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There is perhaps too much of terrible and gloomy painting, yet it enchains the attention of the reader, and impresses the imagination with something like dramatic force. Mr Atherstone's second subject is of the same elevated cast: the downfall of an Asiatic empire afforded ample room for his love of strong and magnificent description, and he has availed himself of this license so fully, as to border in many passages on extravagance and bombast. His battle scenes, his banquets, flowering groves, and other descriptions of art and nature, are all executed with oriental splendour and voluptuousness-often with dazzling vividness and beauty and true poetical feeling. The failure of the author to sustain the interest of the reader is owing, as a contemporary critic pointed out, to the very palpable excess in which he employs all those elements of pleasing, and to the disproportion which those ornaments of the scene bear to its actual business-to the slowness with which the story moves forward, and the difficulty we have in catching a distinct view of the characters that are presented to us, through the glare of imagery and eloquence with which they are surrounded.' This is the fault of genius-especially young genius-and if Mr Atherstone could subdue his oriental imagination and gorgeousness of style, and undertake a theme of more ordinary life, and of simple natural passion and description, he might give himself a name of some importance in the literature of his age.
The following passages, descriptive of the splendour of Sardanapalus's state, have been cited as happy specimens of Mr Atherstone's style :
The moon is clear-the stars are coming forthThe evening breeze fans pleasantly. Retired Within his gorgeous hall, Assyria's king Sits at the banquet, and in love and wine Revels delighted. On the gilded roof A thousand golden lamps their lustre fling, And on the marble walls, and on the throne Gem-bossed, that high on jasper-steps upraised, Like to one solid diamond quivering stands, Sun-splendours flashing round. In woman's garb The sensual king is clad, and with him sit A crowd of beauteous concubines. They sing, And roll the wanton eye, and laugh, and sigh, And feed his ear with honeyed flatteries, And laud him as a god.
Like a mountain stream, Amid the silence of the dewy eve Heard by the lonely traveller through the vale, With dream-like murmuring melodious, In diamond showers a crystal fountain falls. Sylph-like girls, and blooming boys, Flower-crowned, and in apparel bright as spring, Attend upon their bidding. At the sign, From bands unseen, voluptuous music breathes, Harp, dulcimer, and, sweetest far of all, Woman's mellifluous voice.
Through all the city sounds the voice of joy And tipsy merriment. On the spacious walls, That, like huge sea-cliffs, gird the city in, Myriads of wanton feet go to and fro: Gay garments rustle in the scented breeze, Crimson, and azure, purple, green, and gold; Laugh, jest, and passing whisper are heard there; Timbrel, and lute, and dulcimer, and song; And many feet that tread the dance are seen, And arms upflung, and swaying heads plume-crowned. So is that city steeped in revelry.
Then went the king, Flushed with the wine, and in his pride of power Glorying; and with his own strong arm upraised From out its rest the Assyrian banner broad,
Purple and edged with gold; and, standing then
He comes at length
The thickening thunder of the wheels is heard :
The brazen gates: sounds then the tramp of hoofs-
Behind the car, Full in the centre, on the ebon ground, Flamed forth a diamond sun; on either side, A horned moon of diamond; and beyond The planets, each one blazing diamond. Such was the chariot of the king of kings.
[The Bower of Nehushta.] 'Twas a spot Herself had chosen, from the palace walls Farthest removed, and by no sound disturbed, And by no eye o'erlooked; for in the midst Of loftiest trees, umbrageous, was it hidYet to the sunshine open, and the airs That from the deep shades all around it breathed, Cool and sweet-scented. Myrtles, jessamineRoses of varied hues-all climbing shrubs, Green-leaved and fragrant, had she planted there, And trees of slender body, fruit, and flower; At early morn had watered, and at eve, From a bright fountain nigh, that ceaselessly Gushed with a gentle coil from out the earth, Its liquid diamonds flinging to the sun
With a soft whisper. To a graceful arch
In 1833 appeared two cantos of a descriptive poem, The Heliotrope, or Pilgrim in Pursuit of Health, being the record of a poetical wanderer in Liguria, Hetruria, Campania, and Calabria. The style and versification of Byron's Childe Harold are evidently copied by the author; but he has a native taste and elegance, and a purer system of philosophy than the noble poet. Many of the stanzas are musical and picturesque, presenting Claude-like landscapes of the glorious classic scenes through which the pilgrim passed. We subjoin the description of Pompeiithat interesting city of the dead :
Pompeia! disentombed Pompeia! Here
Joyful she feasted 'neath her olive tree,
Shook to its centre, the convulsive soil
No subterfuge! The pillared crypt, and cave That proffered shelter, proved a living grave!
