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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1827

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
‣ Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
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Produced by CATH
Colebrooke Row, Islington,
Saturday, 20th Jan., 1827.

DEAR Robinson,—I called upon you this morning, and found that you were gone to visit a dying friend. I had been upon a like errand. Poor Norris has been lying dying for now almost a week, such is the penalty we pay for having enjoyed a strong constitution! Whether he knew me or not, I know not, or whether he saw me through his poor glazed eyes; but the group I saw about him I shall not forget. Upon the bed, or about it, were assembled his wife and two daughters, and poor deaf Richard, his son, looking doubly stupified. There they were, and seemed to have been sitting all the week. I could only reach out a hand to Mrs. Norris. Speak-
ing was impossible in that mute chamber. By this time I hope it is all over with him. In him I have a loss the world cannot make up. He was my friend and my father’s friend all the life I can remember. I seem to have made foolish friendships ever since. Those are friendships which outlive a second generation. Old as I am waxing, in his eyes I was still the child he first knew me. To the last he called me Charley. I have none to call me Charley now. He was the last link that bound me to the Temple. You are but of yesterday. In him seem to have died the old plainness of manners and singleness of heart. Letters he knew nothing of, nor did his reading extend beyond the pages of the “
Gentleman’s Magazine.” Yet there was a pride of literature about him from being amongst books (he was librarian), and from some scraps of doubtful Latin which he had picked up in his office of entering students, that gave him very diverting airs of pedantry. Can I forget the erudite look with which, when he had been in vain trying to make out a blackletter text of Chaucer in the Temple Library, he laid it down and told me that—“in those old books, Charley, there is sometimes a deal of very indifferent spelling;” and seemed to console himself in the reflection! His jokes, for he had his jokes, are now ended, but they were old trusty perennials, staples that pleased after decies repetita, and were always as good as new. One song he had, which was reserved for the night of Christmas-day, which we always spent in the Temple. It was an old thing, and spoke of the flat bottoms of our foes and the possibility of their coming over in darkness, and alluded to threats of an invasion many years blown over; and when he came to the part
“We’ll still make ’em run, and we’ll still make ’em sweat,
In spite of the devil and Brussels Gazette!”
his eyes would sparkle as with the freshness of an impending event. And what is the “Brussels Gazette” now? I cry while I enumerate these trifles. “How shall we tell them in a stranger’s ear?” His poor good girls will now have to receive their afflicted mother in an inaccessible hovel in an obscure village in Herts, where they have been long struggling to make a school without effect; and poor deaf Richard—and the more helpless for being so—is thrown on the wide world.

My first motive in writing, and, indeed, in calling on you, was to ask if you were enough acquainted with any of the Benchers, to lay a plain statement before them of the circumstances of the family. I almost fear not, for you are of another hall. But if you can oblige me and my poor friend, who is now insensible to any favours, pray exert yourself. You cannot say too much good of poor Norris and his poor wife.

Yours ever,
Charles Lamb.

[This letter, describing the death of Randal Norris, Sub-Treasurer and Librarian of the Inner Temple, was printed with only very slight alterations in Hone’s Table Book, 1827, and again in the Last Essays of Elia, 1833, under the title “A Death-Bed.” It was, however, taken out of the second edition, and “Confessions of a Drunkard” substituted, in deference to the wishes of Norris’s family. Mrs. Norris, as I have said, was a native of Widford, where she had known Mrs. Field, Lamb’s grandmother. With her son Richard, who was deaf and peculiar, Mrs. Norris moved to Widford again, where the daughters, Miss Betsy and Miss Jane, had opened a school—Goddard House; which they retained until a legacy restored the family prosperity. Soon after that they both married, each a farmer named Tween. They survived until quite recently.

Mrs. Coe, an old scholar at the Misses Norris’s school in the twenties, gave me, in 1902, some reminiscences of those days, from which I quote a passage or so:—

When he joined the Norrises’ dinner-table he kept every one laughing. Mr. Richard sat at one end, and some of the school children would be there too. One day Mr. Lamb gave every one a fancy name all round the table, and made a verse on each. “You are so-and-so,” he said, “and you are so-and-so,” adding the rhyme. “What’s he saying? What are you laughing at?” Mr. Richard asked testily, for he was short-tempered. Miss Betsy explained the joke to him, and Mr. Lamb, coming to his turn, said—only he said it in verse—“Now, Dick, it’s your turn. I shall call you Gruborum; because all you think of is your food and your stomach.” Mr. Richard pushed back his chair in a rage and stamped out of the room. “Now I’ve done it,” said Mr. Lamb: “I must go and make friends with my old chum. Give me a large plate of pudding to take to him.” When he came back he said, “It’s all right. I thought the pudding would do it.” Mr. Lamb and Mr. Richard never got on very well, and Mr. Richard didn’t like his teasing ways at all; but Mr. Lamb often went for long walks with him, because no one else would. He did many kind things like that.

There used to be a half-holiday when Mr. Lamb came, partly because he would force his way into the schoolroom and make seriousness impossible. His head would suddenly appear at the door in the midst of lessons, with “Well, Betsy! How do, Jane?” “O, Mr. Lamb!” they would say, and that was the end of work for that day. He was really rather naughty with the children. One of his tricks was to teach them a new kind of catechism (Mrs. Coe does not remember it, but we may rest assured, I fear, that it was secular), and he made a great fuss with Lizzie Hunt for her skill in saying the Lord’s Prayer backwards, which he had taught her.

Decies repetita” (Horace, Ars Poetica, 365)—“Haec decies repetita placebit”—“Ten times repeated will please.”

“We’ll still make ’em run . . .” Canon Ainger says that the old song is the original version of “Hearts of Oak,” printed in the Universal Magazine, March, 1760, and sung in “Harlequin’s Invasion.”


“How shall we tell them in a stranger’s ear?” A quotation from Lamb himself, in the lines “Written soon after the Preceding Poem,” in 1798 (see Vol. V., page 22).]

[No date. Jan. 20, 1827.]

DEAR R. N. is dead. I have writ as nearly as I could to look like a letter meant for your eye only. Will it do? Could you distantly hint (do as your own judgment suggests) that if his son could be got in as Clerk to the new Subtreasurer, it would be all his father wish’d? But I leave that to you. I don’t want to put you upon anything disagreeable.

Yours thankfully
C. L.

[The reference at the beginning is to the preceding letter, which was probably enclosed with this note.]

[Dated by H. C. R. Jan. 29, 1827.]

DEAR Robinson, If you have not seen Mr. Gurney, leave him quite alone for the present, I have seen Mr. Jekyll, who is as friendly as heart can desire, he entirely approves of my formula of petition, and gave your very reasons for the propriety of the “little village of Hertfshire.” Now, Mr. G. might not approve of it, and then we should clash. Also, Mr. J. wishes it to be presented next week, and Mr. G. might fix earlier, which would be aukward. Mr. J. was so civil to me, that I think it would be better not for you to show him that letter you intended. Nothing can increase his zeal in the cause of poor Mr. Norris. Mr. Gardiner will see you with this, and learn from you all about it, & consult, if you have seen Mr. G. & he has fixed a time, how to put it off. Mr. J. is most friendly to the boy: I think you had better not teaze the Treasurer any more about him, as it may make him less friendly to the Petition

Yours Ever
C. L.

[Writing to Dorothy Wordsworth on February 13, 1827, Robinson says: “The Lambs are well. I have been so busy that I have not lately seen them. Charles has been occupied about the affair of the widow of his old friend Norris whose death he has felt. But the health of both is good.”

Gurney would probably be John Gurney (afterwards Baron Gurney), the counsel and judge. Jekyll was Joseph Jekyll, the wit, mentioned by Lamb in his essay on “The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple.”]

[Dated by H. C. R. Jan., 1827.]

DEAR R. do not say any thing to Mr. G. about the day or Petition, for Mr. Jekyll wishes it to be next week, and thoroughly approves of my formula, and Mr. G. might not, and then they will clash. Only speak to him of Gardner’s wish to have the Lad. Mr. Jekyll was excessive friendly.

C. L.

[The matter referred to is still the Norrises’ welfare. Mr. Hazlitt says that an annuity of £80 was settled by the Inn on Mrs. Norris.

Here perhaps should come a letter from Lamb to Allsop, printed by Mr. Fitzgerald, urging Allsop to go to Highgate to see Coleridge and tell him of the unhappy state of his, Allsop’s, affairs. In Crabb Robinson’s Diary for February 1, 1827, I read: “I went to Lamb. Found him in trouble about his friend Allsop, who is a ruined man. Allsop is a very good creature who has been a generous friend to Coleridge.” Writing of his troubles in Letters, Conversations and Recollections of S. T. Coleridge, Allsop says: “Charles Lamb, Charles and Mary Lamb, ‘union is partition,’ were never wanting in the hour of need.”]

[March, 1827.]

DEAR Raffaele Haydon,—Did the maid tell you I came to see your picture, not on Sunday but the day before? I think the face and bearing of the Bucephalus-tamer very noble, his flesh
too effeminate or painty. The skin of the female’s back kneeling is much more carnous. I had small time to pick out praise or blame, for two lord-like Bucks came in, upon whose strictures my presence seemed to impose restraint: I plebeian’d off therefore.

I think I have hit on a subject for you, but can’t swear it was never executed,—I never heard of its being,—“Chaucer beating a Franciscan Friar in Fleet Street.” Think of the old dresses, houses, &c. “It seemeth that both these learned men (Gower and Chaucer) were of the Inner Temple; for not many years since Master Buckley did see a record in the same house where Geoffry Chaucer was fined two shillings for beating a Franciscan Friar in Fleet Street.” Chaucer’s Life by T. Speght, prefixed to the black letter folio of Chaucer, 1598.

Yours in haste (salt fish waiting),
C. Lamb.

[Haydon’s picture was his “Alexander and Bucephalus.” The two Bucks, he tells us in his Diary, were the Duke of Devonshire and Mr. Agar Ellis.

Haydon did not take up the Chaucer subject.]

[No date. April, 1827.]

DEAR H. Never come to our house and not come in. I was quite vex’d.

Yours truly.
C. L.

There is in Blackwood this month an article most affecting indeed called Le Revenant, and would do more towards abolishing Capital Punishments than 400000 Romillies or Montagues. I beg you read it and see if you can extract any of it. The Trial scene in particular.


[Written on the fourteenth instalment of the Garrick Play extracts. Now preserved at Rowfant. The article was in Blackwood for April, 1827. Hone took Lamb’s advice, and the extract from it will be found in the Table Book, Vol. I. col. 455.

Lamb was peculiarly interested in the subject of survival after hanging. He wrote an early Reflector essay, “On the Inconveniences of Being Hanged,” on the subject, and it is the pivot of his farce “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter.”


