Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

to the "joint stock” venture of Cole- I used the pen professionally, and reviews ridge, Lamb, and Lloyd, which is de- were often the arms of politics. scribed in the “Memorials.” More cu “If anything," said this notice, "could rious still that Lamb himself should seem prevent our laughing at the present colto forget this modest entrance on the lection of absurdities, it would be a lastage of his little verses; for in a dedi- mentable conviction of the blinding and cation that came long after, he says, ad- engrossing nature of vanity. We could dressing Coleridge, “ It would be a kind forgive the folly of the original composiof disloyalty to offer to any one but your- tion, but can not but marvel at the egoself a volume containing the early pieces tism which has preserved and the conceit which were first published among your which has published. What an exaggerpoems. My friend Lloyd and myself ated notion must that man entertain of came into our first battle under cover of his talents who believes their slightest the greater Ajax.” Coleridge in his pre- efforts worthy of remembrance; one who face introduces those soft and pretty in- keeps a copy of the verses he writes in itials “C. L.,” which were to have a sort young ladies' albums, the proverbial reof color and harmony for the eye, and ceptacles for trash!” for forty years were to grow very

familiar These were good set terms, and they to the public. “The Effusions," he says, finished with harder, giving great com“signed C. L. were written by Mr. mendation to the typography, but adding, CHARLES LAMB, of the India House. In-"we could have dispensed with this spedependent of his signature, their superior cimen.” merit would have distinguished them.” The whole was scarcely a column in A style and title which seems to have length; but it excited the deepest restruck quaintly on Lamb's ear, for when sentment. Southey and Hunt rushed the new poems were getting ready he into the Times and into the Eraminer wrote out a full title-page with the same with stinging verses and bitter prose. It description.* These three sonnets are the was remembered long after, and yet it ones commencing, “Was it some sweet should have been recollected, that the device of fairy land ?” which becomes Gazette had done ample justice to Lamb's “Effusion XI.” of Coleridge; and “Me- other productions, and that, with the high thinks how dainty sweet it were,” which standard Lamb himself had furnished to is “Effusion XII.;” and “I could laugh his friends and admirers, these are poor to hear the midnight wind,” which in his and weakly, though graceful, rhymes. collected poems becomes one of a series, Long after, noticing "Elia's Essays," and is only distinguished by a number, the same journal alluded to the attacks but here has a lofty title,

that had been made on itself. “ And nearly the whole of the dirty would-be squibs and epigrams which issued from the scribbling clique alluded to, rang the changes on Peter Pindar's filthy idea ex

panded into the corresponding rhyme." When the “ Album Verses” came out, Nothing could be more cordial than their a smart but very short and trifling criti- welcome of the Essays. They did not cism, done in a flippantly slashing style, visit on his head what they owed to his welcomed them in the Literary Gazette. friends. “But to return to this delightIt is inconceivable at this distance of ful volume,” they said of the “last estime how such a comment, scarcely to be says,” which shall be “bound in freshcompared with a really severe” notice clad hopeful green-we were going to of our day, could have caused such deep have said, and gold—but that is too costly resentment. But there was then savage for the daily wear and tear of its future warfare, semi-political, among those who destiny.” A genial expression of enjoy

ment, like what Leigh Hunt would have Lloyd could have had no share in this collec- spoken. So, too, with the “Tales from tion, as Coleridge acknowledges every one's as

Shakspeare."

.” “The book is neatly bound sistance handsomely, even to the “rough sketch of Effusion XVI.," and to the first half of Effu- in colored cloth—a species of binding sion XV."

which has a very good effect, though, we

WRITTEN

AT MIDNIGHT

BY THE

SEA-SIDE AFTER A VOYAGE.

fear, not very lasting." So with the It will scarcely be believed that this “Specimens ”—“a new and very neat could ever have been penned so lately as edition of a book which ought to be thirty years ago. Lamb, however, was never out of print, for it is full of sweet- not fairly open to the heavy charge of ness and beauty." His verses they could putting by or taking copies of all his not tolerate. The gems, it may be, light verses for the albums. Not long are not all diamonds and precious stones, ago a gentleman found “ John Woodbut the Bristol stones and garnets are vil” in a bookseller's window, with some extremely pretty, and the best of their verses on the fly-leaf, not included in the kind.”

collected works. After all, what was this to the attack

WHAT IS AN ALBUM? of the old Monthly Review, now in a sort

“September 7, 1830.* of toothless dotage, but in which the old “ 'Tis a book kept by modern young ladies sour juices of Kenrick, chief of review

for show, “hacks,” and of the Griffiths who wrung

Of which their plain grandmothers nothing Goldsmith's heart, seemed still to circu

did know; late. It led off in this fashion :

