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exquisite manner in which you combined political with grammatical science, in your yesterday's dissertation on Mr. Wyndham's unhappy composition. It must have been the death-blow to that ministry. I expect Pitt and Grenville to resign. More especially the delicate and Cottrellian grace with which you officiated, with a ferula for a white wand, as gentleman usher to the word 'also,' which it seems did not know its place.
"I expect Manning of Cambridge in town to-night—will you fulfil your promise of meeting him at my house 1 He is a man of a thousand. Give me a line to say what day, whether Saturday, Sunday, Monday, &c., and if Sarah and the Philosopher can come. I am afraid if I did not at intervals call upon you, I should never see you. But I forget, the affairs of the nation engross your time and your mind. . "Farewell, "C.L."
Coleridge afterwards spent some weeks with Lamb, as appears from the following letter :—
TO MR. MANNING.
"March 17th, 1800. "Dear Manning,—I am living in a continuous feast. Coleridge has been with me now for nigh three weeks, and the more I see of him in the quotidian undress and relaxation of his mind, the more cause I see to love him, and believe him a very good man, and all those foolish impressions to the contrary fly off like morning slumbers. He is engaged in translations, which 1 hope will keep him this month to come. He is uncommonly kind and friendly to me. He ferrets me day and night to do something. He tends me, amidst all his own worrying and heartoppressing occupations, as a gardener tends his young tulip. Marry come up; what a pretty similitude, and how like your humble servant! He has lugged me to the brink of engaging to a newspaper, and has suggested to me for a first plan, the forgery of a supposed manuscript of Burton the anatomist of melancholy. I have even written the introductory letter; and, if I can pick up a few guineas this way, I feel they will be most refreshing, bread being so dear. If I go on with it, I will apprise you of it, as you may like to see my things! and the tulip of all flowers, loves to be admired most.
"Pray pardon me, if my letters do not come very thick. I am so taken up with one thing or other, that I cannot pick out (I will not say time, but) fitting times to write to you. My dear love to Lloyd and Sophia, and pray split this thin letter into three parts, and present them with the two biggest in my name.
"They are my oldest friends; but, ever the new friend driveth out the old, as the ballad sings! God bless you all three! I would hear from LI. if I could.
"Flour has just fallen nine shillings a sack! we shall be all too rich.
"Tell Charles I have seen his mamma, and have almost fallen in love with her, since I mayn't with Olivia. She is so fine and graceful, a complete matron-lady-quaker. She has given me two little books. Olivia grows a charming girl—full of feeling, and thinner than she was; but I have not time to fall in love.
"Mary presents her general compliments. She keeps in fine health!"
Coleridge, during this visit, recommended Lamb to Mr. Daniel Stuart, then editor of the "Morning Post," as a writer of light articles, by which he might add something to an income, then barely sufficient for the decent support of himself and his sister. It would seem from his next letter to Manning, that he had made an offer to try his hand at some personal squibs, which, ultimately, was not accepted. Manning need not have feared that there would have been a particle of malice in them! Lamb afterwards became a correspondent to the paper, and has recorded his experience of the misery of toiling after pleasantries in one of the "Essays of Elia," entitled " Newspapers thirty-five years ago."
TO MK. MANNING.
"C. L.'s moral sense presents her compliments to Doctor Manning, is very thankful for his medical advice, but is happy to add that her disorder has died of itself.
"Dr. Manning, Coleridge has left us, to go into the north, on a visit to his God, Wordsworth. With him have flown all my splendid prospects of engagement with the ' Morning Post,' all my visionary guineas, the deceitful wages of unborn scandal. In truth, I wonder you took it up so seriously. All my intention was but to make a little sport with such public and fair game as Mr. Pitt, Mr. Wilberforce, Mrs. Fitzherbert, the Devil, &c.— gentry dipped in Styx all over, whom no paper javelin-lings can touch. To have made free with these cattle, where was the harm? 'twould have been but giving a polish to lamp-black, not nigrifying a negro primarily. After all, I cannot but regret my involuntary virtue. Hang virtue that's thrust upon us; it behaves itself with such constraint, till conscience opens the window and lets out the goose. I had struck off two imitations of Burton, quite abstracted from any modern allusions, which was my intent only to lug in from time to time to make 'em popular.
"Stuart has got these, with an introductory letter ; but, not hearing from him, I have ceased from my labours, but I write to him to-day to get a final answer. I am afraid they won't do for a paper. Burton is a scarce gentleman, not much known, else I had done 'em pretty well.
