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into foregone visions and conclusions. I en “ And you, my midnight darlings, my folios ! counter pell-mell with past disappointments. must I part with the intense delight of having I forgive, or overcome in fancy, old adversaries. you (huge armfuls) in my embraces ? Must I play once again for love, as the gamesters' knowledge come to me, if it come at all, by phrase it, games, for which I once paid so dear. ' some awkward experiment of intuition, and no I would scarce now have any of those untoward | longer by the familiar process of reading ? accidents and events of my life reversed. I * Shall I enjoy friendships there, wanting the would no more alter them than the incidents of smiling indications which point me to them here, some well-contrived novel.”
the recognizable face; “the sweet assurance of “ The elders with whom I was brought up, a look ?' were of a character not likely to let slip the sa “In winter, this intolerable disinclination to cred observance of any old institution, and the dying, to give it its mildest name, does more ringing out of the old year was kept by them especially haunt and beset me. In a genial with circumstances of peculiar ceremony. In August noon, beneath a sweltering sky, death those days the sound of those midnight chimes, is almost problematic. At those times do such though it seemed to raise hilarity in all around poor snakes as myself enjoy an immortality. me, never failed to bring a train of pensive Then we expand and burgeon. Then are imagery into my fancy. Yet I then scarce con we as strong again, as valiant again, as wise ceived what it meant, or thought of it as a reck- again, and a great deal taller. I'he blast that oning that concerned me. Not childhood alone, nips and shrinks ine, puts me in thoughts of but the young man till thirty, never feels prac- death. All things allied to the unsubstantial tically that he is mortal. He knows it, indeed, wait upon that master feeling ; cold, numbness, and, if need were, he could preach a homily on dreams, perplexity; moonlight itself, with its the fragility of life; but he brings it not home shadowy and spectral appearances, that cold to himself, any more than in a hot
. June we can ghost of the sun, or Phæbus's sickly sister, like appropriate to our imagination the freezing days that innutritious one denounced in the Cantiof December. But now shall I confess a truth?cles: I am none of her minions; I hold with I feel these audits but too powerfully. I be the Persian. gin to count the probabilities of my duration, “ Whatsoever thwarts, or puts me out of my and to grudge at the expenditure of moments way, brings death into my mind. All partial and the shortest periods, like misers' farthings. evils, like humors, run into that capital plagueIn proportion as the years both lessen and short I have heard some profess an indifferen, I set more count upon their periods, and ence to life. Such hail the end of their existwould fain lay my ineffectual finger upon the ence as a port of refuge; and speak of the spoke of the great wheel.
I am not con grave as of some soft arms, in which they may tent to pass away like a weaver's shuttle.' slumber as on a pillow. Some have wooed Those metaphors solace me not, nor sweeten death—but out upon thee, I say, ugly phantom! the unpalatable draught of mortality. I care I detest, abhor, execrate, and (with Friar John) not to be carried with the tide, that smoothly give thee to six-score thousand devils, as in bears human life to eternity; and reluct at the no instance to be excused or tolerated, but inevitable course of destiny. I am in love with shunned as a universal viper ; to be branded, this green earth ; the face of town and coun proscribed, and spoken evil of! In no way can try; the unspeakable rural solitudes, and the I be brought to digest thee, thou thin, melansweet security of streets. I would set up my choly Privation, or more frightful and comtabernacle here. I am content to stand still at pounding Posilire ! the age to which I am arrived—I, and my Those antidotes, prescribed against the fear friends: to be no younger, no richer, no hands of thee, are altogether frigid and insulting like
I do not want to be weaned by age; thyself. For what satisfaction hath a man, or drop; like mellow fruit, as they say, into the that he shall lie down with kings and einpegrave. Any alteration, on this earth of mine, rors in death, who, in his lifetime, never in diet or in lodging, puzzles and discomposes greatly coveted the society of such bedfellows ? me. My household gods plant a terrible fixed or, forsooth, that “so shall the fairest face apfoot, and are not rooted up without blood. They pear ?' Why, to comfort me, must Alice do not willingly seek Lavinian shores. A new -n be a goblin ? More than all, I constate of being staggers me.
ceive disgust at these impertinent and misbe“ Sun, and sky, and breeze, and solitary coming familiarities, inscribed upon your ordiwalks, and summer holidays, and the greenness nary tombstones. Every dead man must take of fields, and the delicious juices of meats and upon himself to be lecturing me with his odifishes, and society, and the cheerful glass, and ous truism, that such as he now is, I must. candle light, and fireside conversations, and in shortly be.' Not so shortly, friend, perhaps, as nocent vanities and jests, and irony itself—do thou imaginest. In the mean time I am alive. these things go out with life?
