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Hartley, and my kind remembrance to Lloyd if he is with you. "C. Lamb.

"I will get 'Nature and Art,'—have not seen it yet—nor any of Jeremy Taylor's works."

CHAPTER m.

[1797.]

LETTERS TO COLERIDGE.

The volume which was to combine the early poetry of the three friends was not completed in the year 1796, and proceeded slowly through the press in the following year; Lamb occasionally submitting an additional sonnet, or correction of one already sent, to the judgment of Coleridge, and filling long letters with minute suggestions on Coleridge's share of the work, and high, but honest expressions of praise of particular images and thoughts. The eulogy is only interesting as indicative of the reverential feeling with which Lamb regarded the genius of Coleridge —but one or two specimens of the gentle rebuke which he ventured on, when the gorgeousness of Coleridge's language seemed to oppress his sense, are worthy of preservation. The following relates to a line in the noble Ode on the Departing Year, in which Coleridge had written of

"TV ethereal multitude, Whose purple locks with snow-white glories shone."

"'Purple locks, and snow-white glories;' —these are things the muse talks about when, to borrow H. Walpole's witty phrase, she is not finely-frenzied, only a little lightheaded, that's all—' Purple locks!' They may manage things differently in fairyland; but your 'golden tresses' are to my fancy."

On this remonstrance Coleridge changed the "purple" into "golden," defending his original epithet; and Lamb thus gave up the point:—

"' Golden locks and snow-white glories' are as incongruous as your former; and if the great Italian painters, of whom my friend knows about as much as the man in the moon—if these great gentlemen be on your side, I see no harm in your retaining the purple. The glories that / have observed to encircle the heads of saints and madonnas

in those old paintings, have been mostly of a dirty drab-coloured yellow—a dull gambogium. Keep your old line ; it will excite a confused kind of pleasurable idea in the reader's mind, not clear enough to be called a conception, nor just enough, I think, to reduce to painting. It is a rich line, you say ; and riches hide a many faults." And the word "wreathed" was ultimately adopted, instead of purple or golden: but the snow-white glories remain.

Not satisfied with the dedication of his portion of the volume to his sister, and the sonnet which had been sent to the press, Lamb urged on Coleridge the insertion of another, which seems to have been ultimately withheld as too poor in poetical merit for publication. The rejected sonnet, and the references made to it by the writer, have an interest now beyond what mere fancy can give. After various critical remarks on an ode of Coleridge, he thus introduced the subject:—

"If the fraternal sentiment conveyed in the following lines will atone for the total want of anything like merit or genius in it, I desire you will print it next after my other sonnet to my sister.

'Friend of my earliest years and childish days,
My joys, my sorrows, thou with me hast shored.
Companion dear; and we alike have fared,
Poor pilgrims we, through life's unequal ways.
It were unwisely done, should we refuse
To cheer our path, as featly as we may,—
Our lonely path to cheer, as travellers use,
With merry song, quaint tale, or roundelay.
And we will sometimes talk past troubles o*er,
Of mercies shown, and all our sickness heal'd
And in his judgments God remembering love:
And we will learn to praise God evermore,
For those " glad tidings of great joy," reveal'd
By that sooth messenger, sent from above.'—1797.

"This has been a sad long letter of business, with no room in it for what honest Bunyan terms heart-work. I have just room left to congratulate you on your removal to Stowey ; to wish success to all your projects; to ' bid fair peace' be to that house; to send my love and best wishes, breathed warmly, after your dear Sara, and her little David Hartley. If Lloyd be with you, bid him write to me: I feel to whom I am obliged primarily, for two very friendly letters I have received already from him. A dainty sweet book that' Nature and Art' ia.—I am at present re-re-reading Priestley's Examination of the Scotch Doctors: how the rogue strings 'em up! three together! You have no doubt read that clear, strong, humourous, most entertaining piece of reasoning? If not, procure it, and be exquisitely amused. I wish I could get more of Priestley's works. Can you recommend me to any more books, easy of access, such as circulating shops afford! God bless you and yours.

"Monday morning, at office."

