LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Letters: 1831

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
‣ Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[p.m. February 3, 1831.]

DEAR Moxon, The snows are ancle deep slush and mire, that ’tis hard to get to the post office, and cruel to send the maid out. ’Tis a slough of despair, or I should sooner have thankd you for your offer of the Life, which we shall very much like to have, and will return duly. I do not know when I shall be in town, but in a week or two at farthest, when I will come as far as you if I can. We are moped to death with confinement within doors. I send you a curiosity of G. Dyer’s tender-conscience. Between 30 and 40 years since, G. published the Poet’s Fate, in which were two very harmless lines about Mr. Rogers, but Mr. R. not quite approving of them, they were left out in a subsequent edition 1801. But G. has been worryting about them ever since; if I have heard him once, I have heard him a hundred times express a remorse proportiond to a consciousness of having been guilty of an atrocious libel. As the devil would have it, a fool they call Barker, in his Parriana has quoted the identical two lines as they stood in some obscure edition anterior to 1801, and the withers of poor G. are again wrung. His letter is a gem—with his poor blind eyes it has been laboured out at six sittings. The history of the couplet is in page 3 of this irregular production, in which every variety of shape and size that Letters can be twisted into, is to be found. Do shew his part of it to Mr. R. some day. If he has bowels, they must melt at the contrition so queerly character’d of a contrite sinner. G. was born I verily think without original sin, but chuses to have a conscience, as every Christian Gentleman should have. His dear old face is insusceptible of the twist they call a sneer, yet he is apprehensive of being suspected of that ugly appearance. When he makes a compliment, he thinks he has given an affront. A name is personality. But shew (no hurry) this unique recantation to Mr. R. ’Tis like a dirty pocket handkerchief muck’d with tears of some indigent Magdalen. There is the impress of sincerity in every pot-hook and hanger. And then the gilt frame to such a pauper picture! It should go into the Museum. I am heartily sorry my Devil does not answer. We must try it a little longer, and after all I think I must insist on taking a portion of the loss upon myself. It is too much you should lose by two adventures. You do not say how your general business goes on, and I should very much like to talk over it with you here. Come when the weather will possibly let you. I want to see the Wordsworths, but I do not much like
to be all night away. It is dull enough to be here together, but it is duller to leave
Mary; in short it is painful, and in a flying visit I should hardly catch them. I have no beds for them, if they came down, and but a sort of a house to receive them in, yet I shall regret their departure unseen. I feel cramped and straiten’d every way. Where are they?

We have heard from Emma but once, and that a month ago, and are very anxious for another letter.

You say we have forgot your powers of being serviceable to us. That we never shall. I do not know what I should do without you when I want a little commission. Now then. There are left at Miss Buffam’s, the Tales of the Castle, and certain vols. Retrospective Review. The first should be conveyd to Novello’s, and the Reviews should be taken to Talfourd’s office, ground floor, East side, Elm Court, Middle Temple, to whom I should have written, but my spirits are wretched. It is quite an effort to write this. So, with the Life, I have cut you out 3 Pieces of service. What can I do for you here, but hope to see you very soon, and think of you with most kindness. I fear tomorrow, between rains and snows, it would be impossible to expect you, but do not let a practicable Sunday pass. We are always at home!

Mary joins in remembrances to your sister, whom we hope to see in any fine-ish weather, when she’ll venture.

Remember us to Allsop, and all the dead people—to whom, and to London, we seem dead.


[“The Life.” The Life which every one was then reading was Moore’s Life of Byron.

“George Dyer’s.” The explanation is that years before, in his Poems, 1801, Dyer had written in a piece called “The Poet’s Fate”—
And Rogers, if he shares the town’s regard,
Was first a banker ere he rose a bard.
In the second edition Dyer altered this to—
And Darwin, if he share the town’s regard,
Was first a doctor ere he rose a bard.
Lamb notes the alteration in his copy of the second edition, now in the British Museum. In 1828-1829 appeared
Parriana, by Edmund Henry Barker, which quoted the couplet in its original form, to Dyer’s distress.

Tales of the Castle. By the Countess de Genlis. Translated by Thomas Holcroft.]

Feb. 22nd, 1831.

