A SUPERANNUATED MAN Xn. PASSING THE LOVE OF WOMEN XIII. " elij aJ' . CHRONOLOGY ^ REFERENCE BOOKS INDEX PAGE 5 9 14 19 25 33 38 ELL ISTONI ANA. THE OL D MARGATE HOY. THE CONVALESCENT. SANITY OF TRUE GENIUS. CAPTAIN J ACKSON. THE SUPERANNUATED MAN. PT. Charles Lamb in “The Superannuated Man” has given an account of his feeling before and after his retirement. Lamb served as a clerk for long thirty-six years.
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The Superannuated Man by Charles Lamb. Sera tamen respexit Libertas — Virgil. A Clerk I was in London gay. —O'Keefe. If peradventure, Reader, it has. PDF | The term Essay comes from the French word essai which means 'attempt'. Pope's Moral Essays being an exception, it is a composition. If peradventure, Reader, it has been thy lot to waste the golden years of thy life — thy shining youth — in the irksome confinement of an office; to have thy prison.
I feel it by myself, but I know that my resources are sufficient; and now that those first giddy raptures have subsided, I have a quiet home-feeling of the blessedness of my condition. Retired from East India House. I felt that I had something else to do than to regret. I found her, this morning, calm and serene ; far, very, very far, from an indecent, forgetful serenity ; she has a most affectionate and tender concern for what has happened. She was living with her mother in a cottage in the village of Widford, and her real name was Ann Simmons.
When lying on bed at night he was mentally working out the very figures dealt with by him during the day. He was always apprehensive of some incorrect entry in the accounts.
Then Lamb retired from service. The sudden change from slavery to complete freedom threw his mind completely out of balance. He felt very uneasy. He did not know how to adjust himself to this new situation.
He compares his condition to that of a prisoner of Bastille, who has suddenly obtained his freedom after forty years of prison life. He felt that he had suddenly passed from kingdom of time to the Kingdom of Eternity. The fact that all time was left to him and he could enjoy it at his own sweet will produce the impression that he was dwelling in the world of Eternity. He had so much time at his disposal now that he did not understand what to do with it.
But when the first shock of bewilderment subsided, he took a sober view of his new blessings and advantage. He regulated his life, so as to make a rational use of his time. He set apart specific portions of his time for specific enjoyment.
He could work aimlessly at his sweet will. He could go to a church; he could visit a sick friend. He had, as though, infinite time at his disposal. He led the life of a Retired Leisure. He was oppressed with a fear that his mental powers were declining and he was afraid that he had made some serious mistakes in handling the figures in the account books kept by him.
His perpetual worries would be read by everybody on his countenance and indeed his health was fast breaking down. He was always apprehensive of some incorrect entries in the accounts. One day L, the junior partner, put him to questions regarding his health. Lamb confessed that his power of work was deteriorating. After this confession he was constantly suspecting that the authorities would soon terminate his service on grounds of ill-health. A week later when he was leaving office after finishing his works he received a call from the authorities.
His nervousness can be imagined. He feared that he would be dismissed from service. When he meets the whole committee of managers, the eldest partner delivered a brief lecture appreciating the life-long devoted service of Lamb. The speaker concluded his speech with a proposal that Lamb should retire with a pension amounting to two — thirds of his salary. He compares his condition to that of a prisoner of Bastille, who has suddenly passed from the kingdom of Time to the Kingdom of Eternity.
The fact that all time was left to him and he could enjoy it at his own sweet will, produced the impression that he was dwelling in the world of Eternity. But when the first shock of bewilderment subsided, he took a sober view of his blessings and advantages. But according to him Sundays were quite unsuitable for true relaxation and enjoyment. Sundays being the days of worship and religious meditation, offered little scope for enjoyment.
