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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1829

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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[No date. ? January, 1829.]

DEAR Dyer, My very good friend, and Charles Clarke’s father in law, Vincent Novello, wishes to shake hands with you. Make him play you a tune. He is a damn’d fine musician, and what is better, a good man and true. He will tell you how glad we should be to have Mrs. Dyer and you here for a few days. Our young friend, Miss Isola, has been here holydaymaking, but leaves us tomorrow.

Yours Ever
Ch. Lamb.

[Added in a feminine hand:] Emma’s love to Mr. and Mrs. Dyer.


[The date of this note is pure conjecture on my part, but is unimportant. Novello had become Charles Clarke’s father-in-law in 1828, and Emma Isola, who was now teaching the children of a clergyman named Williams, at Fornham, in Suffolk, spent her Christmas holidays with the Lambs that year.

Here, perhaps, should come an undated letter from Lamb to Louisa Martin, printed by Mr. Hazlitt in Bohn’s edition, not available for the present volume. Lamb begins “Dear Monkey,” and refers to his “niece,” Mrs. Dowden, and some business which she requires him to transact, Mrs. Dowden being Mrs. John Lamb’s daughter-in-law (see page 569). Lamb describes himself as “a sick cat that loves to be alone on housetops or at cellar bottoms.”]

[19th Jan., 1829.]

MY dear Procter,—I am ashamed to have not taken the drift of your pleasant letter, which I find to have been pure invention. But jokes are not suspected in Bœotian Enfield. We are
plain people; and our talk is of corn, and cattle, and Waltham markets. Besides, I was a little out of sorts when I received it. The fact is, I am involved in a case which has fretted me to death; and I have no reliance, except on you, to extricate me. I am sure you will give me your best legal advice, having no professional friend besides but
Robinson and Talfourd, with neither of whom at present I am on the best terms. My brother’s widow left a will, made during the lifetime of my brother, in which I am named sole executor, by which she bequeaths forty acres of arable property, which it seems she held under Covert Baron, unknown to my brother, to the heirs of the body of Elizabeth Dowden, her married daughter by a first husband, in fee-simple, recoverable by fine—invested property, mind; for there is the difficulty—subject to leet and quitrent; in short, worded in the most guarded terms, to shut out the property from Isaac Dowden, the husband. Intelligence has just come of the death of this person in India, where he made a will, entailing this property (which seem’d entangled enough already) to the heirs of his body, that should not be born of his wife; for it seems by the law in India, natural children can recover. They have put the cause into Exchequer process, here removed by Certiorari from the native Courts; and the question is, whether I should, as executor, try the cause here, or again re-remove it to the Supreme Sessions at Bangalore? (which I understand I can, or plead a hearing before the Privy Council here). As it involves all the little property of Elizabeth Dowden, I am anxious to take the fittest steps, and what may be least expensive. Pray assist me, for the case is so embarrassed, that it deprives me of sleep and appetite. M. Burney thinks there is a case like it in Chapt. 170, sect. 5, in Fearne’s Contingent Remainders. Pray read it over with him dispassionately, and let me have the result. The complexity lies in the questionable power of the husband to alienate. . . .

I had another favour to beg, which is the beggarliest of beggings.

A few lines of verse for a young friend’s Album (six will be enough). M. Burney will tell you who she is I want ’em for. A girl of gold. Six lines—make ’em eight—signed Barry C‚——. They need not be very good, as I chiefly want ’em as a foil to mine. But I shall be seriously obliged by any refuse scrap. We are in the last ages of the world, when St. Paul prophesied that women should be “headstrong, lovers of their own wills, having Albums.” I fled hither to escape the Albumean persecution, and had not been in my new house twenty-four hours, when the daughter of the next house came in with a friend’s Album to beg a contribution, and the following day intimated she had one of her own. Two more have sprung up since. If I take the wings of the morning and fly unto the uttermost parts of the earth, there will Albums be. New
Holland has Albums. But the age is to be complied with. M. B. will tell you the sort of girl I request the ten lines for. Somewhat of a pensive cast, what you admire. The lines may come before the Law question, as that can not be determined before Hilary Term, and I wish your deliberate judgment on that. The other may be flimsy and superficial. And if you have not burnt your returned letter, pray re-send it me, as a monumental token of my stupidity. ’Twas a little unthinking of you to touch upon a sore subject. Why, by dabbling in those accursed Albums, I have become a byword of infamy all over the kingdom. I have sicken’d decent women for asking me to write in Albums. There be “dark jests” abroad, Master Cornwall; and some riddles may live to be clear’d up. And ’tis not every saddle is put on the right steed; and forgeries and false Gospels are not peculiar to the Age following the Apostles. And some tubs don’t stand on their right bottoms. Which is all I wish to say in these ticklish Times—and so your Servant,

Chs. Lamb.

[We do not know the nature of the “bite” that Procter had put upon Lamb; but Lamb quickly retaliated with the first paragraph of this letter, which is mainly invention. In his Old Acquaintance Mr. Fields wrote: “He [Procter] told me that the law question raised in this epistle was a sheer fabrication of Lamb’s, gotten up by him to puzzle his young correspondent, the conveyancer. The coolness referred to between himself and Robinson and Talfourd, Procter said, was also a fiction invented by Lamb to carry out his legal mystification.”

At the end of the first paragraph came some words in another hand: “in usum enfeoffments whereof he was only collaterally seized, &c.,” beneath which Lamb wrote: “The above is some of M. Burney’s memoranda which he has left me, and you may cut out and give him.”

Procter’s verses for Emma Isola’s album I have not seen, but Canon Ainger says that they refer to “Isola Bella, whom all poets love,” the island in Lago di Maggiore (see Letter 453). See also Appendix II., page 977.

“When St. Paul prophesied.” Was Lamb thinking of the opening verses of chapter iii. of the second epistle to Timothy?

“If I take the wings of the morning.” See Psalms cxxxix. 9. Compare with this passage that in Letter 425, on page 766.]

Jan. 22nd, 1829.

DON’T trouble yourself about the verses. Take ’em coolly as they come. Any day between this and Midsummer will do. Ten lines the extreme. There is no mystery in my incognita. She has often seen you, though you may not have observed a silent brown girl, who for the last twelve years has run wild about our house in her Christmas holidays. She is Italian by name and extraction. Ten lines about the blue sky of her country will do, as it’s her foible to be proud of it. But they must not be over courtly or Lady-fied as she is with a Lady who says to her “go and she goeth; come and she cometh”. Item, I have made her a tolerable Latinist. The verses should be moral too, as for a Clergyman’s family. She is called Emma Isola. I approve heartily of your turning your four vols, into a lesser compass. ’Twill Sybillise the gold left. I shall, I think, be in town in a few weeks, when I will assuredly see you. I will put in here loves to Mrs. Procter and the Anti-Capulets, because Mary tells me I omitted them in my last. I like to see my friends here. I have put my lawsuit into the hands of an Enfield practitioner—a plain man, who seems perfectly to understand it, and gives me hopes of a favourable result.

Rumour tells us that Miss Holcroft is married; though the varlet has not had the grace to make any communication to us on the subject. Who is Badman, or Bed’em? Have I seen him at Montacute’s? I hear he is a great chymist. I am sometimes chymical myself. A thought strikes me with horror. Pray heaven he may not have done it for the sake of trying chymical experiments upon her,—young female subjects are so scarce! Louisa would make a capital shot. An’t you glad about Burke’s case? We may set off the Scotch murders against the Scotch novelsHare, the Great Un-hanged.

