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the Editorship of the Morning Chronicle. Islington, possibly, you would not like; to The poem includes a lamentation over a me 'tis classical ground. Knightsbridge is a fantastical loss—that of a draught of the desirable situation for the air of the parks ; Avon “which Shakespeare drank ;” some- St. George's Fields is convenient for its conwhat strangely confounding the Avon of tiguity to the Bench. Choose! But are you Stratford with that of Bristol. It may be really coming to town? The hope of it has doubted whether Shakespeare knew the entirely disarmed my petty disappointment taste of the waves of one Avon more than of of its nettles, yet I rejoice so much on ny the other, or whether Lamb would not have own account, that I fear I do not feel enough found more kindred with the world's poet pure satisfaction on yours. Why, surely, the in a glass of sack, than in the water of either joint editorship of the Chronicle must be stream. Coleridge must have enjoyed the very comfortable and secure living for a man. misplaced sentiment of his friend, for he was But should not you read French, or do you ? singularly destitute of sympathy with local and can you write with sufficient moderation, associations, which he regarded as interfering as 'tis called, when one suppresses the one with the pure and simple impression of great half of what one feels or could say on a subdeeds or thoughts; denied a special interest ject, to chime in the better with popular to the Pass of Thermopylæ : and instead of lukewarmness? White's 'Letters' are near subscribing to purchase “Shakespeare's publication ; could you review 'em or get 'em House,” would scarcely have admitted the reviewed? Are you not connected with the peculiar sanctity of the spot which enshrines Critical Review ? His frontispiece is a good his ashes,
conceit-Sir John learning to dance to please
Madam Page, in dress of doublet, &c., from TO SARA AND HER SAMUEL.
the upper half, and modern pantaloons with
shoes, &c., of the eighteenth century, from the “ Was it so hard a thing ?-I did but ask A fleeting holiday. One little week,
lower half; and the whole work is full of Or haply two, had bounded my request.
goodly quips and rare fancies, all deftly
masqued like hoar antiquity'-much supeWhat, if the jaded steer, who all day long Had borne the heat and labour of the plough,
rior to Dr. Kenrick’s ‘Falstaff's Wedding,' When evening came, and her sweet cooling hour, which you have seen. A-sometimes Should seek to trespass on a neighbour copse, Where greener herbage waved, or clearer streams
laughs at superstition, and religion, and the Invited him to slake his burning thirst?
like. A living fell vacant lately in the gift That man were crabbed, who should say him nay ;
of the Hospital : White informed him that That man were churlish, who should drive him
he stood a fair chance for it. He scrupled A blessing light upon your heads, ye good, and scrupled about it, and at last, to use his Ye hospitable pair! I may not come, To catch on Clifden's heights the summer gale ;
own words, tampered' with Godwin to I may not come, a pilgrim, to the banks
know whether the thing was honest or not. Of Avon, lucid stream, to taste the wave
Godwin said nay to it, and A- rejected Which Shakespeare drank, our British Helicon : Or with mine eye intent on Redcliffe towers,
the living! Could the blindest poor papist To muse in tears on that mysterious youth, have bowed more servilely to his priest or Cruelly slighted, who to London walls, In evil hour, shaped his disastrous course.
casuist ? Why sleep the Watchman's an
swers to that Godwin ? I beg you will not Complaint begone; begone, unkind reproof:
delay to alter, if you mean to keep those last Take up, my song, take up a merrier strain, For yet again, and lo! from Avon's vales
lines I sent you. Do that and read these for Another "minstrel'cometh ! Youth endear'd, God and good angels guide thee on thy way,
your pains : And gentler fortunes wait the friends I love.
TO THE POET COWPER. “ Cowper, I thank my God that thou art heal'd!
Thine was the sorest malady of all ; The letter accompanying these verses
And I am sad to think that it should light
Upon the worthy head! But thou art heal'd, begins cheerfully thus:
And thou art yet, we trust, the destined man,
Born to reanimate the lyre, whose chords “ What can I do till you send word what
Have slumber'd, and have idle lain so long;
To the immortal sounding of whose strings priced and placed house you should like ? Did Milton frame the stately-paced verse;
Among whose wires with light finger playing, would not save you in a court of justice.
