Thereafter she was most often lucid, warm, understanding, and much admired by such friends as the essayist William Hazlitt. But she was almost annually visited by the depressive illness which led to her confinement for weeks at a time in a private hospital in Hoxton.
(Lamb too had been confined briefly at Hoxton for his mental state in 1795, but there was no later recurrence.) Both were known for their capacity for friendship and for their mid-life weekly gatherings of writers, lawyers, actors, and the odd but interesting "characters" for whom Lamb had a weakness.
"A Vision of Repentance" ("I saw a famous fountain, in my dream") treats a truly Romantic theme—the hope of God's forgiveness for the sin of a repentant Psyche.
It has a Keatsian charm but little lasting distinction.
The family was ambitious for its two sons, John and Charles, and successful in entering Charles at Christ's Hospital, a London charity school of merit, on 9 October 1782.
Here he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a fellow pupil who was Lamb's close friend for the rest of their lives and who helped stir his growing interest in poetry. (Because he had a severe stammer, he did not seek a university career, then intended to prepare young men for orders in the Church of England.) In September 1791 he found work as a clerk at the South Sea House, but he left the following February, and in April he became a clerk at the East India Company, where he remained for thirty-three years, never feeling fitted for the work nor much interested in "business," but managing to survive, though without promotion."The Wife's Trial," a late play in blank verse, is of minor interest.It was published in the December 1828 issue of ——(in prose), was roundly hissed in London when it opened on 10 December 1806, but it was successfully produced in the United States thereafter.His early novel, (1798), is also rooted in the Ann episode.After the death of Samuel Salt in 1792 the Lambs were in straitened circumstances, mother and father both ill.His "Anna" sonnets, which appeared in the 17 editions of Coleridge's , have a sentimental, nostalgic quality: "Was it some sweet device of Faery / That mocked my steps with many a lonely glade, / And fancied wanderings with a fair-hair'd maid?"; "Methinks how dainty sweet it were, reclin'd"; "When last I roved these winding wood-walks green"; "A timid grace sits trembling in her eye." All were written after the love affair had ended, to Lamb's regret.The great French critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve admired Lamb's early sonnet "Innocence" so much that he translated it, but most critics then and now agree with Leigh Hunt that Lamb "wanted sufficient heat and music to render his poetry as good as his prose." Alaric A.Watts, another of Lamb's contemporaries, wrote a jingle on Lamb that includes these lines: "For what if thy Muse will be sometimes perverse, / And present us with prose when she means to give verse? Barnett, and William Kean Seymour, however, find in much of it charm, honesty, strength of feeling, and originality.Lamb is increasingly becoming known, too, for his critical writings.(1980) gathers his criticism from all sources, including letters.