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a weekly paper, to be called 'The Friend ;' a flaming prospectus. I have no time to give the heads of it. To commence first Saturday in January. There came also notice of a turkey from Mr. Clarkson, which I am more sanguine in expecting the accomplishment of than I am of Coleridge's prophecy.
During the next year Lamb and his sister produced their charming little book of "Poetry for Children," and removed from Mitre Court to those rooms in Inner Temple Lane,—most dear of all their abodes to the memory of their ancient friends—where first I knew them. The change produced its natural and sad effect on Miss Lamb, during whose absence Lamb addressed the following various letter
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
"June 7th, 1809. "Dear Coleridge,—I congratulate you on the appearance of ' The Friend.' Your first number promises well, and I have no doubt the succeeding numbers will fulfil the promise. I had a kind letter from you some time since, which I have left unanswered. I am also obliged to you, I believe, for a review in the Annual, am I not? The Monthly Review sneers at me, and asks 'if Comas is not good enough for Mr. Lamb 1' because I have said no good serious dramas have been written since the death of Charles the First, except "Samson Agonistes ;' so because they do not know, or won't remember, that Comus was written long before, I am to be set down as an undervaluer of Milton. O, Coleridge! do kill those reviews, or they will kill us ; kill all we like! Be a friend to all else, but their foe. I have been turned out of my chambers in the Temple by a landlord who wanted them for himself, but I have got other at No. 4, Inner Temple Lane, far more commodious and roomy. I have two rooms on third floor and five rooms above, with an inner staircase to myself, and all new painted, &c., and all for 301. a year! I came into them on Saturday week; and on Monday following, Mary was taken ill with fatigue of moving, and affected, I believe, by the novelty of the home she could not sleep, and I am left alone with a
maid quite a stranger to me, and she has a month or two's sad distraction to go through. What sad large pieces it cuts out of life; out of her life, who is getting rather old; and we may not have many years to live together! I am weaker, and bear it worse than I ever did. But I hope we shall be comfortable by and bye. The rooms are delicious, and the best look backwards into Hare Court, where there is a pump always going. Just now it is dry. Hare Court trees come in at the window, so that it's like living in a garden. I try to persuade myself it is much pleasanter than Mitre Court; but, alas! the household gods are slow to come in a new mansion. They are in their infancy to me; I do not feel them yet; no hearth has blazed to them yet. How I hate and dread new places!
"I was very glad to see Wordsworth's book advertised; I am to have it to-morrow lent me, and if Wordsworth don't send me an order for one upon Longman, I will buy it. It is greatly extolled and liked by all who have seen it. Let me hear from some of you, for I am desolate. I shall have to send you, in a week or two, two volumes of Juvenile Poetry, done by Mary and me within the last six months, and that tale in prose which Wordsworth so much liked, which was published at Christmas, with nine others, by us, and has reached a second edition. There's for you! We have almost worked ourselves out of child's work, and I don't know what to do. Sometimes I think of a drama, but I have no head for play-making; I can do the dialogue, and that's all. I am quite aground for a plan, and I must do something for money. Not that I have immediate wants, but I have prospective ones. O money, money, how blindly thou hast been worshipped, and how stupidly abused! Thou art health and liberty, and strength, and he that has thee may rattle his pockets at the foul fiend!
