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them as in old Ezra's shrievalty they did for a Bible, almost without effect till the greatgreat-grand-niece (by the mother's side) of Jeremiah or Ezekiel (which was it 1) remembered something of a book, with odd reading in it, that used to lie in the green closet in her aunt Judith's bedchamber.
"Thy caterer, Price, was at Hamburgh when last Pople heard of him, laying up for thee like some miserly old father for his generous hearted son to squander.
"Mr. Charles Aders, whose books also pant for that free circulation which thy custody is sure to give them, is to be heard of at his kinsmen, Messrs. Jameson and Aders, No. 7, Laurence Pountney-lane, London, according to the information which Crabius with his parting breath left me. Crabius is gone to Paris. I prophesy he and the Parisians will part with mutual contempt. His head has a twist Allemagne, like thine, dear mystic.
"I have been reading Madame Stael on Germany. An impudent clever woman. But if 'Faust' be no better than in her abstract of it, I counsel thee to let it alone. How canst thou translate the language of cat-monkeys? Fie on such fantasies! But I will not forget to look for Proclus. It is a kind of book when one meets with it one shuts the lid faster than one opened it. Yet I have some bastard kind of recollection that some where, some time ago, upon some stall or other, I saw it. It was either that or Plotinus, or Saint Augustine's ' City of God.' So little do some folks value, what to others, tc. to you, 'well used,' had been the ' Pledge of Immortality.' Bishop Bruno I never touched upon. Stuffing too good for the brains of such 'a Hare' as thou describest. May it burst his pericranium, as the gobbets of fat and turpentine (a nasty thought of the seer) did that old dragon in the Apocrypha! May he go mad in trying to understand his author! May he lend the third volume of him before he has quite translated the second, to a friend who shall lose it, and so spoil the publication, and may his friend find it and send it him just as thou or some such less dilatory spirit shall have announced the whole for the press ; lastly, may he be hunted by Reviewers, and the devil jug him. Canst think of any other queries in the solution of which I can give thee satisfaction? Do you
want any books that I can procure for you? Old Jimmy Boyer is dead at last. Trollope has got his living, worth 1000?. a-year net. See, thou sluggard, thou heretic-sluggard, what mightest thou not have arrived at. Lay thy animosity against Jimmy in the grave. Do not entail it on thy posterity.
[1815 to 1817.]
LETTERS TO WORDSWORTH, SOUTHEY, AND MANNING.
It was at the beginning of the year 1815 that I had first the happiness of a personal acquaintance with Mr. Lamb. With his scattered essays and poems I had become familiar a few weeks before, through the instrumentality of Mr. Baron Field, now Chief Justice of Gibraltar, who had been brought into close intimacy with Lamb by the association of his own family with Christ's Hospital, of which his father was the surgeon, and by his own participation in the " Reflector." Living then in chambers in Inner Temple-lane, and attending those of Mr. Chitty, the special pleader, which were on the next staircase to Mr. Lamb's, I had been possessed some time by a desire to become acquainted with the writings of my gifted neighbour, which my friend was able only partially to gratify. "John Woodvil," and the number of the "Reflector " enriched with Lamb's article, he indeed lent me, but he had no copy of " Rosamund Gray," which I was most anxious to read, and which, after earnest search through all the bookstalls within the scope of my walks, I found, exhibiting proper marks of due appreciation, in the store of a little circulating library near Holborn. There was something in this little romance so entirely new, yet breathing the air of old acquaintance; a sense of beauty so delicate and so intense; and a morality so benignant and so profound, that, as I read it, my curiosity to see its author rose almost to the height of pain. The commencement of the new year brought me that gratification; I was invited to meet Lamb at dinner, at the house of Mr. William Evans, a gentleman holding an office in the India House, who then lived in Weymouth-street, and who was a proprietor of the "Pamphleteer," to which I had con tributed some idle scribblings. My duties at the office did not allow me to avail myself of this invitation to dinner, but I went up at ten o'clock, through a deep snow, palpably congealing into ice, and was amply repaid when I reached the hospitable abode of my friend. There was Lamb, preparing to depart, but he staid half an hour in kindness to me, and then accompanied me to our common home—the Temple.
