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How To Write By Proxy
by [?]


qui facit per alium facit per se.

‘Mong our neighbors, the French, in the good olden time
When Nobility flourisht, great Barons and Dukes
Often set up for authors in prose and in rhyme,
But ne’er took the trouble to write their own books.

Poor devils were found to do this for their betters;–
And one day a Bishop, addressing a Blue,
Said, “Ma’am, have you read my new Pastoral Letters?”
To which the Blue answered–“No, Bishop, have you?”

The same is now done by our privileged class;
And to show you how simple the process it needs,
If a great Major-General[1] wishes to pass
For an author of History, thus he proceeds:–

First, scribbling his own stock of notions as well
As he can, with a goose-quill that claims him as kin,
He settles his neckcloth–takes snuff–rings the bell,
And yawningly orders a Subaltern in.

The Subaltern comes–sees his General seated,
In all the self-glory of authorship swelling;–
“There look,” saith his Lordship, “my work is completed,–
“It wants nothing now but the grammar and spelling.”

Well used to a breach, the brave Subaltern dreads
Awkward breaches of syntax a hundred times more;
And tho’ often condemned to see breaking of heads,
He had ne’er seen such breaking of Priscian’s before.

However, the job’s sure to pay–that’s enough–
So, to it he sets with his tinkering hammer,
Convinced that there never was job half so tough
As the mending a great Major-General’s grammar.

But lo! a fresh puzzlement starts up to view–
New toil for the Sub.–for the Lord new expense:
‘Tis discovered that mending his grammar won’t do,
As the Subaltern also must find him in sense!

At last–even this is achieved by his aid;
Friend Subaltern pockets the cash and–the story;
Drums beat–the new Grand March of Intellect’s played–
And off struts my Lord, the Historian, in glory!

NOTE:
[1] Or Lieutenant-General, as it may happen to be.