villages bearing wampum and asking the chiefs to meet my
Angry basilisks watch at the gates of Law and Church just now; and strike a sad damp into the nobler of the young aspirants. Hard bonds are offered you to sign; as it were, a solemn engagement to constitute yourself an impostor, before ever entering; to declare your belief in incredibilities,--your determination, in short, to take Chaos for Cosmos, and Satan for the Lord of things, if he come with money in his pockets, and horsehair and bombazine decently wrapt about him. Fatal preliminaries, which deter many an ingenuous young soul, and send him back from the threshold, and I hope will deter ever more. But if you do enter, the condition is well known: "Talk; who can talk best here? His shall be the mouth of gold, and the purse of gold; and with my [Gr.] _mitra_ (once the head-dress of unfortunate females, I am told) shall his sacred temples be begirt."
Ingenuous souls, unless forced to it, do now much shudder at the threshold of both these careers, and not a few desperately turn back into the wilderness rather, to front a very rude fortune, and be devoured by wild beasts as is likeliest. But as to Parliament, again, and its eligibility if attainable, there is yet no question anywhere; the ingenuous soul, if possessed of money-capital enough, is predestined by the parental and all manner of monitors to that career of talk; and accepts it with alacrity and clearness of heart, doubtful only whether he shall be _able_ to make a speech. Courage, my brave young fellow. If you can climb a soaped pole of any kind, you will certainly be able to make a speech. All mortals have a tongue; and carry on some jumble, if not of thought, yet of stuff which they could talk. The weakest of animals has got a cry in it, and can give voice before dying. If you are tough enough, bent upon it desperately enough, I engage you shall make a speech;--but whether that will be the way to Heaven for you, I do not engage.
These, then, are our two careers for genius: mute Industrialism, which can seldom become very human, but remains beaverish mainly: and the three Professions named learned,--that is to say, able to talk. For the heroic or higher kinds of human intellect, in the silent state, there is not the smallest inquiry anywhere; apparently a thing not wanted in this country at present. What the supply may be, I cannot inform M'Croudy; but the market-demand, he may himself see, is _nil_. These are our three professions that require human intellect in part or whole, not able to do with mere beaverish; and such a part does the gift of talk play in one and all of them. Whatsoever is not beaverish seems to go forth in the shape of talk. To such length is human intellect wasted or suppressed in this world!
If the young aspirant is not rich enough for Parliament, and is deterred by the basilisks or otherwise from entering on Law or Church, and cannot altogether reduce his human intellect to the beaverish condition, or satisfy himself with the prospect of making money,--what becomes of him in such case, which is naturally the case of very many, and ever of more? In such case there remains but one outlet for him, and notably enough that too is a talking one: the outlet of Literature, of trying to write Books. Since, owing to preliminary basilisks, want of cash, or superiority to cash, he cannot mount aloft by eloquent talking, let him try it by dexterous eloquent writing. Here happily, having three fingers, and capital to buy a quire of paper, he can try it to all lengths and in spite of all mortals: in this career there is happily no public impediment that can turn him back; nothing but private starvation--which is itself a _finis_ or kind of goal--can pretend to hinder a British man from prosecuting Literature to the very utmost, and wringing the final secret from her: "A talent is in thee; No talent is in thee." To the British subject who fancies genius may be lodged in him, this liberty remains; and truly it is, if well computed, almost the only one he has.
A crowded portal this of Literature, accordingly! The haven of expatriated spiritualisms, and alas also of expatriated vanities and prurient imbecilities: here do the windy aspirations, foiled activities, foolish ambitions, and frustrate human energies reduced to the vocable condition, fly as to the one refuge left; and the Republic of Letters increases in population at a faster rate than even the Republic of America. The strangest regiment in her Majesty's service, this of the Soldiers of Literature:--would your Lordship much like to march through Coventry with them? The immortal gods are there (quite irrecognizable under these disguises), and also the lowest broken valets;--an extremely miscellaneous regiment. In fact the regiment, superficially viewed, looks like an immeasurable motley flood of discharged play-actors, funambulists, false prophets, drunken ballad-singers; and marches not as a regiment, but as a boundless canaille,--without drill, uniform, captaincy or billet; with huge over-proportion of drummers; you would say, a regiment gone wholly to the drum, with hardly a good musket to be seen in it,--more a canaille than a regiment. Canaille of all the loud-sounding levities, and general winnowings of Chaos, marching through the world in a most ominous manner; proclaiming, audibly if you have ears: "Twelfth hour of the Night; ancient graves yawning; pale clammy Puseyisms screeching in their winding-sheets; owls busy in the City regions; many goblins abroad! Awake ye living; dream no more; arise to judgment! Chaos and Gehenna are broken loose; the Devil with his Bedlams must be flung in chains again, and the Last of the Days is about to dawn!" Such is Literature to the reflective soul at this moment.
