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LETTERS TO COLERIDGE.
Hartley, and my kind remembrance to Lloyd in those old paintings, have been mostly of if he is with you.
“ C. LAMB. a dirty drab-coloured yellow-a dull gam“I will get ‘Nature and Art,'—have not bogium. Keep your old line; it will excite seen it yet-nor any of Jeremy Taylor's a confused kind of pleasurable idea in the works.”
reader's mind, not clear enough to be called a conception, nor just enough, I think, to reduce to painting. It is a rich line, you
say ; and riches hide a many faults.” And CHAPTER III.
the word “ wreathed " was ultimately
adopted, instead of purple or golden ; but (1797.)
the snow-white glories remain. THE volume which was to combine the
Not satisfied with the dedication of his early poetry of the three friends was not completed in the year 1796, and proceeded portion of the volume to his sister, and the slowly through the press in the following Lamb urged on Coleridge the insertion of
sonnet which had been sent to the press, year ; Lamb occasionally submitting an additional sonnet, or correction of one already another, which seems to have been ultimately sent, to the judgment of Coleridge, and filling
withheld as too poor in poetical merit for long letters with minute suggestions on
publication. The rejected sonnet, and the Coleridge's share of the work, and high, but references made to it by the writer, have
an interest now beyond what mere fancy can honest expressions of praise of particular
give. images and thoughts. The eulogy is only ode of Coleridge, he thus introduced the
After various critical remarks on an interesting as indicative of the reverential
subject :feeling with which Lamb regarded the genius of Coleridge—but one or two specimens of
“If the fraternal sentiment conveyed in the gentle rebuke which he ventured on, the following lines will atone for the total when the gorgeousness of Coleridge's lan
want of anything like merit or genius in it, guage seemed to oppress his
I desire you will print it next after my other worthy of preservation. The following relates to a line in the noble Ode on the
sonnet to my sister. Departing Year, in which Coleridge had
* Friend of my earliest years and childish days, written of
My joys, my sorrows, thou with me hast shared,
Companion dear; and we alike have fared, “ Th' ethereal multitude,
Poor pilgrims we, through life's unequal ways. Whose purple locks with snow-white glories shone.”
It were unwisely done, should we refuse
To cheer our path, as featly as we may, — “Purple locks, and snow-white glories ;' Our lonely path to cheer, as travellers use, -these are things the muse talks about
With merry song, quaint tale, or roundelay.
And we will sometimes talk past troubles o'er, when, to borrow H. Walpole's witty phrase, Of mercies shown, and all our sickness heal'd she is not finely-frenzied, only a little light- And in his judgments God remembering love :
And we will learn to praise God evermore, headed, that's all — Purple locks !' They
For those “glad tidings of great joy,” reveal'd may manage things differently in fairyland; By that sooth messenger, sent from above.'-1797. but your 'golden tresses' are to my fancy.”
On this remonstrance Coleridge changed “This has been a sad long letter of the “purple” into “golden,” defending his business, with no room in it for what honest original epithet ; and Lamb thus gave up Bunyan terms heart-work. I have just room the point
left to congratulate you on your removal to “Golden locks and snow-white glories' Stowey ; to wish success to all your projects; are as incongruous as your former; and if to bid fair peace ' be to that house ; to send the great Italian painters, of whom my friend my love and best wishes, breathed warmly, knows about as much as the man in the after your dear Sara, and her little David moon—if these great gentlemen be on your Hartley. If Lloyd be with you, bid him side, I see no harm in your retaining the write to ine: I feel to whom I am obliged purple. The glories that I have observed primarily, for two very friendly letters I to encircle the heads of saints and madonnas have received already from him. A dainty sweet book that ‘Nature and Art' is.— I am in the feelings, but what is common and at present re-re-reading Priestley's Examin- natural to thousands, nor ought properly to ation of the Scotch Doctors : how the rogue be called poetry, I see; still it will tend to
strings 'em up! three together! You have keep present to my mind a view of things ! no doubt read that clear, strong, humourous, which I ought to indulge. These six lines,
most entertaining piece of reasoning ? If too, have not, to a reader, a connectedness not, procure it, and be exquisitely amused. with the foregoing. Omit it, if you like.I wish I could get more of Priestley's works. What a treasure it is to my poor, indolent, Can you recommend me to any more books, and unemployed mind, thus to lay hold on a easy of access, such as circulating shops subject to talk about, though 'tis but a afford! God bless you and yours.
sonnet, and that of the lowest order! How “ Monday morning, at office.”
mournfully inactive I am !—'Tis night: good
night. “Poor Mary is very unwell with a sore “My sister, I thank God, is nigh recovered: throat and a slight species of scarlet fever. she was seriously ill. Do, in your next letter, ! God bless her too."
