28 March 1857
FRESH FERN LEAVES.
Entered according Act of Congress in the year 1855, by ROBERT BONNER, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
THE AUTOGRAPH FEVER.
How much room there would be in the world, if all the fools were put out of it. First, there is a mania for antique furniture; and straightaway all the cabinet-shop cock-lofts, and their worm-eaten treasures, are rummaged over for claw-footed tables and steeple-top chairs, invented, if we may believe our doomed back-bones, for rascally heretics. Directly our parlors are filled with these ghostly seats, on which we are expected to squirm, while we attempt to converse; inwardy imploring fate the while, that the bunchy German-worsted rabbit beneath us, may find his legs and let us down on a flat surface. Antique furniture having had its day, retires to make room for anitque china, and Credulity goes mad for bowls, cups, jugs, vases and pitchers, dug up to order by those who live on the weakness of others, from unheard-of, unpronounceable, and subterranean ruins; and long histories are improvised to the victimised buyers to be repeated by the latter over the innocent porcelain to a-gape visitors, on festive occasions. Then comes the reign of sea-weed; and old Neptune's locks are torn from his hoary head, to be twisted into wreaths and bouquets, or pressed between gilt-covers, to keep visitors from yawning their heads off when conversation is dull. Follows—the conchological mania; a most-unmitigated shell-out! then the Puseyistical mania, in which the unappropriated feelings of young damsels find vent at their fingers ends, in embroidering altar-cloth "fixins," and sacerdotal book-marks, for interesting young rectors. Next the wax-flower and wax-fruit mania; close on the heels of which comes the leather-work maniac, for picture frames, work-boxes, etc. to be shrivelled up in furnace-heated apartments and finally thrown away.
All this is comparatively harmless; but when this insanity breaks out in the form of the Autograph fever, then I implore the aid of straight-jackets for those affected with this contagious disease. Mermaids very possibly are kept out of mischief by keeping up the supply of sea-weed; manufacturers of antique china, and antique furniture, get well paid for their trouble, by those who desire these things; but when you expect an author, who lives by his inkstand, (and is often sick to death of the sight of it), whose time is bread and butter, and possible fame, to scribble dozens of his autographs per week for your amusement, mail them, and perhaps pay the postage; or give house-room to huge folios, in which you are expected to write your name, and which you are to preserve intact till it suits the whim of the owners to send for them; I call that——————. Don't you?
Fanny Fern, "The Autograph Fever," The New-York Ledger (28 March 1857): 4
To cite this project:
Fanny Fern, "The Autograph Fever," Fanny Fern in The New York Ledger, Ed. Kevin McMullen (2018) http://fannyfern.org.