The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5
Edited by E. V. Lucas
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Does any one read at Canton? Lord Moira is President of the Westminster Library. I suppose you might have interest with Sir Joseph Banks to get to be president of any similiar institution that should be set up at Canton. I think public reading-rooms the best mode of educating young men. Solitary reading is apt to give the headache. Besides, who knows that you do read? There are ten thousand institutions similar to the Royal Institution, which have sprung up from it. There is the London Institution, the Southwark Institution, the Russell Square Rooms Institution, &c.—College quasi Conlege, a place where people read together. Wordsworth, the great poet, is coming to town; he is to have apartments in the Mansion House. He says he does not see much difficulty in writing like Shakspeare, if he had a mind to try it. It is clear then nothing is wanting but the mind. Even Coleridge a little checked at this hardihood of assertion. Jones of Trinity, I suppose you know he is dead. Dyer came to me the other evening at 11 o'clock, when there was a large room full of company, which I usually get together on a Wednesday evening (all great men have public days), to propose to me to have my face done by a Miss Beetham (or Betham), a miniature painter, some relation to Mrs. Beetham the Profilist or Pattern Mangle woman opposite to St. Dunstan's, to put before my book of Extracts. I declined it.

Well, my dear Manning, talking cannot be infinite; I have said all I have to say; the rest is but remembrances, which we shall bear in our heads of you, while we have heads. Here is a packet of trifles nothing worth; but it is a trifling part of the world where I live; emptiness abounds. But, in fulness of affection, we remain yours,


[Manning had written in April, 1807, saying that a roll of silk was on its way to Mary Lamb. It was, however, another letter, not preserved, which mentioned Mr. Knox as the bearer.

Godwin sold books at 41 Skinner Street under his wife's name—M.J. Godwin. At first when he began, in 1805, in Hanway Street, he had used the name of Thomas Hodgkins, his manager.

"Damn 'em, how they hissed." This passage has in it the germ of Lamb's essay in The Reflector two or three years later, "On the Custom of Hissing at the Theatres" (see Vol. I.).

John Braham (?1774-1856), the great tenor and the composer of "The Death of Nelson." Lamb praised him again in his Elia essay "Imperfect Sympathies," and later wrote an amusing article on Braham's recantation of Hebraism (see "The Religion of Actors," Vol. I.). "Kais," composed by Braham and Reeve, was produced at Drury Lane, February 11, 1808.

"Old Sergeant Hill." George Hill (1716-1808), nicknamed Serjeant Labyrinth, the hero of many stories of absence-of-mind. He would have appealed to Manning on account of his mathematical abilities. He died on February 21.

"Hook and I." This pun is attributed also to others; who may very easily have made it independently. Theodore Hook was then only nineteen, but had already written "Tekeli," a melodrama, and several farces. Talfourd omits the references to breeches.

"Dr. Hawkesworth." John Hawkesworth, LL.D. (?1715-1773), the editor of Swift, a director of the East India Company, and the friend of Johnson whom he imitated in The Adventurer. He also made one of the translations of Fenelon's Telemaque, to which Lamb's Adventures of Ulysses was to serve as prologue.

James White, Lamb's friend and the author of Falstaff's Letters, was for many years a clerk in the Treasurer's office at Christ's Hospital. Later he founded an advertisement agency, which still exists.

"Congreve's repulse." The story is told by Johnson in the Lives of the Poets. Congreve "disgusted him [Voltaire] by the despicable foppery of desiring to be considered not as an author but a gentleman; to which the Frenchman replied, 'that, if he had been only a gentleman, he should not have come to visit him.'"

"Young Davy." Afterwards Sir Humphry Davy, and now one of Coleridge's correspondents. He had been awarded the Napoleon prize of 3,000 francs "for his discoveries announced in the Philosophical Transactions for the year 1807."

"Coleridge's lectures." Coleridge delivered the first on January 12, 1808, and the second on February 5. The third and fourth were eventually delivered some time before April 3. The subject was not Taste but Poetry. Coleridge's rooms over The Courier office at No. 348 Strand are described by De Quincey in his Works, Vol. II. (1863 edition), page 98.

It was Coleridge's illness that was bringing Wordsworth to town, to be followed by Southey, largely by the instrumentality of Charles and Mary Lamb. It is conjectured that Coleridge was just then more than usually in the power of drugs.

Sir Joseph Banks, as President of the Royal Society, had written a letter to the East India Company supporting Manning's wish to practise as a doctor in Canton.

The similar institutions that sprang up in imitation of the Royal Institution have all vanished, except the London Institution in Finsbury Circus.

"Writing like Shakspeare." This passage was omitted by Talfourd. He seems to have shown it to Crabb Robinson, just after Lamb's death, as one of the things that could not be published. Robinson (or Robinson's editor, Dr. Sadler), in recording the event, substitutes a dash for Wordsworth's name.

Miss Betham was Miss Mary Matilda Betham (1776-1852), afterwards a correspondent of Lamb. We shall soon meet her again. She had written a Biographical Dictionary of the Celebrated Women of Every Age and Country, 1804, and some poems. Among her sitters were Coleridge and Mrs. Coleridge. The Profilist opposite St. Dunstan's was, I take it, E. Beetham, Patent Washing-Mill Maker at 27 Fleet Street. I find this in the 1808 Directory. The shop was close to Inner Temple Lane.

[Two undated letters to Miss Betham follow, which may well belong to this time. Mr. Ernest Betham allows me to take them from his book, A House of Letters.]



[No date. ?1808.]

Dear Miss B.—I send you three Tickets which will serve the first course of C.'s Lectures, six in number, the first begins tomorrow. Excuse the cover being not or fa, is not that french? I have no writing paper.

Yours truly, C. LAMB.

N.B. It is my present, not C.'s, id. est he gave 'em me, I you.



Dear Miss Betham,—I am very sorry, but I was pre-engaged for this evening when Eliza communicated the contents of your letter. She herself also is gone to Walworth to pass some days with Miss Hays—

"G-d forbid I should pass my days with Miss H—ys"

but that is neither here nor there. We will both atone for this accident by calling upon you as early as possible.

I am setting out to engage Mr. Dyer to your Party, but what the issue of my adventure will be, cannot be known, till the wafer has closed up this note for ever.

Yours truly, C. LAMB.


[We have already met Miss Hayes. Miss Betham was a friend of Dyer, as we shall see.]



March 11, 1808.

Dear Godwin,—The giant's vomit was perfectly nauseous, and I am glad you pointed it out. I have removed the objection. To the other passages I can find no other objection but what you may bring to numberless passages besides, such as of Scylla snatching up the six men, etc., that is to say, they are lively images of shocking things. If you want a book, which is not occasionally to shock, you should not have thought of a tale which was so full of anthropophagi and wonders. I cannot alter these things without enervating the Book, and I will not alter them if the penalty should be that you and all the London booksellers should refuse it. But speaking as author to author, I must say that I think the terrible in those two passages seems to me so much to preponderate over the nauseous, as to make them rather fine than disgusting. Who is to read them, I don't know: who is it that reads Tales of Terror and Mysteries of Udolpho? Such things sell. I only say that I will not consent to alter such passages, which I know to be some of the best in the book. As an author I say to you an author, Touch not my work. As to a bookseller I say, Take the work such as it is, or refuse it. You are as free to refuse it as when we first talked of it. As to a friend I say, Don't plague yourself and me with nonsensical objections. I assure you I will not alter one more word.

[This letter refers to the proofs of Lamb's Adventures of Ulysses, his prose paraphrase for children of Chapman's translation of the Odyssey, which Mrs. Godwin was publishing. Godwin had written the following letter:—

"Skinner St., March 10, 1808.

"DEAR LAMB,—I address you with all humility, because I know you to be tenax propositi. Hear me, I entreat you, with patience.

"It is strange with what different feelings an author and a bookseller looks at the same manuscript. I know this by experience: I was an author, I am a bookseller. The author thinks what will conduce to his honour: the bookseller what will cause his commodities to sell.

"You, or some other wise man, I have heard to say, It is children that read children's books, when they are read, but it is parents that choose them. The critical thought of the tradesman put itself therefore into the place of the parent, and what the parent will condemn.

"We live in squeamish days. Amid the beauties of your manuscript, of which no man can think more highly than I do, what will the squeamish say to such expressions as these,—'devoured their limbs, yet warm and trembling, lapping the blood,' p. 10. Or to the giant's vomit, p. 14; or to the minute and shocking description of the extinguishing the giant's eye in the page following. You, I daresay, have no formed plan of excluding the female sex from among your readers, and I, as a bookseller, must consider that if you have you exclude one half of the human species.

"Nothing is more easy than to modify these things if you please, and nothing, I think, is more indispensable.

"Give me, as soon as possible, your thoughts on the matter.

"I should also like a preface. Half our customers know not Homer, or know him only as you and I know the lost authors of antiquity. What can be more proper than to mention one or two of those obvious recommendations of his works, which must lead every human creature to desire a nearer acquaintance.—

"Believe me, ever faithfully yours, W. GODWIN."

As a glance at the Adventures of Ulysses will show (see Vol. III.), Lamb did not make the alteration on pages 10 or 15 (pages 244 and 246 of Vol. III.), although the giant's vomit has disappeared. The Tales of Terror, 1801, were by Matthew Gregory Lewis, "Monk Lewis," as he was called, and the Mysteries of Udolpho, 1794, by Mrs. Radcliffe.]



