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And, knowing that Thou art, I know
Then suddenly, as if from deep
Find work; but find thy Master first,
“I have read that poem about work and worship to two people,” said Pelican, " and I asked them what they thought about it. One of them reflected deeply for a minute and a half, and then said it was 'very long,' which was so discouraging that I hastened to change the subject. I discovered afterwards that he had in his pocket a poem of his own on the subject of the preadamite world, covering four pages of foolscap, which he had intended to read to me; but I had quite unwittingly left him no time. This was a twofold misfortune: I lost an intellectual treat, and secured an unpleasantly depreciatory criticism. The other said he was always afraid of that vague religiousness which, he regretted to say, had such a fascination for many young men.
He wished my ideas had been clearer, and my poem more definite, concerning the great truths, etc., etc., you can imagine the rest. God Himself is always too indefinite for some people ; they want a fetish,-an infallible old man, or an infallible book, or a wire-drawn creed, pretty highly spiced with mysterious Eastern metaphors and very intelligible damnatory clauses. The Jews were not the only people who lusted after a sign; the evil and adulterous generation has not died out yet. But still the signs don't satisfy them; for it is a grand thing that God evermore makes people unsatisfied until they find satisfaction in Himself.”
To the opinion thus expressed Pelican always adhered with wonderful tenacity; but the vividness with which he realized the Incarnation as an eternal unveiling of God to him and to all men, saved him from anything like the mere “vague religiousness” which his good
critic so much dreaded. Every man's religious system has so much of his own individuality infused into it, and therefore contains so many apparent inconsistencies, that it is always difficult, and generally delusive, to attempt to sum it up in any single proposition or formula ; but I do not think I am far wrong when I say that the whole of Pelican's dogmatic faith might be expressed in the words he was never tired of quoting : —“The Son of God was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil.” “This," he used to say, “is what most people profess to believe; what to me is a certainty ; and yet I am called a heretic, not because my faith stops short too soon, but because it never stops short at all; and refuses with scorn to hear of a corner in the universe where the manifestation will be for ever powerless.
When Pelican got into this vein it was always impossible to bring him back to the subject from which he had digressed ; so we were not able to have much talk about his poems or about poetry in general. A few thoughts of his on poetical matters, in which he always felt intense interest, will, however, be found scattered up and down the following chapters.
a matter of course, had gained the reputation enjoyed by the dumb parrot, of thinking the more. We were not a large company, and the thought that so much intellectual force was lying unutilised was unendurable. But what could we do? We could not bring the rack and the 'thumbscrew into requisition : for, in spite of their often proved efficacy, these pleasant machines for compelling speech had gone finally out of fashion, and all the gentler and more modern means had been resorted to in vain. At last, one of our number whose mind was fertile in expedients, suggested the happy, though not very novel, idea of a manuscript magazine to be circulated among the members of the society; the projector expressing his firm conviction that the Brethren of the Guild of Golden Silence, as Pelican called our reticent friends, would enthusiastically avail themselves of an opportunity of delivering their souls, when such deliverance did not involve the ordeal of getting on their legs, stumbling over a few incoherent sentences, and finally breaking down utterly, in full view of an audience which was not always perfectly sympathetic. A special meeting of the society was called to organize the new venture; and to give all possible dignity to the undertaking, it was held at the house of the president, and prefaced by an elaborate supper. We were rather disappointed that none of the silences would take the conduct of the magazine ; but as several of them promised to become contributors, we had to be content. The next thing to be settled was a name for our new organ, and on this matter no one was silent; but every one had a different suggestion to make. “ The Thinker,” “The Brookfield Literary Magazine," "The Bowie-knife,” “The Casket,” “The Experiment,” “Odds and Ends," “Inspirations and Imbecilities;”—these were among the many titles that were proposed either in earnest or in jest. Some were at once rejected with disdain, others were thought too imposing or too commonplace, and none were generally considered satisfactory. During the discussion, Pelican had been busily drawing upon a piece of cardboard ; and when we seemed in the condition of greatest bewilderment, he handed to the chairman the result of his labours as a suggestion for a title and a design for the cover. At the top, in the centre was a representation, of the usual round canvas mark used at archery meetings, while above it and on each side of it were flying arrows, some going right, and some—I fear the greater number— hopelessly wrong. Below, in ornamented letters composed of bows and quivers, was inscribed