion. I never felt 
deeply in my life, if that poem did not make me, 
both lately and when I read it in MS. No alder- 
man ever longed after a haunch of buck venison 
more than I for a spiritual taste of that White Doe 
you promise. I am sure it is superlative, or will 
be when drest, i. e. printed. All things read raw 
to me in MS. ; to compare magna parvis, I can- 
not endure my own writings in that state. The 
only one which I think would not very much 
win upon me in print is Peter Bell. But I am not 

You ask me about your preface. I like both 
that and the supplement without an exception. 
The account of what you mean by imagination 
is very valuable to me. It will help me to like 
some things in poetry better, which is a little 
humiliating in me to confess. I thought I could 
not be instructed in that science (I mean the crit- 
ical), as I once heard old obscene, beastly Peter 


Pindar, in a dispute on Milton, say he thought 
that if he had reason to value himself upon one 
thing more than another, it was in knowing what 
good verse was. Who look'd over your proof- 
sheets, and left ordebo in that line of Virgil ? 

My brother's picture of Milton is very finely 
painted ; that is, it might have been done by a 
hand next to Vandyke's. It is the genuine Milton, 
and an object of quiet gaze for the half-hour at 
a time. Yet tho' I am confident there is no better 
one of him, the face does not quite answer to 
Milton. There is a tinge of petit (or petite, how 
do you spell it) querulousness about. Yet hang 
it, now I remember better, there is not : it is calm, 
melancholy, and poetical. 

One of the copies you sent had precisely the 
same pleasant blending of a sheet of second vol- 
ume with a sheet of first. I think it was page 
245 ; but I sent it and had it rectified. It gave 
me in the first impetus of cutting the leaves, 
just such a cold squelch as going down a plaus- 
ible turning and suddenly reading "no thorough- 
fare." Robinson's is entire ; he is gone to bury 
his father. 

I wish you would write more criticism about 
Spenser, &c. I think I could saysomething about 
him myself; but Lord bless me! these "mer- 
chants and their spicy drugs " which are so har- 
monious to sing of, they lime-twig up my poor 
soul and body, till I shall forget I ever thought 
myself a bit of a genius ! I can't even put a few 


thoughts on paper for a newspaper. I " engross," 
when I should pen a paragraph. Confusion blast 
all mercantile transactions, all traffic, exchange 
of commodities, intercourse between nations, all 
the consequent civilization and wealth and amity 
and link of society, and getting rid of prejudices, 
and knowledge of the face of the globe ; and rot 
the very firs of the forest, that look so romantic 
alive, and die into desks. Vale. 

Yours, dear W., and all yours, C. Lamb 

Excuse this maddish letter : I am too tired to 
write in forma. 

N. B. Don't read that Q. Review — I will 
never look into another. 



[No date.] 

Dear Miss B., — Mr. Hunter has this morn- 
ing put into a parcel all I have received from you 
at various times, including a sheet of notes from 
the printer and two fair sheets of Mary [The Lay 
of Marie]. I hope you will receive them safe. 
The poem I will continue to look over, but must 
request you to provide for the rest. I cannot attend 
to anything but the most simple things. I am very 
much unhinged indeed. Tell K. I saw Mrs. J. 
yesterday and she was well. You must write to 
Hunter if you are in a hurry for the notes, &c. 
Yours sincerely, C. Lamb 



London, May 6, 1815. 

Dear Southey, — I have received from Long- 
man a copy of Roderick, with the author's com- 
pliments, for which I much thank you. I don't 
know where I shall put all the noble presents I 
have lately received in that way ; the Excursion, 
Wordsworth's two last volumes and now Roder- 
ick, have come pouring in upon me like some 
irruption from Helicon. The story of the brave 
Maccabee was already, you may be sure, familiar 
to me in all its parts. I have, since the receipt 
of your present, read it quite through again, and 
with no diminished pleasure. I don't know 
whether I ought to say that it has given me more 
pleasure than any of your long poems. Kehama 
is doubtless more powerful, but I don't feel that 
firm footing in it that I do in Roderick ; my 
imagination goes sinking and floundering in the 
vast spaces of unopened-before systems and faiths; 
I am put out of the pale of my old sympathies ; 
my moral sense is almost outraged ; I can't 
believe, or with horror am made to believe, such 
desperate chances against omnipotences, such 
disturbances of faith to the centre. The more 
potent the more painful the spell. Jove and his 
brotherhood of gods, tottering with the giant 
assailings, I can bear, for the soul's hopes are not 
struck at in such contests; but your Oriental 
almighties are too much types of the intangible 


prototype to be meddled with without shudder- 
ing. One never connects what are called the 
attributes with Jupiter. I mention only what 
diminishes my delight at the wonder-workings 
of Kebama, not what impeaches its power, which 
I confess with trembling. 

But Roderick is a comfortable poem. It re- 
minds me of the delight I took in the first read- 
ing of the Joan of Arc. It is maturer and better 
than that, though not better to me now than 
that was then. It suits me better than Madoc. 
I am at home in Spain and Christendom. I have 
a timid imagination ; I am afraid. I do not will- 
ingly admit of strange beliefs or out-of-the-way 
creeds or places. I never read books of travel, at 
least not farther than Paris or Rome. I can just 
endure Moors, because of their connection as foes 
with Christians ; but Abyssinians, Ethiops, Esqui- 
maux, Dervises, and all that tribe, I hate. I be- 
lieve I fear them in some manner. A Mahom- 
etan turban on the stage, though enveloping some 
well-known face (Mr. Cook or Mr. Maddox, 
whom I see another day good Christian and 
English waiters, innkeepers, &c), does not give 
me pleasure unalloyed. I am a Christian, Eng- 
lishman, Londoner, Templar. God help me 
when I come to put off these snug relations, and 
to get abroad into the world to come ! I shall 
be like the crow on the sand, as Wordsworth has 
it ; but I won't think on it — no need, I hope, 


The parts I have been most pleased with, both 
on first and second readings, perhaps, are Flo- 
rinda's palliation of Roderick's crime, confessed 
to him in his disguise — the retreat of Palayo's 
family first discovered, — his being made king 
— " For acclamation one form must serve, more 
solemn for the breach of old observances." Roder- 
ick's vow is extremely fine, and his blessing on 
the vow of Alphonso, — 

Towards the troop he spread his arms, 
And carried to all spirits with the act, 
As if the expanded soul diffused itself, 
Its affluent inspiration. 

It struck me forcibly that the feeling of these 
last lines might have been suggested to you by 
the cartoon of Paul at Athens. Certain it is that 
a better motto or guide to that famous attitude 
can nowhere be found. I shall adopt it as ex- 
planatory of that violent but dignified motion. 

I must read again Y^zridor's Julian. I have not 
read it some time. I think he must have failed 
in Roderick, for I remember nothing of him, 
nor of any distinct character as a character — 
only fine-sounding passages. I remember think- 
ing also he had chosen a point of time after the 
event, as it were, for Roderick survives to no use ; 
but my memory is weak, and I will not wrong 
a fine poem by trusting to it. 

The notes to your poem I have not read again; 
but it will be a take-downable book on my shelf, 
and they will serve sometimes at breakfast, or 


times too light for the text to be duly appre- 
ciated. Though some of 'em, one of the serpent 
Penance, is serious enough, now I think on 't. 

Of Coleridge I hear nothing, nor of the Mor- 
gans. I hope to have him like a re-appear- 
ing star, standing up before me some time when 
least expected in London, as has been the case 

I am doing nothing (as the phrase is) but read- 
ing presents, and walk away what of the day- 
hours I can get from hard occupation. Pray 
accept once more my hearty thanks, and ex- 
pression of pleasure for your remembrance of 
me. My sister desires her kind respects to 
Mrs. S. and to all at Keswick. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 

The next Present I look for is the White 
Doe. Have you seen Matilda Betham's Lay of 
Marie? I think it very delicately pretty as to 
sentiment, &c. 


August 9, 1815. 

Dear Southey, — Robinson is not on the cir- 
cuit, as I erroneously stated in a letter to W. W., 
which travels with this, but is gone to Brussels, 
Ostend, Ghent, &c. But his friends the Colliers, 
whom I consulted respecting your friend's fate, 
remember to have heard him say that Father 


Pardo had effected his escape (the cunning greasy 
rogue), and to the best of their belief is at present 
in Paris. To my thinking, it is a small matter 
whether there be one fat friar more or less in the 
world. I have rather a taste for clerical execu- 
tions, imbibed from early recollections of the fate 
of the excellent Dodd. I hear Buonaparte has 
sued his habeas corpus, and the twelve judges are 
now sitting upon it at the Rolls. 

Your boute-feu (bonfire) must be excellent of 
its kind. Poet Settle presided at the last great 
thing of the kind in London, when the pope was 
burnt in form. Do you provide any verses on this 
occasion ? Your fear for Hartley's intellectuals 
is just and rational. Could not the Chancellor be 
petitioned to remove him ? His lordship took Mr. 
Betty from under the paternal wing. I think at 
least he should go through a course of matter- 
of-fact with some sober man after the mysteries. 
Could not he spend a week at Poole's before he 
goes back to Oxford ? Tobin is dead. But there 
is a man in my office, a Mr. Hedges, who proses 
it away from morning to night, and never gets 
beyond corporal and material verities. He 'd get 
these crack-brain metaphysics out of the young 
gentleman's head as soon as any one I know. 
When I can't sleep o' nights, I imagine a dia- 
logue with Mr. H. upon any given subject, and 
go prosing on in fancy with him, till I either 
laugh or fall asleep. I have literally found it 
answer. I am going to stand godfather ; I don't 


like the business ; I cannot muster up decorum 
for these occasions; I shall certainly disgrace 
the font. I was at Hazlitt's marriage, and had 
like to have been turned out several times during 
the ceremony. Anything awful makes me 
laugh. I misbehaved once at a funeral. Yet I 
can read about these ceremonies with pious and 
proper feelings. The realities of life only seem 
the mockeries. I fear I must get cured along with 
Hartley, if not too inveterate. Don't you think 
Louis the Desirable is in a sort of quandary ? 

After all, Buonaparte is a fine fellow, as my 
barber says, and I should not mind standing bare- 
headed at his table to do him service in his fall. 
They should have given him Hampton Court or 
Kensington, with a tether extending forty miles 
round London. Qu. Would not the people have 
ejected the Brunswicks some day in his favour ? 
Well, we shall see. C. Lamb 


August 9, 1 8 15. 

Dear Wordsworth, — We acknowledge with 
pride the receipt of both your handwritings, and 
desire to be ever had in kindly remembrance by 
you both and by Dorothy. Miss Hutchinson has 
just transmitted us a letter containing, among 
other chearful matter, the annunciation of a child 
born. Nothing of consequence has turned up in 
our parts since your departure. Mary and I felt 


quite queer after your taking leave (you W. W.) 
of us in St. Giles's. We wish'd we had seen more 
of you, but felt we had scarce been sufficiently 
acknowledging for the share we had enjoyed of 
your company. We felt as if we had been not 
enough expressive of our pleasure. But our man- 
ners both are a little too much on this side of too- 
much-cordiality. We want presence of mind 
and presence of heart. What we feel comes too 
late, like an afterthought impromptu. But per- 
haps you observed nothing of that which we 
have been painfully conscious of, and are, every 
day, in our intercourse with those we stand af- 
fected to through all the degrees of love. 

Robinson is on the circuit. Our panegyrist 
I thought had forgotten one of the objects of 
his youthful admiration, but I was agreeably re- 
moved from that scruple by the laundress knock- 
ing at my door this morning almost before I was 
up, with a present of fruit from my young friend, 
&c. — There is something inexpressibly pleasant 
to me in these presents. Be it fruit, or fowl, or 
brawn, or what not. Books are a legitimate cause 
of acceptance. If presents be not the soul of 
friendship, undoubtedly they are the most spirit- 
ual part of the body of that intercourse. There 
is too much narrowness of thinking in this point. 
The punctilio of acceptance methinks is too con- 
fined and straitlaced. I could be content to re- 
ceive money, or clothes, or a joint of meat from 
a friend ; why should he not send me a dinner 


as well as a desert ? I would taste him in the 
beasts of the field, and thro' all creation. There- 
fore did the basket of fruit of the juvenile Tal- 
fourd not displease me. Not that I have any 
thoughts of bartering or reciprocating these 
things. To send him anything in return would 
be to reflect suspicion of mercenariness upon 
what I knew he meant a freewill offering. Let 
him overcome me in bounty. In this strife a gen- 
erous nature loves to be overcome. 

Alsager (whom you call Alsinger — and in- 
deed he is rather singer than sager, no reflection 
upon his naturals neither) is well and in harmony 
with himself and the world. I don't know how 
he and those of his constitution keep their nerves 
so nicely balanced as they do. Or have they any? 
or are they made of packthread ? He is proof 
against weather, ingratitude, meat underdone, 
every weapon of fate. I have just now a jagged 
end of a tooth pricking against my tongue, which 
meets it halfway in a wantonness of provocation, 
and there they go at it, the tongue pricking itself 
like the viper against the file, and the tooth gall- 
ing all the gum inside and out to torture, tongue 
and tooth, tooth and tongue, hard at it, and I to 
pay the reckoning, till all my mouth is as hot as 
brimstone, and I 'd venture the roof of my mouth 
that at this moment, at which I conjecture my 
full-happinessed friend is picking his crackers, not 
one of the double rows of ivory in his privileged 
mouth has as much as a flaw in it, but all per- 


form their functions, and having performed it, 
expect to be picked (luxurious steeds !) and 
rubbed down. I don't think, he could be robbed, 
or could have his house set on fire, or ever want 
money. I have heard him express a similar opin- 
ion of his own impassibility. 

I keep acting here Heautontimorumenos. M. 
Burney has been to Calais and has come home 
a travell'd Monsieur. He speaks nothing but the 
Gallic idiom. Field is on circuit. So now I be- 
lieve I have given account of most that you saw 
at our cabin. Have you seen a curious letter in 
Morning Chronicle, by C[apel] L[orft], the genius 
of absurdity, respecting Bonaparte's suing out his 
habeas corpus. That man is his own moon. He 
has no need of ascending into that gentle planet 
for mild influences. You wish me some of your 
leisure. I have a glimmering aspect, a chink- 
light of liberty before me, which I pray God may 
prove not fallacious. My remonstrances have 
stirred up others to remonstrate, and altogether, 
there is a plan for separating certain parts of 
business from our department, which if it take 
place will produce me more time, /. e. my even- 
ings free. It may be a means of placing me in 
a more conspicuous situation which will knock 
at my nerves another way, but I wait the issue 
in submission. If I can but begin my own day 
at four o'clock in the afternoon, I shall think 
myself to have Eden days of peace and liberty 
to what I have had. 


As you say, how a man can fill three volumes 
up with an essay on the drama is wonderful. I 
am sure a very few sheets would hold all I had 
to say on the subject. Did you ever read Char- 
ron On Wisdom? or Patrick's Pilgrim? if neither, 
you have two great pleasures to come. I mean 
some day to attack Caryl On Job, six folios. What 
any man can write, surely I may read. If I do but 
get rid of auditing warehousekeepers' accounts 
and get no worse-harassing task in the place of 
it, what a lord of liberty I shall be. I shall dance 
and skip, and make mouths at the invisible event, 
and pick the thorns out of my pillow, and throw 
'em at rich men's nightcaps, and talk blank verse, 
hoity-toity, and sing "A clerk I was in London 
gay," "Ban, ban, Ca-Caliban," like the emanci- 
pated monster, and go where I like, up this street 
or down that ally. Adieu, and pray that it may 
be my luck. Good be to you all. C. Lamb 


August 20, 1815. 

My dear friend, — I am going to do a queer 
thing. I have wearied myself with writing a long 
letter to Mrs. Morgan, a part of which is an in- 
coherent, rambling account of a jaunt we have 
just been taking. I want to tell you all about it, for 
we so seldom do such things that it runs strangely 
in my head, and I feel too tired to give you other 


than the mere copy of the nonsense I have just 
been writing. 

" Last Saturday was the grand feast day of the 
India House clerks. I think you must have heard 
Charles talk of his yearly turtle feast. He has 
been lately much wearied with work, and, glad 
to get rid of all connected with it, he used Satur- 
day, the feast day being a holiday, borrowed the 
Monday following, and we set off on the outside 
of the Cambridge coach from Fetter Lane at eight 
o'clock, and were driven into Cambridge in great 
triumph by hell-fire Dick five minutes before 
three. Richard is in high reputation, he is pri- 
vate tutor to the Whip Club. Journeys used to 
be tedious torments to me, but seated out in the 
open air I enjoyed every mile of the way; the 
first twenty miles was particularly pleasing to me, 
having been accustomed to go so far on that road 
in the Ware stage-coach to visit my grandmother 
in the days of other times. 

" In my life I never spent so many pleasant 
hours together as I did at Cambridge. We were 
walking the whole time — out of one college 
into another. If you ask me which I like best 
I must make the children's traditionary unoffend- 
ing reply to all curious inquirers — ' Both.' I 
liked them all best. The little gloomy ones, be- 
cause they were little gloomy ones. I felt as if 
I could live and die in them and never wish to 
speak again. And the fine grand Trinity College, 
oh how fine it was ! And King's College Chapel, 


what a place ! I heard the Cathedral service there, 
and having been no great church-goer of late 
years, that and the painted windows and the 
general effect of the whole thing affected me 

" I certainly like St. John's College best. I 
had seen least of it, having only been over it once, 
so, on the morning we returned, I got up at six 
o'clock and wandered into it by myself — by my- 
self indeed, for there was nothing alive to be seen 
but one cat, who followed me about like a dog. 
Then I went over Trinity, but nothing hailed me 
there, not even a cat. 

" On the Sunday we met with a pleasant thing. 
We had been congratulating each other that we 
had come alone to enjoy, as the miser his feast, 
all our sights greedily to ourselves, but having 
seen all we began to grow flat and wish for this 
and t'other body with us, when we were accosted 
by a young gownsman whose face we knew, but 
where or how we had seen him we could not tell, 
and were obliged to ask his name. He proved to 
be a young man we had seen twice at Alsager's. 
He turned out a very pleasant fellow — shewed 
us the insides of places ; we took him to our inn 
to dinner, and drank tea with him in such a de- 
licious college room, and then again he supped 
with us. We made our meals as short as possible, 
to lose no time, and walked our young conductor 
almost off his legs. Even when the fried eels were 
ready for supper and coming up, having a mess- 


age from a man whom we had bribed for the pur- 
pose, that then we might see Oliver Cromwell, 
who was not at home when we called to see him, 
we sallied out again and made him a visit by 
candlelight ; and so ended our sights. When we 
were setting out in the morning our new friend 
came to bid us good-bye, and rode with us as far 
as Trompington. I never saw a creature so happy 
as he was the whole time he was with us, he said 
we had put him in such good spirits that [he] 
should certainly pass an examination well that he 
is to go through in six weeks, in order to qualify 
himself to obtain a fellowship. 

" Returning home down old Fetter Lane I 
could hardly keep from crying to think it was 
all over. With what pleasure [Charles] shewed 
me Jesus College where Coleridge was, the bar- 
be [r's shop] where Manning was, the house where 
Lloyd lived, Franklin's rooms, a young school- 
fellow with whom Charles was the first time he 
went to Cambridge: I peeped in at his window ; 
the room looked quite deserted, old chairs stand- 
ing about in disorder that seemed to have stood 
there ever since they had sate in them. I write 
sad nonsense about these things ; but I wish you 
had heard Charles talk his nonsense over and over 
again about his visit to Franklin, and how he 
then first felt himself commencing gentleman 
and had eggs for his breakfast." Charles Lamb 
commencing gentleman ! 

A lady who is sitting by me, seeing what I am 

5 2 

doing, says I remind her of her husband, who 
acknowledged that the first love letter he wrote 
to her was a copy of one he had made use of 
on a former occasion. 

This is no letter, but if you give me any en- 
couragement to write again you shall have one 
entirely to yourself: a little encouragement will 
do, a few lines to say you are well and remember 
us. I will keep this to-morrow, maybe Charles 
will put a few lines to it ; I always send off a hum- 
drum letter of mine with great satisfaction if 
I can get him to freshen it up a little at the end. 
Let me beg my love to your sister Johanna with 
many thanks. I have much pleasure in looking 
forward to her nice bacon, the maker of which 
I long have had a great desire to see. 

God bless you, my dear Miss Hutchinson, I 
remain ever 

Your affectionate friend, M. Lamb 

[C harks Lamb adds:} 
Dear Miss Hutchinson, — I subscribe most 
willingly to all my sister says of her enjoyment 
at Cambridge. She was in silent raptures all the 
while there, and came home riding thro' the air 
(her first long outside journey) triumphing as if 
she had been graduated. I remember one foolish- 
pretty expression she made use of, " Bless the little 
churches, how pretty they are ! " as those symbols 
of civilized life opened upon her view one after 
the other on this side Cambridge. You cannot 


proceed a mile without starting a steeple, with 
its little patch of villagery round it, enverduring 
the waste. I don't know how you will pardon 
part of her letter being a transcript, but writing 
to another lady first (probably as the easiest task ") 
it was unnatural not to give you an account of 
what had so freshly delighted her, and would 
have been a piece of transcendant rhetorick (above 
her modesty) to have given two different accounts 
of a simple and univocal pleasure. Bless me how 
learned I write ! but I always forget myself when 
I write to ladies. One cannot tame one's erudi- 
tion down to their merely English apprehensions. 
But this and all other faults you will excuse from 
yours truly, C. Lamb 

Our kindest loves to Joanna, if she will accept 
it from us who are merely nominal to her, and 
to the child and child's parent. Yours again, 

C. L. 

\Mary Lamb adds this footnote :] 
' " Easiest task" Not the true reason, but 
Charles had so connected Coleridge and Cam- 
bridge in my mind, by talking so much of him 
there, and a letter coming so fresh from him, in 
a manner that was the reason I wrote to them first. 
I make this apology perhaps quite unnecessarily, 
but I am of a very jealous temper myself, and 
more than once recollect having been offended 
at seeing kind expressions which had particularly 


pleased me in a friend's letter repeated word for 
word to another. Farewell once more. 


[? 1815.] 

My dear Miss Betham,- — My brother and my- 
self return you a thousand thanks for your kind 
communication. We have read your poem many 
times over with increased interest, and very much 
wish to see you to tell you how highly we have 
been pleased with it. May we beg one favour ? 
— I keep the manuscript in the hope that you 
will grant it.. It is that, either now or when the 
whole poem is completed you will read it over 
with us. When I say with us, of course I mean 
Charles. I know that you have many judicious 
friends, but I have so often known my brother 
spy out errors in a manuscript which has passed 
through many judicious hands, that I shall not 
be easy if you do not permit him to look yours 
carefully through with you; and also you must 
allow him to correct the press for you. 

If I knew where to find you I would call 
upon you. Should you feel nervous at the idea 
of meeting Charles in the capacity of a severe 
censor, give me a line, and I will come to you 
anywhere, and convince you in five minutes that 
he is even timid, stammers, and can scarcely speak 
for modesty and fear of giving pain when he 
finds himself placed in that kind of office. Shall 


I appoint a time to see you here when he is from 
home ? I will send him out any time you will 
name ; indeed, I am always naturally alone till 
four o'clock. If you are nervous about coming, 
remember I am equally so about the liberty I 
have taken, and shall be till we meet and laugh 
off our mutual fears. 

Yours most affectionately, M. Lamb 


September 30, 1815. 

Dear Miss Betham, — Your letter has found 
me in such a distress'd state of mind, owing partly 
to my situation at home and partly to perplex- 
ities at my office, that I am constrain'd to re- 
linquish any further revision of Marie. 

The blunders I have already overlooked have 
weighed upon me almost insufferably. I have 
sent the printer your copy so far as it is clear to 
106 page. "Happiness too great for me" is the 
last line of that page. The rest, which I am not 
in any power to look over, being wretchedly ill, 
I send you back. I never was more ashamed of 
anything, but my head has a weight in it that 
forces me to give it up. Pray forgive me and 
write to the printer where you would have it 
sent in future. Yours truly, C. Lamb 

I have return'd the printer all the copy of 
the first sheets. 


I have alt'd that line to 

That magic laugh bespeaks thee prest (?) 

You had better consult Rogers about the expense 
of reprinting that sheet. An erratum there must 
be about kill. 


Dear Miss Betham, — All this while I have 
been tormenting myself with the thought of 
having been ungracious to you, and you have 
been all the while accusing yourself. Let us 
absolve one another, and be quits. My head is in 
such a state from incapacity for business that 
I certainly know it to be my duty not to under- 
take the veriest trifle in addition. I hardly know 
how I can go on. I have tried to get some re- 
dress by explaining my health, but with no great 
success. No one can tell how ill I am, because 
it does not come out to the exterior of my face, 
but lies in my scull deep and invisible. I wish 
I was leprous and black jaundiced skin-over, and 
that all was as well within as my cursed looks. 
You must not think me worse than I am. I am 
determined not to be overset, but to give up busi- 
ness rather and get 'em to allow me a trifle for 
services past. O that I had been a shoemaker or 
a baker, or a man of large independent fortune. 
O darling laziness ! heaven of Epicurus ! Saint's 
Everlasting Rest ! that I could drink vast pota- 


tions of thee thro' unmeasured Eternity. Otium 
cum vel sine dignitate. Scandalous, dishonorable, 
any-kind-of repose. I stand not upon the digni- 
fied sort. Accursed, damned desks, trade, com- 
merce, business. Inventions of that old original 
busybody brainworking Satan, Sabbathless, rest- 
less Satan. A curse relieves ; do you ever try it ? 
A strange letter this to write to a lady, but 
mere honey'd sentences will not distill. I dare 
not ask who revises in my stead. I have drawn 
you into a scrape. I am ashamed, but I know 
no remedy. My unwellness must be my apo- 
logy. God bless you (tho' he curse the India 
House and fire it to the ground) and may no 
unkind error creep into Marie, may all its read- 
ers like it as well as I do and everybody about 
you like its kind author no worse. Why the 
devil am I never to have a chance of scribbling 
my own free thoughts, verse or prose, again ? 
Why must I write of tea and drugs and price 
goods and bales of indigo — farewell. 

C. Lamb 

^Written at head of Letter on margin the following :] 
Mary goes to her place on Sunday — I mean 
your maid, foolish Mary. She wants a very little 
brains only to be an excellent servant. She is 
excellently calculated for the country, where 
nobody has brains. 



October 4, 18 15. 

Dear Ayrton, — I am confident that the word 
air in your sense does not occur in Spenser or 
Shakspeare, much less in older writers. The first 
trace I remember of it is in Milton's sonnet to 
Lawrence, " Warble immortal verse and Tuscan 
air ; " where, if the word had not been very 
newly familiarized, he would doubtless have used 
airs in the plural. 

Yours in haste, C. L. 


October 14, 1815. 

Dear A., — Concerning " Air " — Shakspeare's 
'Twelfth Night has "light airs and giddy recol- 
lections ; " I am sure I forget whereabouts. Also 
you will see another use of it in the Tempest 
(same sense) in Johnson's Dictionary. Spenser 
I still persist in, has it not, much less Chaucer. 
I have turned to all their places about music. 

C. L. 

No doubt we had it from the Italian aria, — 
now aria is not the Latin aera modernized, but 
aer, is it not ? 



October 19, 1815. 

My brother is gone to Paris. 

Dear Miss H., — I am forced to be the replier 
to your letter, for Mary has been ill and gone 
from home these five weeks yesterday. She has 
left me very lonely and very miserable. I stroll 
about, but there is no rest but at one's own fire- 
side, and there is no rest for me there now. I 
look forward to the worse half being past, and 
keep up as well as I can. She has begun to show 
some favourable symptoms. The return of her 
disorder has been frightfully soon this time, with 
scarce a six months' interval. I am almost afraid 
my worry of spirits about the East India House 
was partly the cause of her illness, but one always 
imputes it to the cause next at hand ; more prob- 
ably it comes from some cause we have no con- 
trol over or conjecture of. It cuts sad great slices 
out of the time, the little time we shall have to 
live together. I don't know but the recurrence 
of these illnesses might help me to sustain her 
death better than if we had had no partial separ- 
ations. But I won't talk of death. I will imag- 
ine us immortal, or forget that we are otherwise ; 
by God's blessing in a few weeks we may be 
making our meal together, or sitting in the front 
row of the pit at Drury Lane, or taking our 
evening walk past the theatres, to look at the 


outside of them at least, if not to be tempted in. 
Then we forget we are assailable : we are strong 
for the time as rocks ; the wind is tempered to 
the shorn Lambs. 

Poor C. Lloyd, and poor Priscilla, I feel I 
hardly feel enough for him, my own calamities 
press about me and involve me in a thick in- 
tegument not to be reached at by other folks' 
misfortunes. But I feel all I can, and all the 
kindness I can towards you all. God bless you. 
I hear nothing from Coleridge. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


December 25, 18 15. 

Dear old friend and absentee, — This is Christ- 
mas-day 1 8 1 5 with us ; what it may be with 
you I don't know, the 1 2th of June next year 
perhaps ; and if it should be the consecrated 
season with you, I don't see how you can keep it. 
You have no turkeys ; you would not desecrate 
the festival by offering up a withered Chinese 
bantam, instead of the savoury grand Norfolcian 
holocaust, that smokes all around my nostrils at 
this moment from a thousand firesides. Then 
what puddings have you ? Where will you get 
holly to stick in your churches, or churches to 
stick your dried tea-leaves (that must be the sub- 
stitute) in ? What memorials you can have of 
the holy time, I see not. A chopped missionary 


or two may keep up the thin idea of Lent and 
the wilderness ; but what standing evidence have 
you of the Nativity? — 'tis our rosy-cheeked, 
homestalled divines, whose faces shine to the tune 
of unto us a child; faces fragrant with the mince- 
pies of half a century, that alone can authen- 
ticate the cheerful mystery — I feel. 

I feel my bowels refreshed with the holy tide ; 
my zeal is great against the unedified heathen. 
Down with the pagodas — down with the idols 
— Ching-chong-fo — and his foolish priesthood ! 
Come out of Babylon, O my friend ! for her time 
is come, and the child that is native, and the 
proselyte of her gates, shall kindle and smoke 
together ! And in sober sense what makes you 
so long from among us, Manning ? You must 
not expect to see the same England again which 
you left. 

Empires have been overturned, crowns trod- 
den into dust, the face of the western world quite 
changed : your friends have all got old — those 
you left blooming — myself (who am one of 
the few that remember you), those golden hairs 
which you recollect my taking a pride in, turned 
to silvery and grey. Mary has been dead and 
buried many years ; she desired to be buried in 
the silk gown you sent her. Rickman, that you 
remember active and strong, now walks out 
supported by a servant-maid and a stick. Martin 
Burney is a very old man. 

The other day an aged woman knocked at my 


door, and pretended to my acquaintance ; it was 
long before I had the most distant cognition of 
her ; but at last together we made her out to be 
Louisa, the daughter of Mrs. Topham, formerly 
Mrs. Morton, who had been Mrs. Reynolds, 
formerly Mrs. Kenney, whose first husband was 
Holcroft, the dramatic writer of the last century. 
St. Paul's Church is a heap of ruins ; the Monu- 
ment is n't half so high as you knew it, divers 
parts being successively taken down which the 
ravages of time had rendered dangerous ; the 
horse at Charing Cross is gone, no one knows 
whither, — and all this has taken place while you 
have been settling whether Ho-hing-tong should 

be spelt with a or a . For aught I see, 

you had almost as well remain where you are, 
and not come like a Struldbrug into a world 
where few were born when you went away. 
Scarce here and there one will be able to make 
out your face ; all your opinions will be out of 
date, your jokes obsolete, your puns rejected with 
fastidiousness as wit of the last age. Your way 
of mathematics has already given way to a new 
method, which after all is I believe the old doc- 
trine of Maclaurin, new-vamped up with what 
he borrowed of the negative quantity of fluxions 
from Euler. 

Poor Godwin ! I was passing his tomb the 
other day in Cripplegate churchyard. There 
are some verses upon it written by Miss Hayes, 
which if I thought good enough I would send 


you. He was one of those who would have 
hailed your return, not with boisterous shouts 
and clamours, but with the complacent gratu- 
lations of a philosopher anxious to promote 
knowledge as leading to happiness — but his 
systems and his theories are ten feet deep in 
Cripplegate mould. 

Coleridge is just dead, having lived just long 
enough to close the eyes of Wordsworth, who 
paid the debt to nature but a week or two before. 
Poor Col., but two days before he died he wrote 
to a bookseller proposing an epic poem on the 
Wanderings of Cain, in twenty-four books. It is 
said he has left behind him more than forty thou- 
sand treatises in criticism and metaphysics, but 
few of them in a state of completion. They are 
now destined, perhaps, to wrap up spices. You 
see what mutations the busy hand of Time has 
produced, while you have consumed in foolish 
voluntary exile that time which might have 
gladdened your friends — benefited your coun- 
try; but reproaches are useless. Gather up the 
wretched reliques, my friend, as fast as you can, 
and come to your old home. I will rub my eyes 
and try to recognise you. We will shake with- 
ered hands together, and talk of old things — of 
St. Mary's Church and the barber's opposite, 
where the young students in mathematics used 
to assemble. Poor Crisp, that kept it afterwards, 
set up a fruiterer's shop in Trumpington Street, 
and for aught I know, resides there still, for I saw 


the name up in the last journey I took there with 
my sister just before she died. 

I suppose you heard that I had left the India 
House, and gone into the Fishmongers' Alms- 
houses over the bridge. I have a little cabin 
there, small and homely ; but you shall be wel- 
come to it. You like oysters, and to open them 
yourself; I '11 get you some if you come in 
oyster time. Marshall, Godwin's old friend, is 
still alive, and talks of the faces you used to 

Come as soon as you can. C. Lamb 


December 26, 18 15. 

Dear Manning, — Following your brother's 
example, I have just ventured one letter to Can- 
ton, and am now hazarding another (not exactly 
a duplicate) to St. Helena. The first was full of 
improbable romantic fictions, fitting the remote- 
ness of the mission it goes upon ; in the present 
I mean to confine myself nearer to truth as you 
come nearer home. A correspondence with the 
uttermost parts of the earth necessarily involves in 
it some heat of fancy; it sets the brain a-going; 
but I can think on the half-way house tranquilly. 
Your friends, then, are not all dead or grown 
forgetful of you thro' old age, as that lying letter 

1 An autograph facsimile of this letter appears, in its chronological 
order, in Vol. I. 


asserted, anticipating rather what must happen 
if you kept tarrying on for ever on the skirts of 
creation, as there seemed a danger of your doing 
— but they are all tolerably well and in full 
and perfect comprehension of what is meant by 
Manning's coming home again. Mrs. Kenney 
[ci-devant Holcroft ) never let her tongue [run] riot 
more than in remembrances of you. Fanny ex- 
pends herself in phrases that can only be justify'd 
by her romantic nature. Mary reserves a portion 
of your silk, not to be buried in (as the false 
nuncio asserts), but to make up spick and span 
into a new-bran gown to wear when you come. 
I am the same as when you knew me, almost to 
a surfeiting identity. This very night I am going 
to leave off tobacco ! Surely there must be some 
other world in which this unconquerable pur- 
pose shall be realised. The soul hath not her 
generous aspirings implanted in her in vain. 

One that you knew, and I think the only one 
of those friends we knew much of in common, 
has died in earnest. Poor Priscilla, wife of Kit 
Wordsworth ! Her brother Robert is also dead, 
and several of the grown-up brothers and sisters, 
in the compass of a very few years. Death has 
not otherwise meddled much in families that I 
know. Not but he has his damn'd eye upon us, 
and is whetting his infernal feathered dart every 
instant, as you see him truly pictured in that 
impressive moral picture, "The Good Man at 
the hour of death." 


I have in trust to put in the post four letters 
from Diss, and one from Lynn, to St. Helena, 
which I hope will accompany this safe, and one 
from Lynn, and the one before spoken of from 
me, to Canton. But we all hope that these 
latter may be waste paper. I don't know why 
I have forborne writing so long. But it is such 
a forlorn hope to send a scrap of paper straggling 
over wide oceans. And yet I know when you 
come home, I shall have you sitting before me 
at our fire-side just as if you had never been 
away. In such an instant does the return of 
a person dissipate all the weight of imaginary 
perplexity from distance of time and space ! 

I '11 promise you good oysters. Cory is dead, 
that kept the shop opposite St. Dunstan's, but 
the tougher materials of the shop survive the 
perishing frame of its keeper. Oysters continue 
to flourish there under as good auspices. Poor 
Cory ! But if you will absent yourself twenty 
years together, you must not expect numerically 
the same population to congratulate your return 
which wetted the sea-beach with their tears when 
you went away. 

Have you recovered the breathless stone- 
staring astonishment into which you must have 
been thrown upon learning at landing that an 
Emperor of France was living in St. Helena? 
What an event in the solitude of the seas ! like 
finding a fish's bone at the top of Plinlimmon ; 
but these things are nothing in our western world. 

6 7 

Novelties cease to affect. Come and try what 
your presence can. God bless you. 

Your old friend, C. Lamb 


April 9, 1816. 

Dear Wordsworth, — Thanks for the books 
you have given me and for all the books you mean 
to give me. I will bind up the Political Sonnets 
and Ode according to your suggestion. I have 
not bound the poems yet. I wait till people have 
done borrowing them. I think I shall get a chain, 
and chain them to my shelves more Bodleiano, and 
people may come and read them at chain's length. 
For of those who borrow, some read slow, some 
mean to read but don't read, and some neither 
read nor meant to read, but borrow to leave you 
an opinion of their sagacity. I must do my 
money-borrowing friends the justice to say that 
there is nothing of this caprice or wantonness 
of alienation in them. When they borrow my 
money, they never fail to make use of it. Cole- 
ridge has been here about a fortnight. His health 
is tolerable at present, though beset with tempt- 
ations. In the first place, the Covent Garden 
Manager has declined accepting his tragedy, tho' 
(having read it) I see no reason upon earth why 
it might not have run a very fair chance, tho' it 
certainly wants a prominent part for a MissO'Neil 
or a Mr. Kean. However he is going to-day to 


write to Lord Byron to get it to Drury. Should 
you see Mrs. C, who has just written to C. a let- 
ter which I have given him, it will be as well 
to say nothing about its fate till some answer is 
shaped from Drury. He has two volumes print- 
ing together at Bristol, both finished as far as the 
composition goes ; the latter containing his fugi- 
tive poems, the former his Literary Life. Nature, 
who conducts every creature by instinct to its 
best end, has skilfully directed C. to take up his 
abode at a chemist's laboratory in Norfolk Street. 
She might as well have sent a helluo librorum for 
cure to the Vatican. God keep him inviolate 
among the traps and pitfalls. He has done pretty 
well as yet. 

Tell Miss H [utchinson] my sister is every day 
wishing to be quietly sitting down to answer her 
very kind letter, but while C. stays she can hardly 
find a quiet time ; God bless him ! 

Tell Mrs. W. her postscripts are always agree- 
able. They are so legible too. Your manual- 
graphy is terrible, dark as Lycophron. " Likeli- 
hood" for instance is thus typified [here Lamb 
makes an illegible scribble]. 

I should not wonder if the constant making out 
of such paragraphs is the cause of that weakness 
in Mrs. W.'s eyes as she is tenderly pleased to 
express it. Dorothy I hear has mounted spectacles ; 
so you have deoculated two of your dearest rela- 
tions in life. Well, God bless you and continue 
to give you power to write with a finger of power 


upon our hearts what you fail to impress in cor- 
responding lucidness upon our outward eyesight. 

Mary's love to all; she is quite well. 

I am call'd off to do the deposits on Cotton 
Wool ; but why do I relate this to you who want 
faculties to comprehend the great mystery of 
deposits, of interest, of warehouse rent, and con- 
tingent fund? Adieu. C.Lamb 

A longer letter when C. is gone back into the 
country, relating his success, &c. — my judgment 
of your new books, &c, &c. — I am scarce quiet 
enough while he stays. 

Yours again, C. L. 


April 26, 1 816. 

Dear W., — I have just finished the pleasing 
task of correcting the revise of the Poems and 
letter. I hope they will come out faultless. One 
blunder I saw and shuddered at. The halluci- 
nating rascal had printed battered for battened, this 
last not conveying any distinct sense to his gap- 
ing soul. The Reader (as they call 'em) had dis- 
covered it and given it the marginal brand, but 
the substitutory n had not yet appeared. I accom- 
panied his notice with a most pathetic address to 
the printer not to neglect the correction. I know 
how such a blunder would " batter at your peace." 
With regard to the works, the Letter I read with 


unabated satisfaction. Such a thing was wanted ; 
called for. The parallel of Cotton with Burns 
I heartily approve; Izaak Walton hallows any 
page in which his reverend name appears. " Duty 
archly bending to purposes of general benevo- 
lence" is exquisite. The Poems I endeavoured 
not to understand, but to read them with my eye 
alone, and I think I succeeded (some people will 
do that when they come out, you '11 say). As if 
I were to luxuriate to-morrow at some picture 
gallery I was never at before, and going by 
to-day by chance, found the door open, had but 
five minutes to look about me, peeped in, just 
such a chastised peep I took with my mind at the 
lines my luxuriating eye was coursing over unre- 
strained, — not to anticipate another day's fuller 

Coleridge is printing Christabel, by Lord By- 
ron's recommendation to Murray, with what he 
calls a vision, Kubla Khan — which said vision 
he repeats so enchantingly that it irradiates and 
brings heaven and Elysian bowers into my parlour 
while he sings or says it, but there is an observa- 
tion " Never tell thy dreams," and I am almost 
afraid that Kubla Khan is an owl that won't bear 
daylight, I fear lest it should be discovered, by 
the lantern of typography and clear reducting 
to letters, no better than nonsense or no sense. 
When I was young I used to chant with extasy 
Mild Arcadians ever blooming, till somebody told 
me it was meant to be nonsense. Even yet I have 

7 1 

a lingering attachment to it, and think it better 
than Windsor Forest, Dying Christian's Address, Sec. 
— C. has sent his Tragedy to Drury Lane The- 
atre. It cannot be acted this season, and by their 
manner of receiving it, I hope he will be able to 
alter it to make them accept it for next. He is 
at present under the medical care of a Mr. Gil- 
man (Killman?) a Highgate apothecary, where 
he plays at leaving off laudanum. I think his 
essentials not touched : he is very bad, but then 
he wonderfully picks up another day, and his face 
when he repeats his verses hath its ancient glory, 
an Archangel a little damaged. 

