In his Nux Postcoenatica he gives us his reflections on being invited to a dinner-party, where he was expected to ‘set the table in a roar’ by reading funny verses. He submits it to the judgment and common sense of the importunate bearer of the invitation, that this dinner-going, balladmaking, mirth-provoking habit is not likely to benefit his reputation as a medical professor.
Besides, my prospects. Don't you know that people won't employ.There are, as might be expected, some commonplace pieces in the volume,—a few failures in the line of humor. The Spectre Pig, the Dorchester Giant, the Height of the Ridiculous, and one or two others might be omitted in the next edition without detriment. They would do well enough for an amateur humorist, but are scarcely worthy of one who stands at the head of the profession. It was said of James Smith, of the Rejected Addresses, that ‘if he had not been a witty man, he would have been a great man.’ Hood's humor and drollery kept in the background the pathos and beauty of his sober productions; and Dr. Holmes, we suspect, might have ranked higher among a large class of readers than he now does had he never written his Ballad of the Oysterman,
A man that wrongs his manliness by laughing like a boy,
And suspect the azure blossom that unfolds upon a shoot,
As if Wisdom's old potato could not flourish at its root
It's a very fine reflection, when you're etching out a smile
On a copperplate of faces that would stretch into a mile,
That, what with sneers from enemies and cheapening shrugs from friends,
It will cost you all the earnings that a month of labor lends.