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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5
Edited by E. V. Lucas
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Yours truly, C. LAMB.

[Rickman now held the post of private secretary to the Speaker, Charles Abbot, afterwards Lord Colchester.

Captain Burney we have already met. His wife, Sarah Burney, was, there is good reason to suppose, in Lamb's mind when he wrote the Elia essay "Mrs. Battle's Opinions on Whist." Phillips was either Colonel Phillips, a retired officer of marines, who had sailed with Burney and Captain Cook, had known Dr. Johnson, and had married Burney's sister; or Ned Phillips (Rickman's Secretary).]



LETTER 150

CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM HAZLITT

March 15, 1806.

Dear H.—I am a little surprised at no letter from you. This day week, to wit, Saturday, the 8th of March, 1806, I booked off by the Wem coach, Bull and Mouth Inn, directed to you, at the Rev. Mr. Hazlitt's, Wem, Shropshire, a parcel containing, besides a book, &c., a rare print, which I take to be a Titian; begging the said W.H. to acknowledge the receipt thereof; which he not having done, I conclude the said parcel to be lying at the inn, and may be lost; for which reason, lest you may be a Wales-hunting at this instant, I have authorised any of your family, whosoever first gets this, to open it, that so precious a parcel may not moulder away for want of looking after. What do you in Shropshire when so many fine pictures are a-going, a-going every day in London? Monday I visit the Marquis of Lansdowne's, in Berkeley Square. Catalogue 2s. 6d. Leonardos in plenty. Some other day this week I go to see Sir Wm. Young's, in Stratford Place. Hulse's, of Blackheath, are also to be sold this month; and in May, the first private collection in Europe, Welbore Ellis Agar's. And there are you, perverting Nature in lying landscapes, filched from old rusty Titians, such as I can scrape up here to send you, with an additament from Shropshire Nature thrown in to make the whole look unnatural. I am afraid of your mouth watering when I tell you that Manning and I got into Angerstein's on Wednesday. Mon Dieu! Such Claudes! Four Claudes bought for more than L10,000 (those who talk of Wilson being equal to Claude are either mainly ignorant or stupid); one of these was perfectly miraculous. What colours short of bona fide sunbeams it could be painted in, I am not earthly colourman enough to say; but I did not think it had been in the possibility of things. Then, a music-piece by Titian—a thousand-pound picture—five figures standing behind a piano, the sixth playing; none of the heads, as M. observed, indicating great men, or affecting it, but so sweetly disposed; all leaning separate ways, but so easy—like a flock of some divine shepherd; the colouring, like the economy of the picture, so sweet and harmonious—as good as Shakspeare's "Twelfth Night,"—almost, that is. It will give you a love of order, and cure you of restless, fidgetty passions for a week after—more musical than the music which it would, but cannot, yet in a manner does, show. I have no room for the rest. Let me say, Angerstein sits in a room—his study (only that and the library are shown)—when he writes a common letter, as I am doing, surrounded with twenty pictures worth L60,000. What a luxury! Apicius and Heliogabalus, hide your diminished heads!

Yours, my dear painter, C. LAMB.

[Angerstein's was the house of John Julius Angerstein (1735-1823) the financier, in Pall Mall. He had a magnificent collection of pictures, L60,000 worth of which were bought on his death by the nation, to form the nucleus of our National Gallery. A portrait of Angerstein by Lawrence hangs there. The Titian of which Lamb speaks is now attributed to the School of Titian. It is called "A Concert." Angerstein's Claudes are also in the National Gallery.]



LETTER 151

CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING

May 10, 1806.

My dear Manning—I didn't know what your going was till I shook a last fist with you, and then 'twas just like having shaken hands with a wretch on the fatal scaffold, and when you are down the ladder, you can never stretch out to him again. Mary says you are dead, and there's nothing to do but to leave it to time to do for us in the end what it always does for those who mourn for people in such a case. But she'll see by your letter you are not quite dead. A little kicking and agony, and then—. Martin Burney took me out a walking that evening, and we talked of Mister Manning; and then I came home and smoked for you; and at twelve o'Clock came home Mary and Monkey Louisa from the play, and there was more talk and more smoking, and they all seemed first-rate characters, because they knew a certain person. But what's the use of talking about 'em? By the time you'll have made your escape from the Kalmuks, you'll have staid so long I shall never be able to bring to your mind who Mary was, who will have died about a year before, nor who the Holcrofts were! Me perhaps you will mistake for Phillips, or confound me with Mr. Daw, because you saw us together. Mary (whom you seem to remember yet) is not quite easy that she had not a formal parting from you. I wish it had so happened. But you must bring her a token, a shawl or something, and remember a sprightly little Mandarin for our mantle-piece, as a companion to the Child I am going to purchase at the Museum. She says you saw her writings about the other day, and she wishes you should know what they are. She is doing for Godwin's bookseller twenty of Shakspear's plays, to be made into Children's tales. Six are already done by her, to wit, 'The Tempest,' 'Winter's Tale,' 'Midsummer Night,' 'Much Ado,' 'Two Gentlemen of Verona,' and 'Cymbeline:' 'The Merchant of Venice' is in forwardness. I have done 'Othello' and 'Macbeth,' and mean to do all the tragedies. I think it will be popular among the little people. Besides money. It is to bring in 60 guineas. Mary has done them capitally, I think you'd think. These are the humble amusements we propose, while you are gone to plant the cross of Christ among barbarous Pagan anthropophagi. Quam homo homini praestat! but then, perhaps, you'll get murder'd, and we shall die in our beds with a fair literary reputation. Be sure, if you see any of those people whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders, that you make a draught of them. It will be very curious. O Manning, I am serious to sinking almost, when I think that all those evenings, which you have made so pleasant, are gone perhaps for ever. Four years you talk of, maybe ten, and you may come back and find such alterations! Some circumstance may grow up to you or to me, that may be a bar to the return of any such intimacy. I daresay all this is Hum, and that all will come back; but indeed we die many deaths before we die, and I am almost sick when I think that such a hold as I had of you is gone. I have friends, but some of 'em are changed. Marriage, or some circumstance, rises up to make them not the same. But I felt sure of you. And that last token you gave me of expressing a wish to have my name joined with yours, you know not how it affected me: like a legacy.

God bless you in every way you can form a wish. May He give you health, and safety, and the accomplishment of all your objects, and return you again to us, to gladden some fireside or other (I suppose we shall be moved from the Temple). I will nurse the remembrance of your steadiness and quiet, which used to infuse something like itself into our nervous minds. Mary called you our ventilator. Farewell, and take her best wishes and mine.

One thing more. When you get to Canton, you will most likely see a young friend of mine, Inspector of Teas, named Ball. He is a very good fellow and I should like to have my name talked of in China. Give my kind remembrances to the same Ball. Good bye.

C. L.

I have made strict inquiries through my friend Thompson as to your affairs with the Comp'y. If there had been a committee yesterday an order would have been sent to the captain to draw on them for your passage money, but there was no Committee. But in the secretary's orders to receive you on board, it was specified that the Company would defray your passage, all the orders about you to the supercargoes are certainly in your ship. Here I will manage anything you may want done. What can I add but take care of yourself. We drink tea with the Holcrofts to-morrow.

[Addressed to "Mr. Manning, Passenger on Board the Thames, East Indiaman, Portsmouth."

Manning sailed for China this month. He did not return to England until 1817. His nominal purpose was to practise medicine there, not to spread Christianity, as Lamb suggests—probably in fun.

This is Manning's reply to Lamb's letter:—

"Dear Lamb—As we are not sailed yet, and I have a few minutes, why should not I give you a line to say that I received your kind letter yesterday, and shall read it again before I have done with it. I am sorry I had not time to call on Mary, but I did not even call on my own Father, and he's 70 and loves me like a Father. I don't know that you can do any thing for me at the India House: if you hear any thing there about me, communicate it to Mr. Crabtree, 13, Newgate Street. I am not dead, nor dying—some people go into Yorkshire for four [years], and I have no currant jelly aboard. Tell Holcroft I received his kind letter."

"T. MANNING for ever."]



LETTER 152

MARY LAMB TO SARAH STODDART

[Mr. W.C. Hazlitt dates: June 2, 1806.]

My dear Sarah,—You say truly that I have sent you too many make-believe letters. I do not mean to serve you so again, if I can help it. I have been very ill for some days past with the toothache. Yesterday, I had it drawn; and I feel myself greatly relieved, but far from easy, for my head and my jaws still ache; and, being unable to do any business, I would wish to write you a long letter, to atone for my former offences; but I feel so languid, that I am afraid wishing is all I can do.

I am sorry you are so worried with business; and I am still more sorry for your sprained ancle. You ought not to walk upon it. What is the matter between you and your good-natured maid you used to boast of? and what the devil is the matter with your Aunt? You say she is discontented. You must bear with them as well as you can; for, doubtless, it is you[r] poor Mother's teazing that puts you all out of sorts. I pity you from my heart.

We cannot come to see you this summer, nor do I think it advisable to come and incommode you, when you for the same expence could come to us. Whenever you feel yourself disposed to run away from your troubles, come up to us again. I wish it was not such a long, expensive journey, then you could run backwards and forwards every month or two.

I am very sorry you still hear nothing from Mr. White. I am afraid that is all at an end. What do you intend to do about Mr. Turner?

I believe Mr. Rickman is well again, but I have not been able to get out lately to enquire, because of my toothache. Louisa Martin is quite well again.

William Hazlitt, the brother of him you know, is in town. I believe you have heard us say we like him? He came in good time; for the loss of Manning made Charles very dull, and he likes Hazlitt better than any body, except Manning.

