LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1824

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
[January 9, 1824.]

DEAR B. B.—Do you know what it is to succumb under an insurmountable day mare—a whoreson lethargy, Falstaff calls it—an indisposition to do any thing, or to be any thing—a total deadness and distaste—a suspension of vitality—an indifference to locality—a numb soporifical goodfornothingness—an ossification all over—an oyster-like insensibility to the passing events—a mind-stupor,—a brawny defiance to the needles of a thrusting-in conscience—did you ever have a very bad cold, with a total irresolution to submit to water gruel processes?—this has been for many weeks my lot, and my excuse—my fingers drag heavily over this paper, and to my thinking it is three and twenty furlongs from here to the end of this demi-sheet—I have not a thing to say—nothing is of more importance than another—I am flatter than a denial or a pancake—emptier than Judge Park’s wig when the head is in it—duller than a country stage when the actors are off it—a cypher—an O—I acknowledge life at all, only by an occasional convulsional cough, and a permanent phlegmatic pain in the chest—I am weary of the world—Life is weary of me—My day is gone into Twilight and I don’t think it worth the expence of candles—my wick hath a thief in it, but I can’t muster courage to snuff it—I inhale suffocation—I can’t distinguish veal from mutton—nothing interests me—’tis 12 o’clock and Thurtell is just now coming out upon the New Drop—Jack Ketch alertly tucking up his greasy sleeves to do the last office of mortality, yet cannot I elicit a groan or a moral reflection—if you told me the world will be at end tomorrow, I should just say, “will it?”—I have not volition enough to dot my i’s—much less to comb my Eyebrows—my eyes are set in my head—my brains are gone out to see a poor relation in Moorfields, and they did not say when they’d come back again—my scull is a Grub street Attic, to let—not so much as a joint stool or a crackd jordan left in it—my hand writes, not I, from habit, as chickens run about a little when their heads
are off—O for a vigorous fit of gout, cholic, tooth ache—an earwig in my auditory, a fly in my visual organs—pain is life—the sharper, the more evidence of life—but this apathy, this death—did you ever have an obstinate cold, a six or seven weeks’ unintermitting chill and suspension of hope, fear, conscience, and every thing—yet do I try all I can to cure it, I try wine, and spirits, and smoking, and snuff in unsparing quantities, but they all only seem to make me worse, instead of better—I sleep in a damp room, but it does me no good; I come home late o’ nights, but do not find any visible amendment.

Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

It is just 15 minutes after 12. Thurtell is by this time a good way on his journey, baiting at Scorpion perhaps, Ketch is bargaining for his cast coat and waistcoat, the Jew demurs at first at three half crowns, but on consideration that he may get somewhat by showing ’em in the Town, finally closes.—

C. L.

[“A whoreson lethargy.” A “whoreson apoplexy” is Falstaff’s phrase (2 “Henry IV.,” I., 2, 123), but he adds (126), “This apoplexy is, as I take it, a kind of lethargy.”

“Judge Park’s wig.” Sir James Alan Park, of the Bench of Common Pleas, who tried Thurtell, the murderer of Mr. William Weare of Lyon’s Inn, in Gill’s Hill Lane, Radlett, on October 24, 1823.

“Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans vii. 24).]

[p.m. January 23, 1824.]

MY dear Sir—That peevish letter of mine, which was meant to convey an apology for my incapacity to write, seems to have been taken by you in too serious a light. It was only my way of telling you I had a severe cold. The fact is I have been insuperably dull and lethargic for many weeks, and cannot rise to the vigour of a Letter, much less an Essay. The London must do without me for a time, a time, and half a time, for I have lost all interest about it, and whether I shall recover it again I know not. I will bridle my pen another time, & not teaze and puzzle you with my aridities. I shall begin to feel a little more alive with the
spring. Winter is to me (mild or harsh) always a great trial of the spirits. I am ashamed not to have noticed your
tribute to Woolman, whom we love so much. It is done in your good manner. Your friend Taylor called upon me some time since, and seems a very amiable man. His last story is painfully fine. His Book I “like.” It is only too stuft with scripture, too Parsonish. The best thing in it is the Boy’s own story. When I say it is too full of Scripture, I mean it is too full of direct quotations; no book can have too much of silent scripture in it. But the natural power of a story is diminished when the uppermost purpose in the writer seems to be to recommend something else, viz Religion. You know what Horace says of the Deus intersit. I am not able to explain myself, you must do it for me.—

My Sister’s part in the Leicester School (about two thirds) was purely her own; as it was (to the same quantity) in the Shakspeare Tales which bear my name. I wrote only the Witch Aunt, the first going to Church, and the final Story about a little Indian girl in a Ship.

Your account of my Black Balling amused me. I think, as Quakers, they did right. There are some things hard to be understood.

The more I think the more I am vexed at having puzzled you with that Letter, but I have been so out of Letter writing of late years, that it is a sore effort to sit down to it, & I felt in your debt, and sat down waywardly to pay you in bad money. Never mind my dulness, I am used to long intervals of it. The heavens seem brass to me—then again comes the refreshing shower. “I have been merry once or twice ere now.”

You said something about Mr. Mitford in a late letter, which I believe I did not advert to. I shall be happy to show him my Milton (it is all the show things I have) at any time he will take the trouble of a jaunt to Islington. I do also hope to see Mr. Taylor there some day. Pray say so to both.

Coleridge’s book is good part printed, but sticks a little for more copy. It bears an unsaleable Title—Extracts from Bishop Leighton—but I am confident there will be plenty of good notes in it, more of Bishop Coleridge than Leighton, I hope; for what is Leighton?

Do you trouble yourself about Libel cases? The Decision against Hunt for the “Vision of Judgment” made me sick. What is to become of the old talk about our good old King—his personal virtues saving us from a revolution &c. &c. Why, none that think it can utter it now. It must stink. And the Vision is really, as to Him-ward, such a tolerant good humour’d thing. What a wretched thing a Lord Chief Justice is, always was, & will be!


Keep your good spirits up, dear B B—mine will return—They are at present in abeyance. But I am rather lethargic than miserable. I don’t know but a good horse whip would be more beneficial to me than Physic. My head, without aching, will teach yours to ache. It is well I am getting to the conclusion. I will send a better letter when I am a better man. Let me thank you for your kind concern for me (which I trust will have reason soon to be dissipated) & assure you that it gives me pleasure to hear from you.—

Yours truly
C. L.

[“The London must do without me.” Lamb contributed nothing between December, 1823 (“Amicus Redivivus”), and September, 1824 (“Blakesmoor in H——shire”).

Barton’s tribute to Woolman was the poem “A Memorial to John Woolman,” printed in Poetic Vigils.

Taylor was Charles Benjamin Tayler (1797-1875), the curate of Hadleigh, in Suffolk, and the author of many religious books. Lamb refers to May You Like It, 1823.

“What Horace says”:—
Nec deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus
Ars Poetica, 191, 192.

Neither let a god interfere, unless a difficulty worth a god’s unravelling should happen (Smart’s translation).

“My Black Balling.” Elia had been rejected by a Book Club in Woodbridge.

“I have been merry once or twice.” Master Silence in 2 “Henry IV.,” V., 3, 42, confesses to having “been merry twice and once ere now.”

Coleridge’s book”—the Aids to Reflection, 1825. The first intention had been a selection of “Beauties “from Bishop Leighton (1611-1684), Archbishop of Glasgow, and author, among other works, of Rules and Instructions for a Holy Life.

“The Decision against Hunt.” John Hunt, the publisher of The Liberal, in which Byron’s “Vision of Judgment” had been printed in 1822, had just been fined £100 for the libel therein contained on George III.

“My head, without aching.” An adaptation of Pope’s
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.

Here should come a note from Lamb to Charles Ollier, thanking him for a copy of his Inesilla; or, The Tempter: A Romance, with Other Tales.]

