Page images

His smaller poems are mostly of the same medi- this time he contributed largely to the columns tative and intellectual character. An English of the Examiner weekly journal. Though living scene is thus described :

the life of a recluse, he was an acute observer of

public events, and an eager though inconsistent Clifton, in vain thy varied scenes invite-

and impracticable politician. In 1853, he issued a The mossy bank, dim glade, and dizzy height; The sheep that starting from the tufted thyme,

volume of essays and poetical pieces, entitled The

Last Fruit of an Old Tree; and in 1858, another Untune the distant churches' mellow chime; As o'er each limb a gentle horror creeps,

volume of the same kind, called Dry Sticks fagoted And shake above our heads the craggy steeps,

by Walter Savage Landor. For certain grossly Pleasant I've thought it to pursue the rower,

indecent verses and slanders in this work, directed While light and darkness seize the changeful oar,

against a lady in Bath, the author underwent the The frolic Naiads drawing from below

indignity of a trial for defamation, was convicted, A net of silver round the black canoe.

and amerced in damages to the amount of £1000. Now the last lonely solace must it be

Shortly before this, Mr Landor had published a To watch pale evening brood o'er land and sea, declaration that of his fortune he had but a small Then join my friends, and let those friends believe

sum left, with which he proposed to endow the My cheeks are moistened by the dews of eve.

widow of any person who should assassinate the

Emperor of the French! Thus poor, old, and The Maid's Lament is a short lyrical flow of dishonoured, Mr Landor again left England-a picturesque expression and pathos, resembling the spectacle more pitiable, considering his high effusions of Barry Cornwall :

intellectual endowments, his early friendships, and I loved him not; and yet, now he is gone,

his once noble aspirations, than any other calamI feel I am alone.

ity recorded in our literary annals. . After som I checked him while he spoke ; yet could he speak,

months of wretchedness at Fiesole,' says a memoir Alas ! I would not check.

of Landor in the English Cyclopædia, ‘his friends For reasons not to love him once I sought,

came to his rescue. A plain but comfortable And wearied all my thought

lodging was found for him at Florence, his survivTo vex myself and him : I now would give

ing brothers undertook to supply an annuity of My love could he but live

£200, which Robert Browning generously saw Who lately lived for me, and when he found

duly employed as long as he remained in Florence. 'Twas vain, in holy ground

And thus one more gleam of sunshine seemed to He hid his face amid the shades of death!

settle on the “old man eloquent." Though deaf I waste for him my breath,

and ailing, he continued to find solace in his pen. Who wasted his for me ; but mine returns, And this lone bosom burns

He wrote and published occasional verses, and With stifling heat, heaving it up in sleep,

two or three more Imaginary Conversations, in And waking me to weep

which the old fire burned not dimly ; collected Tears that had melted his soft heart : for years

some earlier scraps, which appeared as Heroic Wept he as bitter tears !

Idylls, and was still working in his goth year at •Merciful God!' such was his latest prayer,

new Conversations, when, on the 17th of September * These may she never share!'

1864, death ended his labours and sorrows.' A Quieter is his breath, his breast more cold

biography of Landor by John Forster, was pubThan daisies in the mould,

lished in 1869. Where children spell athwart the churchyard gate The writings of Walter Savage Landor have His name and life's brief date.

been said to bear the stamp of the old mocking Pray for him, gentle souls, whoe'er ye be,

paganism. A moody egotistic nature, ill at ease And oh! pray, too, for me!

with the common things of life, had flourished up We quote one more chaste and graceful fancy :

in his case into a most portentous crop of crotchets and prejudices, which, regardless of the reproba

tion of his fellow-men, he issued forth in proSixteen.

digious confusion, often in language offensive in In Clementina's artless mien

the last degree to good taste. Eager to contradict Lucilla asks me what I see,

whatever is generally received, he never stops to And are the roses of sixteen

consider how far his own professed opinions may Enough for me?

be consistent with each other : hence he con

tradicts himself almost as often as he does others. Lucilla asks if that be all,

Jeffrey, in one of his most brilliant papers, has Have I not culled as sweet before ?

