« ForrigeFortsæt »
friend, and adding the cool malignity of mustard and vinegar ! I am afraid 't is the reading of Chaucer has misled you; his foolish stories about Cambuscan, and the ring, and the horse of brass. Believe me, there are no such things, 't is all the poet's invention ; but if there were such darling things as old Chaucer sings, I would up behind you on the horse of brass, and frisk off for Prester John's country. But these are all tales ; a horse of brass never flew, and a king's daughter never talked with birds! The Tartars, really, are a cold, insipid, smouchey set. You 'll be sadly moped (if you are not eaten) among them. Pray try, and cure yourself. Take hellebore (the counsel is Horace's, 't was none of my thought originally). self oftener. Eat no saffron, for saffron-eaters contract a terrible Tartar-like yellow. Pray, to avoid the fiend. Eat nothing that gives the heart-burn. Shave the upper lip. Go about like an European. Read no books of voyages (they are nothing but lies), only now and then a romance to keep the fancy under. Above all, don't go to any sights of wild beasts. That has been your ruin. Accustom yourself to write familiar letters, on common subjects, to your friends in England, such as are of a moderate understanding. And think about common things more. I supped last night with Rickman, and met a merry natural captain, who pleases himself vastly with once having made a pun at Otaheite in the Otaheite language. 'Tis the same man who said Shakspeare he liked, because he was so much of the gentleman. Rickman is a man absolute in all numbers. I think I may one day bring you acquainted, if you do not go to Tartary first; for you 'll never come back. Have a care, niy dear friend, of Anthropophagi! their stomachs are always craving. 'T is terrible to be weighed out at five pence a-pound. To sit at table (the reverse of fishes in Holland), not as a guest, but as a meat.
“God bless you : do come to England. Air and exercise may do great things. Talk with some minister. Why not your father? “God dispose all for the best. I have discharged my duty.
" Your sincere friend,
" C. LAMB."
245 - 248.
Vol. 1. pp:
“* Captain, afterwards Admiral Burney, who became one of the most constant attendants on Lamb's parties, and whose son, Martin, grew up in his strongest regard, and received the honor of the dedication of the second volume of his works."
Writing to Mr. Manning, after his departure, he thus describes his reception as a dramatic author.
" So I go creeping on since I was lamed with that cursed fall from off the top of Drury-lane Theatre into the pit, something more than a year ago. However, I have been free of the house ever since, and the house was pretty free with me upon that occasion. Hang 'em how they hissed ! it was not a hiss neither, but a sort of a frantic yell, like a congregation of mad geese, with roaring sometimes like bears, mows and mops like apes, sometimes snakes, that hissed me into madness. 'T was like St. Anthony's temptations. Mercy on us, that God should give his favorite children, men, mouths to speak with, to discourse rationally, to promise smoothly, to flatter agreeably, to encourage warmly, to counsel wisely, to sing with, to drink with, and to kiss with, and that they should turn them into mouths of adders, bears, wolves, hyenas, and whistle like tempests, and emit breath through them like distillations of aspic poison, to asperse and vilify the innocent labors of their fellowcreatures who are desirous to please them! Heaven be pleased to make the teeth rot out of them all, therefore ! Make them a reproach, and all that pass by them to loll out their tongue at them!” Vol. 1. pp. 303, 304.
The following amusing play upon his own name, is in a letter to the same gentleman, of a subsequent date.
“ I continue Mr. Lamb. I have published a little book for children on titles of honor ; and to give them some idea of the difference of rank and gradual rising, I have made a little scale, supposing myself to receive the following various accessions of dignity from the King, who is the fountain of honor.
As at first, 1. Mr. C. Lamb; 2. C. Lamb, Esq. ; 3. Sir C. Lamb, Bart. ; 4. Baron Lamb of Stamford ; * 5. Viscount Lamb; 6. Earl Lamb; 7. Marquis Lamb; 8. Duke Lamb. It would look like quibbling to carry it on further, and especially as it is not necessary for children to go beyond the ordinary titles of sub-regal dignity in our own country, otherwise I have sometimes in my dreams imagined myself still advancing, as 9th, King Lamb; 10th, Emperor Lamb; 11th, Pope Innocent, higher than which is nothing. Puns I have not made many, (nor punch much) since the date of my last; one I cannot help relating. A constable in Salisbury Cathedral was telling me
“* Where my family came from. have my choice.”
I have chosen that, if ever I should
that eight people dined at the top of the spire of the cathedral, upon which I remarked, that they must be very sharp set.” Vol. 1. pp. 313, 314.
The correspondence in the second volume is richer in excellent matter than the first, embracing letters to Wordsworth, Coleridge, Manning, and several friends, whose acquaintance he successively formed. The following curious epistle was written to Manning on Christmas day, picturing “ their com
o mon friends as in a melancholy future.”
“ Dear old friend and absentee, This is Christmas-day 1815 with us; what it may be with you I don't know, the 12th of June next year perhaps; and if it should be the consecrated season with you, I don't see how you can keep it. You have no turkeys; you would not desecrate the festival by offering up a withered Chinese bantam, instead of the savoury grand Norfolcian holocaust, that smokes all around my nostrils at this moment, from a thousand firesides. Then what puddings have you? Where will you get holly to stick in your churches, or churches to stick your dried tea-leaves (that must be the substitute) in? What memorials you can have of the holy time, I see not. A chopped missionary or two may keep up the thin idea of Lent and the wilderness; but what standing evidence have you of the Nativity ? — 't is our rosy-cheeked, homestalled divines, whose faces shine to the tune of Christmas; faces fragrant with the mince-pies of half a century, that alone can authenticate the cheerful mystery, — I feel, I feel myself refreshed with the thought, — my zeal is great against the unedified heathen. Down with the Pagodas, down with the idols, Ching-chong-fo, and his foolish priesthood ! Come out of Babylon, O my friend! for her time is come, and the child that is native, and the Proselyte of her gates, shall kindle and smoke together! And in sober sense what makes you so long from among us, Manning? You must not expect to see the same England again which you left.