1824 A GOOD MAN 637
[p.m. February 25, 1824.]

MY dear Sir—Your title of Poetic Vigils arrides me much more than A Volume of Verse, which is no meaning. The motto says nothing, but I cannot suggest a better. I do not like mottoes but where they are singularly felicitous; there is foppery in them. They are unplain, un-Quakerish. They are good only where they flow from the Title and are a kind of justification of it. There is nothing about watchings or lucubrations in the one you suggest, no commentary on Vigils. By the way, a wag would recommend you to the Line of Pope
Sleepless himself—to give his readers sleep—
I by no means wish it. But it may explain what I mean, that a neat motto is child of the Title. I think Poetic Vigils as short and sweet as can be desired; only have an eye on the Proof, that the Printer do not substitute Virgils, which would ill accord with your modesty or meaning. Your suggested motto is antique enough in spelling, and modern enough in phrases; a good modern antique: but the matter of it is germane to the purpose only supposing the title proposed a vindication of yourself from the presumption of authorship. The 1st title was liable to this objection, that if you were disposed to enlarge it, and the bookseller insisted on its appearance in Two Tomes, how oddly it would sound—
A Volume of Verse
in Two Volumes
2d edition &c—
You see thro’ my wicked intention of curtailing this Epistolet by the above device of large margin. But in truth the idea of letterising has been oppressive to me of late above your candour to give me credit for. There is
Southey, whom I ought to have thank’d a fortnight ago for a present of the Church Book. I have never had courage to buckle myself in earnest even to acknowledge it by six words. And yet I am accounted by some people a good man. How cheap that character is acquired! Pay your debts, don’t borrow money, nor twist your kittens neck off, or disturb a congregation, &c.—your business is done. I know things (thoughts or things, thoughts are things) of myself which would make every friend I have fly me as a plague patient. I once * * *, and set a dog upon a crab’s leg that was shoved out under a moss of sea weeds, a pretty
little feeler.—Oh! pah! how sick I am of that; and a lie, a mean one, I once told!—

I stink in the midst of respect.

I am much hypt; the fact is, my head is heavy, but there is hope, or if not, I am better than a poor shell fish—not morally when I set the whelp upon it, but have more blood and spirits; things may turn up, and I may creep again into a decent opinion of myself. Vanity will return with sunshine. Till when, pardon my neglects and impute it to the wintry solstice.

C. Lamb.

[The motto eventually adopted for Barton’s Poetic Vigils was from Vaughan’s Silex Scintillans:
Dear night! this world’s defeat;
The stop to busie fools; care’s check and curb;
The day of spirits; my soul’s calm retreat
Which none disturb!

“The Line of Pope.” The Dunciad, Book I., line 94.]

[p.m. 24 March, 1824.]

DEAR B. B.—I hasten to say that if my opinion can strengthen you in your choice, it is decisive for your acceptance of what has been so handsomely offered. I can see nothing injurious to your most honourable sense. Think that you are called to a poetical Ministry—nothing worse—the Minister is worthy of the hire.—The only objection I feel is founded on a fear that the acceptance may be a temptation to you to let fall the bone (hard as it is) which is in your mouth and must afford tolerable pickings, for the shadow of independence. You cannot propose to become independent on what the low state of interest could afford you from such a principal as you mention; and the most graceful excuse for the acceptance, would be, that it left you free to your voluntary functions. That is the less light part of the scruple. It has no darker shade. I put in darker, because of the ambiguity of the word light, which Donne in his admirable poem on the Metempsychosis, has so ingeniously illustrated in his invocation
Make my dark heavy poem, light and light
where the two senses of light are opposed to different opposites. A
trifling criticism.—I can see no reason for any scruple then but what arises from your own interest; which is in your own power of course to solve. If you still have doubts, read over
Sanderson’s Cases of Conscience, and Jeremy Taylor’s Ductor Dubitantium, the first a moderate Octavo, the latter a folio of 900 close pages, and when you have thoroughly digested the admirable reasons pro and con which they give for every possible Case, you will be—— just as wise as when you began. Every man is his own best Casuist; and after all, as Ephraim Smooth, in the pleasant comedy of Wild Oats, has it, “there is no harm in a Guinea.” A fortiori there is less in 2000.

I therefore most sincerely congratulate with you, excepting so far as excepted above. If you have fair Prospects of adding to the Principal, cut the Bank; but in either case do not refuse an honest Service. Your heart tells you it is not offered to bribe you from any duty, but to a duty which you feel to be your vocation. Farewell heartily

C. L.

[In the memoir of Barton by Edward FitzGerald, prefixed to the Poems and Letters, it is stated that in this year Barton received a handsome addition to his income. “A few members of his Society, including some of the wealthier of his own family, raised £1200 among them for his benefit [not 2000 guineas, as Lamb says]. It seems that he felt some delicacy at first in accepting this munificent testimony which his own people offered to his talents.” Barton had written to Lamb on the subject.

Donne’s . . . poem on the Metempsychosis.” “Metempsychosis,” August 16, 1601, verse 6, line 5.

Wild Oats” was by John O’Keeffe.]

[(Early spring), 1824.]

I AM sure I cannot fill a letter, though I should disfurnish my scull to fill it. But you expect something, and shall have a Note-let. Is Sunday, not divinely speaking, but humanly and holydaysically, a blessing? Without its institution, would our rugged taskmasters have given us a leisure day, so often, think you, as once in a month?—or, if it had not been instituted, might they not have given us every 6th day? Solve me this problem. If we are to go 3 times
a day to church, why has Sunday slipped into the notion of a Holliday? A Holyday I grant it. The puritans, I have read in
Southey’s Book, knew the distinction. They made people observe Sunday rigorously, would not let a nursery maid walk out in the fields with children for recreation on that day. But then—they gave the people a holliday from all sorts of work every second Tuesday. This was giving to the Two Cæsars that which was his respective. Wise, beautiful, thoughtful, generous Legislators! Would Wilberforce give us our Tuesdays? No, d—n him. He would turn the six days into sevenths,
And those 3 smiling seasons of the year
Into a Russian winter.
Old Play.

I am sitting opposite a person who is making strange distortions with the gout, which is not unpleasant—to me at least. What is the reason we do not sympathise with pain, short of some terrible Surgical operation? Hazlitt, who boldly says all he feels, avows that not only he does not pity sick people, but he hates them. I obscurely recognise his meaning. Pain is probably too selfish a consideration, too simply a consideration of self-attention. We pity poverty, loss of friends etc. more complex things, in which the Sufferers feelings are associated with others. This is a rough thought suggested by the presence of gout; I want head to extricate it and plane it. What is all this to your Letter? I felt it to be a good one, but my turn, when I write at all, is perversely to travel out of the record, so that my letters are any thing but answers. So you still want a motto? You must not take my ironical one, because your book, I take it, is too serious for it. Bickerstaff might have used it for his lucubrations. What do you think of (for a Title)
There is
Religio-Medici and Laici.—But perhaps the volume is not quite Quakerish enough or exclusively for it—but your own Vigils is perhaps the Best. While I have space, let me congratulate with you the return of Spring—what a Summery Spring too! all those qualms about the dog and cray-fish melt before it. I am going to be happy and vain again.

A hasty farewell

C. Lamb.

[“Southey’s Book”—The Book of the Church. “Would Wilberforce give us our Tuesdays?”—William Wilberforce, the abolitionist and the principal “Puritan” of that day.


“And those 3 smiling seasons . . .” From Webster’sDuchess of Malfy.” Quoted by Lamb in the Specimens.

“Bickerstaff”—Isaac Bickerstaff, Steele’s pseudonym in The Tatler.

“Religio Tremidi or Tremebundi”—“The Religion of a Quaker.”]

[p.m. April 13, 1824.]

