Down the street as I was drifting with the city's human tide, Came a ghost, and for a moment walked in silence by my side -- Now my heart was hard and bitter, and a bitter spirit he, So I felt no great aversion to his ghostly company. Said the Shade: `At finer feelings let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, has ever been the motto for the world.'
And he said: `If you'd be happy, you must clip your fancy's wings, Stretch your conscience at the edges to the size of earthly things; Never fight another's battle, for a friend can never know When he'll gladly fly for succour to the bosom of the foe. At the power of truth and friendship let your lip in scorn be curled -- `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.
`Where Society is mighty, always truckle to her rule; Never send an `i' undotted to the teacher of a school; Only fight a wrong or falsehood when the crowd is at your back, And, till Charity repay you, shut the purse, and let her pack; At the fools who would do other let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.
`Ne'er assail the shaky ladders Fame has from her niches hung, Lest unfriendly heels above you grind your fingers from the rung; Or the fools who idle under, envious of your fair renown, Heedless of the pain you suffer, do their worst to shake you down. At the praise of men, or censure, let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, is the motto of the world.
`Flowing founts of inspiration leave their sources parched and dry, Scalding tears of indignation sear the hearts that beat too high; Chilly waters thrown upon it drown the fire that's in the bard; And the banter of the critic hurts his heart till it grows hard. At the fame your muse may offer let your lip in scorn be curled, `Self and Pelf', my friend, remember, that's the motto of the world.
`Shun the fields of love, where lightly, to a low and mocking tune, Strong and useful lives are ruined, and the broken hearts are strewn. Not a farthing is the value of the honest love you hold; Call it lust, and make it serve you! Set your heart on nought but gold. At the bliss of purer passions let your lip in scorn be curled -- `Self and Pelf', my friend, shall ever be the motto of the world.'
Then he ceased and looked intently in my face, and nearer drew; But a sudden deep repugnance to his presence thrilled me through; Then I saw his face was cruel, by the look that o'er it stole, Then I felt his breath was poison, by the shuddering of my soul, Then I guessed his purpose evil, by his lip in sneering curled, And I knew he slandered mankind, by my knowledge of the world.
But he vanished as a purer brighter presence gained my side -- `Heed him not! there's truth and friendship in this wondrous world,' she cried, And of those who cleave to virtue in their climbing for renown, Only they who faint or falter from the height are shaken down. At a cynic's baneful teaching let your lip in scorn be curled! `Brotherhood and Love and Honour!' is the motto for the world.'