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The Doctor, in his pursuits, joins agricultural calculate the precise date of his death, I would to poetical science, and has set George's write a novel on purpose to make George the brains mad about the old Scotch writers, hero. I could hit him off to a hair. * George Barbour, Douglas's Æneid, Blind Harry, &c. brought a Dr. A - to see me. The Doctor We returned home in a return postchaise is a very pleasant old man, a great genius for (having dined with the Doctor), and George agriculture, one that ties his breeches-knees kept wondering and wondering, for eight or with packthread, and boasts of having had nine turnpike miles, what was the name, and disappointments from ministers. The Doctor striving to recollect the name of a poet an- happened to mention an epic poem by one terior to Barbour. ' I begged to know what Wilkie, called the 'Epigoniad,' in which he was remaining of his works. “There is no- assured us there is not one tolerable line from thing extant of his works, Sir, but by all beginning to end, but all the characters, accounts he seems to have been a fine incidents, &c., verbally copied from Homer. genius !' This fine genius, without anything George, who had been sitting quite inattento show for it, or any title beyond George's tive to the Doctor's criticism, no sooner heard courtesy, without even a name ; and Barbour, the sound of Homer strike his pericranicks, and Douglas, and Blind Harry, now are the than up he gets, and declares he must see predominant sounds in George's pia mater, that poem immediately: where was it to be and their buzzings exclude politics, criticism, had ? An epic poem of 8000 lines, and he and algebra—the late lords of that illustrious not hear of it! There must be some things lumber-room. Mark, he has never read any good in it, and it was necessary he should of these bucks, but is impatient till he reads see it, for he had touched pretty deeply upon them all at the Doctor's suggestion. Poor that subject in his criticisms on the Epic. Dyer ! his friends should be careful what George has touched pretty deeply upon the sparks they let fall into such inflammable Lyric, I find; he has also prepared a dissermatter.
tation on the Drama and the comparison of “ Could I have my will of the heathen, I the English and German theatres. As I would lock him up from all access of new rather doubted his competency to do the ideas; I would exclude all critics that would latter, knowing that his peculiar turn lies in not swear me first (upon their Virgil) that the lyric species of composition, I questioned they would feed him with nothing but the George what English plays he had read. I old, safe, familiar notions and sounds (the found that he had read Shakspeare (whom rightful aborigines of his brain) - Gray, he calls an original, but irregular, genius); Akenside, and Mason. In these sounds, but it was a good while ago; and he has reiterated as often as possible, there could dipped into Rowe and Otway, I suppose be nothing painful, nothing distracting. having found their names in 'Johnson's
“ God bless me, here are the birds, smoking Lives’ at full length ; and upon this slender hot !
ground he has undertaken the task. He “ All that is gross and unspiritual in me never seemed even to have heard of Fletcher, rises at the sight!
Ford, Marlowe, Massinger, and the worthies “ Avaunt friendship, and all memory of of Dodsley's Collection ; but he is to read all absent friends!
C. LAMB." these, to prepare him for bringing out his
'Parallel' in the winter. I find he is also determined to vindicate Poetry from the
shackles which Aristotle and some others In the following letter, the exciting sub- have iniposed upon it, which is very goodjects of Dr. A and Dyer are further natured of him, and very necessary just played on :
now ! Now I am touching so deeply
upon poetry, can I forget that I have just “ August 26th, 1800. George Dyer is the only literary cha • This passage, thus far, is printed in the former racter I am happily acquainted with ; the volumes ; the remainder was then suppressed (with other oftener I see him, the more deeply I admire passages, now for the first time published) relating to
Mr. Dyer, lest they should give pain to that excellent him. He is goodness itself. If I could but person then living.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
received from D— a magnificent copy of on purpose to borrow one, supposing, rationhis Guinea Epic. Four-and-twenty Books to ally enough, I must say, that you had made read in the dog-days! I got as far as the me a present of one before this ; the omission Mad Monk the first day, and fainted. Mr. of which I take to have proceeded only from D-'s genius strongly points him to the negligence ; but it is a fault. I could lend Pastoral, but his inclinations divert him him no assistance. You must know he is perpetually from his calling. He imitates just now diverted from the pursuit of the Southey, as Rowe did Shakspeare, with his BELL LETTERS by a paradox, which he has
'Good morrow to ye ; good master Lieu- heard his friend Frend,* (that learned ma| tenant.' Instead of a man, a woman, a thematician) maintain, that the negative į daughter, he constantly writes one a man, quantities of mathematicians were
one a woman, one his daughter. Instead of nugæ, things scarcely in rerum naturâ, and | the king, the hero, he constantly writes, he smacking too much of mystery for gentlemen
