Charles Lamb's most famous book of essays, called "The Essays of Elia," featured a gentle, domestic, good-humored bachelor named Elia, who was not unlike Lamb himself. Themes of the essay include nostalgia, the need for compassion, and regret. Although written slightly before the Victorian era, they anticipate the Victorian emphasis on home, family and heartfelt sentiments.
In "A Quaker's Meeting" Elia recalls in idealized, nostalgic terms a Quaker meeting he attended years ago. In his memory, Quakers are clean and holy, unblemished inside and out: "The very garments of a Quaker seem incapable of receiving a soil," and every Quakeress is "lily," he writes.
In "A Dissertation of Roast Pig," he pens gentle satire that regrets that people with refined tastes dine on suckling or baby pigs, and perhaps will kill them inhumanely, questioning if that is necessary. In "The Praise of Chimney-Sweepers" he asks gentlemen to give a penny to the poor chimney sweepers, young boys who are out on cold mornings.
In "Dream Children," Elia expresses the theme of regret that he never had a family.
The essays' sweetness of style made them popular, while their themes encouraged people to practice kindness and compassion both by remembering the past and remembering the less fortunate.