Charles Lamb

The Reproof

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Mamma heard me with scorn and pride
A wretched beggar-boy deride.
"Do you not know," said I, "how mean
It is to be thus begging seen?
If for a week I were not fed,
I'm sure I would not beg my bread."
And then away she saw me stalk
With a most self-important walk.
But meeting her upon the stairs,
All these my consequential airs
Were changed to an entreating look.
"Give me," said I, "the pocket-book,
Mamma, you promised I should have."
The pocket-book to me she gave;
After reproof and counsel sage
She bade me write in the first page
This naughty action all in rhyme;
No food to have until the time,
In writing fair and neatly worded,
The unfeeling fact I had recorded.
Slow I compose, and slow I write;
And now I feel keen hunger bite.
My mother's pardon I entreat,
And beg she'll give me food to eat.
Dry bread would be received with joy
By her repentant beggar-boy.

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Charles Lamb