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By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags

Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds, Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores

And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear

The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible 60 Of that eternal language, which thy God Utters, who from eternity doth teach Himself in all, and all things in himself. Great universal Teacher! he shall mold Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask. 65 Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,

Whether the summer clothe the general earth

With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing

Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch

Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave

drops fall

Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

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CHARLES LAMB (1775-1834)

There are few English authors with whose character and circumstances we may become so closely acquainted as with Charles Lamb's, on account of his habit of self-confession in his essays, his skill and charm as a letter-writer, and his many literary friendships. The first seven years of his life were spent at the Inner Temple, where his father had rooms as clerk and confidential servant to one of the barristers; for the next seven he was a blue coat boy' at Christ's Hospital, along with Coleridge. Lamb was passionately fond of London, where he passed nearly all his days, but in Mackery End in Hertfordshire and other essays he has given us delightful glimpses of holiday visits to the country home of his grandmother Field. It was on one of these visits that he fell in love with the fair Alice' of Dream Children, but this youthful romance was cruelly cut short. There was a strain of mental weakness in the family, and Lamb's mind gave way. Not long after his restoration, his sister Mary, the Bridget Elia' of the essays, in a sudden fit of insanity, was the cause of her mother's death; on her recovery it was necessary that some one should be responsible for her safe keeping, and to this task Charles devoted the rest of his life. At this time he was earning a small salary as a clerk in the office of the East India Company and his first efforts in literature, apart from a few sonnets and other short poems, were directed to eking out their scanty income. A Tale of Rosamund Gray, published in 1798, had no great success; he could not get his tragedy, John Woodvil, put on the stage; his comedy, Mr. H., was acted at Drury Lane and failed. He contributed witty paragraphs' to the morning papers at the rate of sixpence a joke, and it was thought pretty high, too,' as he tells us in the essay on Newspapers Thirty-five Years Ago. Fortune first smiled upon them in the Tales from Shakspere, written for children by the brother and sister together, Charles taking the tragedies and Mary the comedies. His Specimens of English Dramatists contemporary with Shakspere was an important contribution to the criticism of the Elizabethan drama, and his position in the world of letters was now well established. Leigh Hunt, Wordsworth, Southey, Keats, Hazlitt, De Quincey, and many other famous men of the time were among his friends, and much of his leisure was spent in conversation and convivial meetings, from which he sometimes returned, as his sister says, very smoky and drinky.' His ready wit and unfailing kindliness of heart endeared him to his friends, as the charm of his personality and the delicacy of his humor have to an ever-increasing circle of readers. His most characteristic work is to be found in the Essays of Elia, which appeared in the London Magazine from 1820 to 1826.

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MACKERY END IN HERTFORD

SHIRE

5

brained generous Margaret Newcastle.

It has been the lot of my cousin, oftener perhaps than I could have wished, to have had for her associates and mine, freethinkers-leaders, and disciples, of novel philosophies and systems; but she neither wrangles with, nor accepts, their opinions. That which was good and venerable to her. when a child, retains its authority over her mind still She never juggles or plays tricks with her understanding.

Bridget Elia has been my housekeeper for many a long year. I have obligations to Bridget, extending beyond the period of memory. We house together, old bachelor and maid, in a sort of double singleness; with such tolerable comfort. upon the whole, that I, for one, find in to myself no sort of disposition to go out upon the mountains, with the rash king's offspring, to bewail my celibacy. We agree pretty well in our tastes and habits ---yet so, as with a difference. We 5 are generally in harmony, with occasional bickerings- as it should be among near relations. Our sympathies are rather understood, than expressed; and once, upon my dissembling a tone in my voice more kind than ordinary, my cousin burst into tears, and complained that I was altered. We are both great readers in different directions. While I am hanging over (for the thousandth 25 time) some passage in old Burton, or one of his strange contemporaries, she is abstracted in some modern tale, or adventure, whereof our common reading-table is daily fed with assiduously fresh sup- 30 plies. Narrative teases me. I have little concern in the progress of events. She must have a story- well, ill, or indifferently told-so there be life stirring in it, and plenty of good or evil accidents. 35 The fluctuations of fortune in fiction and almost in real life- - have ceased to interest, or operate but dully upon me. Out-of-the-way humors and opinions heads with some diverting twist in them --the oddities of authorship please me most. My cousin has a native disrelish of anything that sounds odd or bizarre. Nothing goes down with her that is quaint, irregular, or out of the road of 45 Her education in youth was not much common sympathy. She holds Nature attended to; and she happily missed all more clever.' I can pardon her blind- that train of female garniture, which ness to the beautiful obliquities of the passeth by the name of accomplishments. Religio Medici; but she must apologize She was tumbled early, by accident or to me for certain disrespectful insinua- 50 design, into a spacious closet of good old tions, which she has been pleased to English reading, without much selection throw out latterly, touching the intel- or prohibition, and browsed at will upon lectuals of a dear favorite of mine, of that fair and wholesome pasturage. Had the last century but one-the thrice I twenty girls, they should be brought up noble, chaste, and virtuous, but again 55 exactly in this fashion. I know not somewhat fantastical, and original

