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MISS LAMB TO MRS. HAZLITT.
things to say should be silenced for want of time. My rooms are luxurious; one is for 1001. This Custom-and-Duty-Age would prints and one for books ; a summer and a have made the Preacher on the Mount take winter-parlour. When shall I ever see you out a licence, and St. Paul's Epistles not in them ?
C. L.” missible without a stamp. O that you may find means to go on! But alas ! where is Sir G. Beaumont ?-Sotheby? What is become of the rich Auditors in Albemarle
“ November 7th, 1809. Street ? Your letter has saddened me.
“My dear Sarah,--The dear, quiet, lazy, “ I am so tired with my journey, being up delicious month we spent with you is rememall night, I have neither things nor words bered by me with such regret that I feel in my power. I believe I expressed my quite discontented and Winterslow-sick. I admiration of the pamphlet. •Its power over assure you I never passed such a pleasant me was like that which Milton's pamphlets time in the country in my life, both in the must have had on his contemporaries, who house and out of it - the card-playing were tuned to them. What a piece of quarrels, and a few gaspings for breath, prose! Do you hear if it is read at all ? after your swift footsteps up the high hills, I am out of the world of readers. I hate all excepted ; and those draw-backs are not that do read, for they read nothing but unpleasant in the recollection. We have got reviews and new books. I gather myself up some salt butter, to make our toast seem unto the old things.
like yours, and we have tried to eat meat “ I have put up shelves. You never saw suppers, but that would not do, for we left a book-case in more true harmony with the our appetites behind us, and the dry loaf, contents, than what I've nailed up in a room, which offended you, now comes in at night which, though new, has more aptitudes for unaccompanied; but, sorry am I to add, it growing old than you shall often see—as is soon followed by the pipe. We smoked one sometimes gets a friend in the middle of the very first night of our arrival. life, who becomes an old friend in a short “ Great news! I have just been inter
continues to cover it; not a ray of meaning dawns with the Pope and the conclave of Cardinals inclusively, through it. With sullen and angry hope he reaches for as strike a spark of light from the words, and nothing but the Vulgate, his old and sworn enemy, the treacherous words, of the Alexandrine version. Disappointed, deconfederate of the Roman Antichrist, which he so gladly, spondent, enraged, ceasing to think, yet continuing his when he can, rebukes for idolatrous falsehood, that had brain on the stretch in solicitation of a thought; and dared place
gradually giving himself up to angry fancies, to recollec. . Within the sanctuary itself their shrines,
tions of past persecutions, to uneasy fears, and inward Abominations
defiances, and floating images of the Evil Being, their
supposed personal author; he sinks, without perceiving Now-O thought of humiliation-he must entreat its it, into a trance of slumber; during which his brain aid. See! there has the sly spirit of apostacy worked-in retains its waking energies, excepting that what would a phrase, which favours the doctrine of purgatory, the have been mere thoughts before, now, (the action and intercession of saints, or the efficacy of prayers for the counterweight of his senses and of their impressions dead; and what is worst of all, the interpretation is being withdrawn) shape and condense themselves into plausible. The original Hebrew might be forced into things, into realities ! Repeatedly half-wakening, and this meaning: and no other meaning seems to lic in it, his eye-lids as often reciosing, the objects which really none to hover above it in the heights of allegory, none to surround him form the place and scenery of his dream. lurk beneath it even in the depths of Cabala! This is the all at once he sees the arch-fiend coming forth on the work of the Tempter; it is a cloud of darkness conjured wall of the room, from the very spot, perhaps, on which up between the truth of the sacred letters and the eyes his eyes had been fixed, vacantly, during the perplexed of his understanding, by the malice of the evil-one, and moments of his former meditation : the inkstand which for a trial of his faith! Must he then at length confess, he had at the same time been using, becomes associated must he subscribe the name of LUTHER to an exposition with it; and in that struggle of rage, which in these which consecrates a weapon for the hand of the idolatrous distempered dreams almost constantly precedes the helpHierarchy? Never! Never !
