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.

  “Some cry up Haydn, some Mozart,
  Just as the whim bites.  For my part,
  I do not care a farthing candle
  For either of them, or for Handel,” etc.

Martin Burney [1] is as odd as ever.  We had a dispute about the word “heir,” which I contended was pronounced like “air.”  He said that might be in common parlance, or that we might so use it speaking of the “Heir-at-Law,” a comedy; but that in the law-courts it was necessary to give it a full aspiration, and to say Hayer; he thought it might even vitiate a cause if a counsel pronounced it otherwise.  In conclusion, he “would consult Serjeant Wilde,” who gave it against him.  Sometimes he falleth into the water, sometimes into the fire.  He came down here, and insisted on reading Virgil’s “AEneid” all through with me (which he did), because a counsel must know Latin.  Another time he read out all the Gospel of St. John, because Biblical quotations are very emphatic in a court of justice.  A third time he would carve a fowl, which he did very ill favoredly, because we did not know how indispensable it was for a barrister to do all those sort of things well.  Those little things were of more consequence than we supposed.  So he goes on, harassing about the way to prosperity, and losing it.  With a long head, but somewhat a wrong one,—­harum-scarum.  Why does not his guardian angel look to him?  He deserves one,—­maybe he has tired him out.

I am tired with this long scrawl; but I thought in your exile you might like a letter.  Commend me to all the wonders in Derbyshire, and tell the devil I humbly kiss my hand to him.

Yours ever,


[1] Martin Burney, originally a solicitor, had lately been called to the Bar.



December 20, 1830.

Dear Dyer,—­I would have written before to thank you for your kind letter, written with your own hand.  It glads us to see your writing.  It will give you pleasure to hear that, after so much illness, we are in tolerable health and spirits once more.  Miss Isola intended to call upon you after her night’s lodging at Miss Buffam’s, but found she was too late for the stage.  If she comes to town before she goes home, she will not miss paying her respects to Mrs. Dyer and you, to whom she desires best love.  Poor Enfield, that has been so peaceable hitherto, that has caught an inflammatory fever, the tokens are upon her; and a great fire was blazing last night in the barns and haystacks of a fanner about half a mile from us.  Where will these things end?  There is no doubt of its being the work of some ill-disposed rustic; but how is he to be discovered?  They go to work in the dark with strange chemical preparations unknown to our forefathers.  There is not even a dark lantern to have a chance of detecting these Guy Fauxes.  We are past the iron age, and are got into the fiery age, undream’d of by Ovid.  You are lucky in Clifford’s Inn, where, I think, you have few ricks or stacks worth the burning.  Pray keep as little corn by you as you can, for fear of the worst.

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