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been other than my own master. It is natural to me to go where I please,—to do what I please. I find myself at eleven o'clock in the day in Bond-street, and it seems to me that I have been sauntering there at that very hour for years past. I digress into Soho, to explore a book-stall. Methinks I have been thirty years a collector. There is nothing strange nor new in it. I find myself before a fine picture in a morning. Was it ever otherwise? What is become of Fishstreet Hill? Where is Fenchurch-street ? Stones of old Mincinglane, which I have worn with my daily pilgrimage for six and thirty years, to the footsteps of what toil-worn clerk are your everlasting Aints now vocal ? lindent the gayer flags of Pall-Mall
. It is Change time, and I am strangely among the Elgin marbles. It was no hyperbole when I ventured to compare the change in my condition to a passing into another world. Time stands still in a manner to me. I have lost all distinction of season. I do not know the day of the week, or of the month. Each day used to be individually felt by me in its reference to the foreign post days; in its distance from or propinquity to the next Sunday. I had my Wednesday feelings, my Saturday night's sensations. The genius of each day was upon me distinctly during the whole of it, affecting my appetite, spirits, &c. The phantom of the next day, with the dreary five to follow, sat as a load upon my poor Sabbath recreations. What charm has washed that Æthiop white? What is gone of Black Monday? All days are the same. Sunday itself—that unfortunate failure of a holiday as it too often proved, what with my sense of its fugitiveness, and over care to get the greatest quantity out of it,—is melted down into a week day. I can spare to go to church now, without grudging the huge cantle which it used to seem to cut out of the holiday. I have time for everything. I can visit a sick friend. I can interrupt the man of much occupation when he is busied. I can insult over him with an invitation to take a day's pleasure with me to Windsor this fine May morning. It is Lucretian pleasure to behold the poor drudges whom I have left behind in the world, carking and caring; like horses in a mill, drudging on in the same eternal round-and what is it all for? A man can never have too much time to himself, nor too little to do. Had I a little son, I would christen him NOTHING-TO-DO ; he should do nothing. Man, I verily believe, is out of his element as long as he is operative. I am altogether for the life contemplative. Will no kindly earthquake come and swallow up those accursed cotton-mills ? Take me that lumber of a desk there, and bowl it down
As low as to the fiends.” I am no longer
* *, clerk to the firm of &c. I am Retired Leisure. I am to be met with in trim gardens. I am already come to be known by my vacant face and careless gesture, perambulating at no fixed pace, nor with any settled purpose. I walk about; not to and from. They tell me, a certain cum dignitale air, that has been buried so long with my other good parts, has begun to shoot forth in my person. I grow into gentility perceptibly. When I take up a newspaper, it is to read the state of the opera. Opus operatum est. I have done all that I came into this world to do. I have worked task. work, and have the rest of the day to myself.'-- Last Essays, p. 101.
Lamb excelled in drawing what he himself delighted in contemplating-and indeed partly in being--a veritable Ben Jonsonian Humor. The extreme delicacy of his touch in such sketches is particularly admirable; he very seldom, indeed, slips into caricature; it is rather by bringing out the otherwise evanescent lines of the character than by charging the strong ones, that he contrives to present such beautifully quaint excerpts from the common mass of humanity. His • Captain Jackson,' in the second Elia, is a masterpiece ; you have no sense or suspicion of any exaggeration; the touches are so slight in themselves, and each laid on so quietly and unconcernedly, that you are scarcely conscious, as you go on, how the result is growing upon you. Just before you come to the end of the essay, the entire creation stands up alive before youtrue in every trick to the life, the life of the Fancy. You may not have met exactly such a personage in society, but you see no reason why you should not meet him. You cannot doubt Lamb's own intimate acquaintance with him. Indeed, you perceive be was a relation. Poor Elliston was another of Elia's happiest subjects. Elliston was of the true blood of the humorous, and Lamb has him in enamel, alive and dead,
"Oh, it was a rich scene that I was witness to, in the tarnished room (that had once been green) of that same little Olympic. There, after his deposition from Imperial Drury, he substituted a throne. The Olympic Hill was “his highest heaven;" himself “ Jove in his chair.” There he sat in state, while before him, on complaint of prompter, was brought for judgment-how shall I describe her?-one of those little tawdry things that flirt at the tails of choruses-a probationer for the town, in either of its senses-the pertest little draba dirty fringe and appendage of the lamps' smoke-who, it seems, on some disapprobation expressed by a " highly respectable' audience, had precipitately quitted her station on the boards, and withdrawn her small talents in disgust.