We are both of us inclined to be a little too positive; and I have observed the result of our disputes to be almost uniformly this-that in matters of fact, dates, and circumstances, it turns out, that I was in the right, and my cousin in the wrong. But where we have zo differed upon moral points; upon something proper to be done, or let alone; whatever heat of opposition, or steadiness of conviction, I set out with. I am sure always, in the long run, to be brought over to her way of thinking.

40

I must touch upon the foibles of my kinswoman with a gentle hand, for Bridget does not like to be told of her faults. She hath an awkward trick (to say no worse of it) of reading in company: at which times she will answer yes or no to a question, without fully understanding its purport- which is provoking, and derogatory in the highest degree to the dignity of the putter of the said question. Her presence of mind is equal to the most pressing trials of life, but will sometimes desert her upon trifling occasions. When the purpose requires it, and is a thing of moment, she can speak to it greatly; but in matters which are not stuff of the conscience, she hath been known sometimes to let slip a word less seasonably.

whether their chance in wedlock might

not be diminished by it; but I can answer for it, that it makes (if the worst come to the worst) most incomparable old maids.

In a season of distress, she is the truest comforter; but in the teasing accidents, and minor perplexities, which do not call out the will to meet them, she sometimes maketh matters worse by an excess of participation. If she does not always 10 divide your trouble, upon the pleasanter occasions of life she is sure always to treble your satisfaction. She is excellent to be at play with, or upon a visit; but best, when she goes a journey with 15

you.

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We made an excursion together a few summers since, into Hertfordshire, to beat up the quarters of some of our lessknown relations in that fine corn country. 20 The oldest thing I remember is Mackery End; or Mackarel End, as it is spelt, perhaps more properly, in some old maps of Hertfordshire: a farm-house,delightfully situated within a gentle walk from Wheathampstead. I can just remember having been there, on a visit to a great-aunt, when I was a child, under the care of Bridget; who, as I have said, is older than myself by some ten years. 30 I wish that I could throw into a heap the remainder of our joint existences, that we might share them in equal division. But that is impossible. The house was at that time in the occupation of a sub- 35 stantial yeoman, who had married my grandmother's sister. His name was Gladman. My grandmother was a Bruton, married to a Field. The Gladmans and the Brutons are still flourishing in 40 that part of the county, but the Fields are almost extinct. More than forty years had elapsed since the visit I speak of; and, for the greater portion of that period, we had lost sight of the other 45 two branches also. Who or what sort of persons inherited Mackery Endkindred or strange folk we were afraid almost to conjecture, but determined some day to explore.

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By somewhat a circuitous route, taking the noble park at Luton in our way from Saint Alban's, we arrived at the spot of our anxious curiosity about noon. The sight of the old farm-house, though every 55 trace of it was effaced from my recollec

tion, affected me with a pleasure which I had not experienced for many a year. For though I had forgotten it, we had never forgotten being there together, and 5 we had been talking about Mackery End all our lives, till memory on my part became mocked with a phantom of itself, and I thought I knew the aspect of a place, which, when present, O how unlike it was to that, which I had conjured up so many times instead of it!

Still the air breathed balmily about it; the season was in the heart of June,' and I could say with the poet,

But thou, that didst appear so fair
To fond imagination,

Dost rival in the light of day
Her delicate creation!

Bridget's was more a waking bliss than mine, for she easily remembered her old acquaintance again some altered features, of course, a little grudged at. At first, indeed, she was ready to disbelieve for joy; but the scene soon reconfirmed itself in her affections - and she traversed every outpost of the old mansion, to the wood-house, the orchard, the place where the pigeon-house had stood (house and birds were alike flown) - with a breathless impatience of recognition, which was more pardonable perhaps than decorous at the age of fifty odd. But Bridget in some things is behind her years.