DEAR Mrs. A.Mary begs me to say how much she regrets we can not join you to Reigate. Our reasons are—1st I have but one holyday namely Good Friday, and it is not pleasant to solicit for another, but that might have been got over. 2dly Manning is with us, soon to go away and we should not be easy in leaving him, 3dly Our school girl Emma comes to us for a few days on Thursday. 4thly and lastly, Wordsworth is returning home in about a week, and out of respect to them we should not like to absent ourselves just now. In summer I shall have a month, and if it shall suit, should like to go for a few days of it out with you both any where. In the mean time, with many acknowledgments etc. etc., I remain yours (both) truly,

C. Lamb.
India Ho. 13 Apr.

Remember Sundays.

[No date. April, 1824.]

DEAR Sir,—Miss Hazlitt (niece to Pygmalion) begs us to send to you for Mr. Hardy a parcel. I have not thank’d you for your Pamphlet, but I assure you I approve of it in all parts, only that I would have seen my Calumniators at hell, before I would have told them I was a Xtian, tho’ I am one, I think as much as you. I hope to see you here, some day soon. The parcel is a novel which I hope Mr. H. may sell for her. I am with greatest friendliness

C. Lamb.

[“Pygmalion.” A reference to Hazlitt’s Liber Amoris; or, The New Pygmalion, 1823.

Hone’s pamphlet would be his Aspersions Answered: an Explanatory Statement to the Public at Large and Every Reader of the “Quarterly Review,” 1824.

Here should come a note from Lamb to Thomas Hardy, dated April 24, 1824 (printed by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in The Lambs), in which Lamb says that Miss Hazlitt’s novel, which Mr. Hardy promised to introduce to Mr. Ridgway, the publisher, is lying at Mr. Hone’s. Hardy was a bootmaker in Fleet Street.]

May 15, 1824.

DEAR B. B.—I am oppressed with business all day, and Company all night. But I will snatch a quarter of an hour. Your recent acquisitions of the Picture and the Letter are greatly to be congratulated. I too have a picture of my father and the copy of his first love verses; but they have been mine long. Blake is a real name, I assure you, and a most extraordinary man, if he be still living. He is the Robert [William] Blake, whose wild designs accompany a splendid folio edition of the “Night Thoughts,” which you may nave seen, in one of which he pictures the parting of soul and body by a solid mass of human form floating off, God knows how, from a lumpish mass (fac Simile to itself) left behind on the dying bed. He paints in water colours marvellous strange pictures, visions of his brain, which he asserts that he has seen. They have great merit. He has seen the old Welsh bards on Snowdon—he has seen the Beautifullest, the strongest, and the Ugliest Man, left alone from the Massacre of the Britons by the Romans, and has painted them from memory (I have seen his paintings), and asserts them to be as good as the figures of Raphael and Angelo, but not better, as they had precisely the same retro-visions and prophetic visions with themself [himself]. The painters in oil (which he will have it that neither of them practised) he affirms to have been the ruin of art, and affirms that all the while he was engaged in his Water paintings, Titian was disturbing him, Titian the Ill Genius of Oil Painting. His Pictures—one in particular, the Canterbury
Pilgrims (far above
Stothard’s)—have great merit, but hard, dry, yet with grace. He has written a Catalogue of them with a most spirited criticism on Chaucer, but mystical and full of Vision. His poems have been sold hitherto only in Manuscript. I never read them; but a friend at my desire procured the “Sweep Song.” There is one to a tiger, which I have heard recited, beginning—
“Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
Thro’ the desarts of the night,”
which is glorious, but, alas! I have not the book; for the man is flown, whither I know not—to Hades or a Mad House. But I must look on him as one of the most extraordinary persons of the age.
Montgomery’s book I have not much hope from. The Society, with the affected name, has been labouring at it for these 20 years, and made few converts. I think it was injudicious to mix stories avowedly colour’d by fiction with the sad true statements from the parliamentary records, etc., but I wish the little Negroes all the good that can come from it. I batter’d my brains (not butter’d them—but it is a bad a) for a few verses for them, but I could make nothing of it. You have been luckier. But Blake’s are the flower of the set, you will, I am sure, agree, tho’ some of Montgomery’s at the end are pretty; but the Dream awkwardly paraphras’d from B.

With the exception of an Epilogue for a Private Theatrical, I have written nothing now for near 6 months. It is in vain to spur me on. I must wait. I cannot write without a genial impulse, and I have none. ’Tis barren all and dearth. No matter; life is something without scribbling. I have got rid of my bad spirits, and hold up pretty well this rain-damn’d May.

So we have lost another Poet. I never much relished his Lordship’s mind, and shall be sorry if the Greeks have cause to miss him. He was to me offensive, and I never can make out his great power, which his admirers talk of. Why, a line of Wordsworth’s is a lever to lift the immortal spirit! Byron can only move the Spleen. He was at best a Satyrist,—in any other way he was mean enough. I dare say I do him injustice; but I cannot love him, nor squeeze a tear to his memory. He did not like the world, and he has left it, as Alderman Curtis advised the Radicals, “If they don’t like their country, damn ’em, let ’em leave it,” they possessing no rood of ground in England, and he 10,000 acres. Byron was better than many Curtises.

Farewell, and accept this apology for a letter from one who owes you so much in that kind.

Yours ever truly,

C. L.

[Lamb’s portrait of his father is reproduced in Vol. II. of this edition, opposite page 368. The first love verses are no more.

William Blake was at this time sixty-six years of age. He was living in poverty and neglect at 3 Fountain Court, Strand. Blake made 537 illustrations to Young’s Night Thoughts, of which only forty-seven were published. Lamb is, however, thinking of his edition of Blair’s Grave. I give the picture on the opposite page. The exhibition of his works was held in 1809, and it was for this that Blake wrote the descriptive catalogue. Lamb had sent Blake’s “Sweep Song,” which, like “Tiger, Tiger,” is in the Songs of Innocence, to James Montgomery for his Chimney-Sweepers’ Friend and Climbing Boys’ Album, 1824, a little book designed to ameliorate the lot of those children, in whose interest a society existed. Barton also contributed something. It was Blake’s poem which had excited Barton’s curiosity. Probably he thought that Lamb wrote it. Lamb’s mistake concerning Blake’s name is curious, in so far as that it was Blake’s brother Robert, who died in 1787, who in a vision revealed to the poet the method by which the Songs of Innocence were to be reproduced.

“The Dream awkwardly paraphras’d from B.” The book ended with three “Climbing-Boys’ Soliloquies” by Montgomery. The second was a dream in which the dream in Blake’s song was extended and prosified.

“An Epilogue for a Private Theatrical.” Probably the epilogue for the amateur performance of “Richard II.,” given by the family of Henry Field, Barron Field’s father (see Vol. V. of the present edition, page 128).

“Another great Poet.” Byron died on April 19, 1824.

Alderman Curtis.” See note on page 430.]

July 7th, 1824.

DEAR B. B.—I have been suffering under a severe inflammation of the eyes, notwithstanding which I resolutely went through your very pretty volume at once, which I dare pronounce in no ways inferior to former lucubrations. “Abroad” and “lord” are vile rhymes notwithstanding, and if you count you will
wonder how many times you have repeated the word unearthly—thrice in one poem. It is become a slang word with the bards; avoid it in future lustily. “Time” is fine; but there are better a good deal, I think. The volume does not lie by me; and, after a long day’s smarting fatigue, which has almost put out my eyes (not blind however to your merits), I dare not trust myself with long writing. The
verses to Bloomfield are the sweetest in the collection. Religion is sometimes lugged in, as if it did not come naturally. I will go over carefully when I get my seeing, and exemplify. You have also too much of singing metre, such as requires no deep ear to make; lilting measure, in which you have done Woolman injustice. Strike at less superficial melodies. The piece on Nayler is more to my fancy.

My eye runs waters. But I will give you a fuller account some day. The book is a very pretty one in more than one sense. The decorative harp, perhaps, too ostentatious; a simple pipe preferable.

Farewell, and many thanks.
C. Lamb.

