Lamb’s essays are factual, yet they are planned with a fanciful ardour. The fusion of fact and fiction, fancy and fun, is one of the keynotes of Elian essays. The author is found to speak here with a pose of reality. The matters, treated by him, are, no doubt, real, belonging to his own life. But he writes in a manner that creates an airy fanciful impression, in which the fact becomes somewhat fictional.
This sort of the peculiar Elian style is well marked in several Elian essays of which Dream Children: A Reverie may particularly be quoted. This is, no doubt, a very brief essay and personal, too. Lamb presents here an anecdote relating to his dream of two children, supposed to be his own. The author, a confirmed bachelor, had a meeting with those two children, a son, and a daughter, in a reverie, which means day-dreaming, and the essay is mainly all about his communication with them, of course in a dream.
The essay ‘Dream-Children: A Reverie‘ definitely implies a dream element. The term reverie, as already noted, indicates day-dreaming, whereas dream children are the children of daydreaming. In a state of reverie, Lamb has a meeting with two children, who seem to belong to him. They approach him to from him how he had been when he was a childlike them. To those children, rather dream-children, the author seems to relate the account of his past, of his grandmother Mrs. Field, his elder brother John Lamb, his boyhood living at his grand mother’s place during his vacation and his youthful courtship with his dead wife, Alce Winterton.
Indeed, the whole subject-matter of the essay has a basis on the dream. Even it has the character of a dream. Yet, the element of a dream is never given predominance in the essay. Lamb’s mode of representation is so natural that there is hardly any suspicion that what he is talking of all happened in a dream. Truly speaking, the atmosphere of reality is sustained all through the essay wonderfully, and this is done mainly by his marked and diverting delineation of child psychology.
Lamb’s dream children never appear to be other than real children. Here the story seems to be a widower’s communication with his pretty motherless son and daughter. There is no trace of any dream, nothing of the incoherence of the dream element in Lamb’s presentation.
The dream element of the essay comes only at the fag end. As the author begins to speak of his dream wife to his dream children, they seem to grow indistinct and gradually disappears. The author becomes awakened and alert. He finds himself seated in his bachelor armchair with his sister Mary Bridget by his side.
Thus the truth of the dream comes after the author’s reverie is over. His realisation is shocking, for there is no reality at all. The whole matter belongs to the realm of dream. But what the author succeeds in achieving is to bring together and tie up perfectly the real and the dream and the actual and the fanciful. The hard truth of a bachelor’s life and the diverting fancy of a dream are smoothly synthesised to achieve commendation from the generation of readers for the conception of the dream element in the essay.