characterised in happy terms the class of minds Ah yes, Lucilla ! and their fall I still deplore.

to which Mr Landor belongs. “The work before

us,' says he, 'is an edifying example of the spirit of I now behold another scene,

literary Jacobinism-flying at all game, running Where pleasure beams with heaven's own light, a-muck at all opinions, and at continual cross-purMore pure, more constant, more serene,

poses with its own. This spirit admits neither of And not less bright.

equal nor superior, follower nor precursor : “it Faith, on whose breast the loves repose,

travels in a road so narrow, where but one goes Whose chain of flowers no force can sever,

abreast." It claims a monopoly of sense, wit, and And Modesty, who, when she goes,

wisdom. All their ambition, all their endeavour Is gone for ever.

is, to seem wiser than the whole world besides,

They hate whatever falls short of, whatever goes Mr Landor continued to write far beyond his beyond, their favourite theories. In the one case, eightieth year. In 1851, hé published a pamphlet they hurry on before to get the start of you ; in the entitled Popery, British and Foreign, and about other, they suddenly turn back to hinder you, and


defeat themselves. An inordinate, restless, incor- Chesterfield. I do not admire Mr Locke. rigible self-love is the key to all their actions and Chatham. Nor I-he is too simply grand for admiraopinions, extravagances and meannesses, servility tion-I contemplate and revere him. Equally deep and and arrogance. Whatever soothes and pampers clear, he is both philosophically and grammatically the this, they applaud ; whatever wounds or interferes most elegant of English writers. with it, they utterly and vindictively abhor. A

Chesterfield. If I expressed by any motion of limb general is with them a hero, if he is unsuccessful hope, will pardon me a slight and involuntary transgres

or feature my surprise at this remark, your lordship, I or a traitor ; if he is a conqueror in the cause of sion of my own precept. I must entreat you, before we liberty, or a martyr to it, he is a poltroon., What- move a step further in our inquiry, to inform me whether ever is doubtful, remote, visionary in philosophy, I am really to consider him in style the most elegant of or wild and dangerous in politics, they fasten upon our prose authors. eagerly, “recommending and insisting on nothing Chatham. Your lordship is capable of forming an less ;" reduce the one to demonstration, the other opinion on this point certainly no less correct than mine. to practice, and they turn their backs upon their Chesterfield. Pray assist me. own most darling schemes, and leave them in the Chatham. Education and grammar are surely the lurch immediately.' When the reader learns that two driest of all subjects on which a conversation can Mr Landor justifies Tiberius and Nero, speaks of turn; yet if the ground is not promiscuously sown, if Pitt as a poor creature, and Fox as a charlatan, what ought to be clear is not covered, if what ought to declares Alfieri to have been the greatest man in be covered is not bare, and, above all, if the plants are

choice ones, we may spend a few moments on it not Europe, and recommends the Greeks, in their struggles with the Turks, to discard firearms, and prose composition is mainly this: a just admission of

unpleasantly. It appears then to me, that elegance in return to the use of the bow, he will not deem this topics and of words ; neither too many nor too few of general description far from inapplicable in the either ; enough of sweetness in the sound to induce us to case of Landor. And yet his Imaginary Conver- enter and sit still ; enough of illustration and reflection sations and other writings are amongst the most to change the posture of our minds when they would remarkable prose productions of our age, written tire ; and enough of sound matter in the complex to in pure nervous English, and full of thoughts repay us for our attendance. I could perhaps be more which fasten themselves on the mind and are a logical in my definition and more concise ; but am I at joy for ever. It would require many specimens

all erroneous ? from these works to make good what is here said

Chesterfield. I see not that you are. for and against their author ; we subjoin a few find nothing idle or redundant in him.

Chatham. My ear is well satisfied with Locke: I passages affording both an example of his love of paradox, and of the extraordinary beauties of would not some of his principles lead too far?