My toothache has moped Charles to death: you know how he hates to see people ill.

Mrs. Reynolds has been this month past at Deptford, so that I never know when Monday comes. I am glad you have got your Mother's pension.

My Tales are to be published in separate story-books; I mean, in single stories, like the children's little shilling books. I cannot send you them in Manuscript, because they are all in the Godwins' hands; but one will be published very soon, and then you shall have it all in print. I go on very well, and have no doubt but I shall always be able to hit upon some such kind of job to keep going on. I think I shall get fifty pounds a year at the lowest calculation; but as I have not yet seen any money of my own earning, for we do not expect to be paid till Christmas, I do not feel the good fortune, that has so unexpectedly befallen me, half so much as I ought to do. But another year, no doubt, I shall perceive it.

When I write again, you will hear tidings of the farce, for Charles is to go in a few days to the Managers to enquire about it. But that must now be a next-year's business too, even if it does succeed; so it's all looking forward, and no prospect of present gain. But that's better than no hopes at all, either for present or future times.

Charles has written Macbeth, Othello, King Lear, and has begun Hamlet; you would like to see us, as we often sit, writing on one table (but not on one cushion sitting), like Hermia and Helena in the Midsummer's Night's Dream; or, rather, like an old literary Darby and Joan: I taking snuff, and he groaning all the while, and saying he can make nothing of it, which he always says till he has finished, and then he finds out he has made something of it.

If I tell you that you Widow-Blackacreise, you must tell me I Tale-ise, for my Tales seem to be all the subject matter I write about; and when you see them, you will think them poor little baby-stories to make such a talk about; but I have no news to send, nor nothing, in short, to say, that is worth paying two pence for. I wish I could get franks, then I should not care how short or stupidly I wrote.

Charles smokes still, and will smoke to the end of the chapter.

Martin [Burney] has just been here. My Tales (again) and Charles's Farce has made the boy mad to turn Author; and he has written a Farce, and he has made the Winter's Tale into a story; but what Charles says of himself is really true of Martin, for he can make nothing at all of it: and I have been talking very eloquently this morning, to convince him that nobody can write farces, &c., under thirty years of age. And so I suppose he will go home and new model his farce.

What is Mr. Turner? and what is likely to come of him? and how do you like him? and what do you intend to do about it? I almost wish you to remain single till your Mother dies, and then come and live with us; and we would either get you a husband, or teach you how to live comfortably without. I think I should like to have you always to the end of our lives living with us; and I do not know any reason why that should not be, except for the great fancy you seem to have for marrying, which after all is but a hazardous kind of an affair: but, however, do as you like; every man knows best what pleases himself best.

I have known many single men I should have liked in my life (if it had suited them) for a husband: but very few husbands have I ever wished was mine, which is rather against the state in general; but one never is disposed to envy wives their good husbands. So much for marrying—but however, get married, if you can.

I say we shall not come and see you, and I feel sure we shall not: but, if some sudden freak was to come into our wayward heads, could you at all manage?—Your Mother we should not mind, but I think still it would be so vastly inconvenient.—I am certain we shall not come, and yet you may tell me, when you write, if it would be horribly inconvenient if we did; and do not tell me any lies, but say truly whether you would rather we did or not.

God bless you, my dearest Sarah! I wish, for your sake, I could have written a very amusing letter; but do not scold, for my head aches sadly. Don't mind my headach, for before you get this it will be well, being only from the pains of my jaws and teeth. Farewell.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

[This letter contains the first mention to Sarah Stoddart of William Hazlitt, who was shortly to put an end to the claims both of Mr. White and Mr. Turner.

The Tales from Shakespear, although mainly Mary Lamb's book, did not bear her name for many years, not until after her brother's death. Her connection with it was, however, made public in more than one literary year-book of her day. Originally they were to be unsigned, but Godwin "cheated" Lamb into putting a name to them (see letter of Jan. 29, 1807). The single stories, which Mrs. Godwin issued at sixpence each, are now excessively rare. The ordinary first edition in two volumes is a valuable possession, much desired by collectors.]



LETTER 153

CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH [P.M. June 26, 1806.]

Dear Wordsworth—We got the six pounds safe in your sister's letters—are pleased, you may be sure, with the good news of Mrs. W.—hope all is well over by this time. "A fine boy!—have you any more? one more and a girl—poor copies of me" vide MR. H. a farce which the Proprietors have done me the honor—but I will set down Mr. Wroughton's own words. N.B. the ensuing letter was sent in answer to one which I wrote begging to know if my piece had any chance, as I might make alterations, &c. I writing on the Monday, there comes this letter on the Wednesday. Attend.

(Copy of a Letter from Mr. R'd. Wroughton)

Sir, Your Piece of Mr. H—I am desired to say, is accepted at Drury Lane Theatre, by the Proprietors, and, if agreeable to you, will be brought forwards when the proper opportunity serves—the Piece shall be sent to you for your Alterations in the course of a few days, as the same is not in my Hands but with the Proprietors.

(dated) I am Sir, 66 Gower St., Your obedient ser't., Wednesday R'd. WROUGHTON. June 11, 1806.

On the following Sunday Mr. Tobin comes. The scent of a manager's letter brought him. He would have gone further any day on such a business. I read the letter to him. He deems it authentic and peremptory. Our conversation naturally fell upon pieces—different sorts of pieces—what is the best way of offering a piece—how far the caprice of managers is an obstacle in the way of a piece—how to judge of the merits of a piece—how long a piece may remain in the hands of the managers before it is acted—and my piece—and your piece—and my poor brother's piece—my poor brother was all his life endeavouring to get a piece accepted—

I am not sure that when my poor Brother bequeathed the care of his pieces to Mr. James Tobin he did not therein convey a legacy which in some measure mollified the otherwise first stupefactions of grief. It can't be expected that the present Earl Nelson passes all his time in watering the laurels of the Admiral with Right Reverend Tears. Certainly he steals a fine day now and then to plot how to lay out the grounds and mansion at Burnham most suitably to the late Earl's taste, if he had lived, and how to spend the hundred thousand pound parliament has given him in erecting some little neat monument to his memory.

MR. H. I wrote that in mere wantonness of triumph. Have nothing more to say about it. The Managers I thank my stars have decided its merits for ever. They are the best judges of pieces, and it would be insensible in me to affect a false modesty after the very flattering letter which I have received and the ample—

I think this will be as good a pattern for Orders as I can think on. A little thin flowery border round, neat not gaudy, and the Drury Lane Apollo with the harp at the top. Or shall I have no Apollo?—simply nothing? Or perhaps the Comic Muse?

The same form, only I think without the Apollo, will serve for the pit and galleries. I think it will be best to write my name at full length; but then if I give away a great many, that will be tedious. Perhaps Ch. Lamb will do. BOXES now I think on it I'll have in Capitals. The rest in a neat Italian hand. Or better perhaps, BOXES, in old English character, like Madoc or Thalaba?

I suppose you know poor Mountague has lost his wife. That has been the reason for my sending off all we have got of yours separately. I thought it a bad time to trouble him. The Tea 25 lb. in 5 5 lb. Papers, two sheets to each, with the chocolate which we were afraid Mrs. W. would want, comes in one Box and the Hats in a small one. I booked them off last night by the Kendal waggon. There comes with this letter (no, it comes a day or two earlier) a Letter for you from the Doctor at Malta, about Coleridge, just received. Nothing of certainty, you see, only that he is not at Malta. We supt with the Clarksons one night—Mrs. Clarkson pretty well. Mr. C. somewhat fidgety, but a good man. The Baby has been on a visit to Mrs. Charlotte Smith, Novellist and morals-trainer, but is returned. [A short passage omitted here.]

Mary is just stuck fast in All's Well that Ends Well. She complains of having to set forth so many female characters in boy's clothes. She begins to think Shakspear must have wanted Imagination. I to encourage her, for she often faints in the prosecution of her great work, flatter her with telling her how well such a play and such a play is done. But she is stuck fast and I have been obliged to promise to assist her. To do this it will be necessary to leave off Tobacco. But I had some thoughts of doing that before, for I sometimes think it does not agree with me. W. Hazlitt is in Town. I took him to see a very pretty girl professedly, where there were two young girls—the very head and sum of the Girlery was two young girls—they neither laughed nor sneered nor giggled nor whispered—but they were young girls—and he sat and frowned blacker and blacker, indignant that there should be such a thing as Youth and Beauty, till he tore me away before supper in perfect misery and owned he could not bear young girls. They drove him mad. So I took him home to my old Nurse, where he recover'd perfect tranquillity. Independent of this, and as I am not a young girl myself, he is a great acquisition to us. He is, rather imprudently, I think, printing a political pamphlet on his own account, and will have to pay for the paper, &c. The first duty of an Author, I take it, is never to pay anything. But non cuivis attigit adire Corinthum. The Managers I thank my stars have settled that question for me.

Yours truly, C. LAMB.

[Wordsworth's third child, Thomas, who did not grow up, was born June 16, 1806.

"A fine boy!" The quotation is from Mr. H.'s soliloquy after the discovery of his name:—"No son of mine shall exist, to bear my ill-fated name. No nurse come chuckling, to tell me it is a boy. No midwife, leering at me from under the lids of professional gravity. I dreamed of caudle. (Sings in a melancholy tone) Lullaby, Lullaby,— hush-a-by-baby—how like its papa it is!—(makes motions as if he was nursing). And then, when grown up, 'Is this your son, sir?' 'Yes, sir, a poor copy of me,—a sad young dog!—just what his father was at his age,—I have four more at home.' Oh! oh! oh!"

Tobin was James Tobin, whom we have already met, brother of the late dramatist, John Tobin.

