LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, [26 April 1819]

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[p.m. April 26, 1819.]

DEAR Wordsworth, I received a copy of Peter Bell a week ago, and I hope the author will not be offended if I say I do not much relish it. The humour, if it is meant for humour, is
forced, and then the price. Sixpence would have been dear for it. Mind, I do not mean your
Peter Bell, but a Peter Bell which preceded it about a week, and is in every bookseller’s shop window in London, the type and paper nothing differing from the true one, the preface signed W. W., and the supplementary preface quoting as the author’s words an extract from supplementary preface to the Lyrical Balads. Is there no law against these rascals? I would have this Lambert Simnel whipt at the cart’s tail. Then there is Rogers! he has been re-writing your Poem of the Stride, and publishing it at the end of his “Human Life.” Tie him up to the Cart, hangman, while you are about it. Who started the spurious P. B. I have not heard. I should guess, one of the sneering brothers—the vile Smiths—but I have heard no name mentioned. Peter Bell (not the mock one) is excellent. For its matter, I mean. I cannot say that the style of it quite satisfies me. It is too lyrical. The auditors to whom it is feigned to be told, do not arride me. I had rather it had been told me, the reader, at once. Heartleap Well is the tale for me, in matter as good as this, in manner infinitely before it, in my poor judgment. Why did you not add the Waggoner? Have I thanked you, though, yet, for Peter Bell? I would not not have it for a good deal of money. C—— is very foolish to scribble about books. Neither his tongue nor fingers are very retentive. But I shall not say any thing to him about it. He would only begin a very long story, with a very long face, and I see him far too seldom to teaze him with affairs of business or conscience when I do see him. He never comes near our house, and when we go to see him, he is generally writing, or thinking he is writing, in his study till the dinner comes, and that is scarce over before the stage summons us away. The mock P. B. had only this effect on me, that after twice reading it over in hopes to find something diverting in it, I reach’d your two books off the shelf and set into a steady reading of them, till I had nearly finished both before I went to bed. The two of your last edition, of course, I mean. And in the morning I awoke determining to take down the Excursion. I wish the scoundrel imitator could know this. But why waste a wish on him? I do not believe that paddling about with a stick in a pond and fishing up a dead author whom his intolerable wrongs had driven to that deed of desperation, would turn the heart of one of these obtuse literary Bells. There is no Cock for such Peters. Damn ’em. I am glad this aspiration came upon the red ink line. It is more of a bloody curse. I have delivered over your other presents to Alsager and G. D.—A. I am sure will value it and be proud of the hand from which it came. To G. D. a poem is a poem. His own as good as any bodie’s, and god bless him, any bodie’s as good as his own, for
I do not think he has the most distant guess of the possibility of one poem being better than another. The Gods by denying him the very faculty itself of discrimination have effectually cut off every seed of envy in his bosom. But with envy, they excided Curiosity also, and if you wish the copy again, which you destined for him, I think I shall be able to find it again for you—on his third shelf, where he stuffs his presentation copies, uncut, in shape and matter resembling a lump of dry dust, but on carefully removing that stratum, a thing like a Pamphlet will emerge. I have tried this with fifty different Poetical Works that have been given G. D. in return for as many of his own performances, and I confess I never had any scruple in taking my own again wherever I found it, shaking the adherencies off—and by this means one Copy of “my Works “served for G. D. and with a little dusting was made over to my good friend
Dr. Stoddart, who little thought whose leavings he was taking when he made me that graceful bow. By the way, the Doctor is the only one of my acquaintance who bows gracefully, my Town acquaintance I mean. How do you like my way of writing with two Inks? I think it is pretty and mottley. Suppose Mrs. W. adopts it, the next time she holds the pen for you.

[The ink differs with every word of the following paragraph:—]

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

Yours truly
Charles Lamb.

Mary’s love.