A medley of scraps, half verse and half

prose,

And some things not very like either, God “Some few years ago there was in this me knows. tropolis a little coterie of half-bred men who The first soft effusions of beaus and of took up poetry and literature as a trade, and

belles, who, having access to one or two Sunday

Of future Lord Byrons, and sweet L. newspapers, and now and then to the maga E. L.'s; zines and reviews, puffed off each other as Where wise folk and simple both equally the first writers of the day. Among them join, was Mr. Leigh Hunt, Mr. Proctor, better

And you write your nonsense that I may known under the Namby-Pamby title of write mine. Barry Cornwall, Mr. Hazlitt, some half a

Stick in a fine landscape, to make a disdozen others whose names we forget, and

playMr. Charles Lamb, the inditer of the pre A flower-piece, a foreground! all tinted so cious verses before us.

gay, “Poor fellow! he looks more like a ghost As Nature herself, could she see them, than anything human or divine. His verses would strike partake of the same character. They were With envy, to think that she ne'er did the gleaned from the albums of rural damsels,

like; who, hearing that Charles Lamb was an au

And since some Lavaters, with head-pieces thor, chose to have a morceau from his classic

comical, pen to show to their sires and lovers.

Have agreed to pronounce people's heads "At one time, from the causes which we physiognomical have stated, and from the assenting and Be sure that you stuff it with autographs thoughtless smiles of one or two celebrated

plenty, men, this individual gained a reputation for All penned in a fashion so stiff and so quaint wit. So quaint, indeed, does it ap

dainty, pear to have been, that it has not kept. It

They no more resemble folk's ordinary has grown so musty that it is no longer fit

writing, for use.

Charles Lamb, forsooth, Than lines penned with pains do extempore thinks that such effusions as the ‘Album Ver

writing, ses' will be equally serviceable to Mr. Moxon. Or our every-day countenance (pardon the

Delicious to the ear of Miss stricture) Jane Towers was, no doubt, the address of a The faces we make when we sit for our picpoet who had never chanced to see her fair

ture; fire. Our only regret is, that the

Then have you, Madelina, an album combook was not only clasped tight, but locked, plete, however injurious the consequences might Which may you live to finish, and I live to have been to poor Moxon.

see it. “How far such a publisher as Mr. Moxon

"C. LAMB." ought to be considered as an accomplice in your transgressions, is a question that would

Talfourd has only glanced at the rude admit of no doubt.

treatment “ John Woodvil” met with “He ought to be adjudged the greatest from the young Edinburgh Review ; but offender of all; and the least degree of pun- a specimen of its past complacency, and ishment assignable to such a convict should be to give bim an hour or two in the hopper."

* Notes and Queries.

[ocr errors]

almost boyish impudence in dealing with

It must be said that a book of the class “Mr. Lamb,” will be amusing. It is to of “John Woodvil,” coming out in our the same note which Sidney Smith struck own day, and from the hand of a wriin the first number, where, dealing with ter so obscure as Lamb then was, would Parr's sermons, and Parr's wig, telling have been a very tempting plot to be set of the “boundless convexity of friz” of before a critic. the latter, and recovering the reviewer “Elia” is a book of the sort that should out of a trance by removing the former be “eterne.” Too much honor could to a distance. The play, say these not be paid to it typographically. There agreeable wags

should be an “edition of luxury," with “Introduces what we believe is a novelty

“toned paper,” and new type, and“ bevon the stage, a peal of church bells giving elled boards,” and rich in illustrations. their summons to morning service.

Apart from such dainties it would bear a '(A noise of bells heard.)

commentary, and glosses, and scholia. Margaret.-Hark the bells, John. John. — Those are the church bells of St. with parallel passages, out of his letters

Above all, one would like foot notes, Mary Ottery. Margaret.--I know it.

and from his life. Thus, we remember John.—St. Mary Ottery, my native village, his rambles on lending books, and his exIn the sweet shire of Devon.

ception in favor of Coleridge. He says Those are the bells.'

he enriches when he returns, furnishing "The exactness of John's information is of splendid marginalia and MSS. notes, inpeculiar use; as Margaret, having been some stancing rare old “Daniel,” the English time at Nottingham, may be supposed to have

Now it is forgotten the name of the parish, and perhaps

historian, and other names. of the sweet shire itself; and the cautious and curious that, not long ago, this very solemn iteration at the close, in an affair of so Daniel,” thus enriched, was brought much moment, gives an emphasis to the whole to light; and in our proposed (Utopian that is almost inimitable."

it may be) annotated “Elia” we should They then remark on the extraordi- have a reference to these notes. nary development of “drunkenness” Lovers of Leigh Hunt, who like to through the piece; and reading it over hear him chatter pleasantly in his Tatler, now, it must be confessed that this and Indicator, and London Journal, will phase seems to recur a little often. remember the fond personal tone of criti*(Enter at another door, Three calling for cism with which he dealt with favourite Harry Freeman.)

books, and the beauties of favorite books. • Harry Freeman! Harry Freeman !

