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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.
you can teach me wisdom.  I am indeed an unreasonable correspondent:  but I was unwilling to let my last night’s letter go off without this qualifier:  you will perceive by this my mind is easier, and you will rejoice.  I do not expect or wish you to write till you are moved; and of course shall not, till you announce to me that event, think of writing myself.  Love to Mrs. Coleridge and David Hartley, and my kind remembrance to Lloyd, if he is with you.

C. LAMB.

[1] See preceding letter.

[2] Epistle to Arbuthnot:—­

  “Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
  And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.”

[3] The lines on him which Coleridge had sent to Lamb, and which the latter had burned.

XI.

TO COLERIDGE.

January 5, 1797.

Sunday Morning.—­You cannot surely mean to degrade the Joan of Arc into a pot-girl. [1] You are not going, I hope, to annex to that most splendid ornament of Southey’s poem all this cock-and-a-bull story of Joan, the publican’s daughter of Neufchatel, with the lamentable episode of a wagoner, his wife, and six children.  The texture will be most lamentably disproportionate.  The first forty or fifty lines of these addenda are no doubt in their way admirable too; but many would prefer the Joan of Southey.

[1] Coleridge, in later years, indorsed Lamb’s opinion of this portion of his contribution to “Joan of Arc.”  “I was really astonished,” he said, “(1) at the schoolboy, wretched, allegoric machinery; (2) at the transmogrification of the fanatic virago into a modern novel-pawing proselyte of the “Age of Reason,”—­a Tom Paine in petticoats; (3) at the utter want of all rhythm in the verse, the monotony and dead plumb-down of the pauses, and the absence of all bone, muscle, and sinew in the single lines.”

    “On mightiest deeds to brood

Of shadowy vastness, such as made my heart
Throb fast; anon I paused, and in a state
Of half expectance listened to the wind.”

“They wondered at me, who had known me once
A cheerful, careless damsel.”

                                      “The eye,
  That of the circling throng and of the visible world,
  Unseeing, saw the shapes of holy phantasy.”

I see nothing in your description of the Maid equal to these.  There is a fine originality certainly in those lines,—­

“For she had lived in this bad world
As in a place of tombs,
And touched not the pollutions of the dead;”

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