The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

VIII. Lamb

§ 2. Mary Lamb

For a time, however, the consolations of religion were foremost in his mind. His mother had, for some time, been helpless and dependent upon the care of her daughter. On 22 September, 1796, Mary had a sudden fit of insanity, in which she killed her mother. She was removed to a private asylum at Islington, and Charles and his father went to 45 Chapel street, Pentonville. Sarah Lamb, an aunt who lived with the family, was taken into the house of a rich relation, but soon returned to her brother and nephew, dying early in 1797. Lamb, thus, in his twenty-third year, had “the whole weight of the family” thrown on him—a father in his second childhood, a dying aunt and a sister whose returning reason was liable to fail again at any moment. John, the elder brother, though possessed of many good qualities, was wrapped up in his own affairs. It would have been easy to have taken his advice and consigned Mary permanently to a madhouse; but Charles preferred to make a home for his sister. During her father’s lifetime, rooms were found for her at Hackney. Here, Charles spent his Sundays and holidays, and, when their father died in 1799, she took up her abode permanently with her brother, leaving him only when the threatenings of recurrent attacks of insanity made it necessary.