Will Miss H. pardon our not replying at 
length to her kind letter ? We are not quiet 
enough. Morgan is with us every day, going 
betwixt Highgate and the Temple. Coleridge 
is absent but four miles, and the neighbourhood 
of such a man is as exciting as the presence of 
fifty ordinary persons. 'T is enough to be within 
the whiff and wind of his genius, for us not to 
possess our souls in quiet. If I lived with him 
or the author of the Excursion, I should in a very 
little time lose my own identity, and be dragged 
along in the current of other people's thoughts, 
hampered in a net. 

How cool I sit in this office, with no possible 
interruption further than what I may term mate- 
rial ; there is not as much metaphysics in thirty- 
six of the people here as there is in the first page 
of Locke's Treatise on the Human Understanding, 


or as much poetry as in any ten lines of the Pleas- 
ures of Hope or more natural Beggar's Petition. 
I never entangle myself in any of their specula- 
tions. Interruptions, if I try to write a letter 
even, I have dreadful. Just now within four lines 
I was call'd off for ten minutes to consult dusty 
old books for the settlement of obsolete errors. 
I hold you a guinea you don't find the chasm 
where I left off, so excellently the wounded sense 
closed again and was healed. 

N. B. Nothing said above to the contrary 
but that I hold the personal presence of the two 
mentioned potent spirits at a rate as high as any : 
but I pay dearer ; what amuses others robs me of 
myself; my mind is positively discharged into 
their greater currents, but flows with a willing 
violence. As to your question about work, it is far 
less oppressive to me than it was, from circum- 
stances ; it takes all the golden part of the day 
away, a solid lump from ten to four, but it does 
not kill my peace as before. Some day or other 
I shall be in a taking again. My head akes and 
you have had enough. God bless you. 

C. Lamb 


May 13, 1816. 

Dear Sir, — I thank you much for the curious 
volume of Southey, which I return, together with 


Falstaff's Letters, Elgin Stone Report, and a little 
work of my own, of which perhaps you have no 
copy and I have a great many. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


June i, 1816. 

Dear Miss Betham, — I have sent your very 
pretty lines to Southey in a frank as you requested. 
Poor S., what a grievous loss he must have had ! 
Mary and I rejoice in the prospect of seeing you 
soon in town. Let us be among the very first per- 
sons you come to see. Believe me that you can 
have no friends who respect and love you more 
than ourselves. Pray present our kind remem- 
brances to Barbara, and to all to whom you may 
think they will be acceptable. 

Yours very sincerely, C. Lamb 

Have you seen Christabel since its publica- 
tion ? 


July, 1816. 

My dear fellow, — I have been in a lethargy 
this long while, and forgotten London, Westmin- 
ster, Marybone, Paddington — they all went clean 
out of my head, till happening to go to a neigh- 
bour's in this good borough of Calne, for want of 


whist players, we fell upon Commerce : the word 
awoke me to a remembrance of my professional 
avocations and the long-continued strife which 
I have been these twenty-four years endeavouring 
to compose between those grand Irreconcileables 
Cash and Commerce ; I instantly called for an 
almanack, which with some difficulty was pro- 
cured at a fortune-teller's in the vicinity (for the 
happy holyday people here having nothing to do, 
keep no account of time), and found that by dint 
of duty I must attend in Leadenhall onWednes'y 
morning next, and shall attend accordingly. 

Does Master Hannah give macaroons still, and 
does he fetch the Cobbetts from my attic ? Per- 
haps it would n't be too much trouble for him to 
drop the inclosed up at my aforesaid chamber, 
and any letters, &c, with it; but the inclosed 
should go without delay. 

N. B. — He is n't to fetch Monday's Cobbett, 
but it is to wait my reading when I come back. 
Heigh Ho ! Lord have mercy upon me, how 
many does two and two make ? I am afraid I 
shall make a poor clerk in future, I am spoiled 
with rambling among haycocks and cows and 
pigs. Bless me ! I had like to have forgot (the 
air is so temperate and oblivious here) to say I 
have seen your brother, and hope he is doing well 
in the finest spot of the world. More of these 
things when I return. Remember me to the gen- 
tlemen, — I forget names. Shall I find all my 
letters at my rooms on Tuesday ? If you forgot 


to send 'em never mind, for I don't much care 
for reading and writing now ; I shall come back 
again by degrees, I suppose, into my former habits. 
How is Bruce de Ponthieu, and Porcherand Co.? 
— the tears come into my eyes when I think 
how long I have neglected . 

Adieu ! ye fields, ye shepherds and — herd- 
esses, and dairies and cream-pots, and fairies and 
dances upon the green. 

I come, I come. Don't drag me so hard by 
the hair of my head, Genius of British India ! 
I know my hour is come, Faustus must give up 
his soul, O Lucifer, O Mephistopheles ! Can you 
make out what all this letter is about ? I am 
afraid to look it over. Ch. Lamb 

Calne, Wilts, Friday, 
July something, old style, 1816. 

No new style here, all the styles are old, and 
some of the gates too for that matter. 


September 23, 18 16. 

My dear Wordsworth, — It seems an age since 
we have corresponded, but indeed the interim 
has been stufF'd out with more variety than usually 
checquers my same-seeming existence. Mercy 
on me, what a traveller have I been since I wrote 
you last! what foreign wonders have been ex- 
plored ! I have seen Bath, King Bladud's ancient 
well, fair Bristol, seed-plot of suicidal Chatterton, 


Marlbro', Chippenham, Calne, famous for no- 
thing in particular that I know of — but such a 
vertigo of locomotion has not seized us for years. 
We spent a month with the Morgans at the last 
named Borough — August — and such a change 
has the change wrought in us that we could not 
stomach wholesome Temple air, but are abso- 
lutely rusticating (O the gentility of it !) at Dal- 
ston, about one mischievous boy's stone's throw 
off Kingsland turnpike, one mile from Shoreditch 
church, — thence we emanate in various direc- 
tions to Hackney, Clapton, Totnam, and such like 
romantic country. That my lungs should ever 
prove so dainty as to fancy they perceive differ- 
ences of air ! but so it is, tho' I am almost ashamed 
of it, like Milton's devil (turn'd truant to his old 
brimstone) I am purging off the foul air of my 
once darling tobacco in this Eden, absolutely 
snuffing up pure gales, like old worn-out Sin 
playing at being innocent, which never comes 
again, for in spite of good books and good 
thoughts there is something in a pipe that virtue 
cannot give, tho' she give her unendowed person 
for a dowry. 

Have you read the review of Coleridge's char- 
acter, person, physiognomy, &c, in the Exam- 
iner — his features even to his nose — O horrible 
license beyond the old Comedy. He is himself 
gone to the seaside with his favourite apothecary, 
having left for publication as I hear a prodigious 
mass of composition for a sermon to the middling 


ranks of people to persuade them they are not so 
distressed as is commonly supposed. Methinks he 
should recite it to a congregation of Bilston col- 
liers, — the fate of Cinna the poet would instan- 
taneously be his. God bless him, but certain that 
rogue Examiner has beset him in most unman- 
nerly strains. Yet there is a kind of respect shines 
thro' the disrespect that to those who know the 
rare compound (that is the subject of it) almost 
balances the reproof, but then those who know 
him but partially or at a distance are so extremely 
apt to drop the qualifying part thro' their fingers. 
The "after all, Mr. Wordsworth is a man of 
great talents, if he did not abuse them " comes 
so dim upon the eyes of an Edinbro' Review 
reader, that have been gloating-open chuckle- 
wide upon the preceding detail of abuses, it scarce 
strikes the pupil with any consciousness of the 
letters being there, like letters writ in lemon. 
There was a cut at me a few months back by the 
same hand, but my agnomen or agni-nomen not 
being calculated to strike the popular ear, it dropt 
anonymous, but it was a pretty compendium of 
observation, which the author has collected in 
my disparagement, from some hundreds of social 
evenings which we had spent together, — how- 
ever in spite of all, there is something tough in 
my attachment to H[azlitt], which these violent 
strainings cannot quite dislocate or sever asunder. 
I get no conversation in London that is abso- 
lutely worth attending to but his. There is mon- 


strous little sense in the world, or I am monstrous 
clever, or squeamish or something, but there is 
nobody to talk to — to talk with I should say 
— and to go talking to one's self all day long is 
too much of a good thing, besides subjecting one 
to the imputation of being out of one's senses, 
which does no good to one's temporal interest 
at all. 

By the way, I have seen Coleridge but once 
these three or four months. He is an odd person, 
when he first comes to town he is quite hot upon 
visiting, and then he turns off and absolutely 
never comes at all, but seems to forget there are 
any such people in the world. I made one at- 
tempt to visit him (a morning call) at Highgate, 
but there was something in him or his apothe- 
cary which I found so unattractively-repulsing 
from any temptation to call again, that I stay 
away as naturally as a lover visits. The rogue 
gives you love powders, and then a strong horse 
drench to bring 'em off your stomach that they 
may n't hurt you. 

I was very sorry the printing of your letter 
was not quite to your mind, but I surely did 
not think but you had arranged the manner of 
breaking the paragraphs from some principle 
known to your own mind, and for some of the 
errors, I am confident that note of admiration in 
the middle of two words did not stand so when 
I had it, it must have dropt out and been replaced 
wrong, so odious a blotch could not have escaped 


me. Gifford (whom God curse) has persuaded 
squinting Murray (whom may God not bless) 
not to accede to an offer Field made for me 
to print two volumes of Essays, to include the 
one on Hogarth and one or two more, but most 
of the matter to be new, but I dare say I should 
never have found time to make them; M. would 
have had 'em, but shewed specimens from the 

Reflector to G , as he acknowledged to Field, 

and Crispin did for me. " Not on his soal [sole], 
but on his soul, damn'd Jew," may the maledic- 
tion of my eternal antipathy light. We desire 
much to hear from you, and of you all, includ- 
ing Miss Hutchinson, for not writing to whom 
Mary feels a weekly (and did for a long time 
feel a daily) pang. How is Southey ? I hope his 
pen will continue to move many years smoothly 
and continuously for all the rubs of the rogue 
Examiner. A pertinacious foul-mouthed villain 
it is ! 

This is written for a rarity at the seat of busi- 
ness : it is but little time I can generally com- 
mand from secular calligraphy, — the pen seems 
to know as much and makes letters like figures 
— an obstinate clerkish thing. It shall make 
a couplet in spite of its nib before I have done 
with it, 

and so I end, 
Commending me to your love, my dearest friend. 

From Leaden Hall, September something, 1816, 

C. Lamb 


Middle of November, 1816. 

Mary has barely left me room to say How 
d' ye. I have received back the Examiner con- 
taining the delicate inquiry into certain infirm 
parts of S. T. C.'s character. What is the gen- 
eral opinion of it ? Farewell. My love to all. 

C. Lamb 

My dear friend, — I have just been reading 
your kind letter over again and find you had some 
doubt whether we had left the Temple entirely. 
It was merely a lodging we took to recruit our 
health and spirits. From the time we left Calne, 
Charles drooped sadly, company became quite 
irksome, and his anxious desire to leave off smok- 
ing, and his utter inability to perform his daily 
resolutions against it, became quite a torment to 
him, so I prevailed with him to try the experi- 
ment of change of scene, and set out in one of 
the short stage-coaches from Bishopsgate Street, 
Miss Brent and I, and we looked over all the 
little places within three miles, and fixed on one 
quite countrified and not two miles from Shore- 
ditch church, and entered upon it the next day. 
I thought if we stayed but a week it would be 
a little rest and respite from our troubles, and we 
made a ten weeks' stay, and very comfortable 
we were, so much so that if ever Charles is super- 


annuated on a small pension, which is the great 
object of his ambition, and we felt our income 
straitened, I do think I could live in the country 
entirely ; at least I thought so while I was there, 
but since I have been at home I wish to live and 
die in the Temple, where I was born. We left 
the trees so green it looked like early autumn, 
and can see but one leaf " The last of its clan " 
on our poor old Hare Court trees. 

What a rainy summer ! — and yet I have been 
so much out of town and have made so much 
use of every fine day that I can hardly help think- 
ing it has been a fine summer. We calculated 
we walked three hundred and fifty miles while we 
were in our country lodging. One thing I must 
tell you, Charles came round every morning 
to a shop near the Temple to get shaved. Last 
Sunday we had such a pleasant day, I must tell 
you of it. We went to Kew and saw the old 
palace where the King was brought up, it was 
the pleasantest sight I ever saw, I can scarcely 
tell you why, but a charming old woman shewed 
it to us. She had lived twenty-six years there and 
spoke with such a hearty love of our good old 
King, whom all the world seems to have forgot- 
ten, that it did me good to hear her. She was 
as proud in pointing out the plain furniture (and 
I am sure you are now sitting in a larger and 
better furnished room) of a small room in which 
the King always dined, nay more proud of the 
simplicity of her royal master's taste, than any 


shower of Carlton House can be in showing the 
fine things there, and so she was when she made 
us remark the smallness of one of the Princess's 
bedrooms, and said she slept and also dressed in 
that little room. There are a great many good 
pictures, but I was most pleased with one of the 
King when he was about two years old, such a 
pretty little white-headed boy. 

I cannot express how much pleasure a letter 
from you gives us. If I could promise myself 
I should be always as well as I am now, I would 
say I will be a better correspondent in future. If 
Charles has time to add a line I shall be less 
ashamed to send this hasty scrawl. Love to all 
and every one. How much I should like once 
more to see Miss Wordsworth's handwriting, if 
she would but write a postscript to your next, 
which I look to receive in a few days. 

Yours affectionately, M. Lamb 

For a postscript see the beginning. 


[No date.] 

Dear Miss Betham, — That accursed word 
"trill" has vexed me excessively. I have referred 
to the MS. and certainly the printer is exoner- 
ated; it is much more like a tr than a k. But what 
shall I say of myself ? 

If you can trust me hereafter, I will be more 

careful. I will go thro' the poem, unless you should 
feel more safe by doing ityourself. Infact, a second 
person looking over a proof is liable to let pass 
anything that sounds plausible. The act of look- 
ing it over seeming to require only an attention 
to the words — that they have the proper com- 
ponent letters, one scarce thinks then (or but half ) 
of the sense. You will find one line I have 
ventured to alter in third sheet. You had made 
" hope ' ' and " yoke ' ' rhime, which is intolerable. 
Everybody can see and carp at a bad rhime, or no 
rhime. It strikes as slovenly like bad spelling. 

I found out another sung, but I could not alter 
it, and I would not delay the time by writing 
to you. Besides, it is not at all conspicuous — it 
comes in, by the bye, " the strains I sung." The 
other obnoxious word was in an eminent place, 
at the beginning of " Her lay, when all ears are 
upon her." 

I must conclude hastily, dear M. B., 

Yours, C. L. 



[Late 1816.] 

My dear Miss Hutchinson, — I had intended 
to write you a long letter, but as my frank is 
dated I must send it off with a bare acknowledg- 
ment of the receipt of your kind letter. One 
question I must hastily ask you. Do you think 
Mr. Wordsworth would have any reluctance to 


write (strongly recommending to their patron- 
age) to any of his rich friends in London to so- 
licit employment for Miss Betham as a miniature 
painter ? If you give me hopes that he will not 
be averse to do this, I will write to you more 
fully stating the infinite good he would do by 
performing so irksome a task as I know asking 
favours to be. In brief, she has contracted debts 
for printing her beautiful poem of Marie, which 
like all things of original excellence does not sell 
at all. 

These debts have led to little accidents unbe- 
coming a woman and a poetess to suffer. Re- 
tirement with such should be voluntary. 

{Charles Lamb adds :] 
The bell rings. I just snatch the pen out of 
my sister's hand to finish rapidly. Wordsworth 
may tell De Quincey that Miss Betham's price 
for a Virgin and Child is three guineas. 

Yours (all of you) ever, C. L. 


December 30, 1816. 

Dear R., — Your goose found her way into our 
larder with infinite discretion. Judging by her 
giblets which we have sacrificed first, she is a most 
sensible bird. Mary bids me say, first, that she 
thanks you for your remembrance, next that Mr. 
Norris and his family are no less indebted to you 


as the cause of his reverend and amiable visage 
being perpetuated when his soul is flown. Find- 
ing nothing like a subscription going on for the 
unhappy lady, and not knowing how to press an 
actual sum upon her, she hit upon the expedient 
of making believe that Mr. N. wanted his min- 
iature (which his chops did seem to water after, 
I must confess, when 'twas first proposed, though 
with a Nolo Pingier for modesty), and the likeness 
being completed, your ^5 is to go as from him. 
This I must confess is robbing Peter, or like 
the equitable distribution in Alexander s Feast, 
" Love was crowned " though somebody else 
"won the cause." And Love himself, smiling 
Love, he might have sat for, so complacent he 
sat as he used to sit when in his days of courtship 
he ogled thro' his spectacles. I have a shrewd 
suspicion he has an eye upon his spouse's pic- 
ture after this, and probably some collateral 
branches may follow of the Norris or Faint 
Stock, so that your forerunner may prove a not- 
able decoy duck. The Colliers are going to sit. 
Item, her knightly brother in Ireland is soon 
coming over, apprized of her difficulties, and I 
confidently hope an emergence for her. 

But G. Dyer executor to a nobleman ! G. D. 
residuary legatee ! What whirligig of fortune is 
this ? Valet ima Summis. Strange world, strange 
kings, strange composition ! — I can't enjoy it 
sufficiently till I get a more active belief in it. 
You've seen the will of Lord Stanhope. Conceive 


his old floor strew 'd with disiecta me?nbra Poeseos, 
now loaden with codicils, deeds of trust, letters 
of attorney, bonds, obligations, forfeitures, ex- 
chequer bills, noverint universis. " Mr. Serjeant 
Best, pray take my arm-chair. My Lord Hol- 
land sit here. Lord Grantly, will your Lordship 
take the other? Mr. Jekyll, excuse my offer- 
ing you the window-seat. We'll now have that 
clause read over again." 

B. and Fletcher describe a little French lawyer 
spoilt by an accidental duel he got thrust into, 
from a notable counsellor turned into a bravo. 
Here is G. D. more contra-naturally metamor- 
phosed. My life on it, henceforth he explodes his 
old hobby horses. No more poring into Cam- 
bridge records ; here are other title-deeds to 
be looked into — now can he make any Joan 
a Lady. And if he don't get too proud to marry, 
that long unsolved problem of G. D. is in danger 
of being quickly melted. They can't choose but 
come and make offer of their coy wares. I see 
Miss H. prim up her chin, Miss B-n-j-o cock 
her nose. 

He throws his dirty glove. G. D., Iratis Ven- 
eribus, marries, for my life on 't. 

And 'tis odds in that case but he leaves off 
making love and verses. 

Indeed I look upon our friend as dead, dead 
to all his desperate fancies, pleasures, — he has lost 
the dignity of verse, the dignity of poverty, the 
dignity of digging on in desperation through mines 


of literature that yielded nothing. Adieu ! the 

wrinkled brow, the chin half shaved, the ruined 

arm-chair, the wind-admitting and expelling 

screen, the fluttering pamphlets, the lost letters, 

the documents never to be found when wanting, 

the unserviceable comfortable landress. 

G. D.'s occupation 's o'er ! 
Demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error ! 

Haec pauca de amico nostro antiquo accipe pro 
naeniis exequiis, et eiusdem generis a/us. Vale nos- 
ier G. D. 

From yours as he was, unchanged by Fortune. 

C. L. 


April 1 8, 1817. 

Dear A., — I am in your debt for a very de- 
lightful evening — I should say two — but Don 
Giovanni in particular was exquisite, and I am 
almost inclined to allow music to be one of the 
liberal arts; which before I doubted. Could you 
let me have three gallery tickets — don't be 
startled — they shall positively be the last — 
or two or one — for the same, for to-morrow or 
Tuesday. They will be of no use for to-morrow 
if not put in the post this day addrest to me, Mr. 
Lamb, India House; if for any other evening, 
your usual blundering direction, No. 3 Middle 
Temple instead of 4 Inner Temple Lane will do. 
Yours, Ch. Lamb 



May 12, 1817. 
My dear friend, — 
Before I end, 
Have you any 
More orders for Don Giovanni 
• To give 

Him that doth live 
Your faithful Zany ? 
Without raillery 
I mean Gallery 
Ones : 
For I am a person that shuns 
All ostentation 
And being at the top of the fashion : 
And seldom go to operas 
But in forma Pauperis. 

I go to the Play 
In a very economical sort of a way, 
Rather to see 
Than be seen. 
Though I 'm no ill sight 
By candle-light, 
And in some kinds of weather. 
You might pit me 

For height 
Against Kean ; 
But in a grand tragic scene 
I 'm nothing. 
It would create a kind of loathing 
To see me act Hamlet. 
There 'd be many a damn let 


At my presumption 
If I should try, 
Being a fellow of no gumption. 

By the way, tell me candidly how you relish 
This, which they call the lapidary 
Opinions vary. 
The late Mr. Mellish 
Could never abide it. 
He thought it vile, 
And coxcombical. 
My friend the Poet Laureat, 
Who is a great lawyer at 

Anything comical, 
Was the first who tried it ; 
But Mellish could never abide it. 
But it signifies very little what Mellish said, 
Because he is dead. 
For who can confute 
A body that 's mute ? 
Or who would fight 
With a senseless sprite ? 
Or think of troubling 
An impenetrable old goblin 
That 's dead and gone, 
And stiff as a stone, 
To convince him with arguments pro and con, 
As if he were some live logician 
Bred up at Merton, 
Or Mr. Hazlitt, the Metaphysician — 
Ha ! Mr. Ayrton ! 
With all your rare tone. 

For tell me how should an apparition 
List to your call, 

Though you talk'd for ever, 
Ever so clever, 
When his ear itself, 
By which he must hear, or not hear at all, 
Is laid on the shelf? 
Or put the case 
(For more grace) 
It were a female spectre — 
How could you expect her 
To take much gust 
In long speeches, 
With her tongue as dry as dust, 
In a sandy place, 
Where no peaches, 
Nor lemons, nor limes, nor oranges hang, 
To drop on the drought of an arid harangue, 
Or quench, 
With their sweet drench, 
The fiery pangs which the worms inflict, 
With their endless nibblings, 
Like quibblings, 
Which the corpse may dislike, but can ne'er contra- 
dict — 

Ha ! Mr. Ayrton 
With all your rare tone — 

I am, C. Lamb 


August 31, 18 1 7. 

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 importuned to recommend to you as a 
most worthy creature by Mr. Fenwick, a very old, 

9 1 

honest friend of mine, of whom, if my memory 
does not deceive me, you have had some know- 
ledge 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 hon- 
est 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 property 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 ? Shakespear's, I suppose — not so much 
for the poetry, as for his having once been in 
danger of leaving his country on account of cer- 
tain "small deer." 

Have you poets among you ? Damn'd pla- 
giarists, 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 an- 
swer Lord Bacon's problem, whether a nation 
of atheists can subsist together. You are prac- 
tically in one, — 

So thievish 't is, that the eighth commandment itself 
Scarce seemeth there to be. 

Our old honest world goes on with little per- 


ceptible 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 engagement. 

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 pos- 
itive hopes that I shall be able to conquer that 
inveterate habit of smoking which you may re- 
member I indulged in. I think of making a be- 
ginning this evening, viz., Sunday 31st August, 
1 8 17, not Wednesday, 2nd Feb., 1818, as it 
will be perhaps when you read this for the first 
time. There is the difficulty of writing from 
one end of the globe (hemispheres I call 'em) 
to another ! Why, half the truths I have sent 
you in this letter will become lies before they 
reach you, and some of the lies (which I have 
mixed for variety's sake, and to exercise your 
judgment in the finding of them out) may be 
turned into sad realities before you shall be called 
upon to detect them. Such are the defects of 
going by different chronologies. Your now is not 
my now; and again, your then is not my then; 
but my now may be your then, and vice versa. 
Whose head is competent to these things ? 


How does Mrs. Field get on in her geo- 
graphy? Does she know where she is by this 
time ? I am not sure sometimes you are not in 
another planet; but then I don't like to ask Capt. 
Burney, or any of those that know anything 
about it, for fear of exposing my ignorance. 

Our kindest remembrances, however, to Mrs. 
F., if she will accept of reminiscences from 
another planet, or at least another hemisphere. 

C. L. 


Londres, October, 1817. 

Dear Friends, — It is with infinite regret I 
inform you that the pleasing privilege of receiv- 
ing letters, by which I have for these twenty 
years gratified my friends and abused the liber- 
ality of the Company trading to the Orient, is 
now at an end. A cruel edict of the Directors 
has swept it away altogether. The devil sweep 
away their patronage also. Rascals who think 
nothing of sponging upon their employers for 
their venison and turtle and burgundy five days 
in a week, to the tune of five thousand pounds 
in a year, now find out that the profits of trade 
will not allow the innocent communication 
of thought between their underlings and their 
friends in distant provinces to proceed untaxed, 
thus withering up the heart of friendship and 


making the news of a friend's good health worse 
than indifferent, as tidings to be deprecated as 
bringing with it ungracious expenses. Adieu, 
gentle correspondence, kindly conveyance of soul, 
interchange of love, of opinions, of puns and 
what not ! Henceforth a friend that does not 
stand in visible or palpable distance to me, is 
nothing to me. They have not left to the bosom 
of friendship even that cheap intercourse of 
sentiment the twopenny medium. 

The upshot is, you must not direct any more 
letters through me. To me you may annually, 
or biennially, transmit a brief account of your 
goings-on [on] a single sheet, from which after 
I have deducted as much as the postage comes 
to, the remainder will be pure pleasure. But no 
more of those pretty commissions and counter 
commissions, orders and revoking of orders, ob- 
scure messages and obscurer explanations, by 
which the intellects of Marshall and Fanny used 
to be kept in a pleasing perplexity, at the mod- 
erate rate of six or seven shillings a week. In 
short, you must use me no longer as a go-be- 
tween. Henceforth I write up No Thoroughfare. 

Well, and how far is Saint Valery from Paris; 
and do you get wine and walnuts tolerable ; and 
the vintage, does it suffer from the wet ? I take 
it, the wine of this season will be all wine and 
water ; and have you any plays and green rooms, 
and Fanny Kellies to chat with of an evening ; 
and is the air purer than the old gravel pits, and 


the bread so much whiter, as they say? Lord, 
what things you see that travel ! I dare say the 
people are all French wherever you go. What 
an overwhelming effect that must have ! I have 
stood one of 'em at a time, but two I generally 
found overpowering, I used to cut and run ; but, 
then, in their own vineyards maybe they are 
endurable enough. They say marmosets in Sene- 
gambia are so pleasant as the day 's long, jumping 
and chattering in the orange twigs ; but trans- 
port 'em, one by one, over here into England, 
they turn into monkeys, some with tails, some 
without, and are obliged to be kept in cages. 

I suppose you know we 've left the Temple 
pro tempore. By the way, this conduct has caused 
strange surmises in a good lady of our acquaint- 
ance. She lately sent for a young gentleman 
of the India House, who lives opposite her, at 
Monroe's, the flute shop in Skinner Street, Snow 
Hill, — I mention no name, you shall never get 
out of me what lady I mean, — on purpose to 
ask all he knew about us. I had previously 
introduced him to her whist-table. Her inquiries 
embraced every possible thing that could be 
known of me, how I stood in the India House, 
what was the amount of my salary, what it was 
likely to be hereafter, whether I was thought to 
be clever in business, why I had taken country 
lodgings, why at Kingsland in particular, had 
I friends in that road, was anybody expected to 
visit me, did I wish for visitors, would an un- 


expected call be gratifying or not, would it be 
better if she sent beforehand, did anybody come 
to see me, was n't there a gentleman of the name 
of Morgan, did he know him, did n't he come 
to see me, did he know how Mr. Morgan lived; 
she never could make out how they were main- 
tained, was it true that he lived out of the pro- 
fits of a linendraper's shop in Bishopsgate Street 
(there she was a little right, and a little wrong 
— M. is a gentleman tobacconist) ; in short, she 
multiplied demands upon him till my friend, 
who is neither over-modest nor nervous, declared 
he quite shuddered. After laying as bare to her 
curiosity as an anatomy he trembled to think 
what she would ask next. My pursuits, inclin- 
ations, aversions, attachments (some, my dear 
friends, of a most delicate nature), she lugged 
'em out of him, or would, had he been privy 
to them, as you pluck a horse-bean from its 
iron stem, not as such tender rosebuds should 
be pulled. The fact is I am come to Kingsland, 
and that is the real truth of the matter, and 
nobody but yourselves should have extorted such 
a confession from me. 

I suppose you have seen by the papers that 
Manning is arrived in England. He expressed 
some mortifications at not finding Mrs. Kenney 
in England. He looks a good deal sunburnt, 
and is got a little reserved, but I hope it will 
wear off. You will see by the papers also that 
Dawe is knighted. He has been painting the 


Princess of Coborg and her husband. This is all 
the news I could think of. Write to us, but not 
by us, for I have near ten correspondents of this 
latter description, and one or other comes pour- 
ing in every day, till my purse strings and heart 
strings crack. Bad habits are not broken at once. 
I am sure you will excuse the apparent indeli- 
cacy of mentioning this, but dear is my shirt, 
but dearer is my skin, and it 's too late when the 
steed is stole, to shut the door. 

Well, and does Louisa grow a fine girl, is she 
likely to have her mother's complexion, and does 
Tom polish in French air — Henry I mean — 
and Kenney is not so fidgety, and you sit down 
sometimes for a quiet half-hour or so, and all is 
comfortable, no bills (that you call writs) nor 
anything else (that you are equally sure to mis- 
call) to annoy you ? Vive la gaite de coeur et la 
bell pastime, vive la beau France et revive ma 
cher Empreur. C. Lamb 


November 21, 1817. 

My dear Miss Wordsworth, — Your kind let- 
ter has given us very great pleasure, — the sight 
of your handwriting was a most welcome surprise 
to us. We have heard good tidings of you by all 
our friends who were so fortunate as to visit you 
this summer, and rejoice to see it confirmed by 


yourself. You have quite the advantage in volun- 
teering a letter. There is no merit in replying to 
so welcome a stranger. 

We have left the Temple. I think you will 
be sorry to hear this. I know I have never been 
so well satisfied with thinking of you at Rydal 
Mount as when I could connect the idea of you 
with your own Grasmere Cottage. Our rooms 
were dirty and out of repair, and the inconven- 
iences of living in chambers became every year 
more irksome, and so at last we mustered up re- 
solution enough to leave the good old place that 
so long had sheltered us ; and here we are, living 
at a brazier's shop, No. 20, in Russell Street, 
Covent Garden, a place all alive with noise and 
bustle, Drury Lane Theatre in sight from our 
front and Covent Garden from our back windows. 
The hubbub of the carriages returning from the 
play does not annoy me in the least — strange 
that it does not, for it is quite tremendous. I 
quite enjoy looking out of the window and lis- 
tening to the calling up of the carriages and the 
squabbles of the coachmen and linkboys. It is 
the oddest scene to look down upon ; I am sure 
you would be amused with it. It is well I am in 
a chearful place or I should have many misgiv- 
ings about leaving the Temple. 

I look forward with great pleasure to the pro- 
spect of seeing my good friend Miss Hutchinson. 
I wish Rydal Mount with all its inhabitants 
enclosed were to be transplanted with her and to 


remain stationary in the midst of Covent Gar- 
den. I passed through the street lately where 
Mr. and Mrs. Wordsworth lodged ; several fine 
new houses, which were then just rising out of 
the ground, are quite finished and a noble entrance 
made that way into Portland Place. 

I am very sorry for Mr. De Quincey ; what 
a blunder the poor man made when he took up 
his dwelling among the mountains ! I long to 
see my friend Pypos. Coleridge is still at Little 
Hampton with Mrs. Gilman ; he has been so ill 
as to be confined to his room almost the whole 
time he has been there. 

Charles has had all his Hogarths bound in a 
book ; they were sent home yesterday, and now 
that I have them all together, and perceive the 
advantage of peeping close at them through my 
spectacles, I am reconciled to the loss of them 
hanging round the room, which has been a great 
mortification to me. In vain I tried to console 
myself with looking at our new chairs and car- 
pets, for we have got new chairs, and carpets 
covering all over our two sitting-rooms; I missed 
my old friends and could not be comforted; then 
I would resolve to learn to look out of the win- 
dow, a habit I never could attain in my life, and 
I have given it up as a thing quite impracticable; 
yet when I was at Brighton last summer, the first 
week I never took my eyes off from the sea, not 
even to look in a book. I had not seen the sea 
for sixteen years. Mrs. Morgan, who was with 


us, kept her liking, and continued her seat in the 
window till the very last, while Charles and I 
played truant and wandered among the hills, 
which we magnified into little mountains and 
almost as good as Westmoreland scenery. Cer- 
tainly we made discoveries of many pleasant 
walks which few of the Brighton visitors have 
ever dreamed of; for like as is the case in the 
neighbourhood of London, after the first two 
or three miles we were sure to find ourselves in 
a perfect solitude. I hope we shall meet before 
the walking faculties of either of us fail. You 
say you can walk fifteen miles with ease, — that 
is exactly my stint, and more fatigues me ; four 
or five miles every third or fourth day, keeping 
very quiet between, was all Mrs. Morgan could 

God bless you and yours. Love to all and each 
one. I am ever yours most affectionately, 

M. Lamb 

[Charles Lamb adds the following note :] 
Dear Miss Wordsworth, — Here we are, trans- 
planted from our native soil. I thought we never 
could have been torn up from the Temple. In- 
deed it was an ugly wrench, but like a tooth, 
now 'tis out and I am easy. We never can strike 
root so deep in any other ground. This, where 
we are, is a light bit of gardener's mold, and if 
they take us up from it, it will cost no blood and 
groans like mandrakes pull'd up. We are in the 


individual spot I like best in all this great city. 
The theatres with all their noises, — Covent 
Garden, dearer to me than any gardens of Alci- 
noiis, where we are morally sure of the earliest 
peas and 'sparagus. Bow Street, where the thieves 
are examined, within a few yards of us. Mary 
had not been here four-and-twenty hours before 
she saw a thief. She sits at the window work- 
ing ; and casually throwing out her eyes, she sees 
a concourse of people coming this way, with 
a constable to conduct the solemnity. These 
little incidents agreeably diversify a female life. 
It is a delicate subject, but is Mr. * * * really 
married ? and has he found a gargle to his mind ? 
Oh how funny he did talk to me about her, in 
terms of such mild quiet whispering speculative 
profligacy. But did the animalcule and she crawl 
over the rubric together, or did they not ? 

Mary has brought her part of this letter to an 
orthodox and loving conclusion, which is very 
well, for I have no room for pansies and remem- 
brances. What a nice holyday I got on Wednes- 
day by favour of a princess dying. \A line and 
signature cut away.] 


November 25, 181 7. 

Dear A., — We keep our Thursday (which is 
become a moveable feast) this evening, viz., 
Tuesday. We need not say that your company 


will be most acceptable. If you can persuade 
Mrs. A. to accompany you, my sister begs me to 
say we shall consider the obligation double. 
Yours truly, C. L. 

N. B. Is not the above rather neatly worded ? 
above my usual cut, I mean. It strikes me so. 


December 10, 1817. 

Dear J. P. C, — I know how zealously you feel 
for our friend S. T. Coleridge ; and I know that 
you and your family attended his lectures four 
or five years ago. He is in bad health and worse 
mind : and unless something is done to lighten 
his mind he will soon be reduced to his extrem- 
ities; and even these are not in the best con- 
dition. I am sure that you will do for him what 
you can ; but at present he seems in a mood to 
do for himself. He projects a new course, not of 
physic, nor of metaphysic, nor a new course 
of life, but a new course of lectures on Shakspear 
and Poetry. There is no man better qualified 
(always excepting number one) ; but I am pre- 
engaged for a series of dissertations on India and 
India-pendence, to be completed at the expense 
of the Company, in I know not (yet) how many 
volumes foolscap folio. 

I am busy getting up my Hindoo mythology ; 
and for the purpose I am once more enduring 


Southey's Curse \ofKehamd\ . To be serious, Cole- 
ridge's state and affairs make me so ; and there 
are particular reasons just now, and have been 
any time for the last twenty years, why he should 
succeed. He will do so with a little encourage- 
ment. I have not seen him lately; and he does 
not know that I am writing. 

Yours (for Coleridge's sake) in haste, 

C. Lamb 


December [26], 1817. 

My dear Haydon, — I will come with pleas- 
ure to 22 Lisson Grove North, at Rossi's, half- 
way up, right-hand side — if I can find it. 

Yours, C. Lamb 


February 18, 18 18. 

My dear Mrs. Wordsworth, — I have repeat- 
edly taken pen in hand to answer your kind letter. 
My sister should more properly have done it, but 
she having failed, I consider myself answerable 
for her debts. I am now trying to do it in the 
midst of commercial noises, and with a quill 
which seems more ready to glide into arithmet- 
ical figures and names of goods, cassia, carda- 


moms, aloes, ginger, tea, than into kindly re- 
sponses and friendly recollections. 

The reason why I cannot write letters at home 
is, that I am never alone. Plato's (I write to W. 
W. now) — Plato's double animal parted never 
longed more to be reciprocally reunited in the 
system of its first creation, than I sometimes do 
to be but for a moment single and separate. Ex- 
cept my morning's walk to the office, — which 
is like treading on sands of gold for that reason, 
— I am never so. I cannot walk home from office 
but some officious friend offers his damn'd un- 
welcome courtesies to accompany me. All the 
morning I am pestered. I could sit and gravely 
cast up sums in great books, or compare sum 
with sum, and write " paid " against this and 
"unpaid" against t'other, and yet reserve in some 
" corner of my mind " some darling thoughts 
all my own ; faint memory of some passage in 
a book, or the tone of an absent friend's voice ; 
a snatch of Miss Burrell's singing ; a gleam of 
Fanny Kelly's divine plain face. The two oper- 
ations might be going on at the same time with- 
out thwarting, as the sun's two motions (earth's 
I mean), or as I sometimes turn round till I am 
giddy, in my back parlour, while my sister is 
walking longitudinally in the front — or as the 
shoulder of veal twists round with the spit, while 
the smoke wreathes up the chimney ; but there 
are a set of amateurs of the Belles Lettres — the 
gay science — who come to me as a sort of ren- 


dezvous, putting questions of criticism, of British 
Institutions, Lalla Rookhs, &c, what Coleridge 
said at the lecture last night — who have the 
form of reading men, but, for any possible use 
reading can be to them but to talk of, might as 
well have been Ante-Cadmeans born, or have 
lain sucking out the sense of an Egyptian hiero- 
glyph as long as the pyramids will last before 
they should find it. These pests worrit me at 
business and in all its intervals, perplexing my 
accounts, poisoning my little salutary warming- 
time at the fire, puzzling my paragraphs if I take 
a newspaper, cramming in between my own 
free thoughts and a column of figures which had 
come to an amicable compromise but for therm 
Their noise ended, one of them, as I said, ac- 
companys me home lest I should be solitary for 
a moment ; he at length takes his welcome leave 
at the door, up I go, mutton on table, hungry 
as hunter, hope to forget my cares and bury them 
in the agreeable abstraction of mastication, — 
knock at the door, in comes Mrs. Hazlitt, or M. 
Burney, or Morgan, or Demogorgon, or my bro- 
ther, or somebody, to prevent my eating alone, a 
process absolutely necessary to my poor wretched 
digestion. O the pleasure of eating alone ! — 
eating my dinner alone ! let me think of it. But 
in they come, and make it absolutely necessary 
that I should open a bottle of orange — for my 
meat turns into stone when any one dines with 
me, if I have not wine — wine can mollify stones. 


Then that wine turns into acidity, acerbity, mis- 
anthropy, a hatred of my interrupters (God bless 
'em! I love some of 'em dearly), and with the 
hatred a still greater aversion to their going away. 
Bad is the dead sea they bring upon me, choaking 
and death-doing, but worse is the deader dry 
sand they leave me on if they go before bedtime. 
Come never, I would say to these spoilers of my 
dinner; but if you come, never go. The fact is, 
this interruption does not happen very often, but 
every time it comes by surprise that present bane 
of my life, orange wine, with all its dreary stifling 
consequences, follows. Evening company I should 
always like had I any mornings, but I am satur- 
ated with human faces [divine forsooth !) and 
voices all the golden morning, and five evenings 
in a week would be as much as I should covet 
to be in company, but I assure you that is a won- 
derful week in which I can get two, or one, to 
myself. I am never C. L. but always C. L. and 

He, who thought it not good for man to be 
alone, preserve me from the more prodigious 
monstrosity of being never by myself. I forget 
bedtime, but even there these sociable frogs clam- 
ber up to annoy me. Once a week, generally 
some singular evening that, being alone, I go to 
bed at the hour I ought always to be abed, just 
close to my bedroom window is the club room 
of a public house, where a set of singers, I take 
them to be chorus-singers of the two theatres (it 


must be both of thetn), begin their orgies. They 

are a set of fellows (as I conceive) who being 

limited by their talents to the burthen of the 

song at the play-houses, in revenge have got the 

common popular airs by Bishop or some cheap 

composer arranged for choruses, that is, to be 

sung all in chorus. At least I never can catch 

any of the text of the plain song, nothing but 

the Babylonish choral howl at the tail on 't. 

