Votre Tres Humble Serviteur,
alias C. LAMB.
Guichy is well, and much as usual. He seems blind to all the distinctions of life, except to those of sex. Remembrance to Kenny and Poole.
[John Howard Payne (1792-1852) was born in New York. He began life as an actor in 1809 as Young Norval in “Douglas,” and made his English debut in 1813 in the same part. For several years he lived either in London or Paris, where among his friends were Washington Irving and Talma. He wrote a number of plays, and in one of them, “Clari, or the Maid of Milan,” is the song “Home, Sweet Home,” with Bishop’s music, on which his immortality rests. Payne died in Tunis, where he was American Consul, in 1852, and when in 1883 he was reinterred at Washington, it was as the author of “Home, Sweet Home.” He seems to have been a charming but ill-starred man, whom to know was to love.
Mr. White was Edward White of the India House, by whom Lamb probably sent a copy of the 1818 edition of his Works. Louisa was Louisa Holcroft. Guichy was possibly the Frenchman, mentioned by Crabb Robinson, with whom the Lambs had travelled to France. Poole was, I imagine, John Poole, the dramatist, author of burlesque plays in the London Magazine and later of “Paul Pry,” which, it is quite likely, he based on Lamb’s sketch “Tom Pry.”]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[Dated at end: 9 October 1822.]
Dear Sir—I am asham’d not sooner to have acknowledged your letter and poem. I think the latter very temperate, very serious and very seasonable. I do not think it will convert the club at Pisa, neither do I think it will satisfy the bigots on our side the water. Something like a parody on the song of Ariel would please them better.
fathom five the Atheist lies,
Of his bones are hell-dice made.—
I want time, or fancy, to fill up the rest. I sincerely sympathise with you on your doleful confinement. Of Time, Health, and Riches, the first in order is not last in excellence. Riches are chiefly good, because they give us Time. What a weight of wearisome prison hours have [I] to look back and forward to, as quite cut out [of] life—and the sting of the thing is, that for six hours every day I have no business which I could not contract into two, if they would let me work Task-work. I shall be glad to hear that your grievance is mitigated.
Shelly I saw once. His voice was the most obnoxious squeak I ever was tormented with, ten thousand times worse than the Laureat’s, whose voice is the worst part about him, except his Laureatcy. Lord Byron opens upon him on Monday in a Parody (I suppose) of the “Vision of Judgment,” in which latter the Poet I think did not much show his. To award his Heaven and his Hell in the presumptuous manner he has done, was a piece of immodesty as bad as Shelleyism.