Table of Contents

Bernard Barton the Quaker poet (1784-1849) [BB] corresponded a great deal, with humble Quakers and eminent writers alike. His letters are, to modern sensibilities, much more readable than his poetry! Most of these letters (or fragments thereof) were published after his death by his daughter Lucy, in "Memoirs, Letters and Poems of Bernard Barton (1850)". A couple come from other sources.

They are reproduced here in order to make them readily searchable, and so that I can annotate them with hyperlinks. For those letters which she published, I have kept Lucy's footnotes, but embedded them within the text. Letters to BB are coloured green. I've also taken the opportunity to order the letters differently (i.e. chronologically rather than by correspondent). A pdf version can be downloaded from here.

Bernard Barton to William Roscoe, ~1812 (R.C.206)

[Roscoe was a good friend of BB's father John Barton the Elder (1754-1789), with whom he corresponded until John's premature death 23 years before this letter was written. BB is known to have stayed with the Roscoes. When this poem was written, BB was ~28 years old, and Roscoe ~59. This poem was later published (with a few changes here highlighted with {curly braces}) in Metrical Effusions (1812) p37-39; see also here. The original letter, shown below, demonstrates BB's immaculate handwriting.]

"My lov'd, my honour'd, much respected Friend"
Accept this simple, tributary Lay:
If Roscoe deign a willing ear to lend,
Fain would my Lyre its artless homage pay:
Ah! could this hand but faithfully pourtray
Those feelings of the heart which prompt the Song,
Then o'er the chords with rapture would it stray,
{Or joyfully invoke} the tuneful throng,
And wake its warbling notes, harmonious, rich and strong.

What varied honours shed around thy Name
A brilliant Lustre, gentle, and benign;
"Above all Greek, above all Roman fame,"
A nobler meed, a richer prize is thine;
Beneath the burning equinoctial Line,
The Negro-tribes, shall grateful sing thy praise;
Their children's children shall {the} concert join
To hail the Bard who pour'd his generous lays,
And turn'd on "Afric's Wrongs" a Nation's pitying gaze.

{Nor less the Arts and Sciences} unite,
To crown with civic Wreath {their} favour'd Son,
Whose classic pen again recalls from Night,
Statesmen and Bards who once in splendour shone:
Proud Florence boasts Lorenzo's fame her own;
{On} Tiber's banks old Rome exults to hear,
How Learning spread around her Leo's throne,
A glory to succeeding ages dear,
Which Nations yet unborn shall gratefully revere.

When heav’n-born Liberty on Gallic skies,
Open'd the dawn of Freedom's golden day,
'Twas thine to sing the Day-star's glorious rise,
The Patriot's warmth inspir'd the Poet's lay:
Though now, beneath {proud} despotism's sway
That Star be sunk in deepest shades of night
Some future hour shall {see} its cheering ray,
Some future Bard shall hail the joyful sight,
And many a vine-clad hill shall hear him with delight.

No more shall Cowper, on the banks of Ouse,
{Awake} in Virtue's sacred cause, {his} Lyre;
No more, by “sweeping Nith”, shall Scotia's Muse,
The ardent Song of Coila's Bard inspire;
Yet on fair Mersey's side the tuneful choir
Amid their Roscoe's groves shall prompt the strain,
Oh may they never from those shades retire,
But every Grace, and every Virtue reign,
And shed their brightest beams on Allerton's domain –

Bernard Barton to William Roscoe (R.C.206) p1.jpg
Bernard Barton to William Roscoe (R.C.206) p2.jpg
Bernard Barton to William Roscoe (R.C.206) p3.jpg

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, August 1814 (p149)

[ Robert Southey (1774-1843), a friend of William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and a fellow ‘Lake poet’, is now little known, but he popularised the story of ‘The Three Bears’ before ‘Goldilocks’ had even been introduced to it. At the time of writing, Southey was 40 years old while BB was 30.]

Keswick, 3rd August, 1814.

My Dear Sir,
I should have answered your letter immediately, if I had not been engaged with visitors when it arrived. In the course of my life I have more than once had reason to be thankful for having done things which would have been left undone, if the first impulse had been suffered to pass by for, second thought in matters of feeling usually brings with it hesitation and demurral and doubt, from which the whole brood of sins of omission are derived. Your letter affected me. It seems to come from a good heart and a wounded one, and therefore I will venture to say what is upon my mind in spite of those obvious considerations which might prevent me.

I shall be very glad to receive your little volume. If it be left either at Messrs. Longman's in Paternoster Row, or at Mr Murray's in Albemarle Street, it will find its way to me in a parcel.

From what I have heard, I believe that the magazine has given you a portrait of me as little accurate as its information about my poem. I am a man of forty, younger in appearance and in habits, older in my feelings and frame of mind. I have been married nearly nineteen years, and have had seven children two of whom (one being my first-born) are in a better world. The eldest now living is in her eleventh year. There is only one boy among them; he is nearly eight, and has me for his schoolmaster and play-father, characters which we find it very easy to combine. You call me a fortunate being, and I am so, because I possess the will as well as the power of employing myself for the support of my family, and value riches exactly at what they are worth. I have store of books, and pass my life among them, finding no enjoyment equal to that of accumulating knowledge. In worldly affairs the world must consider me as unfortunate, for I have been deprived of a good property, which, by the common laws of inheritance, should have been mine; and this through no fault, error, or action of my own. But my wishes are bounded by my wants, and I have nothing to desire but a continuance of the blessings which I enjoy.

Enough of this. Believe me, with the best wishes for your welfare,

Sincerely yours,
Robert Southey.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, December 1814 (p150)

19th December, 1814. Keswick.

My Dear Sir,
You will wonder at not having received my thanks for your Metrical Effusions; but you will acquit me of all incivility when you hear that the book did not reach me till this morning, and that I have now laid it down after a full perusal. It was overlooked at Murray's, for I have received several parcels from him in the course of the last two months; and when upon the receipt of yours I wrote to inquire for it, it was packed up in company with heavier matter, and travelled down by the slowest of all carriers.

I have read your poems with much pleasure; those with most which speak most of your own feelings. Have I not seen some of them in the Monthly Magazine?

Wordsworth's residence and mine are fifteen miles asunder; a sufficient distance to preclude any frequent interchange of visits. I have known him nearly twenty years, and, for about half that time, intimately. The strength and the character of his mind you see in the "Excursion," and his life does not belie his writings; for in every relation of life, and every point of view, he is a truly exemplary and admirable man. In conversation he is powerful beyond any of his contemporaries; and as a poet, I speak not from the partiality of friendship, nor because we have been so absurdly held up as both writing upon one concerted system of poetry, but with the most deliberate exercise of impartial judgment whereof I am capable, when I declare my full conviction that posterity will rank him with Milton.

You wish the "Metrical Tales" were republished; they are at this time in the press, incorporated with my other minor poems in three volumes. Nos hæc novimus esse nihil [‘we know these things are nothing’] may serve as a motto for them all.

Do not suffer my projected Quaker poem to interfere with your intentions respecting William Penn. There is not the slightest reason why it should. Of all great reputations, Penn's is that which has been most the effect of accident. The great action of his life was his turning Quaker: the conspicuous one, his behaviour upon his trial. In all that regards Pennsylvania, he has no other merit than that of having followed the principles of the religious community to which he belonged, when his property happened to be vested in colonial speculations. The true champion for religious liberty in America was Roger Williams, the first consistent advocate for it in that country, and perhaps in any one. I hold his memory in veneration. But because I value religious liberty, I differ from you entirely concerning the Catholic question, and never would intrust any sect with political power whose doctrines are inherently and necessarily intolerant.

Believe me,
Yours with sincere respect,
Robert Southey.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, January 1820 (p152)

Keswick, 21st January, 1820.

Dear Sir,
You propose a question to me which I can no more answer with any grounds for an opinion than if you were to ask me whether a lottery ticket should be drawn a blank or a prize; or if a ship should make a prosperous voyage to the East Indies. If I recollect rightly, poor Scott, of Amwell, was disturbed in his last illness by some hard-hearted and sour-blooded bigots who wanted him to repent of his poetry as a sin. The Quakers are much altered since that time. I know one, a man deservedly respected by all who know him, (Charles Lloyd the elder, of Birmingham,) who has amused his old age by translating Horace and Homer; and he is looked up to in the Society, and would not have printed the translations if he had thought it likely to give offence. [BB would later become friends with Charles Lloyd the younger, his son.]

Judging, however, from the spirit of the age as affecting your Society, like everything else, I should think they would be gratified by the appearance of a poet among them who confined himself within the limits of their general principles. They have been reproached with being the most illiterate sect that has ever arisen in the Christian world, and they ought to be thankful to any of their members who should assist in vindicating them from that opprobrium. There is nothing in their principles which should prevent them from giving you their sanction; and I will even hope there are not many persons who will impute it to you as a sin if you should call some of the months by their heathen names. [One in the "British Friend," did impute this as a sin, twenty-five years after Southey thus wrote.] I know of no other offence that you are in danger of committing. They will not like virtuous feelings and religious principles the worse for being conveyed in good verse. If poetry in itself were unlawful, the Bible must be a prohibited book.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, October 1820 (p154)

Keswick, 25th Oct., 1820.

My Dear Sir,
I must be very unreasonable were I to feel otherwise than gratified and obliged by a dedication [of the "Day in Autumn"] from one in whose poems there is so much to approve and admire. I thank you for this mark of kindness, and assure you that it is taken as it is meant.

It has accidentally come to my knowledge that a brother of yours is married to the daughter of my worthy and respected friend, Mr. Woodruffe Smith. When you have an opportunity, it would oblige me if you would recall me to her remembrance, by assuring her that I have not forgotten the kindness which I so often experienced at her father's house.

Perhaps you may consider it an interesting piece of literary news to be informed that, among my various employments, one is that of collecting and arranging materials for "The Life of George Fox, and the Rise and Progress of the Quakers." You know enough of my writings to understand that the consideration of whom I may please or displease would never make me turn aside from what I believed to be the right line. I shall write fairly and freely, in the spirit of Christian charity. My personal feelings are those of respect toward the Society, (such as it has been since its first effervescence was spent,) and of good-will because of its members whom I have known and esteemed. Its history I shall relate with scrupulous fidelity, and discuss its tenets with no unfavourable or unfriendly bias, neither dissembling my own opinion when it accords, nor when it differs from them. And perhaps I may expose myself to more censure from others on account of agreement, than from them because of the difference. But neither the one result nor the other will, in the slightest degree, influence me; my object being to compose with all diligence and all possible impartiality an important portion not of ecclesiastical history alone, but of the history of human opinions.

I will only add, that in this work I shall have the opportunity which I wish for, of bearing my testimony to the merit of your poems.

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Yours truly,
Robert Southey.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, November 1820 (p155)

Keswick, 24th November, 1820.

My Dear Sir,
I trust you will have imputed my silence about your "Day in Autumn" to the true cause the delay to which such communications are liable in waiting for an opportunity of conveyance. It was not till this morning that I received it in a parcel, dated on the sixth of this month. The waggon travels slowly, and more time is lost in carrier's warehouses, when a parcel has to change conveyances twice or thrice on the road, than is required for the journey. I now thank you again for the dedication and the poem. It is a very pleasing production, in a fine strain of genuine feeling.

In reply to your questions concerning "The Life of George Fox," the plan of the work resembles that of "The Life of Wesley," as nearly as possible. Very little progress has been made in the composition, but a good deal in collecting materials and digesting the order of their arrangement. The first chapters will contain a history of the religious, or irreligious dissensions in England, and their consequences, from the rise of the Lollards to the time when George Fox went forth. This will be such an historical sketch as that view of our ecclesiastical history in "The Life of Wesley;" which is the most elaborate portion of the work. The last chapter will probably contain a view of the state of the Society at the time, and the modification and improvement which it has gradually and almost insensibly received. This part, whenever it is written, and all those parts wherein I may be in danger of forming erroneous inferences from an imperfect knowledge of the subject, I shall take care to show to some members of the Society before it is printed. The general spirit and tendency of the book will, I doubt not, be thought favourable by the Quakers as well as to them, and the more so by the judicious, because commendation comes with tenfold weight from one who does not dissemble his own difference of opinion upon certain main points.

Perhaps in the course of the work I may avail myself of your friendly offer; and ask you some questions as they occur, and transmit certain parts for your inspection.

Farewell, my dear Sir, and believe me,
Yours with much esteem,
Robert Southey.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, January 1821 (p157)

Keswick, 12th Jan., 1821.

My Dear Sir,
Though I am more than usually busy at this time; (otherwise your former letter would not have been unnoticed so long,) I feel myself bound to assure you without delay, that the paragraph which you have transmitted to me from I know not what magazine, has surprised me quite as much as it can have done you. There is not the slightest foundation for it, nor can I guess how such a notion should have arisen. So far is it from being true, that offers of assistance in the way of documents have been made me by several of the Society, books have been sent me by some, and I have been referred to others for any information or aid which I may happen to want, and they be able to afford. Mrs. Fry offered me access to some manuscript collections in the possession of some of her friends, and Thomas Wilkinson (of whom you cannot think with more respect than I do) asked me the other day to let him know what books I wanted, and he would endeavour to borrow them for me with good hopes of success.

I can only account for the paragraph by supposing the editor, whoever he may be, may have heard that Longman had not been able to obtain for my use the first edition of G. Fox's Journal. I have found it since in the possession of an acquaintance in the country.

Your poem is a very pleasing one. How came the prejudice against verse to arise among the Quakers, when so many of the primitive Quakers wrote verses themselves? miserably bad ones they were, but still they were intended for poetry.

Farewell, my dear Sir, and believe me,
Yours with sincere respect,
Robert Southey.

Bernard Barton to Robert Southey, February 1821 (p158)

Woodbridge, 2 mo, 18, 1821.

My Dear Friend,
The information contained in thy last, respecting the facilities afforded thee in the prosecution of thy present undertaking, was, on every account, highly agreeable to me; and I should have immediately returned my acknowledgments to thee for so promptly contradicting the report I had transmitted, had I not, besides being a good deal engaged myself, considered thy time much too valuable to be lightly intruded upon. After saying thus much, thou wilt, I hope, give me credit for having felt some hesitation, and indeed catechised myself pretty closely, prior to again addressing thee on a subject, seldom many days out of my thoughts.

As thy proposed "Life of George Fox, and History of the Rise and Progress of our Society," is more talked of, and the knowledge of thy being engaged on such a work becomes more widely extended, it is very natural that those interested in the subject should have increased opportunities afforded them of hearing the opinions expressed by others; of comparing those opinions with their own; and that they should, as a necessary consequence of this, feel desirous of now and then imparting to the historian the apprehensions, as well as hopes, excited by his undertaking. I would not, believe me, put either thy time or patience in wanton and needless requisition, but on one topic I could wish, both as respects our feelings and our faith, to solicit thy serious, candid, and patient thought.

A belief in the influences of the Holy Spirit, though entertained under various modifications, is, I think, no peculiar tenet of ours; we may and do carry the principle further, and rely on the perceptibility of its guidance, and internal consciousness of its teachings, (if I may so express myself;) we may, I say, carry our belief on these matters beyond that of some of our fellow-Christians: but I think most who profess the Christian name, with the exception perhaps of the Socinians, admit the principle itself in the abstract; and consider the influences of the Spirit as one of the highest privileges to which the gospel of Christ introduces those who humbly receive it. Not doubting but it is so regarded by thee, I cannot suppress the solicitude I feel, that in the discussion of a tenet so important, and which our peculiar acceptation of, belief in, and reliance upon, renders a marked feature of our faith; I repeat, I cannot but be anxious that this topic, if discussed at all by thee, should be touched upon with that humility and reverence befitting one who himself admits the existence of such a Spirit, who believes in its holy influence, but who probably differs from us in respect to that influence being perceptible, and who may even look upon our belief in such perceptibility as mysticism, if not actual delusion.

Bear with me on this subject, my valued friend, for, believe me, I have no wish to dwell longer upon it than is essential to my purpose, and I most certainly am not going now to enter into a detailed defence of our views of it; but should those views appear to thee erroneous, allow me to express my earnest hope that thou wilt not, in attempting their refutation, at once endanger the foundation, because thou mayest not quite approve of our superstructure. Do not let me, I entreat, be misunderstood. I have no fear of thy discussing our belief in a tone of ridicule, or even of levity; of thy talking of our professing to be led by the Spirit, in the light and trifling manner in which the fundamental article of our creed has been railed at by scoffers, burlesqued by dramatists, and jeered at by the vain, unthinking ribaldry of the lowest vulgar, with whom the taunt, now happily seldom heard, "Friend, doth the Spirit move thee?" – has before now passed as a joke. On these points I can have no fears; nor is it on any such ground that I feel the solicitude I now express. But it has occurred to me, that with a view to counteract the tendency of a doctrine which may appear to thee as opening a door to fanaticism and enthusiasm, thou mayest quite unintentionally weaken what, I am fully persuaded, is viewed by thee as sacred; and, without convincing us that we believe too much, mayest promote the more cold and sceptical views of those who believe too little. I certainly am not going to be so dictatorial as to tell our historian he is not to give his own serious and deliberately-formed opinion on the tenets of a sect whose rise and progress he undertakes as his theme; nor can I or do I expect that opinion to be in precise accordance with our own; but the more immediate object of this address is to induce thee, if any inducement can be needful, to regard this point of religious doctrine as one on which it becomes even the acutest and strongest of human intellects to write with diffidence; as one on which it is very possible to darken counsel by words without knowledge. It will ever remain, at least such is my belief, after philosophy and even theology have exhausted their powers in its discussion, a point of abstract faith, of deep feeling; – to be humbly believed, to be meekly obeyed; but not to be too curiously analysed, or lightly argued upon. Those who reverently and devoutly believe its truth, and think they feel its efficacy, are not very likely to abandon it; and even those who think it fallacious, may perhaps wisely pause, before they attempt to prove its fallacy; lest in demonstrating the impossibility of the Holy Spirit being a perceptible guide, and its dictates not only remotely, but immediately influential, they should, however undesignedly, inflict pain on those who think differently; lower, or at least lessen, A GIFT for which, according to their view of it, they supplicate publicly, and afford cause of triumph to those who avowedly deny its existence.

Believing, as I do, that on thy susceptibility of feeling and correctness of judging respecting this one point much of the value of thy history, of its utility to others, as well as ourselves, must in great measure depend, I cannot apologize for the freedom I have taken in expressing my opinions or feelings respecting it. Without a capacity to appreciate this principle, as held by our early predecessors, it appears to me impossible to write their history fairly; – with it, I have no apprehension of thy erring very materially. Thus thinking, it would be a great satisfaction to me, if I may ask such a favour, to know something of thy sentiments on this subject. Perfect coincidence with ours I do not expect; but I should be sorry to find our friendly historian, for such I am persuaded thou art in intention, among those who can for a moment doubt that "there is a Spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding!"

Thine most affectionately,
B. B.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, July 1821 (p162)

July 9, 1821.

My Dear Sir,
I had not leisure to reply to your former letter when it arrived; a full reply to it, indeed, would require a dissertation rather than a letter. The influence of the Holy Spirit is believed by all Christians, except the ultra Socinians; the more pious Socinians would admit it, though under a different name. But the question what is, and what is not the effect of that influence, is precisely asking where, in religious cases, reason ends, and insanity begins. In all communities of Christians there have been and are persons, who mistake their own imaginations for inspiration; and that this was done in some cases by the early Quakers, the present members of that Society would not deny.

It is always my custom to have a work long in my thoughts before it is taken actually in hand; and to collect materials and let the plan digest while my main occupation is upon some other subject which has undergone the same slow but necessary process. At present, I am printing "The History of the Peninsular War," a great work, and it is probable that this is not the only work which I shall bring out, before "The Life of George Fox" becomes my immediate business. One great advantage arising from this practice is, that much in the mean time is collected in the course of other pursuits which would not have been found by a direct search; facts and observations of great importance frequently occurring where the most diligent investigator would never think of looking for them. The habit of noting and arranging such memoranda is acquired gradually; and can hardly be learnt otherwise than by experience.

So Buonaparte is now as dead as Caesar and Alexander! I did not read the tidings of his death without a mournful feeling, which I am sure you also must have experienced, and which I think you are likely as well as able to express in verse. It is an event which will give birth to many poems, but I know no one so likely as yourself to touch the right strings.

Farewell, and believe me,
Yours very truly,
Robert Southey.

I do not remember whether I told you that Thomas Wilkinson, who is a collector of autographs, showed me a specimen of George Fox's hand-writing, and told me it bore a remarkable resemblance to Mirabeau's, than whom it would not be possible to find a man more unlike him in every thing else.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, August 1821 (p164)

[On receiving from Mr. Barton a MS. specimen, and afterwards the printed volume, of his "Napoleon."]

Keswick, 22nd August, 1821.

I like your specimen in every thing, except in its praise of Bertrand. A man does not deserve to be praised for constant worth whose merit consists in fidelity to a wicked master. If this is to be admitted as virtue, the devil may have his saints and martyrs. No man of worth could have adhered to Buonaparte after the murder of the Due D'Enghien, and after his conduct to Portugal and Spain. I say nothing of former atrocities, because, before they were confessed by Buonaparte himself, they were denied, and might have been deemed doubtful; but these crimes were public and notorious, and not to be extenuated, not to be forgotten, not to be forgiven.

