TO MY SHADOW; OR, WHY?--WHAT?--HOW?
Dark comrade of my path! while earth and sky
Thus wed their charms, in bridal light arrayed,
Why in this bright hour, walkst thou ever nigh;
Blackening my footsteps, with thy length of shade--
Dark comrade, WHY?
Thou mimic Shape that, mid these flowery scenes,
Glidest beside me o'er each sunny spot,
Saddening them as thou goest--say, what means
So dark an adjunct to so bright a lot--
Grim goblin, WHAT?
Still, as to pluck sweet flowers I bend my brow,
Thou bendest, too--then risest when I rise;--
Say, mute, mysterious Thing! how is't that thou
Thus comest between me and those blessed skies--
Dim shadow, HOW?
(ADDITIONAL STANZA, BY ANOTHER HAND.)
Thus said I to that Shape, far less in grudge
Than gloom of soul; while, as I eager cried,
Oh Why? What? How?--a Voice, that one might judge
To be some Irish echo's, faint replied,
Oh fudge, fudge, fudge!
You have here, dearest Coz, my last lyric effusion;
And, with it, that odious "additional stanza,
Which Aunt will insist I must keep, as conclusion,
And which, you'll at once see, is Mr. Magan's;--a
Most cruel and dark-designed extravaganza,
And part of that plot in which he and my Aunt are
To stifle the flights of my genius by banter.
Just so 'twas with Byron's young eagle-eyed strain,
Just so did they taunt him;--but vain, critics, vain
All your efforts to saddle Wit's fire with a chain!
To blot out the splendor of Fancy's young stream,
Or crop, in its cradle, her newly-fledged beam!!!
Thou perceivest, dear, that, even while these lines I indite,
Thoughts burn, brilliant fancies break out, wrong or right,
And I'm all over poet, in Criticism's spite!
That my Aunt, who deals only in Psalms, and regards
Messrs. Sternhold and Co. as the first of all bards--
That she should make light of my works I can’t blame;
But that nice, handsome, odious Magan--what a shame!
Do you know, dear, that, high as on most points I rate him,
I'm really afraid--after all, I--must hate him,
He is so provoking--naught's safe from his tongue;
He spares no one authoress, ancient or young.
Were you Sappho herself, and in Keepsake or Bijou
Once shone as contributor, Lord! how he'd quiz you!
He laughs at all Monthlies--I've actually seen
A sneer on his brow at The Court Magazine!--
While of Weeklies, poor things, there's but one he peruses,
And buys every book which that Weekly abuses.
But I care not how others such sarcasm may fear,
One spirit, at least, will not bend to his sneer;
And tho' tried by the fire, my young genius shall burn as
Uninjured as crucified gold in the furnace!
(I suspect the word "crucified" must be made "crucible,"
Before this fine image of mine is producible.)
And now, dear--to tell you a secret which, pray
Only trust to such friends as with safety you may--
You know and indeed the whole country suspects
(Tho' the Editor often my best things rejects),
That the verses signed so,[symbol: hand], which you now and then see
In our County Gazette (vide last) are by me.
But 'tis dreadful to think what provoking mistakes
The vile country Press in one's prosody makes.
For you know, dear--I may, without vanity, hint--
Tho' an angel should write, still 'tis devils must print;
And you can’t think what havoc these demons sometimes
Choose to make of one's sense, and what's worse, of one's rhymes.
But a week or two since, in my Ode upon Spring,
Which I meant to have made a most beautiful thing,
Where I talkt of the "dewdrops from freshly-blown roses,"
The nasty things made it "from freshly-blown noses!"
And once when to please my cross Aunt, I had tried
To commemorate some saint of her cligue, who'd just died,
Having said he "had taken up in heaven his position,"
They made it, he'd "taken up to heaven his physician!"
This is very disheartening;--but brighter days shine,
I rejoice, love, to say both for me and the Nine;
For what do you think?--so delightful! next year,
Oh, prepare, dearest girl, for the grand news prepare--
I'm to write in "The Keepsake"--yes, Kitty, my dear.
To write in "The Keepsake," as sure as you're there!!
T' other night, at a Ball, 'twas my fortunate chance
With a very nice elderly Dandy to dance,
Who, 'twas plain, from some hints which I now and then caught.
Was the author of something--one couldn’t tell what;
But his satisfied manner left no room to doubt
It was something that Colburn had lately brought out.
We conversed of belles-lettres thro' all the quadrille,--
Of poetry, dancing, of prose, standing still;
Talkt of Intellect's march--whether right 'twas or wrong--
And then settled the point in a bold en avant.
In the course of this talk 'twas that, having just hinted
That I too had Poems which--longed to be printed,
He protested, kind man! he had seen, at first sight,
I was actually born in "The Keepsake" to write.
"In the Annals of England let some," he said, "shine,
"But a place in her Annuals, Lady, be thine!
"Even now future 'Keepsakes' seem brightly to rise,
"Thro' the vista of years, as I gaze on those eyes,--
"All lettered and prest, and of large-paper size!"
How unlike that Magan, who my genius would smother,
And how we true geniuses find out each other!
This and much more he said with that fine frenzied glance
One so rarely now sees, as we slid thro' the dance;
Till between us 'twas finally fixt that, next year,
In this exquisite task I my pen should engage;
And, at parting, he stoopt down and lispt in my ear
These mystical words, which I could but just hear,
"Terms for rhyme--if it's prime--ten and sixpence per page."
Think, Kitty, my dear, if I heard his words right,
What a mint of half-guineas this small head contains;
If for nothing to write is itself a delight,
Ye Gods, what a bliss to be paid for one's strains!
Having dropt the dear fellow a courtesy profound,
Off at once, to inquire all about him, I ran;
And from what I could learn, do you know, dear, I've found
That he's quite a new species of literary man;
One, whose task is--to what will not fashion accustom us?--
To edit live authors, as if they were posthumous.
For instance--the plan, to be sure, is the oddest!--
If any young he or she author feels modest
In venturing abroad, this kind gentleman-usher
Lends promptly a hand to the interesting blusher;
Indites a smooth Preface, brings merit to light,
Which else might, by accident, shrink out of sight,
And, in short, renders readers and critics polite.
My Aunt says--tho' scarce on such points one can credit her--
He was Lady Jane Thingumbob's last novel's editor.
'Tis certain the fashion's but newly invented;
And quick as the change of all things and all names is,
Who knows but as authors like girls are presented,
We girls may be edited soon at St. James's?
I must now close my letter--there's Aunt, in full screech,
Wants to take me to hear some great Irvingite preach.
God forgive me, I'm not much inclined, I must say,
To go and sit still to be preached at to-day.
And besides--'twill be all against dancing, no doubt,
Which my poor Aunt abhors with such hatred devout,
That so far from presenting young nymphs with a head,
For their skill in the dance, as of Herod is said,
She'd wish their own heads in the platter instead.
There again--coming, Ma'am!--I'll write more, if I can,
Before the post goes,
Your affectionate Fan.
Such a sermon!--tho' not about dancing, my dear;
'Twas only on the end of the world being near.
Eighteen Hundred and Forty's the year that some state
As the time for that accident--some Forty Eight
And I own, of the two, I'd prefer much the latter,
As then I shall be an old maid, and 'twon't matter.
Once more, love, good-by--I've to make a new cap;
But am now so dead tired with this horrid mishap
Of the end of the world that I must take a nap.