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friends. Attached always to things of flesh renders our own passions and frailties and and blood rather than to “the bare earth virtues strange to us ; presents them at a and mountains bare, and grass in the green distance in splendid masquerade ; exalts them field,” he chiefly loved the great dramatists, into new and unauthorised mythology, and whose beauties he supported, and sometimes, crystallises all our freshest loves and mantheightened, in his suggestive criticisms. ling joys into clusters of radiant fancies. He While he enjoyed Wordsworth's poetry, made some amends for his indifference to especially “The Excursion,” with a love Shelley, by his admiration of Mrs. Shelley's which grew upon him from his youth, he “Frankenstein,” which he thought the most would repeat some of Pope's divine compli- extraordinary realisation of the idea of a ments, or Dryden's lines, weighty with being out of nature which had ever been sterling sense or tremendous force of satire, effected. For the Scotch novels he cared with eyes trembling into tears. The come- very little, not caring to be puzzled with dies of Wycherley, and Congreve, and new plots, and preferring to read Fielding, Farquhar, were not to him gross and sensual, and Smollett, and Richardson, whose stories but airy, delicate creations, framed out of were familiar, over and over again, to being coarse materials it might be, but evaporating worried with the task of threading the maze in wit and grace, harmless effusions of the of fresh adventure. But the good-naturedintellect and the fancy. The ponderous ness of Sir Walter to all his contemporaries dulness of old controversialists, the dead won his admiration, and he heartily rejoiced weight of volumes of once fierce dispute, of in the greatness of his fame, and the rich which time had exhausted the venom, did rewards showered upon him, and desired not appal him. He liked the massive reading they might accumulate for the glory of of the old Quaker records, the huge density literature and the triumph of kindness. He of old schoolmen, better than the flippancy was never introduced to Sir Walter ; but he of modern criticism. If you spoke of Lord used to speak with gratitude and pleasure of Byron, he would turn the subject by quoting the circumstances under which he saw him the lines descriptive of his namesake in once in Fleet-street. A man, in the dress Love's Labour Lost—“Oft have I heard of of a mechanic, stopped him just at Inner you, my Lord Byron,” &c.—for he could find Temple-gate, and said, touching his bat, nothing to revere or love in the poetry of “I beg your pardon, sir, but perhaps you that extraordinary but most uncomfortable would like to see Sir Walter Scott ; that is poet ; except the apostrophe to Parnassus, he just crossing the road ;” and Lamb stamin which he exults in the sight of the real mered out his hearty thanks to his truly mountain instead of the mere poetic image. humane informer. All the Laras, and Giaours, and Childe Of his own writings it is now superfluous Harolds, were to him but “unreal mockeries,” to speak ; for, after having encountered long -the phantasms of a feverish dream,--forms derision and neglect, they have taken their which did not appeal to the sympathies of place among the classics of his language. mankind, and never can find root among They stand alone, at once singular and them. Shelley's poetry, too, was icy cold to delightful. They are all carefully elaborated; him ; except one or two of the minor poenis, yet never were works written in a higher in which he could not help admiring the defiance to the conventional pomp of style. exquisite beauty of the expression ; and the A sly hit, a happy pun, a humorous com“ Cenci,” in which, notwithstanding the bination, lets the light into the intricacies painful nature of the subject, there is a of the subject, and supplies the place of warmth and passion, and a correspondent ponderous sentences. As his serious consimplicity of diction, which prove how versation was his best, so his serious writing mighty a poet the author would have become is far preferable to his fantastical humours, had he lived long enough for his feelings to -cheering as they are, and suggestive ever have free discourse with his creative power. as they are of high and invigorating thoughts. Responding only to the touch of human Seeking his materials, for the most part, in affection, he could not bear poetry which, the common paths of life,—often in the instead of making the whole world kin, humblest,-ho gives an importance to everyo
Had from a faltering pen been asked in vain :
thing, and sheds a grace over all. The spirit of gentility seems to breathe around all his persons; he detects the venerable and the excellent in the narrowest circumstances and humblest conditions, with the same subtilty which reveals the hidden soul of the greatest works of genius. In all things he is most human. Of all modern writers, his works are most immediately directed to give us heart-ease and to make us happy.
Thou wert a scorner of the fields, my Friend, But more in show than truth; and from the fields, And from the mountains, to thy rural grave Transported, my soothed spirit hovers o'er Its green untrodden turf, and blowing flowers; And taking up a voice shall speak (though still Awed by the theme's peculiar sanctity, Which words less free presumed not even to touch) Of that fraternal love, whose heaven-lit lamp From infancy, through manhood, to the last Of threescore years, and to thy latest hour, Burnt on with ever-strengthening ligat, enshrined Within thy bosom.
Among the felicities of Lamb's chequered life, that which he esteemed most, was his intimate friendship with some of the greatest of our poets, - Coleridge, Southey, and Wordsworth ; the last and greatest of whom has paid a tribute to his memory, which may fitly close this memoir.
. Wonderful' hath been The love established between man and man, * Passing the love of women;' and between Man and his help-mate in fast wedlock joined Through God, is raised a spirit and soul of love Without whose blissful influence Paradise Had been no Paradise ; and earth were now A waste where creatures bearing human form, Direst of savage beasts, would roam in fear, Joyless and comfortless. Our days glide on; And let him grieve who cannot choose but grieve That he hath been an Elm without his Vine, And her bright dower of clustering charities, Tbat, round his trunk and branches, might have
clung Enriching and adorning. Unto thee, Not so enriched, not so adorned, to thee Was given (say rather thou of later birth Wert given to her) a Sister-'tis a word Timidly uttered, for she lives, the meek, The self-restraining, and the ever-kind; In whom thy reason and intelligent heart Found--for all interests, hopes, and tender cares, All softening, humanising, hallowing powers, Whether withheld, or for her sake unsoughtMore than sufficient recompense !
“ To a good Man o! most dear memory
Her love (What weakness prompts the voice to tell it here ?) Wes as the love of mothers; and when years, Lifting the boy to man's estate, had called The long-protected to assume the part Of a protector, the first filial tie Was undissolved; and, in or out of sight, Remained imperishably interwoven With life itself. Thus, 'mid a shifting world, Did they together testify of time And seasons' difference-a double tree With two collateral stems sprung from one root; Such were they—and such through life they might
But turn we rather, let my spirit turn
From a reflecting mind and sorrowing heart
And the worse fear of future ill (which oft
The hermit, exercised in prayer and praise,
O gift divine of quict sequestration !
CHIEFLY OF HIS LETTERS NOT BEFORE PUBLISHED, WITH SKETCHES OF
SOME OF HIS COMPANIONS.
SIR THOMAS NOON TALFOURD, D.C.L.
OXE OF HIS EXECUTORS,
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, ESQ. D.C.L
POET LAUREA TE,
THESE FINAL MEMORIALS
OT ONE WHO CHERISHED HIS FRIENDSHIP AS A COMFORT AMIDST GRIEFS
AND A GLORY AMIDST DEPRESSIONS, ARE,
WITH AFFECTION AND RESPECT,
BY ONE WHOSE PRIDE IS TO HAVE BEEN IN OLD TIME HIS EARNEST ADMIRER,
AND ONE OF WHOSE FONDEST WISHES IS
THAT HE MAY BE LONG SPARED TO ENJOY FAME, RARELY ACCORDED
TO THE LIVING,