Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Poetry

For the New-York Weekly Magazine.

A Receipt for Writing Novels

TAKE a heroine, free from the tincture of vice,
Renown'd for fine feeling, in sentiment nice;
No matter what country her birth may be found in,
Make a peevish old crab, that at nothing would faulter,
And who fully deserves for to swing from a halter;
Let him mark all the letters that she will deposit,
And find her, and the hero, lock'd up in a closet;
Then quote Hamlet's Ghost, but don't tire yourself much,
Only make old Curmudgeon as stiff as a crutch;
Then such kneeling, and praying, together you jumble,
And you bring off your lovers so meek and so humble.
If you can attempt it - why bring in a poem,
And if you have talents, the rhyming will show 'em;
Thus, subscribers will crowd in the hard-chearing roll,
And each critic shall think it quite fine on his soul.
A Confidant too, you must introduce,
Her name must be sprightly, her character spruce;
And if you should want for to lengthen the action,
Let the maid court with John, for your own satisfaction;
Let the reader be drown'd in a reverie deep,
But I hope o'er your book he won't quite fall asleep:
Then rouse him at once with soniferous thunder,
But when on the high horse, have a care, don't fall under.
Let a messenger enter as pale as a ghost!
With a letter of woe, that would soften a post -
The heroine reads, all her colour is fled,
John, the drops! or Belinda is certainly dead!
For her lover, quite wearied, and sick of his life,
Had determin'd to end all this trouble and strife;
You may say that he took a pestiferous vorax,
Or planted a bullet just under his thorax!
But don't, for your life, let the tame to go loose,
That your hero would tie up his neck in a noose;
That death is too common, beside, 'tis quite wrong,
For pois'ning, or shooting, is now quite the ton:
Tho' ev'ry man dies when he loses his breath,
Yet there ought to be some small decorum in death;
'Tis so rude for to step in a trice to your grave.
And not have the politeness to come take your leave;
For some are so brutish, such cormorants quite,
They don't think it worth while for to bid us good night.

New-York Weekly Magazine, Vol 2, No. 94, p.336, 19 Apr 1797


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