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such concessions as L. H. made to C. What hath soured him, and made him to suspect his friends of infidelity towards him, when there was no such matter, I know not. I stood well with him for fifteen years (the proudest of my life), and have ever spoken my full mind of him to some, to whom his panegyric must naturally be least tasteful. I never in thought swerved from him, I never betrayed him, I never slackened in my admiration of him; I was the same to him (neither better nor worse), though he could not see it, as in the days when he thought fit to trust me. At this instant, he may be preparing for me some compliment, above my deserts, as he has sprinkled many such among his admirable books, for which I rest his debtor; or, for anything I know, or can guess to the contrary, he may be about to read a lecture on my weaknesses. He is welcome to them (as he was to my humble hearth), if they can divert a spleen, or ventilate a fit of sullenness. I wish he would not quarrel with the world at the rate he does; but the reconciliation must be effected by himself, and I despair of living to see that day. But, protesting against much that he has written, and some things which he chooses to do ; judging him by his conversation which I enjoyed so long, and relished so deeply; or by his books, in those places where no clouding passion intervenes —I shun Id belie my own conscience, if I said less, than that I think W. H. to be, in his natural and healthy state, one of the wisest and finest spirits breathing. So far from being ashamed of that intimacy, which was betwixt us, it is my boast that I was able for so many years to have preserved it entire; and I think I shall go to my grave without finding, or expecting to find, such another companion. But I forget my manners—you will pardon me, sir—I return to the correspondence.
"Sir, you were pleased (you know where) to invite me to a compliance with the wholesome forms and doctrines of the Church of England. I take your advice with as much kindness as it was meant. But I must think the invitation rather more kind than seasonable. I am a Dissenter. The last sect, with which you can remember me to have made common profession, were the Unitarians. You would think it not very pertinent, if
(fearing that all was not well with you), I were gravely to invite you (for a remedy) to attend with me a course of Mr. Belsham's Lectures at Hackney. Perhaps I have scruples to some of your forms and doctrines. But if I come, am I secure of civil treatment ?—The last time I was in any of your places of worship was on Easter Sunday last. I had the satisfaction of listening to a very sensible sermon of an argumentative turn, delivered with great propriety, by one of your bishops. The place was Westminster Abbey. As such religion, as I have, has always acted on me more by way of sentiment than argumentative process, I was not unwilling, after sermon ended, by no unbecoming transition, to pass over to some serious feelings, impossible to be disconnected from the sight of those old tombs, &c. But, by whose order I know not, I was debarred that privilege even for so short a space as a few minutes; and turned, like a dog or some profane person, out into the common street; with feelings, which I could not help, but not very congenial to the day or the discourse. I do not know that I shall ever venture myself again into one of your churches.
"You had your education at Westminster; and, doubtless, among those dim aisles and cloisters, you must have gathered much of that devotional feeling in those young years, on which your purest mind feeds still—and may it feed! The antiquarian spirit, strong in you, and gracefully blending ever with the religious, may have been sown in you among those wrecks of splendid mortality. You owe it to the place of your education; you owe it to your learned fondness for the architecture of your ancestors; you owe it to the venerableness of your ecclesiastical establishment, which is daily lessened and called in question through these practices— to speak aloud your sense of them; never to desist raising your voice against them, till they be totally done away with and abolished; till.the doors of Westminster Abbey be no longer closed against the decent, though lowin-purse, enthusiast, or blameless devotee, who must commit an injury against his family economy, if he would be indulged with a bare admission within its walls. You owe it to the decencies, which you wish to see maintained in its impressive services, that our Cathedral be no longer an object of inspection to the poor at those times only, in which they must rob from their attendance on the worship every minute which they can bestow upon the fabric. In vain the public prints have taken up this subject, in vain such poor nameless writers as myself express their indignation. A word from you, sir— a hint in your journal—would be sufficient to fling open the doors of the beautiful temple again, as we can remember them when we were boys. At that time of life, what would the imaginative faculty (such as it is) in both of us, have suffered, if the entrance to so much reflection had been obstructed by the demand of so much silver!