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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1802

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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[No date. ? Feb. 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 building 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 business. 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 memoranda and notices, help for short memory, a kind of Rumfordising recollection, for yourself on your return. 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 nothing 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 education upon the abstract idea of men and women, no similitude nor dissimilitude to English! Why! thou damn’d Smellfungus! 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. Mister Fell—or as you, with your usual facetiousness and drollery, call him, Mr. F + ll—has stopped short in the middle of his play. Some friend has 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. A propos (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).——

In all this time I have done but one thing, which I reckon tolerable, and that I will transcribe, 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.

C. L.

Apropos, I think you wrong about my play. All the omissions 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 hodge-podge 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. 1), and wind up all with affection and humble servant at the end.

The Londoner. No. 1

In compliance with my own particular humour, no less than with thy laudable curiosity, Reader, I proceed to give thee some account of my history and habits. I was born under the nose of St. Dunstan’s steeple, just where the conflux of the eastern and western inhabitants of this twofold city meet and justle in friendly opposition at Temple-bar. The same day which gave me to the world saw London happy in the celebration of her great annual feast. This I cannot help looking upon as a lively type or omen of the future great goodwill which I was destined to bear toward the City, resembling in kind that solicitude which every Chief Magistrate is supposed to feel for whatever concerns her interests and well-being. Indeed, I consider myself in some sort a speculative Lord Mayor of London: for, though circumstances unhappily preclude me from the hope of ever arriving at the dignity of a gold
chain and spital sermon, yet thus much will I say of myself, in truth, that
Whittington himself with his Cat (just emblem of vigilance and a furred gown), never went beyond me in affection, which I bear to the citizens. Shut out from serving them in the most honourable mode, I aspire to do them benefit in another, scarcely less honourable; and if I cannot, by virtue of office, commit vice and irregularity to the material Counter, I will, at least, erect a spiritual one, where they shall be laid fast by the heels. In plain words, I will do my best endeavour to write them down.

To return to myself (from whence my zeal for the Public good is perpetually causing me to digress), I will let thee, Reader, into certain more of my peculiarities. I was born (as you have heard), bred, and have passed most of my time, in a crowd. This has begot in me an entire affection for that way of life, amounting to an almost insurmountable aversion from solitude and rural scenes. This aversion was never interrupted or suspended, except for a few years in the younger part of my life, during a period in which I had fixed my affections upon a charming young woman. Every man, while the passion is upon him, is for a time at least addicted to groves and meadows, and purling streams. During this short period of my existence, I contracted just enough familiarity with rural objects to understand tolerably well ever after the Poets, when they declaim in such passionate terms in favour of a country life.

For my own part, now the fit is long past, I have no hesitation in declaring, that a mob of happy faces crowding up at the pit door of Drury-Lane Theatre just at the hour of five, give me ten thousand finer pleasures, than I ever received from all the flocks of silly sheep, that have whitened the plains of Arcadia or Epsom Downs.

This passion for crowds is no where feasted so full as in London. The man must have a rare recipe for melancholy, who can be dull in Fleet-street. I am naturally inclined to hypochondria, but in London it vanishes, like all other ills. Often when I have felt a weariness or distaste at home, have I rushed out into her crowded Strand, and fed my humour, till tears have wetted my cheek for inutterable sympathies with the multitudinous moving picture, which she never fails to present at all hours, like the shifting scenes of a skilful Pantomime.

The very deformities of London, which give distaste to others, from habit do not displease me. The endless succession of shops, where Fancy (miscalled Folly) is supplied with perpetual new gauds and toys, excite in me no puritanical aversion. I gladly behold every appetite supplied with its proper food. The obliging customer, and the obliged tradesmen—things which live by bowing,
and things which exist but for homage, do not affect me with disgust; from habit I perceive nothing but urbanity, where other men, more refined, discover meanness. I love the very smoke of London, because it has been the medium most familiar to my vision. I see grand principles of honour at work in the dirty ring which encompasses two combatants with fists, and principles of no less eternal justice in the tumultuous detectors of a pickpocket. The salutary astonishment with which an execution is surveyed, convinces me more forcibly than an hundred volumes of abstract polity, that the universal instinct of man, in all ages, has leaned to order and good government. Thus an art of extracting morality, from the commonest incidents of a town life, is attained by the same well-natured alchemy, with which the Foresters of Arden in a beautiful country
Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing—
Where has spleen her food but in London—humour, interest, curiosity, suck at her measureless breasts without a possibility of being satiated. Nursed amid her noise, her crowds, her beloved smoke—what have I been doing all my life, if I have not lent out my heart with usury to such scenes?

