The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb, Volume 2
Charles Lamb

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This volume contains the work by which Charles Lamb is best known and
upon which his fame will rest--_Elia_ and _The Last Essays of Elia_.
Although one essay is as early as 1811, and one is perhaps as late as
1832, the book represents the period between 1820 and 1826, when Lamb
was between forty-five and fifty-one. This was the richest period of
his literary life.

The text of the present volume is that of the first edition of each
book--_Elia_, 1823, and _The Last Essays of Elia_, 1833. The principal
differences between the essays as they were printed in the _London
Magazine_ and elsewhere, and as they were revised for book form by
their author, are shown in the Notes, which, it should be pointed out,
are much fuller in my large edition. The three-part essay on "The Old
Actors" (_London Magazine_, February, April, and October, 1822), from
which Lamb prepared the three essays; "On Some of the Old Actors,"
"The Artificial Comedy of the Last Century," and "The Acting of
Munden," is printed in the Appendix as it first appeared. The absence
of the "Confessions of a Drunkard" from this volume is due to the fact
that Lamb did not include it in the first edition of _The Last Essays
of Elia_. It was inserted later, in place of "A Death-Bed," on account
of objections that were raised to that essay by the family of
Randal Norris. The story is told in the notes to "A Death-Bed." The
"Confessions of a Drunkard" will be found in Vol. I.

In Mr. Bedford's design for the cover of this edition certain Elian
symbolism will be found. The upper coat of arms is that of Christ's
Hospital, where Lamb was at school; the lower is that of the Inner
Temple, where he was born and spent many years. The figures at the
bells are those which once stood out from the facade of St. Dunstan's
Church in Fleet Street, and are now in Lord Londesborough's garden in
Regent's Park. Lamb shed tears when they were removed. The tricksy
sprite and the candles (brought by Betty) need no explanatory words of




The South-Sea House 1 342
Oxford in the Vacation 8 345
Christ's Hospital Five and Thirty Years Ago 14 350
The Two Races of Men 26 355
New Year's Eve 31 358
Mrs. Battle's Opinions on Whist 37 361
A Chapter on Ears 43 363
All Fools' Day 48 367
A Quaker's Meeting 51 367
The Old and the New Schoolmaster 56 369
Valentine's Day 63 370
Imperfect Sympathies 66 370
Witches, and other Night-Fears 74 372
My Relations 80 373
Mackery End, in Hertfordshire 86 375
Modern Gallantry 90 377
The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple 94 379
Grace Before Meat 104 384
My First Play 110 385
Dream-Children; A Reverie 115 388
Distant Correspondents 118 389
The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers 124 390
A Complaint of the Decay of Beggars in the Metropolis 130 392
A Dissertation upon Roast Pig 137 395
A Bachelor's Complaint of the Behaviour of Married
People 144 397
On Some Old Actors 150 397
On the Artificial Comedy of the Last Century 161 399
On the Acting of Munden 168 400


Preface, by a Friend of the late Elia 171 402
Blakesmoor in H----shire 174 405
Poor Relations 178 408
Stage Illusion 185 408
To the Shade of Elliston 188 409
Ellistoniana 190 410
Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading 195 411
The Old Margate Hoy 201 415
The Convalescent 208 416
Sanity of True Genius 212 416
Captain Jackson 215 416
The Superannuated Man 219 417
The Genteel Style in Writing 226 420
Barbara S---- 230 421
The Tombs in the Abbey 235 423
Amicus Redivivus 237 424
Some Sonnets of Sir Philip Sydney 242 426
Newspapers Thirty-five Years Ago 249 428
Barrenness of the Imaginative Faculty in the
Productions of Modern Art 256 433
Rejoicings upon the New Year's Coming of Age 266 436
The Wedding 271 436
The Child Angel: a Dream 276 437
A Death-Bed 279 437
Old China 281 438
Popular Fallacies--
I. That a Bully is always a Coward 286 440
II. That Ill-gotten Gain never Prospers 287 440
III. That a Man must not Laugh at his own Jest 287 440
IV. That such a One shows his Breeding.--That
it is Easy to Perceive he is no Gentleman 288 440
V. That the Poor Copy the Vices of the Rich 288 440
VI. That Enough is as Good as a Feast 290 440
VII. Of Two Disputants, the Warmest is Generally
in the Wrong 291 440
VIII. That Verbal Allusions are not Wit, because
they will not Bear a Translation 292 440
IX. That the Worst Puns are the Best 292 440
X. That Handsome is that Handsome does 294 441
XI. That We must not look a Gift-horse in the
Mouth 296 441
XII. That Home is Home though it is never so
Homely 298 442
XIII. That You must Love Me, and Love my Dog 302 442
XIV. That We should Rise with the Lark 305 443
XV. That We should Lie Down with the Lamb 308 443
XVI. That a Sulky Temper is a Misfortune 309 443


On Some of the Old Actors (_London Magazine_, Feb., 1822) 315 444
The Old Actors (_London Magazine_, April, 1822) 322 444
The Old Actors (_London Magazine_, October, 1822) 331 444




From a Drawing by Daniel Maclise, now preserved in the Victoria and
Albert Museum.


(_From the 1st Edition, 1823_)


Reader, in thy passage from the Bank--where thou hast been receiving
thy half-yearly dividends (supposing thou art a lean annuitant
like myself)--to the Flower Pot, to secure a place for Dalston, or
Shacklewell, or some other thy suburban retreat northerly,--didst thou
never observe a melancholy looking, handsome, brick and stone edifice,
to the left--where Threadneedle-street abuts upon Bishopsgate? I dare
say thou hast often admired its magnificent portals ever gaping wide,
and disclosing to view a grave court, with cloisters and pillars, with
few or no traces of goers-in or comers-out--a desolation something
like Balclutha's.[1]

This was once a house of trade,--a centre of busy interests. The
throng of merchants was here--the quick pulse of gain--and here some
forms of business are still kept up, though the soul be long since
fled. Here are still to be seen stately porticos; imposing staircases;
offices roomy as the state apartments in palaces--deserted, or thinly
peopled with a few straggling clerks; the still more sacred interiors
of court and committee rooms, with venerable faces of beadles,
door-keepers--directors seated in form on solemn days (to proclaim a
dead dividend,) at long worm-eaten tables, that have been mahogany,
with tarnished gilt-leather coverings, supporting massy silver
inkstands long since dry;--the oaken wainscots hung with pictures
of deceased governors and sub-governors, of queen Anne, and the
two first monarchs of the Brunswick dynasty;--huge charts, which
subsequent discoveries have antiquated;--dusty maps of Mexico, dim as
dreams,--and soundings of the Bay of Panama!--The long passages hung
with buckets, appended, in idle row, to walls, whose substance might
defy any, short of the last, conflagration;--with vast ranges of
cellarage under all, where dollars and pieces of eight once lay,
an "unsunned heap," for Mammon to have solaced his solitary heart
withal,--long since dissipated, or scattered into air at the blast of
the breaking of that famous BUBBLE.--

Such is the SOUTH-SEA HOUSE. At least, such it was forty years ago,
when I knew it,--a magnificent relic! What alterations may have been
made in it since, I have had no opportunities of verifying. Time, I
take for granted, has not freshened it. No wind has resuscitated the
face of the sleeping waters. A thicker crust by this time stagnates
upon it. The moths, that were then battening upon its obsolete ledgers
and day-books, have rested from their depredations, but other light
generations have succeeded, making fine fretwork among their single
and double entries. Layers of dust have accumulated (a superfoetation
of dirt!) upon the old layers, that seldom used to be disturbed, save
by some curious finger, now and then, inquisitive to explore the
mode of book-keeping in Queen Anne's reign; or, with less hallowed
curiosity, seeking to unveil some of the mysteries of that tremendous
HOAX, whose extent the petty peculators of our day look back upon with
the same expression of incredulous admiration, and hopeless ambition
of rivalry, as would become the puny face of modern conspiracy
contemplating the Titan size of Vaux's superhuman plot.

Peace to the manes of the BUBBLE! Silence and destitution are upon thy
walls, proud house, for a memorial!

Situated as thou art, in the very heart of stirring and living
commerce,--amid the fret and fever of speculation--with the Bank,
and the 'Change, and the India-house about thee, in the hey-day of
present prosperity, with their important faces, as it were, insulting
thee, their _poor neighbour out of business_--to the idle and merely
contemplative,--to such as me, old house! there is a charm in thy
quiet:--a cessation--a coolness from business--an indolence almost
cloistral--which is delightful! With what reverence have I paced thy
great bare rooms and courts at eventide! They spoke of the past:--the
shade of some dead accountant, with visionary pen in ear, would flit
by me, stiff as in life. Living accounts and accountants puzzle
me. I have no skill in figuring. But thy great dead tomes, which
scarce three degenerate clerks of the present day could lift from
their enshrining shelves--with their old fantastic flourishes, and
decorative rubric interlacings--their sums in triple columniations,
set down with formal superfluity of cyphers--with pious sentences at
the beginning, without which our religious ancestors never ventured to
open a book of business, or bill of lading--the costly vellum covers
of some of them almost persuading us that we are got into some _better
library_,--are very agreeable and edifying spectacles. I can look
upon these defunct dragons with complacency. Thy heavy odd-shaped
ivory-handled penknives (our ancestors had every thing on a larger
scale than we have hearts for) are as good as any thing from
Herculaneum. The pounce-boxes of our days have gone retrograde.

The very clerks which I remember in the South-Sea House--I speak of
forty years back--had an air very different from those in the public
offices that I have had to do with since. They partook of the genius
of the place!

They were mostly (for the establishment did not admit of superfluous
salaries) bachelors. Generally (for they had not much to do) persons
of a curious and speculative turn of mind. Old-fashioned, for a reason
mentioned before. Humorists, for they were of all descriptions; and,
not having been brought together in early life (which has a tendency
to assimilate the members of corporate bodies to each other), but,
for the most part, placed in this house in ripe or middle age, they
necessarily carried into it their separate habits and oddities,
unqualified, if I may so speak, as into a common stock. Hence they
formed a sort of Noah's ark. Odd fishes. A lay-monastery. Domestic
retainers in a great house, kept more for show than use. Yet pleasant
fellows, full of chat--and not a few among them had arrived at
considerable proficiency on the German flute.

The cashier at that time was one Evans, a Cambro-Briton. He had
something of the choleric complexion of his countrymen stamped on his
visage, but was a worthy sensible man at bottom. He wore his hair, to
the last, powdered and frizzed out, in the fashion which I remember
to have seen in caricatures of what were termed, in my young days,
_Maccaronies_. He was the last of that race of beaux. Melancholy
as a gib-cat over his counter all the forenoon, I think I see him,
making up his cash (as they call it) with tremulous fingers, as if
he feared every one about him was a defaulter; in his hypochondry
ready to imagine himself one; haunted, at least, with the idea of
the possibility of his becoming one: his tristful visage clearing
up a little over his roast neck of veal at Anderton's at two (where
his picture still hangs, taken a little before his death by desire
of the master of the coffee-house, which he had frequented for the
last five-and-twenty years), but not attaining the meridian of its
animation till evening brought on the hour of tea and visiting. The
simultaneous sound of his well-known rap at the door with the stroke
of the clock announcing six, was a topic of never-failing mirth in the
families which this dear old bachelor gladdened with his presence.
Then was his _forte_, his glorified hour! How would he chirp, and
expand, over a muffin! How would he dilate into secret history! His
countryman, Pennant himself, in particular, could not be more eloquent
than he in relation to old and new London--the site of old theatres,
churches, streets gone to decay--where Rosamond's pond stood--the
Mulberry-gardens--and the Conduit in Cheap--with many a pleasant
anecdote, derived from paternal tradition, of those grotesque figures
which Hogarth has immortalized in his picture of _Noon_,--the worthy
descendants of those heroic confessors, who, flying to this country,
from the wrath of Louis the Fourteenth and his dragoons, kept alive
the flame of pure religion in the sheltering obscurities of Hog-lane,
and the vicinity of the Seven Dials!

