It was time, in 1798, that Lamb had something to laugh about, and life had recently sent him George Dyer, the Cambridge Classics scholar. Soon it would send him Robert Southey, as well turned out, earnest, and sure of himself as Dyer was shabby, earnest, and absent-minded. Both were poets and radicals. Lamb had been much acted upon; now he began to mould and direct the currents of his own life, within the limits set, drawing to himself the friends who appealed to him. These became, gradually, a regiment of intimates and near intimates. More than most of us Lamb was driven to live through his friends and to make of those like George literary and epistolary capital; Southey, not written about except to friends, would now be his confidant in place of Coleridge. Mary was Charles’s central concern as his father failed, but Lamb would not write about her until later. We barely hear of the elder John now, or even (in letters still extant) of his death in the spring of 1799.
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- 19.Identified by Kenneth Curry, in ‘The Contributors to the Annual Anthology’, Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America Vol. 42, First Quarter, 1948.Google Scholar