less terror by the pain of which we are finally awakened, “ There still remains one auxiliary in reserve, the he imagines that he hurls it at the intruder, or not translation of the Seventy. The Alexandrine Greeks, improbably in the first instant of awakening, while yet anterior to the Church itself, could intend no support to both his imagination and his eyes are possessed by the its corruptions The Septuagint will have profaned the dream, he actually hurls it. Some wecks after, perhaps, Altar of Truth with no incense for the nostrils of the during which interval he had often mused on the universal Bishop to snuff up. And here again his hopes incident, undetermined whether to deem it a visitation are baffled ! Exactly at this perplexed passage had the of Satan to him in the body or out of the body, he disGreek translator given his understanding a holiday, and covers for the first time the dark spot on his wall, and made his pen supply its place. O honoured Luther! as receives it as a sign and pledge vouchsafed to him of the easily mightest thou convert the whole City of Rome, event having actually taken place.”
rupted by Mr. Daw, who came to tell me he “Charles told Mrs. - Hazlitt had found was yesterday elected a Royal Academician. a well in his garden, which, water being He said none of his own friends voted for scarce in your county, would bring him in him, he got it by strangers, who were pleased two hundred a year; and she came, in great with his picture of Mrs. White.
haste, the next morning, to ask me if it were “ Charles says he does not believe North- true. cote ever voted for the admission of any one. “Your brother and sister are quite well." Though a very cold day, Daw was in a prodigious perspiration, for joy at his good fortune.
The country excursions, with which Lamb “More great news! My beautiful green sometimes occupied his weeks of vacation, curtains were put up yesterday, and all the were taken with fear and trembling-often doors listed with green baize, and four new foregone—and finally given up, in conseboards put to the coal-hole, and fastening quence of the sad effects which the excitehasps put to the windows, and my dyed ments of travel and change produced in his Manning-silk cut out.
beloved companion. The following refers to “ We had a good cheerful meeting on
one of these disasters :Wednesday, much talk of Winterslow, its woods and its sun-flowers. I did not so much
TO MR. HAZLITT. like P—at Winterslow as I now like him
“ August 9th, 1810. for having been with us at Winterslow. “Dear H., -Epistemon is not well. Our We roasted the last of his ‘Beech of oily pleasant excursion has ended sadly for one nut prolific' on Friday at the Captain's. of us. You will guess I mean my sister. Nurse is now established in Paradise, alias She got home very well (I was very ill on the incurable ward of Westminster Hospital. the journey) and continued so till Monday I have seen her sitting in most superb state, night, when her complaint came on, and she surrounded by her seven incurable com- is now absent from home. panions. They call each other ladies ; nurse “I am glad to hear you are all well. I looks as if she would be considered as the think I shall be mad if I take any more first lady in the ward; only one seemed at journeys with two experiences against it. I all likely to rival her in dignity.
find all well here. Kind remembrances to “A man in the India House has resigned, Sarah,—have just got her letter. by which Charles will get twenty pounds a “H. Robinson has been to Blenheim, he year, and White has prevailed on him to says you will be sorry to hear that we should write some more lottery puffs ; if that ends not have asked for the Titian Gallery there. in smoke the twenty pounds is a sure card, One of his friends knew of it, and asked to and has made us very joyful.
see it. It is never shown but to those who "I continue very well, and return you inquire for it. very sincere thanks for my good health and “The pictures are all Titians, Jupiter and improved looks, which have almost made Ledas, Mars and Venuses, &c., all naked Mrs. — die with envy. She longs to come pictures, which may be a reason they don't to Winterslow as much as the spiteful elder show it to females. But he says they are sister did to go to the well for a gift to spit very fine; and perhaps it is shown separately diamonds.
to put another fee into the shower's pocket. “Jane and I have agreed to boil a round Well, I shall never see it. of beef for your suppers when you come to “I have lost all wish for sights. God bless town again. She (Jane) broke two of the you. I shall be glad to see you in London. Hogarth glasses, while we were away, where
“ Yours truly, C. LAMB." at I made a great noise. Farewell. Love
“ Thursday.” to William, and Charles's love and good wishes for the speedy arrival of the Life of Holcroft,' and the bearer thereof.
