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and the' Waggoner' altogether is a pleasanter remembrance to me than the ' Itinerant.' If it were not, the page before the first page would and ought to make it so.
"If, as you say, the 'Waggoner,' in some sort, came at my call, oh for a potent voice to call forth the 'Recluse' from his profound dormitory, where he sleeps forgetful of his foolish charge—the world.
"Had I three inks, I would invoke him! Talfourd has written a most kind review of J. WoodviL, &c., in the 'Champion.' He is your most zealous admirer, in solitude and in crowds. H. Crabb Robinson gives me any dear prints that I happen to admire, and I love him for it and for other things. Alsager shall have his copy, but at present I have lent it for a day only, not choosing to part with my own. Mary's love. How do you all do, amanuenses both—marital and sororal? C. Lamb."
The next letter which remains is addressed to Manning (returned to England, and domiciled in Hertfordshire), in the spring of 1819.
TO MR. MANNING.
"My dear M.,—I want to know how your brother is, if you have heard lately. I want to know about you. I wish you were nearer. How are my cousins, the Glad mans of Wheathamstead, and farmer Bruton 1 Mrs. Bruton is a glorious woman.
'Hail, Mockery End '—
This is a fragment of a blank verse poem which I once meditated, but got no further.* The E. I. H. has been thrown into a quandary by the strange phenomenon of poor
, whom I have known man and
mad-man twenty-seven years, he being elder here than myself by nine years and more. He was always a pleasant, gossiping, halfheaded, muzzy, dozing, dreaming, walk-about, inoffensive chap; a little too fond of the
creature; who isn't at times 1 but had
not brains to work off an over-night's surfeit by ten o'clock next morning, and unfortunately, in he wandered the other morning drunk with last night, and with a superfoetation of drink taken in since he set out
• See "Mackery End, in Hertfordshire,"—Eatay* of Elia, p. 100,—for a charming account of a visit to their cousin in the country with Mr. Barron Field.
from bed. He came staggering under his double burthen, like trees in Java, bearing at once blossom, fruit, and falling fruit, as I have heard you or some other traveller tell, with his face literally as blue as the bluest firmament; some wretched calico that he had mopped his poor oozy front with had rendered up its native dye, and the devil a bit would he consent to wash it, but swore it was characteristic, for he was going to the sale of indigo, and set up a laugh which I did not think the lungs of mortal man were competent to. It was like a thousand people laughing, or the Goblin Page. He imagined afterwards that the whole office had been laughing at him, so strange did his own sounds strike upon his nonsensorium. But
has laughed his last laugh, and awoke
the next day to find himself reduced from an abused income of 6001. per annum to onesixth of the sum, after thirty-six years' tolerably good service. The quality of mercy was not strained in his behalf; the gentle dews dropt not on him from heaven. It just came across me that I was writing to Canton. Will you drop in to-morrow night 1 Fanny Kelly is coming, if she does not cheat us. Mrs. Gold is well, but proves 'uncoined,' as the lovers about Wheathamstead would say.
"I have not had such a quiet half hour to sit down to a quiet letter for many years. I have not been interrupted above four times. I wrote a letter the other day, in alternate lines, black ink and red, and you cannot think how it chilled the flow of ideas. Next Monday is Whit-Monday. What a reflection! Twelve years ago, and I should have kept that and the following holiday in the fields a Maying. All of those pretty pastoral delights are over. This dead, everlasting dead desk,—how it weighs the spirit of a gentleman down! This dead wood of the desk, instead of your living trees! But then again, I hate the Joskins, a name for Hertfordshire bumpkins. Each state of life has its inconvenience ; but then again, mine has more than one. Not that I repine, or grudge, or murmur at my destiny. I have meat and drink, and decent apparel; I shall at least, when I get a new hat.
"A red-haired man just interrupted me. He has broke the current of my thoughts. I haven't a word to add. I don't know why I send this letter, but I have had a hankering to hear about you some days. Perhaps it will go off before your reply comes. If it don't, I assure you no letter was ever welcomer from you, from Paris or Macao.
The following letter, dated 25th November, 1819, is addressed to Miss Wordsworth, on Wordsworth's youngest son visiting Lamb in London.
TO MISS WORDSWORTH.
