Dear Gillman,—Allsop brought me your kind message yesterday. How can I account for having not visited Highgate this long time? Change of place seemed to have changed me. How grieved I was to hear in what indifferent health Coleridge has been, and I not to know of it! A little school divinity, well applied, may be healing. I send him honest Tom of Aquin; that was always an obscure great idea to me: I never thought or dreamed to see him in the flesh, but t’other day I rescued him from a stall in Barbican, and brought him off in triumph. He comes to greet Coleridge’s acceptance, for his shoe-latchets I am unworthy to unloose. Yet there are pretty pro’s and con’s, and such unsatisfactory learning in him. Commend me to the question of etiquette— “utrum annunciatio debuerit fieri per angelum”—Quaest. 30, Articilus 2. I protest, till now I had thought Gabriel a fellow of some mark and livelihood, not a simple esquire, as I find him. Well, do not break your lay brains, nor I neither, with these curious nothings. They are nuts to our dear friend, whom hoping to see at your first friendly hint that it will be convenient, I end with begging our very kindest loves to Mrs. Gillman. We have had a sorry house of it here. Our spirits have been reduced till we were at hope’s end what to do— obliged to quit this house, and afraid to engage another, till in extremity I took the desperate resolve of kicking house and all down, like Bunyan’s pack; and here we are in a new life at board and lodging, with an honest couple our neighbours. We have ridded ourselves of the cares of dirty acres; and the change, though of less than a week, has had the most beneficial effects on Mary already. She looks two years and a half younger for it. But we have had sore trials.
God send us one happy meeting!—Yours faithfully,
["The question of etiquette.” See the Summa Theologies, Pars Tertia, Quest. XXX., Articulus II. It would be interesting to know whether Lamb remembered an earlier letter in which he had set Coleridge some similar “nuts.”
“In a new life.” The Lambs moved next door, to the Westwoods. The house, altered externally, still stands (1912) and is known as “Westwood Cottage.”]
CHARLES LAMB TO VINCENT NOVELLO
[P.M. Probably Nov. 10, 1829.]
or hear’st thou rather
We expect you four (as many as the Table will hold without squeeging) at Mrs. Westwood’s Table D’Hote on Thursday. You will find the White House shut up, and us moved under the wing of the Phoenix, which gives us friendly refuge. Beds for guests, marry, we have none, but cleanly accomodings at the Crown & Horseshoe.
[Addressed: Vincentio (what Ho!) Novello, a Squire, 66, Great Queen Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields.]