Charles Lamb.

The Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 Books for Children online

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The present volume contains all the stories and verses for children
which we know Charles and Mary Lamb to have written. The text is that
of the first or second editions, as explained in the Notes. _The
Poetry for Children_ and _Prince Dorus_ have been set up from the late
Andrew W. Tuer's facsimiles. The large edition of this volume contains
all the original pictures, together with the apochryphal _Beauty and
the Beast_.

In Mr. Bedford's design for the cover of this edition certain Elian
symbolism will be found. The upper coat of arms is that of Christ's
Hospital, where Lamb was at school; the lower is that of the Inner
Temple, where he was born and spent many years. The figures at the
bells are those which once stood out from the façade of St. Dunstan's
Church in Fleet Street, and are now in Lord Londesborough's garden in
Regent's Park. Lamb shed tears when they were removed. The tricksy
sprite and the candles (brought by Betty) need no explanatory words of




Preface 1
The Tempest 3
A Midsummer Night's Dream 13
The Winter's Tale 23
Much Ado About Nothing 33
As You Like It 44
The Two Gentlemen of Verona 58
The Merchant of Venice 69
Cymbeline 81
King Lear 92
Macbeth 106
All's Well that Ends Well 115
The Taming of the Shrew 126
The Comedy of Errors 136
Measure for Measure 148
Twelfth Night; or, What You Will 161
Timon of Athens 173
Romeo and Juliet 184
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark 199
Othello 213
Pericles, Prince of Tyre 225


Preface 240
CHAPTER I. The Cicons - The fruit of the lotos tree - Polyphemus
and the Cyclops - The kingdom of the winds, and god
Æolus's fatal present - The Læstrygonian man-eaters 241
CHAPTER II. The House of Circe - Men changed into beasts - The
voyage to hell - The banquet of the dead 250
CHAPTER III. The song of the Sirens - Scylla and Charybdis - The
oxen of the Sun - The judgment - The crew killed by lightning 262
CHAPTER IV. The Island of Calypso - Immortality refused 269
CHAPTER V. The tempest - The sea-bird's gift - The escape by
swimming - The sleep in the woods 273
CHAPTER VI. The Princess Nausicaa - The washing - The game
with the ball - The Court of Phæacia and king Alcinous. 277
CHAPTER VII. The songs of Demodocus - The convoy home - The
mariners transformed to stone - The young shepherd. 283
CHAPTER VIII. The change from a king to a beggar - Eumæus
and the herdsmen - Telemachus 290
CHAPTER IX. The queen's suitors - The battle of the beggars - The
armour taken down - The meeting with Penelope 301
CHAPTER X. The madness from above - The bow of Ulysses - The
slaughter - The conclusion 308


Dedication 316
Elizabeth Villiers: The Sailor Uncle 319
Louisa Manners: The Farm House 328
Ann Withers: The Changeling 334
Elinor Forester: The Father's Wedding Day 350
Margaret Green: The Young Mahometan 354
Emily Barton: Visit to the Cousins 360
Maria Howe: The Witch Aunt 368
Charlotte Wilmot: The Merchant's Daughter 375
Susan Yates: First Going to Church 378
Arabella Hardy: The Sea Voyage 384