““ And how dare you," said her manager--assuming a censorial severity which would have crushed the confidence of a Vestris, and disarmed that beautiful rebel herself of her professional caprices-I verily believe he thought her standing before him-_“how dare you, Madam, withdraw yourself without a notice from your theatrical duties ? ” “ I was hissed, Sir.” “And you have the presumption to decide upon the taste of the Town?” “I don't know that, Sir, but I will never stand to be hissed”-was the subjoinder of young Confidence—when, gathering up his features into one significant mass of wonder, pity, and expostulatory indignation in a lesson never to have been lost upon a creature less forward than she who stood before him-his words were these, “ They have hissed me." .. “Quite an Opera pit,” he said to me, as he was courteously con
ducting me over the benches of his Surrey Theatre, the last retreat and recess of his every day waning grandeur.
• In green rooms, impervious to mortal eye, the muse beholds thee wielding posthumous empire.
Thin ghosts of figurantes (never plump on earth) circle thee endlessly, and still their song is Fye on silent phantasy.
* Magnificent were thy capriccios on this globe of earth, ROBERT William Elliston! for as yet we know not thy new name in heaven.
" It irks me to think that, stript of thy regalities, thou shouldst ferry over, a poor forked shade, in crazy Stygian wherry. Methinks Í hear the old boatman, paddling by the weedy wharf, with raucid voice, bawling "Sculls, SCULLS!"—to which, with waving hand and majestic action, thou deignest no reply, other than in two curt monosyllables, “ No; OARS !”
The essay On some of the Old Actors' is even still richer and fuller of theatrical recollections of upwards of thirty years ago. Mrs. Jordan, Bensley (with the criticism on Malvolio), Dicky Suett, the Palmers, Jack Bannister, above all, Dodd and his Aguecheek-how racily! how tenderly drawn !
'In expressing slowness of apprehension Dodd surpassed all others. You could see the first dawn of an idea stealing slowly over his countenance, climbing up by little and little, with a painful process, till it cleared up at last to the fullness of a twilight conception-its highest meridian. He seemed to keep back his intellect, as some have had the power to retard their pulsation. The balloon takes less time in filling than it took to cover the expansion of his broad moony face over all its quarters with expression. A glimmer of understanding would appear in a corner of his eye, and for lack of fuel go out again. A part of his forehead would catch a little intelligence, and be a long time in communicating it to the remainder.
· I am ill at dates, but I think it is now better than five and twenty years ago that, walking in the gardens of Gray's Inn-they were then far finer than they are now—the accursed Verulam Buildings had not encroached
all the east side of them, cutting out delicate green crankles, and shouldering away one or two of the stately alcoves of the terrace—the survivor stands gaping and relationless, as if it remembered its brother-they are still the best gardens of any of the Inns of Court, my beloved Temple not forgotten-have the gravest character, their aspect being altogether reverend and law-breathingBacon has left the impress of his foot on their gravel walks. Taking my afternoon solace on a summer-day upon the aforesaid terrace, a comely sad personage came towards me, whom, from his grave air and deportment, I judged to be one of the Benchers of the Inn. He had a serious, thoughtful forehead, and seemed to be in meditations of mortality. As I have an instinctive awe of old Benchers, I was passing him with that sort of subindicative token of respect which one is apt to demonstrate towards a venerable stranger, and which rather denotes an inclination to greet him, than any positive motion of the body to
that effect-a species of humility and will-worship which, I obserre, nine times out of ten, rather puzzles than pleases the person it is offered to—when the face, turning full upon me, strangely identified itself with that of Dodd. Upon close inspection I was not mistaken. But could this sad, thoughtful countenance be the same vacant face of folly which I had hailed so often under circumstances of gaiety; which I had never seen without a smile, or recognized but as the usher of mirth; that looked cut so formally flat in Foppington, so frothily pert in Tattle, so impotently busy in Backbite, so blankly di. vested of all meaning, or resolutely expressive of none, in Acres, in Fribble, and a thousand agreeable impertinences? Was this the face
