Charles Lamb As An Autobiographical Essayist
Dream Children Poem By Charles Lamb as an Essayist
Charles Lamb a well-known literary figure in the nineteenth century is chiefly remembered for his “Elia” essays, work famous for his wit and ironic treatment of everyday subjects. Because of his nostalgia and humorous idiosyncrasies, his works were conspicuously known throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century. He brought a new kind of warmth to English prose. His sentences can be intense, they can sneer, they can scream, but they always have a kind of rounded glow, like a welcoming, slightly melancholy fireplace. Writing in that genre which has been called “the personal essay,” again and again Lamb made literary delightfulness of the things that tormented him most—including his resentments and drunkenness—and his sentences are usually beautiful.
Lamb’s contribution to the English essay also lies in his changing the general tone from formality to familiarity. This change was to be accepted by all the essayists to follow. Alone or with his sister Mary (when she wasn’t violently insane), he wrote such works as Tales from Shakespeare, The Adventures of Ulysses, Poetry for Children, The Works of Charles Lamb, The Essays of Elia and The Last Essays of Elia.
There is no didacticism in his essays. As we observe in the works of former essayists, we are aware of a well-marked distance between the writer and ourselves. Bacon and Addison perch themselves, as it were, on a pedestal, and cast pearls before the readers standing below. In Cowley, the distance between the reader and writer narrows down-but it is there still. It was left for Lamb to abolish this distance altogether. He often addresses the reader (“dear reader”) as if he were addressing a bosom friend. He makes nonsense of the proverbial English insularity and “talks” to the readers as “a friend and man” (as Thackeray said he did in his novels). This note of intimacy is quite pleasing, for Lamb is the best of friends.
He is a friend, and not a teacher. Lamb shed once and for all the didactic approach which characterises the work of most essayists before him. Bacon called his essays “counsels civil and moral.” His didacticism is too palpable to need a comment. Cowley was somewhat less didactic, but early in the eighteenth century Steele and Addison-the founders of the periodical essay-set in their papers the moralistic, mentor-like tone for all the periodical essayists to come. Even such “a rake among scholars and a scholar among rakes” as Steele arrogated to himself the air of a teacher and reformer. This didactic tendency reached almost its culmination in Dr. Johnson who in theIdler and Rambler papers gave ponderous sermons rather than what may be called essays. Lamb is too modest to pretend to proffer moral counsels. He never argues, dictates, or coerces. We do not find any “philosophy of life” in his essays, though there are some personal views and opinions flung about here and there not for examination and adoption, but just to serve as so many ventilators to let us have a peep into his mind. “Lamb”, says Cazamian, “is not a moralist nor a psychologist, his object is not research, analysis, or confession; he is, above all, an artist. He has no aim save the reader’s pleasure, and his own.” But though Lamb is not a downright pedagogue, he is yet full of sound wisdom which he hides under a cloak of frivolity and tolerant good nature. He sometimes looks like the Fool in King Lear whose weird and funny words are impregnated with a hard core of surprising sanity. As a critic avers,
“though Lamb frequently donned the cap and bells, he was more than ajester; even his jokes had kernels of wisdom.”
In his “Character of the Late Elia” in which he himself gives a character-sketch of the supposedly dead Elia, he truly observes: “He would interrupt the gravest discussion with some light jest; and yet, perhaps not quite irrelevant in ears that could understand it.”
The Rambling Nature of His Essays and His Lightness of Touch:
The rambling nature of his essays and his lightness of touch are some other distinguishing features of Lamb as an essayist. He never bothers about keeping to the point. Too often do we find him flying off at a tangent and ending at a point which we could never have foreseen. Every road with him seems to lead to the world’s end. We often reproach Bacon for the “dispersed” nature of his “meditations”, but Lamb beats everybody in his monstrous discursiveness. To consider some examples, first take up his essay “The Old and the New School-master.” In this essay which apparently is written for comparing the old and new schoolmaster, the first two pages or thereabouts contain a very humorous and exaggerated description of the author’s own ignorance. Now, we may ask, what has Lamb’s ignorance to do with the subject in hand? Then, the greater part of the essay “Oxford in the Vacation” is devoted to the description of his friend Dyer. Lamb’s essays are seldom artistic, well-patterned wholes. They have no beginning, middle and end. Lamb himself described his essays as “a sort of unlicked incondite things.” However, what these essays lose in artistic design they gain in the touch of spontaneity. This is what lends them what is called “the lyrical quality.”