Mr. Wordsworth's Essay on Epitaphs, Yours, most affectionately, afterwards appended to “The Excursion,"
M. LAMB. produced the following letter :
E. I. Ho.
LETTERS TO WORDSWORTH, ETC., CHIEFLY RESPECTING
through so many thousand applications, TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
many of them no doubt quite misplaced, as “ Friday, 19th Oct. 1810.
I have seen in Islington churchyard (I think) “Dear W.,-Mary has been very ill, which an Epitaph to an infant, who died ' Ætatis you have heard, I suppose, from the Mon- four months,' with this seasonable inscription tagues. She is very weak and low spirited appended, 'Honour thy father and thy now. I was much pleased with your con- mother ; that thy days may be long in the tinuation of the Essay on Epitaphs. It is land,' &c. Sincerely wishing your children the only sensible thing which has been long life to honour, &c. written on that subject, and it goes to the
“I remain, C. LAMB." bottom. In particular I was pleased with your translation of that turgid epitaph into the plain feeling under it. It is perfectly a test. But what is the reason we have no good epitaphs after all ? “A very striking instance of your position
CHAPTER VI. might be found in the churchyard of Dittonupon-Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton-upon-Thames has been blessed by the
[1815 to 1818.) residence of a poet, who, for love or money, The admirers of Wordsworth—few, but I do not well know which, has dignified energetic and hopeful—were delighted, and every grave-stone, for the last few years, his opponents excited to the expression of with bran-new verses, all different, and all their utmost spleen, by the appearance, in ingenious, with the author's name at the 1814, of “The Excursion,” in the quarto bottom of each. This sweet Swan of Thames form marked by the bitter flippancy of Lord has artfully diversified his strains and his Byron); and by the publication, in 1815, of rhymes, that the same thought never occurs two volumes of Poems, some of which only twice ; more justly, perhaps, as no thought were new. The following letters are chiefly ever occurs at all, there was a physical expressive of Lamb's feelings respecting these impossibility that the same thought should remarkable works, and the treatment which recur. It is long since I saw and read these his own Review of the latter received from inscriptions, but I remember the impression Mr. Gifford, then the Editor of the Quarterly was of a smug usher at his desk in the Review, for which it was written. The folintervals of instruction, levelling his pen. lowing letter is in acknowledgment of an Of death, as it consists of dust and worms, early copy of “The Excursion.” and mourners and uncertainty, he had never thought ; but the word 'death' he had often seen separate and conjunct with other words, till he had learned to speak of all its attributes “Dear Wordsworth,-I cannot tell you as glibly as Unitarian Belsham will discuss how pleased I was at the receipt of the great you the attributes of the word 'God’in a armful of poetry which you have sent me; pulpit ; and will talk of infinity with a tongue and to get it before the rest of the world too ! that dangles from a skull that never reached I have gone quite through with it, and was in thought and thorough imagination two thinking to have accomplished that pleasure inches, or further than from his hand to his a second time before I wrote to thank you, mouth, or from the vestry to the sounding- but M. B. came in the night (while we were board of the pulpit.
