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But it is in Sonnet IX that the great poet converts himself into a farthing rush-light, and one of the happiest flights of fancy on record, and resolves to
“Burn through Shakspere's matchless page.”
“Hence Care, and let me steep my drooping spirit
Not content with burning Shakspere, Moxon resolves to let the world know that he is burnt in return : what can be more touching than his sonnet to “Woman's Heart.” Edward Moxon, thou art truly the Grand Turk of the fair sex.
“If I were asked what most my soul doth prize
We feel almost inclined to forgive Mr. Moxon for his laborious and well printed trash, on account of the following verses to the “Memory of Charles Lamb.” It is an invocation to Coleridge:–
“Receive him to thy arms, melodious shade :
The mention of gentle Elia reminds us that Mr. Moxon was one of his kindest friends, and that the old wit testified his sense of it by leaving him one of his executors. We feel inclined to forgive the dull sonnetter on this very account, and hope he will extend a like charity to us, when we link the memory of the “Christ Boy” to his once more in concluding the present paper with a few anecdotes of Elia, hitherto unrecorded.
One very rainy evening when Lamb and a friend of his were enjoying their “potation of spirit and water" over a Beaumont and Fletcher in folio—his sister begged Lamb to go and quiet their dog which in his kennel at the back door was making a dreadful howling. The old wit turned round to her and said, “Pray, my dear Mary, do let the poor beast outside, do as we are doing inside, enjoy his Whine and Water.’”
A Cheesemonger, who having realized a large fortune, retired with a genteel wife and still genteeler daughter to enjoy the “otium cum dignitate” in a nobleman sort of way at Highgate, where he had a superb villa, was above all things most anxious to conceal from every one of his acquaintances that he had ever been engaged in trade at all—more especially in so low a calling as that of “Cheesemonger.” It was the canker in his blooming rose of life, and any allusion, however accidental, was construed by him into a deadly and never to be forgiven insult.
In a large party at the house of the village clergyman, Coleridge, Lamb, and the quondam Cheesemonger were present. In a discussion on the hard Poor Law, which was then agitating the political and social circles of London, the retired tradesman took high ground, and irritated the kind-hearted Elia by violent denunciations of the poor; turning round, and with great appearance of triumph over the silent wit, he said to the company generally but more particularly to Lamb, “You must bear in mind, sir, that I have got rid of all that stuff which you Poets call the ‘Milk of Human ’” Lamb looked at him steadily, and gave in his acquiescence in these words—“Yes, sir, I am aware of it—you turned it all into cheese several years ago.” The retired Cheesemonger was inconsolable.
Lamb was once invited by an old friend to meet an author who had just published a volume of poems; when he got there (being somewhat early) he was asked by his host to look over the volume of the expected visiter. A few minutes convinced Elia that it possessed very little merit, being a feeble echo of different authors. This opinion of the poetaster was fully confirmed by the appearance of the gentleman himself, whose self-conceit and confidence in his own book were so manifest as to awaken in Lamb that spirit of mischievous waggery so characteristic of the Humorist. Lamb's rapid and tenacious memory enabled him during the dinner to quote fluently, several passages from the pretender's volume. These he gave with this introduction—“This reminds me of some verses I wrote when I was very young"—he then, to the astonishment of the gentleman in question, quoted something from the volume. Lamb tried this a second time; the gentleman looked still more surprised, and seemed evidently bursting with suppressed indignation. At last, as a climax to the fun, Lamb cooly quoted the wellknown opening lines of “Paradise Lost,” as written by himself. This was too much for the versemonger—he immediately rose to his legs, and with an impressive solemnity of manner thus addressed the claimant to so many poetical honors—“Sir, I have tamely submitted all this evening to hear you claim the merit that may belong to any little poems of my own ; this I have borne in silence, but, Sir, I never will sit quietly by and see the Immortal Milton robbed of ‘Paradise Lost.’” When Lamb's farce of Mr. H. was acted, he gave a curious instance of one of his singular traits. It must be at once conceded that there were small evidences of humor in the piece, and the construction was undramatic ; still there was much to show it was written by a man infinitely superior to all the farce writers in the kingdom. Towards the end of the performance, when it was evident to all that the piece was unmistakably damned, the attention of some of Lamb's friends was drawn to a very loud and violent hissing, which like a stormy petrel, seemed to ride on the whirlwind, and to direct the storm, or as Talfourd said, it was the most prominent fact of the evening, “ by merit raised to that bad eminence.” What was their astonishment to find that this vigorous expression of dissent came from Lamb himself, who, when questioned as to his motive, after the fall of the curtain, stammered out in his peculiar pop-gun manner, “I was so damnably afraid they would take me to be the Author /"
One of the firmest-believed axioms of the present age is, that Liberty is the child of Education, and that an enlightened nation must, of necessity, be free; but, in giving the palm to what is termed education, they have bestowed the crown of laurel on the result, and not upon the cause. The victory has been the lauded, the teacher-warriors too often neglected or forgotten. It is the poet, the orator, and the philosopher, who create the patriot. Education does not presuppose freedom; it is only a discipline which lends force and precision to the ideas taught: many a highly educated people have been oppressed, and are still so. The Germans are better educated than the English— England is infinitely freer than Germany. It is possible to educate and drill a nation into slavery. Myriads of learned monks have been the slavish instruments of spiritual and temporal despotism. It is, clearly, the teachers who sow the seeds of freedom.
The authors of one generation are the spiritual parents of the next, which invariably reaps the full harvest of his thoughts and aspirations. Production and re-production co-everlastingly go on : the blasphemy of to-day is the religion of to-morrow. The thought for which some great-souled martyr died is, in time, the established faith of the million, who murder others for doubting the words which they destroyed the preachers for once uttering. “The Dream of