George MacDonald.

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Judy, however, did not choose to receive the laugh as
a scholium explanatory of the remark, and was gone in
a moment, leaving Mr Stoddart and myself alone. I
must say he looked a little troubled at the precipitate
retreat of the damsel ; but he recovered himself with a
smile, and said to me,

" I wonder what speech I shall make next to drive
you away, Mr Walton."

" I am not so easily got rid of, Mr Stoddart," I
answered. " And as for taking offence, I don't like it,
and therefore I never take it. But teil me what you are
doing now."

" I have been working for some time at an attempt
after a perpetual motion, but, I must confess, more from
a metaphysical or logical point of view than a mechanical

Here he took a drawing from a shelf, explanatory of
his plan.

" You see," he said, " here is a top made of platinum,
the heaviest of metals, except iridium which it would
be impossible to procure enough of, and which would be
difficult to work into the proper shape. It is surrounded,


you will observe, by an air-tight receiver, communicat-
ing by this tube with a powerful air-pump. The plate
upon which the point of the top rests and revolves is a
diamond ; and I ought to have mentioned that the peg
of the top is a diamond likewise. This is, of course,
for the sake of reducing the friction. By this apparatus
communicating with the top, through the receiver, I set
the top in motion after exhausting the air as far as
possible. Still there is the difficulty of the friction of
the diamond point upon the diamond plate, which must
ultimately occasion repose. To obviate this, I have
constructed here, underneath, a small steam-engine,
which shall cause the diamond plate to revolve at pre-
cisely the same rate of speed as the top itself. This, of
course, will prevent all friction."

" Not that with the unavoidable remnant of air, how-
ever," I ventured to suggest.

" That is just my weak point," he answered. " But
that will be so very small !"

" Yes ; but enough to deprive the top of perpetual

" But suppose I could get over that difficulty, would
the contrivance have a right to the name of a perpetual
motion ? For you observe that the steam-engine below
would not be the cause of the motion. That comes
from above, here, and is withdrawn, finally withdrawn."

" I understand perfectly," I answered. " At least, I
think I do. But I return the question to you : Is a
motion which, although not caused, is enabled by an-
other motion, worthy of the name of a perpetual motion ;


seeing the perpetuity of motion has not to do merely
tvith time, but with the indwelling of self-generative
power renewing itself constantly with the process of
exhaustion t"

He threw clown his file on the bench.

" I fear you are right," he said. " But you will allow
it would have made a very pretty machine."

" Pretty, I will allow," I answered, " as distinguished
from beautiful. For I can never dissociate beauty from

" You say that ! with all the poetic things you say in
your sermons ! For I am a sharp listener, and none the
less such that you do not see me. I have a loophole
for seeing you. And I flatter myself, therefore, I am
the only person in the congregation on a level with you
in respect of balancing advantages. I cannot contradict
you, and you cannot address me."

" Do you mean, then, that whatever is poetical is use-
less?" I asked.

" Do you assert that whatever is useful is beautiful?"
lie retorted.

" A full reply to your question would need a ream of
paper and a quarter of quills," I answered ; " but I think
I may venture so far as to say that whatever subserves a
noble end must in itself be beautiful."

" Then a gallows must be beautiful because it sub-
serves the noble end of ridding the world of male-
factors?" he returned, promptly.

I had to think for a moment before I could reply.

" I do not see anything noble in the end," I answered.


" If the machine got rid of malefaction, it would, indeed,
have a noble end. But if it only compels it to move on,
as a constable does from this world into another I do
not, I say, see anything so noble in that end. The
gallows cannot be beautiful."

"Ah, I see. You don't approve of capital punish-

" I do not say that. An inevitable necessity is some-
thing very different from a noble end. To cure the dis-
eased mind is the noblest of ends ; to make the sinner
forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts,
the loftiest of designs; but to punish him for being
wrong, however necessary it may be for others, cannot,
if dissociated from the object of bringing good out of
evil, be called in any sense a noble end. I think now,
however, it would be but fair in you to give me some
answer to my question. Do you think the poetic use-
less ? "

" I think it is very like my machine. It may exer-
cise the faculties without subserving any immediate

" It is so difficult to get out of the region of the poetic,
that I cannot think it other than useful : it is so wide-
spread. The useless could hardly be so nearly univer-
sal. But I should like to ask you another question :
What is the immediate effect of anything poetic upon
your mind ? "

" Pleasure," he answered.

