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The Best Letters Of Charles Lamb - Letter 71 To Letter 80 Post by :Priscilla Category :Nonfictions Author :Charles Lamb Date :May 2012 Read :1478

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The Best Letters Of Charles Lamb - Letter 71 To Letter 80

LETTER LXXI TO LETTER LXXX

LETTER LXXI.

TO WALTER WILSON.

_December 16, 1822.

Dear Wilson,--_Lightning I was going to call you. You must have thought me negligent in not answering your letter sooner. But I have a habit of never writing letters but at the office; 'tis so much time cribbed out of the Company; and I am but just got out of the thick of a tea-sale, in which most of the entry of notes, deposits, etc., usually falls to my share.

I have nothing of De Foe's but two or three novels and the "Plague History." (1) I can give you no information about him. As a slight general character of what I remember of them (for I have not looked into them latterly), I would say that in the appearance of _truth, in all the incidents and conversations that occur in them, they exceed any works of fiction I am acquainted with. It is perfect illusion. The _author never appears in these self-narratives (for so they ought to be called, or rather auto-biographies), but the _narrator chains us down to an implicit belief in everything he says. There is all the minute detail of a log-book in it. Dates are painfully pressed upon the memory. Facts are repeated over and over in varying phrases, till you cannot choose but believe them. It is like reading evidence given in a court of justice. So anxious the story-teller seems that the truth should be clearly comprehended that when he has told us a matter of fact or a motive, in a line or two farther down he _repeats it with his favorite figure of speech, "I say" so and so, though he had made it abundantly plain before. This is in imitation of the common people's way of speaking, or rather of the way in which they are addressed by a master or mistress who wishes to impress something upon their memories, and has a wonderful effect upon matter-of-fact readers. Indeed, it is to such principally that he writes. His style is everywhere beautiful, but plain and _homely. "Robinson Crusoe" is delightful to all ranks and classes; but it is easy to see that it is written in phraseology peculiarly adapted to the lower conditions of readers,--hence it is an especial favorite with seafaring men, poor boys, servant-maids, etc. His novels are capital kitchen-reading, while they are worthy, from their deep interest, to find a shelf in the libraries of the wealthiest and the most learned. His passion for _matter-of-fact narrative sometimes betrayed him into a long relation of common incidents, which might happen to any man, and have no interest but the intense appearance of truth in them, to recommend them. The whole latter half or two-thirds of "Colonel Jack" is of this description. The beginning of "Colonel Jack" is the most affecting natural picture of a young thief that was ever drawn. His losing the stolen money in the hollow of a tree, and finding it again when he was in despair, and then being in equal distress at not knowing how to dispose of it, and several similar touches in the early history of the Colonel, evince a deep knowledge of human nature, and putting out of question the superior _romantic interest of the latter, in my mind very much exceed "Crusoe." "Roxana" (first edition) is the next in interest, though he left out the best part of it in subsequent editions from a foolish hypercriticism of his friend Southerne. But "Moll Flanders," the "Account of the Plague," etc., are all of one family, and have the same stamp of character. Believe me, with friendly recollections--Brother (as I used to call you), Yours,

C. LAMB.

(1) Wilson was preparing a Life of De Foe, and had written to Lamb for guidance.

 

LETTER LXXII.

TO BERNARD BARTON.

_December 23, 1822.

Dear Sir,--I have been so distracted with business and one thing or other, I have not had a quiet quarter of an hour for epistolary purposes. Christmas, too, is come, which always puts a rattle into my morning skull. It is a visiting, unquiet, unquakerish season. I get more and more in love with solitude, and proportionately hampered with company. I hope you have some holidays at this period. I have one day,--Christmas Day; alas! too few to commemorate the season. All work and no play dulls me. Company is not play, but many times bard work. To play, is for a man to do what he pleases, or to do nothing,--to go about soothing his particular fancies. I have lived to a time of life to have outlived the good hours, the nine-o'clock suppers, with a bright hour or two to clear up in afterwards. Now you cannot get tea before that hour, and then sit gaping, music bothered perhaps, till half-past twelve brings up the tray; and what you steal of convivial enjoyment after, is heavily paid for in the disquiet of to-morrow's head.

