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was much of devotional thought to be violated, many reverential associations, intertwined with the moral being, to be rent away in the struggle of the intellect to grasp the doctrines which were alien to its nurture. But to Lamb these formed the simple creed of his childhood; and slender and barren as they seem, to those who are united in religious sympathy with the great body of their fellow-countrymen, they sufficed for affections which had so strong a tendency to find out resting-places for themselves as his. Those who only knew him in his latter days, and who feel that if ever the spirit of Christianity breathed through a human life, it breathed in his, will, nevertheless, trace with surprise the extraordinary vividness of impressions directly religious, and the self-jealousy with which he watched the cares and distractions of the world, which might efface them, in his first letters. If in a life of ungenial toil, diversified with frequent sorrow, the train of these solemn meditations was broken; if he was led, in the distractions and labours of his course, to cleave more closely to surrounding objects than those early aspirations promised; if, in his cravings after immediate sympathy, he rather sought to perpetuate the social circle which he charmed, than to expatiate in scenes of untried being; his pious feelings were only diverted, not destroyed. The stream glided still, the under current of thought sometimes breaking out in sallies which strangers did not understand, but always feeding and nourishing the most exquisite sweetness of disposition, and the most unobtrusive proofs of self-denying love.

While Lamb was enjoying habits of the closest intimacy with Coleridge in London, he was introduced by him to a young poet whose name has often been associated with hisCharles Lloyd-the son of a wealthy banker at Birmingham, who had recently cast off the trammels of the Society of Friends, and, smitten with the love of poetry, had become a student at the University of Cambridge. There he had been attracted to Coleridge by the fascination of his discourse; and having been admitted to his regard, was introduced by him to Lamb. Lloyd was endeared both to Lamb and Coleridge by a very amiable disposition and a pensive cast of thought; but his intellect bore little resemblance to that of either. He wrote, indeed, pleasing verses and with great facility,

-a facility fatal to excellence; but his mind was chiefly remarkable for the fine power of analysis which distinguishes his "London," and other of his later compositions. In this power of discriminating and distinguishing— carried to a pitch almost of painfulness-Lloyd has scarcely been equalled; and his poems, though rugged in point of versification, will be found by those who will read them with the calm attention they require, replete with critical and moral suggestions of the highest value. He and Coleridge were devoted wholly to literary pursuits; while Lamb's days were given to accounts, and only at snatches of time was he able to cultivate the faculty of which the society of Coleridge had made him imperfectly conscious.

Lamb's first compositions were in verseproduced slowly, at long intervals, and with self-distrust which the encouragements of Coleridge could not subdue. With the exception of a sonnet to Mrs. Siddons, whose acting, especially in the character of Lady Randolph, had made a deep impression upon him, they were exclusively personal. The longest and most elaborate is that beautiful piece of blank verse entitled "The Grandame," in which he so affectionately celebrates the virtues of the "antique world" of the aged housekeeper of Mr. Plumer. A youthful passion, which lasted only a few months, and which he afterwards attempted to regard lightly as a folly past, inspired a few sonnets of very delicate feeling and exquisite music. On the death of his parents, he felt himself called upon by duty to repay to his sister the solicitude with which she had watched over his infancy;—and well indeed he performed it! To her, from the age of twenty-one, he devoted his existence ;seeking thenceforth no connexion which could interfere with her supremacy in his affections, or impair his ability to sustain and to comfort her.

CHAPTER II.
[1796.]

Letters to Coleridge.

In the year 1796, Coleridge, having married, and relinquished his splendid dream of emigration, was resident at Bristol; and Lamb, who had quitted the Temple, and lived with his

father, then sinking into dotage, felt his absence from London bitterly, and sought a correspondence with him as, almost, his only comfort. "In your absence," he writes, in one of the earliest of his letters*, "I feel a stupor which makes me indifferent to the hopes and fears of this life. I sometimes wish to induce a religious turn of mind; but habits are stubborn things, and my religious fervours are confined to some fleeting moments of occasional solitary devotion. A correspondence opening with you has roused me a little from my lethar

"Oct. 24th, 1796.

