Fox_Stevenson_-_Endless,The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5 by Edited by E. V. Lucas
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declaring, that a mob of happy faces crowding up at the pit door ofDrury-Lane Theatre just at the hour of five, give me ten thousand finerpleasures, than I ever received from all the flocks of _silly sheep_,that have whitened the plains of _Arcadia_ or _Epsom Downs_.
This passion for crowds is no where feasted so full as in London. Theman must have a rare _recipe_ for melancholy, who can be dull inFleet-street. I am naturally inclined to _hypochondria_, but in Londonit vanishes, like all other ills. Often when I have felt a weariness ordistaste at home, have I rushed out into her crowded Strand, and fed myhumour, till tears have wetted my cheek for inutterable sympathies withthe multitudinous moving picture, which she never fails to present atall hours, like the shifting scenes of a skilful Pantomime.
The very deformities of London, which give distaste to others, fromhabit do not displease me. The endless succession of shops, where Fancy(miscalled Folly) is supplied with perpetual new gauds and toys, excitein me no puritanical aversion. I gladly behold every appetite suppliedwith its proper food. The obliging customer, and the obliged tradesmen--things which live by bowing, and things which exist but for homage, donot affect me with disgust; from habit I perceive nothing but urbanity,where other men, more refined, discover meanness. I love the very smokeof London, because it has been the medium most familiar to my vision. Isee grand principles of honour at work in the dirty ring whichencompasses two combatants with fists, and principles of no less eternaljustice in the tumultuous detectors of a pickpocket. The salutaryastonishment with which an execution is surveyed, convinces me moreforcibly than an hundred volumes of abstract polity, that the universalinstinct of man, in all ages, has leaned to order and good government.Thus an art of extracting morality, from the commonest incidents of atown life, is attained by the same well-natured alchemy, with which the_Foresters of Arden_ in a beautiful country
Found tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,Sermons in stones, and good in every thing--
Where has spleen her food but in London--humour, interest, curiosity,suck at her measureless breasts without a possibility of being satiated.Nursed amid her noise, her crowds, her beloved smoke--what have I beendoing all my life, if I have not lent out my heart with usury to suchscenes?
Reader, in the course of my peregrinations about the great city, it ishard, if I have not picked up matter, which may serve to amuse thee, asit has done me, a winter evening long. When next we meet, I purposeopening my budget--Till when, farewell.
"What is all this about?" said Mrs. Shandy. "A story of a cock and abull," said Yorick: and so it is; but Manning will take good-naturedlywhat _God will send him_ across the water: only I hope he won't _shut_his _eyes_, and _open_ his _mouth_, as the children say, for that is theway to _gape_, and not to _read_. Manning, continue your laudablepurpose of making me your register. I will render back all your remarks;and _I, not you_, shall have received usury by having read them. In themean time, may the great Spirit have you in his keeping, and preserveour Englishmen from the inoculation of frivolity and sin upon Frenchearth.
_Allons_--or what is it you say, instead of _good-bye_?
Mary sends her kind remembrance, and covets the remarks equally with me.
[The reference to the "word-banker" and "register" is explained byManning's first letter to Lamb from Paris, in which he says: "I ... begyou to keep all my letters. I hope to send you many--and I may in thecourse of time, make some observations that I shall wish to recall to mymemory when I return to England."
"Are you and the First Consul _thick_?"--Napoleon, with whom Manning wasdestined one day to be on terms. In 1803, on the declaration of war,when he wished to return to England, Manning's was the only passportthat Napoleon signed; again, in 1817, on returning from China, Manningwas wrecked near St. Helena, and, waiting on the island for a ship,conversed there with the great exile.
"Rumfordising." A word coined by Lamb from Sir Benjamin Thompson, Countvon Rumford, the founder of the Royal Institution, the deviser of theRumford stove, and a tireless scientific and philosophicalexperimentalist.
"Smellfungus." An allusion to Sterne's attack on Smollett, in _TheSentimental Journey_: "The lamented Smelfungus travelled from Boulogneto Paris, from Paris to Rome, and so on; but he set out with the spleenand jaundice, and every object he passed by was discoloured ordistorted."
"The _Post_." Lamb had been writing criticisms of plays; but Stuart, aswe have seen, wanted them on the same night as the performance and Lambfound this impossible.
"I have done but one thing"--"The Londoner," referred to later.
"The Professor's Rib"--Godwin's second wife, the widow Clairmont (motherof Jane Clairmont), whom he had married in December, 1801.
"Fell"--R. Fell, author of a _Tour through the Batavian Republic_, 1801.Later he compiled a _Life of Charles James Fox_, 1808. Lamb knew him, aswell as Fenwick, through Godwin.
"_Apropos_, I think you wrong about my play." _John Woodvil_ had justbeen published and Lamb had sent Manning a copy. Manning, in return, hadwritten from Paris early in February: "I showed your Tragedy toHolcroft, who had taste enough to discover that 'tis full of poetry--butthe plot he condemns _in toto_. Tell me how it succeeds. I think youwere ill advised to retrench so much. I miss the beautiful Branches youhave lopped off and regret them. In some of the pages the sprinkling ofwords is so thin as to be quite _outre_. There you were wrong again."
"The Londoner" was published in the _Morning Post_, February 1, 1802. Ihave quoted the article from that paper, as Lamb's copy for Manning hasdisappeared. Concerning it Manning wrote, in his next letter--April 6,1802--"I like your 'Londoner' very much, there is a deal of happy fancyin it, but it is not strong enough to be seen by the generality ofreaders, yet if you were to write a volume of essays in the same stileyou might be sure of its succeeding."]
CHARLES LAMB TO JOHN RICKMAN
16, Mitre Court Buildings, Inner Temple,April 10, 1802.
Dear Rickman,--The enclosed letter explains itself. It will save me thedanger of a corporal interview with the man-eater who, if verysharp-set, may take a fancy to me, if you will give me a short note,declaratory of probabilities. These from him who hopes to see you onceor twice more before he goes hence, to be no more seen: for there is notipple nor tobacco in the grave, whereunto he hasteneth.
How clearly the Goul writes, and like a gentleman!
[A friend of Burnett, named Simonds, is meant. Lamb calls him a "Goul"in another letter, and elsewhere says he eats strange flesh. See note onpage 232.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
[No date. ?End of April, 1802.]
My dear Manning,--Although something of the latest, and after twomonths' waiting, your letter was highly gratifying. Some parts want alittle explication; for example, "the god-like face of the FirstConsul." _What god_ does he most resemble? Mars, Bacchus, or Apollo? orthe god Serapis who, flying (as Egyptian chronicles deliver) from thefury of the dog Anubis (the hieroglyph of an English mastiff), lightedon Monomotapa (or the land of apes), by some thought to be Old France,and there set up a tyranny, &c. Our London prints of him represent himgloomy and sulky, like an angry Jupiter. I hear that he is very small,even less than me, who am "less than the least of the Apostles," atleast than they are painted in the Vatican. I envy you your access tothis great man, much more than your seances and conversaziones, which Ihave a shrewd suspicion must be something dull. What you assertconcerning the actors of Paris, that they exceed our comedians, "bad asours are," is _impossible_. In one sense it may be true, that their finegentlemen, in what is called genteel comedy, may possibly be more briskand _degage_ than Mr. Caulfield or Mr. Whitfield; but have any of themthe power to move _laughter in excess_? or can a Frenchman _laugh_? Canthey batter at your judicious ribs till they _shake_, nothing both to beso shaken? This is John Bull's criterion, and it shall be mine. You areFrenchified. Both your tastes and morals are corrupt and perverted.By-and-by you will come to assert, that Buonaparte is as great a generalas the old Duke of Cumberland, and deny that one Englishman can beatthree Frenchmen. Read "Henry the Fifth" to restore your orthodoxy. Allthings continue at a stay-still in London. I cannot repay your newnovelties with my stale reminiscences. Like the prodigal, I have spentmy patrimony, and feed upon the superannuated chaff and dry husks ofrepentance; yet sometimes I remember with pleasure the hounds andhorses, which I kept in the days of my prodigality. I find nothing new,nor anything that has so much of the gloss and dazzle of novelty, as mayrebound in narrative, and cast a reflective glimmer across the channel.Something I will say about people that you and I know. Fenwick is stillin debt, and the Professor has not done making love to his new spouse. Ithink he never looks into an almanack, or he would have found by thecalendar that the honeymoon was extinct a moon ago. Lloyd has written tome and names you. I think a letter from Maison Magnan (is that a personor a thing?) would gratify him. G. Dyer is in love with an Ideot wholoves a Doctor, who is incapable of loving anything but himself. Apuzzling circle of perverse Providences! A maze as un-get-out-again-ableas the House which Jack built. Southey is Secretary to the Chancellor ofthe Irish Exchequer; L400 a year. Stoddart is turned Doctor of CivilLaw, and dwells in Doctors' Commons. I fear _his_ commons are short, asthey say. Did I send you an epitaph I scribbled upon a poor girl whodied at nineteen, a good girl and a pretty girl, and a clever girl, butstrangely neglected by all her friends and kin?
"Under this cold marble stoneSleep the sad remains of oneWho, when alive, by few or noneWas loved, as loved she might have been,If she prosperous days had seen,Or had thriving been, I ween.Only this cold funeral stoneTells she was beloved by one,Who on the marble graves his moan."
Brief, and pretty, and tender, is it not? I send you this, being theonly piece of poetry I have _done_, since the muses all went with T. M.to Paris. I have neither stuff in my brain, nor paper in my drawer, towrite you a longer letter. Liquor and company and wicked tobaccoa'nights, have quite dispericraniated me, as one may say; but you whospiritualise upon Champagne may continue to write long letters, andstuff 'em with amusement to the end. Too long they cannot be, any morethan a codicil to a will which leaves me sundry parks and manors notspecified in the deed. But don't be _two months_ before you write again.These from merry old England, on the day of her valiant patron St.George.
[This letter is usually dated 1803, but I feel sure it should be 1802.Southey had given up his Irish appointment in that year, and Godwin'shoneymoon began in December, 1801.
"Even less than me." Mr. W. C. Hazlitt gives in _Mary and Charles Lamb_a vivid impression of Lamb's spare figure. A farmer at Widford, Mr.Charles Tween, himself not a big man, told Mr. Hazlitt that when walkingout with Lamb he would place his hands under his arm and lift him overthe stiles as if it were nothing. Napoleon's height was 5 feet 6 or 7inches.
