1866 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Dyer

Bryan Waller Procter, in Charles Lamb: a Memoir (1866) 88-89.



George Dyer, once a pupil in Christ's Hospital, possessing a good reputation as a classical scholar, and who had preceded Lamb in the school, about this time came into the circle of his familiars. Dyer was one of the simplest and most inoffensive men in the world: in his heart there existed nothing but what was altogether pure and unsophisticated. He seemed never to have outgrown the innocence of childhood; or rather he appeared to be without those germs or first principles of evil which sometimes begin to show themselves in childhood itself. He was not only without any of the dark passions himself, but he would not perceive them in others. He looked only on the sunshine. Hazlitt, speaking of him in his Conversation of Authors, says, "He lives amongst the old authors, if he does not enter into their spirit. He handles the covers, and turns over the pages, and is familiar with the names and dates. He is busy and self-involved. He hangs like a film and cobweb upon the outside of knowledge, which should not too rudely be brushed aside. He follows learning as its shadow, but as such he is respectable. He browses on the husks and leaves of books." And Lamb says, "The gods, by denying him the very faculty of discrimination, have effectually cut off every seed of envy in his bosom."