Зображення сторінки

the genial side of character; and, instead of For its matter I mean. I cannot say the disliking the rake in the critic, thought it style of it quite satisfies me. It is too pleasant to detect so much taste and good-lyrical. The auditors to whom it is feigned nature in a fashionable roué; and regarded to be told, do not arride me. I had rather all his vapid gaiety, which to severer observ- it had been told me, the reader, at once. ers looked like impertinence, as the playful 'Hartleap Well’ is the tale for me; in effusion of a remarkably guileless nature. matter as good as this, in manner infinitely We lost sight of him when the career of the before it, in my poor judgment. Why did “London Magazine " ended ; and Lamb did you not add “The Waggoner'? – Have I not live to learn the sequel of his history. thanked you, though, yet, for 'Peter Bell’?

I would not not have it for a good deal of

money. C- is very foolish to scribble In 1819, Mr. Wordsworth, encouraged by about books. Neither his tongue nor fingers the extending circle of his earnest admirers, are very retentive. But I shall not say anyannounced for publication his “Peter Bell” thing to him about it. He would only begin a -a poem written in the first enthusiasm of very long story with a very long face, and I his system, and exemplifying, amidst beauty see him far too seldom to teaze him with and pathos of the finest essence, some of its affairs of business or conscience when I do most startling peculiarities. Some wicked see him. He never comes near our house, jester, gifted with more ingenuity and bold- and when we go to see him he is generally ness than wit, anticipated the real “Simon writing, or thinking: he is writing in his Pure," by a false one, burlesquing some of study till the dinner comes, and that is the characteristics of the poet's homeliest scarce over before the stage summons us style. This grave hoax produced the follow- away. The mock ‘P. B.' had only this effect ing letter from Lamb, appropriately written on me, that after twice reading it over in in alternate lines of red and black ink, till hopes to find something diverting in it, I the last sentence, in which the colours are reached your two books off the shelf, and alternated, word by word-even to the sig- set into a steady reading of them, till I had nature—and“ Mary's love," at the close; so nearly finished both before I went to bed. that “Mary” is black, and her "love" red. The two of your last edition, of course, I mean.

And in the morning I awoke determined to take down the Excursion. I wish the

scoundrel imitator could know this. But “ Dear Wordsworth,—I received a copy of why waste a wish on him? I do not believe ' Peter Bell' a week ago, and I hope the that paddling about with a stick in a pond, author will not be offended if I say I do not and fishing up a dead author, whom his much relish it. The humour, if it is meant intolerable wrongs had driven to that deed for humour, is forced ; and then the price ! of desperation, would turn the heart of one -sixpence would have been dear for it. of these obtuse literary BELLS. There is no Mind I do not mean your ‘Peter Bell,' but Cock for such Peters;-hang 'em! I am a ‘Peter Bell,' which preceded it about a glad this aspiration came upon the red ink week, and is in every bookseller's shop line. It is more of a bloody curse. I have window in London, the type and paper delivered over your other presents to nothing differing from the true one, the Alsager and G. D. A., I am sure, will value preface signed W. W., and the supplemen- it, and be proud of the hand from which it tary preface quoting as the author's words came. To G. D. a poem is a poem. His an extract from the supplementary preface own as good as anybody's, and, God bless to the 'Lyrical Ballads. Is there no law him ! anybody's as good as his own ; for I against these rascals? I would have this do not think he has the most distant guess Lambert Simnel whipt at the cart's tail of the possibility of one poem being better Who started the spurious ‘P. B.' I have not than another. The gods, by denying him heard. I should guess, one of the sneering the very faculty itself of discrimination, have

; but I have heard no name mentioned. effectually cut off every seed of envy in his * Peter Bell’ (not the mock one) is excellent. bosom. But with envy, they excided curiosity


« 1819.

also; and if you wish the copy again, which closed. The dreary sea is filled up. He has

