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The Complete Poetical Works of James Russell Lowell by James Lowell

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Crowned the Maker and Builder, that glory is thine!
Thy songs are right epic, they tell how this rude
Rock-rib of our earth here was tamed and subdued;
Thou hast written them plain on the face of the planet
In brave, deathless letters of iron and granite; 1520
Thou hast printed them deep for all time; they are set
From the same runic type-fount and alphabet
With thy stout Berkshire hills and the arms of thy Bay,--
They are staves from the burly old Mayflower lay.
If the drones of the Old World, in querulous ease,
Ask thy Art and thy Letters, point proudly to these,
Or, if they deny these are Letters and Art,
Toil on with the same old invincible heart;
Thou art rearing the pedestal broad-based and grand
Whereon the fair shapes of the Artist shall stand, 1530
And creating, through labors undaunted and long,
The theme for all Sculpture and Painting and Song!

'But my good mother Baystate wants no praise of mine,
She learned from _her_ mother a precept divine
About something that butters no parsnips, her _forte_
In another direction lies, work is her sport
(Though she'll curtsey and set her cap straight, that she will,
If you talk about Plymouth and red Bunker's hill).
Dear, notable goodwife! by this time of night,
Her hearth is swept neatly, her fire burning bright, 1540
And she sits in a chair (of home plan and make) rocking,
Musing much, all the while, as she darns on a stocking,
Whether turkeys will come pretty high next Thanksgiving,
Whether flour'll be so dear, for, as sure as she's living,
She will use rye-and-injun then, whether the pig
By this time ain't got pretty tolerable big,
And whether to sell it outright will be best,
Or to smoke hams and shoulders and salt down the rest,--
At this minute, she'd swop all my verses, ah, cruel!
For the last patent stove that is saving of fuel; 1550
So I'll just let Apollo go on, for his phiz
Shows I've kept him awaiting too long as it is.'

'If our friend, there, who seems a reporter, is done
With his burst of emotion, why, I will go on,'
Said Apollo; some smiled, and, indeed, I must own
There was something sarcastic, perhaps, in his tone;--

'There's Holmes, who is matchless among you for wit;
A Leyden-jar always full-charged, from which flit
The electrical tingles of hit after hit;
In long poems 'tis painful sometimes, and invites 1560
A thought of the way the new Telegraph writes,
Which pricks down its little sharp sentences spitefully
As if you got more than you'd title to rightfully,
And you find yourself hoping its wild father Lightning
Would flame in for a second and give you a fright'ning.
He has perfect sway of what I call a sham metre,
But many admire it, the English pentameter,
And Campbell, I think, wrote most commonly worse,
With less nerve, swing, and fire in the same kind of verse,
Nor e'er achieved aught in't so worthy of praise 1570
As the tribute of Holmes to the grand _Marseillaise_.
You went crazy last year over Bulwer's New Timon;--
Why, if B., to the day of his dying, should rhyme on,
Heaping verses on verses and tomes upon tomes,
He could ne'er reach the best point and vigor of Holmes.
His are just the fine hands, too, to weave you a lyric
Full of fancy, fun, feeling, or spiced with satiric
In a measure so kindly, you doubt if the toes
That are trodden upon are your own or your foes'.

'There is Lowell, who's striving Parnassus to climb 1580
With a whole bale of _isms_ tied together with rhyme,
He might get on alone, spite of brambles and boulders,
But he can't with that bundle he has on his shoulders,
The top of the hill he will ne'er come nigh reaching
Till he learns the distinction 'twixt singing and preaching;
His lyre has some chords that would ring pretty well,
But he'd rather by half make a drum of the shell,
And rattle away till he's old as Methusalem,
At the head of a march to the last new Jerusalem. 1589

'There goes Halleck, whose Fanny's a pseudo Don Juan,
With the wickedness out that gave salt to the true one,
He's a wit, though, I hear, of the very first order,
And once made a pun on the words soft Recorder;
More than this, he's a very great poet, I'm told,
And has had his works published in crimson and gold,
With something they call "Illustrations," to wit,
Like those with which Chapman obscured Holy Writ,[4]
Which are said to illustrate, because, as I view it,
Like _lucus a non_, they precisely don't do it;
Let a man who can write what himself understands 1600
Keep clear, if he can, of designing men's hands,
Who bury the sense, if there's any worth having,
And then very honestly call it engraving,
But, to quit _badinage_, which there isn't much wit in,
Halleck's better, I doubt not, than all he has written;
In his verse a clear glimpse you will frequently find,
If not of a great, of a fortunate mind,
Which contrives to be true to its natural loves
In a world of back-offices, ledgers, and stoves.
When his heart breaks away from the brokers and banks, 1610
And kneels in his own private shrine to give thanks,
There's a genial manliness in him that earns
Our sincerest respect (read, for instance, his "Burns"),
And we can't but regret (seek excuse where we may)
That so much of a man has been peddled away.

'But what's that? a mass-meeting? No, there come in lots
The American Bulwers, Disraelis, and Scotts,
And in short the American everything elses,
Each charging the others with envies and jealousies;--
By the way, 'tis a fact that displays what profusions 1620
Of all kinds of greatness bless free institutions,
That while the Old World has produced barely eight
Of such poets as all men agree to call great,
And of other great characters hardly a score
(One might safely say less than that rather than more),
With you every year a whole crop is begotten,
They're as much of a staple as corn is, or cotton;
Why, there's scarcely a huddle of log-huts and shanties
That has not brought forth its own Miltons and Dantes; 1629
I myself know ten Byrons, one Coleridge, three Shelleys,
Two Raphaels, six Titians (I think), one Apelles,
Leonardos and Rubenses plenty as lichens,
One (but that one is plenty) American Dickens,
A whole flock of Lambs, any number of Tennysons,--
In short, if a man has the luck to have any sons,
He may feel pretty certain that one out of twain
Will be some very great person over again.
There is one inconvenience in all this, which lies
In the fact that by contrast we estimate size,[5]
And, where there are none except Titans, great stature 1640
Is only the normal proceeding of nature.
What puff the strained sails of your praise will you furl at, if
The calmest degree that you know is superlative?
At Rome, all whom Charon took into his wherry must,
As a matter of course, be well _issimust_ and _errimust_,
A Greek, too, could feel, while in that famous boat he tost,
That his friends would take care he was [Greek: istost] and
[Greek: otatost],
And formerly we, as through graveyards we past,
Thought the world went from bad to worst fearfully fast;
Let us glance for a moment, 'tis well worth the pains, 1650
And note what an average graveyard contains;
There lie levellers levelled, duns done up themselves,
There are booksellers finally laid on their shelves,
Horizontally there lie upright politicians,
Dose-a-dose with their patients sleep faultless physicians,
There are slave-drivers quietly whipped under ground,
There bookbinders, done up in boards, are fast bound,
There card-players wait till the last trump be played,
There all the choice spirits get finally laid,
There the babe that's unborn is supplied with a berth, 1660
There men without legs get their six feet of earth,
There lawyers repose, each wrapped up in his case,
There seekers of office are sure of a place,
There defendant and plaintiff get equally cast,
There shoemakers quietly stick to the last,
There brokers at length become silent as stocks,
There stage-drivers sleep without quitting their box,
And so forth and so forth and so forth and so on,
With this kind of stuff one might endlessly go on;
To come to the point, I may safely assert you 1670
Will find in each yard every cardinal virtue;[6]
Each has six truest patriots: four discoverers of ether,
Who never had thought on 't nor mentioned it either;
Ten poets, the greatest who ever wrote rhyme:
Two hundred and forty first men of their time:
One person whose portrait just gave the least hint
Its original had a most horrible squint:
One critic, most (what do they call it?) reflective,
Who never had used the phrase ob-or subjective:
Forty fathers of Freedom, of whom twenty bred 1680
Their sons for the rice-swamps, at so much a head,
And their daughters for--faugh! thirty mothers of Gracchi:
Non-resistants who gave many a spiritual blackeye:
Eight true friends of their kind, one of whom was a jailer:
Four captains almost as astounding as Taylor:
Two dozen of Italy's exiles who shoot us his
Kaisership daily, stern pen-and-ink Brutuses,
Who, in Yankee back-parlors, with crucified smile,[7]
Mount serenely their country's funereal pile:
Ninety-nine Irish heroes, ferocious rebellers 1690
'Gainst the Saxon in cis-marine garrets and cellars,
Who shake their dread fists o'er the sea and all that,--
As long as a copper drops into the hat:
Nine hundred Teutonic republicans stark
From Vaterland's battle just won--in the Park,
Who the happy profession of martyrdom take
Whenever it gives them a chance at a steak;
Sixty-two second Washingtons: two or three Jacksons:
And so many everythings else that it racks one's
Poor memory too much to continue the list, 1700
Especially now they no longer exist;--
I would merely observe that you've taken to giving
The puffs that belong to the dead to the living,
And that somehow your trump-of-contemporary-doom's tones
Is tuned after old dedications and tombstones.'

Here the critic came in and a thistle presented--[8]
From a frown to a smile the god's features relented,
As he stared at his envoy, who, swelling with pride,
To the god's asking look, nothing daunted, replied,--
'You're surprised, I suppose, I was absent so long, 1710
But your godship respecting the lilies was wrong;
I hunted the garden from one end to t'other,
And got no reward but vexation and bother,
Till, tossed out with weeds in a corner to wither,
This one lily I found and made haste to bring hither.'

