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To An Unknown Reader
by [?]

But perhaps, reader, we are brothers in these regards. Perhaps you, too, have faded papers. Or possibly, even on a recent date, you sighed your soul into an essay or a sonnet, and you now have manuscript which you would like to sell. Do not mistake me! I am not an editor, nor am I an agent for these wares. Rather I speak as a friend who, having many such hidden sorrows, offers you a word of comfort. To a desponding Hamlet I exclaim, “‘Tis common, my Lord.” I have so many friends that have had an unproductive fling toward letters, that I think the malady is general. So many books are published and flourish a little while in their bright wrappers, but yours and theirs and mine waste away in a single precious copy.

I am convinced that a close inspection of all desks–a federal matter as though Capital were under fire–would betray thousands of abandoned novels. There may be a few stern desks that are so cluttered with price-sheets and stock-lists that they cannot offer harborage to a love tale. Standing desks in particular, such as bookkeepers affect, are not always chinked with these softer plots. And rarely there is a desk so smothered in learning–reeking so of scholarship–as not to admit a lighter nook for the tucking of a sea yarn. Even so, it was whispered to me lately that Professor B—-, whose word shakes the continent, holds in a lower drawer no fewer than three unpublished historical novels, each set up with a full quota of smugglers and red bandits. One of these stories deals scandalously with the abduction of an heiress, but this must be held in confidence. The professor is a stoic before his class, but there’s blood in the fellow.

There is, therefore, little use in your own denial. You will recall that once, when taken to a ruined castle, you brooded on the dungeons until a plot popped into your head. You crammed it with quaint phrasing from the chroniclers. You stuffed it with soldiers’ oaths. “What ho! landlord,” you wrote gayly at midnight, “a foaming cup, good sir. God pity the poor sailors that take the sea this night!” And on you pelted with your plot to such conflicts and hair-breadth escapes as lay in your contrivance.

These things you have committed. Good sir, we are of a common piece. Let us salute as brothers! And therefore, as to a comrade, I bid you continue in your ways. And that you may not lack matter for your pen, I warmly urge you, when by shrewdest computation you have exhausted the plots of adventure and have worn your villains thin, that you proceed in quieter vein. I urge you to an April mood, for the winds of Spring are up and daffodils nod across the garden. There is black earth in the Spring and green hilltops, and there is also the breath of flowers along the fences and the sound of water for your pen to prattle of.