the king, he the hero ; two flowers of rhetoric, of Mr. Frend's clear Unitarian capacity. palpably from the ‘Joan.' But Mr. D— However, the dispute once set a-going, has soars a higher pitch : and when he is original, seized violently on George's pericranick; it is in a most original way indeed. His and it is necessary for his health that he terrific scenes are indefatigable. Serpents, should speedily come to a resolution of his asps, spiders, ghosts, dead bodies, staircases doubts. He goes about teasing his friends made of nothing, with adders' tongues for with his new mathematics; he even franbannisters—Good Heaven ! what a brain he tically talks of purchasing Manning's Algebra, must have. He puts as many plums in his which shows him far gone, for, to my knowpudding as my grandmother used to do ;- ledge, he has not been master of seven and then his emerging from Hell's horrors shillings a good time. George's pockets and into light, and treading on pure flats of this 's brains are two things in nature which earth-for twenty-three Books together! do not abhor a vacuum. ... Now, if you
“ C. L." could step in, in this trembling suspense of
his reason, and he should find on Saturday
morning, lying for him at the Porter's Lodge, The following letter, obviously written Clifford's Inn,—his safest address-Manabout the same time, pursues the same ning's Algebra, with a neat manuscription theme. There is some irritation in it; but in the blank leaf, running thus, 'FROM THE even that is curious enough to prevent the AUTHOR !' it might save his wits and excision of the reproduced passages :- restore the unhappy author to those studies
of poetry and criticism, which are at present TO MR. MANNING.
suspended, to the infinite regret of the whole
literary world. N.B.—Dirty books, smeared “Dear Manning, I am going to ask a leaves, and dogs' ears, will be rather a favour of you, and am at a loss how to do it in recommendation than otherwise. N.B.—He the most delicate manner. For this purpose must have the book as soon as possible, or I have been looking into Pliny's Letters, nothing can withhold him from madly purwho is noted to have had the best grace in chasing the book on tick. ... Then shall begging of all the ancients (I read him in the we see him sweetly restored to the chair of elegant translation of Mr. Melmoth), but Longinus—to dictate in smooth and modest not finding any case there exactly similar phrase the laws of verse ; to prove that with mine, I am constrained to beg in my Theocritus first introduced the Pastoral, and own barbarian way. To come to the point Virgil and Pope brought it to its perfection ; then, and hasten into the middle of things; that Gray and Mason (who always hunt in have you a copy of your Algebra to give couples in George's brain) have shown a away? I do not ask it for myself ; I have too much reverence for the Black Arts, ever Mr. Frend, many years the Actuary of the Rock to approach thy circle, illustrious Trismegist! Insurance Office, in early life the champion of Unitarian
ism at Cambridge; the object of a great University's But that worthy man, and excellent Poet, displeasure ; in short, the village Hampden ” of the George Dyer, made me a visit yesternight, day.
great deal of poetical fire in their lyric also ! We take tea with that learned poet poetry; that Aristotle's rules are not to be and critic on Tuesday night, at half-past five, servilely followed, which George has shown in his neat library; the repast will be light to have imposed great shackles upon modern and Attic, with criticism. If thou couldst genius. His poems, I find, are to consist of contrive to wheel up thy dear carcase on two vols.-reasonable octavo ; and a third the Monday, and after dining with us on book will exclusively contain criticisms, in tripe, calves' kidneys, or whatever else the which he asserts he has gone pretty deeply Cornucopia of St. Clare may be willing to into the laws of blank verse and rhyme, pour gut on the occasion, might we not epic poetry, dramatic and pastoral ditto - adjourn together to the Heathen's—thou with all which is to come out before Christmas. thy Black Backs, and I with some innocent But above all he has touched most deeply upon volume of the Bell Letters, Shenstone or the the Drama, comparing the English with the like: it would make him wash his old flannel modern German stage, their merits and gown (that has not been washed to my defects. Apprehending that his studies (not knowledge since it has been his-Oh the long to mention his turn, which I take to be time !) with tears of joy. Thou shouldst chiefly towards the lyrical poetry) hardly settle his scruples and unravel his cobwebs, qualified him for these disquisitions, I and sponge off the sad stuff that weighs upon modestly inquired what plays he had read ? his dear wounded pia mater; thou shouldst I found by George's reply that he had read restore light to his eyes, and him to his Shakspeare, but that was a good while friends and the public ; Parnassus should since: he calls him a great but irregular shower her civic crowns upon thee for saving genius, which I think to be an original the wits of a citizen! I thought I saw a and just remark. (Beaumont and Fletcher, lucid interval in George the other night, Massinger, Ben Jonson, Shirley, Marlowe, he broke in upon my studies just at tea-time, Ford, and the worthies of Dodsley's Collec- and brought with him Dr. A-, an old tion—he confessed he had read none of them, gentleman who ties his breeches' knees with but professed his intention of looking through packthread, and boasts that he has been them all, so as to be able to touch upon them disappointed by ministers. The Doctor in his book.) So Shakspeare, Otway, and I wanted to see me; for I being a Poet, he believe Rowe, to whom he was naturally thought I might furnish him with a copy of directed by Johnson's Lives, and these not verses to suit his Agricultural Magazine. read lately, are to stand him in stead of a The Doctor, in the course of the conversation, general knowledge of the subject. God mentioned a poem called the ‘Epigoniad bless his dear absurd head !