The atmosphere was shrouded in gloom and somberness hence it was not congenial to proper recreation. Besides, Sunday being a day of complete abstention from all works there was no noise and bustle in any street. There was no hawker crying out the nature of his goods, there was no sound of music or folk entertainment. The sounds and stirrings to Lamb were the real charm of London streets.
Left quite alone in the house, Charles was in despair: Mary will get better again, but her constantly being liable to such relapses is dreadful ; nor is it the least of our evils that her case and aU our story is so well known around us. We are in a manner marked, I am completely shipwrecked. My head is quite bad. I almost wish Mary were dead. Lamb thankfully accepted the offer, realising that nowhere could they find such privacy as " in the midst of London.
Lamb was very soon writing with proprietary satisfac- tion about a brace of birds " now dangling before our kitchen blaze. He made httle jaunts. He had already paid a visit to Cambridge, for Lloyd was lately married and living near Cambridge, and Lamb had stayed with Lloyd and his young wife, and made the acquaintance of Thomas Manning. Manning, then a brilHant and eccentric mathematical tutor at Cambridge, was afterwards to be known as an explorer in China and Thibet, and the greatest Chinese scholar of his time.
To-day he figures in biographical dictionaries as " traveller, and friend of Charles Lamb. Another new friend of this year, introduced by Cole- ridge, was William Godwin, author of Caleh Williams, then a man of five and forty, with whom Lamb was " a good deal pleased. Lamb said, " a very well- behaved, decent man, nothing brilliant about him or imposing " — a man with " neither horns nor claws " ; in fact, " quite a tame creature " in spite of his " noisy fame.
The modest success achieved by Rosamund had set Charles to work on a five-act tragedy in blank verse, John Woodvil, or Pride's Cure, as it was at first called. But he declined the play as " unsuitable " ; and once more Lamb was dependent on his clerk's salary, with what additional he could make by his little contributions to the Morning Post, the Chronicle, and the Albion, The editor of the Morning Post employed him to furnish " witty paragraphs " at the rate of sixpence a joke — six jokes a day!
And he was glad to do it, though it meant getting up two hours before breakfast. Poverty and popularity seemed to go hand in hand.
Lamb had so increased his circle of friends that Gutch's rooms in Southampton Buildings resembled at times a "' Minister's levee. Lamb was dehghted ; he would have " all the privacy of a house without the encumbrances. These are thy gods, oh London! All the streets and pavements are pure gold, I warrant you.
But Mary Lamb was more confidential to her friend. Miss Stoddart: Six jokes a day, before breakfast, were not so exhausting as making metrical versions of Coleridge's translations from the German: But even poverty takes a hoHday now and then. It was their first sight of mountains. They did not tell Coleridge they were coming ; there was no time.
They simply arrived, having travelled by coach as far as Penrith and then taken a post-chaise to Keswick. They found Coleridge "in a comfortable house, quite enveloped on all sides by a net of mountains: The Lambs had never seen anything Hke it before. It was a day that will stand out, hke a mountain, I am sure, in my life. In the pure, caller air of Cumberland, " wandering free among the moun- tains," he felt many things possible.
Whether I shall be happier or not remains to be proved. I shall certainly be more happy in a morning ; but whether I shall not sacrifice the fat, and the marrow, and the kidneys, i. Manning, if I should have formed a diabolical resolution by the time you come to England, of not admitting any spirituous liquors into my house, will you be my guest on such shameworthy terms? Is Hfe, with such limitations, worth trying? The truth is that my liquors bring a nest of friendly harpies about my house, who consume me.
This is a pitiful tale. Tennyson's Head Waiter at the Cock must have been quite a young man in those days. And so, though Charles Lamb, with his love of hyperbole and his inveterate habit of making " copy " out of himself, has been his own worst accuser, there is no doubt that he used too often to come home, as poor Mary expressed it, " very smoky and drinky " ; that he did find alcohol the one strong temptation of an exceptionally noble, unselfish, and unhappy life.
