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Ash Wednesday, being now called upon for a song,
with his eyes fast stuck in his head, and as well as
the Canary he had swallowed would give him leave,
struck up a Carol which Christmas Day had taught
him for the nonce ; and was followed by the latter,
who gave " Miserere " in fine style, hitting off the
mumping notes and lengthened drawl of Old Morti-
fication with infinite humour. April Fool swore they
had exchanged conditions : but Good Friday was
observed to look extremely grave ; and Sunday held
her fan before her face, that she might not be seen
to smile.

Shrove-tide, Lord Mayor's Day, and April Fool,
next joined in a glee

Which is the properest day to drink?

in which all the Days chiming in, made a merry

They next fell to quibbles and conundrums. The
question being proposed, who had the greatest
number of followers the Quarter Days said, there
could be no question as to that; for they had all
the creditors in the world dogging their heels. But
April Fool gave it in favour of the Forty Days before
Easter; because the debtors in all cases outnum-


bered the creditors, and they kept lent all the

All this while, Valentine's Day kept courting pretty
May, who sate next him, slipping amorous billets-
doux under the table, till the Dog Days (who are
naturally of a warm constitution) began to be jealous,
and to bark and rage exceedingly. April Fool, who
likes a bit of sport above measure, and had some
pretensions to the lady besides, as being but a
cousin once removed, clapped and halloo'd them
on ; and as fast as their indignation cooled, those
mad wags, the Ember Days, were at it with their
bellows, to blow it into a flame ; and all was in a
ferment : till old Madam Septuagesima (who boasts
herself the Mother of the Days) wisely diverted the
conversation with a tedious tale of the lovers which
she could reckon when she was young ; and of one
Master Rogation Day in particular, who was for ever
putting the question to her; but she kept him at
a distance, as the chronicle would tell by which
I apprehend she meant the Almanack. Then she
rambled on to the Days that were gone, the good old
Days, and so to the Days before the Flood which
plainly showed her old head to be little better than
crazed and doited.

Day being ended, the Days called for their cloaks
and great coats, and took their leaves. Lord Mayor's
Day went off in a Mist, as usual ; Shortest Day in a


deep black Fog, that wrapt the little gentleman all
round like a hedge-hog. Two Vigils so watchmen
are called in heaven saw Christmas Day safe
home they had been used to the business before.
Another Vigil a stout, sturdy patrole, called the
Eve of St. Christopher seeing Ash Wednesday in
a condition little better than he should be e'en
whipt him over his shoulders, pick-a-back fashion,
and Old Mortification went floating home, singing

On the bat's back do I fly,

and a number of old snatches besides, between drunk
and sober, but very few Aves or Penitentiaries (you
may believe me) were among them. Longest Day
set off westward in beautiful crimson and gold
the rest, some in one fashion, some in another ; but
Valentine and pretty May took their departure to-
gether in one of the prettiest silvery twilights a
Lover's Day could wish to set in.


I DO not know when I have been better pleased than
at being invited last week to be present at the wed-
ding of a friend's daughter. I like to make one at
these ceremonies, which to us old people give back
our youth in a manner, and restore our gayest sea-
son, in the remembrance of our own success, or the
regrets, scarcely less tender, of our own youthful dis-
appointments, in this point of a settlement. On
these occasions I am sure to be in good-humour for
a week or two after, and enjoy a reflected honey-
moon. Being without a family, I am flattered with
these temporary adoptions into a friend's family; I
feel a sort of cousinhood, or uncleship, for the sea-
son ; I am inducted into degrees of affinity ; and,
in the participated socialities of the little community,
I lay down for a brief while my solitary bachelor-
ship. I carry this humour so far, that I take it un-
kindly to be left out, even when a funeral is going
on in the house cf a dear friend. But to my


The union itself had been long settled, but its
celebration had been hitherto Deferred, to an almost
unreasonable state of suspense in the lovers, by some
invincible prejudices which the bride's father had
unhappily contracted upon the subject of the too
early marriages of females. He has been lecturing
any time these five years for to that length the
courtship has been protracted upon the propriety
of putting off the solemnity, till the lady should have
completed her five and twentieth year. We all be-
gan to be afraid that a suit, which as yet had abated
of none of its ardours, might at last be lingered on,
till passion had time to cool, and love go out in the
experiment. But a little wheedling on the part of
his wife, who was by no means a party to these over-
strained notions, joined to some serious expostula-
tions on that of his friends, who, from the growing
infirmities of the old gentleman, could not promise
ourselves many years' enjoyment of his company,
and were anxious to bring matters to a conclusion
during his life-time, at length prevailed ; and on
Monday last the daughter of my old friend, Admiral
having attained the womanly age of nine-
teen, was conducted to the church by her pleasant
cousin J , who told some few years older.

