« AnteriorContinuar »
49 and his “ Tales from Shakspeare,” though the Author appears somewith very considerable interest (third what propria persona, yet he eviedit. 1816), in two volumes, as well as dently often gives us a touch of the his “ Specimens of English Poets,” dramatic. Of this description are who lived in the time of Shakspeare. “ Hypocondraicus, a Vision of Re
We were naturally gratified on see- pentance';” and, we suspect, some ing announced soine time siuce in the others. They are well done, in their public prints, “The Works of Charles way; that is to say, they are poetical, Lamb." We counted on having some and we are pleased ; but we need not good feelings and agreeable recol- be (we suspect) extravagant in our lections awakened ; and we have not sympathies; our real sympathies may been disappointed. The Writer tells be reserved for the proper occasions. us, ip a Dedication to Mr. Coleridge, His “ Farewell to Tobacco" is a
" That when he wrote John Wood- sort of mixt poem. We are inclined ville' (a tragedy,, contained in the first
to think, judging at least from the volume), he never proposed to bimself cast of this poem, that we here disany distinct deviation from common English; that he had been newly initiated Lamb, struggling with strong passion,
cover something of the real Charles in the writings of our elder Dramatists, with love and hate of tobacco; though Beaumont and Fletcher, and Massinger, they being then a first-love; and that,
we suspect that here also is much from wbat he was so freshly conversant
that is purely dramatic. But whether in, it was no wonder if his language im
Mr. Lamb is really speaking in his perceptibly took a tinge.”
own, or a borrowed character, bis This tinge is occasionally found in more particular friends, “ bis blest Mr. Lamb's other poems, as well as in
Tobacco boys,” best know. Speakbis Tragedy; and different readers ing in our own humble capacity, more may form different opinions of them, critico, we must say, that this little in some measure, according to their fancy work possesses great merit, bedifferent opinions of the style and ing, replete with whim, wit, and naimanner of some of our more early. veté, of political and classical picwriters.
tures, and that Mr. Charles Lamb is These two volumes contain various thereby entitled to all his poetica liperformances of Mr. Lamb, both in centia, together with a dispensation verse and prose, several of which, (so far as he may be personally introthough we believe not all, have ap- duced into this Poem, to smoke aslong peared already before the publick in as he pleases, or to leave off smok: different forms. His “ Recollections ing as soon as he pleases. on Christ's Hospital," it occurs to us,
Allowing Mr. L. his full liberty to were printed some time back in our dramatize, and laughing with him in Miscellany $; and it would be difficult the proper places, we are prepared to bestow on them too much praise; also to be serious with him, and to though we apprehend, as we did at give our real sympathies where they the time, that their full beauties can are justly due; for we find in his be entered into by no readers but poetical pieces much moral feeling, such as have been educated in that and should judge bin to be a kind most excellent Institution.
hearted, gentle creature, of which But first as to our Author's poetry: his name may be a true emblem. (See and here we perceive we must be cau
his “ Sonnet on the Emily Name.") lious of handling Charles Lamb, in our
The paternal and social feelings we critical capacity, seeing he will be li- should suppose him to possess in a able to slip through our fingers. His high degree, from his " Address to “ John Woodville" is professedly a Charles Lloyd; to T. L. H. a child ; tragedy; bis “Mr. H." a farce; and to Martin Cha. Burney, Esq. ; to his his. Witch” he calls a dramatic sketch Brother ; and the three friends.” of the seventeenth century. And
In a closing Sonnet, we are remindhere, were we disposed to criticize, ed of poor human Nature ; but the we should know how to proceed ; at sovnet itself is a very pleasing one:least how we ought to proceed. But,
SonNet XI. besides these, there are many poetical “We were two pretty babes, the youngest sketches in his works, in which, she,
[ween), See them in vol. LXXXII. i. 532, 617. The youngest, and the loveliest far, i Gent. Mag. July, 1819.
