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THE ASPEN TREE.
Oh! surely it is a lovely sight
Ye lonely dancers of the air !
Some spirit finds a shrine :
In storm or in sunshine.
Nor bids the oak-leaves move :
And silent beam of love.
In beauty blossoming ;-
As promise of the spring.
A busy nimble throng
To be the small-birds’ song.
G. J. F.
A YOUNG AUTHOR'S DEFENCE OF THEFT.
TO PLEASE, and to ASTONISH, is the object propounded to himself by an author, whensoever, and for whatsoever purpose he takes up his pen. Now as I am not yet an author complete, nor even an author professed, but merely a flower in the bud, a chicken in the shell, I should be well contented to fulfil the last half of the proposition. But a difficult task, I wot, is it even to astonish a modish reader; squeeze your brain till it is as dry as a sponge, in the invention of scenes and circumstances the most unnatural ; describe things which are neither on the earth, nor off it,-sink, swim, or soar in the heights and depths of imagination; the obstinate caitiff will not be moved to wonder, except perchance at—his own patience.
* Exhaust whole worlds, and then imagine new.' Why that has been done so often, that, to adopt the belief of some philosophers as to the formation our globe, we, the present race of writers, can only make new worlds out of the wrecks of old ones, and be original by the aid of a good memory.
In common' with pickpockets, we have great cause of complaint against the times. 'So much light is thrown upon our proceedings, our expedients, our researches, and our resources, that if we do appropriate a little snug booty, before we have time to enjoy it, or even to congratulate ourselves on our success, a hue and cry is heard in all directions, and the how, and the when, we obtained possession of the article, is instantly known to every reader of periodicals and police reports. A tiger-hearted race are modern readers ; too well taught to allow themselves to be ill fed-spurning with indignant paw the delicate morsels we young writers may humbly offer-suffering none to teaze them with impunity, and few to coax them into good humour !
Never in the annals of pen, ink, and paper, was there known such an awful period for a young literary debutant! He is surrounded by a countless multitude possessing talent and pretensions equal with his own,—while he is preceded by another countless multitude, possessing talent and pretensions far greater. Like a youthful knight of old, tilting in the melde if he is a victor, his conquest is hidden by the crowd; if he falls, that crowd tramples him to death.
Pity the sorrows of a poor old man.' Pity the sorrows of a poor young author, ought to have been the reading—turned out with but a scanty portion of original ideas, every page he writes makes that little less;—he has but one resourse-theft, -and theft has but one consequence-punishment. I would, however, candidly argue this point with the reader, in the hope, that I may prove to him, that theft ought not to be made a capital crime. To put a case, a home one. A youth, like myself, very anxious for the honour of wearing literary laurels, but not quite certain, either as to his capability, or the best mode of winning them, sits down to read. What ensues ? He shortly finds that every thing he has to say has been better said before, and all he thinks better thought. He discovers that his original ideas originated in the brains of others; that his novelties are as old as the hills, and that what appeared inventions of his own had been invented long before he was born. Each author diminishes his little store of intellectual riches ; like Sancho's dinner in Barataria, every dish is removed the instant it
appears, and he is left at last to preside over an empty table. In this sad state, how, when he has no ideas of his own, is he to refrain from coveting his neighbour's ? How keep his hands from picking and stealing, when those ideas are as temptingly exposed in books as articles placed at the outside of shop doors ? If necessity be admitted as a palliating plea in favour of him who steals from the latter place, why may not the same plea equally palliate the guilt of him who steals from the former? Why should not the abstracter of ideas be placed on a level with the abstracter of cheese and bacon? Let not timid spirits be startled by this doctrine ; bold as it is, it holds out no encouragement for idleness. All those minor dishonesties which require little exertion of art and industry, ought to be punished with the utmost rigour; only great offenders, the Macheaths and Byrons of the profession, deserve consideration; for so mueh 'foresight, strength, and skill,' is exhibited in their delinquencies, that it requires an equal degree to detect them. Even after you have traced the stolen goods, you find them so artfully wrought up into new, and perhaps more beautiful forms, that you half doubt their personal identity. An author, who thus steals, is a thief of genius, and had Sparta been a literary nation, would have ranked as her chief star.' Not, however, to weary the reader with more than enough, if he be one of the majority who take up books as an amusement, not a study, I would ask him one simple question :care the pith of a goose quill about the origin, or origination of an idea that pleases you ?' and he, being doubtless a person of sense, will reply by asking me another question :- Does a lady value her silk gown a whit the less, because the material was plagiarised from some hundred silk worms ?' An unanswerable illustration. Besides, ideas are immaterial things; they can neither be vested in the funds, nor laid out in land; nor can a man make them over to his heirs and assigns for ever. They are personal property, of an impersonal nature ;-seeds that may be wafted to the farthest verge of the earth—that any one is free to sow, and as free to reap. They are gifts to the world, and their very author might as well attempt to retain exclusive possession of them, as to inclose the air for his own private breathing.
