« ZurückWeiter »
subject of great importance. As we came up to them, I recog. nized an old acquaintance, Mr. Sidney Shoveller, commonly though by courtesy alone, better known by the style and title of Doctor Shoveller, of Stonecroft. He was a short but thin man, between fifty and sixty, with shrivelled features, like old parchment, a retired apothecary, resident but a few miles of, in an old stone-built house of the heavy order of architecture. Here though, he had his museum, and his picture gallery, and his laboratory, and here he sometimes entertained a select circle of the London literati, for whom he was an efficient caterer, and through whom (for the doctor himself never came out in print), he now and then enlightened the world, or rather that infinitesimal section of it, which read the Transactions,' or the ‘Proceedings,' or the Minutes,' of the various learned societies with which these literati were connected.
They were attentively examining the large stone which had been blown in pieces by the explosion we had witnessed. It had broken into three large masses vertically, at the same time splitting in a horizontal direction, and discovering a number of curious indents on the surface so exposed. They appeared to be the foot prints of some large animal; and as they alternated with smaller impressions of the same kind, it was most natural to suppose, that they belonged to some quadruped whose fore and hind feet were differently proportioned. Though but little of a geologist, I had heard and read of such a creature-a gigantic opossum, called I think, provisionally, the chirotherium, and I hinted that these foot prints might belong to the same creature.
The doctor shook his head, and looked grave, “ No,” said he “ we don't find the mammalia so early; it must be a batrachian or a saurian—a frog or a lizard."
“ I should think it was what it looks most like,” said Charley, but he was soon silenced by a severe frown from the doctor. “ And pray, young gentleman," he added, “ what does it look most like?”
My boy gave no reply, but unwilling to drop the argument, I asked the doctor for an explanation of his remark, that the mammalia were not found “ so early."
He told me he used that expression in a geological sense, that creation had been progressive, that the world at first had no
living thing upon it, that vegetables came first, then zoophytes, then fishes, then reptiles, and then quadrupeds properly so called. And at last came our own species.
“ The diapason closing full in man.” “ If, therefore,” he added, “we were to find fossil quadrupeds, or any traces of them, in older strata than those which contained reptiles, it would of course be opposed to our theory."
“ Well but,” said I, “ is it not better to give up a theory, than a fact ? Your theory in this instance was not invented a year or two since: your opossum then, was an opossum; but now it is a toad; and all through this theory of yours.”
The doctor affected not to hear me: he was humming a low tune, and directing the operations of the workmen, who were carefully removing every fragment of the stone, to a place of safety, preparatory to its being conveyed home to his residence. He had been hitherto so absorbed with this discovery, that he had omitted to introduce us to a friend of his, among the little party of spectators. Glad of an opportunity just then to change the conversation, he turned round abruptly.
" I beg pardon, Goode,” he said, “ these are friends of mine," “Enderby, Major Goode; Major, Mrs. Enderby, Mr. Enderby, and ditto ditto, miniature edition, in blue with a tuck,' too, as the booksellers say,” he continued, looking slyly at the boy's pelisse.
The major bowed stiffly, and bit his lips at the strange soubriquet given to the boy. He never made jokes himself, and never understood them in others; and he saw no reason why Master Enderby should not have been introduced by his proper name. “Well,” said he, turning again to Dr. Shoveller, “I must be off-good morning."
“ Stay, stay, you must not run away just now," rejoined the doctor, “ you surely feel a little interest in this discovery ; I want you to satisfy yourself that there are at least some facts in geology. Look now at these foot prints, and tell me honestly, how you think they came there."
“ How do you know they are foot prints ? ” asked the major snappishly.
“Why, look at them, what else can they be?” rejoined the other, “ they are as perfect as if made yesterday, you may see the cast of one of the nails here, very distinctly."
“ I don't wish to look at them," retorted the major, “ you geologists are all infidels, geology is a lie, an invention of the evil one, and I don't believe one word about it.”
“But surely you believe a fact like this ; you believe that we have discovered some curious impressions in the heart of this rock?”
“ I believe it's all nonsense,” said the major, forcing a smile to qualify the rudeness of such a remark. Then, as if anxious to escape from his dilemma, he turned towards ourselves, and having been in due form introduced to Miss Singleton, expressed a hope that it would not be long before we called on him. We assured him it had been our intention to do so for some time, and that we would take the first opportunity of carrying out our purpose. Having exchanged a few further remarks, he bade the doctor and ourselves good bye, and turned homewards.