Thomas Caulfield, a brother of the antiquary and print-seller, JamesCaulfield, was a comedian and mimic at Drury Lane; Whitfield was anactor at Drury Lane, who later moved to Covent Garden.
"An epitaph." These lines were written upon a friend of Rickman's, MaryDruitt of Wimborne. They were printed in the _Morning Post_ for February7, 1804, signed C. L. See later.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
Sept. 8th, 1802.
Dear Coleridge,--I thought of not writing till we had performed some ofour commissions; but we have been hindered from setting about them,which yet shall be done to a tittle. We got home very pleasantly onSunday. Mary is a good deal fatigued, and finds the difference of goingto a place, and coming _from_ it. I feel that I shall remember yourmountains to the last day I live. They haunt me perpetually. I am like aman who has been falling in love unknown to himself, which he finds outwhen he leaves the lady. I do not remember any very strong impressionwhile they were present; but, being gone, their mementos are shelved inmy brain. We passed a very pleasant little time with the Clarksons. TheWordsworths are at Montagu's rooms, near neighbours to us. They dinedwith us yesterday, and I was their guide to Bartlemy Fair!
[In the summer of 1802 the Lambs paid a sudden visit to Coleridge atKeswick. Afterwards they went to Grasmere, although the Wordsworths wereaway from home; but they saw Thomas Clarkson, the philanthropist, thenliving at Ullswater (see the next letter). They had reached London againon September 5. Procter records that on being asked how he felt whenamong the lakes and mountains, Lamb replied that in order to bring downhis thoughts from their almost painful elevation to the sober regions oflife, he was obliged to think of the ham and beef shop near St. Martin'sLane. Lamb says that after such a holiday he finds his office work verystrange. "I feel debased; but I shall soon break in my mountain spirit."The last two words were a recollection of his own poem "The Grandame"--
hers was elseA mountain spirit....
This letter, the original of which is I know not where, is here, fordismal copyright reasons, very imperfectly given. Mr. Macdonald printsit apparently in full, although Mrs. Gilchrist in her memoir of MaryLamb supplies another passage, as follows:--"Lloyd has written me a fineletter of friendship all about himself and Sophia and love and cantwhich I have not answered. I have not given up the idea of writing tohim but it will be done very plainly and sincerely, without acrimony."
Lamb also says that Pi-pos (as Coleridge's second child Derwent wascalled) was the only one, except a beggar's brat, that he had everwanted to steal from its parents.
He says also: "I was pleased to recognise your blank-verse poem (thePicture) in the _Morn. Post_ of Monday. It reads very well, and I feelsome dignity in the notion of being able to understand it better thanmost Southern readers."
Coleridge's poem "The Picture; or, The Lover's Resolution," was printedin the _Morning Post_ for September 6. Its scenery was probably pointedout to Lamb by Coleridge at Keswick.
Basil Montagu, the lawyer, an old friend of Wordsworth's. It is his sonEdward who figures in the "Anecdote for Fathers."
Bartholomew Fair, held at Smithfield, continued until 1855, but itsglories had been decreasing for some years.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
24th Sept., 1802, London.
My dear Manning,--Since the date of my last letter, I have been atraveller. A strong desire seized me of visiting remote regions. Myfirst impulse was to go and see Paris. It was a trivial objection to myaspiring mind, that I did not understand a word of the language, since Icertainly intend some time in my life to see Paris, and equallycertainly never intend to learn the language; therefore that could be noobjection. However, I am very glad I did not go, because you had leftParis (I see) before I could have set out. I believe, Stoddart promisingto go with me another year prevented that plan. My next scheme, (for tomy restless, ambitious mind London was become a bed of thorns) was tovisit the far-famed Peak in Derbyshire, where the Devil sits, they say,without breeches. _This_ my purer mind rejected as indelicate. And myfinal resolve was a tour to the Lakes. I set out with Mary to Keswick,without giving Coleridge any notice; for my time being precious did notadmit of it. He received us with all the hospitality in the world, andgave up his time to show us all the wonders of the country. He dwellsupon a small hill by the side of Keswick, in a comfortable house, quiteenveloped on all sides by a net of mountains: great floundering bearsand monsters they seemed, all couchant and asleep. We got in in theevening, travelling in a post-chaise from Penrith, in the midst of agorgeous sunshine, which transmuted all the mountains into colours,purple, &c. &c. We thought we had got into fairyland. But that went off(as it never came again--while we stayed we had no more fine sunsets);and we entered Coleridge's comfortable study just in the dusk, when themountains were all dark with clouds upon their heads. Such an impressionI never received from objects of sight before, nor do I suppose 1 canever again.
Glorious creatures, fine old fellows, Skiddaw, &c. I never shall forgetye, how ye lay about that night, like an intrenchment; gone to bed, asit seemed for the night, but promising that ye were to be seen in themorning. Coleridge had got a blazing fire in his study; which is alarge, antique, ill-shaped room, with an old-fashioned organ, neverplayed upon, big enough for a church, shelves of scattered folios, anAEolian harp, and an old sofa, half-bed, &c. And all looking out upon thelast fading view of Skiddaw and his broad-breasted brethren: what anight! Here we stayed three full weeks, in which time I visitedWordsworth's cottage, where we stayed a day or two with the Clarksons(good people and most hospitable, at whose house we tarried one day andnight), and saw Lloyd. The Wordsworths were gone to Calais. They havesince been in London and past much time with us: he is now gone intoYorkshire to be married to a girl of small fortune, but he is inexpectation of augmenting his own in consequence of the death of LordLonsdale, who kept him out of his own in conformity with a plan my lordhad taken up in early life of making everybody unhappy. So we have seenKeswick, Grasmere, Ambleside, Ulswater (where the Clarksons live), and aplace at the other end of Ulswater--I forget the name--to which wetravelled on a very sultry day, over the middle of Helvellyn. We haveclambered up to the top of Skiddaw, and I have waded up the bed ofLodore. In fine, I have satisfied myself, that there is such a thing asthat which tourists call _romantic_, which I very much suspected before:they make such a spluttering about it, and toss their splendid epithetsaround them, till they give as dim a light as at four o'clock nextmorning the lamps do after an illumination. Mary was excessively tired,when she got about half-way up Skiddaw, but we came to a cold rill (thanwhich nothing can be imagined more cold, running over cold stones), andwith the reinforcement of a draught of cold water she surmounted it mostmanfully. Oh, its fine black head, and the bleak air atop of it, with aprospect of mountains all about, and about, making you giddy; and thenScotland afar off, and the border countries so famous in song andballad! It was a day that will stand out, like a mountain, I am sure, inmy life. But I am returned (I have now been come home near threeweeks--I was a month out), and you cannot conceive the degradation Ifelt at first, from being accustomed to wander free as air amongmountains, and bathe in rivers without being controlled by any one, tocome home and _work_. I felt very _little_. I had been dreaming I was avery great man. But that is going off, and I find I shall conform intime to that state of life to which it has pleased God to call me.Besides, after all, Fleet-Street and the Strand are better places tolive in for good and all than among Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to thosegreat places where I wandered about, participating in their greatness.After all, I could not _live_ in Skiddaw. I could spend a year--two,three years--among them, but I must have a prospect of seeingFleet-Street at the end of that time, or I should mope and pine away, Iknow. Still, Skiddaw is a fine creature. My habits are changing, Ithink: _i.e._ from drunk to sober. Whether I shall be happier or notremains to be proved. I shall certainly be more happy in a morning; butwhether I shall not sacrifice the fat, and the marrow, and the kidneys,_i.e._ the night, the glorious care-drowning night, that heals all ourwrongs, pours wine into our mortifications, changes the scene fromindifferent and flat to bright and brilliant!--O Manning, if I shouldhave formed a diabolical resolution, by the time you come to England, ofnot admitting any spirituous liquors into my house, will you be my gueston such shameworthy terms? Is life, with such limitations, worth trying?The truth is, that my liquors bring a nest of friendly harpies about myhouse, who consume me. This is a pitiful tale to be read at St. Gothard;but it is just now nearest my heart. Fenwick is a ruined man. He ishiding himself from his creditors, and has sent his wife and childreninto the country. Fell, my other drunken companion (that has been: namhic caestus artemque repono), is turned editor of a "Naval Chronicle."Godwin (with a pitiful artificial wife) continues a steady friend,though the same facility does not remain of visiting him often. ThatBitch has detached Marshall from his house, Marshall the man who went tosleep when the "Ancient Mariner" was reading: the old, steady,unalterable friend of the Professor. Holcroft is not yet come to town. Iexpect to see him, and will deliver your message. How I hate _this part_of a letter. Things come crowding in to say, and no room for 'em. Somethings are too little to be told, _i.e._ to have a preference; some aretoo big and circumstantial. Thanks for yours, which was most delicious.Would I had been with you, benighted &c. I fear my head is turned withwandering. I shall never be the same acquiescent being. Farewell; writeagain quickly, for I shall not like to hazard a letter, not knowingwhere the fates have carried you. Farewell, my dear fellow.
[Lamb suggests in Letter 54 that he knew some French. Marshall we met inthe letters to Godwin of December 14,1800, and to Manning, December 16,1800.
"Holcroft"--Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809), a miscellaneous writer, who isbest known by his play "The Road to Ruin." Lamb says of him in his"Letter to Southey" (see Vol. I. of this edition) that he was "one ofthe most candid, most upright, and single-meaning men" that he had evermet.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGEOctober 9, 1802.
CAROLUS AGNUS COLERIDGIO SUO S.
Carissime--Scribis, ut nummos scilicet epistolarios solvam et postremoin Tartara abeam: immo tu potius Tartaricum (ut aiunt) deprehendisti,qui me vernacula mea lingua pro scriba conductitio per tot annos satiseleganter usum ad Latine impure et canino fere ore latrandum per tuasmetepistolas bene compositas et concinnatas percellere studueris. Conabortamen: Attamen vereor, ut AEdes istas nostri Christi, inter quas tantadiligentia magistri improba [?improbi] bonis literulis, quasi perclysterem quendam injectis, infra supraque olim penitus imbutus fui,Barnesii et Marklandii doctissimorum virorum nominibus adhuc gaudentes,barbarismis meis peregrinis et aliunde quaesitis valde dehonestavero[_sic_]. Sed pergere quocunque placet. Adeste igitur, quotquot estis,conjugationum declinationumve turmae, terribilia spectra, et tu imprimisades, Umbra et Imago maxima obsoletas (Diis gratiae) Virgae, qua novissimein mentem recepta, horrescunt subito natales [nates], et parum deest quominus braccas meas ultro usque ad crura demittam, et ipse puerpueriliter ejulem.
