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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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Treasure 'Room 


1801— 1814 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 


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'v. 3 

Copyright, 1906, bj 
Thi Bibliophile Socirt 

.ill rights reserved 

s/ 717/3 



Late February, 1801. 

You masters of logic ought to know (logic is 
nothing more than a knowledge of words, as the 
Greek etymon implys),that all words are no more 
to be taken in the literal sense at all times than 
a promise given to a Taylor. When I expresst an 
apprehension that you were mortally offended, I 
meant no more than by the application of a cer- 
tain formula of efficacious sounds, which had done 
in similar cases before, to rouse a sense of decency 
in you, and a remembrance of what was due to 
me ! You masters of logic should advert to this 
phenomenon in human speech, before you arraign 
the usage of us dramatic Geniuses. Imagination 
is a good blood mare, and goes well ; but the 
misfortune is, she has too many paths before her. 
'T is true I might have imaged to myself, that 
you had trundled your frail carcase to Norfolk. 
I might also, and did imagine, that you had not, 
but that you were lazy, or inventing new pro- 
perties in a triangle, and for that purpose moulding 
and squeezing Landlord Crisp's three-cornered 
beaver into phantastic experimental forms ; or, 
that Archimedes was meditating to repulse the 
French, in case of a Cambridge invasion, by a 


geometric hurling of Folios on their red caps ; or, 
peradventure, that you were in extremities, in 
great wants, and just set out for Trinity Bogs 
when my letters came. In short, my Genius 
(which is a short word now-a-days for what-a- 
great-man-am-I) was absolutely stifled and over- 
laid with its own riches. Truth is one and poor, 
like the cruse of Elijah's Widow. Imagination 
is the bald face that multiplys its oil : and thou, 
the old cracked salvy pipkin, that could not 
believe it could be put to such purposes. Dull 
pipkin, to have Elijah for thy Cook ! Imbecile 
recipient of so fat a miracle ! I send you George 
Dyer's Poems, the richest production of the Lyr- 
ical muse this century can justly boast: for Words- 
worth's L. B. were published, or at least written, 
before Xmas. 

Please to advert to pages 291 to 296 for the 
most astonishing account of where Shakspeare's 
Muse has been all this while. I thought she had 
been dead, and buried in Stratford Church, with 
the young man that kept her company, — 

But it seems, like the Devil, 

Buried in Cole Harbour. 
Some say she 's risen again, 

'Gone prentice to a barber. 

N. B. — I don't charge anything for the 
additional manuscript notes, which are the joint 
productions of myself and a learned translator of 
Schiller, John Stoddart, Esq. 

N. B. the 2nd. — I should not have blotted 


your book, but I had sent my own out to be 
bound, as I was in duty bound. A liberal crit- 
icism upon the several pieces, lyrical, heroical, 
amatory, and satirical, would be acceptable. So, 
you don't think there 's a Word's — worth of 
good poetry in the great L. B. ! I dare n't put 
the dreaded syllables at their just length, for my 
arse tickles red from the northern castigation. 
I send you the three letters, which I beg you 
to return along with those former letters, which 
I hope you are not going to print by your deten- 
tion. But don't be in a hurry to send them. 
When you come to town will do. Apropos of 
coming to town, last Sunday was a fortnight, as 
I was coming to town from the Professor's, inspired 
with new rum, I tumbled down, and broke my 
nose. I drink nothing stronger than malt liquors. 
I am going to change my lodgings, having 
received a hint that it would be agreeable, at Our 
Lady's next feast. I have partly fixed upon most 
delectable rooms, which look out (when you 
stand a tiptoe) over the Thames and Surrey Hills, 
at the upper end of King's Bench Walks, in the 
Temple. There I shall have all the privacy of a 
house without the encumbrance, and shall be able 
to lock my friends out as often as I desire to hold 
free converse with my immortal mind; for my 
present lodgings resemble a minister's levee, I 
have so increased my acquaintance (as they call 
'em), since I have resided in town. Like the town 
[country] mouse, that had tasted a little of urban 


manners, I long to be nibbling my own cheese 
by my dear self without mouse-traps and time- 
traps. By my new plan, I shall be as airy, up four 
pair of stairs, as in the country ; and in a garden, 
in the midst of enchanting more than Mahom- 
etan paradise London, whose dirtiest drab-fre- 
quented alley, and her lowest bowing tradesman, 
I would not exchange for Skiddaw, Helvellyn, 
James, Walter, and the parson into the bargain. 
O ! her lamps of a night ! her rich goldsmiths, 
print-shops, toy-shops, mercers, hardwaremen, 
pastry-cooks ! St. Paul's Churchyard, the Strand, 
Exeter Change, Charing Cross, with the man upon 
a black horse ! These are thy gods, O London ! 
A'nt you mightily moped in the banks of the 
Cam ? Had you not better come and set up here ? 
You can't think what a difference. All the streets 
and pavements are pure gold, I warrant you. At 
least I know an alchemy that turns her mud into 
that metal, — a mind that loves to be at home 
in crowds. 

'T is half-past twelve o'clock, and all sober 
people ought to be a-bed. Between you and me, 
the Lyrical Ballads are but drowsy performances. 
C. Lamb (as you may guess). 


[" So, you don't think there 's a Word's — worth . . ." 
Manning had written, of the second volume of Lyrical Bal- 
lads : " I think 't is utterly absurd from one end to the other. 
You tell me 't is good poetry — if you mean that there is no- 
thing puerile, nothing bombast or conceited, everything else 


that is so often found to disfigure poetry, I agree, but will 
you read it over and over again ? Answer me that, Mas- 
ter Lamb."] 


April, 1801. 

I was not aware that you owed me anything 
beside that guinea ; but I dare say you are right. 
I live at No. 1 6 Mitre-Court Buildings, a pistol- 
shot off Baron Maseres'. You must introduce 
me to the baron. I think we should suit one 
another mainly. He lives on the ground floor for 
convenience of the gout ; I prefer the attic story 
for the air ! He keeps three footmen and two 
maids ; I have neither maid nor laundress, not 
caring to be troubled with them ! His forte, I 
understand, is the higher mathematics ; my turn, 
I confess, is more to poetry and the belles-lettres. 
The very antithesis of our characters would make 
up a harmony. You must bring the baron and 
me together. 

N. B. When you come to see me, mount up 
to the top of the stairs — I hope you are not asth- 
matical — and come in flannel, for it 's pure airy 
up there. And bring your glass, and I will shew 
you the Surrey Hills. My bed faces the river, so 
as by perking up upon my haunches, and sup- 
porting my carcase with my elbows, without 
much wrying my neck, I can see the white sails 
glide by the bottom of the King's Bench walks 

J 3 

as I lie in my bed. An excellent tiptoe prospect 
in the best room : casement windows with small 
panes, to look more like a cottage. Mind, I have 
got no bed for you, that 's flat ; sold it to pay 
expenses of moving. The very bed on which 
Manning lay, — the friendly, the mathematical 
Manning ! How forcibly does it remind me 
of the interesting Otway ! " The very bed which 
on thy marriage night gave thee into the arms 
of Belvidera, by the coarse hands of ruffians — " 
(upholsterers' men) &c. My tears will not give 
me leave to go on. But a bed I will get you, 
Manning, on condition you will be my day-guest. 
I have been ill more than month, with a bad 
cold, which comes upon me (like a murderer's 
conscience) about midnight, and vexes me for 
many hours. I have successively been drugged 
with Spanish licorice, opium, ipecacuanha, pare- 
goric, and tincture of foxglove {tinctura purpurae 
digitalis of the ancients) . I am afraid I must leave 
off drinking. 


April 1 6, 1 80 1. 

Fletcher's Purple Island is a tedious Allegory 
of the Parts of the Human body. I would not 
advise you to lay out six pence upon it. It is not 
the work of Fletcher, the Coadjutor of Beau- 

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


mont, but one Phineas a kinsman of his. If by 
the work of Bishop Taylor, whose Title you have 
not given correctly, you mean his Contemplations 
on the State of Man in this Life and that which 
is to come, I dare hope you will join with me in 
believing it to be spurious. The suspicious cir- 
cumstance of its being a posthumous work, with 
the total dissimilarity in style to the genuine 
works, I think evince that it never was the work 
of Doctor Jeremy Taylor Late Lord Bishop of 
Down and Connor in Ireland and Administrator 
of the See of Dromore ; such are the Titles which 
his sounding title pages give him, and I love the 
man, and I love his paraphernalia and I like to 
name him with all his attributions and additions. 
If you are yet but lightly acquainted with his real 
manner, take up and read the whole first chapter 
of the Holy Dying ; in particular turn to the 
first paragraph of the second section of that chap- 
ter for a simile of a rose, or more truly many sim- 
iles within simile, for such were the riches of 
his fancy, that when a beauteous image offered, 
before he could stay to expand it into all its 
capacities, throngs of new coming images came 
up, and justled out the first, or blended in disorder 
with it, which imitates the order of every rapid 
mind. But read all the first chapter by my advice ; 
and I know I need not advise you when you have 
read it, to read the second. Or for another speci- 
men (where so many beauties crowd, the judg- 
ment has yet vanity enough to think it can dis- 


cern a handsomest, till a second judgment and 
a third ad infinitum start up to disallow their elder 
brother's pretensions) turn to the Story of the 
Ephesian Matron in the second section of the 
fifth Chapter of the same Holy Dying (I still 
refer to the Dying part, because it also contains 
better matter than the Holy Living, which deals 
more in rules than illustrations — I mean in 
comparison with the other only, else it has more 
and more beautiful illustrations than any prose 
book besides) — read it yourself and shew it to 
Plumstead (with my Love, and bid him write to 
me) and ask. him if Willy himself has ever told 
a story with more circumstances of fancy and 
humour. The paragraph begins " But that which 
is to be faulted," and the story not long after fol- 
lows. — Make these references, while P. is with 
you, that you may stir him up to the Love of 
Jeremy Taylor, and make a convertite of him. 
Coleridge was the man who first solemnly ex- 
horted me to "study" the works of Dr. Jeremy 
Taylor, and I have had reason to bless the hour in 
which he did it. Read as many of his works as 
you can get. I will assist you in getting them, 
when we go a stall hunting together in London, 
and it's odds if we don't get a good Beaumont 
and Fletcher cheap. — Bp. Taylor has more, and 
more beautiful imagery, and (what is more to a 
Lover of Willy) more knowledge and description 
of human life and manners, than any prose book 
in the language : — he has more delicacy and 


sweetness, than any mortal, the "gentle" Shake- 
spear hardly excepted, — his similes and allusions 
are taken, as the bees take honey, from all the 
youngest, greenest, exquisitest parts of nature: 
from plants, and flowers, and fruit, young boys 
and virgins, from little children perpetually, from 
sucking infants, babies' smiles, roses, gardens — 
his imagination was a spatious Garden where no 
vile insects could crawl in, his apprehension a 
"Court" where no foul thoughts kept " leets 
and holydays." 

Snail and worm give no offence, 
Newt nor blind worm be not seen, 
Come not near our fairy queen. 

You must read Bishop Taylor with allowances 
for the subjects on which he wrote, and the age 
in which. You may skip or patiently endure his 
tedious discourses on rites and ceremonies, Bap- 
tism and the Eucharist, the Clerical function, and 
the antiquity of Episcopacy, a good deal of which 
are inserted in works not purely controversial — 
his polemical works you may skip altogether, un- 
less you have a taste for the exertions of vigorous 
reason and subtle distinguishing on uninteresting 
topics. Such of his works as you should begin 
with, to get a taste for him (after which your 
love will lead you to his Polemical and drier 
works as Love led Leander " over boots " knee- 
deep thro' the Hellespont), but read first the 
Holy Living and Dying, his Life of Christ, and 
Sermons, both in folio. And above all try to get 


a beautiful little tract on the Measures and Offices 
of Friendship, printed with his opuscula duodec- 
imo, and also at the end of his Polemical Dis- 
courses in folio. Another thing you will observe 
in Bp. Taylor, without which consideration you 
will do him injustice. He wrote to different 
classes of people. His Holy Living and Dying and 
Life of Christ were designed, and have been used, 
as popular books of family Devotion, and have 
been thumbed by old women, and laid about in 
the window seats of old houses in great families, 
like the Bible, and the §>ueene-like-Closet or rare 
boke of Recipes in medicine and cookery , fitted to all 
capacities. Accordingly, in these the fancy is per- 
petually applied to ; any slight conceit, allusion, 
or analogy ; any " prettiness ; " a story, true or 
false, serves for an argument, adapted to women 
and young persons and " incompetent judgments." 
Whereas the Liberty of Prophecy (a book in your 
father's bookcase) is a series of severe and mas- 
terly reasoning, fitted to great Clerks and learned 
Fathers, with no more of Fancy than is subor- 
dinate and ornamental. Such various powers had 
the Bishop of Down and Connor, Administrator 
of the See of Dromore ! My theme and my 
glory ! — farewell — 

C. Lamb 



April, 1 80 1. 

Dear Manning, — I sent to Brown's immedi- 
ately. Mr. Brown (or Pijou, as he is called by 
the moderns) denied having received a letter from 
you. The one for you he remembered receiving, 
and remitting to Leadenhall Street ; whither I 
immediately posted (it being the middle of din- 
ner), my teeth unpicked. There I learned that 
if you want a letter set right, you must apply at 
the first door on the left hand before one o'clock. 
I returned and picked my teeth. And this morn- 
ing I made my application in form, and have seen 
the vagabond letter, which most likely accom- 
panies this. If it does not, I will get Rickman 
to name it to the Speaker, who will not fail to 
lay the matter before Parliament the next ses- 
sions, when you may be sure to have all the 
abuses in the Post Department rectified. 

N. B. — There seems to be some informality 
epidemical. You direct your letters to me in 
Mitre Court : my true address is Mitre Court 
Buildings. By the pleasantries of Fortune, who 
likes a joke or a double entendre as well as the best 
of us her children, there happens to be another 
Mr. Lamb (that there should be two ! !) in Mitre 
Court. His duns and girls frequently stumble up 
to me, and I am obliged to satisfy both in the 
best way I am able. 

Farewell, and think upon it. C. L. 

l 9 


June 26, 1801. 

Cooke in Richard the Third is a perfect carica- 
ture. He gives you the monster Richard, but not 
the man Richard. Shakespear's bloody character 
impresses you with awe and deep admiration 
of his witty parts, his consummate hypocrisy, 
and indefatigable prosecution of purpose. You 
despise, detest, and loath the cunning, vulgar, 
low and fierce Richard, which Cooke substi- 
tutes in his place. He gives you no other idea, 
than of a vulgar villain, rejoicing in his being able 
to over reach, and not possessing that joy in silent 
consciousness, but betraying it like a poor villain 
in sneers and distortions of the face, like a droll 
at a country fair : not to add that cunning so self- 
betraying and manner so vulgar could never have 
deceived the politic Buckingham, nor the soft 
Lady Anne : both, bred in courts, would have 
turned with disgust from such a fellow. Not but 
Cooke has powers; but not of discrimination. His 
manner is strong, coarse and vigorous, and well 
adapted to some characters. But the lofty im- 
agery and high sentiments and high passions of 
Poetry come black and prose-smoked from his 
prose lips. — I have not seen him in Over-Reach, 
but from what I remember of the character, I 
think he could not have chosen one more fit. 
I thought the play a highly finished one, when I 
read it sometime back. I remember a most noble 


image. Sir Giles, drawing his sword in the last 
scene, says, — 

Some undone widow sits upon mine arm, 
And takes away the use on 't. 

This is horribly fine, and I am not sure that it 

did not suggest to me my conclusion of Pride's 

Cure ; but my imitation is miserably inferior, — 

This arm was busy in the day of Naseby : 

'T is paralytic now, and knows no use of weapons. 

Pierre and Jaffier are the best things in Otway. 
Belvidere is a poor creature, and has had more 
than her due fame. Monimia is a little better, 
but she whines. — I like Calista in the Fair Pen- 
itent better than either of Otway's women. Lee's 
Massacre of Paris is a noble play, very chastely 
and finely written. His Alexander is full of that 
madness, " which rightly should possess a poet's 
brain." (Edipus is also a fine play, but less so than 
these two. It is a joint production of Lee and 
Dryden. All for Love begins with uncommon 
spirit, but soon flags, and is of no worth upon the 
whole. The last scene of Young's Revenge is 
sublime : the rest of it not worth id. — I want 
to have your opinion and Plumstead's on Cooke's 
Richard the Third. I am possessed with an Ad- 
miration of the genuine Richard, his genius, and 
his mounting spirit, which no consideration of 
his cruelties can depress. Shakespear has not made 
Richard so black a Monster, as is supposed. 
Whenever he is monstrous, it was to conform to 
vulgar opinion. But he is generally a Man. Read 


his most exquisite address to the Widowed Queen, 
to court her daughter for him : the topics of ma- 
ternal feeling, of a deep knowledge of the heart, 
are such as no monster could have supplied. 
Richard must have felt, before he could feign 
so well ; tho' ambition choked the good seed. 
I think it the most finished piece of Eloquence 
in the world ; of persuasive oratory, far above 
Demosthenes, Burke, or any man — far exceed- 
ing the courtship of Lady Anne. Her relenting 
is barely natural, after all ; the more perhaps S's 
merit to make impossible appear probable. But the 
Queen's consent (taking in all the circumstances 
and topics, private and public ; with his angelic 
address, able to draw the host of 1 Luci- 

fer) is probable ; and ' resisted it. This 

observation applies to many other parts. All the 
inconsistency is, that Shakespeare's better genius 
was forced to struggle against the prejudices, 
which made a monster of Richard. He set out 
to paint a monster; but his human sympathies pro- 
duced a man. 

Are you not tired with this ingenious criticism ? 
I am. Richard itself is totally metamorphosed 
in the wretched acting play of that name, which 
you will see altered by Cibber. 
God bless you ! 

[Signature cut outi\ 

[ " There are three or four words missing here, as they were writ- 
ten on the reverse side from the signature, which has been cut out. 
— Ed.] 



June 29, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — Doctor Christy's brother and sis- 
ter are come to town, and have shown me great 
civilities. I in return wish to requite them, hav- 
ing, by God's grace, principles of generosity im- 
planted (as the moralists say) in my nature, which 
have been duly cultivated and watered by good 
and religious friends, and a pious education. 
They have picked up in the northern parts of 
the island an astonishing admiration of the great 
author of the New Philosophy in England, and 
I have ventured to promise their taste an even- 
ing's gratification by seeing Mr. Godwin face 
to face III I I Will you do them and me in them 
the pleasure of drinking tea and supping with 
me at the old number 1 6 on Friday or Saturday 
next ? An early nomination of the day will very 
much oblige yours sincerely, 

Ch. Lamb 


August 14, 1 80 1. 

Dear Wilson, — I am extremely sorry that any 
serious difference should subsist between us on 
account of some foolish behaviour of mine at 
Richmond ; you knew me well enough before, 
— that a very little liquor will cause a consider- 
able alteration in me. 

2 3 

I beg you to impute my conduct solely to that, 
and not to any deliberate intention of offending 
you, from whom I have received so many friendly 
attentions. I know that you think a very import- 
ant difference in opinion with respect to some 
more serious subjects between us makes me a 
dangerous companion ; but do not rashly infer, 
from some slight and light expressions which 
I may have made use of in a moment of levity 
in your presence, without sufficient regard to 
your feelings, — do not conclude that I am 
an inveterate enemy to all religion. I have had 
a time of seriousness, and I have known the 
importance and reality of a religious belief. Lat- 
terly, I acknowledge, much of my seriousness 
has gone off, whether from new company or 
some other new associations ; but I still retain 
at bottom a conviction of the truth, and a cer- 
tainty of the usefulness of religion. I will not 
pretend to more gravity or feeling than I at pre- 
sent possess ; my intention is not to persuade you 
that any great alteration is probable in me ; sud- 
den converts are superficial and transitory ; I only 
want you to believe that I have stamina of seri- 
ousness within me, and that I desire nothing 
more than a return of that friendly intercourse 
which used to subsist between us, but which my 
folly has suspended. 

Believe me, very affectionately yours, 

C. Lamb 



August, 1 80 1. 

Dear Manning, — I have forborne writing so 
long (and so have you, for the matter of that), 
until I am almost ashamed either to write or to 
forbear any longer. But as your silence may pro- 
ceed from some worse cause than neglect — 
from illness, or some mishap which may have 
befallen you — I begin to be anxious. You may 
have been burnt out, or you may have married, 
or you may have broke a limb, or turned Country 
Parson ; any of these would be excuse sufficient 
for not coming to my supper. I am not so unfor- 
giving as the nobleman in Saint Mark. For me, 
nothing new has happened to me, unless that the 
poor Albion died last Saturday of the world's 
neglect, and with it the fountain of my puns is 
choked up for ever. 

All the Lloyds wonder that you do not write 
to them. They apply to me for the cause. Re- 
lieve me from this weight of ignorance, and 
enable me to give a truly oracular response. 

I have been confined some days with swelled 
cheek and rheumatism : they divide and govern 
me with a viceroy-headache in the middle. I can 
neither write nor read without great pain. It 
must be something like obstinacy that I choose 
this time to write to you in after many months' 

I will close my letter of simple inquiry with 


an epigram on Mackintosh, the Vindiciae-Gal- 

licae-man — who has got a place at last — one 

of the last I did for the Albion, — 

Thou'h thou 'it, like Judas, an apostate black, 
In the resemblance one thing thou dost lack ; 
When he had gotten his ill-purchas'd pelf, 
He went away, and wisely hanged himself: 
This thou may do at last, yet much I doubt, 
If thou hast any bowels to gush out ! 

Yours, as ever, C. Lamb 


August 31, 1801. 

I heard that you were going to China, with a 
commission from the Wedgewoods to collect 
hints for their pottery, and to teach the Chinese 
perspective ; but I did not know that London lay in 
your way to Pekin. I am seriously glad of it, 
for I shall trouble you with a small present for 
the Emperor of Usbeck Tartary, as you go by 
his territories : it is a fragment of a Dissertation 
on the " state of political parties in England at 
the end of the eighteenth century," which will 
no doubt be very interesting to his Imperial 
Majesty. It was written originally in English for 
the use of the two and twenty readers of the Al- 
bion (this calculation includes a printer, four press- 
men, and a devil) ; but becoming of no use, when 
the Albion stopped, I got it translated into Us- 
beck Tartar by my good friend Tibet Kulm, 
who is come to London with a civil invitation 


from the Cham to the English nation to go over 
to the worship of the Lama. 

The Albion is dead — dead as nail in door — 
and my revenues have died with it ; but I am not 
as a man without hope. I have got a sort of an 
opening to the Morning Chronicle, Mr. Manning, 
by means of that common Lyar of Benevolence, 
Mister Dyer. I have not seen Perry the editor 
yet : but I am preparing a specimen. I shall have 
a difficult job to manage, for you must know that 
Mister Perry, in common with the great body 
of the Whigs, thinks the Albion very low. I find 
I must rise a peg or so, be a little more decent 
and less abusive ; for, to confess the truth, I had 
arrived to an abominable pitch ; I spared neither 
age nor sex when my cue was given me. N'im- 
porte (as they say in French) any climate will suit 

So you are about to bring your old face-making 
face to London. You could not come in a better 
time for my purposes ; for I have just lost Rick- 
man, a faint idea of whose character I sent you. 
He is gone to Ireland for a year or two, to make 
his fortune ; and I have lost by his going, what 
[it] seems to me I can never recover — a finished 
man. His memory will be to me as the brazen 
serpent to the Israelites, — I shall look up to it, 
to keep me upright and honest. But he may yet 
bring back his honest face to England one day. 
I wish your affairs with the Emperor of China 
had not been so urgent, that you might have stayed 


in Great Britain a year or two longer, to have 
seen him ; for, judging from my own experience, 
I almost dare pronounce you never saw his equal. 
I never saw a man that could be at all a second 
or substitute for him in any sort. [Line obliterated.] 

Imagine that what is here erased was an apo- 
logy and explanation, perfectly satisfactory you 
may be sure for rating this man so highly at 

the expense of , and , and , and 

M , and , and , and . But 

Mister Burke has explained this phenomenon of 
our nature very prettily in his letter to a Member 
of the National Assembly, or else in his Appeal 
to the old Whigs, I forget which. Do you 
remember an instance from Homer (who under- 
stood these matters tolerably well) of Priam 
driving away his other sons with expressions of 
wrath and bitter reproach, when Hector was just 
dead ? not that, &c. 

I live where I did, in a private manner, because 
I don't like state. Nothing is so disagreeable to 
me as the clamours and applauses of the mob. 
For this reason I live in an obscure situation in 
one of the courts of the Temple. 

C. L. 


[Manning had taken up Chinese at Cambridge, and in 1800 
he had moved to Paris to study the language under Dr. Ha- 
gan. He did not, however, go to China until 1806. — E. V. 



September 9, 1801. 

Dear Sir, — Nothing runs in my head when 
I think of your story, but that you should make 
it as like the life of Savage as possible. That is 
a known and familiar tale, and its effect on the 
public mind has been very great. Many of the 
incidents in the true history are readily made 
dramatical. For instance, Savage used to walk 
backwards and forwards o' nights to his mother's 
window, to catch a glimpse of her, as she passed 
with a candle. With some such situation the play 
might happily open. I would plunge my hero, 
exactly like Savage, into difficulties and embar- 
rassments, the consequences of an unsettled mind ; 
out of which he may be extricated by the un- 
known interference of his mother. He should 
be attended from the beginning by a friend, who 
should stand in much the same relation towards 
him as Horatio to Altamont in the play of the 
Fair Penitent. A character of this sort seems 
indispensable. This friend might gain interviews 
with the mother, when the son was refused sight 
of her. Like Horatio with Calista, he might 
wring his soul. Like Horatio, he might learn 
the secret first. He might be exactly in the same 
perplexing situation, when he had learned it, 
whether to tell it or conceal it from the son (I 
have still Savage in my head) — might kill a man 
(as he did) in an affray — he should receive a 


pardon, as Savage did — and the mother might 
interfere to have him banished. This should pro- 
voke the friend to demand an interview with her 
husband, and disclose the whole secret. The hus- 
band, refusing to believe anything to her dishon- 
our, should fight with him. The husband repents 
before he dies. The mother explains and con- 
fesses everything in his presence. The son is 
admitted to an interview with his now acknow- 
ledged mother. Instead of embraces, she resolves 
to abstract herself from all pleasure, even from his 
sight, in voluntary penance all her days after. 
This is crude indeed ! ! but I am totally unable 
to suggest a better. I am the worst hand in the 
world at a plot. But I understand enough of 
passion to predict that your story, with some of 
Savage's, which has no repugnance, but a natural 
alliance with it, cannot fail. The mystery of the 
suspected relationship — the suspicion, generated 
from slight and forgotten circumstances, coming 
at last to act as instinct, and so to be mistaken for 
instinct — the son's unceasing pursuit and throw- 
ing of himself in his mother's way, something 
like Falkland's eternal persecution of Williams 
— the high and intricate passion in the mother, 
the being obliged to shun and keep at a distance 
the thing nearest to her heart — to be cruel, 
where her heart yearns to be kind, without a 
possibility of explanation. You have the power 
of life and death and the hearts of your auditors 
in your hands ; still Harris will want a skeleton, 


and he must have it. I can only put in some 
sorry hints. The discovery to the son's friend 
may take place not before the third act — in 
some such way as this. The mother may cross 
the street — he may point her out to some gay 
companion of his as the beauty of Leghorn — 
the pattern for wives, &c. &c. His companion, 
who is an Englishman, laughs at his mistake, and 
knows her to have been the famous Nancy Daw- 
son, or any one else, who captivated the English 
king. Some such way seems dramatic, and speaks 
to the eye. The audience will enter into the 
friend's surprise, and into the perplexity of his 
situation. These ocular scenes are so many great 
landmarks, rememberable headlands and light- 
houses in the voyage. Macbeth's witch has a 
good advice to a magic [? tragic] writer, what to 
do with his spectator, — 

Show his eyes, and grieve his heart. 

The most difficult thing seems to be, What to do 
with the husband ? You will not make him jeal- 
ous of his own son ? that is a stale and an unpleas- 
ant trick in Douglas, &c. Can't you keep him 
out of the way till you want him, as the husband 
of Isabella is conveniently sent off till his cue 
comes? There will be story enough without 
him, and he will only puzzle all. Catastrophes 
are worst of all. Mine is most stupid. I only 
propose it to fulfil my engagement, not in hopes 
to convert you. 

3 1 

It is always difficult to get rid of a woman at 
the end of a tragedy. Men may fight and die. A 
woman must either take poison, which is a nasty 
trick, or go mad, which is not fit to be shown, or 
retire, which is poor, only retiring is most reput- 

I am sorry I can furnish you no better; but 
I find it extremely difficult to settle my thoughts 
upon anything but the scene before me, when 
I am from home, I am from home so seldom. If 
any, the least hint crosses me, I will write again, 
and I very much wish to read your plan, if you 
could abridge and send it. In this little scrawl 
you must take the will for the deed, for I most 
sincerely wish success to your play. — Farewell, 

C. L. 


[September 1 6, 1801.] 

Dear Rickman, — Your letter has found me at 
Margate, where I am come with Mary to drink 
sea water and pick up shells. I am glad to hear 
that your new dignities sit so easy upon you. No 
doubt you are one of those easy " well dressed " 
gentlemen, that we may know at first sight to 
belong to the " Castle," when we meet them in 
the Park. Your letter contains a very fair offer 
about my Play, which I must first dispatch. I 
seriously feel very much obliged to you and all 
that, but I have a scheme in my head to print it 

3 2 

about Xmas time, when the Town is fuller ! ! about 
that time I expect the repayment of a loan, which 
was bigger than I ought to have trusted, but 
I hope not bigger than my borrowing friend will 
then be able to repay. If he should disappoint 
me, I may throw myself upon you : meantime 
I am too proud ever to &c. ... I do not write 
in any paper. George Dyer, that common Lyar 
of Benevolence, has taken some pains to intro- 
duce me to the Morning Chronicle, and I did 
something for them, but I soon found that it 
was a different thing writing for the Lordly Edit- 
or of the great Whig Paper to what it was scrib- 
bling for the poor Albion. More than three- 
fourths of what I did was superciliously rejected; 
whereas in the old Albion the seal of my well- 
known handwriting was enough to drive any 
nonsense current. I believe I shall give up this 
way of writing, and turn honest, scramble on as 
well as I can for a year, and make a Book, for 
why should every creature make books but I ? 

G. Burnett had just finished his Essay when 
I came away. Mushrooms scramble up in a 
night ; but diamonds, you know, lie a long while 
ripening in the bed. The purport of it is to per- 
suade the world that opinions tending to the sub- 
version of Established Religion and Governments, 
systems of medicine, &c, should not be rashly 
vented in every company : a good orthodox doc- 
trine which has been preached up with the "holy 
text of Pike and Gun " with you in Ireland, and 


is pretty familiar in England, but it is novel to 
George ; at least he never wrote an Essay upon 
the subject before. Critics should think of this, 
before they loosely cry out, This is common- 
place, what is there new in it ? it may be all new 
to the Author, he may never have thought of it 
before, and it may have cost him as much brain- 
sweat as a piece of the most inveterate originality. 
However George is in pretty good keeping, while 
the merits of his essay lie under consideration. 
He has got into joint rooms with a young surgeon, 
whose uncle is an eminent wine merchant, and 
gives his nephew long tick, so they drink two 
sorts of wine, and live happy. George was turned 
out of his White Friars Lodging because he 
wanted too much attendance. He used to call 
up the girl, and send her down again, because 
he had forgot what he wanted ; and then call 
her again, when his thought came back, to ask 
what o'clock it was. Fenwick has been urgent 
with me to write to you about his plan, and 
I gave him a drunken promise that I would, but 
you have saved me a disagreeable topic, for I 
know you have enough to do, and must serve 
him at your leisure. The Welfare of Ireland, 
perhaps of the whole world, must not stand still, 
while the interests of a newspaper are debating ! ! 
He is very sanguine, and if he tells true, he has had 
very important encouragement ; but he always 
said and thought, that the Albion had very suffi- 
cient patronage. Some people can see anything 


but their own interest, and they chuse to look 
at that through glasses. Dr. Christie has trans- 
ported his solemn physiognomy to Portsmouth 
in his way to India. He departed without call- 
ing upon me, tho' he never could have called 
upon a more welcome occasion ; consequently 
he did not get your letter, but I imparted its 
contents to his brother. I know no more news 
from here, except that the Professor (Godwin) 
is courting. The Lady is a Widow 1 with green 
spectacles and one child, and the Professor is 
grown quite juvenile. He bows when he is spoke 
to, and smiles without occasion, and wriggles as 
fantastically as Malvolio, and has more affect- 
ation than a canary bird pluming his feathers 
when he thinks somebody looks at him. He 
lays down his spectacles, as if in scorn, and takes 
'em up again from necessity, and winks that she 
mayn't see he gets sleepy about eleven o'clock. 
You never saw such a philosophic coxcomb, nor 
any one play the Romeo so unnaturally. His 
second play, My God-Son, is flatly rejected by 
Harris, because it is a Persian story about Shaw 
Abbas and the valiant Sen his son : but Harris 
has offered to pay him at all events, if he will 
take a domestic plain story, not heroic nor for- 
eign ; so, after many indignant declarations that 
he could not bear such a creeping way (his expres- 
sion) his proud heart has come down to Harris's 
proposals ; so he is filching a tale out of one of 
1 A very disgusting woman. 


Defoe's novels, and has made me write him hints. 

Floreat Tertia! 

Margate, Wednesday, September 16, 
where I stay a week longer. 

And now farewell, Master Secretary ! — and 
if your Diplomatic Majesty has any commissions 
for tape or bone lace, &c. in London, depend 
upon a faithful performance of the same. I could 
find matter for a longer letter, and will another 
day, if you will find time to read it. Meantime 
believe me, yours sincerely. Mary sends her 
kindest remembrances. No hurry for the Pork. 

C. Lamb 



Margate, September 17,1801. 

I shall be glad to come home and talk these 
matters over with you. I have read your scheme 
very attentively. That Arabella has been mistress 
to King Charles is sufficient to all the purposes of 
the story. It can only diminish that respect we 
feel for her to make her turn whore to one of the 
Lords of his Bedchamber. Her son must not know 
that she has been a whore : it matters not that she 
has been whore to a King: equally in both cases 
it is against decorum and against the delicacy of 
a son's respect that he should be privy to it. No 
doubt many sons might feel a wayward pleasure 


in the honourable guilt of their mothers ; but is 
it a true feeling ? Is it the best sort of feeling ? 
Is it a feeling to be exposed on theatres to mothers 
and daughters ? 

Your conclusion (or rather Defoe's) comes far 
short of the tragic ending, which is always ex- 
pected ; and it is not safe to disappoint. A tragic 
auditory wants blood. They care but little about 
a man and his wife parting. Besides, what will 
you do with the son, after all his pursuits and ad- 
ventures ? Even quietly leave him to take guinea- 
and-a-half lodgings with mamma in Leghorn ! 
O impotent and pacific measures ! I am certain 
that you must mix up some strong ingredients 
of distress to give a savour to your pottage. I still 
think that you may, and must, graft the story of 
Savage upon Defoe. Your hero must kill a man 
or do something. Can't you bring him to the gal- 
lows or some great mischief, out of which she 
must have recourse to an explanation with her 
husband to save him. Think on this. The hus- 
band, for instance, has great friends in Court at 
Leghorn. The son is condemned to death. She 
cannot teaze him for a stranger. She must tell 
the whole truth. Or she may teaze him, as for a 
stranger, till (like Othello in Cassio's case) he be- 
gins to suspect her for her importunity. Or, being 
pardoned, can she not teaze her husband to get 
him banished? Something of this I suggested 
before. Both is best. The murder and the pardon 
will make business for the fourth act, and the ban- 


ishmentand explanation (by means of the Friend 
I want you to draw) the fifth. You must not open 
any of the truth to Dawley by means of a letter. 
A letter is a feeble messenger on the stage. Some- 
body, the son or his friend, must, as a coup de main, 
be exasperated, and obliged to tell the husband. 
Damn the husband and his " gentlemanlike quali- 
ties." Keep him out of sight, or he will trouble 
all. Let him be in England on trade, and come 
home, as Biron does in Isabella, in the fourth act, 
when he is wanted. I am for introducing situ- 
ations, sort of counterparts to situations, which 
have been tried in other plays — like but not the 
same. On this principle I recommended a friend 
like Horatio in the Fair Penitent, and on this prin- 
ciple I recommend a situation like Othello, with 
relation to Desdemona's intercession for Cassio. 
By-scenes may likewise receive hints. The son 
may see his mother at a mask or feast, as Romeo, 
Juliet. The festivity of the company contrasts 
with the strong perturbations of the individuals. 
Dawley may be told his wife's past unchastity at 
a mask by some witch-character — as Macbeth 
upon the heath, in dark sentences. This may stir 
his brain, and be forgot, but come in aid of 
stronger proof hereafter. From this, what you 
will perhaps call whimsical way of counterpart- 
ing, this honest stealing, and original mode of 
plagiarism, much yet, I think, remains to be 

Excuse these abortions. I thought you would 

want the draught soon again, and I would not 
send it empty away. 

Yours truly, 

Somers Town, 17th September, 1801. 


[The point of signing this letter with Godwin's name and 
adding his address (Lamb, it will be noticed, was then at Mar- 
gate) is not clear. In another later letter, where Lamb plays 
the same trick on Hood, the reason is plain enough.] 


October 9, 180 1. 

I called lately upon our common friend G. Dyer 
of Clifford's Inn. I found him inconsolable and 
very dirty. It seems that Gilbert Wakefield is 
dead, and George had not got his tribute ready 
for Mr. Phillips's magazine this month, and Dr. 
Aikin had sent a little tribute, and Miss Aikin 
had also sent a tribute, and the world would ex- 
pect a tribute from his pen. At first I imagined 
that George was touched with some sense of kin- 
dred mortality, such as Methusaleh himself must 
have felt, when he was qualmish ; but no, all that 
disturbed George was that he had not got -^tribute. 
George the second, George Burnett, supt with me 
last night. He is not got quite well of the meta- 
phyz, but I hope and trust that last night's par- 
oxysm will be the last, and that his disorder has 
come to its crisis. He maintained that if a high- 


wayman, who is going to kill you, spares your life 
on your expressly promising to spare bis, that is, 
not to prosecute, you are under no obligation to 
keep your word, because you were in a state of 
violence, when the promise was made, and the 
Good of the Whole, which may be partially en- 
dangered by suffering that man to live, is to be 
preferred to any such promise in such circum- 
stances made. If I ever turn freebooter, and light 
upon George Burnett in my travels, I shall re- 
member what I have to trust to. But saving his 
metaphyz (which goes off after the first heats of 
youth like the green sickness) George the second 
has good parts. He only wants fortune. He as ill 
becomes adversity as George the first would do 
prosperity, if any one should leave him a rich 
legacy. Another of fortune's humble servants is a 
visitor of mine, who in the language of antiquity 
would have been nominated Simonds-with-the- 
slit-lip. I cannot say his linen was of Tarsus, nor 
quite so robust as Russian, but it certainly craved 
bleaching, but saving his dirty shirt, and his phy- 
siognomy and his'bacco box, together with a cer- 
tain kiddy air in his walk, a man would have 
gone near to have mistaken him for a gentleman. 
He has a sort of ambition to be so misunderstood. 
It seems the Treasury does not pay with that 
weekly promptitude, and accommodating period- 
icalness, it was wont ; and some constitutions 
cannot wait. He craved the loan of a half guinea ; 
could I refuse a gentleman who seemed in distress ? 


He dropt some words, as if he were desirous of 
trying what effect the Irish air would have upon 
a poor constitution. Could n't you make him a 
doorkeeper, or a gamekeeper, or find some post 
for him, not altogether so brilliant as useful ? 
Some situation under the mintmaster ? — I leave 
him to your mercy and ability. There is no hurry, 
for what you have given him will keep him 
in work some time, and for pay, why 't is just as 
his Majesty's ministers shall please. So, Cottle's 
Psalms are come out hot press' d for six shillings. 
Of course I shall send you a copy. " Poetry is 
never more delightfully employed than when in 
the service of its Creator." Vide Preface to the 
Translation (if he had writ one, but he has not). 
Quid maius ! — the Professor is not married, 
the Plough is yet in posse — peace is all the cry 
here — fireworks, lights, &c, abound — White 
stationed himself at Temple Bar among the boys, 
and threw squibs ; burned one man's cravat. — 
This is the cream of London intelligence — you 
shall have the earliest tidings of all new move- 
ments. C. L. 


Tuesday, November 24, 1801. 

Dear Rickman, — I have just put my finishing 
hand to my play to alter it for publishing. I have 
made a thorough change in the structure of the 
latter part, omitting all those scenes which shew'd 


John under the first impression of his father's 
death. I have done this, because I had made him 
too weak, and to expose himself before his serv- 
ants, which was an indecorum; and from a theory 
that poetry has nothing to do to give pain ; the 
imbecilities, and deformities, the dotages of human 
nature, are not fit objects to be shewn. Instead of 
these rejected scenes I have told his feelings in 
a narrative of the old servant to Margaret, which 
is a relief to the oppression of John so often talk- 
ing in his own person. I have cut out all the in- 
terview of John and Simon, and they do not meet 
at all, and I have expunged Simon's bloody reso- 
lution, which offended you so much from him. 
I have sent him to improve himself 'by travel, and 
it is explained that his presence (who is the good 
son in my parable) would have been too much of 
a reproach and a pain to my prodigal in the first 
hour of his grief. The whole ends with Mar- 
garet's Consolation, where it should end, without 
any pert incident of surprise and trick to make a 
catastrophe. Moreover, I have excluded the two 
tales of the Witch and the Gentleman who died for 
love, having since discovered by searching the 
parish register of St. Mary Ottery, that his disor- 
der was a stranguary, tho' some rhymes upon his 
gravestone did a little lean to my hypothesis. 
Moreover, I have gone through and cut out all 
the Ahs ! and Ohs ! and sundry weak parts, which 
I thought so fine three or four years ago. When 
it comes out you must let me know in what 


manner I can transmit you a copy or two. I have 
been so particular, because you have shewn more 
liking to my Margaret than most people, and my 
alterations were in part the offspring of your 
suggestions ; not wholly, for I have long smelt a 
jumble. I hope you will find it now nearly all of 
a piece. I am to christen it John Woodvil simply 
— not Pride' ' s Cure. As Dyer says, " I am no 
enemy to candid and ingenuous criticism, I only 
deprecate the arrows of calumny: " vide most of 
the prefaces of G. Dyer. Dyer regularly dines 
with me when he does not go a visiting and brings 
his shilling. He has pick'd up amazingly. I never 
saw him happier. He has had his doors listed and 
his casements puttied, and bought a handsome 
screen of the last century. Only his poems do not 
get finished. One volume is printing, but the sec- 
ond wants a good deal doing to it. I do not expect 
that he will make much progress with his Life and 
Opinions, till his detestable Lyric Poetry is deliv- 
ered to subscribers. I shall make him not deliver 
one volume till both are ready, else he would 
infallibly have made two troubles and two ex- 
penses of it. He talks of marrying, but this en 
passant (as he says) and entre nous, for God's sake 
don't mention it to him, for he has not forgiven 
me for betraying to you his purpose of writing 
his own Life. He says, that if it once spreads, 
so many people will expect and wish to have a 
place in it, that he is sure he shall disoblige all 
his friends. 


G. Burnett shewed me your rousing letter. 
If I had not known your theory and design, I 
must have called it a very cruel letter, and sure 
as I was that your general idea of the treatment 
which is best for Burnetts and George the Seconds 
was right, I could not help thinking you had gone 
too far, even so far that he could not put up with 
it or you ever after, without doing a moral injury 
to himself. But you must pursue your own course, 
which nine times out of ten will be more ju- 
dicious than mine. The less of interference in 
these cases, the better. I was principally (if not 
only) sorry that you assured him of Southey's 
opinion of the mediocrity of his understanding 
perfectly agreeing with your own. Southey was 
the last plank of the scaffold which propt up 
George in his opinion of himself. But I dare not 
affirm you did wrong. I am not a teacher in 

Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


November, i8or. 

A letter from G. Dyer will probably accom- 
pany this. I wish I could convey to you any no- 
tion of the whimsical scenes I have been witness 
to in this fortnight past. 'T was on Tuesday week 
the poor heathen scrambled up to my door about 
breakfast time. He came thro' a violent rain with 


no neckcloth on, and a beard that made him a 
spectacle to men and angels, and tapped at the 
door. Mary open'd it, and he stood stark still 
and held a paper in his hand importing that he 
had been ill with a fever. He either would n't 
or could n't speak except by signs. When you 
went to comfort him he put his hand upon his 
heart and shook his head and told us his com- 
plaint lay where no medicines could reach it. I 
was dispatch'd for Dr. Dale, Mr. Phillips of St. 
Paul's Churchyard, and Mr. Frend, who is to be 
his executor. George solemnly delivered into 
Mr. Frend's hands and mine an old burnt preface 
that had been in the fire, with injunctions which 
we solemnly vow'd to obey that it should be 
printed after his death with his last corrections, 
and that some account should be given to the 
world why he had not fulfill' d his engagement 
with subscribers. Having done this and borrow' d 
two guineas of his bookseller (to whom he im- 
parted in confidence that he should leave a great 
many loose papers behind him which would only 
want methodizing and arranging to prove very 
lucrative to any bookseller after his death), he 
laid himself down on my bed in a mood of com- 
placent resignation. By the aid of meat and drink 
put into him (for I all along suspected a vacuum) 
he was enabled to sit up in the evening, but he had 
not got the better of his intolerable fear of dying ; 
he expressed such philosophic indifference in his 
speech and such frightened apprehensions in his 


physiognomy that if he had truly been dying, and 
I had known it, I could not have kept my coun- 
tenance. In particular, when the doctor came 
and ordered him to take little white powders (I 
suppose of chalk or alum, to humour him), he ey'd 
him with a suspicion which I could not account 
for; he has since explain'd that he took it for 
granted Dr. Dale knew his situation and had or- 
dered him these powders to hasten his departure 
that he mightsuffer as little painas possible. Think 
what an aspect the heathen put on with these 
fears upon a dirty face. To recount all his freaks 
for two or three days while he thought he was 
going, and how the fit operated, and sometimes 
the man got uppermost and sometimes the au- 
thor, and he had this excellent person to serve, 
and he must correct some proof-sheets for Phil- 
lips, and he could not bear to leave his subscribers 
unsatisfy'd, but he must not think of these things 
now, he was going to a place where he should 
satisfy all his debts; and when he got a little better 
he began to discourse what a happy thing it would 
be if there was a place where all the good men 
and women in the world might meet, meaning 
heav'n, and I really believe for a time he had 
doubts about his soul, for he was very near, if not 
quite, light-headed. The fact was he had not had 
a good meal for some days and his little dirty niece 
(whom he sent for with a still dirtier nephew, 
and hugg'd him, and bid them farewell) told us 
that unless he dines out he subsists on tea and 


gruels. And he corroborated this tale by ever and 
anon complaining of sensations of gnawing which 
he felt about his heart, which he mistook his 
stomach to be, and sure enough these gnawings 
were dissipated after a meal or two, and he surely 
thinks that he has been rescued from the jaws 
of death by Dr. Dale's white powders. He is got 
quite well again by nursing, and chirps of odes 
and lyric poetry the day long ; he is to go out of 
town on Monday, and with him goes the dirty 
train of his papers and books which follow'd him 
to our house. I shall not be sorry when he takes 
his nipt carcase out of my bed, which it has occu- 
pied, and vanishes with all his lyric lumber, but 
I will endeavour to bring him in future into a 
method of dining at least once a day. I have pro- 
posed to him to dine with me (and he has nearly 
come into it) whenever he does not go out; and 
pay me. I will take his money beforehand and 
he shall eat it out. If I don't it will go all over 
the world. Some worthless relations, of which 
the dirty little devil that looks after him and a 
still more dirty nephew are component particles, 
I have reason to think divide all his gains with 
some lazy worthless authors that are his constant 
satellites. The Literary Fund has voted him seas- 
onably ^20, and if I can help it he shall spend 
it on his own carcase. I have assisted him in 
arranging the remainder of what he calls poems, 
and he will get rid of 'em I hope in another 
[Here three lines are torn away at the foot of the 


page, wherein Lamb makes the transition from George 
Dyer to another poor author, George Burnett.] 

I promised Burnett to write when his parcel 
went. He wants me to certify that he is more 
awake than you think him. I believe he may be 
by this time, but he is so full of self-opinion that 
I fear whether he and Phillips will ever do to- 
gether. What he is to do for Phillips he whim- 
sically seems to consider more as a favor done to 
P. than a job from P. He still persists to call 
employment dependence, and prates about the inso- 
lence of booksellers and the tax upon geniuses. 
Poor devil ! he is not launched upon the ocean 
and is sea-sick with aforethought. I write plainly 
about him, and he would stare and frown finely 
if he read this treacherous epistle, but I really am 
anxious about him, and that [? it] nettles me to 
seehimsoproudandso helpless. If he is notserv'd 
he will never serve himself. I read his long letter 
to Southey, which I suppose you have seen. He 
had better have been furnishing copy for Phillips 
than luxuriating in tracing the causes of his 
imbecility. I believe he is a little wrong in not 
ascribing more to the structure of his own mind. 
He had his yawns from nature, his pride from 

I hope to see Southey soon, so I need only send 
my remembrance to him now. Doubtless I need 
not tell him that Burnett is not to be foster'd in 
self-opinion. His eyes want opening, to see him- 
self a man of middling stature. I am not oculist 


enough to do this. The booksellers may one day 
remove the film. I am all this time on the most 
cordial supping terms of amity with G. Burnett 
and really love him at times : but I must speak 
freely of people behind their backs and not think 
it backbiting. It is better than Godwin's way of 
telling a man he is a fool to his face. 

