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full of it.—“Love's Questionings.”—Comedy and tragedy.
Y friend, Paul Pelican, has gone from me, and I
am left alone. I am beginning, for the first time in my life, to realize the meaning and the horror of loneliness. We lived side by side, mind by mind, heart by heart, through years not many in number, but all crowded with pleasant meetings; and now we are separated by the distance between two worlds. In the absolutely true and awful sense of the word he can never be dead to me, for there is a friendship over which the thing we call Death has no power; and this friendship has been (shall I not say, it is ?) ours. Still I am bereaved. Time and space are no gods, but they are powerful demons; and though they can never take him from me, they have taken the things next in preciousness--the sound of his merry laugh and the sight of his ever-welcome face. Them I can never recall from out of the silence and the darkness; but the witch of memory helps me to bring some phantasm of him back to earth, and the following pages are the result of her spells. I write them first for myself, but not less for
any who may be induced to read them, believing with our great modern philosopher that “all men are, to an unspeakable degree, brothers ; each man's life a strange emblem of every man's ; and that human portraits, faithfully drawn, are of all pictures the welcomest on human walls."
Paul Pelican was the name of my friend ; that is, the name by which these pages shall know him. What matters it whether this were the name by which he was known to his tailor and bootmaker, to the old man who weekly sold him his four ounces of fragrant smoking mixture? If he never had a characteristic appellation before, let me give him one now as a parting present ; let no meaningless Smith or Jones intrude upon ground dedicated to a true dweller in the wilderness. Such he was always; for though, in a sense, it is true that the original man who dares to live his own life and think his own thoughts finds companionship everywhere, it is equally true, in another sense, that he finds it nowhere. I do not mean to call Pelican a genius; he had few of the qualities which we associate with that great word. But he was distinguished from the multitude by a passionate eagerness to get at the central truth of things; a contempt for all convenient compromises ; a spirit of wild rebellion against the coarse material facts and the “vested interests that stood in the way of great ideas; and, in spite of all these, a curiously intense and seemingly absurd reverence for the men and things that he fancied he had tested and found worthy. A man whose beliefs and disbeliefs, enthusiasms and indifferences, were all “caviare to the general"; who could not be labelled, and of whom, therefore, little could be made in this classifying age; who refused to listen to the ten thousand shrieking voices which now lacerate the air, bidding every man choose his party and take his side. None of the party uniforms fitted him, so he refused them all; but, so far as I could see, gained little by his refusal but misapprehension and contempt. “There are people,” said a writer in the Saturday Review, “whose appreciation of a truth seems to depend upon its capability of being neatly rounded off and closely packed in a convenient formula ;” and there are also people whose appreciation of character is of the same order : they prefer intelligible vice to incomprehensible virtue ; and, while they will tolerate anything they can understand, it is their misfortune to be able to understand nothing that is not cut down to one of the few approved patterns.
I cannot, however, speak for Pelican, but must leave him to speak for himself, as satisfactorily as may be, in the following pages. I shall have nothing to do but to relate those incidents in our friendship which throw any light upon those spoken and written words of his which seem to me more or less worthy of some permanent record. A few of the books which were his friends are now mine; a few of his pictures glorify my walls;