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forged or coined the base metal. For "pathos" read "bathos." You have
put me out of conceit with my blank verse by your "Religious Musings." I
think it will come to nothing. I do not like 'em enough to send 'em. I
have just been reading a book, which I may be too partial to, as it was
the delight of my childhood; but I will recommend it to you, - it is
Izaak Walton's "Complete Angler." All the scientific part you may omit
in reading. The dialogue is very simple, full of pastoral beauties, and
will charm you. Many pretty old verses are interspersed. This letter,
which would be a week's work reading only, I do not wish you to answer
in less than a month. I shall be richly content with a letter from you
some day early in July; though, if you get anyhow _settled_ before then,
pray let me know it immediately; 't would give me much satisfaction.
Concerning the Unitarian chapel, the salary is the only scruple that the
most rigid moralist would admit as valid. Concerning the tutorage, is
not the salary low, and absence from your family unavoidable? London is
the only fostering soil for genius. Nothing more occurs just now; so I
will leave you, in mercy, one small white spot empty below, to repose
your eyes upon, fatigued as they must be with the wilderness of words
they have by this time painfully travelled through. God love you,
Coleridge, and prosper you through life! though mine will be loss if
your lot is to be cast at Bristol, or at Nottingham, or anywhere but
London. Our loves to Mrs. C - . C. L.

[1] Lapland mountains. From Coleridge's "Destiny of Nations."

[2] The "Monody" referred to was by Cottle, and appeared in a volume of
poems published by him at Bristol in 1795. Coleridge had forwarded the
book to Lamb for his opinion.

[3] The Monody on Chatterton.

[4] Dr. Faustus's.


IV.


TO COLERIDGE,

_June_ 14, 1796,

I am not quite satisfied now with the Chatterton, [1] and with your leave
will try my hand at it again. A master-joiner, you know, may leave a
cabinet to be finished, when his own hands are full. To your list of
illustrative personifications, into which a fine imagination enters, I
will take leave to add the following from Beaumont and Fletcher's "Wife
for a Month;" 'tis the conclusion of a description of a sea-fight: "The
game of _death_ was never played so nobly; the meagre thief grew wanton
in his mischiefs, and his shrunk, hollow eyes smiled on his ruins."
There is fancy in these of a lower order from "Bonduca": "Then did I see
these valiant men of Britain, like boding owls creep into tods of ivy,
and hoot their fears to one another nightly." Not that it is a
personification, only it just caught my eye in a little extract-book I
keep, which is full of quotations from B. and F. in particular, in which
authors I can't help thinking there is a greater richness of poetical
fancy than in any one, Shakspeare excepted. Are you acquainted with
Massinger? At a hazard I will trouble you with a passage from a play of
his called "A Very Woman." The lines are spoken by a lover (disguised)
to his faithless mistress. You will remark the fine effect of the
double endings.

You will by your ear distinguish the lines, for I write 'em as prose.
"Not far from where my father lives, _a lady_, a neighbor by, blest with
as great a _beauty_ as Nature durst bestow without _undoing_, dwelt, and
most happily, as I thought then, and blest the house a thousand times
she _dwelt_ in. This beauty, in the blossom of my youth, when my first
fire knew no adulterate _incense_, nor I no way to flatter but my
_fondness_; in all the bravery my friends could _show me_, in all the
faith my innocence could _give me_, in the best language my true tongue
could _tell me_, and all the broken sighs my sick heart _lend me_, I
sued and served; long did I serve this _lady_, long was my travail, long
my trade to _win her_; with all the duty of my soul I SERVED HER." "Then
she must love." "She did, but never me: she could not _love me_; she
would not love, she hated, - more, she _scorned me_; and in so a poor and
base a way _abused me_ for all my services, for all my _bounties_, so
bold neglects flung on me." "What out of love, and worthy love, I _gave
her_ (shame to her most unworthy mind!), to fools, to girls, to fiddlers
and her boys she flung, all in disdain of me." One more passage strikes
my eye from B. and F.'s "Palamon and Arcite." One of 'em complains in
prison: "This is all our world; we shall know nothing here but one
another, hear nothing but the clock that tells us our woes; the vine
shall grow, but we shall never see it," etc. Is not the last
circumstance exquisite? I mean not to lay myself open by saying they
exceed Milton, and perhaps Collins in sublimity. But don't you conceive
all poets after Shakspeare yield to 'em in variety of genius? Massinger
treads close on their heels; but you are most probably as well
acquainted with his writings as your humble servant. My quotations, in
that case, will only serve to expose my barrenness of matter. Southey in
simplicity and tenderness is excelled decidedly only, I think, by
Beaumont and F. in his "Maid's Tragedy," and some parts of "Philaster"
in particular, and elsewhere occasionally; and perhaps by Cowper in his
"Crazy Kate," and in parts of his translation, such as the speeches of
Hecuba and Andromache. I long to know your opinion of that translation.
The Odyssey especially is surely very Homeric. What nobler than the
appearance of Phoebus at the beginning of the Iliad, - the lines ending
with "Dread sounding, bounding on the silver bow!"