by one Wilkie, an epic poem, in which there " By the by, did I not write you a letter is not one tolerable good line all through, with something about an invitation in it ? but every incident and speech borrowed from
— but let that pass; I suppose it is not Homer. George had been sitting inattentive, agreeable.
seemingly, to what was going on-hatching “ N.B. It would not be amiss if you were of negative quantities—when, suddenly, the to accompany your present with a dissertation name of his old friend, Homer, stung his on negative quantities.
C. L." pericranicks, and, jumping up, he begged to
know where he could meet with Wilkie's
works. “It was a curious fact that there The “ Algebra” arrived ; and Lamb wrote should be such an epic poem and he not know the following invitation, in hope to bring the of it; and he must get a copy of it, as he was author and the presentee together.
going to touch pretty deeply upon the subject of the Epic—and he was sure there must be some things good in a poem of 8000 lines !'
I was pleased with this transient return of “George Dyer is an Archimedes, and an his reason and recurrence to his old ways of Archimagus, and a Tycho Brahé, and a thinking: it gave me great hopes of a Copernicus; and thou art the darling of the recovery, which nothing but your book can Nine, and midwife to their wandering babe completely insure. Pray come on Monday,
TO MR. MANNING.
TO MR. MANNING.
if you can, and stay your own time. I have moment by Clifford's Inn clock. He must a good large room, with two beds in it, in go to the printer's immediately—the most the handsomest of which thou shalt repose unlucky accident-he had struck off five a-nights, and dream of Spheroides. I hope hundred impressions of his Poems, which you will understand by the nonsense of this were ready for delivery to subscribers, and letter that I am not melancholy at the the Preface must all be expunged; there thoughts of thy coming: I thought it neces- were eighty pages of Preface, and not till sary to add this, because you love precision. that morning had he discovered that in the Take notice that our stay at Dyer's will not very first page of said Preface he had set out exceed eight o'clock, after which our pursuits with a principle of Criticism fundamentally will be our own. But indeed, I think a little wrong, which vitiated all his following recreation among the Bell Letters and poetry reasoning ; the Preface must be expunged, will do you some service in the interval of although it cost him 301., the lowest calcu.. severer studies. I hope we shall fully discuss lation, taking in paper and printing! In with George Dyer what I have never yet vain have his real friends remonstrated heard done to my satisfaction, the reason of against this Midsummer madness. George Dr. Johnson's malevolent strictures on the is as obstinate as a Primitive Christian-and higher species of the Ode.”
wards and parries off all our thrusts with one unanswerable fence ;
-Sir, it's of great
consequence that the world is not misled !' Manning could not come; and Dyer's “I've often wished I lived in the Golden subsequent symptoms are described in the Age, before doubt, and propositions, and following letter :
corollaries, got into the world. Now, as Joseph D-, a Bard of Nature, sings, going
up Malvern Hills. “ December 27th, 1800. "At length George Dyer's phrenesis has
How steep! how painful the ascent; come to a crisis ; he is raging and furiously To know that ever I shall gain the top.' mad. I waited upon the Heathen, Thursday was a se'nnight; the first symptom which You must know that Joe is lame, so that he struck my eye and gave me incontrovertible had some reason for so singing. These two proof of the fatal truth was a pair of nankeen lines, I assure you, are taken totidem literis pantaloons four times too big for him, which from a very popular poem. Joe is also an the said Heathen did pertinaciously affirm Epic Poet as well as a Descriptive, and has to be new.
