`Pretence and effort both!' cried Otto. `A dead dog in a canal is more alive. And the question, Gotthold, the question that I have to face is this: Can I not, with effort and self-denial, can I not become a tolerable sovereign?'
`Never,' replied Gotthold. `Dismiss the notion. And besides, dear child, you would not try.'
`Nay, Gotthold, I am not to be put by,' said Otto. `If I am constitutionally unfit to be a sovereign, what am I doing with this money, with this palace, with these guards? And I -- a thief -- am to execute the law on others?'
`I admit the difficulty,' said Gotthold.
`Well, can I not try?' continued Otto. `Am I not bound to try? And with the advice and help of such a man as you -- `
`Me!' cried the librarian. `Now, God forbid!'
Otto, though he was in no very smiling humour, could not forbear to smile. `Yet I was told last night,' he laughed, `that with a man like me to impersonate, and a man like you to touch the springs, a very possible government could be composed.'
`Now I wonder in what diseased imagination,' Gotthold said, `that preposterous monster saw the light of day?'
`It was one of your own trade -- a writer: one Roederer,' said Otto.
`Roederer! an ignorant puppy!' cried the librarian.
`You are ungrateful,' said Otto. `He is one of your professed admirers.'
`Is he?' cried Gotthold, obviously impressed. `Come, that is a good account of the young man. I must read his stuff again. It is the rather to his credit, as our views are opposite. The east and west are not more opposite. Can I have converted him? But no; the incident belongs to Fairyland.'
`You are not then,' asked the Prince, `an authoritarian?'
`I? God bless me, no!' said Gotthold. `I am a red, dear child.'
`That brings me then to my next point, and by a natural transition. If I am so clearly unfitted for my post,' the Prince asked; `if my friends admit it, if my subjects clamour for my downfall, if revolution is preparing at this hour, must I not go forth to meet the inevitable? should I not save these horrors and be done with these absurdities? in a word, should I not abdicate? O, believe me, I feel the ridicule, the vast abuse of language,' he added, wincing, `but even a principulus like me cannot resign; he must make a great gesture, and come buskined forth, and abdicate.'
`Ay,' said Gotthold, `or else stay where he is. What gnat has bitten you to-day? Do you not know that you are touching, with lay hands, the very holiest inwards of philosophy, where madness dwells? Ay, Otto, madness; for in the serene temples of the wise, the inmost shrine, which we carefully keep locked, is full of spiders' webs. All men, all, are fundamentally useless; nature tolerates, she does not need, she does not use them: sterile flowers! All -- down to the fellow swinking in a byre, whom fools point out for the exception -- all are useless; all weave ropes of sand; or like a child that has breathed on a window, write and obliterate, write and obliterate, idle words! Talk of it no more. That way, I tell you, madness lies.' The speaker rose from his chair and then sat down again. He laughed a little laugh, and then, changing his tone, resumed: `Yes, dear child, we are not here to do battle with giants; we are here to be happy like the flowers, if we can be. It is because you could, that I have always secretly admired you. Cling to that trade; believe me, it is the right one. Be happy, be idle, be airy. To the devil with all casuistry! and
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