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something paternal. But whether in all tears. He went home “ a
and a wiser respects the future man shall transcend his man ; ” returned again to the theatre, whenfather's fame, Time, the trier of Geniuses, ever the healing enjoyments could be renewed must decide. Be it pronounced peremptorily there ; and sought the acquaintance of the at present, that Willy is a well-mannered actor who had broken the melancholy spell child, and though no great student, hath yet in which he was enthralled, and had restored a lively eye for things that lie before him. the pulses of his nature to their healthful
“Given in haste from my desk at Leaden- beatings. The year 1820 gave Lamb an hall.
interest in Macready beyond that which he “Yours, and yours most sincerely, had derived from the introduction of Lloyd,
“C. LAMB." arising from the power with which he ani
mated 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 CHAPTER XII.
hearty companion; but he had not guessed (1820 to 1823.)
at the extraordinary dramatic power which LETTERS TO WORDSWORTI, COLERIDGE, FIELD, Wilson, lay ready for kindling in his brain, and still
less at the delicacy of tact with which he had The widening circle of Lamb's literary unveiled the sources of the most profound friends now embraced additional authors and affections. Lamb had almost lost his taste actors,-famous, or just bursting into fame. for acted tragedy, as the sad realities of life He welcomed in the author of the “Dramatic had pressed more nearly on him; yet he Scenes,” who chose to appear in print as made an exception in favour of the first and Barry Cornwall, a spirit most congenial with happiest part of “ Virginius,” those paternal his own in its serious moods,—one whose scenes, which stand alone in the modern genius he had assisted to impel towards its drama, and which Macready informed with kindred models, the great dramatists of the fulness of a father's affection. Elizabeth's time, and in whose success he The establishment of the “London Magareceived the first and best reward of the zine,” under the auspices of Mr. John Scott, efforts he had made to inspire a taste for occasioned Lamb's introduction to the public these old masters of humanity. Mr. Macready, by the name, under colour of which he who had just emancipated himself from the acquired his most brilliant reputationdrudgery of representing the villains of tra- “ Elia." The adoption of this signature was gedy, by his splendid performance of Richard, purely accidental. His first contribution to was introduced to him by his old friend the magazine was a description of the Old Charles Lloyd, who had visited London for South-Sea House, where Lamb had passed a change of scene, under great depression of few months' noviciate as a clerk, thirty years spirits. Lloyd owed a debt of gratitude to before, and of its inmates who had long Macready which exemplified the true uses of passed away; and remembering the name of the acted drama with a force which it would a gay, light-hearted foreigner, who fluttered take many sermons of its stoutest opponents there at that time, he subscribed his name to to reason away. A deep gloom had gradually the essay. It was afterwards affixed to subovercast his mind, and threatened wholly to sequent contributions ; and Lamb used it encircle it, when he was induced to look in until, in his “Last Essays of Elia,” he bade at Covent-Garden Theatre and witness the it a sad farewell. performance of Rob Roy. The picture which The perpetual influx of visitors whom he he then beheld of the generous outlaw,—the could not repel ; whom indeed he was always frank, gallant, noble bearing,—the air and glad to welcome, but whose visits unstrung movements, as of one “ free of mountain him, induced him to take lodgings at Dalston, solitudes,"—the touches of manly pathos and to which he occasionally retired when he irresistible cordiality, delighted and melted wished for repose. The deaths of some who him, won him from his painful introspections, were dear to him cast a melancholy tinge on and brought to him the unwonted relief of his mind, as may be seen in the following:
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
for a few years between the grave and the
desk : they are the same, save that at the
“March 20th, 1822. latter you are the outside machine. The "My dear Wordsworth,-A letter from foul enchanter — 'letters four do form his you is very grateful ; I have not seen a name -Busirare is his name in hell—that Kendal postmark so long! We are pretty has curtailed you of some domestic comforts, well, save colds and rheumatics, and a certain hath laid a heavier hand on me, not in deadness to everything, which I think I may present infliction, but in the taking away the date from poor John's loss, and another hope of enfranchisement. I dare not whisper accident or two at the same time, that has to myself a pension on this side of absolute made me almost bury myself at Dalston, incapacitation and infirmity, till years have where yet I see more faces than I could wish. sucked me dry ;-Otium cum indignitate. I Deaths overset one, and put one out long had thought in a green old age (Oh green after the recent grief. Two or three have thought !) to have retired to Ponder's End, died within this last two twelvemonths, and emblematic name, how beautiful! in the so many parts of me have been numbed. Ware Road, there to have made up my One sees a picture, reads an anecdote, starts accounts with Heaven and the company, a casual fancy, and thinks to tell of it to this toddling about between it and Cheshunt, person in preference to every other: the anou stretching, on some fine Isaac Walton person is gone whom it would have peculiarly morning, to Hoddesdon or Amwell, careless suited. It won't do for another. Every as a beggar ; but walking, walking ever till departure destroys a class of sympathies. I fairly walked myself off my legs, dying There's Capt. Burney gone! What fun has walking! The hope is gone. I sit like whist now! what matters