Lamb’sHumour, Pathos, and Humanity:
Lamb’s humour, humanity, and the sense of pathos are all his own; and it is mainly these qualities which differentiate his essays from those of his contemporaries. His essays are rich alike in wit, humour, and fun. Hallward and Hill observe in the Introduction to their edition of the Essavs of Elia :
“The terms Wit.Humour and Fun are often confused but they are really different in meaning. The first is based on intellect, the second on insight and sympathy, the third on vigour and freshness of mind and body. Lamb’s writings show all the three qualities, but what most distinguishes him is Humour, for his sympathy is ever strong and active.”
Humourin Lamb’s essays constitutes very like an atmosphere “with linked sweetness long drawn out.” Its Protean shapes range from frivolous puns, impish attempts at mystification, grotesque buffoonery, and Rabelaisian verbosity (see, for example, the description of a “poor relation”) to the subtlest ironical stroke which pierces down to the very heart of life. J. B. Priestley observes in English Humour: “English humour at its deepest and tenderest seems in him [Lamb] incarnate. He did not merely create it, he lived in it. His humour is not an idle thing, but the white flower, plucked from a most dangerous nettle.” What particularly distinguishes Lamb’s humour is its close alliance with pathos. While laughing he is always aware of the tragedy of life-not only his life, but life in general. That is why he often laughs through his tears. Witness his treatment of the hard life of chimney sweepers and Christ’s Hospital boys. The descriptions are touching enough, but Lamb’s treatment provides us with a humorous medium of perception rich in prismatic effects, which bathes the tragedy of actual life in the iridescence of mellow comedy. The total effect is very complex, and strikes our sensibility in a bizarre way, puzzling us as to what is comic and what is tragic.
Style Of Lamb's :
A word, lastly, about Lamb’s peculiar style which is all his own and yet not his, as he is a tremendous borrower. He was extremely influenced by some “old-world” writers like Fuller and Sir Thomas Browne. It is natural, then, that his style is archaic. His sentences are long and rambling, after the seventeenth-century fashion. He uses words many of which are obsolescent, if not obsolete. But though he “struts in borrowed plumes”, these “borrowed plumes” seem to be all his own. Well does a critic say:
“The blossoms are culled from other mens gardens, but their blending is all Lamb’s own.”
Passing through Lamb’s imagination they become something fresh and individual. His style is a mixture certainly of many styles, but a chemical not a mechanical mixture.” His inspiration from old writers gives his style a romantic colouring which is certainly intensified by his vigorous imagination. Very like Wordsworth he throws a fanciful veil on the common objects of life and converts them into interesting and “romantic” shapes. His peculiar style is thus an asset in the process of “romanticising” everyday affairs and objects which otherwise would strike one with a strong feeling of ennui. He is certainly a romantic essayist. What is more, he is a poet.
What strikes one particularly about Lamb as an essayist is his persistent readiness to reveal his everything to the reader. The evolution of the essay from Bacon to Lamb lies primarily in its shift from
(i) Objectivity to subjectivity, and(ii) From formality to familiarity.
Of all the essayists it is perhaps Lamb who is the most autobiographic. His own life is for him “such stuff as essays are made on.” He could easily say what Montaigne had said before him-
”I myself am the subject of my book.”
The change from objectivity to subjectivity in the English essay was, by and large, initiated by Abraham Cowley who wrote such essays as the one entitled. “Of Myself.” Lamb with other romantic essayists completed this change.
