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Having scrawled at full gallop (as far as gentle reader, and you. All the characters that goes) in a style that is neither good sketched in this slight jeu d'esprit, though, verse nor bad prose, and being a person it may be, they seem, here and there, whom nobody knows, some people will say rather free, and drawn from a somewhat I am rather more free with my readers too cynical standpoint, are meant to be than it is becoming to be, that I seem to faithful, for that is the grand point, and expect them to wait on my leisure in fol- none but an owl would feel sore at a rub lowing wherever I wander at pleasure, from a jester who tells you, without any that, in short, I take more than a young subterfuge, that he sits in Diogenes' tub. author's lawful ease, and laugh in a queer way so like Mephistopheles, that the Public will doubt, as they grope through my A PRELIMINARY NOTE TO THE rhythm, if in truth I am making fun of
SECOND EDITION, them or with them.
So the excellent Public is hereby assured though it well may be reckoned, of all that the sale of my book is already secured. composition, the species at once most deFor there is not a poet throughout the lightful and healthy, is a thing which an whole land but will purchase a copy or two author, unless he be wealthy and willing to out of hand, in the fond expectation of pay for that kind of delight, is not, in all being amused in it, by seeing his betters instances, called on to write, though there cut up and abused in it. Now, I find, by a are, it is said, who, their spirits to cheer, pretty exact calculation, there are some- slip in a new title-page three times a year, thing like ten thousand bards in the nation, and in this way snuff up an imaginary of that special variety whom the Review savor of that sweetest of dishes, the popuand Magazine critics call lofty and true, and lar favor, much as if a starved painter about thirty thousand (this tribe is increas- should fall to and treat the Ugolino inside ing) of the kinds who are termed full of to a picture of meat. promise and pleasing. The Public will see You remember (if not, pray turn backby a glance at this schedule, that they can- ward and look) that, in writing the preface not expect me to be over-sedulous about which ushered my book, I treated you, excourting them, since it seems I have got cellent Public, not merely with a cool disenough fuel made sure of for boiling my regard, but downright cavalierly. Now I pot.
would not take back the least thing I then As for such of our poets as find not said, though I thereby could butter both their names mentioned once in my pages, sides of my bread, for I never could see with praises or blames, let them SEND IN that an author owed aught to the people THEIR CARDS, without further DELAY, to he solaced, diverted, or taught ; and, as for my friend G. P. PUTNAM, Esquire, in mere fame, I have long ago learned that Broadway, where a list will be kept with the persons by whom it is finally earned the strictest regard to the day and the hour are those with whom your verdict weighed of receiving the card. Then, taking them not a pin, unsustained by the higher court up as I chance to have time (that is, if sitting within. their names can be twisted in rhyme), I But I wander from what I intended to will honestly give each his PROPER POSI- say, — that you have, namely, shown such TION, at the rate of ONE AUTHOR to each a liberal way of thinking, and so much NEW EDITION. Thus a PREMIUM is of- æsthetic perception of anonymous worth in fered sufficiently high (as the magazines
the handsome reception you gave to my say when they tell their best lie) to induce book, spite of some private piques (having bards to CLUB their resources and buy the bought the first thousand 'in barely two balance of every edition, until they have all weeks), that I think, past a doubt, if you of them fairly been run through the mill. measured the phiz of yours most devotedly,
One word to such readers (judicious and Wonderful Quiz, you would find that its wise) as read books with something behind vertical section was shorter, by an inch and the mere eyes, of whom in the country, two tenths, or 'twixt that and a quarter. perhaps, there are two, including myself, You have watched a child playing – in
those wondrous years when belief is not angry at being omitted, has begun a critbound to the eyes and the ears, and the
- am I not to be pitied ? vision divine is so clear and unmarred, Now I shall not crush them since, indeed, that each baker of pies in the dirt is a for that matter, no pressure I know of bard ? Give a knife and a shingle, he fits could render them flatter ; nor wither, nor out a fleet, and, on that little mud-puddle scorch them, no action of fire could over the street, his fancy, in purest good make either them or their articles drier ; faith, will make sail round the globe with nor waste time in putting them down a puff of his breath for a gale, will visit, I am thinking not their own self-inflation in barely ten minutes, all climes, and do will keep them from sinking ; for there 's the Columbus-feat hundreds of times. Or, this contradiction about the whole bevy,suppose the young poet fresh stored with though without the least weight, they are delights from that Bible of childhood, the awfully heavy. No, my dear honest bore, Arabian Nights, he will turn to a crony surdo fabulam narras, they are no more to Jack, let 's play that I am a me than a rat in the arras.
