« PreviousContinue »
the confession of which I know not whether augured great things from the first number, it has more of vanity or modesty in it. As to. There is some exquisite poetry interspersed. my blank verse, I am so dismally slow and I have re-read the extract from the Religious sterile of ideas (I speak from my heart) that Musings,' and retract whatever invidious I much question if it will ever come to any there was in my censure of it as elaborate. issue. I have hitherto only hammered out a There are times when one is not in a disposifew independent, unconnected snatches, not tion thoroughly to relish good writing. I in a capacity to be sent. I am very ill, and have re-read it in a more favourable mowill rest till I have read your poems, for ment, and hesitate not to pronounce it which I am very thankful. I have one more sublime. If there be anything in it apfavour to beg of you, that you never mention proaching to tumidity (which I meant not Mr. May's affair in any sort, much less think to infer ; by elaborate I meant simply laof repaying. Are we not focci-nauci-what- boured), it is the gigantic hyperbole by d’ye-call-'em-ists? We have just learned which you describe the evils of existing that my poor brother has had a sad accident, society; 'snakes, lions, hyenas, and behea large stone blown down by yesterday's moths,' is carrying your resentment beyond high wind has bruised his leg in a most bounds. The pictures of 'The Simoom,' of shocking manner; he is under the care of Frenzy and Ruin,' of The Whore of Cruikshanks. Coleridge ! there are 10,000 Babylon,' and 'The Cry of Foul Spirits disobjections against my paying you a visit at herited of Earth,' and 'the strange beatitude' Bristol ; it cannot be else ; but in this world which the good man shall recognise in heaven, 'tis better not to think too much of pleasant as well as the particularising of the children possibles, that we may not be out of humour of wretchedness (I have unconsciously inwith present insipids. Should anything bring cluded every part of it), form a variety of you to London, you will recollect No. 7, uniform excellence. I hunger and thirst to Little Queen Street, Holborn.
read the poem complete. That is a capital I shall be too ill to call on Wordsworth line in your sixth number. myself, but will take care to transmit him bis poem, when I have read it. I saw Le
This dark, frieze-coated, hoarse, teeth-chattering Grice the day before his departure, and mentioned incidentally his ' teaching the young They are exactly such epithets as Burns idea how to shoot.' Knowing him and the would have stumbled on, whose poem on the probability there is of people having a pro- ploughed-up daisy you seem to have had in pensity to pun in his company, you will not mind. Your complaint that of your readers wonder that we both stumbled on the same some thought there was too much, some too pun at once, he eagerly anticipating me, little original matter in your numbers, ‘he would teach him to shoot !' Poor Le reminds me of poor dead Parsons in the Grice! if wit alone could entitle a man to 'Critic.' 'Too little incident! Give me leave respect, &c., he has written a very witty little to tell you, sir, there is too much incident.' I pamphlet lately, satirical upon college decla- had like to have forgot thanking you for that mations. When I send White's book, I will exquisite little morsel, the first Sclavonian add that. I am sorry there should be any Song. The expression in the second,—'more difference between you and Southey. 'Be- happy to be unhappy in hell ;' is it not very tween you two there should be peace,' tho' quaint ? Accept my thanks, in common I must say I have borne him no good will with those of all who love good poetry, for since he spirited you away froin among us. 'The Braes of Yarrow.' I congratulate you What is become of Moschus? You sported on the enemies you must have made hy your some of his sublimities, I see, in your Watch-splendid invective against the barterers in man. Very decent things. So much for to- human fesh and sinews. Coleridge ! you night from your afflicted, headachey, sore will rejoice to hear tbnt Cowper is recovered throatey, humble servant, C. LAMB." from his lunacy, and is employed on his
translation of the Italian, &c., poems of Tuesday night.—Of your Watchman, the Milton for an edition where Fuseli presides Review of Burke was the best prose. I as designer. Coleridge! to an idler like
myself, to write and receive letters are both Musings.' I shall read the whole carefully, very pleasant, but I wish not to break in and in some future letter take the liberty to upon your valuable time by expecting to particularise my opinions of it. Of what is hear very frequently from you. Reserve new to me among your poems next to the that obligation for your moments of lassitude, “Musings,' that beginning 'My Pensive Sara' when you have nothing else to do; for your gave me most pleasure: the lines in it I just loco-restive and all your idle propensities, of alluded to are most exquisite; they made course, have given way to the duties of pro- my sister and self smile, as conveying a viding for a family. The
mail is come in, but pleasing picture of Mrs. C. checking your no parcel ; yet this is Tuesday. Farewell, wild wanderings, which we were so fond of then, till to-morrow, for a niche and a nook I hearing you indulge when among us. It has must leave for criticisms. By the way I endeared us more than anything to your hope you do not send your own only copy of good lady, and your own self-reproof that Joan of Arc; I will in that case return it follows delighted us. 'Tis a charming poem immediately.
