The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 408 pages of information about The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4.
the quick eye of Hogarth must have struck off in the very infancy of the rage for sacred oratorios in this country, while “Music yet was young;” when we have done smiling at the deafening distortions, which these tearers of devotion to rags and tatters, these takers of heaven by storm, in their boisterous mimicry of the occupation of angels, are making,—­what unkindly impression is left behind, or what more of harsh or contemptuous feeling, than when we quietly leave Uncle Toby and Mr. Shandy riding their hobby-horses about the room?  The conceited, long-backed Sign-painter, that with all the self-applause of a Raphael or Correggio, (the twist of body which his conceit has thrown him into has something of the Correggiesque in it,) is contemplating the picture of a bottle, which he is drawing from an actual bottle that hangs beside him, in the print of Beer Street,—­while we smile at the enormity of the self-delusion, can we help loving the good-humor and self-complacency of the fellow? would we willingly wake him from his dream?

I say not that all the ridiculous subjects of Hogarth have, necessarily, something in them to make us like them; some are indifferent to us, some in their natures repulsive, and only made interesting by the wonderful skill and truth to nature in the painter; but I contend that there is in most of them that sprinkling of the better nature, which, like holy water, chases away and disperses the contagion of the bad.  They have this in them, besides, that they bring us acquainted with the every-day human face,—­they give us skill to detect those gradations of sense and virtue (which escape the careless or fastidious observer) in the countenances of the world about us; and prevent that disgust at common life, that taedium quotidianarum formarum, which an unrestricted passion for ideal forms and beauties is in danger of producing.  In this, as in many other things, they are analogous to the best novels of Smollett or Fielding.

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The poems of G. Wither are distinguished by a hearty homeliness of manner, and a plain moral speaking.  He seems to have passed his life in one continued act of an innocent self-pleasing.  That which he calls his Motto is a continued self-eulogy of two thousand lines, yet we read it to the end without any feeling of distaste, almost without a consciousness that we have been listening all the while to a man praising himself.  There are none of the cold particles in it, the hardness and self-ends, which render vanity and egotism hateful.  He seems to be praising another person, under the mask of self:  or rather, we feel that it was indifferent to him where he found the virtue which he celebrates; whether another’s bosom or his own were its chosen receptacle.  His poems are full, and this in particular is one downright confession, of a generous self-seeking.  But by self he sometimes means a great deal,—­his friends, his principles, his country, the human race.

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The Works of Charles Lamb in Four Volumes, Volume 4 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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