Before the youthful part of my female readers
express their indignation at the abominable loss of
time occasioned to the lovers by the preposterous


notions of my old friend, they will do well to con-
sider the reluctance which a fond parent naturally
feels at parting with his child. To this unwillingness,
I believe, in most cases may be traced the difference
of opinion on this point between child and parent,
whatever pretences of interest or prudence may be
held out to cover it. The hardheartedness of fathers
is a fine theme for romance writers, a sure and mov-
ing topic ; but is there not something untender, to
say no more of it, in the hurry which a beloved child
is sometimes in to tear herself from the parental
stock, and commit herself to strange graftings? The
case is heightened where the lady, as in the present
instance, happens to be an only child. I do not
understand these matters experimentally, but I can
make a shrewd guess at the wounded pride of a
parent upon these occasions. It is no new ob-
servation, I believe, that a lover in most cases has
no rival so much to be feared as the father. Cer-
tainly there is a jealousy in unparallel subjects, which
is little less heart-rending than the passion which
we more strictly christen by that name. Mothers'
scruples are more easily got over ; for this reason, I
suppose, that the protection transferred to a hus-
band is less a derogation and a loss to their au-
thority than to the paternal. Mothers, besides,
have a trembling foresight, which paints the incon-
veniences (impossible to be conceived in the same


degree by the other parent) of a life of forlorn
celibacy, which the refusal of a tolerable match may
entail upon their child. Mothers' instinct is a surer
guide here, than the cold reasonings of a father on
such a topic. To this instinct may be imputed, and
by it alone may be excused, the unbeseeming arti-
fices, by which some wives push on the matrimonial
projects of their daughters, which the husband, how-
ever approving, shall entertain with comparative in-
difference. A little shamelessness on this head is
pardonable. With this explanation, forwardness be-
comes a grace, and maternal importunity receives
the name of a virtue. But the parson stays, while
I preposterously assume his office ; I am preaching,
while the bride is on the threshold.

Nor let any of my female readers suppose that the
sage reflections which have just escaped me have the
obliquest tendency of application to the young lady,
who, it will be seen, is about to venture upon a
change in her condition, at a mature and competent
age, and not without the fullest approbation of all
parties. I only deprecate very hasty marriages.

It had been fixed that the ceremony should be
gone through at an early hour, to give time for a
little dejeune afterwards, to which a select party of
friends had been invited. We were in church a little
before the clock struck eight.

Nothing could be more judicious or graceful than


the dress of the bride-maids the three charming
Miss Foresters on this morning. To give the
bride an opportunity of shining singly, they had
come habited all in green. I am ill at describing
female apparel ; but, while she stood at the altar in
vestments white and candid as her thoughts, a sacri-
ficial whiteness, they assisted in robes, such as might
become Diana's nymphs Foresters indeed as
such who had not yet come to the resolution of
putting off cold virginity. These young maids, not
being so blest as to have a mother living, I am told,
keep single for their father's sake, and live all to-
gether so happy with their remaining parent, that
the hearts of their lovers are ever broken with the
prospect (so inauspicious to their hopes) of such
uninterrupted and provoking home-comfort. Gal-
lant girls ! each a victim worthy of Iphigenia !

I do not know what business I have to be present
in solemn places. I cannot divest me of an unsea-
sonable disposition to levity upon the most awful
occasions. I was never cut out for a public func-
tionary. Ceremony and I have long shaken hands ;
but I could not resist the importunities of the young
lady's father, whose gout unhappily confined him
at home, to act as parent on this occasion, and give
away the bride. Something ludicrous occurred to
me at this most serious of all moments a sense of
my unfitness to have the disposal, even in imagina-


tion, of the sweet young creature beside me. I
fear I was betrayed to some lightness, for the awful
eye of the parson and the rector's eye of Saint
Mildred's in the Poultry is no trifle of a rebuke
was upon me in an instant, souring my incipient
jest to the tristful severities of a funeral.