His essays are, as it were, so many bits of autobiography by piecing which together we can arrive at a pretty authentic picture of his life, both external and internal. It is really impossible to think of an essayist who is more personal than Lamb. His essays reveal him fully-in all his whims, prejudices, past associations, and experiences. “Night Fears” shows us Lamb as a timid, superstitious boy. “Christ’s Hospital” reveals his unpalatable experiences as a schoolboy. We are introduced to the various members of his family in numerous essays like “My Relations’ “The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple,” and “Poor Relations.” We read of the days of his adolescence in “Mackery End in Hertfordshire.” His tenderness towards his sister Mary is revealed by “Mrs. Battle’s Opinions on Whist.” His professional life is recalled in “The South-Sea House” and “The, Superannuated Man.” His sentimental memories full of pathos find expression in “Dream Children.” His prejudices come to the fore in “Imperfect Sympathies” and “The Confessions of a Drunkard.” His gourmandise finds a humoursutterence in “A Dissertation upon Roast Pig,” “Grace before Meat,” and elsewhere. What else is left then?
“The writer’s own character is always there, flaunted before the reader, but it is carefully prepared and controlled before it is exhibited.”
Very little, except an indulgence in self-pity at the stark tragedy of his life. Nowhere does he seem to be shedding tears at the fits of madness to which his siter Mary Bridget of the essays) was often subject and in one of which she knifed his mother to death. The frustration of his erotic career (Lamb remained in a state of lifelong bachelorhood imposed by himself.to enable him to nurse his demented sister), however, is touched upon here and there. In “Dream Children,” for instance, his unfruitful attachment with Ann Simmons is referred to. She got married and her children had to “call Bartrum father.” Lamb is engaged in a reverie about “his children” who would have possibly been born had he been married to Alice W-n (Ann Simmons). When the reverie is gone this is what he finds: “…and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor arm-chair where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget [his sister Mary] unchanged by my side…but John L (his brother John Lamb) was gone for ever.” How touching!
Thus his egotism is born of a sense of humility rather than hauteur. Samuel C. Chew observes:
“Like all the romantics he is self-revelatory, but there is nothing in him of the ‘egotistical-sublime.’ Experience had made him too clear-sighted to take any individual, least of all himself, too seriously. The admissions of his own weaknesses, follies, and prejudices are so many humorous warnings to his readers.”
Dream Children: A ReverieEssays of Elia
Most memorable of Lamb's works are the essays which he contributed for many years to the London magazines, and which he collected under the titles Essays of Elia (1823) and Last Essays of Elia (1830). [Footnote: The name "Elia" (pronounced ee'-li-ä) was a pseudonym, taken from an old Italian clerk (Ellia) in the South Sea House. When "Elia" appears in the Essays he is Charles Lamb himself; "Cousin Bridget" is sister Mary, and "John Elia" is a brother. The last-named was a selfish kind of person, who seems to have lived for himself, letting Charles take all the care of the family.]
In "dream children" Lamb mingles the pathos with humor which can easily be found by the readers. He describes the death of his brother John Lamb that is full of pathos, on the other hand, he tells his readers about his childhood days with his grandmother. He wanders here and there, he all discusses in the humorous way.Apparently, Alice was Ann Simmons, who Lamb loved for several years. Sadly for Lamb, Simmons eventually married another man.
