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culous and silencing. It could not be gainsaid.



LETTERS TO EDITOR.



TO THE EDITOR OF THE *' TABLE BOOK."

Dear Sir, — Somebody has fairly played a hoax on
you (I suspect that pleasant rogue M-x-n) in sending
the sonnet in my name, inserted in your last Number.
True it is that I must own to the verses being mine,
but not written on the occasion there pretended ; for
I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the lady in
the part of Emmeline, and I have understood that the
force of her acting in it is rather in the expression of
new-born sight than of the previous want of it. The
lines were really written upon her performance in the
Blind Boy, and appeared in the Morning Chronicle
some years back. I suppose our facetious friend
thought that they would serve again, like an old coat
new turned.

Yours, (and his nevertheless,)

C. Lamb.



TO THE EDITOR OF THE " TABLE BOOK.

Sir, — A correspondent in your last Number rather
hastily asserts that there is no other authority than
Davenport's tragedy for the poisoning of Matilda by
King John. It oddly enough happens, that ia the
same Number appears an extract from a play of Hey-
wood's, of an older date, in two parts ; in which play
the fact of such poisoning, as well as her identity



LETTERS. 247

with Maid Marian, are equally established. Michael
Drayton also hath a legend, confirmatory (as far as
poetical authority can go) of the violent manner of
her death. But neither he nor Davenport confounds
her v/ith Robin's mistress. Besides the named
authorities, old Fuller (I think) somewhere relates, as
matter of chronicle history, that, old Fit2walter (he
is called Fitzwater both in Heywood and in Daven-
port) being banished after his daughter's murder
(some years subsequently) King John, at a tourna-
ment in France, being delighted with the valiant
bearing of a combatant in the lists, and inquiring his
name, was told that it was his old faithful servant,
Fitzwalter, who desired nothing more heartily than
to be reconciled to his liege ; and an affecting recon-
ciliation followed. In the common collection called
" Robin Hood's Garland " (I have not seen Ritson's),
no mention is made, if I remember, of the nobility
of Marian. Is she not the daughter of plain Squire
Gamwell of Old Gamwell Hall. Sorry that I cannot
gratify the curiosity of your " disembodied spirit "
(who, as such, is, methinks, sufficiently " veiled "
from our notice) with more authentic testimonies,
I rest,

Your humble abstracter,

C. L.



POEMS.



DEDICATION

TO

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.



My dear Coleridge, — You will smile to see the
slender labours of your friend designated by the
title of Works : but such was the wish of the gentle-
men who have kindly undertaken the trouble of
collecting them, and from their judgment could be
no appeal.

It would be a kind of disloyalty to offer any one but
yourself a volume containing the early pieces, which
were first published among your poems, and were
fairly derivatives from you and them. My friend
Lloyd and myself came into our first battle (authorship
is a sort of warfare) under cover of the greater Ajax.
How this association, which shall always be a dear
and proud recollection to me, came to be broken, —
who snapped the threefold cord, — whether yourself
(but I know that was not the case) grew ashamed of
your former companions, — or whether (which is by
much the more probable) some ungracious bookseller
was author of the separation, — I cannot tell ; — but
wanting the support of your friendly elm (I speak for
myself), my vine has, since that time, put forth few or
no fruits ; the sap (if ever it had any) has become, in
a manner, dried up and extinct : and you will find



DEDICATION TO COLERIDGE. 25 1

your old associate, in his second volume, dwindled
into prose and criticism.

Am I right in assuming this as the cause? or is it
that, as years come upon us (except with some more
healthy-happy spirits), life itself loses much of its
poetry for us ? we transcribe but what we read in the
great volume of Nature ; and, as the characters grow
dim, we turn off, and look another way. You yourself
write no Christabels, nor Ancient Mariners, now.

