The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5
Edited by E. V. Lucas
Part 7 out of 14
declaring, that a mob of happy faces crowding up at the pit door of
Drury-Lane Theatre just at the hour of five, give me ten thousand finer
pleasures, than I ever received from all the flocks of _silly sheep_,
that have whitened the plains of _Arcadia_ or _Epsom Downs_.
This passion for crowds is no where feasted so full as in London. The
man must have a rare _recipe_ for melancholy, who can be dull in
Fleet-street. I am naturally inclined to _hypochondria_, but in London
it vanishes, like all other ills. Often when I have felt a weariness or
distaste at home, have I rushed out into her crowded Strand, and fed my
humour, till tears have wetted my cheek for inutterable sympathies with
the multitudinous moving picture, which she never fails to present at
all hours, like the shifting scenes of a skilful Pantomime.
The very deformities of London, which give distaste to others, from
habit do not displease me. The endless succession of shops, where Fancy
(miscalled Folly) is supplied with perpetual new gauds and toys, excite
in me no puritanical aversion. I gladly behold every appetite supplied
with its proper food. The obliging customer, and the obliged tradesmen--
things which live by bowing, and things which exist but for homage, do
not affect me with disgust; from habit I perceive nothing but urbanity,
where other men, more refined, discover meanness. I love the very smoke
of London, because it has been the medium most familiar to my vision. I
see grand principles of honour at work in the dirty ring which
encompasses two combatants with fists, and principles of no less eternal
justice in the tumultuous detectors of a pickpocket. The salutary
astonishment with which an execution is surveyed, convinces me more
forcibly than an hundred volumes of abstract polity, that the universal
instinct of man, in all ages, has leaned to order and good government.
Thus an art of extracting morality, from the commonest incidents of a
town life, is attained by the same well-natured alchemy, with which the
_Foresters of Arden_ in a beautiful country
Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing--
Where has spleen her food but in London--humour, interest, curiosity,
suck at her measureless breasts without a possibility of being satiated.
Nursed amid her noise, her crowds, her beloved smoke--what have I been
doing all my life, if I have not lent out my heart with usury to such
Reader, in the course of my peregrinations about the great city, it is
hard, if I have not picked up matter, which may serve to amuse thee, as
it has done me, a winter evening long. When next we meet, I purpose
opening my budget--Till when, farewell.
* * * * *
"What is all this about?" said Mrs. Shandy. "A story of a cock and a
bull," said Yorick: and so it is; but Manning will take good-naturedly
what _God will send him_ across the water: only I hope he won't _shut_
his _eyes_, and _open_ his _mouth_, as the children say, for that is the
way to _gape_, and not to _read_. Manning, continue your laudable
purpose of making me your register. I will render back all your remarks;
and _I, not you_, shall have received usury by having read them. In the
mean time, may the great Spirit have you in his keeping, and preserve
our Englishmen from the inoculation of frivolity and sin upon French
_Allons_--or what is it you say, instead of _good-bye_?
Mary sends her kind remembrance, and covets the remarks equally with me.
[The reference to the "word-banker" and "register" is explained by
Manning's first letter to Lamb from Paris, in which he says: "I ... beg
you to keep all my letters. I hope to send you many--and I may in the
course of time, make some observations that I shall wish to recall to my
memory when I return to England."
"Are you and the First Consul _thick_?"--Napoleon, with whom Manning was
destined one day to be on terms. In 1803, on the declaration of war,
when he wished to return to England, Manning's was the only passport
that Napoleon signed; again, in 1817, on returning from China, Manning
was wrecked near St. Helena, and, waiting on the island for a ship,
conversed there with the great exile.
"Rumfordising." A word coined by Lamb from Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count
von Rumford, the founder of the Royal Institution, the deviser of the
Rumford stove, and a tireless scientific and philosophical
"Smellfungus." An allusion to Sterne's attack on Smollett, in _The
Sentimental Journey_: "The lamented Smelfungus travelled from Boulogne
to Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on; but he set out with the spleen
and jaundice, and every object he passed by was discoloured or
"The _Post_." Lamb had been writing criticisms of plays; but Stuart, as
we have seen, wanted them on the same night as the performance and Lamb
found this impossible.
"I have done but one thing"--"The Londoner," referred to later.
"The Professor's Rib"--Godwin's second wife, the widow Clairmont (mother
of Jane Clairmont), whom he had married in December, 1801.
"Fell"--R. Fell, author of a _Tour through the Batavian Republic_, 1801.
Later he compiled a _Life of Charles James Fox_, 1808. Lamb knew him, as
well as Fenwick, through Godwin.
"_Apropos_, I think you wrong about my play." _John Woodvil_ had just
been published and Lamb had sent Manning a copy. Manning, in return, had
written from Paris early in February: "I showed your Tragedy to
Holcroft, who had taste enough to discover that 'tis full of poetry--but
the plot he condemns _in toto_. Tell me how it succeeds. I think you
were ill advised to retrench so much. I miss the beautiful Branches you
have lopped off and regret them. In some of the pages the sprinkling of
words is so thin as to be quite _outre_. There you were wrong again."
"The Londoner" was published in the _Morning Post_, February 1, 1802. I
have quoted the article from that paper, as Lamb's copy for Manning has
disappeared. Concerning it Manning wrote, in his next letter--April 6,
1802--"I like your 'Londoner' very much, there is a deal of happy fancy
in it, but it is not strong enough to be seen by the generality of
readers, yet if you were to write a volume of essays in the same stile
you might be sure of its succeeding."]
CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN RICKMAN
16, Mitre Court Buildings, Inner Temple,
April 10, 1802.
Dear Rickman,--The enclosed letter explains itself. It will save me the
danger of a corporal interview with the man-eater who, if very
sharp-set, may take a fancy to me, if you will give me a short note,
declaratory of probabilities. These from him who hopes to see you once
or twice more before he goes hence, to be no more seen: for there is no
tipple nor tobacco in the grave, whereunto he hasteneth.
How clearly the Goul writes, and like a gentleman!
[A friend of Burnett, named Simonds, is meant. Lamb calls him a "Goul"
in another letter, and elsewhere says he eats strange flesh. See note on
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
[No date. ?End of April, 1802.]
My dear Manning,--Although something of the latest, and after two
months' waiting, your letter was highly gratifying. Some parts want a
little explication; for example, "the god-like face of the First
Consul." _What god_ does he most resemble? Mars, Bacchus, or Apollo? or
the god Serapis who, flying (as Egyptian chronicles deliver) from the
fury of the dog Anubis (the hieroglyph of an English mastiff), lighted
on Monomotapa (or the land of apes), by some thought to be Old France,
and there set up a tyranny, &c. Our London prints of him represent him
gloomy and sulky, like an angry Jupiter. I hear that he is very small,
even less than me, who am "less than the least of the Apostles," at
least than they are painted in the Vatican. I envy you your access to
this great man, much more than your seances and conversaziones, which I
have a shrewd suspicion must be something dull. What you assert
concerning the actors of Paris, that they exceed our comedians, "bad as
ours are," is _impossible_. In one sense it may be true, that their fine
gentlemen, in what is called genteel comedy, may possibly be more brisk
and _degage_ than Mr. Caulfield or Mr. Whitfield; but have any of them
the power to move _laughter in excess_? or can a Frenchman _laugh_? Can
they batter at your judicious ribs till they _shake_, nothing both to be
so shaken? This is John Bull's criterion, and it shall be mine. You are
Frenchified. Both your tastes and morals are corrupt and perverted.
By-and-by you will come to assert, that Buonaparte is as great a general
as the old Duke of Cumberland, and deny that one Englishman can beat
three Frenchmen. Read "Henry the Fifth" to restore your orthodoxy. All
things continue at a stay-still in London. I cannot repay your new
novelties with my stale reminiscences. Like the prodigal, I have spent
my patrimony, and feed upon the superannuated chaff and dry husks of
repentance; yet sometimes I remember with pleasure the hounds and
horses, which I kept in the days of my prodigality. I find nothing new,
nor anything that has so much of the gloss and dazzle of novelty, as may
rebound in narrative, and cast a reflective glimmer across the channel.
Something I will say about people that you and I know. Fenwick is still
in debt, and the Professor has not done making love to his new spouse. I
think he never looks into an almanack, or he would have found by the
calendar that the honeymoon was extinct a moon ago. Lloyd has written to
me and names you. I think a letter from Maison Magnan (is that a person
or a thing?) would gratify him. G. Dyer is in love with an Ideot who
loves a Doctor, who is incapable of loving anything but himself. A
puzzling circle of perverse Providences! A maze as un-get-out-again-able
as the House which Jack built. Southey is Secretary to the Chancellor of
the Irish Exchequer; L400 a year. Stoddart is turned Doctor of Civil
Law, and dwells in Doctors' Commons. I fear _his_ commons are short, as
they say. Did I send you an epitaph I scribbled upon a poor girl who
died at nineteen, a good girl and a pretty girl, and a clever girl, but
strangely neglected by all her friends and kin?
"Under this cold marble stone
Sleep the sad remains of one
Who, when alive, by few or none
Was loved, as loved she might have been,
If she prosperous days had seen,
Or had thriving been, I ween.
Only this cold funeral stone
Tells she was beloved by one,
Who on the marble graves his moan."
Brief, and pretty, and tender, is it not? I send you this, being the
only piece of poetry I have _done_, since the muses all went with T. M.
to Paris. I have neither stuff in my brain, nor paper in my drawer, to
write you a longer letter. Liquor and company and wicked tobacco
a'nights, have quite dispericraniated me, as one may say; but you who
spiritualise upon Champagne may continue to write long letters, and
stuff 'em with amusement to the end. Too long they cannot be, any more
than a codicil to a will which leaves me sundry parks and manors not
specified in the deed. But don't be _two months_ before you write again.
These from merry old England, on the day of her valiant patron St.
[This letter is usually dated 1803, but I feel sure it should be 1802.
Southey had given up his Irish appointment in that year, and Godwin's
honeymoon began in December, 1801.
"Even less than me." Mr. W. C. Hazlitt gives in _Mary and Charles Lamb_
a vivid impression of Lamb's spare figure. A farmer at Widford, Mr.
