Monday, February 6, 2017


I think of this as a subject
for Charles Lamb, to whose es-
says from the 1820s I was com-
mended by my father, so that
as I encountered them under
scholastic compulsion, I was
ready to be unresisting. As
Elia, Lamb describes an uncle
who could have been a father,
and such men one knows, too.

.. and how he used to carry me on his back when I was a lame-footed boy - many a mile when I could not walk for pain; and how in after life he became lame-footed too, and I did not always (I fear) make allowances enough for him when he was impatient, and in pain, nor remember sufficiently how considerate he had been to me when I was lame-footed; and how when he died, though he had not been dead an hour, it seemed as if he had died a great while ago  .. yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him. I missed his kindness and I missed his crossness, and wished him to be alive again, and was as uneasy without him, as he must have been when the doctor took off his limb ..

Charles Lamb
Elia and The Last
  Essays of Elia
    A Reverie
Jonathan Bate
Oxford University Press, 1987©

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