Shem is as short for Shemus as Jim is joky for Jacob. A few toughnecks are still getatable who pretend that aboriginally he was of respectable connections (blank was among his |2distant2| cousins) but every honest to goodness man in the land of today knows that his back life will not stand being written about in black and white. Putting truth and untruth together a shot may be made at what this hybrid actually looked like. Shem's bodily getup, it seems, included:º an eighthº of an eye, the wholeº of a nose, one arm, fortytwo hairs off his crown, eighteen to his mock lip, a quintet from his chin, the wrong shoulder higher than the right, all ears, not a foot to stand on, a handful of thumbs, |2a blind stomach, a deaf heart, a loose liver,2| two fifths of two buttocks, a stone and a half —º so much so that young Master Shemmy at the very dawn of history seeing himself such and such, when playing with words in his nursery gardenº, asked of all his little brethren and sisters the first riddle of the universe: Whenº is a man not a man?º offering a prize of a juicy crab to the winner. One said when the heavens are rocking, a second said when other lips, a third said when |2he, no, when,º hold on a second, when2| the fair land of Poland, the next one said when the angel of death kicks the bucket of life, still another said when the wine is in, and still another when lovely woman stoops to conquer, one of the littlest said |2me, me, Sem,º2| when father papered the parlour, still one said when you are old and grey and full of sleep, and still another when office hours at last are over, and another when I was a boy with never a hole in my heart, another when yes he has no mananas, and one when pigs begin to fly. All were wrong, so Shem himself took the cake, the correct solution being:º When he is aº Shamº.
Shemº was a sham and a low sham and his lowness came out first in foodstuffs. So low was he that he preferred Gibsen's teatime salmon tinned, as inexpensive as pleasing, to the plumpest
roeheavy lax or the friskiest |2parr or smolt2| troutlet that ever was gaffed between Leixlip and Island
Bridgeº and many was the time he repeated that no junglegrownº pineapple ever smacked like the whoppers you shook out of Ananias' cans. None of your inchthick blueblooded |2Balaclava2|
beefsteaks or juicejelly legs of molten mutton or greasily gristlyº grunters' feet or slice upon slab of luscious goosebosom with lump after load of plumpudding stuffing all aswim in a
swamp of bogoak gray for him! He even went away by himself and became a |2soonerite farsoonerite2|, saying he would |2far2| sooner muddle |2with through2| the hash of lentils in Europe than |2play meddle2| with Ireland's splitº little pea. Once when in a state of hopelessly helpless intoxication he strove to lift a citron peel to either nostril, hiccupping apparently impromptu,º that he could live for ever by the smell, as the citr, as the cedron, like a cedar, of the founts, on mountains, with lemonº on, of Lebanon. O,º the lowness of him was beneath all up to that sunk to! No firewater or firstserved firstshot or gutburn gin or honest liberal unionist beer either. O dear no! Instead he sobbed himself sick of life on some sort of a wheywhinging rhubarbarousº yellagreen applejack squeezed from sour grapes and, to hear him in his sentimentalising cups when he had absorbed too much of a feast retching off to hisº almost as low withswillersº, who always knew notwithstanding when they had enough and were rightly indignant at the wretch's hospitality when they
found to their horror they could not carry another drop, it came straight from the noble white fat, openwide sat, her why hide that, the winevat, of the most serene archduchess,º fancy you're grinning at, fancy you're in her yet, Fanny Urinia. Talk about lowness!º Any dog's quantity of it visibly oozed out thickly from this dirty little black beetle,º for the very first instant the Kelly-Turnbull girl with her kodak spotted the as yet unremunerated national apostate, who was cowardly gun and camera shy, taking what he fondly thought was a short cut after having buried a friend not so long before,º by the wrong goods entrance into Patatapapaveri's, fruiterers and musical florists, she knew he was a bad fast man by his walk on the spot.