“Romillies or Montagues.” Two prominent advocates for the abolition of capital punishment were Sir Samuel Romilly (who died in 1818) and Basil Montagu.]

[No date. May, 1827.]

DEAREST Hood,—Your news has spoil’d us a merry meeting. Miss Kelly and we were coming, but your letter elicited a flood of tears from Mary, and I saw she was not fit for a party. God bless you and the mother (or should be mother) of your sweet girl that should have been. I have won sexpence of Moxon by the sex of the dear gone one.

Yours most truly and hers,
[C. L.]

[This note refers to one of the Hoods’ children, which was stillborn. It was upon this occasion that Lamb wrote the beautiful lines “On an Infant Dying as soon as Born” (see Vol. V., pages 49 and 307).]

[No date. (1827.)]

MY dear B. B.—A gentleman I never saw before brought me your welcome present—imagine a scraping, fiddling, fidgetting, petit-maitre of a dancing school advancing into my plain parlour with a coupee and a sideling bow, and presenting the book as if he had been handing a glass of lemonade to a young miss—imagine this, and contrast it with the serious nature of the book presented! Then task your imagination, reversing this picture, to conceive of quite an opposite messenger, a lean, straitlocked, wheyfaced methodist, for such was he in reality who brought it, the Genius (it seems) of the Wesleyan Magazine. Certes, friend B., thy Widow’s tale is too horrible, spite of the lenitives of Religion, to embody in verse: I hold prose to be the appropriate expositor of such atrocities! No offence, but it is a cordial that makes the heart sick. Still thy skill in compounding it I not deny. I turn to what gave me less mingled pleasure. I find markd with pencil these pages in thy pretty book, and fear I have been penurious.


page 52, 53 capital.

59 6th stanza exquisite simile.

61 11th stanza equally good.

108 3d stanza, I long to see van Balen.

111 a downright good sonnet. Dixi.

153 Lines at the bottom.

So you see, I read, hear, and mark, if I don’t learn—In short this little volume is no discredit to any of your former, and betrays none of the Senility you fear about. Apropos of Van Balen, an artist who painted me lately had painted a Blackamoor praying, and not filling his canvas, stuffd in his little girl aside of Blacky, gaping at him unmeaningly; and then didn’t know what to call it. Now for a picture to be promoted to the Exhibition (Suffolk Street) as Historical, a subject is requisite. What does me? I but christen it the “Young Catechist” and furbishd it with Dialogue following, which dubb’d it an Historical Painting. Nothing to a friend at need.
While this tawny Ethiop prayeth,
Painter, who is She that stayeth
By, with skin of whitest lustre;
Sunny locks, a shining cluster;
Saintlike seeming to direct him
To the Power that must protect him?
Is she of the heav’nborn Three,
Meek Hope, strong Faith, sweet Charity?
Or some Cherub?
They you mention
Far transcend my weak invention.
’Tis a simple Christian child,
Missionary young and mild,
From her store of script’ral knowledge
(Bible-taught without a college)
Which by reading she could gather,
Teaches him to say Our Father
To the common Parent, who
Colour not respects nor hue.
White and Black in him have part,
Who looks not to the skin, but heart.—
When I’d done it, the Artist (who had clapt in Miss merely as a fill-space) swore I exprest his full meaning, and the damosel bridled up into a Missionary’s vanity. I like verses to explain Pictures: seldom Pictures to illustrate Poems. Your wood cut is a rueful Lignum Mortis. By the by, is the widow likely to marry again?

I am giving the fruit of my Old Play reading at the Museum to Hone, who sets forth a Portion weekly in the Table Book. Do you see it? How is Mitford?—

I’ll just hint that the Pitcher, the Chord and the Bowl are a little too often repeated (passim) in your Book, and that on page 17 last line but 4 him is put for he, but the poor widow I take it had
small leisure for grammatical niceties. Don’t you see there’s He myself, and him; why not both him? likewise imperviously is cruelly spelt imperiously. These are trifles, and I honestly like your [book,] and you for giving it, tho’ I really am ashamed of so many presents.

I can think of no news, therefore I will end with mine and Mary’s kindest remembrances to you and yours.

C. L.

[It has been customary to date this letter December, 1827, but I think that must be too late. Lamb would never have waited till then to tell Barton that he was contributing the Garrick Plays to Hone’s Table Book, especially as the last instalment was printed in that month.

Barton’s new volume was A Widow’s Tale and Other Poems, 1827. The title poem tells how a missionary and his wife were wrecked, and how after three nights and days of horror she was saved. The woodcut on the title-page of Barton’s book represented the widow supporting her dead or dying husband in the midst of the storm.

This is the “exquisite simile “on page 59, from “A Grandsire’s Tale”:—
Though some might deem her pensive, if not sad,
Yet those who knew her better, best could tell
How calmly happy, and how meekly glad
Her quiet heart in its own depths did dwell:
Like to the waters of some crystal well,
In which the stars of heaven at noon are seen,
Fancy might deem on her young spirit fell
Glimpses of light more glorious and serene
Than that of life’s brief day, so heavenly was her mien.

This was the “downright good sonnet”:—

“Old age is dark and unlovely.”—Ossian.

O say not so! A bright old age is thine;
Calm as the gentle light of summer eves,
Ere twilight dim her dusky mantle weaves;
Because to thee is given, in strength’s decline,
A heart that does not thanklessly repine
At aught of which the hand of God bereaves,
Yet all He sends with gratitude receives;—
May such a quiet, thankful close be mine.
And hence thy fire-side chair appears to me
A peaceful throne—which thou wert form’d to fill;
Thy children—ministers, who do thy will;
And those grand-children, sporting round thy knee,
Thy little subjects, looking up to thee,
As one who claims their fond allegiance still.

1827 NOTES TO HONE 729

And these are the lines at the foot of page 153 in a poem addressed to a child seven years old:—
There is a holy, blest companionship
In the sweet intercourse thus held with those
Whose tear and smile are guileless; from whose lip
The simple dictate of the heart yet flows;—
Though even in the yet unfolded rose
The worm may lurk, and sin blight blooming youth,
The light born with us long so brightly glows,
That childhood’s first deceits seem almost truth,
To life’s cold after lie, selfish, and void of ruth.

Van Balen was the painter of the picture of the “Madonna and Child” which Mrs. FitzGerald (Edward FitzGerald’s mother) had given to Barton and for which he expressed his thanks in a poem.

The artist who painted Lamb recently was Henry Meyer (1782?-1847), the portrait being that which serves as frontispiece to Vol. VI. of this edition. See opposite page 728 for a reproduction of “The Young Catechist,” which Meyer also engraved, with Lamb’s verses attached.]

[No date. End of May, 1827.]

DEAR H. in the forthcoming “New Monthly” are to be verses of mine on a Picture about Angels. Translate em to the Table-book. I am off for Enfield.

C. L.

[Written on the back of the XXI. Garrick Extracts. The poem “Angel Help” was printed in the New Monthly Magazine for June and copied by Hone in the Table-Book, No. 24, 1827.]

[No date. June, 1827.]

DEAR Hone, I should like this in your next book. We are at Enfield, where (when we have solituded awhile) we shall be glad to see you.

C. Lamb.

[This was written on the back of the MS. of “Going or Gone” (see Vol. V., page 70), a poem of reminiscences of Lamb’s early Widford days, printed in Hone’s Table-Book, June, 1827, signed Elia.]

Enfield, and for some weeks to come,
June 11, 1827.”

DEAR B. B.—One word more of the picture verses, and that for good and all; pray, with a neat pen alter one line
His learning seems to lay small stress on
His learning lays no mighty stress on
to avoid the unseemly recurrence (ungrammatical also) of “seems” in the next line, besides the nonsence of “but” there, as it now stands. And I request you, as a personal favor to me, to erase the last line of all, which I should never have written from myself. The fact is, it was a silly joke of
Hood’s, who gave me the frame, (you judg’d rightly it was not its own) with the remark that you would like it, because it was b—d b—d,—and I lugg’d it in: but I shall be quite hurt if it stands, because tho’ you and yours have too good sense to object to it, I would not have a sentence of mine seen, that to any foolish ear might sound unrespectful to thee. Let it end at appalling; the joke is coarse and useless, and hurts the tone of the rest. Take your best “ivory-handled “and scrape it forth.

Your specimen of what you might have written is hardly fair. Had it been a present to me, I should have taken a more sentimental tone; but of a trifle from me it was my cue to speak in an underish tone of commendation. Prudent givers (what a word for such a nothing) disparage their gifts; ’tis an art we have. So you see you wouldnt have been so wrong, taking a higher tone. But enough of nothing.

By the bye, I suspected M. of being the disparager of the frame; hence a certain line.

For the frame, ’tis as the room is, where it hangs. It hung up fronting my old cobwebby folios and batter’d furniture (the fruit piece has resum’d its place) and was much better than a spick and
span one. But if your room be very neat and your other pictures bright with gilt, it should be so too. I can’t judge, not having seen: but my dingy study it suited.

Martin’s Belshazzar (the picture) I have seen. Its architectural effect is stupendous; but the human figures, the squalling contorted little antics that are playing at being frightend, like children at a sham ghost who half know it to be a mask, are detestable. Then the letters are nothing more than a transparency lighted up, such as a Lord might order to be lit up on a sudden at a Xmas Gambol, to scare the ladies. The type is as plain as Baskervil’s—they should have been dim, full of mystery, letters to the mind rather than the eye.—Rembrandt has painted only Belshazzar and a courtier or two (taking a part of the banquet for the whole) not fribbled out a mob of fine folks. Then every thing is so distinct, to the very necklaces, and that foolish little prophet. What one point is there of interest? The ideal of such a subject is, that you the spectator should see nothing but what at the time you would have seen, the hand—and the King—not to be at leisure to make taylor-remarks on the dresses, or Doctor Kitchener-like to examine the good things at table.

Just such a confusd piece is his Joshua, fritterd into 1000 fragments, little armies here, little armies there—you should see only the Sun and Joshua; if I remember, he has not left out that luminary entirely, but for Joshua, I was ten minutes a finding him out.

