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OF TRUTH IN THINGS FALSE.
Error is a hardy plant; it flourisheth in every soil;
In the heart of the wise and good, alike with the wicked and foolish;
For there is no error so crooked, but it hath in it some lines of truth;
Nor is any poison so deadly, that it serveth not some wholesome use:
And the just man, enamoured of the right, is blinded by the speciousness
And the prudent, perceiving an advantage, is content to overlook the harm
On all things created remaineth the half-effaced signature of God,
Somewhat of fair and good, though blotted by the finger of corruption :
And if error cometh in like a flood, it mixeth with streams of truth,
And the Adversary loveth to have it so, for thereby many are decoyed.
Providence is dark in its permissions; yet one day, when all is known,
The universe of reason shall acknowledge how just and good were they;
For the wise man leaneth on his wisdom, and the righteous trusteth to his .
righteousness, And those who thirst for independence, are suffered to drink of disappoint
ment. Wherefore ? -- to prove and humble them; and to teach the idolaters of
truth, That it is but the ladder unto Him, on whom only they should trust.
THERE is truth in the wildest scheme that imaginative heat hath engen
dered, And a man may gather somewhat from the crudest theories of fancy: The alchemist laboureth in folly, but catcheth chance gleams of wisdom. And findeth out many inventions, though his crucible breed not gold; The sinner, toying with witchcraft, thinketh to delude his fellows,
But there be very spirits of evil, and what if they come at his bidding?
He is a bold bad man who dareth to tamper with the dead;
For their whereabout lieth in a mystery—that vestibule leading to Eternity,
The waiting-room for unclad ghosts, before the presence-chamber of their
Mind may act upon mind, though bodies be far divided;
For the life is in the blood, but souls communicate unseen:
And the heat of an excited intellect, radiating to its fellows,
Doth kindle dry leaves afar off, while the green wood around it is un.
warmed. The dog may have a spirit, as well as his brutal master; A spirit to live in happiness; for why should he be robbed of his exist
ence? Hath he not a conscience of evil, a glimmer of moral sense, Love and hatred, courage and fear, and visible shame and pride? There may be a future rest for the patient victims of the cruel; And a season allotted for their bliss, to compensate for unjust suffering. Spurn not at seeming error, but dig below its surface for the truth ; And beware of seeming truths, that grow on the roots of error: For comely are the apples that spring from the Dead Sea's cursed shore: But within are they dust and ashes, and the hand that plucketh them shall
A frequent similar effect argueth a constant cause :
Yet who hath counted the links that bind an omen to its issue?
Who hath expounded the law that rendereth calamities gregarious,
Pressing down with yet more woes the heavy-laden mourner?
Who knoweth wherefore a monsoon should swell the sails of the prosper.
Blithely speeding on their course the children of good luck ?
Who hath companioned a vision from the horn or ivory gate, (*)
Or met another's mind in his, and explained its presence ?
There is a secret somewhat in antipathies; and love is more than fancy;
Yea, and a palpable notice warneth of an instant danger;
For the soul hath its feelers, cobwebs floating on the wind,
That catch events in their approach with sure and apt presentiment,
So that some halo of attraction heraldeth a coming friend.
Investing in his likeness the stranger that passed on before;
And while the word is in thy mouth, behold thy word fulfilled,
And he of whom we spake can answer for himself.
O man, little hast thou learnt of truth in things most true,
How therefore shall thy blindness wot of truth in things most false ?
Thou hast not yet perceived the causes of life or moti
How then canst thou define the subtle sympathies of mind ?
For the spirit, sharpest and strongest when disease hath rent the body,
Hath welcomed kindred spirits in nightly visitations,
Or learnt from restless ghosts dark secrets of the living,
And helped slow justice to her prey by the dreadful teaching of a dream
VERILY, there is nothing so true, that the damps of error have not warp
ed it; Verily, there is nothing so false, that a sparkle of truth is not in it. For the enemy, the father of lies, the giant Upas of creation, Whose deadly shade hath blasted this once green garden of the Lord, Can but pervert the good, but may not create the evil ; He destroyeth, but cannot build ; for he is not antagonist deity : Mighty in his stolen power, yet is he a creature and a subject ; Not a maker of abstract wrong, but a spoiler of concrete right: The fiend hath not a royal crown ; he is but a prowling robber, Suffered, for some mysterious end, to haunt the King's highway; And the keen sword he beareth, once was a simple ploughshare; Yea, and his panoply of error is but a distortion of the truth : The sickle that once reaped righteousness, beaten from its useful curve, With axe, and spike, and bar, headeth the marauder's halbert. Seek not further, O man, to solve the dark riddle of sin; Suffice it, that thine own bad heart is to thee thine origin of evil.
Thou hast seen many sorrows, travel-stained pilgrim of the world,
But that which hath vexed thee most, hath been the looking for evil;
And though calamities have crossed thee, and misery been heaped on thy
Yet ills that never happened, have chiefly made thee wretched.
The sting of pain and the edge of pleasure are blunted by long expectation,
For the gall and the balm alike are diluted in the waters of patience:
And often thou sippest sweetness, ere the cup is dashed from thy lip;
Or drainest the gall of fear, while evil is passing by thy dwelling.
A man too careful of danger liveth in continual torment,
But a cheerful expecter of the best hath a fountain of joy within him:
Yea, though the breath of disappointment should chill the sanguine heart,
Speedily gloweth it again, warmed by the live embers of hope ;
Though the black and heavy surge close above the head for a moment,
Yet the happy buoyancy of Confidence riseth superior to Despair.
Verily, evils may be courted, may be wooed and won by distrust;
For the wise Physician of our weal loveth not an unbelieving spirit;
And to those giveth he good, who rely on his hand for good;
And those leaveth he to evil, who fear, but trust him not.
Ask for good, and hope it; for the ocean of good is fathomless;
Ask for good, and have it; for thy Friend would see thee happy:
But to the timid heart, to the child of unbelief and dread,
That leaneth on his own weak staff, and trusteth the sight of his eyes,
The evil he feared shall come, for the soil is ready for the seed,
And suspicion hath coldly put aside the hand that was ready to help him,
Therefore look up, sad spirit; he strong, thou coward heart,
Or fear will make thee wretched, though evil follow not behind:
Cease to anticipate misfortune,—there are still many chances of escape;
But if it come, be courageous : face it, and conquer thy calamity.
There is not an enemy so stout as to storm and take the fortress of the
Unless its infirmity turn traitor, and Fear unbar the gates.
The valiant standeth as a rock, and the billows break upon him;
The timorous is a skiff unmoored, tost and mocked at by a ripple;
The valiant holdeth fast to good, till evil wrench it from him ;
The timorous casteth it aside, to meet the worst half way:
Yet oftentimes is evil but a braggart, that provoketh and will not fight;
Or the feint of a subtle fencer, who measureth his thrust elsewhere :
Or perchance a blessing in a masque, sent to try thy trust,
The precious smiting of a friend, whose frowns are all in love:
Often the storm threateneth, but is driven to other climes,
And the weak hath quailed in fear, while the firm hath been glad in his