Around that time one generally hoped or at any rate suspected he would |2early turn out badly,º2|
develop hereditary pulmonary T.B. Nay,º one pelting night blanketed folk, hearing a coarse song and splash off Eden Quay,º sighed and rolled over, sure all was up, but, though he
fell heavily and locally into debt, not even then could such an antinomian be true to type. With the devil's leave the born fraud cheated |2even2|
death. You see, he was low. All the time he kept on treasuring with condign satisfaction each and every unkind word and if ever, during a
conversazione in the nation's interest, delicate hints were thrown out to him about |2it, his evil
courses2| by some wellwishers vainlyº pleading with |2him the opprobrious
to |2brace up and2| be a man, such as: Pray, what is
the meaning of that continental expression, if you ever came across it, we think it is a word something like canaille?º or: Did you anywhere, captain, during your tales of travel happen to stumble upon a certain gay young nobleman answering to the name of Low |2Bugger Swine2| who lives on loans and is thirtyfive years of age?º without one sign of haste,º like the supreme prig he was, he would pull a vacant landlubber's face and then, lisping to kill time, begin to tell all the intelligentsia admitted to that conversazione |2(since appreciated physicians, trusted lawyers, prepaid politicians, |aphilantropists philanthropistsa| sitting on as many boards of directors |aat the same timea| as possible)2| the whole lifelong story of his entire low existence, giving unsolicited testimony |2to those present2| on behalf of the absent as glib as eaveswater,º |2to those present (whoº meanwhile allowed various |asubconsciousa| smiles to travel slowly across their faces),º2| |2consciously unconsciously2| explaining|2, with a patience bordering on the insane,2| the various meanings of all the different foreign phrases he misused and telling every lie unthinkable about all the
other people in the story |2except leaving out2|, of course, |2foreconsciously,2| the simple word and person they had cornered him about until there was not a |2hearer snoozer2| among them but was utterly undeceived |2in the heel of the reel2| by the recital of the rigmarole.
It went without saying that he disliked anything anyway approaching a plain straightforward standup or knockdown row and as often as he was called in to umpire any octagonal argument among slangwhangers the accomplished
washout always used to rub shoulders with the last
speaker and agree to every word as soon as half uttered and then at once focus his whole unbalanced attention upon the next octagonist who managed to catch a listener's eye, asking and imploring him out of his piteous onewinker whether there was anything in the world he could do to please him and to overflow his tumbler for him yet once more. One kailcannon night as recently as twenty years ago he wasº therefore treated with what closely resembled personal violence,º being kicked alternately through the deserted village from 82 Dublin Lane as far as the lefthand |2eastend2| corner of Europa Parade by rival teams of argumentalists who finally, as really they had been detained out rather late, thought they had better be streaking for home one and all disgustedly, |2instead of kicking him back,2| reconciled to a friendship, fast and furious, which merely arose out of his perfect lowness. Again there was a hope that people,
looking on him with comparative contempt, after first givingº him a roll in the dirt mightº pity and forgive him but the pleb was born low and sank lower till he sank out of sight.
