Text: J. J. P., “Paul before Felix,” Waverley Magazine (Boston, MA), vol. VII, no. 11, September 10, 1853, p. 168, cols. 3-4


[page 168, column 3, continued:]

Paul before Felix.

“This man is of the forest born. — SHAKS.

WHEN we penned the article which appeared in a late number of the “Waverly [[Waverley]],” in answer to “FIAT JUSTITIA,” we had not the remotest idea of waking the sleeping giant that has since made his appearance, with a long string of toadyisms, in which

“He has used his own sinews himself to distress,

And had done vastly more had he done vastly less.”

We had, I say, no idea of arousing this fierce Briareus, and bringing down on ourselves such a fearful anathema from his lips. We tremble at the thought of our unprotected condition, coming, as we do, under the displeasure of this “terrible fellow to meet in society.” — He opens with a passing compliment to some one — I can’t say who it is, exactly — and tells us, in a bungling kind of style, that “H. S.C. began by blowing his ram’s horn, but the walls of Jericho don’t fall. This fortissimo blast (I suppose from too much overtasking of his lungs, rather unused to loud bellowing) ends in a most obsequious pednissimo. He says that “Fiat Justitia “ wound up by making the puny assertion the he (Poe) had obtained not fame, but the notoriety of a confirmed inebriate,” &c. Now, my dear fellow, allow me to correct you. The assertion you have just made is altogether lame; be a little more careful in future, for your own sake. H. S. C. said no such thing; it was ourselves who said so; we think our blustering friend should know at least who he is talking about, if he is ignorant of what he is discussing. We think he evinces strong regard for the truth — or else not.

In regard to our saying “caravans of the ocean,” it was a mistake originating with our good friend Dow’s compositors, or else our own hurry in writing the article; caverns was the word intended. But this our friend well knew; why inform him of the fact? He thought it fine capital for raising a guffaw. But, as he is not over elegant himself, and “only stepped in to see that justice is done,” we will excuse him.

Our learned Theban next takes exceptions to our grammar, (or else to that of H. S. C.) although he does not cite the instance. Well, there is one consoling thought to sustain us. If we cannot write good English, we have a friend (for the present nameless) who [column 4:] can — a gentleman who writes “ There are some remarks in the article [which article?] written by H. S. C. which takes the shine off anything ever composed by an else, with the exception of J. J. P.”

Now, if “this is not equal in point of style, nay, superior to Addison, we will — to use our friend’s words — “shut up shop.”

Sir Oracle now, in a very kind tone, hints his dislike for “footprints on the sands of time,” and soothingly offers “Footprints made in the everlasting granite all the ages.” Which of the Ages does our hero prefer? The brazen one, of course, will best suit his taste. We think the article to which we refer worthy of th Brazen Age. Is it not truly sublime? There scarcely cannot be “more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of” (oh, Felix of the Forest!) “in your philosophy.”

Why did not Longfellow think of it, and make the substitution suggested by our “great Pacificator?” everlasting granite of all the ages. Felix, too, in the height of his phrenzy, appeals to the Bible to substantiate his remarks. But we think, with the poet, that

“He ought to let Scripture alone — ’tis self-slaughter

For nobody likes Inspiration-and-water.”

But enough! we must say that we have been pleased, nay, more, we have been amused; he reminds of the western M. C., who got up in Congress and said — “Mr. President, I am of the opinion that the generality of mankind in general are inclined to impose on the generality of mankind in general.” “Sit down, you fool, whispered Davy Crockett, who sat next to him, “you are crawling in at the same hole you came out.”

The author of “The True Odin” has performed the same manœuvre. He, on coming out, tells us that he merely wishes to show us that “misrepresentation is not argument,” and cites but one instance, in which he considers Fiat Justitia misrepresented (and in that instance we were right,) tells us of our bad grammar, quotes Scripture, talks about barr sand, and “shutting up shop,” and then crawls back into his cave. All we can say to his intervention, is, that he has done bravely — and will at some future period (we hope not far distant) make a noise in the world.

The effect, we think, of the present effort, will wear off; and when his nerves have relaxed to their former state, he will find himself famous.

“Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us,

To see ourselves as others see us.”

J. J. P.







[S:0 - WM, 1853] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - A Poe Bookshelf - Paul before Felix (J. J. P., 1853)