'Did he think I had given him a book to review?
I ought to have known what the fellow would do,'
Muttered Phoebus aside, 'for a thistle will pass
Beyond doubt for the queen of all flowers with an ass;
He has chosen in just the same way as he'd choose 1720
His specimens out of the books he reviews;
And now, as this offers an excellent text,
I'll give 'em some brief hints on criticism next.'
So, musing a moment, he turned to the crowd,
And, clearing his voice, spoke as follows aloud:--

'My friends, in the happier days of the muse,
We were luckily free from such things as reviews;
Then naught came between with its fog to make clearer
The heart of the poet to that of his hearer;
Then the poet brought heaven to the people, and they 1730
Felt that they, too, were poets in hearing his lay;
Then the poet was prophet, the past in his soul
Precreated the future, both parts of one whole;
Then for him there was nothing too great or too small,
For one natural deity sanctified all;
Then the bard owned no clipper and meter of moods
Save the spirit of silence that hovers and broods
O'er the seas and the mountains, the rivers and woods;
He asked not earth's verdict, forgetting the clods,
His soul soared and sang to an audience of gods; 1740
'Twas for them that he measured the thought and the line,
And shaped for their vision the perfect design,
With as glorious a foresight, a balance as true,
As swung out the worlds in the infinite blue;
Then a glory and greatness invested man's heart,
The universal, which now stands estranged and apart,
In the free individual moulded, was Art;
Then the forms of the Artist seemed thrilled with desire
For something as yet unattained, fuller, higher,
As once with her lips, lifted hands, and eyes listening, 1750
And her whole upward soul in her countenance glistening,
Eurydice stood--like a beacon unfired,
Which, once touched with flame, will leap heav'nward inspired--
And waited with answering kindle to mark
The first gleam of Orpheus that pained the red Dark.
Then painting, song, sculpture did more than relieve
The need that men feel to create and believe,
And as, in all beauty, who listens with love
Hears these words oft repeated--"beyond and above,"
So these seemed to be but the visible sign 1760
Of the grasp of the soul after things more divine;
They were ladders the Artist erected to climb
O'er the narrow horizon of space and of time,
And we see there the footsteps by which men had gained
To the one rapturous glimpse of the never-attained,
As shepherds could erst sometimes trace in the sod
The last spurning print of a sky-cleaving god.

'But now, on the poet's dis-privacied moods
With _do this_ and _do that_ the pert critic intrudes;
While he thinks he's been barely fulfilling his duty 1770
To interpret 'twixt men and their own sense of beauty.
And has striven, while others sought honor or pelf,
To make his kind happy as he was himself,
He finds he's been guilty of horrid offences
In all kinds of moods, numbers, genders, and tenses;
He's been _ob_ and _sub_jective, what Kettle calls Pot,
Precisely, at all events, what he ought not,
_You have done this,_ says one judge; _done that,_ says another;
_You should have done this,_ grumbles one; _that,_ says t'other;
Never mind what he touches, one shrieks out _Taboo!_ 1780
And while he is wondering what he shall do,
Since each suggests opposite topics for song,
They all shout together _you're right!_ and _you're wrong!_

'Nature fits all her children with something to do,
He who would write and can't write can surely review,
Can set up a small booth as critic and sell us his
Petty conceit and his pettier jealousies;
Thus a lawyer's apprentice, just out of his teens,
Will do for the Jeffrey of six magazines;
Having read Johnson's lives of the poets half through, 1790
There's nothing on earth he's not competent to;
He reviews with as much nonchalance as he whistles,--
He goes through a book and just picks out the thistles;
It matters not whether he blame or commend,
If he's bad as a foe, he's far worse as a friend:
Let an author but write what's above his poor scope,
He goes to work gravely and twists up a rope,
And, inviting the world to see punishment done,
Hangs himself up to bleach in the wind and the sun;
'Tis delightful to see, when a man comes along 1800
Who has anything in him peculiar and strong,
Every cockboat that swims clear its fierce (pop) gundeck at him,
And make as he passes its ludicrous Peck at him--'

Here Miranda came up and began, 'As to that--'
Apollo at once seized his gloves, cane, and hat,
And, seeing the place getting rapidly cleared,
I too snatched my notes and forthwith disappeared.




My worthy friend, A. Gordon Knott,
From business snug withdrawn,
Was much contented with a lot
That would contain a Tudor cot
'Twixt twelve feet square of garden-plot,
And twelve feet more of lawn.

He had laid business on the shelf
To give his taste expansion,
And, since no man, retired with pelf,
The building mania can shun, 10
Knott, being middle-aged himself,
Resolved to build (unhappy elf!)
A mediaeval mansion.

He called an architect in counsel;
'I want,' said he, 'a--you know what,
(You are a builder, I am Knott)
A thing complete from chimney-pot
Down to the very grounsel;
Here's a half-acre of good land;
Just have it nicely mapped and planned 20
And make your workmen drive on;
Meadow there is, and upland too,
And I should like a water-view,
D'you think you could contrive one?
(Perhaps the pump and trough would do,
If painted a judicious blue?)
The woodland I've attended to;'
[He meant three pines stuck up askew,
Two dead ones and a live one.]
'A pocket-full of rocks 'twould take 30
To build a house of freestone,
But then it is not hard to make
What nowadays is _the_ stone;
The cunning painter in a trice
Your house's outside petrifies,
And people think it very gneiss
Without inquiring deeper;
_My_ money never shall be thrown
Away on such a deal of stone,
When stone of deal is cheaper.' 40

And so the greenest of antiques
Was reared for Knott to dwell in:
The architect worked hard for weeks
In venting all his private peaks
Upon the roof, whose crop of leaks
Had satisfied Fluellen;
Whatever anybody had
Out of the common, good or bad,
Knott had it all worked well in;
A donjon-keep, where clothes might dry, 50
A porter's lodge that was a sty,
A campanile slim and high,
Too small to hang a bell in;
All up and down and here and there,
With Lord-knows-whats of round and square
Stuck on at random everywhere,--
It was a house to make one stare,
All corners and all gables;
Like dogs let loose upon a bear,
Ten emulous styles _staboyed_ with care, 60
The whole among them seemed to tear,
And all the oddities to spare
Were set upon the stables.

Knott was delighted with a pile
Approved by fashion's leaders:
(Only he made the builder smile,
By asking every little while,
Why that was called the Twodoor style,
Which certainly had _three_ doors?)
Yet better for this luckless man 70
If he had put a downright ban
Upon the thing _in limine;_
For, though to quit affairs his plan,
Ere many days, poor Knott began
Perforce accepting draughts, that ran
All ways--except up chimney;
The house, though painted stone to mock,
With nice white lines round every block,
Some trepidation stood in,
When tempests (with petrific shock, 80
So to speak,) made it really rock,
Though not a whit less wooden;
And painted stone, howe'er well done,
Will not take in the prodigal sun
Whose beams are never quite at one
With our terrestrial lumber;
So the wood shrank around the knots,
And gaped in disconcerting spots,
And there were lots of dots and rots
And crannies without number, 90
Wherethrough, as you may well presume,
The wind, like water through a flume,
Came rushing in ecstatic,
Leaving, in all three floors, no room
That was not a rheumatic;
And, what with points and squares and rounds
Grown shaky on their poises,
The house at nights was full of pounds,
Thumps, bumps, creaks, scratchings, raps--till--'Zounds!'
Cried Knott, 'this goes beyond all bounds; 100
I do not deal in tongues and sounds,
Nor have I let my house and grounds
To a family of Noyeses!'

But, though Knott's house was full of airs,
_He_ had but one,--a daughter;
And, as he owned much stocks and shares,
Many who wished to render theirs
Such vain, unsatisfying cares,
And needed wives to sew their tears,
In matrimony sought her; 110
They vowed her gold they wanted not,
Their faith would never falter,
They longed to tie this single Knott
In the Hymeneal halter;
So daily at the door they rang,
Cards for the belle delivering,
Or in the choir at her they sang,
Achieving such a rapturous twang
As set her nerves ashivering.

Now Knott had quite made up his mind 120
That Colonel Jones should have her;
No beauty he, but oft we find
Sweet kernels 'neath a roughish rind,
So hoped his Jenny'd be resigned
And make no more palaver;
Glanced at the fact that love was blind,
That girls were ratherish inclined
To pet their little crosses,
Then nosologically defined
The rate at which the system pined 130
In those unfortunates who dined
Upon that metaphoric kind
Of dish--their own proboscis.

But she, with many tears and moans,
Besought him not to mock her.
Said 'twas too much for flesh and bones
To marry mortgages and loans,
That fathers' hearts were stocks and stones.
And that she'd go, when Mrs. Jones,
To Davy Jones's locker; 140
Then gave her head a little toss
That said as plain as ever was,
If men are always at a loss
Mere womankind to bridle--
To try the thing on woman cross
Were fifty times as idle;
For she a strict resolve had made
And registered in private,
That either she would die a maid,
Or else be Mrs. Doctor Slade, 150
If a woman could contrive it;
And, though the wedding-day was set,
Jenny was more so, rather,
Declaring, in a pretty pet,
That, howsoe'er they spread their net,
She would out-Jennyral them yet,
The colonel and her father.

Just at this time the Public's eyes
Were keenly on the watch, a stir
Beginning slowly to arise 160
About those questions and replies.
Those raps that unwrapped mysteries
So rapidly at Rochester,
And Knott, already nervous grown
By lying much awake alone.
And listening, sometimes to a moan,
And sometimes to a clatter,
Whene'er the wind at night would rouse
The gingerbread-work on his house,
Or when some, hasty-tempered mouse, 170
Behind the plastering, made a towse
About a family matter,
Began to wonder if his wife,
A paralytic half her life.
Which made it more surprising,
Might not, to rule him from her urn,
Have taken a peripatetic turn
For want of exorcising.

