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[Recap] and Budget Breakdown for 9/17/16 DIY Camping BBQ Buffet
The Concept?: When we started wedding planning (4 months pre "proposal", 1.5 years pre wedding) we set a date, a budget, and priorities: we wanted to be frugal, we wanted our guests to enjoy themselves, and we didn't want anything there that we didn’t find meaningful. To save money we DIY'd the crap out of this.
Background: I am a planner who plans the process of making plans so she can plan more efficiently. I had lists of my lists for this wedding. If the devil is in the details, then I'm the devil. I'm also quite frugal. Planning a wedding was stressful because I felt I had to do it all myself to save money and unless someone offered I was very hesitant to ask for help until it came down to the wire and I was running out of time or couldn't be in two places at once.
Venues: Ceremony: Blue Mound State Park (WI) amphitheater
Reception/campground: Brigham County Park (WI)
Date: September 17, 2016
Guests: 90 (planned for ~100)
The numbers get fuzzy here because other people were buying things for us and towards the end I wasn’t tracking anymore. Consider everything a close estimation.
Breakdown: $5800 spent of $7000 budgeted. This total is a little misleading. We set our personal budget at $5000 and decided any gifts of money or goods would be in addition to that. In the end we spent about $4200, my father paid for dinner, and my mother and MIL both wanted to help with last minute decor supplies.
We bought everything outright, no credit. To save we took our budget divided by the number of months between “official” engagement and set up an automatic transfer for that amount from checking into savings. Then we reimbursed the checking account from savings as purchases were made.
Outfits: $275 spent of $400 budgeted. I made my own dress, I have another post talking about that process. My mother paid for most of the fabric (~$60). I paid ~$140 for notions, a headpiece, a couple sweaters to wear over the dress, and a pair of shorts to wear underneath. My husband's outfit was ~$135 from Kohl's.
We did not include rings in our wedding budget, but we paid $150 for an awesome set off Etsy. We also didn't include my shoes (already owned) or my jewelry (borrowed from grandma).
Venues: $848 spent of $823 budgeted. Over because we decided to rent the amphitheater Friday night so we could do the rehearsal on location. This price includes the ceremony venue (outdoor amphitheater with stage and bench seating), parking for all our guests at the ceremony venue (state park, $5 per car with a bulk/event discount), the reception venue (park shelter, yes electricity, no running water, pit toilets only), alcohol permit for the reception, and camping at the reception venue (open to all guests, we had about 30 stay there Friday and Saturday night).
Food: $1540 spent of $2005 budgeted. We paid for rehearsal dinner (pizza and beer), Saturday breakfast (pancakes/coffee/tea) and lunch (sandwiches/chips/fruit) for campers and helpers, s'mores for the reception and camping, and Sunday breakfast (bagels/fruit) for campers. My father generously offered to pay for the reception dinner. We used Hyvee catering and had a great experience. BBQ buffet with ribs, pulled pork, and ~4 sides for $15.30 per person. Also, side note, OMG Hyvee deli mac and cheese is the best! Just saying...
Drinks: $515 spent of $500 budgeted. We bought a 1/2 barrel of New Glarus Spotted Cow for the Illinois relatives and a 1/4 barrel of O'so Night Rain (fka Night Train) for us. I bought 3 wine boxes of a nice rose online. Then we bulk purchased sodas/juices at Costco. We let it be known that anyone could bring whatever drinks they wanted and we ended up with several bottles of champagne and other wine as well as a few handles of hard liquor.
Dessert: $29.96 spent of $75 budgeted. I made cupcakes and a cutting cake, and the reason the amount spent is so low is because I had so many materials on hand (I purchase baking supplies in bulk). Starting about 2-3 months out I started baking cupcakes and freezing them. I made 4 flavors and ended up with a huge amount (around 150). I wrapped them unfrosted individually in plastic wrap, bagged them, and had a crew help me unwrap them the night before to thaw. My mother and I also made 4 frostings and froze those ahead of time. With help we set up a frost your own cupcake table. I made way too many cupcakes. My friends hid it from me by distributing them and taking them home so they didn't get wasted. I still have frosting in my freezer that I pull out whenever I make a cake.
Decor: $305 spent of $210 budgeted. This number is the most misleading because my mother and MIL insisted on buying quite a few last minute things (like plastic tablecloths, little serving dishes, light strings, etc.) which I don't have records of. They were things I needed, but had planned on buying myself. This is probably closer to $450 spent total.
