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No longer scowl the turrets tall,
The Summer's long siege at last is o'er; When the first poor outcast went in at the door,
She entered with him in disguise,
She lingers and smiles there the whole year round;
The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land Has hall and bower at his command; And there's no poor man in the North Countree
But is lord of the earldom as much as he.
NOTE. According to the mythology of the Romancers, the San Greal, or Holy Grail, was the cup out of which Jesus partook of the last supper with his disciples. It was brought into England by Joseph of Arimathea, and remained there, an object of pil grimage and adoration, for many years in the keeping of his lineal descendants. was incumbent upon those who had charge of it to be chaste in thought, word, and deed; but one of the keepers having broken this condition, the Holy Grail disappeared. From that time it was a favorite enterprise of the knights of Arthur's court to go in search of it. Sir Galahad was at last successful in finding it, as may be read in the seventeenth book of the Romance of King Arthur. Tennyson has made Sir Galahad the subject of one of the most exquisite of his poems.
The plot (if I may give that name to anything so slight) of the foregoing poem is my own, and, to serve its purposes, I have enlarged the circle of competition in search of the miraculous cup in such a manner as to include, not only other persons than the heroes of the Round Table, but also a period of time subsequent to the date of King Arthur s reign!
READER! walk up at once (it will soon be too late) and buy at a perfectly ruinous rate
FABLE FOR CRITICS;
(I like, as a thing that the reader's first fancy may strike,
such as presents a tabular view of the volume's contents,)
By A Wonderful Quiz,
who accompanies himself with a rub-a-dub-dub, full of spirit and grace, on the top of the tub.
Set forth in October, the 31st day,
In the year '48, G. P. Putnam, Broadway.
IT being the commonest mode of procedure, I premise a few candid remarks
TO THE READER:
This trifle, begun to please only myself and my own private fancy, was laid on the shelf. But some friends,
who had seen it, induced me, by dint of saying they liked it, to put it in print. That is, having come to that very conclusion, I consulted them when it could make no confusion. For (though in the gentlest of ways) they had hinted it was scarce worth the while, I should doubtless have printed it.
I began it, intending a Fable, a frail, slender thing, rhyme-ywinged, with a sting in its tail. But, by addings and dialterings not previously planned, gressions chance-hatched, like birds' eggs in the sand, and dawdlings to suit every whimsy's demand (always freeing the bird which I held in my hand, for the two perched, perhaps out of reach, in the tree), it grew by degrees to the size which you see.
I was like the old woman that carried the calf, and my neighbors, like hers, no doubt, wonder and laugh, and when, my strained arms with their grown burthen full, I call it my Fable, they call it a bull.
Having scrawled at full gallop (as far as that goes) in a style that is neither good verse nor bad prose, and being a person whom nobody knows, some people will say I am rather more free with my readers than it is becoming to be, that I seem to expect them to wait on my leisure in following wherever I wander at pleasure, that, in short, I take more than a young author's lawful ease, and laugh in a queer way so like Mephistopheles, that the public will doubt,
as they grope through my rhythm, if in truth I am making fun at them or with
So the excellent Public is hereby assured that the sale of my book is already secured. For there is not a poet throughout the whole land but will purchase a copy or two out of hand, in the fond expectation of being amused in it, by seeing his betters cut up and abused in it. Now, I find, by a pretty exact calculation, there are something like ten thousand bards in the nation, of that special variety whom the Review and Magazine critics call lefty and true, and about thirty thousand (this tribe is increasing) of the kinds who are termed full of promise and pleasing. The Public will see by a glance at this schedule, that they cannot expect me to be over-sedulous about courting them, since it seems I have got enough fuel made sure of for boiling my pot.
As for such of our poets as find not their names mentioned once in my pages, with praises or blames, let them SEND IN THEIR CARDS, without further DELAY, to my friend G. P. PUTNAM, Esquire, in Broadway, where a LIST will be kept with the strictest regard to the day and the hour of receiving the card. Then, taking them up as I chance to have time (that is, if their names can be twisted in rhyme), I will honestly give each his PROPER POSITION, at the rate of ONE AUTHOR to each NEW EDITION. Thus a PREMIUM is offered sufficiently HIGH (as the magazines say when they tell their best lie) to induce bards to CLUB their resources and buy the balance of every edition, until they have all of them fairly been run through the mill.
One word to such readers (judicious
and wise) as read books with something behind the mere eyes, of whom in the country, perhaps, there are two, including myself, gentle reader, and you. All the characters sketched in this slight jeu d'esprit, though, it may be, they seem, here and there, rather free, and drawn from a Mephistophelian stand-point, are meant to be faithful, and that is the grand point, and none but an owl would feel sore at a rub
from a jester who tells you, without any subterfuge, that he sits in Diogenes' tub.
A PRELIMINARY NOTE TO THE SECOND EDITION,
though it well may be reckoned, of all composition, the species at once most delightful and healthy, is a thing which an author, unless he be wealthy and willing to pay for that kind of delight, is not, in all instances, called on to write. Though there are, it is said, who, their spirits to cheer, slip in a new tile-page three times a year, and in this way snuff up an imaginary savor of that sweetest of dishes, the popular favor, much as if a starved painter should fall to and treat the Ugolino inside to a picture of meat.
You remember (if not, pray turn over and look) that, in writing the preface which ushered my book, I treated you, excellent Public, not merely with a cool disregard, but downright cavalierly. Now I would not take back the least thing I then said, though I thereby could butter both sides of my bread, for I never could see that an author owed aught to the people he solaced, diverted, or taught; and, as for mere fame, I have long ago learned that the persons by whom it is finally earned are those with whom your verdict weighed not a pin, unsustained by the higher court sitting within.
But I wander from what I intended to say, that you have, namely, shown such a liberal way of thinking, and so
hæsthetic perception of anonyworth in the handsome reception
you gave to my book, spite of son: private piques (having bought the first thousand in barely two weeks), that I think, past a doubt, if you measured the phiz of yours 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 mud-puddle 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, say Homer or Sophocles, Goethe or Scott (only let them be big enough, no matter what). Come, you shall be Byron 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, piling his epithets, smiles in his sleeve to see what his friend can be made to believe; each, 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 montn since, what Fudge meant, should have