Poor Mountague would be Basil Montagu, whose second wife had just died. He married afterwards Anne Skepper, whom Lamb came to know well, and of whom he speaks in his Elia essay "Oxford in the Vacation."

The Doctor was Dr. Stoddart. Coleridge had left Malta some months before, as we have seen. He had also left Rome and was in some foreign town unknown, probably not far from Leghorn, whence he sailed for England in the following month, reaching Portsmouth in August.

The Baby was Mrs. Godwin, and Charlotte Smith was the poetess (of great fame in her day, but now forgotten), who was then living at Tilford, near Farnham, in Surrey. She died in the following October. The passage which I have, with extreme reluctance, omitted, refers to the physical development of the two ladies. Lamb was writing just then less for Wordsworth than Antiquity.

Hazlitt's political pamphlet was his Free Thoughts on Public Affairs, 1806.]



LETTER 154

MARY LAMB TO SARAH STODDART

[No date. ? Begun on Friday, July 4, 1806.]

Charles and Hazlitt are going to Sadler's Wells, and I am amusing myself in their absence with reading a manuscript of Hazlitt's; but have laid it down to write a few lines, to tell you how we are going on. Charles has begged a month's hollidays, of which this is the first day, and they are all to be spent at home. We thank you for your kind invitations, and were half-inclined to come down to you; but after mature deliberation, and many wise consultations, such as you know we often hold, we came to the resolution of staying quietly at home: and during the hollidays we are both of us to set stoutly to work and finish the Tales, six of them being yet to do. We thought, if we went anywhere and left them undone, they would lay upon our minds; and that when we returned, we should feel unsettled, and our money all spent besides: and next summer we are to be very rich, and then we can afford a long journey some where, I will not say to Salisbury, because I really think it is better for you to come to us; but of that we will talk another time.

The best news I have to send you is, that the Farce is accepted. That is to say, the manager has written to say it shall be brought out when an opportunity serves. I hope that it may come out by next Christmas: you must come and see it the first night; for if it succeeds, it will be a great pleasure to you, and if it should not, we shall want your consolation. So you must come.

I shall soon have done my work, and know not what to begin next. Now, will you set your brains to work and invent a story, either for a short child's story, or a long one that would make a kind of Novel, or a Story that would make a play. Charles wants me to write a play, but I am not over anxious to set about it; but seriously will you draw me out a skeleton of a story, either from memory of any thing that you have read, or from your own invention, and I will fill it up in some way or other.

The reason I have not written so long is, that I worked, and worked, in hopes to get through my task before the hollidays began; but at last I was not able, for Charles was forced to get them now, or he could not have had any at all: and having picked out the best stories first, these latter ones take more time, being more perplext and unmanageable. But however I hope soon to tell you that they are quite completed. I have finished one to-day which teazed me more than all the rest put together. The[y] sometimes plague me as bad as your Lovers do you. How do you go on, and how many new ones have you had lately?

I met Mrs. Fenwick at Mrs. Holcroft's the other day; she loo[ked very] placid and smiling, but I was so disconcerted that I hardly knew how to sit upon my chair. She invited us to come and see her, but we did not invite her in return; and nothing at all was said in an explanatory sort: so that matter rests at present.

Mrs. Rickman continues very ill—so ill, that there are no hopes of her recovery—for which I am very sorry indeed.

I am sorry you are altogether so uncomfortable; I shall be glad to hear you are settled at Salisbury: that must be better than living in a lone house, companionless as you are. I wish you could afford to bring your Mother up to London; but that is quite impossible.

Your brother wrote a letter a week ago (which passed through our hands) to Wordsworth, to tell him all he knew of Coleridge; but as he had not heard from C. for some time, there was nothing in the letter we did not know before.

Thanks for your brother's letters. I preserve them very carefully, and you shall have them (as the Manager says) when opportunity serves.

Mrs. Wordsworth is brought to bed; and I ought to write to Miss Wordsworth to thank her for the information, but I suppose I shall defer it till another child is coming. I do so hate writing letters. I wish all my friends would come and live in town. Charles has been telling me even it is better [than] two months that he ought to write to your brother. [It is not] my dislike to writing letters that prevents my [writing] to you, but sheer want of time, I assure you, because [I know] you care not how stupidly I write, so as you do but [hear at the] time what we are about.

Let me hear from you soon, and do let me hear some [good news,] and don't let me hear of your walking with sprained ancles again; no business is an excuse for making yourself lame.

I hope your poor Mother is better, and Aunty and Maid jog on pretty well; remember me to them all in due form and order. Charles's love, and our best wishes that all your little busy affairs may come to a prosperous conclusion.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

Friday evening.

[Added later:—]

They (Hazlitt and Charles) came home from Sadler's Wells so dismal and dreary dull on Friday, that I gave them both a good scolding—quite a setting to rights; and I think it has done some good, for Charles has been very chearful ever since. I begin to hope the home hollidays will go on very well. Mrs. Rickman is better. Rickman we saw at Captain Burney's for the first time since her illness last night.

Write directly, for I am uneasy about your Lovers; I wish something was settled. God bless you.

Once more, yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

Sunday morning [July 6, or more probably 13].—I did not put this in the post, hoping to be able to write a less dull letter to you this morning; but I have been prevented, so it shall go as it is. I am in good spirits just at this present time, for Charles has been reading over the Tale I told you plagued me so much, and he thinks it one of the very best: it is All's Well that Ends Well. You must not mind the many wretchedly dull letters I have sent you; for, indeed, I cannot help it, my mind is so dry always after poring over my work all day. But it will soon be over.

I am cooking a shoulder of Lamb (Hazlitt dines with us); it will be ready at two o'Clock, if you can pop in and eat a bit with us.

[The programme at Sadler's Wells on July 4, 1806, was: "Aquatic Theatre, Sadler's Wells. A new dance called Grist and Puff, or the Highland Fling. The admired comic pantomime, Harlequin and the Water Kelpe. New melodramatic Romance, The Invisible Ring; or, The Water Monstre and Fire Spectre." The author of both was Mr. C. Dibdin, Jun. "Real water."

Mary Lamb's next work, after the Tales from Shakespear, was Mrs. Leicester's School. Charles Lamb meanwhile was preparing his Dramatic Specimens and Adventures of Ulysses.

Mrs. Rickman did not die then, She lived until 1836.]



LETTER 155

MARY LAMB TO DOROTHY WORDSWORTH

[P.M. August 29, 1806.]

My dear Miss Wordsworth—After I had put my letter in the post yesterday I was uneasy all the night because of some few expressions relative to poor Coleridge—I mean, in saying I wished your brother would come to town and that I wished your brother would consult Mr. Southey. I am very sure your brother will take no step in consequence of any foolish advice that I can give him, so far I am easy, but the painful reflections I have had during a sleepless night has induced me to write merely to quiet myself, because I have felt ever since, that in the present situation of Coleridge, returned after an absence of two years, and feeling a reluctance to return to his family, I ought not to throw in the weight of a hair in advising you or your Brother, and that I ought not to have so much as named to you his reluctance to return to Keswick, for so little is it in my power to calculate on his actions that perhaps in a few days he may be on his return home.

You, my dear friend, will perfectly understand me that I do not mean that I might not freely say to you anything that is upon my mind—but [the] truth is, my poor mind is so weak that I never dare trust my own judgement in anything: what I think one hour a fit of low spirits makes me unthink the next. Yesterday I wrote, anxiously longing for Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. Southey to endeavour to bring Mrs. C. to consent to a separation, and to day I think of the letter I received from Mrs. Coleridge, telling me, as joyful news, that her husband is arrived, and I feel it very wrong in me even in the remotest degree to do anything to prevent her seeing that husband—she and her husband being the only people who ought to be concerned in the affair.

All that I have said, or meant to say, you will perfectly understand, it being nothing more than to beg you will consider both my letter to day and yesterday as if you had not read either, they being both equally the effect of low spirits, brought on by the fatigue of Coleridge's conversation and the anxious care even to misery which I have felt since he has been here, that something could be done to make such an admirable creature happy. Nor has, I assure you, Mrs. Coleridge been without her full share in adding to my uneasiness. They say she grows fat and is very happy—and people say I grow fat and look happy—

It is foolish to teize you about my anxieties, you will feel quite enough on the subject yourself, and your little ones are all ill, and no doubt you are fatigued with nursing, but I could not help writing to day, to tell you how what I said yesterday has vext and worried me. Burn both these foolish letters and do not name the subject of them, because Charles will either blame me for having written something improper or he will laugh at me for my foolish fears about nothing.

Though I wish you not to take notice of what I have said, yet I shall rejoice to see a letter from you, and I hope, when you have half an hour's leisure, to see a line from you. We have not heard from Coleridge since he went out of town, but I dare say you have heard either from him or Mrs. Clarkson.

I remain my dear friend Yours most affectionately M. LAMB.

Friday [August 29].

[For the full understanding of Mary Lamb's letter it is necessary to read Coleridge's Life and his Letters. Coleridge on his return from abroad reached London August 17, 1806, and took up his quarters with the Lambs on the following day. He once more joined Stuart, then editing the Courier, but much of his old enthusiasm had gone. In Mr. Dykes Campbell's words:—

"Almost his first words to Stuart were: 'I am literally afraid, even to cowardice, to ask for any person, or of any person.' Spite of the friendliest and most unquestioning welcome from all most dear to him, it was the saddest of home-comings, for the very sympathy held out with both hands induced only a bitter, hopeless feeling of remorse—a

"'Sense of past youth, and manhood come in vain;— And genius given, and knowledge won in vain;—'

"of broken promises,—promises to friends and promises to himself; and above all, sense of a will paralysed—dead perhaps, killed by his own hand."