Charles Tween, himself not a big man, told Mr. Hazlitt that when walking
out with Lamb he would place his hands under his arm and lift him over
the stiles as if it were nothing. Napoleon's height was 5 feet 6 or 7
Thomas Caulfield, a brother of the antiquary and print-seller, James
Caulfield, was a comedian and mimic at Drury Lane; Whitfield was an
actor at Drury Lane, who later moved to Covent Garden.
"An epitaph." These lines were written upon a friend of Rickman's, Mary
Druitt of Wimborne. They were printed in the _Morning Post_ for February
7, 1804, signed C. L. See later.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
Sept. 8th, 1802.
Dear Coleridge,--I thought of not writing till we had performed some of
our commissions; but we have been hindered from setting about them,
which yet shall be done to a tittle. We got home very pleasantly on
Sunday. Mary is a good deal fatigued, and finds the difference of going
to a place, and coming _from_ it. I feel that I shall remember your
mountains to the last day I live. They haunt me perpetually. I am like a
man who has been falling in love unknown to himself, which he finds out
when he leaves the lady. I do not remember any very strong impression
while they were present; but, being gone, their mementos are shelved in
my brain. We passed a very pleasant little time with the Clarksons. The
Wordsworths are at Montagu's rooms, near neighbours to us. They dined
with us yesterday, and I was their guide to Bartlemy Fair!
[In the summer of 1802 the Lambs paid a sudden visit to Coleridge at
Keswick. Afterwards they went to Grasmere, although the Wordsworths were
away from home; but they saw Thomas Clarkson, the philanthropist, then
living at Ullswater (see the next letter). They had reached London again
on September 5. Procter records that on being asked how he felt when
among the lakes and mountains, Lamb replied that in order to bring down
his thoughts from their almost painful elevation to the sober regions of
life, he was obliged to think of the ham and beef shop near St. Martin's
Lane. Lamb says that after such a holiday he finds his office work very
strange. "I feel debased; but I shall soon break in my mountain spirit."
The last two words were a recollection of his own poem "The Grandame"--
hers was else
A mountain spirit....
This letter, the original of which is I know not where, is here, for
dismal copyright reasons, very imperfectly given. Mr. Macdonald prints
it apparently in full, although Mrs. Gilchrist in her memoir of Mary
Lamb supplies another passage, as follows:--"Lloyd has written me a fine
letter of friendship all about himself and Sophia and love and cant
which I have not answered. I have not given up the idea of writing to
him but it will be done very plainly and sincerely, without acrimony."
Lamb also says that Pi-pos (as Coleridge's second child Derwent was
called) was the only one, except a beggar's brat, that he had ever
wanted to steal from its parents.
He says also: "I was pleased to recognise your blank-verse poem (the
Picture) in the _Morn. Post_ of Monday. It reads very well, and I feel
some dignity in the notion of being able to understand it better than
most Southern readers."
Coleridge's poem "The Picture; or, The Lover's Resolution," was printed
in the _Morning Post_ for September 6. Its scenery was probably pointed
out to Lamb by Coleridge at Keswick.
Basil Montagu, the lawyer, an old friend of Wordsworth's. It is his son
Edward who figures in the "Anecdote for Fathers."
Bartholomew Fair, held at Smithfield, continued until 1855, but its
glories had been decreasing for some years.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
24th Sept., 1802, London.
My dear Manning,--Since the date of my last letter, I have been a
traveller. A strong desire seized me of visiting remote regions. My
first impulse was to go and see Paris. It was a trivial objection to my
aspiring mind, that I did not understand a word of the language, since I
certainly intend some time in my life to see Paris, and equally
certainly never intend to learn the language; therefore that could be no
objection. However, I am very glad I did not go, because you had left
Paris (I see) before I could have set out. I believe, Stoddart promising
to go with me another year prevented that plan. My next scheme, (for to
my restless, ambitious mind London was become a bed of thorns) was to
visit the far-famed Peak in Derbyshire, where the Devil sits, they say,
without breeches. _This_ my purer mind rejected as indelicate. And my
final resolve was a tour to the Lakes. I set out with Mary to Keswick,
without giving Coleridge any notice; for my time being precious did not
admit of it. He received us with all the hospitality in the world, and
gave up his time to show us all the wonders of the country. He dwells
upon a small hill by the side of Keswick, in a comfortable house, quite
enveloped on all sides by a net of mountains: great floundering bears
and monsters they seemed, all couchant and asleep. We got in in the
evening, travelling in a post-chaise from Penrith, in the midst of a
gorgeous sunshine, which transmuted all the mountains into colours,
purple, &c. &c. We thought we had got into fairyland. But that went off
(as it never came again--while we stayed we had no more fine sunsets);
and we entered Coleridge's comfortable study just in the dusk, when the
mountains were all dark with clouds upon their heads. Such an impression
I never received from objects of sight before, nor do I suppose 1 can
Glorious creatures, fine old fellows, Skiddaw, &c. I never shall forget
ye, how ye lay about that night, like an intrenchment; gone to bed, as
it seemed for the night, but promising that ye were to be seen in the
morning. Coleridge had got a blazing fire in his study; which is a
large, antique, ill-shaped room, with an old-fashioned organ, never
played upon, big enough for a church, shelves of scattered folios, an
AEolian harp, and an old sofa, half-bed, &c. And all looking out upon the
last fading view of Skiddaw and his broad-breasted brethren: what a
night! Here we stayed three full weeks, in which time I visited
Wordsworth's cottage, where we stayed a day or two with the Clarksons
(good people and most hospitable, at whose house we tarried one day and
night), and saw Lloyd. The Wordsworths were gone to Calais. They have
since been in London and past much time with us: he is now gone into
Yorkshire to be married to a girl of small fortune, but he is in
expectation of augmenting his own in consequence of the death of Lord
Lonsdale, who kept him out of his own in conformity with a plan my lord
had taken up in early life of making everybody unhappy. So we have seen
Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside, Ulswater (where the Clarksons live), and a
place at the other end of Ulswater--I forget the name--to which we
travelled on a very sultry day, over the middle of Helvellyn. We have
clambered up to the top of Skiddaw, and I have waded up the bed of
Lodore. In fine, I have satisfied myself, that there is such a thing as
that which tourists call _romantic_, which I very much suspected before:
they make such a spluttering about it, and toss their splendid epithets
around them, till they give as dim a light as at four o'clock next
morning the lamps do after an illumination. Mary was excessively tired,
when she got about half-way up Skiddaw, but we came to a cold rill (than
which nothing can be imagined more cold, running over cold stones), and
with the reinforcement of a draught of cold water she surmounted it most
manfully. Oh, its fine black head, and the bleak air atop of it, with a
prospect of mountains all about, and about, making you giddy; and then
Scotland afar off, and the border countries so famous in song and
ballad! It was a day that will stand out, like a mountain, I am sure, in
my life. But I am returned (I have now been come home near three
weeks--I was a month out), and you cannot conceive the degradation I
felt at first, from being accustomed to wander free as air among
mountains, and bathe in rivers without being controlled by any one, to
come home and _work_. I felt very _little_. I had been dreaming I was a
very great man. But that is going off, and I find I shall conform in
time to that state of life to which it has pleased God to call me.
Besides, after all, Fleet-Street and the Strand are better places to
live in for good and all than among Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to those
great places where I wandered about, participating in their greatness.
After all, I could not _live_ in Skiddaw. I could spend a year--two,
three years--among them, but I must have a prospect of seeing
Fleet-Street at the end of that time, or I should mope and pine away, I
know. Still, Skiddaw is a fine creature. My habits are changing, I
think: _i.e._ from drunk to sober. Whether I shall be happier or not
remains to be proved. I shall certainly be more happy in a morning; but
whether I shall not sacrifice the fat, and the marrow, and the kidneys,
_i.e._ the night, the glorious care-drowning night, that heals all our
wrongs, pours wine into our mortifications, changes the scene from
indifferent and flat to bright and brilliant!--O Manning, if I should
have formed a diabolical resolution, by the time you come to England, of
not admitting any spirituous liquors into my house, will you be my guest
on such shameworthy terms? Is life, with such limitations, worth trying?
The truth is, that my liquors bring a nest of friendly harpies about my
house, who consume me. This is a pitiful tale to be read at St. Gothard;
but it is just now nearest my heart. Fenwick is a ruined man. He is
hiding himself from his creditors, and has sent his wife and children
into the country. Fell, my other drunken companion (that has been: nam
hic caestus artemque repono), is turned editor of a "Naval Chronicle."
Godwin (with a pitiful artificial wife) continues a steady friend,
though the same facility does not remain of visiting him often. That
Bitch has detached Marshall from his house, Marshall the man who went to
sleep when the "Ancient Mariner" was reading: the old, steady,
unalterable friend of the Professor. Holcroft is not yet come to town. I
expect to see him, and will deliver your message. How I hate _this part_
of a letter. Things come crowding in to say, and no room for 'em. Some
things are too little to be told, _i.e._ to have a preference; some are
too big and circumstantial. Thanks for yours, which was most delicious.
Would I had been with you, benighted &c. I fear my head is turned with
wandering. I shall never be the same acquiescent being. Farewell; write
again quickly, for I shall not like to hazard a letter, not knowing
where the fates have carried you. Farewell, my dear fellow.
[Lamb suggests in Letter 54 that he knew some French. Marshall we met in
the letters to Godwin of December 14,1800, and to Manning, December 16,
"Holcroft"--Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809), a miscellaneous writer, who is
best known by his play "The Road to Ruin." Lamb says of him in his
"Letter to Southey" (see Vol. I. of this edition) that he was "one of
the most candid, most upright, and single-meaning men" that he had ever
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
October 9, 1802.
CAROLUS AGNUS COLERIDGIO SUO S.
