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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1822

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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1822 ROAST PIG 561
March 9th, 1822.

DEAR C.,—It gives me great satisfaction to hear that the pig turned out so well—they are interesting creatures at a certain age—what a pity such buds should blow out into the maturity of rank bacon! You had all some of the crackling—and brain sauce—did you remember to rub it with butter, and gently dredge it a little, just before the crisis? Did the eyes come away kindly with no Œdipean avulsion? Was the crackling the colour of the ripe pomegranate? Had you no complement of boiled neck of mutton before it, to blunt the edge of delicate desire? Did you flesh maiden teeth in it? Not that I sent the pig, or can form the remotest guess what part Owen could play in the business. I never knew him give anything away in my life. He would not begin with strangers. I suspect the pig, after all, was meant for me; but at the unlucky juncture of time being absent, the present somehow went round to Highgate. To confess an honest truth, a pig is one of those things I could never think of sending away. Teals, wigeons, snipes, barn-door fowl, ducks, geese—your tame villatic things—Welsh mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, fresh or pickled, your potted char, Swiss cheeses, French pies, early grapes, muscadines, I impart as freely unto my friends as to myself. They are but self-extended; but pardon me if I stop somewhere—where the fine feeling of benevolence giveth a higher smack than the sensual rarity—there my friends (or any good man) may command me; but pigs are pigs, and I myself therein am nearest to myself. Nay, I should think it an affront, an undervaluing done to Nature who bestowed such a boon upon me, if in a churlish mood I parted with the precious gift. One of the bitterest pangs of remorse I ever felt was when a child—when my kind old aunt had strained her pocket-strings to bestow a sixpenny whole plum-cake upon me. In my way home through the Borough, I met a venerable old man, not a mendicant, but thereabouts—a look-beggar, not a verbal petitionist; and in the coxcombry of taught-charity I gave away the cake to him. I walked on a little in all the pride of an Evangelical peacock, when of a sudden my old aunt’s kindness crossed me—the sum it was to her—the pleasure she had a right to expect that I—not the old impostor—should take in eating her cake—the cursed ingratitude by which, under the colour of a Christian virtue, I had frustrated
her cherished purpose. I sobbed, wept, and took it to heart so grievously, that I think I never suffered the like—and I was right. It was a piece of unfeeling hypocrisy, and proved a lesson to me ever after. The cake has long been masticated, consigned to dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable pauper.

But when Providence, who is better to us all than our aunts, gives me a pig, remembering my temptation and my fall, I shall endeavour to act towards it more in the spirit of the donor’s purpose.

Yours (short of pig) to command in everything.

C. L.

[This letter probably led to the immediate composition of the Elia essay “A Dissertation on Roast Pig” (see Vol. II. of the present edition, page 120), which was printed in the London Magazine for September, 1822. See also “Thoughts on Presents of Game,” Vol. I. of this edition, page 343.

“Œdipean avulsion.” Œdipus, King of Thebes, in a passion of grief put out his eyes.

“Owen.” Lamb’s landlord in Russell Street.

“Tame villatic things”—Samson Agonistes, 1695, “tame villatic fowl.” Villatic means belonging to a village.

“My kind old aunt . . . the Borough.” This is rather perplexing. Lamb, to the best of our knowledge, never as a child lived anywhere but in the Temple. His only aunt of whom we know anything lived with the family also in the Temple. But John Lamb’s will proves Lamb to have had two aunts. The reference to the Borough suggests therefore that the aunt in question was not Sarah Lamb (Aunt Hetty) but her sister.]

20th March, 1822.

MY dear Wordsworth—A letter from you is very grateful, I have not seen a Kendal postmark so long! We are pretty well save colds and rheumatics, and a certain deadness to every thing, which I think I may date from poor John’s Loss, and another accident or two at the same time, that has made me almost bury myself at Dalston, where yet I see more faces than I could wish. Deaths over-set one and put one out long after the recent grief.
Two or three have died within this last two twelvemths., and so many parts of me have been numbed. One sees a picture, reads an anecdote, starts a casual fancy, and thinks to tell of it to this person in preference to every other—the person is gone whom it would have peculiarly suited. It won’t do for another. Every departure destroys a class of sympathies. There’s
Capt. Burney gone!—what fun has whist now? what matters it what you lead, if you can no longer fancy him looking over you? One never hears any thing, but the image of the particular person occurs with whom alone almost you would care to share the intelligence. Thus one distributes oneself about—and now for so many parts of me I have lost the market. Common natures do not suffice me. Good people, as they are called, won’t serve. I want individuals. I am made up of queer points and I want so many answering needles. The going away of friends does not make the remainder more precious. It takes so much from them as there was a common link. A. B. and C. make a party. A. dies. B. not only loses A. but all A.’s part in C. C. loses A.’s part in B., and so the alphabet sickens by subtraction of interchangeables. I express myself muddily, capite dolente. I have a dulling cold. My theory is to enjoy life, but the practice is against it. I grow ominously tired of official confinement. Thirty years have I served the Philistines, and my neck is not subdued to the yoke. You don’t know how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls without relief day after day, all the golden hours of the day between 10 and 4 without ease or interposition. Tædet me harum quotidianarum formarum, these pestilential clerk faces always in one’s dish. O for a few years between the grave and the desk! they are the same, save that at the latter you are outside the machine. The foul enchanter—letters four do form his name—Busirane is his name in hell—that has curtailed you of some domestic comforts, hath laid a heavier hand on me, not in present infliction, but in taking away the hope of enfranchisement. I dare not whisper to myself a Pension on this side of absolute incapacitation and infirmity, till years have sucked me dry. Otium cum indignitate. I had thought in a green old age (O green thought!) to have retired to Pender’s End—emblematic name how beautiful! in the Ware road, there to have made up my accounts with Heaven and the Company, toddling about between it and Cheshunt, anon stretching on some fine Izaac Walton morning to Hoddesdon or Amwell, careless as a Beggar, but walking, walking ever, till I fairly walkd myself off my legs, dying walking!

The hope is gone. I sit like Philomel all day (but not singing) with my breast against this thorn of a Desk, with the only hope that some Pulmonary affliction may relieve me. Vide Lord Palmerston’s report of the Clerks in the war office (Debates, this
Times) by which it appears in 20 years, as many Clerks have been coughd and catarrhd out of it into their freer graves.

Thank you for asking about the Pictures. Milton hangs over my fire side in Covt. Gard. (when I am there), the rest have been sold for an old song, wanting the eloquent tongue that should have set them off!

You have gratifyd me with liking my meeting with Dodd. For the Malvolio story—the thing is become in verity a sad task and I eke it out with any thing. If I could slip out of it I shd be happy, but our chief reputed assistants have forsaken us. The opium eater crossed us once with a dazzling path, and hath as suddenly left us darkling; and in short I shall go on from dull to worse, because I cannot resist the Bookseller’s importunity—the old plea you know of authors, but I believe on my part sincere.

Hartley I do not so often see, but I never see him in unwelcome hour. I thoroughly love and honor him.