I notice only one line in which the meaning is ambiguously expressed – "Thy power man's strength alone;" – perhaps I might not have noticed it if the want of perspicuity did not arise in part from a license which I detected myself in committing this morning – the use of alone instead of only. What you mean to say, is, that man's only strength is thy power; but as the words now stand they may convey an opposite meaning.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, May 1822 (p165)

18th May, 1822.

Thank you for your volume, which I received three hours ago long enough to have read the principal poem, and a large portion of the minor ones. They do you great credit. Nothing can be better than the descriptive and sentimental parts. In the reasoning ones, you sometimes appear to me to have fallen into Charles Lloyd's prosing vein. The verse indeed is better than his, but the matter sometimes, (though rarely,) like much of his later compositions, incapable of deriving any advantage from metre. The seventh stanza is the strongest example of this. On the other hand, this is well compensated by many rich passages and a frequent felicity of expression. Your poem, if it had suited your object so to have treated it, might have derived further interest from a view of Buonaparte's system of policy, the end at which he aimed, and the means which he used. I believe that no other individual ever occasioned so much wretchedness and evil as the direct consequence of his own will and pleasure. His partisans acknowledge that the attempted usurpation of Spain was his sole act, and it was so palpably unjust, that the very generals who served him in it, condemn it without reserve. That war, in its progress and consequences, has not cost so little as a million of lives, and the account is far from being closed.

You will not like Buonaparte the better, perhaps, if I confess to you that, had it not been for him, I should perhaps have assented to your general principle concerning the unlawfulness of war, in its full extent. But when I saw that he was endeavouring to establish a military despotism throughout Europe, which, if not successfully withstood abroad, must at last have reached us on our own shores, I considered him as a Philistine or a heathen, and went for a doctrine applicable to the times, to the books of Judges and of Maccabees. Nevertheless, I will fairly acknowledge that the doctrine of non-resistance connected with non-obedience is the strongest point of Quakerism. And nothing can be said against it but that the time for the general acceptance is not yet come. Would to God that it were nearer than it appears to be!

Charles Lloyd to Bernard Barton, fragment 1 (p185)

[Charles Lloyd (1775-1839), the son of another Charles Lloyd who was a Quaker banker, became a poet against his father's wishes. He lived with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, though later fell out with him. In 1811 he started to suffer from auditory hallucinations and 'fits of aberration' and was confined to an asylum for a while.]

My son is gone in spite of my haste; therefore, like the good preachers among Friends, who, when their subject has carried them from themselves, and they have got into a tone, often stop, and, suddenly recollecting themselves, drop their tone – so will I pause in my celerity and bad writing, which, to the eye, is worse than a tone to the ear. Indeed, so convinced am I that a tone is the natural consequence of impassioned expression, that, provided they do not absolutely whine, I like the chaunt of the Friends far better than a more cold and intellectual modulation of the voice. Farewell, my dear Friend.

Charles Lloyd to Bernard Barton, fragment 2 (p185)

I have not read your last poems [Napoleon, &c.] so much as I could wish. I was visited, while in London, with a very dreadful illness, and since my return it has been borrowed till I am quite impatient at its absence; and I called the other day on one of the borrowers to solicit its return. I should like to converse with you about it viva voce. I must say I do not like moral sentiments about conquerors. I could write, think, and read religiously about them; but while men must have passions, and while I think ambition one of the noblest, (mind, humanly, and not religiously speaking,) I must say that I think the common sentiments against war, aggrandizement, &c., fall rather flat. My taste would rather lead me to panegyrize them imaginatively, and then to condemn them religiously. I am rather of the opinion of an accomplished female who once told me "she liked good fat passions."

Charles Lloyd to Bernard Barton, fragment 3 (p186)

I had a very ample testimony from C. Lamb to the character of my last little volume. I will transcribe to you what he says, as it is but a note, and his manner is always so original, that I am sure the introduction of the merest trifle from his pen will well compensate for the absence of any thing of mine: – "Your lines are not to be understood reading on one leg. They are sinuous [so in orig.] and to be won with wrestling. I assure you in sincerity that nothing you have done has given me greater satisfaction. Your obscurity, when you are dark, which is seldom, is that of too much meaning, not the painful obscurity which no toil of the reader can dissipate; not the dead vacuum and floundering place in which imagination finds no footing; it is not the dimness of positive darkness, but of distance; and he that reads and not discerns must get a better pair of spectacles. I admire every piece in the collection; I cannot say the first is best; when I do so, the last read rises up in judgment. To your Mother – to your Sister – is Mary dead? – they are all weighty with thought and tender with sentiment. Your poetry is like no other: – those cursed Dryads and Pagan trumperies of modern verse have put me out of conceit of the very name poetry. Your verses are as good and as wholesome as prose; and I have made a sad blunder if I do not leave you with an impression that your present is rarely valued."

Charles Lloyd to Bernard Barton, November 1822 (p187)

17th Nov., 1822.

It seems to me that it is impossible that a person should long together write with any interest, if no one is interested in his compositions. For myself, I frankly avow I never do write from any distant consideration of fame, or of establishing a literary character, but solely when the difficulty would rather be not to write than to write. In this respect I am literally a Quaker poet. But then, as I grow older, and as the fervours of my imagination abate, I doubt how far fits of inspiration would come on, if no one noticed their fruits. I associate with no one here out of my own family; though I am rich enough to live without a profession, I am not to indulge in any love of variety, in travelling, &c., and I really feel that my authorship is the sole source of interest out of myself, or of sympathies with my fellow-creatures, that remains to me. If I were not to write a word more, I have matter enough by me to make eight or ten volumes. What interest could there be in adding to this dead stock, if from time to time some of it were not embarked on a voyage of adventure? At least, so I feel; and feeling so, and finding here no one, not one, not even my wife, who seems to comprehend this feeling, (for to say the truth of her, she has not that average leaven of vanity which, without authorizing you to call a character vain, makes her to sympathize with the cravings after sympathy in others,) I was the more gratified that you so completely seemed to enter into, and to understand, my case.

Charles Lloyd to Bernard Barton, fragment 4 (p188)

Introductory Sonnet to the Supreme Being, which I had some intention of placing before the poems which I am now publishing, but which I have omitted – omitted, because I thought that the theme of this Sonnet arrogated too much for my poems. I have now simply dedicated them in a Sonnet to my Father.

O Thou, who when thou mad'st the heart of man,
Implanted'st there, as paramount to all,
Immortal Conscience; do Thou deign to scan
With favouring eye these lays, which would recall
Man to his due allegiance. Nothing can
Thrive without Thee; hence, at Thy throne I fall,
And Thee implore to go forth in the van
Of these my numbers, Lord of great and small!
Bless Thou these lays, and, with a reverent voice,
Next to Thyself would I my father place,
Close at thy threshold ; true to his youth's choice,
His deeds with conscience ever have kept pace.
Great Father, bid my earthly sire rejoice,
A white-robed Christian in thy safe embrace.

[The Editor cannot hear that this noble Sonnet is to be found in any of C. Lloyd's published volumes. It is surely too good to be lost; and that must be the excuse for printing it here.]

Deborah Robinson to Bernard Barton, March 1824

[This covering letter, not published in "Memoirs, Letters and Poems of Bernard Barton (1850)", accompanied a copy of the letter from Bernard’s father John Barton to John Bell, and a copy of it was found in *ABH research notes - probably given to Andrew by NJB.]

Cockermouth 5th 3d 1824

Respected friend
Bernard Barton

The precious relic which accompanies these few lines from an unknown friend, will, I trust, be a sufficent apology for the liberty taken in addressing thee — As little explanation on my part may be satisfactory respecting the letter which I have had in my possesion ..... believe above 40 years; & now, with real, heartfelt pleasure give it up to thee. The letter was address'd to John Bell, a Minister in our Society, then resident ...... Carlisle, & (as thou wilt perceive) an intimate in thy Mother's family. — I .... not much acquainted with either John Bell or his Wife - an intimate friend of the latter, gave me the letter — I beleive, for no other reason than my admiring the manly sentiments it contain's, & also my being an admirer of Mary Done's (afterwards thy Mother) poetical effusions — I am quite ignorant what part John Bell acted in the affair after receipt of the Letter - if I ever was told, length of time has erased it from my memory. — Altho’ I have often occasionally read the Letter to my intimate friends, I ever felt a scrupolous delicacy in having it copied, tho’ not enjoin'd to it — nor has there ever been a copy taken to my knowledge, since it was in my possession ----- When thy first volume of Poems was sent me, by a friend, the perusal of which afforded me much gratification; I thought if ever it was in my power to have this letter of thy fathers properly convey’d to thee, I should like to do so and it is with much satisfaction I can now do it, thro’ the medium of our mutual friend Mary Sutton — Thou wilt value it — and no doubt the perusal may awaken the sentiments of filial affection in thy Breast — and probably excite such tender emotions as no other person can feel from its perusal — I am glad it is preserv'd so entire and it sometimes appears wonderful to me, that it had been preserv’d in my hands, such a very long time, seemingly for no other substantial reason, but to be sent to thee.

Farewell — and beleive me, with sentiments of cordial esteem
thy sincere, tho’ unknown friend Deb ‘h. Robinson.

P.S. The friend from whom I had the L’rs has sometime been deceased — therefore no further information can be had on that subject—

Bernard Barton to Rev. Charles B. Tayler, April 1824 (p43)

4 mo, 22, 1824.

Dear Charles;
My head and heart are full even to overflowing: my eyes are almost dim with gazing at one object, yet are still unsatisfied. I keep thinking of one thing all day, stealing to feast my eyes on it when I can, and lie down to dream of it o' nights. In one sentence, my good cousins at Carlisle have sent me my dear, dear father's picture. It is in most excellent preservation, not at all injured by the journey, and I write tonight to a friend in town to arrange for its being neatly framed. But I must describe it.

John Barton the Elder 1754-1789 1774 portrait.jpg

Its size is about four and a half by rather more than three and a half feet; how I wish our parlour were a little larger! My dear pater is seated at a round table, his elbow resting on it, and his right hand as if partly supporting his head; the little finger folded down, the two fore ones extended up to his temple. Before him is a sheet of paper, headed "Abstract of Locke;" the chapter on Perception, and the first volume of Locke, open, is on his left hand, on his knee. His countenance is full of thought, yet equally full of sweetness. What an ugly fellow I am compared to him ! A little further on the table is a German flute, and a piece of Handel’s music, open, leaning against Akenside's Pleasures of Imagination. A larger volume also lies on the table, lettered “Kenrick's Dictionary,” and several letters, the date of one of which, at the bottom, is March, 1774. (I conclude the picture was painted then.) In the corner, just below the table, stands a globe. On the book-shelves behind him are, first, a volume the first line of the title I can't make out -- "on Euclid;" then, I think, "Simpson's Algebra," "Fitzosborne's Letters," another book lettered, I think, "Verularu," "Fordyce," "Pope's Works," "Dictionary of Arts and Sciences," two or three volumes. The titles of the upper row of books are hid by a sort of curtain.

An open window on the other side of the table gives a peep of sun-set sky. His dress is a suit of so red a brown as almost to approach to crimson; his hair turned back from a fine clear forehead, with a curl over each ear, and tied in a sort of club behind : the rufflles at his wrists, as well as a frill, to say nothing of the flute, show that he had not then joined the Quakers. His age when this picture was taken I suppose about twenty. I think I understand it was the year before his marriage. His countenance is all I could wish it (delicately fair, which I had always heard, and rather small features) in the bloom of youth, yet thoughtful to me full of intellect and benignity. O how proud I am of him! how thankful I am that I have written what good-natured critics call poetry! for to my poetical fame, humble as it is, I owe the possession of this, to me, inestimable treasure. It has put me all but beside myself; I go and look at it, then stand a little further off, then nearer, then try it in a new light then go to the street door to see if any body be in sight who can at all value its beauties, and enter into my feelings if so, I lug them in, incontinently. My good mother-in-law, I mean my wife's mother, a plain, excellent Quaker lady, who, I dare say, never went any where to look at a picture before, has been to see it; she thinks she sees a likeness to my girl in it. I wish I could but I quite encourage her in doing so: my girl will never be half so handsome, though far more personable than her father. But she cannot come up to her grandfather. I must stop some where, so I may as well now. I make no excuses, I will not so far affront thee. I conjecture what thy feelings would be hadst thou lost a father at the age I was when deprived of mine, hadst thou always heard him spoken of as one of the most amiable, and intelligent, and estimable of men, yet been unable to picture to thyself what his outward semblance was; then thirty years and more after his death, to hear that a portrait of him, stated by those who knew him to be a likeness, was in existence, yet almost to despair of ever seeing it, without travelling hundreds of miles I, too, who have little more locomotion than a cabbage ; and after all to be its possessor!

Sir Walter Scott to Bernard Barton, October 1824 (p189)

[The Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) is now best known for his works 'Ivanhoe' and 'Rob Roy'.]

[The following little note from Sir Walter Scott refers to some curious old MS. relating to Scottish History, lent to Sir Walter for his perusal, through Mr. Barton.]

My Dear Sir,
I have been lazy in sending you the two transcripts. In calling back the days of my youth, I was surprised into confessing what I might have as well kept to myself, that I had been guilty of sending persons a bat-hunting to see the ruins of Melrose by moonlight, which I never saw myself. The fact is rather curious, for as I have often slept nights at Melrose, (when I did not reside so near the place,) it is singular that I have not seen it by moonlight on some chance occasion. However, it so happens that I never did, and must (unless I get cold by going on purpose) be contented with supposing that these ruins look very like other Gothic buildings which I have seen by the wan light of the moon.

I was never more rejoiced in my life than by the safe arrival of the curious papers. The naming of the regent Morton, instead of Murray, in the transcript, was a gross blunder of the transcriber, who had been dreaming of these two celebrated persons till he confused them in his noddle.

I shall despatch this by a capable frank, having only to apologize for its length of arrival by informing you I have been absent in Dumfries-shire for some time, waiting on my young chief, like a faithful clansman. I am always

Most faithfully yours,
Walter Scott
4th October. Abbotsford. 1824.

[Mr. Barton had been requested by a friend to ask Sir Walter Scott to copy for her, by way of Autograph, the well-known description of Melrose Abbey by moonlight: the petition was good-naturedly granted; but instead of the usual ending,
"Then go but go alone the while
Then view St. David's ruin'd pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear
Was never scene so sad and fair!"
the poet had penned this amusing variation,
"Then go and meditate with awe
On scenes the author never saw,
Who never wander'd by the moon
To see what could be seen by noon."

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, December 1824 (p168)

[Charles Lamb (1775-1834) is now possibly best known for being quoted in the preface of Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' ("Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.") but he was a well known essayist in his day. He was an interesting character who suffered from mental illness. So did his elder sister Mary, who killed their mother in 1796 but was charged with 'lunacy' rather than murder. He later, from 1800, lived with her until his death. Lamb's letters are brusque and cheeky in tone, very different from BB's other correspondents, and are sometimes rather cryptic. Indeed one letter was written in Latin!]

December 1, 1824.

Dear B. B.
If Mr. Mitford will send me a full and circumstantial description of his desired vases, I will transmit the same to a gentleman resident at Canton, whom I think I have interest enough in to take the proper care for their execution. But Mr. M. must have patience, China is a great way off, farther perhaps than he thinks; and his next year's roses must be content to wither in a wedgewood-pot. He will please to say whether he should like his "arms" upon them, &c. I send herewith some patterns which suggest themselves to me at the first blush of the subject, but he will probably consult his own taste after all.

[Some sketched patterns follow]

The last pattern is obviously fitted for ranunculuses only. The two former may indifferently hold daisies, marjoram, sweet-williams, and that sort. My friend in Canton is Inspector of Teas, his name is Ball; and I can think of no better tunnel. I shall expect Mr. M.'s decision.

T. and H. finding their magazine goes off very heavily at 2s. 6d. are prudently going to raise their price another shilling; and having already more authors than they want, intend to increase the number of them. If they set up against the "New Monthly," they must change their present hands. It is not tying the dead carcass of a Review to a half-dead Magazine will do their business. It is like G. D. multiplying his volumes to make 'em sell better. When he finds one will not go off, he publishes two; two stick, he tries three ; three hang fire, he is confident that a fourth will have a better chance.

Bernard Barton to Rev. Charles B. Tayler, 1825a (p45)

One or two of my literary friends do not like my Vigils so well as its precursors they say it is too Quakerish. Charles Lamb says it is my best, but that I have lugged in religion rather too much. Bowring vituperates it in toto save the Ode to Time; by no means a great favourite with me. I am not put out of conceit with it yet, for all this. Its faults are numerous, but it has more redeeming parts than either of its predecessors. And so it ought; else I had lived two years for nothing. As to its Quakerism, I meant it should be Quakerish. I hope to grow more so in my next else, why am I a Quaker? My love to the whole visible, ay, and the whole invisible church of Christ, is not lessened by increased affection to the little niche of it in which I may happen to be planted. The bird would not mourn the less the fall of the tree which held its nest, because in that nest was found the first and primary source of its own little hopes and fears. How absurdly some people think and reason about sectarianism ! In its purer and better element, it is no bad thing not a bit worse than patriotism, which need never damp the most generous and enlarged philanthrophy. When I no longer love thee, dear Charles, because thou art a Churchman, I will begin to think my Quakerism is degenerating.

Bernard Barton to Rev. Charles B. Tayler, 1825b (p46)

I met with a comical adventure the other day, which partly amused, partly piqued me. We had a religious visit paid to our little meeting here by a minister of our Society, an entire stranger, I believe, to every one in the meeting. He gave us some very plain, honest counsel. After meeting, as is usual, several, indeed most, Friends stopped to shake hands with our visitor, I among the rest; and on my name being mentioned to him, rather officiously I thought, by one standing by, the good old man said, "Barton? Barton? that's a name I don't recollect." I told him it would be rather strange if he did, as we had never seen each other before. Suddenly, when, to my no small gratification, no one was attending to us, he looked rather inquiringly at me, and added, " What, art thou the Versifying Man ?" On my replying with a gravity, which I really think was heroic, that I was called such, he looked at me again, I thought "more in sorrow than in anger," and observed, "Ah! that's a thing quite out of my way."

It was on the tip of my tongue to reply, "I dare say it is," but, afraid that I could not control my risible faculties much longer, I shook my worthy friend once more by the hand, and bidding him farewell, left him. I dare say the good soul may have since thought of me, if at all, with much the same feelings as if I had been bitten by a mad dog and I know not but that he may be very right.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, July 1825 (p169)

July 2, 1825.

My Dear B. B.,
My nervous attack has so unfitted me, that I have not courage to sit down to a letter. My poor pittance in the "London" you will see is drawn from my sickness. Your book is very acceptable to me, because most of it is new to me; but your book itself we cannot thank you for more sincerely than for the introduction you favoured me with to A. K. Now, I cannot write Mrs. A. K. for the life of me. She is a very pleas..... but I won't write all we have said of her so often to ourselves, because I suspect you would read it to her. Only give my sister's and my kindest remembrances to her, and how glad we are we can say that word. If ever she come to Southwark again, I count upon another Bridge walk with her. Tell her I got home time for a rubber; but poor Tryphena will not understand that phrase of the worldling.

I am hardly able to appreciate your volume now. But I liked the Dedication much, and the apology for your bald burying-grounds. To Shelley, but that is not new. To the young Vesper-singer, Great Bealings, Playford, and what not?

If there be a cavil, it is that the topics of religious consolation, however beautiful, are repeated till a sort of triteness attends them. Do children die so often, and so good, in your parts? The topic taken from the consideration that they are snatched away from possible vanities, seems hardly sound; for to an omniscient eye their conditional failings must be one with their actual; but I am too unwell for Theology such as I am,

I am yours and A. K.s truly,
C. Lamb.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, August 1825 (p170)

August 10, 1825.

Dear B. B.,
You must excuse my not writing before, when I tell you we are on a visit to Enfield, where I do not feel it natural to sit down to a letter. It is at all times an exertion. I had rather talk with you, and A. K., quietly at Colebrooke Lodge, over the matter of your last. You mistake me when you express misgivings about my relishing a series of Scriptural poems I wrote confusedly – what I meant to say was; that one or two consolatory poems on deaths would have had a more condensed effect than many. Scriptural devotional topics admit of infinite variety. So far from poetry tiring me because religious, I can read, and I say it seriously, the homely old version of the Psalms in our Prayer Books for an hour or two together sometimes, without sense of weariness.

I did not express myself clearly about what I think a false topic insisted on so frequently in consolatory addresses on the death of infants. I know something like it is in Scripture, but I think humanly spoken. It is a natural thought, a sweet fallacy to the survivors – but still a fallacy.

Bernard Barton to Rev. Charles B. Tayler, February 1826 (p47)

2 mo, 16, 1826.