Reader, in the course of my peregrinations about the great city, it is hard, if I have not picked up matter, which may serve to amuse thee, as it has done me, a winter evening long. When next we meet, I purpose opening my budget—Till when, farewell.

“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-naturedly 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 mean time, may the great Spirit have you in his keeping, and preserve our Englishmen 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.

[The reference to the “word-banker” and “register” is explained by Manning’s first letter to Lamb from Paris, in which he says: “I . . . beg you to keep all my letters. I hope to send you
many—and I may in the course of time, make some observations that I shall wish to recall to my memory when I return to England.”

“Are you and the First Consul thick?”—Napoleon, with whom Manning was destined one day to be on terms. In 1803, on the declaration of war, when he wished to return to England, Manning’s was the only passport that Napoleon signed; again, in 1817, on returning from China, Manning was wrecked near St. Helena, and, waiting on the island for a ship, conversed there with the great exile.

“Rumfordising.” A word coined by Lamb from Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count von Romford, the founder of the Royal Institution, the deviser of the Rumford stove, and a tireless scientific and philosophical experimentalist.

“Smellfungus.” Evidently an allusion to Sterne’s attack on Smollett, in The Sentimental Journey: “The lamented Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on; but he set out with the spleen and jaundice, and every object he passed by was discoloured or distorted.”


“Stronger man.” See Luke xi. 21, 22.

“The Post.” Lamb had been writing criticisms of plays; but Stuart, as we have seen, wanted them on the same night as the performance and Lamb found this impossible.

“Ludisti satin, tempus abire est.” Horace, Epist. II., 2, 214-215:—
Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti:
Tempus abire tibi est.

(Thou hast had enough of the pleasures of life, enough of feasting and revellings; it is time for thee to depart.)

“Fell”—R. Fell, author of a Tour through the Batavian Republic, 1801. Later he compiled a Life of Charles James Fox, 1808. Lamb knew him, as well as Fenwick, through Godwin. See note on page 967 of Appendix II.

Libera nos . . .” The phrase “Defend me from my friends; I can defend myself against my enemies,” is attributed to Marechal Villars, when taking leave of Louis XIV.

“I have done but one thing”—“The Londoner,” referred to later.

“The Professor’s Rib”—Godwin’s second wife, the widow Clairmont (mother of Jane Clairmont), whom he had married in December, 1801.

Apropos, I think you wrong about my play.” The portion beginning with these words is usually printed as a separate letter. But I think it formed only the postscript to that which precedes.
The earlier reference to “
The Londoner” is practically proof. John Woodvil had just been published and Lamb had sent Manning a copy. Manning, in return, had written from Paris early in February: “I showed your Tragedy to Holcroft, who had taste enough to discover that ’tis full of poetry—but the plot he condemns in toto. Tell me how it succeeds. I think you were ill advised to retrench so much. I miss the beautiful Branches you have lopped off and regret them. In some of the pages the sprinkling of words is so thin as to be quite outré. There you were wrong again.”

With reference to John Woodvil see Poems and Plays, Vol. V. of this edition.

The Londoner” was published in the Morning Post, February 1, 1802. I have quoted the article from that paper, as Lamb’s copy for Manning has disappeared. Compare passages on London on pages 194 and 210. Concerning “The Londoner” Manning wrote, in his next letter—April 6, 1802—“I like your ‘Londoner’ very much, there is a deal of happy fancy in it, but it is not strong enough to be seen by the generality of readers, yet if you were to write a volume of essays in the same stile you might be sure of its succeeding.”]

