LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
Appendix vol I

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
‣ Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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I am in possession of an unpublished drama by Charles Lamb, which, as it is unquestionably his first substantive production, and dates at a very early period of his life, may claim to rank among the most interesting and valuable of our “Curiosities of Literature.” It is a complete Opera, in three acts, and the numerous songs and concerted pieces are written expressly to popular melodies of the time, in the manner afterwards adopted with such brilliant success by Moore.

Of the existence of this drama not one of Lamb’s friends (myself included) was aware until after his death. Unfortunately, I am not able to account, even by remote conjecture, for this latter circumstance, though Lamb was the last person in the world to keep a secret, especially his own. This, however, only renders the drama still more an object of literary interest and curiosity, considering that its authenticity is placed beyond question, by every portion of it, even to the minutest alterations, erasures, &c., being in his own handwriting*—a hand that is too peculiar to be mis-

* See the fac-simile at the commencement of this volume.

taken by any one who has once seen a page of it. Moreover, though this drama is entirely different in its general style, as well as in the character of the materials employed in its construction, from anything in Lamb’s other writings, there are passages in it which would confirm, if necessary, by internal evidence, the unimpeachable testimony of the handwriting.

I have used every means at my disposal, but in vain, for ascertaining the early history of this autograph. I have searched in vain for any direct glimpse of such history in the “Life and Letters” and the “Final Memorials” of Mr. Justice Talfourd. But I find a passage in the last-named work, in a letter from Miss Lamb to Mrs. Hazlitt, which will, perhaps, leave as little doubt in the reader’s mind as it does in mine, as to the true origin of this production. The passage I allude to is as follows:—

“The Skeffington is quite out now, my brother having got merry with claret and Tom Sheridan. This visit, and the occasion of it, is a profound secret, and therefore I tell it to nobody but you and Mrs. Reynolds. Through the medium of Wroughton,* there came an invitation and proposal from T. S. that C. L. should write some scenes in a speaking pantomime, the other parts of which Tom now, and his father formerly, have manufactured between them. So in the Christmas holidays my brother and his two great associates, we expect, will all three be damned together; that is, I mean, if Charles’s share, which is done and sent in, is accepted.”—(Final Memorials, 129, 130.)

* At that time stage manager of Drury Lane Theatre.


This passage, though it has evidently no direct reference to the drama now in question, establishes beyond doubt a personal as well as a professional connexion between Lamb and the Sheridans; and it is well known to those familiar with the dramatic history of the time, that they (the Sheridans) were in the habit occasionally, in the case of dramas that they did not like to part with, yet could not produce at the moment, of either purchasing such dramas at a small price, or giving small sums in advance on them, when their authors became inconveniently pressing for a decision.

Coupling the above with the facts,—first, that this drama belongs to a period precisely corresponding in date with that at which Lamb is described by his biographer as struggling to better the condition of his aged parents and his sister by any and every literary exertion and resource that he could call into play; and that at the period in question the drama was “the be-all and the end-all” of his literary ambition;—these circumstances being taken into consideration, little doubt will remain as to the early history of this curious MS.

I have given the first leaf of this drama in fac-simile. The MS. was shown to the late Mr. Justice Talfourd (one of Lamb’s executors) immediately on its discovery by me, and also to Mr. Moxon (his friend and publisher), neither of whom raised the smallest doubt as to the handwriting.