DEAR Dyer,—Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Rogers’s friends, are perfectly assured, that you never intended any harm by an innocent couplet, and that in the revivification of it by blundering Barker you had no hand whatever. To imagine that, at this time of day, Rogers broods over a fantastic expression of more than thirty years’ standing, would be to suppose him indulging his “Pleasures of Memory” with a vengeance. You never penned a line which for its own sake you need (dying) wish to blot. You mistake your heart if you think you can write a lampoon. Your whips are rods of roses. Your spleen has ever had for its objects vices, not the vicious—abstract offences, not the concrete sinner. But you are sensitive, and wince as much at the consciousness of having committed a compliment, as another man would at the perpetration of an affront. But do not lug me into the same soreness of conscience with yourself. I maintain, and will to the last hour, that I never writ of you but con amore. That if any allusion was made to your near-sightedness, it was not for the purpose of mocking an infirmity, but of connecting it with scholar-like habits: for is it not erudite and scholarly to be somewhat near of sight, before age naturally brings on the malady? You could not then plead the obrepens senectus. Did I not moreover make it an apology for a certain absence, which some of your friends may have experienced, when you have not on a sudden made recognition of them in a casual street-meeting, and did I not strengthen your excuse for this slowness of recognition, by further accounting morally for the present engagement of your mind in worthy objects? Did I not, in your person, make the handsomest apology for absent-of-mind people that was ever made? If these things be not so, I never knew what I wrote or meant by my writing, and have been penning libels all my life without being aware of it. Does it follow that I should have exprest myself exactly in the same way of those dear old eyes of yours now—now that Father Time has conspired with a hard task-master to put a last extinguisher upon them? I should as soon have insulted the Answerer of Salmasius, when he awoke up from his ended task, and saw no more with mortal vision. But you are many films removed yet from Milton’s calamity. You write perfectly intelligibly. Marry, the letters are not all of the same size or tallness; but that only shows your proficiency in the hands—text, german-hand, court-hand, sometimes law-hand, and affords
variety. You pen better than you did a twelvemonth ago; and if you continue to improve, you bid fair to win the golden pen which is the prize at your young gentlemen’s academy. But you must beware of
Valpy, and his printing-house, that hazy cave of Trophonius, out of which it was a mercy that you escaped with a glimmer. Beware of MSS. and Variæ Lectiones. Settle the text for once in your mind, and stick to it. You have some years’ good sight in you yet, if you do not tamper with it. It is not for you (for us I should say) to go poring into Greek contractions, and star-gazing upon slim Hebrew points. We have yet the sight
Of sun, and moon, and star, throughout the year,
And man and woman.
You have vision enough to discern
Mrs. Dyer from the other comely gentlewoman who lives up at staircase No. 5; or, if you should make a blunder in the twilight, Mrs. Dyer has too much good sense to be jealous for a mere effect of imperfect optics. But don’t try to write the Lord’s Prayer, Creed, and Ten Commandments, in the compass of a halfpenny; nor run after a midge or a mote to catch it; and leave off hunting for needles in bushels of hay, for all these things strain the eyes. The snow is six feet deep in some parts here. I must put on jack-boots to get at the post-office with this. It is not good for weak eyes to pore upon snow too much. It lies in drifts. I wonder what its drift is; only that it makes good pancakes, remind Mrs. Dyer. It turns a pretty green world into a white one. It glares too much for an innocent colour, methinks. I wonder why you think I dislike gilt edges. They set off a letter marvellously. Yours, for instance, looks for all the world like a tablet of curious hieroglyphics in a gold frame. But don’t go and lay this to your eyes. You always wrote hieroglyphically, yet not to come up to the mystical notations and conjuring characters of Dr. Parr. You never wrote what I call a schoolmaster’s hand, like Clarke; nor a woman’s hand, like Southey; nor a missal hand, like Porson; nor an all-of-the-wrong-side-sloping hand, like Miss Hayes; nor a dogmatic, Mede-and-Persian, peremptory hand, like Rickman; but you ever wrote what I call a Grecian’s hand; what the Grecians write (or used) at Christ’s Hospital; such as Whalley would have admired, and Boyer have applauded, but Smith or Atwood (writing-masters) would have horsed you for. Your boy-of-genius hand and your mercantile hand are various. By your flourishes, I should think you never learned to make eagles or corkscrews, or flourish the governors’ names in the writing-school; and by the tenor and cut of your letters I suspect you were never in it at all. By the length of this scrawl you will think I have a design upon your optics; but I
have writ as large as I could out of respect to them—too large, indeed, for beauty. Mine is a sort of deputy Grecian’s hand; a little better, and more of a worldly hand, than a Grecian’s, but still remote from the mercantile. I don’t know how it is, but I keep my rank in fancy still since school-days. I can never forget I was a deputy Grecian! And writing to you, or to
Coleridge, besides affection, I feel a reverential deference as to Grecians still. I keep my soaring way above the Great Erasmians, yet far beneath the other. Alas! what am I now? what is a Leadenhall clerk or India pensioner to a deputy Grecian? How art thou fallen, O Lucifer! Just room for our loves to Mrs. D., &c.

C. Lamb.

[“I never writ of you but con amore.” Lamb refers particularly to the Elia essay “Oxford in the Vacation” in the London Magazine, where G. D.’s absence of mind and simplicity of character were dwelt upon more intimately than Dyer liked (see Vol. II. of this edition, pages 10 and 312).

