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Domestic jars, there was I know not what
become the minister of a Unitarian congreOf tender feeling that were ill exchang'd For this world's chilling friendships, and their smiles gation at Shrewsbury ; a hope of short Familiar, whom the heart calls strangers still. duration. The following letter was addressed A heavy lot bath he, most wretched man,
by Lamb to him at this time as “S. T. ColeWho lives the last of all his family!
ridge”- -as if the Mr. were dropped and the He looks around him, and his eye discerns
"Reverend" not quite adopted—"at the The face of the stranger; and his heart is sick. Man of the world, what can'st thou do for him ?
Reverend A. Rowe's, Shrewsbury, ShropWealth is a burthen which he could not bear; shire.” The tables are turned here ;-Lamb, Mirth a strange crime, the which he dares not act; And generous wines no cordial to his soul.
instead of accusing Coleridge of neglect, For wounds like his, Christ is the only cure. takes the charge to himself, in deep humility Go! preach thou to him of a world to come, Where friends shall meet and know each other's face!
of spirit, and regards the effect of Miss Say less than this, and say it to the winds.
Lamb's renewed illnesses on his mind as
inducing indifference, with an affecting selfAn addition to Lamb's household-cares is
jealousy. thus mentioned in a letter
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
January 28th, 1798. “ December 10th, 1797.
“You have writ me many kind letters, “In truth, Coleridge, I am perplexed, and and I have answered none of them. I don't at times almost cast down. I am beset with deserve your attentions. An unnatural inperplexities. The old hag of a wealthy rela- difference has been creeping on me since my tion, who took my aunt off our hands in the last misfortunes, or I should have seized the beginning of trouble, has found out that she first opening of a correspondence with you. is 'indolent and mulish,' I quote her own To you I owe much, under God. In my words, and that her attachment to us is so brief acquaintance with you in London, your strong that she can never be happy apart. conversations won me to the better cause, The lady, with delicate irony, remarks, that and rescued me from the polluting spirit of if I am not an hypocrite, I shall rejoice to the world. I might have been a worthless receive her again ; and that it will be a
character without you ; as it is, I do possess means of making me more fond of home to a certain improvable portion of devotional have so dear a friend to come home to! The feelings, tho' when I view myself in the light fact is, she is jealous of my aunt's bestowing of divine truth, and not according to the any kind recollections on us, while she enjoys common measures of human judgment, I am the patronage of her roof. She says she altogether corrupt and sinful. This is no finds it inconsistent with her own ease and cant. I am very sincere. tranquillity,' to keep her any longer ; and,
“These last afflictions, Coleridge, have in fine, summons me to fetch her home. failed to soften and bend my will. They Now, much as I should rejoice to transplant found me unprepared. My former calamities the poor old creature from the chilling air produced in me a spirit of humility and a of such patronage, yet I know how straitened spirit of prayer. I thought they had sutiiwe are already, how unable already to answer ciently disciplined me; but the event ought any demand which sickness or any extra- to humble me; if God's judgments now fail ordinary expense may make. I know this, to take away from me the heart of stone, and all unused as I am to struggle with per- what more grievous trials ought I not to plexities, I am somewhat nonplussed, to say expect ? I have been very querulous, imno worse. This prevents me from a thorough patient under the rod—full of little jealousies relish of what Lloyd's kindness and your's and heart burnings.—I had well nigh quarhave furnished me with. I thank you though relled with Charles Lloyd—and for no other from my heart, and feel myself not quite reason, I believe, than that the good creature
Ι alone in the earth.”
did all he could to make me happy. The truth is, I thought he tried to force my mind
from its natural and proper bent ; he conIn 1798, Coleridge seemed to attain a tinually wished me to be from home, he was settled home by accepting an invitation to drawing me from the consideration of my
poor dear Mary's situation, rather than retain little of what I read; am unused to assisting me to gain a proper view of it with compositions in which any methodising is religious consolations. I wanted to be left required; but I thank you sincerely for the to the tendency of my own mind, in a solitary hint, and shall receive it as far as I am able, state, which, in times past, I knew had led that is, endeavour to engage my mind in to quietness and a patient bearing of the some constant and innocent pursuit. I know yoke. He was hurt that I was not more my capacities better than you do. constantly with him, but he was living with Accept my kindest love, and believe me White, a man to whom I had never been yours, as ever.