This thought, once nestled in his head,
Erelong contagious grew, and spread 180
Infecting all his mind with dread,
Until at last he lay in bed
And heard his wife, with well-known tread,
Entering the kitchen through the shed,
(Or was't his fancy, mocking?)
Opening the pantry, cutting bread,
And then (she'd been some ten years dead)
Closets and drawers unlocking;
Or, in his room (his breath grew thick) 189
He heard the long-familiar click
Of slender needles flying quick,
As if she knit a stocking;
For whom?--he prayed that years might flit
With pains rheumatic shooting,
Before those ghostly things she knit
Upon his unfleshed sole might fit,
He did not fancy it a bit,
To stand upon that footing:
At other times, his frightened hairs 199
Above the bedclothes trusting,
He heard her, full of household cares,
(No dream entrapped in supper's snares,
The foal of horrible nightmares,
But broad awake, as he declares),
Go bustling up and down the stairs,
Or setting back last evening's chairs,
Or with the poker thrusting
The raked-up sea-coal's hardened crust--
And--what! impossible! it must!
He knew she had returned to dust, 210
And yet could scarce his senses trust,
Hearing her as she poked and fussed
About the parlor, dusting!

Night after night he strove to sleep
And take his ease in spite of it;
But still his flesh would chill and creep,
And, though two night-lamps he might keep,
He could not so make light of it.
At last, quite desperate, he goes
And tells his neighbors all his woes, 220
Which did but their amount enhance;
They made such mockery of his fears
That soon his days were of all jeers.
His nights of the rueful countenance;
'I thought most folks,' one neighbor said,
'Gave up the ghost when they were dead?'
Another gravely shook his head,
Adding, 'From all we hear, it's
Quite plain poor Knott is going mad--
For how can he at once be sad 230
And think he's full of spirits?'
A third declared he knew a knife
Would cut this Knott much quicker,
'The surest way to end all strife,
And lay the spirit of a wife,
Is just to take and lick her!'
A temperance man caught up the word,
'Ah yes,' he groaned, 'I've always heard
Our poor friend somewhat slanted 239
Tow'rd taking liquor overmuch;
I fear these spirits may be Dutch,
(A sort of gins, or something such,)
With which his house is haunted;
I see the thing as clear as light,--
If Knott would give up getting tight,
Naught farther would be wanted:'
So all his neighbors stood aloof
And, that the spirits 'neath his roof
Were not entirely up to proof,
Unanimously granted. 250

Knott knew that cocks and sprites were foes,
And so bought up, Heaven only knows
How many, for he wanted crows
To give ghosts caws, as I suppose,
To think that day was breaking;
Moreover what he called his park,
He turned into a kind of ark
For dogs, because a little bark
Is a good tonic in the dark,
If one is given to waking; 260
But things went on from bad to worse,
His curs were nothing but a curse,
And, what was still more shocking,
Foul ghosts of living fowl made scoff
And would not think of going off
In spite of all his cocking.

Shanghais, Bucks-counties, Dominiques,
Malays (that didn't lay for weeks),
Polanders, Bantams, Dorkings,
(Waiving the cost, no trifling ill,
Since each brought in his little bill,) 271
By day or night were never still,
But every thought of rest would kill
With cacklings and with quorkings;
Henry the Eighth of wives got free
By a way he had of axing;
But poor Knott's Tudor henery
Was not so fortunate, and he
Still found his trouble waxing;
As for the dogs, the rows they made, 280
And how they howled, snarled, barked and bayed,
Beyond all human knowledge is;
All night, as wide awake as gnats,
The terriers rumpused after rats,
Or, just for practice, taught their brats
To worry cast-off shoes and hats,
The bull-dogs settled private spats,
All chased imaginary cats,
Or raved behind the fence's slats
At real ones, or, from their mats,
With friends, miles off, held pleasant chats, 291
Or, like some folks in white cravats,
Contemptuous of sharps and flats,
Sat up and sang dogsologies.
Meanwhile the cats set up a squall,
And, safe upon the garden-wall,
All night kept cat-a-walling,
As if the feline race were all.
In one wild cataleptic sprawl,
Into love's tortures falling. 300



At first the ghosts were somewhat shy,
Coming when none but Knott was nigh,
And people said 'twas all their eye,
(Or rather his) a flam, the sly
Digestion's machination:
Some recommended a wet sheet,
Some a nice broth of pounded peat,
Some a cold flat-iron to the feet,
Some a decoction of lamb's-bleat,
Some a southwesterly grain of wheat; 310
Meat was by some pronounced unmeet,
Others thought fish most indiscreet,
And that 'twas worse than all to eat
Of vegetables, sour or sweet,
(Except, perhaps, the skin of beet,)
In such a concatenation:
One quack his button gently plucks
And murmurs, 'Biliary ducks!'
Says Knott, 'I never ate one;'
But all, though brimming full of wrath, 320
Homoeo, Allo, Hydropath,
Concurred in this--that t'other's path
To death's door was the straight one.
Still, spite of medical advice,
The ghosts came thicker, and a spice
Of mischief grew apparent;
Nor did they only come at night,
But seemed to fancy broad daylight,
Till Knott, in horror and affright,
His unoffending hair rent; 330
Whene'er with handkerchief on lap,
He made his elbow-chair a trap,
To catch an after-dinner nap,
The spirits, always on the tap,
Would make a sudden _rap, rap, rap,_
The half-spun cord of sleep to snap,
(And what is life without its nap
But threadbareness and mere mishap?) 338
As 'twere with a percussion cap
The trouble's climax capping;
It seemed a party dried and grim
Of mummies had come to visit him,
Each getting off from every limb
Its multitudinous wrapping;
Scratchings sometimes the walls ran round,
The merest penny-weights of sound;
Sometimes 'twas only by the pound
They carried on their dealing,
A thumping 'neath the parlor floor,
Thump-bump-thump-bumping o'er and o'er, 350
As if the vegetables in store
(Quiet and orderly before)
Were all together peeling;
You would have thought the thing was done
By the spirit of some son of a gun,
And that a forty-two-pounder,
Or that the ghost which made such sounds
Could be none other than John Pounds,
Of Ragged Schools the founder.
Through three gradations of affright, 360
The awful noises reached their height;
At first they knocked nocturnally,
Then, for some reason, changing quite,
(As mourners, after six months' flight,
Turn suddenly from dark to light,)
Began to knock diurnally,
And last, combining all their stocks,
(Scotland was ne'er so full of Knox,)
Into one Chaos (father of Nox,)
_Nocte pluit_--they showered knocks, 370
And knocked, knocked, knocked, eternally;
Ever upon the go, like buoys,
(Wooden sea-urchins,) all Knott's joys,
They turned to troubles and a noise
That preyed on him internally.

Soon they grew wider in their scope;
Whenever Knott a door would ope,
It would ope not, or else elope
And fly back (curbless as a trope
Once started down a stanza's slope 380
By a bard that gave it too much rope--)
Like a clap of thunder slamming:
And, when kind Jenny brought his hat,
(She always, when he walked, did that,)
Just as upon his heart it sat,
Submitting to his settling pat,
Some unseen hand would jam it flat,
Or give it such a furious bat
That eyes and nose went cramming
Up out of sight, and consequently, 390
As when in life it paddled free,
His beaver caused much damning;
If these things seem o'erstrained to be,
Read the account of Doctor Dee,
'Tis in our college library:
Read Wesley's circumstantial plea,
And Mrs. Crowe, more like a bee,
Sucking the nightshade's honeyed fee,
And Stilling's Pneumatology;
Consult Scot, Glanvil, grave Wie- 400
rus and both Mathers; further see,
Webster, Casaubon, James First's trea-
tise, a right royal Q.E.D.
Writ with the moon in perigee,
Bodin de la Demonomanie--
(Accent that last line gingerly)
All full of learning as the sea
Of fishes, and all disagree,
Save in _Sathanas apage!_
Or, what will surely put a flea 410
In unbelieving ears--with glee,
Out of a paper (sent to me
By some friend who forgot to P ...
A ... Y ...--I use cryptography
Lest I his vengeful pen should dree--
His P ...O ...S ...T ...A ...G ...E ...)
Things to the same effect I cut,
About the tantrums of a ghost,
Not more than three weeks since, at most,
Near Stratford, in Connecticut. 420
Knott's Upas daily spread its roots,
Sent up on all sides livelier shoots,
And bore more pestilential fruits;
The ghosts behaved like downright brutes,
They snipped holes in his Sunday suits,
Practised all night on octave flutes,
Put peas (not peace) into his boots,
Whereof grew corns in season,
They scotched his sheets, and, what was worse,
Stuck his silk nightcap full of burrs, 430
Till he, in language plain and terse,
(But much unlike a Bible verse,)
Swore he should lose his reason.

The tables took to spinning, too,
Perpetual yarns, and arm-chairs grew
To prophets and apostles;
One footstool vowed that only he
Of law and gospel held the key,
That teachers of whate'er degree
To whom opinion bows the knee 440
Weren't fit to teach Truth's _a b c_,
And were (the whole lot) to a T
Mere fogies all and fossils;
A teapoy, late the property
Of Knox's Aunt Keziah,
(Whom Jenny most irreverently
Had nicknamed her aunt-tipathy)
With tips emphatic claimed to be
The prophet Jeremiah;
The tins upon the kitchen-wall, 450
Turned tintinnabulators all,
And things that used to come to call
For simple household services
Began to hop and whirl and prance,
Fit to put out of countenance
The _Commis_ and _Grisettes_ of France
Or Turkey's dancing Dervises.

