It gives me great pleasure (the letter now begins) to hear that you got down smoothly, and that Mrs. Monkhouse’s spirits are so good and enterprising. It shews, whatever her posture may be, that her mind at least is not supine. I hope the excursion will enable the former to keep pace with its out-stripping neighbor. Pray present our kindest wishes to her, and all. (That sentence should properly have come in the Post Script, but we airy Mercurial Spirits, there is no keeping us in). Time—as was said of one of us—toils after us in vain. I am afraid our co-visit with Coleridge was a dream. I shall not get away before the end (or middle) of June, and then you will be frog-hopping at Boulogne. And besides I think the Gilmans would scarce trust him with us, I have a malicious knack at cutting of apron strings. The Saints’ days you speak of have long since fled to heaven, with Astraea, and the cold piety of the age lacks fervor to recall them—only Peter left his key—the iron one of the two, that shuts amain—and that’s the reason I am lockd up. Meanwhile of afternoons we pick up primroses at Dalston, and Mary corrects me when I call ’em cowslips. God bless you all, and pray remember me euphoneously to Mr. Gnwellegan. That Lee Priory must be a dainty bower, is it built of flints, and does it stand at Kingsgate? Did you remem
[This is apparently the proper end of the letter. At least there is no indication of another sheet.]
[Addressed to “Miss Hutchinson, 17 Sion Hill, Ramsgate, Kent,” where she was staying with Mrs. Monkhouse. I give a facsimile of it in my large edition.
“’Time’—as was said of one of us.” Johnson wrote of Shakespeare, in the Prologue at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre in 1747:—
And panting Time toil’d after him in vain.
“The Saints’ days.” See note to the letter to Mrs. Wordsworth, Feb. 18, 1818.
“Mr. Gnwellegan.” Probably Lamb’s effort to write the name of Edward Quillinan, afterwards Wordsworth’s son-in-law, whose first wife had been a Miss Brydges of Lee Priory.
“Lee Priory”—the home of Sir Egerton Brydges, at Ickham, near Canterbury, for some years. He had, however, now left, and the private press was closed.
In Notes and Queries, November 11, 1876, was printed the following scrap, a postscript by Charles Lamb to a letter from Mary Lamb to Miss H. I place it here, having no clue as to date, nor does it matter:—]
CHARLES LAMB TO MISS HUTCHINSON (?)
A propos of birds—the other day at a large dinner, being call’d upon for a toast, I gave, as the best toast I knew, “Wood-cock toast,” which was drunk with 3 cheers.