Keep your good spirits up, dear BB—mine will return—They are at present in abeyance. But I am rather lethargic than miserable. I don’t know but a good horse whip 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) & assure you that it gives me pleasure to hear from you.—
Yours truly C.L.
["The London must do without me.” Lamb contributed nothing between December, 1823 ("Amicus Redivivus"), and September, 1824 ("Blakesmoor in H——shire").
Barton’s tribute to Woolman was the poem “A Memorial to John Woolman,” printed in Poetic Vigils.
Taylor was Charles Benjamin Tayler (1797-1875), the curate of Hadleigh, in Suffolk, and the author of many religious books. Lamb refers to May You Like It, 1823.
“What Horace says":—
deus intersit nisi dignus vindice nodus
Ars Poetica, 191, 192.
Neither let a god interfere, unless a difficulty worth a god’s unravelling should happen (Smart’s translation).
“My Black Balling.” Elia had been rejected by a Book Club in Woodbridge.
“Coleridge’s book”—the Aids to Reflection, 1825. The first intention had been a selection of “Beauties” from Bishop Leighton (1611-1684), Archbishop of Glasgow, and author, among other works, of Rules and Instructions for a Holy Life.
“The Decision against Hunt.” John Hunt, the publisher of The Liberal, in which Byron’s “Vision of Judgment” had been printed in 1822, had just been fined L100 for the libel therein contained on George III.
Here should come a note from Lamb to Charles Ollier, thanking him for a copy of his Inesilla; or, The Tempter: A Romance, with Other Tales.]
CHARLES LAMB TO BERNARD BARTON
[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—