The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5
Edited by E. V. Lucas

Part 2 out of 14

back again. The epitaph on an infant was in _The Watchman_, No. IX. (see
note on page 62). The poem "Edmund" is called "Lines on a Friend who
died of a frenzy fever induced by calumnious reports." The lines in
"Absence" are those in the second stanza of the poem. They run thus:--

Ah fair Delights! that o'er my soul
On Memory's wing, like shadows fly!
Ah Flowers! which Joy from Eden stole
While Innocence stood smiling by!--
But cease, fond Heart! this bootless moan:
Those Hours on rapid Pinions flown
Shall yet return, by ABSENCE crowned,
And scatter livelier roses round.

The 19th Effusion, beginning "Thou bleedest, my poor heart," is known as
"On a Discovery Made Too Late." The 20th Effusion is the sonnet to
Schiller. The lines which were sent to Lamb, written in December, 1794,
are called "To a Friend, together with an unfinished poem" ("Religious
Musings"). Coleridge's "Restless Gale" is the imitation of Ossian,
beginning, "The stream with languid murmur creeps." "Foodful" occurs
thus in the lines "To an Infant":--

Alike the foodful fruit and scorching fire
Awake thy eager grasp and young desire.

Coleridge did not alter the phrase.

Lamb contributed four effusions to this volume of Coleridge's: the 7th,
to Mrs. Siddons (written in conjunction with Coleridge), the 11th, 12th
and 13th. All were signed C. L. Coleridge had permitted himself to make
various alterations. The following parallel will show the kind of
treatment to which Lamb objected:--


Was it some sweet device of Faery
That mock'd my steps with many a lonely glade,
And fancied wanderings with a fair-hair'd maid?
Have these things been? or what rare witchery,
Impregning with delights the charmed air,
Enlighted up the semblance of a smile
In those fine eyes? methought they spake the while
Soft soothing things, which might enforce despair
To drop the murdering knife, and let go by
His foul resolve. And does the lonely glade
Still court the foot-steps of the fair-hair'd maid?
Still in her locks the gales of summer sigh?
While I forlorn do wander reckless where,
And 'mid my wanderings meet no Anna there.


Was it some sweet device of faery land
That mock'd my steps with many a lonely glade,
And fancied wand'rings with a fair-hair'd maid?
Have these things been? Or did the wizard wand
Of Merlin wave, impregning vacant air,
And kindle up the vision of a smile
In those blue eyes, that seem'd to speak the while
Such tender things, as might enforce Despair
To drop the murth'ring knife, and let go by
His fell resolve? Ah me! the lonely glade
Still courts the footsteps of the fair-hair'd maid,
Among whose locks the west-winds love to sigh:
But I forlorn do wander, reckless where,
And mid my wand'rings find no ANNA there!

In Effusion 12 Lamb had written:--

Or we might sit and tell some tender tale
Of faithful vows repaid by cruel scorn,
A tale of true love, or of friend forgot;
And I would teach thee, lady, how to rail
In gentle sort, on those who practise not
Or Love or pity, though of woman born.

Coleridge made it:--

But ah! sweet scenes of fancied bliss, adieu!
On rose-leaf beds amid your faery bowers
I all too long have lost the dreamy hours!
Beseems it now the sterner Muse to woo,
If haply she her golden meed impart
To realize the vision of the heart.

Again in the 13th Effusion, "Written at Midnight, by the Sea-side, after
a Voyage," Lamb had dotted out the last two lines. Coleridge substituted
the couplet:--

How Reason reel'd! What gloomy transports rose!
Till the rude dashings rock'd them to repose.

Effusion 2, which Lamb would omit, was the sonnet "To Burke;" Effusion
3, "To Mercy" (on Pitt); Effusion 5, "To Erskine;" Effusion 7, Lamb and
Coleridge's joint sonnet, "To Mrs. Siddons;" and Effusion 8, "To
Koskiusko." The "Lines Written in Early Youth" were afterwards called
"Lines on an Autumnal Evening." The poem called "Recollection," in _The
Watchman_, was reborn as "Sonnet to the River Otter." The lines on the
early blossom were praised by Lamb in a previous letter. The 10th
Effusion was the sonnet to Earl Stanhope.

Godwin was William Godwin, the philosopher. We shall later see much of
him. It was Allen's wife, not Stoddart's, who had a grown-up daughter.

_Ned Evans_ was a novel in four volumes, published in 1796, an imitation
of _Tom Jones_, which presumably Coleridge was reviewing for the
_Critical Review_.

Young W. Evans is said by Mr. Dykes Campbell to have been the only son
of the Mrs. Evans who befriended Coleridge when he was at Christ's
Hospital, the mother of his first love, Mary Evans. Evans was at school
with Coleridge and Lamb. We shall meet with him again.