"Nevertheless, do not understand by this that I have not quite enough for my occasions for a year or two to come. While I think on it, Coleridge, I fetch'd away my books which you had at the Courier Office, and found all but a third volume of the old plays, containing 'The White Devil,' Green's 'Tu Quoque,' and the 'Honest Whore,' perhaps the most valuable volume of them all— that I could not find. Pray, if you can, remember what you did with it, or where you took it out with you a walking perhaps; send me word, for, to use the old plea, it spoils a set. I found two other volumes (you had three), the 'Arcadia,' and Daniel, enriched with manuscript notes. I wish every book I have were so noted. They have thoroughly converted me to relish Daniel, or to say I relish him, for, after all, I believe I did relish him. You well call him soberminded. Your notes are excellent. Perhaps you've forgot them. I have read a review in the Quarterly, by Southey, on the Missionaries, which is most masterly. I only grudge it being there. It is quite beautiful. Do remember my Dodsley; and, pray, do write, or let some of you write. Clarkson tells me you are in a smoky house. Have you cured it 1 It is hard to cure anything of smoking. Our little poems are but humble, but they have no name. You must read them, remembering they were task-work; and perhaps you will admire the number of subjects, all of children, picked out by an old Bachelor and an old Maid. Many parents would not have found so many. Have you read 'Ccelebs?' It has reached eight editions in so many weeks, yet literally it is one of the very poorest sort of common novels, with the draw-back of dull religion in it . Had the religion been high and flavoured, it would have been something. I borrowed this 'Coelebs in Search of a Wife,' of a very careful, neat lady, and returned it with this stuff written in the beginning:—
1 If ever I marry a wife
I'd marry a landlord's daughter.
And drink cold brandy-and-watcr.'
"I don't expect you can find time from your' Friend' to write to me much, but write something, for there has been a long silence. You know Holcroft is dead. Godwin is well. He has written a very pretty, absurd book about sepulchres. He was affronted because I told him it was better than Hervey, but not so good as Sir T. Browne. This letter is all about books ; but my head aches, and I hardly know what I write ; but I could not let 'The Friend' pass without a congratulatory epistle. I won't criticise till it comes to a volume. Tell me how I shall
send my packet to you ?—by what conveyance ?—by Longman, Short-man, or how? Give my kindest remembrances to the Wordsworths. Tell him he must give me a book. My kind love to Mrs. W. and to Dorothy separately and conjointly. I wish you could all come and see me in my new rooms. God bless you all. C. L."
A journey into Wiltshire, to visit Hazlitt, followed Miss Lamb's recovery, and produced the following letters:—
TO HR. COLERIDGE.
"Monday, Oct. 30th, 1809.
"Dear Coleridge,—I have but this moment received your letter, dated the 9th instant, having just come off a journey from Wiltshire, where I have been with Mary on a visit to Hazlitt. The journey has been of infinite service to her. We have had nothing but sunshiny days, and daily walks from eight to twenty miles a-day; have seen Wilton, Salisbury, Stonehenge, &c. Her illness lasted but six weeks; it left her weak, but the country has made us whole. We came back to our Hogarth Boom. I have made several acquisitions since you saw them,—and found Nos. 8, 9, 10 of Tin Friend. The account of Luther in the Warteburg is as fine as anything I ever read.* God forbid that a man who has such things to say should be silenced for want of 1001. This Custom-and-Duty-Age would have made the Preacher on the Mount take out a licence, and St. Paul's Epistles not missible without a stamp. O that you may find means to go on! But alas! where is Sir G. Beaumont ?—Sotheby? What is become of the rich Auditors in Albemarle Street? Your letter has saddened me.
* The Warteburg is a Castle, standing on a lofty rock, about two miles from the city of Eisenach, in which Luther was confined, under the friendly arrest of the Elector of Saxony, after Charles V. had pronounced against him the Ban in the Imperial Diet; where he composed some of his greatest works, and translated the New Testament; and where he is recorded as engaged in the personal conflict with the Prince of Darkness, of which the vestiges are still shown in a black stain on the wall, from the inkstand hurled at the Enemy. In the Essay referred to, Coleridge accounts for the story— depicting the state of the great prisoner's mind in most vivid colours—and then presenting the following picture, which so nobly justifies Lamb's eulogy, that I venture to gratify myself by inserting it here.
