N.B.—What is good for a desperate head-ache? Why, Patience, and a determination not to mind being miserable all day long. And that I have made my mind up to.
So, here goes. It is better than not being alive at all, which I might have been, had your man toppled me down at Lieut. Barker’s Coal-shed. My sister sends her sober compliments to Mrs. A. She is not much the worse.
["Ariel.” In two other of his letters, Lamb confesses similarly to a similar escapade. And in his Elia essay “Rejoicings on the New Year’s Coming of Age,” he sends Ash Wednesday home in the same manner.
Lieut. John Barker, R.N., was a local character, a coal merchant and a man with a grievance. He had thirteen children, some of whose names probably greatly amused Lamb—John Thomas, William Charles, Frederick Alexander, Marius Collins, Caius Marcius, Marcus Aurelius Antonius, Coriolanus Aurelius, Horatius Tertius Decimus, Elizabeth Mary, Concordia, Lousia Clarissa, Caroline Maria Quiroja and Volumnia Hortensia.]
CHARLES LAMB TO MRS. WILLIAMS
Enfield, Tuesday [April 21, 1830].
Dear Madam,—I have ventured upon some lines, which combine my old acrostic talent (which you first found out) with my new profession of epitaph-monger. As you did not please to say, when you would die, I have left a blank space for the date. May kind heaven be a long time in filling it up. At least you cannot say that these lines are not about you, though not much to the purpose. We were very sorry to hear that you have not been very well, and hope that a little excursion may revive you. Miss Isola is thankful for her added day; but I verily think she longs to see her young friends once more, and will regret less than ever the end of her holydays. She cannot be going on more quietly than she is doing here, and you will perceive amendment.