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The literary pendulum

“After all,” said the great advocate Rufus Choate, ‘a book is the only immortality.’ That was the lawyer's point of view; but the author knows that, even after the book is published, the immortality is often still to seek. In the depressed moods of the advocate or the statesman, he is apt to imagine himself as writing a book; and when this is done, it is easy enough to carry the imagination a step farther and to make the work a magnificent success; just as, if you choose to fancy yourself a foreigner, it is as easy to be a duke as a tinker. But the professional author is more often like Christopher Sly, whose dukedom is in dreams; and he is fortunate if he does not say of his own career with Christopher: ‘A very excellent piece of work, good madam lady. Would 'twere done!’

In our college days we are told that men change, while books remain unchanged. But in

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Rufus Choate (1)
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