Ista tua Carmina Chamouniana satis grandia esse mihi constat; sed hocmihi nonnihil displicet, quod in iis illae montium Grisosonum inter seresponsiones totidem reboant anglice, _God, God_, haud aliter atquetemet audivi tuas monies Cumbrianas resonare docentes, _Tod, Tod_, nempeDoctorem infelicem: vocem certe haud Deum Sonantem. Pro caeteris plaudo.
Itidem comparationes istas tuas satis callidas et lepidas certe novi:sed quid hoc ad verum? cum illi Consulari viro et _mentem irritabilem_istam Julianam: et etiam _astutias frigidulas_ quasdam Augustopropriores, nequaquam congruenter uno afflatu comparationis causainsedisse affirmaveris: necnon nescio quid similitudinis etiam cumTiberio tertio in loco solicite produxetis. Quid tibi equidem cum unovel altero Caesare, cum universi Duodecim ad comparationes tuas se ultrotulerint? Praeterea, vetustati adnutans, comparationes iniquas odi.
Istas Wordsworthianas nuptias (vel potius cujusdam _Edmundii_ tui) teretulisse mirificum gaudeo. Valeas, Maria, fortunata nimium, et antiquaeillae Mariae Virgini (comparatione plusquam Caesareana) forsitancomparanda, quoniam "beata inter mulieres:" et etiam fortasseWordsworthium ipsum tuum maritum Angelo Salutatori aequare fas erit,quoniam e Coelo (ut ille) descendunt et Musae et ipsi Musicolae: atWordsworthium Musarum observantissimum semper novi. Necnon te quoqueaffinitate hac nova, Dorothea, gratulor: et tu certe alterum _donumDei_.
Istum Ludum, quem tu, Coleridgi, Americanum garris, a Ludo (ut Ludisunt) maxime abhorrentem praetereo: nempe quid ad Ludum attinet, totiusillae gentis Columbianae, a nostra gente, eadem stirpe orta, ludisinguli causa voluntatem perperam alienare? Quasso ego materiam ludi: tuBella ingeris.
Denique valeas, et quid de Latinitate mea putes, dicas; facias utopossum illum nostrum volantem vel (ut tu malis) quendam Piscemerrabundum, a me salvum et pulcherrimum esse jubeas. Valeant uxor tuacum Hartleiio nostro. Soror mea salva est et ego: vos et ipsa salverejubet. Ulterius progrediri [? progredi] non liquet: homo sum aeratus.
P.S.--Pene mihi exciderat, apud me esse Librorum a Johanno MiltonoLatine scriptorum volumina duo, quae (Deo volente) cum caeteris tuislibris ocyus citius per Maria [?] ad te missura [_sic_] curabo; sed mein hoc tali genere rerum nullo modo _festinantem_ novisti: habesconfitentem reum. Hoc solum dici [_sic_] restat, praedicta voluminapulchra esse et omnia opera Latina J. M. in se continere. Circadefensionem istam Pro Pop deg.. Ang deg.. acerrimam in praesens ipse praeclarogaudio moror.
Jussa tua Stuartina faciam ut diligenter colam. Iterum iterumque valeas: Et facias memor sis nostri.
[I append a translation from the pen of Mr. Stephen Gwynn:--
CHARLES LAMB TO HIS FRIEND COLERIDGE, GREETING.
DEAR FRIEND--You write that I am to pay my debt, to wit in coin ofcorrespondence, and finally that I am to go to Tartarus: no but it isyou have caught a Tartar (as the saying is), since after all these yearsemploying my own vernacular tongue, and prettily enough for a hiredpenman, you have set about to drive me by means of your well composedand neatly turned epistles to gross and almost doggish barking in theLatin. Still, I will try: And yet I fear that the Hostel of ourChrist,--wherein by the exceeding diligence of a relentless master I wasin days gone by deeply imbued from top to bottom with polite learning,instilled as it were by a clyster--which still glories in the names ofthe erudite Barnes and Markland, will be vilely dishonoured by myoutlandish and adscititious barbarisms. But I am determined to proceed,no matter whither. Be with me therefore all ye troops of conjugationsand declensions, dread spectres, and approach thou chiefest, Shade andPhantom of the disused (thank Heaven) Birch, at whose entry to myimagination a sudden shiver takes my rump, and a trifle then more wouldmake me begin to let down my breeches to my calves, and turning boy,howl boyishly.
That your Ode at Chamounix is a fine thing I am clear; but here is athing offends me somewhat, that in the ode your answers of the Grisonmountains to each other should so often echo in English God, God--in thevery tone that I have heard your own lips teaching your Cumbrianmountains to resound Tod, Tod, meaning the unlucky doctor--a syllableassuredly of no Godlike sound. For the rest, I approve.
Moreover, I certainly recognise that your comparisons are acute andwitty; but what has this to do with truth? since you have given to thegreat Consul at once that irritable mind of Julius, and also a kind ofcold cunning, more proper to Augustus--attributing incongruouscharacteristics in one breath for the sake of your comparison: nay, youhave even in the third instance laboriously drawn out some likeness toTiberius. What had you to do with one Caesar, or a second, when thewhole Twelve offered themselves to your comparison? Moreover, I agreewith antiquity, and think comparisons odious.
Your Wordsworth nuptials (or rather the nuptials of a certain Edmund ofyours) fill me with joy in your report. May you prosper, Mary, fortunatebeyond compare, and perchance comparable to that ancient Virgin Mary (acomparison more than Caesarean) since "blessed art thou among women:"perhaps also it will be no impiety to compare Wordsworth himself yourhusband to the Angel of Salutation, since (like the angel) from heavendescend both Muses and the servants of the Muses: whose devoutest votaryI always know Wordsworth to be. Congratulations to thee, Dorothea, inthis new alliance: you also assuredly are another "gift of God."
As for your Ludus [Lloyd], whom you talk of as an "American," I pass himby as no sportsman (as sport goes): what kind of sport is it, toalienate utterly the good will of the whole Columbian people, our ownkin, sprung of the same stock, for the sake of one Ludd [Lloyd]? I seekthe material for diversion: you heap on War.
Finally, fare you well, and pray tell me what you think of my Latinity.Kindly wish health and beauty from me to our flying possum or (as youprefer to call it) roving Fish. Good health to your wife and my friendHartley. My sister and I are well. She also sends you greeting. I do notsee how to get on farther: I am a man in debt [or possibly in"fetters"].
P.S.--I had almost forgot, I have by me two volumes of the Latinwritings of John Milton, which (D.V.) I will have sent you sooner orlater by Mary: but you know me no way precipitate in this kind: theaccused pleads guilty. This only remains to be said, that the aforesaidvolumes are handsome and contain all the Latin works of J. M. At presentI dwell with much delight on his vigorous defence of the English people.
I will be sure to observe diligently your Stuartial tidings.
Again and again farewell: and pray be mindful of me.
Coleridge's "Hymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni," was printedin the _Morning Post_ for September 11, 1802. The poem contains thispassage:--
God! let the torrents, like a shout of nations,Answer! and let the ice-plains echo, God!God! sing ye meadow-streams with gladsome voice!Ye pine-groves, with your soft and soul-like sounds!And they too have a voice, yon piles of snow,And in their perilous fall shall thunder, God!
Canon Ainger suggests that by Tod, the unlucky doctor, Lamb meant Dr.William Dodd (1729-1777), the compiler of the _Beauties of Shakespeare_and the forger, who was hanged at Tyburn.
"Your comparisons." Coleridge's "Comparison of the Present State ofFrance with that of Rome under Julius and Augustus Caesar" was printed inthe _Morning Post_, September 21, September 25, and October 2, 1802. See_Essays on His Own Times_, 1850, Vol. III., page 478.
Wordsworth's marriage to Mary Hutchinson, on October 4, 1802, had calledforth from Coleridge his ode on "Dejection," printed in the _MorningPost_ for the same day, in which Wordsworth was addressed as Edmund. Inlater editions Coleridge suppressed its personal character.
Ludus is Lloyd. Lamb means by "American" what we should mean bypro-American.
"Stuartial." Referring to Daniel Stuart of the _Morning Post_.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
Oct. 11th, 1802.
Dear Coleridge,--Your offer about the German poems is exceedingly kind;but I do not think it a wise speculation, because the time it would takeyou to put them into prose would be nearly as great as if you versifiedthem. Indeed, I am sure you could do the one nearly as soon as theother; so that, instead of a division of labour, it would be only amultiplication. But I will think of your offer in another light. I daresay I could find many things of a light nature to suit that paper, whichyou would not object to pass upon Stuart as your own, and I should comein for some light profits, and Stuart think the more highly of yourassiduity. "Bishop Hall's Characters" I know nothing about, having neverseen them. But I will reconsider your offer, which is very plausible;for as to the drudgery of going every day to an editor with my scraps,like a pedlar, for him to pick out, and tumble about my ribbons andposies, and to wait in his lobby, &c., no money could make up for thedegradation. You are in too high request with him to have anythingunpleasant of that sort to submit to.
It was quite a slip of my pen, in my Latin letter, when I told you I hadMilton's Latin Works. I ought to have said his Prose Works, in twovolumes, Birch's edition, containing all, both Latin and English, afuller and better edition than Lloyd's of Toland. It is completely atyour service, and you must accept it from me; at the same time, I shallbe much obliged to you for your Latin Milton, which you think you haveat Howitt's; it will leave me nothing to wish for but the "History ofEngland," which I shall soon pick up for a trifle. But you must write meword whether the Miltons are worth paying carriage for. You have aMilton; but it is pleasanter to eat one's own peas out of one's owngarden, than to buy them by the peck at Covent Garden; and a book readsthe better, which is our own, and has been so long known to us, that weknow the topography of its blots and dog's-ears, and can trace the dirtin it to having read it at tea with buttered muffins, or over a pipe,which I think is the maximum. But, Coleridge, you must accept theselittle things, and not think of returning money for them, for I do notset up for a factor or general agent. As for the fantastic debt of 15L.,I'll think you were dreaming, and not trouble myself seriously to attendto you. My bad Latin you properly correct; but _natales_ for _nates_ wasan inadvertency: I knew better. _Progrediri_ or _progredi_ I thoughtindifferent, my authority being Ainsworth. However, as I have got a fitof Latin, you will now and then indulge me with an _epistola_. I pay thepostage of this, and propose doing it by turns. In that case I can nowand then write to you without remorse; not that you would mind themoney, but you have not always ready cash to answer small demands--the_epistolarii nummi_.
