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Choosing A Profession

Charles Lamb 1775 (Inner Temple, London) – 1834 (Edmonton, London)

A Creole boy from the West Indies brought,
To be in European learning taught,
Some years before to Westminster he went,
To a preparatory school was sent.
When from his artless tale the mistress found,
The child had not one friend on English ground,
She, even as if she his own mother were,
Made the dark Indian her peculiar care.
Oft on her favourite's future lot she thought;
To know the bent of his young mind she sought,
For much the kind preceptress wished to find
To what profession he was most inclined,
That where his genius led they might him train;
For nature's kindly bent she held not vain.
But vain her efforts to explore his will;
The frequent question he evaded still:
Till on a day at length he to her came,
Joy sparkling in his eyes; and said, the same
Trade he would be those boys of colour were,
Who danced so happy in the open air.
It was a troop of chimney-sweeping boys,
With wooden music and obstreperous noise,
In tarnished finery and grotesque array,
Were dancing in the street the first of May.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb was an English essayist, poet, and antiquarian, best known for his Essays of Elia and for the children's book Tales from Shakespeare, co-authored with his sister, Mary Lamb (1764–1847). Friends with such literary luminaries as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, William Wordsworth, and William Hazlitt, Lamb was at the centre of a major literary circle in England. He has been referred to by E. V. Lucas, his principal biographer, as "the most lovable figure in English literature". more…

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