Зображення сторінки

with you. It comes naturally, with a warm I cannot endure my own writings in that holiday, and the freshness of the blood. It state. The only one which I think would is a perfect summer amulet, that I tie round not very much win upon me in print is my legs to quicken their motion when I go Peter Bell. But I am not certain. You ask out a maying. (N.B.) I don't often go out a me about your preface. I like both that and maying ;-Must is the tense with me now. the supplement without an exception. The Do you take the pun? Young Romilly is account of what you mean by imagination is divine ; * the reasons of his mother's grief very valuable to me. It will help me to like being remediless—I never saw parental love some things in poetry better, which is a little carried up so high, towering above the other humiliating in me to confess. I thought I loves—Shakspeare had done something for could not be instructed in that science (I the filial, in Cordelia, and, by implication, mean the critical), as I once heard old obscene, for the fatherly too, in Lear's resentment; beastly Peter Pindar, in a dispute on Milton, he left it for you to explore the depths of the say he thought that if he had reason to value maternal heart. I get stupid, and flat, and himself upon one thing more than another, flattering ; what's the use of telling you what it was in knowing what good verse was. good things you have written, or—I hope I Who looked over your proof-sheets and left may add—that I know them to be good ? ordebo in that line of Virgil ? Apropos—when I first opened upon the just- “My brother's picture of Milton is very mentioned poem, in a careless tone, I said to finely painted, that is, it might have been Mary, as if putting a riddle, What is good done by a hand next to Vandyke's. It is the for a bootless bene? To which, with infinite genuine Milton, and an object of quiet gaze presence of mind, (as the jest-book has it) for the half-hour at a time. Yet though I she answered, a shoeless pea.' It was the am confident there is no better one of him, first joke she ever made. Joke the second I the face does not quite answer to Milton. make. . You distinguish well, in your old There is a tinge of petit (or petite, how do you preface, between the verses of Dr. Johnson, spell it ?) querulousness about it; yet, hang of the ‘Man in the Strand,' and that from it! now I remember better, there is not; it • The Babes in the Wood. I was thinking, is calm, melancholy and poetical. One of the whether taking your own glorious lines copies of the poems you sent has precisely

the same pleasant blending of a sheet of * And from the love wbich was in her soul For her youthful Romilly,'

second volume with a sheet of first. I think

it was page 245 ; but I sent it and had it which, by the love I bear my own soul, I rectified. It gave me, in the first impetus think have no parallel in any of the best old of cutting the leaves, just such a cold squelch ballads, and just altering it to

as going down a plausible turning and sud

denly reading 'No thoroughfare.' Robinson's * And from the great respect she felt

is entire : I wish you would write more For Sir Samuel Romilly,'

criticism about Spenser, &c. I think I could would not have explained the boundaries of say something about him myself, but, Lord prose expression, and poetic feeling, nearly bless me! these 'merchants and their spicy as well. Excuse my levity on such an occa

Abbey. The first line, printed in old English characters, sion. I never felt deeply in my life if that from some old English ballad, poem did not make me, both lately and when

• What is good for a bootless bene?” I read it in MS. No alderman ever longed after a haunch of buck venison more than I suggests Miss Lamb's single pun. The following are the for a spiritual taste of that 'White Doe' you brother's most just admiration :

profoundest stanzas among those which excite her promise. I am sure it is superlative, or will be when drest, i.e., printed. All things read

“ If for a lover the lady wept,

A solace she might borrow raw to me in MS. ; to compare magna parvis, From death and from the passion of death ;

Old Wharf might heal her sorrow. The admirable little poem, entitled “The Force of

She weeps not for the wedding-day, Prayer," developing the depths of a widowed mother's

Which was to be to-morrow: grief, whose only son has been drowned in attempting

Her hope was a further-looking hope, to leap over the precipice of the “ Wharf” at Bolton

And hers is a mother's sorrow."


drugs,' which are so harmonious to sing of, his fugitive poems, the former his Literary they lime-twig up my poor soul and body, Life. Nature, who conducts every creature, till I shall forget I ever thought myself a bit by instinct, to its best end, has skilfully of a genius ! I can't even put a few thoughts directed C.to take up his abode at a Chymist's on paper for a newspaper. I'engross' when Laboratory in Norfolk-street. She might as I should ‘pen’a paragraph. Confusion blast well have sent a Helluo Librorum for cure to all mercantile transactions, all traffic, ex- the Vatican. God keep him inviolate among change of commodities, intercourse between the traps and pitfalls ! He has done pretty! nations, all the consequent civilisation, and well as yet. wealth, and amity, and link of society, and “Tell Miss H., my sister is every day getting rid of prejudices, and knowledge of wishing to be quietly sitting down to answer the face of the globe ; and rot the very firs her very kind letter, but while C. stays she of the forest, that look so romantic alive, can hardly find a quiet time ; God bless him ! and die into desks! Vale.