I think if you could do anything for George 
in the way of an office (God knows whether you 
can in any haste [? case], but you did talk of it) 
it is my firm belief that it would be his only chance 
of settlement ; he will never live by his literary 
exertions, as he calls them : he is too proud to go 
the usual way to work and he has no talents to 
make that way unnecessary. I know he talks big 
in his letter to Southey that his mind is under- 
going an alteration and that the die is now cast- 
ing that shall consign him to honor or dishonor, 
but these expressions are the convulsions of a 
fever, not the sober workings of health. Trans- 
lated into plain English, he now and then per- 
ceives he must work or starve, and then he thinks 
he '11 work ; but when he goes about it there 's a 
lion in the way. He came dawdling to me for an 
Encyclopaedia yesterday. I recommended him to 
Norris' library, and he said if he could not get 
it there, Phillips was bound to furnish him with 
one ; it was Phillips' interest to do so, and all 
that. This was true with some restrictions ; but 
as to Phillips' interests to oblige G. B. ! Lord 
help his simple head ! P. could by a whistle call 


together a host of such authors as G. B. like 
Robin Hood's merry men in green. P. has regu- 
lar regiments in pay. Poor writers are his crab- 
lice and suck at him for nutriment. His round 
pudding chops are their idea of plenty when in 
their idle fancies they aspire to be rich. 

What do you think of a life of G. Dyer ? I 
can scarcely conceive a more amusing novel. He 
has been connected with all sects in the world, 
and he will faithfully tell all he knows. Every- 
body will read it ; and if it is not done according 
to my fancy I promise to put him in a novel when 
he dies. Nothing shall escape me. If you think 
it feasible, whenever you write you may encour- 
age him. Since he has been so close with me 
I have perceiv'd the workings of his inordinate 
vanity, his gigantic attention to particles and to 
prevent open vowels in his odes, his solicitude 
that the public may not lose any tittle of his 
poems by his death, and all the while his utter 
ignorance that the world don't care a pin about 
his odes and his criticisms, a fact which every- 
body knows but himself — he is a rum genius. 

C. L. 



/ was the moon-struck man, that was inspired 
to write on the packet "for John Rickman," 
and must hasten to clear Burnett of that part of 


his indictment. He brought to me his Letter and 
his Essay, or rather two Essays, and desired me 
to write myself and put up all together in a parcel. 
I had no leisure to write then, but I did up his 
things, and when I had done so the enormous 
bulk staggered me, and I preferred that obnoxious 
indorsement to enlarging it with another cover. 
I was guided by the usages of the India House, 
where I have often received superscriptions simi- 
lar, and escaped shot-free. I will never practise 
upon your pocket in the like manner again, but 
Burnett stands acquitted. 

None but the Bishop could have composed 
that illustrious specimen of ignorance which you 
extract, and he alone, in all England, would not 
understand the absurdity of it, if it were to be 
pointed out. Still I wish something could be 
done for him, even if he waited six weeks, or 
a day over, for it. Methinks! (as the Poets say) 
I see Preferment waiting at the door, afraid to 
come in, till his Worship has finished his Intro- 
duction, that she may not deprive the world of 
his matchless labours. 

I have nothing to communicate but my thanks. 
I do assure you that I retain a very lively memory 
of our old smoking evenings in Southampton 
Buildings. G. Dyer, our illustrious co-puffer, 
has emigrated to Enfield, where some rich man, 
that has got two country houses, allows him the 
use of a very large one, with a library, where he 
is getting the final volume of his Poems ready, 


and then I shall set him about his Life: by use in 
a sentence back, I mean dirting and littering. 
Southey is not arrived. 

Yours sincerely, 

C. Lamb 

I forgot to notice an anachronism in your first 
letter, which I am glad to see you correct in a 
subsequent — you accost me my dear Sir. By 
what twist of association in your unlucky peri- 
cranium have you connected that honor with my 
cognomen ? 

Mary thanks you, but she prefers Rum. 

I have literally this moment received your packet 
for Southey. I mean Burnett's History of his Own 
Times and your letter. For your kind mention 
of Slit-lips take my warmest thanks. He will have 
no objection to wait six weeks or a day over, tho' 
it may be damnably more inconvenient for him 
to wait, than for the Bishop. The fact of the 
"strange flesh "which he is reported to have 
eaten, astounds me, but I can believe and tremble. 

Never mind the ceremony of franking to me. 
John Company pays. 



I sincerely thank you for your repeated offer, 
but I have just received as much as £50, an old 
debt which I told you of, and that will a good 

5 2 

deal and more than cover the expenses of printing. 
I expect to be able to send you some copies in 
a few weeks. I have not had a proof-sheet yet. 
I have nothing to claim upon Dyer's account. 
He paid me from the beginning as near as I can 
calculate, and I solemnly protest it, to a penny 
for all the expenses he put me to, and whenever 
he dines with us he regularly brings his shilling, 
which is a fair average for what his gluttony 
devours. To be sure he has occasionally an elee- 
mosynary whiff of tobacco, for which I cannot 
sconse the poet. I am afraid he sometimes does 
not come when he has not got a shilling. I can- 
not force him, for now his health is come back, 
he is the most unmanageable of God's creatures. 
He goes about fetching and carrying for ladies, 
and always thinking he must call upon this lady 
and t'other gentleman. His first volume is nearly 
printed, but he is projecting new odes and imper- 
tinences for the second, and I cannot foresee a 
period. Still he seems by fits bent upon writing 
his Life, and will do it if the prototype is not 
overtaken with death. I quite give up any hope 
of reducing him to common sense and human 
conduct. All that can be done is to bolster up his 
carcase by a daily habit of dining, until he finishes 
his mortal pilgrimage. Poor G. Burnett is very 
ill and reduced. You would deposit your fierce 
anger if you saw the metaphysician. He has 
brought his Introduction to a finish at last, but he 
is not in a capacity to go on. Coleridge has re- 


commended him to the editor of the Morning Post, 
who has promised to employ him. But a lion is 
in his foot-path, and he cannot begin yet. I sup- 
pose he will write to you, and it will be needless 
to say more of him here. The goul has a gouless 
and two, if not three young gouls. The goul has 
not paid me the pittance, for 't was not much, he 
borrowed of me, but I have reason to believe his 
circumstances are so squalid that it would be more 
to expect of him than can be expected from man 
or goul, to divert his comings-in from the service 
of genuine hunger and thirst. — Fenwick's Plough 
(how one idea of Poverty introduces another!) 
is degenerated already from a daily to a weekly 
paper. I wish it may not vanish into thin air, 
or come out the same day as Burnett's Historia 
Romana issues from the press. I meantime have 
made some overtures to the editor of the Morning 
Post thro' Coleridge, who writes for that paper, 
and hope I am on the point of being engaged. 
I have seen Southey several times. His wife is 
considerably improved, and will talk if she is 
talked to, but she bitterly complains that when 
literary men get together they never speak to the 
women. Mrs. Lovel is also in town and Southey's 
mother, who is dying : — " So am not I, said the 
foolish fat scullion." Do you remember our 
unfeeling behaviour at the funeral of that dear 
young lady, who was withered in her bloom by 
the untimely stroke of death, and lies in what- 
d'ye-call-'em churchyard ? The tear is falling 


while I remember — don't you perceive the Ink 
is rather brackish ? as G. Burnett asked in a com- 
pany at my brother's the other day, whether 
the Thames water at Blackfriars' Bridge was not 
a little brackish. — The Professor has not yet 
thrown himself away. I am sorry to find he is 
about to commit a folly, for I hear that she has 
no fortune and has one child, and they propose 
that she shall ease the burden of the family ex- 
penses by translating from the French. — Fell, 
the inevitable shadow of everything which God- 
win does, is absolutely writing a play. It is a 
comedy. It is just finished, and I go this evening 
in the hope to see it. It will have one trait in it. 
There can be no mirth in it. An owl making a 
pun would be no bad emblem of the unnatural 
attempt. To your inquiry whether Mary swal- 
lows certain mixed liquors, she answers that I 
unfortunately misunderstood that advice, as if it 
had been addrest to me, and have almost killed 
myself by the blunder. But she will profit by 
the correction. She desires her love and remem- 
brance. White often inquires after you, and as 
often desires to be mentioned to you, which I as 
regularly forget. Stoddart is going to begin the 
study of civil law at the Commons. 

Farewell, old comrade and new secretary. 

C. L. 

You must send up your St. Helena letter im- 


mediately, and I will drop it in our box. I can't 
frank it : John Company never franks outwards. 
A ship, the Marquis of Ely, goes at Xmas. The 
Armston goes next Wednesday. 

Since I wrote last leaf, I have read Fell's com- 
edy, and am surprised to find it contains, if not 
sterling wit or character, a liveliness and know- 
ledge of the present popular taste, which has 
astonish'd me. The serious parts are damn'd flat. 
But I should not at all wonder, he having a 
pretty good introduction, even if it should please 
highly. He has been a minute observer of what 
takes in Reynolds's plays, and has had real actors 
continually in his view. — Who knows, but owls 
do make puns, when they hoot by moonshine ? 
I shall hear from the Morning Post this day, and 
shall endeavour to get the Theatrical Reports, 
not all, but Kemble's chief characters, and 
Cooke's, &c. 



I am not dead nor asleep. But Manning is in 
town, and Coleridge is in town, and I am making 
a thorough alteration in the structure of my play 
for Publication. My brain is overwrought with 
variety of worldly intercourse. I have neither 
time nor mind for scribbling. Who shall deliver 
me from the body of this Death ? 

Only continue to write and to believe that 

when the Hour comes, I shall strike like Jack 
of the Clock, id est, I shall once more become 
a regular correspondent of Robert and Plumstead. 
How is the benevolent, loud-talking, Shakspere- 
loving Brewer ? 

To your enquiry respecting a selection from 
B'p Taylor I answer — it cannot be done: and 
if it could, it would not take with John Bull. 
It cannot be done, for who can disentangle and 
unthread the rich texture of Nature and Poetry 
sewn so thick into a stout coat of theology, with- 
out spoiling both lace and coat 1 ? How beggarly 
and how bald do even Shakespeare's Princely 
Pieces look, when thus violently divorced from 
connection and circumstance! When we meet with 
"To be or not to be" — or Jacques's moraliz- 
ings upon the Deer — or Brutus and Cassius' 
quarrel and reconciliation — in an Enfield Speaker 
or in Elegant Extracts — how we stare, and will 
scarcely acknowledge to ourselves (what we are 
conscious we feel) that they are flat and have no 
power. Something exactly like this have I ex- 
perienced when I have picked out similes and 
stars from Holy Dying and shewn them per se, as 
you 'd shew specimens of minerals or pieces of 
rock. Compare the grand effect of the Star-paved 
firmament — and imagine a boy capable of pick- 
ing out those pretty twinklers one by one and 
playing at chuck farthing with them. Every- 
thing in heaven and earth, in man and in story, 
in books and in fancy, acts by Confederacy, by 


juxtaposition, by circumstance and place. Con- 
sider a fine family (if I were not writing to you 
I might instance your own) of sons and daughters, 
with a respectable father and a handsome mother 
at their head, all met in one house, and happy 
round one table. Earth cannot shew a more lovely 
and venerable sight, such as the Angels in heaven 
might lament that in their country there is no 
marrying or giving in marriage. Take and split 
this Body into individuals — shew the separate 
caprices, vagaries, &c, of Charles, Robert or 
Plumstead — one a quaker, another a church- 
man. The eldest daughter seeking a husband out 
of the pale of parental faith — another working 
perhaps — the father a prudent, circumspective, 
do-me-good sort of a man blest with children 
whom no ordinary rules can circumscribe — I 
have not room for all particulars — but just as 
this happy and venerable body of a family loses 
by splitting and considering individuals too nicely, 
so it is when we pick out best bits out of a great 
writer. 'T is the sum total of his mind which 
affects us. 

C. L. 


January 9, 1802. 

Please to send me one letter with the Broad Seal, 
for a friend who is curious in impressions. 

I am to be sure much gratified with your use 


of Margaret as a kind of rack to extract confes- 
sion from women. But don't give me out as your 
rack-maker, lest the women retort upon me the 
fate of Perillus, which you may read in your 
Ainsivorth under the article Phalaris; or you may 
find the story more at large by perusing the 
controversy between Bentley and Boyle. I have 
delayed to write (I believe I am telling a Lye) until 
I should get a book ready to send ; but I believe 
this has been all along a pretext recurred to, a 
kind of after-motive, when the resolution was 
taken a priori, rather than the true cause, which 
was mixed up of busy days and riotous nights, 
doing the company's business in a morning, strain- 
ing for jokes in the afternoon, and retailing them 
(not being yet published) over punch at night. 
The lungs of Stentor could not long sustain the life 
I have led. I get into parties, or treat them with 
Pope Joan four times in a week. You have dropt 
in ere now when Norris was courting at such a 
party, and you know the game. I stick to it like 
any papist. 'T is better than poetry, mechanics, 
politics, or metaphysics. That 's a stop — there 's 
pope — you did not take your ace — what a magic 
charm in sounds. I begin not to wonder at the 
bloodshed which dyed Christian Europe concern- 
ing Omousia and Omoiousia. — A party of peo- 
ple's faces about a fire grinning over cards and 
forgetting that they have got to go home is the 
supreme felicity, the maximum bonum. White has 
or is about to write you at my suggestion. We 


desire nothing so vigorously as to see Master Sec- 
retary in these parts. There are liquors and fumes 
extant which have power to detain a bachelor 
from his cold bed till cockcrow. 

Fenwick gives routs and balls and suppers — 
not balls, but splendid entertainments — out of 
the first fruits of the Plow — he had some hun- 
dreds of pounds from unthinking nobility. It is 
no breach of charity to suppose that part is ex- 
pended — his wife and daughter have got magni- 
ficent hats, which Mary waggishly has christen'd 
Northumberland hats, from his great patron at 
Charing Cross. 

Dyer has at last met with a madman more mad 
than himself — the Earl of Buchan, brother to 
the Erskines and eccentric biographer of Fletcher 
of Saltoun. This old man of near eighty is come 
to London in his way to France, and George and 
he go about everywhere. George brought the 
mad lord up to see me ; I wan't at home, but 
Mary was washing — a pretty pickle to receive 
an earl in ! Lord have mercy upon us ! a lord in 
my garret ! My utmost ambition was some time 
or other to receive a secretary ! Well, I am to 
breakfast with this mad lord on Sunday. I am 
studying manners. George and my Lord of Buchan 
went on Thursday last to Richmond in the long 
coach to pay their devotions to the shrine of 
Thomson ! The coldest day in the year. Enough 
to cool a Jerusalem-padder. George is as proud 
as a turkey-cock and can talk of nothing else ; 


always taking care to hedge in at the end that he 
don't value lords, and that the earl has nothing 
of the lord about him. O human nature ! human 
nature ! for my part I have told everybody, how 
I had an earl come to see me. George describes 
the earl as a very worthy man, who has his hobby- 
horses ; for instance, George says, he will stop you 
in the street, when you are walking with him, 
and hold you by the button, and talk so loud, 
that all the passers-by look at you. So you may 
guess why he cleaves to George the first. If you 
have read the Post, you may have seen a disser- 
tation on Cooke's Richard III ; which is the best 
thing I have done. It was in last Monday ; stray 
jokes I will not mark, hoping you will always 
take the good ones to be mine, and the bad ones 
to be done by John a Nokes, &c. 

In haste. Happy new year to Master Secre- 
tary. C. L. 

I had, before your injunction came, given a 
hint to the Goul, that you were disposed to serve 
him ; this to rear him from the dreary state of 
despair he was in. But now, mum. I wish to God 
you may do anything : for all the elements have 
fought against him. 

My play will most likely accompany my next. 
Fell's goes on slow and sure, like his own long 
stories. It is much, much, better than I could 
believe. Some of it is very good farce, which is 
all a modern play need be. 



January 14, 1802. 

You may suspect as much as you please (sus- 
picion ever haunts the guilty mind) that I did not 
do that thing about Richard, but I tell you I did, 
and I also made the Lord Mayor's Bed, which 
you are welcome to rumple as much as you please. 
I plead guilty to certain " felicities of phrase" — 
noviciate used as an adjective I myself suspected, 
but did not know that novice was any other than 
a substantive. But what the devil 's all this coil 
for about delightful artifices and elastic minds ? 
and how should a man at Bantry Bay know any- 
thing about good English? the fact is, that it was 
but an unfinished affair at first, and by the intelli- 
gent artifice of the editor it was made more chaotic 
still. As it stands, it is more than half introduc- 
tion : half of which was to be note. But it is most 
probably the last theatrical morceau I shall do : for 
they want 'em done the same night, and I tried 
it once, and found myself non compos. I can't do 
a thing against time. If I use " do" and "did " 
to excess, 't is because I know 'em to be good 
English, that you can't deny. My editor uniformly 
rejects all that I do considerable in length. I shall 
only do paragraphs, with now and then a slight 
poem such as Dick Strype, if you read it, which 
was but a long epigram. So I beg you not to 
read with much expectation, for my poor para- 
graphs do only get in when there are none of 


anybody's else. Most of them are rejected ; all, 
almost, that are personal, where my forte lies. 
And I cannot get at once out of the delightful 
regions of scurrility, the " Delectable Moun- 
tains " of Albion where whilom I fed my sheep, 
into the kickshaws of fashionable tittle-tattle, 
which I must learn. I cannot have the con- 
science to order a paper for Christ Church, on 
the hypothesis that it is on my account (which 
is modest), for no paragraphs can be worth 
eight guineas a year. However, I will try and 
see if I can get it at an under price as you pro- 
posed. — I sent 'em mottoes for Twelfth Day 
at their own desire — how did they serve me? 
the first day they put in mottoes by another 
(most stupid) hand, and the next day mottoes by 
ditto with some of mine tacked to 'em. They 
rejected a pretty good one on Dr. Solomon, — 

My namesake, sprung from Jewish breeder, 
Knew from the hyssop to the cedar, 
But I, unlike the Jewish leader, 
Scarce know the hyssop from the cedar. 

Another of the rejected ones, on Count Rum- 
ford, — 

I deal in aliments fictitious, 
And teaze the poor with soups nutritious ; 
Of bones and flint I make dilution, 
And belong to the National Institution. 

Maybe you did n't see what were in of mine. 
The best was, — 



I put my nightcap on my head, 
And went as usual to my bed, 
And most surprising to relate ! 
I woke a Minister of State ! 

Another, — 


At Eaton School brought up with dull boys, 
We shone like men among the schoolboys ; 
But since we in the world have been 
We are but schoolboys among men. 

Your advice about getting a share of the Post as 
fast as I can! ! I shall certainly follow. I wish 
I may hold my two-guinea matter. 

My scrawl costs you nothing ; and me only so 
much ink. Mary's love. We are just setting out 
on a night expedition freezing (the glass at 23 as 
I hear, for I don't know a thermometer from a 
barometer) to Pentonville to see Mister Comedy 
Fell and his pretty spouse. 

Yours, &c. 

C. L. 


January 18, 1802. 

George the 2nd has just arrived, has stayed 
over his time ! ! and written to Lord Stanhope 
without telling his lordship where to find him, 
accordingly must write again. 

Dear Rickman, — I have not been able to find 


a chapman who will pay half thy father's news- 
papers. I already read the Post upon nearly a 
similar plan ; seven or eight of us subscribe. One 
keeps it and pays half. But to avert thy wrath 
and indignation, which I know will burn most 
furiously if I omit thy commission, I have or- 
dered one at full cost, and there will go the first 
with the same post which carries this. As Mary 
seldom sees a paper she will thank your father 
for the liberty of reading it first, and take care 
only to send it by the same day's post. She will 
pay such proportion as a jury before Lord Kenyon 
shall award. 

Dinner is smoking. Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


February i, 1802. 

Dear Rickman, — Not having known the sweet 
girl deceased, your humble servant cannot endite 
with true passion a suitable epitaph. Here is a kind 
of substitute for feeling ; but your own prose, or 
nakedly the letter which you sent me, which was 
in some sort an epitaph and the best one, would 
do better on her gravestone than the cold lines of 
a stranger. 

A heart which felt unkindness, yet complain'd not ; 
A tongue which spake the simple truth, and feign'd not ; 
A soul as white as the pure marble skin 
(The beauteous mansion it was lodged in) 


Which, unrespected, could itself respect : 
On earth was all the portion of a maid, 
Who in this common sanctuary laid 

Sleeps unoffended by the world's neglect. 

I have not seen Southey to talk with him about 
it, but I conclude you addrest a letter to that 
import to him, as his came along with mine. If 
you stay a little, perhaps he or I may hit upon 
a better, for I suspect it sadly of commonplace. 

I had hoped ere this to send you a book, but 
the boarders are shockingly dilatory, and seem 
never to have heard of the fabulous stories of the 
anxiety of authors and parents. 

You will see almost as soon as the receipt of 
this a first number of a paper in the Morning 
Post, which I have undertaken solus, to be called 
the Londoner; I think you will like the first num- 
ber, as it jumps with your notions about a coun- 
try life, &c. I have done no more, so I have all 
the world before me where to chuse. I think you 
could give me hints. I have seen light papers in 
the Agricultural Magazine which would suit the 
Londoner to a tittle. G. Burnett surprised us with 
a visit yesterday. His two young lords have run 
away. George deposes, that he was teaching them 
their lesson, when he was called down by Lord 
Stanhope to be introduced to his lordship's 
mother ; when he returned his pupils were flown. 
They had gone out of window with their best 
coats and linen. The eldest son of Lord S. served 
him exactly the same trick, and his lordship sets 


it down that these striplings as well as the former 
(who never came back) were spirited away by the 
Pitt and Grenville party, to whom he is allied by 
marriage. He says that Pitt will make them vil- 
lains. Ministers have already bought off his son 
and his son-in-law: and he meant to bring up these 
young ones (the eldest sixteen) to mechanics or 
manufactures. It is very probable what he says — 
for the P.'s and G.'s (writing to a Secretary I dare 
not be more explicit) would go some steps to stop 
the growth of democratic peers. George de- 
clares that he is only sorry on Lord Stanhope's 
account, who is much agitated, but on his own 
he don't care at all : nay I have no doubt he is 
ready to leap at his heart, for Lord S. desires he 
will stay in his house, and he will try to get him 
something. So George has got his old desirable 
prospect of food and clothing with no duty to 
perform for it. I could fill volumes with a his- 
tory of his absurdities since the date of my last. 
Take one or two. Imprimis, he overstay' d his 
three weeks; then he wrote to Lord S. from town 
to write to him, but forgot to mention his own 
address ; then he was forced to write again to say 
he forgot, and begg'd his lordship to tell him the 
exact situation where his lordship's house stood, 
that he might have no trouble in finding it ! ! ! 
to write to a peer of the realm to tell the num- 
ber of his house ! Then he determines to set off 
for Chevening next morning, and writes that he 
will come down by the three o'clock stage ; then 

6 7 

he comes to us the night before at eleven and 
complains bitterly of the difficulty of getting up 
so early ; then he goes away, and White and I 
lay wagers that he won't go at all. Next morn- 
ing, eleven o'clock, enter George the 2nd in a 
dirty neckcloth; he could not go because he had 
no linen, and he had not time to go to Southey 
and borrow it, and inadvertently slips out that to 
be sure there was a coach went at half past ten. 
Then my tutor gapes, and stares, and borrows 
a neckcloth and sets off with all proper humility 
to my lord's in a post chaise ; drives up to the 
door in style; and there I leave him bowing 
and gaping to see the fine pictures. 

Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 

Mary's grateful thanks for your indulgence, by 
which she reads my works. 


February 4, 1802. 

Dear Rickman, — I send you three copies. 
Keep one yourself, and distribute the others. Per- 
haps you will send one to her, " whom you in 
sport do call your Margaret," but this is mere 

G. Dyer is sitting by me, he begs to be kindly 
remembered. He has brought news, that a Mr. 
Wainewright,with a Mr. Frend the pamphleteer, 


and Mr. Perry the chronicleer, have set up as 
a committee to procure him an annuity by sub- 
scription. Lord Stanhope has sent £$o. 

Talking of money, you owe me £11, which 
I paid in advance for your father's papers. 
Yours truly, 

C. L. 


February 14, 1802. 

" I take thy groat in earnest of revenge." One- 
and-twenty Margarets fall to the disposal of your 
dainty cousin. I sup with him at Southey's on 
Tuesday, God willing. Your guineas (which, 
let me tell you, are too much, but you shall have 
your way) are not absolutely mal-a-pros, for by 
a cruel reverse of Fortune, that dame who is 
painted with a wheel to signify to you that she 
is changes, and rollings, and mutabilities, I am no 
longer paragraph spinner. The fact is, that Stuart 
was wonderfully polite and civil at first ; I suppose 
because Coleridge recommended me, from whose 
assistance in the paper he expected great things, 
but Coleridge from ill health and unsettlement 
having hung back, I gradually got out of favor, 
and Stuart has at last twice told me that I must 
take more pains about my paragraphs, for he has 
not been able to draw above one in five from what 
I have sent him. This in connection with his 
altered behaviour was hint quite enough for me, 


who do not require hints as big as St. Paul's 
Church to make me understand a coldness, ex- 
cited my magnanimous spirit to indite a valorous 
letter of resignation, which I did with some 
qualms, when I remembered what I gave up : 
but to tell truth, all the little I have done has 
been very irksome, and rendered ten times more 
so from a sense of my employer not being fully 
satisfied ; and that little has subtracted from my 
pleasure of walking, reading, idling, &c, which 
are as necessary to me as the " golden vapour " 
of life itself. My health (silly as it seems to re- 
late) has suffered bitterly. My spirits absolutely 
require freedom and leisure, and I think I shall 
never engage to do task work any more, for I am 
sick. I must cut closer. I am almost ashamed 
at my capriciousness, as must seem to you, but 
upon a serious review I do approve of what I 've 
done. I 've foolishly involved you (I fear) in an 
expense of eight guineas a year, which I think 
was on my account ; but as it is for whom it is, 
I must not call it foolish. A paper in a country 
town is a kind of London. But I would gladly 
purchase your acquiescence by paying half, which 
I know you won't accept. I have given this up 
only two days, and I feel myself at elbow room, 
free and happy. I can scribble now at my heart's 
leisure, if I have an impulse, and tho' I know I 
speak as a fool, I am sure I can write better gratis. 
Say no more about it. I have weighed my loss 
and my gain, and I write profit. 


I may yet do the Londoners at my leisure. 

This letter is short, for I have got a bad head- 
ache. Mr. Abbot's elevation, you may be sure, 
surprised me. I take it for granted you will not 
be a loser. I am sure I shall be a gainer, if an 
easterly wind wafts you to England. 

Frend was here yesterday. He desires me to 
set down every day Dyer dines with me, and the 
committee will pay me, as George is to have no 
money of his own. George contrives constantly 
to dine here, when he says he shan't over night, 
which is very convenient, and vice versa. It is the 
damned vanity of being supposed to be always 
engaged. Now he is got well, he is as freakish 
as King David at Gath. Nothing can be done 
with him ; save that the committee will pre- 
serve him from felo de se, that he shan't starve 

George the 2nd discharges his important trust, 
of doing nothing for Lord S. with fidelity and 
diligence. His lordship sends him to town upon 
any fiddle-faddle errand, and George fancies him- 
self essential to his lordship's comfort. He looks 
more important than Mr. Dressin, king's mess- 

Mary always desires to be most kindly remem- 
bered by you. She bids me not tell you that an 
epigram called Helen, in my little book, is of her 
writing. But it is, every tittle of it. I hope you 
do not dislike it. We remain yours truly, 

C. L., M. L. 

7 1 


February 15, 1802. 

Not a sentence, not a syllable of Trismegistus, 
shall be lost through my neglect. I am his word- 
banker, his storekeeper of puns and syllogisms. 
You cannot conceive (and if Trismegistus cannot, 
no man can) the strange joy which I felt at the 
receipt of a letter from Paris. It seemed to give 
me a learned importance, which placed me above 
all who had not Parisian correspondents. Believe 
that I shall carefully husband every scrap, which 
will save you the trouble of memory, when you 
come back. You cannot write things so trifling, 
let them only be about Paris, which I shall not 
treasure. In particular, I must have parallels of 
actors and actresses. I must be told if any build- 
ing in Paris is at all comparable to St. Paul's, 
which, contrary to the usual mode of that part 
of our nature called admiration, I have looked 
up to with unfading wonder every morning at ten 
o'clock, ever since it has lain in my way to busi- 
ness. At noon I casually glance upon it, being 
hungry ; and hunger has not much taste for the 
fine arts. Is any night-walk comparable to a walk 
from St. Paul's to Charing Cross, for lighting and 
paving, crowds going and coming without respite, 
the rattle of coaches and the cheerfulness of shops? 
Have you seen a man guillotined yet ? is it as good 
as hanging ? are the women all painted, and the 
men all monkeys ? or are there not a few that look 


like rational of both sexes ? Are you and the First 
Consul thick ? All this expense of ink I may fairly 
put you to, as your letters will not be solely for 
my proper pleasure, but are to serve as memor- 
anda and notices, helps for short memory, a kind 
of Rumfordising recollection, for yourself on your 

Your letter was just what a letter should be, 
crammed and very funny. Every part of it pleased 
me till you came to Paris ; and your damn'd 
philosophical indolence or indifference stung me. 
You cannot stir from your rooms till you know 
the language ! What the devil ! — are men no- 
thing but word-trumpets ? are men all tongue and 
ear ? have these creatures, that you and I profess 
to know something about, no faces, gestures, gabble: 
no folly, no absurdity, no induction of French 
eductation [eduction] upon the abstract idea of 
men and women, no similitude nor dissimilitude 
to English ! Why ! thou damn'd Smell-fungus ! 
your account of your landing and reception, and 
Bullen (I forget how you spell it — it was spelt 
my way in Harry the Eighth's time), was exactly 
in that minute style which strong impressions 
inspire (writing to a Frenchman, I write as a 
Frenchman would). It appears to me as if I 
should die with joy at the first landing in a foreign 
country. It is the nearest pleasure, which a grown 
man can substitute for that unknown one, which 
he can never know — the pleasure of the first 
entrance into life from the womb. I dare say, in 


a short time, my habits would come back like 
a "stronger man" armed, and drive out that new 
pleasure ; and I should soon sicken for known 
objects. Nothing has transpired here that seems 
to me of sufficient importance to send dry-shod 
over the water : but I suppose you will want to 
be told some news. The best and the worst to me 
is, that I have given up two guineas a week at the 
Post, and regained my health and spirits, which 
were upon the wane. I grew sick, and Stuart 
unsatisfied. Ludisti satis, tempus abire est; I must 
cut closer, that 's all. 

In all this time I have done but one thing, 
which I reckon tolerable, and that I will tran- 
scribe, because it may give you pleasure, being 
a picture of my humours. You will find it in my 
last page. It absurdly is a first Number of a series, 
thus strangled in its birth. 

More news ! The Professor's Rib has come 
out to be a damn'd disagreeable woman, so much 
[so] as to drive me and some more old cronies 
from his house. If a man will keep snakes in his 
house, he must not wonder if people are shy of 
coming to see him because of the snakes. 

Mister Fell — or as you, with your usual fa- 
ceteness [facetiousness] and drollery, call him, 
Mr. F + 11 — has stopped short in the middle of 
his play, like what is called being taken short. 
SomeyhVWhas told him that it has not the least 
merit in it. Oh that I had the rectifying of the 
Litany ! I would put in a libera nos [Scriptores 


videlicet} ab amicis! That 's all the news. Apropos 
(is it pedantry, writing to a Frenchman, to express 
myself sometimes by a French word, when an 
English one would not do as well ? Methinks, 
my thoughts fall naturally into it) — apropos, 
I think you wrong about my play. All the omis- 
sions are right. And the supplementary scene, in 
which Sandford narrates the manner in which 
his master is affected, is the best in the book. It 
stands where a hodgepodge of German puerilities 
used to stand. I insist upon it that you like that 
scene. Love me, love that scene. I will now 
transcribe the Londoner (No. i), and wind up 
all with affection and humble servant at the 
end. I write small in regard to your good eye- 
sight. [Here follows the essay called The Londoner, 
which will be found in Lamb's printed works.} 

" What is all this about ? " said Mrs. Shandy. 
" A story of a cock and a bull," said Yorick : 
and so it is ; but Manning will take good-na- 
turedly what God will send him across the water : 
only I hope he won't shut his eyes, and open his 
mouth, as the children say, for that is the way to 
gape, and not to read. Manning, continue your 
laudable purpose of making me your register. 
I will render back all your remarks; and I, not 
you, shall have received usury by having read 
them. In the meantime, may the Great Spirit 
have you in his keeping, and preserve our Eng- 
lishmen from the inoculation of frivolity and sin 
upon French earth. 


Allons, — or what is it you say, instead of 
good-bye ? 

Mary sends her kind remembrance, and covets 
the remarks equally with me. 

C. Lamb 


[" Are you and the First Consul thick ?" — Napoleon, with 
whom Manning was destined one day to be on terms. In 1 803, 
on the declaration of war, when he wished to return to Eng- 
land, Manning's was the only passport that Napoleon signed ; 
again, in 181 7, on returning "from China, Manning was 
wrecked near St. Helena, and, waiting on the island for a 
ship, conversed there with the great exile. — E. V. Lucas.] 


16 Mitre Court Buildings, Inner Temple, 
April 10, 1802. 

Dear Rickman, — The enclosed letter explains 
itself. It will save me the danger of a corporal 
interview with the man-eater, who, if very sharp- 
set, may take a fancy to me, if you will give me 
a short note, declaratory of probabilities. These 
from him who hopes to see you once or twice 
more before he goes hence, to be no more seen : 
for there is no tipple nor tobacco in the grave, 
whereunto he hasteneth. 

C. Lamb 

How clearly the Goul writes, and like a gen- 
tleman ! 



September 8, 1802. 

Dear Coleridge, — I thought of not writing 
till we had performed some of our commissions ; 
but we have been hindered from setting about 
them, which yet shall be done to a tittle. We 
got home very pleasantly on Sunday. We had 
Miss Buck's company nearly all the way. Mary 
is a good deal fatigued, and finds the difference 
of going to a place, and coming from it. I feel 
that I shall remember your mountains to the last 
day I live. They haunt me perpetually. I am 
like a man who has been falling in love unknown 
to himself, which he finds out when he leaves 
the Lady. I do not remember any very strong 
impression while they were present; but, being 
gone, their mementos are shelved in my brain. 
We past a very pleasant little time with the 
Clarksons. Lloyd's hospitality is not extinct; it 
only was past into them. The Wordsworths are 
at Montague's rooms, near neighbours to us. 
They dined with us yesterday, and I was their 
guide to Bartlemy Fair ! 

I shall put your letter in the penny post, and 
shall always do so, if you have no objection, for 
I don't want to see Stuart, our Dissolution was 
rather ambiguous and I am not sure he is not 
displeased. I was pleased to recognise your Blank 
verse Poem (the Picture) in the Morning Post of 
Monday. It reads very well and I feel some dig- 


nity in the notion of being able to understand it 
better than most Southern Readers. 

I hope you got over the fatigue of Helvellin. 
I shall expect little notes now and then to accom- 
pany yours to Stuart, which will pay me for the 
pang I must feel ! in defrauding the Company. 
Mind, if you think the Penny Post not safe or 
had otherwise rather I dropt 'em in myself, I 
will, but I hate to encounter that impudent 

I yesterday hunted about at Lockington's, &c, 
for Milton's Prose Works, which if I could have 
got reasonably I should have beg'd your accept- 
ance. The only one I met with, the best Quarto, 
was 6 guineas — But I don't despair. 

Observe the Lamb^ (but don't mark it) on 
those letters I am not to open. 

My next letter I hope will contain some 
account of our commissions. 

I am hurrying this off at my office where I am 
got for the first time to-day, and very awk- 
ward I feel and strange at Business. I forget the 
names of Books and feel myself not half so great 
a man as when I [was] a scrambler among moun- 
tains. I feel debased; but I shall soon break in 
my mountain spirit. 

Particularly tell me about little Pi-pos (or flying 
Opossum) the only child (but one) I had ever an 
inclination to steal from its parents. That one 
was a Beggar's brat that I might have had cheap. 
I hope his little Rash has gone. 


But don't be jealous. I have a very affection- 
ate memory of you all, besides Pi-pos : but Pipos 
I especially love. 

Remember me kindly to Hartley and Hart- 
ley's old friends at Greta Hall and very kindly 
to Sara. I may venture to add Mary's love, I am 
sure, tho' she does not sit beside me. Public 
offices scare away familiar faces and make ugly 
faces too familiar. Have you seen Stoddart and 
Allen. We past S. on the road. 

God bless you all. 

C. L. 



Dear Mrs. G., — Having observed with some 
concern that Mr. Godwin is a little fastidious 
in what he eats for supper, I herewith beg to 
present his palate with a piece of dried salmon. 
I am assured it is the best that swims in Trent. 
If you do not know how to dress it, allow me 
to add, that it should be cut in thin slices and 
boiled in paper previously prepared in butter. 
Wishing it exquisite, I remain, — much as be- 
fore, yours sincerely, 

C. Lamb 

Some add mashed potatoes. 



London, September 24, 1802. 

My dear Manning, — Since the date of my last 
letter, I have been a traveller. A strong desire 
seized me of visiting remote regions. My first 
impulse was to go and see Paris. It was a trivial 
objection to my aspiring mind, that I did not 
understand a word of the language, since I cer- 
tainly intend some time in my life to see Paris, 
and equally certainly never intend to learn the lan- 
guage, therefore that could be no objection. How- 
ever, I am very glad I did not go, because you 
had left Paris (I see) before I could have set out. 
I believe, Stoddart promising to go with me an- 
other year prevented that plan. My next scheme 
(for to my restless, ambitious mind London was 
become a bed of thorns) was to visit the far-famed 
Peak in Derbyshire, where the Devil sits, they 
say, without breeches. This my purer mind re- 
jected as indelicate. And my final resolve was 
a tour to the Lakes. I set out with Mary to Kes- 
wick, without giving Coleridge any notice ; for 
my time being precious did not admit of it. He 
received us with all the hospitality in the world, 
and gave up his time to shew us all the wonders 
of the country. He dwells upon a small hill by 
the side of Keswick, in a comfortable house, quite 
enveloped on all sides by a net of mountains : 

■ An autograph facsimile of this letter is given, in its chronological 
order, in Vol. I. 


great floundering bears and monsters they seemed, 
all couchant and asleep. We got in in the even- 
ing, travelling in a post-chaise from Penrith, in 
the midst of a gorgeous sunshine, which trans- 
muted all the mountains into colours, purple, 
&c. &c. We thought we had got into Fairyland. 
But that went off (as it never came again, while 
we stayed; we had no more fine sunsets), and we 
entered Coleridge's comfortable studyjust in the 
dusk, when the mountains were all dark with 
clouds upon their heads. Such an impression I 
never received from objects of sight before, nor 
do I suppose that I can ever again. Glorious crea- 
tures, fine old fellows, Skiddaw, &c. I never shall 
forget ye, how ye lay about that night, like an 
intrenchment ; gone to bed, as it seemed for the 
night, but promising that ye were to be seen in 
the morning. Coleridge had got a blazing fire 
in his study ; which is a large, antique, ill-shaped 
room, with an old-fashioned organ, never played 
upon, big enough for a church, shelves of scat- 
tered folios, an Eolian harp, and an old sofa, half- 
bed, &c. And all looking out upon the last fading 
view of Skiddaw and his broad-breasted brethren : 
what a night ! Here we stayed three full weeks, 
in which time I visited Wordsworth's cottage, 
where we stayed a day or two with the Clarksons 
(good people and most hospitable, at whose house 
we tarried one day and night), and saw Lloyd. 
[The] Wordsworths were gone to Calais. They 
have since been in London and past much time 


with us : he is now gone into Yorkshire to be 
married to a girl of small fortune, but he is in ex- 
pectation of augmenting his own, in consequence 
of the death of Lord Lonsdale, who kept him out 
of his own in conformity with a plan my lord 
had taken up in early life of making everybody 

So we have seen Keswick, Grasmere, Amble- 
side, Ulswater (where the Clarksons live), and 
a place at the other end of Ulswater; I forget the 
name: to which we travelled on a very sultry day, 
over the middle of Helvellyn. We have clam- 
bered up to the top of Skiddaw, and I have waded 
up the bed of Lodore. In fine, I have satisfied 
myself, that there is such a thing as that which 
tourists call romantic, which I very much sus- 
pected before: they make such a spluttering about 
it, and toss their splendid epithets around them, 
till they give as dim a light as at four o'clock 
next morning the lamps do after an illumination. 
Mary was excessively tired, when she got about 
half-way up Skiddaw, but we came to a cold rill 
(than which nothing can be imagined more cold, 
running over cold stones, 1 , and with the reinforce- 
ment of a draught of cold water she surmounted 
it most manfully. O, its fine black head, and the 
bleak air atop of it, with a prospect of mountains 
all about, and about, making you giddy ; and then 
Scotland afar off, and the border countries so fa- 
mous in song and ballad ! It was a day that will 
stand out, like a mountain, I am sure, in my life. 


But I am returned (I have now been come home 
near three weeks ; I was a month out), and you 
cannot conceive the degradation I felt at first, from 
being accustomed to wander free as air among 
mountains, and bathe in rivers without being 
controlled by any one, to come home and work. 
I felt very little. I had been dreaming I was a very 
great man. But that is going off, and I find I 
shall conform in time to that state of life to which 
it has pleased God to call me. Besides, after all, 
Fleet Street and the Strand are better places to 
live in for good and all than among Skiddaw. 
Still, I turn back to those great places where I 
wandered about, participating in their greatness. 
After all, I could not live in Skiddaw. I could 
spend a year, two, three years among them, but 
I must have a prospect of seeing Fleet Street at 
the end of that time, or I should mope and pine 
away, I know. Still, Skiddaw is a fine creature. 
My habits are changing, I think, i. e. from drunk 
to sober. Whether I shall be happier or no 
remains to be proved. I shall certainly be more 
happy in a morning ; but whether I shall not sac- 
rifice the fat, and the marrow, and the kidneys, 
i. e. the night, the glorious care-drowning night, 
that heals all our wrongs, pours wine into our 
mortifications, changes the scene from indiffer- 
ent and flat to bright and brilliant ! O Manning, 
if I should have formed a diabolical resolution, 
by the time you come to England, of not admit- 
ting any spirituous liquors into my house, will 


you be my guest on such shameworthy terms ? 
Is life, with such limitations, worth trying ? The 
truth is, that my liquors bring a nest of friendly 
harpies about my house, who consume me. This 
is a pitiful tale to be read at St. Gothard ; but it 
is just now nearest my heart. Fen wick is a ruined 
man. He is hiding himself from his creditors, 
and has sent his wife and children into the coun- 
try. Fell, my other drunken companion (that has 
been : nam hie caestus artemque repono), is turned 
editor of a Naval Chronicle. Godwin (with a piti- 
ful artificial wife) continues a steady friend, tho'h 
the same facility does not remain of visiting him 
often. That bitch has detached Marshall from 
his house ; Marshall, the man who went to sleep 
when the Ancient Mariner was reading : the old, 
steady, unalterable friend of the Professor. 

Holcroft is not yet come to town. I expect 
to see him, and will deliver your message. [Two 
words here are obscure, but Mr. Lucas prints 
" How I hate"] this part of a letter. Things 
come crowding in to say, and no room for 'em. 
Some things are too little to be told, /. e. to have 
a preference ; some are too big and circumstan- 
tial. Thanks for yours, which was most delicious. 
Would I had been with you, benighted, &c. ! 
I fear my head is turned with wandering. I shall 
never be the same acquiescent being. Farewell ; 
write again quickly, for I shall not like to hazard 
a letter, not knowing where the fates have carried 
you. Farewell, my dear fellow. C. Lamb 



October 9, 1802. 

Carissime, — Scribis, ut nummos scilicet epis- 
tolarios solvam et postremo in Tartara abeam : 
immo tu potius Tartaricum (ut aiunt) deprehen- 
disti, qui me vernacula mea lingua pro scriba con- 
ductitio per tot annos satis eleganter usum ad 
Latine impure et canino fere ore latrandum per 
tuasmet epistolas bene compositas et concinnatas 
percellere studueris. Conabor tamen : Attamen 
vereor, ut JEdes istas nostri Christi, inter quas 
tanta diligentia magistri improba [Pimprobi] 
bonis literulis, quasi per clysterem quendam in- 
iectis, infra supraque olim penitus imbutus fui, 
Barnesii et Marklandii doctissimorum virorum 
nominibus adhuc gaudentes, barbarismis meis 
peregrinis et aliunde quaesitis valde dehonestavero 
[ste\ . Sed pergere quocunque placet. Adeste igi- 
tur, quotquot estis, coniugationum declinatio- 
numve turmae, terribilia spectra, et tu imprimis 
ades, Umbra et Imago maxima obsoletae (Diis 
gratiae) Virgae, qua novissime in mentem recepta, 
horrescunt subito natales [nates], et parum deest 
quo minus braccas meas ultro usque ad crura de- 
mittam, et ipse puer pueriliter eiulem. 

Ista tua Carmina Chamouniana satis grandia 
esse mihi constat ; sed hoc mihi nonnihil displicet, 
quod in iis illae montium Grisosonum inter se re- 
sponsiones totidem reboant anglice, God, God, 


haud aliter atque temet audivi tuas montes 
Cumbrianas resonare docentes, Tod, Tod, nempe 
Doctorem infelicem : vocem certe haud Deum 
sonantem. Pro caeteris plaudo. 

Itidem comparationes istas tuas satis callidas et 
lepidas certe novi : sed quid hoc ad verum ? cum 
illi Consulari viro et mentem irritabilem istam 
Iulianam : et etiam astutias frigidulas quasdam 
Augusto propriores, nequaquam congruenter uno 
afflatu comparationis causa insedisse affirmaveris : 
necnon nescio quid similitudinis etiam cum Ti- 
berio tertio in loco solicite produxeris. Quid tibi 
equidem cum uno vel altero Caesare, cum universi 
Duodecim ad comparationes tuas se ultro tule- 
rint ? Praeterea, vetustati adnutans, compara- 
tiones iniquas odi. 

Istas Wordsworthianas nuptias (vel potius cu- 
iusdam Edmundii tui) te retulisse mirificum gau- 
deo. Valeas, Maria, fortunata nimium, etantiquae 
illae Mariae Virgini (comparatione plusquam 
Caesareana)forsitancomparanda, quoniam "beata 
inter mulieres: " et etiam fortasseWordsworthium 
ipsum tuum maritum Angelo Salutatori aequare 
fas erit, quoniam e Coelo (ut ille) descendunt et 
Musae et ipsi Musicolae : at Wordsworthium 
Musarum observantissimum semper novi. Nec- 
non te quoque affinitate hac nova, Dorothea, gra- 
tulor : et tu certe alterum donum Dei. 

Istum Ludum, quern tu, Coleridgi, America- 
num garris, a Ludo (ut Ludi sunt) maxime ab- 
horrentem praetereo : nempe quid ad Ludum 


attinet, totius illae gentis Columbianae, a nostra 
gente, eadem stirpe orta, ludi singuli causa volun- 
tatem perperam alienare ? Quaeso ego materiam 
ludi : tu Bella ingeris. 

Deniquevaleas,et quid de Latinitatemeaputes, 
dicas : facias ut opossum ilium nostrum volantem 
vel (ut tu malis) quendam Piscem errabundum, a 
me salvum et pulcherrimum esse iubeas. Valeant 
uxor tua cum Hartleiio nostro. Soror mea salva 
est et ego : vos et ipsa salvere iubet. Ulterius pro- 
grediri [? progredi] non liquet : homo sum aera- 

P. S. — Pene mihi exciderat, apud me esse 
Librorum a Iohanno Miltono Latine scriptorum 
volumina duo, quae (Deo volente) cum caeteris 
tuis libris ocyus citius per Maria [?] ad te missura 
[sic] curabo ; sed me in hoc tali genere rerum 
nullo modo festinantem novisti : habes confitentem 
reum. Hoc solum dici \sic\ restat, praedicta vo- 
lumina pulchra esse et omnia opera Latina I. M. 
in se continere. Circa defensionem istam Pro 
Pop . Ang°. acerrimam in praesens ipse praeclaro 
gaudio moror. 

Iussa tua Stuartina faciam ut diligenter colam. 
Iterum iterumque valeas: 

Et facias memor sis nostri. 



[The following translation is from the pen of Mr. Stephen 
Gwynn : 

Charles Lamb to his Friend Coleridge, Greeting : 

Dear Friend, — You write that I am to pay my debt, to 
wit in coin of correspondence, and finally that I am to go to 
Tartarus : no but it is you have caught a Tartar (as the saying 
is), since after all these years employing my own vernacular 
tongue, and prettily enough for a hired penman, you have set 
about to drive me by means of your well composed and neatly 
turned epistles to gross and almost doggish barking in the 
Latin. Still, I will try : And yet I fear that the Hostel of our 
Christ, — wherein by the exceeding diligence of a relentless 
master I was in days gone by deeply imbued from top to bot- 
tom with polite learning, instilled as it were by a clyster — 
which still glories in the names of the erudite Barnes and 
Markland, will be vilely dishonoured by my outlandish and 
adscititious barbarisms. But I am determined to proceed, no 
matter whither. Be with me therefore all ye troops of con- 
jugations and declensions, dread spectres, and approach thou 
chiefest, Shade and Phantom of the disused (thank Heaven) 
Birch, at whose entry to my imagination a sudden shiver takes 
my rump, and a trifle then more would make me begin to let 
down my breeches to my calves, and turning boy, howl boy- 

That your Ode at Chamounix is a fine thing I am clear; 
but here is a thing offends me somewhat, that in the ode your 
answers of the Grison mountains to each other should so 
often echo in English God, God — in the very tone that I have 
heard your own lips teaching your Cumbrian mountains to re- 
sound Tod, Tod, meaning the unlucky doctor — a syllable 
assuredly of no Godlike sound. For the rest, I approve. 

