MiSTings and More

Alonzo and Melissa
a do-it-yourself MiSTing


Hugh [continues to read on his own].

The critical & curious reader will discover, perhaps, many errors in the above story.

Hugh [raised voice]: I heard that snicker!

Of some, the writer, on retrospection, is already sensible; in one instance he has erred by an anachronism which was not discovered until too late to correct the error.

Voice [from next room]: One instance? I counted thirty-seven!

But for mistakes and deficiencies, the writer has an excuse.

Voice [from next room]: Sure he does.

The incidents from which this tale was formed, were only to be found, in his memory.

Voice [from next room]: In his what?

It was written also from week to week, amidst the hurry of his avocations, and more generally put to press without revisal.

It will also be seen that some of the scenes are hurried over with too much rapidity for the contour of a perfect Novel; such are Alonzo’s passage and repassage across the Atlantic, and the attending circum­stances; his escape from the prison in London, interview with the sailor, Beauman, escape from England, arrival in France, conference with Franklin, Edgar, Grafton and contingent events; his journey from Savannah to Charleston, and from thence to Connecticut; his interview with Alfred, meeting with Melissa; their reception by their friends on arriving at their native place, as also the wedding scene, the story of the illicit traders, and some others of less import.

David [poking head in door]: Did he just say, with a straight face, that he didn’t only want to expand the important scenes but also to pad out the unimportant ones?

To this the writer answers, that it was his first intention that those scenes should be full and complete. It was intended to introduce a number of other characters, both European and American, into the body of the work, and annex to them conspicuous and interesting parts of the drama, some of which were to have been connected with the most important events of the American war; but it was soon foreseen that this would extend the story beyond the limits of a weekly paper, and at least beyond the patience of readers,

Hugh [pauses in expectation of sarcastic comment before reading on].

who, anxious for the catastrophe, would not willingly consent to so lengthy a detail, unfolding itself but once a week; the plan was therefore relinquished at an early period, not, however, until some characters were introduced, which now appear inert, and which, had the plan been carried into execution, would have conspi­cuously figured in the scenery.

All these errors will be corrected, and the deficiencies filled, should the work be published in a volume, or volumes, as is now projected. It will then be carefully revised, altered, amended, and considerably enlarged. This is particularly mentioned now, for the following reasons.

Although we are perfectly willing that cotemporary editors should extract the story into their papers, yet it is our request that they will not republish it in a pamphlet or a book;

Meredith [from next room]: Hah!

and should they do this before they are legally prevented, he cautions the public against purchasing them, as in due time they will be presented with a more perfect and complete edition, greatly enlarged. Besides, the Novel as extracted into the papers we have seen, is materially incorrect; some words left out, others misspelt, and in several instances one word is given for another, which renders the sentence unintel­ligible, or entirely alters the sense;

Hugh [pauses in reading to engage in prolonged fit of coughing].

so that an edition published from those copies would be exceedingly incorrect, and not agreeing with the original.—What we mean by legal prevention, is that we design, at an early day, to anticipate a copy-right,

Voice [from next room, in ostentatiously carrying tones]: You’d think a newspaper editor would know that it isn’t enough to plan to think about a copyright. You have to actually get one.

Lucy: Just don’t expect a copyright to protect you from Alida.

of not only Alonzo and Melissa, but the other two original tales which have heretofore appeared in the Barometer, to wit, Albert and Eliza, and Melville and Phalez, all of which will be revised, amended, and much enlarged.

The first of these novels, written under similar circumstances with the two last, was no sooner completed, than a neighbouring printer, with whom we then exchanged papers, whipp’d it into a pamphlet, and had it peddled through various parts of this state and the state of Connecticut. Another printer, more distant, published it and had it bound in a book. Melville and Phalez shared the same fate, though not from the same hands. This, though not an actionable offence, is yet worse than common plagiarism; it is, in reality, the indolent drone rioting on the labors of the industrious bee; it is also an imposition upon the public, as those works are soon to make their appearance in a renovated and more finished form.

Whether the story of Alonzo and Melissa . . .

Hugh [folds up newspaper and puts it away with a sigh of relief].

It was then agreed that
the man should . . .

All-in-one Version
Introduction and Contents