Deputy, under Evans, was Thomas Tame. He had the air and stoop of a
nobleman. You would have taken him for one, had you met him in one of
the passages leading to Westminster-hall. By stoop, I mean that gentle
bending of the body forwards, which, in great men, must be supposed
to be the effect of an habitual condescending attention to the
applications of their inferiors. While he held you in converse, you
felt strained to the height in the colloquy. The conference over,
you were at leisure to smile at the comparative insignificance of
the pretensions which had just awed you. His intellect was of the
shallowest order. It did not reach to a saw or a proverb. His mind was
in its original state of white paper. A sucking babe might have posed
him. What was it then? Was he rich? Alas, no! Thomas Tame was very
poor. Both he and his wife looked outwardly gentlefolks, when I fear
all was not well at all times within. She had a neat meagre person,
which it was evident she had not sinned in over-pampering; but in
its veins was noble blood. She traced her descent, by some labyrinth
of relationship, which I never thoroughly understood,--much less can
explain with any heraldic certainty at this time of day,--to the
illustrious, but unfortunate house of Derwentwater. This was the
secret of Thomas's stoop. This was the thought--the sentiment--the
bright solitary star of your lives,--ye mild and happy pair,--which
cheered you in the night of intellect, and in the obscurity of your
station! This was to you instead of riches, instead of rank, instead
of glittering attainments: and it was worth them altogether. You
insulted none with it; but, while you wore it as a piece of defensive
armour only, no insult likewise could reach you through it. _Decus et

Of quite another stamp was the then accountant, John Tipp. He neither
pretended to high blood, nor in good truth cared one fig about the
matter. He "thought an accountant the greatest character in the world,
and himself the greatest accountant in it." Yet John was not without
his hobby. The fiddle relieved his vacant hours. He sang, certainly,
with other notes than to the Orphean lyre. He did, indeed, scream
and scrape most abominably. His fine suite of official rooms in
Threadneedle-street, which, without any thing very substantial
appended to them, were enough to enlarge a man's notions of himself
that lived in them, (I know not who is the occupier of them now)
resounded fortnightly to the notes of a concert of "sweet breasts,"
as our ancestors would have called them, culled from club-rooms and
orchestras--chorus singers--first and second violoncellos--double
basses--and clarionets--who ate his cold mutton, and drank his punch,
and praised his ear. He sate like Lord Midas among them. But at the
desk Tipp was quite another sort of creature. Thence all ideas, that
were purely ornamental, were banished. You could not speak of any
thing romantic without rebuke. Politics were excluded. A newspaper was
thought too refined and abstracted. The whole duty of man consisted in
writing off dividend warrants. The striking of the annual balance in
the company's books (which, perhaps, differed from the balance of last
year in the sum of 25_l._ 1_s._ 6_d._) occupied his days and nights
for a month previous. Not that Tipp was blind to the deadness of
_things_ (as they call them in the city) in his beloved house, or did
not sigh for a return of the old stirring days when South Sea hopes
were young--(he was indeed equal to the wielding of any the most
intricate accounts of the most flourishing company in these or those
days):--but to a genuine accountant the difference of proceeds is
as nothing. The fractional farthing is as dear to his heart as the
thousands which stand before it. He is the true actor, who, whether
his part be a prince or a peasant, must act it with like intensity.
With Tipp form was every thing. His life was formal. His actions
seemed ruled with a ruler. His pen was not less erring than his heart.
He made the best executor in the world: he was plagued with incessant
executorships accordingly, which excited his spleen and soothed his
vanity in equal ratios. He would swear (for Tipp swore) at the little
orphans, whose rights he would guard with a tenacity like the grasp of
the dying hand, that commended their interests to his protection. With
all this there was about him a sort of timidity--(his few enemies used
to give it a worse name)--a something which, in reverence to the dead,
we will place, if you please, a little on this side of the heroic.
Nature certainly had been pleased to endow John Tipp with a sufficient
measure of the principle of self-preservation. There is a cowardice
which we do not despise, because it has nothing base or treacherous in
its elements; it betrays itself, not you: it is mere temperament; the
absence of the romantic and the enterprising; it sees a lion in the
way, and will not, with Fortinbras, "greatly find quarrel in a straw,"
when some supposed honour is at stake. Tipp never mounted the box of a
stage-coach in his life; or leaned against the rails of a balcony; or
walked upon the ridge of a parapet; or looked down a precipice; or let
off a gun; or went upon a water-party; or would willingly let you go
if he could have helped it: neither was it recorded of him, that for
lucre, or for intimidation, he ever forsook friend or principle.

Whom next shall we summon from the dusty dead, in whom common
qualities become uncommon? Can I forget thee, Henry Man, the wit,
the polished man of letters, the _author_, of the South-Sea House?
who never enteredst thy office in a morning, or quittedst it in
mid-day--(what didst _thou_ in an office?)--without some quirk that
left a sting! Thy gibes and thy jokes are now extinct, or survive
but in two forgotten volumes, which I had the good fortune to rescue
from a stall in Barbican, not three days ago, and found thee terse,
fresh, epigrammatic, as alive. Thy wit is a little gone by in these
fastidious days--thy topics are staled by the "new-born gauds" of the
time:--but great thou used to be in Public Ledgers, and in Chronicles,
upon Chatham, and Shelburne, and Rockingham, and Howe, and Burgoyne,
and Clinton, and the war which ended in the tearing from Great Britain
her rebellious colonies,--and Keppel, and Wilkes, and Sawbridge,
and Bull, and Dunning, and Pratt, and Richmond,--and such small

A little less facetious, and a great deal more obstreperous, was fine
rattling, rattleheaded Plumer. He was descended,--not in a right line,
reader, (for his lineal pretensions, like his personal, favoured a
little of the sinister bend) from the Plumers of Hertfordshire. So
tradition gave him out; and certain family features not a little
sanctioned the opinion. Certainly old Walter Plumer (his reputed
author) had been a rake in his days, and visited much in Italy, and
had seen the world. He was uncle, bachelor-uncle, to the fine old whig
still living, who has represented the county in so many successive
parliaments, and has a fine old mansion near Ware. Walter flourished
in George the Second's days, and was the same who was summoned before
the House of Commons about a business of franks, with the old Duchess
of Marlborough. You may read of it in Johnson's Life of Cave. Cave
came off cleverly in that business. It is certain our Plumer did
nothing to discountenance the rumour. He rather seemed pleased
whenever it was, with all gentleness, insinuated. But, besides
his family pretensions, Plumer was an engaging fellow, and sang

Not so sweetly sang Plumer as thou sangest, mild, child-like, pastoral
M----; a flute's breathing less divinely whispering than thy Arcadian
melodies, when, in tones worthy of Arden, thou didst chant that song
sung by Amiens to the banished Duke, which proclaims the winter wind
more lenient than for a man to be ungrateful. Thy sire was old surly
M----, the unapproachable church-warden of Bishopsgate. He knew not
what he did, when he begat thee, like spring, gentle offspring of
blustering winter:--only unfortunate in thy ending, which should have
been mild, conciliatory, swan-like.--

Much remains to sing. Many fantastic shapes rise up, but they must
be mine in private:--already I have fooled the reader to the top of
his bent;--else could I omit that strange creature Woollett, who
existed in trying the question, and _bought litigations_?--and still
stranger, inimitable, solemn Hepworth, from whose gravity Newton might
have deduced the law of gravitation. How profoundly would he nib a
pen--with what deliberation would he wet a wafer!--

But it is time to close--night's wheels are rattling fast over me--it
is proper to have done with this solemn mockery.

Reader, what if I have been playing with thee all this
while--peradventure the very _names_, which I have summoned up before
thee, are fantastic--insubstantial--like Henry Pimpernel, and old John
Naps of Greece:--

Be satisfied that something answering to them has had a being. Their
importance is from the past.

[Footnote 1: I passed by the walls of Balclutha, and they were


Casting a preparatory glance at the bottom of this article--as the
wary connoisseur in prints, with cursory eye (which, while it reads,
seems as though it read not,) never fails to consult the _quis
sculpsit_ in the corner, before he pronounces some rare piece to be a
Vivares, or a Woollet--methinks I hear you exclaim, Reader, _Who is

Because in my last I tried to divert thee with some half-forgotten
humours of some old clerks defunct, in an old house of business, long
since gone to decay, doubtless you have already set me down in your
mind as one of the self-same college--a votary of the desk--a notched
and cropt scrivener--one that sucks his sustenance, as certain sick
people are said to do, through a quill.

Well, I do agnize something of the sort. I confess that it is my
humour, my fancy--in the forepart of the day, when the mind of your
man of letters requires some relaxation--(and none better than such
as at first sight seems most abhorrent from his beloved studies)--to
while away some good hours of my time in the contemplation of indigos,
cottons, raw silks, piece-goods, flowered or otherwise. In the first
place ******* and then it sends you home with such increased appetite
to your books ***** not to say, that your outside sheets, and waste
wrappers of foolscap, do receive into them, most kindly and naturally,
the impression of sonnets, epigrams, _essays_--so that the very
parings of a counting-house are, in some sort, the settings up of an
author. The enfranchised quill, that has plodded all the morning among
the cart-rucks of figures and cyphers, frisks and curvets so at its
ease over the flowery carpet-ground of a midnight dissertation.--It
feels its promotion. ***** So that you see, upon the whole, the
literary dignity of _Elia_ is very little, if at all, compromised in
the condescension.

Not that, in my anxious detail of the many commodities incidental
to the life of a public office, I would be thought blind to certain
flaws, which a cunning carper might be able to pick in this Joseph's
vest. And here I must have leave, in the fulness of my soul, to regret
the abolition, and doing-away-with altogether, of those consolatory
interstices, and sprinklings of freedom, through the four
seasons,--the _red-letter days_, now become, to all intents and
purposes, _dead-letter days_. There was Paul, and Stephen, and

Andrew and John, men famous in old times

--we were used to keep all their days holy, as long back as I was at
school at Christ's. I remember their effigies, by the same token,
in the old _Baskett_ Prayer Book. There hung Peter in his uneasy
posture--holy Bartlemy in the troublesome act of flaying, after the
famous Marsyas by Spagnoletti.--I honoured them all, and could almost
have wept the defalcation of Iscariot--so much did we love to keep
holy memories sacred:--only methought I a little grudged at the
coalition of the _better Jude_ with Simon-clubbing (as it were) their
sanctities together, to make up one poor gaudy-day between them--as an
economy unworthy of the dispensation.

These were bright visitations in a scholar's and a clerk's life--"far
off their coming shone."--I was as good as an almanac in those days.
I could have told you such a saint's-day falls out next week, or the
week after. Peradventure the Epiphany, by some periodical infelicity,
would, once in six years, merge in a Sabbath. Now am I little better
than one of the profane. Let me not be thought to arraign the wisdom
of my civil superiors, who have judged the further observation of
these holy tides to be papistical, superstitious.

Only in a custom of such long standing, methinks, if their Holinesses
the Bishops had, in decency, been first sounded--but I am wading out
of my depths. I am not the man to decide the limits of civil and
ecclesiastical authority--I am plain Elia--no Selden, nor Archbishop
Usher--though at present in the thick of their books, here in the
heart of learning, under the shadow of the mighty Bodley.