Flowers: This was counted in the decor budget, about $70. I opted to crochet my bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, and centerpieces. A lot of the yarn I already had (if you knit/crochet, you know what I mean). When they found out what I was doing my mother and MIL both offered to make them as well. Between the 3 of us we crocheted up a storm and I still have a lot of leftover flowers. I put together the bouquets/boutonnieres, and corsages. One of my bridespeople and a friend helped assemble centerpieces. Most of the the flower parts of the centerpieces were taken home by guests and I love visiting my friends and seeing them in their homes.
Printed Goods: $200.99 spent of $350 budgeted. This included STDs (which we stuck in with Christmas cards, saving extra postage), invites (which were postcards), wedding website, and thank you's. We saved with thank you's because a very considerate guest gave us a whole stack of thank you cards as a wedding gift. Loved it! We had budgeted for programs but decided against them, which also explains why we're so under budget here.
Photography: $1366.23 spent of $1366.23 budgeted. We were right on budget because we didn't finalize how we were spending our money until after we booked them. Worth every penny. We went with a less frugal option (Dutcher Photography, if you're in the Madison area) for 4 hours and I'm so glad we did. They were amazing and the photos make me so happy to look at.
License: $120 spent of $120 budgeted.
Gifts: $77 spent of $150 budgeted. We each picked out something for those standing with us (it involved Merino wool socks for everyone, because imo that's a great gift no matter the occasion).
Misc.: $388.57 spent of ?? budgeted. We left a lot of money unassigned in the budget because we knew things would come up that we hadn't thought of. This went to welcome bags for the campers, bibs for the BBQ (just to be safe), lawn games, and hygiene supplies for campers and the pit toilets.
Things we didn't pay for: I could go on and on about how wonderful our friends and family are, but suffice to say they were a huge help even when we didn’t ask for it and this wedding was so wonderful thanks in large part to them.
Music: My FIL is a musician and he played the piano for our ceremony (Concerning Hobbits to enter, I've Just Seen a Face to recess). In addition, he owns a full set up of sound equipment, so we used his microphones and speakers for the ceremony and reception. My husband made the playlist for the reception (we did not have dancing aside from the first and parent dances) which was a great eclectic mix ranging from Basshunter to Backstreet Boys to Of Monsters and Men to Lenard Skynyrd to Jimmy Buffet to an excess (if that's possible) of The Decemberists (who provided our first dance song, Sons and Daughters).
Hair and make-up: Total DIY. I don't do make-up often, but I bought some nicer drug store brands and a set of brushes and I practiced. Friends helped. The day of we were mostly doing it in the park shelter, curling irons set on the picnic tables (with a brief interlude in my mom's camper to use the mirror). It was actually a lot of fun because some of the other ladies who were camping helped out and it reminded me a little bit of a slumber party.
Set-up/take-down: Whenever someone said, “Let me know if I can help you with anything,” when we were discussing wedding planning I always responded that we’d need the most help day of. If they said yes I made mental note of it. I lined the dominoes up carefully and they knocked them down perfectly. They went above and beyond, doing things we hadn’t even asked and jumped in whenever they saw a need. At times they wouldn’t even let me help, telling me to go enjoy my reception. My friends are amazing and I love them. We brought back booze from our honeymoon for those who had helped us the most.
Ceremony: We did not have an officiant. Wisconsin allows self-officiated weddings. (PM if you want details.) We came to the conclusion that this was the way to go: the two of us marrying each other. We wrote the whole ceremony ourselves and walked down the aisle together. On the way into the amphitheater we had a sign of the "Wedding Cast" that listed us as the officiants. Other than that we offered no explanation and no one asked. The ceremony was, in a word, perfect. I loved it all but my favorite part was instead of "You may now kiss," I said the closing line, "We're going to kiss now," as we tossed aside our little ceremony scripts for the kiss. I thought it was adorable, anyway.
What went wrong: Almost nothing. It was perfect, with one small hiccup. TLDR, immediately after I gave a speech at the rehearsal dinner thanking everyone for all the help they had offered and/or given my mother called me a bridezilla and said I was taking people's help for granted. I told her I was sorry she saw it that way and walked off into the darkness to cry. (Not quite as dramatic as it sounds, I was walking back to our campsite from hers without a flashlight.)
