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LIBRARY

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

SANTA BARBARA

PRESENTED BY

MRS. DONALD KELLOGG



iSM^W;,



^VM



,S''-^*




THE LIFE AND WORKS

OF

CHARLES LAMB




a ARLENT EDWARDS. S?




^.^^



Ctiition be Huxe



THE WORKS



OF

CHARLES LAMB

SUusftrateti
POEMS, PLAYS

AND

MISCELLANEOUS ESSATS

VOLUME II.

WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY

ALFRED AINGER



Ilonbon ^eto ^orb



EDITION DE LUXE

One thousand copies of this
edition have been printed for
sale in america, of which this is

i5o _



CONTENTS

PAQE

ttie reynolds gxvi-lery 1

Wordsworth's "excursion" 5

theatrical notices 25

first fruits of australian poetry ss

the gentle giantess 41

on a passage in "the tempest " 46

letter to an old gentleman whose edu-
cation has been neglected 51

biographical memoir of mr. listok 6l

autobiography of imr. munden 73

reflections in the pillory 78

the last peach 84

the illustrious defunct 8?

the religion of actors 97

the months 102

reminiscence of sir jeffery dunstan 109

captain starkey 112

THE ASS 118

IX RE SQUIRRELS 123



CONTENTS

PAGE

ESTIMATE OF DEFOE's SECONDARY NOVELS 125

RECOLLECTIONS OF A LATE ROYAL ACADEMICIAN 129

REMARKABLE CORRESPONDENT 140

THE HUMBLE PETITION OF AN UNFORTUNATE

DAY 143

MRS. GILPIN RIDING TO EDMONTON 146

SATURDAY NIGHT 148

THOUGHTS ON PRESENTS OF GAME, ETC. 152

A POPULAR FALLACY, THAT A DEFORMED PER-
SON IS A LORD 155

CHARLES lamb's AUTOBIOGRAPHY 158

LETTER OF ELI A TO ROBERT SOUTHEY, ESQ. l60

TABLE-TALK, AND FRAGMENTS OF CRITICISM 180

ELI A TO HIS CORRESPONDENTS 197

ON THE DEATH OF COLERIDGE 202



PROLOGUES, EPILOGUES, AND
MISCELLANEOUS VERSE

PROLOGUE TO COLERIDGE's " REMORSE " 204

PROLOGUE TO GODWIN's " ANTONIO " 206

PROLOGUE TO GODWIN'S "FAULKENER" 208
vi



«



CONTENTS

PAGE

EPILOGUE TO SHERIDAN KNOWLES' "WIFE" 210

EPILOGUE TO AN AMATEUR PERFORMANCE OF

"RICHARD II." 211

TO THOMAS STOTHARD, R.A. 212

TO CLARA N. 213

TO MY FRIEND THE INDICATOR 214

SAINT CRISPIN TO MR. GIFFORD 215

ON HAYDON's PICTURE OF CHRIST's ENTRY INTO

JERUSALEM 215

TRANSLATION 2l6



POLITICAL SQUIBS, EPIGRAMS, ETC.

TO SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH 217

THE TRIUMPH OF THE WHALE 217

THE THREE GRAVES 219

EPIGRAM WRITTEN IN THE LAST REIGN 220

LINES SUGGESTED BY A SIGHT OF WALTHAM

CROSS 220

"ONE dip" 221

SATAN IN SEARCH OF A WIFE 222

ON THE POETICAL WORKS OF GEORGE WITHER 239



CONTENTS , ^

THE LONDONER 248

ON BURIAL SOCIETIES; AND THE CHARACTER

OF AN UNDERTAKER 252

ON THE DANCER OF CONFOUNDING MORAL AVITH

PERSONAL DEFORiMITY 261

OX THE INCONVENIENCES RESULTING FROM BE-
ING HANGED 271

ON THE MELANCHOI-Y OF TAILORS 2SG

HOSPITA ON THE IMMODERATE INDULGENCE OF

THE PLEASURES OF THE PALATE 293

EDAX ON APPETITE 298

MR. H : A FARCE 309

NOTES 349



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



PORTRAIT OF WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR frontispiece
Photogravure from the drawing by A. d'Orsay