Darkiesº never done tug that coon out to play flesh and blood games same as piccaninnies play
all day, those old games we used to play with old Joe kicking her behind and before and the yellow girl kicking him behind old Joe,
games likeº Put the wind up the peeler, Hat in the ring, Healy Baba and the forty thieves, Soldier, soldier, will you marry me?, Sheila Harnett and her cow, I saw the toothbrush with Pat Farrell,º Here's the fat to grease the priest's boots. Now it is notoriously known how on that surprisingly bloody Unity Sunday,º when the grand germogall allstar bout was gaily the rage between our fightingmen extraordinary and Irish eyes of welcome were smiling up their sleeves, rankº funk getting the better of himº the scut fled for his bare life without having struck one blow and corked himself up tight in his inkbottle house, badly the worse for drink, where he |2hid collapsed2| carefully under a bedtick from Switzer's with hisº face enveloped in a dead warrior's overcoat,
moaning feebly that his punishment was more than a nigger man could bear, hemiparalysed by all the shemozzle,º his cheeks and trousers changing colour every time a gat croaked. How is that for low, ladies and laymen? Why, whole continents rang with his lowness! |2Millions of women in dozens of countries |a(revolted demimondaines amongº them)ºa| at a bare mention exclaimed: O!2|
Butº would anyone, short of a madhouse, believe it? |2Neither of those clean little cherubs,2| Nero or
Nabuchodonosor himself,º never nursed such a spoiled opinion of his monstrous marvellosity as did this mental and moral defective |2(here perhaps at his really
lowest)2| who was known to |2belch rather than2| brag on one occasion to an interlocutor he used to
pal around with in a gipsy's bar that he was aware of no other person either exactly unlike orº precisely
the same as what he fancied or guessed he was himself. After the thorough fright he got that bloodyº day,
though every doorpost in muchtried Lucalizod was smeared with generous gore and every free for all cobbleway slippery with the blood of heroes
to heaven for others,2| the low waster never had the common baalamb's pluck to stir out and about while everyone else of the city throng, slashers and sliced alike, waded around|2, heads up,2| on theirº bonafide avocationsº while |2happy belongers to2| the fairer sex on their usual quest for higher things went stonestepping across the human bridge set up over the slop by Messrs a charitable government,º for the only once he did take a tompeep throughº a threedraw telescope out of his westernmost keyhole with an eachway hope in his shivering soul of finding out for himself whether true conciliation was forging ahead or falling back and why he found himself at pointblank range blinking down the barrel of an irregular revolver of the bulldog |2with a purpose2| patternº handled by an unknown quarreler who, supposedly, had been told off to shade and shoot shy Shem should the shit show his shiny nose out awhile to look facts in the face before being hosed and creased by five or six of the gayboys.
What was this interestingly low human type really at? The answer is: a drug and drunkery addictº growing megalomane
at a loose end. This explains the litany of letters,º honorific, highpitched,
erudite, neoclassical,º which he so loved as to |2place manuscribe2| after his name. It would have diverted, if ever seen,º the shuddersome spectacle of this |2semidemented2| zany |2in the amid the inspissated2| grime of his den making believe to read his eminently unreadable |2chapbook bluebook2|,º turning over three sheets at a time, but what with the murky light, the botchy print, the tattered cover, the jigjagged page, the fumbling fingers, |2the foxtrotting fleas, the lieabed lice,º2| the scum in his eye, the drink in his pottle, the itch in his palm, |2the wail of his wind,º the grief from his nose,2| the dig in his ribs, |2the weight of hisº breath, the height of his rage,2| the gush of his fundament, the fire in his gorge, |2the tickle |ain ofa| his tail,2| the rats in his garret, the hullabaloo and the dust in his ears he was hardset to memorise more than a word a week. Was there ever heard of such lowdown blackguardism? |2Positively it
woolliesº one to think |aof overa| it.2| Yetº the bumpersprinkler used to boast aloud alone to himself
how he had been put out of all the best families of the Klondykers |2fromº Pioupiouland, Swabspays, the land of Nod, Shruggers' Country, Danubierhome and Barbaropolis,2| who had settled in the capital city after its metropoliarchialisation,º ordered off the premises in most cases on account of his smell which all theº cookmaids objected to as resemblingº the smell that came out of the sink. Instead of tutoring those best families plain wholesome handwriting (a thing he never possessed of his own) what do you think he did but study with stolen fruit how cutely to copy all their various styles of signature so as one day to utter a colossal forged cheque on the public for his own private profit until, as just related, the Dublin United Scullerymaids' and Househelps'º Sorority |2kicked turned him down and unitedly kicked2| the source of annoyance out of the place altogether inº the heat of the moment, making some pointed remarks as they did so about the low way he stunk.
One cannot even begin to figure out how low in reality such a creature really was. Who can say how many unsigned first copies of original masterworks, how manyº pseudostylic
shamiana, how few or how many of the most venerated public impostures, how very many |2piously forged2| palimpsests,º slipped in the first place |2by this morbid process2| from his plagiarist pen?
