Зображення сторінки

quaking and trembling. In the midst of his and in the way to oblivion, is a feeling rather inspiration, and the effects of it were most humbling ; perhaps, as tending to self-mornoisy, was handed into the midst of the tification, not unfavourable to the spiritual meeting a most terrible blackguard Wapping state. Still, as you meant to confer no benefit sailor; the poor man, I believe, had rather on the soul of your friend, you do not stand have been in the hottest part of an engage- quite clear from the imputation of unkindliment, for the congregation of broad-brims, ness (a word, by which I mean the diminutive together with the ravings of the prophet, were of unkindness). And then David Hartley too much for his gravity, though I saw even was unwell; and how is the small philosopher, he had delicacy enough, not to laugh out. And the minute philosopher ? and David's mother? the inspired gentleman, though his manner Coleridge, I am not trifling, nor are these was so supernatural, yet neither talked nor matter-of-fact questions only. You are all professed to talk anything more than good very dear and precious to me; do what you sober sense, common morality, with now and will, Col., you may hurt me and vex me by then a declaration of not speaking from your silence, but you cannot estrange my himself. Among other things, looking back heart from you all. I cannot scatter friendto his childhood and early youth, he told the ships like chuck-farthings, nor let them drop meeting what a graceless young dog he had from mine hand like hour-glass sand. I have been, that in his youth he had a good share of but two or three people in the world to whom wit: reader, if thou hadst seen the gentle- I am more than indifferent, and I can't afford man, thou wouldst have sworn that it must to whistle them off to the winds. indeed have been many years ago, for his “My sister has recovered from her illness. rueful physiognomy would have scared away May that merciful God make tender my the playful goddess from the meeting, where heart, and make me as thankful, as in my he presided, for ever. A wit! a wit! what distress I was earnest, in my prayers. Concould he mean? Lloyd, it minded me of gratulate me on an ever-present and neverFalkland in the Rivals, ‘Am I full of wit alienable friend like her. And do, do insert, and humour ? No, indeed you are not. Am if you have not lost, my dedication. It will I the life and soul of every company I come have lost half its value by coming so late. If into? No, it cannot be said you are.' That you really are going on with that volume, I hard-faced gentleman, a wit! Why, nature shall be enabled in a day or two to send you wrote on his fanatic forehead fifty years ago, a short poem to insert. Now, do answer "Wit never comes, that comes to all.' I this

. Friendship, and acts of friendship, should be as scandalised at a bon mot issuing should be reciprocal, and free as the air ; a from his oracle-looking mouth, as to see Cato friend should never be reduced to beg an go down a country-dance. God love you all. alms of his fellow. Yet I will beg an alms; You are very good to submit to be pleased I entreat you to write, and tell me all about with reading my nothings. 'Tis the privilege poor Lloyd, and all of you. God love and of friendship to talk nonsense, and to have preserve you all.

“C. LAMB." | her nonsense respected.—Yours ever,

“C. LAMB."



“ June 13th, 1797. “I stared with wild wonderment to see

" April 7th, 1797. thy well-known hand again. It revived " Your last letter was dated the 10th many a pleasing recollection of an epistolary February; in it you promised to write again intercourse, of late strangely suspended, once the next day. At least, I did not expect so the pride of my life. Before I even opened long, so unfriend-like a silence. There was thy letter, I figured to myself a sort of a time, Col., when a remissness of this sort in complacency which my little hoard at home a dear friend would have lain very heavy on would feel at receiving the new-comer into

my mind, but latterly I have been too familiar the little drawer where I keep my treasures of 1 with neglect to feel much from the semblance this kind. You have done well in writing to

uf it. Yet, to suspect one's self overlooked, me. The little room (was it not a little one ?)


at the Salutation was already in the way of at riding behind in the basket, though, I becoming a fading idea ! it had begun to be confess, in pretty good company. Your classed in my memory with those' wanderings picture of idiocy, with the sugar-loaf head, with a fair hair'd maid,' in the recollection is exquisite ; but are you not too severe upon of which I feel I have no property. You our more favoured brethren in fatuity? I press me, very kindly do you press me, to send you a trifling letter ; but you have come to Stowey ; obstacles, strong as death, only to think that I have been skimming the prevent me at present ; maybe I may be able superficies of my mind, and found it only to come before the year is out; believe me, froth. Now, do write again ; you cannot I will come as soon as I can, but I dread believe how I long and love always to hear naming a probable time. It depends on fifty about you. Yours, most affectionately, things, besides the expense, which is not

