|Chapter 31||CHAPTER XXXII||Chapter 33|
SUNDRY DEVICES OF THE PHILISTINES
EANWHILE the People of the Field had watched Pseudopolis burn, and had wondered what would befall them. They had not long to wonder, for next day the Fields were occupied, without any resistance by the inhabitants.
"The People of the Field," said they, "have never fought, and for them to begin now would be a very unheard-of thing indeed."
So the Fields were captured by the Philistines, and Chloris and Jurgen and all the People of the Field were judged summarily. They were declared to be obsolete illusions, whose merited doom was to be relegated to limbo. To Jurgen this appeared unreasonable.
"For I am no illusion," he asserted. "I am manifestly flesh and blood, and in addition, I am the high King of Eubonia, and no less. Why, in disputing these facts you contest circumstances that are so well known hereabouts as to rank among mathematical certainties. And that makes you look foolish, as I tell you for your own good."
This vexed the leaders of the Philistines, as it always vexes people to be told anything for their own good. "We would have you know," said they, "that we are not mathematicians; and that, moreover, we have no kings in Philistia, where all must do what seems to be expected of them, and have no other law."
How then can you be the leaders of Philistia?"
"Why, it is expected that women and priests should behave unaccountably. Therefore all we who are women or priests do what we will in Philistia, and the men there obey us. And it is we, the priests of Philistia, who do not think you can possibly have any flesh and blood under a shirt which we recognise to be a conventional figure of speech. It does not stand to reason. And certainly you could not ever prove such a thing by mathematics; and to say so is nonsense."
"But I can prove it by mathematics, quite irrefutably. I can prove anything you require of me by whatever means you may prefer," said Jurgen, modestly, "for the simple reason that I am a monstrous clever fellow."
Then spoke the wise Queen Dolores, saying: "I have studied mathematics. I will question this young man, in my tent to-night, and in the morning I will report the truth as to his claims. Are you content to endure this interrogatory, my spruce young fellow who wear the shirt of a king?"
Jurgen looked full upon her: she was lovely as a hawk is lovely: and of all that Jurgen saw Jurgen approved. He assumed the rest to be in keeping: and deduced that Dolores was a fine woman.
"Madame and Queen," said Jurgen, "I am content. And I can promise to deal fairly with you."
So that evening Jurgen was conducted into the purple tent of Queen Dolores of Philistia. It was quite dark there, and Jurgen went in alone, and wondering what would happen next: but this scented darkness he found of excellent augury, if only because it prevented his shadow from following him.
"Now, you who claim to be flesh and blood, and King of Eubonia, too," says the voice of Queen Dolores, "what is this nonsense you were talking about proving any such claims by mathematics?"
"Well, but my mathematics," replied Jurgen, "are Praxagorean."
"What, do you mean Praxagoras of Cos?"
"As if," scoffed Jurgen, "anybody had ever heard of any other Praxagoras!"
"But he, as I recall, belonged to the medical school of the Dogmatici," observed the wise Queen Dolores, "and was particularly celebrated for his researches in anatomy. Was he, then, also a mathematician?"
"The two are not incongruous, madame, as I would be delighted to demonstrate."
"Oh, nobody said that! For, indeed, it does seem to me I have heard of this Praxagorean system of mathematics, though, I confess, I have never studied it."
"Our school, madame, postulates, first of all, that since the science of mathematics is an abstract science, it is best inculcated by some concrete example."
Said the Queen: "But that sounds rather complicated."
"It occasionally leads to complications," Jurgen admitted, "through a choice of the wrong example. But the axiom is no less true."
"Come, then, and sit next to me on this couch, if you can find it in the dark; and do you explain to me what you mean."
"Why, madame, by a concrete example I mean one that is perceptible to any of the senses-as to sight or hearing, or touch-"
"Oh, oh!" said the Queen, "now I perceive what you mean by a concrete example. And grasping this, I can understand that complications must of course arise from a choice of the wrong example."
"Well, then, madame, it is first necessary to implant in you, by the force of example, a lively sense of the peculiar character, and virtues and properties, of each of the numbers upon which is based the whole science of Praxagorean mathematics. For in order to convince you thoroughly, we must start far down, at the beginning of all things."
"I see," said the Queen, "or rather, in this darkness, cannot see at all, but I perceive your point. Your opening interests me: and you may go on."
"Now ONE, or the monad," says Jurgen, "is the principle and the end of all: it reveals the sublime knot which binds together the chain of causes: it is the symbol of identity, of equality, of existence, of conservation, and of general harmony." And Jurgen emphasised these characteristics vigorously. In brief, ONE is a symbol of the union of things it introduces that generating virtue which is the cause of all combinations: and consequently ONE is, a good principle."