and that right soon, give me some satisfac
tion respecting your present situation at He recurs to the subject in his next letter, Stowey. Is it a farm you have got ? and which is also interesting, as urging Coleridge what does your worship know about farming ? to attempt some great poem worthy of his “Coleridge, I want you to write an epic genius.
poem. Nothing short of it can satisfy the TO MR. COLERIDGE.
vast capacity of true poetic genius. Having
“Jan, 10th, 1797. one great end to direct all your poetical “I need not repeat my wishes to have my faculties to, and on which to lay out your little sonnets printed verbatim my last way. hopes, your ambition will show you to what In particular, I fear lest you should prefer you are equal. By the sacred energies of printing my first sonnet, as you have done Milton ! by the dainty, sweet, and soothing more than once, "did the wand of Merlin phantasies of honey-tongued Spenser! I wave,' it looks so like Mr. Merlin, the inge- adjure you to attempt the epic. Or do some
nious successor of the immortal Merlin, now thing more ample than the writing an occaį
living in good health and spirits, and flourish- sional brief ode or sonnet; something to ing in magical reputation, in Oxford-street; make yourself for ever known,—to make the and, on my life, one half who read it would age to come your own.' But I prate; doubtunderstand it so. Do put 'em forth finally, less you meditate something. When you are as I have, in various letters, settled it; for exalted among the lords of epic fame, I shall first a man's self is to be pleased, and then recall with pleasure, and exultingly, the days his friends,—and, of course, the greater of your humility, when you disdained not to number of his friends, if they differ inter se. put forth, in the same volume with mine, Thus taste may safely be put to the vote. I your ‘Religious Musings, and that other do long to see our names together; not for poem from the ‘Joan of Arc, those promising vanity's sake, and naughty pride of heart first-fruits of high renown to come. You altogether, for not a living soul I know, or have learning, you have fancy, you have am intimate with, will scarce read the book, enthusiasm, you have strength, and ampli-so I shall gain nothing, quoad famam; and tude of wing enow for flights like those I yet there is a little vanity mixes in it, I recom
ommend. In the vast and unexplored cannot help denying.-I am aware of the regions of fairy-land, there is ground enough unpoetical cast of the six last lines of my last unfound and uncultivated ; search there, and sonnet, and think myself unwarranted in realise your favourite Susquehannah scheme. smuggling so tame a thing into the book ; In all our comparisons of taste, I do not know only the sentiments of those six lines are whether I have ever heard your opinion of thoroughly congenial to me in my state of a poet, very dear to me,—the now-out-ofmind, and I wish to accumulate perpetuating fashion Cowley. Favour me with your tokens of my affection to poor Mary,—that judgment of him, and tell me if his prose it has no originality in its cast, nor anything essays, in particular, as well as no incon
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
siderable part of his verse, be not delicious. ence by letter, and personal intimacy, are I prefer the graceful rambling of his essays, very widely different. Do, do write to me, even to the courtly elegance and ease of and do some good to my mind, already how Addison ; abstracting from this the latter's much'warped and relaxed' by the world ! exquisite humour.
'Tis the conclusion of another evening. Good
night. God have us all in his keeping. “When the little volume is printed, send “If you are sufficiently at leisure, oblige me three or four, at all events not more than me with an account of your plan of life at six copies, and tell me if I put you to any Stowey-your literary occupations and prosadditional expense, by printing with you. I pects—in short, make me acquainted with have no thought of the kind, and in that every circumstance which, as relating to you, case must reimburse you.”
can be interesting to me. Are you yet a
Berkleyan ? Make me I rejoice in In the commencement of this year, Cole- being, speculatively, a necessarian. Would ridge removed from Bristol to a cottage at to God, I were habitually a practical one ! Nether Stowey, to embody his favourite Confirm me in the faith of that great and dream of a cottage life. This change of place glorious doctrine, and keep me steady in the probably delayed the printing of the volume ; contemplation of it. You some time since and Coleridge, busy with a thousand specu- expressed an intention you had of finishing lations, became irregular in replying to the some extensive work on the Evidences of letters with writing which Lamb solaced his Natural and Revealed Religion. Have you dreary hours. The following are the most let that intention go? Or are you doing anyinteresting portions of the only letters which thing towards it ? Make to yourself other remain of this year.
ten talents. My letter is full of nothingness. I talk of nothing. But I must talk. I love
to write to you. I take a pride in it. It " Jan. 10th, 1797.
