Ainsworth was meditating an edition of the works of Cyril Tourneur, author of “The Atheist’s Tragedy,” to whom Lamb had drawn attention in the Dramatic Specimens, 1808. The book was never published.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM GODWIN
May 16, 1822.
Dear Godwin—I sincerely feel for all your trouble. Pray use the enclosed L50, and pay me when you can. I shall make it my business to see you very shortly.
[Owing largely to a flaw in the title-deed of his house at 41 Skinner Street, which he had to forfeit, Godwin had come upon poverty greater than any he had previously suffered, although he had been always more or less necessitous. Lamb now lent him L50. In the following year, after being mainly instrumental in putting on foot a fund for Godwin’s benefit, he transformed this loan into a gift. An appeal was issued in 1823 asking for; L600, the following postscript to which, in Lamb’s hand, is preserved at the South Kensington Museum:—
“There are few circumstances belonging to the case which are not sufficiently adverted to in the above letter.
“Mr. Godwin’s opponent declares himself determined to act against him with the last degree of hostility: the law gives him the power the first week in November to seize upon Mr. Godwin’s property, furniture, books, &c. together with all his present sources of income for the support of himself and his family. Mr. Godwin has at this time made considerable progress in a work of great research, and requiring all the powers of his mind, to the completion of which he had lookd for future pecuniary advantage. His mind is at this moment so entirely occupied in this work, that he feels within himself the firmness and resolution that no prospect of evil or calamity shall draw him off from it or suspend his labours. But the calamity itself, if permitted to arrive, will produce the physical impossibility for him to proceed. His books and the materials of his work, as well as his present sources of income, will be taken from him. Those materials have been the collection of several years, and it would require a long time to replace them, if they could ever be replaced.
“The favour of an early answer is particularly requested, that the extent of the funds supplied may as soon as possible be ascertained, particularly as any aid, however kindly intended, will, after the lapse of a very few weeks, become useless to the purpose in view.”
The signatories to the appeal were: Crabb Robinson
(L30), William Ayrton
(L10), John Murray (L10 10s.), Charles Lamb (L50), Lord Francis
Leveson-Gower (L10), Lord Dudley (L50), the Hon. W. Lamb (L20) and Sir
James Macintosh (L10). Other contributions were: Lord Byron, L26 5s.;
T.M. Alsager, L10; and “A B C, by Charles Lamb,” L10. A B C was Sir