In his essay Dream Children: A Reverie Lamb talks of personal sorrows and joys. He gives expressions to his unfulfilled longings and desires. He readily enters into the world of fantasy and pops up stories in front of his dream children. He relates his childhood days, of Mrs. Field, his grandmother and John Lamb, his brother. He describes how fun he had at the great house and orchard in Norfolk. Of his relations he gives us full and living pictures – his brother John is James Elia of My Relations, but here is John L-, so handsome and spirited youth, and a ‘king’. John was brave, handsome and won admiration from everybody Charles’ grandmother Mrs. Field is the other living picture. She was a good natured and religions – minded lady of respectable personality. Narrator’s sweet heart Alice Winterton is the other shadowed reality. The Dream Children, Alice and John are mere bubbles of fancy. Thus Lamb’s nostalgic memory transports us back to those good old days of great grandmother Field. But even in those romantic nostalgia the hard realities of life does not miss our eyes. Death, separation and suffering inject us deep-rooted pathos in our heart. Whereas Mrs. Field died of cancer, John Lamb died in early age. Ann Simmons has been a tale of unrequited love story of Charles Lamb. Notably the children are millions of ages distant of oblivion and Charles is not a married man but a bachelor having a reverie.
In his actual life Lamb courted Ann Simmons but could not marry her, he wanted to have children but could not have any. Thus he strikes a very pathetic note towards the end of his essay when he puts the following word into the months of his imaginary children, “we are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all … We are nothing, less than nothing, dreams. We are only what might have been”. Alice is here no other that Ann Simmons the girl Lamb wanted to marry, but failed to marry her. In fact, the subtitle of the essay – ‘A Reverie’ which literally means a daydream or a fantasy – prepares us for the pathos of the return to reality although the essay begins on a deceptively realistic note.
Finding the answers in Charles Lamb's Dream Children: A Reverie
1.Why is the essay entitled “Dream Children”?
Ans: Charles Lamb entitled the essay “Dream Children” because he never married and naturally never became the father of any children. The children he speaks of in the essay were actually the creations of his imagination or fancy.
2. Who was Field? How does Lamb present her before his dream children?
Ans: Field, pseudonym for the actual person, was Lamb’s grandmother. Lamb presents her as an ideal grandmother in an imaginary and inflated way before his “dream children”—she was extremely pious, fearless and compassionate person besides being the best dancer of the area in her youth.
3. Why is the essay entitled “A Reverie”?
Ans: The essay is subtitled as a ‘reverie’ because Lamb never married and so he never had children. In the essay he created an imaginary picture of a happy conjugal life—a picture which finally dissolves into nothing as he comes back to reality.
4. How does Lamb present his brother John L—?
Ans: Lamb’s elder brother, John L—in his youth was a handsome, high-spirited, strong and fearless person. He loved Lamb very much. But subsequently in his old age he became lame-footed and spent the rest of his life in utter hopelessness, irritation and pain.
5. Whom does Lamb refer to as “faithful Bridget” by side?
Ans: Lamb had a sister, Mary Lamb, who did not marry since she had attacks of insanity. She has been referred to here as “faithful Bridget” because she never married and was Lamb’s only companion in his life. At the sudden breakdown of his reverie, he finds her seated by his side.
6. What, according to you, is the most striking feature of the essay and why?
Ans: The chief characteristic feature of the essay is the author’s mingling of pathos and humour. Lamb begins the essay in somewhat deceptive fashion, describing the incidents, full of humour. But gradually he reduces the tone towards the end describing the tragedies of his personal life.
7. How does Lamb present the autobiographical elements in the essay?Or, Why is the essay called a personal essay?Or, What type of essay is Dream Children?
Ans: Dream Children is a personal essay. Lamb presents the characters and incidents from his own life—the sketches of his grandmother, Field, his brother—John Lamb, his sister—Mary Lamb, his tragic love-affairs with Ann Simmons. But Lamb is always playing with facts and fictions and transforms the real into the literary.
8. How does Lamb show his knowledge of child psychology?
Ans: It is surprising that without ever having children Lamb had acute sense of how children react to the happenings in the world of the adults. By deceptively referring to the meticulous reactions of his dream children, he succeeds in catching the reader immediately. The aesthetic impact of the essay becomes more effective for this reason.
9. “...till the old marble heads would seem to be live again...to be turned into marble with them”—Where does the expression occur? Explain the context.
Ans: Lamb told his “dream children” that in his boyhood he would enjoy rambling in and around the great country house in Norfolk. He would gaze at the twelve marble busts of Caesars in such an intensely meditative way that it seemed to him after some time that those were coming back to life again, or that he would be himself transformed into marble with them.