Be that as it may, butº for his nose's glow as it slid |2so close to the within an inch of its2| page |2he Nibs2| never would have penned a word to paper. By that rosy lamp's effluvious burning he scribbled and scratched nameless shamelessness about everybody ever he met, even sheltering for an hour or so from a spring shower under the dogs' umbrella of a public wall, while all over andº up and down both margins of this rancid Shem stuff the evilsmeller used to draw endlessly inartistic portraits of himself as a strikingly handsome young man with love lyrics in his eyes, a tiptop tenor voice, a ducal income of one hundred and thirtytwo pounds a year derivedº from landed estate, Oxford manners, |2cutting a great dash in2| a brandnew two-guineaº dress suit |2hired2| for |2an evening a Sunday evening party2|, and a lovely long pair of inky Italian moustaches glittering with boric vaseline and frangipani. How unwhisperably low!
The house of Shem or Shame, known as the haunted inkbottle as it was infested with the raps, in which he groped through life at the expense of the taxpayers, injected into day and night by |2practically2| forty quacks, day by day more exceeding in violent abuse of
self and others, was the worst, it is believed, even in our western playboyish world for pure filth. The warped flooring of the lair was persianly literatured with burst loveletters, telltale stories, stickyback snaps, doubtful eggshells, you owe mes, fluefoul smut,
fallen lucifers, vestas which had served, showered ornaments, borrowed brogues, reversibleº jackets, blackeye lenses, falsehair shirts, Godforsaken scapulars,
neverworn breeches, cutthrough ties, counterfeit francs, best intentions, |2curried notes, upset tintacks, unused mill and stumblingº stones,2| twisted quills, |2magnifying wineglasses, solid objects cast at phantoms,2| once current puns, new quotatoes, messes of mottage, unquestionable issue papers, seedy ejaculations, limerick damns, crocodile tears, spilt ink, blasphematory spits, stale chestnuts, schoolgirls',º young ladies',º milkmaids', washerwomen's, shopkeepers' wives',º merry widows', three nuns', one abbess's, prudent virgins', impudent whores', silent sisters', Charleys' aunts', grandmothers', mothers-in-laws'º, fostermothers', godmothers' garters, |2tress clippings from right and left,2| worms of snot, |2toothsome pickings,2| cans of |2Swiss2| condensed bilk, highbrow lotions, kisses from the antipodes, |2presents from pickpockets, borrowed plumes,2| relaxable handgrips, princess promises, lees of wine, deoxodised carbons, broken wafers, unloosed shoe latchets, crooked strait waistcoats, fresh views of hell, globules of mercury, undeleted glete,
war moans, special sighs, longsufferings of longstanding, ahs ohs ouisº sis jas jos gias neys thaws sos,º yeses and yeses and yeses, to which,º if one has the stomach to add the breakages, upheavals,º distortions, inversions,º of all this chambermade music,º one stands a fair chance of actually seeing the whirling dervish exiled in upon his ego,º noondayterrorised |2to skin and bone2| by an ineluctable shadow writing the history of himselfº in furniture.
Of course our low hero was a selfvaleterº by choice of need so up he got whatever is meant by a kitchenette and fowlhouse for the sake of eggs in what was meant for a closet.º His
nature never needed such an alcove so,º when Robber and Mumsell, the paper dictators,º boycotted him of all muttonsuet candles and stationery for any purpose,º he went away and made synthetic ink and unruled pages for his own use out of his wits'º end. Youº ask how?º Letº manner and matter of it for these our sporting times be cloaked up in the language of blushfed cardinals that an Anglican ordinal, not reading his own rude tongue, may ever behold the brand of scarlet on the brow of her of Babylon and feel not the pink one in his own damned cheek.
