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newspapers of the time, in the " British Quarterly Review," and the diffusion of the passage, extracted thence, through several other journals. After this publication, no doubt could remain as to the propriety of publishing the letters of Lamb on this event, eminently exalting the characters of himself and his sister, and enabling the reader to judge of the sacrifice which followed it.
I have also availed myself of the opportunity of introducing some letters, the objection to publishing which has been obviated by the same great healer, Time ; and of adding others which I deemed too trivial for the public eye, when the whole wealth of his letters lay before me, collected by Mr. Moxon from the distinguished correspondents of Lamb, who kindly responded to his request for permission to make the public sharers in their choice epistolary treasures. The appreciation which the letters already published, both in this country and in America—perhaps even more remarkable in America than in England—have attained, and the interest which the lightest fragments of Lamb's correspondence, which have accidentally appeared in other quarters, have excited, convince me that some letters which I withheld, as doubting their worthiness of the public eye, will not now be unwelcome. There is, indeed, scarcely a note—a notelet—(as he used to call his very little letters) Lamb ever wrote, which has not some tinge of that quaint sweetness, some hint of that peculiar union of kindness and whim, which distinguish him from all other poets and humorists. I do not think the reader will complain that—with some very slight exceptions, which personal considerations still render necessary—I have made him a partaker of all the epistolary treasures which the generosity of Lamb's correspondents placed at Mr. Moxon's disposal.
When I first considered the materials of this work, I purposed to combine them with a new edition of the former volumes; but the consideration that such a course would be unjust to the possessors of those volumes induced me to present them to the public in a separate form. In accomplishing that object, I have felt the difficulty of connecting the letters so as to render their attendant circumstances intelligible, without falling into repetition of passages in the previous biography. My attempt has been to make these volumes subsidiary to the former, and yet complete in themselves; but I fear its imperfection will require much indulgence from the reader. The italics and capitals used in printing the letters are always those of the writer; and the little passages sometimes prefixed to letters, have been printed as in the originals.
In venturing to introduce some notices of Lamb's deceased companions, I have been impelled partly by a desire to explain any allusion in the letters which might be misunderstood by those who are not familiar with the fine vagaries of Lamb's affection, and partly by the hope of giving some faint notion of the entire circle with which Lamb is associated in the recollection of a few survivors.
T. N. T.
Londoe, July, 1848.
FINAL MEMORIALS OF CHARLES LAMB.
LITTERS OF LAMB TO COLERIDGE, IN THE 8PRINO AND SUMMER OP 1796.
In the year 1795, Charles Lamb resided with hU father, mother, and sister, in lodgings at No. 7, Little Queen-street, Holborn. The father was rapidly sinking into dotage; the mother suffered under an infirmity which deprived her of the use of her limbs ; and the sister not only undertook the office of daily and nightly attendance on her mother, but sought to add by needle-work to their slender resources. Their income then consisted of an annuity which Mr. Lamb the elder derived from the old Bencher, Mr. Salt, whom he had faithfully served for many years; Charles's salary, which, being that of a clerk of three years' standing in the India House, could have been but scanty; and a small payment made for board by an old maiden aunt, who resided with them. In this year Lamb, being just twenty years of age, began to write verses—partly incited by the example of his old friend, Coleridge, whom he regarded with as much reverence as affection, and partly inspired by an attachment to a young lady residing in the neighbourhood of Islington, who is commemorated in his early verses as " the fair-haired maid." How his love prospered we cannot ascertain; but we know how nobly that love, and all hope of the earthly blessings attendant on such an affection, were resigned on the catastrophe which darkened the following year. In the meantime, his youth was lonely— rendered the more so by the recollection of
the society of Coleridge, who had just left London—of Coleridge in the first bloom of life and genius, unshaded by the mysticism which it afterwards glorified—full of boundless ambition, love, and hope! There was a tendency to insanity in his family, which had been more than once developed in his sister; and it was no matter of surprise that in the dreariness of his solitude it fell upon him; and that, at the close of the year, he was subjected for a few weeks to the restraint of the insane. The wonder is that, amidst all the difficulties, the sorrows, and the excitements of his succeeding forty years, it never recurred. Perhaps the true cause of this remarkable exemption—an exemption the more remarkable when his afflictions are considered in association with one single frailty—will be found in the sudden claim made on his moral and intellectual nature by a terrible exigency, and by his generous answer to that claim ; so that a life of selfsacrifice was rewarded by the preservation of unclouded reason.