[Dated at end: March 12, 1808.]

Dear Sir,—Wordsworth breakfasts with me on Tuesday morning next; he goes to Mrs. Clarkson the next day, and will be glad to meet you before he goes. Can you come to us before nine or at nine that morning? I am afraid, W. is so engaged with Coleridge, who is ill, we cannot have him in an evening. If I do not hear from you, I will expect you to breakfast on Tuesday.

Yours truly, C. LAMB. Saturday, 12 Mar., 1808.

[This is the first letter to Henry Crabb Robinson (1775-1867), whom Lamb was destined to know very intimately, and to whose Diary we are indebted for much of our information concerning the Lambs. Robinson, who was only a month younger than Lamb, had been connected with the Times as foreign correspondent and foreign editor; in November, 1809, he gave up journalism and began to keep his terms at the Middle Temple, rising in time to be leader of the Norfolk Circuit. We shall see much more of him. He knew Lamb well enough to accompany him, his sister and Hazlitt to "Mr. H." in December, 1806.

Wordsworth left on April 3, by which time Coleridge was sufficiently recovered to give two more lectures. The series closed in June. Coleridge then went to Bury St. Edmunds to see the Clarksons, and then to Grasmere, to the Wordsworths. His separation from Mrs. Coleridge had already occurred, he and his wife remaining, however, on friendly terms.]



[P.M. March 16, 1808.]

My dear Sarah,—Do not be very angry that I have not written to you. I have promised your brother to be at your wedding, and that favor you must accept as an atonement for my offences—you have been in no want of correspondence lately, and I wished to leave you both to your own inventions.

The border you are working for me I prize at a very high rate because I consider it as the last work you can do for me, the time so fast approaching when you must no longer work for your friends. Yet my old fault of giving away presents has not left me, and I am desirous of even giving away this your last gift. I had intended to have given it away without your knowledge, but I have intrusted my secret to Hazlitt, and I suppose it will not remain a secret long, so I condescend to consult you. It is to Miss Hazlitt, to whose superior claim I wish to give up my right to this precious worked border. Her brother William is her great favorite, and she would be pleased to possess his bride's last work. Are you not to give the fellow-border to one sister-in-law, and therefore has she not a just claim to it?—I never heard in the annals of weddings (since the days of Nausicaa, and she only washed her old gowns for that purpose) that the brides ever furnished the apparel of their maids. Besides, I can be completely clad in your work without it, for the spotted muslin will serve both for cap and hat (Nota bene, my hat is the same as yours) and the gown you sprigged for me has never been made up, therefore I can wear that—Or, if you like better, I will make up a new silk which Manning has sent me from China. Manning would like to hear I wore it for the first time at your wedding. It is a very pretty light colour, but there is an objection (besides not being your work and that is a very serious objection) and that is, Mrs. Hazlitt tells me that all Winterslow would be in an uproar if the bridemaid was to be dressed in anything but white, and although it is a very light colour I confess we cannot call it white, being a sort of a dead-whiteish-bloom colour; then silk, perhaps, in a morning is not so proper, though the occasion, so joyful, might justify a full dress. Determine for me in this perplexity between the sprig and the China-Manning silk. But do not contradict my whim about Miss Hazlitt having the border, for I have set my heart upon the matter: if you agree with me in this I shall think you have forgiven me for giving away your pin; and that was a mad trick, but I had many obligations and no money. I repent me of the deed, wishing I had it now to send to Miss H. with the border, and I cannot, will not, give her the Doctor's pin, for having never had any presents from gentlemen in my young days, I highly prize all they now give me, thinking my latter days are better than my former.

You must send this same border in your own name to Miss Hazlitt, which will save me the disgrace of giving away your gift, and make it amount merely to a civil refusal.

I shall have no present to give you on your marriage, nor do I expect that I shall be rich enough to give anything to baby at the first christening, but at the second, or third child's I hope to have a coral or so to spare out of my own earnings. Do not ask me to be Godmother, for I have an objection to that—but there is I believe, no serious duties attached to a bride's maid, therefore I come with a willing mind, bringing nothing with me but many wishes, and not a few hopes, and a very little of fears of happy years to come.

I am dear Sarah Yours ever most affectionately M. LAMB.

What has Charles done that nobody invites him to the wedding?

[The wedding was on May 1, 1808. Originally it was intended to perform the ceremony at Winterslow, but London was actually the place: St. Andrew's, Holborn. Mary Lamb was a bridesmaid and Charles Lamb was present. He told Southey in a letter some years after: "I was at Hazlitt's marriage, and had like to have been turned out several times during the ceremony. Anything awful makes me laugh."

The episode of Nausicaa, to which Mary Lamb refers, had just been rewritten by Charles Lamb in the Adventures of Ulysses.]



From my Desk in Leadenhall Street,

Decr 5, 1808.

Dear Dyer,—Coleridge is not so bad as your fears have represented him; it is true that he is Bury'd, altho' he is not dead; to understand this quibble you must know that he is at Bury St. Edmunds, relaxing, after the fatigues of lecturing and Londonizing. The little Rickmaness, whom you enquire after so kindly, thrives and grows apace; she is already a prattler, and 'tis thought that on some future day she may be a speaker. [This was Mrs. Lefroy.] We hold our weekly meetings still at No. 16, where altho' we are not so high as the top of Malvern, we are involved in almost as much mist. Miss B[etham]'s merit "in every point of view," I am not disposed to question, altho' I have not been indulged with any view of that lady, back, side, or front—fie! Dyer, to praise a female in such common market phrases—you who are held so courtly and so attentive. My book is not yet out, that is not my "Extracts," my "Ulysses" is, and waits your acceptance. When you shall come to town, I hope to present you both together—never think of buying the "Extracts"—half guinea books were never calculated for my friends. Those poets have started up since your departure; William Hazlitt, your friend and mine, is putting to press a collection of verses, chiefly amatory, some of them pretty enough. How these painters encroach on our province! There's Hoppner, Shee, Westall, and I don't know who besides, and Tresham. It seems on confession, that they are not at the top of their own art, when they seek to eke out their fame with the assistance of another's; no large tea-dealer sells cheese; no great silversmith sells razorstrops; it is only your petty dealers who mix commodities. If Nero had been a great Emperor, he would never have played the Violoncello! Who ever caught you, Dyer, designing a landscape, or taking a likeness? I have no more to add, who am the friend of virtue, poetry, painting, therefore in an especial manner,

Unalterably Thine C. LAMB.



December 10th, 1808.

My dear Sarah,—I hear of you from your brother; but you do not write yourself, nor does Hazlitt. I beg that one or both of you will amend this fault as speedily as possible, for I am very anxious to hear of your health. I hope, as you say nothing about your fall to your brother, you are perfectly recovered from the effects of it.

You cannot think how very much we miss you and H. of a Wednesday evening. All the glory of the night, I may say, is at an end. Phillips makes his jokes, and there is no one to applaud him; Rickman argues, and there is no one to oppose him.

The worst miss of all to me is, that, when we are in the dismals, there is now no hope of relief from any quarter whatsoever. Hazlitt was most brilliant, most ornamental, as a Wednesday-man; but he was a more useful one on common days, when he dropt in after a quarrel or a fit of the glooms. The Skeffington is quite out now, my brother having got drunk with claret and Tom Sheridan. This visit, and the occasion of it, is a profound secret, and therefore I tell it to nobody but you and Mrs. Reynolds. Through the medium of Wroughton, there came an invitation and proposal from T.S., that C.L. should write some scenes in a speaking pantomime, the other parts of which Tom now, and his father formerly, have manufactured between them. So, in the Christmas holydays, my brother and his two great associates, we expect, will be all three damned together: this is, I mean, if Charles's share, which is done and sent in, is accepted.

I left this unfinished yesterday, in the hope that my brother would have done it for me: his reason for refusing me was 'no exquisite reason;' for it was, because he must write a letter to Manning in three or four weeks, and therefore he could not be always writing letters, he said. I wanted him to tell your husband about a great work which Godwin is going to publish, to enlighten the world once more, and I shall not be able to make out what it is. He (Godwin) took his usual walk one evening, a fortnight since, to the end of Hatton Garden and back again. During that walk, a thought came into his mind, which he instantly set down and improved upon, till he brought it, in seven or eight days, into the compass of a reasonable sized pamphlet. To propose a subscription to all well disposed people, to raise a certain sum of money, to be expended in the care of a cheap monument for the former and the future great dead men,—the monument to be a white cross, with a wooden slab at the end, telling their names and qualifications. This wooden slab and white cross to be perpetuated to the end of time. To survive the fall of empires and the destruction of cities by means of a map, which was, in case of an insurrection among the people, or any other cause by which a city or country may be destroyed, to be carefully preserved; and then, when things got again into their usual order, the white-cross-wooden-slab-makers were to go to work again, and set them in their former places. This, as nearly as I can tell you, is the sum and substance of it, but it is written remarkably well, in his very best manner; for the proposal (which seems to me very like throwing salt on a sparrow's tail to catch him) occupies but half a page, which is followed by very fine writing on the benefits he conjectures would follow if it were done. Very excellent thoughts on death, and on our feelings concerning dead friends, and the advantages an old country has over a new one, even in the slender memorials we have of great men who once flourished.

Charles is come home, and wants his dinner; and so the dead men must be no more thought on: tell us how you go on, and how you like Winterslow and winter evenings.

