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TO MR. COLERIDGE.
honour him. I send you a frozen epistle, pardon me if I stop somewhere-where the but it is winter and dead time of the year fine feeling of benevolence giveth a higher with me. May Heaven keep something like smack than the sensual rarity, there my spring and summer up with you, strengthen friends (or any good man) may command your eyes, and make mine a little lighter me ; but pigs are pigs, and I myself therein to encounter with them, as I hope they shall am nearest to myself. Nay, I should think yet and again, before all are closed.
it an affront, an undervaluing done to Nature “Yours, with every kind remembrance. who bestowed such a boon upon me, if in a
“ C. L." churlish mood I parted with the precious
gift. One of the bitterest pangs I ever felt “I had almost forgot to say, I think you of remorse was when a child—my kind old thoroughly right about presentation copies. aunt had strained her pocket-strings to I should like to see you print a book I should bestow a sixpenny whole plum-cake upon grudge to purchase for its size. Hang me, me. In my way home through the Borough, but I would have it though!”
I met a venerable old man, not a mendicant,
--but thereabouts ; a look-beggar, not a The following letter, containing the germ verbal petitionist ; and in the coxcombry of of the well-known “Dissertation on Roast taught-charity, I gave away the cake to him. Pig," was addressed to Coleridge, who had I walked on a little in all the pride of an received a pig as a present, and attributed it Evangelical peacock, when of a sudden my erroneously to Lamb.
old aunt's kindness crossed me; the sum it was to her; the pleasure she had a right to
expect that I-not the old impostor-should “Dear C., -It gives me great satisfaction take in eating her cake ; the cursed ingratito hear that the pig turned out so well—they tude by which, under the colour of a Chrisare interesting creatures at a certain age-tian virtue, I had frustrated her cherished what a pity such buds should blow out into purpose. I sobbed, wept, and took it to heart the maturity of rank bacon! You had all so grievously, that I think I never suffered some of the crackling—and brain sauce -did the like—and I was right. It was a piece of you remember to rub it with butter, and unfeeling hypocrisy, and proved a lesson to gently dredge it a little, just before the crisis? me ever after. The cake has long been Did the eyes come away kindly with no masticated, consigned to dunghill with the Edipean avulsion? Was the crackling the ashes of that unseasonable pauper. colour of the ripe pomegranate ? Had you “But when Providence, who is better to no cursed complement of boiled neck of mut- us all than our aunts, gives me a pig, ton before it, to blunt the edge of delicate remembering my temptation and my fall, I desire ? Did you flesh maiden teeth in it ? shall endeavour to act towards it more in Not that I sent the pig, or can form the the spirit of the donor's purpose. remotest guess what part O
“Yours (short of pig) to command in in the business. I vever knew him give everything.
C. L." anything away in my life. He would not begin with strangers. I suspect the pig, In the summer of 1822 Lamb and his sister after all, was meant for me; but at the visited Paris. The following is a hasty letter unlucky juncture of time being absent, the addressed to Field on his return. present somehow went round to Highgate. To confess an honest truth, a pig is one of those things I could never think of sending “My dear F., -I scribble hastily at office. away. Teals, wigeons, snipes, barn-door Frank wants my letter presently. 1 and fowl, ducks, geese-your tame villatic things sister are just returned from Paris !! We -Welsh mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, have eaten frogs. It has been such a treat! fresh or pickled, your potted char, Swiss You know our monotonous tenor. Frogs cheeses, French pies, early grapes, musca are the nicest little delicate things-rabbitydines, I impart as freely unto my friends as flavoured. Imagine a Lilliputian rabbit ! to myself. They are but self-extended; but They fricassee them ; but in my mind, drest,
ro MR, BARRON FIELD.
O base and coward luck!
seethed, plain, with parsley and butter, would “Our joint hearty remembrances to both
Quaker bard. Some expression which Lamb
let fall at their meeting in London, from But the Prince of good fellows,
which Mr. Barton had supposed that Lamb Willy Shakspeare ?
objected to a Quaker's writing poetry as inconsistent with his creed, induced Mr.
Barton to write to Lamb on his return to
Woodbridge, who replied as follows :-
TO BERNARD BARTON.
“ India House, 11th Sept. 1822.
