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stances of his boyish days. He had become doctrine respecting moral responsibility, and familiar with the vestiges of antiquity, both the ultimate destiny of the human race. The in his school and in his home of the Temple ; adoption of this creed arose in Lamb from and these became dear to him in his serious the accident of education ; he was brought and affectionate childhood. But, perhaps, up to receive and love it ; and attended, more even than those external associations, when circumstances permitted, at the chapel the situation of his parents, as it was elevated at Hackney, of which Mr. Belsham, afterand graced by their character, moulded his wards of Essex Street, was then the minister. young thoughts to the holy habit of a liberal It is remarkable that another of Lamb's most obedience, and unaspiring self-respect, which intimate friends, in whose conversation, next led rather to the embellishment of what was to that of Coleridge, he most delighted, Mr. near than to the creation of visionary forms. Hazlitt, with whom he became acquainted He saw at home the daily beauty of a cheerful at a subsequent time, and who came from a submission to a state bordering on the servile; distant part of the country, was educated he looked upward to his father's master, and in the same faith. With Coleridge, whose the old Benchers who walked with him on early impressions were derived from the the stately terrace, with a modest erectness rites and services of the Church of England, of mind; and he saw in his own humble Unitarianism was the result of a strong home how well the decencies of life could be conviction ; so strong, that with all the maintained on slender means, by the exercise ardour of a convert, he sought to win proseof generous principle. Another circumstance, lytes to his chosen creed, and purposed to akin to these, tended also to impart a tinge of spend his days in preaching it. Neither of venerableness to his early musings. His these young men, however, long continued to maternal grandmother was for many years profess it. Lamb, in his maturer life, rarely housekeeper in the old and wealthy family of alluded to matters of religious doctrine ; and the Plumers of Hertfordshire, by whom she when he did so, evinced no sympathy with was held in true esteem; and his visits to their the professors of his once-loved creed. ancient mansion, where he had the free range Hazlitt wrote to his father, who was a of every apartment, gallery and terraced-walk, Unitarian minister at Wem, with honouring gave him “a peep at the contrasting accidents affection ; and of his dissenting associates of a great fortune,” and an alliance with that with respect, but he had obviously ceased to gentility of soul, which to appreciate, is to think or feel with them; and Coleridge's share. He has beautifully recorded his own Remains indicate, what was well known to recollections of this place in the essay entitled all who enjoyed the privilege of his conver“ Blakesmoor in H-shire,” in which he sation, that he not only reverted to a belief modestly vindicates his claim to partake in in the Trinitarian mysteries, but that he was the associations of ancestry not his own, and accustomed to express as much distaste for shows the true value of high lineage by Unitarianism, and for the spirit of its more detecting the spirit of nobleness which active advocates, as the benignity of his breathes around it, for the enkindling of nature would allow him to feel for any generous affections, not only in those who human opinion honestly cherished. Perhaps may boast of its possession, but in all who this solitary approach to intolerance in the can feel its influences.
universality of Coleridge's mind arose from While the bias of the minds of Coleridge the disapproval with which he might justly and Lamb thus essentially differed, it is regard his own pride of understanding, as singular that their opinions on religion, and excited in defence of the doctrines he had on those philosophical questions which border adopted. To him there was much of devoon religious belief, and receive their colour tional thought to be violated, many reverfrom it, agreed, although probably derived ential associations, intertwined with the from various sources. Both were Unitarians, moral being, to be rent away in the struggle ardent admirers of the writings and character of the intellect to grasp the doctrines which of Dr. Priestley, and both believers in neces- were alien to its nurture. But to Lamb sity, according to Priestley's exposition, and these formed the simple creed of his childin the inference which he drew from that hood; and slender and barren as they seem,
to those who are united in religious sympathy -carried to a pitch almost of painfulnesswith the great body of their fellow-country- Lloyd has scarcely been equalled ; and his men, they sufficed for affections which had poems, though rugged in point of versification, so strong a tendency to find out resting-places will be found by those who will read them for themselves as his. Those who only knew with the calm attention they require, replete him in his latter days, and who feel that if with critical and moral suggestions of the ever the spirit of Christianity breathed highest value. He and Coleridge were through a human life, it breathed in his, will, devoted wholly to literary pursuits; while nevertheless, trace with surprise the extra- Lamb's days were given to accounts, and ordinary vividness of impressions directly only at snatches of time was he able to religious, and the self-jealousy with which cultivate the faculty of which the society he watched the cares and distractions of the of Coleridge had made him imperfectly
world, which might efface them, in his first conscious. í letters. If in a life of ungenial toil, diversified Lamb's first compositions were in verse
with frequent sorrow, the train of these produced slowly, at long intervals, and with solemn meditations was broken ; if he was self-distrust which the encouragements of led, in the distractions and labours of his Coleridge could not subdue. With the course, to cleave more closely to surrounding exception of a sonnet to Mrs. Siddons, whose objects than those early aspirations promised; acting, especially in the character of Lady is, in his cravings after immediate sympathy, Randolph, had made a deep impression upon he rather sought to perpetuate the social him, they were exclusively personal. The circle which he charmed, than to expatiate longest and most elaborate is that beautiful in scenes of untried being ; his pious feelings piece of blank verse entitled “The Granwere only diverted, not destroyed. The dame,” in which he so affectionately celebrates stream glided still, the under current of the virtues of the “antique world” of the thought sometimes breaking out in sallies aged housekeeper of Mr. Plumer. A youthful which strangers did not understand, but passion, which lasted only a few months, and always feeding and nourishing the most which he afterwards attempted to regard exquisite sweetness of disposition, and the lightly as a folly past, inspired a few sonnets most unobtrusive proofs of self-denying of very delicate feeling and exquisite music. love.
