The Best Letters of Charles Lamb eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Best Letters of Charles Lamb.

Coleridge, I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through at Bristol.  My life has been somewhat diversified of late.  The six weeks that finished last year and began this, your very humble servant spent very agreeably in a madhouse at Hoxton.  I am got somewhat rational now, and don’t bite any one.  But mad I was and many a vagary my imagination played with me,—­enough to make a volume, if all were told.  My sonnets I have extended to the number of nine since I saw you, and will some day communicate to you.  I am beginning a poem in blank verse, which, if I finish, I publish.  White [2] is on the eve of publishing (he took the hint from Vortigern) “Original Letters of Falstaff, Shallow,” etc.; a copy you shall have when it comes out.  They are without exception the best imitations I ever saw.  Coleridge, it may convince you of my regards for you when I tell you my head ran on you in my madness as much almost as on another person, who I am inclined to think was the more immediate cause of my temporary frenzy.

The sonnet I send you has small merit as poetry; but you will be curious to read it when I tell you it was written in my prison-house in one of my lucid intervals.

TO MY SISTER.

  If from my lips some angry accents fell,
    Peevish complaint, or harsh reproof unkind,
    ’T was but the error of a sickly mind
  And troubled thoughts, clouding the purer well
    And waters clear of Reason; and for me
    Let this my verse the poor atonement be,—­
    My verse, which thou to praise wert e’er inclined
    Too highly, and with partial eye to see
  No blemish.  Thou to me didst ever show
    Kindest affection; and wouldst oft-times lend
    An ear to the desponding love-sick lay,
    Weeping my sorrows with me, who repay
  But ill the mighty debt of love I owe,
    Mary, to thee, my sister and my friend.

With these lines, and with that sister’s kindest remembrances to Cottle, I conclude.

Yours sincerely,

LAMB.

[1] Southey had just published his “Joan of Arc,” in quarto.  He and Lovell had published jointly, two years before, “Poems by Bion and Moschus.”

[2] A Christ’s Hospital schoolfellow, the “Jem” White of the Elia essay, “The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers.”

II.

TO COLERIDGE.

(No month) 1796.

Tuesday night.—­Of your “Watchman,” the review of Burke was the best prose.  I augured great things from the first number.  There is some exquisite poetry interspersed.  I have re-read the extract from the “Religious Musings,” and retract whatever invidious there was in my censure of it as elaborate.  There are times when one is not in a disposition thoroughly to relish good writing.  I have re-read it in a more favorable moment, and hesitate not to pronounce it sublime.  If there be anything in it approaching to tumidity (which I

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