Relapse of a Promising Young Novel Into a Jolly Devil-May-Care Book



The fact is, I've been as sick as a dog. Not a nice dog, either! I'm just over my tuberculosis, which has been neuralgia, rheumatism, swamp fever, abscess of the liver, cancer, arthritis, osteoma, and one or two other things in turn, and last night I though it must be gall-stones. But undeniably life's hard with gas leaking everywhere and poisoning one, and a series of sopranos taking lessons o'erhead, and Seven Tatosian Brothers ever and anon hammering tacks into carpets in the exercise of their unholy trade. (Curse all Armenians, anyhow!) But I'd take no heed to the pack of 'em had I but a story to tell, and I've none; I'm setting down plain truth, as I see it, for the God of Things as they Ought to Be. This novel's a tract in praise of chastity and some such virtues of true Christian man and woman; and I'll say nothing but the truth – Shall be Truth in armour, mind you, with rich furniture and a broidered veil upon it; but Sir Truth shall his name be, and no masquerader. And so I go aghast; for so great and so wonderful is the story of the Life and Adventures of Sir Roger Bloxam that it is well I have not That to write. (I told you a long while since, did ye believe? Let him that did take another drink, and a long one, praising me, and himself, and the sweet God of Truth that did make such understanding between us!) But I was better off before, in New Orleans, not a doubt of it, Edward or no Edward; for there in Dauphine Street there was no need of getting up or going to bed. I knew nobody, and nobody knew me; my loves were casual and lonely as my lunches. This is the proper life for the pure poet who would commune evermore with Beauty, enjoy the Beatific Vision, pace the sapphire pavement of the Throne of God, and compose hymns in praise of Apis over the Filet de Boeuf Robespierre at Antoine's, or of Pitma over Sister Green, the smooth, muscular, black-purple glory of her body was like the stone of that many-breasted beauty Diana in Neapolis. (Poor U.S.A.! as Porphyria Poppoea would Morse-Code if Sir Roger Bloxam ate some horrible bad food, “in England we've a New Forest, date before 1100; and in Italy a New City, date before their fabled Jesus.”) Which makes me wonder whether Jesus was not an American. Joseph and Mary are both common names here ('here', hell, hell, hell, that I must still write 'here'!) There are several people in New York who at least look like Jews, talk like Jews, think like Jews, smell like Jews. The parents of Jesus may well have been Americans touring in Palestine. It is very American of Jesus that at twelve years old he should have been teaching all the most learned men their business, and that he should have 'frozen out' the crowd in the Temple, which appears to have been the Wall Street of Jerusalem. The sublime ignorance of Jesus, his comic beliefs in the flood and other idiotic fables, his imbecile Puritanism, his determination to make God damn every one who disagreed with him, though he was himself too proud to fight, his servility to the Romans, his poor bluff about the 'twelve legions of angels' which impressed Pilate as much as the existing bluff impresses Germany – “a million men between sunset and dawn” Bryan, Wm. Jennings of that ilk ( – oh well, they made good; but no matter!) – all these things speak Jesus an American. Methinks I'll quit me novel awhile, and write this up for the Sunday papers, and get me some of their gods. N.B. There had better be plenty; this chapter has hardly been 'jolly' up to now as the title did so loudly promise. Diseases – Jews – Americans: there's a descent of Avernus for you! A little dinner might brighten me up; say a Bronx, Little Necks, Gumbo, Shad, Jumbo Squab, Squash, Terrapin, Individual Miss Jordan, Pecanisques, Fudge Sundae: oh help! Great Sprites of Soy, of Brillat-Savarin, of your pity hear me! Brighten me up? – great Gaster, pardon me my sins! My grandfather's grandfather laid down a pretty pipe of gout-podagra in the cellars of my veins; but what should I hand on to my descendants if I drank a 'Welch-ball'? Don't worry, you wouldn't have any descendants.

God help me! God help me! God help me! I've got to get up; so that's the end of the chapter.

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