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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.
On the 9th of October, 1782, when Charles Lamb had attained the age of seven, he was presented to the school of Christ's Hospital, by Timothy Yeates, Esq., Governor, as "the son of John Lamb, scrivener, and Elizabeth his wife," and remained a scholar of that noble establishment till he had entered into his fifteenth year. Small of stature, delicate of frame, and constitutionally nervous and timid, he would seem unfitted to encounter the discipline of a school formed to restrain some hundreds of lads in the heart of the metropolis, or to fight his way among them. But the sweetness of his disposition won him favour from all; and although the antique peculiarities of the school tinged his opening imagination, they did not sadden his childhood. One of his schoolfellows, of whose genial qualities he has made affectionate mention in his "Recollections of Christ's Hospital," Charles V. Le Grice, now of Treriefe, near Penzance, has supplied me with some particulars of his school-days, for which friends of a later date will be grateful. "Lamb," says Mr. Le Grice," was an amiable gentle boy, very sensible and keenly observing, indulged by his schoolfellows and by his
From vice, that turns a youth aside,
John L , the Less."
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."
"His delicate frame and his difficulty of utterance, which was increased by agitation, unfitted him for joining in any boisterous sport. The description which he gives, in his 'Recollections of Christ's Hospital,' of the habits and feelings of the schoolboy, is a true one in general, but is more particularly a delineation of himself—the feelings were all in his own heart—the portrait was his own: 'While others were all fire and play, he stole along with all the self-concentration of a young monk.' These habits and feelings were awakened and cherished in him by peculiar circumstances: he had been born and bred in the Inner Temple; and his parents continued to reside there while he was at school, so that he passed from cloister to cloister, and this was all the change his young mind ever knew. On every halfholiday (and there were two in the week) in ten minutes he was in the gardens, on the terrace, or at the fountain of the Temple: here was his home, here his recreation; and the influence they had on his infant mind is vividly shown in his description of the Old Benchers. He says, 'I was born and passed the first seven years of my life in the Temple:' he might have added, that here he passed a great portion of the second seven years of 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 Mi\ Salt, one of the Benchers, to whose memory his pen has given, in return for this and greater favours—I do not think it extravagant to say—immortality. 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 hia 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 i home in his usual sauntering gait towards j the Temple. As he was going down Ludgate
I was not train'd in academic bowers,
And to those learned streams I nothing owe
Which copious from those twin fair founts do flow;
Mine have been anything but studious hours.
Yet can I fancy, wandering 'mid thy towers,
lli-sclf a nursling, Granta, of thy lap;
My brow seems tightening with the doctor's cap,
And I walk gowned; feel unusual powers.
Strange forms of logic clothe my admiring speech;
Old Komus' ghost is busy at my brain;
And my skull teems with notions infinite.
Be still, ye reeds of Camus, while I teach
Truths which transcend the searching schoolmen's
hill, some gay young men, who seemed not to have passed the London Tavern without resting, exclaimed, 'The veritable Guy !— no man of straw !' and with this exclamation they took him up, making a chair with their arms, carried him, seated him on a post in St. Paul's-churchyard, and there left him. This story Lamb told so seriously, that the truth of it was never doubted. He wore his three-cornered hat many evenings, and retained the name of Guy ever after. Like Nym, he quietly sympathised in the fun, and seemed to say, 'that was the humour of it.' A clergyman of the City lately wrote to me, 'I have no recollection of Lamb. There was a gentleman called Guy, to whom you once introduced me, and with whom I have occasionally interchanged nods for more than thirty years; but how is it that I never met Mr. Lamb 1 If I was ever introduced to him, I wonder that we never came in contact during my residence for ten years in Edmonton.' Imagine this gentleman's surprise when I informed him that his nods to Mr. Guy had been constantly reciprocated by Mr. Lamb!"
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 time, after many years' absence, at the Bell at Edmonton, in June, 1833, "there never was his like! We never shall see such days as those in which Jem flourished!" All that now remains of Jem is the celebration of the suppers which he gave the young chimney-sweepers in the Elia of his friend, and a thin duodecimo volume, which he published in 1796, under the title of the "Letters of Sir John Falstaff, with a dedication (printed in black letter) to Master Samuel Irelaunde," which those who knew Lamb at the time believed to be his. "White's Letters," said Lamb, in a letter to a friend about this time, "are near publication. His frontispiece is a good conceit; Sir John learning to dance, to please Madame Page, in dress of doublet, &c., from the upper half, and modern pantaloons, with shoes of the eighteenth century, from the lower half, and the whole work is full of goodly quips and
rare fancies, 'all deftly masked like hoar antiquity'—much superior to Dr. Kenrick's 'Falstaff's Wedding.'" The work was neglected, although Lamb exerted all the influence he subsequently acquired with more popular writers to obtain for it favourable notices, as will be seen from various passages in his letters. He stuck, however, gallantly by his favourite protege; and even when he could little afford to disburse sixpence, he made a point of buying a copy of the book whenever he discovered one amidst the refuse of a bookseller's stall, and would present it to a friend in the hope of making a convert. He gave me one of these copies soon after I became acquainted with him, stating that he had purchased it in the morning for sixpence, and assuring me I should enjoy a rare treat in the perusal; but if I must confess the truth, the mask of quaintness was so closely worn, that it nearly concealed the humour. To Lamb it was, doubtless, vivified by the eye and voice of his old boon companion, forming to him 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!