I can walk Genius!” Jacky straightway makes with the Doctor, get facts from the Don, Aladdin's lamp out of a stone, and, for or draw out the Lambish quintessence of hours, they enjoy each his own super- John, and feel nothing more than a halfnatural powers. This is all very pretty comic sorrow, to think that they all will and pleasant, but then suppose our two be lying to-morrow.tossed carelessly up on urchins have
the waste-paper shelves, and forgotten by have turned authors, - one says to his all but their half-dozen selves. Once snug brother, “ Let 's play we're the American in my attic, my fire in a roar, I leave somethings or other, say Homer or the whole pack of them outside the door. Sophocles, Goethe or Scott (only let them With Hakluyt or Purchas I wander away be big enough, no matter what). Come, to the black northern seas or barbaric Cayou shall be Byron or Pope, which you thay; get fou with O'Shanter, and sober choose: I'll be Coleridge, and both shall me then with that builder of brick-kilnish write mutual reviews." So they both (as dramas, rare Ben; snuff Herbert, as holy mere strangers) before many days send as a flower on a grave; with Fletcher wax each other a cord of anonymous bays. tender, o'er Chapman grow brave ; with Each, piling his epithets, smiles in his Marlowe or Kyd take a fine poet-rave ; in sleeve to see what his friend can be made Very, most Hebrew of Saxons, find peace ; to believe; each, reading the other's un- with Lycidas welter on vext Irish seas ; biased review, thinks Here 's pretty high with Webster grow wild, and climb earthpraise, but no more than my due. Well, ward again, down by mystical Browne's we laugh at them both, and yet make no Jacob's-ladder-like brain, to that spiritual great fuss when the same farce is acted to Pepys (Cotton's version) Montaigne ; find benefit us. Even I, who, if asked, scarce a new depth in Wordsworth, undreamed a month since, what Fudge meant, should of before, that marvel, a poet divine who have answered, the dear Public's critical can bore. Or, out of my study, the scholar judgment, begin to think sharp-witted thrown off, Nature holds up her shield Horace spoke sooth when he said that the 'gainst the sneer and the scoff ; the landPublic sometimes hit the truth.
scape, forever consoling and kind, pours In reading these lines, you perhaps have her wine and her oil on the smarts of the a vision of a person in pretty good health mind. The waterfall, scattering its vanishand condition ; and yet, since I put forth ing gems; the tall grove of hemlocks, with my primary edition, I have been crushed, moss on their stems, like plashes of sunscorched, withered, used up and put down light; the pond in the woods, where no (by Smith with the cordial assistance of foot but mine and the bittern's intrudes, Brown), in all, if you put any faith in my where pitcher-plants purple and gentians rhymes, to the number of ninety-five several
1 The wise Scandinavians probably called their bards times, and, while I am writing, — I tremble
by the queer-looking title of Scald in a delicate way, as to think of it, for I may at this moment be
it were, just to hint to the world the hot water they just on the brink of it, - Molybdostom, always get into.