The only thing left was to get into the house and that was a difficulty which to me singly would have been insurmountable; for I am terribly shy in making myself known to strangers and out-ofdate kinsfolk. Love, stronger than scruple, winged my cousin in without me; but she soon returned with a creature that might have sat to a sculptor for the image of Welcome. It was the youngest of the Gladmans; who, by marriage with a Bruton, had become mistress of the old mansion. A comely brood are the Brutons. Six of them, females, were noted as the handsomest young women in the county. But this adopted Bruton, in my mind, was better than they all more comely. She was born too late to have remembered me. She just recollected in early life to have had her

cousin Bridget once pointed out to her, climbing a stile. But the name of kindred, and of cousinship, was enough. Those slender ties, that prove slight as gossamer in the rending atmosphere of a metropolis, bind faster, as we found it, in hearty, homely, loving Hertfordshire. In five minutes we were as thoroughly acquainted as if we had been born and bred up together; were familiar, even to the calling each other by our christian names. So christians should call one another. To have seen Bridget, and her

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DREAM-CHILDREN: A REVERIE

Children love to listen to stories about their elders, when they were children; to 5 stretch their imagination to the conception of a traditionary great-uncle, or grandame, whom they never saw. It was in this spirit that my little ones crept about me the other evening to hear about their great-grandmother Field, who lived in a great house in Norfolk (a hundred times bigger than that in which they and papa lived) which had been the scene it was like the meeting of the two so at least it was generally believed in scriptural cousins! There was a grace 15 that part of the country of the tragic and dignity, an amplitude of form and incidents which they had lately become stature, answering to her mind, in this familiar with from the ballad of the farmer's wife, which would have shined Children in the Wood. Certain it is that in a palace or so we thought it. We the whole story of the children and their were made welcome by husband and wife 20 cruel uncle was to be seen fairly carved equally we, and our friend that was out in wood upon the chimney-piece of with us.- - I had almost forgotten him the great hall, the whole story down to but B. F. will not so soon forget that the Robin Redbreasts, till a foolish rich meeting, if peradventure he shall read person pulled it down to set up a marble this on the far-distant shores where the 25 one of modern invention in its stead, with kangaroo haunts. The fatted calf was no story upon it. Here Alice put out one made ready, or rather was already so, as of her dear mother's looks, too tender to be if in anticipation of our coming; and, called upbraiding. Then I went on to say, after an appropriate glass of native wine, how religious and how good their greatnever let me forget with what honest 30 grandmother Field was, how beloved and pride this hospitable cousin made us respected by everybody, though she was not proceed to Wheathampstead, to introduce. indeed the mistress of this great house, us (as some new-found rarity) to her but had only the charge of it (and yet mother and sister Gladmans, who did in- in some respects she might be said to be deed know something more of us, at a 35 the mistress of it too) committed to her time when she almost knew nothing.— by the owner, who preferred living in a With what corresponding kindness we newer and more fashionable mansion were received by them also — how Brid- which he had purchased somewhere in get's memory, exalted by the occasion, the adjoining county; but still she lived warmed into a thousand half-obliterated 40 in it in a manner as if it had been her recollections of things and persons, to my utter astonishment, and her own and to the astoundment of B. F. who sat by, almost the only thing that was not a cousin there,-old effaced images of more 45 than half-forgotten names and circumstances still crowding back upon her, as words written in lemon come out upon exposure to a friendly warmth,- when I forget all this, then may my country 50 up in Lady C.'s tawdry gilt drawing

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cousins forget me; and Bridget no more
remember, that in the days of weakling
infancy I was her tender charge — as I
have been her care in foolish manhood
since in those pretty pastoral walks, 55
long ago, about Mackery End, in Hert-
fordshire.
(1821)

own, and kept up the dignity of the great house in a sort while she lived, which afterwards came to decay, and was nearly pulled down, and all its old ornaments stripped and carried away to the owner's other house, where they were set up, and looked as awkward as if some one were to carry away the old tombs they had seen lately at the Abbey, and stick them

room. Here John smiled, as much as to say, that would be foolish, indeed.' And then I told how, when she came to die, her funeral was attended by a concourse of all the poor, and some of the gentry too, of the neighborhood for many miles round, to show their respect for her mem

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