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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1801

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
‣ Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
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Produced by CATH
[p.m. January 30, 1801.]

THANKS for your Letter and Present. I had already borrowed your second volume. What most please me are, the Song of Lucy. . . . Simon’s sickly daughter in the Sexton made me cry. Next to these are the description of the continuous Echoes in the story of Joanna’s laugh, where the mountains and all the scenery absolutely seem alive—and that fine Shakesperian character of the Happy Man, in the Brothers,
—that creeps about the fields,
Following his fancies by the hour, to bring
Tears down his cheek, or solitary smiles
Into his face, until the Setting Sun
Write Fool upon his forehead.
I will mention one more: the delicate and curious feeling in the wish for the
Cumberland Beggar, that he may have about him the melody of Birds, altho’ he hear them not. Here the mind knowingly passes a fiction upon herself, first substituting her own feelings for the Beggar’s, and, in the same breath detecting the fallacy, will not part with the wish.—The Poet’s Epitaph is disfigured, to my taste by the vulgar satire upon parsons and lawyers in the beginning, and the coarse epithet of pin point in the 6th stanza. All the rest is eminently good, and your own. I will just add that it appears to me a fault in the Beggar, that the instructions conveyed in it are too direct and like a lecture: they don’t slide into the mind of the reader, while he is imagining no such matter. An intelligent reader finds a sort of insult in being told, I will teach you how to think upon this subject. This fault, if I am right, is in a ten-thousandth worse degree to be found in Sterne and many many novelists & modern poets, who continually put a sign post up to shew where you are to feel. They set out with assuming their readers to be stupid. Very different from Robinson Crusoe, the Vicar of Wakefield, Roderick Random, and other beautiful bare narratives. There is implied an unwritten compact between Author and reader; I will tell you a story, and I suppose you will understand it Modern novels “St. Leons” and the like are full of such flowers as these “Let not my reader suppose,” “Imagine, if you can”—modest!—&c,—I will here have done with praise and blame. I have written so much, only that you may not think I have passed over your book without observation.—I am sorry that Coleridge has christened his Ancient Marinere “a poet’s Reverie”—it is as bad as Bottom the Weaver’s declaration that he is not a Lion but only the scenical representation of a Lion. What new idea is gained by this Title, but one subversive of all credit which the tale should force upon us, of its truth? For me, I was never so affected with any human Tale. After first reading it, I was totally possessed with it for many days—I dislike all the miraculous part of it, but the feelings of the man under the operation of such scenery dragged me along like Tom Piper’s magic whistle. I totally differ from your idea that the Marinere should have had a character and profession. This is a Beauty in Gulliver’s Travels, where the mind is kept in a placid state of little wonderments; but the Ancient Marinere undergoes such Trials, as overwhelm and bury all individuality or memory of what he was, like the state of a man in a Bad dream, one terrible peculiarity of which is: that all consciousness of personality is gone. Your other observation is I think as well a little unfounded: the Marinere from being conversant in supernatural events has acquired a supernatural and strange cast of phrase,
eye, appearance, &c. which frighten the wedding guest. You will excuse my remarks, because I am hurt and vexed that you should think it necessary, with a prose apology, to open the eyes of dead men that cannot see. To sum up a general opinion of the second vol.—I do not feel any one poem in it so forcibly as the Ancient Marinere, the Mad Mother, and the
Lines at Tintern Abbey in the first.—I could, too, have wished the Critical preface had appeared in a separate treatise. All its dogmas are true and just, and most of them new, as criticism. But they associate a diminishing idea with the Poems which follow, as having been written for Experiment on the public taste, more than having sprung (as they must have done) from living and daily circumstances.—I am prolix, because I am gratifyed in the opportunity of writing to you, and I don’t well know when to leave off. I ought before this to have reply’d to your very kind invitation into Cumberland. With you and your Sister I could gang any where. But I am afraid whether I shall ever be able to afford so desperate a Journey. Separate from the pleasure of your company, I don’t much care if I never see a mountain in my life. I have passed all my days in London, until I have formed as many and intense local attachments, as any of you mountaineers can have done with dead nature. The Lighted shops of the Strand and Fleet Street, the innumerable trades, tradesmen and customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses, all the bustle and wickedness round about Covent Garden, the very women of the Town, the Watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles,—life awake, if you awake, at all hours of the night, the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street, the crowds, the very dirt & mud, the Sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old book stalls, parsons cheap’ning books, coffee houses, steams of soups from kitchens, the pantomimes, London itself a pantomime and a masquerade,—all these things work themselves into my mind and feed me, without a power of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impells me into night-walks about her crowded streets, and I often shed tears in the motley Strand from fulness of joy at so much Life.—All these emotions must be strange to you. So are your rural emotions to me. But consider, what must I have been doing all my life, not to have lent great portions of my heart with usury to such scenes?——