I am pleased with your liking "John Woodvil," and amused with your knowledge of our drama being confined to Shakspeare and Miss Baillie. What a world of fine territory between Land's End and Johnny Groat's have you missed traversing! I could almost envy you to have so much to read. I feel as if I had read all the books I want to read. Oh, to forget Fielding, Steele, etc., and read 'em new!

Can you tell me a likely place where I could pick up cheap Fox's Journal? There are no Quaker circulating libraries? Elwood, too, I must have. I rather grudge that Southey has taken up the history of your people; I am afraid he will put in some levity. I am afraid I am not quite exempt from that fault in certain magazine articles, where I have introduced mention of them. Were they to do again, I would reform them. Why should not you write a poetical account of your old worthies, deducing them from Fox to Woolman? But I remember you did talk of something of that kind, as a counterpart to the "Ecclesiastical Sketches." But would not a poem be more consecutive than a string of sonnets? You have no martyrs _quite to the fire, I think, among you, but plenty of heroic confessors, spirit-martyrs, lamb-lions. Think of it; it would be better than a series of sonnets on "Eminent Bankers." I like a hit at our way of life, though it does well for me,--better than anything short of _all one's time to one's self; for which alone I rankle with envy at the rich. Books are good, and pictures are good, and money to buy them therefore good; but to buy _time,_--in other words, life!

The "compliments of the time" to you, should end my letter; to a Friend, I suppose, I must say the "sincerity of the season:" I hope they both mean the same. With excuses for this hastily penned note, believe me, with great respect,

C. LAMB.

 

LETTER LXXIII.

TO MISS WORDSWORTH.

Mary perfectly approves of the appropriation of the _feathers, and wishes them peacock's for your fair niece's sake.

_Christmas_, 1822.

Dear Miss Wordsworth,--I had just written the above endearing words when Monkhouse tapped me on the shoulder with an invitation to cold goose pie, which I was not bird of that sort enough to decline. Mrs. Monkhouse, I am most happy to say, is better Mary has been tormented with a rheumatism, which is leaving her, I am suffering from the festivities of the season. I wonder how my misused carcase holds it out. I have played the experimental philosopher on it, that's certain. Willy shall be welcome to a mince-pie and a bout at commerce whenever he comes. He was in our eye. I am glad you liked my new year's speculations; everybody likes them, except the author of the "Pleasures of Hope." Disappointment attend him! How I like to be liked, and _what I do to be liked! They flatter me in magazines, newspapers, and all the minor reviews; the Quarterlies hold aloof. But they must come into it in time, or their leaves be waste paper. Salute Trinity Library in my name. Two special things are worth seeing at Cambridge,--a portrait of Cromwell at Sidney, and a better of Dr. Harvey (who found out that blood was red) at Dr. Davy's; you should see them. Coleridge is pretty well; I have not seen, him, but hear often of him, from Allsop, who sends me hares and pheasants twice a week; I can hardly take so fast as he gives. I have almost forgotten butcher's meat as plebeian. Are you not glad the cold is gone? I find winters not so agreeable as they used to be "when winter bleak had charms forme," I cannot conjure up a kind similitude for those snowy flakes. Let them keep to twelfth-cakes!

Mrs. Paris, our Cambridge friend, has been in town. You do not know the Watfords in Trampington Street. They are capital people. Ask anybody you meet, who is the biggest woman in Cambridge, and I 'll hold you a wager they'll say Mrs. Smith; she broke down two benches in Trinity Gardens,--one on the confines of St. John's, which occasioned a litigation between the Societies as to repairing it. In warm weather, she retires into an ice-cellar (literally!), and dates the returns of the years from a hot Thursday some twenty years back. She sits in a room with opposite doors and windows, to let in a thorough draught, which gives her slenderer friends tooth-aches. She is to be seen in the market every morning at ten cheapening fowls, which I observe the Cambridge poulterers are not sufficiently careful to stump.

Having now answered most of the points contained in your letter, let me end with assuring you of our very best kindness, and excuse Mary for not handling the pen on this occasion, especially as it has fallen into so much better hands! Will Dr. W. accept of my respects at the end of a foolish letter?

