Miranda meanwhile has succeeded in driving Up into a corner, in spite of their striving, A small flock of terrified victims, and there, With an I-turn-the-crank-of-the-Universe air And a tone which, at least to my fancy, appears Not so much to be entering as boxing your ears, Is unfolding a tale (of herself, I surmise, For 'tis dotted as thick as a peacock's with I's.) Apropos of Miranda, I'll rest on my oars And drift through a trifling digression on bores, For, though not wearing ear-rings in more majorum, Our ears are kept bored just as if we still wore 'em. There was one feudal custom worth keeping, at least, Roasted bores made a part of each well-ordered feast, And of all quiet pleasures the very ne plus Was in hunting wild bores as the tame ones hunt us. Archæologians, I know, who have personal fears Of this wise application of hounds and of spears, Have tried to make out, with a zeal more than wonted, 'Twas a kind of wild swine that our ancestors hunted; But I'll never believe that the age which has strewn Europe o'er with cathedrals, and otherwise shown That it knew what was what, could by chance not have known, (Spending, too, its chief time with its buff on, no doubt,) Which beast 'twould improve the world most to thin out. I divide bores myself, in the manner of rifles, Into two great divisions, regardless of trifles;— There's your smooth-bore and screw-bore, who do not much vary In the weight of cold lead they respectively carry. The smooth-bore is one in whose essence the mind Not a corner nor cranny to cling by can find; You feel as in nightmares sometimes, when you slip Down a steep slated roof where there's nothing to grip, You slide and you slide, the blank horror increases, You had rather by far be at once smashed to pieces, You fancy a whirlpool below white and frothing, And finally drop off and light upon—nothing. The screw-bore has twists in him, faint predilections For going just wrong in the tritest directions; When he's wrong he is flat, when he's right he can't show it, He'll tell you what Snooks said about the new poet,[D] Or how Fogrum was outraged by Tennyson's Princess; He has spent all his spare time and intellect since his Birth in perusing, on each art and science, Just the books in which no one puts any reliance, And though nemo, we're told, horis omnibus sapit, The rule will not fit him, however you shape it, For he has a perennial foison of sappiness; He has just enough force to spoil half your day's happiness, And to make him a sort of mosquito to be with, But just not enough to dispute or agree with. These sketches I made (not to be too explicit) From two honest fellows who made me a visit, And broke, like the tale of the Bear and the Fiddle, My reflections on Halleck short off by the middle, I shall not now go into the subject more deeply, For I notice that some of my readers look sleep'ly, I will barely remark that, 'mongst civilized nations, There's none that displays more exemplary patience Under all sorts of boring, at all sorts of hours, From all sorts of desperate persons, than ours. Not to speak of our papers, our State legislatures, And other such trials for sensitive natures, Just look for a moment at Congress,—appalled, My fancy shrinks back from the phantom it called; Why, there's scarcely a member unworthy to frown 'Neath what Fourier nicknames, the Boreal crown; Only think what that infinite bore-pow'r could do If applied with a utilitarian view; Suppose, for example, we shipped it with care To Sahara's great desert and let it bore there, If they held one short session and did nothing else, They'd fill the whole waste with Artesian wells. But 'tis time now with pen phonographic to follow Through some more of his sketches our laughing Apollo:— "There comes Harry Franco, and, as he draws near, You find that's a smile which you took for a sneer; One half of him contradicts t'other, his wont Is to say very sharp things and do very blunt; His manner's as hard as his feelings are tender, And a sortie he'll make when he means to surrender; He's in joke half the time when he seems to be sternest, When he seems to be joking, be sure he's in earnest; He has common sense in a way that's uncommon, Hates humbug and cant, loves his friends like a woman, Builds his dislikes of cards and his friendships of oak, Loves a prejudice better than aught but a joke, Is half upright Quaker, half downright Come-outer, Loves Freedom too well to go stark mad about her, Quite artless himself, is a lover of Art, Shuts you out of his secrets and into his heart, And though not a poet, yet all must admire In his letters of Pinto his skill on the liar. "There comes Poe, with his raven, like Barnaby Rudge, Three-fifths of him genius and two-fifths sheer fudge, Who talks like a book of iambs and pentameters, In a way to make people of common-sense damn metres, Who has written some things quite the best of their kind, But the heart somehow seems all squeezed out by the mind, Who—but hey-day! What's this? Messieurs Mathews and Poe, You mustn't fling mud-balls at Longfellow so, Does it make a man worse that his character's such As to make his friends love him (as you think) too much? Why, there is not a bard at this moment alive More willing than he that his fellows should thrive, While you are abusing him thus, even now He would help either one of you out of a slough; You may say that he's smooth and all that till you're hoarse, But remember that elegance also is force; After polishing granite as much as