THE LETTERS OF CHARLES AND MARY LAMB
EDITED BY E. V. LUCAS
WITH A FRONTISPIECE
This edition of the correspondence of Charles and Mary Lamb contains 618 letters, of which 45 are by Mary Lamb alone. It is the only edition to contain all Mary Lamb's letters and also a reference to, or abstract of, every letter of Charles Lamb's that cannot, for reasons of copyright, be included. Canon Ainger's last edition contains 467 letters and the Every-man's Library Edition contains 572. In 1905 the Boston Bibliophile Society, a wealthy association of American collectors, issued privately—since privately one can do anything—an edition in six volumes (limited to 453 sets) of the correspondence of Charles and Mary Lamb, containing everything that was available, which means practically everything that was known: the number reaching a total of 762 letters; but it will be many years before such a collection can be issued in England, since each of the editions here has copyright matter peculiar to itself. My attempt to induce the American owner of the largest number of new letters to allow me to copy them from the Boston Bibliophile edition has proved fruitless.
And here a word as to copyright in such documents in England, the law as most recently laid down being established upon a set of sixteen of Lamb's letters which unhappily are not (except in very brief abstract) in the present edition. These letters, chiefly to Robert Lloyd, were first published in Charles Lamb and the Lloyds, under my editorship, in 1900, the right to make copies and publish them having been acquired by Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. from Mrs. Steeds, a descendant of Charles Lloyd. The originals were then purchased by Mr. J. M. Dent, who included copies in his edition of Lamb's letters, under Mr. Macdonald's editorship, in 1903. Meanwhile Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. had sold their rights in the letters to Messrs. Macmillan for Canon Ainger's edition, and when Mr. Dent's edition was issued Messrs. Macmillan with Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co. brought an action. Mr. Dent thereupon acquired from Mr. A. H. Moxon, the son of Emma Isola, Lamb's residuary legatee, all his rights as representing the original author. The case was heard before Mr. Justice Kekewich early in 1906. The judge held that "the proprietor of the author's manuscript in the case of letters, as in the case of any other manuscript, meant the owner of the actual paper on which the matter was written, and that in the case of letters the recipient was the owner. No doubt the writer could restrain the recipient from publishing, and so could the writer's representatives after death; but although they had the right to restrain others from publishing, it did not follow that they had the right to publish and acquire copyright. This right was given to the proprietor of the manuscript, who, although he could be restrained from publishing by the writer's personal representatives, yet, if not so restrained, could publish and acquire copyright."
Mr. Dent appealed against this verdict and his appeal was heard on October 31 and November 7, 1906, when the decision of Mr. Justice Kekewich was upheld with a clearer definition of the right of restraint. The Court, in deciding (I quote again from Mr. MacGillivray's summary) that "the proprietors of manuscript letters were, after the writer's death, entitled to the copyright in them when published, were careful to make it clear that they did not intend to overrule the authority of those cases where a deceased man's representatives have been held entitled to restrain the publication of his private letters by the recipients or persons claiming through them. The Court expressly affirmed the common law right of the writer and his representatives in unpublished letters. It did not follow that because the copyright, if there was publication, would be in the person who, being proprietor of the author's manuscript, first published, that that person would be entitled to publish. The common law right would be available to enable the legal personal representatives, under proper circumstances, to restrain publication." That is how the copyright law as regards letters stands to-day (1912).
The present edition has been revised throughout and in it will be found much new material. I have retained from the large edition only such notes as bear upon the Lambs and the place of the letters in their life, together with such explanatory references as seemed indispensable. For the sources of quotations and so forth the reader must consult the old edition.
For permission to include certain new letters I have to thank the Master of Magdalene, Mr. Ernest Betham, Major Butterworth, Mr. Bertram Dobell, Mr. G. Dunlop, and Mr. E. D. North of New York.
As an example of other difficulties of editing, at any given time, the correspondence of Charles and Mary Lamb, I may say that while these volumes were going through the press, Messrs. Sotheby offered for sale new letters by both hands, the existence of which was unknown equally to English editors and to Boston Bibliophiles. The most remarkable of them is a joint letter from sister and brother to Louisa Martin, their child-friend (to whom Lamb wrote the verses "The Ape"), dated March 28, 1809. Mary begins, and Charles then takes the pen and becomes mischievous. Thus, "Hazlitt's child died of swallowing a bag of white paint, which the poor little innocent thing mistook for sugar candy. It told its mother just before it died, that it did not like soft sugar candy, and so it came out, which was not before suspected. When it was opened several other things were found in it, particularly a small hearth brush, two golden pippins, and a letter which I had written to Hazlitt from Bath. The letter had nothing remarkable in it." ... The others are from brother and sister to Miss Kelly, the actress, whom Lamb, in 1819, wished to marry. The first, March 27, 1820, is from Mary Lamb saying that she has taken to French as a recreation and has been reading Racine. The second is from Lamb, dated July 6, 1825, thanking Miss Kelly for tickets at Arnold's theatre, the Lyceum, and predicting the success of his farce "The Pawnbroker's Daughter." How many more new letters are still to come to light, who shall say?
In Mr. Bedford's design for the cover of this edition certain Elian symbolism will be found. The upper coat of arms is that of Christ's Hospital, where Lamb was at school; the lower is that of the Inner Temple, where he was born and spent many years. The figures at the bells are those which once stood out from the facade of St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street, and are now in Lord Londesborough's garden in Regent's Park. Lamb shed tears when they were removed. The tricksy sprite and the candles (brought by Betty) need no explanatory words of mine.
E. V. L.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME V
LETTERS BY NUMBER
1 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge May 27 From the original in the possession of Mrs. Alfred Morrison.
2 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge End of May? From the original (Morrison Collection).
3 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge June 10 From the original (Morrison Collection).
4 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge June 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn's edition).
5 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge July 1 From the original (Morrison Collection).
6 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge July 5 From the facsimile of the original (Mr. E. H. Coleridge).
7 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge July 6 From the original (Morrison Collection).
8 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Sept. 27 From the original (Morrison Collection).
9 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Oct. 3 From the original (Morrison Collection).
10 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Oct. 17 From the original (Morrison Collection).
11 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Oct. 24 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
12 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Oct. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
13 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Nov. 8 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
14 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Nov. 14 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
15 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Dec. 2 From the original (Morrison Collection).
16 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Dec. 5 From the original (Morrison Collection).
17 Charles Lamb to S. T, Coleridge Dec. 9 Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
18 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Dec. 10 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
19 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Jan. 2 From the original (Morrison Collection).
20 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Jan. 10 From the original (Morrison Collection).
21 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Jan. 18 From the original (Morrison Collection).
22 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Feb. 5 From the original (Morrison Collection).
23 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Feb. 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
24 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge April 7 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
25 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge April 15 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
26 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge June 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
27 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge June 24 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
28 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge (?)June 29 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
29 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Late July Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
30 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Aug. 24 From the original (Morrison Collection).
31 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge About Sept. 20 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
32 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Jan. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
33 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Early summer From the original in the Gluck Collection at Buffalo, U.S.A.
34 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey July 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
35 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Oct. 18 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
36 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Oct. 29 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
37 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Nov. 3 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
38 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Nov. 8 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
39 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey ?Nov. Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
40 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Nov. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
41 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Dec. 27 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
42 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Jan. 21 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
43 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Jan. or Feb. From the original.
44 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey March 15 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
45 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey March 20 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
46 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Oct. 31 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
47 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
48 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
49 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge ?Jan. 23 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
50 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Feb. 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
51 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning March 1 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
52 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning March 17 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
53 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning April 5 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
54 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge ?April 16 or 17 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
55 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge ?Spring Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
56 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge May 12 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
57 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning May 20 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
58 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning ?May 25
59 Charles Lamb to J. M. Gutch No date From Mr. G. A. Gutch's original.
60 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge ?Late July Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
61 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Aug. 6 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
62 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Aug. 9 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
63 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Aug. 11 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
64 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Aug. 14 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
65 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Aug. 24 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
66 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Aug. 26 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
67 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Aug. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
68 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Sept. 22 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
69 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Oct. 16 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
70 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Nov. 3 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
71 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Nov. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
72 Charles Lamb to William Godwin Dec. 4 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
73 Charles Lamb to William Godwin No date Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
74 Charles Lamb to William Godwin Dec. 10 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
75 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
76 Charles Lamb to William Godwin Dec. 14 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
77 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 16 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
78, 79 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning End of year From The Athenaeum.