Dyer was gradually going blind through long years of study, and overwork upon James Valpy’s edition of the Classics.

Obrepens senectus.” Creeping on of old age.

“The Answerer of Salmasius”—Milton.

“Of sun, and moon, and star . . .” From Milton’s second sonnet to Cyriack Skinner.

“Comely” Mrs. Dyer. But in the letter to Mrs. Shelley on page 739 Mrs. D. had been “plain”!

Dyer had been a Grecian before Lamb was born. Clarke would be Charles Cowden Clarke, with whose father Dyer had been an usher. For Miss Hayes see note on page 156. The Rev. Peter Whalley was Upper Grammar Master in Dyer’s day; Boyer, Lamb and Coleridge’s master, succeeded him in 1776. Smith was Writing Master at the end of the seventeenth century.

Lamb had never become a Grecian, having an impediment in his speech which made it impossible that he should take orders, the natural fate of Grecians, with profit. Great Erasmus and Little Erasmus are still the names of classes in the Blue-Coat School. Grecians were the Little Erasmians.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to P. G. Patmore, dated April 10, 1831, not available for this edition; in which Lamb says of the publisher of the New Monthly Magazine: “Nature never wrote Knave upon a face more legible than upon that fellow’s—‘Coal-burn him in Beelzebub’s deepest pit.’ I can promise little help if you mean literary, when I reflect that for 5 years I have been feeling the necessity of scribbling but have never found the power. . . . Moxon is my go between, call on him, 63 New Bond
St. he is a very good fellow and the bookseller is not yet burn’d into him.” Patmore was seeking a publisher for, I imagine, his
Chatsworth (see page 737).

Here should come a letter from Lamb, dated April 13, 1831, which Canon Ainger considers was written to Cary and Mr. Hazlitt to Coleridge. It states that Lamb is daily expecting Wordsworth.]

April 30, 1831.

VIR Bone!—Recepi literas tuas amicissimas, et in mentem venit responsuro mihi, vel raro, vel nunquam, inter nos intercedisse Latinam linguam, organum rescribendi, loquendive. Epistolæ tuæ, Plinianis elegantiis (supra quod Tremulo deceat) refertæ, tam a verbis Plinianis adeo abhorrent, ut ne vocem quamquam (Romanam scilicet) habere videaris, quam “ad canem,” ut aiunt, “rejectare possis.” Forsan desuetudo Latinissandi ad vernaculam linguam usitandam, plusquam opus sit, coegit. Per adagia quædam nota, et in ore omnium pervulgata, ad Latinitatis perditæ recuperationem revocare te institui.

Felis in abaco est, et ægrè videt.

Omne quod splendet nequaquam aurum putes.

Imponas equo mendicum, equitabit idem ad diabolum.

Fur commodè a fure prenditur.

O Maria, Maria, valdè contraria, quomodo crescit hortulus tuus?

Nunc majora canamus.

Thomas, Thomas, de Islington, uxorem duxit die nuperâ Dominicâ. Reduxit domum posterâ. Succedenti baculum emit. Postridiè ferit illam. Ægrescit illa subsequenti. Proxima (nempe Veneris) est Mortua. Plurimum gestiit Thomas, quòd appropinquanti Sabbato efferenda sit.

Horner quidam Johannulus in angulo sedebat, artocreas quasdam deglutiens. Inseruit pollices, pruna nana evellens, et magna voce exclamavit “Dii boni, quam bonus puer fio!”

Diddle-diddle-dumkins! meus unicus filius Johannes cubitum ivit, integris braccis, caligâ unâ tantum, indutus. Diddle-diddle, etc. Da Capo.

Hic adsum saltans Joannula. Cum nemo adsit mihi, semper resto sola.

Ænigma mihi hoc solvas, et Œdipus lies.

Quâ ratione assimulandus sit equus Tremulo?


Quippe cui tota communicatio sit per hay et neigh, juxta consilium illud Dominicum, “Fiat omnis communicatio vestra Yea et Nay.”

In his nugis caram diem consumo, dum invigilo valetudini carioris nostræ Emmæ, quæ apud nos jamdudum ægrotat. Salvere vos jubet mecum Maria mea, ipsa integra valetudine.


Ab agro Enfeldiense datum, Aprilis nescio quibus Calendis.—Davus sum, non Calendarius.

P.S.—Perdita in toto est Billa Reformatura.


[Mr. Stephen Gwynn gives me the following translation:—

Good Sir, I have received your most kind letter, and it has entered my mind as I began to reply, that the Latin tongue has seldom or never been used between us as the instrument of converse or correspondence. Your letters, filled with Plinian elegancies (more than becomes a Quaker), are so alien to Pliny’s language, that you seem not to have a word (that is, a Roman word) to throw, as the saying is, at a dog. Perchance the disuse of Latinising had constrained you more than is right to the use of the vernacular. I have determined to recall you to the recovery of your lost Latinity by certain well-known adages common in all mouths.