My attachments are all local, purely local. I have no passion (or have had none since I was in love, and then it was the spurious engendering of poetry & books) to groves and vallies. The rooms where I was born, the furniture which has been before my eyes all my life, a book case which has followed me about (like a faithful dog, only exceeding him in knowledge) wherever I have moved—old chairs, old tables, streets, squares, where I have sunned myself,
my old school,—these are my mistresses. Have I not enough, without your mountains? I do not envy you. I should pity you, did I not know, that the Mind will make friends of any thing. Your sun & moon and skys and hills & lakes affect me no more, or scarcely come to me in more venerable characters, than as a gilded room with tapestry and tapers, where I might live with handsome visible objects. I consider the clouds above me but as a roof, beautifully painted but unable to satisfy the mind, and at last, like the pictures of the apartment of a connoisseur, unable to afford him any longer a pleasure. So fading upon me, from disuse, have been the Beauties of Nature, as they have been confinedly called; so ever fresh & green and warm are all the inventions of men and assemblies of men in this great city. I should certainly have laughed with dear Joanna.

Give my kindest love, and my sister’s, to D. & yourself and a kiss from me to little Barbara Lewthwaite.

C. Lamb.

Thank you for Liking my Play!!


[This is the first—and perhaps the finest—letter from Lamb to Wordsworth that has been preserved. Wordsworth, then living with his sister Dorothy at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, was nearly thirty-one years of age; Lamb was nearly twenty-six. The work criticised is the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads. The second and sixth stanzas of the “Poet’s Epitaph” ran thus:—
A Lawyer art thou?—draw not nigh;
Go, carry to some other place
The hardness of thy coward eye,
The falshood of thy sallow face.
. . . . . . . .
Wrapp’d closely in thy sensual fleece
O turn aside, and take, I pray,
That he below may rest in peace,
Thy pin-point of a soul away!

St. Leon was by Godwin.

Of “The Ancient Mariner, a Poet’s Reverie,” Wordsworth had said in a note to the first volume of Lyrical Ballads:

The Poem of my Friend has indeed great defects; first, that the principal person has no distinct character, either in his profession of Mariner, or as a human being who having been long under the controul of supernatural impressions might be supposed himself to partake of something supernatural; secondly, that he does not act, but is continually acted upon; thirdly, that the events having no necessary connection do not produce each other; and lastly, that the imagery is somewhat too laboriously accumulated.


The Mad Mother.” The poem beginning, “Her eyes are wild, her head is bare.”

“I could, too, have wished.” The passage from these words to “don’t well know when to leave off,” is now printed for the first time. When Wordsworth sent the correspondence to Moxon, for Talfourd’s use, in 1835, he wrote:—

There are, however, in them some parts which had better be kept back. ... I have also thought it proper to suppress every word of criticism [Wordsworth meant adverse criticism] upon my own poems. . . . Those relating to my works are withheld, partly because I shrink from the thought of assisting in any way to spread my own praises, and still more I being convinced that the opinions or judgments of friends given in this way are of little value.

“I have passed all my days in London.” See note on page 195.

“Joanna.’ Joanna of the laugh. See note on page 831. “Barbara Lewthwaite.” See Wordsworth’s “Pet Lamb.”

“Thank you for Liking my Play!!” We must suppose this postscript to contain a touch of sarcasm. Lamb had sent “John Woodvil” to Grasmere and Keswick. Wordsworth apparently had been but politely interested in it. Coleridge had written to Godwin: “Talking of tragedies, at every perusal my love and admiration of his [Lamb’s] play rises a peg.”

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, dated at end February 7, 1801, not available for this edition. It is one of the best letters written by Lamb to Robert Lloyd, or to any one. Lamb first praises Izaak Walton, whose Compleat Angler he loves for two reasons: for itself and for its connection with his own Hertfordshire county, Hoddesdon, Broxbourne, Amwell and the Ware neighbourhood. The letter passes to a third eulogy of London (see note on page 195). Lamb closes by remarking that Manning is “a dainty chiel and a man of great power, almost an enchanter.”]