I send you a frozen Epistle, but it is winter and dead time of the year with me. May heaven keep something like spring and summer up with you, strengthen your eyes and make mine a little lighter to encounter with them, as I hope they shall yet and again, before all are closed. Yours, with every kind rembe.

C. L.

I had almost forgot to say, I think you thoroughly right about presentation copies. I should like to see you print a book I should grudge to purchase for its size. D——n me, but I would have it though!


[John Lamb’s will left everything to his brother. We must suppose that his widow was independently provided for. I doubt if the brothers had seen each other except casually for some time. The Elia essay “My Relations” contains John Lamb’s full-length portrait under the name of James Elia.

Captain Burney died on November 17, 1821.

Capite dolente”—“With an aching head.”

Tædet me harwm quotidianarwm formarum.” See note on page 32.

“The foul enchanter—letters four do form his name.” From Coleridge’s war eclogue, “Fire, Famine and Slaughter,” where the letters form the name of Pitt. Here they stand for Joseph Hume, not Lamb’s friend, but Joseph Hume, M.P. (1777-1855), who had attacked with success abuses in the East India Company; had revised economically the system of collecting the revenue, thus touching Wordsworth as Distributor of Stamps; and had opposed Vansittart’s scheme for the reduction of pension charges. Busirane is the enchanter in the Fairy Queen, Book III.


Otium cum indignitate.” See note on page 479.

“Vide Lord Palmerston’s report.” In the Times of March 21 is the report of a debate on the estimates. Palmerston proved a certain amount of reduction of salary in the War Office. Incidentally he remarked that “since 1810 not fewer than twenty-six clerks had died of pulmonary complaints, and disorders arising from sedentary habits.”

Milton was the portrait, already described (see page 457), which had been left to Lamb. Lamb gave it as a dowry to Emma Isola when she became Mrs. Moxon.

“My meeting with Dodd . . . Malvolio story.” In the essay “The Old Actors,” in the London Magazine for February, 1822 (see Vol. II. of this edition, page 136).

“Our chief reputed assistants.” Hazlitt had left the London Magazine; Scott, the original editor, was dead.

De Quincey, whose Confessions of an Opium-Eater were appearing in its pages, has left a record of a visit to the Lambs about this time. See his “London Reminiscences.”

“Hartley.” Hartley Coleridge, then a young man of twenty-five, was living in London after the unhappy sudden termination of his Oxford career.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to William Godwin, dated April 13, in which Lamb remarks that he cannot think how Godwin, who in his writings never expresses himself disrespectfully of any one but his Maker, can have given offence to Rickman. This reminds one of Godwin’s remark about Coleridge, “God bless him—to use a vulgar expression,” as recorded by Coleridge in one of his letters.]

[Dated at end: May 7, 1822.]

DEAR Sir,—I have read your poetry with pleasure. The tales are pretty and prettily told, the language often finely poetical. It is only sometimes a little careless, I mean as to redundancy. I have marked certain passages (in pencil only, which will easily obliterate) for your consideration. Excuse this liberty. For the distinction you offer me of a dedication, I feel the honor of it, but I do not think it would advantage the publication. I am hardly on an eminence enough to warrant it. The Reviewers, who are no friends of mine—the two big ones especially who make a
point of taking no notice of anything I bring out—may take occasion by it to decry us both. But I leave you to your own judgment. Perhaps, if you wish to give me a kind word, it will be more appropriate before your republication of

The “Specimens” would give a handle to it, which the poems might seem to want. But I submit it to yourself with the old recollection that “beggars should not be chusers” and remain with great respect and wishing success to both your publications

Your obet. Sert.
C. Lamb.

No hurry at all for Tourneur.

Tuesday 7 May ’22.

[William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882), afterwards known as a novelist, was then articled to a Manchester solicitor, but had begun his literary career. The book to which Lamb refers was called The Works of Cheviot Tichburn, 1822, and was dedicated to him in the following terms:—

Ainsworth was meditating an edition of the works of Cyril Tourneur, author of “The Atheist’s Tragedy,” to whom Lamb had drawn attention in the Dramatic Specimens, 1808. The book was never published.]

May 16, 1822.

DEAR Godwin—I sincerely feel for all your trouble. Pray use the enclosed £50, and pay me when you can. I shall make it my business to see you very shortly.

Yours truly
C. Lamb.

[Owing largely to a flaw in the title-deed of his house at 41 Skinner Street, which he had to forfeit, Godwin had come upon poverty greater than any he had previously suffered, although he had been always more or less necessitous. Lamb now lent him £50. In the following year, after being mainly instrumental in putting on foot a fund for Godwin’s benefit, he transformed this loan into a gift. An appeal was issued in 1823 asking for £600, the following postscript to which, in Lamb’s hand, is preserved at the South Kensington Museum:—

“There are few circumstances belonging to the case which are not sufficiently adverted to in the above letter.

Mr. Godwin’s opponent declares himself determined to act against him with the last degree of hostility: the law gives him the power the first week in November to seize upon Mr. Godwin’s property, furniture, books, &c. together with all his present sources of income for the support of himself and his family. Mr. Godwin has at this time made considerable progress in a work of great research, and requiring all the powers of his mind, to the completion of which he had lookd for future pecuniary advantage. His mind is at this moment so entirely occupied in this work, that he feels within himself the firmness and resolution that no prospect of evil or calamity shall draw him off from it or suspend his labours. But the calamity itself, if permitted to arrive, will produce the physical impossibility for him to proceed. His books and the materials of his work, as well as his present sources of income, will be taken from him. Those materials have been the collection of several years, and it would require a long time to replace them, if they could ever be replaced.

“The favour of an early answer is particularly requested, that the extent of the funds supplied may as soon as possible be ascertained, particularly as any aid, however kindly intended, will, after the lapse of a very few weeks, become useless to the purpose in view.”

The signatories to the appeal were: Crabb Robinson (£30), William Ayrton (£10), John Murray (£10 10s.), Charles Lamb (£50), Lord Francis Leveson-Gower (£10), Lord Dudley (£50), the Hon. W. Lamb (£20) and Sir James Mackintosh (£10). Other contributions were: Lord Byron, £26 5s.; T. M. Alsager, £10; and “A B C, by Charles Lamb,” £10. A B C was Sir Walter Scott.

The work on which Godwin was then labouring was his History of the Commonwealth, 1824-1828. His new home was in the Strand. In 1833 he received the post of Yeoman Usher of the Exchequer, which he held till his death in 1836, although its duties had vanished ere then.]

22 May 1822.

DEAR Mrs. Lamb, A letter has come to Arnold for Mrs. Phillips, and, as I have not her address, I take this method of sending it to you. That old rogue’s name is Sherwood, as you guessed, but as I named the shirts to him, I think he must have them. Your character of him made me almost repent of the bounty.

You must consider this letter as Mary’s—for writing letters is such a trouble and puts her to such twitters (family modesty, you know; it is the way with me, but I try to get over it) that in pity I offer to do it for her.—

We hold our intention of seeing France, but expect to see you here first, as we do not go till the 20th of next month. A steam boat goes to Dieppe, I see.—

Christie has not sent to me, and I suppose is in no hurry to settle the account. I think in a day or two (if I do not hear from you to the contrary) I shall refresh his memory.

