The Best Letters of Charles Lamb eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about The Best Letters of Charles Lamb.


[1] In 1815 Wordsworth published a new edition of his poems, with the following title:  “Poems by William Wordsworth; including Lyrical Ballads, and the Miscellaneous Pieces of the Author.  With Additional Poems, a new Preface, and a Supplementary Essay.  In two Volumes.”  The new poems were “Yarrow Visited,” “The Force of Prayer,” “The Farmer of Tilsbury Vale,” “Laodamia,” “Yew-Trees,” “A Night Piece,” etc., and it was chiefly on these that Lamb made his comments.

[2] John Lamb afterwards gave the picture to Charles, who made it a wedding present to Mrs. Moxon (Emma Isola), It is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

[3] Dorothy Wordsworth.

[4] Excursion, book v.



Excuse this maddish letter; I am too tired to write in forma.


Dear Wordsworth,—­The more I read of your two last volumes, the more I feel it necessary to make my acknowledgments for them in more than one short letter.  The “Night Piece,” to which you refer me, I meant fully to have noticed; but the fact is, I come so fluttering and languid from business, tired with thoughts of it, frightened with fears of it, that when I get a few minutes to sit down and scribble (an action of the hand now seldom natural to me,—­I mean voluntary pen-work), I lose all presential memory of what I had intended to say, and say what I can, talk about Vincent Bourne or any casual image, instead of that which I had meditated (by the way, I mast look out V. B. for you).  So I had meant to have mentioned “Yarrow Visited,” with that stanza, “But thou that didst appear so fair:”  [1] than which I think no lovelier stanza can be found in the wide world of poetry.  Yet the poem, on the whole, seems condemned to leave behind it a melancholy of imperfect satisfaction, as if you had wronged the feeling with which, in what preceded it, you had resolved never to visit it, and as if the Muse had determined, in the most delicate manner, to make you, and scarce make you, feel it.  Else, it is far superior to the other, which has but one exquisite verse in it,—­the last but one, or the last two:  this is all fine, except, perhaps, that that of “studious ease and generous cares” has a little tinge of the less romantic about it.  “The Farmer of Tilsbury Vale” is a charming counterpart to “Poor Susan,” with the addition, of that delicacy towards aberrations from the strict path which is so fine in the “Old Thief and the Boy by his side,” which always brings water into my eyes.

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The Best Letters of Charles Lamb from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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