it what you lead, Philomel all day (but not singing), with my if you can no longer fancy him looking over breast against this thorn of a desk, with the you? One never hears anything, but the only hope that some pulmonary affliction image of the particular person occurs with may relieve me. Vide Lord Palmerston's whom alone almost you would care to share report of the clerks in the War-office, the intelligence—thus one distributes oneself (Debates this morning's ‘Times,') by which about-and now for so many parts of me I it appears, in twenty years as many clerks have lost the market. Common natures do have been coughed and catarrhed out of it not suffice me. Good people, as they are into their freer graves. Thank you for called, won't serve. I want individuals. I asking about the pictures. Milton hangs am made up of queer points, and I want so over my fire-side in Covent Garden, (when many answering needles. The going away I am there,) the rest have been sold for an of friends does not make the remainder more old song, wanting the eloquent tongue that precious. It takes so much from them as should have set them off! You have gratified there was a common link. A. B. and c. me with liking my meeting with Dodd.* For make a party. A. dies. B. not only loses the Malvolio story—the thing is become in A.; but all A.'s part in C. C. loses A.'s part verity a sad task, and I eke it out with anyin B., and so the alphabet sickens by subtrac- thing. If I could slip out of it I should be tion of interchangeables. I express myself happy, but our chief-reputed assistants have muddily, capite dolente. I have a dulling cold. forsaken us. The Opium-Eater crossed us My theory is to enjoy life, but my practice once with a dazzling path, and hath as is against it. I grow ominously tired of suddenly left us darkling ; and, in short, I official confinement. Thirty years have I shall go on from dull to worse, because I served the Philistines, and my neck is not cannot resist the booksellers' importunitysubdued to the yoke. You don't know how the old plea you know of authors, but I wearisome it is to breathe the air of four believe on my part sincere. Hartley I do pent walls, without relief, day after day, all not so often see ; but I never see him in the golden hours of the day between ten and unwelcome hour. I thoroughly love and four, without ease or interposition. Tædet me harum quotidianarum formarum, these pesti- Jem White, in Elia's Essay, “ On some of the Old
* See the account of the meeting between Dodd and lential clerk-faces always in one's dish. Oh Actors.”
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, 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 0
“Yours (short of pig) to command in in the business. I never 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,
TO MR. BARRON FIELD.
O base and coward luck!
seethed, plain, with parsley and butter, would “Our joint hearty remembrances to both have been the decision of Apicius. Paris is of you. Yours, as ever, C. LAMB." a glorious picturesque old city. London looks mean and new to it, as the town of Soon after Lanıb's return from Paris he Washington would, seen after it. But they became acquainted with the poet of the have no St. Paul's, or Westminster Abbey. Quakers, Bernard Barton, who, like himself, The Seine, so much despised by Cockneys, is was engaged in the drudgery of figures. The exactly the size to run through a magnificent pure and gentle tone of the poems of his new street ; palaces a mile fong on one side, lofty acquaintance was welcome to Lamb, who Edinbro' stone (O the glorious antiques !) had more sympathy with the truth of nature houses on the other. The Thames disunites in modest guise than in the affected fury of London and Southwark. I had Talma to Lord Byron, or the dreamy extravagancies supper with me. He has picked up, as I of Shelley. Lamb had written in “ Elia” of believe, an authentic portrait of Shakspeare. the Society of Friends with the freedom of He paid a broker about 401. English for it. one, who, with great respect for the principles It is painted on the one half of a pair of of the founders of their faith, had little in bellows — a lovely picture, corresponding common with a sect who shunned the with the folio head. The bellows has old pleasures while they mingled in the business carved wings round it, and round the visnomy of the world; and a friendly expostulation is inscribed, as near as I remember, not on the part of Mr. Barton led to such cordial divided into rhyme-I found out the rhyme- excuses as completely won the heart of the Whom have we here
Quaker bard. Some expression which Lamb Stuck on this bellows,
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 At top
inconsistent with his creed, induced Mr.
Barton to write to Lamb on his return to
Woodbridge, who replied as follows :-
“ India House, 11th Sept. 1822. Pistol.
“ 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 4000l. ? 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
TO BERNARD BARTON.
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 of business, in the green fields and the town,
work. I shall be glad to hear that your To plough, loom, anvil, spade; and oh, most sad, grievance is mitigated. To that dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood ? Who but the being unblest, alien from good,
“I am returning a poor letter. I was Sabbathless Satan ! he who his unglad
formerly a great scribbler in that way, but Task ever plies, 'mid rotatory burnings,
my hand is out of order. If I said my head That round and round incalculably reel; For wrath Divine hath made him like a wheel
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, He and his thoughts keep pensive working-day.'
end (after my best thanks, with a hope to see
you again some time in London), begging you “I fancy the sentiment exprest above will to accept this letteret for a lettera 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, letter 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 in after
TO BERNARD BARTON.
TO BERNARD BARTON.