The cat’s in the cupboard and she can’t see.

All that glitters is not gold.

Set a beggar on horseback and he’ll ride to the Devil.

Set a thief to catch a thief.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Now let us sing of weightier matters.

Tom, Tom, of Islington, wed a wife on Sunday. He brought her home on Monday. Bought a stick on Tuesday. Beat her well on Wednesday. She was sick on Thursday. Dead on Friday. Tom was glad on Saturday night to bury his wife on Sunday.

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner, eating his Christmas pie. He put in his thumb and drew out a plumb and cried “Good Heavens, what a good boy am I!”

Diddle, diddle, dumkins! my son John Went to bed with his breeches on; One shoe off and the other shoe on, Diddle, diddle, etc. (Da Capo.)

Here am I, jumping Joan. When no one’s by, I’m all alone.

Solve me this enigma, you shall be an Œdipus.

Why is a horse like a Quaker?

Because all his communication is by Hay and Neigh, after the Lord’s counsel, “Let all your communication be Yea and Nay.”

1831 MORE LATIN 873

In these trifles I waste the precious day, while watching over the health of our more precious Emma, who has been sick in our house this long time. My Mary sends you greeting with me, she herself in sound health.

Given from the Enfield country seat, on I know not what Calends of April—I am Davus not an Almanac.1

P.S.—The Reform Bill is lost altogether.

The Reform Bill was introduced on March 1, 1831, by Lord John Russell; the second reading was carried on March 22 by a majority of 1. On its commitment on April 19 there was a majority of 8 against the Government. Four days later the Government was again defeated by 22 and Parliament was dissolved. But later, of course, the Reform Bill was passed.]

[Dated at end:] Datum ab agro Enfeldiensi,
Maii die sexta, 1831.

ASSIDENS est mihi bona soror, Euripiden evolvens, donum vestrum, carissime Cary, pro quo gratias agimus, lecturi atque iterum lecturi idem. Pergratus est liber ambobus, nempe “Sacerdotis Commiserationis,” sacrum opus a te ipso Humanissimæ Religionis Sacerdote dono datum. Lachrymantes gavisuri sumus; est ubi dolor fiat voluptas; nec semper dulce mihi est ridere; aliquando commutandum est he! he! he! cum heu! heu! heu!

A Musis Tragicis me non penitus abhorruisse testis sit Carmen Calamitosum, nescio quo autore lingua prius vernaculâ scriptum, et nuperrime a me ipso Latine versum, scilicet, “Tom Tom of Islington.” Tenuistine?
“Thomas Thomas de Islington,
Uxorem duxit Die quadam Solis,
Abduxit domum sequenti die,
Emit baculum subsequenti,
Vapulat ilia posterâ,
Ægrotat succedenti, Mortua fit crastinâ.”
Et miro gaudio afficitur Thomas luce posterâ quod subsequenti (nempe, Dominicâ) uxor sit efferenda.
“En Iliades Domesticas!
En circulum calamitatum!
Plane hebdomadalem tragœdiam.”
I nunc et confer Euripiden vestrum his luctibus, hac morte uxoria; confer Alcesten! Hecuben! quasnon antiquas Heroinas Dolorosas.

1 Allusion to the phrase of Davus the servant in Plautus—“Davus sum non Œdipus.”


Suffundor genas lachrymis, tantas strages revolvens. Quid restat nisi quod Tecum Tuam Caram salutamus ambosque valere jubeamus, nosmet ipsi bene valentes.


[Mr. Stephen Gwynn gives me the following translation:—Sitting by me is my good sister, turning over Euripides, your gift, dear Cary [a pun here, “carissime care”], for which we thank you, and will read and re-read it. Most acceptable to both of us is this book of “Pity’s Priest,” a sacred work of your bestowing, yourself a priest of the most humane Religion. We shall take our pleasure weeping; there are times when pain turns pleasure, and I would not always be laughing: sometimes there should be a change—heu heu! for he! he!

That I have not shrunk from the Tragic Muses, witness this Lamentable Ballad, first written in the vernacular by I know not what author and lately by myself put into Latin T. T. of Islington. Have you heard it? (See translation of preceding letter.) And Thomas is possessed with a wondrous joy on the following morning, because on the next day, that is, Sunday, his wife must be buried.
Lo, your domestic Iliads!
Lo, the wheel of Calamities
The true tragedy of a week.
Go to now, compare your
Euripides with these sorrows, this death of a wife! Compare Alcestis! Hecuba! or what not other sorrowing Heroines of antiquity.

My cheeks are tear-bedewed as I revolve such slaughter. What more to say, but to salute you Cary and your Cara, and wish you health, ourselves enjoying it.

