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[241] Americans in other cities have been inspired to risk the dangers of familiar verse and to rhyme the sayings and doings of their fellow citizens. Sometimes they give to their airy nothings a local habitation and a name as easily recognizable as the background of Dorothy Q. Could Nothing to wear, detailing the sad plight of Miss Flora McFlimsy of Madison Square, and the Visit from Saint Nicholas on

the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

—could either of these have been composed elsewhere than in New York? And could The truth about Horace have been told with such stern veracity anywhere else than in Chicago?

In the first century of the American republic there were only a few large cities, and yet urban amenity was to be discovered here and there in towns where the social organization had advanced beyond its elementary stages. Benjamin Franklin, a pioneer in so many different departments of human endeavour, seems to have been the earliest American to adventure himself among the difficulties of this lighter poetry, so closely akin to prose in its directness and in its seeming lack of effort; and perhaps his lines on Paper could open an American selection of familiar verse only by favouritism. Philip Freneau1 essayed it more than once; so did Royall Tyler,2 our first writer of comedy; so did John Quincy Adams3 and James Kirke Paulding4 and Washington Irving,5—prose men all of them, dropping into rhyme only occasionally, and only when the spirit moved them. And it is a significant fact, supported by a host of examples in both branches of English literature, British and American, that it is in familiar verse that the expert essayist is most likely to be successful when he risks himself in the realm of rhyme.

Yet it is possible also to select specimens of this special type from the major poets, the sport of their frolicsome moods, and no adequate anthology would fail to include Bryant's Robert of Lincoln, Emerson's Humble-Bee, Whittier's In School days and Longfellow's Catawba wine. From Lowell the

1 See Book I, Chap. IX.

2 Ibid.

3 See Book II, Chap. XV.

4 See Book II, Chap. V.

5 See Book II, Chap. IV.

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