Feb. 15, 1801.

I HAD need be cautious henceforward what opinion I give of the “Lyrical Ballads.” All the North of England are in a turmoil. Cumberland and Westmoreland have already declared a state of war. I lately received from Wordsworth a copy of the second volume, accompanied by an acknowledgement of having received from me many months since a copy of a certain Tragedy, with excuses for not having made any acknowledgement sooner, it being owing to an “almost insurmountable aversion from Letter
writing.” This letter I answered in due form and time, and enumerated several of the passages which had most affected me, adding, unfortunately, that no single piece had moved me so forcibly as the “
Ancient Mariner,” “The Mad Mother,” or the “Lines at Tintern Abbey.” The Post did not sleep a moment. I received almost instantaneously a long letter of four sweating pages from my Reluctant Letter-Writer, the purport of which was, that he was sorry his 2d vol. had not given me more pleasure (Devil a hint did I give that it had not pleased me), and “was compelled to wish that my range of sensibility was more extended, being obliged to believe that I should receive large influxes of happiness and happy Thoughts” (I suppose from the L. B.)—With a deal of stuff about a certain Union of Tenderness and Imagination, which in the sense he used Imagination was not the characteristic of Shakspeare, but which Milton possessed in a degree far exceeding other Poets: which Union, as the highest species of Poetry, and chiefly deserving that name, “He was most proud to aspire to;” then illustrating the said Union by two quotations from his own 2d vol. (which I had been so unfortunate as to miss). 1st Specimen—a father addresses his son:—
“When thou
First camest into the World, as it befalls
To new-born Infants, thou didst sleep away
Two days: and Blessings from thy father’s Tongue
Then fell upon thee.”
The lines were thus undermarked, and then followed “This Passage, as combining in an extraordinary degree that Union of Imagination and Tenderness which I am speaking of, I consider as one of the Best I ever wrote!”

2d Specimen.—A youth, after years of absence, revisits his native place, and thinks (as most people do) that there has been strange alteration in his absence:—
“And that the rocks
And everlasting Hills themselves were changed.”
You see both these are good Poetry: but after one has been reading
Shakspeare twenty of the best years of one’s life, to have a fellow start up, and prate about some unknown quality, which Shakspeare possessed in a degree inferior to Milton and somebody else!! This was not to be all my castigation. Coleridge, who had not written to me some months before, starts up from his bed of sickness to reprove me for my hardy presumption: four long pages, equally sweaty and more tedious, came from him; assuring me that, when the works of a man of true genius such as W. undoubtedly was, do not please me at first sight, I should suspect the
fault to lie “in me and not in them,” etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. What am I to do with such people? I certainly shall write them a very merry Letter. Writing to you, I may say that the 2d vol. has no such pieces as the three I enumerated. It is full of original thinking and an observing mind, but it does not often make you laugh or cry.—It too artfully aims at simplicity of expression. And you sometimes doubt if Simplicity be not a cover for Poverty. The
best Piece in it I will send you, being short. I have grievously offended my friends in the North by declaring my undue preference; but I need not fear you:—

“She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the Springs of Dove,
A maid whom there were few (sic) to praise
And very few to love.
“A violet, by a mossy stone,
Half hidden from the eye.
Fair as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky.
“She lived unknown; and few could know.
When Lucy ceased to be.
But she is in the grave, and oh!
The difference to me.”

This is choice and genuine, and so are many, many more. But one does not like to have ’em rammed down one’s throat. “Pray, take it—it’s very good—let me help you—eat faster.”


[It cannot be too much regretted that Lamb’s “very merry Letter” in answer to Wordsworth and Coleridge’s remonstrances has not been preserved.

At the end of the letter occurred this passage quoted by Mr. Dykes Campbell in an article in The Athenæum:

“Now to my own affairs. I have not taken that thing to Colman, but I have proceeded one step in the business. I have inquired his address and am promised it in a few days.”

That thing would, I think, be a play by some one else, perhaps Holcroft, to be offered to George Colman, manager of the Haymarket: hence the emphasis laid upon “my play.”]

[Late February, 1801.]