And there is no doubt that he fought against it, bravely, if intermittently. A brain like Charles Lamb's ought surely never to have been touched by alcohol. Frail in body, nervous and excitable, he was easily affected by it.
According to Procter, a very Httle liquor dis- turbed his speech, " which at best was but an eloquent stammer. Perhaps, after all, the best proof that Lamb, in spite of his undeniably " too much punch and too much tobacco " was no habitual drunkard. You could not mistake him. He was somewhat stiff in manner, and almost clerical in dress, which in- dicated much wear.
He had a long, melancholy face, with keen, penetrating eyes, and he walked with a short, resolute step, citywards. London, and her lamps of a night, moved his soul, though he was but an onlooker on much that his " Mahometan Paradise " offered ; and there was always the other thing — a pale, daylight idyll — that pleased his Puritan moods. She died about a month since. If you have interest with the Abbe de Lisle, you may get 'em translated ; he has done as much for the Georgics.
A month or more hath she been dead, Yet cannot I by force be led To think upon the wormy bed, And her together. A springy motion in her gait, A rising step, did indicate Of pride and joy no common rate. That flush' d her spirit.
I know not by what name beside I shall it call: Her parents held the Quaker rule, Which doth the human feeling cool, But she was trained in Nature's school, Nature had blest her. A waking eye, a prying mind, A heart that stirs is hard to bind, A hawk's keen sight ye cannot blind, Ye could not Hester.
My sprightly neighbour, gone before To that unknown and silent shore, Shall we not meet, as heretofore, Some summer morning, When from thy cheerful eyes a ray Hath struck a bliss upon the day, A bliss that would not go away, A sweet forewarning?
If ever Charles acted unwisely, it was because "my guardian angel was away at the time. There were always premonitory symptoms ; irritabihty, or other change of manner. Charles knew them weU, and knew that when they appeared, he must act at once. And then the brother would " take her under his arm to Hoxton Asylum.
Was it a plan of co- partnership in Hterary enterprise, the first dream of those books '' by Charles and Mary Lamb " that were to win them hterary popularity? If so, it was indeed to prove a success. For not long after this, Charles and Mary were actually writing together their Tales from Shakespeare, which were pubUshed in for " Godwin's bookseller " at the Juvenile Library, in two volumes, " embelHshed with copperplates. She is doing for Godwin's bookseller twenty of Shakespeare's plays, to be made into children's tales.
Six are already done by her; to wit. The Merchant of Venice is in forwardness. I have done OthellOy Macbeth, and mean to do all the tragedies.
It is to bring in sixty guineas. Mary has done them capitally, I think you'd think. H — ; and in June , he wrote in excellent spirits to Wordsworth. His play had been accepted by the proprietors of Drury Lane, "to be brought forward when the proper oppor- tunity serves. The chief part was given to Elhston. Lamb's anxiety was great. Nothing if it fails ; and there never was a more ticklish thing. The whole depends on the manner in which the name is brought out, which I value myself on, as a chef-d'oeuvre.
H — when the name was brought out! On that eventful night, Charles and Mary sat together " next the orchestra in the pit. H — , which came out last night, and failed. We are determined not to be cast down. I am going to leave off tobacco, and then we must thrive. A smoking man must write smoky farces. Dear Wordsworth, Mr. H — came out last night, and failed. I had many fears ; the subject was not substantial enough. We are pretty stout about it ; have had plenty of condoHng friends ; but, after all, we had rather it should have succeeded.
A hundred hisses outweigh a thousand claps. The former come more directly from the heart. Well, 'tis withdrawn, and there is an end. Better luck to us. Only a month later, in January , Lamb had the pleasure of sending off a present to Wordsworth ; to Wordsworth, who always made a point of sending Lamb each " work " of his as it came out: The rest is my sister's. We think Pericles of hers is best, and Othello of mine.
