LAMB ON CHIMNEY SWEEPERS
earlier with their little professional notes sounding like the peep-peep of a young sparrow; or liker to the matin1) lark should I pronounce them, in their aerial ascents not seldom anticipating the sun-rise?
I have a kindly yearning towards these dim specks — poor blots — innocent blacknesses —.
I révérence these young Africans of our own growth — these almost clergy imps *), who sport their cloth *) without assump* tion; and from their little pulpits (the tops of chimneys), in the nipping air of a December morning, preach a lesson of patience to mankind.
When a child, what a mysterious pleasure it was to witness their operation! to see achitno bigger than one's-self, enter, oneknew not by what process, into what seemed the fauces Averni4) — to pursue him in imagination, as he went sounding on through so many dark stifling caverns, horrid shades! to shudder with the idea that "now, surely, he must be lost for ever!" — to revive at hearing his feeble shout of discovered day-light — and then ( O fulness of delight!) running out of doors, to come just in time to see the sable phenomenon emerge in safety, the brandished weapon of his art victorious like some flag waved over a conquered citadel! I seem to remember having been told, that a bad sweep was once left in a stack with his brush, to indicate which way the wind blew. It was an awful spectacle, certainly; not much unlike the old stage direction in Macbeth, where the "Apparition of a child crowned, with a tree in his hand, rises."
1. matin: morning. See note 2 on p. 110.
2. imp: little devil.
3. to sport: to wear ostentatiously, i. e. in such a way that it attracts attention.
4. fauces Averni: the entrance of Heil; a reminiscence from Vergil.