" That fury being quench'd" — the howl I mean 

— a curseder burden succeeds, of shouts and 

clapping and knocking of the table. At length 

overtasked nature drops under it, and escapes for 

a few hours into the society of the sweet silent 

creatures of dreams, which go away with mocks 

and mows at cockcrow. And then I think of 

the words Christabel's father used (bless me, I 

have dipt in the wrong ink) to say every morning 

by way of variety when he awoke, — 

Every knell, the Baron saith, 
Wakes us up to a world of death, — 

or something like it. 

All I mean by this senseless interrupted tale 
is, that by my central situation I am a little over 
companied. Not that I have any animosity against 
the good creatures that are so anxious to drive 
away the harpy solitude from me. I like 'em, 
and cards, and a chearful glass, but I mean merely 
to give you an idea between office confinement 
and after-office society, — how little time I can 
call my own. I mean only to draw a picture, not 

1 08 

to make an inference. I would not that I know 
of have it otherwise. I only wish sometimes I 
could exchange some of my faces and voices for 
the faces and voices which a late visitation brought 
most welcome and carried away leaving regret, 
but more pleasure, even a kind of gratitude, at 
being so often favoured with that kind northern 
visitation. My London faces and noises don't 
hear me — I mean no disrespect — or I should 
explain myself that instead of their return 220 
times a year and the return of W. W. &c. seven 
times in 1 04 weeks, some more equal distribu- 
tion might be found. I have scarce room to put 
in Mary's kind love and my poor name, 

Ch. Lamb 

This to be read last : W. H. goes on lectur- 
ing against W. W. and making copious use of 
quotations from said W. W. to give a zest to 
said lectures. S. T. C. is lecturing with success. 
I have not heard either him or H., but I dined 
with S. T. C. at Gilman's a Sunday or two since 
and he was well and in good spirits. I mean to 
hear some of the course, but lectures are not much 
to my taste, whatever the lecturer may be. If 
read, they are dismal flat, and you can't think 
why you are brought together to hear a man read 
his works which you could read so much better 
at leisure yourself; if delivered extempore, I am 
always in pain lest the gift of utterance should 
suddenly fail the orator in the middle, as it did 


me at the dinner given in honour of me at the 
London Tavern. " Gentlemen," said I, and there 
I stopt, — the rest my feelings were under the 
necessity of supplying. Mrs. Wordsworth will 
go on, kindly haunting us with visions of seeing 
the lakes once more which never can be realized. 
Between us there is a great gulf — not of inex- 
plicable moral antipathies and distances, I hope 
(as there seem'd to be between me and that gen- 
tleman concern'd in the Stamp Office that I so 
strangely coiled up from at Hay don's). I think 
I had an instinct that he was the head of an office. 
I hate all such people — accountants, deputy ac- 
countants. The dear abstract notion of the East 
India Company, as long as she is unseen, is pretty, 
rather poetical ; but as she makes herself manifest 
by the persons of such beasts, I loathe and detest 
her as the scarlet what-do-you-call-her of Baby- 
lon. I thought, after abridging us of all our red- 
letter days, they had done their worst, but I was 
deceived in the length to which heads of offices, 
those true liberty-haters, can go. They are the 
tyrants, not Ferdinand, nor Nero — by a decree 
past this week, they have abridged us of the 
immemorially-observed custom of going at one 
o'clock of a Saturday, the little shadow of a 
holiday left us. Blast them. I speak it soberly. 
Dear W. W., be thankful for your liberty. 

We have spent two very pleasant evenings 
lately with Mr. Monkhouse. 

1 10 


May 28, 1818. 

Dear Sir, — The last sheet is finished. All 
that remains is the Title page and the Contents, 
which should be uniform with volume one. 
Will you be kind enough to see it? There is a 
sonnet to come in by way of dedication. I have 
not the sheet, so I cannot make out the Table 
of Contents, but it may be done from the vari- 
ous essays, letters, &c, by you, or the printer, 
as thus. \Here follows a rough sketch of the 'writer s 
plan.] Yours in haste, C. Lamb 

Let me see the last proof, sonnet, &c. 


June 18, 1818. 

Dear Sir (whichever opens it), — I am going 
off to Birmingham. I find my books, whatever 
faculty of selling they may have (I wish they 
had more for \'°"\ sake), are admirably adapted 
for giving away. You have been bounteous. Six 
more and I shall have satisfied all just claims. 
Am I taking too great a liberty in begging you 
to send four as follows, and reserve two for me 
when I come home? That will make thirty-one. 
Thirty-one times twelve is 372 shillings — 

1 1 1 

eighteen pounds twelve shillings ! ! ! — but here 
are my friends, to whom, if you could transmit 
them, as I shall be away a month, you will 
greatly oblige the obliged, 

C. Lamb 

Mr. Ayrton, James Street, Buckingham Gate ; 

Mr. Alsager, Suffolk Street East, Southwark, 
by Horsemonger Lane; 

and in one parcel directed to R. Southey, Esq. 
Keswick, Cumberland; 

one for R. S. ; and one for W m . Wordsworth, 
Esq r . 
If you will be kind enough simply to write 
"from the Author" in all four, you will still 
further, etc. — 

Either Longman or Murray is in the frequent 
habit of sending books to Southey, and will take 
charge of the parcel. It will be as well to write 
in at the beginning thus : 

R. Southey, Esq., from the Author. 

W. Wordsworth, Esq., from the Author. 
Then, if I can find the remaining two, left for 
me at Russell Street when I return, rather than 
encroach any more on the heap, I will engage 
to make no more new friends ad infinitum, your- 
selves being the last. 

Yours truly, C. L. 

I think Southey will give us a lift in that 
damn'd Quarterly. I meditate an attack upon 

I 12 

that Cobbler GifFord, which shall appear im- 
mediately after any favourable mention which S. 
may make in the Quarterly. It can't, in decent 
gratitude, appear before. 


October 26, 18 18. 

Dear Southey, — I am pleased with your 
friendly remembrances of my little things. I do 
not know whether I have done a silly thing or 
a wise one ; but it is of no great consequence. I 
run no risk, and care for no censures. My bread 
and cheese is stable as the foundations of Lead- 
enhall Street, and if it hold out as long as the 
" foundations of our empire in the East," I shall 
do pretty well. You and W. W. should have 
had your presentation copies more ceremoniously 
sent ; but I had no copies when I was leaving 
town for my holidays, and rather than delay, 
commissioned my bookseller to send them thus 
nakedly. By not hearing from W. W. or you, I 
began to be afraid Murray had not sent them. 

I do not see S. T. C. so often as I could wish. 
He never comes to me ; and though his host and 
hostess are very friendly, it puts me out of my 
way to go see one person at another person's 
house. It was the same when he resided at 
Morgan's. Not but they also were more than 
civil ; but after all one feels so welcome at one's 
own house. 


Have you seen poor Miss Betham's Vignettes ? 
Some of them, the second particularly, To Lucy, 
are sweet and good as herself, while she was her- 
self. She is in some measure abroad again. I am 
better than I deserve to be. The hot weather has 
been such a treat ! Mary joins in this little cor- 
ner in kindest remembrances to you all. 

C. L. 


December 24, 1818. 

My dear Coleridge, — I have been in a state 
of incessant hurry ever since the receipt of your 
ticket. It found me incapable of attending you, 
it being the night of Kenney's new comedy, 
which has utterly failed. You know my local 
aptitudes at such a time ; I have been a thorough 
rendezvous for all consultations. My head begins 
to clear up a little ; but it has had bells in it. 
Thank you kindly for your ticket, though the 
mournful prognostic which accompanies it 
certainly renders its permanent pretensions less 
marketable ; but I trust to hear many a course 
yet. You excepted Christmas week, by which 
I understood next week ; I thought Christmas 
week was that which Christmas Sunday ushered 

We are sorry it never lies in your way to come 
to us ; but, dear Mahomet, we will come to you. 
Will it be convenient to all the good people at 


Highgate, if we take a stage up, not next Sunday, 
but the following, viz., 3rd January, 1 8 1 9 ; shall 
we be too late to catch a skirt of the old out- 
goer ? How the years crumble from under us ! 
We shall hope to see you before then ; but, if not, 
let us know if then will be convenient. Can we 
secure a coach home ? 

Believe me ever yours, C. Lamb 

I have but one holiday, which is Christmas- 
day itself nakedly : no pretty garnish and fringes 
of St. John's day, Holy Innocents &c, that used 
to bestud it all around in the calendar. Improbe 
labor ! I write six hours every day in the candle- 
light fog-den at Leadheall. 



Dear C, — I steal a few minutes from a pain- 
ful and laborious avocation, aggravated by the 
absence of some that should assist me, to say how 
extremely happy we should be to see you return 
clean as the cripple out of the pool ofBethesda. 
That damn'd scorbutic — how came you by it ? 
You are now fairly a damaged lot ; as Venn 
would say, One Scratched. You might play Scrub 
in the Beaux' Stratagem. The best post your 
friends could promote you to would be a scrub- 
bing post. " Aye, there 's the rub." I generally 
get tired after the third rubber. But you, I sup- 


pose, tire twice the number every day. First, 
there 's your mother, she begins after breakfast ; 
then your little sister takes it up about luncheon- 
time, till her bones crack, and some kind neigh- 
bour comes in to lend a hand, scrub, scrub, scrub, 
and nothing will get the intolerable itch (for I 
am persuaded it is the itch) out of your penance- 
doing bones. A cursed thing just at this time, 
when everybody wants to get out of town as well 
as yourself. Of course, I don't mean to reproach 
you. You can't help it, the whoreson tingling in 
your blood. I dare say you would if you could. 
But don't you think you could do a little work, 

if you came ? as much as D does before 

twelve o'clock. Hang him, there he sits at that 
cursed Times — and latterly he has had the Berk- 
shire Chronicle sent him every Tuesday and Fri- 
day to get at the county news. Why, that letter 
which you favoured him with, appears to me to 
be very well and clearly written. The man that 
wrote that might make out warrants, or write 
committees. There was as much in quantity 
written as would have filled four volumes of the 
indigo appendix; and when we are so busy as we 
are, every little helps. But I throw out these 
observations merely as innuendos. By the way 
there 's a Doctor Lamert in Leadenhall Street, 
who sells a mixture to purify the blood. No. 114 
Leadenhall Street, near the market. But it is 
necessary that his patients should be on the spot, 
that he may see them every day. 


There 's a sale of indigo advertised for July, 
forty thousand lots — 1 0,000 chests only, but they 
sell them in quarter chests which makes 40,000. 
By the bye a droll accident happened here on 
Thursday. Wadd and Plumley got quarrelling 
about a kneebuckle of Hyde's which the latter 
affirmed not to be standard ; Wadd was nettled at 
this, and said something reflecting on tradesmen 
and shopkeepers, and Plumley struck him. Friend 
is married ; he has married a Roman Catholic, 
which has offended his family, but they have 
come to an agreement, that the boys (if they 
have children) shall be bred up in the father's 
religion, and the girls in the mother's, which I 
think equitable enough. I am determined my 
children shall be brought up in their father's 
religion, if they can find out what it is. Bye is 
about publishing a volume of poems which 
he means to dedicate to Matthie. Methinks he 
might have found a better Mecasnas. They 
are chiefly amatory, others of them stupid, the 
greater part very far below mediocrity ; but 
they discover much tender feeling ; they are 
most like Petrarch of any foreign poet, or what 
we might have supposed Petrarch would have 
written if Petrarch had been born a fool ! 

Grinwallows is made master of the cere- 
monies at Dandelion, near Margate ; of course he 
gives up the office. " My Harry" makes so many 
faces that it is impossible to sit opposite him with- 
out smiling. Dowley danced a quadrille at Court 


on the Queen's birthday with Lady Thynne, 
Lady Desbrow, and Lady Louisa Manners. It is 
said his performance was graceful and airy. Cabel 
has taken an unaccountable fancy into his head 
that he is Fuller, member for Sussex. He imi- 
tates his blunt way of speaking. I remain much 
the same as you remember, very universally be- 
loved and esteemed, possessing everybody's good- 
will, and trying at least to deserve it ; the same 
steady adherence to principle, and correct regard 
for truth, which always marked my conduct, 
marks it still. If I am singular in anything it is 
in too great a squeamishness to anything that 
remotely looks like a falsehood. I am call'd Old 
Honesty ; sometimes Upright Telltruth, Esq., 
and I own it tickles my vanity a little. The 
committee have formally abolish'd all holydays 
whatsoever — for which may the devil, who 
keeps no holydays, have them in his eternal burn- 
ing workshop. When I say holydays, I mean 
calendar holydays, for at Medley's instigation 
they have agreed to a sort of scale by which the 
chief has power to give leave of absence, viz. : 
Those who have been 50 years and upwards 

to be absent 4 days in the year, but not 

without leave of the chief. 

35 years and upward, 3 days, 
25 years and upward, 2 days, 
1 8 years and upward, 1 day, 
which I think very liberal. We are also to sign 
our name when we go as well as when we come, 


and every quarter of an hour we sign, to show 
that we are here. Mins and Gardner take it in 
turn to bring round the book — O here is Mins 
with the Book — no, it 's Gardner — " What 's 
that, G. ? " " The appearance book, Sir " (with 
a gentle inclination of his head, and smiling). 
" What the devil, is the quarter come again ? " 
It annoys Dodwell amazingly; he sometimes has 
to sign six or seven times while he is reading the 
newspaper — [Unfinished.] 


April 26, 1 819. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I received a copy of 
Peter Bell a week ago, and I hope the author 
will not be offended if I say I do not much rel- 
ish it. The humour, if it is meant for humour, 
is forced, and then the price. Sixpence would 
have been dear for it. Mind, I do not mean your 
" Peter Bell," but a " Peter Bell " which pre- 
ceded it about a week, and is in every booksell- 
er's shop window in London, the type and paper 
nothing differing from the true one, the preface 
signed W. W., and the supplementary preface 
quoting as the author's words an extract from 
supplementary preface to the Lyrical Ballads. Is 
there no law against these rascals ? I would have 
this Lambert Simnel whipt at the cart's tail. 
Then there is Rogers ! he has been re-writing 
your Poem of the Strid, and publishing it at the 


end of his Human Life. Tie him up to the cart, 
hangman, while you are about it. Who started 
the spurious P. B., I have not heard. I should 
guess, one of the sneering brothers — the vile 
Smiths — but I have heard no name mentioned. 
Peter Bell (not the mock one) is excellent. For 
its matter, I mean. I cannot say that the style 
of it quite satisfies me. It is too lyrical. The 
auditors to whom it is feigned to be told, do 
not arride me. I had rather it had been told me, 
the reader, at once. 

Heartleap Well is the tale for me, in matter 
as good as this, in manner infinitely before it, in 
my poor judgment. Why did you not add The 
Waggoner ? Have I thanked you, though, yet, for 
Peter Bell? I would not not have it for a good deal 

of money. C is very foolish to scribble 

about books. Neither his tongue nor fingers are 
very retentive. But I shall not say anything to 
him about it. He would only begin a very long 
story, with a very long face, and I see him far too 
seldom to tease him with affairs of business or 
conscience when I do see him. He never comes 
near our house, and when we go to see him, he 
is generally writing, or thinking he is writing, in 
his study till the dinner comes, and that is scarce 
over before the stage summons us away. 

The mock P. B. had only this effect on me, 
that after twice reading it over in hopes to find 
something diverting in it, I reach'd your two 
books off the shelf and set into a steady reading 


of them, till I had nearly finished both before 
I went to bed. The two of your last edition, of 
course, I mean. And in the morning I awoke 
determining to take down the Excursion. I wish 
the scoundrel imitator could know this. But why 
waste a wish on him ? I do not believe that pad- 
dling about with a stick in a pond and fishing 
up a dead author whom his intolerable wrongs 
had driven to that deed of desperation, would turn 
the heart of one of these obtuse literary Bells. 
There is no Cock for such Peters. Damn 'em. I 
am glad this aspiration came upon the red ink line. 
[This letter is written in red and black ink, alternat- 
ing with' each line.] It is more of a bloody curse. 
I have delivered over your other presents to 
Alsager and G. D. — A. I am sure will value it 
and be proud of the hand from which it came. 
To G. D. a poem is a poem. His own as good 
as any bodie's, and God bless him, any bodie 's as 
good as his own, for I do not think he has the 
most distant guess of the possibility of one poem 
being better than another. The gods by deny- 
ing him the very faculty itself of discrimination 
have effectually cut off every seed of envy in his 
bosom. But with envy, they excided curiosity 
also, and if you wish the copy again, which you 
destined for him, I think I shall be able to find 
it again for you — on his third shelf, where he 
stuffs his presentation copies, uncut, in shape 
and matter resembling a lump of dry dust, but 
on carefully removing that stratum, a thing like 


a pamphlet will emerge. I have tried this with 
fifty different poetical works that have been given 
G. D. in return for as many of his own perform- 
ances, and I confess I never had any scruple in 
taking my own again wherever I found it, shaking 
the adherences off — and by this means one copy 
of" my works " served for G. D. and with a little 
dusting was made over to my good friend Dr. 
Stoddart, who little thought whose leavings he 
was taking when he made me that graceful bow. 
By the way, the Doctor is the only one of my 
acquaintance who bows gracefully, my town ac- 
quaintance I mean. 

How do you like my way of writing with two 
inks ? I think it is pretty and motley. Suppose 
Mrs. W. adopts it, the next time she holds the 
pen for you. 

My dinner waits. I have no time to indulge 
any longer in these laborious curiosities. God 
bless you and cause to thrive and to burgeon 
whatsoever you write, and fear no inks of miser- 
able poetasters. Yours truly, 

Charles Lamb 

Mary's love. 


May 21, 1819. 

Dear Rickman, — The gentleman who will 
present this letter holds a situation of considerable 
importance in the East India House, and is my 


very good friend. He is desirous of knowing 
whether it is too late to amend a mere error in 
figures which he has just discovered in an account 
made out by him and laid before the house yes- 
terday. He will best explain to you what he 
means, and I am sure you will help him to the 
best of your power. Phillips is too ill for me to 
think of applying to him. 

Why did we not see you last night ? 

Yours truly, Charles Lamb 


May 28, 1819. 

My dear M., — I want to know how your 
brother is, if you have heard lately. I want to 
know about you. I wish you were nearer. C. 
Lloyd is in town with Mrs. Ll[oyd], anxious of 
course to see you. She is come for a few days, 
and projects leaving him here in the care of a 
man. I fear he will launch out, and heartily wish 
the scene of his possible exploits were at a remoter 
distance. But she does not know what to do with 
him. He run away the other day to come to 
London alone, but was intercepted, and now she 
has brought him. I wish people wouldn't be 
mad. Could you take a run up to look at him ? 
Would you like to see him? or isn't it better to 
lean over a style [stile] in a sort of careless, easy, 
half astronomical position, eyeing the blue ex- 
panse ? How are my cousins, the Gladmans of 


Wheathamstead, and farmer Bruton ? Mrs. Bru- 
ton is a glorious woman. 

Hail, Mackeray End — 

This is a fragment of a blank verse poem which 
I once meditated, but got no further. The E. 
I. H. has been thrown into a quandary by the 
strange phenomenon of poor Tommy Bye, whom 
I have known man and madman twenty-seven 
years, he being elder here than myself by nine 
years and more. He was always a pleasant, gos- 
siping, half-headed, muzzy, dozing, dreaming, 
walk-about, inoffensive chap ; a little too fond of 
the creature — who isn't at times ? but Tommy 
had not brains to work off an over-night's surfeit 
by ten o'clock next morning, and unfortunately, 
in he wandered the other morning drunk with 
last night, and with a superfoetation of drink 
taken in since he set out from bed. He came 
staggering under his double burthen, like trees 
in Java, bearing at once blossom, fruit, and falling 
fruit, as I have heard you or some other traveller 
tell, with his face literally as blue as the bluest 
firmament; some wretched calico that he had 
mopped his poor oozy front with had rendered 
up its native dye, and the devil a bit would he 
consent to wash it, but swore it was characteristic, 
for he was going to the sale of indigo, and set up 
a laugh which I did not think the lungs of mortal 
man were competent to. It was like a thousand 
people laughing, or the goblin page. He imag- 


ined afterwards that the whole office had been 
laughing at him, so strange did his own sounds 
strike upon his nonsensorium. But Tommy has 
laughed his last laugh, and awoke the next day 
to find himself reduced from an abused income 
of j£6oo per annum to one-sixth of the sum, 
after thirty-six years' tolerable good service. 
The quality of mercy was not strain'd in his be- 
half; the gentle dews dropt not on him from 

It just came across me that I was writing to 

Canton. How is Ball ? " Mr. B. is a P ." 

Will you drop in to-morrow night ? Fanny 
K[elly] is coming, if she does not cheat us. Mrs. 
Gold is well, but proves "uncoined" as the lovers 
about Wheathampstead would say. 

O hard-hearted Burrel 
With teeth like a squirrell — 

I have not had such a quiet half hour to sit 
down to a quiet letter for many years. I have 
not been interrupted above four times. I wrote 
a letter the other day in alternate lines, black ink 
and red, and you cannot think how it chilled the 
flow of ideas. Next Monday is Whitmonday. 
What a reflexion ! Twelve years ago, and I 
should have kept that and the following holy- 
day in the fields a-Maying. All of those pretty 
pastoral delights are over. This dead, everlasting 
dead desk — how it weighs the spirit of a gen- 
tleman down ! This dead wood of the desk 
instead of your living trees ! But then, again, 

I2 5 

I hate the Joskins, a name for Hertfordshire bump- 
kins. Each state of life has its inconvenience ; 
but then, again, mine has more than one. Not 
that I repine, or grudge, or murmur at my de- 
stiny. I have meat and drink, and decent apparel ; 
I shall, at least, when I get a new hat. 

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


June 7, 1819. 

My dear Wordsworth, — You cannot imagine 
how proud we are here of the dedication. We 
read it twice for once that we do the poem. I 
mean all through ; yet Benjamin is no common 
favourite ; there is a spirit of beautiful tolerance 
in it. It is as good as it was in 1806; and will 
be as good in 1829, if our dim eyes shall be 
awake to peruse it. 

Methinks there is a kind of shadowing affinity 
between the subject of the narrative and the sub- 
ject of the dedication ; but I will not enter into 
personal themes ; else, substituting ******* 
• [Charles Lamb] for Ben, and the Honour- 

able United Company of Merchants trading to 
the East Indies, for the master of the misused 
team, it might seem by no far-fetched analogy 
to point its dim warnings hitherward ; but I re- 
ject the omen, especially as its import seems to 
have been diverted to another victim. 

Poor Tommy Bye, whom I have known (as 
I express'd it in a letter to Manning), man and 
madman twenty-seven years — he was my gossip 
in Leadenhall Street — but too much addicted 
to turn in at a red lattice — came wandering 
into his and my common scene of business — you 
have seen the orderly place — reeling drunk at 
nine o'clock — with his face of a deep blue, con- 
tracted by a filthy dowlas muckinger which had 
given up its dye to his poor oozy visnomy — and 
short to tell, after playing various pranks, laugh- 
ing loud laughters three — mad explosions they 
were — in the following morning the " tear stood 
in his ee" — for he found his abused income of 
clear j[6oo inexorably reduced to ^ioo — he 
was my dear gossip — alas ! Benjamin ! 

I will never write another letter with alternate 
inks. You cannot imagine how it cramps the 
flow of the style. I can conceive Pindar (I do 
not mean to compare myself to him), by the 
command of Hiero, the Sicilian tyrant (was not 
he the tyrant of some place ? fie on my neglect 
of history !) I can conceive him by command of 
Hiero, or Perillus, set down to pen an Isthmian 
or Nemean Panegyre in lines alternate red and 


black. I maintain he could n't have done it ; it 
would have been a strait-laced torture to his 
muse, he would have call'd for the bull for a 
relief. Neither could Lycidas, or the Chorics 
(how do you like the word ?) of Samson Ago- 
nistes, have been written with two inks. 

Your couplets with points, epilogues to Mr. 
H.'s, &c, might be even benefited by the twy- 
fount, where one line (the second) is for point, 
and the first for rhyme, I think the alternation 
would assist, like a mould. I maintain it, you 
could not have written your stanzas on pre-exist- 
ence with two inks. Try another, and Rogers 
the banker, with his silver standish having one 
ink only, I will bet my Ode on Tobacco, against 
the Pleasures of Memory — and Hope too — shall 
put more fervour of enthusiasm into the same 
subject than you can with your two ; he shall 
do it stans pede in uno, as it were. 

The Waggoner is very ill put up in boards, at 
least it seems to me always to open at the dedi- 
cation ; but that is a mechanical fault. 

I re-read the White Doe of Rylston — the title 
should be always written at length, as Mary 
Sabilla Novello, a very nice woman of our ac- 
quaintance, always signs hers at the bottom of 
the shortest note. Mary told her, if her name 
had been Mary Ann, she would have signed M. 
A. Novello, or M. only, dropping the A.; which 
makes me think, with some other triflings, that 
she understands something of human nature. 


My pen goes galloping on most rhapsodically, 
glad to have escaped the bondage of two inks. 

Manning had just sent it home and it came as 
fresh to me as the immortal creature it speaks of. 
M. sent it home with a note, having this passage 
in it, " I cannot help writing to you while I am 
reading Wordsworth's poem. I am got into the 
third canto, and say that it raises my opinion 
of him very much indeed.* 'T is broad, noble, 
poetical, with a masterly scanning of human 
actions, absolutely above common readers. What 
a manly (implied) interpretation of (bad) party- 
actions, as trampling the Bible, &c." — and so 
he goes on. 

* N. B. M from his peregrinations is 

twelve or fourteen years behind in his know- 
ledge of who has or has not written good verse 
of late. 

I do not know which I like best, the prologue 
(the latter part specially) to P. Bell, or the epi- 
logue to Benjamin. Yes, I tell stories, I do know. 
I like the last best, and the Waggoner altogether 
as a pleasanter remembrance to me than the 
Itinerant. If it were not, the page before the first 
page would and ought to make it so. 

The sonnets are not all new to me. Of what 
are, the ninth I like best. Thank you for that 
to Walton. I take it as a favour done to me, 
that, being so old a darling of mine, you should 
bear testimony to his worth in a book containing 

a dedi 


I cannot write the vain word at full length 
any longer. 

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

Had I three inks I would invoke him ! 

Talfourd has written a most kind review of 
J. Woodvil, &c, in the Champion. He is your 
most zealous admirer, in solitude and in crowds. 
H. Crabbe Robinson gives me any dear prints 
that I happen to admire, and I love him for it 
and for other things. Alsager shall have his 
copy, but at present I have lent it for a day only, 
not chusing to part with my own. Mary's love. 
How do you all do, amanuenses both — marital 
and sororal ? C. Lamb 


[Wordsworth had just brought out The Waggoner, which 
was dedicated to Lamb. — Ed.] 


July 20, 1 819. 

Dear Miss Kelly, — We had the pleasure (pain, 
I might better call it) of seeing you last night in 
the new play. It was a most consummate piece 
of acting, but what a task for you to undergo ! 
at a time when your heart is sore from real sor- 
row ! it has given rise to a train of thinking, which 
I cannot suppress. 


Would to God you were released from this 
way of life ; that you could bring your mind to 
consent to take your lot with us, and throw off 
for ever the whole burden of your profession. I 
neither expect or wish you to take notice of this 
which lam writing, in your present over-occupied 
and hurried state; but to think of itat your leisure. 
I have quite income enough, if that were all, to 
justify me for making such a proposal, with what 
I may call even a handsome provision for my sur- 
vivor. What you possess of your own would nat- 
urally be appropriated to those for whose sakes 
chiefly you have made so many hard sacrifices. 
I am not so foolish as not to know that I am a 
most unworthy match for such a one as you, but 
you have for years been a principal object in my 
mind. In many a sweet assumed character I have 
learned to love you, but simply as F. M. Kelly 
I love you better than them all. Can you quit 
these shadows of existence, and come and be a 
reality to us ? can you leave off harassing your- 
self to please a thankless multitude, who know 
nothing of you, and begin at last to live to your- 
self and your friends ? 

As plainly and frankly as I have seen you give 
or refuse assent in some feigned scene, so frankly 
do me the justice to answer me. It is impossible 
I should feel injured or aggrieved by your telling 
me at once, that the proposal does not suit you. It 
is impossible that I should ever think of molest- 
ing you with idle importunity and persecution 

l 3* 

after your mind [was] once firmly spoken — but 
happier, far happier, could I have leave to hope 
a time might come, when our friends might be 
your friends; our interests yours; our book-know- 
ledge, if in that inconsiderable particular we have 
any little advantage, might impart something to 
you, which you would every day have it in your 
power ten thousandfold to repay by the added 
cheerfulness and joy which you could not fail to 
bring as a dowry into whatever family should have 
the honour and happiness of receiving you, the 
most welcome accession that could be made to it. 
In haste, but with entire respect and deepest 
affection, I subscribe myself, C. Lamb 


[This was Miss Kelly's reply : 

Henrietta Street, July 20, 1819. 

An early and deeply rooted attachment has fixed my heart on one from 
whom no worldly prospect can well induce me to withdraw it, but while 
I thus frankly and decidedly decline your proposal, believe me, I am not 
insensible to the high honour which the preference of such a mind as yours 
confers upon me — let me, however, hope that all thought upon this 
subject will end with this letter, and that you will henceforth encourage 
no other sentiment towards me than esteem in my private character and 
a continuance of that approbation of my humble talents which you have 
already expressed so much and so often to my advantage and gratification. 

Believe me I feel proud to acknowledge myself, 

Your obliged friend, F. M. Kelly.] 


July 20, 1819. 

Dear Miss Kelly, — Your injunctions shall be 
obeyed to a tittle. I feel myself in a lackadaisacal 


no-how-ish kind of a humour. I believe it is the 
rain, or something. I had thought to have writ- 
ten seriously, but I fancy I succeed best in epistles 
of mere fun ; puns and that nonsense. You will 
be good friends with us, will you not ? let what 
has past " break no bones " between us. You 
will not refuse us them next time we send for 
them ? Yours very truly, C. L. 

Do you observe the delicacy of not signing 
my full name ? N. B. Do not paste that last let- 
ter of mine into your book. 



[Writing again of Miss Kelly, in the Hypocrite, in The 
Examiner of August i and 2, Lamb says : " She is in truth 
not framed to tease or torment even in jest, but to utter a 
hearty Yes or No ; to yield or refuse assent with a noble sin- 
cerity. We have not the pleasure of being acquainted with 
her, but we have been told that she carries the same cordial 
manners into private life." 

Miss Kelly died unmarried at the age of ninety-two. 

"Break no bones." Here Lamb makes one of his puns. 
By " bones " he meant also the little ivory discs which were 
given to friends of the management, entitling them to free 
entry to the theatre. With this explanation the next sentence 
of the letter becomes clear.] 


No date. (?) 1819. 

Dear Sir, — We beg to convey our kindest 
acknowledgements to Mr. Arnold for the very 


pleasant privilege he has favoured us with. My 
yearly holidays end with next week, during 
which we shall be mostly in the country, and 
afterwards avail ourselves fully of the privilege. 
Sincerely wishing you crowded houses, &c, we 

Yours truly, Ch. & M. Lamb 


[Arnold, brother-in-law of Ayrton, was the lessee of the 
Lyceum, where Miss Kelly was acting when Lamb proposed 
to her in 1819. This letter may belong to that time. — E. V. 


Summer, 1819. 

Dear C, — Your sonnet is capital. The paper 
ingenious, only that it split into four parts (besides 
a side splinter) in the carriage. I have transferred 
it to the common English paper, manufactured 
of rags, for better preservation. I never knew 
before how the Iliad and Odyssey were written. 
'T is strikingly corroborated by observations on 
cats. These domestic animals, put 'em on a rug 
before the fire, wink their eyes up and listen to 
the kettle, and then purr, which is their poetry. 

On Sunday week we kiss your hands (if they 
are clean). This next Sunday I have been en- 
gaged for some time. 

With rememb'ces to your good host and host- 
ess. Yours ever, C. Lamb 

J 34 


Autumn, 1819. 

Dear Tom, — Do not come to us on Thurs- 
day, for we are moved into country lodgings, tho' 
I am still at the India House in the mornings. 
See Marshall and Captain Betham as soon as ever 
you can. I fear leave cannot be obtained at the 
India House for your going to India. If you go 
it must be as captain's clerk, if such a thing could 
be obtain'd. 

For God's sake keep your present place and do 
not give it up, or neglect it; as you perhaps will 
not be able to go to India, and you see how dif- 
ficult of attainment situations are. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


November 5, 18 19. 

Dear Sir, — It is so long since I have seen or 
heard from you, that I fear that you will con- 
sider a request I have to make as impertinent. 
About three years since, when I was one day at 
Bristol, I made an effort to see you, but you were 
from home. The request I have to make is, that 
you would very much oblige me, if you have any 
small portrait of yourself, by allowing me to have 
it copied, to accompany a selection of Likenesses 
of Living Bards which a most particular friend 
of mine is making. If you have no objections, 


and could oblige me by transmitting such por- 
trait to me at No. 44 Russell Street, Covent 
Garden, I will answer for taking the greatest 
care of it, and returning it safely the instant the 
copier has done with it. I hope you will pardon 
the liberty. 

From an old friend, and well-wisher, 

Charles Lamb 


Late 18 1 9. 

Dear Sir, — My friend whom you have 
obliged by the loan of your picture, having had it 
very exactly copied (and a very spirited drawing 
it is, as every one thinks that has seen it — the 
copy is not much inferior, done by a daughter 
of Josephs, R. A.), he purposes sending you 
back the original, which I must accompany 
with my warm thanks, both for that, and your 
better favour, the Messiah, which, I assure you, 
I have read thro' with great pleasure ; the verses 
have great sweetness and a New Testament- 
plainness about them which affected me very 

I could just wish that in page 63 you had 

omitted the lines 71 and 72, and had ended the 

period with, — 

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

Two very sweet lines, and the sense perfect. 


And in page 154, line 68, — 

He spake, I come, ordain'd a world to save, 
To be baptized by thee in Jordan's wave. 

These words are hardly borne out by the story, 
and seem scarce accordant with the modesty with 
which our Lord came to take his common por- 
tion among the baptismal candidates. They also 
anticipate the beauty of John's recognition of the 
Messiah, and the subsequent confirmation from 
the Voice and Dove. 

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

My sister joins in cordial remembrances, and 
I request the favour of knowing, at your earliest 
opportunity, whether the portrait arrives safe, 
glass unbroken, &c. Your glass broke in its com- 

Morgan is a little better — can read a little, 
&c. ; but cannot join Mrs. M. till the Insolvent 
Act (or whatever it is called) takes place. Then, 
I hope, he will stand clear of all debts. Mean- 
time, he has a most exemplary nurse and kind 
companion in Miss Brent. 

Once more, dear sir, yours truly, 

C. Lamb 



November 25, 1819. 

Dear Miss Wordsworth, — You will think me 
negligent, but I wanted to see more of Willy, 
before I ventured to express a prediction. Till 
yesterday I had barely seen him — Virgilium 
tantum vidi — but yesterday he gave us his small 
company to a bullock's heart — and I can pro- 
nounce him a lad of promise. He is no pedant 
nor bookworm, so far I can answer. Perhaps 
he has hitherto paid too little attention to other 
men's inventions, preferring, like Lord Fopping- 
ton, the " natural sprouts of his own." But he 
has observation, and seems thoroughly awake. I 
am ill at remembering other people's bon mots, 
but the following are a few. Being taken over 
Waterloo Bridge, he remarked that if we had no 
mountains, we had a fine river at least, which was 
a touch of the comparative, but then he added, 
in a strain which augured less for his future abili- 
ties as apolitical economist, that he supposed they 
must take at least a pound a week toll. Like a 
curious naturalist he inquired if the tide did not 
come up a little salty. This being satisfactorily 
answered, he put another question as to the flux 
and reflux, which being rather cunningly evaded 
than artfully solved by that she-Aristotle Mary, 
who muttered something about its getting up 
an hour sooner and sooner every day, he sagely 


replied, " Then it must come to the same thing 
at last," which was a speech worthy of an infant 
Halley ! 

The lion in the 'Change by no means came up 
to his ideal standard. So impossible it is for Na- 
ture in any of her works to come up to the stand- 
ard of a child's imagination. The whelps (lion- 
ets) he was sorry to find were dead, and on par- 
ticular inquiry his old friend the ouran-outang 
had gone the way of all flesh also. The grand 
tiger was also sick, and expected in no short time 
to exchange this transitory world for another, or 
none. But again, there was a golden eagle (I do 
not mean that of Charing) which did much ar- 
ride and console him. William's genius, I take it, 
leans a little to the figurative, for being at play at 
tricktrack (a kind of minor billiard-table which 
we keep for smaller wights, and sometimes re- 
fresh our own mature fatigues with taking a hand 
at), not being able to hit a ball he had iterate 
aimed at, he cried out, " I cannot hit that beast." 
Now the balls are usually called men, but he 
felicitously hit upon a middle term, a term of 
approximation and imaginative reconciliation, a 
something where the two ends, of the brute mat- 
ter (ivory) and their human and rather violent 
personification into men, might meet, as I take it 
illustrative of that excellent remark in a certain 
preface about imagination, explaining, "like a 
sea-beast that had crawled forth to sun himself." 
Not that I accuse William Minor of hereditary 


plagiary, or conceive the image to have come ex 
traduce. Rather he seemeth to keep aloof from 
any source of imitation, and purposely to remain 
ignorant of what mighty poets have done in this 
kind before' him. For being asked if his father 
had ever been on Westminster Bridge, he an- 
swer'd that he did not know. 

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


geniuses, must decide. Be it pronounced peremp- 
torily at present, that Willy is a well-manner'd 
child, and though no great student, hath yet a 
lively eye for things that lie before him. 

Given in haste from my desk at Leadenhall. 
Yours and yours most sincerely, C. Lamb 


[This letter, which refers to a visit paid to the Lambs in 
Great Russell Street by Wordsworth's son, William, then 
nine years old, is remarkable, apart from its charm and hu- 
mour, for containing more of the absolute method of certain 
of Lamb's Elia passages than anything he had yet written. — 
E. V. Lucas.] 


January 10, 1820. 

Dear Coleridge, — A letter written in the 
blood ' of your poor friend would indeed be of 
a nature to startle you ; but this is nought but 
harmless red ink, or, as the witty mercantile 
phrase hath it, clerk's blood. Damn 'em ! my brain, 
guts, skin, flesh, bone, carcase, soul, Time, is all 
theirs. The Royal Exchange, Gresham's Folly, 
hath me body and spirit. 

I admire some of Lloyd's lines on you, and 
I admire your postponing reading them. He is 
a sad Tattler, but this is under the rose. Twenty 
years ago he estranged one friend from me quite, 
whom I have been regretting but never could 

1 This letter was written in red ink. — Ed. 

regain since ; he almost alienated you (also) from 
me, or me from you, I don't know which. But 
that breach is closed. The dreary sea is filled up. 
He has lately been at work " telling again," as 
they call it, a most gratuitous piece of mischief, 
and has caused a coolness betwixt me and (not 
friend exactly, but) intimate acquaintance. I 
suspect, also, he saps Manning's faith in me, who 
am to Manning more than an acquaintance. Still 
I like his writing verses about you. Will your 
kind host and hostess give us a dinner next Sun- 
day, and better still, not expect us if the weather 
is very bad ? Why you should refuse twenty 
g[uinea]s per sheet for Blackwood's or any other 
magazine passes my poor comprehension. But, 
as Strap says, you know best. I have no quarrel 
with you about praeprandial avocations — so don't 
imagine one. That Manchester sonnet I think 
very likely is Capel [LofFt's]. Another sonnet 
appeared with the same initials in the same paper, 
which turned out to be Procter's. What do the 
rascals mean ? Am I to have the fathering of 
what idle rhymes every beggarly poetaster pours 
forth ! Who put your marine sonnet and " about 
Browne" into Blackwood's} I did not. [Line 
obliterated by author.] So no more, till we meet. 
Ever yours, C. L. 



January 10, 1820. 

Dear Sir, — We expected you here to-night ; 
but as you have invited us to-morrow evening, we 
shall dispose of this evening as we intended to 
have done of to-morrow. We shall be with you 
by eight, and shall have taken tea. 
Your (not obliging but obliged) 

C. and M. Lamb 


February 15, 1820. 

Dear Sir, — I have brought you Rosamund, 
Bp. of Landaff's daughter's novel. We shall have 
a small party, on Thursday evening, if you will 
do us the favour to join it. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


May 25, 1820. 

Dear Miss W., — I have volunteered to reply 
to your note because of a mistake I am desirous 
of rectifying on the spot. There can be none to 
whom the last volume of W. W. has come more 
welcome than to me. I have traced the Duddon 
in thought and with repetition along the banks 
(alas !) of the Lea — (unpoetical name) : it is 


always flowing and murmuring in my ears. The 
story of Dion is divine — the genius of Plato fall- 
ing on him like moonlight — the finest thing 
ever expressed. 

Then there is Elidure and Kirkstone Pass — 
the last not new to me — and let me add one of 
the sweetest of all to me, The Longest Day. Lov- 
ing all these as much as I can love poetry, new 
to me, what could I wish or desire or extrava- 
gantly desiderate in a new volume ? That I did 
not write to W. W. was simply that he was to 
come so soon, and that flattens letters. 

I admired your averted looks on Saturday. 
You did not observe M. Burney's averted look 
also ? You might have been supposed two an- 
tipathies, or quarrelled lovers. The fact was, M. 
B. had a black eye he was desirous of concealing 
— an artificial one I mean, not of nature's mak- 
ing, but of art's reflecting, for nobody quarrels 
with the black eyes the former gives — but it 
was curious to see you both ashamed of such 
panegyrical objects as black eyes and white teeth 
have always been considered. * * * Mary is not 
here to see the stuff I write, else she would snatch 
the pen out of my hand and conclude with some 
sober kind messages. 

