A BOHEMIAN TRICK
To the Bohemian mind, all labor seems fit for slaves. There should be gentlemanly leisure for those whom the gods endow with wit; nectar and ambrosia are their proper food; silken raiment and luxurious repose their right. So thinking, the old Bohemians in New York, who clung to their
The general uncertainty which characterized the Bohemians’ efforts merged into something closely resembling dishonesty--for they were not particular as to the manner of supplying pressing want. Having a happy knack of turning their faculties to account, their busy brains readily devised some ingenious plan for replenishing an exhausted exchequer, or for restoring a fading credit. A plan was no sooner conceived than it was put into execution, and the result was usually satisfactory to the inventor, however disagreeable it might have appeared to the victim.
An illustration of this Bohemian trickery was given, several years ago, in the office of the New York Times. One of the brightest, best-read, and most reckless of the Bohemians of the city, suddenly nipped by evil fortune, secluded himself for a day from the gaze of his fellows, and then appeared in the editorial room with a roll of manuscript. It was a Carrier’s Address in verse, intended for the first of January, admirably written, full of local hits, crackling with fun. It was gladly accepted. “Could you let me have forty dollars?” asked the poet. In violation of a rule in force in newspaper offices, which prohibits prepayment for literary contributions, the money was given, and in the evening there was high revel at Pfaff’s,--an underground saloon on Broadway much frequented by the Bohemians of the day. The New Year arrived; and the Times Carriers’ Address was widely distributed and generally read. It was a creditable literary performance,--in fact, far superior to the average character of these annual inflictions. But a stray copy was found by a reader of the Times in a western town; and this person, struck by the lines in the poem which seemed familiar, made some investigations. It then appeared that the dishonest poet had “adopted” an old Address, changing the order of the verses, adding bits of local color, interjecting a few allusions to the principal events of the year, and then successfully passing it off as an original production. (250-251)