—If we had scraped it up to gain an occasional admission (as we certainly should have done) would the sight of those old tombs have been as impressive to us (while we had been weighing anxiously prudence against sentiment) as when the gates stood open, as those of the adjacent Park; when we could walk in at any time, as the mood brought us, for a shorter or longer time, as that lasted? Is the being shown over a place the same as silently for ourselves detecting the genius of it? In no part of our beloved Abbey now can a person find entrance (out of servicetime) under the sum of two shillings. The rich and the great will smile at the anticlimax, presumed to lie in these two short words. But you can tell them, sir, how much quiet worth, how much capacity for enlarged feeling, how much taste and genius, may coexist, especially in youth, with a purse incompetent to this demand.—A respected friend of ours, during his late visit to the metropolis, presented himself for admission to Saint Paul's. At the same time a decentlyclothed man, with as decent a wife, and child, were bargaining for the same indulgence. The price was only two-pence each person. The poor but decent man hesitated, desirous to go in: but there were three of them, and he turned away reluctantly. Perhaps he wished to have seen the tomb of Nelson. Perhaps the interior of the cathedral was his object. But in the state of his finances, even sixpence might reasonably seem too much. Tell the aristocracy of the country (no man can do it more impressively); instruct them of what value these insignificant pieces of money, these minims
to their sight, may be to their humbler brethren. Shame these sellers out of the Temple! Show the poor, that you can sometimes think of them in some other light than as mutineers and mal-contents. Conciliate them by such kind methods to their superiors, civil and ecclesiastical. Stop the mouths of the railers; and suffer your old friends, upon the old terms, again to honour and admire you. Stifle not the suggestions of your better nature with the stale evasion, that an indiscriminate admission would expose the tombs to violation. Remember your boy-days. Did you ever see, or hear, of a mob in the Abbey, while it was free to all 1 Do the rabble come there, or trouble their heads about such speculations 1 It is all that you can do to drive them into your churches; they do not voluntarily offer themselves. They have, alas! no passion for antiquities; for tomb of king or prelate, sage or poet. If they had, they would no longer be the rabble.
"For forty years that I have known the fabric, the only well-attested charge of violation adduced, has been—a ridiculous dismemberment committed upon the effigy of that amiable spy, Major Andre. And is it for this—the wanton mischief of some school-boy, fired perhaps with raw notions of transatlantic freedom—or the remote possibility of such a mischief occurring again, so easily to be prevented by stationing a constable within the walls, if the vergers are incompetent to the duty—is it upon such wretched pretences, that the people of England are made to pay a new Peter's pence, so long abrogated; or must content themselves with contemplating the ragged exterior of their Cathedral? The mischief was done about the time that you were a scholar there. Do you know anything about the unfortunate relic ?—can you help us in this emergency to find the nose ?— or can you give Chantrey a notion (from memory) of its pristine life and vigour? I am willing for peace' sake to subscribe my guinea towards a restoration of the lamented feature.
"I am, sir, your humble servant,
The feeling with which this letter was received by Southey may be best described in his own words in a letter to the publisher. "On my part there was not even a momentary feeling of anger; I was very much surprised and grieved, because I knew how much he would condemn himself. And yet no resentful letter was ever written less offensively: his gentle nature may be seen in it throughout." Southey was right in his belief in the revulsion Lamb's feelings would undergo, when the excitement under which he had written subsided; for although he would retract nothing he had ever said or written in defence of his friends, he was ready at once to surrender every resentment of his own. Southey came to London in the following month, and wrote proposing to call at Islington; and 21st of November Lamb thus replied :—
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
"E. I. H., 21st November, 1823. "Dear Southey,—The kindness of your note has melted away the mist which was upon me. I have been fighting against a shadow. That accursed Q. R. had vexed me by a gratuitous speaking, of its own knowledge, that the 'Confessions of a D d'
was a genuine description of the state of the writer. Little things, that are not ill meant, may produce much ill. That might have injured me alive and dead. I am in a public office, and my life is insured. I was prepared for anger, and I thought I saw, in a few obnoxious words, a hard case of repetition directed against me. I wish both magazine and review at the bottom of the sea. I shall be ashamed to see you, and my sister (though innocent) will be still more so ; for the folly was done without her knowledge, and has made her uneasy ever since. My guardian angel was absent at that time.
"I will muster up courage to see you, however, any day next week (Wednesday excepted). We shall hope that you will bring Edith with you. That will be a second mortification. She will hate to see us, but come and heap embers. We deserve it, I for what I've done, and she for being my sister.
"Do come early in the day, by sun-light, that you may see my Milton.