Chesterfield. But in the opinion of you graver men thought and expression by which he leads us

Chathan. The danger is, that few will be led by captive.

them far enough : most who begin with him stop short,

and, pretending to find pebbles in their shoes, throw Conversation between Lords Chatham and Chesterfield.

themselves down upon the ground, and complain of

their guide. Chesterfield. It is true, my lord, we have not always Chesterfield. What, then, can be the reason why Plato, been of the same opinion, or, to use a better, truer, and so much less intelligible, is so much more quoted and more significant expression, of the same side in politics; applauded ? yet I never heard a sentence from your lordship which Chatham. The difficulties we never try are no diffi. Í did not listen to with deep attention. I understand culties to us. Those who are upon the summit of a that you have written some pieces of admonition and mountain know in some measure its altitude, by comadvice to a young relative; they are mentioned as being paring it with all objects around; but those who stand truly excellent ; I wish I could have profited by them at the bottom, and never mounted it, can compare it with when I was composing mine on a similar occasion. few only, and with those imperfectly. Until a short

Chatham. My lord, you certainly would not have time ago, I could have conversed more fluently about done it, even supposing they contained, which I am far Plato than I can at present; I had read all the titles to from believing, any topics that could have escaped your his dialogues, and several scraps of commentary ; these penetrating view of manners and morals; for your lord- | I have now forgotten, and am indebted to long attacks ship and I set out diversely from the very threshold of the gout for what I have acquired instead. Let us, then, rather hope that what we have written, Chesterfield. A very severe schoolmaster! I hope he with an equally good intention, may produce its due allows a long vacation. effect ; which indeed, I am afraid, may be almost as Chatham. Severe he is indeed, and although he sets doubtful, if we consider how ineffectual were the cares no example of regularity, he exacts few observances, and exhortations, and even the daily example and high and teaches many things. Without him I should have renown, of the most zealous and prudent men on the life had less patience, less learning, less reflection, less and conduct of their children and disciples. Let us, how- leisure ; in short, less of everything but of sleep. ever, hope the best rather than fear the worst, and believe Chesterfield. Locke, from a deficiency of fancy, is not that there never was a right thing done or a wise one likely to attract so many listeners as Plato. spoken in vain, although the fruit of them may not spring Chatham. And yet occasionally his language is both up in the place designated or at the time expected. metaphorical and rich in images. In fact all our great

Chesterfield. Pray, if I am not taking too great a philosophers have also this property in a wonderful freedom, give me the outline of your plan.

degree. Not to speak of the devotional, in whose Chatham. Willingly, my lord ; but since a greater writings one might expect it, we find it abundantly in man than either of us has laid down a more compre. Bacon, not sparingly in Hobbes, the next to him in hensive one, containing all I could bring forward, would range of inquiry and potency of intellect. And what it not be preferable to consult it? I differ in nothing would you think, my lord, if you discovered in the from Locke, unless it be that I would recommend the records of Newton a sentence in the spirit of Shaklighter as well as the graver part of the ancient classics, speare ? and the constant practice of imitating them in early Chesterfield. I should look upon it as upon a wonder, youth. This is no change in the system, and no larger not to say a miracle: Newton, like Barrow, had no an addition than a woodbine to a sacred grove.

feeling or respect for poetry.

Chatham. His words are these : 'I don't know and didactic, nor to roll sonorously, as if it issued from what I may seem to the world ; but as to myself, I seem a mask in the theatre. The horses in the plain under to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, Troy are not always kicking and neighing ; nor is the and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother dust always raised in whirlwinds on the banks of Simois pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great and Scamander ; nor are the rampires always in a blaze. ocean of Truth lay all undiscovered before me.'

Hector has lowered his helmet to the infant of AndroChesterfield. Surely nature, who had given him the mache, and Achilles to the embraces of Briseis. I do volumes of her greater mysteries to unseal ; who had not blame the prose-writer who opens his bosom occabent over him and taken his hand, and taught him to sionally to a breath of poetry; neither, on the contrary, decipher the characters of her sacred language ; who can I praise the gait of that pedestrian who lifts up his had lifted up before him her glorious veil, higher than legs as high on a bare heath as in a corn-field. ever yet for mortal, that she might impress her features and her sondness on his heart, threw it back wholly at

Milton. these words, and gazed upon him with as much admiration as ever he had gazed upon her.

