||Come back! Charles Lamb Essayist
Let’s start re-explorations into his Elia
Introductory Remarks by hokuto77
Subtle Sympathies between Lamb and hokuto77
Lamb and Gender Roles
Introductory Remarks by hokuto77
| Sooner or later, dear readers, you'll notice that my essay on Lamb is wanting in fullness, compared with his literary gems and, sorry to
say, it lacks the form of essay itself.
Elia was a long way off, though he was always silently in a bookcase in my small
study. A lapse of years－about two scores of years has passed before my
opening the bookcase to be friends with him.
As an English literature student, I, now named hokuto77 on this website, had long cherished it in mind to read through Elia sometime when I'm free. In Japan, English literature scholars in the Meiji era (1868-1912) and the Taisho (1912-1926) were unanimously loud in the praise of Charles Lamb, as the top prose writer or the number one essayist in the English speaking world.
When I was a college student, some Professor kindly recommended me to
try reading his "Essays of Elia". However, the Essays was not easy to read for ordinary Japanese students. To enjoy Elia to the full requires a large vocabulary and sharp nuance as well as a wide range of knowledge of Greek and Roman myths, let alone the Bible. If not, students would have to spend a vast amount of time on reading
It seemed to me, then, it was doubtless that these difficulties, if overcome,
would bring them a new world of English language and literature, with additional
learning acquired.The Essays will lead those who read them to a new literary realm where they are to
develop a feeling for language, what is better, to acquire the ability
to distinguish a delicate shades of meaning.
After reading Hazlitt, all things considered, I grappled with the Essays of Elia, rather definitely resolved, if I may be allowed a little exaggeration.
A lot of literary people, poets, dramatists, and novelists, contemporary
with Lamb, are referred to or quoted in the Essays and a great many citations from Latin, old classics (which are, to those who have no such achievements, very troublesome as if lost in a deep forest or caught in a traffic jam) play very important parts here and there, just like those of Hazlitt. If you try your best to overcome it, you will be led to brilliance as a
litarary student. This is confirmed in the following passages, quoted from
Malcolm Elwin, and there also I can find out why my Professors, forty years ago, recommended
me to read Elia.
Here you've got a few quotations.
The quotation ① goes:
<In his manual on ’Literary Taste’ Arnold Bennett recommended the Essays of Elia as the best book for the beginner who wishes to cultivate taste in English
literature."He is a great writer," wrote Bennett, "wide in his appeal, of a highly sympathetic temperament; and his finest achievements are simple and very short." Bennett advised the beginner in literature to "let one thing lead to another."
Notes by hokuto77 (for Japanese high school students):
manual = handbook appeal=attraction, interest
"In the sea of literature every part communicates with every other
part; there are no land-locked lakes ... Lamb, if you are his intimate, has already brought you into relations with a number of other
prominent writers with whom, you can in turn be intimate... Among these
are Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt. You cannot know Lamb without knowing these men "..."
or quite enclosed by land
It is true that Elia provides a starting point for many investigation; his streets are full of sign-posts with alluring names, inviting exploration
of crooked alleys that may lead suddenly upon unforgettable views. For
this reason, an edition of Elia without adequate footnotes is like leaving a stranger after dark in a network of by-ways unlighted by
alluring=charming, fascinating crooked=not straight alley=narrow street lead upon=come upon + lead to
footnotes=notes at foot of page by-ways=secluded roads form an idea of=know
Since "the book is nothing but the expression of the man," Bennett emphasized that "the beginner in literary study should always form
an idea of the man behind the book."> (Written by Malcolm Elwin)
Here you realize a question is raised: why was Hazlitt not recommended as a guide for English literature? The answer won't be
given in a short time. Lamb and Hazlitt were on friendly terms with each other but there are lots of differences
between them, especially in style, and their personnalities and directions
of intellect. The first few lines of their essays tell me that there's
a marked difference between the two. As for style, Hazlitt tastes like a white wine, while Lamb a brandy. Brandy is distilled from wine, which may be one part of the answer to the above question. It's clear
that there's no superiority or inferiority in the differences between the
two essayists. Both have their own worthy points and peculiarities.
Another part of the answer may be attributed to the difference of their
personalities, some of which I mentioned above, not to the literary talent
or an artistic treatment of materials, which, I thnk, safely I can say.
From the viewpoint of dignity as man, there's no struggle for mastery of
personalities. The point is, which type is found the more favorable by
those who read them.
Lamb pays a humane close attention to everyday lives and draw a lot from them,
which reminds me of Buson's view of human beings. In Elia, he does not talk about the government or the trend of the times or economic
problems, or religious conflicts.
Time outside Elia flies very fast but once inside his world, we feel the passage of time very slow, as if going back to the past where we don't worry about the time or wandering into that timeless world, our time perception getting blunt.
It’s of great relief to us readers to tackle Elia without any worldly disturbance and it's a very imaginative and dreamy
thinking to wonder what origin each of the Essays comes from. Some impressions I got of Elia may be confirmed by the following quotation.
