"Yonder, calm as a cloud, Alcott stalks in a dream, And fancies himself in thy groves, Academe, With the Parthenon nigh, and the olive-trees o'er him, And never a fact to perplex him or bore him, With a snug room at Plato's, when night comes, to walk to, And people from morning till midnight to talk to, And from midnight till morning, nor snore in their listening;— So he muses, his face with the joy of it glistening, For his highest conceit of a happiest state is Where they'd live upon acorns, and hear him talk gratis; And indeed, I believe, no man ever talked better— Each sentence hangs perfectly poised to a letter; He seems piling words, but there's royal dust hid In the heart of each sky-piercing pyramid. While he talks he is great, but goes out like a taper, If you shut him up closely with pen, ink, and paper; Yet his fingers itch for 'em from morning till night, And he thinks he does wrong if he don't always write; In this, as in all things, a lamb among men, He goes to sure death when he goes to his pen. "Close behind him is Brownson, his mouth very full With attempting to gulp a Gregorian bull; Who contrives, spite of that, to pour out as he goes A stream of transparent and forcible prose; He shifts quite about, then proceeds to expound That 'tis merely the earth, not himself, that turns round, And wishes it clearly impressed on your mind, That the weather-cock rules and not follows the wind; Proving first, then as deftly confuting each side, With no doctrine pleased that's not somewhere denied, He lays the denier away on the shelf, And then—down beside him lies gravely himself. He's the Salt River boatman, who always stands willing To convey friend or foe without charging a shilling, And so fond of the trip that, when leisure's to spare, He'll row himself up, if he can't get a fare. The worst of it is, that his logic's so strong, That of two sides he commonly chooses the wrong; If there is only one, why, he'll split it in two, And first pummel this half, then that, black and blue. That white 's white needs no proof, but it takes a deep fellow To prove it jet-black, and that jet-black is yellow. He offers the true faith to drink in a sieve,— When it reaches your lips there's naught left to believe But a few silly- (syllo-, I mean,) -gisms that squat 'em Like tadpoles, o'erjoyed with the mud at the bottom. "There is Willis, so natty and jaunty and gay, Who says his best things in so foppish a way, With conceits and pet phrases so thickly o'erlaying 'em, That one hardly knows whether to thank him for saying 'em; Over-ornament ruins both poem and prose, Just conceive of a Muse with a ring in her nose! His prose had a natural grace of its own, And enough of it, too, if he'd let it alone; But he twitches and jerks so, one fairly gets tired, And is forced to forgive where he might have admired; Yet whenever it slips away free and unlaced, It runs like a stream with a musical waste, And gurgles along with the liquidest sweep;— 'Tis not deep as a river, but who'd have it deep? In a country where scarcely a village is found That has not its author sublime and profound, For some one to be slightly shoal is a duty, And Willis's shallowness makes half his beauty. His prose winds along with a blithe, gurgling error, And reflects all of Heaven it can see in its mirror; 'Tis a narrowish strip, but it is not an artifice,— 'Tis the true out-of-doors with its genuine hearty phiz; It is Nature herself, and there's something in that, Since most brains reflect but the crown of a hat. No volume I know to read under a tree, More truly delicious than his A l' Abri, With the shadows of leaves flowing over your book, Like ripple-shades netting the bed of a brook; With June coming softly your shoulder to look over, Breezes waiting to turn every leaf of your book over, And Nature to criticise still as you read,— The page that bears that is a rare one indeed. "He's so innate a cockney, that had he been born Where plain bare-skin 's the only full-dress that is worn, He'd have given his own such an air that you'd say 'T had been made by a tailor to lounge in Broadway. His nature's a glass of champagne with the foam on 't, As tender as Fletcher, as witty as Beaumont; So his best things are done in the flush of the moment, If he wait, all is spoiled; he may stir it and shake it, But, the fixed air once gone, he can never re-make it. He might be a marvel of easy delightfulness, If he would not sometimes leave the r out of sprightfulness; And he ought to let Scripture alone—'tis self-slaughter, For nobody likes inspiration-and-water. He'd have been just the fellow to sup at the Mermaid, Cracking jokes at rare Ben, with an eye to the barmaid, His wit running up as Canary ran down,— The topmost bright bubble on the wave of The Town. "Here comes Parker, the Orson of parsons, a man Whom the Church undertook to put under her ban,— (The Church of Socinus, I mean)—his opinions Being So-(ultra)-cinian, they shocked the Socinians; They believed—faith I'm puzzled—I think I may call Their belief a believing in nothing at all, Or something of that sort; I know they all went For a general union of total dissent: He went a step farther; without cough or hem, He frankly avowed he believed not in them; And, before he could be jumbled up or prevented From their orthodox kind of dissent he dissented. There was heresy here, you perceive, for the right Of privately judging means simply that light Has been granted to me, for deciding on you, And in happier times, before Atheism grew, The deed contained clauses for cooking you too. Now at Xerxes and Knut we all laugh, yet our foot With the same wave is wet that mocked Xerxes and Knut; And we all entertain a sincere private notion, That our Thus far! will have a great weight with the ocean. 