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Norwich boards, in the season of that year, being then in the 22nd year of his age.
TO BERNARD BARTON. Having a natural bent to tragedy, he chose
“ February 10th, 1825. the part of Pyrrhus,' in the Distrest “Dear B. B.,—The Spirit of the Age'is Mother,' to Sally Parker's 'Hermione.' We by Hazlitt, the characters of Coleridge, &c. find him afterwards as ‘Barnwell,' 'Alta- he had done better in former publications, mont,''Chamont,' &c.; but, as if nature had the praise and the abuse much stronger, &c., destined him to the sock, an unavoidable but the new ones are capitally done. Horne infirmity absolutely discapacitated him for Tooke is a matchless portrait. My advice is, tragedy. His person at this latter period of to borrow it rather than buy it. I have it. which I have been speaking, was graceful, He has laid too many colours on my likeand even commanding ; his countenance set ness; but I have had so much injustice done to gravity; he had the power of arresting me in my own name, that I make a rule of the attention of an audience at first sight accepting as much over-measure to Elia as almost beyond any other tragic actor. But gentlemen think proper to bestow. Lay it he could not hold it. To understand this on and spare not. Your gentleman brother obstacle, we must go back a few years, to sets my mouth a-watering after liberty. Oh those appalling reveries at Charnwood. that I were kicked out of Leadenhall with Those illusions, which had vanished before every mark of indignity, and a competence in the dissipation of a less recluse life, and more my fob. The birds of the air would not be free society, now in his solitary tragic studies, so free as I should. How I would prance and amid the intense calls upon feeling and curvet it, and pick up cowslips, and incident to tragic acting, came back upon him ramble about purposeless, as an idiot! The with tenfold vividness. In the midst of some author-mometer is a good fancy. I have most pathetic passage—the parting of Jaffier caused great speculation in the dramatic (not with his dying friend, for instance-he would thy) world by a lying 'Life of Liston,' all suddenly be surprised with a fit of violent pure invention. The town has swallowed it, horse laughter. While the spectators were and it is copied into newspapers, play-bills, all sobbing before him with emotion, suddenly &c., as authentic. You do not know the Droll, one of those grotesque faces would peep out and possibly missed reading the article (in upon him, and he could not resist the our first number, new series). A life more impulse. A timely excuse once or twice improbable for him to have lived would not served his purpose, but no audiences could be be easily invented. But your rebuke, coupled expected to bear repeatedly this violation of with 'Dream on J. Bunyan,' checks me. I'd the continuity of feeling. He describes rather do more in
but feel them (the illusions) as so many demons dry. I must laugh sometimes. I am poor haunting him, and paralysing every effort. Hypochondriacus, and not Liston. Even now, I am told, he cannot recite the “I have been harassed more than usually famous soliloquy in Hamlet, even in private, at office, which has stopt my correspondence without immoderate bursts of laughter. lately. I write with a confused aching head, However, what he had not force of reason and you must accept this apology for a letter. sufficient to overcome, he had good sense “I will do something soon, if I can, as a enough to turn to emolument, and determined peace-offering to the queen of the East to make a commodity of his distemper. He Angles-something she shan't scold about. prudently exchanged the buskin for the sock, For the present farewell. and the illusions instantly ceased, or, if they
“Thine, C. L." occurred for a short season, by their very co-operation, added a zest to his comic vein ; “I am fifty years old this day. Drink my some of his most catching faces being (as he health.” expresses it) little more than transcripts and copies of those extraordinary phantasmata."
Freedom now gleamed on him, and he He completed his half century on the day became restless with the approach of deliverwhen he addressed the following letter
TO BERNARD BARTON.
He and you
letters contain his own expressions of delight on his deliverance, as conveyed to several of
his dearest friends. In the first his happiness
“March 23rd, 1825. “Dear B. B.,-I have had no impulse to is a little checked by the death of Mr. Monkwrite, or attend to any single object but house, a relation of Mrs. Wordsworth, who myself for weeks past—my single self, I by had gradually won Lamb's affections, and myself—I. I am sick of hope deferred. The who nobly deserved them. grand wheel is in agitation, that is to turn up my fortune; but round it rolls, and will turn up nothing. I have a glimpse of freedom,
TO MR. WORDSWORTH. of becoming a gentleman at large ; but I am
“Colebrook Cottage, 6th April, 1825. put off from day to day. I have offered my “Dear Wordsworth,—I have been several resignation, and it is neither accepted nor times meditating a letter to you concerning rejected. Eight weeks am I kept in this the good thing which has befallen me, but fearful suspense. Guess what an absorbing the thought of poor Monkhouse came across stake I feel it. I am not conscious of the me. He was one that I had exulted in the existence of friends present or absent. The prospect of congratulating me. East India Directors alone can be that thing were to have been the first participators, for to me or not. I have just learned that indeed it has been ten weeks since the first nothing will be decided this week. Why motion of it. Here am I then, after thirtythe next ? Why any week ? It has fretted three years' slavery, sitting in my own room me into an itch of the fingers ; I rub 'em at eleven o'clock this finest of all April against paper, and write to you, rather than mornings, a freed man, with 4411. a year for not allay this scorbuta.
