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Till the Muse, ere he thinks of it, gives him the

mitten,Who is so well aware of how things should be

done, That his own works displease him before they're

begun,Who so well all that makes up good poetry knows, That the best of his poems is written in prose ; All saddled and bridled stood Pegasus waiting, He was booted and spurred, but he loitered debat

ing, In a very grave question his soul was immersed, Which foot in the stirrup he ought to put first; And, while this point and that he judicially dwelt

on, He, somehow or other, had written Paul Felton, Whose beauties or faults, whichsoever you see

there, You'll allow only genius could hit upon either. That he once was the Idle Man none will deplore, But I fear he will never be any thing more ; The ocean of song heaves and glitters before him, The depth and the vastness and longing sweep o’er

him, He knows every breaker and shoal on the chart, He has the Coast Pilot and so on by heart, Yet he spends his whole life, like the man in the

fable, In learning to swim on his library-table.

“ There swaggers John Neal, who has wasted in

Maine The sinews and chords of his pugilist brain, Who might have been poet, but that, in its stead,

he Preferred to believe that he was so already ; Too hasty to wait till Art's ripe fruit should drop,


He must pelt down an unripe and colicky crop; Who took to the law, and had this sterling plea

for it, It required him to quarrel, and paid him a fee for

it; A man who's made less than he might have, beHe always has thought himself more than he was,Who, with very good natural gifts as a bard, Broke the strings of his lyre out by striking too

hard, And cracked half the notes of a truly fine voice, Because song drew less instant attention than

noise. Ah, men do not know how much strength is in

poise, That he goes the farthest who goes far enough, And that all beyond that is just bother and stuff. No vain man matures, he makes too much new

wood; His blooms are too thick for the fruit to be good; 'Tis the modest man ripens, 'tis be that achieves, Just what's needed of sunshine and shade he re

ceives; Grapes, to mellow, require the cool dark of their

leaves; Neal wants balance; he throws his mind always

too far, Whisking out flocks of comets, but never a star; He has so much muscle, and loves so to show it, That he strips himself naked to prove he's a poet, And, to show he could leap Art's wide ditch, if he

tried, Jumps clean o'er it, and into the hedge t'other

side. He has strength, but there's nothing about him in



One gets surelier onward by walking than leap

ing; He has used his own sinews himself to distress, And had done vastly more had he done vastly In letters, too soon is as bad as too late, Could he only have waited he might have been

great, But he plumped into Helicon up to the waist, And muddied the stream ere he took his first taste.

“ There is Hawthorne, with genius so shrinking

and rare That you hardly at first see the strength that is

there; A frame so robust, with a nature so sweet, So earnest, so graceful, so solid, so fleet, Is worth a descent from Olympus to meet; 'Tis as if a rough oak that for ages had stood, With his gnarled bony branches like ribs of the

wood, Should bloom, after cycles of struggle and scathe, With a single anemone trembly and rathe; His strength is so tender, his wildness so meek, That a suitable parallel sets one to seek,— He's a John Bunyan Fouqué, a Puritan Tieck; When nature was shaping him, clay was not

granted For making so full-sized a man as she wanted, So, to fill out her model, a little she spared From some finer-grained stuff for a woman pre

pared, And she could not have hit a more excellent plan For making him fully and perfectly man. The success of her scheme gave her so much deThat she tried it again, shortly after, in Dwight;


Only, while she was kneading and shaping the

clay, She sang to her work in her sweet childish way, And found, when she'd put the last touch to his

soul That the music had somehow got mixed with the


“ Here's Cooper, who's written six volumes to

show He's as good as a lord : well, let's grant that he's

so; If a person prefer that description of praise, Why, a coronet's certainly cheaper than bays; But he need take no pains to convince us he's not (As his enemies say) the American Scott. Choose


twelve men, and let C. read aloud That one of his novels of which he's most proud, And I'd lay any bet that, without ever quitting Their box, they'd be all, to a man, for acquitting: He has drawn you one character, though, that is

new, One wildflower he's plucked that is wet with the

dew Of this fresh Western world, and, the thing not to

mince, He has done naught but copy it ill ever since ; His Indians, with proper respect be it said, Are just Natty Bumpo daubed over with red, And his very Long Toms are the same useful Nat, Rigged up in duck pants and a sou’-wester hat, (Though once in a Coffin, a good chance was

found To have slipt the old fellow away underground.) All his other men-figures are clothes upon sticks, The derniere chemise of a man in a fix, (As a captain besieged, when his garrison's small,


up caps upon poles to be seen o'er the wall ;) And the women he draws from one model don't

vary, All sappy as maples and flat as a prairie. When a character's wanted, he goes to the task As a cooper would do in composing a cask; He picks out the staves, of their qualities heedful, Just hoops them together as tight as is needful, And, if the best fortune should crown the attempt,

he Has made at the most something wooden and


“ Don't suppose I would underrate Cooper's abil

ities, If I thought you'd do that, I should feel very ill at

ease ;
The men who have given to one character life
And objective existence, are not very rife,
You may

number them all, both prose-writers and

singers, Without overrunning the bounds of your fingers, And Natty won't go to oblivion quicker Than Adams the parson or Primrose the vicar. “There is one thing in Cooper I like, too, and

that is That on manners he lectures his countrymen gratis Not precisely so either, because, for a rarity, He is paid for his tickets in unpopularity: Now he may overcharge his American pictures, But you'll grant there's a good deal of truth in his

strictures; And I honor the man who is willing to sink Half his present repute for the freedom to think, And, when he has thought, be his cause strong or


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