throughout (you have well remarked that “Your parcel is come; you have been charming, admirable, exquisite are the words lavish of your presents.
expressive of feelings more than conveying “ Wordsworth's poem I have hurried of ideas, else I might plead very well want of through, not without delight. Poor Lovell' room in my paper as excuse for generalising). my heart almost accuses me for the light I want room to tell you how we are charmed manner I spoke of him above, not dreaming with your verses in the manner of Spenser, of his death. My heart bleeds for your &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. I am glad you resume accumulated troubles; God send you through the 'Watchman.' Change the name ; leave 'em with patience. I conjure you dream not out all articles of news, and whatever things that I will ever think of being repaid ; the are peculiar to newspapers, and confine yourvery word is galling to the ears. I have self to ethics, verse, criticism-or rather do read all your "Religious Musings' with unin- not confine yourself. Let your plan be as terrupted feelings of profound admiration. diffuse as the 'Spectator,' and I'll answer You may safely rest your fame on it. The for it the work prospers. If I am vain best remaining things are what I have before enough to think I can be a contributor, rely read, and they lose nothing by my recollection on my inclinations. Coleridge! in reading of your manner of reciting 'em, for I too bear your "Religious Musings,' I felt a transient in mind 'the voice, the look,' of absent superiority over you. I have seen Priestly. friends, and can occasionally mimic their I love to see his name repeated in your manner for the amusement of those who writings. I love and honour him almost have seen 'em. Your impassioned manner profanely. You would be charmed with his of recitation I can recall at any time to mine Sermons, if you never read 'em. You have own heart and to the ears of the bystanders. doubtless read his books illustrative of the I rather wish you had left the monody on doctrine of Necessity. Prefixed to a late Chatterton concluding as it did abruptly. It work of his in answer to Paine, there is a had more of unity. The conclusion of your preface giving an account of the man, and his Religious Musings,' I fear will entitle you services to men, written by Lindsey, his to the reproof of your beloved woman, who dearest friend, well worth your reading. wisely will not suffer your fancy to run riot, “ Tuesday eve. Forgive my prolixity, bat bids you walk humbly with your God. which is yet too brief for all I could wish to The very last words, 'I exercise my young say. God give you comfort, and all that are noviciate thought in ministeries of heart- of your household ! Our loves and best good stirring song,' though not now new to me, wishes to Mrs. C.
