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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bryan Waller Procter, [29 January? 1829]

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
[? Jan. 29th, 1829.]

WHEN Miss Ouldcroft (who is now Mrs. Beddome, and Bed—dom’d to her!) was at Enfield, which she was in summertime, and owed her health to its sun and genial influences, she wisited (with young lady-like impertinence) a poor man’s cottage that had a pretty baby (O the yearnling!), and gave it fine caps and sweetmeats. On a day, broke into the parlour our two maids uproarious. “O ma’am, who do you think Miss Ouldcroft (they pronounce it Holcroft) has been working a cap for?” “A child,” answered Mary, in true Shandean female simplicity. “It’s the man’s child as was taken up for sheep-stealing.” Miss Ouldcroft was staggered, and would have cut the connection; but by main force I made her go
and take her leave of her protégeée (which I only spell with a g because I can’t make a pretty j). I thought, if she went no more, the Abactor or Abactor’s wife (vide
Ainsworth) would suppose she had heard something; and I have delicacy for a sheep-stealer. The overseers actually overhauled a mutton-pie at the baker’s (his first, last, and only hope of mutton-pie), which he never came to eat, and thence inferred his guilt. Per occasionem cujus I framed the sonnet; observe its elaborate construction. I was four days about it.
Suck, baby, suck, Mother’s love grows by giving,
Drain the sweet founts that only thrive by wasting;
Black Manhood comes, when riotous guilty living
Hands thee the cup that shall be death in tasting.
Kiss, baby, kiss, Mother’s lips shine by kisses,
Choke the warm breath that else would fall in blessings;
Black Manhood comes, when turbulent guilty blisses
Tend thee the kiss that poisons ’mid caressings.
Hang, baby, hang, mother’s love loves such forces,
Choke the fond neck that bends still to thy clinging;
Black Manhood comes, when violent lawless courses
Leave thee a spectacle in rude air swinging.
So sang a wither’d Sibyl energetical,
And bann’d the ungiving door with lips prophetical.

Barry, study that sonnet. It is curiously and perversely elaborate. ’Tis a choking subject, and therefore the reader is directed to the structure of it. See you? and was this a fourteener to be rejected by a trumpery annual? forsooth, ’twould shock all mothers; and may all mothers, who would so be shocked, bed dom’d! as if mothers were such sort of logicians as to infer the future hanging of their child from the theoretical hangibility (or capacity of being hanged, if the judge pleases) of every infant born with a neck on. Oh B. C., my whole heart is faint, and my whole head is sick (how is it?) at this damned, canting, unmasculine unbxwdy (I had almost said) age! Don’t show this to your child’s mother or I shall be Orpheusized, scattered into Hebras. Damn the King, lords, commons, and specially (as I said on Muswell Hill on a Sunday when I could get no beer a quarter before one) all Bishops, Priests and Curates. Vale.