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was a woman of appearance so matronly and master on account of his infirmity of speech. commanding, that, according to the recollec- His countenance was mild; his complexion tion of one of Lamb's dearest schoolmates, clear brown, with an expression which might "she might be taken for a sister of Mrs. Sid- lead you to think that he was of Jewish dons.” This excellent couple were blessed descent. His eyes were not each of the same with three children, John, Mary, and Charles; colour, one was hazel, the other had specks John being twelve and Mary ten years older of grey in the iris, mingled as we see red than Charles. John, who is vividly described spots in the blood-stone. His step was in the essay of Elia entitled “My Relations,” plantigrade, which made his walk slow and under the name of James Elia, rose to fill a peculiar, adding to the staid appearance of lucrative office in the South Sea House, and his figure. I never heard his name mendied a few years ago, having to the last tioned without the addition of Charles, fulfilled the affectionate injunction of Charles, although, as there was no other boy of the to “keep the elder brother up in state." name of Lamb, the addition was unnecessary; Mary (the Bridget of the same essay) still but there was an implied kindness in it, and survives, to mourn the severance of a life- it was a proof that his gentle manners excited long association, as free from every alloy of that kindness." selfishness, as remarkable for moral beauty, “ His delicate frame and his difficulty of as this world ever witnessed in brother and utterance, which was increased by agitation, sister.
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 From vice, that turns a youth aside,
habits and enjoyments, and gave a bias to And to have wisdom for my guide ;
the whole. Here he found a happy home, That I may neither lie nor swear, But in the path of virtue steer ;
affectionate parents, and a sister who watched My actions generous, firm, and just,
over him to the latest hour of his existence Be always faithful to my trust;
(God be with her !) with the tenderest soliciAnd thee the Lord will ever bless. Your grandson dear,
tude ; and here he had access to the library John L-, the Less.” of Mr. Salt, one of the Benchers, to whose the Temple. As he was going down LudgateI was not train'd in academic bowers, And to those learned streams I nothing owe
memory his pen has given, in return for this success can, indeed, ever compensate for the and greater favours—I do not think it extra- want of timely nurture beneath the shade of
vagant to say-immortality. To use his one of these venerable institutions for the | own language, here he was tumbled into a sense of antiquity shading, not checking, the
spacious closet of good old English reading, joyous impulses of opening manhood-for where he browsed at will upon that fair and the refinement and the grace there interfused wholesome pasturage. He applied these into the long labour of ambitious study-for words to his sister ; but there is no doubt young friendships consecrated by the assothey "browsed' together; they had walked ciations of long past time; and for liberal hand in hand from a time “extending beyond emulation, crowned by successes restrained the period of their memory.'
from ungenerous and selfish pride by palpable When Lamb quitted school, he was in the symbols of the genius and the learning of lower division of the second class—which in ages ? the language of the school is termed " being On 23rd November, 1789, Lamb finally in Greek Form, but not Deputy Grecian.” quitted Christ's Hospital for the abode of his He had read Virgil, Sallust, Terence, selec- parents, who still resided in the Temple. At tions from Lucian's Dialogues, and Xenophon; first he was employed in the South Sea
and had evinced considerable skill in the House, under his brother John ; but on the | niceties of Latin composition, both in prose 5th April, 1792, he obtained an appointment 1 and verse. His docility and aptitude for the in the accountant's office of the East India
attainment of classical knowledge would have company. His salary, though then small, insured him an exhibition ; but to this the was a welcome addition to the scanty means impediment in his speech proved an insu- of his parents ; who now were unable, by perable obstacle. The exhibitions were given their own exertions, to increase it, his mother under the implied, if not expressed, condition being in ill health, which confined her to her of entering into the Church; the whole course bed, and his father sinking into dotage. On of education was preparatory to that end ; their comfort, however, this, and what was and therefore Lamb, who was unfitted by more precious to him, his little leisure, were nature for the clerical profession, was not freely bestowed ; and his recreations were adopted into the class which led to it, and confined to a delightful visit to the twoquitted school to pursue the uncongenial shilling gallery of the theatre, in company labour of the “desk's dull wood.” To this with his sister, and an occasional supper with
apparently hard lot he submitted with some of his schoolmates, when in town, from | cheerfulness, and saw his schoolfellows of his Cambridge. On one of these latter occasions
own standing depart, one after another, for he obtained the appellation of Guy, by which the University without a murmur. This he was always called among them ; but of acquiescence in his different fortune must which few of his late friends heard till after bave been a hard trial for the sweetness of his death. “In the first year of his clerkhis disposition ; as he always, in after life, ship,” says Mr. Le Grice, in the communicaregarded the ancient seats of learning with tion with which he favoured me, "Lamb the fondness of one who had been hardly spent the evening of the 5th November divorced from them. He delighted, when with some of his former schoolfellows, who, other duties did not hinder, to pass his being amused with the particularly large and
vacations in their neighbourhood, and indulge flapping brim of his round hat, pinned it up i in that fancied association with them which on the sides in the form of a cocked-hat.
he has so beautifully mirrored in his “Sonnet Lamb made no alteration in it, but walked written at Cambridge.”* What worldly home in his usual sauntering gait towards
Strange forms of logic clothe my admiring speech; Which copious from those twin fair founts do flow; Old Ramus' ghost is busy at my brain; Mine have been anything but studious hours.