Martin Burney is richly worth your knowing. He is on the top scale of my friendship ladder, on which an angel or two is still climbing, and some, alas! descending. I am out of the literary world at present. Pray, is there anything new from the admired pen of the author of the Pleasures of Hope? Has Mrs. He-mans (double masculine) done anything pretty lately? Why sleeps the lyre of Hervey, and of Alaric Watts? Is the muse of L. E. L. silent? Did you see a sonnet of mine in Blackwood’s last? Curious con-
struction! Elaborata facilitas! And now I’ll tell. ’Twas written for the “
Gem;” but the editors declined it, on the plea that it would shock all mothers; so they published “The Widow” instead. I am born out of time. I have no conjecture about what the present world calls delicacy. I thought “Rosamund Gray” was a pretty modest thing. Hessey assures me that the world would not bear it. I have lived to grow into an indecent character. When my sonnet was rejected, I exclaimed, “Damn the age; I will write for Antiquity!”

Erratum in sonnet:—Last line but something, for tender, read tend. The Scotch do not know our law terms; but I find some remains of honest, plain, old writing lurking there still. They were not so mealy-mouthed as to refuse my verses. Maybe, ’tis their oatmeal.

Blackwood sent me £20 for the drama. Somebody cheated me out of it next day; and my new pair of breeches, just sent home, cracking at first putting on, I exclaimed, in my wrath, “All tailors are cheats, and all men are tailors.” Then I was better. [Rest lost.]


[“Your four vols.” Procter’s poetical works, in three volumes, were published in 1822. Since then he had issued The Flood of Thessaly, 1823. He was perhaps meditating a new one-volume selection.

“Anti-Capulets”—the Basil Montagus (Montacutes).

“Badman.” Louisa Holcroft married Carlyle’s friend Badams, a manufacturer and scientific experimentalist of Birmingham, with whom the philosopher spent some weeks in 1827 in attempting a cure for dyspepsia (see the Early Recollections).

“Burke’s case.” William Burke and William Hare, the bodysnatchers and murderers of Edinburgh, who killed persons to sell their corpses to Knox’s school of anatomy. Burke was hanged a week later than this letter, on January 28. Hare turned King’s evidence and disappeared. A “shot” was a subject in these men’s vocabulary. The author of the Waverley novels—the Great Unknown—had, of course, become known long before this.

“M. B.”—Martin Burney. In 1818 Lamb had dedicated the prose volume of his Works to Burney, in a sonnet ending with the lines:—
Free from self-seeking, envy, low design,
I have not found a whiter soul than thine.

Hervey was Thomas Kibble Hervey (1799-1859), a great album poet.


“A sonnet of mine in Blackwood”—in the number for January, 1829 (see page 799).

“Hessey”—of the firm of Taylor & Hessey, the late publishers of the London Magazine.

Another letter from Lamb to Procter, repeating the request for verses, was referred to by Canon Ainger in the preface to his edition of the correspondence. Canon Ainger printed a delightful passage, which I am not at liberty to quote. It was disappointing not to find it among the letters proper in his new edition.]

Jan. 28, 1829.

DEAR Allsop—Old Star is setting. Take him and cut him into Little Stars. Nevertheless the extinction of the greater light is not by the lesser light (Stella, or Mrs. Star) apprehended so nigh, but that she will be thankful if you can let young Scintillation (Master Star) twinkle down by the coach on Sunday, to catch the last glimmer of the decaying parental light. No news is good news; so we conclude Mrs. A. and little a are doing well. Our kindest loves,

C. L.

[I cannot explain the mystery of these Stars.]

[? Jan. 29th, 1829.]

WHEN Miss Ouldcroft (who is now Mrs. Beddome, and Bed—dom’d to her!) was at Enfield, which she was in summertime, and owed her health to its sun and genial influences, she wisited (with young lady-like impertinence) a poor man’s cottage that had a pretty baby (O the yearnling!), and gave it fine caps and sweetmeats. On a day, broke into the parlour our two maids uproarious. “O ma’am, who do you think Miss Ouldcroft (they pronounce it Holcroft) has been working a cap for?” “A child,” answered Mary, in true Shandean female simplicity. “It’s the man’s child as was taken up for sheep-stealing.” Miss Ouldcroft was staggered, and would have cut the connection; but by main force I made her go
and take her leave of her protégeée (which I only spell with a g because I can’t make a pretty j). I thought, if she went no more, the Abactor or Abactor’s wife (vide
Ainsworth) would suppose she had heard something; and I have delicacy for a sheep-stealer. The overseers actually overhauled a mutton-pie at the baker’s (his first, last, and only hope of mutton-pie), which he never came to eat, and thence inferred his guilt. Per occasionem cujus I framed the sonnet; observe its elaborate construction. I was four days about it.
Suck, baby, suck, Mother’s love grows by giving,
Drain the sweet founts that only thrive by wasting;
Black Manhood comes, when riotous guilty living
Hands thee the cup that shall be death in tasting.
Kiss, baby, kiss, Mother’s lips shine by kisses,
Choke the warm breath that else would fall in blessings;
Black Manhood comes, when turbulent guilty blisses
Tend thee the kiss that poisons ’mid caressings.
Hang, baby, hang, mother’s love loves such forces,
Choke the fond neck that bends still to thy clinging;
Black Manhood comes, when violent lawless courses
Leave thee a spectacle in rude air swinging.
So sang a wither’d Sibyl energetical,
And bann’d the ungiving door with lips prophetical.

Barry, study that sonnet. It is curiously and perversely elaborate. ’Tis a choking subject, and therefore the reader is directed to the structure of it. See you? and was this a fourteener to be rejected by a trumpery annual? forsooth, ’twould shock all mothers; and may all mothers, who would so be shocked, bed dom’d! as if mothers were such sort of logicians as to infer the future hanging of their child from the theoretical hangibility (or capacity of being hanged, if the judge pleases) of every infant born with a neck on. Oh B. C., my whole heart is faint, and my whole head is sick (how is it?) at this damned, canting, unmasculine unbxwdy (I had almost said) age! Don’t show this to your child’s mother or I shall be Orpheusized, scattered into Hebras. Damn the King, lords, commons, and specially (as I said on Muswell Hill on a Sunday when I could get no beer a quarter before one) all Bishops, Priests and Curates. Vale.


[“Ainsworth.” Referring to Robert Ainsworth’s Thesaurus, 1736. Abactor I do not find; but abactus is there—to drive away by force.

The Gypsy’s Malison.” This is the sonnet in Blackwood for January, 1829.]

[No date. Early 1829.]

THE comings in of an incipient conveyancer are not adequate to the receipt of three twopenny post non-paids in a week. Therefore, after this, I condemn my stub to long and deep silence, or shall awaken it to write to lords. Lest those raptures in this honeymoon of my correspondence, which you avow for the gentle person of my Nuncio, after passing through certain natural grades, as Love, Love and Water, Love with the chill off, then subsiding to that point which the heroic suitor of his wedded dame, the noble-spirited Lord Randolph in the play, declares to be the ambition of his passion, a reciprocation of “complacent kindness,”—should suddenly plump down (scarce staying to bait at the mid point of indifference, so hungry it is for distaste) to a loathing and blank aversion, to the rendering probable such counter expressions as this,—“Damn that infernal twopenny postman” (words which make the not yet glutted inamorato “lift up his hands and wonder who can use them.”) While, then, you are not ruined, let me assure thee, O thou above the painter, and next only under Giraldus Cambrensis, the most immortal and worthy to be immortal Barry, thy most ingenious and golden cadences do take my fancy mightily. They are at this identical moment under the snip and the paste of the fairest hands (bating chilblains) in Cambridge, soon to be transplanted to Suffolk, to the envy of half of the young ladies in Bury. But tell me, and tell me truly, gentle Swain, is that Isola Bella a true spot in geographical denomination, or a floating Delos in thy brain? Lurks that fair island in verity in the bosom of Lake Maggiore, or some other with less poetic name, which thou hast Cornwallized for the occasion? And what if Maggiore itself be but a coinage of adaptation? Of this pray resolve me immediately, for my albumess will be catechised on this subject; and how can I prompt her? Lake Leman, I know, and Lemon Lake (in a punch bowl) I have swum in, though those lymphs be long since dry. But Maggiore may be in the moon. Unsphinx this riddle for me, for my shelves have no gazetteer. And mayest thou never murder thy father-in-law in the Trivia of Lincoln’s Inn New Square Passage, where Searl Street and the Street of Portugal embrace, nor afterwards make absurd proposals to the Widow M. But I know you abhor any such notions. Nevertheless so did O-Edipus (as Admiral Burney used to call him, splitting the diphthong in spite or ignorance) for that matter.