But are you really coming to town? ColeElicited the deftest tunes yet heard
ridge, a gentleman called in London lately In hall or bower, taking the delicate ear
from Bristol, and inquired whether there of Sidney and his peerless Maiden Queen.
were any of the family of a Mr. Chambers Thou, then, take up the mighty epic strain, living : this Mr. Chambers, he said, had been Cowper, of England's Bards, the wisest and the best.
the making of a friend's fortune, who wished
to make some return for it. He went away 1796.
without seeing her. Now, a Mrs. Reynolds, “ I have read your climax of praises in a very intimate friend of ours, whom you those three Reviews. These mighty spouters
have seen at our house, is the only daughter, out of panegyric waters have, two of 'em, and all that survives, of Mr. Chambers; and scattered their spray even upon me, and the
a very little supply would be of service to waters are cooling and refreshing. Prosaically, has parted with her husband. Pray find out
her, for she married very unfortunately, and the Monthly reviewers have made indeed a large article of it, and done you justice. The this Mr. Pember (for that was the gentleman's Critical have, in their wisdom, selected not
friend's name); he is an attorney, and lives the very best specimens, and notice not,
at Bristol. Find him out, and acquaint him except as one name on the muster-roll, the with the circumstances of the case, and offer Religious Musings.' I suspect Master Dyer
to be the medium of supply to Mrs. Reynolds, to have been the writer of that article, as the if he chooses to make her a present. She is
in substance of it was the very remarks and
very distressed circumstances. Mr.Pember, the very language he used to me one day. I
attorney, Bristol. Mr. Chambers lived in fear you will not accord entirely with
the Temple ; Mrs. Reynolds, his daughter,
my sentiments of Cowper, as expressed above was my schoolmistress, and is in the room at (perhaps scarcely just); but the poor gentle induced me to write so soon again. I have
this present writing. This last circumstance man has just recovered from his lunacies, and that begets pity, and pity love, and love not further to add. Our loves to Sara. admiration ; and then it goes hard with
C. LAMB.” people but they lie! Have you read the Ballad called "Leonora,' in the second number of the Monthly Magazine ! If you have !!!! There is another fine song, from the same author (Bürger), in the third number, of scarce inferior merit ; and (vastly below
CHAPTER II. these) there are some happy specimens of LETTERS OF LAMB TO COLERIDGE, CHIEFLY RELATING TO English hexameters, in an imitation of Ossian, in the fifth number. For your Dactyls—I am sorry you are so sore about 'em-a very
The autumn of 1796 found Lamb engaged Sir Fretful! In good troth, the Dactyls are all the morning in task-work at the India good Dactyls, but their measure is naught. House, and all the evening in attempting to Be not yourself" half anger, half agony,' if I amuse his father by playing cribbage ; somepronounce your darling lines not to be the times snatching a few minutes for his only best you ever wrote in all your life—you have pleasure, writing to Coleridge ; while Miss written much.
Lamb was worn down to a state of extreme “ Have a care, good Master Poet, of the nervous misery, by attention to needlework Statute de Contumeliâ. What do you mean by day, and to her mother by night, until the by calling Madame Mara, - harlot and insanity, which had been manifested more naughty things ?* The goodness of the verse
than once, broke out into frenzy, which, on
Thursday, 22nd of September, proved fatal “I detest
to her mother. The following account of the These scented rooms, where, to a gaudy throng, proceedings on the inquest, copied from the Heaves the proud harlot her distended breast In intricacies of laborious song."
“Times” of Monday, 26th September, 1796, Lines composed in a Concert Room, by S. T.C. supplies the details of this terrible calamity,
THE DEATH OF MRS. LAMB, AND MISS LAMB'S SUBSE-
doubtless with accuracy, except that it would only give you the outlines :-My poor dear, seem, from Lamb's ensuing letter to Coleridge, dearest sister, in a fit of insanity, has been that he, and not the landlord, took the knife the death of her own mother. I was at from the unconscious hand.
hand only time enough to snatch the knife “On Friday afternoon, the coroner and a out of her grasp. She is at present in a jury sat on the body of a lady in the neigh- madhouse, from whence I fear she must be bourhood of Holborn, who died in consequence moved to an hospital. God has preserved to of a wound from her daughter the preceding me my senses, I eat, and drink, and sleep, day. It appeared, by the evidence adduced, and have my judgment, I believe, very that, while the family were preparing for sound. My poor father was slightly wounded dinner, the young lady seized a case-knife and I am left to take care of him and my lying on the table, and in a menacing manner aunt. Mr. Norris, of the Blue-coat School, pursued a little girl, her apprentice, round has been very very kind to us, and we have the room. On the calls of her infirm mother no other friend; but, thank God, I am very to forbear, she renounced her first object, calm and composed, and able to do the best and, with loud shrieks, approached her that remains to do. Write as religious a parent. The child, by her cries, quickly letter as possible, but no mention of what is brought up the landlord of the house, but gone and done with. With me “the former too late. The dreadful scene presented to things are passed away,' and I have somehim the mother lifeless, pierced to the heart, thing more to do than to feel. on a chair, her daughter yet wildly standing “God Almighty have us well in his keepover her with the fatal knife, and the old ing.