The following is quotation②:
<In Elia there is no intrusion of disturbing emotion. There is nothing of religion or politics to inflict the discomforting embarrassment of controversial or speculative thought. Lamb would have delighted in the ponderous attempts of academic critics to explain away as harmless paradox Elia's description of the characters in the comedies of Congreve and Wycherley
as "a world of themselves almost as much as fairy-land. " ---"
Notes by hokuto77 (for Japanese high school students) :
intrusion <intrude=force thing upon person disturbing=worrying controversial=likely to cause controversy (=holding debate or
discussion) speculative<speculate=form opinions without having definite or complete knowledge or evidence i.e. based on
reasoning, not facts ponderous=without vigor, heavy, dull academic=scholarly; merely logical
*Congreve: William Congreve (1670-1729) play-right
Wycherley fairyland=home of fairies
The world of books afforded for him always a fairyland of escape, and
in Elia he devised for himself and his followers such another fairyland
This is the abiding charm of Elia. He is the prince of escapists. Making
no demands upon the jaded mind, inflicting no rubs on the tender consciences,
he invites his reader to leisured enjoyment of evening twilight in a world
of comfortable illusion.
follower<follow=go after as admirer, take ---
as guide or master devise=think out, invent abiding=permanent, lasting
escapist<escapism=tendency to escape from
the realities of life into fantasy jaded=tired out inflict=make somebody suffer
something, impose suffering upon--- rub=roughness leisured=having plenty of leisure(=spare time)
As Stevenson is the essayist addressing his message to inquiring and romantic
youth, Elia addresses his appeal to the many, who, weary of the present
and indifferent to the future, wish to cultivate a mood of pleasurable
reminiscence, necessarily wistful, but without the bitterness of regret.>
inquiring=showing an interest in learningnew things weary of=no longer interested in cultivate=cherish
reminiscence=remembering wistful=full of sad or vague longing, esp., for something that is past
(Written by Malcolm Elwin)
|Subtle Sympathies between Lamb and hokuto77
For some forty years I was a high school teacher. One of the Essays, which attracted my attention first, was 'The Old and New Schoolmaster'. I remember reading some parts at a college seminar. About its amusing
episode I will relate my readers here at the end of the chapter Part 2, if possible.
My reading has been lamentably desultory and immethodical. Odd, out of
the way, old English plays, and treatises, have supplied me with most of
my notions, and ways of feeling. In everything that relates to science,
I am a whole Encyclopedia behind the rest of the world.
Notes: by hokuto77 ( for Japanese high school students)
desultory=not continuous, changing from one thing to another immethodical=not systematic odd=out of the way
*out of t he way=uncommon treatise=literary composition dealing more or less systematically definite subject
behind=making less progress than
everything---I am a whole Encyclopedia behind the rest of the world = I have acquired by far less knowledge than the rest of the
world have. Ex, they were ten years behind their neighbors in knowledge.
I should have scarcely cut a figure among the franklins, or country gentlemen,
in King John's days. I know less geography than a schoolboy of six weeks'
standing. To me a map of old Ortelius is as authentic as Arrowsmith.
cut a figure=be distinguished
franklins=landowner of free, but not noble birth in 14th and 15th century
owning a lot of land standing=continuance, duration, the length of time that something has existed
authentic=trustworthy * a schoolboy of six weeks' standing=a boy who has been in school for six weeks
I do not know whereabout Africa merges into Asia; whether Ethiopia lie
in one or other of those great divisions; nor can form the remotest conjecture
of the position of New South Wales, or Van Diemen's Land. Yet do I hold
a correspondence with a very dear friend in the first named of these two
or change gradually into something else conjecture=guessing
Notes: ( by Kiichi Hirata, Malcolm Elwin)
King John= king of England (1190~1216) Ortelius=Abraham Ortelius(1527-1598) who made the first recognized successful atlas
in 1570. People call him Father of Modern Cartography. Arrowsmith=Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) who was an English
artographer, engraver and publisher (of maps) and founding members of the
Arrowsmith family of geographers.(from Wikipedia)
New South Wales=Australia Van Diemen's Land=Tasumania name(v)=mention
Terrae Incognitae(L.) =”terra incognita” (unknown land)
I have no astronomy. I guess at Venus only by her brightness-and if the
sun on some portentous morn were to make his first appearance in the West,
I verily believe, that, while all the world were gasping in apprehension
about me, I alone should stand un-terrified, from sheer incuriosity and
want of observation."---"
Notes: by hokuto77 ( for Japanese high school students)
portentous=of a sign of a future event morn=morning verily=really, truly sheer=absolute; mere
* if the sun---were to make---, ~ I should
stand--- ( if=even if )
I am entirely unacquainted with the modern language; and like a better
man than myself, have "small Latin and less Greek." I am a stranger
to the shapes and texture of the common trees, herbs, flowers－not from
the circumstance of my being town-born－for I should have brought the same
inobservant spirit into the world with me, had I first seen it "on
Devon's leafy shores,"
leafy=having many trees and plants * I should have brought---, had I first seen---(=if I had first seen---)
－and am no less at a loss among purely town objects, tools, engines, mechanic
processes.－Not that I affect ignorance－but head has not many mansions,
nor spacious; I have been obliged to fill it with such cabinet curiosities
as it can hold without aching. I sometimes wonder how I have passed my
probation with so little discredit in the world, as I have done, upon so
meagre a stock.