Carissime--Scribis, ut nummos scilicet epistolarios solvam et postremo
in Tartara abeam: immo tu potius Tartaricum (ut aiunt) deprehendisti,
qui me vernacula mea lingua pro scriba conductitio per tot annos satis
eleganter usum ad Latine impure et canino fere ore latrandum per tuasmet
epistolas bene compositas et concinnatas percellere studueris. Conabor
tamen: Attamen vereor, ut AEdes istas nostri Christi, inter quas tanta
diligentia magistri improba [?improbi] bonis literulis, quasi per
clysterem quendam injectis, infra supraque olim penitus imbutus fui,
Barnesii et Marklandii doctissimorum virorum nominibus adhuc gaudentes,
barbarismis meis peregrinis et aliunde quaesitis valde dehonestavero
[_sic_]. Sed pergere quocunque placet. Adeste igitur, quotquot estis,
conjugationum declinationumve turmae, terribilia spectra, et tu imprimis
ades, Umbra et Imago maxima obsoletas (Diis gratiae) Virgae, qua novissime
in mentem recepta, horrescunt subito natales [nates], et parum deest quo
minus braccas meas ultro usque ad crura demittam, et ipse puer
Ista tua Carmina Chamouniana satis grandia esse mihi constat; sed hoc
mihi nonnihil displicet, quod in iis illae montium Grisosonum inter se
responsiones totidem reboant anglice, _God, God_, haud aliter atque
temet audivi tuas monies Cumbrianas resonare docentes, _Tod, Tod_, nempe
Doctorem infelicem: vocem certe haud Deum Sonantem. Pro caeteris plaudo.
Itidem comparationes istas tuas satis callidas et lepidas certe novi:
sed quid hoc ad verum? cum illi Consulari viro et _mentem irritabilem_
istam Julianam: et etiam _astutias frigidulas_ quasdam Augusto
propriores, nequaquam congruenter uno afflatu comparationis causa
insedisse affirmaveris: necnon nescio quid similitudinis etiam cum
Tiberio tertio in loco solicite produxetis. Quid tibi equidem cum uno
vel altero Caesare, cum universi Duodecim ad comparationes tuas se ultro
tulerint? Praeterea, vetustati adnutans, comparationes iniquas odi.
Istas Wordsworthianas nuptias (vel potius cujusdam _Edmundii_ tui) te
retulisse mirificum gaudeo. Valeas, Maria, fortunata nimium, et antiquae
illae Mariae Virgini (comparatione plusquam Caesareana) forsitan
comparanda, quoniam "beata inter mulieres:" et etiam fortasse
Wordsworthium ipsum tuum maritum Angelo Salutatori aequare fas erit,
quoniam e Coelo (ut ille) descendunt et Musae et ipsi Musicolae: at
Wordsworthium Musarum observantissimum semper novi. Necnon te quoque
affinitate hac nova, Dorothea, gratulor: et tu certe alterum _donum
Istum Ludum, quem tu, Coleridgi, Americanum garris, a Ludo (ut Ludi
sunt) maxime abhorrentem praetereo: nempe quid ad Ludum attinet, totius
illae gentis Columbianae, a nostra gente, eadem stirpe orta, ludi
singuli causa voluntatem perperam alienare? Quasso ego materiam ludi: tu
Denique valeas, et quid de Latinitate mea putes, dicas; facias ut
opossum illum nostrum volantem vel (ut tu malis) quendam Piscem
errabundum, a me salvum et pulcherrimum esse jubeas. Valeant uxor tua
cum Hartleiio nostro. Soror mea salva est et ego: vos et ipsa salvere
jubet. Ulterius progrediri [? progredi] non liquet: homo sum aeratus.
P.S.--Pene mihi exciderat, apud me esse Librorum a Johanno Miltono
Latine scriptorum volumina duo, quae (Deo volente) cum caeteris tuis
libris ocyus citius per Maria [?] ad te missura [_sic_] curabo; sed me
in hoc tali genere rerum nullo modo _festinantem_ novisti: habes
confitentem reum. Hoc solum dici [_sic_] restat, praedicta volumina
pulchra esse et omnia opera Latina J. M. in se continere. Circa
defensionem istam Pro Pop deg.. Ang deg.. acerrimam in praesens ipse praeclaro
Jussa tua Stuartina faciam ut diligenter colam.
Iterum iterumque valeas:
Et facias memor sis nostri.
[I append a translation from the pen of Mr. Stephen Gwynn:--
CHARLES LAMB TO HIS FRIEND COLERIDGE, GREETING.
DEAR FRIEND--You write that I am to pay my debt, to wit in coin of
correspondence, and finally that I am to go to Tartarus: no but it is
you have caught a Tartar (as the saying is), since after all these years
employing my own vernacular tongue, and prettily enough for a hired
penman, you have set about to drive me by means of your well composed
and neatly turned epistles to gross and almost doggish barking in the
Latin. Still, I will try: And yet I fear that the Hostel of our
Christ,--wherein by the exceeding diligence of a relentless master I was
in days gone by deeply imbued from top to bottom with polite learning,
instilled as it were by a clyster--which still glories in the names of
the erudite Barnes and Markland, will be vilely dishonoured by my
outlandish and adscititious barbarisms. But I am determined to proceed,
no matter whither. Be with me therefore all ye troops of conjugations
and declensions, dread spectres, and approach thou chiefest, Shade and
Phantom of the disused (thank Heaven) Birch, at whose entry to my
imagination a sudden shiver takes my rump, and a trifle then more would
make me begin to let down my breeches to my calves, and turning boy,
That your Ode at Chamounix is a fine thing I am clear; but here is a
thing offends me somewhat, that in the ode your answers of the Grison
mountains to each other should so often echo in English God, God--in the
very tone that I have heard your own lips teaching your Cumbrian
mountains to resound Tod, Tod, meaning the unlucky doctor--a syllable
assuredly of no Godlike sound. For the rest, I approve.
Moreover, I certainly recognise that your comparisons are acute and
witty; but what has this to do with truth? since you have given to the
great Consul at once that irritable mind of Julius, and also a kind of
cold cunning, more proper to Augustus--attributing incongruous
characteristics in one breath for the sake of your comparison: nay, you
have even in the third instance laboriously drawn out some likeness to
Tiberius. What had you to do with one Caesar, or a second, when the
whole Twelve offered themselves to your comparison? Moreover, I agree
with antiquity, and think comparisons odious.
Your Wordsworth nuptials (or rather the nuptials of a certain Edmund of
yours) fill me with joy in your report. May you prosper, Mary, fortunate
beyond compare, and perchance comparable to that ancient Virgin Mary (a
comparison more than Caesarean) since "blessed art thou among women:"
perhaps also it will be no impiety to compare Wordsworth himself your
husband to the Angel of Salutation, since (like the angel) from heaven
descend both Muses and the servants of the Muses: whose devoutest votary
I always know Wordsworth to be. Congratulations to thee, Dorothea, in
this new alliance: you also assuredly are another "gift of God."
As for your Ludus [Lloyd], whom you talk of as an "American," I pass him
by as no sportsman (as sport goes): what kind of sport is it, to
alienate utterly the good will of the whole Columbian people, our own
kin, sprung of the same stock, for the sake of one Ludd [Lloyd]? I seek
the material for diversion: you heap on War.
Finally, fare you well, and pray tell me what you think of my Latinity.
Kindly wish health and beauty from me to our flying possum or (as you
prefer to call it) roving Fish. Good health to your wife and my friend
Hartley. My sister and I are well. She also sends you greeting. I do not
see how to get on farther: I am a man in debt [or possibly in
P.S.--I had almost forgot, I have by me two volumes of the Latin
writings of John Milton, which (D.V.) I will have sent you sooner or
later by Mary: but you know me no way precipitate in this kind: the
accused pleads guilty. This only remains to be said, that the aforesaid
volumes are handsome and contain all the Latin works of J. M. At present
I dwell with much delight on his vigorous defence of the English people.
I will be sure to observe diligently your Stuartial tidings.
Again and again farewell: and pray be mindful of me.
Coleridge's "Hymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni," was printed
in the _Morning Post_ for September 11, 1802. The poem contains this
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,
Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!
God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!
Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!
And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,
And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Canon Ainger suggests that by Tod, the unlucky doctor, Lamb meant Dr.
William Dodd (1729-1777), the compiler of the _Beauties of Shakespeare_
and the forger, who was hanged at Tyburn.
"Your comparisons." Coleridge's "Comparison of the Present State of
France with that of Rome under Julius and Augustus Caesar" was printed in
the _Morning Post_, September 21, September 25, and October 2, 1802. See
_Essays on His Own Times_, 1850, Vol. III., page 478.
Wordsworth's marriage to Mary Hutchinson, on October 4, 1802, had called
forth from Coleridge his ode on "Dejection," printed in the _Morning
Post_ for the same day, in which Wordsworth was addressed as Edmund. In
later editions Coleridge suppressed its personal character.
Ludus is Lloyd. Lamb means by "American" what we should mean by
"Stuartial." Referring to Daniel Stuart of the _Morning Post_.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
Oct. 11th, 1802.
Dear Coleridge,--Your offer about the German poems is exceedingly kind;
but I do not think it a wise speculation, because the time it would take
you to put them into prose would be nearly as great as if you versified
them. Indeed, I am sure you could do the one nearly as soon as the
other; so that, instead of a division of labour, it would be only a
multiplication. But I will think of your offer in another light. I dare
say I could find many things of a light nature to suit that paper, which
you would not object to pass upon Stuart as your own, and I should come
in for some light profits, and Stuart think the more highly of your
assiduity. "Bishop Hall's Characters" I know nothing about, having never
seen them. But I will reconsider your offer, which is very plausible;
for as to the drudgery of going every day to an editor with my scraps,
like a pedlar, for him to pick out, and tumble about my ribbons and
posies, and to wait in his lobby, &c., no money could make up for the
degradation. You are in too high request with him to have anything
unpleasant of that sort to submit to.