C. LAMB." man, her father, weeping by her side, himself bleeding at the forehead from the effects of a “Mention nothing of poetry.
I have severe blow he received from one of the destroyed every vestige of past vanities of forks she had been madly hurling about the that kind. Do as you please, but if you room,
publish, publish mine (I give free leave) “For a few days prior to this, the family without name or initial, and never send me had observed some symptoms of insanity in a book, I charge you. her, which had so much increased on the “Your own judgment will convince you Wednesday evening, that her brother, early not to take any notice of this yet to your the next morning, went to Dr. Pitcairn, but dear wife. You look after your family,–I that gentleman was not at home.
have my reason and strength left to take “It seems the young lady had been once care of mine. I charge you, don't think of before deranged.
coming to see me. Write. I will not see “The jury, of course, brought in their you if you come. God Almighty love you verdict-Lunacy.”
and all of us.
The following is Lamb's account of the After the inquest, Miss Lamb was placed event to Coleridge:
in an Asylum, where she was, in a short
time, restored to reason. The following is “ September 27th, 1796. Lamb's next letter :“My dearest Friend,—White, or some of my friends, or the public papers, by this time
TO MR. COLERIDGE. may have informed you of the terrible cala
“ October 3rd, 1796. mities that have fallen on our family. I will “My dearest Friend, Your letter was an
inestimable treasure to me. It will be a * A statement nearly similar to this will be found in several other journals of the day, and in the Annual for it by day and by night, caused her loss of reason at Register for the year. The “ True Briton” adds :"It this time. It has been stated in some of the morning appears she had been before, in the earlier part of her papers that she has an insane brother in confinement; life, deranged, from the harassing fatigues of too much but this is without foundation." None of the accounts business. As her carriage towards her mother had give the names of the sufferers; but in the index to the always been affectionate in the extreme, it is believed Annual Register, the anonymous account is referred to her increased attachment to her, as her infirmities called with Mrs. Lamb's name.
comfort to you, I know, to know that our little incident may serve to make you underprospects are somewhat brighter. My poor stand my way of managing my mind. Within dear, dearest sister, the unhappy and un- a day or two after the fatal one, we dressed conscious instrument of the Almighty's judg- for dinner a tongue which we had had salted ments on our house, is restored to her senses; for some weeks in the house. As I sat down, to a dreadful sense and recollection of what a feeling like remorse struck me; - this has past, awful to her mind and impressive tongue poor Mary got for me, and can I
par(as it must be to the end of life), but tem- take of it now, when she is far away? A pered with religious resignation and the thought occurred and relieved me,-if I give reasonings of a sound judgment, which, in in to this way of feeling, there is not a chair, this early stage, knows how to distinguish a room, an object in our rooms, that will not between a deed committed in a transient fit awaken the keenest griefs ; I must rise above of frenzy, and the terrible guilt of a mother's such weaknesses. I hope this was not want murder. I have seen her. I found her, this of true feeling. I did not let this carry me, morning, calm and serene ; far, very very though, too far. On the very second day, far from an indecent forgetful serenity; she (I date from the day of horrors,) as is usual has a most affectionate and tender concern in such cases, there were a matter of twenty for what has happened. Indeed, from the people, I do think, supping in our room ; beginning, frightful and hopeless as her dis- they prevailed on me to eat with them (for order seemed, I had confidence enough in her to eat I never refused). They were all making strength of mind and religious principle, to merry in the room! Some had come from look forward to a time when even she might friendship, some from busy curiosity, and recover tranquillity. God be praised, Cole- some from interest; I was going to partake ridge, wonderful as it is to tell, I have never with them ; when my recollection came that once been otherwise than collected and calm; my poor dead mother was lying in the next even on the dreadful day, and in the midst room—the very next room ;-a mother who, of the terrible scene, I preserved a tranquil- through life, wished nothing but her children's lity which bystanders may have construed welfare. Indignation, the rage of grief, someinto indifference a tranquillity not of thing like remorse, rushed upon my mind. despair. Is it folly or sin in me to say that In an agony of emotion I found my way it was a religious principle that most sup- mechanically to the adjoining room, and fell ported me? I allow much to other favour- on my knees by the side of her coffin, asking able circumstances. I felt that I had some- forgiveness of heaven, and sometimes of her, thing else to do than to regret. On that first for forgetting her so Tranquillity evening, my aunt was lying insensible, to all returned, and it was the only violent emotion appearance like one dying,—my father, with that mastered me, and I think it did me his poor forehead plaistered over, from a good. wound he had received from a daughter “I mention these things because I hate dearly loved by him, and who loved him no concealment, and love to give a faithful less dearly,,my mother a dead and murdered journal of what passes within me. Our corpse in the next room—yet