C. L." accustomed to impart my dearest feelings, tho’ from long habits of friendliness, and many a social and good quality, I loved him At this time, the only literary man whom very much. I met company there sometimes Lamb knew in London was George Dyer, -indiscriminate company. Any society who had been noted as an accomplished almost, when I am in affliction, is sorely scholar, in Lamb's early childhood, at Christ's painful to me. I seem to breathe more freely, Hospital. For him Lamb cherished all the to think more collectedly, to feel more pro- esteem that his guileless simplicity of characperly and calmly, when alone. All these ter and gentleness of nature could inspire ; things the good creature did with the kindest in these qualities the friends were akin ; but intentions in the world, but they produced in no two men could be more opposite than me nothing but soreness and discontent. I they were to each other, in intellectual qualibecame, as he complained, ‘jaundiced' to- fications and tastes-Lamb, in all things wards him ... but he has forgiven me—and original, and rejoicing in the quaint, the his smile, I hope, will draw all such humours strange, the extravagant ; Dyer, the quintfrom me.
I am recovering, God be praised essence of learned commonplace ; Lamb for it, a healthiness of mind, something like wildly catching the most evanescent spirit of calmness—but I want more religion—I am wit and poetry ; Dyer, the wondering disjealous of human helps and leaning-places. ciple of their established forms. Dyer offiI rejoice in your good fortunes. May God ciated as a revering High Priest at the at the last settle you !-You have had many Altar of the Muses—such as they were in and painful trials; humanly speaking they the staid, antiquated trim of the closing years are going to end ; but we should rather pray of the eighteenth century, before they formed that discipline may attend us thro' the whole sentimental attachments in Germany, or of our lives. .... A careless and a dissolute flirted with revolutionary France, or renewed spirit has advanced upon me with large their youth by drinking the Spirit of the strides—pray God that my present afflictions Lakes. Lamb esteemed and loved him so may be sanctified to me! Mary is recovering; well, that he felt himself entitled to make but I see no opening yet of a situation for sport with his peculiarities; but it was as her ; your invitation went to my very heart, Fielding might sport with his own idea of but you have a power of exciting interest, of Parson Adams ; or Goldsmith with his leading all hearts captive, too forcible to Dr. Primrose. The following passage occurs admit of Mary's being with you. I consider in a letter of 28th November, 1798, adher as perpetually on the brink of madness. dressedI think, you would almost make her dance within an inch of the precipice ; she must be with duller fancies, and cooler intellects. "I showed my Witch,' and 'Dying Lover,' I know a young man of this description, who to Dyer last night, but George could not has suited her these twenty years, and may comprehend how that could be poetry which live to do so still, if we are one day restored did not go upon ten feet, as George and his to each other. In answer to your suggestions predecessors had taught it to do; so George of occupation for me, I must say that I do read me some lectures on the distinguishing not think my capacity altogether suited for qualities of the Ode, the Epigram, and the disquisitions of that kind. .... I have read Epic, and went home to illustrate his doctrine, little, I have a very weak memory, and by correcting a proof sheet of his own Lyrics.
TO MR. SOUTHEY.
George writes odes where the rhymes, like right, that I had power and might equal to fashionable man and wife, keep a comfortable my wishes : then would I call the gentry of
distance of six or eight lines apart, and calls thy native island, and they should come in | that'observing the laws of verse.' George troops, flocking at the sound of thy pros
tells you, before he recites, that you must pectus-trumpet, and crowding who shall be listen with great attention, or you'll miss the first to stand in thy list of subscribers! I rhymes. I did so, and found them pretty can only put twelve shillings into thy pocket exact. George, speaking of the dead Ossian, (which, I will answer for them, will not stick
exclaimeth, ‘Dark are the poet's eyes.' I there long), out of a pocket almost as bare | humbly represented to him that his own eyes as thine. Is it not a pity so much fine
were dark, and many a living bard's besides, writing should be erased ? But, to tell the ! and recommended. Clos'd are the poet's eyes.' truth, I began to scent that I was getting
But that would not do. I found there was into that sort of style which Longinus and an antithesis between the darkness of his Dionysius Halicarnassus fitly call the eyes and the splendour of his genius ; and I affected.'” acquiesced.”