On the death of his parents, he felt himself While Lamb was enjoying habits of the called upon by duty to repay to his sister closest intimacy with Coleridge in London, the solicitude with which she had watched he was introduced by him to a young poet over his infancy ;-and well indeed he perwbose name has often been associated with formed it! To her, from the age of twentyhis-Charles Lloyd—the son of a wealthy one, he devoted his existence ; — seeking banker at Birmingham, who had recently thenceforth no connexion which could intercast off the trammels of the Society of Friends, fere with her supremacy in his affections, or and, smitten with the love of poetry, had impair his ability to sustain and to comfort become a student at the University of Cam- her.
bridge. There he had been attracted to | Coleridge by the fascination of his discourse ;
and having been admitted to his regard, was introduced by him to Lamb. Lloyd was
CHAPTER II. endeared both to Lamb and Coleridge by a very amiable disposition and a pensive cast
(1796.) of thought; but his intellect bore little resemblance to that of either. He wrote, In the year 1796, Coleridge, having married, indeed, pleasing verses and with great facility, and relinquished his splendid dream of emi-a facility fatal to excellence ; but his mind gration, was resident at Bristol ; and Lamb, was chiefly remarkable for the fine power of who had quitted the Temple, and lived with analysis which distinguishes his “ London,” his father, then sinking into dotage, felt his and other of his later compositions. In this absence from London bitterly, and sought a power of discriminating and distinguishing correspondence with him as, almost, his only
LETTERS TO COLERIDGE.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
comfort. “In your absence,” he writes, in profanely."* The same fervour glows in one of the earliest of his letters,* " I feel a the sectarian piety of the following letter stupor that makes me indifferent to the hopes addressed to Coleridge, when fascinated with and fears of this life. I sometimes wish to the idea of a cottage life. introduce a religious turn of mind ; but habits are strong things, and my religious fervours are confined, alas ! to some fleeting moments of occasional solitary devotion. A
“ Oct. 24th, 1796, correspondence opening with you has roused “ Coleridge, I feel myself much your
debtor me a little from my lethargy, and made me for that spirit of confidence and friendship conscious of existence. Indulge me in it! I which dictated your last letter. May your will not be very troublesome.” And again, soul find peace at last in your cottage life ! a few days after: “You are the only corre- I only wish you were but settled. Do conspondent, and, I might add, the only friend, tinue to write to me. I read your letters I have in the world. I go no-where, and with my sister, and they give us both abundhave no acquaintance. Slow of speech, and ance of delight. Especially they please us reserved of manners, no one seeks or cares two, when you talk in a religious strain, for my society, and I am left alone. Cole- not but we are offended occasionally with a ridge, I devoutly wish that Fortune, which certain freedom of expression, a certain air has made sport with you so long, may play of mysticism, more consonant to the conceits one freak more, throw you into London, or of pagan philosophy, than consistent with some spot near it, and there snugify you for the humility of genuine piety. To instance life. 'Tis a selfish, but natural wish for me, now in your last letter-you say, “it is by cast as I am 'on life's wide plain friendless.”” the press, that God hath given finite spirits These appeals, it may well be believed, were both evil and good (I suppose you mean not made in vain to one who delighted in the simply bad men and good men), a portion as lavish communication of the riches of his it were of His Omnipresence!' Now, high own mind even to strangers ; but none of as the human intellect comparatively will the letters of Coleridge to Lamb have been soar, and wide as its influence, malign or preserved. He had just published his salutary, can extend, is there not, Coleridge, “ Religious Musings,” and the glittering a distance between the Divine Mind and it, enthusiasm of its language excited Lamb's which makes such language blasphemy? pious feelings, almost to a degree of pain. Again, in your first fine consolatory epistle “I dare not,” says he of this poem, “criticise you say, 'you are a temporary sharer in it. I like not to select any part where all human misery, that you may be an eternal is excellent. I can only admire and thank partaker of the Divine Nature.' What more you for it, in the name of a lover of true than this do those men say, who are for poetry
exalting the man Christ Jesus into the
second person of an unknown Trinity,-men, • Believe thou, O my soul, Life is a vision shadowy of truth ;
whom you or I scruple not to call idolaters ? And vice, and anguish, and the wormy grave, Man, full of imperfections, at best, and subShapes of a dream.'
