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TO MR. COLERIDGE.

« 1796.

Original letters or Falstaff, Shallow,' &c., a copy you shall have when it comes out.

They are without exception the best imitaDear C make yourself perfectly easy tions I ever saw. Coleridge ! it may conabout May. I paid his bill when I sent your vince you of my regards for you when I tell clothes. I was flush of money, and am so still you my head ran on you in my madness, as to all the purposes of a single life ; so give much almost as on another person, who I am yourself no further concern about it. The inclined to think was the more immediate money would be superfluous to me if I had it. cause of my temporary frenzy.

“When Southey becomes as modest as “ The sonnet I send you has small merit his predecessor Milton, and publishes his as poetry; but you will be curious to read it Epics in duodecimo, I will read 'em ; a when I tell you it was written in my prisonguinea a book is somewhat exorbitant, house in one of my lucid intervals. nor have I the opportunity of borrowing the work. The extracts from it in the

TO MY SISTER. Monthly Reviews, and the short passages “ If from my lips some angry accents fell, in your Watchman, seem to me much Peevish complaint, or harsh reproof unkind,

'Twas but the error of a sickly mind superior to anything in his partnership

And troubled thoughts, clouding the purer well, account with Lovell. Your poems I shall And waters clear, of Reason; and for me

Let this my verse the poor atonement be procure forthwith. There were noble lines

My verse, which thou to praise wert e'er inclined in what you inserted in one of your numbers, Too highly, and with partial eye to see from ‘Religious Musings ;' but I thought

No blemish. Thou to me didst ever show

Kindest affection; and wouldst oft-times lend them elaborate. I am somewhat glad you

An ear to the desponding love-sick lay, have given up that paper ; it must have been Weeping my sorrows with me, who repay

But ill the mighty debt of love I owe, dry, unprofitable, and of dissonant mood to

Mary, to thee, my sister and my friend. your disposition. I wish you success in all your undertakings, and am glad to hear you “With these lines, and with that sister's are employed about the ' Evidences of Re- kindest remembrances to C I conclude. ligion.' There is need of multiplying such “ Yours sincerely,

LAMB." books a hundredfold in this philosophical age, to prevent converts to atheism, for they “ Your Conciones ad Populum’are the seem too tough disputants to meddle with most eloquent politics that ever came in my afterwards.

way. “ Le Grice is gone to make puns in Corn “ Write when convenient—not as a task, wall

. He has got a tutorship to a young boy for here is nothing in this letter to answer. living with his mother, a widow-lady. He “We cannot send our remembrances to will, of course, initiate him quickly in 'what- Mrs. C., not having seen her, but believe me soever things are lovely, honourable, and of our best good wishes attend you both. good report. Coleridge ! I know not what “My civic and poetic compliments to suffering scenes you have gone through at Southey if at Bristol ; — why, he is a Bristol. My life has been somewhat diver- very Leviathan of Bards—the small minsified of late. The six weeks that finished

now,

I!" last year and began this, your very

humble servant spent very agreeably in a madhouse, at Hoxton. I am got somewhat rational In the spring of this year, Coleridge pronow, and don't bite any one. But mad Iposed the association of those first efforts of was ! And many a vagary my imagination the young clerk in the India House, which he played with me, enough to make a volume, if had prompted and praised, with his own, in all were told. My sonnets I have extended a new edition of his Poems, to which Mr. to the number of nine since I saw you, and Charles Lloyd also proposed to contribute. will some day communicate to you. I am The following letter comprises Sonnets transbeginning a poem in blank verse, which, if I mitted to Coleridge for this purpose, accomfinish, I publish. White is on the eve of panied by remarks so characteristic as to publishing (he took the hint from Vortigern) induce the hope that the reader will forgive

« 1796.

the introduction of these small gems of verse you, but have preserved a part of it, and it which were published in due course, for the runs thus. I flatter myself you will like it :sake of the original setting.

“ A timid grace sits trembling in her eye,

As loth to meet the rudeness of men's sight; TO MR. COLERIDGE.