Some of the Sonnets, which shall be carelessly
turned over by the general reader, may happily awaken
in you remembrances, which I should be sorry should
be ever totally extinct — the memory — •

Of summer days and of delightful years —

even so far back as to those old suppers at our old
********* Inn, — when life was fresh, and topics ex-
haustless, — and you first kindled in me, if not the
power, yet the love of poetry, and beauty, and kindli-
ness —

What words have I heard
Spoke at the Mermaid !

The world has given you many a shrewd nip and
gird since that time, but either my eyes are grown
dimmer, or my old friend is the sam^, who stood before
me three-and-twenty years ago — his hair a little con-
fessing the hand of time, but still shrouding the same
capacious brain, — his heart not altered, scarcely where
it " alteration finds."

One piece, Coleridge, I have ventured to publish
in its original form, though I have heard you complain
of a certain over-imitation of the a\)tique in the style.
If I could see any way of getting rid of the objection,
without re-writing it entirely, I would make some



252 DEDICATION TO COLERIDGE.

sacritices. But when I wrote John Woodvil, I never
proposed to myself any distinct deviation from common
English. I had been newly initiated in the writings
of our elder dramatists ; Beaumont and Fletcher, and
Massinger, were then a first love ; and from what I
was so freshly conversant in, what wonder if my
language imperceptibly took a tinge ? The very time,
which I had chosen for my story, that which immedi-
ately followed the Restoration, seemed to require, in an
English play, that the English should be of rather an
Older cast, than that of the precise year in which it
happened to be written. I wish it had not some
faults, which I can less vindicate than the language.

I remain, my dear Coleridge,

Yours, with unabated esteem,

Charles Lamb.



THE WIFE'S TRIAL ;

OR,

THE INTRUDING WIDOW.

A DRAMATIC POEM.

rOONDED ON MR. CRABBe's TALE OF " THE CONFIDANT."



CHARACTERS.

Mr. Selby, a Wiltshire Gentleman. I Lucy, Sister to Selby.

Katherine, Wife to Selby. \ Mrs. Frampton, A Widow.

Servants.
Scene.— ^< Mr. Selby's House, or in the grounds adjacent.



Scene — A Library.

Mr. Selby. ICatherine.

Selby. Do not too far mistake me, gentlest wife ;
I meant to chide your virtues, not yourself,
And those too with allowance. I have not
Been blest by thy fair side with five white years
Of smooth and even wedlock, now to touch
With any strain of harshness on a string
Hath yielded me such music. 'Twas the quality
Of a too grateful nature in my Katherine,
That to the lame performance of some vows,
And common courtesies of man to wife,
Attributing too much, hath sometimes seem'd
To esteem as favours, what in that blest union
Are but reciprocal and trivial dues.
As fairly yours as mine : 'twas this I thought
Gently to reprehend.



254 THE WIFE S TRIAL ; OR,

Kath. In friendship's barter

The riches we exchange should hold some level,
And corresponding worth. Jewels for toys
Demand some thanks thrown in. You took me, sir,
To that blest haven of my peace, your bosom.
An orphan founder'd in the world's black storm.
Poor, you have made me rich ; from lonely maiden,
Your cherish'd and your full-accompanied wife.

Selby. But to divert the subject : Kate too fond,
I would not wrest your meanings ; else that word
Accompanied, and full-accompanied too.
Might raise a doubt in some men, that their wives
Haply did think their company too long ;
And over-company, we know by proof,
Is worse than no attendance.

Kath. I must guess,

You speak this of the Widow —

Selby. 'Twas a bolt

At random shot ; but if it hit, believe me,
I am most sorry to have wounded you
Through a friend's side. I know not how we have

swerved
From our first talk. I was to caution you
Against this fault of a too grateful nature :
Which, for some girlish obligations past,
In that relenting season of the heart,
When slightest favours pass for benefits
Of endless binding, would entail upon you
An iron slavery of obsequious duty
To the proud will of an imperious woman.

Kath. The favours are not slight to her I owe.

Selby. Slight or not slight, the tribute she exacts
Cancels all dues — [A voice within.

even now I hear her call you



THE INTRUDING WIDOW. 255

In such a tone, as lordliest mistresses
Expect a slave's attendance. Prithee, Kate,
Let her expect a brace of minutes or so.
Say you are busy. Use her by degrees
To some less hard exactions.

