Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,359 pages of information about Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, Complete.

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    “The Loves of Giles Scroggins and Molly Brown:”  an Epic Poem. 
    London:  CATNACH.

The great essentials necessary for the true conformation of the sublimest effort of poetic genius, the construction of an “Epic Poem,” are numerically three; viz., a beginning, a middle, and an end.  The incipient characters necessary to the beginning, ripening in the middle, and, like the drinkers of small beer and October leaves, falling in the end.

The poem being thus divided into its several stages, the judgment of the writer should emulate that of the experienced Jehu, who so proportions his work, that all and several of his required teams do their own share and no more—­fifteen miles (or lengths) to a first canto, and five to a second, is as far from right as such a distribution of mile-stones would be to the overworked prads.  The great fault of modern poetasters arises from their extreme love of spinning out an infinite deal of nothing.  Now, as “brevity is the soul of wit,” their productions can be looked upon as little else than phantasmagorial skeletons, ridiculous from their extreme extenuation, and in appearance more peculiarly empty, from the circumstance of their owing their existence to false lights.  This fault does not exist with all the master spirits, and, though “many a flower is born to blush unseen,” we now proceed to rescue from obscurity the brightest gem of unfamed literature.

Wisdom is said to be found in the mouths of babes and sucklings.  So is the epic poem of Giles Scroggins.  Is wisdom Scroggins, or is Scroggins wisdom?  We can prove either position, but we are cramped for space, and therefore leave the question open.  Now for our author and his first line—­

  “Giles Scroggins courted Molly Brown.”

Beautiful condensation!  Is or is not this rushing at once in medias res?  It is; there’s no paltry subterfuge about it—­no unnecessary wearing out of “the waning moon they met by”—­“the stars that gazed upon their joy”—­“the whispering gales that breathed in zephyr’s softest sighs”—­their “lover’s perjuries to the distracted trees they wouldn’t allow to go to sleep.”  In short, “there’s no nonsense”—­there’s a broad assertion of a thrilling fact—­

  “Giles Scroggins courted Molly Brown.”

So might a thousand folks; therefore (the reader may say) how does this establish the individuality of Giles Scroggins, or give an insight to the character of the chosen hero of the poem?  Mark the next line, and your doubts must vanish.  He courted her; but why?  Ay, why? for the best of all possible reasons—­condensed in the smallest of all possible space, and yet establishing his perfect taste, unequalled judgment, and peculiarly-heroic self-esteem—­he courted her because she was

  “The fairest maid in all the town.”

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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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