Holy abbots surely never so undisguisedly blurted out their secular aims.
I think there is so much of this kind of poetry, that it would not be very taking, but it is well worthy of pleasing a private circle. One blemish runs thro’, the perpetual accompaniment of natural images. Seasons of the year, times of day, phases of the moon, phenomena of flowers, are quite as much your dramatis personae as the warriors and the ladies. This last part is as good as what precedes.
CHARLES LAMB TO CHARLES WENTWORTH DILKE
[No date. End of July, 1834.]
Dear Sir, I am totally incapable of doing what you suggest at present, and think it right to tell you so without delay. It would shock me, who am shocked enough already, to sit down to write about it. I have no letters of poor C. By and bye what scraps I have shall be yours. Pray excuse me. It is not for want of obliging you, I assure you. For your Box we most cordially feel thankful. I shall be your debtor in my poor way. I do assure you I am incapable.
Again, excuse me
[Coleridge’s death had occurred on July 25, in his sixty-second year; and Dilke had written to Lamb asking for some words on that event, for The Athenaeum. A little while later a request was made by John Forster that Lamb would write something for the album of a Mr. Keymer. It was then that Lamb wrote the few words that stand under the title “On the Death of Coleridge” (see Vol. I.). Forster wrote thus of the effect of Coleridge’s death upon Lamb:—
He thought of little else (his sister was but another portion of himself) until his own great spirit joined his friend. He had a habit of venting his melancholy in a sort of mirth. He would, with nothing graver than a pun, “cleanse his bosom of the perilous stuff that weighed” upon it. In a jest, or a few light phrases, he would lay open the last recesses of his heart. So in respect of the death of Coleridge. Some old friends of his saw him two or three weeks ago, and remarked the constant turning and reference of his mind. He interrupted himself and them almost every instant with some play of affected wonder, or astonishment, or humorous melancholy, on the words, “Coleridge is dead.” Nothing could divert him from that, for the thought of it never left him.
Wordsworth said that Coleridge’s death hastened Lamb’s.]
CHARLES LAMB TO REV. JAMES GILLMAN
Mr. Walden’s, Church Street,
Edmonton, August 5, 1834.
My dear Sir,—The sad week being over, I must write to you to say, that I was glad of being spared from attending; I have no words to express my feeling with you all. I can only say that when you think a short visit from me would be acceptable, when your father and mother shall be able to see me with comfort, I will come to the bereaved house. Express to them my tenderest regards and hopes that they will continue our friends still. We both love and respect them as much as a human being can, and finally thank them with our hearts for what they have been to the poor departed.