« AnteriorContinuar »
scholar; but in all minds, the religious principle is powerfully developed. God made man for Truth, and Truth for man. Let him have this, then, whatever else you may withhold."
“There seems, too,” rejoined my wife, “to be this analogy also in the natural and moral soils. While the plant feeds upon the soil, it must not be forgotten that the soil feeds upon the atmosphere: if therefore the soil be overrun with weeds, not only do these weeds rob the soil of that which it has, but shut out the sweet influence of the atmosphere, and thus prevent it from receiving that very strength on which there is now a double demand. Just so, the human mind, if overrun by the rampant vegetation of godless knowledge, is excluded from the blessed airs, the dews, the fertilizing rains of heaven, and rendered unfruitful by its very fruitfulness.”
“True; and this brings us to our Third Word-our theory of Sowing. It is a very common error to suppose that you have only to throw in your seed unsparingly to secure a large crop ; but we have just seen why this is not always the case. If you look, Charlotte, at this little table, you will find how sadly some of our agriculturists have misunderstood this point, as regards natural sowing.”.
| 325 | 36
Bushels, 2 } sown on an 2:acre, produce 3
“I dare say you are right, Charles, but I never can understand your tables. I am afraid I have no head for statistics."
"Well then, let me explain it. An acre of ground, if sown with three bushels of corn, would only yield thirteen bushels for each one sown; whilst, if only half that quantity had been put in, it would have produced thirty-six.”
“ Impossible? What! the less seed sown, the more corn?" “Unquestionably."
“Then if you were to sow even less, you might get a still larger crop ?"
“No: that does not follow. Indeed, our table proves otherwise; for, sown at the rate of a bushel to the acre, the produce
is nearly four-fold less. You see, therefore, that Seed and Soil are not the only considerations, but due care must be taken with reference to the sowing. I was just thinking that our friend, the major, furnished a good illustration of the evil of thin-sowing. But one set of ideas appears to have been cast into the mind of that man, and the crop is certainly anything but satisfactory. His parents, sadly afraid of cumbering the soil by putting in too much, fell into the opposite error; and poverty and leanness are the natural results.”
“And on the other hand, Charles, I dare say you are prepared to shew the mischief of thick sowing ; and that other things besides the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the good seed, and hinder its development.”
“Aye; and things apparently innocent in their use, will prove often injurious, if not fatal, by abuse. There are such things as ' Philosophy and Science, falsely so called,' that overgrow the soil, and render it unfruitful. Men may be spoiled now, as well as in the days of the apostle, through philosophy and vain deceit.”
I had scarcely uttered this remark, when a sharp, pert, rattat-tat announced a visitor of some pretension. Living out of the world as we did, visitors were few and far between, and double knocks were things almost unheard of. In a few seconds the knock was repeated with variations, and an additional accent on the last note. Who could it be? On one point there could be no doubt. It was emphatically somebody.
Another second, and all doubt was cleared up. Doctor Shoveller had bowed himself in, and we were exchanging the usual civilities. He had come over to ask if I would honor his "little place,” by meeting “another of the cloth,” as he called him, at Stonecroft, to dinner on that day week.
"-Fact is,” said he, laughing, “ I don't know how to entertain parsons—they get me sometimes on a wrong tack ; but you and he can settle theological matters, and leave me the scientific.”
I was to preach on that evening, and consequently declined the invitation.
“Sorry for it--very sorry," said he, “but it can't be helped. He's a good fellow, too-capital fellow is Glosenfane!"
I was taken by surprise. “Oh! Ah!"-I ejaculated, for
want of knowing what else to say, and perhaps I might have run through all the interjections, not excepting “ Pish! Tush! and Fie!" had not my wife seasonably interposed
“You can't put off that service, Charles," she remarked emphatically-s0 emphatically, in fact, as to settle the matter in the doctor's mind, for he said no more upon the subject.
“ That's a splendid specimen, Enderby,” resumed our visitor, after a few moments' abstraction _“splendid — gorgeous. I shewed it last week to Cloque, and he literally danced round it with delight. He exhibits it at the Marquis's soiree on Saturday."
What that specimen might be, on which the doctor was so eloquent, who could tell? It had, however, been a perpetual presence in his mind since the day of its discovery; and as he had it always before him, he supposed that every one who had once heard of it, or seen it, would retain a perfect recollection of the fact. After a few enquiries and explanations, I found that he alluded to the fossil foot-prints discovered when we met him at the quarry on our way to the Lindens.
“I was right,” he continued—“ quite right-the creature was a toad—a toad as big as an ox—the Labyrinthidon blatans.”