As the needle turns away from the rising sun, from

the meridian, from the occidental, from regions of fragConversation between William Penn and Lord rancy and gold and gems, and moves with unerring Peterborough.

impulse to the frosts and deserts of the north, so Milton

and some few others, in politics, philosophy, and religion, Peterborough. The worst objection I myself could ever walk through the busy multitude, wave aside the importfind against the theatre is, that I lose in it my original unate trader, and, after a momentary oscillation from idea of such men as Cæsar and Coriolanus, and, where external agency, are found in the twilight and in the the loss affects me more deeply, of Juliet and Desde storm, pointing with certain index to the pole-star of mona. Alexander was a fool to wish for a second immutable truth, ... I have often been amused at world to conquer : but no man is a fool who wishes thinking in what estimation the greatest of mankind for the enjoyment of two; the real and the ideal : nor were holden by their contemporaries. Not even the is it anything short of a misfortune, I had almost said most sagacious and prudent one could discover much of of a calamity, to confound them. This is done by the them, or could prognosticate their future course in the stage : it is likewise done by engravings in books, which infinity of space! Men like ourselves are permitted to have a great effect in weakening the imagination, and stand near, and indeed in the very presence of Milton : are serviceable only to those who have none, and who what do they see? dark clothes, gray hair, and sightless read negligently and idly; I should be sorry if the eyes ! Other men have better things: other men, theremost ingenious print in the world were to cover the fore, are nobler ! The stars themselves are only bright first impression left on my mind of such characters as by distance ; go close, and all is earthy.

But vapours Don Quixote and Sancho : yet probably a very in illuminate these ; from the breath and from the countendifferent one might do it; for we cannot master our ance of God comes light on worlds higher than they ; fancies, nor give them at will a greater or less tenacity, worlds to which he has given the forms and names of a greater or less promptitude in coming and recurring. Shakspeare and Milton.*

You Friends are no less adverse to representation by painting than by acting. Penn. We do not educate our youth to such pro

EDWIN ATHERSTONE. fessions and practices. Thou, I conceive, art uncon

EDWIN ATHERSTONE (1788–1872) was author cerned and disinterested in this matter. Peterborough. Nearly, but not quite. I am ignorant The Fall of Nineveh (1828), both poems in blank

of The Last Days of Herculaneum (1821), and of the art, and prefer that branch of it which to many seems the lowest ; I mean portraiture. I can

find verse, and remarkable for splendour of diction filowers in my garden, landscapes in my rides, the works and copiousness of description. The first is of saints in the Bible, of great statesmen and captains founded on the well-known destruction of the city in the historians, and of those who with equal advan- of Herculaneum by an eruption of Mount Vesuvius tages had been the same, in the Newgate Calendar. in the first year of the emperor Titus, or the 79th The best representation of them can only give me a of the Christian era. Mr Atherstone has followed high opinion of the painter's abilities fixed on a point the account of this awful occurrence given by the of time. But when I look on a family picture by younger Pliny in his letters to Tacitus, and has Vandyke ; when I contemplate the elegant and happy drawn some powerful pictures of the desolating father in the midst of his blooming progeny, and the fire and its attendant circumstances. There is partner of his fortunes and his joy beside him, I am affected very differently, and much more. He who perhaps too much of terrible and gloomy painting, there stands meditating for them some delightful scheme yet it enchains the attention of the reader, and of pleasure or aggrandisement, has bowed his head to impresses the imagination with something like calamity, perhaps even to the block. Those roses dramatic force. Mr Atherstone's second subject gathered from the parterre behind, those taper fingers is of the same elevated cast : the downfall of an negligently holding them, that hair, the softness of Asiatic empire afforded ample room for his love of which seems unable to support the riot of its ringlets, strong and magnificent description, and he has are moved away from earth, amid the tears and aching availed himself of this license so fully, as to border hearts of the very boys and girls who again are looking in many passages on extravagance and bombast. at me with such unconcern.