And Innocence her name. The time they are the effusions of his solitary bas been,
musings, which he retires to holes and We two did love each other's company; corners and the most sequestered parts Time was, we two had wept to bave been of the palace to pour forth ; or rather, apart.
they are the silent meditations with But when hy show of seeming good be- which his bosom is bursting, reduced to guild,
words for the sake of the reader, who I left the garb and manners of a child, must else remain ignorant of what is And my first love for man's society, passing there. These profound sorrows, Defiling with the world my virgin heart, these light-and-noise-abborring ruminaMy lov'd companion dropp'd a tear, and tions, which the tongue scarce dares fed,
utter to deaf walls and chambers, how And hid in deepest shades her awful head. can they be represented by a gesticuBelov'd, who shall tell me where thou lating actor, who comes and mouths art
them out before an audience, making In what delicious Eden to be found · four hundred people his confidants at That I may seek thee the wide world I say not that it is the fault of around ?"
the actor so to do; he must pronounce Thus far with respect to Mr. Lamb's them ore rotundo, he must accompany poetical compositions ; all of which, them with his eye, he must insinuate if we do not inuch admire, we admire them into his auditory by some trick of most very much. His Prose Es
eye, tone, or gesture, or he fails. He says embrace the following topics: appearance, because he knows that all
must be thinking all th while of his On the 'Tragedies of Shakspeare, con- the while the spectators are judging of sidcred with reference to their fitness
it. And this is the way to represent the for stage representation; Characters shy, negligent, retiring Hamlet.” of Dramatic Writers contemporary
We should, however, here' take with Shakspeare ; Specimens from the Writings of Fuller the Church along with us that Mr. Lamb is not Historian ; on the Genius and Cha. arguing that Hamlet or Lear should
not be acted, but to show how much racter of Hogarth; on the Poetical Works of Geo. Wither; with several they are made other things by being other pieces.
acled ; and the following remark, It is the aim of the Essay on Shaks. though. boldly advanced, appears to peare's Tragedics to show, that the
be strictly just : practice of stage representation re
“I mean no disrespect to any actor ; duces every thing to a controversy of but the sort of pleasure which Shakselocution; and that some of the best peare's plays give in the acting, seems things must be sullied and turned from the audience receive from those of any
to me not at all to differ from that which their very nature, by being exposed other writers; and they being in themto a large audience. He could not have chosen better characters for the others, I must conclude there is some
selves so essentially different from all purpose of illustrating his ideas on
thing in the nature of acting which this subject than those of Hamlet and levels all distinctions." Lear. We shall let Mr. Lamb speak
The vulgar stuff that has been for himself :
foisted into Shakspeare's plays to ren“ The character of Hamlet is, per- der them “ acting plays,” is justly rehaps, that by which, since the days of probated by Mr. Lamb. Beiterton, a succession of popular per- Our Author's former publications formers have had tbe greatest ambition revder him peculiarly filled for his to distinguish themselves. The lengih present undertaking, and he has exeof the part may be one of their reasons. cuted it in no common way; for the But for the character itself, we find it in a play, and therefore we judge it a
next Essay, therefore, on the Cha
racters of Dramatic Writers conteni. fit subject of dramatic representation. The play itself abounds in maxims and porary with Shakspeare, we shall let reflexions beyond any other, and there
him speak for himself: fore we consider it as a proper vehicle When I selected for publication, in for conveying moral instruction. But