[Barton’s new book was Poetic Vigils, 1824. It contained among other poems “An Ode to Time,” “Verses to the Memory of Bloomfield” (see Letter 311), “A Memorial of John Woolman,” beginning—
There is glory to me in thy Name,
Meek follower of Bethlehem’s Child,
More touching by far than the splendour of Fame
With which the vain world is beguil’d,
and “
A Memorial of James Nayler.” The following “Sonnet to Elia,” from the London Magazine, is also in the volume: it is odd that Lamb did not mention it:—

Delightful Author! unto whom I owe
Moments and moods of fancy and of feeling,
Afresh to grateful memory now appealing,
Fain would I “bless thee—ere I let thee go!”
From month to month has the exhaustless flow
Of thy original mind, its wealth revealing,
With quaintest humour, and deep pathos healing
The World’s rude wounds, revived Life’s early glow:
And, mixt with this, at times, to earnest thought,
Glimpses of truth, most simple and sublime,
By thy imagination have been brought
Over my spirit. From the olden time
Of authorship thy patent should be dated,
And thou with Marvell, Brown, and Burton mated.]

[Dated at end: July 19 (1824).]

DEAR Marter,—I have just recd your letter, having returned from a month’s holydays. My exertions for the London are, tho’ not dead, in a dead sleep for the present. If your club like scandal, Blackwood’s is your magazine; if you prefer light articles, and humorous without offence, the New Monthly is very amusing. The best of it is by Horace Smith, the author of the Rejected Addresses. The Old Monthly has more of matter, information, but not so merry. I cannot safely recommend any others, as not knowing them, or knowing them to their disadvantage. Of Reviews, beside what you mention, I know of none except the Review on Hounslow Heath, which I take it is too expensive for your ordering. Pity me, that have been a Gentleman these four weeks, and am reduced in one day to the state of a ready writer. I feel, I feel, my gentlemanly qualities fast oozing away—such as a sense of honour, neckcloths twice a day, abstinence from swearing, &c. The desk enters into my soul.

See my thoughts on business next Page.

Who first invented work?—and bound the free
And holyday-rejoicing Spirit down
To the ever-haunting importunity
Of Business in the green fields, and the Town—
To plough, loom, [anvil], spade, and (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 & turmoiling ever & aye
He and his Thoughts keep pensive worky-day.

With many recollections of pleasanter times, my old compeer, happily released before me, Adieu.

C. Lamb.
E. I. H.
19 July [1824].

[Marter was an old India House clerk; we do not meet with him again. The sonnet had been printed in The Examiner in 1819. Lamb, who was fond of it, reprinted it in Album Verses, 1830.]

[p.m. July 28, 1824.]

MY dear Sir—I must appear negligent in not having thanked you for the very pleasant books you sent me. Arthur, and the Novel, we have both of us read with unmixed satisfaction. They are full of quaint conceits, and running over with good humour and good nature. I naturally take little interest in story, but in these the manner and not the end is the interest; it is such pleasant travelling, one scarce cares whither it leads us. Pray express our pleasure to your father with my best thanks.

I am involved in a routine of visiting among the family of Barron Field, just retd. from Botany Bay—I shall hardly have an open Evening before Tuesday next. Will you come to us then?

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.
28 July 24.

[Arthur and the Novel were two books by Charles Dibdin the Younger, the father of Lamb’s correspondent. Arthur was Young Arthur; or, The Child of Mystery: A Metrical Romance, 1819, and the novel was Isn’t It Odd? three volumes of high-spirited ramblings something in the manner of Tristram Shandy, nominally written by Marmaduke Merrywhistle, and published in 1822.

Barron Field had returned from his Judgeship in New South Wales on June 18.]

(Possibly incomplete)
p.m. August 10, 1824.

AND what dost thou at the Priory? Cucullus non facit Monachum. English me that, and challenge old Lignum Janua to make a better.

My old New River has presented no extraordinary novelties lately; but there Hope sits every day, speculating upon traditionary gudgeons. I think she has taken the fisheries. I now
know the reason why our forefathers were denominated East and West Angles. Yet is there no lack of spawn; for I wash my hands in fishets that come through the pump every morning thick as motelings,—little things o o o like that, that perish untimely, and never taste the brook. You do not tell me of those romantic land bays that be as thou goest to Lover’s Seat: neither of that little churchling in the midst of a wood (in the opposite direction, nine furlongs from the town), that seems dropped by the Angel that was tired of carrying two packages; marry, with the other he made shift to pick his flight to Loretto. Inquire out, and see my little Protestant Loretto. It stands apart from trace of human habitation; yet hath it pulpit, reading-desk, and trim front of massiest marble, as if Robinson Crusoe had reared it to soothe himself with old church-going images. I forget its Christian name, and what she-saint was its gossip.

You should also go to No. 13, Standgate Street,—a baker, who has the finest collection of marine monsters in ten sea counties,—sea dragons, polypi, mer-people, most fantastic. You have only to name the old gentleman in black (not the Devil) that lodged with him a week (he’ll remember) last July, and he will show courtesy. He is by far the foremost of the savans. His wife is the funniest thwarting little animal! They are decidedly the Lions of green Hastings. Well, I have made an end of my say. My epistolary time is gone by when I could have scribbled as long (I will not say as agreeable) as thine was to both of us. I am dwindled to notes and letterets. But, in good earnest, I shall be most happy to hail thy return to the waters of Old Sir Hugh. There is nothing like inland murmurs, fresh ripples, and our native minnows.
“He sang in meads how sweet the brooklets ran,
To the rough ocean and red restless sands.”
I design to give up smoking; but I have not yet fixed upon the equivalent vice. I must have quid pro quo; or quo pro quid, as Tom Woodgate would correct me. My service to him.

C. L.

[This is the first letter to Hood, then a young man of twenty-five, and assistant editor of the London Magazine. He was now staying at Hastings, on his honeymoon, presumably, like the Lambs, near the Priory (see note on page 615).

Cucullus non facit Monachum”—“The cowl does not make the monk,” an old proverb quoted more than once by Shakespeare.

“Old Lignum Janua”—the Tom Woodgate mentioned at the end of the letter, a boatman at Hastings. Hood wrote some verses to him.


“My old New River.” This passage was placed by Hood as the motto of his verses “Walton Redivivus,” in Whims and Oddities, 1826.

“Little churchling.” This is Lamb’s second description of Hollingdon Rural. The third and best is on page 709.

“Loretto.” The legend is that the house of the Virgin Mary at Nazareth was carried by an angel to Macerata, in Italy, and deposited on the property of the Lady Loretto.

“Waters of Old Sir Hugh”—the New River, stream of Sir Hugh Middleton.

“There is nothing like inland murmurs.” Lamb is here remembering Wordsworth’s Tintern Abbey lines:—
With a sweet inland murmur.
In the
Elia essay “The Old Margate Hoy” Lamb, in speaking of Hastings, had made the same objection.

“He sang in meads . . .” An imperfect memory of Landor’s lines in Gebir, also referred to in the same essay:—
In smiling meads how sweet the brook’s repose
To the rough ocean, and red restless sands.

In a letter to his sister, written from Hastings at this time, Hood says:—

This is the last of our excursions. We have tried, but in vain, to find out the baker and his wife recommended to us by Lamb as the very lions of green Hastings. There is no such street as he has named throughout the town, and the ovens are singularly numerous. We have given up the search, therefore, but we have discovered the little church in the wood, and it is such a church! It ought to have been our St. Botolph’s. . . . Such a verdant covert wood Stothard might paint for the haunting of Dioneus, Pamphillus, and Fiammetta as they walk in the novel of Boccacce. The ground shadowed with bluebells, even to the formation of a plumblike bloom upon its little knolls and ridges; and ever through the dell windeth a little path chequered with the shades of aspens and ashes and the most verdant and lively of all the family of trees. Here a broad, rude stone steppeth over a lazy spring, oozing its way into grass and weeds; anon a fresh pathway divergeth, you know not whither. Meanwhile the wild blackbird startles across the way and singeth anew in some other shade. To have seen Fiammetta there, stepping in silk attire, like a flower, and the sunlight looking upon her betwixt the branches! I had not walked (in the body) with Romance before. Then suppose so much of a space cleared as maketh a small church lawn to be sprinkled with old gravestones, and in the midst the church itself, a small Christian dovecot, such as Lamb has truly described it, like a little temple of Juan Fernandes. I could have been sentimental and wished to lie some day in that place, its calm tenants seeming to come through such quiet ways, through those verdant alleys, to their graves.