"Perhaps," said my wife, laughing, “ he was the original frog in the fable; and Æsop was wrong in saying that he did not succeed in his attempt to inflate himself to the size of his rival ?”
The doctor evidently did not relish the spirit of this remark. With him geological discoveries were tabuo, or sacred. Resting, as they often did, on mere assumptions in the first instance, they could not well bear to be roughly handled. And fortunately for the abettors of such speculations, the less scientific portion of the community generally allow them to have their own way. Seeing, however, that my wife was disposed to follow up the attack in this instance, I determined to join in it.
“Well,” said I, “ doctor, you have not yet told me how this chirotherium, or labyrinthidon, or marsupial, or chelonian, or opossum, or toad, or whatever it may be, is proved to be a reptile after it has passed for a mammal so many years ?”.
"Whew !” said the doctor, affecting considerable surprise"heigh day, Enderby! What's all this? But you don't hunt me down in this fashion. Have you read my Theory of Development?' You know I am a disciple of La Place ; and I think if you will only study my book, you must allow that I have proved everything in the world, animate and inanimate, to have grown out of a primitive Fire Mist. I have shewn that if" —
“One If,” said I.
-"Hear me, Enderby; and don't interrupt in this way, if you please,” exclaimed the doctor with a sly emphasis on the last words—" If nuclei – if little knots of fire-were formed in it, these might"
“They might! Come, doctor, there's If the third ;" said I, endeavoring to palliate the intrusion by a good humoured laugh.
It would not do. I could see that the disputant was really out of humour. After a short pause, however, he proceeded thus to finish his peroration—“These knots or nuclei might become centres of attraction to the neighbouring diffused matter. Such centres would receive a rotary impulse, or be set spinning, wherever as was the most likely case"
“I beg your pardon ; pray go on,” said I, very humbly, for I had been surprised into the ejaculation.
-"Wherever there was any obliquity in the meeting of the opposing currents.”
“There are three “ifs,' and one likely case;' or, if you prefer it, four ifs, in your argument, doctor. You must excuse me, therefore, if I cannot give you credit for being a very close reasoner. Besides, I do not see what all this has to do with your metamorphosis of an opossum into a toad ?"
“ The doctor launched out into a long and very learned dissertation on his favorite theory of development, endeavouring to show that the earliest efforts of creative power were directed myriads of ages since, to the formation of the lowest organisms to plants and zoophytes; that at a later period these merged into fish; then came reptiles; then birds, and last of all quadrupeds and man. How, therefore, he argued, was it possible to find quadrupeds in those strata of the earth where reptiles only ought to have occurred? This theory of his, though easily re. ducible to plain terms, he discussed with such a vast amount of
erudition and grandiloquence, that my wife confessed herself overpowered, and it was some time before I could see the matter in its true light. It would be almost as easy to rehearse all he did not say, as all he did go free, so fluent, and yet so recondite, were all his reasonings. It was evident that he had studied in Bacon's three schools—Reading, Writing, and Conversation-for he was a full man; a ready man; and, so far as facts went, a correct man."
He had hurried on to the height of his argument; and was just boiling over with energy, not unmixed with a considerable share of his natural irascibility, when another knock at the door announced a second visitor.
How often is the homely proverb, “ It never rains, but it pours," illustrated in the experience of such quiet country folks as ourselves. For months, perhaps, beyond our mere neighbours, and those usually from the lower walks of life, we saw no one ; and now, within an hour, we were scared from our propriety by two double-knocks !
Yet in this latter instance, it was not a case of assault and battery on the unoffending door. It was an easy, gentlemanly knock, just such as might have been expected from the party it introduced, who was no other than the Rev. W. L. Singleton. .
The doctor glanced quickly round as he entered, and of course checked the torrent of his argument, but it was evident, as soon as the usual introductions were over, that he was brooding over the by-play of our doubts and criticisms; and meditating how he might retaliate.
As the business on which Mr. Singleton had called, was somewhat urgent, though not strictly private, he joined us in a conciliatory apology to Dr. Shoveller, and opened it by handing me a letter he had just received. It was couched in language at once uncourteous and unfeeling, and had reference chiefly to Emma Singleton, who was still an inmate of ours, and respecting whose early removal to reside with her uncle, now settled in England, he had called upon us. Need I add that it bore the signature of “ Silenus Glosenfane."
“ Scandalous !” said I, re-folding the letter and returning it.
“I thought so," replied Mr. Singleton, in a subdued, but earnest voice, “though my judgment is perhaps a little warped