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which animated him on all occasions, in the discharge of his high functions. The second volume is almost wholly taken up with his letters addressed to various persons, upon the inexhaustible theme of the wants of the church in India. In the appendix we find, besides several tributes to his memory, three cantos of a poem entitled · Morte d' Arthur,' which appear to us by no means calculated to improve the literary reputation of Doctor Heber.
Art. V.-Album Verses, with a few others. By Charles Lamb. 8vo.
pp. 150. London: Moxon. 1830. Some few years ago, there was in this metropolis a little coterie of half-bred men, who took up poetry and literature as a trade, and who, having access to one or two Sunday newspapers, and now and then to the magazines and reviews, puffed off each other as the first writers of the day. The public, who are always easily deluded by bold pretenders, took no trouble to inquire into the real merits of these much praised individuals; they read on every thing that was offered, whether in verse or prose, and, for aught that we know, joined in the chorus of eulogy that was poured upon the authors from the land of Cockaigne.
Among these was Leigh Hunt, Mr. Proctor, better known under the namby pamby title of Barry Cornwall, Mr. Hazlitt, some half a dozen others whose names we forget, and Mr. Charles Lamb, the inditer of the precious verses now before us. The productions of these persons were represented to be among the sweetest, the most delicate, and the most powerful compositions of the age. There was no agreeable or valuable attribute which they did not possess. Some restored the best school of English poesy; some were models of criticism ; some taught us the only true style of writing poetical essays; some presented us with the genuine dignity of history, and all had the talent of playfulness and humour, and, when they chose, of cutting satire. The lax measures revived by Sir Walter Scott, in verse, they readily adopted, as being in complete unison with their rambling ideas; the egotistical style of their prose, and its peculiar decorations of figure and expression were all their own.
We were, whatever rank we enjoyed, uniformly among the journalists who detected the heresies of this cockney school, and exposed them to the ridicule and contempt of good sense.
The impudence of their innovations had no charms for us; we laughed at the false lustre of their witticisms. The splitting of their thin ideas into a minute number of parts, either through conceit or for the purpose of filling up with the minimum of mental labour the greatest quantity of foolscap, we looked upon with pity, seeing that so much good material (the paper we mean) was absolutely thrown away. Their amorous strains made us sick. Their fondness for Italian skies gave us a distaste for a while for every thing that savoured of Florence or Naples. Their tragedies sent us to
sleep, and their romantic tales, whether in verse or prose, fully convinced us, with Burke, that the age of chivalry was indeed no
It is pleasant to reflect, that we have assisted, by our labours and opinions, to accelerate the extinction of all this gossamer tribe of literati, or at least that we have lived to witness their disappeare ance, one by one, from the temple into which they intruded. Their buzz is silenced. Their painted wings have lost all their pretty colour. Even their slender skeletons are gone, utterly perished. But, unhappily, as the maid whose duty it is to banish from our mansions every mischief-working insect, being about to sit down with a light heart and a merry song on her lip, imagining her work to be finished, happens sometimes to be startled from her quietude by the sudden revival of a moth or a spider, whose death she hoped she had sufficiently compassed, so do we feel surprised at the reappearance before us of Charles Lamb! Poor fellow, he looks more like a ghost than any thing human or divine. His verses partake of the same character. They exhibit the fleeting, shadowy reflections of thoughts that, in their best days, were blessed with a very slender portion of substance. They are gleaned from the albums of rural damsels, who, hearing that Charles Lamb was an author! chose to have a morceau from his classic pen, to shew to their sires and lovers; from newspapers, magazines, annuals, and other periodicals, which, requiring now and then a page or two in the form of verse, were obliged to content themselves with the contributions of Charles Lamb.
