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TO MR. COLERIDGE.
make a thousand lines as I propose com- was my travail, long my trade to win her ; pleting 'em, and the substance must be with all the duty of my soul I SERVED HER. wire-drawn."
*Then she must love.' 'She did, but never
me: she could not love me ; she would not The following letter, written at intervals, love, she hated,—more, she scorn'd me; and will give an insight into Lamb's spirit at this in so poor and base a way abused me for all
time, in its lighter and gayer moods. It my services, for all my bounties, so bold I would seem that his acquaintance with neglects flung on me.'—What out of love,
the old English dramatists had just com- and worthy love I gave her, (shame to her menced with Beaumont and Fletcher, and most unworthy mind,) to fools, to girls, to Massinger :
fiddlers and her boys she flung, all in disdain of me.' One more passage strikes my eye
from B. and F.'s 'Palamon and Arcite.'
“ Tuesday evening. One of 'em complains in prison : 'This is all “ To your list of illustrative personifica- our world ; we shall know nothing here but tions, into which a fine imagination enters, I one another; hear nothing but the clock will take leave to add the following from that tells us our woes; the vine shall grow, Beaumont and Fletcher's' Wife for a Month;' but we shall never see it,' &c.—Is not the 'tis the conclusion of a description of a sea- last circumstance exquisite? I mean not to fight ;- The game of death was never played lay myself open by saying they exceed 50 nobly ; the meagre thief grew wanton in Milton, and perhaps Collins, in sublimity. his mischiefs, and his shrunk hollow eyes But don't you conceive all poets after Shakssmiled on his ruins.' There is fancy in these peare yield to 'em in variety of genius ? of a lower order, from 'Bonduca ; '— Then Massinger treads close on their heels; but did I see these valiant men of Britain, like you are most probably as well acquainted boding owls creep into tods of ivy, and hoot with his writings as your humble servant.
their fears to one another nightly.' Not that My quotations, in that case, will only serve | it is a personification ; only it just caught to expose my barrenness of matter. Southey
my eye in a little extract book I keep, which in simplicity and tenderness, is excelled is full of quotations from B. and F. in parti- decidedly only, I think, by Beaumont and F. cular, in which authors I can't help thinking in his 'Maid's Tragedy,' and some parts of there is a greater richness of poetical fancy ‘Philaster' in particular; and elsewhere
than in any one, Shakspeare excepted. Are occasionally; and perhaps by Cowper in his Į you acquainted with Massinger? At a 'Crazy Kate,' and in parts of his translation;
hazard I will trouble you with a passage such as the speeches of Hecuba and Androfrom a play of his called ' A Very Wopian.' mache. I long to know your opinion of that The lines are spoken by a lover (disguised) to translation. The Odyssey especially is surely his faithless mistress. You will remark the very Homeric. What nobler than the appearfine effect of the double endings. You will ance of Phoebus at the beginning of the Iliad by your ear distinguish the lines, for I write the lines ending with ‘Dread sounding, 'em as prose. ‘Not far from where my father bounding on the silver bow!' lives, a lady, a neighbour by, blest with as “I beg you will give me your opinion of great a beauty as nature durst bestow with the translation ; it afforded me high pleasure.
out undoing, dwelt, and most happily, as I As curious a specimen of translation as ever I thought then, and blest the house a thousand fell into my hands, is a young man's in our
times she dwelt in. This beauty, in the office, of a French novel. What in the blossom of my youth, when my first fire original was literally 'amiable delusions of knew no adulterate incense, nor I no way to the fancy,' he proposed to render the fair flatter but my fondness; in all the bravery frauds of the imagination.' I had much my friends could show me, in all the faith my trouble in licking the book into any meaning innocence could give me, in the best language at all. Yet did the knave clear fifty or sixty my true tongue could tell me, and all the pounds by subscription and selling the copybroken sighs my sick heart lend me, I sued right. The book itself not a week's work ! and served; long did I serve this lady, long To-day's portion of my journalising epistle
TO MR, COLERIDGE.
has been very dull and poverty-stricken. I A proposal by Coleridge to print Lamb's will here end.”
poems with a new edition of his own (an association in which Lloyd was ultimately
included) occasioned reciprocal communica
“ Tuesday night. tions of each other's verses, and many ques“I have been drinking egg-hot and smoking tions of small alterations suggested and Oronooko, (associated circumstances, which argued on both sides. I have thought it ever forcibly recall to my mind our evenings better to omit much of this verbal criticism, and nights at the Salutation,) my eyes and which, not very interesting in itself, is unbrain are heavy and asleep, but my heart is intelligible without a contemporary reference awake ; and if words came as ready as ideas, to the poems which are its subject. The next and ideas as feelings, I could say ten hundred letter was written on hearing of Coleridge kind things. Coleridge, you know not my being afflicted with a painful disease. supreme happiness at having one on earth (though counties separate us) whom I can call a friend. Remember you those tender lines of Logan ?
