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from the beginning. I hope (for Mary see, from the above awkward playfulness of I can answer)—but I hope that I shall fancy, that my spirits are not quite depressed. through life never have less recollection, nor I should ill deserve God's blessings, which, a fainter impression, of what has happened since the late terrible event, have come down than I have now. 'Tis not a light thing, nor in mercy upon us, if I indulged regret or meant by the Almighty to be received querulousness. Mary continues serene and lightly. I must be serious, circumspect, and cheerful. I have not by me a little letter deeply religious through life; and by such she wrote to me ; for, though I see her means may both of us escape madness in almost every day, yet we delight to write to future, if it so please the Almighty ! one another, for we can scarce see each other
“Send me word how it fares with Sara. but in company with some of the people of I repeat it, your letter was, and will be, an the house. I have not the letter by me, but inestimable treasure to me. You have a will quote from memory what she wrote in view of what my situation demands of it: 'I have no bad terrifying dreams. At me, like my own view, and I trust a just midnight, when I happen to awake, the nurse
sleeping by the side of me, with the noise of “ Coleridge, continue to write ; but do not the poor mad people around me, I have no for ever offend me by talking of sending me fear. The spirit of my mother seems to cash. Sincerely, and on my soul, we do not descend and smile upon me, and bid me live want it. God love you both.
to enjoy the life and reason which the “I will write again very soon. Do you Almighty has given me. I shall see her write directly."
again in heaven ; she will then understand me better. My grandmother, too, will
understand me better, and will then say no As Lamb recovered from the shock of his more, as she used to do, ‘Polly, what are own calamity, he found comfort in gently those poor crazy moythered brains of yours admonishing his friend on that imbecility of thinking of always?' Poor Mary! my purpose which attended the development of mother indeed never understood her right. his mighty genius. His next letter, com- She loved her, as she loved us all, with a mencing with this office of friendship, soon mother's love ; but in opinion, in feeling, reverts to the condition of that sufferer, who and sentiment, and disposition, bore so was endeared to him the more because others distant a resemblance to her daughter, that shrank from and forsook her.
she never understood her right; never could believe how much she loved her ; but met
her caresses, her protestations of filial “ October 17th, 1796. affection, too frequently with coldness and “My dearest Friend, I grieve from my repulse. Still she was a good mother. God very soul to observe you in your plans of forbid I should think of her but most respectlife, veering about from this hope to the fully, most affectionately. Yet she would other, and settling nowhere. Is it an un- always love my brother above Mary, who toward fatality (speaking humanly) that was not worthy of one-tenth of that affection does this for you—a stubborn, irresistible which Mary had a right to claim. But it is concurrence of events—or lies the fault, as my sister's gratifying recollection, that every I fear it does, in your own mind? You seem act of duty and of love she could pay, every to be taking up splendid schemes of fortune kindness, (and I speak true, when I say to only to lay them down again ; and your the hurting of her health, and most probably fortunes are an ignis fatuus that has been in great part to the derangement of her conducting you, in thought, from Lancaster- senses) through a long course of infirmities court, Strand, to somewhere near Matlock; and sickness, she could show her, she ever then jumping across to Dr. Somebody's, did. I will, some day, as I promised, enlarge whose son's tutor you were likely to be ; to you upon my sister's excellences ; 'twill and, would to God, the dancing demon may seem like exaggeration, but I will do it. At conduct you at last, in peace and comfort, to present, short letters suit my state of mind the 'life and labours of a cottager.' You best. So take my kindest wishes for your
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
TO MR, COLERIDGE.
comfort and establishment in life, and for Sara's welfare and comforts with you. God
TO MR. COLERIDGE. love you. God love us all.
“ December 2nd, 1796. “C. LAMB." “I have delayed writing thus long, not
having by me my copy of your poems, which
I had lent. I am not satisfied with all your Miss Lamb's gradual restoration to com- intended omissions. Why omit 40, 63, 84? fort, and her brother's earnest watchfulness above all, let me protest strongly against over it, are illustrated in the following frag- your rejecting the ‘Complaint of Ninathoma,' ment of a letter :
86. The words, I acknowledge, are Ossian's, but you have added to them the music of
Caril.' If a vicarious substitute be wanting,
“ October 28th, 1796. sacrifice (and 'twill be a piece of self-denial “I have satisfaction in being able to bid too), the ‘Epitaph on an Infant,' of which its you rejoice with me in my sister's continued author seems so proud, so tenacious. Or, if reason, and composedness of mind. Let us your heart be set on perpetuating the fourboth be thankful for it. I continue to visit line wonder, I'll tell you what do; sell the her very frequently, and the people of the copyright of it at once to a country statuary ; house are vastly indulgent to her; she is commence in this manner Death's prime likely to be as comfortably situated in all poet-laureate; and let your verses be adopted respects as those who pay twice or thrice in every village round, instead of those the sum. They love her, and she loves them, hitherto famous ones :and makes herself very useful to them.