I move about. I am worth twenty of thee. “Can a ghost laugh, or shake his gaunt sides, Know thy betters! Thy New Year's days are when you are pleasant with him?
past. I survive, a jolly candidate for 1821,"
We have sometimes felt that this pas- | trast, between these two passages, is a sage, last quoted, was perhaps (uncon- little remarkable; but to the philosophy sciously and remotely) suggested to Lamb's of neither, can we give an unqualified mind, by the meditations of another, in assent. Lamb's essay is characterized by many respects a kindred spirit, and yet, some touching and genuine sentiment;
lé, as widely separated as the and in the state of mind in which he wrote, North from the South. We cannot for we can find some elements to love and combear quoting from Sir Thomas Browne, mend. We have especially a sympathy the scholar and the Christian philosopher, with this reverent remembrance of child. and yet, no less than Lamb, a quaint ideal hood, which constitutes one of the chief ist—we had almost said, an egotistic objects of his affection. There is an indreamer—a paragraph composed in exhaustible meaning and significance in similar mood, and suggested by like con those days of “splendor in the grass and templations, as that we have just taken glory in the flower,” which renders that from our author.
period forever sacred, and tenderly to be
called to mind. “I thank God,” says Sir Thomas Browne,
We can forgive even an “ I have not those straight ligaments or narrow
excess of this love of the lingering splendors obligations to the world, as to dote on life, or be of childhood, bordering upon sentimentalconvulsed and tremble at the name of death. ism. But lamentably incongruous is this Not that I am insensible of the dread and horror affection with much that we have just now thereof, or, by raking into the bowels of the de- quoted ; and no sufficient plea can be ceased, continual sight of anatomies, skeletons, offered in defence of a state of mind (unor cadaverous relic, like vespilloes, or grave-less it were but temporary and humorous) makers, I am become stupid, or have forgot the apprehension of mortality; but that, marshal- like that in which the not distant and ling all the horrors, and contemplating the ex
inevitable approach of death is viewed by tremities thereof, I find not anything therein our author at fifty. Already have we able to daunt the courage of a man, much less seen that Lamb had not even a dream for a well-resolved Christian; and, therefore, am the future! not angry at the error of our first parents, or
That kindliness of nature which characunwilling to bear a part of this common fate,
terized Lamb through all his days—and and like the best of them to die, that is, to cease to breathe, to take a farewell of the elements,
which was, perhaps, rather than kindred to be a kind of nothing for a moment, to be
intellectual habits or any marked originalwithin one instant of a spirit. When I take a ity of thinking which they found in him, full view and circle of myself, without this rea one principal ground for the friendship of sonable moderator and equal piece of justice, such' men as Wordsworth, and Godwin, death, I do conceive myself the miserablest per. and Coleridge—breathes very perceptibly son extant. Were there not another life that I hope for, all the vanities of this world should
through all his writings. How far such
a universal good feeling and fellowship, not intreat a moment's breath for me; could the devil work my belief to imagine I could however, consists with a sincerely believnever die, I would not outlive that very thought; ing, manly, and independent spirit, we I have so abject a conceit of this common way shall not now undertake to determine. of existence, this retaining to the sun and ele- We think, nevertheless, that Dr. Johnson ments, I cannot think this is to be a man, or to
has hardly overrated the importance of live according to the dignity of humanity. In expectation of a better, I can with patience em
being, on some occasions, a good hater." brace this life, yet in my best meditations do .We confess that we have much difficulty often desire death. I honor any man that con
in distinguishing between universal eclectemns it
, nor can I highly love any that is afraid ticism and universal skepticism. Lest we of it: this makes me naturally love a soldier, and speak more severely, therefore, than we honor those tattered and contemptible regiments, would, upon this trait of his character, that will die at the command of a sergeant. which, if in some sense a weakness, is at For a Pagan there may be some motives to be least an amiable one, we will dismiss it in love with life ; but for a Christian to be amazed at death, I see not how he can escape
with the words of one whom Lamb once this dilemma, that he is too sensible of this life, introduced to Wordsworth as his “ only or hopeless of the life to come."
