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.

  This pious precept, while it stood
  In his remembrance, kept him good
    When nobody was by him;
  For though no human eye was near,
  Yet Richard still did wisely fear
    The little bird should spy him.

  But best resolves will sometimes sleep;
  Poor frailty will not always keep
    From that which is forbidden;
  And Richard one day, left alone,
  Laid hands on something not his own,
    And hop’d the theft was hidden.

  His conscience slept a day or two,
  As it is very apt to do
    When we with pain suppress it;
  And though at times a slight remorse
  Would raise a pang, it had not force
    To make him yet confess it.

  When on a day, as he abroad
  Walk’d by his mother, in their road
    He heard a sky-lark singing;
  Smit with the sound, a flood of tears
  Proclaim’d the superstitious fears
    His inmost bosom wringing.

  His mother, wond’ring, saw him cry,
  And fondly ask’d the reason why;
    Then Richard made confession,
  And said, he fear’d the little bird
  He singing in the air had heard
    Was telling his transgression.

  The words which Richard spoke below,
  As sounds by nature upwards go,
    Were to the sky-lark carried;
  The airy traveller with surprise
  To hear his sayings, in the skies
    On his mid journey tarried.

  His anger then the bird exprest: 
  “Sure, since the day I left the nest,
    I ne’er heard folly utter’d
  So fit to move a sky-lark’s mirth,
  As what this little son of earth
    Hath in his grossness mutter’d.

  “Dull fool! to think we sons of air
  On man’s low actions waste a care,
    His virtues or his vices;
  Or soaring on the summer gales,
  That we should stoop to carry tales
    Of him or his devices!

  “Our songs are all of the delights
  We find in our wild airy flights,
    And heavenly exaltation;
  The earth you mortals have at heart
  Is all too gross to have a part
    In sky-lark’s conversation.

  “Unless it be in what green field
  Or meadow we our nest may build,
    Midst flowering broom, or heather;
  From whence our new-fledg’d offspring may
  With least obstruction wing their way
    Up to the walks of ether.

  “Mistaken fool! man needs not us
  His secret merits to discuss,
    Or spy out his transgression;
  When once he feels his conscience stirr’d,
  That voice within him is the bird
    That moves him to confession.”



  When beasts by words their meanings could declare,
  Some well-drest men and women did repair
  To gaze upon two monkeys at a fair: 

  And one who was the spokesman in the place
  Said, in their count’nance you might plainly trace
  The likeness of a wither’d old man’s face.

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