I can here play the gentleman, enact the student. To such a one as
myself, who has been defrauded in his young years of the sweet food of
academic institution, nowhere is so pleasant, to while away a few idle
weeks at, as one or other of the Universities. Their vacation, too, at
this time of the year, falls in so pat with _ours_. Here I can take
my walks unmolested, and fancy myself of what degree or standing I
please. I seem admitted _ad eundem_. I fetch up past opportunities.
I can rise at the chapel-bell, and dream that it rings for _me_. In
moods of humility I can be a Sizar, or a Servitor. When the peacock
vein rises, I strut a Gentleman Commoner. In graver moments, I
proceed Master of Arts. Indeed I do not think I am much unlike
that respectable character. I have seen your dim-eyed vergers, and
bed-makers in spectacles, drop a bow or curtsy, as I pass, wisely
mistaking me for something of the sort. I go about in black, which
favours the notion. Only in Christ Church reverend quadrangle, I can
be content to pass for nothing short of a Seraphic Doctor.

The walks at these times are so much one's own,--the tall trees of
Christ's, the groves of Magdalen! The halls deserted, and with open
doors, inviting one to slip in unperceived, and pay a devoir to some
Founder, or noble or royal Benefactress (that should have been ours)
whose portrait seems to smile upon their over-looked beadsman, and
to adopt me for their own. Then, to take a peep in by the way at
the butteries, and sculleries, redolent of antique hospitality: the
immense caves of kitchens, kitchen fire-places, cordial recesses;
ovens whose first pies were baked four centuries ago; and spits which
have cooked for Chaucer! Not the meanest minister among the dishes but
is hallowed to me through his imagination, and the Cook goes forth a

Antiquity! thou wondrous charm, what art thou? that, being nothing,
art every thing! When thou _wert_, thou wert not antiquity--then thou
wert nothing, but hadst a remoter _antiquity_, as thou called'st it,
to look back to with blind veneration; thou thyself being to thyself
flat, _jejune, modern_! What mystery lurks in this retroversion? or
what half Januses[1] are we, that cannot look forward with the same
idolatry with which we for ever revert! The mighty future is as
nothing, being every thing! the past is every thing, being nothing!

What were thy _dark ages_? Surely the sun rose as brightly then as
now, and man got him to his work in the morning. Why is it that we can
never hear mention of them without an accompanying feeling, as though
a palpable obscure had dimmed the face of things, and that our
ancestors wandered to and fro groping!

Above all thy rarities, old Oxenford, what do most arride and solace
me, are thy repositories of mouldering learning, thy shelves--

What a place to be in is an old library! It seems as though all the
souls of all the writers, that have bequeathed their labours to these
Bodleians, were reposing here, as in some dormitory, or middle state.
I do not want to handle, to profane the leaves, their winding-sheets.
I could as soon dislodge a shade. I seem to inhale learning, walking
amid their foliage; and the odour of their old moth-scented coverings
is fragrant as the first bloom of those sciential apples which grew
amid the happy orchard.

Still less have I curiosity to disturb the elder repose of MSS.
Those _variae lectiones_, so tempting to the more erudite palates, do
but disturb and unsettle my faith. I am no Herculanean raker. The
credit of the three witnesses might have slept unimpeached for me. I
leave these curiosities to Porson, and to G.D.--whom, by the way, I
found busy as a moth over some rotten archive, rummaged out of some
seldom-explored press, in a nook at Oriel. With long poring, he is
grown almost into a book. He stood as passive as one by the side of
the old shelves. I longed to new-coat him in Russia, and assign him
his place. He might have mustered for a tall Scapula.

D. is assiduous in his visits to these seats of learning. No
inconsiderable portion of his moderate fortune, I apprehend, is
consumed in journeys between them and Clifford's-inn--where, like a
dove on the asp's nest, he has long taken up his unconscious abode,
amid an incongruous assembly of attorneys, attorneys' clerks,
apparitors, promoters, vermin of the law, among whom he sits, "in calm
and sinless peace." The fangs of the law pierce him not--the winds of
litigation blow over his humble chambers--the hard sheriffs officer
moves his hat as he passes--legal nor illegal discourtesy touches
him--none thinks of offering violence or injustice to him--you would
as soon "strike an abstract idea."

D. has been engaged, he tells me, through a course of laborious years,
in an investigation into all curious matter connected with the two
Universities; and has lately lit upon a MS. collection of charters,
relative to C----, by which he hopes to settle some disputed
points--particularly that long controversy between them as to
priority of foundation. The ardor with which he engages in
these liberal pursuits, I am afraid, has not met with all the
encouragement it deserved, either here, or at C----. Your caputs,
and heads of colleges, care less than any body else about these
questions.--Contented to suck the milky fountains of their Alma
Maters, without inquiring into the venerable gentlewomen's years, they
rather hold such curiosities to be impertinent--unreverend. They have
their good glebe lands _in manu_, and care not much to rake into the
title-deeds. I gather at least so much from other sources, for D. is
not a man to complain.

D. started like an unbroke heifer, when I interrupted him. _A priori_
it was not very probable that we should have met in Oriel. But D.
would have done the same, had I accosted him on the sudden in his own
walks in Clifford's-inn, or in the Temple. In addition to a provoking
short-sightedness (the effect of late studies and watchings at the
midnight oil) D. is the most absent of men. He made a call the other
morning at our friend _M.'s_ in Bedford-square; and, finding nobody at
home, was ushered into the hall, where, asking for pen and ink, with
great exactitude of purpose he enters me his name in the book--which
ordinarily lies about in such places, to record the failures of
the untimely or unfortunate visitor--and takes his leave with many
ceremonies, and professions of regret. Some two or three hours after,
his walking destinies returned him into the same neighbourhood again,
and again the quiet image of the fire-side circle at _M.'s_--Mrs.
_M._ presiding at it like a Queen Lar, with pretty _A.S._ at her
side--striking irresistibly on his fancy, he makes another call
(forgetting that they were "certainly not to return from the country
before that day week") and disappointed a second time, inquires
for pen and paper as before: again the book is brought, and in the
line just above that in which he is about to print his second name
(his re-script)--his first name (scarce dry) looks out upon him
like another Sosia, or as if a man should suddenly encounter his
own duplicate!--The effect may be conceived. D. made many a good
resolution against any such lapses in future. I hope he will not keep
them too rigorously.

For with G.D.--to be absent from the body, is sometimes (not to speak
it profanely) to be present with the Lord. At the very time when,
personally encountering thee, he passes on with no recognition--or,
being stopped, starts like a thing surprised--at that moment, reader,
he is on Mount Tabor--or Parnassus--or co-sphered with Plato--or, with
Harrington, framing "immortal commonwealths"--devising some plan of
amelioration to thy country, or thy species--peradventure meditating
some individual kindness or courtesy, to be done to _thee thyself_,
the returning consciousness of which made him to start so guiltily at
thy obtruded personal presence.

D. is delightful any where, but he is at the best in such places as
these. He cares not much for Bath. He is out of his element at Buxton,
at Scarborough, or Harrowgate. The Cam and the Isis are to him "better
than all the waters of Damascus." On the Muses' hill he is happy, and
good, as one of the Shepherds on the Delectable Mountains; and when he
goes about with you to show you the halls and colleges, you think you
have with you the Interpreter at the House Beautiful.

[Footnote 1: Januses of one face.--SIR THOMAS BROWNE.]


In Mr. Lamb's "Works," published a year or two since, I find a
magnificent eulogy on my old school,[1] such as it was, or now appears
to him to have been, between the years 1782 and 1789. It happens,
very oddly, that my own standing at Christ's was nearly corresponding
with his; and, with all gratitude to him for his enthusiasm for the
cloisters, I think he has contrived to bring together whatever can be
said in praise of them, dropping all the other side of the argument
most ingeniously.

I remember L. at school; and can well recollect that he had some
peculiar advantages, which I and others of his schoolfellows had not.
His friends lived in town, and were near at hand; and he had the
privilege of going to see them, almost as often as he wished, through
some invidious distinction, which was denied to us. The present worthy
sub-treasurer to the Inner Temple can explain how that happened. He
had his tea and hot rolls in a morning, while we were battening upon
our quarter of a penny loaf--our _crug_--moistened with attenuated
small beer, in wooden piggins, smacking of the pitched leathern jack
it was poured from. Our Monday's milk porritch, blue and tasteless,
and the pease soup of Saturday, coarse and choking, were enriched
for him with a slice of "extraordinary bread and butter," from the
hot-loaf of the Temple. The Wednesday's mess of millet, somewhat less
repugnant--(we had three banyan to four meat days in the week)--was
endeared to his palate with a lump of double-refined, and a smack of
ginger (to make it go down the more glibly) or the fragrant cinnamon.
In lieu of our _half-pickled_ Sundays, or _quite fresh_ boiled beef
on Thursdays (strong as _caro equina_), with detestable marigolds
floating in the pail to poison the broth--our scanty mutton crags on
Fridays--and rather more savoury, but grudging, portions of the same
flesh, rotten-roasted or rare, on the Tuesdays (the only dish which
excited our appetites, and disappointed our stomachs, in almost equal
proportion)--he had his hot plate of roast veal, or the more tempting
griskin (exotics unknown to our palates), cooked in the paternal
kitchen (a great thing), and brought him daily by his maid or aunt! I
remember the good old relative (in whom love forbade pride) squatting
down upon some odd stone in a by-nook of the cloisters, disclosing the
viands (of higher regale than those cates which the ravens ministered
to the Tishbite); and the contending passions of L. at the unfolding.
There was love for the bringer; shame for the thing brought, and the
manner of its bringing; sympathy for those who were too many to share
in it; and, at top of all, hunger (eldest, strongest of the passions!)
predominant, breaking down the stony fences of shame, and awkwardness,
and a troubling over-consciousness.

I was a poor friendless boy. My parents, and those who should care for
me, were far away. Those few acquaintances of theirs, which they could
reckon upon being kind to me in the great city, after a little forced
notice, which they had the grace to take of me on my first arrival
in town, soon grew tired of my holiday visits. They seemed to them
to recur too often, though I thought them few enough; and, one after
another, they all failed me, and I felt myself alone among six hundred

O the cruelty of separating a poor lad from his early homestead! The
yearnings which I used to have towards it in those unfledged years!
How, in my dreams, would my native town (far in the west) come back,
with its church, and trees, and faces! How I would wake weeping, and
in the anguish of my heart exclaim upon sweet Calne in Wiltshire!

To this late hour of my life, I trace impressions left by the
recollection of those friendless holidays. The long warm days of
summer never return but they bring with them a gloom from the haunting
memory of those _whole-day-leaves_, when, by some strange arrangement,
we were turned out, for the live-long day, upon our own hands, whether
we had friends to go to, or none. I remember those bathing-excursions
to the New-River, which L. recalls with such relish, better, I think,
than he can--for he was a home-seeking lad, and did not much care
for such water-pastimes:--How merrily we would sally forth into the
fields; and strip under the first warmth of the sun; and wanton like
young dace in the streams; getting us appetites for noon, which
those of us that were pennyless (our scanty morning crust long since
exhausted) had not the means of allaying--while the cattle, and the
birds, and the fishes, were at feed about us, and we had nothing to
satisfy our cravings--the very beauty of the day, and the exercise
of the pastime, and the sense of liberty, setting a keener edge upon
them!--How faint and languid, finally, we would return, towards
nightfall, to our desired morsel, half-rejoicing, half-reluctant, that
the hours of our uneasy liberty had expired!

It was worse in the days of winter, to go prowling about the streets
objectless--shivering at cold windows of printshops, to extract a
little amusement; or haply, as a last resort, in the hope of a little
novelty, to pay a fifty-times repeated visit (where our individual
faces should be as well known to the warden as those of his own
charges) to the Lions in the Tower--to whose levee, by courtesy
immemorial, we had a prescriptive title to admission.

