“I have lately pick’d up an Epigram.” This is by Henry Man, an old South-Sea House clerk, whom in his South-Sea House essay Lamb mentions as a wit. The epigram, which refers to Lord Spencer and Lord Sandwich, will be found in Man’s Miscellaneous Works, 1802.]
CHARLES LAMB TO VINCENT NOVELLO
[P.M. Jan. 25, 1825.]
Dear Corelli, My sister’s cold is as obstinate as an old Handelian, whom a modern amateur is trying to convert to Mozart-ism. As company must & always does injure it, Emma and I propose to come to you in the evening of to-morrow, instead of meeting here. An early bread-and-cheese supper at 1/2 past eight will oblige us. Loves to the Bearer of many Children. C. LAMB.
I sign with a black seal, that you may begin to think, her cold has killed Mary, which will be an agreeable UNSURPRISE when you read the Note.
[This is the first letter to Novello, who was the peculiar champion of Mozart and Haydn. Lamb calls him Corelli after Archangelo Corelli (1653-1713), the violinist and composer. It was part of a joke between Lamb and Novello that Lamb should affect to know a great deal about music. See the Elia essay “A Chapter on Ears” for a description of Novello’s playing. Mrs. Novello was the mother of eleven children.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[Dated at end: 10 February, 1825.]
Dear B.B.—I am vexed that ugly paper should have offended. I kept it as clear from objectionable phrases as possible, and it was Hessey’s fault, and my weakness, that it did not appear anonymous. No more of it for God’s sake.
The Spirit of the Age is by Hazlitt. The characters of Coleridge, &c. he had done better in former publications, the praise and the abuse much stronger, &c. but the new ones are capitally done. Horne Tooke is a matchless portrait. My advice is, to borrow it rather than read [? buy] it. I have it. He has laid on too many colours on my likeness, but I have had so much injustice done me in my own name, that I make a rule of accepting as much over-measure to Elia as Gentlemen think proper to bestow. Lay it on and spare not.
Your Gentleman Brother sets my mouth a watering after Liberty. O that I were kicked out of Leadenhall with every mark of indignity, and a competence in my fob. The birds of the air would not be so free as I should. How I would prance and curvet it, and pick up cowslips, and ramble about purposeless as an ideot! The Author-mometer is a good fancy. I have caused great speculation in the dramatic (not thy) world by a Lying Life of Liston, all pure invention. The Town has swallowed it, and it is copied into News Papers, Play Bills, etc., as authentic. You do not know the Droll, and possibly missed reading the article (in our 1st No., New Series). A life more improbable for him to have lived would not be easily invented. But your rebuke, coupled with “Dream on J. Bunyan,” checks me. I’d rather do more in my favorite way, but feel dry. I must laugh sometimes. I am poor Hypochondriacus, and not Liston.