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ineLove and respects to Edith, and friendly
whose custom it is, without any deserving, is too metaphysical, and your taste too to importune authors to give unto them correct; at least I must allege something their books. I am sorry 'tis imperfect, as against you both, to excuse my own dotagethe lottery board annexed to it also is.
* So lonely 'twas, that God himself Methinks you might modernise and elegantise
Scarce seemed there to be!'-&c., &c. this Supersedeas, and place it in front of your Joan of Arc, as a gentle hint to Messrs. But you allow some elaborate beauties-you Parke, &c. One of the happiest emblems, should have extracted 'em. "The Ancient and comicalest cuts, is the owl and little Marinere’ plays more tricks with the mind chirpers, page 63.
than that last poem, which is yet one of the “ Wishing you all amusement, which your finest written. But I am getting too dogtrue emblem-fancier can scarce fail to find in matical; and before I degenerate into abuse, even bad emblems, I remain your caterer to I will conclude with assuring you that I am command, “C. LAMB.
“ Sincerely yours,
“ C. LAMB. "Love and respects to Edith. I hope she is well. How does your Calendar prosper ?”
“I am going to meet Lloyd at Ware on
Saturday, to return on Sunday. Have you TO MR. SOUTHEY.
any commands or commendations to the “Nov. 8th, 1798.
metaphysician ? I shall be very happy if “ I perfectly accord with your opinion of old Wither ; Quarles is a wittier writer, but you will dine or spend any time with me in Wither lays more hold of the heart. Quarles your way through the great ugly city; but thinks of his audience when he lectures; these parts.
I know you have other ties upon you in Wither soliloquises in company with a full heart. What wretched stuff are the Divine
remembrances to Cottle.” Fancies' of Quarles ! Religion appears to him no longer valuable than it furnishes matter for quibbles and riddles ; he turns
In this year, Mr. Cottle proposed to publish God's grace into wantonness. Wither is like an annual volume of fugitive poetry by an old friend, whose warm-heartedness and various hands, under the title of the “ Annual estimable qualities make us wish he possessed Anthology;” to which Coleridge and Southey more genius, but at the same time make us were principal contributors, the first volume willing to dispense with that want. I always of which was published in the following year. love W., and sometimes admire Q. Still that To this little work Lamb contributed a short portrait poem is a fine one ; and the extract religious effusion in blank verse, entitled from ‘Shepherds’ Hunting' places him in a “Living without God in the World.” The starry height far above Quarles. If you following letter to Southey refers to this wrote that review in 'Crit. Rev.,' I am sorry poem by its first words, “Mystery of God," you are so sparing of praise to the ' Ancient and recurs to the rejected sonnet to his Marinere ; '-—so far from calling it as you sister ; and alludes to an intention, afterdo, with some wit, but more severity, ' A wards changed, of entitling the proposed Dutch Attempt,' &c., I call it a right English collection “Gleanings." attempt, and a successful one, to dethrone German sublimity. You have selected a passage fertile in unmeaning miracles, but
“Nov. 28th, 1798. have passed by fifty passages as miraculous “I can have no objection to your printing as the miracles they celebrate. I never so 'Mystery of God' with my name, and all deeply felt the pathetic as in that part,
due acknowledgments for the honour and
favour of the communication ; indeed, 'tis a 'A spring of love gush'd from my heart, And I bless'd them unaware—'
poem that can dishonour no name. Now,
that is in the true strain of modern modestoIt stung me into high pleasure through vanitas. .... But for the sonnet, I heartily sufferings. Lloyd does not like it ; his head wish it, as I thought it was, dead and
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
forgotten. If the exact circumstances under by a caricature of Gilray's, in which Colewhich I wrote could be known or told, it ridge and Southey were introduced with would be an interesting sonnet; but, to an asses' heads, and Lloyd and Lamb as toad indifferent and stranger reader, it must and frog. In the number for July appeared appear a very bald thing, certainly inadmis- the well-known poem of the “ New Morality," sible in a compilation. I wish you could in which all the prominent objects of the affix a different name to the volume ; there hatred of these champions of religion and is a contemptible book, a wretched assort- order were introduced as offering homage to ment of vapid feelings, entitled Pratt's Glean- Lepaux, a French charlatan, – of whose ings, which hath damned and impropriated existence Lamb had never even heard. the title for ever. Pray think of some other. The gentleman is better known (better had “Couriers and Stars, sedition's evening host,
Thou Morning Chronicle, and Morning Post, he remained unknown) by an Ode to Bene
Whether ye make the . Rights of Man' your theme, volence, written and spoken for and at the Your country libel, and your God blaspheme, annual dinner of the Humane Society, who
Or dirt on private worth and virtue throre,
Still blasphemous or blackguard, praise Lepaus. walk in procession once a-year, with all the objects of their charity before them, to return
And ye five other wandering bards, that move
In sweet accord of harmony and love, God thanks for giving them such benevolent C--dge and s—th-y, 1-d, and 1-b and Co., hearts.”