Methinks I see him before me now, as he appeared then, and as he continued, with scarcely any perceptible alteration to me, during the twenty years of intimacy which followed, and were closed by his death. A light frame, so fragile that it seemed as if a breath would overthrow it, clad in clerk-like black, was surmounted by a head of form and expression the most noble and sweet. His black hair curled crisply about an expanded forehead; his eyes, softly brown, twinkled with varying expression, though the prevalent feeling was sad ; and the nose slightly curved, and delicately carved at the nostril, with the lower outline of the face regularly oval, completed a head which was finely placed on the shoulders, and gave importance, and even dignity, to a diminutive and shadowy stem. Who shall describe his countenance—catch its quivering sweetness —and fix it for ever in words? There are none, alas! to answer the vain desire of friendship. Deep thought, striving with humour ; the lines of suffering wreathed into cordial mirth ; and a smile of painful sweetness, present an image to the mind it can as little describe as lose. His personal appearance and manner are not unfitly characterised by what he himself says in one of his letters to Manning of Braham—" a compound of the Jew, the gentleman, and the angel." He took my arm, and we walked to the Temple, Lamb stammering out fine remarks as we walked ; and when we reached his staircase, he detained me with an urgency which would not be denied, and we mounted to the top story, where an old petted servant, called Becky, was ready to receive us. We were soon seated beside a cheerful fire; hot water and its better adjuncts were before us ; and
Lamb insisted on my sitting with him while he smoked "one pipe "—for, alas! for poor human nature—he had resumed his acquaintance with his "fair traitress." How often the pipe and the glasses were replenished, I will not undertake to disclose; but I can never forget the conversation: though the first, it was more solemn, and in higher mood, than any I ever after had with Lamb through the whole of our friendship. How it took such a turn between two strangers, one of them a lad of not quite twenty, I cannot tell; but so it happened. We discoursed then of life and death, and our anticipation of a world beyond the grave. Lamb spoke of these awful themes with the simplest piety, but expressed his own fond cleavings to life—to all well-known accustomed things —and a shivering (not shuddering) sense of that which is to come, which he so finely indicated in his "New Year's Eve," years afterwards. It was two o'clock before we parted, when Lamb gave me a hearty invitation to renew my visit at pleasure; but two or three months elapsed before I saw him again. In the meantime, a number of the "Pamphleteer" contained an "Essay on the Chief Living Poets," among whom on the title appeared the name of Lamb, and some page or two were expressly devoted to his praises. It was a poor tissue of tawdry eulogies—a shallow outpouring of young enthusiasm in fine words, which it mistakes for thoughts ; yet it gave Lamb, who had hitherto received scarcely civil notice from reviewers, great pleasure to find that any one recognised him as having a place among poets. The next time I saw him, he came almost breathless into the office, and proposed to give me what I should have chosen as the greatest of all possible honours and delights — an introduction to Wordsworth, who I learned, with a palpitating heart, was actually at the next door. I hurried out with my kind conductor, and a minute after was presented by Lamb to the person whom in all the world I venerated most, with this preface:—"Wordsworth, give me leave to introduce to you my only admirer."
The following letter was addressed to Wordsworth, after his return to Westmoreland from this visit:—
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
"Aug. 9th, 1815.
"Dear Wordsworth, — Mary and I felt quite queer after your taking leave (you W. W.) of us in St. Giles's. We wished we had seen more of you, but felt we had scarce been sufficiently acknowledging for the share we had enjoyed of your company. We felt as if we had been not enough expressive of our pleasure. But our manners both are a little too much on this side of too-muchcordiality. We want presence of mind and presence of heart. What we feel comes too late, like an after-thought impromptu. But perhaps you observed nothing of that which we have been painfully conscious of, and are every day in our intercourse with those we stand affected to through all the degrees of love. Robinson is on the circuit. Our panegyrist I thought had forgotten one of the objects of his youthful admiration, but I was agreeably removed from that scruple by the laundress knocking at my door this morning, almost before I was up, with a present of fruit from my young friend, &c. There is something inexpressibly pleasant to me in these presents, be it fruit, or fowl, or brawn, or what not. Books are a legitimate cause of acceptance. If presents be not the soul of friendship, undoubtedly they are the most spiritual part of the body of that intercourse. There is too much narrowness of thinking in this point. The punctilio of acceptance, methlnks, is too confined and strait-laced. I could be content to receive money, or clothes, or a joint of meat from a friend. Why should he not send me a dinner as well as a dessert? I would taste him in the beasts of the field, and through all creation. Therefore did the hasket of fruit of the juvenile Talfourd not displease me ; not that I have any thoughts of bartering or reciprocating these things. To send him anything in return, would be to reflect suspicion of mercenariness upon what I know he meant a free-will offering. Let him overcome me in bounty. In this strife a generous nature loves to be overcome. You wish me some of your leisure. I have a glimmering aspect, a chink-light of liberty before me, which I pray God prove not fallacious. My remonstrances have stirred up others to remonstrate, and, altogether, there is a plan for separating certain parts of
business from our department; which, if it take place, will produce me more time, i.e. my evenings free. It may be a means of placing me in a more conspicuous situation, which will knock at my nerves another way, but I wait the issue in submission. If I can but begin my own day at four o'clock in the afternoon, I shall think myself to have Eden days of peace and liberty to what I have had. As you say, how a man can fill three volumes up with an essay on the drama, is wonderful; I am sure a very few sheets would hold all I had to say on the subject.