In coming home I killed a viper in our serpentine path, and Mrs. Fernor says I am by that token to overcome an enemy. Is Taylor or Hessey dead? The reptile was dark and dull, his blood being yet sluggish from the cold; howbeit, he tried to bite, till I cut him in two with a stone. I thought of Hessey’s long backbone when I did it.

They are called adders, tell your father, because two and two of them together make four.]

India House
to which place all letters addressed
to C. L. commonly come.
[August 17, 1821 (?).]

MY dear Sir, You have overwhelmed me with your favours. I have received positively a little library from Baldwyn’s. I do not know how I have deserved such a bounty.

We have been up to the ear in the classics ever since it came. I have been greatly pleased, but most, I think, with the Hesiod,—the Titan battle quite amazed me. Gad, it was no child’s play—and then the homely aphorisms at the end of the works—how adroitly you have turned them! Can he be the same Hesiod who did the Titans? the latter is—
Which to madness does incline.”
But to read the
Days and Works, is like eating nice brown bread, homely sweet and nutritive. Apollonius was new to me. I had confounded him with the conjuror of that name. Medea is glorious; but I cannot give up Dido. She positively is the only Fine Lady of Antiquity: her courtesy to the Trojans is altogether queen-like. Eneas is a most disagreeable person. Ascanius a pretty young master. Mezentius for my money. His dying speech shames Turpin—not the Archbishop I mean, but the roadster of that name.

I have been ashamed to find how many names of classics (and more than their names) you have introduced me to, that before I was ignorant of. Your commendation of Master Chapman arrideth me. Can any one read the pert modern Frenchify’d notes, &c., in Pope’s translation, and contrast them with solemn weighty prefaces of Chapman, writing in full faith, as he evidently does, of the plenary inspiration of his author—worshipping his meanest scraps and relics as divine—without one sceptical misgiving of their authenticity, and doubt which was the properest to expound Homer to their countrymen. Reverend Chapman! you have read his hymn to Pan (the Homeric)—why, it is Milton’s blank verse clothed with rhyme. Paradise Lost could scarce lose, could it be so accoutred.

I shall die in the belief that he has improved upon Homer, in the Odyssey in particular—the disclosure of Ulysses of himself, to
Alcinous, his previous behaviour at the song of the stern strife arising between Achilles and himself (how it raises him above the
Iliad Ulysses!) but you know all these things quite as well as I do. But what a deaf ear old C. would have turned to the doubters in Homer’s real personality! They might as well have denied the appearance of J. C. in the flesh.—He apparently believed all the fables of H.’s birth, &c.

Those notes of Bryant have caused the greatest disorder in my brain-pan. Well, I will not flatter when I say that we have had two or three long evening’s good reading out of your kind present.

I will say nothing of the tenderest parts in your own little volume, at the end of such a slatternly scribble as this, but indeed they cost us some tears. I scrawl away because of interruptions every moment You guess how it is in a busy office—papers thrust into your hand when your hand is busiest—and every anti-classical disavocation.

[Conclusion cut away.]

[This letter, now for the first time printed in full, may be here wrongly placed. Lady Elton thinks the postmark to be 1824. It is, however, one of those letters whose date matters little.

There is a reference to Elton in the note on page 558 to Letter 262; and again, as the author of a witty remark upon Coleridge, in Letter 358. Elton seems to have sent Lamb a number of his books, principally his Specimens of the Classical Poets . . . from Homer to Tryphiodorus translated into English Verse, Baldwin, 1814, in three volumes. Lamb refers first to the passage from Hesiod’s Theogony, and then to his Works and Days (which Chapman translated)—“Dispensation of Providence to the Just and Unjust.”

“Which to madness does incline.” I do not find this.

Apollonius Rhodius was the author of The Argonautics. Lamb then passes on to Virgil. For the death of Mezentius see the Æneid, Book X., at the end. The makers of broadsides had probably credited Dick Turpin with a dying speech.

“Those notes of Bryant.” Lamb possibly refers to Jacob Bryant’s Essay on the Original Genius and Writings of Homer, 1775, or his pamphlet on the Trojan War, 1795, 1799.

“Your own little volume.” Probably The Brothers and Other Poems, by Elton, 1820.]

[p.m. August 17, 1824.]

DEAR B. B.—I congratulate you on getting a house over your head. I find the comfort of it I am sure. At my town lodgings the Mistress was always quarrelling with our maid; and at my place of rustication, the whole family were always beating one another, brothers beating sisters (one a most beautiful girl lamed for life), father beating sons and daughters, and son again beating his father, knocking him fairly down, a scene I never before witnessed, but was called out of bed by the unnatural blows, the parricidal colour of which, tho’ my morals could not but condemn, yet my reason did heartily approve, and in the issue the house was quieter for a day or so than I had ever known. I am now all harmony and quiet, even to the sometimes wishing back again some of the old rufflings. There is something stirring in these civil broils.

The Album shall be attended to. If I can light upon a few appropriate rhymes (but rhymes come with difficulty from me now) I shall beg a place in the neat margin of your young housekeeper.

The Prometheus Unbound, is a capital story. The Literal rogue! What if you had ordered Elfrida in sheets! She’d have been sent up, I warrant you. Or bid him clasp his bible (i.e. to his bosom)—he’d ha clapt on a brass clasp, no doubt.—

I can no more understand Shelly than you can. His poetry is “thin sewn with profit or delight.” Yet I must point to your notice a sonnet conceivd and expressed with a witty delicacy. It is that addressed to one who hated him, but who could not persuade him to hate him again. His coyness to the other’s passion (for hate demands a return as much as Love, and starves without it) is most arch and pleasant. Pray, like it very much.

For his theories and nostrums they are oracular enough, but I either comprehend ’em not, or there is miching malice and mischief in ’em. But for the most part ringing with their own emptiness. Hazlitt said well of ’em—Many are wiser and better for reading Shakspeare, but nobody was ever wiser or better for reading Sh—y.

I wonder you will sow your correspondence on so barren a ground as I am, that make such poor returns. But my head akes at the bare thought of letter writing. I wish all the ink in the ocean dried up, and would listen to the quills shivering [? shrivelling] up in the candle flame, like parching martyrs. The same indispositn
to write it is has stopt my Elias, but you will see a futile Effort in the next No., “wrung from me with slow pain.”

The fact is, my head is seldom cool enough. I am dreadfully indolent. To have to do anything—to order me a new coat, for instance, tho’ my old buttons are shelled like beans—is an effort.

My pen stammers like my tongue. What cool craniums those old enditers of Folios must have had. What a mortify’d pulse. Well, once more I throw myself on your mercy—Wishing peace in thy new dwelling—

C. Lamb.

[The Lambs gave up their “country lodgings” at Dalston on moving to Colebrooke Row.

“The album.” See next letter to Barton.

“The Prometheus Unbound.” A bookseller, asked for Prometheus Unbound, Shelley’s poem, had replied that Prometheus was not to be had “in sheets.” Elfrida was a dramatic poem by William Mason, Gray’s friend.

“Thin sewn with profit . . .” From Paradise Regained, IV., 345:—
Thin sown with aught of profit or delight.

This is Shelley’s poem (not a sonnet) which Lamb liked:—

Alas! good friend, what profit can you see
In hating such an hateless thing as me?
There is no sport in hate, where all the rage
Is on one side. In vain would you assuage
Your frowns upon an unresisting smile,
In which not even contempt lurks, to beguile
Your heart by some faint sympathy of hate.
Oh conquer what you cannot satiate!
For to your passion I am far more coy
Than ever yet was coldest maid or boy
In winter-noon. Of your antipathy
If I am the Narcissus, you are free
To pine into a sound with hating me.