'* Methinks I see him sitting, the heroic student, in his chamber in the Warteburg, with his midnight lamp before him, seen by the late traveller in the distant plain of Jiischofsroda, as a star on the mountain! Below it lies the Hebrew Bible open, on which he gazes; his brow pressing on his palm, brooding over some obscure text, which he desires to make plain to the simple boor and to the humble urtizan, and to transfer its whole force into their own natural and living tongue. And he himself docs not understand it! Thick darkness lies on the original text; he counts the letters, he calls up the roots of each separate word, and questions them as the familiar Spirits of an Oracle. In vain; thick darkness continues to cover it; not a ray of meaning dawns through it. With sullen and angry hope he reaches for the Vulgate, his old and sworn enemy, the treacherous confederate of the Roman Antichrist, which he so gladly, when he can, rehukes for idolatrous falsehood, that had dared place
"I am so tired with my journey, being up all night, I have neither things nor words in my power. I believe I expressed my admiration of the pamphlet. * Its power over me was like that which Milton's pamphlets must have had on his contemporaries, who were tuned to them. What a piece of prose! Do you hear if it is read at all 1 I am out of the world of readers. I hate all that do read, for they read nothing but reviews and new books. I gather myself up unto the old things.
"I have put up shelves. You never saw a book-case in more true harmony with the contents, than what I've nailed up in a room, which, though new, has more aptitudes for growing old than you shall often see—as one sometimes gets a friend in the middle of life, who becomes an old friend in a short
time. My rooms are luxurious; one is for prints and one for books ; a summer and a winter-parlour. When shall I ever see you in them 1 C. L."
MISS LAMB TO MRS. HAZLITT.
"November 7th, 1809.
"My dear Sarah,—The dear, quiet, lazy, delicious month we spent with you is remembered by me with such regret that I feel quite discontented and Winterslow-sick. I assure you I never passed such a pleasant time in the country in my life, both in the house and out of it — the card-playing quarrels, and a few gaspings for breath, after your swift footsteps up the high hills, excepted ; and those draw-backs are not unpleasant in the recollection. We have got some salt butter, to make our toast seem like yours, and we have tried to eat meat suppers, but that would not do, for we left our appetites behind us, and the dry loaf, which offended you, now comes in at night unaccompanied; but, sorry am I to add, it is soon followed by the pipe. We smoked the very first night of our arrival.
"Great news! I have just been interrupted by Mr. Daw, who came to tell me he was yesterday elected a Royal Academician. He said none of his own friends voted for him, he got it by strangers, who were pleased with his picture of Mrs. White.
* Within the sanctuary itself their shrines, Abominations—'
Now—O thought of humiliation—he must entreat its aid. Sec! there has the sly spirit of apostacy worked-in a phrase, which favours the doctrine of purgatory, the intercession of saints, or the efficacy of prayers for the dead; and what is worst of all, the interpretation is plausible. The original Hebrew might be forced into this meaning: and no other meaning seems to lie in it, none to hover above it in the heights of allegory, none to lurk beneath it even in the depths of Cabala! This is the work of the Tempter; it is a cloud of darkness conjured up between the truth of the sacred letters and the eyes of his understanding, by the malice of the evil-one, and for a trial of his faith! Must he then at length confess, must he subscribe the name of Lutheh to an exposition which consecrates a weapon for the hand of the idolatrous Hierarchy! Never! Never!
