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philanthropist, it has seemed to create a purer atmosphere around, and redeemed many a moment from the common-place routine of mere matter-of-fact existence. To catch a glimpse of any one of these deified portions of humanity in the streets, has been sufficient to make the heart beat with doubled motion, and many a time has served to refresh the tired feet and send them on their way rejoicing. And when Fortune has been so dear a friend as to bring the chance of seeing them face to face-of hearing them speak, perchance,
of having a word or look that one might appropriate, (selfish this, but so it has been,)—the head has grown dizzy at the thought,' and has revelled in anticipation as blessed as must have been that of an ancient mythologist at the thought of a banquet with the gods. It was during a worshipful time like this, upon a bright sunshiny spring morning, worthy such an announcement, that a friend said, Come to me next Tuesday, I am going to Charles Lamb's—Coleridge is to be there—and you shall go with me.' My heart was on its knees the next minute, and for the two or three intervening days I trod on air; I lived in a dream of some coming good, at times mingled with the fear lest it should never arrive. It was not to see these objects of worship in a crowd, where I might, perchance, hear a word, or catch a glimpse, as one does at the prime picture of an exhibition, between the chinks of people's bodies, but to see them for hours uninterruptedly; to see them in the character of friends to each other, when there would be no influence of the world upon them; to watch them, listen to them, without losing look or word ; to see Coleridge with the Charles' of his sonnets, and the Mary of his songs; to fill one's ears with the heart's talk of two poets, so much the purer for its being uncontaminated by the desire for fame. The time came nearer and nearer, and at last the very day, and I called for my kind pleasure purveyor, and we walked together to the well-remembered quaint-looking house by the canal, which had seen so many worthy of note pass along its banks, and, alas for the absent, one walk into itself instead, -one of the generation who, in their moods of abstraction, 'know not their right hand from their left, nor unstable water from terra firmá. Řap at the door, with the heart beating quite as strongly; open-in-speaking in a whisper as if we had entered a cathedral. How difficult is it to give a faithful record of past impressions! Since those days, ' old things have passed away, and all things are become new. I am not the same I that I was then, and the two I's encounter on the way and stare at one another in strange bewilderment. It is not with the facts themselves, but with the inferences drawn from those facts, that change has been so busy. How he came, or when he came, or whether they were there when we entered, is all forgotten ; but I have them distinctly before me as if it were yesterday. Coleridge, with his clear, calm, blue eyes and expansive forehead, -his sweet, child-like, ’nruffled expression of face,—his painful voice, which, in spite of all the beauties and treasures it was the means of bringing to you, had yet such an expression in its tone of long suffering and patient endurance, as at first to prevent the sensation excited by his extraordinary power of conversation being one of perfect enjoyment. I had heard much of this power, but no description, however vivid, could give an idea of the uninterrupted outpouring of poetry in the spoken prose that streamed from his lips. It was a realization of the fairy tale of the enchanted child; he never opened his mouth but out came a precious gem, a pearl beyond all price, which all around gathered up to hoard in the cabinet of their memories. His figure was tall and somewhat inclined to corpulency; its expression was, like that of his voice, one of suffering borne long and patiently. There was a certain air of dissatisfaction—no, unsatisfiedness,—(how different are the two!) which set the mind busily to work to discover why, with all the choice gifts with which genius had blessed him, he should not be entirely happy. The mystery has been since unriddled; he had never known the reality of love; he had dreamt of it in his poems, but while seeking to make his dependence upon it in his own existence, it had failed him. He was a slave to the laws which doom a creature, who has mated mistakenly, cither to live for ever in joyless companionship, or to live a solitary in the depths of his heart's affections, without hope of possessing that one sympathy which is essential to the developement of man's noblest, best, and most happiness-giving attributes. There was the secret of the painful voice and of the suffering form; and there, too, was the secret of his recourse to the dram of opium, that hypocritical thing which pretends to relieve the suffering which it eventually aggravates.
