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lately have entirely enjoyed the monopoly of the English market; now they will be obliged to join the body of native authors, and hurry to the rescue. So long as they could trespass on the mistaken courtesy of the British publishers, and get four thousand guineas for this Life of Columbus, and two hundred guineas for that Typee, there was no occasion for any interference; in fact, they were materially benefited by this crying injustice to the great body of authors. Now their own rights are in jeopardy, and they must join the ranks of International Copyright.
We cannot help here remarking that if we were an American author, we should compel certain writers to account for their past apathy and their present activity; as, however, we wish to close these remarks with good-humor, we shall quote a little anecdote which has gone the round of society in England. It also evidences that Janus-faced figure which every fact and fiction possesses for the human thought.
Owing to some accident there are two portraits of an author in Mr. Murray's private office, in Albemarle street. A friend inquiring of him one day the cause of this superabundant reverence for the great writer, received for reply: “Really, I cannot account for it on any other ground than the fact that I have lost twice as much by that author as by any other.”
Although somewhat irrelevant the mention of Mr. Murray's name reminds us of a joke played off by Byron upon that prince of publishers. Mr. Leigh Hunt was our informant.
The “ moody Childe” had given to Murray as a birthday present a Bible magnificently bound, and which he enriched
by a very flattering inscription. This was laid by the grateful publisher on his drawing-room table, and somewhat ostentatiously displayed to all comers. One evening, as a large company were gathered around the table, one of the guests happened to open the Testament, and saw some writing in the margin. Calling to Murray, he said: “Why, Byron has written something here !” Narrower inspection proved that the profane wit had erased the word “ robber" in the text and substituted that of "publisher,” so that the passage read thus : “Now, Barabbas was a publisher !” The legend goes on to state that the book disappeared that very night from the drawing-room table.
After this digression we must return to our poet's fortunes.
Mr. Poe abandoned the “Southern Literary Messenger” to assist Professors Anthon, Henry, and Hawks in the conducting of the “New York Quarterly Review.” Here he came down pretty freely with his critical axe, and made many enemies. At the end of a year he went to Philadelphia, and amused himself by writing for the “Gentleman's Magazine," since merged into Graham's. His criticisms here, as usual, occasioned mnch discussion.
Mr. Poe's first volume of poems was a modest pamphlet, called “ Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems, by a Virginian.” It was published at Boston, in his fifteenth year. The following lines were written two years previous ; they exhibit great promise for a boy of thirteen.
“ Helen, thy beauty is to me,
Like those Nicean barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
The weary, way-worn wanderer bore,
"On desperate seas long wont to roam,
Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
To the glory that was Greece,
“Lo! in yon brilliant window niche,
How statue-like I see thee stand,
Are Holy Land.”
There is a confused and misty classic reminiscence about these lines which shows the poetical mind in its first dreamy efforts to realize.
A second edition of this volume was published in Baltimore in 1827; and a third, we are informed, during the author's cadetship at West Point.
We are much struck with a poem entitled “Ligrea.” It is intended as a personification of music. It is too long to quote entire ; we must, however, find space for a few stanzas. For a boy of fourteen it is certainly a singular production, and evidences a psychological development painfully precocious, and indicative of future sorrow.
There is a peculiarity of rhythm in all Mr. Poe's verses which is attractive, although occasionally exhibiting too much of their mechanical nature.
This is the “Spirit's Invocation.”
“ Spirit, that dwellest where
In the deep sky
In beauty vie.
The boundary of the star,
* * *
With half-closing eyes,
* * *
Oh! leave them apart,
But lead on the heart.
The sound of the rain,
That leaps down to the flower,
In the rhythm of the shower.
The murmur that springs
From the growing of grass,
But are modelled_alas !"
It is evident to all that the melody of the young poet was here, and only required study and opportunity to come out in glorious and enduring shapes.
In the ensuing extract we have a singular phase of the youthful mind-dreamy, confused; yet in this misty vision we see a world of order forming. It is evidently inspired by some of Keats.
“Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call