In Mary and Charles Lamb, 1874, by W. C. Hazlitt, in the Catalogue of Charles Lamb’s Library, for sale by Bartlett and Welford, New York, is this item:—“Euripidis Tragediæ, interp. Lat. 8vo. Oxonii, 1821”. “C. and M. Lamb, from H. F. Cary,” on flyleaf. This must be the book referred to.

Euripides has been called the priest of pity.]

[p.m. July 14, 1831.]

COLLIER’S Book would be right acceptable. And also a sixth vol. just publish’d of Nichols’s Illustrations of the Literary History of 18th Century. I agree with you, and do yet not disagree
W. W., as to H. It rejoyced my heart to read his friendly spirited mention of your publications. It might be a drawback to my pleasure, that he has tried to decry my “Nicky,” but on deliberate re- and reperusal of his censure I cannot in the remotest degree understand what he means to say. He and I used to dispute about Hell Eternities, I taking the affirmative. I love to puzzle atheists, and—parsons. I fancy it runs in his head, that I meant to rivet the idea of a personal devil. Then about the glorious three days! there was never a year or day in my past life, since I was pen-worthy, that I should not have written precisely as I have. Logic and modesty are not among H.’s virtues. Talfourd flatters me upon a poem which “nobody but I could have written,” but which I have neither seen nor heard of—“The Banquet,” or “Banqueting Something,” that has appeared in The Tatler. Know you of it? How capitally the Frenchman has analysed Satan! I was hinder’d, or I was about doing the same thing in English, for him to put into French, as I prosified Hood’s midsummer fairies. The garden of cabbage escap’d him, he turns it into a garden of pot herbs. So local allusions perish in translation. About 8 days before you told me of R.’s interview with the Premier, I, at the desire of Badams, wrote a letter to him (Badams) in the most moving terms setting forth the age, infirmities &c. of Coleridge. This letter was convey’d to [by] B. to his friend Mr. Ellice of the Treasury, Brother in Law to Lord Grey, who immediately pass’d it on [to] Lord Grey, who assured him of immediate relief by a grant on the King’s Bounty, which news E. communicated to B. with a desire to confer with me on the subject, on which I went up to The Treasury (yesterday fortnight) and was received by the Great Man with the utmost cordiality, (shook hands with me coming and going) a fine hearty Gentleman, and, as seeming willing to relieve any anxiety from me, promised me an answer thro’ Badams in 2 or 3 days at furthest. Meantime Gilman’s extraordinary insolent letter comes out in the Times! As to my acquiescing in this strange step, I told Mr. Ellice (who expressly said that the thing was renewable three-yearly) that I considered such a grant as almost equivalent to the lost pension, as from C.’s appearance and the representations of the Gilmans, I scarce could think C.’s life worth 2 years’ purchase. I did not know that the Chancellor had been previously applied to. Well, after seeing Ellice I wrote in the most urgent manner to the Gilmans, insisting on an immediate letter of acknowledgment from Coleridge, or them in his name to Badams, who not knowing C. had come forward so disinterestedly amidst his complicated illnesses and embarrassments, to use up an interest, which he may so well need, in favor of a stranger; and from that day not a letter has B. or even myself,
received from Highgate, unless that publish’d one in the Times is meant as a general answer to all the friends who have stirr’d to do C. service! Poor C. is not to blame, for he is in leading strings.—I particularly wish you would read this part of my note to
Mr. Rogers. Now for home matters—Our next 2 Sundays will be choked up with all the Sugdens. The third will be free, when we hope you will show your sister the way to Enfield and leave her with us for a few days. In the mean while, could you not run down some week day (afternoon, say) and sleep at the Horse Shoe? I want to have my 2d vol. Elias bound Specimen fashion, and to consult you about ’em. Kenney has just assured me that he has just touch’d £100 from the theatre; you are a damn’d fool if you dont exact your Tythe of him, and with that assurance I rest

Your Brother fool
C. L.

[Collier’s book would be his History of English Dramatic Poetry, 1831. Nichols’s Illustrations had been begun by John Nichols, and six volumes were published between 1817 and 1831. It was completed in two more volumes by his son, John Bowyer Nichols, in 1848 and 1858.

“H.”—Leigh Hunt. We do not know what W. W., presumably Wordsworth, had to say of him; but this is how Hunt had referred to Moxon’s publications and Lamb’s Satan in Search of a Wife in The Tatler for June 4, 1831, the occasion being a review of “Selections from Wordsworth” for schools: —