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 gentleman!


[A friend of Burnett, named Simonds, is meant. Lamb calls him a “Goul” in another letter, and elsewhere says he eats strange flesh.]

[No date. (?) Early April, 1802.]

MY dear Manning,—Although something of the latest, and after two months’ waiting, your letter was highly gratifying. Some parts want a little explication; for example, “the god-like face of the First Consul.” What god does he most resemble? 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 conversaziones, 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 genteel comedy, may possibly be more brisk and dégagé than Mr. Caulfield or Mr. Whitfield; but have any of them the power to move laughter in excess? or can a Frenchman laugh? Can they batter at your judicious ribs till they shake, nothing loth to be so shaken? This is John Bull’s criterion, and it shall be mine. You are Frenchified. Both your tastes and morals are corrupt and perverted. By-and-by you will come to assert, that Buonaparte is as great a general as the old Duke of Cumberland, and deny that one Englishman 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 into an almanack, or he would have found by the calendar that the honeymoon was extinct a moon ago. Southey is Secretary to the Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer; £400 a year.
Stoddart is turned Doctor of Civil Law, and dwells in Doctors’ Commons. I fear his commons are short, as they say. Did I send you an epitaph I scribbled upon a poor girl 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 prosperous 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 it not? I send you this, being the only piece of poetry I have done, since the muses all went with T. M. to Paris. I have neither stuff in my brain, nor paper in my drawer, to write you a longer letter. Liquor and company and wicked tobacco a’nights, have quite dispericraniated me, as one may say; but you who spiritualise upon Champagne may continue to write 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 manors 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. George.

C. Lamb.

[This letter is usually dated 1803, but I feel sure it should be 1802. Southey had given up his Irish appointment in that year, and Godwin’s honeymoon began in December, 1801.

“The dog Anubis.” See Milton’s ode on the Nativity, Hymn 23.

“Even less than me.” Mr. W. C. Hazlitt gives in Mary and Charles Lamb a vivid impression of Lamb’s spare figure: a farmer at Widford, Mr. Charles Tween, himself not a big man, told Mr. Hazlitt that when walking out with Lamb he would place his hands under his arm and lift him over the stiles as if it were nothing. Napoleon’s height was 5 feet 6 or 7 inches.

Thomas Caulfield, a brother of the antiquary and print-seller, James Caulfield, was a comedian and mimic at Drury Lane; Whitfield was an actor at Drury Lane, who later moved to Covent Garden.

“An epitaph.” These lines were written upon a friend of Rickman’s, Mary Druitt of Wimborne. They were printed in the Morning Post for February 7, 1804, signed C. L. See page 268 and notes to Vol. V. of this edition.

For the rest of the letter see page 768.]

Sept. 8th, 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. 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 passed a very pleasant little time with the Clarksons. The Wordsworths are at Montagu’s rooms, near neighbours to us. They dined with us yesterday, and I was their guide to Bartlemy Fair!


[In the summer of 1802 the Lambs paid a sudden visit to Coleridge at Keswick. Afterwards they went to Grasmere, although the Wordsworths were away from home; but they saw Thomas Clarkson, the philanthropist, then living at Ullswater (see the next letter). They had reached London again on September 5. Procter records that on being asked how he felt when among the lakes and mountains, Lamb replied that in order to bring down his thoughts from their almost painful elevation to the sober regions of life, he was obliged to think of the ham and beef shop near St. Martin’s Lane.

This letter, the original of which is I know not where, is here, for dismal copyright reasons, very imperfectly given. Mr. Macdonald prints it in full. Mrs. Gilchrist in her memoir of Mary Lamb supplies one omitted passage, as follows:—

Lloyd has written me a fine letter of friendship all about himself and Sophia and love and cant which I have not answered. I have not given up the idea of writing to him but it will be done very plainly and sincerely, without acrimony.”

