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.

With the exception of an Epilogue for a Private Theatrical, I have written nothing new for near six months.  It is in vain to spur me on.  I must wait.  I cannot write without a genial impulse, and I have none.  ’T is barren all and dearth.  No matter; life is something without scribbling.  I have got rid of my bad spirits, and hold up pretty well this rain-damned May.

So we have lost another poet. [3] I never much relished his Lordship’s mind, and shall be sorry if the Greeks have cause to miss him.  He was to me offensive, and I never can make out his real power, which his admirers talk of.  Why, a, line of Wordsworth’s is a lever to lift the immortal spirit; Byron can only move the spleen.  He was at best a satirist.  In any other way, he was mean enough.  I daresay I do him injustice; but I cannot love him, nor squeeze a tear to his memory.  He did not like the world, and he has left it, as Alderman Curtis advised the Radicals, “if they don’t like their country, damn ’em, let ’em leave it,” they possessing no rood of ground in England, and he ten thousand acres.  Byron was better than many Curtises.

Farewell, and accept this apology for a letter from one who owes you so much in that kind.

Yours ever truly, C. L.

[1] “The Chimney-Sweeper’s Friend, and Climbing-Boy’s Album,”—­a book, by James Montgomery, setting forth the wrongs of the little chimney-sweepers, for whose relief a society had been started.

[2] The Society for Ameliorating the Condition of Infant Chimney-Sweepers.

[3] Byron had died on April 19.



August, 1824.

I can no more understand Shelley than you can; his poetry is “thin sown with profit or delight.”  Yet I must point to your notice a sonnet conceived and expressed with a witty delicacy.  It is that addressed to one who hated him, but who could not persuade him to hate him again.  His coyness to the other’s passion—­for hate demands a return as much as love, and starves without it—­is most arch and pleasant.  Pray, like it very much.  For his theories and nostrums, they are oracular enough, but I either comprehend ’em not, or there is “miching malice” and mischief in ’em, but, for the most part, ringing with their own emptiness.  Hazlitt said well of ’em:  “Many are the wiser and better for reading Shakspeare, but nobody was ever wiser or better for reading Shelley.”  I wonder you will sow your correspondence on so barren a ground as I am, that make such poor returns.  But my head aches at the bare thought of letter-writing.  I wish all the ink in the ocean dried up, and would listen to the quills shivering up in the candle flame, like parching martyrs.  The same indisposition to write it is has stopped my “Elias;” but you will see a futile effort in the next number, [1] “wrung from me with slow pain.”  The fact is, my head is seldom cool enough.  I am dreadfully indolent.  To have to do anything—­to order me a new coat, for instance, though my old buttons are shelled like beans—­is an effort.  My pen stammers like my tongue.  What cool craniums those old inditers of folios must have had, what a mortified pulse!  Well, once more I throw myself on your mercy.  Wishing peace in thy new dwelling,

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