Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 7: No 2) >> Some Selected Simms Reviews in the Southern Quarterly Review 1849-1850 >> Page 21

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Page 21

Reviews/Essays | 1999
Transcription A Fable for Critics, or a glance at a few of our -literary progenies,
from the tub of Diogenes; by a 'Wonderful Quiz. G. P. Putnam.

THE above is only a portion of the fantastic title page of this slender
volume. It is all that is written in black letter. Alternating with the
black inscription are certain lines in red. The two, taken together,
give us a string of doggerel verses, which afford no bad sample of the
contents of the volume. We place, in due relation, the whole title
page, that the reader may compass it without effort ;

" Reader! walk up at once (it will soon be too late)
And buy at a perfectly ruinous rate,
A Fable for Critics ; or better--I like
As a thing that the reader's first fancy may strike,
An old fashioned title page, such as presents,
A tabular view of' the volume's contents
A glance at a few of our literary progenies,
(Mrs. Malaprop's word) from the tub of Diogenes:
A series of jokes by a Wonderful Quiz,
Who accompanies himself with a rub-a-dub-dub,
Full of spirit and grace. on the top of the tub.
Set forth in October, the twenty-first day,
In the year '48, by G. P. Putnam, Broadway."
The preface, printed as prose, is nevertheless written as the above,
in rhymes, which are neither better nor worse than the preceding ; and
the strains that follow are woven after a like fashion, showing a painful
industry in the manufacture of ingenious terminations, which, in some
future year of grace, may make us forgetful of Iludibras. The satire
is ascribed to James Russell Liawell, of Boston. We are inclined to
doubt the truth of this suspicion. The writings of Lowell have given
us no reason to suppose him guilty of such a production. His poems
are rather thoughtful and sentimental than satirical, and his verse
usually has borne no sort of resemblance to that which is before us.
This, however, is quite inconclusive as an objection. A writer of ta-
lent and facility, such as Lowell is, may readily assume new aspects
and put on new disguises. But it is doubtful whether he would expend
so much pains-taking and labor on such an object. Not that his satire
lacks either point or merit. It is sharp and sometimes spicy, playful
and fanciful, amidst much clumsiness and cumbrousness. But the
fable is feeble, the point not often apparent., and the malice much more
conspicuous than the wit. Its partialities and prejudices are of a kind
seriously to discredit the claims of a real poet, to whose catholicity an
justice, chiefly, we always look for the essentials of permanent authori-
ty. It is the misfortune of our fabler, that he adopts implicitly the