LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, [20? September 1797

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[About September 20, 1797.]
[Friday next, Coleridge, is the day on which my mother died.]
ALAS! how am I changed! where be the tears,
The sobs and forced suspensions of the breath,
And all the dull desertions of the heart
With which I hung o’er my dear mother’s corse?
Where be the blest subsidings of the storm
Within; the sweet resignedness of hope
Drawn heavenward, and strength of filial love,
In which I bow’d me to my Father’s will?
My God and my Redeemer, keep not thou
My heart in brute and sensual thanklessness
Seal’d up, oblivious ever of that dear grace,
And health restor’d to my long-loved friend.
Long loved, and worthy known! Thou didst not keep
Her soul in death. O keep not now, my Lord,
Thy servants in far worse—in spiritual death
And darkness—blacker than those feared shadows
O’ the valley all must tread. Lend us thy balms,
Thou dear Physician of the sin-sick soul,
And heal our cleansed bosoms of the wounds
With which the world hath pierc’d us thro’ and thro’!
Give us new flesh, new birth; Elect of heaven
May we become, in thine election sure
Contain’d, and to one purpose steadfast drawn—
Our souls’ salvation.
Thou and I, dear friend,
With filial recognition sweet, shall know
One day the face of our dear mother in heaven,
And her remember’d looks of love shall greet
With answering looks of love, her placid smiles
Meet with a smile as placid, and her hand
With drops of fondness wet, nor fear repulse.
Be witness for me, Lord, I do not ask
Those days of vanity to return again,
(Nor fitting me to ask, nor thee to give).
Vain loves, and “wanderings with a fair-hair’d maid;”
(Child of the dust as I am), who so long
My foolish heart steep’d in idolatry,
And creature-loves. Forgive it, O my Maker!
If in a mood of grief, I sin almost
In sometimes brooding on the days long past,
(And from the grave of time wishing them back),
Days of a mother’s fondness to her child—
Her little one! Oh, where be now those sports
And infant play-games? Where the joyous troops
Of children, and the haunts I did so love?
O my companions! O ye loved names
Of friend, or playmate dear, gone are ye now.
Gone divers ways; to honour and credit some:
And some, I fear, to ignominy and shame!
I only am left, with unavailing grief
One parent dead to mourn, and see one live
Of all life’s joys bereft, and desolate:
Am left, with a few friends, and one above
The rest, found faithful in a length of years,
Contented as I may, to bear me on,
T’ the not unpeaceful evening of a day
Made black by morning storms.

The following I wrote when I had returned from C. Lloyd, leaving him behind at Burton with Southey. To understand some of it, you must remember that at that time he was very much perplexed in mind.

A stranger and alone, I past those scenes
We past so late together; and my heart
Felt something like desertion, as I look’d
Around me, and the pleasant voice of friend
Was absent, and the cordial look was there
No more, to smile on me. I thought on Lloyd
All he had been to me! And now I go
Again to mingle with a world impure;
With men who make a mock of holy things,
Mistaken, and of man’s best hope think scorn.
The world does much to warp the heart of man;
And I may sometimes join its idiot laugh:
Of this I now complain not. Deal with me.
Omniscient Father, as Thou judgest best.
And in Thy season soften thou my heart.
I pray not for myself: I pray for him
Whose soul is sore perplexed. Shine thou on him,
Father of Lights! and in the difficult paths
Make plain his way before him: his own thoughts
May he not think—his own ends not pursue—
So shall he best perform Thy will on earth.
Greatest and Best, Thy will be ever ours!

The former of these poems I wrote with unusual celerity t’other morning at office. I expect you to like it better than anything of mine; Lloyd does, and I do myself.

You use Lloyd very ill, never writing to him. I tell you again that his is not a mind with which you should play tricks. He deserves more tenderness from you.

For myself, I must spoil a little passage of Beaumont and Fletcher to adapt it to my feelings:—
“I am prouder
That I was once your friend, tho’ now forgot,
Than to have had another true to me.”
If you don’t write to me now, as I told
Lloyd, I shall get angry, and call you hard names—Manchineel and I don’t know what else. I wish you would send me my great-coat. The snow and the rain season is at hand, and I have but a wretched old coat, once my father’s, to keep ’em off, and that is transitory.
“When time drives flocks from field to fold,
When ways grow foul and blood gets cold,”
I shall remember where I left my coat. Meet emblem wilt thou be, old Winter, of a friend’s neglect—cold, cold, cold! Remembrance where remembrance is due.

C. Lamb.