Coleridge remained at Lamb's at any rate until August 29, afterwards taking rooms in the Courier office at 348 Strand. Meanwhile his reluctance to meet or communicate with his wife was causing his friends much concern, none more so than Mary Lamb, who wrote at least two letters filled with anxious sympathy to Dorothy Wordsworth on the subject, asking for the mediation of Wordsworth or Southey. Her earlier letter is missing.

To quote Mr. Dykes Campbell again:—

"On September 16—just a month after his landing—he wrote his first letter to his wife, to say that he might be expected at Greta Hall on the 29th.

"Before this, Wordsworth had informed Sir George Beaumont that Coleridge 'dare not go home, he recoils so much from the thought of domesticating with Mrs. Coleridge, with whom, though on many accounts he much respects her, he is so miserable that he dare not encounter it. What a deplorable thing! I have written to him to say that if he does not come down immediately I must insist upon seeing him some-where. If he appoints London I shall go.

"'I believe if anything good is to be done for him it must be done by me.'"

"It was this letter of Wordsworth, doubtless, which drew Coleridge to the North. Dorothy's letter to Lady Beaumont, written on receipt of the announcement of Coleridge's home-coming, goes copiously and minutely into the reasons for the estrangement between the poet and his wife. Miss Wordsworth still had hopes of an improvement. 'Poor soul!' she writes, 'he had a struggle of many years, striving to bring Mrs. C. to a change of temper, and something like communion with him in his enjoyments. He is now, I trust, effectually convinced that he has no power of that sort,' and may, she thinks, if he will be 'reconciled to that one great want, want of sympathy,' live at home in peace and quiet. 'Mrs. C. has many excellent properties, as you observe; she is unremitting in her attention as a nurse to her children, and, indeed, I believe she would have made an excellent wife to many persons. Coleridge is as little fitted for her as she for him, and I am truly sorry for her.'"

It might perhaps be stated here that the separation was agreed upon in December. At the end of that month Coleridge visited the Wordsworths at Coleorton with Hartley, and in a few days began to be "more like his old self"—in Dorothy Wordsworth's phrase.

I append an undated letter which may belong to this period:—]



LETTER 156

MARY LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE

Dear Coleridge—I have read your silly, very silly, letter, and between laughing and crying I hardly know how to answer it. You are too serious and too kind a vast deal, for we are not much used to either seriousness or kindness from our present friends, and therefore your letter has put me into a greater hurry of spirits that [? than] your pleasant segar did last night, for believe me your two odd faces amused me much more than the mighty transgression vexed me. If Charles had not smoked last night his virtue would not have lasted longer than tonight, and now perhaps with a little of your good counsel he will refrain. Be not too serious if he smokes all the time you are with us—a few chearful evenings spent with you serves to bear up our spirits many a long and weary year—and the very being led into the crime by your segar that you thought so harmless, will serve for our amusement many a dreary time when we can get no letter nor hear no tidings of you.

You must positively must write to Mrs. Coleridge this day, and you must write here, that I may know you write, or you must come and dictate a letter for me to write to her. I know all that you would say in defence of not writing and I allow in full force everything that [you] can say or think, but yet a letter from me or you shall go today.

I wanted to tell you, but feared to begin the subject, how well your children are, how Pypos thrives and what a nice child Sara is, and above all I hear such favourable accounts from Southey, from Wordsworth and Hazlitt, of Hartley.

I have got Wordsworth's letters out for you to look at, but you shall not see them or talk of them without you like—Only come here as soon as you receive this, and I will not teize you about writing, but will manage a few lines, Charles and I between us. But something like a letter shall go today.

Come directly Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.



LETTER 157

MARY LAMB TO SARAH STODDART [P.M. October 23, 1806.]

My dear Sarah—I thank you a thousand times for the beautiful work you have sent me, I received the parcel from a strange gentleman yesterday. I like the patterns very much, you have quite set me up in finery, but you should have sent the silk handkerchief too. Will you make a parcel of that and send it by the Salisbury coach—I should like to have it in a few days because we have not yet been to Mr. Babbs and that handkerchief would suit this time of year nicely.

I have received a long letter from your brother on the subject of your intended marriage. I have no doubt but you also have one on this business, therefore it is needless to repeat what he says. I am well pleased to find that upon the whole he does not seem to see it in an unfavorable light. He says that, if Mr. D. is a worthy man he shall have no objection to become the brother of a farmer, and he makes an odd request to me that I shall set out to Salisbury to look at and examine into the merits of the said Mr. D., and speaks very confidently as if you would abide by my determination. A pretty sort of an office truly.—Shall I come?

The objections he starts are only such as you and I have already talked over, such as the difference in age, education, habits of life, &c.

You have gone too far in this affair for any interference to be at all desirable, and if you had not, I really do not know what my wishes would be. When you bring Mr. Dowling at Christmas I suppose it will be quite time enough for me to sit in judgement upon him, but my examination will not be a very severe one. If you fancy a very young man, and he likes an elderly gentlewoman; if he likes a learned and accomplished lady, and you like a not very learned youth, who may need a little polishing, which probably he will never acquire; it is all very well, and God bless you both together and may you be both very long in the same mind.

I am to assist you too, your brother says, in drawing up the marriage settlements—another thankful office! I am not, it seems, to suffer you to keep too much money in your own power, and yet I am to take care of you in case of bankruptcy &c., and I am to recommend to you, for the better management of this point, the serious perusal of Jeremy Taylor his opinion on the marriage state, especially his advice against separate interests in that happy state, and I am also to tell you how desirable it is that the husband should have the intire direction of all money concerns, except, as your good brother adds, in the case of his own family, where the money, he observes, is very properly deposited in Mrs. Stoddart's hands, she being better suited to enjoy such a trust than any other woman, and therefore it is fit that the general rule should not be extended to her.

We will talk over these things when you come to town, and as to settlements, which are matters of which, I never having had a penny in my own disposal, I never in my life thought of—and if I had been blessed with a good fortune, and that marvellous blessing to boot, a husband, I verily believe I should have crammed it all uncounted into his pocket—But thou hast a cooler head of thy own, and I dare say will do exactly what is expedient and proper, but your brother's opinion seems somewhat like Mr. Barwis's and I dare say you will take it into due consideration, yet perhaps an offer of your own money to take a farm may make uncle do less for his nephew, and in that case Mr. D. might be a loser by your generosity. Weigh all these things well, and if you can so contrive it, let your brother settle the settlements himself when he returns, which will most probably be long before you want them.

You are settled, it seems, in the very house which your brother most dislikes. If you find this house very inconvenient, get out of it as fast as you can, for your brother says he sent you the fifty pound to make you comfortable, and by the general tone of his letter I am sure he wishes to make you easy in money matters: therefore why straiten yourself to pay the debt you owe him, which I am well assured he never means to take? Thank you for the letter and for the picture of pretty little chubby nephew John.

I have been busy making waistcoats and plotting new work to succeed the Tales. As yet I have not hit upon any thing to my mind.

Charles took an emendated copy of his farce to Mr. Wroughton the Manager yesterday. Mr. Wroughton was very friendly to him, and expressed high approbation of the farce, but there are two, he tells him, to come out before it, yet he gave him hopes that it will come out this season, but I am afraid you will not see it by Christmas. It will do for another jaunt for you in the spring. We are pretty well and in fresh spirits about this farce. Charles has been very good lately in the matter of Smoking.

When you come bring the gown you wish to sell. Mrs. Coleridge will be in town then, and if she happens not to fancy it, perhaps some other person may.

Coleridge I believe is gone home; he left us with that design but we have not heard from him this fortnight.

Louisa sends her love; she has been very unwell lately.

My respects to Coridon, Mother, and Aunty.

Farewel, my best wishes are with you.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

Thursday.

When I saw what a prodigious quantity of work you had put into the finery I was quite ashamed of my unreasonable request, I will never serve you so again, but I do dearly love worked muslin.

[Sarah Stoddart now had a new lover, Mr. Dowling, to whom she seems actually to have become engaged. Mr. Barwis, I presume, was Mr. Dowling's uncle. Coridon would, I imagine, be Mr. Dowling.]



LETTER 158

CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING

5th Dec., 1806.

Tuthill is at Crabtree's who has married Tuthill's sister.

