It was said long ago, that poets, like canaries, must be starved in order to keep them in good voice, and, in the palmy days of Grub Street, an editor’s table was nothing grander than his own knee, on which, in his airy garret, he unrolled his paper-parcel of dinner, happy if its wrapping were a sheet from Brown’s last poem, and not his own. Now an editorial table seems to mean a board of green cloth at which literary broken-victuals are served out with no carving but that of the editorial scissors.
La Maga has her table, too, and at fitting times invites to it her various Eminent Hands. It is a round table, — that is, rounded by the principle of rotation, — for how could she settle points of precedence with the august heads of her various Departments without danger of the dinner’s growing cold Substantial dinners are eaten thereat with Homeric appetite, nor, though impletus venter non vult studere libenter, are the visits of the Muse unknown. At these feasts no tyranny of speech-making is allowed, but the bonbons are all wrapped in original copies of verses by various contributors, which, having served their festive turn, become the property of the guests. Reporters are not admitted, for the eating is not done for inspection, like that of the hapless inmates of a menagerie; but La Maga herself sometimes brings away in her pocket a stanza or so which she esteems worthy of a more general communication. Last month she thus sequestered the following Farewell addressed by Holmes to the historian of William the Silent.