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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to William Wordsworth, [19 September 1814]

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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[p.m. illegible. Sept. 19, 1814.]

MY dear W. I have scarce time or quiet to explain my present situation, how unquiet and distracted it is. . . . Owing to the absence of some of my compeers, and to the deficient state of payments at E. I. H. owing to bad peace speculations in the Calico market (I write this to W. W., Esq. Collector of Stamp duties for the conjoint northern counties, not to W. W. Poet) I go back, and have for this many days past, to evening work, generally at the rate of nine hours a day. The nature of my work too, puzzling and hurrying, has so shaken my spirits, that my sleep is nothing but a succession of dreams of business I cannot do, of assistants that give me no assistance, of terrible responsibilities. I reclaimed your book, which Hazlit has uncivilly kept, only 2 days ago, and have made shift to read it again with shatterd brain. It does not lose—rather some parts have come out with a prominence I did not perceive before—but such was my aching head yesterday (Sunday) that the book was like a Mountn. Landscape to one that should walk on the edge of a precipice. I perceived beauty dizzily. Now what I would say is, that I see no prospect of a quiet half day or hour even till this week and the next are past. I then hope to get 4 weeks absence, and if then is time enough to begin I will most gladly do what you require, tho’ I feel my inability, for my brain is always desultory and snatches off hints from things, but can seldom follow a “work “methodically. But that shall be no excuse. What I beg you to do is to let me know from Southey, if that will be time enough for the “Quarterly,” i.e. suppose it done in 3 weeks from this date (19 Sept.): if not it is my bounden duty to express my regret, and decline it. Mary thanks you and feels highly grateful for your Patent of Nobility, and acknowleges the author of Excursion as the legitimate Fountain of Honor. We both agree, that to our feeling Ellen is best as she is. To us there would have been something repugnant in her challenging her Penance as a Dowry! the fact is explicable, but how few to whom it could have been renderd explicit!

The unlucky reason of the detention of Excursion was, Hazlit and we having a misunderstanding. He blowed us up about 6 months ago, since which the union hath snapt, but M. Burney borrowd it for him and after reiterated messages I only got it on
Friday. His
remarks had some vigor in them, particularly something about an old ruin being too modern for your Primeval Nature, and about a lichen, but I forget the Passage, but the whole wore a slovenly air of dispatch and disrespect. That objection which M. Burney had imbibed from him about Voltaire, I explaind to M. B. (or tried) exactly on your principle of its being a characteristic speech. That it was no settled comparative estimate of Voltaire with any of his own tribe of buffoons—no injustice, even if you spoke it, for I dared say you never could relish Candide. I know I tried to get thro’ it about a twelvemonth since, and couldn’t for the Dullness. Now, I think I have a wider range in buffoonery than you. Too much toleration perhaps.

I finish this after a raw ill bakd dinner, fast gobbled up, to set me off to office again after working there till near four. O Christ! how I wish I were a rich man, even tho’ I were squeezed camel-fashion at getting thro’ that Needles eye that is spoken of in the Written Word. Apropos, are you a Xtian? or is it the Pedlar and the Priest that are?

I find I miscalld that celestial splendor of the mist going off, a sunset. That only shews my inaccuracy of head.

Do pray indulge me by writing an answer to the point of time mentioned above, or let Southey. I am asham’d to go bargaining in this way, but indeed I have no time I can reckon on till the 1st week in Octor. God send I may not be disappointed in that!

Coleridge swore in letter to me he would review Excn. in the Quarterly. Therefore, tho’ that shall not stop me, yet if I can do anything, when done, I must know of him if he has anything ready, or I shall fill the world with loud exclaims.

I keep writing on, knowing the Postage is no more for much writing, else so faggd & disjointed I am with damnd India house work, I scarce know what I do. My left arm reposes on “Excursion.” I feel what it would be in quiet. It is now a sealed Book.

O happy Paris, seat of idleness and pleasure! From some return’d English I hear that not such a thing as a counting house is to be seen in her streets, scarce a desk—Earthquakes swallow up this mercantile city and its gripple merchants, as Drayton hath it, “born to be the curse of this brave isle.” I invoke this not on account of any parsimonious habits the mercantile interest may have, but, to confess truth, because I am not fit for an office.

Farewell, in haste, from a head that is ill to methodize, a stomach to digest, and all out of Tune. Better harmonies await you.

C. Lamb.