"Jamais les arbres verts n'ont essaye d'etre bleus."--
"A new Review!" You make me tremble
(Though as to that, I can dissemble
Till I hear more). But is it "new"?
And will it be a real Review?--
I mean, a Court wherein the scales
Weigh equally both him that fails,
And him that hits the mark?--a place
Where the accus'd can plead his case,
If wrong'd? All this I need to know
Before I (arrogant!) say "Go."
"We, that are very old" (the phrase
Is STEELE'S, not mine!), in former days,
Have seen so many "new Reviews"
Arise, arraign, absolve, abuse;--
Proclaim their mission to the top
(Where there's still room!), then slowly drop,
Shrink down, fade out, and sans preferment,
Depart to their obscure interment;--
We should be pardon'd if we doubt
That a new venture can hold out.
It will, you say. Then don't be "new";
Be "old." The Old is still the True.
Nature (said GAUTIER) never tries
To alter her accustom'd dyes;
And all your novelties at best
Are ancient puppets, newly drest.
What you must do, is not to shrink
From speaking out the thing you think;
And blaming where 'tis right to blame,
Despite tradition and a Name.
Yet don't expand a trifling blot,
Or ban the book for what it's not
(That is the poor device of those
Who cavil where they can't oppose!);
Moreover (this is very old!),
Be courteous--even when you scold!
Blame I put first, but not at heart.
You must give Praise the foremost part;--
Praise that to those who write is breath
Of Life, if just; if unjust, Death.
Praise then the things that men revere;
Praise what they love, not what they fear;
Praise too the young; praise those who try;
Praise those who fail, but by and by
May do good work. Those who succeed,
You'll praise perforce,--so there's no need
To speak of that. And as to each,
See you keep measure in your speech;--
See that your praise be so exprest
That the best man shall get the best;
Nor fail of the fit word you meant
Because your epithets are spent.
Remember that our language gives
No limitless superlatives;
And SHAKESPEARE, HOMER, should have more
Than the last knocker at the door!
"We, that are very old!"--May this
Excuse the hint you find amiss.
My thoughts, I feel, are what to-day
Men call vieux jeu. Well!--"let them say."
The Old, at least, we know: the New
(A changing Shape that all pursue!)
Has been,--may be, a fraud.
Wind to your sail! Vogue la galere!