Hopeless forevermore such a project. These abject, ape, wolf, ox, imp and other diabolic-animal specimens of humanity, who of the very gods could ever have commanded them by love? A collar round the neck, and a cart-whip flourished over the back; these, in a just and steady human hand, were what the gods would have appointed them; and now when, by long misconduct and neglect, they had sworn themselves into the Devil's regiments of the line, and got the seal of Chaos impressed on their visage, it was very doubtful whether even these would be of avail for the unfortunate commander of twelve hundred men! By "love," without hope except of peaceably teasing oakum, or fear except of a temporary loss of dinner, he was to guide these men, and wisely constrain them,--whitherward? No-whither: that was his goal, if you will think well of it; that was a second fundamental falsity in his problem. False in the warp and false in the woof, thought one of us; about as false a problem as any I have seen a good man set upon lately! To guide scoundrels by "love;" that is a false woof, I take it, a method that will not hold together; hardly for the flower of men will love alone do; and for the sediment and scoundrelism of men it has not even a chance to do. And then to guide any class of men, scoundrel or other, _No-whither_, which was this poor Captain's problem, in this Prison with oakum for its one element of hope or outlook, how can that prosper by "love" or by any conceivable method? That is a warp wholly false. Out of which false warp, or originally false condition to start from, combined and daily woven into by your false woof, or methods of "love" and such like, there arises for our poor Captain the falsest of problems, and for a man of his faculty the unfairest of situations. His problem was, not to command good men to do something, but bad men to do (with superficial disguises) nothing.
On the whole, what a beautiful Establishment here fitted up for the accommodation of the scoundrel-world, male and female! As I said, no Duke in England is, for all rational purposes which a human being can or ought to aim at, lodged, fed, tended, taken care of, with such perfection. Of poor craftsmen that pay rates and taxes from their day's wages, of the dim millions that toil and moil continually under the sun, we know what is the lodging and the tending. Of the Johnsons, Goldsmiths, lodged in their squalid garrets; working often enough amid famine, darkness, tumult, dust and desolation, what work _they_ have to do:--of these as of "spiritual backwoodsmen," understood to be preappointed to such a life, and like the pigs to killing, "quite used to it," I say nothing. But of Dukes, which Duke, I could ask, has cocoa, soup, meat, and food in general made ready, so fit for keeping him in health, in ability to do and to enjoy? Which Duke has a house so thoroughly clean, pure and airy; lives in an element so wholesome, and perfectly adapted to the uses of soul and body as this same, which is provided here for the Devil's regiments of the line? No Duke that I have ever known. Dukes are waited on by deleterious French cooks, by perfunctory grooms of the chambers, and expensive crowds of eye-servants, more imaginary than real: while here, Science, Human Intellect and Beneficence have searched and sat studious, eager to do their very best; they have chosen a real Artist in Governing to see their best, in all details of it, done. Happy regiments of the line, what soldier to any earthly or celestial Power has such a lodging and attendance as you here? No soldier or servant direct or indirect of God or of man, in this England at present. Joy to you, regiments of the line. Your Master, I am told, has his Elect, and professes to be "Prince of the Kingdoms of this World;" and truly I see he has power to do a good turn to those he loves, in England at least. Shall we say, May _he_, may the Devil give you good of it, ye Elect of Scoundrelism? I will rather pass by, uttering no prayer at all; musing rather in silence on the singular "worship of God," or practical "reverence done to Human Worth" (which is the outcome and essence of all real "worship" whatsoever) among the Posterity of Adam at this day.
For all round this beautiful Establishment, or Oasis of Purity, intended for the Devil's regiments of the line, lay continents of dingy poor and dirty dwellings, where the unfortunate not _yet_ enlisted into that Force were struggling manifoldly,--in their workshops, in their marble-yards and timber-yards and tan-yards, in their close cellars, cobbler-stalls, hungry garrets, and poor dark trade-shops with red-herrings and tobacco-pipes crossed in the window,--to keep the Devil out-of-doors, and not enlist with him. And it was by a tax on these that the Barracks for the regiments of the line were kept up. Visiting Magistrates, impelled by Exeter Hall, by Able-Editors, and the Philanthropic Movement of the Age, had given orders to that effect. Rates on the poor servant of God and of her Majesty, who still serves both in his way, painfully selling red-herrings; rates on him and his red-herrings to boil right soup for the Devil's declared Elect! Never in my travels, in any age or clime, had I fallen in with such Visiting Magistrates before. Reserved they, I should suppose, for these ultimate or penultimate ages of the world, rich in all prodigies, political, spiritual,--ages surely with such a length of ears as was never paralleled before.