I am sorry I made you pay for two Letters. I Peated it, and re-peated it.

Miss Wright is married, and I am a hamper in her debt, which I hope will now not be remembered. She is in great good humour, I hear, and yet out of spirits.

Where shall I get such full flavor’d Geneva again?

Old Mr. Henshaw died last night precisely at ½ past 11.—He has been open’d by desire of Mrs. McKenna; and, where his heart should have been, was found a stone. Poor Arnold is inconsolable; and, not having shaved since, looks deplorable.

With our kind remembces. to Caroline and your friends

We remain yours affectionaly

C. L. and M. Lamb.

[Occupying the entire margin up the left-hand side of the letter is, in Mary Lamb’s hand:—]

I thank you for your kind letter, and owe you one in return, but Charles is in such a hurry to send this to be franked.

Your affecate sister
M. Lamb.

[On the right-hand margin, beside the paragraph about Mr. Henshaw, is written in the same hand, underlined:—]

He is not dead.


[John Lamb’s widow had been a Mrs. Dowden, with an unmarried daughter, probably the Caroline referred to. The letter treats of family matters which could not now be explained even if it were worth while. The Lambs were arranging a visit to Versailles, to the Kenneys. Mr. Henshaw was Lamb’s godfather, a gunsmith.]

[August, 1822.]

THEN you must walk all along the Borough side of the Seine facing the Tuileries. There is a mile and a half of print shops and book stalls. If the latter were but English. Then there is a place where the Paris people put all their dead people and bring em flowers and dolls and ginger bread nuts and sonnets and such trifles. And that is all I think worth seeing as sights, except that the streets and shops of Paris are themselves the best sight.


[The Lambs had left England for France in June. While they were there Mary Lamb was taken ill again—in a diligence, according to Moore—and Lamb had to return home alone, leaving a letter, of which this is the only portion that has been preserved, for her guidance on her recovery. Mary Lamb, who had taken her nurse with her in case of trouble, was soon well again, and in August had the company of Crabb Robinson in Paris. Mrs. Aders was also there, and Foss, the bookseller in Pall Mall, and his brother. And it was on this visit that the Lambs met John Howard Payne, whom we shall shortly see.]

India House, 31 Aug., 1822.

DEAR Clare—I thank you heartily for your present. I am an inverate old Londoner, but while I am among your choice collections, I seem to be native to them, and free of the country.
The quantity of your observation has astonished me. What have most pleased me have been Recollections after a Ramble, and those
Grongar Hill kind of pieces in eight syllable lines, my favourite measure, such as Cowper Hill and Solitude. In some of your story-telling Ballads the provincial phrases sometimes startle me. I think you are too profuse with them. In poetry slang of every kind is to be avoided. There is a rustick Cockneyism, as little pleasing as ours of London. Transplant Arcadia to Helpstone. The true rustic style, the Arcadian English, I think is to be found in Shenstone. Would his Schoolmistress, the prettiest of poems, have been better, if he had used quite the Goody’s own language? Now and then a home rusticism is fresh and startling, but where nothing is gained in expression, it is out of tenor. It may make folks smile and stare, but the ungenial coalition of barbarous with refined phrases will prevent you in the end from being so generally tasted, as you deserve to be. Excuse my freedom, and take the same liberty with my puns.

I send you two little volumes of my spare hours. They are of all sorts, there is a methodist hymn for Sundays, and a farce for Saturday night. Pray give them a place on your shelf. Pray accept a little volume, of which I have [a] duplicate, that I may return in equal number to your welcome presents.

I think I am indebted to you for a sonnet in the London for August.

Since I saw you I have been in France, and have eaten frogs. The nicest little rabbity things you ever tasted. Do look about for them. Make Mrs. Clare pick off the hind quarters, boil them plain, with parsley and butter. The fore quarters are not so good. She may let them hop off by themselves.

Yours sincerely,
Chas. Lamb.

[John Clare (1798-1864) was the Northamptonshire poet whom the London Magazine had introduced to fame. Octavius Gilchrist had played to him the same part that Capell Lofft had to Bloomfield. His first volume, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, was published in January, 1820; his next, The Village Minstrel, in September of the next year. These he had probably sent to Lamb. Helpstone was Clare’s birthplace. Lamb’s two little return volumes were his Works. The sonnet in the August London Magazine was not signed by Clare. It runs thus:—

ELIA, thy reveries and vision’d themes
To Care’s lorn heart a luscious pleasure prove;
Wild as the mystery of delightful dreams,
Soft as the anguish of remember’d love:
Like records of past days their memory dances
Mid the cool feelings Manhood’s reason brings,
As the unearthly visions of romances
Peopled with sweet and uncreated things;—
And yet thy themes thy gentle worth enhances!
Then wake again thy wild harp’s tenderest strings,
Sing on, sweet Bard, let fairy loves again
Smile in thy dreams, with angel ecstacies;
Bright o’er our souls will break the heavenly strain
Through the dull gloom of earth’s realities.

Clare addressed to Lamb a sonnet on his Dramatic Specimens which was printed in Hone’s Year Book in 1831.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Mrs. James Kenney, dated Sept. 11, 1822, in which Lamb says that Mary Lamb had reached home safely from France, and that she failed to smuggle Crabb Robinson’s waistcoat. He adds that the Custom House people could not comprehend how a waistcoat, marked Henry Robinson, could be a part of Miss Lamb’s wearing apparel. At the end of the letter is a charming note to Mrs. Kenney’s little girl, Sophy, whom Lamb calls his dear wife. He assures her that the few short days of connubial felicity which he passed with her among the pears and apricots of Versailles were some of the happiest of his life.]

India House, 11 Sept. 1822.

DEAR Sir—You have misapprehended me sadly, if you suppose that I meant to impute any inconsistency (in your writing poetry) with your religious profession. I do not remember what I said, but it was spoken sportively, I am sure. One of my levities, which you are not so used to as my older friends. I probably was thinking of the light in which your so indulging yourself would appear to Quakers, and put their objection in my own foolish mouth. I would eat my words (provided they should be written on not very coarse paper) rather than I would throw cold water upon your, and my once, harmless occupation. I have read Napoleon and the rest with delight. I like them for what they are, and for what they are not. I have sickened on the modern rhodomontade & Byron-
ism, and your plain Quakerish Beauty has captivated me. It is all wholesome cates, aye, and toothsome too, and withal Quakerish. If I were
George Fox, and George Fox Licenser of the Press, they should have my absolute imprimatur. I hope I have removed the impression.

I am, like you, a prisoner to the desk. I have been chained to that gally thirty years, a long shot. I have almost grown to the wood. If no imaginative poet, I am sure I am a figurative one. Do “Friends” allow puns? verbal equivocations?—they are unjustly accused of it, and I did my little best in the “imperfect Sympathies” to vindicate them.

