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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Robert Southey, 3 November 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
Nov. 3, 1798.

I HAVE read your Eclogue [“The Wedding”] repeatedly, and cannot call it bald, or without interest; the cast of it, and the design are completely original, and may set people upon thinking: it is as poetical as the subject requires, which asks no poetry; but it is defective in pathos. The woman’s own story is the tamest part of it—I should like you to remould that—it too much resembles the young maid’s history: both had been in service. Even the omission would not injure the poem; after the words “growing wants,” you might, not unconnectedly, introduce “look at that little chub” down to “welcome one.” And, decidedly, I would have you end it somehow thus,
“Give them at least this evening a good meal.
[Gives her money.
Now, fare thee well; hereafter you have taught me
To give sad meaning to the village-bells,” &c.,
which would leave a stronger impression (as well as more pleasingly recall the beginning of the Eclogue), than the present common-place reference to a better world, which the woman “must have heard at church.” I should like you, too, a good deal to enlarge the most striking part, as it might have been, of the poem—“Is it idleness?” &c., that affords a good field for dwelling on sickness and inabilities, and old age. And you might also a good deal enrich the piece with a picture of a country wedding: the woman might very well, in a transient fit of oblivion, dwell upon the ceremony and circumstances of her own nuptials six years ago, the smugness of the bridegroom, the feastings, the cheap merriment, the welcomings, and the secret envyings of the maidens—then dropping all this, recur to her present lot. I do not know that I can suggest anything else, or that I have suggested anything new or material.

I shall be very glad to see some more poetry, though I fear your trouble in transcribing will be greater than the service my remarks may do them.

Yours affectionately,

C. Lamb.

I cut my letter short because I am called off to business.