L.'s governor (so we called the patron who presented us to the
foundation) lived in a manner under his paternal roof. Any complaint
which he had to make was sure of being attended to. This was
understood at Christ's, and was an effectual screen to him against the
severity of masters, or worse tyranny of the monitors. The oppressions
of these young brutes are heart-sickening to call to recollection. I
have been called out of my bed, and _waked for the purpose_, in the
coldest winter nights--and this not once, but night after night--in
my shirt, to receive the discipline of a leathern thong, with eleven
other sufferers, because it pleased my callow overseer, when there has
been any talking heard after we were gone to bed, to make the six
last beds in the dormitory, where the youngest children of us slept,
answerable for an offence they neither dared to commit, nor had the
power to hinder.--The same execrable tyranny drove the younger part of
us from the fires, when our feet were perishing with snow; and, under
the cruelest penalties, forbad the indulgence of a drink of water,
when we lay in sleepless summer nights, fevered with the season, and
the day's sports.

There was one H----, who, I learned, in after days, was seen expiating
some maturer offence in the hulks. (Do I flatter myself in fancying
that this might be the planter of that name, who suffered--at Nevis,
I think, or St. Kits,--some few years since? My friend Tobin was the
benevolent instrument of bringing him to the gallows.) This petty Nero
actually branded a boy, who had offended him, with a red hot iron; and
nearly starved forty of us, with exacting contributions, to the one
half of our bread, to pamper a young ass, which, incredible as it may
seem, with the connivance of the nurse's daughter (a young flame of
his) he had contrived to smuggle in, and keep upon the leads of the
_ward_, as they called our dormitories. This game went on for better
than a week, till the foolish beast, not able to fare well but he must
cry roast meat--happier than Caligula's minion, could he have kept
his own counsel--but, foolisher, alas! than any of his species in the
fables--waxing fat, and kicking, in the fulness of bread, one unlucky
minute would needs proclaim his good fortune to the world below;
and, laying out his simple throat, blew such a ram's horn blast, as
(toppling down the walls of his own Jericho) set concealment any
longer at defiance. The client was dismissed, with certain attentions,
to Smithfield; but I never understood that the patron underwent any
censure on the occasion. This was in the stewardship of L.'s admired

Under the same _facile_ administration, can L. have forgotten the cool
impunity with which the nurses used to carry away openly, in open
platters, for their own tables, one out of two of every hot joint,
which the careful matron had been seeing scrupulously weighed out for
our dinners? These things were daily practised in that magnificent
apartment, which L. (grown connoisseur since, we presume) praises so
highly for the grand paintings "by Verrio, and others," with which it
is "hung round and adorned." But the sight of sleek well-fed blue-coat
boys in pictures was, at that time, I believe, little consolatory to
him, or us, the living ones, who saw the better part of our provisions
carried away before our faces by harpies; and ourselves reduced (with
the Trojan in the hall of Dido)

To feed our mind with idle portraiture.

L. has recorded the repugnance of the school to _gags_, or the fat
of fresh beef boiled; and sets it down to some superstition. But
these unctuous morsels are never grateful to young palates (children
are universally fat-haters) and in strong, coarse, boiled meats,
_unsalted_, are detestable. A _gag-eater_ in our time was equivalent
to a _goul_, and held in equal detestation.--suffered under the

--'Twas said
He ate strange flesh.

He was observed, after dinner, carefully to gather up the remnants
left at his table (not many, nor very choice fragments, you may credit
me)--and, in an especial manner, these disreputable morsels, which
he would convey away, and secretly stow in the settle that stood at
his bed-side. None saw when he ate them. It was rumoured that he
privately devoured them in the night. He was watched, but no traces
of such midnight practices were discoverable. Some reported, that, on
leave-days, he had been seen to carry out of the bounds a large blue
check handkerchief, full of something. This then must be the accursed
thing. Conjecture next was at work to imagine how he could dispose
of it. Some said he sold it to the beggars. This belief generally
prevailed. He went about moping. None spake to him. No one would play
with him. He was excommunicated; put out of the pale of the school.
He was too powerful a boy to be beaten, but he underwent every
mode of that negative punishment, which is more grievous than many
stripes. Still he persevered. At length he was observed by two of his
school-fellows, who were determined to get at the secret, and had
traced him one leave-day for that purpose, to enter a large worn-out
building, such as there exist specimens of in Chancery-lane, which are
let out to various scales of pauperism with open door, and a common
staircase. After him they silently slunk in, and followed by stealth
up four flights, and saw him tap at a poor wicket, which was opened by
an aged woman, meanly clad. Suspicion was now ripened into certainty.
The informers had secured their victim. They had him in their toils.
Accusation was formally preferred, and retribution most signal was
looked for. Mr. Hathaway, the then steward (for this happened a little
after my time), with that patient sagacity which tempered all his
conduct, determined to investigate the matter, before he proceeded to
sentence. The result was, that the supposed mendicants, the receivers
or purchasers of the mysterious scraps, turned out to be the parents
of ----, an honest couple come to decay,--whom this seasonable supply
had, in all probability, saved from mendicancy; and that this young
stork, at the expense of his own good name, had all this while been
only feeding the old birds!--The governors on this occasion, much
to their honour, voted a present relief to the family of ----, and
presented him with a silver medal. The lesson which the steward read
upon RASH JUDGMENT, on the occasion of publicly delivering the medal
to ----, I believe, would not be lost upon his auditory.--I had left
school then, but I well remember ----. He was a tall, shambling youth,
with a cast in his eye, not at all calculated to conciliate hostile
prejudices. I have since seen him carrying a baker's basket. I think
I heard he did not do quite so well by himself, as he had done by the
old folks.

I was a hypochondriac lad; and the sight of a boy in fetters, upon the
day of my first putting on the blue clothes, was not exactly fitted
to assuage the natural terrors of initiation. I was of tender years,
barely turned of seven; and had only read of such things in books, or
seen them but in dreams. I was told he had _run away_. This was the
punishment for the first offence.--As a novice I was soon after taken
to see the dungeons. These were little, square, Bedlam cells, where a
boy could just lie at his length upon straw and a blanket--a mattress,
I think, was afterwards substituted--with a peep of light, let in
askance, from a prison-orifice at top, barely enough to read by. Here
the poor boy was locked in by himself all day, without sight of any
but the porter who brought him his bread and water--who _might not
speak to him_;--or of the beadle, who came twice a week to call him
out to receive his periodical chastisement, which was almost welcome,
because it separated him for a brief interval from solitude:--and here
he was shut up by himself of _nights_, out of the reach of any sound,
to suffer whatever horrors the weak nerves, and superstition incident
to his time of life, might subject him to.[2] This was the penalty for
the second offence.--Wouldst thou like, reader, to see what became of
him in the next degree?

The culprit, who had been a third time an offender, and whose
expulsion was at this time deemed irreversible, was brought forth, as
at some solemn _auto da fe_, arrayed in uncouth and most appalling
attire--all trace of his late "watchet weeds" carefully effaced, he
was exposed in a jacket, resembling those which London lamplighters
formerly delighted in, with a cap of the same. The effect of
this divestiture was such as the ingenious devisers of it could
have anticipated. With his pale and frighted features, it was
as if some of those disfigurements in Dante had seized upon
him. In this disguisement he was brought into the hall (_L.'s
favourite state-room_), where awaited him the whole number of his
school-fellows, whose joint lessons and sports he was thenceforth to
share no more; the awful presence of the steward, to be seen for the
last time; of the executioner beadle, clad in his state robe for the
occasion; and of two faces more, of direr import, because never but
in these extremities visible. These were governors; two of whom, by
choice, or charter, were always accustomed to officiate at these
_Ultima Supplicia_; not to mitigate (so at least we understood it),
but to enforce the uttermost stripe. Old Bamber Gascoigne, and Peter
Aubert, I remember, were colleagues on one occasion, when the beadle
turning rather pale, a glass of brandy was ordered to prepare him for
the mysteries. The scourging was, after the old Roman fashion, long
and stately. The lictor accompanied the criminal quite round the hall.
We were generally too faint with attending to the previous disgusting
circumstances, to make accurate report with our eyes of the degree
of corporal suffering inflicted. Report, of course, gave out the
back knotty and livid. After scourging, he was made over, in his
_San Benito_, to his friends, if he had any (but commonly such poor
runagates were friendless), or to his parish officer, who, to enhance
the effect of the scene, had his station allotted to him on the
outside of the hall gate.

These solemn pageantries were not played off so often as to spoil
the general mirth of the community. We had plenty of exercise and
recreation _after_ school hours; and, for myself, I must confess,
that I was never happier, than _in_ them. The Upper and the Lower
Grammar Schools were held in the same room; and an imaginary line only
divided their bounds. Their character was as different as that of the
inhabitants on the two sides of the Pyrennees. The Rev. James Boyer
was the Upper Master; but the Rev. Matthew Field presided over that
portion of the apartment, of which I had the good fortune to be a
member. We lived a life as careless as birds. We talked and did just
what we pleased, and nobody molested us. We carried an accidence, or
a grammar, for form; but, for any trouble it gave us, we might take
two years in getting through the verbs deponent, and another two in
forgetting all that we had learned about them. There was now and then
the formality of saying a lesson, but if you had not learned it, a
brush across the shoulders (just enough to disturb a fly) was the sole
remonstrance. Field never used the rod; and in truth he wielded the
cane with no great good will--holding it "like a dancer." It looked
in his hands rather like an emblem than an instrument of authority;
and an emblem, too, he was ashamed of. He was a good easy man, that
did not care to ruffle his own peace, nor perhaps set any great
consideration upon the value of juvenile time. He came among us, now
and then, but often staid away whole days from us; and when he came,
it made no difference to us--he had his private room to retire to, the
short time he staid, to be out of the sound of our noise. Our mirth
and uproar went on. We had classics of our own, without being beholden
to "insolent Greece or haughty Rome," that passed current among
us--Peter Wilkins--the Adventures of the Hon. Capt. Robert Boyle--the
Fortunate Blue Coat Boy--and the like. Or we cultivated a turn for
mechanic or scientific operations; making little sun-dials of paper;
or weaving those ingenious parentheses, called _cat-cradles_; or
making dry peas to dance upon the end of a tin pipe; or studying the
art military over that laudable game "French and English," and a
hundred other such devices to pass away the time--mixing the useful
with the agreeable--as would have made the souls of Rousseau and John
Locke chuckle to have seen us.

Matthew Field belonged to that class of modest divines who affect
to mix in equal proportion the _gentleman_, the _scholar_, and the
_Christian_; but, I know not how, the first ingredient is generally
found to be the predominating dose in the composition. He was engaged
in gay parties, or with his courtly bow at some episcopal levee, when
he should have been attending upon us. He had for many years the
classical charge of a hundred children, during the four or five first
years of their education; and his very highest form seldom proceeded
further than two or three of the introductory fables of Phaedrus. How
things were suffered to go on thus, I cannot guess. Boyer, who was the
proper person to have remedied these abuses, always affected, perhaps
felt, a delicacy in interfering in a province not strictly his own.
I have not been without my suspicions, that he was not altogether
displeased at the contrast we presented to his end of the school.
We were a sort of Helots to his young Spartans. He would sometimes,
with ironic deference, send to borrow a rod of the Under Master, and
then, with Sardonic grin, observe to one of his upper boys, "how neat
and fresh the twigs looked." While his pale students were battering
their brains over Xenophon and Plato, with a silence as deep as that
enjoined by the Samite, we were enjoying ourselves at our ease in our
little Goshen. We saw a little into the secrets of his discipline, and
the prospect did but the more reconcile us to our lot. His thunders
rolled innocuous for us; his storms came near, but never touched us;
contrary to Gideon's miracle, while all around were drenched, our
fleece was dry.[3] His boys turned out the better scholars; we, I
suspect, have the advantage in temper. His pupils cannot speak of him
without something of terror allaying their gratitude; the remembrance
of Field comes back with all the soothing images of indolence, and
summer slumbers, and work like play, and innocent idleness, and
Elysian exemptions, and life itself a "playing holiday."