10. Where does the expression “busy-idle diversion” occur? What does the author mean by this?
Ans: Lamb told his “dream children” that in his boyhood he would enjoy rambling in and around the great country house in Norfolk more than the sweet fruits of the orchard. He would remain busy with this though he had no work to do.
11. “When he died though he had not been...died great while ago”orWho is referred to as ‘he’? Why is he spoken of?
Ans: Lamb loved his brother John L— very much. But very shortly after his death it seemed to him that death had created such an immeasurable vacuum in his life that it made impossible for him to comprehend the significance of the difference between life and death.
12. “...such a distance there is betwixt life and death”—Explain the significance of the line in light of the context.
Ans: the immediate absence of his brother John Lamb created by his death forced Lamb to feel the gulf the difference between life and death. He understood that death created a permanent absence as the dead cannot be restored to life. Again, death is unknowable and Lamb was forced to reflect on his brother’s absence in this way.
13. “...the soul of first Alice looked out at her eyes with such reality of re-presentment that I came in doubt”—Who was Alice? What does the word ‘re-presentment’ mean here?
Ans: In the course of his day-dreaming when Lamb looked at his dream-daughter, her physical resemblance reminded him of his dream-girl Alice W—n, a fictitious name for Ann Simmons who did reciprocate his love.
14. “But John L—(or James Elia) was gone forever”—Who was James Elia? Why does the author say this?
Ans: At the end of his day-dreaming Lamb coming back to reality finds his sister (Bridget) Mary Lamb by his side; but he realizes and remembers that his brother James Elia or John Lamb had died and would no more be with them. So he laments his loss thus.
15. “Here Alice put out one of her dear mother’s looks, too tender to be called upbraiding”—What does the word ‘braiding’ mean here? What makes Alice react thus?
Ans: While describing the great country house in Norfolk, lamb tells his “dream children” that the chimney piece of the great hall was decorated by the curving of the story of Robin Redbreasts. At the information that a foolish person pulled it down, Alice’s countenance changed, which suggested that it should not have been done. The word ‘braiding’ here means castigation or censure.
16. How does Lamb record Alice’s reactions to his story-telling?
Ans: While listening to Lamb’s personal tale, Alice reacts firs by spreading her hands when Lamb says how good, religious and graceful person Field had been. Alice reacts to it either in great astonishment or putting up some pious gesture. She also cries out When Lamb talks about his elder brother’s pain and death.
17. How does Lamb record John’s reactions to his story-telling?
Ans: At the information of the great house being stripped off its ornaments John smiled, which suggested the foolishness of the work. He was trying to look brave and impress upon his father that he would not have been afraid of the ghosts like his father. At the end of the story, when Lamb was talking of his elder brother’s pain and death, John, like Alice, began to cry.
Summary Of Dream Children Poem By Charles Lamb as an Essayist
The children of James Elia, John and Alice, asked him to tell them about his grandmother-their great grandmother- Mrs. Field who used to live in a great mansion in Norfolk. The house belonged to a rich nobleman who lived in another new house. Grandmother Field was the keeper of the house and she looked after the house with great care as though it was her own. The tragic incident of the two children and their cruel uncle had taken place in the house. The children had come to know the story from the ballad of ‘The Children in the wood’. The story was carved in wood upon the chimney piece. But a foolish rich person later pulled down the wooden chimney and put a chimney of marble. The new chimney piece had no story on it. Alice was very unhappy that the rich man had pulled down the chimney piece with the story. She looked upbraiding and her anger was like her mother’s.