Noales [Knowles] has not got back again, but he is in better spirits. John Hazlitt was here on Wednesday, very sober.

Our love to Hazlitt.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.



(Added to same letter)


There came this morning a printed prospectus from S.T. Coleridge, Grasmere, of a weekly paper, to be called The Friend—a flaming prospectus—I have no time to give the heads of it—to commence first Saturday in January. There came also a notice of a Turkey from Mr. Clarkson, which I am more sanguine in expecting the accomplishment of than I am of Coleridge's prophecy.


["The Skeffington." Referring probably to some dramatic scheme in which Sir Lumley Skeffington, an amateur playwright, had tried to engage Lamb's pen. Lamb's share of the speaking pantomime for the Sheridans has vanished. We do not even know if it were ever accepted.

The late Mr. Charles Kent, in his Centenary Edition of Lamb's works, printed a comic opera, said, on the authority of P.G. Patmore, to be Lamb's, and identified it with the experiment mentioned by Mary Lamb. But an examination of the manuscript, which is in the British Museum, convinces me that the writing is not Lamb's, while the matter has nothing characteristic in it. Tom Sheridan, by the way, was just a month younger than Lamb.

Noales was probably James Sheridan Knowles (1784-1862), the dramatist, a protege of Hazlitt's father. We shall meet him again in the correspondence. After serving as a soldier and practising medicine he had gone on the stage. Several years later he became one of Lamb's friends.

The Friend, which probably had been in Coleridge's thoughts for some time, was announced to begin on the first Saturday in January. Lamb's scepticism was justified; the first number came out on June 1.]



[P.M. Dec. (10), 1808.]

My dear Mrs. Clarkson—I feel myself greatly indebted to Mr. Clarkson for his care about our direction, since it has procured us the pleasure of a line from you. Why are we all, my dear friend, so unwilling to sit down and write a letter when we all so well know the great satisfaction it is to hear of the welfare of an absent friend? I began to think that you and all I connect in my mind with you were gone from us for ever—Coleridge in a manner gave us up when he was in town, and we have now lost all traces of him. At the time he was in town I received two letters from Miss Wordsworth, which I never answered because I would not complain to her of our old friend. As this has never been explained to her it must seem very strange, more particularly so, as Miss Hutchinson & Mrs. Wordsworth were in an ill state of health at the time. Will you some day soon write a few words just to tell me how they all are and all you know concerning them?

Do not imagine that I am now complaining to you of Coleridge. Perhaps we are both in fault, we expect too much, and he gives too little. We ought many years ago to have understood each other better. Nor is it quite all over with us yet, for he will some day or other come in with the same old face, and receive (after a few spiteful words from me) the same warm welcome as ever. But we could not submit to sit as hearers at his lectures and not be permitted to see our old friend when school-hours were over. I beg you will not let what I have said give you a moment's thought, nor pray do not mention it to the Wordsworths nor to Coleridge, for I know he thinks I am apt to speak unkindly of him. I am not good tempered, and I have two or three times given him proofs that I am not. You say you are all in your "better way," which is a very chearful hearing, for I trust you mean to include that your health is bettering too. I look forward with great pleasure to the near approach of Christmas and Mr. Clarkson. And now the turkey you are so kind as to promise us comes into my head & tells me it is so very near that if writing before then should happen to be the least irksome to you, I will be content to wait for intelligence of our old friends till I have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Clarkson in town. I ought to say this because I know at times how dreadfully irksome writing a letter is to me, even when I have no reason in the world to give why it is so, and I remember I have heard you express something of the same kind of feelings.

I try to remember something to enquire after at Bury—The lady we visited, the cherry tree Tom and I robbed, Tom my partner in the robbery (Mr. Thomas C—- I suppose now), and your Cook maid that was so kind to me, are all at present I can recollect. Of all the places I ever saw Bury has made the liveliest impression on my memory. I have a very indistinct recollection of the Lakes.

Charles joins with me in affectionate remembrances to you all, and he is more warm in his expressions of gratitude for the turkey because he is fonder of good eating than I am, though I am not amiss in that way.

God bless you my kind friends

I remain yours affectionately


Excuse this slovenly letter, if I were to write it over again I should abridge it one half.

Saturday morning No. 16 Mitre Court Buildings Inner Temple.



(Added to same letter)

We have this moment received a very chearful letter from Coleridge, who is now at Grasmere. It contains a prospectus for a new weekly publication to be called The Friend. He says they are well there, and in good spirits & that he has not been so well for a long time.

The Prospectus is of a weekly paper of a miscellaneous nature to be call'd the Friend & to come out, the first number, the first Saturday in January. Those who remember The Watchman will not be very sanguine in expecting a regular fulfillment of this Prophecy. But C. writes in delightful spirits, & if ever, he may now do this thing. I suppose he will send you a Prospectus. I had some thought of inclosing mine. But I want to shew it about. My kindest remembrance to Mr. C. & thanks for the turkey.


[Coleridge, after delivering his lectures, had gone to Bury on a visit to the Clarksons. He then passed on to Grasmere, to Wordsworth's new house, Allan Bank, and settled down to project The Friend.

Tom Clarkson, with whom Mary Lamb robbed a cherry tree, became a metropolitan magistrate. He died in 1837.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, dated February 25, 1809. It tells Lloyd where to look for Lamb when he reached town—at 16 Mitre Court Buildings, which he is leaving at Lady Day, or at 2 or 4 Inner Temple Lane. "Drury Lane Theatre is burnt to the ground." Robert Lloyd spent a short while in London in the spring of 1809 and saw the Lambs, Godwin, Captain Burney, James White and other persons. His letters to his wife describing these experiences, printed in Charles Lamb and the Lloyds, are amusingly fresh and enthusiastic.]



28th March, 1809.

Dear Manning,—I sent you a long letter by the ships which sailed the beginning of last month, accompanied with books, &c. Since I last wrote, Holcroft is dead. He died on Thursday last and is not yet buried. He has been opened by Carlisle and his heart was found completely ossified. He has had a long and severe illness. He seemed very willing to live, and to the last acted on his favorite principle of the power of the will to overcome disease. I believe his strong faith in that power kept him alive long after another person would have given him up, and the physicians all concurred in positively saying he would not live a week, many weeks before he died. The family are as well as can be expected. I told you something about Mrs. Holcroft's plans. Since her death there has been a meeting of his friends and a subscription has been mentioned. I have no doubt that she will be set agoing, and that she will be fully competent to the scheme which she proposes. Fanny bears it much better than I could have supposed. So there is one of your friends whom you will never see again! Perhaps the next fleet may bring you a letter from Martin Burney, to say that he writes by desire of Miss Lamb, who is not well enough to write herself, to inform you that her brother died on Thursday last, 14th June, &c. But I hope not. I should be sorry to give occasion to open a correspondence between Martin and you. This letter must be short, for I have driven it off to the very moment of doing up the packets; and besides, that which I refer to above is a very long one; and if you have received my books, you will have enough to do to read them. While I think on it, let me tell you we are moved. Don't come any more to Mitre Court Buildings. We are at 34, Southampton Buildings, Chancery Lane, and shall be here till about the end of May: then we remove to No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, where I mean to live and die; for I have such horror of moving, that I would not take a benefice from the King, if I was not indulged with non-residence. What a dislocation of comfort is comprised in that word moving! Such a heap of little nasty things, after you think all is got into the cart: old dredging-boxes, worn-out brushes, gallipots, vials, things that it is impossible the most necessitous person can ever want, but which the women, who preside on these occasions, will not leave behind if it was to save your soul; they'd keep the cart ten minutes to stow in dirty pipes and broken matches, to show their economy. Then you can find nothing you want for many days after you get into your new lodgings. You must comb your hair with your fingers, wash your hands without soap, go about in dirty gaiters. Was I Diogenes, I would not move out of a kilderkin into a hogshead, though the first had had nothing but small beer in it, and the second reeked claret. Our place of final destination,—I don't mean the grave, but No. 2 [4] Inner Temple Lane,—looks out upon a gloomy churchyard-like court, called Hare Court, with three trees and a pump in it. Do you know it? I was born near it, and used to drink at that pump when I was a Rechabite of six years old. If you see newspapers you will read about Mrs. Clarke. The sensation in London about this nonsensical business is marvellous. I remember nothing in my life like it. Thousands of ballads, caricatures, lives, of Mrs. Clarke, in every blind alley. Yet in the midst of this stir, a sublime abstracted dancing-master, who attends a family we know in Kensington, being asked a question about the progress of the examination in the House, inquired who Mrs. Clarke was? He had heard nothing of it. He had evaded this omnipresence by utter insignificancy! The Duke should make that man his confidential valet. I proposed locking him up, barring him the use of his fiddle and red pumps, until he had minutely perused and committed to memory the whole body of the examinations, which employed the House of Commons a fortnight, to teach him to be more attentive to what concerns the public. I think I told you of Godwin's little book, and of Coleridge's prospectus, in my last; if I did not, remind me of it, and I will send you them, or an account of them, next fleet. I have no conveniency of doing it by this. Mrs.—— grows every day in disfavour with God and man. I will be buried with this inscription over me:—"Here lies C. L., the Woman-hater"—I mean that hated ONE WOMAN: for the rest, God bless them, and when he makes any more, make 'em prettier. How do you like the Mandarinesses? Are you on some little footing with any of them? This is Wednesday. On Wednesdays is my levee. The Captain, Martin, Phillips, (not the Sheriff,) Rickman, and some more, are constant attendants, besides stray visitors. We play at whist, eat cold meat and hot potatoes, and any gentleman that chooses smokes. Why do you never drop in? You'll come some day, won't you?

