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valued 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, &c. Give it a lift, if you can. 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‘And if a sigh that speaks regret of happier times 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."
Having been encouraged by Coleridge to entertain the thought of publishing his verses, he submitted the poem called "The Grandame" to his friend, with the following letter:
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
read it again and again, and it will be a guide to my future taste. Perhaps I had estimated Southey's merits too much by number, weight, and measure. I now agree completely and entirely in your opinion of the genius of Southey. Your own image of melancholy is illustrative of what you teach, and in itself masterly. I conjecture it is 'disbranched' from one of your embryo 'hymns.' When they are mature of birth (were I you) I should print 'em in one separate volume, with 'Religious Musings,' and your part of the 'Joan of Arc.' Birds of the same soaring wing should hold on their flight in company. Once for all (and by renewing the subject you will only renew in me the condemnation of Tantalus), I hope to be able to pay you a visit (if you are then at Bristol) some time in the latter end of August or beginning of September, for a week or fortnight-before that time, office business puts an absolute veto on my coming.
A glimpse of joy that we have met shall shine and dry the tear.'
Of the blank verses I spoke of, the following lines are the only tolerably complete ones I have writ out of not more than one hundred
and fifty. That I get on so slowly you may fairly impute to want of practice in composition, when I declare to you that (the few verses which you have seen excepted) I have not writ fifty lines since I left school. It may not be amiss to remark that my grand"Monday night. mother (on whom the verses are written) "Unfurnished at present with any sheet-lived housekeeper in a family the fifty or filling subject, I shall continue my letter sixty last years of her life-that she was a gradually and journal-wise. My second woman of exemplary piety and goodnessthoughts entirely coincide with your com- and for many years before her death was ments on 'Joan of Arc,' and I can only terribly afflicted with a cancer in her breast wonder at my childish judgment which over- which she bore with true Christian patience. looked the 1st book and could prefer the 9th: You may think that I have not kept enough not that I was insensible to the soberer apart the ideas of her heavenly and her beauties of the former, but the latter caught earthly master, but recollect I have designme with its glare of magic,—the former, how- edly given in to her own way of feeling-and ever, left a more pleasing general recollection if she had a failing, 'twas that she respected in my mind. Let me add, the 1st book was her master's family too much, not reverenced the favourite of my sister—and I now, with her Maker too little. The lines begin imperJoan, often think on Domremi and the fields fectly, as I may probably connect 'em if I of Arc.' I must not pass over without acknow- finish at all,-and if I do, Biggs shall print ledging my obligations to your full and satis- 'em, in a more economical way than you factory account of personifications. I have yours, for (sonnets and all) they won't
make a thousand lines as I propose completing 'em, and the substance must be wire-drawn."
"Tuesday evening. "To your list of illustrative personifications, into which a fine imagination enters, I will take leave to add the following from Beaumont and Fletcher's' Wife for a Month;' 'tis the conclusion of a description of a seafight;"The game of death was never played so nobly; the meagre thief grew wanton in his mischiefs, and his shrunk hollow eyes smiled on his ruins.' There is fancy in these of a lower order, from 'Bonduca ;'-' Then did I see these valiant men of Britain, like boding owls creep into tods of ivy, and hoot their fears to one another nightly.' Not that it is a personification; only it just caught my eye in a little extract book I keep, which is full of quotations from B. and F. in partieular, in which authors I can't help thinking there is a greater richness of poetical fancy than in any one, Shakspeare excepted. Are occasionally; and perhaps by Cowper in his 'Crazy Kate,' and in parts of his translation; such as the speeches of Hecuba and Andromache. I long to know your opinion of that translation. The Odyssey especially is surely very Homeric. What nobler than the appearance of Phoebus at the beginning of the Iliad
was my travail, long my trade to win her;
you acquainted with Massinger? At a
The following letter, written at intervals, will give an insight into Lamb's spirit at this time, in its lighter and gayer moods. It would seem that his acquaintance with the old English dramatists had just commenced with Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger :
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
the lines ending with 'Dread sounding, bounding on the silver bow!'
"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."
"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,
"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.'
"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, 'Tædet 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.”
A proposal by Coleridge to print Lamb's poems with a new edition of his own (an association in which Lloyd was ultimately included) occasioned reciprocal communications of each other's verses, and many questions of small alterations suggested and argued on both sides. I have thought it better to omit much of this verbal criticism, which, not very interesting in itself, is unintelligible without a contemporary reference to the poems which are its subject. The next letter was written on hearing of Coleridge being afflicted with a painful disease.
TO MR. 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 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 'Tis among the few verses I ever wrote, that
"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
a man like Coleridge. This last is, I acknow- whatsoever thou listest with them. My eyes
"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, and 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. T on have lost my Grandame, she
"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, 1 should say, banish elaborateness; for simplicity springs spontaneous from the heart, and carries into day-light with it 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."
plaining 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:
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 ?
"This beauty, in the blossom of my youth,
THE FEW FOLLOWING POEMS,
CREATURES OF THE FANCY AND THE FEELING
WITH ALL A BROTHER'S FONDNESS,
MARY ANNE 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
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.
The following, written about this time, alludes to some desponding expression in a