Alas! Poor Yorick!

Not the Life of Sir Roger Bloxam



(This chapter may be omitted with advantage.)

So ho! my hearties! then I have you at the point desired. You think I mean to trick you with infinite digression — a Sterne chase of the Absolute. So ho! the will I e’en slip in a page of concise important facts, the basis of our whole work, even as a nymph surprised slips into her well, or as a physician slips his thermometer under your tongue. (We’ll hope so.) And so we go about on the other tack, and gain a furlong on you all, unready skippers that you are, foolish virgins indeed, for that you will never come to the love interest. This is a bracing story, the yarn of a lone wolf, the best of Easter gifts for a Boy Scout; there is no sex in it. This is a brave book, a chaste book, the Book Valiant, the Book of a Loyal Knight, the Bible of a Parzival. C.W. Leadbeater shall not read Our Story; it shall not be filmed in Pathé or serialized in the Woman’s Monthly. No, brother Sir Knights, gadzooks, gramercy on us! This Book be your Romaunt, the pillow of your slumbers, the candle of your vigils; and you shall salute me Guardian of the Graal, because I stood with Shakespeare and Aristophanes and Apuleius and Cervantes and Rabelais and Balzac and Sir Richard Burton who liked life whole and wholesome, hardy to the four winds, not mewling, puking, piffling, twaddling, bellelettrizing, Dameauxcameliarizing, Murgerizing, Lukizing, Omarizing, Wertherizing, Littlenellizing, sentimentalizing, squalling, squawking, weeping, deploring, and all the other participles in the language and outside it that may be quintessentialized as finding favour with the burgess. For you are cowardly dogs, you grocers, peddlers, Germans and Angles, and I’ll none of you in Our Story. For us is the lusty Don, the fierce Egyptian, the black Irishman, the hot little devil of a Frenchman; but deuce a fat ox-man that sits down and counts the money he has stolen, and lets life and adventures pass him by.

Sir Roger Bloxam was of an Irish father, and a Cornish mother — putting aside all that business about the nebula, where, of course, he originally began. He was born in rebel Cork, and his first cry was interpreted by his father as “To hell with the bloody English!” It’s a durthy lie; he was born in the very centre of England, just over the way from Stratford, at a Spa on the Leam. His mother was a Bishop, which is a corruption of Episkopos, for she traced her ancestry to a Greek, who had come to Cornwall with the Phoenicians to get tin; and that Greek was of Egyptian stock. I think Pythagoras had a thumb in the pie somewhere, for Episkopos is a corruption of Hapi-Sebek, so that there was honest crocodile blood and Nile water in the family. And the Nile is the daughter of the Mountains by the Moon; and both these are Chinese, for their names are given by Fohi in his trigrams; so that was where Sir Roger got his Mongolian appearance. The mother blood was very strong in that race; the boy looked just as much a girl as any colleen, and had the fascinating ways of a wench from his cradle.

As to the Bloxam side of the family, it was Greek also. Bloxam is plainly Floxam from Phlogs, a flame; whence, oh my lissome ones, we know that his great ancestor was the Sun. I have no time to tell you about fulgur, and flagellum; for I must whisper just one word of woe: Bloxam was not his name at all. Not his name, at all, at all, at all. No, sir! It is only the echo of the name of his name. His real name is a terrible secret, gay, porcine, choral, charitable, stiff, brilliant, dancing, horrific, ghrshu, ghrshoi (as Rabindranath Tagore would say) a brush name, a name like a hedgehog, a bristling name, a starry name, the secret title of the Master of all the Druids, a name so stupendous, tremendous, venerable and reverend, so unspeakable, unutterable, ineffable, incommunicable, indicible and aphasic that I have written it all over this book in characters so large that I hope it may escape observation. By the hand of Fatma, what a chapter! But genealogies are always the devil; even Saint Paul found it made trouble for the early Christians. However, be done with it! On to the Characteristic Incidents of Infancy. I can’t do these; for one thing, I can’t remember. But I’ll steal all the Dionysus and Hercules thunder, and that of any other Famous Infants; and I’ll fake the chapter somehow to look respectable enough. Mothers, be prepared to shed warm tears of exquisite whatever-it-is; race-suicides, thank God, you’re out of it! Maidens, be warned; old maids, regret! Observe, nobody is altogether happy; we want to put our money on all the horses in the race, and win every bet. No, Ada; no, Evangeline; no, Mimi; no, Gellia, Chloe, Lalage, Daphne, Chrysis, Sappho, Doris, Gerda, Jeanne, Rita, Le;’a, Mabel; no, all of you; to be or not to be, that is the question; to be both or neither at the same time is to be a Buddhist, and a Bhikkhu or a Phoongye or a Sayadaw or a Mahathera at that, probably an Arhan and certainly a Srotapatti — which is going too far, even for sick girls as you, my satellites, my comets, my meteors, my planets that you are. Keep to your orbits; let who will be good, be clever!

Now you’ve mixed me all up, and we must broach a fresh hogshead of absinthe.

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