C. L.

 

LETTER LXXIV.

TO MR. AND MRS. BRUTON. (1)

_January 6, 1823.

The pig was above my feeble praise. It was a dear pigmy. There was some contention as to who should have the ears; but in spite of his obstinacy (deaf as these little creatures are to advice), I contrived to get at one of them.

It came in boots, too, which I took as a favor. Generally these petty-toes, pretty toes I are missing: but I suppose he wore them to look taller.

He must have been the least of his race. His little foots would have gone into the silver slipper. I take him to have beec a Chinese and a female.

If Evelyn could have seen him, he would never have farrowed two such prodigious volumes, seeing how much good can be contained in--how small a compass!

He crackled delicately.

I left a blank at the top of my letter, not being determined which to address it to j so farmer and farmer's wife will please to divide our thanks. May your granaries be full, and your rats empty, and your chickens plump, and your envious neighbors lean, and your laborers busy, and you as idle and as happy as the day is long!


VIVE L'AGRICULTURE!

How do you make your pigs so little?
They are vastly engaging at the age.
I was so myself.
Now I am a disagreeable old hog,
A middle-aged gentleman-and-a-half;
My faculties (thank God!) are not much impaired.


I have my sight, hearing, taste, pretty perfect, and can read the Lord's Prayer in common type, by the help of a candle, without making many mistakes....

Many happy returns, not of the pig, but of the New Year, to both. Mary, for her share of the pig and the memoirs, desires to send the same.

Yours truly,

C. LAMB.

(1) Hertfordshire connections of the Lambs.

 

LETTER LXXV.

TO BERNARD BARTON. (1)

_January 9, 1823.

Throw yourself on the world without any rational plan of support beyond what the chance employ of booksellers would afford you!

Throw yourself, rather, my dear sir, from the steep Tarpeian rock slap-dash headlong upon iron spikes. If you had but five consolatory minutes between the desk and the bed, make much of them, and live a century in them, rather than turn slave to the booksellers. They are Turks and Tartars when they have poor authors at their beck. Hitherto you have been at arm's length from them. Come not within their grasp. I have known many authors want for bread, some repining, others envying the blessed security of a counting-house, all agreeing they had rather have been tailors, weavers,--what not,--rather than the things they were. I have known some starved, some to go mad, one dear friend literally dying in a workhouse. You know not what a rapacious, dishonest set these booksellers are. Ask even Southey, who (a single case almost) has made a fortune by book-drudgery, what he has found them. Oh, you know not--may you never know!--the miseries of subsisting by authorship. 'Tis a pretty appendage to a situation like yours or mine, but a slavery, worse than all slavery, to be a bookseller's dependant, to drudge your brains for pots of ale and breasts of mutton, to change your free thoughts and voluntary numbers for ungracious task-work. Those fellows hate _us_. The reason I take to be that, contrary to other trades, in which the master gets all the credit (a Jeweller or silversmith for instance), and the journeyman, who really does the fine work, is in the background, in _our work the world gives all the credit to us, whom _they consider as _their journeymen, and therefore do they hate us, and cheat us, and oppress us, and would wring the blood of as out, to put another sixpence in their mechanic pouches! I contend that a bookseller has a _relative honesty towards authors, not like his honesty to the rest of the world. Baldwin, who first engaged me as Elia, has not paid me up yet (nor any of us without repeated mortifying appeals). Yet how the knave fawned when I was of service to him! Yet I daresay the fellow is punctual in settling his milk-score, etc.

Keep to your bank, and the bank will keep you. Trust not to the public; you may hang, starve, drown yourself, for anything that worthy _personage cares. I bless every star that Providence, not seeing good to make me independent, has seen it next good to settle me upon the stable foundation of Leadenhall. Sit down, good B.B., in the banking-office; what! is there not from six to eleven P.M. six days in the week, and is there not all Sunday? Fie! what a superfluity of man's time, if you could think so,--enough for relaxation, mirth, converse, poetry, good thoughts, quiet thoughts. Oh, the corroding, torturing, tormenting thoughts that disturb the brain of the unlucky wight who must draw upon it for daily sustenance! Henceforth I retract all my foul complaints of mercantile employment; look upon them as lovers' quarrels. I was but half in earnest. Welcome, dead timber of a desk, that makes me live! A little grumbling is a wholesome medicine for the spleen, but in my inner heart do I approve and embrace this our close, but unharassing, way of life. I am quite serious. If you can send me Fox, I will not keep it _six weeks_, and will return it, with warm thanks to yourself and friend, without blot or dog's-ear. You will much oblige me by this kindness.