“Tell Mrs. W. her postscripts are always "Yours, dear W., and all yours, agreeable. They are so legible too. Your

“ C. LAMB." manual-graphy is terrible, dark as Lycophron.

‘Likelihood, for instance, is thus typified

I should not wonder if the constant April 9th, 1816. making out of such paragraphs is the cause “ Dear Wordsworth,—Thanks for the of that weakness in Mrs. W.'s eyes, as she is | books you have given me and for all the tenderly pleased to express it. Dorothy, I books you mean to give me. I will bind up hear, has mounted spectacles ; so you have the Political Sonnets and Ode according to deoculated two of your dearest relations in your suggestion.

I have not bound the life. Well, God bless you, and continue to poems yet. I wait till people have done give you power to write with a finger of borrowing them. I think I shall get a chain power upon our hearts what you fail to and chain them to my shelves, more Bodleiano, impress, in corresponding lucidness, upon and people may come and read them at our outward eye-sight ! chain's length. For of those who borrow, “Mary's love to all ; she is quite well. some read slow ; some mean to read but “I am called off to do the deposits on don't read; and some neither read nor meant Cotton Wool-but why do I relate this to to read, but borrow to leave you an opinion you, who want faculties to comprehend the of their sagacity. I must do my money- great mystery of deposits, of interest, of borrowing friends the justice to say that warehouse rent, and contingent fund ? Adieu! there is nothing of this caprice or wantonness

“ C. LAMB. of alienation in them. When they borrow my money they never fail to make use of it. A longer letter when C. is gone back Coleridge has been here about a fortnight. into the country, relating his success, &c.His health is tolerable at present, though my judgment of your new books, &c. &c.—I beset with temptations. In the first place, am scarce quiet enough while he stays. the Covent Garden Manager has declined

“ Yours again,

C. L." accepting his Tragedy, though (having read it) I see no reason upon earth why it might not have run a very fair chance, though, The next letter is fantastically written it certainly wants a prominent part for a beneath a regular official order, the words in Miss O'Neil or a Mr. Kean. However, he italics being printed. is going to-day to write to Lord Byron to get it to Drury. Should you see Mrs. C., who i “Sir, Please to state the weights and has just written to C. a letter, which I have amounts of the following Lots of given him, it will be as well to say nothing sold Sale, 181 for about its fate, till some answer is shaped

Your obedient Servant, from Drury. He has two volumes printing

“Chas. LAMB, together at Bristol, both finished as far as the composition goes ; the latter containing

Here is a most inimitable scrawl.

better than 'Windsor Forest,’ ‘Dying ChrisAccountant's Office, 26th April, 1816.*

tian's Address,' &c. Coleridge has sent his “Dear W.,- I have just finished the tragedy to D. L. T.; it cannot be acted this pleasing task of correcting the revise of the season, and by their manner of receiving, I poems and letter. I hope they will come hope he will be able to alter it to make them out faultless. One blunder I saw and accept it for next. He is, at present, under shuddered at. The hallucinating rascal had the medical care of a Mr. Gilman (Killman ?) printed battered for battened, this last not at Highgate, where he plays at leaving off conveying any distinct sense to his gaping laud-m; I think his essentials not touched; soul. The Reader (as they call 'em) had dis- he is very bad, but then he wonderfully picks covered it, and given it the marginal brand, up another day, and his face, when he repeats but the substitutory n had not yet appeared. his verses, hath its ancient glory; an archI accompanied his notice with a most pathetic angel a little damaged. Will Miss H. address to the printer not to neglect the cor- pardon our not replying at length to her rection. I know how such a blunder would kind letter? We are not quiet enough ; 'batter at your peace. With regard to the Morgan is with us every day, going betwixt works, the Letter I read with unabated Highgate and the Temple. Coleridge is satisfaction. Such a thing was wanted ; absent but four miles, and the neighbourhood called for. The parallel of Cotton with of such a man is as exciting as the presence Burns I heartily approve. Iz. Walton hal- of fifty ordinary persons. 'Tis enough to be lows any page in which his reverend name within the whiff and wind of his genius for appears. 'Duty archly bending to purposes us not to possess our souls in quiet. If I of general benevolence' is exquisite. The lived with him or the Author of the Excursion, poems I endeavoured not to understand, but I should, in a very little time, lose my own to read them with my eye alone, and I think identity, and be dragged along in the current I succeeded. (Some people will do that of other people's thoughts, hampered in a when they come out, you'll say.) As if I net. How cool I sit in this office, with no were to luxuriate to-morrow at some picture- possible interruption further than what I gallery I was never at before, and going by may term material! There is not as much to-day by chance, found the door open, and metaphysics in thirty-six of the people here having but five minutes to look about me, as there is in the first page of Locke's peeped in ; just such a chastised peep I took · Treatise on the Human Understanding,' with my mind at the lines my luxuriating or as much poetry as in any ten lines of the eye was coursing over unrestrained, not to " Pleasures of Hope, or more natural 'Beganticipate another day's fuller satisfaction. gar's Petition. I never entangle myself in Coleridge is printing Christabel,' by Lord any of their speculations. Interruptions, if Byron's recommendation to Murray, with I try to write a letter even, I have dreadful. what he calls a vision, 'Kubla Khan,' which Just now, within four lines, I was called off said vision he repeats so enchantingly that it for ten minutes to consult dusty old books irradiates and brings heaven and elysian for the settlement of obsolete errors. I hold bowers into my parlour while he sings or you a guinea you don't find the chasm where says it; but there is an observation, ‘Never I• left off