And it was Mrs. Godwin, the widow Clairmont, who was responsible for their selec- tion ; she was, in fact, " Godwin's bookseller " at the Juvenile Library. Both of these books, the Tales from Shakespeare, and Mrs, Leicester'' s School, were to become at once popular. Both passed into second and third, and subsequent editions. Leicester's School became a favourite book in many an EngHsh schoolroom, and the Tales from Shakespeare has long been a classic in our language.
Thousands of British children have sucked in their Shakespeare, without knowing it, from these simple stories by Charles and Mary Lamb. And the year was an eventful one in other ways. Many were the forebodings of friends on both sides — afterwards justified — as to the wisdom of this union.
A quaint little wedding-group it must have been. Mary Lamb, for the occasion, blossomed out into the character of bridesmaid ; and she seems to have had considerable difficulty in making up her mind whether to wear white musHn, or — which she greatly preferred — a, certain silk dress of a '' dead-whiteish bloom colour " that Manning had sent her all the way from China.
In her new dress let us take it for granted it was Manning's silk Mary must have passed quite close to her mother's grave in St. Andrew's churchyard, where also her father and Aunt Hetty lay buried. The same desire had once, he tells us, in the same way, assailed him at a funeral! A year later, the Lambs were obliged to change their lodgings, and they took chambers at No. As at every move. Lamb made the very best of his new surroundings. He meant, he told Manning, to live and die in No.
Do you know it? I was bom near it, and used to drink at that pump when I was a Rechabite of six years old. I am weaker, and bear it worse than I ever did. But I hope we shall be comfortable by and by. The rooms are delicious, and the best look backwards into Hare Court, where there is a pump always going.
Just now it is dry. Hare Court trees come in at the window, so that 'tis like Hving in a garden. Thou art health and hberty and strength ; and he that has thee may rattle his pockets at the Devil. They returned to town in ex- cellent health and spirits ; had walked from eight to twenty miles a day, in constant sunshine.
Lamb " upwards to " Pope Innocent " — " higher than which is nothing upon earth. Battle ; and many more. And what a company it was that met together on Wednesday evenings in those high-up chambers in the Inner Temple! The furniture was old-fashioned ; the books were " ragged veterans " ; the ceiUng was low.
In the middle of the room stood the old mahogany card-table, opened out, with the little snuff-box set ready on it. On the side- table were the cold meats and hot roasted potatoes, the " vast jug of porter " from Fleet Street's " best tap.
What drew these people together under this roof, high up in the Temple? A small, spare man, in black, with a head worthy of Aristotle, and a little gentle-faced old maid in a rather extinguishing mob-cap? His serious conversation, Hke his serious writing, is his best.
No one ever stammered out such fine, piquant, deep, eloquent things, in half-a-dozen sentences, as he does. His jests scald like tears ; and he probes a question with a play upon words. It was this visit that suggested " Oxford in the Vacation " ; and Charles and Mary and Hazlitt must together have watched in that old college kitchen the " Spits that have cooked for Chaucer. Talfourd, the serjeant and judge, the original of " Traddles " in David Copper field, was to become Lamb's executor, and biographer, and devoted friend.
In he was a lad of nineteen, full of Hterary en- thusiasm, and a pupil of the great Chitty, whose chambers were on the next staircase to Lamb's, in Inner Temple Lane. Talfourd had read some of Lamb's verses, and searched the London bookstalls for a copy of Rosamund Gray ; and when he found it, in a httle shop in Holbom, his admiration for this '' miniature romance " was such that his anxiety to see its author " rose almost to the height of pain.
Charles Lamb " ; and one night about ten o'clock, as soon as Talfourd could leave Chitty's ofiice, he walked through a deep snow to Weymouth Street, and arrived in time only to meet Lamb departing!
But in kindness to the young hero-worshipper Lamb stayed for half an hour longer ; and then together, through the winter night, they walked back to their "common home," the Temple. Twenty years of intimacy were to follow this meeting. Lamb was delighted ; he had never been so praised before. And not long afterwards, knowing very well what would please the boy, he arrived in Chitty's office, almost breathless, to ask " Mr.
