Lamb, Charles - Letter to Coleridge
Type of Spiritual Experience
The editor of Lamb’s letters conjectured that the "other person" to whom Lamb refers was Ann Simmons, “a girl at Widford for whom he had an attachment that had been discouraged, if not forbidden, by her friends”.
The editor believed that this was the only attack of the kind that Lamb suffered. In a sense therefore, the attack might be more correctly diagnosed as a nervous breakdown caused by grief and unrequited love. Lamb also later told Coleridge that during his illness he had sometimes believed himself to be Young Norval in Home's "Douglas."
Charles Lamb [from Manic Depression and Creativity – D Jablow Hershman and Dr Julian Lieb] Dream not Coleridge, of having tasted all the grandeur and wildness of fancy until you have gone mad”
A description of the experience
CHARLES LAMB TO S. T. COLERIDG
[Postmark May 27, 1796.]
Coleridge, I know not what suffering scenes you have gone through at Bristol--my life has been somewhat diversified of late. The 6 weeks that finished last year and began this your very humble servant spent very agreeably in a mad house at Hoxton--I am got somewhat rational now, and don't bite any one. But mad I was--and many a vagary my imagination played with me, enough to make a volume if all told.
My Sonnets I have extended to the number of nine since I saw you, and will some day communicate to you.
I am beginning a poem in blank verse, which if I finish I publish…………Coleridge, it may convince you of my regards for you when I tell you my head ran on you in my madness, as much almost as on another Person, who I am inclined to think was the more immediate cause of my temporary frenzy.
The sonnet I send you has small merit as poetry but you will be curious to read it when I tell you it was written in my prison-house in one of my lucid Intervals.