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TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
“Did you never observe an appearance plays. Congreve, and the rest of King well known by the name of the man in the Charles's moralists, are cheap and accessible. moon? Some scandalous old maids have set The works on Ireland I will inquire after, on foot a report, that it is Endymion. but, I fear, Spenser's is not to be had apart
“Your theory about the first awkward from his poems; I never saw it. But you step a man makes being the consequence may depend upon my sparing no pains to of learning to dance, is not universal. We furnish you as complete a library of old have known many youths bred up at Christ's, poets and dramatists as will be prudent to who never learned to dance, yet the world buy; for, I suppose you do not include the imputes to them no very graceful motions. 201. edition of Hamlet, single play, which I remember there was little Hudson, the Kemble has. Marlowe's plays and poems immortal precentor of St. Paul's, to teach are totally vanished ; only one edition of us our quavers ; but, to the best of my recol- Dodsley retains one, and the other two of lection, there was no master of motions when his plays : but John Ford is the man after we were at Christ's.
Shakspeare. Let me know your will and “ Farewell, in haste.
pleasure soon, for I have observed, next to “ C. L.” the pleasure of buying a bargain for one's
self, is the pleasure of persuading a friend to buy it. It tickles one with the image of an
imprudency, without the penalty usually “ Oct. 13th, 1800.
annexed. “Dear Wordsworth,- I have not forgot
“ C. LAMB." your commissions. But the truth is,-and why should I not confess it ?-I am not plethorically abounding in cash at this present. Merit, God knows, is very little rewarded ; but it does not become me to
CHAPTER VI. speak of myself. My motto is, 'contented with little, yet wishing for more.' Now, the
[1800.) books you wish for would require some
LETTERS TO MANNING, AFTER LAMB'S REMOVAL TO THE pounds, which, I am sorry to say, I have not by me; so, I will say at once, if you his purpose of removing to Mitre-court
In the year 1800, Lamb carried into effect will give me a draft upon your town banker for any sum you propose to lay out, I will Buildings, Temple. During this time he dispose of it to the very best of my skill in wrote only a few small poems, which he choice old books, such as my own soul loveth. transmitted to Manning. In his letters to In fact, I have been waiting for the liquida- Manning a vein of wild humour breaks out, tion of a debt to enable myself to set about
of which there are but slight indications in your commission handsomely ; for it is a
the correspondence with his more sentimen
tal friends; as if the very opposition of scurvy thing to cry, 'Give me the
money first, and I am the first of the family of the Manning's more scientific power to his own Lambs that have done it for many centuries ;
force of sympathy provoked the sallies which but the debt remains as it was,
the genial kindness of the mathematician
old friend that I accommodated has generously
fostered. The prodigal and reckless humour forgot it! The books which you want, I
of some of these letters forms a striking calculate at about 87. Ben Jonson is a letters to Coleridge. His Essays of Elia?
contrast to the deep feeling of the earlier guinea book. Beaumont and Fletcher, in folio, the right folio not now to be met with ; following letter contains Lamb's description
show the harmonious union of both. The the octavos are about 3l. As to any other
of his new abode. dramatists, I do not know where to find them, except what are in Dodsley's Old Plays, which are about 31. also. Massinger
TO MR. MANNING, I never saw but at one shop, but it is now “I was not aware that you owed me anygone; but one of the editions of Dodsley thing beside that guinea ; but I dare say you contains about a fourth (the best) of his are right. I live at No. 16, Mitre-court
TO MR. MANNING.
Buildings, a pistol-shot off Baron Maseres'. You must introduce me to the Baron. I think we should suit one another mainly.