Still he is showy in all that is not the human figure or the preternatural interest: but the first are below a drawing school girl’s attainment, and the last is a phantasmagoric trick, “Now you shall see what you shall see, dare is Balshazar and dare is Daniel.” You have my thoughts of M. and so adieu

C. Lamb.

[Lamb had sent Barton the picture (now in the possession of Mrs. Edmund Lyons) that is reproduced in Vol. V. of this edition, and again here. Later Lamb had sent the following lines:—

When last you left your Woodbridge pretty,
To stare at sights, and see the City,
If I your meaning understood,
You wish’d a Picture, cheap, but good;
The colouring? decent; clear, not muddy;
To suit a Poet’s quiet study,
Where Books and Prints for delectation
Hang, rather than vain ostentation.
The subject? what I pleased, if comely;
But something scriptural and homely:
A sober Piece, not gay or wanton,
For winter fire-sides to descant on;
The theme so scrupulously handled,
A Quaker might look on unscandal’d;
Such as might satisfy Ann Knight,
And classic Mitford just not fright.
Just such a one I’ve found, and send it;
If liked, I give—if not, but lend it.
The moral? nothing can be sounder.
The fable? ’tis its own expounder—
A Mother teaching to her Chit
Some good book, and explaining it.
He, silly urchin, tired of lesson,
His learning seems to lay small stress on,
But seems to hear not what he hears;
Thrusting his fingers in his ears,
Like Obstinate, that perverse funny one,
In honest parable of Bunyan.
His working Sister, more sedate,
Listens; but in a kind of state,
The painter meant for steadiness;
But has a tinge of sullenness;
And, at first sight, she seems to brook
As ill her needle, as he his book.
This is the Picture. For the Frame—
’Tis not ill-suited to the same;
Oak-carved, not gilt, for fear of falling;
Old-fashion’d; plain, yet not appalling;
And broad brimm’d, as the Owner’s Calling.

It was not Obstinate, by the way, who thrust his fingers in his ears, but Christian.

“Hence a certain line”—line 16, I suppose.

Martin’s “Belshazzar.” “Belshazzar’s Feast,” by John Martin (1789-1854), reproduced opposite page 450 of Vol. II., had been exhibited for some years and had created an immense impression. Lamb subjected Martin’s work to a minute analysis a few years later (see the Elia essay on the “Barrenness of the Imaginative Faculty in the Productions of Modern Art,” Vol. II., page 226). Martin’s “Joshua Commanding the Sun to Stand Still” is there reproduced also, opposite page 452. Barton did not give up Martin in consequence of this letter. The frontispiece to his New Year’s Eve, 1828, is by that painter, and the volume contains eulogistic poems upon him, one beginning—
Boldest painter of our day.

“Baskervil’s”—John Baskerville (1706-1775), the printer, famous for his folio edition of the Bible, 1768.

Doctor William Kitchiner—the author of Apicius Redivivus; or, The Cook’s Oracle, 1817.]

1827 AT ENFIELD 733
[p.m. June 26, 1827.]

DEAR H. C. We are at Mrs. Leishman’s, Chase, Enfield. Why not come down by the Green Lanes on Sunday? Picquet all day. Pass the Church, pass the “Rising Sun,” turn sharp round the corner, and we are the 6th or 7th house on the Chase: tall Elms darken the door. If you set eyes on M. Burney, bring him.

Yours truly
C. Lamb.

[Mrs. Leishman’s house, or its successor, is the seventh from the Rising Sun. It is now on Gentleman’s Row, not on Chase Side proper. The house next it—still, as in Lamb’s day, a girl’s school—is called Elm House, but most of the elms which darkened both doors have vanished. It has been surmised that when later in the year Lamb took an Enfield house in his own name, he took Mrs. Leishman’s; but, as we shall see, his own house was some little distance from hers.]

[No date. Early July, 1827.]

DEAR H., This is Hood’s, done from the life, of Mary getting over a style here. Mary, out of a pleasant revenge, wants you to get it engrav’d in Table Book to surprise H., who I know will be amus’d with you so doing.

Append some observations about the awkwardness of country styles about Edmonton, and the difficulty of elderly Ladies getting over ’em.——

That is to say, if you think the sketch good enough.

I take on myself the warranty.

Can you slip down here some day and go a Green-dragoning?

C. L.
Enfield (Mrs. Leishman’s, Chase).

If you do, send Hood the number, No. 2 Robert St., Adelphi, and keep the sketch for me.


[“This” was a drawing by Hood, reproduced on page 814 of Vol. I. of this edition, where it represents Mrs. Gilpin resting near Edmonton. I repeat the drawing here from the Table-Book:— [Figure]

Lamb subsequently appended the observations himself. The text of his little article, changing Mary Lamb into Mrs. Gilpin, follows in Mr. Locker-Lampson’s album. The postmark is July 17, 1827.]

Enfield, p.m. July 17, 182[7].

DEAR M. Thanks for your attentions of every kind. Emma will not fail Mrs. Hood’s kind invitation, but her Aunt is so queer a one, that we cannot let her go with a single gentleman singly to Vauxhall; she would withdraw her from us altogether in a fright; but if any of the Hood’s family accompany you, then there can be small objection.


I have been writing letters till too dark to see the marks. I can just say we shall be happy to see you any Sunday after the next: say, the Sunday after, and perhaps the Hoods will come too and have a merry other day, before they go hence. But next Sunday we expect as many as we can well entertain.

With ours and Emma’s
C. L.

[The earliest of a long series of letters to Edward Moxon, now preserved at Rowfant by Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson. Emma Isola’s aunt was Miss Humphreys (see Letter 258).]

[Dated at end: July 19, 1827.]

DEAR P.—I am so poorly! I have been to a funeral, where I made a pun, to the consternation of the rest of the mourners. And we had wine. I can’t describe to you the howl which the widow set up at proper intervals. Dash could, for it was not unlike what he makes.

The letter I sent you was one directed to the care of E. White, India House, for Mrs. Hazlitt. Which Mrs. Hazlitt I don’t yet know, but A. has taken it to France on speculation. Really it is embarrassing. There is Mrs. present H., Mrs. late H., and Mrs. John H., and to which of the three Mrs. Wiggins’s it appertains, I don’t know. I wanted to open it, but it’s transportation.

I am sorry you are plagued about your book. I would strongly recommend you to take for one story Massinger’sOld Law.” It is exquisite. I can think of no other.

Dash is frightful this morning. He whines and stands up on his hind legs. He misses Beckey, who is gone to town. I took him to Barnet the other day, and he couldn’t eat his victuals after it. Pray God his intellectuals be not slipping.

Mary is gone out for some soles. I suppose ’tis no use to ask you to come and partake of ’em; else there’s a steam-vessel.

I am doing a tragi-comedy in two acts, and have got on tolerably; but it will be refused, or worse. I never had luck with anything my name was put to.


Oh, I am so poorly! I waked it at my cousin’s the bookbinder’s, who is now with God; or, if he is not, it’s no fault of mine.

We hope the Frank wines do not disagree with Mrs. Patmore. By the way, I like her.

Did you ever taste frogs? Get them, if you can. They are like little Lilliput rabbits, only a thought nicer.

Christ, how sick I am!—not of the world, but of the widow’s shrub. She’s sworn under £6000, but I think she perjured herself. She howls in E la, and I comfort her in B flat. You understand music? . . .

“No shrimps!” (That’s in answer to Mary’s question about how the soles are to be done.)

I am uncertain where this wandering letter may reach you. What you mean by Poste Restante, God knows. Do you mean I must pay the postage? So I do to Dover.

We had a merry passage with the widow at the Commons. She was howling—part howling and part giving directions to the proctor—when crash! down went my sister through a crazy chair, and made the clerks grin, and I grinned, and the widow tittered—and then I knew that she was not inconsolable. Mary was more frightened than hurt.

She’d make a good match for anybody (by she, I mean the widow).
“If he bring but a relict away,
He is happy, nor heard to complain.”

Procter has got a wen growing out at the nape of his neck, which his wife wants him to have cut off; but I think it rather an agreeable excrescence—like his poetry—redundant. Hone has hanged himself for debt. Godwin was taken up for picking pockets. . . . Beckey takes to bad courses. Her father was blown up in a steam machine. The coroner found it Insanity. I should not like him to sit on my letter.

Do you observe my direction? Is it Gallic?—Classical?

Do try and get some frogs. You must ask for “grenouilles” (green-eels). They don’t understand “frogs,” though it’s a common phrase with us.

If you go through Bulloign (Boulogne) enquire if old Godfrey is living, and how he got home from the Crusades. He must be a very old man now.

If there is anything new in politics or literature in France, keep it till I see you again, for I’m in no hurry. Chatty-Briant is well I hope.

I think I have no more news; only give both our loves (“all
three,” says Dash) to
Mrs. Patmore, and bid her get quite well, as I am at present, bating qualms, and the grief incident to losing a valuable relation.

C. L.
Londres, July 19, 1827.

[This is from Patmore’s My Friends and Acquaintances, 1854; but I have no confidence in Patmore’s transcription. After “picking pockets” should come, for example, according to other editors, the sentence, “Moxon has fallen in love with Emma, our nut-brown maid.” This is the first we hear of the circumstance and quite probably Lamb was then exaggerating. As it happened, however, Moxon and Miss Isola, as we shall see, were married in 1833.

We do not know the name of the widow; but her husband was Lamb’s cousin, the bookbinder.

The doubt about the Hazlitts refers chiefly to William Hazlitt’s divorce from his first wife in 1822, and his remarriage in 1824 with a Mrs. Bridgewater.

“Your book.” Patmore, in My Friends and Acquaintances, writes:—

This refers to a series of tales that I was writing, (since published under the title of Chatsworth, or the Romance of a Week,) for the subject of one of which he had recommended me to take “The Old Law.” As Lamb’s critical faculties (as displayed in the celebrated “specimens” which created an era in the dramatic taste of England) were not surpassed by those of any writer of his day, the reader may like to see a few “specimens” of some notes which Lamb took the pains to make on two of the tales that were shown to him. I give these the rather that there is occasionally blended with their critical nicety of tact, a drollery that is very characteristic of the writer. I shall leave these notes and verbal criticisms to speak for themselves, after merely explaining that they are written on separate bits of paper, each note having a numerical reference to that page of the MS. in which occurs the passage commented on.

“Besides the words ‘riant’ and ‘Euphrosyne,’ the sentence is senseless. ‘A sweet sadness’ capable of inspiring ‘a more grave joy’—than what?—than demonstrations of mirth? Odd if it had not been. I had once a wry aunt, which may make me dislike the phrase.

“‘Pleasurable:’—no word is good that is awkward to spell. (Query.) Welcome or Joyous.

“‘Steady self-possession rather than undaunted courage,’ etc. The two things are not opposed enough. You mean, rather than rash fire of valour in action.

“‘Looking like a heifer,’ I fear wont do in prose. (Qy.) ‘Like to some spotless heifer,’—or, ‘that you might have compared her to some spotless heifer,’ etc.—or ‘Like to some sacrificial heifer of old.’ I should prefer, ‘garlanded with flowers as for a sacrifice’—and cut the cow altogether.

“(Say) ‘Like the muttering of some strange spell,’—omitting the demon,—they are subject to spells, they don’t use them.

“‘Feud ‘here (and before and after) is wrong. (Say) old malice, or, difference. Feud is of clans. It might be applied to family quarrels, but is quite improper to individuals falling out.