- full of thought and carefulness—that had so often divested itself at will of every trace of either to give me diversion, to clear my cloudy face for two or three hours at least of its furrows ? Was this the face -manly, sober, intelligent, which I had so often despised, made mocks at, made merry with? The remembrance of the freedoms which I had taken with it came upon me with a reproach of insult. I could have asked it pardon. I thought it looked upon me with a sense of injury. There is something strange as well as sad in seeing actorsyour pleasant fellows particularly-subjected to and suffering the common lot-their fortunes, their casualties, their deaths, seem to belong to the scene, their actions to be amenable to poetic justice only. We can hardly connect them with more awful responsibilities. The death of this fine actor took place shortly after this meeting. He had quitted the stage some months; and, as I learned afterwards, had been in the habit of resorting daily to these gardens almost to the day of his decease. In these serious walks, probably, he was divesting himself of many scenic and some real vanities—weaning himself from the frivolities of the lesser and the greater theatre-doing gentle penance for a life of no very reprehensible fooleries—taking off by degrees the buffoon mask which he might feel he had worn too long—and rehearsing for a more solemn cast of part. Dying “ he put on the weeds of Dominic." ' *
*—Elia, p. 314. Let us conclude with a few just and graceful words about an actor of a very different order :
• No man could deliver brilliant dialogue—the dialogue of Congreve or of Wycherley—because none understood it-half so well as John Kemble. His Valentine, in Love for Love, was, to my recollection, faultless. He flagged sometimes in the intervals of tragic passion. He would slumber over the level parts of an heroic character. His Macbeth has been known to nod. But he always seemed to me to be particularly alive to pointed and witty dialogue. The relaxing levities
• Dodd was a man of reading, and left at his death a choice collection of old English literature. I should judge him to have been a man of wit. I know one instance of an impromptu which no length of study could have bettered. My merry friend, Jem White, had seen him one evening in Aguecheek, and recognizing Dodd the next day in Fleet Street, was irresistibly impelled to take off his hat, and salute him as the identical knight of the preceding evening with a “Save you, Sir Andrew!” Dodd, not at all disconcerted at this unusual address from a stranger, with a courteous half-rebuking waive of the hand, put him off with an “Away, fool!".
of tragedy have not been touched by any since him—the playful court-bred spirit in which he condescended to the players in Hamlet -the sportive relief which he threw into the darker shades of Richard -disappeared with him. He had his sluggish moods—his torporsbut they were the halting-stones and resting-place of his tragedypolitic savings, and fetches of the breath-husbandry of the lungs, where nature pointed him to be an economist-rather, I think, than errors of the judgment. They were, at worst, less painful than the eternal tormenting unappeasable vigilance,-the " lidless dragon eyes,” of present fashionable tragedy. -Elia, p. 336.
Many of Lamb's best essays were worked up from letters written by him to his friends. The Superannuated Man was a letter, if we mistake not, to Mr. Wordsworth. The Two Races of Men, the Dissertation on Roast Pig, and one or two others, were letters. Sometimes he bettered the original thought—sometimes a little overlaid it (as in the essay on Munden's acting)—and sometimes his letters, not otherwise used by him, are as good as his printed efforts. We heartily hope that the enterprising publisher of his later works, and who has a peculiar interest in Lamb's fame, will give us as good a collection of these letters as can with propriety be made known to the world : they would constitute, at least, one charming additional volume to his friend's writings.
One word more. We have no vocation to speak beyond an author's nierits ; but there are passages in Lamb's works which may cause surmises which would be most unjust as well as injurious to his
memory. No man knew Lamb so thoroughly well as his schoolfellow and life-long friend, Coleridge; and it is of Lamb, no question, that Mr. C. was speaking, when he said * that 'that gentle creature looked upon the degraded men and things around him like moonshine on a dunghill, which shines and takes no pollution.' Elia himself confesses that some of his intimados were a ragged regiment. We can add, that, upon another occasion, when Mr. c. entered into an eloquent and affectionate analysis of Lamb's mind and character, he said,
* Believe me, no one is competent to judge of poor dear Charles, who has not known him long and well as I have done. His heart is as whole as his head. The wild words which sometimes come from him on religious subjects might startle you from the mouth of any other man; but in him they are mere flashes of firework. If an argument seems to him not fully true, he will burst out in that odd way; yet his will—the inward man-is, I well know, profoundly religious and devout. Catch him when alone, and the great odds are, you will find him with a Bible or an old divine before him-or may be, and that is next door in excellence, an old English poet:-in such is his pleasure.
* Table Talk.