Long version: She came into town a week early to help me with last minute wedding preparations (at her request, she asked if she could). She was very helpful, coming over almost every day that week, helping me make signs, helping me make frosting, running errands with me. For the rehearsal dinner we served pizza, and I asked in advance to use the oven in her camper (right across the parking lot from the shelter we were at) to make the frozen GF and vegan pizzas since the place we were ordering from didn't have those options. She said yes. (A little background, I don’t think this was unreasonable for our family, especially when you consider my brother’s rehearsal dinner was a grill out at my dad’s house where my dad did all the cooking.) I tried to stay and make them myself but kept getting told by her and my MIL to go back to the dinner. When the last GF/vegan pizza was done and she, my step dad, and MIL joined the party again, I gave that speech.
When I told my husband he started marching over there to give her a piece of his mind, but I stopped him, saying not tonight. He hasn't forgiven her still.
The next morning she came over to our campsite while we were making and serving pancakes for all the campers and said, "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help today." And I replied with the single sassiest thing I have ever said to my mother in my 27 years of life, "Are you sure you won't feel like I'm taking you for granted?" She said she hadn't meant it that way, etc, sorry it made me upset, a non-apology.
But it hurt. And it hurt that she didn't really help me get ready that day or hang around me. I know it's because of my sassy retort and I could have smoothed it over by biting the bullet and apologizing myself and being the bigger person. But I was out of fucks to give. It still hurts a little.
I asked other people I trusted to be honest with me if they thought I was being a bridezilla or demanding, both that day and after the fact. Everyone said I was the farthest thing from, but because my mother said it... it's hard for me to let it go. I still wonder if I asked too much of people. I think some would say I was asking too much, they were my guests after all and a lot of the success of the weekend counted on help from other people. Mostly I try not to think about it.
What went right: Literally everything else. Of note...
Weather: Our wedding was entirely outdoors, the only "inside" we had access to was the buildings the pit toilets were in. I stressed a lot about renting a tent as a back-up, but we decided against it. I checked the weather reports multiple times a day. Once we decided we were going to have an outdoor wedding we picked one of the driest temperate months of the year in WI. It rained Friday afternoon as we were heading out to the campground, but it dried up and Saturday was 60's, mostly sunny, and gorgeous.
Food/booze: We had an abundant amount, and I'm told it was taken home and enjoyed by all. I was afraid we'd run out, so I may have over-estimated, but I'd rather have too much than not enough. We still have some wine and sodas/juices left over.
Little things: I could write an entire post just about the little things that happened that made me smile. So here's a short list:
- Just before starting our vows (which we had kept secret from each other) I told the crowd I would probably cry. I did. During mine and his. No matter how many times I practiced saying them, I still cried. But that’s OK, that’s me. I think a lot of the crowd cried, too, there’s some pictures of my bridesmaids looking a bit misty eyed in the background.
- My husband’s ring got stuck in my pocket during the ceremony, causing a nice laugh as I tried to pull it out.
- My dad popped an errant champagne cork during my cousin's bridesperson speech, which loudly ricocheted off the metal roof of the shelter. Hilarious!
- My husband picked me up and twirled me around before I threw the bouquet. (I had forgotten that spinning around was a thing and was going to decline when he just grabbed me and spun... I love that man.)
- The loaf of Stella's hot spicy cheese bread that one of my fellow campers had grabbed at the farmer's market that morning gave me as we were sitting around the campfire drinking post-reception. I shared a little, but mostly I ate the whole damn thing. (It's true what they say, I tried to be really good about eating/drinking but I did not eat or drink as much as I planned at the reception and I never finished my piece of cake.)
- The cake knife/server my grandmother loaned us that she had brought to Michael's to get flowers attached to was tied so tightly together with ribbon we had to borrow a pocket knife to cut it apart before we could cut the cake.
- This wasn't technically the wedding, but we were so amped up neither of us could sleep well so we left the campground at 430AM the next morning (we'd planned on 630) and headed home before our flight. It gave us time to take showers, open gifts, and cuddle our kitties before leaving for the honeymoon.
A few notes on logistics... A few things to consider if you're having a wedding something like we did:
Bathrooms: We had pit toilets only. They were inside actual buildings with electric lighting and had handicap accessible stalls. We set up a little sanitary station on top of a spare cooler outside the bathroom door with hand wipes, hand sanitizer, etc to make sure people were not going to be spreading e. coli at our wedding.
