CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
28th of Aug., 1827.
I have left a place for a wafer, but can’t find it again.
Dear B.B.—I am thankful to you for your ready compliance with my wishes. Emma is delighted with your verses, to which I have appended this notice “The 6th line refers to the child of a dear friend of the author’s, named Emma,” without which it must be obscure; and have sent it with four Album poems of my own (your daughter’s with your heading, requesting it a place next mine) to a Mr. Fraser, who is to be editor of a more superb Pocket book than has yet appeared by far! the property of some wealthy booksellers, but whom, or what its name, I forgot to ask. It is actually to have in it schoolboy exercises by his present Majesty and the late Duke of York, so Lucy will come to Court; how she will be stared at! Wordsworth is named as a Contributor. Frazer, whom I have slightly seen, is Editor of a forth-come or coming Review of foreign books, and is intimately connected with Lockhart, &c. so I take it that this is a concern of Murray’s. Walter Scott also contributes mainly. I have stood off a long time from these Annuals, which are ostentatious trumpery, but could not withstand the request of Jameson, a particular friend of mine and Coleridge.
I shall hate myself in frippery, strutting along,
and vying finery with
Beaux and Belles
with “Future Lord Byrons and sweet L.E.L.’s.”—
Your taste I see is less simple than mine, which the difference of our persuasions has doubtless effected. In fact, of late you have so frenchify’d your style, larding it with hors de combats, and au desopoirs, that o’ my conscience the Foxian blood is quite dried out of you, and the skipping Monsieur spirit has been infused. Doth Lucy go to Balls? I must remodel my lines, which I write for her. I hope A.K. keeps to her Primitives. If you have any thing you’d like to send further, I don’t know Frazer’s address, but I sent mine thro’ Mr. Jameson, 19 or 90 Cheyne Street, Totnam Court road. I dare say an honourable place wou’d be given to them; but I have not heard from Frazer since I sent mine, nor shall probably again, and therefore I do not solicit it as from him.
Yesterday I sent off my tragi comedy to Mr. Kemble. Wish it luck. I made it all (’tis blank verse, and I think, of the true old dramatic cut) or most of it, in the green lanes about Enfield, where I am and mean to remain, in spite of your peremptory doubts on that head.
Your refusal to lend your poetical sanction to my Icon, and your reasons to Evans, are most sensible. May be I may hit on a line or two of my own jocular. May be not.
Do you never Londonize again? I should like to talk over old poetry with you, of which I have much, and you I think little. Do your Drummonds allow no holydays? I would willingly come and w[ork] for you a three weeks or so, to let you loose. Would I could sell or give you some of my Leisure! Positively, the best thing a man can have to do is nothing, and next to that perhaps—good works.