80 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 27 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
81 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth. Jan. 30 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
82 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Feb. 15 Canon Ainger's text.
83 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Late Feb. Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
84 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning April Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
85 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning ?April Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
86 Charles Lamb to William Godwin June 29 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
87 Charles Lamb to Walter Wilson Aug. 14 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
88 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning ?Aug. Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
89 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Aug. 31 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
90 Charles Lamb to William Godwin Sept. 9 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
91 Charles Lamb to William Godwin (fragment) Sept. 17 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
92 Charles Lamb to Mrs. Godwin No date Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
93 Charles Lamb to John Rickman ?Nov. From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
94 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning ?Feb. 15 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
95 Charles Lamb to John Rickman April 10 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
96 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning ?End of April Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
97 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge (fragment) Sept. 8 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
98 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Sept. 24 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
99 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Oct. 9 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
100 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Oct. 11 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
101 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge (fragment) Oct. 23 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
102 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Nov. 4 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
103 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Nov. Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) and Talfourd, with alterations.
104 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Feb. 19 Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs) with alterations.
105 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning March Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
106 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth March 5 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
107 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge April 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
108 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge May Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
109 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge May 27 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
110 Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth. July 9 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
111 Charles Lamb to John Rickman July 16 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
112 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Sept. 21 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary And Charles Lamb).
113 Charles Lamb to William Godwin Nov. 8 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
114 Charles Lamb to William Godwin Nov. 10 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
115 Charles Lamb to Thomas Poole. Feb. 14 From original in British Museum.
116 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge March 10 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
117 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart ?March Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
118 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge April 5 From the original (Morrison Collection).
119 Charles Lamb to Thomas Poole May 4 From original in British Museum.
120 Charles Lamb to Thomas Poole May 5 From original in British Museum.
121 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth June 2 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
122 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart } 123 Charles Lamb to Sarah Stoddart } Late July Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
124 Part I., Charles Lamb to William } Wordsworth } 125 Part II., Mary Lamb to Dorothy } Wordsworth } Oct. 13 126 Part III., Mary Lamb to Mrs. S.T. } Coleridge } From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
127 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Nov. 7
128 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Feb. 18 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
129 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Feb. 19 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
130 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Feb. 23 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
131 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth March 5 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
132 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth March 21 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
133 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth April 5 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
134 Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth May 7 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
135 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth June 14 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
136 Charles Lamb to Thomas manning July 27 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
137 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart ?Sept. 18 From the original.
138 Charles Lamb to William and Dorothy Wordsworth Sept. 28 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
139 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Early Nov. Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
140 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt Nov. 10 From the original.
141 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Nov. 9 and 14 From the original.
142 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Nov. 15 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
143 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt Jan. 15 From the original.
144 Charles Lamb to John Rickman. Jan. 25 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
145 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Feb. 1 From the original, recently in the possession of Mr. Gordon Wordsworth.
146 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt Feb. 19 From the original.
147 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Feb. 20, 21 and 22 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
148 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart March Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
149 Charles Lamb to John Rickman March Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
150 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt March 15 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
151 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning May 10 Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
152 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart June 2 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
153 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth June 26 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
154 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart ?July 4 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
155 Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth Aug. 29 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
156 Mary Lamb to S. T. Coleridge. No date From the original (Morrison Collection).
157 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Oct. 23 From the original.
158 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 5 From the original.
159 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Dec. 11 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
160 Charles Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Dec. 11 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
161 Charles Lamb to William Godwin No date Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
162 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Jan. 29 From the original in Dr. Williams' Library.
163 Charles Lamb to T. and C. Clarkson June From the original in the possession of Mr. A.M.S. Emthuen.
164 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Oct. Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
165 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart Dec. 21 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
166 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddard Feb. 12 From the original.
167 Charles Lamb to the Rev. W. Hazlitt Feb. 18 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
168 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Feb. 26 From the original.
169 Charles lamb to Matilda Betham No date From A House of Letters.
170 Charles Lamb to Matilda Betham No date From A House of Letters.
171 Charles Lamb to William Godwin March 11 Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin His Friends, etc.).
172 Charles Lamb to Henry Crabb Robinson March 12 From the original in Dr. Williams' Library
173 Mary Lamb to Sarah Stoddart March 16 From the original.
174 Charles Lamb to George Dyer Dec. 5 From The Mirror.
175 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hazlitt } 176 Charles Lamb to Sarah Hazlitt } Dec. 10 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
177 Mary Lamb to Mrs. Clarkson } Dec. 10 178 Charles Lamb to Mrs. Clarkson } from the original in the possession of Mr. A.M.S. Methuen.
179 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning March 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations
180 Charles Lamb to Henry Crabb Robinson May From the original in Dr. Williams' Library
181 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hazlitt June 2 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
182 Charles Lamb to S.T. Coleridge June 7 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
183 Charles Lamb to S.T. Coleridge Oct. 30 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
184 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hazlitt Nov. 7 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
185 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Jan. 2 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
186 Charles Lamb to Henry Crabb Robinson Feb. 7 From the original in Dr. Williams' Library.
187 Charles Lamb to the J.M. Gutch April 9 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
188 Charles Lamb to Basil Montagu July 12 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
189 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt Aug. 9 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
190 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Oct. 19 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
191 Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth } 192 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth } Nov. 13 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original. }
193 Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth } 194 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth } Nov. 23 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original. }
195 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt Nov. 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
196 Charles Lamb to William Godwin No date Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
197 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hazlitt ? End of year Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles Lamb).
198 Mary Lamb to Matilda Betham No date Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
199 Charles Lamb to John Morgan (fragment) March 8 From the original (Duchess of Albany)
200 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hazlitt } 201 Charles Lamb to William Hazlitt } Oct. 2 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Mary and Charles } Lamb) and Bohn.
202 Charles Lamb to John Dyer Collier No date J. P. Collier's text (An Old Man's Diary).
203 Mary Lamb to Mrs. John Dyer Collier No date J. P. Collier's text (An Old Man's Diary).
204 Charles Lamb to John Scott ?Feb. From facsimile (Birkbeck Hill's Talks about Autographs).
205 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Aug. 9 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
206 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Aug. 13 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
207 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Aug. 26 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
208 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Sept. 19 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
209 Mary Lamb to Barbara Betham Nov. 2 Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
210 Charles Lamb to John Scott Dec. 12 From Mr. R. B. Adam's original.
211 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Dec. 28 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
212 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth ?Early Jan. From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
213 Charles Lamb to Mr. Sargus Feb. 23 From the original in the possession of Mr. Thomas Greg.
214 Charles Lamb to Joseph Hume No date Mr. Kegan Paul's text (William Godwin: His Friends, etc.).
215 Charles Lamb to [Mrs. Hume?] No date From the American owner.
216 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth April 7 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
217 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth April 28 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
218 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey May 6 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
219 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Aug. 9 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
220 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Aug. 9 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
221 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hutchinson Aug. 20
222 Charles Lamb to Sarah Hutchinson Aug. 20 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
223 Mary Lamb to Matilda Betham ?Late summer From Fraser's Magazine.
224 Charles Lamb to Matilda Betham No date From A House of Letters.
225 Charles Lamb to Matilda Betham No date Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
226 Charles Lamb to Sarah Hutchinson Oct. 19 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
227 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 25 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
228 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning Dec. 26 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
229 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth April 9 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
230 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth April 26 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
231 Charles Lamb to Matilda Betham June 1 From Fraser's Magazine.
232 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth Sept. 23 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
233 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hutchinson Middle of Nov. From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
234 Mary Lamb to Sarah Hutchinson Late in year From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
235 Charles Lamb to William Ayrton May 12 From Ayrton's transcript in Lamb's Works, Vol. III.
236 Charles Lamb to Barren Field Aug. 31 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
237 Charles Lamb to James and Louisa Kenney Oct. Text from Mr. Samuel Davey.
238 Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth Nov. 21
239 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth Nov. 21 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
240 Charles Lamb to John Payne Collier. Dec. 10 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
241 Charles Lamb to Benjamin Robert Haydon Dec. 26 From Tom Taylor's Life of Haydon.
242 Charles Lamb to Mrs. William Wordsworth Feb. 18 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
243 Charles Lamb to Charles and James Ollier June 18 From the original (Morrison Collection).
244 Charles Lamb to Robert Southey Oct. 26 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
245 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Dec. 24 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
246 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth April 26 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
247 Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning May 28 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
248 Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth June 7 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
249 Charles Lamb to Fanny Kelly July 20 Mr. John Hollingshead's text (Harper's Magazine).
250 Charles Lamb to Fanny Kelly July 20 John Hollingshead's text (Harper's Magazine).
251 Charles Lamb to Thomas Noon Talfourd(?) August (Original in the possession of the Master of Magdelene.)
252 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge ?Summer From the original (Morrison Collection).
