Sunday, 22 February 2009
. . . Who ferrets out a “medium”? “David ’s yours,
“You highly-favoured man? Then, pity souls
“Less privileged! Allow us share your luck!”
So, David holds the circle, rules the roast,
Narrates the vision, peeps in the glass ball
Sets-to the spirit-writing, hears the raps,
As the case may be.
To be precise—
Though I say, “lies” all these, at this first stage,
’T is just for science’ sake: I call such grubs
By the name of what they’ll turn to, dragonflies.
Strictly, it ’s what good people style untruth;
But yet, so far, not quite the full-grown thing:
It ’s fancying, fable-making, nonsense-work—
What never meant to be so very bad—
The knack of story-telling, brightening up
Each dull old bit of fact that drops its shine.
One does see somewhat when one shuts one’s eyes,
If only spots and streaks; tables do tip
In the oddest way of themselves: and pens, good Lord,
Who knows if you drive them or they drive you?
’T is but a foot in the water and out again;
Not that duck-under which decides your dive.
Note this, for it ’s important: listen why.
I ’ll prove, you push on David till he dives
And ends the shivering. Here ’s your circle, now:
Two-thirds of them, with heads like you their host,
Turn up their eyes, and cry, as you expect,
“Lord, who’d have thought it!” But there’s always one
Looks wise, compassionately smiles, submits
“Of your veracity no kind of doubt,
“But—do you feel so certain of that boy’s?
“Really, I wonder! I confess myself
“More chary of my faith!” That ’s galling, sir!
What, he the investigator, he the sage,
When all ’s done? Then, you just have shut your eyes,
Opened your mouth, and gulped down David whole,
You! Terrible were such catastrophe!
So, evidence is redoubled, doubled again,
And doubled besides; once more, “He heard, we heard,
“You and they heard, your mother and your wife,
“Your children and the stranger in your gates:
“Did they or did they not?” So much for him,
The black sheep, guest without the wedding-garb,
The doubting Thomas! Now ’s your time to crow:
“He’s kind to think you such a fool: Sludge cheats? . . .
From Mr. Sludge, "The Medium"