Of course such doings, far and wide,
With rumors filled the countryside,
And (as it is our nation's pride 460
To think a Truth not verified
Till with majorities allied)
Parties sprung up, affirmed, denied,
And candidates with questions plied,
Who, like the circus-riders, tried
At once both hobbies to bestride,
And each with his opponent vied
In being inexplicit.
Earnest inquirers multiplied;
Folks, whose tenth cousins lately died, 470
Wrote letters long, and Knott replied;
All who could either walk or ride
Gathered to wonder or deride,
And paid the house a visit;
Horses were to his pine-trees tied,
Mourners in every corner sighed,
Widows brought children there that cried.
Swarms of lean Seekers, eager-eyed,
(People Knott never could abide,)
Into each hole and cranny pried 480
With strings of questions cut and dried
From the Devout Inquirer's Guide,
For the wise spirits to decide--
As, for example, is it
True that the damned are fried or boiled?
Was the Earth's axis greased or oiled?
Who cleaned the moon when it was soiled?
How baldness might be cured or foiled?
How heal diseased potatoes?
Did spirits have the sense of smell? 490
Where would departed spinsters dwell?
If the late Zenas Smith were well?
If Earth were solid or a shell?
Were spirits fond of Doctor Fell?
_Did_ the bull toll Cock-Robin's knell?
What remedy would bugs expel?
If Paine's invention were a sell?
Did spirits by Webster's system spell?
Was it a sin to be a belle?
Did dancing sentence folks to hell? 500
If so, then where most torture fell?
On little toes or great toes?
If life's true seat were in the brain?
Did Ensign mean to marry Jane?
By whom, in fact, was Morgan slain?
Could matter ever suffer pain?
What would take out a cherry-stain?
Who picked the pocket of Seth Crane,
Of Waldo precinct, State, of Maine?
Was Sir John Franklin sought in vain? 510
Did primitive Christians ever train?
What was the family-name of Cain?
Them spoons, were they by Betty ta'en?
Would earth-worm poultice cure a sprain?
Was Socrates so dreadful plain?
What teamster guided Charles's wain?
Was Uncle Ethan mad or sane,
And could his will in force remain?
If not, what counsel to retain?
Did Le Sage steal Gil Blas from Spain? 520
Was Junius writ by Thomas Paine?
Were ducks discomforted by rain?
_How_ did Britannia rule the main?
Was Jonas coming back again?
Was vital truth upon the wane?
Did ghosts, to scare folks, drag a chain?
Who was our Huldah's chosen swain?
Did none have teeth pulled without payin',
Ere ether was invented?
Whether mankind would not agree, 530
If the universe were tuned in C?
What was it ailed Lucindy's knee?
Whether folks eat folks in Feejee?
Whether _his_ name would end with T?
If Saturn's rings were two or three,
And what bump in Phrenology
They truly represented?
These problems dark, wherein they groped,
Wherewith man's reason vainly coped,
Now that the spirit-world was oped, 540
In all humility they hoped
Would be resolved _instanter_;
Each of the miscellaneous rout
Brought his, or her, own little doubt.
And wished to pump the spirits out,
Through his or her own private spout,
Into his or her decanter.



Many a speculating wight
Came by express-trains, day and night,
To see if Knott would 'sell his right,' 550
Meaning to make the ghosts a sight--
What they call a 'meenaygerie;'
One threatened, if he would not 'trade,'
His run of custom to invade,
(He could not these sharp folks persuade
That he was not, in some way, paid,)
And stamp him as a plagiary,
By coming down, at one fell swoop,
Come recently from Hades, 560
Who (for a quarter-dollar heard)
Would ne'er rap out a hasty word
Whence any blame might be incurred
From the most fastidious ladies;
The late lamented Jesse Soule,
To stir the ghosts up with a pole
And be director of the whole,
Who was engaged the rather
For the rare merits he'd combine,
Having been in the spirit line, 570
Which trade he only did resign,
With general applause, to shine,
Awful in mail of cotton fine,
As ghost of Hamlet's father!
Another a fair plan reveals
Never yet hit on, which, he feels,
To Knott's religious sense appeals--
'We'll have your house set up on wheels,
A speculation pious;
For music, we can shortly find 580
A barrel-organ that will grind
Psalm-tunes--an instrument designed
For the New England tour--refined
From secular drosses, and inclined
To an unworldly turn, (combined
With no sectarian bias;)
Then, travelling by stages slow,
Under the style of Knott & Co.,
I would accompany the show
As moral lecturer, the foe 590
Of Rationalism; while you could throw
The rappings in, and make them go
Strict Puritan principles, you know,
(How _do_ you make 'em? with your toe?)
And the receipts which thence might flow,
We could divide between us;
Still more attractions to combine,
Beside these services of mine,
I will throw in a very fine
(It would do nicely for a sign) 600
Original Titian's Venus.'
Another offered handsome fees
If Knott would get Demosthenes
(Nay, his mere knuckles, for more ease)
To rap a few short sentences;
Or if, for want of proper keys,
His Greek might make confusion,
Then just to get a rap from Burke,
To recommend a little work
On Public Elocution. 610
Meanwhile, the spirits made replies
To all the reverent _whats_ and _whys_,
Resolving doubts of every size,
And giving seekers grave and wise,
Who came to know their destinies,
A rap-turous reception;
When unbelievers void of grace
Came to investigate the place,
(Creatures of Sadducistic race,
With grovelling intellects and base,) 620
They could not find the slightest trace
To indicate deception;
Indeed, it is declared by some
That spirits (of this sort) are glum,
Almost, or wholly, deaf and dumb,
And (out of self-respect) quite mum
To skeptic natures cold and numb
Who of _this_ kind of Kingdom Come
Have not a just conception:
True, there were people who demurred 630
That, though the raps no doubt were heard
Both under them and o'er them,
Yet, somehow, when a search they made,
They found Miss Jenny sore afraid,
Or Jenny's lover, Doctor Slade,
Equally awestruck and dismayed,
Or Deborah, the chambermaid,
Whose terrors not to be gainsaid
In laughs hysteric were displayed,
Was always there before them;
This had its due effect with some
Who straight departed, muttering, Hum! 642
Transparent hoax! and Gammon!
But these were few: believing souls,
Came, day by day, in larger shoals,
As the ancients to the windy holes
'Neath Delphi's tripod brought their doles,
Or to the shrine of Ammon.

The spirits seemed exceeding tame,
Call whom you fancied, and he came; 650
The shades august of eldest fame
You summoned with an awful ease;
As grosser spirits gurgled out
From chair and table with a spout,
In Auerbach's cellar once, to flout
The senses of the rabble rout,
Where'er the gimlet twirled about
Of cunning Mephistopheles,
So did these spirits seem in store,
Behind the wainscot or the door,
Ready to thrill the being's core
Of every enterprising bore 662
With their astounding glamour;
Whatever ghost one wished to hear,
By strange coincidence, was near
To make the past or future clear
(Sometimes in shocking grammar)
By raps and taps, now there, now here--
It seemed as if the spirit queer
Of some departed auctioneer 670
Were doomed to practise by the year
With the spirit of his hammer:
Whate'er you asked was answered, yet
One could not very deeply get
Into the obliging spirits' debt,
Because they used the alphabet
In all communications,
And new revealings (though sublime)
Rapped out, one letter at a time,
With boggles, hesitations, 680
Stoppings, beginnings o'er again,
And getting matters into train,
Could hardly overload the brain
With too excessive rations,
Since just to ask _if two and two
Really make four? or, How d' ye do_?
And get the fit replies thereto
In the tramundane rat-tat-too,
Might ask a whole day's patience.

'Twas strange ('mongst other things) to find 690
In what odd sets the ghosts combined,
Happy forthwith to thump any
Piece of intelligence inspired,
The truth whereof had been inquired
By some one of the company;
For instance, Fielding, Mirabeau,
Orator Henley, Cicero,
Paley, John Ziska, Marivaux,
Melancthon, Robertson, Junot, 699
Scaliger, Chesterfield, Rousseau,
Hakluyt, Boccaccio, South, De Foe,
Diaz, Josephus, Richard Roe,
Odin, Arminius, Charles _le gros_,
Tiresias, the late James Crow,
Casabianca, Grose, Prideaux,
Old Grimes, Young Norval, Swift, Brissot,
Malmonides, the Chevalier D'O,
Socrates, Fenelon, Job, Stow.
The inventor of _Elixir pro_,
Euripides, Spinoza, Poe, 710
Confucius, Hiram Smith, and Fo,
Came (as it seemed, somewhat _de trop_)
With a disembodied Esquimaux,
To say that it was so and so,
With Franklin's expedition;
One testified to ice and snow,
One that the mercury was low,
One that his progress was quite slow,
One that he much desired to go,
One that the cook had frozen his toe, 720
(Dissented from by Dandolo,
Wordsworth, Cynaegirus, Boileau,
La Hontan, and Sir Thomas Roe,)
One saw twelve white bears in a row,
One saw eleven and a crow,
With other things we could not know
(Of great statistic value, though,)
By our mere mortal vision.

Sometimes the spirits made mistakes,
And seemed to play at ducks and drakes. 730
With bold inquiry's heaviest stakes
In science or in mystery:
They knew so little (and that wrong)
Yet rapped it out so bold and strong,
One would have said the unnumbered throng
Had been Professors of History;
What made it odder was, that those
Who, you would naturally suppose,
Could solve a question, if they chose,
As easily as count their toes, 740
Were just the ones that blundered;
One day, Ulysses happening down,
A reader of Sir Thomas Browne
And who (with him) had wondered
What song it was the Sirens sang,
Asked the shrewd Ithacan--_bang! bang!_
With this response the chamber rang,
'I guess it was Old Hundred.'
And Franklin, being asked to name
The reason why the lightning came, 750
Replied, 'Because it thundered.'