Dear Sir,—You have misapprehended me “This is all in old carved wooden letters. sadly, if you suppose that I meant to impute The countenance smiling, sweet, and intel- any inconsistency in your writing poetry with lectual beyond measure, even as he was your religious profession. I do not remember immeasurable. It may be a forgery. They what I said, but it was spoken sportively, I laugh at me and tell me, Ireland is in Paris, am sure—one of my levities, which you are and has been putting off a portrait of the not so used to as my older friends. I Black Prince. How far old wood may be probably was thinking of the light in which imitated I cannot say. Ireland was not your so indulging yourself would appear to found out by his parchments, but by his Quakers, and put their objection in my own poetry. I am confident no painter on either foolish mouth. I would eat my words side the Channel could have painted any (provided they should be written on not very thing near like the face I saw. Again, would coarse paper) rather than I would throw such a painter and forger have taken 40l. for cold water upon your, and my once, harmless a thing, if authentic, worth 40001.? Talma occupation. is not in the secret, for he had not even “I have read Napoleon and the rest with found out the rhymes in the first inscription. delight. I like them for what they are, and He is coming over with it, and, my life to for what they are not. I have sickened on Southey's Thalaba, it will gain universal the modern rhodomontade and Byronism, faith.
and your plain Quakerish beauty has capti“The letter is wanted, and I am wanted. vated me. It is all wholesome cates, ay, and Imagine the blank filled up with all kind toothsome too, and withal Quakerish. If I things
were George Fox, and George Fox licenser
For wrath Divine hath made him like a wheel
of the press, they should have my absolute it will satisfy the bigots on our side the imprimatur. I hope I have removed the water. Something like a parody on the song impression.
of Ariel would please them better :“I am, like you, a prisoner to the desk. I
*Full fathom five the Atheist lies, have been chained to that galley thirty years,
Of his bones are hell-dice made.' a long shot. I have almost grown to the
“I want time, or fancy, to fill up the rest. wood. If no imaginative poet, I am sure II sincerely sympathise with you on your am a figurative one. Do 'Friends' allow doleful confinement. Of time, health, and puns ? verbal equivocations ?—they are un
riches, the first in order is not last in exceljustly accused of it, and I did my little best lence. Riches are chiefly good, because they in the 'Imperfect Sympathies’ to vindicate give us Time. What a weight of wearisome them. I am very tired of clerking it, but prison hours have I to look back and forward have no remedy. Did you see a Sonnet to
to, as quite cut out of life ! and the sting of this purpose in the Examiner –
the thing is, that for six hours every day I • Who first invented work, and bound the free have no business which I could not contract And holy-day rejoicing spirit down
into two, if they would let me work taskTo the ever-haunting importunity
work. I shall be glad to hear that your of business, in the green fields and the town, To plough, loom, anvil, spade; and oh, most sad, grievance is mitigated. To that dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood ?
“I am returning a poor letter. I was Who but the being unblest, alien from good, Sabbathless Satan ! he who his unglad
formerly a great scribbler in that
but Task erer plies, ’mid rotatory burnings,
my hand is out of order. If I said my head That round and round incalculably reel;
too, I should not be very much out, but I In that red realm from which are no returnings; will tell no tales of myself; I will therefore Where, toiling and turmoiling, ever and aye,
end (after my best thanks, with a hope to see He and his thoughts keep pensive working-day.'
you again some time in London), begging you “I fancy the sentiment exprest above will to accept this letteret for a letter-a leveret be nearly your own. The expression of it makes a better present than a grown hare, probably would not so well suit with a and short troubles (as the old excuse goes) follower of John Woolman. But I do not are best. know whether diabolism is a part of your “I remain, dear sir, yours truly, creed, or where, indeed, to find an exposition
" C. LAMB." of your creed at all. In feelings and matters not dogmatical, I hope I am half a Quaker. The next letter will speak for itself. Believe me, with great respect, yours, “ C. LAMB."
“Dec. 23rd, 1822. “I shall always be happy to see or hear
“Dear Sir,--I have been so distracted with from you."
business and one thing or other, I have not
had a quiet quarter of an hour for epistolary Encouraged by Lamb's kindness, Mr. purposes. Christmas, too, is come, which Barton continued the correspondence, which always puts a rattle into my morning skull. became the most frequent in which Lamb It is a visiting, unquiet, unquakerish season. had engaged for many years. The following I get more and more in love with solitude, lester is in acknowledgment of a publication and proportionately hampered with company. of Mr. Barton's chiefly directed to oppose the I hope you have some holidays at this period. theories and tastes of Lord Byron and his I have one day-Christmas-day; alas ! too friends :
few to commemorate the season. All work
and no play dulls me. Company is not play, “East-India House, 9th Oct. 1822. but many times hard work. To play, is for “ Dear Sir,–I am ashamed not sooner to a man to do what he pleases, or to do nothing have acknowledged your letter and poem. I —to go about soothing his particular fancies. think the latter very temperate, very serious, I have lived to a time of life to have outlived and very seasonable. I do not think it will the good hours, the nine o'clock suppers, with convert the club at Pisa, neither do I think a bright hour or two to clear up iu afuus.