Manning, your letter dated Hottentots, August the what-was-it? came to hand. I can scarce hope that mine will have the same luck. China— Canton—bless us—how it strains the imagination and makes it ache! I write under another uncertainty, whether it can go to-morrow by a ship which I have just learned is going off direct to your part of the world, or whether the despatches may not be sealed up and this have to wait, for if it is detained here, it will grow staler in a fortnight than in a five months' voyage coming to you. It will be a point of conscience to send you none but brand-new news (the latest edition), which will but grow the better, like oranges, for a sea voyage. Oh, that you should be so many hemispheres off—if I speak incorrectly you can correct me—why, the simplest death or marriage that takes place here must be important to you as news in the old Bastile. There's your friend Tuthill has got away from France—you remember France? and Tuthill?—ten-to-one but he writes by this post, if he don't get my note in time, apprising him of the vessel sailing. Know then that he has found means to obtain leave from Bonaparte without making use of any incredible romantic pretences as some have done, who never meant to fulfil them, to come home; and I have seen him here and at Holcroft's. I have likewise seen his wife, this elegant little French woman whose hair reaches to her heels—by the same token that Tom (Tommy H.) took the comb out of her head, not expecting the issue, and it fell down to the ground to his utter consternation, two ells long. An't you glad about Tuthill? Now then be sorry for Holcroft, whose new play, called "The Vindictive Man," was damned about a fortnight since. It died in part of its own weakness, and in part for being choked up with bad actors. The two principal parts were destined to Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Bannister, but Mrs. J. has not come to terms with the managers, they have had some squabble, and Bannister shot some of his fingers off by the going off of a gun. So Miss Duncan had her part, and Mr. de Camp, a vulgar brother of Miss De Camp, took his. He is a fellow with the make of a jockey, and the air of a lamplighter. His part, the principal comic hope of the play, was most unluckily Goldfinch, taken out of the "Road to Ruin," not only the same character, but the identical Goldfinch—the same as Falstaff is in two plays of Shakspeare. As the devil of ill-luck would have it, half the audience did not know that H. had written it, but were displeased at his stealing from the "Road to Ruin;" and those who might have borne a gentlemanly coxcomb with his "That's your sort," "Go it"—such as Lewis is—did not relish the intolerable vulgarity and inanity of the idea stript of his manner. De Camp was hooted, more than hist, hooted and bellowed off the stage before the second act was finished, so that the remainder of his part was forced to be, with some violence to the play, omitted. In addition to this, a whore was another principal character—a most unfortunate choice in this moral day. The audience were as scandalised as if you were to introduce such a personage to their private tea-tables. Besides, her action in the play was gross—wheedling an old man into marriage. But the mortal blunder of the play was that which, oddly enough, H. took pride in, and exultingly told me of the night before it came out, that there were no less than eleven principal characters in it, and I believe he meant of the men only, for the play-bill exprest as much, not reckoning one woman and one whore; and true it was, for Mr. Powell, Mr. Raymond, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. H. Siddons, Mr. Barrymore, &c. &c.,—to the number of eleven, had all parts equally prominent, and there was as much of them in quantity and rank as of the hero and heroine—and most of them gentlemen who seldom appear but as the hero's friend in a farce—for a minute or two—and here they all had their ten-minute speeches, and one of them gave the audience a serious account how he was now a lawyer but had been a poet, and then a long enumeration of the inconveniences of authorship, rascally booksellers, reviewers, &c.; which first set the audience a-gaping; but I have said enough. You will be so sorry, that you will not think the best of me for my detail; but news is news at Canton. Poor H. I fear will feel the disappointment very seriously in a pecuniary light. From what I can learn he has saved nothing. You and I were hoping one day that he had; but I fear he has nothing but his pictures and books, and a no very flourishing business, and to be obliged to part with his long-necked Guido that hangs opposite as you enter, and the game-piece that hangs in the back drawing-room, and all those Vandykes, &c.! God should temper the wind to the shorn connoisseur. I hope I need not say to you, that I feel for the weather-beaten author and for all his household. I assure you his fate has soured a good deal the pleasure I should have otherwise taken in my own little farce being accepted, and I hope about to be acted—it is in rehearsal actually, and I expect it to come out next week. It is kept a sort of secret, and the rehearsals have gone on privately, lest by many folks knowing it, the story should come out, which would infallibly damn it. You remember I had sent it before you went. Wroughton read it, and was much pleased with it. I speedily got an answer. I took it to make alterations, and lazily kept it some months, then took courage and furbished it up in a day or two and took it. In less than a fortnight I heard the principal part was given to Elliston, who liked it, and only wanted a prologue, which I have since done and sent; and I had a note the day before yesterday from the manager, Wroughton (bless his fat face—he is not a bad actor in some things), to say that I should be summoned to the rehearsal after the next, which next was to be yesterday. I had no idea it was so forward. I have had no trouble, attended no reading or rehearsal, made no interest; what a contrast to the usual parade of authors! But it is peculiar to modesty to do all things without noise or pomp! I have some suspicion it will appear in public on Wednesday next, for W. says in his note, it is so forward that if wanted it may come out next week, and a new melo-drama is announced for every day till then: and "a new farce is in rehearsal," is put up in the bills. Now you'd like to know the subject. The title is "Mr. H.," no more; how simple, how taking! A great H. sprawling over the play-bill and attracting eyes at every corner. The story is a coxcomb appearing at Bath, vastly rich—all the ladies dying for him—all bursting to know who he is—but he goes by no other name than Mr. H.—a curiosity like that of the dames of Strasburg about the man with the great nose. But I won't tell you any more about it. Yes, I will; but I can't give you an idea how I have done it. I'll just tell you that after much vehement admiration, when his true name comes out, "Hogsflesh," all the women shun him, avoid him, and not one can be found to change their name for him—that's the idea—how flat it is here!—but how whimsical in the farce! and only think how hard upon me it is that the ship is despatched to-morrow, and my triumph cannot be ascertained till the Wednesday after—but all China will ring of it by and by. N.B. (But this is a secret). The Professor has got a tragedy coming out with the young Roscius in it in January next, as we say—January last it will be with you—and though it is a profound secret now, as all his affairs are, it cannot be much of one by the time you read this. However, don't let it go any further. I understand there are dramatic exhibitions in China. One would not like to be forestalled. Do you find in all this stuff I have written anything like those feelings which one should send my old adventuring friend, that is gone to wander among Tartars and may never come again? I don't—but your going away, and all about you, is a threadbare topic. I have worn it out with thinking—it has come to me when I have been dull with anything, till my sadness has seemed more to have come from it than to have introduced it. I want you, you don't know how much—but if I had you here in my European garret, we should but talk over such stuff as I have written—so—. Those "Tales from Shakespear" are near coming out, and Mary has begun a new work. Mr. Dawe is turned author: he has been in such a way lately—Dawe the painter, I mean—he sits and stands about at Holcroft's and says nothing—then sighs and leans his head on his hand. I took him to be in love—but it seems he was only meditating a work,—"The Life of Morland,"—the young man is not used to composition. Rickman and Captain Burney are well; they assemble at my house pretty regularly of a Wednesday—a new institution. Like other great men I have a public day, cribbage and pipes, with Phillips and noisy Martin.

Good Heaven! what a bit only I've got left! How shall I squeeze all I know into this morsel! Coleridge is come home, and is going to turn lecturer on taste at the Royal Institution. I shall get L200 from the theatre if "Mr. H." has a good run, and I hope L100 for the copyright. Nothing if it fails; and there never was a more ticklish thing. The whole depends on the manner in which the name is brought out, which I value myself on, as a chef-d'oeuvre. How the paper grows less and less! In less than two minutes I shall cease to talk to you, and you may rave to the Great Wall of China. N.B. Is there such a wall! Is it as big as Old London Wall by Bedlam? Have you met with a friend of mine, named Ball, at Canton?—if you are acquainted, remember me kindly to him. Amongst many queer cattle I have and do meet with at the India Ho. I always liked his behaviour. Tell him his friend Evans &c. are well. Woodruff not dead yet. May-be, you'll think I have not said enough of Tuthill and the Holcrofts. Tuthill is a noble fellow, as far as I can judge. The Holcrofts bear their disappointment pretty well, but indeed they are sadly mortified. Mrs. H. is cast down. It was well, if it were but on this account, that Tuthill is come home. N.B. If my little thing don't succeed, I shall easily survive, having, as it were, compared to H.'s venture, but a sixteenth in the lottery. Mary and I are to sit next the orchestra in the pit, next the tweedledees. She remembers you. You are more to us than five hundred farces, clappings, &c.

Come back one day. C. LAMB.

[The letter is addressed to T. Manning, Esq., Canton. At the end Lamb adds:—

"Holcroft has just writ to me as follows:—

"'DEAR SIR, Miss L. has informed us you are writing to Manning. Will you be kind enough to inform him directly from me that I and my family are most truly anxious for his safety; that if praying could bring down blessings on him we should pray morning noon and night; that his and our good friends the Tuthills are once more happily safe in England, and that I earnestly entreat not only a single letter but a correspondence with him whenever the thing [is] practicable, with such an address as may make letters from me likely to find him. In short, dear sir, if you will be kind enough to speak of me to Manning, you cannot speak with greater friendship and respect than I feel.

"'Yours with true friendship and kindness.'"

In the beginning of this letter we see the first germ of an idea afterwards developed in the letter to Barren Field of August 31, 1817, and again, more fully, in the Elia essay "Distant Correspondents."

Tuthill, afterwards Sir George Leman Tuthill (1772-1835), was the physician who, on a visit to Paris, was included among the English detenus and held a captive for several years. He was released only after his wife had made a personal appeal to Napoleon on his return from hunting. The words "incredible romantic pretences" refer chaffingly to Manning's application to Napoleon for liberty to return to England two or three years previously. Holcroft's "Vindictive Man" was produced at Drury Lane on November 20, 1806. It was a complete failure. His "Road to Ruin," produced in 1792 at Covent Garden, with "Gentleman" Lewis as Goldfinch, had been a great success and is still occasionally played. Holcroft was also a very voluminous author and translator, and the partner of his brother-in-law, Mercier, in a printing business, which, however, was unprofitable. Tommy was Holcroft's son.

"The dames of Strasburg"—in Tristram Shandy, Vol. IV.

"The Professor has a tragedy." This was "Faulkener," for which Lamb wrote the prologue. Owing to the capriciousness of Master Betty, the Young Roscius, it was not produced until December 16, 1807, and then with Elliston in the principal part. It was only partially successful, a result for which Godwin blamed Holcroft, who had revised the play.

Mary Lamb's new work was Mrs. Leicester's School.

"Mr. Dawe is turned author." The Life of George Morland, by George Dawe, was published in 1807.

Coleridge's intended series of lectures on Taste was abandoned. He did not actually deliver any until January 12, 1808.]



LETTER 159

CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

[Dated at end: December 11, 1806.]