Mobility concerns: The amphitheater had a paved walkway from the parking lot but a gravel/mulch path down to the benches (which did have backs). We set up the grandparents we were concerned about in the back on the asphalt with actual chairs with arms. (It was kind of an elevated platform with a railing so they could see everything just fine.) We also ensured we had chairs at the reception for them, since the seating was at picnic tables. I spoke with our other guests ahead of time who have mobility concerns and made sure they a) knew what the facilities were and b) had any accommodations they needed in place ahead of time.
Outdoor weddings in general: Consider providing sunscreen and bug spray if it's going to be an issue. Luckily it wasn't a big problem the time of year for our locations, but we had it anyway and I used it. In fact, I applied permethrin to my underskirt/petticoat, which is a type of bug repellent you apply to fabrics and let dry ahead of time. Highly recommend, I didn't have any problems like I have heard about from other people of bugs getting into or stuck in my tulle.
Advice: If you want it...
You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. I think on this sub the sentiment is pretty popular, but remember when dealing with other people, family, vendors, etc. You getting married the way you see fit is just as legitimate as anyone else's wedding. And generally you will be happier doing things your way. I could give a long list of the “offbeat” things we did, but what matters to me is at the end of the day everyone who was there said the wedding was the most “us” it could have been, and that’s what we wanted. Our wedding, our expression of love.
To anyone planning on DIYing a lot of stuff (perhaps this has already become apparent to you): you pay in time (and stress, if you're like me) for what you save in money. Make sure it’s worth it. Towards the end, some things became not worth it.
Also, your DIYs don’t have to be perfect. My chalkboard signs looked pretty… elementary school art class, but it didn’t matter because they communicated the information I needed them to. My cupcakes didn’t rise nicely because my stand mixer wasn’t functioning properly, but dammit they tasted good. And no one cared the day of, not even me. Don’t get me wrong, there were some things I had to get perfect (the dress) but sometimes good enough is enough.
The most zen I felt during wedding planning was once I reached the fuck-it stage where I was throwing money at problems to make them go away. I wish I had reached that point sooner, but it didn’t happen ‘til about 2 weeks before the wedding. I recommend hitting the fuck-it stage about a month before the wedding.
I also highly recommend taking 15-30 minutes after the ceremony to be alone (or relatively alone) with your spouse. We did our receiving line as people were coming into the amphitheater before the ceremony (for many reasons, I loved this) so immediately after it ended we held hands and took off across the big open field on the top of the mound and let our guests navigate to the reception. Our photographers came along for pictures of just the two of us but for the most part they were unobtrusive and we were able to get out the “OMG WE’RE MARRIED! IT’S DONE!” excitement and use the words husband and wife way too much. After that we drove over to the reception where the guests had already found their seats.
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By Washington Irving Preface, H. A. Davidson, M.A. THE MUTABILITY OF LITERATURE A COLLOQUY IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY [COMMENT.——"The Mutability of Literature" has been in- cluded in this edition of "The Sketch-Book" so that it may be read with "Westminster Abbey." The library which is the scene of the reveries here set down is in one of the build- ings belonging to Westminster. From the middle of the east side of the cloister opens the two-arched entrance to the chapter-house. In Irving's day, the northern arch and one- half the entrance were walled in to enclose a stair which led to the northern end of the library. Since then, the chapter- house entrance has been removed and an earlier stone stair restored, leading from the same east cloister up through the floor of the library to a point nearer the centre of the hall. In the olden time, the hall, one end of which is now the library, was the dormitory of the monks, and for their con- venience in going to night services, a narrow passage led from its northern end directly into the southern transept of the minster. Westminster School, to which the library belongs, dates from the dissolution of the monastic house of Henry VIII, who used a part of the confiscated revenues to found a bishopric and establish a school of for forty scholars with an upper and an under master. School and bishopric were both abolished under Queen Mary, but Elizabeth restored the school practically in accordance with her father's plan, and established the Dean and twelve Prebendaries under the name of the college or collegiate church of St. Peter, Westminster, with the distinct intention of creating a great academical as well as an ecclesi- astical body. There were forty scholars, as before, on the Queen's foundation, who were to be supported at Westminster. Besides these, other students, eighty in all, were admitted either as pensioners, that is, as boarding pupils, or as townsmen of West- minster. Students from outside of the city of Westminster were required to become townsmen by securing some house- holder who would take them into his house and be responsible for their bills and