"Ah, ah!" said Queen Dolores, "I heartily admire a good principle. But what has become of your concrete example?"
"It is ready for you, madame: there is but ONE Jurgen."
"Oh, I assure you, I am not yet convinced of that. Still, the audacity of your example will help me to remember ONE, whether or not you prove to be really unique."
"Now, Two, or the dyad, the origin of contrasts-"
Jurgen went on penetratingly to demonstrate that Two was a symbol of diversity and of restlessness and of disorder, ending in collapse and separation: and was accordingly an evil principle. Thus was the life of every man made wretched by the struggle between his Two components, his soul and his body; and thus was the rapture of expectant parents considerably abated by the advent of TWINS.
THREE, or the triad, however, since everything was composed of three substances, contained the most sublime mysteries, which Jurgen duly communicated. We must remember, he pointed out, that Zeus carried a TRIPLE thunderbolt, and Poseidon a TRIDENT, whereas Ades was guarded by a dog with THREE heads: this in addition to the omnipotent brothers themselves being a TRIO.
Thus Jurgen continued to impart the Praxagorean significance of each digit separately: and by and by the Queen was declaring his flow of wisdom was superhuman.
"Ah, but, madame, not even the wisdom of a king is without limit. EIGHT, I repeat, then, is appropriately the number of the Beatitudes. And NINE, or the ennead, also, being the multiple of THREE, should be regarded as sacred--"
The Queen attended docilely to his demonstration of the peculiar properties of NINE. And when he had ended she confessed that beyond doubt NINE should be regarded as miraculous. But she repudiated his analogues as to the muses, the lives of a cat, and how many tailors made a man.
"Rather, I shall remember always," she declared, "that King Jurgen of Eubonia is a NINE days' wonder."
"Well, madame," said Jurgen, with a sigh, "now that we have reached NINE, I regret to say we have exhausted the digits."
"Oh, what a pity!" cried Queen Dolores. "Nevertheless, I will concede the only illustration I disputed; there is but ONE Jurgen: and certainly this Praxagorean system of mathematics is a fascinating study." And promptly she commenced to plan Jurgen's return with her into Philistia, so that she might perfect herself in the higher branches of mathematics. "For you must teach me calculus and geometry and all other sciences in which these digits are employed. We can arrange some compromise with the priests. That is always possible with the priests of Philistia, and indeed the priests of Sesphra can be made to help anybody in anything. And as for your Hamadryad, I will attend to her myself."
But, no," says Jurgen, "I am ready enough in all conscience to compromise elsewhere: but to compound with the forces of Philistia is the one thing I cannot do."
"Do you mean that, King Jurgen?" The Queen was astounded.
"I mean it, my dear, as I mean nothing else. You are in many ways an admirable people, and you are in all ways a formidable people. So I admire, I dread, I avoid, and at the very last pinch I defy. For you are not my people, and willy-nilly my gorge rises against your laws, as equally insane and abhorrent. Mind you, though, I assert nothing. You may be right in attributing wisdom to these laws; and certainly I cannot go so far as to say you are wrong: but still, at the same time-! That is the way I feel about it. So I, who compromise with everything else, can make no compromise with Philistia. No, my adored Dolores, it is not a virtue, rather it is an instinct with me, and I have no choice."
Even Dolores, who was Queen of all the Philistines, could perceive that this man spoke truthfully.
"I am sorry," says she, with real regret, "for you could be much run after in Philistia."
"Yes," said Jurgen, "as an instructor in mathematics."
"But, no, King Jurgen, not only in mathematics, "said Dolores, reasonably. "There is poetry, for instance! For they tell me you are a poet, and a great many of my people take poetry quite seriously, I believe. Of course, I do not have much time for reading myself. So you can be the Poet Laureate of Philistia, on any salary you like. And you can teach us all your ideas by writing beautiful poems about them. And you and I can be very happy together."
"Teach, teach! there speaks Philistia, and very temptingly, too, through an adorable mouth, that would bribe me with praise and fine food and soft days for ever. It is a thing that happens rather often, though. And I can but repeat that art is not a branch of pedagogy!"
"Really, I am heartily sorry. For apart from mathematics, I like you, King Jurgen, just as a person."
"I, too, am sorry, Dolores. For I confess to a weakness for the women of Philistia."
"Certainly you have given me no cause to suspect you of any weakness in that quarter," observed Dolores," in the long while you have been alone with me, and have talked so wisely and have reasoned so deeply. I am afraid that after to-night I shall find all other men more or less superficial. Heigho! and I shall probably weep my eyes out to-morrow when you are relegated to limbo. For that is what the priests will do with you, King Jurgen, on one plea or another, if you do not conform to t he laws of Philistia."