the remainder of my life, live I as long as “While I can write, let me abjure you to John Dennis, who outlived his annuity and have no doubts of IRVING. Let Mr. M starved at ninety : 4411., i. e., 4501., with a drop his disrespect. Irving has prefixed a deduction of 91. for a provision secured to dedication (of a missionary subject, first part) my sister, she being survivor, the pension to Coleridge, the most beautiful, cordial, and guaranteed by Act Georgii Tertii, &c. sincere. He there acknowledges his obliga
“I came home FOR EVER on Tuesday in tion to S. T.C. for his knowledge of Gospel last week. The incomprehensibleness of my truths, the nature of a Christian Church, &c., condition overwhelmed me. It was like to the talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge (at passing from life into eternity. Every year whose Gamaliel feet he sits weekly), rather to be as long as three, i. e., to have three than to that of all the men living. This from times as much real time-time that is my him, the great dandled and petted sectarian own, in it! I wandered about thinking I -to a religious character so equivocal in the was happy, but feeling I was not. But that world's eye as that of S. T. C., so foreign to tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to the Kirk's estimate-can this man be a understand the nature of the gift. Holydays, quack? The language is as affecting as the even the annual month, were always uneasy spirit of the dedication. Some friend told joys; their conscious fugitiveness ; the craving him, "This dedication will do you no good,' after making the most of them. Now, when il., not in the world's repute, or with your all is holyday, there are no holydays. I can own people. “That is a reason for doing it,' sit at home, in rain or shine, without a restquoth Irving
less impulse for walkings. I am daily steady"I am thoroughly pleased with him. He ing, and shall soon find it as natural to me is firm, out-speaking, intrepid, and docile as to be my own master, as it has been irksome a pupil of Pythagoras. You must like him. to have had a master. Mary wakes every “ Yours, in tremors of painful hope,
morning with an obscure feeling that some “ C. LAMB."
good has happened to us.
and after their releasements,
describe the shock of their emancipation much These tremors of painful hope were soon as I feel mine. But it hurt their frames. I changed into certain joy. The following eat, drink, and sleep sound as ever. I lay
TO BERNARD BARTON.
no anxious schemes for going hither and thither, but take things as they occur. Yesterday I excursioned twenty miles ; to-day
April, 1825. I write a few letters. Pleasuring was for “Dear B. B.—My spirits are so tumultuary fugitive play-days, mine are fugitive only in with the novelty of my recent emancipation, the sense that life is fugitive. Freedom and that I have scarce steadiness of hand, much life co-existent !
more mind, to compose a letter. I am free, “At the foot of such a call upon you for B. B.—free as air ! gratulation, I am ashamed to advert to that
"The little bird that wings the sky melancholy event. Monkhouse was a cha
Knows no such liberty.' racter I learned to love slowly, but it grew upon me, yearly, monthly, daily. What a I was set free on Tuesday in last week at chasm has it made in our pleasant parties ! four o'clock. I came home for ever! His noble friendly face was always coming “I have been describing my feelings as before
me, till this hurrying event in my life well as I can to Wordsworth in a long letter, came, and for the time has absorbed all and don't care to repeat. Take it briefly, interest ; in fact it has shaken me a little. that for a few days I was painfully oppressed My old desk companions, with whom I have by so mighty a change, but it is becoming had such merry hours, seem to reproach me daily more natural to me. I went and sat for removing my lot from among them. among 'em all at my old thirty-three-years' They were pleasant creatures; but to the desk yester morning; and, deuce take me, anxieties of business, and a weight of possible if I had not yearnings at leaving all my old worse ever impending, I was not equal. pen-and-ink fellows, merry, sociable lads, at Indeed this last winter I was jaded out— leaving them in the lurch, fag, fag, fag !winters were always worse than other parts The comparison of my own superior felicity of the year, because the spirits are worse, and gave me anything but pleasure. I had no day-light. In summer I had day “B. B., I would not serve another seven light evenings. The relief was hinted to me years for seven hundred thousand pounds! from a superior power when I, poor slave, I have got 4411. net for life, sanctioned by had not a hope but that I must wait another act of parliament, with a provision for Mary seven years with Jacob—and lo! the Rachel if she survives me. I will live another fifty which I coveted is brought to me.
