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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5
Edited by E. V. Lucas
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I beg you will give me your opinion of the translation; it afforded me high pleasure. As curious a specimen of translation as ever fell into my hands, is a young man's in our office, of a French novel. What in the original was literally "amiable delusions of the fancy," he proposed to render "the fair frauds of the imagination!" I had much trouble in licking the book into any meaning at all. Yet did the knave clear fifty or sixty pounds by subscription and selling the copyright. The book itself not a week's work! To-day's portion of my journalising epistle has been very dull and poverty-stricken. I will here end.

Tuesday Night.

I have been drinking egg-hot and smoking Oronooko (associated circumstances, which ever forcibly recall to my mind our evenings and nights at the Salutation); my eyes and brain are heavy and asleep, but my heart is awake; and if words came as ready as ideas, and ideas as feelings, I could say ten hundred kind things. Coleridge, you know not my supreme happiness at having one on earth (though counties separate us) whom I can call a friend. Remember you those tender lines of Logan?—

"Our broken friendships we deplore, And loves of youth that are no more; No after friendships e'er can raise Th' endearments of our early days, And ne'er the heart such fondness prove, As when we first began to love."

I am writing at random, and half-tipsy, what you may not equally understand, as you will be sober when you read it; but my sober and my half-tipsy hours you are alike a sharer in. Good night.

"Then up rose our bard, like a prophet in drink, Craigdoroch, thou'lt soar when creation shall sink."

BURNS.

Thursday [June 16, 1796].

I am now in high hopes to be able to visit you, if perfectly convenient on your part, by the end of next month—perhaps the last week or fortnight in July. A change of scene and a change of faces would do me good, even if that scene were not to be Bristol, and those faces Coleridge's and his friends. In the words of Terence, a little altered, "Taedet me hujus quotidiani mundi." I am heartily sick of the every-day scenes of life. I shall half wish you unmarried (don't show this to Mrs. C.) for one evening only, to have the pleasure of smoking with you, and drinking egg-hot in some little smoky room in a pot-house, for I know not yet how I shall like you in a decent room, and looking quite happy. My best love and respects to Sara notwithstanding.

Yours sincerely, CHARLES LAMB.

[Coleridge's image of melancholy will be found in the lines "Melancholy—a fragment." It was published in Sibylline Leaves, 1817, and in a note Coleridge said that the verses were printed in the Morning Chronicle in 1794. They were really printed in the Morning Post, December 12, 1797. Coleridge had probably sent them to Lamb in MS. The "hymns" came to nothing.

"The following lines." Lamb's poem "The Grandame" was presumably included in this letter. See Vol. IV. Mary Field, Lamb's grandmother, died July 31, 1792, aged seventy-nine, and was buried in Widford churchyard. She had been for many years housekeeper in the Plumer family at Blakesware. On William Plumer's moving to Gilston, a neighbouring seat, in 1767, she had sole charge of the Blakesware mansion, where her grandchildren used to visit her. Compare Lamb's Elia essays "Blakesmoor in H——shire" and "Dream-Children,"

N. Biggs was the printer of Coleridge's Poems, 1797.

Lamb had begun his amendment of Coleridge's "Monody on the Death of Chatterton" in his letter of June 10. Coleridge's illustrative personifications, here referred to, are in that poem. The extract book from which Lamb copied his quotations from Beaumont and Fletcher and Massinger was, he afterwards tells us, destroyed; but similar volumes, which he filled later, are preserved. Many of his extracts he included in his Dramatic Specimens.

Writing to Charles Lloyd, sen., in 1809, Lamb says of Cowper as a translator of Homer that he "delays you ... walking over a Bowling Green."

Canon Ainger possessed a copy of the book translated by Lamb's fellow-clerk. It was called Sentimental Tablets of the Good Pamphile. "Translated from the French of M. Gorjy by P. S. Dupuy of the East India House, 1795." Among the subscribers' names were Thomas Bye (5 copies), Ball, Evans, Savory (2 copies), and Lamb himself.]



LETTER 5

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

[Probably begun on Wednesday, June 29. P.M. July 1, 1796.]

The first moment I can come I will, but my hopes of coming yet a while yet hang on a ticklish thread. The coach I come by is immaterial as I shall so easily by your direction find ye out. My mother is grown so entirely helpless (not having any use of her limbs) that Mary is necessarily confined from ever sleeping out, she being her bed fellow. She thanks you tho' and will accompany me in spirit. Most exquisite are the lines from Withers. Your own lines introductory to your poem on Self run smoothly and pleasurably, and I exhort you to continue 'em. What shall I say to your Dactyls? They are what you would call good per se, but a parody on some of 'em is just now suggesting itself, and you shall have it rough and unlicked. I mark with figures the lines parodied.

4.—Sorely your Dactyls do drag along lim'p-footed. 5.—Sad is the measure that han'gs a clod round 'em so, 6.—Meagre, and lan'guid, proclaiming its wretchedness. 1.—Weary, unsatisfied, not little sic'k of 'em. 11.—Cold is my tired heart, I have no charity. 2.—Painfully trav'lling thus over the rugged road. 7.—O begone, Measure, half Latin, half En'glish, then. 12.—Dismal your Dactyls are, God help ye, rhyming Ones.

I possibly may not come this fortnight—therefore all thou hast to do is not to look for me any particular day, only to write word immediately if at any time you quit Bristol, lest I come and Taffy be not at home. I hope I can come in a day or two. But young Savory of my office is suddenly taken ill in this very nick of time and I must officiate for him till he can come to work again. Had the knave gone sick and died and putrefied at any other time, philosophy might have afforded one comfort, but just now I have no patience with him. Quarles I am as great a stranger to as I was to Withers. I wish you would try and do something to bring our elder bards into more general fame. I writhe with indignation when in books of Criticism, where common place quotation is heaped upon quotation, I find no mention of such men as Massinger, or B. and Fl, men with whom succeeding Dramatic Writers (Otway alone excepted) can bear no manner of comparison. Stupid Knox hath noticed none of 'em among his extracts.

Thursday.—Mrs. C. can scarce guess how she has gratified me by her very kind letter and sweet little poem. I feel that I should thank her in rhyme, but she must take my acknowledgment at present in plain honest prose. The uncertainty in which I yet stand whether I can come or no damps my spirits, reduces me a degree below prosaical, and keeps me in a suspense that fluctuates between hope and fear. Hope is a charming, lively, blue-eyed wench, and I am always glad of her company, but could dispense with the visitor she brings with her, her younger sister, Fear, a white-liver'd, lilly-cheeked, bashful, palpitating, awkward hussey, that hangs like a green girl at her sister's apronstrings, and will go with her whithersoever she goes. For the life and soul of me I could not improve those lines in your poem on the Prince and Princess, so I changed them to what you bid me and left 'em at Perry's. I think 'em altogether good, and do not see why you were sollicitous about any alteration. I have not yet seen, but will make it my business to see, to-day's Chronicle, for your verses on Horne Took. Dyer stanza'd him in one of the papers t'other day, but I think unsuccessfully. Tooke's friends' meeting was I suppose a dinner of CONDOLENCE. I am not sorry to find you (for all Sara) immersed in clouds of smoke and metaphysic. You know I had a sneaking kindness for this last noble science, and you taught me some smattering of it. I look to become no mean proficient under your tuition. Coleridge, what do you mean by saying you wrote to me about Plutarch and Porphyry—I received no such letter, nor remember a syllable of the matter, yet am not apt to forget any part of your epistles, least of all an injunction like that. I will cast about for 'em, tho' I am a sad hand to know what books are worth, and both those worthy gentlemen are alike out of my line. To-morrow I shall be less suspensive and in better cue to write, so good bye at present.

Friday Evening.—That execrable aristocrat and knave Richardson has given me an absolute refusal of leave! The poor man cannot guess at my disappointment. Is it not hard, "this dread dependance on the low bred mind?" Continue to write to me tho', and I must be content—Our loves and best good wishes attend upon you both.

LAMB.

Savory did return, but there are 2 or 3 more ill and absent, which was the plea for refusing me. I will never commit my peace of mind by depending on such a wretch for a favor in future, so shall never have heart to ask for holidays again. The man next him in office, Cartwright, furnished him with the objections.

C. LAMB.

[The Dactyls were Coleridge's only in the third stanza; the remainder were Southey's. The poem is known as "The Soldier's Wife," printed in Southey's Poems, 1797. Later Southey revised the verses. The Anti-Jacobin had a parody of them.

Young Savory was probably a relative of Hester Savory, whom we shall meet later. He entered the East India House on the same day that Lamb did.

We do not know what were the lines from Wither which Coleridge had sent to Lamb; but Lamb himself eventually did much to bring him and the elder bards into more general fame—in the Dramatic Specimens, 1808, and in the essay "On the Poetical Works of George Wither," in the Works, 1818.

Stupid Knox was Vicesimus Knox (1752-1821), the editor of Elegant Extracts in many forms.

"Her ... sweet little poem." Sara Coleridge's verses no longer exist. See Lamb's next letter for his poetical reply.

Coleridge's poem on the Prince and Princess, "On a Late Connubial Rupture in High Life," was not accepted by Perry, of the Morning Chronicle. It appeared in the Monthly Magazine, September, 1796. The "Verses addressed to J. Horne Tooke and the company who met on June 28, 1796, to celebrate his poll at the Westminster Election" were not printed in the Morning Chronicle. Tooke had opposed Charles James Fox, who polled 5,160 votes, and Sir Alan Gardner, who polled 4,814, against his own 2,819.

Dyer was George Dyer (1755-1841), an old Christ's Hospitaller (but before Lamb and Coleridge's time), of whom we shall see much—Lamb's famous "G.D."

William Richardson was Accountant-General of the East India House at that time; Charles Cartwright, his Deputy.]



LETTER 6

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

The 5th July, 1796. [P.M. Same date.]

TO SARA AND HER SAMUEL

Was it so hard a thing? I did but ask A fleeting holy day. One little week, Or haply two, had bounded my request.