Tune all your mystic harps to praise Lepaux !”
Not content with thus confounding persons At this time Lamb's most intimate asso- of the most opposite opinions and the most ciates were Lloyd and Jem White, the author various characters in one common libel, the of the Falstaff Letters. When Lloyd was in party returned to the charge in the number town, he and White lodged in the same for September, and thus denounced the house, and were fast friends, though no two young poets, in a parody on the “Ode men could be more unlike, Lloyd having no to the Passions,” under the title of “The drollery in his nature, and White nothing Anarchists.” else. “You will easily understand,” observes
“Next 1-10-ft vow'd in doleful tone, Mr. Southey, in a letter with which he
No more to fire a thankless age : favoured the publisher, “how Lamb could Oblivion mark'd his labours for her own, sympathise with both."
Neglected from the press, and damn'd upon
the stage. The literary association of Lamb with Coleridge and Southey drew down upon him
See ! faithful to their mighty dam,
-dge, s—th-y, L-d, and 14b the hostility of the young scorners of the In splay-foot madrigals of love, "Anti-Jacobin," who luxuriating in boyi Soft moaning like the widow'd dove,
Pour, side-by-side, their sympathetic notes ; pride and aristocratic patronage, tossed the
Of equal rights, and civic feasts, arrows of their wit against all charged with And tyrant kings, and knavish priests, innovation, whether in politics or poetry,
Swift through the land the tuneful mischief floats. and cared little whom they wounded. No And now to softer strains they struck the lyre, one could be more innocent than Lamb of They sung the beetle or the mole,
The dying kid, or ass's foal, political heresy; no more strongly By cruel man permitted to expire.” opposed to new theories in morality, which he always regarded with disgust; and yet These effusions have the palliation which he not only shared in the injustice which the excess of sportive wit, impelled by youthaccused his friends of the last, but was con- ful spirits and fostered by the applause of founded in the charge of the first,his only the great, brings with it; but it will be crime being that he had published a few difficult to palliate the coarse malignity of a poems deeply coloured with religious enthu- passage in the prose department of the same siasm, in conjunction with two other men of work, in which the writer added to a stategenius, who were dazzled by the glowing ment that Mr. Coleridge was dishonoured at phantoms which the French Revolution had Cambridge for preaching Deism: “Since then raised. The very first number of the“ Anti- he has left his native country, commenced Jacobin Magazine and Review” was adorned citizen of the world, left his poor children
fatherless, and his wife destitute. Ex his the future happiness of mankind, not with diece, his friends Lamb and Southey.” It the inspiration of the poet, but with the was surely rather too much even for partisans, grave and passionless voice of the oracle. when denouncing their political opponents There was nothing better calculated at once as men who “dirt on private worth and to feed and to make steady the enthusiasm virtue threw,” thus to slander two young of youthful patriots than the high speculamen of the most exemplary character-one, tions, in which he taught them to engage on of an almost puritanical exactness of demea- the nature of social evils and the great nour and conduct—and the other, persevering destiny of his species. No one would have in a life of noble self-sacrifice, chequered suspected the author of those wild theories, only by the frailties of a sweet nature, which which startled the wise and shocked the endeared him even to those who were not prudent, in the calm, gentlemanly person admitted to the intimacy necessary to appre- who rarely said anything above the most ciate the touching example of his severer gentle common-place, and took interest in virtues !