The character of Charles Lamb's person was in total contrast to that of Coleridge. His strongly-marked, deeply-lined face, furrowed more by feeling than age, like an engraving by Blake, where every line told its separate story, or like a finely chiselled head done by some master in marble, where every touch of the chisel marked some new attribute. Yet withal there was so much sweetness and playfulness lurking about the corners of the mouth, that it gave to the face the extraordinary character of flexible granite. His figure was small even to spareness.
It was as if the soul within, in its constant restless activity, had worn the body to its smallest possibility of existence. There was an equal amount of difference in his conversation from that of Coleridge, as there was in his person. It was not one uninterrupted flow, but a periodical production of sentences, short, telling, full of wit, philosophy, at times slightly caustic, though that is too strong a word for satire which was of the most good-natured kind. There was another essential point of difference. In Coleridge might be detected a certain consciousness of being listened to, and at times an evident getting up of phrases, a habit almost impossible to be avoided in a practised conversationalist. In Charles Lamb there was a perfect absence of this; all that he said was choice in its humour, true in its philosophy; but the racy freshness, that was like an atmosphere of country air about it, was better than all; the perfect simplicity, absence of all conceit, child-like enjoyment of his own wit, and the sweetness and benevolence that played about the rugged face, gave to it a charm in no way inferior to the poetical enjoyment derived from the more popular conversation of his friend. Another difference might be observed ; that Coleridge's metaphysics seemed based in the study of his own individual nature more than the nature of others, while Charles Lamb seemed not for a moment to rest on self, but to throw his whole soul into the ture of circumstances and things around him. These differences served only to heighten the enjoyment of witnessing the long-enduring genuine friendshipexisting between the two,—the three, (for why should · Mary' be excluded ?) -wrought out of mingling sympathies and felicitous varieties. In Charles Lamb, as in Coleridge, at times there was a melancholy in the face which partook of the nature of his individual character. It was not dissatisfaction; it was not gloom :. but it seemed to say that he had had more affection, more gushing tenderness of feeling, than he had met with objects on whom to expend it. His. Dream Children'* is sufficient proof of this. Had he married his 'Alice,' had they been realities of little (the pun is irresistible) Lambs playing about him, this might not have been. How he would have joked with them, laughed with them, delighted to watch them for the sake of the thousand beauties he would have discovered in daily developement; though much more that they were the children of her whom he loved, transmitters of her loveliness and worth, so many receptacles of her soul, which they would bear down as a blessing to posterity, to give to others who should come after him the like joy which she had bestowed upon him. But then what would the world have done for want of his · Elia,' for would he not have been engrossed with the cares of a family, or with the sense of his own enjoyment? Assuredly not; they would have stimulated him to greater literary exertions, and we should have had such stories of happy love, such descriptions of summer gambols in the green wood and winter frolickings by the fire-side, Midsummer merry-makings and Christmas carollings, as would have made a gladsome echo through the world, and have taught it a lesson of which it is yet so ignorant, the nature and ministry of true and pure and devoted love. But what would have become of the following letter, with which we have been favoured, and which goes to prove that he was not all alone in the world-in his world, that is to say ? It was written to a friend who had sent him a copy of the old romance Astræa:* Dear C. Your books are as the gushing streams in a desert.
“Rank and Talent" you shall have, when Mrs. M
has done with 'em. Mary likes Mrs. Bedinfield much. For me I read nothing but AsTRÆA; it has turned my brain. I go about with a switch turned up at the end for a crook; and, Lambs being too old, the butcher tells me, my cat follows me in a green riband. Becky* and her cousin are getting pastoral dresses, and then we shall all four go about Arcadizing. "O cruel shepherdess ! inconstant yet fair, and more inconstant for being fair !" Her gold ringlets fell in a disorder superior to order! Come and join us. I am called the black shepherd. You shall be - with a tuft.'-—And what would have become of Mary and her pseudonyme budget, and where would have been the indivisible brother and sisterhood, the heart and home sharing they had together their whole lives through, the strong affection which defied all change of time or circumstance,—all, save the power of the great enemy who has now separated them? Was he not cruel in so doing? Would it not have been mercy to have made them sharers in death as they had been in life? to have made them go hand in hand to their last quiet home together?