Within the circus, tribunal, and shrine,
Their city a vast sepulchre-their hearth
'Tis an old tale! Yet gazing thus, it seems
It seems but yesterday! Half sculptured there,
The streets are hollowed by the rolling car
The author of the Heliotrope' is DR W. BEATTIE, a London physician of worth, talent, and benevolence, who is also author of Scotland Illustrated, Switzerland Illustrated, Residence in the Court of Ger many, &c.
CHARLES LAMB. •
CHARLES LAMB, a poet, and a delightful essayist, of quaint peculiar humour and fancy, was born in London on the 18th February 1775. His father was in humble circumstances, servant and friend to one of the benchers of the Inner Temple; but Charles was presented to the school of Christ's hospital, and from his seventh to his fifteenth year he was an inmate of that ancient and munificent asylum. Lamb was a nervous, timid, and thoughtful boy: 'while others were all fire and play, he stole along with all the self-concentration of a monk.' He would have obtained an exhibition at school, admitting him
to college, but these exhibitions were given under
thorough appreciation of the spirit of the old dramatists, and a fine critical taste in analysing their genius. Some of his poetical pieces were also composed about this time; but in these efforts Lamb barely indicated his powers, which were not fully displayed till the publication of his essays signed Elia, originally printed in the London Magazine. In these his curious reading, nice observation, and poetical conceptions, found a genial and befitting field. They are all,' says his biographer, Sergeant Talfourd, carefully elaborated; yet never were works written in a higher defiance to the conventional pomp of style. A sly hit, a happy pun, a humorous combination, lets the light into the intricacies of the subject, and supplies the place of ponderous sentences. Seeking his materials for the most part in the common paths of life-often in the humblest-he gives an importance to everything, and sheds a grace over all.' In 1825 Lamb was emancipated from the drudgery of his situation as clerk in the India House, retiring with a handsome pension, which enabled him to enjoy the comforts, and many of the luxuries of life. In a letter to Wordsworth, he thus describes his sensations after his release :-'I came home FOR EVER on Tuesday week. The incomprehensibleness of my condition overwhelmed me. It was like passing from life into eternity. Every year to be as long as three; that is, to have three times as much real timetime that is my own-in it! I wandered about thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not. But that tumultuousness is passing off, and I begin to understand the nature of the gift. Holidays, even the annual month, were always uneasy joys, with their conscious fugitiveness, the craving after making the most of them. Now, when all is holiday, there are no holidays. I can sit at home, in rain or shine, without a restless impulse for walkings. I am daily steadying, and shall soon find it as natural to me to be my own master, as it has been irksome to have had a master.' He removed to a cottage near Islington, and in the following summer, went with his faithful sister and companion on a long visit to Enfield, which ultimately led to his giving up his cottage, and becoming a constant resident at that place. There he lived for about five years, delighting his friends with his correspondence and occasional visits to London, displaying his social racy humour and active benevolence. In 1830 he committed to the press a small volume of poems, entitled Album Verses, the gleanings of several years, and he occasionally sent a contribution to some
In 1802 Lamb paid a visit to Coleridge at Keswick, and clambered up to the top of Skiddaw. Notwith-literary periodical. In September 1835, whilst standing his partiality for a London life, he was taking his daily walk on the London road, he deeply struck with the solitary grandeur and beauty stumbled against a stone, fell, and slightly injured of the lakes. Fleet Street and the Strand,' he says, his face. The accident appeared trifling, but erysiare better places to live in for good and all than pelas in the face came on, and in a few days proved amidst Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to those great fatal. He was buried in the churchyard at Edmonplaces where I wandered about participating in their ton, amidst the tears and regrets of a circle of warmly greatness. I could spend a year, two, three years attached friends, and his memory was consecrated among them, but I must have a prospect of seeing by a tribute from the muse of Wordsworth. A Fleet Street at the end of that time, or I should complete edition of Lamb's works has been published mope and pine away.' A second dramatic attempt by his friend Mr Moxon, and his reputation is still was made by Lamb in 1804. This was a farce en- on the increase. For this he is mainly indebted to titled Mr H., which was accepted by the proprietors his essays. We cannot class him among the favoured of Drury Lane theatre, and acted for one night; but sons of Apollo, though in heart and feeling he might 80 indifferently received, that it was never brought sit with the proudest. The peculiarities of his style forward afterwards. Lamb saw that the case was were doubtless grafted upon him by his constant hopeless, and consoled his friends with a century of study and life-long admiration of the old English puns for the wreck of his dramatic hopes.' In 1807 writers. Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Jeremy he published a series of tales founded on the plays Taylor, Browne, Fuller, and others of the elder of Shakspeare, which he had written in conjunction worthies (down to Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle), with his sister, and in the following year appeared were his chosen companions. He knew all their his Specimens of English Dramatic Poets who lived fine sayings and noble thoughts; and, consulting about the time of Shakspeare, a work evincing a his own heart after his hard day's plodding at the
To see the sun to bed, and to arise,
Like some hot amourist with glowing eyes,
To view the graceful deer come tripping by,
stop and gaze, then turn, they know not why, Like bashful younkers in society.