Yet shedding a delicious lunar light,

That steeps in kind oblivious ecstacy "I am in such violent pain with the head- The care-crazed mind, like some still melody : ache, that I am fit for nothing but tran

Speaking most plain the thoughts which do possess

Her gentle sprite, peace and meek quietness, scribing, scarce for that. When I get your

And innocent loves, and maiden purity : poems, and the 'Joan of Arc,'I will exercise A look whereof might heal the cruel smart

Of changed friends; or Fortune's wrongs unkind; my presumption in giving you my opinion of

Might to sweet deeds of mercy move the heart 'em. The mail does not come in before to- Of him, who hates his brethren of mankind : morrow (Wednesday) morning. The fol- Turned are those beams from me, who fondly yet

Past joys, vain loves, and buried hopes regret. lowing Sonnet was composed during a walk down into Hertfordshire early in last

" The next and last I value most of all. summer :

'Twas composed close upon the heels of the " The Lord of Light shakes off his drowsyhed. last, in that very wood I had in mind when

Fresh from his couch up springs the lusty sun,
And girds himself his mighty race to run;

I wrote—Methinks how dainty sweet.'
Meantime, by truant love of rambling led

“ We were two pretty babes, the youngest she, I turn my back on thy detested walls, Proud city, and thy sons I leave behind

The youngest, and the loveliest far, I ween,

And Innocence her name. The time has been A selfish, sordid, money-getting kind,

We two did love each other's company ; Who shut their ears when holy Freedom calls.

Time was, we two had wept to have been apart : I pass not thee so lightly, humble spire, That mindest me of many a pleasure gone,

But when, with show of seeming good beguild,

I left the garb and manners of a child,
Of merriest days of Love and Islington,
Kindling anew the flames of past desire;

And my first love for man's society,
And I shall muse on thee, slow journeying on,

Defiling with the world my virgin heart

My loved companion dropt a tear, and fled, To the green plains of pleasant Hertfordshire.

And hid in deepest shades her awful head.

Beloved! who can tell me where thou art“ The last line is a copy of Bowles's, ‘To In what delicious Eden to be foundthe green hamlet in the peaceful plain.'

That I may seek thee the wide world around ? Your ears are not so very fastidious; many people would not like words so prosaic and

“Since writing it, I have found in a poem familiar in a Sonnet as Islington and Hert- by Hamilton of Bangor, these two lines to fordshire. The next was written within a

‘Happiness.' day or two of the last, on revisiting a spot Nun, sober and devout, where art thou fled where the scene was laid of my first Sonnet To hide in shades thy meek contented head? 'that mocked my step with many a lonely Lines eminently beautiful ; but I do not reglade.'

member having read them previously, for the “ When last I roved these winding wood-walks green, credit of my tenth and eleventh lines. Parnell Green winding walks, and shady pathways sweet ;

has two lines (which probably suggested the Oft-times would Anna seek the silent scene,

Shrouding her beauties in the lone retreat. above) to 'Contentment.'
No more I hear her footsteps in the shade ;
Her image only in these pleasant ways

Whither, ah! whither art thou fled
Meets me self-wandering, where in happier days

To hide thy meek contented + head ? I held free converse with my fair-haired maid.

I passed the little cottage which she loved, The cottage which did once my all contain ;

“Cowley's exquisite 'Elegy on the death It spake of days that ne'er must come again ; of his friend Harvey,' suggested the phrase

Spake to my heart, and much my heart was moved. of we two.'
Now · Fair befal thee, gentle maid,' said I;
And from the cottage turned me with a sigh.