FACING PAGE

EDMONTON, MIDDLESEX 98

From an old print

"'TIS UNPLEASANT TO MEET A BEGGAR" 181
From drawing hy K. Shirley Grant

PORTRAIT OF HENRY CRABB ROBINSON 314

O, MY CURSED UNFORTUNATE TONGUE 336



i



WRITINGS IN PROSE AND VERSE



THE REYNOLDS GALLERY

THE Reynolds Gallery has, upon the whole,
disappointed me. Some of the portraits are in-
teresting. They are faces of characters whom we
(middle-aged gentlemen) were born a little too late
to remember, but about whom we have heard our
fathers tell stories till w^e almost fancy to have seen
them. There is a charm in the portrait of a Rodney
or a Keppel, which even a picture of Nelson must
want for me. I should turn away after a slight in-
spection from the best likeness that could be made
of Mrs. Anne Clarke; but Kitty Fisher is a consid-
erable personage. Then the dresses of some of the
women so exactly remind us of modes which we can
just recall; of the forms under which the venerable
relationships of aunt or mother first presented them-
selves to our young eyes ; the aprons, the coifs, the
lappets, the hoods. JMercy on us ! what a load of head
ornaments seem to have conspired to bury a pretty
face in the picture of Mrs. liong, yet could not!
Beauty must have some "charmed life" to have been
able to surmount the conspiracy of fashion in those
days to destroy it.

The portraits which least pleased me were those
of boys as infant Bacchuses, Jupiters, etc. But the
artist is not to be blamed for the disguise. No doubt
the parents wished to see their children deified in
their lifetime. It was but putting a thunderbolt (in-

1



THE REYNOLDS GALLERY

stead of a squib) into young master's hands; and a
whey-faced chit was transformed into the infant
ruler of Olympus, — him who was afterward to shake
heaven and earth with his black brow. Another good
boy pleased his grandmamma by saying his prayers
so well, and the blameless dotage of the good old
woman imagined in him an adequate representative
of the infancy of the awful Prophet Samuel. But
the great historical compositions, where the ai^tisi was
at liberty to paint from Us own idea, — the Beaufort
and the Ugolino: why then, I must confess, pleading
the liberty of Table-Talk for my presumption, that
they have not left any very elevating impression on
my mind. Pardon a ludicrous comparison. I know,
madam, you admire them both ; but placed opposite
to each other as they are at the Gallery, as if to set
the one work in competition with the other, they
did remind me of the famous contention for the
prize of deformity, mentioned in the 173rd number
of the Spectator. The one stares, and the other grins ;
but is there common dignity in their countenances ?
Does anything of the history of their life gone by
peep through the ruins of the mind in the face, like
the unconquerable grandeur that surmounts the dis-
tortions of the Laocoon? The figures which stand
by the bed of Beaufort are indeed happy represen-
tations of the plain unmannered old Nobility of the
English Historical Plays of Shakspeare; but, for
anything else; — Give me leave to recommend those
macaroons.
2



THE REYNOLDS GALLERY

After leaving the Reynolds Gallery, where, upon
the whole, I received a good deal of pleasure, not
feeling that I had quite had my fill of paintings,
.1 stumbled upon a picture in Piccadilly (No. 22, I
think), which purports to be a portrait of Francis
the First, by Leonardo da Vinci. Heavens, what a
difference ! It is but a portrait, as most of those I had
been seeing ; but, placed by them, it would kill them,
swallow them up as Moses' rod the other rods.
Where did these old painters get their models ? I see
no such figures, not in my dreams, as this Francis,
in the character, or rather with the attributes, of
John the Baptist. A more than mortal majesty in
the brow and upon the eyelid; an arm, muscular,
beautifully formed ; the long, graceful, massy fingers
compressing, yet so as not to hurt, a lamb more
lovely, more sweetly shrinking, than we can conceive
that milk-white one which followed Una ; the picture
altogether looking as if it were eternal, — combining
the truth of flesh with a promise of permanence like
marble.