I beg you will give me your opinion of the translation; it afforded me
high pleasure. As curious a specimen of translation as ever fell into my
hands, is a young man's in our office, of a French novel. What in the
original was literally "amiable delusions of the fancy," he proposed, to
render "the fair frauds of the imagination." I had much trouble in
licking the book into any meaning at all. Yet did the knave clear fifty
or sixty pounds by subscription and selling the copyright. The book
itself not a week's work! To-day's portion of my journalizing epistle
has been very dull and poverty-stricken. I will here end.

_Tuesday night_,

I have been drinking egg-hot and smoking Oronooko (associated
circumstances, which ever forcibly recall to my mind our evenings and
nights at the "Salutation"). My eyes and brain are heavy and asleep, but
my heart is awake; and if words came as ready as ideas, and ideas as
feelings, I could say ten hundred kind things. Coleridge, you know not
my supreme happiness at having one on earth (though counties separate
us) whom I can call a friend. Remember you those tender lines
of Logan? -

"Our broken friendships we deplore,
And loves of youth that are no more;
No after friendships e'er can raise
Th' endearments of our early days,
And ne'er the heart such fondness prove,
As when we first began to love."

I am writing at random, and half-tipsy, what you may not _equally_
understand, as you will be sober when you read it; but _my_ sober and
_my_ half-tipsy hours you are alike a sharer in. Good night.

"Then up rose our bard, like a prophet in drink,
Craigdoroch, thou'lt soar when creation shall sink."

BURNS.

[1] Coleridge's "Monody" on Chatterton.


V.


TO COLERIDGE.

_September_ 27, 1796.

My Dearest Friend, - White, or some of my friends, or the public papers,
by this time may have informed you of the terrible calamities that have
fallen on our family. I will only give you the outlines: My poor dear,
dearest sister, in a fit of insanity, has been the death of her own
mother. I was at hand only time enough to snatch the knife out of her
grasp. She is at present in a madhouse, from whence I fear she must be
moved to an hospital. God has preserved to me my senses, - I eat, and
drink, and sleep, and have my judgment, I believe, very sound. My poor
father was slightly wounded, and I am left to take care of him and my
aunt. Mr, Norris, of the Blue-coat School, has been very kind to us, and
we have no other friend; but, thank God, I am very calm and composed,
and able to do the best that remains to do. Write as religious a letter
as possible, but no mention of what is gone and done with. With me "the
former things are passed away," and I have something more to do than
to feel.

God Almighty have us all in his keeping!

C. LAMB.

Mention nothing of poetry. I have destroyed every vestige of past
vanities of that kind. Do as you please, but if you publish, publish
mine (I give free leave) without name or initial, and never send me a
book, I charge you.

Your own judgment will convince you not to take any notice of this yet
to your dear wife. You look after your family; I have my reason and
strength left to take care of mine. I charge you, don't think of coming
to see me. Write. I will not see you, if you come, God Almighty love you
and all of us!

C. LAMB.


VI.


TO COLERIDGE.

_October_ 3, 1796.