The following passage, descriptive of the Faithfulest recorder of domestic bliss, perpetuator of youth and beauty, vanquisher of time, leading in triumph the Hours and Seasons, the painter here bestows on me

A very few of Mr Landor's aphorisms and remarks may be

added : He says of fame : ‘Fame, they tell you, is air ; but withthe richest treasures of his enchanting art.

out air there is no life for any ; without fame there is none for the

'The happy man,' he says, 'is he who distinguishes the

boundary between desire and delight, and stands firmly on the Grandiloquent Writing.

higher ground; he who knows that pleasure is not only not pos

session, but is often to be lost, and always to be endangered by it.' Magnificent words, and the pomp and procession of or light wit or sarcasm, he observes : Quickness is amongst the stately sentences, may accompany genius, but are not

least of the mind's properties. I would persuade you that banter,

pun, and quibble are the properties of light men and shallow capaalways nor frequently called out by it

. The voice ought Cities; that genuine humour and true wit require a sound and not to be perpetually, nor much, elevated in the ethic capacious mind, which is always a grave one.'



splendour of Sardanapalus's state, may be cited but Charles was presented to the school of Christ's as a happy specimen of Mr Atherstone's style : Hospital, and from his seventh to his fifteenth

year he was an inmate of that ancient and munifBanquet in Sardanapalus's Palace.

icent asylum. Lamb was a nervous, timid, and The moon is clear-the stars are coming forth

thoughtful boy : 'while others were all fire and The evening breeze fans pleasantly. Retired

play, he stole along with all the self-concentration Within his gorgeous hall, Assyria's king

of a monk. He would have obtained an exhibiSits at the banquet, and in love and wine

tion at school, admitting him to college, but these Revels delighted. On the gilded roof

exhibitions were given under the implied if not A thousand golden lamps their lustre Aling,

expressed condition of entering into holy orders, And on the marble walls, and on the throne

and Lamb had an impediment in his speech, Gem-bossed, that high on jasper-steps upraised, which proved an insuperable obstacle. In 1792 Like to one solid diamond quivering stands,

he obtained an appointment in the accountant's Sun-splendours flashing round. In woman's garb

office of the East India Company, residing with The sensual king is clad, and with him sit A crowd of beauteous concubines. They sing,

his parents; and 'on their death,' says Serjeant And roll the wanton eye, and laugh, and sigh,

Talfourd, 'he felt himself called upon by duty to And feed his ear with honeyed flatteries,

repay to his sister the solicitude with which she And laud him as a god.

had watched over his infancy, and well, indeed, he Like a mountain stream,

performed it. To her, from the age of twenty-one, Amid the silence of the dewy eve

he devoted his existence, seeking thenceforth no Heard by the lonely traveller through the vale, connection which could interfere with her supremWith dream-like murmuring melodious,

acy in his affections, or impair his ability to susIn diamond showers a crystal fountain falls.

tain and to comfort her. A sad tragedy was conSylph-like girls, and blooming boys, nected with the early history of this devoted pair. Flower-crowned, and in apparel bright as spring, There was a taint of hereditary madness in the Attend upon their bidding. At the sign,

family; Charles had himself, at the close of the From bands unseen, voluptuous music


year 1795, been six weeks confined in an asylum Harp, dulcimer, and, sweetest far of all, Woman's mellifluous voice.

at Hoxton, and in September of the following Through all the city sounds the voice of joy

year, Mary Lamb, in a paroxysm of insanity, And tipsy merriment. On the spacious walls,

stabbed her mother to death with a knife snatched That, like huge sea-cliffs, gird the city in,

from the dinner-table. A verdict of lunacy was Myriads of wanton feet go to and fro:

returned by the jury who sat on the coroner's Gay garments rustle in the scented breeze,

inquest, and the unhappy young lady was placed Crimson, and azure, purple, green, and gold ; in a private asylum at Islington. Reason was Laugh, jest, and passing whisper are heard there; speedily restored. "My poor dear, dearest sister,' Timbrel, and lute, and dulcimer, and song ;

writes Charles Lamb to his bosom-friend ColeAnd many feet that tread the dance are seen, And arms upflung, and swaying heads plume-crowned. of the Almighty's judgments on our house, is

ridge, the unhappy and unconscious instrument So is that city steeped in revelry.