makes me think less meanly of myself. It “ Priestley, whom I sin in almost adoring, makes me think myself not totally disconspeaks of“such a choice of company, as tends nected from the better part of mankind. I to keep up that right bent, and firmness, of know I am too dissatisfied with the beings mind, which a necessary intercourse with the around me; but I cannot help occasionally world would otherwise warp and relax.' exclaiming, 'Woe is me, that I am constrained 'Such fellowship is the true balsam of life; to dwell with Meshech, and to have my its cement is infinitely more durable than habitation among the tents of Kedar.' I that of the friendships of the world, and it know I am noways better in practice than looks for its proper fruit, and complete grati- my neighbours, but I have a taste for religion, fication, to the life beyond the grave.' Is an occasional earnest aspiration after perfecthere a possible chance for such an one as I tion, which they have not. I gain nothing to realise in this world such friendships ? by being with such as myself—we encourage Where am I to look for 'em ? What testi- one another in mediocrity. I am always monials shall I bring of my being worthy of longing to be with men more excellent than such friendship? Alas! the great and good myself. All this must sound odd to you, but go together in separate herds, and leave such these are my predominant feelings, when I as I to lag far, far behind in all intellectual, sit down to write to you, and I should put and, far more grievous to say, in all moral force upon my mind were 1 to reject them. accomplishments. Coleridge, I have not one Yet I rejoice, aud feel my privilege with truly elevated character among my acquaint- gratitude, when I have been reading some ance : not one Christian : not one, but under- wise book, such as I have just been reading, values Christianity-singly what am I to do ? ‘Priestley on Philosophical Necessity,' in the Wesley (have you read his life ?) was he not thought that I enjoy a kind of communion, a an elevated character ? Wesley has said, kind of friendship even, with the great and ' Religion is not a solitary thing.' Alas! it good. Books are to me instead of friends. necessarily is so with me, or next to solitary. I wish they did not resemble the latter in 'Tis true you write to me. But correspond- their scarceness.
"And how does little David Hartley ? a man, whose friend has asked him his ' Ecquid in antiquam virtutem ?' Does his opinion of a certain young lady-the deluded mighty name work wonders yet upon his wight gives judgment against her in totolittle frame and opening mind? I did not don't like her face, her walk, her manners ; distinctly understand you—you don't mean finds fault with her eyebrows ; can see no to make an actual ploughman of him? Is wit in her ; his friend looks blank, he begins Lloyd with you yet? Are you intimate with to smell a rat — wind veers about-he Southey? What poems is he about to publish? acknowledges her good sense, her judgment -he hath a most prolific brain, and is indeed in dress, a certain simplicity of manners and a most sweet poet. But how can you answer honesty of heart, something too in her all the various mass of interrogation I have manners which gains upon you after a short put to you in the course of the sheet ? Write acquaintance, and then her accurate proback just what you like, only write some- nunciation of the French language, and a thing, however brief. I have now nigh pretty uncultivated taste in drawing. The
finished my page, and got to the end of reconciled gentleman smiles applause, ! another evening Monday evening), and my squeezes him by the hand, and hopes he
eyes are heavy and sleepy, and my brain will do him the honour of taking a bit of unsuggestive. I have just heart enough dinner with Mrs.
and him,-a plain awake to say good night once more, and God family dinner,--some day next week ; 'for, love you, my dear friend ; God love us all. I suppose, you never heard we were married. Mary bears an affectionate remembrance I'm glad to see you like my wife, however ;
you 'll come and see her, ha ?' Now am I “ CHARLES LAMB." too proud to retract entirely? Yet I do
perceive I am in some sort straitened; you A poem of Coleridge, emulous of Southey's are manifestly wedded to this poem, and “ Joan of Arc," which he proposed to call the what fancy has joined let no man separate. “Maid of Orleans," on which Lamb had I turn me to the Joan of Arc, second book. made some critical remarks, produced the
“The solemn openings of it are with sounds, humourous recantation with which the follow- which Ll. would say are silence to the mind.' ing letter opens.