*no less=at least as much *Not that ~ but---=Not because ~ but because --- affect=pretend cabinet=case with drawers
etc for keeping valuables or displaying curiosities *curiosity=a strange or rare object cabinet curiosities i.e.fragments
pieces of knowledge probation=testing of person's conduct or character esp. before he is admitted to regular employment
or full membership of some society discredit=loss of reputation or respect meagre=small in quantity and poor in quality
But the fact is a man may do very well with a very little knowledge, and
scarce be found out, in mixed company; everybody is so much more ready
to produce his own, than to call for a display of your acquisitions. But
in a tete-a-tete there is no shuffling. The truth will out. There is nothing
which 1 dread so much, as the being left alone for a quarter of an hour
with a sensible, well-informed man, that does not know me. I lately got
into a dilemma of this sort.－End quote.
(From 'The Old and New Schoolmaster')
find out=detect, discover produce=bring before the public acquisitions=things acquired tete-a-tete=a private interview
or conversation usually between two shuffling=deceitful action, trickery(Onions) out=come out, be revealed
the being=the person that exists sensible=of good sense
*Instead of presenting Japanese translation of the above passage, hokuto77
commented on it as
plainly as possible, hoping young readers, esp. those in high teens will
consult them usefully.
Now, my impressions on the quoted passages go:
(1) Right at the outset two pairs of words, each with a same meaning, "desultory－immethodical",
"odd－out of the way" are paralleled in order to emphasize the
meaning. The parallel of words, phrases or syntax is a highly effective
means of expression in the foreground of an essay. In the case of this essay, it gives readers a lovely surprise and has a rather immediate effect
on their understanding of Lamb's whole intention. In other words, it's very logical and persuasive to
(2) The metaphor here is very powerful or appropriate, and that in clear
concrete terms. It gives impressiveness to the idea. "I am a whole Encyclopedia behind the rest of the world." By this, Lamb refers to an Encyclopedia as a means of comparison. It's very witty and
pleasing. All the other people know a lot and produce or display what they
have acquired as if they knew a "whole" Encyclopedia, but 'my' knowledge is very scanty. Read from the other side, it shows readers
his virtue of modesty, ━ believing that he is not important, better, or cleverer than other people, without any speck
(3) The self-depreciating expressions on his part do not always lead to a sense of dislike or disgust on the part of readers. He relates his knowledge, abilities, and achievements, as we have already seen, with
a very abnormal modesty, but not with a pretended one. To look for examples,
we will find them here and there in Elia. His modesty connects rather with a sincere satire on himself not with a pride or arrogance.
(4) His descriptions of details on some theme are thorough and absolute. In this passage, he mentions his wide range of knowledge; from science proper to technology, all in nine items,－ science, geography, astronomy, history and chronology, geometry, modern
language, plants, and machinery. But it does not necessarily mean that Lamb shows off his breadth of learning, but rather his humility about his achievements.
It's very strange that, as for other items except for nine of the above, we cannot help but wonder whether he is proficient in them or not. This may be one of his charming points, and it may stands for one aspect of his noble and refined personality.
(5) Classics or works of his contemporaries are quoted in such a natural and ingenuous manner that
they can't be recognized as such on the spot. They are completely involved
into his syntax. But some time it’s clearly shown as a quotation. Please just read below:
The above expressions are quoted in successive three lines as if they were
not derived from other sources but of his own creation. These are perfectly assimilated to his style and finally into one of the constituent parts of his originals. So nowadays nobody can have the copyright on the expressions.
||"on Devon's leafy shore"
There is no shuffling. (Hamlet III iii 61)
The truth will out.
(6) His satires, one of which you've already seen in (3), are found here and there
but they are, as a whole, very pleasant to read. Some additional examples
'---like a better man than myself, have small Latin and less Greek'
In this sentence Lamb suggests that a better man than himself is Shakespeare. The word "small" is equivalent to "little" in meaning and in this respect
'less' means smaller. Lamb learned Latin to an amazing degree, but about Greek he learned far less than Latin.
'Everybody is so much more ready to produce his own, than to call for a
display of your acquisitions'.
This is common knowledge from an everyday experience in society, but when Elia mentions it, strangely it sounds like a new truth of his own discovery.
(7) Books were everything to those who had a desire for learning in the
era when Lamb lived. Reading was the key to the building of personality. It's a matter of course that 'desultory' reading did not beget anything useful in this respect.
Even if did arise an opportunity to read systematically, most of the masses missed, or were deprived of the million-to-one chance
that they'd meet. When Lamb says "desultory", it's a sort of luxury given only to some chosen people. Lamb realized it, so that he says "my reading is lamentably desultory". It doesn't seem it's his pretence. It must be his hearty confession. I'm going on with my exploration into 'The old and new school master' for a further excitement. I just hope dear readers will follow me.
The modern schoolmaster is expected to know a little of everything, because his pupil is required not to be entirely ignorant of anything. He must be superficially, if I may so say, omniscient. He is to know something of pneumatics; of chemistry; of whatever is curious, or proper to excite the attention of the youthful mind; an insight into mechanics is desirable, with a touch of statistics; the quality of soils, etc., botany, the constitution of his country,ァcum multis aliis.
Notes on words, idioms, constructions by hokuto77:
schoolmaster=a teacher in a school, esp. a private school omniscient=knowing everything (omni: omnis form of Latin=all)
pneumatics=science of mechanical properties of air or other elastic fluids or gases proper=fit, suitable a touch of=a small
amount of constitution(of his country)=mode in which State is organized; body of fundamental principles according to which a
State is Governed *ァcum multisaliis(L.)=with many other matters
You may get a notion of some part of his expected duties by consulting
the famous Tractate on Education, addressed to Mr. Hartlib. All these things－these,
or the desire of them－he is expected to instill, not by set lessons from
professors, which he may charge in the bill, but at school-intervals, as
he walks the streets, or saunters through green fields (those natural instructors),
with his pupils.
get a notion of =have an idea of tractate eatise *Tractate on Education, (which was) addressed to Mr. Hartlib.
address(v)= send as a written message to (some one); to write (anything) expressly
*Mr. Hartlib=Samuel Hartlibwho was a
merchant in London and a friend of Milton’s.