Your "Epigram on the Sun and Moon in Germany" is admirable. Take 'em alltogether, they are as good as Harrington's. I will muster up all theconceits I can, and you shall have a packet some day. You and I togethercan answer all demands surely: you, mounted on a terrible charger (likeHomer in the Battle of the Books) at the head of the cavalry: I willlead the light horse. I have just heard from Stoddart. Allen and heintend taking Keswick in their way home. Allen wished particularly tohave it a secret that he is in Scotland, and wrote to me accordinglyvery urgently. As luck was, I had told not above three or four; but Maryhad told Mrs. Green of Christ's Hospital! For the present, farewell:never forgetting love to Pi-pos and his friends.
[Coleridge, who seems to have been asked by Stuart of the _Morning Post_for translations of German verse, had suggested, I presume, that heshould supply Lamb (who knew no German) with literal prose translations,and that Lamb should versify them, as he had in the case of "Thekla'sSong" in Coleridge's translation of the first part of _Wallenstein_nearly three years before. Lamb's suggestion is that he should send toStuart epigrams and paragraphs in Coleridge's name. Whether or not hedid so, I cannot say.
Bishop Hall's _Characters of Vices and Virtues_ was published in 1608.Coleridge may have suggested that Lamb should imitate them for the_Morning Post_. Lamb later came to know Hall's satires, for he quotesfrom them in his review of Barron Field's poems in 1820.
Milton's prose works were edited by Thomas Birch, and by John Toland infolio.
"My bad Latin"--in the letter of October 9, 1802. Ainsworth was RobertAinsworth, compiler of the _Thesaurus Linguae Latinae_, 1736, for manyyears the best Latin dictionary.
"Your Epigram"--Coleridge's Epigram "On the Curious Circumstance that inthe German Language the Sun is feminine and the Moon masculine." Itappeared in the _Morning Post_ on October 11, 1802. Coleridge had beensending epigrams and other verse to the _Post_ for some time. Harringtonwas Sir John Harington (1561-1612), the author of many epigrams.
Stoddart and Allen we have met. I do not know anything of Mrs. Green.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
Oct. 23rd, 1802.
Your kind offer I will not a second time refuse. You shall send me apacket and I will do them into English with great care. Is not there oneabout W'm. Tell, and would not that in the present state of discussionsbe likely to _tell_? The Epigrams I meant are to be found at the end ofHarrington's Translation of Orlando Furioso: if you could get the book,they would some of them answer your purpose to modernize. If you can't,I fancy I can. Baxter's Holy Commonwealth I have luckily met with, andwhen I have sent it, you shall if you please consider yourself indebtedto me 3s. 6d. the cost of it: especially as I purchased it after yoursolemn injunctions. The plain case with regard to my presents (which youseem so to shrink from) is that I have not at all affected the characterof a DONOR, or thought of violating your sacred Law of Give and Take:but I have been _taking_ and partaking the good things of your House(when I know you were not over-abounding) and I now _give_ unto you ofmine; and by the grace of God I happen to be myself a littlesuper-abundant at present. I expect I shall be able to send you my finalparcel in about a week: by that time I shall have gone thro' allMilton's Latin Works. There will come with it the Holy Commonwealth, andthe identical North American Bible which you helped to dogs ear atXt's.--I call'd at Howell's for your little Milton, and also to fetchaway the White Cross Street Library Books, which I have not forgot: butyour books were not in a state to be got at then, and Mrs. H. is to letme know when she packs up. They will be sent by sea; and my littlepraecursor will come to you by the Whitehaven waggon accompanied withpens, penknife &c.--Mrs. Howell was as usual very civil; and asked withgreat earnestness, if it were likely you would come to Town in thewinter. She has a friendly eye upon you.
I read daily your political essays. I was particularly pleased with"Once a Jacobin:" though the argument is obvious enough, the style wasless swelling than your things sometimes are, and it was plausible _adpopulum_. A vessel has just arrived from Jamaica with the news of poorSam Le Grice's death. He died at Jamaica of the yellow fever. His coursewas rapid and he had been very foolish; but I believe there was more ofkindness and warmth in him than in almost any other of ourschoolfellows. The annual meeting of the Blues is to-morrow, at theLondon Tavern, where poor Sammy dined with them two years ago, andattracted the notice of all by the singular foppishness of his dress.When men go off the stage so early, it scarce seems a noticeable thingin their epitaphs, whether they had been wise or silly in theirlifetime.
I am glad the snuff and Pi-pos's Books please. "Goody Two Shoes" isalmost out of print. Mrs. Barbauld's stuff has banished all the oldclassics of the nursery; and the shopman at Newbery's hardly deigned toreach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary asked forthem. Mrs. B.'s and Mrs. Trimmer's nonsense lay in piles about.Knowledge insignificant and vapid as Mrs. B.'s books convey, it seems,must come to a child in the _shape_ of _knowledge_, and his empty noddlemust be turned with conceit of his own powers when he has learnt that aHorse is an animal, and Billy is better than a Horse, and such like;instead of that beautiful Interest in wild tales which made the child aman, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than achild. Science has succeeded to Poetry no less in the little walks ofchildren than with men. Is there no possibility of averting this soreevil? Think what you would have been now, if instead of being fed withTales and old wives' fables in childhood, you had been crammed withgeography and natural history?
Damn them!--I mean the cursed Barbauld Crew, those Blights and Blasts ofall that is Human in man and child.
As to the Translations, let me do two or three hundred lines, and thendo you try the Nostrums upon Stuart in any way you please. If they godown I will bray more. In fact, if I got or could but get 50 l. a yearonly, in addition to what I have, I should live in affluence.
Have you anticipated it, or could not you give a Parallel of Bonapartewith Cromwell, particularly as to the contrast in their deeds affecting_foreign_ states? Cromwell's interference for the Albigenses,B[uonaparte]'s against the Swiss. Then Religion would come in; andMilton and you could rant about our countrymen of that period. This is ahasty suggestion, the more hasty because I want my Supper. I have justfinished Chapman's Homer. Did you ever read it?--it has most thecontinuous power of interesting you all along, like a rapid original, ofany, and in the uncommon excellence of the more finished parts goesbeyond Fairfax or any of 'em. The metre is fourteen syllables, andcapable of all sweetness and grandeur. Cowper's damn'd blank versedetains you every step with some heavy Miltonism; Chapman gallops offwith you his own free pace. Take a simile for an example. The councilbreaks up--
"Being abroad, the earth was overlaidWith flockers to them, that came forth; as when of frequent beesSwarms rise out of a hollow rock, repairing the degrees_Of their egression endlessly, with ever rising new_From forth their sweet nest; as their store, still as it faded, grew,_And never would cease sending forth her clusters to the spring_,They still crowd out so: this flock here, that there, belabouringThe loaded flowers. So," &c. &c.
[_Iliad_, Book II., 70-77.]
What _endless egression of phrases_ the dog commands!
Take another: Agamemnon wounded, bearing his wound heroically for thesake of the army (look below) to a woman in labour.
"He, with his lance, sword, mighty stones, poured his heroic wreakOn other squadrons of the foe, whiles yet warm blood did breakThro' his cleft veins: but when the wound was quite exhaust and crude,The eager anguish did approve his princely fortitude.As when most sharp and bitter pangs distract a labouring dame,Which the divine Ilithiae, that rule the painful frameOf human childbirth, pour on her; the Ilithiae that areThe daughters of Saturnia; with whose extreme repairThe woman in her travail strives to take the worst it gives;With thought, it _must be, 'tis love's fruit, the end for which she lives;The mean to make herself new born, what comforts_ will redound:So," &c.
[_Iliad_, Book XI., 228-239.]
I will tell you more about Chapman and his peculiarities in my next. Iam much interested in him.
Yours ever affectionately, and Pi-Pos's.
[Coleridge was just now contributing political essays as well as verseto the _Morning Post_. "Once a Jacobin always a Jacobin" appeared onOctober 21, 1802. These were afterwards reprinted in _Essays on His OwnTimes_. _Ad populum_ is a reminder of Coleridge's first politicalessays, the _Conciones ad Populum_ of 1795.
"Goody Two Shoes"--One of Newbery's most famous books for children,sometimes attributed to Goldsmith, though, I think, wrongly.
Mrs. Barbauld (1743-1825) was the author of _Hymns in Prose forChildren_, and she contributed to her brother John Aikin's _Evenings atHome_, both very popular books. Lamb, who afterwards came to know Mrs.Barbauld, described her and Mrs. Inchbald as the two bald women. Mrs.Sarah Trimmer (1741-1810) was the author of many books for children; shelives by the _Story of the Robins_.
The translation for Stuart either was not made or not accepted; nor didColeridge carry out the project of the parallel of Buonaparte withCromwell. Hallam, however, did so in his _Constitutional History ofEngland_, unfavourably to Cromwell.
George Chapman's _Odyssey_ was paraphrased by Lamb in his _Adventures ofUlysses_, 1808. Lamb either did not return to the subject withColeridge, or his "next letter" has been lost.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S.T. COLERIDGE
Nov. 4th, 1802.