"Did you ever read ' Charon on Wisdom 1' or ' Patrick's Pilgrim 1' If neither, you have two great pleasures to come. I mean some day to attack Caryl on Job, six folios. What any man can write, surely I may read. If I do but get rid of auditing warehousekeepers' accounts and get no worse-harassing task in the place of it, what a lord of libertyl shall be! I shall dance, and skip, and make mouths at the invisible event, and pick the thorns out of my pillow, and throw 'em at rich men's night-caps, and talk blank verse, hoity, toity, and sing—'A clerk I was in London gay,' 'Ban, ban, Ca-Caliban,' like the emancipated monster, and go where I like, up this street or down that alley. Adieu, and pray that it may be my luck.
"Good bye to you all. C. Lamb."
The following letter was inclosed in the same parcel with the last.
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
"Aug. 9th, 1815.
"Dear Southey,—Robinson is not on the circuit, as I erroneously stated in a letter to W. W., which travels with this, but is gone to Brussels, Ostend, Ghent, &c. But his friends, the Colliers, whom I consulted respecting your friend's fate, remember to have heard him say, that Father Pardo had effected his escape (the cunning greasy rogue), and to the best of their belief is at present in Paris. To my thinking, it is a small matter whether there be one fat friar more or less in the world. I have rather a taste for clerical executions, imbibed from early recollections of the fate of the excellent Dodd. I hear Bonaparte has sued his habeas corpus, and the twelve judges are now sitting upon it at the Rolls.
"Your boute-feu (bonfire) must be excellent of its kind. Poet Settle presided at the last great thing of the kind in London,' when the pope was burnt in form. Do you provide any verses on this occasion? Your fear for Hartley's intellectuals is just and rational. Could not the Chancellor be petitioned to remove him? His lordship took Mr. Betty from under the paternal wing. I think at least he should go through a course of matter-of-fact with some sober man after the mysteries. Could not he spend a week at Poole's before he goes back to Oxford? Tobin is dead. But there is a man in my office, a Mr. H., who proses it away from morning to night, and never gets beyond corporal and material verities. He'd get these crack-brain metaphysics out of the young gentleman's head as soon as any one I know. When I can't sleep o'nights, I imagine a dialogue with Mr. H., upon any given subject, and go prosing on in fancy with him, till I either laugh or fall asleep. I have literally found it answer. I am going to stand godfather; I don't like the business; I cannot muster up decorum for these occasions; I shall certainly disgrace the font. I was at Hazlitt's marriage, and had like to have been turned out several times during the ceremony. Any thing awful makes me laugh. I misbehaved once at a funeral. Yet I can read about these ceremonies with pious and proper feelings. The realities of life only seem the mockeries. I fear I must get cured along with Hartley, if not too inveterate. Don't you think Louis the Desirable is in a sort of quandary 1
"After all, Bonaparte is a fine fellow, as my barber says, and I should not mind standing bareheaded at his table to do him service in his fall. They should have given him Hampton Court or Kensington, with a tether extending forty miles round London. Qu. Would not the people have ejected the Brunswicks some day in his favour? Well, we shall see. C. Lamb."
The following was addressed to Southey in acknowledgment of his "Roderick," the most sustained and noble of his poems.
