Careful to learn what elder years impart. Louisa—Clare—by which name shall I call thee? A prettier pair of names sure ne’er was found, Resembling thy own sweetness in sweet sound. Ever calm peace and innocence befal thee!
See Vol. IV. of this edition.]
CHARLES LAMB TO MRS. WILLIAMS
Enfield, Good Friday [April 9, 1830].
P.S.—I am the worst folder-up of a letter in the world, except certain Hottentots, in the land of Caffre, who never fold up their letters at all, writing very badly upon skins, &c.
Dear Madam,—I do assure you that your verses gratified me very much, and my sister is quite proud of them. For the first time in my life I congratulated myself upon the shortness and meanness of my name. Had it been Schwartzenberg or Esterhazy, it would have put you to some puzzle. I am afraid I shall sicken you of acrostics; but this last was written to order. I beg you to have inserted in your county paper something like this advertisement. “To the nobility, gentry, and others, about Bury.—C. Lamb respectfully informs his friends and the public in general, that he is leaving off business in the acrostic line, as he is going into an entirely new line. Rebuses and charades done as usual, and upon the old terms. Also, Epitaphs to suit the memory of any person deceased.” I thought I had adroitly escaped the rather unpliable name of “Williams,” curtailing your poor daughters to their proper surnames; but it seems you would not let me off so easily. If these trifles amuse you, I am paid. Tho really ’tis an operation too much like—“A, apple-pye; B, bit it.” To make amends, I request leave to lend you the “Excursion,” and to recommend, in particular, the “Churchyard Stories,” in the seventh book, I think. They will strengthen the tone of your mind after its weak diet on acrostics. Miss Isola is writing, and will tell you that we are going on very comfortably. Her sister is just come. She blames my last verses, as being more written on Mr. Williams than on yourself; but how should I have parted whom a Superior Power has brought together? I beg you will jointly accept of our best respects, and pardon your obsequious if not troublesome Correspondent, C.L.
[Mr. Cecil Turner, a grandson of Mrs. Williams, tells me that her acrostic on Lamb ran thus:—
Answer to Acrostics on the Names of Two Friends
Charmed with the
lines thy hand has sent,
Honour I feel the compliment,
Amongst thy products that have won the ear,
Ranged in thy verse two friends most dear.
Lay not thy winning pen away,
Each line thou writest we bid thee stay,
Still ask to charm us with another lay.