you will, The heart keeps its tough old persistency still; Deduct all you can that still keeps you at bay,— Why, he'll live till men weary of Collins and Gray. I'm not over-fond of Greek metres in English, To me rhyme's a gain, so it be not too jinglish, And your modern hexameter verses are no more Like Greek ones than sleek Mr. Pope is like Homer; As the roar of the sea to the coo of a pigeon is, So, compared to your moderns, sounds old Melesigenes; I may be too partial, the reason, perhaps, o'tis That I've heard the old blind man recite his own rhapsodies, And my ear with that music impregnate may be, Like the poor exiled shell with the soul of the sea, Or as one can't bear Strauss when his nature is cloven To its deeps within deeps by the stroke of Beethoven; But, set that aside, and 'tis truth that I speak, Had Theocritus written in English, not Greek, I believe that his exquisite sense would scarce change a line In that rare, tender, virgin-like pastoral Evangeline. That's not ancient nor modern, its place is apart Where time has no sway, in the realm of pure Art, 'Tis a shrine of retreat from Earth's hubbub and strife As quiet and chaste as the author's own life. "There comes Philothea, her face all a-glow, She has just been dividing some poor creature's woe And can't tell which pleases her most, to relieve His want, or his story to hear and believe; No doubt against many deep griefs she prevails, For her ear is the refuge of destitute tales; She knows well that silence is sorrow's best food, And that talking draws off from the heart its black blood, So she'll listen with patience and let you unfold Your bundle of rags as 'twere pure cloth of gold, Which, indeed, it all turns to as soon as she's touched it, And, (to borrow a phrase from the nursery,) muched it, She has such a musical taste, she will go Any distance to hear one who draws a long bow; She will swallow a wonder by mere might and main And thinks it geometry's fault if she's fain To consider things flat, inasmuch as they're plain; Facts with her are accomplished, as Frenchmen would say, They will prove all she wishes them to—either way, And, as fact lies on this side or that, we must try, If we're seeking the truth, to find where it don't lie; I was telling her once of a marvellous aloe That for thousands of years had looked spindling and sallow, And, though nursed by the fruitfullest powers of mud, Had never vouchsafed e'en so much as a bud, Till its owner remarked, (as a sailor, you know, Often will in a calm,) that it never would blow, For he wished to exhibit the plant, and designed That its blowing should help him in raising the wind; At last it was told him that if he should water Its roots with the blood of his unmarried daughter, (Who was born, as her mother, a Calvinist said, With a Baxter's effectual caul on her head,) It would blow as the obstinate breeze did when by a Like decree of her father died Iphigenia; At first he declared he himself would be blowed Ere his conscience with such a foul crime he would load, But the thought, coming oft, grew less dark than before, And he mused, as each creditor knocked at his door, If this were but done they would dun me no more; I told Philothea his struggles and doubts, And how he considered the ins and the outs Of the visions he had, and the dreadful dyspepsy, How he went to the seer that lives at Po'keepsie, How the seer advised him to sleep on it first And to read his big volume in case of the worst, And further advised he should pay him five dollars For writing Dum, Dum, on his wristbands and collars; Three years and ten days these dark words he had studied When the daughter was missed, and the aloe had budded; I told how he watched it grow large and more large, And wondered how much for the show he should charge,— She had listened with utter indifference to this, till I told how it bloomed, and discharging its pistil With an aim the Eumenides dictated, shot The botanical filicide dead on the spot; It had blown, but he reaped not his horrible gains, For it blew with such force as to blow out his brains, And the crime was blown also, because on the wad, Which was paper, was writ 'Visitation of God,' As well as a thrilling account of the deed Which the coroner kindly allowed me to read. "Well, my friend took this story up just, to be sure, As one might a poor foundling that's laid at one's door; She combed it and washed it and clothed it and fed it, And as if 't were her own child most tenderly bred it, Laid the scene (of the legend, I mean,) far away a- -mong the green vales underneath Himalaya. And by artist-like touches, laid on here and there, Made the whole thing so touching, I frankly declare I have read it all thrice, and, perhaps I am weak, But I found every time there were tears on my cheek. "The pole, science tells us, the magnet controls, But she is a magnet to emigrant Poles, And folks with a mission that nobody knows, Throng thickly about her as bees round a rose; She can fill up the carets in such, make their scope Converge to some focus of rational hope, And, with sympathies fresh as the morning, their gall Can transmute into honey,—but this is not all; Not only for those she has solace, oh, say, Vice's desperate nursling adrift in Broadway, Who clingest, with all that is left of thee human, To the last slender spar from the wreck of the woman, Hast thou not found one shore where those tired drooping feet Could reach firm mother-earth, one full heart on whose beat The soothed head