To mark the structure of a plant or tree,
India House, at his quiet fireside (ere his reputation was established, and he came to be over-companied' by social visitors), he invested his original thoughts and fancies, and drew up his curious analogies and speculations in a garb similar to that which his favourites wore. Then Lamb was essentially a town-man-a true Londoner-fond as Johnson of Fleet Street and the Strand-a frequenter
of the theatre, and attached to social habits, courtesies, and observances. His acute powers of observation were constantly called into play, and his warm sympathies excited by the shifting scenes around him. His kindliness of nature, his whims, puns, and prejudices, give a strong individuality to his writings; while in playful humour, critical taste, and choice expression, Charles Lamb may be considered among English essayists a genuine and original master.
When maidens such as Hester die, Their place ye may not well supply, Though ye among a thousand try, With vain endeavour.
A month or more she hath been dead,
A springy motion in her gait,
I know not by what name beside
Her parents held the Quaker rule, Which doth the human feeling cool; But she was trained in Nature's school; Nature had blest her.
A waking eye, a prying mind,
A heart that stirs, is hard to bind,
My sprightly neighbour! gone before To that unknown and silent shore, Shall we not meet, as heretofore, Some summer morning,
When from thy cheerful eyes a ray
The Old Familiar Faces.
I have had playmates, I have had companions,
I have been laughing, I have been carousing, Drinking late, sitting late, with my bosom cronies; All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I loved a love once, fairest among women; Closed are her doors on me, I must not see her; All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
I have a friend, a kinder friend has no man; Like an ingrate I left my friend abruptly; Left him, to muse on the old familiar faces.
Ghost-like I paced round the haunts of my childhood; Earth seemed a desert I was bound to traverse, Seeking to find the old familiar faces.
Thou through such a mist dost show us,
Bacchus we know, and we allow
His true Indian conquest art;
Scent to match thy rich perfume
Stinking'st of the stinking kind,
Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were children; to stretch their imagination to the conception of a traditionary great-uncle, or grandame, whom they never saw. It was in this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house in Norfolk (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and papa lived), which had been the scene-so at least it was generally believed in that part of the country-of the tragic incidents which they had lately become familiar with from the ballad of the Children in the Wood. Certain it is that the whole story of the children and their cruel uncle was to be seen fairly carved out in wood upon the chimney-piece of the great hall, the whole story down to the Robin Redbreasts, till a foolish rich person pulled it down to set up a marble one of modern invention in its stead, with no story upon it. Here Alice put out one of her dear mother's looks, too tender to be called upbraiding. Then I went on to say how religious and how good their greatgrandmother Field was, how beloved and respected by everybody, though she was not indeed the mistress of this great house, but had only the charge of it (and yet in some respects she might be said to be the mistress of it too) committed to her by the owner, who preferred living in a newer and more fashionable mansion which he had purchased somewhere in the adjoining county; but still she lived in it in a manner as if it had been her own, and kept up the dignity of the great house in a sort while she lived, which afterwards came to decay, and was nearly pulled down, and all its old ornaments stripped and carried away to the owner's other house, where they were set up, and looked as awkward as if some one were to carry away the old tombs they had seen lately at the abbey, and stick them up in Lady C.'s tawdry gilt drawing-room. Here John smiled, as much as to say, 'that would be foolish indeed.' And then I told how, when she came to die, her funeral was attended by a concourse of all the poor, and some of the gentry too, of the neighbourhood for many miles round, to show their respect for her memory, because she had been such a good and religious woman; so good, indeed, that she knew all the Psalter by heart, ay, and a
For I must (nor let it grieve thee,
For thy sake, Tobacco, I
spread her hands. Then I told what a tall, upright,
Or, as men, constrained to part
Where, though I, by sour physician,
And in thy borders take delight,
The following are selections from Lamb's Essays, which contain more of the exquisite materials of poetry than his short occasional verses.