On one sole point the ghosts agreed
One fearful point, than which, indeed,
Nothing could seem absurder;
Poor Colonel Jones they all abused
And finally downright accused
The poor old man of murder;
'Twas thus; by dreadful raps was shown
Some spirit's longing to make known
A bloody fact, which he alone 760
Was privy to, (such ghosts more prone
In Earth's affairs to meddle are;)
_Who are you?_ with awe-stricken looks,
All ask: his airy knuckles he crooks,
And raps, 'I _was_ Eliab Snooks,
That used to be a pedler;
Some on ye still are on my books!'
Whereat, to inconspicuous nooks,
(More fearing this than common spooks)
Shrank each indebted meddler;
Further the vengeful ghost declared 771
That while his earthly life was spared,
About the country he had fared,
A duly licensed follower
Of that much-wandering trade that wins
Slow profit from the sale of tins
And various kinds of hollow-ware;
That Colonel Jones enticed him in,
Pretending that he wanted tin,
There slew him with a rolling-pin,
Hid him in a potato-bin, 781
And (the same night) him ferried
Across Great Pond to t'other shore,
And there, on land of Widow Moore,
Just where you turn to Larkin's store,
Under a rock him buried;
Some friends (who happened to be by)
He called upon to testify
That what he said was not a lie,
And that he did not stir this 790
Foul matter, out of any spite
But from a simple love of right;--
Which statements the Nine Worthies,
Rabbi Akiba, Charlemagne,
Seth, Golley Gibber, General Wayne,
Cambyses, Tasso, Tubal-Cain,
The owner of a castle in Spain,
Jehanghire, and the Widow of Nain,
(The friends aforesaid,) made more plain
And by loud raps attested; 800
To the same purport testified
Plato, John Wilkes, and Colonel Pride
Who knew said Snooks before he died,
Had in his wares invested,
Thought him entitled to belief
And freely could concur, in brief,
In everything the rest did.

Eliab this occasion seized,
(Distinctly here the spirit sneezed,)
To say that he should ne'er be eased 810
Till Jenny married whom she pleased,
Free from all checks and urgin's,
(This spirit dropt his final g's)
And that, unless Knott quickly sees
This done, the spirits to appease,
They would come back his life to tease,
As thick as mites in ancient cheese,
And let his house on an endless lease
To the ghosts (terrific rappers these
And veritable Eumenides) 820
Of the Eleven Thousand Virgins!

Knott was perplexed and shook his head,
He did not wish his child to wed
With a suspected murderer,
(For, true or false, the rumor spread,)
But as for this roiled life he led,
'It would not answer,' so he said,
'To have it go no furderer.'
At last, scarce knowing what it meant,
Reluctantly he gave consent 830
That Jenny, since 'twas evident
That she _would_ follow her own bent,
Should make her own election;
For that appeared the only way
These frightful noises to allay
Which had already turned him gray
And plunged him in dejection.

Accordingly, this artless maid
Her father's ordinance obeyed, 839
And, all in whitest crape arrayed,
(Miss Pulsifer the dresses made
And wishes here the fact displayed
That she still carries on the trade,
The third door south from Bagg's Arcade,)
A very faint 'I do' essayed
And gave her hand to Hiram Slade,
From which time forth, the ghosts were laid,
And ne'er gave trouble after;
But the Selectmen, be it known,
Dug underneath the aforesaid stone, 850
Where the poor pedler's corpse was thrown,
And found thereunder a jaw-bone,
Though, when the crowner sat thereon,
He nothing hatched, except alone
Successive broods of laughter;
It was a frail and dingy thing,
In which a grinder or two did cling,
In color like molasses,
Which surgeons, called from far and wide.
Upon the horror to decide, 860
Having put on their glasses,
Reported thus: 'To judge by looks,
These bones, by some queer hooks or crooks,
May have belonged to Mr. Snooks,
But, as men deepest read in books
Are perfectly aware, bones,
If buried fifty years or so,
Lose their identity and grow
From human bones to bare bones.'

Still, if to Jaalam you go down,
You'll find two parties in the town, 871
One headed by Benaiah Brown,
And one by Perez Tinkham;
The first believe the ghosts all through
And vow that they shall never rue
The happy chance by which they knew
That people in Jupiter are blue,
And very fond of Irish stew,
Two curious facts which Prince Lee Boo 879
Rapped clearly to a chosen few--
Whereas the others think 'em
A trick got up by Doctor Slade
With Deborah the chambermaid
And that sly cretur Jinny.
That all the revelations wise,
At which the Brownites made big eyes,
Might have been given by Jared Keyes,
A natural fool and ninny,
And, last week, didn't Eliab Snooks
Come back with never better looks, 890
As sharp as new-bought mackerel hooks,
And bright as a new pin, eh?
Good Parson Wilbur, too, avers
(Though to be mixed in parish stirs
Is worse than handling chestnut-burrs)
That no case to his mind occurs
Where spirits ever did converse,
Save in a kind of guttural Erse,
(So say the best authorities;)
And that a charge by raps conveyed 900
Should be most scrupulously weighed
And searched into, before it is
Made public, since it may give pain
That cannot soon be cured again,
And one word may infix a stain
Which ten cannot gloss over,
Though speaking for his private part,
He is rejoiced with all his heart
Miss Knott missed not her lover.


I am a man of forty, sirs, a native of East Haddam,
And have some reason to surmise that I descend from Adam;
But what's my pedigree to you? That I will soon unravel;
I've sucked my Haddam-Eden dry, therefore desire to travel,
And, as a natural consequence, presume I needn't say,
I wish to write some letters home and have those letters p----
[I spare the word suggestive of those grim Next Morns that mount
_Clump, Clump_, the stairways of the brain with--'_Sir, my small
And, after every good we gain--Love, Fame, Wealth, Wisdom--still,
As punctual as a cuckoo clock, hold up their little bill, 10
The _garcons_ in our Cafe of Life, by dreaming us forgot--
Sitting, like Homer's heroes, full and musing God knows what,--
Till they say, bowing, _S'il vous plait, voila, Messieurs, la note!_]
I would not hint at this so soon, but in our callous day,
The Tollman Debt, who drops his bar across the world's highway,
Great Caesar in mid-march would stop, if Caesar could not pay;
Pilgriming's dearer than it was: men cannot travel now
Scot-free from Dan to Beersheba upon a simple vow;
Nay, as long back as Bess's time,--when Walsingham went over
Ambassador to Cousin France, at Canterbury and Dover 20
He was so fleeced by innkeepers that, ere he quitted land,
He wrote to the Prime Minister to take the knaves in hand.
If I with staff and scallop-shell should try my way to win,
Would Bonifaces quarrel as to who should take me in?
Or would my pilgrim's progress end where Bunyan started his on,
And my grand tour be round and round the backyard of a prison?
I give you here a saying deep and therefore, haply true;
'Tis out of Merlin's prophecies, but quite as good as new:
The question boath for men and meates longe voyages yt beginne
Lyes in a notshell, rather saye lyes in a case of tinne. 20
But, though men may not travel now, as in the Middle Ages,
With self-sustaining retinues of little gilt-edged pages,
Yet one may manage pleasantly, where'er he likes to roam,
By sending his small pages (at so much per small page) home;
And if a staff and scallop-shell won't serve so well as then,
Our outlay is about as small--just paper, ink, and pen.
Be thankful! Humbugs never die, more than the wandering Jew;
Bankrupt, they publish their own deaths, slink for a while from view,
Then take an _alias_, change the sign, and the old trade renew;
Indeed, 'tis wondrous how each Age, though laughing at the Past, 40
Insists on having its tight shoe made on the same old last;
How it is sure its system would break up at once without
The bunion which it _will_ believe hereditary gout;
How it takes all its swans for geese, nay, stranger yet and sadder,
Sees in its treadmill's fruitless jog a heavenward Jacob's-ladder,
Shouts, _Lo, the Shining Heights are reached! One moment, more aspire!_
Trots into cramps its poor, dear legs, gets never an inch the higher,
And like the others, ends with pipe and mug beside the fire.
There, 'tween each doze, it whiffs and sips and watches with a sneer
The green recruits that trudge and sweat where it had swinked
whilere, 50
And sighs to think this soon spent zeal should be in simple truth,
The only interval between old Fogyhood and Youth:
'Well,' thus it muses, 'well, what odds? 'Tis not for us to warn;
'Twill be the same when we are dead, and was ere we were born;
Without the Treadmill, too, how grind our store of winter's corn?
Had we no stock, nor twelve per cent received from Treadmill shares,
We might ... but these poor devils at last will get our easy chairs.
High aims and hopes have great rewards, they, too, serene and snug,
Shall one day have their soothing pipe and their enlivening mug;
From Adam, empty-handed Youth hath always heard the hum 60
Of Good Times Coming, and will hear until the last day come;
Young ears Hear forward, old ones back, and, while the earth rolls on,
Full-handed Eld shall hear recede the steps of Good Times Gone;
Ah what a cackle we set up whene'er an egg was laid!
_Cack-cack-cack-cackle!_ rang around, the scratch for worms was stayed,
_Cut-cut-ca-dah-cut!_ from _this_ egg the coming cock shall stalk!
The great New Era dawns, the age of Deeds and not of Talk!
And every stupid hen of us hugged close his egg of chalk,
Thought,--sure, I feel life stir within, each day with greater strength,
When lo, the chick! from former chicks he differed not a jot, 70
But grew and crew and scratched and went, like those before, to pot!'
So muse the dim _Emeriti_, and, mournful though it be,
I must confess a kindred thought hath sometimes come to me,
Who, though but just of forty turned, have heard the rumorous fame
Of nine and ninety Coming Men, all--coming till they came.
Pure Mephistopheles all this? the vulgar nature jeers?
Good friend, while I was writing it, my eyes were dim with tears;
Thrice happy he who cannot see, or who his eyes can shut,
Life's deepest sorrow is contained in that small word there--But!