"Dear Miss Wordsworth,—You will think me negligent: but I wanted to see more of Willy before I ventured to express a prediction. Till yesterday I had barely seen him—Virgilium tantum vidi,—but yesterday he gave us his small company to a bullock's heart, and I can pronounce him a lad of promise. He is no pedant, nor bookworm; so far I can answer. Perhaps he has hitherto paid too little attention to other men's inventions, preferring, like Lord Foppington, the 'natural sprouts of his own.' But he has observation, and seems thoroughly awake. I am ill at remembering other people's bon mots, but the following are a few:—Being taken over Waterloo Bridge, he remarked, that if we had no mountains, we had a fine river at least; which was a touch of the comparative: but then he added, in a strain which augured less for his future abilities as a political economist, that he supposed they must take at least a pound a week toll. Like a curious naturalist, he inquired if the tide did not come up a little salty. This being satisfactorily answered, he put another question, as to the flux and reflux; which being rather cunningly evaded than artfully solved by that she-Aristotle, Mary,—who muttered something about its getting up an hour sooner and sooner every day,—he sagely replied, 'Then it must come to the same thing at last;' which was a speech worthy of an infant Halley! The lion in the 'Change by no means came up to his ideal standard; so impossible is it for Nature, in any of her works, to come up to the standard of a child's imagination! The whelps (lionets) he was sorry to find were dead; and, on particular inquiry, his old friend the ourang outang had gone the way of all flesh also. The grand tiger was also sick, and expected in no short time to
exchange this transitory world for another, or none. But again, there was a golden eagle (I do not mean that of Charing) which did much arride and console him. William's genius, I take it, leans a little to the figurative; for, being at play at tricktrack (a kind of minor billiard-table which we keep for smaller wights, and sometimes refresh our own mature fatigues with taking a hand at), not being able to hit a ball he had iterate aimed at, he cried out, 'I cannot hit that beast.' Now the balls are usually called men, but he felicitously hit upon a middle term; a term of approximation and imaginative reconciliation; a something where the two ends of the brute matter (ivory), and their human and rather violent personification into men, might meet, as I take it: illustrative of that excellent remark, in a certain preface about imagination, explaining 'Like a sea-beast that had crawled forth to sun himself!' Not that I accuse William Minor of hereditary plagiary, or conceive the image to have come ex traduce. Rather he seemeth to keep aloof from any source of imitation, and purposely to remain ignorant of what mighty poets have done in this kind before him; for, being asked if his father had ever been on Westminster Bridge, he answered that he did not know!
"It is hard to discern the oak in the acorn, or a temple like St. Paul's in the first stone which is laid; nor can I quite prefigure what destination the genius of William Minor hath to take. Some few hints I have set down, to guide my future observations. He hath the power of calculation, in no ordinary degree for a chit. He combineth figures, after the first boggle, rapidly; as in the tricktrack board, where the hits are figured, at first he did not perceive that 16 and 7 made 22, but by a little use he could combine 8 with 25, and 33 again with 16, which approacheth something in kind (far let me be from flattering him by saying in degree) to that of the famous American boy. I am sometimes inclined to think I perceive the future satirist in him, for he hath a subsardonic smile which bursteth out upon occasion; as when he was asked if London were as big .is Ambleside; and indeed no other answer was given, or proper to be given, to so ensnaring and provoking a question. In the contour of skull, certainly I discern something paternal. But whether in all respects the future man shall transcend his father's fame, Time, the trier of Geniuses, must decide. Be it pronounced peremptorily at present, that Willy is a well-mannered child, and though no great student, hath yet a lively eye for things that lie before him.
"Given in haste from my desk at Leadenhall.
"Yours, and yours most sincerely,
[1820 to 1823.]
LETTERS TO -WORDSWORTH, COLERIDGE, FIELD, WILSON, AND BARTON.
The widening circle of Lamb's literary friends now embraced additional authors and actors,—famous, or just bursting into fame. He welcomed in the author of the " Dramatic Scenes," who chose to appear in print as Barry Cornwall, a spirit most congenial with his own in its serious moods,—one whose genius he had assisted to impel towards its kindred models, the great dramatists of Elizabeth's time, and in whose success he received the first and best reward of the efforts he had made to inspire a taste for these old masters of humanity. Mr.Macready, who had just emancipated himself from the drudgery of representing the villains of tragedy, by his splendid performance of Ric/iard, was introduced to him by his old friend Charles Lloyd, who had visited London for change of scene, under great depression of spirits. Lloyd owed a debt of gratitude to Macready which exemplified the true uses of the acted drama with a force which it would take many sermons of its stoutest opponents to reason away. A deep gloom had gradually overcast his mind, and threatened wholly to encircle it, when he was induced to look in at Covent-Garden Theatre and witness the performance of Rob Roy. The picture which he then beheld of the generous outlaw,—the frank, gallant, noble bearing,—the air and movements, as of one "free of mountain solitudes,"—the touches of manly pathos and irresistible cordiality, delighted and melted him, won him from his painful introspections, and brought to him the unwonted relief of
tears. He went home "a gayer and a wiser man ;" returned again to the theatre, whenever the healing enjoyments could be renewed there; and sought the acquaintance of the actor who had broken the melancholy spell in which he was enthralled, and had restored the pulses of his nature to their healthful beatings. The year 1820 gave Lamb an interest in Macready beyond that which he had derived from the introduction of Lloyd, arising from the power with which he animated the first production of one of his oldest friends—"Virginius." Knowles had been a friend and disciple of Hazlitt from a boy; and Lamb had liked and esteemed him as a hearty companion; but he had not guessed at the extraordinary dramatic power which lay ready for kindling in his brain, and still less at the delicacy of tact with which he had unveiled the sources of the most profound affections. Lamb had almost lost his taste for acted tragedy, as the sad realities of life had pressed more nearly on him; yet he made an exception in favour of the first and happiest part of "Virginius," those paternal scenes, which stand alone in the modern drama, and which Macready informed with the fulness of a father's affection.