My dear Charles,
On behalf of Ann, who, I am sorry to say, is not well enough to write herself, I am requested to say that we are quite unable to recommend thee a cook of any kind: as to Quaker cooks, they are so scarce that we Quakerly folk are compelled to call in the aid of the daughters of the land to dress our own viands, or cook them ourselves, as well as we can. But what, my dear friend, could put it into thy head to think of a Quaker cook, of all non-descripts? Charles Lamb would have told thee better: he says he never could have relished even the salads Eve dressed for the angels in Eden his appetite is too highly excited "to sit a guest with Daniel at his pulse." -- Go to! thou art a wag, Charles; and this is only a sly way of hinting that we are fond of good living. But perhaps, after all, more of compliment than of inuendo is implied in the proposition. Thou thoughtest we were civil, cleanly, quiet, &c., all excellent qualities, doubtless, in women of all kinds, cooks not excluded. But, my dear friend, I should be sorry the reputation of our sect for the possession of these qualities should be exposed to the contingent vexations which culinary mortals are especially exposed to. "A cook whilst cooking is a sort of fury," says the old poet. Ay! but not a Quaker cook, at least in the favourable and friendly opinion of Adine and thyself: we are very proud of that good opinion, and I would not risk its forfeiture by sending one of our sisterhood to thee as cook. Suppose an avalanche of soot to plump down the chimney the first gala-day 'twould be cook-ship versus Quaker-ship, whether the poor body kept her sectarian serenity unruffled ; and suppose the beam kicked the wrong way, what would become of all our reputation in the temporary good opinion of Adine and thee? But, all badinage apart, even in our own Society there are comparatively few who are in the situation of domestic servants, and I never remember but one in the peculiar office referred to. I much doubt whether one could be found at all likely to suit you; and I have little doubt that you may suit yourselves much better out of our sisterhood than in it.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, 1826 (p171)

Dear B. B.,
I don’t know why I have delayed so long writing. 'Twas a fault. The under-current of excuse to my mind was, that I had heard of the vessel in which Mitford's jars were to come; that it had been obliged to put in to Batavia to refit, (which accounts for its delay,) but was daily expected. Days are past, and it comes not, and the mermaids may be drinking their tea out of his china for aught I know; but let 's hope not. In the mean time, I have paid £28, &c., for the freight and prime cost. But do not mention it. I was enabled to do it by a receipt of £30 from Colburn, with whom, however, I have done. I should else have run short, for I just make ends meet. We will await the arrival of the trinkets, and to ascertain their full expense, and then bring in the bill.

I am very sorry you and yours have any plagues about dross matters. I have been sadly puzzled at the defalcation of more than one-third of my income, out of which when entire I saved nothing. But cropping off wine, old books, &c., &c., in short, all that can be called pocket-money, I hope to be able to go on at the Cottage.

Colburn has something of mine in last month, which he has had in hand these seven months, and had lost, or couldn't find room for: I was used to different treatment in the "London," and have forsworn periodicals.

I am going through a course of reading at the Museum – the Garrick plays, out of part of which I formed my specimens; I have two thousand to go through, and in a few weeks have despatched the tithe of 'em. It is a sort of office to me hours, ten to four, the same. It does me good; man must have regular occupation that has been used to it. So A. K. keeps a school! She teaches nothing wrong, I'll answer for't. I have a Dutch print of a schoolmistress; little old-fashioned Fleminglings, with only one face among them. She, a princess of a schoolmistress, wielding a rod for form more than use: the scene an old monastic chapel, with a Madonna over her head, looking just as serious, as thoughtful, as pure, as gentle, as herself. 'Tis a type of thy friend.

Will you pardon my neglect ? Mind, again I say, not to show this to M.; let me wait a little longer, to know the event of his luxuries. Heaven send him his jars uncracked, and me my ..........

Yours with kindest wishes to your daughter and friend, in which Mary joins,


Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton (p173)

Dear B. B.,
The "Busy Bee," as Hood, after Dr. Watts, apostrophizes thee; and well dost thou deserve it for thy labours in the Muse's gardens, wandering over parterres of Think-on-mes and Forget-me-nots, to a total impossibility of forgetting thee: – thy letter was acceptable, thy scruples may be dismissed, thou art rectus in curia, – not a word more to be said, verbum sapienti, and so forth, the matter is decided with a white stone, (classically, mark me,) and the apparitions vanished that haunted me, –only the cramp, Caliban's distemper, clawing me in the calvish part of my nature, making me ever and anon roar bullishly, squeak cowardishly, and limp cripple-ishly. Do I write Quakerly and simply? 'Tis my most Master Mathews-like intention to do it. See Ben Jonson. – I think you told me your acquaintance with the drama was confined to Shakspeare and Miss Bailly – some read only Milton and Croly. The gap is from an ananas to a turnip. I have fighting in my head the plots, characters, situations, and sentiments of four hundred old plays, (bran new to me,) which I have been digesting at the Museum, and my appetite sharpens to twice as many more, which I mean to course over this winter. I can scarce avoid dialogue fashion in this letter. I soliloquize my meditations, and habitually speak dramatic blank verse without meaning it. Do you see Mitford? he will tell you something of my labours. Tell him I am sorry to have missed seeing him, to have talked over those old TREASURES. I am still more sorry for his missing pots [the China vases before mentioned]. But I shall be sure of the earliest intelligence of the lost tribes. His "Sacred Specimens" are a thankful addition to my shelves. Marry, I could wish he had been more careful of corrigenda – I have discovered certain which have slipt in his errata. I put 'em in the next page, as perhaps thou canst transmit them to him. For what purpose, but to grieve him? (which yet I should be sorry to do ;) but then it shows my learning, and the excuse is complimentary, as it implies their correction in a future edition. His own things in the book are magnificent, and as old Christ's Hospitaller, I was particularly refreshed with his eulogy of our Edward. Many of the choice excerpta were new to me. Old Christmas is a coming, to the confusion of Puritans, Muggletonians, Anabaptists, Quakers, and that unwassailing crew. He cometh not with his wonted gait; he is shrunk nine inches in the girth, but is yet a lusty fellow. Hood's book is mighty clever, and went off six hundred copies the first day. Sion's songs do not disperse so quickly. The next leaf is for Rev. J. M. [containing corrigenda for the "Sacred Specimens."] In this,

Thine briefly in a tall friendship,
C. Lamb.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, June 1827 (p175)

June 11th, 1827.

Martin's Belshazzar (the picture) I have seen; its architectural effect is stupendous, but the human figures, the squalling contorted little antics that are playing at being frightened, like children at a sham ghost who half know it to be a mask, are detestable. Then the letters are nothing more than a transparency lighted up, such as a lord might order to be lit up on a sudden at a Christmas gambol, to scare the ladies. The type is as plain as Baskervil’s; they should have been dim, full of mystery – letters to the mind rather than the eye. Rembrandt has painted a Belshazzar and a courtier or two, (taking a part of the banquet for the whole,) not fribbled out a mob of fine folks. Then every thing is so distinct, to the very necklaces; and that foolish little prophet – what one point is there of interest? The ideal of such a subject is that you, the spectator, should see nothing but what at the time you would have seen – the hand and the king; not to be at leisure to make tailor-remarks on the dresses, or, Doctor-Kitchener-like, to examine the good things at table.

external image martin3.jpg
Belshazzar's Feast, by John Martin (1789-1854). Image from

Just such a confused piece is his Joshua – frittered into a thousand fragments, little armies here, little armies there; – you should only see the sun and Joshua; if I remember, he has not left out that luminary entirely, but for Joshua, I was ten minutes a finding him.

Still he is showy in all that is not the human figure or the preternatural interest: but the first are below a drawing-school girl's attainment, and the last is a phantasmagoric trick – "Now you shall see what you shall see: – dare is Belshazzar, and dare is Daniel."

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton (p176)

My Dear B. B.,
You will understand my silence when I tell you that my sister, on the very eve of entering into a new house we have taken at Enfield, was surprised with an attack of one of her sad long illnesses, which deprive me of her society, though not of her domestication, for eight or nine weeks together. I see her, but it does her no good. But for this, we have the snuggest, most comfortable house, with every thing most compact and desirable. Colebrook is a wilderness: the books, prints, &c., are come here, and the New River came down with us. The familiar prints, the bust, the Milton, seem scarce to have changed their rooms. One of her last observations was, "How frightfully like this room is to our room at Islington!" – our up-stairs, she meant. How I hope you will come, some better day, and judge of it! We have lived quiet here for four months, and I will answer for the comfort of it enduring.

On emptying my bookshelves, I found a Ulysses [one of Mr. Lamb's version of Chapman's Odyssey], which I will send to A. K. when I go to town, for her acceptance unless the book be out of print. One likes to have one copy of every thing one does. I neglected to keep one of "Poetry for Children," the joint production of Mary and me, and it is not to be had for love or money.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton (p177)

Dear B. B.,
We are pretty well and comfortable, and I take a first opportunity of sending the "Adventures of Ulysses," hoping that among us – Homer, Chapman, and Co., we shall afford you some pleasure. I fear it is out of print; if not, A. K. will accept it, with wishes it were bigger; if another copy is not to be had, it reverts to me and my heirs for ever. With it I send a trumpery book; to which, without my knowledge, the editor of the "Bijoux" has contributed Lucy's verses; I am ashamed to ask her acceptance of the trash accompanying it. Adieu to Albums for a great while, I said, when I came here; and had not been fixed two days, but my landlord's daughter (not at the pot-house) requested me to write in her female friend's, and in her own. All over the Leeward Islands, in Newfoundland, and the Back Settlements, I understand there is no other reading. They haunt me. I die of Albophobia!

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, 1827 (p177)

My Dear B. B.,

A Gentleman I never saw before brought me your welcome present [The "Widow's Tale," &c.]. Imagine a scraping, fiddling, fidgeting, petit-maître of a dancing-school advancing into my parlour, with a coupee and a sidelong bow, and presenting the book as if he had been handing a glass of lemonade to a young Miss imagine this and contrast it with the serious nature of the book presented. Then task your imagination, reversing this picture, to conceive of quite an opposite messenger, a lean, straight-locked, whey-faced Methodist, for such was he in reality who brought it, the genius (it seems) of the "Wesleyan Magazine." Certes, friend B., thy "Widow's Tale" is too horrible, spite of the lenitives of religion, to embody in verse; I hold prose to be the proper exposition of such atrocities! No offence, but it is a cordial that makes the heart sick. Still, thy skill in compounding it I do not deny. I turn to what gave me less mingled pleasure. I find marked with pencil these pages in thy pretty book, and fear I have been penurious.
Page 52, 53, capital.
59, sixth stanza, exquisite simile.
61, eleventh stanza, equally good.
108, third stanza, I long to see Van Balen.
111, a downright good sonnet. Dixi.
153, lines at bottom.
[Pages 52, 53, refer to the poem "Which Things are a Shadow." 59, 61, to the sixth and eleventh stanzas of "A Grandsire's Tale." The "downright good sonnet," is "To a Grandmother." All of these are included in this Selection. The "third stanza" at 108, that made Lamb long to see Van Balen, was from a little poem describing a picture by that artist that represented some angel children leading up a lamb to the infant Saviour in his mother's lap:
"No – rather like that beauteous boy,
Who turns round silently to stay
Those infant angels in their joy,
As if too loud their gentle play, –
Like him I pause with doubtful mien,
As loth to break on such a scene. "
The "153. lines at bottom," are these:–
"Though even in the yet unfolded rose
The worm may lurk, and sin blight blooming youth,
The light born with us long so brightly glows,
That childhood's first deceits seem almost truth
To life's cold after-lie, selfish and void of ruth. "]

So you see, I read, hear, and mark, if I don't learn. In short, this little volume is no discredit to any of your former, and betrays none of the senility you fear about.

Apropos of Van Balen, an artist who painted me lately had painted a blackamoor praying; and not filling his canvass, stuffed in his little girl aside of blacky, gaping at him unmeaningly; and then did not know what to call it. Now for a picture to be promoted to the exhibition (Suffolk-street) as historical, a subject is requisite. What does me I, but christen it the "Young Catechist," and furbished it with dialogue following, which dubb'd it an historical painting. Nothing to a friend at need.
While this tawny Ethiop prayeth,
Painter, who is she that stayeth
By, with skin of whitest lustre;
Sunny locks, a shining cluster;
Saint-like seeming to direct him
To the power that must protect him?
Is she of the heav'n-born Three,
Meek Hope, strong Faith, sweet Charity?
Or some cherub? They you mention
Far transcend my weak invention.
'Tis a simple Christian child,
Missionary young and mild,
From her store of Scriptural knowledge,
(Bible-taught without a college,)
Which by reading she could gather,
Teaches him to say Our Father
To the common Parent, who
Colour not respects nor hue
White and black in Him have part
Who looks not on the skin, but heart.

When I had done it, the artist (who had clapt in Miss merely as a fill-space) swore I expressed his full meaning, and the damosel bridled up into a Missionary's vanity. I like verses to explain pictures; seldom pictures to illustrate poems. Your wood-cut is a rueful signum mortis. By the bye, is the widow likely to marry again?

I am giving the fruit of my Old Play reading at the Museum, to Hone, who sets forth a portion weekly in the "Table Book." Do you see it? How is Mitford?

I’ll just hint that "the pitcher," "the cord," and "the bowl," are a little too often repeated (passim) in your book, and that in page 17, last line but four, him is put for he; but the poor widow I take it had small leisure for grammatical niceties. Don't you see there's he, myself, and him; why not both him*? Likewise imperviously is cruelly spelt imperiously. These are trifles, and I honestly like your book, and you for giving it, though I really am ashamed of so many presents.

[*"Another and another sank; and now
But three of all our crew were left behind:
He unto whom my lip had pledged a vow
Which closer seem'd in this sad hour to bind,
Myself, and him, to whom was erst assign'd
Our ship's command –"]

I can think of no news, therefore I will end with mine and Mary's kindest remembrances to you and yours.

C. L.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, March 1829 (p181)

March 25, 1829.

I have just come from Town, where I have been to get my bit of quarterly pension. And have brought home, from stalls in Barbican, the old "Pilgrim's Progress" with the prints, "Vanity Fair, " &c., now scarce. Four shillings. Cheap. And also one of whom I have oft heard and had dreams, but never saw in the flesh – that is, in sheepskin "The whole theologic works of Thomas Aquinas!" – My arms ached with lugging it a mile to the stage, but the burden was a pleasure, such as old Anchises was to the shoulders of Æneas; or the Lady to the Lover in the old romance, who having to carry her to the top of a high mountain – the price of obtaining her – clambered with her to the top and fell dead with fatigue.

O the glorious old schoolmen!

There must be something in him. Such great names imply greatness. Who hath seen Michel Angelo's things – of us that never pilgrimaged to Rome – and yet which of us disbelieves his greatness? How I will revel in his cobwebs and subtleties till my brain spins!

N. B. I have writ in the Old Hamlet [The reprint of the first quarto, in which C. L. wrote his name.] – offer it to Mitford in my name, if he have not seen it. ‘T is woefully below our editions of it. But keep it, if you like.

I do not mean this to go for a letter, only to apprize you that the parcel is booked for you this 25th March, 1829, from the Four Swans, Bishopsgate.

With both our loves to Lucy and A. K.
Yours ever.
C. L.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, August 1830 (p182)

August 30, 1830.

Dear B. B.,
My address is 34, Southampton Buildings, Holborn. For God's sake do not let me be pestered with Annuals. They are all rogues who edit them, and something else who write in them. I am still alone, and very much out of sorts, and cannot spur up my mind to writing. The sight of one of those Year Books makes me sick. I get nothing by any of 'em, not even a copy.

Thank you for your warm interest about my little volume ["Album verses," published by Mr. Moxon in 1830; sneered at by some of the Reviewers, and vindicated in a Sonnet by Southey, inserted in "The Times" newspaper.], for the critiques on which I care the five hundred thousandth part of the tithe of a half farthing.

I am too old a militant for that. How noble, though, in R. S. to come forward for an old friend, who had treated him so unworthily.

Moxon has a shop without customers, and I a book without readers. But what a clamour against a poor collection of Album verses, as if we had put forth an Epic.

I cannot scribble a long letter I am, when not at foot (?) very desolate, and take no interest in anything, scarce hate anything, but annuals. I am in an interregnum of thought and feeling.

What a beautiful autumn morning this is, if it was but with me as in times past, when the candle of the Lord shined around me!

I cannot even muster enthusiasm to admire the French heroism.

In better times I hope we may some day meet, and discuss an old poem or two.

But if you’d have me not sick,
No more of Annuals.


Love to Lucy, and A. K., always.

Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton, April 1831 (p183)

April, 1831.

Vir bone!
Recepi literas tuas amicissimas, et in mentem venit responsuro mihi, vel raro, vel nunquam, inter nos intercedisse Latinam linguam, organum rescribendi, loquendive. Epistolse tuae, Plinianis elegantiis (supra quod Tremulo deceat) repertae, tarn a verbis Plinianis adeo abhorrent, ut ne vocem quamquam (Romanam scilicet) habere videaris, quam "ad canem," ut aiunt, "rejectare possis." – Forsan desuetude Latinissandi ad vernaculam linguam usitandam, plusquam opus sit, coegit. Per adagia qusedam nota, et in ore omnium pervulgata, ad Latinitatis perditse recuperationem revocare te institui.

Felis in abaco est, et aegre videt.
Omne quod splendet nequaquam aurum putes.
Imponas equo mendicum, equitabit idem ad diabolum.
Fur commode a fure prenditur.

O Maria, Maria, valde CONTRARIA, quomodo crescit hortulus tuus?

Nunc majora canamus.

Thomas, Thomas, de Islington, uxorem duxit die nupera Dominica. Reduxit domum postera. Succedenti baculum emit. Postridie ferit illam. AEgrescit illa subsequenti. Proxima, (nempe Veneris) est mortua. Plurimum gestiit Thomas, quod appropinquanti sabbato efferenda sit.

Horner quidam Johannulus in angulo sedebat, artocreas quasdam deglutiens. Inseruit pollices, pruna manu evellens, et magna voce exclamavit, "Dii boni, quam bonus puer fio!"

Diddle-diddle-dumkins! meus unicus filius Johannas cubitum ivit, integris braccis, caliga una tantum, indutus – Diddle-diddle, &c. Da Capo.

Hie adsum saltans Joannula. Cum nemo adsit mihi, semper resto sola.

In his nugis carem diem consume, dum invigilo valetudini carioris nostrae Emmae, quae apud nos jamdudum aegrotat. Salvere vos jubet mecum Maria mea, ipsa integra valetudine.


Ah agro Enfeldiense datum, Aprilis nescio quibus Calendis –
Davus sum, non calendarius.
P. S. Perdita in toto est Billa Reformatura.

Bernard Barton to George Williams Fulcher, October 1832 (p118)

[The editor and publisher of the Sudbury Pocket Book. See his obituary at]

10 mo, 29, 1832.

Thy packet of Pocket Books, for which I thank thee, reached me on Saturday night.

The poetry, original and selected, is, I think, quite on a par with that of former years with one exception, to which I shall refer presently; only, that I think thou art somewhat too partial to Robert Montgomery in thy gleanings. Tastes, to be sure, have a proverbial right to differ – but I never could get through a volume of Robert's yet. But I am too eager to get to my exception in thy original poetry, to say another word about the bard of Satan.

That exception, then, has reference to the first piece – "The dying Infant" [reproduced below] to which I see thy initials are appended, and which I pronounce to be as much superior to any piece which has yet appeared in any of thy Pocket Books as the poetry of James is to that of Robert Montgomery. They say poets are loth to award cordial praise to the efforts of their contemporaries, but I will praise this most heartily; nor do I at all believe that any one of the forthcoming annuals, with all their proud pretence and lists of eminent contributors, will have a piece at all approaching to it in excellence. Marry, an' thou writest such stanzas, I shall fight shy of figuring in thy pages as a foil to their Editor's own contributions. I do not know that I shall not turn Pocket Book Reviewer, for the mere purpose of making the poem known; but it is needless.

Thine in haste,
B. B.

P. S. Don't bother me about politics, which I care not a rush about (by comparison) while I can have such nursery rhymes to read.

[The following is the very pretty poem to which Mr. Barton alludes:

THE DYING CHILD, by George Williams Fulcher

"What should it know of death?" – Wordsworth.

Come closer, closer, dear Mamma,
My heart is filled with fears;
My eyes are dark, I hear your sobs,
But cannot see your tears.

I feel your warm breath on my lips,
That are so icy cold:
Come closer, closer, dear Mamma,
Give me your hand to hold.

I quite forget my little hymn,
"How doth the busy bee,"
Which every day I used to say,
When sitting on your knee.

Nor can I recollect my prayers
And, dear Mamma, you know
That the great God will angry be,
If I forget them too.

And dear Papa, when he comes home,
Oh will he not be vex'd?
"Give us this day our daily bread;"
What is it that comes next?

"Thine is the kingdom and the power:"
I cannot think of more,
It comes and goes away so quick,
It never did before.

" Hush, Darling! you are going to
The bright and blessed sky,
Where all God's holy children go,
To live with him on high."

But will he love me, dear Mamma,
As tenderly as you?
And will my own Papa, one day,
Come and live with me too?

But you must first lay me to sleep,
Where Grand-papa is laid;
Is not the Churchyard cold and dark,
And sha'n't I feel afraid ?

And will you every evening come,
And say my pretty prayer
Over poor Lucy's little grave,
And see that no one's there?

And promise me, whene'er you die,
That they your grave shall make
The next to mine, that I may be
Close to you when I wake.

Nay, do not leave me, dear mamma,
Your watch beside me keep:
My heart feels cold the room's all dark;
Now lay me down to sleep:

And should I sleep to wake no more,
Dear, dear Mamma, good-bye:
Poor nurse is kind, but oh do you
Be with me when I die!

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, December 1834 (p56)

12 mo, 16, 1834.

I sometimes think that if Lucy, as well as a few others who have left us, I believe from sincere but mistaken apprehension of duty, could have been content when they first doubted, to have looked more inward and less outward; they might have found the object of their search without any separation from their early friends. When the woman in the parable had lost the piece of silver, she did not go out to seek for it, but lighted a candle and swept her own house, and searched diligently till she found it; and I believe her case is applicable to many of the seekers after good even to the present day. But I readily allow that different minds, different dispositions, and diversified views, may require different training it was not intended we should all see eye to eye; we must bear and forbear; for truly we shall all need it, at no distant day, when we shall be called upon to give an account of the time and talents intrusted to us individually, and of their use or abuse.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, March 1837 (p51)

Woodbridge, 3 mo, 2, 1837.

