The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 324 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 4.

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Page 81. The Self-Enchanted.

First printed in The Athenaeum, January 7, 1832.

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Page 82. To Louisa M—–­, whom I used to call “Monkey."

First printed in Hone’s Year Book for December 30, 1831, under the title “The Change.” (See the verses “The Ape,” on page 89, and note, the forerunner of the present poem, addressed also to Louisa Martin.)

Page 82. Cheap Gifts:  a Sonnet.

First printed in The Athenaeum, February 15, 1834.

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Page 83. Free Thoughts on Several Eminent Composers.  Lamb was very fond of these lines, which he sent to more than one of his friends.  The text varies in some of the copies, but I have not thought it necessary to indicate the differences.  Its inspiration was attributed by him both to William Ayrton (1777-1858), the musical critic, and to Vincent Novello (1781-1861), the organist, composer and close friend of Lamb.  In a letter to Sarah Hazlitt in 1830 Lamb copies the poem, remarking—­“Having read Hawkins and Burney recently, I was enabled to talk [to Ayrton] of Names, and show more knowledge than he had suspected I possessed; and in the end he begg’d me to shape my thoughts upon paper, which I did after he was gone, and sent him.”

So Lamb wrote to Mrs. Hazlitt.  But to Ayrton, when he sent the verses, he said:—­“[Novello] desiring me to give him my real opinion respecting the distinct grades of excellence in all the eminent Composers of the Italian, German and English schools, I have done it, rather to oblige him than from any overweening opinion I have of my own judgment in that science.”

Both these statements are manifestations of what Lamb called his “matter-of-lie” disposition.  To Mrs. Hazlitt he thought that Ayrton’s name would be more important; to Ayrton, Novello’s.

The verses, whatever their origin, were written by Lamb in Novello’s Album, with this postscript, signed by Mary Lamb, added:—­

      The reason why my brother’s so severe,
      Vincentio, is—­my brother has no ear;
      And Caradori, his mellifluous throat
      Might stretch in vain to make him learn a note. 
      Of common tunes he knows not anything,
      Nor “Rule Britannia” from “God save the King.” 
      He rail at Handel!  He the gamut quiz! 
      I’d lay my life he knows not what it is. 
      His spite at music is a pretty whim—­
      He loves not it, because it loves not him.

M. LAMB.

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UNCOLLECTED PIECES

Page 85. Dramatic Fragment.

London Magazine, January, 1822.  An excerpt from Lamb’s play, “Pride’s Cure” (John Woodvil).  See note below.

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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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