CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS ALLSOP
Jan. 28, 1829.
Dear Allsop—Old Star is setting. Take him and cut him into Little Stars. Nevertheless the extinction of the greater light is not by the lesser light (Stella, or Mrs. Star) apprehended so nigh, but that she will be thankful if you can let young Scintillation (Master Star) twinkle down by the coach on Sunday, to catch the last glimmer of the decaying parental light. No news is good news; so we conclude Mrs. A. and little a are doing well. Our kindest loves, C.L.
[I cannot explain the mystery of these Stars.]
CHARLES LAMB TO B.W. PROCTER
[? Jan. 29th, 1829.]
When Miss Ouldcroft (who is now Mrs. Beddome, and Bed—dom’d to her!) was at Enfield, which she was in summertime, and owed her health to its sun and genial influences, she wisited (with young lady-like impertinence) a poor man’s cottage that had a pretty baby (O the yearnling!), and gave it fine caps and sweetmeats. On a day, broke into the parlour our two maids uproarious. “O ma’am, who do you think Miss Ouldcroft (they pronounce it Holcroft) has been working a cap for?” “A child,” answered Mary, in true Shandean female simplicity. “It’s the man’s child as was taken up for sheep-stealing.” Miss Ouldcroft was staggered, and would have cut the connection; but by main force I made her go and take her leave of her protegee (which I only spell with a g because I can’t make a pretty j). I thought, if she went no more, the Abactor or Abactor’s wife (vide Ainsworth) would suppose she had heard something; and I have delicacy for a sheep-stealer. The overseers actually overhauled a mutton-pie at the baker’s (his first, last, and only hope of mutton-pie), which he never came to eat, and thence inferred his guilt. Per occasionem cujus I framed the sonnet; observe its elaborate construction. I was four days about it.
THE GYPSY’S MALISON
Suck, baby, suck, Mother’s
love grows by giving,
Drain the sweet founts that only thrive by wasting;
Black Manhood comes, when riotous guilty living
Hands thee the cup that shall be death in tasting.
Kiss, baby, kiss, Mother’s lips shine by kisses,
Choke the warm breath that else would fall in blessings;
Black Manhood comes, when turbulent guilty blisses
Tend thee the kiss that poisons ’mid caressings.
Hang, baby, hang, mother’s love loves such forces,
Choke the fond neck that bends still to thy clinging;
Black Manhood comes, when violent lawless courses
Leave thee a spectacle in rude air swinging.
So sang a wither’d Sibyl energetical,
And bann’d the ungiving door with lips prophetical.