"Tutti i salmi finiscono in gloria."
All the psalms wind up with the Gloria.--"As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, World without end. Amen."
Well, then, Amen.
I hope you say Amen! along with me, dear little reader: if there be any dear little reader who has got so far. If not, I say Amen! all by myself.--But don't you think the show is all over. I've got another volume up my sleeve, and after a year or two years, when I have shaken it down my sleeve, I shall bring it and lay it at the foot of your Liberty statue, oh Columbia, as I do this one.
I suppose Columbia means the States.--"Hail Columbia!"--I suppose, etymologically, it is a nest of turtle-doves, Lat. _columba_, a dove. Coo me softly, then, Columbia; don't roar me like the sucking doves of the critics of my "Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious."
And when I lay this little book at the foot of the Liberty statue, that brawny lady is not to look down her nose and bawl: "Do you see any green in my eye?" Of course I don't, dear lady. I only see the reflection of that torch--or is it a carrot?--which you are holding up to light the way into New York harbor. Well, many an ass has strayed across the uneasy paddock of the Atlantic, to nibble your carrot, dear lady. And I must say, you can keep on slicing off nice little carrot-slices of guineas and doubloons for an extraordinarily inexhaustible long time. And innumerable asses can collect themselves nice little heaps of golden carrot-slices, and then lift up their heads and brag over them with fairly pan-demoniac yells of gratification. Of course I don't see any green in your eye, dear Libertas, unless it is the smallest glint from the carrot-tips. The gleam in your eye is golden, oh Columbia!
Nevertheless, and in spite of all this, up trots this here little ass and makes you a nice present of this pretty book. You needn't sniff, and glance at your carrot-sceptre, lady Liberty. You needn't throw down the thinnest carrot-paring you can pare off, and then say: "Why should I pay for this tripe, this wordy mass of rather revolting nonsense!" You can't pay for it, darling. If I didn't make you a present of it you could never buy it. So don't shake your carrot-sceptre and feel supercilious. Here's a gift for you, Missis. You can look in its mouth, too. Mind it doesn't bite you.--No, you needn't bother to put your carrot behind your back, nobody wants to snatch it.
How do you do, Columbia! Look, I brought you a posy: this nice little posy of words and wisdom which I made for you in the woods of Ebersteinburg, on the borders of the Black Forest, near Baden Baden, in Germany, in this summer of scanty grace but nice weather. I made it specially for you--Whitman, for whom I have an immense regard, says "These States." I suppose I ought to say: "Those States." If the publisher would let me, I'd dedicate this book to you, to "Those States." Because I wrote this book entirely for you, Columbia. You may not take it as a compliment. You may even smell a tiny bit of Schwarzwald sap in it, and be finally disgusted. I admit that trees ought to think twice before they flourish in such a disgraced place as the Fatherland. "_Chi va coi zoppi, all' anno zoppica._" But you've not only to gather ye rosebuds while ye may, but _where_ ye may. And so, as I said before, the Black Forest, etc.
I know, Columbia, dear Libertas, you'll take my posy and put your carrot aside for a minute, and smile, and say: "I'm sure, Mr. Lawrence, it is a _long_ time since I had such a perfectly beautiful bunch of ideas brought me." And I shall blush and look sheepish and say: "So glad you think so. I believe you'll find they'll keep fresh quite a long time, if you put them in water." Whereupon you, Columbia, with real American gallantry: "Oh, they'll keep for _ever_, Mr. Lawrence. They _couldn't_ be so cruel as to go and die, such perfectly lovely-colored ideas. Lovely! Thank you ever, ever so much."
Just think of it, Columbia, how pleased we shall be with one another: and how much nicer it will be than if you snorted "High-falutin' Nonsense"--or "Wordy mass of repulsive rubbish."
When they were busy making Italy, and were just going to put it in the oven to bake: that is, when Garibaldi and Vittorio Emmanuele had won their victories at Caserta, Naples prepared to give them a triumphant entry. So there sat the little king in his carriage: he had short legs and huge swagger mustaches and a very big bump of philoprogeniture. The town was all done up, in spite of the rain. And down either side of the wide street were hasty statues of large, well-fleshed ladies, each one holding up a fore-finger. We don't know what the king thought. But the staff held their breath. The king's appetite for strapping ladies was more than notorious, and naturally it looked as if Naples had done it on purpose.
As a matter of fact, the fore-finger meant _Italia Una_! "Italy shall be one." Ask Don Sturzo.
Now you see how risky statues are. How many nice little asses and poets trot over the Atlantic and catch sight of Liberty holding up this carrot of desire at arm's length, and fairly hear her say, as one does to one's pug dog, with a lump of sugar: "Beg! Beg!"--and "Jump! Jump, then!" And each little ass and poodle begins to beg and to jump, and there's a rare game round about Liberty, zap, zap, zapperty-zap!
Do lower the carrot, gentle Liberty, and let us talk nicely and sensibly. I don't like you as a _carotaia_, precious.
Talking about the moon, it is thrilling to read the announcements of Professor Pickering of Harvard, that it's almost a dead cert that there's life on our satellite. It is almost as certain that there's life on the moon as it is certain there is life on Mars. The professor bases his assertions on photographs--hundreds of photographs--of a crater with a circumference of thirty-seven miles. I'm not satisfied. I demand to know the yards, feet and inches. You don't come it over me with the triteness of these round numbers.
"Hundreds of photographic reproductions have proved irrefutably the springing up at dawn, with an unbelievable rapidity, of vast fields of foliage which come into blossom just as rapidly (sic!) and which disappear in a maximum period of eleven days."--Again I'm not satisfied. I want to know if they're cabbages, cress, mustard, or marigolds or dandelions or daisies. Fields of foliage, mark you. And _blossom_! Come now, if you can get so far, Professor Pickering, you might have a shrewd guess as to whether the blossoms are good to eat, or if they're purely for ornament.
I am only waiting at last for an aeroplane to land on one of these fields of foliage and find a donkey grazing peacefully. Hee-haw!
"The plates moreover show that great blizzards, snow-storms, and volcanic eruptions are also frequent." So no doubt the blossoms are edelweiss.
"We find," says the professor, "a living world at our very doors where life in some respects resembles that of Mars." All I can say is: "Pray come in, Mr. Moony. And how is your cousin Signor Martian?"
Now I'm sure Professor Pickering's photographs and observations are really wonderful. But his _explanations_! Come now, Columbia, where is your High-falutin' Nonsense trumpet? Vast fields of foliage which spring up at dawn (!!!) and come into blossom just as quickly (!!!!) are rather too flowery even for my flowery soul. But there, truth is stranger than fiction.
I'll bet my moon against the Professor's, anyhow.
So long, Columbia. _A riverderci._
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