“ CHARLES LAMB." nothing. As to Richardson, caprice may grant what caprice only refused, and it is no more hardship, rightly considered, to be dependent on him for pleasure, than to lie

“ June 24th, 1797. at the mercy of the rain and sunshine for “Did you seize the grand opportunity of the enjoyment of a holiday: in either case seeing Kosciusko while he was at Bristol ? we are not to look for a suspension of the I never saw a hero; I wonder how they laws of nature. “Grill will be grill. Vide look. I have been reading a most curious Spenser.

romance-like work, called the Life of John “I could not but smile at the compromise Buncle, Esq. 'Tis very interesting, and an you make with me for printing Lloyd's extraordinary compound of all manner of poems first; but there is in nature, I fear, subjects, from the depth of the ludicrous to too many tendencies to envy and jealousy the heights of sublime religious truth. There not to justify you in your apology. Yet, is much abstruse science in it above my cut, if any one is welcome to pre-eminence and an infinite fund of pleasantry. John from me, it is Lloyd, for he would be the Buncle is a famous fine man, formed in last to desire it. So pray, let his name nature's most eccentric hour. I am ashamed uniformly precede mine, for it would be of what I write. But I have no topic to treating me like a child to suppose it could talk of. I see nobody; and sit, and read, or give me pain. Yet, alas ! I am not insus- walk alone, and hear nothing. I am quite ceptible of the bad passions. Thank God, lost to conversation from disuse; and out of I have the ingenuousness to be ashamed of the sphere of my little family, who, I am them. I am dearly fond of Charles Lloyd ; thankful, are dearer and dearer to me every he is all goodness, and I have too much of day, I see no face that brightens up at my the world in my composition to feel myself approach. My friends are at a distance thoroughly deserving of his friendship. (meaning Birmingham and Stowey); worldly

“ Lloyd tells me that Sheridan put you hopes are at a low ebb with me, and unupon writing your tragedy. I hope you are worldly thoughts are not yet familiarised to only Coleridgeizing when you talk of finishing me, though I occasionally indulge in them. it in a few days. Shakspeare was a more Still I feel a calm not unlike content. I modest man, but you best know your own fear it is sometimes more akin to physical power.

stupidity than to a heaven-flowing serenity “Of my last poem you speak slightingly; and peace. What right have I to obtrude surely the longer stanzas were pretty toler- all this upon you ? and what is such a letter able ; at least there was one good line in it, to you ? and if I come to Stowey, what

conversation can I furnish to compensate my * Thick-shaded trees, with dark green leaf rich clad.' friend for those stores of knowledge and of

fancy ; those delightful treasures of wisdom, “ To adopt your own expression, I call which, I know, he will open to me? But it this a 'rich' line, a fine full line. And some is better to give than to receive ; and I was others I thought even beautiful. Believe me, a very patient hearer, and docile scholar, in my little gentleman will feel some repugnance our winter evening meetings at Mr. May's; was I not, Col. ? What I have owed to deceased parents : and Hayley's sweet lines heart can ne'er forget.

to his mother are notoriously the best things “God love you


“ C. L." he ever wrote. Cowper's lines, some of them

thee, my


At length the small volume containing the poems of Coleridge, Lloyd, and Lamb, was • How gladly would the man recall to life

The boy's neglected sire; a mother, too! published by Mr. Cottle at Bristol. It excited

That softer name, perhaps more gladly still, little attention ; but Lamb had the pleasure Might he demand them at the gates of death.' of seeing his dedication to his sister printed in good set form, after his own fashion, and “I cannot but smile to see my granny so of witnessing the delight and pride with gaily decked forth : though, I think, whoever which she received it. This little book, altered 'thy' praises to 'her' praises—thy' now very scarce, had the following motto honoured memory to‘her’honoured memory, expressive of Coleridge's feeling towards his did wrong—they best exprest my feelings. associates :-Duplex nobis vinculum, et ami- There is a pensive state of recollection, in citiæ et similium junctarumque Camænarum; which the mind is disposed to apostrophise quod utinam neque mors solvat, neque temporis the departed objects of its attachment; and, longinquitas. Lamb's share of the work breaking loose from grammatical precision, consists of eight sonnets ; four short frag- changes from the first to the third, and from ments of blank verse, of which the Grandame the third to the first person, just as the random is the principal; a poem, called the Tomb of fancy or the feeling directs. Among Lloyd's Douglas ; some verses to Charles Lloyd ; and sonnets, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 11th, are a vision of Repentance ; which are all pub- eminently beautiful. I think him too lavish lished in the last edition of his poetical of his expletives ; the do's and did's, when works, except one of the sonnets, which was they occur too often, bring a quaintness with addressed to Mrs. Siddons, and the Tomb them along with their simplicity, or rather of Douglas, which was justly omitted as air of antiquity, which the patrons of them common-place and vapid. They only occupy seem desirous of conveying. twenty-eight duodecimo pages, within which Another time, I may notice more particuspace was comprised all that Lamb at this larly Lloyd's, Southey's, Dermody's Sonnets. time had written which he deemed worth I shrink from them now: my teasing lot preserving

