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to the asylum at Islington. While the coroner was sitting, Charles was required to play cards with his father. On the second day after the day of horrors some twenty people came to the lodgings to talk and eat and “make merry.” Then the tension could be borne no longer. In an agony of indignation, rage, and something like remorse, Charles found his way mechanically to the room where his dead mother lay, and fell on his knees by the side of her coffin. Alone in his awful misery he poured out his heart in letters to Coleridge, his only friend, and Coleridge answered him in these noble words :

“Your letter, my friend, struck me with a mighty horror. It rushed upon me and stupefied my feelings. You bid me write you a religious letter. I am not a man who would attempt to insult the greatness of your anguish by any other consolation. Heaven knows that in the easiest fortunes there is much dissatisfaction and weariness of spirit; much that calls for the exercise of patience and resignation; but in storms like these that shake the dwelling and make the heart tremble, there is no middle way between despair and the yielding up of the whole spirit to the guidance of faith. And surely it is a matter of joy that your faith in Jesus has been preserved; the Comforter that should relieve you is not far from you. But as you are a Christian, in the name of that Saviour who was filled with bitterness and made drunken with wormwood, I conjure you to have recourse in frequent prayer to ‘His God and your God,' the God of mercies and Father of all comfort. Your poor father is, I hope, almost senseless to the calamity; the unconscious instru

ment of Divine Providence knows it not; and

your

mother is in Heaven. It is sweet to be roused from a frightful dream by the song of birds, and the gladsome rays of the morning. Ah, how infinitely more sweet to be awakened from the blackness and amazement of a sudden horror by the glories of God manifest, and the hallelujahs of angels.

“As to what regards yourself, I approve altogether of your abandoning what you justly call vanities. I look upon you as a man called by sorrow and anguish, and a strange desolation of hopes, into quietness, and a soul set apart and made peculiar to God; we cannot arrive at any portion of heavenly bliss without, in some measure, imitating Christ. And they arrive at the largest inheritance who imitate the most difficult parts of His character, and, bowed down and crushed under foot, cry, in fulness of faith, 'Father, Thy will be done.'

I wish above measure to have you for a little while here; no visitants shall blow on the nakedness of your feelings ; you shall be quiet, that your spirit may be healed. I see no possible objection, unless your father's helplessness prevent you, and unless you are necessary to him. If this be not the case, I charge you write me that you will come.

“I charge you, my dearest friend, not to dare to encourage gloom or despair ; you are a temporary sharer in human miseries, that you may be an eternal partaker of the Divine nature. I charge you, if by any means it be possible, come to me.”

Lamb rose above his great sorrow. In the first hours of his trial he had tried to cut himself away

from every

58

LIFE OF SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE.

pursuit that was not directly sanctified by religion. · Mention nothing of poetry,” he wrote. “I have destroyed every vestige of past vanities of that kind. ... I charge you, don't think of coming to see me. Write. I will not see you if you come. God Almighty love you and all of us." He begged Coleridge to be reconciled to his family. For his own part he intended to put by all thought of love and marriage, and give up his life, while reason and strength remained to him, to the afflicted of his desolated household. But stage by stage he returned to the things of the world. Mary came back to reason and to a quiet and touching consciousness of what had happened, and death took their father from his imbecility. Then the sun began to shine with a subdued radiance on the lives of brother and sister. Charles wrote poetry as before, and when a second edition of Coleridge's poems appeared in 1797 the little volume included poems both by Lamb and Lloyd. Let us reflect on the ennobling effects of noble pain, and we may be pardoned for wondering that after passing through this furnace of affliction Charles Lamb did not grow to a yet loftier stature of manhood. The marvel is not so much that he was great, as that he was not greater.

CHAPTER V

T Stowey, affairs went on satisfactorily. "We are

all-wife, bantling, and self, remarkably well." Coleridge wrote: “Mrs. Coleridge loves Stowey, and loves Thomas Poole and his mother, who love her. ... Our house is better than we expected—there is a comfortable bedroom and sitting-room for C. Lloyd, and another for us, a room for Nanny, a kitchen and out-house. .. We have a pretty garden, and I am already an expert : gardener, and both my hands can exhibit a callum as testimonials of their industry. A communication has been made from our orchard into T. Poole's garden, and from thence to Cruikshank's, a friend of mine, and a young married man, whose wife is

very amiable, and from all this you will conclude we are happy.” Succeeding letters give hint of a less favourable condition. It turned out that Charles Lloyd was subject to fits, and the domestic quiet of Coleridge's home was thereby seriously disturbed. Immediately before the removal from Bristol, Coleridge met for the first time William Wordsworth, the author of "Descriptive Sketches," the book which in his judgment had signalized the advent of a great poetic genius. Wordsworth, the son of an attorney, was born

was

in Cockermouth, Cumberland, about two years before Coleridge's birth in Devonshire. At seventeen he went up to Cambridge, and in 1791, when Coleridge was preparing to enter the University, Wordsworth was preparing to leave it. They had not met at Cambridge, and Coleridge's first knowledge of Wordsworth gathered from the poems published in 1793. Wordsworth went from Cambridge to London, stayed there some time, and then visited North Wales on a pedestrian tour with a friend. Coleridge took the same course three years later. In the autumn of 1791, Wordsworth went to Paris, and from thence to Orleans and Blois, remaining abroad some thirteen months. Between the beginning of 1793, when Coleridge was being enmeshed in the debts which led to his career as a dragoon, and the beginning of 1796, Wordsworth lived among friends in London and elsewhere. He had been counselled to take orders, and was offered a curacy at Harwich, but his sympathies were, at least temporarily, estranged from the Church. He tried to establish a newspaper. The scheme came to nothing, and a good deal of political enthusiasm on the side of the democracy found no immediate outlet. A friend named Calvert, left him a legacy of £900, and on the interest of this sum he contrived to live. His volume of poetry had no special success. The Monthly Review (1793), a recognized authority, reviewed the book in these terms : “More descriptive poetry! Have we not yet enough? Must eternal changes be rung on upland and lowland, and nodding forests, and brooding clouds, and cells, and dells, and dingles ? Yes; more and yet more : so it is decreed.” The critic quoted the familiar

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