What if the jaded Steer, who all day long Had borne the heat and labour of the plough, When Evening came and her sweet cooling hour, Should seek to trespass on a neighbour copse, Where greener herbage waved, or clearer streams Invited him to slake his burning thirst? That Man were crabbed, who should say him Nay: That Man were churlish, who should drive him thence!

A blessing light upon your heads, ye good, Ye hospitable pair. I may not come, To catch on Clifden's heights the summer gale: I may not come, a pilgrim, to the "Vales Where Avon winds," to taste th' inspiring waves Which Shakespere drank, our British Helicon: Or, with mine eye intent on Redcliffe towers, To drop a tear for that Mysterious youth, Cruelly slighted, who to London Walls, In evil hour, shap'd his disastrous course.

Complaints, begone; begone, ill-omen'd thoughts— For yet again, and lo! from Avon banks Another "Minstrel" cometh! Youth beloved, God and good angels guide thee on thy way, And gentler fortunes wait the friends I love.

C.L.



LETTER 7

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

the 6th July [P.M. July 7, 1796].

Substitute in room of that last confused & incorrect Paragraph, following the words "disastrous course," these lines

[Sidenote: Vide 3d page of this epistle.] { With better hopes, I trust, from Avon's vales { This other "minstrel" cometh Youth endear'd no { God & good Angels guide thee on thy road, { And gentler fortunes wait the friends I love.

[Lamb has crossed through the above lines.]

Let us prose.

What can I do till you send word what priced and placed house you should like? Islington (possibly) you would not like, to me 'tis classical ground. Knightsbridge is a desirable situation for the air of the parks. St. George's Fields is convenient for its contiguity to the Bench. Chuse! But are you really coming to town? The hope of it has entirely disarmed my petty disappointment of its nettles. Yet I rejoice so much on my own account, that I fear I do not feel enough pure satisfaction on yours. Why, surely, the joint editorship of the Chron: must be a very comfortable & secure living for a man. But should not you read French, or do you? & can you write with sufficient moderation, as 'tis called, when one suppresses the one half of what one feels, or could say, on a subject, to chime in the better with popular luke-warmness?—White's "Letters" are near publication. Could you review 'em, or get 'em reviewed? Are you not connected with the Crit: Rev:? His frontispiece is a good conceit: Sir John learning to dance, to please Madame Page, in dress of doublet, etc., from [for] the upper half; & modern pantaloons, with shoes, etc., of the 18th century, from [for] the lower half—& the whole work is full of goodly quips & rare fancies, "all deftly masqued like hoar antiquity"—much superior to Dr. Kenrick's Falstaff's Wedding, which you may have seen. Allen sometimes laughs at Superstition, & Religion, & the like. A living fell vacant lately in the gift of the Hospital. White informed him that he stood a fair chance for it. He scrupled & scrupled about it, and at last (to use his own words) "tampered" with Godwin to know whether the thing was honest or not. Godwin said nay to it, & Allen rejected the living! Could the blindest Poor Papish have bowed more servilely to his Priest or Casuist? Why sleep the Watchman's answers to that Godwin? I beg you will not delay to alter, if you mean to keep, those last lines I sent you. Do that, & read these for your pains:—

TO THE POET COWPER

Cowper, I thank my God that thou art heal'd! Thine was the sorest malady of all; And I am sad to think that it should light Upon the worthy head! But thou art heal'd, And thou art yet, we trust, the destin'd man, Born to reanimate the Lyre, whose chords Have slumber'd, and have idle lain so long, To the immortal sounding of whose strings Did Milton frame the stately-paced verse; Among whose wires with lighter finger playing, Our elder bard, Spenser, a gentle name, The Lady Muses' dearest darling child, Elicited the deftest tunes yet heard In Hall or Bower, taking the delicate Ear Of Sydney, & his peerless Maiden Queen.

Thou, then, take up the mighty Epic strain, Cowper, of England's Bards, the wisest & the best.

1796.

I have read your climax of praises in those 3 reviews. These mighty spouters-out of panegyric waters have, 2 of 'em, scattered their spray even upon me! & the waters are cooling & refreshing. Prosaically, the Monthly Reviewers have made indeed a large article of it, & done you justice. The Critical have, in their wisdom, selected not the very best specimens, & notice not, except as one name on the muster-roll, the "Religious Musings." I suspect Master Dyer to have been the writer of that article, as the substance of it was the very remarks & the very language he used to me one day. I fear you will not accord entirely with my sentiments of Cowper, as exprest above, (perhaps scarcely just), but the poor Gentleman has just recovered from his Lunacies, & that begets pity, & pity love, and love admiration, & then it goes hard with People but they lie! Have you read the Ballad called "Leonora," in the second Number of the "Monthly Magazine"? If you have !!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is another fine song, from the same author (Berger), in the 3d No., of scarce inferior merit; & (vastly below these) there are some happy specimens of English hexameters, in an imitation of Ossian, in the 5th No. For your Dactyls I am sorry you are so sore about 'em—a very Sir Fretful! In good troth, the Dactyls are good Dactyls, but their measure is naught. Be not yourself "half anger, half agony" if I pronounce your darling lines not to be the best you ever wrote—you have written much.

For the alterations in those lines, let 'em run thus:

I may not come a pilgrim, to the Banks of Avon, lucid stream, to taste the wave (inspiring wave) was too which Shakspere drank, our British Helicon; common place. or with mine eye, &c., &c. To muse, in tears, on that mysterious Youth, &c. (better than "drop a tear")

Then the last paragraph alter thus

better refer to my own Complaint begone, begone unkind reproof, "complaint" solely than Take up, my song, take up a merrier strain, half to that and half to For yet again, & lo! from Avon's vales, Chatterton, as in your Another mistrel cometh! youth endeared, copy, which creates a God & good angels &c., as before confusion—"ominous fears" &c.

Have a care, good Master poet, of the Statute de Contumelia. What do you mean by calling Madame Mara harlot & naughty things? The goodness of the verse would not save you in a court of Justice. But are you really coming to town?

Coleridge, a gentleman called in London lately from Bristol, inquired whether there were any of the family of a Mr. Chambers living—this Mr. Chambers he said had been the making of a friend's fortune who wished to make some return for it. He went away without seeing her. Now, a Mrs. Reynolds, a very intimate friend of ours, whom you have seen at our house, is the only daughter, & all that survives, of Mr. Chambers—& a very little supply would be of service to her, for she married very unfortunately, & has parted with her husband. Pray find out this Mr. Pember (for that was the gentleman's friend's name), he is an attorney, & lives at Bristol. Find him out, & acquaint him with the circumstances of the case, & offer to be the medium of supply to Mrs. Reynolds, if he chuses to make her a present. She is in very distrest circumstances. Mr. Pember, attorney, Bristol—Mr. Chambers lived in the Temple. Mrs. Reynolds, his daughter, was my schoolmistress, & is in the room at this present writing. This last circumstance induced me to write so soon again—I have not further to add—Our loves to Sara.

Thursday. C. LAMB.

[The passage at the beginning, before "Let us prose," together with the later passages in the same manner, refers to the poem in the preceding letter, which in slightly different form is printed in editions of Lamb as "Lines to Sara and Her Samuel." To complete the sense of the letter one should compare the text of the poem in Vol. IV.

Coleridge had just received a suggestion, through Dr. Beddoes of Bristol, that he should replace Grey, the late co-editor (with James Perry) of the Morning Chronicle. It came to nothing; but Coleridge had told Lamb and had asked him to look out a house in town for him.

Dr. Kenrick's "Falstaff's Wedding," 1760, was a continuation of Shakespeare's "Henry IV."

We do not know what were the last lines that Lamb had sent to Coleridge. The lines to Cowper were printed in the Monthly Magazine for December, 1796.

Coleridge's Poems were reviewed in the Monthly Review, June, 1796, with no mention of Lamb. The Critical Review for the same month said of Lamb's effusions: "These are very beautiful."

Burger's "Leonora," which was to have such an influence upon English literature (it was the foundation of much of Sir Walter Scott's poetry), was translated from the German by William Taylor of Norwich in 1790 and printed in the Monthly Magazine in March, 1796. Scott at once made a rival version. The other fine song, in the April Monthly Magazine, was "The Lass of Fair Wone."

The mention of the Statute de Contumelia seems to refer to the "Lines Composed in a Concert-Room," which were first printed in the Morning Post, September 24, 1799, but must have been written earlier. Madame Mara (1749-1833) is not mentioned by name in the poem, but being one of the principal singers of the day Lamb probably fastened the epithet upon her by way of pleasantry; or she may have been referred to in the version of the lines which Lamb had seen.

The passage about Mr. Chambers is not now explicable; but we know that Mrs. Reynolds was Lamb's schoolmistress, probably when he was very small, and before he went to William Bird's Academy, and that in later life he allowed her a pension of L30 a year until her death.

Between this and the next letter came, in all probability, a number of letters to Coleridge which have been lost. It is incredible that Lamb kept silence, at this period, for eleven weeks.]



LETTER 8

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

[P.M. September 27, 1796.]

My dearest friend—White or some of my friends or the public papers by this time may have informed you of the terrible calamities that have fallen on our family. I will only give you the outlines. My poor dear dearest sister in a fit of insanity has been the death of her own mother. I was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife out of her grasp. She is at present in a mad house, from whence I fear she must be moved to an hospital. God has preserved to me my senses,—I eat and drink and sleep, and have my judgment I believe very sound. My poor father was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my aunt. Mr. Norris of the Bluecoat school has been very very kind to us, and we have no other friend, but thank God I am very calm and composed, and able to do the best that remains to do. Write,—as religious a letter as possible—but no mention of what is gone and done with.—With me "the former things are passed away," and I have something more to do that [than] to feel—

God almighty have us all in his keeping.—

C. LAMB.

Mention nothing of poetry. I have destroyed every vestige of past vanities of that kind. Do as you please, but if you publish, publish mine (I give free leave) without name or initial, and never send me a book, I charge you.