“ Nov. 8th, 1796.
“My brother, my friend, I am distrest Our broken friendships we deplore, And loves of youth that are no more ;
for you, believe me I am; not so much for No after friendships e'er can raise
your painful, troublesome complaint, which, Th’endearments of our early days, And ne'er the heart such fondness prove,
I trust, is only for a time, as for those As when we first began to love.'
anxieties which brought it on, and perhaps
even now may be nursing its malignity. Tell “I am writing at random, and half-tipsy, me, dearest of my friends, is your mind at what you may not equally understand, as you peace, or has anything, yet unknown to me, will be sober when you read it; but my happened to give you fresh disquiet, and sober and my half-tipsy hours you are alike steal from you all the pleasant dreams of a sharer in. Good night.
future rest ? Are you still (I fear you are)
far from being comfortably settled ? Would "Then up rose our bard, like a prophet in drink, Craigdoroch, thou’lt soar when creation shall sink.'
to God it were in my power to contribute towards the bringing of you into the haven where you would be! But you are too well
skilled in the philosophy of consolation to
“Thursday. need my humble tribute of advice; in pain, “I am now in high hopes to be able to and in sickness, and in all manner of disvisit you, if perfectly convenient on your appointments, I trust you have that within part, by the end of next month-perhaps the you which shall speak peace to your mind. last week or fortnight in July. A change of Make it, I entreat you, one of your puny scene and a change of faces would do me comforts, that I feel for you, and share all good, even if that scene were not to be your griefs with you. I feel as if I were Bristol, and those faces Coleridge's and his troubling you about little things ; now I am friends'! In the words of Terence, a little going to resume the subject of our last two altered, “Tædet me hujus quotidiani mundi.' letters, but it may divert us both from I am heartily sick of the every-day scenes of unpleasanter feelings to make such matters, life. I shall half wish you unmarried (don't in a manner, of importance. Without further show this to Mrs. C.) for one evening only, apology, then, it was not that I did not relish, to have the pleasure of smoking with you, that I did not in my heart thank you for and drinking egg-hot in some little smoky those little pictures of your feelings which room in a pot-house, for I know not yet how you lately sent me, if I neglected to mention I shall like you in a decent room, and looking them. You may remember you had said quite happy. My best love and respects to much the same things before to me on the Sara notwithstanding.
same subject in a former letter, and I con“ Yours sincerely,
sidered those last verses as only the identical “ CHARLES LAMB." thoughts better clothed; either way (in prose
or verse) such poetry must be welcome to 'Tis among the few verses I ever wrote, that me. I love them as I love the Confessions of to Mary is another, which profit me in the Rousseau, and for the same reason ; the same recollection. God love her, and may we two frankness, the same openness of heart, the never love each other less ! same disclosure of all the most hidden and “ These, Coleridge, are the few sketches I delicate affections of the mind : they make have thought worth preserving; how will me proud to be thus esteemed worthy of the they relish thus detached? Will you reject place of friend-confessor, brother-confessor, to all or any of them ? They are thine, do a man like Coleridge. This last is, I acknow- whatsoever thou listest with them. My eyes ledge, language too high for friendship; but ache with writing long and late, and I wax it is also, I declare, too sincere for flattery. wondrous sleepy ; God bless you and yours, Now, to put on stilts, and talk magnificently me and mine! Good night. about trifles. I condescend, then, to your
“ C. LAMB. counsel, Coleridge, and allow my first sonnet (sick to death am I to make mention of
“I will keep my eyes open reluctantly a my sonnets, and I blush to be so taken up minute longer to tell you, that I love you for with them, indeed I do); I allow it to those simple, tender, heart-flowing lines with run thus, ' Fairy Land, &c. &c., as I last which you conclude your last, and in my eyes wrote it.