Though sufficiently removed from the jurisdiction of Boyer, we were
near enough (as I have said) to understand a little of his system.
We occasionally heard sounds of the _Ululantes_, and caught glances
of Tartarus. B. was a rabid pedant. His English style was crampt to
barbarism. His Easter anthems (for his duty obliged him to those
periodical flights) were grating as scrannel pipes.[4]--He would
laugh, ay, and heartily, but then it must be at Flaccus's quibble
about _Rex_--or at the _tristis severitas in vultu_, or _inspicere in
patinas_, of Terence--thin jests, which at their first broaching could
hardly have had _vis_ enough to move a Roman muscle.--He had two wigs,
both pedantic, but of differing omen. The one serene, smiling, fresh
powdered, betokening a mild day. The other, an old discoloured,
unkempt, angry caxon, denoting frequent and bloody execution. Woe to
the school, when he made his morning appearance in his _passy_, or
_passionate wig_. No comet expounded surer.--J.B. had a heavy hand. I
have known him double his knotty fist at a poor trembling child (the
maternal milk hardly dry upon its lips) with a "Sirrah, do you presume
to set your wits at me?"--Nothing was more common than to see him make
a head-long entry into the school-room, from his inner recess, or
library, and, with turbulent eye, singling out a lad, roar out, "Od's
my life, Sirrah," (his favourite adjuration) "I have a great mind to
whip you,"--then, with as sudden a retracting impulse, fling back into
his lair--and, after a cooling lapse of some minutes (during which
all but the culprit had totally forgotten the context) drive headlong
out again, piecing out his imperfect sense, as if it had been some
Devil's Litany, with the expletory yell--"_and I WILL, too._"--In
his gentler moods, when the _rabidus furor_ was assuaged, he had
resort to an ingenious method, peculiar, for what I have heard, to
himself, of whipping the boy, and reading the Debates, at the same
time; a paragraph, and a lash between; which in those times, when
parliamentary oratory was most at a height and flourishing in these
realms, was not calculated to impress the patient with a veneration
for the diffuser graces of rhetoric.

Once, and but once, the uplifted rod was known to fall ineffectual
from his hand--when droll squinting W---- having been caught putting
the inside of the master's desk to a use for which the architect had
clearly not designed it, to justify himself, with great simplicity
averred, that _he did not know that the thing had been forewarned_.
This exquisite irrecognition of any law antecedent to the _oral_ or
_declaratory_, struck so irresistibly upon the fancy of all who
heard it (the pedagogue himself not excepted) that remission was

L. has given credit to B.'s great merits as an instructor. Coleridge,
in his literary life, has pronounced a more intelligible and ample
encomium on them. The author of the Country Spectator doubts not to
compare him with the ablest teachers of antiquity. Perhaps we cannot
dismiss him better than with the pious ejaculation of C.--when he
heard that his old master was on his death-bed--"Poor J.B.!--may all
his faults be forgiven; and may he be wafted to bliss by little cherub
boys, all head and wings, with no _bottoms_ to reproach his sublunary

Under him were many good and sound scholars bred.--First Grecian of
my time was Lancelot Pepys Stevens, kindest of boys and men, since
Co-grammar-master (and inseparable companion) with Dr. T----e. What
an edifying spectacle did this brace of friends present to those who
remembered the anti-socialities of their predecessors!--You never met
the one by chance in the street without a wonder, which was quickly
dissipated by the almost immediate sub-appearance of the other.
Generally arm in arm, these kindly coadjutors lightened for each
other the toilsome duties of their profession, and when, in advanced
age, one found it convenient to retire, the other was not long in
discovering that it suited him to lay down the fasces also. Oh, it
is pleasant, as it is rare, to find the same arm linked in yours
at forty, which at thirteen helped it to turn over the _Cicero De
Amicitia_, or some tale of Antique Friendship, which the young heart
even then was burning to anticipate!--Co-Grecian with S. was Th----,
who has since executed with ability various diplomatic functions at
the Northern courts. Th---- was a tall, dark, saturnine youth, sparing
of speech, with raven locks.--Thomas Fanshaw Middleton followed him
(now Bishop of Calcutta) a scholar and a gentleman in his teens. He
has the reputation of an excellent critic; and is author (besides
the Country Spectator) of a Treatise on the Greek Article, against
Sharpe.--M. is said to bear his mitre high in India, where the _regni
novitas_ (I dare say) sufficiently justifies the bearing. A humility
quite as primitive as that of Jewel or Hooker might not be exactly
fitted to impress the minds of those Anglo-Asiatic diocesans with a
reverence for home institutions, and the church which those fathers
watered. The manners of M. at school, though firm, were mild, and
unassuming.--Next to M. (if not senior to him) was Richards, author of
the Aboriginal Britons, the most spirited of the Oxford Prize Poems; a
pale, studious Grecian.--Then followed poor S----, ill-fated M----! of
these the Muse is silent.

Finding some of Edward's race
Unhappy, pass their annals by.

Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the day-spring of thy
fancies, with hope like a fiery column before thee--the dark pillar
not yet turned--Samuel Taylor Coleridge--Logician, Metaphysician,
Bard!--How have I seen the casual passer through the Cloisters stand
still, intranced with admiration (while he weighed the disproportion
between the _speech_ and the _garb_ of the young Mirandula), to hear
thee unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of
Jamblichus, or Plotinus (for even in those years thou waxedst not
pale at such philosophic draughts), or reciting Homer in his Greek,
or Pindar--while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the
accents of the _inspired charity-boy_!--Many were the "wit-combats,"
(to dally awhile with the words of old Fuller,) between him and C.V.
Le G----, "which two I behold like a Spanish great gallion, and an
English man of war; Master Coleridge, like the former, was built far
higher in learning, solid, but slow in his performances. C.V.L., with
the English man of war, lesser in bulk, but lighter in sailing, could
turn with all tides, tack about, and take advantage of all winds, by
the quickness of his wit and invention."

Nor shall thou, their compeer, be quickly forgotten, Allen, with the
cordial smile, and still more cordial laugh, with which thou wert wont
to make the old Cloisters shake, in thy cognition of some poignant
jest of theirs; or the anticipation of some more material, and,
peradventure, practical one, of thine own. Extinct are those smiles,
with that beautiful countenance, with which (for thou wert the _Nircus
formosus_ of the school), in the days of thy maturer waggery, thou
didst disarm the wrath of infuriated town-damsel, who, incensed by
provoking pinch, turning tigress-like round, suddenly converted by
thy angel-look, exchanged the half-formed terrible "_bl----_," for a
gentler greeting--"_bless thy handsome face_!"

Next follow two, who ought to be now alive, and the friends of
Elia--the junior Le G---- and F----; who impelled, the former by
a roving temper, the latter by too quick a sense of neglect--ill
capable of enduring the slights poor Sizars are sometimes subject to
in our seats of learning--exchanged their Alma Mater for the camp;
perishing, one by climate, and one on the plains of Salamanca:--Le
G----, sanguine, volatile, sweet-natured; F----, dogged, faithful,
anticipative of insult, warm-hearted, with something of the old Roman
height about him.

Fine, frank-hearted Fr----, the present master of Hertford, with
Marmaduke T----, mildest of Missionaries--and both my good friends
still--close the catalogue of Grecians in my time.

[Footnote 1: Recollections of Christ's Hospital.]

[Footnote 2: One or two instances of lunacy, or attempted suicide,
accordingly, at length convinced the governors of the impolicy of
this part of the sentence, and the midnight torture to the spirits
was dispensed with.--This fancy of dungeons for children was a sprout
of Howard's brain; for which (saving the reverence due to Holy Paul)
methinks, I could willingly spit upon his statue.]

[Footnote 3: Cowley.]

[Footnote 4: In this and every thing B. was the antipodes of his
co-adjutor. While the former was digging his brains for crude anthems,
worth a pig-nut, F. would be recreating his gentlemanly fancy in the
more flowery walks of the Muses. A little dramatic effusion of his,
under the name of Vertumnus and Pomona, is not yet forgotten by the
chroniclers of that sort of literature. It was accepted by Garrick,
but the town did not give it their sanction.--B. used to say of it, in
a way of half-compliment, half-irony, that it was _too classical for


The human species, according to the best theory I can form of it, is
composed of two distinct races, _the men who borrow_, and _the men
who lend_. To these two original diversities may be reduced all those
impertinent classifications of Gothic and Celtic tribes, white men,
black men, red men. All the dwellers upon earth, "Parthians, and
Medes, and Elamites," flock hither, and do naturally fall in with
one or other of these primary distinctions. The infinite superiority
of the former, which I choose to designate as the _great race_,
is discernible in their figure, port, and a certain instinctive
sovereignty. The latter are born degraded. "He shall serve his
brethren." There is something in the air of one of this cast, lean and
suspicious; contrasting with the open, trusting, generous manners of
the other.

Observe who have been the greatest borrowers of all
ages--Alcibiades--Falstaff--Sir Richard Steele--our late incomparable
Brinsley--what a family likeness in all four!

What a careless, even deportment hath your borrower! what rosy gills!
what a beautiful reliance on Providence doth he manifest,--taking
no more thought than lilies! What contempt for money,--accounting
it (yours and mine especially) no better than dross! What a liberal
confounding of those pedantic distinctions of _meum_ and _tuum_!
or rather what a noble simplification of language (beyond Tooke),
resolving these supposed opposites into one clear, intelligible
pronoun adjective!--What near approaches doth he make to the primitive
_community_,--to the extent of one half of the principle at least!--

He is the true taxer who "calleth all the world up to be taxed:" and
the distance is as vast between him and _one of us_, as subsisted
betwixt the Augustan Majesty and the poorest obolary Jew that paid
it tribute-pittance at Jerusalem!--His exactions, too, have such a
cheerful, voluntary air! So far removed from your sour parochial or
state-gatherers,--those ink-horn varlets, who carry their want of
welcome in their faces! He cometh to you with a smile, and troubleth
you with no receipt; confining himself to no set season. Every day is
his Candlemas, or his Feast of Holy Michael. He applieth the _lene
tormentum_ of a pleasant look to your purse,--which to that gentle
warmth expands her silken leaves, as naturally as the cloak of the
traveller, for which sun and wind contended! He is the true Propontic
which never ebbeth! The sea which taketh handsomely at each man's
hand. In vain the victim, whom he delighteth to honour, struggles with
destiny; he is in the net. Lend therefore cheerfully, O man ordained
to lend--that thou lose not in the end, with thy worldly penny, the
reversion promised. Combine not preposterously in thine own person the
penalties of Lazarus and of Dives!--but, when thou seest the proper
authority coming, meet it smilingly, as it were half-way. Come,
a handsome sacrifice! See how light _he_ makes of it! Strain not
courtesies with a noble enemy.

Reflections like the foregoing were forced upon my mind by the death
of my old friend, Ralph Bigod, Esq., who departed this life on
Wednesday evening; dying, as he had lived, without much trouble. He
boasted himself a descendant from mighty ancestors of that name, who
heretofore held ducal dignities in this realm. In his actions and
sentiments he belied not the stock to which he pretended. Early in
life he found himself invested with ample revenues; which, with that
noble disinterestedness which I have noticed as inherent in men of the
_great race_, he took almost immediate measures entirely to dissipate
and bring to nothing: for there is something revolting in the idea of
a king holding a private purse; and the thoughts of Bigod were all
regal. Thus furnished, by the very act of disfurnishment; getting rid
of the cumbersome luggage of riches, more apt (as one sings)

To slacken virtue, and abate her edge,
Than prompt her to do aught may merit praise,

he set forth, like some Alexander, upon his great enterprise,
"borrowing and to borrow!"

