Dear B.B.—I have had no impulse to write, or attend to any single object but myself, for weeks past. My single self. I by myself I. I am sick of hope deferred. The grand wheel is in agitation that is to turn up my Fortune, but round it rolls and will turn up nothing. I have a glimpse of Freedom, of becoming a Gentleman at large, but I am put off from day to day. I have offered my resignation, and it is neither accepted nor rejected. Eight weeks am I kept in this fearful suspence. Guess what an absorbing stake I feel it. I am not conscious of the existence of friends present or absent. The E.I. Directors alone can be that thing to me—or not.—
I have just learn’d that nothing will be decided this week. Why the next? Why any week? It has fretted me into an itch of the fingers, I rub ’em against Paper and write to you, rather than not allay this Scorbuta.
While I can write, let me adjure you to have no doubts of Irving. Let Mr. Mitford drop his disrespect. Irving has prefixed a dedication (of a Missionary Subject 1st part) to Coleridge, the most beautiful cordial and sincere. He there acknowledges his obligation to S.T.C. for his knowledge of Gospel truths, the nature of a Xtian Church, etc., to the talk of S.T.C. (at whose Gamaliel feet he sits weekly) [more] than to that of all the men living. This from him—The great dandled and petted Sectarian—to a religious character so equivocal in the world’s Eye as that of S.T.C., so foreign to the Kirk’s estimate!—Can this man be a Quack? The language is as affecting as the Spirit of the Dedication. Some friend told him, “This dedication will do you no Good,” i.e. not in the world’s repute, or with your own People. “That is a reason for doing it,” quoth Irving.
I am thoroughly pleased with him. He is firm, outspeaking, intrepid—and docile as a pupil of Pythagoras.
You must like him.
Yours, in tremors of painful hope,
[In the first paragraphs Lamb refers to the great question of his release from the India House.
In a letter dated February 19, 1825, of Mary Russell Mitford, who looked upon Irving as quack absolute, we find her discussing the preacher with Charles Lamb.]
CHARLES LAMB TO HENRY CRABB ROBINSON
[March 29], 1825.
I have left the d------d India House for Ever!
Give me great joy.
[Robinson states in his Reminiscences of Coleridge, Wordsworth and Lamb, preserved in MS. at Dr. Williams’ Library: “A most important incident in Lamb’s life, tho’ in the end not so happy for him as he anticipated, was his obtaining his discharge, with a pension of almost L400 a year, from the India House. This he announced to me by a note put into my letter box: ‘I have left the India House. D------ Time. I’m all for eternity.’ He was rather more than 50 years of age. I found him and his Sister in high spirits when I called to wish them joy on the 22 of April. ’I never saw him so calmly cheerful,’ says my journal, ‘as he seemed then.’” See the next letters for Lamb’s own account of the event.]