"There still remains one auxiliary in reserve, the translation of the Seventy. The Alexandrine Greeks, anterior to the Church itself, could intend no support to its corruptions—The Septuagint will have profaned the Altar of Truth with no incense for the nostrils of the universal Bishop to snuff up. And here again his hopes are barned I Exactly at this perplexed passage had the Greek translator given his understanding a holiday, and made his pen supply its place. O honoured Luther! as easily mightcst thou convert the whole City of Rome,
with the Pope and the conclave of Cardinals inclusively, as strike a spark of light from the words, and nothing but worth, of the Alexandrine version. Disappointed, despondent, enraged, ceasing to think, yet continuing his brain on the stretch in solicitation of a thought; and gradually giving himself up to angry fancies, to recollections of past persecutions, to uneasy fears, and inward defiances, and floating images of the Evil Being, their supposed personal author; he sinks, without perceiving it, into a trance of slumber; during which his brain retains its waking energies, excepting that what would have been mere thought! before, now, (the action and counterweight of his senses and of their impressions being withdrawn) shape and condense themselves into things, into realities! Repeatedly half-wakening, and his eye-lids as often reclosing, the objects which really surround him form the place and scenery of hU dream. All at once he sees the arch-fiend coming forth on the wall of the room, from the very spot, perhaps, on which his eyes had been fixed, vacantly, during the perplexed moments of his former meditation: the inkstand which he had at the same time been using, becomes associated with it; and in that struggle of rage, which in these distempered dreams almost constantly precedes the helpless terror by the pain of which we are finally awakened, he imagines that he hurls it at the intruder, or not improbably in the first instant of awakening, while yet both his imagination and his eyes are possessed by the dream, he actually hurls it. Some weeks after, perhaps, during which interval he had often mused on the incident, undetermined whether to deem it a visitation of Satan to him in the body or out of the body, he discovers for the first time the dark spot on his wall, and receives it as a sign and pledge vouchsafed to him of the event baving actually taken place."
"Charles says he does not believe Northcote ever voted for the admission of any one. Though a very cold day, Daw was in a prodigious perspiration, for joy at his good fortune.
"More great news! My beautiful green curtains were put up yesterday, and all the doors listed with green baize, and four new boards put to the coal-hole, and fastening hasps put to the windows, and my dyed Manning-silk cut out.
"We had a good cheerful meeting on Wednesday, much talk of Winterslow, its woods and its sun-flowers. I did not so much
like P at Winterslow as I now like him
for having been with us at Winterslow. We roasted the last of his 'Beech of oily nut prolific' on Friday at the Captain's. Nurse is now established in Paradise, alias the incurable ward of Westminster Hospital. I have seen her sitting in most superb state, surrounded by her seven incurable companions. They call each other ladies; nurse looks as if she would be considered as the first lady in the ward; only one seemed at all likely to rival her in dignity.
"A man in the India House has resigned, by which Charles will get twenty pounds a year, and White has prevailed on him to write some more lottery puffs ; if that ends in smoke the twenty pounds is a sure card, and has made us very joyful.
"I continue very well, and return you very sincere thanks for my good health and improved looks, which have almost made
Mrs. die with envy. She longs to come
to Winterslow as much as the spiteful elder sister did to go to the well for a gift to spit diamonds.
"Jane and I have agreed to boil a round of beef for your suppers when you come to town again. She (Jane) broke two of the Hogarth glasses, while we were away, whereat I made a great noise. Farewell. Love to William, and Charles's love and good wishes for the speedy arrival of the 'Life of Holcroft,' and the bearer thereof.
"Yours, most affectionately,
"Tnaday. M. LAMB.
"Charles told Mrs. , Hazlitt had found
a well in his garden, which, water being scarce in your county, would bring him in two hundred a year; and she came, in great haste, the next morning, to ask me if it were true.
"Your brother and sister are quite well."
The country excursions, with which Lamb sometimes occupied his weeks of vacation, were taken with fear and trembling—often j foregone—and' finally given up, in consequence of the sad effects which the excitements of travel and change produced in his beloved companion. The following refers to one of these disasters :—
TO MR. HAZLITT.
"August 9th, 1810.
"Dear H.,—Epistemon is not well. Our pleasant excursion has ended sadly for one of us. You will guess I mean my sister. She got home very well (I was very ill on the journey) and continued so till Monday night, when her complaint came on, and she is now absent from home.
"I am glad to hear you are all well. I think I shall be mad if I take any more journeys with two experiences against it. I find all well here. Kind remembrances to Sarah,—have just got her letter.
"H. Robinson has been to Blenheim, he says you will be sorry to hear that we should not have asked for the Titian Gallery there. Oue of his friends knew of it, and asked to see it. It is never shown but to those who inquire for it.