"I am at Colebrook-cottage, Colebrookrow, Islington. A detached whitish house,
close to the New River, end of Colebrook Terrace, left hand from Sadler's Wells. "Will you let me know the day before 1 "Your penitent, C. Lamb.
"P.S.—I do not think your hand-writing at all like ****'s. I do not think many things I did think."
In the following letter, of the same date, Lamb anticipates the meeting.
TO BERNARD BARTON.
"Dear B. B.,—I am ashamed at not acknowledging your kind, little poem, which I must needs like much; but I protest I thought I had done it at the moment. Is it possible a letter has miscarried? Did you get one in which I sent you an extract from the poems of Lord Sterling? I should wonder if you did, for I sent you none such. There was an incipient lie strangled in the birth. Some people's conscience is so tender! But, in plain truth, I thank you very much for the verses. I have a very kind letter from the Laureat, with a self-invitation to come and shake hands with me. This is truly handsome and noble. 'Tis worthy of my old idea of Southey. Shall not I, think you, be covered with a red suffusion?
"You are too much apprehensive of your complaint: I know many that are always ailing of it, and live on to a good old age. I know a merry fellow (you partly know him) who, when his medical adviser told him he had drunk away all that part, congratulated himself (now his liver was gone) that he should be the longest liver of the two.
"The best way in these cases is to keep yourself as ignorant as you can, as ignorant as the world was before Galen, of the entire inner construction of the animal man ; not to be conscious of a midriff; to hold kidneys (save a sheep and swine) to be an agreeable fiction ; not to know whereabouts the gall grows; to account the circulation of the blood an idle whimsey of Harvey's; to acknowledge no mechanism not visible. For, once fix the seat of your disorder, and your fancies flux into it like bad humours. Those medical gentries choose each his favourite part; one takes the lungs, another the aforesaid liver, and refer to that, whatever in the animal economy is amiss. Above all, use exercise, take a little more spirituous liquors, learn to smoke, continue to keep a good conscience, and avoid tampering with hard terms of art—viscosity, scirrhosity, and those bugbears by which simple patients are scared into their graves. Believe the general sense of the mercantile world, which holds that desks are not deadly. It is the mind, good B. B., and not the limbs, that taints by long sitting. Think of the patience of tailors, think how long the Lord Chancellor sits, think of the brooding hen! I protest I cannot answer thy sister's kind inquiry; but I judge, I shall put forth no second volume. More praise than buy; and T. and H. are not particularly disposed for martyrs. Thou wilt see a funny passage, and yet a true history, of George Dyer's aquatic incursion in the next' London.' Beware his fate, when thou comest to see me at my Colebrook-cottage. I have filled my little space with, my little thoughts. I wish thee ease on thy sofa ; but not too much indulgence on it. From my poor desk, thy fellowsufferer, this bright November,
Southey went to Colebrook-cottage, as proposed; the awkwardness of meeting went off in a moment; and the affectionate intimacy, which had lasted for almost twenty years, was renewed, to be interrupted only by death.
[1823 to 1825.]
I.CTTKU TO AINSWOttTH, BABTON, AND COLERIDOE.
Lamb was fond of visiting the Universities in the summer vacation, and repeatedly spent his holiday month at Cambridge with his sister. On one of these occasions they met with a little girl, who being in a manner alone in the world, engaged their sympathy, and soon riveted their affections. Emma Isola was the daughter of Mr. Charles Isola, who had been one of the esquire bedells of the University ; her grandfather, Agostino Isola, had been compelled to fly from Milan, because a friend took up an English book in his apartment, which he had carelessly left
in view. This good old man numbered I among his pupils, Gray the poet, Mr. Pitt,
and, in his old age, Wordsworth, whom he
instructed in the Italian language. His little j grand-daughter, at the time when she had
the good fortune to win the regard of Mr.
Lamb, had lost both her parents, and was , spending her holidays with an aunt, who , lived with a sister of Mr. Ayrton, at whose
house Lamb generally played his evening I rubber during his stay at Cambridge. The j liking which both Lamb and his sister took
for the little orphan, led to their begging her of her aunt for the next holidays; their regard for her increased; she regularly spent I the holidays with them till she left school, and afterwards was adopted as a daughter, and lived generally with them until 1833, when she married Mr. Moxon. Lamb was fond of taking long walks in the country, and as Miss Lamb's strength was not always equal to these pedestrian excursions, she became his constant companion in walks which even extended "to the green fields of pleasant Hertfordshire."