Talfourd " to meet '' Mr. Wordsworth," who was in London, and actually at that very moment in Lamb's parlour, next door! Mary's more frequent attacks of insanity, and absences from home, Lamb's restless inabihty to do hterary work with so many " friendly harpies " about him, pointed to the wisdom of a change of abode. The " Knocketemals," as he called his nightly visitors, were dear to him ; but he was " over- companied.
L,", but always " C. He was, in fact, never alone, except on his morning walks to the India House, which were, for that reason, like " treading on sands of gold. Bow Street, where the thieves are examined, within a few yards of us. Mary had not been here f our-and-twenty hours before she saw a thief.
Mary could sit all day with her sewing at the window — looking out for thieves — while Charles was at the India House ; and, in the evening, after their simple meal together, they could go to the pit at Drury Lane, or take a stroll past all the theatre doors. When Mary kept well, they forgot they had ever been " assailable. The wind is tempered to the shorn Lambs. In summer, they turned countrjrwards ; usually to Dalston, which was not the Dalston of to-day, but a place where they walked in meadows and picked primroses ; '' and Mary corrects me when I call 'em cowslips.
The London was a new magazine, started in January , with a brilhant Httle band of contributors under the clever editorship of John Scott. Hazhtt, who introduced Lamb to the magazine, Gary, the " Dante man," Allan Cunningham, Bernard Barton, the young Thomas Carlyle, Savage Landor, Procter Barry Corn- wall , De Quincey, Keats, Tom Hood, and the afterwards notorious criminal Wainewright the Janus Weathercock of its pages all wrote for the London Magazine, The pay was good — a pound a page for print, and two pounds for poetry — but, according to Procter, Lamb received " two or three times the amount the others did " for his Essays of Elia, In the summer of John Scott, having involved himself in a bitter pen- and-ink quarrel with Blackwood's Magazine, fought a duel " in the uncertain gUmmer of moonHght " at the back of Chalk Farm which really was a farm in , and met his death " from the hand of one who went out resolved not to harm him.
Taylor and Hessey, who edited it themselves, employing Tom Hood as their versatile sub-editor, and gave their memorable monthly dinners to the staff in their offices in Waterloo Place. Lamb himself tells how he came to use the name of Elia: It belonged to an Italian clerk in the old South Sea House, with whom Lamb worked when he was there as a boy, and whom he had met from time to time ever since.
For Charles Lamb and EHa, the essayist and the man, are one and indivisible. He once wrote a sonnet to John: In Lamb was growing ominously tired of " official confinement," and " a certain deadness to everything " followed on the death of his brother.
He sat, he told Wordsworth, " like Philomel all day but not singing , with my breast against this thorn of a desk. I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him. I missed his kindness, and I missed his crossness, and wished him to be ahve again, to be quarrelling with him.
The children of Alice call Bartrum father. We are nothing ; less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe millions of ages, before we have existence, and a name. Bartrum take in the London Magazine? And if so, what did Mr. Bartrum think of the reference to himself in this particular number? And did the blue eyes of Anna, who was the mother of up- growing Bartrums, suffuse over poor Charles Lamb's " Dream-Children "?
Perhaps people had told her — as the clerks of the old South Sea House had told John — that " Charles Lamb was growing famous. No dream-child was this, with the blue eyes and fair hair, but a vivacious little creature with rich Southern colouring: Pitt," the poet Gray, and the poet Wordsworth ; and Charles Isola, her father, had been one of the " Esquire bedells " of the university.
Emma was at school near Cambridge, and when the Lambs first saw her was spending her hohdays with an aunt, in Mrs. Paris's house. Charles and Mary took an extraordinary liking to the child, and on her next holidays they " begged her of her aunt.