C. LAMB, &c.

[Thomas Holcroft died on March 23, 1809, aged sixty-three. Mitre Court Buildings, Southampton Buildings and Inner Temple Lane (Lamb's homes) have all been rebuilt since Lamb's day.

"That word 'moving.'" Lamb later elaborated and condensed this passage, in the Elia essay "New Year's Eve": "Any alteration, on this earth of mine, in diet or in lodging, puzzles and discomposes me. My household-gods plant a terrible fixed foot, and are not rooted up without blood."

"Mrs. Clarke." Mary Anne Clarke (1776-1852), mistress of the Duke of York, Commander-in-Chief, whose reception of money from officers as a return for procuring them preferment or promising to, by her influence with the Duke, had just been exposed in Parliament, and was causing immense excitement.

"Godwin's little book." Probably the Essay on Sepulchres. But Godwin's Lives of Edward and John Phillips, Milton's nephews, appeared also at this time.

"Mrs. ——." Most probably Mrs. Godwin once more.

"Not the Sheriff." Alluding to Sir Richard Phillips, the publisher, who was elected Sheriff of London in 1807, and was knighted in 1808.

On the same day Lamb and his sister wrote a very charming joint letter to Louisa Martin, which has not yet been published. See the Preface to this volume, p. viii.]



[Dated by H. C. R.: May, 1809.]

Dear Sir,—Would you be so kind as, when you go to the Times office, to see about an Advertisement which My Landlady's Daughter left for insertion about ten days since and has not appeared, for a Governesses Place? The references are to Thorpe & Graves 18 Lower Holborn, and to M. B. 115 Oxford St. Though not anxious about attitudes, she pines for a situation. I got home tolerably well, as I hear, the other evening. It may be a warning to any one in future to ask me to a dinner party. I always disgrace myself. I floated up stairs on the Coachman's back, like Ariel; "On a bat's back I do fly, After sunset merrily."

In sobriety

I am

Yours truly


[Lamb used the simile of Ariel at least twice afterwards: at the close of the Elia essay "Rejoicings on the New Year's Coming-of-Age," and in a letter to J. V. Asbury of Enfield, the Lambs' doctor.]



[June 2, 1809.]

You may write to Hazlitt, that I will certainly go to Winterslough, as my Father has agreed to give me 5l. to bear my expences, and has given leave that I may stop till that is spent, leaving enough to defray my Carriage on the 14th July.

So far Martin has written, and further than that I can give you no intelligence, for I do not yet know Phillips's intentions; nor can I tell you the exact time when we can come; nor can I positively say we shall come at all; for we have scruples of conscience about there being so many of us. Martin says, if you can borrow a blanket or two, he can sleep on the floor, without either bed or mattress, which would save his expences at the Hut; for, if Phillips breakfasts there, he must do so too, which would swallow up all his money. And he and I have calculated that, if he has no Inn expences, he may as well spare that money to give you for a part of his roast beef.

We can spare you also just five pounds. You are not to say this to Hazlitt, lest his delicacy should be alarmed; but I tell you what Martin and I have planned, that, if you happen to be empty pursed at this time, you may think it as well to make him up a bed in the best kitchen.

I think it very probable that Phillips will come; and, if you do not like such a croud of us, for they both talk of staying a whole month, tell me so, and we will put off our visit till next summer.

The 14th July is the day Martin has fixed for coming. I should have written before, if I could have got a positive answer from them.

Thank you very much for the good work you have done for me. Mrs. Stoddart also thanks you for the gloves. How often must I tell you never to do any needle work for any body but me?

Martin Burney has been very ill, and still is very weak and pale. Mrs. Holcroft and all her children, and all her scholars, have had the measles. Your old friend, Mrs. Fenwick, is in town.

We are going to see Mrs. Martin and her daughter, Mrs. Fulton (Sarah Martin), and I expect to see there the future husband of Louisa. It will be a charming evening, doubtless.

I cannot write any more, for we have got a noble Life of Lord Nelson lent us for a short time by my poor relation the book binder, and I want to read as much of it as I can.

Yours affectionately, M. LAMB.

On reading Martin's note over again, we guess the Captain means him to stay only a fortnight. It is most likely we shall come the beginning of July. Saturday [?June 3].

[The Lambs were proposing to spend their holidays with the Hazlitts, in July, and to take Colonel Phillips and his nephew Martin Burney with them. (Or possibly it was the other Phillips.) As it happened, however, Mary Lamb was taken ill almost immediately after writing this letter, and the visit had to be postponed until September and October.

The Hut was the Winterslow inn.

"My poor relation the book binder." See the letter to Barron Field, Oct. 4, 1827.]



Dear Coleridge,—I congratulate you on the appearance of "The Friend." Your first number promises well, and I have no doubt the succeeding numbers will fulfil the promise. I had a kind letter from you some time since, which I have left unanswered. I am also obliged to you, I believe, for a review in the "Annual," am I not? The "Monthly Review" sneers at me, and asks "if 'Comus' is not good enough for Mr. Lamb?" because I have said no good serious dramas have been written since the death of Charles the First, except "Samson Agonistes"; so because they do not know, or won't remember, that "Comus" was written long before, I am to be set down as an undervaluer of Milton! O Coleridge, do kill those reviews, or they will kill us—kill all we like! Be a friend to all else, but their foe. I have been turned out of my chambers in the Temple by a landlord who wanted them for himself; but I have got other at No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, far more commodious and roomy. I have two rooms on third floor and five rooms above, with an inner staircase to myself, and all new painted, &c., and all for L30 a year! I came into them on Saturday week; and on Monday following, Mary was taken ill with fatigue of moving, and affected, I believe, by the novelty of the home; she could not sleep, and I am left alone with a maid quite a stranger to me, and she has a month or two's sad distraction to go through. What sad large pieces it cuts out of life—out of her life, who is getting rather old; and we may not have many years to live together! I am weaker, and bear it worse than I ever did. But I hope we shall be comfortable by and bye. The rooms are delicious, and the best look backwards into Hare Court, where there is a pump always going. Just now it is dry. Hare Court trees come in at the window, so that it's like living in a garden. I try to persuade myself it is much pleasanter than Mitre Court; but, alas! the household gods are slow to come in a new mansion. They are in their infancy to me; I do not feel them yet; no hearth has blazed to them yet. How I hate and dread new places!

I was very glad to see Wordsworth's book advertised; I am to have it to-morrow lent me, and if Wordsworth don't send me an order for one upon Longman, I will buy it. It is greatly extolled and liked by all who have seen it. Let me hear from some of you, for I am desolate. I shall have to send you, in a week or two, two volumes of Juvenile Poetry, done by Mary and me within the last six months, and that tale in prose which Wordsworth so much liked, which was published at Christmas, with nine others, by us, and has reached a second edition. There's for you! We have almost worked ourselves out of child's work, and I don't know what to do. Sometimes I think of a drama, but I have no head for play-making; I can do the dialogue, and that's all. I am quite aground for a plan, and I must do something for money. Not that I have immediate wants, but I have prospective ones. O money, money, how blindly thou hast been worshipped, and how stupidly abused! Thou art health, and liberty, and strength; and he that has thee may rattle his pockets at the foul fiend!

Nevertheless, do not understand by this that I have not quite enough for my occasions for a year or two to come. While I think on it, Coleridge, I fetch'd away my books which you had at the "Courier" Office, and found all but a third volume of the old plays, containing "The White Devil," "Green's Tu Quoque," and the "Honest Whore,"—perhaps the most valuable volume of them all—that I could not find. Pray, if you can, remember what you did with it, or where you took it out with you a walking perhaps; send me word; for, to use the old plea, it spoils a set. I found two other volumes (you had three), the "Arcadia," and "Daniel," enriched with manuscript notes. I wish every book I have were so noted. They have thoroughly converted me to relish Daniel, or to say I relish him, for, after all, I believe I did relish him. You well call him sober-minded. Your notes are excellent. Perhaps you've forgot them. I have read a review in the "Quarterly," by Southey, on the Missionaries, which is most masterly. I only grudge it being there. It is quite beautiful. Do remember my Dodsley; and pray do write; or let some of you write. Clarkson tells me you are in a smoky house. Have you cured it? It is hard to cure anything of smoking. Our little poems are but humble, but they have no name. You must read them, remembering they were task-work; and perhaps you will admire the number of subjects, all of children, picked out by an old Bachelor and an old Maid. Many parents would not have found so many. Have you read "Coelebs?" It has reached eight editions in so many weeks; yet literally it is one of the very poorest sort of common novels, with the draw-back of dull religion in it. Had the religion been high and flavoured, it would have been something. I borrowed this "Coelebs in Search of a Wife" of a very careful, neat lady, and returned it with this stuff written in the beginning:—

"If ever I marry a wife I'd marry a landlord's daughter, For then I may sit in the bar, And drink cold brandy-and-water."