You [your] own judgment will convince you not to take any notice of this yet to your dear wife.—You look after your family,—I have my reason and strength left to take care of mine. I charge you, don't think of coming to see me. Write. I will not see you if you come. God almighty love you and all of us—

[The following is the report of the inquest upon Mrs. Lamb which appeared in the Morning Chronicle for September 26, 1796. The tragedy had occurred on Thursday, September 22:—

On Friday afternoon the Coroner and a respectable Jury sat on the body of a Lady in the neighbourhood of Holborn, who died in consequence of a wound from her daughter the preceding day. It appeared by the evidence adduced, that while the family were preparing for dinner, the young lady seized a case knife laying on the table, and in a menacing manner pursued a little girl, her apprentice, round the room; on the eager calls of her helpless infirm mother to forbear, she renounced her first object, and with loud shrieks approached her parent.

The child by her cries quickly brought up the landlord of the house, but too late—the dreadful scene presented to him the mother lifeless, pierced to the heart, on a chair, her daughter yet wildly standing over her with the fatal knife, and the venerable old man, her father, weeping by her side, himself bleeding at the forehead from the effects of a severe blow he received from one of the forks she had been madly hurling about the room.

For a few days prior to this the family had observed some symptoms of insanity in her, which had so much increased on the Wednesday evening, that her brother early the next morning went in quest of Dr. Pitcairn—had that gentleman been met with, the fatal catastrophe had, in all probability, been prevented.

It seems the young Lady had been once before, in her earlier years, deranged, from the harassing fatigues of too much business.—As her carriage towards her mother was ever affectionate in the extreme, it is believed that to the increased attentiveness, which her parents' infirmities called for by day and night, is to be attributed the present insanity of this ill-fated young woman.

It has been stated in some of the Morning Papers, that she has an insane brother also in confinement—this is without foundation.

The Jury of course brought in their Verdict, Lunacy.

In the Whitehall Evening Post the first part of the account is the same, but the end is as follows:—

The above unfortunate young person is a Miss Lamb, a mantua-maker, in Little Queen-street, Lincoln's-inn-fields. She has been, since, removed to Islington mad-house.

Mr. Norris of the Blue-Coat School has been confounded with Randal Norris of the Inner Temple, another friend of the Lambs, but is not, I think, the same.

The reference to the poetry and Coleridge's publication of it shows that Lamb had already been invited to contribute to the second edition of Coleridge's Poems. The words "and never" in the original have a line through them which might mean erasure, but, I think, does not.

"Your own judgment..." Mrs. Coleridge had just become a mother: David Hartley Coleridge was born on September 19.

This was Coleridge's reply to Lamb's letter, as given in Gillman's Life of Coleridge:—

"[September 28, 1796.]

"Your letter, my friend, struck me with a mighty horror. It rushed upon me and stupified my feelings. You bid me write you a religious letter; I am not a man who would attempt to insult the greatness of your anguish by any other consolation. Heaven knows that in the easiest fortunes there is much dissatisfaction and weariness of spirit; much that calls for the exercise of patience and resignation; but in storms, like these, that shake the dwelling and make the heart tremble, there is no middle way between despair and the yielding up of the whole spirit unto the guidance of faith. And surely it is a matter of joy, that your faith in Jesus has been preserved; the Comforter that should relieve you is not far from you. But as you are a Christian, in the name of that Saviour, who was filled with bitterness and made drunken with wormwood, I conjure you to have recourse in frequent prayer to 'his God and your God,' the God of mercies, and father of all comfort. Your poor father is, I hope, almost senseless of the calamity; the unconscious instrument of Divine Providence knows it not, and your mother is in heaven. It is sweet to be roused from a frightful dream by the song of birds, and the gladsome rays of the morning. Ah, how infinitely more sweet to be awakened from the blackness and amazement of a sudden horror, by the glories of God manifest, and the hallelujahs of angels.

"As to what regards yourself, I approve altogether of your abandoning what you justly call vanities. I look upon you as a man, called by sorrow and anguish and a strange desolation of hopes into quietness, and a soul set apart and made peculiar to God; we cannot arrive at any portion of heavenly bliss without in some measure imitating Christ. And they arrive at the largest inheritance who imitate the most difficult parts of his character, and bowed down and crushed under foot, cry in fulness of faith, 'Father, thy will be done.'

"I wish above measure to have you for a little while here—no visitants shall blow on the nakedness of your feelings—you shall be quiet, and your spirit may be healed. I see no possible objection, unless your father's helplessness prevent you, and unless you are necessary to him. If this be not the case, I charge you write me that you will come.

"I charge you, my dearest friend, not to dare to encourage gloom or despair—you are a temporary sharer in human miseries, that you may be an eternal partaker of the Divine nature. I charge you, if by any means it be possible, come to me.

"I remain, your affectionate, "S.T. COLERIDGE."]



LETTER 9

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

[P.M. October 3, 1796.]

My dearest friend, your letter was an inestimable treasure to me. It will be a comfort to you, I know, to know that our prospects are somewhat brighter. My poor dear dearest sister, the unhappy and unconscious instrument of the Almighty's judgments to our house, is restored to her senses; to a dreadful sense and recollection of what has past, awful to her mind, and impressive (as it must be to the end of life) but temper'd with religious resignation, and the reasonings of a sound judgment, which in this early stage knows how to distinguish between a deed committed in a transient fit of frenzy, and the terrible guilt of a Mother's murther. I have seen her. I found her this morning calm and serene, far very very far from an indecent forgetful serenity; she has a most affectionate and tender concern for what has happend. Indeed from the beginning, frightful and hopeless as her disorder seemed, I had confidence enough in her strength of mind, and religious principle, to look forward to a time when even she might recover tranquillity. God be praised, Coleridge, wonderful as it is to tell, I have never once been otherwise than collected, and calm; even on the dreadful day and in the midst of the terrible scene I preserved a tranquillity, which bystanders may have construed into indifference, a tranquillity not of despair; is it folly or sin in me to say that it was a religious principle that most supported me? I allow much to other favorable circumstances. I felt that I had something else to do than to regret; on that first evening my Aunt was lying insensible, to all appearance like one dying,—my father, with his poor forehead plastered over from a wound he had received from a daughter dearly loved by him, and who loved him no less dearly,—my mother a dead and murder'd corpse in the next room—yet was I wonderfully supported. I closed not my eyes in sleep that night, but lay without terrors and without despair. I have lost no sleep since. I had been long used not to rest in things of sense, had endeavord after a comprehension of mind, unsatisfied with the "ignorant present time," and this kept me up. I had the whole weight of the family thrown on me, for my brother, little disposed (I speak not without tenderness for him) at any time to take care of old age and infirmities, had now, with his bad leg, an exemption from such duties, and I was now left alone. One little incident may serve to make you understand my way of managing my mind. Within a day or 2 after the fatal ONE, we drest for dinner a tongue, which we had had salted for some weeks in the house. As I sat down a feeling like remorse struck me,—this tongue poor Mary got for me, and can I partake of it now, when she is far away—a thought occurrd and relieved me,—if I give in to this way of feeling, there is not a chair, a room, an object in our rooms, that will not awaken the keenest griefs, I must rise above such weaknesses.—I hope this was not want of true feeling. I did not let this carry me, tho', too far. On the very 2d day (I date from the day of horrors) as is usual in such cases there were a matter of 20 people I do think supping in our room. They prevailed on me to eat with them, (for to eat I never refused). They were all making merry! in the room,—some had come from friendship, some from busy curiosity, and some from Interest; I was going to partake with them, when my recollection came that my poor dead mother was lying in the next room, the very next room, a mother who thro' life wished nothing but her children's welfare— indignation, the rage of grief, something like remorse, rushed upon my mind in an agony of emotion,—I found my way mechanically to the adjoining room, and fell on my knees by the side of her coffin, asking forgiveness of heaven, and sometimes of her, for forgetting her so soon. Tranquillity returned, and it was the only violent emotion that mastered me, and I think it did me good.

I mention these things because I hate concealment, and love to give a faithful journal of what passes within me. Our friends have been very good. Sam Le Grice who was then in town was with me the first 3 or 4 first days, and was as a brother to me, gave up every hour of his time, to the very hurting of his health and spirits, in constant attendance and humouring my poor father. Talk'd with him, read to him, play'd at cribbage with him (for so short is the old man's recollection, that he was playing at cards, as tho' nothing had happened, while the Coroner's Inquest was sitting over the way!). Samuel wept tenderly when he went away, for his mother wrote him a very severe letter on his loitering so long in town, and he was forced to go. Mr. Norris of Christ Hospital has been as a father to me, Mrs. Norris as a mother; tho' we had few claims on them. A Gentleman, brother to my Godmother, from whom we never had right or reason to expect any such assistance, sent my father twenty pounds,—and to crown all these God's blessings to our family at such a time, an old Lady, a cousin of my father and Aunt's, a Gentlewoman of fortune, is to take my Aunt and make her comfortable for the short remainder of her days.