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
Lamb's apprehensions of the recurrence of The following passage on the same subject his sister's malady were soon realised. An occurs in a letter about the same time, old maid-servant who assisted her in the addressed
lodging became ill ; Miss Lamb incessantly watched the death-bed; and just as the poor
creature died, was again seized with mad"Now I am on the subject of poetry, I ness. Lamb placed her under medical care ; must announce to you, who, doubtless, in and, left alone, wrote the following short your remote part of the island, have not and miserable letter :heard tidings of so great a blessing, that George Dyer hath prepared two ponderous volumes full of poetry and criticism. They
“ May 12th, 1800. impend over the town and are threatened to My dear Coleridge, I don't know why fall in the winter. The first volume contains I write, except from the propensity misery every sort of poetry, except personal satire, has to tell her griefs. Hetty died on Friday which George, in his truly original prospectus, night, about eleven o'clock, after eight days' renounceth for ever, whimsically foisting the illness ; Mary, in consequence of fatigue and intention in between the price of his book anxiety, is fallen ill again, and I was obliged and the proposed number of subscribers. (If to remove her yesterday. I am left alone in I can, I will get you a copy of his handbill.) a house with nothing but Hetty's dead body He has tried his vein in every species besides to keep me company. To-morrow I bury -the Spenserian, Thomsonian, Masonic and her, and then I shall be quite alone, with Akensidish more especially. The second nothing but a cat, to remind me that the volume is all criticism ; wherein he demon- house has been full of living beings like my
strates to the entire satisfaction of the literary self. My heart is quite sunk, and I don't | world, in a way that must silence all reply know where to look for relief. Mary will
for ever, that the Pastoral was introduced by get better again, but her constantly being | Theocritus and polished by Virgil and Pope liable to such relapses is dreadful ; nor is it
-that Gray and Mason (who always hunt in the least of our evils that her case and all couples in George's brain) have a good deal our story is so well known around us. We are of poetical fire and true lyric genius—that in a manner marked. Excuse my troubling Cowley was ruined by excess of wit (a you, but I have nobody by me to speak to
warning to all moderns)—that Charles Lloyd, me. I slept out last night, not being able to | Charles Lamb, and William Wordsworth, in endure the change and the stillness. But I
later days, have struck the true chords of did not sleep well, and I must come back to poesy. O George, George ! with a head my own bed. I am going to try and get a uniformly wrong, and a heart uniformly friend to come and be with me to-morrow.
TO MR. MANNING.
I am completely shipwrecked. My head is house)—to come and lodge with him, at his quite bad. I almost wish that Mary were house in Southampton Buildings, Chancerydead.—God bless you. Love to Sara and lane. This was a very comfortable offer to Hartley.- Monday.
C. LAMB." me, the rooms being at a reasonable rent, and
including the use of an old servant, besides
being infinitely preferable to ordinary lodgThe prospect of obtaining a residence more ings in our case, as you must perceive. As suited to the peculiar exigencies of his Gutch knew all our story and the perpetual situation than that which he then occupied liability to a recurrence in my sister's disat Pentonville, gave Lamb comfort, which order, probably to the end of her life, I he expressed in the following short letter :- certainly think the offer very generous and
very friendly. I have got three rooms (including servant) under 341. a year. Here I
soon found myself at home; and here, in six “ Dear Manning, -I feel myself unable to weeks after, Mary was well enough to join thank you sufficiently for your kind letter. me. So we are once more settled. I am It was doubly acceptable to me, both for the afraid we are not placed out of the reach of choice poetry and the kind honest prose future interruptions. But I am determined which it contained. It was just such a letter to take what snatches of pleasure we can as I should have expected from Manning. between the acts of our distressful drama.
“I am in much better spirits than when I .... I have passed two days at Oxford, on wrote last. I have had a very eligible offer to a visit which I have long put off, to Gutch's lodge with a friend in town. He will have family. The sight of the Bodleian Library, rooms to let at midsummer, by which time I and, above all, a fine bust of Bishop Taylor, hope my sister will be well enough to join me. at All Souls', were particularly gratifying to It is a great object to me to live in town, where me; unluckily, it was not a family where I we shall be much more private, and to quit a could take Mary with me, and I am afraid house and a neighbourhood where poor there is something of dishonesty in any Mary's disorder, so frequently recurring, has pleasures I take without her. She never made us a sort of marked people. We can goes anywhere. I do not know what I can be nowhere private except in the midst of add to this letter, I hope you are better by London. We shall be in a family where we this time, and I desire to be affectionately visit very frequently ; only my landlord and remembered to Sarah and Hartley. I have not yet come to a conclusion. He has “I expected before this to have had tidings a partner to consult. I am still on the of another little philosopher. Lloyd's wife tremble, for I do not know where we could is on the point of favouring the world. go into lodgings that would not be, in many “Have you seen the new edition of Burns ? respects, highly exceptionable. Only God his posthumous works and letters ? I have send Mary well again, and I hope all will be only been able to procure the first volume, well! The prospect, such as it is, has made which contains his life—very confusedly and me quite happy. I have just time to tell you badly written, and interspersed with dull of it, as I know it will give you pleasure.— pathological and medical discussions. It is Farewell.
