The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 613 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 3.
happened to make a great impression on you when you were very young, and if you find you can connect your story till your arrival here to-day, I am sure we shall listen to you with pleasure; and if you like to break off, and only treat us with a part of your history, we will excuse you, with many thanks for the amusement which you have afforded us; and the lady who has drawn the second number will, I hope, take her turn with the same indulgence, to relate either all, or any part of the events of her life, as best pleases her own fancy, or as she finds she can manage it with the most ease to herself.”—­Encouraged by this offer of indulgence, miss Villiers began.
If in my report of her story, or in any which follow, I shall appear to make her or you speak an older language than it seems probable that you should use, speaking in your own words, it must be remembered, that what is very proper and becoming when spoken, requires to be arranged with some little difference before it can be set down in writing.  Little inaccuracies must be pared away, and the whole must assume a more formal and correct appearance.  My own way of thinking, I am sensible, will too often intrude itself, but I have endeavoured to preserve, as exactly as I could, your own words, and your own peculiarities of style and manner, and to approve myself

    Your faithful historiographer,
    as well as true friend,

    M.B.

I

ELIZABETH VILLIERS

(By Mary Lamb)

My father is the curate of a village church, about five miles from Amwell.  I was born in the parsonage-house, which joins the church-yard.  The first thing I can remember was my father teaching me the alphabet from the letters on a tombstone that stood at the head of my mother’s grave.  I used to tap at my father’s study-door; I think I now hear him say, “Who is there?—­What do you want, little girl?” “Go and see mamma.  Go and learn pretty letters.”  Many times in the day would my father lay aside his books and his papers to lead me to this spot, and make me point to the letters, and then set me to spell syllables and words:  in this manner, the epitaph on my mother’s tomb being my primmer and my spelling-book, I learned to read.

I was one day sitting on a step placed across the church-yard stile, when a gentleman passing by, heard me distinctly repeat the letters which formed my mother’s name, and then say, Elizabeth Villiers, with a firm tone, as if I had performed some great matter.  This gentleman was my uncle James, my mother’s brother:  he was a lieutenant in the navy, and had left England a few weeks after the marriage of my father and mother, and now, returned home from a long sea-voyage, he was coming to visit my mother; no tidings of her decease having reached him, though she had been dead more than a twelvemonth.

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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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