ject to wants which momentarily remind I thank you for these lines in the name of
him of dependence; man, a weak and ignonecessarian.” To Priestley, Lamb repeatedly the skiey influences,' with eyes sometimes
rant being, 'servile’ from his birth to all alludes as to the object of their common admiration. “In reading your "Religious
open to discern the right path, but a head Musings,'” says he, “ I felt a transient
generally too dizzy to pursue it; man, in the
superiority over you : I have seen Priestley. I pride of speculation, forgetting his nature, love to see his name repeated in your
* He probably refers to the following lines in the writings ;-I love and honour him almost Religious Musings :
So Priestley, their patriot, and saint, and sage,
Him, full of years, from his loved native land, * These and other passages are extracted from letters Statesmen blood-stained, and priests idolatrous, which are either too personal or not sufficiently interesting Drove with vain hate. Calm, pitying, he return'd, for entire publication.
And mused expectant on those promised years !
and hailing in himself the future God, must quite so well satisfied. You seem to me to make the angels laugh. Be not angry with have been straining your comparing faculties me, Coleridge ; I wish not to cavil; I know to bring together things infinitely distant and I cannot instruct you; I only wish to remind unlike; the feeble narrow-sphered operations you of that humility which best becometh of the human intellect ; and the everywhere the Christian character. God, in the New diffused mind of Deity, the peerless wisdom Testament (our best guide,) is represented to of Jehovah. Even the expression appears to
us in the kind, condescending, amiable, me inaccurate-portion of omnipresence! familiar light of a parent : and in my poor omnipresence is an attribute whose very
mind 'tis best for us so to consider of him, essence is unlimitedness. How can omnias our heavenly father, and our best friend, presence be affirmed of anything in part ? without indulging too bold conceptions of But enough of this spirit of disputatiousness. his nature. Let us learn to think humbly Let us attend to the proper business of human of ourselves, and rejoice in the appellation life, and talk a little together respecting our of 'dear children,'' brethren,' and 'co-heirs domestic concerns. Do you continue to make with Christ of the promises,' seeking to know me acquainted with what you are doing, and no further.
how soon you are likely to be settled once “I am not insensible, indeed I am not, of for all. the value of that first letter of yours, and I “Have you seen Bowles's new poem on shall find reason to thank you for it again 'Hope ?' What character does it bear ? Has and again long after that blemish in it is he exhausted his stores of tender plaintiveforgotten. It will be a fine lesson of comfort ness? or is he the same in this last as in all to us, whenever we read it ; and read it we his former pieces? The duties of the day call often shall, Mary and I.
me off from this pleasant intercourse with my “ Accept our loves and best kind wishes friend—so for the present adieu. Now for for the welfare of yourself and wife and little the truant borrowing of a few minutes from one. Nor let me forget to wish you joy on business. Have you met with a new poem your birth-day, so lately past; I thought you called the 'Pursuits of Literature ?' from had been older. My kind thanks and remem- the extracts in the ‘British Review' I judge brances to Lloyd.
it to be a very humorous thing, in particular “God love us all, and may He continue to I remember what I thought a very happy be the father and the friend of the whole character of Dr. Darwin's poetry. Among all human race !
your quaint readings did you ever light upon “ Sunday Evening."
