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The Sea Wolf 43

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Martin Eden

The Pickwick Papers

The Sea Wolf

all; there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not; as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath. "This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all; yea, also the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. "For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope; for a living dog is better than a dead lion. "For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. "Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun." "There you have it, Hump," he said, closing the book upon his finger and looking up at me. "The Preacher who was king over Israel in Jerusalem thought as I think. You call me a pessimist. Is not this pessimism of the blackest?--All is vanity and vexation of spirit, There is no profit under the sun, There is one event unto all, to the fool and the wise, the clean and the unclean, the sinner and the saint, and that event is death, and an evil thing, he says. For the Preacher loved life, and did not want to die, saying, For a living dog is better than a dead lion. He preferred the vanity and vexation to the silence and unmovableness of the grave. And so I. To crawl is piggish; but to not crawl, to be as the clod and rock, is loathsome to contemplate. It is loathsome to the life that is in me, the very essence of which is movement, the power of movement, and the consciousness of the power of movement. Life itself is unsatisfaction, but to look ahead to death is greater unsatisfaction." "You are worse off than Omar," I said. "He, at least, after the customary agonizing of youth, found content and made of his materialism a joyous thing." "Who was Omar?" Wolf Larsen asked, and I did no more work that day, nor the next, nor the next. In his random reading he had never chanced upon the Rubaiyat, and it was to him like a great find of treasure. Much I remembered, possibly two-thirds of the quatrains, and I managed to piece out the remainder without difficulty. We talked for hours over single stanzas, and I found him reading into them a wail of regret and a rebellion which, for the life of me, I could not discover myself. Possibly I recited with a certain joyous lilt which was my own, for--his memory was good, and at a second rendering, very often the first, he made a quatrain his own--he recited the same lines and invested them with an unrest and passionate revolt that was well- nigh convincing. I was interested as to which quatrain he would like best, and was not surprised when he hit upon the one born of an instants irritability, and quite at variance with the Persians complacent philosophy and genial code of life: "What, without asking, hither hurried Whence? And, without asking, Whither hurried hence! Oh, many a Cup of this forbidden Wine Must drown the memory of that insolence!" "Great!" Wolf Larsen cried. "Great! Thats the keynote. Insolence! He could not have used a better word." In vain I objected and denied. He deluged me, overwhelmed me with argument. "Its not the nature of life to be otherwise. Life, when it knows that it must cease living, will always rebel. It cannot help itself. The Preacher found life and the works of life all a vanity and vexation, an evil thing; but death, the ceasing to be able to be vain and vexed, he found an eviler thing. Through chapter after chapter he is worried by the one event that cometh to all alike. So Omar, so I, so you, even you, for you rebelled against dying when Cooky sharpened a knife for you. You were afraid to die; the life that was in you, that composes you, that is greater than you, did

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