“‘Apathetic’ Vile word.


“‘Mechanically,’ faugh!—insensibly—involuntarily—in-anything-ly but mechanically.

“Calianax’s character should be somewhere briefly drawn, not left to be dramatically inferred.

“‘Surprised and almost vexed while it troubled her.’ (Awkward.) Better, ‘in a way that while it deeply troubled her, could not but surprise and vex her to think it should be a source of trouble at all.’

“‘Reaction’ is vile slang. ‘Physical’—vile word.

“Decidedly, Dorigen should simply propose to him to remove the rocks as ugly or dangerous, not as affecting her with fears for her husband. The idea of her husband should be excluded from a promise which is meant to be frank upon impossible conditions. She cannot promise in one breath infidelity to him, and make the conditions a good to him. Her reason for hating the rocks is good, but not to be expressed here.

“Insert after ‘to whatever consequences it might lead,’—‘Neither had Arviragus been disposed to interpose a husband’s authority to prevent the execution of this rash vow, was he unmindful of that older and more solemn vow which, in the days of their marriage, he had imposed upon himself, in no instance to control the settled purpose or determination of his wedded wife;—so that by the chains of a double contract he seemed bound to abide by her decision in this instance, whatever it might be.’”

“A tragi-comedy”—Lamb’s dramatic version of Crabbe’sConfidante,” which he called “The Wife’s Trial” (see Vol. V. of this edition).

“If he bring but a relict away . . .” From Shenstone’sAbsence”:—
If he bear but a relique away
Is happy, nor heard to repine.

Procter has got a wen.” This paragraph must be taken with salt. Poor Hone, however, had the rules of the King’s Bench at the time. Beckey was the Lambs’ servant and tyrant; she had been Hazlitt’s. Patmore described her at some length in his reminiscences of Lamb.


Enfield, July 26th, 1827.

DEAR Mrs. Shelley,—At the risk of throwing away some fine thoughts, I must write to say how pleased we were with your very kind remembering of us (who have unkindly run away from all our friends) before you go. Perhaps you are gone, and then my tropes are wasted. If any piece of better fortune has lighted upon you than you expected, but less than we wish you, we are rejoiced. We are here trying to like solitude, but have scarce enough to justify
the experiment. We get some, however. The six days are our Sabbath; the seventh—why, Cockneys will come for a little fresh air, and so—

But by your month, or October at furthest, we hope to see Islington: I like a giant refreshed with the leaving off of wine, and Mary, pining for Mr. Moxon’s books and Mr. Moxon’s society. Then we shall meet.

I am busy with a farce in two acts, the incidents tragi-comic. I can do the dialogue commey for: but the damned plot—I believe I must omit it altogether. The scenes come after one another like geese, not marshalling like cranes or a Hyde Park review. The story is as simple as G[eorge] D[yer], and the language plain as his spouse. The characters are three women to one man; which is one more than laid hold on him in the “Evangely.” I think that prophecy squinted towards my drama.

I want some Howard Paine to sketch a skeleton of artfully succeeding scenes through a whole play, as the courses are arranged in a cookery book: I to find wit, passion, sentiment, character, and the like trifles: to lay in the dead colours,—I’d Titianesque ’em up: to mark the channel in a cheek (smooth or furrowed, yours or mine), and where tears should course I’d draw the waters down: to say where a joke should come in or a pun be left out: to bring my personæ on and off like a Beau Nash; and I’d Frankenstein them there: to bring three together on the stage at once; they are so shy with me, that I can get no more than two; and there they stand till it is the time, without being the season, to withdraw them.

I am teaching Emma Latin to qualify her for a superior governessship; which we see no prospect of her getting. ’Tis like feeding a child with chopped hay from a spoon. Sisyphus—his labours were as nothing to it.

Actives and passives jostle in her nonsense, till a deponent enters, like Chaos, more to embroil the fray. Her prepositions are suppositions; her conjunctions copulative have no connection in them; her concords disagree; her interjections are purely English “Ah!” and “Oh!” with a yawn and a gape in the same tongue; and she herself is a lazy, block-headly supine. As I say to her, ass in præsenti rarely makes a wise man in futuro.

But I daresay it was so with you when you began Latin, and a good while after.

Good-by! Mary’s love.

Yours truly,

C. Lamb.

[This is the only letter to Mrs. Shelley, née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the widow of the poet and the author of Frankenstein.
She had been living in England since 1823; and in 1826 had issued anonymously
The Last Man. That she kept much in touch with the Lambs’ affairs we know by her letters to Leigh Hunt.

“A farce”—“The Wife’s Trial,” Lamb’s blank-verse treatment of Crabbe’sConfidante” (see Vol. V., page 243). Convmey for is Lamb’s comme il faut.

“In the ‘Evangely.’” If by Evangely he meant Gospel, Lamb was a little confused here, I think. Probably Isaiah iv. 1 was in his mind: “and in that day seven women shall take hold of one man.” But he may also have half remembered Luke xvii. 35.

Howard Paine.” See note on page 576.

“I am teaching Emma Latin.” Mary Lamb contributed to Blackwood’s Magazine for June, 1829, the following little poem describing Emma Isola’s difficulties in these lessons:—

Droop not, dear Emma, dry those falling tears,
And call up smiles into thy pallid face,
Pallid and care-worn with thy arduous race:
In few brief months thou hast done the work of years.
To young beginnings natural are these fears.
A right good scholar shalt thou one day be,
And that no distant one; when even she,
Who now to thee a star far off appears,
That most rare Latinist, the Northern Maid—
The language-loving Sarah1 of the Lake—
Shall hail thee Sister Linguist. This will make
Thy friends, who now afford thee careful aid,
A recompense most rich for all their pains,
Counting thy acquisitions their best gains.

“Ass in præsenti.” This was Boyer’s joke, at Christ’s Hospital (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 305).

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Edward White, of the India House, dated August 1, 1827, not available for this edition (printed by Mr. Hazlitt), in which Lamb has some pleasantry about paying postages, and ends by heartily commending White to mind his ledger, and keep his eye on Mr. Chambers’ balances.

See Appendix II., page 975, for another letter at this time.]

[Summer, 1827.]

DEAR Madam,—I return your List with my name. I should be sorry that any respect should be going on towards [Clarkson,] and I be left out of the conspiracy. Otherwise I frankly own that

1 Daughter of S. T. Coleridge, Esq.; an accomplished linguist in the Greek and Latin tongues, and translatress of a History of the Abipones.

to pillarize a man’s good feelings in his lifetime is not to my taste. Monuments to goodness, even after death, are equivocal. I turn away from
Howard’s, I scarce know why. Goodness blows no trumpet, nor desires to have it blown. We should be modest for a modest man—as he is for himself. The vanities of Life—Art, Poetry, Skill military, are subjects for trophies; not the silent thoughts arising in a good man’s mind in lonely places. Was I C[larkson,] I should never be able to walk or ride near —— again. Instead of bread, we are giving him a stone. Instead of the locality recalling the noblest moment of his existence, it is a place at which his friends (that is, himself) blow to the world, “What a good man is he!” I sat down upon a hillock at Forty Hill yesternight—a fine contemplative evening,—with a thousand good speculations about mankind. How I yearned with cheap benevolence! I shall go and inquire of the stone-cutter, that cuts the tombstones here, what a stone with a short inscription will cost; just to say—“Here C. Lamb loved his brethren of mankind.” Everybody will come there to love. As I can’t well put my own name, I shall put about a subscription:

  s.   d.  
Mrs. —— 5   0  
Procter 2   6  
G. Dyer 1   0  
Mr. Godwin 0   0
Mrs. Godwin 0   0  
Mr. Irving   a watch-chain
Mr. ——   the proceeds of the first edition.*
  8   6  

I scribble in haste from here, where we shall be some time. Pray request Mr. M[ontagu] to advance the guinea for me, which shall faithfully be forthcoming; and pardon me that I don’t see the proposal in quite the light that he may. The kindness of his motives, and his power of appreciating the noble passage, I thoroughly agree in. With most kind regards to him, I conclude,

Dear Madam,
Yours truly,
C. Lamb.
From Mrs. Leishman’s,
Chase, Enfield.

* A capital book, by the bye, but not over saleable.


[The memorial to Thomas Clarkson stands on a hill above Wade Mill, on the Buntingford Road, in Hertfordshire.


Forty Hill is close to Enfield.

Edward Irving’s watch-chain. The explanation of Lamb’s joke is to be found in Carlyle’s Reminiscences (quoted also in Froude’s Life, Vol. I., page 326). Irving had put down as his contribution to some subscription list, at a public meeting, “an actual gold watch, which he said had just arrived to him from his beloved brother lately dead in India.” This rather theatrical action had evidently amused Lamb as it had disgusted Carlyle.

The “first edition” of “Mr. ——” was, I suppose, Basil Montagu’s work on Bacon, which Macaulay reviewed.]

[August 9, 1827.]

MY dear Lady-Friend,—My brother called at our empty cottage yesterday, and found the cards of your son and his friend, Mr. Hine, under the door; which has brought to my mind that I am in danger of losing this post, as I did the last, being at that time in a confused state of mind—for at that time we were talking of leaving, and persuading ourselves that we were intending to leave town and all our friends, and sit down for ever, solitary and forgotten, here. Here we are; and we have locked up our house, and left it to take care of itself; but at present we do not design to extend our rural life beyond Michaelmas. Your kind letter was most welcome to me, though the good news contained in it was already known to me. Accept my warmest congratulations, though they come a little of the latest. In my next I may probably have to hail you Grandmama; or to felicitate you on the nuptials of pretty Mary, who, whatever the beaux of Malta may think of her, I can only remember her round shining face, and her “O William!”—“dear William!” when we visited her the other day at school. Present my love and best wishes—a long and happy married life to dear Isabella—I love to call her Isabella; but in truth, having left your other letter in town, I recollect no other name she has.

The same love and the same wishes—in future—to my friend Mary. Tell her that her “dear William “grows taller, and improves in manly looks and manlike behaviour every time I see him. What is Henry about? and what should one wish for him? If he be in search of a wife, I will send him out Emma Isola.

You remember Emma, that you were so kind as to invite to your ball? She is now with us; and I am moving heaven and earth,
that is to say, I am pressing the matter upon all the very few friends I have that are likely to assist me in such a case, to get her into a family as a governess; and
Charles and I do little else here than teach her something or other all day long.

We are striving to put enough Latin into her to enable her to begin to teach it to young learners. So much for Emma—for you are so fearfully far away, that I fear it is useless to implore your patronage for her.

I have not heard from Mrs. Hazlitt a long time. I believe she is still with Hazlitt’s mother in Devonshire.