■ Poor Mary is very unwell with a sore throat and a slight species of scarlet fever. God bless her too."

He recurs to the subject in his next letter, which is also interesting, as urging Coleridge to attempt some great poem worthy of his genius.

TO MR. COLERIDGE.

"Jan. 10th, 1797. "I need not repeat my wishes to have my little sonnets printed verbatim my last way. In particular, I fear lest you should prefer printing my first sonnet, as you have done more than once, 'did the wand of Merlin wave,' it looks so like Mb. Merlin, the ingenious successor of the immortal Merlin, now living in good health and spirits, and flourishing in magical reputation, in Oxford-street; and, on my life, one half who read it would understand it so. Do put 'em forth finally, as I have, in various letters, settled it; for first a man's self is to be pleased, and then his friends,—and, of course, the greater number of his friends, if they differ inter se. Thus taste may safely be put to the vote. I do long to see our names together; not for vanity's sake, and naughty pride of heart altogether, for not a living soul I know, or am intimate with, will scarce read the book, —so I shall gain nothing, quoad famam; and yet there is a little vanity mixes in it, I cannot help denying.—I am aware of the unpoetical cast of the six last lines of my last sonnet, and think myself unwarranted in smuggling so tame a thing into the book; only the sentiments of those six lines are thoroughly congenial to me in my state of mind, and I wish to accumulate perpetuating tokens of my affection to poor Mary,—that it has no originality in its cast, nor anything

in the feelings, but what is common and natural to thousands, nor ought properly to be called poetry, I see; still it will tend to keep present to my mind a view of things which I ought to indulge. These six lines, too, have not, to a reader, a connectedness with the foregoing. Omit it, if you like.— What a treasure it is to my poor, indolent, and unemployed mind, thus to lay hold on a subject to talk about, though 'tis but a sonnet, and that of the lowest order! How mournfully inactive I am !—'Tis night: good night.

"My sister, I thank God, is nigh recovered: she was seriously ill. Do, in your next letter, and that right soon, give me some satisfaction respecting your present situation at Stowey. Is it a farm you have got 1 and what does your worship know about farming 1

"Coleridge, I want you to write an epic poem. Nothing short of it can satisfy the vast capacity of true poetic genius. Having one great end to direct all your poetical faculties to, and on which to lay out your hopes, your ambition will show you to what you are equal. By the sacred energies of Milton! by the dainty, sweet, and soothing phantasies of honey-tongued Spenser! I adjure you to attempt the epic. Or do something more ample than the writing an occasional brief ode or sonnet; something 'to make yourself for ever known,—to make the age to come your own.' But I prate; doubtless yon meditate something. When you are exalted among the lords of epic fame, I shall recall with pleasure, and exultingly, the days of your humility, when you disdained not to put forth, in the same volume with mine, your 'R«ligious Musings,' and that other poem from the' Joan of Arc,' those promising first-fruits of high renown to come. You have learning, you have fancy, you have enthusiasm, you have strength, and amplitude of wing enow for flights like those I recommend. In the vast and unexplored regions of fairy-land, there is ground enough unfound and uncultivated; search there, and realise your favourite Susquehannah scheme. In all our comparisons of taste, I do not know whether I have ever heard your opinion of a poet, very dear to me,—the now-out-offashion Cowley. Favour me with your judgment of him, and tell me if his prose j essays, in particular, as well as no incon

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TO MR. COLERIDGE.
“Jan. 10th, 1797.

“Priestley, whom I sin in almost adoring, speaks of ‘such a choice of company, as tends to keep up that right bent, and firmness, of mind, which a necessary intercourse with the world would otherwise warp and relax.’ ‘Such fellowship is the true balsam of life; its cement is infinitely more durable than that of the friendships of the world, and it looks for its proper fruit, and complete gratification, to the life beyond the grave.’ Is there a possible chance for such an one as I to realise in this world such friendships ? Where am I to look for 'em What testimonials shall I bring of my being worthy of such friendship ! Alas ! the great and good go together in separate herds, and leave such as I to lag far, far behind in all intellectual, and, far more grievous to say, in all moral accomplishments. Coleridge, I have not one truly elevated character among my acquaintance: not one Christian : not one, but undervalues Christianity—singly what am I to do Wesley (have you read his life () was he not an elevated character Wesley has said,

“Religion is not a solitary thing.” Alas! it good.

necessarily is so with me, or next to solitary. 'Tis true you write to me. But correspond

ence by letter, and personal intimacy, are very widely different. Do, do write to me, and do some good to my mind, already how much “warped and relaxed' by the world ! 'Tis the conclusion of another evening. Good night. God have us all in his keeping.