Coleridge, on the evening in question, spoke of death with fear; not from the dread of punishment, not from the shrinking from physical pain, but he said he had a horror lest, after the attempt to ó shuffle off this mortal coil,' he should yet be thrown back upon himself.' Charles Lamb kept silence, and looked sceptical; and, after a pause, said suddenly, One of the things that made me question the particular inspiration they ascribed to Jesus Christ, was his ignorance of the character of Judas Iscariot. Why did not he and his disciples kick him out for a rascal, instead of receiving him as a disciple?' Coleridge smiled very quietly, and then spoke of some person (name forgotten) who had been making a comparison between himself and Wordsworth as to their religious faith. “They said, although I was an atheist, we were upon a par, for that Wordsworth's Christianity was very like Coleridge's atheism; and Coleridge's atheism was very like Wordsworth’s Christianity. After some time he moved round the room to read the different engravings that hung upon the walls. One, over the mantel-piece, especially interested his fancy. There were only two figures in the picture, both women. One was of a lofty, commanding stature, with a high intellectual brow, and of an abbess-like deportment. She was standing in grave majesty, with the finger uplifted, in the act of monition to a young girl beside her. The face was in profile, and somewhat severe in its expression; but this was relieved by the richness and grace of the draperies in which she was profusely enveloped. The girl was in the earliest and freshest spring of youth, lovely and bright, with a somewhat careless and inconsiderate air, and she seemed but half inclined to heed the sage advice of her elder companion. She held in her hand a rose, with which she was toying, and had she been alive you would have expected momentarily to see it taken between the taper fingers, and scattered in wilful profusion. Coleridge uttered an expression of admiration, and then, as if talking to himself, apostrophized in some such words as these: There she stands, with the world all before her: to her it is as a fairy dream, a vision of unmingled joy. To her it is as is that lovely flower, which woos her by its bright hue and fragrant perfume. Poor child! must thou too be reminded of the thorns that lurk beneath ? Turn thee to thy monitress! she bids thee clasp not too closely pleasures that lure but to wound thee. Look into her eloquent eyes ; listen to her pleading voice; her words are words of wisdom; garner them up in thy heart; and when the evil days come, the days in which thou shalt say “I find no pleasure in them,” remember her as thus she stood, and, with uppointing finger, bade thee think of the delights of heaven—that heaven which is ever ready to receive the returning wanderer to its rest.'
* The servant.
He spoke of the effect of different sounds upon his sensations; said, of all the pains the sense of hearing ever brought to him, that of the effect made by a dog belonging to some German conjurer was the greatest. The man pretended that the dog would answer, ' Ich bedanke mein herr,' when anything was given to it; and the effort and contortion made by the dog to produce the required sound, proved that the scourge, or some similar punishment, had been applied to effect it. In contrast to this was the homage he rendered to the speaking voice of Mrs. Jordan, on which he expatiated in such rapturous terms, as if he had been indebted to it for a sixth sense. He said that it was the exquisite witchery of her tone that suggested an idea in his Remorse,' that if Lucifer had had permission to retain his angel voice, hell would have been hell no longer. In the course of the evening the talented editor of the · Comic Annual' made his appearance. He was then known only by his Hogarthian caricature of the Progress of Cant,' upon which Coleridge complimented him. After some time he introduced many of his etchings, which were then unknown to the world, and they were the means of exciting in Coleridge the first genuine hearty laugh I had seen.
If one had not admired entirely, it would have been enough to have made him envied. Laugh after laugh followed as the square tablets (trump cards in the pack of the genius of caricature) were laid upon the table, and a merry game it was for all. The effect was not a little increased by the extreme quietude of their master, who stood by without uttering a word, except with the corners of his mouth, where the rich fund of humour which