The establishment of the "London Magazine," under the auspices of Mr. John Scott, occasioned Lamb's introduction to the public by the name, under colour of which he acquired his most brilliant reputation— "Elia." The adoption of this signature was purely accidental. His first contribution to the magazine was a description of the Old South-Sea House, where Lamb had passed a few months' noviciate as a clerk, thirty years before, and of its inmates who had long passed away; and remembering the name of a gay, light-hearted foreigner, who fluttered there at that time, he subscribed his name to the essay. It was afterwards affixed to subsequent contributions; and Lamb used it until, in his "Last Essays of Elia," he bade it a sad farewell.
The perpetual influx of visitors whom he could not repel; whom indeed he was always glad to welcome, but whose visits unstrung him, induced him to take lodgings at Dalston, to which he occasionally retired when he wished for repose. The deaths of some who were dear to him cast a melancholy tinge on his mind, as may be seen in the following:—
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
"March 20th, 1822. "My dear Wordsworth,—A letter from you is very grateful; I have not seen a Kendal postmark so long! We are pretty well, save colds and rheumatics, and a certain deadness to everything, which I think I may date from poor John's loss, and another accident or two at the same time, that has made me almost bury myself at Dalston, where yet I see more faces than I could wish. Deaths overset one, and put one out long after the recent grief. Two or three have died within this last two twelvemonths, and so many parts of me have been numbed. One sees a picture, reads an anecdote, starts a casual fancy, and thinks to tell of it to this person in preference to every other: the person is gone whom it would have peculiarly suited. It won't do for another. Every departure destroys a class of sympathies. There's Capt. Burney gone! What fun has whist now? what matters it what you lead, if you can no longer fancy him looking over you? One never hears anything, but the image of the particular person occurs with whom alone almost you would care to share the intelligence—thus one distributes oneself about—and now for so many parts of me I have lost the market. Common natures do not suffice me. Good people, as they are called, won't serve. I want individuals. I am made up of queer points, and I want so many answering needles. The going away of friends does not make the remainder more precious. It takes so much from them as there was a common link. A. B. and C. make a party. A. dies. B. not only loses A.; but all A.'s part in C. C. loses A.'s part in R, and so the alphabet sickens by subtraction of interchangeables. I express myself muddily, capite dolente. I have a dulling cold. My theory is to enjoy life, but my practice is against it. I grow ominously tired of official confinement. Thirty years have I served the Philistines, and my neck is not subdued to the yoke. You don't know how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls, without relief, day after day, all the golden hours of the day between ten and four, without ease or interposition. Toedet me harum quotidianarum formarum, these pestilential clerk-faces always in one's dish. Oh
for a few years between the grave and the desk: they are the same, save that at the latter you are the outside machine. The
foul enchanter ,' letters four do form his
name'—Busirare is his name in hell—that has curtailed you of some domestic comforts, hath laid a heavier hand on me, not in present infliction, but in the taking away the hope of enfranchisement. I dare not whisper to myself a pension on this side of absolute incapacitation and infirmity, till years have sucked me dry;—Otium cum indignitate. I had thought in a green old age (Oh green thought!) to have retired to Ponder's End, emblematic name, how beautiful! in the Ware Road, there to have made up my accounts with Heaven and the company, toddling about between it and Cheshunt, anou stretching, on some fine Isaac Walton morning, to Hoddesdon or Amwell, careless as a beggar ; but walking, walking ever till I fairly walked myself off my legs, dying walking! The hope is gone. I sit like Philomel all day (but not singing), with my breast against this thorn of a desk, with the only hope that some pulmonary affliction may relieve me. Vide Lord Palmerston's report of the clerks in the War-office, (Debates this morning's ' Times,') by which it appears, in twenty years as many clerks have been coughed and catarrhed out of it into their freer graves. Thank you for asking about the pictures. Milton hangs over my fire-side in Covent Garden, (when I am there,) the rest have been sold for an old song, wanting the eloquent tongue that should have set them off! You have gratified me with liking my meeting with Dodd.* For the Malvolio story—the thing is become in verity a sad task, and I eke it out with anything. If I could slip out of it I should be happy, but our chief-reputed assistants have forsaken us. The Opium-Eater crossed us once with a dazzling path, and hath as suddenly left us darkling ; and, in short, I shall go on from dull to worse, because I cannot resist the booksellers' importunity— the old plea you know of authors, but I believe on my part sincere. Hartley I do not so often see; but I never see him in unwelcome hour. I thoroughly love and
• See the account of the meeting between Dodd and Jem White, in Eliu's Essay, "On some of the Old Actors."