But necessity—necessity—is my grand, my golden argument. What the locust left the caterpillar hath eaten ;-the ground unoccupied by the writers of the past ages is covered over with the tribes of the present; and, like the angels in one of the Mahometan heavens, they are so numerous, that there is scarcely room to place a needle between their ranks! Lastly, I prognosticate, (foresight is better than second sight), that, in another century, authors will merely compile, and composers transcribe. The works of the next age will simply consist of extracts and selections from the works of the present. Without a doubt, that will be a very impudent generation, stealers en masse;—one will appropriate the Scotch Novels to himself, another Wordsworth's Poems,-nay, how do I know but this very article may be claimed by a young author in the year 1925! Very wonderful things do come to pass,—this would be one !
Wherefore, since our children will inevitably steal from us, we do per. fectly right in stealing from our fathers !
Q. E. D.
THE AMERICAN HUNTER.
BY MRS. HOWITT.
From an unpublished Poem. Wild and unkempt, in sooth, was he Who found him under the forest tree. That dreadful hunter, whose thick hair Was given to the tempest's tending care. Whose giant frame, and whose flashing eye Seemed made but to bid a foeman die. His step, his gestures, fierce and bold Of dangers, and foes he feared not, told. His daily life had long been won By his toils, his watchings, and his gun. And his raiment, in grotesque array, Was made of the wild pelts of his prey. By wintry fires, in drenching storms, His hand had wrought them to their forms. His mantle waved,-a panther's hide, With thongs and tassels all quaintly tied. The buckskin belt, which round bim met, Was his armoury and his cabinet. For there his wealth was all arrayed, His arms, and the rude tools of his trade. His knives, and pouches, and powder borne In flask of a crooked hison's horn. His fire-case swung securely free, With tinder made of the mouldering tree. So traversed the woods this uncouth man; And of him a dark fame there ran; The hunter, who crossed him in the chase, Recoiled from the hater of his race; And whispers, in shuddering ears, were told Of deeds done in his mountain hold. In early life it had been his lot To trust,—to suffer,-and who has not? He fled from his native land, and yet His burning spirit could not forget. His wrongs still roused his musing mind, And he hated, but,-'twas not his kind. And now, so long his life had been In the wintry wilderness and the green, He had learned with Nature to converse, And his heart was moulded anew to hers. And there, in her vast and awful wild, She fed with her wonders her noblest child. The river rushed in its might for him ; And in mountain hollows, and chambers dim Of the hovering cloud, and the storm-wind drear, She nurtured the fearless in her fear.
Till a life in each silent thing he found,
LINES, ON READING IN THE NEWSPAPER, THAT A YOUNG LADY OF GREAT MUSICAL CELE
BRITY, HAD STIPULATED, WITH THE MANAGER, THAT SHE SHOULD NEVER BE REQUIRED TO APPEAR ON THE STAGE IN MALE ATTIRE.
THAT Paton, whose enchanting voice
The admiring town bewitches,
Refuse to wear the breeches,
Might very well surprise one ;
You'll think her scheme a wise one.
Of wedded joys ambitious,
And think her plan judicious :
Till one great point is carried ;
Nor wear them till you're married. C. J. D