makes ine too confused for a clear judgment

of things, too selfish for sympathy; and these The following letter from Lamb to Cole- ill-digested, meaningless remarks, I have ridge seems to have been written on receiving imposed on myself as a task, to lull reflection, the first copy of the work.

as well as to show you I did not neglect reading your valuable present. Return my

ackowledgments to Lloyd ; you two seem to

“ Dec. 10th, 1797. be about realising an Elysium upon earth, “I am sorry I cannot now relish your and, no doubt, I shall be happier. Take my poetical present so thoroughly as I feel it best wishes. Remember me most affectiondeserves ; but I do not the less thank Lloyd ately to Mrs. C-, and give little David and you for it.

Hartley-God bless its little heart !-a kiss “Before I offer, what alone I have to offer, for me. Bring him up to know the meaning a few obvious remarks, on the poems you of his Christian name, and what that name sent me, I can but notice the odd coincidence (imposed upon him) will demand of him. of two young men, in one age, carolling their

“ God love you!

“C. LAMB. grandmothers. Love, what L. calls the 'feverish and romantic tie,' hath too long "I write, for one thing to say, that I shall domineered over all the charities of home : write no more till you send me word, where the dear domestic ties of father, brother, you are, for you are so soon to move. husband. The amiable and benevolent “My sister is pretty well, thank God. We Cowper has a beautiful passage in his ‘Task, think of you very often.

God bless you : -some natural and painful reflections on his continue to be my correspondent, and I will


strive to fancy that this world is not all by their genius, were usually named to be barrenness.'"

dismissed with a sneer. After a contemp

tuous notice of “The Mournful Muse" of After several disappointments, occasioned Lloyd, Lamb receives his quietus in a line :by the state of business in the India House, “Mr. Lamb, the joint author of this little Lamb achieved his long-checked wish of volume, seems to be very properly associated visiting Coleridge at Stowey, in company with his plaintive companion.” * with his sister, without whom he felt it In this year Lamb composed his prose almost a sin to enjoy anything. Coleridge, tale, “Rosamund Gray,” and published it in shortly after, abandoned his scheme of a a volume of the same size and price with the cottage-life; and, in the following year, left last, under the title of“ A Tale of Rosamund England for Germany. Lamb, however, was Gray and Old Blind Margaret,” which, not now so lonely as when he wrote to Cole- having a semblance of story, sold much ridge imploring his correspondence as the better than his poems, and added a few only comfort of his sorrows and labours ; for, pounds to his slender income. This miniature through the instrumentality of Coleridge, he romance is unique in English literature. It was now rich in friends. Among them he bears the impress of a recent perusal of “The marked George Dyer, the guileless and simple- Man of Feeling,” and “Julia de Roubigné ;" hearted, whose love of learning was a passion, and while on the one hand it wants the and who found, even in the forms of verse, graphic force and delicate touches of Macobjects of worship; Southey, in the young kenzie, it is informed with deeper feeling and vigour of his genius; and Wordsworth, the breathes a diviner morality than the most great regenerator of English poetry, preparing charming of his tales. Lamb never possessed for his long contest with the glittering forms the faculty of constructing a plot either for of inane phraseology which had usurped the drama or novel; and while he luxuriated in dominion of the public mind, and with the the humour of Smollett, the wit of Fielding, cold mockeries of scorn with which their or the solemn pathos of Richardson, he was supremacy was defended. By those the not amused, but perplexed, by the attempt beauty of his character was felt; the original to thread the windings of story which concast of his powers was appreciated ; and his duct to their most exquisite passages through peculiar humour was detected and kindled the maze of adventure. In this tale, nothing into fitful life.

is made out with distinctness, except the
rustic piety and grace of the lovely girl
and her venerable grandmother, which are
pictured with such earnestness and simplicity
as might beseem a fragment of the book of