We sincerely wish your brother better. 
Yours, both of us kindly, 

C. L. and M. L. 



[No date.] 

Dear Sir, — We expect Wordsworth to- 
morrow evening. Will you look in ? C. L. 


May 26, 1820. 

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

I have been in my time a great epistolary scrib- 
bler; but the passion, and with it the facility, at 
length wears out ; and it must be pumped up 
again by the heavy machinery of duty or grati- 
tude, when it should run free. 

I have read your Fall of Cambria with as much 
pleasure as I did your Messiah. Your Cambrian 
poem I shall be tempted to repeat oftenest, as 
Human poems takemeina mood more frequently 
congenial than Divine. The character of Llewel- 
lyn pleases me more than anything else, perhaps ; 
and then some of the lyrical pieces are fine 

It was quite a mistake that I could dislike any- 


thing you should write against Lord Byron, for 
I have a thorough aversion to his character and 
a very moderate admiration of his genius ; he is 
great in so little a way. To be a poet is to be 
the man — not a petty portion of occasional low 
passion worked up into a permanent form of 
humanity. Shakespear has thrust such rubbishy 
feelings into a corner — the dark, dusky heart of 
Don John, in the Much Ado about Nothing. The 
fact is, I have not seen your Expostulatory Epistle 
to him. I was not aware, till your question, that 
it was out. I shall inquire, and get it forthwith. 

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

I conclude, begging you to consider that I feel 
myself much obliged by your kindness, and shall 
be most happy at any and at all times to hear from 
you. Dear Sir, yours truly, Charles Lamb 


June, 1820. 

Dear Sir, — Wordsworth is with us this even. 
Can you come ? We leave Covent Garden on 
Thursday for some time. C. L. 



July 13, 1820. 

Dear Sir, — I do not know whose fault it is 
we have not met so long. We are almost always 
out of town. You must come and beat up our 
quarters there, when we return from Cambridge. 
It is not in our power to accept your invitation. 
To-day we dine out ; and set out for Cambridge 
on Saturday morning. Friday of course will be 
past in packing, &c, moreover we go from Dal- 
ston. We return from Cambridge in four weeks, 
and will contrive an early meeting. Meantime 
believe us, 

Sincerely yours, C. L., &c. 


August 16, 1820. 

Dear Field, — Captain Ogilvie, who conveys 
this note to you, and is now paying for the first 
time a visit to your remote shores, is the brother 
of a gentleman intimately connected with the 
family of the Whites, I mean of Bishopsgate 
Street — and you will much oblige them and 
myself by any service or civilities you can shew 

I do not mean this for an answer to your warm- 
hearted epistle, which demands and shall have a 
much fuller return. We received your Australian 
First Fruits, of which I shall say nothing here, 


but refer you to * * * * [see explanatory note] of 
the Examiner, who speaks our mind on all public 
subjects. I can only assure you that both Cole- 
ridge and Wordsworth, and also C. Lloyd, who 
has lately reappeared in the poetical horizon, were 
hugely taken with your Kangaroo. 

When do you come back full of riches and 
renown, with the regret of all the honest, and all 
the other part of the colony ? Mary swears she 
shall live to see it. 

Pray are you King's or Queen's men in Syd- 
ney? Or have thieves no politics? Man, don't 
let this lie about your room for your bed sweeper 
or Major Domo to see, he may n't like the last 

This is a dull and lifeless scroll. You shall 
have soon a tissue of truth and fiction impossible 
to be extricated, the interleavings shall be so 
delicate, the partitions perfectly invisible, it shall 
puzzle you till you return, and I will not explain 
it. Till then a • • * adieu, with kind remem- 
brances of me both to you. * * * [Signature and 
a few words torn off^\ 


[Barron Field, who was still in New South Wales, had 
published his poems under the title First-Fruits of Australian 
Poetry, and Lamb had reviewed them in The Examiner for 
January 16, 1820, over his usual signature in that paper, 
" * * * *." " The Kangaroo " is quoted in that review. — 
E. V. Lucas.] 



August 24, 1820. 

Dear Sir, — I sent you yesterday by the second 
post two small copies of verses directed by mis- 
take to N. 8 York Street. If you have not re- 
ceived them, pray favour me with a line. From 
your not writing, I shall conclude you have got 
them. Yours respectfully, C. Lamb 


Autumn, 1820. 

Dear C, — Why will you make your visits, 
which should give pleasure, matter of regret to 
your friends ? You never come but you take away 
some folio that is part of my existence. With a 
great deal of difficulty I was made to comprehend 
the extent of my loss. My maid Becky brought 
me a dirty bit of paper, which contained her de- 
scription of some book which Mr. Coleridge had 
taken away. It was Luster s Tables, which, for 
some time, I could not make out. " What ! has 
he carried away any of the tables, Becky ? " " No, 
it was n't any tables, but it was a book that he 
called Luster s Tables." I was obliged to search 
personally among my shelves, and a huge fissure 
suddenly disclosed to me the true nature of the 
damage I had sustained. That book, C, you 
should not have taken away, for it is not mine ; 
it is the property of a friend, who does not know 


its value, nor indeed have I been very sedulous in 
explaining to him the estimate of it ; but was 
rather contented in giving a sort of corroboration 
to a hint that he let fall, as to its being suspected 
to be not genuine, so that in all probability it 
would have fallen to me as a deodand ; not but 
I am as sure it is Luther's as I am sure that Jack 
Bunyan wrote the Pilgrim's Progress ; but it was 
not for me to pronounce upon the validity of 
testimony that had been disputed by learneder 
clerks than I. So I quietly let it occupy the place 
it had usurped upon my shelves, and should never 
have thought of issuing an ejectment against it ; 
for why should I be so bigoted as to allow rites of 
hospitality to none but my own books, children, 
&c. ? — a species of egotism I abhor from my 
heart. No ; let 'em all snug together, Hebrews 
and Proselytes of the gate ; no selfish partiality 
of mine shall make distinction between them ; I 
charge no warehouse-room for my friends' com- 
modities ; they are welcome to come and stay as 
long as they like, without paying rent. I have 
several such strangers that I treat with more than 
Arabian courtesy ; there 's a copy of More's fine 
poem, which is none of mine. But I cherish it 
as my own ; I am none of those churlish landlords 
that advertise the goods to be taken away in ten 
days' time, or then to be sold to pay expenses. 
So you see I had no right to lend you that book ; 
I may lend you my own books, because it is at 
my own hazard, but it is not honest to hazard a 


friend's property ; I always make that distinction. 
I hope you will bring it with you, or send it 
by Hartley ; or he can bring that, and you the 
Polemical Discourses, and come and eat some 
atoning mutton with us one of these days shortly. 
We are engaged two or three Sundays deep, but 
always dine at home on week-days at half-past 
four. So come all four — men and books I mean 
— my third shelf (northern compartment) from 
the top has two devilish gaps, where you have 
knocked out its two eye-teeth. 

Your wronged friend, C. Lamb 



Dear Sir, — We had arranged to be in coun- 
try Saturday and Sunday, having made an en- 
gagement to that effect. Pray let us see you on 
Thursday at Russell House. 

With regrets and all proper feelings, 

Yours truly, C. L. 


Dear Sir, — You shall see us on Thursday, 
with M. B., if possible, about eight. We shall 
have teaed. Yours truly, C. L. 

M. B.'s direction is 26 James Street, West- 
minster — James, not St. James, Street. 


January 8, 1821. 

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

Dear Miss Wordsworth, — I had just written 
the above endearing words when Monkhouse 
tapped me on the shoulder with an invitation 
to cold goose pye, which I was not bird of that 
sort enough to decline. Mrs. M., I am most 
happy to say, is better. Mary has been tormented 
with a rheumatism, which is leaving her. I am 
suffering from the festivities of the season. I 
wonder how my misused carcase holds it out. 
I have play'd the experimental philosopher on 
it, that 's certain. Willy shall be welcome to 
a mince pye, and a bout at commerce, whenever 
he comes. He was in our eye. I am glad you 
liked my new year's speculations. Everybody 
likes them, except the author of the Pleasures of 
Hope. Disappointment attend him! How I like 
to be liked, and what I do to be liked ! They 
flatter me in magazines, newspapers, and all the 
minor reviews. The Quarterlies hold aloof. But 
they must come into it in time, or their leaves 
be waste paper. 

Salute Trinity Library in my name. Two 
special things are worth seeing at Cambridge, 


a portrait of Cromwell at Sidney, and a better of 
Dr. Harvey (who found out that blood was red) 
at Dr. Davy's. You should see them. 

Coleridge is pretty well, I have not seen him, 
but hear often of him from Allsop, who sends 
me hares and pheasants twice a week. I can 
hardly take so fast as he gives. I have almost for- 
gotten butcher's meat, as plebeian. Are you not 
glad the cold is gone ? I find winters not so agree- 
able as they used to be, when " winter bleak had 
charms for me." I cannot conjure up a kind si- 
militude for those snowy flakes — Let them keep 
to Twelfth cakes. 

Mrs. Paris, our Cambridge friend, has been 
in town. You do not know the Watfords ? in 
Trumpington Street ; they are capital people. 

Ask anybody you meet, who is the biggest wo- 
man in Cambridge — and I '11 hold you a wager 
they '11 say Mrs. Smith. She broke down two 
benches in Trinity Gardens, one on the confines 
of St. John's, which occasioned a litigation be- 
tween the societies as to repairing it. In warm 
weather she retires into an ice-cellar (literally !) 
and dates the returns of the years from a hot 
Thursday some twenty years back. She sits in 
a room with opposite doors and windows, to let 
in a thorough draught, which gives her slenderer 
friends toothaches. She is to be seen in the 
market every morning at ten, cheapening fowls, 
which I observe the Cambridge poulterers are 
not sufficiently careful to stump. 


Having now answered most of the points con- 
tain'd in your letter, let me end with assuring you 
of our very best kindness, and excuse Mary from 
not handling the pen on this occasion, especially 
as it has fallen into so much better hands ! Will 
Dr. W. accept of my respects at the end of a 
foolish letter. C. L. 


? 1821. 

Dear Sir, — The hairs of our head are num- 
bered, but those which emanate from your heart 
defy arithmetic. I would send longer thanks, 
but your young man is blowing his fingers in the 
passage. Yours gratefully, C. L. 


? 1821. 

Dear Sir, — Thanks for the birds and your 
kindness. It was but yesterday I was contriving 
with Talfourd to meet you halfway at his 
chamber. But night don't do so well at present. 
I shall want to be home at Dalston by eight. 

I will pay an afternoon visit to you when you 
please. I dine at a chop-house at one always, but 
I can spend an hour with you after that. 

Yours truly, C. L. 

Would Saturday serve ? 


January 23, 1821. 

Dear Mrs. Ayrton, — My sister desires me, as 
being a more expert penman than herself, to say 
that she saw Mrs. Paris yesterday, and that she 
is very much out of spirits, and has expressed a 
great wish to see your son William and Fanny. 

I like to write that word Fanny. I do not know 
but it was one reason of taking upon me this pleas- 
ing task. 

Moreover that if the said William and Frances 
will go and sit an hour with her at any time, she 
will engage that no one else shall see them but 
herself, and the servant who opens the door, she 
being confined to her private room. I trust you 
and the juveniles will comply with this reason- 
able request, and am, dear Mrs. Ayrton, 

Yours and yours truly, C. Lamb 


January 27, 1821. 

Dear Madam, — Carriages to Cambridge are 
in such request, owing to the installation, that 
we have found it impossible to procure a con- 
veyance for Emma [Emma Isola] before Wednes- 
day, on which day between the hours of three 
and four in the afternoon you will see your little 
friend, with her bloom somewhat impaired by 
late hours and dissipation, but her gait, gesture, 

and general manners (I flatter myself) consider- 
ably improved by — somebody that shall be name- 

My sister joins me in love to all true Trump- 
ingtonians, not specifying any, to avoid envy ; 
and begs me to assure you that Emma has been 
a very good girl, which, with certain limitations, 
I must myself subscribe to. I wish I could cure 
her of making dog's ears in books, and pinching 
them on poor Pompey, who, for one, I dare say, 
will heartily rejoyce at her departure. 
Dear Madam, Yours truly, 

foolish C. L. 


March 15, 1821. 

Dear Madam, — We are out of town of ne- 
cessity till Wednesday next, when we hope to 
see one of you at least to a rubber. On some 
future Saturday we shall most gladly accept your 
kind offer. When I read your delicate little note, 
I am ashamed of my great staring letters. 

Yours most truly, Charles Lamb 


March 30, 1821. 

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


business, in future. He is notoriously faithless in 
that point, and we did wrong not to have warned 
you. Leg of Lamb, as before; hot at four. And 
the heart of Lamb ever, 

Yours truly, C. L. 


Indifferent Wednesday, April 1 8, 1 82 1. 

Dear Hunt, — There was a sort of side talk at 
Mr. Novello's about our spending Good Friday 
at Hampstead, but my sister has got so bad a cold, 
and we both want rest so much, that you shall 
excuse our putting off the visit some little time 
longer. Perhaps, after all, you know nothing of 
it. Believe me, yours truly, C. Lamb 


May 1, 1821. 

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

Extract from a MS. note of S. T. C. in my 
Beaumont and Fletcher, dated April 17th, 1807. 


" God bless you, dear Charles Lamb, I am 
dying ; I feel I have not many weeks left." 



May 2, 1821. 

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

Yours truly, C. Lamb 

If the beds in the town are all engaged, in con- 
sequence of Mr. Mathew's appearance, a hackney- 
coach will serve. 

We shall neither of us come much before the 


[We have the following interesting account of this evening, 
by Mrs. Mathews, who was half-sister of Fanny Kelly : "Mr. 
Lamb's first approach was not prepossessing. His figure was 
small and mean ; and no man certainly was ever less beholden 
to his tailor. His ' bran ' new suit of black cloth (in which 
he affected several times during the day to take great pride, and 
to cherish as a novelty that he had long looked for and wanted) 
was drolly contrasted with his very rusty silk stockings, shown 
from his knees, and his much too large thick shoes, without pol- 
ish. His shirt rejoiced in a wide ill-plaited frill, and his very small, 
tight, white neckcloth was hemmed to a fine point at the ends 
that formed part of the little bow. His hair was black and sleek, 
but not formal, and his face the gravest I ever saw, but indi- 
cating great intellect, and resembling very much the portraits 
of King Charles I. Mr. Coleridge was very anxious about his 
pet Lamb's first impression upon my husband, which I believe 

I 5 8 

his friend saw; and guessing that he had been extolled, he 
mischievously resolved to thwart his panegyrist, disappoint the 
strangers, and altogether to upset the suspected plan of show- 
ing him off."] 


May 16, 1821. 

Dear J. P. C, — Many thanks for the De- 
cameron : I have not such a gentleman's book in 
my collection ; it was a great treat to me, and I 
got it just as I was wanting something of the sort. 
I take less pleasure in books than heretofore, but 
I like books about books. In the second volume, 
in particular, are treasures — your discoveries 
about Twelfth Night, &c. What a Shakespearian 
essence that speech of Osrades for food ! Shake- 
speare is coarse to it — beginning, " Forbear and 
eat no more." Osrades warms up to that, but does 
not set out ruffian-swaggerer. The character of 
the ass with those three lines, worthy to be set 
in gilt vellum, and worn in frontlets by the noble 
beasts for ever — 

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

Cervantes, Sterne, and Coleridge, have said posi- 
tively nothing for asses compared with this. 

I write in haste ; but p. 24, vol. i., the line 
you cannot appropriate is Gray's sonnet, speci- 
menifyed by Wordsworth in first preface to L. 
B., as mixed of bad and good style : p. 143, 2nd 


vol., you will find last poem but one of the col- 
lection on Sidney's death in Spenser, the line, — 

Scipio, Caesar, Petrarch of our time. 

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

Dear J. P. C, I shall take the first oppor- 
tunity of personally thanking you for my enter- 
tainment. We are at Dalston for the most part, 
but I fully hope for an evening soon with you 
in Russell or Bouverie Street, to talk over old 
times and books. 

Remember us kindly to Mrs. J. P. C. 

Yours very kindly, Charles Lamb 

I write in misery. 

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


Summer, 1821. 

Dear Sir, — The Wits (as Clare calls us) as- 
semble at my cell (20 Russell St. Covent Garden) 
this evening at quarter before seven. Cold meat 
at nine. Puns at —a little after. Mr. Cary wants 


to see you, to scold you. I hope you will not 

Yours &c. &c. &c. C. Lamb 

I am sorry the London Magazine is going to be 
given up. 


June 8, 1821. 

Dear Sir, — I am extremely sorry to be obliged 
to decline the article proposed, as I should have 
been flattered with a plate accompanying it. In 
the first place, Midsummer day is not a topic I 
could make anything of: I am so pure a cockney, 
and little read, besides, in May games and anti- 
quities ; and, in the second, I am here at Mar- 
gate, spoiling my holydays with a review I have 
undertaken for a friend, which I shall barely get 
through before my return ; for that sort of work 
is a hard task to me. If you will excuse the 
shortness of my first contribution — and I know 
I can promise nothing more for July — I will 
endeavour a longer article for our next. 

Will you permit me to say that I think Leigh 
Hunt would do the article you propose in a mas- 
terly manner, if he has not outwrit himself al- 
ready upon the subject. I do not return the 
proof — to save postage — because it is correct, 
with one exception. In the stanza from Words- 
worth, you have changed day into air for rhyme- 


sake: day is the right reading, and I implore you 
to restore it. 

The other passage, which you have queried, 
is to my ear correct. Pray let it stand. 

Dear Sir, yours truly, C. Lamb 

On second consideration, I do enclose the 


July 17, 1821. 

Dear Ayrton, — In consequence of the August 
Coronation we propose postponing (I wonder if 
these words ever met so close before — mark the 
elegancy) our Wensday this week to Friday, 
when a grand rural fete champetre will be given 
at Russell House. The back garden to be illu- 
minated in honour of the late ceremony, 

Vivat Regina : moriatur. C. L. 


July 21, 1821. 

Dear Sir, — The London Magazine is chiefly 
pleasant to me, because some of my friends write 
in it. I hope Hazlitt intends to go on with it, we 
cannot spare Table Talk. For myself I feel almost 
exhausted, but I will try my hand a little longer, 
and shall not at all events be written out of it by 
newspaper paragraphs. Your proofs do not seem 


to want my helping hand, they are quite correct 
always. For God's sake change Sisera to Jael. 
This last paper will be a choke-pear I fear to some 
people, but as you do not object to it, I can be 
under little apprehension of your exerting your 
censorship too rigidly. 

Thanking you for your extract from Mr. E.'s 
letter, I remain, dear sir, your obliged, 

C. Lamb 


July 30, 1821. 

Dear Sir, — You will do me injustice if you do 
not convey to the writer of the beautiful lines, 
which I now return you, my sense of the extreme 
kindness which dictated them. Poor Elia (call 
him Ellia) does not pretend to so very clear reve- 
lations of a future state of being as Olen seems 
gifted with. He stumbles about dark mountains 
at best ; but he knows at least how to be thank- 
ful for this life, and is too thankful indeed for 
certain relationships lent him here, not to trem- 
ble for a possible resumption of the gift. He is 
too apt to express himself lightly, and cannot be 
sorry for the present occasion, as it has called 
forth a reproof so Christian-like. His animus at 
least (whatever become of it in the female ter- 
mination) hath always been cum Christianis. 

Pray make my gratefullest respects to the 
poet (do I natter myself when I hope it may be 


M y ?) and say how happy I should feel my- 
self 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. Should 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 exoteric is pronounced exoteric. 
It should be (if that is the word) exoteric. The 
false accent may be corrected by omitting the 
word old. Pray, for certain reasons, give me to 
the i 8 th 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 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 't is all he has left me. 

Dear sir, yours truly, C. Lamb 


August 12, 1 82 1. 

My dear Sir, — You have overwhelmed me 
with your favours. I have received positively a 
little library from Baldwyn's. I do not know 
how I have deserved such a bounty. 

We have been up to the ear in classics ever 
since it came. I have been greatly pleased, but 
most, I think, with the Hesiod, — the Titan 
battle quite amazed me. Gad, it was no child's 
play — and then the homely aphorisms at the end 
of the works — how adroitly you have turned 
them ! Can he be the same Hesiod who did the 
Titans ? the latter is, — 


Which to madness does incline. 

But to read the Days and Works is like eating 
nice brown bread, — homely, sweet, and nutritive. 
Apollonius was new to me : I had confounded 
him with the conjuror of that name. Medea is 
glorious ; but I cannot give up Dido. She pos- 
itively is the only fine lady of antiquity: her 
courtesy to the Trojans is altogether queen-like. 
Eneas is a most disagreeable person ; Ascanius, 


a pretty young master ; Mezentius for my money 

— his dying speech shames Turpin — not the 
archbishop, but the roadster of that name, I 
mean. I have been ashamed to find how many 
names of classics (and more than their names) 
you have introduced me to, that before I was 
ignorant of. 

Your commendation of Master Chapman ar- 
rideth me. Can any one read the pert, modern, 
Frenchified notes, &c, in Pope's translation, and 
contrast them with solemn weighty prefaces of 
Chapman, writing in full faith, as he evidently 
does, of the plenary inspiration of his author, wor- 
shipping his meanest scraps and relics as divine, 

— without one sceptical misgiving of their au- 
thenticity, and doubt which was the properest to 
expound Homer to his countrymen ? Reverend 
Chapman ! you have read his hymn to Pan (the 
Homeric) — why, it is Milton's blank verse 
clothed with rhyme ! Paradise Lost could scarce 
lose, could it be so accoutred. I shall die in the 
belief that he has improved upon Homer, in 
the Odyssey in particular, — the disclosure of 
Ulysses of himself to Alcinoiis; his previous be- 
haviour at the song of the stern strife arising 
between Achilles and himself (how it raised him 
above the Iliad Ulysses!) — but you know all 
these things quite as well as I do. But what a 
deaf ear old C. would have turned to the doubters 
in Homer's real personality ! He apparently be- 
lieved all the fables of Homer's birth, &c, &c. 


Those notes of Bryant have caused the greatest 
disorder in my brain-pan. Well, I will not flat- 
ter when I say that we have had two or three long 
evenings' good reading out of your kind present. 

I will say nothing of the tenderest parts in 
your own little volume, at the end of such slat- 
ternly scribble as this, but indeed they cost us 
some tears. I scrawl on because of interruptions 
every moment. You guess how it is in a busy 
office, — papers thrust into your hand when your 
hand is busiest, and every anti-classical disavoca- 


Summer, 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 replying to epistles otherwhere 
than at office. You express yourself concerning H. 
like a true friend, and have made me feel that I 
have somehow neglected him, but without know- 
ing 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 Covent Garden this sum- 
mer 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- 
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 N. this, for 
the flouting infidel doth mock when Christians 
cry God bless us. Yours and his, too, and all our 
little circle's most affectionate C. Lamb 

Mary's love included. 



Dear Sir, — Our friends of the London Maga- 
zine meet at 20 Russell St., Covent Garden, this 
evening at a quarter before seven. I shall be 
disappointed if you are not among them. 

Yours, with perfect sympathy, C. Lamb 


August 14, 1821. 

A rubber to-morrow evening at eight. Closed 
windows on account of the demise of her Maj- 
esty. C. Lamb 



October 19, 1821. 

My dear Sir, — I have to thank you for a fine 
hare, and, unless I am mistaken, for two. The 
first I received a week since ? the account given 
with it was that it came from Mr. Alfourd. I 
have no friend of that name, but two who come 
near to it, — Mr. ¥ alfourd. So my gratitude must 
be divided between you, till I know the true 

We are, and shall be, some time, I fear, at 
Dalston, a distance which does not improve hares 
by the circuitous route of Covent Garden, though 
for the sweetness of this last I will answer. We 
dress it to-day. I suppose you know my sister has 
been and is ill. I do not see much hopes, though 
there is a glimmer of her speedy recovery. When 
we are all well, I hope to come among our town 
friends, and shall have great pleasure in welcom- 
ing you from Beresford Hall. Yours and old 
Mr. Walton's, and Honest Mr. Cotton's, 

Piscatorum Amicus, C. L. 


October 26, 1821. 

Dear Sir, — I send these slips, because I find 
them done, and want to get rid of them. I am 
most uneasily situated at home, and if what I ex- 


pect takes place, it may be long before I shall 
have any communications of the sort to send. I 
beg you will accept this brief token of good will, 
and leave me to myself and time to recover into 
a state for writing. 

I am with best wishes for the London Maga- 
zine, C. Lamb 


October 27, 1821. 

I come, Grimalkin ! Dalston, near Hackney, 
27th Oct r . One thousand 8 hundred and twenty 
one years and a wee-bit since you and I were 
redeemed. I doubt if you are done properly yet. 


October 30, 1821. 

My dear Ayrton, — I take your kindness very 
thankfully. — A bit of kindness at such times is 
precious. I am indeed in an uneasy state. But I 
think it well that the death of poor John should 
have happened at a time that my sister can be but 
half sensible to it. She is with me at Dalston, and 
I ventured on my own advice to acquaint her, as 
she was, with the worst, for what a communica- 
tion should I have had to make upon her recov- 
ery ! It does not seem much to have altered the 
state of her mind, and now she will gradually 
come to herself with nothing new to tell. Her 


illness has been very obstinate, but I am in no 
hurry for her to recover, that the idea may be in 
her mind as long as it can, before she is able to 
comprehend its weight. I am in a state of trial, 
but I do not lose myself. The funeral over, I 
must return to business. I understand your friend- 
ship in inviting me to join you, but it would do 
me no good just now. I hope to meet you again 
with comparative chearfulness in some few weeks. 
Believe me, very sincerely yours, 

Chas. Lamb 

Kind love to Mrs. A. and God bless you all. 


November 9, 1821. 

Dear Sir, — I was not very well nor in spirits 
when your pleasant note reached me, or should 
have noticed it sooner. Our Hebrew brethren 
seem to appreciate the good things of this life in 
more liberal latitude than we, to judge from their 
frequent graces. One, I think, you must have 
omitted : " After concluding a bargain." Their 
distinction of " Fruits growing upon trees," and 
" upon the ground," I can understand. A sow 
makes quite a different grunt [her grace) over 
chesnuts and pignuts. The last is a little above 

With thanks, and wishing grace be with you. 
Yours, C. Lamb 



November 20, 1821. 

Dear Rickman, — The poor admiral's death 
would have been a greater shock to me, but that 
I have been used to death lately. Poor Jim 
White's departure last year first broke the spell. 
I had been so fortunate as to have lost no friend 
in that way for many long years, and began to 
think people did not die. But they have since 
gone off thickly. My brother's death happened 
when my sister was incapable of feeling it, but the 
knowledge of it was communicated to her at the 
time, and she had not to receive it as a shock 
when she came back to reason. I have reason to 
think this circumstance a great alleviation. She 
is now perfectly recovered after a very long ill- 
ness, and pretty well resigned. We are come to 
town this day and shall be glad to receive a visit 
from you or to pay you one. 

M. C. B. I have neither seen nor heard from 
for these two months. I hope your hopes will be 
justified in him. I am, dear R., yours faithfully, 

C. Lamb 


Ecce iterum: 

Dear Sir, — I fear I was obscure. I wasplaguily 
busy when those tempting birds came. I meant 


to say I could not come this evening ; but any 
other, if I can know a day before, I can come for 
two or three afternoon hours, from a quarter to 
four to half-past six. At present I cannot com- 
mand more furlough. I have nam'd Saturday. I 
will come, if you don't countermand. I shall have 
dined. I have been wanting not not to see you. 

C. L. 


Dear Sir, — I hear that you have called in 
Russell Street. I cannot say when I shall be in 
town. When I am, I must see you; I had hoped 
to have seen you at Dalston, but my sister is taken 
ill, — I am afraid will not be able to see any of 
her friends for a long time. 

Believe me, yours truly, C. Lamb 


Dear Allsop, — We are going to Dalston on 
Wednesday. Will you come see the last of us 
to-morrow night — you and Mrs. Allsop ? 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


Dear Allsop, — Your pheasant is glittering, 
but your company will be more acceptable this 
evening. Wordsworth is not with us, but the 
next things to him are. C. Lamb 



D. A., — I expect Procter and Wainwright 
(Janus W.) this evening : will you come ? I sup- 
pose it is but a compliment to ask Mrs. Allsop ? 
but it is none to say that we should be glad to 
see her. Yours ever, C. L. 

How vexed I am at your Dalston expedition. 


March 9, 1822. 

Dear C, — 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 remember to rub it 
with butter, and gently dredge it a little, just be- 
fore the crisis ? Did the eyes come away kindly 
with no CEdipean avulsion? Was the crackling 
the colour of the ripe pomegranate ? Had you 
no complement of boiled neck of mutton before 
it, to blunt the edge of delicate desire ? Did you 
flesh maiden teeth in it ? Not that I 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 wkh 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 I could never think of 
sending away. Teals, wigeons, snipes, barndoor 
fowl, ducks, geese — your tame villatic things 

— Welsh mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, 
fresh 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 undervaluing 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 six- 
penny 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 — the sum it 
was to her — the pleasure she had a right to 
expect that I — not the old imposter — should 

l 75 

take in eating her cake — the cursed ingrati- 
tude by which, under the colour of a Christian 
virtue, I had frustrated her cherished purpose. 
I sobbed, wept, and took it to heart so griev- 
ously, that I think I never suffered the like — 
and I was right. It was a piece of unfeeling 
hypocrisy, and proved a lesson to me ever after. 
The cake has long been masticated, consigned 
to dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable 

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 

Yours (short of pig) to command in every- 
thing, C. L. 


[This letter probably led to the immediate composition of 
the Elia essay, A Dissertation on Roast Pig, which was printed 
in the London Magazine for September, 1822. — E. V. Lu- 


March 20, 1822. 

My dear Wordsworth, — A letter from you 
is very grateful, I have not seen a Kendal post- 
mark 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 has 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 
this last two twelvemonths, 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 
Capt. Burney gone ! — ■ what fun has whist now? 
what matters it what you lead, if you can no 
longer fancy him looking over you ? 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 distrib- 
utes 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 
the practice is against it. I grow ominously tired 
of official confinement. Thirty years have I served 
the Philistines, and 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 re- 
lief day after day, all the golden hours of the day 
between ten and four without ease or interpo- 
sition. Taedet ?)ie harum quotidianarum formarum, 
these pestilential clerk-faces always in one's dish. 
O for a few years between the grave and the 
desk ! they are the same, save that at the latter 
you are outside the machine. The foul en- 
chanter — letters four do form his name — Busi- 
rane is his name in hell — that has curtailed 
you of some domestic comforts, hath laid a heav- 
ier 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. Otium cum indignitate. I had 
thought in a green old age (O green thought!) 
to have retired to Ponder's End — emblematic 
name how beautiful ! 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 walk'd myself off my legs, dying 
walking ! 


The hope is gone. I sit like Philomel all day 
(but not singing) with my breast against this thorn 
of a desk, with the only hope that some pulmon- 
ary affliction may relieve me. Vide Lord Palm- 
erston's report of the clerks in the war office 
(Debates, this morning's Times') by which it ap- 
pears in twenty years, as many clerks have been 
cough' d and catarrh' d out of it into their freer 

Thank you for asking about the pictures. Mil- 
ton hangs over my fireside 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 gratify'd 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 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 bookseller's 
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 thor- 
oughly right about presentation copies. I should 
like to see you print a book I should grudge to 

purchase for its size. D n me, but I would 

have it though ! 


March 26, 1822. 

Dear Mrs. N., — Mary will be in town this 

evening or to-morrow morning, as she wants to 

see you about another business. She will in the 

meantime enquire respecting the young woman. 

Yours sincerely, C. Lamb 


April 13, 1822. 

Dear Godwin, — I cannot imagine how you, 
who never in your writings have expressed your- 
self disrespectfully of any one but your Maker, 
can have given offence to Rickman. 

I have written to the numberer of the people 
to ask when it will be convenient to him to be 
at home to Mr. Booth. I think it probable he 
may be out of town in the Parliamentary recess, 


but doubt not of a speedy answer. Pray return 
my recognition to Mr. Booth, from whose ex- 
cellent Tables of Interest I daily receive inex- 
pressible official facilities. 

Yours ever, C. Lamb 


May 7, 1822. 

Dear Sir, — I have read your poetry with pleas- 
ure. The tales are pretty and prettily told, the 
language often finely poetical. It is only some- 
times a little careless, I mean as to redundancy. 
I have marked certain passages (in pencil only, 
which will easily obliterate) for your consider- 
ation. Excuse this liberty. For the distinction 
you offer me of a dedication, I feel the honour of 
it, but I do not think it would advantage the pub- 
lication. I am hardly on an eminence enough to 
warrant it. The reviewers, who are no friends of 
mine — the two big ones especially who make 
a point of taking no notice of anything I bring 
out — may take occasion by it to decry us both. 
But I leave you to your own judgment. Perhaps, 
if you wish to give me a kind word, it will be 
more appropriate before your republication ofTour- 

The Specimens would give a handle to it, which 
the poems might seem to want. But I submit it 
to yourself with the old recollection that " beg- 
gars should not be chusers," and remain with 


great respect and wishing success to both your 

Your obedient Servant, C. Lamb 

No hurry at all for Tourneur. 


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 


May 22, 1822. 

Dear Mrs. Lamb, — A letter has come to 
Arnold for Mrs. Phillips, and, as I have not her 
address, I take this method of sending it to you. 
That old rogue's name is Sherwood, as you 
guessed, but as I named the shirts to him, I think 
he must have them. Your character of him made 
me almost repent of the bounty. 

You must consider this letter as Mary's — for 
writing letters is such a trouble and puts her to 
such twitters (family modesty, you know ; it is 
the way with me, but I try to get over it) that 
in pity I offer to do it for her. 

We hold our intention of seeing France, but 
expect to see you here first, as we do not go till 


the 20th of next month. A steamboat goes to 
Dieppe, I see. 

Christie has not sent to me, and I suppose is 
in no hurry to settle the account. I think in 
a day or two (if I do not hear from you to the 
contrary) I shall refresh his memory. 

I am sorry I made you pay for two letters. I 
peated it, and re-peated it. 

Miss Wright is married, and I am a hamper in 
her debt, which I hope will now not be remem- 
bered. She is in great good humour, I hear, and 
yet out of spirits. 

Where shall I get such full-flavour' d Geneva 
again ? 

Old Mr. Henshaw 1 died last night, precisely at 
half-past eleven. He has been open'd by desire 
of Mrs. McKenna ; and, where his heart should 
have been, was found a stone. Poor Arnold is 
inconsolable ; and, not having shaved since, looks 

With our kind remembrances to Caroline and 
your friends, we remain yours affectionately, 

C. L. and M. Lamb 

I thank you for your kind letter, and owe you 
one in return, but Charles is in such a hurry to 
send this to be franked. 

Your affectionate sister, M. Lamb 

1 On the right-hand margin is written, — 

"He is not dead." 


August, 1822. 

Then you must walk all along the borough 
side of the Seine facing the Tuileries. There is 
a mile and a half of print shops and book stalls. 
If the latter were but English. Then there is a 
place where the Paris people put all their dead 
people and bring 'em flowers and dolls and gin- 
gerbread nuts and sonnets and such trifles. And 
that is all I think worth seeing as sights, except 
that the streets and shops of Paris are themselves 
the best sight. 


August 31, 1822. 

Dear Clare, — I thank you heartily for your 
present. I am an inverate old Londoner, but 
while I am among your choice collections, I seem 
to be native to them, and free of the country. 
The quantity of your observation has astonished 
me. What have most pleased me have been Re- 
collections after a Ramble, and those Grongar Hill 
kind of pieces in eight syllable lines, my favour- 
ite measure, such as Cowper 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 Cock- 
neyism,as little pleasing as ours of London. Trans- 


plant Arcadia to Helpstone. The true rustic style, 
the Arcadian English, I think is to be found in 
Shenstone. Would his Schoolmistress, the pretti- 
est of poems, have been better, if he had used 
quite the Goody's own language ? Now and 
then a home rusticism is fresh and startling, but 
where 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 deserve 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 duplicate, that 
I may return in equal number to your welcome 

I think I am indebted to you for a sonnet in 
the London for August. 

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 

Yours sincerely, Chas. Lamb 

i8 S 

[The following is the sonnet referred to by Lamb : 

Elia, thy reveries and vision'd themes 

To Care's lorn heart a luscious pleasure prove ; 
Wild as the mystery of delightful dreams, 

Soft as the anguish of remember'd love : 
Like records of past days their memory dances 

Mid the cool feelings Manhood's reason brings, 
As the unearthly visions of romances 

Peopled with sweet and uncreated things; — 
And yet thy themes thy gentle worth enhances ! 

Then wake again thy wild harp's tenderest strings, 
Sing on, sweet Bard, let fairy loves again 

Smile in thy dreams, with angel ecstasies; 
Bright o'er our souls will break the heavenly strain 

Through the dull gloom of earth's realities.] 


September 5, 1822. 

Dear A., — A dim notion dawns upon my 
drunken caput, that last night you made an en- 
gagement for me at your house on Monday ; it 
may be all a fiction ; but if you did, pray change 
it for some Evening between that day and Satur- 
day — not Saturday. 

It is impossible for me to come on Monday. 

If it is all delusion, forgive the harmless vanity. 

I want that magazine you took away, if you 
took it. 

This is a mere hypothetical epistle. 

C. Lamb 


September n, 1822. 

Dear Mrs. K., — Mary got home safe bn Fri- 
day night. She has suffered only a common fa- 
tigue, 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 comprehend 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-persuad- 
ing strains. Pray say to Ellen that I think the 
verses very pretty which she slipt into my pocket 
on 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 


My dear Sophy, — The few short days of con- 
nubial 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 quar- 
ter 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 ? I think not. 

Adieu, amiable pair, Yours and yours, 

C. Lamb 

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


[This charming note is to Mrs. Kenney's little girl, Sophy, 
whom Lamb calls his dear wife. — E. V. Lucas.] 


September u, 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 (pro- 
vided 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, aye, 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? 
— they are unjustly accused of it, and I did my 
little best in the Imperfect Sympathies to vindicate 

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 tied the free 
And holy-day rejoycing spirit down 
To the ever-haunting importunity 
Of business, in the green fields, and the town — 

To plough — loom — anvil — spade — and, oh, most sad, 

To this dry drudgery of 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 whence are no returnings ; 

Where toiling and turmoiling ever and aye 

He, and his Thoughts, keep pensive worky-day. 

C. L. 

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 Wool- 
man. 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 Qua- 
ker. Believe me, with great respect, yours, 

C. Lamb 

I shall always be happy to see, or hear from 


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 mono- 
tonous general 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 have been the decision of Api- 

Shelley the great Atheist has gone down by 
water to eternal fire ! Hunt and his young fry are 
left stranded at Pisa, to be adopted by the remain- 
ing duumvir, Lord Byron — his wife and six chil- 
dren and their maid. What a cargo of Jonases, if 
they had foundered too ! The only use I can find 
of friends, is that they do to borrow money of 
you. Henceforth I will consort with none but rich 
rogues. 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 thro' a magnificent street ; palaces a mile 
long on one side, lofty Edinbro' stone (O the glori- 
ous 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 Shakspere. He paid a broker 
about £\o English for it. It is painted on the one 
half of a pair of bellows — a lovely picture, cor- 
responding with the folio head. The bellows has 
old carved wings round it, and round the visnomy 
is inscribed, near as I remember, not divided 
into rhyme — I found out the rhyme — 

Whom have we here, 

Stuck on this bellows, 

I 9 I 

But the Prince of good fellows, 
Willy Shakspere ? 

At top, — 

O 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 
countenance smiling, sweet, and intellectual be- 
yond 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 por- 
trait 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 and forger 
have expected ^40 for a thing, if authentic, 
worth ^4000 ? Talma is not in the 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 uni- 
versal faith. 

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

Our joint hearty remembrances to both of you. 
Yours as ever, C. Lamb 



[Lamb's belief in the authenticity of this portrait was mis- 
placed ; see the following account from Chambers's Journal 
for September 27, 1856 : 

About the latter part of the last century, one Zincke, an artist of little 
note, but grandson of the celebrated enameller of that name, manufactured 
fictitious Shakespeares by the score. . . . The most famous of Zincke' s 
productions is the well-known Talma Shakespeare, which gentle Charles 
Lamb made a pilgrimage to Paris to see ; and when he did see, knelt down 
and kissed with idolatrous veneration. Zincke painted it on a larger panel 
than was necessary for the size of the picture, and then cut away the super- 
fluous wood, so as to leave the remainder in the shape of a pair of bel- 
lows. . . . Zincke probably was thinking of " a muse of fire " when he 
adopted this strange method of raising the wind ; but he made little by it, 
for the dealer into whose hands the picture passed, sold it as a curiosity, not 
an original portrait, for £$. The buyer, being a person of ingenuity, and 
fonder of money than curiosities, fabricated a series of letters to and from 
Sir Kenelm Digby, and, passing over to France, planted — the slang term 
used among the less honest of the curiosity dealing fraternity — the picture 
and the letters in an old chateau near Paris. Of course a confederate man- 
aged to discover the plant, in the presence of witnesses, and great was the 
excitement that ensued. Sir Kenelm Digby had been in France in the reign 
of Charles I, and the fictitious correspondence proved that the picture was 
an original, and had been painted by Queen Elizabeth's command, on the 
lid of her favourite pair of bellows ! 

