The Best Letters of Charles Lamb eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 323 pages of information about The Best Letters of Charles Lamb.

I came home FOREVER on Tuesday in last week.  The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelmed me; it was like passing from life into eternity.  Every year to be as long as three, i.e., to have three times as much real time—­time that is my own—­in it!  I wandered about thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not.  But that tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to understand the nature of the gift.  Holidays, even the annual month, were always uneasy joys,—­their conscious fugitiveness; the craving after making the most of them.  Now, when all is holiday, there are no holidays.  I can sit at home, in rain or shine, without a restless impulse for walkings.  I am daily steadying, and shall soon find it as natural to me to be my own master as it has been irksome to have had a master.  Mary wakes every morning with an obscure feeling that some good has happened to us.

Leigh Hunt and Montgomery, after their releasements, describe the shock of their emancipation much as I feel mine.  But it hurt their frames.  I eat, drink, and sleep sound as ever, I lay no anxious schemes for going hither and thither, but take things as they occur.  Yesterday I excursioned twenty miles; to-day I write a few letters.  Pleasuring was for fugitive play-days:  mine are fugitive only in the sense that life is fugitive.  Freedom and life co-existent!

At the foot of such a call upon you for gratulation, I am ashamed to advert to that melancholy event.  Monkhouse was a character I learned to love slowly; but it grew upon me yearly, monthly, daily.  What a chasm has it made in our pleasant parties!  His noble, friendly face was always coming before me, till this hurrying event in my life came, and for the time has absorbed all interest; in fact, it has shaken me a little.  My old desk companions, with whom I have had such merry hours, seem to reproach me for removing my lot from among them.  They were pleasant creatures; but to the anxieties of business, and a weight of possible worse ever impending, I was not equal.  Tuthill and Gilman gave me my certificates; I laughed at the friendly lie implied in them.  But my sister shook her head, and said it was all true.  Indeed, this last winter I was jaded out; winters were always worse than other parts of the year, because the spirits are worse, and I had no daylight.  In summer I had daylight evenings.  The relief was hinted to me from a superior power when I, poor slave, had not a hope but that I must wait another seven years with Jacob; and lo! the Rachel which I coveted is brought to me.

[1] Wordsworth’s cousin, who was ill of consumption in Devonshire.  He died the following year.



April 6, 1825.

Dear B.B.,—­My spirits are so tumultuary with the novelty of my recent emancipation that I have scarce steadiness of hand, much more mind, to compose a letter.  I am free, B.B.,—­free as air!

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The Best Letters of Charles Lamb from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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