"I have also hit off a few lines in the name of Burton, being a 'Conceit of Diabolic Possession.' Burton was a man often assailed by deepest melancholy, and at other times much given to laughing, and jesting, as is the way with melancholy men. I will send them you: they were almost extempore, and no great things; but you will indulge them. Robert Lloyd is come to town. Priscilla meditates going to see Pizarro at Drury Lane to-night, (from her uncle's) under cover of coming to dine with me .. heu! tempora! heu! mores !—I have barely time to finish, as I expect her and Robin every minute.— Yours as usual, "C. L."
The following is an extract from a letter addressed about this time to Manning, who had taken a view of a personal matter relating to a common friend of both, directly contrary to that of Lamb.
TO MR. MANNING.
"Dear Manning,—Rest you merry in your opinion! Opinion is a species of property; and though I am always desirous to share
property, properly my own. Some day, Manning, when we meet, substituting Corydon and fair Amaryllis, for and ,
we will discuss together this question of moral feeling,' In what cases, and how far sincerity is a virtue?' I do not mean Truth, a good Olivia-like creature, God bless her, who, meaning no offence, is always ready to give an answer when she is asked why she did so and so; but a certain forward-talking half-brother of hers, Sincerity, that amphibious gentleman, who is so ready to perk up his obnoxious sentiments unasked into your notice, as Midas would his ears into your face uncalled for. But I despair of doing anything by a letter in the way of explaining or coming to explanations. A good wish, or a pun, or a piece of secret history, may be well enough that way conveyed ; nay, it has been known, that intelligence of a turkey hath been conveyed by that medium, without much ambiguity. Godwin I am a good deal pleased with. He is a very well-behaved, decent man, nothing very brilliant about him, or imposing, as you may suppose; quite another guess sort of gentleman from what your Anti-jacobin Christians imagine him. I was well pleased to find he has neither horns nor claws; quite a tame creature, I assure you. A middle-sized man, both in stature and in understanding; whereas, from his noisy fame, you would expect to find a Briareus Centimanus, or a Tityus tall enough to pull Jupiter from his heavens.
"Pray, is it a part of your sincerity to show my letters to Lloyd? for, really, gentlemen ought to explain their virtues upon a first acquaintance, to prevent mistakes.
"God bless you, Manning. Take my trifling as trifling ; and believe me, seriously and deeply,—Your well-wisher and friend,
The following letter was addressed to Coleridge shortly after he had left London on a visit to Wordsworth, who in the meantime had settled on the borders of Grasmere.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
"Aug. 6th, 1800.
"Dear Coleridge,—I have taken to-day,
with my friend to a certain extent, I shall and delivered to L. & Co., Imprimis: yeur ever like to keep some tenets, and some books, viz., three ponderous German diction
aries, one volume (I can find no more) of German and French ditto, aundry other German books unbound, as you left them, 'Percy's Ancient Poetry,' and one volume of i 'Anderson's Poets.' I specify them, that you may not lose any. Secundo: a dressinggown (value, fivepence) in which you used to sit and look like a conjuror, when you were translating Wallenstein. A case of two razors, and a shaving-box and strap. This it has cost me a severe struggle to part with. They are in a brown-paper parcel, which also contains sundry papers and poems, sermons, some few Epic Poems,—one about Cain and Abel, which came from Poole, ozc., &c., and also your tragedy; with one or two small German books, and that drama in which Got-fader performs. Tertio: a small oblong box containing all your letters, collected from all your waste papers, and which fill the said little box. All other waste papers, which I judged worth sending, are in the paper parcel aforesaid. But you will find all your letters in the box by themselves. Thus have I discharged my conscience and my lumber-room of all your property, save and except a folio entitled 'Tyrrell's Bibliotheca Politica,' which you used to learn your politics out of when you wrote for the ' Post,' mutatis mutandis, i. e., applying past inferences to modern data. I retain that, because I am sensible I am very deficient in the politics myself; and I have torn up— don't be angry, waste paper has risen forty per cent., and I can't afford to buy it—all 'Buonaparte's Letters,' 'Arthur Young's Treatise on Corn,' and one or two more lightarmed infantry, which I thought better suited the flippancy of London discussion, than the dignity of Keswick thinking. Mary says you will be in a passion about them, when you come to miss them ; but you must study philosophy. Read 'Albertus Magnus de Chartis Amissis' five times over after phlebotomising,—'tis Burton's recipe—and then be angry with an absent friend if you can. Sara is obscure. Am I to understand by her letter, that she sends a kiss to Eliza
B ?Pray tell your wife that a note of
interrogation on the superscription of a letter is highly ungrammatical—she proposes writing my name Lamb? Lambe is quite enough. I have had the Anthology, and like only one thing in it, Lewti ; but of that