best, sonnet (so you call 'em), “ The fragments I now send you, I want printed to get rid of 'em ; for, while they “So, for the mother's sake, the child was dear, stick burr-like to my memory, they tempt
And dearer was the mother for the child.' me to go on with the idle trade of versifying, which I long, most sincerely I speak it, I long Cultivate simplicity, Coleridge ; or rather, I to leave off, for it is unprofitable to my soul; should say, banish elaborateness ; for simpli I feel it is ; and these questions about words, city springs spontaneous from the heart, and and debates about alterations, take me off, 1 carries into day-light with it its own modest am conscious, from the properer business of buds, and genuine, sweet, and clear flowers my life. Take my sonnets, once for all, and of expression. I allow no hot-beds in the do not propose any re-amendments, or men- gardens of Parnassus. I am unwilling to go tion them again in any shape to me, I charge to bed, and leave my sheet unfilled (a good you. I blush that my mind can consider piece of night-work for an idle body like me), them as things of any worth. And, pray, so will finish with begging you to send me admit or reject these fragments as you like the earliest account of your complaint, its or dislike them, without ceremony. Call 'em progress, or (as I bope to God you will be sketches, fragments, or what you will, and able to send me) the tale of your recovery, or do not entitle any of my things love sonnets, at least amendment. My tenderest rememas I told you to call 'em ; 'twill only make brances to your Sara. me look little in my own eyes; for it is a
“Once more good night.” passion of which I retain nothing ; 'twas a weakness, concerning which I may say, in the words of Petrarch (whose life is now
A wish to dedicate his portion of the open before me), 'if it drew me out of some volume to his sister gave occasion to the vices, it also prevented the growth of many following touching letter: virtues, filling me with the love of the creature rather than the Creator, which is the death of the soul.' Thank God, the folly
“Nov. 14th, 1796. has left me for ever; not even a review of “ Coleridge, I love you for dedicating your my love verses renews one wayward wish in poetry to Bowles : Genius of the sacred me; and if I am at all solicitous to trim 'em fountain of tears, it was he who led you out in their best apparel, it is because they gently by the hand through all this valley of are to make their appearance in good com- weeping, showed you the dark green yew pany. Now to my fragments. Lest you trees, and the willow shades, where, by the have lost my Grandame, she shall be one, fall of waters, you might indulge an uncom
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
plaining melancholy, a delicious regret for the past, or weave fine visions of that awful future,
"When all the vanities of life's brief day
THE FEW FOLLOWING POEMS,
IN LIFE'S MORE VACANT HOURS,
THE AUTHOR'S BEST FRIEND AND SISTER.
“I have another sort of dedication in my head for my few things, which I want to know if you approve of, and can insert. I
MARY ANNE LAMB, mean to inscribe them to my sister. It will be unexpected, and it will give her pleasure; or do you think it will look whimsical at all ?
“This is the pomp and paraphernalia of as I have not spoke to her about it, I can parting, with which I take my leave of a easily reject the idea. But there is a mono- passion which has reigned so royally (so long) tony in the affections, which people living within me; thus, with its trappings of together, or, as we do now, very frequently laureatship, I fling it off, pleased and satisfied seeing each other, are apt to give in to; a with myself that the weakness troubles me sort of indifference in the expression of kind
no longer. I am wedded, Coleridge, to the ness for each other, which demands that we fortunes of my sister and my poor old father. should sometimes call to our aid the trickery Oh! my friend, I think sometimes, could I of surprise. Do you publish with Lloyd, or recall the days that are past, which among without him ? in either case my little portion them should I choose ? not those 'merrier may come last, and after the fashion of orders days,' not the 'pleasant days of hope,' not to a country corr
orrespondent, I will give direc- “ those wanderings with a fair hair'd maid,' tions how I should like to have 'em done. which I have so often and so feelingly The title-page to stand thus :
regretted, but the days, Coleridge, of a
mother's fondness for her school-boy. What POEMS,
would I give to call her back to earth for one day, on my knees to ask her pardon for all
those little asperities of temper which, from CHARLES LAMB, OF THE INDIA HOUSE.
time to time, have given her gentle spirit pain; “Under this title the following motto,
and the day, my friend, I trust, will come ; which, for want of room, I put over leaf, and there will be 'time enough' for kind offices desire you to insert, whether you like it or
of love, if 'Heaven's eternal year' be ours. no. May not a gentleman choose what arms, Hereafter, her meek spirit shall not reproach mottoes, or armorial bearings the herald will Oh, my friend, cultivate the filial
man think himself give him leave, without consulting his repub- feelings ! and let no lican friend, who might advise none? May released from the kind 'charities' of relationnot a publican put up the sign of the ship: these shall give him peace at the last ; Saracen’s Head, even though his undiscern- these are the best foundation for every species ing neighbour should prefer, as more genteel, of benevolence. I rejoice to hear, by certain the Cat and Gridiron ?