Envy 404
The Reaper's Child 404
The Ride 405
The Butterfly 406
The Peach 407
Chusing a Name 408
Crumbs to the Birds 408
The Rook and the Sparrows 409
Discontent and Quarrelling 410
Repentance and Reconciliation 411
Neatness in Apparel 412
The New-born Infant 412
Motes in the Sun-beams 413
The Boy and the Snake 413
The First Tooth 415
To a River in which a Child was Drowned 416
The First of April 416
Cleanliness 417
The Lame Brother 418
Going into Breeches 419
Nursing 420
The Text 421
The End of May 422
Feigned Courage 424
The Broken Doll 425
The Duty of a Brother 426
Wasps in a Garden 427
What is Fancy? 428
Anger 429
Blindness 429
The Mimic Harlequin 430
Written in the First Leaf of a Child's Memorandum Book 430
Memory 431
The Reproof 432
The Two Bees 432
The Journey from School and to School 434
The Orange 435
The Young Letter-Writer 436
The Three Friends 437
On the Lord's Prayer 442
"Suffer little Children, and Forbid them not, to come unto Me" 443
The Magpye's Nest; or, A Lesson of Docility 445
The Boy and the Sky-lark 447
The Men and Women, and the Monkeys 449
Love, Death, and Reputation 449
The Sparrow and the Hen 450
Which is the Favourite? 451
The Beggar-Man 451
Choosing a Profession 452
Breakfast 453
Weeding 454
Parental Recollections 455
The Two Boys 455
The Offer 456
The Sister's Expostulation on the Brother's learning Latin 456
The Brother's Reply 457
Nurse Green 459
Good Temper 460
Moderation in Diet 460
Incorrect Speaking 462
Charity 462
My Birthday 463
The Beasts in the Tower 464
The Confidant 466
Thoughtless Cruelty 466
Eyes 467
Penny Pieces 468
The Rainbow 469
The Force of Habit 470
Clock Striking 470
Why not do it, Sir, To-day? 471
Home Delights 471
The Coffee Slips 472
The Dessert 473
To a Young Lady, on being too Fond of Music 474
Time Spent in Dress 475
The Fairy 476
Conquest of Prejudice 476
The Great-Grandfather 478
The Spartan Boy 479
Queen Oriana's Dream 480
On a Picture of the Finding of Moses by Pharaoh's Daughter 481
David 483
David in the Cave of Adullam 486


Summer Friends 488
A Birthday Thought 488
The Boy, the Mother, and the Butterfly 489


* * * * *




From the Painting by F.S. Cary, in 1834, now in the National Portrait


(_Written 1805-1806. First Edition 1807. Text of Second Edition 1809_)


The following Tales are meant to be submitted to the young reader as
an introduction to the study of Shakespear, for which purpose, his
words are used whenever it seemed possible to bring them in; and in
whatever has been added to give them the regular form of a connected
story, diligent care has been taken to select such words as might
least interrupt the effect of the beautiful English tongue in which
he wrote: therefore words introduced into our language since his time
have been as far as possible avoided.

In those Tales which have been taken from the Tragedies, as my young
readers will perceive when they come to see the source from which
these stories are derived, Shakespear's own words, with little
alteration, recur very frequently in the narrative as well as in the
dialogue; but in those made from the Comedies I found myself scarcely
ever able to turn his words into the narrative form; therefore I fear
in them I have made use of dialogue too frequently for young people
not used to the dramatic form of writing. But this fault, if it be as
I fear a fault, has been caused by my earnest wish to give as much of
Shakespear's own words as possible: and if the "_He said_" and "_She
said_" the question and the reply, should sometimes seem tedious to
their young ears, they must pardon it, because it was the only way I
knew of, in which I could give them a few hints and little foretastes
of the great pleasure which awaits them in their elder years, when
they come to the rich treasures from which these small and valueless
coins are extracted; pretending to no other merit than as faint and
imperfect stamps of Shakespear's matchless image. Faint and imperfect
images they must be called, because the beauty of his language is
too frequently destroyed by the necessity of changing many of his
excellent words into words far less expressive of his true sense,
to make it read something like prose; and even in some few places,
where his blank verse is given unaltered, as hoping from its simple
plainness to cheat the young readers into the belief that they are
reading prose, yet still his language being transplanted from its own
natural soil and wild poetic garden, it must want much of its native

I have wished to make these Tales easy reading for very young
children. To the utmost of my ability I have constantly kept this in
my mind; but the subjects of most of them made this a very difficult
task. It was no easy matter to give the histories of men and women in
terms familiar to the apprehension of a very young mind. For young
ladies too it has been my intention chiefly to write, because boys
are generally permitted the use of their fathers' libraries at a much
earlier age than girls are, they frequently having the best scenes of
Shakespear by heart, before their sisters are permitted to look into
this manly book; and therefore, instead of recommending these Tales to
the perusal of young gentlemen who can read them so much better in the
originals, I must rather beg their kind assistance in explaining to
their sisters such parts as are hardest for them to understand; and
when they have helped them to get over the difficulties, then perhaps
they will read to them (carefully selecting what is proper for a young
sister's ear) some passage which has pleased them in one of these
stories, in the very words of the scene from which it is taken; and I
trust they will find that the beautiful extracts, the select passages,
they may chuse to give their sisters in this way, will be much better
relished and understood from their having some notion of the general
story from one of these imperfect abridgments: - which if they be
fortunately so done as to prove delightful to any of you, my young
readers, I hope will have no worse effect upon you, than to make
you wish yourselves a little older, that you may be allowed to read
the Plays at full length (such a wish will be neither peevish nor
irrational). When time and leave of judicious friends shall put
them into your hands, you will discover in such of them as are here
abridged (not to mention almost as many more which are left untouched)
many surprising events and turns of fortune, which for their infinite
variety could not be contained in this little book, besides a world of
sprightly and cheerful characters, both men and women, the humour of
which I was fearful of losing if I attempted to reduce the length of