Kath. I conjure you,

Detain me not. I will return —

Selhy. Sweet wife,

Use thy own pleasure — \^Exit Katherine.

but it troubles me.
A visit of three days, as was pretended,
Spun to ten tedious weeks, and no hint given
When she will go ! I would this buxom Widow
Were a thought handsomer 1 I'd fairly try
My Katherine's constancy ; make desperate love
In seeming earnest ; and raise up such broils.
That she, not I, should be the first to warn
The insidious guest depart.

Re-enter Katherine.

So soon return'd f
What was our Widow's will ?

Kath. A trifle, sir.

Selby. Some toilet service — to adjust her head.
Or help to stick a pin in the right place —

Kath. Indeed 'twas none of these.

Selhy. Or new vamp up

The tarnish'd cloak she came in. I have seen her
Demand such service from thee, as her maid,
Twice told to do it, would blush angry-red.
And pack her few clothes up. Poor fool ! fond

slave !
And yet my dearest Kate ! — This day at least
(It is our wedding day) we spend in freedom.



256 THE wife's trial ; OR,

And will forget our Widow. — Philip, our coach —

Why weeps my wife ? You know, I promised you

An airing o'er the pleasant Hampshire downs

To the blest cottage on the green hill side.

Where first I told my love. I wonder much

If the crimson parlour hath exchanged its hue

For colours not so welcome. Faded though it be.,

It will not show less lovely than the tinge

Of this faint red, contending with the pale,

Where once the full-flush'd health gave to this cheek

An apt resemblance to the fruit's warm side,

That bears my Katherine's name. —

Our carriage, Philip.

Enter a Ser'vant.
Now, Robin, what make you here ?

Servant. May it please you,

The coachman has driven out with Mrs. Frampton.

Selby. He had no orders —

Servant. None, sir, that I know of,

But from the lady, who expects some letter
At the next Post Town.

Selby. Go, Robin. {^Exit Servant.

How is this ?

Kath. I came to tell you so, but fear'd your
anger —

Selby. It was ill done though of this Mistress
Frampton,
This forward Widow. But a ride's poor loss
Imports not much. In to your chamber, love,
Where you with music may beguile the hour.
While I am tossing over dusty tomes,
Till our most reasonable friend returns.

Kath. I am all obedience. [Exit Katherine.

Selby. Too obedient, Kate,



I



THE INTRUDING WIDOW. 257

And to too many masters. I can hardly
On such a day as this refrain to speak
My sense of this injurious friend, this pest,
This household evil, this close-clinging fiend,
In rough terms to my wife. 'Death, my own ser-
vants
Controll'd above me ! orders countermanded 1
What next ? [Servant enters and announces the Sister.

Enter Luct.

Sister ! I know you are come to welcome
This day's return, 'Twas well done.

Liicy. You seem ruffled.

In years gone by this day was used to be
The smoothest of the year. Your honey turn'd
So soon to gall ?

Selby. Gall'd am I, and with cause,

And rid to death, yet cannot get a riddance,
Nay, scarce a ride, by this proud Widow's leave.

Lucy. Something you wrote me of a Mistress
Frampton.

Selby. She came at first a meek admitted guest,
Pretending a short stay ; her whole deportment
Seem'd as of one obliged. A slender trunk.
The wardrobe of her scant and ancient clothing.
Bespoke no more. But in few days her dress.
Her looks, were proudly changed. And now she

flaunts it
In jewels stolen or borrow'd from my wife ;
Who owes her some strange service, of what nature
I must be kept in ignorance. Katherine's meek
And gentle spirit cowers beneath her eye.
As spell-bound by some witch.

Lucy. Some mystery hangs on it.

VOL. VI. t;



258 THE wife's trial ; OR,

How bears she in her carriage towards yourself ?