Primum opifex, altus prosator, ad terram viviparam et cunctipotentem nec ullo pudori nec venia |2discinctis perizomatis et2| natibus nudis uti |2nudi nati2| fuissent,º sese adpropinquans,º flens et gemens,º in manum suam evacuavit (highly prosy, |2shit crap2| in his hand, sorry!º), postea|2, exoneratus, classicum pulsans,º2| stercus proprium, quod appellavit deiectiones meas, in vasum olim honorabile tristitiae posuit, eodem lenteº ac melliflue minxit,º psalmum qui incipit: Lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis: magna voce cantitans (did a piss, says he was dejected, asks to be exonerated), demum ex stercore turpi cum divi Orionis iucunditate mixto, cocto, frigorique exposito, encaustum sibi fecit indelibilem (|2made faked2| O'Ryan's, the indelible ink).
With this double dye minutely, |2nastily,2| appropriately, he wrote over every square inch of the only foolscap available, his own body, till one
human integument slowly unfolded universal history |2(thereby, he said, reflecting from his own individual
person all life unlivable, transaccidentated |ain througha| the slow fires of consciousness into a dividual chaos, perilous, potent, common to all fleshº, human only, mortal)2| but with each word that would not pass away the self which he had hidden from the world grew darker and darker in its outlook. So perhaps after all on his last public misappearance the blond cop who thought it was ink was out of his depth but right in the main. Petty constable Sigurdsen it was, who had been detailed to save him from the effects of lynch law and mobmauling, that greeted the tenderfoot just as he was butting in with a hideful through his door, saying as usual: Where ladies have they that a dog meansort herring?º Search me, the incapable |2said reparteed2| and in he skittled. The |2allwhite2| peace officer was literally astounded |2and |astaggered |btoob| ina| his imagination2| at the capacity of his wineskin and even more soº when informed by that human outcome of dirt and drink that he was merely bringing home two gallons of porter to his mother.
What mother? Whose porter? Why merely? But enough of such porterblack lownessº, too base for printink! We cannot stay here for the rest of (+2the day our lives+)2| discussing Mr Ham of Tenman's thirst.
Stand forth,º come boldly in your true coloursº (for no longer will I
employ the inspired form of the third person singular but address myself to you direct), stand forth,º
jolly me, move me to laughterº ere you be putº back for ever till I give you your talkingto! Shem
Macadamson, you know me and I know you and all your shemeries!º Where have you been all this quite a while, my
tooraladdy? How have you been enjoyingº yourself
all the morning since your last bad confession? Youº were bred, fed, fostered and fattened from holy childhood up in this two-easterº island on the piejaw of hilarious heaven and roaring the other place and now, forsooth, a nogger among the blankards of this dastard century, you have become a raw doubter in godsº known and unknown, nay, condemned fool, anarch, egoarch, heresiarch, you have reared your disunited kingdom on the vacuum of your own far more than dubious soul. While yet an adolescent (what do I say?), while still puerile in your tubsuit with buttonlegs,º you got a handsome present of syringe and twin feeders (you know, my friend, to your cost as well as I do, and don't try to hide it,º the mechanism I am now poking at) and the wheeze kind of was you should repopulate the land of your birth and count up your progeny by the hundred head and the hundred thousand but you thwarted
the pious wish of your godmother on countless occasions of failing and have added the morosity of your delectations to Lubbock's other pleasures of life, even inflicting your apologia, when legibly depressed, upon defenceless paper and thereby adding to the already unhappiness of this our popeyed world, scribblative! — all that too with cantreds of overplussing females, the many as many as the chosen,º congested around and about you for acres and roods and poles or perches, mutely braying for what would not have cost you ten cents of collarwork or the price of one pang, just a lilt, let us say, of the oldest song in the wide wide world accompanied by a plain gold band!
Sniffer of carrion, premature gravedigger, seeker of the nest of evil in the bosom of a good word, you have cutely foretold by blind poring upon your many sores and scalds and burns, blisters and moles and chilblains, death with every disaster, the dynamitisation of
colleagues, the reducing of records to ashes, the levelling of all customs by |2fire blazes2|, the return of a lot
of sweettemperedº gunpowdered dust unto dust,º but it never struck your mudhead's
obtundity that the more carrots you chop, the more turnips you slit, the more murphies you peel, the more onions you weep over, the more beef you butch, the more mutton you crackerhack, the more potherbs you pound, the hotter the fire and the longer your spoon and the harder you gruel it more and more the merrier smokes your new Irish stew.
