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“But Reynard, having heard his voice, said, `Well, to be sure! and I
should have been frightened, too, if I had not heard you bray!”'

The Ass in the Lion's Skin.


— “Masters, you ought to consider with yourselves; to bring in
— God shield us! — a lion among ladies, is a most dreadful thing; for there
is not a more fearful wild-fowl than your lion living; and we ought to look to


— “Therefore, another prologue must tell he is not a lion.”


— “Nay, you must name his name, and half his face must be
seen through the lion's neck; and he himself must speak through, saying
thus, or to the same defect,— `Ladies,' — or `Fair ladies, — I would wish you'
— or `I would request you,' — or `I would entreat you — not to fear, not to
tremble; my life for yours. If you think I am come hither as a lion, it were
pity of my life: no, I am no such thing; I am a man as other men are;'
and then, indeed, let him name his name, and tell them plainly he is Snug, the

Midsummer Night's Dream.

Society (bless her heart!) loves a lion.

Any prudent gentleman, however, who decides upon
earning his “sixpence a day in Pyramus,” by performing
the lion rôle, will surely heed the admonitions of
sweet bully Bottom. He must be none of your horrid
man-eaters out of the wild desert; but a decent, well-curried
and well-behaved lion, who will roar an' 'twere
any nightingale, at the command of his keeper, and
who can be uncaged without fear of personal detriment.
Nay, however much she may laugh with Theseus,
Society would yet, rather than not, see half a


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human face through the neck, or hear the familiar ass-voice.
These conditions being answered, with what a
pretty boldness does Mrs. Society trip near to the
pseudo-royal animal, the quasi-kingly beast, the Snugalias-lion,
the lion's-hide-over-joiner's-heart, and stroke
the mane of the gentle-terrible one with her plump,
white, be-diamonded fingers!

But, alas! this penchant of Madame Society for
quasi-royal wild beasts is become known to the real
lions, and is sometimes taken advantage of for horrible
ends. It occasionally happens that a genuine fierce
man- (or woman-) eater does simulate the simulation
of honest Snug, the joiner, so that when Society, in her
charming bravery, has drawn near to stroke his mane
(ostensibly; but white fingers look well through a maze
of hair), horrors! upon a sudden, in a twinkling, some
member of Society (a finger, perhaps, or even so important
a member as the head of Society) is snapped
off, and gobbled up!

John Cranston was a veritable woman-eater, with
neither asinine nor clownish qualities beneath his leonine

It has for a long time been the peculiar privilege of
this glorious country to produce John Cranstons; for
the exercise of which prerogative the country at large
is responsible to almost as great a degree as the immediate
progenitors, or producers, of such articles. For
when John C., senior, went about to beget John C.,
junior, that worthy and prudent man probably embarked
in the only enterprise of his life in which he
could not see his way clear from beginning to end.
Under these circumstances, it being impossible that


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John C., senior, could have foreseen the precise result
of his action in the premises, he is surely not to be
blamed for departing in this one instance from the
hitherto unbroken rule by which he guided his conduct;
for, as the Prince Rasselas very sensibly remarked,
“The world must be peopled by marriage, or
peopled without it.” Nor can I at all agree with the
somewhat sarcastic sentiments contained in the reply
of the Princess Nekayah, —

“How the world is to be peopled” (said that pert
young lady), “is not my care and need not be yours. I
see no danger that the present generation will omit to
leave successors behind them!”

A cold-blooded shirking of manifest responsibility,
thou Abyssinian maid! In which suppose thine own
royal father and mother had concurred, where then
had commenced thy search after happiness, thou tawny
and o'er-froward minx!

But — John C., senior, having presented his boy to
the country, that amiable foster-mother ought to have
done much for him, because John C., senior, had done
much for the country, with his charities, his dry-goods,
and his prosperity on Broadway. Now it was an ill
turn of the country to John Cranston, junior, that, at
the age of twenty-one, he entered life as if he had been
invited chief-guest to a complimentary dinner; and,
forgetful even of customary forms of politeness, reached
out both his hands for the crême de la crême and the
patês and all the other world-dainties on the table, unheeding
that shorter-armed neighbors were starving
about him; and that the “Low vulgarities, the children
of Rahag, Tahag, and Bohobtayil” were living, or rather
dying, upon the smell of the roast beef.


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When Cranston thought of virtue and such things,
he formed to himself a vague idea that the earth was a
mysterious wild-cat bank, doing a very inflated business
by brazenly issuing, every day, multitudes of irredeemable
bills in the shape of hypocritical men; and in his
heart Cranston was certain that the teller of this bank
had long ago robbed its vaults of all the virtue, or bullion,
and absconded to very unknown parts. A brave,
nervous-souled boy, strong of limb, strong of passion,
unboundedly energetic, unconquerably persevering, with
an acute intellect to guide these qualities; but thoroughly
selfish, and without even the consciousness that this
last was his bad trait — John Cranston was capable of
building up many things; but his life was nothing more
than a continuous pulling down of all things.

A terrible mêlée of winged opposites is forever filling
the world with a battle din which only observant souls
hear: Love contending with Impurity; Passion springing
mines under the calm entrenchment of Reason;
scowling Ignorance thrusting in the dark at holy-eyed
Reverence; Romance deathfully encountering the attack
of Sentimentality on the one side and Commonplace on
the other; young Sensibility clanging swords with gigantic
maudlin Conventionality, whose reliance is upon
main strength and awkwardness, — and a thousand more.
I have seen no man who did not suffer from the shock
of these wars unless he got help from that One Man
whom it is not unmanly to acknowledge our superior.

Cranston was too proud, that is to say, too selfish, to
get any help: he became impure, not loving; he was
unreasonable, passion firing him; he did no reverence,
being ignorant of its objects; he despised romance,


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foolishly confounding it with sentimentality; he killed
and utterly destroyed conventionality, instead of merely
disarming and subduing it.

Allusion has been made to an occasion in the life of
the elder Cranston when he did not precisely foresee
the result of certain actions. Twenty-two or three
years afterwards, he involved himself in a similar uncertainty.
Which is to say, he hung a golden chain
about the neck of his young lion-cub, and turned him
loose upon Germany.

At Frankfort-on-the-Maine, people said young John
was like Goethe. He had Lucifer-eyes; he spoke
French and German and English; he walked like a
young god; he played them mad with his violin; he
accepted invitations with little return-poems that
breathed sweetly a satanic despair; he was six feet one;
— what more should one want to make one a lion at