[Mrs. Allsop was a daughter of Mrs. Jordan, and had herself been an actress.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[Dated at end: 2 September (1823).]
Dear B.B.—What will you say to my not writing? You cannot say I do not write now. Hessey has not used your kind sonnet, nor have I seen it. Pray send me a Copy. Neither have I heard any more of your Friend’s MS., which I will reclaim, whenever you please. When you come London-ward you will find me no longer in Cov’t Gard. I have a Cottage, in Colebrook row, Islington. A cottage, for it is detach’d; a white house, with 6 good rooms; the New River (rather elderly by this time) runs (if a moderate walking pace can be so termed) close to the foot of the house; and behind is a spacious garden, with vines (I assure you), pears, strawberries, parsnips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart of old Alcinous. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining room, all studded over and rough with old Books, and above is a lightsome Drawing room, 3 windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great Lord, never having had a house before.
The London I fear falls off.—I linger among its creaking rafters, like the last rat. It will topple down, if they don’t get some Buttresses. They have pull’d down three, W. Hazlitt, Proctor, and their best stay, kind light hearted Wainwright —their Janus. The best is, neither of our fortunes is concern’d in it.
I heard of you from Mr. Pulham this morning, and that gave a fillip to my Laziness, which has been intolerable. But I am so taken up with pruning and gardening, quite a new sort of occupation to me. I have gather’d my Jargonels, but my Windsor Pears are backward. The former were of exquisite raciness. I do now sit under my own vine, and contemplate the growth of vegetable nature. I can now understand in what sense they speak of FATHER ADAM. I recognise the paternity, while I watch my tulips. I almost FELL with him, for the first day I turned a drunken gard’ner (as he let in the serpent) into my Eden, and he laid about him, lopping off some choice boughs, &c., which hung over from a neighbor’s garden, and in his blind zeal laid waste a shade, which had sheltered their window from the gaze of passers by. The old gentlewoman (fury made her not handsome) could scarcely be reconciled by all my fine words. There was no buttering her parsnips. She talk’d of the Law. What a lapse to commit on the first day of my happy “garden-state.”
I hope you transmitted the Fox-Journal to its Owner with suitable thanks.
Mr. Cary, the Dante-man, dines with me to-day. He is a model of a country Parson, lean (as a Curate ought to be), modest, sensible, no obtruder of church dogmas, quite a different man from Southey,—you would like him.
Pray accept this for a Letter, and believe me with sincere regards