, so excellently the wounded sense tell thy dreams,' and I am almost afraid that closed again and was healed. “Kubla Khan' is an owl that won't bear day-light. I fear lest it should be discovered “N.B.-Nothing said above to the conby the lantern of typography and clear re- trary, but that I hold the personal presence ducting to letters no better than nonsense of the two mentioned potent spirits at a rate or no sense. When I was young, I used to as high as any ; but I pay dearer ; what chant with ecstacy "MILD ARCADIANS EVER amuses others robs me of myself; my mind BLOOMING,’ till somebody told me it was is positively discharged into their greater meant to be nonsense. Even yet I have a currents, but flows with a willing violence. lingering attachment to it, and I think it As to your question about work; it is far • This is shown by the postmark to be an error ; it

less oppressive to me than it was, from circumstances; it takes all the golden part of

should be 1818.



the day away, a solid lump, from ten to four; matters, but in a judicious and steady superbut it does not kill my peace as before. Some intendence of the whole ; with a wise allowday or other I shall be in a taking again. My ance of the occasional excesses of wit and head aches, and you have had enough. God genius. In this respect, Mr. Scott differed bless you!

C. LAMB.” entirely from a celebrated poet, who was

induced, just a year after, to undertake the Editorship of the “New Monthly Magazine," an office for which, it may be said, with all veneration for his poetic genius, he was the

most unfit person who could be found in the CHAPTER VII.

wide world of letters—who regarded a maga-CHARACTER AND FATE OF zine as if it were a long affidavit, or a short


answer in Chancery, in which the absolute MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS OF LAMB TO WORDSWORTH, truth of every sentiment and the propriety of

every jest were verified by the editor's oath [1818 to 1825.]

or solemn affirmation ; who stopped the press LAMB's association with Hazlitt in the year for a week at a comma ; balanced contending 1820 introduced him to that of the “ London epithets for a fortnight; and, at last, grew Magazine,” which supplied the finest sti- rash in despair, and tossed the nearest, and mulus his intellect had ever received, and often the worst article, “unwhipped of induced the composition of the Essays fondly justice,” to the impatient printer. Mr. Scott, and familiarly known under the fantastic indeed, was more fit to preside over a little title of Elia. Never was a periodical work commonwealth of authors than to hold a commenced with happier auspices, numbering despotic rule over subject contributors ; he a list of contributors more original in thought, had not the airy grace of Jeffrey by which more fresh in spirit, more sportive in fancy, he might give a certain familiar liveliness to or directed by an editor better qualified by the most laborious disquisitions, and shed nature and study to preside, than this the glancing light of fancy among party “ London.” There was Lamb, with humanity manifestoes ;—nor the boisterous vigour of ripened among town-bred experiences, and Wilson, riotous in power, reckless in wisdom, pathos matured by sorrow, at his wisest, fusing the production of various intellects, sagest, airiest, indiscreetest, best ; Barry into one brilliant reflection of his own masterCornwall, in the first bloom of his modest mind;- and it was well that he wanted and enduring fame, streaking the darkest these weapons of a tyranny which his chief passion with beauty ; John Hamilton Rey-contributors were too original and too sturdy nolds, lighting up the wildest eccentricities to endure. He heartily enjoyed his position ; and most striking features of many-coloured duly appreciated his contributors and himlife with vivid fancy; and, with others of self; and when he gave audience to some less note, Hazlitt, whose pen, unloosed from young aspirant for periodical honours at a the chain which earnest thought and meta- late breakfast, amidst the luxurious conphysical dreamings had woven, gave radiant fusion of newspapers, reviews, and uncut expression to the results of the solitary novels, lying about in fascinating litter, and musings of many years. Over these con- carelessly enunciated schemes for bright suctributors John Scott presided, himself a cessions of essays, he seemed destined for critic of remarkable candour, eloquence, and many years of that happy excitement in discrimination, unfettered by the dogmas of which thought perpetually glows into uncontending schools of poetry and art; apt to ruffled but energetic language, and is assured discern the good and beautiful in all ; and by the echoes of the world. having, as editor, that which Kent recog Alas! a few days after he thus appeared nised in Lear, which subjects revere in the object of admiration and envy to a young kings, and boys admire in schoolmasters, visitor, in his rooms in York-street, he was and contributors should welcome in editors stretched on a bed of mental agony - the -authority ;—not manifested in a worrying, foolish victim of the guilty custom of a teasing, intolerable interference in small world which would have laughed at him for