! you destined for him, I think I shall be able lately been at work 'telling again, as they to find it again for you, on his third shelf, call it, a most gratuitous piece of mischief, where he stuffs his presentation copies, and has caused a coolness betwixt me and a uncut, in shape and matter resembling a (not friend exactly, but) intimate acquaintlump of dry dust; but on carefully removing ance. I suspect also, he saps Manning's that stratum, a thing like a pamphlet will faith in me, who am to Manning more than emerge. I have tried this with tifty different an acquaintance. Still I like his writing poetical works that have been given G. D. verses about you. Will your kind host and in return for as many of his own per- hostess give us a dinner next Sunday, and formances, and I confess I never had any better still, not expect us if the weather scruple in taking my own again, wherever I is very bad. Why you should refuse twenty found it, shaking the adherences off—and by guineas per sheet for Blackwood's or any this means one copy of my works' served other magazine passes my poor comprehenfor G. D.-and, with a little dusting, was sion. But, as Strap says, “you know best.' made over to my good friend Dr. G- I have no quarrel with you about præpranwho little thought whose leavings he was dial avocations, so don't imagine one. That taking when he made me that graceful bow. Manchester sonnet * I think very likely is By the way, the Doctor is the only one of Capel Lofft's. Another sonnet appeared with my acquaintance who bows gracefully, my the same initials in the same paper, which town acquaintance, I mean. How do you turned out to be P-_'s. What do the like my way of writing with two inks? I rascals mean? Am I to have the fathering think it is pretty and motley. Suppose of what idle rhymes every beggarly poetMrs. W. adopts it, the next time she holds aster pours forth! Who put your marine the pen for you. My dinner waits. I have sonnet ‘about Browne’into Blackwood'? no time to indulge any longer in these I did not. So no more, till we meet. laborious curiosities. God bless you, and

C. L.” cause to thrive and burgeon whatsoever you write, and fear no inks of miserable poetasters. Yours truly,

The following letter (of post-mark 1822) is “ CHARLES LAMB. addressed to Trinity College, Cambridge, “ Mary's love."

when Miss Wordsworth was visiting her

brother, Dr. Wordsworth. The following letter, probably written about this time, is entirely in red ink.


“ Mary perfectly approves of the approTO MR. COLERIDGE.

priation of the feathers, and wishes them “Dear Coleridge, -A letter written in the peacock’s for your fair niece's sake. blood of your poor friend would indeed be of a nature to startle you ; but this is nought but harmless red ink, or, as the witty mer

“Dear Miss Wordsworth, I had just cantile phrase bath it, clerk’s blood. Hang written the above endearing words when 'em! my brain, skin, flesh, bone, carcase,

M- tapped me on the shoulder with an soul, time is all theirs. The Royal Exchange, invitation to cold goose pie, which I was Gresham's Folly, hath me body and spirit. not bird of that sort enough to decline. I admire some of —'s lines on you, and I Mrs. M- I am most happy to say, is admire your postponing reading them. He better. Mary has been tormented with a is a sad tattler, but this is under the rose. rheumatism, which is leaving her. I am Twenty years ago he estranged one friend suffering from the festivities of the season. I from me quite, whom I have been regretting, wonder how my misused carcase holds it out. but never could regain since ; he almost I have played the experimental philosopher alienated you also from me, or me from you,

Blackwood,” dated Manchester, and I don't know which. But that breach is signed C. L.

“ Ever yours,

[ocr errors]

“ 1822.

• A sonnet in "


on it, that's certain. Willy * shall be wel- so much better hands! Will Dr. W. accept come to a mince-pie, and a bout at com- of my respects at the end of a foolish letter? merce whenever he comes. He was in our

"C. L." eye. I am glad you liked my new year's speculations, everybody likes them, except The following letter to Mr. Walter Wilson, the author of the ‘Pleasures of Hope.' Dis- who was composing a “Life of De Foe,” in appointment attend him! How I like to be reply to inquiries on various points of the liked, and what I do to be liked! They great novelist's history, is dated 24th Feb., flatter me in magazines, newspapers, and all 1823. the minor reviews; the Quarterlies hold aloof. But they must come into it in time, or their leaves be waste paper. Salute Trinity

“Dear W.,~I write that you may not Library in my name. Two special things think me neglectful, not that I have anything are worth seeing at Cambridge, a portrait to say. In answer to your questions, it was of Cromwell, at Sydney, and a better of at your house I saw an edition of 'Roxana,' Dr. Harvey, (who found out that blood was the preface to which stated that the author red) at Dr. Davy's; you should see them. had left out all that part of it which related Coleridge is pretty well; I have not seen to Roxana's daughter persisting in imagining him, but hear often of him from Allsop, who herself to be so, in spite of the mother's sends me hares and pheasants twice a week; denial, from certain hints she had picked up, I can hardly take so fast as he gives. I have and throwing herself continually in her almost forgotten butcher's meat, as plebeian. mother's way (as Savage is said to have done Are you not glad the cold is gone? I find in the way of his, prying in at windows to winters not so agreeable as they used to be get a glimpse of her), and that it was by 'when winter bleak had charms for me. I advice of Southern, who objected to the cannot conjure up a kind similitude for those circumstances as being untrue, when the snowy flakes. Let them keep to twelfth rest of the story was founded on fact; which cakes!