Mary's Love to all of you—I wouldn't let her write—

Dear Wordsworth, Mr. H. came out last night and failed.

I had many fears; the subject was not substantial enough. John Bull must have solider fare than a Letter. We are pretty stout about it, have had plenty of condoling friends, but after all, we had rather it should have succeeded. You will see the Prologue in most of the Morning Papers. It was received with such shouts as I never witness'd to a Prologue. It was attempted to be encored. How hard! a thing I did merely as a task, because it was wanted—and set no great store by; and Mr. H.——!!

The quantity of friends we had in the house, my brother and I being in Public Offices &c., was astonishing—but they yielded at length to a few hisses. A hundred hisses—damn the word, I write it like kisses—how different—a hundred hisses outweigh a 1000 Claps. The former come more directly from the Heart—Well, 'tis withdrawn and there is an end.

Better Luck to us—

C. L.

11 Dec.—(turn over).

P.S. Pray when any of you write to the Clarksons, give our kind Loves, and say we shall not be able to come and see them at Xmas—as I shall have but a day or two,—and tell them we bear our mortification pretty well.

["Mr. H." was produced at Drury Lane on December 10, with Elliston in the title-role. Lamb's account of the evening is supplemented by Hazlitt in his essay "On Great and Little Things" and by Crabb Robinson, a new friend whom he had just made, in his Diary. See Vol. IV. of this edition. The curious thing is that the management of Drury Lane advertised the farce as a success and announced it for the next night. But Lamb apparently interfered and it was not played again. Some few years later "Mr. H." was performed acceptably in America.]



LETTER 160

CHARLES LAMB TO SARAH STODDART

December 11 [1806].

Don't mind this being a queer letter. I am in haste, and taken up by visitors, condolers, &c. God bless you!

Dear Sarah,—Mary is a little cut at the ill success of "Mr. H.," which came out last night and failed. I know you'll be sorry, but never mind. We are determined not to be cast down. I am going to leave off tobacco, and then we must thrive. A smoking man must write smoky farces.

Mary is pretty well, but I persuaded her to let me write. We did not apprise you of the coming out of "Mr. H." for fear of ill-luck. You were much better out of the house. If it had taken, your partaking of our good luck would have been one of our greatest joys. As it is, we shall expect you at the time you mentioned. But whenever you come you shall be most welcome.

God bless you, dear Sarah,

Yours most truly, C. L.

Mary is by no means unwell, but I made her let me write.

[Following this should come a letter from Mary Lamb to Mrs. Thomas Clarkson, dated December 23, 1806. It again describes the ill success of "Mr. H." "The blame rested chiefly with Charles and yet it should not be called blame for it was mere ignorance of stage effect ... he seems perfectly aware why and for what cause it failed. He intends to write one more with all his dearly bought experience in his head, and should that share same fate he will then turn his mind to some other pursuit." Lamb did not write another farce for many years. When he did—"The Pawnbroker's Daughter" (see Vol. IV.)—it deservedly was not acted.]



LETTER 161

CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM GODWIN

[No date. ? 1806.]

I repent. Can that God whom thy votaries say that thou hast demolished expect more? I did indite a splenetic letter, but did the black Hypocondria never gripe thy heart, till them hast taken a friend for an enemy? The foul fiend Flibbertigibbet leads me over four inched bridges, to course my own shadow for a traitor. There are certain positions of the moon, under which I counsel thee not to take anything written from this domicile as serious.

I rank thee with Alves, Latine Helvetius, or any of his cursed crew? Thou art my friend, and henceforth my philosopher—thou shall teach Distinction to the junior branches of my household, and Deception to the greyhaired Janitress at my door.

What! Are these atonements? Can Arcadians be brought upon knees, creeping and crouching?

Come, as Macbeth's drunken porter says, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock—seven times in a day shall thou batter at my peace, and if I shut aught against thee, save the Temple of Janus, may Briareus, with his hundred hands, in each a brass knocker, lead me such a life.

C. LAMB.

[I cannot account for this letter in the absence of its predecessor and that from Godwin to which it replies.]



LETTER 162

CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH

[Dated at end: January 29, 1807.]

Dear Wordsworth—

We have book'd off from Swan and Two Necks, Lad Lane, this day (per Coach) the Tales from Shakespear. You will forgive the plates, when I tell you they were left to the direction of Godwin, who left the choice of subjects to the bad baby, who from mischief (I suppose) has chosen one from damn'd beastly vulgarity (vide Merch. Venice) where no atom of authority was in the tale to justify it—to another has given a name which exists not in the tale, Nic Bottom, and which she thought would be funny, though in this I suspect his hand, for I guess her reading does not reach far enough to know Bottom's Xtian name—and one of Hamlet, and Grave digging, a scene which is not hinted at in the story, and you might as well have put King Canute the Great reproving his courtiers— the rest are Giants and Giantesses. Suffice it, to save our taste and damn our folly, that we left it all to a friend W. G.—who in the first place cheated me into putting a name to them, which I did not mean, but do not repent, and then wrote a puff about their simplicity, &c., to go with the advertisement as in my name! Enough of this egregious dupery.—I will try to abstract the load of teazing circumstances from the Stories and tell you that I am answerable for Lear, Macbeth, Timon, Romeo, Hamlet, Othello, for occasionally a tail piece or correction of grammar, for none of the cuts and all of the spelling. The rest is my Sister's.—We think Pericles of hers the best, and Othello of mine—but I hope all have some good. As You Like It we like least.

So much, only begging you to tear out the cuts and give them to Johnny, as "Mrs. Godwin's fancy."

C. L.

Thursday, 29 Jan., 1807.

Our Love to all.

I had almost forgot,

My part of the Preface begins in the middle of a sentence, in last but one page after a colon thus

:—which if they be happily so done &c.

the former part hath a more feminine turn and does hold me up something as an instructor to young Ladies: but upon my modesty's honour I wrote it not.

Godwin told My Sister that the Baby chose the Subjects. A fact in Taste.

[Lamb has run his pen lightly through "God bless me," at the beginning of the postscript.

The plates to the Tales from Shakespear will be found reproduced in facsimile in Vol. III. of my large edition. They were designed probably by Mulready.

An interval of nine months occurs before we come to another letter of the date of which we can be certain. Of what happened in this time, we know little or nothing, but I think it probable that the following hitherto unpublished letter from Charles Lamb to the Clarksons explains part of the long silence. The postmark gives no year, but it must be either 1807 or 1808, and since the Dramatic Specimens herein referred to as in preparation were published in 1808, we may confidently assume it to be 1807. The letter tells its own story only too clearly: the Lambs had been on a visit to the Clarksons at Bury St. Edmunds; Mary Lamb had again fallen ill while there; and her brother had just left her once more at her Hoxton Asylum.]



LETTER 163

CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS AND CATHERINE CLARKSON

[P.M. June (1807).]

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Clarkson, you will wish to know how we performed our journey. My sister was tolerably quiet until we got to Chelmsford, where she began to be very bad indeed, as your friends William Knight and his family can tell you when you see them. What I should have done without their kindness I don't know, but among other acts of great attention, they provided me with a waistcoat to confine her arms, by the help of which we went through the rest of our journey. But sadly tired and miserably depressed she was before we arrived at Hoxton. We got there about half past eight; and now 'tis all over, I have great satisfaction that she is among people who have been used to her. In all probability a few months or even weeks will restore her (her last illness confined her ten weeks) but if she does recover I shall be very careful how I take her so far from home again. I am so fatigued, for she talked in the most wretched desponding way conceivable, particularly the last three stages, she talked all the way,—so that you won't expect me to say much, or even to express myself as I should do in thanks for your kindnesses. My sister will acknowledge them when she can.—

I shall not have heard how she is to day until too late for the Post, but if any great change takes place for better or worse, I shall certainly let you know.

She tells me something about having given away one of my coats to your servant. It is a new one, and perhaps may be of small use to him. If you can get it me again, I shall very willingly give him a compensation. I shall also be much obliged by your sending in a parcel all the manuscripts, books &c. she left behind. I want in particular the Dramatic Extracts, as my purpose is to make use of the remainder of my holydays in completing them at the British Museum, which will be employment & money in the end.

I am exceedingly harrassed with the journey, but that will go off in a day or two, and I will set to work. I know you will grieve for us, but I hope my sister's illness is not worse than many she has got through before. Only I am afraid the fatigue of the journey may affect her general health. You shall have notice how she goes on. In the mean time, accept our kindest thanks.

[Signature cut off.]



LETTER 164

MARY LAMB TO SARAH STODDART

[No date. Endorsed Oct., 1807.]

My dear Sarah,—I am two letters in your debt; but it has not been so much from idleness, as a wish first to see how your comical love affair would turn out. You know, I make a pretence not to interfere; but like all old maids I feel a mighty solicitude about the event of love stories. I learn from the Lover that he has not been so remiss in his duty as you supposed. His Effusion, and your complaints of his inconstancy, crossed each other on the road. He tells me his was a very strange letter, and that probably it has affronted you. That it was a strange letter I can readily believe; but that you were affronted by a strange letter is not so easy for me to conceive, that not being your way of taking things. But however it be, let some answer come, either to him, or else to me, showing cause why you do not answer him. And pray, by all means, preserve the said letter, that I may one day have the pleasure of seeing how Mr. Hazlitt treats of love.

I was at your brother's on Thursday. Mrs. S. tells me she has not written, because she does not like to put you to the expense of postage. They are very well. Little Missy thrives amazingly. Mrs. Stoddart conjectures she is in the family way again; and those kind of conjectures generally prove too true. Your other sister-in-law, Mrs. Hazlitt, was brought to bed last week of a boy: so that you are likely to have plenty of nephews and nieces.

