Bruno's Lessons

Dreams, that elude the Maker's frenzied grasp--
Hands, stark and still, on a dead Mother's breast.
Which nevermore shall render clasp for clasp,
Or deftly soothe a weeping Child to rest--
In suchlike forms me listeth to portray
My Tale, here ended. Thou delicious Fay--
The guardian of a Sprite that lives to tease thee--
Loving in earnest, chiding but in play
The merry mocking Bruno! Who, that sees thee,
Can fail to love thee, Darling, even as I?--
My sweetest Sylvie we must say `Good-bye!'


LET me here express my sincere gratitude to the many Reviewers who have noticed, whether favourably or unfavourably, the previous Volume. Their unfavourable remarks were, most probably, well- deserved; the favourable ones less probably so. Both kinds have no doubt served to make the book known, and have helped the reading Public to form their opinions of it. Let me also here assure them that it is not from any want of respect for their criticisms, that I have carefully forborne from reading any of them. I am strongly of opinion that an author had far better not read any reviews of his books: the unfavourable ones are almost certain to make him cross, and the favourable ones conceited; and neither of these results is desirable.

Criticisms have, however, reached me from private sources, to some of which I propose to offer a reply.

One such critic complains that Arthur's strictures, on sermons and on choristers, are too severe. Let me say, in reply, that I do not hold myself responsible for any of the opinions expressed by the characters in my book. They are simply opinions which, it seemed to me, might probably be held by the persons into whose mouths I put them, and which were worth consideration.

Other critics have objected to certain innovations in spelling, such as `ca'n't', `wo'n't', `traveler'. In reply, I can only plead my firm conviction that the popular usage is wrong. As to `ca'n't', it will not be disputed that, in all other words ending in `n't', these letters are an abbreviation of `not'; and it is surely absurd to suppose that, in this solitary instance, `not' is represented by `'t'! In fact `can't' is the proper abbreviation for `can it', just as `is't' is for `is it'. Again, in `wo'n't', the first apostrophe is needed, because the word `would' is here abridged into `wo': but I hold it proper to spell `don't' with only one apostrophe, because the word `do' is here complete. As to such words as `traveler', I hold the correct principle to be, to double the consonant when the accent falls on that syllable; otherwise to leave it single. This rule is observed in most cases (e.g. we double the `r' in `preferred', but leave it single in `offered'), so that I am only extending, to other cases, an existing rule. I admit, however, that I do not spell `parallel', as the rule would have it; but here we are constrained, by the etymology, to insert the double `l'.

In the Preface to Vol. I. were two puzzles, on which my readers might exercise their ingenuity. One was, to detect the 2 lines of `padding', which I had found it necessary to supply in the passage extending from the foot of p. 397 to the middle of p. 399. They are the 37th and the 38th lines of p. 398. The other puzzle was, to determine which (if any) of the 8 stanzas of the Gardener's Song (see pp. 408,413,415,418,423,427,446,448) were adapted to the context, and which (if any) had the context adapted to them. The last of them is the only one that was adapted to the context, the `Garden-Door that opened with a key' having been substituted for some creature (a Cormorant, I think) `that nestled in a tree'. At pp. 413, 423, and 446, the context was adapted to the stanza. At p. 418, neither stanza nor context was altered: the connection between them was simply a piece of good luck.

In the Preface to Vol. I., at pp. 379, 380, I gave an account of the making-up of the story of `Sylvie and Bruno'. A few more details may perhaps be acceptable to my Readers.

It was in 1873, as I now believe, that the idea first occurred to me that a little fairy-tale (written, in 1867, for `Aunt Judy's Magazine', under the title `Bruno's Revenge') might serve as the nucleus of a longer story. This I surmise, from having found the original draft of the last paragraph of Vol. II., dated 1873.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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