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Bacon advises, Shakespeare writes you songs,
And Mary Queen of Scots embraces you.
So it goes on, not quite like life, perhaps,
But so near, that the very difference piques,
Shows that e'en better than this best will be, —
This passing.entertainment in a hut
Whose bare walls take your taste since, one stage

more,
And you arrive at the palace : all half real,
And you, to suit it, 'less than real besides,
In a dream, lethargic kind of death in life,
That helps the interchange of natures, flesh
Transfused by souls, and such souls! O, 't is choice !
And if at whiles the bubble, blown too thin,
Seem nigh on bursting, — if you nearly see
The real world through the false, — what do you see?
Is the old so ruined? You find you're in a flock
Of the youthful, earnest, passionate, — genius, beauty,
Rank and wealth also, if you care for these,
And all depose their natural rights, hail you,
(That’s me, sir) as their mate and yoke-fellow,
Participate in Sludgehood — nay, grow mine,
I veritably possess them — banish doubt,
And reticence and modesty alike !
Why, here's the Golden Age, old Paradise

Or new Eutopia! Here is life indeed,
And the world well won now, found for the first time !

And all this might be, may be, and with good help
Of a little lying shall be : so, Sludge lies !
Why, he's at worst your poet who sings how Greeks
That never were, in Troy which never was,
Did this or the other impossible great thing!
He's Lowell — it's a world, you smile and say,
Of his own invention — wondrous Longfellow,
Surprising Hawthorne ! Sludge does more than they,
And acts the books they write: the more 's his praise !

But why do I mount to poets ? Take plain prose, -
Dealers in common sense, set these at work,
What can they do without their helpful lies ?
Each states the law and fact and face of the thing
Just as he'd have them, finds what he thinks fit,.
Is blind to what missuits him, just records
What makes his case out, quite ignores the rest.
It's a History of the World, the Lizard Age,
The Early Indians, the Old Country War,
Jerome Napoleon, whatsoever you please,
All as the author wants it. Such a scribe
You pay and praise for putting life in stones,

Fire into fog, making the past your world.
There 's plenty of “How did you contrive to grasp
The thread which led you through this labyrinth ?
How build such solid fabric out of air ?
How on so slight foundation found this tale,
Biography, description ?” — in other words,
“How many lies did it require to tell

The portly truth you here present us with ?”
“O,” quoth the penman, purring at your praise,
'Tis fancy all; no particle of fact:
I was poor and threadbare when I wrote that book
• Bliss in the Golden City.' I, at Thebes ?
We writers paint out of our heads, you see !”
“Ah, the more wonderful the gift in you,
The more creativeness and godlike craft !”
But I, do I present you with my piece,
It's “ What, Sludge? When my sainted mother spoke
The verses Lady Jane Grey last composed
About the rosy bower in the seventh heaven
Where she and Queen Elizabeth keep house, —
You made the raps ? 'T was your invention that?
Cur, slave, and devil !” – eight fingers and two thumbs
Stuck in my throat !

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Well, if the marks seem gone,

'T is because stiffish cock-tail, taken in time, Is better for a bruise than arnica.

There, sir! I bear no malice: 't is n't in me.
I know I acted wrongly: still, I've tried
What I could say in my excuse, — to show
The devil's not all devil ... I don't pretend,
An angel, much less such a gentleman
As you, sir! And I've lost you, lost myself,
Lost all, 1-1-1- ....

No— are you in earnest, sir ? O, yours, sir, is an angel's part! I know What prejudice must be, what the common course Men take to soothe their ruffled self-conceit: Only you rise superior to it all! No, sir, it don't hurt much ; it's speaking long That makes me choke a little : the marks will go ! What? Twenty V-notes more, and outfit too, And not a word to Greeley? One - one kiss Of the hand that saves me! You'll not let me speak, I well know, and I've lost the right, too true! But I must say, sir, if She hears (she does) Your sainted ... Well, sir, — be it so ! That's, I think, My bed-room candle. Good night! Bl-l-less you, sir !

R-r-r, you brute, beast, and blackguard ! Cowardly

scamp! I only wish I dared burn down the house And spoil your sniggering! O, what, you ’re the

man?
You're satisfied at last ? You've found out Sludge ?
We'll see that presently: my turn, sir, next!
I too can tell my story : brute, — do you hear ?—
You throttled your sainted mother, that old hag,
In just such a fit of passion : no, it was ...
To get this house of hers, and many a note
Like these ... I'll pocket them, however ... five,
Ten, fifteen ... ay, you gave her throat the twist,
Or else you poisoned her! Confound the cuss !
Where was my head ? I ought to have prophesied
He'll die in a year and join her : that's the way.

I don't know where my head is : what have I done ?
How did it all go? I said he'd poisoned her,
And hoped he'd have grace given him to repent,
Whereon he picked this quarrel, bullied me
And called me cheat : I thrashed him, — who could

help?
He howled for mercy, prayed me on his knees
To cut and run and save him from disgrace :

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