He is like an epicurean over a choice He is not here. Let us go look for him. dish. No doubt, like his friend Lamb, Where is Freeman ?

he was tempted to say grace before banWhere is Harry ?

quets of books, as before banquets of [Ereunt the Three, calling for Freeman.']

meat. “We may here remark, as tending to in

This doting and almost succucrease the confusion so happily expressive of lent relish has something genuine in it, drunkenness, the ingenuity of the artifice by though Hunt seems to have been almost which four speeches are given to those per- too catholic in his taste. He found some sons, without stating to whom the fourth shall sort of beauty in

every page almost. He belong."

scored profusely with his pencil. His But a more severe stroke follows: welcome to the fifth edition of “The

If the plot and character of "John Wood- Tales from Shakespeare” is, in the fullest vil' be not sufficient to establish its antiquity, sense, of that quiet purring” enjoyment its language will powerfully concur. The with which he used to hang over a most ancient versification was probably very book he loved. In that pleasant daily rude."

“ Tatler,” “price one penny,” whose Then quoting a sentence from Burton, motto was Veritas et varietas,he " which Mr. Lamb introduced, perhaps, speaks heartily and with beaming eyes: as descriptive of his own composition :" “ There is a certain neatness and pains-"The fruit, issue, children, of these taking in the vignettes to this volume, my morning meditations, have been cer- and a meritorious wish to make every tain crude, impolite, incomposite (what figure tell. It is a pity the artist has shall I say ?) verses.”

made his figures so tall, and for the most

part so weak in their bearing. The letter- show the China dish through it, neighpress is delightful. The beautiful sim- boring a slip of invisible brown, which plicity of this series of tales made us, abuts upon something they call a tartlet, when a child, hold it, as we still do, one as that is bravely supported by an atom of our favorite books—one of the few of marmalade, flanked in its turn by a we especially love, that we would carry grain of potted beef, with a power of on a journey or save from an accident. such dishling minims of hospitality, It is a book in every way calculated to spread in defiance of human nature, or diffuse the love of the great dramatist, rather with an utter ignorance of what which niust have made Mr. Lamb con- it demands." Was there ever such a ceive and accomplish his benignant and description, such exquisite contempt, as pleasant task.”. No one, in truth, so in the phrase "dishling minims of hospilovably appreciated “Elia” as Hunt. tality,” and such cautious accuracy in the Here is the London Journal, where announcement that closes the sentence? Hunt had “full swing,” and could pour “To be continued,” the first of the speciout his whims and fancies with the freest mens was prefaced, “until his works are familiarity—a book of the most varied gone through ;” but, unhappily, the jourand agreeable reading we can find. Into nal, like all Hunt's journals, was already this he copied choice bits of Elia," with tottering, and presently fell. little introductions specially his own, as That was a very pretty trait of Charles

“[Here followeth, gentle reader, the Lamb, which is found in one of Hunt's immortal record of Mrs. Battle and her Indicators, and which is worth pages of whist—a game which the author, as thou description; "and thought how natural it wilt see, wished that he could play for was in C. L. to give a kiss to an old ever; and accordingly, in the deathless folio, as I once saw him do to Chapman's pages of his wit, for ever will he play it. Homer.” The same paper* gives us a -Ed.)

charming sketch of Lamb among his In another place he says affectionately, books :-“I believe I did mention his “ We wish that the London Journal book-room to C. L., and I think he told should contain whatever has been said me that he often sat there when alone. in any quarters calculated to do honor It would be hard not to believe him. to our excellent friend, and to increase His library, though not abounding in the desire of the reading public to become Greek and Latin, is anything but suacquainted with him." In this journal perficial. The depths of philosophy and of his, Leigh Hunt had a pleasant practice poetry are there, the imminent passages of reading a poem, as it were, aloud with of the human heart. It has some Latin his readers, and pointing out beauties to too. It has also a handsome contempt them by scoring special passages. The for appearance. It looks like what it is first of his selections from Lamb, and only --a selection made at precious intervals the first, he read in this way, and it is of from the book-stalls ; now a Chaucer, at some little interest to see what strokes 98. 2d. ; now a Montaigne or a Sir Thospecially excited his imagination. He mas Browne, at 28.; now a Jeremy Taypicks out the “Burial Society," under- lor, a Spinoza, an old English Dramatist, sining “what sting is there in death Prior, and Sir Philip Sidney, and the which the handles with the wrought gripes books are real as imputed.' The very are not calculated to pluck away ?—what perusal of the backs is 'a discipline of victory in the grave which the drops and humanity.' There Mr. Southey takes his the velvet pall do not render at least er place again with an old Radical friend ; tremely disputable?—which, it will be here Jeremy Collier is at peace with Dryrecollected, refers to an undertaker's den; there the lion, Martin Luther, lies advertisement, and is exquisitely ludi- down with the greater lamb Sewell ; crous. He also selects “ugly subjects,” there Guzman d'Alfarache thinks himself and the marvellous description of the old fit company for Sir Charles Grandison, maid's supper set out for their party, and has his claim admitted. Even the which it is impossible to refrain from high fantastical Duchess of Newcastle, giving here :-“A sliver of ham, purposely contrived to be transparent to Literary Examiner, No.1; Indicator, No. 77.