It really would seem that the more absurd a deception is, the better it 
succeeds. All Paris was in delight at possessing an original Shakespeare, 
while the London amateurs were in despair at such a treasure being lost to 
England, The ingenious person soon found a purchaser, and a high price 
recompensed him for his trouble. But more remains to be told. The happy 
purchaser took his treasure to Ribet, the first Parisian picture-cleaner of the 
day, to be cleaned. Ribet set to work ; but we may fancy his surprise as 
the superficial impasto of Zincke washed off beneath the sponge, and Shake- 
speare became a female in a lofty headgear adorned with blue ribbons. 

In a furious passion the purchaser ran to the seller. " Let us talk over the 
affair quietly," said the latter ; "I have been cheated as well as you : let 
us keep the matter secret ; if we let the public know it, all Paris and even 
London too, will be laughing at us. I will return you your money, and take 
back the picture, if you will employ Ribet to restore it to the same condi- 
tion as it was in when you received it." This fair proposition was acceded 
to, and Ribet restored the picture ; but as he was a superior artist to Zincke, 
he greatly improved it, and this improvement was attributed to his skill as 
a cleaner. The secret being kept, and the picture, improved by cleaning, 
being again in the market, Talma, the great Tragedian, purchased it at even 
a higher price than that given by the first buyer. Talma valued it highly, 
enclosed it in a case of morocco and gold, and subsequently refused 1000 

T 93 

Napoleons for it ; and even when at last its whole history was disclosed, he 
still cherished it as a genuine memorial of the great bard.] 


Autumn, 1822. 

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 twenty to thirty 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 magni- 
tude with me now. I want to be going, to the Jar- 
din des Plantes (is that right, Louisa ?) with you 
— to Pere de la Chaise, La Morgue, and all the 
sentimentalities. How is Talma, and his (my) 
dear Shakspeare? 

N. B. — My friend White knows Paris thor- 
oughlv, and does not want a guide. We did, 
and had one. We both join in thanks. Do you 
remember a Blue-Silk Girl (English) 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, pry- 
ing, 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 Kenny and 


[John Howard Payne (1792-1852) was born in New York. 
He began life as an actor in 1809 as Young Norval in Doug- 
las, and made his English debut in 1813 in the same part. 
For several years he lived either in London or Paris, where 
among his friends were Washington Irving and Talma. He 
wrote a number of plays, and in one of them, Clari, or the 
Maid of Milan, is the song Home, Sweet Home, with Bishop's 
music, on which his immortality rests. Payne died in Tunis, 
where he was American Consul, in 1852, and when in 1883 
he was reinterred at Washington, it was as the author of 
Home, Sweet Home. He seems to have been a charming but 
ill-starred man, whom to know was to love. — E. V. Lucas.] 


October 9, 1822. 

Dear Sir, — I am asham'd not sooner to have 
acknowledged your letter and poem. I think the 
latter very temperate, very serious and very seas- 
onable. 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. Something 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 sin- 
cerely sympathise with you on your doleful con- 
finement. Of Time, Health, and Riches, the 
first in order is not last in excellence. Riches are 
chiefly good, because they give us Time. What 

IQ 5 

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 Laureat's, whose 
voice is the worst part about him, except his 
Laureatcy. Lord Byron opens upon him on Mon- 
day in a parody (I suppose) of the Vision of "Judg- 
ment, in which latter the poet I think did not 
much show bis. To award his Heaven and his 
Hell in the presumptuous 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 C. 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 


October 9, 1822. 

Dear Hay don, — 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, &c, of 
his new house (in the Strand) seized when term 
begins. We are trying to raise a subscription 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 must 
be ruined. You are the only person I can think 
of, of her 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 
channel ? 


No date. 

Dear J. H. P., — Thank you. I shall cer- 
tainly attend your Farce, if in town ; but as 't is 
possible I shall ruralize this week, I will have no 


orders of you till next week. All Sundays I am 
ready to ambulate with you, but will make no 
engagement for this week, — to leave the poor 
residue of my holidays unembarrassed. 

Yours truly, C. L. 


October 22, 1822. 

AH Pacha will do. I sent my sister the first 
night, not having been able to go myself, and 
her report of its effect was most favourable. I 
saw it last night — the third night — and it was 
most satisfactorily received. I have been sadly 
disappointed in Talfourd, who does the critiques 
in the Times, and who promised his strenuous 
services ; but by some damn'd arrangement he was 
sent to the wrong house, and a most iniquitous 
account of ^// substituted for his, which I am sure 
would have been a kind one. The Morning Her- 
ald did it ample justice, without appearing to puff 
it. It is an abominable misrepresentation of the 
Times, that Farren played Ali like Lord Ogilby. 
He acted infirmity of body, but not of voice or 
purpose. His manner was even grand. A grand 
old gentleman. His falling to the earth when 
his son's death was announced was fine as any- 
thing I ever saw. It was as if he had been blasted. 
Miss Foote looked helpless and beautiful, and 
greatly helped the piece. It is going on steadily, 
I am sure, for many nights. Marry, I was a little 


disappointed with Hassan, who tells us he sub- 
sists by cracking court jests before Hali, but he 
made none. In all the rest, scenery and machin- 
ery, it was faultless. I hope it will bring you 
here. I should be most glad of that. I have 
a room for you, and you shall order your own 
dinner three days in the week. I must retain 
my own authority for the rest. 

As far as magazines go, I can answer for Tal- 
fourd in the New Monthly. He cannot be put 
out there. But it is established as a favourite, and 
can do without these expletives. I long to talk 
over with you the Shakspeare picture. My doubts 
of its being a forgery mainly rest upon the 
goodness of the picture. The bellows might be 
trumped up, but where did the painter spring 
from ? Is Ireland a consummate artist, or any 
of Ireland's accomplices? — but we shall confer 
upon it, I hope. The New Times, I understand, 
was favourable to AH, but I have not seen it. I 
am sensible of the want of method in this letter, 
but I have been deprived of the connecting 
organ, by a practice I have fallen into since I left 
Paris, of taking too much strong spirits of a night. 
I must return to the Hotel de 1' Europe and Ma- 

How is Kenney ? Have you seen my friend 
White ? What is Poole about, &c. ? Do not 
write, but come and answer me. 

The weather is charming, and there is a mer- 
maid to be seen in London. You may not have 


the opportunity of inspecting such a Poisarde once 
again in ten centuries. 

My sister joins me in the hope of seeing you. 
Yours truly, C. Lamb 


October 29, 1822. 

Dear H., — I have written a very respectful 
letter to Sir W. S. Godwin did not write, because 
he leaves all to his committee, as I will explain 
to you. If this rascally weather holds, you will 
see but one of us on that day. 

Yours, with many thanks, C. Lamb 


October 29, 1822. 

Dear Sir, — I have to acknowledge your kind 
attention to my application to Mr. Haydon. I 
have transmitted your draft to Mr. G[odwin]'s 
committee as an anonymous contribution through 
me. Mr. Haydon desires his thanks and best 
respects to you, but was desirous that I should 
write to you on this occasion. I cannot pass over 
your kind expressions as to myself. It is not likely 
that I shall ever find myself in Scotland, but should 
the event ever happen, I should be proud to pay 
my respects to you in your own land. My dis- 
paragement of heaths and highlands — if I said 
any such thing in half earnest, — you must put 


down as a piece of the old Vulpine policy. I 
must make the most of the spot I am chained to, 
and console myself for my flat destiny as well as 
I am able. I know very well our mole-hills are 
not mountains, but I must cocker them up and 
make them look as big and as handsome as I can, 
that we may both be satisfied. 

Allow me to express the pleasure I feel on 
an occasion given me of writing to you, and to 
subscribe myself, dear sir, your obliged and 
respectful servant, 

Charles Lamb 


November n, 1822. 

Dear Sir, — We have to thank you, or Mrs. 
Robinson — for I think her name was on the 
direction — for the best pig which myself, the 
warmest of pig-lovers, ever tasted. The dressing 
and the sauce were pronounced incomparable by 
two friends, who had the good fortune to drop in 
to dinner yesterday, but I must not mix up my 
cook's praises with my acknowledgments ; let me 
but have leave to say that she and we did your 
pig justice. I should dilate on the crackling — 
done to a turn — but I am afraid Mrs. Clarkson, 
who, I hear, is with you, will set me down as an 
epicure. Let it suffice, that you have spoil' d my 
appetite for boiled mutton for some time to come. 
Your brother Henry partook of the cold relics — 


by which he might give a good guess at what it 
had been hot. 

With our thanks, pray convey our kind respects 
to Mrs. Robinson, and the lady before mentioned. 

Your obliged Servant, Charles Lamb 


[Lamb's Dissertation on Roast Pig had been printed in the 
London Magazine in September, 1822, and this pig was one of 
the first of many such gifts that came to him. — E. V. Lucas.] 


November 13, 1822. 

Dear P., — Owing to the inconvenience of 
having two lodgings, I did not get your letter 
quite so soon as I should. The India House is 
my proper address, where I am sure for the fore 
part of every day. The instant I got it, I addressed 
a letter, for Kemble to see, to my friend Henry 
Robertson, the Treasurer of Covent Garden 
Theatre. He had a conference with Kemble, and 
the result is, that Robertson, in the name of the 
management, recognized to me the full ratifying 
of your bargain : .£250 for AH, the Slaves, and 
another piece which they had not received. He 
assures me the whole will be paid you, or the 
proportion for the two former, as soon as ever the 
Treasury will permit it. He offered to write the 
same to you, if I pleased. He thinks in a month 
or so they will be able to liquidate it. He is posi- 


tive no trick could be meant you, as Mr. Planche's 
alterations, which were trifling, were not at all 
considered as affecting your bargain. With re- 
spect to the copyright of AH, he was of opinion 
no money would be given for it, as AH is quite 
laid aside. This explanation being given, you 
would not think of printing the two copies to- 
gether by way of recrimination. He told me the 
secret of the Two Galley Slaves at Drury Lane. 
Elliston, if he is informed right, engaged Poole 
to translate it, but before Poole's translation ar- 
rived, finding it coming out at Covent Garden, 
he procured copies of two several translations of 
it in London. So you see here are four transla- 
tions, reckoning yours. I fear no copyright would 
be got for it, for anybody may print it and any- 
body has. Your's has run seven nights, and R. is 
of opinion it will not exceed in number of nights 
the nights of AH, — about thirteen. But your full 
right to your bargain with the management is 
in the fullest manner recognized by him officially. 
He gave me every hope the money will be spared 
as soon as they can spare it. He said a month or 
two, but seemed to me to mean about a month. 

A new lady is coming out in Juliet, to whom 
they look very confidently for replenishing their 
treasury. Robertson is a very good fellow, and 
I can rely upon his statement. Should you have 
any more pieces, and want to get a copyright for 
them, I am the worst person to negotiate with 
any bookseller, having been cheated by all I have 


had to do with (except Taylor and Hessey, — 
but they do not publish theatrical pieces], and 
I know not how to go about it, or who to apply 
to. But if you had no better negotiator, I should 
know the minimum you expect, for I should 
not like to make a bargain out of my own head, 
being (after the Duke of Wellington) the worst 
of all negotiators. I find from Robertson you 
have written to Bishop on the subject. Have 
you named anything of the copyright of the 
Slaves? R. thinks no publisher would pay for 
it, and you would not risque it on your own 

This is a mere business letter, so I will just send 
my love to my little wife at Versailles, to her dear 
mother, &c. 

Believe me, yours truly, C. L. 

note « 

[Lamb's " little wife " is explained in note to letter to Mrs. 
Kenney of September n, 1822. — Ed.] 


December 7, 1822. 

Dear Sir, — I should like the enclosed Dedi- 
cation to be printed, unless you dislike it. I like 
it. It is in the olden style. But if you object to 
it, put forth the book as it is. Only pray don't 
let the printer mistake the word curt for curst. 

C. L. 

On better consideration, pray omit that Dedi- 
cation. The Essays want no Preface: they are 
all Preface. A Preface is nothing but a talk 
with the reader ; and they do nothing else. Pray 
omit it. 

There will be a sort of Preface in the next 
Magazine, which may act as an advertisement, 
but not proper for the volume. 

Let Elia come forth bare as he was born. 

N. B. No Preface. C. L. 


December 16, 1822. 

Dear Wilson, — Lightening, I was going to call 
you. You must have thought me negligent in 
not answering your letter sooner. But I have a 
habit of never writing letters, but at the office ; 
't is so much time cribbed out of the Company : 
and I am but just got out of the thick of a tea- 
sale, in which most of the entry of notes, de- 
posits, &c, usually falls to my share. Dodwell 
is willing, but alas ! slow. To compare a pile of 
my notes with his little hillock (which has been 
as long a-building), what is it but to compare 
Olympus with a mole-hill. Then Wadd is a sad 

I have nothing of Defoe's but two or three 
novels, and the Plague History. I can give you 
no information about him. As a slight general 
character of what I remember of them (for I 


have not look'd into them latterly) I would say 
that in the appearance of truth in all the incidents 
and conversations that occur in them they exceed 
any works of fiction I am acquainted with. It 
is perfect illusion. The author never appears in 
these self-narratives (for so they ought to be called 
or rather autobiographies) but the narrator chains 
us down to an implicit belief in everything he 
says. There is all the minute detail of a log-book 
in it. Dates are painfully pressed upon the mem- 
ory. Facts are repeated over and over in varying 
phrases, till you cannot chuse but believe them. 
It is like reading evidence given in a court of 
justice. So anxious the story-teller seems, that 
the truth should be clearly comprehended, that 
when he has told us a matter of fact, or a motive, 
in a line or two farther down he repeats it with 
his favourite figure of speech, "I say," so and 
so, — though he had made it abundantly plain 
before. This is in imitation of the common 
people's way of speaking, or rather of the way 
in which they are addressed by a master or mis- 
tress, who wishes to impress something upon their 
memories ; and has a wonderful effect upon mat- 
ter-of-fact readers. Indeed it is to such prin- 
cipally that he writes. His style is elsewhere 
beautiful, but plain and homely. Robinson Crusoe 
is delightful to all ranks and classes, but it is 
easy to see that it is written in phraseology pecu- 
liarly adapted to the lower conditions of readers : 
hence it is an especial favourite with sea-faring 


men, poor boys, servant-maids, &c. His novels are 
capital kitchen-reading, while they are worthy 
from their deep interest to find a shelf in the 
libraries of the wealthiest, and the most learned. 
His passion for matter-of-fact narrative sometimes 
betrayed him into a long relation of common 
incidents which might happen to any man, and 
have no interest but the intense appearance of 
truth in them, to recommend them. The whole 
latter half, or two-thirds, of Colonel Jack is of this 
description. The beginning of Colonel Jack is the 
most affecting natural picture of a young thief 
that was ever drawn. His losing the stolen money 
in the hollow of a tree, and finding it again 
when he was in despair, and then being in equal 
distress at not knowing how to dispose of it, 
and several similar touches in the early history of 
the Colonel, evince a deep knowledge of human 
nature ; and, putting out of question the superior 
romantic interest of the latter, in my mind very 
much exceed Crusoe. Roxana (first edition) is the 
next in interest, though he left out the best part 
of it in subsequent editions from a foolish hyper- 
criticism of his friend, Southerne. But Moll 
Flanders, the Account of the Plague, &c, &c, are 
all of one family, and have the same stamp of 

Believe me with friendly recollections, Brother 
(as I used to call you), yours, C. Lamb 

The review was not mine, nor have I seen it. 


December 23, 1822. 

Dear Sir, — I have been so distracted with busi- 
ness and one thing or other, I have not had a 
quiet quarter of an hour for epistolatory pur- 
poses. Christmas too is come, which always puts 
a rattle into my morning skull. It is a visiting 
unquiet un-Quakerish season. I get more and 
more in love with solitude, and proportionately 
hampered with company. I hope you have some 
holydays at this period. I have one day, Christ- 
mas-day, alas ! too few to commemorate the 
season. All work and no play dulls me. Com- 
pany is not play, but many times hard work. To 
play, is for a man to do what he pleases, or to do 
nothing — to go about soothing his particular 
fancies. I have lived to a time of life, to have 
outlived the good hours, the nine o'clock sup- 
pers, with a bright hour or two to clear up in 
afterwards. Now you cannot get tea before 
that hour, and then sit gaping, music-bothered 
perhaps, till half-past twelve brings up the tray, 
and what you steal of convivial enjoyment after, 
is heavily paid for in the disquiet of to-morrow's 

I am pleased with your liking 'John Woodvil, 
and amused with your knowledge of our drama 
being confined to Shakspeare and Miss Bailly. 
What a world of fine territory between Land's 
End and Johnny Grots [John O'Groat's] have 


you missed traversing. I almost envy you to have 
so much to read. I feel as if I had read all the 
books I want to read. O to forget Fielding, 
Steele, &c, and read 'em new. 

Can you tell me a likely place where I could 
pick up, cheap, Fox's "Journal ? There are no 
Quaker Circulating Libraries ? Ellwood, too, I 
must have. I rather grudge that Southey has 
taken up the history of your people. I am afraid 
he will put in some levity. I am afraid I am 
not quite exempt from that fault in certain mag- 
azine articles, where I have introduced mention 
of them. Were they to do again, I would reform 

Why should not you write a poetical account 
of your old worthies, deducing them from Fox 
to Woolman ? — but I remember you did talk 
of something in that kind, as a counterpart to 
the Ecclesiastical Sketches. But would not a poem 
be more consecutive than a string of sonnets ? 
You have no martyrs quite to the Fire, I think, 
among you. But plenty of Heroic Confessors, 
Spirit-Martyrs — Lamb-Lions. — Think of it. 

It would be better than a series of Sonnets on 
Eminent Bankers. I like a hit at our way of life, 
tho' it does well for me, better than anything 
short of all one's time to one's self, for which alone 
I rankle with envy at the rich. Books are good, 
and pictures are good, and money to buy them 
therefore good, but to buy time ! in other words, 


The " compliments of the time to you " should 
end my letter; to a Friend I must say the "sincer- 
ity of the season;" I hope they both mean the 
same. With excuses for this hastily penn'd note, 
believe me, with great respect, C. Lamb 


January, 1823. 

Dear Payne, — Your little books are most ac- 
ceptable. 'T is 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 Har- 
wood 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 Chambery. 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 Ellas collected. Tell 
Poole, his Cockney in the London Magazine 
tickled me exceedingly. Harwood is to be with 
us this evening with Fanny, who comes to intro- 
duce 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 Robertson, whose coffers are abso- 
lutely 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 hon- 
oured 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, &c. (not 
her voice or person), is masculine. It is so clever, 
it seemed a male debut. But cleverness is the bane 
of female tragedy especially. Passions uttered 
logically, &c. 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 ? 
By pieces I mean here dramas, to prevent male- 

21 I 

constructions. Did not the Blue Girl remind you 
of some of Congreve's women ? Angelica or 
Millamant ? To me she was a vision of genteel 
comedy realized. Those kind of people never 
come to see one. N'itnporte — havn't I Miss Many 
Things coming ? Will you ask Horace Smith to 
[the remainder of letter /ost.] 


January, 1823. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I beg your acceptance 
of Eli a, detached from any of its old companions 
which might have been less agreeable to you. I 
hope your eyes are better, but if you must spare 
them, there is nothing in my pages which a lady 
may not read aloud without indecorum, which is 
more than can be said of Shakspeare. 

What a nut this last sentence would be for 
Blackwood ! 

You will find I availed myself of your sugges- 
tion, in curtailing the dissertation on Malvolio. 

I have been on the Continent since I saw you. 

I have eaten frogs. 

I saw Monkhouse t'other day, and Mrs. M. 
being too poorly to admit of company, the annual 
goosepie was sent to Russell Street, and with its 
capacity has fed "a hundred head" (not of Aris- 
totle's) but " of Elia's friends." 

Mrs. Monkhouse is sadly confined, but chear- 


This packet is going off, and I have neither 
time, place nor solitude for a longer letter. 

Will you do me the favour to forward the other 
volume to Southey? 

Mary is perfectly well, and joins me in kind- 
est remembrances to you all. 

[Signature cut away.] 


Twelfth Day, 1823. 

The pig was above my feeble praise. It was 
a dear pigmy. There was some contention as 
to who should have the ears, but in spite of his 
obstinacy (deaf as these little creatures are to 
advice) I contrived to get at one of them. 

It came in boots too, which I took as a favour. 
Generally those petty toes, pretty toes ! are miss- 
ing. But I suppose he wore them, to look taller. 

He must have been the least of his race. His 
little foots would have gone into the silver slipper. 
I take him to have been Chinese, and a female. 

If Evelyn could have seen him, he would never 
have farrowed two such prodigious volumes, see- 
ing how much good can be contained in — how 
small a compass ! 

He crackled delicately. 

John Collier, Junior, has sent me a pcem 
which (without the smallest bias from the afore- 
said present, believe me) I pronounce sterling. 


I set about Evelyn, and finished the first volume 
in the course of a natural day. To-day I attack the 
second. — Parts are very interesting. 

I left a blank at top of my letter, not being 
determined which to address it to, so farmer and 
farmer's wife will please to divide our thanks. 
May your granaries be full, and your rats empty, 
and your chickens plump, and your envious neigh- 
bours lean, and your labourers busy, and you as 
idle and as happy as the day is long ! 
Vive l'Agriculture ! 

Frank Field's marriage of course you have 
seen in the papers, and that his brother Barron 
is expected home. 

How do you make your pigs so little ? 
They are vastly engaging at that age. 

I was so myself. 
Now I am a disagreeable old hog — 
A middle-aged-gentleman-and-a-half. 
My faculties, (thank God !) are not much impaired. 

I have my sight, hearing, taste, pretty perfect; and 
can read the Lord's Prayer in common type, by the 
help of a candle, without making many mistakes. 
Believe me, that while my faculties last, I shall 
ever cherish a proper appreciation of your many 
kindnesses in this way ; and that the last lingering 
relish of past flavours upon my dying memory will 
be the smack of that little ear. It was the left ear, 
which is lucky. Many happy returns (not of the 
pig) but of the New Year to both. 


Mary for her share of the pig and the memoirs 
desires to send the same. 

Dear Mr. C. and Mrs. C, yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


January 9, 1823. 

" Throw yourself on the world without any 
rational plan of support, beyond what the chance 
employ of booksellers would afford you " ! ! ! 

Throw yourself rather, my dear Sir, from the 
steep Tarpeian rock, slap-dash headlong upon 
iron spikes. If you had but five consolatory min- 
utes between the desk and the bed, make much 
of them, and live a century in them, rather than 
turn slave to the booksellers. They are Turks 
and Tartars, when they have poor authors at 
their beck. Hitherto you have been at arm's 
length from them. Come not within their grasp. 
I have known many authors for bread, some 
repining, others envying the blessed security of 
a counting house, all agreeing they had rather 
have been taylors, weavers, what not? rather 
than the things they were. I have known some 
starved, some to go mad, one dear friend literally 
dying in a workhouse. You know not what 
a rapacious, dishonest set those booksellers are. 
Ask even Southey, who (a single case almost) 
has made a fortune by book drudgery, what he 
has found them. O you know not, may you 


never know ! the miseries of subsisting by au- 
thorship. 'Tisa pretty appendage to a situation 
like yours or mine, but a slavery worse than 
all slavery to be a bookseller's dependent, to 
drudge your brains for pots of ale and breasts 
of mutton, to change your free thoughts and 
voluntary numbers for ungracious task-work. 
Those fellows hate us. The reason I take to be, 
that, contrary to other trades, in which the mas- 
ter gets all the credit (a jeweller or silversmith 
for instance), and the journeyman, who really 
does the fine work, is in the background, 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 rela- 
tive honesty towards authors, not like his honesty 
to the rest of the world. B[aldwin], who first en- 
gag'd me as Elia, has not paid me up yet (nor 
any of us without repeated mortifying applials), 
yet how the knave fawned while I was of service 
to him ! Yet I dare say the fellow is punctual in 
settling his milk-score, &c. 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 Leaden- 


hall. 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 ? 
Fie, what a superfluity of man's-time, if you could 
think so ! Enough for relaxation, mirth, con- 
verse, poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. O 
the corroding, torturing, tormenting thoughts, 
that disturb the brain of the unlucky wight who 
must draw upon it for daily sustenance ? Hence- 
forth I retract all my fond complaints of mer- 
cantile 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 unharrassing 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, with- 
out blot or dog's ear. You much oblige me by 
this kindness. Yours truly, C. Lamb 

Please to direct to me at India House in future. 
[I am] not always at Russell St. 


January 23, 1823. 

Dear Payne, — I have no mornings (my day 
begins at 5 p. m.) to transact business in, or tal- 
ents for it, so I employ Mary, who has seen Rob- 


ertson, who says that the piece which is to be op- 
erafied 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 
forthcoming. You have received ^30 from Har- 
wood, I hope ? Bishop was at the theatre when 
Mary called, and he has put your other piece into 
C. Kemble's hands (the piece you talk of offering 
Elliston) and C. 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 him on the subject, or shall I — that 
is, Mary ? She says you must write more showable 
letters about these matters, for, with all our trouble 
of crossing out thisword, and giving acleaner 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 


February 2, 1823. 

Dear Ayrton, — The Burneys and Paynes dine 
with us on Wednesday at half-past four. It will 
give us great pleasure (what a canting phrase !) 
In short, lad, will Mrs. A. and your harmonious 
self join them ? Get pen and ink forthwith and 
say so. Yours truly, C. Lamb 



February 9, 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 dis- 
posing of the piece, I will forward it to Paris or elsewhere as you 
think he may prefer. 

Very truly yours, Henry Robertson 

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 ? 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, &c. The music (printed) is re- 
turned 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 Covent Garden, /'. e. 
yesternight late, to my summer residence, where, 
tell Kenney, the cow is quiet. Love to all at Ver- 
sailles. Write quickly. C. L. 

I have no acquaintance with Kemble at all, 
having only met him once or twice; but any in- 
formation, Sec, 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. 


February 17, 1823. 

My dear Sir, — I have read quite through the 
ponderous folio of Gfeorge] F[ox]. I think Sewell 
has been judicious in omitting certain parts, as 
for instance where G.Y.has revealed to him the 
natures of all the creatures in their names, as 
Adam had. He luckily turns aside from that com- 


pendious 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 sus- 
pected from the epitome in Sewell. He is 
nevertheless a great spiritual 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 Wool- 
man. 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 ? 

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 venture to return it to Mr. Shewell at Ips- 
wich ? I fear to send such a treasure by a stage 
coach. Not that I am afraid of the coachman or 
the guard reading it. But it might be lost. Can 
you put me in a way of sending it in safety ? 
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 skipt 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 lye? I once quoted two lines from a trans- 
lation 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 that she should have had to toil thro' five 
octavos of that cursed (I forgot 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 Jesuit's 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 re- 
view 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 


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 mo- 
ther'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 ob- 
jected 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 Falconer 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, 
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. Maybe I may touch offa 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 no- 
thing of him. He is quite new ground, and scarce 
known beyond Crusoe. I do not know who wrote 
Quarll. I never thought of ^uarll 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 ? 
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 assistances 
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. 



March n, 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 cor- 
rect. Carlisle drew no inference from it against 
the honesty of the Quakers, but only in favour of 
their surprising coolness — that they should be 
capable of committing a good joke, with an utter 
insensibility to its being any jest at all. I have rea- 
son 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 bor- 
rowed, from my 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 introduced to 
her. I think I must give up the cause of the bank 
— from nine to nine is galley-slavery, but I hope 
it is but temporary. Your endeavour at explain- 
ing 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 fav- 
ourite. The book shall be forthcoming whenever 
your friend can make convenient to call for it. 

They have dragged me again into the Maga- 
zine, 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 Cole- 
ridges have taken flight, to my regret. With Sara's 
own-made acquisitions, her unaffectedness and no- 
pretensions are beautiful. You might pass an age 
with her without suspecting that she knew any- 
thing but her mother's tongue. I don't mean any 
reflection on Mrs. Coleridge here. I had better 
have said her vernacular idiom. Poor C, 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. Lloyd has been in town a 
day or two on business, and is perfectly well. 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 [Sir Walter Scott] 
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 
^iooa 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. I? 

It is time to have done my incoherencies. Be- 
lieve me, yours truly, C. Lamb 


Cards and cold mutton in Russell Street on 
Friday at eight and nine. 

Gin and jokes from half-past that time to 

Pass this on to Mr. Paine; and apprize Mar- 
tin thereof. 


April 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 writ- 
ing, which makes me an unworthy correspondent. 
I have had no spring, or cordial call to the occu- 
pation 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 Edu- 
cation 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 petu- 
lant remarks, and for a make-shift father'd them 
on Ritson. 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 Antient Music, or as Directors of the British 
Institution, or bequeathing medals to Oxford for 


the best classical themes, &c. — then I shall begin 
to hope they will emancipate you. But what as 
a Society can they do for you ? 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 

I wish'd for you yesterday. I dined in Par- 
nassus, with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Rogers, and 
Tom Moore — half the Poetry of England con- 
stellated and clustered in Gloster Place ! It was 
a delightful even ! 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 Hippocras 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. 



[Moore wrote in his 'Journal: " Dined at Mr. Monkhouse's 
(a gentleman I had never seen before) on Wordsworth's invi- 
tation, who lives there whenever he comes to town. A singular 
party. Coleridge, Rogers, Wordsworth and wife, Charles Lamb 
(the hero at present of the London Magazine) and his sister (the 
poor woman who went mad in a diligence on the way to Paris), 
and a Mr. Robinson, one of the minora sideraof this constellation 
of the Lakes ; the host himself, a Maecenas of the school, con- 
tributing nothing but good dinners and silence. Charles Lamb, 
a clever fellow, certainly, but full of villainous and abortive 
puns, which he miscarries of every minute. Some excellent 
things, however, have come from him." 

Crabb Robinson writes: "April 4th. — Dined at Monk- 
house's. Our party consisted of Wordsworth, Coleridge, 
Lamb, Moore, and Rogers. Five poets of very unequal worth 
and most disproportionate popularity, whom the public prob- 
ably would arrange in the very inverse order, except that it 
would place Moore above Rogers. During this afternoon, 
Coleridge alone displayed any of his peculiar talent. He talked 
much and well. I have not for years seen him in such excel- 
lent health and spirits. His subjects metaphysical criticism — 
Wordsworth he chiefly talked to. Rogers occasionally let fall 
a remark. Moore seemed conscious of his inferiority. He was 
very attentive to Coleridge, but seemed to relish Lamb, whom 
he sat next. Lamb was in a good frame — kept himself within 
bounds and was only cheerful at last. ... I was at the bottom 
of the table, where I very ill performed my part. ... I walked 
home late with Lamb."] 


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 ar- 
rived 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 jfervis, between gay and tender, — 

And other beauties envy Wortley's eyes. 

I '11 be damn'd if that is n'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 miniature piece of gentility 
it is ! Why did you give it me ? 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 Wordsworth 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 ? 

T. Moore asked me your address in a manner 
which made me believe he meant to call upon 

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

C. L. 


April 25, 1823. 

Dear Miss H., — Mary has such an invincible 
reluctance to any epistolary exertion, that I am 
sparing her a mortification by taking the pen from 
her. The plain truth is, she writes such a pimp- 
ing, mean, detestable hand, that she is ashamed 
of the formation of her letters. There is an es- 
sential poverty and abjectnessin the frame of them. 
They look like begging letters. And then she is 
sure to omit a most substantial word in the sec- 
ond draught (for she never ventures an epistle 
without a foul copy first) which is obliged to be 
interlined, which spoils the neatest epistle, you 
know. Her figures, 1 , 2, 3,4, &c, where she has 
occasion to express numerals, as in the date (25 
Apr., 1823), are not figures, but figurantes. And 
the combined posse go staggering up and down 
shameless as drunkards in the day time. It is no 


better when she rules her paper, her lines are 
" not less erring " than her words — a sort of un- 
natural parallel lines, that are perpetually threat- 
ening to meet, which you know is quite contrary 
to Euclid. Her very blots are not bold like this 
[here a bold blot],but poor smears [here a poor smear] 
half left in and half scratched out with another 
smear left in their place. I like a clean letter. 
A bold free hand, and a fearless flourish. Then 
she has always to go thro' them (a second oper- 
ation) to dot her z's, and cross her t's. I don't 
think she can make a corkscrew, if she tried — 
which has such a fine effect at the end or middle 
of an epistle, and fills up. [Here Lamb has made 
a corkscrew two inches long.] There is a corkscrew, 
one of the best I ever drew. By the way, what 
incomparable whiskey that was of Monkhouse's. 
But if I am to write a letter, let me begin, and 
not stand flourishing like a fencer at a fair. 

It gives me great pleasure (the letter now be- 
gins) to hear that you got down smoothly, and 
that Mrs. Monkhouse's spirits are so good and 
enterprising. It shews, whatever her posture may 
be, that her mind at least is not supine. I hope 
the excursion will enable the former to keep pace 
with its out-stripping neighbour. Pray present our 
kindest wishes to her, and all. (That sentence 
should properly have come in the Postscript, but 
we airy mercurial spirits, there is no keeping us 
in.) Time — as was said of one of us — toils 
after us in vain. I am afraid our co-visit with 


Coleridge was a dream. I shall not get away 
before the end (or middle) of June, and then you 
will be frog-hopping at Boulogne. And besides 
I think the Gilmans would scarce trust him with 
us, I have a malicious knack at cutting of apron- 
strings. The Saints' days you speak of have long 
since fled to heaven, with Astraea, and the cold 
piety of the age lacks fervour to recall them — 
only Peter left his key — the iron one of the two, 
that shuts amain — and that 's the reason I am 
lock'd up. Meanwhile of afternoons we pick up 
primroses at Dalston, and Mary corrects me when 
I call 'em cowslips. God bless you all, and pray 
remember me euphoniously to Mr. Gnwellegan. 
That Lee Priory must be a dainty bower, is it 
built of flints, and does it stand at Kingsgate ? 


No date. 

Apropos of birds, — the other day at a large 
dinner, being call'd upon for a toast, I gave, as 
the best toast I knew, "Woodcock toast," which 
was drunk with three cheers. 

Yours affectionately, C. Lamb 



It is hard when a gentleman cannot remain 
concealed, who affecteth obscurity with greater 


avidity than most do seek to have their good deeds 
brought to light ; to have a prying inquisitive 
finger (to the danger of its own scorching) busied 
in removing the little peck measure (scripturally 
a bushel) under which one had hoped to bury his 
small candle. The receipt of fern-seed, I think, 
in this curious age, would scarce help a man to 
walk invisible. 

Well, I am discovered — and thou thyself, 
who thoughtest to shelter under the pease-cod of 
initiality (a stale and shallow device), art no less 
dragged to light — Thy slender anatomy — thy 

skeletonian D fleshed and sinewed out to 

the plump expansion of six characters — thy 
tuneful genealogy deduced — 

By the way, what a name is Timothy ! 

Lay it down, I beseech thee, and in its place 
take up the properer sound of Timotheus. 

Then mayst thou with unblushing fingers 
handle the lyre "familiar to the D n name." 

With much difficulty have I traced thee to thy 
lurking-place. Many a goodly name did I run 
over, bewildered between Dorrien, and Doxat, 
and Dover, and Dakin, and Daintry — a wilder- 
ness of D's — till at last I thought I had hit it — 
my conjectures wandering upon a melancholy 
Jew — you wot the Israelite upon Change — Mas- 
ter Daniels — a contemplative Hebrew — to the 
which guess I was the rather led, by the consid- 
eration that most of his nation are great readers. 

Nothing is so common as to see them in the 

2 35 

Jews' Walk, with a bundle of script in one hand, 
and the Man of Feeling, or a volume of Sterne, in 
the other. 

I am a rogue if I can recollect what manner 
of face thou carriest, though thou seemest so 
familiar with mine. If I remember, thou didst 
not dimly resemble the man Daniels, whom at 
first I took thee for — a care-worn, mortified, 
economical, commercio-political countenance, 
with an agreeable limp in thy gait, if Elia mis- 
take thee not. I think I should shake hands with 
thee, if I met thee. 


[John Bates Dibdin, the son of Charles Dibdin the younger 
and grandson of the great Charles Dibdin, was at this time a 
young man of about twenty-four, engaged as a clerk in a ship- 
ping office in the city. I borrow from Canon Ainger an inter- 
esting letter from a sister of Dibdin on the beginning of the 
correspondence : 

" My brother had . . . constant occasion to conduct the 
giving or taking of cheques, as it might be, at the India House. 
There he always selected ' the little clever man ' in prefer- 
ence to the other clerks. At that time the Elia Essays were 
appearing in print. No one had the slightest conception who 
1 Elia ' was. He was talked of everywhere, and everybody 
was trying to find him out, but without success. At last, from 
the style and manner of conveying his ideas and opinions on 
different subjects, my brother began to suspect that Lamb was 
the individual so widely sought for, and wrote some lines to 
him, anonymously, sending them by post to his residence, with 
the hope of sifting him on the subject. Although Lamb could 
not know who sent him the lines, yet he looked very hard at 
the writer of them the next time they met, when he walked up, 
as usual, to Lamb's desk in the most unconcerned manner, to 
transact the necessary business. Shortly after, when they were 

2 3 6 

again in conversation, something dropped from Lamb's lips 
which convinced his hearer, beyond a doubt, that his sus- 
picions were correct. He therefore wrote some more lines 
(anonymously, as before), beginning, — 

I 've found thee out, O Elia ! 

and sent them to Colbrook Row. The consequence was that 
at their next meeting Lamb produced the lines, and after much 
laughing, confessed himself to be Elia. This led to a warm 
friendship between them." 

Dibdin's letter of discovery was signed D. Hence Lamb's 
fumbling after his Christian name, which he probably knew 
all the time. — E. V. Lucas.] 


May 3, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — I am vexed to be two letters in 
your debt, but I have been quite out of the vein 
lately. A philosophical treatise is wanting, of 
the causes of the backwardness with which per- 
sons after a certain time of life set about writing 
a letter. I always feel as if I had nothing to say, 
and the performance generally justifies the pre- 
sentiment. Taylor and Hessey did foolishly in 
not admitting the sonnet. Surely it might have 
followed the B. B. 

I agree with you in thinking Bowring's paper 
better than the former. I will inquire about my 
Letter to the Old Gentleman, but I expect it to 
go in, after those to the Young Gentleman are 
completed. I do not exactly see why the Goose 
and little Goslings should emblematize a Quaker 
poet that has no children. But after all — perhaps it 

2 37 

is a Pelican. The Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin 
around it I cannot decypher. The songster of 
the night pouring out her effusions amid a silent 
Meeting of Madge Owlets, would be at least 

A full pause here comes upon me, as if I had 
not a word more left. I will shake my brain. 
Once — twice — nothing comes up. George Fox 
recommends waiting on these occasions. I wait. 
Nothing comes. G. Fox — that sets me off again. 
I have finished the Journal, and four hundred 
more pages of the Doctrinals, which I picked up 
for js. td. If I get on at this rate, the Society 
will be in danger of having two Quaker poets — 
to patronise. I am at Dalston now, but if, when 
I go back to Covent Garden I find thy friend has 
not call'd for the Journal, thee must put me in 
a way of sending it; and if it should happen that 
the lender of it, having that volume, has not the 
other, I shall be most happy in his accepting the 
Doctrinals, which I shall read but once certainly. 
It is not a splendid copy, but perfect, save a leaf 
of index. 

I cannot but think the London drags heavily. 
I miss Janus. And O how it misses Hazlitt ! 
Procter too is affronted (as Janus has been) with 
their abominable curtailment of his things — 
some meddling editor or other — or phantom of 
one — for neither he nor Janus know their busy 
friend. But they always find the best part cut 
out ; and they have done well to cut also. I am 


not so fortunate as to be served in this manner, 
for I would give a clean sum of money in sincerity 
to leave them handsomely. But the dogs — 
T. and H. I mean — will not affront me, and 
what can I do ? must I go on to drivelling ? Poor 
Relations is tolerable — but where shall I get 
another subject — or who shall deliver me from 
the body of this death ? I assure you it teases me 
more than it used to please me. 

Ch. Lloyd has published a sort of Quaker poem, 
he tells me, and that he has order'd me a copy, but 
I have not got it. Have you seen it ? I must leave 
a little wafer space, which brings me to an apo- 
logy for a conclusion. I am afraid of looking 
back, for I feel all this while I have been writing 
nothing, but it may show I am alive. Believe 
me, cordially yours, C. Lamb 


May 6, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — Your verses were very pleasant, 
and I shall like to see more of them — I do not 
mean addressed to me. 

I do not know whether you live in town or 
country, but if it suits your convenience I shall be 
glad to see you some evening — say Thursday — 
at 20 Great Russell Street, Covent Garden. If 
you can come, do not trouble yourself to write. 
We are old fashion'd people who drink tea at six, 
or not much later, and give cold mutton and 


pickle at nine, the good old hour. I assure you 
(if it suit you) we shall be glad to see you. 

My love to Mr. Railton. The same to Mr. 
Rankin, to the whole Firm indeed. 

Yours, &c, C. Lamb 


May 19, 1823 

Dear Sir, — I have been very agreeably en- 
tertained with your present, which I found very 
curious and amusing. What wiseacres our fore- 
fathers appear to have been ! It should make 
us thankful, who are grown so rational and polite. 
I should call to thank you for the book, but go 
home to Dalston at present. I shall beg your 
acceptance (when I see you) of my little book. 
I have Ray's Collections of English Words not gener- 
ally Used, 1 69 1 ; and in page 60 ("North Coun- 
try words ") occurs " Rynt ye" — " by your 
leave," " stand handsomely." As, " Rynt you, 
witch," quoth Besse Locket to her mother ; 
Proverb, Cheshire. — Doubtless this is the 
"Aroint" of Shakspeare. 

In the same collection I find several Shaksper- 
isms. "Rooky" wood: a Northern word for 
" reeky," " misty," &c. " Shandy," a North 
Country word for "wild." Sterne was York. 
Your obliged, C. Lamb 

I am at 14 Kingsland Row, Dalston. Will 


you take a walk over on Sunday ? We dine 
exactly at four, and shall be most glad to see you. 
If I don't hear from you (by note to East India 
House) I will expect you. 