“If you are sufficiently at leisure, oblige me with an account of your plan of life at Stowey—your literary occupations and prospects—in short, make me acquainted with every circumstance which, as relating to you, can be interesting to me. Are you yet a Berkleyan Make me one. I rejoice in being, speculatively, a necessarian. Would to God, I were habitually a practical one ! Confirm me in the faith of that great and glorious doctrine, and keep me steady in the contemplation of it. You some time since expressed an intention you had of finishing some extensive work on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion. Have you let that intention go Or are you doing anything towards it? Make to yourself other ten talents. My letter is full of nothingness. I talk of nothing. But I must talk. I love to write to you. I take a pride in it. It makes me think less meanly of myself. It makes me think myself not totally disconnected from the better part of mankind. I know I am too dissatisfied with the beings around me; but I cannot help occasionally exclaiming, ‘Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Meshech, and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar.' I know I am noways better in practice than my neighbours, but I have a taste for religion, an occasional earnest aspiration after perfection, which they have not. I gain nothing by being with such as myself—we encourage one another in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself. All this must sound odd to you, but these are my predominant feelings, when I sit down to write to you, and I should put force upon my mind were I to reject them. Yet I rejoice, and feel my privilege with gratitude, when I have been reading some wise book, such as I have just been reading, ‘Priestley on Philosophical Necessity, in the thought that I enjoy a kind of communion, a kind of friendship even, with the great and Books are to me instead of friends. I wish they did not resemble the latter in their scarceness.

“And how does little David Hartley ‘Ecquid in antiquam virtutem f* Does his mighty name work wonders yet upon his little frame and opening mind I did not distinctly understand you—you don't mean to make an actual ploughman of him Is Lloyd with you yet Are you intimate with Southey! What poems is he about to publish? —he hath a most prolific brain, and is indeed a most sweet poet. But how can you answer all the various mass of interrogation I have put to you in the course of the sheet 2 Write back just what you like, only write something, however brief. I have now nigh finished my page, and got to the end of another evening (Monday evening), and my eyes are heavy and sleepy, and my brain unsuggestive. I have just heart enough

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a man, whose friend has asked him his opinion of a certain young lady—the deluded wight gives judgment against her in toto— don't like her face, her walk, her manners; finds fault with her eyebrows; can see no wit in her; his friend looks blank, he begins to smell a rat — wind veers about—he acknowledges her good sense, her judgment in dress, a certain simplicity of manners and honesty of heart, something too in her manners which gains upon you after a short acquaintance,—and then her accurate pronunciation of the French language, and a pretty uncultivated taste in drawing. The reconciled gentleman smiles applause, squeezes him by the hand, and hopes he will do him the honour of taking a bit of dinner with Mrs. and him, a plain family dinner-some day next week; ‘for, I suppose, you never heard we were married. I'm glad to see you like my wife, however; you'll come and see her, ha!” Now am I too proud to retract entirely 1 Yet I do perceive I am in some sort straitened; you are manifestly wedded to this poem, and what fancy has joined let no man separate. I turn me to the Joan of Arc, second book. “The solemn openings of it are with sounds, which Ll. would say ‘are silence to the mind.” The deep preluding strains are fitted to initiate the mind, with a pleasing awe, into the sublimest mysteries of theory concerning man's nature, and his noblest destination— the philosophy of a first cause—of subordinate agents in creation, superior to man— the subserviency of Pagan worship and Pagan faith to the introduction of a purer and more perfect religion, which you so elegantly describe as winning, with gradual steps, her difficult way northward from Bethabra. After all this cometh Joan, a publican's daughter, sitting on an ale-house bench, and marking the swingings of the signboard, finding a poor man, his wife and six children, starved to death with cold, and thence roused into a state of mind proper to receive visions, emblematical of equality; which, what the devil Joan had to do with, I don't know, or, indeed, with the French and American revolutions, though that needs no pardon, it is executed so nobly. After all, if you perceive no disproportion, all argument is vain: I do not so much object to parts. Again, when

