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Go into history and bid us mark
Not merely powder-plots prevented, crowns
Kept on kings' heads by miracle enough,
But private mercies — O, you ’ve told me sir,
Of such interpositions ! How, yourself,
Once, missing, on a memorable day,
Your handkerchief, — just setting out, you know, -
You must return to fetch it, lost the train,
And saved your precious self from what befell
The thirty-three whom Providence forgot.
You tell, and ask me what I think of this ?
Well, sir, I think then, since you needs must know,
What matter had you and Boston city to boot
Sailed skyward, like burnt onion-peelings? Much
To you, no doubt: for me — undoubtedly
The cutting of my hair concerns me more,
Because, however sad the truth may seem,
Sludge is of all-importance to himself.
You set apart that day in every year
For special thanksgiving, were a heathen else:
Well, I who cannot boast the like escape,
Suppose I said “ I don't thank Providence
For my part, owing it no gratitude ?”
“Nay, but you owe as much” — you 'd tutor me,
“ You, every man alive, for blessings gained

In every hour of the day, could you but know!
I saw my crowning merey: all have such,
Could they but see!” Well, sir, why don't they see?
“ Because they won't look, — or perhaps, they can't.”
Then, sir, suppose I can, and will, and do
Look, microscopically, as is right,
Into each hour with its infinitude
Of influences at work to profit Sludge ?
For that's the case: I've sharpened up my sight
To spy a providence in the fire's going out,
The kettle's boiling, the dime's sticking fast
Despite the hole i’ the pocket. Call such facts
Fancies, too petty a work for Providence,
And those same thanks which you exact from me,
Prove too prodigious payment: thanks for what,
If, nothing guards and guides us little men ?
No, no, sir! You must put away your pride,
Resolve to let Sludge into partnership!
I live by signs and omens: looked at the roof
Where the pigeons settle — “ If the further bird,
The white, takes wing first, I'll confess when thrashed;
Not, if the blue does ” — so I said to myself
Last week, lest you should take me by surprise :
Off Happed the white, — and I'm confessing, sir !
Perhaps 't is Providence's whim and way

With only me, in the world : how can you tell ?
“ Because unlikely!” Was it likelier, now,
That this our one out of all worlds beside,
The what-d’ you-call-’em millions, should be just
Precisely chosen to make Adam for,
And the rest o’the tale ? Yet the tale 's true, you know:
Such undeserving clod was graced so once ;
Why not graced likewise undeserving Sludge ?
Are we merit-mongers, flaunt we filthy rags?
All you can bring against my privilege
Is, that another way was taken with you, —
Which I don't question. It's pure grace, my luck.
I'm broken to the way of nods and winks,
And need no formal summoning. You've a help;
Holloa his name, or whistle, clap your hands,
Stamp with your foot, or pull the bell : all's one,
He understands you want him, here he comes.
Just so, I came at the knocking: you, sir, wait
The tongue of the bell, nor stir before you catch
Reason's clear tingle, nature's clapper brisk,
Or that traditional peal was wont to cheer
Your mother's face turned heavenwards : short o these
There's no authentic intimation, eh ?
Well, when you hear, you 'll answer them, start up
And stride into the presence, top of toe,

And there find Sludge beforehand, Sludge that sprung At noise o’the knuckle on the partition-wall! I think myself the more religious man. Religion 's all or nothing; it's no mere smile Of contentment, sigh of aspiration, sir, — No quality of the finelier-tempered clay Like its whiteness or its lightness; rather, stuff Of the very stuff, life of life, self of self. I tell you, men won't notice; when they do, They'll understand. I notice nothing else, I’m eyes, ears, mouth of me, one gaze and gape, Nothing eludes me, everything a hint, IIandle and help. It's all absurd, and yet There's something in it all, I know : how much? No answer! What does that prove? Man's still man, Still meant for a poor blundering piece of work When all 's done; but, if somewhat's done, like this, Or not done, is the case the same? Suppose I blunder in my guess at the true sense Of the knuckle-summons, nine times out of ten, — What if the tenth guess happen to be right? If the tenth shovel-load of powdered quartz Yield me the nugget? I gather, crush, sift all, Pass o'er the failure, pounce on the success. To give you a notion, now — (let who wins, laugh!)

When first I see a man, what do I first ?
Why, count the letters which make up his name,
And as their number chances, even or odd,
Arrive at my conclusion, trim my course :
Hiram H. Horsefall is your honored name,
And have n't I found a patron, sir, in you ?
“Shall I cheat this stranger ?” I take apple-pips,
Stick one in either canthus of my eye,
And if the left drops first.— (your left, sir, stuck)
I'm warned, I let the trick alone this time.
You, sir, who smile, superior to such trash,
You judge of character by other rules :
Don't your rules sometimes fail you? Pray, what rule
Have you judged Sludge by hitherto ?

O, be sure,
You, everybody blunders, just as I,
In simpler things than these by far! For see :
I knew two farmers, — one a wiseacre,
Who studied seasons, rummaged almanacs,
Quoted the dew-point, registered the frost,
And then declared, for outcome of his pains,
Next summer must be dampish : 't was a drought.
His neighbor prophesied such drought would fall,
Saved hay and corn, made cent per cent thereby,
And proved a sage indeed : how came his lore?

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