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and Co. The task of selection is usually a thankless one. It involves of necessity omission and frequently curtailment. It is annoying to look in vain for some favourite passage, and your annoyance prompts the criticism that a really sound judgment would have made room for what you miss. We lodge no complaint against Mr. Ireland. Like a wise man, he has allowed to himself ample space, and he has compiled a volume of 510 closely though well-printed pages, which has only to be read in order to make the reader well acquainted with an author whom not to know is a severe mental deprivation.
Mr. Ireland's book is a library in itself, and a marvellous tribute to the genius of his author. It seems almost incredible that one man should have said so many good things. It is true he does not go very deep as a critic, he does not see into the soul of the matter as Lamb and Coleridge occasionally do but he holds you very tighthe grasps the subject, he enjoys it himself and makes you do so. Perhaps he does say too many good things. His sparkling sentences follow so quickly one upon another that the reader's appreciation soon becomes a breathless appreciation. There is something almost uncanny in such sustained cleverness. This impression, however, must not be allowed to remain as a final impression. In Hazlitt the reader will find trains of sober thought pursued with deep feeling and melancholy. Turn to the essays, On Living to One's Self, On Going a Journey, On the Feeling of Immortality in Youth, and read them over again. When you have done so you will be indisposed to consider
their author as a mere sayer of good things. He was much more than that. One smiles when, on reading the first Lord Lytton's Thoughts on the Genius of Hazlitt, the author of Eugene Aram is found declaring that Hazlitt "had a keen sense of the Beautiful and the Subtle; and what is more, he was deeply imbued with sympathies for the Humane"; but when Lord Lytton proceeds, "Posterity will do him justice," we cease to smile, and handling Mr. Ireland's book, observe with deep satisfaction, "It has."
R. WALTER BAGEHOT preferred Hazlitt to Lamb, reckoning the former much the greater writer. The preferences of such a man as Bagehot are not to be lightly disregarded, least of all when their sincerity is vouched for, as in the present case, by half a hundred quotations from the favoured author. Certainly no writer repays a literary man's devotion better than Hazlitt, of whose twenty seldom-read volumes hardly a page but glitters with quotable matter; the true ore, to be had for the cost of cartage. You may live like a gentleman for a twelvemonth on Hazlitt's ideas. Opinions, no doubt, differ as to how many quotations a writer is entitled to, but, for my part, I like to see an author leap-frog into his subject over the back of a brother.
I do not remember whether Bagehot has anywhere given his reasons for his preference-the open avowal whereof drove Crabb Robinson wellnigh distracted; and it is always rash to find reasons for a faith you do not share; but probably they partook of the nature of a complaint that Elia's treatment of men and things (meaning by things, books) is often fantastical, unreal, even a shade insincere; whilst Hazlitt always at least aims at
The Works of Charles Lamb. tion, by the Rev. Alfred Ainger.
Edited, with notes and introduc-
the centre, whether he hits it or not. Lamb dances round a subject; Hazlitt grapples with it. So far as Hazlitt is concerned, doubtless this is so; his literary method seems to realise the agreeable aspiration of Mr. Browning's Italian in England: I would grasp Metternich until
I felt his red wet throat distil
In blood thro' these two hands.
Hazlitt is always grasping some Metternich. He said himself that Lamb's talk was like snap-dragon, and his own "not very much unlike a game of nine-pins." Lamb, writing to him on one occasion about his son, wishes the little fellow a "smoother head of hair and somewhat of a better temper than his father"; and the pleasant words seem to call back from the past the stormy figure of the man who loved art, literature, and the drama with a consuming passion, who has described books and plays, authors and actors, with a fiery enthusiasm and reality quite unsurpassable, and who yet, neither living nor dead, has received his due meed of praise. Men still continue to hold aloof from Hazlitt, his shaggy head and fierce scowling temper still seem to terrorise, and his very books, telling us though they do about all things most delightful -poems, pictures, and the cheerful playhousefrown upon us from their upper shelf. From this it appears that would a genius ensure for himself immortality, he must brush his hair and keep his temper; but alas! how seldom can he be persuaded to do either. Charles Lamb did both; and the years as they roll do but swell the rich revenues of his praise.
Lamb's popularity shows no sign of waning.
Even that most extraordinary compound, the rising generation of readers, whose taste in literature is as erratic as it is pronounced; who have never heard of James Thomson who sang The Seasons (including the pleasant episode of Musidora bathing), but understand by any reference to that name only the striking author of The City of Dreadful Night; even these wayward folk-the dogs of whose criticism, not yet full grown, will, when let loose, as some day they must be, cry "havoc " amongst established reputations-read their Lamb, letters as well as essays, with laughter and with love.
If it be really seriously urged against Lamb as an author that he is fantastical and artistically artificial, it must be owned he is so. His humour, exquisite as it is, is modish. It may not be for all markets. How it affected the Scottish Thersites we know only too well,-that dour spirit required more potent draughts to make him forget his misery and laugh. It took Swift or Smollett to move his mirth, which was always, three parts of it, derision. Lamb's elaborateness, what he himself calls his affected array of antique modes and phrases, is sometimes overlooked in these strange days, when it is thought better to read about an author than to read him. To read aloud The Praise of Chimney Sweepers without stumbling, or halting, not to say mispronouncing, and to set in motion every one of its carefully-swung sentences, is a very pretty feat in elocution, for there is not what can be called a natural sentence in it from beginning to end. Many people have not patience for this sort of thing; they like to laugh and move