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Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, 25 February 1824

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
[p.m. February 25, 1824.]

MY dear Sir—Your title of Poetic Vigils arrides me much more than A Volume of Verse, which is no meaning. The motto says nothing, but I cannot suggest a better. I do not like mottoes but where they are singularly felicitous; there is foppery in them. They are unplain, un-Quakerish. They are good only where they flow from the Title and are a kind of justification of it. There is nothing about watchings or lucubrations in the one you suggest, no commentary on Vigils. By the way, a wag would recommend you to the Line of Pope
Sleepless himself—to give his readers sleep—
I by no means wish it. But it may explain what I mean, that a neat motto is child of the Title. I think Poetic Vigils as short and sweet as can be desired; only have an eye on the Proof, that the Printer do not substitute Virgils, which would ill accord with your modesty or meaning. Your suggested motto is antique enough in spelling, and modern enough in phrases; a good modern antique: but the matter of it is germane to the purpose only supposing the title proposed a vindication of yourself from the presumption of authorship. The 1st title was liable to this objection, that if you were disposed to enlarge it, and the bookseller insisted on its appearance in Two Tomes, how oddly it would sound—
A Volume of Verse
in Two Volumes
2d edition &c—
You see thro’ my wicked intention of curtailing this Epistolet by the above device of large margin. But in truth the idea of letterising has been oppressive to me of late above your candour to give me credit for. There is
Southey, whom I ought to have thank’d a fortnight ago for a present of the Church Book. I have never had courage to buckle myself in earnest even to acknowledge it by six words. And yet I am accounted by some people a good man. How cheap that character is acquired! Pay your debts, don’t borrow money, nor twist your kittens neck off, or disturb a congregation, &c.—your business is done. I know things (thoughts or things, thoughts are things) of myself which would make every friend I have fly me as a plague patient. I once * * *, and set a dog upon a crab’s leg that was shoved out under a moss of sea weeds, a pretty
little feeler.—Oh! pah! how sick I am of that; and a lie, a mean one, I once told!—

I stink in the midst of respect.

I am much hypt; the fact is, my head is heavy, but there is hope, or if not, I am better than a poor shell fish—not morally when I set the whelp upon it, but have more blood and spirits; things may turn up, and I may creep again into a decent opinion of myself. Vanity will return with sunshine. Till when, pardon my neglects and impute it to the wintry solstice.

C. Lamb.