Moreover, I certainly recognise that your comparisons are 
acute and witty ; but what has this to do with truth ? since 
you have given to the great Consul at once that irritable mind 
of Julius, and also a kind of cold cunning, more proper to 
Augustus — attributing incongruous characteristics in one 


breath for the sake of your comparison : nay, you have even 
in the third instance laboriously drawn out some likeness to 
Tiberius. What had you to do with one Caesar, or a second, 
when the whole Twelve offered themselves to your compari- 
son ? Moreover, I agree with antiquity, and think comparisons 

Your Wordsworth nuptials (or rather the nuptials of a cer- 
tain Edmund of yours) fill me with joy in your report. May 
you prosper, Mary, fortunate beyond compare, and perchance 
comparable to that ancient Virgin Mary (a comparison more 
than Caesarean) since " blessed art thou among women : " per- 
haps also it will be no impiety to compare Wordsworth him- 
self your husband to the Angel of Salutation, since (like the 
angel) from heaven descend both Muses and the servants of 
the Muses : whose devoutest votary I always know Words- 
worth to be. Congratulations to thee, Dorothea, in this new 
alliance : you also assuredly are another " gift of God." 

As for your Ludus [Lloyd], whom you talk of as an 
" American," I pass him by as no sportsman (as sport goes) : 
what kind of sport is it, to alienate utterly the good will of 
the whole Columbian people, our own kin, sprung of the same 
stock, for the sake of one Ludd [Lloyd] ? I seek the material 
for diversion : you heap on War. 

Finally, fare you well, and pray tell me what you think of 
my Latinity. Kindly wish health and beauty from me to our 
flying possum or (as you prefer to call it) roving Fish. Good 
health to your wife and my friend Hartley. My sister and I 
are well. She also sends you greeting. I do not see how to 
get on farther : I am a man in debt [or possibly in " fet- 
ters "] . 

P. S. — I had almost forgot, I have by me two volumes of 
the Latin writings of John Milton, which (D. V.) I will have 
sent you sooner or later by Mary : but you know me no way 
precipitate in this kind : the accused pleads guilty. This only 
remains to be said, that the aforesaid volumes are handsome and 
contain all the Latin works of J. M. At present I dwell with 
much delight on his vigorous defence of the English people. 

I will be sure to observe diligently your Stuartial tidings. 

Again and again farewell : and pray be mindful of me.] 

8 9 


October n, 1802. 

Dear Coleridge, — Your offer about the Ger- 
man poems is exceedingly kind ; but I do not 
think it a wise speculation, because the time it 
would take you to put them into prose would be 
nearly as great as if you versified them. Indeed, 
I am sure you could do the one nearly as soon 
as the other ; so that, instead of a division of 
labour, it would be only a multiplication. But 
I will think of your offer in another light. I dare 
say I could find many things of a light nature 
to suit that paper, which you would not object to 
pass upon Stuart as your own, and I should come 
in for some light profits, and Stuart think the 
more highly of your assiduity. Bishop Hall's 
Characters I know nothing about, having never 
seen them. But I will reconsider your offer, 
which is very plausible; for as to the drudgery 
of going every day to an editor with my scraps, 
like a pedlar, for him to pick out, and tumble 
about my ribbons and posies, and to wait in his 
lobby, &c, no money could make up for the 
degradation. You are in too high request with 
him to have anything unpleasant of that sort to 
submit to. 

It was quite a slip of my pen, in my Latin 
letter, when I told you I had Milton's Latin 
Works. I ought to have said his Prose Works, 
in two volumes, Birch's edition, containing all, 


both Latin and English, a fuller and better edition 
than Lloyd's of Toland. It is completely at your 
service, and you must accept it from me ; at the 
same time, I shall be much obliged to you for 
your Latin Milton, which you think you have at 
Howitt's ; it will leave me nothing to wish for but 
the History of England, which I shall soon pick up 
for a trifle. But you must write me word whether 
the Miltons are worth paying carriage for. You 
have a Milton ; but it is pleasanter to eat one's 
own peas out of one's own garden, than to buy 
them by the peck at Covent Garden; and a book 
reads the better, which is our own, and has been so 
long known to us, that we know the topography 
of its blots and dog's-ears, and can trace the dirt 
in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins, 
or over a pipe, which I think is the maximum. 
But, Coleridge, you must accept these little things, 
and not think of returning money for them, for 
I do not set up for a factor or general agent. As 
for the fantastic debt of 1 5/., I '11 think you were 
dreaming, and not trouble myself seriously to at- 
tend to you. My bad Latin you properly correct ; 
but natales for nates was an inadvertency : I knew 
better. Progrediri or progredi I thought indiffer- 
ent, my authority being Ainsworth. However, 
as I have got a fit of Latin, you will now and then 
indulge me with an epistola. I pay the postage of 
this, and propose doing it by turns. In that case 
I can now and then write to you without re- 
morse ; not that you would mind the money, but 


you have not always ready cash to answer small 
demands, the epistolarii numtni. 

Your Epigram on the Sun and Moon in Germany 
is admirable. Take 'em all together, they are as 
good as Harrington's. I will muster up all the 
conceits I can, and you shall have a packet some 
day. You and I together can answer all demands 
surely : you, mounted on a terrible charger (like 
Homer in the Battle of the Books) at the head of 
the cavalry : I will lead the light horse. I have 
just heard from Stoddart. Allen and he intend 
taking Keswick in their way home. Allen wished 
particularly to have it a secret that he is in Scot- 
land, and wrote to me accordingly very urgently. 
As luck was, I had told not above three or four ; 
but Mary had told Mrs. Green of Christ's Hos- 
pital ! For the present, farewell : never forget- 
ting love to Pi-pos and his friends. 

C. Lamb 


October 23, 1802. 

Your kind offer I will not a second time re- 
fuse. You shall send me a packet, and I will do 
them into English with great care. Is not there 
one about Wm. Tell, and would not that in the 
present state of discussions be likely to tell? The 
Epigrams I meant are to be found at the end of 

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


Harrington's Translation of Orlando Furioso : if 
you could get the book they would some of them 
answer your purpose to modernize. If you can't, 
I fancy I can. Baxter's Holy Commonwealth I 
have luckily met with, and when I have sent it 
you shall if you please consider yourself indebted 
to me 3/6, the cost of it : especially as I pur- 
chased it after your solemn injunctions. 

The plain case with regard to my presents 
(which you seem so to shrink from) is that I 
have not at all affected the character of a Donor, 
or thought of violating your sacred law of Give 
and Take : but I have been taking and partaking 
the good things of your House (when I know 
you were not over-abounding) and now give 
unto you of mine : and by the grace of God I 
happen to be myself a little super-abundant at 
present. I expect I shall be able to send you 
my final parcel in about a week ; by that time I 
shall have gone through all Milton's Latin works. 
There will come with it the Holy Commonwealth, 
and the identical North American Bible which 
you helped to dogs-ear at Xt's. I called at How- 
ell's for your little Milton, and also to fetch 
away the White Cross Street Library Books, 
which I have not forgot : but your books were 
not in a state to be got at then, and Mrs. H. is 
to let me know when she packs up. They will 
be sent by sea ; and my little precursor will come 
to you by the Whitehaven waggon, accompanied 
with pens, penknife, &c. Mrs. Howell was as 


usual very civil ; and asked with great earnest- 
ness if it were likely you would come to town in 
the winter — she has a friendly eye upon you. 

I read daily your political essays. I was par- 
ticularly pleased with Once a Jacobin : though 
the argument is obvious enough, the style was 
less swelling than your things sometimes are, and 
it was plausible ad populum. A vessel has just 
arrived from Jamaica with the news of poor 
Sam Le Grice's death. He died at Jamaica of 
the yellow fever. His course was rapid, and he 
had been very foolish ; but I believe there was 
more of kindness and warmth in him than in 
almost any other of our schoolfellows. I have 
had no account a long time of Favell. The annual 
meeting of the Blues is to-morrow, at the Lon- 
don Tavern, where poor Sammy dined with them 
two years ago, and attracted the notice of all by 
the singular foppishness of his dress. When men 
go off the stage so early, it scarce seems a notice- 
able thing in their epitaphs, whether they had 
been wise or silly in their lifetime. 

I am glad the snuff and Pi-pos's books please. 
Goody Two Shoes is almost out of print. Mrs. 
Barbauld's stuff has banished all the old classics 
of the nursery ; and the shopman at Newberry's 
hardly deigned to reach them off an old exploded 
corner of a shelf, when Mary asked for them. 
Mrs. B.'s and Mrs. Trimmer's nonsense lay in 
piles about. Knowledge insignificant and vapid 
as Mrs. B.'s books convey, it seems, must come 


to a child in the shape of knowledge, and his empty 
noddle must be turned with conceit of his own 
powers when he has learnt that a horse is an 
animal, and Billy is better than a horse, and such 
like ; instead of that beautiful interest in wild 
tales, which made the child a man, while all the 
time he suspected himself to be no bigger than 
a child. Science has succeeded to poetry no less 
in the little walks of children than with men. 
Is there no possibility of averting this sore evil ? 
Think what you would have been now, if in- 
stead of being fed with Tales and old wives' 
fables in childhood, you had been crammed with 
geography and Natural History ! 

Damn them ! — I mean the cursed Barbauld 
crew, those Blights and Blasts of all that is 
Human in man and child. 

As to the translations, let me do two or three 
hundred lines, and then do you try the nostrums 
upon Stuart in any way you please. If they go 
down, I will brave more. In fact, if I got or 
could but get 50/. a year only, in addition to 
what I have, I should live in affluence. 

Have you anticipated it, or could not you give 
a Parallel of Buonaparte with Cromwell, particu- 
larly as to the contrast in their deeds affecting 
foreign states ? Cromwell's interference for the Al- 
bigenses, B[uonaparte]'s against the Swiss. Then 
religion would come in; and Milton and you 
could rant about our countrymen of that period. 
This is a hasty suggestion, the more hasty be- 


cause I want my supper. I have just finished 
Chapman's Homer. Did you ever read it ? it has 
most the continuous power of interesting you 
all along, like a rapid original, of any ; and in 
the uncommon excellence of the more finished 
parts goes beyond Fairfax or any of 'em. The 
metre is fourteen syllables, and capable of all 
sweetness and grandeur. Cowper's damned blank 
verse detains you every step with some heavy 
Miltonism ; Chapman gallops off with you his 
own free pace. Take a simile for an example. 
The council breaks up, — 

Being abroad, the earth was overlaid 
With flockers to them, that came forth : as when of frequent 

Swarms rise out of a hollow rock, repairing the degrees 
Of their egression endlessly., with ever rising new 
From forth their sweet nest ; as their store, still as it faded, 

And never would cease sending forth her clusters to the spring, 
They still crowd out so ; this flock here, that there, belabouring 
The loaded flowers. So, &c. &c. 

What endless egression of phrases the Dog com- 
mands ! 

Take another : Agamemnon wounded, bear- 
ing his wound heroically for the sake of the 
army (look below) to a woman in Labour. 

He, with his lance, sword, mighty stones, pour'd his heroic 

On other squadrons of the foe, whiles yet warm blood did 

Thro' his cleft veins ; but when the wound was quite exhaust 

and crude, 


The eager anguish did approve his princely fortitude. 

As when most sharp and bitter pangs distract a labouring dame, 

Which the divine Ilithiae, that rule the painful frame 

Of human childbirth, pour on her ; the Ilithiae that are 

The daughters of Saturnia ; with whose extreme repair 

The woman in her travail strives to take the worst it gives ; 

With thought, it must be, 'tis Love' s fruit, the end for which she 

lives ; 
The mean to make herself new born, what comforts will redound : 
So, &c. 

I will tell you more about Chapman and his 
peculiarities in my next. I am much interested 
in him. 

Yours ever affectionately, and Pi-Pos's, &c, 

C. L. 


November 4, 1802. 

Observe, there comes to you, by the Kendal 
waggon to-morrow, the illustrious fifth of No- 
vember, abox, containing the Miltons,the strange 
American Bible, with White's brief note, to which 
you will attend ; Baxter's Holy Commonwealth, for 
which you stand indebted to me 3.C 6d. ; an odd 
volume of Montaigne, being of no use to me, 
I having the whole ; certain books belonging to 
Wordsworth, as do also the strange thick-hoofed 
shoes, which are very much admired at in Lon- 
don. All these sundries I commend to your most 
strenuous looking after. If you find the Miltons 
in certain parts dirtied and soiled with a crumb 


of right Gloucester blacked in the candle (my 
usual supper), or peradventure a stray ash of to- 
bacco wafted into the crevices, look to that pass- 
age more especially : depend upon it, it contains 
good matter. I have got your little Milton 
which, as it contains Salmasius — and I make a 
rule of never hearing but one side of the question 
(why should I distract myself?) — I shall return 
to you when I pick up the Latina opera. The 
first Defence is the greatest work among them, 
because it is uniformly great, and such as is befit- 
ting the very mouth of a great nation speaking 
for itself. But the second Defence, which is but 
a succession of splendid episodes slightly tied 
together, has one passage which if you have not 
read, I conjure you to lose no time, but read it ; 
it is his consolations in his blindness, which had 
been made a reproach to him. It begins whim- 
sically, with poetical flourishes about Tiresias 
and other blind worthies (which still are mainly 
interesting as displaying his singular mind, and in 
what degree poetry entered into his daily soul, 
not by fits and impulses, but engrained and in- 
nate) ; but the concluding page, i.e. of this pass- 
age (not of the Defensio) which you will easily 
find, divested of all brags and flourishes, gives so 
rational, so true an enumeration of his comforts, 
so human, that it cannot be read without the 
deepest interest. Take one touch of the religious 
part : " Et sane haud ultima Dei cura caeci — 
(we blind folks, I understand it not nos for ego) — 


sum us ; qui nos,quominusquicquam aliud praeter 
ipsum cernere valemus, eo clementius atque be- 
nignius respicere dignatur. Vae qui illudit nos, 
vae qui laedit, execratione publica devovendo ; 
nos ab injuriis hominum non modo incolumes, 
sed pene sacros divina lex reddidit, divinus favor : 
nee tam oculorum hebetudine quam coelestium alarum 
umbrd has nobis fecisse tenebras videtur, factas 
illustrare rursus interiore ac longe praestabiliore 
lumine haud raro solet. Hue refero, quod et 
amici officiosius nunc etiam quam solebant, co- 
lunt, observant, adsunt ; quod et nonnulli sunt, 
quibuscum Pyladeas atque Theseas alternare vo- 
ces verorum amicorum liceat. 

Vade gubernaculum mei pedis. 

E)a manum ministro amico. 

Da collo manum tuam, ductor autem viae ero tibi ego. 

[The following is a translation of the Latin passage by 
Robert Fellowes, which Mr. Lucas has included in his recent 
edition : 

And indeed, in my blindness, I enjoy in no inconsiderable degree the 
favour of the Deity ; who regards me with more tenderness and compas- 
sion in proportion as I am able to behold nothing but himself. Alas ! for 
him who insults me, who maligns and merits public execration! For the 
divine law not only shields me from injury, but almost renders me too 
sacred to attack ; not indeed so much from the privation of my sight, as 
from the overshadowing of those heavenly wings, which seem to have 
occasioned this obscurity ; and which, when occasioned, he is wont to illu- 
minate with an interior light, more precious and more pure. To this I 
ascribe the more tender assiduities of my friends, their soothing attentions, 
their kind visits, their reverential observances ; among whom there are some 
with whom I may interchange the Pyladean and Thesean dialogue of in- 
separable friends. 

Proceed, and be rudder of my feet ; 

Lend your hand to your devoted friend. 

Throw your arm around my neck, and 

I will conduct you on the way.] 


All this, and much more, is highly pleasing to 
know. But you may easily find it ; — and I don't 
know why I put down so many words about it, 
but for the pleasure of writing to you and the 
want of another topic. 

Yours ever, 

C. Lamb 

To-morrow I expect with anxiety S. T. C.'s 
letter to Mr. Fox. 


[November, 1802.] 

My dear Manning, — I must positively write, 
or I shall miss you at Toulouse. I sit here like 
a decayed minute hand (I lie; that does not sit), 
and being myself the exponent of no time, take 
no heed how the clocks about me are going. 
You possibly by this time may have explored all 
Italy, and toppled, unawares, into Etna, while you 
went too near those rotten-jawed, gap-toothed, 
old worn-out chops of hell, — while I am medi- 
tating a quiescent letter to the honest postmaster 
of Toulouse. But in case you should not have 
htzwfelo de se, this is to tell you that your letter 
was quite to my palate — in particular your just 
remarks upon Industry, damned Industry (though 
indeed you left me to explore the reason), were 
highly relishing. 

I 've often wished I liv'd in the Golden Age, 

when shepherds lay stretched upon flowers, and 
loused themselves at their leisure, — the genius 
there is in a man's natural idle face, that has not 
learned his multiplication table ! before doubt, and 
propositions, and corollaries, got into the world ! 
Now, as Joseph Cottle, a Bard of Nature, sings, 
going up Malvern Hills, — 

How steep ! how painful the ascent ! 
It needs the evidence of close deduction 
To know that ever I shall gain the top. 

You must know that Joe is lame, so that he had 
some reason for so singing. These two lines, I 
assure you, are taken totidem Uteris from a very 
popular poem. Joe is also an epic poet as well as 
a descriptive, and has written a tragedy, though 
both his drama and epopoiea are strictly descrip- 
tive, and chiefly of the Beauties of Nature, for Joe 
thinks man with all his passions and frailties not 
a proper subject of the drama. Joe's tragedy hath 
the following surpassing speech in it. Some king 
is told that his enemy has engaged twelve archers 
to come over in a boat from an enemy's country 
and waylay him; he thereupon pathetically ex- 
claims, — 

Twelve dost thou say ? Curse on those dozen villains ! 

Cottle read two or three acts out to us, very gravely 
on both sides, till he came to this heroic touch, 
— and then he asked what we laughed at ? I had 
no more muscles that day. A poet that chooses 
to read out his own verses has but a limited power 


over you. There is a bound where his authority 

Apropos, if you should go to Florence or to 
Rome, inquire what works are extant in gold, 
silver, bronze, or marble, of Benvenuto Cellini, 
a Florentine artist, whose Life doubtless, you 
have read ; or, if not, without controversy you 
must read : so hark ye, send for it immediately 
from Lane's circulating library. It is always put 
among the romances, very properly ; but you have 
read it, I suppose. In particular, inquire at Flor- 
ence for his colossal bronze statue (in the Grand 
Square or somewhere) of Perseus. You may read 
the story in Tooke's Pantheon. 

Nothing material has transpired in these parts. 
Coleridge has indited a violent philippic against 
Mr. Fox in the Morning Post, which is a com- 
pound of expressions of humility, gentlemen- 
ushering-in most arrogant charges. It will do 
Mr. Fox no real injury among those that know 

[The signature of this letter has been torn off.] 


[February 19, 1803.] 

My dear Manning, — The general scope of 
your letter afforded no indications of insanity, 
but some particular points raised a scruple. For 
God's sake don't think any more of" Independ- 
ent Tartary." What have you to do among such 


Ethiopians ? Is there no lineal descendant of 
Prester John ? 

Is the chair empty ? Is the sword unswayed ? 
— depend upon 't they '11 never make you their 
king, as long as any branch of that great stock 
is remaining. I tremble for your Christianity. 
They '11 certainly circumcise you. Read Sir John 
Maundevil's travels to cure you, or come over to 
England. There is a Tartar-man now exhibiting 
at Exeter Change. Come and talk with him, 
and hear what he says first. Indeed, he is no very 
favorable specimen of his countrymen ! But per- 
haps the best thing you can do, is to try to get the 
idea out of your head. For this purpose repeat 
to yourself every night, after you have said your 
prayers, the words Independent Tartary, Inde- 
pendent Tartary, two or three times, and associ- 
ate with them the idea of oblivion ('tis Hartley's 
method with obstinate memories), or say, Inde- 
pendent, Independent, have I not already got an 
Independence ? That was a clever way of the old 
puritans — pun-divinity. My dear friend, think 
what a sad pity it would be to bury such parts in 
heathen countries, among nasty, unconversable, 
horse-belching, Tartar people ! Some say, they 
are cannibals ; and then conceive a Tartar-fellow 
eating my friend, and adding the cool malignity of 
mustard and vinegar ! I am afraid 't is the read- 
ing of Chaucer has misled you ; his foolish stories 
about Cambuscan and the ring, and the horse 
of brass. Believe me, there 's no such things, 't is 


all the poet's invention; but if there were such 
darling things as old Chaucer sings, I would up 
behind you on the Horse of Brass, and frisk off 
for Prester John's Country. But these are all 
tales ; a Horse of Brass never flew, and a King's 
daughter never talked with Birds ! The Tartars, 
really, are a cold, insipid, smouchy set. You '11 be 
sadly moped (if you are not eaten) among them. 
Pray try and cure yourself. Take hellebore (the 
counsel is Horace's, 't was none of my thought 
originally). Shave yourself oftener. Eat no saf- 
fron, for saffron-eaters contract a terrible Tartar- 
like yellow. Pray, to avoid the fiend. Eat no- 
thing that gives the heartburn. Shave the upper 
lip. Go about like a European. Read no books 
of voyages (they 're nothing but lies) : only now 
and then a romance, to keep the fancy under. 
Above all, don't go to any sights of wild beasts. 
That has been your ruin. Accustom yourself to 
write familiar letters on common subjects to your 
friends in England, such as are of a moderate 
understanding. And think about common things 
more. There 's your friend Holcroft, now, has 
written a play. You used to be fond of the drama. 
Nobody went to see it. Notwithstanding this, 
with an audacity perfectly original, he faces the 
town down in a preface, that they did like it very 
much. I have heard a waspish punster say, "Sir, 
why did you not laugh at my jest?" But for 
a man boldly to face me out with, "Sir, I main- 
tain it, you did laugh at my jest," is a little too 


much. I have seen H. but once. He spoke of 
you to me in honorable terms. H. seems to me 
to be drearily dull. Godwin is dull, but then he 
has a dash of affectation, which smacks of the 
coxcomb, and your coxcombs are always agree- 

I supped last night with Rickman, and met a 
merry natural captain, who pleases himself vastly 
with once having made a pun at Otaheite in 
the O. language. 'T is the same man who said 
Shakspeare he liked, because he was so much of 
the gentleman. Rickman is a man "absolute in 
all numbers." I think I may one day bring you 
acquainted, if you do not go to Tartary first ; for 
you '11 never come back. Have a care, my dear 
friend, of anthropophagi ! their stomachs are 
always craving. But if you do go among [them] 
pray contrive to stink as soon as you can that 
you may [not] hang a [on] hand at the butcher's. 
'T is terrible to be weighed out for $d. a-pound. 
To sit at table (the reverse of fishes in Holland), 
not as a guest, but as a meat. 

God bless you : do come to England. Air and 
exercise may do great things. Talk with some 
minister. Why not your father ? 

God dispose all for the best. I have discharged 
my duty. 

Your sincere friend, 

C. Lamb 



March, 1803. 

Dear Manning, — I send you some verses I 
have made on the death of a young Quaker you 
may have heard me speak of as being in love 
with for some years while I lived at Pentonville, 
though I had never spoken to her in my life. 
She died about a month since. If you have in- 
terest with the Abbe de Lisle, you may get 'em 
translated : he has done as much for the Georgics. 


When maidens such as Hester die, 
Their place ye may not well supply, 
Though ye among a thousand try, 

Though ye among a thous; 
With vain endeavour. 

A month or more hath she been dead, 
Yet cannot I by force be led 
To think upon the wormy bed, 
And her together. 

A springy motion in her gait, 
A rising step, did indicate 
Of pride and joy no common rate, 
That flush'd her spirit. 

I know not by what name beside 
I shall it call : — if 't was not pride, 
It was a joy to that allied 
She did inherit. 

Her parents held the Quaker rule, 
Which doth the human feeling cool, 


But she was train'd in Nature's school, 
Nature had blest her. 

A waking eye, a prying mind, 
A heart that stirs, is hard to bind, 
A hawk's keen sight ye cannot blind, 
Ye could not Hester. 

My sprightly neighbour, gone before 
To that unknown and silent shore, 
Shall we not meet, as heretofore, 
Some summer morning, 

When from thy cheerful eyes a ray 
Hath struck a bliss upon the day, 
A bliss that would not go away, 
A sweet forewarning ? 


March 5, 1803. 

Dear Wordsworth, — Having a guinea of 
your sister's left in hand, after all your commis- 
sions, and as it does not seem likely that you 
will trouble us, as the phrase is, for some time 
to come, I send you a pound note, and with it 
the best things in the verse way I have lit upon 
for many a day. I believe they will be new to 
you. You know Cotton, who wrote a second 
part to Walton's Angler. A volume of his Mis- 
cellaneous Poems is scarce. Take what follows 
from a poem call'd Winter. I omit twenty verses, 
in which a storm is described, to hasten to the 
best, — 



Louder, and louder, still they ' come, 
Nile's Cataracts to these are dumb, 
The Cyclops to these Blades are still, 
Whose anvils shake the burning hill. 

Were all the stars-enlighten'd skies 
As full of ears, as sparkling eyes, 
This rattle in the crystal hall 
Would be enough to deaf them all. 

What monstrous Race is hither tost, 
Thus to alarm our British Coast, 
With outcries such as never yet 
War, or confusion, could beget ? 

Oh ! now I know them, let us home, 
Our mortal Enemy is come, 
Winter, and all his blust'ring train 
Have made a voyage o'er the main. 

With bleak, and with congealing winds, 
The earth in shining chain he binds; 
And still as he doth further pass, 
Quarries his way with liquid glass. 

Hark ! how the Blusterers of the Bear 
Their gibbous Cheeks in triumph bear, 
And with continued shouts do ring 
The entry of their palsied king ! 

The squadron, nearest to your eye, 

Is his forlorn of Infantry, 

Bowmen of unrelenting minds, 

Whose shafts are feather'd with the winds. 

1 The winds. 


Now you may see his vanguard rise 
Above the earthy precipice, 
Bold Horse, on bleakest mountains bred, 
With hail, instead of provend, fed. 

Their lances are the pointed locks, 
Torn from the brows of frozen rocks, 
Their shields are crystal as their swords, 
The steel the rusted rock affords. 

See, the Main Body now appears ! 
And hark ! th' iEolian Trumpeters. 
By their hoarse levets do declare, 
That the bold General rides there. 

And look where mantled up in white 
He sleds it, like the Muscovite. 
I know him by the port he bears, 
And his lifeguard of mountaineers. 

Their caps are furr'd with hoary frosts, 
The bravery their cold kingdom boasts ; 
Their spungy plads are milk-white frieze, 
Spun from the snowy mountain's fleece. 

Their partizans are fine carv'd glass, 
Fring'd with the morning's spangled grass; 
And pendant by their brawny thighs 
Hang cimetars of burnish'd ice. 

Fly, fly, the foe advances fast, 
Into our fortress let us haste, 
Where all the roarers of the north 
Can neither storm, nor starve, us forth. 

There under ground a magazine 
Of sovran juice is cellar'd in, 
Liquor that will the siege maintain, 
Should Phoebus ne'er return again. 


'T is that, that gives the poet rage, 
And thaws the jellied blood of age, 
Matures the young, restores the old, 
And makes the fainting coward bold. 

It lays the careful head to rest, 
Calms palpitations in the breast, 
Renders our lives' misfortunes sweet, 
And Venus frolic in the sheet. 

Then let the chill Scirocco blow, 
And gird us round with hills of snow, 
Or else go whistle to the shore, 
And make the hollow mountains roar. 

Whilst we together jovial sit, 
Careless, and crown'd with mirth and wit, 
Where tho' bleak winds confine us home, 
Our fancies thro' the world shall roam. 

We '11 think of all the friends we know, 
And drink to all, worth drinking to; 
When, having drunk all thine and mine, 
We rather shall want health than wine ! 

But, where friends fail us, we '11 supply 
Our friendships with our Charity. 
Men that remote in sorrows live 
Shall by our lusty bumpers thrive. 

We'll drink the wanting into wealth, 
And those that languish into health, 
Th' afflicted into joy, th' opprest 
Into security and rest. 

The worthy in disgrace shall find 
Favour return again more kind, 
And in restraint who stifled lie, 
Shall taste the air of liberty. 


The brave shall triumph in success, 
The lovers shall have mistresses, 
Poor unregarded virtue praise, 
And the neglected Poet bays. 

Thus shall our healths do others good, 
While we ourselves do all we would, 
For freed from envy and from care, 
What would we be but what we are ? 

'T is the plump Grape's immortal juice, 
That does this happiness produce, 
And will preserve us free together, 
Maugre mischance, or wind and weather. 

Then let old Winter take his course, 
And roar abroad till he be hoarse, 
And his lungs crack with ruthless ire, 
It shall but serve to blow our fire. 

Let him our little castle ply 
With all his loud artillery, 
Whilst sack and claret man the fort, 
His fury shall become our sport. 

Or let him Scotland take, and there 
Confine the plotting Presbyter; 
His zeal may freeze, whilst we kept warm 
With love and wine can know no harm. 

How could Burns miss the series of lines from 
[stanzas] 42 to 49 ? 

There is also a long poem from the Latin on 
the inconveniences of old age. I can't set down 
the whole, tho' right worthy, having dedicated 
the remainder of my sheet to something else. I 
just excerp here and there, to convince you, if 
after this you need it, that Cotton was a first- 

1 1 1 

rate. 'T is old Gallus speaks of himself, once the 
delight of the ladies and gallants of Rome, — 

The beauty of my shape and face are fled, 
And my revolted form bespeaks me dead, 
For fair and shining age has now put on 
A bloodless, funeral complexion. 
My skin 's dry'd up, my nerves unpliant are, 
And my poor limbs my nails plow up and tear. 
My chearful eyes now with a constant spring 
Of tears bewail their own sad suffering ; 
And those soft lids, that once secured my eye, 
Now rude and bristled grown, do drooping lie, 
Bolting mine eyes, as in a gloomy cave, 
Which there on furies and grim objects rave. 
'T would fright the full-blown gallant to behold 
The dying object of a man so old. 
And can you think that once a man he was 
Of human reason who no portion has. 
The letters split when I consult my book, 
And every leaf I turn does broader look. 
In darkness do I dream I see the light, 
When light is darkness to my perish'd sight. 

Is it not hard we may not from men's eyes 
Cloak and conceal Age's indecencies ? 
Unseeming spruceness th' old man discommends, 
And, in old men, only to live offends. 

How can I him a living man believe, 
Whom light, and air, by whom he panteth, grieve ? 
The gentle sleeps, which other mortals ease, 
Scarce in a winter's night my eyelids seize. 

The boys, and girls, deride me now forlorn, 
And but to call me Sir, now think it scorn, 
They jeer my count'nance and my feeble pace, 
And scoff that nodding head, that awful was. 


A song written by Cowper, which in style is 
much above his usual, and emulates in noble 
plainness any old ballad I have seen. Hayley has 
just published it, &c, with a Life. I did not 
think Cowper up to it, — 


Toll for the Brave ! 
The Brave, that are no more ! 

All sunk beneath the wave, 
Fast by their native shore. — 

Eight hundred of the Brave, 
Whose courage well was tried, 

Had made the vessel heel, 
And laid her on her side. 

A land breeze shook the shrouds, 

And she was overset ; 
Down went the Royal George, 

With all her sails complete. 

Toll for the Brave ! 

Brave Kempenfelt is gone : 
His last sea-fight is fought; 

His work of glory done. 

It was not in the battle, 

No tempest gave the shock; 
She sprang no fatal leak ; 

She ran upon no rock. 

His sword was in its sheath ; 

His fingers held the pen, 
When Kempenfelt went down, 

With twice four hundred men. 

IX 3 

Weigh the vessel up ! 

Once dreaded by our foes ! 
And mingle with the cup 

The tear that England owes. 

Her timbers yet are sound, 

And she may float again, 
Full charg'd with England's thunder, 

And plow the distant main. 

But Kempenfelt is gone, 

His victories are o'er ; 
And he, and his eight hundred, 

Shall plow the wave no more. 

In your obscure part of the world, which I 
take to be Ultima Tbule, I thought these verses 
out of Books which cannot be accessible would 
not be unwelcome. Having room, I will put in 
an Epitaph I writ for a real occasion, a year or 
two back, — 


Under this cold marble stone 
Sleep the sad remains of One, 
Who, when alive, by few or none 

Was lov'd, as lov'd she might have been, 
If she prosp'rous days had seen, 
Or had thriving been, I ween. 

Only this cold funeral stone 
Tells, she was belov'd by One, 
Who on the marble graves his moan. 

I conclude with love to your sister and Mrs. W. 
Yours affect'y, 

C. Lamb 

Mary sends love, &c. 

On consulting Mary, I find it will be foolish 
inserting the note as I intended, being so small, 
and as it is possible you may have to trouble us 
again ere long ; so it shall remain to be settled 
hereafter. However, the verses shan't be lost. 

iV. B. — All orders executed with fidelity and 
punctuality by C. & M. Lamb. 

\On the outside is written:] I beg to open this 
for a minute to add my remembrances to you all, 
and to assure you I shall ever be happy to hear 
from or see, much more to be useful to any of 
my old friends at Grasmere. J. Stoddart 

A lean paragraph of the Doctor's. 

C. Lamb 


March 20, 1803. 

Mary sends love from home. 

Dr C, — I do confess that I have not sent your 
books as I ought to be [have] done ; but you know 
how the human freewill is tethered, and that we 
perform promises to ourselves no better than to 
our friends. A watch is come for you. Do you 
want it soon, or shall I wait till some one travels 
your way? You, like me, I suppose, reckon the 
lapse of time from the waste thereof, as boys let 
a cock run to waste : too idle to stop it, and rather 
amused with seeing it dribble. 


Your poems have begun printing ; Longman 
sent to me to arrange them, the old and the new 
together. It seems you have left it to him. So I 
classed them, as nearly as I could, according to 
dates. First, after the Dedication (which must 
march first), and which I have transplanted from 
before the Preface (which stood like a dead wall 
of prose between), to be the first Poem — then 
comes The Pixies, and the things most juvenile ; 
then on To Cbatterton, &c. — on, lastly, to the 
Ode on the Departing Tear, and Musings, — which 
finish. Longman wanted the Ode first, but the 
arrangement I have made is precisely that marked 
out in the Dedication, following the order of time. 
I told L[ongman] I was sure that you would omit 
a good portion of the first edition. I instanced 
in several sonnets, &c. ; but that was not his 
plan, and, as you have done nothing in it, all I 
could do was to arrange 'em on the supposition 
that all were to be retained. A few I positively 
rejected ; such as that of The Thimble, and that 
of Flicker and Flicker's Wife, and that not in the 
manner of Spenser, which you yourself had stig- 
matised — andThe ManofRoss, — I doubt whether 
I should this last. It is not too late to save it. The 
first proof is only just come. I have been forced 
to call that Cupid's Elixir Kisses. It stands in 
your first volume as an Effusion, so that instead 
of prefixing The Kiss to that of One Kiss, dear 
Maid, &c, I have ventured to entitle it, To Sara. 
I am aware of the nicety of changing even so 


mere a trifle as a title to so short a piece, and sub- 
verting old associations ; but two called Kisses 
would have been absolutely ludicrous, and Effu- 
sion is no name, and these poems come close to- 
gether. I promise you not to alter one word in 
any poem whatever, but to take your last text, 
where two are. Can you send any wishes about 
the book ? Longman, I think, should have settled 
with you ; but it seems you have left it to him. 
Write as soon as you possibly can ; for, without 
making myself responsible, I feel myself in some 
sort accessory to the selection which I am to proof- 
correct. But I decidedly said to Biggs that I was 
sure you would omit more. Those I have pos- 
itively rubbed off I can swear to individually (ex- 
cept The Man of Ross, which is too familiar in 
Pope), but no others — you have your cue. For 
my part, I had rather all the Juvenilia were kept 
— memoriae causa.. 

Rob[ert] Lloyd has written me a masterly let- 
ter, containing a character of his father. See how 
different from Charles he views the old man! 
Literatim : " My father smokes, repeats Homer 
in Greek, and Virgil, and is learning, when from 
business, with all the vigour of a young man, 
Italian. He is really a wonderful man. He mixes 
public and private business, the intricacies of dis- 
cording life with his religion and devotion. No 
one more rationally enjoys the romantic scenes 
of nature, and the chit-chat and little vagaries 
of his children ; and, though surrounded with an 


ocean of affairs, the very neatness of his most 
obscure cupboard in the house passes not un- 
noticed. I never knew any one view with such 
clearness, nor so well satisfied with things as they 
are, and make such allowance for things which 
must appear perfect Syriac to him." By the last 
he means the Lloydisms of the younger branches. 
His portrait of Charles (exact as far as he has had 
opportunities of noting him) is most exquisite: 
" Charles is become steady as a church, and as 
straitforward as a Roman road. It would distract 
him to mention anything that was not as plain as 
sense. He seems to have run the whole scenery 
of life, and now rests as the formal precisian 
of non-existence." Here is genius I think, and 
't is seldom a young man, a Lloyd, looks at a 
father (so differing) with such good nature while 
he is alive. Write — 
I am in post-haste. 

Love, &c, to Sara, P. and H. 


April 13, 1803. 

My dear Coleridge, — Things have gone on 
better with me since you left me. I expect to 
have my old housekeeper home again in a week or 
two. She has mended most rapidly. My health 
too has been better since you took away that 
Montero cap. I have left off cayenned eggs and 
such bolsters to discomfort. There was death in 


that cap. I mischievously wished that by some 
inauspicious jolt the whole contents might be 
shaken, and the coach set on fire ; for you said 
they had that property. How the old gentleman, 
who joined you at Grantham, would have clapt 
his hands to his knees, and not knowing but it 
was an immediate visitation of God that burnt 
him, how pious it would have made him ! — him, 
I mean, that brought the influenza with him, and 
only took places for one — a damned old sinner; 
he must have known what he had got with him ! 
However, I wish the cap no harm for the sake 
of the head it fits, and could be content to see 
it disfigure my healthy sideboard again. [Three 
lines obliterated by author.] 

What do you think of smoking ? I want your 
sober, average, noon opinion of it. I generally am 
eating my dinner about the time I should deter- 
mine it. [Three more lines obliterated.] 

Morning is a girl, and can't smoke — she 's no 
evidence one way or other; and Night is so evi- 
dently bought over, that he can't be a very upright 
judge. Maybe the truth is, that one pipe is whole- 
some ; two pipes toothsome ; three pipes noisome ; 
four pipes fulsome ; five pipes quarrelsome, and 
that's the sum on 't. But that is deciding rather 
upon rhyme than reason. After all, our instincts 
may be best. Wine, I am sure, good, mellow, 
generous, Port, can hurt nobody, unless they take 
it to excess, which they may easily avoid if they 
observe the rules of temperance. 


Bless you, old Sophist, who next to Human 
Nature taught me all the corruption I was capable 
of knowing ! And bless your Montero Cap, and 
your trail (which shall come after you whenever 
you appoint), and your wife and children — Pipos 

When shall we two smoke again ? Last night 
I had been in a sad quandary of spirits, in what 
they call the evening; but a pipe, and some 
generous Port, and King Lear (being alone), had 
[their] effects as its remonstrance. I went to 
bed pot-valiant. By the way, may not the Ogles 
of Somersetshire be remotely descended from 
King Lear ? 

Love to Sarah, and ask her what gown she 
means by saying that Mary has got of hers. I 
know of none but what went with Miss Words- 
worth's things to Wordsworth, and was paid for 
out of their money. I allude to a part which 
I may have read imperfectly in a letter of hers 
to you. 

C. L. 


May i, 1803. 

My dear Manning, — Although something of 
the latest, and after two months' waiting, your 
letter was highly gratifying. Some parts want a 

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


little explication ; for example, " the god-like face 
of the first consul." What god does he most resem- 
ble, Mars, Bacchus, or Apollo? or the god Serapis, 
who, flying (as Egyptian chronicles deliver) from 
the fury of the Dog Anubis (the hieroglyph of an 
English mastiff), lighted on Monomotapa (or the 
Land of Apes), by some thought to be Old France, 
and there set up a tyranny, &c. Our London 
prints of him represent him gloomy and sulky, 
like an angry Jupiter. I hear that he is very small, 
even less than me, who am " less than the least 
of the Apostles," at least than they are painted in 
the Vatican. I envy you your access to this Great 
Man, much more than your seances and conver- 
saziones, which I have a shrewd suspicion must be 
something dull. 

What you assert concerning the actors of Paris, 
that they exceed our comedians, " bad as ours 
are," is impossible. In one sense it may be true, 
that their fine gentlemen, in what is called gen- 
teel comedy, may possibly be more brisk and 
degage than Mister Caulfield or Mr. Whitfield ; 
but have any of 'em the power to move laughter 
in excess? or can a Frenchman laugh ? Can they 
batter at your judicious ribs till they shake, no- 
thing loth to be so shaken ? This is John Bull's 
criterion, and it shall be mine. You are Frenchi- 
fied. Both your tastes and morals are corrupt and 
perverted. Bye-and-bye you will come to assert, 
that Bonaparte is as great a general as the old 
Duke of Cumberland, and deny that one Eng- 


lishman can beat three Frenchmen. Read Henry 
the Fifth to restore your orthodoxy. 

All things continue at a stay-still in London. 
I cannot repay your new novelties with my stale 
reminiscences. Like the prodigal, I have spent 
my patrimony, and feed upon the superannuated 
chaff and dry husks of repentance ; yet sometimes 
I remember with pleasure the hounds and horses, 
which I kept in the days of my prodigality. I 
find nothing new, nor anything that has so much 
of the gloss and dazzle of novelty, as may rebound 
in narrative, and cast a reflective glimmer across 
the channel. Something I will say about people 
that you and I know. Fenwick is still in debt, 
and the Professor has not done making love to 
his new spouse. I think he never looks in [to] an 
almanac, or he would have found by the calen- 
dar that the Honeymoon was extinct a moon 
ago. Lloyd has written to me, and names you. 
I think a letter from Maison Magnan (is that a 
Person or a Thing ?) would gratify him. G. Dyer 
is in love with an idiot, who loves a doctor, who 
is incapable of loving anything but himself, — a 
puzzling circle of perverse providences ! a maze 
as un-get-out-again-able as the house which Jack 

Southey is Secretary] to the Chanc[ellor] of 
the Irish Exchequer ; ^400 a year. Stoddart is 
turned Doctor of Civil Law, and dwells in Doc- 
tors' Commons. I fear his commons are short, as 
they say. Did I send you an epitaph I scribbled 


upon a poor girl [Mary Druit, of Wimborne, a 
friend of Rickman's] who died at nineteen ? — a 
good girl, and a pretty girl, and a clever girl, but 
strangely neglected by all her friends and kin. 

Under this cold marble stone 

Sleep the sad remains of one 

Who, when alive, by few or none 

Was loved, as loved she might have been, 

If she prosp'rous days had seen, 

Or had thriving been, I ween. 

Only this cold funeral stone 

Tells she was beloved by one, 

Who on the marble graves his moan. 

Brief, and pretty, and tender, is 't not ? I send 
you this, being the only piece of poetry I have 
done, since the muses all went with T [nomas] 
M[anning] to Paris. I have neither stuff in my 
brain, nor paper in my draw[er], to write you a 
longer letter. Liquor and company and wicked 
tobacco o'nights, have quite dispericraniated me, 
as one may say ; but you who spiritualise upon 
Champagne may continue to write long long 
letters, and stuff 'em with amusement to the end. 
Too long they cannot be, any more than a codicil 
to a will which leaves me sundry parks and man- 
ors not specified in the deed. But don't be two 
months before you write again. These from merry 
old England, on the day of her valiant patron St. 

C. Lamb 



Saturday, May 27, 1803. 

My dear Coleridge, — The date of my last 
was one day prior to the receipt of your letter, 
full of foul omens. I explain, lest you should 
have thought mine too light a reply to such sad 
matter. I seriously hope by this time you have 
given up all thoughts of journeying to the green 
islands of the Blest — (voyages in time of war 
are very precarious) — or at least, that you will 
take them in your way to the Azores. Pray be 
careful of this letter till it has done its duty, for 
it is to inform you that I have booked off your 
watch (laid in cotton like an untimely fruit), and 
with it Condillac and all other books of yours 
which were left here. These set out on Monday 
next, the 29th May, by Kendal waggon, from 
White Horse, Cripplegate. You will make seas- 
onable inquiries, for a watch may n't come your 
way again in a hurry. I have been repeatedly 
after Tobin, and now hear that he is in the coun- 
try, not to return till middle of June. I will take 
care and see him with the earliest. But cannot 
you write pathetically to htm, enforcing a speedy 
mission of your books for literary purposes ? He 
is too good a retainer to Literature, to let her 
interests suffer thro' his default. And why, in the 
name of Beelzebub, are your books to travel from 
Barnard's Inn to the Temple, and then circuit- 
ously to Cripplegate, when their business is to 


take a short cut down Holborn Hill, up Snow 
ditto, on to Wood Street, &c. ? The former mode 
seems a sad superstitious subdivision of labour. 
Well ! The Man of Ross is to stand ; Longman 
begs for it ; the printer stands with a wet sheet 
in one hand and a useless Pica in the other, in 
tears pleading for it ; I relent. Besides, it was a 
Salutation poem, and has the mark of the beast 
"Tobacco" upon it. Thus much I have done; 
I have swept off the lines about widows and or- 
phans in second edition, which (if you remember) 
you most awkwardly and illogically caused to be 
inserted between two Ifs, to the great breach and 
disunion of said Ifs, which now meet again (as 
in first edition), like two clever lawyers arguing 
a case. Another reason for subtracting the pathos 
was, that The Man of Ross is too familiar to need 
telling what he did, and especially in worse lines 
than Pope told it ; and it now stands simply as 
Refections at an Inn about a known Character, and 
sucking an old story into an accommodation with 
present feelings. Here is no breaking spears with 
Pope, but a new, independent, and really a very 
pretty poem. In fact 't is as I used to admire 
it in the first volume and I have even dared to 
restore, — 

If 'neath this roof thy wine-chear'd moments pass, 


Beneath this roof if thy chear'd moments pass. 
" Chear'd" is a sad general word ; "wine-chear'd" 


I 'm sure you 'd give me, if I had a speaking- 
trumpet to sound to you 300 miles. But I am 
your fac-totum, and that (save in this instance, 
which is a single case, and I can't get at you) 
shall be next to afac-nihil — at most, a facsimile. 
I have ordered Imitation of Spenc\s]er to be re- 
stored on Wordsworth's authority ; and now, all 
that you will miss will be Flicker and Flicker s 
Wife, The Thimble, Breathe, dear harmonist, and, I 
believe, The Child that was fed with Manna. An- 
other vol[ume] will clear off all your Anthologic 
Morning -Postian Epistolary Miscellanies; but 
pray don't put Christabel therein ; don't let that 
sweet maid come forth attended with Lady Hol- 
land's mob at her heels. Let there be a separate 
volume of Tales, Choice Tales, Ancient Mariners, 
&c. C. L. 

A word of your health will be richly accept- 


July 9, 1803. 

My dear Miss Wordsworth, — We rejoice with 
exceeding great joy to hear the delightful tidings 
you were so very kind to remember to send us. 
I hope your dear sister is perfectly well, and 
makes an excellent nurse. Are you not now the 
happiest family in the world ? 


I have been in better health and spirits this 
week past than since my last illness. I continued 
so long so very weak and dejected I began to fear 
I should never be at all comfortable again. I 
strive against low spirits all I can, but it is a very 
hard thing to get the better of. 

I am very uneasy about poor Coleridge, his last 
letters are very melancholy ones. Remember me 
affectionately to him and Sara. I hope you often 
see him. 

Southey is in town. He seems as proud of his 
little girl as I suppose your brother is of his boy ; 
he says his home is now quite a different place 
to what it used to be. I was glad to hear him 
say this — it used to look rather chearless. 

We went last week with Southey and Rick- 
man and his sister to Sadlers Wells, the lowest 
and most London-like of all our London amuse- 
ments — the entertainments were Goody Two 
Shoes, yack the Giant Killer, and Mary of Butter- 
mere ! Poor Mary was very happily married at 
the end of the piece, to a sailor her former sweet- 
heart. We had a prodigious fine view of her 
father's house in the vale of Buttermere — moun- 
tains very like large haycocks, and a lake like 
nothing at all. If you had been with us, would 
you have laughed the whole time like Charles 
and Miss Rickman or gone to sleep as Southey 
and Rickman did? 

Stoddart is in expectation of going soon to 
Malta as Judge Advocate; it is likely to be a 


profitable situation, fifteen hundred a year or 
more. If he goes he takes with him his sister, 
and, as I hear from her as a very great secret, a 
wife ; you must not mention this because if he 
stays in England he may not be rich enough to 
marry for some years. I do not know why I 
should trouble you with a secret which it seems 
I am unable to keep myself and which is of no 
importance to you to hear ; if he succeeds in this 
appointment he will be in a great bustle, for he 
must set out to Malta in a month. In the mean 
time he must go to Scotland to marry and fetch 
his wife, and it is a match against her parents' 
consent, and they as yet know nothing of the 
Malta expedition ; so that he expects many diffi- 
culties, but the young lady and he are determined 
to conquer them. He then must go to Salisbury 
to take leave of his father and mother, who I 
pity very much, for they are old people and there- 
fore are not very likely ever to see their children 

Charles is very well and very good — I mean 
very sober, but he is very good in every sense of 
the word, for he has been very kind and patient 
with me and I have been a sad trouble to him 
lately. He has shut out all his friends because he 
thought company hurt me, and done everything 
in his power to comfort and amuse me. We are 
to go out of town soon for a few weeks, when I 
hope I shall get quite stout and lively. 

You saw Fenwick when you was with us — 

perhaps you remember his wife and children 
were with his brother, a tradesman at Penzance. 
He (the brother), who was supposed to be in 
a great way of business, has become a bankrupt ; 
they are now at Penzance without a home and 
without money ; and poor Fenwick, who has been 
Editor of a country newspaper lately, is likely 
soon to be quite out of employ ; I am distressed 
for them, for I have a great affection for Mrs. 

How pleasant your little house and orchard 
must be now. I almost wish I had never seen it. 
I am always wishing to be with you. I could sit 
upon that little bench in idleness day long. When 
you have a leisure hour, a letter from [you], kind 
friend, will give me the greatest pleasure. 