I am very tired of clerking it, but have no remedy. Did you see a sonnet to this purpose in the Examiner?—
Who first invented Work—and tied the free
And holy-day rejoycing spirit down
To the ever-haunting importunity
Of business, in the green fields, and the town—
To plough—loom—anvil—spade—&, oh, most sad,
To this dry drudgery of the desk’s dead wood?
Who but the Being Unblest, alien from good,
Sabbathless Satan! he who his unglad
Task ever plies ’mid rotatory burnings,
That round and round incalculably reel—
For wrath Divine hath made him like a wheel—
In that red realm from whence are no returnings;
Where toiling and turmoiling ever and aye
He, and his Thoughts, keep pensive worky-day.”
C. L.
I fancy the sentiment exprest above will be nearly your own, the expression of it probably would not so well suit with a follower of
John Woolman. But I do not know whether diabolism is a part of your creed, or where indeed to find an exposition of your creed at all. In feelings and matters not dogmatical, I hope I am half a Quaker. Believe me, with great respect, yours

C. Lamb.

I shall always be happy to see, or hear from you.—


[This is the first of the letters to Bernard Barton (1784-1849), a clerk in a bank at Woodbridge, in Suffolk, who was known as the Quaker poet. Lamb had met him at a London Magazine dinner at 13 Waterloo Place, and had apparently said something about Quakers and poetry which Barton, on thinking it over, had taken too seriously. Bernard Barton was already the author of four volumes of poetry, of which Napoleon and other Poems was the latest, published in 1822. Lamb’s essay on “Imperfect Sympathies” had been printed in the London Magazine for August, 1821. For John Woolman see note on page 94. The sonnet “Work” had been printed in the Examiner, August 29, 1819.]

Sept. 22, 1822.

MY dear F.,—I scribble hastily at office. Frank wants my letter presently. I & sister are just returned from Paris!! We have eaten frogs. It has been such a treat! You know our monotonous general Tenor. Frogs are the nicest little delicate things—rabbity-flavoured. Imagine a Lilliputian rabbit! They fricassee them; but in my mind, drest seethed, plain, with parsley and butter, would have been the decision of Apicius. Shelley the great Atheist has gone down by water to eternal fire! Hunt and his young fry are left stranded at Pisa, to be adopted by the remaining duumvir, Lord Byron—his wife and 6 children & their maid. What a cargo of Jonases, if they had foundered too! The only use I can find of friends, is that they do to borrow money of you. Henceforth I will consort with none but rich rogues. Paris is a glorious picturesque old City. London looks mean and New to it, as the town of Washington would, seen after it. But they have no St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey. The Seine, so much despised by Cockneys, is exactly the size to run thro’ a magnificent street; palaces a mile long on one side, lofty Edinbro’ stone (O the glorious antiques!): houses on the other. The Thames disunites London & Southwark. I had Talma to supper with me. He has picked up, as I believe, an authentic portrait of Shakspere. He paid a broker about £40 English for it. It is painted on the one half of a pair of bellows—a lovely picture, corresponding with the Folio head. The bellows has old carved wings round it, and round the visnomy is inscribed, near as I remember, not divided into rhyme—I found out the rhyme—
“Whom have we here,
Stuck on this bellows,
But the Prince of good fellows,
At top—
“O base and coward luck!
To be here stuck.—Poins.”
At bottom—
“Nay! rather a glorious lot is to him assign’d,
Who, like the Almighty, rides upon the wind.—Pistol.”

This is all in old carved wooden letters. The countenance smiling, sweet, and intellectual beyond measure, even as He was
immeasurable. It may be a forgery. They laugh at me and tell me
Ireland is in Paris, and has been putting off a portrait of the Black Prince. How far old wood may be imitated I cannot say. Ireland was not found out by his parchments, but by his poetry. I am confident no painter on either side the Channel could have painted any thing near like the face I saw. Again, would such a painter and forger have expected £40 for a thing, if authentic, worth £4000? Talma is not in the secret, for he had not even found out the rhymes in the first inscription. He is coming over with it, and, my life to Southey’s Thalaba, it will gain universal faith.

The letter is wanted, and I am wanted. Imagine the blank filled up with all kind things.

Our joint hearty remembrances to both of you. Yours as ever,

C. Lamb.

[Frank would be Francis John Field, Barron Field’s brother, in the India House.

Shelley was drowned on July 8, 1822.

Talma was Francois Joseph Talma (1763-1826), the great French tragedian. Lamb, introduced by John Howard Payne, saw him in “Regulus,” but not understanding French was but mildly interested. “Ah,” said Talma in the account by James Kenney printed in Henry Angelo’s Pic Nic, “I was not very happy to-night; you must see me in ‘Scylla.’” “Incidit in Scyllam,” said Lamb, “qui vult vitare Charybdim.” “Ah, you are a rogue; you are a great rogue,” was Talma’s reply. Talma had bought a pair of bellows with Shakespeare’s head on it. Lamb’s belief in the authenticity of this portrait was misplaced, as the following account from Chambers’ Journal for September 27, 1856, will show:—

About the latter part of the last century, one Zincke, an artist of little note, but grandson of the celebrated enameller of that name, manufactured fictitious Shakespeares by the score. . . . The most famous of Zincke’s productions is the well-known Talma Shakespeare, which gentle Charles Lamb made a pilgrimage to Paris to see; and when he did see, knelt down and kissed with idolatrous veneration. Zincke painted it on a larger panel than was necessary for the size of the picture, and then cut away the superfluous wood, so as to leave the remainder in the shape of a pair of bellows. . . . Zincke probably was thinking of “a muse of fire” when he adopted this strange method of raising the wind; but he made little by it, for the dealer into whose hands the picture passed, sold it as a curiosity, not an original portrait, for £5. The buyer, being a person of ingenuity, and fonder of money than curiosities, fabricated a series of letters to and from Sir Kenelm Digby, and, passing over to France, planted—the slang term used among the less honest of the curiosity-dealing fraternity—the picture and the letters in an old château near Paris. Of course a confederate managed to discover the plant, in the presence of witnesses, and great was the excitement that ensued. Sir Kenelm Digby had been in France in the reign of Charles I., and the fictitious correspondence proved that the picture
was an original, and had been painted by
Queen Elizabeth’s command, on the lid of her favourite pair of bellows!

It really would seem that the more absurd a deception is, the better it succeeds. All Paris was in delight at possessing an original Shakespeare, while the London amateurs were in despair at such a treasure being lost to England. The ingenious person soon found a purchaser, and a high price recompensed him for his trouble. But more remains to be told. The happy purchaser took his treasure to Ribet, the first Parisian picture-cleaner of the day, to be cleaned. Ribet set to work; but we may fancy his surprise as the superficial impasto of Zincke washed off beneath the sponge, and Shakespeare became a female in a lofty headgear adorned with blue ribbons.

