The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 713 pages of information about The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2.
dreams seem no ill introduction to that spiritual presence, upon which, in no long time, we expect to be thrown.  We are trying to know a little of the usages of that colony; to learn the language, and the faces we shall meet with there, that we may be the less awkward at our first coming among them.  We willingly call a phantom our fellow, as knowing we shall soon be of their dark companionship.  Therefore, we cherish dreams.  We try to spell in them the alphabet of the invisible world; and think we know already, how it shall be with us.  Those uncouth shapes, which, while we clung to flesh and blood, affrighted us, have become familiar.  We feel attenuated into their meagre essences, and have given the hand of half-way approach to incorporeal being.  We once thought life to be something; but it has unaccountably fallen from us before its time.  Therefore we choose to dally with visions.  The sun has no purposes of ours to light us to.  Why should we get up?


We could never quite understand the philosophy of this arrangement, or the wisdom of our ancestors in sending us for instruction to these woolly bedfellows.  A sheep, when it is dark, has nothing to do but to shut his silly eyes, and sleep if he can.  Man found out long sixes.—­Hail candle-light! without disparagement to sun or moon, the kindliest luminary of the three—­if we may not rather style thee their radiant deputy, mild viceroy of the moon!—­We love to read, talk, sit silent, eat, drink, sleep, by candle-light.  They are every body’s sun and moon.  This is our peculiar and household planet.  Wanting it, what savage unsocial nights must our ancestors have spent, wintering in caves and unillumined fastnesses!  They must have lain about and grumbled at one another in the dark.  What repartees could have passed, when you must have felt about for a smile, and handled a neighbour’s cheek to be sure that he understood it?  This accounts for the seriousness of the elder poetry.  It has a sombre cast (try Hesiod or Ossian), derived from the tradition of those unlantern’d nights.  Jokes came in with candles.  We wonder how they saw to pick up a pin, if they had any.  How did they sup? what a melange of chance carving they must have made of it!—­here one had got a leg of a goat, when he wanted a horse’s shoulder—­there another had dipt his scooped palm in a kid-skin of wild honey, when he meditated right mare’s milk.  There is neither good eating nor drinking in fresco.  Who, even in these civilised times, has never experienced this, when at some economic table he has commenced dining after dusk, and waited for the flavour till the lights came?  The senses absolutely give and take reciprocally.  Can you tell pork from veal in the dark? or distinguish Sherris from pure Malaga?  Take away the candle from the smoking man; by the glimmering of the left ashes, he knows that he is still smoking, but he knows

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The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 2 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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