" And is pleasure good or bad!"

" Sometimes the one, sometimes the other."



" 1 should say so."

" I should not."

" Are you not, then, by your very profession, more or
less an enemy of pleasure ? "

" On the contrary, I believe that pleasure is good, and
does good, and urges to good. Care is the evil thing."

" Strange doctrine for a clergyman."

" Now, do not misunderstand me, Mr Stoddart. That
might not hurt you, but it would distress me. Pleasure,
obtained by wrong, is poison and horror. But it is not
the pleasure that hurts, it is the wrong that is in it that
hurts ; the pleasure hurts only as it leads to more wrong.
I almost think myself, that if you could make everybody
happy, half the evil would vanish from the earth."

" Hut you believe in God I "

" I hope in God I do."

" How can you then think that He would not destroy
evil at such a cheap and pleasant rate."

" Because He wants to destroy all the evil, not the
lialf of it ; and destroy it so that it shall not grow again ;
which it would be sure to do very soon if it had no anti-
dote but happiness. As soon as men got used to happi-
ness, they would begin to sin again, and so lose it all.
But care is distrust. I wonder now if ever there was a
man who did his duty, and took no thought. I wish I
could get the testimony of such a man. Has anybody
actually tried the plan?"

But here I saw that I was not taking Mr Stoddart with
me (as the old phrase was). The reason I supposed to


be, that he had never been troubled with much care.
But there remained the question, whether he trusted in
God or the Bank 1

I went back to the original question.

" But I should be very sorry you should think, that to
give pleasure was my object in saying poetic things in
the pulpit. If I do so, it is because true things come to
me in their natural garments of poetic forms. What you
call the poetic is only the outer beauty that belongs to all
inner or spiritual beauty just as a lovely face mind, I
say lovely, not pretty , not handsome is the outward and
visible presence of a lovely mind. Therefore, saying I
cannot dissociate beauty from use, I am free to say as
many poetic things though, mine?, I don't claim them :
you attribute them to me as shall be of the highest use,
namely, to embody and reveal the true. But a machine
has material use for its end. The most grotesque ma-
chine I ever saw that did something, I felt to be in its
own kind beautiful; as God called many fierce and
grotesque things good when He made the world good
for their good end. But your machine does nothing
more than raise the metaphysical doubt and question,
whether it can with propriety be called a perpetual
motion or not ? "

To this Mr Stoddart making no reply, I take the
opportunity of the break in our conversation to say to
my readers, that I know there was no satisfactory follow-
ing out of an argument on either side in the passage of
words I have just given. Even the closest reasoner
finds it next to impossible to attend to all the sugges-


tions in his own mind, not one of which he is willing to
lose, to attend at the same time to everything his anta-
gonist says or suggests, that he may do him justice, and
to keep an even course towards his goal each having
the opposite goal in view. In fact, an argument, how-
ever simply conducted and honourable, must just resem-
ble a game at football ; the unfortunate question being
the ball, and the numerous and sometimes conflicting
thoughts which arise in each mind forming the two par-
ties whose energies are spent in a succession of kicks.
In fact, I don't like argument, and I don't care for the
victory. If I had my way, I would never argue at all.
I would spend my energy in setting forth what I believe
as like itself as I could represent it, and so leave it to
work its own way, which, if it be the right way, it must
work in the right mind, for Wisdom is justified of her
children ; while no one who loves the truth can be other
than anxious, that if he has spoken the evil thing it may
return to him void : that is a defeat he may well pray
for. To succeed in the wrong is the most dreadful
punishment to a man who, in the main, is honest. But
I beg to assure my reader I could write a long treatise
on the matter between Mr Stoddart and myself; there-
fore, if he is not yet interested in such questions, let him
be thankful to me for considering such a treatise out of
place here. I will only say in brief, that I believe with
all my heart that the true is the beautiful, and that no-
thing evil can be other than ugly. If it seems not so, it
is in virtue of some good mingled with the evil, and not
in the smallest degree in virtue of the evil.


