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And not a natural creak, sir ?
Answer, then! Once, twice, thrice... see, I'm waiting to say “thrice!". All to no use? No sort of hope for me? It's all to post to Greeley's newspaper ? What? If I told you all about the tricks? Upon my soul!—the whole truth, and nought else, And how there's been some falsehood-for your part, Will you engage to pay my passage out, And hold your tongue until I'm safe on board ? England's the place, not Boston-no offence! I see what makes you hesitate: don't fear! I mean to change my trade and cheat no more, Yes, this time really it's upon my soul! Be my salvation !-under Heaven, of course. I'll tell some queer things. Sixty Vs must do. A trifle, though, to start with! We'll refer The question to this table?
How you're changed!
Then split the difference; thirty more, we'll say.
Ay, but you leave my presents! Else I'll swear
'Twas all through those: you wanted yours again,
So, picked a quarrel with me, to get them back!
Tread on a worm, it turns, sir! If I turn,
Your fault! 'Tis you'll have forced me! Who's obliged
To give up life yet try no self-defence?
At all events, I'll run the risk. Eh?
May I sit, sir? This dear old table, now!
Please, sir, a parting egg-nogg and cigar!
I've been so happy with you! Nice stuffed chairs,
And sympathetic sideboards; what an end
To all the instructive evenings! (It's alight.)
Well, nothing lasts, as Bacon came and said.
Here goes,—but keep your temper, or I'll scream!
You see, sir, it's your own fault more than mine;
It's all your fault, you curious gentlefolk!
You're prigs,-excuse me, like to look so spry,
So clever, while you cling by half a claw
To the perch whereon you puff yourselves at roost,
Such piece of self-conceit as serves for perch
Because you chose it, so it must be safe.
Oh, otherwise you're sharp enough! You spy
Who slips, who slides, who holds by help of wing,
Wanting real foothold,- who can't keep upright
On the other perch, your neighbour chose, not you:
There's no outwitting you respecting him!
For instance, men love money—that, you know
And what men do to gain it: well, suppose
A poor lad, say a help's son in your house,
Listening at keyholes, hears the company
Talk grand of dollars, V-notes, and so forth,
How hard they are to get, how good to hold,
How much they buy,-if, suddenly, in pops he-
“I've got a V-note!"—what do you say to him?
What's your first word which follows your last kick?
“Where did you steal it, rascal?” That's because
He finds you, fain would fool you, off your perch,
Not on the special piece of nonsense, sir,
Elected your parade-ground: let him try
Lies to the end of the list,-“ He picked it up,
“ His cousin died and left it him by will,
“The President flung it to him, riding by,
“An actress trucked it for a curl of his hair,
“ He dreamed of luck and found his shoe enriched,
“He dug up clay, and out of clay made gold”-
How would you treat such possibilities?
Would not you, prompt, investigate the case
With cow-ħide ?“Lies, lies, lies, you'd shout: and
Which of the stories might not prove mere truth?
This last, perhaps, that clay was turned to coin!
Let's see, now, give him me to speak for him!
How many of your rare philosophers,
In plaguy books I've had to dip into,
Believed gold could be made thus, saw it made
And made it? Oh, with such philosophers
You're on your best behaviour! While the lad-
With him, in a trice, you settle likelihoods,
Nor doubt a moment how he got his prize:
In his case, you hear, judge and execute,
All in a breath: so would most men of sense.
But let the same lad hear you talk as grand
At the same keyhole, you and company,
Of signs and wonders, the invisible world;
How wisdom scouts our vulgar unbelief
More than our vulgarest credulity;
How good men have desired to see a ghost,
What Johnson used to say, what Wesley did,
Mother Goose thought, and fiddle-diddle-dee:-
If he break in with, "Sir, I saw a ghost!"
Ah, the ways change! He finds you perched and prim
It's a conceit of yours that ghosts may be:
There's no talk now of cow-hide. “Tell it out!
“Don't fear us! Take your time and recollect!
“Sit down first: try a glass of wine, my boy!
“And, David, (is not that your Christian name?)
“Of all things, should this happen twice-it may-
“Be sure, while fresh in mind, you let us know!"
Does the boy blunder, blurt out this, blab that,
Break down in the other, as beginners will?
All's candour, all's considerateness—“No haste!
“Pause and collect yourself! We understand!
“That's the bad memory, or the natural shock,
“Or the unexplained phenomena!”
Egad, The boy takes heart of grace; finds, never fear, The readiest way to ope your own heart wide, Show-what I call your peacock-perch, pet post VOL. II.
To strut, and spread the tail, and squawk upon! “Just as you thought, much as you might expect! “There be more things in heaven and earth, Horatio," And so on. Shall not David take the hint, Grow bolder, stroke you down at quickened rate? If he ruffle a feather, it's “ Gently, patiently! “Manifestations are so weak at first! "Doubting, moreover, kills them, cuts all short, “Cures with a vengeance!"
There, sir, that's your style!
You and your boy-such pains bestowed on him,
Or any headpiece of the average worth,
To teach, say, Greek, would perfect him apace,
Make him a Person (“ Porson?" thank you, sir!)
Much more, proficient in the art of lies.
You never leave the lesson! Fire alight,
Catch you permitting it to die ! You've friends;
There's no withholding knowledge,-least from those
Apt to look elsewhere for their souls' supply:
Why should not you parade your lawful prize?
Who finds a picture, digs a medal up,
Hits on a first edition - he henceforth
Gives it his name, grows notable: how much more,
Who ferrets out a ”medium”? “ David's yours,
“You highly-favoured man? Then, pity souls
“Less privileged! Allow us share your luck!"
So, David holds the circle, rules the roast,
Narrates the vision, peeps in the glass ball,
Sets-to the spirit-writing, hears the raps,
As the case may be.
Now mark! To be precise-
Though I say, “lies" all these, at this first stage,
'Tis just for science' sake: I call such grubs
By the name of what they'll turn to, dragonflies.
Strictly, it's what good people style untruth;
But yet, so far, not quite the full-grown thing:
It's fancying, fable-making, nonsense-work-
What never meant to be so very bad-
The knack of story-telling, brightening up
Each dull old bit of fact that drops its shine.
One does see somewhat when one shuts one's eyes,
If only spots and streaks; tables do tip
In the oddest way of themselves: and pens, good Lord,
Who knows if you drive them or they drive you?
'Tis but a foot in the water and out again;
Not that duck-under which decides your dive.
Note this, for it's important: listen why.
I'll prove, you push on David till he dives
And ends the shivering. Here's your circle, now:
Two-thirds of them, with heads like you their host,
Turn up their eyes, and cry, as you expect,
“Lord, who'd have thought it !" But there's always
one Looks wise, compassionately smiles, submits “Of your veracity no kind of doubt, “But-do you feel so certain of that boy's? “Really, I wonder ! I confess myself “More chary of my faith!” That's galling, sir! What, he the investigator, he the sage, When all's done? Then, you just have shut your eyes, Opened your mouth, and gulped down David whole, You! Terrible were such catastrophe! So, evidence is redoubled, doubled again, And doubled besides; once more, “He heard, we
heard, “You and they heard, your mother and your wife, “Your children and the stranger in your gates: “Did they or did they not?” So much for him, The black sheep, guest without the wedding-garb, The doubting Thomas ! Now's your turn to crow: “He's kind to think you such a fool: Sludge cheats? “Leave you alone to take precautions!"
Straight The rest join chorus. Thomas stands abashed, Sips silent some such beverage as this,