I expect a pacquet of manuscript from you: you promised me the office of negotiating with booksellers, and so forth, for your next work. Is it in good forwardness? or do you grow rich and indolent now? It is not surprising that your Maltese story should find its way into Malta; but I was highly pleased with the idea of your pleasant surprise at the sight of it. I took a large sheet of paper, in order to leave Charles room to add something more worth reading than my poor mite.

May we all meet again once more!

M. Lamb.
LETTER 403 (continued)

DEAR Knight—Old Acquaintance—’Tis with a violence to the pure imagination (vide the “Excursionpassim) that I can bring myself to believe I am writing to Dr. Stoddart once again, at Malta. But the deductions of severe reason warrant the proceeding. I write from Enfield, where we are seriously weighing the advantages of dulness over the over-excitement of too much company, but have not yet come to a conclusion. What is the news? for we see no paper here; perhaps you can send us an old one from Malta. Only, I heard a butcher in the market-place whisper something about a change of ministry. I don’t know who’s in or out, or care, only as it might affect you. For domestic doings, I have only to tell, with extreme regret, that poor Elisa Fenwick (that was)—Mrs. Rutherford—is dead; and that we have received a most heart-broken letter from her mother—left with four grandchildren, orphans of a living scoundrel lurking about the pothouses of Little Russell Street, London: they and she—God help ’em!—at New York. I have just received Godwin’s third volume of the Republic, which only reaches to the commencement of the Protectorate. I think he
means to spin it out to his life’s thread. Have you seen
Fearn’s Anti-Tooke? I am no judge of such things—you are; but I think it very clever indeed. If I knew your bookseller, I’d order it for you at a venture: ’tis two octavos, Longman and Co. Or do you read now? Tell it not in the Admiralty Court, but my head aches hesterno vino. I can scarce pump up words, much less ideas, congruous to be sent so far. But your son must have this by to-night’s post. [Here came a passage relating to an escapade of young Stoddart, then at the Charterhouse, which, probably through Lamb’s intervention, was treated leniently. Lamb helped him with his impositionGray’sElegyinto Greek elegiacs.] Manning is gone to Rome, Naples, etc., probably to touch at Sicily, Malta, Guernsey, etc.; but I don’t know the map. Hazlitt is resident at Paris, whence he pours his lampoons in safety at his friends in England. He has his boy with him. I am teaching Emma Latin. By the time you can answer this, she will be qualified to instruct young ladies: she is a capital English reader: and S. T. C. acknowledges that a part of a passage in Milton she read better than he, and part he read best, her part being the shorter. But, seriously, if Lady St —— (oblivious pen, that was about to write Mrs.!) could hear of such a young person wanted (she smatters of French, some Italian, music of course), we’d send our loves by her. My congratulations and assurances of old esteem.

C. L.

[Stoddart had been appointed in 1826 Chief-Justice and Justice of the Vice-Admiralty Court in Malta and had been knighted in the same year. His daughter Isabella had just married. Lady Stoddart’s literary efforts did not, I think, reach print.

“The deductions of severe reason.” See the quotation from Cottle on page 257.

“A change of ministry.” On Liverpool’s resignation early in 1827 Canning had been called in to form a new Ministry, which he effected by an alliance with the Whigs.

Godwin’s Republic”—History of the Commonwealth of England, in four volumes, 1824-1828.

Fearn’s Anti-Tooke”—Anti-Tooke; or, An Analysis of the Principles and Structure of Language Exemplified in the English Tongue, 1824.

Hesterno vino”—“with yesterday’s wine.”

Here should come a note from Lamb to Hone, dated August 10, 1827, in which Lamb expresses regret for Matilda Hone’s illness.]

[p.m. 10 August, 1827.]

DEAR B. B.—I have not been able to answer you, for we have had, and are having (I just snatch a moment), our poor quiet retreat, to which we fled from society, full of company, some staying with us, and this moment as I write almost a heavy importation of two old Ladies has come in. Whither can I take wing from the oppression of human faces? Would I were in a wilderness of Apes, tossing cocoa nuts about, grinning and grinned at!

Mitford was hoaxing you surely about my Engraving, ’tis a little sixpenny thing, too like by half, in which the draughtsman has done his best to avoid flattery. There have been 2 editions of it, which I think are all gone, as they have vanish’d from the window where they hung, a print shop, corner of Great and Little Queen Streets, Lincolns Inn fields, where any London friend of yours may inquire for it; for I am (tho’ you won’t understand it) at Enfield (Mrs. Leishman’s, Chase). We have been here near 3 months, and shall stay 2 or more, if people will let us alone, but they persecute us from village to village. So don’t direct to Islington again, till further notice.

I am trying my hand at a Drama, in 2 acts, founded on Crabbe’sConfidant,” mutatis mutandis.

You like the Odyssey. Did you ever read my “Adventures of Ulysses,” founded on Chapman’s old translation of it? for children or men. Ch. is divine, and my abridgment has not quite emptied him of his divinity. When you come to town I’ll show it you.

You have well described your old fashioned Grand-paternall Hall. Is it not odd that every one’s earliest recollections are of some such place. I had my Blakesware (Blakesmoor in the “London”). Nothing fills a childs mind like a large old Mansion [one or two words wafered over]; better if un-or-partially-occupied; peopled with the spirits of deceased members of [for] the County and Justices of the Quorum. Would I were buried in the peopled solitude of one, with my feelings at 7 years old.

Those marble busts of the Emperors, they seem’d as if they were to stand for ever, as they had stood from the living days of Rome, in that old Marble Hall, and I to partake of their permanency; Eternity was, while I thought not of Time. But he thought of me, and they are toppled down, and corn covers the spot of the noble old Dwelling and its princely gardens. I feel like a grass-
hopper that chirping about the grounds escaped his scythe only by my littleness. Ev’n now he is whetting one of his smallest razors to clean wipe me out, perhaps. Well!


[“My Engraving”—Brook Pulham’s caricature (see opposite page 706).

“You have well described your . . . Grand-paternall Hall.” Barton wrote the following account of this house, the home of his step-grandfather at Tottenham; but I do not know whether it is the same that Lamb saw:—

My most delightful recollections of boyhood are connected with the fine old country-house in a green lane diverging from the high road which runs through Tottenham. I would give seven years of life as it now is, for a week of that which I then led. It was a large old house, with an iron palisade and a pair of iron gates in front, and a huge stone eagle on each pier. Leading up to the steps by which you went up to the hall door, was a wide gravel walk, bordered in summer time by huge tubs, in which were orange and lemon trees, and in the centre of the grassplot stood a tub yet huger, holding an enormous aloe. The hall itself, to my fancy then lofty and wide as a cathedral would seem now, was a famous place for battledore and shuttlecock; and behind was a garden, equal to that of old Alcinous himself. My favourite walk was one of turf by a long straight pond, bordered with lime-trees. But the whole demesne was the fairy ground of my childhood; and its presiding genius was grandpapa. He must have been a very handsome man in his youth, for I remember him at nearly eighty, a very fine-looking one, even in the decay of mind and body. In the morning a velvet cap; by dinner, a flaxen wig; his features always expressive of benignity and placid cheerfulness. When he walked out into the garden, his cocked hat and amber-headed cane completed his costume. To the recollection of this delightful personage, I am, I think, indebted for many soothing and pleasing associations with old age.

“Those marble busts of the Emperors.” See the Elia essay “Blakesmoor in H——shire,” in Vol. II. of this edition, page 153.]

28th of Aug., 1827.

I have left a place for a wafer, but can’t find it again.

DEAR B. B.—I am thankful to you for your ready compliance with my wishes. Emma is delighted with your verses, to which I have appended this notice “The 6th line refers to the child of a dear friend of the author’s, named Emma,” without which it must be obscure; and have sent it with four Album poems of my own (your daughter’s with your heading, requesting it a place next mine) to a Mr. Fraser, who is to be editor of a more superb Pocket
book than has yet appeared by far! the property of some wealthy booksellers, but whom, or what its name, I forgot to ask. It is actually to have in it schoolboy exercises by
his present Majesty and the late Duke of York, so Lucy will come to Court; how she will be stared at! Wordsworth is named as a Contributor. Frazer, whom I have slightly seen, is Editor of a forth-come or coming Review of foreign books, and is intimately connected with Lockhart, &c. so I take it that this is a concern of Murray’s. Walter Scott also contributes mainly. I have stood off a long time from these Annuals, which are ostentatious trumpery, but could not withstand the request of Jameson, a particular friend of mine and Coleridge.

I shall hate myself in frippery, strutting along, and vying finery with Beaux and Belles
with “Future Lord Byrons and sweet L. E. L.’s.”—
Your taste I see is less simple than mine, which the difference of our persuasions has doubtless effected. In fact, of late you have so frenchify’d your style, larding it with hors de combats, and au desopoirs, that o’ my conscience the Foxian blood is quite dried out of you, and the skipping Monsieur spirit has been infused. Doth
Lucy go to Balls? I must remodel my lines, which I write for her. I hope A. K. keeps to her Primitives. If you have any thing you’d like to send further, I don’t know Frazer’s address, but I sent mine thro’ Mr. Jameson, 19 or 90 Cheyne Street, Totnam Court road. I dare say an honourable place wou’d be given to them; but I have not heard from Frazer since I sent mine, nor shall probably again, and therefore I do not solicit it as from him.

Yesterday I sent off my tragi comedy to Mr. Kemble. Wish it luck. I made it all (’tis blank verse, and I think, of the true old dramatic cut) or most of it, in the green lanes about Enfield, where I am and mean to remain, in spite of your peremptory doubts on that head.

Your refusal to lend your poetical sanction to my Icon, and your reasons to Evans, are most sensible. May be I may hit on a line or two of my own jocular. May be not.

Do you never Londonize again? I should like to talk over old poetry with you, of which I have much, and you I think little. Do your Drummonds allow no holydays? I would willingly come and w[ork] for you a three weeks or so, to let you loose. Would I could sell or give you some of my Leisure! Positively, the best thing a man can have to do is nothing, and next to that perhaps—good works.

I am but poorlyish, and feel myself writing a dull letter; poorlyish from Company, not generally, for I never was better, nor took more walks, 14 miles a day on an average, with a sporting dog—Dash—you would not know the plain Poet, any more than he doth re-
James Naylor trick’d out au deserpoy (how do you spell it.) En Passant, J’aime entendre da mon bon homme sur surveillance de croix, ma pas l’homme figuratif—do you understand me?


[The verses with which Emma was delighted were probably written for her album. I have not seen them. That album was cut up for the value of its autographs and exists now only in a mutilated state: where, I cannot discover. The pocket-book was The Bijou, 1828, edited by William Fraser for Pickering. Only one of Lamb’s contributions was included: his verses for his own album (see Vol. V. of this edition; see the letter on page 47).