Leonardo, fi'om the one or two specimens we have
of him in England, must have been a stupendous
genius. I can scarce think he has had his full fame
— he who could paint that wonderful personification
of the Logos, or second person of the Trinity, grasp-
ing a globe, late in the possession of Mr. Troward
of Pall Mall, where the hand was, by the boldest
licence, twice as big as the truth of drawing war-
ranted ; yet the effect, to every one that saw it, by

8



THE REYNOLDS GALLERY

some magic of genius was confessed to be not mon'
strousy but miraculous and silencing. It could not be
gainsaid.



WORDSWORTH'S -EXCURSION"

("Quarterly Review,"" October 1814)

THE volume before us, as we learn from the Pref-
ace, is '*a detached portion of an unfinished
poem, containing views of man, nature, and society" ;
to be called the Recluse, as having for its principal
subject the "sensations and opinions of a poet living
in retirement"; and to be preceded by a "record in
verse of the origin and progress of the author's own
powers, with reference to the fitness which they may
be supposed to have conferred for the task." To the
completion of this plan we look forward with a con-
fidence which the execution of the finished part is
well calculated to inspire. — Meanwhile, in what is be-
fore us there is ample matter for entertainment : for
the "Excursion" is not a branch (as might have been
suspected) prematurely plucked from the parent tree
to gratify an overhasty appetite for applause ; but is,
in itself, a complete and legitimate production.

It opens with the meeting of the poet with an
aged man whom he had known from his school-
days; in plain words, a Scottish pedlar; a man who,
though of low origin, had received good learning
and impressions of the strictest piety from his step-
father, a minister and village schoolmaster. Among
the hills of Athol, the child is described to have be-
come familiar with the appearances of nature in his
occupation as a feeder of sheep; and from her sikat



WORDSWORTHS -EXCURSION'

influences to have derived a character, meditative,
tender, and poetical. With an imagination and feel-
ings thus nourished — his intellect not unaided by
books, but those, few, and chiefly of a religious cast
— the necessity of seeking a maintenance in riper
years had induced him to make choice of a profes-
sion, the appellation for which has been gradually de-
clining into contempt, but which formerly designated
a class of men, who, journeying in country places,
when roads presented less facilities for travelling,
and the intercourse between towns and villages was
unfrequent and hazardous, became a sort of Unk of
neighbourhood to distant habitations; resembling,
in some small measure, in the effects of their peri-
odical returns, the caravan which Thomson so feel-
ingly describes as blessing the cheerless Siberian in
its annual visitation, with "news of human kind."

In the solitude incident to this rambling life,
power had been given him to keep alive that de-
votedness to nature which he had imbibed in his
childhood, together with the opportunity of gainuig
such notices of persons and things from his inter-
course with society, as qualified him to become a
"teacher of moral wisdom." With this man, then, in
a hale old age, released from the burthen of his oc-
cupation, yet retaining much of its active habits, the
poet meets, and is by him introduced to a second
character — a sceptic — one who had been partially
roused from an overwhelming desolation, brought
upon him by the loss of wife and children, by the
6



WORDSWORTH S "EXCURSION"

powerful incitement of hope which the French Rev-
olution in its commencement put forth, but who,
disgusted with the failure of all its promises, had
fallen back into a laxity of faith and conduct which
induced at length a total despondence as to the dig-
nity and final destination of his species. In the lan-
guage of the poet, he

. . . broke faith with those whom he had laid
In earth's dark chambers.

Yet he describes himself as subject to compunc-
tious visitations from that silent quarter.

. . . Feebly must they have felt.

Who, in old time, attired with snakes and whips

The vengeful Furies. Beautiful regards

Were turned on me — the face of her I loved;

The wife and mother ; pitifully fixing

Tender reproaches, insupportable ! — p. 133.