What these Tales have been to you in childhood, that and much more it
is my wish that the true Plays of Shakespear may prove to you in older
years - enrichers of the fancy, strengtheners of virtue, a withdrawing
from all selfish and mercenary thoughts, a lesson of all sweet and
honourable thoughts and actions, to teach you courtesy, benignity,
generosity, humanity: for of examples, teaching these virtues, his
pages are full.


(_By Mary Lamb_)

There was a certain island in the sea, the only inhabitants of which
were an old man, whose name was Prospero, and his daughter Miranda, a
very beautiful young lady. She came to this island so young, that she
had no memory of having seen any other human face than her father's.

They lived in a cave or cell, made out of a rock: it was divided into
several apartments, one of which Prospero called his study; there he
kept his books, which chiefly treated of magic, a study at that time
much affected by all learned men: and the knowledge of this art he
found very useful to him; for being thrown by a strange chance upon
this island, which had been inchanted by a witch called Sycorax, who
died there a short time before his arrival, Prospero, by virtue of his
art, released many good spirits that Sycorax had imprisoned in the
bodies of large trees, because they had refused to execute her wicked
commands. These gentle spirits were ever after obedient to the will of
Prospero. Of these Ariel was the chief.

The lively little sprite Ariel had nothing mischievous in his nature,
except that he took rather too much pleasure in tormenting an ugly
monster called Caliban, for he owed him a grudge because he was the
son of his old enemy Sycorax. This Caliban Prospero found in the
woods, a strange misshapen thing, far less human in form than an ape:
he took him home to his cell, and taught him to speak; and Prospero
would have been very kind to him, but the bad nature, which Caliban
inherited from his mother Sycorax, would not let him learn any thing
good or useful: therefore he was employed like a slave, to fetch
wood, and do the most laborious offices; and Ariel had the charge of
compelling him to these services.

When Caliban was lazy and neglected his work, Ariel (who was invisible
to all eyes but Prospero's) would come slyly and pinch him, and
sometimes tumble him down in the mire; and then Ariel, in the likeness
of an ape, would make mouths at him. Then swiftly changing his shape,
in the likeness of a hedgehog he would lie tumbling in Caliban's way,
who feared the hedgehog's sharp quills would prick his bare feet. With
a variety of such-like vexatious tricks Ariel would often torment him,
whenever Caliban neglected the work which Prospero commanded him to

Having these powerful spirits obedient to his will, Prospero could by
their means command the winds, and the waves of the sea. By his orders
they raised a violent storm, in the midst of which, and struggling
with the wild sea-waves that every moment threatened to swallow it up,
he shewed his daughter a fine large ship, which he told her was full
of living beings like themselves. "O my dear father," said she, "if by
your art you have raised this dreadful storm, have pity on their sad
distress. See! the vessel will be dashed to pieces. Poor souls! they
will all perish. If I had power, I would sink the sea beneath the
earth, rather than the good ship should be destroyed, with all the
precious souls within her."

"Be not so amazed, daughter Miranda," said Prospero; "there is no harm
done. I have so ordered it, that no person in the ship shall receive
any hurt. What I have done has been in care of you, my dear child. You
are ignorant who you are, or where you came from, and you know no more
of me, but that I am your father, and live in this poor cave. Can you
remember a time before you came to this cell? I think you cannot, for
you were not then three years of age."

"Certainly I can, sir," replied Miranda.

"By what?" asked Prospero; "by any other house or person? Tell me what
you can remember, my child."

Miranda said, "It seems to me like the recollection of a dream. But
had I not once four or five women who attended upon me?"