In a furious passion the purchaser ran to the seller. “Let us talk over the affair quietly,” said the latter; “I have been cheated as well as you: let us keep the matter secret; if we let the public know it, all Paris and even London too, will be laughing at us. I will return you your money, and take back the picture, if you will employ Ribet to restore it to the same condition as it was in when you received it.” This fair proposition was acceded to, and Ribet restored the picture; but as he was a superior artist to Zincke, he greatly improved it, and this improvement was attributed to his skill as a cleaner. The secret being kept, and the picture, improved by cleaning, being again in the market, Talma, the great Tragedian, purchased it at even a higher price than that given by the first buyer. Talma valued it highly, enclosed it in a case of morocco and gold, and subsequently refused 1000 Napoleons for it; and even when at last its whole history was disclosed, he still cherished it as a genuine memorial of the great bard.

By kind permission of Mr. B. B. MacGeorge, who now owns both letter and bellows, I am enabled to give a reproduction of the portrait on the opposite page. See also Lamb’s remarks on page 579.

Ireland was the author of “Vortigern,” the forged play attributed to Shakespeare (see note on page 5).]

[Autumn, 1822.]

DEAR Payne—A friend and fellow-clerk of mine, Mr. White (a good fellow) coming to your parts, I would fain have accompanied him, but am forced instead to send a part of me, verse and prose, most of it from 20 to 30 years old, such as I then was, and I am not much altered.

Paris, which I hardly knew whether I liked when I was in it, is an object of no small magnitude with me now. I want to be going, to the Jardin des Plantes (is that right, Louisa?) with you—to Pere de la Chaise, La Morgue, and all the sentimentalities. How is Talma, and his (my) dear Shakspeare?

N.B.—My friend White knows Paris thoroughly, and does not want a guide. We did, and had one. We both join in thanks. Do you remember a Blue-Silk Girl (English) at the Luxembourg,
that did not much seem to attend to the Pictures, who fell in love with you, and whom I fell in love with—an inquisitive, prying, curious Beauty—where is she?

Votre Très Humble Serviteur,

Charlois Agneau,
alias C. Lamb.

Guichy is well, and much as usual. He seems blind to all the distinctions of life, except to those of sex. Remembrance to Kenny and Poole.


[John Howard Payne (1792-1852) was born in New York. He began life as an actor in 1809 as Young Norval in “Douglas,” and made his English début in 1813 in the same part. For several years he lived either in London or Paris, where among his friends were Washington Irving and Talma. He wrote a number of plays, and in one of them, “Clari, or the Maid of Milan,” is the song “Home, Sweet Home,” with Bishop’s music, on which his immortality rests. Payne died in Tunis, where he was American Consul, in 1852, and when in 1883 he was reinterred at Washington, it was as the author of “Home, Sweet Home.” He seems to have been a charming but ill-starred man, whom to know was to love.

Mr. White was Edward White of the India House, by whom Lamb probably sent a copy of the 1818 edition of his Works. Louisa was Louisa Holcroft. Guichy was possibly the Frenchman, mentioned by Crabb Robinson, with whom the Lambs had travelled to France. Poole was, I imagine, John Poole, the dramatist, author of burlesque plays in the London Magazine and later of “Paul Pry,” which, it is quite likely, he based on Lamb’s sketch “Tom Pry.”]

[Dated at end: 9 October 1822.]

DEAR Sir—I am asham’d not sooner to have acknowledged your letter and poem. I think the latter very temperate, very serious and very seasonable. I do not think it will convert the club at Pisa, neither do I think it will satisfy the bigots on our side the water. Something like a parody on the song of Ariel would please them better.
Full fathom five the Atheist lies,
Of his bones are hell-dice made.—
I want time, or fancy, to fill up the rest. I sincerely sympathise with you on your doleful confinement. Of Time, Health, and Riches, the first in order is not last in excellence. Riches are chiefly good, because they give us Time. What a weight of wearisome prison hours have [I] to look back and forward to, as quite cut out [of] life—and the sting of the thing is, that for six hours every day I have no business which I could not contract into two, if they would let me work Task-work. I shall be glad to hear that your grievance is mitigated.

Shelly I saw once. His voice was the most obnoxious squeak I ever was tormented with, ten thousand times worse than the Laureat’s, whose voice is the worst part about him, except his Laureatcy. Lord Byron opens upon him on Monday in a Parody (I suppose) of the “Vision of Judgment,” in which latter the Poet I think did not much show his. To award his Heaven and his Hell in the presumptuous manner he has done, was a piece of immodesty as bad as Shelleyism.

I am returning a poor letter. I was formerly a great Scribbler in that way, but my hand is out of order. If I said my head too, I should not be very much out, but I will tell no tales of myself. I will therefore end (after my best thanks, with a hope to see you again some time in London), begging you to accept this Letteret for a Letter—a Leveret makes a better present than a grown hare, and short troubles (as the old excuse goes) are best.

I hear that C. Lloyd is well, and has returned to his family. I think this will give you pleasure to hear.

I remain, dear Sir, yours truly

C. Lamb.
E. I. H.
9 Oct. 22.

[Barton had just published his Verses on the Death of P. B. Shelley, a lament for misapplied genius. The club at Pisa referred particularly to Byron, Leigh Hunt and Trelawney. Trelawney placed three lines from Ariel’s song in “The Tempest” on Shelley’s monument; but whether Lamb knew this, or his choice of rival lines is a coincidence, I do not know. Trelawney chose the lines:—
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
There is no other record of Lamb’s meeting with
Shelley, who, by the way, admired Lamb’s writings warmly, particularly Mrs. Leicester’s School (see Letter 334).

Byron’s Vision of Judgment, a burlesque of Southey’s poem of the same name, was printed in The Liberal for 1822.]

India House, 9th October, 1822.

DEAR Haydon, Poor Godwin has been turned out of his house and business in Skinner Street, and if he does not pay two years’ arrears of rent, he will have the whole stock, furniture, &c., of his new house (in the Strand) seized when term begins. We are trying to raise a subscription for him. My object in writing this is simply to ask you, if this is a kind of case which would be likely to interest Mrs. Coutts in his behalf; and who in your opinion is the best person to speak with her on his behalf. Without the aid of from £300 to £400 by that time, early in November, he must be ruined. You are the only person I can think of, of her acquaintance, and can, perhaps, if not yourself, recommend the person most likely to influence her. Shelley had engaged to clear him of all demands, and he has gone down to the deep insolvent.

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.

Is Sir Walter to be applied to, and by what channel?


[See note to Letter 269. Mrs. Coutts was probably Harriot Mellon, the actress, widow of the banker, Thomas Coutts, and afterwards Duchess of St. Albans. She had played the part of the heroine Melesinda in “Mr. H.”]

Thursday [Oct. 22], 1822.