I thought it was time for me to take my leave. But
I could not bear to run away with the last word, as It
were : so I said,

" You put plenty of poetry yourself into that voluntary
you played last Sunday. I am so much obliged to you
for it ! "

" Oh ! that fugue. You liked it, did you i "

" More than I can tell you."

" I am very glad."

" Do you know those two lines of Milton in which he
describes such a performance on the organ'?'*

" No. Can you repeat them ? "

" ' His volant touch,

Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue. ' "

" That is wonderfully fine. Thank you. That is
better than my fugue by a good deal. You have can-
celled the obligation."

" Do you think doing a good turn again is cancelling
an obligation ? I don't think an obligation can ever be
returned in the sense of being got rid of. But I am
being hypercritical."

" Not at all. Shall I tell you what I was thinking of
while playing that fugue ? "

" I should like much to hear."

" I had been thinking, while you were preaching, of
the many fancies men had worshipped for the truth ;
now following this, now following that ; ever believing
they were on the point of laying hold upon her, and
going down to the grave empty-handed as they came."


"And empty-hearted, too?" I asked; but he went on
without heeding me.

" And I saw a vision of multitudes following, follow-
ing where nothing was to be seen, with arms out-
stretched in all directions, some clasping vacancy to
their bosoms, some reaching on tiptoe over the heads
of their neighbours, and some with hanging heads, and
hands clasped behind their backs, retiring hopeless from
the chase."

" Strange ! " I said ; " for I felt so full of hope while
you played, that I never doubted it was hope you meant
to express."

"So I do not doubt I did; for the multitude was full
of hope, vain hope, to lay hold upon the truth. And
you, being full of the main expression, and in sympathy
with it, did not heed the undertones of disappointment,
or the sighs of those who turned their backs on the
chase. Just so it is in life."

" I am no musician," I returned, " to give you a
musical counter to your picture. But I see a grave
man tilling the ground in peace, and the form of Truth
standing behind him, and folding her wings closer and
closer over and around him as he works on at his day's

" Very pretty," said Mr Stoddart, and said no more.

" Suppose," I went on, " that a person knows that he
has not laid hold on the truth, is that sufficient ground
for his making any further assertion than that he has
not found it I ''

" No. But if he has tried hard and has not found


anything that he can say is true, he cannot help thinking
that most likely there is no such thing."

" Suppose," I said, " that nobody has found the truth,
is that sufficient ground for saying that nobody ever will
find it? or that there is no such thing as truth to be
found? Are the ages so nearly done that no chance
yet remains 1 Surely if God has made us to desire the
truth, He has got some truth to cast into the gulf of
that desire. Shall God create hunger and no food ?
But possibly a man may be looking the wrong way for
it. You may be using the microscope, when you ought
to open both eyes and lift up your head. Or a man
may be finding some truth which is feeding his soul,
when he does not think he is finding any. You know
the Fairy Queen. Think how long the Redcross Knight
travelled with the Lady Truth Una, you know with-
out learning to believe in her; and how much longer still
without ever seeing her face. For my part, may God
give me strength to follow till I die. Only I will venture
to say this, that it is not by any agony of the intellect
that I expect to discover her."

Mr Stoddart sat drumming silently with his fingers, a
half-smile on his face, and his eyes raised at an angle of
forty-five degrees. I felt that the enthusiasm with which
I had spoken was thrown away upon him. But I was
not going to be ashamed therefore. I would put some
faith in his best nature.

" But does not," he said, gently lowering his eyes
upon mine after a moment's pause " does not your
choice of a profession imply that you have not to give


chase to a fleeting phantom? Do you not profess to
have, and hold, and therefore teach the truth?"

" I profess only to have caught glimpses of her white
garments, those, I mean, of the abstract truth of which
you speak. But I have seen that which is eternally be-
yond her : the ideal in the real, the living truth, not the
truth that I can think, but the truth that thinks itself,
that thinks me, that God has thought, yea, that God is,
the truth being true to itself and to God and to man
Christ Jesus, my Lord, who knows, and feels, and does
the truth. I have seen Him, and I am both content
and unsatisfied. For in Him are hid all the treasures
of wisdom and knowledge. Thomas a Kempis says :
' Cui aeternum Verbum loquitur, ille a multis opinionibus
cxpeditur.' " (He to whom the eternal Word speaks, is
set free from a press of opinions.)