June 18, 1823. 

My dear Friend, — Day after day has passed 
away, and my brother has said, " I will write to 
Mrs. [ ? Mr.] Norris to-morrow," and therefore 
I am resolved to write to Mrs. Norris to-day, and 
trust him no longer. We took our places for 
Sevenoaks, intending to remain there all night 
in order to see Knole, but when we got there we 
chang'd our minds, and went on to Tunbridge 
Wells. About a mile short of the Wells the coach 
stopped at a little inn, and I saw, " Lodgings to 
let " on a little, very little house opposite. I ran 
over the way, and secured them before the coach 
drove away, and we took immediate possession : 
it proved a very comfortable place, and we re- 
mained there nine days. The first evening, as 
we were wandering about, we met a lady, the 
wife of one of the India House clerks, with 
whom we had been slightly acquainted some 
years ago, which slight acquaintance has been 
ripened into a great intimacy during the nine 
pleasant days that we passed at the Wells. She 
and her two daughters went with us in an open 


chaise to Knole, and as the chaise held only five, 
we mounted Miss James upon a little horse, 
which she rode famously. I was very much 
pleased with Knole, and still more with Penshurst, 
which we also visited. We saw Frant and the 
Rocks, and made much use of your Guide Book, 
only Charles lost his way once going by the 
map. We were in constant exercise the whole 
time, and spent our time so pleasantly that when 
we came here on Monday we missed our new 
friends and found ourselves very dull. We are by 
the seaside in a still less house, and we have 
exchanged a very pretty landlady for a very ugly 
one, but she is equally attractive to us. We eat 
turbot, and we drink smuggled Hollands, and we 
walk up hill and down hill all day long. In the 
little intervals of rest that we allow ourselves I 
teach Miss James French ; she picked up a few 
words during her foreign tour with us, and she 
has had a hankering after it ever since. 

We came from Tunbridge Wells in a post- 
chaise, and would have seen Battle Abbey on 
the way, but it is only shewn on a Monday. We 
are trying to coax Charles into a Monday's excur- 
sion. And Bexhill we are also thinking about. 
Yesterday evening we found out by chance the 
most beautiful view I ever saw. It is called " The 
Lovers' Seat." . . . You have been here, there- 
fore you must have seen [it, or] is it only Mr. 
and Mrs. Faint who have visited Hastings ? [Tell 
Mrs.] Faint that though in my haste to get 


housed I d[ecided on] . . . ice's lodgings, yet 
it comforted all th . . . to know that I had a 
place in view. 

I suppose you are so busy that it is not fair 
to ask you to write me a line to say how you 
are going on. Yet if any one of you have half 
an hour to spare for that purpose, it will be most 
thankfully received. Charles joins with me in 
love to you all together, and to each one in par- 
ticular upstairs and downstairs. 

Yours most affectionately, M. Lamb 


July 10, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — I shall be happy to read the MS. 
and to forward it ; but T. and H. must judge 
for themselves of publication. If it prove inter- 
esting (as I doubt not) I shall not spare to say so, 
you may depend upon it. Suppose you direct it 
to Accountant's Office, India House. 

I am glad you have met with some sweeten- 
ing circumstances to your unpalatable draught. 
I have just returned from Hastings, where are 
exquisite views and walks, and where I have 
given up my soul to walking, and I am now suf- 
fering sedentary contrasts. I am a long time re- 
conciling to town after one of these excursions. 
Home is become strange, and will remain so 
yet a while. Home is the most unforgiving of 
friends and always resents absence ; I know its 


old cordial looks will return, but they are slow 
in clearing up. That is one of the features of this 
our galley slavery, that peregrination ended makes 
things worse. I felt out of water (with all the 
sea about me) at Hastings, and just as I had 
learned to domiciliate there, I must come back 
to find a home which is no home. I abused 
Hastings, but learned its value. There are spots, 
inland bays, &c, which realise the notions of 
Juan Fernandez. 

The best thing I lit upon by accident was a 
small country church (by whom or when built 
unknown) standing bare and single in the midst 
of a grove, with no house or appearance of hab- 
itation within a quarter of a mile, only passages 
diverging from it thro' beautiful woods to so many 
farm houses. There it stands, like the first idea 
of a church, before parishioners were thought 
of, nothing but birds for its congregation, or 
like a hermit's oratory (the hermit dead), or a 
mausoleum, its effect singularly impressive, like 
a church found in a desert isle to startle Crusoe 
with a home image; you must make out a vicar 
and a congregation from fancy, for surely none 
come there. Yet it wants not its pulpit, and 
its font, and all the seemly additaments of our 

Southey has attacked Elia on the score of 
infidelity, in the Quarterly, article, Progress of In- 
fidels {Infidelity}. I had not, nor have, seen 
the Monthly. He might have spared an old friend 


such a construction of a few careless flights, that 
meant no harm to religion. If all his un- 
guarded expressions on the subject were to be 
collected — 

But I love and respect Southey, and will not 
retort. I hate his review, and his being a re- 

The hint he has dropp'd will knock the sale 
of the book on the head, which was almost at 
a stop before. 

Let it stop. There is corn in Egypt, while 
there is cash at Leadenhall. You and I are some- 
thing besides being writers, thank God. 

Yours truly, C. L. 


[In an article in the Quarterly for January, 1823, in a review 
of a work by Gregoire on Deism in France, under the title 
The Progress of Infidelity, Southey had a reference to Elia in 
the following terms : " Unbelievers have not always been hon- 
est enough thus to express their real feelings ; but this we know 
concerning them, that when they have renounced their birth- 
right of hope, they have not been able to divest themselves of 
fear. From the nature of the human mind this might be pre- 
sumed, and in fact it is so. They may deaden the heart and 
stupefy the conscience, but they cannot destroy the imaginative 
faculty. There is a remarkable proof of this in Elia's Essays, 
a book which wants only a sounder religious feeling, to be as 
delightful as it is original." 

" I will not retort." Lamb, as we shall see, changed his 

" Almost at a stop before." Elia was never popular until 
long after Lamb's death. It did not reach a second edition 
until 1 836. There are now several new editions every year. — 
E. V. Lucas.] 



September 2, 1823. 

Dear B. B., — What will you say to my not 
writing ? You cannot say I do not write now. 
Hessey has not used your kind sonnet, nor have 
I seen it. Pray send me a copy. Neither have 
I heard any more of your friend's MS., which I 
will reclaim, whenever you please. When you 
come London-ward you will find me no longer 
in Covent Garden. I have a cottage, in Colebrook 
Row, Islington. A cottage, for it is detach'd ; a 
white house, with six good rooms; the New River 
(rather elderly by this time) runs (if a moderate 
walking pace can be so termed) close to the foot 
of the house ; and behind is a spacious garden, 
with vines (I assure you), pears, strawberries, par- 
snips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart 
of old Alcinoiis. You enter without passage into 
a cheerful dining-room, all studded over and rough 
with old books, and above is a lightsome draw- 
ing-room, three windows, full of choice prints. I 
feel like a great Lord, never having had a house 

The London I fear falls off. I linger among its 
creaking rafters, like the last rat. It will topple 
down, if they don't get some buttresses. They have 
pull'd down three. W. Hazlitt, Proctor, and their 
best stay, kind light-hearted Wainwright — their 
Janus. The best is, neither of our fortunes is 
concern'd in it. 


I heard of you from Mr. Pulham this morning, 
and that gave a fillip to my laziness, which has 
been intolerable. But I am so taken up with 
pruning and gardening, quite a new sort of occu- 
pation to me. I have gather'd my jargonels, but 
my Windsor pears are backward. The former 


were of exquisite raciness. I do now sit under my 
own vine, and contemplate the growth of vege- 
table nature. I can now understand in what sense 
they speak of father Adam. I recognise the 
paternity, while I watch my tulips. I almost fell 
with him, for the first day I turned a drunken 
gard'ner (as he let in the serpent) into my Eden, 
and he laid about him, lopping off some choice 
boughs, &c, which hung over from a neigh- 
bour's garden, and in his blind zeal laid waste 
a shade, which had sheltered their window from 
the gaze of passers-by. The old gentlewoman 
(fury made her not handsome) could scarcely be 
reconciled by all my fine words. There was no 
buttering her parsnips. She talk'd of the law. 
What a lapse to commit on the first day of my 
happy " garden-state." 

I hope you transmitted the Fox-Journal to its 
owner with suitable thanks. 

Mr. Cary, the Dante-man, dines with me to- 
day. He is a model of a country parson, lean (as a 
curate ought to be), modest, sensible, no obtruder 
of church dogmas, quite a different man from 
Southey : you would like him. 

Pray accept this for a letter, and believe me, 
with sincere regards, 

Yours, C. L. 



September 6, 1823. 

Dear Allsop, — I am snugly seated at the cot- 
tage ; Mary is well but weak, and comes home on 
Monday ; she will soon be strong enough to see 
her friends here. In the mean time will you dine 
with me at half-past four to-morrow ? Ayrton 
and Mr. Burney are coming. 

Colebrook Cottage, left hand side, end of Cole- 
brook Row on the western brink of the New 
River, a detach' d whitish house. 

No answer is required, but come if you can. 

C. Lamb 

I call'd on you on Sunday. Respects to Mrs. 
A. and boy. 


September 9, 1823. 

My dear A., — I am going to ask you to do 
me the greatest favour which a man can do to 
another. I want to make my will, and to leave 
my property in trust for my sister. N. B. I am 
not therefore going to die. — Would it be un- 
pleasant for you to be named for one? The other 
two I shall beg the same favour of are Talfourd 
and Proctor. If you feel reluctant, tell me, and 
it sha'n't abate one jot of my friendly feeling 
toward you. Yours ever, C. Lamb 



September 10, 1823. 

My dear A., — Your kindness in accepting 
my request no words of mine can repay. It has 
made you overflow into some romance which 
I should have check'd at another time. I hope 
it may be in the scheme of Providence that my 
sister may go first (if ever so little a precedence), 
myself next, and my good executors survive to 
remember us with kindness many years. God 
bless you. 

I will set Proctor about the will forthwith. 

C. Lamb 


September 16, 1823. 

My dear Allsop, — I thank you for thinking 
of my recreation. But I am best here — I feel 
I am; I have tried town lately, but came back 
worse. Here I must wait till my loneliness has its 
natural cure. Besides that, though I am not very 
sanguine, yet I live in hopes of better news from 
Fulham, and cannot be out of the way. 'T is ten 
weeks to-morrow. — I saw Mary a week since ; 
she was in excellent bodily health, but otherwise 
far from well. But a week or so may give a turn. 
Love to Mrs. A. and children, and fair weather 
accompany you. C. L. 



September, 1823. 

Dear A., — Your cheese is the best I ever 
tasted; Mary will tell you so hereafter. She is 
at home, but has disappointed me. She has gone 
back rather than improved. However, she has 
sense enough to value the present, for she is 
greatly fond of Stilton. Yours is the delicatest 
rainbow-hued melting piece I ever flavoured. 
Believe me, I took it the more kindly, following 
so great a kindness. 

Depend upon 't, yours shall be one of the first 
houses we shall present ourselves at, when we 
have got our bill of health. 

Being both yours and Mrs. Allsop's truly, 

C. L. & M. L. 


Dear Allsop, — Send me our account ; at all 
events be sure and send me your bill against the 
Westwoods; I wish to have both, but specially 
the latter. Show me you can be punctual. 

With best loves to Mrs. Allsop, and hopes that 
you got home comfortably, yours, C. L. 

I want the account that when you come again 
we may have no business (pronounced bissnis) to 



Dear A., — To-morrow, if you please, at four. 
I walk all the morning, but come home hungry 
to dinner, as I hope to find you both. 

Yours ever, C. L. 


Dear Allsop, — You left me, as you thought, 
divers prospectuses, but all of them except one 
(which I have parted with) — I mean the small 
or general prospectus on the quarter of a sheet — 
have only the last six lines, and what goes before 
is unprinted paper. 

So send me by post some real ones, and I '11 
forward it with Stoddart as warmly as I can. 

C. L. 

Send me of both sorts, tho' I have one of the 
larger (the detailed) left. 


September 17, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — I have again been reading your 
stanzas on Bloomfield, which are the most ap- 
propriate that can be imagined, sweet with Doric 
delicacy. I like that, — 

Our more chaste Theocritus, — 

just hinting at the fault of the Grecian. I love 

that stanza ending with, — 

Words, phrases, fashions, pass away ; 
But Truth and Nature live through all. 

But I shall omit in my own copy the one 
stanza which alludes to Lord B. — I suppose. It 
spoils the sweetness and oneness of the feeling. 
Cannot we think of Burns, or Thompson, 
without sullying the thought with a reflection 
out of place upon Lord Rochester? These 
verses might have been inscribed upon a tomb ; 
are in fact an epitaph ; satire does not look pretty 
upon a tombstone. Besides, there is a quotation 
in it, always bad in verse; seldom advisable in 

I doubt if their having been in a Paper will 
not prevent T. and H. from insertion, but I shall 
have a thing to send in a day or two, and shall 
try them. Omitting that stanza, a very little alter- 
ation is wanting in the beginning of the next. 
You see, I use freedom. How happily (I flatter 
not!) you have brought in his subjects; and (7 
suppose), his favourite measure, though I am not 
acquainted with any of his writings but the 
Farmer's Boy. He dined with me once, and his 
manners took me exceedingly. 

I rejoyce that you forgive my long silence. 
I continue to estimate my own-roof comforts 
highly. How could I remain all my life a lodg- 
er ! My garden thrives (I am told) tho' I have 
yet reaped nothing but some tiny salad, and 

2 53 

withered carrots. But a garden 's a garden any- 
where, and twice a garden in London. 

Somehow I cannot relish that word Horkey. 
Cannot you supply it by circumlocution, and di- 
rect the reader by a note to explain that it means 
the Horkey. But Horkey choaks me in the text. 
It raises crowds of mean associations, Hawking 

and sp g, Gauky, Stalky, Maukin. The 

sound is everything, in such dulcet modulations 
'specially. I like, — 

Gilbert Meldrum's sterner tones; 

without knowing who Gilbert Meldrum is. You 
have slipt in your rhymes as if they grew there, so 
natural-artificially, or artificial-naturally . There 's 
a vile phrase. 

Do you go on with your Quaker Sonnets — 
[to] have 'em ready with Southey's Book of the 
Church ? I meditate a letter to S. in the London, 
which perhaps will meet the fate of the Sonnet. 
[The letter was published the following October^ 

Excuse my brevity, for I write painfully at 
office, liable to a hundred callings off. And 
I can never sit down to an epistle elsewhere. I 
read or walk. If you return this letter to the 
post-office, I think they will return fourpence, 
seeing it is but half a one. Believe me, tho', 
entirely yours, C. L. 



Autumn, 1823. 

Your lines are not to be understood reading 
on one leg. They are sinuous, and to be won with 
wrestling. I assure you in sincerity that nothing 
you have done has given me greater satisfaction. 
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 po- 
etry 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 



October 4, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — Will Mrs. A. and you dine with 
us to-morrow at half-past three ? Do not think 
of troubling yourself to send (if you cannot come), 
as we shall provide only a goose (which is in the 
house), and your not coming will make no dif- 
ference in our arrangements. 

Your obliged, C. Lamb 


October 14, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — If convenient, will you give us 
house room on Saturday next ? I can sleep any- 
where. If another Sunday suit you better, pray 
let me know. We were talking of roast shoulder 
of mutton with onion sauce ; but I scorn to pre- 
scribe to the hospitalities of mine host. With 
respects to Mrs. C, yours truly, C. Lamb 


October, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — Mary has got a cold, and the 
nights are dreadful ; but at the first indication of 
spring [alias the first dry weather in November 
early) it is our intention to surprise you early 
some evening. 

Believe me, most truly yours, C. L. 


Mary regrets very much Mrs. Allsop's fruitless 
visit. It made her swear ! She was gone to visit 
Miss Hutchinson, whom she found out. 


October 28, 1823. 

My dear Sir, — Your pig was a picture of a 
pig, and your picture a pig of a picture. The 
former was delicious but evanescent, like a hearty 
fit of mirth, or the crackling of thorns under a 
pot ; but the latter is an idea, and abideth. I never 
before saw swine upon satin. And then that 
pretty strawy canopy about him ! he seems to 
purr (rather than grunt) his satisfaction. Such 
a gentlemanlike porker too ! Morland's are ab- 
solutely clowns to it. Who the deuce painted 
it ? 

I have ordered a little gilt shrine for it, and 
mean to wear it for a locket ; a shirt-pig. 

I admire the petty-toes shrouded in a veil of 
something, not mud, but that warm soft consist- 
ency with [which] the dust takes in Elysium 
after a spring shower — it perfectly engloves 

I cannot enough thank you and your country 
friend for the delicate double present — the utile 
et decorum — three times have I attempted to 
write this sentence and failed ; which shows that 
I am not cut out for a pedant. 

Sir, — (as I say to Southey) will you come and 
257 " 

see us at our poor cottage of Colebrook to tea 
to-morrow evening, as early as six ? I have some 
friends coming at that hour. 

The panoply which covered your material pig 
shall be forthcoming. The pig pictorial, with 
its trappings, domesticate with me. 

Your greatly obliged, Elia 


November 7. 

Dear Allsop, — Our dinner hour on Sundays 
is four, at which we shall be most happy to see 
Mrs. A. and yourself — I mean next Sunday, but 
I also mean any Sunday. Pray come. I am up 
to my very ears in business, but pray come. 
Yours most sincerely, C. L. 


Early November, 1823. 

Dear Mrs. H., — Sitting down to write a letter 
is such a painful operation to Mary, that you 
must accept me as her proxy. You have seen 
our house. What I now tell you is literally true. 
Yesterday week, George Dyer called upon us, at 
one o'clock [bright noonday\ on his way to dine 
with Mrs. Barbauld at Newington. He sat with 
Mary about half an hour, and took leave. The 
maid saw him go out from her kitchen window ; 
but suddenly losing sight of him, ran up in a 


fright to Mary. G. D., instead of keeping the 
slip that leads to the gate, had deliberately, staff 
in hand, in broad open day, marched into the 
New River. He had not his spectacles on, and 
you know his absence. Who helped him out, 
they can hardly tell ; but between 'em they got 
him out, drenched thro' and thro'. A mob 
collected by that time, and accompanied him in. 
" Send for the Doctor ! " they said : and a one-eyed 
fellow, dirty and drunk, was fetched from the 
public house at the end, where it seems he lurks, 
for the sake of picking up water practice, having 
formerly had a medal from the Humane Society 
for some rescue. By his advice, the patient was 
put between blankets ; and when I came home 
at four to dinner, I found G. D. a-bed, and raving, 
light-headed with the brandy and water which 
the doctor had administered. He sung, laughed, 
whimpered, screamed, babbled of guardian angels, 
would get up and go home ; but we kept him 
there by force ; and by next morning he de- 
parted sobered, and seems to have received no 
injury. All my friends are open-mouthed about 
having paling before the river, but I cannot see 
that, because a lunatic chooses to walk into a 
river with his eyes open at midday, I am any the 
more likely to be drowned in it, coming home 
at midnight. 

I had the honour of dining at the Mansion 
House on Thursday last, by special card from the 
Lord Mayor, who never saw my face, nor I his ; 


and all from being a writer in a magazine ! The 
dinner costly, served on massy plate, cham- 
pagne, pines, &c. ; forty-seven present, among 
whom the Chairman and two other directors of 
the India Company. There 's for you ! and got 
away pretty sober ! Quite saved my credit ! 

We continue to like our house prodigiously. 
Does Mary Hazlitt go on with her novel, or has 
she begun another ? I would not discourage her, 
tho' we continue to think it (so far) in its present 
state not saleable. 

Our kind remembrances to her and hers and 
you and yours. Yours truly, C. Lamb 

I am pleased that H. liked my letter to the 


November 12, 1823. 

Dear Mrs. S., — Our friends from Shacklewell 
drink tea on Saturday at six ; we shall have much 
pleasure in your joining them. 

Yours truly, [Signature cut off.} 

G. Dyer walk'd into the New River on Sun- 
day week at one o'clock in the daytime ! with 
his eyes open. Mind how you come. 



November 21, 1823. 

Dear Southey, — The kindness of your note 
has melted away the mist which was upon me. 
I have been fighting against a shadow. That 
accursed Quarterly Review had vexed me by a 
gratuitous speaking, of its own knowledge, that 
the Confessions of a Drunkard was a genuine de- 
scription of the state of the writer. Little things, 
that are not ill meant, may produce much ill. 
That might have injured me alive and dead. I am 
in a public office, and my life is insured. I was 
prepared for anger, and I thought I saw, in a few 
obnoxious words, a hard case of repetition di- 
rected against me. I wished both magazine and 
review at the bottom of the sea. I shall be 
ashamed to see you, and my sister (though inno- 
cent) will be still more so ; for the folly was done 
without her knowledge, and has made her uneasy 
ever since. My guardian angel was absent at that 

I will muster up courage to see you, however, 
any day next week (Wednesday excepted). We 
shall hope that you will bring Edith with you. 
That will be a second mortification. She will 
hate to see us ; but come and heap embers. We 
deserve it, I for what I 've done, and she for being 
my sister. 

Do come early in the day, by sunlight, that 
you may see my Milton. 


I am at Colebrook Cottage, Colebrook Row, 
Islington. A detached whitish house, close to 
the New River, end of Colebrook Terrace, left 
hand from Sadler's Wells. 

Will you let me know the day before ? 

Your penitent, C. Lamb 

P. S. — I do not think your handwriting at all 
like Hunt's. I do not think many things I did 


[The following is Southey's letter which had " melted away 
the mist : " 

My dear Lamb, — On Monday I saw your letter in the London Maga- 
zine which I had not before had an opportunity of seeing, and I now take 
the first interval of leisure for replying to it. 

Nothing could be further from my mind than any intention or appre- 
hension of any way offending or injuring a man concerning whom I have 
never spoken, thought, or felt otherwise than with affection, esteem, and 

If you had let me know in any private or friendly manner that you felt 
wounded by a sentence in which nothing but kindness was intended — or 
that you found it might injure the sale of your book — I would most read- 
ily and gladly have inserted a note in the next Review to qualify and 
explain what had hurt you. 

You have made this impossible, and I am sorry for it. But I will not 
engage in controversy with you to make sport for the Philistines. 

The provocation must be strong indeed that can rouse me to do this, 
even with an enemy. And if you can forgive an unintended offence 
as heartily as I do the way in which you have resented it, there will be 
nothing to prevent our meeting as we have heretofore done, and feeling 
towards each other as we have always been wont to do. 

Only signify a correspondent willingness on your part, and send me your 
address, and my first business next week shall be to reach your door, and 
shake hands with you and your sister. Remember me to her most kindly 
and believe me — Yours, with unabated esteem and regards, 

Robert Southey 

Thus the matter closed and no hostility remained on either 
side. — Ed.] 



November 22, 1823. 

Dear B. B., — I am ashamed at not acknow- 
ledging your kind little poem, which I must needs 
like much, but I protest I thought I had done it 
at the moment. Is it possible a letter has miscar- 
ried ? Did you get one in which I sent you an ex- 
tract from the poems of Lord Sterling ? I should 
wonder if you did, for I sent you none such. There 
was an incipient lye strangled in the birth. Some 
people's conscience is so tender ! But in plain truth 
I thank you very much for the verses. I have a 
very kind letter from the Laureat, with a self-in- 
vitation to come and shake hands with me. This 
is truly handsome and noble. 'T is worthy of my 
old idea of Southey. Shall not I, think you, be cov- 
ered with a red suffusion ? 

You are too much apprehensive of your com- 
plaint. I know many that are always ailing of it, 
and live on to a good old age. I know a merry 
fellow (you partly know him) who when his med- 
ical adviser told him he had drunk away all that 
part, congratulated himself (now his liver was 
gone) that he should be the longest liver of the 
two. The best way in these cases is to keep yourself 
as ignorant as you can — as ignorant as the world 
was before Galen — of the entire inner construc- 
tion of the animal man — not to be conscious of 
a midriff — to hold kidneys (save of sheep and 
swine) to be an agreeable fiction — not to know 


whereabout the gall grows — to account the cir- 
culation of the blood an idle whimsey of Harvey's 
— to acknowledge no mechanism not visible. 
For, once fix the seat of your disorder, and your 
fancies flux into it like bad humours. Those med- 
ical gentries chuse each his favourite part — one 
takes the lungs — another the aforesaid liver — 
and refer to that whatever in the animal economy 
is amiss. Above all, use exercise, take a little more 
spirituous liquors, learn to smoke, continue to 
keep a good conscience, and avoid tampering 
with hard terms of art — viscosity, schirossity, 
and those bugbears, by which simple patients are 
scared into their grave. Believe the general sense 
of the mercantile world, which holds that desks 
are not deadly. It is the mind, good B. B., and 
not the limbs, that taints by long sitting. Think 
of the patience of taylors — think how long the 
Chancellor sits — think of the brooding hen. 

I protest I cannot answer thy sister's kind 
enquiry, but I judge I shall put forth no second 
volume. More praise than buy, and T. and H. 
are not particularly disposed for martyrs. 

Thou wilt see a funny passage, and yet a true 
History, of George Dyer's Aquatic Incursion, in 
the next London. Beware his fate, when thou 
comest to see me at my Colebrook Cottage. I 
have filled my little space with my little thoughts. 
I wish thee ease on thy sofa, but not too much 
indulgence on it. From my poor desk, thy fel- 
low-sufferer this bright November, C. L. 



December 9, 1823. 

(If I had time I would go over this letter again, 
and dot all my z's.) 

Dear Sir, — I should have thanked you for your 
books and compliments sooner, but have been 
waiting for a revise to be sent, which does not 
come, tho' I returned the proof on the receipt 
of your letter. I have read Warner with great 
pleasure. What an elaborate piece of alliteration 
and antithesis ! why it must have been a labour 
far above the most difficult versification. There 
is a fine simile of or picture of Semiramis arming 
to repel a siege. I do not mean to keep the book, 
for I suspect you are forming a curious collection, 
and I do not pretend to anything of the kind. I 
have not a black-letter book among mine, old 
Chaucer excepted, and am not bibliomanist 
enough to like black-letter. It is painful to read. 
Therefore I must insist on returning it at oppor- 
tunity, not from contumacity and reluctance to 
be oblig'd, but because it must suit you better 
than me. The loss of a present from should never 
exceed the gain of a present to. I hold this maxim 
infallible in the accepting line. I read your mag- 
azines with satisfaction. I throughly agree with 
you as to the German Faust, as far [as] I can do 
justice to it from an English translation. 'T is 
a disagreeable canting tale of seduction, which 
has nothing to do with the spirit of Faustus — 


curiosity. Was the dark secret to be explored 
to end in the seducing of a weak girl, which 
might have been accomplished by earthly agency ? 
When Marlow gives his Faustus a mistress, he flies 
him at Helen, flower of Greece, to be sure, and 
not at Miss Betsy, or Miss Sally Thoughtless. 

Cut is the branch that bore the goodly fruit, 
And wither'd is Apollo's laurel tree : 
Faustus is dead. 

What a noble natural transition from metaphor 
to plain speaking ! as if the figurative had flagged 
in description of such a loss, and was reduced to 
tell the fact simply. 

I must now thank you for your very kind in- 
vitation. It is not out of prospect that I may see 
Manchester some day, and then I will avail 
myself of your kindness. But holydays are scarce 
things with me, and the laws of attendance are 
getting stronger and stronger at Leadenhall. But 
I shall bear it in mind. Meantime something may 
(more probably) bring you to town, where I shall 
be happy to see you. I am always to be found 
(alas!) at my desk in the forepart of the day. 

I wonder why they do not send the revise. I 
leave late at office, and my abode lies out of the 
way, or I should have seen about it. If you are 
impatient, perhaps a line to the printer, directing 
him to send it me, at Accountant's Office, may 
answer. You will see by the scrawl that I only 
snatch a few minutes from intermitting business. 
Your obliged servant, C. Lamb 


December 29, 1823. 

My dear Sir, — You talk of months at a time 
and I know not what inducements to visit Man- 
chester, heaven knows how gratifying ! but I have 
had my little month of 1823 already. It is all 
over, and without incurring a disagreeable favour 
I cannot so much as get a single holyday till the 
season returns with the next year. Even our half- 
hour's absences from office are set down in a book ! 
Next year, if I can spare a day or two of it, I will 
come to Manchester, but I have reasons at home 
against longer absences. I am so ill just at present 
(an illness of my own procuring last night; who is 
perfect?) that nothing but your very great kindness 
could make me write. I will bear in mind the letter 
to W. W., you shall have it quite in time, before 
the twelfth. My aking and confused head warns 
me to leave off. With a muddled sense of grate- 
fulness, which I shall apprehend more clearly to- 
morrow, I remain, your friend unseen, C. L. 

Will your occasions or inclination bring you 
to London ? It will give me great pleasure to 
show you everything that Islington can boast, 
if you know the meaning of that very Cockney 
sound. We have the New River ! 

I am asham'd of this scrawl ; but I beg you 
to accept it for the present. I am full of qualms. 

A fool at fifty is a fool indeed. 


December, 1823. 

Dear Sir, — Miss Hazlitt is anxious about her 
MS. novel. Would you be so kind as to transmit 
it some way or other to Mr. Hardy, 30 Queen's 
Row, or Queen's Square, Pimlico, if he has not 
already got it ? I am afraid I have not duly ac- 
knowledged the present of your excellent pam- 
phlet, for which much thanks and approbation, 
tho' late. 

I remain, yours truly, C. Lamb 


January 9, 1824. 

Dear B. B., — Do you know what it is to 
succumb under an insurmountable day-mare — 
a whoreson lethargy, FalstafF calls it — an indis- 
position to do anything, or to be anything — 
a total deadness and distaste — a suspension of 
vitality — an indifference to locality — a numb, 
soporifical good-for-nothingness — an ossification 
all over — an oyster-like insensibility to the pass- 
ing events — a mind-stupor — a brawny defiance 
to the needles of a thrusting-in conscience — did 
you ever have a very bad cold, with a total irre- 
solution to submit to water-gruel processes? — 
this has been for many weeks my lot and my 
excuse — my fingers drag heavily over this paper, 
and to my thinking it is three-and-twenty fur- 


longs from here to the end of this demi-sheet — 
I have not a thing to say — nothing is of more 
importance than another — I am flatter than a 
denial or a pancake — emptier than Judge Park's 
wig when the head is in it — duller than a coun- 
try stage when the actors are off it — a cypher 

— an — I acknowledge life at all, only by an 
occasional convulsional cough, and a permanent 
phlegmatic pain in the chest — I am weary of 
the world, — Life is weary of me. My day is 
gone into twilight and I don't think it worth 
the expence of candles — my wick hath a thief 
in it, but I can't muster courage to snuff it — I 
inhale suffocation — I can't distinguish veal from 
mutton — nothing interests me — 't is twelve 
o'clock and Thurtell is just now coming out 
upon the New Drop — Jack Ketch alertly tuck- 
ing up his greasy sleeves to do the last office of 
mortality, yet cannot I elicit a groan or a moral 
reflection — if you told me the world will be at 
end to-morrow, I should just say, "Will it?" 

— I have not volition enough to dot my z's — 
much less to comb my eyebrows — my eyes are 
set in my head — my brains are gone out to see 
a poor relation in Moorfields, and they did not 
say when they 'd come back again — my skull is 
a Grub street attic, to let — not so much as a 
joint-stool or a crack'd Jordan left in it — my 
hand writes, not I, from habit, as chickens run 
about a little when their heads are off — O for 
a vigorous fit of gout, cholic, toothache — an ear- 


wig in my auditory, a fly in my visual organs — 
pain is life — the sharper, the more evidence of 
life — but this apathy, this death — did you ever 
have an obstinate cold, a six or seven weeks' un- 
intermitting chill and suspension of hope, fear, 
conscience, and everything — yet do I try all I 
can to cure it, I try wine and spirits and smoking 
and snuff in unsparing quantities, but they all 
only seem to make me worse, instead of better 
— I sleep in a damp room, but it does me no 
good; I come home late o' nights, but do not 
find any visible amendment. 

Who shall deliver me from the body of this 
death ? 

It is just fifteen minutes after twelve. Thurtell 
is by this time a good way on his journey, bait- 
ing at Scorpion perhaps; Ketch is bargaining for 
his cast coat and waistcoat, the Jew demurs at 
first at three half-crowns, but on consideration 
that he may get somewhat by showing 'em in 
the town, finally closes. C. L. 


January 23, 1824. 

My dear Sir, — That peevish letter of mine, 
which was meant to convey an apology for my 
incapacity to write, seems to have been taken by 
you in too serious a light. It was only my way 
of telling you I had a severe cold. The fact is 
I have been insuperably dull and lethargic for 


many weeks, and cannot rise to the vigour of a 
letter, much less an essay. The London must do 
without me for a time, a time, and half a time, 
for I have lost all interest about it, and whether 
I shall recover it again I know not. I will bridle 
my pen another time, and not tease and puzzle 
you with my aridities. I shall begin to feel a 
little more alive with the spring. Winter is to 
me (mild or harsh) always a great trial of the 
spirits. I am ashamed not to have noticed your 
tribute to Woolman, whom we love so much. 
It is done in your good manner. 

Your friend Taylor called upon me some time 
since, and seems a very amiable man. His last 
story is painfully fine. His book I "like." It is 
only too stuft with scripture, too parsonish. The 
best thing in it is the boy's own story. When I 
say it is too full of Scripture, I mean it is too full 
of direct quotations ; no book can have too much 
of silent scripture in it. But the natural power 
of a story is diminished when the uppermost 
purpose in the writer seems to be to recommend 
something else, viz., religion. You know what 
Horace says of the Deus intersit. I am not able 
to explain myself, you must do it for me. 

My sister's part in the Leicester School (about 
two-thirds) was purely her own; as it was (to the 
same quantity) in the Shakspeare Tales which bear 
my name. I wrote only the Witch Aunt, the First 
Going to Church, and the final Story about a little 
Indian girl in a Ship. 


Your account of my black-balling amused me. 
/ think, as Quakers, they did right. There are some 
things hard to be understood. 

The more I think the more I am vexed at 
having puzzled you with that letter, but I have 
been so out of letter-writing of late years, that it 
is a sore effort to sit down to it, and I felt in your 
debt, and sat down waywardly to pay you in bad 
money. Never mind my dulness; I am used to 
long intervals of it. The heavens seem brass 
to me ; then again comes the refreshing shower. 
"I have been merry once or twice ere now." 

You said something about Mr. Mitford in 
a late letter, which I believe I did not advert to. 
I shall be happy to show him my Milton (it is 
all the show things I have) at any time he will 
take the trouble of a jaunt to Islington. I do also 
hope to see Mr. Taylor there some day. Pray say 
so to both. 

Coleridge's book is good part printed, but sticks 
a little for more copy. It bears an unsaleable title 
— Extracts from Bishop Leighton — but I am con- 
fident there will be plenty of good notes in it, 
more of Bishop Coleridge than Leighton, I hope ; 
for what is Leighton ? 

Do you trouble yourself about libel cases? The 
decision against Hunt for the Vision of "Judgment 
made me sick. What is to become of the old talk 
about our good old King — his personal virtues saving 
us from a revolution, &c, &c. Why, none that 
think it can utter it now. It must stink. And the 


Vision is really, as to him-ward, such a tolerant 
good humour'd thing. What a wretched thing 
a Lord Chief Justice is, always was, and will be ! 
Keep your good spirits up, dear B. B.; mine 
will return ; they are at present in abeyance. But 
I am rather lethargic than miserable. I don't 
know but a good horsewhip would be more 
beneficial to me than physic. My head, without 
aching, will teach yours to ache. It is well I am 
getting to the conclusion. I will send a better let- 
ter when I am a better man. Let me thank you 
for your kind concern for me (which I trust will 
have reason soon to be dissipated) and assure you 
that it gives me pleasure to hear from you. 

Yours truly, C. L. 


January 27, 1824. 

Dear Oilier, — Many thanks from both of 
us for Inesilla. I wished myself younger, that 
I might have more enjoyed the terror of that 
desolate city, and the damned palace. I think it 
is as fine as anything in its way, and wish you 
joy of success, &c. 

With better weather, I shall hope to see you 
at Islington. 

Meantime, believe me, yours truly, 

C. Lamb 

Scribbled 'midst official flurry. 


February 25, 1824. 

My dear Sir, — Your title of Poetic Vigils 
arrides me much more than A Volume of Verse, 
which is no meaning. The motto says nothing, 
but I cannot suggest a better. I do not like 
mottoes but where they are singularly felicitous ; 
there is foppery in them. They are unplain, 
un-Quakerish. They are good only where they 
flow from the title and are a kind of justification 
of it. There is nothing about watchings or lucu- 
brations in the one you suggest, no commentary 
on vigils. By the way, a wag would recommend 
you to the line of Pope, — 

Sleepless himself — to give his readers sleep. 
I by no means wish it. But it may explain what 
I mean, that a neat motto is child of the title. 
I think Poetic Vigils as short and sweet as can be 
desired ; only have an eye on the proof, that the 
printer do not substitute Virgils, which would 
ill accord with your modesty or meaning. Your 
suggested motto is antique enough in spelling, 
and modern enough in phrases ; a good modern 
antique : but the matter of it is germane to the 
purpose only supposing the title proposed a vin- 
dication of yourself from the presumption of 
authorship. The first title was liable to this ob- 
jection, that if you were disposed to enlarge it, 
and the bookseller insisted on its appearance in 
two tomes, how oddly it would sound, — 


A Volume of Verse 
In Two Volumes 
Second Edition, &c. 

You see thro' my wicked intention of curtail- 
ing this epistolet by the above device of large 
margin. But in truth the idea of letterising 
has been oppressive to me of late above your can- 
dour to give me credit for. There is Southey, 
whom I ought to have thank' d a fortnight ago 
for a present of the Church Book. I have never 
had courage to buckle myself in earnest even to 
acknowledge it by six words. And yet I am 
accounted by some people a good man. How 
cheap that character is acquired ! Pay your 
debts, don't borrow money, nor twist your kit- 
ten's neck off, or disturb a congregation, &c, 
your business is done. I know things (thoughts 
or things, thoughts are things) of myself which 
would make every friend I have fly me as a 
plague patient. I once * * * , and set a dog upon 
a crab's leg that was shoved out under a moss 
of sea weeds, a pretty little feeler. Oh ! pah ! 
how sick I am of that ; and a lie, a mean one, 
I once told ! 

I stink in the midst of respect. 

I am much hypt ; the fact is, my head is 
heavy, but there is hope, or if not, I am better 
than a poor shell-fish — not morally when I set 
the whelp upon it, but have more blood and 
spirits ; things may turn up, and I may creep 
again into a decent opinion of myself. Vanity 


will return with sunshine. Till when, pardon 
my neglects and impute it to the wintry solstice. 

C. Lamb 


March 24, 1824. 

Dear B. B., — I hasten to say that if my 
opinion can strengthen you in your choice, it is 
decisive for your acceptance of what has been so 
handsomely offered. I can see nothing injurious 
to your most honourable sense. Think that you 
are called to a poetical ministry — nothing worse 
— the minister is worthy of the hire. 

The only objection I feel is founded on a fear 
that the acceptance may be a temptation to you 
to let fall the bone (hard as it is) which is in your 
mouth and must afford tolerable pickings, for the 
shadow of independence. You cannot propose 
to become independent on what the low state 
of interest could afford you from such a prin- 
cipal as you mention; and the most graceful 
excuse for the acceptance would be that it left 
you free to your voluntary functions. That is 
the less light part of the scruple. It has no 
darker shade. I put in darker, because of the 
ambiguity of the word light, which Donne in 
his admirable poem on the Metempsychosis, has 
so ingeniously illustrated in his invocation, — 

12 12 

Make my dark heavy poem, light and light, 

where the two senses of light are opposed to dif- 
ferent opposites. A trifling criticism. I can see 
no reason for any scruple, then, but what arises 
from your own interest ; which is in your own 
power of course to solve. If you still have 
doubts, read over Sanderson's Cases of Conscience, 
and Jeremy Taylor's Ductor Dubitantium, the 
first a moderate octavo, the latter a folio of 
nine hundred close pages, and when you have 
thoroughly digested the admirable reasons pro 
and con which they give for every possible case, 
you will be — just as wise as when you began. 
Every man is his own best casuist ; and after all, 
as Ephraim Smooth, in the pleasant comedy of 
Wild Oats, has it, " there is no harm in a 
guinea." A fortiori there is less in two thousand. 
I therefore most sincerely congratulate with 
you, excepting so far as excepted above. If you 
have fair prospects of adding to the principal, 
cut the bank ; but in either case do not refuse 
an honest service. Your heart tells you it is not 
offered to bribe you from any duty, but to a duty 
which you feel to be your vocation. Farewell 
heartily, C. L. 


Early Spring, 1824. 

I am sure I cannot fill a letter, though I should 
disfurnish my skull to fill it. But you expect 
something, and shall have a notelet. Is Sunday, 


not divinely speaking, but humanly and holyday- 
sically, a blessing ? Without its institution, would 
our rugged taskmasters have given us a leisure 
day, so often, think you, as once in a month ? 
or, if it had not been instituted, might they not 
have given us every sixth day ? Solve me this 
problem. If we are to go three times a day to 
church, why has Sunday slipped into the notion 
of a Ho/iday ? A Holyday I grant it. The Puri- 
tans, I have read in Southey's Book [of the Church], 
knew the distinction. They made people observe 
Sunday rigorously, would not let a nursery-maid 
walk out in the fields with children for recreation 
on that day. But then — they gave the people 
a holiday from all sorts of work every second 
Tuesday. This was giving to the Two Cassars 
that which was his respective. Wise, beautiful, 
thoughtful, generous legislators ! Would Wilber- 
force give us our Tuesdays ? No, d — n him. He 
would turn the six days into sevenths, — 

And those three smiling seasons of the year 
Into a Russian winter. Old Play. 