253 Charles Lamb to Thomas Holcroft, Jr. Autumn From the original (Morrison Collection).
254 Charles Lamb to Joseph Cottle Nov. 5 Mr. Hazlitt's text.
255 Charles Lamb to Joseph Cottle (incomplete) Late in year Mr. Hazlitt's text.
256 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth Nov. 25 From Mr. Gordon Wordsworth's original.
257 Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge Jan. 10 Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn) with alterations.
258 Mary Lamb to Mrs. Vincent Novello Spring From the Cowden Clarkes' Recollections of Writers.
259 Charles Lamb to Joseph Cottle May 26 Mr. Hazlitt's text.
260 Charles Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth May 25 From Professor Knight's Life of Wordsworth.
261 Charles Lamb to Thomas Allsop July 13
262 Charles and Mary Lamb to Samuel James Arnold No date
263 Charles Lamb to Barron Field Aug. 16 Mr. Hazlitt's text (The Lambs).
263A Charles Lamb to S. T. Coleridge ?Autumn Mr. Hazlitt's text (Bohn).
Coleridge's "Ode on the Departing Year" Wither's "Supersedeas" Dyer's "Poetic Sympathies" (fragment) Haydon's Party (from Taylor's Life of Haydon)
CHARLES LAMB (AGED 44)
From a Water-colour Drawing by J. G. F. Joseph.
THE LETTERS OF CHARLES AND MARY LAMB
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
[Postmark May 27, 1796.]
DEAR C—— make yourself perfectly easy about May. I paid his bill, when I sent your clothes. I was flush of money, and am so still to all the purposes of a single life, so give yourself no further concern about it. The money would be superfluous to me, if I had it.
With regard to Allen,—the woman he has married has some money, I have heard about L200 a year, enough for the maintenance of herself & children, one of whom is a girl nine years old! so Allen has dipt betimes into the cares of a family. I very seldom see him, & do not know whether he has given up the Westminster hospital.
When Southey becomes as modest as his predecessor Milton, and publishes his Epics in duodecimo, I will read 'em,—a Guinea a book is somewhat exorbitant, nor have I the opportunity of borrowing the Work. The extracts from it in the Monthly Review and the short passages in your Watchman seem to me much superior to any thing in his partnership account with Lovell.
Your poems I shall procure forthwith. There were noble lines in what you inserted in one of your Numbers from Religious Musings, but I thought them elaborate. I am somewhat glad you have given up that Paper—it must have been dry, unprofitable, and of "dissonant mood" to your disposition. I wish you success in all your undertakings, and am glad to hear you are employed about the Evidences of Religion. There is need of multiplying such books an hundred fold in this philosophical age to prevent converts to Atheism, for they seem too tough disputants to meddle with afterwards. I am sincerely sorry for Allen, as a family man particularly.
Le Grice is gone to make puns in Cornwall. He has got a tutorship to a young boy, living with his Mother, a widow Lady. He will of course initiate him quickly in "whatsoever things are lovely, honorable, and of good report." He has cut Miss Hunt compleatly,—the poor Girl is very ill on the Occasion, but he laughs at it, and justifies himself by saying, "she does not see him laugh." Coleridge, I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through at Bristol—my life has been somewhat diversified of late. The 6 weeks that finished last year and began this your very humble servant spent very agreeably in a mad house at Hoxton—I am got somewhat rational now, and don't bite any one. But mad I was—and many a vagary my imagination played with me, enough to make a volume if all told.
My Sonnets I have extended to the number of nine since I saw you, and will some day communicate to you.
I am beginning a poem in blank verse, which if I finish I publish.
White is on the eve of publishing (he took the hint from Vortigern) Original letters of Falstaff, Shallow &c—, a copy you shall have when it comes out. They are without exception the best imitations I ever saw.
Coleridge, it may convince you of my regards for you when I tell you my head ran on you in my madness, as much almost as on another Person, who I am inclined to think was the more immediate cause of my temporary frenzy.
The sonnet I send you has small merit as poetry but you will be curious to read it when I tell you it was written in my prison-house in one of my lucid Intervals.
TO MY SISTER
If from my lips some angry accents fell, Peevish complaint, or harsh reproof unkind, 'Twas but the error of a sickly mind, And troubled thoughts, clouding the purer well, And waters clear, of Reason; and for me, Let this my verse the poor atonement be, My verse, which thou to praise wast ever inclined Too highly, and with a partial eye to see No blemish: thou to me didst ever shew Fondest affection, and woud'st oftimes lend An ear to the desponding love sick lay, Weeping my sorrows with me, who repay But ill the mighty debt of love I owe, Mary, to thee, my sister and my friend.
With these lines, and with that sister's kindest remembrances to C——, I conclude—
Your Conciones ad populum are the most eloquent politics that ever came in my way.
Write, when convenient—not as a task, for there is nothing in this letter to answer.
You may inclose under cover to me at the India house what letters you please, for they come post free.
We cannot send our remembrances to Mrs. C—— not having seen her, but believe me our best good wishes attend you both.
My civic and poetic compts to Southey if at Bristol.—Why, he is a very Leviathan of Bards—the small minnow I—
[This is the earliest letter of Lamb's that has come down to us. On February 10, 1796, he was just twenty-one years old, and was now living at 7 Little Queen Street (since demolished) with his father, mother, Aunt Sarah Lamb (known as Aunt Hetty), Mary Lamb and, possibly, John Lamb. John Lamb, senior, was doing nothing and had, I think, already begun to break up: his old master, Samuel Salt, had died in February, 1792. John Lamb, the son (born June 5, 1763), had a clerkship at the South-Sea House; Charles Lamb had begun his long period of service in the India House; and Mary Lamb (born December 3, 1764) was occupied as a mantua-maker.
At this time Coleridge was twenty-three; he would be twenty-four on October 21. His military experiences over, he had married Sara Fricker on October 4, 1795 (a month before Southey married her sister Edith), and was living at Bristol, on Redcliffe Hill. The first number of The Watchman was dated on March 1, 1796; on May 13, 1796, it came to an end. On April 16, 1796, Cottle had issued Coleridge's Poems on Various Subjects, containing also four "effusions" by Charles Lamb (Nos. VII., XI., XII. and XIII.), and the "Religious Musings." Southey, on bad terms with Coleridge, partly on account of Southey's abandonment of Pantisocracy, was in Lisbon. His Joan of Arc had just been published by Cottle in quarto at a guinea. Previously he had collaborated in The Fall of Robespierre, 1794, with Coleridge and Robert Lovell. Each, one evening, had set forth to write an act by the next. Southey and Lovell did so, but Coleridge brought only a part of his. Lovell's being useless, Southey rewrote his act, Coleridge finished his at leisure, and the result was published. Robert Lovell (1770?-1796) had also been associated with Coleridge and Southey in Pantisocracy and was their brother-in-law, having married Mary Fricker, another of the sisters. When, in 1795, Southey and Lovell had published a joint volume of Poems, Southey took the pseudonym of Bion and Lovell of Moschus.
May was probably the landlord of the Salutation and Cat. The London Directory for 1808 has "William May, Salutation Coffee House, 17 Newgate Street." We must suppose that when Coleridge quitted the Salutation and Cat in January, 1795, he was unable to pay his bill, and therefore had to leave his luggage behind. Cottle's story of Coleridge being offered free lodging by a London inn-keeper, if he would only talk and talk, must then either be a pretty invention or apply to another landlord, possibly the host of the Angel in Butcher Hall Street.
Allen was Robert Allen, a schoolfellow of Lamb and Coleridge, and Coleridge's first friend. He was born on October 18, 1772. Both Lamb and Leigh Hunt tell good stories of him at Christ's Hospital, Lamb in Elia and Hunt in his Autobiography. From Christ's Hospital he went to University College, Oxford, and it was he who introduced Coleridge and Hucks to Southey in 1794. Probably, says Mr. E. H. Coleridge, it was he who brought Coleridge and John Stoddart (afterwards Sir John, and Hazlitt's brother-in-law) together. On leaving Oxford he seems to have gone to Westminster to learn surgery, and in 1797 he was appointed Deputy-Surgeon to the 2nd Royals, then in Portugal. He married a widow with children; at some time later took to journalism, as Lamb's reference in the Elia essay on "Newspapers" tells us; and he died of apoplexy in 1805.