My dear friend,
I owe thee a long letter in return for a very long and delightful one, on the subject of lectures for Mechanics’ Institutes: and after a month's silence, I sit down to pay thee in what Elia would have called bad coin, alias a letteret; but the fact is, I have been, exclusive of my ordinary desk-work, rather extraordinarily engaged since the receipt of thine.

I have, or had, two aged uncles, male aunts Lamb used to call 'em; not uncles of mine exactly, but of Lucy's mother. Just after the receipt of thy last, I had an intimation that one of them, who lives at Leiston Abbey, had been alarmingly ill, and the next Sunday I posted down to see him. The day I spent with him, his younger brother, of seventy-five, died. As he was my old master, to whom I served a seven years' apprenticeship, I went the following Sabbath into Essex, well-nigh forty miles, to his funeral; that is, I went on the day before, and returned the day after; and the next Sabbath I went again to his surviving brother, of seventy-nine, to tell him all about who was present at a ceremony which his bodily infirmities had prevented him from attending.

Now, when it is taken into account that year in and year out I rarely go farther from home than Kesgrave one way, and Wickham the other, this unwonted change of locality has put my personal identity in some jeopardy. And never did I feel more inclined to call in question that same, than in paying the last mark of respect to my old master. The town, a little quiet country one, about thirteen miles sideways of Colchester, was one in which during eight years I saw little or no change. Thirty-one years after, I walked there as in a dream; the names over all the shop-doors were changed, the people were not the same, the houses, or most of them, were altered. It was only the aspect of the country round, and the position of the main street, which I seemed to recognise as the same. The old market-place, a piece of rude and simple architecture, which looked as if it might have grown there in the reign of Elizabeth, and stood just opposite to our shop-door, was pulled down, and its place supplied by a pyramidal obelisk, bearing three gas lamps -- gas! a thing the good folks there, I will answer for it, had scarce heard of thirty years ago. Out on such new-fangled innovations! Had I been apprenticed in London I should have thought nothing of it; but in a little obscure place like Halstead, a spot where all seemed changeless during my eight years' sojourn, I was fairly posed. Bear in mind that I was there from fourteen to twenty-two -- knew, and was known by, everybody, and was as familiar with all around me as with the features of my own face. Yet I stood as a stranger in a strange place, with just enough surviving marks of recognisance to perplex and bewilder me. From fourteen to twenty-two is the very era of castle-building, and mine were dissolved in air by my return to the site of their erection. No wonder that it has taken me all the time since my return to become myself again, and that I have felt unequal to any letterizing.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, September 1837 (p53)

9 mo, 1, 1837.

My only remaining near Quaker relative, my sister Lizzy -- a discreet, sedate, and deliberate spinster of sixty or more, with a head as white as snow, has gone over to your church, having received the ordinances of Baptism and the Supper from my nephew, a clergyman, who married my sister Hack's eldest daughter. My sister H. herself had been previously baptized, three of her children had long before done the same; my brother and his family are all Church-folk, Lucy the same, and I am now almost the sole representative of my father's house, quite the only one of his children, left as an adherent to the creed he adopted from a conscientious conviction of its truth. I am left all alone, like Goldsmith's old widow in the Deserted Village, looking for water-cresses in the brook of Auburn. Lucy tells me I must turn too, but unfortunately, all the results of my reading, reasoning, reflection, observation, and feeling, make me more and more attached to my old faith. It seems only rendered dearer to me by the desertion of those whom I most love. Yet I love them not a whit the less for abandoning it ; believing as I do, that they have done so on principle. Still, principle on their part could be no warrant for a want of it on mine; so I must e'en be a Quaker still. But the change of my dear, good, and orderly old maiden sister, in whom I thought there was no variableness nor shadow of turning, is the last I should have ever dreamt of, and I mourn over and marvel at it by turns. The first feeling, however, will soon subside, for I neither feel nor affect any horror of the rites and ordinances of your church, though I cannot regard them as essential. I as firmly believe that there is a baptism which doth now save a supper of the Lamb, whereof all the living members of the Church must and do partake as any Churchman can do: but I still retain my conviction that water has nothing to do with the first, nor outward bread and wine with the last, in the simple, spiritual, and sublime dispensation of the gospel. Such, my dear friend, is my creed touching ordinances while it is such, I must still remain,

Thy affectionate, though Quakerish friend,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, September 1837b (p54)

9 mo, 26, 1837.

Have I written to thee since I received the intelligence of my dear and good spinster sister having thought it her duty, at near sixty, to become a proselyte to your Church, and with her, three other relations of ours at Chichester? about, I should think, a fourth or fifth of their Lilliputian congregation there. I can only marvel and mourn at such changes; my own Quakerism clings to me all the closer. An instance, here and there, of a change of religious opinion, even in riper years, I could suppose to be the result of calm sober inquiry into doctrines taken on trust from mere education, and into which little, if any, inquiry has been seriously made; though even this conclusion implies no compliment to reflecting persons, who certainly ought, be their faith what it may, to know what it is, and why they hold it. But these secessions by the lump, this flocking off by families, looks to me more like an epidemic disease, than the result of a patient inquiry and a deliberate conviction. I can always hear with pleasure of the conversion of a Jew, a pagan, or an infidel to a belief in Christianity; it is a step in advance in the only true and saving knowledge, a soul brought out of the darkness of ignorance into the glorious light of the gospel. But a change from one form or profession of Christian faith to another, believing as I do that each and all embrace all knowledge necessary to salvation, is not with me a matter of much cause of congratulation. With all my own penchant for my own "ism," I am not one of those who would compass sea and land to gain proselytes to it; for principles of belief, modes of faith, are not with me things to be put on and off like a change of apparel. They go far to make up the identity of those who hold them, and I get puzzled, bewildered, and I know not what, among old friends with new faces. My Lucy was, comparatively, a chit when she apostatized (I don't use the word in its malignant sense); it was conceivable that her thoughts had not been before seriously turned to these topics, not marvellous that then first searching into them she should come to a conclusion differing from my own. But a new light dawning on well-taught, well-trained, serious, and reflective minds, at more than fifty, to whom the oracles of Holy Writ have always been open, and whom I know to have been daily students therein, is a sort of anomaly I cannot understand.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, December 1837 (p56)

12 mo, 5, 1837.

In one respect the work itself, [Miss Barton's Bible History; to which Mr. Barton contributed a Preface.] and my office of Preface writer, have afforded me some soothing and gratifying reflections. Differing as Lucy and I do on certain points, it is to me a comforting thought, that we can forget and forego all such differences in a cordial though humble and feeble effort to uphold the life and character of our common Lord and Master as a pattern for the imitation of his followers of whatever sect or name; and can freely join in the effort to turn the attention of the young to its beauty and excellence. It would say little, indeed, for Lucy's Churchanity or my Quakerism, could we have thought, felt, or done otherwise.

And now, after all this egotism, for, Lucy being a sort of second self, all I write about her comes under that head, I must inquire after N.'s gout. I hope long ere this it has ceased, at any rate, to rage; for I have very awful ideas of that malady in its potential mood treasured amid the earlier memories of my childhood. My grandfather and grandmother had a country-house at Tottenham, where some of my happiest hours were spent. But every earthly elysium has its set-off; and this was not exempt. A good citizen of the name of Townsend, a particular friend of the venerable pair, used to come down there and bring his gout with him; and my poor grandma's fright lest I should go near his too susceptible foot used to keep her and me in a worry. Well-nigh half a century has elapsed since those days, but her reiterated exclamation, "Child! do take care and not run against friend Townsend' s foot," is yet distinctly in my mind's ear. T. was a patient, quiet old sufferer too, and if I did touch the forbidden stool in an unlucky moment, he was the first to notify that no harm was done. I hope N. bears his honours as meekly, and that, with as kindly a heart as poor old Jemmy Townsend's, his unwelcome companion may be of a kindlier nature. I much doubt if the worthy old citizen ever stood or walked much at least, all my recollections of him go on wheels.

Robert Southey to Bernard Barton, December 1837 (p166)

Keswick, 29th December, 1837.

My Dear Sir,
I am much obliged to you for your daughter's very elegant little volume, [‘Gospel History’] and heartily wish it may prove both as successful as she can wish, and as useful as she intends it to be.

The worst of all errors in religion, because in its consequences the most heart-hardening to individuals, and the most dangerous to society, is the belief that salvation is exclusively confined to a particular church or sect. Wherever that opinion prevails there is an end of Christian charity. I rejoice therefore that you and your daughter are both catholic Christians, and are agreed that though one goes to church, and the other to meeting, both may go to heaven, and both are on the road thither. May we all meet there.

Yours very truly, and with many thanks and good wishes to your daughter,
Robert Southey.

Bernard Barton to George Williams Fulcher, April 1838 (p121)

[On proposing a portrait of Jemmy Chambers as a frontispiece for Mr. Fulcher's "Ladies' Pocket Book." [Jemmy Chambers was] one of those Edie Ochiltrees, who, by virtue of a Blue Gown, or of a genius that will not be gainsaid, are privileged to go about a neighbourhood and pick up a scanty subsistence from the charity and curiosity of the inhabitants. He was born at Soham, in Cambridgeshire ; but for the latter years of his life wandered about Woodbridge, housing himself at times in a half-ruined cottage called Cold Hall, on a hill overlooking the town and river. "His poetry, or what he put forth as such," wrote Mr. Barton again, "was poor doggerel ; but he himself, and the life he led, are (or were) full of poetry; now sleeping in a barn, cow-house, or cart-shed; at others, in woods; but always 'in the eye of nature,' as Daddy Wordsworth said of his Cumberland beggar." So Jemmy Chambers went about, with two or three dogs for company, one of which he carried in his arms. No gift of clothes could induce him to keep them or himself clean; he would not stay in a house that was once fitted up for him. He died about twenty-five years ago. The portrait here spoken of represents him in his dirty habits as he lived, about to indite some of his acrostics, his dogs about him, and he himself a vigorous old man with a face like Homer's.]

4 mo, 6, 1838.

Ladies are somewhat fond of pet oddities. An old, tattered, weather-beaten object, like old Chambers, is the very thing to take their fancies. Why, when the poor wretch was living, and had located himself hereabouts, his best friends were the ladies. When they stopped to speak to the old man, to be sure, they would get to windward of him, as a matter of taste; for he was a walking dung-hill, poor fellow, most of his wardrobe looking as if it had been picked off some such repositories, and his hands and face bearing evident marks of his antipathy to soap and water. Yet, though he was the very opposite of a lady's lap-dog, curled, combed, washed, and perfumed, he had his interest, and it was pretty effective too, with the sex. His wretched appearance was sure to appeal to their compassion: the solitary wandering life he led, his reputed minstrel talent, some little smattering of book-learning, which he would now and then display in short, I might write a regular treatise, giving very philosophical reasons why C_ was quite a "lady's man."

As to thy election politics, I pity thee. Politics of any sort, or of all sorts, are not to my taste; but those connected with electioneering tactics are the most loathsome. I would as soon turn in three in a bed with two like Chambers, as go through the endurance of an election at I_ or S_. Believe me, this is no "façon de parler" for I should be truly sorry a dog of mine, for whose respectability I felt the least regard, should be put in nomination for either place.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, November 1838 (p58)

11 mo, 24, 1838.

My dear friend,
I send thee herewith a little book [ Memoirs of Maria Jesup ] which to many would seem the very essence of insipidity but if I mistake not, thou wilt appreciate more indulgently the genuine simplicity of its character. * * * * To me it is a tome of no common interest, from the picture it gives of gentle, unobtrusive goodness and the light it incidentally throws on what I regard as the true operative tendency of the Quaker creed, when lived up to and simply followed. For though it be perfectly true that gentleness, meekness, patience, faith, and love are of no sect, yet the manner in which these are taught, and the mode in which they are exhibited, may have some distinguishing features. In the case of this young woman, for instance, her growth in Christian excellence is not to be traced to her edification under the teaching of a Christian ministry. Sudbury, where she was born and brought up, is a very small meeting, and I cannot now call to mind its ever having had, in my memory, even one of our seldom-speaking preachers resident there, so that I think it very probable, that through childhood and girlhood, except while at school, this girl, week after week, and month after month, chiefly attended silent meetings only. Her Christian knowledge and experience were nurtured by no ordinances; for the outward observances of these she never knew, or practised.

Think not for one moment I am condemning either a stated ministry, the use of a form of prayer, or the observance of ordinances among others very far from it. I am only adducing a simple proof that in the absence of all these, generally deemed essential, the Great Head of the church will himself be the teacher of those who, conscientiously rejecting such helps, under a firm belief of the simple spirituality of His religion, look to Him, and his word, both written and inwardly revealed, as their rule and law. Who shall say that in doing this they have followed cunningly devised fables, or the ignis fatuus of mere fanaticism? The means so blessed to her seem to have been, the practice of daily retirement, the study of the Scriptures, and diligent attention to what she apprehended to be the teaching of the Holy Spirit. What is there that ought to be regarded as sectarian in each or all of these? To my judgment, nothing; for they seem to me part and parcel of our common Christianity, and to embrace and embody its very essence.

In the phraseology of her memoranda, Quakerism is more apparent, but not to me offensively so. I like it all the better, perhaps, from its being, in a manner, my mother tongue. To me it has a charm from its simplicity, which is in keeping with the unobtrusive retired worth of its writer. Nor do I believe such characters by any means rare among the young women of the Society. How little there is of doctrinal discussion in these memoranda! no mooting of knotty points or abstruse dogmas: all is viewed in its practical influence on the heart and its affections, and their conformity to the Divine will: and such is, and ought to be, and ever will be, the aim, scope, and tendency of all true religion.

Thy affectionate friend,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, 1838 (p60)

Dr. Johnson says, I think, in a paper of his "Idler," written on the death of his mother, that philosophy may infuse stubbornness, but religion alone can give true patience. And he never said anything more true. There is a spurious sort of fortitude which the pride of our poor frail nature, aided by the cut and dry precepts of what is called philosophy, can supply in the hour of trial, which may yield a temporary support; but, even while it lasts, this spirit of stoical endurance has none of the healing virtue of Christian submission: it leaves the heart and all its affections hard and dry, unsoftened by those afflictions which were graciously sent to melt and mould them to nobler influences and enlarged capacities of good; while the meek and resigned spirit which God's holy word would inculcate, and which his blessed Spirit would give to the Christian mourner, leads us to look beyond present suffering to the end it was designed to accomplish, and to the grateful confession that He who does not afflict us willingly, has done all well and wisely, and has only chastened us to bring us nearer to himself.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, 1839 (p60)

When any sorrow tends to wrap us up in ourselves, and makes us think only of our own feelings and privations, we may be very sure it is not answering the end for which it was mercifully sent.

The longer I live the more expedient I find it to endeavour more and more to extend my sympathies and affections. The natural tendency of advancing years is to narrow and contract these feelings. I do not mean that I wish to form a new and sworn friendship every day to increase my circle of intimates; these are very different affairs. But I find it conduces to my mental health and happiness to find out all I can which is amiable and loveable in all I come in contact with, and to make the most of it. It may fall very short of what I was once wont to dream of; it may not supply the place of what I have known, felt, and tasted; but it is better than nothing it serves to keep the feelings and affections in exercise it keeps the heart alive in its humanity; and, till we shall be all spiritual, this is alike our duty and our interest.

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, July 1839 (p77)

[Of these letters, written to a Quaker lady, (whom Mr. Barton never saw,* but corresponded with for more than twenty years, the first division alludes mainly to some little charges of Quaker non-conformity; charges kindly and half playfully made, and so answered. The last division refers to certain controversies among the Friends, and secessions from that body, several years ago.

To this lady he addressed the sonnet:
Unknown to sight for more than twenty years
Have we, by written interchange of thought,
And feeling, been into communion brought
Which friend to friend insensibly endears!
In various joys and sorrows, hopes and fears,
Befalling each; and serious subjects, fraught
With wider interest, we at times have sought
To gladden this yet look to brighter spheres!
We never yet have met; and never may,
Perchance, while pilgrims upon earth we fare;
Yet, as we seek each other's load to bear,
Or lighten, and that law of love obey,
May we not hope in heaven's eternal day
To meet, and happier intercourse to share?]

7 mo, 26, 1839.

My dear good old mother's house is to be sold or offered by auction tomorrow. * * * The house, though very large and roomy, is near two hundred years old and copyhold, so not very saleable, but sold on some terms it must and will be: so I turned into its old-fashioned garden the other day a young artist friend of mine, and sat him down on a stool in the middle of the long gravel walk leading from the parlour door to the bottom of the garden, which ends with a most beautiful and picturesque group of trees. These he has made a delightful water-colour sketch of an upright, about eleven inches high and eight wide. In the afternoon he turned his seat round, and sketched the back or garden front of the house, as it looks from the garden, above, under, and through the trees. This drawing he has made as a companion to the Ive-Gill sketch he did me a short time ago, and the same size, ten inches by eight, so I have hung the trio over my study fire; and just under the tall upright one, I have hung the portrait of the old dear herself, so they hang after this fashion:

[sketch of four rectangles arranged as a ‘+’]

and a very pretty quartetto they make, the two garden scenes are such vivid transcripts of the spot depicted, and, though slight and free sketches only, retain so perfectly the spirit and character of the places that I could sit and look at them till I half fancy myself in the old familiar haunt; and the blessed old dear herself looks so perfectly at home, in the middle of her old and favourite garden, that it is quite a treat to look at her. Ive-Gill, I promise thee, is in goodly company, and becomes it well. Mother's house and garden were so old-fashioned, and the latter so wildly overgrown with trees, that they assort well together. Over the top of the house, as high as its towering chimney, is the tufted top of a tall sycamore, growing in the court-yard next the street: this, mother stuck in a twig, to tie a flower to, or point out where some seeds were sown, when she came home a bride near sixty-six or sixty-seven years ago. It took root, and is now a lofty tree, but one very likely to be cut down by some new owner, so I wished to preserve its memorial. But it is now breakfast time, and I have been scribbling this hour.

[Mr. Barton himself bought this house and grounds with some of the money presented to him by the Friends in 1824.]

Bernard Barton to William Bodham Donne, April 1840 (p71)

4 mo, 5, 1840.

Pray make my very kindest respects to Mrs. Donne, and my most reverential ones to Mrs. Bodham. I believe I am more proud of having sat on the sofa with her, than of having, or being about to have, a ship named after me. The Bernard Barton may go to the bottom, (though I hope better things for her, how odd it seems to write of myself in the feminine gender!) and her fate may bring disgrace on my name, as having tended to bring about such a catastrophe; but nothing in the unrolled scroll of the future, so long as that future is passed by me in this state of being, can cheat me out of the remembrance of that bright hour or two at Mattishall, and in its environs. There are few in my life that I have lived over again with more delight.

I am finishing my letter, begun three days ago, in my own little study, six feet square, at the witching hour of night, having just closed two ponderous ledgers brought out of the bank, to do lots of figure-work, after working there from nine to six. I only wish I had thee in the opposite chair, to take a pinch out of the Royal George, [A snuff-box made out of the recovered wood of the Royal George] or another, as interesting a relic, standing by me on the table a plain wooden box, the original cost of which might be 2s. 6d. or 3s.; but to me it has a worth passing show, having been the working-box and table-companion of Crabbe the poet. It was given me by his son and biographer, and I prize it far beyond a handsome silver one, Crabbe's dress box, which I think his son told me he gave to Murray.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, May 1840 (p61)

5 mo, 2, 1840.

Many thanks to thee and Newton for attending at my launch; [Launch of the "Bernard Barton" schooner.] I never affect to put on a voluntary humility, or affect indifference where I feel aught of gratification or interest: and I did both on the occasion to which I refer. At the time, I was sailing about Portsmouth harbour, looking at great castles of ships, to which the B. B. was but like a child's toy, made out of half a walnut-shell.

Some of these leviathans were on the stocks, having been hauled up to repair; and I was asking myself if my vanity would not have been more tickled to have had one of these first-rates bear my name, and be consigned to its destined element amid the shouts of a far more numerous and brilliant assemblage than I could then suppose got together at Woodbridge. Of a truth, could the choice have been given me, I should have given my vote, most cordially, for the schooner B. B. at Woodbridge. I have so decided a preference for humbler fame of home growth, awarded by folks that I have lived among for thirty-five years, and am linked to by numberless and nameless ties of neighbourly, social, and friendly sympathy. With these feelings thou wilt readily feel and understand that the B. B. is a bit of a pet with me, and I really believe I have as much interest in her well-doing as if I held a share in her. I have been down several times to see her as she lies along-side the quay: her rigging and mast, with some of her sails, are now up, and this week she is to sail, I think to Hartlepool, a port, I believe, on the Durham coast, some where near Sunderland. Our ancestors, who used to be devout in their phraseology, even about business, had in their old printed bills of lading a phrase, now, I believe, gone out of fashion, and, after stating the cargo, and the time allowed for the voyage and delivery, the old finale ran thus "and so God speed the good ship, and send her safe to her desired port!" or some words to that effect. The thing I dare say was a mere form, and to nine-tenths using and signing it, had no meaning. I thought, however, this evening, as I turned away from the quay, I could echo the old phrase very cordially.

