What four things did Charles Lamb and his sister enjoy doing when they were poor?
Charles Lamb’s closest playmate was his sister Mary, eleven years his senior.
Before Charles was born, Mary enjoyed, and later shared with Charles, the healthful life of the country in her mother’s native county of Hertfordshire, where there were still relatives.
In nearby Mackery, there was a married great-aunt whom Mary visited. Here, she relished the farm setting, enjoyed the fields of sheep and young lambs, and then the sheep shearing. There was hay making, the thresher in the barn, collecting eggs and violets, the orchard, the farm house suppers, and the great wood fires.
She also visited her maternal grandmother, Field, who was a housekeeper at a stately mansion called Blakesware, not far from Hertfordshire. Here, the young Mary (and later Charles) was free to explore the house and its grounds. In her explorations, Mary was overjoyed one day, after she had repeatedly tried to pry open an old lock on a door, to discover a large library. Thereafter she abandoned her usual haunts and spent entire mornings in this room. After the death of the owner, when Mrs. Field was in sole charge of the estate, Charles had the same free rein that his sister Mary had experienced.
The children’s father was a clerk to a London lawyer named Samuel Salt. The family had use of Mr. Salt’s office and house, which included the use of the library. Here Mary (and later her brother) pored over books about witches and martyrs, which is thought to have contributed to her later madness, as well as her brother’s.
There was also the Temple Gardens, with its churchyard with sun-dials, tombstones, gardens, and fountain – all balm, and avenues for exploration, for the sensitive natures of the Lamb siblings.