Charles Lamb.

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nalties, forbad the indulgence of a
drink of water, when we lay in sleep-
less summer nights, fevered with the
season, and the day's sports.

There was one H , who, I

learned, in after days, was seen ex-
piating some maturer offence in the
hulks. (Do I flatter myself in fancy-
ing that this might be the planter of
that name, who suffered at Ne-
vis, 1 think, or St. Kits, some

few years since? My friend Tobin was
the benevolent instrument of bringing
him to the gallows.) This petty Ne-
ro actually branded a boy, who had
oflfended 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,
witii 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 mhiion, could
he have kept his own counsel — but
fbolisher, alas ! than any of his species
in the fables — waxing fat, and kick-
ing, in the fulness of bread, one un-
lucky 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 dis-
missed, with certain attentions, to
Smithfield ; but I never understood
that the patron underwent any cen-
sure on the occasion. This was in the
stewardship of L.'s admired Perry.

Under the same facile administra-
tion, can L. have forgotten the cool
impunity with which the nurses used
to carry away openly, in open plat-
ters, for their own tables, one out of
two of every hot joint, which the
careful matron had been seeing scru-
pulously weighed out for our dinners?
These things were daily practised in
that magnificent apartment, which L.
(grown connoisseur since, we pre-
sume) 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 conso-
latory to him, or us, the living ones,
who saw the better part of our pro-
visions carried away before our faces
by harpies ; and ourselves reduced
(with the Trojan in the hall of Dido)


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 mor-
sels are never grateful to young pa-
lates (children are universally fat-
haters) and in strong, coarse, boiled
meats, unsahed, are detestable. A gag-
eater in our time was equivalent to a
goal, and held in equal detestation,
* * * * suffered under the imputation.

■'twas said,

He ate strange flesh.

He was observed, after dinner, care-
fully to gather up the remnants left
at hjs table (not many, nor very choice
fragments, you may credit me) — and,
in an especial manner, these disreput'"
able 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 dis-

486 Christ* s Hospital Jive and thirty Years ago, CN'or.

coverable. Some reported, that, on
leave-days, he had been seen to carry
out of the bounds a large bhie check
handkerchief, full of something. This
then must be the accursed thing.
Conjecture next was at work to ima-
gine 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 power-
mi a boy to be beaten, but he under-
went every mode of that negative
punishment, which is more grievous
than many stripes. Still he persever-
ed. 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 spe-
cimens of in Chancery-lane, which
are let out to various scales of pauper-
ism) with open door, and a common
stair-case. 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 infor-
mers had secured their victim. They
had him in their toils. Accusation
was formally preferred, and retribu-
tion most signal was looked for. Mr.
Halhaway, the then steward (for this
happened a little after my time,) with
that patient sagacity which tempered
all his conduct, determined to inves-
tigate the matter, before he proceed-
ed to sentence. The result was, that
the supposed mendicants, the receiv-
ers, 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 mendi-
cancy ; and that this young stork, at
the expence 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 me-
dal. The lesson which the steward read

upon RASH JUDGMENT, on the occa-
sion of publicly delivering the medat

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 as-
suage 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 punishm.ent 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 up-
on straw and a blanket — a mattress, I
think, was afterwards substituted —
with a peep of light, let in ascance,
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 wa-
ter — who might not speak to him ; — or
of the beadle, who came twice a week
to call him out to receive his periodi-
cal chastisement, which was almost
welcome, because it separated him
for a brief interval from solitdue: —
and here he was shut up by himself
of nights, out of the reach of any
sound, to suffer whatever horrors the
weakn erves,and superstition incident
to his time of life, might subject him
to.* 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 expul-
sion was at this time deemed irrever-
sible, was brought forth, as at some
solemn auto dafe, arrayed in uncouth
and most appalling attire — all trace
of his late *^ watchet weeds" careful-

• One or two instances of lunacy, or attempted suicide, accordingly, at length con*
▼inced the Governors of the impolicy of this part of the sentence, and the midnight tor-
ture 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 stony gaberdine."


Chris fs Hospital Jive and thirty Years ago*


ly effaced, he was exposed in a jack-
et, resembling those which London
lamplighters formerly delighted in,
with a cap of the same. The effect
of this divestiture was such as the in-
genious devisers of it could have an-
ticipated. With his pale and fright-
ed features, it was as if some of those
disfigurements in Dante had seized
upon him. In this disguisement he
was brought into the haU (^L.'s favour-
ite state-rooni), where awaited nim the
whole number of his school-fellows,
whose joint lessons and sports he was
thenceforth to share no more ; the aw-
ful presence of the steward, to be seen
for the last time ; of the executioner
beadle, clad hi 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 under-
stood it), but to enforce the uttermost
stripe. Old Bamber Gascoigne, and
Peter Aubert, I remember, were col-
leagues 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 attend-
ing to the previous disguising circum-
stances, to make accurate report with
our eyes of the degree of corporal suf-
fering 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 ef-
fect of the scene, had his station al-
lotted to him on the outside of the
hall gate.