C. L.

[“Lord Randolph”—in Home’sDouglas.” See Act I., Scene 1. His lordship remarks:—
I never asked of thee that ardent love
Which in the breasts of fancy’s children burns.
Decent affection and complacent kindness
Were all I wished for; but I wished in vain.

“Lift up his hands . . .” I do not find this.

“Above the painter”—James Barry, R.A.

“Giraldus Cambrensis”—the historian, Giraldus de Barri.

Procter’s poem for Emma Isola’s album, as we have seen, mentions Isola Bella, the island in Lago de Maggiore. Delos was the floating island which Neptune fixed in order that Latona might rest there and Apollo and Diana be born.

Œdipus, who solved the riddle of the Sphinx, was the murderer of his father. Basil Montagu was Procter’s father-in-law. Procter’s address was 10 Lincolns Inn, New Square.

At the end of the letter came a passage which for family reasons cannot be printed.]

February 2, 1829.

FACUNDISSIME Poeta! quanquam istiusmodi epitheta oratoribus potiùs quam poetis attinere facilè scio—tamen, facundissime!

Commoratur nobiscum jamdiu, in agro Enfeldiense, scilicet, leguleius futurus, illustrissimus Martinus Burneius, otium agens, negotia nominalia, et officinam clientum vacuam, paululum fugiens. Orat, implorat te—nempe, Martinus—ut si (quòd Dii faciant) forte fortuna, absente ipso, advenerit tardus cliens, eum certiorem feceris per literas hûc missas. Intelligisne? an me Anglicè et barbarice ad te hominem perdoctum scribere oportet?

Si status de franco tenemento datur avo, et in eodem facto si mediate vel immediate datur hœredibus vel hœredibus corporis dicti avi, postrema hæc verba sunt Limitationis, non Perquisitionis.



[Mr. Stephen Gwynn has made the following translation for me:—

“Most eloquent Poet: though I know well such epithet befits orators rather than poets—and yet, Most eloquent!

“There has been staying with us this while past at our country seat of Enfield to wit, the future attorney, the illustrious Martin Burney, taking his leisure, flying for a space from his nominal occupations, and his office empty of clients. He—that is, Martin—begs and entreats of you that if (heaven send it so!) by some stroke of fortune, in his absence there should arrive a belated client, you would inform him by letter here. Do you understand? or must I write in barbarous English to a scholar like you?

“If an estate in freehold is given to an ancestor, and if in the same deed directly or indirectly the gift is made to the heir or heirs of the body of the said ancestor, these last words have the force of Limitation not of Purchase.

“I have spoken.Charles Lamb.”

The last passage was copied probably direct from some law book of Burney’s, and is unintelligible except to students of law-Latin.]

Edmonton, Feb. 2, 1829.

DEAR Cowden,—Your books are as the gushing of streams in a desert. By the way, you have sent no autobiographies. Your letter seems to imply you had. Nor do I want any. Cowden, they are of the books which I give away. What damn’d Unitarian skewer-soul’d things the general biographies turn out. Rank and Talent you shall have when Mrs. May has done with ’em. Mary likes Mrs. Bedinfield much. For me I read nothing but Astrea—it has turn’d my brain—I go about with a switch turn’d up at the end for a crook; and Lambs being too old, the butcher tells me, my cat follows me in a green ribband. Becky and her cousin are getting pastoral dresses, and then we shall all four go about Arcadizing. O cruel Shepherdess! Inconstant yet fair, and more inconstant for being fair! Her gold ringlets fell in a disorder superior to order!

Come and join us.

I am called the Black Shepherd—you shall be Cowden with the Tuft.


Prosaically, we shall be glad to have you both,—or any two of you—drop in by surprise some Saturday night.

This must go off.
Loves to Vittoria.
C. L.

[“Rank and Talent”—a novel by W. P. Scargill, 1829.

Astrea.” Probably the romance by Honore D’Urfe.

Cowden with the Tuft.” So called from his hair, and from Riquet with the Tuft, the fairy tale. We read in the Cowden Clarkes’ Recollections of Writers: “The latter name (‘Cowden with the Tuft’) slyly implies the smooth baldness with scant curly hair distinguishing the head of the friend addressed, and which seemed to strike Charles Lamb so forcibly, that one evening, after gazing at it for some time, he suddenly broke forth with the exclamation, ‘Gad, Clarke! what whiskers you have behind your head!’”]

[p.m. February 27, 1829.]

DEAR R.—Expectation was alert on the receit of your strange-shaped present, while yet undisclosed from its fuse envelope. Some said, ’tis a viol da Gamba, others pronounced it a fiddle. I myself hoped it a Liquer case pregnant with Eau de Vie and such odd Nectar. When midwifed into daylight, the gossips were at loss to pronounce upon its species. Most took it for a marrow spoon, an apple scoop, a banker’s guinea shovel. At length its true scope appeared, its drift—to save the backbone of my sister stooping to scuttles. A philanthropic intent, borrowed no doubt from some of the Colliers. You save people’s backs one way, and break ’em again by loads of obligation. The spectacles are delicate and Vulcanian. No lighter texture than their steel did the cuckoldy blacksmith frame to catch Mrs. Vulcan and the Captain in. For ungalled forehead, as for back unbursten, you have Mary’s thanks. Many, for my own peculium of obligation, ’twas supererogatory. A second part of Pamela was enough in conscience. Two Pamelas in a house is too much without two Mr. B.’s to reward ’em.

Mary, who is handselling her new aerial perspectives upon a pair of old worsted stockings trod out in Cheshunt lanes, sends love.
I, great good liking. Bid us a personal farewell before you see the Vatican.

Chas. Lamb, Enfield.

[Crabb Robinson, just starting for Rome, had sent Lamb a copy of Pamela under the impression that he had borrowed one.

“Two Mr. B.’s.” In Richardson’s novel Pamela marries the young Squire B. and reforms him.]

Chase, Enfield: 22nd Mar., 1829.

MY dear Sir,—I have but lately learned, by letter from Mr. Moxon, the death of your brother. For the little I had seen of him, I greatly respected him. I do not even know how recent your loss may have been, and hope that I do not unseasonably present you with a few lines suggested to me this morning by the thought of him. I beg to be most kindly remembered to your remaining brother, and to Miss Rogers.

Yours truly,
Charles Lamb.
Rogers, of all the men that I have known
But slightly, who have died, your brother’s loss
Touched me most sensibly. There came across
My mind an image of the cordial tone
Of your fraternal meetings, where a guest
I more than once have sate; and grieve to think,
That of that threefold cord one precious link
By Death’s rude hand is sever’d from the rest.
Of our old gentry he appear’d a stem;
A magistrate who, while the evil-doer
He kept in terror, could respect the poor,
And not for every trifle harass them—
As some, divine and laic, too oft do.
This man’s a private loss and public too.

