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But the “rest of the day," although free from uncongenial drudgery, was not exempt from unpleasant vicissitudes. Lamb was restless, and moved from place to place; his sister's malady grew worse, the attacks more frequent and of longer duration ; the “old familiar faces disappeared one by one; amid a host of acquaintances he grew more and more lonely; an adopted daughter married and left the home; the home itself was broken up; brother and sister went into lodgings, where the latter could have the constant care of an attendant; Charles was not sixty, but health was failing; during the last few years he wrote nothing except an occasional poem for the album of a friend.
Lamb had many friends, among them some of the most distinguished citizens in the Republic of Letters, Leigh Hunt, Southey, Wordsworth, Rogers, Hazlitt, Talfourd, but the dearest of all was Coleridge. For him he entertained an affection that bordered on veneration. For fifty years they lived in the closest intimacy, and “in death they were not divided.” In July, 1834, Coleridge passed away, and Lamb never recovered the shock. “His great and dear spirit haunts me," he said, “never saw I his likeness, nor probably can the world see it again.” “I seem to love the house he died at more passionately than when he lived." “What was his mansion is consecrated to me a chapel.” The memory of his school-fellow and lifelong friend never forsook him. One day a gentleman asked him to write a few lines for his literary album. He wrote them. Their subject was Coleridge. They were the last he ever wrote. In December, 1834, five months after his friend, he died.
So passed away this bright and gentle spirit, whose life was illumined by genius, sanctified by affliction, leaving behind him a memory not likely soon to fade. Playful, gentle, loving Elia, we need not go to Edmonton to gaze upon thy tomb, thou hast erected an enduring monument in our English affections, and thy remembrance is kept green in the hearts of men. Lamb is not to be read at all seasons and under
every variety of circumstance. We should not take him to read on the shingle of the sea shore. Some books may be read to the accompaniment of the monotonous plashing of the waves, for others we want a quiet afternoon in some rural spot, such as Gray describes in his Elegy, before the sun sets and all the land is dark. But Elia is a book for a winter's evening in a cosy room, when the curtains are drawn close, and only the distant hum of tired humanity wending its way homeward disturbs the stillness.
“To gain immortality,” said Schopenhauer, “an author can only be a man who, over the wide earth, will seek his like in vain, and offer a palpable contrast with everyone else in virtue of his unmistakable distinction." Lamb largely satisfies this severe requirement, “over the wide earth” we “seek his like in vain;" he belongs to no particular school of thought; he had no literary ancestry; he left no disciples; he is representative only of himself. Like Montaigne, Sir Thomas Browne, George Wither, Laurence Sterne, he is a solitary figure standing alone, “a palpable contrast with everyone else in virtue of his unmistakable distinction." His place is not among the intellectual leaders of mankind whose influence is felt from century to century. His name will probably never be one to conjure with among the masses of the reading public, they will continue to purchase, for shelf decoration, works of a parentage more august, and give their real attention to the ephemeral produce of the bookstalls. He never was and never will be, in the wide sense of the term, a popular writer whose productions flood the market and are found
in every drawing-room. His “unmistakable distinction" saves him from the dubious compliment involved in universal recognition. But although his contribution to literature is not weighty enough to place him among the front-rank immortals, whom all know by name and a certain percentage read, its quality secured him the applause of the best contemporary judges, and has gained him a permanent niche in the temple of fame. “The world,” said Walter Savage Landor, “will never see again two such delightful volumes as the Essays of Elia; no man living is capable of writing the worst twenty pages of them.” “His memory," wrote Southey, “will retain its fragrance as long as the best spice that ever was expended upon one of the Pharaohs.” “ Save to the sour complexioned' and matter of fact," says his most distinguished biographer, Lamb is “one of the most dearly loved among English men of letters," and there is "every sign that this love is one which no changes, either of fashion or taste, will diminish."
Are not his footsteps followed by the eyes
Of all the good and wise,
Upon the lofty peak,
O'er death's perennial snows.
THE ETHICS OF COMMON LIFE.
BY JOHN LEE, B.A. It is easy to build up a system of Ethics. That is to say, setting out from the central idea that there is an ought-to-do and a can-do, it is by no means difficult to theorise on their union. We may conceive, for example, that every unit is hedonistically inclined, that he or she acts for his or her own happiness, or on the other hand, that he or she acts partially for the good of the race, and partially for his or her own good. Again, we may regard the deliverance of common sense as absolute, as authoritative, and from that we may deduce a body corporate of morals with a main content that the duty thus assigned must be performed whatever may be the result either to the agent or to the agent's fellows.
Having thus set out, the construction of a method of ethics is not an insuperable task. Such a method may have codified declarations, and these codified declarations may contain positive elements, such, for example, as benevolence and justice, and wisdom and prudence. But when we have completed our task, the question before us is an obvious one. What is the bearing of a method of ethics upon practical life?
Here, I take it, the scientific treatment of ethics comes to an end. Our lives are essentially rapid and complex. The influences which affect us are manifold ; the motives which inspire us are counter-agent and confusing; the results which lure us are conflicting and often illusory. Of what use is a method of ethics for a village grocer or a city clerk, for after all, our lives, whatever sphere we may occupy, are in their essentials comparable to those of the village grocer and the city clerk? In other words, to what effect has the study of ethics been brought to influence the day-by-day lives of ourselves and those around us? Herein, I consider, lies a most interesting problem.
One answer is made at this point. There are those who say the only practical ethical system is religion. In reply to this assertion it may be asserted that religion, in any form whatsoever, only affects the minority of mankind, so that for the majority there is some other code of conduct. Ah, replies the religious, but religion affects a wider area than is at first apparent; an atheist has read the Bible at his mother's knee; he has become indirectly influenced by religious sanctions to which he himself denies assent. It may be rejoined to such a plea that if any man rejects religion, to the same extent that he rejects it, religion cannot be regarded as an ethical sanction to that man. Moreover, of church and chapel-going people—and they are probably the minority--what proportion is affected by the inner ethical sanction of the religion to which they openly adhere? It must be admitted that the proportion is probably very small. So that for the great bulk of our community religion does not supply the direct sanction, nor the direct authority of right and wrong.
Nor does legislation supply the deficiency. At once it must be admitted that a wide area of human conduct cannot possibly be affected by legislation. To many of us the complex statute law of the land has no practical existence. We do not think that in our conduct of family affairs, and in our relations to our fellows, we are governed by enactment. Of course the fact is we are not governed by enactment in the great bulk of our worldly affairs. Apart from the question of common law, there is a great residue