This is the “exquisite simile” on page 59, from “A Grandsire’s Tale":—
some might deem her pensive, if not sad,
Yet those who knew her better, best could tell
How calmly happy, and how meekly glad
Her quiet heart in its own depths did dwell:
Like to the waters of some crystal well,
In which the stars of heaven at noon are seen.
Fancy might deem on her young spirit fell
Glimpses of light more glorious and serene
Than that of life’s brief day, so heavenly was her mien.
This was the “downright good sonnet":—
TO A GRANDMOTHER
“Old age is dark and unlovely.”—Ossian.
O say not so! A bright
old age is thine;
Calm as the gentle light of summer eves,
Ere twilight dim her dusky mantle weaves;
Because to thee is given, in strength’s decline,
A heart that does not thanklessly repine
At aught of which the hand of God bereaves,
Yet all He sends with gratitude receives;—
May such a quiet, thankful close be mine.
And hence thy fire-side chair appears to me
A peaceful throne—which thou wert form’d to fill;
Thy children—ministers, who do thy will;
And those grand-children, sporting round thy knee,
Thy little subjects, looking up to thee,
As one who claims their fond allegiance still.
And these are the lines at the foot of page 153 in a poem addressed to a child seven years old:—
is a holy, blest companionship
In the sweet intercourse thus held with those
Whose tear and smile are guileless; from whose lip
The simple dictate of the heart yet flows;—
Though even in the yet unfolded rose
The worm may lurk, and sin blight blooming youth,
The light born with us long so brightly glows,
That childhood’s first deceits seem almost truth,
To life’s cold after lie, selfish, and void of ruth.
Van Balen was the painter of the picture of the “Madonna and Child” which Mrs. FitzGerald (Edward FitzGerald’s mother) had given to Barton and for which he expressed his thanks in a poem.
The artist who painted Lamb recently was Henry Meyer (1782?-1847), the portrait being that which serves as frontispiece to this volume. I give in my large edition a reproduction of “The Young Catechist,” which Meyer also engraved, with Lamb’s verses attached. In 1910 I saw the original in a picture shop in the Charing Cross Road, now removed.]
CHARLES LAMB TO WILLIAM HONE
[No date. End of May, 1827.]
Dear H. in the forthcoming “New Monthly” are to be verses of mine on a Picture about Angels. Translate em to the Table-book. I am off for Enfield.