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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 5 December 1796

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
[Dated at end: Dec. 5, 1796.]
To a young Lady going out to India
HARD is the heart, that does not melt with Ruth
When care sits cloudy on the brow of Youth,
When bitter griefs the female bosom swell
And Beauty meditates a fond farewell
To her loved native land, and early home,
In search of peace thro’ “stranger climes to roam.”1
The Muse, with glance prophetic, sees her stand,
Forsaken, silent Lady, on the strand
Of farthest India, sickening at the war
Of waves slow-beating, dull upon the shore
Stretching, at gloomy intervals, her eye
O’er the wide waters vainly to espy
The long-expected bark, in which to find
Some tidings of a world she has left behind.
In that sad hour shall start the gushing tear
For scenes her childhood loved, now doubly dear,
In that sad hour shall frantic memory awake
Pangs of remorse for slighted England’s sake,
And for the sake of many a tender tye
Of Love or Friendship pass’d too lightly by.
Unwept, unpitied, midst an alien race,
And the cold looks of many a stranger face,
How will her poor heart bleed, and chide the day,
That from her country took her far away.

[Lamb has struck his pen through the foregoing poem.]

1 Bowles. [“The African,” line 27.]


Coleridge, the above has some few decent [lines in] it, and in the paucity of my portion of your volume may as well be inserted; I would also wish to retain the following if only to perpetuate the memory of so exquisite a pleasure as I have often received at the performance of the tragedy of Douglas, when Mrs. Siddons has been the Lady Randolph. Both pieces may be inserted between the sonnets and the sketches—in which latter, the last leaf but one of them, I beg you to alter the words “pain and want” to “pain and grief,” this last being a more familiar and ear-satisfying combination. Do it I beg of you. To understand the following, if you are not acquainted with the play, you should know that on the death of Douglas his mother threw herself down a rock; and that at that time Scotland was busy in repelling the Danes.

See the Tragedy of that name
When her son, her Douglas died,
To the steep rock’s fearful side
Fast the frantic mother hied.
O’er her blooming warrior dead
Many a tear did Scotland shed,
And shrieks of long and loud lament
From her Grampian hills she sent.
Like one awakening from a trance,
She met the shock of Lochlin’s lance. Denmark
On her rude invader foe
Return’d an hundred fold the blow.
Drove the taunting spoiler home:
Mournful thence she took her way
To do observance at the tomb,
Where the son of Douglas [lay].
Round about the tomb did go
In solemn state and order slow,
Silent pace, and black attire,
Earl, or Knight, or good Esquire,
Who e’er by deeds of valour done
In battle had high honors won;
Whoe’er in their pure veins could trace
The blood of Douglas’ noble race.
With them the flower of minstrels came,
And to their cunning harps did frame
In doleful numbers piercing rhimes,
Such strains as in the olden times
Had soothed the spirit of Fingal
Echoing thro’ his fathers’ Hall.
“Scottish maidens, drop a tear
O’er the beauteous Hero’s bier.
Brave youth and comely ’bove compare;
All golden shone his burnish’d hair;
Valor and smiling courtesy
Played in the sunbeams of his eye.
Closed are those eyes that shone so fair
And stain’d with blood his yellow hair.
Scottish maidens drop a tear
O’er the beauteous Hero’s bier.”
“Not a tear, I charge you, shed
For the false Glenalvon dead;
Unpitied let Glenalvon lie,
Foul stain to arms and chivalry.”;
“Behind his back the traitor came,
And Douglas died without his fame.”

[Lamb has struck his pen through the lines against which I have put an asterisk.]

Is “morbid wantonness of woe” a good and allowable phrase?
* “Scottish maidens, drop a tear,
* O’er the beauteous hero’s bier.”
* “Bending warrior, o’er thy grave,
Young light of Scotland early spent!”
Thy country thee shall long lament,
* Douglas ‘Beautiful and Brave’!
And oft to after times shall tell,
In Hope’s sweet prime my Hero fell.

[Lamb has struck his pen through the remainder.]

“Thane or Lordling, think no scorn
Of the poor and lowly-born.
In brake obscure or lonely dell
The simple flowret prospers well;
The gentler virtues cottage-bred, omitted
Thrive best beneath the humble shed.
Low-born Hinds, opprest, obscure,
Ye who patiently endure
To bend the knee and bow the head,
And thankful eat another’s bread
Well may ye mourn your best friend dead,
Till Life with Grief together end:
He would have been the poor man’s friend.”
“Bending, warrior, o’er thy grave,
Young light of Scotland early spent! omitted
Thy country thee shall long lament,
Douglas, ‘Beautiful and Brave’!
And oft to after times shall tell, omitted
In life’s young prime my Hero fell.

At length I have done with verse making. Not that I relish other people’s poetry less,—theirs comes from ’em without effort, mine is the difficult operation of a brain scanty of ideas, made more difficult by disuse. I have been reading the “Task” with fresh delight. I am glad you love Cowper. I could forgive a man for not enjoying Milton, but I would not call that man my friend, who should be offended with the “divine chit-chat of Cowper.” Write to me.—God love you and yours.

C. L.