LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Works of Charles and Mary Lamb. VI-VII. Letters
Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, [5 December 1828]

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
[p.m. December 5, 1828.]

DEAR B. B.—I am ashamed to receive so many nice Books from you, and to have none to send you in return; You are always sending me some fruits or wholesome potherbs, and mine is the garden of the Sluggard, nothing but weeds or scarce they. Nevertheless if I knew how to transmit it, I would send you Blackwood’s of this month, which contains a little Drama, to have your opinion of it, and how far I have improved, or otherwise, upon its prototype. Thank you for your kind Sonnet. It does me good to see the Dedication to a Christian Bishop. I am for a Comprehension, as Divines call it, but so as that the Church shall go a good deal more than halfway over to the Silent Meeting house. I have ever said that the Quakers are the only Professors of Christianity as I read it in the Evangiles; I say Professors—marry, as to practice, with their gaudy hot types and poetical vanities, they are much at one with the sinful. Martin’s frontispiece is a very fine thing, let C. L. say what he please to the contrary. Of the Poems, I like them as a volume better than any one of the preceding; particularly, Power and Gentleness; The Present; Lady Russell—with the exception that I do not like the noble act of Curtius, true or false, one of the grand foundations of old Roman patriotism, to be sacrificed to Lady R.’s taking notes on her husband’s trial.
If a thing is good, why invidiously bring it into light with something better? There are too few heroic things in this world to admit of our marshalling them in anxious etiquettes of precedence. Would you make a poem on the Story of Ruth (pretty Story!) and then say, Aye, but how much better is the story of Joseph and his Brethren! To go on, the Stanzas to “
Chalon” want the name of Clarkson in the body of them; it is left to inference. The Battle of Gibeon is spirited again—but you sacrifice it in last stanza to the Song at Bethlehem. Is it quite orthodox to do so. The first was good, you suppose, for that dispensation. Why set the word against the word? It puzzles a weak Christian. So Watts’s Psalms are an implied censure on David’s. But as long as the Bible is supposed to be an equally divine Emanation with the Testament, so long it will stagger weaklings to have them set in opposition. Godiva is delicately touch’d. I have always thought it a beautiful story characteristic of old English times. But I could not help amusing myself with the thought—if Martin had chosen this subject for a frontispiece, there would have been in some dark corner a white Lady, white as the Walker on the waves—riding upon some mystical quadruped—and high above would have risen “tower above tower a massy structure high” the Tenterden steeples of Coventry, till the poor Cross would scarce have known itself among the clouds, and far above them all, the distant Clint hills peering over chimney pots, piled up, Ossa-on-Olympus fashion, till the admiring Spectator (admirer of a noble deed) might have gone look for the Lady, as you must hunt for the other in the Lobster. But M. should be made Royal Architect. What palaces he would pile—but then what parliamentary grants to make them good! ne’ertheless I like the frontispiece. The Elephant is pleasant; and I am glad you are getting into a wider scope of subjects. There may be too much, not religion, but too many good words into a book, till it becomes, as Sh. says of religion, a rhapsody of words. I will just name that you have brought in the Song to the Shepherds in four or five if not six places. Now this is not good economy. The Enoch is fine; and here I can sacrifice Elijah to it, because ’tis illustrative only, and not disparaging of the latter prophet’s departure. I like this best in the Book. Lastly, I much like the Heron, ’tis exquisite: know you Lord Thurlow’s Sonnet to a Bird of that sort on Lacken water? If not, ’tis indispensable I send it you, with my Blackwood, if you tell me how best to send them. Fludyer is pleasant. You are getting gay and Hood-ish. What is the Enigma? money—if not, I fairly confess I am foiled—and sphynx must [here are words crossed through] 4 times I’ve tried to write eat—eat me—and the blotting pen turns it into cat me. And now I will take my leave with saying I esteem thy verses, like thy present, honour thy frontis-
picer, and right-reverence thy Patron and Dedicatee, and am, dear B. B.

Yours heartily,

C. L.

Our joint kindest Loves to A. K. and your Daughter.