My dearest friend, - Your letter was an inestimable treasure to me. It
will be a comfort to you, I know, to know that our prospects are
somewhat brighter. My poor dear, dearest sister, the unhappy and
unconscious instrument of the Almighty's judgments on our house, is
restored to her senses, to a dreadful sense and recollection of what has
past, awful to her mind and impressive (as it must be to the end of
life), but tempered with religious resignation and the reasonings of a
sound judgment, which in this early stage knows how to distinguish
between a deed committed in a transient fit of frenzy, and the terrible
guilt of a mother's murder. I have seen her. I found her, this morning,
calm and serene; far, very, very far, from an indecent, forgetful
serenity. She has a most affectionate and tender concern for what has
happened. Indeed, from the beginning, frightful and hopeless as her
disorder seemed, I had confidence enough in her strength of mind and
religious principle to look forward to a time when _even she_ might
recover tranquillity. God be praised, Coleridge, wonderful as it is to
tell, I have never once been otherwise than collected and calm; even on
the dreadful day and in the midst of the terrible scene, I preserved a
tranquillity which bystanders may have construed into indifference, - a
tranquillity not of despair. Is it folly or sin in me to say that it was
a religious principle that _most_ supported me? I allow much to other
favorable circumstances. I felt that I had something else to do than to
regret. On that first evening my aunt was lying insensible, to all
appearance like one dying; my father with his poor forehead plastered
over, from a wound he had received from a daughter dearly loved by him,
and who loved him no less dearly; my mother a dead and murdered corpse
in the next room, - yet was I wonderfully supported, I dosed not my eyes
in sleep that night, but lay without terrors and without despair, I have
lost no sleep since, I had been long used not to rest in things of
sense, - had endeavored after a comprehension of mind unsatisfied with
the "ignorant present time;" and _this_ kept me up. I had the whole
weight of the family thrown on me; for my brother, [1] little disposed (I
speak not without tenderness for him) at any time to take care of old
age and infirmities, had now, with his bad leg, an exemption from such
duties; and I was now left alone.

One little incident may serve to make you understand my way of managing
my mind, Within a day or two after the fatal one, we dressed for dinner
a tongue which we had had salted for some weeks in the house. As I sat
down, a feeling like remorse struck me: this tongue poor Mary got for
me, and can I partake of it now, when she is far away? A thought
occurred and relieved me; if I give in to this way of feeling, there is
not a chair, a room, an object in our rooms, that will not awaken the
keenest griefs; I must rise above such weaknesses. I hope this was not
want of true feeling. I did not let this carry me, though, too far. On
the very second day (I date from the day of horrors), as is usual in
such cases, there were a matter of twenty people, I do think, supping in
our room; they prevailed on me to eat _with them_ (for to eat I never
refused). They were all making merry in the room! Some had come from
friendship, some from busy curiosity, and some from interest. I was
going to partake with them, when my recollection came that my poor dead
mother was lying in the next room, - the very next room; a mother who
through life wished nothing but her children's welfare. Indignation, the
rage of grief, something like remorse, rushed upon my mind. In an agony
of emotion I found my, way mechanically to the adjoining room, and fell
on my knees by the side of her coffin, asking forgiveness of Heaven, and
sometimes of her, for forgetting her so soon. Tranquillity returned, and
it was the only violent emotion that mastered me; and I think it did
me good.

I mention these things because I hate concealment, and love to give a
faithful journal of what passes within me. Our friends have been very
good. Sam Le Grice, [2] who was then in town, was with me the three or
four first days, and was as a brother to me, gave up every hour of his
time, to the very hurting of his health and spirits, in constant
attendance and humoring my poor father; talked with him, read to him,
played at cribbage with him (for so short is the old man's recollection
that he was playing at cards, as though nothing had happened, while the
coroner's inquest was sitting over the way!). Samuel wept tenderly when
he went away, for his mother wrote him a very severe letter on his
loitering so long in town, and he was forced to go. Mr. Norris, of
Christ's Hospital, has been as a father to me, Mrs. Norris as a mother,
though we had few claims on them. A gentleman, brother to my god-mother,
from whom we never had right or reason to expect any such assistance,
sent my father twenty pounds; and to crown all these God's blessings to
our family at such a time, an old lady, a cousin of my father and
aunt's, a gentlewoman of fortune, is to take my aunt and make her
comfortable for the short remainder of her days. My aunt is recovered,
and as well as ever, and highly pleased at thoughts of going, and has
generously given up the interest of her little money (which was formerly
paid my father for her board) wholely and solely to my sister's use.
Reckoning this, we have, Daddy and I, for oar two selves and an old
maid-servant to look after him when I am out, which will be necessary,
£170, or £180 rather, a year, out of which we can spare £50 or £60 at
least for Mary while she stays at Islington, where she roust and shall
stay during her father's life, for his and her comfort. I know John will
make speeches about it, but she shall not go into an hospital. The good
lady of the madhouse and her daughter, an elegant, sweet-behaved young
lady, love her, and are taken with her amazingly; and I know from her
own mouth she loves them, and longs to be with them as much. Poor thing,
they say she was but the other morning saying she knew she must go to
Bethlem for life; that one of her brothers would have it so, but the
other would wish it not, but be obliged to go with the stream; that she
had often, as she passed Bethlem, thought it likely, "here it may be my
fate to end my days," conscious of a certain flightiness in her poor
head oftentimes, and mindful of more than one severe illness of that
nature before. A legacy of £100 which my father will have at Christmas,
and this £20 I mentioned before, with what is in the house, will much
more than set us clear. If my father, an old servant-maid, and I can't
live, and live comfortably, on £130 or £120 a year, we ought to burn by
slow fires; and I almost would, that Mary might not go into an hospital.