My Aunt is recover'd and as well as ever, and highly pleased at thoughts of going,—and has generously given up the interest of her little money (which was formerly paid my Father for her board) wholely and solely to my Sister's use. Reckoning this we have, Daddy and I, for our two selves and an old maid servant to look after him, when I am out, which will be necessary, L170 or L180 (rather) a year, out of which we can spare 50 or 60 at least for Mary, while she stays at Islington, where she must and shall stay during her father's life for his and her comfort. I know John will make speeches about it, but she shall not go into an hospital. The good Lady of the mad house, and her daughter, an elegant sweet behaved young Lady, love her and are taken with her amazingly, and I know from her own mouth she loves them, and longs to be with them as much.—Poor thing, they say she was but the other morning saying, she knew she must go to Bethlem for life; that one of her brothers would have it so, but the other would wish it not, but be obliged to go with the stream; that she had often as she passed Bedlam thought it likely "here it may be my fate to end my days—" conscious of a certain flightiness in her poor head oftentimes, and mindful of more than one severe illness of that nature before. A Legacy of L100, which my father will have at Xmas, and this 20 I mentioned before, with what is in the house will much more than set us Clear;—if my father, an old servant maid, and I, can't live and live comfortably on L130 or L120 a year we ought to burn by slow fires, and I almost would, that Mary might not go into an hospital. Let me not leave one unfavourable impression on your mind respecting my Brother. Since this has happened he has been very kind and brotherly; but I fear for his mind,—he has taken his ease in the world, and is not fit himself to struggle with difficulties, nor has much accustomed himself to throw himself into their way,—and I know his language is already, "Charles, you must take care of yourself, you must not abridge yourself of a single pleasure you have been used to," &c &c and in that style of talking. But you, a necessarian, can respect a difference of mind, and love what is amiable in a character not perfect. He has been very good, but I fear for his mind. Thank God, I can unconnect myself with him, and shall manage all my father's monies in future myself, if I take charge of Daddy, which poor John has not even hinted a wish, at any future time even, to share with me. The Lady at this mad house assures me that I may dismiss immediately both Doctor and apothecary, retaining occasionally an opening draught or so for a while, and there is a less expensive establishment in her house, where she will only not have a room and nurse to herself for L50 or guineas a year—the outside would be 60—You know by oeconomy how much more, even, I shall be able to spare for her comforts.

She will, I fancy, if she stays, make one of the family, rather than of the patients, and the old and young ladies I like exceedingly, and she loves dearly, and they, as the saying is, take to her very extraordinarily, if it is extraordinary that people who see my sister should love her. Of all the people I ever saw in the world my poor sister was most and thoroughly devoid of the least tincture of selfishness—I will enlarge upon her qualities, poor dear dearest soul, in a future letter for my own comfort, for I understand her throughly; and if I mistake not, in the most trying situation that a human being can be found in, she will be found (I speak not with sufficient humility, I fear, but humanly and foolishly speaking) she will be found, I trust, uniformly great and amiable; God keep her in her present mind, to whom be thanks and praise for all His dispensations to mankind.

LAMB.

Coleridge, continue to write; but do not for ever offend me by talking of sending me cash. Sincerely, and on my soul, we do not want it. God love you both!

I will write again very soon. Do you write directly.

These mentioned good fortunes and change of prospects had almost brought my mind over to the extreme the very opposite to Despair; I was in danger of making myself too happy; your letter brought me back to a view of things which I had entertained from the beginning; I hope (for Mary I can answer) but I hope that I shall thro' life never have less recollection nor a fainter impression of what has happened than I have now; 'tis not a light thing, nor meant by the Almighty to be received lightly. I must be serious, circumspect, and deeply religious thro' life; by such means may both of us escape madness in future, if it so please the Almighty.

Send me word, how it fares with Sara. I repeat it, your letter was and will be an inestimable treasure to me; you have a view of what my situation demands of me like my own view; and I trust a just one.

[A word perhaps on Lamb's salary might be fitting here. For the first three years, from joining the East India House on April 5, 1792, he received nothing. This probationary period over, he was given L40 for the year 1795-1796. This, however, was raised to L70 in 1796 and there were means of adding to it a little, by extra work and by a small holiday grant. In 1797 it was L80, in 1799 L90, and from that time until 1814 it rose by L10 every second year.

Samuel Le Grice was the younger brother of Valentine Le Grice. Both were at Christ's Hospital with Lamb and Coleridge and are mentioned in the Elia essay on the school. Sam Le Grice afterwards had a commission in the 60th Foot, and died in Jamaica in 1802, as we shall see.]



LETTER 10

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

[P.M. October 17, 1796.]

My dearest friend, I grieve from my very soul to observe you in your plans of life veering about from this hope to the other, and settling no where. Is it an untoward fatality (speaking humanly) that does this for you, a stubborn irresistible concurrence of events? or lies the fault, as I fear it does, in your own mind? You seem to be taking up splendid schemes of fortune only to lay them down again, and your fortunes are an ignis fatuus that has been conducting you, in thought, from Lancaster Court, Strand, to somewhere near Matlock, then jumping across to Dr. Somebody's whose son's tutor you were likely to be, and would to God the dancing demon may conduct you at last in peace and comfort to the "life and labors of a cottager." You see from the above awkward playfulness of fancy, that my spirits are not quite depressed; I should ill deserve God's blessings, which since the late terrible event have come down in mercy upon us, if I indulged regret or querulousness,—Mary continues serene and chearful,—I have not by me a little letter she wrote to me, for, tho' I see her almost every day yet we delight to write to one another (for we can scarce see each other but in company with some of the people of the house), I have not the letter by me but will quote from memory what she wrote in it. "I have no bad terrifying dreams. At midnight when I happen to awake, the nurse sleeping by the side of me, with the noise of the poor mad people around me, I have no fear. The spirit of my mother seems to descend, and smile upon me, and bid me live to enjoy the life and reason which the Almighty has given me—I shall see her again in heaven; she will then understand me better; my Grandmother too will understand me better, and will then say no more, as she used to do, 'Polly, what are those poor crazy moyther'd brains of yours thinking of always?'"—Poor Mary, my Mother indeed never understood her right. She loved her, as she loved us all, with a Mother's love; but in opinion, in feeling, and sentiment, and disposition, bore so distant a resemblance to her daughter, that she never understood her right. Never could believe how much she loved her—but met her caresses, her protestations of filial affection, too frequently with coldness and repulse.—Still she was a good mother, God forbid I should think of her but most respectfully, most affectionately. Yet she would always love my brother above Mary, who was not worthy of one tenth of that affection, which Mary had a right to claim. But it is my sister's gratifying recollection, that every act of duty and of love she could pay, every kindness (and I speak true, when I say to the hurting of her health, and, most probably, in great part to the derangement of her senses) thro' a long course of infirmities and sickness, she could shew her, SHE EVER DID. I will some day, as I promised, enlarge to you upon my Sister's excellencies; 'twill seem like exaggeration; but I will do it. At present short letters suit my state of mind best. So take my kindest wishes for your comfort and establishment in life, and for Sara's welfare and comforts with you. God love you; God love us all—

C. LAMB.

[This letter is the only one in which Lamb speaks freely of his mother. He dwells on her memory in Blank Verse, 1798, but in later years he mentioned her in his writings only twice, in the Elia essays "New Year's Eve" and "My First Play," and then very indirectly: probably from the wish to spare his sister pain, although Talfourd tells us that Mary Lamb spoke of her mother often. Compare the poem on page 110.

In a letter written by Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart on September 21, 1803, there is further light on Mrs. Lamb's want of sympathetic understanding of certain characters.

The references at the beginning are to Coleridge's idea of joining Perry on the Morning Chronicle; of teaching Mrs. Evans' children; of establishing a school at Derby, on the suggestion of Dr. Crompton; and finally of moving from Bristol to settle down in a cottage at Nether Stowey, and support himself by husbandry and literature.]



LETTER 11

CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE

Oct. 24th, 1796. [Monday.]

Coleridge, I feel myself much your debtor for that spirit of confidence and friendship which dictated your last letter. May your soul find peace at last in your cottage life! I only wish you were but settled. Do continue to write to me. I read your letters with my sister, and they give us both abundance of delight. Especially they please us two, when you talk in a religious strain,—not but we are offended occasionally with a certain freedom of expression, a certain air of mysticism, more consonant to the conceits of pagan philosophy, than consistent with the humility of genuine piety. To instance now in your last letter—you say, "it is by the press [sic], that God hath given finite spirits both evil and good (I suppose you mean simply bad men and good men), a portion as it were of His Omnipresence!" Now, high as the human intellect comparatively will soar, and wide as its influence, malign or salutary, can extend, is there not, Coleridge, a distance between the Divine Mind and it, which makes such language blasphemy? Again, in your first fine consolatory epistle you say, "you are a temporary sharer in human misery, that you may be an eternal partaker of the Divine Nature." What more than this do those men say, who are for exalting the man Christ Jesus into the second person of an unknown Trinity,—men, whom you or I scruple not to call idolaters? Man, full of imperfections, at best, and subject to wants which momentarily remind him of dependence; man, a weak and ignorant being, "servile" from his birth "to all the skiey influences," with eyes sometimes open to discern the right path, but a head generally too dizzy to pursue it; man, in the pride of speculation, forgetting his nature, and hailing in himself the future God, must make the angels laugh. Be not angry with me, Coleridge; I wish not to cavil; I know I cannot instruct you; I only wish to remind you of that humility which best becometh the Christian character. God, in the New Testament (our best guide), is represented to us in the kind, condescending, amiable, familiar light of a parent: and in my poor mind 'tis best for us so to consider of Him, as our heavenly Father, and our best Friend, without indulging too bold conceptions of His nature. Let us learn to think humbly of ourselves, and rejoice in the appellation of "dear children," "brethren," and "co-heirs with Christ of the promises," seeking to know no further.

I am not insensible, indeed I am not, of the value of that first letter of yours, and I shall find reason to thank you for it again and again long after that blemish in it is forgotten. It will be a fine lesson of comfort to us, whenever we read it; and read it we often shall, Mary and I.

Accept our loves and best kind wishes for the welfare of yourself and wife, and little one. Nor let me forget to wish you joy on your birthday so lately past; I thought you had been older. My kind thanks and remembrances to Lloyd. God love us all, and may He continue to be the father and the friend of the whole human race!

Sunday Evening. C. LAMB.

[It is interesting to notice that with these letters Lamb suddenly assumes a gravity, independence and sense of authority that hitherto his correspondence has lacked. The responsibility of the household seems to have awakened his extraordinary common sense and fine understanding sense of justice. Previously he had ventured to criticise only Coleridge's literary exercises; he places his finger now on conduct too.

Coleridge's "last letter" has not been preserved; but the "first fine consolatory epistle" is printed above.