The similarity, and yet the striking con
" Lamb's indulgence to the failings of others
could hardly. indeed, be termed allowance; the and experience, we leave it for others to name of charity is too cold to suit it. He did conjecture. The fact, however, that his not merely love his friends in spite of their
own habits afforded a sufficient ground errors, but he loved them errors and all; so
for much that is most startling in these near to bim was everything human. He numbered among his associates men of all varieties memorable words, cannot (and ought not of opinion--philosophical, religious, and politi- to be disguised. cal-and found something to like, not only in We do not quite agree with Mr. Talthe men themselves, but in themselves as fourd, when he asserts that Lamb's serious associated with their theories and their schemes. efforts are always the best. There are In the high and calm, but devious speculations certain veins in his serious style, we adin the gentle and glorious mysticism of Cole: mit, which are truly touching and beautiridge ; in the sturdy opposition of Thelwall to ful; yet, even these oftentimes, as it the government; in Leigh Hunt's softened and seems to us, owe their peculiar charm to fancy-streaked patriotism ; in the gallant tory their immediate neighborhood (in the ism of Stoddart'; he found traits which made reader's own imagination, at least,) to the the individuals more dear to him. When humorous element, which gives character, Leigh Hunt was imprisoned in Cold Bath Fields for a libel, Lamb was one of his most constant
more than all else, to the author's genius. visitors; and when Thelwall was striving to
We know very well that with many, such bring the Champion' into notice, Lamb was
of the Essays as Mackery End,” and ready to assist him with his pen, and to fancy “The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple" himself, for the time, a Jacobin. In this large —wherein the heart of the author overintellectual tolerance he resembled Professor flows with tender and pleasantly sad Wilson, who, notwithstanding his own decided remembrances of childhood-have always opinions, has a compass of mind large enough been the favorites ; and we grant to these to embrace all others which have noble alliances within its range. But not only to essays a superiority over everything else opposite opinions and devious habits of thought of a similar kind, which we know, in any was Lamb indulgent; he discovered the soul literature. But who does not love them of goodness in things evil” so vividly, that the the more especially, that they were written surrounding evil disappeared from his mental by Charles Lamb—and because they had vision. Nothing--no discovery of error or
their origin in the same mind as the “ Discrime-could divorce his sympathy from a
sertation man who had once engaged it. He saw in
upon Roast Pig," and the “Praise the spendthrift, the outcast, only the innocent
of Chimney Sweepers ?" companion of his school days or the joyous Gray” is verily altogether superior to associate of his convivial hours, and he did not “ Mr. H-;' Hester" and the “ Old even make penitence or reform a condition of Familiar Faces,” we confess, are worth his regard. Perhaps he had less sympathy more to us, than the not unpleasant with philanthropic schemers for the improve. Farewell to Tobacco.” For an extended ment of the world than with any other class of men ; but of these he numbered two of the production purely humorous in its characgreatest, Clarkson, the destroyer of the slave ter, like Tristram Shandy, the genius of trade, and Basil Montague, the contanst oppo- Lamb was, we allow, entirely inadequate. nent of the judicial infliction of death; and the It is for the shorter efforts in this kind, labors of neither have been in vain !**
and for the ever-present consciousness of
the same spirit following us continually, This same love of the companionable as we read, and always ready to break qualities, (we must add,) with a compara: out, upon the slightest occasion, into wit tive indifference as to the character and and mirthful feeling of the most moring principles of his associates, may safely be character, that we award to this element affirmed to have contributed much to the of humor the prevailing influence over our fatal habits, with which the world has minds, in all the more natural productions been made, perhaps, sufficiently familiar. of “the man Elia.” How far that paper—frightful indeed in That this quality of his mind had somethe pictures it draws--entitled “Confes- times its more perfect development in the sions of a Drunkard,” may have been a less elaborate efforts—in his letters, and revelation of his own personal condition in the unpremeditated words of ordinary
social intercourse, rather than in the more * Talfourd, vol. i.