We have money of yours and I want you to 
send me some commission to lay it out. Are you 
not in want of anything? I believe when we 
go out of town it will be to Margate — I love 
the seaside and expect much benefit from it, but 
your mountain scenery has spoiled us. We shall 
find the flat country of the Isle of Thanet very 

Charles joins me in love to your brother and 
sister and the little John. I hope you are building 
more rooms. Charles said I was so long answer- 
ing your letter Mrs. Wordsworth would have 
another little one before you received it. Our love 
and compliments to our kind Molly, I hope she 
grows younger and happier every day. When, 


and where, shall I ever see you again ? Not I 
fear for a very long time, you are too happy ever 
to wish to come to London. When you write 
tell me how poor Mrs. Clarkson does. 
God bless you and yours. 

I am your affectionate friend, 

M. Lamb 


Saturday Morning, July 1 6, 1803. 

Dear Rickman, — I enclose you a wonder, a 
letter from the shades. A dead body wants to 
return, and be enrolled inter vivos. "T is a genitle 
ghost, and in this Galvanic age it may have a 

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

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

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

Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 



July 27, 1803. 

[The earlier part of this letter is by Captain 
Burney, and is in his handwriting.] 

Dear Rickman, — We are at Cowes the whole 
flock, Sheep and Lambs — and in good pasturage 
— for notwithstanding that I joined, or rather 
acquiesced, in your dispraise of Cowes, in a dry 
summer like this it is a very pleasant place. We 
were much harassed by hot travelling and un- 
certainties till we fixed at this haven ; and now 
I could feel myself thoroughly well disposed to 
indulge in a week of compleat idleness, if my 
senses were not invaded by the din of prepara- 
tion, and the account which every day's paper 
brings of the universal bustle that prevails every- 

We purpose, however, to stay here one week 
longer reckoning from this date, and then to re- 
turn to the defence of the Capital after so well 
having guarded the sea coast. We have visited 
Newport and Carisbrook Castle where we saw a 
deep well and a cross old woman. We went by 
water, and friend Lamb (to give a specimen of his 
seamanship) very ingeniously and unconsciously 
cast loose the fastenings of the mast, so that mast, 
sprit, sails, and all the rest tumbled overboard 
with a crash, and not less to his surprise than to 
the surprise of every other person in the boat. I 
doubt whether any of us will muster up sufficient 

1 3 I 

activity to go to the south part of the island. We 
do everything that is idle, such as reading books 
from a circulating library, sauntering, hunting 
little crabs among the rocks, reading churchyard 
poetry which is as bad at Cowes as any church- 
yard in the kingdom can produce. Miss Lamb 
is the only person among us who is not idle. All 
the cares she takes into her keeping. At night, 
however, we do a little business in the smoking 
line, and Martin endeavours to make conun- 
drums, but alas ! he is not equal to the achieve- 
ment. Such is the edifying life we lead at the Isle 
of Wight. Let us know how you take care of the 
capital. An old sea saying is, " Give a sprat to 
catch a mackerel," so pray send us your mackerel 
and accept this sprat. 

[Lamb's part begins herel\ 

I testify that this is a pretty good outline of our 
doings, but the filling it up requires the hand of 
a master. A volume might be made of Martin's 
blunders which parental tenderness omits. Such 
as his letting the packet-boat's boat go without 
him from the quay at Southampton, while he 
stood hiatusing, smit with the love of a Naiad ; 
his tumbling back over a stone twice the height 
of himself, and daubing himself; his getting up 
to batbe at six o'clock, and forgetting it, and in 
consequence staying in his room in a process of 
annihilation, &c, &c, then the time expended in 
Martin being scolded would serve as great a sinner 


as Judas to repent in. In short nothing in this 
house goes right till after supper, then a gentle 
circumambience of the weed serves to shut out 
Isle of Wight impertinent scenery and brings us 
back in fancy to Mutton Lane and the romantic 
alleys ever green of nether-Holborn, green that 
owes nothing to grass, but the simple effect of 
cabbage-water, tripe-cauls, &c. The fact of my 
setting the mast upsidedown is partly true. In- 
deed it was never properly nailed down, or the 
accident could not have happened. 

Capt. Burney does nothing but teach his chil- 
dren bad habits. He surfeits them with cherries 
and black currants till they can eat no supper, and 
then claps down the fruit expended to the com- 
mon stock, and deducts what the surfeit saves 
from his part. There 's a little girl he 's brought 
with him that has cost I don't know what in cod- 
lings. No ordinary orchard would be a jointure 
for her. 

To add to our difficulties Martin has brought 
down a Terence, which he renders out loud into 
canine Latin at breakfast and other meals, till 
the eyes of the infatuated parent let slip water 
for joy, and the ears of everybody beside shed 
their wax for being tired. More I could add, 
but it is unsafe. 

From the White Isle (date unknown). 

C. L. 

J 33 


September 21, 1803. 

My dear Sarah, — I returned home from my 
visit yesterday, and was much pleased to find your 
letter ; for I have been very anxious to hear how 
you are going on. I could hardly help expect- 
ing to see you when I came in ; yet, though I 
should have rejoiced to have seen your merry 
face again, I believe it was better as it was — 
upon the whole, and, all things considered, it 
is certainly better you should go to Malta. The 
terms you are upon with your Lover does (as 
you say it will) appear wondrous strange to me ; 
however, as I cannot enter into your feelings, I 
certainly can have nothing to say to it, only that 
I sincerely wish you happy in your own way, 
however odd that way may appear to me to be. 
I would begin now to advise you to drop all cor- 
respondence with William ; but, as I said before, 
as I cannot enter into your feelings and views of 
things, your ways not being my ways, why should 
I tell you what I would do in your situation ? 
So, child, take thy own ways, and God prosper 
thee in them ! 

One thing my advising spirit must say — use 
as little Secrecy as possible ; and, as much as pos- 
sible, make a friend of your sister-in-law — you 
know I was not struck with her at first sight ; but, 
upon your account, I have watched and marked 


her very attentively ; and, while she was eating 
a bit of cold mutton in our kitchen, we had a 
serious conversation. From the frankness of her 
manner, I am convinced she is a person I could 
make a friend of; why should not you ? We 
talked freely about you : she seems to have a just 
notion of your character, and will be fond of 
you, if you will let her. 

My father had a sister lived with us — of 
course, lived with my Mother, her sister-in-law ; 
they were, in their different ways, the best crea- 
tures in the world — but they set out wrong at 
first. They made each other miserable for full 
twenty years of their lives — my Mother was a 
perfect gentlewoman, my Aunty as unlike a gen- 
tlewoman as you can possibly imagine a good old 
woman to be; so that my dear Mother (who, 
though you do not know it, is always in my poor 
head and heart) used to distress and weary her 
with incessant and unceasing attention and po- 
liteness, to gain her affection. The old woman 
could not return this in kind, and did not know 
what to make of it — thought it all deceit, and 
used to hate my Mother with a bitter hatred; 
which, of course, was soon returned with inter- 
est. A little frankness, and looking into each 
other's characters at first, would have spared all 
this, and they would have lived, as they died, 
fond of each other for the last few years of their 
life. When we grew up, and harmonised them 
a little, they sincerely loved each other. 


My Aunt and my Mother were wholly unlike 
you and your sister, yet in some degree theirs is 
the secret history I believe of all sisters-in-law — 
and you will smile when I tell you I think my- 
self the only woman in the world who could live 
with a brother's wife, and make a real friend of 
her, partly from early observation of the unhappy 
example I have just given you, and partly from 
a knack I know I have of looking into people's 
real characters, and never expecting them to act 
out of it — never expecting another to do as I 
would in the same case. When you leave your 
Mother, and say, if you never shall see her again, 
you shall feel no remorse, and when you make 
a Jewish bargain with your Lover, all this gives 
me no offence, because it is your nature, and your 
temper, and I do not expect or want you to be 
otherwise than you are. I love you for the good 
that is in you, and look for no change. 

But, certainly, you ought to struggle with 
the evil that does most easily beset you — a total 
want of politeness in behaviour, I would say mod- 
esty of behaviour, but that I should not convey 
to you my idea of the word modesty ; for I cer- 
tainly do not mean that you want real modesty; 
and what is usually called false, or mock, mod- 
esty is [a quality] I certainly do not wish you to 
possess ; yet I trust you know what I mean well 

Secrecy, though you appear all frankness, is 
certainly a grand failing of yours ; it is likewise 


your brother's, and, therefore, a family failing — 
by secrecy, I mean you both want the habit of 
telling each other at the moment everything that 
happens — where you go, — and what you do, 
— the free communication of letters and opin- 
ions just as they arrive, as Charles and I do, — 
and which is, after all, the only groundwork of 
friendship. Your brother, I will answer for [it,] 
will never tell his wife or his sister all that [is in] 
his mind — he will receive letters, and not [men- 
tion it]. This is a fault Mrs. Stoddart can never 
[tell him of] ; but she can, and will, feel it : 
though, [on] the whole, and in every other re- 
spect, she is [very] happy with him. Begin, for 
God's sake, at the first, and tell her everything 
that passes. At first she may hear you with in- 
difference ; but in time this will gain her affec- 
tion and confidence ; show her all your letters 
(no matter if she does not show hers) — it is a 
pleasant thing for a friend to put into one's hand 
a letter just fresh from the post. I would even 
say, begin with showing her this, but that it 
is written freely and loosely, and some apology 
ought to be made for it — which I know not 
how to make, for I must write freely or not at 

If you do this, she will tell your brother, you 
will say ; and what then, quotha ? It will beget 
a freer communication amongst you, which is a 
thing devoutly to be wished — 

God bless you, and grant you may preserve 

J 37 

your integrity, and remain unmarried and pen- 
niless, and make William a good and a happy 

Your affectionate friend, 

M. Lamb 

Charles is very unwell, and my head aches. 
He sends his love : mine, with my best wishes, 
to your brother and sister. 

I hope I shall get another letter from you. 


[Sarah Stoddart was the sister of Dr. John Stoddart, who 
had just been appointed the King's and the Admiralty's Ad- 
vocate at Malta, whither Miss Stoddart followed him. Her 
lover of that moment was a Mr. Turner, and William was 
an earlier lover still. Her sister-in-law was Mrs. John Stod- 
dart, rile Isabella Moncrieff, whom her brother had only just 

" My Mother." This is the only reference to her mother 
in any of Mary Lamb's letters. The sister was Sarah Lamb, 
usually known as Aunt Hetty. — E. V. Lucas.] 


November 8, 1803. 

My dear Sir, — I have been sitting down for 
three or four days successively to the review, 
which I so much wished to do well and to your 
satisfaction. But I can produce nothing but 
absolute flatness and nonsense. My health and 
spirits are so bad, and my nerves so irritable, that 
I am sure, if I persist, I shall tease myself into 

a fever. You do not know how sore and weak a 
brain I have, or you would allow for many things 
in me which you set down for whims. I solemnly 
assure you that I never more wished to prove to 
you the value which I have for you than at this 
moment ; but although in so seemingly trifling 
a service I cannot get through with it, I pray 
you to impute it to this one sole cause, ill health. 
I hope I am above subterfuge, and that you will 
do me this justice to think so. 

You will give me great satisfaction by sealing 
my pardon and oblivion in a line or two, before 
I come to see you, or I shall be ashamed to come. 
Yours, with great truth, 

C. Lamb 


November 10, 1803. 

Dear Godwin, — You never made a more un- 
lucky and perverse mistake than to suppose that 
the reason of my not writing that cursed thing 
was to be found in your book. I assure you most 
sincerely that I have been greatly delighted with 
Chaucer. I may be wrong, but I think there is 
one considerable error runs through it, which 
is a conjecturing spirit, a fondness for filling out 
the picture by supposing what Chaucer did and 
how he felt, where the materials are scanty. So 
far from meaning to withhold from you (out 
of mistaken tenderness) this opinion of mine, I 


plainly told Mrs. Godwin that I did find a fault, 
which I should reserve naming until I should see 
you and talk it over. This she may very well re- 
member, and also that I declined naming this fault 
until she drew it from me by asking me if there 
was not too much fancy in the work. I then 
confessed generally what I felt, but refused to go 
into particulars until I had seen you. I am never 
very fond of saying things before third persons, 
because in the relation (such is human nature) 
something is sure to be dropped. 

If Mrs. Godwin has been the cause of your 
misconstruction, I am very angry, tell her ; yet it 
is not an anger unto death. I remember also tell- 
ing Mrs. G. (which she may have dropt) that I 
was by turns considerably more delighted than 
I expected. But I wished to reserve all this until I 
saw you. I even had conceived an expression to 
meet you with, which was thanking you for some 
of the most exquisite pieces of criticism I had 
ever read in my life. In particular, I should have 
brought forward that on Troilus and Cressida and 
Shakespear which, it is little to say, delighted 
me, and instructed me (if not absolutely instructed 
me, yet put into full-grown sense many conceptions 
which had arisen in me before in my most dis- 
criminating moods). All these things I was pre- 
paring to say, and bottling them up till I came, 
thinking to please my friend and host, the author ! 
when lo ! this deadly blight intervened. 

I certainly ought to make great allowances for 

your misunderstanding me. You, by long habits 
of composition and a greater command gained 
over your own powers, cannot conceive of the 
desultory and uncertain way in which I (an au- 
thor by fits) sometimes cannot put the thoughts 
of a common letter into sane prose. Any work 
which I take upon myself as an engagement will 
act upon me to torment, e. g., when I have un- 
dertaken, as three or four times I have, a school- 
boy copy of verses for Merchant Taylors' boys, 
at a guinea a copy, I have fretted over them, in 
perfect inability to do them, and have made my 
sister wretched with my wretchedness for a week 
together. The same, till by habit I have ac- 
quired a mechanical command, I have felt in 
making paragraphs. 

As to reviewing, in particular, my head is so 
whimsical a head, that I cannot, after reading 
another man's book, let it have been never so 
pleasing, give any account of it in any methodi- 
cal way. I cannot follow his train. Something 
like this you must have perceived of me in con- 
versation. Ten thousand times I have confessed 
to you, talking of my talents, my utter inability 
to remember in any comprehensive way what I 
read. I can vehemently applaud, or perversely 
stickle, at parts; but I cannot grasp at a whole. 
This infirmity (which is nothing to brag of) may 
be seen in my two little compositions, the tale 
and my play, in both which no reader, however 
partial, can find any story. I wrote such stuff 


about Chaucer, and got into such digressions, 
quite irreducible into i l / s column of a paper, 
that I was perfectly ashamed to show it you. 
However, it is become a serious matter that I 
should convince you I neither slunk from the 
task through a wilful deserting neglect, or through 
any (most imaginary on your part) distaste of 
Chaucer ; and I will try my hand again, I hope 
with better luck. 

My health is bad and my time taken up, but 
all I can spare between this and Sunday shall be 
employed for you, since you desire it ; and if I 
bring you a crude, wretched paper on Sunday, 
you must burn it, and forgive me ; if it proves 
anything better than I predict, may it be a peace- 
offering of sweet incense between us. 

C. Lamb 


February 14, 1804. 

Dear Sir, — I am sorry we have not been able 
to hear of lodgings to suit young F., but we will 
not desist in the inquiry. In a day or two some- 
thing may turn up. Boarding houses are common 
enough, but to find a family where he would be 
safe from impositions within and impositions 
without is not so easy. 

I take this opportunity of thanking you for 
your kind attentions to the lad I took the liberty 
of recommending. His mother was disposed to 


have taken in young F., but could not possibly 
make room. 

Your obliged, &c, 

C. Lamb 


March 10, 1804. 

Dr C, — I blunder'd open this letter, its 
weight making me conjecture it held an inclo- 
sure ; but finding it poetry (which is no man's 
ground, but waste and common) I perused it. Do 
you remember that you are to come to us to- 
night ? C. L. 


[This is written on the back of a paper addressed to Mr. 
Lamb, India House, containing a long extract from Madoc in 
Southey's hand.] 


[March, 1804.] 

My dearest Sarah, — I will just write a few 
hasty lines to say Coleridge is setting off sooner 
than we expected ; and I every moment expect 
him to call in one of his great hurrys for this. 
Charles intended to write by him, but has 
not : most likely he will send a letter after him 
to Portsmouth : if he does, you will certainly 
hear from him soon. We rejoiced with exceed- 


ing joy to hear of your safe arrival : I hope your 
brother will return home in a few years a very 
rich man. Seventy pounds in one fortnight is a 
pretty beginning — 

I envy your brother the pleasure of seeing 
Coleridge drop in unexpectedly upon him ; we 
talk — but it is but wild and idle talk — of fol- 
lowing him : he is to get my brother some little 
snug place of a thousand a year, and we are to 
leave all, and come and live among ye. What a 
pretty dream ! 

Coleridge is very ill. I dread the thoughts of 
his long voyage — write as soon as he arrives, 
whether he does or not, and tell me how he is. 

Jamaica bodies . . . [words illegible] . 

He has got letters of recommendation to Gov- 
ernor Ball, and God knows who ; and he will 
talk and talk, and be universally admired. But 
I wish to write for him a letter of recommendation 
to Mrs. Stoddart, and to yourself, to take upon 
ye, on his first arrival, to be kind affectionate 
nurses ; and mind, now, that you perform this 
duty faithfully, and write me a good account of 
yourself. Behave to him as you would to me, or 
to Charles, if we came sick and unhappy to 

I have no news to send you ; Coleridge will 
tell you how we are going on. Charles has lost 
the newspaper ; but what we dreaded as an evil 
has proved a great blessing, for we have both 
strangely recovered our health and spirits since 


this has happened ; and I hope, when I write next, 
I shall be able to tell you Charles has begun 
something which will produce a little money ; 
for it is not well to be very poor — which we cer- 
tainly are at this present writing. 

I sit writing here, and thinking almost you will 
see it to-morrow ; and what a long, long time it 
will be ere you receive this — When I saw your 
letter, I fancy' d you were even just then in the 
first bustle of a new reception, every moment 
seeing new faces, and staring at new objects, when, 
at that time, everything had become familiar to 
you ; and the strangers, your new dancing part- 
ners, had perhaps become gossiping fireside friends. 
You tell me of your gay, splendid doings ; tell me, 
likewise, what manner of home-life you lead — 
Is a quiet evening in a Maltese drawing room as 
pleasant as those we have passed in Mitre Court 
and Bell yard ? — Tell me all about it, everything 
pleasant, and everything unpleasant, that befalls 

I want you to say a great deal about yourself. 
Are you happy ? and do you not repent going out f I 
wish I could see you for one hour only. 

Remember me affectionately to your sister and 
brother ; and tell me, when you write, if Mrs. 
Stoddart likes Malta, and how the climate agrees 
with her and with thee. 

We heard you were taken prisoners, and for 
several days believed the tale. 

How did the pearls, and the fine court finery, 


bear the fatigues of the voyage, and how often 
have they been worn and admired ? 

Rickman wants to know if you are going to be 
married yet — satisfy him in that little particular 
when you write. 

The Fenwicks send their love, and Mrs. Rey- 
nolds her love, and the little old lady her best 

Mrs. JefFeries, who I see now and then, talks of 
you with tears in her eyes, and, when she heard 
you was taken prisoner, Lord ! how frightened 
she was. She has heard, she tells me, that Mr. 
Stoddart is to have a pension of two thousand a 
year, whenever he chuses to return to England. 

God bless you, and send you all manner of 
comforts and happinesses. 

Your most affectionate friend, 

Mary Lamb 

How-do ? how-do ? No time to write. S. T. C. 
going off in a great hurry. 

Ch. Lamb 


Tuesday, March 13, 1804. 

Dear Robert, — I received your notes safe, and 
thank you for them. It seems you are about to 
be married. Joy to you and uninterrupted satis- 
faction in that state. But who is the lady ? it is 
the character of your letters, that you omit facts, 


dates, names and matter, and describe nothing 
but feelings ; in which as I cannot always par- 
take, as being more intense in degree or different 
in kind from my own tranquil ones, I cannot al- 
ways well tell how to reply. Your dishes are too 
much sauced and spiced and flavored, for me to 
suppose that you can relish my plain meats and 
vulgar aliment. Still, Robert, if I cannot always 
send you of the same, they have a smack and a 
novelty, a Robert-ism about them, that make 
them a dainty stimulus to my palate at times. 

I have little to tell you of. You are mistaken ; 
I am disengaged from all newspaper connexions, 
and breathe a freer air in consequence. I was 
bound like Gulliver in a multitude of little chains ; 
which, by quotidian teasing, swelled to a rack and 
a gibbet in the year's account. I am poorer but 
happier. Your three pounds came seasonably, but 
I doubt whether I am fairly entitled to them as 
a debt. 

I am obliged to break off here, and would not 
send this unfinished, but that you might other- 
wise be uneasy about the moneys. 

Am I ever to see you ? For it is like letters 
to the dead, or for a friend to write to his friend 
in the Fortunate Isles, or the moon, or at the 
Antipodes, to address a line to one in Warwick- 
shire that I am never to see in London. I shall 
lose the very face of Robert by disuse, and I ques- 
tion, if I were a painter, if I could now paint it 
from memory. 

J 47 

I could tell you many things ; but you are so 
spiritual and abstracted that I fear to insult you 
with tidings of this world. But may your ap- 
proaching husbandhood humanize you. I think 
I see a dawn. I am sure joy is rising upon you, 
and I stand a tiptoe to see the sun ascending, till 
it gets up and up, and, " while a man tells the 
story," shews at last a fair face and a full light. 
God bless you, Robert. 

C. L. 


April 4, 1804. 

My dear C, — I but just received your com- 
mission-abounding letter. All shall be done. 
Make your European heart easy in Malta, all shall 
be performed. You say I am to transcribe off 
part of your letters and send to X somebody (but 
the name is lost under the wafer, so you must give 
it me) — I suppose Wordsworth. 

I have been out of town since Saturday, the 
reason I had not your letter before. N. B. N. B. 
Knowing I had two or three Easter holydays, it 
was my intention to have ask'd you if my accom- 
panying you to Portsmouth would have been 
pleasant. But you were not visible, except just at 
the critical moment of going off from the inn, 
at which time I could not get at you. So Deus 
aliter disposuit, and I went down into Hertford- 


I write in great bustle indeed — God bless you 
again. Attend to what I have written mark'd X 
above, and don't merge any part of your orders 
under seal again. 

C. Lamb 

The^i came safe. 

Mary would send her best love, but I write at 


Temple, May 4, 1804. 

Dear Sir, — I have no sort of connexion with 
the Morning Post at present, nor acquaintance with 
its late editor (the present editor of the Courier) 
to ask a favour of him with propriety ; but if it 
will be of any use, I believe I could get the in- 
sertions into the British Press (a morning paper) 
through a friend. 

Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


Temple, May 5, 1804. 

Dear Sir, — I can get the insertions into the 
British Press without any difficulty at all. I am 
only sorry that I have no interest in the Morning 
Post, having so much greater circulation. If your 
friend chuses it, you will be so good as to return 
me the critique, of which I forgot to take a copy, 


and I suppose on Monday or Tuesday it will be 
in. The sooner I have it, the better. 
Yours, &c, 

C. Lamb 

I did formerly assist in the Post, but have no 
longer any engagement. 


June 2, 1804. 

Dear Miss Wordsworth, — The task of letter- 
writing in my family falls to me ; you are the 
organ of correspondence in yours, so I address 
you rather than your brother. We are all sensibly 
obliged to you for the little scraps [Arthur 's Bower 
and his brethren) which you sent up ; the book- 
seller has got them and paid Mrs. Fenwick for 
them. So while some are authors for fame, some 
for money, you have commenced author for char- 
ity. The least we can do is to see your commis- 
sions fulfilled ; accordingly I have booked this 
2d June, 1 804, from the Waggon Inn in Cripple- 
gate the watch and books which I got from your 
brother Richard, together with Purchas's Pil- 
grimage and Brown's Religio Medici, which I desire 
your brother's acceptance of, with some pens, of 
which I observed no great frequency when I tar- 
ried at Grasmere. (I suppose you have got Cole- 
ridge's letter.) These things I have put up in a 
deal box directed to Mr. Wordsworth, Grasmere, 


near Ambleside, Kendal, by the Kendal waggon. 
At the same time I have sent off a parcel by C.'s 
desire to Mr. T. Hutchinson to the care of Mr. 
" T. Monkhouse, or T. Markhouse " (for C.'s 
writing is not very plain), Penrith, by the Penrith 
waggon this day ; which I beg you to apprise 
them of, lest my direction fail. In your box you 
will find a little parcel for Mrs. Coleridge, which 
she wants as soon as possible; also for yourselves 
the cotton, magnesia, bark and oil, which come 
to £z. 3. 4., thus, — 

Thread and needles 

l 7 











Packing case 

2 . 


Deduct a guinea I owe 
you, which C. was to 
pay, but did not, 

Leaves you indebted 


1 . 1 


whereby you may see how punctual I am. 

I conclude with our kindest remembrances to 
your brother and Mrs. W. 

We hear the young John is a giant. 

I 5 I 

And should you see Charles Lloyd, pray forget 
to give my love to him. 

Yours truly, Dear Miss W., 

C. Lamb 

I send you two little copies of verses by Mary 
L— b, — 


Child " O Lady, lay your costly robes aside, 
sings. No longer may you glory in your pride." 

Mother. Wherefore to-day art singing in mine ear 

Sad songs were made so long ago, my dear ? 
This day I am to be a bride, you know. 
Why sing sad songs were made so long ago ? 
Child. " O Mother, lay your costly robes aside," 
For you may never be another's bride : 
That line I learnt not in the old sad song. 

Mother. I pray thee, pretty one, now hold thy tongue ; 
Play with the bridemaids, and be glad, my boy, 
For thou shah be a second father's joy. 
Child. One father fondled me upon his knee : 
One father is enough alone for me. 

Suggested by a print of two females after Leo- 
nardo da] Vinci, called Prudence and Beauty, 
which hangs up in our ro[om]. 

Oh that you could see the print!! 

The Lady Blanch, regardless of all her lovers' fears, 
To the Ursuline Convent hastens, and long the abbess hears : 
" O Blanch, my child, repent thee of the courtly life ye lead." 
Blanch looked on a rosebud, and little seem'd to heed ; 
She looked on the rosebud, she looked round, and thought 
On all her heart had whisper'd, and all the nun had taught : 


" I am worshipped by lovers, and brightly shines my fame, 
All Christendom resoundeth the noble Blanch's name ; 
Nor shall I quickly wither like the rosebud from the tree, 
My queen-like graces shining when my beauty 's gone from 

But when the sculptur'd marble is raised o'er my head, 
And the matchless Blanch lies lifeless among the noble dead, 
This saintly lady abbess has made me justly fear, 
It nothing will avail me that I were worshipt here." 

I wish they may please you ; we in these parts 
are not a little proud of them. 

C. L. 


Late July, 1804. 

My dearest Sarah, — Your letter, which con- 
tained the news of Coleridge's arrival, was a most 
welcome one ; for we had begun to entertain 
very unpleasant apprehensions for his safety ; and 
your kind reception of the forlorn wanderer gave 
me the greatest pleasure, and I thank you for it 
in my own and my brother's name. I shall de- 
pend upon you for hearing of his welfare ; for he 
does not write himself; but, as long as we know 
he is safe and in such kind friends' hands, we do 
not mind. Your letters, my dear Sarah, are to me 
very, very precious ones. They are the kindest, 
best, most natural ones I ever received. The one 
containing the news of the arrival of Coleridge 
perhaps the best I ever saw ; and your old friend 
Charles is of my opinion. We sent it off to Mrs. 

J 53 

Coleridge and the Wordsworths ; as well because 
we thought it our duty to give them the first no- 
tice we had of our dear friend's safety, as that we 
were proud of shewing our Sarah's pretty letter. 

The letters we received a few days after from 
you and your brother were far less welcome ones. 
I rejoiced to hear your sister is well ; but I 
grieved for the loss of the dear baby ; and I am 
sorry to find your brother is not so successful as 
he at first expected to be ; and yet I am almost 
tempted to wish his ill fortune may send him over 
[to] us again. He has a friend, I understand, who 
is now at the head of the Admiralty ; why may 
he not return, and make a fortune here ? 

I cannot condole with you very sincerely upon 
your little failure in the fortune-making way. If 
you regret it, so do I. But I hope to see you a 
comfortable English wife; and the forsaken, for- 
gotten William, of English-partridge memory, I 
have still a hankering after. However, I thank 
you for your frank communication, and I beg you 
will continue it in future ; and if I do not agree 
with a good grace to your having a Maltese hus- 
band, I will wish you happy, provided you make 
it a part of your marriage articles that your hus- 
band shall allow you to come over sea and make 
me one visit ; else may neglect and overlooked- 
ness be your portion while you stay there. 

I would condole with you when the misfor- 
tune has fallen your poor leg ; but such is the 
blessed distance we are at from each other that I 


hope, before you receive this, that you forgot it 
ever happened. 

Our compliments [to] the high ton at the Mal- 
tese court. Your brother is so profuse of them to 
me, that being, as you know, so unused to them, 
they perplex me sadly ; in future, I beg they may 
be discontinued. They always remind me of the 
free, and, I believe, very improper, letter I wrote 
to you while you were at the Isle of Wight. The 
more kindly you and your brother and sister took 
the impertinent advice contained in it, the more 
certain I feel that it was unnecessary, and there- 
fore highly improper. Do not let your brother 
compliment me into the memory of it again. 

My brother has had a letter from your mother 
which has distressed him sadly — about the post- 
age of some letters being paid by my brother. 
Your silly brother, it seems, has informed your 
mother (I did not think your brother could have 
been so silly) that Charles had grumbled at pay- 
ing the said postage. The fact was, just at that 
time we were very poor, having lost the Morning 
Post, and we were beginning to practise a strict 
economy. My brother, who never makes up his 
mind whether he will be a miser or a spend- 
thrift, is at all times a strange mixture of both : 
of this failing, the even economy of your correct 
brother's temper makes him an ill judge. The 
miserly part of Charles, at that time smarting 
under his recent loss, then happened to reign tri- 
umphant ; and he would not write, or let me 

1 SS 

write, so often as he wished, because the postage 
cost two and fourpence. Then came two or three 
of your poor mother's letters nearly together; and 
the two and fourpences he wished, but grudged, 
to pay for his own, he was forced to pay for hers. 
In this dismal distress he applied to Fenwick to 
get his friend Motley to send them free from 
Portsmouth. This Mr. Fenwick could have done 
for half a word's speaking ; but this he did not 
do ! Then Charles foolishly and unthinkingly 
complained to your brother in a half-serious, half- 
joking way ; and your brother has wickedly, and 
with malice aforethought, told your mother. O 
fie upon him ! what will your mother think of 
us ? 

I, too, feel my share of blame in this vexatious 
business ; for I saw the unlucky paragraph in my 
brother's letter ; and I had a kind of foreboding 
that it would come to your mother's ears ; al- 
though I had a higher opinion of your brother's 
good sense than I find he deserved. By entreaties 
and prayers I might have prevailed on my brother 
to say nothing about it. But I make a point of 
conscience never to interfere or cross my brother 
in the humour he happens to be in. It always 
appears to me to be a vexatious kind of tyranny, 
that women have no business to exercise overmen, 
which, merely because they having a better judg- 
ment, they have the power to do. Let men alone, 
and at last we find they come round to the right 
way, which we, by a kind of intuition, perceive 

i S 6 

at once. But better, far better, that we should let 
them often do wrong, than that they should have 
the torment of a monitor always at their elbows. 

Charles is sadly fretted now, I know, at what 
to say to your mother. I have made this long 
preamble about it to induce [you], if possible, to 
reinstate us in your mother's good graces. Say to 
her it was a jest misunderstood ; tell her Charles 
Lamb is not the shabby fellow she and her son 
took him for ; but that he is now and then a 
trifle whimsical or so. I do not ask your brother 
to do this, for I am offended with him for the mis- 
chief he has made. 

I feel that I have too lightly passed over the 
interesting account you sent me of your late dis- 
appointment. It was not because I did not feel 
and completely enter into the affair with you. 
You surprise and please me with the frank and 
generous way in which you deal with your lovers, 
taking a refusal from their so prudential hearts 
with a better grace and more good humour than 
other women accept a suitor's service. Continue 
this open artless conduct, and I trust you will at 
last find some man who has sense enough to know 
you are well worth risking a peaceable life of 
poverty for. I shall yet live to see you a poor but 
happy English wife. 

Remember me most affectionately to Cole- 
ridge ; and I thank you again and again for all 
your kindness to him. To dear Mrs. Stoddart 
and your brother I beg my best love ; and to you 


all I wish health and happiness and a soon return 
to Old England. 

I have sent to Mr. Burrel's for your kind pre- 
sent ; but unfortunately he is not in town. I am 
impatient to see my fine silk handkerchiefs ; and 
I thank you for them, not as a present, for I do 
not love presents, but as a remembrance of your 
old friend. Farewell. 

I am, my best Sarah, 

Your most affectionate friend, 

Mary Lamb 

Good wishes, and all proper remembrances, 
from old nurse, Mrs. Jeffries, Mrs. Reynolds, 
Mrs. Rickman, &c. &c. &c. 

Long live Queen Hoop-oop-oop-oo, and all 
the old merry phantoms ! 

[C 'harks Lamb adds :] 
My dear Miss Stoddart, — Mary has written 
so fully to you that I have nothing to add but 
that, in all the kindness she has exprest and lov- 
ing desire to see you again, I bear my full part. 
You will perhaps like to tear this half from the 
sheet, and give your brother only his strict due, 
the remainder. So I will just repay your late kind 
letter with this short postcript to hers. Come 
over here, and let us all be merry again. 

C. Lamb 



September 13, 1804. 

Dear Robert, — I was startled in a very pleas- 
ant manner by the contents of your letter. It 
was like your good self to take so handsome an 
opportunity of renewing an old friendship. I 
thank you kindly for your offers to bring me ac- 
quainted with Mrs. LI. I cannot come now, but 
assuredly I will some time or other, to see how 
this new relation sits upon you. I am naturally 
shy of new faces ; but the lady who has chosen 
my old friend Robert cannot have a repelling 
one. Assure her of my sincere congratulations 
and friendly feelings. Mary joins in both with 
me, and considers herself as only left out of your 
kind invitation by some lapsus styli. We have 
already had all the holydays we can have this 
year. We have been spending our usual summer 
month at Richmond, from which place we traced 
the banks of the old Thames for ten and twenty 
miles, in daily walks or rides, and found beauties 
which may compare with Ulswater and Winder- 
mere. We visited Windsor, Hampton, etc. etc. 
— but this is a deviation from the subject with 
which I began my letter. 

Some day I certainly shall come and see you 
in your new light ; no longer the restless (but 
good) Robert ; but now the staid, sober (and not 

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


less good) married Robert. And how does Plum- 
stead, the impetuous, take your getting the start 
of him ? When will he subside into matrimony? 
Priscilla has taken a long time indeed to think 
about it. I will suppose that her first choice is 
now her final ; though you do not expressly say 
that she is to be a Wordsworth. I wish her, and 
dare promise her, all happiness. 

All these new nuptials do not make me un- 
quiet in the perpetual prospect of celibacy. There 
is a quiet dignity in old-bachelorhood, a leisure 
from cares, noise, etc., an enthronisation upon 
the armed-chair of a man's feeling that he may 
sit, walk, read, unmolested, to none accountable 
— but hush ! or I shall be torn in pieces like a 
churlish Orpheus by young married women and 
bridemaids of Birmingham. The close is this, 
to every man that way of life which is his elec- 
tion is best. Be as happy in yours as I am deter- 
mined to be in mine, and we shall strive lovingly 
who shall sing best the praises of matrimony, and 
the praises of singleness. 

Adieu, my old friend in a new character, and 
believe me that no " wounds " have pierced our 
friendship; only a long want of seeing each other 
has disfurnished us of topics on which to talk. 
Is not your new fortunes a topic which may hold 
us for some months (the honey months at least) ? 

C. Lamb 



October 13, 1804. 

My dear Mrs. Coleridge, — I have had a letter 
written ready to send to you, which I kept, hoping 
to get a frank, and now I find I must write one 
entirely anew, for that consisted of matter not 
now in season, such as condolence on the illness 
of your children, who I hope are now quite well, 
and comfortings on your uncertainty of the safety 
of Coleridge, with wise reasons for the delay 
of the letters from Malta, which must now be 
changed for pleasant congratulations. Coleridge 
has not written to us, but we have had two let- 
ters from the Stoddarts since the one I sent to 
you, containing good accounts of him ; but as I 
find you have had letters from himself I need 
not tell you the particulars. 

My brother sent your letters to Mr. Motley 
according to Coleridge's direction, and I have no 
doubt but he forwarded them. 

One thing only in my poor letter the time 
makes no alteration in, which is that I have half 
a bed ready for you, and I shall rejoice with ex- 
ceeding great joy to have you with me. Pray do 
not change your mind, for I shall be sadly dis- 
appointed if you do. Will Hartley be with you ? 
I hope he will, for you say he goes with you to 
Liverpool, and I conclude you come from thence 
to London. 


I have seen your brother lately, and I find he 
entertains good hopes from Mr. Sake, and his 
present employment, I hear, is likely to continue 
a considerable time longer, so that I hope you 
may consider him as good as provided for. He 
seems very steady, and is very well spoken of at 
his office. 

I have lately been often talking of you with 
Mrs. Hazlitt. William Hazlitt is painting my 
brother's picture, which has brought us ac- 
quainted with the whole family. I like William 
Hazlitt and his sister very much indeed, and I 
think Mrs. Hazlitt a pretty good-humoured wo- 
man. She has a nice little girl of the Pypos 
kind, who is so fond of my brother that she stops 
strangers in the street to tell them when Mr. 
Lamb is coming to see her. 

I hope Mr. Southey and your sister and the 
little Edith are well. I beg my love to them. 

God bless you, and your three little darlings, 
and their wandering father, who, I hope, will 
soon return to you in high health and spirits. 
I remain ever your affectionate friend, 

Mary Lamb 

Compliments to Mr. Jackson and darling 
friend. I hope they are well. 

[C har/es Lamb adds the following paragraph to 
this letter, written by his sister Mary .-] 

C. Lamb particularly desires to be remem- 

bered to Southey and all the Southeys, as well as 
to Mrs. C. and her little Coleridges. Mrs. C.'s 
letters have all been sent as Coleridge left word, 
to Motley's, Portsmouth. 


[Hazlitt's portrait of Lamb was the one in the dress of a 
Venetian senator, reproduced in Vol. I of this edition. It now 
hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.] 


November 7, 1804. 

Dear Southey, — You were the last person 
from whom we heard of Dyer, and if you know 
where to forward the news I now send to him, 
I shall be obliged to you to lose no time. D.'s 
sister-in-law, who lives in St. Dunstan's Court, 
wrote to him about three weeks ago, to the Hope 
Inn, Cambridge, to inform him that Squire Houl- 
bert, or some such name, of Denmark Hill, has 
died, and left her husband a thousand pounds, 
and two or three hundred to Dyer. Her letter 
got no answer, and she does not know where to 
direct to him ; so she came to me, who am equally 
in the dark. Her story is, that Dyer's imme- 
diately coming to town now, and signing some 
papers, will save him a considerable sum of money 
— how, I don't understand ; but it is very right 
he should hear of this. She has left me barely 
time for the post ; so I conclude with all love, 
&c, to all at Keswick. 


Dyer's brother, who, by his wife's account, has 
got i ooo/. left him, is father of the little dirty 
girl, Dyer's niece and factotum. 
In haste, 

Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 

If you send George this, cut off the last para- 

D.'s laundress had a letter a few days since ; 
but George never dates. 


February 18, 1805. 

My dear Wordsworth, — The subject of your 
letter has never been out of our thoughts since the 
day we first heard of it, and many have been our 
impulses towards you, to write to you or to write 
to inquire about you ; but it never seemed the 
time. We felt all your situation, and how much 
you would want Coleridge at such a time, and we 
wanted somehow to make up to you his absence, 
for we loved and honoured your brother, and his 
death always occurs to my mind with something 
like a feeling of reproach, as if we ought to have 
been nearer acquainted, and as if there had been 
some incivility shown him by us, or something 
short of that respect which we now feel ; but this 
is always a feeling when people die, and I should 
not foolishly offer a piece of refinement, instead 


of sympathy, if I knew any other way of making 
you feel how little like indifferent his loss has 
been to us. 

I have been for some time wretchedly ill and 
low, and your letter this morning has affected 
me so with a pain in my inside and a confusion, 
that I hardly know what to write or how. I have 
this morning seen Stewart, the second mate, who 
was saved ; but he can give me no satisfactory 
account, having been in quite another part of the 
ship when your brother went down. But I shall 
see Gilpin to-morrow, and will communicate your 
thanks, and learn from him all I can. All accounts 
agree that just before the vessel going down, your 
brother seemed like one overwhelmed with the 
situation, and careless of his own safety. Perhaps 
he might have saved himself; but a captain who 
in such circumstances does all he can for his ship 
and nothing for himself is the noblest idea. I can 
hardly express myself, I am so really ill. But the 
universal sentiment is, that your brother did all 
that duty required: and if he had been more alive 
to the feelings of those distant ones whom he 
loved, he would have been at that time a less ad- 
mirable object ; less to be exulted in by them : for 
his character is high with all that I have heard 
speak of him, and no reproach can fix upon him. 
To-morrow I shall see Gilpin, I hope, if I can 
get at him, for there is expected a complete in- 
vestigation of the causes of the loss of the ship, 
at the East India House, and all the officers are 

i6 S 

to attend: but I could not put off writing to 
you a moment. It is most likely I shall have 
something to add to-morrow in a second letter. 
If I do not write, you may suppose I have not 
seen G., but you shall hear from me in a day or 

We have done nothing but think of you, par- 
ticularly of Dorothy. Mary is crying by me while 
I with difficulty write this ; but as long as we 
remember anything, we shall remember your bro- 
ther's noble person, and his sensible manly mod- 
est voice, and how safe and comfortable we all 
were together in our apartment, where I am now 
writing. When he returned, having been one of 
the triumphant China fleet, we thought of his 
pleasant exultation (which he exprest here one 
night) in the wish that he might meet a French- 
man in the seas ; and it seem'd to be accomplished, 
all to his heart's desire. I will conclude from utter 
inability to write any more, for I am seriously un- 
well ; and because I mean to gather something 
like intelligence to send to you to-morrow: for, 
as yet, I have but heard second hand, and seen 
one narrative, which is but a transcript of what 
was common to all the papers. God bless you 
all, and reckon upon us as entering into all your 
griefs. [Signature cut away.] 


[This is the first of a series of letters bearing upon the loss 
of the East Indiaman Earl of Abergavenny, which was wrecked 
off" Portland Bill on February 6, 1805, tw0 hundred persons 


and the captain, John Wordsworth, being lost. The character 
of Wordsworth's Happy Warrior is said to have been largely 
drawn from his brother John. His age was only thirty-three. 
— E. V. Lucas.] 


February 19, 1805. 

My dear Wordsworth, — I yesterday wrote you 
a very unsatisfactory letter. To-day I have not 
much to add, but it may be some satisfaction to 
you that I have seen Gilpin, and thanked him in 
all your names for the assistance he tried to give ; 
and that he has assured me that your brother 
did try to save himself, and was doing so when 
Gilpin called to him, but he was then struggling 
with the waves and almost dead. G. heard him 
give orders a very little before the vessel went 
down, with all possible calmness, and it does not 
at all appear that your brother in any absence of 
mind neglected his own safety. But in such cir- 
cumstances the memory of those who escaped 
cannot be supposed to be very accurate; and there 
appears to be about the persons that I have seen 
a good deal of reservedness and unwillingness to 
enter into detail, which is natural, they being 
officers of the ship, and liable to be examined at 
home about its loss. The examination is expected 
to-day or to-morrow, and if anything should come 
out that can interest you, I shall take an early 
opportunity of sending it to you. 

Mary wrote some few days since to Miss Stod- 

dart, containing an account of your brother's 
death, which most likely Coleridge will have 
heard, before the letter comes : we both wish it 
may hasten him back. We do not know anything 
of him, whether he is settled in any post (as there 
was some talk) or not. We had another sad ac- 
count to send him, of the death of his school- 
fellow Allen ; tho' this, I am sure, will much less 
affect him. I don't know whether you knew 
Allen ; he died lately very suddenly in an apo- 
plexy. When you do and can write, particularly 
inform us of the healths of you all. God bless 
you all. Mary will write to Dorothy as soon as 
she thinks she will be able to bear it. It has been 
a sad tidings to us, and has affected us more than 
we could have believed. I think it has contrib- 
uted to make me worse, who have been very un- 
well, and have got leave for some few days to 
stay at home ; but I am ashamed to speak of my- 
self, only in excuse for the unfeeling sort of huddle 
which I now send. I could not delay it, having 
seen Gilpin, and I thought his assurance might 
be some little ease to you. 

We will talk about the books when you can 
better bear it. I have bought none yet. But do 
not spare me any office you can put me on, now 
or when you are at leisure for such things. Adopt 
me as one of your family in this affliction ; and 
use me without ceremony as such. 

Mary's kindest love to all. 

C. L. 


February 23, 1805. 

Dear Manning, — We have executed your com- 
missions. There was nothing for you at the White 
Horse. I have been very unwell since I saw you : 
a sad depression of spirits, a most unaccountable 
nervousness ; from which I have been partially 
relieved by an odd accident. You knew Dick 
Hopkins, the swearing scullion of Caius ? This 
fellow, by industry and agility, has thrust himself 
into the important situations (no sinecures, believe 
me) of cook to Trinity Hall and Caius College ; 
and the generous creature has contrived, with the 
greatest delicacy imaginable, to send me a present 
of Cambridge brawn. What makes it the more 
extraordinary is, that the man never saw me in 
his life that I know of. I suppose he has heard of 
me. I did not immediately recognise the donor ; 
but one of Richard's cards, which had accident- 
ally fallen into the straw, detected him in a mo- 
ment. Dick, you know, was always remarkable 
for flourishing. His card imports, that " orders 
(to wit, for brawn) from any part of England, 
Scotland, or Ireland, will be duly executed," &c. 

At first, I thought of declining the present ; 
but Richard knew my blind side when he pitched 
upon brawn. 'T is of all my hobbies the supreme 
in the eating way. .He might have sent sops from 
the pan, skimmings, crumplets, chips, hog's lard, 
the tender brown judiciously scalped from a fillet 


of veal (dexterously replaced by a salamander), 
the tops of asparagus, fugitive livers, runaway 
gizzards of fowls, the eyes of martyred pigs, ten- 
der effusions of laxative woodcocks, the red spawn 
of lobsters, leverets' ears, and such pretty filchings 
common to cooks ; but these had been ordinary 
presents, the everyday courtesies of dishwashers 
to their sweethearts. Brawn was a noble thought. 
It is not every common gullet-fancier [that] can 
properly esteem it. It is like a picture of one of 
the choice old Italian masters. Its gusto is of that 
hidden sort. 

As Wordsworth sings of a modest poet, — 
" you must love him, ere to you he will seem 
worthy of your love; " so brawn, you must taste 
it, ere to you it will seem to have any taste at 
all. But 'tis nuts to the adept: those that will 
send out their tongues and feelers to find it out. 
It will be wooed, and not unsought be won. 
Now, ham-essence, lobsters, turtle, such popular 
minions, absolutely court you, lay themselves out 
to strike you at first smack, like one of David's 
pictures (they call him Darveed), compared with 
the plain russet-coated wealth of a Titian or a 
Correggio, as I illustrated above. Such are the 
obvious glaring heathen virtues of a corporation 
dinner, compared with the reserved collegiate 
worth of brawn. 

Do me the favour to leave off the business 
which you may be at present upon, and go im- 
mediately to the kitchens of Trinity and Caius, 


and make my most respectful compliments to 
Mr. Richard Hopkins, and assure him that his 
brawn is most excellent; and that I am more- 
over obliged to him for his innuendo about salt 
water and bran, which I shall not fail to im- 
prove. I leave it to you whether you shall choose 
to pay him the civility of asking him to dinner 
while you stay in Cambridge, or in whatever 
other way you may best like to show your grati- 
tude to my friend. Richard Hopkins, considered 
in many points of view, is a very extraordinary 
character. Adieu : I hope to see you to supper 
in London soon, where we will taste Richard's 
brawn, and drink his health in a cheerful but 
moderate cup. We have not many such men in 
any rank of life as Mr. R. Hopkins. Crisp the 
barber, of St. Mary's, was just such another. I 
wonder be never sent me any little token, some 
chestnuts, or a puff, or two pound of hair : just 
to remember him by. Gifts are like nails. Prae- 
sens ut absens, that is, your present makes amends 
for your absence. 

Yours, C. Lamb 


[This letter is, I take it, a joke : that is to say, the brawn 
was sent to Lamb by Manning, who seems to have returned 
to Cambridge for a while, and Lamb affects to believe that 
Hopkins, from whom it was bought, was the giver. I think 
this view is supported by the reference to Mr. Crisp, at the 
end, — Mr. Crisp being Manning's late landlord. 

The letter contains Lamb's second expression of epicurean 
rapture: the first in praise of pig. — E. V. Lucas.] 

I 7 I 


March 5, 1805. 

My dear Wordsworth, — If Gilpin's state- 
ment has afforded you any satisfaction, I can 
assure you that he was most explicit in giving 
it, and even seemed anxious (interrupting me) to 
do away any misconception. His statement is not 
contradicted by the last and fullest of the two 
narratives which have been published (the former 
being a mere transcript of the newspapers), which 
I would send you if I did not suppose that you 
would receive more pain from the unfeeling, 
canting way in which it is drawn up, than sat- 
isfaction from its contents ; and what relates to 
your brother in particular is very short. It states 
that your brother was seen talking to the first 
mate but a few minutes before the ship sank, 
with apparent cheerfulness, and it contradicts 
the newspaper account about his depression of 
spirits procrastinating his taking leave of the 
Court of Directors ; which the drawer-up of the 
narrative (a man high in the India House) is 
likely to be well informed of. It confirms Gil- 
pin's account of his seeing your brother striving 
to save himself, and adds that "Webber, a joiner, 
was near the captain, who was standing on the 
hencoop when the ship went down, whom he 
saw washed off by a sea, which also carried him 
(Webber) overboard ; " — this is all which con- 
cerns your brother personally. But I will just 


transcribe from it a copy of Gilpin's account de- 
livered in to the Court of Directors : — 

" Memorandum respecting the loss of the E. 