restored to her senses; to a dreadful sense and Then went the king, Flushed with the wine, and in his pride of power

recollection of what has passed, awful to her mind Glorying ; and with his own strong arm upraised

and impressive, as it must be, to the end of life, From out its rest the Assyrian banner broad,

but tempered with religious resignation and the Purple and edged with gold ; and, standing then

reasonings of a sound judgment, which, in this early Upon the utmost summit of the mount

stage, knows how to distinguish between a deed Round, and yet round-for two strong men a task committed in a transient fit of frenzy, and the Sufficient deemed-he waved the splendid flag, terrible guilt of a mother's murder. In confineBright as a meteor streaming.

ment, however, Mary Lamb continued until the At that sight

death of her father, an imbecile old man ; and then The plain was in a stir : the helms of brass

Charles came to her deliverance. He satisfied all Were lifted up, and glittering spear-points waved,

parties who had power to oppose her release, by And banners shaken, and wide trumpet mouths

his solemn engagement that he would take her Upturned ; and myriads of bright-harnessed steeds

under his care for life, and he kept his word. Were seen uprearing, shaking their proud heads; And brazen chariots in a moment sprang,

'For her sake he abandoned all thoughts of love And clashed together. In a moment more

and marriage ; and with an income of scarcely Up came the monstrous universal shout,

more than £100 a year, derived from his clerkLike a volcano's burst. Up, up to heaven

ship, aided for a little while by the old aunt's The multitudinous tempest tore its way,

small annuity, set out on the journey of life at Rocking the clouds : from all the swarming plain twenty-two years of age, cheerfully, with his And from the city rose the mingled cry,

beloved companion, endeared to him the more by Long live Sardanapalus, king of kings !

her strange calamity, and the constant apprehenMay the king live for ever!' Thrice the flag sion of the recurrence of the malady which caused The monarch waved ; and thrice the shouts arose

it.* The malady did again recur at intervals, Enormous, that the solid walls were shook,

rendering restraint necessary, but Charles, though And the firm ground made tremble.

at times wayward and prone to habits of excess
or rather to over-sociality with a few tried friends

-seems never again to have relapsed into aberraCHARLES LAMB, a poet and a delightful essay- tion of mind. He bore his trials meekly, manist, of quaint peculiar humour and fancy, was fully, and with prudence as well as fortitude. The born in London on the roth February 1775. His first compositions of Lamb were father was in humble circumstances, servant and friend to one of the benchers of the Inner Temple; * Final Memorials of Charles Lamb, by T. N. Tallourd.


in verse,

prompted, probably, by the poetry of his friend a genial and befitting field. They are all,' says Coleridge. A warm admiration of the Elizabethan his biographer, Serjeant Talfourd, carefully dramatists led him to imitate their style and elaborated ; yet never were works written in a manner in a tragedy named John Woodvil, which higher defiance to the conventional pomp of style. was published in 1801, and mercilessly ridiculed A sly hit, a happy pụn, a humorous combination, in the Edinburgh Review as a specimen of the lets the light into the intricacies of the subject, rudest state of the drama. There is much that is and supplies the place of ponderous sentences. exquisite both in sentiment and expression in Seeking his materials for the most part in the Lamb's play, but the plot is certainly meagre, and common paths of life—often in the humblest—he the style had then an appearance of affectation. gives an importance to everything, and sheds a The following description of the sports in the grace over all. In 1825 Lamb was emancipated forest has a truly antique air, like a passage in from the drudgery of his situation as clerk in the Heywood or Shirley:

India House, retiring with a handsome pension,

which enabled him to enjoy the comforts, and Forest Scenes.

many of the luxuries of life. In a letter to Words

worth, he thus describes his sensations after his To see the sun to bed, and to arise, Like some hot amourist with glowing eyes,

release : 'I came home for EVER on Tuesday Bursting the lazy bonds of sleep that bound him,

week. The incomprehensibleness of my condiWith all his fires and travelling glories round him.