Bernard Barton to Miss H_, July 1840 (p109)

[On some Church-of-England zealots.]

7 mo, 26, 1840.

Such men are like the good prophet who was very jealous for the Lord God of hosts, and believed that he only was left to serve Him; unto whom the Lord's own words were, "Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, who had not bowed the knee to Baal." And thus I believe it is now-a-days with some of those to whom I now refer they would hardly regard as Christians many who conscientiously dissent from the Church of England. I regret this for their sakes; but such persuasion on their part cannot unchristianize any humble believer in Christ. Happily, we shall not in the great day of account sit in judgment on one another, but shall all stand before the tribunal of One who cannot err, and whose mercy is as boundless as his justice is unchangeable. Such, unhappily, is (however) the infirmity of our nature, that sometimes, in proportion to our own zeal and devotedness to what we regard as the voice of God, given forth in his holy word, is our interpretation of all who do not read that blessed word through our own spectacles. Like those disciples of old, who went to the Saviour, saying, "We saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not us;" – there are those who seem as if they never asked themselves touching a professing fellow-Christian differing from themselves in certain points: "Does he believe in our one common Master? Does he look for salvation through His cross? Has he been born again of His Spirit? Do his life and the pervading tone of his spirit bear evidence that he has been with Jesus?" These are not the questions – the one to be first answered is, whether he followeth us? – "'T is true 't is pity: pity 't is 't is true!" But such is human nature, when warped by either sectarianism or Churchanity; for this sad spirit is by no means monopolized by your ultras on the Church side. I have seen some of the old orthodox Dissenters, of the genuine crab-stock stamp, woefully leavened with the same spirit; and, what made it the worse, some of these zealots on both sides were and are persons who, God-ward and man-ward, were alike "sans peur et sans reproche;" men whose praise was and is justly heard in their respective Churches ; only, alas! men mistaking a part for the whole, and taking their own one-sided view of Christianity as the only true one, instead of looking at it in its full and entire completeness, and imbibing that generous and comprehensive spirit which is its very essence.

Bernard Barton to Miss H_, July 1840 (p106)

7 mo, 29, 1840.

Do not let thy zeal for a Church [The Church of England.] which I have a lurking love for myself, inasmuch as Izaak Walton's worthies all belonged to it, put thee in any unnecessary fright about my dreaming of making a convert of thee from said Church to any ism of my own. In the first place, my dear, I am not one of those who would compass sea and land to make proselytes – in the second, I am by no means sure that my ism would suit either thy mental or physical temperament as it does mine – and, thirdly, I have my suspicions whether I do not like thee best as a Churchwoman, always assuming thy honours to be borne with meekness, gentleness, and charity. Day, the author of Sandford and Merton, once fell in love with Anna Seward; but having more of the Spartan than of the dandy in him, Miss S. did not like his manners, and told him so: poor Day went to France to polish – came back, and resumed his suit; when Miss S. frankly told him she liked Tom Day the blackguard better than Tom Day the beau so he "took nothing," as the lawyers phrase it, by this motion.

Bernard Barton to ‘another correspondent’, ~1840 (p63)

Some of my townsmen, three or four years ago, took it into their heads to name a schooner, built at this port, after their Woodbridge poet. The parties were not literary people, or great readers or lovers of verse; I am not sure that they ever read a page of mine. But I suppose they thought a poet creditable, some how or other, to a port; and so they did me that honour, for which I am vastly their debtor. The stanza, "Thou bear'st no proud or lofty name / Which all who read must know," is no flight of voluntary humility on my part, but a simple record of a positive fact; for the captain has told me he has been asked over and over again, up the Mersey, the Humber, the Severn, and I know not where else, what person or place his ship is named after? and I fancy the poor fellow has been at some pains to convince inquirers that among my own folk I really pass for somebody. At any rate, his vessel was once put down in the shipping list, among the arrivals at some far-off port, as "The Barney Burton." Oh, Willy Shakspeare ! well mightest thou ask “What's in a name?"

Bernard Barton to Rev. Thomas William Salmon, August 1840 (p129)

[Rector of Woodbridge, and then Perpetual Curate of Hopton near Gorleston]

8 mo, 9, 1840.

I have been for two days turning over to me a new leaf in the varied volume of human life; having been suppœnaed as a witness to the Assizes, on a trivial cause, where my evidence was deemed requisite. So I have spent two days in Court, one in the Crown, or Criminal side, and one in the Nisi Prius Court. As I had never before seen any thing of the administration of justice, I could not but feel greatly interested in the proceedings, more especially in those of the Criminal Court. In the other, the only trial I heard was a tedious squabble about throwing up the lease of a house at Newmarket, in which there appeared to me a confused and contradictory mass of evidence on the part of near thirty witnesses, and a great waste of words on the part of four counsel, with a charge equally bewildering on the part of the learned judge who honestly told the jury at the opening of it that he was very thankful the case was in their hands, and not in his, for ultimate decision. The case on which I went was not called, so for my comfort I have to go again to-morrow, and shall be thankful if I then get quit of it. I should be sorry to spend any great portion of my life in such an atmosphere; physically and morally, it struck me as any thing but a healthy one.

Still there is much that is very imposing in many of its forms and ceremonies, though blended, I thought, with some childish mummery, at least as far as respected the dress of the learned judge presiding in the Criminal Court; the wig denoting the masculine, and the drapery below appearing to me any thing but manly. Yet, as the cortege drove up with a nourish of trumpets, and a line of javelin men, &c., &c., and my thoughts travelled to the cells of the jail behind, where, on these occasions, there must often be human beings waiting the result of a trial whose issue to them must be life or death, there was a thrilling feeling of solemnity excited by the scene altogether. It seemed to bring before me an inconceivably more awful and solemn tribunal, when the last trumpet shall sound, when the dead shall be raised, and the Great Assize, whose verdict shall be for Eternity, must be held on the countless myriads who have existed through all the successive ages of time.

Bernard Barton to Miss H_, May 1841 (p107)

5 mo, 20, 1841.

I forget whether I told thee in my last of my going to the funeral of a very sweet, interesting girl of nineteen, at my favourite village of Playford, a fortnight ago. She was the third daughter of two valued friends of mine; her mother a very old friend of mine from childhood, and, till her marriage, a Quaker. As her religious principles were unaltered by marriage, though she went to church with her husband and children regularly, none of their children were baptized in infancy, their mother wishing their joining in full church membership should be their own act when they were able to think for themselves. As they have grown up to an age capable of deciding, I believe they have so united themselves to your Church. This lovely girl had done so only about a month prior to the rupture of a blood-vessel, which brought on rapid consumption, and carried her off in a fortnight. I went over to the funeral by invitation, and certainly of all the funerals I ever attended it was one of the most affecting, from the oneness of feeling and the audible manifestations of grief on the occasion. The parties who had been her sponsors at baptism a few weeks before were, Clarkson the Abolitionist, and his widowed daughter. On our arrival at the little village church I found them quietly seated in their pew, into which I went. But when the bier had to pass us up the aisle, the poor old man, now verging on eighty years of age, was so broken down that he had no alternative but to give way to it, and in the emphatic language of Scripture he fairly lifted up his voice and wept aloud. The family of the deceased occupied the next pew, and a twin-brother, who had with great effort kept his grief under some control, soon gave way; even the clergyman, by his low and tremulous voice as he began the lesson, seemed hardly equal to his task. But as his voice became stronger and firmer, tranquillity was restored. By the grave-side, however, the scene again became quite overpowering. A chair had been set at the head of the grave for poor old Clarkson, very considerately, but he had to be supported in it, and the audible, uncontrollable expression of sorrow on every hand was truly heart-touching. When the usual service was ended, the clergyman stated that it was the wish of the deceased, or rather of her relatives, that a little hymn which had ever been a great favourite of hers should be sung on this occasion, and he had much pleasure in complying with the request. After a few minutes, way was made for the children of the village school, which this estimable girl had almost made and managed, to come up to the grave-side – about twenty or twenty-five little things, with eyes and cheeks red with crying: I thought they could never have found tongues, poor things; but once set off, they sung like a little band of cherubs. What added to the effect of it, to me, was that it was a little almost forgotten hymn of my own, written years ago; which no one present, but myself, was at all aware of.

Bernard Barton to Elizabeth and Maria C_, May 1842 (p112)

[Describing pictures in his study.]

5 mo, 14, 1842.

On each side of the window hangs a portrait, and a third portrait, of old Chambers, the itinerant poetaster, hangs in one corner; the last-named was painted by Mendham, of Eye, the same self-taught Suffolk artist who painted the Old Man and Child, that hangs over the piano. The other two portraits are quite unknown to thee, but I hope one day or other to show them to thee. They were picked up by E. F. – in his exploratory visits to brokers' shops about town. One is a portrait of Stothard the painter, by Northcote, a careless, hasty oil sketch, but very effective and pleasing, being, in truth, a speaking likeness of a benevolent, happy, and intelligent-looking gentleman of between sixty and seventy, perhaps nearer the latter than the former, if, indeed, the original were not more than seventy. Any how it is a delightful specimen of green old age, placid and cheerful. The other, Edward will have to be the portrait, by anticipation, of Bill Sykes, in Oliver Twist. I call it Peter Bell! The fellow has, I own, a somewhat villanous aspect, and his arms are brought forward in a way that conveys a fearful suspicion that his hands, luckily not given, are fettered. His elf-locks look as they had never known sizzors, (I don't believe I have spelt that word right, but I never had to write it before,) but had been hacked away with a blunt knife; his upper lip and all the lower part of the face cannot have been shaven for a week; yet there is a touch of compunction about the full, dark, and melancholy eyes, which will not allow me to pronounce the fellow altogether bad. The broker who sold it to Edward, called it a portrait of a gamekeeper, and said it was by Northcote. I opine it to be by Opie. Fuseli once said in his caustic way, that Opie never painted any characters so well as cut-throats and villains, and acquitted himself best in these when he studied his own features well in a glass, before he sat down to his easel; but that was vile on the part of Fuseli, for I have seen a portrait of Opie without a taint of villany. But be the thing hanging before me by whom it may, or a semblance of whom it will, I would not take a £10 note for it. It can be no fancy sketch; there is a reality about it there is no mistaking.

Bernard Barton to William Bodham Donne, June 1842 (p72)

6 mo, 23, 1842.

Well, but now about thy Roman History, for certain numbers of which I am thy debtor. When the numbers first came I said, "Go to I will be wise, and study history. I never yet read a history in my life, save after the hop-skip-and-jump fashion, but now I will become historic." Alas! alas! I did most faithfully, honestly, and truly read, mark, learn, and strove inwardly to digest; but I got on slowly. I thought of the first line of Wordsworth's sonnet to my neighbour the great abolitionist – "Clarkson, it was an obstinate hill to climb!" and "the more I read the more my wonder grew" at the persevering industry of thyself in digging, sifting, sorting, and arranging such an accumulation of historical details. At times I honestly own I flagged, but when I called to mind thy labour of love in having written it all, and corrected the proofs; to say nothing of first collecting the materials, and that these numbers were but a specimen; I marvelled more and more. Still, the longer I read, the more I became convinced I was hopelessly unhistorical that in my phrenology the organ of history was very imperfectly developed. Yet thy history is a good history notwithstanding, true, and faithful, and learned; but such is the wayward perversity of a poet, methinks I should like it better had it fewer facts, and more fiction interwoven.

If I have not in sober earnest given cause of offence to thee, by my inability to ride thy hobby, pray write and tell me how it fares with you all. It ought to be no ground of quarrel with me in thy eyes, if I feel more interested about Catherine than Cornelia, or about thy two eldest boys than about Romulus and Remus. Mrs. Donne is, I hope, too very a woman not to like me the better for it; and, as her husband, thou art bound to forgive me. I direct this to the Penates at Mattishall.

Bernard Barton to Elizabeth C_, July 1842 (p113)

7 mo, 16, 1842.

My dear Libby,

My good cousin Bessy A_ , from G_, has been L.'s guest more than a week, and the day after she came I told her that I expected a letter from Libby C_ on the morrow. On her wanting to know why I expected such an arrival, I gave her divers most excellent reasons; reasons enough to satisfy the most incredulous. I had written to thee I know not how long before; I had sent thee, and lent thee the world and all of rhymes; and had furnished thee with a subject on which to write more, which confessedly took thy fancy, so that I was in daily expectation of reaping the fruit, a golden harvest. I put her in mind that it was no effort in the world to thee to write letters. In short, I argued the point with her in a manner the most convincing, but I convinced her not that a letter would come on the morrow. Nor did I convince L.; but then, from never writing letters herself, she has grown into an unbeliever, or nearly so, that letters are to be written. However no letter has come, and I begin to grow sceptical myself, not as to the fact of letters being writeable, but as to there being such a person as E. C_ to write them, unless they are to reach one through that mysterious office which used to convey Mrs. Howe's letters from the dead to the living. I begin to have the oddest and queerest misgivings as to whether that migratory life of thine thou hast lived so long, may not have attenuated all that was bodily in thee into air, thin air! and when one begins to admit a doubt as to the bodily existence of an old correspondent, hosts of thick-coming fancies flock in; if I begin to doubt whether there be now a Libby C_ in positive and real substance moving about on this world of ours, what proof have I there ever was such a person? I once read a very ingenious treatise written to show that there never was such a person as Napoleon; methinks I could write one full as plausible to show that there never was an Elizabeth C_. While I kept on having letters from thee, a sort of vague idea that there was some where a somebody, or something, corporeal, or spiritual, or both, which answered being so addressed or apostrophized, tended to perpetuate the idea of thy reality. I could think of thee, as one does of the wandering Jew of antiquity, and I had thoughts of addressing thee in verse, with these lines of Wordsworth for my motto–
"O cuckoo! shall I call thee bird? / Or but a wandering voice!"
but the voice having ceased to make its responses, I am at a loss what to think, or to do; so I just scribble these lines as a sort of last resource, a forlorn hope.

Bernard Barton to George Williams Fulcher, November 1842 (p122)

11 mo, 3, 1842.

This very sudden news of poor Allan Cunningham's death has both shocked and grieved me. I had a letter from him on Friday morning last – I suspect the last he wrote – it was in his old cordial, kindly tone, but evidently written by an invalid. So I sat me down on Saturday night, and wrote him a long epistle, urging him to come down to Lucy and me for a week, as I was quite in hopes a few days' country air and quiet relaxation would do him good. I exerted all my powers of persuasion as eloquently as I could, of course to no purpose, for at the very time I was writing he was dying. And so I have lost my old favourite – him whom Charles Lamb used to call the "large-hearted Scot" – and a large and warm, heart he had of his own. It seems to me now as if I never would give a fig to go to town again. The very last time I was there, Lucy and I spent a morning at Chantrey's, walking with Allan about those great rooms, each of them as big as a little cathedral, and swarming with statues – busts and groups – many as large as life – all still as death. It was worth somewhat to sit at the foot of some grand mass of stone or marble, and hear Allan talk about Sir Walter Scott, and Sir Francis, and Wilkie, and Burns; – or when he was still, and we as mute, to look round at all those glorious works of art, till we ourselves seemed to grow into stone like them; – and now and then the din of the great Babel without, faintly heard there, would come upon us like echoes from another world, with which we then had no concern. We shall never go there more. Sir Francis and Allan, both then living, are now dead as the wonders they created; the rooms are stripped; – and there's an end of that beautiful chapter in one's little life.

Bernard Barton to Mary W_, December 1842 (p110)

[On the death of her father]

12 mo, 17, 1842.

Our poor frail and infirm nature, dear Mary, is sadly prone to render us unjust to ourselves, as well as unthankful to our heavenly Father, under such trials as these. We hear no more the voice we loved we see no more the form so dear to us for we still dwell in these clay houses: but could we see, as we (for aught we know) are seen by those dear to us, who are unclothed of mortality, should we then say there was no union or communion left between us and the loved ones who are gone but a little, perhaps, before us? O, believe it not! Thy beloved father is as much thy father in his present happiness as in his past helplessness.

Bernard Barton to Mr. Clemisha, January 1843 (p102)

[This correspondent travelled about England in the way of business, and wrote to Mr. B. from various places in the course of his journey, specifying always when and where an answer might reach him on the road: a sort of "Bo-peep" correspondence, as Mr. B. wrote to him "When I say 'Peep' at one place, thy 'Bo' comes from another,"]

London, 1 mo, 8, 1843.

I never fancy to myself that much, if aught, of personal identity can hang about folks in London; that they can see, hear, smell, or think, talk, and feel, as people do in the country. I can obscurely understand how Cockneys born and bred, or such as are even long resident in Cockaigne, and therefore native to that strange element, may in course of time acquire a sort of borrowed nature, and by virtue of it, a kind of artificial individuality ; but I never was in London long enough to get at this, and have always seemed, when there, not to be myself, but very much as if I were walking in a dream, or like a bit of seaweed blown off some cliff or beach, and drifting with the current one knew not why or how. In a coffee-room, up one of those queer long dark inn yards, I have felt more like myself; there is more of quiet; folks often sit in boxes apart, and talk in a kind of under-tone; or when they do not, the united effect of so many voices becomes a sort of indistinct hum or buzz, relieved at intervals by the swinging to and fro of the coffee-room door, the clatter of plates, the jingle of glasses, or the rustle of the newspaper often turned over. I have spent an hour or two after my fashion in this way, at the Four Swans, Belle Sauvage, Bolt in Tun, Spread Eagle, and other coach houses, by no means unpleasantly, seemingly reading the paper, and sipping my tea or coffee, wine or toddy, but really catching some amusing scraps of the talk going on round, and speculating on the characters of the talkers. But the greatest luxury London had to give, is gone with my poor old friend Allan Cunningham. It was worth something to steal out of the din and hubbub of crowded streets into those large, still, cathedral-like rooms of Chantrey's, populous with phantom-like statues, or groups of statues as large or larger than life; some tinted with dust and time, others of spectral whiteness, but all silent and solemn; to roam about among these, hearing nothing but the distant murmur of rolling carriages, now and then the clink of the workman's chisel in some of the yards or workshops, but chiefly the low, deliberate, often amusing, and always interesting talk of honest Allan, in broad Scotch. A morning of this sort was well worth going up to London on purpose for.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, January 1843 (p63)

1 mo, 8, 1843.

My dear friend,
Were I to follow out my own inclination in saying all that thy questions might suggest to me as worthy to be said on the topics referred to, it would lead me into a wide field of discussion; but I will not trust myself to do this, lest I should subject myself to be classed with those of old who were said to a darken counsel by words without knowledge." I am perfectly aware that St. Paul uses the words quoted by thee, "I suffer not a woman to teach;" they are to be found in the Epistle to Timothy, and the context, if my memory deceives me not, runs thus, "nor to usurp authority over the man." Where any such disposition could be manifested, I readily grant that woman could be very ill qualified to teach either her own sex or ours, having need to be taught herself the very first rudiments of a gospel ministry. I am quite aware, too, the same apostle in his Epistle to the Corinthians speaks after this fashion, "Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted unto them to speak." And here again I think the context tends to throw some light on the interdiction, "If they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home:" words which, to my understanding, pretty plainly intimate the sort of speaking which the apostle intended absolutely to forbid. Those women, or men either, who would speak in the churches, merely to ask questions whereby they might learn somewhat, could hardly be qualified for the high and holy office of the ministry. Now these two are, I think, the only passages interdictory of women's preaching that their real spirit is not opposed to the lawfulness (under the gospel dispensation) of a female ministry, I am compelled to believe for the following reasons:

First, the entire spirituality of the gospel dispensation, its abolition of all the old Mosaic law of priesthood, which vested the office of the ministry in the sons of Levi, exclusively. This marked distinction is explicitly made by Peter in his address to the people on the day of Pentecost, when he says, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 'I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy!'" In fact, I believe it to be one of the glorious features of that new priesthood which our Lord himself set up in his church, that it is limited to no sex, or rank, or station.

In the second place, the passages referred to in St. Paul's Epistles as interdictory of women's preaching do not appear to me conclusive, because they are in direct contradiction to other passages in his own writings. If he meant, in toto, to forbid the ministry of women at all, why give directions what their attire or costume should be when praying or prophesying, and that they should do neither with their heads uncovered? The whole tenor of the opening of the 11th chapter of 1st Corinthians, shows that the apostle there refers to what openly passed in the public assemblies of the early church. When I find the same apostle sending such a message as this, "Salute those women who laboured with me in the gospel" -- (I find I have quoted wrong, trusting to memory; his words are) "Help those women which laboured with me in the gospel,” I think it no forced construction that they were fellow ministers. The same I should infer of Priscilla, whom he styles one of his helpers in Christ. But it would be endless to quote all the passages which tend to show, that in the earlier age of the church, and in the primitive purity of its apostolic government, women did exercise their gift in the ministry.

With regard to the practical working of this liberty of prophesying, in our own Society, I can only say that I believe it has worked well; and that some of the most powerful, effective, and persuasive ministers in the Society have been women, and still are. I cannot understand why there should be aught of soul in sex which should qualify the one exclusively, and disqualify the other from becoming fit recipients of those influences of the Spirit by the aid of which alone man or woman can speak to edification. In some respects, especially as regards our own Society, I should say that women, among us, taking into account their general training, habits, and the life they lead, have some peculiar advantages, tending to fit and qualify them for the service of the ministry; but on these it is superfluous to dwell.