But what now concerns us most is the circumstance that here too the demand is, Vocables, still vocables. In all appointed courses of activity and paved careers for human genius, and in this unpaved, unappointed, broadest career of Literature, broad way that leadeth to destruction for so many, the one duty laid upon you is still, Talk, talk. Talk well with pen or tongue, and it shall be well with you; do not talk well, it shall be ill with you. To wag the tongue with dexterous acceptability, there is for human worth and faculty, in our England of the Nineteenth Century, that one method of emergence and no other. Silence, you would say, means annihilation for the Englishman of the Nineteenth Century. The worth that has not spoken itself, is not; or is potentially only, and as if it were not. Vox is the God of this Universe. If you have human intellect, it avails nothing unless you either make it into beaverism, or talk with it. Make it into beaverism, and gather money; or else make talk with it, and gather what you can. Such is everywhere the demand for talk among us: to which, of course, the supply is proportionate.
From dinners up to woolsacks and divine mitres, here in England, much may be gathered by talk; without talk, of the human sort nothing. Is Society become wholly a bag of wind, then, ballasted by guineas? Are our interests in it as a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal?--In Army or Navy, when unhappily we have war on hand, there is, almost against our will, some kind of demand for certain of the silent talents. But in peace, that too passes into mere demand of the ostentations, of the pipeclays and the blank cartridges; and,--except that Naval men are occasionally, on long voyages, forced to hold their tongue, and converse with the dumb elements, and illimitable oceans, that moan and rave there without you and within you, which is a great advantage to the Naval man,--our poor United Services have to make conversational windbags and ostentational paper-lanterns of themselves, or do worse, even as the others.
My friends, must I assert, then, what surely all men know, though all men seem to have forgotten it, That in the learned professions as in the unlearned, and in human things throughout, in every place and in every time, the true function of intellect is not that of talking, but of understanding and discerning with a view to performing! An intellect may easily talk too much, and perform too little. Gradually, if it get into the noxious habit of talk, there will less and less performance come of it, talk being so delightfully handy in comparison with work; and at last there will no work, or thought of work, be got from it at all. Talk, except as the preparation for work, is worth almost nothing;--sometimes it is worth infinitely less than nothing; and becomes, little conscious of playing such a fatal part, the general summary of pretentious nothingnesses, and the chief of all the curses the Posterity of Adam are liable to in this sublunary world! Would you discover the Atropos of Human Virtue; the sure Destroyer, "by painless extinction," of Human Veracities, Performances, and Capabilities to perform or to be veracious,--it is this, you have it here.
- gate, but the apparatus was out of his reach, and he had
- “Not you. You’re wanted here. If you disappear the
- Kara Gubek and Tafta must fall, and enemy will be on left
- of the road transport and engineers’ stores were parked,
- solid wall opened before her; it was another masked door.
- At last we reached our goal and marched through a fine
- which rumbles like a drum, but the steady persistence of
- city. The nearest point of the Russian front was somewhere
- They were approaching the river, and there was a fog to-night!
- felt that I was moving in natural air once more. I felt
- than the rest had caught our movement in the starlit darkness.
- was mighty thankful when I got him panting on the top and
- Behind a great flowering shrub Hanson lay gazing at the
- road from Erzerum to the Palantuken pass, and he waited
- were getting shelled in the reserve trenches outside Vermelles.
- untold gold to the enemy. No wonder Stumm had been in a
- their terrible ordeals in the untracked jungle to the south;
- the baggage rack, and one sat beside Stumm’s chauffeur.
- big firing up to the north get ready to beat a quick retreat,
- “Great heavens, man, you’ve been drugged!” I said.
- innocent purpose: each parish has a public musket, and
- secrecy last, I asked myself. We had now no sort of protection
- I discovered where we were. And as I thought of this I
- The key turned in the door and Hussin stole in like a shade.
- fowls, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and cattle; the order
- The man slewed round and looked into my eyes. I had a despairing
- I’ve succeeded. But now you come along, Major, and you
- is: Will the Russians guess that? I say no, not unless
- fit, often wandering along in the great flower garden that
- not imagine what was detaining Sandy. It was clear that
- over eight-inch, I fancy, but to Peter they looked like
- a cellar, with the whole hornet’s nest of Turkey and
- gruffly, explaining that he had always been fond of the
- have seen what was below him, and Peter and I had to stand
- the happier inspiration. I believed the good God had spared
- “Two eminent American engineers and their servant bound
- but he had not been as idle as he appeared to have been.
- business so high that the bits of it will never come to
- a charge can be nothing like so nerve-shaking a business
- The hunt was proceeding along the roofs parallel to the
- reward that they would win from him if they carried his
- in the right direction. The Turks must have been forced
- which is often visible in darkness, could not be seen.
- a ladder leading to a sort of loft, which in turn gave
- end of the apartment. A steady stream of dirty water was
- no harm. We are friends of the same purpose. Do you speak
- I went back to the map and examined the nearest Russian
- It was the craziest performance. He went hell-for-leather
- At certain seasons they catch also, in “corrales,”
- trenches. The night had begun by being pretty nearly as