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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, [23 January 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. January 23, 1824.]

MY dear Sir—That peevish letter of mine, which was meant to convey an apology for my incapacity to write, seems to have been taken by you in too serious a light. It was only my way of telling you I had a severe cold. The fact is I have been insuperably dull and lethargic for many weeks, and cannot rise to the vigour of a Letter, much less an Essay. The London must do without me for a time, a time, and half a time, for I have lost all interest about it, and whether I shall recover it again I know not. I will bridle my pen another time, & not teaze and puzzle you with my aridities. I shall begin to feel a little more alive with the
spring. Winter is to me (mild or harsh) always a great trial of the spirits. I am ashamed not to have noticed your
tribute to Woolman, whom we love so much. It is done in your good manner. Your friend Taylor called upon me some time since, and seems a very amiable man. His last story is painfully fine. His Book I “like.” It is only too stuft with scripture, too Parsonish. The best thing in it is the Boy’s own story. When I say it is too full of Scripture, I mean it is too full of direct quotations; no book can have too much of silent scripture in it. But the natural power of a story is diminished when the uppermost purpose in the writer seems to be to recommend something else, viz Religion. You know what Horace says of the Deus intersit. I am not able to explain myself, you must do it for me.—

My Sister’s part in the Leicester School (about two thirds) was purely her own; as it was (to the same quantity) in the Shakspeare Tales which bear my name. I wrote only the Witch Aunt, the first going to Church, and the final Story about a little Indian girl in a Ship.

Your account of my Black Balling amused me. I think, as Quakers, they did right. There are some things hard to be understood.

The more I think the more I am vexed at having puzzled you with that Letter, but I have been so out of Letter writing of late years, that it is a sore effort to sit down to it, & I felt in your debt, and sat down waywardly to pay you in bad money. Never mind my dulness, I am used to long intervals of it. The heavens seem brass to me—then again comes the refreshing shower. “I have been merry once or twice ere now.”

You said something about Mr. Mitford in a late letter, which I believe I did not advert to. I shall be happy to show him my Milton (it is all the show things I have) at any time he will take the trouble of a jaunt to Islington. I do also hope to see Mr. Taylor there some day. Pray say so to both.

Coleridge’s book is good part printed, but sticks a little for more copy. It bears an unsaleable Title—Extracts from Bishop Leighton—but I am confident there will be plenty of good notes in it, more of Bishop Coleridge than Leighton, I hope; for what is Leighton?

Do you trouble yourself about Libel cases? The Decision against Hunt for the “Vision of Judgment” made me sick. What is to become of the old talk about our good old King—his personal virtues saving us from a revolution &c. &c. Why, none that think it can utter it now. It must stink. And the Vision is really, as to Him-ward, such a tolerant good humour’d thing. What a wretched thing a Lord Chief Justice is, always was, & will be!


Keep your good spirits up, dear B B—mine will return—They are at present in abeyance. But I am rather lethargic than miserable. I don’t know but a good horse whip would be more beneficial to me than Physic. My head, without aching, will teach yours to ache. It is well I am getting to the conclusion. I will send a better letter when I am a better man. Let me thank you for your kind concern for me (which I trust will have reason soon to be dissipated) & assure you that it gives me pleasure to hear from you.—

Yours truly
C. L.