Was there a tree that did not know

The love betwixt us two ? “ The next retains a few lines from a Sonnet of mine which you once remarked

“So much for acknowledged plagiarisms, had no 'body of thought ’in it. I agree with • Cowley uses this phrase with a somewhat different

meaning. I meant, loves of relatives, friends, &c.• "Drowsyhed ” I have met with, I think, in Spenser. C. Lamb's Manuscripts. 'Tis an old thing, but it rhymes with led, and rhyming + An odd epithet for Contentment in a poet so poetical covers a multitude of licences.-C. Lamb's Manuscripts. as Parnell.-C. Lamb's Manuscripts.

my

the confession of which I know not whether augured great things from the first number. it has more of vanity or modesty in it. As to There is some exquisite poetry interspersed. blank

verse, I am so dismally slow and I have re-read the extract from the Religious sterile of ideas (I speak from my heart) that Musings,' and retract whatever invidious I much question if it will ever come to any there was in my censure of it as elaborate. issue. I have hitherto only hammered out a There are times when one is not in a disposifew independent, unconnected snatches, not tion thoroughly to relish good writing. I in a capacity to be sent. I am very ill, and have re-read it in a more favourable mowill rest till I have read your poems, for ment, and hesitate not to pronounce it which I am very thankful. I have one more sublime. If there be anything in it apfavour to beg of you, that you never mention proaching to tumidity (which I meant not Mr. May's affair in any sort, much less think to infer; by elaborate I meant simply laof repaying. Are we not flocci-nauci-what- boured), it is the gigantic hyperbole by d'ye-call-'em-ists? We have just learned which you describe the evils of existing that my poor brother has had a sad accident, society ; ‘snakes, lions, hyenas, and behea large stone blown down by yesterday's moths,' is carrying your resentment beyond high wind has bruised his leg in a most bounds. The pictures of 'The Simoom,' of shocking manner; he is under the care of Frenzy and Ruin,' of “The Whore of Cruikshanks. Coleridge! there are 10,000 Babylon,' and 'The Cry of Foul Spirits disobjections against my paying you a visit at herited of Earth,' and the strange beatitude' Bristol ; it cannot be else; but in this world which the good man shall recognise in heaven, ’tis better not to think too much of pleasant as well as the particularising of the children possibles, that we may not be out of humour of wretchedness (I have unconsciously inwith present insipids. Should anything bring cluded every part of it), form a variety of you to London, you will recollect No. 7, uniform excellence. I hunger and thirst to Little Queen Street, Holborn.

read the poem complete. That is a capital “ I shall be too ill to call on Wordsworth line in your sixth number. myself, but will take care to transmit him

* This dark, frieze-coated, hoarse, teeth-chattering his poem, when I have read it. I saw Le Grice the day before his departure, and mentioned incidentally his 'teaching the young They are exactly such epithets as Burns idea how to shoot.' Knowing him and the would have stumbled on, whose poem on the probability there is of people having a pro- ploughed-up daisy you seem to have had in pensity to pun in his company, you will not mind. Your complaint that of your readers wonder that we both stumbled on the same some thought there was too much, some too pun at once, he eagerly anticipating me, little original matter in your numbers, 'he would teach him to shoot !' Poor Le reminds me of poor dead Parsons in the Grice ! if wit alone could entitle a man to 'Critic.' "Too little incident ! Give me leave respect, &c., he has written a very witty little to tell you, sir, there is too much incident.' I pamphlet lately, satirical upon college decla- had like to have forgot thanking you for that mations. When I send White's book, I will exquisite little morsel, the first Sclavonian add that. I am sorry there should be any Song. The expression in the second,—'more difference between you and Southey. 'Be- happy to be unhappy in hell ;' is it not very tween you two there should be peace,' tho' quaint ? Accept my thanks, in common I must say I have borne him no good will with those of all who love good poetry, for since he spirited you away from among us. "The Braes of Yarrow. I congratulate you What is become of Moschus ? You sported on the enemies you must have made by your some of his sublimities, I see, in your Watch- splendid invective against the barterers in man. Very decent things. So much for to- human flesh and sinews. Coleridge ! you night from your afflicted, headachey, sore- will rejoice to hear that Cowper is recovered throatey, humble servant, C. LAMB." from his lunacy, and is employed on his

translation of the Italian, &c., poems of Tuesday night.-Of your Watchman, the Milton for an edition where Fuseli presides Review of Burke was the best prose. I as designer. Coleridge! to an idler like

month.'

