The Salutation and Cat


'The Old Familiar Faces'

'I have been laughing, I have been carousing,
Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies—
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.'


‘From December 1794 into January 1795 he was spending some of his evenings in The Salutation and Cat deepening his friendship with Coleridge.' (Introduction, The Letters of Charles and Mary Anne Lamb, Volume I, 1796-1801, p.xxxv .)


Letter to Coleridge, June 14, 1796, ‘I have been drinking egg-hot and smoking Oronooko (associated circumstances, which ever forcibly recall to my mind our evenings and nights at the Salutation); my eyes and brain are heavy and asleep, but my heart is awake; and if words came as ready as ideas, and ideas as feelings, I could say ten hundred kind things. Coleridge, you know not my supreme happiness at having one on earth (though counties separate us) whom I can call a friend. Remember you those tender lines of Logan?

‘Our broken friendships we deplore, /And loves of youth that are no more; / No after friendships e'er can raise / Th' endearments of our early days, / And ne'er the heart such fondness prove, / As when we first began to love.'

I am writing at random, and half-tipsy, what you may not equally understand, as you will be sober when you read it; but my sober and my half-tipsy hours you are alike a sharer in. Good night.

‘Then up rose our bard, like a prophet in drink, / Craigdoroch, thou'lt soar when creation shall sink.' Burns.


June 16, 1796, to Coleridge: ‘I am heartily sick of the every-day scenes of life. I shall half wish you unmarried (don't show this to Mrs. C.) for one evening only, to have the pleasure of smoking with you, and drinking egg-hot in some little smoky room in a pot-house, for I know not yet how I shall like you in a decent room, and looking quite happy.'


To STC, December 1, 1796. ‘White's book is at length reviewed in the Monthly; was it your doing, or Dyer's to whom I sent him? or rather do you not write in the Critical? for I observed in an Article of this Month's a line quoted out of that sonnet on Mrs. Siddons "with eager wondrin'g & perturb'd delight"—& a line from that sonnet would not readily have occurred to a stranger. That Sonnet, Coleridge, brings afresh to my mind the time when you wrote those on Bowles, Priestly, Burke—'twas 2 Christmas[e]s ago—& in that nice little smoky room at the Salutation, which is eve now continually presenting itself to my recollection, with all its associated train of pipes, tobacco, Egghot, welch Rabbits, metaphysics & Poetry—. Are we never to meet again?'


To STC, December 10, 1796: ‘I love Mrs. Coleridge for her excuses an hundredfold more dearly than if she heaped ‘line upon line,' out-Hannah-ing Hannah More, and had rather hear you sing ‘Did a very little baby' by your family fire-side, than listen to you when you were repeating one of Bowles's sweetest sonnets in your sweet manner, while we two were indulging sympathy, a solitary luxury, by the fireside at the Salutation.'


To STC, 16 January, 1797, ‘Lloyd takes up his abode at the Bull & Mouth Inn,—the Cat & Salutation would have had a charm more forcible for me—. O noctes cœnœque deum: Anglice, Welch rabbits, punch, & poesy.'


To STC, June 13 [12], 1797. Lamb is pleased to receive a letter from Coleridge at long last. ‘You have done well in writing to me. The little room (was it not a little one?) at the Salutation was already in the way of becoming a fading idea! it had begun to be classed in my memory with those ‘wanderings with a fair hair'd maid', in the recollection of which I feel I have no property.'


To STC, again describing his isolation - ‘I see nobody, and sit, and read or walk, alone, and hear nothing. I am quite lost to conversation from disuse...' - ‘But it is better to give than to receive; and I was a very patient hearer and docile scholar in our winter evening meetings at Mr. May's; was I not, Col.? What I have owed to thee, my heart can ne'er forget.' -

(same letter) ‘I long, I yearn, with all the longings of a child do I desire to see you, to come among you—to see the young philosopher to thank Sara for her last year's invitation in person—to read your tragedy—to read over together our little book—to breath fresh air—to revive in me vivid images of "Salutation scenery." There is a sort of sacrilege in my letting such ideas slip out of my mind & memory ——'