Since I saw you I have been in France, and have eaten frogs. The nicest little rabbity things you ever tasted. Do look about for them. Make Mrs. Clare pick off the hind quarters, boil them plain, with parsley and butter. The fore quarters are not so good. She may let them hop off by themselves.
[John Clare (1793-1864) was the Northamptonshire poet whom the London Magazine had introduced to fame. Octavius Gilchrist had played to him the same part that Capell Lofft had to Bloomfield. His first volume, Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, was published in January, 1820; his next, The Village Minstrel, in September of the next year. These he had probably sent to Lamb. Helpstone was Clare’s birthplace. Lamb’s two little return volumes were his Works. The sonnet in the August London Magazine was not signed by Clare. It runs thus:—
thy reveries and vision’d themes
To Care’s lorn heart a luscious pleasure prove;
Wild as the mystery of delightful dreams,
Soft as the anguish of remember’d love:
Like records of past days their memory dances
Mid the cool feelings Manhood’s reason brings,
As the unearthly visions of romances
Peopled with sweet and uncreated things;—
And yet thy themes thy gentle worth enhances!
Then wake again thy wild harp’s tenderest strings,
Sing on, sweet Bard, let fairy loves again
Smile in thy dreams, with angel ecstacies;
Bright o’er our souls will break the heavenly strain
Through the dull gloom of earth’s realities.
Clare addressed to Lamb a sonnet on his Dramatic Specimens which was printed in Hone’s Year Book in 1831.
Here should come a letter from Lamb to Ayrton dated Sept. 5, 1822, referring to the writer’s “drunken caput” and loss of memory.
Here should come a letter from Lamb to Mrs. James Kenney, dated Sept. 11, 1822, in which Lamb says that Mary Lamb had reached home safely from France, and that she failed to smuggle Crabb Robinson’s waistcoat. He adds that the Custom House people could not comprehend how a waistcoat, marked Henry Robinson, could be a part of Miss Lamb’s wearing apparel. At the end of the letter is a charming note to Mrs. Kenney’s little girl, Sophy, whom Lamb calls his dear wife. He assures her that the few short days of connubial felicity which he passed with her among the pears and apricots of Versailles were some of the happiest of his life.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
India House, 11 Sept. 1822.