TO BERNARD BARTON.
TO BERNARD BARTON.
TO MR. WALTER WILSON.
wards. Now you cannot get tea before that life he was about to write. The renewal of hour, and then sit gaping, music-bothered the acquaintance was very pleasant to Lamb; perhaps, till half-past twelve brings up the who many years before used to take daily tray; and what you steal of convivial enjoy- walks with Wilson, and to call him“brother." ment after, is heavily paid for in the disquiet The following is Lamb's reply :of to-morrow's head.
“I am pleased with your liking 'John Woodvil,' and amused with your knowledge
“E. I. H., 16th December, 1822. of our drama being confined to Shakspeare “Dear Wilson,-Lightning, I was going to and Miss Baillie. What a world of fine ter- call you. You must have thought me negliritory between Land's End and Johnny gent in not answering your letter sooner. Groat's have you missed traversing ! I could But I have a habit of never writing letters almost envy you to have so much to read. I but at the office ; 'tis so much time cribbed feel as if I had read all the books I want to out of the Company; and I am but just got read. Oh to forget Fielding, Steele, &c., and out of the thick of a tea-sale, in which most read 'ein new !
of the entry of notes, deposits, &c., usually “Can you tell me a likely place where I falls to my share. could pick up, cheap, Fox's Journal ? There “I have nothing of De Foe's but two or are no Quaker circulating libraries ? Elwood, three novels, and the ‘Plague History.' I too, I must have. I rather grudge that can give you no information about him. As S-y has taken up the history of your a slight general character of what I remempeople: I am afraid he will put in some ber of them (for I have not looked into them levity. I am afraid I am not quite exempt latterly), I would say that in the appearance from that fault in certain magazine articles, of truth, in all the incidents and conversations where I have introduced mention of them. that occur in them, they exceed any works Were they to do again, I would reform them. of fiction I am acquainted with. It is perfect Why should not you write a poetical account illusion. The author never appears in these of your old worthies, deducing them from self-narratives (for so they ought to be Fox to Woolman ? but I remember you did called, or rather auto-biographies), but the talk of something of that kind, as a counter- narrator chains us down to an implicit belief part to the · Ecclesiastical Sketches.' But in everything he says. There is all the would not a poem be more consecutive than minute detail of a log-book in it. Dates are a string of sonnets? You have no martyrs painfully pressed upon the memory. Facts quite to the fire, I think, among you; but are repeated over and over in varying plenty of heroic confessors, spirit-martyrs, phrases, till you cannot choose but believe lamb-lions. Think of it; it would be better them. It is like reading evidence given in a than a series of sonnets on ‘Eminent Bankers.' court of justice. So anxious the story-teller I like a hit at our way of life, though it does seems that the truth should be clearly comwell for me, better than anything short of all prehended, that when he has told us one's time to one's self ; for which alone I matter-of-fact, or a motive, in a line or two rankle with envy at the rich. Books are farther down he repeats it, with his favourite good, and pictures are good, and money to figure of speech, ‘I say,' so and so, though he buy them therefore good, but to buy time! had made it abundantly plain before. This in other words, life!