1808, Specimens of English Dramatic Hamlet himsell - what does he suffer Poets, who lived about the time of meanwhile, by being dragged forth as Shakspeare, the kind of extracts which the public schoolmaster, to give lectures I was anxious to give were not so much to the crowd? Why, nine parts in ten passages of wit and humour, though the of what Hamlet dves, are transactions old plays are rich in such, as scenes of between himself and his moral sense; passion, sometimes of the deepest qua
51 lity, interesting situations, serious de- of such a pature that the acknowscriptions, that wbich is more nearly ledgment of thein is no gratifying allied to poetry than to wit, and to tragic duty; indeed the very mention of rather than to comic poetry. The plays Ireland conjures up a host of painful. which I made choice of were, with few recollections and forebodings, from exceptions, such as treat of human life
which the mind, rather than combat and manners, rather than masques and
them, would willingly escape, seekArcadian pastorals, with their train of abstractions, unimpassioned deities, pas-ing refuge from the trouble of desionate mortals-Claius, and Medorus, vising a present remedy, in the passive and Amintas, and Amarillis. My lead- hope that future events may, sonicing design was, to illustrate what may
how or other, avert the threatened be called the moral sense of our ances
evil. Thus, to vary the similitude, tors. To show in what manner they that once distracted country appears felt, when they placed themselves by on our political horizon like a slumthe power of imagination in trying cir. bering volcano, which, at any mocumstances, in the conflicts of duty and ment, in a season of seening tranquilpassion, or the strife of contending du- lity, may again vomit forth its devasties; what sort of loves and enmities
tatiog fires. Impressed with an appretheirs were ; how their griefs were tem- hension that some terrible explosion is pered, and their full-swoln joys abated; preparing, we stand alovf, in still but how much of Shakspeare shines in the
unquiet apprehension, half ashamed great men bis contemporaries, and how far in his divine mind and manners he
of our inertness, and ready to applaud surpassed them and all, mankind. I
the first adventurous spirit who shall was also desirous to bring together some
explore the penetralia of the dreaded of the most admired scenes of Fletcher region, and bring back truth either lo and Massinger, in the estimation of the coofirm or dispel our fears, and at all world the only dramatic poets of that
events to relieve us from suspense. age entitled to be considered after Nor were there wanting men of suffiShakspeare, and, by exhibiting them in cient nerve to accomplish that desirthe same volume with the more impres. able aim, if firinness and perseverance sive scenes of old Marlowe, Heywood, were the only requisites; but Ireland Tourneur, Webster, Ford, and others, is not a country to be explored by a to show what we had slighted, while
mere stranger; and he who, on making beyond all proportion we had been cry
the attempt, had to depend only on ing up, one or two favourite names.
the common and obvious means of From the desultory criticisms which ac
information, would return, very little companied the publication, I have se.
the wiser from his expedition. It is lected a few which I thought would best stand by themselves, as requiring least only by a native that such a country immediate reference to the play or pas
can be worthily described, and that sage by which they were suggested,"
pative must divest himself of many (To be continued.)
cherished and deep-rooted partialities,
before he ventures upon the taska 6. Views of Society and Manners in the To the credit of possessing these
North of Ireland, in a Series of Letters, qualifications, the present writer, if written in the year 1818. By Jobn we may judge from his owo avowal, Gamble, Esq.Aulhor of “Irish Sketches,” which is corroborated by circuniSarsfield,"
" " Northern Irish Tales," stantial evidence, has a fair and just &c. 8vo. Longman and Ca.