honour him. I send you a frozen epistle, but it is winter and dead time of the year with me. May Heaven keep something like spring and summer up with you, strengthen your eyes, and make mine a little lighter to encounter with them, as I hope they shall yet and again, before all are closed. "Yours, with every kind remembrance.
"I had almost forgot to say, I think you thoroughly right about presentation copies. I should like to see you print a book I should grudge to purchase for its size. Hang me, but I would have it though!"
The following letter, containing the germ of the well-known "Dissertation on Roast Pig," was addressed to Coleridge, who had received a pig as a present, and attributed it erroneously to Lamb.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
"Dear C,—It gives me great satisfaction to hear that the pig turned out so well—they are interesting creatures at a certain age— what a pity such buds should blow out into the maturity of rank bacon! You had all some of the crackling—and brain sauce—did you remember to rub it with butter, and gently dredge it a little, just before the crisis? Did the eyes come away kindly with no GEdipean avulsion? Was the crackling the colour of the ripe pomegranate? Had you no cursed complement of boiled neck of mutton before it, to blunt the edge of delicate desire? Did you flesh maiden teeth in it? Not that I sent the pig, or can form the
remotest guess what part O could play
in the business. I never knew him give anything away in my life. He would not begin with strangers. I suspect the pig, after all, was meant for me; but at the unlucky juncture of time being absent, the present somehow went round to Highgale. To confess an honest truth, a pig is one of those things I could never think of sending away. Teals, wigeons, snipes, barn'door fowl, ducks, geese—your tame villatic things —Welsh mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, fresh or pickled, your potted char, Swiss cheeses, French pies, early grapes, muscadines, I impart as freely unto my friends as to myself. They are but self-extended ; but
pardon me if I stop somewhere—where the fine feeling of benevolence giveth a higher smack than the sensual rarity, there my friends (or any good man) may command me ; but pigs are pigs, and I myself therein am nearest to myself. Nay, I should think it an affront, an undervaluing done to Nature who bestowed such a boon upon me, if in a churlish mood I parted with the precious gift. One of the bitterest pangs I ever felt of remorse was when a child—my kind old aunt had strained her pocket-strings to bestow a sixpenny whole plum-cake upon me. In my way home through the Borough, I met a venerable old man, not a mendicant, —but thereabouts; a look-beggar, not a verbal petitionist; and in the coxcombry of taught-charity, I gave away the cake to him. I walked on a little in all the pride of an Evangelical peacock, when of a sudden my old aunt's kindness crossed me; the stun it was to her ; the pleasure she had a right to expect that I—not the old impostor—should take in eating her cake ; the cursed ingratitude by which, under the colour of a Christian virtue, I had frustrated her cherished purpose. I sobbed, wept, and took it to heart so grievously, that I think I never suffered the like—and I was right. It was a piece of unfeeling hypocrisy, and proved a lesson to me ever after. The cake has long been masticated, consigned to dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable pauper.
"But when Providence, who is better to us all than our aunts, gives me a pig, remembering my temptation and my fall, I shall endeavour to act towards it more in the spirit of the donor's purpose.
"Yours (short of pig) to command in everything. C. L."
In the summer of 1822 Lamb and his sister visited Paris. The following is a hasty letter addressed to Field on his return.
TO MR. BARRON FIELD.
"My dear F.,—I scribble hastily at office. Frank wants my letter presently. 1 and sister are just returned from Paris! t We have eaten frogs. It has been such a treat! You know our monotonous tenor. Frogs are the nicest little delicate things—rabbityflavoured. Imagine a Lilliputian rabbit! They fricassee them ; but in my mind, drest,