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.
perhaps to have consulted that gentleman, before he sent these incondite reminiscences to press.  But the worthy sub-treasurer—­who respects his old and his new masters—­would but have been puzzled at the indecorous liberties of Elia.  The good man wots not, peradventure, of the license which Magazines have arrived at in this plain-speaking age, or hardly dreams of their existence beyond the Gentleman’s—­his furthest monthly excursions in this nature having been long confined to the holy ground of honest Urban’s obituary.  May it be long before his own name shall help to swell those columns of unenvied flattery!—­Meantime, O ye New Benchers of the Inner Temple, cherish him kindly, for he is himself the kindliest of human creatures.  Should infirmities over-take him—­he is yet in green and vigorous senility—­make allowances for them, remembering that “ye yourselves are old.”  So may the Winged Horse, your ancient badge and cognisance, still flourish! so may future Hookers and Seldens illustrate your church and chambers! so may the sparrows, in default of more melodious quiristers, unpoisoned hop about your walks! so may the fresh-coloured and cleanly nursery maid, who, by leave, airs her playful charge in your stately gardens, drop her prettiest blushing curtsy as ye pass, reductive of juvenescent emotion! so may the younkers of this generation eye you, pacing your stately terrace, with the same superstitious veneration, with which the child Elia gazed on the Old Worthies that solemnized the parade before ye!

[Footnote 1:  From a copy of verses entitled The Garden.]

GRACE BEFORE MEAT

The custom of saying grace at meals had, probably, its origin in the early times of the world, and the hunter-state of man, when dinners were precarious things, and a full meal was something more than a common blessing; when a belly-full was a windfall, and looked like a special providence.  In the shouts and triumphal songs with which, after a season of sharp abstinence, a lucky booty of deer’s or goat’s flesh would naturally be ushered home, existed, perhaps, the germ of the modern grace.  It is not otherwise easy to be understood, why the blessing of food—­the act of eating—­should have had a particular expression of thanksgiving annexed to it, distinct from that implied and silent gratitude with which we are expected to enter upon the enjoyment of the many other various gifts and good things of existence.

I own that I am disposed to say grace upon twenty other occasions in the course of the day besides my dinner.  I want a form for setting out upon a pleasant walk, for a moonlight ramble, for a friendly meeting, or a solved problem.  Why have we none for books, those spiritual repasts—­a grace before Milton—­a grace before Shakspeare—­a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading the Fairy Queen?—­but, the received ritual having prescribed these forms to the solitary ceremony of manducation, I shall confine my observations to the experience which I have had of the grace, properly so called; commending my new scheme for extension to a niche in the grand philosophical, poetical, and perchance in part heretical, liturgy, now compiling by my friend Homo Humanus, for the use of a certain snug congregation of Utopian Rabelaesian Christians, no matter where assembled.

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