shows S. to have been a stupid-ish fellow. “ Mrs. Pour Cambridge friend, has The incidents so resemble Savage's story, been in town. You do not know the W's that I taxed Godwin with taking Falkner in Trumpington Street. They are capital from his life by Dr. Johnson. You should people. Ask anybody you meet who is the have the edition (if you have not parted with biggest woman in Cambridge, and I'll hold it), for I saw it never but at your place at you a wager they'll say Mrs. - ; she broke the Mews' Gate, nor did I then read it to down two benches in Trinity gardens, one on compare it with my own; only I know the the confines of St. John's, which occasioned a daughter's curiosity is the best part of my litigation between the Societies as to re- Roxana.' The prologue you speak of was pairing it. In warm weather, she retires mine, and so named, but not worth much. into an ice-cellar (literally !), and dates the You ask me for two or three pages of verse. returns of the years from a hot Thursday I have not written so much since you knew some twenty years back. She sits in a room me. I am altogether prosaic. May be I with opposite doors and windows, to let in a may touch off a sonnet in time. I do not thorough draught, which gives her slenderer prefer Colonel Jack' to either Robinson friends tooth-aches. She is to be seen in the Crusoe ' or 'Roxana.' I only spoke of the market every morning at ten cheapening beginning of it, his childish history. The fowls, which I observe the Cambridge poul rest is poor. I do not know anywhere any terers are not sufficiently careful to stump. good character of De Foe besides what you

“Having now answered most of the points mention.* I do not know that Swift mencontained in your letter, let me end with assuring you of our very best kindness, and

. Those who wish to read an admirable character of

De Foe, associated with the most valuable information excuse Mary for not handling the pen on respecting his personal history, should revert to an article this occasion, especially as it has fallen into in the " Edinburgh Review" on De Foe, attributed to

the author of the “Lives of the Statesmen of the Com• Mr. Wordsworth's second son, then at the Charter- monwealth," and of the delightful “ Biography of Oliver house.

Goldsmith,” almost as charming as its subject.

tions him ; Pope does. I forget if D’Israeli iron one of the two that'shuts amain'—and has. Dunlop I think has nothing of him. that is the reason I am locked up. MeanHe is quite new ground, and scarce known while of afternoons we pick up primroses at beyond 'Crusoe.' I do not know who wrote Dalston, and Mary corrects me when I call 'Quarl.' I never thought of 'Quarl' as 'em cowslips. God bless you all, and pray, rehaving an author. It is a poor imitation ; member me euphoniously to Mr. Gthe monkey is the best in it, and his pretty That Lee Priory must be a dainty bower. dishes made of shells. Do you know the paper Is it built of flints ?--and does it stand at in the ‘Englishman' by Sir Richard Steele, Kingsgate ? " giving an account of Selkirk? It is admirable, and has all the germs of 'Crusoe.' You must quote it entire. Captain G. Carleton In this year, Lamb made his greatest essay wrote his own memoirs, they are about Lord in house-keeping, by occupying Colebrook Peterborough's campaign in Spain, and a Cottage at Islington, on the banks of his good book. “Puzzelli' puzzles me, and I am beloved New River. There occurred the in a cloud about ‘Donald M‘Leod.' I never immersion of George Dyer at noontide, which heard of them ; so you see, my dear Wilson, supplies the subject of one of “The Last what poor assistances can give in the way Essays of Elia ;” and which is veritably reof information. I wish your book out, for I lated in the following letter of Lamb, which shall like to see anything about De Foe or is curious, as containing the germ of that

Your old friend, C. LAMB. delightful article, and the first sketches of " From my and your old compound."

the Brandy-and-Water Doctor therein celebrated as miraculous.

from you.

The following is the fragment of a letter

TO MRS. HAZLITT. addressed in the beginning of 1823 to Miss

“ November, 1823. Hutchinson at Ramsgate, whither she had “ Dear Mrs. H., -Sitting down to write a gone with an invalid relative.

letter is such a painful operation to Mary,

that you must accept me as her proxy. You TO MISS HUTCHINSON.