These solemn pageantries were not
played off so often as to spoil the ge-
neral mirth of the community. We
had plenty of exercise and recreation
after school hours ; and, for myself, I
must confess, that I was never hap-
pier, than in them. The Upper and
the Lower Grammar Schools were
held in the same room ; and an imagi-
nary line only divided their boimds.
Their character was as different as that
of the inhabitants on the two sides
' of th« Pyrennees. The Rev. James

Boyer was the Upper Master; but
the Rev. Matthew Field presided over
that portion of the apartment, of
which 1 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 molest-
ed 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 forget-
ting 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 autho-
rity; 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 juve-
nile 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 " in-
solent Greece or haughty Rome," that
passed current among us — Peter Wil-
kins — the adventures of the Hon. Capt.
Robert Boyle — the Fortunate Blue
Coat Boy — and the like. Or we cul-
tivated a turn for mechanic or scien-
tific operations; making little sun-
dials of paper ; or weaving those in-
genious parentheses, called cat-era'
dies; or making dry peas to dance
upon the end of a tin pipe ; or study-
ing 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 predomi-
nating dose in the composition. He


Christ* s Hospital Jive and thirty Years ago.


was engaged in gay parties, or with
his courtly bow at some Episcopal le-
vee, when he should have been at-
tending upon us. He had for many
years the classical charge of a hun-
dred 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 in-
troductory 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 con-
trast we presented to his end of the
school. We were a sort of Helots to
his young Spartans. He would some-
times, 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 our-
selves 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.* 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 gra-
titude ; the remembrance of Field
comes back with all the soothing ima-
ges of indolence, and summer slum-
bers, and work like play, and inno-
cent idleness, and Elysian exemptions,
and life itself a '^ playing holyday."

Though sufficiently removed from
the jurisdiction of Boyer, we were
near enough (as 1 have said) to un-
derstand a little of his system. We
occasionally heard sounds of the

Ululantes, and caught glances of Tar-
tarus. B. was a rabid pedant. His
English style was crampt to barba-
rism. HisEaster Anthems (for his duty
obliged him to those periodical flights)
were grating as scrannel pipes.f-—
He would laugh, aye, and heartily,
but then it must be at Flaccus's quib-
ble about i?ex or at the tristis seve-

rntas 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 se-
rene, smiling, fresh powdered, be-
tokening a mild day. The other, an
old discoloured, unkempt, angry
caxon, denoting frequent and bloody
execution. VV^oe to the school, when
he made his morning appearance in
his passy, or passionate wig. No
comet expounded surer. — I. B. had a
heavy hand. I have known him dou-
ble 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 /will too."
— In his gentler moods, when the
rabidus furor was assuaged, he had
resort to an ingenious method, pecu-
liar, for what I have heard, to him-
self, of whipping the boy, and read-
ing 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

• Cowley.

•f* 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 \^ertumnus and Pomona, is not yet forgotten ])y 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 v/ay of half-compliment, half-irony, that it was toa
classical for representation.


Christ* s Hospital Jive and thirty Years ago.

calculated to impress the patient with
a veneration for the difFuser graces of

Once, and but once, the uplifted
rod was known to fall ineffectual from
his hand — when droll squinting W —
having been caught putting the in-
side 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 for-
warned. This exquisite irrecogni-
tion 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 unavoidable.

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 mas-
ter was on his death bed'^" Poor I.
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 sub-
lunary infirmities."

Under him were many good and
sound scholars bred. — First Grecian
of my time was Lancelot Pepys Ste-
vens, kindest of boys and men, since
Co-grammar-master (and insepara-
ble 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 with-
out a wonder, which was quickly dis-
sipated 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 conve-
nient to retire, the other was not long
in discovering that it suited him to lay
down the fasces also. O 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 He Amicitia, or some tale of
Antique Friendship, which the young
heart even then was burning to anti-
cipate ! — 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 fol-
lowed 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
reverend for home institutions, and
the church which those fathers wa-
tered. The manners of M. at school,
though firm, were mild, and unas*
suming. — 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 ~, iU-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, in-
tranced with admiration, (while hej,
weighed the disproportion between the
speech and the garb of the young Mi-
randula,) to hear thee unfold, in thy
deep and sweet intonations, the mys-
teries 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 ac-
cents 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 per-
formances. C. V. L., with the Eng-


Old Stories— The Page faithful to Death.


iish man of war, lesser in bulk, but
lighter in sailing, could turn with all
tides, tack about, and take advan-
tage of all winds, by the quickness of
his wit and invention."

Nor shalt thou, their compeer, be
quickly forgotten, Allen, with the
<:ordial 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 Nireus formosus of the
school,) in the days of thy maturer
waggery, thou didst disarm the wrath
of hifuriated town-damsel, who, in-
censed by provoking pinch, turn-
ing tigress-like round, suddenly con-
verted by thy angel-look, exchanged
the half- formed terrible " bl ," for

a gentler greeting — '' Mess thy hand"
some 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 en-
during the slights poor Sizars are
sometimes subject to in our seats of
learning — exchanged their Alma Ma-
ter for the camp ; perishing, one by
climate, and one on the plains of

Salamanca : — Le G , sanguine,

volatile, svveet-natured; F dogg-
ed, faithful, anticipative of insult,
warm-hearted, with something of the
old Roman height about him.

Fine frank-hearted, Fr ,the pre-
sent master of Hertford, with Marma-

dukeT ^, mildest of Missionaries— •

and both my good friends still — close
the catalogue of Grecians in my time.



The Two Races of Men.



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 diversi-
ties may be reduced all those imper-
tinent classifications of Gothic and
Celtic tribes, white men, black men,
red men. All the dwellers upon earth,
^' Parthian s and Medes and Elam-
ites," flock hither, and do naturally
fall in with one or other of these pri-
mary distinctions. The infinite su-
periority of the former, which I choose
to designate as the great race, is dis-
cernible in their figure, port, and a
certain instinctive sovereignty. The
latter are born degraded. " He shall
serve his brethren." There is some-
thing in the air of one of this cast,
lean, and suspicious; contrasting with
the open, trusting, generous manners
of the other.

Online LibraryCharles LambCharles Lamb's essays : as first published in the London magazine : 1820-1825 → online text (page 3 of 33)