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them was not so entirely subordinate to the moral. One conclusion we may incidentally deduce from his remarks—that the meaning in pictorial illustrations, either as regards humour or sentiment, is not so appreciable as it would be in words, and consequently that caricatures labour under considerable disadvantages. “Much,” he says, “ depends upon the habits of mind we bring with us.” And he continues“ It is peculiar to the confidence of high genius alone to trust much to spectators or readers,” he might have added that in painting, this confidence is often misplaced, especially as regards the less imaginative part of the public. We owe him a debt, however, for a true observation with regard to the general uses of caricatures, that “it prevents that disgust at common life which an unrestricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is in danger of producing.”
But leaving passages in which Lamb approves of absurd jesting, and those in which he commends humour for pointing a moral, we come to consider the largest and most characteristic part of his writings, his pleasant essays, in which he has neither shown himself a moralist or a mountebank.
The following is from an Essay “On the Melancholy of Tailors.”
“Observe the suspicious gravity of their gait. The peacock is not more tender, from a consciousness of his peculiar infirmity, than a gentleman of this profession is of being known by the same infallible testimonies of his occupation, “ Walk that I may know thee.”
Who ever saw the wedding of a tailor announced in the newspapers, or the birth of his eldest son ?
“When was a tailor known to give a dance, or to be himself a good dancer, or to perform exquisitely upon the tight rope, or to shine in any such light or airy pastimes ? To sing, or play on the violin ? Do they much care for public rejoicings, lightings up, ringing of bells, firing of cannons, &c.
“ Valiant I know they be, but I appeal to those who were witnesses to the exploits of Eliot's famous troop whether in their fiercest charges they betrayed anything of that thoughtless oblivion to death with which a Frenchman jigs into battle, or, whether they did not show more of the melancholy valour of the Spaniard upon whom they charged that deliberate courage which contemplation and sedentary habits breathe.”
Lamb accounts for this melancholy of tailors in several ingenious ways.
“ May it not be that the custom of wearing apparel, being derived to us from the fall, and one of the most mortifying products of that unbappy event, a certain seriousness (to say no more of it) may in the order of things have been intended to have been impressed upon the minds of that race of men to whom in all ages the care of contriving the buman apparel has been entrusted.”
He makes further comments upon their habits and diet, observing that both Burton and Galen especially disapprove of cabbage.
In “Roast Pig” we have one of those homely subjects which were congenial to Lamb.
“There is no flavour comparable, I will contend, to that of the crisp, tawny, well-watched, not over roasted crackling -as it is well called the very teeth are invited to their share of the pleasure at this banquet in overcoming the coy, brittle resistance-with the adhesive oleaginous-0
call it not fat-but an indefinable sweetness growing up to it-the tender blossoming of fat-fat cropped in the bud -taken in the shoot in the first innocence—the cream and quintessence of the child pig's yet pure food-the lean-no lean, but a kind of animal manna-or rather fat and lean (if it must be so) so blended and running into each other, that both together make but one ambrosian result, or common substance.
“ Behold him, while he is doing-it seemeth rather a refreshing warmth than a scorching heat, that he is passive to. How equably he twirleth round the string! Now he is just done. To see the extreme sensibility of that tender age; he hath wept out his pretty eyes -radiant jelliesshooting stars. .....
“His sauce should be considered. Decidedly a few bread crumbs done up with his liver and brains, and a dish of mild sage. But banish, dear Mrs. Cook, I beseech you the whole onion tribe. Barbecue your whole hogs to your palate, steep them in shalots, stuff them out with plantations of the rank and guilty garlic, you cannot poison them or make them sharper than they are-but consider be is a weakling-a flower.”
Lamb gives his opinion that you can no more improve sucking pig than you can refine a violet.
Thus he proceeds along his sparkling roadhis humour and poetry gleaming one through the other, and often leaving us in pleasant uncertainty whether he is in jest or earnest. Though not gifted with the strength and suppleness of a great humorist, he had an intermingled sweetness and brightness beyond even the alchemy of Addison. We regret to see his oldfashioned figure receding from our view—but he will ever live in remembrance as the most joyous and affectionate of friends.
Byron-Vision of Judgment—Lines to Hodgson-Beppo
-Humorous Rhyming-Profanity of the Age. M OORE considered that the original
genius of Byron was for satire, and he certainly first became known by his “ English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.” Nevertheless, his humorous productions are very small compared with his sentimental. It might perhaps have been expected that his mind would assume a gloomy and cynical complexion. His personal infirmity, with which, in his childhood, even his mother was wont to taunt him, might well have begotten a severity similar to that of Pope. The pressure of friends and creditors led him, while a mere stripling, to form an uncongenial alliance with a stern puritan, who, while enjoying his renown, sought to force his soaring genius into the trammels of commonplace conventionalities. On his refusing, a clamour was raised against him, and those who were too dull to criticise his writings were fully equal to the task of finding fault with his
morals. It may be said that he might have smiled at these attacks, and conscious of his power, have replied to his social as well as literary critics
“Better to err with Pope than shine with Pye,” and so he might, had he possessed an imperturbable temper, and been able to forecast his future fame. But a man's career is not secure until it is ended, and the throne of the author is often his tomb. Moreover, the same hot blood which laid him open to his enemies, also rendered him impatient of rebuke. Coercion roused his spirit of opposition; he fell to replies and retorts, and to “making sport for the Philistines.” He would show his contempt for his foes by admitting their charges, and even by making himself more worthy of their vituperation. And so a great name and genius were tarnished and spotted, and a dark shadow fell upon his glory. But let us say he never drew the sword without provocation. In condemning the wholesale onslaught he made in the “Bards and Reviewers,” we must remember that it was a reply to a most unwarrantable and offensive attack made upon him by the “Edinburgh Review," written as though the fact of the author being a nobleman had increased the spleen of the critic. It Says: