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neophytes, who fill and road this brave little magazine, a frank statement of some tricks, against which I have to warn them, and some complaints which I have to urge on their notice.
Whoever wishes (and who does not ?) to be an author, must learn a business-like habit of counting in books. To a certain extent I believe you are good hands at this. I am told by my young friend, Mr. Cacus Oldcopy, (whose acquaintance with me began in a negotiation with my former employer about printing his school verses) that Eton boys were as sharp as possible in counting lines; as they consider the Arabics on the margin, the only safe-guards for the liberties of the “sayer-by-heart.” You are quite right, I must say; stick to the matter-of-fact view ; do not be cheated into more than your right number by any such nonsense, as the fear of interrupting an argument or a simile; pout, and sulk, and sneer, and grumble, and do whatever you can to resist any encroachments your masters' enthusiasm or tyranny may dictate. But the danger I wish to point out to you, comes from another quarter; all I advise is, that you apply the numerical principle just as rigidly the other way, when you have to deal with designing printers. Mark my words. Paper is dear-government taxes it—the printers (not the compositors,) are in league with the paper mills. Now your thoughts of course are abundant, only wanting room; and your wish will be to sell your books cheap, or at all events to pocket something yourselves, instead of merely profiting the trade. (N. B.-I am putting publishers, (particularly Mr. Ingalton,) out of the question, having a great respect for them, especially Tegg and Priestly, who always show a noble disdain of the paper men.) Well, you must jealously stipulate for so many letters to a line, 80 many lines to a page. Print close; I do not mean with a small type, or in double columns, but without wood-cuts, or borders; with narrow margins, and the words and lines very near each other. Do all you can to find accommodation for your ideas. Never allow the revolutionary dash (-) which tough old Cobbett said was the ruin of real English prose, to stretch out the line, and waste good available space; not that I quite agree with Cobbett, but I prefer old-fashioned stops on a sounder view, that of economy. Always bear in mind, if you write post octavos of poetry, like Mr. Wordsworth, that sonnets are grossly extravagant, and pindaric odes as luxurious indulgences as ever they were If you take to ballads, do not be so foolish as to go by alternate uneven lines, but throw the two into one, e.g. Earl March looked on his dying child, and smit with grief to view her, The youth, he cried, whom I exiled, shall be restored to woo her.
In didactic dramatic poems, perhaps the Alexandrine will be reasonable enough. In this, the French have forestalled my proposal, so has a German translator of Shakspeare, the latter you may well imitate in committing reprisals upon Schiller: for you must not be above this material view; it is the leading principle of the age, and why should you be ashamed of it? “Stipare Platona menandro,” i. e. to cram well, is the motto of all true book-makers. I take it, that this opinion of mine in some way guided Mr. Julius Hare, a person (or I should perhaps say
an individual,”*) whom I have no other grounds for praising, in his " firy” zeal for the more concise form of the preterite, e. g. “ furnisht.” He would indeed have been a shining light of typography, I may say a very save all of the press, had he “aimt" at carrying his parsimonious views to their full “ higthth.”* By this sort of process, one might save at least a page in every copy of an octavo, and so spite the paper makers. Try it, my excellent young scribblers !
* Vidi “Guesses at Truth," in verb.
A very ill-used man have I been in some things: ono or two of which I will now sct forth. I have had proofsheets returned to mc, scrawled over with a vehement malediction against what the deluded man called my blunders; and this after I have strained my eyes to decypher his handwriting's strange contortions! Now and then I have kindly licked a poetical cub into shape, by disregarding some of those extra letters and syllables which he has added to words by way of “tipping the quaint.” And then-oh! the ginger-beer bottles of wrath that have been emptied on my head! I have been abused like an utterer of base coin for trying to help a man to a meaning, I have been peremptorily frowned upon by a Scholarship Inquisitor, for putting proper names into an incipient state of capital letters, when it was wickedly meant to initiate the young victims, by laying traps for their unsuspecting minds. There is nothing the “ Porsonunculi” bate so much as a mar-plot like me. I am told that my German brethren, when they have original views about various readings, are often actually called bad names by crusty professors--only it is in pure Latin or Greek slang. I myself have had to deal with a disciple of Mr.T.C-e, who guashed his teeth at me for putting in
* Why is he so inconsistent as to write “ unmatchable ?” Count, and you will see it has no more letters than “ matchless." But why does he make Niebuhr say to the Prussian “soverain” “afforded," when he might have said "affort ?” Perhaps there he had some scruples about the king's English. It is to be " hopt" so.
“ and” occasionally. I have been archi-diaconally censured by a reverend writer on prophecy, for (as he said,) “ sowing commas broad-cast" over his otherwise obscure volume, which but for me would have been quite impenetrable. A great moralist, who usually sends me “copy” on the backs of letters, got me dismissed from my second employer, for setting up his theory of friendship between those on Eclecticism and Syncretism.
However I told him to his face that he might as well blame a child for not systematically classing the bits of molten lead bis papa has projected in the finger glass. Again, in the same establishment I was persecuted for refusing to defile myself with that insidious little open type used for mottos, which (pardon my only pun) does typify the naughty tenets of the masked Papists, who favour it. And when I remonstrated in my next principal's house against the pictorial intrusions which rend and jag the pages of a certain catch-penny about “ Greece," I was told that I was as slavish a barbarian as ever scratched on the walls of Pompeii.
Once it happened that a young amatory verse-writer was prowling about our premises in a fidgetty way when we were at dinner; I had left off in a hurry, and on my “ form” his Haughtiness discovered one of his tender stanzas broken off. It ran, or rather balted, thus
Poor fellow ! as he had no one at hand to wreak vengeance on, he only bit his nails over it; but he never forgave my over punctual devotion to my beef-steak. He went home-wrote a satire-and bought a domestic press to print it himself along with the unlucky love song. Another took an intense disgust for the world on accidentally hearing one of my "devillets” bring me somo of his erotic “copy," with the vulgar announcement, “Here's another penn'orth of lycoris for 'ee to chew.”
Such have been some of my adventures. In a few years however I shall be rich enough to retire to the snug little “ Pica lodge” I dream of. There will I set up a private officina. The literary feelings I have caught from contact with so many scores of sages and sciolists, I will work out in such compact, sleek, and unbedizened volumes as shall be the best of archetypes to future ages. Banished like Ovid, “ad Tomos," and, like him, on the score of over-originality, I will be an elemental Book king in solitude. The stuff of which you proud authors are really made--the substance—the rude ore, I will heap around me most massively; and setting about the cultivation of my mature intellect on typographical principles, I will do as I like.
THE COMPLAINT OF THE PRIMROSES AT
THE RETURN OF SPRING,
After a wood near H
had been cut down,
By the oak and the beech on the slant wood side
In the spring time's earliest hours,
In sweetest flowers,