I do not pretend to assert that the arguments I have adduced for the lawfulness of female preaching, under the gospel dispensation, are such as will satisfy a church-woman of the propriety of the custom. We are so much the creatures of habit, of education, of tradition, that from the same admitted premises, we are very apt to come to opposite conclusions; but I hope I have said somewhat which may warrant thy charitable and tolerant conviction that we have not come to the decision adopted without much thought and reflection on the subject; and that we, at least, think we have Scripture on our side; judging, not by one or two insulated passages, divested of their context, but by the spirit and scope of the New Testament law, and a careful and prayerful consideration of the facts recorded in it.

I have made a much longer commentary than I intended on the text which I was requested to explain, so I cannot now answer thy other queries. Forgive my prolixity, and believe me, however we may differ, thy assured and

Affectionate friend,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, January 1843b (p67)

1 mo, 12, 1843.

My dear friend,
Though thy silence by no means leads me to infer that my last long letter was a satisfactory one, I feel disposed to proceed to say a word or two on thy other queries while they are fresh in my memory. Happily, on them I have only simple facts to state, and the general practice to report.

Persons of either sex who are impressed with the belief that they are called upon by the impulse of religious duty to speak - in our assemblies, are not in the practice of making any profession to this effect. If, for instance, I can for a moment suppose myself to be thus called upon, I should simply stand up in my usual place in our meeting, and express the few words which I conceived it my duty to utter. It might probably be a simple text of Scripture, without note or comment of any kind super-added: of such an appearance no notice would probably be taken at first, either as encouragement or the contrary; for, while friends cannot consistently with their principles forbid such communication, if made in a reverent and decorous manner, they are careful not hastily to foster, or lay hands on any who make such an appearance. If it be from time to time again repeated, and a few words either of exhortation or encouragement added to the passage so quoted, those in the meeting who fill the station of approved ministers or elders, have a watchful eye on the party: not only what he or she may say, and the spirit in which it seems to be uttered, are attentively observed; but the general life and character of the party, and its consistency with the principles of the Society, are weighed and observed. If all these tend to confirm the judgment that such a person is really acting under the influence of the Spirit, he or she is permitted to exercise the gift for a longer or shorter time of probation, as such an exercise of it may afford the more judicious and solid part of the meeting an opportunity of coming to a decision. If after such probationary exercise the speaker, by increasing power and authority, give satisfactory proof that his ministry is of the true stamp; the meeting of ministers and elders, a select body who have meetings of their own, distinct from the more public ones, recommend to the monthly meeting at large, that such a person be considered as a minister in unity with and approved by the body at large. But I have known such a time of ordeal last for a year or two, before any steps have been taken publicly to recognise him or her as a minister. In fact, I have known cases where such a recognition has never been made, but the speaker has held the rather anomalous station of an allowed or tolerated, but not an approved minister. In such cases, however, the appearances of the speaker have generally been neither long nor frequent, and are rather submitted to by the body from a feeling of kind forbearance toward the parties, who may be supposed to relieve their own minds by such utterance, although they may not edify the body. Still, if they say nothing unsound or unscriptural, and are not often in the practice of speaking, it seems safest and wisest to let them alone. If they become very troublesome, and give evident proof that their supposed gift is spurious, they are first privately dissuaded from making any such appearance in the ministry: if they still continue the practice, an elder, minister, or overseer of the meeting would publicly request them to sit down; but I have rarely known the thing carried so far. Where a gift in the ministry has been considered genuine, and acceptably exercised, the party has mostly continued in that station during life.

I do not see aught in our creed which should render such a continuance stranger among us than others. I know of nothing in the practice or theory of Quakerism which should give rise to the report that we are "called upon to confess our faults one to another" most certainly if aught at all bordering on the "auricular confession" of the Romish Church be implied, I have never heard of any thing of the sort.

If my answers to thy questions are not intelligible, I shall be perfectly willing to make them so, or to try to give thee any further explanation.

Thy assured friend,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Shawe, May 1843 (p69)

The longer I live the more I love and prize Quaker principles. But I am well content to love them without compassing sea and land to make proselytes to them, and would rather be thought in error for holding them, even by those whom I most esteem, than risk any infringement of that perfect law of love which is the essence and substance of religion itself, by disputing about them. Most happily, my dear friend, none of these are primary, vital, and essential truths on them we cordially agree. All who look to the propitiating atonement of Christ, and that alone, for salvation; all who humbly seek for, and strive to live in obedience to, the teachings of the Holy Spirit, as the means of their regeneration and sanctification ; all such, be their name or sect what it may, I look upon as living members of the one truly Catholic Church. They hold allegiance to one Head, and derive their life from one Root.

Bernard Barton to George Williams Fulcher, May 1843 (p124)

5 mo, 31, 1843.

My dear friend,
I am not over-much taken with either thy frontispiece or vignette [Sent to him to rhyme upon, for Mr. Fulcher's Pocket Book] – I mean, as subjects for poetry – for, as architectural drawings, I own they are very pretty. Thou hast very cleverly hinted how they might become matters for rhyme –
"But we, who make no honey, though we sting,
Poets are sometimes apt to maul the thing."
There is somewhat to me bordering on a sad joke in building a splendid Corn Exchange, and surmounting it by figures wielding the sickle or holding the plough, when what is termed the agricultural interest, and those concerned in it, are either ruined or on the brink of being so. Again, of your Town Hall, its antiquity is its sole poetical feature. After the unenviable notoriety your auld town has of late acquired, for what it has witnessed of your election doings, truth to speak, "least said is soonest mended." I think, were I a free burgess, I should prefer its senatorial honours should, for the present, remain unsung.

My daughter requests me to say, with her best regards to Mrs. F. and thyself, that she earnestly hopes thy next will have no blue ink printing in it; for it is a sore trial to the eyesight. I have heard many others make the same complaint. Whig as I am, I could much sooner forgive thee thy blue politics than thy blue ink [Blue is the colour of the Tory party in Suffolk – Yellow, of the Whig.]; the first are no bore to me, for I no more trouble myself about the colour of a man's politics, than about the colour of the coat he may choose to wear; but I would not wish thy Pocket Book to be unreadable while I write poetry for it.

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, October 1843 (p79)

10 mo, 11, 1843.

And now for thy dressing about my pictures, which I own at first took me a little by surprise; for as I am in a great measure thy debtor for the largest picture I have, as well as for one of my favourites among the smaller ones I refer of course to my father's portrait and the Ive-Gill sketch I took it for granted thou wast aware I had such things about me. My printed and published poems, too, contain such frequent passing allusions to works of art, that I took it for granted I could scarcely have a reader who was ignorant how much and how often I have been indebted to their silent prompting for many a descriptive and illustrative image in my poetry. When I first read thy friendly and good-natured lecture, I laughed and said to Lucy, " What a lucky thing it is we did not act on our first impulse about Lily [His correspondent's daughter], and get her down here; the poor dear child would have been perfectly horror-struck to see how our walls are covered. But I will tell Mary the whole length and breadth of my enormities, and describe each and all of my pictures at full length to her." A little reflection, however, led me to doubt if I were justified in doing this. Thy objections to hanging up such things may be as much a matter of conscience with thee as the use of them is with me the result of considerable thought, which gave me, to my own conscience, to regard such use as an allowable liberty. If I looked on such works of art as mere ornaments hung up to gratify the vanity of the possessor, I should cordially join in thy objection to them; but I regard them in a very different light. My limited leisure and my failing bodily strength do not allow of my being the pedestrian I once was. I often do not walk out of the streets for weeks together; but my love of nature, of earth, and sky, and water; of trees, fields, and lanes ; and my still deeper love of the human face divine, is as intense as ever. As a poet, the use of these is as needful to me as my food. I can seldom get out to see the actual and the real; but a vivid transcript of these, combined with some little effort of memory and fancy, makes my little study full of life, peoples its silent walls with nature's cherished charms, and lights up human faces round me dumb, yet eloquent in their human semblance.

Bernard Barton to Mr. Clemisha, November 1843 (p104)

11 mo, 16, 1843.

I am not a little diverted by thy taking-on somewhat about the irksome monotony and confinement of a fortnight’s spell at the desk and figure work, and seeming to thyself like a piece of machinery in consequence. I have really been so unfeeling as to have a hearty laugh about the whole affair. Why, man! I took my seat on the identical stool I now occupy at the desk, to the wood of which I have now well-nigh grown, in the third month of the year 1810; and there I have sat on for three and thirty blessed years, beside the odd eight months, without one month's respite in all that time. I believe I once had a fortnight; and once in about two years, or better, I get a week ; but all my absences put together would not make up the eight odd months. I often wonder that my health has stood this sedentary probation as it has, and that my mental faculties have survived three and thirty years of putting down figures in three rows, casting them up, and carrying them forward ad infinitum. Nor is this all for during that time, I think, I have put forth some half dozen volumes of verse; to say nothing of scores and scores of odd bits of verse contributed to Annuals, Periodicals, Albums, and what not; and a correspondence implying a hundred times the writing of all these put together: where is the wonder that on the verge of sixty I am somewhat of a prematurely old man, with odds and ends of infirmities and ailments about me, which at times are a trial to the spirits and a weariness to the flesh? But all the grumbling in the world would not mend the matter, or help me, so I rub and drive on as well as I can.

Bernard Barton to George Williams Fulcher, January 1844 (p125)

1 mo, 21, 1844.

I have been sad and sick at heart for several weeks, owing to the illness and death of an only and favourite sister; and just as the raw edge of that wound was abating of its first anguish, have another trial to encounter which costs me little less of heart-sorrow. My old and dear friend Dr. L_ , who for eight and thirty years has been a friend sticking closer than a brother – who closed the eyes of my wife, and was one of the first on whom my child's first opened – is about to retire from practice as a physician, and leave Woodbridge to be nearer his only child, now settled in Norwich. I could almost as soon have looked for Woodbridge church to have walked off as he – the idea that he could live elsewhere, or that Woodbridge could go on without him, never once occurred to me. Well might old Johnson say,
"Condemn'd to hope's delusive mine,
As on we toil from day to day,
By sudden blast, or slow decline,
Our social comforts drop away."

I actually begin to draw comfort from the thought that we too must, ere long, drop away too. I seem daily to have less to cling to.

Bernard Barton to Mr. Clemisha, June 1844 (p105)

6 mo, 13, 1844.

I am not over-fond of polemicals; they are almost as bad as galenicals. How our tastes alter with added years and enlarged experience! I was once an eager disputant about matter and spirit, free-will and necessity, Unitarianism and Trinitarianism, and almost all other isms ; and was in a fair way of becoming a sceptic. Happily I found out, I hope in time to avert such a catastrophe, that a man never stands so fair a chance of making a fool of himself as he does when he begins to fancy himself wiser than all around him. It is no uncommon thing to find a man overtaken in liquor taking vast pains to convince you he is perfectly sober; I require no further confirmation of his being drunk, or verging that way; for a man who is sober, seldom, if ever, takes the trouble to prove the fact. In like manner, if I meet any one who gives himself airs for having enlarged views, liberal principles, and freedom from all the vulgar prejudices by which common minds are enslaved, I have a lurking distrust that he is, without knowing it, a narrow-minded bigot, and very likely to have taken up worse prejudices than those which he has been trying to shake off.

Bernard Barton to Mary W_, July 1844 (p111)

Aldeburgh, 7 mo, 19, 1844.

My dear friend,
This is our nearest Suffolk watering-place; and having had to fag harder than usual of late, I determined yesterday to enjoy a quiet Sabbath by the sea. So I have persuaded Tills to drive me down. We have no Quakerly meeting-house here, and, having come down for the express purpose of inhaling the sea-breezes, I have resolved on getting all I can of them. Tills is gone to church, and has left me alone in a delightful room, from the window of which I could throw a stone into the German Ocean. I have therefore set the window open, drawn the table close up to it, and have been seated for the last half-hour, lulled by the ripple of the waves on the beach, and drawing in at every breath, I hope, some renewal of health and spirits for the desk-work of the next fortnight.

Bernard Barton to George Williams Fulcher, August 1844 (p126)

[On returning to Mr. Fulcher the proof of some verses for the Pocket Book.]

8 mo, 9, 1844.

Dear F.,
With the exception of one trifling error in the last piece, where the letter n has been put instead of u, I see not but that thy typographical bill of fare, now returned, is faultless. I hope they will not follow in thy pages seriatim as they stand on this portentous ballad-looking strip of paper, or thy readers will think there is no end of me. Sprinkled about, with other folk's rhymes filling up the "interstices between the intersections," as old Johnson said of network, they may pass. But I had no notion I had sent thee such a lot. I have had the curiosity to measure the length of my contribution, and find it is a good two feet; besides which, I sent thee "Glemham Hall" and some enigmatical rhyme. So I must have supplied thee with an honest yard of poetry. A fact, I think, worthy of being recorded on my tomb-stone, if I should ever have one; which, as I am a Quaker, is questionable.

I told thee when I got that cheque of thee to help me to the Constable landscape, that I would work it out. If a whole yard of rhyme has not cleared off that score and left a trifle for a nest egg, I can only say, the more the shame and the greater the pity. But I was bent on making my last appearance in thy P. B. with some eclat, for I think it grows time for me to make my bow and retire from the vain and unprofitable vocation. No man can go on scribbling verse for ever, and not weary out his readers or himself. I begin to feel somewhat of the latter symptoms; I think it very likely thy readers may have gotten the start of me. Any how, I think I have earned a furlough for a few years to come; so I give thee fair notice, not to calculate on my appearing on parade when the drum beats again. I shall not feel the less cordial interest in thy pretty little annual, or recommend it the less heartily; but I appeal to thee candidly and fearlessly, if three full apprenticeships ought not to entitle me to make my bow and leave the field honourably. Our intercourse, in a friendly way, will not, I hope, be in any degree affected by this I should be very sorry indeed it were. Give my kindest regards to Mrs. F., and believe me, my old friend,

Ever affectionately,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Maria C_, September 1844 (p116)

Woodbridge, 9 mo, 4, 1844.

Dear Maria,
Does not this "look like business?" as Constable's men said to my artist friend, when he set up his easel behind Flatford Mill, to paint Willy Lett's house. I have hardly started thee from our gate, when I am in my cabin writing a letter, or letteret, to greet thee at the morrow's breakfast table. What I shall find to put into it, I will not now stop to ask myself. First and foremost, Lucy and the monkey [a pet niece] send all sorts of kind and cordial greetings, which they say must be specially welcome after the absence of a whole night. Secondly, we are all of us charmed with your flying visit, and should have been still more charmed had it been a less flying one, for the whole thing was such a whirl, there was not time to group you in tableaux, far less to study or contemplate you individually; it was for all the world like a peep into a kaleidoscope, before the component items have shaped themselves into any symmetrical whole; and so you keep flitting before my vision at this moment. Grandmamma prominent one minute, then those Tivetshall girls, then Libby and thee. Then come Samuel and the Etonian, and Miss B_ bringing up the rear. It was certainly a thing to be thankful for, to get such a group together, even to have a glimpse of, but one can hardly help regretting it was for a glimpse only. Old proverbs, 'tis true, say somewhat of welcoming the coming and speeding the parting guest. But the latter was scarcely necessary when guests speed themselves off so rapidly. However, I will not grumble, but try and be most thankful for the moment you did give us.

Bernard Barton to Maria C_, October 1844 (p115)

10 mo, 17, 1844.

I go out so rarely that I am in a state of bewilderment on such occasions, and seem to myself to be as one walking in a dream. It can therefore hardly be strange that I should have lost thy letter, having at that period lost myself. – Don't think it any mark of disrespect to thyself, for had I been favoured with one from the queen of Sheba, on the theory of Mrs. Elizabeth Howe's "Letters from the Dead to the Living, " it would in all likelihood have fared no better. How should a man be a safe keeper of anything, when, a change of locality having clean taken him out of himself, he is no longer, in fact, himself. I have been home two days, but I am not myself yet. It will take a good fortnight ere I shall fully regain my personal identity. I keep picking up, in lucid intervals, first one and then another of the disjuncta membra of my old self – as children put together a dissected puzzle, which they have a vague memory of having put together before. But enough of this confused babble.

Bernard Barton to Miss Betham, April 1845 (p128)

4 mo, 7, 1845.

L. is gone to a concert, and, truth to tell, I was sorely tempted to go myself: but it was to be performed at the theatre – rather an un-Quakerish locality; and, as J_ and A_, though tempted like myself, seemed to think it would not do for them to go, I, who have less music in my ear, though I flatter myself I have some in my soul, could not with decent propriety be the only Quaker there. But I had a vast curiosity to go; for it is not an ordinary concert, but performed on certain pieces of rock, hewn out of Skiddaw, which, struck with some metal instrument, emit sounds of most exquisite sweetness. We have heard of sermons from stones, but I never dreamt of going there for music; but we live in a wondrous age for inventions of all sorts: so I, for one, by no means despair of seeing a silken purse made out of a sow's ear, in defiance of the proverbial wisdom of our ancestors.

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, September 1845 (p133)

[This George Crabbe was the son of the poet George Crabbe]

9 mo, 1, 1845.

Many years ago I wrote some verses for a Child's Annual, to accompany a print of Doddridge's mother teaching him Bible History from the Dutch tiles round their fire-place. I had clean forgotten both the print and my verses; but some one has sent me a child's penny cotton handkerchief, on which I find a transcript of that identical print, and four of my stanzas printed under it. This handkerchief celebrity tickles me somewhat. Talk of fame! is not this a fame which comes home, not only to "men's business and bosoms" but to children's noses, into the bargain! Tom Churchyard [see also here] calls it an indignity, an insult, looks scorny [a Suffolkcism] at it; and says he would cuff any urchin whom he caught blowing his nose on one of his sketches! All this arises from his not knowing the complicated nature and texture of all worldly fame. 'T is like the image the Babylonish king dreamt of with its golden head, baser metal lower down, and miry clay for the feet. It will not do to be fastidious; you must take the idol as it is; its gold sconce, if you can get it ; if not, take the clay feet, or one toe of another foot, and be thankful, and make what you can of it. I write verse to be read! it is a matter of comparative indifference to me whether I am read from a fine-bound book, on a drawing-room table, or spelt over from a penny rag of a kerchief by the child of a peasant or a weaver. So, honour to the cotton printer, say I, whoever he be; that bit of rag is my patent as a household poet.

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, September 1845b (p134)

9 mo, 1, 1845.

My dear friend,
Here goes for my second letter to thee this blessed day. If that a'nt being a letter-ary character I should like to know what is. Some folks make a great fuss about writing letters; they pretend to say they can't write a letter; they never know what to say; yet they can talk, an hour by the clock! as if there were any more difficulty in talking on paper than in a noisier lingo. I never could understand the difference. Not that I should prefer epistolizing with a friend to having him tête-à-tête; but no one can carry his friends about with him; and when you are two miles apart you can no more hope to make a friend hear you, than if you were twenty or two hundred. Then talking on paper seems to me just as natural and easy as talking with your tongue; and so it would be to every one else, if they did not think it necessary to write fine letters, and say something smart or striking. This lies at the bottom of it. A man cares little, by comparison, what he blurts out, viva voce, he thinks he may say a silly thing with impunity, it can't stand on record against him; but when he gets a pen in his hand, he fancies, forsooth, he has a character to win, or to keep, for being eloquent, witty, or profound; the natural result is, he writes a stupid, unnatural letter; then says he hates letter-writing, and wonders how any body can like it. Women, who act more on impulse than we do, and make fewer metaphysical distinctions, and are less conceited, though they may have a pretty sprinkling of vanity, beat us out and out at letter-writing. A letter with a woman, if she be good for any thing, is an affair of the heart rather than the head, so they put more heart into their letters.

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, September 1845c (p135)

9 mo, 5, 1845.
I am inclined to think I did not go far enough in my position that it is as easy to write as to talk. I have a great notion it is much easier, at least I find I can always give utterance to my own thoughts and feelings with more readiness, ease, and fluency, on paper than orally – and I cannot conceive why others should not. In company, conversation may be going on all round you, and your attention is apt to be divided and distracted – even in a tête-à-tête you must have two duties to perform, that of listener, as well as speaker, and in your desire not to engross more than your share of the talk, you are not unlikely to get less. In viva voce converse too, how often it happens that you cannot think of the very thing you most wanted to say. Many a time, after a long and moody discussion of a topic with a friend about a subject on which we took opposite views, I have called to mind, when too late to be of any use to me, some pithy argument which would have blown all his to atoms, and which I should have been almost sure to have had at my fingers' ends had I been quietly arguing the matter on paper in my own study.

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, January 1846 (p81)

1 mo, 16, 1846.

I am about to try thy faith, love, and charity to an hair's breadth, by sending thee a little print of the interior of my study with its pictures on the walls, and its crucifix on the mantel-piece. What would our friend Smeal [Editor of the " British Friend," who reprobated Mr. Barton for using the word "November" in poetry, &c.] say to such a delineation of the interior of the crib in which I spend what little of leisure I can get from desk work? I dare say it would confirm his worst suspicions of me. Well, there it is, and there is a figure in it meant to indicate me; but about as much like Robinson Crusoe, as it is like me. * * * But the crucifix -- well, my dear friend, the crucifix -- * * * It was brought from Germany, I think, by a friend of mine, and placed where it now stands, by his wife, (a true Protestant,) in my absence, the day before they left Woodbridge, as a parting memorial; and I have simply allowed it to stand there ever since, now, I think, three years! It has called forth, frequently, a kind thought of the giver; now and then I hope not an unkind one of our erring fellow Christians who mistake the use of such emblems; and if it have occasionally reminded me of the one great propitiatory sacrifice for sin and transgression that I hope is a thought to be reverently cherished, even if suggested by what some may superstitiously regard. Such, my dear friend, is the history of my little crucifix. Fare thee well, and try to think of it and me with charity.