Let me not leave one unfavorable impression on your mind respecting my
brother. Since this has happened, he has been very kind and brotherly;
but I fear for his mind. He has taken his ease in the world, and is not
fit himself to struggle with difficulties, nor has much accustomed
himself to throw himself into their way; and I know his language is
already, "Charles, you must take care of yourself, you must not abridge
yourself of a single pleasure you have been used to," etc., and in that
style of talking. But you, a necessarian, can respect a difference of
mind, and love what _is amiable_ in a character not perfect. He has been
very good, but I fear for his mind. Thank God, I can unconnect myself
with him, and shall manage all my father's moneys in future myself, if I
take charge of Daddy, which poor John has not even hinted a wish, at any
future time even, to share with me. The lady at this madhouse assures me
that I may dismiss immediately both doctor and apothecary, retaining
occasionally a composing draught or so for a while; and there is a less
expensive establishment in her house, where she will only not have a
room and nurse to herself, for £50 or guineas a year, - the outside would
be £60. You know, by economy, how much more even I shall be able to
spare for her comforts. She will, I fancy, if she stays, make one of the
family rather than of the patients; and the old and young ladies I like
exceedingly, and she loves dearly; and they, as the saying is, take to
her very extraordinarily, if it is extraordinary that people who see my
sister should love her.

Of all the people I ever saw in the world, my poor sister was most and
thoroughly devoid of the least tincture of selfishness, I will enlarge
upon her qualities, poor dear, dearest soul, in a future letter, for my
own comfort, for I understand her thoroughly; and if I mistake not, in
the most trying situation that a human being can be found in, she will
be found (I speak not with sufficient humility, I fear, but humanly and
foolishly speaking), - she will be found, I trust, uniformly great and
amiable. God keep her in her present mind, to whom be thanks and praise
for all His dispensations to mankind!

C. LAMB.

These mentioned good fortunes and change of prospects had almost brought
my mind over to the extreme the very opposite to despair. I was in
danger of making myself too happy. Your letter brought me back to a view
of things which I had entertained from the beginning. I hope (for Mary I
can answer) - but I hope that _I_ shall through life never have less
recollection, nor a fainter impression, of what has happened than I have
now. 'T is not a light thing, nor meant by the Almighty to be received
lightly. I must be serious, circumspect, and deeply religious through
life; and by such means may _both_ of us escape madness in future, if it
so please the Almighty!

Send me word how it fares with Sara. I repeat it, your letter was, and
will be, an inestimable treasure to me. You have a view of what my
situation demands of me, like my own view, and I trust a just one.

Coleridge, continue to write, but do not forever offend me by talking of
sending me cash. Sincerely and on my soul, we do not want it. God
love you both!

I will write again very soon. Do you write directly.

[1] John Lamb, the "James Elia" of the essay "My Relations."

[2] A Christ's Hospital schoolfellow.


VII.


TO COLERIDGE,

_October_ 17, 1796.

