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recognised blessings. He seems to have broke away from the bondage of custom and to have seen all things new. One would think, to note the freshness of his perceptions in regard to the most familiar objects of London, that in manhood he was for the first time initiated into city life—that he was a newcomer in the world at an advanced age. Hogarth found no more delight in his street-pencilings, than Lamb in his by-way speculations. In the voyage of life he seemed to be an ordained cicerone, directing attention to that lesser world of experience to which the mass of men are insensible,-drawing their attention from far-off visions of good, and oppressive reminiscences of grief, to the lowly green herbage, springing up in their way, and the soft gentle voices breathing at their firesides, and around their daily steps. And there is truth in Elia's philosophy, for,
“If rightly trained and bred, Humanity is humble,--finds no spot
Which her heaven-guided feet refuse to tread.” We never rise from one of his essays without a feeling of contentment. He leads our thoughts to the actual available spring of enjoyment. He reconciles us to ourselves; causing home-pleasures, and the charms of the wayside, and the mere comforts of existence, to emerge from the shadow into which our indifference has cast them, into the light of fond recognition. The flat dull surface of common life, he causes to rise into beautiful basso-relievo. In truth, there are few better teachers of gratitude than Lamb. He rejuvenates our worn and weary feelings, revives the dim flame of our enthusiasm, opens our eyes to actual and present good, with his humorous accents, and unpretending manner, reads us a homily on the folly of desponding, and the wisdom of appreciating the cluster of minor joys which surround and may be made continually to cheer our being.
We have endeavoured to designate the most prominent of Charles Lamb's traits as an essayist. There is, however, one point to which all that we know of the man converges. His literary and personal example tends to one striking lesson, which should not be thoughtlessly received. We allude to his singular and constant devotion to the ideal. Indeed, he is one of those beings who make us deeply and newly feel how much there is within a human spirit, -how independent it nay become of extrinsic aids,-how richly it may live to itself. Here is an individual whose existence was, for the most part, spent within the smoky precincts of London; first a school-boy at a popular institution, then a laborious clerk, and at length a “lean annuitant." Public life, with its various mental incite
ments,- foreign travel, with its thousand fertilising associations,--fortune, with the unnumbered objects of taste she affords,-ministered not to him. Yet with what admirable constancy did he follow out that sense of the beautiful, and the perfect, which he regarded as most essentially himself! How ardently did he cherish an ideal life! When outward influences and social restrictions encroached upon this, his great énd,--the drama, his favourite authors, a work of art, or a musing hour, were proved restoratives. He did not gratify his fondness for antiquity among the ruins of the ancient world ; but the Temple cloisters, or an old folio, were more eloquent to him of the past, than the Colosseum is to the mass of travellers. He knew not the happiness of conjugal affection ; but his attachment to a departed object was to him a spring of as deep joy, as the unimaginative often find in an actual passion. No little prattlers came about him at even-tide ; but dreamchildren, as lovely as cherubs, solaced his lonely hours. The taste, the love, the very being of Charles Lamb, was ideal. The struggles for power and gain went on around him ; but the tumult disturbed not his repose. The votaries of pleasure swept by him with all the insignia of gaiety and fashion ; but the dazzle and laugh of the careless throng lured him not aside. He felt it was a blessed privilege to stand' beneath the broad heavens, to saunter through the fields, to muse upon the ancient and forgotten, to look into the faces of men, to rove on the wings of fancy, to give scope to the benevolent affections, and especially to evolve from his own breast a light "touching all things with hues of heaven;" in a word, to be Elia. And is there not a delight in contemplating such a life beyond that which the annals of noisier and more heartless men inspire ? In an age of restless activity, associated effort, and a devotion to temporary ends, is there not an unspeakable charm in the character of a consistent idealist? When we can recall so many instances of the perversion of the poetical temperament in gifted natures, through passion and error, is there not consolation in the serene and continuous gratification with which it blessed Lamb? He has now left, for ever, the haunts accustomed to his presence. No more shall Elia indite quaint reminiscences and humorous descriptions for our pleasure; no more shall his criticism enlighten, his pathos affect, or his aphorisms delight us. But his sweet and generous sympathies, his refined taste for the excellent in letters, his grateful perception of the true good of being, his ideal spirit, dwells latently in every bosom. And all may brighten and radiate it, till life's cold pathway is bright with the sunshine of the soul.
ART. X.-The American in England. By the author of "A
Year in Spain.” 2 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1835.
England must ever be replete with the deepest interest to Americans. Apart from her parental relation, she must always be intimately connected with us, from the community of language, of enterprise, of customs, and of literature. Though circumscribed in territory, overburthened with population, and now agitated with the discussion of questions shaking the very foundations of her government, she must still be regarded as a queen amongst nations. We may behold her as a child might regard a parent, who, though in advanced life, is still vigorous, and who still commands esteem and affection by his mind and his achievements. We may feel pride in her never-failing resources, her immense wealth, her restless enterprise, her colossal power. Harassed with debt, crippled with encumbrances as she is, she is still the enlightened and loyal England.