Jameson was Robert Jameson, to whom Hartley Coleridge addressed the sonnets in the London Magazine to which Lamb alludes in Letter 295. He was the husband of Mrs. Jameson, author of Sacred and Legendary Art, but the marriage was not happy. He lived in Chenies Street.

“Future Lord Byrons and sweet L. E. L.’s.” A line from some verses written by Lamb in more than one album. Probably originally intended for Emma Isola’s album. The passage runs, answering the question, “What is an Album?”—
’Tis a Book kept by modern Young Ladies for show,
Of which their plain grandmothers nothing did know.
’Tis a medley of scraps, fine verse, and fine prose,
And some things not very like either, God knows.
The soft First Effusions of Beaux and of Belles,
Of future Lord Byrons and sweet L. E. L.’s.
L. E. L. was, of course, the unhappy Letitia Landon, a famous contributor to the published albums.

“My tragi comedy.” Still “The Wife’s Trial.” Kemble was Charles Kemble, manager of Covent Garden Theatre. The play was never acted.

“Your refusal to lend your poetical sanction.” This is not clear, but I think the meaning to be deducible. The Icon was Pulham’s etching of Lamb. Evans was William Evans, who had grangerised Byron’s English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (see the note on page 532). I take it that he was now making another collection of portraits of poets and was asking other poets, their friends, to write verses upon them. In this way he had applied through Lamb to Barton for verses on Pulham’s Elia, and had been refused. This is, of course, only conjecture.

“Your Drummonds”—your bankers. Barton’s bankers were the Alexanders, a Quaker firm.

James Naylor.” Barton had paraphrased Nayler’s “Testimony” (see page 644).

See Appendix II., page 975, for a letter to R. S. Jameson.]

Mrs. Leishman’s, Chace, Enfield,
September, 1827.

DEAR Patmore—Excuse my anxiety—but how is Dash? (I should have asked if Mrs. Patmore kept her rules, and was improving—but Dash came uppermost. The order of our thoughts should be the order of our writing.) Goes he muzzled, or aperto ore? Are his intellects sound, or does he wander a little in his conversation? You cannot be too careful to watch the first symptoms of incoherence. The first illogical snarl he makes, to St. Luke’s with him! All the dogs here are going mad, if you believe the overseers; but I protest they seem to me very rational and collected. But nothing is so deceitful as mad people to those who are not used to them. Try him with hot water. If he won’t lick it up, it is a sign he does not like it. Does his tail wag horizontally or perpendicularly? That has decided the fate of many dogs in Enfield. Is his general deportment cheerful? I mean when he is pleased—for otherwise there is no judging. You can’t be too careful. Has he bit any of the children yet? If he has, have them shot, and keep him for curiosity, to see if it was the hydrophobia. They say all our army in India had it at one time—but that was in Hyder-Ally’s time. Do you get paunch for him? Take care the sheep was sane. You might pull out his teeth (if he would let you), and then you need not mind if he were as mad as a Bedlamite. It would be rather fun to see his odd ways. It might amuse Mrs. Patmore and the children. They’d have more sense than he! He’d be like a Fool kept in the family, to keep the household in good humour with their own understanding. You might teach him the mad dance set to the mad howl. Madge Owl-et would be nothing to him. “My, how he capers!” [In the margin is written:] One of the children speaks this.

[Three lines here are erased.] What I scratch out is a German quotation from Lessing on the bite of rabid animals; but, I remember, you don’t read German. But Mrs. Patmore may, so I wish I had let it stand. The meaning in English is—“Avoid to approach an animal suspected of madness, as you would avoid fire or a precipice:—“which I think is a sensible observation. The Germans are certainly profounder than we.

If the slightest suspicion arises in your breast, that all is not right with him (Dash), muzzle him, and lead him in a string (common pack-thread will do; he don’t care for twist) to Hood’s, his quon-
dam master, and he’ll take him in at any time. You may mention your suspicion or not, as you like, or as you think it may wound or not Mr. H.’s feelings. Hood, I know, will wink at a few follies in Dash, in consideration of his former sense. Besides, Hood is deaf, and if you hinted anything, ten to one he would not hear you. Besides, you will have discharged your conscience, and laid the child at the right door, as they say.

We are dawdling our time away very idly and pleasantly, at a Mrs. Leishman’s, Chace, Enfield, where, if you come a-hunting, we can give you cold meat and a tankard. Her husband is a tailor; but that, you know, does not make her one. I knew a jailor (which rhymes), but his wife was a fine lady.

Let us hear from you respecting Mrs. Patmore’s regimen. I send my love in a —— to Dash.

C. Lamb.

[On the outside of the letter was written:—]

Seriously, I wish you would call upon Hood when you are that way. He’s a capital fellow. I sent him a couple of poems—one ordered by his wife, and written to order; and ’tis a week since, and I’ve not heard from him. I fear something is the matter.

Omitted within

Our kindest remembrance to Mrs. P.


[This is from Patmore’s My Friends and Acquaintances, 1854; but again I have no confidence in Patmore’s transcription.

Dash had been Hood’s dog, and afterwards was Lamb’s; while at one time (see page 773) Moxon seems to have had the care of it. Patmore possibly was taking Dash while the Lambs were at Mrs. Leishman’s. One of the children who might be amused by the dog’s mad ways was Coventry Patmore, afterwards the poet, then nearly four years old.]

[p.m. September 5, 1827.]

DEAR Dib,—Emma Isola, who is with us, has opened an ALBUM: bring some verses with you for it on Saty evening. Any fun will do. I am teaching her Latin; you may make something of that. Don’t be modest. For in it you shall appear,
if I rummage out some of your old pleasant letters for rhymes. But an original is better.

Has your pa1 any scrap?

C. L.

We shall be MOST glad to see your sister or sisters with you. Can’t you contrive it? Write in that case.

1 the infantile word for father.


[On the blank pages inside the letter Dibdin seems to have jotted down ideas for his contribution to the album. Unfortunately, as I have said, the album is not forthcoming.]

[p.m. September 13, 1827.]

DEAR John—Your verses are very pleasant, and have been adopted into the splendid Emmatic constellation, where they are not of the least magnitude. She is delighted with their merit and readiness. They are just the thing. The 14th line is found. We advertised it. Hell is cooling for want of company. We shall make it up along with our kitchen fire to roast you into our new House, where I hope you will find us in a few Sundays. We have actually taken it, and a compact thing it will be.

Kemble does not return till the month’s end. My heart sometimes is good, sometimes bad, about it, as the day turns out wet or walky.

Emma has just died, choak’d with a Gerund in dum. On opening her we found a Participle in rus in the pericordium. The king never dies, which may be the reason that it always REIGNS here.

We join in loves.

C. L. his orthograph.

what a pen!

the Umberella is cum bak.

[p.m. September 18, 1827.]

MY dear, and now more so, JOHN

How that name smacks! what an honest, full, English, and yet withal holy and apostolic sound it bears, above the methodistical
priggish Bishoppy name of Timothy, under which I had obscured your merits!

What I think of the paternal verses, you shall read within, which I assure you is not pen praise but heart praise. It is the gem of the Dibdin Muses.

I have got all my books into my new house, and their readers in a fortnight will follow, to whose joint converse nobody shall be more welcome than you, and any of yours.

The house is perfection to our use and comfort.

Milton is come. I wish Wordsworth were here to meet him. The next importation is of pots and saucepans, window curtains, crockery and such base ware.

The pleasure of moving, when Becky moves for you. O the moving Becky!

I hope you will come and warm the house with the first.

From my temporary domicile, Enfield.

ELIA, that “is to go.”—

[The paternal verses were probably a contribution by Charles Dibdin the Younger for Emma Isola’s album. The Lambs were just moving to Enfield for good, as they hoped (see next letter). Milton was the portrait.]

Tuesday [September 18, 1827].
DEAR Hood,

If I have any thing in my head, I will send it to Mr. Watts. Strictly speaking he should have had my Album verses, but a very intimate friend importund me for the trifles, and I believe I forgot Mr. Watts, or lost sight at the time of his similar Souvenir. Jamieson conveyed the farce from me to Mrs. C. Kemble, he will not be in town before the 27th. Give our kind loves to all at Highgate, and tell them that we have finally torn ourselves out right away from Colebrooke, where I had no health, and are about to domiciliate for good at Enfield, where I have experienced good.
Lord what good hours do we keep!
How quietly we sleep!
See the rest in the
Complete Angler. We have got our books into our new house. I am a drayhorse if I was not asham’d of the in
digested dirty lumber, as I toppled ’em out of the cart, and blest Becky that came with ’em for her having an unstuff’d brain with such rubbish. We shall get in by Michael’s mass. Twas with some pain we were evuls’d from Colebrook. You may find some of our flesh sticking to the door posts. To change habitations is to die to them, and in my time I have died seven deaths. But I dont know whether every such change does not bring with it a rejuvenescence. Tis an enterprise, and shoves back the sense of death’s approximating, which tho’ not terrible to me, is at all times particularly distasteful. My house-deaths have generally been periodical, recurring after seven years, but this last is premature by half that time. Cut off in the flower of Colebrook. The
Middletonian stream and all its echoes mourn. Even minnows dwindle. A parvis flunt minimi. I fear to invite Mrs. Hood to our new mansion, lest she envy it, & rote [? rout] us. But when we are fairly in, I hope she will come & try it. I heard she & you were made uncomfortable by some unworthy to be cared for attacks, and have tried to set up a feeble counteraction thro’ the Table Book of last Saturday. Has it not reach’d you, that you are silent about it? Our new domicile is no manor house, but new, & externally not inviting, but furnish’d within with every convenience. Capital new locks to every door, capital grates in every room, with nothing to pay for incoming & the rent £10 less than the Islington one. It was built a few years since at £1100 expence, they tell me, & I perfectly believe it. And I get it for £35 exclusive of moderate taxes. We think ourselves most lucky. It is not our intention to abandon Regent Street, & West End perambulations (monastic & terrible thought!), but occasionally to breathe the Fresher Air of the metropolis. We shall put up a bedroom or two (all we want) for occasional ex-rustication, where we shall visit, not be visited. Plays too we’ll see,—perhaps our own. Urbani Sylvani, & Sylvan Urbanuses in turns. Courtiers for a spurt, then philosophers. Old homely tell-truths and learn-truths in the virtuous shades of Enfield, Liars again and mocking gibers in the coffee houses & resorts of London. What can a mortal desire more for his bi-parted nature?

O the curds & cream you shall eat with us here!

O the turtle soup and lobster sallads we shall devour with you there!