years; or, if I live but ten, they will be “Have you read the noble dedication of thirty, reckoning the quantity of real time Irving’s ‘Missionary Orations' to S. T. C. in them, i.e. the time that is a man's own. Who shall call this man a quack hereafter ? Tell me how you like 'Barbara S.* ;' will it What the Kirk will think of it neither I nor be received in atonement for the foolish Irving care. When somebody suggested to "Vision '-I mean by the lady? A-propos, I him that it would not be likely to do him never saw Mrs. Crawford in my life ; nevergood, videlicet, among his own people, “That theless it's all true of somebody. is a reason for doing it,' was his noble “Address me, in future, Colebrookanswer. That Irving thinks he has profited cottage, Islington. I am really nervous (but mainly by S. T. C., I have no doubt. The that will wear off), so take this brief very style of the Dedication shows it.
announcement. “Communicate my news to Southey, and
“ Yours truly,
C. L." beg his pardon for my being so long acknowledging his kind present of the Church,
TO MISS HUTCHINSON. which circumstances, having no reference to
“ April 18th, 1925. himself, prevented at the time. Assure him “Dear Miss Hutchinson,-You want to of my deep respect and friendliest feelings. know all about my gaol delivery. Take it
“Divide the same, or rather each take the then. About twelve weeks since I had a sort whole to you—I mean you and all yours. To Miss Hutchinson I must write separate.
The true heroine of this beautiful story is still “Farewell! and end at last, long selfish living, though she has left the stage. It is enough to
make a severer quaker than B. B. feel “that there is letter!
some soul of goodness in players.
TO MR. SOUTHEY,
of intimation that a resignation might be alas ! is the first. Our kindest remembrances well accepted from me. This was a kind to Mrs. Monkhouse, bird's whisper. On that hint I spake. “And believe us yours most truly, G- and T— furnished me with certifi
“C. LAMB." cates of wasted health and sore spirits-not much more than the truth, I promise you
In this summer Lamb and his sister paid and for nine weeks I was kept in a fright. a long visit to Enfield, which induced their I had gone too far to recede, and they might removing thither some time afterwards. take advantage, and dismiss me with a much The following letter is addressed thence, less sum than I had reckoned on. However, liberty came at last, with a liberal provision. I have given up what I could have lived on
“ August 19th, 1825. in the country ; but have enough to live “Dear Southey,—You'll know who this here, by management and scribbling occa- letter comes from by opening slap-dash upon sionally. I would not go back to my prison the text, as in the good old times. I never for seven years longer for 10,0001. a year, could come into the custom of envelopes ; seven years after one is fifty, is no trifle to 'tis a modern foppery; the Plinian corresgive up. Still I am a young pensioner, and pondence gives no hint of such. In singlehave served but thirty-three years ; very ness of sheet and meaning, then, I thank you few, I assure you, retire before forty, forty- for your little book. I am ashamed to add five, or fifty years' service.
a codicil of thanks for your 'Book of the |
“You will ask how I bear my freedom ? Church. I scarce feel competent to give an | Faith, for some days I was staggered ; could opinion of the latter; I have not reading
not comprehend the magnitude of my deliv-, enough of that kind to venture at it. I can erance; was confused, giddy ; knew not only say the fact, that I have read it with whether I was on my head or my heel, as attention and interest. Being, as you know, they say. But those giddy feelings have not quite a Churchman, I felt a jealousy at gone away, and my weather-glass stands at a the Church taking to herself the whole degree or two above
deserts of Christianity, Catholic and Pro
testant, from Druid extirpation downwards. | CONTENT.
I call all good Christians the Church, Capilla
rians and all. But I am in too light a “I go about quiet, and have none of that humour to touch these matters. May all restless hunting after recreation, which made our churches flourish! Two things staggered holydays formerly uneasy joys. All being me in the poem, (and one of them staggered holydays, I feel as if I had none, as they do both of us), I cannot away with a beautiful in heaven, where 'tis all red-letter days. I series of verses, as I protest they are, comhave a kind letter from the Wordsworths, mencing “Jenner.' 'Tis like a choice banquet congratulatory not a little. It is a damp, I opened with a pill or an electuary-physic do assure you, amid all my prospects, that I stuff. T'other is, we cannot make out how can receive none from a quarter upon which Edith should be no more than ten years old. I had calculated, almost more than from any, By’r Lady, we had taken her to be some upon receiving congratulations. I had grown sixteen or upwards. We suppose you have to like poor Monkhouse more and more. I only chosen the round number for the metre.
