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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, [Early 1827]

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
[No date. (1827.)]

MY dear B. B.—A gentleman I never saw before brought me your welcome present—imagine a scraping, fiddling, fidgetting, petit-maitre of a dancing school advancing into my plain parlour with a coupee and a sideling bow, and presenting the book as if he had been handing a glass of lemonade to a young miss—imagine this, and contrast it with the serious nature of the book presented! Then task your imagination, reversing this picture, to conceive of quite an opposite messenger, a lean, straitlocked, wheyfaced methodist, for such was he in reality who brought it, the Genius (it seems) of the Wesleyan Magazine. Certes, friend B., thy Widow’s tale is too horrible, spite of the lenitives of Religion, to embody in verse: I hold prose to be the appropriate expositor of such atrocities! No offence, but it is a cordial that makes the heart sick. Still thy skill in compounding it I not deny. I turn to what gave me less mingled pleasure. I find markd with pencil these pages in thy pretty book, and fear I have been penurious.


page 52, 53 capital.

59 6th stanza exquisite simile.

61 11th stanza equally good.

108 3d stanza, I long to see van Balen.

111 a downright good sonnet. Dixi.

153 Lines at the bottom.

So you see, I read, hear, and mark, if I don’t learn—In short this little volume is no discredit to any of your former, and betrays none of the Senility you fear about. Apropos of Van Balen, an artist who painted me lately had painted a Blackamoor praying, and not filling his canvas, stuffd in his little girl aside of Blacky, gaping at him unmeaningly; and then didn’t know what to call it. Now for a picture to be promoted to the Exhibition (Suffolk Street) as Historical, a subject is requisite. What does me? I but christen it the “Young Catechist” and furbishd it with Dialogue following, which dubb’d it an Historical Painting. Nothing to a friend at need.
While this tawny Ethiop prayeth,
Painter, who is She that stayeth
By, with skin of whitest lustre;
Sunny locks, a shining cluster;
Saintlike seeming to direct him
To the Power that must protect him?
Is she of the heav’nborn Three,
Meek Hope, strong Faith, sweet Charity?
Or some Cherub?
They you mention
Far transcend my weak invention.
’Tis a simple Christian child,
Missionary young and mild,
From her store of script’ral knowledge
(Bible-taught without a college)
Which by reading she could gather,
Teaches him to say Our Father
To the common Parent, who
Colour not respects nor hue.
White and Black in him have part,
Who looks not to the skin, but heart.—
When I’d done it, the Artist (who had clapt in Miss merely as a fill-space) swore I exprest his full meaning, and the damosel bridled up into a Missionary’s vanity. I like verses to explain Pictures: seldom Pictures to illustrate Poems. Your wood cut is a rueful Lignum Mortis. By the by, is the widow likely to marry again?

I am giving the fruit of my Old Play reading at the Museum to Hone, who sets forth a Portion weekly in the Table Book. Do you see it? How is Mitford?—

I’ll just hint that the Pitcher, the Chord and the Bowl are a little too often repeated (passim) in your Book, and that on page 17 last line but 4 him is put for he, but the poor widow I take it had
small leisure for grammatical niceties. Don’t you see there’s He myself, and him; why not both him? likewise imperviously is cruelly spelt imperiously. These are trifles, and I honestly like your [book,] and you for giving it, tho’ I really am ashamed of so many presents.

I can think of no news, therefore I will end with mine and Mary’s kindest remembrances to you and yours.

C. L.