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.
aspiration after perfection, which they have not.  I gain, nothing by being with such as myself,—­we encourage one another in mediocrity, I am always longing to be with men more excellent than myself.  All this must sound odd to you; but these are my predominant feelings when I sit down to write to you, and I should put force upon my mind, were I to reject them, Yet I rejoice, and feel my privilege with gratitude, when I have been reading some wise book, such as I have just been reading,—­Priestley on Philosophical Necessity,—­in the thought that I enjoy a kind of communion, a kind of friendship even, with the great and good.  Books are to me instead of friends, I wish they did not resemble the latter in their scarceness.

And how does little David Hartley?  “Ecquid in antiquam virtutem?” Does his mighty name work wonders yet upon his little frame and opening mind?  I did not distinctly understand you,—­you don’t mean to make an actual ploughman of him?  Is Lloyd with you yet?  Are you intimate with Southey?  What poems is he about to publish?  He hath a most prolific brain, and is indeed a most sweet poet.  But how can you answer all the various mass of interrogation I have put to you in the course of the sheet?  Write back just what you like, only write something, however brief.  I have now nigh finished my page, and got to the end of another evening (Monday evening), and my eyes are heavy and sleepy, and my brain unsuggestive.  I have just heart enough awake to say good night once more, and God love you, my dear friend; God love us all!  Mary bears an affectionate remembrance of you.


[1] A well-known conjuror of the time.



February 13, 1797.

Your poem is altogether admirable—­parts of it are even exquisite; in particular your personal account of the Maid far surpasses anything of the sort in Southey. [1] I perceived all its excellences, on a first reading, as readily as now you have been removing a supposed film from my eyes.  I was only struck with a certain faulty disproportion in the matter and the style, which I still think I perceive, between these lines and the former ones.  I had an end in view,—­I wished to make you reject the poem, only as being discordant with the other; and, in subservience to that end, it was politically done in me to over-pass, and make no mention of, merit which, could you think me capable of overlooking, might reasonably damn forever in your judgment all pretensions in me to be critical.  There, I will be judged by Lloyd whether I have not made a very handsome recantation.  I was in the case of a man whose friend has asked him his opinion of a certain young lady; the deluded wight gives judgment against her in toto,—­don’t like her face, her walk, her manners; finds fault with her eyebrows; can see no wit in her.  His friend looks blank;

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