" At ten a. m., being about ten leagues to the 
westward of Portland, the commodore made the 
signal to bear up — did so accordingly ; at this 
time having maintopgallantmast struck, fore and 
mizzen ditto on deck, and the jib-boom in the 
wind about west-southwest. At three p. m. got 
on board a pilot, being about two leagues to the 
westward of Portland; ranged and bitted both 
cables at about half-past three, called all hands 
and got out the jib-boom at about four. While 
crossing the east end of the Shambles, the wind 
suddenly died away, and a strong tide setting the 
ship to the westward, drifted her into the break- 
ers, and a sea striking her on the larboard quarter, 
brought her to, with her head to the northward, 
when she instantly struck, it being about five p.m. 
Let out all the reefs, and hoisted the topsails up, 
in hopes to shoot the ship across the Shambles. 
About this time the wind shifted to the north- 
west. The surf driving us off, and the tide set- 
ting us on alternately, sometimes having four and 
one half at others nine fathoms, sand of the sea 
about eight feet ; continued in this situation till 
about half-past seven, when she got off. During 
the time she was on the Shambles, had from three 
to four feet water ; kept the water at this height 
about fifteen minutes, during the whole time the 


pumps constantly going. Finding she gained on 
us, it was determined to run her on the nearest 
shore. About eight the wind shifted to the east- 
ward : the leak continuing to gain upon the 
pumps, having ten or eleven feet water, found 
it expedient to bale at the forescuttles and hatch- 
way. The ship would not bear up — kept the 
helm hard a starboard, she being water-logg'd ; 
but still had a hope she could be kept up till we 
got her on Weymouth Sands. Cut the lashings 
of the boats ; could not get the long-boat out, 
without laying the maintopsail aback, by which 
our progress would have been so delayed that no 
hope would have been left us of running her 
aground, and there being several sloops in sight, 
one having sent a small skiff on board, took away 
two ladies and three other passengers, and put 
them on board the sloop, at the same time pro- 
mising to return and take away a hundred or 
more of the people; she finding much difficulty 
in getting back to the sloop, did not return. 
About this time the third mate and purser were 
sent in the cutter to get assistance from the other 
ships. Continued pumping and baling till eleven 
p. M. when she sunk. Last cast of the lead eleven 
fathoms ; having fired guns from the time she 
struck till she went down, about two a. m. boats 
came and took the people from the wreck about 
seventy in number. The troops, in particular the 
dragoons, pumped very well. 

(Signed) " Tho s . Gilpin " 

* 74 

And now, my dear W., I must apologize for 
having named my health. But indeed it was be- 
cause, what with the ill news, your letter coming 
upon me in a most wretched state of ill spirits, 
I was scarce able to give it an answer, and I felt 
what it required. But we will say no more about 
it. I am getting better ; and, when I have per- 
sisted time enough in a course of regular living, 
I shall be well. But I am now well enough, and 
have got to business afresh. 

Mary thanks you for your invitation. I have 
wished myself with you daily since the news. I 
have wished that I were Coleridge, to give you 
any consolation. You have not mourned with- 
out one to have a feeling of it. And we have not 
undervalued the intimation of your friendship. 
We shall one day prove it by intruding on your 
privacy, when these griefs shall be a little calmed. 
This year, I am afraid, it is impossible: but I 
shall store it up as among the good things to 
come, which keep us up when life and spirits are 

If you have not seen, or wish to see, the wretched 
narrative I have mentioned, I will send it. But 
there is nothing more in it affecting you. I have 
hesitated to send it, because it is unfeelingly done, 
and in the hope of sending you something from 
some of the actual spectators ; but I have been 
disappointed, and can add nothing yet. What- 
ever I pick up, I will store for you. It is per- 
fectly understood at the East India House, that 


no blame whatever belongs to the captain or 

I can add no more but Mary's warmest love 
to all. When you can write without trouble, do 
it, for you are among the very chief of our in- 
terests. C. Lamb 


March 21, 1805. 

Dear Wordsworth, — Upon the receipt of 
your last letter, before that which I have just 
received, I wrote myself to Gilpin putting your 
questions to him ; but have yet had no answer. 
I at the same time got a person in the India 
House to write a much fuller inquiry to a relative 
of his who was saved, one Yates a midshipman. 
Both these officers (and indeed pretty nearly all 
that are left) have got appointed to other ships 
and have joined them. Gilpin is in the Comet, 
Indiaman, now lying at Gravesend. Neither 
Yates nor Gilpin have yet answered, but I am in 
daily expectation. I have sent your letter of this 
morning also to Gilpin. The waiting for these 
answers has been my reason for not writing you. 
I have made very particular inquiries about Web- 
ber, but in vain. He was a common seaman (not 
the ship's carpenter) and no traces of him are 
at the India House : it is most probable that he 
has entered in some privateer, as most of the crew 
have done. 


I will keep the^i note till you find out some- 
thing I can do with it. I now write idly, having 
nothing to send ; but I cannot bear that you 
should think I have quite neglected your com- 
mission. My letter to G. was such as I thought 
he could not but answer ; but he may be busy. 
The letter to Yates, I hope I can promise, will 
be answered. One thing, namely, why the other 
ships sent no assistance, I have learn' d from a 
person on board one of them : the firing was never 
once heard, owing to the very stormy night, and 
no tidings came to them till next morning. The 
sea was quite high enough to have thrown out the 
most expert swimmer, and might not your brother 
have received some blow in the shock, which 
disabled him ? 

We are glad to hear poor Dorothy is a little 
better. None of you are able to bear such a stroke. 
To people oppressed with feeling, the loss of a 
good-humoured happy man that has been friendly 
with them, if he were no brother, is bad enough. 
But you must cultivate his spirits, as a legacy, and 
believe that such as he cannot be lost. He was a 
chearful soul ! God bless you. Mary's love al- 
ways. C. Lamb 


April 5, 1805. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I have this moment re- 
ceived this letter from Gilpin in reply to three or 


four short questions I put to him in my letter 
before yours for him came. He does not notice 
having received yours, which I sent immediately. 
Perhaps he has already answered it to you. You 
see that his hand is sprain'd, and your questions 
being more in number may delay his answer to 
you. My first question was, when it was he called 
to your brother: the rest you will understand 
from the answers. I was beginning to have hard 
thoughts of G. from his delay, but now I am 
confirm'd in my first opinion that he is a rare 
good-hearted fellow. How is Dorothy and all 
of you? Yours sincerely, 

C. Lamb 

Fourth question was, — Was Capt. W. stand- 
ing near the shrouds or any place of safety at the 
moment of sinking ? 

Northfleet, March 31, 1805. 

Sir, — I did not receive yours of 16th inst. till this day, or 
should have answered it sooner. To your first question I an- 
swer, After the ship had sunk. To your second, my answer 
is, I was in the starboard mizzen rigging — I thought I see 
the captain hanging by a rope that was fast to the mizzen 
mast. I came down and hailed him as loud as I could ; he was 
about ten feet distant from me. I threw a rope, which fell 
close to him ; he seem'd quite motionless and insensible (it was 
excessive cold), and was soon after sweep'd away, and I see 
him no more. It was near about five minutes after the ship 
went down. With respect to the captain and Webber being 
on the same hencoop, I can give no answer; all I can say, I 
did not see them. Your fourth question I cannot answer, as 
I did not see Captain Wordsworth at the moment the ship 


was going down, tho' I was then on the poop less than one 
minute before I see the captain there. The statement in the 
printed pamphlet is by no means correct. I have sprained my 
wrist most violently, and am now in great pain, which will, I 
hope, be an apology for the shortness of this letter. 
Believe me truly yours,* 

Tho s . Gilpin 

This letter has been detained till April 5th. 

* This is merely a kind way of expressing him- 
self, for I have no acquaintance with him, nor 
ever saw him but that once I got introduced to 

I think I did not mention in my last that I sent 
yours to T. Evans, Richmond. I hope you have 
got an answer. 


[In a letter from Dorothy Wordsworth to Mrs. Clarkson, 
dated April 19, 1805, we read, — 

I have great pleasure in thinking that you may see Miss 
Lamb ; do not miss it if you can possibly go without injury to 
yourself — they are the best good creatures — blessings be with 
them ! they have sympathised in our sorrow as tenderly as if 
they had grown up in the same [town ?] with us and known 
our beloved John from his childhood. Charles has written to 
us the most consolatory letters, the result of diligent and pain- 
ful inquiry of the survivors of the wreck, — for this we must 
love him as long as we have breath. I think of him and his 
sister every day of my life, and many times in the day with 
thankfulness and blessings. Talk to dear Miss Lamb about 
coming into this country and let us hear what she says of it. 
I cannot express how much we all wish to see her and her 
brother while we are at Grasmere. We look forward to Cole- 
ridge's return with fear and painful hope — but indeed I dare 
not look to it — I think as little as I can of him.] 



\Slightly torn. The conjectures in brackets are Tal- 

June 14, 1805. 

My dear Miss Wordsworth, — Your long kind 
letter has not been thrown away (for it has given 
me great pleasure to find you are all resuming 
your old occupations, and are better), but poor 
Mary, to whom it is addrest, cannot yet relish it. 
She has been attacked by one of her severe ill- 
nesses, and is at present from home. Last Monday 
week was the day she left me ; and I hope I may 
calculate upon having her again in a month or 
little more. I am rather afraid late hours have 
in this case contributed to her indisposition. But 
when she begins to discover symptoms of ap- 
proaching illness, it is not easy to say what is best 
to do. Being by ourselves is bad, and going out 
is bad. I get so irritable and wretched with fear 
that I constantly hasten on the disorder. You can- 
not conceive the misery of such a foresight. I am 
sure that for the week before she left me, I was 
little better than light-headed. I now am calm, 
but sadly taken down, and flat. I have every rea- 
son to suppose that this illness, like all her former 
ones, will be but temporary ; but I cannot always 
feel so. Meantime she is dead to me, and I miss 
a prop. All my strength is gone, and I am like 
a [fool, berjeft of her co-operation. I dare not 
think, lest I [should think] wrong ; so used am 


I to look up to her [in the least] and the biggest 
perplexity. To say all that [I know of her] would 
be more than I think anybody could [believe or 
even understand; and when I hope to have her 
well [again with me] it would be sinning against 
her feelings to go about to praise her : for I can 
conceal nothing that I do from her. She is older 
and wiser and better than I, and all my wretched 
imperfections I cover to myself by resolutely 
thinking on her goodness. She would share life 
and death, heaven and hell, with me. She lives 
but for me. And I know I have been wasting 
and teasing her life for five years past incessantly 
with my cursed drinking and ways of going on. 
But even in this upbraiding of myself I am offend- 
ing against her, for I know that she has cleaved 
to me for better, for worse ; and if the balance 
has been against her hitherto, it was a noble 

I am stupid and lose myself in what I write. 
I write rather what answers to my feelings (which 
are sometimes sharp enough) than expresses my 
present ones, for I am only flat and stupid. 

Poor Miss Stoddart ! she is coming to England 
under the notion of passing her time between her 
mother and Mary, between London and Salis- 
bury. Since she talk'd of coming, word has been 
sent to Malta that her mother is gone out of her 
mind. This letter, with mine to Stoddart with 
an account of Allen's death, &c, has miscarried 
(taken by the French) [word missing]. She is 


coming home, with no soul to receive [words 
missing]. She has not a woman friend in Lon- 

I am sure you will excuse my writing [any 
more: I] am very poorly. I cannot resist tran- 
scribing] three or four lines which poor Mary 
made upon a picture (a Holy Family) which we 
saw at an auction only one week before she left 
home. She was then beginning to show signs 
of ill-boding. They are sweet lines, and upon a 
sweet picture. But I send them, only as the last 
memorial of her. 


Maternal Lady with the virgin grace, 
Heaven-born thy Jesus seemeth sure, 
And thou a virgin pure. 
Lady most perfect, when thy angel face 
Men look upon, they wish to be 
Catholics, Madonna fair, to worship thee. 

You had her lines about the Lady Blanch. You 
have not had some which she wrote upon a copy 
of a girl from Titian, which I had hung up 
where that print of Blanch and the abbess (as she 
beautifully interpreted two female figures from 
L. da Vinci) had hung in our room. 'T is light 
and pretty. 

Who art thou, fair one, who usurp'st the place 
Of Blanch, the lady of the matchless grace ? 
Come, fair and pretty, tell to me 
Who in thy lifetime thou mightst be? 
Thou pretty art and fair, 

But with the Lady Blanch thou never must compare. 

No need for Blanch her history to tell, 

Whoever saw her face, they there did read it well. 

But when I look on thee, I only know 

There liv'd a pretty maid some hundred years ago. 

This is a little unfair, to tell so much about 
ourselves, and to advert so little to your letter, 
so full of comfortable tidings of you all. But my 
own cares press pretty close upon me, and you can 
make allowance. That you may go on gather- 
ing strength and peace is the next wish to Mary's 

I had almost forgot your repeated invitation. 
Supposing that Mary will be well and able, there 
is another ability which you may guess at, which 
I cannot promise myself. In prudence we ought 
not to come. This illness will make it still more 
prudential to wait. It is not a balance of this way 
of spending our money against another way, but 
an absolute question of whether we shall stop 
now, or go on wasting away the little we have got 
beforehand, which my wise conduct has already 
incroach'd upon one half. My best love, how- 
ever, to you all ; and to that most friendly crea- 
ture, Mrs. Clarkson, and better health to her, 
when you see or write to her. C. Lamb 


Dated by Mr. Hazlitt : July 27, 1805. 

Dear Archimedes, — Things have gone on 
badly with thy ungeometrical friend ; but they 


are on the turn. My old housekeeper has shewed 
signs of convalescence, and will shortly resume 
the power of the keys, so I shan't be cheated of 
my tea and liquors. Wind in the west, which pro- 
motes tranquillity. Have leisure now to antici- 
pate seeing thee again. Have been taking leave 
of tobacco in a rhyming address. Had thought 
that vein had been long since closed up. But the 
Lord opened Sara's bag after years of unproduc- 
tion. Find I can rhyme and reason too. Think 
of studying mathematics, to restrain the fire of 
my genius, which George Dyer recommends. 
Have frequent bleedings at the nose, which shows 
plethoric. Maybe shall try the sea myself, that 
great scene of wonders. Got incredibly sober and 
regular ; shave oftener, and hum a tune, to signify 
cheerfulness and gallantry. 

Suddenly disposed to sleep, having taken a 
quart of pease with bacon and stout. Will not 
refuse Nature, who has done such things for me ! 

Nurse ! don't call me unless Mr. Manning 
comes. — What ! the gentleman in spectacles ? — 
Yes. Dormit. C. L. 

Hot Noon. 


September 28, 1805. 

My dear Wordsworth (or Dorothy rather, for 
to you appertains the biggest part of this answer 


by right), — I will not again deserve reproach 
by so long a silence. I have kept deluding my- 
self with the idea that Mary would write to you, 
but she is so lazy, or, I believe the true state of 
the case, so diffident, that it must revert to me 
as usual. Though she writes a pretty good style, 
and has some notion of the force of words, she 
is not always so certain of the true orthography 
of them, and that and a poor handwriting (in 
this age of female calligraphy) often deter her 
where no other reason does. 

We have neither of us been very well for some 
weeks past. I am very nervous, and she most so 
at those times when I am : so that a merry friend, 
adverting to the noble consolation we were able 
to afford each other, denominated us not unaptly 
Gum-Boil and Tooth-Ache : for they use to say 
that a gum-boil is a great relief to a tooth-ache. 
We have been two tiny excursions this summer, 
for three or four days each : to a place near Har- 
row, and to Egham, where Cooper's Hill is; and 
that is the total history of our rustications this 
year. Alas! how poor a sound to Skiddaw, and 
Helvellyn, and Borrodaile, and the magnificent 
sesquipedalia of the year 1802. Poor old Molly ! 
to have lost her pride, that " last infirmity of 
noble minds," and her cow. — Providence need 
not have set her wits to such an old Molly. I 
am heartily sorry for her. Remember us lovingly 
to her. And in particular remember us to Mrs. 
Clarkson in the most kind manner. 


I hope by southwards you mean that she will 
be at or near London, for she is a great favor- 
ite of both of us, and we feel for her health as 
much as is possible for any one to do. She is 
one of the friendliest, comfortablest women we 
know, and made our little stay at your cottage 
one of the pleasantest times we ever past. We 
were quite strangers to her. Mr. C. is with you 
too ? — our kindest separate remembrances to 

As to our special affairs, I am looking about 
me. I have done nothing since the beginning 
of last year, when I lost my newspaper job, and 
having had a long idleness, I must do something 
or we shall get very poor. Sometimes I think 
of a farce ; but hitherto all schemes have gone 
off, — an idle brag or two of an evening vapor- 
ing out of a pipe, and going off in the morning ; 
but now I have bid farewell to my " sweet 
enemy " Tobacco, as you will see in my next 
page, I perhaps shall set soberly to work. Hang 
Work ! I wish that all the year were holyday. 
I am sure that indolence, indefeasible indolence, 
is the true state of man, and business the inven- 
tion of the Old Teaser who persuaded Adam's 
Master to give him an apron and set him a-hoe- 
ing. Pen and ink, and clerks and desks, were the 
refinements of this old torturer a thousand years 
after, under pretence of commerce allying distant 
shores, promoting and diffusing knowledge, good, 



May the Babylonish curse 

Straight confound my stammering verse, 

If I can a passage see 

In this word-perplexity, 

Or a fit expression find, 

Or a language to my mind 

(Still the phrase is wide an acre), 

To take leave of thee, Tobacco; 

Or in any terms relate 

Half my love, or half my hate, 

For I hate yet love thee so, 

That, whichever thing I shew, 

The plain truth will seem to be 

A constrain'd hyperbole, 

And the passion to proceed 

More from a mistress than a weed. 

Sooty retainer to the vine, 
Bacchus' black servant, negro fine, 
Sorcerer that mak'st us doat upon 
Thy begrim'd complexion, 
And, for thy pernicious sake, 
More and greater oaths to break 
Than reclaimed lovers take 
'Gainst women. Thou thy siege dost lay 
Much too in the female way, 
While thou suck'st the labouring breath 
Faster than kisses, or than Death. 

Thou in such a cloud dost bind us, 
That our worst foes cannot find us, 
And 111 Fortune (that would thwart us) 
Shoots at rovers, shooting at us ; 
While each man, thro' thy heightening steam, 
Does like a smoking Etna seem, 
And all about us does express 
(Fancy and Wit in richest dress) 
A Sicilian fruitfulness. 
I8 7 

Thou through such a mist dost shew us, 
That our best friends do not know us; 
And, for those allowed features, 
Due to reasonable creatures, 
Liken'st us to fell Chimeras, 
Monsters that who see us fear us, 
Worse than Cerberus or Geryon, 
Or, who first loved a cloud, lxion. 

Bacchus we know, and we allow 
His tipsy rites. But what art thou? 
That but by reflex canst shew 
What his deity can do, 
As the false Egyptian spell 
Aped the true Hebrew miracle, 
Some few vapours thou may'st raise, 
The weak brain may serve to amaze, 
But to the reins and nobler heart 
Canst nor life nor heat impart. 

Brother of Bacchus, later born, 
The old world was sure forlorn, 
Wanting thee ; that aidest more 
The God's victories than before 
All his panthers, and the brawls 
Of his piping Bacchanals ; 
These, as stale, we disallow, 
Or judge of thee meant : only thou 
His true Indian conquest art ; 
And, for ivy round his dart, 
The reformed God now weaves 
A finer thyrsus of thy leaves. 

Scent to match thy rich perfume 
Chymic art did ne'er presume 
Through her quaint alembic strain ; 
None so sovran to the brain. 
Nature, that did in thee excel, 
Framed again no second smell. 


Roses, violets, but toys 
For the smaller sort of boys, 
Or for greener damsels meant ; 
Thou 'rt the only manly scent. 

Stinking'st of the stinking kind, 
Filth of the mouth and fog of the mind, 
Africa that brags her foyson, 
Breeds no such prodigious poison, 
Henbane, nightshade, both together, 
Hemlock, aconite — 

Nay rather, 
Plant divine, of rarest virtue, 
Blisters on the tongue would hurt you ; 
'T was but in a sort I blamed thee, 
None e'er prosper'd who defamed thee: 
Irony all, and feign'd abuse, 
Such as perplext lovers use 
At a need, when in despair 
To paint forth their fairest fair, 
Or in part but to express 
That exceeding comeliness 
Which their fancies does so strike, 
They borrow language of dislike, 
And instead of dearest miss, 
Honey, jewel, sweetheart, bliss, 
And, those forms of old admiring, 
Call her cockatrice and syren, 
Basilisk and all that 's evil, 
Witch, hyena, mermaid, devil, 
Ethiop wench, and blackamoor, 
Monkey, ape, and twenty more, 
Friendly traitress, loving foe : 
Not that she is truly so, 
But no other way they know 
A contentment to express, 
Borders so upon excess, 
That they do not rightly wot, 
Whether it be pain or not. 

Or, as men, constrain'd to part 
With what 's nearest to their heart, 
While their sorrow 's at the height, 
Lose discrimination quite, 
And their hasty wrath let fall, 
To appease their frantic gall, 
On the darling thing whatever, 
Whence they feel it death to sever, 
Though it be, as they, perforce, 
Guiltless of the sad divorce. 

For I must (nor let it grieve thee, 
Friendliest of plants, that I must) leave thee — 
For thy sake, Tobacco, I 
Would do anything but die ; 
And but seek to extend my days 
Long enough to sing thy praise. 
But, as she, who once has been 
A king's consort, is a queen 
Ever after; nor will bate 
Any tittle of her state, 
Though a widow, or divorced, 
So I, from thy converse forced, 
The old name and style retain 
(A right Katherine of Spain) ; 
And a seat, too, 'mongst the joys 
Of the blest tobacco boys: 
Where, though I by sour physician 
Am debarr'd the full fruition 
Of thy favours, I may catch 
Some collateral sweets, and snatch 
Sidelong odours, that give life 
Like glances from a neighbour's wife 
And still dwell in the by-places, 
And the suburbs of thy graces, 
And in thy borders take delight, 
An unconquer'd Canaanite. 

I wish you may think this a handsome fare- 

well to my " Friendly Traitress." Tobacco has 
been my evening comfort and my morning curse 
for these five years ; and you know how difficult 
it is from refraining to pick one's lips even, when 
it has become a habit. This poem is the only 
one which I have finished since so long as when 
I wrote Hester Savory. I have had it in my head 
to do it these two years, but Tobacco stood in 
its own light when it gave me headaches that 
prevented my singing its praises. Now you have 
got it, you have got all my store, for I have abso- 
lutely not another line. No more has Mary. We 
have nobody about us that cares for poetry, and 
who will rear grapes when he shall be the sole 
eater ? Perhaps if you encourage us to shew you 
what we may write, we may do something now 
and then before we absolutely forget the quan- 
tity of an English line for want of practice. The 
Tobacco, being a little in the way of Withers 
(whom Southey so much likes), perhaps you will 
somehow convey it to him with my kind remem- 
brances. Then everybody will have seen it that 
I wish to see it : I have sent it to Malta. 
I remain, dear W. and D., yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


[The Farewell to Tobacco was printed in the Reflector, No. 
IV, 1811 or 181 2, and then in the Works, 1818. Lamb's 
farewell was frequently repeated ; but it is a question whether 
he ever entirely left off smoking. [See letter of Mary Lamb 
to Sarah Stoddart, June 2, 1806.] Talfourd says that he did ; 
but the late Mrs. Coe, who remembered Lamb at Widford 


about 1827-1830, credited him with the company of a black 
clay pipe. It was Lamb who, when Dr. Parr asked him how 
he managed to emit so much smoke, replied that he had toiled 
after it as other men after virtue. And Macready relates that 
he remarked in his presence that he wished to draw his last 
breath through a pipe and exhale it in a pun. — E. V. Lucas.] 

[We read this interesting extract in a letter from Mary 
Lamb to Sarah Stoddart, early in November, 1805 : ] 

If I possibly can, I will prevail upon Charles to write to 
your brother by the conveyance you mention ; but he is so 
unwell, I almost fear the fortnight will slip away before I can 
get him in the right vein. Indeed, it has been sad and heavy 
times with us lately : when I am pretty well, his low spirits 
throws me back again ; and when he begins to get a little 
chearful, then I do the same kind office for him. I heartily 
wish for the arrival of Coleridge ; a few such evenings as we 
have sometimes passed with him would wind us up, and set 
us a-going again. 

Do not say anything, when you write, of our low spirits — 
it will vex Charles. You would laugh, or you would cry, per- 
haps both, to see us sit together, looking at each other with 
long and rueful faces, and saying, " how do you do ? " and 
" how do you do ? " and then we fall a-crying, and say we will 
be better on the morrow. He says we are like tooth-ache and 
his friend gum bile — which, though a kind of ease, is but an 
uneasy kind of ease, a comfort of rather an uncomfortable sort. 


November 10, 1805. 

Dear Hazlitt, — I was very glad to hear from 
you, and that your journey was so picturesque. 
We miss you, as we foretold we should. One or 
two things have happened, which are beneath the 
dignity of epistolary communication, but which, 
seated about our fire at night (the winter hands 


of pork have begun), gesture and emphasis might 
have talked into some importance. Something 
about Rickman's wife, for instance : how tall she 
is and that she visits prank' d out like a Queen of 
the May with green streamers — a good-natured 
woman, though, which is as much as you can 
expect from a friend's wife whom you got ac- 
quainted with a bachelor. Some things too about 
Monkey, which can't so well be written — how 
it set up for a fine lady, and thought it had got 
lovers, and was obliged to be convinc'd of its age 
from the parish register, where it was proved to 
be only twelve ; and an edict issued that it should 
not give itself airs yet these four years ; and how 
it got leave to be called Miss, by grace ; — these 
and such like hows were in my head to tell 
you, but who can write ? Also how Manning 's 
come to town in spectacles, and studies physic ; 
is melancholy, and seems to have something in 
his head, which he don't impart. Then, how I 
am going to leave off" smoking. 

O la ! your Leonardos of Oxford made my 
mouth water. I was hurried thro' the gallery, 
and they escaped me. What do I say? I was 
a Goth then, and should not have noticed them. 
I had not settled my notions of beauty. I have 
now forever ! — the small head, the [here is drawn 
a long narrow eye\ long eye, — that sort of peer- 
ing curve, the wicked Italian mischief ! the stick- 
at-nothing, Herodias' -daughter kind of grace. 
You understand me. But you disappoint me in 


passing over in absolute silence the Blenheim 
Leonardo. Didn't you see it? Excuse a lover's 
curiosity. I have seen no pictures of note since, 
except Mr. Dawe's gallery. 

It is curious to see how differently two great 
men treat the same subject, yet both excellent in 
their way ; for instance, Milton and Mr. Dawe. 
Mr. Dawe has chosen to illustrate the story of 
Samson exactly in the point of view in which 
Milton has been most happy : the interview be- 
tween the Jewish hero, blind and captive, and 
Dalilah. Milton has imagined his locks grown 
again, strong as horsehair or porcupine's bristles ; 
doubtless shaggy and black, as being hairs " which, 
of a nation armed, contained the strength." I 
don't remember he says black: but could Mil- 
ton imagine them to be yellow ? Do you ? Mr. 
Dawe with striking originality of conception has 
crowned him with a thin yellow wig, in colour 
precisely like Dyson's ; in curl and quantity re- 
sembling Mrs. Professor's; his limbs rather stout, 

— about such a man as my brother or Rickman, 

— but no Atlas nor Hercules, nor yet so bony as 
Dubois, the clown of Sadler's Wells. This was 
judicious, taking the spirit of the story rather 
than the fact ; for doubtless God could com- 
municate national salvation to the trust of flax 
and tow as well as hemp and cordage, and could 
draw down a temple with a golden tress as soon 
as with all the cables of the British navy. 

Miss Dawe is about a portrait of sulky Fanny 

Imlay, alias Godwin : but Miss Daweis of opinion 
that her subject is neither reserved nor sullen, and 
doubtless she will persuade the picture to be of 
the same opinion. However, the features are 
tolerably like. — Too much of Dawes ! 

Was n't you sorry for Lord Nelson ? I have 
followed him in fancy ever since I saw him walk- 
ing in Pall Mall (I was prejudiced against him 
before), looking just as a hero should look; and I 
have been very much cut about it indeed. He was 
the only pretence of a great man we had. Nobody 
is left of any name at all. His secretary died by 
his side. I imagined him, a Mr. Scott, to be the 
man you met at Hume's ; but I learn from Mrs. 
Hume that it is not the same. I met Mrs. H. 
one day, and agreed to go on the Sunday to tea, 
but the rain prevented us, and the distance. I have 
been to apologise, and we are to dine there the 
first fine Sunday. Strange perverseness ! I never 
went while you staid here, and now I go to find 
you ! What other news is there, Mary ? — What 
puns have I made in the last fortnight ? You never 
remember them. You have no relish for the 
comic. " Oh ! tell Hazlitt not to forget to send 
the American Farmer. I daresay it is n't so good 
as he fancies ; but a book 's a book." 

I have not heard from Wordsworth or from 
Malta since. Charles Kemble, it seems, enters 
into possession to-morrow. We sup at 109 Rus- 
sell Street this evening. I wish your brother 
would n't drink. It 's a blemish in the greatest 


characters. You send me a modern quotation 
poetical. How do you like this in an old play ? 
Vittoria Corombona, a spunky Italian lady, a 
Leonardo one, nicknamed the White Devil, being 
on her trial for murder, &c. — and questioned 
about seducing a duke from his wife and the 
State, makes answer, — 

Condemn you me for that the Duke did love me ? 
So may you blame some fair and crystal river, 
For that some melancholic distracted man 
Hath drown'd himself in it. 

Our ticket was a £,io. Alas ! ! are both yours 
blanks ? 

P. S. Godwin has asked after you several 

N. B. I shall expect a line from you, if but 
a bare line, whenever you write to Russell Street, 
and a letter often when you do not. I pay no 
postage ; but I will have consideration for you 
until Parliament time and franks. Luck to Ned 
Search and the new art of colouring. Monkey 
sends her love, and Mary especially. 
Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


[This is the first letter from Lamb to Hazlitt that has been 
preserved. The two men first met at Godwin's. Holcroft 
and Coleridge were disputing which was best — man as he is, 
or man as he ought to be. Lamb broke in with, " Give me 
man as he ought not to be." — E. V. Lucas.] 



November 15, 1805. 

Dear Manning, — Certainly you could not 
have called at all hours from two till ten, for we 
have been only out of an evening Monday and 
Tuesday in this week. But if you think you have, 
your thought shall go for the deed. We did pray 
for you on Wednesday night. Oysters unusually 
luscious — pearls of extraordinary magnitude 
found in them. I have made bracelets of them 
— given them in clusters to ladies. Last night 
we went out in despite, because you were not 
come at your hour. 

This night we shall be at home, so shall we 
certainly both Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and 
Wednesday. Take your choice, mind I don't say 
of one, but chuse which evening you will not, 
and come the other four. Doors open at five 
o'clock. Shells forced about nine. Every gentle- 
man smokes or not as he pleases. O ! I forgot, 
bring the £ 10, for fear you should lose it. 

C. L. 


January 15, 1806. 

Dear Hazlitt, — Godwin went to Johnson's 
yesterday about your business. Johnson would 
not come down or give any answer, but has pro- 
mised to open the manuscript and to give you an 


answer in one month. Godwin will punctually 
go again (Wednesday is Johnson's open day) yes- 
terday four weeks next ; i. e., in one lunar month 
from this time. Till when Johnson positively 
declines giving any answer. I wish you joy on 
ending your search. Mrs. H. was naming some- 
thing about a Life of Fawcett, to be by you 
undertaken : the great Fawcett, as she explain'd 
to Manning, when he ask'd, What Fawcett ? He 
innocently thought Fawcett the player. But Faw- 
cett the divine is known to many people, albeit 
unknown to the Chinese inquirer. I should think, 
if you liked it, and Johnson declined it, that Phil- 
lips is the man. He is perpetually bringing out 
biographies, Richardson, Wilkes, Foot, Lee 
Lewis, without number : little trim things in 
two easy volumes, price i is. the two, made up of 
letters to and from, scraps, posthumous trifles, an- 
ecdotes, and about forty pages of hard biography. 
You might dish up a Fawcettiad in three months, 
and ask sixty or eighty pounds for it. I should 
dare say that Phillips would catch at it. I wrote to 
you the other day in a great hurry. Did you get 
it ? This is merely a letter of business at Godwin's 

Lord Nelson is quiet at last. His ghost only 
keeps a slight fluttering in odes and elegies in 
newspapers, and impromptus, which could not be 
got ready before the funeral. 

As for news, — we have Miss Stoddart in our 
house ; she has been with us a fortnight and will 


stay a week or so longer. She is one of the few 
people who are not in the way when they are 
with you. No tidings of Coleridge. Fenwick is 
coming to town on Monday (if no kind angel 
intervene) to surrender himself to prison. He 
hopes to get the Rules of the Fleet. On the same, 
or nearly the same, day, Fell, my other quondam 
co-friend and drinker, will go to Newgate, and 
his wife and four children, I suppose, to the par- 
ish. Plenty of reflection and motives of gratitude 
to the wise Disposer of all things in us, whose 
prudent conduct has hitherto ensured us a warm 
fire and snug roof over our heads. Nullum numen 
abest si sit Prudentia. 

Alas ! Prudentia is in the last quarter of her 
tutelary shining over me. A little time and I 

But maybe I may, at last, hit upon some 

mode of collecting some of the vast superfluities 
of this money- voiding town. Much is to be got, 
and I don't want much. All I ask is time and 
leisure ; and I am cruelly off for them. 

When you have the inclination, I shall be very 
glad to have a letter from you. Your brother 
and Mrs. H., I am afraid, think hardly of us for 
not coming oftener to see them, but we are dis- 
tracted beyond what they can conceive with visit- 
ors and visitings. I never have an hour for my 
head to work quietly its own workings ; which 
you know is as necessary to the human system as 

Sleep, too, I can't get for these damn'd winds 

of a night : and without sleep and rest what 
should ensue? Lunacy. But I trust it won't. 
Yours, dear H., mad or sober, 

C. Lamb 


January 25, 1806. 

Dear Rickman, — You do not happen to have 
any place at your disposal which would suit a 
decayed Literatus? I do not much expect that you 
have, or that you will go much out of the way 
to serve the object, when you hear it is Fenwick. 
But the case is, by a mistaking of his turn, as they 
call it, he is reduced, I am afraid, to extremities, 
and would be extremely glad of a place in an 
office. Now it does sometimes happen that just 
as a man wants a place, a place wants him ; and 
though this is a lottery to which none but G. Bur- 
nett would choose to trust his all, there is no harm 
just to call in at Despair's office for a friend, and 
see if bis number is come up (Burnett's further 
case I enclose by way of episode). 

Now, if you should happen, or anybody you 
know, to want a hand, here is a young man of 
solid but not brilliant genius, who would turn 
his hand to the making out dockets, penning a 
manifesto, or scoring a tally, not the worse (I 
hope) for knowing Latin and Greek, and having 
in youth conversed with the philosophers. But 
from these follies I believe he is thoroughly awak- 


ened, and would bind himself by a terrible oath 
never to imagine himself an extraordinary genius 

Yours, &c, 

C. Lamb 


February I, 1806. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I have seen the books 
which you ordered, booked at the White Horse 
Inn, Cripplegate, by the Kendal waggon this day, 
1st Feb. 1 806; you will not fail to see after them 
in time. They are directed to you at Grasmere. 
We have made some alteration in the editions 
since your sister's directions. The handsome quarto 
Spenser which she authorized Mary to buy for 
£2. 1 2. 6, when she brought it home in triumph 
proved to be only the Faerie £>ueene : so we got 
them to take it again and I have procured instead 
a folio, which luckily contains, besides all the 
poems, the view of the state of Ireland, which is 
difficult to meet with. The Spenser and the Chau- 
cer, being noble old books, we did not think 
Stockdale's modern volumes would look so well 
beside them ; added to which I don' t know whether 
you are aware that the print is excessive small,same 
as Elegiac Extracts, or smaller, not calculated for 
eyes in age ; and Shakespeare is one of the last 
books one should like to give up, perhaps the one 
just before the dying service in a large prayer- 


book. So we have used our own discretion in pur- 
chasing Pope's fine quarto in six volumes, which 
may be read ad ultimam horam vitae. It is bound 
like law books (rather, half bound) and the law 
robe I have ever thought as comely and gentle- 
manly a garb as a book would wish to wear. The 
state of the purchase then stands thus, — 

Urry's Chaucer ^i 16 o 

Pope's Shakespeare 2 20 

Spenser 14 o 

Milton 1 5 o 

Packing case, &c. 3 6 


which your brother immediately repaid us. He 
has the bills for all (by his desire) except the 
Spenser, which we took no bill with (not look- 
ing to have our accounts audited) : so for that and 
the case he took a separate receipt for ijs. 6d. 

N. B. There is writing in the Shakespeare : 
but it is only variae lectiones, which some careful 
gentleman, the former owner, was at the pains to 
insert in a very neat hand from five commenta- 
tors. It is no defacement. The fault of Pope's 
edition is, that he has comically and coxcomb- 
ically marked the beauties : which is vile, as if 
you were to chalk up the cheek and across the 
nose of a handsome woman in red chalk to shew 
where the comeliest parts lay. But I hope the 
noble type and library appearance of the books 


will atone for that. With the books come cer- 
tain books and pamphlets of G. Dyer, presents or 
rather decoy-ducks of the poet to take in his thus- 
far obliged friends to buy his other works ; as he 
takes care to inform them in MS. notes to the 
title-pages, " G. Dyer, author of other books 
printed for Longman, &c." The books have lain 
at your dispatchful brother's a twelvemonth, to 
the great staling of most of the subjects. 

The three letters and what is else written at 
the beginning of the respective presents will ascer- 
tain the division of the property. If not, none of 
the donees, I dare say, will grudge a community 
of property in this case. We were constrained to 
pack 'em how we could, for room. Also there 
comes W. Hazlitt's book about Human Action, 
for Coleridge ; a little song book for Sarah Cole- 
ridge ; a box for Hartley which your brother was 
to have sent, but now devolved on us : I don't 
know from whom it came, but the things all to- 
gether were too much for Mr. (I 've forgot his 
name) to take charge of; a paraphrase on the King 
and^ueen of Hearts, of which I being the author 
beg Mr. Johnny Wordsworth's acceptance and 
opinion. Liberal criticism, as G. Dyer declares, 
I am always ready to attend to! — And that's all, 
I believe. 

N. B. I must remain debtor to Dorothy for two 
hundred pens: but really Miss Stoddart (women 
are great gulfs of stationery), who is going home 
to Salisbury and has been with us some weeks, 


has drained us to the very last pen ; by the time 
S. T. C. passes thro' London I reckon I shall be 
in full feather. No more news has transpired of 
that wanderer. I suppose he has found his way 
to some of his German friends. 

Apropos of Spenser (you will find him men- 
tioned a page or two before, near enough for an 
apropos), I was discoursing on poetry (as one 's apt 
to deceive one's self, and when a person is will- 
ing to talk of what one likes, to believe that he 
also likes the same : as lovers do) with a young 
gentleman of my office who is deep read in Anac- 
reon Moore, Lord Strangford, and the princi- 
pal modern poets, and I happen' d to mention 
Epithalamiums and that I could shew him a very 
fine one of Spenser's. At the mention of this, my 
gentleman, who is a very fine gentleman, and is 
brother to the Miss Evans who Coleridge so nar- 
rowly escaped marrying, pricked up his ears and 
exprest great pleasure, and begged that I would 
give him leave to copy it : he did not care how 
long it was (for I objected the length), he should 
be very happy to see anything by him. Then paus- 
ing, and looking sad, he ejaculated Poor Spencer ! 
I begged to know the reason of his ejaculation, 
thinking that Time had by this time softened 
down any calamities which the bard might have 
endured. — " Why, poor fellow ! " said he, " he 
has lost his wife!" "Lost his wife?" said I, 
"Who are you talking of?" "Why, Spencer," 
said he. " I 've read the monody he wrote on the 


occasion, and a very pretty thing it is." This led 
to an explanation (it could be delay' d no longer) 
that the sound Spenser, which, when poetry is 
talk'd of, generally excites an image of an old 
bard in a ruff, and sometimes with it dim notions 
of Sir Philip Sidney and perhaps Lord Burleigh, 
had raised in my gentleman a quite contrary im- 
age of the Honourable William Spencer, who has 
translated some things from the German very 
prettily, which are publish'd with Lady Di. Beau- 
clerk's designs. 

Nothing like defining of terms when we talk. 
What blunders might I have fallen into of quite 
inapplicable criticism, but for this timely explan- 
ation ! 

N. B. At the beginning of Edm. Spenser (to 
prevent mistakes) I have copied from my own 
copy, and primarily from a book of Chalmers on 
Shakspeare, a sonnet of Spenser's never printed 
among his poems. It is curious as being manly 
and rather Miltonic, and as a sonnet of Spenser's 
with nothing in it about love or knighthood. I 
have no room for remembrances ; but I hope 
our doing your commission will prove we do not 
quite forget you. 

C. L. 


[In this letter Lamb refers to Edmund Spenser, and Will- 
iam Robert Spencer.] 



February 19, 1806. 

Dear H., — Godwin has just been here in his 
way from Johnson's. Johnson has had a fire in 
his house ; this happened about five weeks ago ; 
it was in the daytime, so it did not burn the house 
down, but did so much damage that the house 
must come down to be repaired : his nephew 
that we met on Hampstead Hill put it out ; well, 
this fire has put him so back that he craves one 
more month before he gives you an answer. 

I will certainly goad Godwin (if necessary) to 
go again this very day four weeks ; but I am con- 
fident he will want no goading. 

Three or four most capital auctions of pic- 
tures advertised. In May, Welbore Ellis Agar's, 
the first private collection in England, so Hol- 
croft says. In March, Sir George Young's in 
Stratford Place (where Cosway lives), and a Mr. 
Hulse's at Blackheath, both very capital collec- 
tions, and have been announc'd for some months. 
Also the Marquis of Lansdowne's pictures in 
March ; and though inferior to mention, lastly, 
the Tructhsessian gallery. Don't your mouth 
water to be here ? 

T'other night Loftus called, whom we have 
not seen since you went before. We meditate 
a stroll next Wednesday, fast-day. He happened 
to light upon Mr. Holcroft's wife and daughter, 
their first visit at our house. 


Your brother called last night. We keep up 
our intimacy. He is going to begin a large Ma- 
donna and child from Mrs. H. and baby. I fear 
he goes astray after ignes fatui. He is a clever 
man. By the by, I saw a miniature of his as far 
excelling any in his shew cupboard (that of your 
sister not excepted) as that shew cupboard excels 
the shew things you see in windows — an old 
woman — damn her name ! — but most super- 
lative; he has it to clean — I '11 ask him the name 
— but the best miniature I ever saw, equal to 
Cooper and them fellows. But for oil pictures ! — 
what has he [to] do with Madonnas ? if the Vir- 
gin Mary were alive and visitable, he would not 
hazard himself in a Covent Garden pit-door crowd 
to see her. It an't his style of beauty, is it ? — 
But he will go on painting things he ought not 
to paint, and not painting things he ought to 

Manning is not gone to China, but talks of 
going this spring. God forbid ! 

Coleridge not heard of. 

I, going to leave off smoke. In meantime am 
so smoky with last night's ten pipes that I must 
leave off. 

Mary begs her kind remembrances. 

Pray write to us. 

This is no letter, but I supposed you grew 
anxious about Johnson. 

N. B. — Have taken a room at three shillings 
a week, to be in between five and eight at night, 


to avoid my nocturnal, alias knock-eternal, visitors. 
The first-fruits of my retirement has been a farce 
which goes to manager to-morrow. Wish my 
ticket luck. 

God bless you, and do write. 

Yours, fumosissimus, C. Lamb 


January — February, 1806. 

Dear H., — I send you Tingry [Painter's and 
Varnisbers Guide] (pro[mising you instruction] 
and [some] entertainment). I should not have 
delayed it [so] long, but have been waiting for 
Loftus's commission. I have made several graph- 
ical tours round and in the metropolis without 
discovering any trees that I would venture to 
recommend ; id est, I have gone no farther than 
the shop [window], for such is my modesty, that 
if I explored internal se[crets I] should be laying 
out complimentary shillings rather than give 
trouble without remuneration. I have sent you 
a pretty emblematical thing which I happen to 
have in my possession : you may get some hints 
from it, though perhaps you may think it too 
tame ; not sufficiently romantic, — the boughs 
not shooting fantastically enough, &c. But to 
supply poetry and wildness, you may read the 
American Farmer over again. Nevertheless, if you 
desire it, I will put my head within the shops; 
only speak your wants. 


N. B. — If I do not hear in four days that you 
have received Tingry, &c, safe, I shall put you 
to the expense of a letter to ascertain whether 
this parcel has been deliver'd to you. 
Yours ever, 

C. L. 

Johnson shall not be forgot at his month's end. 


[March, 1806.] 

My dear Sarah, — No intention of forfeiting 
my promise, but mere want of time, has pre- 
vented me from continuing my journal. You 
seem pleased with the long, stupid one I sent, 
and, therefore, I shall certainly continue to write 
at every opportunity. The reason why I have 
not had any time to spare, is because Charles 
has given himself some hollidays after the hard 
labour of finishing his farce, and, therefore, I have 
had none of the evening leisure I promised my- 
self. Next week he promises to go to work again. 
I wish he may happen to hit upon some new plan, 
to his mind, for another farce : when once be- 
gun, I do not fear his perseverance, but the hol- 
lidays he has allowed himself, I fear, will unset- 
tle him. I look forward to next week with the 
same kind of anxiety I did to the first entrance 
at the new lodging. We have had, as you know, 


so many teasing anxieties of late, that I have got 
a kind of habit of foreboding that we shall never 
be comfortable, and that he will never settle 
to work : which I know is wrong, and which 
I will try with all my might to overcome — for 
certainly, if I could but see things as they really 
are, our prospects are considerably improved since 
the memorable day of Mrs. Fenwick's last visit. 
I have heard nothing of that good lady, or of 
the Fells, since you left us. 

We have been visiting a little — to Norris's, 
to Godwin's ; and last night we did not come 
home from Captain Burney's till two o'clock : 
the Saturday night was changed to Friday, because 
Rickman could not be there to-night. We had 
the best tea things, and the litter all cleared away, 
and everything as handsome as possible — Mrs. 
Rickman being of the party. Mrs. Rickman is 
much increased in size since we saw her last, and 
the alteration in her strait shape wonderfully im- 
proves her. Phillips was there, and Charles had 
a long batch of Cribbage with him : and, upon 
the whole, we had the most chearful evening 
I have known there a long time. To-morrow, 
we dine at Holcroft's. These things rather fatigue 
me ; but I look for a quiet week next week, and 
hope for better times. We have had Mrs. Brooks 
and all the Martins, and we have likewise been 
there ; so that I seem to have been in a continual 
bustle lately. I do not think Charles cares so 
much for the Martins as he did, which is a fact 


you will be glad to hear — though you must 
not name them when you write : always remem- 
ber, when I tell you anything about them, not to 
mention their names in return. 

We have had a letter from your brother, by the 
same mail as yours, I suppose ; he says he does 
not mean to return till summer, and that is all 
he says about himself; his letter being entirely 
filled with a long story about Lord Nelson — but 
nothing more than what the newspapers have 
been full of, such as his last words, &c. Why 
does he tease you with so much good advice ? is it 
merely to fill up his letters as he filled ours with 
Lord Nelson's exploits ? or has any new thing 
come out against you ? has he discovered Mr. 
Curse-a-rat's correspondence ? I hope you will 
not write to that news-sending gentleman any 
more. I promised never more to give my advice, 
but one may be allowed to hope a little ; and I also 
hope you will have something to tell me soon 
about Mr. W[hite] : have you seen him yet? I 
am sorry to hear your Mother is not better, but 
I am in a hoping humour just now, and I cannot 
help hoping that we shall all see happier days. 
The bells are just now ringing for the taking of 
the Cape of Good Hope. 

I have written to Mrs. Coleridge to tell her that 
her husband is at Naples ; your brother slightly 
named his being there, but he did not say that he 
had heard from him himself. Charles is very busy 
at the Office ; he will be kept there to-day till 

21 I 

seven or eight o'clock : and he came home very 
smoky and drinky last night ; so that I am afraid a 
hard day's work will not agree very well with him. 

dear ! what shall I say next ? Why this 
I will say next, that I wish you was with me ; I 
have been eating a mutton chop all alone, and 
I have been just looking in the pint porter pot, 
which I find quite empty, and yet I am still very 
dry. If you was with me, we would have a glass 
of brandy and water ; but it is quite impossible 
to drink brandy and water by oneself; therefore, 
I must wait with patience till the kettle boils. I 
hate to drink tea alone, it is worse than dining 
alone. We have got a fresh cargo of biscuits from 
Captain Burney's. I have 

March 14. — Here I was interrupted; and 
a long, tedious interval has intervened, during 
which I have had neither time nor inclination to 
write a word. The Lodging — that pride and 
pleasure of your heart and mine — is given up, 
and here he is again — Charles, I mean — as un- 
settled and as undetermined as ever. When he 
went to the poor lodging, after the hollidays I 
told you he had taken, he could not endure the 
solitariness of them, and I had no rest for the sole 
of my foot till I promised to believe his solemn 
protestations that he could and would write as 
well at home as there. Do you believe this ? 

1 have no power over Charles : he will do — 
what he will do. But I ought to have some little 
influence over myself. And therefore I am most 


manfully resolving to turn over a new leaf with 
my own mind. Your visit to us, though not 
a very comfortable one to yourself, has been of 
great use to me. I set you up in my fancy as a kind 
of thing that takes an interest in my concerns ; and 
I hear you talking to me, and arguing the mat- 
ter very learnedly, when I give way to despond- 
ency. You shall hear a good account of me, and 
the progress I make in altering my fretful tem- 
per to a calm and quiet one. It is but being once 
thorowly convinced one is wrong, to make one 
resolve to do so no more ; and I know my dismal 
faces have been almost as great a drawback upon 
Charles's comfort, as his feverish, teazing ways 
have been upon mine. Our love for each other 
has been the torment of our lives hitherto. I am 
most seriously intending to bend the whole force 
of my mind to counteract this, and I think I see 
some prospect of success. 