In his periegesis, or triumphant progress throughout this island, it
has been calculated that he laid a tythe part of the inhabitants under
contribution. I reject this estimate as greatly exaggerated:--but
having had the honour of accompanying my friend, divers times, in his
perambulations about this vast city, I own I was greatly struck at
first with the prodigious number of faces we met, who claimed a sort
of respectful acquaintance with us. He was one day so obliging as to
explain the phenomenon. It seems, these were his tributaries; feeders
of his exchequer; gentlemen, his good friends (as he was pleased to
express himself), to whom he had occasionally been beholden for a
loan. Their multitudes did no way disconcert him. He rather took
a pride in numbering them; and, with Comus, seemed pleased to be
"stocked with so fair a herd."

With such sources, it was a wonder how he contrived to keep his
treasury always empty. He did it by force of an aphorism, which he had
often in his mouth, that "money kept longer than three days stinks."
So he made use of it while it was fresh. A good part he drank away
(for he was an excellent toss-pot), some he gave away, the rest he
threw away, literally tossing and hurling it violently from him--as
boys do burrs, or as if it had been infectious,--into ponds, or
ditches, or deep holes,--inscrutable cavities of the earth;--or he
would bury it (where he would never seek it again) by a river's
side under some bank, which (he would facetiously observe) paid no
interest--but out away from him it must go peremptorily, as Hagar's
offspring into the wilderness, while it was sweet. He never missed
it. The streams were perennial which fed his fisc. When new supplies
became necessary, the first stranger, was sure to contribute to the
deficiency. For Bigod had an _undeniable_ way with him. He had a
cheerful, open exterior, a quick jovial eye, a bald forehead, just
touched with grey (_cana fides_). He anticipated no excuse, and found
none. And, waiving for a while my theory as to the _great race_, I
would put it to the most untheorising reader, who may at times have
disposable coin in his pocket, whether it is not more repugnant to the
kindliness of his nature to refuse such a one as I am describing, than
to say _no_ to a poor petitionary rogue (your bastard borrower), who,
by his mumping visnomy, tells you, that he expects nothing better;
and, therefore, whose preconceived notions and expectations you do in
reality so much less shock in the refusal.

When I think of this man; his fiery glow of heart; his swell of
feeling; how magnificent, how _ideal_ he was; how great at the
midnight hour; and when I compare with him the companions with whom I
have associated since, I grudge the saving of a few idle ducats, and
think that I am fallen into the society of _lenders_, and _little

To one like Elia, whose treasures are rather cased in leather covers
than closed in iron coffers, there is a class of alienators more
formidable than that which I have touched upon; I mean your _borrowers
of books_--those mutilators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry
of shelves, and creators of odd volumes. There is Comberbatch,
matchless in his depredations!

That foul gap in the bottom shelf facing you, like a great eye-tooth
knocked out--(you are now with me in my little back study in
Bloomsbury, reader!)--with the huge Switzer-like tomes on each side
(like the Guildhall giants, in their reformed posture, guardant of
nothing) once held the tallest of my folios, _Opera Bonaventurae_,
choice and massy divinity, to which its two supporters (school
divinity also, but of a lesser calibre,--Bellarmine, and Holy Thomas),
showed but as dwarfs,--itself an Ascapart!--_that_ Comberbatch
abstracted upon the faith of a theory he holds, which is more easy, I
confess, for me to suffer by than to refute, namely, that "the title
to property in a book (my Bonaventure, for instance), is in exact
ratio to the claimant's powers of understanding and appreciating the
same." Should he go on acting upon this theory, which of our shelves
is safe?

The slight vacuum in the left-hand case--two shelves from the
ceiling--scarcely distinguishable but by the quick eye of a loser--was
whilom the commodious resting-place of Brown on Urn Burial. C. will
hardly allege that he knows more about that treatise than I do, who
introduced it to him, and was indeed the first (of the moderns) to
discover its beauties--but so have I known a foolish lover to praise
his mistress in the presence of a rival more qualified to carry her
off than himself.--Just below, Dodsley's dramas want their fourth
volume, where Vittoria Corombona is! The remainder nine are as
distasteful as Priam's refuse sons, when the Fates _borrowed_ Hector.
Here stood the Anatomy of Melancholy, in sober state.--There loitered
the Complete Angler; quiet as in life, by some stream side.--In yonder
nook, John Buncle, a widower-volume, with "eyes closed," I mourns his
ravished mate.

One justice I must do my friend, that if he sometimes, like the sea,
sweeps away a treasure, at another time, sea-like, he throws up as
rich an equivalent to match it. I have a small under-collection of
this nature (my friend's gathering's in his various calls), picked
up, he has forgotten at what odd places, and deposited with as little
memory as mine. I take in these orphans, the twice-deserted. These
proselytes of the gate are welcome as the true Hebrews. There they
stand in conjunction; natives, and naturalised. The latter seem as
little disposed to inquire out their true lineage as I am.--I charge
no warehouse-room for these deodands, nor shall ever put myself to the
ungentlemanly trouble of advertising a sale of them to pay expenses.

To lose a volume to C. carries some sense and meaning in it. You are
sure that he will make one hearty meal on your viands, if he can give
no account of the platter after it. But what moved thee, wayward,
spiteful K., to be so importunate to carry off with thee, in spite of
tears and adjurations to thee to forbear, the Letters of that princely
woman, the thrice noble Margaret Newcastle?--knowing at the time,
and knowing that I knew also, thou most assuredly wouldst never turn
over one leaf of the illustrious folio:--what but the mere spirit
of contradiction, and childish love of getting the better of thy
friend?--Then, worst cut of all! to transport it with thee to the
Gallican land--

Unworthy land to harbour such a sweetness,
A virtue in which all ennobling thoughts dwelt,
Pure thoughts, kind thoughts, high thoughts, her sex's wonder!

--hadst thou not thy play-books, and books of jests and fancies,
about thee, to keep thee merry, even as thou keepest all companies
with thy quips and mirthful tales?--Child of the Green-room, it was
unkindly done of thee. Thy wife, too, that part-French, better-part
Englishwoman!--that _she_ could fix upon no other treatise to bear
away, in kindly token of remembering us, than the works of Fulke
Greville, Lord Brook--of which no Frenchman, nor woman of France,
Italy, or England, was ever by nature constituted to comprehend a
tittle! _Was there not Zimmerman on Solitude?_

Reader, if haply thou art blessed with a moderate collection, be shy
of showing it; or if thy heart overfloweth to lend them, lend thy
books; but let it be to such a one as S.T.C.--he will return them
(generally anticipating the time appointed) with usury; enriched with
annotations, tripling their value. I have had experience. Many are
these precious MSS. of his--(in _matter_ oftentimes, and almost in
_quantity_ not unfrequently, vying with the originals)--in no very
clerkly hand--legible in my Daniel; in old Burton; in Sir Thomas
Browne; and those abstruser cogitations of the Greville, now, alas!
wandering in Pagan lands.--I counsel thee, shut not thy heart, nor thy
library, against S.T.C.


Every man hath two birth-days: two days, at least, in every year,
which set him upon revolving the lapse of time, as it affects his
mortal duration. The one is that which in an especial manner he
termeth _his_. In the gradual desuetude of old observances, this
custom of solemnizing our proper birth-day hath nearly passed away, or
is left to children, who reflect nothing at all about the matter, nor
understand any thing in it beyond cake and orange. But the birth of
a New Year is of an interest too wide to be pretermitted by king or
cobbler. No one ever regarded the First of January with indifference.
It is that from which all date their time, and count upon what is
left. It is the nativity of our common Adam.

Of all sounds of all bells--(bells, the music nighest bordering upon
heaven)--most solemn and touching is the peal which rings out the
Old Year. I never hear it without a gathering-up of my mind to a
concentration of all the images that have been diffused over the past
twelvemonth; all I have done or suffered, performed or neglected--in
that regretted time. I begin to know its worth, as when a person
dies. It takes a personal colour; nor was it a poetical flight in a
contemporary, when he exclaimed

I saw the skirts of the departing Year.

It is no more than what in sober sadness every one of us seems to be
conscious of, in that awful leave-taking. I am sure I felt it, and all
felt it with me, last night; though some of my companions affected
rather to manifest an exhilaration at the birth of the coming year,
than any very tender regrets for the decease of its predecessor. But I
am none of those who--

Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.

I am naturally, beforehand, shy of novelties; new books, new faces,
new years,--from some mental twist which makes it difficult in me to
face the prospective. I have almost ceased to hope; and am sanguine
only in the prospects of other (former) years. I plunge into
foregone visions and conclusions. I encounter pell-mell with past
disappointments. I am armour-proof against old discouragements. I
forgive, or overcome in fancy, old adversaries. I play over again _for
love_, as the gamesters phrase it, games, for which I once paid so
dear. I would scarce now have any of those untoward accidents and
events of my life reversed. I would no more alter them than the
incidents of some well-contrived novel. Methinks, it is better that I
should have pined away seven of my goldenest years, when I was thrall
to the fair hair, and fairer eyes, of Alice W----n, than that so
passionate a love-adventure should be lost. It was better that our
family should have missed that legacy, which old Dorrell cheated us
of, than that I should have at this moment two thousand pounds _in
banco_, and be without the idea of that specious old rogue.

In a degree beneath manhood, it is my infirmity to look back upon
those early days. Do I advance a paradox, when I say, that, skipping
over the intervention of forty years, a man may have leave to love
_himself_, without the imputation of self-love?

If I know aught of myself, no one whose mind is introspective--and
mine is painfully so--can have a less respect for his present
identity, than I have for the man Elia. I know him to be light, and
vain, and humorsome; a notorious ***; addicted to ****: averse
from counsel, neither taking it, nor offering it;--*** besides;
a stammering buffoon; what you will; lay it on, and spare not; I
subscribe to it all, and much more, than thou canst be willing to lay
at his door--but for the child Elia--that "other me," there, in the
back-ground--I must take leave to cherish the remembrance of that
young master--with as little reference, I protest, to this stupid
changeling of five-and-forty, as if it had been a child of some other
house, and not of my parents. I can cry over its patient small-pox at
five, and rougher medicaments I can lay its poor fevered head upon the
sick pillow at Christ's and wake with it in surprise at the gentle
posture of maternal tenderness hanging over it, that unknown had
watched its sleep. I know how it shrank from any the least colour
of falsehood.--God help thee, Elia, how art thou changed! Thou art
sophisticated.--I know how honest, how courageous (for a weakling) it
was--how religious, how imaginative, how hopeful! From what have I
not fallen, if the child I remember was indeed myself--and not some
dissembling guardian presenting a false identity, to give the rule to
my unpractised steps, and regulate the tone of my moral being!

That I am fond of indulging, beyond a hope of sympathy, in such
retrospection, may be the symptom of some sickly idiosyncrasy. Or
is it owing to another cause; simply, that being without wife or
family, I have not learned to project myself enough out of myself;
and having no offspring of my own to dally with, I turn back upon
memory and adopt my own early idea, as my heir and favourite? If
these speculations seem fantastical to thee, reader--(a busy man,
perchance), if I tread out of the way of thy sympathy, and am
singularly-conceited only, I retire, impenetrable to ridicule, under
the phantom cloud of Elia.

