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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 negli
ritory 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 Sy 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 į 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 com
well for me, better than anything short of all prehended, that when he has told us a 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, who I must say the ‘sincerity of the season ; ' 1 wishes to impress something upon their hope they both mean the same. With memories, and has a wonderful 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 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. has given me no reason to revoke. I mention this, as
merit, which a further perusal of the printed volume 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 to 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, I own) courts him behis confinement to the desk obtained. This cause he has no oecasion to court it. He is a poet, nor sense of the blessings which a fixed income, is he less so because he is something more. I am not
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 patronising. But a truly wellclerkly 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 po
“Your obliged and obedient servant, one has pursued a steadier course on the
TO BERNARD BARTON.
every star, that Providence, not seeing good
to make me independent, has seen it next
January 9th, 1823. good to settle me upon the stable foundation « « Throw yourself on the world without of Leadenhall. Sit down, good B. B., in the any rational plan of support, beyond what the banking-office; what! is there not from six chance employ of booksellers would afford to eleven P.m. six days in the week, and is you !!!'
there not all Sunday? Fie, what a super“ Throw yourself rather, my dear sir, from fuity of man’s-time, if you could think so ! the steep Tarpeian rock, slap-dash headlong Enough for relaxation, mirth, converse, upon iron spikes. If you had but five con- poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. Oh solatory minutes between the desk and the the corroding, torturing, tormenting thoughts, bed, make much of them, and live a century that disturb the brain of the unlucky wight, in them, rather than turn slave to the book- who must draw upon it for daily sustenance ! sellers. They are Turks and Tartars, when Henceforth I retract all my fond complaints they have poor authors at their beck. of mercantile employment ; look upon them Hitherto you have been at arm's length from as lovers’ quarrels. I was but half in earnest. them. Come not within their grasp. I have Welcome dead timber of a desk, that makes known many authors want for bread, some me live. A little grumbling is a wholesome repining, others envying the blessed security medicine for the spleen, but in my inner of a counting-house, all agreeing they had heart do I approve and embrace this our rather have been tailors, weavers—what not? close, but unharassing way of life. I am rather than the things they were. I have quite serious. If you can send me Fox, I known some starved, some to go mad, one will not keep it six weeks, and will return it, dear friend literally dying in a workhouse. with warm thanks to yourself and friend, You know not what a rapacious, dishonest without blot or dog's-ear. You will much set these booksellers are. Ask even Southey, oblige me by this kindness. who (a single case almost) bas made a fortune
“ Yours truly,
C. LAMB.” by book-drudgery, what he has found them. Oh, you know not, may you never know ! Lamb thus communicated to Mr. Barton the miseries of subsisting by authorship. his prosecution of his researches into Primi'Tis a pretty appendage to a situation like tive Quakerism. yours or mine ; but a slavery, worse than all slavery, to be a bookseller's dependant, to
TO BERNARD BARTON. drudge your brains for pots of ale, and breasts
“February 17th, 1823. of mutton, to change your free thoughts and “My dear Sir,- I have read quite through voluntary numbers for ungracious task-work. the ponderous folio of George Fox. I think Those fellows hate us. The reason I take to Sewell has been judicious in omitting certain be, that contrary to other trades, in which parts, as for instance where G. F. has revealed the master gets all the credit, (a jeweller or to him the natures of all the creatures in silversmith for instance,) and the journey their names, as Adam had. He luckily turns man, who really does the fine work, is in the aside from that compendious study of natural back-ground: in our work the world gives history, which might have superseded Buffon, all the credit to us, whom they consider as to his proper spiritual pursuits, only just their journeymen, and therefore do they hate hinting what a philosopher he might have us, and cheat us, and oppress us, and would been. The ominous passage is near the wring the blood of us out, to put another beginning of the book. It is clear he means sixpence in their mechanic pouches! I con- a physical knowledge, without trope or figure. tend that a bookseller has a relative honesty Also, pretences to miraculous healing, and towards authors, not like his honesty to the the like, are more frequent than I should rest of the world.
