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PREFACE.

Having for more than sixteen years enjoyed a large share of the affectionate regards, sympathy, and inmost confidence of the most variously gifted and extraordinary man that has appeared in these latter days, it has been to me a most melancholy, though not unpleasing task, to arrange these materials, so as to give to you, my dearest children, some idea-alas, how poor!-how inadequate it must be, of that friend for whose sake you are, if possible, more dear to me.

To you, my dearest Elizabeth, the fairy Prattler of the Letters, and to you, Robin, the still Meek Boy, I am especially desirous to convey, through these fragments, some better, some more entirely individualized notion of the earliest friend, best, and first lost.

Of the no less loving, not less to be loved Charles Lamb, having been housemates, your recollections need not this aid. I stood beside the grave, and saw when it received their loved forms, and, since then, I seem to have lived on their memories.

Lamentation and regrets for the loss of such men would be felt by all who knew-and were worthy to be known by—them, as a grievous wrong

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done to their memories. If we have not learned from, and for, these men, that boisterous grief, grief of which the signs are external and visible, is an inadequate and unfitting tribute, then, as relates to the manner in which they would be remembered, they have failed to make themselves understood.

Thoughts that are, indeed, too deep for tears, mingle with all our recollections of that gray-haired old man, that mightiest master of poetry and of philosophy in their truest and only valuable sense.

To have known such a man, to have shared his many sorrows and sufferings, and to have partaken of the few and far-between gleams of glad and joyous sunshine which fell to his lot, are recollections to be cherished in the inner sanctuary of our hearts. Few, indeed, as were the gleams of genial, and warm, and cordial uprising of that noble and pureminded spirit in later years, still to him it was an ever new delight to impart all he had learned, all he had experienced, and much in which he could only have been his own teacher, to those who sought him in sincerity and simplicity of heart.

I seek most earnestly to make you know the minds of these, to you, ancient of days; and I think I shall best effect this by allowing them to speak for themselves. “Of the dead,” says the old adage, “nothing but what is good.” I say to you “nothing-or what is true.

Of the first of these friends, both lost in the past year, I shall chiefly speak to you; more full and sufficient records of the last I earnestly hope to

see from the pen of one every way fitted, both by love and fine appreciation of his character, to the task.

I have given with the Letters such brief notices and recollections as seemed likely to enable you to appreciate that great and extraordinary mind, that greatest and truest philosopher, in the highest and only true sense of that term, in its combination with love.

Upon the Letters and Conversations, however, I chiefly rely for conveying to you some slight image, though vastly inadequate, of the mind of this won derful, this myriad-minded man, whose loss is, however, far too recent to admit of just or adequate estimation.

Cherished and sustained by his extraordinary intellect, and still more by the love and sympathy in which, like a vast reservoir, he always superabounded, and the fulness of which seemed to arise from its overflowing, I have been able to arrive at settled and definite conclusions

all matters to which I have heretofore attached value or interest. When I say that I have arrived at settled conclusions, you will not for a moment believe that my opinions can or ought to be received by others of a totally different experience, as truths for their minds; still less that matters which depend upon individual experience and temperament can be permanent truths for all time. You will find, and this it is which I wish to impress upon your minds, that a spirit of pure and intense humanity, a spirit of love and kindness, to which nothing is too large, for which nothing is too small, will be to you, as it has ever been to me, its own “exceeding great reward."

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This, my dear children, and I do not now address you only, nor your younger brothers and sisters, but I would fain speak to, and, on this point at least, could wish to be heard by, all young and confiding minds, has been to me a solace in sorrow, an unspeakable reliance and support when all outward has been lowering and overcast. This, indeed, it is, in the language of an early letter, “which, like an ample palace, contains many mansions for every other kind of knowledge (or renders it unnecessary),; which deepens and extends the interest of every other (knowledge or faculty), gives it new charms, and additional purpose: the study of which, rightly pursued, is beyond any other entertaining, beyond all others tends at once to tranquillize and enliven, to keep the mind elevated and steadfast, the heart humble and tender.” In this is the purest source of mental self-reliance, of selfdependance, and thence INDEPENDENCE, under all circumstances.

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