the last stanza is detestable, the rest most exquisite !—the epithet enviable would dash the finest poem. For God's sake (I never was more serious), don't make me ridiculous any more by terming me gentle-hearted in print, or do it in better verses. It did well enough five years ago when I came to see you, and was moral coxcomb enough at the time you wrote the lines, to feed upon such epithets; but, besides that, the meaning of gentle is equivocal at best, and almost always means poor-spirited; the very quality of gentleness is abhorrent to such vile trumpetings. My sentiment is long since vanished. I hope my virtues have done sucking. I can scarce think but you meant it in joke. I hope you did, for I should be ashamed to think you could think to gratify me by such praise, fit only to be a cordial to some green-sick sonneteer.*
"I have hit off the following in imitation of old English poetry, which, I imagine, I am a dab at. The measure is unmeasureable; but it most resembles that beautiful ballad the Old and Young Courtier; and in its feature of taking the extremes of two situations for just parallel, it resembles the old poetry certainly. If I could but stretch out the circumstances to twelve more verses, i. e. if I had as much genius as the writer of that old song, I think it would be excellent. It was to follow an imitation of Burton in prose, which you have not seen. But fate 'and wisest Stewart' say No.+
"I can send you 200 pens and six quires of paper immediately, if they will answer the carriage by coach. It would be foolish to pack 'em up cum multis libris et cceteris,— they would all spoil. I only wait your commands to coach them. I would pay fiveand-forty thousand carriages to read W.'s tragedy, of which I have heard so much and seen so little—only what I saw at Stowey. Pray give me an order in writing on Longman for ' Lyrical Ballads.' I have the first volume, and, truth to tell, six shillings is a broad shot. I cram all I can in, to save a multiplying of letters,—those pretty comets with swinging tails.
• This refers to a poem of Coleridge's, composed in 1797, and published in the Anthology of the year 1800, under the title of "This Lime-tree Bower my Prison," addressed to "Charles Lamb, of the India House, London," in which Lamb is thus apostrophised, as taking more pleasure in the country than Coleridge's other visitors — a compliment which even then he scarcely merited :—
"But thou, methinks most glad,
My gentle-hearted Charles I For thou hast pined
t The quaint and pathetic poem, entitled " A Ballad, noticing tho difference of rich and poor, in the ways of a rich noble's palace and a poor workhouse."
"I 'll just crowd in God bless you!
"John Woodvil" was now printed, although not published till a year afterwards ; probably withheld in the hope of its representation on the stage. A copy was sent to Coleridge for Wordsworth, with the following letter or cluster of letters, written at several times. The ladies referred to, in the exquisite description of Coleridge's bluestocking friends, are beyond the reach of feeling its application; nor will it be detected by the most apprehensive of their surviving friends.
TO MR. COLERIDGE.
"I send you, in this parcel, my play, which I beg you to present in my name, with my respect and love, to Wordsworth and his sister. You blame us for giving your direction to Miss W ;the woman has been
ten times after us about it, and we gave it her at last, under the idea that no further harm would ensue, but she would once write to you, and you would bite your lips and forget to answer it, and so it would end. You read us a dismal homily upon ' Realities.' We know, quite as well as you do, what are shadows and what are realities. You, for instance, when you are over your fourth or fifth jorum, chirping about old school occurrences, are the best of realities. Shadows are cold, thin things, that have no
warmth or grasp in them. Miss W , and
her friend, and a tribe of authoresses that come after you here daily, and, in defect of you, hive and cluster upon us, are the shadows.
You encouraged that mopsey, Miss W ,
to dance after you, in the hope of having her nonsense put into a nonsensical Anthology. We have pretty well shaken her off, by that simple expedient of referring her to you; but there are more burrs in the wind. I came home t'other day from business, hungry as a hunter, to dinner, with nothing, I am
sure, of the author hut hunger about me, and whom found I .closeted with Mary but a
friend of this Miss W , one Miss B c,
or B y; I don't know how she spells her
name. I just came in time enough, I believe, luckily to prevent them from exchanging vows of eternal friendship. It seems she is one of your authoresses, that you first foster, and then upbraid us with. But I forgive you. 'The rogue has given me potions to make me love him.' Well; go she would not, nor step a step over our threshold, till we had promised to come and drink tea with her next night. I had never seen her before, and could not tell who the devil it was that was so familiar. We went, however, not to be impolite. Her lodgings are up two pair
of stairs in Street. Tea and coffee, and
macaroons—a kind of cake I much love.
