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.
I missed him all day long, and knew not till then how much I had loved him.  I missed his kindness, and I missed his crossness, and wished him to be alive again, to be quarrelling with him (for we quarreled sometimes), rather than not have him again, and was as uneasy without him, as he their poor uncle must have been when the doctor took off his limb.  Here the children fell a crying, and asked if their little mourning which they had on was not for uncle John, and they looked up, and prayed me not to go on about their uncle, but to tell them some stories about their pretty dead mother.  Then I told how for seven long years, in hope sometimes, sometimes in despair, yet persisting ever, I courted the fair Alice W—­n; and, as much as children could understand, I explained to them what coyness, and difficulty, and denial meant in maidens—­when suddenly, turning to Alice, the soul of the first Alice looked out at her eyes with such a reality of re-presentment, that I became in doubt which of them stood there before me, or whose that bright hair was; and while I stood gazing, both the children gradually grew fainter to my view, receding, and still receding till nothing at last but two mournful features were seen in the uttermost distance, which, without speech, strangely impressed upon me the effects of speech; “We are not of Alice, nor of thee, nor are we children at all.  The children of Alice called Bartrum father.  We are nothing; less than nothing, and dreams.  We are only what might have been, and must wait upon the tedious shores of Lethe millions of ages before we have existence, and a name”—­and immediately awaking, I found myself quietly seated in my bachelor arm-chair, where I had fallen asleep, with the faithful Bridget unchanged by my side—­but John L. (or James Elia) was gone for ever.

DISTANT CORRESPONDENTS

IN A LETTER TO B.F.  ESQ.  AT SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES

My dear F.—­When I think how welcome the sight of a letter from the world where you were born must be to you in that strange one to which you have been transplanted, I feel some compunctious visitings at my long silence.  But, indeed, it is no easy effort to set about a correspondence at our distance.  The weary world of waters between us oppresses the imagination.  It is difficult to conceive how a scrawl of mine should ever stretch across it.  It is a sort of presumption to expect that one’s thoughts should live so far.  It is like writing for posterity; and reminds me of one of Mrs. Rowe’s superscriptions, “Alcander to Strephon, in the shades.”  Cowley’s Post-Angel is no more than would be expedient in such an intercourse.  One drops a packet at Lombard-street, and in twenty-four hours a friend in Cumberland gets it as fresh as if it came in ice.  It is only like whispering through a long trumpet.  But suppose a tube let down from the moon, with yourself at one end, and the man at the other; it would be some balk to the spirit of conversation, if you knew that the dialogue exchanged with that interesting theosophist would take two or three revolutions of a higher luminary in its passage.  Yet for aught I know, you may be some parasangs nigher that primitive idea—­Plato’s man—­than we in England here have the honour to reckon ourselves.

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