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[290] 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

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George Riddle (1)
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December 28th, 1880 AD (1)
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