Yours truly,

C. LAMB.

(1) The Quaker poet. Mr. Barton was a clerk in the bank of the Messrs. Alexander, of Woodbridge, in Suffolk. Encouraged by his literary success, he thought of throwing up his clerkship and trusting to his pen for a livelihood,--a design from which he was happily diverted by his friends.

 

LETTER LXXVI.

TO MISS HUTCHINSON.

_April 25, 1823.

Dear Miss H.,--Mary has such an invincible reluctance to any epistolary exertion that I am sparing her a mortification by taking the pen from her. The plain truth is, she writes such a mean, detestable hand that she is ashamed of the formation of her letters. There is an essential poverty and abjectness in the frame of them. They look like begging letters. And then she is sure to omit a most substantial word in the second draught (for she never ventures an epistle without a foul copy first), which is obliged to be interlined,--which spoils the neatest epistle, you know. Her figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc., where she has occasion to express numerals, as in the date (25th April, 1823), are not figures, but figurantes; and the combined posse go staggering up and down shameless, as drunkards in the daytime. It is no better when she rules her paper. Her lines "are not less erring" than her words; a sort of unnatural parallel lines, that are perpetually threatening to meet,--which, you know, is quite contrary to Euclid. Her very blots are not bold, like this (_here a large blot is inserted_), but poor smears, half left in and half scratched out, with another smear left in their place. I like a clear letter; a bold, free hand and a fearless flourish. Then she has always to go through them (a second operation) to dot her _i_'s and cross her _t_'s. I don't think she could make a corkscrew if she tried,--which has such a fine effect at the end or middle of an epistle, and fills up.

There is a corkscrew! One of the best I ever drew. (1) By the way, what incomparable whiskey that was of Monkhouse's! But if I am to write a letter, let me begin, and not stand flourishing like a fencer at a fair.

_April 25, 1823.

Dear Miss H.,--It gives me great pleasure (the letter now begins) to hear that you got down so smoothly, and that Mrs. Monkhouse's spirits are so good and enterprising. (2) It shows, whatever her posture may be, that her mind at least is not supine. I hope the excursion will enable the former to keep pace with its outstripping neighbor. Pray present our kindest wishes to her and all (that sentence should properly have come into the postscript; but we airy, mercurial spirits, there is no keeping us in). "Time" (as was said of one of us) "toils after us in vain." I am afraid our co-visit with Coleridge was a dream. I shall not get away before the end or middle of June, and then you will be frog-hopping at Boulogne. And besides, I think the Gilmans would scarce trust him with us; I have a malicious knack at cutting of apron-strings. The saints' days you speak of have long since fled to heaven with Astraea, and the cold piety of the age lacks fervor to recall them; only Peter left his key,--the iron one of the two that "shuts amain,"--and that is the reason I am locked up. Meanwhile, of afternoons we pick up primroses at Dalston, and Mary corrects me when I call 'em cowslips. God bless you all, and pray remember me euphoniously to Mr. Gruvellegan. That Lee Priory must be a dainty bower. Is it built of flints? and does it stand at Kingsgate?

(1) Lamb was fond of this flourish, and it is frequently found in his letters.

(2) Miss Hutchinson's invalid relative.

 

LETTER LXXVII.

TO BERNARD BARTON.

_September 2, 1823.

Dear B.B.,--What will you not say to my not writing? You cannot say I do not write now. Hessey has not used your kind sonnet, nor have I seen it. Pray send me a copy. Neither have I heard any more of your friend's MS., which I will reclaim whenever you please. When you come Londonward, you will find me no longer in Covent Garden: I have a cottage in Colebrook Row, Islington,--a cottage, for it is detached; a white house, with six good rooms, The New River (rather elderly by this time) runs (if a moderate walking pace can be so termed) close to the foot of the house; and behind is a spacious garden with vines (I assure you), pears, strawberries, parsnips, leeks, carrots, cabbages, to delight the heart of old Alcinous. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining-room, all studded over and rough with old books; and above is a lightsome drawing-room, three windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great lord, never having had a house before.