It was quite a slip of my pen, in my Latin letter, when I told you I had
Milton's Latin Works. I ought to have said his Prose Works, in two
volumes, Birch's edition, containing all, both Latin and English, a
fuller and better edition than Lloyd's of Toland. It is completely at
your service, and you must accept it from me; at the same time, I shall
be much obliged to you for your Latin Milton, which you think you have
at Howitt's; it will leave me nothing to wish for but the "History of
England," which I shall soon pick up for a trifle. But you must write me
word whether the Miltons are worth paying carriage for. You have a
Milton; but it is pleasanter to eat one's own peas out of one's own
garden, than to buy them by the peck at Covent Garden; and a book reads
the better, which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that we
know the topography of its blots and dog's-ears, and can trace the dirt
in it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins, or over a pipe,
which I think is the maximum. But, Coleridge, you must accept these
little things, and not think of returning money for them, for I do not
set up for a factor or general agent. As for the fantastic debt of 15L.,
I'll think you were dreaming, and not trouble myself seriously to attend
to you. My bad Latin you properly correct; but _natales_ for _nates_ was
an inadvertency: I knew better. _Progrediri_ or _progredi_ I thought
indifferent, my authority being Ainsworth. However, as I have got a fit
of Latin, you will now and then indulge me with an _epistola_. I pay the
postage of this, and propose doing it by turns. In that case I can now
and then write to you without remorse; not that you would mind the
money, but you have not always ready cash to answer small demands--the
Your "Epigram on the Sun and Moon in Germany" is admirable. Take 'em all
together, they are as good as Harrington's. I will muster up all the
conceits I can, and you shall have a packet some day. You and I together
can answer all demands surely: you, mounted on a terrible charger (like
Homer in the Battle of the Books) at the head of the cavalry: I will
lead the light horse. I have just heard from Stoddart. Allen and he
intend taking Keswick in their way home. Allen wished particularly to
have it a secret that he is in Scotland, and wrote to me accordingly
very urgently. As luck was, I had told not above three or four; but Mary
had told Mrs. Green of Christ's Hospital! For the present, farewell:
never forgetting love to Pi-pos and his friends.
[Coleridge, who seems to have been asked by Stuart of the _Morning Post_
for translations of German verse, had suggested, I presume, that he
should supply Lamb (who knew no German) with literal prose translations,
and that Lamb should versify them, as he had in the case of "Thekla's
Song" in Coleridge's translation of the first part of _Wallenstein_
nearly three years before. Lamb's suggestion is that he should send to
Stuart epigrams and paragraphs in Coleridge's name. Whether or not he
did so, I cannot say.
Bishop Hall's _Characters of Vices and Virtues_ was published in 1608.
Coleridge may have suggested that Lamb should imitate them for the
_Morning Post_. Lamb later came to know Hall's satires, for he quotes
from them in his review of Barron Field's poems in 1820.
Milton's prose works were edited by Thomas Birch, and by John Toland in
"My bad Latin"--in the letter of October 9, 1802. Ainsworth was Robert
Ainsworth, compiler of the _Thesaurus Linguae Latinae_, 1736, for many
years the best Latin dictionary.
"Your Epigram"--Coleridge's Epigram "On the Curious Circumstance that in
the German Language the Sun is feminine and the Moon masculine." It
appeared in the _Morning Post_ on October 11, 1802. Coleridge had been
sending epigrams and other verse to the _Post_ for some time. Harrington
was Sir John Harington (1561-1612), the author of many epigrams.
Stoddart and Allen we have met. I do not know anything of Mrs. Green.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
Oct. 23rd, 1802.
Your kind offer I will not a second time refuse. You shall send me a
packet and I will do them into English with great care. Is not there one
about W'm. Tell, and would not that in the present state of discussions
be likely to _tell_? The Epigrams I meant are to be found at the end of
Harrington's Translation of Orlando Furioso: if you could get the book,
they would some of them answer your purpose to modernize. If you can't,
I fancy I can. Baxter's Holy Commonwealth I have luckily met with, and
when I have sent it, you shall if you please consider yourself indebted
to me 3s. 6d. the cost of it: especially as I purchased it after your
solemn injunctions. The plain case with regard to my presents (which you
seem so to shrink from) is that I have not at all affected the character
of a DONOR, or thought of violating your sacred Law of Give and Take:
but I have been _taking_ and partaking the good things of your House
(when I know you were not over-abounding) and I now _give_ unto you of
mine; and by the grace of God I happen to be myself a little
super-abundant at present. I expect I shall be able to send you my final
parcel in about a week: by that time I shall have gone thro' all
Milton's Latin Works. There will come with it the Holy Commonwealth, and
the identical North American Bible which you helped to dogs ear at
Xt's.--I call'd at Howell's for your little Milton, and also to fetch
away the White Cross Street Library Books, which I have not forgot: but
your books were not in a state to be got at then, and Mrs. H. is to let
me know when she packs up. They will be sent by sea; and my little
praecursor will come to you by the Whitehaven waggon accompanied with
pens, penknife &c.--Mrs. Howell was as usual very civil; and asked with
great earnestness, if it were likely you would come to Town in the
winter. She has a friendly eye upon you.
I read daily your political essays. I was particularly pleased with
"Once a Jacobin:" though the argument is obvious enough, the style was
less swelling than your things sometimes are, and it was plausible _ad
populum_. A vessel has just arrived from Jamaica with the news of poor
Sam Le Grice's death. He died at Jamaica of the yellow fever. His course
was rapid and he had been very foolish; but I believe there was more of
kindness and warmth in him than in almost any other of our
schoolfellows. The annual meeting of the Blues is to-morrow, at the
London Tavern, where poor Sammy dined with them two years ago, and
attracted the notice of all by the singular foppishness of his dress.
When men go off the stage so early, it scarce seems a noticeable thing
in their epitaphs, whether they had been wise or silly in their
I am glad the snuff and Pi-pos's Books please. "Goody Two Shoes" is
almost out of print. Mrs. Barbauld's stuff has banished all the old
classics of the nursery; and the shopman at Newbery's hardly deigned to
reach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary asked for
them. Mrs. B.'s and Mrs. Trimmer's nonsense lay in piles about.
Knowledge insignificant and vapid as Mrs. B.'s books convey, it seems,
must come to a child in the _shape_ of _knowledge_, and his empty noddle
must be turned with conceit of his own powers when he has learnt that a
Horse is an animal, and Billy is better than a Horse, and such like;
instead of that beautiful Interest in wild tales which made the child a
man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a
child. Science has succeeded to Poetry no less in the little walks of
children than with men. Is there no possibility of averting this sore
evil? Think what you would have been now, if instead of being fed with
Tales and old wives' fables in childhood, you had been crammed with
geography and natural history?
Damn them!--I mean the cursed Barbauld Crew, those Blights and Blasts of
all that is Human in man and child.
As to the Translations, let me do two or three hundred lines, and then
do you try the Nostrums upon Stuart in any way you please. If they go
down I will bray more. In fact, if I got or could but get 50 l. a year
only, in addition to what I have, I should live in affluence.
Have you anticipated it, or could not you give a Parallel of Bonaparte
with Cromwell, particularly as to the contrast in their deeds affecting
_foreign_ states? Cromwell's interference for the Albigenses,
B[uonaparte]'s against the Swiss. Then Religion would come in; and
Milton and you could rant about our countrymen of that period. This is a
hasty suggestion, the more hasty because I want my Supper. I have just
finished Chapman's Homer. Did you ever read it?--it has most the
continuous power of interesting you all along, like a rapid original, of
any, and in the uncommon excellence of the more finished parts goes
beyond Fairfax or any of 'em. The metre is fourteen syllables, and
capable of all sweetness and grandeur. Cowper's damn'd blank verse
detains you every step with some heavy Miltonism; Chapman gallops off
with you his own free pace. Take a simile for an example. The council
"Being abroad, the earth was overlaid
With flockers to them, that came forth; as when of frequent bees
Swarms rise out of a hollow rock, repairing the degrees
_Of their egression endlessly, with ever rising new_
From forth their sweet nest; as their store, still as it faded, grew,
_And never would cease sending forth her clusters to the spring_,
They still crowd out so: this flock here, that there, belabouring
The loaded flowers. So," &c. &c.
[_Iliad_, Book II., 70-77.]
What _endless egression of phrases_ the dog commands!
Take another: Agamemnon wounded, bearing his wound heroically for the
sake of the army (look below) to a woman in labour.
"He, with his lance, sword, mighty stones, poured his heroic wreak
On other squadrons of the foe, whiles yet warm blood did break
Thro' his cleft veins: but when the wound was quite exhaust and crude,
The eager anguish did approve his princely fortitude.
As when most sharp and bitter pangs distract a labouring dame,
Which the divine Ilithiae, that rule the painful frame
Of human childbirth, pour on her; the Ilithiae that are
The daughters of Saturnia; with whose extreme repair
The woman in her travail strives to take the worst it gives;
With thought, it _must be, 'tis love's fruit, the end for which she lives;
The mean to make herself new born, what comforts_ will redound:
[_Iliad_, Book XI., 228-239.]
I will tell you more about Chapman and his peculiarities in my next. I
am much interested in him.
Yours ever affectionately, and Pi-Pos's.
[Coleridge was just now contributing political essays as well as verse
to the _Morning Post_. "Once a Jacobin always a Jacobin" appeared on
October 21, 1802. These were afterwards reprinted in _Essays on His Own
Times_. _Ad populum_ is a reminder of Coleridge's first political
essays, the _Conciones ad Populum_ of 1795.
"Goody Two Shoes"--One of Newbery's most famous books for children,
sometimes attributed to Goldsmith, though, I think, wrongly.
Mrs. Barbauld (1743-1825) was the author of _Hymns in Prose for
Children_, and she contributed to her brother John Aikin's _Evenings at
Home_, both very popular books. Lamb, who afterwards came to know Mrs.
Barbauld, described her and Mrs. Inchbald as the two bald women. Mrs.
Sarah Trimmer (1741-1810) was the author of many books for children; she
lives by the _Story of the Robins_.
The translation for Stuart either was not made or not accepted; nor did
Coleridge carry out the project of the parallel of Buonaparte with
Cromwell. Hallam, however, did so in his _Constitutional History of
England_, unfavourably to Cromwell.
George Chapman's _Odyssey_ was paraphrased by Lamb in his _Adventures of
Ulysses_, 1808. Lamb either did not return to the subject with
Coleridge, or his "next letter" has been lost.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
Nov. 4th, 1802.
Observe, there comes to you, by the Kendal waggon to-morrow, the
illustrious 5th of November, a box, containing the Miltons, the strange
American Bible, with White's brief note, to which you will attend;
Baxter's "Holy Commonwealth," for which you stand indebted to me 3s.
