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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 23 October 1802

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
Oct. 23rd, 1802.

I READ daily your political essays. I was particularly pleased with “Once a Jacobin:” though the argument is obvious enough, the style was less swelling than your things sometimes are, and it was plausible ad populum. A vessel has just arrived from Jamaica with the news of poor Sam Le Grice’s death. He died at Jamaica of the yellow fever. His course was rapid and he had been very foolish; but I believe there was more of kindness and warmth in him than in almost any other of our schoolfellows. The annual meeting of the Blues is to-morrow, at the London Tavern, where poor Sammy dined with them two years ago, and attracted the notice of all by the singular foppishness of his dress. When men go off the stage so early, it scarce seems a noticeable thing in their epitaphs, whether they had been wise or silly in their lifetime. I am glad the snuff and Pi-pos’s Books please. “Goody Two Shoes” is almost out of print. Mrs. Barbauld’s stuff has banished all the old classics of the nursery; and the shopman at Newbery’s hardly deigned to reach them off an old exploded corner of a shelf, when Mary asked for them. Mrs. B.’s and Mrs. Trimmer’s nonsense lay in piles about. Knowledge insignificant and vapid as Mrs. B.’s books convey, it seems, must come to a child in the

1 See Appendix II., page 968.

shape of knowledge, and his empty noddle must be turned with conceit of his own powers when he has learnt that a Horse is an animal, and Billy is better than a Horse, and such like; instead of that beautiful Interest in wild tales which made the child a man, while all the time he suspected himself to be no bigger than a child. Science has succeeded to Poetry no less in the little walks of children than with men. Is there no possibility of averting this sore evil? Think what you would have been now, if instead of being fed with Tales and old wives’ fables in childhood, you had been crammed with geography and natural history?

Damn them!—I mean the cursed Barbauld Crew, those Blights and Blasts of all that is Human in man and child.

As to the Translations, let me do two or three hundred lines, and then do you try the Nostrums upon Stuart in any way you please. If they go down I will bray more. In fact, if I got or could but get 50l. a year only, in addition to what I have, I should live in affluence.

Have you anticipated it, or could not you give a Parallel of Bonaparte with Cromwell, particularly as to the contrast in their deeds affecting foreign states? Cromwell’s interference for the Albigenses, B[uonaparte]’s against the Swiss. Then Religion would come in; and Milton and you could rant about our countrymen of that period. This is a hasty suggestion, the more hasty because I want my Supper. I have just finished Chapman’s Homer. Did you ever read it?—it has most the continuous power of interesting you all along, like a rapid original, of any, and in the uncommon excellence of the more finished parts goes beyond Fairfax or any of ’em. The metre is fourteen syllables, and capable of all sweetness and grandeur. Cowper’s damn’d blank verse detains you every step with some heavy Miltonism; Chapman gallops off with you his own free pace. Take a simile for an example. The council breaks up—
“Being abroad, the earth was overlaid
With flockers to them, that came forth; as when of frequent bees
Swarms rise out of a hollow rock, repairing the degrees
Of their egression endlessly, with ever rising new
From forth their sweet nest; as their store, still as it faded, grew,
And never would cease sending forth her clusters to the spring,
They still crowd out so: this flock here, that there, belabouring
The loaded flowers. So,” &c. &c.
[Iliad, Book II., 70-77.]

What endless egression of phrases the dog commands!

Take another: Agamemnon wounded, bearing his wound heroically for the sake of the army (look below) to a woman in labour.
“He, with his lance, sword, mighty stones, poured his heroic wreak
On other squadrons of the foe, whiles yet warm blood did break
Thro’ his cleft veins: but when the wound was quite exhaust and crude,
The eager anguish did approve his princely fortitude.
As when most sharp and bitter pangs distract a labouring dame,
Which the divine Ilithiæ, that rule the painful frame
Of human childbirth, pour on her; the Ilithiæ that are
The daughters of Saturnia; with whose extreme repair
The woman in her travail strives to take the worst it gives;
With thought, it must be, ’tis love’s fruit, the end for which she lives;
The mean to make herself new born, what comforts will redound:
So,” &c.
[Iliad, Book XI., 228-239.]

I will tell you more about Chapman and his peculiarities in my next. I am much interested in him.

Yours ever affectionately, and Pi-Pos’s.

C. L.