Page 41. Lines Suggested by a Picture of Two Females by Lionardo da Vinci. By Mary Lamb.
This was the “Lady Blanch” poem which Lamb sent to Dorothy Wordsworth in the letter of June 2, 1804 (see page 325). There it was entitled “Suggested by a Print of 2 Females, after Lionardo da Vinci, called Prudence and Beauty, which hangs up in our room.” The usual title is “Modesty and Vanity.”
Page 41. Lines on the Same Picture being Removed to make Place for a Portrait of a Lady by Titian. By Mary Lamb.
Writing to Dorothy Wordsworth on June 14, 1805, Lamb says: “You had her [Mary’s] Lines about the ‘Lady Blanch.’ You have not had some which she wrote upon a copy of a girl from Titian, which I had hung up where that print of Blanch and the Abbess (as she beautifully interpreted two female figures from L. da Vinci) had hung, in our room. ’Tis light and pretty.”
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Page 42. Lines on the Celebrated Picture by Lionardo da Vinci, called The Virgin of the Rocks.
This was the picture, one version of which hangs in the National Gallery, that was known to Lamb’s friends as his “Beauty,” and which led to the Scotchman’s mistake in the Elia essay “Imperfect Sympathies.”
Page 42. On the Same. By Mary Lamb.
In the letter to Dorothy Wordsworth of June 14, 1805, quoted just above, Lamb says: “I cannot resist transcribing three or four Lines which poor Mary [she was at this time away from home in one of her enforced absences] made upon a Picture (a Holy Family) which we saw at an Auction only one week before she left home.... They are sweet Lines, and upon a sweet Picture.”
Mary Lamb wrote little verse besides the Poetry for Children (see Vol. III. of this edition). To the pieces that are printed in the present volume I would add the lines suggested by the death of Captain John Wordsworth, the poet’s brother, in the foundering of the Abergavenny in February, 1805, when Coleridge was in Malta, which were sent by Mary Lamb to Dorothy Wordsworth, May 7, 1805:—
Why is he wandering
on the sea?
Coleridge should now with Wordsworth be.
By slow degrees he’d steal away
Their woe, and gently bring a ray
(So happily he’d time relief)
Of comfort from their very grief.
He’d tell them that their brother dead,
When years have passed o’er their head,
Will be remember’d with such holy,
True, and perfect melancholy,
That ever this lost brother John
Will be their hearts’ companion.
His voice they’ll always hear, his face they’ll always see;
There’s nought in life so sweet as such a memory.
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Page 43. To Miss Kelly.