6d.; an odd volume of Montaigne, being of no use to me, I having the
whole; certain books belonging to Wordsworth, as do also the strange
thick-hoofed shoes, which are very much admired at in London. All these
sundries I commend to your most strenuous looking after. If you find the
Miltons in certain parts dirtied and soiled with a crumb of right
Gloucester blacked in the candle (my usual supper), or peradventure a
stray ash of tobacco wafted into the crevices, look to that passage more
especially: depend upon it, it contains good matter. I have got your
little Milton which, as it contains Salmasius--and I make a rule of
never hearing but one side of the question (why should I distract
myself?)--I shall return to you when I pick up the _Latina opera_. The
first Defence is the greatest work among them, because it is uniformly
great, and such as is befitting the very mouth of a great nation
speaking for itself. But the second Defence, which is but a succession
of splendid episodes slightly tied together, has one passage which if
you have not read, I conjure you to lose no time, but read it; it is his
consolations in his blindness, which had been made a reproach to him. It
begins whimsically, with poetical flourishes about Tiresias and other
blind worthies (which still are mainly interesting as displaying his
singular mind, and in what degree poetry entered into his daily soul,
not by fits and impulses, but engrained and innate); but the concluding
page, i.e. of _this passage_ (not of the _Defensio_) which you will
easily find, divested of all brags and flourishes, gives so rational, so
true an enumeration of his comforts, so human, that it cannot be read
without the deepest interest. Take one touch of the religious part:--"Et
sane haud ultima Dei cura caeci--(_we blind folks_, I understand it not
_nos_ for _ego_;)--sumus; qui nos, quominus quicquam aliud praeter ipsum
cernere valemus, eo clementius atque benignius respicere dignatur. Vae
qui illudit nos, vae qui laedit, execratione publica devovendo; nos ab
injuriis hominum non modo incolumes, sed pene sacros divina lex
reddidit, divinus favor: nee tam _oculorum hebetudine_ quam _coelestium
alarum umbra_ has nobis fecisse tenebras videtur, factas illustrare
rursus interiore ac longe praestabiliore lumine haud raro solet. Huc
refero, quod et amici officiosius nunc etiam quam solebant, colunt,
observant, adsunt; quod et nonnulli sunt, quibuscum Pyladeas atque
Theseas alternare voces verorum amicorum liceat.
"Vade gubernaculum mei pedis.
Da manum ministro amico.
Da collo manum tuam, ductor autem viae ero tibi ego."
All this, and much more, is highly pleasing to know. But you may easily
find it;--and I don't know why I put down so many words about it, but
for the pleasure of writing to you and the want of another topic.
Yours ever, C. LAMB.
To-morrow I expect with anxiety S.T.C.'s letter to Mr. Fox.
[Lamb refers to Milton's _Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano contra
Alexandrum Morum Ecclesiasten_. The following is a translation of the
Latin passage by Robert Fellowes:--
And indeed, in my blindness, I enjoy in no inconsiderable degree the
favour of the Deity; who regards me with more tenderness and compassion
in proportion as I am able to behold nothing but himself. Alas! for him
who insults me, who maligns and merits public execration! For the divine
law not only shields me from injury, but almost renders me too sacred to
attack; not indeed so much from the privation of my sight, as from the
overshadowing of those heavenly wings, which seem to have occasioned
this obscurity; and which, when occasioned, he is wont to illuminate
with an interior light, more precious and more pure. To this I ascribe
the more tender assiduities of my friends, their soothing attentions,
their kind visits, their reverential observances; among whom there are
some with whom I may interchange the Pyladean and Thesean dialogue of
_Orest_. Proceed, and be rudder of my feet, by showing me the most
endearing love. [Eurip. in _Orest_.]
And in another place--
"Lend your hand to your devoted friend,
Throw your arm round my neck, and
I will conduct you on the way."
Coleridge's first letter to Charles James Fox was printed in the
_Morning Post_ for November 4, 1802, his second on November 9.]
Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning
My dear Manning,--I must positively write, or I shall miss you at
Toulouse. I sit here like a decayed minute hand (I lie; _that_ does not
_sit_), and being myself the exponent of no time, take no heed how the
clocks about me are going. You possibly by this time may have explored
all Italy, and toppled, unawares, into Etna, while you went too near
those rotten-jawed, gap-toothed, old worn-out chaps of hell,--while I am
meditating a quiescent letter to the honest postmaster at Toulouse. But
in case you should not have been _felo de se_, this is to tell you, that
your letter was quite to my palate--in particular your just remarks upon
Industry, damned Industry (though indeed you left me to explore the
reason), were highly relishing.
I've often wished I lived in the Golden Age, when shepherds lay
stretched upon flowers, and roused themselves at their leisure,--the
genius there is in a man's natural idle face, that has not learned his
multiplication table! before doubt, and propositions, and corollaries,
got into the world! _Now_, as Joseph Cottle, a Bard of Nature, sings,
going up Malvern Hills,
"How steep! how painful the ascent!
It needs the evidence of _close deduction_
To know that ever I shall gain the top."
You must know that Joe is lame, so that he had some reason for so
singing. These two lines, I assure you, are taken _totidem literis_ from
a very _popular_ poem. Joe is also an Epic Poet as well as a
Descriptive, and has written a tragedy, though both his drama and
epopoiea are strictly _descriptive_, and chiefly of the _Beauties of
Nature_, for Joe thinks _man_ with all his passions and frailties not a
proper subject of the _Drama_. Joe's tragedy hath the following
surpassing speech in it. Some king is told that his enemy has engaged
twelve archers to come over in a boat from an enemy's country and
way-lay him; he thereupon pathetically exclaims--
"_Twelve_, dost thou say? Where be those dozen villains!"
Cottle read two or three acts out to us, very gravely on both sides,
till he came to this heroic touch,--and then he asked what we laughed
at? I had no more muscles that day. A poet that chooses to read out his
own verses has but a limited power over you. There is a bound where his
Apropos: if you should go to Florence or to Rome, inquire what works are
extant in gold, silver, bronze, or marble, of Benvenuto Cellini, a
Florentine artist, whose Life doubtless, you have read; or, if not,
without controversy you must read: so hark ye, send for it immediately
from Lane's circulating library. It is always put among the romances,
very properly; but you have read it, I suppose. In particular, inquire
at Florence for his colossal bronze statue (in the grand square or
somewhere) of Perseus. You may read the story in Tooke's "Pantheon."
Nothing material has _transpired_ in these parts. Coleridge has indited
a violent philippic against Mr. Fox in the "Morning Post," which is a
compound of expressions of humility, gentlemen-ushering-in most arrogant
charges. It will do Mr. Fox no real injury among those that know him.
[Manning's letter of September 10 had told Lamb he was on his way to
Cottle's epic was _Alfred_. The quoted lines were added in the twelfth
edition. He had also written _John the Baptist_.
"Cellini's Life." Lamb would probably have read the translation by
Nugent, 1771. Cellini's Perseus in bronze is in the Loggia de' Lanzi at
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
[Dated at end: Feb. 19th, 1803.]
My dear Manning,--The general scope of your letter afforded no
indications of insanity, but some particular points raised a scruple.
For God's sake don't think any more of "Independent Tartary." What have
you to do among such Ethiopians? Is there no _lineal descendant_ of
Is the chair empty? Is the sword unswayed?--depend upon't they'll never
make you their king, as long as any branch of that great stock is
remaining. I tremble for your Christianity. They'll certainly circumcise
you. Read Sir John Maundevil's travels to cure you, or come over to
There is a Tartar-man now exhibiting at Exeter Change. Come and talk
with him, and hear what he says first. Indeed, he is no very favorable
specimen of his Countrymen! But perhaps the best thing you can do, is to
_try_ to get the idea out of your head. For this purpose repeat to
yourself every night, after you have said your prayers, the words
Independent Tartary, Independent Tartary, two or three times, and
associate with them the _idea of oblivion_ ('tis Hartley's method with
obstinate memories), or say, Independent, Independent, have I not
already got an _Independence_? That was a clever way of the old
puritans--pun-divinity. My dear friend, think what a sad pity it would
be to bury such _parts_ in heathen countries, among nasty,
unconversable, horse-belching, Tartar people! Some say, they are
Cannibals; and then conceive a Tartar-fellow _eating_ my friend, and
adding the _cool malignity_ of mustard and vinegar! I am afraid 'tis the
reading of Chaucer has misled you; his foolish stories about Cambuscan
and the ring, and the horse of brass. Believe me, there's no such
things, 'tis all the poet's _invention_; but if there were such
_darling_ things as old Chaucer sings, I would _up_ behind you on the
Horse of Brass, and frisk off for Prester John's Country. But these are
all tales; a Horse of Brass never flew, and a King's daughter never
talked with Birds! The Tartars, really, are a cold, insipid, smouchey
set. You'll be sadly moped (if you are not eaten) among them. Pray _try_
and cure yourself. Take Hellebore (the counsel is Horace's, 'twas none
of my thought _originally_). Shave yourself oftener. Eat no saffron, for
saffron-eaters contract a terrible Tartar-like yellow. Pray, to avoid
the fiend. Eat nothing that gives the heart-burn. _Shave the upper lip_.
Go about like an European. Read no books of voyages (they're nothing but
lies): only now and then a Romance, to keep the fancy _under_. Above
all, don't go to any sights of _wild beasts_. _That has been your ruin_.
Accustom yourself to write familiar letters on common subjects to your
friends in England, such as are of a moderate understanding. And think
about common things more. There's your friend Holcroft now, has written
a play. You used to be fond of the drama. Nobody went to see it.
Notwithstanding this, with an audacity perfectly original, he faces the
town down in a preface, that they _did like_ it very much. I have heard
a waspish punster say, "Sir, why did you not laugh at my jest?" But for
a man boldly to face me out with, "Sir, I maintain it, you did laugh at
my jest," is a little too much. I have seen H. but once. He spoke of you
to me in honorable terms. H. seems to me to be drearily dull. Godwin is
dull, but then he has a dash of affectation, which smacks of the
coxcomb, and your coxcombs are always agreeable. I supped last night
with Rickman, and met a merry _natural_ captain, who pleases himself
vastly with once having made a Pun at Otaheite in the O. language. 'Tis
the same man who said Shakspeare he liked, because he was so _much of
the Gentleman_. Rickman is a man "absolute in all numbers." I think I
may one day bring you acquainted, if you do not go to Tartary first; for
you'll never come back. Have a care, my dear friend, of Anthropophagi!
their stomachs are always craving. But if you do go among [them] pray
contrive to _stink_ as soon as you can that you may [? not] hang a [?
on] hand at the Butcher's. 'Tis terrible to be weighed out for 5d.
a-pound. To sit at table (the reverse of fishes in Holland), not as a
guest, but as a meat.
God bless you: do come to England. Air and exercise may do great things.