Selby. As one who fears, and yet not greatly cares
For my displeasure. Sometimes I have thought,
A secret glance would tell me she could love,
If I but gave encouragement. Before me
She keeps some moderation ; but is never
Closeted with my wife, but in the end
I find my Katherine in briny tears.
From the small chamber where she first was lodged,
The gradual fiend by specious wriggling arts
Has now ensconced herself in the best part
Of this large mansion ; calls the left wing her own ;
Commands my servants, equipage. — I hear
Her hated tread. What makes she back so soon ?

Enter Mrs. Frampton.

Mrs. F. O, I am jolter'd, bruised, and shook to
death,
With your vile Wiltshire roads. The villain Philip
Chose, on my conscience, the perversest tracks.
And stoniest hard lanes in all the county,
Till I was fain get out, and so walk back.
My errand unperform'd at Andover.

Lucy. And I shall love the knave for ever after,

\_Aside.

Mrs. F. A friend with you 1

Selby. My eldest sister, Lucy,

Come to congratulate this returning morn. —
Sister, my wife's friend, Mistress Frampton.

Mrs. F. Pray

Be seated, for your brother's sake, you are welcome.
I had thought this day to have spent in homely

fashion
With the good couple, to whose hcspitality



THE INTRUDING WIDOW. 259

I Stand so far indebted. But your coming
Makes it a feast.

Lucy. She does the honours naturally —

\_Aside.

Selby. As if she were the mistress of the house —

\^ A side.

Mrs. F. I love to be at home with loving friends.
To stand on ceremony with obligations,
Is to restrain the obliger. That old coach, though,
Of yours jumbles one strangely.

Selby. I shall order

An equipage soon, more easy to you, madam —

Lucy. To drive her and her pride to Lucifer,
I hope he means. [Aside.

Mrs. F. I must go trim myself; this humbled
garb
Would shame a wedding feast. I have your leave
For a short absence ? — and your Katherine —

Selby. You'll find her in her closet —

Mrs. F. Fare you well, then.

lExit.

Selby. How like you her assurance ?

Lucy. Even so well,

That if this Widow were my guest, not yours,
She should have coach enough, and scope to ride.
My merry groom should in a trice convey her
To Sarum Plain, and set her down at Stonehenge,
To pick her path through those antiques at leisure ;
She should take sample of our Wiltshire flints.
O, be not lightly jealous ! nor surmise.
That to a wanton bold-faced thing like this
Your modest shrinking Katherine could impart
Secrets of any worth, especially
Secrets that touch'd your peace. If there be aught



26o THE wife's TRIAL ; OR,

My life upon't 'tis but some girlish story

Of a First Love ; which even the boldest wife

Might modestly deny to a husband's ear,

Much more your timid and too sensitive Katherine.

Selhy. I think it is no more ; and will dismiss
My further fears, if ever I have had such.

Lucy. Shall we go walk ? I'd see your gardens,
brother ;
And how the new trees thrive, I recommended.
Your Katherine is engaged now —

Selhy. I'll attend you.

\^Exeunt.

Scene — Servants' Hall.
Housekeeper, Philip, and others, laughing.

Housekeeper. Our Lady's guest, since her short
ride, seems ruffled,
And somewhat in disorder. Philip, Philip,
I do suspect some roguery. Your mad tricks
Will some day cost you a good place, I warrant.

Philip. Good Mistress Jane, our serious house-
keeper,
And sage Duenna to the maids and scullions,
We must have leave to laugh ; our brains are

younger,
And undisturb'd with care of keys and pantries.
We are wild things.

Biitler. Good Philip, tell us all.

All. Ay, as you live, tell, tell —

Philip. Mad fellows, you shall have it.
The Widow's bell rang lustily and loud —

Butler. I think that no one can mistake her
ringing.



THE INTRUDING WIDOW. 26 1

Waiting-maid. Our Lady's ring is soft sweet
music to it,
More of entreaty hath it than command.