C. LAMB.” cannot be enough admired.
To speak politely, they are a well-turned compliment to Poetry. I hasten to read 'Joan of Arc,' The parcel mentioned in the last letter &c. I have read your lines at the beginning brought the “Joan of Arc," and a request of second book : they are worthy of Milton; from Coleridge, that Lamb would freely but in my mind yield to your "Religious criticise his poems with a view to their
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
selection and correction for the contemplated 'Dead is the Douglas ! cold thy warrior volume. The reply is contained in the fol- frame, illustrious Buchan,' &c., are of kindred lowing letter which, written on several days, excellence with Gray's 'Cold is Cadwallo's begins at the extreme top of the first page, tongue,' &c. How famously the Maid baffles without any ceremony of introduction, and the Doctors, Seraphic and Irrefragable, 'with is comprised in three sides and a bit of all their trumpery !' Page 126, the procesfoolscap.
sion, the appearances of the Maid, of the Bastard Son of Orleans and of Tremouille,
are full of fire and fancy, and exquisite “ With "Joan of Arc' I have been de- melody of versification. The personifications lighted, amazed; I had not presumed to from line 303 to 309, in the heat of the expect anything of such excellence from battle, had better been omitted ; they are Southey. Why the poem is alone sufficient not very striking, and only encumber. The to redeem the character of the age we live converse which Joan and Conrade hold on in from the imputation of degenerating in the banks of the Loire is altogether beauPoetry, were there no such beings extant as tiful. Page 313, the conjecture that in dreams Burns, and Bowles, Cowper, and ; fill all things are that seem,' is one of those up the blank how you please ; I say nothing. conceits which the Poet delights to admit The subject is well chosen. It opens well. into his creed-a creed, by the way, more To become more particular, I will notice in marvellous and mystic than ever Athanasius their order a few passages that chiefly struck dreamed of. Page 315, I need only mention me on perusal. Page 26, 'Fierce and terrible those lines ending with 'She saw a serpent Benevolence !' is a phrase full of grandeur gnawing at her heart !' They are good and originality. The whole context made imitative lines, ‘he toiled and toiled, of toil me feel possessed, even like Joan herself. to reap no end, but endless toil and neverPage 28, 'It is most horrible with the keen ending woe.' Page 347, Cruelty is such as sword to gore the finely-fibred human frame,' Hogarth might have painted her. Page 361, and what follows, pleased me mightily. In all the passage about Love (where he seems the 2nd Book, the first forty lines in par- to confound conjugal love with creating and ticular are majestic and high-sounding. preserving love) is very confused, and sickens Indeed the whole vision of the Palace of me with a load of useless personifications ; Ambition and what follows are supremely else that ninth Book is the finest in the excellent. Your simile of the Laplander, volume — an exquisite combination of the ‘By Niemi's lake, or Balda Zhiok, or the ludicrous and the terrible: I have never read mossy stone of Solfar-Kapper,'
;'* will bear either, even in translation, but such I concomparison with any in Milton for fulness of ceive to be the manner of Dante or Ariosto. circumstance and lofty-pacedness of versifi- The tenth Book is the most languid. On the cation. Southey's similes, though many of whole, considering the celerity wherewith 'em are capital, are all inferior. In one of the poem was finished, I was astonished at his books, the simile of the oak in the storm the unfrequency of weak lines. I had exoccurs, I think, four times. To return; the pected to find it verbose. Joan, I think, light in which you view the heathen deities does too little in battle ; Dunois perhaps the is accurate and beautiful. Southey's personi- same ; Conrade too much. The anecdotes fications in this book are so many fine and interspersed among the battles refresh the faultless pictures. I was much pleased with mind very agreeably, and I am delighted your manner of accounting for the reason with the very many passages of simple why monarchs take delight in war. At the pathos abounding throughout the poem, 447th line you have placed Prophets and passages which the author of 'Crazy Kate? Enthusiasts cheek by jowl, on too intimate a might have written. Has not Master Southey footing for the dignity of the former. Neces- spoke very slightingly, in his preface, and sarian-like-speaking, it is correct. Page 98, disparagingly of Cowper's Homer? What
makes him reluctant to give Cowper his • Lapland mountains. published in Mr. Coleridge's Poem entitled “The Destiny fame? And does not Southey use too often of Nations : a Vision."