O the old books we shall peruse here! O the new nonsense we shall trifle over there! O Sir T. Browne!—here. O Mr. Hood & Mr. Jerdan there, thine,

C (urbanus) L (sylvanus) (ELIA ambo)——

Inclos’d are verses which Emma sat down to write, her first, on the eve after your departure. Of course they are only for Mrs. H.’s perusal. They will shew at least, that one of our party is not willing to cut old friends. What to call ’em I don’t know. Blank verse they are not, because of the rhymes—Rhimes they are not, because of the blank verse. Heroics they are not, because they are lyric, lyric they are not, because of the Heroic measure. They must be call’d Emmaics.


[This is the present form of Lamb’s first house at Enfield (1904). I imagine that it was smaller in Lamb’s time. [figure]

Mr. Watts was Alaric A. Watts, a great maker of albums and anthologies.

“Lord what good hours . . .” From Cotton’s “Retirement” in the Complete Angler. It appeared first in the 5th edition, 1676.

A parvis fiunt minimi.” Their smallness grows to a minimum (minnowmum).

“Thro’ the Table Book.” Lamb contributed to Hone’s Table Book a prose paraphrase of Hood’s Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, just published, which had been dedicated to him, under the title “The Defeat of Time.” In a previous number Moxon had addressed
Hood a eulogistic sonnet on the same subject. The attacks on Hood I have not sought.

“We shall put up a bedroom.” This project was very imperfectly carried out. Indeed Lamb practically lost London from this date, his subsequent visits there being as a rule not fortunate.

“Urbani Sylvani . . .” The dynastic name of the editor of the Gentleman’s Magazine was Sylvanus Urban, signifying, say, the Woodland Townsman.

“Mr. Jerdan”—William Jerdan, editor of the Literary Gazette.

“Emmaics.” These verses are no longer forthcoming.]

[Dated at end: September 25, 1827.]

DEAR Sir—I beg leave in the warmest manner to recommend to your notice Mr. Moxon, the Bearer of this, if by any chance yourself should want a steady hand in your business, or know of any Publisher that may want such a one. He is at present in the house of Messrs. Longman and Co., where he has been established for more than six years, and has the conduct of one of the four departments of the Country line. A difference respecting Salary, which he expected to be a little raised on his last promotion, makes him wish to try to better himself. I believe him to be a young man of the highest integrity, and a thorough man of business; and should not have taken the liberty of recommending him, if I had not thought him capable of being highly useful.

I am,
with great respect,
your hble Servt
Charles Lamb.
Enfield, Chace Side, 25th Sep. 1827.

[Moxon did not go to Colburn, but to Hurst & Co. in St. Paul’s Churchyard.]

[No date. ? Sept. 26, 1827.]

Pray, send me the Table Book.

DEAR M. Our pleasant meeting[s] for some time are suspended. My sister was taken very ill in a few hours after you left us (I had suspected it),—and I must wait eight or nine weeks in slow hope of her recovery. It is her old complaint. You will say as much to the Hoods, and to Mrs. Lovekin, and Mrs. Hazlitt, with my kind love.

We are in the House, that is all. I hope one day we shall both enjoy it, and see our friends again. But till then I must be a solitary nurse.

I am trying Becky’s sister to be with her, so don’t say anything to Miss James.

Yours truly
Ch. Lamb.

Monday. I will send your books soon.


[Miss James was, as we have seen, Mary Lamb’s regular nurse. She had subsequently to be sent for. I do not identify Mrs. Lovekin.]

[Dated at end: October 1 (1827).]

DEAR R.—I am settled for life I hope, at Enfield. I have taken the prettiest compactest house I ever saw, near to Antony Robinson’s, but alas! at the expence of poor Mary, who was taken ill of her old complaint the night before we got into it. So I must suspend the pleasure I expected in the surprise you would have had in coming down and finding us householders.

Farewell, till we can all meet comfortable. Pray, apprise Martin Burney. Him I longed to have seen with you, but our house is too small to meet either of you without her knowledge.

God bless you.
C. Lamb.
Chase Side
1st Octr.

[Antony Robinson, a prominent Unitarian, a friend but no relation of Crabb Robinson’s, had died in the previous January. His widow still lived at Enfield.]

[p.m. October 2, 1827.]

MY dear Dibdin, It gives me great pain to have to say that I cannot have the pleasure of seeing you for some time. We are in our house, but Mary has been seized with one of her periodical disorders—a temporary derangement—which commonly lasts for two months. You shall have the first notice of her convalescence. Can you not send your manuscript by the Coach? directed to Chase Side, next to Mr. Westwood’s Insurance office. I will take great care of it.

Yours most Truly
C. Lamb.
Oct. 4th, 1827.

I AM not in humour to return a fit reply to your pleasant letter. We are fairly housed at Enfield, and an angel shall not persuade me to wicked London again. We have now six sabbath days in a week for—none! The change has worked on my sister’s mind, to make her ill; and I must wait a tedious time before we can hope to enjoy this place in unison. Enjoy it, when she recovers, I know we shall. I see no shadow, but in her illness, for repenting the step! For Mathews—I know my own utter unfitness for such a task. I am no hand at describing costumes, a great requisite in an account of mannered pictures. I have not the slightest acquaintance with pictorial language even. An imitator of me, or rather pretender to be me, in his Rejected Articles, has made me minutely describe the dresses of the poissardes at Calais!—I could as soon resolve Euclid. I have no eye for forms and fashions. I substitute analysis, and get rid of the phenomenon by slurring in for it its impression. I am sure you must have observed this defect, or peculiarity, in my writings; else the delight would
be incalculable in doing such a thing for Mathews, whom I greatly like—and
Mrs. Mathews, whom I almost greatlier like. What a feast ’twould be to be sitting at the pictures painting ’em into words; but I could almost as soon make words into pictures. I speak this deliberately, and not out of modesty. I pretty well know what I can’t do.

My sister’s verses are homely, but just what they should be; I send them, not for the poetry, but the good sense and good-will of them. I was beginning to transcribe; but Emma is sadly jealous of its getting into more hands, and I won’t spoil it in her eyes by divulging it. Come to Enfield, and read it. As my poor cousin, the bookbinder, now with God, told me, most sentimentally, that having purchased a picture of fish at a dead man’s sale, his heart ached to see how the widow grieved to part with it, being her dear husband’s favourite; and he almost apologised for his generosity by saying he could not help telling the widow she was “welcome to come and look at it”—e.g. at his house—“as often as she pleased.” There was the germ of generosity in an uneducated mind. He had just reading enough from the backs of books for the “nec sinit esse feros”—had he read inside, the same impulse would have led him to give back the two-guinea thing—with a request to see it, now and then, at her house. We are parroted into delicacy.—Thus you have a tale for a Sonnet.

Adieu! with (imagine both) our loves.

C. Lamb.

[The suggestion had been made to Lamb, through Barron Field, that he should write a descriptive catalogue of Charles Mathews’ collection of theatrical portraits; Lamb having already touched upon them in his “Old Actors” articles in the London Magazine (see Vol. II. of this edition, page 294). When they were exhibited, after Mathews’ death, at the Pantheon in Oxford Street, Lamb’s remarks were appended to the catalogue raisonné. They are now at the Garrick Club.

“An imitator of me.” P. G. Patmore’s Rejected Articles, 1826, leads off with “An Unsentimental Journey” by Elia, which is, except for a fitful superficial imitation of some of Lamb’s mannerisms, as unlike him as could well be. The description of the butterwomen’s dress, to which Lamb refers, will illustrate the divergence between Elia and his parodist:—

Her attire is fashioned as follows: and it differs from all her tribe only in the relative arrangement of its colours. On the body a crimson jacket, of a thick, solid texture, and tight to the shape; but without any pretence at ornament. This is met at the waist (which is neither long, nor short, but exactly where nature placed it) by a dark blue petticoat, of a still thicker texture, so that it hangs in large plaits
where it is gathered in behind. Over this, in front, is tied tightly round the waist, so as to keep all trim and compact, a dark apron, the string of which passes over the little fulled skirt of the jacket behind, and makes it stick out smartly and tastily, while it clips the waist in. The head-gear consists of a sort of mob cap, nothing of which but the edge round the face can be seen, on account of the kerchief (of flowered cotton) which is passed over it, hood fashion, and half tied under the chin. This head-kerchief is in place of the bonnet—a thing not to be seen among the whole five hundred females who make up this pleasant show. Indeed, varying the colours of the different articles, this description applies to every dress of the whole assembly; except that in some the fineness of the day has dispensed with the kerchief, and left the snow-white cap exposed; and in others, the whole figure (except the head) is coyishly covered and concealed by a large hooded cloak of black cloth, daintily lined with silk, and confined close up to the throat by an embossed silver clasp, but hanging loosely down to the heels, in thick, full folds. The petticoat is very short; the trim ancles are cased in close-fit hose of dark, sober, slate colour; and the shoes, though thick and serviceable like all the rest of the costume, fit the foot as neatly as those which are not made to walk in.

Patmore tells us that his first meeting with the Lambs was immediately after they had first seen his book; and they left the house intent upon reading it.

“My sister’s verses.” I think these would probably be the lines on Emma learning Latin which I have quoted on page 740.

Nec sinit esse feros.”
Ingenuas didicisse fideliter artes
Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.
Ovid, Ep. 2, 9, 47.

“A careful study of the liberal arts refines the manners and prevents their becoming rude.”

Here should come a very pleasant letter from Lamb to Dodwell, of the India House, dated October 7, 1827, not available for this edition (printed by Canon Ainger). Lamb thanks Dodwell, to whom there is an earlier letter extant (see page 490), for a pig. He first describes his new house at Enfield, and then breaks off about the cooking of the pig, bidding Becky do it “nice and crips.” The rest is chaff concerning the India House and Dodwell’s fellow-clerks.]

[No date. ? Oct., 1827.]

DEAR Hone,—having occasion to write to Clarke I put in a bit to you. I see no Extracts in this No. You should have three sets in hand, one long one in particular from Atreus and Thyestes, terribly fine. Don’t spare ’em; with fragments, divided as you please, they’ll hold out to Xmas. What I have to say is enjoined me most seriously to say to you by Moxon. Their country customers grieve at getting the Table Book so late. It is indispensable it should appear on Friday. Do it but once, & you’ll never know the difference.


A boy at my school, a cunning fox, for one penny ensured himself a hot roll & butter every morning for ever. Some favor’d ones were allowed a roll & butter to their breakfasts. He had none. But he bought one one morning. What did he do? He did not eat it, but cutting it in two, sold each one of the halves to a half-breakfasted Blue Boy for his whole roll to-morrow. The next day he had a whole roll to eat, and two halves to swap with other two boys, who had eat their cake & were still not satiated, for whole ones tomorrow. So on ad infinitum. By one morning’s abstinence he feasted seven years after.


Bring out the next No. on Friday, for country correspondents’ sake. I[t] will be one piece of exertion, and you will go right ever after, for you will have just the time you had before, to bring it out ever after by the Friday.