Anotherº thing occurs to me. You,º let me tell you, were very ordinarily designed to do a certain office (what,º I will not tell you) in a certain office
(nor will I say where) during certain office hours from such a year to such an hour on such and such a date at so and so much a week per annum and do your little threepenny bit right here where you drew the first
|2breath gasp2| in your life, same as we, long of us, where you set fire to my
tailcoat and I'll heldº the paraffin lamp under yours (I hope that at least is clear) but, slackly shirking both your bullet and your billet, you beat it like billy O to sing
us a song of alibi,º nomad, mooner by lamplight, antinos, attempting amid everyone's suppressed laughter to conceal your coprophily by using syllables of the same sound, an Irish emigrant the wrong way out,º sitting on your crooked
sixpenny stile, an unfrillfrocked quackfriar, you (will you for the love of Shakespeare just help me with the epithet?) semisemitic serendipitist, you (thanks, I think that describes you) Europasianised Afferyank!
There grew up beside you,º oaf, outofwork, one remove from an unwashed savage, on his keeping and in yours,º that
other, that pure one, he who was well known to heavenly circles before he sped aloft, a chum of the angels, a youth they so particularly wanted as gamefellow that they asked his mother for little clay brother to let him come to kindergarten, please, and bring his scooter too and 'tend they were all real brothers in the big justright home where Dod lives, that mothersmothered model, that goodlooker with not a flaw whose spiritual toilettes were the talk of half the town,º and him you laid low with one hand one fine May morning to find out how his innards worked! Ever hear of that monkey and the virgin heir of the Morrisons, eh, blethering ape?
Malingerer in luxury, what have you done with all the babyprams of cooked vegetables, the hatfuls of stewed fruit, the suitcases of coddled eggs, that you cozened so flexibly out of charitable butteries by
howling heavy with a hollow voice drop of your horrible awful poverty of mind and as how you was bad no end,º so you was, so help you, with the chicken's gape and pas mal de siècleº which, by the by, is the
ordinary emetic French for grenadier's drip. Where are the little apples we lock up in the little saltbox?º Where is that little alimony nestegg against our predictable rainy day? Is it not the fact (gainsay me, cakeeater!) that
you squandered among underlings the overload of |2your2| extravagance and made a multitude of Hottentots crawsick with your crumbs? Am I not right? Don't tell me you are not a loanshark!º Look up, old son, be advised by me and take your medicine!º And remember that golden silence gives consent, Mr Anklegazer! Whisht! Come here till I tell you a thing in your ear. Look!º Do you see your face in the glass. Look well!º Bend down a second till I!º In your ear.º Sh! Shem, you are. Sh! You are mad!
Pariah,º cannibal Cain, you who oathily forswore the womb that bore you and the paps you sometimeº sucked, you who ever since have been
one black mass of jigs and jimjams, haunted by a convulsionary sense
of not having been or being all that you might have been orº meant to be,
, lo,º it is to youº then,º and thank God from the innermost depths of your incontrite heart for it is to you, firstborn and firstfruit of woe, to you, branded sheep, to you,º pick of the wastepaperbasketº, toº you alone, windblasted tree of the knowledge of beautiful and evil,º ay, to you,º unseen blusher in an obscene coalhole, that your turfbrown mummy is acoming, running with her tidings, all the news of the great big world, with a beck, with a spring, all her rillringlets shaking, little oldfashioned mummy, little wonderful mummy, ducking under bridges, bellhopping the weirs, dodging |2round by2| a bit of bog, rapidshooting round the bends, by Tallaght's green hills and the poolº of the phooka and a place they call it Blessington and
slipping sly by Sallynoggin, as happy as the day is wet, babbling, bubbling, chattering to herself, deloothering the fields on their elbows with the sloothering slide of her, giddygaddyº grannyma, gossipaceous Anna Livia!º