THE FEW FOLLOWING POEMS,
CREATURES OF THE FANCY AND THE FEELING
IN LIFE’S MORE VACANT HOURS,
PRODUCED, FOR THE MOST PART, BY
LOVE IN IDLENESS,
WITH ALL A BROTHER’S FONDNESS,
MARY ANN LAMB,
THE AUTHOR’S BEST FRIEND ANB SISTER.
This is the pomp and paraphernalia of parting, with which I take my leave of a passion which has reigned so royally (so long) within me; thus, with its trappings of laureateship, I fling it off, pleased and satisfied with myself that the weakness troubles me no longer. I am wedded. Coleridge, to the fortunes of my sister and my poor old father. Oh, my friend, I think sometimes, could I recall the days that are past, which among them should I choose? Not, those “merrier days,” not the “pleasant days of hope,” not “those wanderings with a fair-hair’d maid,”  which I have so often, and so feelingly regretted, but the days, Coleridge, of a mother’s fondness for her schoolboy. What would I give to call her back to earth for one day, on my knees to ask her pardon for all those little asperities of temper which from time to time have given her gentle spirit pain. And the day, my friend, I trust will come; there will be “time enough” for kind offices of love, if “Heaven’s eternal year” be ours. Hereafter, her meek spirit shall not reproach me. Oh, my friend, cultivate the filial feelings, and let no man think himself released from the kind “charities” of relationship. These shall give him peace at the last; these are the best foundation for every species of benevolence. I rejoice to hear, by certain channels, that you, my friend, are reconciled with all your relations. ’T is the most kindly and natural species of love, and we have all the associated train of early feelings to secure its strength and perpetuity. Send me an account of your health; indeed I am solicitous about you. God love you and yours!
 From “A Very Woman.”
 An allusion to Lamb’s first love,—the “Anna” of his sonnets, and the original, probably, of “Rosamund Gray” and of “Alice W—–n” in the beautiful essay “Dream Children.”
 The earliest sonnets of William Lisle Bowles were published in 1789, the year of Lamb’s removal from Christ’s Hospital.
 Alluding to the prospective joint volume of poems (by Coleridge, Lamb, and Charles Lloyd) to be published by Cottle in 1797. This was Lamb’s second serious literary venture, he and Coleridge having issued a joint volume in 1796.
Dec. 5, 1796.
At length I have done with verse-making,—not that I relish other people’s poetry less: theirs comes from ’em without effort; mine is the difficult operation of a brain scanty of ideas, made more difficult by disuse. I have been reading “The Task” with fresh delight. I am glad you love Cowper. I could forgive a man for not enjoying Milton; but I would not call that man my friend who should be offended with the “divine chit-chat of Cowper.” Write to me. God love you and yours!