* * * * *

We're pretty nearly crazy here with change and go ahead, 80
With flinging our caught bird away for two i' th' bush instead,
With butting 'gainst the wall which we declare _shall_ be a portal,
And questioning Deeps that never yet have oped their lips to mortal;
We're growing pale and hollow-eyed, and out of all condition,
With _mediums_ and prophetic chairs, and crickets with a mission,
(The most astounding oracles since Balaam's donkey spoke,--
'Twould seem our furniture was all of Dodonean oak.)
Make but the public laugh, be sure 'twill take you to be somebody;
'Twill wrench its button from your clutch, my densely earnest glum body;
'Tis good, this noble earnestness, good in its place, but why 90
Make great Achilles' shield the pan to bake a penny pie?
Why, when we have a kitchen-range, insist that we shall stop,
And bore clear down to central fires to broil our daily chop?
Excalibur and Durandart are swords of price, but then
Why draw them sternly when you wish to trim your nails or pen?
Small gulf between the ape and man; you bridge it with your staff;
But it will be impassable until the ape can laugh;--
No, no, be common now and then, be sensible, be funny,
And, as Siberians bait their traps for bears with pots of honey,
From which ere they'll withdraw their snouts, they'll suffer many a
club-lick, 100
So bait your moral figure-of-fours to catch the Orson public.
Look how the dead leaves melt their way down through deep-drifted snow;
They take the sun-warmth down with them--pearls could not conquer so;
There _is_ a moral here, you see: if you would preach, you must
Steep all your truths in sunshine would you have them pierce the crust;
Brave Jeremiah, you are grand and terrible, a sign
And wonder, but were never quite a popular divine;
Fancy the figure you would cut among the nuts and wine!
I, on occasion, too, could preach, but hold it wiser far
To give the public sermons it will take with its cigar, 110
And morals fugitive, and vague as are these smoke-wreaths light
In which ... I trace ... a ... let me see--bless me! 'tis out of sight.

* * * * *

There are some goodish things at sea; for instance, one can feel
A grandeur in the silent man forever at the wheel,
That bit of two-legged intellect, that particle of drill,
Who the huge floundering hulk inspires with reason, brain, and will,
And makes the ship, though skies are black and headwinds whistle loud,
Obey her conscience there which feels the loadstar through the cloud;
And when by lusty western gales the full-sailed barque is hurled,
Towards the great moon which, setting on, the silent underworld, 120
Rounds luridly up to look on ours, and shoots a broadening line,
Of palpitant light from crest to crest across the ridgy brine,
Then from the bows look back and feel a thrill that never stales,
In that full-bosomed, swan-white pomp of onward-yearning sails;
Ah, when dear cousin Bull laments that you can't make a poem,
Take him aboard a clipper-ship, young Jonathan, and show him
A work of art that in its grace and grandeur may compare
With any thing that any race has fashioned any where;
'Tis not a statue, grumbles John; nay, if you come to that,
We think of Hyde Park Corner, and concede you beat us flat 130
With your equestrian statue to a Nose and a Cocked hat;
But 'tis not a cathedral; well, e'en that we will allow,
Both statues and cathedrals are anachronistic now;
Your minsters, coz, the monuments of men who conquered you,
You'd sell a bargain, if we'd take the deans and chapters too;
No; mortal men build nowadays, as always heretofore,
Good temples to the gods which they in very truth adore;
The shepherds of this Broker Age, with all their willing flocks,
Although they bow to stones no more, do bend the knee to stocks,
And churches can't be beautiful though crowded, floor and gallery, 140
If people worship preacher, and if preacher worship salary;
'Tis well to look things in the face, the god o' the modern universe,
Hermes, cares naught for halls of art and libraries of puny verse,
If they don't sell, he notes them thus upon his ledger--say, _per
Contra_ to a loss of so much stone, best Russia duck and paper;
And, after all, about this Art men talk a deal of fudge,
Each nation has its path marked out, from which it must not budge;
The Romans had as little art as Noah in his ark,
Yet somehow on this globe contrived to make an epic mark; 149
Religion, painting, sculpture, song--for these they ran up jolly ticks
With Greece and Egypt, but they were great artists in their politics,
And if we make no minsters, John, nor epics, yet the Fates
Are not entirely deaf to men who _can_ build ships and states;
The arts are never pioneers, but men have strength and health
Who, called on suddenly, can improvise a commonwealth,
Nay, can more easily go on and frame them by the dozen,
Than you can make a dinner-speech, dear sympathizing cousin;
And, though our restless Jonathan have not your graver bent, sure he
Does represent this hand-to-mouth, pert, rapid nineteenth century;
This is the Age of Scramble; men move faster than they did 160
When they pried up the imperial Past's deep-dusted coffin-lid,
Searching for scrolls of precedent; the wire-leashed lightning now
Replaces Delphos--men don't leave the steamer for the scow;
What public, were they new to-day, would ever stop to read
The Iliad, the Shanameh, or the Nibelungenlied?
_Their_ public's gone, the artist Greek, the lettered Shah,
the hairy Graf--
Folio and plesiosaur sleep well; _we_ weary o'er a paragraph;
The mind moves planet-like no more, it fizzes, cracks, and bustles;
From end to end with journals dry the land o'ershadowed rustles,
As with dead leaves a winter-beech, and, with their breath-roused
jars 170
Amused, we care not if they hide the eternal skies and stars;
Down to the general level of the Board of Brokers sinking,
The Age takes in the newspapers, or, to say sooth unshrinking,
The newspapers take in the Age, and stocks do all the thinking.


Somewhere in India, upon a time,
(Read it not Injah, or you spoil the verse,)
There dwelt two saints whose privilege sublime
It was to sit and watch the world grow worse,
Their only care (in that delicious clime)
At proper intervals to pray and curse;
Pracrit the dialect each prudent brother
Used for himself, Damnonian for the other.

One half the time of each was spent in praying
For blessings on his own unworthy head, 10
The other half in fearfully portraying
Where certain folks would go when they were dead;
This system of exchanges--there's no saying
To what more solid barter 'twould have led,
But that a river, vext with boils and swellings
At rainy times, kept peace between their dwellings.

So they two played at wordy battledore
And kept a curse forever in the air,
Flying this way or that from shore to shore;
Nor other labor did this holy pair, 20
Clothed and supported from the lavish store
Which crowds lanigerous brought with daily care;
They toiled not, neither did they spin; their bias
Was tow'rd the harder task of being pious.

Each from his hut rushed six score times a day,
Like a great canon of the Church full-rammed
With cartridge theologic, (so to say,)
Touched himself off, and then, recoiling, slammed
His hovel's door behind him in away
That to his foe said plainly,--_you'll_ be damned; 30
And so like Potts and Wainwright, shrill and strong
The two D---- D'd each other all day long.

One was a dancing Dervise, a Mohammedan,
The other was a Hindoo, a gymnosophist;
One kept his whatd'yecallit and his Ramadan,
Laughing to scorn the sacred rites and laws of his
Transfluvial rival, who, in turn, called Ahmed an
Old top, and, as a clincher, shook across a fist
With nails six inches long, yet lifted not
His eyes from off his navel's mystic knot. 40

'Who whirls not round six thousand times an hour
Will go,' screamed Ahmed, 'to the evil place;
May he eat dirt, and may the dog and Giaour
Defile the graves of him and all his race;
Allah loves faithful souls and gives them power
To spin till they are purple in the face;
Some folks get you know what, but he that pure is
Earns Paradise and ninety thousand houris.'

'Upon the silver mountain, South by East,
Sits Brahma fed upon the sacred bean; 30
He loves those men whose nails are still increased,
Who all their lives keep ugly, foul, and lean;
'Tis of his grace that not a bird or beast
Adorned with claws like mine was ever seen;
The suns and stars are Brahma's thoughts divine,
Even as these trees I seem to see are mine.'

'Thou seem'st to see, indeed!' roared Ahmed back;
'Were I but once across this plaguy stream,
With a stout sapling in my hand, one whack
On those lank ribs would rid thee of that dream! 60
Thy Brahma-blasphemy is ipecac
To my soul's stomach; couldst thou grasp the scheme
Of true redemption, thou wouldst know that Deity
Whirls by a kind of blessed spontaneity.

'And this it is which keeps our earth here going
With all the stars.'--'Oh, vile! but there's a place
Prepared for such; to think of Brahma throwing
Worlds like a juggler's balls up into Space!
Why, not so much as a smooth lotos blowing
Is e'er allowed that silence to efface 70
Which broods round Brahma, and our earth, 'tis known,
Rests on a tortoise, moveless as this stone.'

So they kept up their banning amoebaean,
When suddenly came floating down the stream
A youth whose face like an incarnate paean
Glowed, 'twas so full of grandeur and of gleam;
'If there _be_ gods, then, doubtless, this must be one,'
Thought both at once, and then began to scream,
'Surely, whate'er immortals know, thou knowest,
Decide between us twain before thou goest!' 80

The youth was drifting in a slim canoe
Most like a huge white water-lily's petal,
But neither of our theologians knew
Whereof 'twas made; whether of heavenly metal
Seldseen, or of a vast pearl split in two
And hollowed, was a point they could not settle;
'Twas good debate-seed, though, and bore large fruit
In after years of many a tart dispute.

There were no wings upon the stranger's shoulders.
And yet he seemed so capable of rising 90
That, had he soared like thistle-down, beholders
Had thought the circumstance noways surprising;
Enough that he remained, and, when the scolders
Hailed him as umpire in their vocal prize-ring,
The painter of his boat he lightly threw
Around a lotos-stem, and brought her to.