“Miching malice”—“Miching mallecho” (“Hamlet,” III., 2, 147).

Hazlitt writes of Shelley in his essay “On Paradox and Commonplace” in Table Talk; but he does not make this remark there. Perhaps he said it in conversation.

“The next Number.” The “futile Effort” was “Blakesmoor in H——shire” in the London Magazine for September, 1824.


“Wrung from me with slow pain.” Polonius says of his permission for Laertes to travel:—
He bath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave.
“Hamlet,” I., 2, 58.

Here should come a note from Lamb to Cary, August 19, 1824, in which Lamb thanks him for his translation of The Birds of Aristophanes and accepts an invitation to dine.]

[Dated at end: September 30, 1824.]
Little Book! surnam’d of White;
Clean, as yet, and fair to sight;
Keep thy attribution right.
Never disproportion’d scrawl;
Ugly blot, that’s worse than all;
On thy maiden clearness fall.
In each Letter, here design’d,
Let the Reader emblem’d find
Neatness of the Owner’s mind.
Gilded margins count a sin;
Let thy leaves attraction win
By the Golden Rules within:
Sayings, fetch’d from Sages old;
Saws, which Holy Writ unfold,
Worthy to be writ in Gold:
Lighter Fancies not excluding;
Blameless wit, with nothing rude in,
Sometimes mildly interluding
Amid strains of graver measure:—
Virtue’s self hath oft her pleasure
In sweet Muses’ groves of leisure.
Riddles dark, perplexing sense;
Darker meanings of offence;
What but shades, be banish’d hence.
Whitest Thoughts, in whitest dress—
Candid Meanings—best express
Mind of quiet Quakeress.

DEAR B. B.—“I am ill at these numbers;” but if the above be not too mean to have a place in thy Daughter’s Sanctum, take them with pleasure. I assume that her Name is Hannah, because it is a pretty scriptural cognomen. I began on another
sheet of paper, and just as I had penn’d the second line of Stanza 2 an ugly Blot [here is a blot] as big as this, fell, to illustrate my counsel.—I am sadly given to blot, and modern blotting-paper gives no redress; it only smears and makes it worse, as for example [here is a smear]. The only remedy is scratching out, which gives it a Clerkish look. The most innocent blots are made with red ink, and are rather ornamental. [Here are two or three blots in red ink.] Marry, they are not always to be distinguished from the effusions of a cut finger.

Well, I hope and trust thy Tick doleru, or however you spell it, is vanished, for I have frightful impressions of that Tick, and do altogether hate it, as an unpaid score, or the Tick of a Death Watch. I take it to be a species of Vitus’s dance (I omit the Sanctity, writing to “one of the men called Friends”). I knew a young Lady who could dance no other, she danced thro’ life, and very queer and fantastic were her steps. Heaven bless thee from such measures, and keep thee from the Foul Fiend, who delights to lead after False Fires in the night, Flibbertigibit, that gives the web and the pin &c. I forget what else.—

From my den, as Bunyan has it, 30 Sep. 24.

C. L.

[The verses were for the album of Barton’s daughter, Lucy (afterwards Mrs. Edward FitzGerald). Lucy was her only name. Lamb afterwards printed them in his Album Verses, 1830.

“I am ill at these numbers” (“Hamlet,” II., 2, 120). Lamb later came to pride himself on his facility as a rhymester to ladies’ order.

“The Foul Fiend . . . Flibbertigibit.” See “Lear,” III., 4, 120. “False Fires.” See “Hamlet,” III., 2, 277.]

[Dated at end: November 2, 1824.]

DEAR Mrs. Collier—We receive so much pig from your kindness, that I really have not phrase enough to vary successive acknowledgmts.

I think I shall get a printed form to serve on all occasions.

To say it was young, crisp, short, luscious, dainty-toed, is but to say what all its predecessors have been. It was eaten on Sunday
and Monday, and doubts only exist as to which temperature it eat best, hot or cold. I incline to the latter. The Petty-feet made a pretty surprising prœ-gustation for supper on Saturday night, just as I was loathingly in expectation of bren-cheese. I spell as I speak.

I do not know what news to send you. You will have heard of Alsager’s death, and your Son John’s success in the Lottery. I say he is a wise man, if he leaves off while he is well. The weather is wet to weariness, but Mary goes puddling about a-shopping after a gown for the winter. She wants it good & cheap. Now I hold that no good things are cheap, pig-presents always excepted. In this mournful weather I sit moping, where I now write, in an office dark as Erebus, jammed in between 4 walls, and writing by Candlelight, most melancholy. Never see the light of the Sun six hours in the day, and am surprised to find how pretty it shines on Sundays. I wish I were a Caravan driver or a Penny post man, to earn my bread in air & sunshine. Such a pedestrian as I am, to be tied by the legs, like a Fauntleroy, without the pleasure of his Exactions. I am interrupted here with an official question, which will take me up till it’s time to go to dinner, so with repeated thanks & both our kindest remembces to Mr. Collier & yourself, I conclude in haste.

Yours & his sincerely,

C. Lamb.
from my den in Leadenhall,
2 Nov. 24.

On further enquiry Alsager is not dead, but Mrs. A. is brot. to bed.


[Mrs. Collier was the mother of John Payne Collier. Alsager we have already met. Henry Fauntleroy was the banker, who had just been found guilty of forgery and on the day that Lamb wrote was sentenced to death. He was executed on the 30th (see Letter 341).]

[Dated at end: November 11, ’24.]
MY dear Procter,—

I do agnise a shame in not having been to pay my congratulations to Mrs. Procter and your happy self, but on Sunday (my only morning) I was engaged to a country walk; and in virtue of the hypostatical union between us, when Mary calls, it is understood that I call too, we being univocal.


But indeed I am ill at these ceremonious inductions. I fancy I was not born with a call on my head, though I have brought one down upon it with a vengeance. I love not to pluck that sort of fruit crude, but to stay its ripening into visits. In probability Mary will be at Southampton Row this morning, and something of that kind be matured between you, but in any case not many hours shall elapse before I shake you by the hand.

Meantime give my kindest felicitations to Mrs. Procter, and assure her I look forward with the greatest delight to our acquaintance. By the way, the deuce a bit of Cake has come to hand, which hath an inauspicious look at first, but I comfort myself that that Mysterious Service hath the property of Sacramental Bread, which mice cannot nibble, nor time moulder.

I am married myself—to a severe step-wife, who keeps me, not at bed and board, but at desk and board, and is jealous of my morning aberrations. I can not slip out to congratulate kinder unions. It is well she leaves me alone o’ nights—the damn’d Day-hag business. She is even now peeping over me to see I am writing no Love Letters. I come, my dear—Where is the Indigo Sale Book?

Twenty adieus, my dear friends, till we meet.

Yours most truly,

C. Lamb.
Leadenhall, 11 Nov. ’24.

[Procter married Anne Skepper, stepdaughter of Basil Montagu, in October, 1824. One of their daughters was Adelaide Ann Procter.

“Agnise”—acknowledge. It has been suggested that Lamb favoured this old word also on account of its superficial association with agnus, a lamb.]

[p.m. Nov. 20, 1824.]

DR R. Barron Field bids me say that he is resident at his brother Henry’s, a surgeon &c, a few doors west of Christ Church Passage Newgate Street; and that he shall be happy to accompany you up thence to Islington, when next you come our way, but not so late as you sometimes come. I think we shall be out on Tuesdy.

Yours ever
C. Lamb.

[Barron Field, as I have said, had returned from New South Wales in June of this year. Later he became Chief Justice at Gibraltar.]

Desk 11, Nov. 25 [1824].