In 1644, Milton addressed to him Tract on Education. instill=put---into mind gradually
set=composed beforehand charge ~ in the bill i.e. in time he may do set lessons himself charge=enter cost to account i.e.
recording costin the bill bill=note of charges for goods,
work done, etc.cf. Thearticle is not charged in the bill. i.e. The article is
not written down in the bill. saunter=walk inleisurely way *as he walks the---=when he walks the---
The least part of what is expected from him, is to be done in school-hours. He must insinuate knowledge at the ィmollia temora fandi. He must seize every occasion－the season of the year－the time of the day －a passing cloud－a rainbow－a waggon of a hay－a regiment of soldiers going by－to inculcate something useful.
*The least part of what is expected from him, is to be done in school-hours.
=What he does in school hour is not expected of him
at all. insinuate =introduce gradually or subtly,(convey indirectly) ィmolliatemorafandi(L.)=the soft(i.e. favourable) times for
speaking regiment=a large military group, under the command of a colonel inculcate =impress (fact, habit, idea) persistently in
He can receive no pleasure from a casual glimpse of Nature, but must catch
at it as an object of instruction. He must interpret beauty into the picturesque.
He cannot relish a beggar-man, or a gipsy, for thinking of the suitable
improvement. Nothing comes to him, not spoiled by the sophisticating medium
of moral uses.
casual =due to chance, accidental the picturesque =such as would be effective in a picture relish =get pleasure out of, like, be
pleased with *for thinking of---=in order to think of--- sophisticate=spoil the simplicity or purity or naturalness of
*Nothing comes to him, not spoiled by ---=Everything that comes to him is
always spoiled by--- medium=means
The Universe－that Great book, as it has been called－is to him, indeed,
to all intents and purposes, a book, out of which he is doomed to read
tedious homilies to distasting schoolboys.
all intents and purposes=practically, virtually doom=destine homily =tedious moralizing discourse tedious=tiresomely long
distasting =(arch. dislike) distasting schoolboys=schoolboys who dislike tedious homework
－Vacations themselves are none to him, he is only rather worse off than
before; for commonly he has some intrusive upper-boy fastened upon him
at such times; some cadet of a great family;
none=no vacations whatever worse off<badly off=having little money,
poor i.e. The schoolmaster is obliged to spend money for a
boy following him during vacations. intrusive=causing one to be disturbed upper=higher in rank, dignity
fasten =attach commonly, usually cadet=younger son
some neglected lump of nobility, or gentry; that he must drag after him
to the play, to the Panorama, to Mr. Bartley's Orrery, to the Panopticon,
or into the country, to a friend's house, or his favourite watering-place.
Wherever he goes this uneasy shadow attends him. A boy is at his board,
and in his path, and in all his movements. He is boy-rid, sick of perpetual
boy. End quote. (From The old and new school master)
neglected=not treated with proper attention; disregarded lump=dull or indolent person nobility=the or a class of nobles
gentry=people next below the nobility in
position and birth *Panopticon was a lecture theater in Leicester Square, where common
lectures of science were held. orrery=clockwork model of planetary system country=rural parts or any spot in them as opposite
towns or the capital watering-place=spa. seaside health-resort at his board=when he is at table boy-rid=haunted by boys
[ride=haunt=be persistently with) rid(arch.)=ridden] sick of=bored with, not liking throughhaving had too much
perpetual=continual, too frequent omni-science=infinite
knowledge, orthe affectation of it
The first reading of the passages created some pleasing impressions on
me. One reason is; Latin is used in two parts very naturally and effecttively from the point of
both syntax and rhythms. It's Lamb's one of the most excellent achievements. But I think the reason why he used Latin may be that the schoolmaster's duty is, probably he wanted readers to know, as troublesome as though to learn Latin.
Another is; the items about schoolmaster's office are of surprisingly
detailed description and full of reality. Maybe it comes from his experiences in schooldays. He stayed at Christ's Hospital for seven years, which was, if striclty ranked, would be a sceond-rate boarding school, but was surely one of the public schools of fame and tradition and full of violence. Very sympathetic with hard and painful situations of schoolmaster, Lamb wrote about it with a touch of pathos, but strangely, I read there a sort of longing for wide knowledge, and especially for 'being boys'.
As for his breadth of knowledge, the weak points in science are mentioned in detail at the outset, where he tells us he's got very little scientific knowledge, and to his great wonder, schoolmasters have got to know something of everything, even about science in which Lamb confesses he is very weak. To know one thing well is better than to know many things by halves, as is, in a sense, considered an important idea, but the great wonder
of his may be regarded as a kind of longing.
Concerning boys and their noises, he writes thus, in lines right after the above quoted passage:
Boys are capital fellows in their own way, among their mates; but they
are unwholesome companions for grown people."---" Even a child,
that "plaything for an hour," tires always."---" It
is like writing to music. They seem to modulate my periods. They ought
at least to do so－for in the voice of that tender age there is a kind of
poetry, far unlike the harsh prose-accents of man's conversation. "---".