When the house came to decay later, after the death of Mrs. Field the nobleman carried away the ornaments of the house and used them in his new house. The ornaments of the old house looked very awkward in the new house, just like the beautiful tombs of Westminster Abbey would look awkward if placed in someone’s drawing room. Things looked beautiful only if they are in harmony with the surroundings. John enjoyed the comparison and smiled as if he also felt it would be very awkward indeed. Grandmother Field was a very good lady. She was also very religious for she was well acquainted with ‘The Book of Psalms’ in ‘The Old Testament’ and a great portion of ‘The New Testament’ of ‘The Bible’. Alice here spread her hands as if she was not interested in the praise of a quality of the grandmother that she herself did not have. Children find it difficult to learn lessons by heart.
Grandmother Field did not fear the spirits of the two infants which haunted the house at night. So she slept alone. But Elia used to sleep with his maid as he was not so religious. John tried to look courageous but his eyes expanded in fear. When the grandmother died many people in the neighbourhood including the gentry or the aristocrats attended her funeral. She was also a good dancer when she was young. Here, Alice moved her feet unconsciously as she too was interested in dancing. Grandmother Field was tall and upright but later she was bowed down by a disease called cancer. She was good to her grandchildren. Elia in childhood used to spend his holiday there. He used to gaze upon the bust of the twelve Caesars or roam about in the mansion or in the garden. In the garden, there were fruits like nectarines, peaches, oranges and others. Elia never plucked them but rather enjoyed looking at them. Here John deposited a bunch of grapes upon the plate again. He was showing that he too was not tempted by fruits.
From all the grandchildren, Grandmother Field loved John the most. John was lively and spirited, fond of riding, hunting and outdoor activities. He was brave and handsome. He used to take James Elia upon his back out for outings as James Elia was lame footed. But James was not very considerate to him. He was sorry for it. John died later and James missed him much.
The children began to cry at the sad turn of events. They asked him to continue the story of Uncle John but to tell them about their dead mother. The father began to tell them how he had courted their mother, Alice for seven years. He was at times hopeful of winning her and at times in despair. He explained to them what coyness, difficulty and denial mean in an unmarried lady. When the father looked at Alice she looked at that time very much like her mother. Thereafter, the children began to grow fainter. They began to go away further and further till the father could hardly see them. From a great distance they seemed to say that they were not children of Alice nor of him, they were not children at all, they were only what might have been. When he woke up he found himself in an armed chair. He had fallen asleep and he had been dreaming. James Elia had vanished. On the chair was only Charles Lamb.
theme of the essay "Dream Children"
The theme of Lamb's essay is regret and loss: regret for unfulfilled joy, Unfulfilled love, lost hope, lost opportunity and lost joys of life. There are three topics at work in this essay. These are the loss of past happiness as represented by the house, with its carved mantle that a "a foolish rich person pulled it down," and great-grandmother Field and his brother John. Both great-grandmother Field and John died painful deaths while Charles lamb watched on, being then left alone without their presence, love and care: what he missed most was their presence: "I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him."
The second topic of regret and loss is his beloved Alice. Lamb courted her "for seven long years" and in the end, his suit for her love was a failure. This explains why the dream child is named Alice and this explains why he becomes confused about which Alice, younger or elder, he is really looking at:
turning to Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood there before me, or whose that bright hair was ...
This leads to the third thematic topic: the children who never were. In a surprise ending, in a dramatic (and at first bewildering) twist, we learn that the children he has been telling stories to--stories of loves and life joys he regrets losing--are air, are a figment of a dream in a bachelor's sleep. These are the children that would have been, that could have been, that might have been if Alice had granted Lamb her love and they had wed. As it is, they are but phantoms of a dream. All he really has is "the faithful Bridget [most likely his dog] unchanged by my side."
