Page:In Flanders Fields and Other Poems.djvu/72

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In Flanders Fields

thing mysterious about the business of an editor. A legend has already grown up around the publication of "In Flanders Fields" in Punch. The truth is, "that the poem was offered in the usual way and accepted; that is all." The usual way of offering a piece to an editor is to put it in an envelope with a postage stamp outside to carry it there, and a stamp inside to carry it back. Nothing else helps.

An editor is merely a man who knows his right hand from his left, good from evil, having the honesty of a kitchen cook who will not spoil his confection by favour for a friend. Fear of a foe is not a temptation, since editors are too humble and harmless to have any. There are of course certain slight offices which an editor can render, especially to those whose writings he does not intend to print, but John McCrae required none of these. His work was finished to the last point. He would bring his piece in his hand and put it on the table. A wise editor knows when to keep his mouth shut; but now I am free to say that he never understood the nicety of the semi-colon, and his writing was too heavily stopped.

He was not of those who might say,—take it or leave it; but rather,—look how perfect it is; and it was so. Also he was the first to recognize that an editor has some rights and pre-