“Mary’s birthday.” Mary Lamb would be sixty-nine on December 3, 1833.
Lamb’s verses to Miss Brown seem to be no longer preserved. Mr. Hazlitt prints a letter to a Miss Frances Brown, wherein Lamb offers the verses, adding “I hope your sweetheart’s name is WHITE. Else it would spoil all. May be ’tis BLACK. Then we must alter it. And may your fortunes BLACKEN with your name.”]
CHARLES LAMB TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE
[No date. Middle Dec., 1833.]
I hoped R. would like his Sonnet, but I fear’d S. that fine old man, might not quite like the turn of it. This last was penn’d almost literally extempore.
Is S.’s Christian name Thomas? if not, correct it.
["R.”—Rogers; “S.”—Stothard. See next letter.]
CHARLES LAMB TO SAMUEL ROGERS
[No date. Probably Saturday, December 21, 1833.]
My dear Sir,—Your book, by the unremitting punctuality of your publisher, has reached me thus early. I have not opened it, nor will till to-morrow, when I promise myself a thorough reading of it. “The Pleasures of Memory” was the first school present I made to Mrs. Moxon, it had those nice wood-cuts; and I believe she keeps it still. Believe me, that all the kindness you have shown to the husband of that excellent person seems done unto myself. I have tried my hand at a sonnet in “The Times.” But the turn I gave it, though I hoped it would not displease you, I thought might not be equally agreeable to your artist. I met that dear old man at poor Henry’s—with you—and again at Cary’s—and it was sublime to see him sit deaf and enjoy all that was going on in mirth with the company. He reposed upon the many graceful, many fantastic images he had created; with them he dined and took wine.
I have ventured at an antagonist copy of verses in “The Athenaeum” to him, in which he is as everything and you as nothing. He is no lawyer who cannot take two sides. But I am jealous of the combination of the sister arts. Let them sparkle apart. What injury (short of the theatres) did not Boydell’s “Shakespeare Gallery” do me with Shakespeare?—to have Opie’s Shakespeare, Northcote’s Shakespeare, light-headed Fuseli’s Shakespeare, heavy-headed Romney’s Shakespeare, wooden-headed West’s Shakespeare (though he did the best in “Lear"), deaf-headed Reynolds’s Shakespeare, instead of my, and everybody’s Shakespeare. To be tied down to an authentic face of Juliet! To have Imogen’s portrait! To confine the illimitable! I like you and Stothard (you best), but “out upon this half-faced fellowship.” Sir, when I have read the book I may trouble you, through Moxon, with some faint criticisms. It is not the flatteringest compliment, in a letter to an author, to say you have not read his book yet.