Full name of essay is dream childern-a reverie. the essay is about a dream. in the essay all characters are real except the children alice and john. from the title we can guess that its a dream and reverie also means a day dream. alice and john are children of jameselia(charles lamb). they ask their father, jameselia, to tell them about their grandmother. grandmother's name is field who has been acquainted to us by lamb as perfect women with great qualities. incidents are real from life of lamb. there is a story related to the house where grandmother field was a keeper. it was about the murder of children by their cruel uncle. alice and john came to know this story through a carved writing on a tree which was later brought down by a rich man. after the death of grandmother, house owner took away his belongings and place them in his new house where they look awkward. when grandmother was alive she use to sleep alone but elia was afraid of the souls of infants murdered by uncle as it was thought that house is haunted by the spirits of those children. elia has a brother john full of enthusiasm and zeal, who was loved by everyone specially by her grandmother. on the other hand elia's childhood was full of isolation and he remained stagnnant though out his life. his mind was working fast but bodily or pysically he was totally off and lazy. he was lame and helped by john in every possible way who used to carry him in his back. unfortunately, john also become lame but elia never helped him and after his death he realized or missing him. at the end of the essay, alice and john are crying after hearing all this. elia is looking his wife, whose name also alia, in alice face. thechildern started to become faint and say to elia or lamb that we are not your real children and alice is not your wife and our mother. lamb wakes up finds himself in armed chair and jameselia was vanished. the whole story is based on life of lamb, he was never able to married and childless died. he is also regretting and remembering moments like, about his brother, about grandmother, his childhood etc. so, whole of essay is full of melancholy and sad tone of lamb's life. (one should better study about lamb's short biography in order to understand his essays).
In Praise of Chimney Sweepers Written By Charles Lamb as an Essayist
In Praise of Chimney-Sweepers is a gentle little book, a romantic look at the children who cleaned chimneys for a living, spending their days in the duct-work removing creosote buildup in order to prevent chimney fires, one of the great dangers of fuel-burning heating systems. Lamb talks of their humour, their love for sassafras tea (the original root beer), their joyful smiles. He eulogizes a friend, James White, who organized an annual banquet for young chimney-sweepers in Smithfield. He touches only briefly on the popular rumour that adult chimney-sweepers often kidnapped young boys, toddlers, even, to use as apprentices, since they could go where adults could not. He does not mention at all the ghastly, dangerous, often fatal working conditions. Lamb’s chimney-sweepers are rather younger than Mary Poppins’, but no less unrealistic.
Autobiographical Elements Of Essays Of Elia
The most charming beauty of romantic literature is the trait of its being intensely autobiographical and subjective. Similarly, "Essays of Elia" unfold the life history and idiosyncratic mind of Charles Lamb in a semi-factual way. The real delight for the Romantic comes from his infusion of fact and fiction as, otherwise, his essays would have become mere boring and passionless statements about his personal and private life. Our charm and fascination do not grow less, for we are never too close to the reality or surrounded by totally imaginary details and accounts. Under the thin layer of mystified names and references, Lamb lays bare his entire existence.
In fact, it is not possible for readers to trace out a true history of Charles Lamb through his essays. He mystifies the details of his personal life by giving us false names and false kinship. Even the pseudonym of "Elia" is sufficient to blur our judgment. Without additional help in form of footnotes and comments, we cannot safely connect details given in the essays with Lamb's life. Sometimes, he may make a confession at the end of essay that whatever he has written is just a creation of his mind:
?Reader, what if I have been playing with thee all this while─,─, peradventure the very names, which I have summoned up before thee, are fantastic insubstantial─,─, like Henry Pimpernel, and old John Naps of Greece?? (The South-Sea House)
Lamb tells us about his birthplace, father, family, his love of the past and his tremendous attachment with the city of London in ?The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple?. Here his father is portrayed under the guise of ?Lovel?, who was more than a right-hand man of his employer Samuel Salt, being ?at once his clerk, his good servant, his dresser, his friend, his ?flapper,? his guide, stop-watch, auditor, treasurer.? ?My Relations? gives us an account of Lamb?s elder brother, John Lamb, and his sister, Mary Lamb. Furthermore, his long intimacy with Mary gets a lively narration in ?Mrs Battle?s Opinions?. Lamb?s childhood can be viewed in ?Christ Hospital? and ?Witches and Other Night Fears?:
?I never laid my head on my pillow, I suppose...
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