Mr. Moxon has begun his career as a bookseller in singularly high taste. He has no connection but with the select of the earth. The least thing he does, is to give us a dandy poem, suitable to Bond street, and not without wit. We allude to the Byronian brochure, entitled “Mischief.” But this is a mere condescension to the elegance of the street he lives in. Mr. Moxon commenced with some of the primaeval delicacies of Charles Lamb. He then astonished us with Mr. Rogers’ poems on Italy. . . . Of some of these publications we have already spoken,—Mr. Lamb’s Album Verses among them. And why (the reader may ask) not have noticed his Satan in Search of a Wife? Because, to say the truth, we did not think it worthy of him. We rejoice in Mr. Lamb’s accession to the good cause advocated by Sterne and Burns, refreshed by the wholesome mirth of Mr. Moncrieff, and finally carried (like a number of other astonished humanities, who little thought of the matter, and are not all sensible of it now) on the triumphant shoulders of the Glorious Three Days. But Mr. Lamb, in the extreme sympathy of his delight, has taken for granted, that everything that can be uttered on the subject will be held to be worth uttering, purely for its own sake, and because it could not well have been said twelve months ago. He merges himself, out of the pure transport of his good will, into the joyous common-places of others; just as if he had joined a great set of children in tossing over some mighty bowl of snap-dragon, too scalding to bear; and thought that nothing could be so good as to echo their “hurras!” Furthermore, we fear that some of his old friends, on the wrong side of the House, would think a little of his merriment profane: though for our parts, if we are certain of anything in this world, it is that nothing can be more Christian.


“The Banquet.” I cannot find this poem. It is, I think, not in The Tatler.

“How capitally the Frenchman . . .” I cannot find any French paraphrase of Satan in Search of a Wife, nor has a search at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris revealed one.

“R.’s interview with the Premier.” R. would be Rogers. Perhaps the best explanation of this portion of Lamb’s letter is the following passage from Mr. Dykes Campbell’s memoir of Coleridge:—

On June 26, 1830, died George IV., and with him died the pensions of the Royal Associates. Apparently they did not find this out until the following year. In the Englishman’s Magazine for June 1831, attention was directed to the fact that “intimation had been given to Mr. Coleridge and his brother Associates that they must expect their allowances ‘very shortly’ to cease”—the allowances having been a personal bounty of the late King. On June 3, 1831, Gillman wrote a letter to the Times, “in consequence of a paragraph which appeared in the Times of this day.” He states that on the sudden suppression of the honorarium, representations on Coleridge’s behalf were made to Lord Brougham, with the result that the Treasury (Lord Grey) offered a private grant of £200, which Coleridge “had felt it his duty most respectfully to decline.” Stuart, however, wrote to King William’s son, the Earl of Munster, pointing out the hardship entailed on Coleridge, “who is old and infirm, and without other means of subsistence.” He begs the Earl to lay the matter before his royal father. To this a reply came, excusing the King on account of his “very reduced income,” but promising that the matter shall be laid before His Majesty. To these letters, which are printed in Letters from the Lake Poets (pages 319-322), the following note is appended: “The annuity . . . was not renewed, but a sum of £300 was ultimately handed over to Coleridge by the Treasury.” Even apart from this bounty, Coleridge was not a sufferer by the withdrawal of the King’s pension, for Frere made it up to him annually.

It is interesting to know that Lamb played so useful and characteristic a part in this matter.

“The Sugdens.” I do not identify these friends.

“2d vol. Elias.” This would refer, I think, to the American volume, published without authority, in 1828, under the title Elia; or, Second Series, which Lamb told N. P. Willis he liked. It contained three pieces not by Lamb; the rest made up from the Works and the London Magazine (see Vol. II., page 301).]

Pray forward the enclosed, or put it in the post.
[No date. Early August, 1831.]

DEAR M.—The R.A. here memorised was George Dawe, whom I knew well and heard many anecdotes of, from Daniels and Westall, at H. Rogers’s—to each of them it will be well to send
a Mag. in my name. It will fly like wild fire among the R. Academicians and artists. Could you get hold of
Proctor—his chambers are in Lincoln’s Inn at Montagu’s—or of Janus Weathercock?—both of their prose is capital. Don’t encourage poetry. The Peter’s Net does not intend funny things only. All is fish. And leave out the sickening Elia at the end. Then it may comprise letters and characters addrest to Peter—but a signature forces it to be all characteristic of the one man Elia, or the one man Peter, which cramped me formerly. I have agreed not for my sister to know the subjects I chuse till the Mag. comes out; so beware of speaking of ’em, or writing about ’em, save generally. Be particular about this warning. Can’t you drop in some afternoon, and take a bed?

The Athenæum has been hoaxed with some exquisite poetry that was 2 or 3 months ago in Hone’s Book. I like your 1st No. capitally. But is it not small? Come and see us, week day if possible.

C. L.

[Moxon had just acquired The Englishman’s Magazine and Lamb contributed to the September number his “Recollections of a Late Royal Academician,” George Dawe (see Vol. I. of this edition, page 331), under the general title “Peter’s Net.” Daniels may have been Thomas or William Daniell, both landscape painters. Westall may have been Richard Westall, the historical painter, or William Westall, the topographical painter. H. Rogers was Henry Rogers, brother of the poet.