The conversations with this person, in which the
Wanderer asserts the consolatory side of the ques-
tion against the darker views of human life main-
tained by his friend, and finally calls to his assistance
the experience of a village priest, the third, or rather
fourth interlocutor (for the poet himself is one),
form the groundwork of the "Excursion."

It will be seen by this sketch that the poem is
of a didactic nature, and not a fable or story ; yet
it is not wanting in stories of the most interesting
kind, — such as the lovers of Cowper and Goldsmith
will recognise as something familiar and congenial
to them. We might instance the "Ruined Cot-

7



WORDSW ORTH'S "EXCURSION"

tatre," iind the Solitary's own story, in the first half
of the work ; and the second half, as being almost a
continued cluster of narration. But the prevailing
charm of the poem is, perhaps, that, conversational
as it is in its plan, the dialogue throughout is carried
on in the very heart of the most romantic scenery
which the poet's native hills could supply; and
which, by the perpetual references made to it either
in the way of illustration or for variety and plea-
surable description's sake, is brought before us as
we read. We breathe in the fresh air, as we do
while reading Walton's "Complete Angler"; only
the country about us is as much bolder than Wal-
ton's, as the thoughts and speculations, which form
the matter of the poem, exceed the trifling pastime
and low-pitched conversation of his humble fisher-
men. We give the description of the "two huge
peaks," which from some other vale peered into that
in which the Solitary is entertaining the poet and
companion. "Those," says their host,

if here you dweltj would be

Your prized companions. Many are the notes
Which in his tuneful course the wind draws forth
From rocks, woods, caverns, heaths, and dashing shores;
And well those lofty brethren bear their part
In the wild concert: chiefly when the storm
Rides high; then all the upper air they fill
With roaring sound, that ceases not to flow.
Like smoke, along the level of the blast
In mighty current; theirs, too, is the song
Of stream and headlong flood that seldom fails ;
8



WORDSWORTH S 'EXCURSION"

And in the grim and breathless hour of noon,

Methinks that I have heard them echo back

The thunder's greeting: nor have Nature's laws

Left them ungifted with a power to yield

Music of finer frame ; a harmony.

So do 1 call it, though it be the hand

Of silence, though there be no voice ; the clouds,

The mist, the shadows, light of golden suns.

Motions of moonlight, all come thither — touch.

And have an answer — thither come, and shape

A language not unwelcome to sick hearts.

And idle spirits: there the sun himself

At the calm close of summer's longest day

Rests his substantial orb ; — between those heights.

And on the top of either pinnacle.

More keenly than elsewhere in night's blue vault.

Sparkle the stars as of their station proud.

Thoughts are not busier in the mind of man.

Than the mute agents stirring there: — alone

Here do I sit and watch. — p. SJf.

Tg a mind constituted like that of Mr. Words-
worth, the stream, the torrent, and the stirring leaf
— seem not merely to suggest associations of deity,
but to be a kind of speaking communication with
it. He walks through every forest, as through some
Dodona ; and every bird that flits among the leaves,
like that miraculous one ^ in Tasso, but in language

^ With party-coloured plumes, and purple bill,
A wondrous bird among the rest there flew.
That in plain speech sung love-lays loud and shrill;
Her leden was like human language true ;
So much she talk'd, and with such wit and skill.
That strange it seemed how much good she knew.

Fairfax a Translation.

9



WORDSWORTH'S "EXCURSION "

more intelligent, reveals to him far higher love-lays.
In his poetry nothing in Nature is dead. Motion is
synonymous with life. "Beside yon spring," says the
Wanderer, speaking of a deserted weU, from which,
in former times, a poor woman, who died heart-
broken, had been used to dispense refreshment to
the thirsty traveller,

beside yon spring I stood.

And eyed its waters, till we seem'd to feel
One sadness, they and I. For them a bond
Of brotherhood is broken: time has been
When every day the touch of human hand
Dislodged the natural sleep that binds them up
In mortal stillness. — p. 27.