“ALI Pacha” will do. I sent my sister the first night, not having been able to go myself, and her report of its effect was most favourable. I saw it last night—the third night—and it was most satisfactorily received. I have been sadly disappointed in Talfourd, who does the critiques in the “Times,” and who promised his strenuous services; but by some damn’d arrangement he was sent to the wrong house, and a most iniquitous account of Ali substituted for his, which I am sure would have been a kind one. The “Morning Herald” did it ample justice, without ap-
pearing to puff it. It is an abominable misrepresentation of the “Times,” that
Farren played Ali like Lord Ogilby. He acted infirmity of body, but not of voice or purpose. His manner was even grand. A grand old gentleman. His falling to the earth when his son’s death was announced was fine as anything I ever saw. It was as if he had been blasted. Miss Foote looked helpless and beautiful, and greatly helped the piece. It is going on steadily, I am sure, for many nights. Marry, I was a little disappointed with Hassan, who tells us he subsists by cracking court jests before Hali, but he made none. In all the rest, scenery and machinery, it was faultless. I hope it will bring you here. I should be most glad of that. I have a room for you, and you shall order your own dinner three days in the week. I must retain my own authority for the rest. As far as magazines go, I can answer for Talfourd in the “New Monthly.” He cannot be put out there. But it is established as a favourite, and can do without these expletives. I long to talk over with you the Shakspeare Picture. My doubts of its being a forgery mainly rest upon the goodness of the picture. The bellows might be trumped up, but where did the painter spring from? Is Ireland a consummate artist—or any of Ireland’s accomplices?—but we shall confer upon it, I hope. The “New Times,” I understand was favorable to “Ali,” but I have not seen it. I am sensible of the want of method in this letter, but I have been deprived of the connecting organ, by a practice I have fallen into since I left Paris, of taking too much strong spirits of a night. I must return to the Hotel de l’Europe and Macon.

How is Kenney? Have you seen my friend White? What is Poole about, &c.? Do not write, but come and answer me.

The weather is charming, and there is a mermaid to be seen in London. You may not have the opportunity of inspecting such a Poisarde once again in ten centuries.

My sister joins me in the hope of seeing you.

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.

[Lamb had met John Howard Payne, the American dramatist, at Kenney’s, in France (see note on page 576). “Ali Pacha,” a melodrama in two acts, was produced at Covent Garden on October 19, 1822. It ran altogether sixteen nights. William Farren played the hero. Lord Ogleby, an antiquated fop, is a character in “The Clandestine Marriage” by Colman and Garrick. Miss Foote played Helena. See also notes to the letter on page 576 for other references.]

Tuesday, 29th [October, 1822].

DEAR H., I have written a very respectful letter to Sir W. S. Godwin did not write, because he leaves all to his committee, as I will explain to you. If this rascally weather holds, you will see but one of us on that day.

Yours, with many thanks,
C. Lamb.
East India House, London, 29th October 1822.

DEAR Sir,—I have to acknowledge your kind attention to my application to Mr. Haydon. I have transmitted your draft to Mr. G[odwin]’s committee as an anonymous contribution through me. Mr. Haydon desires his thanks and best respects to you, but was desirous that I should write to you on this occasion. I cannot pass over your kind expressions as to myself. It is not likely that I shall ever find myself in Scotland, but should the event ever happen, I should be proud to pay my respects to you in your own land. My disparagement of heaths and highlands—if I said any such thing in half earnest,—you must put down as a piece of the old Vulpine policy. I must make the most of the spot I am chained to, and console myself for my flat destiny as well as I am able. I know very well our mole-hills are not mountains, but I must cocker them up and make them look as big and as handsome as I can, that we may both be satisfied. Allow me to express the pleasure I feel on an occasion given me of writing to you, and to subscribe myself, dear sir, your obliged and respectful servant,

Charles Lamb.

[See note to Letter 269, on page 567. Lamb and Scott never met. Talfourd, however, tells us that “he used to speak with gratitude and pleasure of the circumstances under which he saw him once in Fleet-street. A man, in the dress of a mechanic, stopped him just at Inner Temple-gate, and said, touching his hat, ‘I beg your pardon, sir, but perhaps you would like to see Sir Walter Scott; that is he just crossing the road;’ and Lamb stammered out his hearty thanks to his truly humane informer.”

Mr. Lang has recently discovered that also in 1818 or thereabouts Sir Walter invited Lamb to Abbotsford.


“The old Vulpine policy.” A reference to the fable of the Fox and the Grapes.]

[Dated at end: Nov. 11, 1822.]

DEAR Sir, We have to thank you, or Mrs. Robinson—for I think her name was on the direction—for the best pig, which myself, the warmest of pig-lovers, ever tasted. The dressing and the sauce were pronounced incomparable by two friends, who had the good fortune to drop in to dinner yesterday, but I must not mix up my cook’s praises with my acknowledgments; let me but have leave to say that she and we did your pig justice. I should dilate on the crackling—done to a turn—but I am afraid Mrs. Clarkson, who, I hear, is with you, will set me down as an Epicure. Let it suffice, that you have spoil’d my appetite for boiled mutton for some time to come. Your brother Henry partook of the cold relics—by which he might give a good guess at what it had been hot.

With our thanks, pray convey our kind respects to Mrs. Robinson, and the Lady before mentioned.

Your obliged Sert
Charles Lamb.
India House
11 Nov. 22.

[This letter is addressed to R. Robinson, Esq., Bury, Suffolk, but I think there is no doubt that Thomas Robinson was the recipient.

Thomas Robinson of Bury St. Edmunds was Henry Crabb Robinson’s brother. Lamb’sDissertation on Roast Pig” had been printed in the London Magazine in September, 1822, and this pig was one of the first of many such gifts that came to him.]

Wednesday, 13 November, ’22.

DEAR P.—Owing to the inconvenience of having two lodgings, I did not get your letter quite so soon as I should. The India House is my proper address, where I am sure for the fore part
of every day. The instant I got it, I addressed a letter, for
Kemble to see, to my friend Henry Robertson, the Treasurer of Covent Garden Theatre. He had a conference with Kemble, and the result is, that Robertson, in the name of the management, recognized to me the full ratifying of your bargain: £250 for Ali, the Slaves, and another piece which they had not received. He assures me the whole will be paid you, or the proportion for the two former, as soon as ever the Treasury will permit it. He offered to write the same to you, if I pleased. He thinks in a month or so they will be able to liquidate it. He is positive no trick could be meant you, as Mr. Planché’s alterations, which were trifling, were not at all considered as affecting your bargain. With respect to the copyright of Ali, he was of opinion no money would be given for it, as Ali is quite laid aside. This explanation being given, you would not think of printing the two copies together by way of recrimination. He told me the secret of the two Galley Slaves at Drury Lane. Elliston, if he is informed right, engaged Poole to translate it, but before Poole’s translation arrived, finding it coming out at Cov. Gar., he procured copies of two several translations of it in London. So you see here are four translations, reckoning yours. I fear no copyright would be got for it, for anybody may print it and anybody has. Your’s has run seven nights, and R. is of opinion it will not exceed in number of nights the nights of Ali,—about thirteen. But your full right to your bargain with the management is in the fullest manner recognized by him officially. He gave me every hope the money will be spared as soon as they can spare it. He said a month or two, but seemed to me to mean about a month. A new lady is coming out in Juliet, to whom they look very confidently for replenishing their treasury. Robertson is a very good fellow and I can rely upon his statement. Should you have any more pieces, and want to get a copyright for them, I am the worst person to negotiate with any bookseller, having been cheated by all I have had to do with (except Taylor and Hessey,—but they do not publish theatrical pieces), and I know not how to go about it, or who to apply to. But if you had no better negotiator, I should know the minimum you expect, for I should not like to make a bargain out of my own head, being (after the Duke of Wellington) the worst of all negotiators. I find from Robertson you have written to Bishop on the subject. Have you named anything of the copyright of the Slaves. R. thinks no publisher would pay for it, and you would not risque it on your own account. This is a mere business letter, so I will just send my love to my little wife at Versailles, to her dear mother, etc.