I am sitting opposite a person who is making 
strange distortions with the gout, which is not 
unpleasant ■ — to me at least. What is the reason 
we do not sympathise with pain, short of some 
terrible surgical operation ? Hazlitt, who boldly 
says all he feels, avows that not only he does not 
pity sick people, but he hates them. I obscurely 
recognise his meaning. Pain is probably too 
selfish a consideration, too simply a consideration 


of self-attention. We pity poverty, loss of friends, 
&c, more complex things, in which the suffer- 
er's feelings are associated with others. This is 
a rough thought suggested by the presence of 
gout ; I want head to extricate it and plane it. 

What is all this to your letter ? I felt it to be 
a good one, but my turn, when I write at all, is 
perversely to travel out of the record, so that my 
letters are anything but answers. So you still 
want a motto ? You must not take my ironical 
one, because your book, I take it, is too serious 
for it. Bickerstaff might have used it for his lucu- 
brations. What do you think of (for a Title), — 
Religio Tremuli 
or Tremebundi 
There is Religio-Medici and Laid. But perhaps 
the volume is not quite Quakerish enough or 
exclusively for it ; but your own Vigils is perhaps 
the best. While I have space, let me congratulate 
with you the return of spring ; what a summery 
spring too ! all those qualms about the dog and 
cray-fish melt before it. I am going to be happy 
and vain again. 

A hasty farewell, C. Lamb 


April 13, 1824. 

Dear Mrs. A., — Mary begs me to say how 
much she regrets we cannot join you to Reigate. 
Our reasons are — 1st, I have but one holyday, 


namely Good Friday, and it is not pleasant to 
solicit for another, but that might have been got 
over. 2dly, Manning is with us, soon to go away 
and we should not be easy in leaving him. 3dly, 
our school girl Emma comes to us for a few days 
on Thursday. 4thly and lastly, Wordsworth is re- 
turning home in about a week, and out of respect 
to them we should not like to absent ourselves 
just now. In summer I shall have a month, and 
if it shall suit, should like to go for a few days of 
it out with you both anywhere. In the meantime, 
with many acknowledgments, &c, &c, I remain 
yours (both) truly, C. Lamb 

Remember Sundays. 


April, 1824. 

Dear Sir, — Miss Hazlitt (niece to Pygmalion) 
begs us to send to you for Mr. Hardy a parcel. 
I have not thank'd you for your pamphlet, but 
I assure you I approve of it in all parts, only 
that I would have seen my calumniators at hell, 
before I would have told them I was a Christian, 
tho" I am one, I think as much as you. I hope to 
see you here, some day soon. The parcel is a novel 
which I hope Mr. H. may sell for her. I am 
with greatest friendliness, yours, 

C. Lamb 



April 24, 1824. 

Dear Sir, — Miss Hazlitt has begged me to 
say to you that the novel, which you kindly 
promised to introduce to Mr. Ridgway, is lying 
for that purpose at Mr. Hone's, Ludgate Street, 
where you will perhaps be so kind as to send for 
it. She is going on 10th May as governess into 
the family of Mrs. Brookes, Dawlish, where she 
shall be thankful to receive any communications 
respecting the novel. She is now at 14 Queen's 
Square, Bristol. 

I am, Sir, with great respect, 

Yours, &c, Ch. Lamb 


May 15, 1824. 

Dear B. B., — I am oppressed with business 
all day, and company all night. But I will snatch 
a quarter of an hour. Your recent acquisitions 
of the picture and the letter are greatly to be 
congratulated. I too have a picture of my father 
and the copy of his first love verses ; but they 
have been mine long. Blake is a real name, I 
assure you, and a most extraordinary man, if he 
be still living. He is the Robert [William] Blake, 
whose wild designs accompany a splendid folio 
edition of the Night Thoughts, which you may 
have seen, in one of which he pictures the parting 


of soul and body by a solid mass of human form 
floating off, God knows how, from a lumpish 
mass (facsimile to itself) left behind on the dying 
bed. He paints in water colours marvellous 
strange pictures, visions of his brain, which he 
asserts that he has seen. They have great merit. 
He has seen the old Welsh bards on Snowdon — 
he has seen the beautifullest, the strongest and 
the ugliest man, left alone from the massacre of 
the Britons by the Romans, and has painted them 
from memory (I have seen his paintings), and 
asserts them to be as good as the figures of Raphael 
and Angelo, but not better, as they had precisely 
the same retro-visions and prophetic visions with 
himself. The painters in oil (which he will 
have it that neither of them practised) he affirms 
to have been the ruin of art, and affirms that all 
the while he was engaged in his water paintings, 
Titian was disturbing him, Titian the ill genius 
of oil painting. His pictures, one in particular, 
the Canterbury Pilgrims (far above Stothard's), 
have great merit, but hard, dry, yet with grace. 
He has written a catalogue of them with a most 
spirited criticism on Chaucer, but mystical and 
full of vision. His poems have been sold hitherto 
only in manuscript. I never read them ; but 
a friend at my desire procured the Sweep Song. 
There is one to a tiger, which I have heard re- 
cited, beginning, — 

Tiger, tiger, burning bright, 
Thro' the desarts of the night, 

which is glorious, but, alas ! I have not the book ; 
for the man is flown, whither I know not — to 
Hades or a madhouse. But I must look on him 
as one of the most extraordinary persons of the 
age. Montgomery's book I have not much hope 
from. The Society with the affected name, has 
been labouring at it for these twenty years, and 
made few converts. I think it was injudicious 
to mix stories avowedly colour' d by fiction with 
the sad true statements from the parliamentary 
records, &c, but I wish the little negroes all the 
good that can come from it. I batter'd my brains 
(not butter'd them — but it is a bad <z) for a few 
verses for them, but I could make nothing of 
it. You have been luckier. But Blake's are the 
flower of the set, you will, I am sure, agree, tho' 
some of Montgomery's at the end are pretty ; 
but the Dream awkwardly paraphras'd from B. 

With the exception of an epilogue for a private 
theatrical, I have written nothing now for near 
six months. It is in vain to spur me on. I must 
wait. I cannot write without a genial impulse, 
and I have none. 'Tis barren all and dearth. 
No matter ; life is something without scribbling. 
I have got rid of my bad spirits, and hold up pretty 
well this rain-damn'd May. 

So we have lost another poet. I never much 
relished his Lordship's mind, and shall be sorry 
if the Greeks have cause to miss him. He was to 
me offensive, and I never can make out his great 
power, which his admirers talk of. Why, a line 


of Wordsworth's is a lever to lift the immortal 
spirit ! Byron can only move the spleen. He 
was at best a satyrist, — in any other way he was 
mean enough. I dare say I do him injustice; 
but I cannot love him, nor squeeze a tear to his 
memory. He did not like the world, and he has 
left it, as Alderman Curtis advised the Radicals, 
" If they don't like their country, damn 'em, let 
'em leave it ; " they possessing no rood of ground 
in England, and he 1 0,000 acres. Byron was 
better than many Curtises. 

Farewell, and accept this apology for a letter 
from one who owes you so much in that kind. 
Yours ever truly, C. L. 


July 7, 1824. 

Dear B. B., — I have been suffering under a 
severe inflammation of the eyes, notwithstanding 
which I resolutely went through your very pretty 
volume at once, which I dare pronounce in no 
ways inferior to former lucubrations. "Abroad" 
and " lord" are vile rhymes notwithstanding, and 
if you count you will wonder how many times 
you have repeated the word unearthly ; thrice in 
one poem. It is become a slang word with the 
bards; avoid it in future lustily. " Time " is fine ; 
but there are better a good deal, I think. The 
volume does not lie by me ; and, after a long 
day's smarting fatigue, which has almost put out 


my eyes (not blind, however, to your merits) ; 
I dare not trust myself with long writing. The 
verses to Bloomfield are the sweetest in the col- 
lection. Religion is sometimes lugged in, as if 
it did not come naturally. I will go over carefully 
when I get my seeing, and exemplify. You have 
also too much of singing metre, such as requires 
no deep ear to make ; lilting measure, in which 
you have done Woolman injustice. Strike at less 
superficial melodies. The piece on Nayler is 
more to my fancy. 

My eye runs waters. But I will give you a 
fuller account some day. The book is a very 
pretty one in more than one sense. The decora- 
tive harp, perhaps, too ostentatious ; a simple 
pipe preferable. 

Farewell, and many thanks. C. Lamb 


July 19, 1824. 

Dear Marter, — I have just received your let- 
ter, having returned from a month's holydays. 
My exertions for the London are, tho' not dead, 
in a deep sleep for the present. If your club like 
scanda\,Blackivood' s is your magazine ; if you pre- 
fer light articles, and humorous without offence, 
the New Monthly is very amusing. The best of 
it is by Horace Smith, the author of the Rejected 
Addresses. The Old Monthly has more of matter, 
information, but not so merry. I cannot safely 


recommend any others, as not knowing them, or 
knowing them to their disadvantage. Of Reviews, 
beside what you mention, I know of none ex- 
cept the Review on Hounslow Heath, which I 
take it is too expensive for your ordering. Pity 
me, that have been a gentleman these four weeks, 
and am reduced in one day to the state of a ready 
writer. I feel, I feel, my gentlemanly qualities 
fast oozing away — such as a sense of honour, 
neckcloths twice a day, abstinence from swear- 
ing, &cc. The desk enters into my soul. 

See my thoughts on business next page. [Lamb's 
lines appear in letter of September u, 1822, to Ber- 
nard Barton .] 

With many recollections of pleasanter times, 
my old compeer, happily released before me, 

C. Lamb 


July 28, 1824. 

My dear Sir, — I must appear negligent in not 
having thanked you for the very pleasant books you 
sent me. Arthur, and the Novel, we have both 
of us read with unmixed satisfaction. They are 
full of quaint conceits, and running over with 
good humour and good nature. I naturally take 
little interest in story, but in these the manner 
and not the end is the interest ; it is such pleas- 
ant travelling, one scarce cares whither it leads 


us. Pray express our pleasure to your father with 
my best thanks. 

I am involved in a routine of visiting among 
the family of Barron Field, just returned from 
Botany Bay. I shall hardly have an open even- 
ing before Tuesday next. Will you come to us 
then ? Yours truly, C. Lamb 


August 10, 1824. 

And what dost thou at the Priory? Cucullus 
nonfacit Monachum. English me that, and chal- 
lenge old Lignum Janua to make a better. 

My old New River has presented no extraor- 
dinary novelties lately ; but there Hope sits every 
day, speculating upon traditionary gudgeons. I 
think she has taken the fisheries. I now know 
the reason why our forefathers were denominated 
East and West Angles. Yet is there no lack of 
spawn ; for I wash my hands in fishets that come 
through the pump every morning thick as mote- 
lings, — little things 000 like that, that perish 
untimely, and never taste the brook. You do not 
tell me of those romantic land bays that be as thou 
goestto Lover's Seat : neither of that little church- 
ling in the midst of a wood (in the opposite di- 
rection, nine furlongs from the town), that seems 
dropped by the angel that was tired of carrying 
two packages ; marry, with the other he made 
shift to pick his flight to Loretto. Inquire out, 


and see my little Protestant Loretto. It stands 
apart from trace of human habitation ; yet hath 
it pulpit, reading-desk, and trim font of massiest 
marble, as if Robinson Crusoe had reared it to 
soothe himself with old church-going images. 
I forget its Christian name, and what she-saint 
was its gossip. 

You should also go to No. i 3 Standgate Street, 
— a baker, who has the finest collection of marine 
monsters in ten sea counties, — sea dragons, 
polypi, mer-people, most fantastic. You have only 
to name the old gentleman in black (not the 
Devil) that lodged with him a week (he'll re- 
member) last July, and he will show courtesy. 
He is by far the foremost of the savans. His wife 
is the funniest thwarting little animal ! They are 
decidedly the lions of green Hastings. Well, I 
have made an end of my say. My epistolary time 
is gone by when I could have scribbled as long 
(I will not say as agreeable) as thine was to both 
of us. I am dwindled to notes and letterets. But, 
in good earnest, I shall be most happy to hail thy 
return to the waters of Old Sir Hugh. There is 
nothing like inland murmurs, fresh ripples, and 
our native minnows. 

He sang in meads how sweet the brooklets ran, 
To the rough ocean and red restless sands. 

I design to give up smoking; but I have not yet 
fixed upon the equivalent vice. I must have quid 
pro quo ; or quo pro quid, as Tom Woodgate would 
correct me. My service to him. C. L. 



August 17, 1824. 

Dear B. B., — I congratulate you on getting 
a house over your head. I find the comfort of 
it I am sure. At my town lodgings the mistress 
was always quarrelling with our maid; and at 
my place of rustication, the whole family were 
always beating one another, brothers beating 
sisters (one a most beautiful girl lamed for life), 
father beating sons and daughters, and son again 
beating his father, knocking him fairly down, 
a scene I never before witnessed, but was called 
out of bed by the unnatural blows, the parri- 
cidal colour of which, tho' my morals could not 
but condemn, yet my reason did heartily ap- 
prove, and in the issue the house was quieter for 
a day or so than I had ever known. I am now 
all harmony and quiet, even to the sometimes 
wishing back again some of the old rufflings. 
There is something stirring in these civil broils. 

The album shall be attended to. If I can 
light upon a few appropriate rhymes (but rhymes 
come with difficulty from me now) I shall beg 
a place in the neat margin of your young house- 

The Prometheus Unbound is a capital story. The 
literal rogue ! What if you had ordered Elfrida 
in sheets ! She 'd have been sent up, I warrant you. 
Or bid him clasp his bible (/. e. to his bosom) — 
he 'd have clapt on a brass clasp, no doubt. I can 


no more understand Shelley than you can. His 
poetry is "thin sown with profit or delight." Yet 
I must point to your notice a sonnet conceiv'd 
and expressed with a witty delicacy. It is that 
addressed to one who hated him, but who could 
not persuade him to hate him again. His coyness 
to the other's passion (for hate demands a return 
as much as love, and starves without it) is most 
arch and pleasant. Pray, like it very much. 

For his theories and nostrums they are orac- 
ular enough, but I either comprehend 'em not, 
or there is miching malice and mischief in 'em. 
But for the most part ringing with their own 
emptiness. Hazlitt said well of 'em — Many are 
wiser and better for reading Shakspeare, but no- 
body was ever wiser or better for reading Sh — y. 

I wonder you will sow your correspondence 
on so barren a ground as I am, that make such 
poor returns. But my head akes at the bare 
thought of letter writing. I wish all the ink 
in the ocean dried up, and would listen to the 
quills shrivelling up in the candle flame, like 
parching martyrs. The same indisposition to 
write it is has stopt my Elias, but you will see 
a futile effort in the next Number, "wrung from 
me with slow pain." 

The fact is, my head is seldom cool enough. 
I am dreadfully indolent. To have to do any- 
thing — to order me a new coat, for instance, 
tho' my old buttons are shelled like beans — 
is an effort. 


My pen stammers like my tongue. What cool 
craniums those old enditers of folios must have 
had. What a mortify' d pulse. Well, once more 
I throw myself on your mercy — Wishing peace 
in thy new dwelling, C. Lamb 


[Shelley's poem which Lamb refers to : 


Alas ! good friend, what profit can you see 
In hating such an hateless thing as me ? 
There is no sport in hate, where all the rage 
Is on one side. In vain would you assuage 
Your frowns upon an unresisting smile, 
In which not even contempt lurks, to beguile 
Your heart by some faint sympathy of hate. 
Oh conquer what you cannot satiate ! 
For to your passion I am far more coy 
Than ever yet was coldest maid or boy 
In winter-noon. Of your antipathy 
If I am the Narcissus, you are free 
To pine into a sound with hating me.] 


August 19, 1824. 

Dear Sir, — I shall have much pleasure in dining 
with you on Wednesday next, with much shame 
that I have not noticed your kind present of the 
Birds, which I found very chirping and whimsi- 
cal. I believe at the time I was daily thinking 
of paying you a visit, and put it off — till I should 
come. Somehow it slipt, and [I] must crave 
your pardon. Yours truly, C. Lamb 



Little Book ! surnam'd of white ; 
Clean, as yet, and fair to sight ; 
Keep thy attribution right. 

Never disproportion'd scrawl ; 
Ugly blot, that 's worse than all ; 
On thy maiden clearness fall. 

In each letter, here design'd, 
Let the reader emblem'd find 
Neatness of the owner's mind. 

Gilded margins count a sin ; 
Let thy leaves attraction win 
By the golden rules within : 

Sayings, fetch'd from sages old; 
Saws, which Holy Writ unfold, 
Worthy to be writ in Gold : 

Lighter fancies not excluding; 
Blameless wit, with nothing rude in, 
Sometimes mildly interluding 

Amid strains of graver measure; — 
Virtue's self hath oft her pleasure 
In sweet Muses' groves of leisure. 

Riddles dark, perplexing sense ; 
Darker meanings of offence; 
What but shades, be banish'd hence. 

Whitest thoughts, in whitest dress — 
Candid meanings — best express 
Mind of quiet Quakeress. 

Dear B. B., — "I am ill at these numbers;" 
but if the above be not too mean to have a place 


in thy daughter's sanctum, take them with pleas- 
ure. I assume that her name is Hannah, because 
it is a pretty scriptural cognomen. I began on 
another sheet of paper, and just as I had penn'd 
the second line of stanza two an ugly blot [here 
is a bloi\ as big as this, fell, to illustrate my 
counsel. I am sadly given to blot, and modern 
blotting-paper gives no redress ; it only smears 
and makes it worse, as for example [here is a 
smear]. The only remedy is scratching out, 
which gives it a clerkish look. The most in- 
nocent blots are made with red ink, and are 
rather ornamental. [Here are two or three blots 
in red ink.] Marry, they are not always to be 
distinguished from the effusions of a cut finger. 

Well, I hope and trust thy tick doleru, or 
however you spell it, is vanished, for I have 
frightful impressions of that tick, and do alto- 
gether hate it, as an unpaid score, or the tick of 
a death-watch. I take it to be a species of Vitus's 
dance (I omit the sanctity, writing to "one of 
the men called Friends " ). I knew a young lady 
who could dance no other, she danced thro' life, 
and very queer and fantastic were her steps. 
Heaven bless thee from such measures, and keep 
thee from the foul fiend, who delights to lead 
after false fires in the night, Flibbertigibit, that 
gives the web and the pin, &c, I forget what 

From my den, as Bunyan has it, 30 Sep. '24. 

C. L. 



November 2, 1824. 

Dear Mrs. Collier, — We receive so much 
pig from your kindness, that I really have not 
phrase enough to vary successive acknowledge- 

I think I shall get a printed form to serve on 
all occasions. 

To say it was young, crisp, short, luscious, 
dainty-toed, is but to say what all its predecessors 
have been. It was eaten on Sunday and Monday, 
and doubts only exist as to which temperature 
it eat best, hot or cold. I incline to the latter. 
The petty-feet made a pretty surprising proe- 
gustation for supper on Saturday night, just as 
I was loathingly in expectation of bren-cheese. 
I spell as I speak. 

I do not know what news to send you. You 
will have heard of Alsager's death, and your son 
John's success in the lottery. I say he is a wise 
man, if he leaves off while he is well. The 
weather is wet to weariness, but Mary goes 
puddling about a-shopping after a gown for the 
winter. She wants it good, and cheap. Now 
I hold that no good things are cheap, pig-presents 
always excepted. In this mournful weather I sit 
moping, where I now write, in an office dark as 
Erebus, jammed in between four walls, and writ- 
ing by candle-light, most melancholy. Never see 
the light of the sun six hours in the day, and am 


surprised to find how pretty it shines on Sundays. 
I wish I were a caravan driver or a penny post- 
man, to earn my bread in air and sunshine. Such 
a pedestrian as I am, to be tied by the legs, like 
a Fauntleroy, without the pleasure of his exac- 
tions. I am interrupted here with an official 
question, which will take me up till it's time to 
go to dinner, so with repeated thanks and both 
our kindest remembrances to Mr. Collier and 
yourself, I conclude in haste. 

Yours and his sincerely, C. Lamb 

On further enquiry Alsager is not dead; but 
Mrs. A. is brought to bed. 


[Henry Fauntleroy was the banker, who had just been found 
guilty of forgery and on the day that Lamb wrote was sen- 
tenced to death. — E. V. Lucas.] 


November u, 1824. 

My dear Procter, — I do agnise a shame in 
not having been to pay my congratulations to 
Mrs. Procter and your happy self, but on Sunday 
(my only morning) I was engaged to a country 
walk; and in virtue of the hypostatical union 
between us, when Mary calls, it is understood 
that I call too, we being univocal. 

But indeed I am ill at these ceremonious 

2 95 

inductions. I fancy I was not born with a call on 
my head, though I have brought one down upon 
it with a vengeance. I love not to pluck that 
sort of fruit crude, but to stay its ripening into 
visits. In probability Mary will be at Southamp- 
ton Row this morning, and something of that 
kind be matured between you, but in any case 
not many hours shall elapse before I shake you 
by the hand. 

Meantime give my kindest felicitations to Mrs. 
Procter, and assure her I look forward with the 
greatest delight to our acquaintance. By the way, 
the deuce a bit of cake has come to hand, which 
hath an inauspicious look at first, but I comfort 
myself that that mysterious service hath the 
property of sacramental bread, which mice can- 
not nibble nor time moulder. 

I am married myself to a severe step-wife, who 
keeps me, not at bed and board, but at desk and 
board, and is jealous of my morning aberrations. 
I cannot slip out to congratulate kinder unions. 
It is well she leaves me alone o' nights — the 
damn'd day-hag Business. She is even now peep- 
ing over me to see I am writing no love-letters. 
I come, my dear — Where is the Indigo sale- 
book ? 

Twenty adieus, my dear friends, till we meet. 
Yours most truly, C. Lamb 



November 20, 1824. 

Dear R., — Barron Field bids me say that he 
is resident at his brother Henry's, a surgeon, &c, 
a few doors west of Christ Church Passage, 
Newgate Street ; and that he shall be happy to 
accompany you up thence to Islington, when next 
you come our way, but not so late as you some- 
times come. I think we shall be out on Tuesday. 
Yours ever, C. Lamb 


November 25, 1824. 

My dear Miss Hutchinson, — Mary bids me 
thank you for your kind letter. We are a little 
puzzled about your whereabouts : Miss Words- 
worth writes Torkay, and you have queerly made 
it Torquay. Now Tokay we have heard of, and 
Torbay, which we take to be the true male 
spelling of the place, but somewhere we fancy 
it to be on " Devon's leafy shores," where we 
heartily wish the kindly breezes may restore all 
that is invalid among you. Robinson is returned, 
and speaks much of you all. We shall be most 
glad to hear good news from you from time to 
time. The best is, Proctor is at last married. We 
have made sundry attempts to see the bride, but 
have accidentally failed, she being gone out 


We had promised our dear friends the Monk- 
houses, promised ourselves rather, a visit to them 
at Ramsgate, but I thought it best, and Mary 
seemed to have it at heart too, not to go far from 
home these last holydays. It is connected with 
a sense of unsettlement, and secretly I know she 
hoped that such abstinence would be friendly 
to her health. She certainly has escaped her sad 
yearly visitation, whether in consequence of it, 
or of faith in it, and we have to be thankful for 
a good 1824. To get such a notion into our 
heads may go a great way another year. Not 
that we quite confined ourselves ; but assuming 
Islington to be headquarters, we made timid 
flights to Ware, Watford, &c, to try how the 
trouts tasted, for a night out or so, not long 
enough to make the sense of change oppressive, 
but sufficient to scour the rust of home. 

Coleridge is not returned from the sea. As 
a little scandal may divert you recluses ; we were 
in the summer dining at a clergyman of Southey's 
" Church of England, "at Hertford, the same who 
officiated to Thurtell's last moments, and indeed 
an old contemporary Blue of C.'s and mine at 
school. After dinner we talked of C, and F., 
who is a mighty good fellow in the main, but 
hath his cassock prejudices, inveighed against the 
moral character of C. I endeavoured to enlighten 
him on the subject, till having driven him out 
of some of his holds, he stopt my mouth at once 
by appealing to me whether it was not very well 


known that C. "at that very moment was living 
in a state of open adultery with Mrs. ****** 
[GillmanJ at Highgate?" Nothing I could say 
serious or bantering after that could remove the 
deep inrooted conviction of the whole company 
assembled that such was the case ! Of course 
you will keep this quite close, for I would not 
involve my poor blundering friend, who I dare 
say believed it all thoroughly. My interference 
of course was imputed to the goodness of my 
heart, that could imagine nothing wrong, &c. 
Such it is if ladies will go gadding about with 
other people's husbands at watering-places. 

How careful we should be to avoid the appear- 
ance of evil ! I thought this anecdote might 
amuse you. It is not worth resenting seriously ; 
only I give it as a specimen of orthodox candour. 
O Southey, Southey, how long would it be before 
you would find one of us Unitarians propagating 
such unwarrantable scandal ! Providence keep 
you all from the foul fiend scandal, and send 
you back well and happy to dear Gloster Place ! 

C. L. 


November, 1824. 

Illustrezzimo Signor, — I have obeyed your 
mandate to a tittle. I accompany this with a vol- 
ume. But what have you done with the first I sent 
you ? — have you swapt it with some lazzaroni 


for macaroni ? or pledged it with a gondolierer 
for a passage ? Peradventuri the Cardinal Gonsalvi 
took a fancy to it : — his Eminence has done my 
Nearness an honour. 'T is but a step to the 
Vatican. As you judge, my works do not enrich 
the workman, but I get vat I can for 'em. They 
keep dragging me on, a poor, worn mill-horse, 
in the eternal round of the damn'd magazine ; 
but 't is they are blind, not I. Colburn (where 
I recognise with delight the gay W. Honeycomb 
renovated) hath the ascendency. 

I was with the Novellos last week. They have 
a large, cheap house and garden, with a dainty 
library (magnificent) without books. But what 
will make you bless yourself (I am too old for 
wonder), something has touched the right organ 
in Vincentio at last. He attends a Wesleyan 
chapel on Kingsland Green. He at first tried to 
laugh it off — he only went for the singing ; but 
the cloven foot — I retract — the Lamb's trot- 
ters — are at length apparent. Mary Isabella 
attributes it to a lightness induced by his head- 
aches. But I think I see in it a less accidental 
influence. Mister Clark is at perfect staggers ! 
the whole fabric of his infidelity is shaken. He 
has no one to join him in his coarse insults and 
indecent obstreperousnesses against Christianity, 
for Holmes (the bonny Holmes) is gone to Salis- 
bury to be organist, and Isabella and the Clark 
make but a feeble quorum. The children have 
all nice, neat little clasped pray-books, and I 


have laid out ys. 8d. in Watts' s Hymns for Christ- 
mas presents for them. The eldest girl alone 
holds out ; she has been at Boulogne, skirting 
upon the vast focus of atheism, and imported 
bad principles in patois French. But the strong- 
holds are crumbling. N. appears as yet to have 
but a confused notion of the atonement. It makes 
him giddy, he says, to think much about it. But 
such giddiness is spiritual sobriety. 

Well, Byron is gone, and is now the best 

poet in England. Fill up the gap to your fancy. 
Barry Cornwall has at last carried the pretty A. S. 
They are just in the treacle-moon. Hope it won't 
clog his wings — gaum we used to say at school. 

Mary, my sister, has worn me out with eight 
weeks' cold and toothache, her average comple- 
ment in the winter, and it will not go away. 
She is otherwise well, and reads novels all day 
long. She has had an exempt year, a good year, 
for which, forgetting the minor calamity, she and 
I are most thankful. 

Alsager is in a nourishing house, with wife and 
children about him, in Mecklenburg Square — 
almost too fine to visit. 

Barron Field is come home from Sydney, but 
as yet I can hear no tidings of a pension. He is 
plump and friendly, his wife really a very superior 
woman. He resumes the bar. 

I have got acquainted with Mr. Irving, the 
Scotch preacher, whose fame must have reached 
you. He is a humble disciple at the foot of 


Gamaliel S. T. C. Judge how his own sectarists 
must stare when I tell you he has dedicated a 
book to S. T. C, acknowledging to have learnt 
more of the nature of faith, Christianity, and 
Christian Church, from him than from all the 
men he ever conversed with. He is a most 
amiable, sincere, modest man in a room, this 
Boanerges in the temple. Mrs. Montague told 
him the dedication would do him no good. 
"That shall be a reason for doing it," was his 
answer. Judge, now, whether this man be a 

Dear H., take this imperfect notelet for a 
letter ; it looks so much the more like conversing 
on nearer terms. Love to all the Hunts, old 
friend Thornton, and all. Yours ever, 

C. Lamb 


December i, 1824. 

Dear B. B., — If Mr. Mitford will send me 
a full and circumstantial description of his desired 
vases, I will transmit the same to a gentleman 
resident at Canton, whom I think I have interest 
enough in to take the proper care for their exe- 
cution. But Mr. M. must have patience. China 
is a great way off, further perhaps than he thinks; 
and his next year's roses must be content to 
wither in a Wedgewood pot. He will please to 
say whether he should like his arms upon them, 



&c. I send herewith some patterns which sug- 
gest themselves to me at the first blush of the 
subject, but he will probably consult his own 
taste after all. 

Y i ■ 7 

The last pattern is obviously fitted for ranuncu- 
luses only. The two former may indifferently 
hold daisies, marjoram, sweet-williams, and that 
sort. My friend in Canton is inspector of teas, 
his name Ball ; and I can think of no better tun- 
nel. I shall expect Mr. M.'s decision. 

Taylor and Hessey finding their magazine 
goes off very heavily at 2s. 6d. are prudently 
going to raise their price another shilling ; and 
having already more authors than they want, 
intend to increase the number of them. If they 
set up against the New Monthly, they must change 
their present hands. It is not tying the dead 
carcase of a Review to a half-dead Magazine 
will do their business. It is like G. D. multiply- 
ing his volumes to make 'em sell better. When 
he finds one will not go off, he publishes two ; 
two stick, he tries three ; three hang fire, he is 
confident that four will have a better chance. 

And now, my dear Sir, trifling apart, the 
gloomy catastrophe of yesterday morning prompts 


a sadder vein. The fate of the unfortunate Faun- 
tleroy makes me, whether I will or no, to cast 
reflecting eyes around on such of my friends as 
by a parity of situation are exposed to a similarity 
of temptation. My very style seems to myself 
to become more impressive than usual with the 
change of theme. Who that standeth knoweth 
but he may yet fall ? Your hands as yet, I am 
most willing to believe, have never deviated into 
others' property. You think it impossible that 
you could ever commit so heinous an offence. But 
so thought Fauntleroy once ; so have thought 
many besides him, who at last have expiated, as 
he hath done. You are as yet upright. But you 
are a banker, at least the next thing to it. I feel 
the delicacy of the subject ; but cash must pass 
thro' your hands, sometimes to a great amount. 

If in an unguarded hour but I will hope 

better. Consider the scandal it will bring upon 
those of your persuasion. Thousands would go 
to see a Quaker hanged, that would be indiffer- 
ent to the fate of a Presbyterian or an Anabap- 
tist. Think of the effect it would have on the 
sale of your poems alone ; not to mention higher 
considerations. I tremble, I am sure, at myself, 
when I think that so many poor victims of the 
law at one time of their life made as sure of never 
being hanged as I in my presumption am too 
ready to do myself. What are we better than 
they ? Do we come into the world with different 
necks ? Is there any distinctive mark under our 


left ears? Are we unstrangulable ? I ask you. 
Think of these things. I am shocked sometimes 
at the shape of my own fingers, not for their re- 
semblance to the ape tribe (which is something) 
but for the exquisite adaptation of them to the 
purposes of picking, fingering, &c. No one that 
is so framed, I maintain it, but should tremble. 

Postscript for your daughter's eyes only. 

Dear Miss, — Your pretty little letterets make 
me ashamed of my great straggling coarse hand- 
writing. I wonder where you get pens to write 
so small. Sure they must be the pinions of a small 
wren, or a robin. If you write so in your album, 
you must give us glasses to read by. I have seen 
a lady's similar book all writ in following fashion; 
I think it pretty and fanciful, — 

O how I love in early dawn 

To bend my steps o'er flowery lawn — - 

which I think has an agreeable variety to the 
eye. Which I recommend to your notice, with 
friend Elia's best wishes. 


[Lamb's postscript is written in extremely small characters, 
and the letters of the two lines of verse are in alternate red 
and black inks. It was this letter which, Edward FitzGerald 
tells us, Thackeray pressed to his forehead, with the remark 
" Saint Charles ! " Hitherto, the postscript not having been 
thought worthy of print by previous editors, it was a little 
difficult to understand why this particular letter had been se- 
lected for Thackeray's epithet. But when one thinks of the 
patience with which, after making gentle fun of her father, 


Lamb sat down to amuse Lucy Barton, and, as Thackeray 
did, thinks also of his whole life, it becomes more clear. — 
E. V. Lucas.] 


December 28, 1824. 

Dear Sir, — Thanks for your volume. If any 
verse is forthcoming next year, you shall have it, 
but I do not make two lines on an average any 
year now. My poor prose, which is near ex- 
hausted, is the London's, and my dry spring is not 
likely to overflow to a second reservoir. I saw 
S. T. C. on Sunday, who expressed his high 
satisfaction at the contents as well as the exterior 
of the Souvenir. 

You will oblige me by not thinking of sending 
me a second superior copy. This already out- 
shines and puts to shame my old dusty library. 

With much respect, yours, C. Lamb 


January 11, 1825. 

My dear Sir, — Pray return my best thanks to 
your father for his little volume. It is like all 
of his I have seen, spirited, good-humoured, and 
redolent of the wit and humour of a century ago. 
He should have lived with Gay and his set. The 
Chessiad 'is so clever that I relish' d it in spite of my 
total ignorance of the game. I have it not before 
me, but I remember a capital simile of the char- 


woman letting in her watchman husband, which 
is better than Butler's lobster turned to red. Haz- 
ard is a grand character, Jove in his chair. When 
you are disposed to leave your one room for my 
six, Colebrooke is where it was, and my sister 
begs me to add that as she is disappointed of 
meeting your sister your way, we shall be most 
happy to see her our way, when you have an 
evening to spare. Do not stand on ceremonies 
and introductions, but come at once. I need not 
say that if you can induce your father to join the 
party, it will be so much the pleasanter. Can 
you name an evening next week ? I give you long 
credit. Meantime am, as usual, yours truly, 

C. L. 

When I saw the Chessiad advertised by C. D. 
the younger, I hoped it might be yours. What 
title is left for you — 

Charles Dibdin the younger, junior. O no, you 
are Timothy. 


January 17, 1825. 

Dear Allsop, — I acknowledge with thanks 
the receipt of a draft on Messrs. Wms. for £8 1 . 
1 1. 3., which I haste to cash in the present alarm- 
ing state of the money market. Hurst and Rob- 
inson gone ! I have imagined a chorus of ill-used 
authors singing on the occasion, — 


What should we do when booksellers break ? 
We should rejoice. Da capo. 

We regret exceedingly Mrs. Allsop's being 
unwell. Mary or both will come and see her 
soon. The frost is cruel, and we have both colds. 
I take pills again, which battle with your wine; 
and victory hovers doubtful. By the by, tho' not 
disinclined to presents, I remember our bargain 
to take a dozen at sale price, and must demur. 

With once again thanks and best loves to 
Mrs. A. Turn over — yours, C. Lamb 


January 20, 1825. 

The brevity of this is owing to scratching it 
off at my desk amid expected interruptions. 
By habit, I can write letters only at office. 

Dear Miss H., — Thank you for a noble goose, 
which wanted only the massive encrustation that 
we used to pick-axe open about this season in old 
Gloster Place. When shall we eat another goose- 
pye together ? The pheasant, too, must not be 
forgotten, twice as big and half as good as a par- 

You ask about the editor of the London; I 
know of none. This first specimen is flat and 
pert enough to justify subscribers who grudge at 
t' other shilling. De Quincey's Parody was sub- 
mitted to him before printed, and had his Pro- 
batum. The Horns is in a poor taste, resembling 


the most laboured papers in the Spectator. I had 
sign'd it Jack Horner: but Taylor and Hessey 
said, it would be thought an offensive article, un- 
less I put my known signature to it ; and wrung 
from me my slow consent. But did you read the 
Memoir of Liston ? and did you guess whose it 
was ? Of all the lies I ever put off, I value this 
most. It is from top to toe, every paragraph, 
pure invention ; and has passed for gospel ; 
has been republished in newspapers, and in the 
penny play-bills of the night, as an authentic ac- 
count. I shall certainly go to the Naughty Man 
some day for my fibbings. In the next Number 
I figure as a Theologian ! and have attacked my 
late brethren, the Unitarians. What Jack-Pud- 
ding tricks I shall play next, I know not. I am 
almost at the end of my tether. 

Coleridge is quite blooming ; but his book has 
not budded yet. I hope I have spelt Torquay 
right now, and that this will find you all mend- 
ing, and looking forward to a London flight with 
the spring. Winter we have had none, but plenty 
of foul weather. I have lately pick'd up an epi- 
gram which pleased me. 

Two noble earls, whom if I quote, 
Some folks might call me sinner; 

The one invented half a coat ; 
The other half a dinner. 

The plan was good, as some will say, 

And fitted to console one : 
Because, in this poor starving day, 

Few can afford a whole one. 


I have made the lame one still lamer by im- 
perfect memory, but spite of bald diction, a little 
done to it might improve it into a good one. 
You have nothing else to do at [" Talk kay" here 
written and scratched out] Torquay. Suppose you 
try it. Well, God bless you all, as wishes Mary, 
most sincerely, with many thanks for letter, &c, 



January 25, 1825. 

Dear Corelli, — My sister's cold is as obstinate 
as an old Handelian, whom a modern amateur 
is trying to convert to Mozartism. As company 
must and always does injure it, Emma and I pro- 
pose to come to you in the evening of to-mor- 
row, instead of meeting here. An early bread-and- 
cheese supper at half-past eight will oblige us. 
Loves to the bearer of many children. 

C. Lamb 

I sign with a black seal, that you may begin to 
think her cold has killed Mary, which will be 
an agreeable unsurprise when you read the note. 


January, 1825. 

Dear D., — My sister's cold continues strong 
and obstinate. We therefore propose to see you, 


&c, sometime in the latter end of next week, 
instead of this. But come you must. 

Believe us, with apologies to your sister, 

Yours sincerely, C. Lamb 


February 8, 1825. 

Dear Sir, — We expect you of course to-mor- 
row. As to the time, six is pleasanter to us than 
seven, and seven than eight. But at any hour we 
shall be most glad to see you and sisters. 

Yours, &c, C. L. 


February 10, 1825. 

Dear B., — I am vexed that ugly paper should 
have offended. I kept it as clear from objection- 
able phrases as possible, and it was Hessey's fault, 
and my weakness, that it did not appear anony- 
mous. No more of it, for God's sake. 

The Spirit of the Age is by Hazlitt. The char- 
acters of Coleridge, &c, he had done better in 
former publications, the praise and the abuse much 
stronger, &c, but the new ones are capitally done. 
Home Tooke is a matchless portrait. My advice 
is, to borrow it rather than read [buy] it. I have 
it. He has laid on too many colours on my like- 
ness, but I have had so much injustice done me 
in my own name that I make a rule of accepting 

3 11 

as much over-measure to Elia as gentlemen think 
proper to bestow. Lay it on and spare not. 

Your gentleman brother sets my mouth a- 
watering after liberty. O that I were kicked out 
of Leadenhall with every mark of indignity, and 
a competence in my fob. The birds of the air 
would not be so free as I should. How I would 
prance and curvet it, and pick up cowslips, and 
ramble about purposeless as an idiot ! The author- 
mometer is a good fancy. I have caused great 
speculation in the dramatic (not thy) world by 
a lying Life of Liston, all pure invention. The 
town has swallowed it, and it is copied into news- 
papers, Play-bills, etc., as authentic. You do not 
know the Droll, and possibly missed reading the 
article (in our first Number, New Series). A life 
more improbable for him to have lived would not 
be easily invented. But your rebuke, coupled 
with Dream on J. Bunyan, checks me. I 'd rather 
do more in my favourite way, but feel dry. I must 
laugh sometimes. I am poor Hypochondriacus, 
and not Liston. 

Our second Number is all trash. What are T. 
and H. about ? It is whip syllabub, " thin sown 
with aught of profit or delight." Thin sown ! 
not a germ of fruit or corn. Why did poor Scott 
die ! There was comfort in writing with such 
associates as were his little band of scribblers, 
some gone away, some affronted away, and I 
am left as the solitary widow looking for water- 


The only clever hand they have is Darley, who 
has written on the Dramatists, under name of 
John Lacy. But his function seems suspended. 

I have been harassed more than usually at 
office, which has stopt my correspondence lately. 
I write with a confused aching head, and you 
must accept this apology for a letter. 

I will do something soon if I can as a peace- 
offering to the Queen of the East Angles. Some- 
thing she sha'n't scold about. 

For the present, farewell. Thine, C. L. 

I am fifty years old this day. Drink my health. 

February, 1825. 

My dear M., — You might have come inop- 
portunely a week since, when we had an inmate. 
At present and for as long as ever you like, our 
castle is at your service. I saw Tuthill yester- 
night, who has done for me what may, — 

To all my nights and days to come, 
Give solely sovran sway and masterdom. 

But I dare not hope, for fear of disappointment. 
I cannot be more explicit at present. But I have 
it under his own hand, that I am w«-capacitated 
(I cannot write it in-\ for business. O joyous im- 
becility ! Not a susurration of this to anybody ! 
Mary's love. C. Lamb 



March i, 1825. 

