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delighted to hear Charles read*. His wife 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 life-long 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 sweet, ness of his disposition won him favour from all;
*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 simplicity of expression, may show the manner in which he endeavoured to discharge his parental duties:
Pray to God to bless
JOHN L, the Less.
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 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 bloodstone. 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 'While heart-the portrait was his own: 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 half-holiday (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, affec tionate 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 memory his pen has given, in return for this and greater favours-I do not think it extravagant to sayimmortality. 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, 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 ensured 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 23d 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 two-shilling 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
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, Myself 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 Ramus' 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 vein, And half had stagger'd that stout Stagyrite!
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-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 threecornered 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? 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 deeply 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 protégé ; 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 charity-boy" 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 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 at midnight." There they discoursed of 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 for London, he thus recalled them in a letter ". "When I read in your little volume the effusion 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 sat together through the winter nights beguiling the cares of life with poetry." 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 to doubt are totally extinct, the memory of summer days and of delightful years,' even so far back as those old suppers at our old innwhen life was fresh, and topics exhaustless, and you first kindled in me, if not the power,
*This, and other passages I have interwoven with my own slender thread of narration, are 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.
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 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 had 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 circumstances of his boyish days. He had become familiar with the vestiges of antiquity, both in his school and in his home of the Temple; and these became dear to him in his serious and affectionate childhood. But, perhaps, more even than those external associations, the situation of his parents, as it was elevated and graced by their character, moulded his young thoughts to the holy habit of a liberal obedience, and unaspiring self-respect, which led rather to the embellishment of what was near than to the creation of visionary forms. He saw at home the daily beauty of a cheerful submission to a state bordering on the servile; he looked upward to his father's master, and the old Benchers who walked with him on the stately terrace, with a modest erectness of mind; and he saw in his own humble home how well the decencies of life could be maintained on slender means, by the exercise of generous principle. Another circumstance, akin to these, tended also to impart a tinge of venerableness to his early musings. His maternal grandmother was for many years housekeeper in the old and wealthy family of the Plumers of Hertfordshire, by whom she was held in true esteem; and his visits to their ancient mansion, where he had the free range of every apartment, gallery and terraced-walk, gave him " a peep at the contrasting accidents of a great fortune,” and an alliance with that gentility of soul, which to appreciate, is to share. He has beautifully recorded his own recollections of this place in the essay entitled "Blakesmoor in H-shire," in which he modestly vindicates his claim to partake in the associations of ancestry not his own, and shows the true value of high lineage by detecting the spirit of nobleness which breathes around it, for the enkindling of generous affections, not only in those who may boast of its possession, but in all who can feel its influences.
While the bias of the minds of Coleridge and Lamb thus essentially differed, it is singular that their opinions on religion, and on those
philosophical questions which border on religious belief, and receive their colour from it, agreed, although probably derived from various sources. Both were Unitarians, ardent admirers of the writings and character of Dr. Priestley, and both believers in necessity, according to Priestley's exposition, and in the inference which he drew from that doctrine respecting moral responsibility, and the ultimate destiny of the human race. The adoption of this creed arose in Lamb from the accident of education; he was brought up to receive and love it, and attended, when circumstances permitted, at the chapel at Hackney, of which Mr. Belsham, afterwards of Essex Street, was then the minister. It is remarkable that another of Lamb's most intimate friends, in whose conversation, next to that of Coleridge, he most delighted, Mr. Hazlitt, with whom he became acquainted at a subsequent time, and who came from a distant part of the country, was educated in the same faith. With Coleridge, whose early impressions were derived from the rites and services of the Church of England, Unitarianism was the result of a strong conviction; so strong, that with all the ardour of a convert, he sought to win proselytes to his chosen creed, and purposed to spend his days in preaching it. Neither of these young men, however, long continued to profess it. Lamb, in his maturer life, rarely alluded to matters of religious doctrine; and when he did so, evinced no sympathy with the professors of his once-loved creed. Hazlitt wrote of his father, who was a Unitarian minister at Wem, with honouring affection; and of his dissenting associates with respect, but he had obviously ceased to think or feel with them; and Coleridge's Remains indicate, what was well known to all who enjoyed the privilege of his conver sation, that he not only reverted to a belief in the Trinitarian mysteries, but that he was accustomed to express as much distaste for Unitarianism, and for the spirit of its more active advocates, as the benignity of his nature would allow him to feel for any human opinion honestly cherished. Perhaps this solitary approach to intolerance in the universality of Coleridge's mind arose from the disapproval with which he might justly regard his own pride of understanding, as excited in defence of the doctrines he had adopted. To him there