Text: Thomas H. Chivers (as “Fiat Justitia”), “Honey from Hybia,” Waverley Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. VII, no. 8, August 20, 1853, pp. 120-121


[page 120, column 4:]

Honey from Hybia.

“Amiens Socrates, Amicus Plato, sed magis Arnica Veritas.”

When you say, in your editorial, that “we hope no unkind expressions will be indulged in during the discussion of this interesting subject, as any exhibition of disrespect by either party would only weaken his own position,” you tacitly acknowledge, what is the absolute truth, namely, that you are convinced, beyond the possibility of a doubt, that H. S. C. has not only “weakened” but totally ruined his “position” in this very way.

He very pertinently affirms — manifesting, at the same time, a truly marvellous intuition into his own wonderful psychology — “We may be thickheaded, but really, we cannot perceive by what kind of reasoning the writer comes to such a quick conclusion.”

Who doubts it? Who ever doubted it? Who ever will doubt it? Nobody — as nobody ought to be belle acquainted with the thickness of his skull than he is himself. The truth is, this is the very reason why he cannot “perceive” it. But is it not really wonderful the this man has sagacity enough to know that he is treading on hallowed ground — in short, entering, with unhallowed feet, into the uninviting door of a forbidden threshold?

He says, “ But an examination of the simple item of punctuation we think sufficient to show the lameness of his arguments here, without going a step further.” But why? Why does he think so? Does he not know it? I he does not, why talk about thinking it?’ Thinking will not do — particularly when this thinking has to come through such a “thick” skull.

He says, again, “We have, in an old scrap-book of ours, a little poem taken from the Cheshire (Eng.)” Herald, a verse of which is as follows —

“Now the holy pansies bloom

Round about thy lonely tomb;

All thy little woes are o’er;

We shall meet thee here no more,

Nevermore, &c.’[[”]]

“Now we do not claim any great merit for these verses; still they have whatever of merit may be found in the refrain nevermore. If the existence of these verses is doubted, we will wager to produce them.”

But why say this? Why quote them, if they have no “great merit?” Is not this akin to his saying, in anticipation, “We may be thickheaded, &c?” Not only is this so, but the quotation of these very verses proves that he is “thickheaded “ — for, as it is the nature of the murderer, by his incoherent replies, to betray his guilt-ness, this unnecessary challenge begets in us the belief that he can show no such verses at all. A little further on he says, “ But we are glad if there is one thing he knows. Would to God that we could say the same thing of him, only in more intelligible language — but we cannot, for the life of us we cannot — for he is totally deficient in one of the most essential of all pre-requisites, a knowledge of his own mother tongue.

Has not Poe come to a pretty pass, that he must be “essentially damned “ by one of the most arrant hyenas that ever shed crockodile tears over the grave of the dead’

But his want of sense is not half so deplorable as his want of logic — although one is the sequence of the antecedence of the other — both being the father and mother of his want of politeness.

A truth is affirmed by us, substantiated by undeniable proof given — the falsity of which is affirmed by him in such, language as this: — “We happen to know, with equal certainty, that it was not.” Was any such evidence as this ever adduced ‘before? Did anybody ever hear of the like? Will anybody ever hear of the like again? Well may he admit in that very pertinent potentiality — “We may be thick-headed,” &c.

Again, he says, Knowledge is power, and this is probably the reason why his logic is so omnipotent.”

Certainly, this is the very reason why it is so omnipotent. Would to God that we could say the same thing of his; but this same most palpable potentiality obtrudes itself forward too pertinaciously into our faces.

Again he says, “Does not the writer imagine that, being left alone at an early age, being an orphan, was no experience? “

What is anybody to make of this? What has his “being left an orphan” to do with the originality of the Raven? Orphanage is not the theme of the Raven. His “being left an orphan” placed him in the hands of a gentleman whose affluence made him perfectly independent — that which he never would have been had his father and mother lived. Yet, this is the man who makes use of the word “logic.”

In answer to our remark that Dr. Chivers was the first man in the world who made use of the Trochaic rythm to express an Elegaic Theme, he says, “He forgets Shelley’s “Dirge of the Year” and “Lament,” not to mention that fine old hymn that everybody knows,

“Sister thou wast mild and lovely.”

Here, he brings forward one solitary line of a hymn, to prove that the author above-mentioned was not the first who ever made use of the Trochaic rythm to express an Elegaic theme, thereby, in the simplicity of his most innocent heart, not only affirming that a hymn is an elegy, but, at the same time, proving, in direct opposition to his own cause, that Poe stole the rythm of his Raven from Shelley. Yet this is the man who arrogates to himself the ability to plead the cause of Poe. This, mirabile dicta! is the man who has the impudence to talk about “logic!” When he says that, “When he compares his heart to a crushed egg, his stock of similes must be nearly eggs-austed,” he thinks that he has echoed the sound of a pleasing witticism: but he has only given utterance to the spirit of his azainine nature. But, unfortunately for him, Poe did not think so, else he would not have so closely imitated it in his Raven.

He quotes the Latin adage, “De mortuis nil nisi bonum,” as though he understood a particle of who cannot write English, cannot understand He not only does not understand the meaning if it literally, but he fails to realize the purport of it in what ought to be his active wisdom among men; for no man [page 121:] ever made out so bad a case for his Client — a client, too, who, were he now living here, would disdain to make him his literary boot-black. Yet this is the man who volunteers his services to defend Poe before the Tribunal of Rhodamanthus — a mere pettifogger whose illogical incoherences only bring down upon his thick skull the ponderous fists of all the jury of the offended gods.

But listen what he says a little farther on, and you will never doubt any longer about the “thickness” of his skull. “But we differ when he rakes open a grave, and drags to light all that is contemptible and vile.”

Is it not a wonder that Poe’s bones, like the blood of Abel, do not rise up in indignation out of his grave against the hypocritical squeamishness of this “Hyena.” A moment ago, we were of the opinion that this Ghoul bad come into court to plead his cause; but here we find him characterising him as being “all that is contemptible and vile.” Oh! tempore! Oh! mores! Who doubts now that this man is “thick-headed?”

When he says that, “We should confess but little sur-prize to hear that Mr. Chivers claimed as the author of the melody, ‘ Ding dong bell,’ and that from this Poe stole ‘The Bells,’” he is striking at thunder with a short pole. Not to say one single word of the Choc-tawish unintelligibility of the whole sentence, what are we to make of his calling “Ding dong bell” is, “melody?” What are we to make out of the grammatical nebulosity of “claimed as the author of the melody, ‘Ding dong bell,’ and that from this Poe stole “The Bells?” What are we to make out of this, I say? Who ever accused Poe of having done any such thing? Then why mention it?

But every word be writes betrays not only the badness of his cause, but the wilderness of intellectual death into which he has been driven in the utter destitution of his despair to procure a pilot, from whose impenetrable labyrinths he can never extricate himself.

A little lower down (for his tendency is, evidently, downwards,) he says, “But we will waste no more paper.” Poor man! it is not the paper you have wasted that looks so horrible — that excites in us such a perennial fountain of both pity and laughter — but the precious time that you have thrown away in attempting to do that for which you were never created. This is what makes us exclaim, in the boundless charity of our heart — Oh! “Hyena.”

But his conclusion is pretty. He says, “In which I have been so bold as to enter the lists.” Well, you have been rather bold, we must confess — not to say imprudent. But if you will promise to be a good boy, (never to be so naughty again,) we will forgive you.








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