Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
The A B C of Literature
By Carolyn Wells (1862–1942)
A IS for Anthony Hope,
Who gives to his fancy free scope;
        In turret and tower
        His characters cower,
Or make hairbreadth escapes by a rope.        5
B is for bashful James Barrie,
From the land of the kilt and Glengarry;
        We’ve read him to date,
        And his next we await,
For we wonder whom Tommy will marry.        10
C is for colorful Crane,
Who has a phenomenal brain;
        His language amazes,
        He writes in blue blazes,
And his verses are really insane.        15
D is for R. Harding Davis,
And jolly good stories he gave us;
        Van Bibber will do,
        And Gallagher, too,
But from his war-notes the saints save us.        20
E is for George Egerton,
Whose “Keynotes” were rather good fun;
        But her themes pathologic,
        And terms pedagogic,
Are things the young persons should shun.        25
F is for Frances Burnett,
Who revels in plain epithet;
        Her people of quality,
        Though given to jollity,
Are the worst that we ever have met.        30
G is for Mr. Grant Allen,
Who pours out his views by the gallon;
        His books are improper,
        But he’s a Hill-topper,
So he fears not the critic’s sharp talon.        35
H is William Dean Howells,
As wise as the wisest of owls;
        The subject of jokes
        Of frivolous folks,
At which he good-naturedly growls.        40
I is for Ian Maclaren,
Who knows about Moses and Aaron;
        But in stories and tales
        He signally fails,
For of artistic interest they’re barren.        45
J is for jimp Henry James,
Who expounds lofty motives and aims
        With sentences long
        And arguments strong,
And the most unpronounceable names.        50
K is for capable Kipling,
Who, though he’s accounted a stripling,
        Writes stories and rimes
        Right up to the times
About loving and fighting and tippling.        55
L is for lean Andrew Lang,
Who recently saw, with a pang,
        That a man up in Maine
        Stole the work of his brain,
And he gave him a lengthy harangue.        60
M is Maurice Maeterlinck,
Whose dramas are graveyards in ink;
        Abstract, esoteric,
        Symbolic, hysteric—
To read him would drive us to drink.        65
N is for noxious Nordau,
Who pictures the terrible wo
        In store for the race
        Since we’ve fallen from grace,
And surely the Doctor should know.        70
O is for Miss Olive Schreiner,
Whose writings grow finer and finer;
        She certainly seems
        To be given to dreams
Of which she’s the only diviner.        75
P is for Popular Parker,
Who writes of the North, where it’s darker;
        His “Pretty Pierre”
        Is drawn with great care,
But to “Valmond” he isn’t a marker.        80
Q is for quick-witted “Q,”
At home on a staff or a crew;
        With vigor and skill
        He handles a quill,
Or paddles his well-loved canoe.        85
R is for Richard Le Gallienne,
Who really deserves a medallion
        That his “Fancies” and “Quest”
        Were never suppressed;
But they ought to be writ in Italian.        90
S is for sad Sarah Grand,
Who marital happiness banned;
        Her public she vexes
        With problems of sexes
Which most of us can’t understand.        95
T is for terse Thomas Hardy,
Whose works we with wonder regard. He
        Has written for years,
        But it somehow appears
His moral convictions were tardy.        100
U is for dear Uncle Remus,
To praise him ’twould surely beseem us;
        We’ve contracted a habit
        Of quoting Br’er Rabbit,
Or poor old Br’er Wolf in extremis.        105
V is for Victoria Crosse,
Who wouldn’t be much of a loss,
        For her “Woman Who Wouldn’t”
        Or Couldn’t or Shouldn’t,
Is nothing but driveling dross.        110
W is Mrs. Ward,
By whom we are awfully bored;
        “Robert Elsmere” we stood,
        And “Marcella” was good,
But when “Tressady” came we were floored.        115
X is the author unknown,
Who signs any name but his own;
        And though nobody claims
        “The Descendant” and “James,”
In their pages good writing is shown.        120
Z is for Zangwill the Zealous,
Of whom our own critics are jealous,
        But in epigram keen,
        Free from malice or spleen,
Those foreigners seem to excel us.        125

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