Mr. Dykes Campbell, in his edition of Coleridge, supplies another omitted passage:—


“I was pleased to recognise your blank-verse poem (the Picture) in the Morn. Post of Monday. It reads very well, and I feel some dignity in the notion of being able to understand it better than most Southern readers.”

Coleridge’s poem “The Picture; or, The Lover’s Resolution,” was printed in the Morning Post for September 6. Its scenery was probably pointed out to Lamb by Coleridge at Keswick.

Basil Montagu, the lawyer, an old friend of Wordsworth’s. It is his son Edward who figures in the “Anecdote for Fathers.”

Bartholomew Fair, held at Smithfield, continued until 1855, but its glories had been decreasing for some years.]

24th Sept., 1802, London.

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 certainly intend some time in my life to see Paris, and equally certainly never intend to learn the language; therefore that could be no objection. However, 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 another 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 rejected as indelicate. And my final resolve was a tour to the Lakes. I set out with Mary to Keswick, 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 show 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: great floundering bears and monsters they seemed, all couchant and asleep. We got in in the evening, travelling in a post-chaise from Penrith, in the midst of a gorgeous sunshine, which transmuted 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 comfort-
able study just 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 I can ever again. Glorious creatures, 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 scattered folios, an Æolian 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.1 So we have seen Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside, 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 clambered 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 suspected 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), and with the reinforcement of a draught of cold water she surmounted it most manfully. Oh, 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 famous 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

1 See Appendix II., page 968.

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 not remains to be proved. I shall certainly be more happy in a morning; but whether I shall not sacrifice 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 indifferent 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 admitting 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.
Fenwick is a ruined man. He is hiding himself from his creditors, and has sent his wife and children into the country. Fell, my other drunken companion (that has been: nam hic cæstus artemque repono), is turned editor of a “Naval Chronicle.” Godwin (with a pitiful artificial wife) continues a steady friend, though 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. 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, i.e. to have a preference; some are too big and circumstantial. 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.

[Lamb suggests in Letter 54 that he knew some French.

“Where the Devil sits.” A reference probably to Drayton’s Polyolbion, Book XI., where the reader must find it for himself.

“Like an intrenchment.” Lamb probably had this simile from Coleridge, who often used it.


Nam hic cæsttus artemque repono.Virgil, Æneid, V., 484, “Hic victor cæstus artemque repono”—“Here victorious I lay aside my cestus and my art.”

Marshall we met in the letters to Godwin of December 14, 1800, page 201, and to Manning, December 16, 1800, page 203.

“Holcroft”—Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809), a miscellaneous writer, who is best known by his play “The Road to Ruin.” Lamb says of him in his “Letter to Southey” (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 232) that he was “one of the most candid, most upright, and single-meaning men” that he had ever met.]

October 9, 1802. Cabolus Agnus Coleridgio Suo S.

CARISSIME—Scribis, ut nummos scilicet epistolarios solvam et postremo in Tartara abeam: immo tu potius Tartaricum (ut aiunt) deprehendisti, qui me vernacula mea lingua pro scriba conductitio per tot annos satis eleganter usum ad Latinè impure et canino fere ore latrandum per tuasmet epistolas benè compositas et concinnatas percellere studueris. Conabor tamen: Attamen vereor, ut Ædes istas nostri Christi, inter quas tantâ diligentia magistri improba [?improbi] bonis literulis, quasi per clysterem quendam injectis, infrà supraque olim penitus imbutus fui, Barnesii et Marklandii doctissimorum virorum nominibus adhuc gaudentes, barbarismis meis peregrinis et aliunde quæsitis valde dehonestavero [sic]. Sed pergere quocunque placet. Adeste igitur, quotquot estis, conjugationum declinationumve turmæ, terribilia spectra, et tu imprimis ades, Umbra et Imago maxima obsoletæ (Diis gratiæ) Virgæ, quâ novissime in mentem recepta, horrescunt subito natales [nates], et parum deest quo minùs braccas meas ultro usque ad crura demittam, et ipse puer pueriliter ejulem.