But if Jem White was the companion of his lighter moods, the friend of his serious thoughts was a person of far nobler powers —Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It was his good fortune to be the schoolfellow of that extraordinary man; and if no particular intimacy had been formed between them at Christ's Hospital, a foundation was there laid for a friendship to which the world is probably indebted for all that Lamb has added to its sources of pleasure. Junior to Coleridge by two years, and far inferior to him in all scholastic acquirements, Lamb had listened to the rich discourse of " the inspired charityboy" with a wondering delight, pure from all envy, and, it may be, enhanced by his sense of his own feebleness and difficulty of expression. While Coleridge remained at the University, they met occasionally on his visits to London; and when he quitted it, and came to town, full of mantling hopes and glorious schemes, Lamb became his admiring disciple. The scene of these happy I meetings was a little public-house, called the Salutation and Cat, in the neighbourhood of Smithfield, where they used to sup, and remain long after they had "heard the chimes I at midnight." There they discoursed ofi Bowles, who was the god of Coleridge's poetical idolatry, and of Burns and Cowper, who, of recent poets, in that season of comparative barrenness, had made the deepest impression on Lamb. There Coleridge talked of " Fate, free-will, fore-knowledge absolute," to one who desired "to find no end" of the golden maze; and there he recited his early poems with that deep sweetness of intonation which sunk into the heart of his hearer. To these meetings Lamb was accustomed at all periods of his life to revert, as the season when his finer intellects were quickened into action. Shortly after they had terminated, with Coleridge's departure from London, he thus recalled them in a letter:* "When I read in your little volume your nineteenth effusion, or what you call'the Sigh,' I think I hear you again. I imagine to myself the little smoky room at the Salutation and Cat, where we have sat together through the winter nights beguiling the cares of life with Poesy." This was early in 1796! and in 1818, when dedicating his works, then first collected, to his earliest friend, he thus spoke of the same meetings: "Some of the sonnets, which shall be carelessly turned over by the general reader, may happily awaken in you remembrances which I should be sorry should be ever totally extinct,—the memory 'of summer days and of delightful years,' even so far back as those old suppers at our old Inn, — when life was fresh, and topics exhaustless,—and you first kindled in me, if not the power, yet the love of poetry, and beauty, and kindliness." And so he talked of these unforgotten hours in that short interval during which death divided them!
The warmth of Coleridge's friendship supplied the quickening impulse to Lamb's genius ; but the germ enfolding all its nice peculiarities lay ready for the influence, and
* This, and other postages I have interwoven with my own slender thread of narration, arc from letters which I have thought either too personal for entire publication at present, or not of sufficient interest, in comparison with others, to occupy a portion of the space, to which the letters are limited.
expanded into forms and hues of its own. Lamb's earliest poetry was not a faint reflection of Coleridge's, such as the young lustre of original genius may cast on a polished and sensitive mind, to glow and tremble for a season, but was streaked with delicate yet distinct traits, which proved it an emanation from within. There was, indeed, little resemblance between the two, except in the affection which they bore towards each other. Coleridge's mind, not laden as yet with the spoils of all systems and of all times, glowed with the ardour of uncontrollable purpose, and thirsted for glorious achievement and universal knowledge. The imagination, which afterwards struggled gloriously but perhaps vainly to overmaster the stupendous clouds of German philosophies, breaking them into huge masses, and tinting them with heavenly hues, then shone through the simple articles of Unitarian faith, the graceful architecture of Hartley's theory, and the well-compacted chain by which Priestley and Edwards seemed to bind all things in necessary connexion, as through transparencies of thought; and, finding no opposition worthy of its activity in this poor foreground of the mind, opened for itself a bright succession of fairy visions, which it sought to realise on earth. In its light, oppression and force seemed to vanish like the phantoms of a feverish dream; mankind were disposed in the picturesque groups of universal brotherhood; and, in far distance, the ladder which Jacob saw in solemn vision connected earth with heaven, "and the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it." Lamb hud no sympathy with these radiant hopes, except as they were part of his friend. He clung to the realities of life; to things nearest to him, which the force of habit had made dear; and caught tremblingly hold of the past. He delighted, indeed, to hear Coleridge talk of the distant and future ; to see the palm-trees wave, and the pyramids tower in the long perspective of his style ; and to catch the prophetic notes of a universal harmony trembling in his voice; but the pleasure was only that of admiration unalloyed by envy, and of the generous pride of friendship. The tendency of his mind to detect the beautiful and good in surrounding things, to nestle rather than to roam, was cherished by all the circum