hard by recall to September the blue of and horrible in it. As for me I respect June's sky; these are all my kind neigh- neither women nor men for their gender, bors, and leave me no wish to say aught to nor own any sex in a pen. I choose just you all, my poor critics, but – pish! I've to hint to some causeless unfriends that, as buried the hatchet : I'm twisting an allu- far as I know, there are always two ends mette out of one of you now, and relight and one of them heaviest, too) to a staff, ing my calumet. In your private capaci- and two parties also to every good laugh. ties, come when you please, I will give you my hand and a fresh pipe apiece. As I ran through the leaves of my poor
A FABLE FOR CRITICS little book, to take a fond author's first tremulous look, it was quite an excitement PHBUS, sitting one day in a laurel. to hunt the errata, sprawled in as birds' tree's shade, tracks are in some kinds of strata (only Was reminded of Daphne, of whom it was these made things crookeder). Fancy an
made, heir that a father had seen born well- For the god being one day too warm in his featured and fair, turning suddenly wry- wooing, nosed, club-footed, squint-eyed, hair-lipped, She took to the tree to escape his pursuing; wapper-jawed, carrot-haired, from a pride Be the cause what it might, from his offers become an aversion, — my case was yet
she shrunk, A club-foot (by way of a change) And, Ginevra-like, shut herself up in a in a verse, I might have forgiven, an o's trunk; being wry, a limp in an e, or a cock in an And, though 't was a step into which he i, - but to have the sweet babe of my had driven her, brain served in pi! I am not queasy
He somehow or other had never forgiven stomached, but such a Thyestean banquet
her; as that was quite out of the question. Her
memory he nursed as a kind of a tonic, In the edition now issued no pains are Something bitter to chew when he 'd play neglected, and my verses, as orators say,
the Byronic, stand corrected. Yet some blunders re- And I can't count the obstinate nymphs main of the Public's own make, which I that he brought over wish to correct for my personal sake. For By a strange kind of smile he put on when instance, a character drawn in pure fun he thought of her. and condensing the traits of a dozen in one, My case is like Dido's,” he sometimes rehas been, as I hear, by some persons ap
marked; plied to a good friend of mine, whom to “When I last saw my love, she was fairly stab in the side, as we walked along chat
embarked ting and joking together, would not be my In a laurel, as she thought — but (ah, how way. I can hardly tell whether a question
Fate mocks !) will ever arise in which he and I should by She has found it by this time a very bad any strange fortune agree, but meanwhile
box; my esteem for him grows as I know him, Let hunters from me take this saw when and, though not the best judge on earth of they need it, a poem, he knows what it is he is saying You 're not always sure of your game when and why, and is honest and fearless, two
you ’ve treed it. good points which I have not found so rife Just conceive such a change taking place can easily smother my love for them,
in one's mistress! whether on my side or t' other.
What romance would be left ? - who can For my other anonymi, you may be sure
flatter or kiss trees ? that I know what is meant by a caricature, And, for mercy's sake, how could one keep and what by a portrait. There are those up a dialogue who think it is capital fun to be spattering With a dull wooden thing that will live their ink on quiet, unquarrelsome folk, but and will die a log, – the minute the game changes sides and the Not to say that the thought would forever others begin it, they see something savage intrude
That you've less chance to win her the For one might bet safely whatever he has more she is wood ?
to risk, Ah! it went to my heart, and the memory They were laid at his door by some ancient still grieves,
Miss Asterisk, To see those loved graces all taking their And so dull that the men who retailed leaves;
them out-doors Those charms beyond speech, so enchanting Got the ill name of augurs, because they
were bores,-) As they left me forever, each making its First, he mused what the animal substance bough!
or herb is If her tongue had a tang sometimes more Would induce a mustache, for you know than was right,
he 's imberbis; Her new bark is worse than ten times her Then he shuddered to think how his youthold bite."
