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Malling in Kent, and died in 1809, at the age of eighty-two. Mr. Edward Twopeny of Woodstock, Sittingbourne, a greatnephew of this gentleman, remembers him well, and informs me that he was, as Lamb describes him, remarkably thin. Lamb evidently recalled him as a familiar figure in the Temple in his own childish days, and supposed him to have been a member of the Bar. Mr. Twopeny held the important position of stockbroker to the Bank of England.
John Wharry.-Called to the Bench 1801, died in 1812.
Richard Jackson.-Called to the Bench 1770, died 1787. This gentleman was M. P. for New Romney and a member of Lord Shelburne's Government in 1782. From his wide reading and extraordinary memory he was known, beyond the circle of his brother-Benchers, as "the omniscient." Dr. Johnson (reversing the usual order of his translations) styles him the "allknowing." See Boswell, under date of April 1776 :-"No, Sir; Mr. Thrale is to go by my advice to Mr. Jackson (the all-knowing), and get from him a plan for seeing the most that can be seen in the time that we have to travel.
James Mingay.-Called to the Bench 1785, died 1812. Mr. Mingay was an eminent King's Counsel, and in his day a powerful rival at the Bar, of Thomas Erskine-according to an obituary notice in the Gentleman's Magazine of “a persuasive oratory, infinite wit, and most excellent fancy." His retort upon Erskine, about the knee-buckles, goes to confirm this verdict.
Baron Maseres.-Cursitor Baron of the Exchequer, a post which he filled for fifty years. Born 1731, died May 1824. He persevered to the end of his days in wearing the costume of the reign in which he was born.
R. N.-Randal Norris, for many years Sub-Treasurer and Librarian of the Inner Temple. At the age of fourteen he was articled to Mr. Walls of Paper Buildings, and from that time, for more than half a century, resided in the Inner Temple. His wife was a native of Widford, the village adjoining Blakesware, in Hertfordshire, and a friend of Mrs. Field, the housekeeper, and there was thus a double tie connecting Randal Norris with Lamb's family. His name appears early in Charles's correspondence. At the season of his mother's death, he tells Coleridge that Mr. Norris had been more than a father to him, and Mrs. Norris more than a mother. Mr. Norris died in the Temple in January 1827, at the age of seventy-six, and was buried in the Temple churchyard. Talfourd misdates the event by a year. It was then that Charles Lamb wrote to Crabb Robinson-"In him I have a loss the world cannot make up.
He was my friend and my father's friend all the life I can remember. I seem to have made foolish friendships ever since. Those are the friendships which outlive a second generation. Old as I am waxing, in his eyes I was still the child he first knew me. To the last he called me Charley. I have none to call me Charley now.
GRACE BEFORE MEAT.-P. 130.
(London Magazine, November 1821.)
C. V. L.-Charles Valentine le Grice, Lamb's schoolfellow at Christ's Hospital. See the Essay on that Institution.
Some one recalled a legend.-Leigh Hunt tells the story in his account of Christ's Hospital:-"Our dress was of the coarsest and quaintest kind, but was respected out of doors, and is so. It consisted of a blue drugget gown, or body, with ample skirts to it; a yellow vest underneath in winter time; small clothes of Russia duck; worsted yellow stockings; a leathern girdle; and a little black worsted cap, usually carried in the hand. I believe it was the ordinary dress of children in humble life during the reign of the Tudors. We used to flatter ourselves that it was taken from the monks; and there went a monstrous tradition, that at one period it consisted of blue velvet with silver buttons. It was said, also, that during the blissful era of the blue velvet, we had roast mutton for supper; but that the small clothes not being then in existence, and the mutton suppers too luxurious, the eatables were given up for the ineffables."
The following beautiful passage from the Recreations and Studies by a Country Clergyman of the Eighteenth Century (John Murray, 1882), shows that others, besides Lamb, had thought the main thought of this essay. The writer is describing, in 1781, the drive from Huddersfield, along the banks of the Calder:-"I never felt anything so fine: I shall remember it and thank God for it as long as I live. I am sorry I did not think to say grace after it. Are we to be grateful for nothing but beef and pudding? to thank God for life, and not for happiness?"
DREAM CHILDREN; A REVERIE.-P. 137.
(London Magazine, January 1822.)
The mood in which Lamb was prompted to this singularly affecting confidence was clearly due to a family bereavement, a month or two before the date of the essay. I may be allowed
to repeat words of my own, used elsewhere, on this subject. "Lamb's elder brother John was then lately dead. A letter to Wordsworth, of March 1822, mentions his death as even then recent, and speaks of a certain 'deadness to everything' which the writer dates from that event. The 'broad, burly, jovial' John Lamb (so Talfourd describes him) had lived his own easy prosperous life up to this time, not altogether avoiding social relations with his brother and sister, but evidently absorbed to the last in his own interests and pleasures. The death of this brother, wholly unsympathetic as he was with Charles, served to bring home to him his loneliness. He was left in the world with but one near relation, and that one too often removed from him for months at a time by the saddest of afflictions. No wonder if he became keenly aware of his solitude." The emotion discernible in this essay is absolutely genuine; the blending of fact with fiction in the details is curiously arbitrary.