At one time, from the causes which we have stated, and from the assenting and thoughtless smiles of one or two celebrated men, this individual gained a reputation for quaint wit. So quaint, indeed, does it appear to have been, that it has not kept. It has grown so musty, that it is no longer fit for use; the days of its raciness, if ever it had any, are past away, never to return. Yet relying upon the memory of former puffs, he has had the courage to believe that the republication of such worthless trifles as he has gathered together in this volume, could set up and establish in the highest rank of the trade a new bookseller. Lord Byron's poems were instrumental in assisting Mr. Murray to the eminent station which he now so deservedly maintains. Charles Lamb, forsooth, thinks that such effusions as the Album Verses,' will be equally serviceable to Mr. Moxon! That Mr. Moxon may prosper and flourish, and that every other man who chooses an honourable path of industry may win the meed of success, is a sentiment which we would drink in a bumper with the greatest delight. But that Mr. Moxon, or any other man, can bring honour, or any thing but ridicule on his exertions by appending his name to such a volume as this, however neatly printed, is a proposition which we must take the liberty to deny. What can be said of the following lines, addressed to Barry Cornwall, a congenial spirit, in the way of praise,
or even of endurance? They want sense, energy, diction, every thing in short that constitutes poetry.
• Let hate, or grosser heats, their foulness mask
Under the vizor of a borrowed name;
And heavenly tunes piped through an alien flute.'--p. 49. Certes Mr. Charles Lamb thinks not meanly of his poetic fame, if he imagines that such baby's food as this, such mere milk and water, has the slightest chance of raising a reputation for Mr. Moxon, as publisher. Let us see if we cannot find something better. Here is an immortal stanza written in the Album of Miss
Such goodness in your face doth shine,
Can only bless it!'-p. 5. There was a time perhaps when such a verse as this would have been praised, and that loudly too.
Nor would Miss Daubeny, who we hope has long since quitted her leading strings, have been then much ashamed of the following tribute to her beauty.
Some poets by poetic law
In praise of-pretty Daubeny.'--p. 9. Delicious to the ear of Miss Jane Towers, was, no doubt, the address of a poet who had never chanced to see her fair face :
* Thy looks, tones, gesture, manners, and what not,
Mr. Lamb has recorded in his own album some traces of remorse, for having wasted, during his poetic life, so many reams of paper. The lines expressive of his penitence put us in mind of those verses in which Homer and Virgil are supposed to have suited the sound to the sense. They are specimens of the average style of his effusions. Our only regret is that the book was not only clasped but locked, however injurious the consequences might have been to poor Moxon.
· Disjointed numbers; sense unknit;
Go, shut the leaves, and clasp the book.'--p. 14. Should this volume by any chance make its escape to America, those critics who have any acquaintance with the recent history of our literature, and they are all far from being indifferent to its purity and soundness, will find here abundant materials for ridicule. Well may they declaim on the degeneracy of poetry in England, when they read the trash which is sent in the shape of verse, by one of our professed poets to another-that is, by Charles Lamb to Bernard Barton-with that most valuable of all presents, a coloured print. Hear the dribbler !
• When last you left your Woodbridge pretty,
Like Obstinate, that perverse funny one,
In honest parable of Bunyan.'-pp. 24, 25. This may be called the Ultima Thule of bad writing. We cannot guess how by means of addition or dimunition or alteration these lines could by possibility have been worse.
In different poems of some twenty or thirty lines, we have seldom read without meeting a thought, a turn of phrase, or a tendency to musical arrangement, something to shew that the writer had at least a wish to please. But here every thing is bad. The taste of presenting a coloured print to a Quaker, is atrocious in the first place. Then mark the rhymes
see the City!
it !! funny one!
Bunyan !!! Here is a list which will form a most original addition to the next edition of the Rhyming Dictionary. Then look at the phraseology, the rhythm, the ideas! Turn them over again and again, and you will be convinced that no ballad half so execrable is sold in the streets either by the song or by the yard.
How we lament that we were not present when the fastidious eye of Samuel Rogers glanced over the note of condolence which gave the following picture of his deceased brother!
• Of our old Gentry he appeared a stem-
This man's a private loss and public too.'-p. 38. Talking of magistrates and evil doers, the transition is natural to a tread-mill, which Mr. Lamb has made the subject of a Pindaric ode!. We shall indulge the reader with a stanza or two of this composition, which, we may truly assert, has no rival in our language.
Incompetent my song to raise