Poor Relations by Charles Lamb
Charles Lamb occupies a unique place among English essayists. It is his essays that have secured the permanence of his name. Through all his essays, there runs a vain of warm sympathies, genial humour, tendernessand pathos. He attracts the readers by his humanity and tenderness. He usually writes under the pen name of "Elia".
Poor Relations is one of the most interesting essays of Lamb. Lamb begins the essays- with an element of humour and ends it with an element of pathos. He gives many metaphorical phrases to describe the poor relation. The poor relation is an unwanted and unwelcomed visitor. His presence is embracing to other in the house. Lamb calls the poor re;lations;
"The most irrelevant thing in nature, a haunting conscience, an unwelcome remembrance, a drain on your purse, a stain in your blood,…" and so on.
The whole description of the manners and habits of the poor relation is full of humours. The poor relation enters the house with a smiling face but at once he feels embraced. He holds out his hand to shake but draws it back again. He is having some kind of complex. He is a puzzle to the servants. He reminds his unwelcoming past.
"His memory is unseasonable, his compliments perverse; his talk a trouble…"
Lamb then talks about a female gender poor relation.
"There is a worse evil under the Sun and that is a female poor relation."
A female poor relation is revealed by her ragged clothes. She is all the time conscious of her poverty. She exposes her inferiority at the dinner table.
Richard Amlet is a character in the comedy, the confederacy, produced by sir John Vanburugh. He is a son of Mrs.Amlet, a rich but vulgar trade woman. She stands as an obstacle to her son in marrying a rich lady.
Lamb then gives an account of poor. W__, that is, Favell, who had studied with him at the Christ hospital school. Later Favell went to the Oxford. He loved the place very much but disliked the society. Favell has pride and self respect. When his father, a house painter settled near Oxford. He could not endure his poverty. He ran away from the university and joined the army. Soon he was killed in St.Sebastin.
Elia narrates another incident. This is about Mr.John Billet, he is a relative of Lamb's father.he used to meet Lamb's father on Saturdays. One fine day he met an insult from the hands of Lamb's aunt. He could not endure that and died soon at the mint in 1771. After his death, they found five pounds, fourteen shillings and a penny in his desk, which was enough for his funeral. He left the world without any debt.
Thus Lamb has given a psychological insight in his descriptions of the habits and manners of poor relations.