LAMB, CHARLES (1775-1834)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'A STRANGER'S TRIBUTE TO MISS HILL', signed and dated at the end ('Charles Lamb, Chase, Enfield, 27th Mar[ch] 1829'), 16 lines, note in another hand at foot 'One of my Schoolfellows. Written in Charles Lamb's own hand', 1 page, quarto, slight stain and on a separate leaf probably from when in an album, Chase, Enfield, 27 March 1829
Such goodness in your face doth shine,
With modest look, without design
That I despair, poor pen of mine
Can e'er express it.
To give it words I feebly try;
My spirits fail me to supply
Befitting language for't; and I
Can only bless it!...
This poem is printed in The Works, 1924, without the name of the person to whom the verses were presented ('In the Album of Miss----'). It was first printed in Blackwood's Magazine in May 1929 under the title 'For a Young Lady's Album'. With the poem are two other leaves on one of which is written out another, apparently unpublished, poem by Charles Lamb written in the hand of the note at the foot of the 'Tribute to Miss Hill', 18 lines, beginning 'Green in years, and Grey in name...,' under the title 'To Miss Gray, or Grey, at Mrs Gisborne's Enfield AD 1830'.
Charles Lamb and his sister Mary moved to The Poplars, 87 Chase Side, Enfield, in September 1827 and to number 89 in October 1829.
Lamb commented on his own handwriting in terms alluding to the top two grammar-school forms (Grecians and Deputy Grecians) at Christ's Hospital: 'Mine is a sort of deputy Grecians, but still remote from the mercantile. I don't know how it is, but I keep my rank in fancy still since schooldays. I can never forget I was a Deputy Grecian!'
This is the only known manuscript of 'A Stranger's Tribute to Miss Hill' recorded by Barbara Rosenbaum (LmC 140). Only five autograph poems by Lamb have been sold at auction in the last forty years at least.
Lamb's literary papers were scattered: collections are housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Huntington Library, San Marino, California, and the University of Kentucky.
REFERENCES: Index of English Literary Manuscripts, Volume IV, 1800-1900, 1990, compiled by Barbara Rosenbaum, LmC 140; P.J. Croft, Autograph Poetry in the English Language, 2 volumes, 1973.