The strange youth had a look as if he might
Have trod far planets where the atmosphere
(Of nobler temper) steeps the face with light,
Just as our skins are tanned and freckled here; 100
His air was that of a cosmopolite
In the wide universe from sphere to sphere;
Perhaps he was (his face had such grave beauty)
An officer of Saturn's guards off duty.

Both saints began to unfold their tales at once,
Both wished their tales, like simial ones, prehensile,
That they might seize his ear; _fool! knave!_ and _dunce!_
Flew zigzag back and forth, like strokes of pencil
In a child's fingers; voluble as duns,
They jabbered like the stones on that immense hill 110
In the Arabian Nights; until the stranger
Began to think his ear-drums in some danger.

In general those who nothing have to say
Contrive to spend the longest time in doing it;
They turn and vary it in every way,
Hashing it, stewing it, mincing it, _ragouting_ it;
Sometimes they keep it purposely at bay,
Then let it slip to be again pursuing it;
They drone it, groan it, whisper it and shout it,
Refute it, flout it, swear to 't, prove it, doubt it. 120

Our saints had practised for some thirty years;
Their talk, beginning with a single stem,
Spread like a banyan, sending down live piers,
Colonies of digression, and, in them,
Germs of yet new dispersion; once by the ears,
They could convey damnation in a hem,
And blow the pinch of premise-priming off
Long syllogistic batteries, with a cough.

Each had a theory that the human ear
A providential tunnel was, which led 130
To a huge vacuum (and surely here
They showed some knowledge of the general head,)
For cant to be decanted through, a mere
Auricular canal or mill-race fed
All day and night, in sunshine and in shower,
From their vast heads of milk-and-water-power.

The present being a peculiar case,
Each with unwonted zeal the other scouted,
Put his spurred hobby through its every pace, 139
Pished, pshawed, poohed, horribled, bahed, jeered, sneered, flouted,
Sniffed, nonsensed, infideled, fudged, with his face
Looked scorn too nicely shaded to be shouted,
And, with each inch of person and of vesture,
Contrived to hint some most disdainful gesture.

At length, when their breath's end was come about,
And both could now and then just gasp 'impostor!'
Holding their heads thrust menacingly out,
As staggering cocks keep up their fighting posture,
The stranger smiled and said, 'Beyond a doubt
'Tis fortunate, my friends, that you have lost your 150
United parts of speech, or it had been
Impossible for me to get between.

'Produce! says Nature,--what have you produced?
A new strait-waistcoat for the human mind;
Are you not limbed, nerved, jointed, arteried, juiced,
As other men? yet, faithless to your kind,
Rather like noxious insects you are used
To puncture life's fair fruit, beneath the rind
Laying your creed-eggs, whence in time there spring
Consumers new to eat and buzz and sting. 160

'Work! you have no conception how 'twill sweeten
Your views of Life and Nature, God and Man;
Had you been forced to earn what you have eaten,
Your heaven had shown a less dyspeptic plan;
At present your whole function is to eat ten
And talk ten times as rapidly as you can;
Were your shape true to cosmogonic laws,
You would be nothing but a pair of jaws.

'Of all the useless beings in creation
The earth could spare most easily you bakers 170
Of little clay gods, formed in shape and fashion
Precisely in the image of their makers;
Why it would almost move a saint to passion,
To see these blind and deaf, the hourly breakers
Of God's own image in their brother men,
Set themselves up to tell the how, where, when,

'Of God's existence; one's digestion's worse--
So makes a god of vengeance and of blood;
Another,--but no matter, they reverse
Creation's plan, out of their own vile mud 180
Pat up a god, and burn, drown, hang, or curse
Whoever worships not; each keeps his stud
Of texts which wait with saddle on and bridle
To hunt down atheists to their ugly idol.

'This, I perceive, has been your occupation;
You should have been more usefully employed;
All men are bound to earn their daily ration,
Where States make not that primal contract void
By cramps and limits; simple devastation
Is the worm's task, and what he has destroyed 190
His monument; creating is man's work,
And that, too, something more than mist and murk.'

So having said, the youth was seen no more,
And straightway our sage Brahmin, the philosopher,
Cried, 'That was aimed at thee, thou endless bore,
Idle and useless as the growth of moss over
A rotting tree-trunk!' 'I would square that score
Full soon,' replied the Dervise, 'could I cross over
And catch thee by the beard. Thy nails I'd trim
And make thee work, as was advised by him. 200

'Work? Am I not at work from morn till night
Sounding the deeps of oracles umbilical
Which for man's guidance never come to light,
With all their various aptitudes, until I call?'
'And I, do I not twirl from left to right
For conscience' sake? Is that no work? Thou silly gull,
He had thee in his eye; 'twas Gabriel
Sent to reward my faith, I know him well.'

'Twas Vishnu, thou vile whirligig!' and so
The good old quarrel was begun anew; 210
One would have sworn the sky was black as sloe,
Had but the other dared to call it blue;
Nor were the followers who fed them slow
To treat each other with their curses, too,
Each hating t'other (moves it tears or laughter?)
Because he thought him sure of hell hereafter.

At last some genius built a bridge of boats
Over the stream, and Ahmed's zealots filed
Across, upon a mission to (cut throats
And) spread religion pure and undefiled; 220
They sowed the propagandist's wildest oats,
Cutting off all, down to the smallest child,
And came back, giving thanks for such fat mercies,
To find their harvest gone past prayers or curses.

All gone except their saint's religious hops,
Which he kept up with more than common flourish;
But these, however satisfying crops
For the inner man, were not enough to nourish
The body politic, which quickly drops
Reserve in such sad junctures, and turns currish; 230
So Ahmed soon got cursed for all the famine
Where'er the popular voice could edge a damn in.

At first he pledged a miracle quite boldly.
And, for a day or two, they growled and waited;
But, finding that this kind of manna coldly
Sat on their stomachs, they erelong berated
The saint for still persisting in that old lie,
Till soon the whole machine of saintship grated,
Ran slow, creaked, stopped, and, wishing him in Tophet,
They gathered strength enough to stone the prophet. 240

Some stronger ones contrived (by eatting leather,
Their weaker friends, and one thing or another)
The winter months of scarcity to weather;
Among these was the late saint's younger brother,
Who, in the spring, collecting them together,
Persuaded them that Ahmed's holy pother
Had wrought in their behalf, and that the place
Of Saint should be continued to his race.

Accordingly, 'twas settled on the spot
That Allah favored that peculiar breed; 250
Beside, as all were satisfied, 'twould not
Be quite respectable to have the need
Of public spiritual food forgot;
And so the tribe, with proper forms, decreed
That he, and, failing him, his next of kin,
Forever for the people's good should spin.




[I have observed, reader (bene-or male-volent, as it may happen), that
it is customary to append to the second editions of books, and to the
second works of authors, short sentences commendatory of the first,
under the title of _Notices of the Press_. These, I have been given to
understand, are procurable at certain established rates, payment being
made either in money or advertising patronage by the publisher, or by an
adequate outlay of servility on the part of the author. Considering
these things with myself, and also that such notices are neither
intended, nor generally believed, to convey any real opinions, being a
purely ceremonial accompaniment of literature, and resembling
certificates to the virtues of various morbiferal panaceas, I conceived
that it would be not only more economical to prepare a sufficient number
of such myself, but also more immediately subservient to the end in view
to prefix them to this our primary edition rather than to await the
contingency of a second, when they would seem to be of small utility. To
delay attaching the _bobs_ until the second attempt at flying the kite
would indicate but a slender experience in that useful art. Neither has
it escaped my notice nor failed to afford me matter of reflection, that,
when a circus or a caravan is about to visit Jaalam, the initial step is
to send forward large and highly ornamented bills of performance, to be
hung in the bar-room and the post-office. These having been sufficiently
gazed at, and beginning to lose their attractiveness except for the
flies, and, truly, the boys also (in whom I find it impossible to
repress, even during school-hours, certain oral and telegraphic
communications concerning the expected show), upon some fine morning the
band enters in a gayly painted wagon, or triumphal chariot, and with
noisy advertisement, by means of brass, wood, and sheepskin, makes the
circuit of our startled village streets. Then, as the exciting sounds
draw nearer and nearer, do I desiderate those eyes of Aristarchus,
'whose looks were as a breeching to a boy.' Then do I perceive, with
vain regret of wasted opportunities, the advantage of a pancratic or
pantechnic education, since he is most reverenced by my little subjects
who can throw the cleanest summerset or walk most securely upon the
revolving cask. The story of the Pied Piper becomes for the first time
credible to me (albeit confirmed by the Hameliners dating their legal
instruments from the period of his exit), as I behold how those strains,
without pretence of magical potency, bewitch the pupillary legs, nor
leave to the pedagogic an entire self-control. For these reasons, lest
my kingly prerogative should suffer diminution, I prorogue my restless
commons, whom I follow into the street, chiefly lest some mischief may
chance befall them. After the manner of such a band, I send forward the
following notices of domestic manufacture, to make brazen proclamation,
not unconscious of the advantage which will accrue, if our little craft,
_cymbula sutilis_, shall seem to leave port with a clipping breeze, and
to carry, in nautical phrase, a bone in her mouth. Nevertheless, I have
chosen, as being more equitable, to prepare some also sufficiently
objurgatory, that readers of every taste may find a dish to their
palate. I have modelled them upon actually existing specimens, preserved
in my own cabinet of natural curiosities. One, in particular, I had
copied with tolerable exactness from a notice of one of my own
discourses, which, from its superior tone and appearance of vast
experience, I concluded to have been written by a man at least three
hundred years of age, though I recollected no existing instance of such
antediluvian longevity. Nevertheless, I afterwards discovered the author
to be a young gentleman preparing for the ministry under the direction
of one of my brethren in a neighboring town, and whom I had once
instinctively corrected in a Latin quantity. But this I have been
forced to omit, from its too great length.--H.W.]