Talk with some Minister. Why not your father?
God dispose all for the best. I have discharged my duty.
Your sincere fr'd,
19th Feb., 1803, London.
[Manning's letter producing this reply is endorsed by Lamb, "Received
February 19, 1803," so that he lost no time. Manning wrote: "I am
actually thinking of Independent Tartary as I write this, but you go out
and skate--you go out and walk some times? Very true, that's a
distraction--but the moment I set myself down quietly to any-thing, in
comes Independent Tartary--for example I attend chemical lectures but
every drug that Mr. Vauquelin presents to me tastes of Cream of
Tartar--in short I am become good for nothing for a time, and as I said
before, I should not have written now, but to assure you of my friendly
and affectionate remembrance, but as you are not in the same unhappy
circumstances, I expect you'll write to me and not measure page for
page. This is the first letter I have begun for England for three months
except one I sent to my Father yesterday." Manning returned to London
before leaving for China. He did not sail until 1806.
Prester John, the name given by old writers to the King of Ethiopia in
Abyssinia. A corruption of Belul Gian, precious stone; in Latin first
Johanus preciosus, then Presbyter Johannes, and then Prester John. In
Sir John Mandeville's _Voiage and Travails_, 1356, Prester John is said
to be a lineal descendant of Ogier the Dane.--Hartley would be David
Hartley, the metaphysician, after whom Coleridge's son was named.--The
reader must go to Chaucer's "Squire's Tale" for Cambuscan, King of
Sarra, in Tartary; his horse of brass which conveyed him in a day
wherever he would go; and the ring which enabled his daughter Canace to
understand the language of birds.
Holcroft's play was "A Tale of Mystery."
Rickman had returned from Ireland some months previously. The merry
natural captain was James Burney (1750-1821), with whom the Lambs soon
became very friendly. He was the centre of their whist-playing circle.
Burney, who was brother of Madame D'Arblay, had sailed with Captain
"The reverse of fishes in Holland." An allusion to Andrew Marvell's
whimsical satire against the Dutch:--
The fish ofttimes the burgher dispossessed
And sat not as a meat but as a guest.
"Why not your father?" Manning's father was the Rev. William Manning,
rector of Diss, in Norfolk, who died in 1810.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
Dear Manning, I send you some verses I have made on the death of a young
Quaker you may have heard me speak of as being in love with for some
years while I lived at Pentonville, though I had never spoken to her in
my life. She died about a month since. If you have interest with the
Abbe de Lisle, you may get 'em translated: he has done as much for the
When maidens such as Hester die,
Their place ye may not well supply,
Though ye among a thousand try,
With vain endeavour.
A month or more hath she been dead,
Yet cannot I by force be led
To think upon the wormy bed,
And her together.
A springy motion in her gait,
A rising step, did indicate
Of pride and joy no common rate,
That flush'd her spirit.
I know not by what name beside
I shall it call:--if 'twas not pride,
It was a joy to that allied,
She did inherit.
Her parents held the Quaker rule,
Which doth the human feeling cool,
But she was train'd in Nature's school,
Nature had blest her.
A waking eye, a prying mind,
A heart that stirs, is hard to bind,
A hawk's keen sight ye cannot blind,
Ye could not Hester.
My sprightly neighbour, gone before
To that unknown and silent shore,
Shall we not meet, as heretofore,
Some summer morning,
When from thy cheerful eyes a ray
Hath struck a bliss upon the day,
A bliss that would not go away,
A sweet forewarning?
[This letter is possibly only a fragment. I have supplied "Hester" from
the 1818 text.
The young Quaker was Hester Savory, the daughter of Joseph Savory, a
goldsmith of the Strand. She was married July 1, 1802, and died a few
"The Abbe de Lisle." L'Abbe Jacques Delille (1738-1813), known by his
_Georgiques_, 1770, a translation into French of Virgil's _Georgics_.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
[Dated at end: March 5, 1803.]
Dear Wordsworth, having a Guinea of your sister's left in hand, after
all your commissions, and as it does not seem likely that you will
trouble us, as the phrase is, for some time to come, I send you a pound
note, and with it the best things in the verse way I have lit upon for
many a day. I believe they will be new to you. You know Cotton, who
wrote a 2d part to Walton's Angler. A volume of his miscellaneous poems
is scarce. Take what follows from a poem call'd Winter. I omit 20
verses, in which a storm is described, to hasten to the best:--
Louder, and louder, still they come,
Nile's Cataracts to these are dumb,
The Cyclops to these Blades are still,
Whose anvils shake the burning hill.
Were all the stars-enlighten'd skies
As full of ears, as sparkling eyes,
This rattle in the crystal hall
Would be enough to deaf them all.
What monstrous Race is hither tost,
Thus to alarm our British Coast,
With outcries such as never yet
War, or confusion, could beget?
Oh! now I know them, let us home,
Our mortal Enemy is come,
Winter, and all his blustring train
Have made a voyage o'er the main.
With bleak, and with congealing winds,
The earth in shining chain he binds;
And still as he doth further pass,
Quarries his way with liquid glass.
Hark! how the Blusterers of the Bear
Their gibbous Cheeks in triumph bear,
And with continued shouts do ring
The entry of their palsied king!
The squadron, nearest to your eye,
Is his forlorn of Infantry,
Bowmen of unrelenting minds,
Whose shafts are feather'd with the winds.
Now you may see his vanguard rise
Above the earthy precipice,
Bold Horse, on bleakest mountains bred,
With hail, instead of provend, fed.
Their lances are the pointed locks,
Torn from the brows of frozen rocks,
Their shields are chrystal as their swords,
The steel the rusted rock affords.
See, the Main Body now appears!
And hark! th' Aeolian Trumpeters.
By their hoarse levels do declare,
That the bold General rides there.
And look where mantled up in white
He sleds it, like the Muscovite.
I know him by the port he bears,
And his lifeguard of mountaineers.
Their caps are furr'd with hoary frosts,
The bravery their cold kingdom boasts;
Their spungy plads are milk-white frieze,
Spun from the snowy mountain's fleece.
Their partizans are fine carv'd glass,
Fring'd with the morning's spangled grass;
And pendant by their brawny thighs
Hang cimetars of burnish'd ice.
Fly, fly, the foe advances fast,
Into our fortress let us haste,
Where all the roarers of the north
Can neither storm, nor starve, us forth.
There under ground a magazine
Of sovran juice is cellar'd in,
Liquor that will the siege maintain,
Should Phoebus ne'er return again.
'Tis that, that gives the poet rage,
And thaws the gelly'd blood of age,
Matures the young, restores the old,
And makes the fainting coward bold.
It lays the careful head to rest,
Calms palpitations in the breast,
Renders our live's misfortunes sweet,
And Venus frolic in the sheet.
Then let the chill Scirocco blow,
And gird us round with hills of snow,
Or else go whistle to the shore,
And make the hollow mountains roar.
Whilst we together jovial sit,
Careless, and crown'd with mirth and wit,
Where tho' bleak winds confine us home,
Our fancies thro' the world shall roam.
We'll think of all the friends we know,
And drink to all, worth drinking to;
When, having drunk all thine and mine,
We rather shall want health than wine!
But, where friends fail us, we'll supply
Our friendships with our Charity.
Men that remote in sorrows live,
Shall by our lusty bumpers thrive.
We'll drink the wanting into wealth,
And those that languish into health,
Th' afflicted into joy, th' opprest
Into security & rest.
The worthy in disgrace shall find
Favour return again more kind,
And in restraint who stifled lye,
Shall taste the air of liberty.
The brave shall triumph in success,
The lovers shall have mistresses,
Poor unregarded virtue praise,
And the neglected Poet bays.
Thus shall our healths do others good,
While we ourselves do all we wou'd,
For freed from envy, and from care,
What would we be, but what we are?
'Tis the plump Grape's immortal juice,
That does this happiness produce,
And will preserve us free together,
Maugre mischance, or wind, & weather.
Then let old winter take his course,
And roar abroad till he be hoarse,
And his lungs crack with ruthless ire,
It shall but serve to blow our fire.
Let him our little castle ply
With all his loud artillery,
Whilst sack and claret man the fort,
His fury shall become our sport.
Or let him Scotland take, and there
Confine the plotting Presbyter;
His zeal may freeze, whilst we kept warm
With love and wine can know no harm.
[Footnote 1: The winds.]
How could Burns miss the series of lines from 42 to 49?
There is also a long poem from the Latin on the inconveniences of old
age. I can't set down the whole, tho' right worthy, having dedicated the
remainder of my sheet to something else. I just excerp here and there,
to convince you, if after this you need it, that Cotton was a first
rate. Tis old Callus speaks of himself, once the delight of the Ladies
and Gallants of Rome:--
The beauty of my shape & face are fled,
And my revolted form bespeaks me dead,
For fair, and shining age, has now put on
A bloodless, funeral complexion.
My skin's dry'd up, my nerves unpliant are,
And my poor limbs my nails plow up and tear.
My chearful eyes now with a constant spring
Of tears bewail their own sad suffering;
And those soft lids, that once secured my eye
Now rude, and bristled grown, do drooping lie,
Bolting mine eyes, as in a gloomy cave,
Which there on furies, and grim objects, rave.
'Twould fright the full-blown Gallant to behold
The dying object of a man so old.
And can you think, that once a man he was,
Of human reason who no portion has.
The letters split, when I consult my book,
And every leaf I turn does broader look.
In darkness do I dream I see the light,
When light is darkness to my perishd sight.
* * * * *
Is it not hard we may not from men's eyes
Cloak and conceal Age's indecencies.
Unseeming spruceness th' old man discommends,
And in old men, only to live, offends.
* * * * *
How can I him a living man believe,
Whom light, and air, by whom he panteth, grieve;
The gentle sleeps, which other mortals ease,
Scarce in a winter's night my eyelids seize.
* * * * *
The boys, and girls, deride me now forlorn,
And but to call me, Sir, now think it scorn,
They jeer my countnance, and my feeble pace,
And scoff that nodding head, that awful was.
* * * * *
A song written by Cowper, which in stile is much above his usual, and
emulates in noble plainness any old balad I have seen. Hayley has just
published it &c. with a Life. I did not think Cowper _up_ to it:--
ON THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL GEORGE
Toll for the Brave!
The Brave, that are no more!