title. Ireland is his birth place, and IN the present age of Tours and the abode of his youth; but he has Journeys, when the liberation of the passed a season of his maturer years Continent has opened so wild a field in other countries, and has thus enafor investigation, Ireland seems to be bled himself to appreciate her condisinking into provincial obscurity, and tion, by comparing it with theirs. is likely to be more than ever neg- He returns, with his amor patriæ lected. But its claims to notice, undiminished, though regulated by a though superseded for a time by wider survey of the world ; he reviews those of more distant countries, which the scenes of his early days with the have lhe attraction of novelty to re- calm eye of experience, and he obcommend them, are not intrinsically serves changes which (setting aside all diminished, and can never be regarded the sanguine anticipatious of juvenile · with indifference. These claims con- enthusiasm) indicate retrogradation tinue to be deeply felt, but they are rather than improvement, and mourg
fully disappoint the hopes which he from leaving our fellow men to seek in had fornied. He records his obser- infirmity and old age that bread, which, vations in a series of Letters to a were society constructed as it ought to friend, and this mode of communica. be, should be wanting to none. The tion, while it relieves him from the
immediate evil was the rapid propagarestraint which might have been im
tion of the fever, which, almost at the
same instant, shewed itself in the town posed upon him by the idea that he was delivering his testimony at the
and country, the hill and valley,—the
Lord's castle,- the tradesman's house,bar of the Public, is perfectly consistent with the design of his work. derstand, however, that its malignity
and the poor man's cabin. I do not unHe identifies himself with his country
was much greater than on former occamed, and concludes that he cannot
sions ; though its diffusion so outbetter describe them than by a frank baffled all calculation, and could only and unreserved display of his own be paralleled in those barbarous times, feelings.
when battle and murder spread bavoc The following is a portion of the over the land, and pestilence gathered Letter which he writes, after having the gleanings of those whom they bad taken up his residence in his native spared.” town:
He gives an alarming account of “I have now been better than a week the state of things in the North of in Strabane, and it is time, therefore, Ireland, a district which he declares that I should write. Yet little have I
to be so much changed in the course to tell, except that I have seen a few old
of ten years, that he can scarcely reacquaintances, visited
my and that I have found everything cognize it to be the same land. changed, and changed for the worse. “ The late war, while it aided party Since I was last here, this town and and increased taxes, increased wealth; neighbourhood have been visited by two and the natural consequences of' wealth, almost of the heaviest calamities which refinement in manner of living, improve. can befal human beings. Fever and fa- ment in dressing, and a taste for luxumine have been let loose, and it is hard ries followed. Of a social disposition as to say which has destroyed the most. the people are, and captivated by unac
“ It would be too much to assert that customed enjoyment, it is possible that the latter caused the former; but it ëven then this prosperity was more apundoubtedly was the cause of its wide parent than real, and though something diffusion. Hordes of wandering beggars, was gained, that little was saved. Be. impelled by the cravings of hunger, car- sides, unconnected as landlords and ried the distemper from door to door; tenants unfortunately now are, by those and, from their wretched habiliments, ties which bound them together for. wafted contagion far and wide. Almost merly so closely, rents were raised to an the entire mountain population, lite- enormous pitch, and even in those days rally speaking, took up iheir beds and paid with difficulty and murmuring, are walked; and, with Their diseased blan- now scarcely paid at all. With the kets wrappeil round them, sought, in stoppage of the war, trade seemed likethe low lands, the succour which cba- wise to stop, and like a bow too forcibly rity could not give, but at the hazard of bent, society, with hideous recoil, few life.
