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.

  Falsehood is not shy, not she,—­
    Ever ready to take place of
  Truth, too oft we Falsehood see,
    Or at least some latent trace of
  Falsehood, in the incorrect
  Words of those who Truth respect.


  O why your good deeds with such pride do you scan,
    And why that self-satisfied smile
  At the shilling you gave to the poor working man,
    That lifted you over the stile?

  ’Tis not much; all the bread that can with it be bought
    Will scarce give a morsel to each
  Of his eight hungry children;—­reflection and thought
    Should you more humility teach.

  Vain glory’s a worm which the very best action
    Will taint, and its soundness eat thro’;
  But to give one’s self airs for a small benefaction,
    Is folly and vanity too.

  The money perhaps by your father or mother
    Was furnish’d you but with that view;
  If so, you were only the steward of another,
    And the praise you usurp is their due.

  Perhaps every shilling you give in this way
    Is paid back with two by your friends;
  Then the bounty you so ostentatious display,
    Has little and low selfish ends.

  But if every penny you gave were your own,
    And giving diminish’d your purse;
  By a child’s slender means think how little is done,
    And how little for it you’re the worse.

  You eat, and you drink; when you rise in the morn,
    You are cloth’d; you have health and content;
  And you never have known, from the day you were born,
    What hunger or nakedness meant.

  The most which your bounty from you can subtract
    Is an apple, a sweetmeat, a toy;
  For so easy a virtue, so trifling an act,
    You are paid with an innocent joy.

  Give thy bread to the hungry, the thirsty thy cup;
    Divide with th’ afflicted thy lot: 
  This can only be practis’d by persons grown up,
    Who’ve possessions which children have not.

  Having two cloaks, give one (said our Lord) to the poor;
    In such bounty as that lies the trial: 
  But a child that gives half of its infantile store
    Has small praise, because small self-denial.


  A dozen years since in this house what commotion,
    What bustle, what stir, and what joyful ado;
  Ev’ry soul in the family at my devotion,
    When into the world I came twelve years ago.

  I’ve been told by my friends (if they do not belie me)
    My promise was such as no parent would scorn;
  The wise and the aged who prophesied by me,
    Augur’d nothing but good of me when I was born.

  But vain are the hopes which are form’d by a parent,
    Fallacious the marks which in infancy shine;
  My frail constitution soon made it apparent,
    I nourish’d within me the seeds of decline.

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