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Considers if it be harder, shutting eyes
You hold, if there's one half or a hundredth part Of a lie, that's his fault,-his be the penalty! I dare say! You'd prove firmer in his place? You'd find the courage,—that first flurry over, That mild bit of romancing-work at end, To interpose with “It gets serious, this; “Must stop here. Sir, I saw no ghost at all. “Inform your friends I made ... well, fools of them, “And found you ready-made. I've lived in clover “These three weeks: take it out in kicks of me!" I doubt it. Ask your conscience! Let me know, Twelve months hence, with how few embellishments You've told almighty Boston of this passage Of arms between us, your first taste o' the foil
From Sludge who could not fence, sir!Sludge,your boy!
thought! “And any voice? Not yet? Try hard, next time, “If you can't hear a voice; we think you may: “At least, the Pennsylvanian 'mediums' did.” Oh, next time comes the voice!“ Just as we hoped!" Are not the hopers proud now, pleased, profuse O'the natural acknowledgment?
Of course! So, off we push, illy-oh-yo, trim the boat, On we sweep with a cataract ahead, We're midway to the Horseshoe: stop, who can, The dance of bubbles gay about our prow! Experiences become worth waiting for, Spirits now speak up, tell their inmost mind, And compliment the "medium" properly, Concern themselves about his Sunday coat, See rings on his hand with pleasure. Ask yourself How you'd receive a course of treats like these! Why, take the quickest hack and stall him up, Cram him with corn a month, then out with him Among his mates on a bright April morn,
With the turf to tread; see if you find or no A caper in him, if he bucks or bolts! Much more a youth whose fancies sprout as rank As toadstool-clump from melon-bed." 'Tis soon, “Sirrah, you spirit, come, go, fetch and carry, “Read, write, rap, rub-a-dub, and hang yourself!" I'm spared all further trouble; all's arranged; Your circle does my business; I may rave Like an epileptic dervish in the books, Foam, fling myself flat, rend my clothes to shreds , No matter : lovers, friends and countrymen Will lay down spiritual laws, read wrong things right By the rule o' reverse. If Francis Verulam Styles himself Bacon, spells the name beside With a y and a k, says he drew breath in York, Gave up the ghost in Wales when Cromwell reigned, (As, sir, we somewhat fear he was apt to say, Before I found the useful book that knows) Why, what harm's done? The circle smiles apace, “It was not Bacon, after all, you see! “We understand; the trick's but natural: “Such spirits' individuality “Is hard to put in evidence: they incline “To gibe and jeer, these undeveloped sorts. “You see, their world's much like a jail broke loose, “While this of ours remains shut, bolted, barred, “With a single window to it. Sludge, our friend, “Serves as this window, whether thin or thick, “Or stained or stainless; he's the medium-pane “Through which, to see us and be seen, they peep: “They crowd each other, hustle for a chance, “Tread on their neighbour's kibes, play tricks enough! “Does Bacon, tired of waiting, swerve aside? “Up in his place jumps Barnum-'I'm your man, “I'll answer for you Bacon!' Try once more!" Or else it's—“What's a 'medium'? He's a means, “Good, bad, indifferent, still the only means “Spirits can speak by; he may misconceive,
“Stutter and stammer, he's their Sludge and drudge, “Take him or leave him; they must hold their peace, “Or else, put up with having knowledge strained “To half-expression through his ignorance. “Suppose, the spirit Beethoven wants to shed “New music he's brimful of; why, he turns “The handle of this organ, grinds with Sludge, “And what he poured in at the mouth o' the mill “ As a Thirty-third Sonata, (fancy now! “Comes from the hopper as bran-new Sludge, nought
else, “The Shakers' Hymn in G, with a natural F, “Or the Stars and Stripes' set to consecutive fourths.' Sir, where's the scrape you did not help me through, You that are wise ? And for the fools, the folk Who came to see,—the guests, (observe that word!) Pray do you find guests criticize your wine, Your furniture, your grammar, or your nose ? Then, why your "medium"? What's the difference? Prove your madeira red-ink and gamboge,Your Sludge, a cheat-then, somebody's a goose For vaunting both as genuine. “Guests !" Don't fear! They'll make a wry face, nor too much of that, And leave you in your glory.
“No, sometimes “They doubt and say as much!"'Ay, doubt they do! And what 's the consequence? “Of course they
doubt"(You triumph) “that explains the hitch at once! “ Doubt posed our 'medium,' puddled his pure mind; “He gave them back their rubbish: pitch chaff in, “Could flour come out o'the honest mill?” So, prompt Applaud the faithful: cases flock in point, “How, when a mocker willed a 'medium' once “ Should name a spirit James whose name was George, “James'cried the medium,'—'twas the test of truth!" In short, a hit proves much, a miss proves more. Does this convince? The better: does it fail?
Time for the double-shotted broadside, thenThe grand means, last resource. Look black and big! “You style us idiots, therefore-why stop short? “Accomplices in rascality: this we hear “In our own house, from our invited guest “Found brave enough to outrage a poor boy “Exposed by our good faith! Have you been heard? “Now, then, hear us; one man 's not quite worth
twelve. “You see a cheat? Here's some twelve see an ass: “Excuse me if I calculate: good day!" Out slinks the sceptic, all the laughs explode. Sludge waves his hat in triumph!"
Or—he don't. There's something in real truth (explain who can!) One casts a wistful eye at, like the horse Who mopes beneath stuffed hay-racks and won't
munch Because he spies a corn-bag: hang that truth, It spoils all dainties proffered in its place! I've felt at times when, cockered, cosseted And coddled by the aforesaid company, Bidden enjoy their bullying,-never fear, But o'er their shoulders spit at the flying man,I've felt a child; only, a fractious child That, dandled soft by nurse, aunt, grandmother, Who keep him from the kennel, sun and wind, Good fun and wholesome mud,-enjoined be sweet, And comely and superior,-eyes askance The ragged sons o' the gutter at their game, Fain would be down with them i' the thick o' the filth, Making dirt-pies, laughing free, speaking plain, And calling granny the grey old cat she is. I've felt a spite, I say, at you, at them, Huggings and humbug-gnashed my teeth to mark A decent dog pass! It's too bad, I say, Ruining a soul so!