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think, past a doubt, if you measured the phiz of your's most devotedly, Wonderful Quiz, you would find that its vertical section was shorter, by an inch and two tenths, or 'twixt that and a quarter.
You have watched a child playing-in those wondrous years when belief is not bound to the eyes and the ears, and the vision divine is so clear and unmarred, that each baker of pies in the dirt is a bard? Give a knife and a shingle, he fits out a fleet, and, on that little mudpuddle over the street, his invention, in purest good faith, will make sail round the globe with a puff of his breath for a gale, will visit, in barely ten minutes, all climes, and find Northwestern passages hundreds of times. Or, suppose the young Poet fresh stored with delights from that Bible of childhood the Arabian Nights, he will turn to a crony and cry, "Jack, let's play that I am a Genius!" Jacky straightway makes Aladdin's lamp out of a stone, and, for hours, they enjoy each his own supernatural powers. This is all very pretty and pleasant, but then suppose our two urchins have grown into men, and both have turned authors, - one says to his brother, "Let's play we're the American somethings or other, (only let them be big enough, no matter what.) Come, you shall be Goethe or Pope, which you choose; I'll be Coleridge, and both shall write mutual reviews." So they both (as mere strangers) before many days, send each other a cord of anonymous bays. Each, in piling his epithets, smiles in his sleeve to see what his friend can be made to believe; each, in reading the other's unbiased review, thinks-Here's pretty high praise, but no more than is true. Well, we laugh at them both, and yet make no great fuss when the same farce is acted to benefit us. Even I, who, if asked, scarce a month since, what Fudge meant, should have answered, the dear Public's critical judgment, begin to think sharpwitted Horace spoke sooth when he said, that the Public sometimes hit the truth.
In reading these lines, you perhaps have a vision of a person in pretty good health and condition, and yet, since I put forth my primary edition, I have been crushed, scorched, withered, used up and put down, (by Smith with the cordial assistance of Brown,) in all, if you put any faith in my rhymes, to the number of ninety-five several times, and, while I am writing-I tremble to think of it, for I may at this moment be just on the brink of it-Molybdostom, angry at being omitted, has begun a critique, - - am I not to be pitied?*
Now I shall not crush them since, indeed, for that matter, no pressure I know of could render them flatter; nor wither, nor scorch them,- no action of fire could make either them or their
The wise Scandinavians probably called their bards by the queer-looking title of Scald, in a delicate way, as it were, just to hint to the world the hot water they always get into.
articles drier; nor waste time in putting them down-I am thinking not their own self-inflation will keep them from sinking; for there's this contradiction about the whole bevythough without the least weight, they are awfully heavy. No, my dear honest bore, surdo fabulam narras, they are no more to me than a rat in the arras. I can walk with the Doctor, get facts from the Don, or draw out the Lambish quintessence of John, and feel nothing more than a half-comic sorrow, to think that they all will be lying to-morrow tossed carelessly up on the waste-paper shelves, and forgotten by all but their half-dozen selves. Once snug in my attic, my fire in a roar, I leave the whole pack of them outside the door. With Hakluyt or Purchas I wander away to the black_northern seas or barbaric Cathay; get fou with O'Shanter, and sober me then with that builder of brick-kilnish dramas, rare Ben; snuff Herbert, as holy as a flower on a grave; with Fletcher wax tender, o'er Chapman grow brave; with Marlowe or Kyd take a fine poetrave; in Very, most Hebrew of Saxons, find peace; with Lycidas welter on vext Irish seas; with Webster grow wild, and climb earthward again, down by mystical Browne's Jacob'sladder-like brain, to that spiritual Pepys (Cotton's version) Montaigne; find a new depth in Wordsworth, undreamed of before, - that divinely-inspired, wise, deep, tender, grand, bore. Or, out of my study, the scholar thrown off, nature holds up her shield 'gainst the sneer and the scoff; the landscape, forever consoling and kind, pours her wine and her oil on the smarts of the mind. The waterfall, scattering its vanishing gems; the tall grove of hemlocks, with moss on their stems, like plashes of sunlight; the pond in the woods, where no foot but mine and the bittern's intrudes; these are all my kind neighbors, and leave me no wish to say aught to you all, my poor critics, but-pish! I have buried the hatchet; I am twisting an allumette out of one of you now, and relighting my calumet. In your private capacities, come when you please, I will give you my hand and a fresh pipe a-piece.
As I ran through the leaves of my poor little book, to take a fond author's first tremulous look, it was quite an excitement to hunt the errata, sprawled in as birds' tracks are in some kinds of strata, (only these made things crookeder.) Fancy an heir, that a father had seen born well-featured and fair, turning suddenly wry-nosed, club-footed, squint-eyed, hare-lipped, wapper-jawed, carrot-haired, from a pride become an aversion,
- my case was yet worse. A club-foot (by way of a change) in a verse, I might have forgiven, an o's being wry, a limp in an e, or a cock in an i, — but to have the sweet babe of my brain served in pi! I am not queasy-stomached, but such a Thyestean banquet as that was quite out of the question.
In the edition now issued, no pains are neglected, and my verses, as orators say, stand corrected. Yet some blunders
remain of the public's own make, which I wish to correct for my personal sake. For instance, a character drawn in pure fun and condensing the traits of a dozen in one, has been, as I hear by some persons applied to a good friend of mine, whom to stab in the side, as we walked along chatting and joking together, would not be my way. I can hardly tell whether a question will ever arise in which he and I should by any strange fortune agree, but meanwhile my esteem for him grows as I know him, and, though not the best judge upon earth of a poem, he knows what it is he is saying and why, and is honest and fearless, two good points which I have not found so rife I can easily smother my love for them, whether on my side or t'other.
For my other anonymi, you may be sure that I know what is meant by a caricature, and what by a portrait. There are those who think it is capital fun to be spattering their ink on quiet unquarrelsome folk, but the minute the game changes sides and the others begin it, they see something savage and horrible in it. As for me I respect neither women nor men for their gender, nor own any sex in a pen. I choose just to hint to some causeless unfriends that, as far as I know, there are always two ends (and one of them heaviest, too) to a staff, and two parties also to every good laugh.
A FABLE FOR CRITICS.
PHOEBUS, sitting one day in a laurel-tree's shade, Was reminded of Daphne, of whom it was made, For the god being one day too warm in his wooing, She took to the tree to escape his pursuing;
Be the cause what it might, from his offers she shrunk,
And, though 't was a step into which he had driven her,
By a strange kind of smile he put on when he thought of her.
"My case is like Dido's," he sometimes remark'd, “When I last saw my love, she was fairly embark'd, In a laurel, as she thought—but (ah how Fate mocks !) She has found it by this time a very bad box;
Let hunters from me take this saw when they need it, -You're not always sure of your game when you've
Just conceive such a change taking place in one's mistress! What romance would be left? who can flatter or kiss
And for mercy's sake, how could one keep up a dialogue
Now, Daphne,- before she was happily treeified, — Over all other blossoms the lily had deified, And when she expected the god on a visit,
('T was before he had made his intentions explicit,)
Like a man with eight trumps in his hand at a whist-table,
Well, here, after all the bad rhyme I've been spinning, I've got back at last to my story's beginning: Sitting there, as I say, in the shade of his mistress, As dull as a volume of old Chester mysteries,
Or as those puzzling specimens, which, in old histories, We read of his verses the Oracles, namely,
(I wonder the Greeks should have swallowed them tamely,
"O, weep with me, Daphne," he sighed," for you know it's A terrible thing to be pestered with poets!