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THE

POETICAL WORKS

OF

CHARLES LAMB.

THE THREE FRIENDS.

THREE young maids in friendship met,
Mary, Martha, Margaret.
Margaret was tall and fair,
Martha shorter by a hair ;
If the first excelled in feature,
The other's grace and ease were greater ;
Mary, though to rival loth,
In their best gifts equalled both.
They a due proportion kept;
Martha mourned if Margaret wept;
Margaret joyed when any good
She of Martha understood;

(9)

And in sympathy for either
Mary was outdone by neither.
Thus far, for a happy space,
All three ran an equal race,
A most constant friendship proving,
Equally beloved and loving;
All their wishes, joys, the same ;
Sisters only not in name.

Fortune upon each one smiled,
As upon a favourite child ;
Well to do and well to see
Were the parents of all three;
Till on Martha's father crosses
Brought a flood of worldly losses,
And his fortunes rich and great.
Changed at once to low estate;
Under which o'erwhelming blow
Martha's mother was laid low;
She a hapless orphan left,
Of maternal care bereft,
Trouble following trouble fast,
Lay in a sick bed at last.

In the depth of her affliction Martha now received conviction, That a true and faithful friend Can the surest comfort lend.

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