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
"May 6th, 1815. "Dear Southey,—I have received from Longman a copy of 'Roderick,' with the author's compliments, for which I much thank you. I don't know where I shall put all the noble presents I have lately received in that way ; the ' Excursion,' Wordsworth's two last vols., and now ' Roderick,' have come pouring in upon me like some irruption from Helicon. The story of the brave Maccabee was already, you may be sure, familiar to me in all its parts. I have, since the receipt of your present, read it quite through again, and with no diminished pleasure. I don't know whether I ought to say that it has given me more pleasure than any of your long poems. 'Kehama' is doubtless more powerful, but I don't feel that firm footing in it that I do in ' Roderick;' my imagination goes sinking and floundering in the vast spaces of unopened-before systems and faiths; I am put out of the pale of my old sympathies; my moral sense is almost outraged; I can't believe, or, with horror am made to believe, such desperate chances against omnipotences, such disturbances of faith to the centre; the more potent the more painful the spell. Jove, and his brotherhood of gods, tottering with the giant assailings, I can bear, for the soul's hopes are not struck at in such contests; but your Oriental almighties are too much types of the intangible prototype to be meddled with without shuddering. One never connects what are called the attributes with Jupiter. I mention only what diminishes my delight at the wonder-workings of' Kehama,' not what impeaches its power, which I confess with trembling; but 'Roderick' is a comfortable poem. It reminds me of the delight I took in the first reading of the 'Joan of Arc.' It is maturer and better than that, though not better to me now than that was then. It suits me better than Madoc. I am at home in Spain and Christendom. I have a timid imagination, I am afraid. I do not willingly admit of strange beliefs, or outof-the-way creeds or places. I never read books of travels, at least not farther than Paris, or Rome. I can just endure Moors, because of their connection as foes with Christians; but Abyssinians, Ethiops, Esquimaux, Dervises, and all that tribe, I hate. I believe I fear them in some manner. A Mahometan turban on the stage, though enveloping some well known face (Mr. Cook or Mr. Maddox, whom I see another day good Christian and English waiters, innkeepers, &c.), does not give me pleasure unalloyed. I am a Christian, Englishman, Londoner, Templar. God help me when I come to put off these snug relations, and to get abroad into the world to come! I shall be like the crow on the sand, as Wordsworth has it; but I won't think on it; no need I hope yet.
"The parts I have been most pleased with, both on first and second readings, perhaps, are Florinda's palliation of Roderick's crime, confessed to him in his disguise—the retreat of the Palayos family first discovered,—his being made king—' For acclamation one form must serve, more solemn for the breach of old observances.* Roderick's vow is extremely fine, and his blessing on the vow of Alphonso:
* Towards the troop he spread his arms,
"It struck me forcibly that the feeling of these last lines might have been suggested to you by the Cartoon of Paul at Athens. Certain it is that a better motto or guide to that famous attitude can no where be found. I shall adopt it as explanatory of that violent, hut dignified motion. I must read again Landor's 'Julian.' I have not read it some time. I think he must have failed in Roderick, for I remember nothing of him, nor of any distinct character as a character'—only fine sounding passages. I remember thinking also he had chosen a point of time after the event, as it were, for Roderick survives to no use; but my memory is weak, and I will not wrong a fine poem by trusting to it. The notes to your poem I have not read again; but it will be a take-downable book on my shelf, and they will serve sometimes at breakfast, or times too light for the text to be duly appreciated. Though some of 'em, one of the serpent penance, is serious enough, now I think on't. Of Coleridge I hear nothing, nor of the Morgans. I hope to have him like a re-appearing star, standing up before me some time when least expected in London, as has been the case whylear.
"I am doing nothing (as the phrase is) but reading presents, and walk away what of the day-hours I can get from hard occupation. Pray accept once more my hearty thanks, and expression of pleasure for your remembrance of me. My sister desires her kind respects to Mrs. S. and to all at Keswick. "Yours truly, C. Lamb."
"The next present I look for is the ' White Doe.' Have you seen Mat. Betham's 'Lay of Marie V I think it very delicately pretty as to sentiment, &c."
The following is an extract of a letter, addressed shortly afterwards,
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
"Since I saw you I have had a treat in the reading way, which comes not every day; the Latin poems of Vincent Bourne, which were quite new to me. What a heart that man had, all laid out upon town scenes, a proper counterpart to some people's extravagances.—Why I mention him is, that your 'Power of Music' reminded me of his poem of the ballad-singer in the Seven Dials. Do you remember his epigram on the old woman who taught Newton the A, B, C, which, after all, he says, he hesitates not to call Newton's Principia?
"I was lately fatiguing myself with going over a volume of fine words by , excellent words; and if the heart could live by words alone, it could desire no better regale; but what an aching vacuum of matter! I don't stick at the madness of it, for that is only a consequence of shutting his eyes, and thinking he is in the age of the old Elizabeth poets. From thence I turned to V. Bourne; what a sweet, unpretending, pretty-manner'd, matterful creature! sucking from every flower, making a flower of everything. His diction all Latin, and his thoughts all English. Bless him! Latin wasn't good enough for him. Why wasn't he content with the language which Gay and Prior wrote in?"
The associations of Christmas increased the fervour of Lamb's wishes for Manning's return, which he now really hoped for. On Christmas-day he addressed a letter to him at Canton, and the next day another to meet