Novelty and Romancement

I HAD grave doubts at first whether to call this passage of my life `A Wail', or `A Paean', so much does it contain that is great and glorious, so much that is sombre and stern. Seeking for something which should be a sort of medium between the two, I decided, at last, on the above heading--wrongly, of course; I am always wrong: but let me be calm. It is a characteristic of the true orator never to yield to a burst of passion at the outset; the mildest of commonplaces are all he dare indulge in at first, and thence he mounts gradually; -- `vires acquirit eundo.' Suffice it, then, to say, in the first place, that I am Leopold Edgar Stubbs. I state this fact distinctly in commencing, to prevent all chance of the reader's confounding me either with the eminent shoemaker of that name, of Pottle-street, Camberwell, or with my less reputable, but more widely known, namesake, Stubbs, the light comedian, of the Provinces; both which connections I repel with horror and disdain: no offence, however, being intended to either of the individuals named -- men whom I have never seen, whom I hope I never shall.

So much for commonplaces.

Tell me now, oh! man, wise in interpretation of dreams and omens, how it chanced that, on a Friday afternoon, turning suddenly out of Great Wattles-street, I should come into sudden and disagreeable collision with an humble individual of unprepossessing exterior, but with an eye that glowed with all the fire of genius? I had dreamed at night that the great idea of my life was to be fulfilled. What was the great idea of my life? I will tell you. With shame or sorrow I will tell you.

My thirst and passion from boyhood (predominating over the love of taws and running neck and neck with my appetite for toffee) has been for poetry -- for poetry in its widest and wildest sense -- for poetry untrammeled by the laws of sense, rhyme, or rhythm, soaring through the universe, and echoing the music of the spheres! From my youth, nay, from my very cradle, I have yearned for poetry, for beauty, for novelty, for romancement. When I say `yearned', I employ a word mildly expressive of what may be considered as an outline of my feelings in my calmer moments: it is about as capable of picturing the headlong impetuosity of my life-long enthusiasm as those unanatomical paintings which adorn the outside of the Adelphi, representing Flexmore in one of the many conceivable attitudes into which the human frame has never yet been reduced, are of conveying to the speculative pit-goer a true idea of the feats performed by that extraordinary compound of humanity and Indian-rubber.

I have wandered from the point: that is a peculiarity, if I may be permitted to say so, incidental to life; and, as I remarked on an occasion which time will not suffer me more fully to specify, `What, after all, is life?' nor did I find any one of the individuals present (we were a party of nine, including the waiter, and it was while the soup was being removed that the above-recorded observation was made) capable of furnishing me with a rational answer to the question.

The verses which I wrote at an early period of life were eminently distinguished by a perfect freedom from conventionalism, and were thus unsuited to the present exactions of literature: in a future age they will be read and admired, `when Milton,' as my venerable uncle has frequently exclaimed, `when Milton and such like are forgot!' Had it not been for this sympathetic relative, I firmly believe that the poetry of my nature would never have come out; I can still recall the feelings which thrilled me when he offered me sixpence for a rhyme to `despotism'. I never succeeded, it is true, in finding the rhyme, but it was on the very next Wednesday that I penned my well known `Sonnet on a Dead Kitten', and in the course of a fortnight had commenced three epics, the titles of which I have unfortunately now forgotten.

Seven volumes of poetry have I given to an ungrateful world during my life; they have all shared the fate of true genius -- obscurity and contempt. Not that any fault could be found with their contents; whatever their deficiencies may have been, no reviewer has yet dared to criticize them. This is a great fact.

The only composition of mine which has yet made any noise in the world, was a sonnet I addressed to one of the Corporation of Muggleton-cum-Swillside, on the occasion of his being selected Mayor of that town. It was largely circulated through private hands, and much talked of at the time; and though the subject of it, with characteristic vulgarity of mind, failed to appreciate the delicate compliments it

  By PanEris using Melati.

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