28. XXVIII. THE RABBLE.
Life is a well of delight; but where the rabble also drink, there all
fountains are poisoned.
To everything cleanly am I well disposed; but I hate to see the grinning
mouths and the thirst of the unclean.
They cast their eye down into the fountain: and now glanceth up to me
their odious smile out of the fountain.
The holy water have they poisoned with their lustfulness; and when they
called their filthy dreams delight, then poisoned they also the words.
Indignant becometh the flame when they put their damp hearts to the fire;
the spirit itself bubbleth and smoketh when the rabble approach the fire.
Mawkish and over-mellow becometh the fruit in their hands: unsteady, and
withered at the top, doth their look make the fruit-tree.
And many a one who hath turned away from life, hath only turned away from
the rabble: he hated to share with them fountain, flame, and fruit.
And many a one who hath gone into the wilderness and suffered thirst with
beasts of prey, disliked only to sit at the cistern with filthy camel-drivers.
And many a one who hath come along as a destroyer, and as a hailstorm to
all cornfields, wanted merely to put his foot into the jaws of the rabble,
and thus stop their throat.
And it is not the mouthful which hath most choked me, to know that life
itself requireth enmity and death and torture-crosses:--
But I asked once, and suffocated almost with my question: What? is the
rabble also NECESSARY for life?
Are poisoned fountains necessary, and stinking fires, and filthy dreams,
and maggots in the bread of life?
Not my hatred, but my loathing, gnawed hungrily at my life! Ah, ofttimes
became I weary of spirit, when I found even the rabble spiritual!