Philip. I lose my story, if you interrupt me thus.
The bell, I say, rang fiercely ; and a voice
More shrill than bell, call'd out for " Coachman

Philip !"
I straight obey'd, as 'tis my name and office.
" Drive me," quoth she, ** to the next market town.
Where I have hope of letters." I made haste ;
Put to the horses, saw her safely coach'd,
And drove her —

Waiting-maid. By the straight high road to
Andover,
I guess —

Philip. Pray, warrant things within your know
ledge,
Good Mistress Abigail ; look to your dressings.
And leave the skill in horses to the coachman.

Butler. He'll have his humour ; best not interrupt
him.

Philip. 'Tis market day, thought I ; and the poor
beasts.
Meeting such droves of cattle and of people,
May take a fright ; so down the lane I trundled.
Where Goodman Dobson's crazy mare was founder'd,
And where the flints were biggest, and ruts widest,
By ups and downs, and such bone-cracking motions
We flounder'd on a furlong, till my madam.
In policy, to save the few joints left her,
Betook her to her feet, and there we parted.

All. Ha! ha! ha!

Butler. Hang her, 'tis pity such as she should
ride.



-62 THE wife's trial ; OR,



Waiting-maid. I think she is a witch ; I have
tired myself out
With sticking pins in her pillow; still she 'scapes
them —
Butler. And I with helping her to mum for claret,
But never yet could cheat her dainty palate.
Housekeeper. Well, well, she is the guest of our
good Mistress,
And so should be respected. Though I think
Our Master cares not for her company,
He would ill brook we should express so much
By rude discourtesies, and short attendance,
Being but servants. {A Bell rings furiously .)

'Tis her bell speaks now ;
Good, good, bestir yourselves : who knows who's
wanted ?
Butler. But 'twas a merry trick of Philip coach-
man. [Exeunt.

Scene. — 2Irs. Selby's Chamber.
Mrs. Frampton, Katherine, ivorking.

Mrs. F. I am thinking, child, how contrary our
fates
Have traced our lots through life. — Another needle.
This works untowardly. — An heiress born
To splendid prospects, at our common school
I was as one above you all, not of you ;
Had my distinct prerogatives ; my freedoms.
Denied to you. Pray listen —

Kath. I must hear

What you are pleased to speak — how my heart sinks
here ! [Aside.

Mrs. F. My chamber to myself, my separate maid.
My coach, and so forth. — Not that needle, simple one.



THE INTRUDING WIDOW. 263

With the great staring eye fit for a Cyclops !
Mine- own are not so bhnded with their griefs,
But I could make a shift to thread a smaller.
A cable or a camel might go through this,
And never strain for the passage.

Kath. I will fit you. —

Intolerable tyranny ! \_Aside.

Mrs. F. Quick, quick;

You were not once so slack. — As I was saying.
Not a young thing among ye but observed me
Above the mistress. Who but I was sought to
In all your dangers, all your little difficulties.
Your girlish scrapes ? I was the scape-goat still,
To fetch you off; kept all your secrets, some,
Perhaps, since then —

Kath. No more of that, for mercy,

If you'd not have me, sinking at your feet.
Cleave the cold earth for comfort. [Kneels,

Mrs. F. This to me ?

This posture to your friend had better suited
The orphan Katherine in her humble school-days
To the then rich heiress, than the wife of Selby,
Of wealthy Mr. Selby,

To the poor widow Frampton, sunk as she is.
Come, come,

'Twas something, or 'twas nothing that I said ;
I did not mean to fright you, sweetest bed-fellow !
You once were so, but Selby now engrosses you.
I'll make him give you up a night or so ;
In faith I will : that we may lie, and talk
Old tricks of school-days over.

Kath. Hear me, madam —

Mrs. F. Not by that name. Your friend —



264 THE wife's trial ; OR,

KctvA. My truest friend,

And saviour of my honour !

Mrs. F. This sounds better ;

You still shall find me such.