YOU masters of logic ought to know (logic is nothing more than a knowledge of words, as the Greek etymon implies), that all words are no more to be taken in a literal sense at all times than a promise given to a tailor. When I expressed an apprehension that you were mortally offended, I meant no more than by the application of a certain 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. ’Tis true I might have imaged to myself, that you had trundled your frail carcass to Norfolk. I might also, and did imagine, that you had not, but that you were lazy, or inventing new properties in a triangle, and for that purpose moulding and squeezing Landlord Crisp’s three-cornered beaver into fantastic 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 overlaid with its own riches. Truth is one and poor, like the cruse of Elijah’s widow. Imagination is the bold face that multiplies its oil: and thou, the old cracked 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 lyric muse this century can justly boast: for Wordsworth’s L. B. were published, or at least written, before Christmas. 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 criticism 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 daren’t put the dreaded syllables at their just length, for my back tingles 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 detention. 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 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 [that] enchanting, more than Mahometan paradise, London, whose dirtiest drab-frequented 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, toyshops, 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! Ain’t you mightily moped on the banks of the Cam! Had not you 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.

’Tis 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)

[Lamb refers in his opening sentences to a letter from himself to Manning which no longer exists. In Manning’s last letter, dated February 24, he complains that he found on returning to Cambridge three copies of a letter from Lamb suggesting that he was offended because he had not answered.

The passage in George Dyer’s Poems between pages 291 and 296 is long, but it is so quaint and so illustrative of its author’s mind that I give it in full, footnotes and all, in the Appendix (see page 951).

Stoddart we have already met. He had translated, with Georg Heinrich Noehden, Schiller’s Fiesco, 1796, and Don Carlos, 1798. The copy of Dyer’s Poems annotated by Lamb and Stoddart I have not seen.

“So, you don’t think there’s a Word’s—worth . . .” Manning had written, on February 24, 1801, of the second volume of Lyrical Ballads: “I think ’tis utterly absurd from one end to the other. You tell me ’tis good poetry—if you mean that there is nothing 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, Master Lamb.” The three letters containing the northern castigation are unhappily lost.

“My back tingles.” “Back “is not Lamb’s word.

“I am going to change my lodgings.” The Lambs were still at 34 Southampton Buildings; they moved to 16 Mitre Court Buildings just before Lady Day, 1801.

“James, Walter, and the parson.” In Wordsworth’s poem “The Brothers.”

Exeter Change, which stood where Burleigh Street now is, was a great building, with bookstalls and miscellaneous stalls on the ground floor and a menagerie above. It was demolished in 1829.

“Charing Cross, with the man upon a black horse.” Lamb was quoting the old rhyme:—
As I was going by Charing Cross,
I saw a black man upon a black horse.
They told me it was King Charles the First,
Oh dear! my heart was ready to burst!]

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. 16 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 asthmatical—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 supporting my carcase with my elbows, without much wrying my neck, can see the white sails glide by the bottom of the King’s Bench walks 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, paregoric, and tincture of foxglove (tinctura purpuræ digitalis of the ancients). I am afraid I must leave off drinking.


[Francis Maseres (1731-1824), whom Lamb mentions again in his Elia essay on “The Old Benchers,” was the mathematician (hence his interest to Manning) and reformer. His rooms were at 5 King’s Bench Walk. He became Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer in 1773. To the end he wore a three-cornered hat, a wig and ruffles. Priestley praised the Baron’s mathematical labours, in which he had the support of William Frend.

Otway.” See “Venice Preserved,” Act I., Scene 1. Lamb quotes from memory.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, dated April 6, 1801, in praise of Jeremy Taylor, particularly the Holy Dying. Lamb recommends Lloyd to read the story of the Ephesian matron in the eighth section.


Here also should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, containing a very interesting criticism of George Frederick Cooke’s acting as Richard III. at Covent Garden. Lamb wrote for the Morning Post, January 8, 1802, a criticism of Cooke in this part, which will be found in Vol. I. of the present edition.]

June 29, 1801.

DEAR Sir,—Doctor Christy’s Brother and Sister are come to town, and have shown me great civilities. I in return wish to requite them, having, by God’s grace, principles of generosity implanted (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 evening’s gratification by seeing Mr. Godwin face to face!!!!! Will you do them and me in them the pleasure of drinking tea and supping with me at the old number 16 on Friday or Saturday next? An early nomination of the day will very much oblige yours sincerely,

Ch. Lamb.

