Two Races of Man by Charles Lamb | Summary

Two Races of Man by Charles Lamb | Summary

Summary of Two Races of Man by Charles Lamb

In the essay Two Races of Man, Charles Lamb explains two distinct races of the human species (i) one race includes men who borrow, or borrowers and (ii) the another race consists  of the men who lend, or lenders. He also says that there are several kinds – Celtic tribe, Gothic tribe, White men, black men and red men; there are also Parthians, Mades and Elamites. But Lamb includes all of them into his two divisions – borrowers and lenders. Lamb opines that the people belonging to the first Category, i.e., borrower, are superior than the second. Their superiority is seen in their appearances and behaviours. These men are open-minded and generous; they can be trusted. On the other hand, lenders are born degraded; they are thin in their appearance and are very suspicious.

Lamb mentions the names of the greatest borrowers. They are Alcibiades, Sir Jhon Falstaff and Sir Richard Steele and Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Lamb tells us that the borrowers have generally the smooth behaviour. They have reliance on providence. They contempt money be- cause they have noble disregard for the private property. They make no distinction between ‘mine’ and ‘thine’. Actually, the borrowers consider ‘neighbours’ property as theirs. But they cannot think the opposite of the proposition.

Lamb compares the borrowers with tax collector. A tax-collector collects money from all the people of this world. Similarly, a borrower borrows from every lender on this world. But there is a difference between Emperor Augustus and the poor citizen who paid the taxes. The borrower demands money in a delightful way. He gives no receipt for the money. There is no particular day of borrowing money. A borrower can borrow money in any day. He is like the sea which has no tide, but which has current. He gets money from everybody he demands. A lender should not hesitate to borrow money, because he must lend. So lenders should give money cheerfully and smilingly.

Bigot was a borrower who died on a Wednesday evening. He lived without trouble and died without trouble. He claimed that he descended from the royal family and his behaviour and action reflected this. He had a lot of wealth. But he considered wealth as burdensome luggage and he exhausted his wealth completely and then he started living by borrowing money from others.

Also Read:


Lamb describes that Bigot was a person who borrowed money from one-tenth of the whole population. He borrowed this money in the course of his journeys. Lamb also accompanied him several times and he met the people from whom Bigot borrowed money. Bigot did not feel discomfort in meeting with them. Rather he took pride in counting them from whom he had borrowed money.

Bigot borrowed money from lenders. But his pocket was always vacant. He believed that money should not be kept more than three days in the pocket because if it was kept, it gave foul smell. So he spent money in fresh condition. He spent his money by drinking wine; he also spent it by giving it to others, and he threw away the remaining into the holes and into the ponds. When he had money with him, he cast it out like Ishmael who was cast with his mother by Abraham. He did not regret for the money he threw away because he obtained money from endless sources. Bigot had a cheerful open exterior, jovial eye and a bald forehead. He requested for money in such a way that the lenders could not but helped him with money. Lamb thinks that Bigot was superior than the people who lent him money.

Apart from the people who borrow money, there are people who borrow books. Lamb feels disturbed with the thought of the book- borrowers because he had a lot of collection of books in his room. He considers that book-borrowers are more dangerous than the people who borrow money. When a man borrows a book from the shelf, it has been disturbed and the borrowers spoils the serial number of books on that shelf. Then Lamb refers Coleridge as the book-borrower who is given the name of Comberbatch.

Lamb describes that Coleridge borrows books from him. Once Coleridge borrows the works of Bonaventura. As a result a wide-gap was created in the bottom shelf. The books which were in both sides of those books were like the dwarfs beside the giants. Then Lamb expresses Coleridge’s theory that a man who was the better power to understand and appreciate a book has a better right of that book. Lamb also opines that if Coleridge went on actively upon his theory, the shelves of many people would be vacant.

Then Charles Lamb mentions the names of the books which Coleridge borrowed from him. Coleridge borrowed some books in thinking that he was more suitable for those books than Lamb.

Lamb opines that Coleridge deserves credit when he borrows books. In fact, when Coleridge takes away some books from Lamb, he also leaves some books which he borrows from others. Lamb thus used to gather some books in his collection. He considers these books as orphans and twice deserted; he also welcomes those books heartily. Lamb thinks that there is no harm in collecting those orphan’ books in his shelf.

Coleridge borrows the books but he returns them after enjoying the books. Actually, Coleridge borrows the books to read them thoroughly. So Lamb lends books to Coleridge, who is not a spoiler. But sometimes, Coleridge does injustice to Lamb. Coleridge carries off some books with- out paying any attention to Lamb’s protest. The books which he carries off without permission are – The Letters of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. Coleridge has taken away those books to France. Not only Coleridge alone but also his wife takes away the works of Fulke Greville. Lamb’s protest is that Coleridge’s wife borrows these books when there are, no women, in France or England, who can understand them.

Lamb requests the readers not to show their collections to any- body. When it is shown, people want to borrow some books from the collection. If anyone intends to lend books to others, he should give them to the persons who like Coleridge return the books with annotations and critical comments which add extra values to those books. Many books of Lamb have been enriched by Coleridge in this way, such as – Daniel’s The Civil Wars, Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, Browne’s Religio Medici etc. So Lamb appeals to the readers not to shut their hearts and libraries against the persons like Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

3 thoughts on “Two Races of Man by Charles Lamb | Summary”

Leave a Comment