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To the true ordinance of human life,
Through mere presumption that is my affair,
And truly a grave one; but as grave I think
Your affair, yours, the specially observed, —
Each favored person that perceives his path
Pointed him, inch by inch, and looks above
For guidance, through the mazes of this world,
In what we call its meanest life-career
-Not how to manage Europe properly,
But how keep open shop, and yet pay rent,

Rear household, and make both ends meet, the same.
I say, such man is no less tasked than I
To duly take the path appointed him
By whatsoever sign he recognize.
Our insincerity on both our heads!
No matter what the object of a life,

Small work or large, — the making thrive a shop,
Or seeing that an empire take no harm,

There are known fruits to judge obedience by.
You've read a ton's weight, now, of newspaper
Lives of me, gabble about the kind of prince
You know my work i' the rough; I ask you, then,
Do I appear subordinated less

To hand-impulsion, one prime push for all,
Than little lives of men, the multitude
That cried out, every quarter of an hour,
For fresh instructions, did or did not work,
And praised in the odd minutes?

Such is the reason why I acquiesced




In doing what seemed best for me to do,
So as to please myself on the great scale,
Having regard to immortality

No less than life - did that which head and heart
Prescribed my hand, in measure with its means

Of doing

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used my special stock of power

Not from the aforesaid head and heart alone,
But every sort of helpful circumstance,
Some problematic and some nondescript :

All regulated by the single care

I' the last resort- that I made thoroughly serve
The when and how, toiled where was need, reposed
As resolutely to the proper point,

Braved sorrow, courted joy, to just one end:
Namely, that just the creature I was bound

To be, I should become, nor thwart at all
God's purpose in creation. I conceive
No other duty possible to man,
Highest mind, lowest mind,

no other law

By which to judge life failure or success:
What folks call being saved or cast away.

Such was my rule of life; I worked my best,
Subject to ultimate judgment, God's not man's.
Well then, this settled, take your tea, I beg,

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And meditate the fact, 'twixt sip and sip, -
This settled why I pleased myself, you saw,
By turning blot and blot into a line,

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Why, just now,

O' the little scale, we'll try now (as your tongue
Tries the concluding sugar-drop) what's meant
To please me most o' the great scale.
With nothing else to do within my reach,
Did I prefer making two blots one line
To making yet another separate

Third blot, and leaving those I found unlinked ?
It meant, I like to use the thing I find,
Rather than strive at unfound novelty :

I make the best of the old, nor try for new.
Such will to act, such choice of action's way,
Constitute when at work on the great scale,
Driven to their farthest natural consequence
By all the help from all the means
Particular faculty of serving God,
Instinct for putting power to exercise
Upon some wish and want o' the time, I prove
Possible to mankind as best I may.

This constitutes my mission,

Namely, to rule men

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my own

grant the phrase, —

men within my reach,

To order, influence and dispose them so
As render solid and stabilify

Mankind in particles, the light and loose,

For their good and my pleasure in the act.

Such good accomplished proves twice good to me
Good for its own sake, as the just and right,

And, in the effecting also, good again

To me its agent, tasked as suits my taste.

Is this much easy to be understood

At first glance? Now begin the steady gaze!

My rank

(if I must tell you simple truth Telling were else not worth the whiff o' the weed

I lose for the tale's sake) — dear, my rank i' the world Is hard to know and name precisely err


may, but scarcely over-estimate

My style and title.

Do I class with men

Most useful to their fellows? Possibly,

Therefore, in some sort, best; but, greatest mind

And rarest nature? Evidently no.