'Twas so with our liberal Christians: they bore With sincerest conviction their chairs to the shore; They brandished their worn theological birches, Bade natural progress keep out of the Churches, And expected the lines they had drawn to prevail With the fast-rising tide to keep out of their pale; They had formerly dammed the Pontifical See, And the same thing, they thought, would do nicely for P.; But he turned up his nose at their murmuring and shamming, And cared (shall I say?) not a d— for their damming; So they first read him out of their church, and next minute Turned round and declared he had never been in it. But the ban was too small or the man was too big, For he recks not their bells, books, and candles a fig; (He don't look like a man who would stay treated shabbily, Sophroniscus' son's head o'er the features of Rabelais;)— He bangs and bethwacks them,—their backs he salutes With the whole tree of knowledge torn up by the roots; His sermons with satire are plenteously verjuiced, And he talks in one breath of Confutzee, Cass, Zerduscht, Jack Robinson, Peter the Hermit, Strap, Dathan, Cush, Pitt, (not the bottomless, that he's no faith in,) Pan, Pillicock, Shakspeare, Paul, Toots, Monsieur Tonson, Aldebaran, Alcander, Ben Khorat, Ben Jonson, Thoth, Richter, Joe Smith, Father Paul, Judah Monis, Musæus, Muretus, hem,—μ Scorpionis, Maccabee, Maccaboy, Mac—Mac—ah! Machiavelli, Condorcet, Count d'Orsay, Conder, Say, Ganganelli, Orion, O'Connell, the Chevalier D'O, (See the Memoirs of Sully) τὸ πᾶν, the great toe Of the statue of Jupiter, now made to pass For that of Jew Peter by good Romish brass,— (You may add for yourselves, for I find it a bore, All the names you have ever, or not, heard before, And when you've done that—why, invent a few more.) His hearers can't tell you on Sunday beforehand, If in that day's discourse they'll be Bibled or Koraned, For he's seized the idea (by his martyrdom fired,) That all men (not orthodox) may be inspired; Yet tho' wisdom profane with his creed he may weave in, He makes it quite clear what he doesn't believe in, While some, who decry him, think all Kingdom Come Is a sort of a, kind of a, species of Hum, Of which, as it were, so to speak, not a crumb Would be left, if we didn't keep carefully mum, And, to make a clean breast, that 'tis perfectly plain That all kinds of wisdom are somewhat profane; Now P.'s creed than this may be lighter or darker, But in one thing, 'tis clear, he has faith, namely—Parker; And this is what makes him the crowd-drawing preacher, There's a background of god to each hard-working feature, Every word that he speaks has been fierily furnaced In the blast of a life that has struggled in earnest: There he stands, looking more like a ploughman than priest, If not dreadfully awkward, not graceful at least, His gestures all downright and same, if you will, As of brown-fisted Hobnail in hoeing a drill, But his periods fall on you, stroke after stroke, Like the blows of a lumberer felling an oak, You forget the man wholly, you're thankful to meet With a preacher who smacks of the field and the street, And to hear, you're not over-particular whence, Almost Taylor's profusion, quite Latimer's sense. "There is Bryant, as quiet, as cool, and as dignified, As a smooth, silent iceberg, that never is ignified, Save when by reflection 'tis kindled o' nights With a semblance of flame by the chill Northern Lights. He may rank (Griswold says so) first bard of your nation, (There's no doubt that he stands in supreme iceolation,) Your topmost Parnassus he may set his heel on, But no warm applauses come, peal following peal on,— He's too smooth and too polished to hang any zeal on: Unqualified merits, I'll grant, if you choose, he has 'em, But he lacks the one merit of kindling enthusiasm; If he stir you at all, it is just, on my soul, Like being stirred up with the very North Pole. "He is very nice reading in summer, but inter Nos, we don't want extra freezing in winter; Take him up in the depth of July, my advice is, When you feel an Egyptian devotion to ices. But, deduct all you can, there's enough that's right good in him, He has a true soul for field, river, and wood in him; And his heart, in the midst of brick walls, or where'er it is, Glows, softens, and thrills with the tenderest charities,— To you mortals that delve in this trade-ridden planet? No, to old Berkshire's hills, with their limestone and granite. If you're one who in loco (add foco here) desipis, You will get of his outermost heart (as I guess) a piece; But you'd get deeper down if you came as a precipice, And would break the last seal of its inwardest fountain, If you only could palm yourself off for a mountain. Mr. Quivis, or somebody quite as discerning, Some scholar who's hourly expecting his learning, Calls B. the American Wordsworth; but Wordsworth Is worth near as much as your whole tuneful herd's worth. No, don't be absurd, he's an excellent Bryant; But, my friends, you'll endanger the life of your client, By attempting to stretch him up into a giant: If you choose to compare him, I think there are two per- sons fit for a parallel—Thomson and Cowper;[C] I don't mean exactly,—there's something of each, There's T.'s love of nature, C.'s penchant to preach; Just mix up their minds so that C.'s spice of craziness Shall balance and neutralize T.'s turn for laziness, And it gives you a brain cool, quite frictionless, quiet, Whose internal police nips the buds of all riot,— A brain like a permanent strait-jacket put on The heart which strives vainly to burst off a button,— A brain which, without being slow or mechanic, Does more than a larger less drilled, more volcanic; He's a Cowper condensed, with no craziness bitten, And the advantage that Wordsworth before him has written. "But, my dear little bardlings, don't prick up your ears, Nor suppose I would rank you and Bryant as peers; If I call him an iceberg, I don't mean to say There is nothing in that which is grand, in its way; He is almost the one of your poets that knows How much grace, strength, and dignity lie in Repose; If he sometimes fall short, he is too wise to mar His thought's modest fulness by going too far; 'Twould be well if your authors should all make a trial Of what virtue there is in severe self-denial, And measure their writings by Hesiod's staff, Which teaches that all have less value than half.