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The last essays of Elia online

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242 ^\it ^n^i (^^mp Of (glia.

tions we should be sorry if certain restrict-
ive regulations, which are thought to bear
hard upon the peasantry of this country,
were entirely done away with. A hare, as
the law now stands, makes many friends.
Cains conciliates Titius (knowing his f/odt)
with a leash of partridges. Titius (suspect-
ing his partiality for them) passes them to
Lucius; who in his turn, preferring his
friend's relish to his own, makes them over
to Marcius; till in their ever-widening
progress and round of unconscious circum-
migration, they distribute the seeds of har-
mony over half a parish. We are well dis-
posed to this kind of sensible remembrances ;
and are the less apt to be taken by those
little airy tokens — impalpable to the jialate
— which, under the names of rings, lock-
ets, keepsakes, amuse some people's fancy
mightily. We could never away with these
indigestible trifles. They are the very kick-
shaws and foppery of friendship.



Homes there are, we are sure, that are no
homes ; the home of the very poor man,
and another which we shall speak to pres-
ently. Crowded places of cheap entertain-

m\t i;a,$t (^m\3^ ot (SUa. 243

ment, and the benches of ale-houses, if they
€ould si^eak, might bear mournful testimony
to the first. To them the very poor man
resorts for an image of the home which he
cannot find at home. For a starved grate,
and a scanty firing, that is not enough to
keep alive the natural heat in the fingers
of so many shivering children with their
mother, he finds in the depths of winter
always a blazing hearth, and a hob to warm
his pittance of beer by. Instead of the
clamors of a wife, made gaunt by famish-
ing, he meets with a cheerful attendance be-
yond the merits of the trifle which he can
afford to spend. He lias companions Avhicli
his home denies him, for the verj^ poor man
has no visitors. lie can look into the go-
ings on of the world, and speak a little to
p)olitics. At home there are no politics stir-
ring, but the domestic. All interests, real
or imaginary, all topics that should expand
the mind of man, and connect him to a sym-
pathy with general existence, are crushed in
the absorbing consideration of food to be ob-
tained for the family. Beyond the price of
bread, news is senseless and impertinent.
At home there is no larder. Here there
is at least a show of plenty ; and Avhilo
he cooks his lean scrap of butcher's meat
before the common bars, or munches his
humbler cold viands, his relishing bread
and cheese with an onion, in a corner, where
no one reflects upon his poverty, he has a

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Online LibraryCharles LambThe last essays of Elia → online text (page 14 of 15)