the expletives did,' and 'does ?' They have
The verses referred to are
a good effect at times, but are too incon- tranquillity.' It is the very reflex pleasure siderable, or rather become blemishes, when that distinguishes the tranquillity of a thinkthey mark a style. On the whole, I expect ing being from that of a shepherd, a modern Southey one day to rival Milton : I already one I would be understood to mean, a deem him equal to Cowper, and superior to Damætas, one that keeps other people's ail living poets besides. What says Cole- sheep. Certainly, Coleridge, your letter from ridge ? The 'Monody on Henderson’ is Shurton Bars has less merit than most immensely good, the rest of that little volume things in your volume ; personally it may is readable, and above mediocrity. I proceed chime in best with your own feelings, and to a more pleasant task; pleasant because therefore you love it best. has, however, the poems are yours; pleasant because you great merit. In your fourth epistle that is impose the task on me ; and pleasant, let me an exquisite paragraph, and fancy-full, of ' A add, because it will confer a whimsical im- stream there is which rolls in lazy flow,' portance on me, to sit in judgment upon your &c. &c. 'Murmurs sweet undersong 'mid rhymes. First, though, let me thank you jasmin bowers' is a sweet line, and so are again and again, in my own and my sister's the three next. The concluding simile is name, for your invitations ; nothing could far-fetched—'tempest-honoured' is a quaintgive us more pleasure than to come, but ish phrase. (were there no other reasons) while my “Yours is a poetical family. I was much brother's leg is so bad it is out of the surprised and pleased to see the signature of question. Poor fellow ! he is very feverish Sara to that elegant composition, the fifth and light-headed, but Cruikshanks has pro- epistle. I dare not criticise the ‘Religious nounced the symptoms favourable, and gives Musings;' I like not to select any part, where us every hope that there will be no need of all is excellent. I can only admire, and amputation : God send not! We are neces- thank you for it in the name of a Christian, sarily confined with him all the afternoon as well as a lover of good poetry ; only let and evening till very late, so that I am me ask, is not that thought and those words stealing a few minutes to write to you. in Young, 'stands in the sun,'—
-or is it only “Thank you for your frequent letters ; you such as Young, in one of his better moments, are the only correspondent, and, I might might have writ? add, the only friend I have in the world. I
* Believe thou, O my soul, go nowhere, and have no acquaintance. Slow Life is a vision shadowy of truth; of speech, and reserved of manners, no one
And vice, and anguish, and the wormy grave, seeks or cares for my society; and I am left
Shapes of a dream !' alone. Allen calls only occasionally, as I thank you for these lines in the name of a though it were a duty rather, and seldom necessarian, and for what follows in next stays ten minutes. Then judge how thank- paragraph, in the name of a child of fancy. ful I am for your letters ! Do not, however, After all, you cannot, nor ever will, write burthen yourself with the correspondence. anything with which I shall be so delighted I trouble you again so soon, only in obedience as what I have heard yourself repeat. You to your injunctions. Complaints apart, pro- came to town, and I saw you at a time when ceed we to our task. I am called away to your heart was yet bleeding with recent thence must wait upon my brother ; wounds. Like yourself
, I was sore galled 80 must delay till to-morrow. Farewell. with disappointed hope ; you had Wednesday.