• Afflictions sore long time I bore, Benevolence sets out on her journey with a
Physicians were in vain.'. good heart, and puts a good face on it, but is apt to limp and grow feeble, unless she “I have seen your last very beautiful poem calls in the aid of self-interest, by way of in the Monthly Magazine : write thus, and crutch. In Mary's case, as far as respects you most generally have written thus, and those she is with, 'tis well that these prin- I shall never quarrel with you about simpliciples are so likely to co-operate. I am city. With regard to my lines— rather at a loss sometimes for books for her,
' Laugh all that weep,' &c. -our reading is somewhat confined, and we have nearly exhausted our London library. I would willingly sacrifice them ; but my She has her hands too full of work to read portion of the volume is so ridiculously little, much, but a little she must read, for reading that, in honest truth, I can't spare them : as was her daily bread.”
things are, I have very slight pretensions to participate in the title-page. White's book
is at length reviewed in the Monthly ; was Two months, though passed by Lamb in it your doing, or Dyer's, to whom I sent anxiety and labour, but cheered by Miss him ?_or, rather, do you not write in the Lamb's continued possession of reason, so Critical ?—for I observed, in an article of far restored the tone of his mind, that his this month's, a line quoted out of that sonnet interest in the volume which had been con- on Mrs. Siddons, templated to introduce his first verses to the
. With eager wondering, and perturb'd delight.' world, in association with those of his friend, was enkindled anew. While cherishing the And a line from that sonnet would not readily hope of reunion with his sister, and painfully have occurred to a stranger. That sonnet, wresting his leisure hours from poetry and Coleridge, brings afresh to my mind the time Coleridge to amuse the dotage of his father, he watched over his own returning sense of
This epitaph, which, notwithstanding Lamb's gentle
banter, occupied an entire page in the book, is curiousenjoyment with a sort of holy jealousy, " a miracle instead of wit"-for it is a common-place apprehensive lest he should forget too soon of Coleridge, who, investing ordinary things with a the terrible visitation of Heaven. At this dreamy splendour, or weighing them down with accu
mulated thought, has rarely if ever written a stanza so time he thus writes :
smoothly vapid—50 devoid of merit or offence-(unless
when you wrote those on Bowles, Priestly, play with me, you might as well not come Burke ;—'twas two Christmases ago, and in home at all.' The argument was unanswerthat nice little smoky room at the Salutation, able, and I set to afresh. I told you I do which is ever now continually presenting not approve of your omissions, neither do itself to my recollection, with all its asso- I quite coincide with you in your arrangeciated train of pipes, tobacco, egg-hot, welsh- ments. I have not time to point out a better, rabbits, metaphysics, and poetry.-Are we and I suppose some self-associations of your never to meet again? How differently I am own have determined their place as they circumstanced now! I have never met with now stand. Your beginning, indeed, with any one-never shall meet with any one the 'Joan of Arc' lines I coincide entirely who could or can compensate me for the loss with. I love a splendid outsetma magnificent of your society. I have no one to talk all portico,—and the diapason is grand. When these matters about to; I lack friends, I I read the 'Religious Musings,' I think how lack books to supply their absence: but these poor, how unelevated, unoriginal, my blank complaints ill become me. Let me compare verse is— Laugh all that weep,' especially, my present situation, prospects, and state of where the subject demanded a grandeur of mind, with what they were but two months conception; and I ask what business they back-but two months! O my friend, I am have among yours ? but friendship covereth in danger of forgetting the awful lessons then a multitude of defects. I want some loppings presented to me! Remind me of them ; made in the 'Chatterton ;' it wants but a remind me of my duty! Talk seriously with little to make it rank among the finest me when you do write! I thank you, from irregular lyrics I ever read. Have you time my heart I thank you, for your solicitude and inclination to go to work upon it-or is about my sister. She is quite well, but must it too late-or do you think it needs none ? not, I fear, come to live with us yet a good Don't reject those verses in one of your while. In the first place, because, at present, Watchmen, “Dear native brook,' &c. ; nor I it would hurt her, and hurt my father, for think those last lines you sent me, in which them to be together : secondly, from a regard "all effortless' is without doubt to be preto the world's good report, for, I fear, tongues ferred to "inactive.' If I am writing more will be busy whenever that event takes place. than ordinarily dully, 'tis that I am stupified Some have hinted, one man has pressed it with a tooth-ache. Hang it! do not omit on me, that she should be in perpetual con- 48, 52, and 53: what you do retain, though, finement: what she hath done to deserve, call sonnets, for heaven's sake, and not or the necessity of such an hardship, I see effusions. Spite of your ingenious anticipanot; do you? I am starving at the India tion of ridicule in your preface, the five last House, - near seven o'clock without my lines of 50 are too good to be lost, the rest dinner, and so it has been, and will be, is not much worth. My tooth becomes almost all the week. I get home at night importunate-I must finish. Pray, pray, o'erwearied, quite faint, and then to cards write to me: if you knew with what an with my father, who will not let me enjoy anxiety of joy I open such a long packet as a meal in peace ; but I must conform to my you last sent me, you would not grudge situation, and I hope I am, for the most part, giving a few minutes now and then to this not unthankful.
