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The Baptism

( Originally Published 1916 )

CLARICE had a baby. It was the wonder of the island. From the old fisherman down by the beach to the Honorable Joneses and Walkers up at the big hotel the baby was the subject of intense discussion. For everybody liked Clarice and her husband, who was a play-actor, and the baby was an amazing compound of the excellences of both.

Clarice wanted the baby baptized. No priest or minister could be found on the island. "Just the same, I shall have the baby baptized," said she. "I'll have Berriman do it." Berriman was a poet, past sixty, and a beautiful failure. Physically he lived on the crusts and edges of things; spiritually he ate of the heart of the world.

So one afternoon they had the christening. And Berriman, the poet, spoke, saying:

"Beloved friends, we are here gathered, in the sight of God and in the presence of these witnesses, to baptize this child.

"Baptism is the application of water to the human body, solemnly and formally, as a symbol of the cleansing of the soul. It is a most ancient rite, and is found in all religions.

"It indicates the adoption of a candidate into the membership of the elect.

"There has always been a superior few, an aristocracy in the world.

"There is the apparent or so-called aristocracy, who as a rule are not superior at all; and there is the real aristocracy, who are a secret order known to themselves only.

"We are here to baptize this baby into the real elect, the real upper-tendom, the real church, or ecclesia, or called-out.

"We therefore consecrate ourselves to teach this child to take the UPPER THOUGHT as to all things.

"To her, flowers shall not be mere plants, but God's thoughts.

"To her, stars shall be more than burning words; they shall be eyes of mystery.

"To her, men shall not be brutes, whose labor is to be exploited; they shall be brothers, prophets, spirit flames.

"To her, the sex feeling, when it comes, shall be as a lily, which, though its roots grow in common soil, yet lifts its pure petals to perfume the air, to make glad the garden, and to greet the sun.

"To her, Events shall not be as the shaking of dice, the fortuity of chance; but they shall be meaningful moves of the intelligence of destiny, which guides men and things by its own perfect plan.

"We consecrate this child to reverence and against flippancy; to justice, and against all lies.; to loyalty, and against deception; to love, and against all kinds of hate; to patience, and against petulance; to beauty, and against ugliness; to greatness of mind, of heart and of soul, and to the world and the fellowship of the entire human race, against all littleness and narrowness; to the citizenship of the world and against all clans, exclusive sects, cliques and cults.

"And this little Citizen of the World and Heiress of the Future we commend unto that God who has made no thing common and to that Master who loved no less than the whole world."

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