All sunk beneath the wave,
Fast by their native shore.--
Eight hundred of the Brave,
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel,
And laid her on her side.
A Land breeze shook the shrouds,
And she was over set;
Down went the Royal George,
With all her sails complete.
Toll for the Brave!
Brave Kempenfelt is gone:
His last sea-fight is fought;
His work of glory done.
It was not in the battle,
No tempest gave the shock;
She sprang no fatal leak;
She ran upon no rock.
His sword was in its sheath;
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfelt went down,
With twice four hundred men.
Weigh the vessel up!
Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with the cup
The tear that England owes.
Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again,
Full charg'd with England's thunder,
And plow the distant main.
But Kempenfelt is gone,
His victories are o'er;
And he, and his eight hundred,
Shall plow the wave no more.
In your obscure part of the world, which I take to be Ultima Thule, I
thought these verses out of Books which cannot be accessible would not
be unwelcome. Having room, I will put in an Epitaph I writ for a _real
occasion_, a year or two back.
ON MARY DRUIT WHO DIED AGED 19
Under this cold marble stone
Sleep the sad remains of One,
Who, when alive, by few or none
Was lov'd, as lov'd she might have been,
If she prosp'rous days had seen,
Or had thriving been, I ween.
Only this cold funeral stone
Tells, she was belov'd by One,
Who on the marble graves his moan.
I conclude with Love to your Sister and Mrs. W.
Mary sends Love, &c.
5th March, 1803.
On consulting Mary, I find it will be foolish inserting the Note as I
intended, being so small, and as it is possible you _may_ have to
_trouble_ us again e'er long; so it shall remain to be settled
hereafter. However, the verses shan't be lost.
N.B.--All orders executed with fidelity and punctuality by C. & M. Lamb.
[_On the outside is written:_] I beg to open this for a minute to add my
remembrances to you all, and to assure you I shall ever be happy to hear
from or see, much more to be useful to any of my old friends at
A _lean_ paragraph of the Doctor's.
[Charles Cotton (1630-1687). Wordsworth praises the poem on Winter in
his preface to the 1815 edition of his works, and elsewhere sets up a
comparison between the character of Cotton and that of Burns.
Hayley's _Life of Cowper_ appeared first in 1803.
Lamb's epitaph was written at the request of Rickman. See also the
letter to Manning of April, 1802. Rickman seems to have supplied Lamb
with a prose epitaph and asked for a poetical version. Canon Ainger
prints an earlier version in a letter to Rickman, dated February 1,
1802. Lamb printed the epitaph in the _Morning Post_ for February 7,
1804, over his initials (see Vol. IV. of this edition). Mary Druit, or
Druitt, lived at Wimborne, and according to John Payne Collier, in _An
Old Man's Diary_, died of small-pox at the age of nineteen. He says that
Lamb's lines were cut on her tomb, but correspondence in _Notes and
Queries_ has proved this to be incorrect.
"The Doctor." Stoddart, having taken his D.C.L. in 1801, was now called
Soon after this letter Mary Lamb was taken ill again.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
April 13th, 1803.
My dear Coleridge,--Things have gone on better with me since you left
me. I expect to have my old housekeeper home again in a week or two. She
has mended most rapidly. My health too has been better since you took
away that Montero cap. I have left off cayenned eggs and such bolsters
to discomfort. There was death in that cap. I mischievously wished that
by some inauspicious jolt the whole contents might be shaken, and the
coach set on fire. For you said they had that property. How the old
Gentleman, who joined you at Grantham, would have clappt his hands to
his knees, and not knowing but it was an immediate visitation of God
that burnt him, how pious it would have made him; him, I mean, that
brought the Influenza with him, and only took places for one--a damn'd
old sinner, he must have known what he had got with him! However, I wish
the cap no harm for the sake of the _head it fits_, and could be content
to see it disfigure my healthy sideboard again. [_Here is a paragraph
What do you think of smoking? I want your sober, _average noon opinion_
of it. I generally am eating my dinner about the time I should determine
it. [_Another small erasure._]
Morning is a Girl, and can't smoke--she's no evidence one way or other;
and Night is so evidently _bought over_, that _he_ can't be a very
upright Judge. May be the truth is, that _one_ pipe is wholesome, _two_
pipes toothsome, _three_ pipes noisome, _four_ pipes fulsome, _five_
pipes quarrelsome; and that's the _sum_ on't. But that is deciding
rather upon rhyme than reason.... After all, our instincts _may_ be
best. Wine, I am sure, good, mellow, generous Port, can hurt nobody,
unless they take it to excess, which they may easily avoid if they
observe the rules of temperance.
Bless you, old Sophist, who next to Human Nature taught me all the
corruption I was capable of knowing--And bless your Montero Cap, and
your trail (which shall come after you whenever you appoint), and your
wife and children--Pi-pos especially.
When shall we two smoke again? Last night I had been in a sad quandary
of spirits, in what they call the evening; but a pipe and some generous
Port, and King Lear (being alone), had its effects as a remonstrance. I
went to bed pot-valiant. By the way, may not the Ogles of Somersetshire
be remotely descended from King Lear?
Love to Sara, and ask her what gown she means that Mary has got of hers.
I know of none but what went with Miss Wordsworth's things to
Wordsworth, and was paid for out of their money. I allude to a part
which I may have read imperfectly in a letter of hers to you.
[Coleridge had been in London early in April and had stayed with Lamb in
the Temple. From the following letter to his wife, dated April 4, we get
light on Lamb's allusion to his "old housekeeper," _i.e._, Mary Lamb,
and her rapid mending:--
"I had purposed not to speak of Mary Lamb, but I had better write it
than tell it. The Thursday before last she met at Rickman's a Mr. Babb,
an old friend and admirer of her mother. The next day she _smiled_ in an
ominous way; on Sunday she told her brother that she was getting bad,
with great agony. On Tuesday morning she laid hold of me with violent
agitation and talked wildly about George Dyer. I told Charles there was
not a moment to lose; and I did not lose a moment, but went for a
hackney-coach and took her to the private mad-house at Hugsden. She was
quite calm, and said it was the best to do so. But she wept bitterly two
or three times, yet all in a calm way. Charles is cut to the heart."
Lamb's first articulate doubts as to smoking are expressed in this
letter. One may perhaps take in this connection the passage on tobacco
and alcohol in the "Confessions of a Drunkard" (see Vol. I.).
"Montero cap"--a recollection of _Tristram Shandy_.
The Ogles and King Lear (_i.e._, leer)--merely a pun.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
[No date. May, 1803.]
Mary sends love from home.
DR. C.,--I do confess that I have not sent your books as I ought to be
[have] done; but you know how the human freewill is tethered, and that
we perform promises to ourselves no better than to our friends. A watch
is come for you. Do you want it soon, or shall I wait till some one
travels your way? You, like me, I suppose, reckon the lapse of time from
the waste thereof, as boys let a cock run to waste: too idle to stop it,
and rather amused with seeing it dribble. Your poems have begun
printing; Longman sent to me to arrange them, the old and the new
together. It seems you have left it to him. So I classed them, as nearly
as I could, according to dates. First, after the Dedication, (which must
march first) and which I have transplanted from before the Preface
(which stood like a dead wall of prose between) to be the first
poem--then comes "The Pixies," and the things most juvenile--then on "To
Chatterton," &c.--on, lastly, to the "Ode on the Departing Year," and
"Musings,"--which finish. Longman wanted the Ode first; but the
arrangement I have made is precisely that marked out in the dedication,
following the order of time. I told Longman I was sure that you would
omit a good portion of the first edition. I instanced in several
sonnets, &c.--but that was not his plan, and, as you have done nothing
in it, all I could do was to arrange 'em on the supposition that all
were to be retained. A few I positively rejected; such as that of "The
Thimble," and that of "Flicker and Flicker's wife," and that _not_ in
the manner of Spenser, which you yourself had stigmatised--and the "Man
of Ross,"--I doubt whether I should this last. It is not too late to
save it. The first proof is only just come. I have been forced to call
that Cupid's Elixir "Kisses." It stands in your first volume as an
Effusion, so that, instead of prefixing The Kiss to that of "One Kiss,
dear Maid," &c., _I_ have ventured to entitle it "To Sara." I am aware
of the nicety of changing even so mere a trifle as a title to so short a
piece, and subverting old associations; but two called "Kisses" would
have been absolutely ludicrous, and "Effusion" is no name; and these
poems come close together. I promise you not to alter one word in any
poem whatever, but to take your last text, where two are. Can you send
any wishes about the book? Longman, I think, should have settled with
you. But it seems you have left it to him. Write as soon as you possibly
can; for, without making myself responsible, I feel myself in some sort
accessory to the selection which I am to proof-correct. But I decidedly
said to Biggs that I was sure you would omit more. Those I have
positively rubbed off I can swear to _individually_, (except the "Man of
Ross," which is too familiar in Pope,) but no others--you have your cue.
For my part, I had rather all the _Juvenilia_ were kept--_memories
Rob Lloyd has written me a masterly letter, containing a character of
his father;--see, how different from Charles he views the old man!
_Literatim_ "My father smokes, repeats Homer in Greek, and Virgil, and
is learning, when from business, with all the vigour of a young man
Italian. He is really a wonderful man. He mixes public and private
business, the intricacies of discording life with his religion and
devotion. No one more rationally enjoys the romantic scenes of nature,
and the chit-chat and little vagaries of his children; and, though
surrounded with an ocean of affairs, the very neatness of his most
obscure cupboard in the house passes not unnoticed. I never knew any one
view with such clearness, nor so well satisfied with things as they are,
and make such allowance for things which must appear perfect Syriac to
him." By the last he means the Lloydisms of the younger branches. His
portrait of Charles (exact as far as he has had opportunities of noting
him) is most exquisite. "Charles is become steady as a church, and as
straightforward as a Roman road. It would distract him to mention
anything that was not as plain as sense; he seems to have run the whole
scenery of life, AND NOW RESTS AS THE FORMAL PRECISIAN OF
NON-EXISTENCE." Here is genius I think, and 'tis seldom a young man, a
Lloyd, looks at a father (so differing) with such good nature while he
is alive. Write--
I am in post-haste, C. LAMB.
Love, &c., to Sara, P., and H.
[The date is usually given as March 20, but is May 20; certainly after
Coleridge's visit to town (see preceding letter).