out) and made holy theft of it, but we expect “But the epitaphs were trim, and sprag, restitution in a day or two. It is the noblest and patent, and pleased the survivors of conversational poem I ever read-a day in Thames Ditton above the old mumpsimus of Heaven. The part (or rather main body) ‘Aflictions Sore.'.... To do justice though, which has left the sweetest odour on my it must be owned that even the excellent memory (a bad term for the remains of an feeling which dictated this dirge when new, impression so recent) is the Tales of the must have suffered something in passing Church-yard ;-the only girl among seven
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
brethren, born out of due time, and not many more, for it will be a stock book with duly taken away again ;—the deaf man me while eyes or spectacles shall be lent me. and the blind man ;-the Jacobite and the There is a great deal of noble matter about Hanoverian, whom antipathies reconcile ; mountain scenery, yet not so much as the Scarron-entry of the rusticating parson to overpower and discountenance a poor upon his solitude ;—these were all new to Londoner south-countryman entirely, me too. My having known the story of though Mary seems to have felt it occasion. Margaret (at the beginning), a very old ally a little too powerfully, for it was her acquaintance, even as long back as when I remark during reading it, that by your saw you first at Stowey, did not make her system it was doubtful whether a liver in reappearance less fresh. I don't know what towns had a soul to be saved. She almost to pick out of this best of books upon the trembled for that invisible part of us in her. best subjects for partial naming. That “ Save for a late excursion to Harrow, and gorgeous sunset is famous ;* I think it must a day or two on the banks of the Thames have been the identical one we saw on Salis- this summer, rural images were fast fading bury Plain five years ago, that drew P
from my mind, and by the wise provision of from the card-table, where he had sat from the Regent, all that was country-fy'd in the rise of that luminary to its unequalled Parks is all but obliterated. The very colour setting ; but neither he nor I had gifted eyes of green is vanished ; the whole surface of to see those symbols of common things glo- Hyde Park is dry crumbling sand (Arabia rified, such as the prophets saw them in Arenosa), not a vestige or hint of grass ever that sunset— the wheel, the potter's clay, having grown there ; booths and drinkingthe washpot, the wine-press, the almond- places go all round it for a mile and half, I tree rod, the baskets of figs, the four-fold am confident-I might say two miles in visaged head, the throne, and Him that sat circuit—the stench of liquors, bad tobacco, thereon.t
dirty people and provisions, conquers the air, “One feeling I was particularly struck and we are stifled and suffocated in Hyde with, as what I recognised so very lately at Park.” Harrow Church on entering in it after a hot and secular day's pleasure, the instantaneous coolness and calming, almost transforming Lamb was delighted with the proposition, properties of a country church just entered ; made through Southey, that he should rea certain fragrance which it has, either from view “The Excursion ” in the “Quarterly ” its holiness, or being kept shut all the though he had never before attempted week, or the air that is let in being pure contemporaneous criticism, and cherished a country, exactly what you have reduced into dislike to it, which the event did not diminish. words—but I am feeling that which I cannot The ensuing letter was addressed while meexpress. The reading your lines about it ditating on his office, and uneasy lest he fixed me for a time, a monument in Harrow should lose it for want of leisure. Church ; do you know it ? with its fine long spire, white as washed marble, to be seen, by
TO MR. WORDSWORTH. vantage of its high site, as far as Salisbury spire itself almost.
“My dear W.—I have scarce time or quiet “I shall select a day or two, very shortly, to explain my present situation, how unquiet when I am coolest in brain, to have a steady and distracted it is, owing to the absence of second reading, which I feel will lead to some of my compeers, and to the deficient
• The passage to which the allusion applies does not state of payments at E. I. H., owing to bad picture a sunset, but the effect of sunlight on a receding peace speculations in the calico market. (I mist among the mountains, in the second book of “ The write this to W. W., Esq., Collector of Stamp Excursion."
Duties for the conjoint Northern Counties, “ Fix'd resemblances were seen To implements of ordinary use,
not to W. W., Poet.) I go back, and have But vast in size, in substance glorified ;
for these many days past, to evening work, Such as by Hebrew Prophets were beheld In vision-forms uncouth of mightiest powers,
generally at the rate of nine hours a day. For admiration and mysterious awe."