1

with her laurel on her head, is received was a feature of his time, Hone brought with grave honors.”

them on in the very first month of his All who recollect how Margaret, Duch- book :-“Yet Bridget and Elia live in ess of Newcastle, recurs to Charles Lamb, our own times; she full of kindness to and recall his burlesque affection for that all, and of soothings to Elia especially ; book, must see that he has been pouring he no less kind and consoling to Bridget, this comic fancy into Leigh Hunt's ear. in all simplicity holding converse with

But it has not been remarked what the world, and ever and anon giving us à curious likeness there is between this scenes that Motteux and Defoe would paper of Hunt's and Lamb's delightful admire, and portraits that Denner and paper on “ Books and Reading," which, Hogarth would rise from their graves to it must be said, appears to have been paint.” later in date. Leigh Hunt was then Hone had described, and pleasantly abroad in Italy, and his “Indicator,” described, the memoirs of Captain Star“My Books," appeared on the 5th of key, “a fine uncut copy of which was July, 1823. Now, Lamb's first “Elia” penes me" (a favourite expression of series was published in that very year; Lamb's), and which in a few numbers and if “ Books and Reading” had been after brought out some of that delightful written he would have included it in hisi 66 drollery” which, besides good as any collection. It might have been that the official essay of Elia, furnishes a bit of odd fancies and even expressions might biography really valuable. From it we have been part of his daily and nightly find that both he and his sister went to a talk—even of his letters, which he had school where Starkey had been usher poured out upon his friends, and which about a year before they came to it—a were vividly present to Hunt's mind. A room that looked into “a discolored, few casual passages will show this singu- dingy garden in the passage leading from lar resemblance. I am almost inclined to Fetter-lane into Bartlett's Buildings.” believe that we have actually thoughts of “Heaven knows what languages were Lamb's, which, with a nicer sense, he taught there. I am sure that neither my dropped out of his own essay.

sister nor myself brought any out of it In his relation to William Hone—the but a little of our native English.” chatty and entertaining compiler of the Bird and Cook, he says, were the mas* Every Day" and "Table Books" - ters. Bird had “that peculiar mild tone Lamb comes out pleasantly. It was a —especially when he was inflicting punsort of “ Athenian oracle,” or, better ishment—which is so much more terristill, the “current notes” of the day; and ble to children than the angriest looks there were correspondents who wrote and gestures. Whippings were not freand answered each other. The grateful quent, but when they took place, the cordedication is worth preserving apart : rection was performed in a private room " To Charles Lamb, esq.

adjoining, whence we could only hear the “Dear L., --Your letter to me, written the plaints, but saw nothing. This heightfirst two months from the commencement of ened the decorum and solemnity.” He the present work, approving my notice of St. then described the ferrule that almost Chad's Well, and you afterwards daring to obsolete weapon now,” and “the maligpublish me your friend,' with your proper nancy, in proportion to the apparent naine annexed, I shall nerer forget. Nor' mildness with which its strokes were apcan I forget your and Miss Lamb's sympathy plied. To make bim look more formidaand kindness when glooms outmastered me; ble—if a pedagogue had need of these and that your pen spontaneously sparkled in the book when my mind was in clouds and heightenings—Bird wore one of those darkness. These trifles,' as each of you

flowered Indian gowns formerly in use would call them, are benefits scored upon with schoolmasters, the strange figures my heart; and I dedicate this volume to you upon which we used to interpret into and Miss Lamb with affectionate respect.

hieroglyphics of pain and suffering." ** W. HONE."

This is in Lamb's most delightful vein. This speaks of a world of kindly and So, too, with other incidents of the delicate acts, and very likely of pecuniary school. “Our little leaden ink-stands, aid. With the good personality, which not separately subsisting, but sunk into

.

« AnteriorContinuar »