This letter contains the first mention of Charles Lloyd (1775-1839), who was afterwards to be for a while so intimately associated with Lamb. Charles Lloyd was the son of a Quaker banker of Birmingham. He had published a volume of poems the year before and had met Coleridge when that magnetic visionary had visited Birmingham to solicit subscribers for The Watchman early in 1796. The proposition that Lloyd should live with Coleridge and become in a way his pupil was agreed to by his parents, and in September he accompanied the philosopher to Nether Stowey a day or so after David Hartley's birth, all eager to begin domestication and tutelage. Lloyd was a sensitive, delicate youth, with an acute power of analysis and considerable grasp of metaphysical ideas. No connection ever began more amiably. He was, I might add, by only two days Lamb's junior.]



LETTER 12

CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE Oct. 28th, 1796.

My dear Friend, I am not ignorant that to be a partaker of the Divine Nature is a phrase to be met with in Scripture: I am only apprehensive, lest we in these latter days, tinctured (some of us perhaps pretty deeply) with mystical notions and the pride of metaphysics, might be apt to affix to such phrases a meaning, which the primitive users of them, the simple fishermen of Galilee for instance, never intended to convey. With that other part of your apology I am not quite so well satisfied. You seem to me to have been straining your comparing faculties to bring together things infinitely distant and unlike; the feeble narrow-sphered operations of the human intellect and the everywhere diffused mind of Deity, the peerless wisdom of Jehovah. Even the expression appears to me inaccurate—portion of omnipresence—omnipresence is an attribute whose very essence is unlimitedness. How can omnipresence be affirmed of anything in part? But enough of this spirit of disputatiousness. Let us attend to the proper business of human life, and talk a little together respecting our domestic concerns. Do you continue to make me acquainted with what you were doing, and how soon you are likely to be settled once for all.

I have satisfaction in being able to bid you rejoice with me in my sister's continued reason and composedness of mind. Let us both be thankful for it. I continue to visit her very frequently, and the people of the house are vastly indulgent to her; she is likely to be as comfortably situated in all respects as those who pay twice or thrice the sum. They love her, and she loves them, and makes herself very useful to them. Benevolence sets out on her journey with a good heart, and puts a good face on it, but is apt to limp and grow feeble, unless she calls in the aid of self-interest by way of crutch. In Mary's case, as far as respects those she is with, 'tis well that these principles are so likely to co-operate. I am rather at a loss sometimes for books for her,—our reading is somewhat confined, and we have nearly exhausted our London library. She has her hands too full of work to read much, but a little she must read; for reading was her daily bread. Have you seen Bowles's new poem on "Hope?" What character does it bear? Has he exhausted his stores of tender plaintiveness? or is he the same in this last as in all his former pieces? The duties of the day call me off from this pleasant intercourse with my friend—so for the present adieu.

Now for the truant borrowing of a few minutes from business. Have you met with a new poem called the "Pursuits of Literature?" From the extracts in the "British Review" I judge it to be a very humorous thing; in particular I remember what I thought a very happy character of Dr. Darwin's poetry. Among all your quaint readings did you ever light upon Walton's "Complete Angler"? I asked you the question once before; it breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity of heart; there are many choice old verses interspersed in it; it would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it; it would Christianise every discordant angry passion; pray make yourself acquainted with it. Have you made it up with Southey yet? Surely one of you two must have been a very silly fellow, and the other not much better, to fall out like boarding-school misses; kiss, shake hands, and make it up?

When will he be delivered of his new epic? Madoc I think, is to be the name of it; though that is a name not familiar to my ears. What progress do you make in your hymns? What Review are you connected with? If with any, why do you delay to notice White's book? You are justly offended at its profaneness; but surely you have undervalued its wit, or you would have been more loud in its praises. Do not you think that in Slender's death and madness there is most exquisite humour, mingled with tenderness, that is irresistible, truly Shakspearian? Be more full in your mention of it. Poor fellow, he has (very undeservedly) lost by it; nor do I see that it is likely ever to reimburse him the charge of printing, etc. Give it a lift, if you can. I suppose you know that Allen's wife is dead, and he, just situated as he was, never the better, as the worldly people say, for her death, her money with her children being taken off his hands. I am just now wondering whether you will ever come to town again, Coleridge; 'tis among the things I dare not hope, but can't help wishing. For myself, I can live in the midst of town luxury and superfluity, and not long for them, and I can't see why your children might not hereafter do the same. Remember, you are not in Arcadia when you are in the west of England, and they may catch infection from the world without visiting the metropolis. But you seem to have set your heart upon this same cottage plan; and God prosper you in the experiment! I am at a loss for more to write about; so 'tis as well that I am arrived at the bottom of my paper.

God love you, Coleridge!—Our best loves and tenderest wishes await on you, your Sara, and your little one.

C. L.

[Bowles's poem was "Hope, an allegorical sketch on slowly recovering from sickness." See note on pages 78 and 79.

The Pursuits of Literature, was a literary satire in the form of dialogues in verse, garnished with very outspoken notes, by Thomas James Mathias (1754?-1835), which appeared between 1794 and 1797.

Southey had returned from Portugal in the summer, when the quarrel between Coleridge and himself revived; but about the time of Hartley's birth some kind of a reconciliation was patched up. Madoc, as it happened, was not published until 1805, although in its first form it was completed in 1797.

Writing to Charles Lloyd, sen., in December, 1796, Coleridge says that he gives his evenings to his engagements with the Critical Review and New Monthly Magazine.

This is the passage in Falstaff's Letters describing Blender's death:—

DAVY TO SHALLOW

Master Abram is dead, gone, your Worship—dead! Master Abram! Oh! good your Worship, a's gone.—A' never throve, since a' came from Windsor— 'twas his death. I call'd him a rebel, your Worship—but a' was all subject—a' was subject to any babe, as much as a King—a' turn'd, like as it were the latter end of a lover's lute—a' was all peace and resignment—a' took delight in nothing but his book of songs and sonnets—a' would go to the Stroud side under the large beech tree, and sing, till 'twas quite pity of our lives to mark him; for his chin grew as long as a muscle—Oh! a' sung his soul and body quite away—a' was lank as any greyhound, and had such a scent! I hid his love-songs among your Worship's law-books; for I thought if a' could not get at them, it might be to his quiet; but a' snuff'd 'em out in a moment.—Good your Worship, have the wise woman of Brentfort secured—Master Abram may have been conjured—Peter Simple says, a' never look'd up, after a' sent to the wise woman—Marry, a' was always given to look down afore his elders; a' might do it, a' was given to it—your Worship knows it; but then 'twas peak and pert with him—a' was a man again, marry, in the turn of his heel.—A' died, your Worship, just about one, at the crow of the cock.—I thought how it was with him; for a' talk'd as quick, aye, marry, as glib as your Worship; and a' smiled, and look'd at his own nose, and call'd "Sweet Ann Page." I ask'd him if a' would eat—so a' bad us commend him to his Cousin Robert (a' never call'd your Worship so before) and bade us get hot meat, for a' would not say nay to Ann again.[*]—But a' never liv'd to touch it—a' began all in a moment to sing "Lovers all, a Madrigal." 'Twas the only song Master Abram ever learnt out of book, and clean by heart, your Worship—and so a' sung, and smiled, and look'd askew at his own nose, and sung, and sung on, till his breath waxed shorter, and shorter, and shorter, and a' fell into a struggle and died. I beseech your Worship to think he was well tended—I look'd to him, your Worship, late and soon, and crept at his heel all day long, an it had been any fallow dog—but I thought a' could never live, for a' did so sing, and then a' never drank with it—I knew 'twas a bad sign—yea, a' sung, your Worship, marry, without drinking a drop.

[Footnote: Vide "Merry Wives of Windsor." Latter part of the 1st Scene, 1st Act.]]



LETTER 13

CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE Nov. 8th, 1796.

My Brother, my Friend,—I am distrest for you, believe me I am; not so much for your painful, troublesome complaint, which, I trust, is only for a time, as for those anxieties which brought it on, and perhaps even now may be nursing its malignity. Tell me, dearest of my friends, is your mind at peace, or has anything, yet unknown to me, happened to give you fresh disquiet, and steal from you all the pleasant dreams of future rest? Are you still (I fear you are) far from being comfortably settled? Would to God it were in my power to contribute towards the bringing of you into the haven where you would be! But you are too well skilled in the philosophy of consolation to need my humble tribute of advice; in pain and in sickness, and in all manner of disappointments, I trust you have that within you which shall speak peace to your mind. Make it, I entreat you, one of your puny comforts, that I feel for you, and share all your griefs with you. I feel as if I were troubling you about little things; now I am going to resume the subject of our last two letters, but it may divert us both from unpleasanter feelings to make such matters, in a manner, of importance. Without further apology, then, it was not that I did not relish, that I did not in my heart thank you for, those little pictures of your feelings which you lately sent me, if I neglected to mention them. You may remember you had said much the same things before to me on the same subject in a former letter, and I considered those last verses as only the identical thoughts better clothed; either way (in prose or verse) such poetry must be welcome to me. I love them as I love the Confessions of Rousseau, and for the same reason: the same frankness, the same openness of heart, the same disclosure of all the most hidden and delicate affections of the mind: they make me proud to be thus esteemed worthy of the place of friend-confessor, brother-confessor, to a man like Coleridge. This last is, I acknowledge, language too high for friendship; but it is also, I declare, too sincere for flattery. Now, to put on stilts, and talk magnificently about trifles—I condescend, then, to your counsel, Coleridge, and allow my first Sonnet (sick to death am I to make mention of my sonnets, and I blush to be so taken up with them, indeed I do)—I allow it to run thus, "Fairy Land" &c. &c., as I [? you] last wrote it.