you talk of building your fame on these lines siderable part of his verse, be not delicious. I prefer the graceful rambling of his essays, even to the courtly elegance and ease of Addison; abstracting from this the latter's

exquisite humour.

# * • * *

"When the little volume is printed, send me three or four, at all events not more than six copies, and tell me if I put you to any additional expense, by printing with you. I have no thought of the kind, and in that case must reimburse you."

In the commencement of this year, Coleridge removed from Bristol to a cottage at Nether Stowey, to embody his favourite dream of a cottage life. This change of place probably delayed the printing of the volume; and Coleridge, busy with a thousand speculations, became irregular in replying to the letters with writing which Lamb solaced his dreary hours. The following are the most interesting portions of the only letters which remain of this year.

TO MR. COLERIDQE.

"Jan. 10th, 1797. "Priestley, whom I sin in almost adoring, speaks of' such a choice of company, as tends to keep up that right bent, and firmness, of mind, which a necessary intercourse with the world would otherwise warp and relax.' 'Such fellowship is the true balsam of life; its cement is infinitely more durable than that of the friendships of the world, and it looks for its proper fruit, and complete gratification, to the life beyond the grave.' Is there a possible chance for such an one as I to realise in this world such friendships? Where am I to look for 'em? What testimonials shall I bring of my being worthy of such friendship? Alas! the great and good go together in separate herds, and leave such as I to lag far, far behind in all intellectual, and, far more grievous to say, in all moral accomplishments. Coleridge, I have not one truly elevated character among my acquaintance: not one Christian: not one, but undervalues Christianity—singly what am I to do? Wesley (have you read his life i) was he not an elevated character? Wesley has said, 'Religion is not a solitary thing.' Alas! it necessarily is so with me, or next to solitary. 'Tis true you write to me. But correspond

ence by letter, and personal intimacy, are very widely different. Do, do write to me, and do some good to my mind, already how much ' warped and relaxed' by the world! 'Tis the conclusion of another evening. Good night. God have us all in his keeping.

"If you are sufficiently at leisure, oblige me with an account of your plan of life at Stowey—your literary occupations and prospects—in short, make me acquainted with every circumstance which, as relating to you, can be interesting to me. Are you yet a Berkleyan 1 Make me one. I rejoice in being, speculatively, a necessarian. Would to God, I were habitually a practical one! Confirm me in the faith of that great and glorious doctrine, and keep me steady in the contemplation of it. You some time since expressed an intention you had of finishing some extensive work on the Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion. Have you let that intention go? Or are you doing anything towards it 1 Make to yourself other ten talents. My letter is full of nothingness. I talk of nothing. But I must talk. I love to write to you. I take a pride in it. It makes me think less meanly of myself. It makes me think myself not totally disconnected from the better part of mankind. I know I am too dissatisfied with the beings around me; but I cannot help occasionally exclaiming,' Woe is me, that I am constrained to dwell with Meshech, and to have my habitation among the tents of Kedar.' I know I am noways better in practice than my neighbours, but 1 have a taste for religion, an occasional earnest aspiration after perfection, which they have not. I gain nothing by being with such as myself—we encourage one another in mediocrity. I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself. All this must sound odd to you, but these are my predominant feelings, when I sit down to write to you, and I should put force upon my mind were 1 to reject them. Yet I rejoice, and feel my privilege with gratitude, when I have been reading some wise book, such as I have just been reading, 'Priestley on Philosophical Necessity,' in the thought that I enjoy a kind of communion, a kind of friendship even, with the great and good. Books are to me instead of friends. I wish they did not resemble the latter in their scarceness.

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