“Prejudiced fellow, that!” said the doctor, before he was scarcely out of hearing, “ did you ever see his like! He never will see anything he does not wish to see; your facts and arguments are all thrown away upon such men.”
“Well,” I remarked, “ perhaps we are all prejudiced : I have my predilections, and you probably have yours. Nay, I may say certainly ; for you have just shewn us, how a theory of yours, a theory, I mean, common to all geologists, has obliged you to change an opossum into a toad. And now I recollect it, this same theory has just led one of our greatest anatomists to transform an albatross into a pterodactyle, a bird into a lizard. You don't wish to find birds and quadrupeds in such ancient strata ; and therefore, you turn them into fishes and reptiles."
The doctor, though often jocose, and always communicative, was by no means good tempered. Knowing nothing of the power of religion, though not an avowed infidel, he often spoke his mind too freely, and when beaten in argument, grew irascible. At these times he would speak not only unadvisedly, but in terms bordering on profanity. After a little more skirmishing on the subject of his prejudices, he began to interlace his remarks with a few trifling oaths' as they are thoughtlessly called by worldly men; as if any profanation of holy things could be properly described by such an epithet. Finding that the conversation was taking an unpleasant turn, we soon wished him
good morning, and resumed our walk, leaving him still busy in collecting and collating the fragments of his specimen.
The unpleasant result of our controversy had left a depression on my spirits. For some little distance we proceeded in silence, when Charley was the first to speak.
“Father,” said he thoughtfully, “is Dr. Shoveller a wise
“ He is clever," I replied, “and is, I believe what you would call a learned man; he reads a great deal, he understands many languages, and is thought quite a philosopher by every one."
“ But is he wise ? father.”
" Why what should you think, my boy, after what I have said : but what makes you ask?"
“Because I was thinking, father, of the chapter you read this morning. It says, you know, “ The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;' and I thought if he feared God, he would'nt have taken his name in vain.”
“ Then you think he cannot be a wise man without the fear of God ? I believe you are right in a certain sense, but I was speaking of his wisdom in other matters. He may know a great deal without being wise in religious things."
“ But there's another text, father, which says “The fear of the Lord is, the beginning of wisdom,' and I don't see how any man can be wise at all, if he does not begin at the beginning."
The idea had never struck me so forcibly before, and the more I thought about it, the more I felt persuaded that this must be the great seminal principle of all true, useful, efficient instruction. Calling to mind my previous conversation on the subject of our little tramper, and viewing it in connection with the chapter we had read this morning, I obtained the first clue to the development of my wife's ideas upon Education. Now, thought I to myself, I have it: the first of your “ Three Words is —
Had my wife known that I was so deep in thought, she would not just at this crisis have called off my attention. But not being gifted above ordinary mortals, she could not be aware of what was passing within my mind.
“Here we are, Charles,” she said, halting at the last stile in our walk, and pointing to the pretty cottage just across the road, " this is Mr. Walkinshaw's!"
I looked up, and perhaps under first impressions, wished that I was Mr. Walkinshaw, for a sweeter little home than that before us, I had never met with, amongst the many sweet homes of our sweet island.
We crossed the stile, and before we came up to the door, were welcomed by Miss Laura Walkinshaw, to " The Lindens" as they called their little dwelling-place.
H. R. E. (To be continued)
“IS THIS GEOGRAPHY ?” Many months had passed away since my visit to Mrs. Grant;* and Jane and Mary had been for more than half a year under Mrs. Walters' roof, before I saw them again.
At the end of that time I became, also, a temporary inmate of the pleasant cottage at Oaklands, and was delighted to see my young friends looking well and happy, and that there was evidently a warm affection subsisting between them and their instructress. As we were sitting at breakfast the morning after my arrival, and I was inquiring into the routine for the day, Mary informed me that my predictions were fully realized, and that she now looked forward to her Geography Lesson, as one of the pleasantest of the day.
I was a privileged person at Oaklands, and was allowed to take my work and sit in the school-room whenever I pleased, so I told Mary that I should certainly make my appearance at eleven o'clock, which she informed me was the hour of the geography lesson, as I should very much like to hear what was going on.
“We are going to begin to-day,” said Mrs. Walters, “ to track St. Paul in his “journeyings oft.” I found that some of our party had but an indistinct idea of the different laces which he visited. We have been going through the Acts of the Apostles in our Bible class, and I thought that this would be a suitable supplement to it.”
As I was interested in the way in which Mrs. Walters instructed her young people, I have made a few notes of various
* See page 215