The Best Letters of Charles Lamb eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about The Best Letters of Charles Lamb.
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.  My kind old aunt [2] 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 thereabouts,—­a look-beggar, not a verbal petitionist; and in the coxcombry of taught-charity, I gave away the cake to him.  I walked on a little in all the pride of an Evangelical peacock, when of a sudden my 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 take in eating her cake; the cursed ingratitude by which, under the color of a Christian virtue, I had frustrated her cherished purpose.  I sobbed, wept, and took it to heart so grievously that I think I never suffered the like; and I was right.  It was a piece of unfeeling hypocrisy, and proved a lesson to me ever after.  The cake has long been masticated, consigned to dunghill with the ashes of that unseasonable pauper.

But when Providence, who is better to us all than our aunts, gives me a pig, remembering my temptation and my fall, I shall endeavor to act towards it more in the spirit of the donor’s purpose.

Yours (short of pig) to command in everything,

C. L.

[1] Some one had sent Coleridge a pig, and the gift was erroneously credited to Lamb.

[2] Elia:  “Christ’s Hospital Five-and-Thirty Years Ago.”



March 20, 1822.

My Dear Wordsworth,—­A letter from you is very grateful; I have not seen a Kendal postmark so long.  We are pretty well, save colds and rheumatics, and a certain deadness to everything, which I think I may date from poor John’s loss, and another accident or two at the same time, that has made me almost bury myself at Dalston, where yet I see more faces than I could wish.  Deaths overset one and put one out long after the recent grief.  Two or three have died, within this last two twelvemonths, and so many parts of me have been numbed.  One sees a picture, reads an anecdote, starts a casual fancy, and thinks to tell of it to this person in preference to every other; the person is gone whom it would have peculiarly suited.  It won’t do for another.  Every departure destroys a class of sympathies.  There’s Captain Burney gone!  What fun has whist now?  What matters it what you

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The Best Letters of Charles Lamb from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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