little beyond the whist-table. His peculiar If Lamb's acquaintance with Coleridge and opinions were entirely subservient to his love Southey procured for him the scorn of the of letters. He thought any man who had more virulent of the Anti-Jacobin party, he written a book had attained a superiority showed by his intimacy with another dis- over his fellows which placed him in another tinguished object of their animosity, that he class, and could scarcely understand other was not solicitous to avert it. He was distinctions. Of all his works Lamb liked introduced by Mr. Coleridge to one of the his “Essay on Sepulchres” the best—a short most remarkable persons of that stirring development of a scheme for preserving in time—the author of " Caleb Williams,” and one place the memory of all great writers of the “ Political Justice.” The first meeting deceased, and assigning to each his proper between Lamb and Godwin did not wear a station, quite chimerical in itself, but promising aspect. Lamb grew warm as the accompanied with solemn and touching conviviality of the evening advanced, and musings on life and death and fame, embodied indulged in some freaks of humour which in a style of singular refinement and beauty. had not been dreamed of in Godwin's philosophy; and the philosopher, forgetting the equanimity with which he usually looked on the vicissitudes of the world or the whisttable, broke into an allusion to Gilray's caricature, and asked, “Pray, Mr. Lamb, are
CHAPTER V. you toad or frog ?” Coleridge was appre
(1799, 1800.) hensive of a rupture ; but calling the next morning on Lamb, he found Godwin seated at breakfast with him ; and an interchange
The year 1799 found Lamb engaged during of civilities and card-parties was established, his leisure hours in completing his tragedy of which lasted through the life of Lamb, whom John Woodvil, which seems to have been Godwin only survived a few months. Indif- finished about Christmas, and transmitted to ferent altogether to the politics of the age, Mr. Kemble. Like all young authors, who Lamb could not help being struck with pro- are fascinated by the splendour of theatrical ductions of its new-born energies, so remark- representation, he longed to see his concepable as the works and the character of tions embodied on the stage, and to receive Godwin. He seemed to realise in himself his immediate reward in the sympathy of a what Wordsworth long afterwards described, crowd of excited spectators. The hope was "the central calm at the heart of all agita- vain ;-but it cheered him in many a lonely tion.” Through the medium of his mind the hour, and inspired him to write when stormy convulsions of society were seen exhausted with the business of the day, and " silent as in a picture.” Paradoxes the when the less powerful stimulus of the press most daring wore the air of deliberate would have been insufficient to rouse him. wisdom as he pronounced them. He foretola In the mean time he continued to correspond
LETTERS TO SOUTHEY, COLERIDGE, MANNING, AND
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
with Mr. Southey, to send him portions of Seeing such hope and virtue in the boy,
Checking their swords' uncivil injuries, him. The following three letters, addressed As loth to mar that curious workmanship to Mr. Southey in the spring of this year, of Valour's beauty pourtray'd in his face.' require no commentary.
“Lloyd objects to “pourtrayed in his face,'
do you? I like the line. " Jan. 21st, 1799.
“I shall clap this in somewhere. I think “I am to blame for not writing to you there is a spirit through the lines ; perhaps before on my own account ; but I know you the 7th, 8th, and 9th owe their origin to can dispense with the expressions of grati- Shakspeare, though no image is borrowed. tude or I should have thanked you before for He says in Henry the Fourthall May's kindness.* He has liberally supplied
This infant Hotspur, the person I spoke to you of with money,
Mars in swathing clothes.' and had procured him a situation just after himself had lighted upon a similar one, and But pray did Lord Falkland die before engaged too far to recede. But May's kind- Worcester fight? In that case I must make ness was the same, and my thanks to you and bold to unclify some other nobleman. him are the same. May went about on this “ Kind love and respects to Edith. business as if it had been his own.
“ C. LAMB." knew John May before this, so I will be silent.
TO MR. SOUTHEY. “I shall be very glad to hear from you
“ March 15th, 1799. when convenient. I do not know how your “Dear Southey,– I have received your Calendar and other affairs thrive ; but above little volume, for which I thank you, though all, I have not heard a great while of your I do not entirely approve of this sort of interMadoc—the opus magnum. I would willingly course, where the presents are all on one side. send you something to give a value to this I have read the last Eclogue again with letter ; but I have only one slight passage great pleasure. It hath gained considerably to send you, scarce worth the sending, which by abridgment, and now I think it wants I want to edge in somewhere into my play, nothing but enlargement. You will call this which, by the way, hath not received the one of tyrant Procrustes' criticisms, to cut addition of ten lines, besides, since I saw you. and pull so to his own standard ; but the A father, old Walter Woodvil, (the witch's old lady is so great a favourite with me, I PROTÉGÉ) relates this of his son John, who want to hear more of her; and of' Joanna' 'fought in adverse armies,' being a royalist, you have given us still less. But the picture and his father a parliamentary man. of the rustics leaning over the bridge, and
the old lady travelling abroad on summer 'I saw him in the day of Worcester fight, Whither he came at twice seven years,
evening to see her garden watered, are Under the discipline of the Lord Falkland,
images so new and true, that I decidedly (His uncle by the mother's side,
prefer this ‘Ruin'd Cottage' to any poem in Who gave his youthful politics a bent Quite from the principles of his father's bouse ;)
the book. Indeed I think it the only one There did I see this valiant Lamb of Mars,
that will bear comparison with your ‘Hymn This sprig of honour, this unbearded John, This veteran in green years, this sprout, this Woodvil,
to the Penates,' in a former volume. (With dreadless ease guiding a fire-hot steed,
“I compare dissimilar things, as one would Which seem'd to scorn the manage of a boy,) a rose and a star, for the pleasure they give Prick forth with such a mirth into the field, To mingle rivalship and acts of war
us, or as a child soon learns to choose between Even with the sinewy masters of the art,
a cake and a rattle ; for dissimilars have You would have thought the work of blood had been A play-game merely, and the rabid Mars
mostly some points of comparison. The next Had put his harmful hostile nature off,
best poem, I think, is the first Eclogue ; 'tis To instruct raw youth in images of war,
very complete, and abounding in little picAnd practice of the unedged players' foils. The rough fanatic and blood-practised soldiery
tures and realities. The remainder Eclogues,
excepting only the 'Funeral,'I do not greatly * See ante, p. 31.