MY dear Miss Hutchinson, Mary bids me thank you for your kind letter. We are a little puzzled about your whereabouts: Miss Wordsworth writes Torkay, and you have queerly made it Torquay. Now Tokay we have heard of, and Torbay, which we take to be the true male spelling of the place, but somewhere we fancy it to be on “Devon’s leafy shores,” where we heartily wish the kindly breezes may restore all that is invalid among you. Robinson is returned, and speaks much of you all. We shall be most glad to hear good news from you from time to time. The best is, Proctor is at last married. We have made sundry attempts to see the Bride, but have accidentally failed, she being gone out a gadding.

We had promised our dear friends the Monkhouses, promised ourselves rather, a visit to them at Ramsgate, but I thought it best, and Mary seemed to have it at heart too, not to go far from home these last holy days. It is connected with a sense of unsettlement, and secretly I know she hoped that such abstinence would be friendly to her health. She certainly has escaped her sad yearly visitation, whether in consequence of it, or of faith in it, and we have to be thankful for a good 1824. To get such a notion into our heads may go a great way another year. Not that we quite confined ourselves; but assuming Islington to be head quarters, we made timid flights to Ware, Watford &c. to try how the trouts tasted, for a night out or so, not long enough to make the sense of change oppressive, but sufficient to scour the rust of home.

Coleridge is not returned from the Sea. As a little scandal may divert you recluses—we were in the Summer dining at a Clergyman of Southey’s “Church of England,” at Hertford, the same who officiated to Thurtell’s last moments, and indeed an old contemporary Blue of C.’s and mine at School. After dinner we talked of C., and F. who is a mighty good fellow in the main, but hath his cassock prejudices, inveighed against the moral character of C. I endeavoured to enlighten him on the subject, till having driven him out of some
of his holds, he stopt my mouth at once by appealing to me whether it was not very well known that C. “at that very moment was living in a state of open a———y with
Mrs. * * * * * * at Highgate?” Nothing I could say serious or bantering after that could remove the deep inrooted conviction of the whole company assembled that such was the case! Of course you will keep this quite close, for I would not involve my poor blundering friend, who I dare say believed it all thoroughly. My interference of course was imputed to the goodness of my heart, that could imagine nothing wrong &c. Such it is if Ladies will go gadding about with other people’s husbands at watering places. How careful we should be to avoid the appearance of Evil. I thought this Anecdote might amuse you. It is not worth resenting seriously; only I give it as a specimen of orthodox candour. O Southey, Southey, how long would it be before you would find one of us Unitarians propagating such unwarrantable Scandal! Providence keep you all from the foul fiend Scandal, and send you back well and happy to dear Gloster Place.

C. L.

[Addressed to “Miss Hutchinson, T. Monkhouse Esqre. Strand, Torkay, Torbay, Devon.”

Thomas Monkhouse, who was in a decline, had been ordered to Torquay.

“Devon’s leafy shores.” From The Excursion, Book III., line 518.

Crabb Robinson had been in Normandy for some weeks.

The too credulous clergyman at Hertford was Frederick William Franklin, Master of the Blue Coat school there (from 1801 to 1827), who was at Christ’s Hospital with Lamb.

“Mrs. * * * * * *” Mrs. Gillman.]

[No date. ? November, 1824.]

ILLUSTREZZIMO Signor,—I have obeyed your mandate to a tittle. I accompany this with a volume. But what have you done with the first I sent you?—have you swapt it with some lazzaroni for macaroni? or pledged it with a gondolierer for a passage? Peradventuri the Cardinal Gonsalvi took a fancy to it:—his Eminence
has done my Nearness an honour. ’Tis but a step to the Vatican. As you judge, my works do not enrich the workman, but I get vat I can for ’em. They keep dragging me on, a poor, worn mill-horse, in the eternal round of the damn’d
magazine; but ’tis they are blind, not I. Colburn (where I recognise with delight the gay W. Honeycomb renovated) hath the ascendency.

I was with the Novellos last week. They have a large, cheap house and garden, with a dainty library (magnificent) without books. But what will make you bless yourself (I am too old for wonder), something has touched the right organ in Vincentio at last. He attends a Wesleyan chapel on Kingsland Green. He at first tried to laugh it off—he only went for the singing; but the cloven foot—I retract—the Lamb’s trotters—are at length apparent. Mary Isabella attributes it to a lightness induced by his headaches. But I think I see in it a less accidental influence. Mister Clark is at perfect staggers! the whole fabric of his infidelity is shaken. He has no one to join him in his coarse-insults and indecent obstreperousnesses against Christianity, for Holmes (the bonny Holmes) is gone to Salisbury to be organist, and Isabella and the Clark make but a feeble quorum. The children have all nice, neat little clasped pray-books, and I have laid out 7s. 8d. in Watts’s Hymns for Christmas presents for them. The eldest girl alone holds out; she has been at Boulogne, skirting upon the vast focus of Atheism, and imported bad principles in patois French. But the strongholds are crumbling. N. appears as yet to have but a confused notion of the Atonement. It makes him giddy, he says, to think much about it. But such giddiness is spiritual sobriety.

Well, Byron is gone, and —— is now the best poet in England.

Fill up the gap to your fancy. Barry Cornwall has at last carried the pretty A. S. They are just in the treacle-moon. Hope it won’t clog his wings—gaum we used to say at school.

Mary, my sister, has worn me out with eight weeks’ cold and toothache, her average complement in the winter, and it will not go away. She is otherwise well, and reads novels all day long. She has had an exempt year, a good year, for which, forgetting the minor calamity, she and I are most thankful.

Alsager is in a flourishing house, with wife and children about him, in Mecklenburg Square—almost too fine to visit.

Barron Field is come home from Sydney, but as yet I can hear no tidings of a pension. He is plump and friendly, his wife really a very superior woman. He resumes the bar.

I nave got acquainted with Mr. Irving, the Scotch preacher, whose fame must have reached you. He is a humble disciple at the foot of Gamaliel S. T. C. Judge how his own sectarists must stare when I tell you he has dedicated a book to S. T. C.,
acknowledging to have learnt more of the nature of Faith, Christianity, and Christian Church, from him than from all the men he ever conversed with. He is a most amiable, sincere, modest man in a room, this Boanerges in the temple.
Mrs. Montague told him the dedication would do him no good. “That shall be a reason for doing it,” was his answer. Judge, now, whether this man be a quack.

Dear H., take this imperfect notelet for a letter; it looks so much the more like conversing on nearer terms. Love to all the Hunts, old friend Thornton, and all.

Yours ever,

C. Lamb.

[Leigh Hunt was still living at Genoa. Shelley and Byron, whom he had left England to join, were both dead. Lamb, I assume, sent him a second copy of Elia with this letter.

Cardinal Gonsalvi was Ercole Consalvi (1757-1824), secretary to Pius VII. and a patron of the arts. Lawrence painted him.

For the present state of the London Magazine see next letter. Leigh Hunt contributed to Colburn’s New Monthly Magazine, among other things, a series of papers on “The Months,” in which under March is to be found the little passage on London Fogs which I—not alone in the error—have included in Vol. I. as by Lamb (on Ayrton’s authority). Hunt also contributed an account of the Honeycomb family, by Harry Honeycomb.

By Mary Isabella Lamb meant Mary Sabilla Novello, Vincent Novello’s wife. The eldest girl was Mary Victoria, afterwards the wife of Charles Cowden Clarke, the Mr. Clark mentioned here. Novello (now living at Shackleford Green) remained a good Roman Catholic to the end. Holmes was Edward Holmes (1797-1859), a pupil of Cowden Clarke’s father at Enfield and schoolfellow of Keats. He had lived with the Novellos, studying music, and later became a musical writer and teacher and the biographer of Mozart.

Mrs. Barron Field was a Miss Jane Carncroft, to whom Lamb addressed some album verses (see Vol. V. of this edition, page 93). Leigh Hunt knew of Field’s return, for he had contributed to the New Monthly earlier in the year a rhymed letter to him in which he welcomed him home again.