intercourse (the only intercourse I fear we “I am got home at last, and, after repeated two shall ever have)—this conversation with games at cribbage, have got my father's your friend—such I boast to be called. God leave to write awhile ; with difficulty got it, love you and yours! Write me when you for when I expostulated about playing any move, lest I direct wrong. Has Sara no more, he very aptly replied, 'If you won't poems to publish ? Those lines, 129, are
probably too light for the volume where the it be an offence to make fade do duty as a verb active) Religious Musings' are, but I remember as the following :
some very beautiful lines, addressed by some“ Ere sin could blight or sorrow fade,
body at Bristol to somebody in London. Death came with friendly care ; The opening bud to Heaven convey'd,
God bless you once more. Thursday-night. And bade it blossom there."
In another letter, about this time (De- brotherly feeling that we ever met, even as cember, 1796), Lamb transmitted to Cole- the sober citizen, when his son went astray ridge two Poems for the volume-one upon the mountains of Parnassus, is said to copy of verses “ To a Young Lady going out have cursed wit and Poetry and Pope.' I to India,” which were not inserted, and are quote wrong, but no matter. These letters not worthy of preservation ; the other, en- I lent to a friend to be out of the way, for titled, “ The Tomb of Douglas,” which was a season, but I have claimed them in vain, inserted, and which he chiefly valued as a and shall not cease to regret their loss. Your memorial of his impression of Mrs. Siddons' packets, posterior to the date of my misforacting in Lady Randolph. The following tunes, commencing with that valuable consopassage closes the sheet.
latory epistle, are every day accumulating“At length I have done with verse- they are sacred things with me.” making ; not that I relish other people's poetry less; their's comes from 'em without effort, mine is the difficult operation of a The following long letter, bearing date on brain scanty of ideas, made more difficult by the outside, 5th January, 1797, is addressed to disuse. I have been reading "The Task' Mr. Coleridge at Stowey, near Bridgewater, with fresh delight. I am glad you love whither he had removed from Bristol, to Cowper: I could forgive a man for not en- enjoy the society and protection of his friend joying Milton, but I would not call that man Mr. Poole. The original is a curious specimy friend who should be offended with the men of clear compressed penmanship; being divine chit-chat of Cowper.' Write to me. contained in three sides of a sheet of foolsGod love you and yours.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
The following, of 10th December, 1796, Sunday morning.—You cannot surely illustrates Lamb's almost wayward admira- mean to degrade the Joan of Arc into a pottion of his only friend, and a feeling-how girl. You are not going, I hope, to annex temporary with him !-of vexation with the to that most splendid ornament of Southey's imperfect sympathies of his elder brother.
