The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 755 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3.
and had seen in pictures the shapes of ships and boats, and palaces and temples, but never rightly any thing that could be called a church, or that could satisfy me about its form.  Sometimes I thought it must be like our house, and sometimes I fancied it must be more like the house of our neighbour, Mr. Sutton, which was bigger and handsomer than ours.  Sometimes I thought it was a great hollow cave, such as I have heard my father say the first inhabitants of the earth dwelt in.  Then I thought it was like a waggon, or a cart, and that it must be something moveable.  The shape of it ran in my mind strangely, and one day I ventured to ask my mother, what was that foolish thing that she was always longing to go to, and which she called a church.  Was it any thing to eat or drink, or was it only like a great huge play-thing, to be seen and stared at?—­I was not quite five years of age when I made this inquiry.

This question, so oddly put, made my mother smile; but in a little time she put on a more grave look, and informed me, that a church was nothing that I had supposed it, but it was a great building, far greater than any house which I had seen, where men, and women, and children, came together, twice a day, on Sundays, to hear the Bible read, and make good resolutions for the week to come.  She told me, that the fine music which we sometimes heard in the air, came from the bells of St. Mary’s church, and that we never heard it but when the wind was in a particular point.  This raised my wonder more than all the rest; for I had somehow conceived that the noise which I heard, was occasioned by birds up in the air, or that it was made by the angels, whom (so ignorant I was till that time) I had always considered to be a sort of birds:  for before this time I was totally ignorant of any thing like religion, it being a principle of my father, that young heads should not be told too many things at once, for fear they should get confused ideas, and no clear notions of any thing.  We had always indeed so far observed Sundays, that no work was done upon that day, and upon that day I wore my best muslin frock, and was not allowed to sing, or to be noisy; but I never understood why that day should differ from any other.  We had no public meetings:—­indeed the few straggling houses which were near us, would have furnished but a slender congregation; and the loneliness of the place we lived in, instead of making us more sociable, and drawing us closer together, as my mother used to say it ought to have done, seemed to have the effect of making us more distant and averse to society than other people.  One or two good neighbours indeed we had, but not in numbers to give me an idea of church attendance.

But now my mother thought it high time to give me some clearer instruction in the main points of religion, and my father came readily into her plan.  I was now permitted to sit up half an hour later on a Sunday evening, that I might hear a portion of Scripture read, which had always been their custom, though by reason of my tender age, and my father’s opinion on the impropriety of children being taught too young, I had never till now been an auditor.  I was taught my prayers, and those things which you, ladies, I doubt not, had the benefit of being instructed in at a much earlier age.

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