conduct. The charter and statuses which were granted for the government of this school remain in force to the present time, and it is in accordance with them that Latin plays are produced at intervals by the pupils of the school. The privilege of Westminster for prayers has belonged to the school immemorially, and each morning the scholars assemble for this purpose in the Poets' Corner. Dean Stanley, in "Historical Memorials of Westminster Abbey," quotes Irving's description of the library as better than any he could himself write. D.] I know that all beneath the moon decays, And what by mortals in this world is brought, In time's great period shall return to nought. I know that all the muse's heavenly lays, With toil of sprite which are so dearly bought, As idle sound, of few or none are sought, That there is nothing lighter than mere praise. DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN. 1. There are certain half-dreaming moods of mind, in which we naturally steal away from noise and glare, and seek some quiet haunt, where we may indulge our reveries and build our air-castles undisturbed. In such a mood I was loitering about the old gray cloisters of Westminster Abbey, enjoying that luxury of wandering thought which one is apt to dignify with the name of reflection; when suddenly an interruption of madcap boys from Westminster School, playing at football, broke in upon the monastic stillness of the place, making the vaulted passages and mouldering tombs echo with their merriment, I sought to take refuge from their noise by penetrating still deeper into the solitudes of the pile, and applied to one of the vergers for admission to the library. He conducted me through a portal rich with the crumbling structure of former ages, which opened upon a gloomy passage leading to the chapter-house and the chamber in which doomsday-book is deposited. Just within the passage is a small door on the left. To this the verger applied a key; it was double-locked, and opened with some difficulty, as if seldom used. We now ascend a dark narrow staircase, and, passing through a second door, entered the library. 2. I found myself in a lofty antique hall, the roof supported by massive joists of old English oak. It was soberly lighted by a row of Gothic windows at a considerable height from the floor, and which apparently opened upon the roofs of the cloisters. An ancient picture of some reverend dignitary of the church in his robes hung over the fireplace. Around the hall and in a small gallery were the books, arranged in carved oaken cases. They consisted principally of old polemical writers, and were much more worn by time than use. In the centre of the library was a solitary table with two or three books on it, an inkstand without ink, and a few pens parched by long disuse. The place seemed fitted for quiet study and profound meditation. It was buried deep among the massive walls of the abbey, and shut up from the tumult of the world. I could only hear now and then the shouts of the school- boys faintly swelling from the cloisters, and the sound of a bell tolling for prayers, echoing soberly along the roofs of the abbey. By degrees the shouts of merriment grew fainter and fainter, and at length died away; the bell ceased to toll, and a profound silence reigned through the dusky hall. 3. I had taken down a little thick quarto, curiously bound in parchment, with brass clasps, and seated myself at the table in a venerable elbow-chair. Instead of reading, however, I was beguiled by the solemn monastic air, and lifeless quiet of he place, into a train of musing. As I looked around upon the old volumes in their mouldering covers, thus ranged on the shelves, and apparently never disturbed in their repose, I could not but consider the library a kind of literary cata- comb, where authors, like mummies, are piously entombed, and left to blacken and moulder in dusty oblivion. 4. How much, thought I, has each of these volumes, now thrust aside with such indifference, cost some aching head! how many weary days! how many sleepless nights! How have they authors buried themselves in the solitude of cells and cloisters; shut themselves up from the face of man, and the still more blessed face of nature; and devoted themselves to painful research and intense reflection! And all for what? to occupy an inch of dusty shelf,——to have the title of their works read now and then in a future age, by some drowsy churchman or casual straggler like myself; and in another age be lost, even to remembrance. Such is the amount of this boasted immortality. A mere temporary rumor, a local sound; like the tone of that bell which has just tolled among these towers, filling the ear for a moment——lingering tran- siently in echo——and then passing away like a thing that was not! 5. While I sat half murmuring, half meditating these unprofitable speculations, with my head resting on my hand, I was thrumming with the other hand upon the quarto, until I accidentally loosened the clasps; when, to my utter aston- ishment, the little book gave two or three yawns, like one awaking from a deep sleep; then a husky hem; and at length began to talk. At first its voice was very hoarse and broken, being much troubled by a cobweb which some studi- ous spider had woven across it; and having probably con- tracted a cold from long exposure to the chills and damps of the abbey. In a short time, however, it became more dis- tinct, and I soon found it an exceedingly fluent, conversable little tome. Its language, to be sure, was rather quaint and obsolete, and its pronunciation, what, in the present day, would be deemed barbarous; but I shall endeavor, as far as I am able, to render it in modern parlance. 