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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, [7 June 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
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Produced by CATH
[p.m. June 7, 1819.]

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

Methinks there is a kind of shadowing affinity between the subject of the narrative and the subject of the dedication—but I will not enter into personal themes—else, substituting ******* **** for Ben, and the Honble United Company of Merchts trading to the East Indies for the Master of the misused Team, it might seem by no far fetched analogy to point its dim warnings hitherward—but I reject the omen—especially as its import seems to have been diverted to another victim.

Poor Tommy Bye, whom I have known (as I express’d it in a letter to Manning), man and mad man 27 years—he was my gossip in Leadenhall St.—but too much addicted to turn in at a red lattice—came wandering into his and my common scene of business—you have seen the orderly place—reeling drunk at nine o Clock— with his face of a deep blue, contracted by a filthy dowlas muckinger which had given up its dye to his poor oozy visnomy—and short to tell, after playing various pranks, laughing loud laughters three—mad explosions they were—in the following morning the “tear stood in his ee”—for he found his abused income of clear £600 inexorably reduced to £100—he was my dear gossip—alas! Benjamin! . . .

I will never write another letter with alternate inks. You cannot imagine how it cramps the flow of the style. I can conceive Pindar (I do not mean to compare myself [to] him) by the command of Hiero, the Sicilian tyrant (was not he the tyrant of some place? fie
on my neglect of history—) conceive him by command of Hiero, or Perillus, set down to pen an Isthmian or Nemean Panegyre in lines alternate red and black. I maintain he couldn’t have done it—it would have been a strait laced torture to his muse, he would have call’d for the Bull for a relief. Neither could Lycidas, or the Chorics (how do you like the word?) of
Samson Agonistes, have been written with two inks. Your couplets with points, Epilogues to Mr. H.s, &c. might be even benefited by the twy-fount. Where one line (the second) is for point, and the first for rhime, I think the alternation would assist, like a mould. I maintain it, you could not have written your stanzas on pre existence with 2 inks. Try another, and Rogers the Banker, with his silver standish having one ink only, I will bet my Ode on Tobacco, against the Pleasures of Memory—and Hope too—shall put more fervor of enthusiasm into the same subject than you can with your two—he shall do it stans pede in uno as it were.

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

I re-read the White Doe of Rylston—the title should be always written at length—as Mary Sabilla Novello, a very nice woman of our acquaintance, always signs hers at the bottom of the shortest note. Mary told her, if her name had been Mary Ann, she would have signed M. A. Novello, or M. only, dropping the A—which makes me think, with some other triflings, that she understands something of human nature. My pen goes galloping on most rhapsodically, glad to have escaped the bondage of Two Inks.

Manning had just sent it home and it came as fresh to me as the immortal creature it speaks of. M. sent it home with a note, having this passage in it, “I cannot help writing to you while I am reading Wordswths poem. I am got into the 3rd Canto, and say that it raises my opinion of him very much indeed. ✠ ’Tis broad; noble; poetical; with a masterly scanning of human actions, absolutely above common readers. What a manly (implied) interpretation of (bad) party-actions, as trampling the bible, &c.”—and so he goes on.

✠ N.B. M—— from his peregrinations is 12 or 14 years behind in his knowledge of who has or has not written good verse of late.

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

The sonnets are not all new to me. Of what are, the 9th I like best. Thank you for that to Walton. I take it as a favor done to
me, that, being so old a darling of mine, you should bear testimony to his worth in a book containing a dedi——

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

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

Had I three inks I would invoke him!

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

C. Lamb.