Observe, there comes to you, by the Kendal waggon to-morrow, theillustrious 5th of November, a box, containing the Miltons, the strangeAmerican Bible, with White's brief note, to which you will attend;Baxter's "Holy Commonwealth," for which you stand indebted to me 3s.6d.; an odd volume of Montaigne, being of no use to me, I having thewhole; certain books belonging to Wordsworth, as do also the strangethick-hoofed shoes, which are very much admired at in London. All thesesundries I commend to your most strenuous looking after. If you find theMiltons in certain parts dirtied and soiled with a crumb of rightGloucester blacked in the candle (my usual supper), or peradventure astray ash of tobacco wafted into the crevices, look to that passage moreespecially: depend upon it, it contains good matter. I have got yourlittle Milton which, as it contains Salmasius--and I make a rule ofnever hearing but one side of the question (why should I distractmyself?)--I shall return to you when I pick up the _Latina opera_. Thefirst Defence is the greatest work among them, because it is uniformlygreat, and such as is befitting the very mouth of a great nationspeaking for itself. But the second Defence, which is but a successionof splendid episodes slightly tied together, has one passage which ifyou have not read, I conjure you to lose no time, but read it; it is hisconsolations in his blindness, which had been made a reproach to him. Itbegins whimsically, with poetical flourishes about Tiresias and otherblind worthies (which still are mainly interesting as displaying hissingular mind, and in what degree poetry entered into his daily soul,not by fits and impulses, but engrained and innate); but the concludingpage, i.e. of _this passage_ (not of the _Defensio_) which you willeasily find, divested of all brags and flourishes, gives so rational, sotrue an enumeration of his comforts, so human, that it cannot be readwithout the deepest interest. Take one touch of the religious part:--"Etsane haud ultima Dei cura caeci--(_we blind folks_, I understand it not_nos_ for _ego_;)--sumus; qui nos, quominus quicquam aliud praeter ipsumcernere valemus, eo clementius atque benignius respicere dignatur. Vaequi illudit nos, vae qui laedit, execratione publica devovendo; nos abinjuriis hominum non modo incolumes, sed pene sacros divina lexreddidit, divinus favor: nee tam _oculorum hebetudine_ quam _coelestiumalarum umbra_ has nobis fecisse tenebras videtur, factas illustrarerursus interiore ac longe praestabiliore lumine haud raro solet. Hucrefero, quod et amici officiosius nunc etiam quam solebant, colunt,observant, adsunt; quod et nonnulli sunt, quibuscum Pyladeas atqueTheseas alternare voces verorum amicorum liceat.
"Vade gubernaculum mei pedis.Da manum ministro amico.Da collo manum tuam, ductor autem viae ero tibi ego."
All this, and much more, is highly pleasing to know. But you may easilyfind it;--and I don't know why I put down so many words about it, butfor the pleasure of writing to you and the want of another topic.
Yours ever, C. LAMB.
To-morrow I expect with anxiety S.T.C.'s letter to Mr. Fox.
[Lamb refers to Milton's _Defensio Secunda pro Populo Anglicano contraAlexandrum Morum Ecclesiasten_. The following is a translation of theLatin passage by Robert Fellowes:--
And indeed, in my blindness, I enjoy in no inconsiderable degree thefavour of the Deity; who regards me with more tenderness and compassionin proportion as I am able to behold nothing but himself. Alas! for himwho insults me, who maligns and merits public execration! For the divinelaw not only shields me from injury, but almost renders me too sacred toattack; not indeed so much from the privation of my sight, as from theovershadowing of those heavenly wings, which seem to have occasionedthis obscurity; and which, when occasioned, he is wont to illuminatewith an interior light, more precious and more pure. To this I ascribethe more tender assiduities of my friends, their soothing attentions,their kind visits, their reverential observances; among whom there aresome with whom I may interchange the Pyladean and Thesean dialogue ofinseparable friends.
_Orest_. Proceed, and be rudder of my feet, by showing me the mostendearing love. [Eurip. in _Orest_.]
And in another place--
"Lend your hand to your devoted friend,Throw your arm round my neck, andI will conduct you on the way."
Coleridge's first letter to Charles James Fox was printed in the_Morning Post_ for November 4, 1802, his second on November 9.]
Charles Lamb to Thomas Manning[November, 1802.]
My dear Manning,--I must positively write, or I shall miss you atToulouse. I sit here like a decayed minute hand (I lie; _that_ does not_sit_), and being myself the exponent of no time, take no heed how theclocks about me are going. You possibly by this time may have exploredall Italy, and toppled, unawares, into Etna, while you went too nearthose rotten-jawed, gap-toothed, old worn-out chaps of hell,--while I ammeditating a quiescent letter to the honest postmaster at Toulouse. Butin case you should not have been _felo de se_, this is to tell you, thatyour letter was quite to my palate--in particular your just remarks uponIndustry, damned Industry (though indeed you left me to explore thereason), were highly relishing.
I've often wished I lived in the Golden Age, when shepherds laystretched upon flowers, and roused themselves at their leisure,--thegenius there is in a man's natural idle face, that has not learned hismultiplication table! before doubt, and propositions, and corollaries,got into the world! _Now_, as Joseph Cottle, a Bard of Nature, sings,going up Malvern Hills,
"How steep! how painful the ascent!It needs the evidence of _close deduction_To know that ever I shall gain the top."
You must know that Joe is lame, so that he had some reason for sosinging. These two lines, I assure you, are taken _totidem literis_ froma very _popular_ poem. Joe is also an Epic Poet as well as aDescriptive, and has written a tragedy, though both his drama andepopoiea are strictly _descriptive_, and chiefly of the _Beauties ofNature_, for Joe thinks _man_ with all his passions and frailties not aproper subject of the _Drama_. Joe's tragedy hath the followingsurpassing speech in it. Some king is told that his enemy has engagedtwelve archers to come over in a boat from an enemy's country andway-lay him; he thereupon pathetically exclaims--
"_Twelve_, dost thou say? Where be those dozen villains!"
Cottle read two or three acts out to us, very gravely on both sides,till he came to this heroic touch,--and then he asked what we laughedat? I had no more muscles that day. A poet that chooses to read out hisown verses has but a limited power over you. There is a bound where hisauthority ceases.
Apropos: if you should go to Florence or to Rome, inquire what works areextant in gold, silver, bronze, or marble, of Benvenuto Cellini, aFlorentine artist, whose Life doubtless, you have read; or, if not,without controversy you must read: so hark ye, send for it immediatelyfrom Lane's circulating library. It is always put among the romances,very properly; but you have read it, I suppose. In particular, inquireat Florence for his colossal bronze statue (in the grand square orsomewhere) of Perseus. You may read the story in Tooke's "Pantheon."Nothing material has _transpired_ in these parts. Coleridge has inditeda violent philippic against Mr. Fox in the "Morning Post," which is acompound of expressions of humility, gentlemen-ushering-in most arrogantcharges. It will do Mr. Fox no real injury among those that know him.
[Manning's letter of September 10 had told Lamb he was on his way toToulouse.
Cottle's epic was _Alfred_. The quoted lines were added in the twelfthedition. He had also written _John the Baptist_.
"Cellini's Life." Lamb would probably have read the translation byNugent, 1771. Cellini's Perseus in bronze is in the Loggia de' Lanzi atFlorence.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
[Dated at end: Feb. 19th, 1803.]
My dear Manning,--The general scope of your letter afforded noindications of insanity, but some particular points raised a scruple.For God's sake don't think any more of "Independent Tartary." What haveyou to do among such Ethiopians? Is there no _lineal descendant_ ofPrester John?
Is the chair empty? Is the sword unswayed?--depend upon't they'll nevermake you their king, as long as any branch of that great stock isremaining. I tremble for your Christianity. They'll certainly circumciseyou. Read Sir John Maundevil's travels to cure you, or come over toEngland.
There is a Tartar-man now exhibiting at Exeter Change. Come and talkwith him, and hear what he says first. Indeed, he is no very favorablespecimen of his Countrymen! But perhaps the best thing you can do, is to_try_ to get the idea out of your head. For this purpose repeat toyourself every night, after you have said your prayers, the wordsIndependent Tartary, Independent Tartary, two or three times, andassociate with them the _idea of oblivion_ ('tis Hartley's method withobstinate memories), or say, Independent, Independent, have I notalready got an _Independence_? That was a clever way of the oldpuritans--pun-divinity. My dear friend, think what a sad pity it wouldbe to bury such _parts_ in heathen countries, among nasty,unconversable, horse-belching, Tartar people! Some say, they areCannibals; and then conceive a Tartar-fellow _eating_ my friend, andadding the _cool malignity_ of mustard and vinegar! I am afraid 'tis thereading of Chaucer has misled you; his foolish stories about Cambuscanand the ring, and the horse of brass. Believe me, there's no suchthings, 'tis all the poet's _invention_; but if there were such_darling_ things as old Chaucer sings, I would _up_ behind you on theHorse of Brass, and frisk off for Prester John's Country. But these areall tales; a Horse of Brass never flew, and a King's daughter nevertalked with Birds! The Tartars, really, are a cold, insipid, smoucheyset. You'll be sadly moped (if you are not eaten) among them. Pray _try_and cure yourself. Take Hellebore (the counsel is Horace's, 'twas noneof my thought _originally_). Shave yourself oftener. Eat no saffron, forsaffron-eaters contract a terrible Tartar-like yellow. Pray, to avoidthe fiend. Eat nothing that gives the heart-burn. _Shave the upper lip_.Go about like an European. Read no books of voyages (they're nothing butlies): only now and then a Romance, to keep the fancy _under_. Aboveall, don't go to any sights of _wild beasts_. _That has been your ruin_.Accustom yourself to write familiar letters on common subjects to yourfriends in England, such as are of a moderate understanding. And thinkabout common things more. There's your friend Holcroft now, has writtena play. You used to be fond of the drama. Nobody went to see it.Notwithstanding this, with an audacity perfectly original, he faces thetown down in a preface, that they _did like_ it very much. I have hearda waspish punster say, "Sir, why did you not laugh at my jest?" But fora man boldly to face me out with, "Sir, I maintain it, you did laugh atmy jest," is a little too much. I have seen H. but once. He spoke of youto me in honorable terms. H. seems to me to be drearily dull. Godwin isdull, but then he has a dash of affectation, which smacks of thecoxcomb, and your coxcombs are always agreeable. I supped last nightwith Rickman, and met a merry _natural_ captain, who pleases himselfvastly with once having made a Pun at Otaheite in the O. language. 'Tisthe same man who said Shakspeare he liked, because he was so _much ofthe Gentleman_. Rickman is a man "absolute in all numbers." I think Imay one day bring you acquainted, if you do not go to Tartary first; foryou'll never come back. Have a care, my dear friend, of Anthropophagi!their stomachs are always craving. But if you do go among [them] praycontrive to _stink_ as soon as you can that you may [? not] hang a [?on] hand at the Butcher's. 'Tis terrible to be weighed out for 5d.a-pound. To sit at table (the reverse of fishes in Holland), not as aguest, but as a meat.
God bless you: do come to England. Air and exercise may do great things.Talk with some Minister. Why not your father?
God dispose all for the best. I have discharged my duty.
Your sincere fr'd,C. LAMB.
19th Feb., 1803, London.