back to the opposite extreme; for, as if “ Irish usages have always opened a prosperity, which is not very natural to ready way to the beggar. The most any land, should be particularly unna. holy men, says one of their laws, were tural to Ireland, the terrible harvest of remarkable for hospitality; and the Gos- the year before last, succeeded to the pel commands us to receive the sojourner, peace, heaped misery on misery, disease to entertain him, and to relieve his on poverty, and generated the fever and
Even in ordinary times, the famine of which I have already spoken. poor claim charity as a matter less of " The Northern farmer, who in gefavour than of right; and approach the neral cultivates only a few acres of land, rich man's door, almost with the free- scarcely able to feed his family, and todom of an inmate; but they now, in tally unable to relieve the hundredth frightful numbers, besieged every house, part of the misery wbich daily and hourly and forced their way into kitchens, par- knocked at his door, fell unavoidably Jours, and even rooms the most remote. into arrears. Humane landlords spared
“ Those who condemn the English their tenants, and though the motives system of poor Jaws, would have bere which dictated such conduct were in the found reason to change their opinion ; highest degree praiseworthy, there were and have beheld the evils inseparable occasions in which it rather did barm
“ It is sad to contemplate this fertile “But there is little danger that hu- land, deserted or neglected by its genmanity in the excess should ever be try, its natural guardians and protecvery injurious to mankind, and the great tors, and leaving their poor tenantry to suffering sprung from the opposite cause. the mercy of servile and rapacious Selfish landlords and agents filled the agents, who shear the flocks which they pounds with cattle, seized and auction- were appointed to tend, and turn them ed grain, bousehold furniture, beds, bed- out in shivering and unshapen nakedding, and whatever else they could layness, to meet the storms of these pitiless hands on; and by this cruel as well as times. To the absence of those people, foolish policy, wbile they gained tran- much of the misery of Ireland is attrisient payment, incalculably added to butable, and heavy in all probability the aggregate of suffering, and irrepa- will be its re-action on themselves, for rably injured their struggling, and to their shameful negligence of those to their further shame I must add, merito- whom they owe their means of living, rious tenantry. The linen-trade felt and their cruel and thoughtless abanthe general depression ; money became donment of them. For the oppression so scarce that numbers could not pur- of the poor, for the sigbing of the needy, chase even the flax-seed that was neces- now will I arise,' saith the Lord, 'I will sary to sow their ground, and thousands set him in safety from him that puffeth of hogsheads, after being in vain offered at him.' for sale bere, were shipped for England “ I express myself more warmly than and Scotland, and sold at an immense I am wont, but I cannot forbear; for the loss to make oil of.
history of Ireland is a melancholy one, "By the combination of these causes, and melancholy is it to think, that Time, and inany others, this country a short wbich gives relief to the sufferings of while ago presented not so much a me- others, seems only to give increase to lancholy, as a frightful spectacle ; the bers. That in this enlightened age, and abode once of comfort, it seemed now a under a British Government, she should huge areva of misery; and Jaw-suits, endure as great evils as in the rudest ejectments, distresses, imprisonments, times, and under the most barbarous assailed those whom the fever had spared. one ; that wbatever was of good in her
“ But violence has in its own nature cup, should, by a wretched fatality, be a period at which it must cease, and the converted into evil, and that all kinds disease in a measure has wrought its of causes have combined in plunging her own cure. There are few law-suits; for into wretchedness; that moral as well of what avail to go to law, where there as natural ones have aggregated to are so' little means of payment ? and be. blight her happiness; that the storms of sides, many to whom large sums are Europe are concentrated in louder temowing, actually cannot command the pest on her forlorn head; and that, sitrifle necessary to go to law.
tuated in the waste of the earth as of places society is transported back to the the Atlantic, she should meet the first, practice of the ruder ages, and pay. and feel the most and the longest, the ments in kind are becoming the com- howling blast and gathering wintry wave monest of any. A few weeks ago a re- of climate, situation, fortune, and time. lation of mine disposed of a field of corn Even that Atlantic which bore to the which was ready for cutting, for which, New World the crimes of the Old, bore according to the valuation of two men back to Ireland, who was in no degree who viewed it, she is in December to their participator, a fell portion of the get an equivalent quantity of oatmeal. punishment of them; for it is my deA poor man who has a few acres of land cided opinion, that much of the actual from her, and is now nearly three years misery, of this province at least, is one in arrears, expects, as the harvest is so ing to the undue cultivation of the pofavourable a one, shortly to pay a part tatoe, which a few years back, confined of it, but not in money, but by giving as it ought to be to the garden, like the her potatoes and turf. I know not that bramble, has now overrun every spot this has ever occurred to lawyers on cir- almost to the mountain-top. cuit, as bas been reported, but I am “The multiplication of human beings, sure that surgeons and apothecaries, by this means, is far beyond what the (physicians are here pretty much out of earth can properly nourish, and these the question), have oftentimes been paid bleak and misty kills, fit habitations in a siinilar manner.”
alone for shepherds and their flocks,