His longing for boys keeps himself away from being always with them and by letting them be in their own way, he makes the longing a lasting one.
||capital=excellent, first-rate unwholesome<wholesome=producing a good effec
always=if we grown-ups are always with a child modulate=vary or regulate the pitch or intonation of, adjust
esp. in sound i.e. change (in this case 'music' and 'modulate' are puns.) periods =either (1)complete sentences
esp. one of several clauses, or (2)formal discourse, stately rhetoric;
harsh=rough to the senses or feelings; unfeeling
prose-accent=accent of plain matter-of-fact quality i.e. without any rhyme or rhythm.
The last reason for the good impressions on me is; some of the duties of schoolmasters are associated with what is called a 'general learning' class (総合的な学習の時間)in Japanese schools, where there are no authorized text books for both
teachers and students. But, in Japan, to learn from Nature, the Universe, and daily lives of common people, or from students' practical experiences is all "to be done in school-hours", not "at school-intervals." Japanese teachers are far more fortunate than schoolmasters of
Lamb's times. His strong sympathy for the schoolmaster, I'm sure, will strike a responsive
chord with those Japanese teachers of today who are busily occupied with
I would not be domesticated all my days with a person of very superior
capacity to my own－not, if I know myself at all, from any considerations of jealousy or self-comparison,
for the occasional communion with such minds has constituted the fortune
and felicity of my life－
be domesticated=be made to be at home communion =holding
intimate intercourse, sharing,
but ア the habit of too constant intercourse with spirits above you, instead of
raising you, keeps you down. Too frequent doses of original thinking from others, restrain what lesser
portion of faculty you may possess of your own. You get entangled in another
man's mind, even as you lose yourself in another man's ground.
amount of medicine or a drug to be taken at a time even
as --= just as –
You are walking with a tall varlet, whose strides out-pace yours to lassitude.
Theconstant operation of such potent agency would reduce me, I am convinced,
page preparing to be a squire out-pace i.e.
going faster than lassitude =a state of feeling very tired in mind or
body; lack of energy operation=active process, performance potent=powerful,
mighty agency=active operation, action
imbecility=the state of being stupid
You may derive thoughts from others;ィ your way of
thinking, the mould in which your thoughts are cast, must be your own. Intellect maybe imparted, but not
each man'sintellectual frame.－ As little as
I should wish to be always thus dragged upwards, as little (or rather still less) is it desirable to be stunted downwards by
your associates.The trumpet doesnot more stun you by its loudness, than
a whisper teases you by its provoking inaudibility.
growth or development of tease=worry (esp. with playful malice) provoke=give
rise to anger
Why are we never quite at our
ease in the presence of a schoolmaster?－because we
are conscious that he is not quite at his ease in ours. He is awkward, and out
of place in the society of his equals. He comes like Gulliver from among his little
people, and he cannot fit the stature of his understanding to yours. He
cannot meet you on the square.He wants a point given him, like an indifferent
whist-player. He is so used to teaching, that he wants to be teaching you.
Notes (by hokuto77):
awkward=clumsy stature=the height of a human body on the square=honest,
sincere, genuine=on equal terms (Notes by K.
Hirata) a point given i.e. as a handicap whist-player=a person
who play a whist whist=a card game(long, short ~, with ten,
five, points to the game)
ゥOne of these professors, upon my complaining that ェthese little sketches of mine were anything but
methodical, and that I was unable to make them otherwise, kindly offered to instruct me in the method by which young gentlemen in his seminary were taught to compose English themes.
indifferent=neither good n or bad,
rather bad (Notes by K. Hirata) anything but=far from
The jest of a schoolmaster are coarse, or thin. They do not tell out of
school. He is under the restraint of a formal or didactic hypocrisy in
company, as a clergyman is under a moral one. He can no more let his intellect
loose in society.than the other can his inclinations. He is forlorn among
his coevals; his juniors cannot be his friends. End quote. (from 'The
Old and New Schoolmaster')
jest=a joke coarse=rude, unrefined, vulgar didactic=meant or meaning to instruct (Gkdidasko=teach) tell=produce a
noticeable effect inclinations=disposition;
liking forlorn=abandoned coeval=a person of same age
My general impressions on Elia:
My essay on Lamb is very meager, compared with his fine pieces of prose, the literary gems. My conclusion goes:
The characteristics of Lamb's essays are that, the framework is logically consistent and relevant concrete
instances based on his own experiences are elaborately developed into the main issue, whose process
is so bewitching that, once fascinated, it is rather tough to escape his power to charm us.
The sensibility and thinking unique to Lamb and peculiarities of his ways of life were too striking to be missed or changed by anybody else.
This is shown in the first half of the quoted passage. He would not bury himself in other people. He always had a strong desire to be original and preserved his originality all his life both in literature and actulal life style, even if its range was
limited. On the other hand, he was not reluctant to get information, knowledge,
thoughts, and intellect itself from others.
That is why, it's safely said, he acquired a world-wide reputation as a first rate essayist in the early 19th century, though he was not educated in university. His uniqueness is, in any case, constant and unchangeable in any way. In the
passage, his argument is well developed, and very persuasive to present-day readers.
In spite of myself, some time I nodded, responding to his views, while
reading the italicized parts, ア/a/,イ/ɪ/,ウ/ʊ/,エ/e/ and some time made a new discovery of his intellectual delicacy and finally he won a mute but 'thundering' applause from me.