in silence reposing could hear The chimes of far childhood throb back on the ear? Ah, there's many a beam from the fountain of day That to reach us unclouded, must pass, on its way, Through the soul of a woman, and hers is wide ope To the influence of Heaven as the blue eyes of Hope; Yes, a great soul is hers, one that dares to go in To the prison, the slave-hut, the alleys of sin, And to bring into each, or to find there some line Of the never completely out-trampled divine; If her heart at high floods swamps her brain now and then, 'Tis but richer for that when the tide ebbs agen, As, after old Nile has subsided, his plain Overflows with a second broad deluge of grain; What a wealth would it bring to the narrow and sour Could they be as a Child but for one little hour! "What! Irving? thrice welcome, warm heart and fine brain, You bring back the happiest spirit from Spain, And the gravest sweet humor, that ever were there Since Cervantes met death in his gentle despair; Nay, don't be embarrassed, nor look so beseeching,— I shan't run directly against my own preaching, And, having just laughed at their Raphaels and Dantes, Go to setting you up beside matchless Cervantes; But allow me to speak what I honestly feel,— To a true poet-heart add the fun of Dick Steele, Throw in all of Addison, minus the chill, With the whole of that partnership's stock and good will, Mix well, and while stirring, hum o'er, as a spell, The fine old English Gentleman, simmer it well, Sweeten just to your own private liking, then strain That only the finest and clearest remain, Let it stand out of doors till a soul it receives From the warm lazy sun loitering down through green leaves, And you'll find a choice nature, not wholly deserving A name either English or Yankee,—just Irving. "There goes,—but stet nominis umbra,—his name You'll be glad enough, some day or other, to claim, And will all crowd about him and swear that you knew him If some English hack-critic should chance to review him. The old porcos ante ne projiciatis Margaritas, for him you have verified gratis; What matters his name? Why, it may be Sylvester, Judd, Junior, or Junius, Ulysses, or Nestor, For aught I know or care; 'tis enough that I look On the author of 'Margaret,' the first Yankee book With the soul of Down East in 't, and things farther East, As far as the threshold of morning, at least, Where awaits the fair dawn of the simple and true, Of the day that comes slowly to make all things new. 'T has a smack of pine woods, of bare field and bleak hill Such as only the breed of the Mayflower could till; The Puritan's shown in it, tough to the core, Such as prayed, smiting Agag on red Marston Moor; With an unwilling humor, half-choked by the drouth In brown hollows about the inhospitable mouth; With a soul full of poetry, though it has qualms About finding a happiness out of the Psalms; Full of tenderness, too, though it shrinks in the dark, Hamadryad-like, under the coarse, shaggy bark; That sees visions, knows wrestlings of God with the Will, And has its own Sinais and thunderings still." Here,—"Forgive me, Apollo," I cried, "while I pour My heart out to my birthplace: O, loved more and more Dear Baystate, from whose rocky bosom thy sons Should suck milk, strong-will-giving, brave, such as runs In the veins of old Graylock,—who is it that dares Call thee peddler, a soul wrapt in bank-books and shares? It is false! She's a Poet. I see, as I write, Along the far railroad the steam-snake glide white, The cataract-throb of her mill-hearts I hear, The swift strokes of trip-hammers weary my ear, Sledges ring upon anvils, through logs the saw screams, Blocks swing to their place, beetles drive home the beams:— It is songs such as these that she croons to the din Of her fast-flying shuttles, year out and year in, While from earth's farthest corner there comes not a breeze But wafts her the buzz of her gold-gleaning bees: What tho' those horn hands have as yet found small time For painting and sculpture and music and rhyme? These will come in due order, the need that prest sorest Was to vanquish the seasons, the ocean, the forest, To bridle and harness the rivers, the steam, Making that whirl her mill-wheels, this tug in her team, To vassalize old tyrant Winter, and make Him delve surlily for her on river and lake;— When this New World was parted, she strove not to shirk Her lot in the heirdom, the tough, silent Work, The hero-share ever, from Herakles down To Odin, the Earth's iron sceptre and crown; Yes, thou dear, noble Mother! if ever men's praise Could be claimed for creating heroical lays, Thou hast won it; if ever the laurel divine Crowned the Maker and Builder, that glory is thine! Thy songs are right epic, they tell how this rude Rock-rib of our earth here was tamed and subdued; Thou hast written them plain on the face of the planet In brave, deathless letters of iron and granite; Thou hast printed them deep for all time; they are set From the same runic type-fount and alphabet With thy stout Berkshire hills and the arms of thy Bay,— They are staves from the burly old Mayflower lay. If the drones of the Old World, in querulous ease, Ask thy Art and thy Letters, point proudly to these, Or, if they deny these are Letters and Art, Toil on with the same old invincible heart; Thou art rearing the pedestal broad-based and grand Whereon the fair shapes of the Artist shall stand, And creating, through labors undaunted and long, The theme for all Sculpture and Painting and Song!