“ Oct. 16th, 1800. He lives on the ground floor, for convenience “Dear Manning -Had you written one of the gout; I prefer the attic story, for the week before you did, I certainly should have air! He keeps three footmen and two obeyed your injunction ; you should have maids ; I have neither maid nor laundress, seen me before my letter. I will explain to not caring to be troubled with them! His you my situation. There are six of us in one forte, I understand, is the higher mathe- department. Two of us (within these four matics ; my turn, I confess, is more to poetry days) are confined with severe fevers; and and the belles lettres. The very antithesis two more, who belong to the Tower Militia, of our characters would make up a harmony. expect to have marching orders on Friday. You must bring the baron and me together. Now six are absolutely necessary. I have -N.B. when you come to see me, mount up already asked and obtained two young hands to the top of the stairs—I hope you are not to supply the loss of the feverites. And, with asthmatical—and come in flannel, for it's pure the other prospect before me, you may believe airy up there. And bring your glass, and I I cannot decently ask leave of absence for will show you the Surrey Hills. My bed myself. All I can promise (and I do promise, faces the river, so as by perking up upon my with the sincerity of Saint Peter, and the haunches, and supporting my carcase with contrition of sinner Peter if I fail) that I will my elbows, without much wrying my neck, I come the very first spare week, and go
nowhere can see the white sails glide by the bottom till I have been at Cambridge. No matter of the King's Bench walks as I lie in my if you are in a state of pupilage when I come; bed. An excellent tiptoe prospect in the for I can employ myself in Cambridge very best room :-casement windows, with small pleasantly in the mornings. Are there not panes, to look more like a cottage. Mind, I libraries, halls, colleges, books, pictures, have got no bed for you, that's flat; sold it statues ? I wish you had made London in to pay expenses of moving. The very bed your way. There is an exhibition quite on which Manning lay; the friendly, the uncommon in Europe, which could not have mathematical Manning ! How forcibly does escaped your genius, –a live rattlesnake, ten it remind me of the interesting Otway! "The feet in length, and the thickness of a big leg. very bed which on thy marriage night gave I went to see it last night by candlelight. thee into the arms of Belvidera, by the coarse We were ushered into a room very little hands of ruffians—’(upholsterers' men,) &c. bigger than ours at Pentonville. A man and My tears will not give me leave to go on. woman and ur boys live this room, joint But a bed I will get you, Manning, on con- tenants with nine snakes, most of them such dition you will be my day-guest.
as no remedy has been discovered for their "I have been ill more than a month, with bite. We walked into the middle, which is a bad cold, which comes upon me (like a formed by a half-moon of wired boxes, all murderer's conscience) about midnight, and mansions of snakes,—whip-snakes, thundervexes me for many hours. I have succes- snakes, pig-nose-snakes, American vipers, and sively been drugged with Spanish licorice, this monster. He lies curled up in folds; and opium, ipecacuanha, paregoric, and tincture immediately a stranger enters (for he is used of foxglove (tinctura purpuræ digitalis of the to the family, and sees them play at cards,) ancients). I am afraid I must leav off he set up a rattle like a watchman's in drinking."
London, or near as loud, and reared up a
head, from the midst of these folds, like a Lamb then gives an account of his visit to toad, and shook his head, and showed every an exhibition of snakes-of a frightful vivid- sign a snake can show of irritation. I had ness and interesting—as all details of these the foolish curiosity to strike the wires with fascinating reptiles are, whom we at once my finger, and the devil flew at me with his loathe and long to look upon, as the old toad-mouth wide open : the inside of his enemies and tempters of our race.
mouth is quite white. I had got my finger away, nor could he well have bit me with his
big mouth, which would have been certain young philosopher at Keswick, with the death in five minutes. But it frightened me Wordsworths. They have contrived to spawn so much, that I did not recover my voice for a new volume of lyrical ballads, which is to a minute's space. I forgot, in my fear, that see the light in about a month, and causes no he was secured. You would have forgot too, little excitement in the literary world. George for 'tis incredible how such a monster can be Dyer too, that good-natured heathen, is more confined in small gauzy-looking wires. I than nine months gone with his twin volumes dreamed of snakes in the night. I wish to of ode, pastoral, sonnet, elegy, Spenserian, heaven you could see it. He absolutely Horatian, Akensidish, and Masonic verseswelled with passion to the bigness of a large Clio prosper the birth ! it will be twelve thigh. I could not retreat without infringing shillings out of somebody's pocket. I find on another box, and just behind, a little devil he means to exclude 'personal satire,' so it not an inch from my back, had got his nose appears by his truly original advertisement. out, with some difficulty and pain, quite Well, God put it into the hearts of the through the bars !
soon taught English gentry to come in shoals and subbetter manners. All the snakes were curious, scribe to his poems, for He never put a and objects of terror : but this monster, like kinder heart into flesh of man than George Aaron's serpent, swallowed up the impres- Dyer's ! sion of the rest. He opened his cursed “Now farewell, for dinner is at hand. mouth, when he made at me, as wide as his
“C. L.” head was broad. I hallooed out quite loud, and felt pains all over my body with the fright.
Lamb had engaged to spend a few days “I have had the felicity of hearing George when he could obtain leave, with Manning Dyer read out one book of 'The Farmer's at Cambridge, and, just as he hoped to Boy.' I thought it rather childish. No accomplish his wish, received an invitation doubt, there is originality in it, (which, in from Lloyd to give his holiday to the poets your self-taught geniuses, is a most rare assembled at the Lakes. In the joyous quality, they generally getting hold of some excitement of spirits which the anticipated bad models, in a scarcity of books, and form- visit to Manning produced, he thus plays off ing their taste on them,) but no selection. Manning's proposal on his friend, abuses Al is described.
mountains and luxuriates in his love of “Mind, I have only heard read one book.
