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, these spiritual repasts-a grace before Milton-a grace before Shakespeare-a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading The Fairie Queene?
I grow ominously tired of official confinement. Thirty years have I served the Philistines, and my neck is not subdued to the yoke. You don't know how wearisome it is to breathe the air of four pent walls without relief day after day, all the golden hours of the day between ten and four without ease or interposition ... these pestilential clerk-faces always in one's dish. O for a few years between the grave and the desk!
Alas! how light a cause may move Dissension between hearts that love! Hearts that the world in vain had tried, And sorrow but more closely tied; That stood the storm when waves were rough, Yet in a sunny hour fall off, Like ships that have gone down at sea When heaven was all tranquillity.
What a dead thing is a clock, with its ponderous embowelments of lead and brass, its pert or solemn dullness of communication, compared with the simple altar-like structure and silent heart-language of the old sundials! It stood as the garden god of Christian gardens. Why is it almost everywhere vanished? If its business-use be superseded by more elaborate inventions, its moral uses, its beauty, might have pleaded for its continuance.
Returning to town in the stage-coach, which was filled with Mr. Gilman's guests, we stopped for a minute or two at Kentish Town. A woman asked the coachman, "Are you full inside?" Upon which Lamb put his head through the window and said, "I am quite full inside; that last piece of pudding at Mr. Gilman's did the business for me."
There is absolutely no such thing as reading but by a candle. We have tried the affectation of a book at noon-day in gardens, and in sultry arbours, but it was labor thrown away. Those gay motes in the beam come about you, hovering and teasing, like so many coquets, that will have you all to their self, and are jealous of your abstractions. By the midnight taper, the writers digests his meditations. By the same light we must approach to their perusal, if we would catch the flame, the odour.