[Daniel Rogers, the banker’s elder brother, had just died (see Letter 465).]

[p.m. March 25, 1829.]

DEAR B. B.—I send you by desire Darley’s very poetical poem. You will like, I think, the novel headings of each scene. Scenical directions in verse are novelties. With it I send a few duplicates, which are therefore no value to me, and may amuse an idle hour. Read “Christmas,” ’tis the production of a young author, who reads all your writings. A good word from you about his little book would be as balm to him. It has no pretensions, and makes none. But parts are pretty. In “Field’s Appendix” turn to a Poem called the Kangaroo. It is in the best way of our old poets, if I mistake not. I have just come from Town, where I have been to get my bit of quarterly pension. And have brought home, from stalls in Barbican, the old Pilgrim’s Progress with the prints—Vanity Fair, &c.—now scarce. Four shillings. Cheap. And also one of whom I have oft heard and had dreams, but never saw in the flesh—that is, in sheepskin—The whole theologic works of—

Thomas Aquinas!
My arms aked with lugging it a mile to the stage, but the burden was a pleasure, such as old Anchises was to the shoulders of Æneas—or the Lady to the Lover in old romance, who having to carry her to the top of a high mountain—the price of obtaining her—clamber’d with her to the top, and fell dead with fatigue.
O the glorious old Schoolmen!
There must be something in him. Such great names imply greatness. Who hath seen Michael Angelo’s things—of us that never pilgrimaged to Rome—and yet which of us disbelieves his greatness. How I will revel in his cobwebs and subtleties, till my brain spins!

N.B. I have writ in the old Hamlet, offer it to Mitford in my name, if he have not seen it. Tis woefully below our editions of it. But keep it, if you like. (What is M. to me?)

I do not mean this to go for a letter, only to apprize you, that the parcel is booked for you this 25 March 1829 from the Four Swans Bishopsgate.

With both our loves to Lucy and A. K. Yours Ever

C. L.

[“Darley’s . . . poem”—Sylvia; or, The May Queen, by George Darley.


Christmas”—a poem by Edward Moxon, dedicated to Lamb.

“Field’s Appendix”—Geographical Memoirs on New South Wales, edited by Barron Field, with his First-Fruits of Australian Poetry (see page 543) as Appendix.

“Anchises . . . Æneas.” See the Æneid, II., 707-722.

“The old romance.” I do not know the story.]

[No date. ? April, 1829.]

WE have just got your letter. I think Mother Reynolds will go on quietly, Mrs. Scrimpshaw having kittened. The name of the late Laureat was Henry James Pye, and when his 1st Birthday Ode came out, which was very poor, somebody being asked his opinion of it, said:—
And when the Pye was open’d
The birds began to sing,
And was not this a dainty dish
To set before the King!
Pye was brother to old
Major Pye, and father to Mrs. Arnold, and uncle to a General Pye, all friends of Miss Kelly. Pye succeeded Thos. Warton, Warton succeeded Wm. Whitehead, Whitehead succeeded Colley Cibber, Cibber succeeded Eusden, Eusden succeeded Thos. Shadwell, Shadwell succeeded Dryden, Dryden succeeded Davenant, Davenant God knows whom. There never was a Rogers a Poet Laureat; there is an old living Poet of that name, a Banker as you know, Author of the “Pleasures of Memory,” where Moxon goes to breakfast in a fine house in the green Park, but he was never Laureat. Southey is the present one, and for anything I know or care, Moxon may succeed him. We have a copy of “Xmas” for you, so you may give your own to Mary as soon as you please. We think you need not have exhibited your mountain shyness before M. B. He is neither shy himself, nor patronizes it in others.—So with many thanks, good-bye. Emma comes on Thursday.

C. L.

The Poet Laureat, whom Davenant succeeded was Rare ‘Ben Jonson,’ who I believe was the first regular Laureat with the appointment of £100 a year and a Butt of Sack or Canary—so add that to my little list.—C. L.


[Mr. Macdonald dates this letter December 31, 1828, perhaps rightly. I have dated it at a venture April, 1829, because Moxon’s Christmas was published in March of that year. It is the only letter to Mary Lamb’s nurse, Miss James, that exists. Mrs. Reynolds was Lamb’s aged pensioner, whom we have met. Pye died in 1813 and was succeeded by Southey. The author of the witticism on his first ode was George Steevens, the critic. The comment gained point from the circumstance that Pye had drawn largely on images from bird life in his verses.]

[p.m. April? 1829.]

DEAR Robinson, we are afraid you will slip from us from England without again seeing us. It would be charity to come and see me. I have these three days been laid up with strong rheumatic pains, in loins, back, shoulders. I shriek sometimes from the violence of them. I get scarce any sleep, and the consequence is, I am restless, and want to change sides as I lie, and I cannot turn without resting on my hands, and so turning all my body all at once like a log with a lever. While this rainy weather lasts, I have no hope of alleviation. I have tried flannels and embrocation in vain. Just at the hip joint the pangs sometimes are so excruciating, that I cry out. It is as violent as the cramp, and far more continuous. I am ashamed to whine about these complaints to you, who can ill enter into them. But indeed they are sharp. You go about, in rain or fine at all hours without discommodity. I envy you your immunity at a time of life not much removed from my own. But you owe your exemption to temperance, which it is too late for me to pursue. I in my life time have had my good things. Hence my frame is brittle—yours strong as brass. I never knew any ailment you had. You can go out at night in all weathers, sit up all hours. Well, I don’t want to moralise. I only wish to say that if you are enclined to a game at Doubly Dumby, I would try and bolster up myself in a chair for a rubber or so. My days are tedious, but less so and less painful than my nights. May you never know the pain and difficulty I have in writing so much. Mary, who is most kind, joins in the wish.

C. Lamb.
[p.m. April 17, 1829.]

I DO confess to mischief. It was the subtlest diabolical piece of malice, heart of man has contrived. I have no more rheumatism than that poker. Never was freer from all pains and aches. Every joint sound, to the tip of the ear from the extremity of the lesser toe. The report of thy torments was blown circuitously here from Bury. I could not resist the jeer. I conceived you writhing, when you should just receive my congratulations. How mad you’d be. Well, it is not in my method to inflict pangs. I leave that to heaven. But in the existing pangs of a friend, I have a share. His disquietude crowns my exemption. I imagine you howling, and pace across the room, shooting out my free arms legs &c. [figure] this way and that way, with an assurance of not kindling a spark of pain from them. I deny that Nature meant us to sympathise with agonies. Those face-contortions, retortions, distortions, have the merriness of antics. Nature meant them for farce—not so pleasant to the actor indeed, but Grimaldi cries when we laugh, and ’tis but one that suffers to make thousands rejoyce.

You say that Shampooing is ineffectual. But per se it is good, to show the introv[ol]utions, extravolutions, of which the animal frame is capable. To show what the creature is receptible of, short of dissolution.

You are worst of nights, a’nt you?

Twill be as good as a Sermon to you to lie abed all this night, and meditate the subject of the day. ’Tis Good Friday. How appropriate!

Think when but your little finger pains you, what endured to white-wash you and the rest of us.

Nobody will be the more justified for your endurance. You won’t save the soul of a mouse. ’Tis a pure selfish pleasure.

You never was rack’d, was you? I should like an authentic map of those feelings.

You seem to have the flying gout.

You can scarcely scrue a smile out of your face—can you? I sit at immunity, and sneer ad libitum.


’Tis now the time for you to make good resolutions. I may go on breaking ’em, for any thing the worse I find myself.

Your Doctor seems to keep you on the long cure. Precipitate healings are never good.

Don’t come while you are so bad. I shan’t be able to attend to your throes and the dumbee at once.