written a tragedy, though both his drama “They were absolutely ingrained with the and epopoiea are strictly descriptive, and accumulated dirt of ages ; but he affirmed chiefly of the Beauties of Nature, for Joe them to be clean. He was going to visit a thinks man with all his passions and frailties lady that was nice about those things, and not a proper subject of the Drama. Joe's that's the reason he wore nankeen that day. tragedy hath the following surpassing speech And then he danced, and capered, and in it. Some king is told that his enemy has fidgeted, and pulled up his pantaloons, and engaged twelve archers to come over in a hugged his intolerable flannel vestinent closer boat from an enemy's country and way-lay about his poetic loins ; anon he gave it loose him; he thereupon pathetically exclaims— to the zephyrs which plentifully insinuate
"Twelve, dost thou say? Curse on those dozen villains!' their tiny bodies through every crevice, door, window or wainscot, expressly formed for D-read two or three acts out to us, very the exclusion of such impertinents. Then gravely on both sides till he came to this he caught at a proof sheet, and catched up a heroic touch, -and then he asked what we laundress's bill instead-made a dart at laughed at ? I had no more muscles that Bloomfield's Poems and threw them in agony day. A poet that chooses to read out his aside. I could not bring him to one direct own verses has but a limited power over reply; he could not maintain his jumping you. There is a bound where his authority mind in a right line for the tithe of a ceases.”
It needs the evidence of close deduction
The following letter, written sometime in “I will close my letter of simple inquiry 1801, shows that Lamb had succeeded in with an epigram on Mackintosh, the Vindiciæ obtaining occasional employment as a writer Gallicoe-man—who has got a place at lastof epigrams for newspapers, by which he one of the last I did for the Albion :added something to his slender income. The
. Though thou’rt like Judas, an apostate black, disparaging reference to Sir James Mackin
In the resemblance one thing thou dost lack; tosh must not be taken as expressive of When he had gotten his ill-purchas'd pelf, Lamb's deliberate opinion of that distin
He went away, and wisely hang'd himself :
This thou may do at last, yet much I doubt, guished person. Mackintosh, at this time,
If thou hast any Bowels to gush out!' was in great disfavour, for his supposed apostasy from the principles of his youth,
“Yours, as ever, C. LAMB." with Lamb's philosophic friends, whose minds were of temperament less capable than that of the author of the Vindiciæ Some sportive extravagance which, howGallice of being diverted from abstract ever inconsistent with Lamb's early sentitheories of liberty by the crimes and sufferings ments of reverent piety, was very far from which then attended the great attempt to indicating an irreligious purpose, seems to reduce them to practice. Lamb, through have given offence to Mr. Walter Wilson, life, utterly indifferent to politics, was always and to have induced the following letter, ready to take part with his friends, and illustrative of the writer's feelings at this probably scouted, with them, Mackintosh as time, on the most momentous of all suba deserter.
TO MR. MANNING.
TO MR. WALTER WILSON. 'Dear Manning, I have forborne writing
“ August 14th, 1801. so long and so have you for the matter of “Dear Wilson,-I am extremely sorry that that), until I am almost ashamed either to any serious difference should subsist between write or to forbear any longer. But as your us, on account of some foolish behaviour of silence may proceed from some worse cause mine at Richmond; you knew me well than neglect—from illness, or some mishap enough before, that a very little liquor will which may have befallen you, I begin to be cause a considerable alteration in me. anxious. You may have been burnt out, or “I beg you to impute my conduct solely you may have married, or you may have to that, and not to any deliberate intention broken a limb, or turned country parson ; of offending you, from whom I have received any of these would be excuse sufficient for so many friendly attentions. I know that not coming to my supper. I am not so you think a very important difference in unforgiving as the nobleman in Saint Mark. opinion with respect to some more serious For me, nothing new has happened to me, subjects between us makes me a dangerous unless that the poor Albion died last Saturday companion ; but do not rashly infer, from of the world's neglect, and with it the some slight and light expressions which I fountain of my puns is choked up for ever. may have made use of in a moment of levity,
“All the Lloyds wonder that you do not in your presence, without sufficient regard write to them. They apply to me for the to your feelings—do not conclude that I am cause. Relieve me from this weight of an inveterate enemy to all religion. I have ignorance, and enable me to give a truly had a time of seriousness, and I have known oracular response.
the importance and reality of a religious "I have been confined some days with belief. Latterly, I acknowledge, much of swelled cheek and rheumatism—they divide my seriousness has gone off, whether from and govern me with a viceroy-headache in new company, or some other new associathe middle. I can neither write nor read tions ; but I still retain at bottom a convicwithout great pain. It must be something tion of the truth, and a certainty of the like obstinacy that I choose this time to usefulness of religion. I will not pretend to write to you in after many months inter- more gravity or feeling than I at present ruption.
possess; my intention is not to persuade