If I had a commonwealth to reform or to govern, certainly it should not be the Devil's regiments of the line that I would first of all concentrate my attention on! With them I should be apt so make rather brief work; to them one would apply the besom, try to sweep _them_, with some rapidity into the dust-bin, and well out of one's road, I should rather say. Fill your thrashing-floor with docks, ragweeds, mugworths, and ply your flail upon them,--that is not the method to obtain sacks of wheat. Away, you; begone swiftly, _ye_ regiments of the line: in the name of God and of His poor struggling servants, sore put to it to live in these bad days, I mean to rid myself of you with some degree of brevity. To feed you in palaces, to hire captains and schoolmasters and the choicest spiritual and material artificers to expend their industries on you, No, by the Eternal! I have quite other work for that class of artists; Seven-and-twenty Millions of neglected mortals who have not yet quite declared for the Devil. Mark it, my diabolic friends, I mean to lay leather on the backs of you, collars round the necks of you; and will teach you, after the example of the gods, that this world is _not_ your inheritance, or glad to see you in it. You, ye diabolic canaille, what has a Governor much to do with you? You, I think, he will rather swiftly dismiss from his thoughts,--which have the whole celestial and terrestrial for their scope, and not the subterranean of scoundreldom alone. You, I consider, he will sweep pretty rapidly into some Norfolk Island, into some special Convict Colony or remote domestic Moorland, into some stone-walled Silent-System, under hard drill-sergeants, just as Rhadamanthus, and inflexible as he, and there leave you to reap what you have sown; he meanwhile turning his endeavors to the thousand-fold immeasurable interests of men and gods,--dismissing the one extremely contemptible interest of scoundrels; sweeping that into the cesspool, tumbling that over London Bridge, in a very brief manner, if needful! Who are you, ye thriftless sweepings of Creation, that we should forever be pestered with you? Have we no work to do but drilling Devil's regiments of the line?
If I had schoolmasters, my benevolent friend, do you imagine I would set them on teaching a set of unteachables, who as you perceive have already made up their mind that black is white,--that the Devil namely is the advantageous Master to serve in this world? My esteemed Benefactor of Humanity, it shall be far from me. Minds open to that particular conviction are not the material I like to work upon. When once my schoolmasters have gone over all the other classes of society from top to bottom; and have no other soul to try with teaching, all being thoroughly taught,--I will then send them to operate on _these_ regiments of the line: then, and, assure yourself, never till then. The truth is, I am sick of scoundreldom, my esteemed Benefactor; it always was detestable to me; and here where I find it lodged in palaces and waited on by the benevolent of the world, it is more detestable, not to say insufferable to me than ever.
Of Beneficence, Benevolence, and the people that come together to talk on platforms and subscribe five pounds, I will say nothing here; indeed there is not room here for the twentieth part of what were to be said of them. The beneficence, benevolence, and sublime virtue which issues in eloquent talk reported in the Newspapers, with the subscription of five pounds, and the feeling that one is a good citizen and ornament to society,--concerning this, there were a great many unexpected remarks to be made; but let this one, for the present occasion, suffice:--
My sublime benevolent friends, don't you perceive, for one thing, that here is a shockingly unfruitful investment for your capital of Benevolence; precisely the worst, indeed, which human ingenuity could select for you? "Laws are unjust, temptations great," &c. &c.: alas, I know it, and mourn for it, and passionately call on all men to help in altering it. But according to every hypothesis as to the law, and the temptations and pressures towards vice, here are the individuals who, of all the society, have yielded to said pressure. These are of the worst substance for enduring pressure! The others yet stand and make resistance to temptation, to the law's injustice; under all the perversities and strangling impediments there are, the rest of the society still keep their feet, and struggle forward, marching under the banner of Cosmos, of God and Human Virtue; these select Few, as I explain to you, are they who have fallen to Chaos, and are sworn into certain regiments of the line. A superior proclivity to Chaos is declared in these, by the very fact of their being here! Of all the generation we live in, these are the worst stuff. These, I say, are the Elixir of the Infatuated among living mortals: if you want the worst investment for your Benevolence, here you accurately have it. O my surprising friends! Nowhere so as here can you be certain that a given quantity of wise teaching bestowed, of benevolent trouble taken, will yield zero, or the net _Minimum_ of return. It is sowing of your wheat upon Irish quagmires; laboriously harrowing it in upon the sand of the seashore. O my astonishing benevolent friends!
Yonder, in those dingy habitations, and shops of red herring and tobacco-pipes, where men have not yet quite declared for the Devil; there, I say, is land: here is mere sea-beach. Thither go with your benevolence, thither to those dingy caverns of the poor; and there instruct and drill and manage, there where some fruit may come from it. And, above all and inclusive of all, cannot you go to those Solemn human Shams, Phantasm Captains, and Supreme Quacks that ride prosperously in every thoroughfare; and with severe benevolence, ask them, What they are doing here? They are the men whom it would behoove you to drill a little, and tie to the halberts in a benevolent manner, if you could! "We cannot," say you? Yes, my friends, to a certain extent you can. By many well-known active methods, and by all manner of passive methods, you can. Strive thitherward, I advise you; thither, with whatever social effort there may lie in you! The well-head and "consecrated" thrice-accursed chief fountain of all those waters of bitterness,--it is they, those Solemn Shams and Supreme