Dear B.B.—I send you by desire Barley’s very poetical poem. You will like, I think, the novel headings of each scene. Scenical directions in verse are novelties. With it I send a few duplicates, which are therefore no value to me, and may amuse an idle hour. Read “Christmas,” ’tis the production of a young author, who reads all your writings. A good word from you about his little book would be as balm to him. It has no pretensions, and makes none. But parts are pretty. In “Field’s Appendix” turn to a Poem called the Kangaroo. It is in the best way of our old poets, if I mistake not. I have just come from Town, where I have been to get my bit of quarterly pension. And have brought home, from stalls in Barbican, the old Pilgrim’s Progress with the prints—Vanity Fair, &c.—now scarce. Four shillings. Cheap. And also one of whom I have oft heard and had dreams, but never saw in the flesh—that is, in sheepskin—The whole theologic works of—
My arms aked with lugging it a mile to the stage, but the burden was a pleasure, such as old Anchises was to the shoulders of Aeneas—or the Lady to the Lover in old romance, who having to carry her to the top of a high mountain—the price of obtaining her—clamber’d with her to the top, and fell dead with fatigue.
O the glorious old Schoolmen!
There must be something in him. Such great names imply greatness. Who hath seen Michael Angelo’s things—of us that never pilgrimaged to Rome—and yet which of us disbelieves his greatness. How I will revel in his cobwebs and subtleties, till my brain spins!
N.B. I have writ in the old Hamlet, offer it to Mitford in my name, if he have not seen it. Tis woefully below our editions of it. But keep it, if you like. (What is M. to me?)
I do not mean this to go for a letter, only to apprize you, that the parcel is booked for you this 25 March 1829 from the Four Swans Bishopsgate.
With both our loves to Lucy and A.K. Yours Ever
["Darley’s... poem”—Sylvia; or, The May Queen, by George Darley.
“Christmas”—a poem by Edward Moxon, dedicated to Lamb.
“Field’s Appendix”—Geographical Memoirs on New South Wales, edited by Barron Field, with his First-Fruits of Australian Poetry as Appendix.
The old romance, Dr. Paget Toynbee points out, is Les Dous Amanz of Marie of France, which Lamb had read in Miss Betham’s metrical translation, The Lay of Marie.]
CHARLES LAMB TO MISS SARAH JAMES
[No date. ? April, 1829.]
We have just got your letter. I think Mother Reynolds will go on quietly, Mrs. Scrimpshaw having kittened. The name of the late Laureat was Henry James Pye, and when his 1st Birthday Ode came out, which was very poor, somebody being asked his opinion of it, said:—