Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/434

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the Lambs had found a situation as governess in Suffolk, had a serious illness, during which Lamb visited her, and finally brought her home, convalescent, to Enfield. In 1833 the Lambs moved once more, and for the last time. Mary's improvement in health had been merely temporary, and it became necessary for her to be under more skilful and constant nursing. During previous illnesses she had been placed under the care of a Mr. and Mrs. Walden, at Bay Cottage, Edmonton (the parish adjoining Enfield), and now the brother and sister moved together, to spend, as it proved, the last two years of their united lives under the Waldens' roof.

In the same year Emma Isola became engaged to Edward Moxon, and the marriage took place in July 1833, leaving Charles Lamb yet more lonely, and without social resource. The ‘Last Essays of Elia,’ mainly from the ‘London Magazine,’ were published this year by Moxon, and but for an occasional copy of verses for a friend's album, Lamb's literary career was closed. In July 1834 Coleridge died, and with this event Lamb's last surviving friend passed from him. He himself, more and more lonely and forlorn, bore his heavy burden five months longer. One day in December, while walking on the London Road, he stumbled and fell, slightly wounding his face. A few days later erysipelas supervened, and he had no strength left to battle with the disease. He passed away without pain, on 27 Dec. 1834, and was buried in Edmonton churchyard. His sister survived him nearly thirteen years, dying at Alpha Road, St. John's Wood, on 20 May 1847; she was buried beside her brother. Charles left her his savings, amounting to about 2,000l., and she was also entitled to the pension reserved to her by the terms of Lamb's retirement from the India House.

No figure in literature is better known to us than Lamb. His writings, prose and verse, are full of personal revelations. We possess a body of his correspondence, also of the most confidential kind, and his friends have left descriptions of him from almost every point of view. He numbered among his earliest friends Coleridge, Southey, Wordsworth, and among his later Proctor, Talfourd, Hood, Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, Crabb Robinson, while many of his most characteristic letters were written to men who have attained general fame mainly through Lamb's friendship. Notable among these are Thomas Manning and Bernard Barton. No man was ever more loved by a wide and varied class of friends. His lifelong devotion to his sister, for whose sake he abjured all thoughts of marriage; the unique attachment between the pair; Lamb's unfailing loyalty to his friends, who often levied heavy taxes on his purse and leisure; his very eccentricities and petulances, including his one serious frailty—a too careless indulgence in strong drinks—excited a profound pity in those who knew the unceasing domestic difficulties which he surmounted so bravely for eight-and-thirty years. It is likely that the necessity of protecting and succouring his sister acted as a strong power over his will, and helped to preserve his sanity during the hardship of the years that followed. But one result of the taint of insanity inherited from his mother was that a very small amount of alcohol was enough at any time to throw his mind off its balance. He was afflicted, moreover, all his life with a bad stutter, and the eagerness to forget the impediment, which put him at a disadvantage in all conversations, probably further encouraged the habit. The infirmity, which has been in turn denied and exaggerated by friends and enemies, never interfered with the regular performance of his official duties, or with his domestic responsibilities.

The extant portraits of Lamb are the following: 1. By Robert Hancock of Bristol, 1798, drawn for Joseph Cottle; in the National Portrait Gallery. 2. By Wm. Hazlitt, 1805, in a fancy dress; in the National Portrait Gallery. 3. By G. F. Joseph, A.R.A., 1819; water-colour drawing made to illustrate a copy of ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers;’ in the British Museum. 4. Etching on copper by Brook Pulham, a friend of Lamb's in the India House, 1825. 5. By Henry Meyer, 1826; in the India Office: of two small replicas one is in the National Portrait Gallery and the other belongs to Sir Charles Dilke, bart., M.P. 6. By T. Wageman, 1824 or 1825; engraved in Talfourd's ‘Letters of Charles Lamb,’ 1837; in America. 7. Charles Lamb and his sister together, by F. S. Cary, 1834; in the National Portrait Gallery. 8. By Maclise, sketch in ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ 1835.

Lamb's writings published in book form are: 1. ‘Poems on Various Subjects, by S. T. Coleridge, late of Jesus College, Cambridge,’ 1796, contains four sonnets by Lamb signed ‘C. L.,’ referred to by Coleridge in his preface as by ‘Mr. Charles Lamb of the India House.’ 2. ‘Poems by S. T. Coleridge, 2nd edit., to which are now added Poems by Charles Lamb and Charles Lloyd,’ 1797. 3. ‘Blank Verse by Charles Lloyd and Charles Lamb,’ 1798. 4. ‘A Tale of Rosamund Gray and Old Blind Margaret, by Charles Lamb,’ 1798. 5. ‘John Woodvil, a Tragedy, by Charles Lamb,’ &c.,