Ista tua Carmina Chamouniana satis grandia esse mihi constat; sed hoc mihi nonnihil displicet, quòd in iis illae montium Grisosonum inter se responsiones totidem reboant anglicè, God, God, haud aliter atque temet audivi tuas montes Cumbrianas resonare docentes, Tod, Tod, nempe Doctorem infelicem: vocem certe haud Deum Sonantem. Pro cæteris plaudo.

Itidem comparationes istas tuas satis callidas et lepidas certè novi: sed quid hoc ad verum? cum illi Consulari viro et mentem
irritabilem istam
Julianam: et etiam astutias frigidulas quasdam Augusto propriores, nequaquam congruenter uno afflatu comparationis causâ insedisse affirmaveris: necnon nescio quid similitudinis etiam cum Tiberio tertio in loco solicite produxeris. Quid tibi equidem cum uno vel altero Cæsare, cùm universi Duodecim ad comparationes tuas se ultro tulerint? Præterea, vetustati ad nutans, comparationes iniquas odi.

Istas Wordsworthianas nuptias (vel potius cujusdam Edmundii tui) te retulisse mirificum gaudeo. Valeas, Maria, fortunata nimium, et antiqua; illae Mariae Virgini (comparatione plusquam Caesareana) forsitan comparanda, quoniam “beata inter mulieres:” et etiam fortasse Wordsworthium ipsuni tuum maritum Angelo Salutatori æquare fas erit, quoniam e Cœlo (ut ille) descendunt et Musæ et ipsi Musicolæ: at Wordsworthium Musarum observantissimum semper novi. Necnon te quoque affinitate hac nova, Dorothea, gratulor: et tu certe alterum donum Dei.

Istum Ludum, quem tu, Coleridgi, Americanum garris, a Ludo (ut Ludi sunt) maximè abhorrentem prætereo: nempe quid ad Ludum attinet, totius illæ gentis Columbianæ, a nostrâ gente, eadem stirpe ortâ, ludi singuli causa voluntatem perperam alienare? Quæso ego materiam ludi: tu Bella ingeris.

Denique valeas, et quid de Latinitate mea putes, dicas: facias ut opossum illum nostrum volantem vel (ut tu malis) quendam Piscem errabundum, a me salvum et pulcherrimum esse jubeas. Valeant uxor tua cum Hartleiio nostro. Soror mea salva est et ego: vos et ipsa salvere jubet. Ulterius progrediri [? progredi] non liquet: homo sum æratus.

P.S.—Pene mihi exciderat, apud me esse Librorum a Johanno Miltono Latinè scriptorum volumina duo, quæ (Deo volente) cum cæteris tuis libris ocyùs 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, prædicta volumina pulchra esse et omnia opera Latina J. M. in se continere. Circa defensionem istam Pro Popo. Ango. acerrimam in præsens ipse præclaro gaudio moror.

Jussa tua Stuartina faciam ut diligenter colam.
Iterum iterumque valeas:
Et facias memor sis nostri.

[I append a translation 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 bottom 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 conjugations 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 boyishly.

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 resound 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 Cæsar, or a second, when the whole Twelve offered themselves to your comparison? Moreover, I agree with antiquity, and think comparisons odious.

Your Wordsworth nuptials (or rather the nuptials of a certain 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 Cæsarean) since “blessed art thou among women:” perhaps also it will be no impiety to compare Wordsworth himself 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 Wordsworth 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 “fetters ”].

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.

Coleridge’sHymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni,” was printed in the Morning Post for September 11, 1802. The poem contains this passage:—
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!

Canon Ainger suggests that by Tod, the unlucky doctor, Lamb meant Dr. William Dodd (1729-1777), the compiler of the Beauties of Shakespeare and the forger, who was hanged at Tyburn.

“Your comparisons.” Coleridge’sComparison of the Present State of France with that of Rome under Julius and Augustus Caesar” was printed in the Morning Post, September 21, September 25 and October 2,1802. See Essays on His Own Times, 1850, Vol. III., page 478.

