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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.





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[Boston Miscellany, Feb. 1842.]

It is remarkable that many of the best books of all sorts have been written by persons, who at the time of writing them, had no intention of becoming authors. Indeed, with a slight inclination to systematize and exaggerate, one might be almost tempted to maintain the position, however paradoxical it may at first blush appear, that no good book can be written in any other way; that the only literature of any value is that which grows indirectly out of the real action of society, intended directly to effect some other purpose; and that when a man sits down doggedly in his study, and says to himself, 'I mean to write a good book,' it is certain, from the necessity of the case, that the result will be a bad one.

To illustrate this by a few examples: Shakspeare, the Greek Dramatists, Lope and Calderon, Corneille, Racine, and Molière,—in short, all the dramatic poets of much celebrity, prepared their works for actual representation, at times when the drama was the favorite amusement. Their plays, when collected, make excellent books. At a later period, when the drama had in a great measure gone out of fashion, Lord Byron, a man not inferior, perhaps, in

poetical genius to any of the persons just mentioned, undertakes, without any view to the stage, to write a book of the same kind. What is the result? Something which, as Ninon de l'Enclos said of the young Marquis de Sévigné, has very much the character of fricasseed snow. Homer, again, or the Homerites, a troop of wandering minstrels, composed, probably without putting them to paper, certain songs and ballads, which they sung at the tables of the warriors and princes of their time. Some centuries afterwards, Pisistratus made them up into a book, which became the bible of Greece. Voltaire, whose genius was perhaps equal to that of any of the Homerites, attempted in cold blood, to make just such a book; and here, again, the product, called the Henriade, is no book, but another lump of fricasseed snow. What are all your pretended histories? Fables, jest books, satires, apologies, any thing but what they profess to be. Bring together the correspondence of a distinguished public character, a Washington, a Wellington, and then, for the first time, you have a real history. Even in so small a matter as a common letter to a friend, if you write one for the sake of writing it, in order to produce a good letter as such, you will probably fail. Who ever read one of Pliny's precious specimens of affectation and formality, without wishing that he had perished in the same eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed his uncle? On the contrary, let one who has any thing to say to another at a distance, in the way of either business or friendship, commit his thoughts to paper merely for the purpose of communicating them, and he will not only effect his immediate object, but, however humble may be his literary pretensions, will commonly write something that may be read with pleasure by an indifferent third person. In short, experience seems to show that every book, prepared with a view to mere book-making, is

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