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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, [17 August 1824]

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
[p.m. August 17, 1824.]

DEAR B. B.—I congratulate you on getting a house over your head. I find the comfort of it I am sure. At my town lodgings the Mistress was always quarrelling with our maid; and at my place of rustication, the whole family were always beating one another, brothers beating sisters (one a most beautiful girl lamed for life), father beating sons and daughters, and son again beating his father, knocking him fairly down, a scene I never before witnessed, but was called out of bed by the unnatural blows, the parricidal colour of which, tho’ my morals could not but condemn, yet my reason did heartily approve, and in the issue the house was quieter for a day or so than I had ever known. I am now all harmony and quiet, even to the sometimes wishing back again some of the old rufflings. There is something stirring in these civil broils.

The Album shall be attended to. If I can light upon a few appropriate rhymes (but rhymes come with difficulty from me now) I shall beg a place in the neat margin of your young housekeeper.

The Prometheus Unbound, is a capital story. The Literal rogue! What if you had ordered Elfrida in sheets! She’d have been sent up, I warrant you. Or bid him clasp his bible (i.e. to his bosom)—he’d ha clapt on a brass clasp, no doubt.—

I can no more understand Shelly than you can. His poetry is “thin sewn with profit or delight.” Yet I must point to your notice a sonnet conceivd and expressed with a witty delicacy. It is that addressed to one who hated him, but who could not persuade him to hate him again. His coyness to the other’s passion (for hate demands a return as much as Love, and starves without it) is most arch and pleasant. Pray, like it very much.

For his theories and nostrums they are oracular enough, but I either comprehend ’em not, or there is miching malice and mischief in ’em. But for the most part ringing with their own emptiness. Hazlitt said well of ’em—Many are wiser and better for reading Shakspeare, but nobody was ever wiser or better for reading Sh—y.

I wonder you will sow your correspondence on so barren a ground as I am, that make such poor returns. But my head akes at the bare thought of letter writing. I wish all the ink in the ocean dried up, and would listen to the quills shivering [? shrivelling] up in the candle flame, like parching martyrs. The same indispositn
to write it is has stopt my Elias, but you will see a futile Effort in the next No., “wrung from me with slow pain.”

The fact is, my head is seldom cool enough. I am dreadfully indolent. To have to do anything—to order me a new coat, for instance, tho’ my old buttons are shelled like beans—is an effort.

My pen stammers like my tongue. What cool craniums those old enditers of Folios must have had. What a mortify’d pulse. Well, once more I throw myself on your mercy—Wishing peace in thy new dwelling—

C. Lamb.