* * * * *

_From the Universal Littery Universe_.

Full of passages which rivet the attention of the reader.... Under a
rustic garb, sentiments are conveyed which should be committed to the
memory and engraven on the heart of every moral and social being.... We
consider this a _unique_ performance.... We hope to see it soon
introduced into our common schools.... Mr. Wilbur has performed his
duties as editor with excellent taste and judgment.... This is a vein
which we hope to see successfully prosecuted.... We hail the appearance
of this work as a long stride toward the formation of a purely
aboriginal, indigenous, native, and American literature. We rejoice to
meet with an author national enough to break away from the slavish
deference, too common among us, to English grammar and orthography....
Where all is so good, we are at a loss how to make extracts.... On the
whole, we may call it a volume which no library, pretending to entire
completeness, should fail to place upon its shelves.

* * * * *

_From the Higginbottomopolis Snapping-turtle_.

A collection of the merest balderdash and doggerel that it was ever our
bad fortune to lay eyes on. The author is a vulgar buffoon, and the
editor a talkative, tedious old fool. We use strong language, but should
any of our readers peruse the book, (from which calamity Heaven preserve
them!) they will find reasons for it thick as the leaves of
Vallum-brozer, or, to use a still more expressive comparison, as the
combined heads of author and editor. The work is wretchedly got up....
We should like to know how much _British gold_ was pocketed by this
libeller of our country and her purest patriots.

* * * * *

_From the Oldfogrumville Mentor_.

We have not had time to do more than glance through this handsomely
printed volume, but the name of its respectable editor, the Rev. Mr.
Wilbur, of Jaalam, will afford a sufficient guaranty for the worth of
its contents.... The paper is white, the type clear, and the volume of a
convenient and attractive size.... In reading this elegantly executed
work, it has seemed to us that a passage or two might have been
retrenched with advantage, and that the general style of diction was
susceptible of a higher polish.... On the whole, we may safely leave the
ungrateful task of criticism to the reader. We will barely suggest, that
in volumes intended, as this is, for the illustration of a provincial
dialect and turns of expression, a dash of humor or satire might be
thrown in with advantage.... The work is admirably got up.... This work
will form an appropriate ornament to the centre table. It is beautifully
printed, on paper of an excellent quality.

* * * * *

_From the Dekay Bulwark_.

We should be wanting in our duty as the conductor of that tremendous
engine, a public press, as an American, and as a man, did we allow such
an opportunity as is presented to us by 'The Biglow Papers' to pass by
without entering our earnest protest against such attempts (now, alas!
too common) at demoralizing the public sentiment. Under a wretched mask
of stupid drollery, slavery, war, the social glass, and, in short, all
the valuable and time-honored institutions justly dear to our common
humanity and especially to republicans, are made the butt of coarse and
senseless ribaldry by this low-minded scribbler. It is time that the
respectable and religious portion of our community should be aroused to
the alarming inroads of foreign Jacobinism, sansculottism, and
infidelity. It is a fearful proof of the widespread nature of this
contagion, that these secret stabs at religion and virtue are given from
under the cloak (_credite, posteri!_) of a clergyman. It is a mournful
spectacle indeed to the patriot and Christian to see liberality and new
ideas (falsely so called,--they are as old as Eden) invading the sacred
precincts of the pulpit.... On the whole, we consider this volume as one
of the first shocking results which we predicted would spring out of the
late French 'Revolution' (!)

* * * * *

_From the Bungtown Copper and Comprehensive Tocsin (a try-weakly family

Altogether an admirable work.... Full of humor, boisterous, but
delicate,--of wit withering and scorching, yet combined with a pathos
cool as morning dew,--of satire ponderous as the mace of Richard, yet
keen as the scymitar of Saladin.... A work full of 'mountain-mirth,'
mischievous as Puck, and lightsome as Ariel.... We know not whether to
admire most the genial, fresh, and discursive concinnity of the author,
or his playful fancy, weird imagination, and compass of style, at once
both objective and subjective.... We might indulge in some criticisms,
but, were the author other than he is, he would be a different being. As
it is, he has a wonderful _pose_, which flits from flower to flower, and
bears the reader irresistibly along on its eagle pinions (like Ganymede)
to the 'highest heaven of invention.' ... We love a book so purely
objective ... Many of his pictures of natural scenery have an
extraordinary subjective clearness and fidelity.... In fine, we consider
this as one of the most extraordinary volumes of this or any age. We
know of no English author who could have written it. It is a work to
which the proud genius of our country, standing with one foot on the
Aroostook and the other on the Rio Grande, and holding up the
star-spangled banner amid the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds,
may point with bewildering scorn of the punier efforts of enslaved
Europe.... We hope soon to encounter our author among those higher walks
of literature in which he is evidently capable of achieving enduring
fame. Already we should be inclined to assign him a high position in the
bright galaxy of our American bards.

* * * * *

_From the Saltriver Pilot and Flag of Freedom._

A volume in bad grammar and worse taste.... While the pieces here
collected were confined to their appropriate sphere in the corners of
obscure newspapers, we considered them wholly beneath contempt, but, as
the author has chosen to come forward in this public manner, he must
expect the lash he so richly merits.... Contemptible slanders.... Vilest
Billingsgate.... Has raked all the gutters of our language.... The most
pure, upright, and consistent politicians not safe from his malignant
venom.... General Cushing comes in for a share of his vile calumnies....
The _Reverend_ Homer Wilbur is a disgrace to his cloth....

* * * * *

_From the World-Harmonic-AEolian-Attachment_.

Speech is silver: silence is golden. No utterance more Orphic than this.
While, therefore, as highest author, we reverence him whose works
continue heroically unwritten, we have also our hopeful word for those
who with pen (from wing of goose loud-cackling, or seraph
God-commissioned) record the thing that is revealed.... Under mask of
quaintest irony, we detect here the deep, storm-tost (nigh ship-wracked)
soul, thunder-scarred, semi-articulate, but ever climbing hopefully
toward the peaceful summits of an Infinite Sorrow.... Yes, thou poor,
forlorn Hosea, with Hebrew fire-flaming soul in thee, for thee also this
life of ours has not been without its aspects of heavenliest pity and
laughingest mirth. Conceivable enough! Through coarse Thersites-cloak,
we have revelation of the heart, wild-glowing, world-clasping, that is
in him. Bravely he grapples with the life-problem as it presents itself
to him, uncombed, shaggy, careless of the 'nicer proprieties,' inexpert
of 'elegant diction,' yet with voice audible enough to whoso hath ears,
up there on the gravelly side-hills, or down on the splashy,
indiarubber-like salt-marshes of native Jaalam. To this soul also the
_Necessity of Creating_ somewhat has unveiled its awful front. If not
Oedipuses and Electras and Alcestises, then in God's name Birdofredum
Sawins! These also shall get born into the world, and filch (if so need)
a Zingali subsistence therein, these lank, omnivorous Yankees of his. He
shall paint the Seen, since the Unseen will not sit to him. Yet in him
also are Nibelungen-lays, and Iliads, and Ulysses-wanderings, and Divine
Comedies,--if only once he could come at them! Therein lies much, nay
all; for what truly is this which we name _All_, but that which we do
_not_ possess?... Glimpses also are given us of an old father Ezekiel,
not without paternal pride, as is the wont of such. A brown,
parchment-hided old man of the geoponic or bucolic species, gray-eyed,
we fancy, _queued_ perhaps, with much weather-cunning and plentiful
September-gale memories, bidding fair in good time to become the Oldest
Inhabitant. After such hasty apparition, he vanishes and is seen no
more.... Of 'Rev. Homer Wilbur, A.M., Pastor of the First Church in
Jaalam,' we have small care to speak here. Spare touch in him of his
Melesigenes namesake, save, haply, the--blindness! A tolerably
caliginose, nephelegeretous elderly gentleman, with infinite faculty of
sermonizing, muscularized by long practice and excellent digestive
apparatus, and, for the rest, well-meaning enough, and with small
private illuminations (somewhat tallowy, it is to be feared) of his own.
To him, there, 'Pastor of the First Church in Jaalam,' our Hosea
presents himself as a quite inexplicable Sphinx-riddle. A rich poverty
of Latin and Greek,--so far is clear enough, even to eyes peering myopic
through horn-lensed editorial spectacles,--but naught farther? O
purblind, well-meaning, altogether fuscous Melesigenes-Wilbur, there are
things in him incommunicable by stroke of birch! Did it ever enter that
old bewildered head of thine that there was the _Possibility of the
Infinite_ in him? To thee, quite wingless (and even featherless) biped,
has not so much even as a dream of wings ever come? 'Talented young
parishioner'? Among the Arts whereof thou art _Magister_, does that of
_seeing_ happen to be one? Unhappy _Artium Magister!_ Somehow a Nemean
lion, fulvous, torrid-eyed, dry-nursed in broad-howling
sand-wildernesses of a sufficiently rare spirit-Libya (it may be
supposed) has got whelped among the sheep. Already he stands
wild-glaring, with feet clutching the ground as with oak-roots,
gathering for a Remus-spring over the walls of thy little fold. In
heaven's name, go not near him with that flybite crook of thine! In good
time, thou painful preacher, thou wilt go to the appointed place of
departed Artillery-Election Sermons, Right-hands of Fellowship, and
Results of Councils, gathered to thy spiritual fathers with much Latin
of the Epitaphial sort; thou too, shalt have thy reward; but on him the
Eumenides have looked, not Xantippes of the pit, snake-tressed,
finger-threatening, but radiantly calm as on antique gems; for him paws
impatient the winged courser of the gods, champing unwelcome bit; him

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