Dear Miss Hutchinson, — Your news has 
made us all very sad. I had my hopes to the last. 
I seem as if I were disturbing you at such an awful 
time even by a reply. But I must acknowledge 
your kindness in presuming upon the interest we 
shall all feel on the subject. No one will more 
feel it than Robinson, to whom I have written. 
No one more than he and we acknowledged the 
nobleness and worth of what we have lost. Words 
are perfectly idle. We can only pray for resigna- 
tion to the survivors. Our dearest expressions of 
condolence to Mrs. Monkhouse at this time in 
particular. God bless you both. I have nothing 
of ourselves to tell you, and if I had, I could not 
be so unreverent as to trouble you with it. We 
are all well, that is all. Farewell, the departed 
— and the left. Yours and his, while memory 
survives, cordially, C. Lamb 


Dear P., — We shall be most glad to see you, 
though more glad to have seen double you, but we 
will expect finer walking-weather. Bring my 
Congreve, second volume, in your hand. I have 
two books of yours lock'd up, but how shall I tell 
it — horresco referens — that I miss, and can't pos- 
sibly account for it, Hollis on Johnson s Milton ! 


I will march the town thro', but I will repair the 
loss. You will be sorry to hear that poor Monk- 
house died on Saturday at Clifton. C. L. 


March 23, 1825. 

Dear B. B., — I have had no impulse to write, 
or attend to any single object but myself, for 
weeks past. My single self. I by myself, I. lam 
sick of hope deferred. The grand wheel is in 
agitation that is to turn up my fortune, but round 
it rolls and will turn up nothing. I have a glimpse 
of freedom, of becoming a gentleman at large, 
but I am put off from day to day. I have offered 
my resignation, and it is neither accepted nor 
rejected. Eight weeks am I kept in this fearful 
suspense. Guess what an absorbing stake I feel 
it. I am not conscious of the existence of friends 
present or absent. The East India Directors alone 
can be that thing to me — or not. 

I have just learn'd that nothing will be decided 
this week. Why the next ? Why any week ? It 
has fretted me into an itch of the fingers, I rub 
'em against paper and write to you, rather than 
not allay this scorbuta. 

While I can write, let me adjure you to have 
no doubts of Irving. Let Mr. Mitford drop his 
disrespect. Irving has prefixed a dedication (of 
a Missionary Subject first part) to Coleridge, the 
most beautiful, cordial, and sincere. He there 

3 l 5 

acknowledges his obligation to S. T. C. for his 
knowledge of Gospel truths, the nature of a Xtian 
Church, &c, to the talk of S. T. C. (at whose 
Gamaliel feet he sits weekly) [more] than to that 
of all the men living. This from him — the great 
dandled and petted sectarian — to a religious 
character so equivocal in the world's eye as that 
of S. T. C, so foreign to the Kirk's estimate ! — 
Can this man be a quack ? The language is as 
affecting as the spirit of the dedication. Some 
friend told him, " This dedication will do you 
no good," /'. e. not in the world's repute, or with 
your own people. " That is a reason for doing 
it," quoth Irving. I am thoroughly pleased with 
him. He is firm, outspeaking, intrepid — and 
docile as a pupil of Pythagoras. You must like 
him. Yours, in tremors of painful hope, 

C. Lamb 


March 29, 1825. 

I have left the d d India House for ever ! 

Give me great joy. C. Lamb 


April 6, 1825. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I have been several times 
meditating a letter to you concerning the good 
thing which has befallen me, but the thought 


of poor Monkhouse came across me. He was 
one that I had exulted in the prospect of con- 
gratulating me. He and you were to have been 
the first participators, for indeed it has been ten 
weeks since the first motion of it. 

Here I am then after thirty-three years' slavery, 
sitting in my own room at eleven o'clock this 
finest of all April mornings, a freed man, with 
^441 a year for the remainder of my life, live 
I as long as John Dennis, who outlived his an- 
nuity and starved at ninety. £441, i. e. ^450, 
with a deduction of £9 for a provision secured 
to my sister, she being survivor, the pension guar- 
anteed by Act Georgii Tertii, &c. 

I came home for ever on Tuesday in last week. 
The incomprehensibleness of my condition over- 
whelm'd me. It was like passing from life into 
eternity. Every year to be as long as three, i. e. 
to have three times as much real time, time that 
is my own, in it! I wandered about thinking I 
was happy, but feeling I was not. But that tu- 
multuousness is passing off, and I begin to under- 
stand the nature of the gift. Holydays, even the 
annual month, were always uneasy joys : their 
conscious fugitiveness — the craving after making 
the most of them. Now, when all is holyday, 
there are no holydays. I can sit at home in rain 
or shine without a restless impulse for walkings. 
I am daily steadying, and shall soon find it as 
natural to me to be my own master, as it has 
been irksome to have had a master. Mary wakes 

3 J 7 

every morning with an obscure feeling that some 
good has happened to us. 

Leigh Hunt and Montgomery after their 
releasements \they had been imprisoned for libel] 
describe the shock of their emancipation much 
as I feel mine. But it hurt their frames. I eat, 
drink, and sleep sound as ever. I lay no anx- 
ious schemes for going hither and thither, but 
take things as they occur. Yesterday I excur- 
sioned twenty miles, to-day I write a few letters. 
Pleasuring was for fugitive play days, mine are 
fugitive only in the sense that life is fugitive. 
Freedom and life co-existent. 

At the foot of such a call upon you for gratu- 
lation, I am asham'd to advert to that melancholy 
event. Monkhouse was a character I learn'd to 
love slowly, but it grew upon me, yearly, monthly, 
daily. What a chasm has it made in our pleasant 
parties ! His noble friendly face was always com- 
ing before me, till this hurrying event in my life 
came, and for the time has absorpt all interests. 
In fact it has shaken me a little. My old desk 
companions with whom I have had such merry 
hours seem to reproach me for removing my lot 
from among them. They were pleasant creatures, 
but to the anxieties of business, and a weight of 
possible worse ever impending, I was not equal. 
Tuthill and Gilman gave me my certificates. I 
laughed at the friendly lie implied in them, but 
my sister shook her head and said it was all true. 
Indeed this last winter I was jaded out ; winters 


were always worse than other parts of the year, 
because the spirits are worse, and I had no day- 
light. In summer I had daylight evenings. The 
relief was hinted to me from a superior power, 
when I poor slave had not a hope but that I must 
wait another seven years with Jacob — and lo ! 
the Rachel which I coveted is brought to me. 

Have you read the noble dedication of Irving's 
Missionary Orations to S. T. C. ? Who shall call 
this man a quack hereafter ? What the Kirk will 
think of it neither I nor Irving care. When some- 
body suggested to him that it would not be likely 
to do him good, videlicet among his own people, 
" That is a reason for doing it " was his noble 

That Irving thinks he has profited mainly by 
S. T. C, I have no doubt. The very style of the 
Dedication shows it. 

Communicate my news to Southey, and beg 
his pardon for my being so long acknowledging 
his kind present of the Church, which circum- 
stances I do not wish to explain, but having no 
reference to himself, prevented at the time. 
Assure him of my deep respect and friendliest 

Divide the same, or rather each take the whole 
to you, I mean you and all yours. To Miss 
Hutchinson I must write separate. What's her 
address ? I want to know about Mrs. M. 

Farewell ! and end at last, long selfish letter! 

C. Lamb 

3 10 


[At a Court of Directors of the India House held on March 
29, 1825, it was resolved " that the resignation of Mr. Charles 
Lamb of the Accountant General's Office, on account of 
certified ill health, be accepted, and, it appearing that he has 
served the Company faithfully for 33 years, and is now in 
the receipt of an income of £"]T,o per annum, he be allowed 
a pension of ,£450 (four hundred and fifty pounds) per annum, 
under the provisions of the act of the 53 Geo. III., cap. 155, 
to commence from this day."] 


April 6, 1825. 

Dear B. B., — My spirits are so tumultuary 
with the novelty of my recent emancipation, that 
I have scarce steadiness of hand, much more 
mind, to compose a letter. 

I am free, B. B., — free as air. 

The little bird that wings the sky 
Knows no such liberty ! 

I was set free on Tuesday in last week at four 
o'clock. I came home forever ! 

I have been describing my feelings as well as 
I can to Wordsworth in a long letter, and don't 
care to repeat. Take it briefly that for a few days 
I was painfully oppressed by so mighty a change ; 
but it is becoming daily more natural to me. 

I went and sat among 'em all at my old thirty- 
three years' desk yester morning ; and deuce take 
me if I had not yearnings at leaving all my old 
pen-and-ink fellows, merry sociable lads, at leav- 
ing them in the lurch, fag, fag, fag. 


The comparison of my own superior felicity 
gave me anything but pleasure. 

B. B., I would not serve another seven years 
for seven hundred thousand pounds ! I have got 
^44 1 net for life, sanctioned by Act of Parlia- 
ment, with a provision for Mary if she survives 
me. I will live another fifty years ; or, if I live 
but ten, they will be thirty, reckoning the quan- 
tity of real time in them, i. e. the time that is 
a man's own. 

Tell me how you like Barbara S. — will it 
be received in atonement for the foolish vision, 
I mean by the lady ? Apropos, I never saw Mrs. 
Crauford in my life, nevertheless 't is all true of 

Address me in future, Colebrook Cottage, 
Islington. I am really nervous (but that will 
wear off), so take this brief announcement. 
Yours truly, C. L. 


April 1 8, 1825. 

Dear Miss Hutchinson, — You want to know 
all about my gaol delivery. Take it then. About 
twelve weeks since I had a sort of intimation 
that a resignation might be well accepted from 
me. This was a kind bird's whisper. On that 
hint I spake. Gilman and Tuthill furnish'd me 
with certificates of wasted health and sore spirits 
— not much more than the truth, I promise 


you — and for nine weeks I was kept in a fright. 
I had gone too far to recede, and they might 
take advantage and dismiss me with a much less 
sum than I had reckoned on. However, liberty 
came at last with a liberal provision. I have 
given up what I could have lived on in the coun- 
try, but have enough to live here by management 
and scribbling occasionally. I would not go back 
to my prison for seven years longer for ^"10,000 
a year ; seven years after one is fifty is no trifle to 
give up. Still I am a young pensioner, and have 
served but thirty-three years, very few I assure 
you retire before forty, forty-five, or fifty years' 
service. You will ask how I bear my freedom. 
Faith, for some days I was staggered. Could not 
comprehend the magnitude of my deliverance ; 
was confused, giddy, knew not whether I was on 
my head or my heel as they say. But those giddy 
feelings have gone away, and my weather-glass 
stands at a degree or two above 


I go about quiet, and have none of that restless 
hunting after recreation which made holydays 
formerly uneasy joys. All being holydays, I feel 
as if I had none, as they do in heaven, where 't is 
all red-letter days. 

I have a kind letter from the Wordsworths 
congratulatory not a little. 

It is a damp, I do assure you, amid all my pro- 
spects that I can receive none from a quarter upon 
which I had calculated, almost more than from 


any, upon receiving congratulations. I had grown 
to like poor Monkhouse more and more. I do 
not esteem a soul living or not living more warmly 
than I had grown to esteem and value him. But 
words are vain. We have none of us to count 
upon many years. That is the only cure for sad 
thoughts. If only some died, and the rest were 
permanent on earth, what a thing a friend's death 
would be then ! 

I must take leave, having put off answering 
a load of letters to this morning, and this, alas ! 
is the first. Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. 
Monkhouse and believe us, 

Yours most truly, C. Lamb 


May 2, 1825. 

Dear Hone, — I send you a trifle ; you have 
seen my lines, I suppose, in the London. I can- 
not tell you how much I like the St. Chad Wells. 
Yours truly, C. Lamb 

P. S. Why did you not stay, or come again, 
yesterday ? 


May, 1825. 

DearW., — I write post-haste to ensure a frank. 
Thanks for your hearty congratulations. I may 

3 2 3 

now date from the sixth week of my Hegira or 
Flight from Leadenhall. I have lived so much 
in it, that a summer seems already past, and 'tis 
but early May yet with you and other people. 
How I look down on the slaves and drudges of 
the world ! its inhabitants are a vast cotton-web 
of spin-spin-spinners. O the carking cares ! 

the money-grubbers — sempiternal muck- 
worms ! 

Your Virgil I have lost sight of, but suspect 
it is in the hands of Sir G. Beaumont. I think 
that circumstances made me shy of procuring it 
before. Will you write to him about it? and your 
commands shall be obeyed to a tittle. 

Coleridge hasjustfinish'dhisprize Essay, which 
if it get the prize he'll touch an additional ^100 

1 fancy. His book, too (commentary on Bishop 
Leighton), is quite finished and penes Taylor and 

In the London which is just out ( ist May) are 
two papers entitled the Superannuated Man, which 
I wish you to see, and also ist April a little thing 

called Barbara S , a story gleaned from Miss 

Kelly. The London Magazine, if you can get it, 
will save my enlargement upon the topic of my 

I must scribble to make up my hiatus crumenae, 
for there are so many ways, pious and profligate, 
of getting rid of money in this vast city and sub- 
urbs that I shall miss my thirds : but couragio. 
I despair not. Your kind hint of the cottage was 

3 2 4 

well thrown out. An anchorage for age and 
school of economy when necessity comes. But 
without this latter I have an unconquerable ter- 
ror of changing place. It does not agree with us. 
I say it from conviction; else I do sometimes 
ruralize in fancy. 

Some d d people are come in and I must 

finish abruptly. By d d, I only mean deuced. 

'T is these suitors of Penelope that make it 
necessary to authorise a little for gin and mutton 
and such trifles. 

Excuse my abortive scribble. 

Yours, not in more haste than heart, C. L. 

Love and recollects to all the Wms., Doras, 
Maries round your Wrekin. 

Mary is capitally well. Do write to Sir G. B. 
for I am shyish of applying to him. 



Hypochondriac. We can't reckon avec any 
certainty for une heure * * * as follows : 


I like the taxes when they 're not too many, 
I like a sea-coal fire when not too dear ; 

I like a beafsteak, too, as well as any, 
Have no objection to a pot of beer ; 

I like the weather when it 's not too rainy, 
That is, I like two months of every year. 

3 2 5 


I also like to dine on becaficas, 

To see the sun set, sure he '11 rise to-morrow, 
Not through a misty morning twinkling weak as 

A drunken man's dead eye in maudlin sorrow. 
But with all heaven t' himself; that day will break as 

Beauteous as cloudless, nor be forced to borrow 
That sort of farthing candlelight which glimmers 
Where reeking London's smoky cauldron simmers. 

Kind regards to Mama and remembrances to 
Frere Richard. Dieu remercie mon frere can't 
lizer Fransay. I have written this letter with 
a most villainous pen — called a patent one. 

En finis je remarque I was not offense a votre 
fransay et I was not embarrasse to make it out. 

I have not quite done that instead of 

your company in Miss Norris ; epistle has deter- 
mined me to come if heaven, earth, and myself 
can compass it. Amen. [No Signature.] 


May 29, 1825. 

Dear A., — I am as mad as the devil — but 
I had engaged myself and Mary to accompany 
Mrs. Kenny to Kentish-Town to dinner at a com- 
mon friend's on Friday, before I knew of Mary's 
engaging you. 

Can you and Mrs. A. exchange the day for 
Sunday, or what other. Write. 

Success to the gnomes ! C. Lamb 



May, 1825. 

With regard to a John-dory, which you desire 
to be particularly informed about, I honour the 
fish, but it is rather on account of Quin who 
patronised it, and whose taste (of a dead man) 
I had as lieve go by as anybody's (Apicius 
and Heliogabalus excepted — this latter started 
nightingales' tongues and peacocks' brains as 
a garnish). 

Else, in itself, and trusting to my own poor 
single judgment, it hath not that moist mel- 
low oleaginous gliding smooth descent from the 
tongue to the palate, thence to the stomach, 
&c, that your Brighton turbot hath, which I 
take to be the most friendly and familiar flavour 
of any that swims — most genial and at home to 
the palate. 

Nor has it on the other hand that fine falling- 
off flakiness, that oleaginous peeling-ofF (as it 
were, like a sea-onion), which endears your 
cod's head and shoulders to some appetites ; that 
manly firmness, combined with a sort of woman- 
ish coming-in-pieces, which the same cod's 
head and shoulders hath, where the whole is 
easily separable, pliant to a knife or a spoon, 
but each individual flake presents a pleasing re- 
sistance to the opposed tooth. You understand 
me — these delicate subjects are necessarily ob- 


But it has a third flavour of its own, perfectly 
distinct from cod or turbot, which it must be 
owned may to some not injudicious palates ren- 
der it acceptable — but to my unpractised tooth 
it presented rather a crude river-fish-flavour, like 
your pike or carp, and perhaps like them should 
have been tamed and corrected by some labori- 
ous and well-chosen sauce. Still I always sus- 
pect a fish which requires so much of artificial 
settings-off. Your choicest relishes (like Nature's 
loveliness) need not the foreign aid of ornament, 
but are when unadorned (that is, with nothing 
but a little plain anchovy and a squeeze of lemon) 
then adorned the most. However, I shall go to 
Brighton again next summer, and shall have an 
opportunity of correcting my judgment, if it is 
not sufficiently informed. I can only say that 
when Nature was pleased to make the John- 
dory so notoriously deficient in outward graces 
(as to be sure he is the very rhinoceros of fishes, 
the ugliest dog that swims, except perhaps the 
sea satyr, which I never saw, but which they 
say is terrible), when she formed him with so 
few external advantages, she might have bestowed 
a more elaborate finish in his parts internal, and 
have given him a relish, a sapor, to recommend 
him, as she made Pope a poet to make up for 
making him crooked. 

I am sorry to find that you have got a knack 
of saying things which are not true to shew your 
wit. If I had no wit but what I must shew at 


the expence of my virtue or my modesty, I had 
as lieve be as stupid as * * * at the tea ware- 
house. Depend upon it, my dear Chambers, 
that an ounce of integrity at our death-bed will 
stand us in more avail than all the wit of Con- 
greve or * * * For instance, you tell me a fine 
story about Truss, and his playing at Leaming- 
ton, which I know to be false, because I have 
advice from Derby that he was whipt through 
the town on that very day you say he appeared 
in some character or other, for robbing an old 
woman at church of a seal-ring. And Dr. Parr 
has been two months dead. So it won't do to 
scatter these untrue stories about among people 
that know anything. Besides, your forte is not 
invention. It is judgment, particularly shown in 
your choice of dishes. We seem in that instance 
born under one star. I like you for liking hare. 
I esteem you for disrelishing minced veal. Lik- 
ing is too cold a word. — I love you for your 
noble attachment to the fat unctuous juices of 
deer's flesh and the green unspeakable of turtle. 
I honour you for your endeavours to esteem and 
approve of my favourite, which I ventured to 
recommend to you as a substitute for hare, bul- 
lock's heart, and I am not offended that you 
cannot taste it with my palate. A true son of 
Epicurus should reserve one taste peculiar to 
himself. For a long time I kept the secret about 
the exceeding deliciousness of the marrow of 
boiled knuckle of veal, till my tongue weakly 


ran riot in its praises, and now it is prostitute and 
common. But I have made one discovery which 
I will not impart till my dying scene is over, 
perhaps it will be my last mouthful in this 
world : delicious thought, enough to sweeten 
(or rather make savoury) the hour of death. It 
is a little square bit about this size \Here Lamb 
makes a square about i x Yz inches^ in or near the 
knuckle-bone of a fried joint of * * * fat I can't 
call it nor lean neither altogether, it is that 
beautiful compound, which Nature must have 
made in Paradise Park venison, before she sep- 
arated the two substances, the dry and the 
oleaginous, to punish sinful mankind ; Adam ate 
them entire and inseparate, and this little taste 
of Eden in the knuckle-bone of a fried * * * 
seems the only relique of a Paradisaical state. 
When I die, an exact description of its topo- 
graphy shall be left in a cupboard with a key, 
inscribed on which these words, " C. Lamb 
dying imparts this to C. Chambers as the only 
worthy depository of such a secret." You '11 
drop a tear. 


June, 1825. 

My dear Coleridge, — With pain and grief, 
I must entreat you to excuse us on Thursday. My 
head, though externally correct, has had a severe 
concussion in my long illness, and the very idea 


of an engagement hanging over for a day or two, 
forbids my rest ; and I get up miserable. I am 
not well enough for company. I do assure you, 
no other thing prevents my coming. I expect 
Field and his brothers this or to-morrow even- 
ing, and it worries me to death that I am not 
ostensibly ill enough to put 'em off. I will get 
better, when I shall hope to see your nephew. 
He will come again. Mary joins in best love to 
the Gillmans. Do, I earnestly entreat you, excuse 
me. I assure you, again, that I am not fit to go out 
yet. Yours (tho' shattered), C. Lamb 



June 14, 1825. 

Dear Sir, — I am quite ashamed, after your 
kind letter, of having expressed any disappoint- 
ment about my remuneration. It is quite equiva- 
lent to the value of anything I have yet sent you. 
I had twenty guineas a sheet from the London ; 
and what I did for them was more worth that 
sum, than anything, I am afraid, I can now pro- 
duce, would be worth the lesser sum. I used 
up all my best thoughts in that publication, and 
I do not like to go on writing worse and worse, 
and feeling that I do so. I want to try something 
else. However, if any subject turns up, which 
I think will do your magazine no discredit, you 
shall have it at your price, or something between 
that and my old price. I prefer writing to see- 

33 1 

ing you just now, for after such a letter as I have 
received from you, in truth I am ashamed to see 
you. We will never mention the thing again. 
Your obliged friend and servant, C. Lamb 


July 2, 1825. 

Dear C, — We are going off to Enfield, to 
Allsop's, for a day or two, with some intention 
of succeeding them in their lodging for a time, 
for this damn'd nervous fever (vide London Mag- 
azine for July) indisposes me for seeing any 
friends, and never any poor devil was so be- 
friended as I am. Do you know any poor soli- 
tary human that wants that cordial to life a — 
true friend? I can spare him twenty; he shall 
have 'em good cheap. I have gallipots of 'em 

— genuine balm of cares — a-going — a-going 

— a-going. Little plagues plague me a thousand 
times more than ever. I am like a disembodied 
soul — in this my eternity. I feel everything en- 
tirely, all in all and all in etc. This price I pay 
for liberty, but am richly content to pay it. 

The Odes are four-fifths done by Hood, a 
silentish young man. you met at Islington one 
day — an invalid. The rest are Reynolds's, whose 
sister H. has recently married. I have not had 
a broken finger in them. 

They are hearty good-natured things, and I 
would put my name to 'em chearfully, if I could 

33 2 

as honestly. I complimented them in a news- 
paper, with an abatement for those puns you 
laud so. They are generally an excess. A pun is 
a thing of too much consequence to be thrown 
in as a make-weight. You shall read one of the 
addresses over, and miss the puns, and it shall be 
quite as good and better than when you discover 
'em. A pun is a noble thing per se : O never 
lug it in as an accessory. A pun is a sole object 
for reflection [vide my aids to that recessment 
from a savage state) — it is entire, it fills the 
mind : it is perfect as a sonnet, better. It limps 
asham'd in the train and retinue of humour : it 
knows it should have an establishment of its 
own. The one, for instance, I made the other 
day; I forget what it was. 

Hood will be gratify'd, as much as I am, by 
your mistake. I liked Grimaldi the best ; it is true 
painting, of abstract clownery, and that precious 
concrete of a clown : and the rich succession of 
images, and words almost such, in the first half 
of the Mag. Ignotum. Your picture of the camel, 
that would not or could not thread your nice 
needle-eye of subtilisms, was confirm'd by Elton, 
who perfectly appreciated his abrupt departure. 
Elton borrowed the Aids from Hessey (by the 
way what is your enigma about Cupid ? I am 
Cytherea's son, if I understand a tittle of it), and 
return'd it next day saying that twenty years ago, 
when he was pure, he thought as you do now, 
but that he now thinks as you did twenty years 


ago. But E. seems a very honest fellow. Hood 
has just come in ; his sick eyes sparkled into 
health when he read your approbation. They 
had meditated a copy for you, but postponed it 
till a neater second edition, which is at hand. 

Have you heard the Creature at the Opera 
House — Signor Nonvir sed Veluti vir? 

Like Orpheus, he is said to draw storks, &c, 
after him. A picked raisin for a sweet banquet 
of sounds; but I affect not these exotics. Nos 
durum genus, as mellifluous Ovid hath it. 

Fanny Holcroft is just come in, with her pa- 
ternal severity of aspect. She has frozen a bright 
thought which should have follow'd. She makes 
us marble, with too little conceiving. 'T was 
respecting the Signor, whom I honour on this 
side idolatry. Well, more of this anon. 

We are setting out to walk to Enfield after 
our beans and bacon, which are just smoking. 

Kindest remembrances to the G.'s ever. 

Second day, third month of my Hegira or 
Flight from Leadenhall. 

C. L. Olim Clericus 


July 2, 1825. 

My dear B. B., — My nervous attack has so 
unfitted me, that I have not courage to sit down 
to a letter. My poor pittance in the London you 
will see is drawn from my sickness. Your book 


is very acceptable to me, because most of it is 
new to me ; but your book itself we cannot thank 
you for more sincerely than for the introduction 
you favoured us with to Anne Knight. Now can- 
not I write Mrs. Anne Knight for the life of 
me. She is a very pleas — , but I won't write all 
we have said of her so often to ourselves, because 
I suspect you would read it to her. Only give my 
sister's and my kindest remembrances to her, 
and how glad we are we can say that word. If 
ever she come to Southwark again I count upon 
another pleasant bridge walk with her. Tell her, 
I got home, time for a rubber ; but poor Try- 
phena will not understand that phrase of the 

I am hardly able to appreciate your volume 
now. But I liked the dedication much, and the 
apology for your bald burying-grounds. To 
Shelley, but that is not new. To the young Ves- 
per-singer, Great Bealing's, Playford, and what 
not ? 

If there be a cavil it is that the topics of relig- 
ious consolation, however beautiful, are repeated 
till a sort of triteness attends them. It seems 
as if you were for ever losing friends' children 
by death, and reminding their parents of the 
Resurrection. Do children die so often, and so 
good, in your parts ? The topic, taken from the 
consideration that they are snatch'd away from 
possible vanities, seems hardly sound; for to an 
omniscient eye their conditional failings must be 


one with their actual ; but I am too unwell for 

Such as I am, I am yours, and A. K.'s truly, 

C. Lamb 


July 5, 1825. 

Dear Sir, — With thanks for your last Number 
of the Cabinet ; as I cannot arrange with a Lon- 
don publisher to reprint Rosamund Gray as a book, 
it will be at your service to admit into the Cabinet 
as soon as you please. Your humble servant, 

Charles Lamb 

Emma, eldest of your name, 
Meekly trusting in her God 
Midst the red-hot plough-shares trod, 
And unscorch'd preserved her fame. 

By that test if you were tried, 
Ugly flames might be defied ; 
Though devouring fire's a glutton, 
Through the trial you might go 
" On the light fantastic toe," 
Nor for plough-shares care a Button.' 


July, 1825. 

Dear Allsop, — We are bent upon coming here 
to-morrow for a few weeks. Despatch a porter 

[' It is said that the Buttons, for one of whom this acrostic was 
written, were cousins of the Lambs. — E. V. Lucas.] 

33 6 

to me this evening, or by nine to-morrow morn- 
ing, to say how far it will interfere with your 
proposed coming down on Saturday. If the house 
will hold us, we can be together while we stay. 
Yours, C. Lamb 

After a hot walk. 


July 20, 1825. 

Dear Allsop, — It is too hot to write. Here 
we are, having turned you out of your beds, but 
willing to resign in your favour, or make any 
shifts with you. Our best loves to Mrs. Allsop, 
from Mrs. Leishman's, this warm Saturday. 
Yours truly, C. Lamb 

This damned afternoon sun ! Thanks for your 
note, which came in more than good time. 


July 25, 1825. 

Dear H., — The Quotidian came in as pleas- 
antly as it was looked for at breakfast time yes- 
terday. You have repaid my poor stanzas with 
interest. This last interlineation is one of those 
instances of affectation rightly applied. Read the 
sentence without it, how bald it is ! Your idea 
of " worsted in the dog-days " was capital. 


We are here so comfortable that I am con- 
fident we shall stay one month, from this date, 
most probably longer ; so if you please, you can 
cut your out-of-town room for that time. I have 
sent up my petit farce altered ; and Harley is at 
the theatre now. It cannot come out for some 
weeks. When it does, we think not of leaving 
here, but to borrow a bed of you for the night. 

I write principally to say that the fourth of 
August is coming, — Dogget's Coat and Badge 
Day on the water. You will find a good deal 
about him in Cibbers Apology, octavo, facing the 
window ; and something haply in a thin blackish 
quarto among the plays, facing the fireside. 

You have done with mad dogs ; else there is a 
print of Rowlandson's, or somebody's, of people 
in pursuit of one in a village, which might have 
come in : also Goldsmith's verses. 

Mary's kind remembrance. C. Lamb 


August, 1825. 

Dear A., — Mary is afraid lest the calico and 
handkerchiefs have miscarried which you were 
to send. Have you sent 'em ? 

Item a bill with 'em including the former silks, 
and balance struck in a tradesman-like way. 
Yours truly, C. L, 



August 10, 1825. 

Dear B. B., — You must excuse my not writ- 
ing before, when I tell you we are on a visit at 
Enfield, where I do not feel it natural to sit down 
to a letter. It is at all times an exertion. I had 
rather talk with you, and Ann Knight, quietly at 
Colebrook Lodge, over the matter of your last. 
You mistake me when you express misgivings 
about my relishing a series of scriptural poems. 
I wrote confusedly. What I meant to say was, 
that one or two consolatory poems on deaths 
would have had a more condensed effect than 
many. Scriptural — devotional topics — admit 
of infinite variety. So far from poetry tiring me 
because religious, I can read, and I say it seriously, 
the homely old version of the Psalms in our 
Prayer-books for an hour or two together some- 
times without sense of weariness. 

I did not express myself clearly about what 
I think a false topic insisted on so frequently in 
consolatory addresses on the death of infants. I 
know something like it is in Scripture, but I think 
humanly spoken. It is a natural thought, a sweet 
fallacy to the survivors — but still a fallacy. If 
it stands on the doctrine of this being a proba- 
tionary state, it is liable to this dilemma. Omni- 
science, to whom possibility must be clear as 
act, must know of the child, what it would here- 
after turn out : if good, then the topic is false to 


say it is secured from falling into future wilful- 
ness, vice, &c. If bad, I do not see how its ex- 
emption from certain future overt acts by being 
snatched away at all tells in its favour. You stop 
the arm of a murderer, or arrest the finger of a 
pickpurse, but is not the guilt incurred as much 
by the intent as if never so much acted ? Why 
children are hurried off, and old reprobates of a 
hundred left, whose trial humanly we may think 
was complete at fifty, is among the obscurities 
of Providence. The very notion of a state of 
probation has darkness in it. The All-knower 
has no need of satisfying his eyes by seeing what 
we will do, when he knows before what we will 
do. Methinks we might be condemn'd before 
commission. In these things we grope and floun- 
der, and if we can pick up a little human comfort 
that the child taken is snatch'd from vice (no 
great compliment to it, by the bye), let us take 
it. And as to where an untried child goes, 
whether to join the assembly of its elders who 
have borne the heat of the day — fire-purified 
martyrs, and torment-sifted confessors — what 
know we ? We promise heaven, methinks, too 
cheaply, and assign large revenues to minors, in- 
competent to manage them. Epitaphs run upon 
this topic of consolation, till the very frequency 
induces a cheapness. Tickets for admission into 
Paradise are sculptured out at a penny a letter, 
twopence a syllable, &c. It is all a mystery; and 
the more I try to express my meaning (having 


none that is clear) the more I flounder. Finally, 
write what your own conscience, which to you 
is the unerring judge, seems best, and be careless 
about the whimsies of such a half-baked notionist 
as I am. 

We are here in a most pleasant country, full 
of walks, and idle to our hearts' desire. Tay- 
lor has dropt the London. It was indeed a dead 
weight. It has got in the Slough of Despond. 
I shuffle off my part of the pack, and stand like 
Christian with light and merry shoulders. It had 
got silly, indecorous, pert, and everything that 
is bad. 

Both our kind remembrances to Mrs. K. and 
yourself, and stranger's-greeting to Lucy — is 
it Lucy or Ruth ? — that gathers wise sayings in 
a Book. C. Lamb 

We shall be soon again at Colebrook. 


August 10, 1825. 

Dear Southey, — You '11 know who this letter 
comes from by opening slap-dash upon the text, 
as in the good old times. I never could come 
into the custom of envelopes ; 'tis a modern fop- 
pery ; the Plinian correspondence gives no hint 
of such. In singleness of sheet and meaning then 
I thank you for your little book. I am ashamed 
to add a codicil of thanks for your Book of the 


Church. I scarce feel competent to give an opin- 
ion of the latter ; I have not reading enough 
of that kind to venture at it. I can only say the 
fact, that I have read it with attention and inter- 
est. Being, as you know, not quite a Churchman, 
I felt a jealousy at the Church taking to herself 
the whole deserts of Christianity, Catholic and 
Protestant, from Druid extirpation downwards. 
I call all good Christians the Church, Capilla- 
rians and all. But I am in too light a humour 
to touch these matters. May all our churches 
flourish ! 

Two things staggered me in the poem (and 
one of them staggered both of us). I cannot 
away with a beautiful series of verses, as I protest 
they are, commencing " Jenner." 'Tis like a 
choice banquet opened with a pill or an electu- 
ary — physic stuff. T'other is, we cannot make 
out how Edith should be no more than ten years 
old. By'r Lady, we had taken her to be some 
sixteen or upwards. We suppose you have only 
chosen the round number for the metre. Or 
poem and dedication may be both older than 
they pretend to ; but then some hint might have 
been given ; for, as it stands, it may only serve 
some day to puzzle the parish reckoning. But 
without inquiring further (for 't is ungracious to 
look into a lady's years), the dedication is emi- 
nently pleasing and tender, and we wish Edith 
May Southey joy of it. Something, too, struck 
us as if we had heard of the death of John May. 


A John May's death was a few years since in the 
papers. We think the tale one of the quietest, 
prettiest things we have seen. You have been 
temperate in the use of localities, which gener- 
ally spoil poems laid in exotic regions. You 
mostly cannot stir out (in such things) for hum- 
ming-birds and fire-flies. A tree is a magnolia, 
&c. — Can I but like the truly catholic spirit ? 
" Blame as thou may est the Papist's erring creed " 
— which and other passages brought me back to 
the old Anthology days and the admonitory lesson 
to " Dear George " on The Vesper Bell, a little 
poem which retains its first hold upon me 

The compliment to the transla tress is daintily 
conceived. Nothing is choicer in that sort of 
writing than to bring in some remote, impossible 
parallel, — as between a great empress and the 
inobtrusive quiet soul who digged her noiseless 
way so perseveringly through that rugged Para- 
guay mine. How she DobrizhofFered it all out, 
it puzzles my slender Latinity to conjecture. 
Why do you seem to sanction Landor's unfeeling 
allegorising away of honest Quixote ! He may 
as well say Strap is meant to symbolise the 
Scottish nation before the Union, and Random 
since that act of dubious issue ; or that Partridge 
means the Mystical Man, and Lady Bellaston 
typifies the Woman upon Many Waters. Gebir, 
indeed, may mean the state of the hop markets 
last month, for anything I know to the contrary. 


That all Spain overflowed with romancical books 
(as Madge Newcastle calls them) was no reason 
that Cervantes should not smile at the matter of 
them ; nor even a reason that, in another mood, 
he might not multiply them, deeply as he was 
tinctured with the essence of them. Quixote is 
the father of gentle ridicule, and at the same 
time the very depository and treasury of chiv- 
alry and highest notions. Marry, when some- 
body persuaded Cervantes that he meant only 
fun, and put him upon writing that unfortunate 
Second Part with the confederacies of that 
unworthy duke and most contemptible duchess, 
Cervantes sacrificed his instinct to his under- 

We got your little book but last night, being 
at Enfield, to which place we came about a month 
since, and are having quiet holydays. Mary walks 
her twelve miles a day some days, and I my 
twenty on others. 'T is all holiday with me now, 
you know. The change works admirably. 

For literary news, in my poor way, I have a 
one-act farce going to be acted at the Haymar- 
ket ; but when ? is the question. 'T is an extrav- 
aganza, and like enough to follow Mr. H. The 
London Magazine has shifted its publishers once 
more, and I shall shift myself out of it. It is 
fallen. My ambition is not at present higher 
than to write nonsense for the play-houses, to 
eke out a somewhat contracted income. Tempus 
erat. There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, 


when the Muse, &c. But I am now in Mac 
Fleckno's predicament, — 

Promised a play, and dwindled to a farce. 

Coleridge is better (was, at least, a few weeks 
since) than he has been for years. His accom- 
plishing his book at last has been a source of 
vigour to him. We are on a half visit to his 
friend Allsop, at a Mrs. Leishman's, Enfield, but 
expect to be at Colebrooke Cottage in a week or 
so, where, or anywhere, I shall be always most 
happy to receive tidings from you. 

G. Dyer is in the height of a uxorious para- 
dise. His honeymoon will not wane till he wax 
cold. Never was a more happy pair, since Acme 
and Septimius, and longer. Farewell, with many 
thanks, dear S. Our loves to all round your 
Wrekin. Your old friend, C. Lamb 


August 10, 1825. 

Dear H., — Will you direct these from Miss 
Hazlitt to Mr. Thelwall, whose address I know 

I have returned the Shakspeare errata, finding 
much nonsense ; good principles of correction, 
but sad wildness in the application of them. No 
magazine, as magazines go, would pay for the 
inclosed. Thelwall may take them for friend- 
ship's sake. Yours, as before, C. L. 



Dear C, — I shall do very well. The sunshine 
is medicinal, as you will find when you venture 
hither some fine day. Enfield is beautiful. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


August 12, 1825. 

Dear Hone, — Your books are right accept- 
able. I did not enter farther about Dogget, be- 
cause on second thoughts the book I mean does 
not refer to him. A coach from the " Bell," or 
" Bell and Crown," sets off" to Enfield at half- 
past four. Put yourself in it to-morrow afternoon 
and come to us ; take a bed at an inn, and waste 
all Sunday with us. We desire to show you the 
country here. If we are out when you come, the 
maid is instructed to keep you upon tea and pro- 
per bread and butter till we come home. Pray 
secure me the last number of the Every Day Book, 
that which has S. R[ay] in it, which by mistake 
has never come. Did our newsman not bring it on 
Monday ? Don't send home for it, for if I get 
it hereafter (so I have it at last), it is all I want. 
Mind, we shall expect you Saturday night or 
Sunday morning. There are Edmonton coaches 
from Bishopsgate every half hour. The walk 
thence to Enfield easy across the fields ; a mile 
and half. Yours truly, C. Lamb 


This invitation is "ingenuous." I assure you 
we want to see you here. Or will Sunday night 
and all day Monday suit you better ? The coach 
sets you down at Mrs. Leishman's. 


August, 1825. 

Dear Hone, — I sent you a note by post to- 
day, but this comes sooner by a friend. Put your- 
self in the coach (" Bell," Holborn) to-morrow 
(Saturday) afternoon, half-past four. Come and 
take a bed at an inn, and waste Sunday with us 
gloriously. We have dainty spots to show you. 
If you can't come, come Sunday and stay Mon- 
day. Coaches to Edmonton go hourly from Bish- 
opgate, but we shall hope for you on Saturday 
(to-morrow) evening. C. Lamb 

Pray send the inclosed, and burn what comes 
inclosed in the post letter. Put last week's Every 
Day in your pocket, which we have missed ; that 
which has S. R[ay]. 


My dear Allsop, — Mrs. Leishman gives us 
hopes of seeing you all on Sunday. We shall 
provide a bit of beef or something on that day, 
so you need not market. We are very comfort- 
able here. Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. 


Allsop and the chits. We lying-in people go out 
on Saturday, Mrs. L. bids me say, and that you 
may come that evening and find beds, &c. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


September 9, 1825. 

My dear Allsop, — We are exceedingly grieved 
for your loss. When your note came, my sister 
went to Pall Mall, to find you, and saw Mrs. L. 
and was a little comforted to find Mrs. A. had 
returned to Enfield before the distressful event. 
I am very feeble, can scarce move a pen; got 
home from Enfield on the Friday ; and on 
Monday following was laid up with a most vio- 
lent nervous fever, second this summer, have had 
leeches to my temples, have not had, nor cannot 
get yet, a night's sleep. So you will excuse more 
from Yours truly, C. Lamb 

Our most kind remembrances to poor Mrs. 
Allsop. A line to say how you both are will be 
most acceptable. 


September 24, 1825. 

My dear Allsop, — Come not near this unfor- 
tunate roof yet a while. My disease is clearly 
but slowly going. Field is an excellent attend- 


ant. But Mary's anxieties have overturned her. 
She has her old Miss James with her, without 
whom I should not feel a support in the world. 
We keep in separate apartments, and must 
weather it. Let me know all of your healths. 
Kindest love to Mrs. Allsop. C. Lamb 

Can you call at Mrs. Burney, 26 James Street, 
and tell her, and that I can see no one here in 
this state. If Martin return — if well enough, 
I will meet him somewhere ; don't let him come. 


Dear Allsop, — My injunctions about not 
calling here had solely reference to your being 
unwell, &c, at home. I am most glad to see 
you on my own account. I dine at three on 
either Sunday ; come then, or earlier or later ; 
only before dinner I generally walk. Your 
dining here will be quite convenient. I of course 
have a joint that day. I owe you for newspapers, 
Cobbetts, pheasants, what not ? 

Yours most obliged, C. L. 

P. S. I am so well (except rheumatism, which 
forbids my being out on evenings) that I forgot 
to mention my health in the above. Mary is 
very poorly yet. Love to Mrs. Allsop. 


SOje Hitor r0ior pre es