'Walton's Complete Angler?' I asked you the question once before ; it breathes the
very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity The next letter, commencing in a similar of heart; there are many choice old verses interstrain, diverges to literary topics, and espe- spersed in it; it would sweeten a man's temper cially alludes to “Walton's Angler,”—a book at any time to read it; it would Christianise which Lamb always loved as it were a living every discordant angry passion; pray make friend.
yourself acquainted with it. Have you made it
up with Southey yet ? Surely one of you two
“ Oct, 28th, 1796. must have been a very silly fellow, and the “My dear friend, I am not ignorant that other not much better, to fall out like boarding to be a partaker of the Divine Nature is a school misses; kiss, shake hands, and make phrase to be met with in Scripture: I am it up. only apprehensive, lest we in these latter “ When will he be delivered of his new days, tinctured (some of us perhaps pretty epic? Madoc, I think, is to be the name of deeply) with mystical notions and the pride it, though that is a name not familiar to my of metaphysics, might be apt to affix to such ears. What progress do you make in your phrases a meaning, which the primitive users hymns ? What 'Review' are you connected of them, the simple fisher of Galilee for with ? if with any, why do you delay to notice instance, never intended to convey. With White's book ? You are justly offended at that other part of your apology I am not its profaneness, but surely you have under
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
valued its wit, or you would have been more read it again and again, and it will be a guide loud in its praises. Do not you think that to my future taste. Perhaps I had estimated in Slender's death and madness there is most Southey's merits too much by number, weight, exquisite humour, mingled with tenderness, and measure. I now agree completely and that is irresistible, truly Shakspearian? Be entirely in your opinion of the genius of more full in your mention of it. Poor fellow, Southey. Your own image of melancholy is he has (very undeservedly) lost by it, nor do illustrative of what you teach, and in itself I see that it is likely ever to reimburse him masterly. I conjecture it is 'disbranched' the charge of printing, &c. Give it a lift, if from one of your embryo 'hymns.' When you can. I am just now wondering whether they are mature of birth (were I you) I you will ever come to town again, Coleridge ; should print 'em in one separate volume, 'tis among the things I dare not hope, but with 'Religious Musings,' and your part of can't help wishing. For myself, I can live the ‘Joan of Arc.' Birds of the same soaring in the midst of town luxury and superfluity, wing should hold on their flight in company. and not long for them, and I can't see why Once for all (and by renewing the subject your children might not hereafter do the you will only renew in me the condemnation same. Remember, you are not in Arcadia, of Tantalus), I hope to be able to pay you a when you are in the west of England, and visit (if you are then at Bristol) some time in they may catch infection from the world the latter end of August or beginning of without visiting the metropolis. But you September, for a week or fortnight-before seem to have set your heart upon this same that time, office business puts an absolute cottage plan, and God prosper you in the veto on my coming. experiment! I am at a loss for more to write about, so 'tis as well that I am arrived
* And if a sigh that speaks regret of happier times at the bottom of my paper.
A glimpse of joy that we have met shall shine and dry “God love you, Coleridge !-our best loves and tenderest wishes await on you, your Sara, and your little one.
“ C. L.”
Of the blank verses I spoke of, the following lines are the only tolerably complete ones I
have writ out of not more than one hundred Having been encouraged by Coleridge to and fifty. That I get on so slowly you may entertain the thought of publishing his fairly impute to want of practice in compoverses, he submitted the poem called “The sition, when I declare to you that (the few Grandame” to his friend, with the following verses which you have seen excepted) I have letter :
not writ fifty lines since I left school. It
may not be amiss to remark that my grand“ Monday night.
mother (on whom the verses are written) “ Unfurnished at present with any sheet- lived housekeeper in a family the fifty or filling subject, I shall continue my letter sixty last years of her life—that she was a gradually and journal-wise. My second woman of exemplary piety and goodnessthoughts entirely coincide with your com- and for many years before her death was ments on “Joan of Arc,' and I can only terribly afflicted with a cancer in her breast wonder at my childish judgment which over- which she bore with true Christian patience. looked the 1st book and could prefer the 9th: You may think that I have not kept enough not that I was insensible to the soberer apart the ideas of her heavenly and her beauties of the former, but the latter caught earthly master, but recollect I have designme with its glare of magic,—the former, how- edly given in to her own way of feeling—and ever, left a more pleasing general recollection if she had a failing, 'twas that she respected in my mind. Let me add, the 1st book was her master's family too much, not reverenced the favourite of my sister—and I now, with her Maker too little. The lines begin imperJoan, often think on Domremi and the fields fectly, as I may probably connect 'em if I of Arc.' I must not pass over without acknow- finish at all,—and if I do, Biggs shall print ledging my obligations to your full and satis- 'em, in a more economical way than you factory account of personifications. I have yours, for (sonnets and all) they won't
TO MR. COLERIDGE.