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Felon Literature








One of the most stinging reproofs of perverted literary taste, evidently
aimed at Newgate Calendar literature, appeared in the form of a
valentine, in No. 31 of Punch, in 1842.

The valentine itself reminds one of Churchill's muse; and it needs no
finger to tell where its withering satire is pointed:--

"THE LITERARY GENTLEMAN.

"Illustrious scribe! whose vivid genius strays 'Mid Drury's stews
to incubate her lays, And in St. Giles's slang conveys her tropes,
Wreathing the poet's lines with hangmen's ropes; You who conceive
'tis poetry to teach The sad bravado of a dying speech; Or, when
possessed with a sublimer mood, Show "Jack o'Dandies" dancing upon
blood! Crush bones--bruise flesh, recount each festering sore--
Rake up the plague-pit, write--and write in gore! Or, when
inspired to humanize mankind, Where doth your soaring soul its
subjects find? Not 'mid the scenes that simple Goldsmith sought,
And found a theme to elevate his thought; But you, great scribe,
more greedy of renown, From Hounslow's gibbet drag a hero down.
Imbue his mind with virtue; make him quote Some moral truth before
he cuts a throat. Then wash his hands, and soaring o'er your
craft--Refresh the hero with a bloody draught: And, fearing lest
the world should miss the act, With noble zeal italicize the
fact. Or would you picture woman meek and pure, By love and virtue
tutor'd to endure, With cunning skill you take a felon's trull,
Stuff her with sentiment, and scrunch her skull! Oh! would your
crashing, smashing, mashing pen were mine, That I could "scorch
your eyeballs" with my words,

"MY VALENTINE."

* * * * *





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