Their great-grandmother Field. — Lamb's grandmother, Mary Field, for more than fifty years housekeeper at Blakesware, a dower-house of the Hertfordshire family of Plumers, a few miles from Ware. William Plumer, who represented his county for so many years in Parliament, was still living, and Lamb may have disguised the whereabouts of the " great house" out of consideration for him. Why he substituted Norfolk is only matter for conjecture. Perhaps there were actually scenes from the old legend of the Children in the Wood carved upon a chimneypiece at Blakesware; possibly there was some old story in the annals of the Plumer family touching the mysterious disappearance of two children, for which it pleased Lamb to substitute the story of the familiar ballad. His grandmother, as he has told us in his lines The Grandame, was deeply versed "in anecdote domestic."
Which afterwards came to decay, and was nearly pulled down. --The dismantling of the Blakesware house had therefore begun, it appears, before the death of William Plumer. Cussans, in his History of Hertfordshire, says it was pulled down in 1822. Perhaps the complete demolition was not carried out till after Mr. Plumer's death in that year. The "other house" Gilston, the principal seat of the Plumers, some miles distant. See notes on the essay Blakesmoor in Hertfordshire.
And then I told how, when she came to die.-Mrs. Field died in the summer of 1792, and was buried in the adjoining churchyard of Widford. Her gravestone, with the name and date of death, August 5, 1792, is still to be seen, and is one of the few tangible memorials of Lamb's family history still existing. By a curious fatality, it narrowly escaped destruction in the great
gale of October 1881, when a tree was blown down across it, considerably reducing its proportions.
John L.-Of course John Lamb, the brother. Charles was ever a "lame-footed" boy, through some temporary cause, we cannot say. We know that at the time of the mother's death John Lamb was suffering from an injury to his foot, and made it (after his custom) an excuse for not exerting himself unduly. See the letter of Charles to Coleridge written at the time." My brother, little disposed (I speak not without tenderness for him) at any time to take care of old age and infirmities, had now, with his bad leg, an exemption from such duties."
I courted the fair Alice W—n.—In my memoir of Charles Lamb, I have given the reasons for identifying Alice W-n with the Anna of the early sonnets, and again with the form and features of the village maiden described as Rosamund Gray. The girl who is celebrated under these various names won the heart of Charles Lamb while he was yet little more than a boy. He does not care to conceal from us that it was in Hertfordshire, while under his grandmother's roof, that he first met her. The Beauty "with the yellow Hertfordshire hair -so like my Alice," is how he describes the portrait in the picture gallery at Blakesmoor. Moreover, the "winding woodwalks green where he roamed with his Anna, can hardly be unconnected with the "walks and windings of Blakesmoor," apostrophised at the close of that beautiful essay. And there is a group of cottages called Blenheim, not more than half a mile from the site of Blakesware House, where the original Anna, according to the traditions of the village, resided. "Alice W-n 99 is one of Lamb's deliberate inventions. the key to the initials employed by him in his essays, he explains that Alice W-n stood for Alice Winterton, but that the name was "feigned. Anna was, in fact, the nearest clue to the real name that Lamb has vouchsafed. Her actual name was, I have the best reason to believe, Ann Simmons. She afterwards married Mr. Bartram, the pawnbroker of Princes Street, Leicester Square. The complete history of this episode in Lamb's life will probably never come to light. There are many obvious reasons why any idea of marriage should have been indefinitely abandoned. The poverty in Lamb's home is one such reason; and one, even more decisive, may have been the discovery of the taint of madness that was inherited, in more or less degree, by all the children. Why Lamb chose the particular alias of Winterton, under which to disguise his early love, will never be known. It was a name not unfamiliar to him, being that of the old steward in Colman's play of the Iron
Chest, a part created by Lamb's favourite comedian Dodd. The play was first acted in 1796, about the time when the final separation of the lovers seems to have taken place.
In illustration of Lamb's fondness for children, I have the pleasure of adding the following pretty letter to a child, not hitherto printed. It was written to a little girl (one of twinsisters), the daughter of Kenney the dramatist, after Lamb and his sister's visit to the Kenneys at Versailles in September 1822. The letter has been most kindly placed at my disposal by my friend Mr. W. J. Jeaffreson, whose mother was the Sophy of the letter. At the close of a short note to Mrs. Kenney, Lamb adds :-"Pray deliver what follows to my dear wife, Sophy :
"My dear Sophy-The few short days of connubial felicity which I passed with you among the pears and apricots of Versailles were some of the happiest of my life. But they are flown!
"And your other half, your dear co-twin-that she-youthat almost equal sharer of my affections-you and she are my better half, a quarter apiece. She and you are my pretty sixpence, you the head, and she the tail. Sure, Heaven that made you so alike must pardon the error of an inconsiderate moment, should I for love of you, love her too well. Do you think laws were made for lovers? I think not.
Adieu, amiable pair.
"P.S.-I inclose half a dear kiss apiece for you."
DISTANT CORRESPONDENTS.-P. 142.
(London Magazine, March 1822.)
B. F.-Barron Field. Born October 23, 1786. educated for the Bar and practised for some years, going the Oxford Circuit. In 1816 he married, and went out to New South Wales as Judge of the Supreme Court at Sydney. In 1824 he returned to England, having resigned his judgeship; but two or three years afterwards he was appointed Chief-Justice of Gibraltar. He died at Torquay in 1846. His brother, Francis John Field, was a fellow-clerk of Charles Lamb's at the India House, which was perhaps the origin of the acquaintance. Barron Field edited a volume of papers (Geographical Memoirs) on New South Wales for Murray, and the appendix contains some short poems, entitled First-Fruits of Australian Poetry.