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

  “I can’t tell half his adventures,”

is a most happy resemblance of Chaucer.  The remainder is so-so.  The best line, I think, is, “He belong’d, I believe, to the witch Melancholy.”  By the way, when will our volume come out?  Don’t delay it till you have written a new “Joan of Arc.”  Send what letters you please by me, and in any way you choose, single or double.  The India Company is better adapted to answer the cost than the generality of my friend’s correspondents,—­such poor and honest dogs as John Thelwall particularly.  I cannot say I know Coulson,—­at least intimately; I once supped with him and Austin; I think his manners very pleasing.  I will not tell you what I think of Lloyd, for he may by chance come to see this letter; and that thought puts a restraint on me.  I cannot think what subject would suit your epic genius,—­some philosophical subject, I conjecture, in which shall be blended the sublime of poetry and of science.  Your proposed “Hymns” will be a fit preparatory study wherewith “to discipline your young novitiate soul.”  I grow dull; I’ll go walk myself out of my dulness.

Sunday Night,—­You and Sara are very good to think so kindly and so favorably of poor Mary; I would to God all did so too.  But I very much fear she must not think of coming home in my father’s lifetime.  It is very hard upon her, but our circumstances are peculiar, and we must submit to them, God be praised she is so well as she is.  She bears her situation as one who has no right to complain.  My poor old aunt, whom you have seen, the kindest, goodest creature to me when I was at school; who used to toddle there to bring me good things, when I, schoolboy-like, only despised her for it, and used to be ashamed to see her come and sit herself down on the old coal-hole steps as you went into the old grammar-school, and open her apron, and bring out her basin, with some nice thing she had caused to be saved for me, [2]—­the good old creature is now lying on her death-bed.  I cannot bear to think on her deplorable state.  To the shock she received on that our evil day, from which she never completely recovered, I impute her illness.  She says, poor thing, she is glad she is come home to die with me.  I was always her favourite;

  “No after friendship e’er can raise
  The endearments of our early days;
  Nor e’er the heart such fondness prove,
  As when it first began to love.”

[1] In Mackenzie’s tale, “Julia de Roubigne.”

[2] See the essay, “Christ’s Hospital Five-and-Thirty Years Ago.”

XII.

TO COLERIDGE.

January 10, 1797.

I need not repeat my wishes to have my little sonnets printed verbatim my last way.  In particular, I fear lest you should prefer printing my first sonnet, as you have done more than once, “did the wand of Merlin wave,” it looks so like Mr. Merlin, [1] the ingenious successor of the immortal Merlin, now living in good health and spirits, and flourishing in magical reputation, in Oxford Street; and, on my life, one half who read it would understand it so.

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