I rose, and held out my hand to Mr Stoddart. He
rose likewise, and took it kindly, conducted me to the
room below, and ringing the bell, committed me to the
care of the butler.

As I approached the gate, I met Jane Rogers coming
back from the village. I stopped and spoke to her.
Her eyes were very red.

"Nothing amiss at home, Jane?" I said.

" No, sir, thank you," answered Jane, and burst out

"What is the matter, then? Is your '

" Nothing 's the matter with nobody, sir."
"Something is the matter with you."


" Yes, sir. But I 'm quite well."

"I don't want to pry into your affairs; but if you
think I can be of any use to you, mind you come to

" Thank you kindly, sir," said Jane ; and, dropping a
courtesy, walked on with her basket

I went to her parents' cottage. As I came near the
mill, the young miller was standing in the door with his
eyes fixed on the ground, while the mill went on hop-
ping behind him. But when he caught sight of me, he
turned, and went in, as if he had not seen me.

" Has he been behaving ill to Jane?" thought I.

As he evidently wished to avoid me, I passed the mill
without looking in at the door, as I was in the habit of
doing, and went on to the cottage, where I lifted the
latch, and walked in. Both the old people were there,
and both looked troubled, though they welcomed me
none the less kindly.

" I met Jane," I said, " and she looked unhappy ; so
I came on to hear what was the matter."

" You oughtn't to be troubled with our small affairs,"
said Mrs Rogers.

" If the parson wants to know, Avhy, the parson must
be told," said Old Rogers, smiling cheerily, as if he, at
least, would be relieved by telling me.

" I don't want to know," I said, " if you don't want to
tell me. But can I be of any use 1 ?"

"I don't think you can, sir, leastways, I'm afraid
not," said the old woman.

" I am sorry to say, sir, that Master Brownrigg and


his son has come to words about our Jane ; and it's not
agreeable to have folk's daughter quarrelled over in that
way," said Old Rogers. " What '11 be the upshot on it,
I don't know, but it looks bad now. For the father he
telis the son that if ever he hear of him saying one word
to our Jane, out ov the mill he goes, as sure as his
name's Dick. Now, it's rather a good chance, I think,
to see what the young fellow 's made of, sir. So I tells
my old 'oman here ; and so I told Jane. But neither on
'em seems to see the comfort of it somehow. But the
New Testament do say a man shall leave father and
mother, and cleave to his wife."

" But she ain't his wife yet," said Mrs Rogers to her
husband, whose drift was not yet evident.

" No more she can be, 'cept he leaves his father for

" And what '11 become of them then, without the mill ?"

" You and me never had no mill, old 'oman," said
Rogers; "yet here we be, very nearly ripe now, ain't
us, wife?"

" Medlar-like, Old Rogers, I doubt, rotten before
we 're ripe," replied his wife, quoting a more humorous
than refined proverb.

" Nay, nay, old 'oman. Don't 'e say so. The Lord
won't let us rot before we 're ripe, anyhow. That I be
sure on."

" But, anyhow, it's all very well to talk. Thou knows
how to talk, Rogers. But how will it be when the
children comes, and no mill ?"

" To grind 'em in, old 'oman ?"


Mrs Rogers turned to me. who was listening with real
interest, and much amusement.

" I wish you would speak a word to Old Rogers, sir.
He never will speak as he's spoken to. He's always
over merry, or over serious. He either takes me up
short with a sermon, or he laughs me out of countenance
that I don't know where to look."

Now I was pretty sure that Rogers's conduct was
simple consistency, and that the difficulty arose from his
always acting upon one or two of the plainest principles
of truth and right ; whereas his wife, good woman for
the bad, old leaven of the Pharisees could not rise much
in her somehow was always reminding him of certain
precepts of behaviour to the oblivion of principles. " A
bird in the hand," &c. " Marry in haste," &c. " When
want comes in at the door love flies out at the window,"
were amongst her favourite sayings; although not one of
them was supported by her own experience. For in-
stance, she had married in haste herself, and never, I
believe, had once thought of repenting of it, although
she had had far more than the requisite leisure for doing
so. And many was the time that want had come in at
her door, and the first thing it always did was to clip
the wings of Love, and make him less flighty, and more
tender and serviceable. So I could not even pretend to
read her husband a lecture.

