And when the Pye was open’d
The birds began to sing,
And was not this a dainty dish
To set before the King!
Pye was brother to old Major Pye, and father to Mrs. Arnold, and uncle to a General Pye, all friends of Miss Kelly. Pye succeeded Thos. Warton, Warton succeeded Wm. Whitehead, Whitehead succeeded Colley Cibber, Cibber succeeded Eusden, Eusden succeeded Thos. Shadwell, Shadwell succeeded Dryden, Dryden succeeded Davenant, Davenant God knows whom. There never was a Rogers a Poet Laureat; there is an old living Poet of that name, a Banker as you know, Author of the “Pleasures of Memory,” where Moxon goes to breakfast in a fine house in the green Park, but he was never Laureat. Southey is the present one, and for anything I know or care, Moxon may succeed him. We have a copy of “Xmas” for you, so you may give your own to Mary as soon as you please. We think you need not have exhibited your mountain shyness before M.B. He is neither shy himself, nor patronizes it in others.—So with many thanks, good-bye. Emma comes on Thursday. C.L.
The Poet Laureat, whom Davenant succeeded was Rare ‘Ben Jonson,’ who I believe was the first regular Laureat with the appointment of L100 a year and a Butt of Sack or Canary—so add that to my little list.—C.L.
[Mr. Macdonald dates this letter December 31, 1828, perhaps rightly. I have dated it at a venture April, 1829, because Moxon’s Christmas was published in March of that year. It is the only letter to Mary Lamb’s nurse, Miss James, that exists. Mrs. Reynolds was Lamb’s aged pensioner, whom we have met. Pye died in 1813 and was succeeded by Southey. The author of the witticism on his first ode was George Steevens, the critic. The comment gained point from the circumstance that Pye had drawn largely on images from bird life in his verses.]
CHARLES LAMB TO H. CRABB ROBINSON
[P.M. April ? 1829.]
Dear Robinson, we are afraid you will slip from us from England without again seeing us. It would be charity to come and see me. I have these three days been laid up with strong rheumatic pains, in loins, back, shoulders. I shriek sometimes from the violence of them. I get scarce any sleep, and the consequence is, I am restless, and want to change sides as I lie, and I cannot turn without resting on my hands, and so turning all my body all at once like a log with a lever. While this rainy weather lasts, I have no hope of alleviation. I have tried flannels and embrocation in vain. Just at the hip joint the pangs sometimes are so excruciating, that I cry out. It is as violent as the cramp, and far more continuous. I am ashamed to whine about these complaints to you, who can ill enter into them. But indeed they are sharp. You go about, in rain or fine at all hours without discommodity. I envy you your immunity at a time of life not much