About this time, Lamb added to his list of friends, Mr. Hood, the delightful humourist; Hone, lifted for a short time into political fame by the prosecution of his Parodies, and the signal energy and success of his defence, but now striving by unwearied researches, which were guided by a pure taste and an honest heart, to support a numerous family; and Ainsworth, then a youth, who has since acquired so splendid a reputation as the author of "Rookwood" and "Crichton." Mr. Ainsworth, then resident at Manchester, excited by an enthusiastic admiration of Elia, had sent him some books, for which he thus conveyed his thanks to his unseen friend.
TO MR. AINSWORTH.
"India-House, 9th Dec. 1823. "Dear Sir,—I should have thanked you for your books and compliments sooner, but have been waiting for a revise to be sent, which does not come, though I returned the proof on the receipt of your letter. I have read Warner with great pleasure. What an elaborate piece of alliteration and antithesis! why it must have been a labour far above the most difficult versification. There is a fine simile or picture of Semiramis arming to repel a siege. I do not mean to keep the book, for I suspect you are forming a curious collection, and I do not pretend to anything of the kind. I have not a black-letter book among mine, old Chaucer excepted, and am not bibliomanist enough to like black-letter. It is painful to read; therefore I must insist on returning it at opportunity, not from contumacy and reluctance to be obliged, but because it must suit you better than me. The loss of a present from should never exceed the gain of a present to. I hold this maxim infallible in the accepting line.—I read your magazines with satisfaction. I thoroughly agree with you as to "The German Faust,' as far as I can do justice to it from an English translation. "Tis a disagreeable canting tale of seduction, which has nothing to do with the spirit of Faustus —Curiosity. Was the dark secret to be explored, to end in the seducing of a weak girl, which might have been accomplished by earthly agency? When Marlow gives his Faustus a mistress, he flies him at Helen, flower of Greece, to be sure, and not at Miss Betsy, or Miss Sally Thoughtless.
• Cut is the branch that bore the goodly fruit,
"What a noble natural transition from metaphor to plain speaking! as if the figurative had flagged in description of such a loss, and was reduced to tell the fact simply.
"I must now thank you for your very kind invitation. It is not out of prospect that I may see Manchester some day, and then I will avail myself of your kindness. But holidays are scarce things with me, and the laws of attendance are getting stronger and stronger at Leadenhall. But I shall bear it in mind. Meantime, something may (more probably) bring you to town, where I shall be happy to see you. I am always to be found (alas!) at my desk in the fore part of the day.
"I wonder why they do not send the revise. I leave late at office, and my abode lies out of the way, or I should have seen about it. If you are impatient, perhaps a line to the printer, directing him to send it me, at Accountant's Office, may answer. You will
see by the scrawl that I only snatch a few minutes from intermitting business.
"Your obliged servant, C. Lamb."
"(If I had time I would go over this letter again, and dot all my 1*8.)"
To Ainsworth, still pressing him to visit Manchester, he sent the following reply.
TO MR. AINSWORTH.
"I. H., Dec. 29th, 1823.
"My dear sir,—You talk of months at a time, and I know not what inducements to visit Manchester, Heaven knows how gratifying! but I have had my little month of 1823 already. It is all over, and without incurring a disagreeable favour, I cannot so much as get a single holiday till the season returns with the next year. Even our halfhour's absences from office are set down in a book! Next year, if I can spare a day or two of it, I will come to Manchester, but I have reasons at home against longer absences.
"I am so ill just at present—(an illness of my own procuring last night; who is perfect ?).—that nothing but your very great kindness could make me write. I will bear in mind the letter to W. W., and you shall have it quite in time, before the 12th.
"My aching and confused head warns me to leave off. With a muddled sense of gratefulness, which I shall apprehend more clearly to-morrow, I remain, your friend unseen,
"Will your occasions or inclination bring you to London! It will give me great pleasure to show you everything that Islington can boast, if you know the meaning of that very Cockney sound. We have the New River! I am ashamed of this scrawl, but I beg you to accept it for the present. I am full of qualms.
'A fool at fifty is a fool indeed.'"
Bernard Barton still frequently wrote to him: and he did not withhold the wished-for reply even when letter-writing was a burthen. The following gives a ludicrous account of his indisposition:—