Coleridge's employment on the Evidences of Religion, whatever it may have been, did not reach print.
Le Grice was Charles Valentine Le Grice (1773-1858), an old Christ's Hospitaller and Grecian (see Lamb's Elia essays on "Christ's Hospital" and "Grace before Meat"). Le Grice passed to Trinity College, Cambridge. He left in 1796 and became tutor to William John Godolphin Nicholls of Trereife, near Penzance, the only son of a widowed mother. Le Grice was ordained in 1798 and married Mrs. Nicholls in 1799. Young Nicholls died in 1815 and Mrs. Le Grice in 1821, when Le Grice became sole owner of the Trereife property. He was incumbent of St. Mary's, Penzance, for some years. Le Grice was a witty, rebellious character, but he never fulfilled the promise of his early days. It has been conjectured that his skill in punning awakened Lamb's ambition in that direction. Le Grice saw Lamb next in 1834, at the Bell at Edmonton. His recollections of Lamb were included by Talfourd in the Memorials, and his recollections of Coleridge were printed in the Gentleman's Magazine, December, 1834. I know nothing of Miss Hunt.
Of Lamb's confinement in a madhouse we know no more than is here told. It is conjectured that the "other person" to whom Lamb refers a few lines later was Ann Simmons, a girl at Widford for whom he had an attachment that had been discouraged, if not forbidden, by her friends. This is the only attack of the kind that Lamb is known to have suffered. He once told Coleridge that during his illness he had sometimes believed himself to be Young Norval in Home's "Douglas."
The poem in blank verse was, we learn in a subsequent letter, "The Grandame," or possibly an autobiographical work of which "The Grandame" is the only portion that survived.
White was James White (1775-1820), an old Christ's Hospitaller and a friend and almost exact contemporary of Lamb. Lamb, who first kindled his enthusiasm for Shakespeare, was, I think, to some extent involved in the Original Letters, &c., of Sir John Falstaff and his Friends, which appeared in 1796. The dedication—to Master Samuel Irelaunde, meaning William Henry Ireland (who sometimes took his father's name Samuel), the forger of the pretended Shakespearian play "Vortigern," produced at Drury Lane earlier in the year—is quite in Lamb's manner. White's immortality, however, rests not upon this book, but upon his portrait in the Elia essay on "Chimney-Sweepers."
The sonnet "To my Sister" was printed, with slight alterations, by Lamb in Coleridge's Poems, second edition, 1797, and again in Lamb's Works, 1818.
Coleridge's Condones ad Populum; or, Addresses to the People, had been published at Bristol in November, 1795.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
[Probably begun either on Tuesday, May 24, or Tuesday, May 31, 1796. Postmark? June 1.]
I am in such violent pain with the head ach that I am fit for nothing but transcribing, scarce for that. When I get your poems, and the Joan of Arc, I will exercise my presumption in giving you my opinion of 'em. The mail does not come in before tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. The following sonnet was composed during a walk down into Hertfordshire early in last Summer.
The lord of light shakes off his drowsyhed.[*] Fresh from his couch up springs the lusty Sun, And girds himself his mighty race to run. Meantime, by truant love of rambling led, I turn my back on thy detested walls, Proud City, and thy sons I leave behind, A selfish, sordid, money-getting kind, Who shut their ears when holy Freedom calls. I pass not thee so lightly, humble spire, That mindest me of many a pleasure gone, Of merriest days, of love and Islington, Kindling anew the flames of past desire; And I shall muse on thee, slow journeying on, To the green plains of pleasant Hertfordshire.
[Footnote: Drowsyhed I have met with I think in Spencer. Tis an old thing, but it rhymes with led & rhyming covers a multitude of licences.]
The last line is a copy of Bowles's, "to the green hamlet in the peaceful plain." Your ears are not so very fastidious—many people would not like words so prosaic and familiar in a sonnet as Islington and Hertfordshire. The next was written within a day or two of the last, on revisiting a spot where the scene was laid of my 1st sonnet that "mock'd my step with many a lonely glade."
When last I roved these winding wood-walks green, Green winding walks, and pathways shady-sweet, Oftimes would Anna seek the silent scene, Shrouding her beauties in the lone retreat. No more I hear her footsteps in the shade; Her image only in these pleasant ways Meets me self-wandring where in better days I held free converse with my fair-hair'd maid. I pass'd the little cottage, which she loved, The cottage which did once my all contain: it spake of days that ne'er must come again, Spake to my heart and much my heart was moved. "Now fair befall thee, gentle maid," said I, And from the cottage turn'd me, with a sigh.
The next retains a few lines from a sonnet of mine, which you once remarked had no "body of thought" in it. I agree with you, but have preserved a part of it, and it runs thus. I flatter myself you will like it.
A timid grace sits trembling in her Eye, As both to meet the rudeness of men's sight, Yet shedding a delicious lunar light, That steeps in kind oblivious extacy The care-craz'd mind, like some still melody; Speaking most plain the thoughts which do possess Her gentle sprite, peace and meek quietness, And innocent loves,[*] and maiden purity. A look whereof might heal the cruel smart Of changed friends, or fortune's wrongs unkind; Might to sweet deeds of mercy move the heart Of him, who hates his brethren of mankind. Turned are those beams from me, who fondly yet Past joys, vain loves, and buried hopes regret.
[Footnote: Cowley uses this phrase with a somewhat different meaning: I meant loves of relatives friends &c.]
The next and last I value most of all. 'Twas composed close upon the heels of the last in that very wood I had in mind when I wrote "Methinks how dainty sweet."
We were two pretty babes, the youngest she, The youngest and the loveliest far, I ween, And INNOCENCE her name. The time has been, We two did love each other's company; Time was, we two had wept to have been apart. But when, with shew of seeming good beguil'd, I left the garb and manners of a child, And my first love for man's society, Defiling with the world my virgin heart, My loved companion dropt a tear, and fled, And hid in deepest shades her awful head. Beloved, who can tell me where Thou art, In what delicious Eden to be found, That I may seek thee the wide world around.
Since writing it, I have found in a poem by Hamilton of Bangour, these 2 lines to happiness
Nun sober and devout, where art thou fled To hide in shades thy meek contented head.
Lines eminently beautiful, but I do not remember having re'd 'em previously, for the credit of my 10th and 11th lines. Parnell has 2 lines (which probably suggested the above) to Contentment
Whither ah! whither art thou fled, To hide thy meek contented head.[*]
[Footnote: an odd epithet for contentment in a poet so poetical as Parnell.]
Cowley's exquisite Elegy on the death of his friend Harvey suggested the phrase of "we two"
"Was there a tree that did not know The love betwixt us two?——"
So much for acknowledged plagiarisms, the confession of which I know not whether it has more of vanity or modesty in it. As to my blank verse I am so dismally slow and sterile of ideas (I speak from my heart) that I much question if it will ever come to any issue. I have hitherto only hammered out a few indepen[den]t unconnected snatches, not in a capacity to be sent. I am very ill, and will rest till I have read your poems—for which I am very thankful. I have one more favour to beg of you, that you never mention Mr. May's affair in any sort, much less think of repaying. Are we not flocci-nauci-what-d'ye-call-em-ists?
We have just learnd, that my poor brother has had a sad accident: a large stone blown down by yesterday's high wind has bruised his leg in a most shocking manner—he is under the care of Cruikshanks. Coleridge, there are 10,000 objections against my paying you a visit at Bristol—it cannot be, else—but in this world 'tis better not to think too much of pleasant possibles, that we may not be out of humour with present insipids. Should any thing bring you to London, you will recollect No. 7, Little Queen St. Holborn.
I shall be too ill to call on Wordsworth myself but will take care to transmit him his poem, when I have read it. I saw Le Grice the day before his departure, and mentioned incidentally his "teaching the young idea how to shoot"—knowing him and the probability there is of people having a propensity to pun in his company you will not wonder that we both stumbled on the same pun at once, he eagerly anticipating me,—"he would teach him to shoot!"—Poor Le Grice! if wit alone could entitle a man to respect, &c. He has written a very witty little pamphlet lately, satirical upon college declamations; when I send White's book, I will add that.