Was assailed by the age of his son the Now, Daphne - before she was happily physician ; treeified
At some poems he glanced, had been sent Over all other blossoms the lily had deified, to him lately, And when she expected the god on a visit And the metre and sentiment puzzled him ('T was before he had made his intentions greatly; explicit),
“ Mehercle ! I'd make such proceeding Some buds she arranged with a vast deal felonious,
Have they all of them slept in the cave of To look as if artlessly twined in her hair,
Trophonius ? Where they seemed, as he said, when he Look well to your seat, 't is like taking an paid his addresses,
airing Like the day breaking through the long On a corduroy road, and that out of repairnight of her tresses;
ing; So whenever he wished to be quite irresisti- It leads one, 't is true, through the primible,
tive forest, Like a man with eight trumps in his hand Grand natural features, but then one has at a whist-table
no rest; (I feared me at first that the rhyme was You just catch a glimpse of some ravishuntwistable,
ing distance, Though I might have lugged in an allusion When a jolt puts the whole of it out of exto Cristabel),
istence, He would take up a lily, and gloomily look Why not use their ears, if they happen to
have any ?" As I shall at the when they cut up
- Here the laurel-leaves murmured the my book in it.
name of poor Daphne. Well, here, after all the bad rhyme I've “Oh, weep with me, Daphne,” he sighed, been spinning,
“ for you know it's I've got back at last to my story's begin- | A terrible thing to be pestered with poning:
ets ! Sitting there, as I say, in the shade of his But, alas, she is dumb, and the proverb mistress,
holds good, As dull as a volume of old Chester myster- She never will cry till she 's out of the ies,
wood ! Or as those puzzling specimens which, in What would n't I give if I never had old histories,
known of her ? We read of his verses the Oracles, 'T were a kind of relief had I something namely,
to groan over: (I wonder the Greeks should have swal- If I had but some letters of hers, now, to lowed them tamely,
I might turn for the nonce a Byronic phi-On a previous stage of existence, our losopher,
Hero And bewitch all the flats by bemoaning the Had ridden outside, with the glass below loss of her.
zero; One needs something tangible, though, to He had been, 't is a fact you may safely begin on,
rely on, A loom, as it were, for the fancy to spin Of a very old stock a most eminent on;
scion, What boots all your grist ? it can never be A stock all fresh quacks their fierce boluses ground
ply on, Till a breeze makes the arms of the wind- Who stretch the new boots Earth's unwillmill go round;
ing to try on, (Or, if 't is a water-mill, alter the meta- Whom humbugs of all shapes and sorts phor,
keep their eye on, And say it won't stir, save the wheel be Whose hair 's in the mortar of every new well wet afore,
Zion, Or lug in some stuff about water so Who, when whistles are dear, go directly dreamily,'
and buy one, It is not a metaphor, though, 't is a sim- Who think slavery a crime that we must ile);
say A lily, perhaps, would set my mill a-going, Who hunt, if they e'er hunt at all, with the For just at this season, I think, they are
(Though they hunt lions also, whenever Here, somebody, fetch one; not very far they spy one), hence
Who contrive to make every good fortune They ’re in bloom by the score, 't is but
a wry one, climbing a fence;
And at last choose the hard bed of honor There's a poet hard by, who does nothing but fill his
Whose pedigree, traced to earth's earliest Whole garden, from one end to t other,
years, with lilies;
Is longer than anything else but their A very good plan, were it not for satiety,
ears; One longs for a weed here and there, for In short, he was sent into life with the variety;
wrong key, Though a weed is no more than a flower in He unlocked the door, and stept forth a disguise,
poor donkey. Which is seen through at once, if love give Though kicked and abused by his bipedal a man eyes.”
Yet he filled no mean place in the kingdom Now there happened to be among Phe
of letters; bus's followers,
Far happier than many a literary hack, A gentleman, one of the omnivorous swal- He bore only paper-mill rags on his lowers,
back Who bolt every book that comes out of (For it makes a vast difference which side
the mill Without the least question of larger or One expends on the paper his labor and less,
skill); Whose stomachs are strong at the expense So, when his soul waited a new transmiof their head,
gration, For reading new books is like eating new And Destiny balanced 'twixt this and that bread,
station, One can bear it at first, but by gradual | Not having much time to expend upon
bothers, Is brought to death's door of a mental Remembering he'd had some connection dyspepsy.
to die on,