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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 Germany, &c.
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 the implied if not expressed condition of entering into the church, and Lamb had an impediment in his speech, which in this case proved an insuperable obstacle. In 1792 he obtained an appointment in the accountant's office of the East India Company, residing with his parents; and on their death,' says Sergeant Talfourd, he felt himself called upon by duty to repay to his sister the solicitude with which she had watched over his infancy, and well, indeed, he performed it. To her, from the age of twenty-one, he devoted his existence, seeking thenceforth no connexion which could interfere with her supremacy in his affections, or impair his ability to sustain and to comfort her.' The first compositions of Lamb were in verse, prompted, probably, by the poetry of his friend Coleridge. A warm admiration of the Elizabethan dramatists led him to imitate their style and manner in a tragedy named John Woodvil, which was published in 1801, and mercilessly ridiculed in the Edinburgh Review as a specimen of the rudest state of the drama. There is much that is exquisite both in sentiment and expression in Lamb's play, but the plot is certainly meagre, and the style had then an appearance of affectation. The following description of the sports in the forest has a truly antique air, like a passage in Heywood or Shirley:
To see the sun to bed, and to arise,
Like some hot amourist with glowing eyes,
To view the graceful deer come tripping by,
To mark the structure of a plant or tree,
In 1802 Lamb paid a visit to Coleridge at Keswick, and clambered up to the top of Skiddaw. Notwithstanding his partiality for a London life, he was deeply struck with the solitary grandeur and beauty of the lakes. Fleet Street and the Strand,' he says, 'are better places to live in for good and all than amidst Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to those great places where I wandered about participating in their greatness. I could spend a year, two, three years among them, but I must have a prospect of seeing Fleet Street at the end of that time, or I should mope and pine away. A second dramatic attempt was made by Lamb in 1804. This was a farce entitled Mr H., which was accepted by the proprietors of Drury Lane theatre, and acted for one night; but so indifferently received, that it was never brought forward afterwards. 'Lamb saw that the case was hopeless, and consoled his friends with a century of puns for the wreck of his dramatic hopes.' In 1807 he published a series of tales founded on the plays of Shakspeare, which he had written in conjunction with his sister, and in the following year appeared his Specimens of English Dramatic Poets who lived about the time of Shakspeare, a work evincing a
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 literary periodical. In September 1835, whilst taking his daily walk on the London road, he stumbled against a stone, fell, and slightly injured his face. The accident appeared trifling, but erysipelas in the face came on, and in a few days proved fatal. He was buried in the churchyard at Edmonton, amidst the tears and regrets of a circle of warmly attached friends, and his memory was consecrated by a tribute from the muse of Wordsworth. A complete edition of Lamb's works has been published by his friend Mr Moxon, and his reputation is still on the increase. For this he is mainly indebted to his essays. We cannot class him among the favoured sons of Apollo, though in heart and feeling he might sit with the proudest. The peculiarities of his style were doubtless grafted upon him by his constant study and life-long admiration of the old English writers. Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, Jeremy Taylor, Browne, Fuller, and others of the elder worthies (down to Margaret, Duchess of Newcastle), were his chosen companions. He knew all their fine sayings and noble thoughts; and, consulting his own heart after his hard day's plodding at the
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
She did inherit.
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, That our best friends do not know us, And, for those allowed features, Due to reasonable creatures, Liken'st us to fell Chimeras, Monsters that, who see us, fear us; Worse than Cerberus or Geryon, Or, who first loved a cloud, Ixion. Bacchus we know, and we allow His tipsy rites. But what art thou, That but by reflex canst show What his deity can do, As the false Egyptian spell Aped the true Hebrew miracle? Some few vapours thou mayst raise, The weak brain may serve to amaze, But to the reins and nobler heart, Canst nor life nor heat impart.
Brother of Bacchus, later born, The old world was sure forlorn Wanting thee, that aidest more The god's victories than before All his panthers, and the brawls Of his piping Bacchanals. These, as stale, we disallow, Or judge of thee meant: only thou
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
Or, as men, constrained to part
For thy sake, Tobacco, I
spread her hands. Then I told what a tall, upright,
The following are selections from Lamb's Essays, which contain more of the exquisite materials of poetry than his short occasional verses.