The "London," I fear, falls off. I linger among its creaking rafters, like the last rat; it will topple down if they don't get some buttresses. They have pulled down three,--Hazlitt, Procter, and their best stay, kind, light-hearted Wainewright, their Janus. (1) The best is, neither of our fortunes is concerned in it.

I heard of you from Mr. Pulham this morning, and that gave a fillip to my laziness, which has been intolerable; but I am so taken up with pruning and gardening,--quite a new sort of occupation to me. I have gathered my jargonels; but my Windsor pears are backward. The former were of exquisite raciness. I do now sit under my own vine, and contemplate the growth of vegetable nature. I can now understand in what sense they speak of father Adam. I recognize the paternity while I watch my tulips. I almost fell with him, for the first day I turned a drunken gardener (as he let in the serpent) into my Eden; and he laid about him, lopping off some choice boughs, etc., which hung over from a neighbor's garden, and in his blind zeal laid waste a shade which had sheltered their window from the gaze of passers-by. The old gentlewoman (fury made her not handsome) could scarcely be reconciled by all my fine words. There was no buttering her parsnips. She talked of the law. What a lapse to commit on the first day of my happy "garden state"!

I hope you transmitted the Fox-Journal to its owner, with suitable thanks. Mr. Cary, the Dante man, dines with me to-day. He is a mode of a country parson, lean (as a curate ought to be), modest, sensible, no obtruder of church dogmas, quite a different man from Southey. You would like him. Pray accept this for a letter, and believe me, with sincere regards, yours,

C.L.

(1) Wainewright, the notorious poisoner, who, under the name of "Janus Weathercock," contributed various frothy papers on art and literature to the "London Magazine."

LETTER LXXVIII.

TO MRS. HAZLITT.

_November_, 1823.

Dear Mrs. H.,--Sitting down to write a letter is such a painful operation to Mary that you must accept me as her proxy. You have seen our house. What I now tell you is literally true. Yesterday week, George Dyer called upon us, at one o'clock (_bright noonday_), on his way to dine with Mrs. Barbauld at Newington. He sat with Mary about half an hour, and took leave. The maid saw him go out from her kitchen window, but suddenly losing sight of him, ran up in a fright to Mary. G.D., instead of keeping the slip that leads to the gate, had deliberately, staff in hand, in broad, open day, marched into the New River. (1) He had not his spectacles on, and you know his absence. Who helped him out, they can hardly tell; but between 'em they got him out, drenched thro' and thro'. A mob collected by that time, and accompanied him in. "Send for the doctor!" they said; and a one-eyed fellow, dirty and drunk, was fetched from the public-house at the end, where it seem he lurks for the sake of picking up water-practice, having formerly had a medal from the Humane Society for some rescue. By his advice the patient was put between blankets; and when I came home at four to dinner, I found G.D. a-bed, and raving, light-headed with the brandy-and-water which the doctor had administered. He sang, laughed, whimpered, screamed, babbled of guardian angels, would get up and go home; but we kept him there by force; and by next morning he departed sobered, and seems to have received no injury. (2) All my friends are open-mouthed about having paling before the river; but I cannot see that because a ... lunatic chooses to walk into a river, with his eyes open, at mid-day, I am any the more likely to be drowned in it, coming home at midnight.

(1) See Elia-essay, "Amicus Redivivus."

(2) In the "Athenaeum" for 1835 Procter says: "I happened to call at Lamb's house about ten minutes after this accident; I saw before me a train of water running from the door to the river. Lamb had gone for a surgeon; the maid was running about distraught, with dry clothes on one arm, and the dripping habiliments of the involuntary bather in the other. Miss Lamb, agitated, and whimpering forth 'Poor Mr. Dyer!' in the most forlorn voice, stood plunging her hands into the wet pockets of his trousers, to fish up the wet coin. Dyer himself, an amiable little old man, who took water _in_ternally and eschewed strong liquors, lay on his host's bed, hidden by blankets; his head, on which was his short gray hair, alone peered out; and this, having been rubbed dry by a resolute hand,--by the maid's, I believe, who assisted at the rescue,--looked as if bristling with a thousand needles. Lamb, moreover, in his anxiety, had administered a formidable dose of cognac and water to the sufferer, and _he (used only to the simple element) babbled without cessation."