myself, to write and receive letters are both Musings.' I shall read the whole carefully, very pleasant, but I wish not to break in and in some future letter take the liberty to upon your valuable time by expecting to particularise my opinions of it. Of what is hear very frequently from you. Reserve new to me among your poems next to the that obligation for your moments of lassitude, ‘Musings,' that beginning 'My Pensive Sara' when you have nothing else to do; for your gave me most pleasure: the lines in it I just loco-restive and all your idle propensities, of alluded to are most exquisite; they made course, have given way to the duties of pro- my sister and self smile, as conveying a viding for a family. The mail is come in, but pleasing picture of Mrs. C. checking your no parcel ; yet this is Tuesday. Farewell, wild wanderings, which we were so fond of then, till to-morrow, for a niche and a nook I hearing you indulge when among us. It has must leave for criticisms. By the way I endeared us more than anything to your hope you do not send your own only copy of good lady, and your own self-reproof that Joan of Arc; I will in that case return it follows delighted us. 'Tis a charming poem immediately.

throughout (you have well remarked that “Your parcel is come; you have been charming, admirable, exquisite are the words lavish of your presents.

expressive of feelings more than conveying “Wordsworth’s poem I have hurried of ideas, else I might plead very well want of through, not without delight. Poor Lovell ! room in my paper as excuse for generalising). my heart almost accuses me for the light I want room to tell you how we are charmed manner I spoke of him above, not dreaming with your verses in the manner of Spenser, of his death. My heart bleeds for your &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. I am glad you resume accumulated troubles; God send you through the ‘Watchman.' Change the name;

leave 'em with patience. I conjure you dream not out all articles of news, and whatever things that I will ever think of being repaid ; the are peculiar to newspapers,

and confine yourvery word is galling to the ears. I have self to ethics, verse, criticism or rather do read all your 'Religious Musings' with unin- not confine yourself. Let your plan be as terrupted feelings of profound admiration. diffuse as the “Spectator,' and I'll answer You may safely rest your fame on it. The for it the work prospers. If I am vain best remaining things are what I have before enough to think I can be a contributor, rely read, and they lose nothing by my recollection on my inclinations. Coleridge! in reading of your manner of reciting 'em, for I too bear your "Religious Musings,' I felt a transient in mind the voice, the look, of absent superiority over you. I have seen Priestly. friends, and can occasionally mimic their I love to see his name repeated in your manner for the amusement of those who writings. I love and honour him almost have seen 'em. Your impassioned manner profanely. You would be charmed with his of recitation I can recall at any time to mine Sermons, if you never read 'em. You have own heart and to the ears of the bystanders. doubtless read his books iliustrative of the I rather wish you had left the monody on doctrine of Necessity. Prefixed to a late Chatterton concluding as it did abruptly. It work of his in answer to Paine, there is a had more of unity. The conclusion of your preface giving an account of the man, and his

Religious Musings,' I fear will entitle you services to men, written by Lindsey, his to the reproof of your beloved woman, who dearest friend, well worth your reading. wisely will not suffer your fancy to run riot, Tuesday eve. - Forgive my prolixity, but bids you walk humbly with your God. which is yet too brief for all I could wish to The very last words, 'I exercise my young say. God give you comfort, and all that are noviciate thought in ministeries of heart of your household ! Our loves and best good stirring song,' though not now new to me, wishes to Mrs. C.

