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in which the Editor is well assured the parties would be rather gratified than displeased at seeing their names connected in life-like association with one so dear to their memories.
The italics and the capitals are invariably those indicated by the MSS. It is to be regretted that in the printed letters the reader must lose the curious varieties of writing with which the originals abound, and which are scrupulously adapted to the subjects.
Many letters yet remain unpublished, which will further illustrate the character of Mr. Lamb, but which must be reserved for a future time, when the Editor hopes to do more justice to his own sense of the genius and the excellence of his friend, than it has been possible for him to accomplish in these volumes.
RUSSELL SQUARE, 26th June, 1837.
T. N. T.
LETTERS, &c. OF CHARLES LAMB.
[1775 to 1796.] LAMB'S PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH, TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH COLE
CHARLES LAMB was born on 10th February, 1775, in Crown Office Row, in the Inner Temple, where he spent the first seven years of his life. His parents were in a humble station, but they were endued with sentiments and with manners which might well become the gentlest blood; and fortune, which bad denied them wealth, enabled them to bestow on their children some of the happiest intellectual advantages which wealth ever confers. His father, Mr. John Lamb, who came up a little boy from Lincoln, fortunately both for himself and his master, entered into the service of Mr. Salt, one of the benchers of the Inner Temple, a widower, who, growing old within its precincts, was enabled to appreciate and to reward his devotedness and intelligence; and to whom he became, in the language of his son, "his clerk, his good servant, his dresser, his friend, his flapper, his guide, stop-watch, auditor, treasurer." 33 # Although contented with his
Lamb has given characters of his father (under the name of Lovel), and of Mr. Salt, in one of the most exquisite of all the Essays of Elia-"The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple." Of Lovel, he says, "He was a man of an incorrigible and losing honesty. A good fellow withal, and would strike.' In the cause of the Oppressed he never considered inequalities, or calculated the number of his opponents. He once wrested a sword out of the hand of a man of quality that had drawn upon him; and pummelled him severely with the hilt of it. The swordsman had offered insult to a female-an occasion upon which no odds against him could have prevented the interference of Lovel. He would stand next day bare-headed to the same person, modestly to
lot, and discharging its duties with the most patient assiduity, he was not without literary ambition; and having written some occasional verses to grace the festivities of a benefit society of which he was a member, was encouraged by his brother members to publish, in a thin quarto, "Poetical Pieces on several occasions." This volume contains a lively picture of the life of a lady's footman of the last century; the "History of Joseph," told in well-measured heroic couplets; and a pleasant piece, after the manner of "Gay's Fables," entitled the "Sparrow's Wedding,” which was the author's favourite, and which, when he fell into the dotage of age, he delighted to hear Charles read. His wife
something better was not concerned. L. was the liveliest excuse his interference-for L. never forgot rank, where little fellow breathing; had a face as gay as Garrick's, whom he was said greatly to resemble; (I have a portrait of him which confirms it;) possessed a fine turn for humorous poetry--next to Swift and Prior; moulded heads in clay or plaster of Paris to admiration, by the dint of natural genius merely; turned cribbage-boards at quadrille or bowls with equal facility; made punch better than any man of his degree in England; had the merriest quips and conceits; and was altogether as brimful of rogueries and inventions as you could desire. He was a brother of the angle, moreover; and just such a free, hearty, honest companion as Mr. Izaak Walton would have chosen to go a fishing with.",
and such small cabinet toys to perfection; took a hand
The following little poem, entitled A Letter from a Child to its Grandmother," written by Mr. John Lamb for his eldest son, though possessing no merit beyond simplieity of expression, may show the manner in which he endeavoured to discharge his parental duties:
Pray to God to bless Your grandson dear, with happiness; That, as I do advance each year, I may be taught my God to fear; My little frame from passion free,. To man's estate from infancy;
was a woman of appearance so matronly and commanding, that, according to the recollection of one of Lamb's dearest schoolmates, "she might be taken for a sister of Mrs. Siddons." This excellent couple were blessed with three children, John, Mary, and Charles; John being twelve and Mary ten years older than Charles. John, who is vividly described in the essay of Elia entitled "My Relations," under the name of James Elia, rose to fill a lucrative office in the South Sea House, and died a few years ago, having to the last fulfilled the affectionate injunction of Charles, to "keep the elder brother up in state." Mary (the Bridget of the same essay) still survives, to mourn the severance of a lifelong association, as free from every alloy of selfishness, as remarkable for moral beauty, as this world ever witnessed in brother and sister.
