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Summary of the Essay OLD CHINA by Charles Lamb
The pictures on old-china tea-cups are drawn without any sense of perspective. The eye helps us in making up the sense of distance. The figures may be up in the air but a speck of blue under their feet represents the earth. The men on these cups and jars have women’s faces and the women have more womanish expressions.
In the past they would walk to Enfield and Potter’s Bar, and Waltham on a holiday. They would go there with their meagre lunch and enter in a decent inn. There they were lucky having an honest hostess like the one described by Izaak Walton in his The Complete Angler. Formerly, they used to sit in the pit to witness the dramatic performances. They squeezed out their shillings to sit in the one shilling gallery. There Elia felt many a time that he ought not to have brought Bridget who was grateful to him for having brought her there. When the curtain was drawn up, it did not matter where one sat. So Elia used to say that “the Gallery was the best place of all for enjoying a play socially”. The spectators in the Gallery were illiterate ones who never read the plays and who therefore were highly attentive to the play. Bridget received the best attention there because there was chivalry still left, but now Elia cannot see a play from the Gallery. So Bridget says that his sight disappeared with his poverty.
As long as Bridget was in a rhetorical vein speaking thus, Elia kept quiet. At last he told her that they must put up with the excess. He said that they must be thankful for their early struggles. Because of the past suffering, they were drawn together. “We must ride, where we formerly walked; live better, and lie softer.”