1820 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Dyer

Charles Lamb, in "The Lion's Head" London Magazine 2 (December 1820) 595-96.



ELIA requests the Editor to inform W. K. that in his article on Oxford, under the initials G. D. it was his intention to make more familiar to the public, a character, which, for integrity and single-heartedness, he has long been accustomed to rank among the best patterns of his species. That, if he has failed in the end which he proposed, it was an error of judgment merely. That, if in pursuance of his purpose, he has drawn forth some personal peculiarities of his friend into notice, it was only from conviction that the public, in living subjects especially, do not endure pure panegyric. That the anecdotes, which he produced, were no more than he conceived necessary to awaken attention to character, and were meant solely to illustrate it. That it is an entire mistake to suppose, that he undertook the character to set off his own wit or ingenuity. That, he conceives, a candid interpreter might find something intended, beyond a heartless jest. That G. D., however, having thought it necessary to disclaim the anecdote respecting Dr. —, it becomes him, who never for a moment can doubt the veracity of his friend, to account for it from an imperfect remembrance of some story he heard long ago, and which, happening to tally with his argument, he set down too hastily to the account of G. D. That, from G. D.'s strong affirmation and proofs to the contrary, he is bound to believe it belongs to no part of G. D.'s biography. That the transaction, supposing it true, must have taken place more than forty years ago. That, in consequence, it is not likely to "meet the eye of many, who might justly be offended."

Finally, that what he has said of the Booksellers, referred to a period of many years, in which he has had the happiness of G. D.'s acquaintance; and can have nothing to do with any present or prospective engagements of G. D. with those gentlemen, to the nature of which he professes himself an entire stranger.