"His delicate frame and his difficulty of utterance, which was increased by agitation, unfitted him for joining in any boisterous On the 9th of October, 1782, when Charles sport. The description which he gives, in Lamb had attained the age of seven, he was his 'Recollections of Christ's Hospital,' of presented to the school of Christ's Hospital, the habits and feelings of the schoolboy, is a by Timothy Yeates, Esq., Governor, as "the true one in general, but is more particularly son of John Lamb, scrivener, and Elizabeth a delineation of himself—the feelings were his wife," and remained a scholar of that all in his own heart-the portrait was his noble establishment till he had entered into own: 'While others were all fire and play, his fifteenth year. Small of stature, delicate he stole along with all the self-concentration of frame, and constitutionally nervous and of a young monk.' These habits and feelings timid, he would seem unfitted to encounter were awakened and cherished in him by the discipline of a school formed to restrain peculiar circumstances: he had been born some hundreds of lads in the heart of the and bred in the Inner Temple; and his metropolis, or to fight his way among them. parents continued to reside there while he But the sweetness of his disposition won him was at school, so that he passed from cloister favour from all; and although the antique to cloister, and this was all the change his peculiarities of the school tinged his opening young mind ever knew. On every halfimagination, they did not sadden his child-holiday (and there were two in the week) in hood. One of his schoolfellows, of whose ten minutes he was in the gardens, on the genial qualities he has made affectionate terrace, or at the fountain of the Temple : mention in his "Recollections of Christ's here was his home, here his recreation; and Hospital," Charles V. Le Grice, now of the influence they had on his infant mind is Treriefe, near Penzance, has supplied me vividly shown in his description of the Old with some particulars of his school-days, for Benchers. He says, 'I was born and passed which friends of a later date will be grateful. the first seven years of my life in the Temple :' "Lamb," says Mr. Le Grice," was an amiable he might have added, that here he passed a gentle boy, very sensible and keenly observing, great portion of the second seven years of his indulged by his schoolfellows and by his life, a portion which mixed itself with all his habits and enjoyments, and gave a bias to the whole. Here he found a happy home, affectionate parents, and a sister who watched over him to the latest hour of his existence (God be with her!) with the tenderest solicitude; and here he had access to the library of Mr. Salt, one of the Benchers, to whose
From vice, that turns a youth aside,
master on account of his infirmity of speech. His countenance was mild; his complexion clear brown, with an expression which might lead you to think that he was of Jewish descent. His eyes were not each of the same colour, one was hazel, the other had specks of grey in the iris, mingled as we see red spots in the blood-stone. His step was plantigrade, which made his walk slow and peculiar, adding to the staid appearance of his figure. I never heard his name mentioned without the addition of Charles, although, as there was no other boy of the name of Lamb, the addition was unnecessary; but there was an implied kindness in it, and it was a proof that his gentle manners excited that kindness."
memory his pen has given, in return for this and greater favours--I do not think it extravagant to say-im nortality. To use his own language, here he was tumbled into a spacious closet of good old English reading, where he browsed at will upon that fair and wholesome pasturage.' He applied these words to his sister; but there is no doubt they 'browsed' together; they had walked hand in hand from a time 'extending beyond the period of their memory.""
When Lamb quitted school, he was in the lower division of the second class-which in the language of the school is termed "being in Greek Form, but not Deputy Grecian." He had read Virgil, Sallust, Terence, selections from Lucian's Dialogues, and Xenophon; and had evinced considerable skill in the niceties of Latin composition, both in prose and verse. His docility and aptitude for the attainment of classical knowledge would have insured him an exhibition; but to this the impediment in his speech proved an insuperable obstacle. The exhibitions were given under the implied, if not expressed, condition of entering into the Church; the whole course of education was preparatory to that end; and therefore Lamb, who was unfitted by nature for the clerical profession, was not adopted into the class which led to it, and quitted school to pursue the uncongenial labour of the "desk's dull wood." To this apparently hard lot he submitted with cheerfulness, and saw his schoolfellows of his own standing depart, one after another, for the University without a murmur. This acquiescence in his different fortune must have been a hard trial for the sweetness of his disposition; as he always, in after life, regarded the ancient seats of learning with the fondness of one who had been hardly divorced from them. He delighted, when other duties did not hinder, to pass his vacations in their neighbourhood, and indulge in that fancied association with them which he has so beautifully mirrored in his "Sonnet written at Cambridge.” * What worldly
success can, indeed, ever compensate for the want of timely nurture beneath the shade of one of these venerable institutions-for the sense of antiquity shading, not checking, the joyous impulses of opening manhood-for the refinement and the grace there interfused into the long labour of ambitious study-for young friendships consecrated by the associations of long past time; and for liberal emulation, crowned by successes restrained from ungenerous and selfish pride by palpable symbols of the genius and the learning of ages?