Of Charles ever bringing any work to pass at 
home, I am very doubtful ; and of the farce suc- 
ceeding, I have little or no hope ; but if I could 
once get into the way of being chearful myself, 
I should see an easy remedy in leaving town and 
living cheaply, almost wholly alone ; but till I do 
find we really are comfortable alone, and by our- 
selves, it seems a dangerous experiment. We shall 
certainly stay where we are till after next Christ- 
mas ; and in the mean time, as I told you before, 
all my whole thoughts shall be to change myself 
into just such a chearful soul as you would be in 


a lone house, with no companion but your bro- 
ther, if you had nothing to vex you — nor no 
means of wandering after Curse-a-rats . 

Do write soon : though I write all about 
myself, I am thinking all the while of you, and 
I am uneasy at the length of time it seems since I 
heard from you. Your Mother, and Mr. White, 
is running continually in my head; and this second 
winter makes me think how cold, damp, and for- 
lorn your solitary house will feel to you. I would 
your feet were perched up again on our fender. 

Manning is not yet gone. Mrs. Holcroft is 
brought to bed. Mrs. Reynolds has been confined 
at home with illness, but is recovering. 

God bless you. 

Yours affectionately, 

M. Lamb 


March, 1806. 

Dear Rickman, — I send you some papers 
about a salt-water soap, for which the inventor is 
desirous of getting a Parliamentary reward, like 
Dr. Jenner. Whether such a project be feasible 
I mainly doubt, taking for granted the equal util- 
ity. I should suppose the usual way of paying 
such projectors is by patents and contracts. The 
patent, you see, he has got. A contract he is 
about with the Navy Board. Meantime, the pro- 
jector is hungry. Will you answer me two ques- 


tions, and return them with the papers as soon 
as you can ? Imprimis, is there any chance of suc- 
cess in application to Parliament for a reward ? 
Did you ever hear of the invention ? You see its 
benefits and saving to the nation (always the first 
motive with a true projector) are feelingly set 
forth : the last paragraph but one of the esti- 
mate, in enumerating the shifts poor seamen are 
put to, even approaches to the pathetic. But, 
agreeing to all he says, is there the remotest chance 
of Parliament giving the projector anything ; and 
when should application be made, now or after 
a report (if he can get it) from the Navy Board ? 

Secondly, let the infeasibility be as great as you 
will, you will oblige me by telling me the way 
of introducing such an application to Parliament, 
without buying over a majority of members, which 
is totally out of the projector's power. I vouch 
nothing for the soap myself; for I always wash 
in fresh water, and find it answer tolerably well 
for all purposes of cleanliness ; nor do I know the 
projector ; but a relation of mine has put me on 
writing to you, for whose parliamentary know- 
ledge he has great veneration. 

P. S. The Capt. and Mrs. Burney and Phillips 
take their chance at cribbage here on Wednes- 
day. Will you and Mrs. R. join the party ? Mary 
desires her compliments to Mrs. R., and joins in 
the invitation. 

Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 



March 15, 1806. 

Dear H., — I am a little surprised at no letter 
from you. This day week, to wit, Saturday, the 
8th of March, 1806, I booked off by the Wem 
coach, Bull and Mouth Inn, directed to you, at 
the Rev. Mr. Hazlitt's, Wem, Shropshire, a parcel 
containing, besides a book, &c, a rare print, which 
I take to be a Titian ; begging the said W. H. 
to acknowledge the receipt thereof; which he 
not having done, I conclude the said parcel to 
be lying at the inn, and may be lost ; for which 
reason, lest you may be a Wales-hunting at this 
instant, I have authorised any of your family, 
whosoever first gets this, to open it, that so pre- 
cious a parcel may not moulder away for want 
of looking after. What do you in Shropshire 
when so many fine pictures are a-going, a-going 
every day in London ? 

Monday I visit the Marquis of Lansdowne's, 
in Berkeley Square. Catalogue is. bd. Leonardos 
in plenty. Some other day this week I go to see 
Sir Wm. Young's, in Stratford Place. Hulse's, of 
Blackheath, are also to be sold this month; and in 
May, the first private collection in Europe, Wel- 
bore Ellis Agar's. And there are you, pervert- 
ing nature in lying landscapes, filched from old 
rusty Titians, such as I can scrape up here to send 
you, with an additament from Shropshire nature 
thrown in to make the whole look unnatural. 


I am afraid of your mouth watering when I 
tell you that Manning and I got into Angerstein's 
on Wednesday. MonDieu! Such Claudes! Four 
Claudes bought for more than ^10,000 (those 
who talk of Wilson being equal to Claude are 
either mainly ignorant or stupid) ; one of these 
was perfectly miraculous. What colours short of 
bona fide sunbeams it could be painted in, I am 
not earthly colourman enough to say ; but I did 
not think it had been in the possibility of things. 
Then, a music-piece by Titian — a thousand- 
pound picture — five figures standing behind a 
piano, the sixth playing ; none of the heads, as 
M. observed, indicating great men, or affecting 
it, but so sweetly disposed ; all leaning separate 
ways, but so easy — like a flock of some divine 
shepherd ; the colouring, like the economy of the 
picture, so sweet and harmonious — as good as 
Shakspeare's ^Twelfth Night, — almost, that is. It 
will give you a love of order, and cure you of 
restless, fidgety passions for a week after — more 
musical than the music which it would, but can- 
not, yet in a manner does, show. I have no room 
for the rest. Let me say, Angerstein sits in a room 

— his study (only that and the library are shown) 

— when he writes a common letter, as I am 
doing, surrounded with twenty pictures worth 
^60,000. What a luxury ! Apicius and Helio- 
gabalus, hide your diminished heads ! 

Yours, my dear painter, 

C. Lamb 


May 10, 1806. 

My dear Manning, — I did n't know what your 
going was till I shook a last fist with you, and 
then 't was just like having shaken hands with 
a wretch on the fatal scaffold, and when you are 
down the ladder, you can never stretch out to 
him again. Mary says you are dead, and there's 
nothing to do but to leave it to time to do for 
us in the end what it always does for those who 
mourn for people in such a case. But she'll see 
by your letter you are not quite dead. A little 

kicking and agony, and then . Martin Burney 

took me out a-walking that evening, and we talked 
of Mister Manning ; and then I came home and 
smoked for you ; and at twelve o'clock came home 
Mary and Monkey Louisa from the play, and there 
was more talk and more smoking, and they all 
seemed first-rate characters, because they knew 
a certain person. But what 's the use of talking 
about 'em. 

By the time you '11 have made your escape from 
the Kalmuks, you '11 have staid so long I shall 
never be able to bring to your mind who Mary 
was, who will have died about a year before, nor 
who the Holcrofts were ! Me perhaps you will 
mistake for Phillips, or confound me with Mr. 
Dawe, because you saw us together. Mary (whom 
you seem to remember yet) is not quite easy that 
she had not a formal parting from you. I wish 


it had so happened. But you must bring her 
a token, a shawl or something, and remember a 
sprightly little mandarin for our mantel-piece, as 
a companion to the child I am going to purchase 
at the Museum. She says you saw her writings 
about the other day, and she wishes you should 
know what they are. She is doing for Godwin's 
bookseller twenty of Shakspear's plays, to be made 
into children's tales. Six are already done by her, 
to wit, The Tempest, Winter s Tale, Midsummer 
Night, Much Ado, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and 
Cymbeline: The Merchant of Venice is in forwardness. 
I have done Othello and Macbeth, and mean to do 
all the tragedies. I think it will be popular among 
the little people. Besides money, — it is to bring 
in sixty guineas. Mary has done them capitally, 
I think you 'd think. These are the humble 
amusements we propose, while you are gone to 
plant the cross of Christ among barbarous pagan 

Quam homo homini praestat ! but then, perhaps, 
you'll get murder'd, and we shall die in our beds 
with a fair literary reputation. Be sure, if you 
see any of those people whose heads do grow be- 
neath their shoulders, that you make a draught 
of them. It will be very curious. O Manning, I 
am serious to sinking almost, when I think that 
all those evenings which you have made so pleas- 
ant are gone perhaps forever. Four years you talk 
of, maybe ten, and you may come back and find 
such alterations ! Some circumstance may grow 


up to you or to me, that may be a bar to the re- 
turn of any such intimacy. I daresay all this is 
Hum, and that all will come back ; but indeed 
we die many deaths before we die, and I am al- 
most sick when I think that such a hold as I had 
of you is gone. I have friends, but some of 'em 
are changed. Marriage, or some circumstance, 
rises up to make them not the same. But I felt 
sure of you. And that last token you gave me of 
expressing a wish to have my name joined with 
yours, you know not how it affected me : like 
a legacy. 

God bless you in every way you can form a wish. 
May He give you health and safety, and the 
accomplishment of all your objects, and return 
you again to us, to gladden some fireside or other 
(I suppose we shall be moved from the Temple). 
I will nurse the remembrance of your steadiness 
and quiet, which used to infuse something like 
itself into our nervous minds. Mary called you 
our ventilator. Farewell, and take her best wishes 
and mine. 

One thing more, — when you get to Canton, 
you will most likely see a young friend of mine, 
Inspector of Teas, named Ball. He is a very good 
fellow and I should like to have my name talked 
of in China. Give my kind remembrances to the 
same Ball. 


C. L. 


[On one of the margins is added:] 
I have made strict inquiries through my friend 
Thompson as to your affairs with the Company. 
If there had been a committee yesterday an order 
would have been sent to the captain to draw on 
them for your passage money, but there was no 
committee. But in the secretary's orders to re- 
ceive you on board, it was specified that the 
Company would defray your passage, all the 
orders about you to the supercargoes are certainly 
in your ship. Here I will manage anything you 
may want done. What can I add but take care 
of yourself. We drink tea with the Holcrofts 


[Addressed to " Mr. Manning, Passenger on Board the 
Thames, East Indiaman, Portsmouth." 

Manning sailed for China this month. He did not return 
to England until 1817. His nominal purpose was to practise 
medicine there, not to spread Christianity, as Lamb suggests, 
— probably in fun. 

This is Manning's reply to Lamb's letter, — 

Dear Lamb, — As we are not sailed yet, and I have a few minutes, 
why should not I give you a line to say that I received your kind letter 
yesterday, and shall read it again before I have done with it. I am sorry 
I had not time to call on Mary, but I did not even call on my own father, 
and he ' s seventy and loves me like a father. I don' t know that you can 
do anything for me at the India House : if you hear anything there about 
me, communicate it to Mr. Crabtree, 13, Newgate Street. I am not 
dead, nor dying — some people go into Yorkshire for four [years] , and I 
have no currant jelly aboard. Tell Holcroft I received his kind letter. 
T. Manning, for ever. — E. V. Lucas.] 



June 2, 1806. 

My dear Sarah, — You say truly that I have 
sent you too many make-believe letters. I do 
not mean to serve you so again, if I can help it. 
I have been very ill for some days past with the 
toothache. Yesterday, I had it drawn ; and I feel 
myself greatly relieved, but far from easy, for my 
head and my jaws still ache ; and, being unable 
to do any business, I would wish to write you 
a long letter, to atone for my former offences ; 
but I feel so languid, that I am afraid wishing is 
all I can do. 

I am sorry you are so worried with business ; 
and I am still more sorry for your sprained ancle. 
You ought not to walk upon it. What is the mat- 
ter between you and your good-natured maid you 
used to boast of? and what the devil is the matter 
with your Aunt ? You say she is discontented. 
You must bear with them as well as you can ; 
for, doubtless, it is your poor Mother's teazing 
that puts you all out of sorts. I pity you from 
my heart. 

We cannot come to see you this summer, nor 
do I think it advisable to come and incommode 
you, when you for the same expence could come 
to us. Whenever you feel yourself disposed to 
run away from your troubles, come up to us again. 
I wish it was not such a long, expensive journey, 


then you could run backwards and forwards every 
month or two. 

I am very sorry you still hear nothing from 
Mr. White. I am afraid that is all at an end. 
What do you intend to do about Mr. Turner ? 

I believe Mr. Rickman is well again, but I 
have not been able to get out lately to enquire, 
because of my toothache. Louisa Martin is quite 
well again. 

William Hazlitt, the brother of him you know, 
is in town. I believe you have heard us say we 
like him ? He came in good time ; for the loss 
of Manning made Charles very dull, and he likes 
Hazlitt better than anybody, except Manning. 
My toothache has moped Charles to death : you 
know how he hates to see people ill. 

Mrs. Reynolds has been this month past at 
Deptford, so that I never know when Monday 
comes. I am glad you have got your Mother's 

My Tales are to be published in separate story- 
books ; I mean, in single stories, like the chil- 
dren's little shilling books. I cannot send you 
them in manuscript, because they are all in the 
Godwins' hands ; but one will be published very 
soon, and then you shall have it all in print. I go 
on very well, and have no doubt but I shall always 
be able to hit upon some such kind of job to 
keep going on. I think I shall get fifty pounds 
a year at the lowest calculation ; but as I have not 
yet seen any money of my own earning, for we do 


not expect to be paid till Christmas, I do not feel 
the good fortune, that has so unexpectedly be- 
fallen me, half so much as I ought to do. But 
another year, no doubt, I shall perceive it. 

When I write again, you will hear tidings of 
the farce, for Charles is to go in a few days to 
the managers to inquire about it. But that must 
now be a next-year's business too, even if it does 
succeed; so it 's all looking forward, and no 
prospect of present gain. But that 's better than 
no hopes at all, either for present or future 

Charles has written Macbeth, Othello, King 
Lear, and has begun Hamlet ; you would like to 
see us, as we often sit, writing on one table (but 
not on one cushion sitting), like Hermia and 
Helena in the Midsummer Night's Dream ; or, 
rather, like an old literary Darby and Joan : I 
taking snuff, and he groaning all the while, and 
saying he can make nothing of it, which he 
always says till he has finished, and then he finds 
out he has made something of it. 

If I tell you that you Widow-Blackacreise, you 
must tell me I Tale-ise, for my Tales seem to be 
all the subject matter I write about ; and when 
you see them, you will think them poor little 
baby-stories to make such a talk about ; but I have 
no news to send, nor nothing, in short, to say that 
is worth paying twopence for. I wish I could 
get franks, then I should not care how short or 
stupidly I wrote. 


Charles smokes still, and will smoke to the end 
of the chapter. 

Martin [Burney] has just been here. My Tales 
[again) and Charles's Farce has made the boy 
mad to turn author ; and he has written a Farce, 
and he has made the Winter's Tale into a story ; 
but what Charles says of himself is really true 
of Martin, for he can make nothing at all of it : 
and I have been talking very eloquently this 
morning to convince him that nobody can write 
farces, &c, under thirty years of age. And so I 
suppose he will go home and new model his farce. 

What is Mr. Turner? and what is likely to 
come of him ? and how do you like him ? and 
what do you intend to do about it ? I almost 
wish you to remain single till your Mother dies, 
and then come and live with us ; and we would 
either get you a husband, or teach you how to 
live comfortably without. I think I should like 
to have you always to the end of our lives living 
with us ; and I do not know any reason why that 
should not be, except for the great fancy you 
seem to have for marrying, which after all is but 
a hazardous kind of an affair : but, however, do 
as you like ; every man knows best what pleases 
himself best. 

I have known many single men I should have 
liked in my life {if it had suited theni) for a hus- 
band : but very few husbands have I ever wished 
was mine, which is rather against the state in 
general ; but one never is disposed to envy wives 


their good husbands. So much for marrying — 
but, however, get married, if you can. 

I say we shall not come and see you, and I feel 
sure we shall not : but, if some sudden freak was 
to come into our wayward heads, could you at all 
manage ? — Your Mother we should not mind, 
but I think still it would be so vastly inconven- 
ient. — I am certain we shall not come, and yet 
you may tell me, when you write, if it would be 
horribly inconvenient if we did ; and do not tell 
me any lies, but say truly whether you would 
rather we did or not. 

God bless you, my dearest Sarah ! I wish, for 
your sake, I could have written a very amusing 
letter ; but do not scold, for my head aches sadly. 
Don't mind my headache, for before you get 
this it will be well, being only from the pains of 
my jaws and teeth. Farewell. 

Yours affectionately, M. Lamb 


[This letter contains the first mention to Sarah Stoddart of 
William Hazlitt, who was shortly to put an end to the claims 
both of Mr. White and Mr. Turner. 

The Tales from Shakespear, although mainly Mary Lamb's 
book, did not bear her name for many years, not until after 
her brother's death. Her connection with it was, however, 
made public in more than one literary year-book of her day. 
Originally they were to be unsigned, but Godwin " cheated " 
Lamb into putting a name to them (see Letter of Jan. 29, 
1807). The single stories, which Mrs. Godwin issued at six- 
pence each, are now excessively rare. The ordinary first edi- 
tion in two volumes is a valuable possession, much desired by 
collectors. — E. V. Lucas.] 



June 26, 1806. 

Dear Wordsworth, — We got the six pounds 
safe in your sister's letters ; are pleased, you may 
be sure, with the good news of Mrs. W. ; hope 
all is well over by this time. " A fine boy ! — 
have you any more ? one more and a girl — poor 
copies of me;" vide Mr. H. a farce which the 
proprietors have done me the honor — but I will 
set down Mr. Wroughton's own words. 

N. B. The ensuing letter was sent in answer to 
one which I wrote begging to know if my piece 
had any chance, as I might make alterations, &c. 
I writing on the Monday, there comes this letter 
on the Wednesday. Attend. 

[Copy of a Letter from Mr, R. Wroughton.] 

Sir, — Your piece of Mr. H., I am desired 
to say, is accepted at Drury Lane Theatre, by 
the proprietors, and, if agreeable to you, will be 
brought forwards when the proper opportunity 
serves. The piece shall be sent to you for your 
alterations in the course of a few days, as the same 
is not in my hands, but with the proprietors. 

I am, sir, 
Your obedient servant, 

Richard Wroughton. 

(Dated) June 11, 1806. 

On the following Sunday Mr. Tobin comes. The 


scent of a manager's letter brought him. He 
would have gone further any day on such a busi- 
ness. I read the letter to him. He deems it 
authentic and peremptory. Our conversation nat- 
urally fell upon pieces, different sorts of pieces ; 
what is the best way of offering a piece, how far 
the caprice of managers is an obstacle in the way 
of a piece, how to judge of the merits of a piece, 
how long a piece may remain in the hands of 
the managers before it is acted ; and my piece, 
and your piece, and my poor brother's piece — 
my poor brother was all his life endeavouring to 
get a piece accepted. 

I am not sure that when my poor brother be- 
queathed the care of his pieces to Mr. James To- 
bin he did not therein convey a legacy which in 
some measure mollified the otherwise first stupe- 
factions of grief. It can't be expected that the 
present Earl Nelson passes all his time in water- 
ing the laurels of the admiral with Right Rev- 
erend Tears. Certainly he steals a fine day now 
and then to plot how to lay out the grounds and 
mansion at Burnham most suitably to the late earl's 
taste, if he had lived, and how to spend the hun- 
dred thousand pound Parliament has given him 
in erecting some little neat monument to his 

Mr. H. — I wrote that in mere wantonness 
of triumph. Have nothing more to say about it. 
The managers, I thank, my stars, have decided 
its merits forever. They are the best judges of 


pieces, and it would be insensible in me to affect 
a false modesty after the very flattering letter 
which I have received and the ample — 


I think this will be as good a pattern for 
orders as I can think on. A little thin flowery 
border round, neat not gaudy, and the Drury 
Lane Apollo with the harp at the top. Or shall 
I have no Apollo ? — simply nothing ? Or per- 
haps the Comic Muse ? 

The same form, only I think without the 
Apollo, will serve for the pit and galleries. I think 
it will be best to write my name at full length ; 
but then if I give away a great many, that will be 
tedious. Perhaps Ch. Lamb will do. BOXES, 
now I think on it, I '11 have in Capitals. The rest 
in a neat Italian hand. Or better perhaps, TBOjCfc^, 
in old English character, like Madoc or Thalaba ? 

I suppose you know poor Mountagu has lost 
his wife. That has been the reason for my send- 


ing off all we have got of yours separately. I 
thought it a bad time to trouble him. The tea, 
25 lb. in five 5 lb. papers, two sheets to each, with 
the chocolate, which we were afraid Mrs. W. 
would want, comes in one box and the hats in 
a small one. I booked them off last night by the 
Kendal waggon. There comes with this letter 
(no, it comes a day or two earlier) a letter for 
you from the doctor at Malta, about Coleridge, 
just received. Nothing of certainty, you see, only 
that he is not at Malta. 

We supt with the Clarksons one night. Mrs. 
Clarkson pretty well. Mr. C. somewhat fidgety, 
but a good man. The baby [Mrs. Godwin] has 
been on a visit to Mrs. Charlotte Smith, novelist 
and morals-trainer, but is returned. 

Mary is just stuck fast in All's Well that Ends 
Well. She complains of having to set forth so 
many female characters in boys' clothes. She 
begins to think Shakspear must have wanted 
imagination. I, to encourage her (for she often 
faints in the prosecution of her great work), flatter 
her with telling her how well such a play and such 
a play is done. But she is stuck fast, and I have 
been obliged to promise to assist her. To do this 
it will be necessary to leave off tobacco. But 
I had some thoughts of doing that before, for I 
sometimes think it does not agree with me. 

W. Hazlitt is in town. I took him to see a 
very pretty girl professedly, where there were two 
young girls — the very head and sum of the Girl- 


ery was two young girls ; they neither laughed 
nor sneered nor giggled nor whispered, but they 
were young girls ; and he sat and frowned blacker 
and blacker, indignant that there should be such 
a thing as youth and beauty, till he tore me away 
before supper in perfect misery and owned he 
could not bear young girls. They drove him mad. 
So I took him home to my old nurse, where 
he recover'd perfect tranquillity. Independent 
of this, and as I am not a young girl myself, he 
is a great acquisition to us. He is (rather impru- 
dently, I think) printing a political pamphlet on 
his own account, and will have to pay for the 
paper, &c. The first duty of an author, I take it, 
is never to pay anything. But non cuivis atttgit 
adire Corinthum. The managers, I thank my stars, 
have settled that question for me. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


August 29, 1806. 

My dear Miss Wordsworth, — After I had put 
my letter in the post yesterday I was uneasy all the 
night because of some few expressions relative to 
poor Coleridge — I mean, in saying I wished your 
brother would come to town and that I wished 
your brother would consult Mr. Southey. I am 
very sure your brother will take no step in con- 
sequence of any foolish advice that I can give 


him, so far I am easy, but the painful reflections 
I have had during a sleepless night has induced 
me to write merely to quiet myself, because I 
have felt ever since, that in the present situa- 
tion of Coleridge, returned after an absence of 
two years, and feeling a reluctance to return to 
his family, I ought not to throw in the weight 
of a hair in advising you or your brother, and 
that I ought not to have so much as named to 
you his reluctance to return to Keswick, for so 
little is it in my power to calculate on his actions 
that perhaps in a few days he may be on his re- 
turn home. 

You, my dear friend, will perfectly understand 
me that I do not mean that I might not freely 
say to you anything that is upon my mind — but 
[the] truth is, my poor mind is so weak that I 
never dare trust my own judgement in anything: 
what I think one hour a fit of low spirits makes 
me unthink the next. Yesterday I wrote, anx- 
iously longing for Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. 
Southey to endeavour to bring Mrs. C. to consent 
to a separation, and to-day I think of the letter 
I received from Mrs. Coleridge, telling me, as 
joyful news, that her husband is arrived, and I feel 
it very wrong in me even in the remotest degree 
to do anything to prevent her seeing that hus- 
band — she and her husband being the only peo- 
ple who ought to be concerned in the affair. 

All that I have said, or meant to say, you will 
perfectly understand, it being nothing more than 


to beg you will consider both my letter to-day 
and yesterday as if you had not read either, they 
being both equally the effect of low spirits, 
brought on by the fatigue of Coleridge's conver- 
sation and the anxious care even to misery which 
I have felt since he has been here, that something 
could be done to make such an admirable crea- 
ture happy. Nor has, I assure you, Mrs. Cole- 
ridge been without her full share in adding to my 
uneasiness. They say she grows fat and is very 
happy — and people say I grow fat and look 
happy — 

It is foolish to tease you about my anxieties, 
you will feel quite enough on the subject your- 
self, and your little ones are all ill, and no doubt 
you are fatigued with nursing, but I could not 
help writing to-day, to tell you how what I said 
yesterday has vext and worried me. Burn both 
these foolish letters and do not name the subject 
of them, because Charles will either blame me for 
having written something improper or he will 
laugh at me for my foolish fears about nothing. 

Though I wish you not to take notice of what 
I have said, yet I shall rejoice to see a letter from 
you, and I hope, when you have half an hour's 
leisure, to see a line from you. We have not 
heard from Coleridge since he went out of town, 
but I dare say you have heard either from him or 
Mrs. Clarkson. I remain, my dear friend, 
Yours most affectionately, 

M. Lamb 

2 33 


[For the full understanding of Mary Lamb's letter it is 
necessary to read Coleridge's Life and his Letters. Coleridge on 
his return from abroad reached London August 17, 1806, and 
took up his quarters with the Lambs on the following day. 
He once more joined Stuart, then editing the Courier, but much 
of his old enthusiasm had gone. In Mr. Dykes Campbell's 
words, — 

Almost his first words to Stuart were : "I am literally afraid, even to 
cowardice, to ask for any person, or of any person." Spite of the friend- 
liest and most unquestioning welcome from all most dear to him, it was 
the saddest of home-comings, for the very sympathy held out with both 
hands induced only a bitter, hopeless feeling of remorse; a — 

" Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain; — 
And genius given, and knowledge won in vain;" — 

of broken promises, — promises to friends and promises to himself; and 
above all, sense of a will paralysed — dead, perhaps, killed by his own 

Coleridge remained at Lamb's until August 29, afterwards 
taking rooms in the Courier office at 348 Strand. Meanwhile 
his reluctance to meet or communicate with his wife was 
causing his friends much concern, none more so than Mary 
Lamb, who wrote at least two letters rilled with anxious sym- 
pathy to Dorothy Wordsworth on the subject, asking for the 
mediation of Wordsworth or Southey. Her earlier letter is 

To quote Mr. Dykes Campbell again, — 

On September 1 6 — just a month after his landing — he wrote his first 
letter to his wife, to say that he might be expected at Greta Hall on the 

Before this, Wordsworth had informed Sir George Beaumont that Cole- 
ridge " dare not go home, he recoils so much from the thought of do- 
mesticating with Mrs. Coleridge, with whom, though on many accounts 
he much respects her, he is so miserable that he dare not encounter it. 
What a deplorable thing ! I have written to him to say that if he does 
not come down immediately I must insist upon seeing him somewhere. 
If he appoints London I shall go. 

I believe if anything good is to be done for him it must be done by me." 

It was this letter of Wordsworth, doubtless, which drew Coleridge to 
the North. Dorothy's letterto Lady Beaumont, written on receipt of the 


announcement of Coleridge's home-coming, goes copiously and minutely 
into the reasons for the estrangement between the poet and his wife. Miss 
Wordsworth still had hopes of an improvement. " Poor soul ! " she writes, 
" he had a struggle of many years, striving to bring Mrs. C. to a change 
of temper, and something like communion with him in his enjoyments. 
He is now, I trust, effectually convinced that he has no power of that 
sort," and may, she thinks, if he will be " reconciled to that one great 
want, want of sympathy," live at home in peace and quiet. "Mrs. C. 
has many excellent properties, as you observe ; she is unremitting in her 
attention as a nurse to her children, and, indeed, I believe she would have 
made an excellent wife to many persons. Coleridge is as little fitted for 
her as she for him, and I am truly sorry for her." 

It might perhaps be stated here that the separation was 
agreed upon in December. At the end of that month Cole- 
ridge visited the Wordsworths at Coleorton with Hartley, and 
in a few days began to be " more like his old self " — in 
Dorothy Wordsworth's phrase. — E. V. Lucas.] 


Dear Coleridge, — I have read your silly, very 
silly, letter, and between laughing and crying 
I hardly know how to answer it. You are too 
serious and too kind a vast deal, for we are not 
much used to either seriousness or kindness from 
our present friends, and therefore your letter has 
put me into a greater hurry of spirits than your 
pleasant segar did last night, for believe me your 
two odd faces amused me much more than the 
mighty transgression vexed me. If Charles had 
not smoked last night his virtue would not have 
lasted longer than to-night, and now perhaps 
with a little of your good counsel he will refrain. 
Be not too serious if he smokes all the time you 
are with us — a few chearful evenings spent with 


you serves to bear up our spirits many a long and 
weary year — and the very being led into the 
crime by your segar that you thought so harm- 
less, will serve for our amusement many a dreary 
time when we can get no letter nor hear no tid- 
ings of you. 

You positively must write to Mrs. Coleridge 
this day, and you must write here, that I may 
know you write, or you must come and dictate 
a letter for me to write to her. I know all that 
you would say in defence of not writing and I 
allow in full force everything that [you] can say 
or think, but yet a letter from me or you shall go 

I wanted to tell you, but feared to begin the 
subject, how well your children are, how Pypos 
thrives and what a nice child Sara is, and above 
all I hear such favorable accounts from Southey, 
from Wordsworth and Hazlitt, of Hartley. 

I have got Wordsworth's letters out for you 
to look at, but you shall not see them or talk of 
them without you like — Only come here as 
soon as you receive this, and I will not teaze you 
about writing, but will manage a few lines, 
Charles and I between us. But something like 
a letter shall go to-day. 

Come directly. 

Yours affectionately, 

M. Lamb 



December 5, 1806. 

Manning, your letter dated Hottentots, August 
the what-was-it ? came to hand. I can scarce hope 
that mine will have the same luck. China! Can- 
ton ! bless us — ho wit strains the imagination and 
makes it ache ! I write under another uncertainty, 
whether it can go to-morrow by a ship which I 
have just learned is going off direct to your part of 
the world, or whether the despatches may not be 
sealed up and this have to wait, for if it is detained 
here, it will grow staler in a fortnight than in 
a five months' voyage coming to you. It will be a 
point of conscience to send you none but bran-new 
news (the latest edition), which will but grow the 
better, like oranges, for a sea voyage. Oh, that 
you should be so many hemispheres off! — if I 
speak incorrectly you can correct me — why, the 
simplest death or marriage that takes place here 
must be important to you as news in the old Bastile. 
There 's your friend Tuthill has got away from 
France; you remember France ? and Tuthill? — 
ten to one but he writes by this post, if he don't 
get my note in time, apprising him of the vessel 
sailing. Know then that he has found means to 
obtain leave from Bonaparte (without making use 
of any incredible romantic pretences as some have 
done, who never meant to fulfil them) to come 
home; and I have seen him here and at Holcroft's. 
I have likewise seen his wife, this elegant little 


French woman whose hair reaches to her heels, — 
by the same token that Tom (Tommy H.) took 
the comb out of her head, not expecting the issue, 
and it fell down to the ground to his utter conster- 
nation, two ells long. An' t you glad about Tuthill ? 
Now then be sorry for Holcroft, whose new 
play, called the Vindictive Man, was damned about 
a fortnight since. It died in part of its own weak- 
ness, and in part for being choked up with bad 
actors. The two principal parts were destined to 
Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Bannister (he is a fellow with 
themakeof a jockey, and the air of a lamplighter), 
but Mrs. J. has not come to terms with the mana- 
gers, they have had some squabble, and Bannister 
shot some of his fingers off by the going off of 
a gun. So Miss Duncan had her part, and Mr. de 
Camp (a vulgar brother of Miss de Camp), took 
his. His part, the principalcomichopeof theplay, 
was most unluckily Goldfinch, taken out of the 
Road to Ruin, not only the same character, but the 
identical Goldfinch — the same as Falstaff is in 
two plays of Shakspeare. As the devil of ill-luck 
would have it, half the audience did not know that 
H[olcroft] had written it, but were displeased at 
his stealing from the Road to Ruin; and those who 
might have borne a gentlemanly coxcomb with 
his " That 's your sort,' ' " Go it " — such as Lewis 
is — did not relish the intolerable vulgarity and in- 
anity of the idea stript of his manner. De Camp 
was hooted, more than hist, hooted and bellowed 
off the stage before the second act was finished, so 


that the remainder of his part was forced to be, 
with some violence to the play, omitted. In ad- 
dition to this, a whore was another principal char- 
acter — a most unfortunate choice in this moral 
day. The audience were as scandalised as if you 
were to introduce such a personage to their pri- 
vate tea-tables. Besides, her action in the play was 
gross — wheedling an old man into marriage. But 
the mortal blunder of the play was that which, 
oddly enough, H. took pride in, and exultingly 
told me of the night before it came out, that there 
were no less than eleven principal characters in it, 
and I believe he meant of the men only, for the 
play-bill exprest as much, not reckoning one 
woman and one whore; and true it was, for Mr. 
Powell, Mr. Raymond, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. H. Sid- 
dons, Mr. Barrymore, &c. &c, — to the number 
of eleven, — had all parts equally prominent, and 
there was as much of them in quantity and rank 
as of the hero and heroine ; and most of them gen- 
tlemen who seldom appear but as the hero's friend 
in a farce, — for a minute or two, — and here they 
all had their ten-minute speeches, and one of them 
gave the audience a serious account how he was 
now a lawyer, but had been a poet, and then a long 
enumeration of the inconveniences of authorship, 
rascally booksellers, reviewers, &c. ; which first 
set the audience a-gaping ; but I have said enough. 
You will be so sorry that you will not think the 
best of me for my detail ; but news is news at 
Canton. Poor H[olcroft] I fear will feel the dis- 


appointment very seriously in a pecuniary light. 
From what I can learn he has saved nothing. 
You and I were hoping one day that he had; but 
I fear he has nothing but his pictures and books, 
and a no very flourishing business, and to be 
obliged to part with his long-necked Guido that 
hangs opposite as you enter, and the game-piece 
that hangs in the back drawing-room, and all 
those Vandykes, &c. ! God should temper the 
wind to the shorn connoisseur. I hope I need not 
say to you, that I feel for the weather-beaten 
author and for all his household. I assure you his 
fate has soured a good deal the pleasure I should 
have otherwise taken in my own little farce being 
accepted, and I hope about to be acted ; it is in 
rehearsal actually, and I expect it to come out 
next week. It is kept a sort of secret, and the 
rehearsals have gone on privately, lest by many 
folks knowing it, the story should come out, 
which would infallibly damn it. You remember 
I had sent it before you went. Wroughton read 
it, and was much pleased with it. I speedily got 
an answer. I took it to make alterations, and 
lazily kept it some months, then took courage 
and furbished it up in a day or two and took it. 
In less than a fortnight I heard the principal part 
was given to Elliston, who liked it, and only 
wanted a prologue, which I have since done and 
sent ; and I had a note the day before yesterday 
from the manager, Wroughton (bless his fat face ! 
he is not a bad actor in some things), to say 


that I should be summoned to the rehearsal after 
the next, which next was to be yesterday. I had 
no idea it was so forward. I have had no trouble, 
attended no reading or rehearsal, made no in- 
terest ; what a contrast to the usual parade of 
authors! But it is peculiar to modesty to do all 
things without noise or pomp ! I have some 
suspicion it will appear in public on Wednesday 
next, for Wroughton says in his note, it is so for- 
ward that if wanted it may come out next week, 
and a new melodrama is announced for every 
day till then : and " a new farce is in rehearsal," 
is put up in the bills. Now you'd like to know 
the subject. The title is Mr. H., — no more; 
how simple, how taking ! A great H. sprawling 
over the play-bill and attracting eyes at every cor- 
ner. The story is a coxcomb appearing at Bath, 
vastly rich — all the ladies dying for him — all 
bursting to know who he is — but he goes by 
no other name than Mr. H. — a curiosity like 
that of the dames of Strasburg about the man with 
the great nose. But I won't tell you any more 
about it. Yes, I will ; but I can't give you an idea 
how I have done it. I '11 just tell you that after 
much vehement admiration, when his true name 
comes out, " Hogsflesh," all the women shun 
him, avoid him, and not one can be found to 
change their name for him. That's the idea. 
How flat it is here ! — but how whimsical in 
the farce ! And only think how hard upon me 
it is that the ship is despatched to-morrow, 


and my triumph cannot be ascertained till the 
Wednesday after ; but all China will ring of it by 
and by. 

N. B. (But this is a secret.) The Professor 
has got a tragedy coming out with the young 
Roscius in it in January next, as we say — Jan- 
uary last it will be with you — and though it is a 
profound secret now, as all his affairs are, it can- 
not be much of one by the time you read this. 
However, don't let it go any further. I under- 
stand there are dramatic exhibitions in China. 
One would not like to be forestalled. 

Do you find in all this stuff I have written 
anything like those feelings which one should 
send my old adventuring friend, that is gone to 
wander among Tartars and may never come again ? 
I don't ; but your going away, and all about you, 
is a threadbare topic. I have worn it out with 
thinking : it has come to me when I have been 
dull with anything, till my sadness has seemed 
more to have come from it than to have intro- 
duced it. I want you, you don't know how much; 
but if I had you here in my European garret, 
we should but talk over such stuff as I have 
written — so — . 

Those Tales from Shakespear are near coming 
out, and Mary has begun a new work. Mr. Dawe 
is turned author: he has been in such a way lately 
— Dawe, the painter, I mean. He sits and stands 
about at Holcroft's and says nothing ; then sighs 
and leans his head on his hand. I took him to 


be in love ; but it seems he was only meditating 
a work, — The Life of Morland. The young man 
is not used to composition. 

Rickman and Captain Burney are well; they 
assemble at my house pretty regularly of a Wednes- 
day — a new institution. Like other great men 
I have a public day, cribbage and pipes, with 
Phillips and noisy Martin. 

Good Heaven ! what a bit only I 've got left ! 
How shall I squeeze all I know into this mor- 
sel ! Coleridge is come home, and is going to 
turn lecturer on Taste at the Royal Institution. 
I shall get ^200 from the theatre if Mr. H. has 
a good run, and I hope j£i 00 for the copyright. 
Nothing if it fails ; and there never was a more 
ticklish thing. The whole depends on the man- 
ner in which the name is brought out, which I 
value myself on, as a chef-d'oeuvre. How the paper 
grows less and less ! In less than two minutes I 
shall cease to talk to you, and you may rave to 
the Great Wall of China. 

N. B. Is there such a wall ? Is it as big as Old 
London Wall by Bedlam ? Have you met with 
a friend of mine, named Ball, at Canton ? — if you 
are acquainted, remember me kindly to him. 
Amongst many queer cattle I have and do meet 
with at the India House, I always liked his be- 
haviour. Tell him his friend Evans, &c, are well. 
Woodruff not dead yet. Maybe, you '11 think 
I have not said enough of Tuthill and the Hol- 
crofts. Tuthill is a noble fellow, as far as I can 


judge. The Holcrofts bear their disappointment 
pretty well, but indeed they are sadly mortified. 
Mrs. H. is cast down. It was well, if it were but 
on this account, that Tuthill is come home. 

N. B. If my little thing don't succeed, I shall 
easily survive, having, as it were, compared to 
H.'s venture, but a sixteenth in the lottery. Mary 
and I are to sit next the orchestra in the pit, next 
the tweedledees. She remembers you. You are 
more to us than five hundred farces, clappings, 
&c. Come back one day. C. Lamb 

Tuthill is at Crabtree's, who has married Tut- 
hill's sister. 


December n, 1806. 

Dear Wordsworth, — Mr. H. came out last 
night and failed. I had many fears ; the subject 
was not substantial enough. John Bull must have 
solider fare than a letter. We are pretty stout 
about it, have had plenty of condoling friends ; 
but, after all, we had rather it should have suc- 
ceeded. You will see the prologue in most of the 
morning papers. It was received with such shouts 
as I never witness'd to a prologue. It was at- 
tempted to be encored. How hard ! a thing I did 
merely as a task, because it was wanted, and set 
no great store by ; and Mr. H. ! ! 

The quantity of friends we had in the house, 

my brother and I being in public offices, &c, was 
astonishing — but they yielded at length to a few 
hisses. A hundred hisses ! Damn the word, I write 
it like kisses — how different ! — a hundred hisses 
outweigh a thousand claps. The former come 
more directly from the heart. Well, 't is with- 
drawn and there is an end. 

Better luck to us. C. L. 

P. S. Pray when any of you write to the Clark- 
sons, give our kind loves, and say we shall not be 
able to come and see them at Xmas, as I shall 
have but a day or two, — and tell them we bear 
our mortification pretty well. 

Mary's love to all of you — I wouldn't let her 


\Mr. H. was produced at Drury Lane on December 10, 
with Elliston in the title-role. The curious thing is that the 
management of Drury Lane advertised the farce as a success 
and announced it for the next night. But Lamb apparently 
interfered and it was not played again. Some few years later 
Mr. H. was performed acceptably in America. — E. V. 


December n [1806]. 

Dear Sarah, — Mary is a little cut at the ill 
success of Mr. H., which came out last night and 
failed. I know you '11 be sorry, but never mind. 
We are determined not to be cast down. I am 


going to leave off tobacco, and then we must 
thrive. A smoking man must write smoky farces. 

Mary is pretty well, but I persuaded her to let 
me write. We did not apprise you of the com- 
ing out of Mr. H., for fear of ill-luck. You were 
much better out of the house. If it had taken, 
your partaking of our good luck would have been 
one of our greatest joys. As it is, we shall expect 
you at the time you mentioned. But whenever 
you come you shall be most welcome. 

God bless you, dear Sarah. 

Yours most truly, C. L. 

Mary is by no means unwell, but I made her 
let me write. Don't mind this being a queer 
letter. I am in haste, and taken up by visitors, 
condolers, &c. God bless you ! 



December 23, 1806. 

My dear Mrs. Clarkson, — You are very kind 
to say you are out of humour with yourself for 
not writing before, but I beg you will never be 
so again. I know so well, and often feel so badly, 
how tiresome writing sometimes is, that I intreat 
you will never write but when you feel yourself 
quite inclined. I tried the morning after the 
failure of our little farce to write a line, — you 
know its ill success and how stoutly we meant to 
bear it, but I found myself utterly incapable of 


writing one connected sentence, so stout was the 
philosophy I wished to boast of. 

I do not love to throw the blame of the ill suc- 
cess of a piece upon the actors : it is a common 
trick with unsuccessful dramatists. The blame 
rested chiefly with Charles, and yet should not 
be called blame, for it was mere ignorance of 
stage effect; and I am mistaken if he has not 
gained much useful knowledge, more than he 
could have learned from a constant attendance 
at the representations of other people's pieces, by 
seeing his own fail ; he seems perfectly aware 
why, and from what cause it failed. He intends 
to write one more with all his dear-bought ex- 
perience in his head, and should that share the 
same fate, he will then turn his mind to some 
other pursuit. 

I am happy to hear so good an account of your 
health ; go on improving as fast as you can, that 
I may find you quite well. At Easter, or a few 
weeks after, I hope to spend a delightful holiday 
with you at Bury ; if we come at Easter we can- 
not stay longer than one week ; if we defer our 
journey, we can make a much longer visit, but 
at present I know not how it will be settled, for 
my brother sometimes threatens to pass his holi- 
days in town hunting over old plays at the Mu- 
seum to extract passages for a work (a collection 
of poetry) Mr. Wordsworth intends to publish. 
However, I hope before that time arrives, he will 
be able to borrow the books of some good old 


collector of those hidden treasures, and thus they 
can be copied at home and much of Charles' la- 
bour and time saved. The Museum is only open 
during his office hours. I am much pleased with 
your friend Henry Robinson. He has been truly 
kind and friendly about the farce. That disap- 
pointment is wearing out of our heads very fast. 
My brother means to keep at home very much 
this winter, and work very hard. When he is at 
work, he is always happier and in better health. 

I am glad Miss Smith is with you, because 
Coleridge has told me she is the best good girl 
in the world. 

I am pleased to hear again the name of your 
old neighbour Mr. Smith. I well remember him 
the first season of the School for Scandal; he was 
("I being a young thing then") a prodigious 
favourite with me. I cannot for the life of me 
conceive of him as an old man. O what actors 
there were then ! but as I said before, disappointed 
authors must not complain of actors (you shall 
see the piece when I can spare time to write 
a copy, or can spare the only one we have). No 
matter for the brains of your good townspeople. 
Go amongst them as much as you can : I am 
sure company is a certain cure for your malady. 

I am glad to hear of my friend Tom's im- 
provement : never mind his learning; that will 
come in due time. Indeed I have reasons for 
wishing him a little backward in that respect, for 
I have a little book I mean to send him ; and the 


printer has been so long bringing it out I began 
to fear Tom would attain so much knowledge as 
to outgrow the use thereof, and Tom's approba- 
tion of my first production was one of the things 
I built upon. I suppose I may send a parcel by 
the Bury stage ? That is a foolish question to ask, 
for no doubt I may. 

I rejoice to hear Mr. Clarkson has begun his 
history of the Abolition. May we not expect to 
see him now in a few days ? How I wish he 
would bring you too ! 

We are to stay at home and work, as I forget 
it is Christmas ; but we sincerely wish you a merry 
happy Christmas and many, many, happy, healthy 
new years. Charles' kindest respects to you and 
Mr. Clarkson and young Tom and Miss Buck. 
Is she not at Bury ? I remain your affectionate 
friend, M. Lamb 

No news of Coleridge lately. 

I shall rejoice to hear from you, whenever you 
feel writing quite pleasant to you. Did you ever 
see such a queer scrawl as mine ? 


? 1806. 

I repent. Can that God whom thy votaries say 
that thou hast demolished expect more ? I did 
indite a splenetic letter, but did the black hypo- 
condria never gripe thy heart, till thou hast taken 


a friend for an enemy ? The foul fiend Flibberti- 
gibbet leads me over four inched bridges, to course 
my own shadow for a traitor. There are certain 
positions of the moon, under which I counsel 
thee not to take anything written from this domi- 
cile as serious. 

/rank thee with Alves, — Latin}, Helvetius, 
— or any of his cursed crew ? Thou art my friend, 
and henceforth my philosopher: thou shalt teach 
distinction to the junior branches of my house- 
hold, and deception to the greyhaired janitress at 
my door. 

What! Are these atonements? Can Arcadians 
be brought upon knees, creeping and crouching? 

Come, asMacbeth'sdrunken porter says, knock, 
knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock — 
seven times in a day shalt thou batter at my peace, 
and if I shut aught against thee, save the Temple 
of Janus, may Briareus, with his hundred hands, 
in each a brass knocker, lead me such a life. 

C. Lamb 


January 29, 1807. 

Dear Wordsworth, — We have book'd off from 
Swan and Two Necks, Lad Lane, this day (per 
coach) the Tales from Shakespear. You will for- 
give the plates, when I tell you they were left to 
the direction of Godwin, who left the choice of 
subjects to the bad baby, who from mischief 


(I suppose) has chosen one from damn'd beastly 
vulgarity (vide Merch. Venice) where no atom of 
authority was in the tale to justify it — to another 
has given a name which exists not in the tale, 
Nic Bottom, and which she thought would be 
funny, though in this I suspect his hand, for I 
guess her reading does not reach far enough 
to know Bottom's Christian name — and one of 
Hamlet, and grave-digging, a scene which is not 
hinted at in the story, and you might as well 
have put King Canute the Great reproving his 
courtiers — the rest are giants and giantesses. Suf- 
fice it, to save our taste and damn our folly, that 
we left it all to a friend, W. G., who in the first 
place cheated me into putting a name to them, 
which I did not mean, but do not repent, and 
then wrote a puff about their simplicity, &c, to go 
with the advertisement as in my name ! 

Enough of this egregious dupery. — I will try 
to extract the load of teasing circumstances from 
the stories and tell you that I am answerable for 
Lear, Macbeth, Timon, Romeo, Hamlet, Othello, for 
occasionally a tailpiece or correction of grammar, 
for none of the cuts and all of the spelling. The 
rest is my sister's. — We think Pericles of hers 
the best, and Othello of mine; but I hope all have 
some good. As You Like It we like least. 

So much, only begging you to tear out the 
cuts and give them to Johnny, as " Mrs. Godwin's 

Our love to all. C. L. 

25 1 

I had almost forgot, — 

My part of the Preface begins in the middle 
of a sentence, in last but one page after a colon, 
thus, — 

; — which if they be happily so done, &c. 

The former part hath a more feminine turn 
and does hold me up something as an instructor 
to young ladies ; but upon my modesty's honour 
I wrote it not. 

Godwin told my sister that the baby chose the 
subjects, — a fact in taste. 



June, 1807. 

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson, — You will wish 
to know how we performed our journey. My 
sister was tolerably quiet until we got to Chelms- 
ford, where she began to be very bad indeed, as 
your friends William Knight and his family can 
tell you when you see them. What I should have 
done without their kindness I don't know, but 
among other acts of great attention, they pro- 
vided me with a waistcoat to confine her arms, by 
the help of which we went through the rest of 
our journey. But sadly tired and miserably de- 
pressed she was before we arrived at Hoxton. We 
got there about half-past eight ; and now 't is all 
over, I have great satisfaction that she is among 
people who have been used to her. In all prob- 


ability a few months or even weeks will restore 
her (her last illness confined her ten weeks), but 
if she does recover I shall be very careful how 
I take her so far from home again. I am so 
fatigued, for she talked in the most wretched 
desponding way conceivable, particularly the last 
three stages, she talked all the way, — so that you 
won't expect me to say much, or even to express 
myself as I should do in thanks for your kind- 
nesses. My sister will acknowledge them when 
she can. 

I shall not have heard how she is to-day until 
too late for the post ; but if any great change takes 
place for better or worse, I shall certainly let you 

She tells me something about having given 
away one of my coats to your servant. It is a new 
one, and perhaps may be of small use to him. If 
you can get it me again, I shall very willingly 
give him a compensation. I shall also be much 
obliged by your sending in a parcel all the 
manuscripts, books, &c, she left behind. I want 
in particular the Dramatic Extracts, as my pur- 
pose is to make use of the remainder of my holi- 
days in completing them at the British Museum, 
which will be employment and money in the 

I am exceedingly harassed with the journey, 
but that will go off in a day or two, and I will 
set to work. I know you will grieve for us, but 
I hope my sister's illness is not worse than many 


she has got through before. Only I am afraid 
the fatigue of the journey may affect her general 
health. You shall have notice how she goes on. 
In the meantime, accept our kindest thanks. 