[Manning's letter producing this reply is endorsed by Lamb, "ReceivedFebruary 19, 1803," so that he lost no time. Manning wrote: "I amactually thinking of Independent Tartary as I write this, but you go outand skate--you go out and walk some times? Very true, that's adistraction--but the moment I set myself down quietly to any-thing, incomes Independent Tartary--for example I attend chemical lectures butevery drug that Mr. Vauquelin presents to me tastes of Cream ofTartar--in short I am become good for nothing for a time, and as I saidbefore, I should not have written now, but to assure you of my friendlyand affectionate remembrance, but as you are not in the same unhappycircumstances, I expect you'll write to me and not measure page forpage. This is the first letter I have begun for England for three monthsexcept one I sent to my Father yesterday." Manning returned to Londonbefore leaving for China. He did not sail until 1806.
Prester John, the name given by old writers to the King of Ethiopia inAbyssinia. A corruption of Belul Gian, precious stone; in Latin firstJohanus preciosus, then Presbyter Johannes, and then Prester John. InSir John Mandeville's _Voiage and Travails_, 1356, Prester John is saidto be a lineal descendant of Ogier the Dane.--Hartley would be DavidHartley, the metaphysician, after whom Coleridge's son was named.--Thereader must go to Chaucer's "Squire's Tale" for Cambuscan, King ofSarra, in Tartary; his horse of brass which conveyed him in a daywherever he would go; and the ring which enabled his daughter Canace tounderstand the language of birds.
Holcroft's play was "A Tale of Mystery."
Rickman had returned from Ireland some months previously. The merrynatural captain was James Burney (1750-1821), with whom the Lambs soonbecame very friendly. He was the centre of their whist-playing circle.Burney, who was brother of Madame D'Arblay, had sailed with CaptainCook.
"The reverse of fishes in Holland." An allusion to Andrew Marvell'swhimsical satire against the Dutch:--
The fish ofttimes the burgher dispossessedAnd sat not as a meat but as a guest.
"Why not your father?" Manning's father was the Rev. William Manning,rector of Diss, in Norfolk, who died in 1810.]
CHARLES LAMB TO THOMAS MANNING
Dear Manning, I send you some verses I have made on the death of a youngQuaker you may have heard me speak of as being in love with for someyears while I lived at Pentonville, though I had never spoken to her inmy life. She died about a month since. If you have interest with theAbbe de Lisle, you may get 'em translated: he has done as much for theGeorgics.
When maidens such as Hester die,Their place ye may not well supply,Though ye among a thousand try,With vain endeavour.
A month or more hath she been dead,Yet cannot I by force be ledTo think upon the wormy bed,And her together.
A springy motion in her gait,A rising step, did indicateOf pride and joy no common rate,That flush'd her spirit.
I know not by what name besideI shall it call:--if 'twas not pride,It was a joy to that allied,She did inherit.
Her parents held the Quaker rule,Which doth the human feeling cool,But she was train'd in Nature's school,Nature had blest her.
A waking eye, a prying mind,A heart that stirs, is hard to bind,A hawk's keen sight ye cannot blind,Ye could not Hester.
My sprightly neighbour, gone beforeTo that unknown and silent shore,Shall we not meet, as heretofore,Some summer morning,
When from thy cheerful eyes a rayHath struck a bliss upon the day,A bliss that would not go away,A sweet forewarning?
[This letter is possibly only a fragment. I have supplied "Hester" fromthe 1818 text.
The young Quaker was Hester Savory, the daughter of Joseph Savory, agoldsmith of the Strand. She was married July 1, 1802, and died a fewmonths after.
"The Abbe de Lisle." L'Abbe Jacques Delille (1738-1813), known by his_Georgiques_, 1770, a translation into French of Virgil's _Georgics_.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
[Dated at end: March 5, 1803.]
Dear Wordsworth, having a Guinea of your sister's left in hand, afterall your commissions, and as it does not seem likely that you willtrouble us, as the phrase is, for some time to come, I send you a poundnote, and with it the best things in the verse way I have lit upon formany a day. I believe they will be new to you. You know Cotton, whowrote a 2d part to Walton's Angler. A volume of his miscellaneous poemsis scarce. Take what follows from a poem call'd Winter. I omit 20verses, in which a storm is described, to hasten to the best:--
21Louder, and louder, still they come,Nile's Cataracts to these are dumb,The Cyclops to these Blades are still,Whose anvils shake the burning hill.
22Were all the stars-enlighten'd skiesAs full of ears, as sparkling eyes,This rattle in the crystal hallWould be enough to deaf them all.
23What monstrous Race is hither tost,Thus to alarm our British Coast,With outcries such as never yetWar, or confusion, could beget?
24Oh! now I know them, let us home,Our mortal Enemy is come,Winter, and all his blustring trainHave made a voyage o'er the main.
27With bleak, and with congealing winds,The earth in shining chain he binds;And still as he doth further pass,Quarries his way with liquid glass.
28Hark! how the Blusterers of the BearTheir gibbous Cheeks in triumph bear,And with continued shouts do ringThe entry of their palsied king!
29The squadron, nearest to your eye,Is his forlorn of Infantry,Bowmen of unrelenting minds,Whose shafts are feather'd with the winds.
30Now you may see his vanguard riseAbove the earthy precipice,Bold Horse, on bleakest mountains bred,With hail, instead of provend, fed.
31Their lances are the pointed locks,Torn from the brows of frozen rocks,Their shields are chrystal as their swords,The steel the rusted rock affords.
32See, the Main Body now appears!And hark! th' Aeolian Trumpeters.By their hoarse levels do declare,That the bold General rides there.
33And look where mantled up in whiteHe sleds it, like the Muscovite.I know him by the port he bears,And his lifeguard of mountaineers.
34Their caps are furr'd with hoary frosts,The bravery their cold kingdom boasts;Their spungy plads are milk-white frieze,Spun from the snowy mountain's fleece.
35Their partizans are fine carv'd glass,Fring'd with the morning's spangled grass;And pendant by their brawny thighsHang cimetars of burnish'd ice.
38Fly, fly, the foe advances fast,Into our fortress let us haste,Where all the roarers of the northCan neither storm, nor starve, us forth.
39There under ground a magazineOf sovran juice is cellar'd in,Liquor that will the siege maintain,Should Phoebus ne'er return again.
40'Tis that, that gives the poet rage,And thaws the gelly'd blood of age,Matures the young, restores the old,And makes the fainting coward bold.
41It lays the careful head to rest,Calms palpitations in the breast,Renders our live's misfortunes sweet,And Venus frolic in the sheet.
42Then let the chill Scirocco blow,And gird us round with hills of snow,Or else go whistle to the shore,And make the hollow mountains roar.
43Whilst we together jovial sit,Careless, and crown'd with mirth and wit,Where tho' bleak winds confine us home,Our fancies thro' the world shall roam.
44We'll think of all the friends we know,And drink to all, worth drinking to;When, having drunk all thine and mine,We rather shall want health than wine!
45But, where friends fail us, we'll supplyOur friendships with our Charity.Men that remote in sorrows live,Shall by our lusty bumpers thrive.
46We'll drink the wanting into wealth,And those that languish into health,Th' afflicted into joy, th' opprestInto security & rest.
47The worthy in disgrace shall findFavour return again more kind,And in restraint who stifled lye,Shall taste the air of liberty.
48The brave shall triumph in success,The lovers shall have mistresses,Poor unregarded virtue praise,And the neglected Poet bays.
49Thus shall our healths do others good,While we ourselves do all we wou'd,For freed from envy, and from care,What would we be, but what we are?
50'Tis the plump Grape's immortal juice,That does this happiness produce,And will preserve us free together,Maugre mischance, or wind, & weather.
51Then let old winter take his course,And roar abroad till he be hoarse,And his lungs crack with ruthless ire,It shall but serve to blow our fire.
52Let him our little castle plyWith all his loud artillery,Whilst sack and claret man the fort,His fury shall become our sport.
53Or let him Scotland take, and thereConfine the plotting Presbyter;His zeal may freeze, whilst we kept warmWith love and wine can know no harm.
[Footnote 1: The winds.]
How could Burns miss the series of lines from 42 to 49?
There is also a long poem from the Latin on the inconveniences of oldage. I can't set down the whole, tho' right worthy, having dedicated theremainder of my sheet to something else. I just excerp here and there,to convince you, if after this you need it, that Cotton was a firstrate. Tis old Callus speaks of himself, once the delight of the Ladiesand Gallants of Rome:--
The beauty of my shape & face are fled,And my revolted form bespeaks me dead,For fair, and shining age, has now put onA bloodless, funeral complexion.My skin's dry'd up, my nerves unpliant are,And my poor limbs my nails plow up and tear.My chearful eyes now with a constant springOf tears bewail their own sad suffering;And those soft lids, that once secured my eyeNow rude, and bristled grown, do drooping lie,Bolting mine eyes, as in a gloomy cave,Which there on furies, and grim objects, rave.'Twould fright the full-blown Gallant to beholdThe dying object of a man so old.And can you think, that once a man he was,Of human reason who no portion has.The letters split, when I consult my book,And every leaf I turn does broader look.In darkness do I dream I see the light,When light is darkness to my perishd sight.
Is it not hard we may not from men's eyesCloak and conceal Age's indecencies.Unseeming spruceness th' old man discommends,And in old men, only to live, offends.
How can I him a living man believe,Whom light, and air, by whom he panteth, grieve;The gentle sleeps, which other mortals ease,Scarce in a winter's night my eyelids seize.
The boys, and girls, deride me now forlorn,And but to call me, Sir, now think it scorn,They jeer my countnance, and my feeble pace,And scoff that nodding head, that awful was.
A song written by Cowper, which in stile is much above his usual, andemulates in noble plainness any old balad I have seen. Hayley has justpublished it &c. with a Life. I did not think Cowper _up_ to it:--
SONGON THE LOSS OF THE ROYAL GEORGE
1Toll for the Brave!The Brave, that are no more!All sunk beneath the wave,Fast by their native shore.--
2Eight hundred of the Brave,Whose courage well was tried,Had made the vessel heel,And laid her on her side.
3A Land breeze shook the shrouds,And she was over set;Down went the Royal George,With all her sails complete.
4Toll for the Brave!Brave Kempenfelt is gone:His last sea-fight is fought;His work of glory done.
5It was not in the battle,No tempest gave the shock;She sprang no fatal leak;She ran upon no rock.
6His sword was in its sheath;His fingers held the pen,When Kempenfelt went down,With twice four hundred men.
7Weigh the vessel up!Once dreaded by our foes!And mingle with the cupThe tear that England owes.
