« AnteriorContinuar »
“How some they have died, and some they have left me,
QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 1. What do you know of Lamb's family life; how is it reflected in his
essays? 2. Who was Lamb's most famous school companion? 3. Aside from his essays, upon what form of literature rests Lamb's fame? 4. In what period of English literature did he succeed in awakening an
interest? 5. Read “Dream Children” and write one hundred words upon its literary
quality. 6. Who was Elia ? 7. Writing was Lamb's recreation. Make a list of fifteen authors whom
you have been studying and determine in the case of each whether he
made literature his profession or recreation. 8. Imitating Lamb's form of treatment, write an essay of two hundred
words upon his character. 9. Tell the class Lamb's mode of life. Does it correspond to our auto
mobile-and-express-train existence ? 10. Write two hundred words, comparing the appeal of Lamb's essays with
that of any other man whom you have studied.
Suggested Readings.-In “ Poor Relations," "Oxford in the Vacation," "Dream Children, “The Praise of Chimney Sweeps,” and in any of his letters that you may obtain in the library you will find out more about Charles Lamb than you will in any book written by some one else about him.
LORD BYRON (1788–1824)
A person of the most consummate genius.”—Shelley. "The teeth-grinding, glass-eyed, lone Caloyer."-Carlyle.
LORD BYRON was born January 22, 1788, in London. He was descended from a family of Norse pirates, who had come over with William the Conqueror, who had received the Priory of Newstead from Henry VIII, who had fought bravely for Charles II against Cromwell, and among whom in the eighteenth century had been a distinguished sailor, John Byron, who was known as “ Foul-weather Jack.” Byron's father was a spendthrift and abandoned his wife and child. There may have been some excuse for this, as she was a woman of violent temper and singularly unfortunate lack of judgment. Her own son admitted that she was a fool. On one occasion she flung a poker at his head and she finally died in a paroxysm of rage caused by reading an upholsterer's bill. Her son inherited the temperament of his mother, his father's morals, a head the beauty of which artists loved to copy, and a foot the deformity of which beggars in the street mimicked. The result was that, throughout his life, though he was one of the most gifted, he was also one of the unhappiest
His secondary education was at Harrow, whither he was sent 1801. Here he became proficient with his fists, played on the cricket team, obtained a smattering of German, learned to read French, and mastered Italian. He was also a great reader, consuming much history and biography, some philosophy, a little divinity, all the novels then extant, some good Greek and many mediocre English orators, and all of the poets. He fought George Sinclair's battles and George in return did his school exercises. He was entered at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1805, and took his degree 1808. At Trinity his most noteworthy exploits were to introduce a tame bear as a candidate for.a fellowship, which pleased the faculty not, and to publish a book of verses called “Hours of Idleness," which were just good enough to attract the attention of Lord Brougham and just bad enough to cause him to publish a scathing criticism of them in the “Edinburgh Review.”
This event roused in Byron all the fury of the old Viking blood that filled his veins. For a year he studied Pope and then launched at his tormentor an imitation of the “ Dunciad” called “ English
Bards and Scotch Reviewers." Though far inferior in wit and vigor to its original, it served its purpose well. Nobody thereafter ventured to doubt its author's ability to sting. Such couplets as these stick like burrs in the memory:
“ Prepare for rhyme! I'll publish, right or wrong;
“ 'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print ;
A book's a book, although there's nothing in't.' "With just enough of learning to misquote."
“O Amos Cottle! Phæbus, what a name!” Byron, indeed, spent most of his remaining years in explaining that youth and anger instead of judgment had dictated the insults to Scott, Wordsworth, and Coleridge contained in the poem, but nobody thereafter referred to his writings with contempt.
He celebrated his emancipation from Cambridge by entertaining a number of choice spirits at Newstead, where they entered the mansion between a bear and a wolf amid a volley of pistol shots; sat up all night talking philosophy, politics, and poetry; drank from a human skull; breakfasted at two in the afternoon; read, fenced, rode, cricketed, sailed, played with the bear, and teased the wolf. He then. went abroad, travelling for two years in Spain, Greece, and Turkey. In Spain he had several interesting flirtations; in the Troad he shot snipes and visited the tomb of Achilles; he swam the Hellespont, as Leander had, a feat of which he was inordinately proud; he had as host in Turkey a poisoner and an assassin. Finally he settled down for a long visit in Athens, where he liked the history, the climate, and at least one of the ladies, to whom he addressed the famous song beginning:
“ Maid of Athens, ere we part,
(Life of mine, thee I love). He returned to England in 1811, bringing with him a sort of poetic diary of his travels, written in Spenserian stanzas, which was published February, 1812, under the title of " Childe Harold's Pilgrimage."
Harold” captivated the public. As Byron himself said, he woke up one morning and found himself famous. The poem ran through seven editions in four weeks. Its early popularity has had no parallel among English poems save Pope's Homer, Burns's second volume, and Scott's “Lay of the Last Minstrel." Picturesque, powerful, and eloquent, it opened up a field of description new to English readers. Many of its sonorous lines speedily became and still remain part and parcel of the language. It is no wonder that the public was delighted with such verses as these:
“O Christ! it is a goodly sight to see
Canto I. Stanza 15.
1. 11. “Ancient of days! august Athena! where,
Where are thy men of might? thy grand in soul?
First in the race that led to Glory's goal,
They won and passed away; is this the whole?
The warrior's weapon and the sophist's stole
II. 2. “ The dome of Thought, the palace of the Soul.”
II. 6. “To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
II. 25. “Fair Greece! sad relic of departed worth!
Immortal, though no more; though fallen, great!”
II. 76. “ When riseth Lacædemon's hardihood,
When Thebes' Epaminondas rears again,
When Grecian mothers shall give birth to men,
Then mayst thou be restored, but not till then.
II. 84. “ Land of lost gods and godlike men.”
For two years after the publication of these two cantos, Byron