The latter half the passage is mostly made up of finding fault with schoolmasters, as well as professors,
or of telling that schoolmasters' acquisitions are far from being welcomed
to ordinary people. Specialists as they are, both clergymen and schoolmasters are, in their ways of thinking and activity,
restricted to narrow limits within their own. The world in which they live is not open to ordinary citizens, nor to
the world as a whole. This may also be true to people of other professions, specialists, including
craftsmen in the town.
Why did he refer to these peculiarities of schoolmasters' or professors'? The answer
may be that it resulted from his sympathy for them, not his despise to the occupation. Strange enough, I remember this part was studied in a seminar of 'modern essays' when I was a college student and then Professor Ogura(小倉) complained to his students, when the italicized part ウ/ʊ/ was discussed, that Alas! finally, a professor became a victim of Lamb's pen.
It's regrettable that in those days I did not have any literary ability
or experience to fully appreciate Lamb's superb style of literature.
When I read for the first time 'Modern Gallantry', I thought Lamb should be revaluated more highly, just as Henry David Thoreau was done in a world-wide scale on account of his love of nature and for his simple life according to the throb of nature.
The rason is, today the environment of the Earth is in danger of being largely destroyed
which will possibly lead to that of human beings ourselves, especially through a growing rise in the Earth’s temperature.
Today, even in Japan, gender studies are very active in many fields and
the movements to stop the gender bias and establish gender-free society, that is, equality
of the sexes are hopefully spreading with much rapidity and supported by lots of sensible
people everywhere in Japan. Nevertheless, violence in home, so-called domestic violence,DV－wives being beaten by their husbands, or children beaten or teased to death
by grown-ups, especially by their own parents, are sadly growing in number.
It's a black tragedy and it must be prevented no matter what it costs.
Dear visitors, please allow new information to cut in here:
I read Vox Populi, Vox Dei, under the title of ‘Child
abuse an evil that involves all of society’, on March 15, 2010, several years after I had written this essay on 'Modern Gallantry'. I was so sympathetically touched by the article that I’ve decided to
quote relevant passages from it on its English edition for my dear readers.
“---” But sadly in our country, there seems to be no end to parents who,
instead of protecting their children from danger, become like demons and abuse
the little ones until their lives are *snuffed out. In some cases, in fact, I
would not hesitate to call the parents murderers.
Tomoki Yoshida in Nara Prefecture was starved to death by his parents. At age 5, he reportedly weighed only 6 kilograms. Rikito Shindo in Saitama Prefecture, who was 4 when he died, had been heard by neighbors begging for water.
addition to their obvious physical agony, both youngsters must have suffered
unimaginable terror and despair. My heart breaks with pity for these little
boys who died under such cruel circumstances. “---”
Whenever there is child abuse, I should hope that the entire community
or society would spread its arms wide and draw itself up to its full height
to confront the crisis. Action must be taken before any young life is snuffed
out.Once the child is dead, it's too late.
--- The Asahi Shimbun English edition, March 7, 2010
[Note by hokuto77]
*snuff --- out=stop or destroy something completely
is the day when the article was run in Japanese.
I think it a historically striking fact that as early as in the early 19th century Lamb insisted eagerly and very concretely, on women being treated with the kindest attention and courtesy, as a female. As is clearly acknowledged, he respected human rights of women, regardless of their birth, social status, or
wealth or appearances. Every work by Lamb should be re-read in a new light, though he is already regarded as a feminist, and it's highly desirable that more
and more people be interested in his works and his views of life and women. In 2004, in Japan, women have so much energy as to be enthusiastic over
a Korean male film star, and the boom "Dear Yon" is at its height all over Japan. I heartily hope Japanese women, young and old, spare some of the energy on reading Elia, calling "Dear Elia" in addition to "Dear Yon".
Now I quote some part of 'Modern Gallantry'.
|*You can get a few versions of The Essays of Elia translated into Japanese.
エリア随筆 (岩波文庫 赤 223-1) ラム 戸川 秋骨
(文庫 - 1940/9/10)
エリア随筆抄 (大人の本棚) チャールズ ラム、Charles Lamb、山内 義雄、 庄野 潤三
エリアのエッセイ (平凡社ライブラリー) チャールズ ラム、Charles Lamb、 船木 裕 (新書 - 1994/10）
エリア随筆集〈続〉 (1948年) (英米名著叢書) C.ラム 石田 憲次
(- - 1948)
In comparing modern with ancient manners, we are pleased to compliment
ourselves upon the point of gallantry; a certain obsequiousness, or deferential
respect, which we are supposed to pay to females, as females.
gallantry; [Here followed, in the London Magazine, "as
upon a thing altogether unknown to the old classic ages. This has been
defined to consist in a certain obsequiousness, or---"] (by M. Elwin) compliment--on~=express praise or admiration in a polite
manner point=the essential thing, the heart of the
matter=the essential meaning, feature(OALD)
to women, =polite attention given by men to women obsequiousness<obsequious=showing too much respect for
conduct be supposed to do=be
expected to do or required to do
I shall believe that this principle actuates our conduct, when I can forget,
that in the nineteenth century of the era from which we date our civility,
we are but just beginning to leave off the very frequent practice of whipping
females in public, in common with the coarsest male offenders.