8Her timbers yet are sound,And she may float again,Full charg'd with England's thunder,And plow the distant main.
9But Kempenfelt is gone,His victories are o'er;And he, and his eight hundred,Shall plow the wave no more.
In your obscure part of the world, which I take to be Ultima Thule, Ithought these verses out of Books which cannot be accessible would notbe unwelcome. Having room, I will put in an Epitaph I writ for a _realoccasion_, a year or two back.
ON MARY DRUIT WHO DIED AGED 19
Under this cold marble stoneSleep the sad remains of One,Who, when alive, by few or none
2Was lov'd, as lov'd she might have been,If she prosp'rous days had seen,Or had thriving been, I ween.
3Only this cold funeral stoneTells, she was belov'd by One,Who on the marble graves his moan.
I conclude with Love to your Sister and Mrs. W.
Yours affect'y,C. LAMB.Mary sends Love, &c.5th March, 1803.
On consulting Mary, I find it will be foolish inserting the Note as Iintended, being so small, and as it is possible you _may_ have to_trouble_ us again e'er long; so it shall remain to be settledhereafter. However, the verses shan't be lost.
N.B.--All orders executed with fidelity and punctuality by C. & M. Lamb.
[_On the outside is written:_] I beg to open this for a minute to add myremembrances to you all, and to assure you I shall ever be happy to hearfrom or see, much more to be useful to any of my old friends atGrasmere.
A _lean_ paragraph of the Doctor's.
[Charles Cotton (1630-1687). Wordsworth praises the poem on Winter inhis preface to the 1815 edition of his works, and elsewhere sets up acomparison between the character of Cotton and that of Burns.
Hayley's _Life of Cowper_ appeared first in 1803.
Lamb's epitaph was written at the request of Rickman. See also theletter to Manning of April, 1802. Rickman seems to have supplied Lambwith a prose epitaph and asked for a poetical version. Canon Aingerprints an earlier version in a letter to Rickman, dated February 1,1802. Lamb printed the epitaph in the _Morning Post_ for February 7,1804, over his initials (see Vol. IV. of this edition). Mary Druit, orDruitt, lived at Wimborne, and according to John Payne Collier, in _AnOld Man's Diary_, died of small-pox at the age of nineteen. He says thatLamb's lines were cut on her tomb, but correspondence in _Notes andQueries_ has proved this to be incorrect.
"The Doctor." Stoddart, having taken his D.C.L. in 1801, was now calledDr. Stoddart.
Soon after this letter Mary Lamb was taken ill again.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
April 13th, 1803.
My dear Coleridge,--Things have gone on better with me since you leftme. I expect to have my old housekeeper home again in a week or two. Shehas mended most rapidly. My health too has been better since you tookaway that Montero cap. I have left off cayenned eggs and such bolstersto discomfort. There was death in that cap. I mischievously wished thatby some inauspicious jolt the whole contents might be shaken, and thecoach set on fire. For you said they had that property. How the oldGentleman, who joined you at Grantham, would have clappt his hands tohis knees, and not knowing but it was an immediate visitation of Godthat burnt him, how pious it would have made him; him, I mean, thatbrought the Influenza with him, and only took places for one--a damn'dold sinner, he must have known what he had got with him! However, I wishthe cap no harm for the sake of the _head it fits_, and could be contentto see it disfigure my healthy sideboard again. [_Here is a paragrapherased._]
What do you think of smoking? I want your sober, _average noon opinion_of it. I generally am eating my dinner about the time I should determineit. [_Another small erasure._]
Morning is a Girl, and can't smoke--she's no evidence one way or other;and Night is so evidently _bought over_, that _he_ can't be a veryupright Judge. May be the truth is, that _one_ pipe is wholesome, _two_pipes toothsome, _three_ pipes noisome, _four_ pipes fulsome, _five_pipes quarrelsome; and that's the _sum_ on't. But that is decidingrather upon rhyme than reason.... After all, our instincts _may_ bebest. Wine, I am sure, good, mellow, generous Port, can hurt nobody,unless they take it to excess, which they may easily avoid if theyobserve the rules of temperance.
Bless you, old Sophist, who next to Human Nature taught me all thecorruption I was capable of knowing--And bless your Montero Cap, andyour trail (which shall come after you whenever you appoint), and yourwife and children--Pi-pos especially.
When shall we two smoke again? Last night I had been in a sad quandaryof spirits, in what they call the evening; but a pipe and some generousPort, and King Lear (being alone), had its effects as a remonstrance. Iwent to bed pot-valiant. By the way, may not the Ogles of Somersetshirebe remotely descended from King Lear?
Love to Sara, and ask her what gown she means that Mary has got of hers.I know of none but what went with Miss Wordsworth's things toWordsworth, and was paid for out of their money. I allude to a partwhich I may have read imperfectly in a letter of hers to you.
[Coleridge had been in London early in April and had stayed with Lamb inthe Temple. From the following letter to his wife, dated April 4, we getlight on Lamb's allusion to his "old housekeeper," _i.e._, Mary Lamb,and her rapid mending:--
"I had purposed not to speak of Mary Lamb, but I had better write itthan tell it. The Thursday before last she met at Rickman's a Mr. Babb,an old friend and admirer of her mother. The next day she _smiled_ in anominous way; on Sunday she told her brother that she was getting bad,with great agony. On Tuesday morning she laid hold of me with violentagitation and talked wildly about George Dyer. I told Charles there wasnot a moment to lose; and I did not lose a moment, but went for ahackney-coach and took her to the private mad-house at Hugsden. She wasquite calm, and said it was the best to do so. But she wept bitterly twoor three times, yet all in a calm way. Charles is cut to the heart."
Lamb's first articulate doubts as to smoking are expressed in thisletter. One may perhaps take in this connection the passage on tobaccoand alcohol in the "Confessions of a Drunkard" (see Vol. I.).
"Montero cap"--a recollection of _Tristram Shandy_.
The Ogles and King Lear (_i.e._, leer)--merely a pun.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE
[No date. May, 1803.]
Mary sends love from home.
DR. C.,--I do confess that I have not sent your books as I ought to be[have] done; but you know how the human freewill is tethered, and thatwe perform promises to ourselves no better than to our friends. A watchis come for you. Do you want it soon, or shall I wait till some onetravels your way? You, like me, I suppose, reckon the lapse of time fromthe waste thereof, as boys let a cock run to waste: too idle to stop it,and rather amused with seeing it dribble. Your poems have begunprinting; Longman sent to me to arrange them, the old and the newtogether. It seems you have left it to him. So I classed them, as nearlyas I could, according to dates. First, after the Dedication, (which mustmarch first) and which I have transplanted from before the Preface(which stood like a dead wall of prose between) to be the firstpoem--then comes "The Pixies," and the things most juvenile--then on "ToChatterton," &c.--on, lastly, to the "Ode on the Departing Year," and"Musings,"--which finish. Longman wanted the Ode first; but thearrangement I have made is precisely that marked out in the dedication,following the order of time. I told Longman I was sure that you wouldomit a good portion of the first edition. I instanced in severalsonnets, &c.--but that was not his plan, and, as you have done nothingin it, all I could do was to arrange 'em on the supposition that allwere to be retained. A few I positively rejected; such as that of "TheThimble," and that of "Flicker and Flicker's wife," and that _not_ inthe manner of Spenser, which you yourself had stigmatised--and the "Manof Ross,"--I doubt whether I should this last. It is not too late tosave it. The first proof is only just come. I have been forced to callthat Cupid's Elixir "Kisses." It stands in your first volume as anEffusion, so that, instead of prefixing The Kiss to that of "One Kiss,dear Maid," &c., _I_ have ventured to entitle it "To Sara." I am awareof the nicety of changing even so mere a trifle as a title to so short apiece, and subverting old associations; but two called "Kisses" wouldhave been absolutely ludicrous, and "Effusion" is no name; and thesepoems come close together. I promise you not to alter one word in anypoem whatever, but to take your last text, where two are. Can you sendany wishes about the book? Longman, I think, should have settled withyou. But it seems you have left it to him. Write as soon as you possiblycan; for, without making myself responsible, I feel myself in some sortaccessory to the selection which I am to proof-correct. But I decidedlysaid to Biggs that I was sure you would omit more. Those I havepositively rubbed off I can swear to _individually_, (except the "Man ofRoss," which is too familiar in Pope,) but no others--you have your cue.For my part, I had rather all the _Juvenilia_ were kept--_memoriescausa_.
Rob Lloyd has written me a masterly letter, containing a character ofhis father;--see, how different from Charles he views the old man!_Literatim_ "My father smokes, repeats Homer in Greek, and Virgil, andis learning, when from business, with all the vigour of a young manItalian. He is really a wonderful man. He mixes public and privatebusiness, the intricacies of discording life with his religion anddevotion. No one more rationally enjoys the romantic scenes of nature,and the chit-chat and little vagaries of his children; and, thoughsurrounded with an ocean of affairs, the very neatness of his mostobscure cupboard in the house passes not unnoticed. I never knew any oneview with such clearness, nor so well satisfied with things as they are,and make such allowance for things which must appear perfect Syriac tohim." By the last he means the Lloydisms of the younger branches. Hisportrait of Charles (exact as far as he has had opportunities of notinghim) is most exquisite. "Charles is become steady as a church, and asstraightforward as a Roman road. It would distract him to mentionanything that was not as plain as sense; he seems to have run the wholescenery of life, AND NOW RESTS AS THE FORMAL PRECISIAN OFNON-EXISTENCE." Here is genius I think, and 'tis seldom a young man, aLloyd, looks at a father (so differing) with such good nature while heis alive. Write--
I am in post-haste, C. LAMB.
Love, &c., to Sara, P., and H.
[The date is usually given as March 20, but is May 20; certainly afterColeridge's visit to town (see preceding letter).
_Poems_, by S. T. Coleridge, third edition, was now in preparation byLongman & Rees. Lamb saw the volume through the press. The 1797 secondedition was followed, except that Lloyd's and Lamb's contributions wereomitted, together with the following poems by Coleridge: "To the Rev. W.J. H.," "Sonnet to Koskiusko," "Written after a Walk" (which Lambinaccurately called "Flicker and Flicker's Wife"), "From a Young Lady"("The Silver Thimble"), "On the Christening of a Friend's Child,""Introductory Sonnet to Lloyd's 'Poems on the Death of PriscillaFarmer.'" "The Man of Ross" (whom Pope also celebrates in the _MoralEssays_, III., lines 250-290) was retained, and also the "Lines in theManner of Spenser." The piece rechristened "Kisses" had been called "TheComposition of a Kiss." Biggs was the printer. See also the next letter.