I don't expect you can find time from your "Friend" to write to me much, but write something, for there has been a long silence. You know Holcroft is dead. Godwin is well. He has written a very pretty, absurd book about sepulchres. He was affronted because I told him it was better than Hervey, but not so good as Sir T. Browne. This letter is all about books; but my head aches, and I hardly know what I write; but I could not let "The Friend" pass without a congratulatory epistle. I won't criticise till it comes to a volume. Tell me how I shall send my packet to you?—by what conveyance?—by Longman, Short-man, or how? Give my kindest remembrances to Wordsworth. Tell him he must give me a book. My kind love to Mrs. W. and to Dorothy separately and conjointly. I wish you could all come and see me in my new rooms. God bless you all.

C. L.

[The first number of The Friend was dated June 1, 1809.

Lamb's Dramatic Specimens had been reviewed in the Annual Review for 1808, with discrimination and approval (see Vol. IV. of my large edition), but whether or not by Coleridge I do not know.

Wordsworth's book was his pamphlet on the "Convention of Cintra."

The Juvenile Poetry was Poetry for Children. Entirely Original. By the author of Mrs. Leicester's School. In two volumes, 1809. Mrs. Leicester's School, 1809, had been published a little before. Wordsworth's favourite tale was Arabella Hardy's "The Sea Voyage."

I know nothing of the annotated copy of Sidney's Arcadia. Daniel's Poetical Works, 12mo, 1718, two volumes, with marginalia by Lamb and Coleridge, is still preserved. The copy of Hannah More's Coelebs in Search of a Wife, 1809, with Lamb's verses, is not, I think, now known.

Southey's missionary article was in the first number of the Quarterly, February, 1809.

Hervey wrote Meditations among the Tombs; Sir Thomas Browne, Urn Burial.

Here should come four letters from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Senior. They are all printed in Charles Lamb and the Lloyds. The first, dated June 13, 1809, contains an interesting criticism of a translation of the twenty-fourth book of the Iliad, which Charles Lloyd, the father of Robert Lloyd, had made. Lamb says that what he misses, and misses also in Pope, is a savage-like plainness of speaking.

"The heroes in Homer are not half civilized—they utter all the cruel, all the selfish, all the mean thoughts even of their nature, which it is the fashion of our great men to keep in."

Mr. Lloyd had translated [Greek: aoidous] (line 720) "minstrels." Lamb says "minstrels I suspect to be a word bringing merely English or English ballad feelings to the Mind. It expresses the thing and something more, as to say Sarpedon was a Gentleman, or as somebody translated Paul's address, 'Ye men of Athens,' 'Gentlemen of Athens.'"

The second letter, dated June 19, 1809, continues the subject. Lamb writes: "I am glad to see you venture made and maid for rhymes. 'Tis true their sound is the same. But the mind occupied in revolving the different meaning of two words so literally the same, is diverted from the objection which the mere Ear would make, and to the mind it is rhyme enough."

In the third letter, dated July 31, 1809, Lamb remarks of translators of Homer, that Cowper delays one as much, walking over a Bowling Green, as Milton does, travelling over steep Alpine heights.

The fourth letter, undated, accompanies criticisms of Mr. Lloyd's translation of the Odyssey, Books 1 and 2, Mr. Lloyd had translated [Greek: Bous Helioio] (Book I, line 8) "Bullocks of the Sun." Lamb wrote: "OXEN of the Sun, I conjure. Bullocks is too Smithfield and sublunary a Word. Oxen of the Sun, or of Apollo, but in any case not Bullocks."

With a letter to Robert Lloyd, belonging to this year, Lamb sends Poetry for Children, and states that the poem "The Beggar Man" is by his brother, John Lamb.]



Monday, Oct. 30th, 1809.

Dear Coleridge,—I have but this moment received your letter, dated the 9th instant, having just come off a journey from Wiltshire, where I have been with Mary on a visit to Hazlitt. The journey has been of infinite service to her. We have had nothing but sunshiny days and daily walks from eight to twenty miles a-day; have seen Wilton, Salisbury, Stonehenge, &c. Her illness lasted but six weeks; it left her weak, but the country has made us whole. We came back to our Hogarth Room—I have made several acquisitions since you saw them,—and found Nos. 8, 9, 10 of "The Friend." The account of Luther in the Warteburg is as fine as anything I ever read. God forbid that a man who has such things to say should be silenced for want of L100. This Custom-and-Duty Age would have made the Preacher on the Mount take out a licence, and St. Paul's Epistles would not have been missible without a stamp. Oh, that you may find means to go on! But alas! where is Sir G. Beaumont?—Sotheby? What is become of the rich Auditors in Albemarle Street? Your letter has saddened me.

I am so tired with my journey, being up all night, I have neither things nor words in my power. I believe I expressed my admiration of the pamphlet. Its power over me was like that which Milton's pamphlets must have had on his contemporaries, who were tuned to them. What a piece of prose! Do you hear if it is read at all? I am out of the world of readers. I hate all that do read, for they read nothing but reviews and new books. I gather myself up unto the old things.

I have put up shelves. You never saw a book-case in more true harmony with the contents, than what I've nailed up in a room, which, though new, has more aptitudes for growing old than you shall often see—as one sometimes gets a friend in the middle of life, who becomes an old friend in a short time. My rooms are luxurious; one is for prints and one for books; a Summer and a Winter parlour. When shall I ever see you in them?

C. L.

[Hazlitt has given some account of the Lambs' visit to Winterslow, but the passage belongs probably to the year following. In his essay "On the Conversation of Authors" he likens Lamb in the country to "the most capricious poet Ovid among the Goths." "The country people thought him an oddity, and did not understand his jokes. It would be strange if they had, for he did not make any, while he stayed. But when he crossed the country to Oxford, then he spoke a little. He and the old colleges were hail-fellow well met; and in the quadrangles he 'walked gowned.'" Again, in "A Farewell to Essay-writing," Hazlitt says: "I used to walk out at this time with Mr. and Miss Lamb of an evening, to look at the Claude Lorraine skies over our heads melting from azure into purple and gold, and to gather mushrooms, that sprang up at our feet, to throw into our hashed mutton."

Lamb's Hogarths were framed in black. It must have been about this time that he began his essay "On the Genius of Hogarth," which was printed in The Reflector in 1811 (see Vol. I.).

The Friend lasted until No. XXVII., March 15, 1810. The account of Luther was in No. VIII., October 5, 1809. Coleridge had not been supported financially as he had hoped, and had already begun to think of stopping the paper.

Sir George Howland Beaumont (1753-1827), of Coleorton, the friend and patron of men of genius, had helped, with Sotheby, in the establishment of The Friend, and was instrumental subsequently in procuring a pension for Coleridge. William Sotheby (1757-1833), the translator and author, had received subscriptions for Coleridge's lectures.

"The rich Auditors in Albemarle Street"—those who had listened to Coleridge's lectures at the Royal Institution.

"The pamphlet." Presumably Wordsworth's "Convention of Cintra."

"You never saw a book-case." Leigh Hunt wrote of Lamb's books in the essay "My Books," in The Literary Examiner:—

"It looks like what it is, a selection made at precious intervals from the book-stalls;—now a Chaucer at nine and two-pence; now a Montaigne or a Sir Thomas Browne at two shillings; now a Jeremy Taylor, a Spinoza; an old English Dramatist, Prior, and Sir Philip Sidney; and the books are 'neat as imported.' The very perusal of the backs is a 'discipline of humanity.' There Mr. Southey takes his place again with an old Radical friend: there Jeremy Collier is at peace with Dryden: there the lion, Martin Luther, lies down with the Quaker lamb, Sewel: there Guzman d'Alfarache thinks himself fit company for Sir Charles Grandison, and has his claims admitted. Even the 'high fantastical' Duchess of Newcastle, with her laurel on her head, is received with grave honours, and not the less for declining to trouble herself with the constitutions of her maids."]



November 7th, 1809.

My dear Sarah—The dear, quiet, lazy, delicious month we spent with you is remembered by me with such regret, that I feel quite discontent & Winterslow-sick. I assure you, I never passed such a pleasant time in the country in my life, both in the house & out of it, the card playing quarrels, and a few gaspings for breath after your swift footsteps up the high hills excepted, and those drawbacks are not unpleasant in the recollection. We have got some salt butter to make our toast seem like yours, and we have tried to eat meat suppers, but that would not do, for we left our appetites behind us; and the dry loaf, which offended you, now comes in at night unaccompanied; but, sorry am I to add, it is soon followed by the pipe and the gin bottle. We smoked the very first night of our arrival.

Great news! I have just been interrupted by Mr. Daw, who comes to tell me he was yesterday elected a Royal Academician. He said none of his own friends voted for him; he got it by strangers, who were pleased with his picture of Mrs. White. Charles says he does not believe Northcote ever voted for the admission of any one. Though a very cold day, Daw was in a prodigious sweat, for joy at his good fortune.

More great news! my beautiful green curtains were put up yesterday, and all the doors listed with green baize, and four new boards put to the coal-hole, and fastening hasps put to the window, and my died Manning silk cut out.

Yesterday was an eventful day: for yesterday too Martin Burney was to be examined by Lord Eldon, previous to his being admitted as an Attorney; but he has not yet been here to announce his success.

I carried the baby-caps to Mrs. [John] Hazlitt; she was much pleased, and vastly thankful. Mr. [John] H. got fifty-four guineas at Rochester, and has now several pictures in hand.

I am going to tell you a secret, for —— says she would be sorry to have it talked of. One night —— came home from the ale-house, bringing with him a great, rough, ill-looking fellow, whom he introduced to —— as Mr. Brown, a gentleman he had hired as a mad keeper, to take care of him, at forty pounds a year, being ten pounds under the usual price for keepers, which sum Mr. Brown had agreed to remit out of pure friendship. It was with great difficulty, and by threatening to call in the aid of watchmen and constables, that —— could prevail on Mr. Brown to leave the house.