admire. I miss one, which had at least as
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
good a title to publication as the 'Witch,' clusion of our bills of lading. The finishing or the ‘Sailor's Mother. You call'd it the of the 'Sailor' is also imperfect. Any disLast of the Family.' The ‘Old Woman of senting minister may say and do as much. Berkeley' comes next; in some humours I “ These remarks, I know, are crude and would give it the preference above any. But unwrought, but I do not lay claim to much who the devil is Matthew of Westminster? accurate thinking. I never judge systemYou are as familiar with these antiquated wise of things, but fasten upon particulars. monastics, as Swedenborg, or, as his followers After all, there is a great deal in the book affect to call him, the Baron, with his in- that I must, for time, leave unmentioned, to visibles. But you have raised a very comic deserve my thanks for its own sake, as well effect out of the true narrative of Matthew of as for the friendly remembrances implied in Westminster. 'Tis surprising with how little the gift. I again return you my thanks. addition you have been able to convert, with “Pray present my love to Edith. so little alteration, his incidents, meant for
“C. L." terror, into circumstances and food for the spleen. The Parody is not so successful ; it has one famous line, indeed, which conveys
“ March 20th, 1799. the finest death-bed image I ever met with:
“I am hugely pleased with your "Spider,' 'The doctor whisper'd the nurse, and the surgeon knew 'your old freemason,' as you call him. The what he said.'
three first stanzas are delicious ; they seem
to me a compound of Burns and Old Quarles, But the offering the bride three times bears those kind of home-strokes, where more is not the slightest analogy or proportion to the felt than strikes the ear; a terseness, a jocular fiendish noises three times heard! In ‘Jas- pathos, which makes one feel in laughter. par,' the circumstance of the great light is The measure, too, is novel and pleasing. I very affecting. But I had heard you mention could almost wonder, Rob. Burns, in his lifeit before. The 'Rose' is the only insipid time never stumbled upon it. The fourth piece in the volume ; it hath neither thorns stanza is less striking, as being less original. nor sweetness ; and, besides, sets all chrono- The fifth falls off. It has no felicity of logy and probability at defiance.
phrase, no old-fashioned phrase or feeling. “Cousin Margaret,' you know, I like. The allusions to the Pilgrim's Progress are
"Young hopes, and love's delightful dreams,' particularly happy, and harmonise tacitly and delicately with old cousins and aunts. To savour neither of Burns nor Quarles ; they familiar faces we do associate familiar
seem more like shreds of many a modern scenes,
The last stanza hath and accustomed objects ; but what hath
sentimental sonnet. Apollidon and his sea-nymphs to do in these nothing striking in it, if I except the two affairs? A pollyon I could have borne, though concluding lines, which are Burns all over. he stands for the devil, but who is Apollidon? I wish, if you concur with me, these things I think you are too apt to conclude faintly, could be looked to. I am sure this is a kind with some cold moral, as in the end of the of writing, which comes ten-fold better poem called 'The Victory'
recommended to the heart, comes there more
like a neighbour or familiar, than thousands *Be thou her comforter, who art the widow's friend;'
of Hamnels and Zillahs and Madelons. I
beg you will send me the 'Holly-tree,' if it a single common-place line of comfort, which at all resemble this, for it must please me. bears no proportion in weight or number to I have never seen it. I love this sort of the many lines which describe suffering. poems, that open a new intercourse with the This is to convert religion into mediocre most despised of the animal and insect race. feelings, which should burn, and glow, and I think this vein may be further opened. tremble. A moral should be wrought into Peter Pindar hath very prettily apostrothe body and soul, the matter and tendency phised a fly; Burns hath his mouse and his of a poem, not tagged to the end, like a ‘God louse ; Coleridge less successfully hath made send the good ship into harbour,' at the con- overtures of intimacy to a jackass, therein