"And that one compromise I cannot make! Ah, but even now I have a plan wherewith to escape your priests: and failing that, I possess a cantrap to fall back upon in my hour of direst need. MY private affairs are thus not yet in a hopeless or even in a dejected condition. This fact now urges me to observe that TEN, or the decade, is the measure of all, since it contains all the numeric relations and harmonies-"
So they continued their study of mathematics until it was time for Jurgen to appear again before his judges. And in the morning Queen Dolores sent word to her priests that she was too sleepy to attend their council, but that the man was indisputably flesh and blood, amply deserved to be a king, and as a mathematician had not his peer.
Now a court was held by the Philistines to decide whether or not King Jurgen should be relegated to limbo. And when the judges were prepared for judging there came into the court a great tumble-bug, rolling in front of him his loved and properly housed young ones. With the creature came pages, in black and white, bearing a sword, a staff and a lance.
This insect looked at Jurgen, and its pincers rose erect in horror. The bug cried to the three judges, "Now, by St. Anthony! this Jurgen must forthwith be relegated to limbo, for he is offensive and lewd and lascivious and indecent."
"And how can that be?" says Jurgen.
"You are offensive," the bug replied, "because this page has a sword which I choose to say is not a sword. You are lewd because that page has a lance which I prefer to think is not a lance. You are lascivious because yonder page has a staff which I elect to declare is not a staff. And finally, you are indecent for reasons of which a description would be objectionable to me, and which therefore I must decline to reveal to anybody."
"Well, that sounds logical," says Jurgen, "but still, at the same time, it would be no worse for an admixture of common sense. For you gentlemen can see for yourselves, by considering these pages fairly and as a whole, that these pages bear a sword and a lance and a staff, and nothing else whatever; and that all the lewdness is in the insectival mind of him who itches to be calling these things by other names."
The judges said nothing as yet. But they that guarded Jurgen, and all the other Philistines, stood to this side and to that side with their eyes shut tight, and saying: "We decline to look at the pages fairly and as a whole, because to look might seem to imply a doubt of what the tumble-bug has decreed. Besides, as long as the tumble-bug has reasons which he declines to reveal, his reasons stay unanswerable, and you are plainly a prurient rascal who are making trouble for yourself."
"To the contrary," says Jurgen, "I am a poet, and I make literature."
"But in Philistia to make literature and to make trouble for yourself are synonyms," the tumble-bug explained. "I know, for already we of Philistia have been pestered by three of these makers of literature. Yes, there was Edgar, whom I starved and hunted until I was tired of it: then I chased him up a back alley one night, and knocked out those annoying brains of his. And there was Walt, whom I chivvied and battered from place to place, and made a paralytic of him: and him, too, I labelled offensive and lewd and lascivious and indecent. Then later there was Mark, whom I frightened into disguising himself in a clown's suit, so that nobody might suspect him to be a maker of literature: indeed, I frightened him so that he hid away the greater part of what he had made until after he was dead, and I could not get at him. That was a disgusting trick to play on me, I consider. Still, these are the only three detected makers of literature that have ever infested Philistia, thanks be to goodness and my vigilance, but for both of which we might have been no more free from makers of literature than are the other countries."
"Now, but these three," cried Jurgen, "are the glory of Philistia: and of all that Philistia has produced it is these three alone, whom living ye made least of, that to-day are honoured wherever art is honoured, and where nobody bothers one way or the other about Philistia."
"What is art to me and my way of living?" replied the tumble- bug, wearily "I have no concern with art and letters and the other lewd idols of foreign nations. I have in charge the moral welfare of my young, whom I roll here before me, and trust with St. Anthony's aid to raise in time to be God-fearing tumble- bugs like me, delighting in what is proper to their nature. For the rest, I have never minded dead men being well-spoken of. No, no, my lad; once, whatever I may do means nothing t o you, and once you are really rotten, you will find the tumble bug friendly enough. Meanwhile I am paid to protest that living persons are offensive and lewd and lascivious and indecent, and one must live."
Then the Philistines who stood to this side and to that side said in indignant unison: "And we, the reputable citizenry of Philistia, are not at all in sympathy with those who would take any protest against the tumble-bug as a justification of what they are pleased to call art. The harm done by the tumble-bug seems to us very slight, whereas the harm done by the self-styled artist may be very great."
Jurgen now looked more attentively at this queer creature: and he saw that the tumble-bug was malodorous, certainly, but at bottom honest and well-meaning; and this seemed to Jurgen the saddest thing he had found among the Philistines. For the tumble-bug was sincere in his insane doings, and all Philistia honoured him sincerely, so that there was nowhere any hope for this people.