The Fragments I now send you I want printed to get rid of 'em; for, while they stick burr-like to my memory, they tempt me to go on with the idle trade of versifying, which I long—most sincerely I speak it—I long to leave off, for it is unprofitable to my soul; I feel it is; and these questions about words, and debates about alterations, take me off, I am conscious, from the properer business of my life. Take my sonnets once for all, and do not propose any re-amendments, or mention them again in any shape to me, I charge you. I blush that my mind can consider them as things of any worth. And pray admit or reject these fragments, as you like or dislike them, without ceremony. Call 'em Sketches, Fragments, or what you will, but do not entitle any of my things Love Sonnets, as I told you to call 'em; 'twill only make me look little in my own eyes; for it is a passion of which I retain nothing; 'twas a weakness, concerning which I may say, in the words of Petrarch (whose life is now open before me), "if it drew me out of some vices, it also prevented the growth of many virtues, filling me with the love of the creature rather than the Creator, which is the death of the soul." Thank God, the folly has left me for ever; not even a review of my love verses renews one wayward wish in me; and if I am at all solicitous to trim 'em out in their best apparel, it is because they are to make their appearance in good company. Now to my fragments. Lest you have lost my Grandame, she shall be one. 'Tis among the few verses I ever wrote (that to Mary is another) which profit me in the recollection. God love her,—and may we two never love each other less!

These, Coleridge, are the few sketches I have thought worth preserving; how will they relish thus detached? Will you reject all or any of them? They are thine: do whatsoever thou listest with them. My eyes ache with writing long and late, and I wax wondrous sleepy; God bless you and yours, me and mine! Good night.

C. LAMB.

I will keep my eyes open reluctantly a minute longer to tell you, that I love you for those simple, tender, heart-flowing lines with which you conclude your last, and in my eyes best, sonnet (so you call 'em),

"So, for the mother's sake, the child was dear, And dearer was the mother for the child."

Cultivate simplicity, Coleridge, or rather, I should say, banish elaborateness; for simplicity springs spontaneous from the heart, and carries into daylight its own modest buds and genuine, sweet, and clear flowers of expression. I allow no hot-beds in the gardens of Parnassus. I am unwilling to go to bed, and leave my sheet unfilled (a good piece of night-work for an idle body like me), so will finish with begging you to send me the earliest account of your complaint, its progress, or (as I hope to God you will be able to send me) the tale of your recovery, or at least amendment. My tenderest remembrances to your Sara.—

Once more good night.

[Coleridge, on November 2, had begun to suffer from his lifelong enemy, neuralgia, the result largely of worry concerning his future, so many of his projects having broken down. He was subduing it with laudanum—the beginning of that fatal habit.

We do not know what were the verses which Coleridge had sent Lamb, possibly the three sonnets on the birth of Hartley, the third of which is referred to below.

Lamb's decision in September to say or hear no more of his own poetry here breaks down. The reference to the Fairy Land sonnet is only partially explained by the parallel version which I printed on page 25; for "Fairy Land" was Coleridge's version. Either Lamb had made a new version, substituting "Fairy Land" for "Faery," or he wrote, "I allow it to run thus: Fairy Land, &c., &c., as you last wrote it." When reprinted, however, it ran as Lamb originally wished. The other fragments were those afterwards included in Coleridge's Poems, second edition, 1797.

"Love Sonnets." Lamb changed his mind again on this subject, and yet again.

Coleridge's last of the three sonnets on the birth of Hartley was entitled "Sonnet to a Friend [Charles Lloyd] who asked how I felt when the Nurse first presented my Infant to me." It closed with the lines which Lamb copies.]



LETTER 14

CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE

Nov. 14th, 1796.

Coleridge, I love you for dedicating your poetry to Bowles. Genius of the sacred fountain of tears, it was he who led you gently by the hand through all this valley of weeping, showed you the dark green yew trees and the willow shades where, by the fall of waters, you might indulge an uncomplaining melancholy, a delicious regret for the past, or weave fine visions of that awful future,

"When all the vanities of life's brief day Oblivion's hurrying hand hath swept away, And all its sorrows, at the awful blast Of the archangel's trump, are but as shadows past."

I have another sort of dedication in my head for my few things, which I want to know if you approve of, and can insert. I mean to inscribe them to my sister. It will be unexpected, and it will give her pleasure; or do you think it will look whimsical at all? As I have not spoke to her about it, I can easily reject the idea. But there is a monotony in the affections, which people living together or, as we do now, very frequently seeing each other, are apt to give in to: a sort of indifference in the expression of kindness for each other, which demands that we should sometimes call to our aid the trickery of surprise. Do you publish with Lloyd or without him? in either case my little portion may come last, and after the fashion of orders to a country correspondent I will give directions how I should like to have 'em done. The title-page to stand thus:—

POEMS,

CHIEFLY LOVE SONNETS BY

CHARLES LAMB, OF THE INDIA HOUSE.

Under this title the following motto, which, for want of room, I put over leaf, and desire you to insert, whether you like it or no. May not a gentleman choose what arms, mottoes, or armorial bearings the herald will give him leave, without consulting his republican friend, who might advise none? May not a publican put up the sign of the Saracen's Head, even though his undiscerning neighbour should prefer, as more genteel, the Cat and Gridiron?

(MOTTO.)

"This beauty, in the blossom of my youth, When my first fire knew no adulterate incense, Nor I no way to flatter but my fondness, In the best language my true tongue could tell me, And all the broken sighs my sick heart lend me, I sued and served. Long did I love this lady."

MASSINGER.

THE DEDICATION.

* * * * *

THE FEW FOLLOWING POEMS, CREATURES OF THE FANCY AND THE FEELING IN LIFE'S MORE VACANT HOURS, PRODUCED, FOR THE MOST PART, BY LOVE IN IDLENESS, ARE, WITH ALL A BROTHER'S FONDNESS, INSCRIBED TO MARY ANN LAMB, THE AUTHOR'S BEST FRIEND AND SISTER.

* * * * *

This is the pomp and paraphernalia of parting, with which I take my leave of a passion which has reigned so royally (so long) within me; thus, with its trappings of laureatship, I fling it off, pleased and satisfied with myself that the weakness troubles me no longer. I am wedded, Coleridge, to the fortunes of my sister and my poor old father. Oh! my friend, I think sometimes, could I recall the days that are past, which among them should I choose? not those "merrier days," not the "pleasant days of hope," not "those wanderings with a fair hair'd maid," which I have so often and so feelingly regretted, but the days, Coleridge, of a mother's fondness for her school-boy. What would I give to call her back to earth for one day, on my knees to ask her pardon for all those little asperities of temper which, from time to time, have given her gentle spirit pain; and the day, my friend, I trust will come; there will be "time enough" for kind offices of love, if "Heaven's eternal year" be ours. Hereafter, her meek spirit shall not reproach me. Oh, my friend, cultivate the filial feelings! and let no man think himself released from the kind "charities" of relationship: these shall give him peace at the last; these are the best foundation for every species of benevolence. I rejoice to hear, by certain channels, that you, my friend, are reconciled with all your relations. 'Tis the most kindly and natural species of love, and we have all the associated train of early feelings to secure its strength and perpetuity. Send me an account of your health; indeed I am solicitous about you. God love you and yours. C. LAMB.

[It seems to have been Coleridge's intention to dedicate the second edition of his Poems to Bowles; but he changed his mind and dedicated it to his brother, the Rev. George Coleridge. A sonnet to Bowles was included in the volume, a kind of sub-dedication of the other sonnets, but it had appeared also in the 1796 volume.

Lamb's instructions concerning his share in the 1797 volume were carried out, except that the sub-title was omitted.

The quotations "merrier days" ("happier days") and "wanderings with a fair-hair'd maid" are from Lamb's own sonnets; those in lines 9 and 10 from Dryden's Elegy on Mrs. Killigrew.

Coleridge had paid in the summer a long-deferred visit of reconciliation to his family at Ottery St. Mary.]



LETTER 15

CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE

[P.M. December 2, 1796 (Friday).]

I have delay'd writing thus long, not having by me my copy of your poems, which I had lent. I am not satisfied with all your intended omissions. Why omit 40: 63: 84: above all, let me protest strongly against your rejecting the "Complaint of Ninathoma," 86. The words, I acknowledge, are Ossian's, but you have added to them the "Music of Caril." If a vicarious substitute be wanting, sacrifice (and 'twill be a piece of self-denial too) the Epitaph on an Infant, of which its Author seems so proud, so tenacious. Or, if your heart be set on perpetuating the four-line-wonder, I'll tell you what [to] do: sell the copywright of it at once to a country statuary; commence in this manner Death's prime poet laureat; and let your verses be adopted in every village round instead of those hitherto famous ones "Afflictions sore long time I bore, Physicians were in vain". I have seen your last very beautiful poem in the Monthly Magazine—write thus, and you most generally have written thus, and I shall never quarrel with you about simplicity. With regard to my lines "Laugh all that weep," etc.—I would willingly sacrifice them, but my portion of the volume is so ridiculously little, that in honest truth I can't spare them. As things are, I have very slight pretensions to participate in the title-page.—White's book is at length reviewed in the Monthly; was it your doing, or Dyer's to whom I sent him? Or rather do you not write in the Critical? for I observed, in an Article of this Month's a line quoted out of that sonnet on Mrs. Siddons "with eager wond'ring and perturb'd delight"—and a line from that sonnet would not readily have occurred to a stranger. That sonnet, Coleridge, brings afresh to my mind the time when you wrote those on Bowles, Priestly, Burke—'twas 2 Christmases ago, and in that nice little smoky room at the Salutation, which is even now continually presenting itself to my recollection, with all its associated train of pipes, tobacco, Egghot, welch Rabbits, metaphysics and Poetry.

