[Aitken was an Edinburgh bookseller who edited The Cabinet; or, The Selected Beauties of Literature, 1824, 1825 and 1831. The particular interest of the letter is that it shows Lamb to have wanted to publish Rosamund Gray a third time in his life. Hitherto we had only his statement that Hessey said that the world would not bear it. Aitken printed the story in The Cabinet for 1831. Previously he had printed “Dream Children” and “The Inconveniences of being Hanged.”
I have been told (but have had no opportunity of verifying the statement) that the Buttons, for one of whom the appended acrostic was written, were cousins of the Lambs.
Here should come an unpublished letter to Miss Kelly thanking her for tickets and saying that Liston is to produce Lamb’s farce “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter,” which “will take.”
Here should come a letter from Lamb to Hone, dated Enfield, July 25, 1825. Lamb had written some quatrains to the editor of the Every-Day Book, which were printed in the London Magazine for May, 1825. Hone copied them into his periodical, accompanied by a reply. Lamb began:—
I like you, and your book, ingenuous Hone!
Hone’s reply contained the sentiment:—
am “ingenuous”: it is all I can
Pretend to; it is all I wish to be.
See the Every-Day Book, Vol. I., July 9. Hone at this time was occupying Lamb’s house at Colebrooke Row, while the Lambs were staying at the Allsops’ lodgings at Enfield.
Lamb again refers to “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter.” He says it is at the theatre now and Harley is there too. This would be John Pritt Harley, the actor. The play, as it happened, was never acted.
Here should come three notes to Thomas Allsop in July and August, 1825, one of which damns the afternoon sun. Given in the Boston Bibliophile edition.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[P.M. August 10, 1825.]
We shall be soon again at Colebrook.
Dear B.B.—You must excuse my not writing before, when I tell you we are on a visit at Enfield, where I do not feel it natural to sit down to a Letter. It is at all times an exertion. I had rather talk with you, and Ann Knight, quietly at Colebrook Lodge, over the matter of your last. You mistake me when you express misgivings about my relishing a series of scriptural poems. I wrote confusedly. What I meant to say was, that one or two consolatory poems on deaths would have had a more condensed effect than many. Scriptural— devotional topics—admit of infinite variety. So far from poetry tiring me because religious, I can read, and I say it seriously, the homely old version of the Psalms in our Prayer-books for an hour or two together sometimes without sense of weariness.