Believe me, yours truly,

C. L.

[Payne’s translation of the French play was produced at Covent Garden on November 6, 1822, under the title “The Soldier’s Daughter.” On the same night appeared a rival version at Drury Lane entitled “Two Galley Slaves.” Payne’s was played eleven times. The new lady as Juliet was the other Fanny Kelly not Lamb’s: Fanny H. Kelly, from Dublin. The revival began on November 14. Planché was James Robinson Planché (1796-1880), the most prolific of librettists. Robert William Elliston, of whom Lamb later wrote so finely, was then managing Drury Lane.

“Having been cheated.” Lamb’s particular reference was to Baldwin (see Letter 290).

The Duke of Wellington.” A reference to the Duke’s failure in representing England at the Congress of Powers in Vienna and Verona.

Lamb’s “dear little wife” was Sophy Kenney (see abstract of letter on page 571).]

[No date. ? Early December, 1822.]

MY dear Friend,—How do you like Harwood? Is he not a noble boy? I congratulate you most heartily on this happy meeting, and only wish I were present to witness it. Come back with Harwood, I am dying to see you—we will talk, that is, you shall talk and I will listen from ten in the morning till twelve at night. My thoughts are often with you, and your children’s dear faces are perpetually before me. Give them all one additional kiss every morning for me. Remember there’s one for Louisa, one to Ellen, one to Betsy, one to Sophia, one to James, one to Teresa, one to Virginia, and one to Charles. Bless them all! When shall I ever see them again? Thank you a thousand times for all your kindness to me. I know you will make light of the trouble my illness gave you; but the recollection of it often sits heavy on my heart. If I could ensure my health, how happy should I be to spend a month with you every summer!

When I met Mr. Kenney there, I sadly repented that I had not dragged you on to Dieppe with me. What a pleasant time we should have spent there!

You shall not be jealous of Mr. Payne. Remember he did Charles and I good service without grudge or grumbling. Say
to him how much I regret that we owe him unreturnable obligations; for I still have my old fear that we shall never see him again. I received great pleasure from seeing his two successful pieces. My love to your boy Kenney, my boy James, and all my dear girls, and also to Rose; I hope she still drinks wine with you. Thank Lou-Lou for her little bit of letter. I am in a fearful hurry, or I would write to her. Tell my friend the Poetess that I expect some French verses from her shortly. I have shewn Betsy’s and Sophy’s letters to all who came near me, and they have been very much admired. Dear
Fanny brought me the bag. Good soul you are to think of me! Manning has promised to make Fanny a visit this morning, happy girl! Miss James I often see, I think never without talking of you. Oh the dear long dreary Boulevards! how I do wish to be just now stepping out of a Cuckoo into them!

Farewel, old tried friend, may we meet again! Would you could bring your house with all its noisy inmates, and plant it, garden, gables and all, in the midst of Covent Garden.

Yours ever most affectionately,
M. Lamb.

My best respects to your good neighbours.


[Harwood would be Harwood Holcroft.

“Louisa,” etc. Mrs. Kenney’s children by her first marriage were Louisa, Ellen, Betsy and Sophia. By her second, with Kenney, the others. Charles was named Charles Lamb Kenney.

Payne’s two successful pieces”—“Ali Pasha” and “The Soldier’s Daughter.”

Fanny would be Fanny Holcroft, Mrs. Kenney’s stepdaughter.

Miss Kelly has added to this letter a few words of affection to Mrs. Kenney from “the real old original Fanny Kelly.”

Charles Lamb also contributed to this letter a few lines to James Kenney, expressing his readiness to meet Moore the poet. He adds that he made a hit at him as Little in the London Magazine, which though no reason for not meeting him was a reason for not volunteering a visit to him. The reference is to the sonnet to Barry Cornwall in the London Magazine for September, 1820, beginning—
Let hate, or grosser heats, their foulness mask
Neath riddling Junius, or in L——e’s name.
The second line was altered in
Lamb’s Album Verses, 1830, to—
Under the vizor of a borrowed name.]

[Dated: Dec. 7, 1822.]

DEAR Sir,—I should like the enclosed Dedication to be printed, unless you dislike it. I like it. It is in the olden style. But if you object to it, put forth the book as it is. Only pray don’t let the Printer mistake the word curt for curst.

C. L.
Dec. 7, 1822.

Who will take these Papers, as they were meant; not understanding every thing perversely in the absolute and literal sense, but giving fair construction as to an after-dinner conversation; allowing for the rashness and necessary incompleteness of first thoughts; and not remembering, for the purpose of an after taunt, words spoken peradventure after the fourth glass. The Author wishes (what he would will for himself) plenty of good friends to stand by him, good books to solace him, prosperous events to all his honest undertakings, and a candid interpretation to his most hasty words and actions. The other sort (and he hopes many of them will purchase his book too) he greets with the curt invitation of Timon, “Uncover, dogs, and lap:” or he dismisses them with the confident security of the philosopher, “you beat but on the case of ELIA.”

C. L.
Dec. 7, 1822.

[Elia. Essays which have appeared under that signature in the London Magazine was just about to be published. The book came out with no preface.

“Uncover, dogs, and lap” (“Timon of Athens,” III., 6, 95).

“You beat but on the case.” When Anaxarchus, the philosopher, was being pounded to death in a mortar, by command of Alexander the Great, he made use of this phrase. After these words, in Canon Ainger’s transcript, Lamb remarks:—

“On better consideration, pray omit that Dedication. The Essays want no Preface: they are all Preface. A Preface is nothing but a talk with the reader; and they do nothing else. Pray omit it.

“There will be a sort of Preface in the next Magazine, which may act as an advertisement, but not proper for the volume.


“Let Elia come forth bare as he was born.”

The sort of Preface in the next magazine (January, 1823) was the “Character of the Late Elia,” used as a preface to the Last Essays in 1833.]