We had a good chearful meeting on Wednesday: much talk of Winterslow, its woods & its nice sun flowers. I did not so much like Phillips at Winterslow, as I now like him for having been with us at Winterslow. We roasted the last of his 'beach, of oily nut prolific,' on Friday, at the Captain's. Nurse is now established in Paradise, alias the Incurable Ward [of Westminster Hospital]. I have seen her sitting in most superb state, surrounded by her seven incurable companions. They call each other ladies. Nurse looks as if she would be considered as the first lady in the ward: only one seemed at [all] like to rival her in dignity.

A man in the India House has resigned, by which Charles will get twenty pounds a year; and White has prevailed on him to write some more lottery-puffs. If that ends in smoke, the twenty pounds is a sure card, and has made us very joyful.

I continue very well, & return you very sincere thanks for my good health and improved looks, which have almost made Mrs. Godwin die with envy; she longs to come to Winterslow as much as the spiteful elder sister did to go to the well for a gift to spit diamonds—

Jane and I have agreed to boil a round of beef for your suppers, when you come to town again. She, Jane, broke two of the Hogarth glasses while we were away—whereat I made a great noise.

Farewel. Love to William, and Charles's love and good wishes for the speedy arrival of the Life of Holcroft, & the bearer thereof.

Yours most affectionately, M. LAMB.


Charles told Mrs. Godwin, Hazlitt had found a well in his garden, which, water being scarce in your country, would bring him in two hundred a year; and she came in great haste the next morning to ask me if it were true. Your brother and his &c. are quite well.

[George Dawe had just been elected not Royal Academician but Associate. He became full R.A. in 1814.

Mrs. White was the wife of Anthony White, the surgeon, who had been apprenticed to Sir Anthony Carlisle.

Northcote was James Northcote, R.A., whose Conversations Hazlitt recorded some years later.

Martin Burney never made a successful lawyer. His life was destined to be unhappy and unprofitable, as we shall see later.

"I am going to tell you a secret." In the absence of the original these blanks cannot be filled in, nor are they important.

"Lottery puffs." See note on page 340.

"The spiteful elder sister." This story is in Grimm, I think.

"The Life of Holcroft." The Memoirs of Thomas Holcroft, begun by Holcroft and finished by Hazlitt, although completed in 1810, was not published until 1816.

Here should come a letter from Lamb to Robert Lloyd, dated January 1, 1810, thanking him for a turkey. Lamb mentions that his 1809 holiday had been spent in Wiltshire, where he saw Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge. He adds that Coleridge's Friend is occasionally sublime. This was the last letter of the correspondence. Robert Lloyd died on October 26, 1811. Lamb wrote in the Gentleman's Magazine a memoir of him, which will be found in Vol. I. of this edition.]



Jan. 2nd, 1810.

Mary sends her love.

Dear Manning,—When I last wrote to you, I was in lodgings. I am now in chambers, No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, where I should be happy to see you any evening. Bring any of your friends, the Mandarins, with you. I have two sitting-rooms: I call them so par excellence, for you may stand, or loll, or lean, or try any posture in them; but they are best for sitting; not squatting down Japanese fashion, but the more decorous use of the post——s which European usage has consecrated. I have two of these rooms on the third floor, and five sleeping, cooking, &c., rooms, on the fourth floor. In my best room is a choice collection of the works of Hogarth, an English painter of some humour. In my next best are shelves containing a small but well-chosen library. My best room commands a court, in which there are trees and a pump, the water of which is excellent—cold with brandy, and not very insipid without. Here I hope to set up my rest, and not quit till Mr. Powell, the undertaker, gives me notice that I may have possession of my last lodging. He lets lodgings for single gentlemen. I sent you a parcel of books by my last, to give you some idea of the state of European literature. There comes with this two volumes, done up as letters, of minor poetry, a sequel to "Mrs. Leicester;" the best you may suppose mine; the next best are my coadjutor's; you may amuse yourself in guessing them out; but I must tell you mine are but one-third in quantity of the whole. So much for a very delicate subject. It is hard to speak of one's self, &c. Holcroft had finished his life when I wrote to you, and Hazlitt has since finished his life—I do not mean his own life, but he has finished a life of Holcroft, which is going to press. Tuthill is Dr. Tuthill. I continue Mr. Lamb. I have published a little book for children on titles of honour: and to give them some idea of the difference of rank and gradual rising, I have made a little scale, supposing myself to receive the following various accessions of dignity from the king, who is the fountain of honour—As at first, 1, Mr. C. Lamb; 2, C. Lamb, Esq.; 3, Sir C. Lamb, Bart.; 4, Baron Lamb of Stamford;[1] 5, Viscount Lamb; 6, Earl Lamb; 7, Marquis Lamb; 8, Duke Lamb. It would look like quibbling to carry it on further, and especially as it is not necessary for children to go beyond the ordinary titles of sub-regal dignity in our own country, otherwise I have sometimes in my dreams imagined myself still advancing, as 9th, King Lamb; 10th, Emperor Lamb; 11th, Pope Innocent, higher than which is nothing but the Lamb of God. Puns I have not made many (nor punch much), since the date of my last; one I cannot help relating. A constable in Salisbury Cathedral was telling me that eight people dined at the top of the spire of the cathedral; upon which I remarked, that they must be very sharp-set. But in general I cultivate the reasoning part of my mind more than the imaginative. Do you know Kate *********. I am stuffed out so with eating turkey for dinner, and another turkey for supper yesterday (turkey in Europe and turkey in Asia), that I can't jog on. It is New-Year here. That is, it was New-Year half a-year back, when I was writing this. Nothing puzzles me more than time and space, and yet nothing puzzles me less, for I never think about them. Miss Knap is turned midwife. Never having had a child herself, she can't draw any wrong analogies from her own case. Dr. Stoddart has had Twins. There was five shillings to pay the Nurse. Mrs. Godwin was impannelled on a jury of Matrons last Sessions. She saved a criminal's life by giving it as her opinion that ——. The Judge listened to her with the greatest deference. The Persian ambassador is the principal thing talked of now. I sent some people to see him worship the sun on Primrose Hill at half past six in the morning, 28th November; but he did not come, which makes me think the old fire-worshippers are a sect almost extinct in Persia. Have you trampled on the Cross yet? The Persian ambassador's name is Shaw Ali Mirza. The common people call him Shaw Nonsense. While I think of it, I have put three letters besides my own three into the India post for you, from your brother, sister, and some gentleman whose name I forget. Will they, have they, did they, come safe? The distance you are at, cuts up tenses by the root. I think you said you did not know Kate *********, I express her by nine stars, though she is but one, but if ever one star differed from another in glory—. You must have seen her at her father's. Try and remember her. Coleridge is bringing out a paper in weekly numbers, called the "Friend," which I would send, if I could; but the difficulty I had in getting the packets of books out to you before deters me; and you'll want something new to read when you come home. It is chiefly intended to puff off Wordsworth's poetry; but there are some noble things in it by the by. Except Kate, I have had no vision of excellence this year, and she passed by like the queen on her coronation day; you don't know whether you saw her or not. Kate is fifteen: I go about moping, and sing the old pathetic ballad I used to like in my youth—

"She's sweet Fifteen, I'm one year more."

Mrs. Bland sung it in boy's clothes the first time I heard it. I sometimes think the lower notes in my voice are like Mrs. Eland's. That glorious singer Braham, one of my lights, is fled. He was for a season. He was a rare composition of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel, yet all these elements mixed up so kindly in him, that you could not tell which predominated; but he is gone, and one Phillips is engaged instead. Kate is vanished, but Miss B ****** is always to be met with!

"Queens drop away, while blue-legg'd Maukin thrives; And courtly Mildred dies while country Madge survives."

That is not my poetry, but Quarles's; but haven't you observed that the rarest things are the least obvious? Don't show anybody the names in this letter. I write confidentially, and wish this letter to be considered as private. Hazlitt has written a grammar for Godwin; Godwin sells it bound up with a treatise of his own on language, but the grey mare is the better horse. I don't allude to Mrs. Godwin, but to the word grammar, which comes near to grey mare, if you observe, in sound. That figure is called paranomasia in Greek. I am sometimes happy in it. An old woman begged of me for charity. "Ah! sir," said she, "I have seen better days;" "So have I, good woman," I replied; but I meant literally, days not so rainy and overcast as that on which she begged: she meant more prosperous days. Mr. Dawe is made associate of the Royal Academy. By what law of association I can't guess. Mrs. Holcroft, Miss Holcroft, Mr. and Mrs. Godwin, Mr. and Mrs. Hazlitt, Mrs. Martin and Louisa, Mrs. Lum, Capt. Burney, Mrs. Burney, Martin Burney, Mr. Rickman, Mrs. Rickman, Dr. Stoddart, William Dollin, Mr. Thompson, Mr. and Mrs. Norris, Mr. Fenwick, Mrs. Fenwick, Miss Fenwick, a man that saw you at our house one day, and a lady that heard me speak of you; Mrs. Buffam that heard Hazlitt mention you, Dr. Tuthill, Mrs. Tuthill, Colonel Harwood, Mrs. Harwood, Mr. Collier, Mrs. Collier, Mr. Sutton, Nurse, Mr. Fell, Mrs. Fell, Mr. Marshall, are very well, and occasionally inquire after you. [Rest cut away.]