[Dr. Christy’s brother and sister I do not identify.]

August 14th, 1801.

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 considerable alteration in me.

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 im-
portant 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. Latterly, 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 certainty of the usefulness of religion. I will not pretend to more gravity or feeling than I at present possess; my intention is not to persuade you that any great alteration is probable in me; sudden converts are superficial and transitory; I only want you to believe that I have stamina of seriousness 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.

[Walter Wilson (1781-1847) was, perhaps, at this time, or certainly previously, in the India House with Lamb. Later he became a bookseller, and then, inheriting money, he entered at the Inner Temple. We meet him again later in the correspondence, in connection with his Life of Defoe, 1830.

One wonders if the following passage in Hazlitt’s essay “On Coffee-House Politicians” in Table Talk has any reference to the Richmond incident:—

Elia, the grave and witty, says things not to be surpassed in essence: but the manner is more painful and less a relief to my own thoughts. Some one conceived he could not be an excellent companion, because he was seen walking down the side of the Thames, passibus iniquis, after dining at Richmond. The objection was not valid.]

[August,] 1801.

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 proceed 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 broken a limb, or turned country parson; any of these would be excuse sufficient for not coming to my supper. I am not so unforgiving 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. Relieve 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 interruption.

I will close my letter of simple inquiry with an epigram on Mackintosh, the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ”-man—who has got a place at last—one of the last I did for the “Albion”:—
“Though thou’rt 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.

[The Albion was at the time of its decease owned and edited by John Fenwick, a friend of Lamb’s whom we shall meet again. Lamb told the story in the Elia essay on “Newspapers” in the following passage:—

“From the office of the Morning Post (for we may as well exhaust our Newspaper Reminiscences at once) by change of property in the paper, we were transferred, mortifying exchange! to the office of the Albion Newspaper, late Rackstrow’s Museum, in Fleet Street What a transition—from a handsome apartment, from rose-wood desks, and silver inkstands, to an office—no office, but a den rather, but just redeemed from the occupation of dead monsters, of which it seemed redolent—from the centre of loyalty and fashion, to a focus of vulgarity and sedition! Here in murky closet, inadequate from its square contents to the receipt of the two bodies of Editor, and humble paragraph-maker, together at one time, sat in the discharge of his new Editorial functions (the ‘Bigod’ of Elia) the redoubted John Fenwick.


F., without a guinea in his pocket, and having left not many in the pockets of his friends whom he might command, had purchased (on tick doubtless) the whole and sole Editorship, Proprietorship, with all the rights and titles (such as they were worth) of the Albion, from one Lovell; of whom we know nothing, save that he had stood in the pillory for a libel on the Prince of Wales. With this hopeless concern—for it had been sinking ever since its commencement, and could now reckon upon not more than a hundred subscribers—F. resolutely determined upon pulling down the Government in the first instance, and making both our fortunes by way of corollary. For seven weeks and more did this infatuated Democrat go about borrowing seven shilling pieces, and lesser coin, to meet the daily demands of the Stamp Office, which allowed no credit to publications of that side in politics. An outcast from politer bread, we attached our small talents to the forlorn fortunes of our friend. Our occupation now was to write treason.

“Recollections of feelings—which were all that now remained from our first boyish heats kindled by the French Revolution, when if we were misled, we erred in the company of some, who are accounted very good men now—rather than any tendency at this time to Republican doctrines—assisted us in assuming a style of writing, while the paper lasted, consonant in no very under-tone to the right earnest fanaticism of F. Our cue was now to insinuate, rather than recommend, possible abdications. Blocks, axes, Whitehall tribunals, were covered with flowers of so cunning a periphrasis—as Mr. Bayes says, never naming the thing directly—that the keen eye of an Attorney-General was insufficient to detect the lurking snake among them. There were times, indeed, when we sighed for our more gentleman-like occupation under Stuart. But with change of masters it is ever change of service. Already one paragraph, and another, as we learned afterwards from a gentleman at the Treasury, had begun to be marked at that office, with a view of its being submitted at least to the attention of the proper Law Officers—when an unlucky, or rather lucky epigram from our pen, aimed at Sir J——s M——h, who was on the eve of departing for India to reap the fruits of his apostacy, as F. pronounced it, (it is hardly worth particularising), happening to offend the nice sense of Lord, or, as he then delighted to be called, Citizen Stanhope, deprived F. at once of the last hopes of a guinea from the last patron that had stuck by us; and breaking up our establishment, left us to the safe, but somewhat mortifying, neglect of the Crown lawyers.”