I should like to know how slowly the pain goes off. But don’t write, unless the motion will be likely to make your sensibility more exquisite.

Your affectionate and truly healthy friend

C. Lamb.

Mary thought a Letter from me might amuse you in your torment—


[Robinson was the victim of a sudden attack of acute rheumatism. He had a course of Turkish baths at Brighton to cure him.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to George Dyer, dated April 29, 1829, in which Lamb thanks him for a sonnet apparently upon Agostino Isola, Emma’s grandfather, and asks for some lines to Emma herself. See Appendix II., page 977.]

[No date. ? May, 1829.]

DEAR Hood,—We will look out for you on Wednesday, be sure, tho’ we have not eyes like Emma, who, when I made her sit with her back to the window to keep her to her Latin, literally saw round backwards every one that past, and, O, [that] she were here to jump up and shriek out “There are the Hoods!” We have had two pretty letters from her, which I long to show you—together with Enfield in her May beauty. Loves to Jane.

[Here follow rough caricatures of Charles and his sister, and] “I can’t draw no better.”


[I have dated this letter May, 1829, because Miss Isola had just gone to Fornham, in Suffolk, whence presumably the two letters had come.

I append another letter to Hood without a date:—]


CALAMY is good reading. Mary is always thankful for Books in her way. I won’t trouble you for any in my way yet, having enough to read. Young Hazlitt lives, at least his father does, at 3 or 36 [36 I have it down, with the 6 scratch’d out] Bouverie Street, Fleet Street. If not to be found, his mother’s address is, Mrs. Hazlitt, Mrs. Tomlinson’s, Potters Bar. At one or other he must be heard of. We shall expect you with the full moon. Meantime, our thanks.

C. L.

We go on very quietly &c.


[“Calamy” would be Edmund Calamy (1671-1732), the historian of Nonconformity.

Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in his Memoir of Hazlitt says that his grandfather moved in 1829 to 3 Bouverie Street, and in the beginning of 1830 to 6 Frith Street, Soho. Young Hazlitt was William junior, afterwards Mr. Registrar Hazlitt and then seventeen years of age.]

May 28, 1829.

DEAR W.,—Introduce this, or omit it, as you like. I think I wrote better about it in a letter to you from India H. If you have that, perhaps out of the two I could patch up a better thing, if you’d return both. But I am very poorly, and have been harassed with an illness of my sister’s.

The Ode was printed in the “New Times” nearly the end of 1825, and I have only omitted some silly lines. Call it a corrected copy.

Yours ever,
C. Lamb.

Put my name to either or both, as you like.


[This letter contains Lamb’s remarks on the Secondary Novels of Defoe, printed in Wilson’s Life and Times of De Foe, Chapter XVII. of Vol. III., and also his “Ode to the Treadmill,” which Wilson omitted from that work. See Vols. I. and V. of the present edition for both pieces.]

[p.m. June 3, 1829.]

DEAR B. B.—I am very much grieved indeed for the indisposition of poor Lucy. Your letter found me in domestic troubles. My sister is again taken ill, and I am obliged to remove her out of the house for many weeks, I fear, before I can hope to have her again. I have been very desolate indeed. My loneliness is a little abated by our young friend Emma having just come here for her holydays, and a schoolfellow of hers that was, with her. Still the house is not the same, tho’ she is the same. Mary had been pleasing herself with the prospect of seeing her at this time; and with all their company, the house feels at times a frightful solitude. May you and I in no very long time have a more cheerful theme to write about, and congratulate upon a daughter’s and a Sister’s perfect recovery. Do not be long without telling me how Lucy goes on. I have a right to call her by her quaker-name, you know.

Emma knows that I am writing to you, and begs to be remembered to you with thankfulness for your ready contribution. Her album is filling apace. But of her contributors one, almost the flower of it, a most amiable young man and late acquaintance of mine, has been carried off by consumption, on return from one of the Azores islands, to which he went with hopes of mastering the disease, came back improved, went back to a most close and confined counting house, and relapsed. His name was Dibdin, Grandson of the Songster. You will be glad to hear that Emma, tho’ unknown to you, has given the highest satisfaction in her little place of Governante in a Clergyman’s family, which you may believe by the Parson and his Lady drinking poor Mary’s health on her birthday, tho’ they never saw her, merely because she was a friend of Emma’s, and the Vicar also sent me a brace of partridges. To get out of home themes, have you seen Southey’s Dialogues? His lake descriptions, and the account of his Library at Keswick, are very fine. But he needed not have called up the Ghost of More to hold the conversations with, which might as well have pass’d between A and B, or Caius and Lucius. It is making too free with a defunct Chancellor and Martyr.

I feel as if I had nothing farther to write about—O! I forget the prettiest letter I ever read, that I have received from “Pleasures of MemoryRogers, in acknowledgment of a Sonnet I sent him on the Loss of his Brother. It is too long to transcribe, but I hope to shew it you some day, as I hope sometime again to see you, when all of us are well. Only it ends thus “We were nearly of an
age (he was the elder). He was the only person in the world in whose eyes I always appeared young.”—

I will now take my leave with assuring you that I am most interested in hoping to hear favorable accounts from you.—

With kindest regards to A. K. and you

Yours truly,

C. L.

[“Lucy”—Lucy Barton.

“Your ready contribution.” I do not find that Barton ever printed his lines for Emma Isola’s album.

“Dibdin”—John Bates Dibdin died in May, 1828.

Southey’s Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society, had just been published.

“Rogers.” This was Rogers’ letter:—

Many, many thanks. The verses are beautiful. I need not say with what feelings they were read. Pray accept the grateful acknowledgments of us all, and believe me when I say that nothing could have been a greater cordial to us in our affliction than such a testimony from such a quarter. He was—for none knew him so well—we were born within a year or two of each other—a man of a very high mind, and with less disguise than perhaps any that ever lived. Whatever he was, that we saw. He stood before his fellow beings (if I may be forgiven for saying so) almost as before his Maker: and God grant that we may all bear as severe an examination. He was an admirable scholar. His Dante and his Homer were as familiar to him as his Alphabets: and he had the tenderest heart. When a flock of turkies was stolen from his farm, the indignation of the poor far and wide was great and loud. To me he is the greatest loss, for we were nearly of an age; and there is now no human being alive in whose eyes I have always been young.

Under the date June 10, 1829, Mr. Macdonald prints a note from Lamb to Ayrton, which states that he has two young friends in the house. Here, therefore, I think, should come a letter from Lamb to William Hazlitt, Junior, printed by Mr. Hazlitt, but not available for this edition, in which Lamb says that he cannot see Mrs. Hazlitt this time. He adds that the ladies are very pleasant. Emma Isola adds a letter which tells us that the ladies are herself and her friend Maria. This would be the Maria of Lamb’s sonnet “Harmony in Unlikeness,” evidently written at this time (see Vol. V., page 54, where I make the mistake of assuming Lamb to mean his sister).]

[See Note.]

AT midsummer or soon after (I will let you know the previous day), I will take a day with you in the purlieus of my old haunts. No offence has been taken, any more than meant. My
house is full at present, but empty of its chief pride. She is dead to me for many months. But when I see you, then I will say, Come and see me. With undiminished friendship to you both,

Your faithful but queer

C. L.

How you frighted me! Never write again, “Coleridge is dead,” at the end of a line, and tamely come in with “to his friends” at the beginning of another. Love is quicker, and fear from love, than the transition ocular from Line to Line.


[This Letter is dated 1829 in Harper’s Magazine. The postmark, I have recently discovered, is July 2, 1832.]

Enfield Chase Side Saturday 25 July a.d. 1829.—11 a.m.

