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(The Pieces in italics are by the Author's Sister.)
1 THE WITCH, A DRAMATIC SKETCH .
16 MISCELLANEOUS POEMS. Hester ..
. 16 To Charles Lloyd, an unexpected Visitor . 17 The Three Friends ...
ib. To a River in which a Child was drowned 19 The Old Familiar Faces . ..
ib Helen ...
ib. A Vision of Repentance
. Dialogue between a Mother and Child .. 20 Queen Oriana's Dream ..
Poor, in the ways of a rich Noble's Palace
ib. A Farewell to Tobacco
ib. To T. L. H. a Child .
22 Ballad, from the German
23 David in the Cave of Adullam .
by Lionardo Da Vinci
make place for a Portrait of a Lady by
Vinci, called the Virgin of the Rocks . . ib.
On the same.
the Prose Works of the Author Angel Help Sonnet - To Miss Kelly
On the Sight of Swans in Ken
• They talk of Time". The Christening ..
Memoir of Charles Lamb.
CHARLES LAMB, though less esteemed as a poet| mains on terms of friendship, himself unshaken than as a writer of essays and sketches of human and unseduced by their pernicious example. character, which display extraordinary powers of In 1798, Charles Lamb appeared before the description and observation, is one of the most public, in conjunction with his friend Charles peculiar and original characters of the time. His Lloyd; and the volume which they gave to the poetry is all copied from the Elizabethan era of world was entitled “Blank Verses.” A “ Tale of England,
or rather modelled upon the style of Rosamund Grey and Old Blind Margaret" follow. the Elizabethan writers, for his matter is exclu-ed, the same year; but a tragedy entitled “ John sively his own; and his way of life, like that of Woodvil,” a work of singular power and beauty, the courtiers and literary men around the Maiden which came out in 1801, may be said to have esQueen, is to the present public much of a mystery. tablished the writer's fame. This tragedy has all It is known that he was born in London about the faults and beauties of its author's style, but it the year 1775, educated at the Grammar School never has been popular, it being a great misfortune of Christ's Hospital, and that he spent his years, of the writers of more than one of the schools of up to a very recent period, in fulfilling the duties poetry which have been established and declined of a clerk in the Accomptant-General's office in in England during the last thirty years, that their the India House, an impediment in his speech mannerism has prevented their becoming riveted having incapacitated him for a situation where in the public mind; a sort of stiffness and myshe could have displayed his powers.
tery too, in addition, has excluded them from beFrom the earliest time of his life Charles Lambing classed among those poets whose verses the showed a strong predisposition for literary pur-simple and wayfaring, the child and the unin. suits. With his fondness for these the active structed, keep perpetually upon their lips. The duties of his situation were never suffered to thousand songs of our writers in verse of past interfere. His friends were nearly all selected time dwell on all tongues, with the Melodies of from authors, and not from individuals employed Moore; but who learns or repeats the cumbrous in business or commerce. In early life his inti- verses of Wordsworth, which require an initiamacies and friendships were principally among tion from their writer to comprehend ? Lamb has that class of writers designated as the “ Lake written some beautiful poetry, as close as posPoets,"—tnen who set out with revolutionary sible to the style in which he thinks Beaumont principles in politics, sonnetized regicides, and and Fletcher would write it, or Sir Philip Sidney planned pantisocratic societies in transatlantic or any of the poets of the era on which he de. deserts ; and then in a few years apostatized, and lights to dwell, and with the characters of which became the most servile tools of arbitrary power. he loves to fancy himself communing. Not so Charles Lamb. While it does not appear While he continued his acquaintance with that, even for a moment, he went into their wild many of the members of the Lake School, most extremes, so he never to the present hour desert- probably from early association and that noble ed the principles with which he began life, and principle which he avows of setting his face which, at between fifty and sixty years of age, against the too prevalent sin of estimating a man's he has lived to see obtain ground, and fix them- intellect by reference to his political tenets, an. selves immutably in the world. Whatever he other school of poetry arose in opposition to that saw of genius in these writers he still admits ; of the Lakers. The latter viewed this new school and it is not a little honorable to his charity, with bitter hatred; but though opposed in moral, that with most of his lake acquaintance he re- religious, and political principles to his early
companions, Lamb became intimate among and 1 The lake poets were so designated because they af. lives on terms of friendship with most of its memfected solitude and a love of nature, and some of them bers, who have the merit, whatever may be the took up their residence on the Lakes of Cumberland. Southey was their leader.