have suspected from the epitome in Sewell. “Keep to your bank, and the bank will He is nevertheless a great spiritual man, and keep you. Trust not to the public; you I feel very much obliged by your procuring may hang, starve, drown yourself, for any- me the loan of it. How I like the Quaker thing that worthy personage cares. I bless phrases, though I think they were hardly
TO BERNARD BARTON.
completed till Woolman. A pretty little other, without paying anything, * had excited manual of Quaker language (with an endea- some gentle remonstrance on the part of vour to explain them) might be gathered out Barton's sister, to which Lamb thus replied. of his book. Could not you do it? I have read through G. F. without finding any explanation of the term first volume in the
“March 11th, 1823. title-page. It takes in all, both his life and "Dear Sir,—The approbation of my little his death. Are there more last words of book by your sister is very pleasing to me. him ? Pray how may I return it to Mr. The Quaker incident did not happen to me, Shewell at Ipswich ? I fear to send such a but to Carlisle the surgeon, from whose mouth treasure by a stage-coach ; not that I am I have twice heard it, at an interval of ten or afraid of the coachman or the guard reading twelve years, with little or no variation, and it; but it might be lost. Can you put me have given it as exactly as I could remember in a way of sending it in safety? The kind- it. The gloss which your sister or you have hearted owner trusted it to me for six put upon it, does not strike me as correct. months ; I think I was about as many days Carlisle drew no inference from it against the in getting through it, and I do not think that honesty of the Quakers, but only in favour I skipt a word of it. I have quoted G. F. in of their surpassing coolness ; that they should my “Quakers' Meeting,' as having said he be capable of committing a good joke, with lifted
up in spirit, (which I felt at the an utter insensibility to its being any jest at time to be not a Quaker phrase,' and the all. I have reason to believe in the truth of judge and jury were as dead men under his it, because, as I have said, I heard him repeat feet.' I find no such words in his journal, it without variation at such an interval. The and I did not get them from Sewell, and the story loses sadly in print, for Carlisle is the latter sentence I am sure I did not mean to best story-teller I ever heard. The idea of invent: I must have put some other Quaker's the discovery of roasting pigs I also borrowed, words into his mouth. Is it a fatality in me, from my friend Manning, and am willing to that everything I touch turns into a lie?' confess both my plagiarisms. Should fate I once quoted two lines from a translation of ever so order it that you shall ever be in Dante, which Hazlitt very greatly admired, town with your sister, mine bids me say, that and quoted in a book as proof of the stupend- she shall have great pleasure in being introous power of that poet, but no such lines duced to her. Your endeavour at explaining are to be found in the translation, which has Fox's insight into the natures of animals been searched for the purpose. I must have must fail, as I shall transcribe the passage. dreamed them, for I am quite certain I did It appears to me that he stopt short in time, not forge them knowingly. What a mis- and was on the brink of falling with his fortune to have a lying memory! Your friend Naylor, my favourite. The book shall description of Mr. Mitford's place makes me be forthcoming whenever your friend can long for a pippin and some caraways, and a make convenient to call for it. cup of sack in his orchard, when the sweets “ They have dragged me again into the of the night come in.
Magazine, but I feel the spirit of the thing “ Farewell.
in my own mind quite gone. "Some brains “C. LAMB." (I think Ben Jonson says it) 'will endure
but one skimming. We are about to have In the beginning of the year 1823, the an inundation of poetry from the Lakes
Essays of Elia,” collected in a volume, were Wordsworth and Southey are coming up published by Messrs. Taylor and Hessey, who strong from the north. How did you like had become the proprietors of the “ London Hartley's sonnets ? The first, at least, is Magazine.” The book met with a rapid vastly fine. I am ashamed of the shabby sale, while the magazine in which its contents letters I send, but I am by nature anything had appeared, declined. The anecdote of the but neat. Therein my mother bore me no three Quakers gravely walking out of the Quaker. I never could seal a letter without inn where they had taken tea on the road, on an extortionate demand, one after the See “Imperfect Sympathies."-Essays of Elia, p. 74.
