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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 2.
What he believed in, improbable as it was to mere terrestrial visions, you at once conceived to be quite possible,—­to be true.  The sceptical idiots of the play pretend to give him a phial nearly full of water.  He is assured that this contains Cleopatra’s tear.  Well; who can disprove it?  Munden evidently recognised it.  “What a large tear!” he exclaimed.  Then they place in his hands a druidical harp, which to vulgar eyes might resemble a modern gridiron.  He touches the chords gently:  “pipes to the spirit ditties of no tone;” and you imagine AEolian strains.  At last, William Tell’s cap is produced.  The people who affect to cheat him, apparently cut the rim from a modern hat, and place the scull-cap in his hands; and then begins the almost finest piece of acting that I ever witnessed.  Munden accepts the accredited cap of Tell, with confusion and reverence.  He places it slowly and solemnly on his head, growing taller in the act of crowning himself.  Soon he swells into the heroic size; a great archer; and enters upon his dreadful task.  He weighs the arrow carefully; he tries the tension of the bow, the elasticity of the string; and finally, after a most deliberate aim, he permits the arrow to fly, and looks forward at the same time with intense anxiety.  You hear the twang, you see the hero’s knitted forehead, his eagerness; you tremble;—­at last you mark his calmer brow, his relaxing smile, and are satisfied that the son is saved!—­It is difficult to paint in words this extraordinary performance, which I have several times seen; but you feel that it is transcendent.  You think of Sagittarius, in the broad circle of the Zodiac; you recollect that archery is as old as Genesis; you are reminded that Ishmael, the son of Hagar, wandered about the Judaean deserts and became an archer.

Page 169, line 16. Edwin.  This would probably be John Edwin the Elder (1749-1790).  But John Edwin the Younger (1768-1805) might have been meant.  He was well known in Nipperkin, one of Munden’s parts.

Page 169, line 21. Farley...Knight...Liston.  Charles Farley (1771-1859), mainly known as the deviser of Covent Garden pantomimes; Edward Knight (1774-1826), an eccentric little comedian; John Listen (1776?-1846), whose mock biography Lamb wrote (see Vol.  I.).

Page 169, line 7 from foot. Sir Christopher Curry...Old Dornton.  Sir Christopher in “Inkle and Yarico,” by the younger Colman; Old Dornton in Holcroft’s “Road to Ruin.”

Page 170, line 6. The Cobbler of Preston.  A play, founded on “The Taming of the Shrew,” by Charles Johnson, written in 1716.

THE LAST ESSAYS OF ELIA

Page 171.  PREFACE.

London Magazine, January, 1823, where it was entitled “A Character of the late Elia.  By a Friend.”  Signed Phil-Elia.  Lamb did not reprint it for ten years, and then with certain omissions.

In the London Magazine the “Character” began thus:—­

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