THERE—a fuller plumper juiceier date never dropt from Idumean palm. Am I in the dateive case now? if not, a fig for dates, which is more than a date is worth. I never stood much affected to these limitary specialities. Least of all since the date of my superannuation.
What have I with Time to do?
Slaves of desks, twas meant for you.
Dear B. B.—Your hand writing has conveyed much pleasure to me in report of
Lucy’s restoration. Would I could send you as good news of my poor Lucy. But some wearisome weeks I must remain lonely yet. I have had the loneliest time near 10 weeks, broken by a short apparition of Emma for her holydays, whose departure only deepend the returning solitude, and by 10 days I have past in Town. But Town, with all my native hankering after it, is not what it was. The streets, the shops are left, but all old friends are gone. And in London I was frightfully convinced of this as I past houses and places—empty caskets now. I have ceased to care almost about any body. The bodies I cared for are in graves, or dispersed. My old Clubs, that lived so long and flourish’d so steadily, are crumbled away. When I took leave of our adopted young friend at Charing Cross, ’twas heavy unfeeling rain, and I had no where to go. Home have I none—and not a sympathising house to turn to in the great city. Never did the waters of the heaven pour down on a forlorner head. Yet I tried 10 days at a sort of a friend’s house, but it was large and straggling—one of the individuals of my old long knot of friends, card players, pleasant companions—that have tumbled to pieces into dust and other things—and I got home on Thursday, convinced that I was better to get home to my
hole at Enfield, and hide like a sick cat in my corner. Less than a month I hope will bring home
Mary. She is at Fulham, looking better in her health than ever, but sadly rambling, and scarce showing any pleasure in seeing me, or curiosity when I should come again. But the old feelings will come back again, and we shall drown old sorrows over a game at Picquet again. But ’tis a tedious cut out of a life of sixty four, to lose twelve or thirteen weeks every year or two. And to make me more alone, our ill-temperd maid is gone, who with all her airs, was yet a home piece of furniture, a record of better days; the young thing that has succeeded her is good and attentive, but she is nothing—and I have no one here to talk over old matters with. Scolding and quarreling have something of familiarity and a community of interest—they imply acquaintance—they are of resentment, which is of the family of dearness. I can neither scold nor quarrel at this insignificant implement of household services; she is less than a cat, and just better than a deal Dresser. What I can do, and do overdo, is to walk, but deadly long are the days—these summer all-day days, with but a half hour’s candlelight and no firelight. I do not write, tell your kind inquisitive Eliza, and can hardly read. In the ensuing Blackwood will be an old rejected farce of mine, which may be new to you, if you see that same dull Medley. What things are all the Magazines now! I contrive studiously not to see them. The popular New Monthly is perfect trash. Poor Hessey, I suppose you see, has failed. Hunt and Clarke too. Your “Vulgar truths” will be a good name—and I think your prose must please—me at least—but ’tis useless to write poetry with no purchasers. ’Tis cold work Authorship without something to puff one into fashion. Could you not write something on Quakerism—for Quakers to read—but nominally addrest to Non Quakers? explaining your dogmas—waiting on the Spirit—by the analogy of human calmness and patient waiting on the judgment? I scarcely know what I mean, but to make Non Quakers reconciled to your doctrines, by shewing something like them in mere human operations—but I hardly understand myself, so let it pass for nothing. I pity you for over-work, but I assure you no-work is worse. The mind preys on itself, the most unwholesome food. I brag’d formerly that I could not have too much time. I have a surfeit. With few years to come, the days are wearisome. But weariness is not eternal. Something will shine out to take the load off, that flags me, which is at present intolerable. I have killed an hour or two in this poor scrawl. I am a sanguinary murderer of time, and would kill him inchmeal just now. But the snake is vital. Well, I shall write merrier anon.—“Tis the present copy of my countenance I send—and to complain is a little to alleviate.— May you enjoy yourself as far as the wicked wood will let you
—and think that you are not quite alone, as I am. Health to
Lucia and to Anna and kind remembces.

Yours forlorn.

C. L.

[“What have I with Time to do? . . .” I have not found this.

“Out of a life of sixty-four.” Mary Lamb was born December 3, 1764.

“Your kind . . . Eliza”—Eliza Barton, Bernard’s sister. “Rejected farce.” “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter” was printed in Blackwood, January, 1830.

“I brag’d formerly.” Referring I think to his sonnet “Leisure.”]

[No date. Late July, 1829.]

MY dear Allsop—I thank you for thinking of my recreation. But I am best here, I feel I am. I have tried town lately, but came back worse. Here I must wait till my loneliness has its natural cure. Besides that, though I am not very sanguine, yet I live in hopes of better news from Fulham, and can not be out of the way. ’Tis ten weeks to-morrow.—I saw Mary a week since, she was in excellent bodily health, but otherwise far from well. But a week or so may give a turn. Love to Mrs. A. and children, and fair weather accompy you.

C. L.
[p.m. Sept. 22, 1829.]

DEAR Moxon, If you can oblige me with the Garrick Papers or Ann of Gierstien, I shall be thankful. I am almost fearful whether my Sister will be able to enjoy any reading at present for since her coming home, after 12 weeks, she has had an unusual relapse into the saddest low spirits that ever poor creature had, and has been some weeks under medical care. She is unable to see any yet. When she is better I shall be very glad to talk
over your ramble with you. Have you done any sonnets, can you send me any to overlook? I am almost in despair,
Mary’s case seems so hopeless.

Believe me
C. L.

I do not want Mr. Jameson or Lady Morgan.


[“The Garrick Papers.” Lamb refers, I suppose, to the Private Correspondence of David Garrick, in some form previous to its publication in 1832.

Anne of Geierstein.” Scott’s novel was published this year.

“Mr. Jameson.” I cannot find any book by a Mr. Jameson likely to have been offered to Lamb; but Mrs. Jameson’s Loves of the Poets was published this year. Probably he meant to write Mrs. Jameson. Lady Morgan was the author of The Wild Irish Girl and other novels. Her 1829 book was The Book of the Boudoir.]

Chase-Side, Enfield, 26th Oct., 1829.

DEAR Gillman,—Allsop brought me your kind message yesterday. How can I account for having not visited Highgate this long time? Change of place seemed to have changed me. How grieved I was to hear in what indifferent health Coleridge has been, and I not to know of it! A little school divinity, well applied, may be healing. I send him honest Tom of Aquin; that was always an obscure great idea to me: I never thought or dreamed to see him in the flesh, but t’other day I rescued him from a stall in Barbican, and brought him off in triumph. He comes to greet Coleridge’s acceptance, for his shoe-latchets I am unworthy to unloose. Yet there are pretty pro’s and con’s, and such unsatisfactory learning in him. Commend me to the question of etiquette—“utrum annunciatio debuerit fieri per angelum”—Quæst. 30, Articulus 2. I protest, till now I had thought Gabriel a fellow of some mark and livelihood, not a simple esquire, as I find him. Well, do not break your lay brains, nor I neither, with these curious nothings. They are nuts to our dear friend, whom hoping to see at your first friendly hint that it will be convenient, I end with begging our very kindest loves
Mrs. Gillman. We have had a sorry house of it here. Our spirits have been reduced till we were at hope’s end what to do—obliged to quit this house, and afraid to engage another, till in extremity I took the desperate resolve of kicking house and all down, like Bunyan’s pack; and here we are in a new life at board and lodging, with an honest couple our neighbours. We have ridded ourselves of the cares of dirty acres; and the change, though of less than a week, has had the most beneficial effects on Mary already. She looks two years and a half younger for it. But we have had sore trials.

God send us one happy meeting!—Yours faithfully,

C. Lamb.

[“The question of etiquette.” See the Summa Theologicæ, Pars Tertia, Quest. XXX., Articulus II. It would be interesting to know whether Lamb remembered an earlier letter (see page 117) in which he had set Coleridge some similar “nuts.”

