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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, 23 December 1822

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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[Dated at end: 23 December 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 scull. 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 holydays 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 hard 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 12 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 Bailly. What a world of fine territory between Land’s End and Johnny Grots have you missed traversing. I almost envy you to have so much to read. I feel as if I had read all the Books I want to read. O to forget Fielding, Steele, &c., 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? Ellwood, too, I must have. I rather grudge that S[outhe]y 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 in 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, tho’ 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 penn’d note, believe me with great respect—

C. Lamb.
23 dec. 22.