A conservator, call me, if you please,

Not a creator nor destroyer: one

Who keeps the world safe. I profess to trace
The broken circle of society,

Dim actual order, I can redescribe

Not only where some segment silver-true

Stays clear, but where the breaks of black commence Baffling you all who want the eye to probe

As I make out yon problematic thin

White paring of your thumb-nail outside there,
Above the plaster-monarch on his steed -
See an inch, name an ell, and prophesy

O' the rest that ought to follow, the round moon
Now hiding in the night of things: that round,
I labor to demonstrate moon enough
For the month's purpose, that society,
Render efficient for the age's need:
Preserving you in either case the old,
Nor aiming at a new and greater thing,
A sun for moon, a future to be made
By first abolishing the present law:
No such proud task for me by any means!
History shows you men whose master-touch
Not so much modifies as makes anew:
Minds that transmute nor need restore at all.
A breath of God made manifest in flesh
Subjects the world to change, from time to time,
Alters the whole conditions of our race
Abruptly, not by unperceived degrees
Nor play of elements already there,
But quite new leaven, leavening the lump,
And liker, so, the natural process. See!
Where winter reigned for ages - by a turn
I' the time, some star-change, (ask geologists,)
The ice-tracts split, clash, splinter and disperse,
And there's an end of immobility,
Silence, and all that tinted pageant, base
To pinnacle, one flush from fairy-land
Dead-asleep and deserted somewhere,


As a fresh sun, wave, spring and joy outburst.
Or else the earth it is, time starts from trance,
Her mountains tremble into fire, her plains
Heave blinded by confusion: what result?
New teeming growth, surprises of strange life
Impossible before, a world broke up

And re-made, order gained by law destroyed.
Not otherwise, in our society

Follow like portents, all as absolute
Regenerations they have birth at rare
Uncertain unexpected intervals

O' the world, by ministry impossible
Before and after fulness of the days:

Some dervish desert-spectre, swordsman, saint,
Lawgiver, lyrist, - oh, we know the names !
Quite other these than I.
Our time requires

No such strange potentate,

who else would dawn,

No fresh force till the old have spent itself.
Such seems the natural economy.

To shoot a beam into the dark, assists:

To make that beam do fuller service, spread
And utilize such bounty to the height,
That assists also, - and that work is mine.
I recognize, contemplate, and approve
The general compact of society,

Not simply as I see effected good,

But good i' the germ, each chance that's possible
I' the plan traced so far: all results, in short,

For better or worse of the operation due

To those exceptional natures, unlike mine,
Who, helping, thwarting, conscious, unaware,
Did somehow manage to so far describe
This diagram left ready to my hand,
Waiting my turn of trial. I see success,
See failure, see what makes or mars throughout.
How shall I else but help complete this plan
Of which I know the
purpose and approve,
By letting stay therein what seems to stand,
And adding good thereto of easier reach
To-day than yesterday?

So much, no more!

Whereon, "No more than that?"-inquire aggrieved Half of my critics: "nothing new at all?

The old plan saved, instead of a sponged slate

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And fresh-drawn figure? - while, "So much as that?"

Object their fellows of the other faith:
"Leave uneffaced the crazy labyrinth
Of alteration and amendment, lines
Which every dabster felt in duty bound
To signalize his power of pen and ink
By adding to a plan once plain enough?

Why keep each fool's bequeathment, scratch and blur
Which overscrawl and underscore the piece

Nay, strengthen them by touches of your own?"

Well, that's my mission, so I serve the world,
Figure as man o' the moment, - in default
Of somebody inspired to strike such change
Into society
- from round to square,

The ellipsis to the rhomboid, how you please,
As suits the size and shape o' the world he finds.
But this I can, and nobody my peer,

Do the best with the least change possible:
Carry the incompleteness on, a stage,

Make what was crooked straight, and roughness smooth,
And weakness strong: wherein if I succeed,

It will not prove the worst achievement, sure,

In the eyes at least of one man, one I look
Nowise to catch in critic company :

To wit, the man inspired, the genius' self
Destined to come and change things thoroughly.
He, at least, finds his business simplified,
Distinguishes the done from undone, reads
Plainly what meant and did not mean this time
We live in, and I work on, and transmit

To such successor: he will operate

On good hard substance, not mere shade and shine.
Let all my critics, born to idleness

And impotency, get their good, and have

Their hooting at the giver: I am deaf

Who find great good in this society,

Great gain, the purchase of great labor. Touch

The work I may and must, but


In every fall o' the finger-tip, no doubt.
Perhaps I find all good there's warrant for

I' the world as yet: nay, to the end of time,
Since evil never means part company

With mankind, only shift side and change shape.
I find advance i' the main, and notably
The Present an improvement on the Past,
And promise for the Future -

which shall prove

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