many an holy lay “ Thursday.-I will first notice what is
That, mourning, soothed the mourner on his way;' new to me. Thirteenth page ; ‘The thrilling tones that concentrate the soul' is a nervous “I had ears of sympathy to drink them in, line, and the six first lines of page 14 are very and they yet vibrate pleasant on the sense. pretty; the twenty-first effusion a perfect When I read in your little volume, your thing. That in the manner of Spenser is nineteenth effusion, or the twenty-eighth or very sweet, particularly at the close : the twenty-ninth, or what you call the 'Sigh,'I thirty-fifth effusion is most exquisite ; that think I hear you again. I image to myself line in particular, 'And, tranquil, muse upon the little smoky room at the Salutation and
Cat, where we have sat together through the 'gaze upon the waves below.' What follows winter nights, beguiling the cares of life with now may come next as detached verses, Poesy. When you left London, I felt a suggested by the Monody, rather than a part dismal void in my heart. I found myself cut of it. They are, indeed, in themselves, very off, at one and the same time, from two most sweet : dear to me. How blest with ye the path
* And we, at sober ere, would round thce throng, could I have trod of quiet life!' In your Hanging enraptured on thy stately song!' conversation you had blended so many pleasant fancies that they cheated me of my in particular, perhaps. If I am obscure, you grief. But in your absence the tide of may understand me by counting lines : I melancholy rushed in again and did its worst have proposed omitting twenty-four lines : mischief by overwhelming my reason. I I feel that thus compressed it would gain have recovered, but feel a stupor that makes energy, but think it most likely you will not me indifferent to the hopes and fears of this agree with me; for who shall go about to life. I sometimes wish to introduce a bring opinions to the bed of Procrustes, and religious turn of mind, but habits are strong introduce among the sons of men a monotony things, and my religious fervours are confined, of identical feelings? I only propose with alas ! to some fleeting moments of occasional diffidence. Reject you, if you please, with solitary devotion. A correspondence, opening as little remorse as you would the colour of with you, has roused me a little from my a coat or the pattern of a buckle, where our lethargy and made me conscious of existence. fancies differed. Indulge me in it: I will not be very trouble “The ‘Pixies' is a perfect thing, and so some ! At some future time I will amuse are the ‘Lines on the Spring,' page 28. The you with an account, as full as my memory Epitaph on an Infant,' like a Jack-o'will permit, of the strange turn my frenzy lanthorn, has danced about (or like Dr. took. I look back upon it at times with a Forster's scholars) out of the Morning gloomy kind of envy; for, while it lasted, I Chronicle into the Watchman, and thence had many, many hours of pure happiness. back into your collection. It is very pretty, Dream not, Coleridge, of having tasted all and you seem to think so, but, may be, the grandeur and wildness of fancy till you o'erlooked its chief merit, that of filling up a have gone mad! All now seems to me vapid, whole page. I had once deemed sonnets of comparatively so. Excuse this selfish digres- unrivalled use that way, but your Epitaphs, sion. Your ‘Monody' is so superlatively I find, are the more diffuse. “Edmund' still excellent, that I can only wish it perfect, holds its place among your best verses. 'Ah! which I can't help feeling it is not quite. fair delights' to 'roses round,' in your Poem Indulge me in a few conjectures ; what I am called' Absence,' recall (none more forcibly) going to propose would make it more com- to my mind the tones in which you recited it. pressed, and, I think, more energetic, though' I will not notice, in this tedious (to you) I am sensible at the expense of many manner, verses which have been so long beautiful lines. Let it begin 'Is this the delightful to me, and which you already land of song-ennobled line ?' and proceed to know my opinion of. Of this kind are 'Otway's famished form ;' then, “Thee Bowles, Priestly, and that most exquisite Chatterton,' to 'blaze of Seraphim ;' then, and most Bowles-like of all, the nineteenth * clad in Nature's rich array,' toʻorient day;' effusion. It would have better ended with then, “but soon the scathing lightning,' to agony of care :' the two last lines are 'blighted land ;' then, “sublime of thought,' obvious and unnecessary, and you need not to his bosom glows;' then
now make fourteen lines of it ; now it is re
christened from a Sonnet to an Effusion. • But soon upon his poor unsheltered head
Schiller might have written the twentieth Did Penury her sickly mildew shed;
effusion : 'tis worthy of him in any sense. I And soon are fled the charms of early grace, And joy's wild gleams that lightened o'er his face.' was glad to meet with those lines you sent
me, when my sister was so ill ; I had lost the Then “youth of tumultuous soul' to 'sigh,' copy, and I felt not a little proud at seeing as before. The rest may all stand down to my name in your verse. The complaint of