Empires have been overturned, crowns trodden into dust, the face of the western world quite changed; your friends have all got old,
those you left blooming, myself (who am one of the few that remember you) those golden hairs which you recollect my taking a pride in, turned to silvery and grey. Mary has been dead and buried many years,
she desired to be buried in the silk gown you sent her. Rickman, that you remember active and strong, now walks out supported by a servant-maid and a stick. Martin Burney is a very old man.
The other day an aged woman knocked at my door, and pretended - NO. 98.
to my acquaintance: it was long before I had the most distant recognition of her ; but at last together we made her out to be Louisa, the daughter of Mrs, Topham, formerly Mrs. Morton, who had been Mrs. Reynolds, formerly Mrs. Kenney, whose first husband was Holcroft, the dramatic writer of the last century. St. Paul's church is a heap of ruins; the Monument isn't half so high as you knew it, divers parts being successively taken down which the ravages of time had rendered dangerous; the horse at Charing Cross is gone, no one knows whither, all this has taken place while you have been settling whether Ho-hing-tong should be spelt with a
For aught I see, you had almost as well remain where you are, and not come like a Strulbug into a world where few were born when you went away. Scarce here and there one will be able to make out your face; all your opinions will be out of date, your jokes obsolete, your puns rejected with fastidiousness as wit of the last age. Your way of mathematics has already given way to a new method, which after all, is, I believe, the old doctrine of Maclaurin, new vamped up with what he borrowed of the negative quantity of fluxions from Euler.
“ Poor Godwin! I was passing his tomb the other day in Cripplegate church-yard. There are some verses upon it written by Miss — which if I thought good enough I would send
He was one of those who would have hailed your return, not with boisterous shouts and clamors, but with the complacent gratulations of a philosopher anxious to promote knowledge as leading to happiness, but his systems and his theories are ten feet deep in Cripplegate 'mould. Coleridge is just dead, having lived just long enough to close the eyes of Wordsworth, who paid the debt to nature but a week or two before, poor Col., but two days before he died, he wrote to a bookseller proposing an epic poem on the Wanderings of Cain,' in twentyfour books. It is said he has left behind him more than forty thousand treatises in criticism, metaphysics, and divinity, but few of them in a state of completion. They are now destined, perhaps, to wrap up spices. You see whát mutations the busy hand of Time has produced, while you have consumed in foolish voluntary exile that time which might have gladdened your friends, – benefited your country; but reproaches are useless. Gather up the wretched reliques, my friend, as fast as you can, and come to your old home. I will rub mny eyes and try to recognise you. We will shake withered hands together, and talk of old things, – of St. Mary's church and the barber's opposite, where the young students in mathematics used to assemble. Poor Crips, that kept it afterwards, set up a fruit
erer's shop in Trumpington Street, and for aught I know resides there still, for I saw the name up in the last journey I took there with my sister just before she died. I suppose you heard that I had left the India House, and gone into the Fishmongers' Almhouses over the bridge. I have a little cabin there, small and homely, but you shall be welcome to it. You like oysters, and to open them yourself; I'll get you some if you come in oyster time. Marshall, Godwin's old friend, is still alive, and talks of the faces you used to make.” — Vol. 11. pp. 18 – 22.
In a letter addressed to Coleridge, the reader of “ Elia” will be amused with the first outline of the Essay on Roast Pig.
“Dear C. — It gives me great satisfaction to hear that the pig turned out so well, — they are interesting creatures at a
what a pity such buds should blow out into the maturity of rank bacon! You had all some of the crackling, and brain sauce,
you remember to rub it with butter, and gently dredge it a little, just before the crisis ? Did the eyes come away kindly, with no dipean avulsion? Was the crackling the color of the ripe pomegranate ? Had you no cursed compliment of boiled neck of mutton before it, to blunt the edge of delicate desire ? Did you flesh maiden teeth in it ? Not that I sent the pig, nor can form the remotest guess what part O. could play in the business. I never knew him give any thing away in my life. He would not begin with strangers. I suspect the pig, after all, was meant for me; but at the unlucky juncture of time being absent, the present somehow went round to Highgate. To confess an honest truth, a pig is one of those things I could never think of sending away. Teals, widgeons, snipes, barn-door-fowl, ducks, geese, — your tame villalio things,
Welsh mutton, collars of brawn, sturgeon, fresh or pickled, your potted char, Swiss cheeses, French pies, early grapes, muscadines, I impart as freely unto my friends as to myself. They are but self-extended; but pardon me if I stop somewhere, where the fine feeling of benevolence giveth a higher smack than the sensual rarity, there my friends (or any good man) may command me; but pigs are pigs, and I myself therein am nearest to myself. Nay, I should think it an affront, an undervaluing done to Nature who bestowed such a boon upon me, if in a churlish mood I parted with the precious gift. One of the bitterest pangs I ever felt of remorse was when a child, old aunt had strained her pocket-strings to bestow a sixpenny whole plum-cake upon me. In my way home through the Borough, I met a venerable old man, not a mendicant, but there
- my kind