Are we NEVER to meet again? How differently I am circumstanced now—I have never met with any one, never shall meet with any one, who could or can compensate me for the loss of your society—I have no one to talk all these matters about to—I lack friends, I lack books to supply their absence. But these complaints ill become me: let me compare my present situation, prospects, and state of mind, with what they were but 2 months back—but 2 months. O my friend, I am in danger of forgetting the awful lessons then presented to me—remind me of them; remind me of my Duty. Talk seriously with me when you do write. I thank you, from my heart I thank you, for your sollicitude about my Sister. She is quite well,—but must not, I fear, come to live with us yet a good while. In the first place, because at present it would hurt her, and hurt my father, for them to be together: secondly from a regard to the world's good report, for I fear, I fear, tongues will be busy whenever that event takes place. Some have hinted, one man has prest it on me, that she should be in perpetual confinement—what she hath done to deserve, or the necessity of such an hardship, I see not; do you? I am starving at the India house, near 7 o'clock without my dinner, and so it has been and will be almost all the week. I get home at night o'erwearied, quite faint,—and then to CARDS with my father, who will not let me enjoy a meal in peace—but I must conform to my situation, and I hope I am, for the most part, not unthankful.

I am got home at last, and, after repeated games at Cribbage have got my father's leave to write awhile: with difficulty got it, for when I expostulated about playing any more, he very aptly replied, "If you won't play with me, you might as well not come home at all." The argument was unanswerable, and I set to afresh.

I told you, I do not approve of your omissions. Neither do I quite coincide with you in your arrangements: I have not time to point out a better, and I suppose some self-associations of your own have determined their place as they now stand. Your beginning indeed with the Joan of Arc lines I coincide entirely with: I love a splendid Outset, a magnificent Portico; and the Diapason is Grand—the Religious Musings— when I read them, I think how poor, how unelevated, unoriginal, my blank verse is, "Laugh all that weep" especially, where the subject demanded a grandeur of conception: and I ask what business they have among yours—but Friendship covereth a multitude of defects. Why omit 73? At all events, let me plead for those former pages,—40. 63. 84. 86. I should like, for old acquaintance sake, to spare 62. 119 would have made a figure among Shenstone's Elegies: you may admit it or reject, as you please. In the Man of Ross let the old line stand as it used: "wine-cheer'd moments" much better than the lame present one. 94, change the harsh word "foodful" into "dulcet" or, if not too harsh, "nourishing." 91, "moveless": is that as good as "moping"?—8, would it not read better omitting those 2 lines last but 6 about Inspiration? I want some loppings made in the Chatterton; it wants but a little to make it rank among the finest irregular Lyrics I ever read. Have you time and inclination to go to work upon it—or is it too late—or do you think it needs none? Don't reject those verses in one of your Watchmen—"Dear native brook," &c.—nor, I think, those last lines you sent me, in which "all effortless" is without doubt to be preferred to "inactive." If I am writing more than ordinarily dully, 'tis that I am stupified with a tooth-ache. 37, would not the concluding lines of the 1st paragraph be well omitted—& it go on "So to sad sympathies" &c.? In 40, if you retain it, "wove" the learned Toil is better than "urge," which spoils the personification. Hang it, do not omit 48. 52. 53. What you do retain tho', call sonnets for God's sake, and not effusions,—spite of your ingenious anticipation of ridicule in your Preface. The last 5 lines of 50 are too good to be lost, the rest is not much worth. My tooth becomes importunate—I must finish. Pray, pray, write to me: if you knew with what an anxiety of joy I open such a long packet as you last sent me, you would not grudge giving a few minutes now and then to this intercourse (the only intercourse, I fear we two shall ever have), this conversation, with your friend—such I boast to be called.

God love you and yours.

Write to me when you move, lest I direct wrong.

Has Sara no poems to publish? Those lines 129 are probably too light for the volume where the Religious Musings are—but I remember some very beautiful lines addrest by somebody at Bristol to somebody at London.

God bless you once more.

C. LAMB.

Thursday Night.

[This letter refers to the preparation of Coleridge's second edition of his Poems. "Why omit 40, 63, 84?"—these were "Absence," "To the Autumnal Moon" and the imitation from Ossian.

The "Epitaph on an Infant" ran thus:—

Ere Sin could blight, or Sorrow fade, Death came with friendly care; The opening bud to Heaven conveyed And bade it blossom there.

Lamb applied the first two lines to a sucking pig in his Elia essay on "Roast Pig" many years later. The old epitaph runs:—

Afflictions sore long time I bore, Physicians were in vain; Till Heaven did please my woes to ease, And take away my pain.

Coleridge's very beautiful poem in the Monthly Magazine (for October) was "Reflections on Entering into Active Life," beginning, "Low was our pretty cot."

Lamb's lines, "Laugh all that weep," I cannot find. We learn later that they were in blank verse.

Falstaff's Letters was reviewed in the Monthly Review for November, 1796, very favourably. The article was quite possibly by Coleridge.

The sonnet on Mrs. Siddons was written by Lamb and Coleridge together when Coleridge was in London at the end of 1794, and it formed one of a series of sonnets on eminent persons printed in the Morning Chronicle, of which those on Bowles, Priestley and Burke were others. The quotation from it was in an article in the November Critical Review on the "Musae Etonenses."

"One man has prest it on me." There is reason to suppose that this was John Lamb, the brother.

As it happened Coleridge did not begin his second edition with the "Joan of Arc" lines, but with the "Ode to the New Year." The "Religious Musings" brought Coleridge's part of the volume to a close.

The poem on page 73 was "In the Manner of Spenser." The poems on pages 40, 63, 84, we know; that on page 86 was "The Complaint of Ninathoma." "To Genevieve" was on page 62. That on page 119 was "To a Friend in Answer to a Melancholy Letter." Coleridge never restored the phrase "wine-cheer'd moments" to "The Man of Ross." He did not change "foodful" to "dulcet" in "To an Infant." He did not alter "moveless" to "moping" in "The Young Ass." He left the Inspiration passage as it was in the "Monody on Chatterton." Not that he disregarded all Lamb's advice, as a comparison of the 1796 and 1797 editions of the Poems will show.

The poem "Dear native brook" was the sonnet "To the River Otter." Coleridge took Lamb's counsel. The poem containing the phrase "all effortless" was that "Addressed to a Young Man of Fortune" (Charles Lloyd). Coleridge did not include it. The poem on page 37 was "To a Young Lady with a Poem on the French Revolution." Nos. 48, 52 and 53 were the sonnets to Priestley, Kosciusko and Fayette. The last five lines of 50 were in the sonnet to Sheridan. The lines on page 129 were Sara's verses "The Silver Thimble." None of these were reprinted in 1797. The beautiful lines addressed from somebody at Bristol to somebody at London were those from Sara Coleridge to Lamb, referred to on page 33. Coleridge persisted in the use of the word "effusion".]



LETTER 16

CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE

[Dated at end: Dec. 5, 1796.]

To a young Lady going out to India

Hard is the heart, that does not melt with Ruth When care sits cloudy on the brow of Youth, When bitter griefs the female bosom swell And Beauty meditates a fond farewell To her loved native land, and early home, In search of peace thro' "stranger climes to roam."[*]

The Muse, with glance prophetic, sees her stand, Forsaken, silent Lady, on the strand Of farthest India, sickening at the war Of waves slow-beating, dull upon the shore Stretching, at gloomy intervals, her eye O'er the wide waters vainly to espy The long-expected bark, in which to find Some tidings of a world she has left behind.

In that sad hour shall start the gushing tear For scenes her childhood loved, now doubly dear, In that sad hour shall frantic memory awake Pangs of remorse for slighted England's sake, And for the sake of many a tender tye Of Love or Friendship pass'd too lightly by. Unwept, unpitied, midst an alien race, And the cold looks of many a stranger face, How will her poor heart bleed, and chide the day, That from her country took her far away.

[Footnote: Bowles. ["The African," line 27.]]

[Lamb has struck his pen through the foregoing poem.]

Coleridge, the above has some few decent [lines in] it, and in the paucity of my portion of your volume may as well be inserted; I would also wish to retain the following if only to perpetuate the memory of so exquisite a pleasure as I have often received at the performance of the tragedy of Douglas, when Mrs. Siddons has been the Lady Randolph. Both pieces may be inserted between the sonnets and the sketches—in which latter, the last leaf but one of them, I beg you to alter the words "pain and want" to "pain and grief," this last being a more familiar and ear-satisfying combination. Do it I beg of you. To understand the following, if you are not acquainted with the play, you should know that on the death of Douglas his mother threw herself down a rock; and that at that time Scotland was busy in repelling the Danes.

THE TOMB OF DOUGLAS See the Tragedy of that name When her son, her Douglas died, To the steep rock's fearful side Fast the frantic mother hied.

O'er her blooming warrior dead Many a tear did Scotland shed, And shrieks of long and loud lament From her Grampian hills she sent.

Like one awakening from a trance, She met the shock of Lochlin's lance. Denmark On her rude invader foe Return'd an hundred fold the blow. Drove the taunting spoiler home: Mournful thence she took her way To do observance at the tomb, Where the son of Douglas [lay],

Round about the tomb did go In solemn state and order slow, Silent pace, and black attire, Earl, or Knight, or good Esquire, Who e'er by deeds of valour done In battle had high honors won; Whoe'er in their pure veins could trace The blood of Douglas' noble race.

With them the flower of minstrels came, And to their cunning harps did frame In doleful numbers piercing rhimes, Such strains as in the olden times Had soothed the spirit of Fingal Echoing thro' his fathers' Hall.

"Scottish maidens, drop a tear O'er the beauteous Hero's bier. Brave youth and comely 'bove compare; All golden shone his burnish'd hair; Valor and smiling courtesy Played in the sunbeams of his eye. Closed are those eyes that shone so fair And stain'd with blood his yellow hair. Scottish maidens drop a tear O'er the beauteous Hero's bier."

"Not a tear, I charge you, shed For the false Glenalvon dead; Unpitied let Glenalvon lie, Foul stain to arms and chivalry."

"Behind his back the traitor came, And Douglas died without his fame."

[Lamb has struck his pen through the lines against which I have put an asterisk.]

*"Scottish maidens, drop a tear, *O'er the beauteous hero's bier." *"Bending warrior, o'er thy grave, Young light of Scotland early spent! Thy country thee shall long lament, *Douglas 'Beautiful and Brave'! And oft to after times shall tell, In Hopes sweet prime my Hero fell."

