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He let escape some spice of knavery,—well,
In wisely being blind to it! Don't you praise
Nelson for setting spy-glass to blind eye
And saying ... what was it—that he could not see
The signal he was bothered with? Ay, indeed!
I'll go beyond : there's a real love of a lie,
Liars find ready-made for lies they make,
As hand for glove, or tongue for sugar-plum.
At best, 'tis never pure and full belief;
Those furthest in the quagmire,-don't suppose
They strayed there with no warning, got no chance
Of á filth-speck in their face, which they clenched
Bent brow against ! Be sure they had their doubts,
And fears, and fairest challenges to try
The floor 'o' the seeming solid sand! But no!
Their faith was pledged, acquaintance too apprised,
All but the last step ventured, kerchiefs waved,
And Sludge called "pet":'twas easier marching on
To the promised land join those who, Thursday next,
Meant to meet Shakespeare; better follow Sludge-
Prudent, oh sure !-on the alert, how else?-
But making for the mid-bog, all the same!
To hear your outcries, one would think I caught
Miss Stokes by the scruff o' the neck, and pitched her
flat, Foolish-face-foremost! Hear these simpletons, That's all I beg, before my work 's begun, Before I've touched them with my finger-tip! Thus they await me (do but listen, now! It's reasoning, this is, I can't imitate The baby voice, though) “In so many tales "Must be some truth, truth though a pin-point big, “Yet, some: a single man's deceived, perhaps“ Hardly, a thousand : to suppose one cheat “Can gull all these, were more miraculous far “Than aught we should confess a miracle"And so on. Then the Judge sums up-(it's rare) VOL. II
Bids you respect the authorities that leap
To the judgment-seat at once,—why don't you note
The limpid nature, the unblemished life,
The spotless honour, indisputable sense
Of the first upstart with his story? What-
Outrage a boy on whom you ne'er till now
Set eyes, because he finds raps trouble him?
Fools, these are: ay, and how of their opposites
Who never did, at bottom of their hearts,
Believe for a moment?-Men emasculaté,
Blank of belief, who played, as eunuchs use,
With superstition safely,-cold of blood,
Who saw what made for them i' the mystery,
Took their occasion, and supported Sludge
-As proselytes? No, thank you, far too shrewd !
-But promisers of fair play, encouragers
O'the claimant; who in candour needs must hoist
Sludge up on Mars' Hill, get speech out of Sludge
To carry off, criticize, and cant about!
Didn't Åthens treat Saint Paul so?—at any rate,
It's “a new thing" philosophy fumbles at.
Then there's the other picker-out of pearl
From dung-heaps,-ay, your literary man,
Who draws on his kid gloves to deal with Sludge
Daintily and discreetly,-shakes a dust
O'the doctrine, flavours thence, he well knows how,
The narrative or the novel,-half-believes,
All for the book's sake, and the public's stare,
And the cash that's God's sole solid in this world!
Look at him! Try to be too bold, too gross
For the master! Not you! He's the man for muck;
Shovel it forth, full-splash, he'll smooth your brown
Into artistic richness, never fear!
Find him the crude stuff; when you recognize
Your lie again, you'll doff your hat to it,
Dressed out for company! “For company,"
I say, since there's the relish of success:
Let all pay due respect, call the lie truth,
Save the soft silent smirking gentleman Who ushered in the stranger: you must sigh “How melancholy, he, the only one “Fails to perceive the bearing of the truth “Himself gave birth to!”—There's the triumph's
smack! That man would choose to see the whole world roll l'the slime o' the slough, so he might touch the tip Of his brush with what I call the best of brownsTint ghost-tales, spirit-stories, past the power Of the outworn umber and bistre!
Yet I think There's a more hateful form of fooleryThe social sage's, Solomon of saloons And philosophic diner-out, the fribble Who wants a doctrine for a chopping-block To try the edge of his faculty upon, Prove how much common sense he'll hack and hew l' the critical minute 'twixt the soup and fish! These were my patrons: these, and the like of them Who, rising in my soul now, sicken it, These I have injured! Gratitude to these? The gratitude, forsooth, of a prostitute To the greenhorn and the bully-friends of hers, From the wag that wants the queer jokes for his club, To the snuff-box-decorator, honest man, Who just was at his wits' end where to find So genial a Pasiphae! All and each Pay, compliment, protect from the police: And how she hates them for their pains, like me! So much for my remorse at thanklessness Toward a deserving public!
But, for God?
Ay, that's a question! Well, sir, since you press-
(How you do tease the whole thing out of me!
I don't mean you, you know, when I say “them":
Hate you, indeed! But that Miss Stokes, that Judge!
Enough, enough—with sugar : thank you, sir!)
Now for it, then! Will you believe me, though?
You've heard what I confess; I don't unsay
A single word: I cheated when I could,
Rapped with my toe-joints, set sham hands at work,
Wrote down names weak in sympathetic ink,
Rubbed odic lights with ends of phosphor-match,
And all the rest; believe that: believe this,
By the same token, though it seem to set
The crooked straight again, unsay the said,
Stick up what I've knocked down; I can't help that
It's truth! I somehow vomit truth to-day
This trade of mine, I don't know, can't be sure
But there was something in it, tricks and all!
Really, I want to light up my own mind.
They were tricks,-true, but what I mean to add
Is also true. First,- don't it strike you, sir?
Go back to the beginning,—the first fact
We're taught is, there's a world beside this world,
With spirits, not mankind, for tenantry;
That much within that world once sojourned here,
That all upon this world will visit there,
And therefore that we, bodily here below,
Must have exactly such an interest
In learning what may be the ways o' the world
Above us, as the disembodied folk
Have (by all analogic likelihood)
In watching how things go in the old home
With us, their sons, successors, and what not.
Oh yes, with added powers probably,
Fit for the novel state,-old loves grown pure,
Old interests understood aright,—they watch!
Eyes to see, ears to hear, and hands to help,
Proportionate to advancement: they're ahead,
That's all-do what we do, but noblier done-
Use plate, whereas we eat our meals off delf,
(To use a figure).
Concede that, and I ask Next what may be the mode of intercourse Between us men here, and those once-men there? First comes the Bible's speech; then, history With the supernatural element,—you knowAll that we sucked in with our mothers' milk, Grew up with, got inside of us at last, Till it's found bone of bone and flesh of flesh. See now, we start with the miraculous, And know it used to be, at all events: What's the first step we take, and can't but take, In arguing from the known to the obscure? Why this: “What was before, may be to-day. “Since Samuel's ghost appeared to Saul, of course “My brother's spirit may appear to me." Go tell your teacher that! What's his reply? What brings a shade of doubt for the first time O'er his brow late so luminous with faith? “Such things have been,” says he, "and there's no
doubt “Such things may be: but I advise mistrust “Of eyes, ears, stomach, and, more than all, your brain, “Unless it be of your great-grandmother, “Whenever they propose a ghost to you!" The end is, there's a composition struck; 'Tis settled, we've some way of intercourse Just as in Saul's time; only, different: How, when and where, precisely,—find it out! I want to know, then, what's so natural As that a person born into this world And seized on by such teaching, should begin With firm expectancy and a frank look-out For his own allotment, his especial share I'the secret,his particular ghost, in fine? I mean, a person born to look that way, Since natures differ: take the painter-sort, One man lives fifty years in ignorance Whether grass be green or red,—“No kind of eye