6. It began with railings about the neglect of the world—— about merit being suffered to languish in obscurity, and other such commonplace topics of literary repining, and complained bitterly that it had not been opened for more than two cen- turies. That the dean only looked now and then into the library, sometimes took down a volume or two, trifled with them for a few moments, and then returned them to their shelves. "What a plague do they mean," said the little quarto, which I began to perceive was somewhat choleric, "what a plague do they mean by keeping several thousand volumes of us shut up here, and watched by a set of old ver- gers, like so many beauties in a harem, merely to be looked at now and then by the dean? Books were written to give pleasure and to be enjoyed; and I would have a rule passed that the dean should pay each of us a visit at least once a year; or, if he is not equal to the task, let them once in a while turn loose the whole School of Westminster among us, that at any rate we may now and then have an airing." 7. "Softly, my worthy friend," replied I; "you are not aware how much better you are off than most books of your generation. By being stored away in an ancient library, you are like the treasured remains of those saints and mon- archs which lie enshrined in the adjoining chapels; while the remains of your contemporary mortals, left to the ordinary course of nature, have long since returned to dust." 8. "Sir," said the little tome, ruffling his leaves and looking big, "I was written for all the world, not for the bookworms of an abbey. I was intended to circulate from hand to hand, like other great contemporary works; but here I have been clasped up for more than two centuries, and might have silently fallen pray to these worms that are playing the very vengeance with my intestines, if you had not by chance given me an opportunity of uttering a few last words before I go to pieces." 9. "My good friend," rejoined I, "had you been left to the circulation of which you speak, you would long ere this have been no more. To judge from your physiognomy, you are now well stricken in years: very few of your contemporaries can be at present in existence; and those few owe their longevity to being immured like yourself in old libraries; which, suffer me to add, instead of likening to harems, you might more properly and gratefully have com[pared to those infirmaries attached to religious establishments, for the benefit of the old and decrepit, and where, by quiet fostering and no em- ployment, they often endure to an amazingly good-for-nothing old age. You talk of your contemporaries as if in circulation, ——where do you meet with their works? What do we hear of Robert Groteste, of Lincoln? No one could have toiled harder than he for immortality. He is said to have written nearly two hundred volumes. He built, as it were, a pyramid of books to perpetuate his name; but, alas! the pyramid has long since fallen, and only a few fragments are scattered in various libraries, where they are scarcely disturbed even by the antiquarian. What do we hear of Giraldus Cambrensis, the historian, antiquary, philosopher, theologian, and poet? He declined two bishoprics, that he might shut himself up and write for posterity: but posterity never inquires after his labors. What of Henry of Huntingdon, who besides a learned history of England, wrote a treatise on the contempt of the world, which the world was revenged by forgetting him? What is quoted of Joseph of Exeter, styled the miracle of his age in classical composition? Of his three great historic poems one is lost forever excepting a mere fragment; the others are known only to a few of the curious in literature; and as to his love-verses and epigrams, they have entirely disappeared. What is in current use of John Wallis, the Franciscan, who acquired the name of the tree of life? Of William of Malms- bury;——of Simeon of Durham;——of Benedict of Peter- borough;——of John Hanvill of St. Albans;——of———" 10. "Prithee, friend," cried the quarto, in a testy tone, "how old do you think me? You are talking of authors that lived long before my time, and wrote either in Latin or French, so that they in a manner expatriated themselves, and de- served to be forgotten; but I, sir, was ushered into the world from the press of the renowned Wynkyn de Worde. I was written in my own native tongue, at a time when the language had become fixed; and indeed I was considered a model of pure and elegant English." 11. (I should observe that these remarks were couched in such intolerably antiquated terms, that I have had infinite difficulty in rendering them into modern phraseology.) 12. "I cry your mercy," said I, "for mistaking your age; but it matters little: almost all the writers of your time have likewise passed into forgetfulness; and De Worde's piblica- tions are more literary rarities among book-collectors. The purity and stability of language, too, on which you found your claims to perpetuity, have been the fallacious dependence of authors of every age, even back to the times of the worthy Robert of Gloucester, who wrote his history in rhymes of mon- grel Saxon. Even now many talk of Spenser's 'Well of pure English undefiled' as if the language ever sprang from a well or fountain-head, and was not rather a mere confluence of various tongues, perpetually subject to changes and inter- mixtures. It is this which has made English literature so extremely mutable, and the reputation built upon it so fleeting. Unless thought can be committed