“In a new life.” The Lambs moved next door, to the Westwoods. The house, altered externally, still stands (1904) and is known as “Westwood Cottage.” I give a drawing of the front as it now is.] [figure]

[p.m. Probably Nov. 10, 1829.]
Dear Fugue-ist,
or hear’st thou rather

WE expect you four (as many as the Table will hold without squeeging) at Mrs. Westwood’s Table D’Hote on Thursday. You will find the White House shut up, and us moved under the wing of the Phœnix, which gives us friendly refuge. Beds for guests, marry, we have none, but cleanly accomodings at the Crown & Horseshoe.

Yours harmonically,

C. L.
[Addressed: Vincentio (what Ho!) Novello, a Squire,
66, Great Queen Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields.]

[“The Phœnix.” Mr. Westwood was agent for the Phœnix Insurance Company, and the badge of that office was probably on the house.]

Enfield, 15th November, 1829.

MY dear Wilson,—I have not opened a packet of unknown contents for many years, that gave me so much pleasure as when I disclosed your three volumes. I have given them a careful perusal, and they have taken their degree of classical books upon my shelves. De Foe was always my darling; but what darkness was I in as to far the larger part of his writings! I have now an epitome of them all. I think the way in which you have done the “Life “the most judicious you could have pitched upon. You have made him tell his own story, and your comments are in keeping with the tale. Why, I never heard of such a work as “the Review.” Strange that in my stall-hunting days I never so much as lit upon an odd volume of it. This circumstance looks as if they were never of any great circulation. But I may have met with ’em,
and not knowing the prize, overpast ’em. I was almost a stranger to the whole history of Dissenters in those reigns, and picked my way through that strange book the “
Consolidator” at random. How affecting are some of his personal appeals! what a machine of projects he set on foot! and following writers have picked his pocket of the patents. I do not understand whereabouts in Roxana he himself left off. I always thought the complete-tourist-sort of description of the town she passes through on her last embarkation miserably unseasonable and out of place. I knew not they were spurious. Enlighten me as to where the apocryphal matter commences. I, by accident, can correct one A. D. “Family Instructor,” vol. ii. 1718; you say his first volume had then reached the fourth edition; now I have a fifth, printed for Eman. Matthews, 1717. So have I plucked one rotten date, or rather picked it up where it had inadvertently fallen, from your flourishing date tree, the Palm of Engaddi. I may take it for my pains. I think yours a book which every public library must have, and every English scholar should have. I am sure it has enriched my meagre stock of the author’s works. I seem to be twice as opulent. Mary is by my side just finishing the second volume. It must have interest to divert her away so long from her modern novels. Colburn will be quite jealous. I was a little disappointed at my “Ode to the Treadmill” not finding a place; but it came out of time. The two papers of mine will puzzle the reader, being so akin. Odd that, never keeping a scrap of my own letters, with some fifteen years’ interval I should nearly have said the same things. But I shall always feel happy in having my name go down any how with De Foe’s, and that of his historiographer. I promise myself, if not immortality, yet diuternity of being read in consequence. We have both had much illness this year; and feeling infirmities and fretfulness grow upon us, we have cast off the cares of housekeeping, sold off our goods, and commenced boarding and lodging with a very comfortable old couple next door to where you found us. We use a sort of common table. Nevertheless, we have reserved a private one for an old friend; and when Mrs. Wilson and you revisit Babylon, we shall pray you to make it yours for a season. Our very kindest remembrances to you both.

From your old friend and fellow-journalist, now in two instances,

C. Lamb.

Hazlitt is going to make your book a basis for a review of De Foe’s Novels in the “Edinbro’.” I wish I had health and spirits to do it. Hone I have not seen, but I doubt not he will be much pleased with your performance. I very much hope you will give us an account of Dunton, &c. But what I should more like to
see would be a Life and Times of
Bunyan. Wishing health to you and long life to your healthy book, again I subscribe me,

Yours in verity,
C. L.

[Wilson’s Memoirs of the Life and Times of Daniel De Foe had just been published in three volumes, with the date 1830.

Defoe’s Review was started in February, 1704, under the title, A Review of the Affairs of France . . . . purged from the Errors and Partiality of News-writers, and Petty-Statesmen, of all sides. It continued until May, 1713. The Consolidator; or, Memoirs of sundry Transactions from the world in the moon. Translated from the Lunar Language, was published in 1705, a political satire, which, it has been thought, gave hints to Swift for Gulliver.

“Palm of Engaddi.” Engedi, according to Josephus, was celebrated for its palm trees.

Lamb had sent Wilson his “Ode to the Treadmill” (see page 810). The substance of his letter of December 16, 1822, was printed by Wilson in Chapter XXII. of Vol. III.; the new material which he wrote especially for the book (see page 810) was printed in Chapter XVII. of the same volume. The space dividing them was not fifteen years but seven.

“Diuternity.” Spelt “diuturnity.” A rare word signifying long duration.

“Fellow-journalist.” The other instance would be in connection with the journals of the India House, where Wilson had once been a clerk with Lamb.

Hazlitt’s review of Wilson’s book is in the Edinburgh for January, 1830, with this reference to Lamb’s criticisms: “Captain Singleton is a hardened, brutal desperado, without one redeeming trait, or almost human feeling; and, in spite of what Mr. Lamb says of his lonely musings and agonies of a conscience-stricken repentance, we find nothing of this in the text.”

“Dunton.” This would be John Dunton (1659-1733), the bookseller, and author of The Athenian Gazette, Dunton’s Whipping-Post, and scores of pamphlets and satires.]

(? Fragment)
[No date. ? November 29, 1829.]

PRAY trust me with the “Church History,” as well as the “Worthies.” A moon shall restore both. Also give me back Him of Aquinum. In return you have the light of my countenance. Adieu.

P.S.—A sister also of mine comes with it. A son of Nimshi drives her. Their driving will have been furious, impassioned. Pray God they have not toppled over the tunnel! I promise you I fear their steed, bred out of the wind without father, semi-Melchisedecish, hot, phætontic. From my country lodgings at Enfield.

C. L.

[The Church History and the Worthies are by Fuller.

“Light of my countenance.” Mr. Hazlitt says that this was a copy of Brook Pulham’s etching.

“A son of Nimshi”—Jehu.

“The tunnel”—the new Highgate Archway.

“Semi-Melchisedecish.” See Hebrews vii. 3, “Without father, without mother, without descent.”]