deliberate essays—is doubtless true. We
know not where a specimen of humor can inoffensive shadow. We hardly wonder be found, more truly genuine than this to find the humorist saying, in a private from an unstudied letter to his Quaker letter to his friend, “ Anything awful friend, Bernard Barton. His words hover makes me laugh: I misbehaved once at on the brink of the truest, most solemn a funeral.” We admit that this singular meaning—and yet it is hard to conceive faculty is altogether beyond the power of anything more ludicrous than such a our analysis. We shall attempt no such “moral improvement” of the execution of | dissection, on the present occasion. We a thief :
can only refer our readers to some admi
rable illustrations among the writings upon “ And now, my dear sir, trifling apart, the which we have been discoursing. Let the gloomy catastrophe of yesterday morning reader but carefully note the little disserprompts a sadder view. The fate of the un
tation on the ugliness of fortunate Fauntleroy makes me, whether I will
poor or no, to cast reflecting eyes around on such rady,"* (which, unfortunately, our space of my friends as, by a parity of situation, are
will not suffer us to quote,) and he will exposed to a similarity of temptation. My get somewhat a farther insight into the very style seems to myself to become more quality of true humor, than many pages impressive than usual with the charge of them. of critical disquisition could afford" him. who that standeth knoweth but he may yet we have never met with a better exemplifall ? Your hands as yet, I am most willing to believe, have never deviated into others
fication of that species of humor, which property. You think it impossible that you
moves with ridiculous incongruities sugcould ever commit so heinous an offence; but gested by resemblance in particulars, and so thought Fauntleroy once; so have thought by startling contrast in generals, than in many besides him, who at last have expiated the essay “On the Melancholy of Tailors ;"' as he hath done. You are as yet upright; but and not the least in its motto: you are a banker, or, at least, the next thing io it. I feel the delicacy of the subject; but
“ Sedet, æternumque sedebit, cash must pass through your hands, sometimes
Infelix Theseus. Virgil."! to a great amount. If in an unguarded hourbut I will hope better. Consider the scandal it will bring upon those of your persuasion.
We are conscious, however, that the labor Thousands would go to see a Quaker hanged
of pointing out portions of these writings that would be indifferent to the fate of a Pres. as especially characterized by genuine and byterian or an Anabaptist. Think of the effect genial humor is altogether gratuitous and it would have on the sale of your poems alone, unnecessary. All these passages are not to mention higher considerations! I trem- fresh and vivid to the familiar reader of ble, I am sure, at myself, when I think that so many poor victims of the law, at one time of Lamb, nor can they be passed over, even their life, made as sure of never being hanged
for the first time, without fixing a full as !, in my own presumption, am ready, too share of the reader's attention. ready, to do myself. What are we better than That Charles Lamb is destined to any they? Do we come into the world with differ
permanent and prominent standing among ent necks ? Is there any distinctive mark the men of letters whom the generations under our left ears? Are we unstrangulable, are to remember, and whom the centuries I ask you ? Think on these things shocked sometimes at the shape of my own
are to embalm, cannot well be supposed. fingers, not for their resemblance to the ape
We are not certain that the warmest of tribe, (which is something, but for the exqui- his friends ever seriously expected it , site adaptation of them to the purposes of pick extravagantly as they have suffered theming, fingering, &c.
selves to talk. With a wider sweep of * No one that is so framed, I maintain it, imagination, with broader views of human but should tremble.
life and destiny, and with a more undivided Humor always stands in the foreground and earnest pursuit of literature, Lamb of a serious reality, yet never throws ridi
might have had more rational claims upon cule (in any bad sense) upon the object posterity, and his friends a juster ground against which it casts its fantastic, yet
to expect for him a lasting renown. With
* Vol. i. pp. 243--4.
* Vol. ii. pp. 237--9.
personal qualities untainted by the contact not soothe. Let us not add unjust obloof uncontrolled appetites and ungoverned quy to the memory of such a one-though imaginations, he might at least have left his errors were many and his imperfections to a succeeding generation the memory of great. Let us rather rejoice that he has a truly good, and gentle, and engaging lived, and written, and that his name is nature—the reputation of a friend and associated in our minds with so many of a companion, whose presence was a source the best qualities of the human heart, and of heaven-like pleasure, and whose depart with so many of the gentler and dearer ure was felt with a sorrow that time could
traits of genius.
J. H, B.
THE FIRST FLOWER.
Rash as the loves of youth, sweet flower,
Is this thine early blossoniing ;
Unto a false and fickle Spring !
The snows have melted from thy side,
The breezes woo thee, summer-like ;
Thou stealest forth, with glance oblique.
To-morrow-ah, to-morrow's breeze
Hath winter in its frosty breath !
Chant o'er thee the low dirge of death.