Therefore King Jurgen addressed himself, as his need was, to submit to the strange customs of the Philistines. "Now do you judge me fairly," cried Jurgen to his, judges, "if there be any justice in this mad country. And if there be none, do you relegate me to limbo or to any other place, so long as in that place this tumble-bug is not omnipotent and sincere and insane."
And Jurgen waited.
These points being settled, the tumble-bug went away, smiling benevolently. "Morals, not art," he said, as he departed. The judges rose, and they bowed low as the bug passed: the judges conferred together, and Jurgen was decreed a backslider into the ways of undesirable error. His judges were the priests of Vel-Tyno and Sesphra and Ageus, who are the Gods of Philistia.
Then the priest of Ageus put on his spectacles and consulted the canonical law, and declared that this change in the indictment necessitated a severance of Jurgen from the others, in the infliction of punishment.
"For each, of course, must be relegated to the limbo of his fathers, as was foretold, in order that the prophecies may be fulfilled. Religion languishes when prophecies are not fulfilled. Now it appears that the forefathers of the flesh-and-blood prisoner were of a different faith from the progenitors of these obsolete illusions, and that his fathers foretold quite different things, and that their limbo was called Hell."
"It is little you know," says Jurgen, "of the religion of Eubonia."
"We have it written down in this great book," the priest of Vel-Tyno then told him,-"every word of it without blot or error."
"Then you will see that the King of Eubonia is the head of the church there, and changes all the prophecies at will. Learned Gowlais says so directly: and the judicious Stevegonius was forced to agree with him, however unwillingly, as you will instantly discover by consulting the third section of his widely famous nineteenth chapter."
"Both Gowlais and Stevegonius were probably notorious heretics," says the priest of Ageus. "I believe that was settled once for all at the Diet of Orthumar."
"Eh!" says Jurgen. He did not like this priest.
Now I will wager, sirs," Jurgen continued, a trifle patronisingly, "that you gentlemen have not read Gowlais, or even Stevegonius, in the light of Vossler's commentaries. And that is why you underrate them."
"I at least have read every word that was ever written by any of these three," replied the priest of Sesphra --"and with, as I need hardly say, the liveliest abhorrence. And this Gowlais in particular, as I hasten to agree with my learned confrere, is a most notorious heretic
"Oh, sir," said Jurgen, horrified, "whatever are you telling me about Gowlais?"
"I tell you that I have been roused to indignation by his Historia de Bello Veneris--"
"You surprise me: still-"
"-Shocked by his Pornoboscodidascolo-"
"I can hardly believe it even so, you must grant-"
"--And horrified by his Liber de immortalitate Mentulae--"
"Well, conceding you that earlier work, sir, yet, at the same time-"
"--And have been disgusted by his De modo coeundi-"
"Ah, but, none the less-"
"-And have shuddered over the unspeakable enormities of his Erotopaegnion! of his Cinaedica! and especially of his Epipedesis, that most pestilential and abominable book, quem sine horrore nemo potest legere--"
"Still, you cannot deny
"--And have read also all the confutations of this detestable Gowlais: as those of Zanchius, Faventinus, Lelius Vincentius, Lagalla, Thomas Giaminus, and eight other admirable commentators-"
"You are very exact, sir: but-"
"--And that, in short, I have read every book you can imagine," says the priest of Sesphra.
The shoulders of Jurgen rose to his ears, and Jurgen silently flung out his hands, palms upward.
"For, I perceive," says Jurgen, to himself, "that this Realist is too circumstantial for me. None the less, he invents his facts: it is by citing books which never existed that he publicly confutes the Gowlais whom I invented privately: and that is not fair. Now there remains only one chance for Jurgen; but luckily that chance is sure."
"Why are you fumbling in your pocket?" asks the old priest of Ageus, fidgeting and peering.
"Aha, you may well ask!" cried Jurgen. He unfolded the cantrap which had been given him by the Master Philologist, and which Jurgen had treasured against the time when more was needed than a glib tongue. "O most unrighteous judges," says Jurgen, sternly, "now hear and tremble! 'At the death of Adrian the Fifth, Pedro Juliani, who should be named John the Twentieth, was through an error in the reckoning elevated to the papal chair as John the Twenty-first!"
"Hah, and what have we to do with that?" inquired the priest of Vel-Tyno, with raised eyebrows. "Why are you telling us of these irrelevant matters?"
"Because I thought it would interest you," said Jurgen.
It was a fact that appeared to me rather amusing. So I thought I would mention it."
"Then you have very queer ideas of amusement," they told him. And Jurgen perceived that either he had not employed his cantrap correctly or else that its magic was unappreciated by the leaders of Philistia.