This was the only misbehaviour which I can plead
to upon this solemn occasion, unless what was ob-
jected to me after the ceremony by one of the

handsome Miss T s, be accounted a solecism.

She was pleased to say that she had never seen a
gentleman before me give away a bride in black.
Now black has been my ordinary apparel so long
indeed I take it to be the proper costume of an
author the stage sanctions it that to have ap-
peared in some lighter colour would have raised
more mirth at my expense, than the anomaly had
created censure. But I could perceive that the
bride's mother, and some elderly ladies present (God
bless them !) would have been well content, if I had
come in any other colour than that. But I got over
the omen by a lucky apologue, which I remembered
out of Pilpay, or some Indian author, of all the birds
being invited to the linnets' wedding, at which, when
all the rest came in their gayest feathers, the raven
alone apologised for his cloak because " he had no
other." This tolerably reconciled the elders. But
with the young people all was merriment, and shak-


ings of hands, and congratulations, and kissing away
the bride's tears, and kissings from her in return, till
a young lady, who assumed some experience in these
matters, having worn the nuptial bands some four or
five weeks longer than her friend, rescued her, archly
observing, with half an eye upon the bridegroom,
that at this rate she would have "none left."

My friend the admiral was in fine wig and buckle
on this occasion a striking contrast to his usual
neglect of personal appearance. He did not once
shove up his borrowed locks (his custom ever at his
morning studies) to betray the few gray stragglers
of his own beneath them. He wore an aspect of
thoughtful satisfaction. I trembled for the hour,
which at length approached, when after a protracted
breakfast of three hours if stores of cold fowls,
tongues, hams, botargoes, dried fruits, wines, cor-
dials, &c., can deserve so meagre an appellation
the coach was announced, which was come to carry
off the bride and bridegroom for a season, as custom
has sensibly ordained, into the country ; upon which
design, wishing them a felicitous journey, let us re-
turn to the assembled guests.

As when a well-graced actor leaves the stage,

The eyes of men

Are idly bent on him that enters next,

so idly did we bend our eyes upon one another,
when the chief performers in the morning's pageant


had vanished. None told his tale. None sipt her
glass. The poor Admiral made an effort it was
not much. I had anticipated so far. Even the
infinity of full satisfaction, that had betrayed itself
through the prim looks and quiet deportment of his
lady, began to wane into something of misgiving.
No one knew whether to take their leaves or stay.
We seemed assembled upon a silly occasion. In
this crisis, betwixt tarrying and departure, I must
do justice to a foolish talent of mine, which had
otherwise like to have brought me into disgrace in
the fore-part of the day; I mean a power, in any
emergency, of thinking and giving vent to all manner
of strange nonsense. In this awkward dilemma I
found it sovereign. I rattled off some of my most
excellent absurdities. All were willing to be relieved,
at any expense of reason, from the pressure of the
intolerable vacuum which had succeeded to the
morning bustle. By this means I was fortunate in
keeping together the better part of the company to
a late hour : and a rubber of whist (the Admiral's
favourite game) with some rare strokes of chance
as well as skill, which came opportunely on his side
lengthened out till midnight dismissed the old
gentleman at last to his bed with comparatively easy

I have been at my old friend's various times since.
I do not know a visiting place where every guest


