For authorities whose hopes are shaped by mercenaries? Writers entrapped by teatime fame and by commuters' comforts? Not for these the paper nautilus constructs her thin glass shell. Giving her perishable souvenir of hope, a dull white outside and smooth- edged inner surface glossy as the sea, the watchful maker of it guards it day and night; she scarcely eats until the eggs are hatched. Buried eight-fold in her eight arms, for she is in a sense a devil- fish, her glass ram'shorn-cradled freight is hid but is not crushed; as Hercules, bitten by a crab loyal to the hydra, was hindered to succeed, the intensively watched eggs coming from the shell free it when they are freed,— leaving its wasp-nest flaws of white on white, and close- laid Ionic chiton-folds like the lines in the mane of a Parthenon horse, round which the arms had wound themselves as if they knew love is the only fortress strong enough to trust to.
You do not seem to realise that beauty is a liability rather than
an asset—that in view of the fact that spirit creates form we are justified in supposing
that you must have brains. For you, a symbol of the unit, stiff and sharp,
conscious of surpassing by dint of native superiority and liking for everything
self-dependent, anything an
ambitious civilisation might produce: for you, unaided to attempt through sheer
reserve, to confute presumptions resulting from observation, is idle. You cannot make us
think you a delightful happen-so. But rose, if you are brilliant, it
is not because your petals are the without-which-nothing of pre-eminence. You would look, minus
thorns—like a what-is-this, a mere
peculiarity. They are not proof against a worm, the elements, or mildew
but what about the predatory hand? What is brilliance without co-ordination? Guarding the
infinitesimal pieces of your mind, compelling audience to
the remark that it is better to be forgotten than to be remembered too violently,
your thorns are the best part of you.