Prospero answered, "You had, and more. How is it that this still lives
in your mind? Do you remember how you came here?"

"No, sir," said Miranda, "I remember nothing more."

"Twelve years ago, Miranda," continued Prospero, "I was duke of Milan,
and you were a princess and my only heir. I had a younger brother,
whose name was Antonio, to whom I trusted every thing; and as I was
fond of retirement and deep study, I commonly left the management of
my state affairs to your uncle, my false brother (for so indeed he
proved). I, neglecting all worldly ends, buried among my books, did
dedicate my whole time to the bettering of my mind. My brother Antonio
being thus in possession of my power, began to think himself the duke
indeed. The opportunity I gave him of making himself popular among my
subjects, awakened in his bad nature a proud ambition to deprive me of
my dukedom; this he soon effected with the aid of the king of Naples,
a powerful prince, who was my enemy."

"Wherefore," said Miranda, "did they not that hour destroy us?"

"My child," answered her father, "they durst not, so dear was the love
that my people bore me. Antonio carried us on board a ship, and when
we were some leagues out at sea, he forced us into a small boat,
without either tackle, sail, or mast: there he left us as he thought
to perish. But a kind lord of my court, one Gonzalo, who loved me, had
privately placed in the boat, water, provisions, apparel, and some
books which I prize above my dukedom."

"O my father," said Miranda, "what a trouble must I have been to you

"No, my love," said Prospero, "you were a little cherub that did
preserve me. Your innocent smiles made me to bear up against my
misfortunes. Our food lasted till we landed on this desert island,
since when my chief delight has been in teaching you, Miranda, and
well have you profited by my instructions."

"Heaven thank you, my dear father," said Miranda. "Now pray tell me,
sir, your reason for raising this sea-storm." "Know then," said her
father, "that by means of this storm my enemies, the king of Naples,
and my cruel brother, are cast ashore upon this island."

Having so said, Prospero gently touched his daughter with his magic
wand, and she fell fast asleep; for the spirit Ariel just then
presented himself before his master, to give an account of the
tempest, and how he had disposed of the ship's company; and, though
the spirits were always invisible to Miranda, Prospero did not choose
she should hear him holding converse (as would seem to her) with the
empty air.

"Well, my brave spirit," said Prospero to Ariel, "how have you
performed your task?"

Ariel gave a lively description of the storm, and of the terrors of
the mariners; and how the king's son, Ferdinand, was the first who
leaped into the sea; and his father thought he saw this dear son
swallowed up by the waves, and lost. "But he is safe," said Ariel, "in
a corner of the isle, sitting with his arms folded sadly, lamenting
the loss of the king his father, whom he concludes drowned. Not a hair
of his head is injured, and his princely garments, though drenched in
the sea-waves, look fresher than before."

"That's my delicate Ariel," said Prospero. "Bring him hither: my
daughter must see this young prince. Where is the king, and my

"I left them," answered Ariel, "searching for Ferdinand, whom they
have little hopes of finding, thinking they saw him perish. Of the
ship's crew not one is missing; though each one thinks himself the
only one saved: and the ship, though invisible to them, is safe in the

"Ariel," said Prospero, "thy charge is faithfully performed: bur there
is more work yet."

"Is there more work?" said Ariel. "Let me remind you, master, you
have promised me my liberty. I pray, remember, I have done you worthy
service, told you no lies, made no mistakes, served you without grudge
or grumbling." "How now!" said Prospero. "You do not recollect what a
torment I freed you from. Have you forgot the wicked witch Sycorax,
who with age and envy was almost bent double? Where was she born?
Speak; tell me."

"Sir, in Algiers," said Ariel.

"O was she so?" said Prospero. "I must recount what you have been,
which I find you do not remember. This bad witch Sycorax, for her
witchcrafts, too terrible to enter human hearing, was banished from
Algiers, and here left by the sailors; and because you were a spirit
too delicate to execute her wicked commands, she shut you up in a
tree, where I found you howling. This torment, remember, I did free
you from."

"Pardon me, dear master," said Ariel, ashamed to seem ungrateful; "I
will obey your commands."

Online LibraryCharles LambThe Works of Charles and Mary Lamb — Volume 3 Books for Children → online text (page 1 of 47)