The villain who lays waste their retrospective before its time, and tinging all Southey as early as the year 1795 ; but no things with a strange solemnity ; hints of intimacy ensued until he accompanied Lloyd that craving after immediate appliances in the summer of 1797 to the little village of which might give impulse to a harassed Burton, near Christchurch, in Hampshire, frame, and confidence to struggling fancy, where Southey was then residing, and where and of that escape from the pressure of they spent a fortnight as the poet's guests. agony into fantastic mirth, which in after After Coleridge's departure for Germany, in life made Lamb a problem to a stranger, 1798, a correspondence began between Lamb while they endeared him a thousand-fold to and Southey, which continued through that those who really knew him. While the and part of the following year ;-Southey fulness of the religious sentiments, and the communicates to Lamb his Eclogues, which scriptural cast of the language, still partake he was then preparing for the press, and of his early manhood, the visit of the narrator Lamb repaying the confidence by submitting of the tale to the churchyard where his the products of his own leisure hours to his parents lie buried, after his nerves had been genial critic. If Southey did not, in all strung for the endeavour by wine at the respects, compensate Lamb for the absence village inn, and the half-frantic jollity of his of his earlier friend, he excited in him a old heart-broken friend (the lover of the more entire and active intellectual sympathy; tale), whom he met there, with the exquisite as the character of Southey's mind bore benignity of thought breathing through the more resemblance to his own than that of whole, prophesy the delightful peculiarities Coleridge. In purity of thought ; in the and genial frailties of an after day. The love of the minutest vestige of antiquity ; in reflections he makes on the eulogistic cha- a certain primness of style bounding in the racter of all the inscriptions, are drawn from rich humour which threatened to overflow his own childhood; for when a very little it; they were nearly akin : both alike boy, walking with his sister in a churchyard, reverenced childhood, and both had prehe suddenly asked her, “ Mary, where do the served its best attributes unspotted from the naughty people lie ?

humble joys is a murky phantom without . [1798.)

individuality ; the events are obscured by LAMB'S LITERARY EFFORTS AND CORRESPONDENCE WITH the haze of sentiment which hovers over them;

and the narrative gives way to the reflections In the year 1798, the blank verse of Lloyd of the author, who is mingled with the and Lamb, which had been contained in the persons of the tale in visionary confusion, volume published in conjunction with Cole- and gives to it the character of a sweet but ridge, was, with some additions by Lloyd, disturbed dream. It has an interest now published in a thin duodecimo, price 28. 6d., beyond that of fiction ; for in it we may trace, under the title of “Blank Verse, by Charles “as in a glass darkly," the characteristics of Lloyd and Charles Lamb." This unpre- the mind and heart of the author, at a time tending book was honoured by a brief and when a change was coming upon them. scornful notice in the catalogue of “The There are the dainty sense of beauty just Monthly Review,” in the small print of weaned from its palpable object, and quiverwhich the works of the poets who are now ing over its lost images ; feeling grown recognised as the greatest ornaments of their age, and who have impressed it most deeply

* Monthly Review, Sept. 1798.


world. If Lamb bowed to the genius of “Rosamund Gray” remained unreviewed Coleridge with a fonder reverence, he felt till August, 1800, when it received the more at home with Southey ; and although following notice in “The Monthly Review's” he did not pour out the inmost secrets of his catalogue, the manufacturer of which was soul in his letters to him as to Coleridge, he probably more tolerant of heterodox com- gave more scope to the “first sprightly position in prose than verse :-“In the runnings” of his humorous fancy. Here is perusal of this pathetic and interesting story, the first of his freaks :the reader who has a mind capable of enjoying rational and moral sentiment will feel much gratification. Mr. Lamb has here proved himself skilful in touching the nicest “My tailor has brought me home a new feelings of the heart, and in affording great coat la pelled, with a velvet collar. He pleasure to the imagination, by exhibiting assures me everybody wears velvet collars events and situations which, in the hands of now. Some are born fashionable, some a writer less conversant with the springs and achieve fashion, and others, like your humble energies of the moral sense, would make a servant, have fashion thrust upon them. very sorry figure.'” While we acknowledge The rogue has been making inroads hitherto this scanty praise as a redeeming trait in the by modest degrees, foisting upon me an long series of critical absurdities, we cannot additional button, recommending gaiters, but help observing how curiously misplaced all to come upon me thus in a full tide of luxury, the laudatory epithets are ; the sentiment neither becomes him as a tailor or the ninth being profound and true, but not “ rational,” of a man. My meek gentleman was robbed and the “springs and energies of the moral the other day, coming with his wife and sense” being substituted for a weakness family in a one-horse shay from Hampstead ; which had a power of its own !

the villains rifled him of four guineas, some Lamb was introduced by Coleridge to shillings and half-pence, and a bundle of


« НазадПродовжити »