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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb Volume 2.
It is the refreshing sleep of the day.  The growing infirmities of age manifest themselves in nothing more strongly, than in an inveterate dislike of interruption.  The thing which we are doing, we wish to be permitted to do.  We have neither much knowledge nor devices; but there are fewer in the place to which we hasten.  We are not willingly put out of our way, even at a game of nine-pins.  While youth was, we had vast reversions in time future; we are reduced to a present pittance, and obliged to economise in that article.  We bleed away our moments now as hardly as our ducats.  We cannot bear to have our thin wardrobe eaten and fretted into by moths.  We are willing to barter our good time with a friend, who gives us in exchange his own.  Herein is the distinction between the genuine guest and the visitant.  This latter takes your good time, and gives you his bad in exchange.  The guest is domestic to you as your good cat, or household bird; the visitant is your fly, that flaps in at your window, and out again, leaving nothing but a sense of disturbance, and victuals spoiled.  The inferior functions of life begin to move heavily.  We cannot concoct our food with interruptions.  Our chief meal, to be nutritive, must be solitary.  With difficulty we can eat before a guest; and never understood what the relish of public feasting meant.  Meats have no sapor, nor digestion fair play, in a crowd.  The unexpected coming in of a visitant stops the machine.  There is a punctual generation who time their calls to the precise commencement of your dining-hour—­not to eat—­but to see you eat.  Our knife and fork drop instinctively, and we feel that we have swallowed our latest morsel.  Others again show their genius, as we have said, in knocking the moment you have just sat down to a book.  They have a peculiar compassionating sneer, with which they “hope that they do not interrupt your studies.”  Though they flutter off the next moment, to carry their impertinences to the nearest student that they can call their friend, the tone of the book is spoiled; we shut the leaves, and, with Dante’s lovers, read no more that day.  It were well if the effect of intrusion were simply co-extensive with its presence; but it mars all the good hours afterwards.  These scratches in appearance leave an orifice that closes not hastily.  “It is a prostitution of the bravery of friendship,” says worthy Bishop Taylor, “to spend it upon impertinent people, who are, it may be, loads to their families, but can never ease my loads.”  This is the secret of their gaddings, their visits, and morning calls.  They too have homes, which are—­no homes.

XIII.—­THAT YOU MUST LOVE ME, AND LOVE MY DOG

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