I am sorry there should be any difference between you and Southey. "Between you two there should be peace," tho' I must say I have borne him no good will since he spirited you away from among us. What is become of Moschus? You sported some of his sublimities, I see, in your Watchman. Very decent things. So much for to night from your afflicted headachey sorethroatey, humble Servant C. Lamb———Tuesday night————-.
Of your Watchmen, the Review of Burke was the best prose. I augurd great things from the 1st number. There is some exquisite poetry interspersed. I have re-read the extract from the Religious musings and retract whatever invidious there was in my censure of it as elaborate. There are times when one is not in a disposition thoroughly to relish good writing. I have re-read it in a more favourable moment and hesitate not to pronounce it sublime. If there be any thing in it approachs to tumidity (which I meant not to infer in elaborate: I meant simply labored) it is the Gigantic hyperbole by which you describe the Evils of existing society. Snakes, Lions, hyenas and behemoths, is carrying your resentment beyond bounds. The pictures of the Simoom, of frenzy and ruin, of the whore of Babylon and the cry of the foul spirits disherited of Earth and the strange beatitude which the good man shall recognise in heaven—as well as the particularizing of the children of wretchedness— (I have unconsciously included every part of it) form a variety of uniform excellence. I hunger and thirst to read the poem complete. That is a capital line in your 6th no.: "this dark freeze-coated, hoarse, teeth-chattering Month"—they are exactly such epithets as Burns would have stumbled on, whose poem on the ploughd up daisy you seem to have had in mind. Your complaint that [of] your readers some thought there was too much, some too little, original matter in your Nos., reminds me of poor dead Parsons in the Critic—"too little incident! Give me leave to tell you, Sir, there is too much incident." I had like to have forgot thanking you for that exquisite little morsel the 1st Sclavonian Song. The expression in the 2d "more happy to be unhappy in hell"—is it not very quaint? Accept my thanks in common with those of all who love good poetry for the Braes of Yarrow. I congratulate you on the enemies you must have made by your splendid invective against the barterers in "human flesh and sinews." Coleridge, you will rejoice to hear that Cowper is recovered from his lunacy, and is employ'd on his translation of the Italian &c. poems of Milton, for an edition where Fuseli presides as designer. Coleridge, to an idler like myself to write and receive letters are both very pleasant, but I wish not to break in upon your valuable time by expecting to hear very frequently from you. Reserve that obligation for your moments of lassitude, when you have nothing else to do; for your loco-restive and all your idle propensities of course have given way to the duties of providing for a family. The mail is come in but no parcel, yet this is Tuesday. Farewell then till to morrow, for a nich and a nook I must leave for criticisms. By the way I hope you do not send your own only copy of Joan of Arc; I will in that case return it immediately.
Your parcel is come, you have been lavish of your presents.
Wordsworth's poem I have hurried thro not without delight. Poor Lovell! my heart almost accuses me for the light manner I spoke of him above, not dreaming of his death. My heart bleeds for your accumulated troubles, God send you thro' 'em with patience. I conjure you dream not that I will ever think of being repaid! the very word is galling to the ears. I have read all your Rel. Musings with uninterrupted feelings of profound admiration. You may safely rest your fame on it. The best remain'g things are what I have before read, and they lose nothing by my recollection of your manner of reciting 'em, for I too bear in mind "the voice, the look" of absent friends, and can occasionally mimic their manner for the amusement of those who have seen 'em. Your impassioned manner of recitation I can recall at any time to mine own heart, and to the ears of the bystanders. I rather wish you had left the monody on C. concluding as it did abruptly. It had more of unity.—The conclusion of your R Musings I fear will entitle you to the reproof of your Beloved woman, who wisely will not suffer your fancy to run riot, but bids you walk humbly with your God. The very last words "I exercise my young noviciate tho't in ministeries of heart-stirring song," tho' not now new to me, cannot be enough admired. To speak politely, they are a well turnd compliment to Poetry. I hasten to read Joan of Arc, &c. I have read your lines at the begin'g of 2d book, they are worthy of Milton, but in my mind yield to your Rel Mus'gs. I shall read the whole carefully and in some future letter take the liberty to particularize my opinions of it. Of what is new to me among your poems next to the Musings, that beginning "My Pensive Sara" gave me most pleasure: the lines in it I just alluded to are most exquisite—they made my sister and self smile, as conveying a pleasing picture of Mrs. C. chequing your wild wandrings, which we were so fond of hearing you indulge when among us. It has endeared us more than any thing to your good Lady; and your own self-reproof that follows delighted us. 'Tis a charming poem throughout. (You have well remarked that "charming, admirable, exquisite" are words expressive of feelings, more than conveying of ideas, else I might plead very well want of room in my paper as excuse for generalizing.) I want room to tell you how we are charmed with your verses in the manner of Spencer, &c. &c. &c. &c. &c. I am glad you resume the Watchman—change the name, leave out all articles of News, and whatever things are peculiar to News Papers, and confine yourself to Ethics, verse, criticism, or, rather do not confine yourself. Let your plan be as diffuse as the Spectator, and I'll answer for it the work prospers. If I am vain enough to think I can be a contributor, rely on my inclinations. Coleridge, in reading your R. Musings I felt a transient superiority over you: I have seen Priestly. I love to see his name repeated in your writings. I love and honor him almost profanely. You would be charmed with his sermons, if you never read 'em.—You have doubtless read his books, illustrative of the doctrine of Necessity. Prefixed to a late work of his, in answer to Paine, there is a preface, given [?giving] an account of the Man and his services to Men, written by Lindsey, his dearest friend,—well worth your reading.
Tuesday Eve.—Forgive my prolixity, which is yet too brief for all I could wish to say.—God give you comfort and all that are of your household.—Our loves and best good wishes to Mrs. C.
[The postmark of this letter looks like June 1, but it might be June 7, It was odd to date it "Tuesday night" half way through, and "Tuesday eve" at the end. Possibly Lamb began it on Tuesday, May 24, and finished it on Tuesday, May 31; possibly he began it on Tuesday, May 31, and finished it and posted it on Tuesday, June 7.
The Hertfordshire sonnet was printed in the Monthly Magazine for December, 1797, and not reprinted by Lamb.
The sonnet that "mock'd my step with many a lonely glade" is that beginning—
Was it some sweet device of Faery,
which had been printed in Coleridge's Poems, 1796. The second, third and fourth of the sonnets that are copied in this letter were printed in the second edition of Coleridge's Poems, 1797. Anna is generally supposed to be Ann Simmons, referred to in the previous note.
Concerning "Flocci-nauci-what-d'ye-call-'em-ists," Canon Ainger has the following interesting note: "'Flocci, nauci' is the beginning of a rule in the old Latin grammars, containing a list of words signifying 'of no account,' floccus being a lock of wool, and naucus a trifle. Lamb was recalling a sentence in one of Shenstone's Letters:—'I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money.'" But "Pantisocratists" was, of course, the word that Lamb was shadowing. Pantisocracy, however—the new order of common living and high thinking, to be established on the banks of the Susquehanna by Coleridge, Southey, Favell, Burnett and others—was already dead.
William Cumberland Cruikshank, the anatomist, who attended Lamb's brother, had attended Dr. Johnson in his last illness.
Le Grice's pamphlet was A General Theorem for A******* Coll. Declamation, by Gronovius, 1796.
Southey and Coleridge had been on somewhat strained terms for some time; possibly, as I have said in the previous note, owing to Southey's abandonment of Pantisocratic fervour, which anticipated Coleridge's by some months. Also, to marry sisters does not always lead to serenity. The spiriting away of Coleridge had been effected by Southey in January, 1795, when he found Coleridge at the Angel in Butcher Hall Street (vice the Salutation in Newgate Street) and bore him back to Bristol and the forlorn Sara Fricker, and away from Lamb, journalism and egg-hot.
Moschus was, as we have seen, Robert Lovell. No. V. of The Watchman contained sonnets by him.
The review of Burke's Letter to a Noble Lord was in No. I. of The Watchman.—The passage from "Religious Musings," under the title "The Present State of Society," was in No. II.—extending from line 260 to 357. [These lines were 279-378 1st ed.; 264-363 2nd ed.] The capital line in No. VI. is in the poem, "Lines on Observing a Blossom on the First of February, 1796."—Poor dead Parsons would be William Parsons (1736-1795), the original Sir Fretful Plagiary in Sheridan's "Critic." Lamb praises him in his essay on the Artificial Comedy.—In No. IX. of The Watchman were prose paraphrases of three Sclavonian songs, the first being "Song of a Female Orphan," and the second, "Song of the Haymakers."—John Logan's "Braes of Yarrow" had been quoted in No. III. as "the most exquisite performance in our language."—The invective against "the barterers" refers to the denunciation of the slave trade in No. IV. of The Watchman.