“The Athenæum has been hoaxed.” The exquisite poetry was FitzGerald’sMeadows in Spring” (see next letter).]

[p.m. Aug. 5, 1831.]

SEND, or bring me, Hone’s No. for August.

Hunt is a fool, and his critics——The anecdotes of E. and of G. D. are substantially true. What does Elia (or Peter) care for dates?

That is the poem I mean. I do not know who wrote it, but is in Hone’s book as far back as April.

Tis a poem I envy—that & Montgomery’s Last Man (nothing else of his). I envy the writers, because I feel I could have done something like it. S—— is a coxcomb. W—— is a ———— —— & a great Poet.


[Hone was now editing his Year Book. Under the date April 30 had appeared Edward FitzGerald’s poem, “The Meadows in Spring,” with the following introduction:—

These verses are in the old style; rather homely in expression; but I honestly profess to stick more to the simplicity of the old poets than the moderns, and to love the philosophical good humor of our old writers more than the sickly melancholy of the Byronian wits. If my verses be not good, they are good humored, and that is something.

The editor of The Athenæum, in reprinting the poem, suggested delicately that it was by Lamb. There is no such poem by James Montgomery as “The Last Man.” Campbell wrote a “Last Man,” and so did Hood, but I agree with Canon Ainger that what Lamb meant was Montgomery’s “Common Lot.” I give the two poems in the Appendix (see pages 960 and 961) as illustrations of what Lamb envied.

“Hunt is a fool.” In The Tatler for August 1 Leigh Hunt had quoted much of Lamb’s essay on Elliston. I do not, however, find any adverse criticism.

“E. and G. D.” Lamb had written in the August number of The Englishman’s Magazine his “Reminiscences of Elliston.” Lamb’s article on George Dawe did not appear till the September number, but perhaps Moxon already had the copy.]

[p.m. Sept. 5, 1831.]

DEAR M., Your Letter’s contents pleased me. I am only afraid of taxing you, yet I want a stimulus, or I think I should drag sadly. I shall keep the monies in trust till I see you fairly over the next 1 January. Then I shall look upon ’em as earned. Colburn shall be written to. No part of yours gave me more pleasure (no, not the £10, tho’ you may grin) than that you will revisit old Enfield, which I hope will be always a pleasant idea to you.

Yours very faithfully
C. L.

[The letter’s contents was presumably payment for Lamb’s contribution to The Englishman’s Magazine.]

[p.m. Sept. 13, 1831.]

DEAR Wm—We have a sick house, Mrs. Westwds daughter in a fever, & Grandaughter in the meazles, & it is better to see no company just now, but in a week or two we shall be very glad to see you; come at a hazard then, on a week day if you can, because Sundays are stuffd up with friends on both parts of this great ill-mix’d family. Your second letter, dated 3d Septr., came not till Sundy & we staid at home in evens in expectation of seeing you. I have turned & twisted what you ask’d me to do in my head, & am obliged to say I can not undertake it—but as a composition for declining it, will you accept some verses which I meditate to be addrest to you on your father, & prefixable to your Life? Write me word that I may have ’em ready against I see you some 10 days hence, when I calculate the House will be uninfected. Send your mother’s address.

If you are likely to be again at Cheshunt before that time, on second thoughts, drop in here, & consult—

C. L.

Not a line is yet written—so say, if I shall do ’em.


[This is the only letter extant to the younger Hazlitt, who was then nearly twenty. William Hazlitt, the essayist, had died September 18, 1830. Lamb was at his bedside. The memoir of him, by his son, was prefixed to the Literary Remains in 1836, but no verses by Lamb accompanied it. When this letter was last sold at Sotheby’s in June, 1902, a copy of verses was attached beginning—
There lives at Winterslow a man of such
Rare talents and deep learning . . .
in the handwriting of William Hazlitt. They bear more traces of being
Mary Lamb’s work than her brother’s.]

[p.m. October 24, 1831.]

TO address an abdicated monarch is a nice point of breeding. To give him his lost titles is to mock him; to withhold ’em is to wound him. But his Minister who falls with him may be
gracefully sympathetic. I do honestly feel for your diminution of honors, and regret even the pleasing
cares which are part and parcel of greatness. Your magnanimous submission, and the cheerful tone of your renunciation, in a Letter which, without flattery, would have made an “Article,” and which, rarely as I keep letters, shall be preserved, comfort me a little. Will it please, or plague you, to say that when your Parcel came I damned it, for my pen was warming in my hand at a ludicrous description of a Landscape of an R.A., which I calculated upon sending you to morrow, the last day you gave me. Now any one calling in, or a letter coming, puts an end to my writing for the day. Little did I think that the mandate had gone out, so destructive to my occupation, so relieving to the apprehensions of the whole body of R.A.’s. So you see I had not quitted the ship while a plank was remaining.

