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I have passed all my days in London ... the lighted shops of the Strand and Fleet Street; the innumerable trades, tradesmen and customers, coaches, waggons, playhouses; all the bustle and wickedness round about Covent Garden; the very women of the town; the watchmen, drunken scenes, rattles; life awake, if you awake, at all hours of the night; the impossibility of being dull in Fleet Street; the crowds, the very dirt and mud, the sun shining upon houses and pavements, the print shops, the old bookstalls, parsons cheapening books, coffee houses, steams of soups from kitchens, the pantomimes—London itself a pantomime and a masquerade—all these things work themselves into my mind, and feed me, without a power of satiating me. The wonder of these sights impels me into night walks about her crowded streets, and I often shed tears in the motley Strand from fulness of joy at so much life. All these emotions must be strange to you; so are your rural emotions to me. But consider, what must I have been doing all my life, not to have lent great portions of my heart with usury to such scenes? In whimsical exaggeration Lamb sometimes wrote of his aversion from country sights and sounds, adopting that method partly perhaps for the purpose of rallying his correspondents, and partly for the purpose of accentuating his own "unrural notions." He was a Londoner of Londoners. In London he was born and educated, and in London—with a few of his later years in what is now but an outer suburb—he passed the fifty-nine years of his life. Beyond some childish holidays in pleasant Hertfordshire, a few brief trips into the country—to Coleridge at Stowey and at Keswick, to Oxford and Cambridge, and one short journey to Paris—he had no personal contact with the outer world. He delighted in his devotion to London, and stands pre-eminent as the Londoner in literature. Lamb's mother, Elizabeth Field, is—for obvious reasons—the only member of the immediate family circle whom we do not meet in his writings. His maternal grandmother—the grandame who is to be met in his verses and in some of his essays—was for over half a century housekeeper at Blakesware in Hertfordshire, and with her, as a small boy, Charles spent pleasant holidays. A schoolfellow's description of him may help us to visualize the elusive figure of which we have no early portraits, and the later portraits of which are understood to be wanting in one regard or another. His countenance, says this early observer, was mild; his complexion clear brown, with an expression that might lead you to think that he was of Jewish descent. His eyes were not each of the same colour: one was hazel, the other had specks of grey in the iris, mingled as we see red spots in the bloodstone. His step was plantigrade, which made his walk slow and peculiar, adding to the staid appearance of his figure

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