The Best Letters of Charles Lamb eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Best Letters of Charles Lamb.

Good Heaven, what a bit only I’ve got left!  How shall I squeeze all I know into this morsel!  Coleridge is come home, and is going to turn lecturer on taste at the Royal Institution.  I shall get L200 from the theatre if “Mr. H.” has a good run, and I hope L100 for the copyright.  Nothing if it fails; and there never was a more ticklish thing.  The whole depends on the manner in which the name is brought out, which I value myself on, as a chef d’oeuvre.  How the paper grows less and less!  In less than two minutes I shall cease to talk to you, and you may rave to the Great Wall of China.  N.B.—­Is there such a wall?  Is it as big as Old London Wall by Bedlam?  Have you met with a friend of mine named Ball at Canton?  If you are acquainted, remember me kindly to him.  Maybe you’ll think I have not said enough of Tuthill and the Holcrofts.  Tuthill is a noble fellow, as far as I can judge.  The Holcrofts bear their disappointment pretty well, but indeed they are sadly mortified.  Mrs. H. is cast down.  It was well, if it were but on this account, that Tuthill is come home.  N.B.—­If my little thing don’t succeed, I shall easily survive, having, as it were, compared to H.’s venture, but a sixteenth in the lottery.  Mary and I are to sit next the orchestra in the pit, next the tweedle-dees.  She remembers you.  You are more to us than five hundred farces, clappings, etc.

Come back one day.  C. LAMB.

[1] It was precisely this flatness, this slightness of plot and catastrophe, that doomed “Mr. H.” to failure.  See next letter.

[2] Godwin.  His tragedy of “Faulkner” was published in 1808.

XLIX.

TO WORDSWORTH.

December, II, 1806.

Mary’s love to all of you; I wouldn’t let her write.

Dear Wordsworth,—­“Mr. H.” came out last night, and failed.  I had many fears; the subject was not substantial enough.  John Bull must have solider fare than a letter.  We are pretty stout about it; have had plenty of condoling friends; but, after all, we had rather it should have succeeded.  You will see the prologue in most of the morning papers.  It was received with such shouts as I never witnessed to a prologue.  It was attempted to be encored.  How hard! a thing I did merely as a task, because it was wanted, and set no great store by; and “Mr. H.”!  The quantity of friends we had in the house—­my brother and I being in public offices, etc.—­was astonishing; but they yielded at last to a few hisses.

A hundred hisses (Damn the word, I write it like kisses,—­how different!)—­a hundred hisses outweigh a thousand claps. [1] The former come more directly from, the heart.  Well, ’t is withdrawn, and there is an end.

Better luck to us,

C. LAMB.

[1] Lamb was himself in the audience, and is said to have taken a conspicuous share in the storm of hisses that followed the dropping of the curtain.

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