the tramp of dirty little feet through the hall was for many months the despair of housemaids.
Thenceforward his name was to these children a household word; and the most charming feature of the festival held on the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of Cambridge
(December 28, 1880) was the reception given by a thousand grammar-school children to the gray and courteous old poet, who made then and there, almost for the only time in his life, and contrary to all previous expectations, a brief speech in reply.
On that occasion he thus spoke briefly, at the call of the mayor, who presided, and who afterwards caused to be read by Mr. George Riddle
, the verses ‘From My Arm-Chair,’ which the poet had written for the children.
He spoke as follows:—
my dear young friends,—I do not rise to make an address to you, but to excuse myself from making one.
I know the proverb says that he who excuses himself accuses himself,and I am willing on this occasion to accuse myself, for I feel very much as I suppose some of you do when you are suddenly called upon in your class room, and are obliged to say that you are not prepared.
I am glad to see your faces and to hear your voices.
I am glad to have this