CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[P.M. 25 February, 1830.]
Dear B.B.—To reply to you by return of post, I must gobble up my dinner, and dispatch this in propria Persona to the office, to be in time. So take it from me hastily, that you are perfectly welcome to furnish A.C. with the scrap, which I had almost forgotten writing. The more my character comes to be known, the less my veracity will come to be suspected. Time every day clears up some suspected narrative of Herodotus, Bruce, and others of us great Travellers. Why, that Joseph Paice was as real a person as Joseph Hume, and a great deal pleasanter. A careful observer of life, Bernard, has no need to invent. Nature romances it for him. Dinner plates rattle, and I positively shall incur indigestion by carrying it half concocted to the Post House. Let me congratulate you on the Spring coming in, and do you in return condole with me for the Winter going out. When the old one goes, seldome comes a better. I dread the prospect of Summer, with his all day long days. No need of his assistance to make country places dull. With fire and candle light, I can dream myself in Holborn. With lightsome skies shining in to bed time, I can not. This Meseck, and these tents of Kedar—I would dwell in the skirts of Jericho rather, and think every blast of the coming in Mail a Ram’s Horn. Give me old London at Fire and Plague times, rather than these tepid gales, healthy country air, and purposeless exercise. Leg of mutton absolutely on the table.
Take our hasty loves and short farewell.
[A.C. was Allan Cunningham, who wanted Lamb’s letter on Blake (see above) for his Lives of the Painters. It was not, however, used there until included in Mrs. Charles Heaton’s edition in Bohn’s Library.
“Bruce”—the Abyssinian explorer, whom the Christ’s Hospital boys used to emulate, as Lamb tells us in the Elia essay on Newspapers.
“Joseph Paice”—a Director of the South-Sea Company and Lamb’s first employer, of whom he writes in the Elia essay on “Modern Gallantry” (see notes to Vol. II.).
Here should come a letter to Moxon, February 21, 1830, saying that a letter has just arrived from Mrs. Williams indicating that Miss Isola was not well and must have a long holiday. The illness increased very rapidly, becoming a serious attack of brain fever.]
CHARLCHARLES TO MRS. WILLIAMS
[February 26, 1830.]
Dear Madam,—May God bless you for your attention to our poor Emma! I am so shaken with your sad news I can scarce write. She is too ill to be removed at present; but we can only say that if she is spared, when that can be practicable, we have always a home for her. Speak to her of it, when she is capable of understanding, and let me conjure you to let us know from day to day, the state she is in. But one line is all we crave. Nothing we can do for her, that shall not be done. We shall be in the terriblest suspense. We had no notion she was going to be ill. A line from anybody in your house will much oblige us. I feel for the situation this trouble places you in.