to something ore permanent and unchangeable than such a medium, even thought must share the fate of everything else, and fall into decay. This should serve as a check upon the vanity and exultation of the most popular writer. He finds the language in which he has embarked his fame gradually altering, and subject to dilapidations of time and caprice of fashion. He looks back and beholds the early authors of his country, once the favorites of their day, supplanted by modern writers. A few short ages have covered them with obscurity, and their merits can only be relished by the quaint taste of the book- worm. And such, he anticipates, will be the fate of his own work, which, however it may be admired in its day, and held up as a model of purity, will in the course of years grow an- tiquated and obsolete, until it shall become almost as unin- telligible in its native land as an Egyptian obelisk, or one of those Runic inscriptions said to exist in the deserts of Tartary. I declare," added I, with some emotion, "when I contemplate a modern library, filled with new works, in all the bravery of rich gilding and binding, I feel disposed to sit down and weep; like the good Xerxes, when he surveyed his army, pranked out in all the splendor of military array, and re- flected that in one hundred years not one of them would be in existence!" 13. "Ah," said the little quarto, with a heavy sigh, "I see how it is; these modern scribblers have superseded all the good old authors. I suppose nothing is read nowadays but Sir Philip Sydney's 'Arcadia,' Sackville's stately plays, and 'Mirror for Magistrates," or the fine-spun euphemisms of the 'unparalleled John Lyly.'" 14. "There you are again mistaken," said I; "the writers whom you suppose in vogue, because they happened to be so when you were last in circulation, have long since had their day. Sir Philip Sydney's 'Arcadia.' the immortality of which was so profoundly predicted by his admirers, and which, in truth, is full of noble thoughts, delicate images, and graceful turns of language, is now scarcely ever mentioned. Sackville has strutted into obscurity; and even Lyly, though his writings were once the delight of a court, and apparently per- petuated by a proverb, is now scarcely known even by name. A whole crowd of authors who wrote and wrangled at the time, have likewise gone down, with all their writings and their controversies. Wave after wave of succeeding literature has rolled over them, until they are buried so deep, that it is only now and then that some industrious diver after frag- ments of antiquity brings up a specimen for the gratification of the curious. 15. "For my part," I continued, "I consider this muta- bility of language a wise precaution of Providence for the benefit of the world at large, and of the authors in particular. To reason from analogy, we daily behold the varied and beautiful tribes of vegetables springing up, flourishing, adorning the fields for a short time, and then fading into dust, to make way for their successors. Were not this the case, he fecundity of nature would be a grievance instead of a blessing. The earth would groan with rank and excessive vegetation, and its sur- face would become a tangled wilderness. In like manner the works of genius and learning decline and make way for subsequent productions. Language gradually varies, and with it fade away the writings of authors who have flourished their allotted time; otherwise, the creative powers of genius would over- stock the world, and the mind would be completely bewil- dered in the endless mazes of literature. Formerly there were some restraints on this excessive multiplication. Works had to be transcribed by hand, which was a slow and laborious operation; they were written either on parchment, which was expensive, so that one work was often erased to make way for another; or on papyrus, which was fragile and extremely perishable. Authorship was a limited and unprofitable craft, pursued chiefly by monks in the leisure and solitude of their cloisters. The accumulation of manuscripts was slow and costly, and confined almost entirely to monasteries. To these circumstances it may, in some measure, be owing that we have not been inundated by the intellect of antiquity; that the fountains of thought have not been broken up, and modern genius drowned in the deluge. But the inventions of the paper and the press have put an end to all these restraints. They have made every one a writer, and enabled every mind to pour itself into print, and diffuse itself over the whole intellectual world. The consequences are alarming. The stream of literature has swollen into a torrent——augmented into a river——expanded into a sea. A few centuries since, five or six hundred manuscripts constituted a great library; but what would you say to libraries such as actually exist containing three or four hundred thousand volumes; legions of authors at the same time busy; and the press going on with activity, to double and quadruple the number? Unless some unforeseen mortality should break out among the progeny of the muse, now that she has become so prolific, I tremble for posterity. I fear the mere fluctuation of language will not be sufficient. Criticism may do much. It increases with the increase of literature, and resembles one of those salutary checks on population spoken of by economists. All possible encouragement, therefore, should be given to the growth of critics, good or bad. But I fear all will be in vain; let criticism do what it may, writers will write, printers will print, and the world will inevitably be overstocked with good books. It will soon be the employment of a lifetime merely to learn their names. Many a man of passable information, at the present day, reads scarcely anything but reviews; and before long a man of erudition will be little better than a mere walk- ing catalogue." 