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TO PROFESSOR WILSON.
It might have very well comported with the line of argument adopted by a certain Pleader in a case of great notoriety to make light of the virtue of a NAME: "What's in a Name?" The ardent advocate to whom I allude, might have been justified in protesting against the undue influence of patronymics, considering they were synonymous with prejudices which the most impassioned pleading could not overrule, and that their authority, had it been decisive, would have insisted on a nonsuit. His interrogative, however, is remarkably happy in the elasticity of its signification: I intend it to be read with another punctuation—WHAT'S in a NAME! and thus employ it to convey an emphatic converse meaning to that which it expresses in re Romeo Montague.
The pages to which I venture to prefix a Name with Poesy "linked like leaves to flowers," afford an habitation for sundry cogitative vagrancies over that delectable territory, rich in all floral luxuriance, which considerate Muses have fertilised for the healthful holiday of young hearts, and for the reinvigoration of the world-wearied-to whom the "constant revolution of the same repeated cares" might else
"make languid life
A pedlar's pack, bowing the bearer down."
It would, however, have required a reckless confidence in the benignity of PROFESSOR WILSON, to proffer these stray conceits as an acceptable thank-offering for many hours charmed pursuit of his efflorescent pen;-crude as they are in conception, and cramped in conformation, this presentation of them to a Poetic Mind would, if it were written, be indited with a trembling pinion. But certain peculiarities in the construction of the "habitation," encourage me to hope for a lenient scrutiny of its contents.
Of the little volume* before you, one individual has been composer, and compositor and imprinter
* The last Chapter did not appear in the original edition.
throughout this circumstance is only noticeable, inasmuch as it may be a mental and mechanical combination unprecedented, but unimposing. Printers have been authors of renown; and Methuselah, with a knowledge of the art, adequate matériel, the patience of Job, and sufficient perseverance, might, singly, have completed a work, voluminous as the bulkiest Cyclopædia of the present day.
But the pen has been a stranger to the prose part of its composition, and the scribe's office subverted: -with the exception of acknowledged quotations, I have been unaided by a line of manuscript or other copy. There is a rhythmical extravaganza in the sixth chapter, which I very reluctantly signalize in this place, because the skeleton of twenty lines of it, or thereabouts, was pen-traced; the composing-stick has been otherwise my sole mechanical "help to composition." Memory has supplied me with sentiments syllabled aforetime, to the occupation of three or four pages; so unpremeditated else were its contents, that when, as an employment for leisure, I commenced the chapter called Introductory, it heralded I knew not what. Evidences of a want of design and forethought will, I fear, too frequently recur to substantiate this
fact, and to prevent an innocent illusion I should wish to create, that my "actors" are not "spirits," but independent personages, holding separate opinions, and endowed with the gift of tongues.
In proportion as this explanation may be injurious to subsequent vraisemblance, it may propitiate the The entire absence of a preconcerted plan from the beginning, may " show cause" why no professional uniqueness distinguishes a literary bantling, to which, possibly, the annals of printing may not parallel a fellow." But having accustomed myself, at distant intervals, to simultaneous composition, I had closed the first colloquy before it occurred to me that perseverance might accomplish a novelty. It was essential to uniformity that I should proceed in the plain style of execution in which I had commenced.
I shall be fortunate, Sir, should its "plainness move you more than eloquence." The practical disadvantages inseparable to the mode pursued in its composition, will (I repeat my hope,) modify the strictures of the considerate.
C. L. LORDAN.
Romsey, March, 1843.