is so perfectly at his ease nowhere, where harmony
is so strangely the result of confusion. Every body is
at cross purposes, yet the effect is so much betttr
than uniformity. Contradictory orders; servants
pulling one way ; master and mistress driving some
other, yet both diverse ; visitors huddled up in cor-
ners ; chairs unsymmetrised : candles disposed by
chance ; meals at odd hours, tea and supper at
once, or the latter preceding the former j the host
and the guest conferring, yet each upon a different
topic, each understanding himself, neither trying to
understand or hear the other ; draughts and politics,
chess and political economy, cards and conversation
on nautical matters, going on at once, without the
hope, or indeed the wish, of distinguishing them,
make it altogether the most perfect concordia discors
you shall meet with. Yet somehow the old house
is not quite what it should be. The Admiral still
enjoys his pipe, but he has no Miss Emily to fill it
for him. The instrument stands where it stood, but
she is gone, whose delicate touch could sometimes
for a short minute appease the warring elements.
He has learnt, as Marvel expresses it, to " make his
destiny his choice." He bears bravely up, but he
does not come out with his flashes of wild wit so
thick as formerly. His sea songs seldomer escape
him. His wife, too, looks as if she wanted some
younger body to scold and set to rights. We all


miss a junior presence. It is wonderful how one
young maiden freshens up, and keeps green, the
paternal roof. Old and young seem to have an
interest in her, so long as she is not absolutely dis-
posed of. The youthfulness of the house is flown.
Emily is married.



I CHANCED upon the prettiest, oddest, fantastical
thing of a dream the other night, that you shall hear
of. I had been reading the " Loves of the Angels,"
and went to bed with my head full of speculations,
suggested by that extraordinary legend. It had
given birth to innumerable conjectures; and, I re-
member, the last waking thought, which I gave ex-
pression to on my pillow, was a sort of wonder,
"what could come of it."

I was suddenly transported, how or whither I could
scarcely make out but to some celestial region.
It was not the real heavens neither not the down-
right Bible heaven but a kind of fairyland heaven,
about which a poor human fancy may have leave to
sport and air itself, I will hope, without presumption.

Methought what wild things dreams are ! I
was present at what would you imagine ? at an
angel's gossiping.

Whence it came, or how it came, or who bid it
come, or whether it came purely of its own head,


neither you nor I know but there lay, sure enough,
wrapt in its little cloudy swaddling bands a Child

Sun -threads filmy beams ran through the ce-
lestial napery of what seemed its princely cradle.
All the winged orders hovered round, watching when
the new-born should open its yet closed eyes ; which,
when it did, first one, and then the other with a
solicitude and apprehension, yet not such as, stained
with fear, dims the expanding eye-lids of mortal
infants, but as if to explore its path in those its un-
hereditary palaces what an inextinguishable titter
that time spared not celestial visages ! Nor wanted
there to my seeming O the inexplicable simpleness
of dreams ! bowls of that cheering nectar,

which mortals caudle call below

Nor were wanting faces of female ministrants,
stricken in years, as it might seem, so dexterous
were those heavenly attendants to counterfeit kindly
similitudes of earth, to greet, with terrestrial child-
rites the young present, which earth had made to

Then were celestial harpings heard, not in full
symphony as those by which the spheres are tu-
tored ; but, as loudest instruments on earth speak
oftentimes, muffled ; so to accommodate their sound
the better to the weak ears of the imperfect-born.


And, with the noise of those subdued soundings, the
Angelet sprang forth, flutteriug its rudiments of
pinions but forthwith flagged and was recovered
into the arms of those full-winged angels. And a
wonder it was to see how, as years went round in
heaven a year in dreams is as a day continually
its white shoulders put forth buds of wings, but,
wanting the perfect angelic nutriment, anon was
shorn of its aspiring, and fell fluttering still caught
by angel hands for ever to put forth shoots, and
to fall fluttering, because its birth was not of the
unmixed vigour of heaven.

And a name was given to the Babe Angel, and
it was to be called Ge- Urania, because its produc-
tion was of earth and heaven.

And it could not taste of death, by reason of its
adoption into immortal palaces : but it was to know
weakness, and reliance, and the shadow of human
imbecility ; and it went with a lame gait ; but in its
goings it exceeded all mortal children in grace and
swiftness. Then pity first sprang up in angelic
bosoms; and yearnings (like the human) touched
them at the sight of the immortal lame one.

And with pain did then first those Intuitive Es-
sences, with pain and strife to their natures (not
grief), put back their bright intelligences, and re-
duce their ethereal minds, schooling them to degrees
and slower processes, so to adapt their lessons to


the gradual illumination (as must needs be) of the
half-earth-born ; and what intuitive notices they
could not repel (by reason that their nature is, to
know all things at once), the half-heavenly novice,
by the better part of its nature, aspired to receive
into its understanding ; so that Humility and Aspi-
ration went on even-paced in the instruction of the
glorious Amphibium.