Yesterday evening we were at Rickman's; and who should we find there but Hazlitt; though, if you do not know it was his first invitation there, it will not surprise you as much as it did us. We were very much pleased, because we dearly love our friends to be respected by our friends.

The most remarkable events of the evening were, that we had a very fine pine-apple; that Mr. Phillips, Mr. Lamb, and Mr. Hazlitt played at Cribbage in the most polite and gentlemanly manner possible—and that I won two rubbers at whist.

I am glad Aunty left you some business to do. Our compliments to her and your Mother. Is it as cold at Winterslow as it is here? How do the Lions go on? I am better, and Charles is tolerably well. Godwin's new Tragedy will probably be damned the latter end of next week. Charles has written the Prologue. Prologues and Epilogues will be his death. If you know the extent of Mrs. Reynolds' poverty, you will be glad to hear Mr. Norris has got ten pounds a year for her from the Temple Society. She will be able to make out pretty well now.

Farewell—Determine as wisely as you can in regard to Hazlitt; and, if your determination is to have him, Heaven send you many happy years together. If I am not mistaken, I have concluded letters on the Corydon Courtship with this same wish. I hope it is not ominous of change; for if I were sure you would not be quite starved to death, nor beaten to a mummy, I should like to see Hazlitt and you come together, if (as Charles observes) it were only for the joke sake.

Write instantly to me.

Yours most affectionately, M. LAMB.

Saturday morning.

[The reference to Godwin's tragedy, "Faulkener," which was produced on December 16, 1807, would indicate a later date, except that that play was so frequently postponed.

The Lover this time is, at last, William Hazlitt. Miss Stoddart was not his first love; some time before he had wished to marry a Miss Railton of Liverpool; then, in the Lakes, he had had passages with a farmer's daughter involving a ducking at the hands of jealous rivals; while De Quincey would have us believe that Hazlitt proposed to Dorothy Wordsworth. But it was Sarah Stoddart whom he was destined to marry. A specimen of Hazlitt's love letters (which Mary Lamb wished to see) will be found in Mr. W. C. Hazlitt's Memoirs of William Hazlitt, Vol. I., page 153. The marriage turned out anything but a joke.

Mrs. Reynolds' poverty was in later years further relieved by an annuity of L30 from Charles Lamb.]



LETTER 165

MARY LAMB TO SARAH STODDART Dec. 21, 1807.

My dear Sarah,—I have deferred answering your last letter, in hopes of being able to give you some intelligence that might be useful to you; for I every day expected that Hazlitt or you would communicate the affair to your brother; but, as the Doctor is silent upon the subject, I conclude he yet knows nothing of the matter. You desire my advice; and therefore I tell you I think you ought to tell your brother as soon as possible; for, at present, he is on very friendly visiting terms with Hazlitt, and, if he is not offended by a too long concealment, will do every thing in his power to serve you. If you chuse that I should tell him, I will; but I think it would come better from you. If you can persuade Hazlitt to mention it, that would be still better; for I know your brother would be unwilling to give credit to you, because you deceived yourself in regard to Corydon. Hazlitt, I know, is shy of speaking first; but I think it of such great importance to you to have your brother friendly in the business, that, if you can overcome his reluctance, it would be a great point gained. For you must begin the world with ready money—at least an hundred pound; for, if you once go into furnished lodgings, you will never be able to lay by money to buy furniture.

If you obtain your brother's approbation, he might assist you, either by lending or otherwise. I have a great opinion of his generosity, where he thinks it would be useful.

Hazlitt's brother is mightily pleased with the match; but he says you must have furniture, and be clear in the world at first setting out, or you will be always behindhand. He also said he would give you what furniture he could spare. I am afraid you can bring but few things away from your house. What a pity that you have laid out so much money on your cottage!—that money would have just done. I most heartily congratulate you on having so well got over your first difficulties; and, now that it is quite settled, let us have no more fears. I now mean not only to hope and wish, but to persuade myself, that you will be very happy together.

Endeavour to keep your mind as easy as you can. You ought to begin the world with a good stock of health and spirits: it is quite as necessary as ready money at first setting out. Do not teize yourself about coming to town. When your brother learns how things are going on, we shall consult him about meetings and so forth; but, at present, any hasty step of that kind would not answer, I know. If Hazlitt were to go down to Salisbury, or you were to come up here, without consulting your brother, you know it would never do.

Charles is just come in to dinner; he desires his love and best wishes.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

Monday morning.

[Our next letter shows that when Dr. Stoddart was at length told of the engagement he resented it.

We now come to two curious letters from Charles Lamb to Joseph Hume, not available for this edition, which are printed by Mr. W. C. Hazlitt in Lamb and Hazlitt. The first, dated December 29, 1807, contains the beginning of an elaborate hoax maintained by Lamb and Hume (who was Joseph Hume, a clerk in the Victualling Office at Somerset House, and the author of a translation of Tasso), in which Hazlitt, although the victim, played his part. Lamb asserts that Hazlitt has cut his throat. He also incidentally regrets that he cannot accept an invitation to dine with Hume: "Cold bones of mutton and leather-roasted potatoes at Pimlico at ten must carry it away from a certain Turkey and contingent plumb-pudding at Montpelier at four (I always spell plumb-pudding with a b, p-l-u-m-b—) I think it reads fatter and more suetty."

In reply to this letter came one from Hume, dated January 11, 1808, referring to a humble petition and remonstrance by Hazlitt, dated January 10, 1808, showing that he is not dead. The petition will be found in full in Lamb and Hazlitt. It ends thus:—

"With all the sincerity of a man doubtful between life and death, the petitioner declares that he looks upon the said Charles Lamb as the ring-leader in this unjust conspiracy against him, and as the sole cause and author of the jeopardy he is in: but that as losers have leave to speak, he must say, that, if it were not for a poem he wrote on Tobacco about two years ago, a farce called Mr. H——- he brought out last winter with more wit than discretion in it, some prologues and epilogues he has since written with good success, and some lively notes he is at present writing on dead authors, he sees no reason why he should not be considered as much a dead man as himself, and the undertaker spoken to accordingly."

The next letter, dated January 12, 1808, carrying on the joke, consists of speculations as to Hazlitt's reappearance. Lamb remarks that the commonest reason for the return of the spirits of the dead is the desire to reveal hidden treasures which they had hoarded in their lifetime. He destroys this theory in the case of Hazlitt in the following passage:—

"I for my part always looked upon our dear friend as a man rich rather in the gifts of his mind than in earthly treasures. He had few rents or comings in, that I was ever aware of, small (if any) landed property, and by all that I could witness he subsisted more upon the well-timed contributions of a few chosen friends who knew his worth, than upon any Estate which could properly be called his own. I myself have contributed my part. God knows, I speak not this in reproach. I have never taken, nor indeed did the Deceased offer, any written acknowledgments of the various sums which he has had of me, by which I could make the fact manifest to the legal eye of an Executor or Administrator. He was not a Man to affect these niceties in his transactions with his friends. He would often say, Money was nothing between intimate acquaintances, that Golden Streams had no Ebb, that a Purse mouth never regorged, that God loved a chearful giver but the Devil hated a free taker, that a paid Loan makes angels groan, with many such like sayings: he had always free and generous notions about money. His nearest friends know this best."

Continuing the subject of the return of Spirits, Lamb decides that it must be with the wish to establish some speculative point in religion. "But whatever the cause of this re-appearance may prove to be, we may now with truth assert that our deceased friend has attained to one object of his pursuits, one hour's separate existence gives a dead man clearer notions of metaphysics than all the treatises which in his state of casual entanglement the least immersed spirit can out-spin. It is good to leave such subjects to that period when we shall have no Heads to ache, no brains to distort, no faces to lengthen, no clothes to neglect."]



LETTER 166

MARY LAMB TO SARAH STODDART [P.M. February 12, 1808.]

My dear Sarah,—I have sent your letter and drawing off to Wm. Hazlitt's father's in Shropshire, where I conjecture Hazlitt is. He left town on Saturday afternoon, without telling us where he was going. He seemed very impatient at not hearing from you. He was very ill and I suppose is gone home to his father's to be nursed.

I find Hazlitt has mentioned to you an intention which we had of asking you up to town, which we were bent on doing, but having named it since to your brother, the Doctor expressed a strong desire that you should not come to town to be at any other house than his own, for he said that it would have a very strange appearance. His wife's father is coming to be with them till near the end of April, after which time he shall have full room for you. And if you are to be married, he wishes that you should be married with all the proper decorums, from his house. Now though we should be willing to run any hazards of disobliging him, if there were no other means of your and Hazlitt's meeting, yet as he seems so friendly to the match, it would not be worth while to alienate him from you and ourselves too, for the slight accommodation which the difference of a few weeks would make, provided always, and be it understood, that if you, and H. make up your minds to be married before the time in which you can be at your brother's, our house stands open and most ready at a moment's notice to receive you. Only we would not quarrel unnecessarily with your brother. Let there be a clear necessity shewn, and we will quarrel with any body's brother. Now though I have written to the above effect, I hope you will not conceive, but that both my brother & I had looked forward to your coming with unmixed pleasure, and we are really disappointed at your brother's declaration, for next to the pleasure of being married, is the pleasure of making, or helping marriages forward.

We wish to hear from you, that you do not take the seeming change of purpose in ill part; for it is but seeming on our part; for it was my brother's suggestion, by him first mentioned to Hazlitt, and cordially approved by me; but your brother has set his face against it, and it is better to take him along with us, in our plans, if he will good-naturedly go along with us, than not.

