MANY FRIENDS - by Charles Lamb
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
PART TWO * HIMSELF, HIS YOUTH, AND HIS FAMILY
THE PORTABLE CHARLES LAMB EDITED BY JOHN MASON BROWN -
FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE UNITED STATES
THE VIKING PORTABLE LIBRARY - BY THE VIKING PRESS - 1949 - EDITOR’S
INTRODUCTION , EDITOR’S NOTE.
LAMB’S CHRONOLOGY 1796 - 1818
COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE DEFINITION OF FRIENDS FROM 1700s TO TODAY
My Bible and my literature books are my reading choices when life gets me down.
It mends my soul.
I wasn’t aware how hungry I was until I began reading. It’s words, written long ago, fed my soul.
Comparing and contrasting what Lamb and his fellow writers wrote, the definition of friends in the 1700s compared to friends today are not the same. His views and values stay true. The word “friend” gets thrown around these days.
Look at social media. The word “friend” takes on a new meaning. It‘s a great example of compare and contrast to my way of thinking.
Deleting posts is an option. Blocking or removing them, with one click. is a permanent option. That sounds cold, doesn’t it. With my southern roots, I would say yes.
On the other hand, I have had great satisfaction hitting the delete button many times. I will say no more about this subject. I might offend someone.
I can only imagine what Lamb, Coleridge, Wordsworth and their writing ”friends”
comments would be about our computer age. I didn’t want this to sound like a boring college essay, comparing our world to the past.
I would have fallen asleep by now. It takes a lot to hold my attention. Ask my children. My precious daughter is the same way. Her daily accomplishments have her sweet mind traveling at light speed!
Her cup runneth over with family and work. Another example.
My generation of wives stayed home. Household
responsibilities, carpooling endless hours, getting our
children to and from school, the list was endless..
If you are still with me after reading my boring introduction, thank you from the bottom of my southern heart! Moving on,
We had an artist friend, who on occasion, joined us for dinner. While gathered at the table, you did not want to miss one word of his conversation,
World-traveled, renown for his beautiful art, his style of paintings were in keeping with artist, Georgia O’Keefe. His art emulated her. You knew the style the minute you saw his paintings. Brilliant colors, carefully arranged on canvas.
He was a unique person, but aren’t we all. He added much flavor to a gathering of friends. His life stories were fascinating.
He spoke softly. A great quality. I noticed when speaking, others leaned in, not missing a word.
He lived life as he chose, seeking no one’s approval. He was true to his art.
On occasion, he invited us over for wine and cheese, telling us about his latest
travels.It was wonderful hearing first hand the latest news
going on in the art world.
His art lovers hosted intimate gatherings occasionally, savoring his newest exhibit.
I admired him. I dabbled in paint, but nothing to his style. He was a great mentor.
On an occasion, while enjoying a glass of wine at his lovely bungalow, he shared some simple truths about his life, in keeping with my admired English writers.
Some thought him opulent. Not me. I admired his love for life.
His artwork was not cheap. He demanded high prices. He got them. Wow. Gutsy. I was envious.
I was a stay-at-home wife, mother, in every possible group of ladies from garden clubs to church. A southern-born, southern-raised wife, I lit up like a lightbulb, when he spoke of his Carpe diem life. I was enamored..\
Wanting to travel, he would paint, sell them, and be gone indefinitely. He was a free spirit.
He had a bad smoking habit, ultimately deteriorating his death. He became sick, thin, slow movingm and finally it led to the loss of his life.
I can remember his cigarette ashes would be close to falling, making me anxious to grab an ash tray. My ADD would kick in.
I felt rude to interrupt him. I remembered my parents smoking. Their habits were the same, often accompanied by their choice of beverage.
So nasty to me. I detest it.
His life-style worked for him. Most can only dream. You could not be around him and be quiet. He unknowingly would draw you into his conversation. Engaging.
He was true to himself. A loner. He didn’t care much for people. But, his paintings were a source of income, subjecting him to their company and their money. He told me he could pick phony people in any crowd. What did he mean? Nothing below the hat. Superficial. He loved walking around their houses, scouting for books. If none were found of any literary quality, he knew the latest coffee table books would grace their living room. If they only knew. We would laugh. Most people bored him. Narrow minds, lack of education. One and the same.
After the grocery list, he said they had no enriching subject matter.
Walking into a home with silk flowers was another trigger point for him. Leave off some of the junk food on their grocery list. Replace with fresh flowers. It drove him crazy. Most were overweight. It would do them well, he would say.
Only live flowers in your home.
I don’t remember visiting him without fresh flowers on the coffee table. It was a square, crystal vase. The stems were arranged. We loved him. Was he a traditionalist? No. Will he be in Heaven? Not my decision. Was he true to himself? Yes, he was. Was it in keeping with biblical truths? I can’t answer. I know I loved him, he was loads of fun, and had a clever topic of conversation for every party.
That’s why he was popular. He enriched a room with his style.
He was an intellect. He knew much about art and its artists.
He fascinated me.
Like him, the English authors had similar characteristics. They were ingenious, stayed to themselves, arrogant, with no room for small talk. Above it.
Our sweet friend, now departed, would have much in common with these gents.
Sitting around a fire with a glass of brandy, talking much ado about nothing. Today, one can acquire new friends by accepting a request on your choice of device. Private groups will allow you to join, subject to approval. I’m noticing groups are endless. Not my cup of tea.
Charles Lamb - “unfortunate is the lot of that man, who can look round about the wide world, and exclaim with truth, I HAVE NO FRIEND! Do you know any such lonely suffered?
For mercy sake, send him to me. I can afford him plenty. ......... !”
Sitting down to a solitary meal, being interrupted by so-called friends was a menace to him. He described himself as middle-aged, who loved his privacy.
His so-called friends had no manners. Eating by himself was a solitary function, His chief complaint: the ones interrupting him, had nothing in common. They would drink his wine, eat his food, but when he interjected a word of literature, they were ignorant.
He humors me. His friends of that time shared one thing in common; a love for tranquility,
Not much for small talk, and a commonality to read, write and appreciate one’s accomplishments. No local gossip, no need to be entertained, they were happy with
a simple life.
Having respect of each others’ written words, they were unaware the likes of us would be reading such eloquent words some 300 hundred years later.
When I first read Wordsworth‘s poem, describing his walking a 17-mile journey to see a splash of yellow daffodils in a meadow, it engaged me.
Anytime I see a field of daffodils, I think of Wordsworth.
The written word. What power it has!
Fast forwarding to today. This southern lady has a passion for the theater. My children were taken to any broadway producti0n nearby. They were exposed to the finer things of life. When I took them to see Phantom of the Opera, they were mesmerized when the large chandelier began descending. We were seated underneath it. I won’t ever forget their faces. A moment of time etched into their little hearts. They didn’t stop loving the theater, or the arts.
Seeing the play, Man of LaMancha, was another favorite. Watching the star character, Don Quixote, singing The impossible Dream, was a dream to them. My children were old enough to understand the old soldier, Don Quixote, who dreams.
When he sings to Dulcinea, the waitress, she asks him why struggle against all odds. His reply was masterful. To know at the end of your life, to know it had purpose and meaning,” giving up was not an option.
Wordsworth. Lamb, Coleridge, they didn’t give up. That is why we can read their writings of life 300 years later.
We can take a peek at their world. I love it.
Reading these marvelous writers reveal mankind has not changed. Only time.
More gadgets, more stuff. Less serenity, less time.
“ Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future?” by Steve Miller & the Band,
Professor, University of Southern California. He is still touring.
Nothing changes. Only time. Our Lord lives on forever! Until next time.....