The following letter to Coleridge, then residing at Bristol, which is undated, but which is proved by circumstances to have been written in the spring of 1796, and which is probably the earliest of Lamb's letters which have been preserved, contains his own account of this seizure. Allusion to the same event will be perceived in two letters of the same year, after which no reference to it appears in his correspondence, nor can any be remembered in his conversations with his dearest friends.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
"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.
"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 Reviews, and the short passages in your Watchman, seem to me much superior to anything 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 a hundredfold in this philosophical age, to prevent converts to atheism, for they seem too tough disputants to meddle with afterwards.
"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, honourable, and of good report.' Coleridge ! I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through at Bristol. My life has been somewhat diversified of late. The six weeks that finished last year and began this, your very humble servant spent very agreeably in a madhouse, 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 were 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 prisonhouse in one of my lucid intervals.
TO MY SISTER.
"If from my lips pome angry accents fell,
Peevish complaint, or harsh reproof unkind,
And troubled thoughts, clouding the purer well,
No blemish. Thou to me didst ever show
But ill the mighty debt of love I owe,
"With these lines, and with that sister's
kindest remembrances to C , I conclude.
"Yours sincerely, Lamb."
"Your ' Condones ad Populum' are the most eloquent politics that ever came in my way.
"Write when convenient—not as a task, for here is nothing in this letter to answer.
"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 compliments to Southey if at Bristol; — why, he is a very Leviathan of Bards—the small minnow, I!"
In the spring of this year, Coleridge proposed the association of those first efforts of the young clerk in the India House, which he had prompted and praised, with his own, in a new edition of his Poems, to which Mr. Charles Lloyd also proposed to contribute. The following letter comprises Sonnets transmitted to Coleridge for this purpose, accompanied by remarks so characteristic as to induce the hope that the reader will forgive the introduction of these small gems of verse which were published in due course, for the sake of the original setting.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
a I am in such violent pain with the headache, 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 shakos off his drowsyhcd.# 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,
Who shut their ears when holy Freedom calls.
I pass not thee so lightly, humble spire.
Kindling anew the flames of past desire;
And I shall muse on thee, slow journeying on,
To the green plains of pleasant Hertfordshire.
u 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 first Sonnet 'that mocked my step with many a lonely glade.'
"When last I roved these winding wood-walks green, Green winding walks, and shady pathways sweet;
Oft-times would Anna seek the silent scene,
>'o more I hear her footsteps in the shade;
I held free converse with my fair-haired maid.
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 befal thee, gentle maid,' said I;
And from the cottage turned 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 loth to meet the rudeness of men's sight;
Speaking most plain the thoughts which do possess
A look whereof might heal the cruel smart
Might to sweet deeds of mercy move the heart
"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.
Defiling with the world my virgin heart—
Beloved 1 who can tell me where thou art—
"Since writing it, I have found in a poem by Hamilton of Bangor, these two lines to 'Happiness.'
Nun, sober and devout, where art thou fled
Lines eminently beautiful; but I do not remember having read them previously, for the credit of my tenth and eleventh lines. Parnell has two lines (which probably suggested the above) to ' Contentment.'
Whither, ah! whither art thou fled
"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
"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 independent, 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-whatd'ye-call-'em-ists? We have just learned 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 anything bring you to London, you will recollect No. 7, Little Queen Street, Holborn.
* *' Drowsyhed " I have met with, I think, in Spenser. *Tis an old thing, but it rhymes with led, and rhyming covers a multitude of licences.—C. Lamb's Manuscripts.
• Cowley uses this phrase with a somewhat different meaning. I meant, loves of relatives, friends, &c.— C. Lamb's Manuscripts.
t An odd epithet for Contentment in a poet so poetical as Parnell.—C. Lamb's Manuscripts.
"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 1 You sported some of his sublimities, I see, in your Watchman. Very decent things'. So much for tonight from your afflicted, headachey, sorethroatey, humble servant, C. Lamn."
"Tut*day night.—Of your Watchman, the Review of Burke was the best prose. I
augured great things from the first 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 anything in it approaching to tumidity (which I meant not to infer; by elaborate I meant simply laboured), 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 Foul Spirits disherited of Earth,' and' the strange beatitude' which the good man shall recognise in heaven, as well as the particularising 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 sixth number.
'This dark, frieze-coated, hoarse, teeth-chattering month.'
They are exactly such epithets as Burns would have stumbled on, whose poem on the ploughed-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 numbers, 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 first Sclavonian Song. The expression in the second,—'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 employed on his translation of the Italian, &c., poems of Milton for an edition where Fuseli presides as designer. Coleridge! to an idler like