The elders, with whom I was brought up, were of a character not likely
to let slip the sacred observance of any old institution; and the
ringing out of the Old Year was kept by them with circumstances of
peculiar ceremony.--In those days the sound of those midnight chimes,
though it seemed to raise hilarity in all around me, never failed to
bring a train of pensive imagery into my fancy. Yet I then scarce
conceived what it meant, or thought of it as a reckoning that
concerned me. Not childhood alone, but the young man till thirty,
never feels practically that he is mortal. He knows it indeed, and,
if need were, he could preach a homily on the fragility of life; but
he brings it not home to himself, any more than in a hot June we can
appropriate to our imagination the freezing days of December. But now,
shall I confess a truth?--I feel these audits but too powerfully. I
begin to count the probabilities of my duration, and to grudge at the
expenditure of moments and shortest periods, like miser's farthings.
In proportion as the years both lessen and shorten, I set more count
upon their periods, and would fain lay my ineffectual finger upon
the spoke of the great wheel. I am not content to pass away "like a
weaver's shuttle." Those metaphors solace me not, nor sweeten the
unpalatable draught of mortality. I care not to be carried with the
tide, that smoothly bears human life to eternity; and reluct at the
inevitable course of destiny. I am in love with this green earth; the
face of town and country; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the
sweet security of streets. I would set up my tabernacle here. I am
content to stand still at the age to which I am arrived; I, and my
friends: to be no younger, no richer, no handsomer. I do not want to
be weaned by age; or drop, like mellow fruit, as they say, into the
grave.--Any alteration, on this earth of mine, in diet or in lodging,
puzzles and discomposes me. My household-gods plant a terrible fixed
foot, and are not rooted up without blood. They do not willingly seek
Lavinian shores. A new state of being staggers me. Sun, and sky, and
breeze, and solitary walks, and summer holidays, and the greenness of
fields, and the delicious juices of meats and fishes, and society, and
the cheerful glass, and candle-light, and fire-side conversations, and
innocent vanities, and jests, and _irony itself_--do these things go
out with life?

Can a ghost laugh, or shake his gaunt sides, when you are pleasant
with him?

And you, my midnight darlings, my Folios! must I part with the intense
delight of having you (huge armfuls) in my embraces? Must knowledge
come to me, if it come at all, by some awkward experiment of
intuition, and no longer by this familiar process of reading?

Shall I enjoy friendships there, wanting the smiling indications which
point me to them here,--the recognisable face--the "sweet assurance of
a look"--?

In winter this intolerable disinclination to dying--to give it its
mildest name--does more especially haunt and beset me. In a genial
August noon, beneath a sweltering sky, death is almost problematic.
At those times do such poor snakes as myself enjoy an immortality.
Then we expand and burgeon. Then are we as strong again, as valiant
again, as wise again, and a great deal taller. The blast that nips
and shrinks me, puts me in thoughts of death. All things allied to
the insubstantial, wait upon that master feeling; cold, numbness,
dreams, perplexity; moonlight itself, with its shadowy and spectral
appearances,--that cold ghost of the sun, or Phoebus' sickly sister,
like that innutritious one denounced in the Canticles:--I am none of
her minions--I hold with the Persian.

Whatsoever thwarts, or puts me out of my way, brings death into
my mind. All partial evils, like humours, run into that capital
plague-sore.--I have heard some profess an indifference to life. Such
hail the end of their existence as a port of refuge; and speak of
the grave as of some soft arms, in which they may slumber as on a
pillow. Some have wooed death--but out upon thee, I say, thou foul,
ugly phantom! I detest, abhor, execrate, and (with Friar John) give
thee to six-score thousand devils, as in no instance to be excused
or tolerated, but shunned as a universal viper; to be branded,
proscribed, and spoken evil of! In no way can I be brought to digest
thee, thou thin, melancholy _Privation_, or more frightful and
confounding _Positive!_'

Those antidotes, prescribed against the fear of thee, are altogether
frigid and insulting, like thyself. For what satisfaction hath a man,
that he shall "lie down with kings and emperors in death," who in his
life-time never greatly coveted the society of such bed-fellows?--or,
forsooth, that "so shall the fairest face appear?"--why, to comfort
me, must Alice W----n be a goblin? More than all, I conceive disgust
at those impertinent and misbecoming familiarities, inscribed upon
your ordinary tombstones. Every dead man must take upon himself to be
lecturing me with his odious truism, that "such as he now is, I must
shortly be." Not so shortly, friend, perhaps, as thou imaginest. In
the meantime I am alive. I move about. I am worth twenty of thee.
Know thy betters! Thy New Years' Days are past. I survive, a jolly
candidate for 1821. Another cup of wine--and while that turn-coat
bell, that just now mournfully chanted the obsequies of 1820 departed,
with changed notes lustily rings in a successor, let us attune to
its peal the song made on a like occasion, by hearty, cheerful Mr.


Hark, the cock crows, and yon bright star
Tells us, the day himself's not far;
And see where, breaking from the night,
He gilds the western hills with light.
With him old Janus doth appear,
Peeping into the future year,
With such a look as seems to say,
The prospect is not good that way.
Thus do we rise ill sights to see,
And 'gainst ourselves to prophesy;
When the prophetic fear of things
A more tormenting mischief brings,
More full of soul-tormenting gall,
Than direst mischiefs can befall.
But stay! but stay! methinks my sight,
Better inform'd by clearer light,
Discerns sereneness in that brow,
That all contracted seem'd but now.
His revers'd face may show distaste,
And frown upon the ills are past;
But that which this way looks is clear,
And smiles upon the New-born Year.
He looks too from a place so high,
The Year lies open to his eye;
And all the moments open are
To the exact discoverer.
Yet more and more he smiles upon
The happy revolution.
Why should we then suspect or fear
The influences of a year,
So smiles upon us the first morn,
And speaks us good so soon as born?
Plague on't! the last was ill enough,
This cannot but make better proof;
Or, at the worst, as we brush'd through
The last, why so we may this too;
And then the next in reason shou'd
Be superexcellently good:
For the worst ills (we daily see)
Have no more perpetuity,
Than the best fortunes that do fall;
Which also bring us wherewithal
Longer their being to support,
Than those do of the other sort:
And who has one good year in three,
And yet repines at destiny,
Appears ungrateful in the case,
And merits not the good he has.
Then let us welcome the New Guest
With lusty brimmers of the best;
Mirth always should Good Fortune meet,
And renders e'en Disaster sweet:
And though the Princess turn her back,
Let us but line ourselves with sack,
We better shall by far hold out,
Till the next Year she face about.

How say you, reader--do not these verses smack of the rough
magnanimity of the old English vein? Do they not fortify like a
cordial; enlarging the heart, and productive of sweet blood, and
generous spirits, in the concoction? Where be those puling fears of
death, just now expressed or affected?--Passed like a cloud--absorbed
in the purging sunlight of clear poetry--clean washed away by a wave
of genuine Helicon, your only Spa for these hypochondries--And now
another cup of the generous! and a merry New Year, and many of them,
to you all, my masters!


"A clear fire, a clean hearth, and the rigour of the game." This was
the celebrated _wish_ of old Sarah Battle (now with God) who, next
to her devotions, loved a good game at whist. She was none of your
lukewarm gamesters, your half and half players, who have no objection
to take a hand, if you want one to make up a rubber; who affirm that
they have no pleasure in winning; that they like to win one game,
and lose another; that they can while away an hour very agreeably at
a card-table, but are indifferent whether they play or no; and will
desire an adversary, who has slipt a wrong card, to take it up and
play another. These insufferable triflers are the curse of a table.
One of these flies will spoil a whole pot. Of such it may be said,
that they do not play at cards, but only play at playing at them.

Sarah Battle was none of that breed. She detested them, as I do, from
her heart and soul; and would not, save upon a striking emergency,
willingly seat herself at the same table with them. She loved a
thorough-paced partner, a determined enemy. She took, and gave,
no concessions. She hated favours. She never made a revoke, nor
ever passed it over in her adversary without exacting the utmost
forfeiture. She fought a good fight: cut and thrust. She held not her
good sword (her cards) "like a dancer." She sate bolt upright; and
neither showed you her cards, nor desired to see yours. All people
have their blind side--their superstitions; and I have heard her
declare, under the rose, that Hearts was her favourite suit.

I never in my life--and I knew Sarah Battle many of the best years of
it--saw her take out her snuff-box when it was her turn to play; or
snuff a candle in the middle of a game; or ring for a servant, till it
was fairly over. She never introduced, or connived at, miscellaneous
conversation during its process. As she emphatically observed,
cards were cards: and if I ever saw unmingled distaste in her fine
last-century countenance, it was at the airs of a young gentleman of a
literary turn, who had been with difficulty persuaded to take a hand;
and who, in his excess of candour, declared, that he thought there was
no harm in unbending the mind now and then, after serious studies,
in recreations of that kind! She could not bear to have her noble
occupation, to which she wound up her faculties, considered in that
light. It was her business, her duty, the thing she came into the
world to do,--and she did it. She unbent her mind afterwards--over a

Pope was her favourite author: his Rape of the Lock her favourite
work. She once did me the favour to play over with me (with the cards)
his celebrated game of Ombre in that poem; and to explain to me how
far it agreed with, and in what points it would be found to differ
from, tradrille. Her illustrations were apposite and poignant; and I
had the pleasure of sending the substance of them to Mr. Bowles: but
I suppose they came too late to be inserted among his ingenious notes
upon that author.

Quadrille, she has often told me, was her first love; but whist
had engaged her maturer esteem. The former, she said, was showy
and specious, and likely to allure young persons. The uncertainty
and quick shifting of partners--a thing which the constancy of
whist abhors;--the dazzling supremacy and regal investiture of
Spadille--absurd, as she justly observed, in the pure aristocracy of
whist, where his crown and garter give him no proper power above his
brother-nobility of the Aces;--the giddy vanity, so taking to the
inexperienced, of playing alone:--above all, the overpowering
attractions of a _Sans Prendre Vole_,--to the triumph of which there
is certainly nothing parallel or approaching, in the contingencies of
whist;--all these, she would say, make quadrille a game of captivation
to the young and enthusiastic. But whist was the _solider_ game:
that was her word. It was a long meal; not, like quadrille, a feast
of snatches. One or two rubbers might coextend in duration with an
evening. They gave time to form rooted friendships, to cultivate
steady enmities. She despised the chance-started, capricious, and ever
fluctuating alliances of the other. The skirmishes of quadrille, she
would say, reminded her of the petty ephemeral embroilments of the
little Italian states, depicted by Machiavel; perpetually changing
postures and connexions; bitter foes to-day, sugared darlings
to-morrow; kissing and scratching in a breath;--but the wars of
whist were comparable to the long, steady, deep-rooted, rational,
antipathies of the great French and English nations.

A grave simplicity was what she chiefly admired in her favourite game.
There was nothing silly in it, like the nob in cribbage--nothing
superfluous. No _flushes_--that most irrational of all pleas that
a reasonable being can set up:--that any one should claim four by
virtue of holding cards of the same mark and colour, without reference
to the playing of the game, or the individual worth or pretensions
of the cards themselves! She held this to be a solecism; as pitiful
an ambition at cards as alliteration is in authorship. She despised
superficiality, and looked deeper than the colours of things.--Suits
were soldiers, she would say, and must have a uniformity of array to
distinguish them: but what should we say to a foolish squire, who
should claim a merit from dressing up his tenantry in red jackets,
that never were to be marshalled--never to take the field?--She even
wished that whist were more simple than it is; and, in my mind, would
have stript it of some appendages, which, in the state of human
frailty, may be venially, and even commendably allowed of. She saw no
reason for the deciding of the trump by the turn of the card. Why not
one suit always trumps?--Why two colours, when the mark of the suits
would have sufficiently distinguished them without it?--

"But the eye, my dear Madam, is agreeably refreshed with the variety.
Man is not a creature of pure reason he must have his senses
delightfully appealed to. We see it in Roman Catholic countries, where
the music and the paintings draw in many to worship, whom your quaker
spirit of unsensualizing would have kept out.--You, yourself, have a
pretty collection of paintings--but confess to me, whether, walking
in your gallery at Sandham, among those clear Vandykes, or among the
Paul Potters in the ante-room, you ever felt your bosom glow with
an elegant delight, at all comparable to _that_ you have it in your
power to experience most evenings over a well-arranged assortment
of the court cards?--the pretty antic habits, like heralds in a
procession--the gay triumph-assuring scarlets--the contrasting
deadly-killing sables--the 'hoary majesty of spades'--Pam in all his

"All these might be dispensed with; and, with their naked names upon
the drab pasteboard, the game might go on very well, picture-less.
But the _beauty_ of cards would be extinguished for ever. Stripped
of all that is imaginative in them, they must degenerate into mere
gambling.--Imagine a dull deal board, or drum head, to spread them on,
instead of that nice verdant carpet (next to nature's), fittest arena
for those courtly combatants to play their gallant jousts and turneys
in!--Exchange those delicately-turned ivory markers--(work of Chinese
artist, unconscious of their symbol,--or as profanely slighting their
true application as the arrantest Ephesian journeyman that turned out
those little shrines for the goddess)--exchange them for little bits
of leather (our ancestors' money) or chalk and a slate!"--

The old lady, with a smile, confessed the soundness of my logic;
and to her approbation of my arguments on her favourite topic that
evening, I have always fancied myself indebted for the legacy of a
curious cribbage board, made of the finest Sienna marble, which her
maternal uncle (old Walter Plumer, whom I have elsewhere celebrated)
brought with him from Florence:--this, and a trifle of five hundred
pounds, came to me at her death.