Cowper's recovery was only partial; and he was never rightly himself after 1793. The edition of Milton had been begun about 1790. It was never finished as originally intended; but Fuseli completed forty pictures, which were exhibited in 1799. An edition of Cowper's translations, with designs by Flaxman, was published in 1808, and of Cowper's complete Milton in 1810.
Wordsworth's poem would be "Guilt and Sorrow," of which a portion was printed in Lyrical Ballads, 1798, and the whole published in 1842.
Coleridge's "Monody on Chatterton," the first poem in his Poems on Various Subjects, 1796, had been written originally at Christ's Hospital, 1790: it continued to be much altered before the final version.
The two lines from "Religious Musings" are not the last, but the beginning of the last passage.
Coleridge contributed between three and four hundred lines to Book II. of Southey's Joan of Arc, as we shall see later. The poem beginning "My Pensive Sara" was Effusion 35, afterwards called "The AEolian Harp," and the lines to which Lamb refers are these, following upon Coleridge's description of how flitting phantasies traverse his indolent and passive brain:—
But thy more serious eye a mild reproof Darts, O beloved Woman! nor such thoughts Dim and unhallow'd dost thou not reject, And biddest me walk humbly with my God.
The plan to resume The Watchman did not come to anything.
Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), the theologian, at this time the object of Lamb's adoration, was one of the fathers of Unitarianism, a creed in which Lamb had been brought up under the influence of his Aunt Hetty. Coleridge, as a supporter of one of Priestley's allies, William Frend of Cambridge, and as a convinced Unitarian, was also an admirer of Priestley, concerning whom and the Birmingham riots of 1791 is a fine passage in "Religious Musings," while one of the sonnets of the 1796 volume was addressed to him: circumstances which Lamb had in mind when mentioning him in this letter. Lamb had probably seen Priestley at the Gravel Pit Chapel, Hackney, where he became morning preacher in December, 1791, remaining there until March, 1794. Thenceforward he lived in America. His Institutes of Natural and Revealed Religion appeared between 1772 and 1774. The other work referred to is Letters to the Philosophers and Politicians of France, newly edited by Theophilus Lindsey, the Unitarian, as An Answer to Mr. Paine's "Age of Reason," 1795.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
[Begun Wednesday, June 8. Dated on address: "Friday 10th June," 1796.]
With Joan of Arc I have been delighted, amazed. I had not presumed to expect any thing of such excellence from Southey. Why the poem is alone sufficient to redeem the character of the age we live in from the imputation of degenerating in Poetry, were there no such beings extant as Burns and Bowles, Cowper and——fill up the blank how you please, I say nothing. The subject is well chosen. It opens well. To become more particular, I will notice in their order a few passages that chiefly struck me on perusal. Page 26 "Fierce and terrible Benevolence!" is a phrase full of grandeur and originality. The whole context made me feel possess'd, even like Joan herself. Page 28, "it is most horrible with the keen sword to gore the finely fibred human frame" and what follows pleased me mightily. In the 2d Book the first forty lines, in particular, are majestic and high-sounding. Indeed the whole vision of the palace of Ambition and what follows are supremely excellent. Your simile of the Laplander "by Niemi's lake Or Balda Zhiok, or the mossy stone Of Solfar Kapper"—will bear comparison with any in Milton for fullness of circumstance and lofty-pacedness of Versification. Southey's similes, tho' many of 'em are capital, are all inferior. In one of his books the simile of the Oak in the Storm occurs I think four times! To return, the light in which you view the heathen deities is accurate and beautiful. Southey's personifications in this book are so many fine and faultless pictures. I was much pleased with your manner of accounting for the reason why Monarchs take delight in War. At the 447th line you have placed Prophets and Enthusiasts cheek by jowl, on too intimate a footing for the dignity of the former. Necessarian-like-speaking it is correct. Page 98 "Dead is the Douglas, cold thy warrior frame, illustrious Buchan" &c are of kindred excellence with Gray's "Cold is Cadwallo's tongue" &c. How famously the Maid baffles the Doctors, Seraphic and Irrefragable, "with all their trumpery!" 126 page, the procession, the appearances of the Maid, of the Bastard son of Orleans and of Tremouille, are full of fire and fancy, and exquisite melody of versification. The personifications from line 303 to 309 in the heat of the battle had better been omitted, they are not very striking and only encumber. The converse which Joan and Conrade hold on the Banks of the Loire is altogether beautiful. Page 313, the conjecture that in Dreams "all things are that seem" is one of those conceits which the Poet delights to admit into his creed—a creed, by the way, more marvellous and mystic than ever Athanasius dream'd of. Page 315, I need only mention those lines ending with "She saw a serpent gnawing at her heart"!!! They are good imitative lines "he toild and toild, of toil to reap no end, but endless toil and never ending woe." 347 page, Cruelty is such as Hogarth might have painted her. Page 361, all the passage about Love (where he seems to confound conjugal love with Creating and Preserving love) is very confused and sickens me with a load of useless personifications. Else that 9th Book is the finest in the volume, an exquisite combination of the ludicrous and the terrible,—I have never read either, even in translation, but such as I conceive to be the manner of Dante and Ariosto. The 10th book is the most languid. On the whole, considering the celerity wherewith the poem was finish'd, I was astonish'd at the infrequency of weak lines. I had expected to find it verbose. Joan, I think, does too little in Battle—Dunois, perhaps, the same—Conrade too much. The anecdotes interspersed among the battles refresh the mind very agreeably, and I am delighted with the very many passages of simple pathos abounding throughout the poem—passages which the author of "Crazy Kate" might have written. Has not Master Southey spoke very slightingly in his preface and disparagingly of Cowper's Homer?—what makes him reluctant to give Cowper his fame? And does not Southey use too often the expletives "did" and "does"? They have a good effect at times, but are too inconsiderable, or rather become blemishes, when they mark a style. On the whole, I expect Southey one day to rival Milton. I already deem him equal to Cowper, and superior to all living Poets besides. What says Coleridge? The "Monody on Henderson" is immensely good; the rest of that little volume is readable and above mediocrity. I proceed to a more pleasant task,—pleasant because the poems are yours, pleasant because you impose the task on me, and pleasant, let me add, because it will confer a whimsical importance on me to sit in judgment upon your rhimes. First tho', let me thank you again and again in my own and my sister's name for your invitations. Nothing could give us more pleasure than to come, but (were there no other reasons) while my Brother's leg is so bad it is out of the question. Poor fellow, he is very feverish and light headed, but Cruikshanks has pronounced the symptoms favorable, and gives us every hope that there will be no need of amputation. God send, not. We are necessarily confined with him the afternoon and evening till very late, so that I am stealing a few minutes to write to you. Thank you for your frequent letters, you are the only correspondent and I might add the only friend I have in the world. I go no where and have no acquaintance. Slow of speech, and reserved of manners, no one seeks or cares for my society and I am left alone. Allen calls only occasionally, as tho' it were a duty rather, and seldom stays ten minutes. Then judge how thankful I am for your letters. Do not, however, burthen yourself with the correspondence. I trouble you again so soon, only in obedience to your injunctions. Complaints apart, proceed we to our task. I am called away to tea, thence must wait upon my brother, so must delay till to-morrow. Farewell—Wednesday.