[Footnote 1: Where my family come from. I have chosen that if ever I should have my choice.]

["I have published a little book." This was, of course, an invention. In the Elia essay on "Poor Relations" Lamb says that his father's boyhood was spent at Lincoln, and in Susan Yates' story in Mrs. Leicester's School we see the Lincolnshire fens, but of the history of the family we know nothing, I fancy Stamford is a true touch.

"The Persian ambassador." A portrait of this splendid person is preserved at the India Office. Leigh Hunt says that Dyer was among the pilgrims to Primrose Hill.

"Kate *********." I have not identified this young lady.

"The old pathetic ballad." I have not found this.

"Mrs. Bland." Maria Theresa Bland (1769-1838), a Jewess, and a mezzo-soprano famous in simple ballads, who was connected with Drury Lane for many years.

"Braham is fled." Braham did not sing in London in 1810, but joined Mrs. Billington in a long provincial tour. Phillips was Thomas Philipps (1774-1841), singer and composer.

"Miss B ******." Miss Burrell. See note to letter of Feb. 18, 1818.

"Not my poetry, but Quarles's." In "An Elegie," Stanza 16. Lamb does not quote quite correctly.

"Hazlitt's grammar." A New and Improved Grammar of the English Tongue ... By William Hazlitt, to which is added A New Guide to the English Tongue by E[dward] Baldwin (William Godwin). Published by M. J. Godwin. 1810.

"A woman begged of me." Lamb told this story at the end of his Elia essay "A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars," in the London Magazine, June, 1822, but the passage was not reprinted in book form. See Vol. II. of this edition.

George Dawe was made A.R.A. in 1809, not R.A. until 1814.

Of the friends on Lamb's list we have already met several. Mr. and Mrs. Norris were the Randal Norrises. Dr. Stoddart having left Malta was now practising in Doctors Commons. Mr. and Mrs. Collier were the John Dyer Colliers, the parents of John Payne Collier, who introduced Lamb to Henry Crabb Robinson. Both Colliers were journalists. Thompson may be Marmaduke Thompson of Christ's Hospital. We meet some Buffams later, in the Moxon correspondence. Mr. Marshall was Godwin's friend. Of Mrs. Lum, Mr. Dollin, Colonel and Mrs. Harwood, and Mr. Sutton, I know nothing.]



[Dated by H. C. R. Feb. 7, 1810.]

Dr R.—My Brother whom you have met at my rooms (a plump good looking man of seven and forty!) has written a book about humanity, which I transmit to you herewith. Wilson the Publisher has put it in his head that you can get it Reviewed for him. I dare say it is not in the scope of your Review—but if you could put it in any likely train, he would rejoyce. For alas! our boasted Humanity partakes of Vanity. As it is, he teazes me to death with chusing to suppose that I could get it into all the Reviews at a moment's notice—I!! who have been set up as a mark for them to throw at, and would willingly consign them all to Hell flames and Megaera's snaky locks.

But here's the Book—and don't shew it Mrs. Collier, for I remember she makes excellent Eel soup, and the leading points of the Book are directed against that very process.

Yours truly C. LAMB.

At Home to-night—Wednesday [February 7].

[Addressed to "Henry Robinson, Esq., 56 Hatton Garden, 'with a Treatise on Cruelty to Animals.'"

Lamb's brother, John Lamb, who was born in 1763, was now Accountant of the South-Sea House. His character is described by Lamb in the Elia essay "My Relations," where he figures as James Elia. Robinson's Diary later frequently expresses Robinson's dislike of his dogmatic ways.

The pamphlet has been identified by Mr. L.S. Livingston as A Letter to the Right Hon. William Windham, on his opposition to Lord Erskine's Bill for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It was published by Maxwell & Wilson at 17 Skinner Street in 1810. No author's name is given. One copy only is known, and that is in America, and the owner declines to permit it to be reprinted. The particular passage referring to eel pie runs thus:—

"If an eel had the wisdom of Solomon, he could not help himself in the ill-usage that befalls him; but if he had, and were told, that it was necessary for our subsistence that he should be eaten, that he must be skinned first, and then broiled; if ignorant of man's usual practice, he would conclude that the cook would so far use her reason as to cut off his head first, which is not fit for food, as then he might be skinned and broiled without harm; for however the other parts of his body might be convulsed during the culinary operations, there could be no feeling of consciousness therein, the communication with the brain being cut off; but if the woman were immediately to stick a fork into his eye, skin him alive, coil him up in a skewer, head and all, so that in the extremest agony he could not move, and forthwith broil him to death: then were the same Almighty Power that formed man from the dust, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, to call the eel into a new existence, with a knowledge of the treatment he had undergone, and he found that the instinctive disposition which man has in common with other carnivorous animals, which inclines him to cruelty, was not the sole cause of his torments; but that men did not attend to consider whether the sufferings of such insignificant creatures could be lessened: that eels were not the only sufferers; that lobsters and other shell fish were put into cold water and boiled to death by slow degrees in many parts of the sea coast; that these, and many other such wanton atrocities, were the consequence of carelessness occasioned by the pride of mankind despising their low estate, and of the general opinion that there is no punishable sin in the ill-treatment of animals designed for our use; that, therefore, the woman did not bestow so much thought on him as to cut his head off first, and that she would have laughed at any considerate person who should have desired such a thing; with what fearful indignation might he inveigh against the unfeeling metaphysician that, like a cruel spirit alarmed at the appearance of a dawning of mercy upon animals, could not rest satisfied with opposing the Cruelty Prevention Bill by the plea of possible inconvenience to mankind, highly magnified and emblazoned, but had set forth to the vulgar and unthinking of all ranks, in the jargon of proud learning, that man's obligations of morality towards the creatures subjected to his use are imperfect obligations!"

Robinson's review was, I imagine, The London Review, founded by Richard Cumberland in February, 1809, which, however, no longer existed, having run its brief course by November, 1809.

"Megaera's snaky locks." From Paradise Lost, X., 559:—

and up the trees Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks That curl'd Megaera.

Here should come another letter from Lamb to Charles Lloyd, Senior, dated March 10, 1810. It refers to Mr. Lloyd's translation of the first seven books of the Odyssey and is accompanied by a number of criticisms. Lamb advises Mr. Lloyd to complete the Odyssey, adding that he would prize it for its Homeric plainness and truths above the confederate jumble of Pope, Broom and Fenton which goes under Pope's name and is far inferior to his Iliad. Among the criticisms is one on Mr. Lloyd's use of the word "patriotic," in which Lamb says that it strikes his ears as being too modern; adding that in English few words of more than three syllables chime well into a verse. The word "sentiment" calls from him the remark that he would root it out of a translation of Homer. "It came in with Sterne, and was a child he had by Affectation."]



[April 9th, 1810.]

Dear Gutch,—I did not see your brother, who brought me Wither; but he understood, he said, you were daily expecting to come to town: this has prevented my writing. The books have pleased me excessively: I should think you could not have made a better selection. I never saw "Philarete" before—judge of my pleasure. I could not forbear scribbling certain critiques in pencil on the blank leaves. Shall I send them, or may I expect to see you in town? Some of them are remarks on the character of Wither and of his writings. Do you mean to have anything of that kind? What I have said on "Philarete" is poor, but I think some of the rest not so bad: perhaps I have exceeded my commission in scrawling over the copies; but my delight therein must excuse me, and pencil-marks will rub out. Where is the Life? Write, for I am quite in the dark. Yours, with many thanks,


Perhaps I could digest the few critiques prefixed to the Satires, Shepherds Hunting, &c., into a short abstract of Wither's character and works, at the end of his Life. But, may be, you don't want any thing, and have said all you wish in the Life.

[John Mathew Gutch (1776-1861), whom we have met before, was at this time living at Bristol, where he owned, edited and printed Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. He had been printing for his own pleasure an edition of George Wither's poems, which he had sent to Lamb for his opinion, intending ultimately to edit Wither fully. Lamb returned the volumes with a number of comments, many of which he afterwards incorporated in his essay "On the poetry of George Wither," printed in his Works in 1818. Gutch subsequently handed the volumes to his friend Dr. John Nott of the Hot Wells, Bristol, who had views of his own upon Wither, and who commented in his turn on the poet and on Lamb's criticism of the poet. In course of time the volumes fell into Lamb's hands again, when Nott's comments on Wither and on Lamb received treatment. They were ultimately given by Lamb to his friend Brook Pulham of the India House (who made the caricature etching of "AElia") and are now in the possession of Mr. A.C. Swinburne, who told the story of the book in the Nineteenth Century for January, 1885, reprinted in his Miscellanies, 1886. Some passages from that article will be found in the notes to Lamb's essay on Wither in Vol. I. of the present edition. The last word was with Nott, for when Gutch printed a three- or four-volume edition of Wither in 1820, under Nott's editorship, many of Lamb's best things were included as Nott's.]



Mr. Hazlitt's: Winterslow, near Sarum, 12th July, 1810.

