The Five Nations/The Files
(THE SUB-EDITOR SPEAKS)
Oblige me by referring to the files.
Every question man can raise,
Every phrase of every phase
Of that question is on record in the files—
(Threshed out threadbare—fought and finished in the files).
Ere the Universe at large
Was our new-tipped arrows' targe—
Ere we rediscovered Mammon and his wiles—
Faenza, gentle reader, spent her—five-and-twentieth leader
(You will find him, and some others, in the files).
Warn all future Robert Brownings and Carlyles,
It will interest them to hunt among the files,
Where unvisited, a-cold,
Lie the crowded years of old
In that Kensall-Green of greatness called the files—
(In our newspaPère-la-Chaise the office files),
Where the dead men lay them down
Meekly sure of long renown,
And above them, sere and swift,
Packs the daily deepening drift
Of the all-recording, all-effacing files—
The obliterating, automatic files.
Count the mighty men who slung
Ink, Evangel, Sword, or Tongue
When Reform and you were young—
Made their boasts and spake according in the files—
(Hear the ghosts that wake applauding in the files!)
Trace each all-forgot career
From long primer through brevier
Unto Death, a para minion in the files
(Para minion—solid—bottom of the files)....
Some successful Kings and Queens adorn the files,
They were great, their views were leaded,
And their deaths were triple-headed,
So they catch the eye in running through the files
(Show as blazes in the mazes of the files);
For their "paramours and priests,"
And their gross, jack-booted feasts,
And their epoch-marking actions see the files.
Was it Bomba fled the blue Sicilian isles?
Was it Saffi a professor
Once of Oxford, brought redress or
Garibaldi? Who remembers
Forty-odd-year old Septembers?—
Only sextons paid to dig among the files
(Such as I am, born and bred among the files).
You must hack through much deposit
Ere you know for sure who was it
Came to burial with such honour in the files
(Only seven seasons back beneath the files).
"Very great our loss and grievous—
"So our best and brightest leave us,
"And it ends the Age of Giants," say the files;
All the '60—'70—'80—'90 files
(The open-minded, opportunist files—
The easy "O King, live for ever" files).
It is good to read a little in the files;
'Tis a sure and sovereign balm
Unto philosophic calm,
Yea, and philosophic doubt when Life beguiles.
When you know Success is Greatness,
When you marvel at your lateness
In apprehending facts so plain to Smiles
(Self-helpful, wholly strenuous Samuel Smiles).
When your Imp of Blind Desire
Bids you set the Thames afire,
You'll remember men have done so—in the files.
You'll have seen those flames transpire—in the files
(More than once that flood has run so—in the files).
When the Conchimarian horns
Of the reboantic Norns
Usher gentlemen and ladies
With new lights on Heaven and Hades,
Guaranteeing to Eternity
All yesterday's modernity;
When Brocken-spectres made by
Some one's breath on ink parade by,
Very earnest and tremendous,
Let not shows of shows offend us.
When of everything we like we
Shout ecstatic:—"Quod ubique,
Quod ab omnibus means semper!"
Oh, my brother, keep your temper!
Light your pipe and take a look along the files!
You've a better chance to guess
At the meaning of Success
(Which is Greatness—vide press)
When you've seen it in perspective in the files.