C. LAMB." cannot be enough admired. To speak politely, they are a well-turned compliment to Poetry. I hasten to read 'Joan of Arc,' The parcel mentioned in the last letter, &c. I have read your lines at the beginning brought the “Joan of Arc,” and a request of second book : they are worthy of Milton; from Coleridge, that Lamb would freely but in my mind yield to your ‘Religious criticise his poems with a view to their

selection and correction for the contemplated Dead is the Douglas ! cold thy warrior volume. The reply is contained in the fol- frame, illustrious Buchan,' &c., are of kindred lowing letter which, written on several days, excellence with Gray's 'Cold is Cadwallo's begins at the extreme top of the first page, tongue,' &c. How famously the Maid baffles without any ceremony of introduction, and the Doctors, Seraphic and Irrefragable, 'with is comprised in three sides and a bit of all their trumpery!' Page 126, the procesfoolscap.

sion, the appearances of the Maid, of the

Bastard Son of Orleans and of Tremouille, TO MR. COLERIDGE.

are full of fire and fancy, and exquisite “With ‘Joan of Arc' I have been de- melody of versification. The personifications lighted, amazed ; I had not presumed to from line 303 to 309, in the heat of the expect anything of such excellence from battle, had better been omitted ; they are Southey. Why the poem is alone sufficient not very striking, and only encumber. The to redeem the character of the age we live converse which Joan and Conrade hold on in from the imputation of degenerating in the banks of the Loire is altogether beauPoetry, were there no such beings extant as tiful. Page 313, the conjecture that in dreams Burns, and Bowles, Cowper, and -; fill all things are that seem,' is one of those up the blank how you please ; I say nothing. conceits which the Poet delights to admit The subject is well chosen. It opens well. into his creed—a creed, by the way, more To become more particular, I will notice in marvellous and mystic than ever Athanasius their order a few passages that chiefly struck dreamed of. Page 315, I need only mention me on perusal. Page 26, 'Fierce and terrible those lines ending with 'She saw a serpent Benevolence !' is a phrase full of grandeur gnawing at her heart!' They are good and originality. The whole context made imitative lines, 'he toiled and toiled, of toil me feel possessed, even like Joan herself. to reap no end, but endless toil and neverPage 28, 'It is most horrible with the keen ending woe.' Page 347, Cruelty is such as sword to gore the finely-fibred human frame,' Hogarth might have painted her. Page 361, and what follows, pleased me mightily. In all the passage about Love (where he seems the 2nd Book, the first forty lines in par- to confound conjugal love with creating and ticular are majestic and high-sounding preserving love) is very confused, and sickens Indeed the whole vision of the Palace of me with a load of useless personifications ; Ambition and what follows are supremely else that ninth Book is the finest in the excellent. Your simile of the Laplander, volume — an exquisite combination of the 'By Niemi's lake, or Balda Zhiok, or the ludicrous and the terrible : I have never read mossy stone of Solfar-Kapper,'

; * will bear either, even in translation, but such I concomparison with any in Milton for fulness of ceive to be the manner of Dante or Ariosto. circumstance and lofty-pacedness of versifi. The tenth Book is the most languid. On the cation. Southey's similes, though many of whole, considering the celerity wherewith ’em are capital, are all inferior. In one of the poem was finished, I was astonished at his books, the simile of the oak in the storm the unfrequency of weak lines. I had exoccurs, I think, four times. To return; the pected to find it verbose. Joan, I think, light in which you view the heathen deities does too little in battle ; Dunois perhaps the is accurate and beautiful. Southey's personi- same ; Conrade too much. The anecdotes fications in this book are so many fine and interspersed among the battles refresh the faultless pictures. I was much pleased with mind very agreeably, and I am delighted your manner of accounting for the reason with the very many passages of simple why monarchs take delight in war. At the pathos abounding throughout the poem, 447th line you have placed Prophets and passages which the author of 'Crazy Kate' Enthusiasts cheek by jowl, on too intimate a might have written. Has not Master Southey footing for the dignity of the former. Neces- spoke very slightingly, in his preface, and sarian-like-speaking, it is correct. Page 98, disparagingly of Cowper's Homer? What

makes him reluctant to give Cowper his Lapland mountains. The verses referred to are fame? And does not Southey use too often published in Mr. Coleridge's Poem entitled “ The Destiny of Nations : a Vision."

the expletives ‘did,' and 'does ?' They have

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