Perhaps it was with Emma's visits in view, for the lodgings over the brazier's shop in Co vent Garden were circumscribed as well as noisy, that Charles and Mary decided once again to change their abode. You enter without passage into a cheerful dining-room, all studded over and rough with old books ; and above is a Hghtsome drawing-room, three windows, full of choice prints. I feel like a great lord, never having had a house before.
V Barbauld what could be more respectable? He was pulled out, wrapped in hot blankets, and made deUrious with brandy and water; and in this plight Charles found his old friend on his own return from the India House. But, on the whole, though there was a good deal of talk about the advisabihty of putting up palings, LamVs " friendly harpies " took kindly to Colebrook Cottage.
They called it " Petty Venice," and found their way out to it often enough, though in those days they were obHged to walk.
One of them speaks of the friendly gatherings there, calling it a house of call for all denominations, where all differences were left with the walking-sticks inside the front door. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy stayed with the Lambs there, Tom Hood, on his first visit to Lamb, found them there, sitting with Charles and Mary by the " domestic hearth.
In that year, , one or two things happened to Charles Lamb besides the move into Colebrook Row. He saw his Essays of Elia published in volume form by Taylor and Hessey ; he made his Will ; and he quarrelled with Southey.
The volume of essays did not sell very quickly. The quarrel with Southey, on the other hand, was a heartrending affair. Gifford had mutilated Lamb's own article in it about Wordsworth's Excursion ; and there had also been the allusion in its pages to Lamb's Confessions of a Drunkard, as a " genuine description of the state of the writer. That might have injured me alive and dead. I am in a pubUc office, and my life is insured. Mary knew nothing about this letter till it had come out: I have been fighting against a shadow.
If Charles Lamb felt like a " great lord " in the little cottage in Colebrook Row, Mary, in her mob-cap, sitting opposite to him on the domestic hearth, must assuredly have felt like a great lady. There is no happier ghmpse of their companionship together than in the essay " Old China," published in the London Magazine in March Then, brother and sister were no longer poor: Quite saved my credit! He was married himself to a severe step- wife, " the d — d Day-hag Business ": I come, my dear.
Where is the Indigo Sale Book? He was only fifty, though he had been three and thirty years at the desk. Life had held for him bitterer experiences than most men are called upon to bear. There can be no conception of the wear and tear, to a temperament like Charles Lamb's, of those long years of self-imposed duty, of Mary's constantly recurring attacks of madness and periods of dull depression. Everything was sub- servient to Mary's mental condition: He was beginning to feel " ominously tired," and to show it.
His " spring of mind," says Procter, was beginning to " lose its power of rebound. His best friends realised that it was time Charles Lamb retired; and some of them had been quietly acting in his behalf. Tuthill of Cavendish Square had been to see him, and was able to certify him as TioTi-capacitated, if not m-capacitated, for business. Not without fear and trembling was Lamb prevailed on to send in his resignation to the directors of the India House, and to await the result.
But clerks of the India House held their posts for more than three and thirty years. And then one day they sent for him. Who does not re- member that passage in his essay " The Superannuated Man "? I thought now my time is surely come, I have done for myseK, I am going to be told that they have no longer occasion for me. L — , I could see, smiled at the terror I was in, which was a Httle rehef to me — when to my utter astonishment B — , the eldest partner, began a formal harangue to me on the length of my services, my very meritorious conduct during the whole of the time V 76 CHARLES LAMB the deuce, thought I, how did he find out that?
I protest I never had the confidence to think as much. He went on to descant on the expediency of retiring at a certain time of hfe how my heart panted!
The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelmed me. It was Hke passing from life into eternity. At first, Lamb went about as if the sun were in his eyes. The sense of relief, and freedom, and perpetual " holydays " fairly dazzled him.
Four hundred and fifty a year, with nine pounds a year deducted towards Mary's pension in case she should outlive him, Mary taking the position ordinarily accorded by the Company to a wife! It was stupendous.