Thursday. I will first notice what is new to me. 13th page. "The thrilling tones that concentrate the soul" is a nervous line, and the 6 first lines of page 14 are very pretty. The 21st effusion a perfect thing. That in the manner of Spencer is very sweet, particularly at the close. The 35th effusion is most exquisite—that line in particular, "And tranquil muse upon tranquillity." It is the very reflex pleasure that distinguishes the tranquillity of a thinking being from that of a shepherd—a modern one I would be understood to mean—a Dametas; one that keeps other people's sheep. Certainly, Coleridge, your letter from Shurton Bars has less merit than most things in your volume; personally, it may chime in best with your own feelings, and therefore you love it best. It has however great merit. In your 4th Epistle that is an exquisite paragraph and fancy-full of "A stream there is which rolls in lazy flow" &c. &c. "Murmurs sweet undersong 'mid jasmine bowers" is a sweet line and so are the 3 next. The concluding simile is far-fetch'd. "Tempest-honord" is a quaint-ish phrase. Of the Monody on H., I will here only notice these lines, as superlatively excellent. That energetic one, "Shall I not praise thee, Scholar, Christian, friend," like to that beautiful climax of Shakspeare "King, Hamlet, Royal Dane, Father." "Yet memory turns from little men to thee!" "and sported careless round their fellow child." The whole, I repeat it, is immensely good. Yours is a Poetical family. I was much surpriz'd and pleased to see the signature of Sara to that elegant composition, the 5th Epistle. I dare not criticise the Relig Musings, I like not to select any part where all is excellent. I can only admire; and thank you for it in the name of a Christian as well as a Lover of good Poetry. Only let me ask, is not that thought and those words in Young, "Stands in the Sun"? or is it only such as Young in one of his better moments might have writ? "Believe, thou, O my Soul, Life is a vision, shadowy of truth, And vice and anguish and the wormy grave, Shapes of a dream!" I thank you for these lines, in the name of a Necessarian, and for what follows in next paragraph in the name of a child of fancy. After all you can[not] nor ever will write any thing, with which I shall be so delighted as what I have heard yourself repeat. You came to Town, and I saw you at a time when your heart was yet bleeding with recent wounds. Like yourself, I was sore galled with disappointed Hope. You had "many an holy lay, that mourning, soothed the mourner on his way." I had ears of sympathy to drink them in, and they yet vibrate pleasant on the sense. When I read in your little volume, your 19th Effusion, or the 28th or 29th, or what you call the "Sigh," I think I hear you again. I image to myself the little smoky room at the Salutation and Cat, where we have sat together thro' the winter nights, beguiling the cares of life with Poesy. When you left London, I felt a dismal void in my heart, I found myself cut off at one and the same time from two most dear to me. "How blest with Ye the Path could I have trod of Quiet life." In your conversation you had blended so many pleasant fancies, that they cheated me of my grief. But in your absence, the tide of melancholy rushd in again, and did its worst Mischief by overwhelming my Reason. I have recoverd. But feel a stupor that makes me indifferent to the hopes and fears of this life. I sometimes wish to introduce a religious turn of mind, but habits are strong things, and my religious fervors are confined alas to some fleeting moments of occasional solitary devotion—A correspondence, opening with you, has roused me a little from my lethargy, and made me conscious of existence. Indulge me in it. I will not be very troublesome. At some future time I will amuse you with an account as full as my memory will permit of the strange turn my phrensy took. I look back upon it at times with a gloomy kind of Envy. For while it lasted I had many many hours of pure happiness. Dream not Coleridge, of having tasted all the grandeur and wildness of Fancy, till you have gone mad. All now seems to me vapid; comparatively so. Excuse this selfish digression.
Your monody is so superlatively excellent, that I can only wish it perfect, which I can't help feeling it is not quite. Indulge me in a few conjectures. What I am going to propose would make it more compress'd and I think more energic, tho' I am sensible at the expence of many beautiful lines. Let it begin "Is this the land of song-ennobled line," and proceed to "Otway's famish'd form." Then "Thee Chatterton," to "blaze of Seraphim." Then "clad in nature's rich array," to "orient day;" then "but soon the scathing lightning," to "blighted land." Then "Sublime of thought" to "his bosom glows." Then "but soon upon his poor unsheltered head Did Penury her sickly Mildew shed, and soon are fled the charms of vernal Grace, and Joy's wild gleams that lightend o'er his face!" Then "Youth of tumultuous soul" to "sigh" as before. The rest may all stand down to "gaze upon the waves below." What follows now may come next, as detached verses, suggested by the Monody, rather than a part of it. They are indeed in themselves very sweet "And we at sober eve would round thee throng, Hanging enraptured on thy stately song"—in particular perhaps. If I am obscure you may understand me by counting lines. I have proposed omitting 24 lines. I feel that thus comprest it would gain energy, but think it most likely you will not agree with me, for who shall go about to bring opinions to the Bed of Procrustes and introduce among the Sons of Men a monotony of identical feelings. I only propose with diffidence. Reject, you, if you please, with as little remorse as you would the color of a coat or the pattern of a buckle where our fancies differ'd. The lines "Friend to the friendless" &c. which you may think "rudely disbranched" from the Chatterton will patch in with the Man of Ross, where they were once quite at Home, with 2 more which I recollect "and o'er the dowried virgin's snowy cheek bad bridal love suffuse his blushes meek!" very beautiful. The Pixies is a perfect thing, and so are the lines on the spring, page 28. The Epitaph on an Infant, like a Jack of lanthorn, has danced about (or like Dr. Forster's scholars) out of the Morn Chron into the Watchman, and thence back into your Collection. It is very pretty, and you seem to think so, but, may be o'er looked its chief merit, that of filling up a whole page. I had once deemd Sonnets of unrivalled use that way, but your epitaphs, I find, are the more diffuse. Edmund still holds its place among your best verses. "Ah! fair delights" to "roses round" in your Poem called Absence recall (none more forcibly) to my mind the tones in which you recited it. I will not notice in this tedious (to you) manner verses which have been so long delightful to me, and which you already know my opinion of. Of this kind are Bowles, Priestly, and that most exquisite and most Bowles-like of all, the 19th Effusion. It would have better ended with "agony of care." The last 2 lines are obvious and unnecessary and you need not now make 14 lines of it, now it is rechristend from a Sonnet to an Effusion. Schiller might have written the 20 Effusion. 'Tis worthy of him in any sense. I was glad to meet with those lines you sent me, when my Sister was so ill. I had lost the Copy, and I felt not a little proud at seeing my name in your verse. The complaint of Ninathoma (1st stanza in particular) is the best, or only good imitation, of Ossian I ever saw—your restless gale excepted. "To an infant" is most sweet—is not "foodful," tho', very harsh! would not "dulcet" fruit be less harsh, or some other friendly bi-syllable? In Edmund, "Frenzy fierce-eyed child," is not so well as frantic—tho' that is an epithet adding nothing to the meaning. Slander couching was better than squatting. In the Man of Ross it was a better line thus "If 'neath this roof thy wine-chear'd moments pass" than as it stands now. Time nor nothing can reconcile me to the concluding 5 lines of Kosciusko: call it any thing you will but sublime. In my 12th Effusion I had rather have seen what I wrote myself, tho' they bear no comparison with your exquisite lines "On rose-leaf'd beds amid your faery bowers," &c.—I love my sonnets because they are the reflected images of my own feelings at different times. To instance, in the 13th "How reason reel'd," &c.—are good lines but must spoil the whole with ME who know it is only a fiction of yours and that the rude dashings did in fact NOT ROCK me to REPOSE, I grant the same objection applies not to the former sonnet, but still I love my own feelings. They are dear to memory, tho' they now and then wake a sigh or a tear. "Thinking on divers things foredone," I charge you, Col., spare my ewe lambs, and tho' a Gentleman may borrow six lines in an epic poem (I should have no objection to borrow 500 and without acknowledging) still in a Sonnet—a personal poem—I do not "ask my friend the aiding verse." I would not wrong your feelings by proposing any improvements (did I think myself capable of suggesting 'em) in such personal poems as "Thou bleedest my poor heart"—'od so, I am catchd, I have already done it—but that simile I propose abridging would not change the feeling or introduce any alien ones. Do you understand me? In the 28th however, and in the "Sigh" and that composed at Clevedon, things that come from the heart direct, not by the medium of the fancy, I would not suggest an alteration. When my blank verse is finished, or any long fancy poems, "propino tibi alterandum, cut-up-andum, abridg-andum," just what you will with it—but spare my EWE LAMBS! That to Mrs. Siddons now you were welcome to improve, if it had been worth it. But I say unto you again, Col., spare my EWE LAMBS. I must confess were they mine I should omit, in Editione secunda, Effusions 2-3, because satiric, and below the dignity of the poet of Religious Musings, 5-7, half of the 8th, that written in early Youth, as far as "Thousand eyes,"—tho' I part not unreluctantly with that lively line "Chaste Joyance dancing in her bright-blue eyes" and one or 2 more just thereabouts. But I would substitute for it that sweet poem called "Recollection" in the 5th No. of the Watchman, better I think than the remainder of this poem, tho' not differing materially. As the poem now stands it looks altogether confused. And do not omit those lines upon the "early blossom," in your 6th No. of the Watchman, and I would omit the 10th Effusion—or what would do better, alter and improve the last 4 lines. In fact, I suppose if they were mine I should not omit 'em. But your verse is for the most part so exquisite, that I like not to see aught of meaner matter mixed with it. Forgive my petulance and often, I fear, ill founded criticisms, and forgive me that I have, by this time, made your eyes and head ach with my long letter. But I cannot forego hastily the pleasure and pride of thus conversing with you.