do not esteem a soul living or not living more Or poem and dedication may be both older | warmly than I had grown to esteem and than they pretend to ; but then some hint
value him. But words are vain. We have might have been given ; for, as it stands, it none of us to count upon many years. That may only serve some day to puzzle the parish is the only cure for sad thoughts. If only reckoning. But without inquiring further, some died, and the rest were permanent on (for 'tis ungracious to look into a lady's years,) earth, what a thing a friend's death would the dedication is evidently pleasing and be then!
tender, and we wish Edith May Southey joy " I must take leave, having put off answer- of it. Something, too, struck us as if we had ing a load of letters to this morning, and this heard of the death of John May. A John
May's death was a few years since in the 'Tis all holiday with me now, you know. papers. We think the tale one of the The change works admirably. quietest, prettiest things we have seen. You “For literary news, in my poor way, I have been temperate in the use of localities, have a one-act farce going to be acted at which generally spoil poems laid in exotic Haymarket; but when ? is the question. regions. You mostly cannot stir out in such 'Tis an extravaganza, and like enough to things) for humming-birds and fire-fies. A follow Mr. H. "The London Magazine 'has tree is a Magnolia, &c.—Can I but like the shifted its publishers once more, and I shall truly Catholic spirit ? ‘Blame as thou shift myself out of it. It is fallen. My mayest the Papist's erring creed-which, ambition is not at present higher than to and other passages, brought me back to the write nonsense for the playhouses, to eke out old Anthology days, and the admonitory a something contracted income. Tempus erat. lesson to 'Dear George' on 'The Vesper There was a time, my dear Cornwallis, when Bell,' a little poem which retains its first hold the Muse, &c. But I am now in Mac upon me strangely,
Fleckno's predicament, “The compliment to the translatress is
Promised a play, and dwindled to a farce.' daintily conceived. Nothing is choicer in that sort of writing than to bring in some
Coleridge is better (was, at least, a few remote, impossible parallel,-a
, -as between a weeks since) than he has been for years. His great empress and the inobtrusive quiet soul accomplishing his book at last has been a who digged her noiseless way so perseveringly source of vigour to him. We are on a half through that rugged Paraguay mine. How visit to his friend Allsop, at a Mrs. Leishman's, she Dobrizhoffered it all out, it puzzles my Enfield, but expect to be at Colebrookslender Latinity to conjecture. Why do you cottage in a week or so, where, or anywhere, seem to sanction Landor's unfeeling allegor- I shall be always most happy to receive ising away of honest Quixote! He may as
tidings from you. G. Dyer is in the height well say Strap is meant to symbolise the of an uxorious paradise. His honeymoon Scottish nation before the Union, and Random will not wane till he wax cold. Never was since that act of dubious issue; or that a more happy pair, since Acme and Septimius, Partridge means the Mystical Man, and Lady and longer. Farewell, with many thanks, Bellaston typifies the Woman upon Many dear S.
Our loves to all round your Waters. Gebir, indeed, may mean the state
Your old friend, of the hop markets last month, for anything
“ C. LAMB." I know to the contrary. That all Spain overflowed with romancical books (as Madge
The farce referred to in this letter was Newcastle calls them) was no reason that founded on Lamb's essay “On the InconveniCervantes should not smile at the matter of ence of being Hanged.” It was, perhaps, too them ; nor even a reason that, in another slight for the stage, and never was honoured mood, he might not multiply them, deeply as by a trial ; but was ultimately published in he was tinctured with the essence of them.
“ Blackwood's Magazine.” Quixote is the father of gentle ridicule, and at the same time the very depository and treasury of chivalry and highest notions. Marry, when somebody persuaded Cervantes that he meant only fun, and put him upon
CHAPTER XVI. writing that unfortunate Second Part with the confederacies of that unworthy duke and
(1826 to 1828.] most contemptible duchess, Cervantes sacrificed his instinct to his understanding.
“We got your little book but last night, When the first enjoyment of freedom was being at Enfield, to which place we came over, it may be doubted whether Lamb was about a month since, and are having quiet happier for the change. He lost a grievance holydays. Mary walks her twelve miles a on which he could lavish all the fantastical day some days, and I my twenty on others. exaggeration of a sufferer without wounding
LETTERS TO ROBINSON, CARY, COLERIDGE, PATHORE,
PROCTER, AND BARTON.