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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, [28 January 1798]

Contents vol. VI
Letters: 1796
Letters: 1797
Letters: 1798
Letters: 1799
Letters: 1800
Letters: 1801
Letters: 1802
Letters: 1803
Letters: 1804
Letters: 1805
Letters: 1806
Letters: 1807
Letters: 1808
Letters: 1809
Letters: 1810
Letters: 1811
Letters: 1812
Letters: 1814
Letters: 1815
Letters: 1816
Letters: 1817
Letters: 1818
Letters: 1819
Letters: 1820
Letters: 1821
Contents vol. VII
Letters: 1821
Letters: 1822
Letters: 1823
Letters: 1824
Letters: 1825
Letters: 1826
Letters: 1827
Letters: 1828
Letters: 1829
Letters: 1830
Letters: 1831
Letters: 1832
Letters: 1833
Letters: 1834
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
List of Letters
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Produced by CATH
January 28th, 1798.

YOU have writ me many kind letters, and I have answered none of them. I don’t deserve your attentions. An unnatural indifference has been creeping on me since my last misfortunes, or I should have seized the first opening of a correspondence with you. To you I owe much under God. In my brief acquaintance with you in London, your conversations won me to the better cause, and rescued me from the polluting spirit of the world. I might have been a worthless character without you; as it is, I do possess a certain improvable portion of devotional feelings, tho’ when I view myself in the light of divine truth, and not according to the common measures of human judgment, I am altogether corrupt and sinful. This is no cant. I am very sincere.

These last afflictions, Coleridge, have failed to soften and bend my will. They found me unprepared. My former calamities
produced in me a spirit of humility and a spirit of prayer. I thought they had sufficiently disciplined me; but the event ought to humble me. If God’s judgments now fail to take away from me the heart of stone, what more grievous trials ought I not to expect? I have been very querulous, impatient under the rod—full of little jealousies and heartburnings.—I had well nigh quarrelled with
Charles Lloyd; and for no other reason, I believe, than that the good creature did all he could to make me happy. The truth is, I thought he tried to force my mind from its natural and proper bent; he continually wished me to be from home; he was drawing me from the consideration of my poor dear Mary’s situation, rather than assisting me to gain a proper view of it with religious consolations. I wanted to be left to the tendency of my own mind in a solitary state which, in times past, I knew had led to quietness and a patient bearing of the yoke. He was hurt that I was not more constantly with him; but he was living with White, a man to whom I had never been accustomed to impart my dearest feelings, tho’ from long habits of friendliness, and many a social and good quality, I loved him very much. I met company there sometimes—indiscriminate company. Any society almost, when I am in affliction, is sorely painful to me. I seem to breathe more freely, to think more collectedly, to feel more properly and calmly, when alone. All these things the good creature did with the kindest intentions in the world, but they produced in me nothing but soreness and discontent. I became, as he complained, “jaundiced” towards him . . . but he has forgiven me—and his smile, I hope, will draw all such humours from me. I am recovering, God be praised for it, a healthiness of mind, something like calmness—but I want more religion—I am jealous of human helps and leaning-places. I rejoice in your good fortunes. May God at the last settle you!—You have had many and painful trials; humanly speaking they are going to end; but we should rather pray that discipline may attend us thro’ the whole of our lives. . . . A careless and a dissolute spirit has advanced upon me with large strides—pray God that my present afflictions may be sanctified to me! Mary is recovering, but I see no opening yet of a situation for her; your invitation went to my very heart, but you have a power of exciting interest, of leading all hearts captive, too forcible to admit of Mary’s being with you. I consider her as perpetually on the brink of madness. I think you would almost make her dance within an inch of the precipice: she must be with duller fancies and cooler intellects, know a young man of this description, who has suited her these twenty years, and may live to do so still, if we are one day restored to each other. In answer to your suggestions of occupation for
me, I must say that I do not think my capacity altogether suited for disquisitions of that kind. . . . I have read little, I have a very weak memory, and retain little of what I read; am unused to composition in which any methodising is required; but I thank you sincerely for the hint, and shall receive it as far as I am able: that is, endeavour to engage my mind in some constant and innocent pursuit. I know my capacities better than you do.

Accept my kindest love, and believe me yours, as ever.

C. L