And my skull teems with notions infinite. Yet can I fancy, wandering 'mid thy towers,
Be still, ye reeds of Camus, while I teach Myself a nursling, Granta, of thy lap;
Truths which transcend the searching schoolmen's My brow seems tightening with the doctor's cap,
vein, And I walk gowned ; feel unusual powers.
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 Mr. Lamb!"
was comparatively spiritless. Alas! how During these years Lamb's most frequent many even of his own most delicate fancies, companion was James White, or rather, rich as they are in feeling and in wisdom, Jem White, as he always called him. Lamb will be lost to those who have not present always insisted that for hearty joyous humour, to them the sweet broken accents, and the tinged with Shaksperian fancy, Jem never half playful, half melancholy smile of the had an equal. “Jem White !” said he, to writer! 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
admiring disciple. The scene of these happy expanded into forms and hues of its own. meetings was a little public-house, called the Lamb's earliest poetry was not a faint Salutation and Cat, in the neighbourhood of reflection of Coleridge's, such as the young Smithfield, where they used to sup, and lustre of original genius may cast on a remain long after they had “heard the chimes polished and sensitive mind, to glow and at midnight.” There they discoursed of tremble for a season, but was streaked with Bowles, who was the god of Coleridge's delicate yet distinct traits, which proved it poetical idolatry, and of Burns and Cowper, an emanation from within. There was, who, of recent poets, in that season of com- indeed, little resemblance between the two, parative barrenness, had made the deepest except in the affection which they bore impression on Lámb. There Coleridge talked towards each other. Coleridge's mind, not of “Fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute,” laden as yet with the spoils of all systems to one who desired "to find no end” of the and of all times, glowed with the ardour of golden maze ; and there he recited his early uncontrollable purpose, and thirsted for poems with that deep sweetness of intonation glorious achievement and universal knowwhich sunk into the heart of his hearer. To ledge. The imagination, which afterwards these meetings Lamb was accustomed at all struggled gloriously but perhaps vainly to periods of his life to revert, as the season overmaster the stupendous clouds of German when his finer intellects were quickened into philosophies, breaking them into huge masses, action. Shortly after they had terminated, and tinting them with heavenly hues, then with Coleridge's departure from London, he shone through the simple articles of Unitarian thus recalled them in a letter :* “When I faith, the graceful architecture of Hartley's read in your little volume your nineteenth theory, and the well-compacted chain by effusion, or what you call the Sigh,' I think which Priestley and Edwards seemed to I hear you again. I imagine to myself the bind all things in necessary connexion, as little smoky room at the Salutation and Cat, through transparencies of thought; and, where we have sat together through the finding no opposition worthy of its activity winter nights beguiling the cares of life with in this poor foreground of the mind, opened Poesy.” This was early in 1796! and in for itself a bright succession of fairy visions, 1818, when dedicating his works, then first which it sought to realise on earth. In its collected, to his earliest friend, he thus spoke light, oppression and force seemed to vanish of the same meetings : “Some of the sonnets, like the phantoms of a feverish dream; which shall be carelessly turned over by the mankind were disposed in the picturesque general reader, may happily awaken in you groups of universal brotherhood; and, in remembrances which I should be sorry should far distance, the ladder which Jacob saw in be ever totally extinct,—the memory of solemn vision connected earth with heaven, summer days and of delightful years,' even "and the angels of God were ascending and so far back as those old suppers at our old descending upon it.” Lamb had no sympathy Inn, — when life was fresh, and topics with these radiant hopes, except as they were exhaustless, and you first kindled in me, part of his friend. He clung to the realities if not the power, yet the love of poetry, of life; to things nearest to him, which the and beauty, and kindliness.” And so he force of habit had made dear; and caught talked of these unforgotten hours in that tremblingly hold of the past. He delighted, short interval during which death divided indeed, to hear Coleridge talk of the distant them!
and future; to see the palm-trees wave, and The warmth of Coleridge's friendship the pyramids tower in the long perspective supplied the quickening impulse to Lamb's of his style ; and to catch the prophetic notes genius ; but the germ enfolding all its nice of a universal harmony trembling in his peculiarities lay ready for the influence, and voice; but the pleasure was only that of
admiration unalloyed by envy, and of the * This, and other passages I have interwoven with my own slender thread of narration, are from letters generous pride of friendship. The tendency which I have thought either too personal for entire of his mind to detect the beautiful and good publication at present, or not of suficient
interest, in in surrounding things, to nestle rather than space, to which the letters are limited.
to roam, was cherished by all the circum