16. "My very good sir," said the little quarto, yawning most drearily in my face, "excuse my interrupting you, but I perceive you are rather given to prose. I would ask the fate of an author who was making some noise just as I left the world. His reputation, however, was considered quite tem- porary. The learned shook their head at him, for he was a poor half-educated varlet, that knew little of Latin, and nothing of Greek, and had been obliged to run the country for deer-stealing. I think his name was Shakspeare. I pre- sume, he soon sunk into oblivion." 17. "On the contrary," said I, "it is owing to that very man that the literature of his period has experienced a dura- tion beyond the ordinary term of English literature. There rise authors now and then, who seem proof against the muta- bility of language, because they have rooted themselves in the unchanging principles of human nature. They are like gigantic trees that we sometimes see on the banks of a stream; which, by their vast and deep roots, penetrating through the mere surface, and laying hold on the very foundations of the earth, preserve the soil around them from being swept away by the ever-flowing current and hold up many a neighboring plant, and, perhaps, worthless weed, to perpetuity. Such is the case with Shakspeare, whom we behold defying the encroachment of time, retaining in modern use the language and literature of his day, and giving duration to many an indifferent author merely from having flourished in his vicinity. But even he, I grieve to say, is gradually assuming the tint of age, and his whole form is overrun by a profusion of commen- tators, who, like clambering vines and creepers, almost bury the noble plant that upholds them." 18. Here the little quarto began to heave his sides and chuckle, until at length he broke out in a plethoric fit of laughter that had wellnigh choked him, by reason of his excessive corpulency. "Mighty well!" cried he, as soon as he could recover breath, "mighty well! and so you would persuade me that the literature of an age is to be perpetuated by a poet, forsooth——a poet." And here he wheezed forth another fit of laughter. 19. I confess that I felt somewhat nettled at this rudeness, which, however, I pardoned on account of his having flour- ished in a less polished age. I determined, nevertheless, not to give up my point. 20. "Yes," resumed I, positively, "a poet; for of all writers he has the best chance for immortality. Others may write from the head, but he writes from the heart, and the heart will always understand him. He is the faithful por- trayer of nature, whose features are always the same, and always interesting. Prose-writers are voluminous and unwieldy; their pages are crowded with common-places, and their thoughts expand into tediousness. But with the true poet everything is terse, touching, or brilliant. He gives the choicest thoughts in the choicest language. He illustrates them by everything that he sees most striking in nature and art. He enriches them by pictures of human life, such as it is passing before him. His writings, therefore, contain the spirit, the aroma, if I may use the phrase, of the age in which he lives. They are caskets which enclose with a small compass the wealth of the language,——its family jewels, which are thus transmitted in a portable form to posterity. The setting may occasionally be antiquated, and require now and then to be renewed, and in the case of Chaucer; but the brilliancy and intrinsic value of the gems continued unaltered. Cast a book back over the long reach of literary history. What vast valleys of dulness, filled with monkish legends and academical controversies! what bogs of theological speculation! what dreary wastes of metaphysics. Here and there only do we behold the heaven- illuminated bards, elevated like beacons on their widely separate heights, to transmit the pure light of poetical in- telligence from age to age." Thorow earth and waters deepe, The pen by skill doth passe: And featly nyps the worldes abuse, And shoes us in a glasse, The vertu and the vice Of every wight alyve; The honey comb that bee doth make Is not so sweet in hyve, As are the golden leves That drop from poet's head! Which doth surmount our common talke As farre as dross hoth lead. 21. I was just about to launch forth into eulogiums upon the poet of the day, when the sudden opening of the door caused me to turn my head. It was the verger, who came to inform me that it was time to close the library. I sought to have a parting word with the quarto, but the worthy little tome was silent; the clasps were closed; and it looked per- fectly unconscious of all that had passed. I have been to the library two or three times since, and have endeavored to draw it into further conversation, but in vain; and whether all this rambling colloquy actually took place, or whether it was another of those odd day-dreams to which I am subject, I have never to this moment been able to discover.from THE SKETCH-BOOK OF GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT., TOGETHER WITH ABBOTSFORD AND OTHER SELECTIONS FROM THE WRITINGS OF WASHINGTON IRVING. EDITED WITH COMMENTS, NOTES, BIBLIOGRAPHY, AND TOPICS FOR STUDY, BY H. A. DAVIDSON, M.A. COPYRIGHT, 1907, BY D. C. HEATH & CO., PUBLISHERS, BOSTON, NEW YORK, CHICAGO.; pp. 149—161.
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