[Written on the fourteenth instalment of the Garrick Play extracts. The article was in Blackwood for April, 1827. Hone took Lamb’s advice, and the extract from it will be found in the Table Book, Vol. I., col. 455.
Lamb was peculiarly interested in the subject of survival after hanging. He wrote an early Reflector essay, “On the Inconveniences of Being Hanged,” on the subject, and it is the pivot of his farce “The Pawnbroker’s Daughter.”
“Romillies or Montagues.” Two prominent advocates for the abolition of capital punishment were Sir Samuel Romilly (who died in 1818) and Basil Montagu.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS HOOD
[No date. May, 1827.]
Dearest Hood,—Your news has spoil’d us a merry meeting. Miss Kelly and we were coming, but your letter elicited a flood of tears from Mary, and I saw she was not fit for a party. God bless you and the mother (or should be mother) of your sweet girl that should have been. I have won sexpence of Moxon by the sex of the dear gone one.
Yours most truly and hers,
[This note refers to one of the Hoods’ children, which was still-born. It was upon this occasion that Lamb wrote the beautiful lines “On an Infant Dying as soon as Born” (see Vol. IV.).]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[No date. (1827.)]
My dear B.B.—A gentleman I never saw before brought me your welcome present—imagine a scraping, fiddling, fidgetting, petit-maitre of a dancing school advancing into my plain parlour with a coupee and a sideling bow, and presenting the book as if he had been handing a glass of lemonade to a young miss—imagine this, and contrast it with the serious nature of the book presented! Then task your imagination, reversing this picture, to conceive of quite an opposite messenger, a lean, straitlocked, wheyfaced methodist, for such was he in reality who brought it, the Genius (it seems) of the Wesleyan Magazine. Certes, friend B., thy Widow’s tale is too horrible, spite of the lenitives of Religion, to embody in verse: I hold prose to be the appropriate expositor of such atrocities! No offence, but it is a cordial that makes the heart sick. Still thy skill in compounding it I not deny. I turn to what gave me less mingled pleasure. I find markd with pencil these pages in thy pretty book, and fear I have been penurious.
page 52, 53 capital. page 59 6th stanza exquisite simile. page 61 11th stanza equally good. page 108 3d stanza, I long to see van Balen. page 111 a downright good sonnet. Dixi. page 153 Lines at the bottom.
So you see, I read, hear, and mark, if I don’t learn—In short this little volume is no discredit to any of your former, and betrays none of