The nature of my work, too, puzzling and
hurrying, has so shaken my spirits, that its being a characteristic speech. That it my sleep is nothing but a succession of was no settled comparative estimate of Voldreams of business I cannot do, of as- taire with any of his own tribe of buffoonssistants that give me no assistance, of no injustice, even if you spoke it, for I dared terrible responsibilities. I reclaimed your say you never could relish "Candide. I book, which Hazlitt has uncivilly kept, only know I tried to get through it about a two days ago, and have made shift to read it twelvemonth since, and couldn't for the again with shattered brain. It does not lose dulness. Now I think I have a wider range -rather some parts have come out with a in buffoonery than you. Too much toleraprominence I did not perceive before—but tion perhaps. such was my aching head yesterday (Sunday), “I finish this after a raw ill-baked dinner that the book was like a mountain landscape fast gobbled up to set me off to office again, to one that should walk on the edge of a after working there till near four. O how I precipice; I perceived beauty dizzily. Now, wish I were a rich man, even though I were what I would say is, that I see no prospect squeezed camel-fashion at getting through of a quiet half-day, or hour even, till this that needle's eye that is spoken of in the week and the next are past. I then hope to Written Word. Apropos ; is the Poet of get four weeks'absence, and if then is time The Excursion’a Christian ? or is it the enough to begin, I will most gladly do what Pedlar and the Priest that are ? is required, though I feel my inability, for “I find I miscalled that celestial splendour my brain is always desultory, and snatches of the mist going off, a sunset. That only off hints from things, but can seldom follow shows my inaccuracy of head. a 'work' methodically. But that shall be "Do, pray, indulge me by writing an
What I beg you to do is, to let answer to the point of time mentioned above, me know from Southey, if that will be time or let Southey. I am ashamed to go bargainenough for the 'Quarterly.' i. e., suppose it ing in this way, but indeed I have no time I done in three weeks from this date (19th can reckon on till the first week in October. Sept.) : if not, it is my bounden duty to God send I may not be disappointed in that! express my regret, and decline it. Mary Coleridge swore in a letter to me he would thanks
you, and feels highly grateful for review 'The Excursion' in the 'Quarterly.' your í Patent of Nobility,' and acknowledges Therefore, though that shall not stop me, yet the author of 'The Excursion 'as the legiti- if I can do anything, when done, I must know mate Fountain of Honour. We both agree, of him if he has anything ready, or I shall that, to our feeling, Ellen is best as she is. fill the world with loud exclaims. To us there would have been something re- “I keep writing on, knowing the postage pugnant in her challenging her Penance as a is no more for much writing, else so fagged Dowry; the fact is explicable, but how few and dispirited I am with cursed India House are those to whom it would have been work, I scarce know what I do. My left rendered explicit. The unlucky reason of arm reposes on · The Excursion.' I feel the detention of The Excursion ’was Hazlitt, what it would be in quiet. It is now a for whom M. Burney borrowed it, and, after sealed book.” reiterated messages, I only got it on Friday. His remarks had some vigour in them ; particularly something about an old ruin The next letter was written after the fatal being too modern for your Primeval Nature, critique was despatched to the Editor, and and about a lichen. I forget the passage, but before its appearance. the whole wore an air of despatch. That objection which M. Burney had imbibed * The passage in which the copy of “ Candide," found from him about Voltaire, I explained to in the apartment of the Recluse, is described as “ the M. B. (or tried) exactly on your principle of Hazlitt to energetic vindication of Voltaire from the
dull production of a scotfer's brain," which had excited charge of dulness.
Whether the work, written in This refers to an article of Ilazlitt on " The Excur- mockery of human hopes, be dull, I will not venture to sion” in the “Examiner,” very tine in passages, but determine ; but I do not hesitate, at any risk, to avow a more characteristic of the critic than descriptive of the
conviction that no book in the world is more adapted to make a good man wretched.