The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 2.
it only by an inference; till the restored light, coming in aid of the olfactories, reveals to both senses the full aroma.  Then how he redoubles his puffs! how he burnishes!—­There is absolutely no such thing as reading, but by a candle.  We have tried the affectation of a book at noon-day in gardens, and in sultry arbours; but it was labour thrown away.  Those gay motes in the beam come about you, hovering and teazing, like so many coquets, that will have you all to their self, and are jealous of your abstractions.  By the midnight taper, the writer digests his meditations.  By the same light, we must approach to their perusal, if we would catch the flame, the odour.  It is a mockery, all that is reported of the influential Phoebus.  No true poem ever owed its birth to the sun’s light.  They are abstracted works—­

  “Things that were born, when none but the still night,
  And his dumb candle, saw his pinching throes.”

Marry, daylight—­daylight might furnish the images, the crude material; but for the fine shapings, the true turning and filing (as mine author hath it), they must be content to hold their inspiration of the candle.  The mild internal light, that reveals them, like fires on the domestic hearth, goes out in the sunshine.  Night and silence call out the starry fancies, Milton’s Morning Hymn on Paradise, we would hold a good wager, was penned at midnight; and Taylor’s richer description of a sun-rise smells decidedly of the taper.  Even ourself, in these our humbler lucubrations, tune our best measured cadences (Prose has her cadences) not unfrequently to the charm of the drowsier watchman, “blessing the doors;” or the wild sweep of winds at midnight.  Even now a loftier speculation than we have yet attempted, courts our endeavours.  We would indite something about the Solar System.—­Betty, bring the candles.

XVI.—­THAT A SULKY TEMPER IS A MISFORTUNE

We grant that it is, and a very serious one—­to a man’s friends, and to all that have to do with him; but whether the condition of the man himself is so much to be deplored, may admit of a question.  We can speak a little to it, being ourself but lately recovered—­we whisper it in confidence, reader—­out of a long and desperate fit of the sullens.  Was the cure a blessing?  The conviction which wrought it, came too clearly to leave a scruple of the fanciful injuries—­for they were mere fancies—­which had provoked the humour.  But the humour itself was too self-pleasing, while it lasted—­we know how bare we lay ourself in the confession—­to be abandoned all at once with the grounds of it.  We still brood over wrongs which we know to have been imaginary; and for our old acquaintance, N——­, whom we find to have been a truer friend than we took him for, we substitute some phantom—­a Caius or a Titius—­as like him as we dare to form it, to wreak our yet unsatisfied resentments on.  It is mortifying to fall at once from the pinnacle

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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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