The numerous and easy means of intercourse between the two countries, have afforded each a considerable insight into the character of the other. Here, however, John Bull has so far had the advantage of us; he has been admitted into our families, he has been invited to criticise our institutions, and he has grumbled at us in every position and relation of life. He has found out that we are vain without much reason, and he has characteristically abused us, not only wherever there was cause, but wherever things were different from those to which he had been accustomed. He has laughed at us because he could not find a hotel like the Clarendon in Michigan, and because the “helps” of the west were not as pliable as the waiters of his own foggy land. He has found out that new countries do not afford quite as polished society as old ones, and that where every one aspires to become rich and respected, few are willing to remain in servile situations. Yet he has occasionally touched us in sore places; he has discovered our vulnerable parts, and we writhe quarterly under the lash of some lusty cockney who skims over the country with his English prejudices on his eyes, and damns us as barbarians because we spit, and will not always call him “my lord.” Jonathan, on the other hand, visits England superficially; he views things from the top of a stage-coach; he peers not into the sanctum of society; he wanders over a fertile country, studded with castles and cities; he sees splendid equipages, and all the appliances of wealth and luxury; he glances at well and happy looking faces along the road, and in the fulness of his heart he utters
praises. Even when he starts, as does our “ American," feeling a little wroth at the sarcasms of our visiters from the old country, he generally finds that observation causes him to give up his prejudices. He looks upon the land as the home of his ancestry; and while viewing it in this light, he swells with pride that it is so. Are we treated as candidly?
Well, we are not the less ready to admire what is good, and to imitate what is worthy of imitation. There is much in England that may afford us benefit to consider, much to emulate, much to avoid. The government and its history are at the same time lessons and beacons to our legislators; her commerce, and its springs, to our merchants; her agriculture, and its perfection, to our farmers; her institutions, to our philanthropists. It may well be asked, whether we have done all we could, when regarding in their proper light these things in Great Britain. Have we not, in endeavouring to avoid what is objectionable, fallen into what is equally so? Have we not in many cases made extremes meet, and in others blindly pursued the same causes to the same end and errors? In our horror of a monarch, have we not hurried to the verge of man-worship and despotism? In our wish to increase our resources, have we not clogged ourselves with the same clogs as England? Are we not, by endeavouring to provide for the needy, taxing the labourer and the capitalist to pay premiums for poverty? These are questions for deep consideration; and questions, too, which, though they may startle our patriotism, are not so clearly to be answered in our praise.
Comparison with other countries, as afforded by means of well-written works of travel, is a wholesome and useful exercise. For this reason, we are always ready to offer to a tourist the meed of deserved praise. We rejoice that our citizens travel, if it is only to find out that we are not so unlike the rest of the world as some have supposed. There seems to be a rivalry between England and America, as to which shall write most books about the other. Besides authors, crowds of travellers have crossed the Atlantic, and stand ready to judge. Who has not sported a Stultz in Bond street? We have all tried to see London from St. Paul's, and have really seen it in the Colosseum. We have all gone to the Zoological Gardens, and been refused admittance to the King's Theatre, because, like foolish republicans as we are, we went thither in boots. No longer do we thrill at a description of Westminster Abbey; we all know, that when
6 Sarvice is done; 'tis tuppence now,
To them as vonts to stop." Our imaginations of the eloquence of parliament, have been
squeezed out of us in the half crown gallery. England is no longer a land of wonders; she has become familiar to us. Alas, that utility should always be the foe of romance! Already do we see Constantinople the “but of an "excursion," and steamers smoking on the Ægean. We could almost wish that the Moslem may maintain his sway, and dangers and dirks keep away the adventurous, rather than that pic-nics should take place on Mount Athos, or the Parthenon be in every “picturesque tourist's” sketch book, as "taken on the spot.”
Our “ American,” whose work on Spain we had occasion to praise in a former number, tells us very modestly that he has in the present volumes simply attempted to give a faithful narrative of whatever he saw during a visit to England of a few weeks. We doubt not but that he has conscientiously done this. We may be permitted to regret, however, that he has, with some exceptions, confined himself to the same topics as his predecessors, and in consequence has started but little that is new. We regret, that one who is able to make what he has written so interesting, should not have produced a more novel work. We must believe that his observations and opportunities would have enabled him to extend it both in interest and matter.
He sails from New York; describes his voyage and its incidents in character, and with force; for, be it known, he is a sailor; arrives at Portsmouth, but, wishing to see the coast and channel between it and the mouth of the Thames, re-embarks for London. On his voyage thither, he falls into some reflections against the policy of England, in enthralling commerce with heavy tolls to light-houses, and instances the fact of Dungeness light paying Mr. Coke an enormous yearly profit. This has been condemned by many writers as shortsighted, especially in forcing foreign to pay more than native English ships, and not even exempting vessels driven into her ports by distress. He states the opinion of a distinguished merchant before a committee of the house of commons, as to the impossibility of sailing a vessel with profit in times like the present. To this he finds a ready answer in his voyage up the Thames, where he was surrounded by fleets of ships, clearly indicating that this opinion was not prevalent. And, indeed, those who have sailed up the Thames, or even those who have been rowed through the Pool, will all have the same answer to offer. We know not a more spirit-stirring sight, nor one better calculated to give man confidence in the energies of his fellows, and enlarge his ideas about commerce and wealth, than this view of the numberless vessels, from the huge East Indiaman down to the smallest craft, which crowd the river. Our American gives a decided preference to the superior appearance and sailing of VOL. XIX.-NO. 37.