London :“Yours sincerely, “Philo-Snake, “ C. L." “Dear Manning, I have received a very
kind invitation from Lloyd and Sophia, to go
and spend a month with them at the Lakes. The following are fragments from a letter Now it fortunately happens, (which is so chiefly on personal matters, the interest of seldom the case !) that I have spare cash by which is gone by :
me, enough to answer the expenses of so long a journey ; and I am determined to get away
from the office by some means. The purpose “And now, when shall I catch a glimpse of of this letter is to request of you (my dear your honest face-to-face countenance again ? friend), that you will not take it unkind, if I Your fine dogmatical sceptical face by punch- decline my proposed visit to Cambridge for light? O! one glimpse of the human face, the present. Perhaps I shall be able to take and shake of the human hand, is better than Cambridge in my way, going or coming. I whole reams of this cold, thin correspondence; need not describe to you the expectations yea, of more worth than all the letters that which such an one as myself, pent up all my have sweated the fingers of sensibility, from life in a dirty city, have formed of a tour to Madame Sévigné and Balzac to Sterne and the Lakes. Consider Grasmere! AmbleShenstone.
side! Wordsworth! Coleridge! Hills, woods, Coleridge is settled with his wife and the lakes, and mountains, to the eternal devil.
TO MR. MANNING.
TO MR. MANNING.
TO MR. MANNING,
I will eat snipes with thee, Thomas Manning. of his manuscripts, and the delay of his hopes; Only confess, confess, a bite.
which, according to the old theatrical usage, "P.S. I think you named the 16th ; but he was destined to endure. was it not modest of Lloyd to send such an invitation! It shows his knowledge of money and time. I would be loth to think, he
“Nov. 3rd, 1800. meant
“Ecquid meditatur Archimedes ? What is
Euclid doing? What hath happened to
learned Trismegist ?-doth he take it in ill
part, that his humble friend did not comply For my part, with reference to my friends with his courteous invitation ? Let it suffice, northward, I must confess that I am not I could not come are impossibilities nothing? romance-bit about Nature. The earth, and -be they abstractions of the intellect ?-or sea, and sky (when all is said,) is but as a not (rather) most sharp and mortifying bouse to dwell in. If the inmates be courteous, realities ? nuts in the Will's mouth too hard and good liquors flow like the conduits at an for her to crack ? brick and stone walls in old coronation, if they can talk sensibly, and her way, which she can by no means eat feel properly, I have no need to stand staring through ? sore lets, impedimenta viarum, no upon the gilded looking-glass (that strained thoroughfares ? racemi nimium alte pendentes? my friend's purse-strings in the purchase) Is the phrase classic ? I allude to the grapes nor his five-shilling print over the mantel- in Æsop, which cost the fox a strain, and piece of old Nabbs the carrier (which only gained the world an aphorism. Observe the betrays his false taste). Just as important superscription of this letter. In adapting the to me (in a sense) is all the furniture of my size of the letters, which constitute your name world; eye-pampering, but satisfies no heart. and Mr. Crisp's name respectively, I had an Streets, streets, streets, markets, theatres, eye to your different stations in life.
