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.

Dear Robinson,—­I called upon you this morning, and found that you had gone to visit a dying friend.  I had been upon a like errand.  Poor Norris [1] has been lying dying for now almost a week,—­such is the penalty we pay for having enjoyed a strong constitution!  Whether he knew me or not, I know not, or whether he saw me through his poor glazed eyes; but the group I saw about him I shall not forget.  Upon the bed, or about it, were assembled his wife and two daughters, and poor deaf Richard, his son, looking doubly stupefied.  There they were, and seemed to have been sitting all the week.  I could only reach out a hand to Mrs. Norris.  Speaking was impossible in that mute chamber.  By this time I hope it is all over with him.  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 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.  He was the last link that bound me to the Temple.  You are but of yesterday.  In him seem to have died the old plainness of manners and singleness of heart.  Letters he knew nothing of, nor did his reading extend beyond the pages of the “Gentleman’s Magazine.”  Yet there was a pride of literature about him from being amongst books (he was librarian), and from some scraps of doubtful Latin which he had picked up in his office of entering students, that gave him very diverting airs of pedantry.  Can I forget the erudite look with which, when he had been in vain trying to make out a black-letter text of Chaucer in the Temple Library, he laid it down and told me that “in those old books Charley, there is sometimes a deal of very indifferent spelling;” and seemed to console himself in the reflection!  His jokes—­for he had his jokes—­are now ended; but they were old trusty perennials, staples that pleased after decies repetita, and were always as good as new.  One song he had, which was reserved for the night of Christmas Day, which we always spent in the Temple.  It was an old thing, and spoke of the flat-bottoms of our foes and the possibility of their coming over in darkness, and alluded to threats of an invasion many years blown over; and when he came to the part—­

  “We’ll still make ’em run, and we’ll still make ’em sweat,
   In spite of the devil and ‘Brussels Gazette,’”—­

his eyes would sparkle as with the freshness of an impending event.  And what is the “Brussels Gazette” now?  I cry while I enumerate these trifles.  “How shall we tell them in a stranger’s ear?” His poor good girls will now have to receive their afflicted mother in an inaccessible hovel in an obscure village in Herts, where they have been long struggling to make a school without effect; and poor deaf Richard—­and the more helpless for being so—­is thrown on the wide world.

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