To drop metaphors, I am sure you have done wisely. The very spirit of your epistle speaks that you have a weight off your mind. I have one on mine. The cash in hand, which, as * * * * * * less truly says, burns in my pocket. I feel queer at returning it (who does not?). You feel awkward at re-taking it (who ought not?) Is there no middle way of adjusting this fine embarrassment? I think I have hit upon a medium to skin the sore place over, if not quite to heal it. You hinted that there might be something under £10 by and by accruing to me Devil’s Money. You are sanguine—say £7: 10s.—that I entirely renounce and abjure all future interest in, I insist upon it, and “by Him I will not name” I won’t touch a penny of it. That will split your Loss one half—and leave me conscientious possessor of what I hold. Less than your assent to this, no proposal will I accept of.

The Rev. Mr. ——, whose name you have left illegible (is it Seagull?) never sent me any book on Christ’s Hospit. by which I could dream that I was indebted to him for a dedication. Did G. D. send his penny tract to me to convert me to Unitarianism? Dear blundering soul! why I am as old a one-Goddite as himself. Or did he think his cheap publication would bring over the Methodists over the way here? However I’ll give it to the pew-opener (in whom I have a little interest,) to hand over to the Clerk, whose wife she sometimes drinks tea with, for him to lay before the Deacon, who exchanges the civility of the hat with him, for him to transmit to the Minister, who shakes hand with him out of Chapel, and he, in all odds, will —————— with it.

I wish very much to see you. I leave it to you to come how you will. We shall be very glad (we need not repeat) to see your sister, or sisters, with you—but for you individually I will just hint that a dropping in to Tea unlook’d for about 5, stopping bread-n-cheese and gin-and-water, is worth a thousand Sundays. I am naturally
miserable on a Sunday, but a week day evening and Supper is like old times. Set out now, and give no time to deliberation—

P.S.—The 2d vol. of Elia is delightful(-ly bound, I mean) and quite cheap. Why, man, ’tis a Unique—

If I write much more I shall expand into an article, which I cannot afford to let you have so cheap.

By the by, to shew the perverseness of human will—while I thought I must furnish one of those accursed things monthly, it seemed a Labour above Hercules’s “Twelve” in a year, which were evidently Monthly Contributions. Now I am emancipated, I feel as if I had a thousand Essays swelling within me. False feelings both.

I have lost Mr. Aitken’s Town address—do you know it? Is he there?

Your ex-Lampoonist, or Lamb-punnist—from Enfield, Oct. 24, or “last day but one for receiving articles that can be inserted.”


[Moxon, finding The Englishman’s Magazine unsuccessful, gave it up suddenly after the October number, the third under his direction. His letter to Lamb on the subject is not now forthcoming. The ludicrous description of a landscape by an R.A. is, I imagine, that of the garden of the Hesperides in the Elia essay on the “Barrenness of the Imaginative Faculty in the Production of Modern Art” (see Vol. II., page 227). Probably Turner’s “Garden of the Hesperides” in the National Gallery.

By “Devil’s Money” Lamb means money due for Satan in Search of a Wife. I do not identify * * * * * *.

“By Him I will not name.” An allusion probably to the Jewish habit of avoiding Jehovah’s name in their synagogues.

“The Rev. Mr. ——.” I have not identified this gentleman.

“G. D. . . . penny tract.” I have not found Dyer’s tract.

“The 2d vol. of Elia.” See note on page 877.

“Mr. Aitken.” John Aitken, editor of Constable’s Miscellany, whom Moxon would have known at Hurst & Co.’s. See page 974.]

[p.m. Dec. 15, 1831.]

DEAR M.S. I know, has an aversion, amounting almost to horror, of H. He would not lend his name. The other I might wring a guinea from, but he is very properly shy of
his guineas. It would be improper in me to apply to him, and impertinent to
the other. I hope this will satisfy you, but don’t give my reason to H.’s friend, simply, say I decline it.

I am very much obliged to you for thinking of Cary. Put me down seven shillings (wasn’t it?) in your books, and I set you down for more in my good ones. One Copy will go down to immortality now, the more lasting as the less its leaves are disturbed. This Letter will cost you 3d.—but I did not like to be silent on the above†.

Nothing with my name will sell, a blast is upon it. Do not think of such a thing, unless ever you become rich enough to speculate.

Being praised, and being bought, are different things to a Book. Fancy books sell from fashion, not from the number of their real likers. Do not come at so long intervals. Here we are sure to be.


[S. and H. I do not identify—perhaps Southey and Hunt. Hunt’s need of guineas was chronic. The reference to Cary is not very clear. Lamb seems to suggest that he is giving Cary a copy of a book that Cary will not read, but will preserve.

“Nothing with my name.” Moxon may perhaps have just suggested publishing a second series of Elia.]