Wordsworth’s marriage to Mary Hutchinson, on October 4, 1802, had called forth from Coleridge his ode on “Dejection,” printed in the Morning Post for the same day, in which Wordsworth was addressed as Edmund. In later editions Coleridge suppressed its personal character.

Ludus is Lloyd. Lamb means by “American “what we should mean by pro-American. Compare Lady Sarah Lennox (Letters, I., 277.)


The flying opossum (shortened to Pi-pos) was a name for little Derwent Coleridge, then two years old. It arose from his inability to pronounce the words “flying opossum” under a picture in one of his books.

“Stuartial.” Referring to Daniel Stuart of the Morning Post.]

Oct. 11th, 1802.

DEAR Coleridge,—Your offer about the German 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 15l., I’ll think you were dreaming, and not trouble myself seriously to attend to you. My bad Latin you properly correct; but natales for nates was an inadvertency: I knew better. Progrediri or progredi I thought indifferent, 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 remorse; not that you would mind the money, but you have not always ready cash to answer small demands—the epistolarii nummi.

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 Scotland, 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 Hospital! For the present, farewell: never forgetting love to Pi-pos and his friends.

C. Lamb.

[Coleridge, who seems to have been asked by Stuart of the Morning Post for translations of German verse, had suggested, I presume, that he should supply Lamb (who knew no German) with literal prose translations, and that Lamb should versify them, as he had in the case of “Thekla’s Song” in Coleridge’s translation of the first part of Wallenstein nearly three years before. Lamb’s suggestion is that he should send to Stuart epigrams and paragraphs in Coleridge’s name. Whether or not he did so, I cannot say.

Bishop Hall’s Characters of Vices and Virtues was published in 1608. Coleridge may have suggested that Lamb should imitate them for the Morning Post. Lamb later came to know Hall’s satires, for he quotes from them in his review of Barron Field’s poems in 1820.

Milton’s prose works were edited by Thomas Birch, and by John Toland in folio.

“My bad Latin”—in the letter of October 9, 1802. Ainsworth
Robert Ainsworth, compiler of the Thesaurus Linguæ Latinæ, 1736, for many years the best Latin dictionary.

“Your Epigram”—Coleridge’s Epigram “On the Curious Circumstance that in the German Language the Sun is feminine and the Moon masculine.” It appeared in the Morning Post on October 11, 1802. Coleridge had been sending epigrams and other verse to the Post for some time. Harrington would be Sir John Harington (1561-1612), the author of many epigrams.

“Like Homer.” In Swift’s satire Homer appeared at the “Head of the Cavalry, mounted on a furious Horse, with Difficulty managed by the Rider himself, but which no other Mortal durst approach.”

Stoddart and Allen we have met. I do not know anything of Mrs. Green.]

Oct. 23rd, 1802.

I READ daily your political essays. I was particularly 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. The annual meeting of the Blues is to-morrow, at the London 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 noticeable 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 Newbery’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

1 See Appendix II., page 968.

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 instead 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 bray more. In fact, if I got or could but get 50l. 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 Bonaparte with Cromwell, particularly as to the contrast in their deeds affecting foreign states? Cromwell’s interference for the Albigenses, 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 because 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 damn’d 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 bees
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, grew,
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.
[Iliad, Book II., 70-77.]

What endless egression of phrases the dog commands!

Take another: Agamemnon wounded, bearing his wound heroically for the sake of the army (look below) to a woman in labour.
“He, with his lance, sword, mighty stones, poured his heroic wreak
On other squadrons of the foe, whiles yet warm blood did break
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 Ilithiæ, that rule the painful frame
Of human childbirth, pour on her; the Ilithiæ 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.
[Iliad, Book XI., 228-239.]

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. L.

[Coleridge was just now contributing political essays as well as verse to the Morning Post. “Once a Jacobin always a Jacobin” appeared on October 21, 1802. These were afterwards reprinted in Essays on His Own Times. Ad populum is a reminder of Coleridge’s first political essays, the Conciones ad Populum of 1795.

Goody Two Shoes”—One of Newbery’s most famous books for children, sometimes attributed to Goldsmith, though, I think, wrongly.