is in imitation of the common people's way of "The "compliments of the time to you, speaking, or rather of the way in which they should end my letter ; to a Friend, I suppose, are addressed by a master or mistress, wh ) I must say the sincerity of the season ; ' I wishes to impress something upon their hope they both mean the same. With memories, and has a won lerful effect upon excuses for this hastily-penned note, believe matter-of-fact readers. Indeed, it is to such me, with great respect,
C. LAMB." principally that he writes. His style is
everywhere beautiful, but plain and homely In this winter Mr. Walter Wilson, one of Robinson Crusoe is delightful to all ranks the friends of Lamb's youth, applied to him and classes, but it is easy to see that it is for information respecting De Foe, whose written in phraseology peculiarly adapted to
the lower conditions of readers ; hence it is weary way of duty than the poet whose brief an especial favourite with seafaring men, dream of literary engrossment incited Lamb poor boys, servant-maids, &c. His novels to make a generous amends to his ledger for are capital kitchen-reading, while they are all his unjust reproaches. The references to worthy, from their deep interest, to find a the booksellers have the colouring of fantasshelf in the libraries of the wealthiest, and tical exaggeration, by which he delighted to the most learned. His passion for matter-of- give effect to the immediate feeling ;
but fact narrative sometimes betrayed him into making allowance for this mere play of a long relation of common incidents, which fancy, how just is the following advice--how might happen to any man, and have no wholesome for every youth who hesitates interest but the intense appearance of truth whether he shall abandon the certain reward in them, to recommend them. The whole of plodding industry for the splendid miseries latter half or two-thirds of 'Colonel Jack' of authorship! * is of this description. The beginning of * It is singular that, some years before, Mr. Barton 'Colonel Jack’ is the most affecting natural had received similar advice from a very different poet
Lord Byron. As the letter has never been published, picture of a young thief that was ever drawn. and it may be interesting to compare the expressions of His losing the stolen money in the hollow of two men so different on the same subject, i subjoin it
here: a tree, and finding it again when he was in
“TO BERNARD BARTON, ESQ. despair, and then being in equal distress at
"St. James' Street, June 1, 1812. not knowing how to dispose of it, and several
“Sir,- The most satisfactory answer to the concluding similar touches in the early history of the part of your letter is, that Mr. Murray will republish Colonel, evince a deep knowledge of human your volume, if you still retain your inclination for the
experiment, which I trust will be successful. nature; and putting out of question the weeks ago my friend Mr. Rogers showed me some of the superior romantic interest of the latter, stanzas in Ms., and I then expressed my opinion of their in my mind very much exceed Crusoe. hus given me no reason to revoke.
merit, which a further perusal of the printed volume
I mention this, as 'Roxana' (first edition) is the next in inter- it may not be disagreeable to you to learn, that I enterest, though he left out the best part of it in tained a very favourable opinion of your powers before
I was aware that such sentiments were reciprocal. subsequent editions from a foolish hyper- Waving your obliging expressions as to my own produccriticism of his friend Southerne. But · Moll tions, for which I thank you very sincerely, and assure Flanders,' the ' Account of the Plague,' &c., approbation is valuable; will you allow me to talk to
you that I think not lightly of the praise of one whose are all of one family, and have the same you candidly, not critically, on the subject of yours ? stamp of character. Believe me, with friendly You will not suspect me of a wish 10 discourage, since I
pointed out to the publisher the propriety of complying recollections, Brother (as I used to call with your wishes. I think more highly of your poetical you),
talents than it would perhaps gratify you to hear ex. “Yours,
pressed, for I believe, from what I observe of your mind, that you are above flattery. To come to the point, you deserve success; but we knew before Addison wrote his Cato, that desert does not always command it.
But suppose it attained, How bitterly Lamb felt his East-India
• You know what ills the author's life assail, bondage, has abundantly appeared from his
Toil, envy, want, the patron, and the jail.' letters during many years.
Yet there never Do not renounce writing, but never trust entirely to was wanting a secret consciousness of the authorship. If you have a profession, retain it; it will benefits which it ensured for him, the pre- Compare Mr. Rogers with other authors of the day:
be like Prior's fellowship, a last and sure resource. cious independence which he won by his assuredly he is among the first of living poets, but is it hours of toil, and the freedom of his mind, to to that he owes his station in society, and his intimacy
in the best circles !--no, it is to his prudence and respectwork only “at its own sweet will," which ability. The world (a bad one, 1 own) courts hin behis confinement to the desk obtained. This cause he has no occasion to court it, He is a poet, nor
I am not sense of the blessings which a fixed income, is he loss so because he is something more.
sorry to hear that you were not tempted by the vicinity derived from ascertained duties, confers, was of Capel Lofft, Esq.,--though, if he had done for you nobly expressed in reference to a casual what he has for the Bloomfields, I should never have fancy in one of the letters of his fellow in constituted mind will ever be independent. That you
laughed at his rage for patro ising. But a truly well. clerkly as well as in poetical labours, Bernard may be so is my sincere wish; and if others think as Barton-a fancy as alien to the habitual well of your poetry as I do, you will have no cause to
complain of your readers. Believe me, thoughts of his friend, as to his own—for no
“ Your obliged and obedient servant, one has pursued a steaclier course on the