[Lamb has struck his pen through the remainder.]

"Thane or Lordling, think no scorn Of the poor and lowly-born. In brake obscure or lonely dell The simple flowret prospers well; The gentler virtues cottage-bred, omitted Thrive best beneath the humble shed. Low-born Hinds, opprest, obscure, Ye who patiently endure To bend the knee and bow the head, And thankful eat another's bread Well may ye mourn your best friend dead, Till Life with Grief together end: He would have been the poor man's friend."

"Bending, warrior, o'er thy grave, Young light of Scotland early spent! omitted Thy country thee shall long lament, Douglas, 'Beautiful and Brave'! And oft to after times shall tell, omitted In life's young prime my Hero fell."

[Sidenote: Is "morbid wantonness of woe" a good and allowable phrase?]

At length I have done with verse making. Not that I relish other people's poetry less,—theirs comes from 'em without effort, mine is the difficult operation of a brain scanty of ideas, made more difficult by disuse. I have been reading the "Task" with fresh delight. I am glad you love Cowper. I could forgive a man for not enjoying Milton, but I would not call that man my friend, who should be offended with the "divine chit-chat of Cowper." Write to me.—God love you and yours,

C. L.

[The name of the young lady going out to India is not known; the verses were printed in the Monthly Magazine for March, 1797, but not in Coleridge's Poems, 1797. "The Tomb of Douglas" was included in that volume. The poem in which the alteration "pain and want" was to be made (but was not made, or was made and cancelled later) was "Fancy Employed on Divine Subjects."

The "divine chit-chat of Cowper" was Coleridge's own phrase. It is a pretty circumstance that Lamb and Cowper now share (with Keats) a memorial in Edmonton church.]

* * * * *



LETTER 17

CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE

[Little Queen Street, Night of Dec. 9th,] 1796.

I am sorry I cannot now relish your poetical present as thoroughly as I feel it deserves; but I do not the less thank Lloyd and you for it.

In truth, Coleridge, I am perplexed, & at times almost cast down. I am beset with perplexities. The old hag of a wealthy relation, who took my aunt off our hands in the beginning of trouble, has found out that she is "indolent and mulish"—I quote her own words—and that her attachment to us is so strong that she can never be happy apart. The Lady, with delicate Irony, remarks that, if I am not an Hypocrite, I shall rejoyce to receive her again; and that it will be a means of making me more fond of home to have so dear a friend to come home to! The fact is, she is jealous of my aunt's bestowing any kind recollections on us, while she enjoys the patronage of her roof. She says she finds it inconsistent with her own "ease and tranquility" to keep her any longer, & in fine summons me to fetch her home. Now, much as I should rejoyce to transplant the poor old creature from the chilling air of such patronage, yet I know how straitend we are already, how unable already to answer any demand which sickness or any extraordinary expence may make. I know this, and all unused as I am to struggle with perplexities I am somewhat nonplusd, to say no worse. This prevents me from a thorough relish of what Lloyd's kindness and yours have furnished me with. I thank you tho from my heart, and feel myself not quite alone in the earth.

Before I offer, what alone I have to offer, a few obvious remarks on the poems you sent me, I can[not] but notice the odd coincidence of two young men, in one age, carolling their grandmothers. Love—what L[loyd] calls "the feverish and romantic tye"—hath too long domineerd over all the charities of home: the dear domestic tyes of father, brother, husband. The amiable and benevolent Cowper has a beautiful passage in his "Task,"—some natural and painful reflections on his deceased parents: and Hayley's sweet lines to his mother are notoriously the best things he ever wrote. Cowper's lines, some of them, are—

"How gladly would the man recall to life The boy's neglected sire; a mother, too. That softer name, perhaps more gladly still, Might he demand them at the gates of death."

I cannot but smile to see my Granny so gayly deck'd forth: tho', I think, whoever altered "thy" praises to "her" praises, "thy" honoured memory to "her" honoured memory, did wrong—they best exprest my feelings. There is a pensive state of recollection, in which the mind is disposed to apostrophise the departed objects of its attachment, and, breaking loose from grammatical precision, changes from the 1st to the 3rd, and from the 3rd to the 1st person, just as the random fancy or the feeling directs. Among Lloyd's sonnets, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 11th, are eminently beautiful. I think him too lavish of his expletives; the do's and did's, when they occur too often, bring a quaintness with them along with their simplicity, or rather air of antiquity which the patrons of them seem desirous of conveying.

The lines on Friday are very pleasing—"Yet calls itself in pride of Infancy woman or man," &c., "affection's tottering troop"—are prominent beauties. Another time, when my mind were more at ease, I could be more particular in my remarks, and I would postpone them now, only I want some diversion of mind. The Melancholy Man is a charming piece of poetry, only the "whys" (with submission) are too many. Yet the questions are too good to be any of 'em omitted. For those lines of yours, page 18, omitted in magazine, I think the 3 first better retain'd—the 3 last, which are somewhat simple in the most affronting sense of the word, better omitted: to this my taste directs me—I have no claim to prescribe to you. "Their slothful loves and dainty sympathies" is an exquisite line, but you knew that when you wrote 'em, and I trifle in pointing such out. Tis altogether the sweetest thing to me you ever wrote—tis all honey. "No wish profaned my overwhelmed heart, Blest hour, it was a Luxury to be"—I recognise feelings, which I may taste again, if tranquility has not taken his flight for ever, and I will not believe but I shall be happy, very happy again. The next poem to your friend is very beautiful: need I instance the pretty fancy of "the rock's collected tears"—or that original line "pour'd all its healthful greenness on the soul"?—let it be, since you asked me, "as neighbouring fountains each reflect the whole"—tho' that is somewhat harsh; indeed the ending is not so finish'd as the rest, which if you omit in your forthcoming edition, you will do the volume wrong, and the very binding will cry out. Neither shall you omit the 2 following poems. "The hour when we shall meet again," is fine fancy, tis true, but fancy catering in the Service of the feeling—fetching from her stores most splendid banquets to satisfy her. Do not, do not omit it. Your sonnet to the River Otter excludes those equally beautiful lines, which deserve not to be lost, "as the tired savage," &c., and I prefer that copy in your Watchman. I plead for its preference.

Another time, I may notice more particularly Lloyd's, Southey's, Dermody's Sonnets. I shrink from them now: my teazing lot makes me too confused for a clear judgment of things, too selfish for sympathy; and these ill-digested, meaningless remarks I have imposed on myself as a task, to lull reflection, as well as to show you I did not neglect reading your valuable present. Return my acknowledgments to Lloyd; you two appear to be about realising an Elysium upon earth, and, no doubt, I shall be happier. Take my best wishes. Remember me most affectionately to Mrs. C., and give little David Hartley—God bless its little heart!—a kiss for me. Bring him up to know the meaning of his Christian name, and what that name (imposed upon him) will demand of him.

C. LAMB.

God love you!

I write, for one thing, to say that I shall write no more till you send me word where you are, for you are so soon to move.

My sister is pretty well, thank God. We think of you very often. God bless you: continue to be my correspondent, and I will strive to fancy that this world is not "all barrenness."

[The poetical present, as the late Mr. Dykes Campbell pointed out in The Atheneum, June 13, 1891, consisted of Lloyd's Poems on the Death of Priscilla Farmer, to which Lamb had contributed "The Grandame," and of a little privately-printed collection of poems by Coleridge and Lloyd, which they had intended to publish, but did not. The pamphlet has completely vanished. In addition to these two works the poetical present also comprised another privately-printed collection, a little pamphlet of twenty-eight sonnets which Coleridge had arranged for the purpose of binding up with those of Bowles. It included three of Bowles', four of Coleridge's, four of Lamb's, four of Southey's, and the remainder by Dermody, Lloyd, Charlotte Smith, and others. A copy of this pamphlet is preserved in the South Kensington Museum.

"The poems you sent me." This would be Lloyd's Poems on the Death of Priscilla Farmer. When Lamb reprinted "The Grandame" in Coleridge's second edition, 1797, he put back the original text.

I now take up Mr. Dykes Campbell's comments on the letter, where it branches off from the Priscilla Farmer volume to the vanished pamphlet of poems by Coleridge and Lloyd:—

Beginning with Lloyd's "Melancholy Man" (first printed in the Carlisle volume of 1795), he [Lamb] passes to Coleridge's poem on leaving the honeymoon-cottage at Clevedon, "altogether the sweetest thing to me," says Lamb, "you ever wrote." The verses had appeared in the Monthly Magazine two months before.... That Lamb's counsel was followed to some extent may be gathered from a comparison between the text of the magazine and that of 1797:—

"Once I saw (Hallowing his sabbath-day by quietness) A wealthy son of Commerce saunter by, Bristowa's citizen: he paus'd, and look'd, With a pleas'd sadness, and gazed all around, Then ey'd our Cottage, and gaz'd round again, And said, it was a blessed little place! And we were blessed!" Monthly Magazine.

"Once I saw (Hallowing his Sabbath-day by quietness) A wealthy son of Commerce saunter by, Bristowa's citizen. Methought it calm'd His thirst of idle gold, and made him muse With wiser feelings: for he paus'd, and look'd With a pleas'd sadness, and gaz'd all around, Then ey'd our cottage, and gaz'd round again, And sigh'd and said, it was a blessed place. And we were blessed." Poems, 1797.

It will be observed that Coleridge in 1797 inserted some lines which were not in the magazine. They were probably restored from a MS. copy Lamb had previously seen, and if Coleridge did not cancel all that Lamb wisely counselled, he certainly drew the sting of the "affronting simplicity" by removing the word "little." The comical ambiguity of the Bristol man's exclamation as first reported could hardly have failed to drive Lamb's dull care away for a moment or two.

[In] "the next poem to your friend," ... [Lamb is] speaking of Coleridge's lines "To Charles Lloyd"—those beginning

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