have seen our house. What I now tell you

“ April 25th, 1823. is literally true. Yesterday week, George Dyer "Dear Miss H., --It gives me great pleasure called upon us, at one o'clock, (bright noon (the letter now begins) to hear that you got day) on his way to dine with Mrs. Barbauld, down so smoothly, and that Mrs. M- —'s at Newington. He sat with Mary about half spirits are so good and enterprising. It shows an hour, and took leave. The maid saw him whatever her posture may be, that her mind go out, from her kitchen window, but sudat least is not supine. I hope the excursion denly losing sight of him, ran up in a fright will enable the former to keep pace with its to Mary. G. D., instead of keeping the slip outstripping neighbour. Pray present our that leads to the gate, had deliberately, staff kindest wishes to her and all ; (that sentence in hand, in broad open day, marched into should properly have come into the Postscript, the New River. He had not his spectacles but we airy mercurial spirits, there is no on, and you know his absence. Who helped keeping us in). «Time' (as was said of one him out, they can hardly tell, but between 'em of us) 'toils after us in vain.' I am afraid they got him out, drenched thro' and thro'. our co-visit with Coleridge was a dream. I A mob collected by that time, and accomshall not get away before the end (or middle) panied him in. “Send for the Doctor!' they of June, and then you will be frog-hopping said : and a one-eyed fellow, dirty and drunk, at Boulogne ; and besides, I think the was fetched from the public-house at the end, Gilmans would scarce trust him with us ; I where it seems he lurks, for the sake of pickhave a malicious knack at cutting of apron- ing up water-practice; having formerly had strings. The Saints' days you speak of have a medal from the Humane Society, for some long since fled to heaven, with Astræa, and rescue. By his advice, the patient was put the cold piety of the age lacks fervour to between blankets ; and when I came home recall them ; only Peter left his key-the at four, to dinner, I found G. D. a-bed, and



raving, light-headed, with the brandy-and principal as you mention; and the most water which the doctor had administered. graceful excuse for the acceptance, would be, He sung, laughed, whimpered, screamed, that it left you free to your voluntary babbled of guardian angels, would get up functions. That is the less light part of the and go home ; but we kept him there by scruple. It has no darker shade. I put in force; and by next morning he departed darker, because of the ambiguity of the word sobered, and seems to have received no light, which Donne in his admirable poem injury. All my friends are open-mouthed on the Metempsychosis, has so ingeniously about having paling before the river, but I illustrated in his invocationcannot see, because an absent man chooses to walk into a river, with his eyes open, at

* Make my dark heavy poem, light and light.' midday, I am any the more likely to be, where two senses of light are opposed to difdrowned in it, coming home at midnight. ferent opposites. A trifling criticism.-I

“ I have had the honour of dining at the can see no reason for any scruple then but Mansion House, on Thursday last, by special what arises from your own interest ; which card from the Lord Mayor, who never saw is in your own power of course to solve. If my face, nor I his ; and all from being a you still have doubts, read over Sanderson's writer in a magazine ! The dinner costly, Cases of Conscience, and Jeremy Taylor's served on massy plate, champagne, pines, &c.; Ductor Dubitantium, the first a moderate forty-seven present, among whom, the Chair- octavo, the latter a folio of 900 close pages, man, and two other directors of the India and when you have thoroughly digested the Company. There's for you! and got away admirable reasons pro and con which they pretty sober! Quite saved my credit ! give for every possible case, you will be

“We continue to like our house prodi- just as wise as when you began. Every man giously. Our kind remembrances to you is his own best Casuist; and after all, as and yours.—Yours truly, C. LAMB. Ephraim Smooth in the pleasant comedy of

'Wild Oats,' has it, 'there is no harm in a I am pleased that H. liked my letter to Guinea.' A fortiori there is less in 2000. the Laureate."

“I therefore most sincerely congratulate

with you, excepting so far as excepted above. Requested by the Quaker Poet, to advise If you have fair prospects of adding to the him on a proposal for appropriating a large principal, cut the Bank; but in either case sum of money raised by a few admiring do not refuse an honest Service. Your heart friends to his comfort in advancing years, tells you it is not offered to bribe you from Lamb gave his wise and genial judgment in any duty, but to a duty which you feel to be the following letter

your vocation. Farewell heartily.

“ C. L.”


The following, with its grotesque sketches, “ March 24th, 1824.

is addressed also “ Dear B. B.,—I hasten to say that if my opinion can strengthen you in your choice, it is

TO BERNARD BARTON. decisive for your acceptance of what has been

" December 1st, 1824. so handsomely offer’d. I can see nothing in- “Dear B. B.,—If Mr. Mitford will send jurious to your most honourable sense. me a full and circumstantial description of Think that you are called to a poetical his desired vases, I will transmit the same Ministry-nothing worse—the Minister is to a gentleman resident at Canton, whom I worthy of the hire.—The only objection I think I have interest enough in to take the feel is founded on a fear that the acceptance proper care for their execution. But Mr. M. may be a temptation to you to let fall the must have patience. China is a great way bone (hard as it is) which is in your mouth off, further perhaps than he thinks; and his and must afford tolerable pickings, for the next year's roses must be content to wither shadow of independence. You cannot pro- in a Wedgwood pot. He will please to say pose to become independent on what the low whether he should like his Arms upon them, state of interest could afford you from such a &c. I send herewith some patterns which

« НазадПродовжити »