"Coleridge, I feel myself much your debtor for that spirit of confidence and friendship which dictated your last letter. May your soul find peace at last in your cottage life! I only wish you were but settled. Do continue to write to me. I read your letters with my

gy, and made me conscious of existence. Indulge me in it! I will not be very trouble-sister, and they give us both abundance of delight. Especially they please us two, when you talk in a religious strain,—not but we are offended occasionally with a certain freedom of expression, a certain air of mysticism, more consonant to the conceits of pagan philosophy, than consistent with the humility of genuine piety. To instance now in your last letter,you say, it is by the press, that God hath given finite spirits both evil and good (I suppose you mean simply bad men and good men), a portion as it were of His Omnipresence!' Now, high as the human intellect comparatively will soar, and wide as its influence, malign or salutary, can extend, is there not, Coleridge,

some.” And again, a few days after: "You are the only correspondent, and, I might add, the only friend, I have in the world. I go nowhere, and have no acquaintance. Slow of speech, and reserved of manners, no one seeks or cares for my society, and I am left alone. Coleridge, I devoutly wish that Fortune, which has made sport with you so long, may play one prank more, throw you into London, or some spot near it, and there snugify you for life. 'Tis a selfish, but natural wish for me, cast on

life's plain friendless." These appeals, it may

well be believed, were not made in vain to one

who delighted in the lavish communication of

the riches of his own mind even to strangers; but none of the letters of Coleridge to Lamb

a distance between the Divine Mind and it, which makes such language blasphemy? Again, in your first fine consolatory epistle you say,

have been preserved. He had just published his "Religious Musings," and the glittering enthusiasm of its language excited Lamb's pious feelings, almost to a degree of pain. "I dare not," says he of this poem, " criticise it. I like not to select any part where all is excellent. I can only admire and thank you for it,

in the name of a lover of true poetry—

'you are a temporary sharer in human misery, that you may be an eternal partaker of the Divine Nature.' What more than this do those men say, who are for exalting the man Christ Jesus into the second person of an unknown Trinity,-men, whom you or I scruple not to call idolaters? Man, full of imperfections, at best, and subject to wants which momentarily remind him of dependence; man, a weak and ignorant being, 'servile' from his birth to all the skiey influences,' with eyes sometimes open to discern the right path, but a head generally too dizzy to pursue it; man, in the pride of speculation, forgetting his

Believe thou, O my soul,

Life is a vision shadowy of truth;

And pain, and anguish, and the wormy grave,
Shapes of a dream.'

I thank you for these lines, in the name of a Necessitarian." To Priestley, Lamb repeatedly alludes as to the object of their common admi

ration. "In reading your Religious Musings," says he, “I have felt a transient superiority over you: I have seen Priestley. I love to see his name repeated in your writings;—I love

* These and other passages are extracted from letters which are either too personal or not sufficiently interesting for entire publication.

and honour him almost profanelyt." The same fervour glows in the sectarian piety of the following letter addressed to Coleridge, when fascinated with the idea of a cottage life.

TO MR. COLERIDGE.

† He probably refers to the following lines in the Re-
ligious Musings:-
:-

So Priestley, their patriot, and saint, and sage,
Him, full of years, from his loved native land,
Statesmen blood-stain'd, and priests idolatrous,
Drove with vain hate. Calm, pitying, he return'd,
And mused expectant on those promised years!

nature, and hailing in himself the future God, must make the angels laugh. Be not angry with me, Coleridge; I wish not to cavil; I know I cannot instruct you; I only wish to remind you of that humility which best becometh the Christian character. God, in the New Testament, (our best guide,) is represented to us in the kind, condescending, amiable, familiar light of a parent and in my poor mind 'tis best for us so to consider of him, as our heavenly father, and our best friend, without indulging too bold conceptions of his nature. Let us learn to think humbly of ourselves, and rejoice in the appellation of 'dear children,' ‘brethren,' and 'co-heirs with Christ of the promises,' seeking to know no further.

"I am not insensible, indeed I am not, of the value of that first letter of yours, and I shall find reason to thank you for it again and again long after that blemish in it is forgotten. It will be a fine lesson of comfort to us, whenever we read it; and read it we often shall, Mary and I.

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tended to convey. With that other part of your apology I am not quite so well satisfied. You seem to me to have been straining your comparing faculties to bring together things infinitely distant and unlike; the feeble narrow-sphered operations of the human intellect; and the everywhere diffused mind of Deity, the peerless wisdom of Jehovah. Even the expression appears to me inaccurate-portion of omnipresence-omnipresence is an attribute whose very essence is unlimitedness. How can omnipresence be affirmed of anything in part? But enough of this spirit of disputaciousness. Let us attend to the proper business of human life, and talk a little together respecting our domestic concerns. Do you continue to make me acquainted with what you are doing, and how soon you are likely to be settled once for all.