motive to date from=have origin from
civility=civilization(by KH) *When I
can forget---=There is no such
thing as---=I see no longer~ leave off=cease to wear, to do, come to an end
in common with=in
the same way as
coarse=unrefined offender=guilty person
I shall believe it to be influential, when I can shut my eyes to the fact,
that in England women are still occasionally－hanged.
influential=having great influence *I can
shut my eyes to---=There is no such thing
existing=I see no longer~
I shall believe in it, when actresses are no longer subject to be hissed
off a stage by gentlemen.
faith in the existence of anything subject to=liable or
exposed or prone to hiss=express
I shall believe in it, when Dorimant hands a fish-wife across the kennel; or assists the apple-woman to pick up her wandering fruit, which some unlucky dray has just dissipate.
gallant, a man of fashion = the gallant man of fashion in Sir George Etherege's
comedy, 'The man of Mode, or Sir Fopling
Flutter.'( by Malcolm) hand(V)=help
(person) with the hand (into, out of, carriage etc.) fish-wife=woman selling fish
kennel=gutter wandering=scattered dray=low cart without sides for heavy loads dissipate=scatter
I shall believe in it, when the Dorimants in humbler life, who would be
thought in their way notable adepts in this refinement, shall act upon
it, in places where they are not known, or think themselves not observed ━
in their way=if regarded from a particular standpoint appropriate to them adept=one who is thoroughly proficient in—
refinement=fineness of feeling or taste, polished manners observe=take notice of
when I shall see the traveller for some rich tradesman part with his admired
box-coat, to spread it over the defenseless shoulders of the poor woman,
who is passing to her parish on the roof of the same stage-coach with him,
drenched in the rain ━
travels from place to
place as the representative of a business firmer an agent employed by a commercial firm
to travel from place to place
showingsamples if goods and soliciting custom=commercial traveler(by K.Hirata)
box-coat= heavy overcoat worn
by coachman on the box, or by those who are riding outside a coach box=driver's seat on a coach
when I shall no longer see a woman standing up in the pit of a London theatre,
till she is sick and faint with the exertion, with men about her, seated
at their ease, and jeering at her distress; till one, that seems to have
more manners or conscience than the rest, significantly declares "she
should be welcomed to his seat, if she were a little younger and handsomer."
pit=ground floor of auditorium of theatre jeer at=throw contempt on distress=extreme discomfort
Place this dapper warehouse man, or that rider, in a circle of their own
female acquaintance, and you shall confess you have not seen a politer-bred
man in Lothbury.
dapper=neat, smart in appearance or movement warehouseman=(esp.) person taking temporary charge of others' furniture &c.
rider=commercial traveler(by K. Hirata) politer-bred i.e. more
Lastly, I shall begin to believe that there is some such principle influencing
our conduct, when more than one-half of the drudgery and coarse servitude
of the world shall cease to be performed by women.
drudgery=hard boring work (OALD),work of a person who works hard at distasteful
tasks servitude=exhausting labor
Until that day comes, I shall never believe this boasted point to be anything
more than a conventional fiction; a pageant got up between the sexes, in
a certain rank, and at a certain time of life, in which both find their
account equally. End quote. (from 'Modern Gallantry')
this boasted point=certain obsequiousness, or deferential respect, which we are supposed
to pay to females, as females.
more than a conventional fiction = a real
thing fiction= a thing that is invented or imagined and is not
true / conventionally accepted falsehood pageant=something which is a mere empty or specious show without substance
or reality get up=stage * a conventional fiction;
a pageant got up between the sexes
Judging from his argument in these passages, Lamb was certainly thinking of 'gender freer'. The reason is that he led his life as a feminist, in thoughts and behaviors, is that his elder sister Mary Lamb(1764 - 1847), in a sense, had a favorable influence on him in building up his viewpoint of womanhood. To Lamb, the display of 'gallantry' means to treat women as his equals, there being no gender bias at all in his mind and heart. In its true sense of the word, Lamb was a man of 'gallantry', of valor, dashing courage, as if that in front.
I quote further parts of 'Modern Gallantry' in order to see how he organizes his deep thinking as a feminist. He tells women how to think and behave in response to men's 'gallantry' and finally he gives a fine object lesson to the both sexes: that man should be equal,
not partial, to any woman in gallantry; and that woman must be proud of herself as a woman and respect herself as a female.
Joseph Paice , of
Bread-street-hill, merchant, and one of the Directors of the South Sea company ━the same to whom Edwards, the Shakespeare commentator, has addressed a fine sonnet ━ was the only pattern of consistent gallantry I have met with. He took
me under his shelter at an early age, and bestowed some pains upon me.
director of the South-Sea Company, into whose office Lamb went on leaving
school to learn book-keeping and
business habits (by Malcolm Elwin) *the same to whom
[the same=the same person i.e. Joseph Paice] Edwards i.e. Thomas
Edwards, known more of a critic than a poet, was Joseph
Paice's uncle (by Kiichi Hirate) address
a fine sonnet to--=write and send
a fine sonnet to--- sonnet=a
poem that has 14 lines, each containing 10 syllables and a fixed pattern of
He was never married, but in
his youth he paid his addresses to the beautiful Susan Winstanley ━ old Winstanley's
daughter of Clapton ━ who dying in the early days of their courtship, confirmed in him the resolution
of perpetual bachelorship.
courtship=courting with a view to marriage; wooing [court=make
love to with a view to marriage] confirm=make stronger
perpetual=continuous bachelorship=unmarried life
It was during their short courtship, he told me, that he had been one day
treating his mistress with a profusion of civil speeches ━ the common
gallantries ━ to which kind of thing she had hitherto manifested no repugnance－but in this instance with no effect. He could not obtain from her a decent
acknowledgement in return. She rather seemed to resent his compliments.