Lamb of the India House. Man, I verily beHeve, is out of his element as long as he is operative. Or perhaps he did know it. In summer he took lodgings for Mary and himself, at Enfield — coaches ran twice a week to Enfield in those days. They took long country walks together; Mary could stiU walk her dozen miles in a day. Tom Hood gave Charles a big dog; but Dash the friendly harpies used to say he ought to have been called Rover was always running away ; and poor Charles, in his character of Retired Leisure, was quite unable to run after Dash.
His friends used to meet him in the inner circle of the Regent's Park, patiently waiting at a gap in the palings where Dash had last disappeared, because Dash always came back again, if you waited long enough.
The brightest thing in all these superannuated years was Euama Isola, the " girl of gold. With soft and lady speech the first applies The mild correctives that to grace belong To her redundant friend, who her defies With jest, and mad discourse, and bursts of song.
O differing pair, yet sweetly thus agreeing, What music from your happy discord rises! While your companion, hearing each, and seeing, Nor this, nor that, but both together, prizes ; This lesson teaching, which our souls may strike, That harmonies may be in things unlike!
I have taken the prettiest, compacted house I ever saw. Lamb was on his way back to the house-agents, and that was his fashion of announcing that he had taken the premises. But she did learn: Many of Lamb's friends knew her only as "a silent brown girl " who rambled about his house during the holidays.
But she shared the theatre-visits and all the other Httle gaieties that Charles and Mary could afford. Gillman's pudding did for me! Moxon had worked his way steadily upward from the day in when he had come to London to find employment in a bookseller's shop. He had been with Longman, and Lamb had recom- mended him to Colbum, and then he had become Hurst's Hterary adviser ; and in the meantime he had fallen in love with Emma. Emma, with her httle capital of languages and music, had found a situation as governess in a Suffolk rectory, where she was treated like a daughter of the house by the good parson and his whole family.
It was here that Emma was very ill, and the rector's wife nursed her so carefully ; and Charles and Mary at Enfield were shaken by anxiety until their nut-brown maid was pronounced out of danger. Lamb himself, very shaky still, went by coach to fetch her home again. On the return journey Lamb made Emma laugh by his answer to the " well-informed man " who had plied him with so many troublesome questions.
It was almost as good as being at the India House again. And he wrote his " Popular Fallacies " for the New Monthly Magazine, the London Magazine being now defunct, and amused himself with album- verses.
The editor of the Gem refused his " Gipsy's Malison," as calculated to " shock all mothers " ; but it was accepted by Maga ; and surely Lamb never wrote anjrthing more passionately human than these hnes: Kiss, baby, kiss ; mother s lips shine by kisses, Choke the warm breath that else would fall in blessings ; Black manhood comes, when turbulent guilty blisses Tend thee the kiss that poisons 'mid caressings.
Hang, baby, hang, mother's love loves such forces, Strain the fond neck that bends still to thy clinging. Black manhood comes, when violent lawless courses Leaves thee a spectacle in rude air swinging.
There was nothing now to hinder the young people's marrying. With my perfect approval and more than concurrence she is to be wedded to Moxon, at the end of August. So ' perish the roses and the flowers ' — how is it? It was a happy coincidence that Emtoia's " silk dress " came home at the identical time that Talfourd, too, " took silk. The furniture, all except the old bookcase that held the " ragged veterans," was sold.
Mary was in a pitiable condition, worse than she had ever been before. Charles reahsed sadly that Mary was no longer fit to live with him, " So I am come to hve with her," he wrote. Brother and sister were in a Uttle cottage in Edmonton, belonging to a Mr. Walden, " who take in patients, and have arranged to lodge and board us only.