'Tis churches, Covent Gardens, shops sparkling truly curious, and must be soothing to an with pretty faces of industrious milliners, aristocrat. I wonder it has never been hit neat sempstresses, ladies cheapening, gentle- on before my time. I have made an acquisimen behind counters lying, authors in the tion latterly of a pleasant hand, one Rickman, street with spectacles, George Dyers, (you to whom I was introduced by George Dyer, may know them by their gait,) lamps lit at not the most flattering auspices under which night, pastry-cooks’ and silver-smiths' shops, one man can be introduced to anotherbeautiful Quakers of Pentonville, noise of George brings all sorts of people together, coaches, drowsy cry of mechanic watchmen setting up a sort of agrarian law, or common at night, with bucks reeling home drunk ; if property, in matter of society ; but for once you happen to wake at midnight, cries of he has done me a great pleasure, while he Fire and Stop thief; inns of court, with their was only pursuing a principle, as ignes fatui learned air, and balls, and butteries, just like may light you home. This Rickman lives in Cambridge colleges; old book-stalls, Jeremy our Buildings, immediately opposite our Taylors,' 'Burtons on Melancholy,' and house ; the finest fellow to drop in a' nights, Religio Medicis,' on every stall. These are about nine or ten o'clock-cold bread-andthy pleasures, O London! with-the-many- cheese time—just in the wishing time of the sins. 0, city, abounding in _, for these night, when you wish for somebody to come may Keswick and her giant brood go hang ! in, without a distinct idea of a probable any
“C. L.” body. Just in the nick, neither too early to
be tedious, nor too late to sit a reasonable
time. He is a most pleasant hand; a fine On this occasion Lamb was disappointed; rattling fellow, has gone through life laughing but he was consoled by the acquisition of a at solemn apes ;-himself hugely literate, new friend, in Mr. Rickman of the House of oppressively full of information in all stuff of Commons, and exults in a strain which he conversation, from matter of fact to Xenophon never had reason to regret. This piece of and Plato-can talk Greek with Porson, rare felicity enabled him even to bear the loss politics with Thelwall, conjecture with George
Dyer, nonsense with me, and anything with delight to speak, especially George Dyer, who anybody; a great farmer, somewhat con- has no other name, nor idea, nor definition of cerned in an agricultural magazine-reads no Cambridge, --namely, its being a marketpoetry but Shakspeare, very intimate with town, sending members to Parliament, never Southey, but never reads his poetry, relishes entered into his definition—it was and is, George Dyer, thoroughly penetrates into the simply, the banks of the Cam, or the fair ridiculous wherever found, understands the Cam; as Oxford is the banks of the Isis, or first time (a great desideratum in common the fair Isis. Yours in all humility, most minds)—you need never twice speak to him ; illustrious Trismegist, “ C. LAMB, does not want explanations, translations,
“(Read on, there's more at the bottom.) limitations, as Professor Godwin does when you make an assertion; up to anything; down “ You ask me about the 'Farmer's Boy,'to everything ; whatever sapit hominem. A don't you think the fellow who wrote it (who perfect man. All this farrago, which must is a shoemaker) has a poor mind? Don't you perplex you to read, and has put me to a little find he is always silly about poor Giles, and trouble to select! only proves how impossible it those abject kind of phrases, which mark a is to describe a pleasant hand. You must see man that looks up to wealth ? None of Rickman to know him, for he is a species in Burns's poet dignity. What do you think? one. A new class. An exotic, any slip of I have just opened him ; but he makes me which I am proud to put in my garden-pot. sick.” The clearest headed fellow. Fullest of matter, with least verbosity. If there be any alloy in my fortune to have met with such a man,
Constant to the fame of Jem White, Lamb it is that he commonly divides his time did not fail to enlist Manning among the between town and country, having some admirers of the “Falstaff's Letters." The foolish family ties at Christchurch, by which next letter, referring to them is, however, means he can only gladden our London hemi- more interesting for the light which it casts sphere with returns of light. He is now on Lamb's indifference to the politics of the going for six weeks.”
time, and fond devotion to the past.
“At last I have written to Kemble, to
TO MR. MANNING. know the event of my play, which was pre- “I hope by this time you are prepared to sented last Christmas. As I suspected, came say, the 'Falstaff's letters' are a bundle of an answer back that the copy was lost, and the sharpest, queerest, profoundest humours, could not be found—no hint that anybody of any these juice-drained latter times have had to this day ever looked into it—with a spawned. I should have advertised you, that courteous (reasonable !) request of another the meaning is frequently hard to be got at; copy (if I had one by me,) and a promise of and so are the future guineas, that now lie a definitive answer in a week. I could not ripening and aurifying in the womb of some resist so facile and moderate demand, so undiscovered Potosi ; but dig, dig, dig, dig, scribbled out another, omitting sundry things, Manning! I set to, with an unconquerable such as the witch story, about half of the propulsion to write, with a lamentable want forest scene (which is too leisurely for story), of what to write. My private goings on are and transposing that soliloquy about England orderly as the movements of the spheres, and getting drunk, which, like its reciter, stupidly stale as their music to angels' ears. Public stood alone, nothing prevenient orantevenient affairs-except as they touch upon me, and —and cleared away a good deal besides, and so turn into private,–I cannot whip up my sent this copy, written all out (with altera- mind to feel any interest in. I grieve, indeed, tions, &c, requiring judgment) in one day and that War, and Nature, and Mr. Pitt, that a half! I sent it last night, and am in hangs up in Lloyd's best parlour, should have weekly expectation of the tolling-bell, and conspired to call up three necessaries, simple death-warrant.
commoners as our fathers knew them, into “This is all my London news. Send me the upper house of luxuries ; bread, and beer, some from the banks of Cam, as the poets and coals, Manning. But as to France and