opinion of their doctrines, of far greater honesty
and consistency of principle than the Lakers.- ing Shakspeare read one of his scenes to him, Their talents are before the world. To this new hot from the brain.” school belonged the late poet Shelley, whose The conversation of Charles Lamb is very preg. lofty powers are unquestionable ; Keats, also nant with matter from his extensive reading, par. now deceased; and Leigh Hunt. These were ticularly on those subjects which are his hobbies. generally called the “Cockney” school by their It would be no great difficulty, in this book-mak. opponents. Their peculiar style of writing is ing age, to compile one out of the conversations getting into desuetude among that portion of the of an evening or two spent in his society. He is community with which it was once popular - a great humorist, even in his most serious opinwild and theoretic, but displaying talent amidst ions, and displays at times a fund of drollery. In all, the fate of these literary schools is what might everything, however, even in his philosophy and be expected, when they carried so far into ex- his jokes, humanity is paramount; and no man tremes
, opinions and systems that overstepped the exists who believes more devoutly in the axiom modesty of nature. Charles Lamb's intrepid re- of Shakspeare, that “there is a soul of goodness sistance to despotism in the republic of letters, in things evil.” He is the least obtrusive man in did him infinite honor; and he never would existence, and lives amid the dreams of the past have been forgiven by the “Lakers," had not time. Antiquity is his idol; he cannot fling him. his companionship been too interesting and his self forward into the future, and build his image friendship too honorable, to allow his early as- of poetic glory in an approaching optimism of sociates to forego either in revenge for his liber-things; he is content to think the past good ality. Lamb is independent in property, and enough for his quiet unambitious spirit, and to beyond any interested motives in his conduct; desire to re-embody the dust which he worshipe. political subserviency he would look upon with All he does is in a calm atmosphere, musing on scorn, for he would purchase nothing with the bygone things. Obscure or dim as these may be, sacrifice of one iota of free thought or expression. they lose none of their charms for him. He dis. It was his lofty abhorrence of calculating a wri- likes novelty of every kind, and has no vulgar ter's talents by his political creed, that made artifices or cant about him. To describe an old Charles Lamb alike a contributor to the “ Lon- building, portrait, or his school-days at Christ's don Magazine,” the “New Monthly," and "Black- Hospital, is his greatest enjoyment.-In reading, wood's,” though each publication supported op- it is the same. Few of the books on which he posite political parties.
delights to dwell have been written since the first Besides the poetical works already enumerat- year of the last century. The English authors, ed, Charles Lamb has published, from time to down to the year 1700, are his revel,-not that time,—“ Tales from Shakspeare,” “The Adven. he is ignorant of the productions of more recent tures of Ulysses,” “Specimens of English Dra- writers, but they have not the same hold on his matic Poetry, with Notes, etc.” “Essays," and an mind, because they do not belong to his peculiar unsuccessful farce called “Mr. H— " brought time, to the day with which his spirit claims kinout at Drury-Lane, in 1806. Having scattered his dred. Over old John Bunyan he will erpatiate writings about anonymously in periodical works, by the hour, or on Burton's "Anatomy of Melanit was not until 1818 that the first collection of choly.” All around him is tempered with a sim. them was made. Lamb is utterly careless of plicity peculiarly his own, and the same thing is fame, and looks upon ambition with the eye of a observable in his manners, for he is remarkably philosopher. His works, though so various, are plain, with somewhat of singularity in his car. original, and his essays and criticisms equal to riage. He is a connoisseur in pictures of a peany of modern times; perhaps the first are de- culiar class; but his knowledge of art is concidedly superior to any that have been produced fined, like his favorite study of poetry, to one by contemporaries. His sketches published under particular line. He is in every sense of the word the signature of “ Elia” are charming specimens a “ Londoner,” and lives among its old localities, of this kind; and his remarks on the works of connecting them with associations of past things, the contemporaries of Shakspeare gave a new which he would not part with for any earthly tone to the criticism of the day, and even were consideration. An old building, a spot in a corner the means of reviving and bringing into general of a street, consecrated by tale or romance, by estimation that great body of dramatists. They real events, departed genius, or lofty character, is introduced the public, as it were, into the very to him fairy-land. literary atmosphere that Shakspeare inhaled.- Such a temperament may well be supposed to Of Charles Lamb's comprehension of the finest shrink from everything meretricious and gaudy, and subtlest things in a great writer, Leigh Hunt and accordingly Charles Lamb is utterly desti. says, that he “would have been worthy of hear- tuto of presumption and intrusion, of everything connected with show or fashion; he is too proud most intellectual cast, of which Titian would have to be indebted to that which he holds in scorn. painted a most Titianic picture, for it seems of His ideas seem to be his realities, and the dusky the order which that great artist preferred to shadow of a bygone form is more agreeable to him represent. Lamb is a great smoker, and not only to contemplate than the greatest and, worldly-inhales the fumes of tobacco that way, but takes esteemed, most glorious thing. In abstruse stu- immoderate quantities of snuff. In reading, it is dies he has never made progress; not because he singular that he hesitates much, though his speech has not the power, but because they do not har.is fluent, and exhibits no signs of halting; and monize with the pursuits to which his peculiar with a friend of congenial temper, he will sit in mind can alone assimilate. On his favorite topics discourse far into the morning. His residence is he is enthusiastic, and he seems to wish to exact close to the New River at Islington, where, as a like enthusiasm from others. He must be court- Churchill saysed to friendship, rather than expected to make
City swains in lap of dullness dream. the first advances, but his friendship is the sound. His only living relative, a maiden sister, lives er for the slowness with which it is founded. His with him, and she too possesses strong intellect, retiring nature, and little fondness for display and a heart the counterpart of his own in hubefore the public, or, in truth, his contempt for
manity. They are devotedly attached to each fame, would, but for the publication of his occasional pieces in different periodical publications, from the pen of Charles Lamb, is the listening to
other, and the next best thing to reading a book have prevented his being known extensively as
a conversation between him and his sister.1 an essayist. He would hardly ever else have troubled himself to publish a volume of them together; for all he has done is by detached following pages amongst her brother's works, with which
1 This lady is the author of several pieces given in the efforts.
they have always been published. She has also written In person Charles Lamb is diminutive, and ap- some works for youth, such as, “Mrs. Leicester's School," parently feeble, yet his head is of the finest and 12mo 1808 ; and “ Poetry for Children,” 12mo 1809.