Walden had done a clever thing in his absence. Taking a glass of wine in her hand, she had looked at Mary Lamb. Moxon," she said, and behold! In that moment, Mary was restored to her senses. That evening " we " played seven games of picquet together. When she is not violent, her rambling chat is better to me than the sense and sanity of this world. And he was still able to walk. Always now, along the road " dear Londonwards.
The bare road is cheerful, and almost as good as a street. I saunter into the Red Lion. His face was sHghtly cut, and in a few days, erysipelas set in. He sank so rapidly that when TaKourd and Crabb Robinson arrived, he did not recognise them. And, when he was dying, Mary could not even be told ; she did not comprehend. They buried him in Edmonton Churchyard, in a spot which he had himself pointed out to Mary, in one of their last Httle walks together.
And she? With this, and the India House pension, Mary was comfortably provided for. Afterwards, before she left Edmonton, she used to make her Httle evening walk to Charles's grave. John's Wood, tiU Brother and sister were buried in the same grave.
The Mighty Debt was paid. Verbal expression of his own thoughts and feelings had been to a considerable extent Hmited by an " eloquent stammer " ; and the same fate that had surrounded him with good old English books had also very early put the pen into his own hand. There is genius in the aching in- tensity of the " Old Famihar Faces " ; there is the swing and throb of human passion in the " Gipsy's Malison " ; and there is a certain exquisitejiess in those formal little elegiac verses, " Hester.
His first appearance in the field of critical hterature was in his volume of Specimens of the English Dramatic Poets, published in , when he was thirty-three; but his further and stronger work in this same field is to be found in those separate papers, contributed from time to time, after that date, to the various periodicals of his day. It was in the Reflector, edited by his friend Leigh Hunt, to which Lamb contributed so much through the year , that he wrote on the tragedies of Shakespeare and on the genius and character of Hogarth.
And, as years went on, it was always in such contributed papers of the essay- type, more or less fugitive, more or less characteristically valuable, that he expressed himseK. MUa contain most of the best of all. What is it — what blend of Hterary quaHties — that made Eha so beloved among English writers?
What is it that made Southey say of him, " His memory will retain its fragrance as long as the best spice that ever was expended on one of the Pharaohs. The boy had said good-bye to scholarship when he put off the long blue coat and yellow stockings. The Oxford of his inteUect was Oxford in the vacation, where he could finger a foHo in the Bodleian, or stand entranced before " spits that have cooked for Chaucer. Manning himself had never been able to carry him further than the first proposition in EucHd.
I He cared nothing for poHtics or parties, and never remembered what ministry was in power. The death of the Princess Charlotte and the infant Hope of England was chronicled by him as a hohday for the clerks of the East India House. For the Unitarian in Charles Lamb had long since become the " One Goddite " ; though he had never ceased to look for " silent Scripture " in all wisdom, and spoke of Christ as having '' put on the semblance of Man.
He thought and wrote very much as he walked: He V took mankind into his confidence, not afraid to bare his mind and heart. His fervours and simpHcities, his httle foibles and prejudices, would not be laughed at ; his Umitations, his very frailties, would not be harshly judged, by the people on the busy pavement — by man- kind. These men, and the people on the pavement, were they not all his friends? And " the general " has responded. Perhaps this is why Wellington, our hero of war, remains the " Iron Duke," while Nelson, not wholly invulnerable, is a nation's hero and a nation's darling.
Would Prince Charlie have been quite such a hero of romance, if he had not lost CuUoden and wandered with a price upon his head? And, among the heroes of literature, the memory of " Sir Walter " is cherished not only as the author of the Waverley Novels, but as the man who raised a castle in the air, and saw it crumble, and with his right hand " paid for all. And so with the memory of Elia. It is the young city clerk, with the nervous stutter, the Titian head.
This is the Elia whom Thackeray has called " Saint Charles. Charles Lamb, born Feb. At Christ's Hospital. In service of South Sea House. Clerk in East India House. At No. Contributed Sonnets to Coleridge's volume of Poems, Cottle. Rosamund Gray published.