There are, however, in Lamb’s account, written thirty years afterwards, some errors. He passed rather from the Albion to the Post
than from the Post to the Albion (see the notes to the above essay in Vol. II. of this edition).
Sir James Mackintosh was not in 1801 on the eve of departing for India: he did not get the post of Recordership of Bombay until two years later. The epigram probably referred to an earlier rumour of a post for him. His apostasy consisted in recanting in 1800 from the opinions set forth in his Vindiciæ Gallicæ, 1791, a book supporting the French Revolutionists, and in becoming a close friend of his old enemy Burke. I have not succeeded in finding a file of the Albion.

“The nobleman in ‘St. Mark.’” Lamb was thinking of Luke xiv. 16-24.]

[p.m. August 31, 1801.]

I HEARD that you were going to China, with a commission from the Wedgwoods 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 Albion” (this calculation includes a printer, four pressmen, and a devil); but becoming of no use when “The Albion” stopped, I got it translated into Usbeck 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 opening to the “Morning Chronicle,”!!! Mister Manning, by means of that common dispenser 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’importe (as they say in French): any climate will
suit me. 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
Rickman, 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.

Imagine that what is here erased was an apology 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 understood these matters tolerably well) of Priam driving away his other sons with expressions of wrath and bitter reproach, when Hector was just dead.

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. Hagan. He did not, however, go to China until 1806. The Wedgwoods were Coleridge’s patrons. Lamb’s reference to them is, of course, a joke.

The Morning Chronicle was then the chief Whig paper, the principal opponent of the Morning Post. I have, I think, traced two or three of Lamb’s contributions to the Chronicle at this period, but they are not of his best. He quickly moved on to the Post, but, as we shall see, only for a short period.

Rickman went to Dublin in 1801 with Abbot, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, and was appointed Deputy-Keeper of the Privy Seal. He returned in February, 1802.

The reference to Burke is to his justification of his particular solicitude for the Crown, as the part of the British Constitution then in danger, though not in itself more important than the
other parts, in the “
Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs.” The Priam-Hector illustration is there employed.

“Homer.” See The Iliad, Book 24, lines 311-316. Pope translates thus:—
Next on his sons his erring fury falls,
Polites, Paris, Agathon, he calls;
His threats Diphobus and Dius hear,
Hippothoüs, Pammon, Helenus the seer,
And generous Antiphon: for yet these nine
Survived, sad relics of his numerous line.

Here perhaps should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, returning to Jeremy Taylor, and deprecating a selection from his works, which Robert Lloyd had suggested that Lamb should make. (In 1805 Basil Montagu, afterwards, if not now, a friend of Lamb’s, published a volume of Selections from the Works of Taylor, &c.) Lamb adds that Manning and Coleridge are in town, and he is making a thorough alteration in the structure of his play (“John Woodvil”) for publication.]

Sept. 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 embarrassments, the consequences of an unsettled mind: out of which he may be extricated by the unknown 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 [her?] 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 provoke the Friend to demand an interview with her husband, and disclose the whole secret. The husband, refusing to believe anything to her dishonour, should fight with him. The husband repents before he dies. The mother explains and confesses everything in his presence. The son is admitted to an interview with his now acknowledged 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 throwing 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 3d 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 Dawson, 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 lighthouses 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 jealous of his own son? that is a stale and an unpleasant 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.

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 reputable.

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.

[This and the letter that follows it contain Lamb’s suggestions for Godwin’s play “Faulkener,” upon which he was now meditating, but which was not performed until 1807. Lamb wrote the prologue, a poem in praise of Defoe, since it was in Roxana, or at least in one edition of it, that the counterpart to, or portion of, Godwin’s plot is found. There, however, the central figure is a daughter, not a son. See the letters to Walter Wilson, pages 586 and 600.

Mr. Swinburne, in the little article to which I have already alluded (see page 197), says of this and the following letter: “Several of Lamb’s suggestions, in spite of his own modest disclaimer (‘I am the worst hand in the world at a plot’), seem to me, especially as coming from the author of a tragedy memorable alike for sweetness of moral emotion and emptiness of theatrical subject, worthy of note for the instinctive intuition of high dramatic effect implied in their rough and rapid outlines.”

