Page:Fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen (Walker).djvu/212

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174
ANDERSEN'S FAIRY TALES

not read it yet, but it is nicely got up; what do you say about the contents?' 'Oh,' said one, who was himself a poet, 'it is pretty good, a little drawn out, perhaps, but he is a young man still. The verses might be better, but the thoughts are sound if a little commonplace. What are you to say? you can't always think of something new. You will be quite safe in praising him, though I don't suppose he will ever be a great poet. He is well read, a first-rate Oriental scholar, and he has judgment. It was he who wrote that nice article on my "Reflections on Domestic Life." One must be kind to a young man.'

"'But he must be a regular ass!' said another man in the room; 'nothing is worse in poetry than mediocrity, and he will never rise above it.'

"'Poor fellow!' said a third, 'and his aunt is so delighted with him; it is she, Mr. Editor, who found so many subscribers to your last translation.'

"'Oh, the good woman. Well, I have reviewed the book quite briefly. Unmistakable talent—a welcome offering — a flower in the garden of poetry—well got up—and so on. But the other book! I suppose the author wants me to buy it. I hear it is being praised. He has genius, don't you think so?'

"'Oh, they all harp upon that,' said the poet; 'but he talks rather wildly! And the punctuation is most peculiar.'

"'It would do him good to pull him to pieces a bit and enrage him, or he will think too highly of himself!'

"'But that would be rather unreasonable,' cried another; 'don't let us carp at his small faults, rather let us rejoice over his good points: and he has many. He beats all the others.'

"'Heaven preserve us! If he is such a genius he will be able to stand some rough handling. There are plenty of people to praise him in private. Don't let us make him mad!'

"'Unmistakable talent,' wrote the editor, 'with the usual