[Signature cut off^\ 


[Endorsed October, 1807.] 

My dear Sarah, — I am two letters in your 
debt ; but it has not been so much from idleness, 
as a wish first to see how your comical love affair 
would turn out. You know, I make a pretence 
not to interfere; but like all old maids I feel a 
mighty solicitude about the event of love stories. 
I learn from the Lover that he has not been so 
remiss in his duty as you supposed. His Effusion, 
and your complaints of his inconstancy, crossed 
each other on the road. He tells me his was 
a very strange letter, and that probably it has 
affronted you. That it was a strange letter I can 
readily believe ; but that you were affronted by 
a strange letter is not so easy for me to conceive, 
that not being your way of taking things. But 
however it be, let some answer come, either to 
him, or else to me, showing cause why you do 
not answer him. And pray, by all means, pre- 
serve the said letter, that I may one day have 
the pleasure of seeing how Mr. Hazlitt treats of 


I was at your brother's on Thursday. Mrs. S. 
tells me she has not written, because she does not 
like to put you to the expense of postage. They 
are very well. Little Missy thrives amazingly. 
Mrs. Stoddart conjectures she is in the family 
way again ; and those kind of conjectures gen- 
erally prove true. Your other sister-in-law, Mrs. 
Hazlitt, was brought to bed last week of a 
boy: so that you are likely to have plenty of 
nephews and nieces. 

Yesterday evening we were at Rickman's ; and 
who should we find there but Hazlitt ; though, 
if you do not know it was his first invitation there, 
it will not surprise you as much as it did us. We 
were very much pleased, because we dearly love 
our friends to be respected by our friends. 

The most remarkable events of the evening 
were, that we had a very fine pine-apple ; that 
Mr. Phillips, Mr. Lamb, and Mr. Hazlitt played 
at cribbage in the most polite and gentlemanly 
manner possible — and that I won two rubbers 
at whist. 

I am glad Aunty left you some business to do. 
Our compliments to her and your Mother. Is it 
as cold at Winterslow as it is here ? How do the 
Lions go on ? I am better, and Charles is toler- 
ably well. Godwin's new Tragedy will probably 
be damned the latter end of next week. Charles 
has written the Prologue. Prologues and Epi- 
logues will be his death. If you know the ex- 
tent of Mrs. Reynolds' poverty, you will be glad 


to hear Mr. Norris has got ten pounds a year for 
her from the Temple Society. She will be able 
to make out pretty well now. 

Farewell — Determine as wisely as you can in 
regard to Hazlitt ; and, if your determination is 
to have him, Heaven send you many happy years 
together. If I am not mistaken, I have con- 
cluded letters on the Corydon Courtship with 
this same wish. I hope it is not ominous of 
change ; for if I were sure you would not be 
quite starved to death, nor beaten to a mummy, 
I should like to see Hazlitt and you come to- 
gether, if (as Charles observes) it were only for 
the joke sake. 

Write instantly to me. 

Yours most affectionately, 

M. Lamb 


[The Lover this time is, at last, William Hazlitt. Miss 
Stoddart was not his first love ; some time before he had 
wished to marry a Miss Railton of Liverpool ; then, in the 
Lakes, he had had passages with a farmer's daughter involving 
a ducking at the hands of jealous rivals ; while De Quincey 
would have us believe that Hazlitt proposed to Dorothy 
Wordsworth. But it was Sarah Stoddart whom he was de- 
stined to marry. A specimen of Hazlitt's love letters (which 
Mary Lamb wished to see) will be found in Mr. W. C. Haz- 
litt's Memoirs of William Hazlitt, Vol. I., page 153. The 
marriage turned out anything but a joke. 

Mrs. Reynolds' poverty was in later years further relieved by 
an annuity of £30 from Charles Lamb. — E. V. Lucas.] 


[We now come to two curious letters from 
Charles Lamb to Joseph Hume. The first con- 
tains the beginning of an elaborate hoax main- 
tained by Lamb and Hume, in which Hazlitt, 
although the victim, played his part.] 


December 29, 1807. 

Alas, sir, I cannot be among you. My fate is 
still not to know on which side my bread is but- 
ter' d. I hang between two engagements perpet- 
ually, and the worst always comes first. The devil 
always takes care to clap in with a retainer when 
he sees God about to offer a fee — cold bones of 
mutton and leather-roasted potatoes at Pimlico at 
ten must carry it away from a certain turkey and 
a contingent plumb-pudding at Montpelier at four 
(I always spell plumb-pudding with a b, p-l-u-m-^ 
— I think it reads fatter and more suety). 

I suppose you know what has happen' d to our 
poor friend Hazlitt. If not, take it as I read it 
in the Morning Post or Fashionable World of this 
morning : 

" Last night Mr. H.,a portrait painter in South- 
ampton Buildings, Holborn, put an end to his 
existence by cutting his throat in a shocking man- 
ner. It is supposed that he must have committed 
his purpose with a pallet-knife, as the edges of 
the cicatrice or wound were found besmeared 
with a yellow consistence, but the knife could 

2 57 

not be found. The reasons of this rash act are 
not assigned : an unfortunate passion has been 
mentioned ; but nothing certain is known. The 
deceased was subject to hypochondria, low spirits, 
but he had lately seemed better, having paid more 
than usual attention to his dress and person. Be- 
sides being a painter, he had written some pretty 
things in prose and verse." 

God bless me, ten o'clock ! I have cut out the 
paragraph, and will shew it you entire. I have 
not time to transcribe more. 

Yours, C. Lamb 


January 12, 1808. 

Dear Sir, — The strange rumours which have 
been spread about since the death of our respected 
friend, as well as some things which have come 
under my own observation, which I do not care 
to trust to the ordinary communication of a post, 
but reserve them for the especial confidence of 
your most valued ear in private, — these things, 
without much help from a rainy day or time of 
the year which usually disposes men to sadness, 
have contributed to make me not a little serious 
and thoughtful of late. 

I have run over in my mind the various treat- 
ises which I have perused in the course of a stu- 
dious, and, I hope, innocently employed life, on 
the nature of disembodied spirits and the causes 


of their revisiting the earth. The fact I will take 
for granted ; presuming that I am not addressing 
an atheist. I find the most commonly assigned 
reason to be, for the revealing of hidden treasures 
which the deceased had hoarded up in his or her life- 

Now though I cannot sufficiently admire the 
providence of God who by this means has oft- 
times restored great heaps of gold and silver to 
the circulation of the living, thereby sparing the 
iterately plowed and now almost effete wombs 
of Peru and Mexico, which would need another 
Sarah's miracle to replenish, yet in the particular 
case of the defunct I cannot but suspect some 
other cause, and not this, to have called him from 
his six-foot bed of earth. For it is highly im- 
probable that he should have accumulated any 
such vast treasures, for the revealing of which a 
miracle was needed, without some suspicion of 
the fact among his friends during his lifetime. I 
for my part always looked upon our dear friend as 
a man rich rather in the gifts of his mind than in 
earthly treasures. He had few rents or comings- 
in, that I was ever aware of, small (if any) landed 
property, and by all that I could witness he sub- 
sisted more upon the well-timed contributions of 
a few chosen friends who knew his worth, than 
upon any estate which could properly be called 
his own. I myself have contributed my part. God 
knows, I speak not this in reproach. I have never 
taken, nor indeed did the deceased offer, any writ- 

2 59 

ten acknowledgments of the various sums which he 
has had of me, by which I could make the fact 
manifest to the legal eye of an executor or ad- 
ministrator. He was not a man to affect these 
niceties in his transactions with his friends. He 
would often say, money was nothing between in- 
timate acquaintances, that golden streams had no 
ebb, that a purse mouth never regorged, that God 
loved a chearful giver but the devil hated a free 
taker, that a paid loan makes angels groan, with 
many such like sayings : he had always free and 
generous notions about money. His nearest friends 
know this best. Induced by these considerations 
I give up that commonly received notion of re- 
vealable treasures in our friend's case. Neither 
am I too forward to adopt that vulgar superstition 
of some hidden murder to be brought to light ; 
which yet I do not universally reject : for when 
I revolve, that the defunct was naturally of a dis- 
coursible and communicative temper (though of 
a gloomy and close aspect, as born under Saturn), 
a great repeater of conversations which he gen- 
erally carried away verbatim and would repeat with 
syllabic exactness in the next company where he 
was received (by which means I that have staid 
at home have often reaped the profit of his travels 
without stirring from my elbow-chair), I cannot 
think that if he had been present at so remark- 
able circumstance as a murder he would so soon 
have forgotten it as to make no mention of it 
at the next place where he dined or supt, or 


that he could have restrained himself from giving 
the particulars of a matter of fact like that in his 
lifetime. I am sure I have often heard him dilate 
upon occurrences of a much less interesting sort 
than that in question. I am most inclined to sup- 
port that opinion which favors the establishing 
of some speculative point in religion : a frequent 
cause, says Wierus, for spirits returning to the 
earth, to confute atheists, &c. 

When I consider the education which our friend 
received from a venerable parent, his religious 
destination, his nurture at a seminary appropri- 
ated to young ministers ; but whatever the cause 
of this reappearance may prove to be, we may 
now with truth assert that our deceased friend 
has attained to one object of his pursuits, one 
hour's separate existence gives a dead man clearer 
notions of metaphysics than all the treatises which 
in this state of carnal entanglement the least-im- 
mersed spirit can outspin. It is good to leave such 
subjects to that period when we shall have no 
heads to ache, no brains to distort, no faces to 
lengthen, no clothes to neglect. Had our dear 
friend attended to this, he might have shewn his 
airy form in courts and ball rooms, whispered the 
fair, ogled, sung, danced, and known just as much 
of those subjects as it is probable he ever knew 
previous to his death ; for I always take it that a 
disposition to such sort of inquiries . . . and ends 
in lunacy and dirty linen. You have my opinions. 

[No signature.] 


Temple, February 18, 1808. 

Sir, — I am truly concerned that any mistake 
of mine should have caused you uneasiness, but 
I hope we have got a clue to William's absence, 
which may clear up all apprehensions. The peo- 
ple where he lodges in town have received direc- 
tion from him to forward one or two of his shirts 
to a place called Winterslow, in the county of 
Hants [Wilts] (not far from Salisbury), where the 
lady lives whose cottage, pictured upon a card, if 
you opened my letter you have doubtless seen, 
and though we have had no explanation of the 
mystery since, we shrewdly suspect that at the 
time of writing that letter which has given you 
all this trouble, a certain son of yours (who is 
both painter and author) was at her elbow, and 
did assist in framing that very cartoon which was 
sent to amuse and mislead us in town, as to the 
real place of his destination. 

And some words at the back of the said cartoon, 
which we had not marked so narrowly before, by 
the similarity of the handwriting to William's, do 
very much confirm the suspicion. If our theory 
be right, they have had the pleasure of their jest, 
and I am afraid you have paid for it in anxiety. 
But I hope your uneasiness will now be removed, 
and you will pardon a suspense occasioned by 
Love,who does so many worse mischiefs every day. 
The letter to the people where William lodges 


says, moreover, that he shall be in town in a fort- 

My sister joins in respects to you and Mrs. 
Hazlitt, and in our kindest remembrances and 
wishes for the restoration of Peggy's health. 

I am, Sir, your humble servant, 

Ch. Lamb 


February 26, 1808. 

Dear Missionary, — Your letters from the far- 
thest ends of the world have arrived safe. Mary 
is very thankful for your remembrance of her, 
and with the less suspicion of mercenariness, as 
the silk, the symbolum materiale of your friend- 
ship, has not yet appeared. I think Horace says 
somewhere, " nox /onga." I would not impute 
negligence or unhandsome delays to a person 
whom you have honoured with your confidence ; 
but I have not heard of the silk or of Mr. Knox 
save by your letter. Maybe he expects the first 
advances ! or it may be that he has not succeeded 
in getting the article on shore, for it is among 
the res prohibitae et non nisi smuggle-ationis viafru- 
endae. But so it is, in the friendships between 
wicked men, the very expressions of their good- 
will cannot but be sinful, — splendida vitia at best. 
Stay, while I remember it — Mrs. Holcroft was 
safely delivered of a girl some day in last week. 
Mother and child doing well. Mr. Holcroft 


has been attack'd with severe rheumatism. They 
have moved to Clipstone Street. I suppose you 
know my farce was damned. The noise still rings 
in my ears. Was you ever in the pillory ? — being 
damned is something like that. 

Godwin keeps a shop in Skinner Street, Snow 
Hill, he is turned children's bookseller, and sells 
penny, twopenny, threepenny, and fourpenny 
books. Sometimes he gets an order for the dearer 
sort of books. (Mind, all that I tell you in this 
letter is true.) 

A treaty of marriage is on foot between Wil- 
liam Hazlitt and Miss Stoddart. Something about 
settlements only retards it. She has somewhere 
about j£8o a year, to be ^i 20 when her mother 
dies. He has no settlement except what he can 
claim from the parish. Pauper est Cinna, sedamat. 
The thing is therefore in abeyance. But there is 
love o' both sides. Little Fenwick (you don't see 
the connexion of ideas here, how the devil should 
you ?) is in the rules of the Fleet. Cruel cred- 
itors ! operation of iniquitous laws ! is Magna 
Charta then a mockery? 

Why, in general (here I suppose you to ask 
a question), my spirits are pretty good, but I have 
my depressions, black as a smith's beard, Vulcanic, 
Stygian. At such times I have recourse to a pipe, 
which is like not being at home to a dun ; he 
comes again with tenfold bitterness the next day. 
(Mind, I am not in debt : I only borrow a simili- 
tude from others ; it shows imagination.) 


I have done two books since the failure of my 
farce; they will both be out this summer. The 
one is a juvenile book, The Adventures of Ulysses, 
intended to be an introduction to the reading of 
Telemachus ! It is done out of the Odyssey, not 
from the Greek : I would not mislead you; nor 
yet from Pope's Odyssey, but from an older trans- 
lation of one Chapman. The Shakespear Tales 
suggested the doing it. Godwin is in both those 
cases my bookseller. The other is done for Long- 
man, and is Specimens of English Dramatic Poets 
contemporary with Shakespear. Specimens are 
becoming fashionable. We have : Specimens of 
Ancient English Poets, Specimens of Modern English 
Poets, Specimens of Ancient English Prose Writers, 
without end. They used to be called Beauties. 
You have seen Beauties of Shakespear? so have 
many people that never saw any beauties in Shake- 
spear. Longman is to print it, and be at all the 
expense and risk ; and I am to share the profits 
after all deductions ; i. e., a year or two hence 
I must pocket what they please to tell me is 
due to me. But the book is such as I am glad 
there should be. It is done out of old plays at the 
Museum and out of Dodsley's collection, &c. 
It is to have notes. 

So I go creeping on since I was lamed with 
that cursed fall from off the top of Drury-Lane 
Theatre into the pit, something more than a year 
ago. However, I have been free of the house 
ever since, and the house was pretty free with me 


upon that occasion. Damn 'em, how they hissed! 
It was not a hissneither, buta sort of a frantic yell, 
like a congregation of mad geese, with roaring 
something like bears, mows and mops like apes, 
sometimes snakes, that hiss'd me into madness. 
'T was like St. Anthony's temptations. 

Mercy on us, that God should give his favour- 
ite children, men, mouths to speak with, to dis- 
course rationally, to promise smoothly, to flatter 
agreeably, to encourage warmly, to counsel wisely : 
to sing with, to drink with, and to kiss with : 
and that they should turn them into mouths 
of adders, bears, wolves, hyenas, and whistle like 
tempests, and emit breath through them like dis- 
tillations of aspic poison, to asperse and vilify the 
innocent labours of their fellow-creatures who 
are desirous to please them ! God be pleased to 
make the breath stink and the teeth rot out of 
them all therefor ! Make them a reproach, and 
all that pass by them to loll out their tongue at 
them ! Blind mouths ! as Milton somewhere 
calls them. Do you like Braham's singing ? The 
littlejew has bewitched me. I follow him like as 
the boys followed Tom the Piper. He cured me 
of melancholy, as David cured Saul ; but I don't 
throw stones at him, as Saul did at David in pay- 
ment. I was insensible to music till he gave me 
a new sense. 

O, that you could go to the new opera of Kais 
to-night ! 'T is all about Eastern manners ; it 
would just suit you. It describes the wild Arabs, 


wandering Egyptians, lying dervishes, and all that 
sort of people, to a hair. You need n't ha' gone 
so far to see what you see, if you saw it as I do 
every night at Drury-Lane Theatre. Braham's 
singing, when it is impassioned, is finer than Mrs. 
Siddons's or Mr. Kemble's acting ; and when it 
is not impassioned, it is as good as hearing a per- 
son of fine sense talking. The brave little Jew ! 
Old Sergeant Hill is dead. Mrs. Rickman is in 
the family way. It is thought that Hazlitt will 
have children, if he marries Miss Stoddart. I 
made a pun the other day, and palmed it upon 
Holcroft, who grinned like a Cheshire cat. 
(Why do cats grin in Cheshire ? — Because it 
was once a county palatine, and the cats cannot 
help laughing whenever they think of it, though 
I see no great joke in it.) I said that Holcroft 
said, being asked who were the best dramatic 
writers of the day, " Hook and I." Mr. Hook 
is author of several pieces, Tekeli, &c. You know 
what hooks and eyes are, don't you ? They are what 
little boys do up their breeches with. 

Your letter had many things in it hard to be 
understood : the puns were ready and Swift-like ; 
but don't you begin to be melancholy in the 
midst of Eastern customs ! " The mind does not 
easily conform to foreign usages, even in trifles : 
it requires something that it has been familiar 
with." That begins one of Dr. Hawkesworth's 
papers in the Adventurer, and is, I think, as sens- 
ible a remark as ever fell from the Doctor's 


mouth. Do you know Watford in Hertford- 
shire ? It is a pretty village. Louisa goes to school 
there. They say the governess is a very intelli- 
gent, managing person, takes care of the morals 
of the pupils, teaches them something beyond 
exteriors. Poor Mrs. Beaumont! Rickman's 
aunt, she might have been a governess (as both 
her nieces are) if she had any ability or any edu- 
cation, but I never thought she was good for any- 
thing ; she is dead and so is her nephew. He was 
shot in half at Monte Video, that is, not exactly 
in half, but as you have seen a three-quarter 
picture. Stoddart is in England. White is at 
Christ's Hospital, a wit of the first magnitude, 
but had rather be thought a gentleman, like 
Congreve. You know Congreve's repulse which 
he gave to Voltaire, when he came to visit him 
as a literary man, that he wished to be considered 
only in the light of a private gentleman. I think 
the impertinent Frenchman was properly an- 
swered. I should just serve any member of the 
French Institute in the same manner, that wished 
to be introduced to me. Bonaparte has voted 
5,000 livres to Davy, the great young English 
chemist; but it has not arrived. Coleridge has 
delivered two lectures at the Royal Institution ; 
two more were attended, but he did not come. 
It is thought he has gone sick upon them. He 
a'n't well, that 's certain. Wordsworth is com- 
ing to see him. He sits up in a two pair of stairs 
room at the Courier office, and receives visitors 


on his close stool. How is Mr. Ball ? He has 
sent for a prospectus of the London Library. 

Does any one read at Canton ? Lord Moira is 
President of the Westminster Library. I suppose 
you might have interest with Sir Joseph Banks 
to get to be president of any similar institution 
that should be set up at Canton. I think public 
reading-rooms the best mode of educating young 
men. Solitary reading is apt to give the head- 
ache. Besides, who knows that you do read? There 
are ten thousand institutions similar to the Royal 
Institution, which have sprung up from it. There 
is the London Institution, the Southwark Institu- 
tion, the Russell Square Rooms Institution, &c. 
— College quasi Con-lege, a place where people read 
together. Wordsworth, the great poet, is coming 
to town ; he is to have apartments in the Man- 
sion House. He says he does not see much diffi- 
culty in writing like Shakspeare, if he had a mind 
to try it. It is clear, then, nothing is wanting but 
the mind. Even Coleridge a little checked at 
this hardihood of assertion. 

Jones, of Trinity, I suppose you know he is 
dead. Dyer came to me the other evening at 
eleven o'clock, when there was a large room full 
of company, which I usually get together on a 
Wednesday evening (all great men have public 
days), to propose to me to have my face done by 
a Miss Beetham (or Betham), a miniature painter, 
some relation to Mrs. Beetham the profilist or 
pattern mangle woman opposite to St. Dunstan's, 


to put before my book of Extracts. I declined 

Well, my dear Manning, talking cannot be 
infinite ; I have said all I have to say ; the rest is 
but remembrances, which we shall bear in our 
heads of you, while we have heads. Here is a 
packet of trifles nothing worth: but it is a trifling 
part of the world where I live; emptiness abounds. 
But, in fulness of affection, we remain yours, 

C. L. 


March n, 1808. 

Dear Godwin, — The giant's vomit was per- 
fectly nauseous, and I am glad you pointed it out. 
I have removed the objection. To the other 
passages I can find no other objection but what 
you may bring to numberless passages besides, such 
as of Scylla snatching up the six men, &c, that 
is to say, they are lively images of shocking things. 
If you want a book, which is not occasionally 
to shock, you should not have thought of a tale 
which was so full of anthropophagi and won- 
ders. I cannot alter these things without ener- 
vating the book, and I will not alter them if the 
penalty should be that you and all the London 
booksellers should refuse it. But speaking as au- 
thor to author, I must say that I think the terrible 
in those two passages seems to me so much to 
preponderate over the nauseous, as to make them 


rather fine than disgusting. Who is to read them 
I don't know : who is it that reads 'Tales of Terror 
and Mysteries of JJdolpho ? Such things sell. I only- 
say that I will not consent to alter such passages, 
which I know to be some of the best in the 

As an author I say to you an author, " Touch 
not my work." As to a bookseller I say, "Take 
the work such as it is, or refuse it." You are as 
free to refuse it as when we first talked of it. As 
to a friend I say, " Don't plague yourself and me 
with nonsensical objections." I assure you I will 
not alter one more word. 


March 12, 1808. 

Dear Sir, — Wordsworth breakfasts with me 
on Tuesday morning next ; he goes to Mrs. Clark- 
son the next day, and will be glad to meet you 
before he goes. Can you come to us before nine 
or at nine that morning ? I am afraid, W. is so 
engaged with Coleridge, who is ill, we cannot 
have him in an evening. If I do not hear from 
you, I will expect you to breakfast on Tuesday. 
Yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


[This is the first letter to Henry Crabb Robinson (1775- 
1867), whom Lamb was destined to know very intimately, 


and to whose Diary we are indebted for much of our informa- 
tion concerning the Lambs. We shall see much more of 
him. He knew Lamb well enough to accompany him, his 
sister, and Hazlitt to Mr. H. in December, 1806. — E. V. 


From my desk in Leadenhall Street, 
December 5, 1808. 

Dear Dyer, — Coleridge is not so bad as your 
fears have represented him ; it is true that he is 
Bury'd, although he is not dead: to understand 
this quibble, you must know that he is at Bury 
St. Edmund's, relaxing, after the fatigues of lec- 
turing and Londonizing. The little Rickmaness, 
whom you inquire after so kindly, thrives and 
grows apace ; she is already a prattler, and 't is 
thought that on some future day she may be a 
speaker ! We hold our weekly meetings still at 
No. 16, where, although we are not so high as 
the top of Malvern, we are involved in almost 
as much mist. Miss B.'s merit, " in every point 
of view," I am not disposed to question, although 
I have not been indulged with any view of that 
lady, back, side, or front — fie ! Dyer, to praise a 
female in such common market phrases, — you, 
who are held so courtly and so attentive. My 
book is not yet out, that is, not my Extracts, my 
Ulysses is, and waits your acceptance. 

When you shall come to town, I hope to pre- 
sent you both together, never thinking of buying 


the Extracts — half-a-guinea books were never 
calculated for my friends. More poets have started 
up since your departure ; William Hazlitt, your 
friend and mine, is putting to press a collection 
of verses, chiefly amatory, some of them pretty 
enough. How these painters encroach on our 
province ! There 's Hopner, Shee, Westall, and I 
don't know who besides, and Tresham. It seems, 
on confession, that they are not at the top of their 
own art, when they seek to eke out their fame 
with the assistance of another's ; no large tea- 
dealer sells cheeses, no great silversmith deals in 
razor-straps: it is only your petty dealers who mix 
commodities. If Nero had been a great emperor 
he would never have played the violoncello ! 

Who ever caught you, Dyer, designing a land- 
scape or taking a likeness ? I have no more to 
add, who am the friend of virtue, poetry, and 
painting, therefore, in an especial manner, 
Unalterably thine, 

C. Lamb 


December 10, 1808. 

There came this morning a printed prospectus 
from "S. T. Coleridge, Grasmere," of a weekly 
paper, to be called T he Friend ; a flaming prospec- 
tus, — I have no time to give the heads of it, — 
to commence the first Saturday in January. There 
came also notice of a turkey from Mr. Clarkson, 

2 73 ' 

which I am more sanguine in expecting the 
accomplishment of than I am of Coleridge's 

C. Lamb 


[The above letter is a postscript which was added by Lamb 
to a letter written by his sister Mary to Mrs. Hazlitt. The 
portion written by Mary Lamb has not been printed, but the 
entire letter appears in facsimile in the first (folio) volume of 
this edition.] 


December 10, 1808. 

My dear Mrs. Clarkson, — I feel myself greatly 
indebted to Mr. Clarkson for his care about our 
direction, since it has procured us the pleasure of 
a line from you. Why are we all, my dear friend, 
so unwilling to sit down and write a letter when 
we all so well know the great satisfaction it is to 
hear of the welfare of an absent friend ? I began 
to think that you and all I connect in my mind 
with you were gone from us forever. Coleridge 
in a manner gave us up when he was in town, 
and we have now lost all traces of him. At the 
time he was in town I received two letters 
from Miss Wordsworth, which I never answered 
because I would not complain to her of our old 
friend. As this has never been explained to her 
it must seem very strange, more particularly so, 


as Miss Hutchinson and Mrs. Wordsworth were 
in an ill state of health at the time. Will you 
some day soon write a few words just to tell me 
how they all are and all you know concerning 
them ? 

Do not imagine that I am now complaining to 
you of Coleridge. Perhaps we are both in fault, 
we expect too much, and he gives too little. We 
ought many years ago to have understood each 
other better. Nor is it quite all over with us yet, 
for he will some day or other come in with the 
same old face, and receive (after a few spiteful 
words from me) the same warm welcome as ever. 
But we could not submit to sit as hearers at his 
lectures and not be permitted to see our old friend 
when school-hours were over. I beg you will not 
let what I have said give you a moment's thought, 
and pray do not mention it to the Wordsworths 
nor to Coleridge, for I know he thinks I am 
apt to speak unkindly of him. I am not good- 
tempered, and I have two or three times given 
him proofs that I am not. 

You say you are all in your "better way," 
which is a very chearful hearing, for I trust you 
mean to include that your health is bettering too. 
I look forward with great pleasure to the near 
approach of Christmas and Mr. Clarkson. 

And now the turkey you are so kind as to pro- 
mise us comes into my head and tells me it is so 
very near that if writing before then should hap- 
pen to be the least irksome to you, I will be con- 


tent to wait for intelligence of our old friends till 
I have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Clarkson in 
town. I ought to say this because I know at times 
how dreadfully irksome writing a letter is to me, 
even when I have no reason in the world to give 
why it is so, and I remember I have heard you 
express something of the same kind of feelings. 

I try to remember something to inquire after 
at Bury, — the lady we visited, the cherry tree 
Tom and I robbed, Tom my partner in the rob- 
bery (Mr. Thomas C I suppose now), and 

your cook maid that was so kind to me, are all 
at present I can recollect. Of all the places I 
ever saw Bury has made the liveliest impression 
on my memory. I have a very indistinct recol- 
lection of the lakes. 

Charles joins with me in affectionate remem- 
brances to you all, and he is more warm in his 
expressions of gratitude for the turkey because he 
is fonder of good eating than I am, though I am 
not amiss in that way. 

God bless you, my kind friends ! 

I remain yours affectionately, 

M. Lamb 

Excuse this slovenly letter, if I were to write 
it over again I should abridge it one-half. 

[Charles Lamb adds:} 

We have this moment received a very chearful 
letter from Coleridge, who is now at Grasmere. 


It contains a prospectus for a new weekly pub- 
lication to be called The Friend. He says they 
are well there, and in good spirits, and that he 
has not been so well for a long time. 

The prospectus is of a weekly paper of a mis- 
cellaneous nature to be call'd The Friend and to 
come out, the first number, the first Saturday in 
January. Those who remember The Watchman 
will not be very sanguine in expecting a regular 
fulfilment of this prophecy. But C. writes in 
delightful spirits, and if ever, he may now do this 
thing. I suppose he will send you a prospectus. 
I had some thought of inclosing mine. But I 
want to shew it about. My kindest remembrances 
to Mr. C, and thanks for the turkey. 

C. Lamb 


February 25, 1809. 

Dear Robert, — A great gap has been filled 
up since our intercourse was broken off. We 
shall at least have some things to talk over, when 
we meet. That you should never have been in 
London since I saw you last is a fact which I 
cannot account for on the principles of my own 
mental formation. You are worthy to be men- 
tioned with Claudian's Old Man of Verona. I 
forbear to ask you any questions concerning your 
family, who are dead, and who married ; I will 
not anticipate our meeting. I have been in total 


darkness respecting you all these years. I am 
just up, and I have heard, without being able 
to confirm the fact, that Drury Lane Theatre 
is burnt to the ground. Of Walton's Angler a new 
edition is just published with the original plates 
revived. I think of buying it. The old editions 
are two guineas, and two guineas and a half. I 
have not forgotten our ride from Saffron Waldon 
and the madness of young parson Thomson of 
Cambridge that I took your brother to see. He 
is gone as a missionary to the East. 

I live at present at number 16 Mitre Court 
Buildings, Inner Temple. I shall move at lady- 
day, or a little later : if you don't find me in 
M. C. B. I shall be at No. 2 or 4 Inner Temple 
Lane, — at either of which places I shall be 
happy to shake my old friend Robert by the 
hand. C. L. 


March 28, 1809. 

Dear Manning, — I sent you a long letter by 
the ships which sailed the beginning of last month, 
accompanied with books, &c. Since I last wrote, 
Holcroft is dead. He died on Thursday last and 
is not yet buried. He has been opened by Car- 
lisle, and his heart was found completely ossified. 
He has had a long and severe illness. He seemed 
very willing to live, and to the last acted on his 
favorite principle of the power of the will to 


overcome disease. I believe his strong faith in 
that power kept him alive long after another 
person would have given up. The physicians all 
concurred in positively saying he would not live 
a week, many weeks before he died. The family 
are as well as could be expected. I told you 
something about Mrs. Holcroft's plans. Since 
his death there has been a meeting of his friends 
and a subscription has been mentioned. I have 
no doubt that she will be set a-going, and that 
she will be fully competent to the scheme which 
she proposes. Fanny bears it much better than 
I could have supposed. 

So there is one of your friends whom you will 
never see again ! Perhaps the next fleet may bring 
you a letter from Martin Burney, to say that he 
writes by desire of Miss Lamb, who is not well 
enough to write herself, to inform you that her 
brother died on Thursday last, 14th June, &c. 
But I hope not. I should be sorry to give occa- 
sion to open a correspondence between Martin 
and you. 

This letter must be short, for I have driven it 
off to the very moment of doing up the packets ; 
and besides, that which I refer to above is a very 
long one ; and if you have received my books, 
you will have enough to do to read them. While 
I think on it, let me tell you we are moved. 
Don't come any more to Mitre Court Buildings. 
We are at 34 Southampton Buildings, Chancery 
Lane, and shall be here till about the end of 


W.vrf I. i 

May : then we re-move to No. 2 Inner Temple 
Lane, where I mean to live and die ; for I have 
such horror of moving, that I would not take 
a benefice from the King, if I was not indulged 
with non-residence. What a dislocation of com- 


fort is comprised in that word moving ! Such 
a heap of little nasty things, after you think all is 
got into the cart: old drudging-boxes, worn-out 
brushes, gallipots, vials, things that it is impos- 
sible the most necessitous person can ever want, 
but which the women, who preside on these occa- 
sions, will not leave behind if it was to save your 
soul ; they 'd keep the cart ten minutes to stow 
in dirty pipes and broken matches, to show their 
economy. Then you can find nothing you want 
for many days after you get into your new lodg- 
ings. You must comb your hair with your fingers, 
wash your hands without soap, go about in dirty 
gaiters. Was I Diogenes, I would not move out 
of a kilderkin into a hogshead, though the first 
had had nothing but small beer in it, and the 
second reeked claret. Our place of final destina- 
tion — I don't mean the grave, but No. 2 Inner 
Temple Lane — looks out upon a gloomy church- 
yard-like court, called Hare Court, with three 
trees and a pump in it. Do you know it ? I was 
born near it, and used to drink at that pump when 
I was a Rechabite of six years old. 

If you see newspapers you will read about Mrs. 
Clarke. The sensation in London about this 
nonsensical business is marvellous. I remember 
nothing in my life like it. Thousands of ballads, 
caricatures, lives, of Mrs. Clarke, in every blind 
alley. Yet in the midst of this stir, a sublime ab- 
stracted dancing-master, who attends a family we 
know in Kensington, being asked a question about 


r i 

the progress of the examination in the House, 
inquired who Mrs. Clarke was ? He had heard 
nothing of it. He had evaded this omnipresence 
by utter insignificancy ! The Duke should make 
that man his confidential valet. I proposed lock- 


ing him up, barring him the use of his fiddle and 
red pumps, until he had minutely perused and com- 
mitted to memory the whole body of the exami- 
nations, which employed the House of Commons 
a fortnight, to teach him to be more attentive to 
what concerns the public. I think I told you of 
Godwin's little book, and of Coleridge's prospec- 
tus, in my last ; if I did not, remind me of it, and 
I will send you them, or an account of them, 
next fleet. I have no conveniency of doing it by 

this. Mrs. grows every day in disfavour 

with God and man. I will be buried with this 
inscription over me : " Here lies C. L., the 
Woman-hater" — I mean that hatedoNE woman : 
for the rest, God bless them, and when he makes 
any more, make 'em prettier. How do you like 
the Mandarinesses ? Are you on some little foot- 
ing with any of them ? This is Wednesday. On 
Wednesdays is my levee. The Captain, Martin, 
Phillips (not the Sheriff), Rickman, and some 
more, are constant attendants, besides stray visit- 
ors. We play at whist, eat cold meat and hot 
potatoes, and any gentleman that chuses smokes. 
Why do you never drop in ? You '11 come some 
day, won't you ? 

C. Lamb, &c. 


[Mitre Court Buildings, Southampton Buildings, and Inner 
Temple Lane (Lamb's homes) have all been rebuilt since 
Lamb's day.] 


[Dated by H. C. R.: May, 1809.] 

Dear Sir, — Would you be so kind as, when 
you go to the Times office, to see about an adver- 
tisement which my landlady's daughter left for 
insertion about ten days since, and has not ap- 
peared, for a Governess's Place? The references 
are to Thorpe & Graves, 18 Lower Holborn,and 
to M. B., 1 1 5 Oxford Street. Though not anxious 
about attitudes, she pines for a situation. I got 
home tolerably well, as I hear, the other evening. 
It may be a warning to any one in future to ask 
me to a dinner party. I always disgrace myself. 
I floated upstairs on the coachman's back, like 
Ariel, — 

" On a bat's back I do fly, 
After sunset merrily." 

In sobriety, I am, yours truly, 

C. Lamb 


June 7, 1809. 

Dear Coleridge, — I congratulate you on the 
appearance of The Friend. Your first number 
promises well, and I have no doubt the succeed- 
ing numbers will fulfil the promise. I had a 
kind letter from you some time since, which I 

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


have left unanswered. I am also obliged to you, 
I believe, for a review in the Annual, am I not ? 
The Monthly Review sneers at me, and asks "if 
Comus is not good enough for Mr. Lamb?" be- 
cause I have said no good serious dramas have 
been written since the death of Charles the First, 
except Samson Agonistes. So because they do 
not know, or won't remember, that Comus was 
written long before, I am to be set down as an 
undervaluer of Milton ! O Coleridge, do kill 
those reviews, or they will kill us — kill all we 
like ! Be a friend to all else, but their foe. 

I have been turned out of my chambers in 
the Temple by a landlord who wanted them for 
himself; but I have got other at No. 2, Inner 
Temple Lane, far more commodious and roomy. 
I have two rooms on third floor and five rooms 
above, with an inner staircase to myself, and all 
new painted, &c, and all for ^30 a year ! I 
came into them on Saturday week ; and on 
Monday following, Mary was taken ill with 
fatigue of moving, and affected, I believe, by the 
novelty of the home ; she could not sleep, and 
I am left alone with a maid quite a stranger to 
me, and she has a month or two's sad distrac- 
tion to go through. What sad large pieces it 
cuts out of life — out of her life, who is getting 
rather old ; and we may not have many years to 
live together ! I am weaker, and bear it worse 
than I ever did. But I hope we shall be com- 
fortable by and bye. The rooms are delicious, 


and the best look backwards into Hare Court 
where there is a pump always going. Just now 
it is dry. Hare Court trees come in at the 
window, [so] that it 's like living in a garden. 
I try to persuade myself it is much pleasanter 
than Mitre Court ; but, alas ! the household gods 
are slow to come in a new mansion. They are 
in their infancy to me ; I do not feel them yet ; 
no hearth has blazed to them yet. How I hate 
and dread new places ! 

I was very glad to see W[ords worth] 's book 
advertised ; I am to have it to-morrow lent me, 
and if W[ordsworth] don't send me an order for 
one upon Longman, I will buy it. It is greatly 
extolled and liked by all who have seen it. Let 
me hear from some of you, for I am desolate. 
I shall have to send you, in a week or two, two 
volumes of "Juvenile Poetry, done by Mary and 
me within the last six months, and that tale in 
prose which Wordsworth so much liked, which 
was published at Xmas, with nine others, by us, 
and has reached a second edition. There's for 
you ! We have almost worked ourselves out of 
child's work, and I don't know what to do. 
Sometimes I think of a drama, but I have no 
head for play-making; I can do the dialogue, 
and that 's all. I am quite aground for a Plan, 
and I must do something for money. Not that 
I have immediate wants, but I have prospective 
ones. O money, money, how blindly thou hast 
been worshipped, and how stupidly abused ! 


Thou art health, and liberty, and strength ; and 
he that has thee may rattle his pockets at the 
foul fiend ! Nevertheless, do not understand by 
this that I have not quite enough for my occa- 
sions for a year or two to come. 

While I think on it, Coleridge, I fetch' d away 
my books which you had at the Courier office, 
and found all but a third volume of the old 
plays, containing The White Devil, Green's Tu 
Quoque, [and the] Honest Whore, — perhaps the 
most valuable volume of them all — that I could 
not find. Pray, if you can, remember what you 
did with it, or where you took it out with you 
a-walking perhaps ; send me word ; for, to use 
the old plea, it spoils a set. I found two other 
volumes (you had three), the Arcadia, and 
Daniel, enriched with MSS. notes. I wish every 
book I have were so noted. They have thor- 
oughly converted me to relish Daniel, or to say 
I relish him, for, after all, I believe I did relish 
him. You well call him sober-minded. Your 
notes are excellent. Perhaps you 5 ve forgot 
them. I have read a review in the Quarterly, by 
Southey, on the Missionaries, which is most 
masterly. I only grudge it being there. It is 
quite beautiful. Do remember my Dodsley ; 
and pray do write, or let some of you write. 
Clarkson tells me you are in a smoky house. 
Have you cured it ? It is hard to cure anything 
of smoking. Our little poems are but humble, 
but they have no name. You must read them, 


remembering they were task-work ; and perhaps 
you will admire the number of subjects, all of 
children, picked out by an old bachelor and an 
old maid. Many parents would not have found 
so many. 

Have you read Calebs f which has reached eight 
editions in so many weeks ; yet literally it is one 
of the very poorest sort of common novels, with 
the drawback of dull religion in it. Had the 
religion been high and flavoured, it would have 
been something. I borrowed this Ccelebs in Search 
of a Wife of a very careful, neat lady, and returned 
it with this stuff written in the beginning, — 

If ever I marry a wife 

I 'd marry a landlord's daughter, 
For then I may sit in the bar, 

And drink cold Brandy-and- Water. 

I don't expect you can find time from your 
Friend to write to me much, but write some- 
thing, for there has been a long silence. You 
know Holcroft is dead. Godwin is well. He 
has written a very pretty, absurd book about 
sepulchres. He was affronted because I told him 
it was better than Harvey, but not so good as 
Sir T. Browne. This letter is all about Books ; 
but my head aches, and I hardly know what I 
write ; but I could not let The Friend pass with- 
out a congratulatory epistle. I won't criticise 
till it comes to a volume. Tell me how I shall 
send my packet to you ? — by what conveyance? 
— by Longman, Short-man, or how ? Give my 


kindest remembrances to the Wordsworths. Tell 
him he must give me a book. My kind love to 
Mrs. W. and to Dorothy separately and con- 
jointly. I wish you could all come and see me 
in my new rooms. 

God bless you all. 

C. L. 


June 13, 1809. 

Dear Sir, — I received with great pleasure the 
mark of your remembrance which you were 
pleased to send me, the translation from Homer 
\Iliad, xxiv]. You desire my opinion of it. I 
think it is plainer and more to the purpose than 
Pope's, though it may want some of his splendour 
and some of his sound. Yet I do not remember 
in any part of his translation a series of more 
manly versification than the conference of Priam 
with Hermes in your translation (lines 499 to 
530), or than that part of the reply of Achilles 
to Priam, beginning with the fable of the Two 
Urns (in page 24) ; or than the Story of Niobe 
which follows a little after. I do not retain enough 
of my Greek (to my shame I say it) to venture 
at an opinion of the correctness of your version. 
What I seem to miss, and what certainly every- 
body misses in Pope, is a certain savage-like 
plainness of speaking in Achilles — a sort of 
indelicacy — the heroes in Homer are not half 


civilized, they utter all the cruel, all the selfish, 
all the mean thoughts even of their nature, which 
it is the fashion of our great men to keep in. I 
cannot, in lack of Greek, point to any one place 
— but I remember the general feature as I read 
him at school. But your principles and turn 
of mind would, I have no doubt, lead you to 
civilize his phrases, and sometimes to half christen 

I have marked a few verbal slips, the doing 
of which cannot be called criticism, or it is as if 
a reviewer being taken ill, his printer's compos- 
itor or reader were called to supply his place. 

Lines 243, 244, 245 are the flattest lines in 
the whole : 

But now be open, and declare thy mind, 

For I confess 1 feel myself inclined, 

Indeed impelVd by Jove's command to go, 

And face the man the cause of all our woe — 

is the cool language of a man and his wife upon 
ordinary occurrences over a peaceable fireside — 
not the waverings of a divinely-impelled, hu- 
manly-shrinking, Priam striving to bolster up 
his own half-doubting inspirations by infusing 
a courage which he does not feel into the aged 
partner of his throne, that she may give it back 
to him. I should not have exprest myself thus 
petulantly, if there were many more, or indeed 
any more such lines in the translation, but they 
stopt the current of my feeling in the place, and 
I hope you will pardon my expressions. 


[Lamb comments on Trau$o<f>6voi,o in the line 
(506) avBpbs iraL&ofyovoio ttotl <xrd/u,a x e ^P' opeye- 
crdcu :] 

I don't know Homer's word, not having my 
books about me, but surely in English, Priam 
would have said the slayer of my son, not call'd 
Achilles murderer, at such a time. That is rather 
too plain for the homely-speaking Homeric he- 

[Again, Mr. Lloyd had translated Tvpfiov in the 
line (666) ivSeKdrySd Ke rupftov eV avrai Trotrjcrai- 
pev, and crrjfia in lines 799 and 801 'tumulus':] 

Tumulus is too much like making Homer talk 
Latin. Tumulus is always spoken by an English 
mouth with a consciousness of scientific attainment. 
Priam and his people were no scholars — plain 
downright fighting men. 

[Of the use of the word ' minstrels ' for doiSous 
(singers) in the line (720) rp^Tois Iv Xexeecrcn, 
decrav, irapd, 8'elcrav doiSovs, Lamb said :] 

Minstrels, I suspect to be a word bringing 
merely English or English ballad feeling to the 
mind. It expresses the thing and something 
more, as to say Sarpedon was a gentleman, or as 
somebody translated Paul's address " Ye men 
of Athens," " Gentlemen of Athens." 

I am sure I ought to make many apologies 
for the freedom I have taken, but it will at least 
convince you that I have read the book — which 
I have twice, and the last time with more pleas- 
ure, because more at leisure. I wish you joy of 


an amusement which I somehow seem to have 
done with. Excepting some things for children, 
I have scarce chimed ten couplets in the last as 
many years. 

Be pleased to give my most kind remembrances 
to Mrs. Lloyd ; and please to tell Robert that my 
sister is getting well, and I hope will soon be 
able to take pleasure in his affectionate epistle. 
My love also to Charles, when you write. 

I am, Sir, with the greatest [the last few words, 
including signature, have been cut away.] 

Robert will have told you how pleased I was 
with your truly Horatian Epistle in the Gentle- 
man s Magazine. 


June 19, 1809. 

Dear Sir, — I can only say that I shall be most 
happy to see anything that you can send me at 
any time that has reference to your newly taken 
up pursuits. I will faithfully return the manu- 
script with such observations as a mere acquaint- 
ance with English, and with English poetry, may 
suggest. I dare not dictate in Greek. I am Homo 
unites linguae — your vindication of the lines which 
I had objected to makes me ashamed of the un- 
importance of my remarks : they were not worth 
confuting. Only on Line 33, Page 4, I still re- 
tain my opinion that it should be ' were made.' 


All seem'd to wish that such attempt were made, 1 
Save Juno, Neptune, and the blue-ey'd maid. 

I am glad to see you venture made and maid 
for rhymes. 'T is true their sound is the same. 
But the mind occupied in revolving the different 
meaning of two words so literally the same, is 
diverted from the objection which the mere ear 
would make, and to the mind it is rhyme enough. 
I had not noticed it till this moment of tran- 
scribing the couplet. A timidity of rhyming, 
whether of bringing together sounds too near, or 
too remote to each other, is a fault of the pre- 
sent day. The old English poets were richer in 
their diction, as they were less scrupulous. I 
shall expect your MS. with curiosity. 

I am, Sir, 

Yours with great respect, 

C. Lamb 

My kind remembrances to Robert. I shall 
soon have a little parcel to send him. I am very 
sorry to hear of the ill-health of Sophia. 


July 31, 1809. 

Dear Sir, — The general impression made by 
your translation on the mind of my friend who 
kept your MS. so unreasonably long, as well as 
on another friend who read over a good part of 

[' Mr. Lloyd had written 'be made. 'J 

it with me, was that it gave a great deal more 
of the sense of Homer than either of his two 
great modern translators have done. In several 
expressions which they at first objected to, on 
turning to the Greek they found it completely 
warranted you in the use of them ; and they 
were even surprised that you could combine so 
much fidelity with so much of the turn of the 
best modern improvements in the couplet versi- 
fication. I think of the two, I rather prefer the 
book of the Iliad which you sent me, for the 
sound of the verse ; but the difference of subject 
almost involuntarily modifies verse. I find Cow- 
per is a favourite with nobody. His injudicious 
use of the stately slow Mi] tonic verse in a sub- 
ject so very different has given a distaste. No- 
thing can be more unlike to my fancy than 
Homer and Milton. Homer is perfect prattle, 
tho' exquisite prattle, compared to the deep 
oracular voice of Milton. In Milton you love to 
stop, and saturate your mind with every great 
image or sentiment ; in Homer you want to go 
on, to have more of his agreeable narrative. 
Cowper delays you as much, walking over a 
Bowling Green, as the other does, travelling 
over steep Alpine heights, where the labour en- 
ters into and makes a part of the pleasure. From 
what I have seen, I would certainly be glad to 
hear that you continued your employment quite 
through the poem : that is, for an agreeable 
and honourable recreation to yourself; though 


I should scarce think that (Pope having got the 
ground) a translation in Pope's couplet versi- 
fication would ever supersede his to the public, 
however faithfuller or in some respects better. 
Pitt's Virgil is not much read, I believe, though 
nearer to the original than Dryden's. Perhaps it 
is, that people do not like two Homers or Virgils; 
there is a sort of confusion in it to an English 
reader, who has not a centre of reference in the 
original : when Tate and Brady's Psalms came 
out in our churches, many pious people would not 
substitute them in the room of David's, as they 
call'd Sternhold and Hopkins's. But if you write 
for a relaxation from other sort of occupations 
I can only congratulate you, Sir, on the noble 
choice, as it seems to me, which you have made, 
and express my wonder at the facility which you 
suddenly have arrived at, if (as I suspect) these 
are indeed the first specimens of this sort which 
you have produced. But I cannot help thinking 
that you betray a more practised gait than a late 
beginner could so soon acquire. Perhaps you 
have only resumed what you had formerly laid 
aside as interrupting more necessary avocations. 
I need not add how happy I shall be to see 
at any time what you may please to send me. 
In particular, I should be glad to see that you had 
taken up Horace, which I think you enter into 
as much as any man that was not born in his 
days, and in the Via Longa or Flaminia, or near 
the Forum. 

2 95 

With many apologies for keeping your MS. 
so long, which my friend's engagements in busi- 
ness must excuse, I remain, Dear Sir, yours truly, 

C. L. 

My kind respects to Mrs. LI., and my re- 
membrances to Robert, &c. &c. 



Dear Robert, — Make my apologies to your 
father for not returning his Odyssey sooner, but 
I lent it to a friend who is a better Grecian than 
me, to make remarks on, and he has been so 
busied (he is a Doctor of Laws) that I have res- 
cued the MSS. from him at last by force. He 
has written a few observations. I send you our 
poems. All mine are marked v 1 in the contents. 
The rest are Mary's, all but the Beggar Man, 
which is my brother's. The farce is not at home, 
but you shall have it ere long. 