Dear [Montagu],—I have turned and twisted the MSS. in my head, and can make nothing of them. I knew when I took them that I could not; but I do not like to do an act of ungracious necessity at once; so I am ever committing myself by half engagements and total failures. I cannot make any body understand why I can't do such things. It is a defect in my occiput. I cannot put other people's thoughts together; I forget every paragraph as fast as I read it; and my head has received such a shock by an all-night journey on the top of the coach, that I shall have enough to do to nurse it into its natural pace before I go home. I must devote myself to imbecility. I must be gloriously useless while I stay here. How is Mrs. Ṃ? will she pardon my inefficiency? The city of Salisbury is full of weeping and wailing. The Bank has stopt payment; and every body in the town kept money at it, or has got some of its notes. Some have lost all they had in the world. It is the next thing to seeing a city with a plague within its walls. The Wilton people are all undone. All the manufacturers there kept cash at the Salisbury bank; and I do suppose it to be the unhappiest county in England this, where I am making holiday.

We purpose setting out for Oxford Tuesday fortnight, and coming thereby home. But no more night travelling. My head is sore (understand it of the inside) with that deduction of my natural rest which I suffered coming down. Neither Mary nor I can spare a morsel of our rest. It is incumbent on us to be misers of it. Travelling is not good for us—we travel so seldom. If the Sun be Hell, it is not for the fire, but for the sempiternal motion of that miserable Body of Light. How much more dignified leisure hath a mussel glued to his unpassable rocky limit, two inch square! He hears the tide roll over him, backwards and forwards twice a-day (as the d——d Salisbury Long Coach goes and returns in eight and forty hours), but knows better than to take an outside night-place a top on't. He is the Owl of the Sea. Minerva's fish. The fish of Wisdom.

Our kindest remembrances to Mrs. Ṃ.

Yours truly, C. LAMB.

[If the date is correct we must suppose that the Lambs had made a second visit to the Hazlitts and were intending to return by way of Oxford (see next Letter).

Basil Montagu was a barrister and humanitarian, a friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge, and afterwards step-father-in-law of Procter. He was born in 1770 and lived until 1851. Lamb probably addressed to him many other letters, also to his third wife, Carlyle's "noble lady." But the correspondence was destroyed by Mrs. Procter.

The MSS. referred to cannot now be identified.]



August 9th, 1810.

Dear H.,—Epistemon is not well. Our pleasant excursion has ended sadly for one of us. You will guess I mean my sister. She got home very well (I was very ill on the journey) and continued so till Monday night, when her complaint came on, and she is now absent from home.

I am glad to hear you are all well. I think I shall be mad if I take any more journeys with two experiences against it. I find all well here. Kind remembrances to Sarah—have just got her letter.

H. Robinson has been to Blenheim. He says you will be sorry to hear that we should have asked for the Titian Gallery there. One of his friends knew of it, and asked to see it. It is never shown but to those who inquire for it.

The pictures are all Titians, Jupiter and Ledas, Mars and Venuses, &c., all naked pictures, which may be a reason they don't show it to females. But he says they are very fine; and perhaps it is shown separately to put another fee into the shower's pocket. Well, I shall never see it.

I have lost all wish for sights. God bless you. I shall be glad to see you in London.

Yours truly, C. LAMB.


[Hazlitt subsequently saw the Blenheim Titians and wrote of them with gusto in his description of the Picture Galleries of England.

Next should come a letter from Lamb to Mrs. Thomas Clarkson, dated September 18, 1810, not available for this edition; relating to the illness of Mary Lamb and stating that she is "quite restored and will be with me in little more than a week."]



Friday, 19 Oct., 1810. E.I.Ho.

Dr W.—I forwarded the Letter which you sent to me, without opening it, to your Sister at Binfield. She has returned it to me, and begs me to tell you that she intends returning from B. on Monday or Tuesday next, when Priscilla leaves it, and that it was her earnest wish to spend another week with us in London, but she awaits another Letter from home to determine her. I can only say that she appeared so much pleased with London, and that she is so little likely to see it again for a long time, that if you can spare her, it will be almost a pity not. But doubtless she will have heard again from you, before I can get a reply to this Letter & what she next hears she says will be decisive. If wanted, she will set out immediately from London. Mary has been very ill which you have heard I suppose from the Montagues. She is very weak and low spirited now. I was much pleased with your continuation of the Essay on Epitaphs. It is the only sensible thing which has been written on that subject & it goes to the Bottom. In particular I was pleased with your Translation of that Turgid Epitaph into the plain feeling under it. It is perfectly a Test. But what is the reason we have so few good Epitaphs after all?

A very striking instance of your position might be found in the Church yard of Ditton upon Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton upon Thames has been blessed by the residence of a Poet, who for Love or Money, I do not well know which, has dignified every grave stone for the last few years with bran new verses, all different, and all ingenious, with the Author's name at the Bottom of each. The sweet Swan of Thames has artfully diversified his strains & his rhymes, that the same thought never occurs twice. More justly perhaps, as no thought ever occurs at all, there was a physical impossibility that the same thought should recur. It is long since I saw and read these inscriptions, but I remember the impression was of a smug Usher at his desk, in the intervals of instruction levelling his pen. Of Death as it consists of dust and worms and mourners and uncertainty he had never thought, but the word death he had often seen separate & conjunct with other words, till he had learned to skill of all its attributes as glibly as Unitarian Belsham will discuss you the attributes of the word God, in a Pulpit, and will talk of infinity with a tongue that dangles from a scull that never reached in thought and thorough imagination two inches, or further than from his hand to his mouth, or from the vestry to the Sounding Board. [But the] epitaphs were trim and sprag & patent, & pleased the survivors of Thames Ditton above the old mumpsimus of Afflictions Sore.

To do justice though, it must be owned that even the excellent Feeling which dictated this Dirge when new, must have suffered something in passing thro' so many thousand applications, many of them no doubt quite misplaced, as I have seen in Islington Churchy'd (I think) an Epitaph to an Infant who died AEtatis 4 months, with this seasonable inscription appended, Honor thy Fath'r. and Moth'r. that thy days may be long in the Land &c.—Sincerely wishing your children better [words cut out with signature].

[Binfield, near Windsor, was the home of Dorothy Wordsworth's uncle, Dr. Cookson, Canon of Windsor.

Priscilla, nee Lloyd, a sister of Charles Lloyd, had married Christopher Wordsworth, afterwards Master of Trinity, in 1804.

Wordsworth's "Essay on Epitaphs" was printed in part in The Friend, February 22, 1810. For the remainder see Wordsworth's Works, Part II. began with a reference to Rosamund Gray. I quote the passage containing the turgid example.

Let us return to an instance of common life. I quote it with reluctance, not so much for its absurdity as that the expression in one place will strike at first sight as little less than impious; and it is indeed, though unintentionally so, most irreverent. But I know no other example that will so forcibly illustrate the important truth I wish to establish. The following epitaph is to be found in a church-yard in Westmoreland; which the present Writer has reason to think of with interest as it contains the remains of some of his ancestors and kindred. The date is 1673.

"Under this Stone, Reader, inter'd doth lye, Beauty and Virtue's true epitomy. At her appearance the noone-son Blush'd and shrunk in 'cause quite outdon. In her concentered did all graces dwell: God pluck'd my rose that He might take a smel. I'll say no more: but weeping wish I may Soone with thy dear chaste ashes com to lay. Sic efflevit Maritus."

Can anything go beyond this in extravagance? yet, if the fundamental thoughts be translated into a natural style, they will be found reasonable and affecting—"The woman who lies here interred, was in my eyes a perfect image of beauty and virtue; she was to me a brighter object than the sun in heaven: God took her, who was my delight, from this earth to bring her nearer to Himself. Nothing further is worthy to be said than that weeping I wish soon to lie by thy dear chaste ashes. Thus did the husband pour out his tears."

Wordsworth wrote an epitaph on Lamb, but it was too long to be used. A few lines are now on the tablet in Edmonton Church.

Lamb had begun his criticisms of churchyard epitaphs very early: Talfourd tells that, when quite a little boy, after reading a number of flattering inscriptions, he asked Mary Lamb where all the bad people were buried.]



[P.M. November 13, 1810.]

My dear friend—My brother's letter, which I did not see, I am sure has distressed you sadly. I was then so ill as to alarm him exceedingly, and he thought me quite incapable of any kind of business. It is a great mortification to me to be such an useless creature, and I feel myself greatly indebted to you for the very kind manner in which you take this ungracious matter: but I will say no more on this unpleasant subject. I am at present under the care of Dr. Tuthill. I think I have derived great benefit from his medicines. He has also made a water drinker of me, which, contrary to my expectations, seems to agree with me very well.

I very much regret that you were so untimely snatched away; the lively recollection you seem to retain of London scenes will I hope induce you to return, in happier times, for I must still hope for better days.

We have had many pleasant hours with Coleridge,—if I had not known how ill he is I should have had no idea of it, for he has been very chearful. But yet I have no good news to send you of him, for two days ago, when I saw him last, he had not begun his course of medicine & regimen under Carlisle. I have had a very chearful letter from Mrs. Clarkson. She complained a little of your friend Tom, but she says she means to devote the winter to the task of new molding him, I am afraid she will find it no easy task.

Mrs. Montague was very sorry to find you gone. I have not seen much of her, for I have kept very much at home since her return. I mean to stay at home and keep early hours all this winter.

I have a new maid coming this evening. Betty, that you left here, went from me last week, and I took a girl lately from the country, who was fetched away in a few days by her sister, who took it into her head that the Temple was an improper place for a girl to live in. I wish the one that is coming may suit me. She is seven & twenty, with a very plain person, therefore I may hope she will be in little danger here.

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