poem all this cock-and-a-bull story of Joan, the publican's daughter of Neufchatel, with
the lamentable episode of a waggoner, his “You sent me some very sweet lines rela- wife, and six children. The texture will be tive to Burns, but it was at a time when in most lamentably disproportionate. The first my highly agitated and perhaps distorted forty or fifty lines of these addenda aré, no state of mind, I thought it a duty to read 'em doubt, in their way, admirable, too; but hastily and burn 'em. I burned all my own many would prefer the Joan of Southey. verses; all my book of extracts from Beau
. On mightiest deeds to brood mont and Fletcher and a thousand sources :
of shadowy vastness, such as made my heart I burned a little journal of my foolish pas Throb fast; anon I paused, and in a state
Of half expectance listened to the wind;' sion which I had a long time kept
• They wondered at me, who had known me once Noting ere they past away
A cheerful careless damsel ;'
That of the circling throng and of the visible I almost burned all your letters, I did as bad, I lent'em to a friend to keepout of my brother's Unseeing, saw the shapes of holy phantasy ;' sight, should he come and make inquisition into our papers, for much as he dwelt upon equal to these. There is a fine originality
I see nothing in your description of the Maid your conversation, while you were among us,
certainly in those linesand delighted to be with you, it has been his fashion ever since to depreciate and cry you . For she had lived in this bad world down,-you were the cause of my madness
As in a place of tombs,
And touched not the pollutions of the dead;' you and your
damned foolish sensibility and melancholy—and he lamented with a true but your 'fierce vivacity' is a faint copy of
· The eye,
• There were
the "fierce and terrible benevolence' of the wounds I may have been inflicting on Southey ; added to this, that it will look like my poor friend's vanity. rivalship in you, and extort a comparison “In your notice of Southey's new volume with Southey,—I think to your disadvantage. you omit to mention the most pleasing of all, And the lines, considered in themselves as an the ‘Miniature'. addition to what you had before written, (strains of a far higher mood,) are but such
Who formed high hopes and flattering ones of thee,
Young Robert!' as Madame Fancy loves in some of her more familiar moods, at such times as she has met * Spirit of Spenser !--was the wanderer wrong?' Noll Goldsmith, and walked and talked with him, calling him 'old acquaintance.' Southey
“Fairfax I have been in quest of a long certainly has no pretensions to vie with you time. Johnson, in his · Life of Waller,' gives in the sublime of poetry; but he tells a plain a most delicious specimen of him, and adds, tale better than you. I will enumerate some
in the true manner of that delicate critic, as
well as amiable man, "It woful blemishes, some of 'em sad deviations
be presumed from that simplicity which was your aim. that this old version will not be much read 'Hailed who might be near' (the “canvas
after the elegant translation of my friend, coverture moving,' by the by, is laughable) ;
Mr. Hoole.' I endeavoured—I wished to 'a woman and six children’ (by the way, gain some idea of Tasso from this Mr. Hoole, why not nine children? It would have been the great boast and ornament of the India just half as pathetic again): 'statues of sleep House, but soon desisted. I found him more
beer 'sunthey seemed': 'frost-mangled wretch: vapid than smallest small 'green putridity': 'hailed him immortal vinegared.' Your Dream,' down to that (rather ludicrous again): "voiced a sad and exquisite linesimple tale' (abominable !): 'improvendered':
• I can't tell half his adventures,' such his tale': 'Ah ! suffering to the height of what was suffered' (a most insufferable is a most happy resemblance of Chaucer. line): amazements of affright': 'the hot The remainder is so so. The best line, I sore brain attributes its own hues of ghastli- think, is, 'He belong'd, I believe, to the witch ness and torture' (what shocking confusion Melancholy.' By the way, when will our of ideas) !
volume come out ? Don't delay it till you "In these delineations of common and have written a new Joan of Arc. Send natural feelings, in the familiar walks of what letters you please by me, and in any poetry, you seem to resemble Montauban way you choose, single or double. The India dancing with Roubigné's tenants, much of Company is better adapted to answer the his native loftiness remained in the execution.' cost than the generality of my friend's cor
"I was reading your Religious Musings ' respondents—such poor and honest dogs as the other day, and sincerely I think it the John Thelwall, particularly. I cannot say I noblest poem in the language, next after the know Colson, at least intimately ; I once · Paradise Lost,' and even that was not made supped with him and Allen ; I think his the vehicle of such grand truths. There is manners very pleasing. I will not tell you one mind,' &c., down to ‘Almighty's throne,' what I think of Lloyd, for he may by chance are without a rival in the whole compass of come to see this letter, and that thought my poetical reading.
puts a restraint on me. I cannot think what
subject would suit your epic genius; some Stands in the sun, and with no partial gaze,
philosophical subject, I conjecture, in which
shall be blended the sublime of poetry and I wish I could have written those lines. I of science. Your proposed ‘Hymns' will be rejoice that I am able to relish them. The a fit preparatory study wherewith “to disloftier walks of Pindus are your proper cipline your young noviciate soul.' I grow region. There you have no compeer in dull; I'll go walk myself out of my modern times. Leave the lowlands, unenvied, dulness. in possession of such men as Cowper and Sunday night.—You and Sara are very Southey. Thus am I pouring balsain into good to think so kindly and so favourably of
Views all creation.'