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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 real and present good, and 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 endeavored 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 may 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 popu. lar institution, then a laborious clerk, and at length a - lean annuitant." Public life, with its various mental in. citements,--foreign travel, with its thousand fertilizing 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 ideal life! When outward influences and social restrictions encroached upon this, his great end,--the drama,
his favorite authors, a work of art, or a musing hour, were proved restoratives. He did not gratify his foudness 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 Coloseum 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 dream-children, as lovely as cherubs, so. laced 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 be. neath 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 forever, the haunts accustomed to his presence. No more will Elia indite quaint reminiscences and bumorous descriptions for our pleasure ; no more will 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 andt -adiate it, till life's cold pathway is warm with the sunshine of the soul.