Milton was the portrait, already described, which had been left to Lamb. Lamb gave it as a dowry to Emma Isola when she became Mrs. Moxon.
“My meeting with Dodd ... Malvolio story.” In the essay “The Old Actors,” in the London Magazine for February, 1822 (see Vol. II. of this edition).
“Our chief reputed assistants.” Hazlitt had left the London Magazine; Scott, the original editor, was dead.
De Quincey, whose Confessions of an Opium-Eater were appearing in its pages, has left a record of a visit to the Lambs about this time. See his “London Reminiscences.”
“Hartley.” Hartley Coleridge, then a young man of twenty-five, was living in London after the unhappy sudden termination of his Oxford career.
Here should come a brief note to Mrs. Norris, dated March 26, 1822, given in the Boston Bibliophile edition.
Here should come a letter from Lamb to William Godwin, dated April 13, in which Lamb remarks that he cannot think how Godwin, who in his writings never expresses himself disrespectfully of any one but his Maker, can have given offence to Rickman. This reminds one of Godwin’s remark about Coleridge, “God bless him—to use a vulgar expression,” as recorded by Coleridge in one of his letters. Lamb also said of Godwin (and to him) that he had read more books that were not worth reading than any man in England.]
CHARLES LAMB TO W. HARRISON AINSWORTH
[Dated at end: May 7, 1822.]
Dear Sir,—I have read your poetry with pleasure. The tales are pretty and prettily told, the language often finely poetical. It is only sometimes a little careless, I mean as to redundancy. I have marked certain passages (in pencil only, which will easily obliterate) for your consideration. Excuse this liberty. For the distinction you offer me of a dedication, I feel the honor of it, but I do not think it would advantage the publication. I am hardly on an eminence enough to warrant it. The Reviewers, who are no friends of mine—the two big ones especially who make a point of taking no notice of anything I bring out—may take occasion by it to decry us both. But I leave you to your own judgment. Perhaps, if you wish to give me a kind word, it will be more appropriate before your republication of Tourneur.
The “Specimens” would give a handle to it, which the poems might seem to want. But I submit it to yourself with the old recollection that “beggars should not be chusers” and remain with great respect and wishing success to both your publications
Your obe’t. Ser’t.
No hurry at all for Tourneur.
Tuesday 7 May ’22.
[William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882), afterwards known as a novelist, was then articled to a Manchester solicitor, but had begun his literary career. The book to which Lamb refers was called The Works of Cheviot Tichburn, 1822, and was dedicated to him in the following terms:—“To my friend Charles Lamb, as a slight mark of gratitude for his kindness and admiration of his character, these poems are inscribed.”