C. LAMB." written by a Dr. Currie. Do you know the
well-meaning doctor? Alas, ne sutor ultra
crepidam! This hope was accomplished, as appears
I hope to hear again from you very soon. from the following letter :
Godwin is gone to Ireland on a visit to
time with him, and he has showed me par
“ 1800. ticular attention: N.B. A thing I much “Dear Coleridge, -Soon after I wrote to like. Your books are all safe : only I have you last, an offer was made me by Gutch (you not thought it necessary to fetch away your must remember him, at Christ's,-you saw last batch, which I understand are at Johnhim, slightly, one day with Thomson at our son's, the bookseller, who has got quite as
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
much room, and will take as much care of You shall have my play and the Falstaff them as myself—and you can send for them letters in a day or two. I will write to Lloyd immediately from him.
by this day's post. "I wish you would advert to a letter I “ God bless you, Manning. Take my sent you at Grassmere about Christabel, and trifling as trifling—and believe me seriously comply with my request contained therein. and deeply your well-wisher and friend, # Love to all friends round Skiddaw.
" C. LAMB." “ C. LAMB.”
In the following letter Lamb's fantastic spirits find scope freely, though in all kind
ness, in the peculiarities of the learned and CHAPTER IV.
good George Dyer :
MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS TO MANNING, COLERIDGE,
AND WORDS WORTH.
TO MR. MANNING.
August 22nd, 1800. [1800 to 1805.]
“Dear Manning, -You needed not imagine It would seem from the letters of 1800, any apology necessary. Your fine hare and that the natural determination of Lamb “to fine birds (which just now are dangling by take what pleasure he could between the our kitchen blaze), discourse most eloquent acts of his distressful drama,” had led him music in your justification. You just nicked into a wider circle of companionship, and had my palate. For, with all due decorum and prompted sallies of wilder and broader mirth, leave may it be spoken, my worship hath which afterwards softened into delicacy, re- taken physic to-day, and being low and taining all its whim. The following passage, puling, requireth to be pampered. Foh ! how which concludes a letter to Manning, else beautiful and strong those buttered onions occupied with merely personal details, proves come to my nose. For you must know we that his apprehensions for the diminution of extract a divine spirit of gravy from those his reverence for sacred things were not materials, which, duly compounded with a wholly unfounded; while, amidst its grotesque consistence of bread and cream (y’clept breadexpressions, may be discerned the repugnance sauce), each to each, giving double grace, do to the philosophical infidelity of some of his mutually illustrate and set off (as skilful goldcompanions he retained through life. The foils to rare jewels) your partridge, pheasant, passage, may, perhaps, be regarded as a sort woodcock, snipe, teal, widgeon, and the other of desperate compromise between a wild lesser daughters of the ark. My friendship, gaiety and religious impressions obscured struggling with my carnal and fleshly prubut not effaced ; and intimating his disap- dence (which suggests that a bird a man is probation of infidelity, with a melancholy the proper allotment in such cases), yearneth sense of his own unworthiness seriously to sometimes to have thee here to pick a wing express it.
I question if your Norfolk sauces
match our London culinaric. TO MR. MANNING,
George Dyer has introduced me to the “ Coleridge inquires after you pretty often. table of an agreeable old gentleman, Dr. I wish to be the pandar to bring you to- A- who gives hot legs of mutton and gether again once before I die. When we grape pies at his sylvan lodge at Isleworth ; die, you and I must part ; the sheep, you where, in the middle of a street, he has shot know, take the right hand, and the goats the up a wall most preposterously before his left. Stripped of its allegory, you must know, small dwelling, which, with the circumstance the sheep are 1, and the Apostles and the of his taking several panes of glass out of Martyrs, and the Popes, and Bishop Taylor bedroom windows (for air) causeth his and Bishop Horsley, and Coleridge, &c. &c. ; neighbours to speculate strangely on the the goats are the Atheists and the Adulterers, state of the good man's pericranicks. Plainly, and dumb dogs, and Godwin and M .....g, he lives under the reputation of being deand that Thyestaan crew-yaw ! how my ranged. George does not mind this circumsaintship sickens at the idea !
stance ; he rather likes him the better for it.