dropping the wax on one side, besides scalding the vein lately. A philosophical treatise is my fingers. I never had a seal, too, of my wanting, of the causes of the backwardness own. Writing to a great man lately, who is with which persons after a certain time of moreover very heraldic, I borrowed a seal of life set about writing a letter. I always feel a friend, who by the female side quarters the as if I had nothing to say, and the performProtectoral arms of Cromwell. How they ance generally justifies the presentiment. must have puzzled my correspondent ! My “I do not exactly see why the goose and letters are generally charged as double at the little goslings should emblematise a Quaker Post-office, from their inveterate clumsiness poet that has no children. But after all of foldure ; so you must not take it disre- perhaps it is a pelican. The 'Mene, Mene, spectful to yourself, if I send you such un- Tekel, Upharsin' around it I cannot decigainly scraps. I think I lose 1001. a-year at pher. The songster of the night pouring the India House, owing solely to my want of out her effusions amid a silent meeting of neatness in making up accounts. How I madge-owlets, would be at least intelligible. puzzle 'em out at last is the wonder. I have A full pause here comes upon me as if I had to do with millions !!
not a word more left. I will shake my brain, " It is time to have done my incoherences. Once ! Twice !--nothing comes up. George “ Believe me, yours truly, Fox recommends waiting on these occasions. 6 C. LAMB." I wait. Nothing comes.
G. Fox-that sets
me off again. I have finished the 'Journal,' Lamb thus records a meeting with the and 400 more pages of the “Doctrinals, poets.
which I picked up for 78. 6d. If I get on at TO BERNARD BARTON.
this rate, the society will be in danger of
“ April 5th, 1823. having two Quaker poets—to patronise. “ Dear Sir, I wished for you yesterday. “ Believe me cordially yours, I dined in Parnassus, with Wordsworth,
“ C. LAMB." Coleridge, Rogers, and Tom Moore,-half the poetry of England constellated and clustered in Gloucester Place! It was a delightful The following letter was addressed to evening ! Coleridge was in his finest vein of Mr. Procter, in acknowledgment of a miniatalk-had all the talk; and let 'em talk as ture of Pope which he had presented to evilly as they do of the envy of poets, I am Lamb. sure not one there but was content to be nothing but a listener. The Muses were
TO MR, PROCTER. dumb, while Apollo lectured, on his and
“ April 13th, 1823. their fine art. It is a lie that poets are “ Dear Lad,You must think me a brute envious ; I have known the best of them, beast, a rhinoceros, never to have acknowand can speak to it, that they give each other ledged the receipt of your precious present. their merits, and are the kindest critics as But indeed I am none of those shocking well as best authors. I am scribbling a things, but have arrived at that indisposition muddy epistle with an aching head, for we to letter-writing, which would make it a hard did not quaff Hippocrene last night; marry, exertion to write three lines to a king to it was hippocrass rather. Pray accept this spare a friend's life. Whether it is that the as a letter in the mean time, C. L." Magazine paying me so much a page, I am
loath to throw away composition-how much Here is an apology for a letter, referring a sheet do you give your correspondents ? to a seal used on the letter to which this is I have hung up Pope, and a gem it is, in my an answer—the device was a pelican feeding town room; I hope for your approval. Though her young from her own breast.
it accompanies the ` Essay on Man,' I think
that was not the poem he is here meditating. TO BERNARD BARTON.
He would have looked up, somehow affectedly,
“May 3rd, 1823. if he were just conceiving ‘Awake, my St. “ Dear Sir, I am vexed to be two letters John. Neither is he in the · Rape of the in your debt, but I have been quite out of Lock’ mood exactly. I think he has just