CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN HOWARD PAYNE
February , 1823.
My dear Miss Lamb—I have enclosed for you Mr. Payne’s piece called Grandpapa, which I regret to say is not thought to be of the nature that will suit this theatre; but as there appears to be much merit in it, Mr. Kemble strongly recommends that you should send it to the English Opera House, for which it seems to be excellently adapted. As you have already been kind enough to be our medium of communication with Mr. Payne, I have imposed this trouble upon you; but if you do not like to act for Mr. Payne in the business, and have no means of disposing of the piece, I will forward it to Paris or elsewhere as you think he may prefer.
Very truly yours,
T.R.C.G., 8 Feb. 1823.
Dear P—— We have just received the above, and want your instructions. It strikes me as a very merry little piece, that should be played by very young actors. It strikes me that Miss Clara Fisher would play the boy exactly. She is just such a forward chit. No young man would do it without its appearing absurd, but in a girl’s hands it would have just all the reality that a short dream of an act requires. Then for the sister, if Miss Stevenson that was, were Miss Stevenson and younger, they two would carry it off. I do not know who they have got in that young line, besides Miss C.F., at Drury, nor how you would like Elliston to have it—has he not had it? I am thick with Arnold, but I have always heard that the very slender profits of the English Opera House do not admit of his giving above a trifle, or next to none, for a piece of this kind. Write me what I should do, what you would ask, &c. The music (printed) is returned with the piece, and the French original. Tell Mr. Grattan I thank him for his book, which as far as I have read it is a very companionable one. I have but just received it. It came the same hour with your packet from Cov. Gar., i.e. yester-night late, to my summer residence, where, tell Kenney, the cow is quiet. Love to all at Versailles. Write quickly.
I have no acquaintance with Kemble at all, having only met him once or twice; but any information, &c., I can get from R., who is a good fellow, you may command. I am sorry the rogues are so dilitory, but I distinctly believe they mean to fulfill their engagement. I am sorry you are not here to see to these things. I am a poor man of business, but command me to the short extent of my tether. My sister’s kind remembrance ever.
[The “Grandpapa” was eventually produced at Drury Lane, May 25, 1825, and played thrice. Miss Stevenson was an actress praised by Lamb in The Examiner (see Vol. I. of this edition). C.F. was Clara Fisher, mentioned above.
Samuel James Arnold was manager of the Lyceum, then
known as the English
Opera House; he was the brother of Mrs. William Ayrton, Lamb’s friend.