Gifts of Genius eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 195 pages of information about Gifts of Genius.

    We asked with friendly question,
      How her health was getting on: 
    To many an ancient pussy
      The same we since have done.

    In sensible discoursing
      We sat like aged men,
    And told how in our young days
      All things had better been.

    That Truth, Love and Religion
      From the earth are vanished quite—­
    And now so dear is coffee,
      And money is so tight!

    But gone are childish gambols,
      And all things fleeting prove—­
    Money, the world, our young days,
      Religion, Truth and Love.



The labourer is worthy of his hire.  A man who produces an available “article” for a newspaper or a periodical, is as properly entitled to a pecuniary recompense, as a doctor, or a lawyer, or a clergy-man, for professional services; or, as a merchant or a mechanic for his transferable property.  This is a simple proposition, which nobody disputes.  The rate of such compensation must be a matter of agreement.  As between author and publisher, custom seems to have fixed on what an arithmetician would call “square measure,” as the basis of the bargain; and the question of adjustment is simplified down to “how much by the column, or the page?”

This system has its advantages in a business point of view; because, when the price, or rate, is agreed on, nothing remains but to count the pages.  Whether the publisher or the writer is benefited by this plan of computation, in a literary point of view, may, however, be doubted.

A man who is paid by the page for his literary labour, has every inducement but one to expand lines into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into extravagant dimensions.  An idea, to him, is a thing to be manufactured into words, each of which has a money value; and if he can, by that simplest of all processes—­a verbal dilution—­give to one idea the expansive power of twelve; if he can manage to spread over six pages what would be much better said in half a page, he gains twelve prices for his commodity, instead of one; and he sacrifices nothing but the quality of his commodity—­and that is no sacrifice, so long as his publisher and his readers do not detect it.

When a man writes for reputation, he has a very different task before him; for no one will gain high and permanent rank as an author, unless his ideas bear some tolerable proportion to his words.  He who aims to write well, will avoid diffuseness. Multum in parvo will be his first consideration; and if he achieves that, he will have secured one of the prime requisites of literary fame.

In the earlier days of our republic, a discussion was held by several of the prominent statesmen of the period, on the expediency of extending the right of suffrage to others than freeholders.  Some of the debaters made long speeches; others made short ones.  At length, Mr. JAY was called on for his views of the matter.  His brief response was:  “Gentlemen, in my opinion, those who own the country ought to rule it." If that distinguished patriot had been writing for the bleeding Kansas Quarterly, at the rate of a dollar a page, he would probably have expanded this remark.  He might have written thus: 

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Gifts of Genius from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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