channels, that you, my friend, are reconciled
with all your relations, 'Tis the most kindly (MOTTO.)
and natural species of love, and we have all
the associated train of early feelings to secure *This beauty, in the blossom of my youth, When my first fire knew no adulterate incense,
its strength and perpetuity. Send me an Nor I no way to flatter but my fondness,
account of your health ; indeed I am solicitous In the best language my true tongue could tell me,
about you. God love you and yours. And all the broken sighs my sick heart lend me, I sued and served. Long did I love this lady.'
“ C. LAMB."
The following, written about this time, alludes to some desponding expression in a
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
letter which is lost, and which Coleridge had hundredfold more dearly, than if she heaped combated.
' line upon line,' out Hannah-ing Hannah More ; and had rather hear you sing ‘Did
a very little baby' by your family fire-side, “Dec. 10th, 1796.
than listen to you, when you were repeating “I had put my letter into the post rather one of Bowles's sweetest sonnets, in your hastily, not expecting to have to acknowledge sweet manner, while we two were indulging another from you so soon. This morning's sympathy, a solitary luxury, by the fire-side present has made me alive again : my last at the Salutation. Yet have I no higher night's epistle was childishly querulous ; but ideas of heaven. Your company was one you have put a little life into me, and I will cordial in this melancholy vale '— the thank you for your remembrance of me, while remembrance of it is a blessing partly, and my sense of it is yet warm; for if I linger a partly a curse. When I can abstract myself day or two I may use the same phrase of from things present, I can enjoy it with a acknowledgment, or similar, but the feeling freshness of relish ; but it more constantly that dictates it now will be gone. I shall operates to an unfavourable comparison with send you a caput mortuum, not a cor vivens. the uninteresting converse I always and only Thy Watchman's, thy bellman's verses, I do can partake in. Not a soul loves Bowles retort upon thee, thou libellous varlet,—why here ; scarce one has heard of Burns ; few you cried the hours yourself, and who made but laugh at me for reading my Testament, you so proud ! But I submit, to show my —they talk a language I understand not, I humility most implicitly to your dogmas. I conceal sentiments that would be a puzzle to reject entirely the copy of verses you reject. them. I can only converse with you by With regard to my leaving off versifying you letter, and with the dead in their books. have said so many pretty things, so many My sister, indeed, is all I can wish in a fine compliments, ingeniously decked out in companion ; but our spirits are alike poorly, the garb of sincerity, and undoubtedly our reading and knowledge from the selfspringing from a present feeling somewhat same sources; our communication with the like sincerity, that you might melt the most scenes of the world alike narrow; never un-muse-ical soul,—did you not (now for a having kept separate company, or any Rowland compliment for your profusion of pany' together-never having read separate Olivers), did you not in your very epistle, by books, and few books together—what knowthe many pretty fancies and profusion of ledge have we to convey to each other ? In heart displayed in it, dissuade and discourage our little range of duties and connexions, me from attempting anything after you. At how few sentiments can take place, without present I have not leisure to make verses, friends, with few books, with a taste for nor anything approaching to a fondness for religion, rather than a strong religious habit ! the exercise. In the ignorant present time, We need some support, some leading-strings who can answer for the future man? 'At to cheer and direct us ; you talk very wisely, lovers' perjuries Jove laughs' — and poets and be not sparing of your advice. Continue have sometimes a disingenuous way of for- to remember us, and to show us you do swearing their occupation. This though is remember us: we will take as lively an not my case. Publish your Burns when and interest in what concerns you and yours. how you like, it will be new to me,-my All I can add to your happiness, will be memory of it is very confused, and tainted sympathy : you can add to mine more; you with unpleasant associations. Burns was the can teach me wisdom. I am indeed an god of my idolatry, as Bowles of yours. I unreasonable correspondent ; but I was unam jealous of your fraternising with Bowles, willing to let my last night's letter go off
when I think you relish him more than without this qualifier : you will perceive by | Burns, or my old favourite, Cowper. But this my mind is easier, and you will rejoice.
you conciliate matters when you talk of the I do not expect or wish you to write, till you divine chit-chat' of the latter : by the are moved ; and, of course, shall not, till you expression, I see you thoroughly relish him. announce to me that event, think of writing I love Mrs. Coleridge for her excuses an myself. Love to Mrs. Coleridge and David