You did not tell me whether I was to include the Conciones ad Populum in my remarks on your poems. They are not unfrequently sublime, and I think you could not do better than to turn 'em into verse,—if you have nothing else to do. Allen I am sorry to say is a confirmed Atheist. Stodart, or Stothard, a cold hearted well bred conceited disciple of Godwin, does him no good. His wife has several daughters (one of 'em as old as himself). Surely there is something unnatural in such a marriage. How I sympathise with you on the dull duty of a reviewer, and heartily damn with you Ned Evans and the Prosodist. I shall however wait impatiently for the articles in the Crit. Rev., next month, because they are yours. Young Evans (W. Evans, a branch of a family you were once so intimate with) is come into our office, and sends his love to you. Coleridge, I devoutly wish that Fortune, who has made sport with you so long, may play one freak more, throw you into London, or some spot near it, and there snug-ify you for life. 'Tis a selfish but natural wish for me, cast as I am "on life's wide plain, friend-less." Are you acquainted with Bowles? I see, by his last Elegy (written at Bath), you are near neighbours. "And I can think I can see the groves again—was it the voice of thee—Twas not the voice of thee, my buried friend—who dries with her dark locks the tender tear"—are touches as true to nature as any in his other Elegy, written at the hot wells, about poor Russell, &c.—You are doubtless acquainted with it.—Thursday.
I do not know that I entirely agree with you in your stricture upon my Sonnet to Innocence. To men whose hearts are not quite deadened by their commerce with the world, Innocence (no longer familiar) becomes an awful idea. So I felt when I wrote it. Your other censures (qualified and sweeten'd, tho', with praises somewhat extravagant) I perfectly coincide with. Yet I chuse to retain the word "lunar"—indulge a "lunatic" in his loyalty to his mistress the moon. I have just been reading a most pathetic copy of verses on Sophia Pringle, who was hanged and burn'd for coining. One of the strokes of pathos (which are very many, all somewhat obscure) is "She lifted up her guilty forger to heaven." A note explains by forger her right hand with which she forged or coined the base metal! For pathos read bathos. You have put me out of conceit with my blank verse by your Religious Musings. I think it will come to nothing. I do not like 'em enough to send 'em. I have just been reading a book, which I may be too partial to, as it was the delight of my childhood; but I will recommend it to you—it is "Izaak Walton's Complete Angler!" All the scientific part you may omit in reading. The dialogue is very simple, full of pastoral beauties, and will charm you. Many pretty old verses are interspersed. This letter, which would be a week's work reading only, I do not wish you to answer in less than a month. I shall be richly content with a letter from you some day early in July—tho' if you get any how settled before then pray let me know it immediately— 'twould give me such satisfaction. Concerning the Unitarian chapel, the salary is the only scruple that the most rigid moralist would admit as valid. Concerning the tutorage—is not the salary low, and absence from your family unavoidable? London is the only fostering soil for Genius.
Nothing more occurs just now, so I will leave you in mercy one small white spot empty below, to repose your eyes upon, fatigued as they must be with the wilderness of words they have by this time painfully travell'd thro'. God love you, Coleridge, and prosper you thro' life, tho' mine will be loss if your lot is to be cast at Bristol or at Nottingham or any where but London. Our loves to Mrs. C—.
[Southey's Joan of Arc, with contributions to Book II. by Coleridge, had been published in quarto by Cottle. Coleridge contributed to Book II. the first 450 lines, with the exception of 141-143, 148-222, 266-272 and 286-291. He subsequently took out his lines and gave them new shape as the poem "The Destiny of Nations," printed in Sibylline Leaves, 1817. All subsequent editions of Southey's poem appeared without Coleridge's portion. The passages on page 26 and page 28 were Southey's. Those at the beginning of the second book were Coleridge's. The simile of the Laplander may be read in "The Destiny of Nations" (lines 63-79). These were the reasons given by Coleridge for monarchs making war:—
When Luxury and Lust's exhausted stores No more can rouse the appetites of KINGS; When the low Flattery of their reptile Lords Falls flat and heavy on the accustomed ear; When Eunuchs sing, and Fools buffoon'ry make. And Dancers writhe their harlot limbs in vain: Then War and all its dread vicissitudes Pleasingly agitate their stagnant hearts....
The 447th line was Coleridge's. This is the passage:—
Whether thy LAW with unrefracted Ray Beam on the PROPHET'S purged Eye, or if Diseasing Realms the ENTHUSIAST, wild of thought, Scatter new frenzies on the infected Throng, THOU, Both inspiring and foredooming, Both Fit INSTRUMENTS and best of perfect END.
With page 98 we come to Southey again, the remaining references being to him. The maid baffles the doctors in Book III.; page 126 is in Book IV.; the personifications are in Book VI.; the converse between Joan and Conrade is in Book IV.; page 313 is at the beginning of Book IX.; and pages 315, 347 and 361 are also in Book IX. Southey in the preface to Joan of Arc, speaking of Homer, says: "Pope has disguised him in fop-finery and Cowper has stripped him naked." "Crazy Kate" is an episode in The Task ("The Sofa").
The "Monody on John Henderson," by Joseph Cottle, was printed anonymously in a volume of poems in 1795, and again in The Malvern Hill. John Henderson (1757-1788) was an eccentric scholar of Bristol. The lines praised by Lamb are the 4th, 12th and 14th. The poem must not be confused with the Monody on Henderson, the actor, by G. D. Harley.
Lamb now turns again to Coleridge's Poems. The poem on the 13th and 14th pages of this little volume was "To the Rev. W. J. H." The 21st Effusion was that entitled "Composed while Climbing the Left Ascent of Brockley Coomb." The 35th Effusion is known as "The AEolian Harp." The letter from Shurton Bars is the poem beginning—
Nor travels my meand'ring eye.
The 4th Epistle is that to Joseph Cottle, Coleridge's publisher and the author of the "Monody on Henderson," referred to in Coleridge's verses. The lines which Lamb quotes are Cottle's. The poem by Sara Coleridge is "The Silver Thimble." The passage in the "Religious Musings," for which Lamb is thankful as a "child of fancy," is the last paragraph:—
Contemplant Spirits! ye that hover o'er With untired gaze the immeasurable fount Ebullient with creative Deity! And ye of plastic power, that interfused Roll through the grosser and material mass In organising surge! Holies of God! (And what if Monads of the infinite mind?) I haply journeying my immortal course Shall sometime join your mystic choir! Till then I discipline my young noviciate thought In ministeries of heart-stirring song, And aye on Meditation's heaven-ward wing Soaring aloft I breathe the empyreal air Of Love, omnific, omnipresent Love, Whose day-spring rises glorious in my soul As the great Sun, when he his influence Sheds on the frost-bound waters—The glad stream Flows to the ray and warbles as it flows.
"You came to Town ..." Soon after his engagement with Sara Fricker, his heart being still not wholly healed of its passion for Mary Evans, Coleridge had gone to London from Bristol, nominally to arrange for the publication of his Fall of Robespierre, and had resumed intercourse with Lamb and other old Christ's Hospital friends. There he remained until Southey forcibly took him back in January, 1795. From what Lamb says of the loss of two friends we must suppose, in default of other information, that he had to give up his Anna at the same time. The loss of reason, however, to which he refers did not come until the end of the year 1795.
The 19th Effusion, afterwards called "On a Discovery Made Too Late;" the 28th, "The Kiss;" the 29th, "Imitated from Ossian."
"Your monody." This, not to be confounded with Cottle's "Monody on Henderson," was Coleridge's "Monody on Chatterton." Lamb's emendations were not accepted. As regards "The Man of Ross," the couplet beginning "Friend to the friendless" ultimately had a place both in that poem and in the Monody, but the couplet "and o'er the dowried virgin" was never replaced in either. The lines on spring, page 28, are "Lines to a Beautiful Spring." Dr. Forster (Faustus) was the hero of the nursery rhyme, whose scholars danced out of England into France and Spain and 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:—
LAMB'S ORIGINAL EFFUSION (11)
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.
AS ALTERED BY COLERIDGE
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 missing)
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE [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!"