Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

TO

MARY ANNE LAMB,

THESE LETTERS,

THE MEMORIALS OF MANY YEARS WHICH SHE SPENT WITH THE WRITER

IN UNDIVIDED AFFECTION;

OF THE SORROWS AND THE JOYS SHE SHARED, OF THE GENIUS WHICH SHE CHERISHED,

AND OF THE EXCELLENCES WHICH SHE BEST KNEW;

ARE

RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED,

BY THE EDITOR.

PREFACE.

The share of the Editor in these volumes can scarcely be regarded too slightly. The successive publications of Lamb's works form almost the only events of his life which can be recorded ; and upon these criticism has been nearly exhausted. Little, therefore, was necessary to accompany the Letters, except such thread of narrative as might connect them together; and such explanations as might render their allusions generally understood. The reader's gratitude for the pleasure which he will derive from these memorials of one of the most delightful of English writers is wholly due to his correspondents, who have kindly entrusted the precious relics to the care of the Editor, and have permitted them to be given to the world; and to Mr. Moxon, by whose interest and zeal they have been chiefly collected. He may be allowed to express his personal sense of the honour which he has received in such a trust from men, some of whom are among the greatest of England's living authors, -to Wordsworth, Southey, Manning, Barton, Procter, Gilman, Patmore, Walter Wilson, Field, Robinson, Dyer, Cary, Ainsworth, to Mr. Green, the executor of Coleridge, and to the surviving relatives of Hazlitt. He is also most grateful to Lamb's esteemed schoolfellow, Mr. Le Grice, for supplying an interesting part of his history. Of the few additional facts of Lamb's history, the chief have been supplied by Mr. Moxon, in whose welfare he took a most affectionate interest to the close of his life ; and who has devoted some beautiful sonnets to his memory.

The recentness of the period of some of the letters has rendered it necessary to omit many portions of them, in which the humour and beauty are interwoven with personal references, which, although wholly free from anything which, rightly understood, could give pain to any human being, touch on subjects too sacred for public exposure. Some of the personal allusions which have been retained, may seem, perhaps, too free to a stranger ; but they have been retained only in cases

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.

T. N. T.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

LETTERS, &c. OF CHARLES

CHARLES LAMB.

CHAPTER I.

| lot, and discharging its duties with the most [1775 to 1796.]

patient assiduity, he was not without literary

ambition; LAMB'S PARENTAGE, SCHOOL-DAYS, AND YOUTH, TO THE

and having written some occasional COMMENCEMENT OF HIS CORRESPONDENCE WITH COLE- verses to grace the festivities of a benefit RIDGE.

society of which he was a member, was CHARLES LAMB was born on 10th February, encouraged by his brother members to pub1775, in Crown Office Row, in the Inner lish, in a thin quarto, “Poetical Pieces on Temple, where he spent the first seven several occasions.” This volume contains a years of his life. His parents were in a lively picture of the life of a lady's footman humble station, but they were endued with of the last century; the “ History of Joseph," sentiments and with manners which might told in well-measured heroic couplets ; and a well become the gentlest blood; and fortune, pleasant piece, after the manner of “Gay's which had denied them wealth, enabled them Fables,” entitled the “Sparrow's Wedding,” to bestow on their children some of the which was the author's favourite, and which, happiest intellectual advantages which wealth when he fell into the dotage of age, he ever confers. His father, Mr. John Lamb, delighted to hear Charles read.t His wife who came up a little boy from Lincoln, fortunately both for himself and his master, something better was not concerned. L. was the liveliest

excuse his interference-for L. never forgot rank, where entered into the service of Mr. Salt, one of little fellow breathing; had a face as gay as Garrick's, the benchers of the Inner Temple, a widower, whom he was said greatly to resemble ; (I have a por

trait of him which confirms it;) possessed a fine turn who, growing old within its precincts, was for humorous poetry--next to Swift and Prior ; moulded enabled to appreciate and to reward his heads in clay or plaster of Paris to admiration, by the devotedness and intelligence ; and to whom dint of natural genius merely ; turned cribbage-boards

and such small cabinet toys to perfection ; took a hand | he became, in the language of his son, “his at quadrille or bowls with equal facility; made punch

clerk, his good servant, his dresser, his friend, better than any man of his degree in England ; had the his flapper, his guide, stop-watch, auditor, brimful of rogueries and inventions as you could desire. treasurer.”* Although contented with his He was a brother of the angle, moreover; and just such

a free, hearty, honest companion as Mr. Izaak Walton * Lamb has given characters of his father (under the would have chosen to go a fishing with." Dame of Lovel), and of Mr. Salt, in one of the most + The following little poem, entitled “A Letter from exquisite of all the Essays of Elia—“The Old Benchers a Child to its Grandmother,” written by Mr. John Lamb of the Inner Temple.” Of Lovel, he says, “He was for his eldest son, though possessing no merit beyond a man of an incorrigible and losing honesty. A good simplicity of expression, may show the manner in which fellow withal, and would strike.' In the cause of the he endeavoured to discharge his parental duties :oppressed he never considered inequalities, or calculated the number of his opponents. He once wrested a sword

“Dear Grandam, out of the hand of a man of quality that had drawn

Pray to God to bless upon him; and pummelled him severely with the hilt of

Your grandson dear, with happiness ; it. The swordsman had offered insult to a female-an

That, as I do advance each year, occasion upon which no odds against him could have

I may be taught my God to fear ; prevented the interference of Lovel.

My little frame from passion free, next day bare-headed to the same person, modestly to

To man's estate from infancy ;

He would stand

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.

T, N. T.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« НазадПродовжити »