Bernard Barton to Rev. Charles B. Tayler, February 1846 (p49)

2 mo, 23 1846.

Dear Charles,
I took up by mere accident the other evening thy two volumes of "May you Like it," given me by thee, as they respectively appeared many years ago; and I laid them down not until I had fairly read them through. The Tales themselves, and thy handwriting in the title-page of each, sent my thoughts back to long by-gone years, and to old places unvisited by me now for many a day; pleasant companions now in their graves, or far dispersed; and a few social parties whom I can never hope again to fall in with. I wonder if any days of lang syne at Hadleigh ever recur to thee, as they have done to me within the last three days. The cheerful, benevolent Doctor Drake, his lady, and Mary; the blind aged mother of Mrs. D. Rose, I think her name was. Then, too, a glimmering recollection of the somewhat pompous, but good-tempered in the main, Dr. Drummond, recurs to me our morning visit to his study, or library, whichever he called it, in the room over the gateway. I do not know why, but I always fancied Dr. Johnson's Ashbourne friend, Taylor, might have been a sort of double of our friend the Hadleigh Rector only, I think the Ashbourne Doctor wore a reverend wig; and I have a clear recollection of our friend's bald forehead. Then I have a reminiscence of a morning call on thy mother and sisters, and seeing the first tuberose I ever saw, in your parlour; and did we not make a large tea-party there, filling every nook and cranny of the room? and did not A play and sing to us? or is it all a dream? But it was no dream, that walk of ours to Aldham and our poring over that old stone at the foot of the obelisk, with its rude inscription. Another ramble, too, over some heathy or furzy hill, where we looked down on "Hadley in the Hole," and traced the windings of that brooklet, called by courtesy a river the Brett, or Breta, I forget which they called it. If my memory err not, little Clarke (Bran white) was with us on that occasion he whom the Eclectic Review maliciously wrote of when they said they did not dispute his right to the title of M. A., the art of poetry only being excepted. But he wrote pleasing verse despite their cavils.

Well, my dear Charles, I have now given vent to some of the thoughts and feelings those two little tomes have called up; if they dwell with thee as with me I speak of my poor "shadowy recollections," as the Daddy [A playful name for Wordsworth among some of B. B.'s friends.] calls them -- thou wilt more than forgive their revival. Dear love to A. and thyself.

Thine affectionately,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, May 1846 (p136)

5 mo, 14, 1846.

I ran down on the Sabbath to thy father's old borough, over those glorious heaths, now decked in gorgeous golden livery, and rich in perfume as any pinery. I gulped down all the sea air I could in a long stroll on the beach, walking twice over from Slaughden quay to Vernon's, between the time of leaving a conventicle I went to and dinner; besides one stroll on the terrace; and came back all the better, bodily to a certainty, and I hope none the worse, spiritually. I don't think I derived much edification from the service at the chapel, for the usual minister, a very decent sort of body, whom I had heard before, and went there partly to hear again, was out, and his place was supplied by an honest, well-meaning Wesleyan, an out-and-out teetotaller, who lugged in some queer statistics about alcohol and its ill effects, which I thought a little out of place. But I dare say the good man thought it his duty. One item in his long prayer, before the sermon, was novel to me; it had an especial clause in it, "for all inmates of madhouses, and Lunatic Asylums!" To the best of my recollection I never before heard these poor unfortunates especially prayed for, in any Christian congregation, whether of the Establishment or of any other sect. You have, to be sure, a saving clause in one of yours, where you pray, if I remember aright, for "all sorts and conditions of men," which of course must include lunatics; but the express reference was new to me; and I felt no disposition to quarrel with it; so if the good man put somewhat into his sermon I could have dispensed with, he brought also somewhat into his prayer that partly made amends for it. I think it possible the worthy Wesleyan had come to the conclusion that nine-tenths of maniacs had been rendered such by strong drink; and therefore, as a teetotaller, he more especially felt bound to make compassionate mention of them; if so, it was all the more to the credit of his Christian charity.

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, May 1846b (p137)

5 mo, 30, 1846. Seventh day evening.

Dear C.,
If to-morrow be as fine as to-day has been, I may be tempted to stroll over to thine to dinner, assuming thy dinner hour to be five o'clock I think by starting at three, or perhaps two, I may perform that feat of pedestrianism in the two, or at most three, hours. Do not exult over me on thy more Herculean powers of bone, sinew, or muscle! recollect,

"My eyes, my feet, begin to fail,
My pace would scarce outstrip the snail."

Nor does it greatly, when I walk alone. For every stile I come to I am sure to find, or fancy, my nose is hungry, as well as my feet weary, and I can feed the one and rest the other best by sitting on the top of said stile. Once seated, I am often in no hurry to rise again especially if I chance to have a book in my pocket. So that I am not sure that an hour, or even one and a half, is an unreasonable allowance to a mile, but with a friend I can occasionally go beyond this.

Do not however be too sure that I shall be as resolute to-morrow as I feel inclined to be this evening. From the plotting of such an effort to its performance is a wide step, wider than I may fancy myself equal on the morrow to accomplish: but this may serve to notify that the thing was in my heart to be done; and charitably give me credit for the goodness of my intention, rather than wrathfully vituperate me for failing therein. Old Johnson once said of some friend of his – "I am not sure, sir, that he has seen the inside of a church these seven years ; but he never passes one, or goes through a churchyard, without taking off his hat; and that shows good principles." In like manner, though I rarely walk to Bredfield, I often think of it, and wish myself there, and half resolve on walking there – all which shows my friendly regard for the place, and my love for those who dwell there. Make what thou canst of this.

Thine ever,

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, August 1846 (p82)

[Referring to an order he had sent to Carlisle to repair his grand-father's tomb, as related in another letter.]

8 mo, 15, 1846.

Perhaps our good friend demurs as to the propriety of a Quaker poet having aught to do with church grave-stones. On this point, however, should such be his idea, he is mistaken. I could wish grave-stones were allowed in our own burial-grounds, a discretionary power being vested in proper quarters as to what is allowed to be put on them. Confine it, and welcome, to name, date, and age; rigidly interdict all flattery and folly. But I own it would feel pleasant to me to know the precise spot where those I have loved lay. I never feel quite sure which is my Lucy's [His wife's] grave out of the family row. That I might have no doubt which was my mother Jesup's, I planted a tree at the foot of it, which is now three times my own height.

[BB must have got his way, for he was buried with a gravestone in the Quaker burial ground off Turn Lane in Woodbridge, Suffolk, though it was indeed a modest affair.]

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, August 1846 (p139)

8 mo, 20, 1846.

My dear friend,
I was going to begin "My dear old Friend," for I have sometimes hard work to convince myself that our acquaintance is only of few years' standing. There are natures so intrenched in all sorts of artificial outworks, each of which must be deliberately carried by siege ere you can get at what there is of nature in them, that you had need know them, in conventional phraseology, half or a quarter of a life, ere you know aught about them. There are others whom, by a sort of instinctive free-masonry, you seem old friends with at once. The value of the acquisition depends not always on the time and labour it costs to make it – it is very often clean the contrary; for it by no means unfrequently turns out, that what has cost you much time and pains to get at is worth little when obtained. I speak not of principles or truths, which you must find out for yourself, and this must often be a slow process; but I am talking of those who profess them, and these, methinks, ought to be more promptly discernible and discoverable. Man would not be such a riddle to man, did not too many of us wear masks, and intrench ourselves in all sorts of conventionalities and formalities. I do not think there is much of these in either of us; and that, I take it, is the reason why we have got all the more readily at each other. Enough, however, of this long introduction, which I have blundered into without design or malice aforethought.

I am glad to hear of thy having had so pleasant a visit at Beccles – we must talk it over one of these days. The days are perceptibly shortening, and longer evenings will drive us to have fires we will get over one for a Beccles palaver. I am well pleased, too, thou hast found that "Sun-dew," as thy heart was set upon it. "All have their hobbies." Flowers, wild or cultivated, do not chance to be mine; but there is no reason why they should not be thine. So I repeat that I am well pleased thou shouldst have found thy coy pet. I saw naught of the Regatta; but I saw as much of it as I have seen of any one of its precursors, for I never yet went over the threshold on any one of our Regatta days ; so, as none of the boats or yachts will sail by our bank windows,* [* Which are some way inland] I have never yet seen one of them – I mean on these days of their especial display.

As I have but imperfect sympathies with thee on wild-flowers, I cannot with any decent show of reason challenge thy cordial ones with me about pets of my own. But I have within a fortnight or so made a curious discovery, which has interested me a good deal. My father was a Carlisle body, but left the "north countrie" ere I was born; my two elder sisters were born at Carlisle, but left it when mere children; so their recollections never let me into the light of my progenitors. My father died ere I was seven years old, having married a second wife near London, and I grew up as part of her family rather than my own. I have heard my elder sister say I was named after my grandfather, who was a manufacturer, I suspect on a small scale, at Carlisle. He carried a head on his shoulders, though, that manufacturing body; for he invented a curious piece of machinery, long since forgotten, but a sort of wonder in its day; for it won him a gold medal from some society in London. This is about all I ever knew of him until within about a fortnight, when I had a letter from a far-away cousin of mine at Carlisle, to congratulate me on my pension; and to ask in return my condolence on having lost a brother. The writer then adds "Our burial-place is at St. Cuthbert's churchyard, in this city (Carlisle), where also are interred your grandfather and grandmother, but the stone is much fallen into decay." I wrote directly to learn further particulars, and have got the following copy of the inscription on the stone:

WHO DIED JAN. 6TH, 1773;
MAY 20TH, 1786; AGED 54 YEARS.

Here 's a pretty chapter of one's family history to have been cut on stone some scores of years agone, and only now to have dawned on me. How that old mouldering tumble-down gravestone has peopled the past for me, and introduced me in fancy to a set of people I had not before dreamt of – "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh." The first thought which struck me on reading it was the comparative youthfulness of my grandparents. One naturally fancies one's grandfather and grandmother to have been old folk. Why, I am already near a score years older than my venerable namesake; and his widow, after surviving him thirteen years, was considerably my junior. My father, I think, died under forty, so I have no claim to longevity by right of descent. Then only to think of those five uncles of mine, or uncle-ets, rather, for they grew not up to mature uncle-hood. Had they all lived, wedded, and had families, what a Bartonian host we should or might have been! I have, as thou wilt conclude, sent to beg the old stone may be cleaned and renovated, and set upright again; for it is vastly out of the perpendicular; and but for my having thus accidentally heard of it, would probably have fallen down, and been carried off to serve as a door-step, or to assist in the pavement of some pig-stye, mayhap.

"To such vile uses may we come at last"

My brother, to whom I wrote directly I heard of this humble memorial, feels as much interested as I do about it, and has given me carte blanche for the defraying any costs or charges such renovation and re-erection may involve. If the old stone will stand it, I mean to have cut on the reverse side –


So much for my grand-dad and grandame; and now, peace to their memories. But is it not curious that the knowledge of such a relic should have dawned on one seventy-three years after its erection, all along of Sir Robert's giving me a pension?

We purpose having a cold set-out – some folks call the thing a collation, others, a collection, throughout all the middle portion of this day week – in the discussion of which I hope thyself, and any, or all, thy family will assist, at whatever hour best suits you and the doings of the day [The consecrating a new church at Woodbridge]. Tell Master George, as a younger pillar of the Church, I rely on his presence, and let us know at what time we may hope for the pleasure of your company. And now, having bothered and bored thee enough in all conscience, I take my leave.

Thine affectionately,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, September 1846 (p83)

9 mo, 12, 1846.

And now, my dear old friend of above twenty years' standing, I have two points on which I must try to right myself in thy good opinion the swansdown waistcoat, and the bell, with the somewhat unquakerly inscription of "Mr. Barton's bell" graven above the handle thereof. I could not well suppress a smile at both counts of the indictment, for both are true to a certain extent, though I do not know that I should feel at all bound to plead guilty to either in a criminal one. It is true that prior to my birthday, now nearly two years ago, my daughter, without consulting me, did work for me, in worsted work, as they do now-a-days for slippers, a piece of sempstress-ship or needle-craft, forming the forepart of a waistcoat ; the pattern of which, being rather larger than I should have chosen, had choice been allowed me, gave it some semblance of the striped or flowered waist-coats which for aught I know may be designated as swansdown; but the colours, drab and chocolate, were so very sober, that I put it on as I found it, thinking no evil, and wore it, first and week-days, all last winter, and may probably through the coming one, at least on week-days. It is cut in my wonted single-breasted fashion; and as my collarless coat, coming pretty forward, allows no great display of it, I had not heard before a word of scandal, or even censure on its unfriendliness. Considering who worked it for me, I am not sure had the royal arms been worked thereon, if in such sober colours, but I might have worn it, and thought it less fine and less fashionable than the velvet and silk ones which I have seen, ere now, in our galleries, and worn by Friends of high standing and undoubted orthodoxy. But I attach comparatively little importance to dress, while there is enough left in the tout ensemble of the costume to give ample evidence that the wearer is a Quaker. So much for the waistcoat; now for the bell! I live in the back part of the Bank premises, and the approach to the yard leading to my habitat, is by a gate, opening out of the principal street or thoroughfare through our town. The same gate serving for an approach to my cousin's kitchen door, to a large bar-iron warehouse in the same yard, and I know not what beside. Under these circumstances some notification was thought needful to mark the bell appertaining to our domicile, though I suppose nearly a hundred yards off, and the bell-hanger, without any consultation with me, and without my knowledge, had put these words over the handle of the bell, in a recess or hole in the wall by the gate-side, and they had stood there unnoticed and unobserved by me for weeks, if not months, before I ever saw them. When aware of their being there, having had no concern whatever in their being put there, having given no directions for their inscription, and not having to pay for them, I quietly let them stand; and, until thy letter reached me, I have never heard one word of comment on said inscription as an unquakerly one, for I believe it is well known among all our neighbours that the job of making two houses out of one was done by contract with artisans not of us, who executed their commission according to usual custom, without taking our phraseology into account. Such, my good friend, are the simple facts of the two cases.

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, September 1846b (p85)

9 mo, 24, 1846.

* * * I shall not be in any danger of quarrelling with thee for thy kind and well-meant wishes and efforts to keep me, as far as in thee lies, in the simplicity of the truth, but I doubt whether, without more putter and bother than the thing is worth, the unlucky "Mr." can well be obliterated. The very idea of its being a title of flattery, so used, had not occurred to me, so I certainly had not felt flattered by it. But if ever the bell handle, or plate connected with it, should have to be repaired, a casualty which the jerks of idle runaways may realize during our winter evenings, I promise thee I will have the obnoxious letters removed for thy sake.

Bernard Barton to Jane B_, February 1847 (p132)

2 mo, 15, 1847.

Dear Jane,
I am too late to send thee a Valentine; but we are both old enough to have done "wi’ sic frivolities," as Grizel Oldbuck said – so that matters little. I send thee a copy of my little tribute to the memory of John Joseph Gurney. It's a small matter; but I have taken no small pains to make it as worthy of its subject as my scant leisure and declining ability would permit. In fact, I have bestowed more pains on this sheet and a half, than on a volume in my better days – a sad proof how near I draw to my dotage. But I found this poor tiny effort was expected of me, both by those within and those without our pale; so I resolved not to shirk it, little as I felt equal to doing justice to such a theme. I have a notion it will be more kindly taken (as a general result) out than in; for some of our good Friends, who have no hearty liking to poetry or poets, will liken me to him of old, who put forth an unbidden – ergo, an unhallowed hand on the ark of old. From thee, dear Jane, I hope for a more charitable verdict: but I look for it with some anxiety, as thou hast much of the better part of poetry and Quakerism too in thee, and none can judge better of any attempt to combine the two without wrong to either.

Thine affectionately,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to William Bodham Donne, June 1847 (p73)

Woodbridge, 6 mo 25, 1847.

My Dear Donne,
I send thee the annexed little tribute, [A Memorial to T. H.] not to challenge any laud for its poetical merits, nor because the character it commemorates had much of what scholars and critics would call poetical in his composition, but simply because his had the elements, the material of such in my eye. He was a hearty old yeoman of about eighty-six -- had occupied the farm in which he lived and died about fifty-five years. Social, hospitable, friendly; a liberal master to his labourers, a kind neighbour, and a right merry companion "within the limits of becoming mirth." In politics, a staunch Whig; in his theological creed, as sturdy a Dissenter; yet with no more party spirit in him than a child. He and I belonged to the same book club for about forty years. He entered it about fifteen years before I came into these parts, and was really a pillar in our literary temple. Not that he greatly cared about books, or was deeply read in them, but he loved to meet his neighbours, and get them round him, on any occasion, or no occasion at all. As a fine specimen of the true English yeoman, I have met few to equal, hardly any to surpass him, and he looked the character as well as he acted it, till within a very few years, when the strong man was bowed by bodily infirmity. About twenty-six years ago, in his dress costume of a blue coat and yellow buckskins, a finer sample of John Bullism you would rarely see. It was the whole study of his long life to make the few who revolved round him in his little orbit, as happy as he always seemed to be himself; yet I was gravely queried with, when I happened to say that his children had asked me to write a few lines to his memory, whether I could do this in keeping with the general tone of my poetry. The speaker doubted if he was a decidedly pious character. He had at times, in his altitudes, been known to vociferate at the top of his voice, a song of which the chorus was certainly not teetotalish -- “Sing old Rose and burn the bellows, / Drink and drive dull care away."

I would not deny the vocal impeachment, for I had heard him sing the song myself, though not for the last dozenyears. As for his being or not being a decidedly pious character, that depended partly on who might be called on to decide the question. He was not a man of much profession, but he was a most diligent attender of his place of worship, a frequent and I believe a serious reader of his Bible, and kept an orderly and well-regulated house. In his blither moods I certainly have heard him sing that questionable ditty before referred to, but, as it appeared to me, not under vinous excitement so much as from an unforced hilarity which habitually found vent in that explosion; and I think he never in my presence volunteered that song. It was pretty sure to be asked for once in a while, by some who liked to hear themselves join in the chorus. I believe it was his only one, with the exception of Watts's hymns, which he almost knew by heart, and sang on Sunday, at meeting, with equal fervour and unction. Take the good old man for all in all, I look not to see his like again, for the breed is going out, I fear. His fine spirit of humanity was better, methinks, than much of that which apes the tone and assumes the form of divinity. So now I think I have told thee enough to weary thee, in prose, as well as verse, of my old neighbour and friend the Suffolk yeoman.

Thine truly,
B. B.

Bernard Barton to William Bodham Donne, June 1847b (p75)

6 mo, 12, 1847.

My dear Donne,
I have never heard of, or from thee, since I wrote thee my thanks for cutting up some verses I sent thee as a sort of requiem for a near and dear friend of mine; and I really think the readiness with which I submitted to thy critical dissection on that occasion ought to have elicited thy special commendation; considering that from the time of the appeal made by those two mothers to Solomon, few, if any, parents have been found willing to submit their offspring to such an operation. But I can forgive thy sins of commission sooner than thy sins of omission.

Bernard Barton to Mary Sutton, October 1847 (p85)

10 mo, 23, 1847.

Tupper and his Proverbial Philosophy are old familiar acquaintance of mine. There is good stuff in the book, but it strikes me as too wordy and inflated in its diction; and is of a non-descript class in literature neither prose nor poetry. Thou wilt say, perhaps, the same objection applies to our old favourite, "The Economy of Human Life;" but that, though Oriental in its style, like the language of the Old Testament, affects much less of the rhythm and flow of verse. Besides, I have a notion though I have not seen it now for many years, it was originally put forth as a pretended ancient MS., which may be an excuse for its pomp of phrase. Yet even Dodsley is far less inflated than Tupper. But compare either with the phraseology of Scripture, of which both are to a certain extent imitations, and their artificiality is very striking. The longer I live, Mary, the more I love a simple and natural tone of expression, and the more I eschew all sorts of Babylonish dialects. Tupper does better to dip into, and shines in quotation; but, like all artificial writers, is apt to become wearisome if long dwelt on.

Thou hast inquired of me whether my views on Baptism and the Supper are at all changed or modified by the precept or example of any of our seceding Friends. Not a whit. In my view, any trust or reliance in the merely ceremonial rite of Water Baptism is so completely a being brought into bondage to the beggarly elements, as to be incompatible with the glorious liberty and entire spirituality of the Gospel dispensation. Touching what is called the Sacrament, or Ordinance, of the Supper, though I am surprised that any who might have been hoped to have been made living partakers, spiritual communicants, of its substance and reality, should deem its outward literal observance obligatory; yet when I look at the direct command given by our Lord to his immediate followers "This do in remembrance of me;" and when I consider that the early Christians, in some form or other, did so observe it; I can quite understand the view taken of the institution by the great body of our Christian brethren; I can, I hope, appreciate the feeling with which it is often administered and received; nor do I doubt, as a means of grace, it may be blessed in its use to many pious and devout communicants. So far I can go. But I do not the less firmly believe that our early Friends were rightly led and guided when they decided on its disuse as an essential article of faith, or a necessary part of Christian practice. The fearful liability to abuse; the extreme danger of its degenerating into a mere form; the endless and unprofitable disputations to which the mode and manner of its observance have given rise; the mere fallacious and groundless trust which its mere outward participation is apt to engender in thoughtless and ignorant minds ; all these considerations are conclusive with me that it was part of a day, and dispensations of “meats and drinks, and divers washings,” shadowy rites, and typical observances, out of which our devout and godly forefathers were called to a more pure and simple and spiritual faith and practice: and thus believing, I think they did well and wisely in rejecting it as binding on us.