Kath. That you have graced

Our poor house with your presence hitherto,
Has been my greatest comfort, the sole solace
Of my forlorn and hardly guess'd estate.
You have been pleased
To accept some trivial hospitalities,
In part of payment of a long arrear
I owe to you, no less than for my life.

Mrs. F. You speak my services too large.

Kath. Nay, less ;

For what an abject thing were life to me
Without your silence on my dreadful secret 1
And I would wish the league we have renewed
Might be perpetual —

Mrs. F. Have a care, fine madam !

\_Aside.

Kath. That one house still might hold us. But
my husband
Has shown himself of late —

Mrs. F. How, Mistress Selby!

Kath. Not, not impatient. You misconstrue him,
He honours, and he loves, nay, he must love
The friend of his wife's youth. But there are moods
In which —

Mrs. F. I understand you ; — in which husbands
And wives that love, may wish to be alone.
To nurse the tender fits of new-born dalliance,
After a five years' wedlock.

Kath. Was that well

Or charitably put ? Do these pale cheeks



THE INTRUDING WIDOW.



265



Proclaim a wanton blood ? — this wasting form

Seem a fit theatre for Levity

To play his love-tricks on, and act such follies,

As even in affection's first bland Moon

Have less of grace than pardon in best wedlocks ?

I was about to say, that there are times

When the most frank and sociable man

May surfeit on most loved society,

Preferring loneness rather —

Mys. F. To my company —

Kath. Ay, yours, or mine, or any one's, Nay, take
Not this unto yourself. Even in the newness
Of our first married loves 'twas sometimes so.
For solitude, I have heard my Selby say,
Is to the mind as rest to the corporal functions ;
And he would call it oft, the day's soft sleep.

Mrs. F. What is your drift? and whereto tends
this speech,
Rhetorically labour'd ?

Kath. That you would

Abstain but from our house a month, a week;
Or make request but for a single day.

Mrs. F. A month, a week, a day ! A single hour
Is every week, and month, and the long year,
And all the years to come ! My footing here,
Slipt once, recovers never. From the state
Of gilded roofs, attendance, luxuries,
Parks, gardens, sauntering walks, or wholesome rides,
To the bare cottage on the withering moor,
Where I myself am servant to myself.
Or only waited on by blackest thoughts —
I sink, if this be so. No ; here I sit.

Kath. Then I am lost for ever !

\_Sinks at her feet — curtain drops.



266 THE wife's trial ; OR,

Scene. — An Apartment contiguous to the last.
Selby, as if listening.

Selhy. The sounds have died away. What am I
changed to ?
What do I here, list'ning like to an abject,
Or heartless wittol, that must hear no good.
If he hear aught ? " This shall to the ear of your

husband."
It was the Widow's word. I guess'd some mystery,
And the solution with a vengeance comes.
What can my wife have left untold to me,
That must be told by proxy ? I begin
To call in doubt the course of her life past
Under my very eyes. She hath not been good,
Not virtuous, not discreet ; she hath not outrun
My wishes still with prompt and meek observance.
Perhaps she is not fair, sweet-voiced ; her eyes
Not like the dove's ; all this as well may be,
As that she should entreasure up a secret
In the peculiar closet of her breast,
And grudge it to my ear. It is my right
To claim the halves in any truth she owns,
As much as in the babe I have by her ;
Upon whose face henceforth I fear to look,
Lest I should fancy in its innocent brow
Some strange shame written.

Enter Lucv.
Sister, an anxious word with you.
From out the chamber, where my wife but now
Held talk with her encroaching friend, I heard
(Not of set purpose heark'ning, but by chance)
A voice of chiding, answer'd by a tone
Of replication, such as the meek dove



THE INTRUDING WIDOW. 267

Makes, when the kite has clutch'd her. The high

Widow
Was loud and stormy. I distinctly heard
One threat pronounced — *' Your husband shall know

all."
I am no listener, sister ; and I hold
A secret, got by such unmanly shift,
The pitiful'st of thefts ; but what mine ear,
I not intending it, receives perforce,
I count m.y lawful prize. Some subtle meaning



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