"The pictures are all Titians, Jupiter and Ledas, Mars and Venuses, &c., all naked pictures, which may be a reason they don't show it to females. But he says they are very fine; and perhaps it is shown separately to put another fee into the shower's pocket. Well, I shall never see it.
"I have lost all wish for sights. God bless you. I shall be glad to see you in London. "Yours truly, C. Lamb."
Mr. Wordsworth's Essay on Epitaphs, afterwards appended to "The Excursion," produced the following letter:—
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
"Dear W.,—Mary has been very ill, which you have heard, I suppose, from the Montagues. She is very weak aud low spirited now. I was much pleased with your continuation of the Essay on Epitaphs. It is the only sensible thing which has been written on that subject, and it goes to the bottom. In particular I was pleased with your translation of that turgid epitaph into the plain feeling under it. It is perfectly a test . But what is the reason we have no good epitaphs after all 1
"A very striking instance of your position might be found in the churchyard of Dittonupon-Thames, if you know such a place. Ditton-upon-Thames has been blessed by the residence of a poet, who, for love or money, I do not well know which, has dignified every grave-stone, for the last few years, with bran-new verses, all different, and all ingenious, with the author's name at the bottom of each. This sweet Swan of Thames has artfully diversified his strains and his rhymes, that the same thought never occurs twice; more justly, perhaps, as no thought ever occurs at all, there was a physical impossibility that the same thought should recur. It is long since I saw and read these inscriptions, but I remember the impression was of a smug usher at his desk in the intervals of instruction, levelling his pen. Of death, as it consists of dust and worms, and mourners and uncertainty, he had never thought; but the word ' death' he had often seen separate and conjunct with other words, till he had learned to speak of all its attributes as glibly as Unitarian Belsham will discuss you the attributes of the word 'God' in a pulpit; and will talk of infinity with a tongue that dangles from a skull that never reached in thought and thorough imagination two inches, or further than from his hand to his mouth, or from the vestry to the soundingboard of the pulpit.
"But the epitaphs were trim, and sprag, and patent, and pleased the survivors of Thames Ditton above the old mumpsimus of 'Afflictions Sore.'.... To do justice though, it must be owned that even the excellent feeling which dictated this dirge when new, must have suffered something in passing
through so many thousand applications, many of them no doubt quite misplaced, as I have seen in Islington churchyard (I think) an Epitaph to an infant, who died 'jEtatis four months,' with this seasonable inscription appended, 'Honour thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long in the land,' &c. Sincerely wishing your children long life to honour, &c.
"I remain, C. Lamb."
LETTERS TO WORDSWORTH, ETC., CHIEFLY RESPECTING WOIH)SWORTH*8 I'OEMS.
[1815 to 1818.]
The admirers of Wordsworth—few, but energetic and hopeful—were delighted, and his opponents excited to the expression of their utmost spleen, by the appearance, in 1814, of "The Excursion," (in the quarto form marked by the bitter flippancy of Lord Byron); and by the publication, in 1815, of two volumes of Poems, some of which only were new. The following letters are chiefly expressive of Lamb's feelings respecting these remarkable works, and the treatment which his own Review of the latter received from Mr. Gifford, then the Editor of the Quarterly Review, for which it was written. The following letter is in acknowledgment of an early copy of "The Excursion."
TO MR. WORDSWORTH.
"1814. "Dear Wordsworth,—I cannot tell you how pleased I was at the receipt of the great armful of poetry which you have sent me; and to get it before the rest of the world too! I have gone quite through with it, and was thinking to have accomplished that pleasure a second time before I wrote to thank you, but M. B. came in the night (while we were out) and made holy theft of it, but we expect restitution in a day or two. It is the noblest conversational poem I ever read—a day in Heaven. The part (or rather main body) which has left the sweetest odour on my memory (a bad term for the remains of an impression so recent) is the Tales of the Church-yard ;—the only girl among seven