1849 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Dyer

Thomas Noon Talfourd, in Final Memorials of Charles Lamb (1849) 65.



At this time [1797], the only literary man whom Lamb knew in London was George Dyer, who had been noted as an accomplished scholar, in Lamb's early childhood, at Christ's Hospital. For him Lamb cherished all the esteem that his guileless simplicity of character and gentleness of nature could inspire; in these qualities the friends were akin; but no two men could be more opposite than they were to each other, in intellectual qualifications and tastes — Lamb, in all things original, and rejoicing in the quaint, the strange, the extravagant; Dyer, the quintessence of learned commonplace; Lamb wildly catching the most evanescent spirit of wit and poetry; Dyer, the wondering disciple of their established forms. Dyer officiated as a revering High Priest at the Altar of the Muses — such as they were in the staid, antiquated trim of the closing years of the eighteenth century, before they formed sentimental attachments in Germany, or flirted with revolutionary France, or renewed their youth by drinking the Spirit of the Lakes. Lamb esteemed and loved him so well, that he felt himself entitled to make sport with his peculiarities; but it was as Fielding might sport with his own idea of Parson Adams; or Goldsmith with his Dr. Primrose.