regarding himself as within the sphere of its of an English Opium Eater,” held a distinopinion, if he had not died to shame it! In guished place. Mr. De Quincy, whose youth a luckless hour, instead of seeking to oppose had been inspired by enthusiastic admiration the bitter personalities of “Blackwood” by of Coleridge, shown in contributions to “The the exhibition of a serener power, he rushed Friend,” not unworthy of his master, and with spurious chivalry into a personal con- substantial contributions of the blessings of test ; caught up the weapons which he had fortune, came up to London, and found an himself denounced, and sought to unmask admiring welcome from Messrs. Taylor and his opponents and draw them beyond the Hessey, the publishers into whose hands the pale of literary courtesy ; placed himself “ London Magazine” had passed. After the thus in a doubtful position in which he could good old fashion of the GREAT TRADE, these neither consistently reject an appeal to the genial booksellers used to assemble their conventional arbitrament of violence nor contributors round their hospitable table in embrace it ; lost his most legitimate oppor- Fleet Street, where Mr. De Quincy was introtunity of daring the unhallowed strife, and duced to his new allies. Among the contrifound another with an antagonist connected butors who partook of their professional with the quarrel only by too zealous a festivities, was a gentleman whose subsefriendship ; and, at last, met his death almost quent career has invested the recollection by lamentable accident, in the uncertain of his appearances in the familiarity of glimmer of moonlight, from the hand of one social life with fearful interest-Mr. Thomas who went out resolved not to harm him ! Griffiths Wainwright. He was then a young Such was the melancholy result—first of a man; on the bright side of thirty; with a controversy too envenomed-and afterwards sort of undress military air, and the converof enthralment in usages, absurd in all, but sation of a smart, lively, clever, heartless, most absurd when applied by a literary man voluptuous coxcomb. It was whispered that to a literary quarrel. Apart from higher he had been an officer in the Dragoons ; had considerations, it may befit a life destined for spent more than one fortune ; and he now the listless excesses of gaiety to be cast on condescended to take a part in periodical an idle brawl ;—"a youth of folly, an old literature, with the careless grace of an age of cards” may be no great sacrifice to amateur who felt himself above it. He was preserve the hollow truce of fashionable an artist also ; sketched boldly and graphisociety ; but for men of thought— whose cally; exhibited a portfolio of his own minds are their possession, and who seek to drawings of female beauty, in which the live in the minds of others by sympathy with voluptuous trembled on the borders of the their thoughts—for them to hazard a thought- indelicate ; and seized on the critical departful being because they dare not own that ment of the Fine Arts, both in and out of they prefer life to death—contemplation to the Magazine, undisturbed by the presence the grave—the preparation for eternity to or pretensions of the finest critic on Art the unbidden entrance on its terrors, would who ever wrote-William Hazlitt. On this be ridiculous if it did not become tragical. subject, he composed, for the Magazine, “ Sir, I am a metaphysician !” said Hazlitt under the signature of “Janus Weatheronce, when in a fierce dispute respecting the cock,” articles of flashy assumption — in colours of Holbein and Vandyke, words which disdainful notices of living artists were almost became things; "and nothing makes set off by fascinating references to the peran impression upon me but abstract ideas ;” sonal appearance, accomplishments, and luxuand woeful, indeed, is the mockery when rious appliances of the writer, ever the first thinkers condescend to be duellists !

hero of his essay. He created a new sensaThe Magazine did not perish with its tion in the sedate circle, not only by his Editor ; though its unity of purpose was lost, braided surtouts, jewelled fingers, and variit was still rich in essays of surpassing indi- ous neck-handkerchiefs, but by ostentatious vidual merit ; among which the masterly contempt for everything in the world but vindication of the true dramatic style by elegant enjoyment. Lamb, who delighted to Darley ; the articles of Cary, the admirable find sympathy in dissimilitude, fancied that translator of Dante ; and the “ Confessions he really liked him ; took, as he ever did,

« НазадПродовжити »