Notes of Lessons: Literature, Class IV

Notes of Lessons: Literature, Class IV

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children’s regular studies (in the Parents’ Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Subject: Literature • Group: English • Class IV • Age: 16 • Time: 45 minutes

By E.A. Parish
The Parents’ Review, 1903, pp. 686-687

Charles Lamb


I. To give some main principles on the choice of reading.

II. To give a short sketch of the life of Charles Lamb.

III. To show how the writer’s character is reflected in The Essays of Elia.

IV. To emphasize the fact that very thoughtful reading is necessary in order to get full pleasure and benefit from it.


Step I.—Decide with the pupils some principles on the choice of reading, such as the following:—

Never waste time on valueless books.

Have respect for the books themselves.

Try to cultivate taste by noticing the best pieces in any book that is being read.

Time is too short to read much; there is a necessity, therefore, for judicious selection.

The best literature can only be appreciated by those who have fitted themselves for it.

It is more important to read well than to read much.

The gain of reading some of the most beautiful literature while we are young is that we shall then have beautiful thoughts and images to carry with us through life.

To get at the full significance of a book it is necessary to dig for it.

Thus The Essays of Elia are not only pleasant reading, but they are the reflection of the writer’s character. All that Lamb was can be gathered from his works, and to rightly understand these one must know something of the grand though obscure life of Charles Lamb.

Step II.—Try to draw from the girls, who are already familiar with some of the essays, what they can tell us of Charles Lamb.

Charles Lamb was born 1775. His father was a domestic servant to Mr. Salt, whose portrait is found in The Old Bencher of the Inner Temple. 1782, Charles received a presentation from Mr. Salt to Christ’s Hospital (see Essay). The result of his education is summed up in The Schoolmaster. From fifteen to 20 he was a clerk in the South Sea House (Essay).

In 1795 he was transferred to the India House. He lived near Holborn with his parents and his sister Mary. Here took place the sad accident occasioned by Mary’s insanity.

Charles’ heroic resolution. One learns something of the dream he renounced in Dream Children. His work at the India House was uninteresting, but such as left him leisure for intellectual pursuits. This distribution of occupation was a means of conserving his mental balance. His literary work was all done in the evening: “Candle light” in Popular Fallacies.

The girls will read Talfourd’s estimate of Lamb.

Letters to Robert Lloyd show Lamb’s persistent cheerfulness. The cheerful tone is also noticeable in many of his essays: Mrs. Battle, All Fools Day, My Relations (portrait of John Lamb), Mackery End (portrait of Mary Lamb), Poor Relations and Captain Jackson. C. Lamb died 1834.

Step III.—Summarize by questions.