The former bequest (which I do not least value) I have kept with
religious care; though she herself, to confess a truth, was never
greatly taken with cribbage. It was an essentially vulgar game, I have
heard her say,--disputing with her uncle, who was very partial to
it. She could never heartily bring her mouth to pronounce "_go_"--or
"_that's a go_." She called it an ungrammatical game. The pegging
teased her. I once knew her to forfeit a rubber (a five dollar stake),
because she would not take advantage of the turn-up knave, which would
have given it her, but which she must have claimed by the disgraceful
tenure of declaring "_two for his heels_." There is something
extremely genteel in this sort of self-denial. Sarah Battle was a
gentlewoman born.

Piquet she held the best game at the cards for two persons, though she
would ridicule the pedantry of the terms--such as pique--repique--the
capot--they savoured (she thought) of affectation. But games for two,
or even three, she never greatly cared for. She loved the quadrate,
or square. She would argue thus:--Cards are warfare: the ends are
gain, with glory. But cards are war, in disguise of a sport: when
single adversaries encounter, the ends proposed are too palpable.
By themselves, it is too close a fight; with spectators, it is not
much bettered. No looker on can be interested, except for a bet,
and then it is a mere affair of money; he cares not for your luck
_sympathetically_, or for your play.--Three are still worse; a mere
naked war of every man against every man, as in cribbage, without
league or alliance; or a rotation of petty and contradictory
interests, a succession of heartless leagues, and not much more hearty
infractions of them, as in tradrille.--But in square games (_she
meant whist_) all that is possible to be attained in card-playing is
accomplished. There are the incentives of profit with honour, common
to every species--though the _latter_ can be but very imperfectly
enjoyed in those other games, where the spectator is only feebly a
participator. But the parties in whist are spectators and principals
too. They are a theatre to themselves, and a looker-on is not
wanted. He is rather worse than nothing, and an impertinence. Whist
abhors neutrality, or interest beyond its sphere. You glory in some
surprising stroke of skill or fortune, not because a cold--or even
an interested--by-stander witnesses it, but because your _partner_
sympathises in the contingency. You win for two. You triumph for
two. Two are exalted. Two again are mortified; which divides their
disgrace, as the conjunction doubles (by taking off the invidiousness)
your glories. Two losing to two are better reconciled, than one to one
in that close butchery. The hostile feeling is weakened by multiplying
the channels. War becomes a civil game.--By such reasonings as these
the old lady was accustomed to defend her favourite pastime.

No inducement could ever prevail upon her to play at any game, where
chance entered into the composition, _for nothing_. Chance, she would
argue--and here again, admire the subtlety of her conclusion!--chance
is nothing, but where something else depends upon it. It is obvious,
that cannot be _glory_. What rational cause of exultation could it
give to a man to turn up size ace a hundred times together by himself?
or before spectators, where no stake was depending?--Make a lottery
of a hundred thousand tickets with but one fortunate number--and what
possible principle of our nature, except stupid wonderment, could it
gratify to gain that number as many times successively, without a
prize?--Therefore she disliked the mixture of chance in backgammon,
where it was not played for money. She called it foolish, and
those people idots, who were taken with a lucky hit under such
circumstances. Games of pure skill were as little to her fancy. Played
for a stake, they were a mere system of over-reaching. Played for
glory, they were a mere setting of one man's wit,--his memory, or
combination-faculty rather--against another's; like a mock-engagement
at a review, bloodless and profitless.--She could not conceive a
_game_ wanting the spritely infusion of chance,--the handsome excuses
of good fortune. Two people playing at chess in a corner of a room,
whilst whist was stirring in the centre, would inspire her with
insufferable horror and ennui. Those well-cut similitudes of Castles,
and Knights, the _imagery_ of the board, she would argue, (and I think
in this case justly) were entirely misplaced and senseless. Those hard
head-contests can in no instance ally with the fancy. They reject form
and colour. A pencil and dry slate (she used to say) were the proper
arena for such combatants.

To those puny objectors against cards, as nurturing the bad passions,
she would retort, that man is a gaming animal. He must be always
trying to get the better in something or other:--that this passion can
scarcely be more safely expended than upon a game at cards: that cards
are a temporary illusion; in truth, a mere drama; for we do but _play_
at being mightily concerned, where a few idle shillings are at stake,
yet, during the illusion, we _are_ as mightily concerned as those
whose stake is crowns and kingdoms. They are a sort of dream-fighting;
much ado; great battling, and little bloodshed; mighty means for
disproportioned ends; quite as diverting, and a great deal more
innoxious, than many of those more serious _games_ of life, which men
play, without esteeming them to be such.--

With great deference to the old lady's judgment on these matters, I
think I have experienced some moments in my life, when playing at
cards _for nothing_ has even been agreeable. When I am in sickness, or
not in the best spirits, I sometimes call for the cards, and play a
game at piquet _for love_ with my cousin Bridget--Bridget Elia.

I grant there is something sneaking in it; but with a toothache, or a
sprained ancle,--when you are subdued and humble,--you are glad to put
up with an inferior spring of action.

There is such a thing in nature, I am convinced, as _sick whist_.--

I grant it is not the highest style of man--I deprecate the manes of
Sarah Battle--she lives not, alas! to whom I should apologise.--

At such times, those _terms_ which my old friend objected to, come in
as something admissible.--I love to get a tierce or a quatorze, though
they mean nothing. I am subdued to an inferior interest. Those shadows
of winning amuse me.

That last game I had with my sweet cousin (I capotted her)--(dare I
tell thee, how foolish I am?)--I wished it might have lasted for ever,
though we gained nothing, and lost nothing, though it was a mere shade
of play: I would be content to go on in that idle folly for ever. The
pipkin should be ever boiling, that was to prepare the gentle lenitive
to my foot, which Bridget was doomed to apply after the game was over:
and, as I do not much relish appliances, there it should ever bubble.
Bridget and I should be ever playing.


I have no ear.--

Mistake me not, reader,--nor imagine that I am by nature destitute
of those exterior twin appendages, hanging ornaments, and
(architecturally speaking) handsome volutes to the human capital.
Better my mother had never borne me.--I am, I think, rather delicately
than copiously provided with those conduits; and I feel no disposition
to envy the mule for his plenty, or the mole for her exactness,
in those ingenious labyrinthine inlets--those indispensable

Neither have I incurred, or done any thing to incur, with Defoe,
that hideous disfigurement, which constrained him to draw upon
assurance--to feel "quite unabashed," and at ease upon that article.
I was never, I thank my stars, in the pillory; nor, if I read them
aright, is it within the compass of my destiny, that I ever should be.

When therefore I say that I have no ear, you will understand me
to mean--_for music_.--To say that this heart never melted at the
concourse of sweet sounds, would be a foul self-libel.--"_Water
parted from the sea_" never fails to move it strangely. So does "_In
Infancy_." But they were used to be sung at her harpsichord (the
old-fashioned instrument in vogue in those days) by a gentlewoman--the
gentlest, sure, that ever merited the appellation--the sweetest--why
should I hesitate to name Mrs. S----, once the blooming Fanny
Weatheral of the Temple--who had power to thrill the soul of Elia,
small imp as he was, even in his long coats; and to make him glow,
tremble, and blush with a passion, that not faintly indicated the
day-spring of that absorbing sentiment, which was afterwards destined
to overwhelm and subdue his nature quite, for Alice W----n.

I even think that _sentimentally_ I am disposed to harmony. But
_organically_ I am incapable of a tune. I have been practising "_God
save the King_" all my life; whistling and humming of it over to
myself in solitary corners; and am not yet arrived, they tell me,
within many quavers of it. Yet hath the loyalty of Elia never been

I am not without suspicion, that I have an undeveloped faculty of
music within me. For, thrumming, in my wild way, on my friend A.'s
piano, the other morning, while he was engaged in an adjoining
parlour,--on his return he was pleased to say, "_he thought it could
not be the maid_!" On his first surprise at hearing the keys touched
in somewhat an airy and masterful way, not dreaming of me, his
suspicions had lighted on _Jenny_. But a grace, snatched from a
superior refinement, soon convinced him that some being,--technically
perhaps deficient, but higher informed from a principle common to all
the fine arts,--had swayed the keys to a mood which Jenny, with all
her (less-cultivated) enthusiasm, could never have elicited from them.
I mention this as a proof of my friend's penetration, and not with any
view of disparaging Jenny.

Scientifically I could never be made to understand (yet have I taken
some pains) what a note in music is; or how one note should differ
from another. Much less in voices can I distinguish a soprano from a
tenor. Only sometimes the thorough bass I contrive to guess at, from
its being supereminently harsh and disagreeable. I tremble, however,
for my misapplication of the simplest terms of _that_ which I
disclaim. While I profess my ignorance, I scarce know what to _say_ I
am ignorant of I hate, perhaps, by misnomers. _Sostenuto_ and _adagio_
stand in the like relation of obscurity to me; and _Sol_, _Fa_, _Mi_,
_Re_, is as conjuring as _Baralipton_.

It is hard to stand alone--in an age like this,--(constituted to the
quick and critical perception of all harmonious combinations, I verily
believe, beyond all preceding ages, since Jubal stumbled upon the
gamut)--to remain, as it were, singly unimpressible to the magic
influences of an art, which is said to have such an especial stroke at
soothing, elevating, and refining the passions.--Yet rather than break
the candid current of my confessions, I must avow to you, that I have
received a great deal more pain than pleasure from this so cried-up

I am constitutionally susceptible of noises. A carpenter's hammer, in
a warm summer noon, will fret me into more than midsummer madness. But
those unconnected, unset sounds are nothing to the measured malice of
music. The ear is passive to those single strokes; willingly enduring
stripes, while it hath no task to con. To music it cannot be passive.
It will strive--mine at least will--'spite of its inaptitude, to thrid
the maze; like an unskilled eye painfully poring upon hieroglyphics.
I have sat through an Italian Opera, till, for sheer pain, and
inexplicable anguish, I have rushed out into the noisiest places of
the crowded streets, to solace myself with sounds, which I was not
obliged to follow, and get rid of the distracting torment of endless,
fruitless, barren attention! I take refuge in the unpretending
assemblage of honest common-life sounds;--and the purgatory of the
Enraged Musician becomes my paradise.

I have sat at an Oratorio (that profanation of the purposes of the
cheerful playhouse) watching the faces of the auditory in the pit
(what a contrast to Hogarth's Laughing Audience!) immoveable, or
affecting some faint emotion,--till (as some have said, that our
occupations in the next world will be but a shadow of what delighted
us in this) I have imagined myself in some cold Theatre in Hades,
where some of the _forms_ of the earthly one should be kept up, with
none of the _enjoyment_; or like that--

--Party in a parlour,
All silent, and all DAMNED!

Above all, those insufferable concertos, and pieces of music, as
they are called, do plague and embitter my apprehension.--Words are


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