On 23rd November, 1789, Lamb finally quitted Christ's Hospital for the abode of his parents, who still resided in the Temple. At first he was employed in the South Sea House, under his brother John; but on the 5th April, 1792, he obtained an appointment in the accountant's office of the East India Company. His salary, though then small, was a welcome addition to the scanty means of his parents; who now were unable, by their own exertions, to increase it, his mother being in ill health, which confined her to her bed, and his father sinking into dotage. On their comfort, however, this, and what was more precious to him, his little leisure, were freely bestowed; and his recreations were confined to a delightful visit to the twoshilling gallery of the theatre, in company with his sister, and an occasional supper with some of his schoolmates, when in town, from Cambridge. On one of these latter occasions he obtained the appellation of Guy, by which he was always called among them; but of which few of his late friends heard till after his death. "In the first year of his clerkship," says Mr. Le Grice, in the communication with which he favoured me, "Lamb spent the evening of the 5th November with some of his former schoolfellows, who, being amused with the particularly large and flapping brim of his round hat, pinned it up on the sides in the form of a cocked-hat.. Lamb made no alteration in it, but walked home in his usual sauntering gait towards the Temple. As he was going down Ludgate
Strange forms of logic clothe my admiring speech;
And half had stagger'd that stout Stagyrite!
hill, some gay young men, who seemed not to rare fancies, all deftly masked like hoar have passed the London Tavern without antiquity'-much superior to Dr. Kenrick's resting, exclaimed, 'The veritable Guy!-'Falstaff's Wedding.' The work no man of straw!' and with this exclamation neglected, although Lamb exerted all the they took him up, making a chair with their influence he subsequently acquired with arms, carried him, seated him on a post in more popular writers to obtain for it favourSt. Paul's-churchyard, and there left him. able notices, as will be seen from various This story Lamb told so seriously, that the passages in his letters. He stuck, however, truth of it was never doubted. He wore gallantly by his favourite protégé; and even his three-cornered hat many evenings, and when he could little afford to disburse retained the name of Guy ever after. Like sixpence, he made a point of buying a copy Nym, he quietly sympathised in the fun, and of the book whenever he discovered one seemed to say, 'that was the humour of it.' amidst the refuse of a bookseller's stall, and A clergyman of the City lately wrote to me, would present it to a friend in the hope of 'I have no recollection of Lamb. There was making a convert. He gave me one of these a gentleman called Guy, to whom you once copies soon after I became acquainted with introduced me, and with whom I have occa- him, stating that he had purchased it in the sionally interchanged nods for more than morning for sixpence, and assuring me I thirty years; but how is it that I never met should enjoy a rare treat in the perusal; Mr. Lamb? If I was ever introduced to but if I must confess the truth, the mask of him, I wonder that we never came in contact quaintness was so closely worn, that it during my residence for ten years in Edmon- nearly concealed the humour. To Lamb it ton.' Imagine this gentleman's surprise was, doubtless, vivified by the eye and voice when I informed him that his nods to Mr. of his old boon companion, forming to him Guy had been constantly reciprocated by an undying commentary; without which it was comparatively spiritless. Alas! how many even of his own most delicate fancies, rich as they are in feeling and in wisdom, will be lost to those who have not present to them the sweet broken accents, and the half playful, half melancholy smile of the writer!
During these years Lamb's most frequent companion was James White, or rather, Jem White, as he always called him. Lamb always insisted that for hearty joyous humour, tinged with Shaksperian fancy, Jem never had an equal. "Jem White!" said he, to Mr. Le Grice, when they met for the last But if Jem White was the companion of time, after many years' absence, at the Bell his lighter moods, the friend of his serious at Edmonton, in June, 1833, "there never thoughts was a person of far nobler powers was his like! We never shall see such days-Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was his good as those in which Jem flourished!" All fortune to be the schoolfellow of that extrathat now remains of Jem is the celebration ordinary man; and if no particular intimacy of the suppers which he gave the young had been formed between them at Christ's chimney-sweepers in the Elia of his friend, Hospital, a foundation was there laid for a and a thin duodecimo volume, which he friendship to which the world is probably published in 1796, under the title of the indebted for all that Lamb has added to its "Letters of Sir John Falstaff, with a dedi- sources of pleasure. Junior to Coleridge by cation (printed in black letter) to Master two years, and far inferior to him in all Samuel Irelaunde," which those who knew scholastic acquirements, Lamb had listened Lamb at the time believed to be his. "White's to the rich discourse of "the inspired charityLetters," said Lamb, in a letter to a friend boy" with a wondering delight, pure from all about this time, "are near publication. His envy, and, it may be, enhanced by his sense frontispiece is a good conceit; Sir John of his own feebleness and difficulty of learning to dance, to please Madame Page, expression. While Coleridge remained at in dress of doublet, &c., from the upper half, the University, they met occasionally on his and modern pantaloons, with shoes of the visits to London; and when he quitted it, eighteenth century, from the lower half, and and came to town, full of mantling hopes the whole work is full of goodly quips and and glorious schemes, Lamb became his