We sat down. Presently Miss B broke
the silence, by declaring herself quite of a different opinion from D'Israeli, who supposes the differences of human intellect to be the mere effect of organisation. She begged to know my opinion. I attempted to carry it off with a pun upon organ, but that went off very flat. She immediately conceived a very low opinion of my metaphysics; and, turning round to Mary, put some question to her in French,—possibly having heard that neither Mary nor I understood French. The explanation that took place occasioned some embarrassment and much wondering. She then fell into an insulting conversation about the comparative genius and merits of all modern languages, and concluded with asserting that the Saxon was esteemed the purest dialect in Germany. From thence she passed into the subject of poetry; where I, who had hitherto sat mute, and a hearer only, humbly hoped I might now put in a word to some advantage, seeing that it was my own trade in a manner. But I was stopped by a round assertion, that no good poetry had appeared since Dr. Johnson's time. It seems the Doctor has suppressed many hopeful geniuses that way, by the severity of his critical strictures in his 'Lives of the Poets.' I here ventured to question the fact, and was beginning to appeal to names, but I was assured 'it was certainly the case.' Then we discussed Miss More's book on education, which I had never read. It seems Dr. Gregory, another of Miss B 's friends, has found fault with one of
Miss More's metaphors. Miss More has been at some pains to vindicate herself,—in the
opinion of Miss B , not without success.
It seems the Doctor is invariably against the use of broken or mixed metaphor, which he reprobates, aguinst the authority of Shakspeare himself. We next discussed the question, whether Pope was a poet 1 I find Dr. Gregory is of opinion he was not, though Miss Seward does not at all concur with him in this. 'We then sat upon the comparative merits of the ten translations of 'Pizarro,'
and Miss B y or B c advised Mary
to take two of them home; she thought it might afford her some pleasure to compare them verbatim; which we declined. It being now nine o'clock, wine and macaroons were again served round, and we parted, with a promise to go again next week, and meet the Miss Porters, who, it seems, have heard much of Mr. Coleridge, and wish to meet ut, because we are hu friends. I have been preparing for the occasion. I crowd cotton in my ears. I read all the reviews and magazines of the past month, against the dreadful meeting, and I hope by these means to cut a tolerable second-rate figure.
"Pray let us have no more complaints about shadows. We are in a fair way, through you, to surfeit sick upon them.
"Our loves and respects to your host and hostess.
"Take no thought about your proof-sheets; they shall be done as if Woodfall himself did them. Pray send us word of Mrs. Coleridge and little David Hartley, your little reality.
"Farewell, dear Substance. Take no umbrage at any thing I have written.
"C. Lamb, Umbra."
"Land of Shadows, Shadow-month the 16th or 1/th, 1800."
"Coleridge, I find loose among your papers a copy of Christabel. It wants about thirty lines ; yon will very much oblige me by sending me the beginning as far as that line,—
'And the spring comes slowly up this way ;'
and the intermediate lines between—
• The lady leaps up suddenly,
and the lines,—
1 She folded her arms beneath her cloak,
The trouble to you will be small, and the benefit to us very great! A pretty antithesis! A figure in speech I much applaud.
"Godwin has called upon us. He spent one evening here. Was very friendly. Kept us up till midnight. Drank punch, and talked about you. He seems, above all men, mortified at your going away. Suppose you were to write to that good-natured heathen:
'Or is he a shadow!'
"If I do not write, impute it to the long postage, of which you have so much cause to complain. I have scribbled over a queer letter, as 1 find by perusal, but it means no mischief.
"I am, and will be, yours ever, in sober
"Write your German as plain as sunshine, for that must correct itself. You know I am homo unius linguse; in English, illiterate, a dunce, a ninny."
TO MR. COLEKIDGE.
"Aug. 26th, 1800.
"How do you like this little epigram? It is not my writing nor had I any finger in it. If you concur with me in thinking it very elegant and very original, I shall be tempted to name the author to you. I will just hint that it is almost or quite a first attempt.
[Here Miss Lamb's little poem of Helen was introduced.]
"By-the-by, I have a sort of recollection that somebody, I think you, promised me a sight of Wordsworth's Tragedy. I should be very glad of it just now ; for I have got Manning with me, and should like to read it with him. But this, I confess, is a refinement. Under any circumstances, alone, in Cold-Bath prison, or in the desert island, just when Prospero and his crew had set off, with Caliban in a cage, to Milan, it would be a treat to me to read that play. Manning has read it, so has Lloyd, and all Lloyd's family; but I could not get him to betray his trust