Touching thy question of membership by birth-right; while I admit the objections to it are plausible, still more serious ones present themselves, in my view, to a departure from our present rule. The seceders, if I understand their objections aright, state that birthright conferring membership is one cause why many of our Society grow up in a sort of traditional faith, believing they hardly know what or why. In by-gone days there might be much truth in this ; at least, to a certain extent, I believe it was the case in many instances ; but in the present age of discussion and controversy, except in a very few cases, where Friends are very remotely secluded from general intercourse, this can scarcely be the case. Very few of our young Friends can be ignorant of the conflict of opinion which has been called forth, and still fewer I think could be found who must not, in some way or other, have been put upon inquiring and thinking for themselves. The objections to considering none as members who have not attained an age warranting an application from them on the ground of real conviction to be received as such, strike me as serious and formidable. It must, as far as I see aught of its practical working, put all our young people out of the pale of our discipline; for what valid right or plausible plea could we have to extend admonition, or exercise a vigilant and affectionate oversight with respect to parties not in membership, consequently hardly amenable to the rules of a Society to which they had not yet joined themselves? This step, as it appears to me, must set our younger Friends free from all restraint, save that of parental or preceptoral authority and affection; very good and very excellent in themselves, I own, but often requiring sympathy and aid from all available means. Where parents and preceptors were themselves indifferent to the testimonies held by Friends, in their own case, is it at all likely they would enforce, I mean by persuasion, their observance, on the part of those intrusted to their charge? As we are now situated, supposing our young people to incline to go to balls, concerts, plays, &c., even where their parents are by no means strict Friends, the thing is not often attempted, because such or such a one would hear of it, and it is hardly worth the fuss which would be made about it. Mind, I am not saying this is like a renunciation of the same gratification on principle; but it may, for a brief and critical period of life, so far answer a good end that a young person shall be kept out of the way of much that might contaminate, and could not profit: with riper years the temptation to such gratifications may be weaker, more serious thoughts may have been awakened, better feelings called into action. But, not to confine our view to indulgences which sober and serious Christians of other denominations often deny themselves on religious principle, let us look further. As matters now stand, our young folks being all members, none of them could on the mere impulse of a sensibility very common to youth be led to a participation in the ordinances now represented as so essential, without the case being brought under notice. But what imaginable right could Friends as a Society have to interdict a participation in such rites to persons not within its own pale, and owing no allegiance, positive or even implied, to our laws and testimonies? Would not the ready and natural answer of a young person if spoken to under such circumstances be, “I am not a member; of course I commit no sort of inconsistency, nor can I infringe a law to which I am in no way subject.“

When I consider the extremely plausible light in which it is easy to set both Baptism and the Supper, as essential rites, and especially enjoined: this too perhaps to the young, ardent, and susceptible, first awakened to serious thought and reflection : I cannot think it prudent, nor do I think we are called on, to relax any of the rules of our discipline during a period when I believe their influence is most salutary. I would not for one moment forbid the use of these rites to any who have attained an age to enable them to decide on their essentiality if they then deem them imperative, let them by all means act on that conviction. But let us not expose the minds of mere children to be prematurely tampered with, and drawn away from our own simple and spiritual faith if we hold that faith in earnest and honest sincerity ourselves. Such are a few of my thoughts on the subject thou hast proposed: I have not time to dress them up in good set terms, or to enforce them by half the arguments which I think would fully justify and support them.

I must either have expressed myself ill, or thou must have misunderstood me, or made the remark in thine from memory, if the passage which struck thee in mine of there being very little difference between our seceding Friends and us, be really of my penning. I might say that I felt quite unable to define what the belief or doctrine of our seceders were; or to what extent they differ from us, except as to what they term ordinances. But a difference on this point alone, is not in my view a little one. I have no sort of controversy with the good and the pious of other sects who have always thought it their duty to participate in such rites; I have no desire to dispute with those who, amongst us, thinking such things to be essential, quietly leave us and join in religious profession with those who practise them. But I have an abiding, and for aught I can see, an interminable controversy with those who would still hold their membership with us by forcing on us the observance of these rites, and mixing them up with our simpler and spiritual creed as part and parcel of a new-fangled system which they are pleased to call Evangelical Quakerism. I get puzzled and bewildered among these nondescript novelties ; a sprinkling, or water-sprinkled, sacrament-taking Quaker is a sort of incongruous medley I can neither classify nor understand. Of their peculiar doctrines on other topics, how far they hold the exclusive dogmas of Calvin, I know not, nor do I care much to agitate such questions; of the universality of the offer of Divine grace to all, I cannot doubt with the Bible before me; and to suppose it offered where it has from eternity been immutably decreed it could not or would not be accepted, seems to my poor head and heart incompatible with Divine truth and goodness. But I have no wish, at fifty-four, to bother myself with splitting straws. "The mighty mystery of the atonement I desire to accept with humble and grateful reverence, to lay hold on the promises held out to me as a sinner, in the propitiatory sacrifice of the Redeemer, to believe his own gracious promise that ‘whoso cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.’" And with the conviction of these blessed truths, I would not less desire to unite a firm and unshaken faith in the offices and agency of the Holy Spirit, its immediate teaching and guidance, its consolations and supports. Such are the fundamental truths, as I hold them, of my Christian creed ; for I cling to the old-fashioned Quaker profession of them, as having fewer adjuncts of human invention to lessen their simple, spiritual, and, as I think, Scriptural beauty, than any other. I hope this brief and hasty summary may enable thee to get a glimpse of my faith, such as it is, and so far as I know it myself. But of all things I dislike the argumentative habit of critically dissecting every item of one's belief, and the systematizing and theorizing now so much in vogue. Pure spiritual true religion seeks not to darken counsel, deaden feeling, and dim true light, by words without knowledge; and such seems to me the unprofitable tendency of no small portion of the teaching, whether oral or written, of our modern would-be instructors.

How any sort of confusion of ideas should exist among the real living and spiritually-minded among our own Society on this topic, [The comparative importance of the Spirit, or the written word.] is a marvel and a mystery to me; or would be, had not my own heart long ago taught me how very soon our spiritual perceptions become dim and doubtful, our best feelings deadened, and our judgment bewildered, when in our own strength and wisdom we set about forming systems and codes, and creeds of our own, classifying and arranging, according to our individual appreciation of their importance, truths and principles ALL revealed in their elementary simplicity by the holy volume, all enforced by the teachings of God's Holy Spirit, and all meant, as I believe, to be gradually developed and unfolded to our individual states, uses, and needs, could we but content ourselves, with childish simplicity of heart, to accept them as God has given them. Taking with reverent and truthful humility his outward manifestation of his word as given forth in Scripture; accepting gratefully his offered gift of the Spirit, and praying for its increase, that we may more and more, through its aid, understand those lively oracles of which it is the source; and thereby coming to know in our individual experience, that all the needful truths and essential doctrines revealed in the one, and unfolded, and enforced, and immediately applied by the other, must of necessity form one harmonious whole, in which, when we are aright instructed, we shall see no discrepancies or inconsistencies. But it is the natural tendency of plunging into controversy about the comparative importance of dogmas and doctrines, to narrow our views, and to make us, in our eagerness to defend what appears at the moment of primary importance, regard that one topic or truth as the one thing needful a term only to be applied to the whole, undivided, and harmonious gospel of our Lord, in its full completeness.

I do not like to see one Divine gift pitted against another, as if there were, ought to be, or could be, any rivalry between what must be in their very essence harmonious. I hold with the old faith of our early Friends, who were content thankfully to receive the Scriptures as a blessed and invaluable revelation of God's will; yet so far from understanding them to be the sole and final one, I conceive that one main end and intent of their being given forth, was to inculcate the knowledge of that Spirit whence they themselves proceeded, to guide us to its teachings, to instruct us to wait for its influences, under a conviction that without its unfoldings even the lively oracles of God's Holy Writ may be to us a dead letter. If I am told there is a danger of these views leading to a fanatical trust in a fanatical inspiration of our own; I can only reply, that I can see no such danger while we seek such aid and guidance in simplicity, godly sincerity, and deep humility. Thus, I believe, were our early predecessors eminently led about and instructed.

It was said by one of the early Fathers of the Christian church in his day of some who then withdrew themselves, "They went out from us because they were not of us;" and the same may be said, I think, of many of the more active and conspicuous among our modern separatists. They knew not for themselves experimentally and individually the life and power of that principle by which Friends were first gathered to be a people. For it never was, and never can be, attained by mere birth-right, though outward membership is; nor can it descend by inheritance. I can easily conceive how some have been led to take the part they have taken. Born and educated among us, the latter perhaps at a time when religious instruction was less thought of than it ought to have been, they have grown up as young people, Friends in name and profession, but without ever having been grounded even in the elements of our peculiar principles. In some instances I know individuals of this class, living perhaps in small meetings, and not often brought into intimate acquaintance or cordial intercourse with the more excellent of our body; they have been first taught to think and feel seriously by accidentally falling into the way of religious characters not of our Society. In many such there is a warmth of ardour, an exuberance of zeal, a proneness to activity in the use of means, and a life in religious converse all very sincere and cordial I believe on the part of many who indulge in them which is naturally more taking to a newly-awakened mind than the quiet manner, and patient waiting, and silent retirement, which our views of the spirituality of religion would recommend as likely to conduce to a real and effectual growth in grace. Take the case of any ordinary young person first awakened to serious thought and feeling, and supposing him or her to open their minds to not a few of our good Friends, very worthy and estimable folks in their way, but not exactly the sort of persons to deal with minds first awakened to religious sensibility the passive nothingness, the patient waiting, the searching after retirement, the abstinence from creaturely activity, which such might probably recommend, must come recommended with great kindness and evident deep feeling to give it the least hope of success ; the least appearance of any frigidity or formality to a mind thus excited would close the door at once. Supposing, however, such a convert to fall at such a critical period in the way of one of our Beaconites, may we not fairly anticipate a line of conduct prescribed much more likely to be acceptable the study of the Bible the belief of full, entire, and complete justification by faith alone means excellent in themselves, rightly and well understood, would seem, no doubt, to such a one, a more compendious mode of faith, and to the zeal of a new convert a more inviting one. I do not say that a pious and upright inquirer might not, by following this counsel, come to the attainment of a sound Christian; but he (one ?) may become an adept in Biblical knowledge without imbibing its Divine spirit ; and, from a fear of mysticism and fanaticism, run into a theory quite as dangerous. For while I freely admit the doctrine of justification by faith as I find it simply and abstractedly given in the gospel, I cannot think it one to be exclusively enforced on the believer in all the stages of his Christian progress. Milk for babes, and meat for those of a riper and more mature growth, is, I believe, the diet prescribed not only by gospel wisdom, but emphatically inculcated by the simple spiritual teaching of its Divine Founder.

Dost thou remember a beautiful passage in Cowper --
"-- Stillest streams
Oft water fairest meadows, and the bird
That flutters least is longest on the wing."

So I believe it may be said in our religious Society, and, in fact, in any other denomination, that the most truly influential members, those who give to the body of which they form the life and essence, to speak humanly, its form and pressure, and stamp on it the impression which proves it not counterfeit, but sterling; these are not always the most prominent to the eye of superficial observation, and are seldom found amongst the loudest talkers; they are rather silent preachers, by the practical and incontrovertible exposition of their lives and conversations, that they have not followed, nor are following, cunningly devised fables, but are partakers of that living and eternal substance, which is in fact the true life of religion in and under every name. In ordinary times such pursue, for the most part, the quiet and unobtrusive tenor of their way, doing each, in his or her own little sphere, whatever their hands find to do, but with so little display, that their hidden worth is scarce known, perhaps even to many of their own fellow professors, until circumstances or events out of the ordinary track call on them to throw their weight into the scale one way or the other. Let a crisis arise, however, or an emergency occur, when the Master thinks fit to call them forward, or His cause demands their support, and it is wonderful how their influence is brought to bear on the right side, and how silently, yet overwhelmingly powerful that influence is rendered through the overruling providence of Divine grace. Of such working bees, my good friend, it is my faith that our little hive possesses no small number. But my sheet is all but full. All I wish is, that we may each and all try to keep our proper places, exercise patience, forbearance, and love towards and with each other, and then I trust all will be well. There is always this risk in controversy, we are very apt to misunderstand each other, and not very prone rightly to know ourselves; but if vital and fundamental principles are to be attacked, they must be defended; may it be in the spirit of meekness and love.

The more I see, or rather hear, of this lamentable controversy, the more I am convinced that they who first agitated it acted unwisely and unwell in doing so. I cannot believe that to have had a right origin which by its natural and almost inevitable results tends to disunion, disputation, and all uncharitableness.

The Society itself, so far as I have any sight, sense, and feeling of its faith and practice, has in no respect falsified its own original and fundamental doctrines. Practically indeed we may not be, and I fear we are not, the plain, simple, single-hearted, self-denying people that our forefathers were. The absence of all that can be called persecution; the substitution of the world's respect for its scorn, of its smiles for its frowns; the progress of refinement and luxury, and many other operating causes of a much less exceptionable nature; have gradually more assimilated the bulk of our Society to the mass of our fellow-Christians. But I am not at all aware that, in our collective capacity as a body, we have avowedly departed from the faith of our ancestors. Nor do I find that our seceding brothers and sisters leave us under the plea of any such departure, but simply because we refuse to give up the principles and practices, the declaration and adoption of which formed the rallying point and starting post of our founders, humanly speaking, as a section of the Christian church.

In science and art the progress of discovery may bring much to light, and the wisest of men in these matters may have much to learn and to unlearn. But in the grand and essential truths of the gospel, I see not why our forefathers were not as likely to be right as we can be. I know of no fresh sources of religious instruction, no undiscovered or undeveloped fountain of religious knowledge to which we in our day can have access, from which our pious ancestors were excluded. And I am yet to learn what oracles of Divine truth we can consult, with which they were not familiar. They had the outward and written word, in which the will of God is recorded, in their hands, and they certainly were not likely to be strangers to that inspeaking word, the voice of his Spirit; that inshining light which enlightens every regenerate Christian, to which they were the first peculiarly to appeal.

In all human institutions, whether political or ecclesiastical, there is a rise and fall -- a state of infancy, manhood, and, at last, of declension and decrepitude; but in proportion as the bond of union cementing them is inward and spiritual, they are likely to be transitory or enduring. It is this spirit, or living essence of religion itself, without reference to forms and modes which are of necessity ephemeral, that forms the life and power on which the church of Christ is based, and by which its living members of all sects, names, and denominations are united in one fellowship. It may therefore be hoped for and believed that, as far as any Society has been led from types and shadows, external rites and ceremonies, to seek a more spiritual faith, its purity and permanency are in some degree pledged by its simplicity. It has long been my belief and conviction that the principles of Friends, rightly understood, form the most pure, most simple, and most spiritual code of faith and doctrine which the Christian world exhibits ; and, under this belief, I can entertain no fear of the decline or overthrow of them. Whether the body first raised up to propagate them, or their successors to whom the maintenance of these testimonies is now intrusted, may have their name as a people perpetuated I cannot presume to anticipate, but for the principles themselves I entertain no apprehension, because I believe them to be those of the everlasting and unchangeable gospel of Christ. Nor do I think that the time is yet come for us to be blotted out of the list of those sections of the universal church of Christ, which constitute all together his temple on earth.

All that I have heard, seen, or read, only strengthens my attachment to old-fashioned Quakerism. I do not mean that in every iota of manners, habits, and practice, we are bound to follow the example of those who lived more than a century and a half ago, when the Society was in a very different state. But in all essential points of faith and doctrine I am more and more convinced those old worthies were substantially sound.

I believe the unity of the one Catholic and comprehensive church to be a unity of spirit and feeling, and not only to be perfectly compatible with many diversities of opinion as to particular doctrines, rites, and ceremonies, but entirely independent of them. I should be sorry not to feel somewhat of that unity with many from whom I differ widely in many and various respects. Who but must feel it for Kempis? yet this by no means implies any accordance with the Romish Ritual of which, I believe, he was a docile and dutiful votary though he lived and wrote far beyond the letter and rule of his professed creed, in a spirit of the most pure, enlightened, and spiritual Christianity.

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe, December 1847 (p143)

12 mo, 18, 1847.

Dear C.,
Thou hast no notion what an effort it is to me to get out, or thou wouldst marvel not at my staying at home. Did not Solomon say there is a time for going out, and a time for staying at home. If he did not, he ought to have said it; and his omission negatives not the fact.

I yet hope to see Bredfield one day or the other; but the when and the how are hid from me. My walking faculties are not what they used to be ; and flying is too costly to have recourse to. Besides, my good old friend, I can't make out that it is any farther from Bredfield to Woodbridge than it is from here to thine; yet I think I perform that pious pilgrimage three times to thy one. Think of that, and make allowance for my old age and growing infirmities. Thine, with love to all the younkers, hes and shes.

Ever truly,

Bernard Barton to Rev. George Crabbe (p144)

My dear C.,
I think Lucy had a note from Caroline yesterday brought by your Mercury, to which she made her response; but she did not know when she made it that the said Mercury was also the bearer of more substantial proofs of your friendly memory, until I reported having seen the unwonted spectacle of a hare, and a brace of birds, hanging up below. Our damsel, it seems, brought the note up-stairs, but said not a word of the notable post-script she had hung up in our tiny larder. On her mistress letting out at her for the omission, and telling her she had been the cause of her doing a very rude thing, at least not doing a civil and thankful one, by not acknowledging such an importation; she said, I thought very adroitly, that she concluded they were in the letter. The supposition was not an unnatural one; at any rate, it will account for the tardiness of our acknowledgments, which I promised Lucy I would duly make this evening.

I had a letter the other day from a first cousin of mine, of whom I had not heard for near fifty years, and whom I fancied to have been dead. She is about my own age, I fear very poor, sickly, and infirm; but picks up a living I hardly know how, though I doubt a scanty one. She sent me a little scrap of her verse, for she, too, is a dabbler in rhyme. To me there is something really touching in her simple and brief record of her solitary state, and I have printed a few copies of it, giving it a title of my own making, as I received it without any; and I hope by sending a copy here and there among some of our kinsfolk who are better off than either she or myself, some trifling benefit may accrue to her.

There is, to my fancy, a tone of genuine pathos in this little ditty which more than compensates for any defect in poetic beauty, and though in her verse she not unnaturally dwells on the darker side, the letter which came with it has no murmuring or repining whatever; on the contrary, she expresses her gratitude at being able to earn her own living by her own exertions.

I have written to my poor cousin, whom I well remember nearly fifty years ago, as kind and encouraging a letter as I could indite, and I hope to render some little service, or to show by my sympathy that I am more proud than ashamed of our kinship.

Thine truly,
B. B.

Many a time when I have been taking a solitary stroll by the sea-side, the sight of footsteps left when no one was in sight has set me thinking whose they might be.

Bernard Barton to Mrs. Salmon, October 1848 (p130)

[Presumably the wife of Rev. Thomas William Salmon, Rector of Woodbridge and then Perpetual Curate of Hopton near Gorleston]

10 mo, 8, 1848.

My dear friend,
The same kindness that induced thee to take us in, and to make so much of us during our pleasant Hopton sojourn, will, I am sure, impart some little interest to a few lines reporting our safe return home, and our partial reinstatement in our wonted domicile; I call it partial, inasmuch as one can hardly, all at once, fancy one's self really and veritably at home. I still seem to myself, in thought, feeling, and spirit, more than half at Hopton; as is very natural, for I thoroughly enjoyed my saunters and strolls there and thereabout, and can find or think of no walk half so pleasant as your cliffs, and Gorlestone pier. I miss too, more than a little, your agreeable family circle. Theo's lively chit-chat, Jane's comic comments, the smile of the younger girls, Frank's novel illustrations of Natural History, and the evening reports of Willy, scant as they were, of what chanced to be going on at Yarmouth. On the whole, my dear friend, I quite think our coming to you as we did was a right thing; and I am very sure it was a pleasant one, as it gave me an opportunity of seeing you all together once again, and renewing my acquaintance with some of the young folks respecting whom my memory stood in some need of being brushed up a little. We got outside at Lowestoft, and kept there till we reached Yoxford, when finding the inside entirely empty, I was not sorry once more to turn in, and found the change of rest to my back very agreeable, though the heat of the day rendered the loss of the fresher air at the top of the coach a very sensible privation. We arrived about four o'clock, and, after a reviving ablution, I felt none the worse for my journey, and decidedly the better for the few days' turn out. Libby Jones and E. F. G. [Edward FitzGerald] dropt in about five and took tea with us: she left us soon after, but Edward stayed till between seven and eight, and then started for a moonlight walk to Boulge.

Bernard Barton to William Bodham Donne, October 1848 (p76)

10 mo, 30, 1848.

I believe, and know by sad and dire experience, that shopkeepers and artisans, clerks, journeymen, are in many cases sorely overworked; and have not proper and needful leisure allowed them for rest or recreation. If a scrap of my doggerel could help my brother galley-slaves and myself, why not send it? But I lack faith. Mere earlier closing will not do the job. We used to keep open till five, daily; but for these two years and more we have shut up at four, save on market days. Yet we stop later of evenings, from the increased pressure of business, since we have closed at four, than we used to do when we kept open till five. So we have taken little by that movement.