Mrs. Barbauld (1743-1825) was the author of Hymns in Prose for Children, and she contributed to her brother John Aikin’s Evenings at Home, both very popular books. Lamb, who afterwards came to know Mrs. Barbauld, described her and Mrs. Inchbald as the two bald women. Mrs. Sarah Trimmer (1741-1810) was the author of many books for children; she lives by the Story of the Robins.

The translation for Stuart either was not made or not accepted; nor did Coleridge carry out the project of the parallel of Buonaparte with Cromwell. Hallam, however, did so in his Constitutional History of England, unfavourably to Cromwell.

George Chapman’s Odyssey was paraphrased by Lamb in his Adventures of Ulysses, 1808 (see the letter to Elton on page 650). Lamb either did not return to the subject with Coleridge, or his “next letter” has been lost.]

Nov. 4th, 1802.

OBSERVE, there comes to you, by the Kendal waggon tomorrow, the illustrious 5th of November, a box, containing the Miltons, the strange American Bible, with White’s brief note, to which you will attend; Baxter’sHoly Commonwealth,” for which you stand indebted to me 3s. 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 London. 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 tobacco wafted into the crevices, look to that passage 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 befitting 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 whimsically, 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 innate); but the concluding page, i.e. of this passage (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 cæci—(we blind folks, I understand it not nos for ego;)—sumus; qui nos, quominus quicquam aliud prater ipsum cernere valemus, eo clementius atque benignius respicere dignatur. Væ qui illudit nos, væ qui lædit, execratione publica devovendo; nos ab iniuriis hominum non modo incolumes, sed pene sacros divina lex reddidit, divinus favor: nec tam oculorum hebetudine quam cœlestium alarum umbrâ has nobis fecisse tenebras
videtur, factas illustrare rursus interiore ac longe præstabiliore lumine haud raro solet. Huc refero, quod et amici omciosius nunc etiam quam solebant, colunt, observant, adsunt; quod et nonnulli sunt, quibuscum Pyladeas atque Theseas alternare voces verorum amicorum liceat.
“Vade gubernaculum mei pedis.
Da manum ministro amico.
Da collo manum tuam, ductor autem viæ ero tibi ego.”
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.


[Lamb refers to Milton’s Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano contra Alexandrum Morum Ecclesiasten. The following is a translation of the Latin passage by Robert Fellowes:—

And indeed, in my blindness, I enjoy in no inconsiderable degree the favour of the Deity; who regards me with more tenderness and compassion 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 illuminate 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 inseparable friends.
Orest. Proceed, and be rudder of my feet, by showing me the most endearing love.
[Eurip. in Orest.

And in another place—
“Lend your hand to your devoted friend,
Throw your arm round my neck, and
I will conduct you on the way.”

Coleridge’s first letter to Charles James Fox was printed in the Morning Post for November 4, 1802, his second on November 9.]

[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 chaps of hell,—while I am meditating a quiescent letter to the honest postmaster at Toulouse. But in case you should not have been felo 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 lived in the Golden Age, when shepherds lay stretched upon flowers, and roused 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 literis 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 descriptive, 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 way-lay him; he thereupon pathetically exclaims—
Twelve, dost thou say? Where be 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 ceases.

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 Florence for his colossal bronze statue (in the grand square or somewhere) of Perseus. You may read the story in Tooke’sPantheon.” Nothing material has
transpired in these parts.
Coleridge has indited a violent philippic against Mr. Fox in the “Morning Post,” which is a compound of expressions of humility, gentlemen-ushering-in most arrogant charges. It will do Mr. Fox no real injury among those that know him.


[Manning’s letter of September 10 had told Lamb he was on his way to Toulouse.

Cottle’s epic was Alfred. The quoted lines were added in the twelfth edition. He had also written John the Baptist.

“Cellini’s Life.” Lamb would probably have read the translation by Nugent, 1771. Cellini’s Perseus in bronze is in the Loggia de’ Lanzi at Florence.]