To such a mind, we say — call it strength or weak-
ness — if weakness, assuredly a fortunate one — the
visible and audible things of creation present, not
dim symbols, or curious emblems, which they have
done at all times to those who have been gifted
with the poetical faculty, but revelations and quick
insights into the life within us, the pledge of im-
mortality: —

the whispering air

Sends inspiration from her shadowy heights.
And blind recesses of the cavern' d rocks:
The little rills, and waters numberless,
Inaudible by day-light.

" I have seen," the poet says, and the illustration
is a happy one —

10



WORDSWORTH'S "EXCURSION"

I have seen

A curious child, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipp'd shell
To which, in silence hush'd, his very soul
Listen'd intensely, and his countenance soon
Brighten'd with joy; for murmiirings from within
Were heard — sonorous cadences! whereby.
To his belief, the monitor express'd
Mysterious union Avith its native sea.
Even such a shell the universe itself
Is to the ear of faith ; and doth impart
Authentic tidings of invisible things :
Of ebb and flow, and ever during power;
And central peace subsisting at the heart
Of endless agitation. — p. 191.

Sometimes this harmony is imaged to us by an
echo; and in one instance, it is with such tran-
scendent beauty set forth by a shadow and its cor-
responding substance, that it would be a sin to cheat
our readers at once of so happy an illustration of the
poet's system, and so fair a proof of his descriptive
powers.

Thus having reached a bridge, that over-arch'd
The hasty rivulet where it lay becalm'd
In a deep pool, by happy chance we saw
A twofold image; on a grassy bank
A snow-white ram, and in the crystal flood
Another and the same! Most beautiful.
On the green turf, AAith his imperial front.
Shaggy and bold, and wreathed horns superb.
The breathing creature stood ; as beautiful.
Beneath him, show'd his shadowy counterpart.
Each had his glowing mountains, each his sky,

11



WORDSWORTH'S "EXCURSION "

And each seem'd centre of his own fair world :
Antipodes unconscious of each other.
Yet, in partition, with their several spheres.
Blended in perfect stillness, to our sight ! — p. 4.07.

Combinations, it is confessed, "like those reflected
in that quiet pool," cannot be lasting: it is enough
for the purpose of the poet, if they are felt. — They
are at least his system ; and his readers, if they re-
ject them for their creed, may receive them merely
as poetry. In h\ui, faith, in friendly alliance and con-
junction with the religion of his country, appears to
have grown up, fostered by meditation and lonely
communions with Nature — an internal principle of
lofty consciousness, which stamps upon his opinions
and sentiments (we were almost going to say) the
character of an expanded and generous Quakerism.

From such a creed we should expect unusual re-
sults ; and, when r.pplied to the purposes of consola-
tion, more touching considerations than from the
mouth of common teachers. The finest speculation
of this sort perhaps in the poem before us, is the
notion of the thoughts which may sustain the spirit,
while they crush the frame of the sufferer, who from
loss of objects of love by death, is commonly sup-
posed to pine away under a broken heart.

. . . If there be, whose tender frames have drooped

Even to the dust, apparently, through weight

Of anguish unrelieved, and lack of power

An agonising spirit to transmute,

Infer not hence a hope from those withheld



WORDSWORTH S "EXCURSION"

When wanted most; a confidence impaired

So pitiably, that, having ceased to see

With bodily eyes, they are borne down by love

Of what is lost, and perish through regret,

Oh no! full oft the innocent sufferer sees

Too clearly ; feels too vividly ; and longs

To realise the vision with intense

And over constant yearning; — there, there lies

The excess, by which the balance is destroyed

Too, too contracted are these walls of flesh,

This vital warmth too cold, these visual orbs,

Though inconceivably endowed, too dim

For any passion of the soul that leads

To extasy ; and, all the crooked paths

Of time and change disdaining, takes its course

Along the line of limitless desires. — p. lJf8.