But, by reason that Mature Humanity is too gross
to breathe the air of that super-subtile region, its
portion was, and is, to be a child for ever.

And because the human part of it might not press
into the heart and inwards of the palace of its adop-
tion, those full-natured angels tended it by turns in
the purlieus of the palace, where were shady groves
and rivulets, like this green earth from which it
came : so Love, with Voluntary Humility, waited
upon the entertainment of the new-adopted.

And myriads of years rolled round (in dreams
Time is nothing), and still it kept, and is to keep,
perpetual childhood, and is the Tutelar Genius of
Childhood upon earth, and still goes lame and

By the banks of the river Pison is seen, lone-
sitting by the grave of the terrestrial Adah, whom
the angel Nadir loved, a Child ; but not the same
which I saw in heaven. A mournful hue overcasts
its lineaments; nevertheless, a correspondency is


between the child by the grave, and that celestial
orphan, whom I saw above ; and the dimness of the
grief upon the heavenly, is as a shadow or emblem
of that which stains the beauty of the terrestrial.
And this correspondency is not to be understood
but by dreams.

And in the archives of heaven I had grace to read,
how that once the angel Nadir, being exiled from his
place for mortal passion, upspringing on the wings
of parental love (such power had parental love for
a moment to suspend the else-irrevocable law) ap-
peared for a brief instant in his station ; and, de-
positing a wondrous Birth, straightway disappeared,
and the palaces knew him no more. And this
charge was the self- same Babe, who goeth lame and
lovely but Adah sleepeth by the river Pison.



I CALLED upon you this morning, and found that
you were gone to visit a dying friend. I had been
upon a like errand. Poor N. R. has lain dying now
for almost a week ; such is the penalty we pay for
having enjoyed through life a strong constitution.
Whether he knew me or not, I know not, or whether
he saw me through his poor glazed eyes ; but the
group I saw about him I shall not forget. Upon
the bed, or about it, were assembled his Wife, their
two Daughters, and poor deaf Robert, looking doubly
stupified. There they were, and seemed to have
been sitting all the week. I could only reach out a
hand to Mrs. R. Speaking was impossible in that
mute chamber. By this time it must be all over
with him. In him I have a loss the world cannot
make up. He was my friend, and my father's friend,
for all the life that I can remember. I seem to
have made foolish friendships since. Those are
the friendships, which outlast a second generation.


Old as 1 am getting, in his eyes I was still the child
he knew me. To the last he called me Jemmy. I
have none to call me Jemmy now. He was the last
link that bound me to B . You are but of yes-
terday. In him I seem to have lost the old plain-
ness of manners and singleness of heart. Lettered
he was not ; his reading scarcely exceeded the
Obituary of the old Gentleman's Magazine, to which
he has never failed of having recourse for these last
fifty years. Yet there was the pride of literature
about him from that slender perusal ; and moreover
from his office of archive-keeper to your ancient
city, in which he must needs pick up some equivocal
Latin; which, among his less literary friends, as-
sumed the air of a very pleasant pedantry. Can I
forget the erudite look with which, having tried to
puzzle out the text of a Black lettered Chaucer in
your Corporation Library, to which he was a sort of
Librarian, he gave it up with this consolatory re-
flection "Jemmy," said he "I do not know what
you find in these very old books, but I observe,
there is a deal of very indifferent spelling in them."
His jokes (for he had some) are ended ; but they
were old Perennials, staple, and always as good as
new. He had one Song, that spake of the " flat
bottoms of our foes coming over in darkness," and
alluded to a threatened Invasion, many years since
blown over ; this he reserved to be sung on Christ-


mas Night, which we always passed with him, and
he sang it with the freshness of an impending event.
How his eyes would sparkle when he came to the
passage :

We 'II still make 'em run, and we '11 still make 'em sweat,
In spite of the devil and Brussels' Gazette !

What is the Brussels' Gazette now? I cry, while I

Online LibraryCharles LambCharles Lamb's essays → online text (page 28 of 32)