_Poems_, by S. T. Coleridge, third edition, was now in preparation by
Longman & Rees. Lamb saw the volume through the press. The 1797 second
edition was followed, except that Lloyd's and Lamb's contributions were
omitted, together with the following poems by Coleridge: "To the Rev. W.
J. H.," "Sonnet to Koskiusko," "Written after a Walk" (which Lamb
inaccurately called "Flicker and Flicker's Wife"), "From a Young Lady"
("The Silver Thimble"), "On the Christening of a Friend's Child,"
"Introductory Sonnet to Lloyd's 'Poems on the Death of Priscilla
Farmer.'" "The Man of Ross" (whom Pope also celebrates in the _Moral
Essays_, III., lines 250-290) was retained, and also the "Lines in the
Manner of Spenser." The piece rechristened "Kisses" had been called "The
Composition of a Kiss." Biggs was the printer. See also the next letter.
Of Robert Lloyd's father we hear more later.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
27th May, 1803.
My dear Coleridge,--The date of my last was one day prior to the receipt
of your letter, full of foul omens. I explain, lest you should have
thought mine too light a reply to such sad matter. I seriously hope by
this time you have given up all thoughts of journeying to the green
islands of the Blest--voyages in time of war are very precarious--or at
least, that you will take them in your way to the Azores. Pray be
careful of this letter till it has done its duty, for it is to inform
you that I have booked off your watch (laid in cotton like an untimely
fruit), and with it Condillac and all other books of yours which were
left here. These will set out on Monday next, the 29th May, by Kendal
waggon, from White Horse, Cripplegate. You will make seasonable
inquiries, for a watch mayn't come your way again in a hurry. I have
been repeatedly after Tobin, and now hear that he is in the country, not
to return till middle of June. I will take care and see him with the
earliest. But cannot you write pathetically to him, enforcing a speedy
mission of your books for literary purposes? He is too good a retainer
to Literature, to let her interests suffer through his default. And why,
in the name of Beelzebub, are your books to travel from Barnard's Inn to
the Temple, and then circuitously to Cripplegate, when their business is
to take a short cut down Holborn-hill, up Snow do., on to Woodstreet,
&c.? The former mode seems a sad superstitious subdivision of labour.
Well! the "Man of Ross" is to stand; Longman begs for it; the printer
stands with a wet sheet in one hand and a useless Pica in the other, in
tears, pleading for it; I relent. Besides, it was a Salutation poem, and
has the mark of the beast "Tobacco" upon it. Thus much I have done; I
have swept off the lines about _widows_ and _orphans_ in second edition,
which (if you remember) you most awkwardly and illogically caused to be
inserted between two _Ifs_, to the great breach and disunion of said
_Ifs_, which now meet again (as in first edition), like two clever
lawyers arguing a case. Another reason for subtracting the pathos was,
that the "Man of Ross" is too familiar to need telling what he did,
especially in worse lines than Pope told it; and it now stands simply as
"Reflections at an Inn about a known Character," and sucking an old
story into an accommodation with present feelings. Here is no breaking
spears with Pope, but a new, independent, and really a very pretty poem.
In fact, 'tis as I used to admire it in the first volume, and I have
even dared to restore
"If 'neath this roof thy _wine-cheer'd_ moments pass,"
"Beneath this roof if thy cheer'd moments pass."
"Cheer'd" is a sad general word; "_wine-cheer'd_" I'm sure you'd give
me, if I had a speaking-trumpet to sound to you 300 miles. But I am your
_factotum_, and that (save in this instance, which is a single case, and
I can't get at you) shall be next to a _fac-nihil_--at most, a
_fac-simile_. I have ordered "Imitation of Spenser" to be restored on
Wordsworth's authority; and now, all that you will miss will be "Flicker
and Flicker's Wife," "The Thimble," "Breathe, _dear harmonist_" and, _I
believe_, "The Child that was fed with Manna." Another volume will clear
off all your Anthologic Morning-Postian Epistolary Miscellanies; but
pray don't put "Christabel" therein; don't let that sweet maid come
forth attended with Lady Holland's mob at her heels. Let there be a
separate volume of Tales, Choice Tales, "Ancient Mariners," &c.
[Coleridge, who was getting more and more nervous about his health, had
long been on the point of starting on some southern travels with Thomas
Wedgwood, but Wedgwood had gone alone; his friend James Webbe Tobin,
mentioned later in the letter, lived at Nevis, in the West Indies:
possibly Coleridge had thoughts of returning with him. The Malta
experiment, of which we are to hear later, had not, I think, yet been
"The Man of Ross." In the 1797 edition the poem had run thus, partly by
Lamb's advice (see the letters of June 10, 1796, and February 5,
LINES WRITTEN AT THE KING'S-ARMS, ROSS, FORMERLY THE HOUSE OF THE "MAN
Richer than MISER o'er his countless hoards,
Nobler than KINGS, or king-polluted LORDS,
Here dwelt the MAN OF ROSS! O Trav'ller, hear!
Departed Merit claims a reverent tear.
Friend to the friendless, to the sick man health,
With generous joy he view'd his modest wealth;
He hears the widow's heaven-breath'd prayer of praise,
He marks the shelter'd orphan's tearful gaze,
Or where the sorrow-shrivel'd captive lay,
Pours the bright blaze of Freedom's noon-tide ray.
Beneath this roof if thy cheer'd moments pass,
Fill to the good man's name one grateful glass;
To higher zest shall MEM'RY wake thy soul,
And VIRTUE mingle in th' ennobled bowl.
But if, like me, thro' life's distressful scene
Lonely and sad thy pilgrimage hath been;
And if, thy breast with heart-sick anguish fraught,
Thou journeyest onward tempest-tost in thought;
Here cheat thy cares! in generous visions melt,
And dream of Goodness, thou hast never felt!
Lamb changed it by omitting lines 9 to 14, Coleridge agreeing. The poet
would not, however, restore "wine-cheer'd" as in his earliest version,
1794. In the edition of 1828 the six lines were put back. "Breathe, dear
Harmonist" was the poem "To the Rev. W. J. H.," and "The Child that was
fed with Manna" was "On the Christening of a Friend's Child."
"Lady Holland's mob." Elizabeth Vassall Fox, third Lady Holland
(1770-1845), was beginning her reign as a Muse. Lamb by his phrase means
occasional and political verse generally. The reference to "Christabel"
helps to controvert Fanny Godwin's remark in a letter to Mrs. Shelley,
on July 20, 1816, that Lamb "says _Christabel_ ought never to have been
published; that no one understood it."
Canon Ainger's transcript adds: "A word of your health will be richly
MARY LAMB TO DOROTHY WORDSWORTH
[Dated at end: July 9. P.M. July 11, 1803.]
My dear Miss Wordsworth--We rejoice with exceeding great joy to hear the
delightful tidings you were so _very_ kind to remember to send us--I
hope your dear sister is perfectly well, and makes an excellent nurse.
Are you not now the happiest family in the world?
I have been in better health and spirits this week past than since my
last illness--I continued so long so very weak & dejected I began to
fear I should never be at all comfortable again. I strive against low
spirits all I can, but it is a very hard thing to get the better of.
I am very uneasy about poor Coleridge, his last letters are very
melancholy ones. Remember me affectionately to him and Sara. I hope you
often see him.
Southey is in town. He seems as proud of his little girl as I suppose
your brother is of his boy; he says his home is now quite a different
place to what it used to be. I was glad to hear him say this--it used to
look rather chearless.
We went last week with Southey and Rickman and his sister to Sadlers
Wells, the lowest and most London-like of all our London amusements--the
entertainments were Goody Two Shoes, Jack the Giant Killer, and _Mary of
Buttermere_! Poor Mary was very happily married at the end of the piece,
to a sailor her former sweetheart. We had a prodigious fine view of her
father's house in the vale of Buttermere--mountains very like large
haycocks, and a lake like nothing at all. If you had been with us, would
you have laughed the whole time like Charles and Miss Rickman or gone to
sleep as Southey and Rickman did?
Stoddart is in expectation of going soon to Malta as Judge Advocate; it
is likely to be a profitable situation, fifteen hundred a year or more.
If he goes he takes with him his sister, and, as I hear from her as a
very great secret, a _wife_; you must not mention this because if he
stays in England he may not be rich enough to marry for some years. I do
not know why I should trouble you with a secret which it seems I am
unable to keep myself and which is of no importance to you to hear; if
he succeeds in this appointment he will be in a great bustle, for he
must set out to Malta in a month. In the mean time he must go to
Scotland to marry and fetch his wife, and it is a match against her
parents' consent, and they as yet know nothing of the Malta expedition;
so that he expects many difficulties, but the young lady and he are
determined to conquer them. He then must go to Salisbury to take leave
of his father and mother, who I pity very much, for they are old people
and therefore are not very likely ever to see their children again.
Charles is very well and very _good_--I mean very sober, but he is very
good in every sense of the word, for he has been very kind and patient
with me and I have been a sad trouble to him lately. He has shut out all
his friends because he thought company hurt me, and done every thing in
his power to comfort and amuse me. We are to go out of town soon for a
few weeks, when I hope I shall get quite stout and lively.
You saw Fenwick when you was with us--perhaps you remember his wife and
children were with his brother, a tradesman at Penzance. He (the
brother), who was supposed to be in a great way of business, has become
a bankrupt; they are now at Penzance without a home and without money;
and poor Fenwick, who has been Editor of a country newspaper lately, is
likely soon to be quite out of employ; I am distressed for them, for I
have a great affection for Mrs. Fenwick.
How pleasant your little house and orchard must be now. I almost wish I
had never seen it. I am always wishing to be with you. I could sit upon
that little bench in idleness day long. When you have a leisure hour, a
letter from [you], kind friend, will give me the greatest pleasure.
We have money of yours and I want you to send me some commission to lay
it out. Are you not in want of anything? I believe when we go out of
town it will be to Margate--I love the seaside and expect much benefit
from it, but your mountain scenery has spoiled us. We shall find the
flat country of the Isle of Thanet very dull.
Charles joins me in love to your brother and sister and the little John.
I hope you are building more rooms. Charles said I was so long answering
your letter Mrs. Wordsworth would have another little one before you
received it. Our love and compliments to our kind Molly, I hope she
grows younger and happier every day. When, and where, shall I ever see
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