My dearest friend, - I grieve from my very soul to observe you in your
plans of life veering about from this hope to the other, and settling
nowhere. Is it an untoward fatality (speaking humanly) that does this
for you, - a stubborn, irresistible concurrence of events, - or lies the
fault, as I fear it does, in your own mind? You seem to be taking up
splendid schemes of fortune only to lay them down again; and your
fortunes are an _ignis fatuus_ that has been conducting you in thought
from Lancaster Court, Strand, to somewhere near Matlock; then jumping
across to Dr. Somebody's, whose son's tutor you were likely to be; and
would to God the dancing demon _may_ conduct you at last in peace and
comfort to the "life and labours of a cottager"! You see from the above
awkward playfulness of fancy that my spirits are not quite depressed. I
should ill deserve God's blessings, which, since the late terrible
event, have come down in mercy upon us, if I indulge in regret or
querulousness. Mary continues serene and cheerful. I have not by me a
little letter she wrote to me; for though I see her almost every day,
yet we delight to write to one another, for we can scarce see each other
but in company with some of the people of the house. I have not the
letter by me, but will quote from memory what she wrote in it: "I have
no bad, terrifying dreams. At midnight, when I happen to awake, the
nurse sleeping by the side of me, with the noise of the poor mad people
around me, I have no fear. The spirit of my mother seems to descend and
smile upon me, and bid me live to enjoy the life and reason which the
Almighty has given me. I shall see her again in heaven; she will then
understand me better. My grandmother, too, will understand me better,
and will then say no more, as she used to do, 'Polly, what are those
poor crazy, moythered brains of yours thinking of always?'" Poor Mary!
my mother indeed _never understood_ her right. She loved her, as she
loved us all, with a mother's love; but in opinion, in feeling and
sentiment and disposition, bore so distant a resemblance to her daughter
that she never understood her right, - never could believe how much _she_
loved her, but met her caresses, her protestations of filial affection,
too frequently with coldness and repulse. Still, she was a good mother.
God forbid I should think of her but _most_ respectfully, _most_
affectionately. Yet she would always love my brother above Mary, who was
not worthy of one tenth of that affection which Mary had a right to
claim. But it is my sister's gratifying recollection that every act of
duty and of love she could pay, every kindness (and I speak true, when I
say to the hurting of her health, and most probably in great part to the
derangement of her senses) through a long course of infirmities and
sickness she could show her, she ever did. I will some day, as I
promised, enlarge to you upon my sister's excellences; 't will seem like
exaggeration, but I will do it. At present, short letters suit my state
of mind best. So take my kindest wishes for your comfort and
establishment in life, and for Sara's welfare and comforts with you. God
love you; God love us all!

C. LAMB.


VIII.


TO COLERIDGE.

_November_ 14, 1796.

Coleridge, I love you for dedicating your poetry to Bowles. [1] Genius of
the sacred fountain of tears, it was he who led you gently by the hand
through all this valley of weeping, showed you the dark green yew-trees
and the willow shades where, by the fall of waters, you might indulge in
uncomplaining melancholy, a delicious regret for the past, or weave fine
visions of that awful future, -

"When all the vanities of life's brief day
Oblivion's hurrying hand hath swept away,
And all its sorrows, at the awful blast
Of the archangel's trump, are but as shadows past."

I have another sort of dedication in my head for my few things, which I
want to know if you approve of and can insert. [2] I mean to inscribe
them to my sister. It will be unexpected, and it will gire her pleasure;
or do you think it will look whimsical at all? As I have not spoke to
her about it, I can easily reject the idea. But there is a monotony in
the affections which people living together, or as we do now, very
frequently seeing each other, are apt to give in to, - a sort of
indifference in the expression of kindness for each other, which demands
that we should sometimes call to our aid the trickery of surprise. Do
you publish with Lloyd, or without him? In either case my little portion
may come last, and after the fashion of orders to a country
correspondent, I will give directions how I should like to have 'em
done. The title-page to stand thus: -


POEMS

BY CHARLES LAMB, OF THE INDIA HOUSE.

Under this title the following motto, which, for want of room, I put
over-leaf, and desire you to insert whether you like it or no. May not a
gentleman choose what arms, mottoes, or armorial bearings the herald
will give him leave, without consulting his republican friend, who might
advise none? May not a publican put up the sign of the Saracen's Head,
even though his undiscerning neighbor should prefer, as more genteel,
the Cat and Gridiron?

[MOTTO.]

"This beauty, in the blossom of my youth,
When my first fire knew no adulterate incense,


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