6

"Have you seen Bowles's new poem on 'Hope? What character does it bear? Has he exhausted his stores of tender plaintiveness? or is he the same in this last as in all his former pieces? The duties of the day call me off from this pleasant intercourse with my friend-so for the present adieu. Now for the truant borrowing of a few minutes from business. Have you met with a new poem called the 'Pursuits of Literature?' from the extracts in the British Review' I judge it to be a very humorous thing, in particular I remember what I thought a very happy character of Dr. Darwin's poetry. Among all your quaint readings. did you ever light upon 'Walton's Complete Angler'? I asked you the question once before; it breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity and simplicity of heart; there are many choice, old verses interspersed in it; it would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it; it would Christianise every discordant angry passion; pray make yourself acquainted with it.

"When will Southey be delivered of his new epic? Madoc, I think, is to be the name of it, though that is a name not familiar to my ears. What progress do you make in your hymns? What 'Review' are you connected with? if with any, why do you delay to notice White's book? You are justly offended at its profaneness, but surely you have undervalued its wit, or you would have been more loud in its praises. Do not you think that in Slender's

death and madness there is most exquisite humour, mingled with tenderness, that is irresistible, truly Shakspearian? Be more full in your mention of it. Poor fellow, he has (very undeservedly) lost by it, nor do I see that it is likely ever to reimburse him the charge of printing, &c. Give it a lift, if you can. I am just now wondering whether you will ever come to town again, Coleridge ; 'tis among the things I dare not hope, but can't help wishing. For myself, I can live in the midst of town luxury and superfluity, and not long for them, and I can't see why your children might not hereafter do the same. Remember, you are not in Arcadia, when you are in the west of England, and they may catch infection from the world without visiting the metropolis. But you seem to have set your heart upon this same cottage plan, and God prosper you in the experiment! I am at a loss for more to write about, so 'tis as well that I am arrived at the bottom of my paper.

"God love you, Coleridge !-our best loves and tenderest wishes await on you, your Sara, and your little one.

Having been encouraged by Coleridge to entertain the thought of publishing his verses, he submitted the poem called "The Grandame" to his friend, with the following letter:

TO MR. COLERIDGE.

"C. L."

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Monday night. "Unfurnished at present with any sheet-filling subject, I shall continue my letter gradually and journal-wise. My second thoughts entirely coincide with your comments on 'Joan of Arc,' and I can only wonder at my childish judgment which overlooked the 1st book and could prefer the 9th; not that I was insensible to the soberer beauties of the former, but the latter caught me with its glare of magic,-the former, however, left a more pleasing general recollection in my mind. Let me add, the 1st book was the favourite of my sister-and I now, with Joan, often think on Domremi and the fields of Arc.' I must not pass over without acknowledging my obligations to your full and satisfactory account of personifications. I have read it again and again, and it will be a guide

to my future taste. Perhaps I had estimated Southey's merits too much by number, weight, and measure. I now agree completely and entirely in your opinion of the genius of Southey. Your own image of melancholy is illustrative of what you teach, and in itself masterly. I conjecture it is disbranched from one of your embryo 'hymns.' When they are mature of birth (were I you) I should print 'em in one separate volume, with 'Religious Musings,' and your part of the Joan of Arc.' Birds of the same soaring wing should hold on their flight in company. Once for all (and by renewing the subject you will only renew in me the condemnation of Tantalus), I hope to be able to pay you a visit (if you are then at Bristol) some time in the latter end of August or beginning of September, for a week or fortnight-before that time, office business puts an absolute veto on my coming. Of the blank verses I spoke of, the following lines are the only tolerably complete ones I have writ out of not more than one hundred and fifty. That I get on so slowly you may fairly impute to want of practice in composition, when I declare to you that (the few verses which you have seen excepted) I have not writ fifty lines since I left school. It may not be amiss to remark that my grandmother (on whom the verses are written) lived housekeeper in a family the fifty or sixty last years of her life-that she was a woman of exemplary piety and goodness-and for many years before her death was terribly afflicted with a cancer in her breast, which she bore with true christian patience. You may think that I have not kept enough apart the ideas of her heavenly and her earthly master, but recollect I have designedly given in to her own way of feeling-and if she had a failing 'twas that she respected her master's family too much, not reverenced her Maker too little. The lines begin imperfectly, as I may probably connect 'em if I finish at all,-and if I do, Biggs shall print 'em, in a more economical way than you yours, for (sonnets and all) they won't make a thousand lines as I propose completing 'em, and the substance must be wire-drawn."

The following letter, written at intervals, will give an insight into Lamb's spirit at this time, in its lighter and gayer moods. It would

seem that his acquaintance with the old English dramatists had just commenced with Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger :

MR COLERIDGE.

"Tuesday evening. "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 play'd 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 neighbour 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 scorn'd me; and in so 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,' &c.-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!'

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"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 journalising epistle has been very dull and poverty-stricken. I will here end."

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