Richard Savage, the poet, whose life Johnson wrote, claimed to be the illegitimate son of Lady Macclesfield by Lord Rivers. Savage killed Sinclair in a tavern quarrel in 1727, and was condemned to death. His pardon was obtained by the Countess of Hertford.

The Fair Penitent” is by Nicholas Rowe.

Falkland and Williams are in Godwin’s novel Caleb Williams, dramatised by Colman as “The Iron Chest.”

“Harris will want a skeleton.” Thomas Harris, stage manager of Covent Garden Theatre.


Nancy Dawson (1730?-1767), the famous dancer and bona roba.

“Macbeth’s witch”—“Macbeth,” IV., 1, 110.

Douglas”—Home’s tragedy.

“The husband of Isabella.” In Southern’sFatal Marriage.”

For the next letter see Appendix II., page 966.]

Margate, Sep. 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 expected; 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 adventures? 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 some thing. Can’t you bring him to the gallows or some great mischief, out of which she must have recourse to an explanation with her husband to save him. Think on this. The husband, 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 tease him, as for a stranger, till (like Othello in Cassio’s case) he begins 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 banishment and 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. Somebody, 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 qualities.” 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 situations, 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 principle 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 counterparting, this honest stealing, and original mode of plagiarism, much yet, I think, remains to be sucked. 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 Sept., 1801.

[The point of signing this letter with Godwin’s name and adding his address (Lamb, it will be noticed, was then at Margate) is not clear. In Letter 443 (see page 785), where Lamb plays the same trick on Hood, the reason is plain enough.

Here should come four letters from Lamb to John Rickman, recently made public by the late Canon Ainger. See Appendix II., page 966.]

John Rickman, Esqr.,
Dublin Castle.
[No date. ? November, 1801.]

A LETTER from G. Dyer will probably accompany this. I wish I could convey to you any notion of the whimsical scenes I have been witness to in this fortnight past. ’Twas 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 tap’d 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 wouldn’t or couldn’t speak except by signs. When you went to comfort him he put his hand upon his heart and shook is head and told us his complaint lay where no medicines could reach it. I was dispatch’d for Dr. Dale, Mr. Phillips of St Paul’s Church yard, 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 borrowed two guineas of his bookseller (to whom he imparted 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 complacent 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 countenance. 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 ordered him these powders to hasten his departure that he might suffer as little pain as 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 author, and he had this excellent person to serve, and he must correct some proof sheets for Phillips, 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 Neice (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 occupied, 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 proposed 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 seasonably £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 Burnet 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 together. What he is to do for Phillips he whimsically seems to consider more as a favor done to P. than a job from P. He still persists to call employ-
ment dependence, and prates about the insolence 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 see him so proud and so helpless. If he is not serv’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 imbecillity. 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 education.

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 himself 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 back-biting. It is better than Godwin’s way of telling a man he is a fool to his face.

I think if you could do any thing 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 undergoing an alteration and that the die is now casting that shall consign him to honor or dishonour, but these expressions are the convulsions of a fever, not the sober workings of health. Translated into plain English, he now and then perceives he must work or starve, and then he thinks he’ll work; but when he goes about it there’s a lion in the way. He came dawdling to me for an Encyclopædia 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 regular 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 encourage 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.

[See Appendix II., page 967, for further references to Dyer. Also for notes on letters to Rickman belonging to this period.

Dr. Dale would probably be Thomas Dale of Devonshire Square, Bishopsgate, who had a large city practice in those days. He died in 1816.

Phillips of St. Paul’s Churchyard. See note on page 123.

“An old burnt preface.” See note on page 208.

George Burnett we have already met once in the correspondence (see page 111). He was born probably in 1776. He went to Balliol, met Southey and Coleridge and became a Pantisocratist. Subsequently he became a dissenting minister at Yarmouth, and then a medical student at Edinburgh; and later he succeeded George Dyer as tutor in the family of Lord Stanhope. He became one of Phillips’ hacks, as Lamb’s letter tells us. His principal work was the Specimens of English Prose Writers, 1807, in three volumes, in which it has been stated that Lamb had a hand. He died in want in 1811.

The reference to Southey being in Dublin is explained by the fact that, through Rickman, he had been appointed private secretary to Mr. Corry, Chancellor of the Exchequer for Ireland, at a salary of £400. He did not long retain the post, as it was vexatious and the duties very irregular.]