tion overwhelmed me. It was like passing from Sometimes the moon on soft night-clouds to rest,

life into eternity. Every year to be as long as Like beauty nestling in a young man's breast,

three ; that is, to have three times as much real And all the winking stars, her handmaids, keep time-time that is my own-in it! I wandered Admiring silence while these lovers sleep.

about thinking I was happy, but feeling I was not. Sometimes outstretched, in very idleness,

But that tumultuousness is passing off, and I Nought doing, saying little, thinking less,

begin to understand the nature of the gift. HoliTo view the leaves, thin dancers upon air,

days, even the annual month, were always uneasy Go eddying round; and small birds how they fare,

joys, with their conscious fugitiveness, the craving When mother Autumn fills their beaks with corn,

after making the most of them. Now, when all is Filched from the careless Amalthea's horn ; And how the woods berries and worms provide,

holiday, there are no holidays. I can sit at home, Without their pains, when earth has nought beside

in rain or shine, without a restless impulse for To answer their small wants.

walking. I am daily steadying, and shall soon To view the graceful deer come tripping by,

find it as natural to me to be my own master, as Then stop and gaze, then turn, they know not why,

it has been irksome to have had a master. He Like bashful younkers in society.

removed to a cottage near Islington, and in the To mark the structure of a plant or tree,

following summer, went with his faithful sister And all fair things of earth, how fair they be. and companion on a long visit to Enfield, which

ultimately led to his giving up his cottage, and In 1802 Lamb paid a visit to Coleridge at Kes- becoming a constant resident at that place. wick, and clambered up to the top of Skiddaw. There he lived for about five years, delighting Notwithstanding his partiality for a London life, he his friends with his correspondence and occawas deeply struck with the solitary grandeur and sional visits to London, displaying his social beauty of the lakes. 'Fleet Street and the Strand,' racy humour and active benevolence. In 1830 he he says, 'are better places to live in for good and committed to the press a small volume of poems, all than amidst Skiddaw. Still, I turn back to entitled Album Verses, the gleanings of several those great places where I wandered about parti- years, and he occasionally sent a contribution cipating in their greatness. I could spend a year, to some literary periodical. In December 1834, two, three years among them, but I must have a whilst taking his daily walk on the London road, prospect of seeing Fleet Street at the end of that he stumbled against a stone, fell, and slightly time, or I should mope and pine away. A second injured his face. The accident appeared trifling, dramatic attempt was made by Lamb in 1804. but erysipelas in the face came on, and proved This was a farce entitled Mr H., which was fatal on the 27th December 1834. He was buried accepted by the proprietors of Drury Lane in the churchyard at Edmonton, amidst the tears Theatre, and acted for one night; but so indiffer- and regrets of a circle of warmly attached friends, ently received, that it was never brought forward and his memory was consecrated by a tribute from afterwards. • Lamb saw that the case was hope- the muse of Wordsworth. His sister survived till less, and consoled his friends with a century of May 20, 1847. A complete edition of Lamb's puns for the wreck of his dramatic hopes.'' in works was published by his friend Mr Moxon, 1807 he published a series of tales founded on the and his reputation is still on the increase. For plays of Shakspeare, which he had written in con- this he is mainly indebted to his essays. We junction with his sister, and in the following year cannot class him among the favoured sons of appeared his Specimens of English Dramatic Apollo, though in heart and feeling he might sit Poets who lived about the time of Shakspeare, a with the proudest. The peculiarities of his style work evincing a thorough appreciation of the were doubtless grafted upon him by his constant spirit of the old dramatists, and a fine critical taste study and lifelong admiration of the old English in analysing their genius. Some of his poetical writers. Beaumont and Fletcher, Massinger, pieces were also composed about this time ; but in Jeremy Taylor, Browne, Fuller, and others of the these efforts Lamb barely indicated his powers, elder worthies (down to Margaret, Duchess of which were not fully displayed till the publication Newcastle), were his chosen companions. He of his essays signed Elia, originally printed in the knew all their fine sayings and noble thoughts; London Magazine. In these his curious reading, and, consulting his own heart after his hard day's nice observation, and poetical conceptions found plodding at the India House, at his quiet fireside

« PreviousContinue »