What follows is for your father to see. 

Mary desires her remembrances. 



Dear Sir, — A friend who has kept your MS. 
unreasonably long has ventured a few remarks on 
the first book. And I have twice read thro' both 


with care, and can only reprehend a few trifling 
expressions with my scanty knowledge of Greek. 
I thank you for the reading of them, and assure 
you they read to me beautifully simple and in the 
manner of the original as far as I understand it. 
Yours truly, C. L. 

My kindest respects to Mrs. Lloyd. 


"Mr. Lloyd had rendered /3oSs 'HeXtoto (Book I, line 8), 
Bullocks of the Sun. Thus Lamb : " Oxen of the Sun, I con- 
jure. Bullocks is too Smithfield and sublunary a word. Oxen 
of the Sun, or of Apollo, but in any case not bullocks." 
Again, Mr. Lloyd had written (Book I, line 69), — 

The Cyclops' eye still rankles in his breast. 

Lamb remarked : " Here is an unlucky confusion of literal 
with figurative language. One man's eye rankles in another's 
breast. ' Cyclops' wrongs ' would do better." 

For SWpos and Krjpvtj (Book I, lines 141, 143) Mr. Lloyd 
rendered " cook " and " butler." 

Lamb said : "These sound too modern — Kitchenish. One 
might be called an officer or servitor, the other a server. 
Milton speaks of these things as the office mean ' of sewer and 
seneschal.' Perhaps sewer is too old. But cook and butler are 
too like modern establishments." 

Lamb thus objects to Mr. Lloyd's employment of a fla- 
grant modernism : " unaffected grace. Is there any word in 
Homer to express affectation ? I think not. Then certainly 
he has no such idea as unaffected."] 



October 30, 1809. 

Dear Coleridge, — I have but this moment 
received your letter, dated the 9th instant, having 
just come off a journey from Wiltshire, where I 
have been with Mary on a visit to Hazlitt. The 
journey has been of infinite service to her. We 
have had nothing but sunshiny days and daily 
walks from eight to twenty miles a-day ; have 
seen Wilton, Salisbury, Stonehenge, &c. Her 
illness lasted but six weeks ; it left her weak, 
but the country has made us whole. We came 
back to our Hogarth Room. I have made several 
acquisitions since you saw them, — and found 
Nos. 8, 9, 10 of The Friend. The account of 
Luther in the Warteburg is as fine as anything 
I ever read. God forbid that a man who has 
such things to say should be silenced for want 
of j[ 1 00. This custom-and-duty age would have 
made the Preacher on the Mount take out a 
licence, and St. Paul's Epistles [would] not [have 
been] missible without a stamp. Oh, that you 
may find means to go on ! But alas ! where is 
Sir G. Beaumont? — Sotheby? What is become 
of the rich auditors in Albemarle Street ? Your 
letter has saddened me. 

I am so tired with my journey, being up all 
night, that I have neither things nor words in 
my power. I believe I exprest my admiration of 
the pamphlet. Its power over me was like that 


which Milton's pamphlets must have had on his 
contemporaries, who were tuned to them. What 
a piece of prose ! Do you hear if it is read at 
all ? I am out of the world of readers. I hate all 
that do read, for they read nothing but reviews 
and new books. I gather myself up unto the old 

I have put up shelves. You never saw a book- 
case in more true harmony with the contents than 
what I 've nailed up in a room, which, though 
new, has more aptitudes for growing old than 
you shall often see ; as one sometimes gets a 
friend in the middle of life, who becomes an 
old friend in a short time. My rooms are lux- 
urious : one is for prints and one for books ; a 
summer and a winter parlour. When shall I ever 
see you in them ? [A dozen lines are here obliter- 
ated by Lamb.] 

My head is so sore, I write I know not what. 
It always is after a 

[The end of the sheet is torn off, and the re- 
mainder of about two lines with the signature is 
missing. — Ed.] 


January I, 1810. 

Dear Robert, — In great haste I write. The 
turkey is down at the fire, and some pleasant 
friends are come in to partake of it. The sender's 
health shall not be forgot. What you tell me 


of your father's perseverance in his honorable task 
gives me great pleasure. Seven books are a serious 
earnest of the whole, which I hope to see finished. 

We had a delightful month in Wiltshire, four 
weeks of uniform fine weather, the only fine days 
which had been all the summer ; saw Salisbury 
Cathedral, Stonehenge, Wilton, &c. Mary is in 
excellent health, and sends her love. Accept of 
mine with my kind respects to Mrs. LI., and to 
your father and mother. 

Coleridge's Friend is occasionally sublime. 
What do you think of that description of Luther 
in his study in one of the earlier numbers ? The 
worst is, he is always promising something which 
never comes, it is now 1 8th number, and con- 
tinues introductory, the 17th (that stupid long 
letter) was nothing better than a prospectus and 
ought to have preceded the 1st number. But I 
rejoice that it lives. 

When you come to London, you will find us 
at No. 2, Inner Temple Lane, with a few old 
books, a few old Hogarths round the room, and 
the household gods at last established. The feel- 
ing of home, which has been slow to come, has 
come at last. May I never move again, but may 
my next lodging be my coffin. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


[This closes the correspondence with Robert Lloyd, who 
died on October 26, 18 11.] 



January 2, 1810. 

Dear Manning, — When I last wrote to you, 
I was in lodgings. I am now in chambers, No. 
2, Inner Temple Lane, where I should be happy 
to see you any evening. Bring any of your friends, 
the Mandarins, with you. I have two sitting- 
rooms : I call them so par excellence, for you may 
stand, or loll, or lean, or try any posture in them ; 
but they are best for sitting ; not squatting down 
Japanese fashion, but the more decorous use of 
the posteriors which European usage has conse- 
crated. I have two of these rooms on the third 
floor, and five sleeping, cooking, &c, rooms, on 
the fourth floor. In my best room is a choice 
collection of the works of Hogarth, an Eng- 
lish painter of some humour. In my next best 
are shelves containing a small but well-chosen 
library. My best room commands a court, in 
which there are trees and a pump, the water of 
which is excellent — cold with brandy, and not 
very insipid without. Here I hope to set up my 
rest, and not quit till Mr. Powell, the under- 
taker, gives me notice that I may have possession 
of my last lodging. He lets lodgings for single 

I sent you a parcel of books by my last, to 
give you some idea of the state of European lit- 
erature. There comes with this two volumes, 
done up as letters, of minor poetry, a sequel to 


Mrs. Leicester ; the best you may suppose mine ; 
the next best are my coadjutor's ; you may amuse 
yourself in guessing them out ; but I must tell 
you mine are but one-third in quantity of the 
whole. So much for a very delicate subject. It 
is hard to speak of one's self, &c. Holcroft had 
finished his life when I wrote to you, and Haz- 
litt has since finished his life — I do not mean his 
own life, but he has finished a life of Holcroft, 
which is going to press. Tuthill is Dr. Tuthill. 
I continue Mr. Lamb. I have published a little 
book for children on titles of honour : and to give 
them some idea of the difference of rank and 
gradual rising, I have made a little scale, sup- 
posing myself to receive the following various 
accessions of dignity from the king, who is the 
fountain of honour — Asatfirst, i,Mr. C.Lamb; 
2, C. Lamb, Esq. ; 3, Sir C. Lamb, Bart. ; 4, 
Baron Lamb of Stamford (where my family 
come from. I have chosen that if ever I should 
have my choice) ; 5, Viscount Lamb ; 6, Earl 
Lamb; 7, Marquis Lamb; 8, Duke Lamb. It 
would look like quibbling to carry it on further, 
and especially as it is not necessary for children 
to go beyond the ordinary titles of sub-regal 
dignity in our own country, otherwise I have 
sometimes in my dreams imagined myself still 
advancing, as 9th, King Lamb; 10th, Emperor 
Lamb ; 1 ith, Pope Innocent, higher than which 
is nothing but the Lamb of God. Puns I have 
not made many (nor punch much), since the date 


of my last; one I cannot help relating. A 
constable in Salisbury Cathedral was telling 
me that eight people dined at the top of the 
spire of the cathedral ; upon which I remarked, 
that they must be very sharp-set. But in gen- 
eral I cultivate the reasoning part of my mind 
more than the imaginative. Do you know Kate 
********* I am stuffed out so with eating 
turkey for dinner, and another turkey for supper 
yesterday (turkey in Europe and turkey in Asia), 
that I can't jog on. It is New- Year here. That 
is, it was New- Year half-a-year back, when I was 
writing this. Nothing puzzles me more than 
time and space, and yet nothing puzzles me less, 
for I never think about them. 

Miss Knap is turned midwife. Never having 
had a child herself, she can't draw any wrong 
analogies from her own case. Dr. Stoddart has 
had twins. There was five shillings to pay the 
nurse. Mrs. Godwin was impannelled on a jury 
of matrons last sessions. She saved a criminal's 

life by giving it as her opinion that The 

judge listened to her with the greatest deference. 

The Persian ambassador is the principal thing 
talked of now. I sent some people to see him 
worship the sun on Primrose Hill at half-past six 
in the morning, 28th November ; but he did not 
come, which makes me think the old fire-wor- 
shippers are a sect almost extinct in Persia. Have 
you trampled on the Cross yet ? The Persian 
ambassador's name is Shaw Ali Mirza. The 


common people call him Shaw Nonsense. While 
I think of it, I have put three letters besides my 
own three into the India post for you, from your 
brother, sister, and some gentleman whose name 
I forget. Will they, have they, did they, come 
safe ? The distance you are at, cuts up tenses by 
the root. I think you said you did not know 
Kate *********j express her by nine stars, 
though she is but one, but if ever one star differed 

from another in glory You must have seen 

her at her father's. Try and remember her. 

Coleridge is bringing out a paper in weekly 
numbers, called The Friend, which I would send, 
if I could ; but the difficulty I had in getting the 
packets of books out to you before deters me ; and 
you '11 want something new to read when you 
come home. It is chiefly intended to puff off 
Wordsworth's poetry ; but there are some noble 
things in it by the by. Except Kate, I have had 
no vision of excellence this year, and she passed 
by like the queen on her coronation day ; you 
don't know whether you saw her or not. Kate 
is fifteen : I go about moping, and sing the old 
pathetic ballad I used to like in my youth, — 

She 's sweet fifteen, 
I 'm one year more. 

Mrs. Bland sung it in boy's clothes the first 
time I heard it. I sometimes think the lower 
notes in my voice are like Mrs. Bland's. That 
glorious singer Braham, one of my lights, is fled. 
He was for a season. He was a rare composition 


of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel, yet all 
these elements mixed up so kindly in him, that 
you could not tell which predominated ; but he 
is gone, and one Phillips is engaged instead. Kate 
is vanished, but Miss B[urrell] is always to be 
met with ! 

Queens drop away, while blue-legg'd Maukin thrives ; 
And courtly Mildred dies while country Madge survives. 

That is not my poetry, but Quarles's ; but haven't 
you observed that the rarest things are the least 
obvious ? Don't show anybody the names in this 
letter. I write confidentially, and wish this 
letter to be considered as private. Hazlitt has 
written a grammar for Godwin ; Godwin sells 
it bound up with a treatise of his own on lan- 
guage, but the grey mare is the better horse. I don't 
allude to Mrs. Godwin, but to the word gram- 
mar, which comes near to grey mare, if you ob- 
serve, in sound. That figure is called paranomasia 
in Greek. I am sometimes happy in it. An old 
woman begged of me for charity. " Ah ! sir," 
said she, " I have seen better days;" " So have I, 
good woman," I replied ; but I meant literally, 
days not so rainy and overcast as that on which 
she begged : she meant more prosperous days. 
Mr. Dawe is made associate of the Royal Acad- 
emy. By what law of association I can't guess. 
Mrs. Holcroft, Miss Holcroft, Mr. and Mrs. 
Godwin, Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt, Mrs. Martin 
and Louisa, Mrs. Lum, Capt. Burney, Mrs. Bur- 
ney, Martin Burney, Mr. Rickman, Mrs. Rick- 


man, Dr. Stoddart, William Dollin, Mr. Thomp- 
son, Mr. and Mrs. Norris, Mr. Fenwick, Mrs. 
Fenwick, Miss Fenwick, a man that saw you at 
our house one day, and a lady that heard me 
speak of you ; Mrs. Buffam that heard Hazlitt 
mention you, Dr. Tuthill, Mrs. Tuthill, Colonel 
Harwood, Mrs. Harwood, Mr. Collier, Mrs. 
Collier, Mr. Sutton, Nurse, Mr. Fell, Mrs. Fell, 
Mr. Marshall, are very well, and occasionally 
inquire after you. Mary sends her love. [End of 
letter cut away.] 

[Dated by H. C. R. February 7, 18 10.] 

Dear R., — My brother whom you have met 
at my rooms (a plump good-looking man of seven 
and forty !) has written a book about humanity, 
which I transmit to you herewith. Wilson the 
publisher has put it in his head that you can get 
it reviewed for him. I daresay it is not in the 
scope of your Review ; but if you could put it 
in any likely train, he would rejoice. For alas ! 
our boasted humanity partakes of vanity. As 
it is, he teases me to death with chusing to sup- 
pose that I could get it into all the Reviews 
at a moment's notice — I ! ! who have been set 
up as a mark for them to throw at, and would 
willingly consign them all to hell flames and 
Megasra's snaky locks. 

But here 's the book — and don't shew it Mrs. 

Collier, for I remember she makes excellent eel 
soup, and the leading points of the book are 
directed against that very process. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 

At home to-night — Wednesday. 


March 10, 1810. 

My dear Sir, — The above are all the faults I, 
who profess myself to be a mere English reader, 
could find after a scrupulous perusal twice over 
of your neat little book. I assure you it gave me 
great pleasure in the perusal, much more in this 
shape than in the manuscript, and I should be 
very sorry you should give up the finishing of 
it on so poor pretence as your age [sixty-two], 
which is not so much by ten years as Dryden's 
when he wrote his fables, which are his best 
works allowed, and not more than Milton's 
when he had scarce entered upon his original 
Epic Poem. You have done nearly a third; per- 
severe and let us see the whole. I am sure I 
should prize it for its Homeric plainness and 
truth above the confederate jumble of Pope, 
Broome, and Fenton which goes under Pope's 
name, and is far inferior to his Iliad. I have 
picked out what I think blemishes, but they are 
but a score of words (I am a mere word-pecker) 
in six times as many pages. The rest all gave 


me pleasure, and most of all the book [the sixth] 
in which Ulysses and Nausicaa meet. You have 
infused a kind of biblical patriarchal manner 
into it, it reads like some story of Jacob and 
Rachel, or some of those primitive manners. I am 
ashamed to carp at words, but I did it in obedi- 
ence to your desires, and the plain reason why 
I did not acknowledge your kind present sooner 
was that I had no criticisms of value to make. 
I shall certainly beg the opinion of my friend 
who read the two first books on this enlarged 
performance. But he is so very much engaged 
that I cannot at present get at him, and besides 
him I have no acquaintance that takes much in- 
terest in poetry, Greek or English. But I hope 
and adjure you to go on and do not make excuses 
of age till you have completed the Odyssey, and 
done a great part of Horace besides. Then you 
will be entitled to hang up your harp. 

I am, dear Sir, with love to all your family, 
Your humble servant, C. Lamb 


April 9, 1 8 10. 

Dear Gutch, — I did not see your brother, 
who brought me Wither ; but he understood, he 
said, you were daily expecting to come to town : 
this has prevented my writing. The books have 
pleased me excessively : I should think you could 
not have made a better selection. I never saw 


Philarete before — judge of my pleasure. I could 
not forbear scribbling certain critiques in pencil 
on the blank leaves. Shall I send them, or may 
I expect to see you in town ? Some of them are 
remarks on the character of Wither and of his 
writings. Do you mean to have anything of 
that kind ? 

What I have said on Philarete is poor, but I 
think some of the rest not so bad : perhaps I have 
exceeded my commission in scrawling over the 
copies ; but my delight therein must excuse me, 
and pencil-marks will rub out. Where is the 
Life ? Write, for I am quite in the dark. 

Yours, with many thanks, C. Lamb 

Perhaps I could digest the few critiques pre- 
fixed to the Satires, Shepherds Hunting, &c, into 
a short abstract of Wither's character and works, 
at the end of his Life. But, maybe, you don't 
want anything, and have said all you wish in the 


Mr. Hazlitt's : Winterslow, near Sarum, 
July 12, 1810. 

Dear [Montagu], — I have turned and twisted 
the MSS. in my head, and can make nothing of 
them. I knew when I took them that I could 
not ; but I do not like to do an act of ungracious 
necessity at once ; so I am ever committing 
myself by half engagements and total failures. 


I cannot make anybody understand why I can't 
do such things. It is a defect in my occiput. 
I cannot put other people's thoughts together ; 
I forget every paragraph as fast as I read it ; 
and my head has received such a shock by an 
all-night journey on the top of the coach, that 
I shall have enough to do to nurse it into its 
natural pace before I go home. I must devote 
myself to imbecility. I must be gloriously use- 
less while I stay here. 

How is Mrs. [M.] ? will she pardon my in- 
efficiency ? The city of Salisbury is full of weep- 
ing and wailing. The bank has stopt payment; 
and everybody in the town kept money at it, or 
has got some of its notes. Some have lost all they 
had in the world. It is the next thing to seeing 
a city with a plague within its walls. The Wil- 
ton people are all undone. All the manufacturers 
there kept cash at the Salisbury bank ; and I do 
suppose it to be the unhappiest county in Eng- 
land this, where I am making holiday. 

We purpose setting out for Oxford Tuesday 
fortnight, and coming thereby home. But no 
more night travelling. My head is sore (under- 
stand it of the inside) with that deduction of 
my natural rest which I suffered coming down. 
Neither Mary nor I can spare a morsel of our 
rest. It is incumbent on us to be misers of it. 
Travelling is not good for us : we travel so seldom. 
If the sun be hell, it is not for the fire, but for 
the sempiternal motion of that miserable body 


of light. How much more dignified leisure hath 
a mussel glued to his unpassable rocky limit, 
two inch -square ! He hears the tide roll over 
him, backwards and forwards twice a-day (as the 
damned Salisbury long coach goes and returns 
in eight and forty hours), but knows better than 
to take an outside night-place a top on't. He is 
the owl of the sea — Minerva's fish — the fish 
of wisdom. 

Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. [M.] 
Yours truly, C. Lamb 


August 9, 1810. 

Dear H., — Epistemon is not well. Our pleas- 
ant excursion has ended sadly for one of us. 
You will guess I mean my sister. She got home 
very well (I was very ill on the journey), and 
continued so till Monday night, when her com- 
plaint came on, and she is now absent from home. 

I am glad to hear you are all well. I think 
I shall be mad if I take any more journeys with 
two experiences against it. I find all well here. 
Kind remembrances to Sarah; have just got her 

H. Robinson has been to Blenheim. He says 
you will be sorry to hear that we should have 
asked for the Titian Gallery there. One of his 
friends knew of it, and asked to see it. It is 
never shown but to those who inquire for it. 


The pictures are all Titians, Jupiter and Ledas, 
Mars and Venuses, &c, all naked pictures, which 
may be a reason they don't show it to females. 
But he says they are very fine; and perhaps it 
is shown separately to put another fee into the 
shower's pocket. Well, I shall never see it. 

I have lost all wish for sights. God bless you. 
I shall be glad to see you in London. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


September 18, 1810. 

Dear Mrs. Clarkson, — I did not write till I 
could have the satisfaction of sending you word 
that my sister was better. She is in fact quite 
restored, and will be with me in little more than 
a week. I received Mr. C.'s letter and transmit- 
ted it to Hazlitt — my kind love to him, and to 
Miss W. Tell her I hope that while she stays in 
London, she will make our chambers her lodg- 
ing. If she can put up with half a bed, I am sure 
she will be a most welcome visitor to Mary and 
me. The Montagu's set out for the North this 
day. What fine things they are going to see, 
for the first time ! which I have seen, but in 
all human probability shall never see again ! — 
the mountains often come back to me in my 
dreams, or rather I miss them at those times, for 
I have been repeatedly haunted with the same 
dream, which is that I am in Cumberland, that 


I have been there some weeks, and am at the end 
of my holidays, but in all that time I have not 
seen Skiddaw, &c, — the hills are all vanished, 
and I shall go home without seeing them. The 
trouble of this dream denotes the weight they 
must have had on my mind, and while I was 
there, which was almost oppressive, and perhaps 
is caused by the great difficulty I have in recall- 
ing anything like a distinct form of any one of 
those great masses to my memory. 

Bless me, I have scarce left room to say Good- 
bye. C. Lamb 


East India House, October 19, 18 10. 

Dear W., — I forwarded the letter which you 
sent to me, without opening it, to your sister at 
Binfield. She has returned it to me, and begs 
me to tell you that she intends returning from 
B. on Monday or Tuesday next, when Priscilla 
leaves it, and that it was her earnest wish to spend 
another week with us in London, but she awaits 
another letter from home to determine her. I 
can only say that she appeared so much pleased 
with London, and that she is so little likely to 
see it again for a long time, that if you can spare 
her, it will be almost a pity not. But doubtless 
she will have heard again from you, before I can 
get a reply to this letter, and what she next hears 
she says will be decisive. If wanted, she will set 


out immediately from London. Mary has been 
very ill, which you have heard I suppose from 
the Montagues. She is very weak and low-spir- 
ited now. I was much pleased with your contin- 
uation of the Essay on Epitaphs. It is the only 
sensible thing which has been written on that 
subject, and it goes to the bottom. In particular 
I was pleased with your translation of that turgid 
epitaph into the plain feeling under it. It is per- 
fectly a test. But what is the reason we have so 
few good epitaphs after all ? 

A very striking instance of your position might 
be found in the churchyard of Ditton-upon- 
Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton-upon 
Thames has been blessed by the residence of a 
poet, who for love or money, I do not well know 
which, has dignified every gravestone for the last 
few years with bran-new verses, all different, and 
all ingenious, with the author's name at the bot- 
tom of each. The sweet Swan of Thames has 
artfully diversified his strains and his rhymes, that 
the same thought never occurs twice. More justly 
perhaps, as no thought ever occurs at all, there 
was a physical impossibility that the same thought 
should recur. It is long since I saw and read 
these inscriptions, but I remember the impres- 
sion was of a smug usher at his desk, in the in- 
tervals of instruction levelling his pen. 

Of death, as it consists of dust and worms, and 
mourners and uncertainty, he had never thought, 
but the word " death " he had often seen separ- 


ate and conjunct with other words, till he had 
learned to skill of all its attributes as glibly as 
Unitarian Belsham will discuss you the attributes 
of the word " God" in a pulpit, and will talk 
of infinity with a tongue that dangles from a 
scull that never reached in thought and thorough 
imagination two inches, or further than from his 
hand to his mouth, or from the vestry to the 
sounding board. [But the] epitaphs were trim 
and sprag and patent, and pleased the survivors 
of Thames-Ditton above the old mumpsimus of 
" Afflictions Sore." 

To do justice though, it must be owned that 
even the excellent feeling which dictated this 
dirge when new, must have suffered something 
in passing thro' so many thousand applications, 
many of them no doubt quite misplaced, as I 
have seen in Islington churchyard (I think) an 
epitaph to an infant who died " Aetatis four 
months," with this seasonable inscription ap- 
pended, " Honor thy father and mother that thy 
days may be long in the land," &c. 

Sincerely wishing your children better [words 
cut out with signature], 


November 13, 18 10. 

[The following was added by Charles Lamb 
to a letter written by his sister Mary :] 

Mary has left a little space for me to fill up 


with nonsense, as the geographers used to cram 
monsters in the voids of their maps and call it 
terra incognita. She has told you how she has 
taken to water, like a hungry otter. I too limp 
after her in lame imitation, but it goes against 
me a little at first. I have been aquavorous now 
for full four days, and it seems a moon. I am 
full of cramps and rheumatisms, and cold inter- 
nally so that fire won't warm me, yet I bear all 
for virtue's sake. Must I then leave you, gin, 
rum, brandy, aqua vitae — pleasant jolly fellows 
— damn temperance and them that first invented 
it, some Anti-Noahite. 

Coleridge has powdered his head, and looks 
like Bacchus, Bacchus ever sleek and young. 
He is going to turn sober, but his Clock has not 
struck yet, meantime he pours down goblet after 
goblet, the second to see where the first is gone, 
the third to see no harm happens to the second, 
a fourth to say there 's another coming, and a 
fifth to say he 's not sure he 's the last. William 
Henshaw is dead. He died yesterday, aged fifty- 
six. It was but a twelvemonth or so back that 
his father, an ancient gunsmith, and my god- 
father, sounded me as to my willingness to be 
guardian to this William in case of his (the old 
man's) death. William had three times broke 
in business, twice in England, once in t' other 
hemisphere. He returned from America a sot 
and hath liquidated all debts. What a hopeful 
ward I am rid of, — aetatis fifty-six. I must have 


taken care of his morals, seen that he did not 
form imprudent connections, given my consent 
before he could have married, &c. From all 
which the stroke of death hath relieved me. 
Mrs. Reynolds is the name of the lady to whom 
I will remember you to-morrow. Farewell. 
Wish me strength to continue. I 've been eating 
jugg'd hare. The toast and water makes me 
quite sick. C. Lamb 


November 23, 1810. 

[The following was added by Charles Lamb 
to a letter written by his sister Mary :] 

We are in a pickle. Mary from her affectation 
of physiognomy has hired a stupid big country 
wench who looked honest, as she thought, and 
has been doing her work some days, but with- 
out eating — eats no butter nor meat, but prefers 
cheese with her tea for breakfast — and now it 
comes out that she was ill when she came with 
lifting her mother about (who is now with God) 
when she was dying, and with riding up from Nor- 
folk four days and nights in the waggon. She got 
advice yesterday and took something which has 
made her bring up a quart of blood, and she now 
lies, a dead weight upon our humanity, in her bed, 
incapable of getting up, refusing to go into an hos- 
pital, having nobody in town but a poor asth- 
matic dying uncle, whose son lately married a drab 

3 J 7 

who fills his house, and there is nowhere she 
can go, and she seems to have made up her 
mind to take her flight to heaven from our bed. 
— O God ! O God ! — for the little wheelbarrow 
which trundled the hunchback from door to 
door to try the various charities of different pro- 
fessions of mankind ! 

Here 's her uncle just crawled up, he is far liker 
death than she. O the parish, the parish, the 
hospital, the infirmary, the charnel-house, these 
are places meet for such guests, not our quiet man- 
sion where nothing but affluent plenty and liter- 
ary ease should abound. Howard's House, How- 
ard's House, or where the parylitic descended 
thro' the skylight (what a God's gift !) to get at 
our Saviour. In this perplexity such topics as 
Spanish papers and Monk-houses sink into com- 
parative insignificance. What shall we do? — 
If she died, it were something : gladly would I 
pay the coffin-maker and the bellman and search- 
ers — O Christ. C. Lamb 


November 28, 18 10. 

Dear Hazlitt, — I sent you on Saturday a Cob- 
bett, containing your reply to the Edinburgh Re- 
view, which I thought you would be glad to 
receive as an example of attention on the part 
of Mr. Cobbett to insert it so speedily. Did you 
get it? We have received your pig, and return 


you thanks ; it will be dressed in due form, with 
appropriate sauce, this day. Mary has been very 
ill indeed since you saw her ; that is, as ill as she 
can be to remain at home. But she is a good deal 
better now, owing to a very careful regimen. She 
drinks nothing but water, and never goes out; 
she does not even go to the captain's. Her indis- 
position has been ever since that night you left 
town; the night Miss W[ordsworth] came. Her 
coming, and that damned Mrs. Godwin coming 
and staying so late that night, so overset her that 
she lay broad awake all that night, and it was by 
a miracle that she escaped a very bad illness, 
which I thoroughly expected. I have made up 
my mind that she shall never have any one in the 
house again with her, and that no one shall sleep 
with her, not even for a night ; for it is a very 
serious thing to be always living with a kind of 
fever upon her ; and therefore I am sure you will 
take it in good part if I say that if Mrs. Hazlitt 
comes to town at any time, however glad we shall 
be to see her in the daytime, I cannot ask her 
to spend a night under our roof. Some decision 
we must come to, for the harassing fever that we 
have both been in, owing to Miss Wordsworth's 
coming, is not to be borne; and I would rather 
be dead than so alive. However, at present, 
owing to a regimen and medicines which Tut- 
hill has given her, who very kindly volunteer'd 
the care of her, she is a great deal quieter, though 
too much harassed by company, who cannot or 

3 IQ 

will not see how late hours and society tease 

Poor Phillips had the cup d'ash'd out of his lips 
as it were. He had every prospect of the situation, 
when about ten days since one of the council of 
the R. Society started for the place himself, being 
a rich merchant who lately failed, and he will cer- 
tainly be elected on Friday next. P. is very sore 
and miserable about it. 

Coleridge is in town, or at least at Hammer- 
smith. He is writing or going to write in the 
Courier against Cobbett, and in favour of paper 

No news. Remember me kindly to Sarah. I 
write from the office. 

Yours ever, C. Lamb 

I just open'd it to say the pig, upon proof, hath 
turned out as good as I predicted. My fauces yet 
retain the sweet porcine odour. I find you have 
received the Cobbett. I think your paper com- 

Mrs. Reynolds, who is a sage woman, approves 
of the pig. 


[No date] 1810. 

Dear Godwin, — I have found it for several 
reasons indispensable to my comfort, and to my 
sister's, to have no visitors in the forenoon. If I 


cannot accomplish this I am determined to leave 

I am extremely sorry to do anything in the 
slightest degree that may seem offensive to you 
or to Mrs. Godwin, but when a general rule 
is fixed on, you know how odious in a case of 
this sort it is to make exceptions ; I assure you 
I have given up more than one friendship in 
stickling for this point. It would be unfair to 
those from whom I have parted with regret 
to make exceptions, which I would not do for 

Let me request you not to be offended, and 
to request Mrs. G. not to be offended, if I beg 
both your compliances with this wish. Your 
friendship is as dear to me as that of any person 
on earth, and if it were not for the necessity of 
keeping tranquillity at home, I would not seem 
so unreasonable. 

If you were to see the agitation that my sister 
is in, between the fear of offending you and 
Mrs. G. and the difficulty of maintaining a sys- 
tem which she feels we must do to live with- 
out wretchedness, you would excuse this seem- 
ing strange request, which I send you with 
a trembling anxiety as to its reception with you, 
whom I would never offend. I rely on your 
goodness. C. Lamb 

3 21 


March 8, 1811. 

There, don't read any further, because the letter 
is not intended for you, but for Coleridge, who 
might perhaps not have opened it directed to him 
suo nomine. It is to invite C. to Lady Jerning- 
ham's on Sunday. Her address is to be found 
within. We come to Hammersmith notwith- 
standing on Sunday, and hope Mrs. M. will not 
think of getting us green peas or any such ex- 
pensive luxuries. A plate of plain turtle, another 
of turbot, with good roast beef in the rear, and, 
as Alderman Curtis says, whoever can't make a 
dinner of that ought to be damn'd. 

C. Lamb 


October 2, 181 1. 

[The following was added by Charles Lamb 
to letter of same date written by his sister Mary 
to Sarah Hazlitt:] 

Dear Hazlitt, — I cannot help accompanying 
my sister's congratulations to Sarah with some 
of my own to you on this happy occasion of a 
man child being born. 

Delighted fancy already sees him some future 
rich alderman or opulent merchant; painting per- 
haps a little in his leisure hours for amusement 
like the late H. Bunbury, Esq. 


Pray, are the Winterslow estates entailed ? I 
am afraid lest the young dog when he grows up 
should cut down the woods, and leave no groves 
for widows to take their lonesome solace in. 
The Wem estate of course can only devolve on 
him, in case of your brother leaving no male 

Well, my blessing and heaven's be upon him, 
and make him like his father, with something 
a better temper and a smoother head of hair, 
and then all the men and women must love 

Martin and the card-boys join in congratula- 
tions. Love to Sarah. Sorry we are not within 
caudle-shot. C. Lamb 

If the widow be assistant on this notable occa- 
sion, give our due respects and kind remembrances 
to her. 


September 8, 1812. 

Dear Sir, — I return you thanks for your little 
book. I am no great Latinist, but you appear to 
me to have very happily caught the Horatian 
manner. Some of them I had seen before. What 
gave me most satisfaction has been the 14th Epis- 
tle (its easy and gentlemanlike beginning, par- 
ticularly), and perhaps next to that, the Epistle 
to Augustus, which reads well even after Pope's 

3 2 3 

delightful imitation of it. What I think the least 
finished is the 18th Epistle. It is a metre which 
never gave me much pleasure. I like your eight 
syllable verses very much. They suit the epis- 
tolary style quite as well as the ten. I am only 
sorry not to find the Satires in the same volume. 
I hope we may expect them. I proceed to find 
some few oversights, if you will indulge me, or 
what seem so to me, for I have neglected my 
Latin (and quite lost my Greek) since I left con- 
struing it at school. I will take them as I find 
them mark'd in order, — 

[Virtutem verba putas et 
Lucum ligna ? (Bk. I, Epist. VI) 

was rendered thus by Lloyd, — 

Think'st thou that virtue is composed of words, 
As some men think a grove composed of boards ?] 

I do not quite like rendering ligna, boards. I 
take the passage to allude to the religious char- 
acter of their groves, and that Horace means to 
say, "If you are one who think virtue to be mere 
words, and account no more of a grove (that is, 
of a consecrated place) than of so much timber." 
As I should say, if you look upon a church as 
only so much brick and mortar, i. e. divested of 
its sacred character. I don't know if I am right 
— but boards sound awkward to me : timber I 
think should be the word. Timber is a word we 
apply to wood dead or alive. Boards only to the 
dead wood. 

3 2 4 

[Mr. Lloyd had converted Horace's 

Dum pueris omnis pater et matercula pallet, 
OfHciosaque sedulitas et opella forensis 
Adducit febres et testamenta resignat. 

(Bk. I, Epist. VII) 


Now fathers and mothers are pale for their boys, 
And the forum's engagements, its bustle and noise, 
And officious attention, together combine 
To bring fevers, which cause us our wills to resign.] 

Our wills to resign is literally the rendering of 
testamenta resignare — and would it not also as 
aptly apply to voluntates deponere ? The resigna- 
tion of the will in an hour of sickness gives one 
a Christian idea. At all events, resign should 
have been written re-sign, which would have 
precluded the ambiguity. 

[Again, Mr. Lloyd (Bk. I, Epist. X) : 

Of the old Dove thou keep'st the nest, N 

While I (and think myself more blest) 
Extol the scenes whicb nature yields, 
Rivers which flow thro' verdant fields, &c] 

" Of the old dove thou keep'st the nest." 
Turning to the original, I find it " vetuli notique 
columbi, Tu nidum servas, ego," &c, which I 
have always translated a pair of old and well ac- 
quainted Doves, one of us [you) keep to your nest, 
the other (I) praise the country. I have always 
taken columbi to be plural and to refer to Tu et ego. 
Referring to Creech, I find he translates it as I 

3 2 5 

[In translating Libertino natum patre in Bk. I, 
Epist. XX, Mr. Lloyd had written " From a 
father libertine descended."] 

I don't know whether libertine in our unhappy 
perversion of the meaning would be any great 
compliment to the memory of a parent. In Eng- 
lish it always means a person of loose morals, 
though by transposing the order of the words you 
have perhaps obviated the objection. A libertine 
father would have shocked the ear. The trans- 
position leads us to the Latin meaning, by mak- 
ing us pause a little. I believe this is a foolish 
objection. Horace's own meaning for the word 
was, of course, a " freed man." 

You have two or three times translated solennis 
by "solemn." Has not the English word ac- 
quired a gravity and religion, which the Latin 
did not intend? "Solemnly unsound" — does 
solemnia insanire mean anything more than to be 
mad with leave of custom — to be orderly or 
warrantably mad ? 

[Romae dulce diu fuit et sollemne reclusa 

Mane domo vigilare (Bk. II, Epist. I) 

was rendered by Lloyd, — 

'T was long a custom sanctioned at Rome, 
To spend the morning solemnly at home.] 

"To spend the morning solemnly at home." 
Does solenne fuit mean anything more than that 
it was customary or habitual with them to stay 
at home ? Our solemn is applied only directly to 
forms of religious or grave occasions, as a solemn 


hymn or funeral ; and indirectly or ironically to 
grave stupid people — as a solemn coxcomb — 
which latter I am afraid you will think me for 
being so verbose on a trifling objection. 

[Mr. Lloyd, in the same Epistle, had rendered 
socco, "buskins." It should have been rendered 
by the word sock, which refers to comedy. The 
cothurnus or buskin was the high-raised shoe of 
the tragic actor.] 

Let me only add that I hope you will continue 
an employment which must have been so de- 
lightful to you. That it may have the power of 
stealing you occasionally from some sad thoughts 
is my fervent wish and hope. Pray, Dear Sir, 
give my kindest remembrances to Mrs. Lloyd, 
and to Plumstead — I am afraid I can add no 
more who are likely to remember me. Charles 
and I sometimes correspond. He is a letter in 
my debt. [Signature cut away.] 


[1812 or 1813.] 

Dear Sir, — Mrs. Collier has been kind enough 
to say that you would endeavour to procure 
a reporter's situation for W. Hazlitt. I went to 
consult him upon it last night, and he acceded 
very eagerly to the proposal, and requests me to 
say how very much obliged he feels to your kind- 
ness, and how glad he should be for its success. 
He is, indeed, at his wits' end for a livelihood ; 

3 2 7 

and, I should think, especially qualified for such 
an employment, from his singular facility in re- 
taining all conversations at which he has been 
ever present. I think you may recommend him 
with confidence. I am sure I shall myself be 
obliged to you for your exertions, having a great 
regard for him. 

Yours truly, C. Lamb 


February, 1814. 

Sir, — Your explanation is perfectly pleasant 
to me, and I accede to your proposal most will- 

As I began with the beginning of this month, 
I will if you please call upon you for your part 
of the engagement (supposing I shall have per- 
formed mine) on the first of March next, and 
thenceforward if it suit you quarterly. You will 
occasionally wink at Briskets and Veiny Pieces. 
Your humble servant, C. Lamb 


August 9, 1 8 14. 

Dear Wordsworth, — I cannot tell you how 
pleased I was at the receipt of the great armful 
of poetry which you have sent me, and to get it 
before the rest of the world too ! I have gone 
quite through with it, and was thinking to have 


accomplish'd that pleasure a second time before 
I wrote to thank you, but M. Burney came in 
the night (while we were out) and made holy 
theft of it, but we expect restitution in a day or 
two. It is the noblest conversational poem I 
ever read. A day in heaven. The part (or rather 
main body) which has left the sweetest odour on 
my memory (a bad term for the remains of an 
impression so recent) is the Tales of the Church- 
yard. The only girl among seven brethren, born 
out of due time and not duly taken away again 
— the deaf man and the blind man — the Jaco- 
bite and the Hanoverian whom antipathies re- 
concile — the Scarron-entry of the rusticating 
parson upon his solitude — these were all new to 
me too. My having known the story of Margaret 
(at the beginning), a very old acquaintance, even 
as long back as I saw you first at Stowey, did not 
make her reappearance less fresh. I don't- know 
what to pick out of this best of books upon the 
best subjects for partial naming. 

That gorgeous sunset is famous. I think it 
must have been the identical one we saw on Salis- 
bury plain five years ago, that drew Phillips from 
the card table where he had sat from rise of that 
luminary to its unequall'd set ; but neither he 
nor I had gifted eyes to see those symbols of 
common things glorified, such as the prophets 
saw them, in that sunset — the wheel — the pot- 
ter's clay — the wash pot — the wine-press — 
the almond-tree rod — the baskets of figs — the 

3 2 9 

fourfold visaged head, the throne and Him that 
sat thereon. 

One feeling I was particularly struck with as 
what I recognised so very lately at Harrow 
Church on entering in it after a hot and secular 
day's pleasure, — the instantaneous coolness and 
calming, almost transforming, properties of a 
country church just entered — a certain fragrance 
which it has — either from its holiness, or being 
kept shut all the week, or the air that is let in 
being pure country — exactly what you have 
reduced into words, but I am feeling I cannot. 
The reading your lines about it fixed me for a 
time, a monument, in Harrow Church (do you 
know it ?) with its fine long spire white as wash'd 
marble, to be seen by vantage of its high site as 
far as Salisbury spire itself almost. 

I shall select a day or two very shortly when 
I am coolest in brain to have a steady second 
reading, which I feel will lead to many more, 
for it will be a stock book with me while eyes or 
spectacles shall be lent me. 

There is a deal of noble matter about moun- 
tain scenery, yet not so much as to overpower 
and discountenance a poor Londoner or South 
country man entirely, though Mary seems to 
have felt it occasionally a little too powerfully, 
for it was her remark during reading it that 
by your system it was doubtful whether a liver 
in towns had a soul to be saved. She almost 
trembled for that invisible part of us in her. 


Save for a late excursion to Harrow and a day 
or two on the banks of the Thames this sum- 
mer, rural images were fast fading from my mind, 
and by the wise provision of the Regent all that 
was countryfy'd in the parks is all but obliterated. 
The very colour of green is vanish' d, the whole 
surface of Hyde Park is dry crumbling sand 
(Arabia Arenosa), not a vestige or hint of grass 
ever having grown there, booths and drinking 
places go all round it for a mile and half I am 
confident — I might say two miles in circuit — 
the stench of liquors, bad tobacco, dirty people 
and provisions, conquers the air and we are stifled 
and suffocated in Hyde Park. 

Order after order has been issued by Lord 
Sidmouth in the name of the Regent (acting in 
behalf of his Royal father) for the dispersion of 
the varlets, but in vain. The vis unita of all the 
publicans in London, Westminster, Marybone, 
and miles round is too powerful a force to put 
down. The Regent has rais'd a phantom which 
he cannot lay. There they'll stay probably for- 
ever. The whole beauty of the place is gone — 
that lake-look of the Serpentine — it has got 
foolish ships upon it — but something whispers 
to have confidence in nature and its revival, — 

at the coming of the milder day 
These monuments shall all be overgrown. 

Meantime I confess to have smoked one delicious 
pipe in one of the cleanliest and goodliest of the 
booths — a tent rather, " O call it not a booth ! " 

33 1 

— erected by the public spirit of Watson, who 
keeps the Adam and Eve at Pancras (the ale 
houses have all emigrated with their train of 
bottles, mugs, corkscrews, waiters, into Hyde 
Park — whole ale houses with all their ale !) in 
company with some of the guards that had been 
in France and a fine French girl (habited like a 
princess of banditti) which one of the dogs had 
transported from the Garonne to the Serpentine. 
The unusual scene, in Hyde Park, by candle- 
light in open air, good tobacco, bottled stout, 
made it look like an interval in a campaign, a 
repose after battle. I almost fancied scars smart- 
ing, and was ready to club a story with my com- 
rades of some of my lying deeds. 

After all, the fireworks were splendid — the 
rockets in clusters, in trees and all shapes, spread- 
ing about like young stars in the making, floun- 
dering about in space (like unbroke horses) till 
some of Newton's calculations should fix them, 
but then they went out. Any one who could 
see 'em and the still finer showers of gloomy rain 
fire that fell sulkily and angrily from 'em, and 
could go to bed without dreaming of the Last 
Day, must be as hardened an Atheist as ***** * 
[? Godwin.] 

Again let me thank you for your present, and as- 
sure you that fireworks and triumphs have not dis- 
tracted me from receiving a calm and noble en- 
joyment from it (which I trust I shall often), and 
I sincerely congratulate you on its appearance. 

33 2 

With kindest remembrances to you and house- 
hold, we remain yours sincerely, 

C. Lamb and Sister 


August 13, 1 814. 

Dear Resuscitate, — There comes to you by 
the vehicle from Lad Lane this day a volume of 
German; what it is I cannot justly say, the char- 
acters of those northern nations having been 
always singularly harsh and unpleasant to me. It 
is a contribution of Dr. Southey towards your 
wants, and you would have had it sooner but for 
an odd accident. I wrote for it three days ago, 
and the Doctor, as he thought, sent it me. A 
book of like exterior he did send, but being dis- 
closed, how far unlike. It was the Well-bred 
Scholar, — a book with which it seems the Doctor 
laudably fills up those hours which he can steal 
from his medical avocations. Chesterfield, Blair, 
Beattie, portions from The Life of Savage, make 
up a prettyish system of morality and the Belles- 
Lettres, which Mr. Mylne, a schoolmaster, has 
properly brought together, and calls the collec- 
tion by the denomination above mentioned. The 
Doctor had no sooner discovered his error than 
he despatched man and horse to rectify the mis- 
take, and with a pretty kind of ingenuous mod- 

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


esty in his note seemeth to deny any knowledge 
of the Well-bred Scholar; false modesty surely and 
a blush misplaced ; for, what more pleasing than 
the consideration of professional austerity thus 
relaxing, thus improving ; but so, when a child 
I remember blushing, being caught on my knees 
to my Maker, or doing otherwise some pious and 
praiseworthy action ; now I rather love such things 
to be seen. 

Henry Crabb Robinson is out upon his circuit, 
and his books are inaccessible without his leave 
and key. He is attending the Midland Circuit, 
— a short term, but to him, as to many young 
lawyers, a long vacation sufficiently dreary. I 
thought I could do no better than transmit to 
him, not extracts, but your very letter itself, than 
which I think I never read anything more mov- 
ing, more pathetic, or more conducive to the 
purpose of persuasion. The Crab is a sour Crab 
if it does not sweeten him. I think it would draw 
another third volume of Dodsley out of me ; but 
you say you don't want any English books. Per- 
haps, after all, that 's as well ; one's romantic credu- 
lity is for ever misleading [one] into misplaced 
acts of fool[ery]. Crab might have answered by 
this time: his juices take a long time suppl[y]ing, 
but they'll run at last, — I know they will, — 
pure golden pippin. His address is at T. Robin- 
son's, Bury, and if on circuit, to be forwarded 
immediately — such my peremptory superscrip- 
tion. A fearful rumour has since reached me that 


the Crab is on the eve of setting out for France. 
If he is in England, your letter will reach him, 
and I flatter myself a touch of the persuasive of 
my own, which accompanies it, will not be thrown 
away ; if it be, he is a sloe, and no true-hearted 
crab, and there 's an end. For that life of the 
German conjuror which you speak of, Colerus de 
Vita Doctoris vix-Intelligibilis, I perfectly remem- 
ber the last evening we spent with Mrs. Mor- 
gan and Miss Brent, in London Street (by that 
token we had raw rabbits for supper, and Miss 
Brent prevailed upon me to take a glass of brandy 
and water after supper, which is not my habit), 
— I perfectly remember reading portions of that 
life in their parlour, and I think it must be among 
their packages. It was the very last evening we 
were at that house. What is gone of that frank- 
hearted circle, Morgan and his gos-lettuces ? He 
eat[s] walnuts better than any man I ever knew. 
Friendships in these parts stagnate. 

One piece of news I know will give you pleas- 
ure, Rickman is made a Clerk to the House of 
Commons, ^2000 a year with greater expecta- 
tions — but that is not the news — but it is — 
that poor card-playing Phillips, that has felt him- 
self for so many years the outcast of Fortune, 
which feeling pervaded his very intellect till it 
made the destiny it feared, withering his hopes 
in the great and little games of life — by favour 
of the single star that ever shone upon him since 
his birth, has strangely stept into — Rickman's 


Secretaryship — sword, bag, House and all — from 
a hopeless ^iooa year, eaten up aforehand with 
desperate debts, to a clear ^400 or ^500 — it 
almost reconciles me to the belief of a moral 
government of the world. 

The man stares and gapes and seems to be 
always wondering at what has befallen him — 
he tries to be eager at cribbage, but alas ! the 
source of that interest is dried up for ever ; he no 
longer plays for his next day's meal, or to deter- 
mine whether he shall have a half dinner or a 
whole dinner, whether he shall buy a pair of black 
silk stockings or coax his old ones a week or two 
longer, the poor man's relish of a trump, the four 
honours, is gone — and I do not know whether 
if we could get at the bottom of things, whether 
poor star-doomed Phillips with his hair staring 
with despair was not a happier being than the 
sleek, well-combed, oily-pated Secretary that has 
succeeded. The gift is, however, clogged with 
one stipulation, that the Secretary do remain a 
single man. Here I smell Rickman. Thus at 
once are gone all Phillips's matrimonial dreams, 
those verses which he wrote himself and those 
which a superior pen (with modesty let me speak 
as I name no names) indited for him to Elisa, 
Amelia, &c. — for Phillips was always a wife- 
hunting, probably, from the circumstance of his 
having formed an extreme rash connection in 
early life which paved the way to all his after 
misfortunes, but there is an obstinacy in human 

33 6 

nature which such accidents only serve to whet 
on to try again. Pleasure thus at two entrances 
quite shut out, I hardly know how to determine 
of Phillips's result of happiness. He appears satis- 
fy' d, but never those bursts of gaiety, those 
moment-rules from the Cave of Despondency, 
that used to make his face shine and show the 
lines that care had marked in it. I would bet an 
even wager he marries secretly, the Speaker finds 
it out, and he is reverted to his old liberty and 
a hundred pounds a year. These are but specula- 
tions ; I can think of no other news. 

I am going to eat turbot, turtle, venison, mar- 
row pudd[ing], — cold punch, claret, Madeira, 
— at our annual feast, at half-past four this day. 
Mary has ordered the bolt to my bedroom door 
inside to be taken off and a practicable latch to 
be put on, that I may n't bar myself in and be 
suffocated by my neckcloth, so we have taken 
all precautions, three watchmen are engaged to 
carry the body upstairs. — Pray for me Obliter- 

They keep bothering me (I 'm at office), and 
my ideas are confused. Let me know if I can be 
of any service as to books. God forbid the Archi- 
tectonicon should be sacrificed to a foolish scruple 
of some book proprietor, as if books did not 
belong with the highest propriety to those that 
understand 'em best. 

C. Lamb 


xZIk ixionsas press