Of Robert Lloyd's father we hear more later.]
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDGE27th May, 1803.
My dear Coleridge,--The date of my last was one day prior to the receiptof your letter, full of foul omens. I explain, lest you should havethought mine too light a reply to such sad matter. I seriously hope bythis time you have given up all thoughts of journeying to the greenislands of the Blest--voyages in time of war are very precarious--or atleast, that you will take them in your way to the Azores. Pray becareful of this letter till it has done its duty, for it is to informyou that I have booked off your watch (laid in cotton like an untimelyfruit), and with it Condillac and all other books of yours which wereleft here. These will set out on Monday next, the 29th May, by Kendalwaggon, from White Horse, Cripplegate. You will make seasonableinquiries, for a watch mayn't come your way again in a hurry. I havebeen repeatedly after Tobin, and now hear that he is in the country, notto return till middle of June. I will take care and see him with theearliest. But cannot you write pathetically to him, enforcing a speedymission of your books for literary purposes? He is too good a retainerto Literature, to let her interests suffer through his default. And why,in the name of Beelzebub, are your books to travel from Barnard's Inn tothe Temple, and then circuitously to Cripplegate, when their business isto take a short cut down Holborn-hill, up Snow do., on to Woodstreet,&c.? The former mode seems a sad superstitious subdivision of labour.Well! the "Man of Ross" is to stand; Longman begs for it; the printerstands with a wet sheet in one hand and a useless Pica in the other, intears, pleading for it; I relent. Besides, it was a Salutation poem, andhas the mark of the beast "Tobacco" upon it. Thus much I have done; Ihave swept off the lines about _widows_ and _orphans_ in second edition,which (if you remember) you most awkwardly and illogically caused to beinserted between two _Ifs_, to the great breach and disunion of said_Ifs_, which now meet again (as in first edition), like two cleverlawyers arguing a case. Another reason for subtracting the pathos was,that the "Man of Ross" is too familiar to need telling what he did,especially in worse lines than Pope told it; and it now stands simply as"Reflections at an Inn about a known Character," and sucking an oldstory into an accommodation with present feelings. Here is no breakingspears with Pope, but a new, independent, and really a very pretty poem.In fact, 'tis as I used to admire it in the first volume, and I haveeven dared to restore
"If 'neath this roof thy _wine-cheer'd_ moments pass,"
"Beneath this roof if thy cheer'd moments pass."
"Cheer'd" is a sad general word; "_wine-cheer'd_" I'm sure you'd giveme, if I had a speaking-trumpet to sound to you 300 miles. But I am your_factotum_, and that (save in this instance, which is a single case, andI can't get at you) shall be next to a _fac-nihil_--at most, a_fac-simile_. I have ordered "Imitation of Spenser" to be restored onWordsworth's authority; and now, all that you will miss will be "Flickerand Flicker's Wife," "The Thimble," "Breathe, _dear harmonist_" and, _Ibelieve_, "The Child that was fed with Manna." Another volume will clearoff all your Anthologic Morning-Postian Epistolary Miscellanies; butpray don't put "Christabel" therein; don't let that sweet maid comeforth attended with Lady Holland's mob at her heels. Let there be aseparate volume of Tales, Choice Tales, "Ancient Mariners," &c.
[Coleridge, who was getting more and more nervous about his health, hadlong been on the point of starting on some southern travels with ThomasWedgwood, but Wedgwood had gone alone; his friend James Webbe Tobin,mentioned later in the letter, lived at Nevis, in the West Indies:possibly Coleridge had thoughts of returning with him. The Maltaexperiment, of which we are to hear later, had not, I think, yet beenmooted.
"The Man of Ross." In the 1797 edition the poem had run thus, partly byLamb's advice (see the letters of June 10, 1796, and February 5,1797):--
LINES WRITTEN AT THE KING'S-ARMS, ROSS, FORMERLY THE HOUSE OF THE "MANOF ROSS"
Richer than MISER o'er his countless hoards,Nobler than KINGS, or king-polluted LORDS,Here dwelt the MAN OF ROSS! O Trav'ller, hear!Departed Merit claims a reverent tear.Friend to the friendless, to the sick man health,With generous joy he view'd his modest wealth;He hears the widow's heaven-breath'd prayer of praise,He marks the shelter'd orphan's tearful gaze,Or where the sorrow-shrivel'd captive lay,Pours the bright blaze of Freedom's noon-tide ray.Beneath this roof if thy cheer'd moments pass,Fill to the good man's name one grateful glass;To higher zest shall MEM'RY wake thy soul,And VIRTUE mingle in th' ennobled bowl.But if, like me, thro' life's distressful sceneLonely and sad thy pilgrimage hath been;And if, thy breast with heart-sick anguish fraught,Thou journeyest onward tempest-tost in thought;Here cheat thy cares! in generous visions melt,And dream of Goodness, thou hast never felt!
Lamb changed it by omitting lines 9 to 14, Coleridge agreeing. The poetwould not, however, restore "wine-cheer'd" as in his earliest version,1794. In the edition of 1828 the six lines were put back. "Breathe, dearHarmonist" was the poem "To the Rev. W. J. H.," and "The Child that wasfed with Manna" was "On the Christening of a Friend's Child."
"Lady Holland's mob." Elizabeth Vassall Fox, third Lady Holland(1770-1845), was beginning her reign as a Muse. Lamb by his phrase meansoccasional and political verse generally. The reference to "Christabel"helps to controvert Fanny Godwin's remark in a letter to Mrs. Shelley,on July 20, 1816, that Lamb "says _Christabel_ ought never to have beenpublished; that no one understood it."
Canon Ainger's transcript adds: "A word of your health will be richlyacceptable."]
MARY LAMB TO DOROTHY WORDSWORTH
[Dated at end: July 9. P.M. July 11, 1803.]
My dear Miss Wordsworth--We rejoice with exceeding great joy to hear thedelightful tidings you were so _very_ kind to remember to send us--Ihope your dear sister is perfectly well, and makes an excellent nurse.Are you not now the happiest family in the world?
I have been in better health and spirits this week past than since mylast illness--I continued so long so very weak & dejected I began tofear I should never be at all comfortable again. I strive against lowspirits all I can, but it is a very hard thing to get the better of.
I am very uneasy about poor Coleridge, his last letters are verymelancholy ones. Remember me affectionately to him and Sara. I hope youoften see him.
Southey is in town. He seems as proud of his little girl as I supposeyour brother is of his boy; he says his home is now quite a differentplace to what it used to be. I was glad to hear him say this--it used tolook rather chearless.
We went last week with Southey and Rickman and his sister to SadlersWells, the lowest and most London-like of all our London amusements--theentertainments were Goody Two Shoes, Jack the Giant Killer, and _Mary ofButtermere_! Poor Mary was very happily married at the end of the piece,to a sailor her former sweetheart. We had a prodigious fine view of herfather's house in the vale of Buttermere--mountains very like largehaycocks, and a lake like nothing at all. If you had been with us, wouldyou have laughed the whole time like Charles and Miss Rickman or gone tosleep as Southey and Rickman did?
Stoddart is in expectation of going soon to Malta as Judge Advocate; itis likely to be a profitable situation, fifteen hundred a year or more.If he goes he takes with him his sister, and, as I hear from her as avery great secret, a _wife_; you must not mention this because if hestays in England he may not be rich enough to marry for some years. I donot know why I should trouble you with a secret which it seems I amunable to keep myself and which is of no importance to you to hear; ifhe succeeds in this appointment he will be in a great bustle, for hemust set out to Malta in a month. In the mean time he must go toScotland to marry and fetch his wife, and it is a match against herparents' consent, and they as yet know nothing of the Malta expedition;so that he expects many difficulties, but the young lady and he aredetermined to conquer them. He then must go to Salisbury to take leaveof his father and mother, who I pity very much, for they are old peopleand therefore are not very likely ever to see their children again.
Charles is very well and very _good_--I mean very sober, but he is verygood in every sense of the word, for he has been very kind and patientwith me and I have been a sad trouble to him lately. He has shut out allhis friends because he thought company hurt me, and done every thing inhis power to comfort and amuse me. We are to go out of town soon for afew weeks, when I hope I shall get quite stout and lively.
You saw Fenwick when you was with us--perhaps you remember his wife andchildren were with his brother, a tradesman at Penzance. He (thebrother), who was supposed to be in a great way of business, has becomea bankrupt; they are now at Penzance without a home and without money;and poor Fenwick, who has been Editor of a country newspaper lately, islikely soon to be quite out of employ; I am distressed for them, for Ihave a great affection for Mrs. Fenwick.
How pleasant your little house and orchard must be now. I almost wish Ihad never seen it. I am always wishing to be with you. I could sit uponthat little bench in idleness day long. When you have a leisure hour, aletter from [you], kind friend, will give me the greatest pleasure.
We have money of yours and I want you to send me some commission to layit out. Are you not in want of anything? I believe when we go out oftown it will be to Margate--I love the seaside and expect much benefitfrom it, but your mountain scenery has spoiled us. We shall find theflat country of the Isle of Thanet very dull.
Charles joins me in love to your brother and sister and the little John.I hope you are building more rooms. Charles said I was so long answeringyour letter Mrs. Wordsworth would have another little one before youreceived it. Our love and compliments to our kind Molly, I hope shegrows younger and happier every day. When, and where, shall I ever seeHomeIndex of The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Vol. 5Previous part (6)Next part (8) Book of the DayTechnorati FaveRedditDiggDeliciousFollow us on TwitterOur Facebook PageOur Google Plus PagePopular BooksPride and PrejudiceThe Call of the WildTreasure IslandThe Adventures of Huckleberry FinnRomeo and JulietCrime and PunishmentHeart of DarknessSiddharthaPersonality PlusDublinersPopular AuthorsJane AustenJack LondonRobert Louis StevensonMark TwainWilliam ShakespeareFyodor DostoevskyJoseph ConradHermann HesseEdna FerberJames JoyceKeywordsTartuffeMarmionCandideDante's InfernoSchool for ScandalGhostsMoonstoneJew of MaltaGeorge Bernard ShawMajor BarbaraAccessibilityPrivacyCopyrightLinkingFacebookGoogleRedditTwitterPinterest