From Mr Sludge, "The Medium"
by Robert Browning
And all this might be, may be, and with good help
Of a little lying shall be: so, Sludge lies!
Why, he’s at worst your poet who sings how Greeks
That never were, in Troy which never was,
Did this or the other impossible great thing!…
But why do I mount to poets? Take plain prose—
Dealers in common sense, set these at work,
What can they do without their helpful lies?
Each states the law and fact and face o’ the thing
Just as he’d have them, finds what he thinks fit,
Is blind to what missuits him, just records
What makes his case out, quite ignores the rest.
It’s a History of the World, the Lizard Age,
The Early Indians, the Old Country War,
Jerome Napoleon, whatsoever you please,
All as the author wants it. Such a scribe
You pay and praise for putting life in stones,
Fire into fog, making the past your world.
There’s plenty of ‘How did you contrive to grasp
The thread which led you through this labyrinth?
How build such solid fabric out of air?
How on so slight foundation found this tale?
Biography, narrative?’ or, in other words,
‘How many lies did it require to make
The portly truth you here present us with?’