William Lisle Bowles (1762-1850), the sonneteer, who had exerted so
powerful a poetical influence on Coleridge's mind, was at this time
rector of Cricklade in Wiltshire (1792-1797), but had been ill at Bath.
The elegy in question was "Elegiac Stanzas written during sickness at
Bath, December, 1795." The lines quoted by Lamb are respectively in the
6th, 4th, 5th and 19th Stanzas.

Sophia Pringle. Probably the subject of a Catnach or other popular
broadside. I have not found it.

Izaak Walton. Lamb returns to praises of _The Compleat Angler_ in his
letter to Robert Lloyd referred to on page 215.

The reference to the Unitarian chapel bears probably upon an offer of a
pulpit to Coleridge. The tutorship was probably that offered to
Coleridge by Mrs. Evans of Darley Hall (no relation to Mary Evans) who
wished him to teach her sons. Neither project was carried through.]


(_Apparently a continuation of a letter the first part of which is

[Begun] Monday Night [June 13, 1796].

UNFURNISHED at present with any sheet-filling subject, I shall continue
my letter gradually and journal-wise. My second thoughts entirely
coincide with your comments on "Joan of Arc," and I can only wonder at
my childish judgment which overlooked the 1st book and could prefer the
9th: not that I was insensible to the soberer beauties of the former,
but the latter caught me with its glare of magic,--the former, however,
left a more pleasing general recollection in my mind. Let me add, the
1st book was the favourite of my sister--and _I_ now, with Joan, often
"think on Domremi and the fields of Arc." I must not pass over without
acknowledging my obligations to your full and satisfactory account of
personifications. I have 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.

"And if a sigh that speaks regret of happier times appear,
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 grandmother (on whom the verses are
written) lived housekeeper in a family the fifty or sixty last years of
her life--that she was a woman of exemplary piety and goodness--and for
many years before her death was terribly afflicted with a cancer in her
breast which she bore with true Christian patience. You may think that I
have not kept enough apart the ideas of her heavenly and her earthly
master but recollect I have designedly given in to her own way of
feeling--and if she had a failing, 'twas that she respected her master's
family too much, not reverenced her Maker too little. The lines begin
imperfectly, as I may probably connect 'em if I finish at all,--and if I
do, Biggs shall print 'em in a more economical way than you 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, June 14, 1796.

I am not quite satisfied now with the Chatterton, and with your leave
will try my hand at it again. A master joiner, you know, may leave a
cabinet to be finished, when his own hands are full. 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 sea-fight;--"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 particular, in which
authors I can't help thinking there is a greater richness of poetical
fancy than in any one, Shakspeare excepted. Are you acquainted with
Massinger? At a hazard I will trouble you with a passage from a play of
his called "A Very Woman." The lines are spoken by a lover (disguised)
to his faithless mistress. You will remark the fine effect of the double
endings. You will by your ear distinguish the lines, for I write 'em as
prose. "Not far from where my father lives, _a lady_, a neighbour by,
blest with as great a _beauty_ as nature durst bestow without _undoing_,
dwelt, and most happily, as I thought then, and blest the house a
thousand times she _dwelt in_. 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 all the bravery my friends could _show me_, in all
the faith my innocence could _give me_, 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 serve this _lady_, long was my
travail, long my trade to _win her_; with all the duty of my soul I
SERVED HER." "Then she must love." "She did, but never me: she could not
_love me_; she would not love, she hated,--more, she _scorn'd me_; and
in so poor and base a way _abused me_ for all my services, for all my
_bounties_, so bold neglects flung on me."--"What out of love, and
worthy love, I _gave her_ (shame to her most unworthy mind,) to fools,
to girls, to fiddlers and her boys she flung, all in disdain of me." One
more passage strikes my eye from B. and F.'s "Palamon and Arcite." One
of 'em complains in prison: "This is all our world; we shall know
nothing here but one another, hear nothing but the clock that tells our
woes; the vine shall grow, but we shall never see it," &c. Is not the
last circumstance exquisite? I mean not to lay myself open by saying
they exceed Milton, and perhaps Collins, in sublimity. But don't you
conceive all poets after Shakspeare yield to 'em in variety of genius?
Massinger treads close on their heels; but you are most probably as well
acquainted with his writings as your humble servant. My quotations, in
that case, will only serve to expose my barrenness of matter. Southey in
simplicity and tenderness, is excelled decidedly only, I think, by
Beaumont and F. in his [their] "Maid's Tragedy" and some parts of
"Philaster" in particular, and elsewhere 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--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.

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

"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."


_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,

[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

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.]



[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.


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.


[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

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_,

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.]



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


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.




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:--


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.


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.


[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,

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.]



[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.--


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,



[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.


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.]



[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--


[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.]



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

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.]


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:--


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

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


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

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.


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

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.]



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:--




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,
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."



* * * * *


* * * * *

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.]



[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.


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".]



[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.

_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

*"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.]

* * * * *



[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


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