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met the one by chance in the street without a wonder,
which was quickly dissipated by the almost immedi-
ate 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



42 CHRIST'S HOSPITAL

Cicero De Amicitia, or some tale of Antique Friend-
ship, 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



FIVE AND THIRTY YEARS AGO. 43

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 tar 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 shalt thou, their compeer, be quickly for-
gotten, 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 poig-
nant jest of theirs ; or the anticipation of some more
material, and, peradventure, practical one, of thine



44 CHRIST'S HOSPITAL.

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 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 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 tem-
per, 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 ex-
changed 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 Mis-
sionaries 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 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 !



46 THE TWO RACES OF MEN.

What a careless, even deportment hath your bor-
rower ! 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 commu-
nity, 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 be-
tween him and one of us, as subsisted betwixt the
Augustan Majesty and the poorest obolary Jew that
paid it tribute-pittance at Jerusalem ! His ex-
actions, 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 aces ! He cometh to you
with a smile, and troubleth you with no receipt ; con-
fining himself to no set season. Every day is his
Candlemas, or his Feast of Holy Michael. He ap-
plieth 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 travel-



THE TWO RACES OF MEN. 47

ler, 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 pre-
tended. Early in life he found himself invested
with ample revenues ; which, with that noble disin-
terestedness 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



48 THE TWO RACES OF MEN.

regal. Thus furnished, by the very act of disfurnish-
mentj 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 through-
out 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 occa-
sionally 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 con-
trived to keep his treasury always empty. He did
it by force of an aphorism, which he had often in



THE TWO RACES OF MEN. 49

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 per-
son that had the felicity to fall in with him, friend
or 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,
4



50 THE TWO RACES OF MEN.

tells you, that he expects nothing better ; and, there-
fore, 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 soci-
ety of lenders, and little men.

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
docks those mutilators of collections, spoilers of
the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd vol-
umes. There is Comberbatch, matchless in his dep-
redations !

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 Bonaventura, choice and massy divin-
ity, to which its two supporters (school divinity
also, but of a lesser calibre, Bellarmine, and Holy
Thomas), showed but as dwarfs, itself an Asca-
part ! that Comberbatch abstracted upon the faith



THE TWO RACES OF MEN. 51

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 pow-
ers 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," mourns his ravished
mate.

One justice I must do my friend, that if he some-
times, like the sea, sweeps away a treasure, at
another time, sea-like, he throws up as rich an equi-



52 THE TWO RACES OF MEN.

valent to match it. I have a small under-collection
of this nature (my friend's gatherings 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 He-
brews. 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 ac-
count 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 as-
suredly wouldst never turn over one leaf of the illus-
trious folio : what but the mere spirit of contra-
diction, 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 !



THE TWO RACES OF MEN. 53

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 French-
man, 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. - 1 counsel thee, shut
not thy heart, nor thy library, against S. T. C.



NEW YEAR'S EVE.



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 pre-
termitted by king or cobbler. No one ever re-
garded 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 sound of all bells (bells, the music nighest
bordering upon heaven) most solemn and touch-
ing 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



NEW YEAR'S EVE. 55

diffused over the past twelvemonth ; all I have done
or suffered, performed or neglected in that re-
gretted 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 ex-
claimed

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 pro-
spective. 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 for-
give, 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



56 NEW YEAR'S EVE.

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 in-
tervention 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



NEW YEAR'S EVE. 57

back-ground I must take leave to cherish the re-
membrance of that young master with as little
icference, 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 medica-
ments. 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 hang-
ing 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 guar-
dian, 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 symp-
tom 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



58 NEW YEAR'S EVE.

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 obser-
vance 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 reck-
oning 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 con-
fess a truth? I feel these audits but too power-
fully. I begin to count the probabilities of my dura-
tion, and to grudge at the expenditure of moments
and shortest periods, like miser's farthings. In pro-
portion 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



NEW YEAR'S EVE. 59

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 inev-
itable 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 hand-
somer. 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 Lavin-
ian 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 con-
versations, and innocent vanities, and jests, and



Online LibraryCharles LambCharles Lamb's essays → online text (page 4 of 32)