Irving was Edward Irving (1792-1834), afterwards the founder of the Catholic Apostolic sect, then drawing people to the chapel in Hatton Garden, attached to the Caledonian Asylum. The dedication, to which Lamb alludes more than once in his correspondence, was that of his work, For Missionaries after the Apostolical School, a series of orations in four parts, . . . . 1825. It runs:—

My dear and honoured friend,

Unknown as you are, in the true character either of your mind or of your heart, to the greater part of your countrymen, and misrepresented as your works have been, by those who have the ear of the vulgar, it will seem wonderful to many that I should make choice of you, from the circle of my friends, to dedicate to you these beginnings of my thoughts upon the most important subject of these or any times. And when I state the reason to be, that you have been more profitable to my faith in orthodox doctrine, to my spiritual understanding of the Word of God, and to my right conception of the Christian Church, than any or all of the men with whom I have entertained friendship and conversation, it will perhaps still more astonish the mind, and stagger the belief, of those who have adopted, as once I did myself, the misrepresentations which are purchased for a hire and vended for a price, concerning your character and works. You have only to shut your ear to what they ignorantly say of you, and earnestly to meditate the deep thoughts with which you are instinct, and give them a suitable body and form that they may live, then silently commit them to the good sense of ages yet to come, in order to be ranked hereafter amongst the most gifted sages and greatest benefactors of your country. Enjoy and occupy the quiet which, after many trials, the providence of God hath bestowed upon you, in the bosom of your friends; and may you be spared until you have made known the multitude of your thoughts, unto those who at present value, or shall hereafter arise to value, their worth.

I have partaken so much high intellectual enjoyment from being admitted into the close and familiar intercourse with which you have honoured me, and your many conversations concerning the revelations of the Christian faith have been so profitable to me in every sense, as a student and a preacher of the Gospel, as a spiritual man and a Christian pastor, and your high intelligence and great learning have at all times so kindly stooped to my ignorance and inexperience, that not merely with the affection of friend to friend, and the honour due from youth to experienced age, but with the gratitude of a disciple to a wise and generous teacher, of an anxious inquirer to the good man who hath helped him in the way of truth, I do now presume to offer you the first-fruits of my mind since it received a new impulse towards truth, and a new insight into its depths, from listening to your discourse. Accept them in good part, and be assured that however insignificant in themselves, they are the offering of a heart which loves your heart, and of a mind which looks up with reverence to your mind.

Edward Irving.

“Old friend Thornton” was Leigh Hunt’s son, Thornton Leigh Hunt, whom Lamb had addressed in verse in 1815 as “my favourite child.” He was now fourteen.]

[p.m. December 1, 1824.]

DEAR B. B.—If Mr. Mitford will send me a full and circumstantial description of his desired vases, I will transmit the same to a Gentleman resident at Canton, whom I think I have
interest enough in to take the proper care for their execution. But Mr. M. must have patience. China is a great way off, further perhaps than he thinks; and his next year’s roses must be content to wither in a Wedgewood pot. He will please to say whether he should like his Arms upon them, &c. I send herewith some patterns which suggest themselves to me at the first blush of the subject, but he will probably consult his own taste after all. [Figure] The last pattern is obviously fitted for ranunculuses only. The two former may indifferently hold daisies, marjoram, sweet williams, and that sort. My friend in Canton is Inspector of Teas, his name
Ball; and I can think of no better tunnel. I shall expect Mr. M.’s decision.

Taylor and Hessey finding their magazine goes off very heavily at 2s. 6d. are prudently going to raise their price another shilling; and having already more authors than they want, intend to increase the number of them. If they set up against the New Monthly, they must change their present hands. It is not tying the dead carcase of a Review to a half-dead Magazine will do their business. It is like G. D. multiplying his volumes to make ’em sell better. When he finds one will not go off, he publishes two; two stick, he tries three; three hang fire, he is confident that four will have a better chance.

And now, my dear Sir, trifling apart, the gloomy catastrophe of yesterday morning prompts a sadder vein. The fate of the unfortunate Fauntleroy makes me, whether I will or no, to cast reflecting eyes around on such of my friends as by a parity of situation are exposed to a similarity of temptation. My very style, seems to myself to become more impressive than usual, with the change of theme. Who that standeth, knoweth but he may yet fall? Your hands as yet, I am most willing to believe, have never deviated into others’ property. You think it impossible that you could ever commit so heinous an offence. But so thought Fauntleroy once; so have thought many besides him, who at last have expiated, as he hath done. You are as yet upright. But you are a Banker, at least the next thing to it. I feel the delicacy of the subject; but cash must pass thro’ your hands, sometimes to a great amount.
If in an unguarded hour—— but I will hope better. Consider the scandal it will bring upon those of your persuasion. Thousands would go to see a Quaker hanged, that would be indifferent to the fate of a Presbyterian, or an Anabaptist. Think of the effect it would have on the sale of your poems alone; not to mention higher considerations. I tremble, I am sure, at myself, when I think that so many poor victims of the Law at one time of their life made as sure of never being hanged as I in my presumption am too ready to do myself. What are we better than they? Do we come into the world with different necks? Is there any distinctive mark under our left ears? Are we unstrangulable? I ask you. Think of these things. I am shocked sometimes at the shape of my own fingers, not for their resemblance to the ape tribe (which is something) but for the exquisite adaptation of them to the purposes of picking, fingering, &c. No one that is so framed, I maintain it, but should tremble.

Postscript for your Daughter’s eyes only.

Dear Miss—Your pretty little letterets make me ashamed of my great straggling coarse handwriting. I wonder where you get pens to write so small. Sure they must be the pinions of a small wren, or a robin. If you write so in your Album, you must give us glasses to read by. I have seen a Lady’s similar book all writ in following fashion. I think it pretty and fanciful.
“O how I love in early dawn
To bend my steps o’er flowery dawn [lawn],”
which I think has an agreeable variety to the eye. Which I recommend to your notice, with friend Elia’s best wishes.


[The London Magazine began a new series at half a crown with the number for January, 1825. It had begun to decline very noticeably. The New Monthly Magazine, to the January number of which Lamb contributed his “Illustrious Defunct” essay, was its most serious rival. Lamb returned to some of his old vivacity and copiousness in the London Magazine for January, 1825. To that number he contributed his “Biographical Memoir of Mr. Liston” and the “Vision of Horns”; and to the February number “Letter to an old Gentleman,” “Unitarian Protests” and the “Autobiography of Mr. Munden.”

“G. D.”—George Dyer again.

“Fauntleroy.” See note on page 656. Fauntleroy’s fate seems to have had great fascination for Lamb. He returned to the sub-
ject, in the vein of this letter, in “
The Last Peach,” a little essay printed in the London Magazine for April, 1825 (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 283); and in Memories of old Friends, being Extracts from the Journals and Letters of Caroline Fox, . . , from 1835 to 1871, 1882, I find the following entry:—

October 25 [1839].—G. Wightwick and others dined with us. He talked agreeably about capital punishments, greatly doubting their having any effect in preventing crime. Soon after Fauntleroy was hanged, an advertisement appeared, “To all good Christians! Pray for the soul of Fauntleroy.” This created a good deal of speculation as to whether he was a Catholic, and at one of Coleridge’s soirees it was discussed for a considerable time; at length Coleridge, turning to Lamb, asked, “Do you know anything about this affair?” “I should think I d-d-d-did,” said Elia, “for I paid s-s-s-seven and sixpence for it!”

Lamb’s postscript is written in extremely small characters, similar to those facsimiled opposite page 550, and the letters of the two lines of verse are in alternate red and black inks. It was this letter which, Edward FitzGerald tells us, Thackeray pressed to his forehead, with the remark “Saint Charles!” Hitherto, the postscript not having been thought worthy of print by previous editors, it was a little difficult to understand why this particular letter had been selected for Thackeray’s epithet. But when one thinks of the patience with which, after making gentle fun of her father, Lamb sat down to amuse Lucy Barton, and, as Thackeray did, thinks also of his whole life, it becomes more clear.]