[No date. ? November 29, 1829.]
Pray trust me with the “Church History,” as well as the “Worthies.” A moon shall restore both. Also give me back Him of Aquinum. In return you have the light of my countenance. Adieu.
P.S.—A sister also of mine comes with it. A son of Nimshi drives her. Their driving will have been furious, impassioned. Pray God they have not toppled over the tunnel! I promise you I fear their steed, bred out of the wind without father, semi-Melchisedecish, hot, phaetontic. From my country lodgings at Enfield.
[The Church History and the Worthies are by Fuller.
“Light of my countenance.” Mr. Hazlitt says that this was a copy of Brook Pulham’s etching.
“The tunnel”—the Highgate Archway.]
CHARLES LAMB TO JAMES GILLMAN
30 Nov., 1829.
Dear G.,—The excursionists reached home, and the good town of Enfield a little after four, without slip or dislocation. Little has transpired concerning the events of the back-journey, save that on passing the house of ’Squire Mellish, situate a stone-bow’s cast from the hamlet, Father Westwood, with a good-natured wonderment, exclaimed, “I cannot think what is gone of Mr. Mellish’s rooks. I fancy they have taken flight somewhere; but I have missed them two or three years past.” All this while, according to his fellow-traveller’s report, the rookery was darkening the air above with undiminished population, and deafening all ears but his with their cawings. But nature has been gently withdrawing such phenomena from the notice of Thomas Westwood’s senses, from the time he began to miss the rooks. T. Westwood has passed a retired life in this hamlet of thirty or forty years, living upon the minimum which is consistent with gentility, yet a star among the minor gentry, receiving the bows of the tradespeople and courtesies of the alms’ women daily. Children venerate him not less for his external show of gentry, than they wonder at him for a gentle rising endorsation of the person, not amounting to a hump, or if a hump, innocuous as the hump of the buffalo, and coronative of as mild qualities. ’Tis a throne on which patience seems to sit—the proud perch of a self-respecting humility, stooping with condescension. Thereupon the cares of life have sate, and rid him easily. For he has thrid the angustiae domus with dexterity. Life opened upon him with comparative brilliancy. He set out as a rider or traveller for a wholesale house, in which capacity he tells of many hair-breadth escapes that befell him; one especially, how he rode a mad horse into the town of Devizes; how horse and rider arrived in a foam, to the utter consternation of the expostulating hostlers, inn-keepers, &c. It seems it was sultry weather, piping hot; the steed tormented into frenzy with gad-flies, long past being roadworthy;