30 Nov., 1829.

DEAR G.,—The excursionists reached home, and the good town of Enfield a little after four, without slip or dislocation. Little has transpired concerning the events of the back-journey, save that on passing the house of ’Squire Mellish, situate a stone-bow’s cast from the hamlet, Father Westwood, with a good-natured wonderment, exclaimed, “I cannot think what is gone of Mr. Mellish’s rooks. I fancy they have taken flight somewhere; but I have missed them two or three years past.” All this while, according to his fellow-traveller’s report, the rookery was darkening the air above with undiminished population, and deafening all ears
but his with their cawings. But nature has been gently withdrawing such phenomena from the notice of Thomas Westwood’s senses, from the time he began to miss the rooks. T. Westwood has passed a retired life in this hamlet of thirty or forty years, living upon the minimum which is consistent with gentility, yet a star among the minor gentry, receiving the bows of the tradespeople and courtesies of the alms’ women daily. Children venerate him not less for his external show of gentry, than they wonder at him for a gentle rising endorsation of the person, not amounting to a hump, or if a hump, innocuous as the hump of the buffalo, and coronative of as mild qualities. ’Tis a throne on which patience seems to sit—the proud perch of a self-respecting humility, stooping with condescension. Thereupon the cares of life have sate, and rid him easily. For he has thrid the angustiæ domûs with dexterity. Life opened upon him with comparative brilliancy. He set out as a rider or traveller for a wholesale house, in which capacity he tells of many hair-breadth escapes that befell him; one especially, how he rode a mad horse into the town of Devizes; how horse and rider arrived in a foam, to the utter consternation of the expostulating hostlers, inn-keepers, &c. It seems it was sultry weather, piping hot; the steed tormented into frenzy with gad-flies, long past being roadworthy; but safety and the interest of the house he rode for were incompatible things; a fall in serge cloth was expected; and a mad entrance they made of it. Whether the exploit was purely voluntary, or partially; or whether a certain personal defiguration in the man part of this extraordinary centaur (non-assistive to partition of natures) might not enforce the conjunction, I stand not to inquire. I look not with ’skew eyes into the deeds of heroes. The hosier that was burnt with his shop, in Field-lane, on Tuesday night, shall have past to heaven for me like a Marian Martyr, provided always, that he consecrated the fortuitous incremation with a short ejaculation in the exit, as much as if he had taken his state degrees of martyrdom in formâ in the market vicinage. There is adoptive as well as acquisitive sacrifice. Be the animus what it might, the fact is indisputable, that this composition was seen flying all abroad, and mine host of Daintry may yet remember its passing through his town, if his scores are not more faithful than his memory. After this exploit (enough for one man), Thomas Westwood seems to have subsided into a less hazardous occupation; and in the twenty-fifth year of his age we find him a haberdasher in Bow Lane: yet still retentive of his early riding (though leaving it to rawer stomachs), and Christmasly at night sithence to this last, and shall to his latest Christmas, hath he, doth he, and shall he, tell after supper the story of the insane steed and the desperate rider. Save for Bedlam or Luke’s no eye could have guessed that
melting day what house he rid for. But he reposes on his bridles, and after the ups and downs (metaphoric only) of a life behind the counter—hard riding sometimes, I fear, for poor T. W.—with the scrapings together of the shop, and one anecdote, he hath finally settled at Enfield; by hard economising, gardening, building for himself, hath reared a mansion, married a daughter, qualified a
son for a counting-house, gotten the respect of high and low, served for self or substitute the greater parish offices: hath a special voice at vestries; and, domiciliating us, hath reflected a portion of his house-keeping respectability upon your humble servants. We are greater, being his lodgers, than when we were substantial renters. His name is a passport to take off the sneers of the native Enfielders against obnoxious foreigners. We are endenizened. Thus much of T. Westwood have I thought fit to acquaint you, that you may see the exemplary reliance upon Providence with which I entrusted so dear a charge as my own sister to the guidance of a man that rode the mad horse into Devizes. To come from his heroic character, all the amiable qualities of domestic life concentre in this tamed Bellerophon. He is excellent over a glass of grog; just as pleasant without it; laughs when he hears a joke, and when (which is much oftener) he hears it not; sings glorious old sea songs on festival nights; and but upon a slight acquaintance of two years, Coleridge, is as dear a deaf old man to us, as old Norris, rest his soul! was after fifty. To him and his scanty literature (what there is of it, sound) have we flown from the metropolis and its cursed annualists, reviewers, authors, and the whole muddy ink press of that stagnant pool.

Now, Gillman again, you do not know the treasure of the Fullers. I calculate on having massy reading till Christmas. All I want here, is books of the true sort, not those things in boards that moderns mistake for books—what they club for at book clubs.

I did not mean to cheat you with a blank side; but my eye smarts, for which I am taking medicine, and abstain, this day at least, from any aliments but milk-porridge, the innocent taste of which I am anxious to renew after a half-century’s disacquaintance. If a blot fall here like a tear, it is not pathos, but an angry eye.

Farewell, while my specilla are sound.

Yours and yours,

C. Lamb.

[This letter records the safe return of Mary Lamb with the Fullers.

“Squire Mellish.” William Mellish, M.P. for Middlesex for some years.

Angustiæ domûs.” Narrow ways of poverty.


Thomas Westwood’s son, for whom Lamb found an appointment, wrote some excellent articles in Notes and Queries many years later describing the Lambs’ life at his father’s.

“Old Norris.” See Letter 386.

I give here a drawing of the Lambs’ sitting-room, from the garden of Westwood Cottage, as it now is (1904):—] [figure]

[p.m. December 8, 1829.]

MY dear B. B.—You are very good to have been uneasy about us, and I have the satisfaction to tell you, that we are both in better health and spirits than we have been for a year or two past; I may say, than we have been since we have been at Enfield. The cause may not appear quite adequate, when I tell you, that a course of ill health and spirits brought us to the determination of giving up our house here, and we are boarding and lodging with a worthy old couple, long inhabitants of Enfield, where everything is done for us without our trouble, further than a reasonable weekly
payment. We should have done so before, but it is not easy to flesh and blood to give up an ancient establishment, to discard old Penates, and from house keepers to turn house-sharers. (N.B. We are not in the Workhouse.)
Dioclesian in his garden found more repose than on the imperial seat of Rome, and the nob of Charles the Fifth aked seldomer under a monk’s cowl than under the diadem. With such shadows of assimilation we countenance our degradation. With such a load of dignifyd cares just removed from our shoulders, we can the more understand and pity the accession to yours, by the advancement to an Assigneeship. I will tell you honestly B. B. that it has been long my deliberate judgment, that all Bankrupts, of what denomination civil or religious whatever, ought to be hang’d. The pity of mankind has for ages ran in a wrong channel, and has been diverted from poor Creditors (how many I have known sufferers! Hazlitt has just been defrauded of £100 by his Bookseller-friend’s breaking) to scoundrel Debtors. I know all the topics, that distress may come upon an honest man without his fault, that the failure of one that he trusted was his calamity &c. &c. Then let both be hang’d. O how careful it would make traders! These are my deliberate thoughts after many years’ experience in matters of trade. What a world of trouble it would save you, if Friend * * * * * had been immediately hangd, without benefit of clergy, which (being a Quaker I presume) he could not reasonably insist upon. Why, after slaving twelve months in your assign-business, you will be enabled to declare seven pence in the Pound in all human probability. B. B., he should be hanged. Trade will never re-flourish in this land till such a Law is establish’d. I write big not to save ink but eyes, mine having been troubled with reading thro’ three folios of old Fuller in almost as few days, and I went to bed last night in agony, and am writing with a vial of eye water before me, alternately dipping in vial and inkstand. This may enflame my zeal against Bankrupts—but it was my speculation when I could see better. Half the world’s misery (Eden else) is owing to want of money, and all that want is owing to Bankrupts. I declare I would, if the State wanted Practitioners, turn Hangman myself, and should have great pleasure in hanging the first after my salutary law should be establish’d. I have seen no annuals and wish to see none. I like your fun upon them, and was quite pleased with Bowles’s sonnet. Hood is or was at Brighton, but a note, prose or rhime, to him, Robert Street, Adelphi, I am sure would extract a copy of his, which also I have not seen. Wishing you and yours all Health, I conclude while these frail glasses are to me—eyes.

C. L.

[“Dioclesian.” The Emperor Diocletian abdicated the throne after twenty-one years’ reign, and retired to his garden. Charles V. of Germany imitated the Roman Emperor, and after thirty-six years took the cowl.

Hazlitt has just been defrauded.” The failure of Hunt & Clarke, the publishers of the Life of Napoleon, cost Hazlitt £500. He had received only £14 0 towards this, in a bill which on their insolvency became worthless.

“Friend * * * * *.” Not identifiable.

Bowles’s sonnet” I have not found.]