 

LETTER LXXIX.

TO BERNARD BARTON.

_January 9, 1824.

Dear B.B.,--Do you know what it is to succumb under an insurmountable day-mare,--"a whoreson lethargy," Falstaff calls it,--an indisposition to do anything or to be anything; a total deadness and distaste; a suspension of vitality; an indifference to locality; a numb, soporifical good-for-nothingness; an ossification all over; an oyster-like insensibility to the passing events; a mind-stupor; a brawny defiance to the needles of a thrusting-in conscience? Did you ever have a very bad cold, with a total irresolution to submit to water-gruel processes? This has been for many weeks my lot and my excuse. My fingers drag heavily over this paper, and to my thinking it is three-and-twenty furlongs from here to the end of this demi-sheet. I have not a thing to say; nothing is of more importance than another. I am flatter than a denial or a pancake; emptier than Judge Parke's wig when the head is in it; duller than a country stage when the actors are off it,--a cipher, an o! I acknowledge life at all only by an occasional convulsional cough and a permanent phlegmatic pain in the chest. I am weary of the world; life is weary of me, My day is gone into twilight, and I don't think it worth the expense of candles. My wick hath a thief in it, but I can't muster courage to snuff it. I inhale suffocation; I can't distinguish veal from mutton; nothing interests me. 'T is twelve o'clock, and Thurtell (1) is just now coming out upon the new drop, Jack Ketch alertly tucking up his greasy sleeves to do the last office of mortality; yet cannot I elicit a groan or a moral reflection. If you told me the world will be at an end to-morrow, I should just say, "Will it?" I have not volition enough left to dot my _i_'s, much less to comb my eyebrows; my eyes are set in my head; my brains are gone out to see a poor relation in Moorfields, and they did not say when they'd come back again; my skull is a Grub Street attic to let,--not so much as a joint-stool left in it; my hand writes, not I, from habit, as chickens run about a little when their heads are off. Oh for a vigorous fit of gout, colic, toothache,--an earwig in my auditory, a fly in my visual organs; pain is life,--the sharper the more evidence of life; but this apathy, this death! Did you ever have an obstinate cold,--a six or seven weeks' unintermitting chill and suspension of hope, fear, conscience, and everything? Yet do I try all I can to cure it. I try wine, and spirits, and smoking, and snuff in unsparing quantities; but they all only seem to make me worse, instead of better. I sleep in a damp room, but it does me no good; I come home late o' nights, but do not find any visible amendment! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

It is just fifteen minutes after twelve. Thurtell is by this time a good way on his journey, baiting at Scorpion, perhaps. Ketch is bargaining for his cast coat and waistcoat; and the Jew demurs at first at three half-crowns, but on consideration that he may get somewhat by showing 'em in the town, finally closes.

C. L.

(1) Hanged that day for the murder of Weare.

 

LETTER LXXX.

TO BERNARD BARTON.

_January 23, 1824.

My dear sir,--That peevish letter of mine, (1) 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 vigor of a letter, much less an essay. The "London" must do without me for 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, and not tease 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 Tayler 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 stuffed 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,--namely, 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; and 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 twice and once 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. Tayler there some day. Pray say so to both. Coleridge's book is in good part printed, but sticks a little for _more copy_. It bears an unsalable title,--"Extracts from Bishop Leighton;" but I am confident there will be plenty of good notes in it,--more of Bishop Coleridge than Leighton in it, 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 good old talk about our good old king,--his personal virtues saving us from a revolution, etc.? Why, none that think can utter it now. It must stink. And the "Vision" is as to himward such a tolerant, good-humored thing! What a wretched thing a Lord Chief Justice is, always was, and 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 horsewhip 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), and assure you that it gives me pleasure to hear from you.

Yours truly,

C. L.

(1) Letter LXXIX.

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