Life is a various mother: now she dons Her plumes and brilliants, climbs the marble stairs With head aloft, nor ever turns her eyes On lackeys who attend her; now she dwells Grim-clad up darksome alleys, breathes hot gin, And screams in pauper riot.
But to these
She came a frugal matron, neat and deft, With cheerful morning thoughts and quick device To find the much in little
MRS MEYRICK'S house was not noisy: the front parlour looked on the river, and the back on gardens, so that though she was reading aloud to her daughters, the window could be left open to freshen the air of the small double room where a lamp and two candles were burning. The candles were on a table apart for Kate, who was drawing illustrations for a publisher; the lamp was not only for the reader but for Amy and Mab, who were embroidering satin cushions for "the great world."
Outside, the house looked very narrow and shabby, the bright light through the holland blind showing the heavy old-fashioned window- frame; but it is pleasant to know that many such grim-walled slices of space in our foggy London have been, and still are the homes of a culture the more spotlessly free from vulgarity, because poverty has rendered everything like display an impersonal question, and all the grand shows of the world simply a spectacle which rouses no petty rivalry or vain effort after possession.
The Meyricks' was a home of that kind; and they all clung to this particular house in a row because its interior was fined with objects always in the same places, which for the mother held memories of her marriage time, and for the young ones seemed as necessary and uncriticized a part of their world as the stars of the Great Bear seen from the back windows. Mrs Meyrick had borne much stint of other matters that she might be able to keep some engravings specially cherished by her husband; and the narrow spaces of wall held a world- history in scenes and heads which the children had early learned by heart. The chairs and tables were also old friends preferred to new. But in these two little parlours with no furniture that a broker would have cared to cheapen except the prints and piano, there was space and apparatus for a wide-glancing, nicely-select life, open to the highest