The deep preluding strains are fitted to initiate the mind, with a pleasing awe, into
the sublimest mysteries of theory concerning
“Feb. 13th, 1797. man's nature, and his noblest destination“Your poem is altogether admirable- the philosophy of a first cause—of subordiparts of it are even exquisite-in particular nate agents in creation, superior to manyour personal account of the Maid far sur- the subserviency of Pagan worship and Pagan passes any thing of the sort in Southey. I faith to the introduction of a purer and more perceived all its excellences, on a first read- perfect religion, which you so elegantly ing, as readily as now you have been describe as winning, with gradual steps, her removing a supposed film from my eyes. I difficult way northward from Bethabra. After was only struck with certain faulty dispro- all this cometh Joan, a publican's daughter, portion, in the matter and the style, which I sitting on an ale-house bench, and marking still think I perceive, between these lines the swingings of the signboard, finding a poor and the former ones. I had an end in view, I man, his wife and six children, starved to wished to make you reject the poem, only as death with cold, and thence roused into a being discordant with the other, and, in sub- state of mind proper to receive visions, servience to that end, it was politically done emblematical of equality; which, what the in me to over-pass, and make no mention of devil Joan had to do with, I don't know, or, merit, which, could you think me capable of indeed, with the French and American revooverlooking, might reasonably damn for ever lutions, though that needs no pardon, it is in your judgment all pretensions, in me, to executed so nobly. After all, if you perceive be critical. There—I will be judged by no disproportion, all argument is vain : I do Lloyd, whether I have not made a very not so much object to parts. Again, when handsome recantation. I was in the case of you talk of building your fame on these lines
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
in preference to the Religious Musings,' I London porter confers. The versification is, cannot help conceiving of you, and of the throughout, to my ears unexceptionable, author of that, as two different persons, and with no disparagement to the measure of the I think you a very vain man.
Religious Musings,' which is exactly fitted “I have been re-reading your letter; much to the thoughts. of it I could dispute, but with the latter part “ You were building your house on a rock, of it, in which you compare the two Joans when you rested your fame on that poem. I with respect to their predispositions for can scarce bring myself to believe, that I am fanaticism, I, toto corde, coincide; only I admitted to a familiar correspondence, and think that Southey's strength rather lies in all the licence of friendship, with a man who the description of the emotions of the Maid writes blank verse like Milton. Now, this under the weight of inspiration,—these (I see is delicate flattery, indirect flattery. Go on no mighty difference between her describing with your 'Maid of Orleans,' and be content them or you describing them), these if you to be second to yourself. I shall become a only equal, the previous admirers of his convert to it, when 'tis finished. poem, as is natural, will prefer his,—if you “This afternoon I attend the funeral of my surpass, prejudice will scarcely allow it, and poor old aunt, who died on Thursday. I own I scarce think you will surpass, though your I am thankful that the good creature has specimen at the conclusion, I am in earnest, ended all her days of suffering and infirmity. I think very nigh equals them. And in an She was to me the cherisher of infancy,' and account of a fanatic or of a prophet, the one must fall on those occasions into reflecdescription of her emotions is expected to be tions, which it would be common-place to most highly finished. By the way, I spoke enumerate, concerning death, of chance and far too disparagingly of your lines, and, I am change, and fate in human life.' Good God, ashamed to say, purposely. I should like you who could have foreseen all this but four to specify or particularise ; the story of the months back! I had reckoned, in particular, * Tottering Eld,' of “his eventful years all on my aunt's living many years ; she was a come and gone,' is too general; why not very hearty old woman. But she was a mere make him a soldier, or some character, skeleton before she died, looked more like a however, in which he has been witness to corpse that had lain weeks in the grave, frequency of 'cruel wrong and strange than one fresh dead. "Truly the light is distress!' I think I should. When I sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes laughed at the 'miserable man crawling to behold the sun ; but let a man live many from beneath the coverture,' I wonder I days and rejoice in them all, yet let him did not perceive that it was a laugh of remember the days of darkness, for they horror-such as I have laughed at Dante's shall be many. Coleridge, why are we to picture of the famished Ugolino. Without live on after all the strength and beauty of falsehood, I perceive an hundred beauties in existence are gone, when all the life of life is your narrative. Yet I wonder you do not fled, as poor Burns expresses it ? Tell Lloyd perceive something out-of-the-way, something I have had thoughts of turning Quaker, and unsimple and artificial, in the expression have been reading, or am rather just beginvoiced a sad tale.' I hate made-dishes at ning to read, a most capital book, good the muses' banquet. I believe I was wrong thoughts in good language, William Penn's in most of my other objections. But surely No Cross, no Crown,' I like it immensely. 'hailed him immortal,' adds nothing to the Unluckily I went to one of his meetings, terror of the man's death, which it was your tell him, in St. John-street, yesterday, and business to heighten, not diminish by a saw a man under all the agitations and phrase, which takes away all terror from it. workings of a fanatic, who believed himself I like that line, ‘They closed their eyes in under the influence of some 'inevitable sleep, nor knew 'twas death. Indeed there presence.' This cured me of Quakerism ; is scarce a line I do not like. • Turbid I love it in the books of Penn and Woolman, ecstacy' is surely not so good as what you but I detest the vanity of a man thinking he had written, 'troublous.' Turbid rather speaks by the Spirit, when what he says an suits the muddy kind of inspiration which ordinary man might say without all that