" He 's a curious man, Old Rogers," I said. " But as
far as I can see, he 's in the right, in the main. Isn't he

" Oh, yes, I daresay. I think he 's always right about


the rights of the thing, you know. But a body may go
too far that way. It won't do to starve, sir."

Strange confusion or, ought I not rather to say?
ordinary and commonplace confusion of ideas !

" I don't think," I said, " any one can go too far in
the right way."

" That's just what I want my old 'oman to see, and I
can't get it into her, sir. If a thing's right, it's right,
and if a thing's wrong, why, wrong it is. The helm must
either be to starboard or port, sir."

" But why talk of starving?" I said. "Can't Dick
work ? Who could think of starting that nonsense ?"

" Why, my old 'oman here. She wants 'em to give it
up, and wait for better times. The fact is, she don't
want to lose the girl."

" But she hasn't got her at home now."

" She can have her when she wants her, though
leastways after a bit of warning. Whereas, if she was
married, and the consequences a follerin' at her heels,
like a man-o'-war with her convoy, she would find she
was chartered for another port, she would."

" Well, you sec, sir, Rogers and me 's not so young as
we once was, and we 're likely to be growing older every
day. And if there 's a difficulty in the way of Jane's
marriage, why, I take it as a Godsend."

" How would you have liked such a Godsend, Mrs
Rogers, when you were going to be married to your
sailor here? What would you have done?"

" Why, whatever he liked to be sure. But then, you
see, Dick's not my Rogers."


" But your daughter thinks about him much in the
same way as you did about this dear old man here when
he was young."

" Young people may be in the wrong, / see nothing
in Dick Brownrigg."

" But young people may be right sometimes, and old
people may be wrong sometimes."

" I can't be wrong about Rogers."

" No, but you may be wrong about Dick."

" Don't you trouble yourself about my old 'oman, sir.
She allus was awk'ard in stays, but she never missed
them yet. When she 's said her say, round she comes
in the wind like a bird, sir."

" There 's a good old man to stick up for your old
wife ! Still, I say, they may as well wait a bit It
would be a pity to anger the old gentleman."

" What does the young man say to it ?"

" Why, he says, like a man, he can work for her as
well's the mill, and he's ready, if she is."

" I am very glad to hear such a good account ot
him. I shall look in, and have a little chat with him.
I always liked the look of him. Good morning, Mrs

" I '11 see you across the stream, sir," said the old man,
following me out of the house.

" You see, sir," he resumed, as soon as we were out-
side, " I 'm always afeard of taking things out of the
Lord's hands. It's the right way, surely, that when a
man loves a woman, and has told her so, he should act
like a man, and do as is right. And isn't that the Lord's


wayt And can't He give them what's good for them.
Mayhap they won't love each other the less in the end
if Dick has a little bit of the hard work that many a man
that the Lord loved none the less has had before him.
I wouldn't like to anger the old gentleman, as my wife
says ; but if I was Dick, I know what 1 would do. But
dont 'e think hard of my wife, sir, for I believe there 's a
bit of pride in it. She 's afcard of bein' supposed to
catch at Richard Brownrig'/, because he 's above us, you
know, sir. And I can't altogether blame her, only we
ain't got to do with the look o' things, but with the
things themselves."

" I understand you quite, and I 'm very much of your
mind. You can trust me to have a little chat with him ;
can't you?"

" That I can, sir."

Here we had come to the boundary of his garden
the busy stream that ran away, as if it was scared at the
labour it had been compelled to go through, and was
now making the best of its speed back to its mother-
ocean, to tell sad tales of a world where every little
brook must do some work ere it gets back to its rest. I
bade him good day, jumped across it, and went into the
mill, where Richard was tying the mouth of a sack, as
gloomily as the brothers of Joseph must have tied their
sacks after his silver cup had been found.

" Why did you turn away from me, as I passed half-
an-hour ago, Richard ?" I said, cheerily.

" I beg your pardon, sir. I didn't think you saw

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