E. I. H. 16 dec. 22.

DEAR Wilson
Lightening I was going to call you—
You must have thought me negligent in not answering your letter sooner. But I have a habit of never writing letters, but at the office—’tis so much time cribbed out of the Company—and I am but just got out of the thick of a Tea Sale, in which most of the Entry of Notes, deposits &c. usually falls to my share. Dodwell is willing, but alas! slow. To compare a pile of my notes with his little hillock (which has been as long a building), what is it but to compare Olympus with a mole-hill. Then Wadd is a sad shuffler.—

I have nothing of Defoe’s but two or three Novels, and the Plague History. I can give you no information about him. As a slight general character of what I remember of them (for I have not look’d into them latterly) I would say that “in the appearance of truth in all the incidents and conversations that occur in them they exceed any works of fiction I am acquainted with. It is perfect illusion. The Author never appears in these self-narratives (for so they ought to be called or rather Auto-biographies) but the narrator chains us down to an implicet belief in every thing he says. There is all the minute detail of a log-book in it. Dates are painfully pressed upon the memory. Facts are repeated over and over in varying phrases, till you cannot chuse but believe them. It is like reading Evidence given in a Court of Justice. So anxious the story-teller seems, that the truth should be clearly comprehended, that when he has told us a matter of fact, or a motive, in a line or two farther down he repeats it with his favorite figure of speech, ‘I say’ so and so,—though he had made it abundantly plain before. This is in imitation of the common people’s way of speaking, or rather of the way in which they are addressed by a master or mistress, who wishes to impress something upon their memories; and has a wonderful effect upon matter-of-fact readers. Indeed it is to such principally that he writes. His style is else-
where beautiful, but plain & homely.
Robinson Crusoe is delightful to all ranks and classes, but it is easy to see that it is written in phraseology peculiarly adapted to the lower conditions of readers: hence it is an especial favorite with sea-faring men, poor boys, servant maids &c. His novels are capital kitchen-reading, while they are worthy from their deep interest to find a shelf in the Libraries of the wealthiest, and the most learned. His passion for matter of fact narrative sometimes betrayed him into a long relation of common incidents which might happen to any man, and have no interest but the intense appearance of truth in them, to recommend them. The whole latter half, or two thirds, of Colonel Jack is of this description. The beginning of Colonel Jack is the most affecting natural picture of a young thief that was ever drawn. His losing the stolen money in the hollow of a tree, and finding it again when he was in despair, and then being in equal distress at not knowing how to dispose of it, and several similar touches in the early history of the Colonel, evince a deep knowledge of human nature; and, putting out of question the superior romantic interest of the latter, in my mind very much exceed Crusoe. Roxana (1st Edition) is the next in Interest, though he left out the best part of it subsequent Editions from a foolish hypercriticism of his friend, Southerne. But Moll Flanders, the account of the Plague &c. &c. are all of one family, and have the same stamp of character.”—

[At the top of the first page is added:—]

Omitted at the end . . . believe me with friendly recollections, Brother (as I used to call you)

C. Lamb.
[Below the “Dear Wilson” is added in smaller writing:—]

The review was not mine, nor have I seen it.


[Addressed to “Walter Wilson Esqr Lufton nr Yeovil Somersetshire.”

Lamb’s friend Walter Wilson (see note on page 220) was beginning his Memoirs of the Life and Times of Daniel Defoe, 1830. The passage sent to him in this letter by Lamb he printed in Vol. III., page 428. Some years later (see pages 464 and 819) Lamb sent Wilson a further criticism. See also Letter 294 for the reference to Roxana.

For Dodwell see page 490. Of Wadd we have no information, except, according to Crabb Robinson’s Diary, that he once acci-
dentally discharged a pen full of ink into
Lamb’s eye and that Lamb wrote this epigram upon him:—
What Wadd knows, God knows,
But God knows what Wadd knows.]

[Dated at end: 23 December 1822.]

DEAR Sir—I have been so distracted with business and one thing or other, I have not had a quiet quarter of an hour for epistolary purposes. Christmas too is come, which always puts a rattle into my morning scull. It is a visiting unquiet unQuakerish season. I get more and more in love with solitude, and proportionately hampered with company. I hope you have some holydays at this period. I have one day, Christmas day, alas! too few to commemorate the season. All work and no play dulls me. Company is not play, but many times hard work. To play, is for a man to do what he pleases, or to do nothing—to go about soothing his particular fancies. I have lived to a time of life, to have outlived the good hours, the nine o’Clock suppers, with a bright hour or two to clear up in afterwards. Now you cannot get tea before that hour, and then sit gaping, music-bothered perhaps, till half-past 12 brings up the tray, and what you steal of convivial enjoyment after, is heavily paid for in the disquiet of to-morrow’s head.

I am pleased with your liking John Woodvil, and amused with your knowledge of our drama being confined to Shakspeare and Miss Bailly. What a world of fine territory between Land’s End and Johnny Grots have you missed traversing. I almost envy you to have so much to read. I feel as if I had read all the Books I want to read. O to forget Fielding, Steele, &c., and read ’em new.

Can you tell me a likely place where I could pick up, cheap, Fox’s Journal? There are no Quaker Circulating Libraries? Ellwood, too, I must have. I rather grudge that S[outhe]y has taken up the history of your People. I am afraid he will put in some Levity. I am afraid I am not quite exempt from that fault in certain magazine Articles, where I have introduced mention of them. Were they to do again, I would reform them.

Why should not you write a poetical Account of your old Worthies, deducing them from Fox to Woolman?—but I remember you did talk of something in that kind, as a counterpart to the
Ecclesiastical Sketches. But would not a Poem be more consecutive than a string of Sonnets? You have no Martyrs quite to the Fire, I think, among you. But plenty of Heroic Confessors, Spirit-Martyrs—Lamb-Lions.—Think of it,

It would be better than a series of Sonnets on “Eminent Bankers.”—I like a hit at our way of life, tho’ it does well for me, better than anything short of all one’s time to one’s self, for which alone I rankle with envy at the rich. Books are good, and Pictures are good, and Money to buy them therefore good, but to buy TIME! in other words, life

The “compliments of the time to you” should end my letter; to a Friend I suppose I must say the “sincerity of the season;” I hope they both mean the same. With excuses for this hastily penn’d note, believe me with great respect—

C. Lamb.
23 dec. 22.

[Miss Bailly would be Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), author of Plays on the Passions.

The copy of Fox’s Journal, 1694, which was lent to Lamb has recently come into the possession of the Society of Friends. In it is written: “This copy of George Fox’s Journal, being the earliest edition of that work, the property of John T. Shewell of Ipswich, is lent for six months to Charles Lamb, at the request of Saml Alexander of Needham, Ipswich, 1st mo. 4 1823.” Lamb has added: “Returned by Charles Lamb, within the period, with many thanks to the Lender for the very great satisfaction which he has derived from the perusal of it.”

Southey was meditating a Life of George Fox and corresponded with Barton on the subject. He did not write the book.

Barton had a plan to provide Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Sonnets with a Quaker pendant. He did not carry it out.

Here might come an undated and unpublished letter from Lamb to Basil Montagu, which is of little interest except as referring to Miss James, Mary Lamb’s nurse. Lamb says that she was one of four sisters, daughters of a Welsh clergyman, who all became nurses at Mrs. Warburton’s, Hoxton, whither, I imagine, Mary Lamb had often retired. Mrs. Parsons, one of the sisters, became Mary Lamb’s nurse when, some time after Lamb’s death, she moved to 41 Alpha Road, Mrs. Parsons’ house. The late John Hollingshead, great-nephew of these ladies, says in his interesting book, My Lifetime, that their father was rector of Beguildy, in Shropshire.]