the great staircase near where she slept; but she said those innocents would do her no harm;' and how frightened I used to be, though in those days I had my maid to sleep with me, because I was never half so good or religious as she and yet I never saw the infants. Here John expanded all his eyebrows, and tried to look courageous. Then I told how good she was to all her grandchildren, having us to the great house in the holidays, where I, in particular, used to spend many hours by myself in gazing upon the old busts of the twelve Cæsars that had been emperors of Rome, till the old marble heads would seem to live again, or I to be turned into marble with them; how I never could be tired with roaming about that huge mansion, with its vast empty rooms, with their worn-out hangings, fluttering tapestry, and carved oaken pannels, with the gilding almost rubbed out-sometimes in the spacious old-fashioned gardens, which I had almost to myself, unless when now and then a solitary gardening man would cross me-and how the nectarines and peaches hung upon the walls, without my ever offering to pluck them, because they were forbidden fruit, unless now and then, and because I had more pleasure in strolling about among the old melancholy-looking yew trees, or the firs, and picking up the red berries and the fir apples, which were good for nothing but to look at; or in lying about upon the fresh grass, with all the fine garden smells around me; or basking in the orangery, till I could almost fancy myself ripening, too, along with the oranges and the limes in that grateful warmth; or in watching the dace that darted to and fro in the fishFond at the bottom of the garden, with here and there a great sulky pike hanging midway down the water in silent state, as if it mocked at their impertinent friskings. I had more pleasure in these busy-idle diversions than in all the sweet flavours of peaches, nectarines, oranges, and such like common baits of children. Here John slyly deposited back upon the plate a bunch of grapes, which, not unobserved by Alice, he had meditated dividing with her, and both seemed willing to relinquish them for the present as irrelevant. Then, in somewhat a more heightened tone, I told how, though their great-grandmother Field loved all her grandchildren, yet in an especial manner she might be said to love their uncle, John L-, because he was so handsome and spirited a youth, and a king to the rest of us; and, instead of moping about in solitary corners, like some of us, he would mount the most mettlesome horse he could get, when but an imp no bigger than themselves, and make it carry him half over the county in a morning, and join the hunters when there were any out; and yet he loved the old great house and gardens too, but had too much spirit to be always pent up within their boundaries; and how their uncle grew up to man's estate as brave as he was handsome, to the admiration of everybody, but of their great-grandmother Field most especially; and how he used to carry me upon his back when I was a lame-footed boy-for he was a good bit older than me-many a mile when I could not walk for pain; and how, in after life, he became lame-footed too, and I did not always, I fear, make allowances enough for him when he was impatient and in pain, nor remember sufficiently how considerate he had been to me when I was lame-footed; and how, when he died, though he had not been dead an hour, it seemed as if he had died a great while ago, such a distance there is betwixt life and death; and how I bore his death, as I thought, pretty well at first, but afterwards it haunted and haunted me; and though I did not cry or take it to heart as some do, and as I think he would have done if I had died, yet I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him. I missed his kindness, and I missed his crossness, and wished him to be alive again, |
to be quarrelling with him (for we quarrelled sometimes), rather than not have him again; and was as uneasy without him, as he, their poor uncle, must have been when the doctor took off his limb. Here the children fell a-crying, and asked if their little mourning which they had on was not for Uncle John; and they looked up, and prayed me not to go on about their uncle, but to tell them some stories about their pretty dead mother. Then I told how, for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in despair, yet persisting ever, I courted the fair AliceW-n; and, as much as children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and difficulty, and denial meant in maidens; when suddenly turning to Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood there before me, or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding, and still receding, till nothing at last but two mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech, strangely impressed upon me the effects of speech: We are not of Alice, nor of thee; nor are we children at all. The children of Alice call Bartrum father. We are nothing, less than nothing, and dreams. We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence and a name;' and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor arm-chair, where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget unchanged by my side-but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever.
A poor relation is the most irrelevant thing in nature, a piece of impertinent correspondency, an odious approximation, a haunting conscience, a preposterous shadow, lengthening in the noontide of your prosperity, an unwelcome remembrancer, a perpetually recurring mortification, a drain on your purse, a more intolerable dun upon your pride, a drawback upon success, a rebuke to your rising, a stain in your blood, a blot on your scutcheon, a rent in your garment, a death's head at your banquet, Agathocles's pot, a Mordecai in your gate, a Lazarus at your door, a lion in your path, a frog in your chamber, a fly in your ointment, a mote in your eye, a triumph to your enemy, an apology to your friends, the one thing not needful, the hail in harvest, the ounce of sour in a pound of sweet.
He is known by his knock. Your heart telleth you, "That is Mr - A rap between familiarity and respect, that demands, and at the same time seems to despair of entertainment. He entereth smiling and embarrassed. He holdeth out his hand to you to shake, and draweth it back again. He casually looketh in about dinner time, when the table is full. He offereth to go away, seeing you have company, but is induced to stay. He filleth a chair, and your visitor's two children are accommodated at a side table. He never cometh upon open days, when your wife says with some complacency, My dear, perhaps Mr will drop in to-day.' He remembereth birthdays, and professeth he is fortunate to have stumbled upon one. He declareth against fish, the turbot being small, yet suffereth himself to be importuned into a slice against his first resolution. He sticketh by the port, yet will be prevailed upon to empty the remainder glass of claret, if a stranger press it upon him. He is a puzzle to the servants, who are fearful of being too obsequious, or not civil enough to him. The guests think they have seen him before.' Every one speculateth upon his condition; and the most part take him to be a tide-waiter. He calleth you by your Christian name, to imply that his other is the same