The reason I have not written lately has been that I thought it better to leave you all to the workings of your own minds in this momentous affair, in which the inclinations of a bye-stander have a right to form a wish, but not to give a vote.

Being, with the help of wide lines, at the end of my last page, I conclude with our kind wishes, and prayers for the best.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

H.'s direction is (if he is there) at Wem in Shropshire. I suppose as letters must come to London first, you had better inclose them, while he is there, for my brother in London.

[The drawing referred to, says Mr. W.C. Hazlitt, was a sketch of Middleton Cottage, Miss Stoddart's house at Winterslow (see next letter).]



LETTER 167

CHARLES LAMB TO THE REV. W. HAZLITT

Temple, 18th February, 1808.

Sir,—I am truly concerned that any mistake of mine should have caused you uneasiness, but I hope we have got a clue to William's absence, which may clear up all apprehensions. The people where he lodges in town have received direction from him to forward one or two of his shirts to a place called Winterslow, in the county of Hants [Wilts] (not far from Salisbury), where the lady lives whose Cottage, pictured upon a card, if you opened my letter you have doubtless seen, and though we have had no explanation of the mystery since, we shrewdly suspect that at the time of writing that Letter which has given you all this trouble, a certain son of yours (who is both Painter and Author) was at her elbow, and did assist in framing that very Cartoon which was sent to amuse and mislead us in town, as to the real place of his destination.

And some words at the back of the said Cartoon, which we had not marked so narrowly before, by the similarity of the handwriting to William's, do very much confirm the suspicion. If our theory be right, they have had the pleasure of their jest, and I am afraid you have paid for it in anxiety. But I hope your uneasiness will now be removed, and you will pardon a suspense occasioned by LOVE, who does so many worse mischiefs every day.

The letter to the people where William lodges says, moreover, that he shall be in town in a fortnight.

My sister joins in respects to you and Mrs. Hazlitt, and in our kindest remembrances and wishes for the restoration of Peggy's health.

I am, Sir, your humble serv't.,

CH. LAMB.

[The Rev. William Hazlitt, Hazlitt's father (1737-1820), was a Unitarian minister at Wem, in Shropshire, the son of an Irish Protestant. Hazlitt's mother was Grace Loftus of Wisbech, a farmer's daughter.

Sarah Stoddart's letter containing the drawing referred to had been sent by the Lambs to William Hazlitt at Wem, whereas Hazlitt, instead of seeking his father's roof as arranged, had sought his betrothed's, and had himself helped in the mystification.

Peggy was Hazlitt's only sister.]



LETTER 168

CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING

[Dated at end: 26 February, 1808.]

Dear Missionary,—Your letters from the farthest ends of the world have arrived safe. Mary is very thankful for your remembrance of her, and with the less suspicion of mercenariness, as the silk, the symbolum materiale of your friendship, has not yet appeared. I think Horace says somewhere, nox longa. I would not impute negligence or unhandsome delays to a person whom you have honoured with your confidence; but I have not heard of the silk, or of Mr. Knox, save by your letter. Maybe he expects the first advances! or it may be that he has not succeeded in getting the article on shore, for it is among the res prohibitae et non nisi smuggle-ationis via fruendae. But so it is, in the friendships between wicked men, the very expressions of their good-will cannot but be sinful. Splendida vitia at best. Stay, while I remember it—Mrs. Holcroft was safely delivered of a girl some day in last week. Mother and child doing well. Mr. Holcroft has been attack'd with severe rheumatism. They have moved to Clipstone Street. I suppose you know my farce was damned. The noise still rings in my ears. Was you ever in the pillory?—being damned is something like that. Godwin keeps a shop in Skinner Street, Snow Hill, he is turned children's bookseller, and sells penny, twopenny, threepenny, and fourpenny books. Sometimes he gets an order for the dearer sort of Books. (Mind, all that I tell you in this letter is true.) A treaty of marriage is on foot between William Hazlitt and Miss Stoddart. Something about settlements only retards it. She has somewhere about L80 a year, to be L120 when her mother dies. He has no settlement except what he can claim from the Parish. Pauper est Cinna, sed amat. The thing is therefore in abeyance. But there is love o' both sides. Little Fenwick (you don't see the connexion of ideas here, how the devil should you?) is in the rules of the Fleet. Cruel creditors! operation of iniquitous laws! is Magna Charta then a mockery? Why, in general (here I suppose you to ask a question) my spirits are pretty good, but I have my depressions, black as a smith's beard, Vulcanic, Stygian. At such times I have recourse to a pipe, which is like not being at home to a dun; he comes again with tenfold bitterness the next day.—(Mind, I am not in debt, I only borrow a similitude from others; it shows imagination.) I have done two books since the failure of my farce; they will both be out this summer. The one is a juvenile book—"The Adventures of Ulysses," intended to be an introduction to the reading of Telemachus! It is done out of the Odyssey, not from the Greek: I would not mislead you; nor yet from Pope's Odyssey, but from an older translation of one Chapman. The "Shakespear Tales" suggested the doing it. Godwin is in both those cases my bookseller. The other is done for Longman, and is "Specimens of English Dramatic Poets contemporary with Shakespear." Specimens are becoming fashionable. We have— "Specimens of Ancient English Poets," "Specimens of Modern English Poets," "Specimens of Ancient English Prose Writers," without end. They used to be called "Beauties." You have seen "Beauties of Shakespear?" so have many people that never saw any beauties in Shakespear. Longman is to print it, and be at all the expense and risk; and I am to share the profits after all deductions; i.e. a year or two hence I must pocket what they please to tell me is due to me. But the book is such as I am glad there should be. It is done out of old plays at the Museum and out of Dodsley's collection, &c. It is to have notes. So I go creeping on since I was lamed with that cursed fall from off the top of Drury-Lane Theatre into the pit, something more than a year ago. However, I have been free of the house ever since, and the house was pretty free with me upon that occasion. Damn 'em, how they hissed! It was not a hiss neither, but a sort of a frantic yell, like a congregation of mad geese, with roaring something like bears, mows and mops like apes, sometimes snakes, that hiss'd me into madness. 'Twas like St. Anthony's temptations. Mercy on us, that God should give his favourite children, men, mouths to speak with, to discourse rationally, to promise smoothly, to flatter agreeably, to encourage warmly, to counsel wisely: to sing with, to drink with, and to kiss with: and that they should turn them into mouths of adders, bears, wolves, hyenas, and whistle like tempests, and emit breath through them like distillations of aspic poison, to asperse and vilify the innocent labours of their fellow-creatures who are desirous to please them! God be pleased to make the breath stink and the teeth rot out of them all therefore! Make them a reproach, and all that pass by them to loll out their tongue at them! Blind mouths! as Milton somewhere calls them. Do you like Braham's singing? The little Jew has bewitched me. I follow him like as the boys followed Tom the Piper. He cured me of melancholy, as David cured Saul; but I don't throw stones at him, as Saul did at David in payment. I was insensible to music till he gave me a new sense. O, that you could go to the new opera of "Kais" to-night! 'Tis all about Eastern manners; it would just suit you. It describes the wild Arabs, wandering Egyptians, lying dervishes, and all that sort of people, to a hair. You needn't ha' gone so far to see what you see, if you saw it as I do every night at Drury-lane Theatre. Braham's singing, when it is impassioned, is finer than Mrs. Siddons's or Mr. Kemble's acting; and when it is not impassioned, it is as good as hearing a person of fine sense talking. The brave little Jew! Old Sergeant Hill is dead. Mrs. Rickman is in the family way. It is thought that Hazlitt will have children, if he marries Miss Stoddart. I made a pun the other day, and palmed it upon Holcroft, who grinned like a Cheshire cat. (Why do cats grin in Cheshire?—Because it was once a county palatine and the cats cannot help laughing whenever they think of it, though I see no great joke in it.) I said that Holcroft said, being asked who were the best dramatic writers of the day, "HOOK AND I." Mr. Hook is author of several pieces, "Tekeli," &c. You know what hooks and eyes are, don't you? They are what little boys do up their breeches with. Your letter had many things in it hard to be understood: the puns were ready and Swift-like; but don't you begin to be melancholy in the midst of Eastern customs! "The mind does not easily conform to foreign usages, even in trifles: it requires something that it has been familiar with." That begins one of Dr. Hawkesworth's papers in the "Adventurer," and is, I think, as sensible a remark as ever fell from the Doctor's mouth. Do you know Watford in Hertfordshire? it is a pretty village. Louisa goes to school there. They say the governess is a very intelligent managing person, takes care of the morals of the pupils, teaches them something beyond exteriors. Poor Mrs. Beaumont! Rickman's aunt, she might have been a governess (as both her nieces ate) if she had any ability or any education, but I never thought she was good for anything; she is dead and so is her nephew. He was shot in half at Monte Video, that is, not exactly in half, but as you have seen a 3 quarter picture. Stoddart is in England. White is at Christ's Hospital, a wit of the first magnitude, but had rather be thought a gentleman, like Congreve. You know Congreve's repulse which he gave to Voltaire, when he came to visit him as a literary man, that he wished to be considered only in the light of a private gentleman. I think the impertinent Frenchman was properly answered. I should just serve any member of the French institute in the same manner, that wished to be introduced to me. Bonaparte has voted 5,000 livres to Davy, the great young English chemist; but it has not arrived. Coleridge has delivered two lectures at the Royal Institution; two more were attended, but he did not come. It is thought he has gone sick upon them. He a'n't well, that's certain. Wordsworth is coming to see him. He sits up in a two pair of stairs room at the "Courier" Office, and receives visitors on his close stool. How is Mr. Ball? He has sent for a prospectus of the London Library.

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