You don’t know the difference in getting a thing early. Your correspondents are your authors. You don’t know how an author frets to know the world has got his contribution, when he finds it not on his breakfast table.

Once in this case is Ever without a grain of trouble afterwds.

I won’t like you or speak to you if you don’t try it once.

Yours, on that condition,
C. Lamb.

[This letter is dated by Mr. Hazlitt conjecturally 1826, but I think it more probably October, 1827, as the extracts (passages from Crowne’sThyestes”) contributed by Lamb to Hone’s Table Book were printed late in 1827 (see Vol. IV. of this edition, page 546).

In Lamb’s next note to Hone he says how glad he was to receive the Table Book early on Friday: the result of the fable.]

[No date. ? 1827.]

DEAR H.,—Emma has a favour, besides a bed, to ask of Mrs. Hood. Your parcel was gratifying. We have all been pleased with Mrs. Leslie; I speak it most sincerely. There is much manly sense with a feminine expression, which is my definition of ladies’ writing.


[Mrs. Leslie and Her Grandchildren, 1827, was the title of a book for children by Mrs. Reynolds, mother of John Hamilton Reynolds and Mrs. Hood, and wife of the Writing Master at Christ’s Hospital.]

[No date. Late 1827.]

MY dear B. B.—You will understand my silence when I tell you that my sister, on the very eve of entering into a new house we have taken at Enfield, was surprised with an attack of one of her sad long illnesses, which deprive me of her society, tho’ not of her domestication, for eight or nine weeks together. I see her, but it does her no good. But for this, we have the snuggest, most comfortable house, with every thing most compact and desirable. Colebrook is a wilderness. The Books, prints, etc., are come here, and the New River came down with us. The familiar Prints, the Bust, the Milton, seem scarce to have changed their rooms. One of her last observations was “how frightfully like this room is to our room in Islington”—our up-stairs room, she meant. How I hope you will come some better day, and judge of it! We have tried quiet here for four months, and I will answer for the comfort of it enduring.

On emptying my bookshelves I found an Ulysses, which I will send to A. K. when I go to town, for her acceptance—unless the Book be out of print. One likes to have one copy of every thing one does. I neglected to keep one of “Poetry for Children,” the joint production of Mary and me, and it is not to be had for love or money. It had in the title-page “by the author of Mrs. Lester’s School.” Know you any one that has it, and would exchange it?

Strolling to Waltham Cross the other day, I hit off these lines. It is one of the Crosses which Edwd 1st caused to be built for his wife at every town where her corpse rested between Northamptonshr and London.
A stately Cross each sad spot doth attest,
Whereat the corpse of Elinor did rest,
From Herdby fetch’d—her Spouse so honour’d her—
To sleep with royal dust at Westminster.
And, if less pompous obsequies were thine,
Duke Brunswick’s daughter, princely Caroline,
Grudge not, great ghost, nor count thy funeral losses:
Thou in thy life-time had’st thy share of crosses.


My dear B. B.—My head akes with this little excursion. Pray accept 2 sides for 3 for once.

And believe me
yours sadly
C. L.
Chace side Enfield.

[“An Ulysses”—Lamb’s book for children, The Adventures of Ulysses, 1808.

The Poetry for Children. The known copies of the first edition of this work can be counted on the fingers (see note on page 863).

“A stately Cross . . .” These verses were printed in the Englishman’s Magazine in September, 1831. Lamb’s sympathies were wholly with Caroline of Brunswick, as his epigrams in The Champion show (see Vol. V. of this edition).]

[p.m. December 4, 1827.]

MY dear B. B.—I have scarce spirits to write, yet am harass’d with not writing. Nine weeks are completed, and Mary does not get any better. It is perfectly exhausting. Enfield and every thing is very gloomy. But for long experience, I should fear her ever getting well.

I feel most thankful for the spinsterly attentions of your sister. Thank the kind “knitter in the sun.”

What nonsense seems verse, when one is seriously out of hope and spirits! I mean that at this time I have some nonsense to write, pain of incivility. Would to the fifth heaven no coxcombess had invented Albums.

I have not had a Bijoux, nor the slightest notice from Pickering about omitting 4 out of 5 of my things. The best thing is never to hear of such a thing as a bookseller again, or to think there are publishers: second hand Stationers and Old Book Stalls for me. Authorship should be an idea of the Past.

Old Kings, old Bishops, are venerable. All present is hollow. I cannot make a Letter. I have no straw, not a pennyworth of chaff, only this may stop your kind importunity to know about us.

Here is a comfortable house, but no tenants. One does not make a household.


Do not think I am quite in despair, but in addition to hope protracted, I have a stupifying cold and obstructing headache, and the sun is dead.

I will not fail to apprise you of the revival of a Beam.

Meantime accept this, rather than think I have forgotten you all.

Best rememb

Yours and theirs truly,
C. L.

[“Knitter in the sun”:—
The spinsters and the knitters in the sun.
Twelfth Night,” II., 4, 45.

“A Bijoux.” See note on page 748.]

[No date. December, 1827.]

DEAR H.,—I am here almost in the eleventh week of the longest illness my sister ever had, and no symptoms of amendment. Some had begun, but relapsed with a change of nurse. If she ever gets well, you will like my house, and I shall be happy to show you Enfield country.

As to my head, it is perfectly at your or any one’s service; either M[e]yers’ or Hazlitt’s, which last (done fifteen or twenty years since) White, of the Accountant’s office, India House, has; he lives in Kentish Town: I forget where, but is to be found in Leadenhall daily. Take your choice. I should be proud to hang up as an alehouse sign even; or, rather, I care not about my head or anything, but how we are to get well again, for I am tired out.

God bless you and yours from the worst calamity.—Yours truly,

C. L.

Kindest remembrances to Mrs. Hunt. H.’s is in a queer dress. M.’s would be preferable ad populum.


[Leigh Hunt had asked Lamb for his portrait to accompany his Lord Byron and Some of His Contemporaries. Lamb had been painted by Hazlitt in 1804, and by Henry Meyer, full size, in May, 1826, as well as by others. Hunt chose Meyer’s picture,
which was beautifully engraved, for his book, in the large paper edition. The original is now in the India Office; a reproduction serves as the frontispiece to Vol. VI. of this edition. The Hazlitt portrait, representing Lamb in the garb of a Venetian senator, is now in the National Portrait Gallery; a reproduction serves as the frontispiece to Vol. IV. of this edition.]

[p.m. Dec. 15, 1827.]

MY dear Hone, I read the sad accident with a careless eye, the newspaper giving a wrong name to the poor Sufferer, but learn’d the truth from Clarke. God send him ease, and you comfort in your thick misfortunes. I am in a sorry state. Tis the eleventh week of the illness, and I cannot get her well. To add to the calamity, Miss James is obliged to leave us in a day or two. We had an Enfield Nurse for seven weeks, and just as she seem’d mending, she was call’d away. Miss J.’s coming seem’d to put her back, and now she is going. I do not compare my sufferings to yours, but you see the world is full of troubles. I wish I could say a word to comfort you. You must cling to all that is left. I fear to ask you whether the Book is to be discontinued. What a pity, when it must have delighted so many! Let me hear about you and it, and believe me with deepest fellow feeling

Your friend
C. Lamb.
Friday eveng.

[Hone’s son Alfred, who had met with an accident, was a sculptor.

The Table Book was to close with the year.]

[No date. ? Middle Dec., 1827.]

MY dear Allsop—Thanks for the Birds. Your announcement puzzles me sadly as nothing came. I send you back a word in your letter, which I can positively make nothing [of] and therefore
return to you as useless. It means to refer to the birds, but gives me no information. They are at the fire, however.

My sister’s illness is the most obstinate she ever had. It will not go away, and I am afraid Miss James will not be able to stay above a day or two longer. I am desperate to think of it sometimes. ’Tis eleven weeks!

The day is sad as my prospects.

With kindest love to Mrs. A. and the children,

C. L.

No Atlas this week. Poor Hone’s good boy Alfred has fractured his skull, another son is returned “dead” from the Navy office, & his Book is going to be given up, not having answered. What a world of troubles this is!


[The Atlas was the paper which Allsop sent to Lamb every week (see letter on page 767).]

[December 20, 1827.]

MY dear Allsop—I have writ to say to you that I hope to have a comfortable Xmas-day with Mary, and I can not bring myself to go from home at present. Your kind offer, and the kind consent of the young Lady to come, we feel as we should do; pray accept all of you our kindest thanks: at present I think a visitor (good & excellent as we remember her to be) might a little put us out of our way. Emma is with us, and our small house just holds us, without obliging Mary to sleep with Becky, &c.

We are going on extremely comfortably, & shall soon be in capacity of seeing our friends. Much weakness is left still. With thanks and old remembrs, Yours,

C. L.
[p.m. Dec. 22, 1827.]

MY dear Moxon, I am at length able to tell you that we are all doing well, and shall be able soon to see our friends as usual. If you will venture a winter walk to Enfield tomorrow week
(Sunday 30th) you will find us much as usual; we intend a delicious quiet Christmas day, dull and friendless, for we have not spirits for festivities. Pray communicate the good news to the
Hoods, and say I hope he is better. I should be thankful for any of the books you mention, but I am so apprehensive of their miscarriage by the stage,—at all events I want none just now. Pray call and see Mrs. Lovekin, I heard she was ill; say we shall be glad to see them some fine day after a week or so.

May I beg you to call upon Miss James, and say that we are quite well, and that Mary hopes she will excuse her writing herself yet; she knows that it is rather troublesome to her to write. We have recd her letter. Farewell, till we meet.

Yours truly,
C. Lamb.
[No date. End of 1827.]

MY dear B.—We are all pretty well again and comfortable, and I take a first opportunity of sending the Adventures of Ulysses, hoping that among us—Homer, Chapman, and Co.—we shall afford you some pleasure. I fear, it is out of print, if not, A. K. will accept it, with wishes it were bigger; if another copy is not to be had, it reverts to me and my heirs for ever. With it I send a trumpery book; to which, without my knowledge, the Editor of the Bijoux has contributed Lucy’s verses: I am asham’d to ask her acceptance of the trash accompanying it. Adieu to Albums—for a great while, I said when I came here, and had not been fixed two days but my Landlord’s daughter (not at the Pot house) requested me to write in her female friend’s, and in her own; if I go to thou art there also, O all pervading Album! All over the Leeward Islands, in Newfoundland, and the Back Settlements, I understand there is no other reading. They haunt me. I die of Albo-phobia!


[“A trumpery book.” I have not found it (see Letter 405).

Writing in the Englishman’s Magazine in 1831, in a review of his own Album Verses, Lamb amplifies his sentiments on albums (see Vol. I., page 340).]