He could not set it down to caprice, for the lady had always shown herself
above that littleness.
a profusion of=a great quantity of civil=polite repugnance=dislike, antipathy gallantry=polite speech
plainly to eye or to mind effect=result,
consequence decent=good enough/satisfactory
expression of thanks for compliment=an expression of praise, admiration, etc. set--down=attribute to
littleness=littleness of mind,
pettiness(by K. Hirata) that littleness=caprice=a sudden change in attitude or behavior with
When he ventured on the following day, finding her a little better humoured,
to expostulate with her on her coldness of yesterday, she confessed, with
her usual frankness, that she had no sort of dislike to his attentions;"---"that
she hoped she could digest a dose of adulation, short of insincerity, with
as little injury to her humility as most young women: but that ━
venture to do=dare,
not be afraid to do expostulate=protest to--- no sort of--=no—whatever (used as an emphatic negative
phrase to denote the complete absence of anything of the kind specified ━
OED) attentions=courtship, addresses
digest=endure, be reconciled to dose=an amount
of flattery *digest--dose
(two words are related in meaning)
short of=less than— insincerity<sincerity adulation<adulate=flatter basely humility=humbleness
a little before he had
commenced his compliments━ she had overheard him by
accident, in rather rough language, rating a young woman, who had not brought
home his cravats quite to the appointed time, and she thought to herself, "As
I am Miss Susan Winstanley, and a young lady ━ a reputed beauty, and
known to be a fortune, ━
angrily overhear=hear as unintended listener cravats=broad necktie
considered to be --- fortune=heiress
I can have my choice of the finest speeches from the mouth of this very
fine gentleman who is courting me but if I had been poor Mary Such-a-one
(naming ━the milliner), ━ and had failed of
bringing home the cravats to the appointed hour ━ though perhaps I
had sat up half the night to forward them ━ what sort of compliments
should I have received then? ━
one's choice --=can choose---
milliner=maker-up of or dealer of women's hats, ribbons, and so on
love of sit up=not go to bed forward(v)=accelerate
And my woman's pride came to
my assistance; and I thought, that if it were only to do me honour, a female, like
myself, might have received handsomer usage: and I was determined not to accept
any fine speeches, to the compromise of that sex, the belonging to which was
after all my strongest claim and title to them."
do me honour i.e. only to give me an honor as a female handsome=generous usage=treatment (handsome treatment:
POD) honour=civilities to guest and so on to the compromise of=imperiling
the reputation of(by K.
surrender of one's position for the sake of coming to terms(OED) claim=right or title to
recognized claim to thing or to do *the milliner=a young woman, who had not brought home his cravats quite to the
I think the lady discovered
both generosity, and just way of thinking, in this rebuke which she gave her
lover; and "---" I wish the whole female world would entertain the same notion of these
things that Miss Winstanley showed.
expression of sharp or severe disapproval to entertain=cherish *the whole female world [world=all that
concerns or all who belong to specified department or class, sphere, domain]
Then we should see something of the spirit of consistent gallantry; and
no longer witness the anomaly of the same man ━ a pattern of true politeness
to a wife ━ of cold contempt or rudeness, to a sister ━ the idolater of his
female mistress━ the disparager and despiser of his no less female aunt, or
unfortunate ━ still female━ maiden cousin.
to same principles anomaly=irregularity idolater=devout admirer(of)
slightingly of no less=as much maiden=virgin
Just so much respect as a
woman derogates from her own sex, in whatever condition placed ━ her handmaid, or
to have diminished from herself on that score; and probably will feel the
diminution, when youth, and beauty, and advantages, not inseparable from sex, shall
lose of their attraction. What a woman should demand of a man in courtship, or
after it, is first ━ respect for her as she is a woman; ━
away--from ~ hand-maid=female servant diminish=lessen,
make smaller score=point or matter
diminution=lessening lose of=lose
notes by hokuto77:]
Just so much respect as a woman derogates from her
own sex, in whatever condition placed－her handmaid, or dependent ━ she
deserved to have diminished from herself on that score
*she deserved to have diminished from herself Just so much respect as a
woman derogates from her own sex,
[・as=which・just so--as~=just as--as~]
whatever condition (she might be) placed
next to that ━ to be respected by
him above all other women. But let her stand upon her femal character as upon a
foundation; and let the attentions, incident to individual preference, be so
many pretty additaments and ornaments ━ as many, and as fanciful, as
you please ━ to that main structure. Let her first lesson be ━ with sweet Susan Winstanley
━ to reverence her
sex. End quote.
attentions=courtship, addresses incident to =apt to occur, naturally
attaching additament=anything added or appended; an
addition reverence=revere=feel deep respect or admiration for
Hokuto77's fervent wish:
Elia, including other works of Lamb, belongs to English literary classics, but sorry to say, does not attract
attention from people these days. Nevertheless, in classics, as everyone
knows, there can be found a lot of precious stones which still have their
brilliancy even in the 21st century. 'Modern gallantry' will surely be born again as one of fine jewels if people of all ages and both sexes savor it fully worldwide