was I wonder- friends have been very good. Sam Le Grice, fully supported. I closed not my eyes in who was then in town, was with me the three sleep that night, but lay without terrors and or four first days, and was as a brother to without despair. I have lost no sleep since. me, gave up every hour of his time, to the I had been long used not to rest in things of very hurting of his health and spirits, in consense,—had endeavoured after a comprehen- stant attendance and humouring my poor sion of mind, unsatisfied with the 'ignorant father ; talked with him, read to him, played present time, and this kept me up. I had at cribbage with him (for so short is the old the whole weight of the family thrown on man's recollection, that he was playing at me ; for my brother, little disposed (I speak cards, as though nothing had happened, not without tenderness for him) at any time while the coroner's inquest was sitting over to take care of old age and infirmities, had the way!) Samuel wept tenderly when he now, with his bad leg, an exemption from went away, for his mother wrote him a very such duties, and I was now left alone. One severe letter on his loitering so long in town,
and he was forced to go. Mr. Norris, of -he has taken his ease in the world, and is Christ's Hospital, has been as a father to me not fit himself to struggle with difficulties, -Mrs. Norris as a mother; though we had nor has much accustomed himself to throw few claims on them. A gentleman, brother himself into their way; and I know his to my godmother, from whom we never had language is already, 'Charles, you must take right or reason to expect any such assist- care of yourself, you must not abridge yourance, sent my father twenty pounds; and to self of a single pleasure you have been used crown all these God's blessings to our family to,' &c. &c., and in that style of talking. But at such a time, an old lady, a cousin of my you, a necessarian, can respect a difference of father and aunt's, a gentlewoman of fortune, mind, and love what is amiable in a character is to take my aunt and make her comfortable not perfect. He has been very good,—but I for the short remainder of her days. My fear for his mind. Thank God, I can unconaunt is recovered, and as well as ever, and nect myself with him, and shall manage all highly pleased at thoughts of going—and has my father's moneys in future myself, if I take generously given up the interest of her little charge of Daddy, which poor John has not money (which was formerly paid my father even hinted a wish, at any future time even, for her board) wholely and solely to my to share with me. The lady at this madhouse sister's use. Reckoning this, we have, Daddy assures me that I may dismiss immediately and I, for our two selves and an old maid- both doctor and apothecary, retaining occaservant to look after him, when I am out, sionally a composing draught or so for a which will be necessary, 1701. or 1801. rather while ; and there is a less expensive estaa-year, out of which we can spare 501. or 601. blishment in her house, where she will only at least for Mary while she stays at Islington, not have a room and nurse to herself, for 501. where she must and shall stay during her or guineas a-year—the outside would be 601. father's life, for his and her comfort. I know —you know, by economy, how much more John will make speeches about it, but she even I shall be able to spare for her comforts. shall not go into an hospital. The good lady She will, I fancy, if she stays, make one of of the madhouse, and her daughter, an elegant, the family, rather than of the patients; and sweet-behaved young lady, love her, and are the old and young ladies I like exceedingly, taken with her amazingly ; and I know from and she loves dearly; and they, as the saying her own mouth she loves them, and longs to is, take to her very extraordinarily, if it is be with them as much. Poor thing, they extraordinary that people who see my sister say she was but the other morning saying, should love her. Of all the people I ever she knew she must go to Bethlem for life ; saw in the world, my poor sister was most that one of her brothers would have it so, but and thoroughly devoid of the least tincture the other would wish it not, but be obliged of selfishness. I will enlarge upon her to go with the stream ; that she had often as qualities, poor dear, dearest soul, in a future she passed Bethlem thought it likely, “here letter, for my own comfort, for I understand it may
my fate to end my days,' conscious her thoroughly; and, if I mistake not, in of a certain flightiness in her poor head the most trying situation that a human being oftentimes, and mindful of more than one
can be found in, she will be found (I speak severe illness of that nature before. A not with sufficient humility, I fear, but legacy of 1001., which my father will have humanly and foolishly speaking), she will be at Christmas, and this 201. I mentioned found, I trust, uniformly great and amiable. before, with what is in the house, will much God keep her in her present mind, to whom more than set us clear. If my father, an old be thanks and praise for all His dispensations servant-maid, and I, can't live, and live com- to mankind !
C. LAMB." fortably, on 1301. or 1201. a-year, we ought to burn by slow fires; and I almost would,
“These mentioned good fortunes and that Mary might not go into an hospital. change of prospects had almost brought my Let me not leave one unfavourable impres- mind over to the extreme, the very opposite sion on your mind respecting my brother. to despair. I was in danger of making mySince this has happened, he has been very self too happy. Your letter brought me back kind and brotherly ; but I fear for his mind, to a view of things which I had entertained