With the same modifying and incorporating
power, he tells us, —

Within the soul a faculty abides
That Avith interpositions, which would hide
And darken, so can deal, that they become
Contingencies of pomp ; and serve to exalt
Her native brightness. As the ample moon.
In the deep stillness of a summer eve.
Rising behind a thick and lofty grove,
Bums like an unconsuming fire of light
In the green trees; and, kindling on all sides
Their leafy umbrage, turns the dusky veil
Into a substance glorious as her own,
Yea, with her own incorporate, by p)ower
Capacious and serene. Like p>ower abides
In man's celestial spirit; Virtue thus
Sets forth and magnifies herself; thus feeds
A calm, a beautiful, and silent fire,

13



WORDSWORTHS "EXCURSION"

From the incumbrances of mortal life.
From eiTor, disappointment, nay, from guilt;
And sometimes, so relenting justice \\ills.
From palpable oppressions of despair. — j^- 1^^-

This is high poetry; though (as we have ventured
to lay the basis of the author's sentiments in a sort
of hberal Quakerism) from some parts of it, others
may, with more plausibihty, object to the appear-
ance of a kind of Natural IMethodism : we could have
wished therefore that the tale of INIargaret had been
postponed, till the reader had been strengthened
by some previous acquaintance with the author's
theory; and not placed in the front of the poem,
with a kind of ominous aspect, beautifully tender
as it is. It is a tale of a cottage, and its female
tenant, gradually decaying together, while she ex-
pected the return of one whom poverty and not
unkindness had driven from her arms. We trust
ourselves only with the conclusion —

. nine tedious years
From their first separation, nine long years.
She lingered in unquiet widowhood,
A wife and widow. I have heard, my friend.
That in yon arbour oftentimes she sate
Alone, through half the vacant Sabbath day;
And, if a dog passed by, she still would quit
The shade, and look abroad. On this old bench
For hours she sate ; and evermore her eye
Was busy in the distance, shaping things
That made her heart beat quick. You see that path;
There to and fro she paced through many a day
Of the warm summer, from a belt of hemp
14



WORDSWORTH'S "EXCURSION"

That girt her waist^ spinning the long-drawTi thread

With backward steps. Yet ever as there pass'd

A man whose garments showed the soldier's ^ red^

The Httle child who sate to turn the wheel

Ceased from his task; and she with faultering voice

Made many a fond inquiry; and when they.

Whose presence gave no comfort, were gone by.

Her heart was still more sad. And by yon gate.

That bars the traveller's road, she often stood,

And, when a stranger horseman came, the latch

Would lift, and in his face look wistfully;

Most happy, if from aught discovered there

Of tender feeling, she might dare repeat

The same sad question. Meanwhile her poor hut

Sank to decay: for he Avas gone, whose hand.

At the first nipping of October frost,

Closed up each chink, and with fresh bands of straw

Checquered the green grown thatch. And so she lived

Through the long winter, reckless and alone;

Until her house by frost, and thaw, and rain

Was sapped; and, while she slept, the nightly damps

Did chill her breast; and in the stormy day

Her tattered clothes were ruffled by the wind,

Even at the side of her own fire. Yet still

She loved this -wretched spot, nor would for worlds

Have parted hence : and still that length of road.

And this rude bench, one torturing hope endeared.

Fast rooted at her heart: and here, my friend,

In sickness she remained; and here she died.

Last human tenant of these ruined walls! — p. Jf6.

The fourth book, entitled "Despondency Cor-
rected," we consider as the most valuable portion
of the poem. For moral grandeur ; for wide scope of

I Her husband had enlisted for a soldier.

15



WORDSWORTH'S "EXCURSION "

thought and a long train of lofty imagery ; for tender
personal appeals ; and a versification which we feel
we ought to notice, but feel it also so involved in the
poetry, that we can hardly mention it as a distinct
excellence ; it stands without competition among our
didactic and descriptive verse. The general tendency
of the argument (which we might almost affirm to


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