That I have not shrunk from the Tragic Muses, witness this Lamentable Ballad, first written in the vernacular by I know not what author and lately by myself put into Latin T. T. of Islington. Have you heard it? (See translation of preceding letter.)
And Thomas is possessed with
a wondrous joy on the following
morning, because on the next day, that is, Sunday, his wife must be
your domestic Iliads!
Lo, the wheel of Calamities
The true tragedy of a week.
Go to now, compare your Euripides
with these sorrows, this death of
a wife! Compare Alcestis! Hecuba! or what not other sorrowing
Heroines of antiquity.
My cheeks are tear-bedewed
as I revolve such slaughter. What more to
say, but to salute you Cary and your Cara, and wish you health,
ourselves enjoying it.
In Mary and Charles Lamb, 1874, by W.C. Hazlitt, in the Catalogue of Charles Lamb’s Library, for sale by Bartlett and Welford, New York, is this item:—“Euripidis Tragediae, interp. Lat. 8vo. Oxonii, 1821”. “C. and M. Lamb, from H.F. Cary,” on flyleaf. This must be the book referred to. Euripides has been called the priest of pity.]
CHARLES LAMB TO EDWARD MOXON
[P.M. July 14, 1831.]
Collier’s Book would be right acceptable. And also a sixth vol. just publish’d of Nichols’s Illustrations of the Literary History of 18th Century. I agree with you, and do yet not disagree with W.W., as to H. It rejoyced my heart to read his friendly spirited mention of your publications. It might be a drawback to my pleasure, that he has tried to decry my “Nicky,” but on deliberate re- and reperusal of his censure I cannot in the remotest degree understand what he means to say. He and I used to dispute about Hell Eternities, I taking the affirmative. I love to puzzle atheists, and—parsons. I fancy it runs in his head, that I meant to rivet the idea of a personal devil. Then about the glorious three days! there was never a year or day in my past life, since I was pen-worthy, that I should not have written precisely as I have. Logic and modesty are not among H.’s virtues. Talfourd flatters me upon a poem which “nobody but I could have written,” but which I have neither seen nor heard of—“The Banquet,” or “Banqueting Something,” that has appeared in The Tatler. Know you of it? How capitally the Frenchman has analysed Satan! I was hinder’d, or I was about doing the same thing in English, for him to put into French, as I prosified Hood’s midsummer fairies. The garden of cabbage escap’d him, he turns it into a garden of pot herbs. So local allusions perish in translation.