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.
     XCIII.  To Henry Crabb Robinson
      xciv.  To Peter George Patmore
       XCV.  To Bernard Barton
      xcvi.  To Thomas Hood
     xcvii.  To P.G.  Patmore
    XCVIII.  To Bernard Barton
      xcix.  To Procter
         C. To Bernard Barton
        CI.  To Mr. Gilman
       CII.  To Wordsworth
      CIII.  To Mrs. Hazlitt
       CIV.  To George Dyer
        CV.  To Dyer
       CVI.  To Mr. Moxon
      CVII.  To Mr. Moxon


No writer, perhaps, since the days of Dr. Johnson has been oftener brought before us in biographies, essays, letters, etc., than Charles Lamb.  His stammering speech, his gaiter-clad legs,—­“almost immaterial legs,” Hood called them,—­his frail wisp of a body, topped by a head “worthy of Aristotle,” his love of punning, of the Indian weed, and, alas! of the kindly production of the juniper-berry (he was not, he owned, “constellated under Aquarius"), his antiquarianism of taste, and relish of the crotchets and whimsies of authorship, are as familiar to us almost as they were to the group he gathered round him Wednesdays at No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, where “a clear fire, a clean hearth, and the rigor of the game” awaited them.  Talfourd has unctuously celebrated Lamb’s “Wednesday Nights.”  He has kindly left ajar a door through which posterity peeps in upon the company,—­Hazlitt, Leigh Hunt, “Barry Cornwall,” Godwin, Martin Burney, Crabb Robinson (a ubiquitous shade, dimly suggestive of that figment, “Mrs. Harris"), Charles Kemble, Fanny Kelly ("Barbara S."), on red-letter occasions Coleridge and Wordsworth,—­and sees them discharging the severer offices of the whist-table ("cards were cards” then), and, later, unbending their minds over poetry, criticism, and metaphysics.  Elia was no Barmecide host, and the serjeant dwells not without regret upon the solider business of the evening,—­“the cold roast lamb or boiled beef, the heaps of smoking roasted potatoes, and the vast jug of porter, often replenished from the foaming pots which the best tap of Fleet Street supplied,” hospitably presided over by “the most quiet, sensible, and kind of women,” Mary Lamb.

The terati Talfourd’s day were clearly hardier of digestion than their descendants are.  Roast lamb, boiled beef, “heaps of smoking roasted potatoes,” pots of porter,—­a noontide meal for a hodman,—­and the hour midnight!  One is reminded, a propos of Miss Lamb’s robust viands, that Elia somewhere confesses to “an occasional nightmare;” “but I do not,” he adds, “keep a whole stud of them.”  To go deeper into this matter, to speculate upon the possible germs, the first vague intimations to the mind of Coleridge of the weird spectra of “The Ancient Mariner,” the phantasmagoria of “Kubla Khan,” would be, perhaps, over-refining.  “Barry Cornwall,” too, Lamb tells us, “had his tritons and his nereids gambolling before him in nocturnal visions.”  No wonder!

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