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´╗┐Title: Madam How and Lady Why
Author: Kingsley, Charles, 1819-1875
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcribed from the 1889 Macmillan and Co. edition by David Price, email



To my son Grenville Arthur, and to his school-fellows at Winton House
This little book is dedicated.


My dear boys,--When I was your age, there were no such children's books
as there are now.  Those which we had were few and dull, and the pictures
in them ugly and mean: while you have your choice of books without
number, clear, amusing, and pretty, as well as really instructive, on
subjects which were only talked of fifty years ago by a few learned men,
and very little understood even by them.  So if mere reading of books
would make wise men, you ought to grow up much wiser than us old fellows.
But mere reading of wise books will not make you wise men: you must use
for yourselves the tools with which books are made wise; and that is--your
eyes, and ears, and common sense.

Now, among those very stupid old-fashioned boys' books was one which
taught me that; and therefore I am more grateful to it than if it had
been as full of wonderful pictures as all the natural history books you
ever saw.  Its name was _Evenings at Home_; and in it was a story called
"Eyes and no Eyes;" a regular old-fashioned, prim, sententious story; and
it began thus:--

"Well, Robert, where have you been walking this afternoon?" said Mr.
Andrews to one of his pupils at the close of a holiday.

Oh--Robert had been to Broom Heath, and round by Camp Mount, and home
through the meadows.  But it was very dull.  He hardly saw a single
person.  He had much rather have gone by the turnpike-road.

Presently in comes Master William, the other pupil, dressed, I suppose,
as wretched boys used to be dressed forty years ago, in a frill collar,
and skeleton monkey-jacket, and tight trousers buttoned over it, and
hardly coming down to his ancles; and low shoes, which always came off in
sticky ground; and terribly dirty and wet he is: but he never (he says)
had such a pleasant walk in his life; and he has brought home his
handkerchief (for boys had no pockets in those days much bigger than key-
holes) full of curiosities.

He has got a piece of mistletoe, wants to know what it is; and he has
seen a woodpecker, and a wheat-ear, and gathered strange flowers on the
heath; and hunted a peewit because he thought its wing was broken, till
of course it led him into a bog, and very wet he got.  But he did not
mind it, because he fell in with an old man cutting turf, who told him
all about turf-cutting, and gave him a dead adder.  And then he went up a
hill, and saw a grand prospect; and wanted to go again, and make out the
geography of the country from Cary's old county maps, which were the only
maps in those days.  And then, because the hill was called Camp Mount, he
looked for a Roman camp, and found one; and then he went down to the
river, saw twenty things more; and so on, and so on, till he had brought
home curiosities enough, and thoughts enough, to last him a week.

Whereon Mr. Andrews, who seems to have been a very sensible old
gentleman, tells him all about his curiosities: and then it comes out--if
you will believe it--that Master William has been over the very same
ground as Master Robert, who saw nothing at all.

Whereon Mr. Andrews says, wisely enough, in his solemn old-fashioned

"So it is.  One man walks through the world with his eyes open, another
with his eyes shut; and upon this difference depends all the superiority
of knowledge which one man acquires over another.  I have known sailors
who had been in all the quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing
but the signs of the tippling-houses, and the price and quality of the
liquor.  On the other hand, Franklin could not cross the Channel without
making observations useful to mankind.  While many a vacant thoughtless
youth is whirled through Europe without gaining a single idea worth
crossing the street for, the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter
of improvement and delight in every ramble.  You, then, William, continue
to use your eyes.  And you, Robert, learn that eyes were given to you to

So said Mr. Andrews: and so I say, dear boys--and so says he who has the
charge of you--to you.  Therefore I beg all good boys among you to think
over this story, and settle in their own minds whether they will be eyes
or no eyes; whether they will, as they grow up, look and see for
themselves what happens: or whether they will let other people look for
them, or pretend to look; and dupe them, and lead them about--the blind
leading the blind, till both fall into the ditch.

I say "good boys;" not merely clever boys, or prudent boys: because using
your eyes, or not using them, is a question of doing Right or doing
Wrong.  God has given you eyes; it is your duty to God to use them.  If
your parents tried to teach you your lessons in the most agreeable way,
by beautiful picture-books, would it not be ungracious, ungrateful, and
altogether naughty and wrong, to shut your eyes to those pictures, and
refuse to learn?  And is it not altogether naughty and wrong to refuse to
learn from your Father in Heaven, the Great God who made all things, when
he offers to teach you all day long by the most beautiful and most
wonderful of all picture-books, which is simply all things which you can
see, hear, and touch, from the sun and stars above your head to the
mosses and insects at your feet?  It is your duty to learn His lessons:
and it is your interest.  God's Book, which is the Universe, and the
reading of God's Book, which is Science, can do you nothing but good, and
teach you nothing but truth and wisdom.  God did not put this wondrous
world about your young souls to tempt or to mislead them.  If you ask Him
for a fish, he will not give you a serpent.  If you ask Him for bread, He
will not give you a stone.

So use your eyes and your intellect, your senses and your brains, and
learn what God is trying to teach you continually by them.  I do not mean
that you must stop there, and learn nothing more.  Anything but that.
There are things which neither your senses nor your brains can tell you;
and they are not only more glorious, but actually more true and more real
than any things which you can see or touch.  But you must begin at the
beginning in order to end at the end, and sow the seed if you wish to
gather the fruit.  God has ordained that you, and every child which comes
into the world, should begin by learning something of the world about him
by his senses and his brain; and the better you learn what they can teach
you, the more fit you will be to learn what they cannot teach you.  The
more you try now to understand _things_, the more you will be able
hereafter to understand men, and That which is above men.  You began to
find out that truly Divine mystery, that you had a mother on earth,
simply by lying soft and warm upon her bosom; and so (as Our Lord told
the Jews of old) it is by watching the common natural things around you,
and considering the lilies of the field, how they grow, that you will
begin at least to learn that far Diviner mystery, that you have a Father
in Heaven.  And so you will be delivered (if you will) out of the tyranny
of darkness, and distrust, and fear, into God's free kingdom of light,
and faith, and love; and will be safe from the venom of that tree which
is more deadly than the fabled upas of the East.  Who planted that tree I
know not, it was planted so long ago: but surely it is none of God's
planting, neither of the Son of God: yet it grows in all lands and in all
climes, and sends its hidden suckers far and wide, even (unless we be
watchful) into your hearts and mine.  And its name is the Tree of
Unreason, whose roots are conceit and ignorance, and its juices folly and
death.  It drops its venom into the finest brains; and makes them call
sense, nonsense; and nonsense, sense; fact, fiction; and fiction, fact.
It drops its venom into the tenderest hearts, alas! and makes them call
wrong, right; and right, wrong; love, cruelty; and cruelty, love.  Some
say that the axe is laid to the root of it just now, and that it is
already tottering to its fall: while others say that it is growing
stronger than ever, and ready to spread its upas-shade over the whole
earth.  For my part, I know not, save that all shall be as God wills.  The
tree has been cut down already again and again; and yet has always thrown
out fresh shoots and dropped fresh poison from its boughs.  But this at
least I know: that any little child, who will use the faculties God has
given him, may find an antidote to all its poison in the meanest herb
beneath his feet.

There, you do not understand me, my boys; and the best prayer I can offer
for you is, perhaps, that you should never need to understand me: but if
that sore need should come, and that poison should begin to spread its
mist over your brains and hearts, then you will be proof against it; just
in proportion as you have used the eyes and the common sense which God
has given you, and have considered the lilies of the field, how they



You find it dull walking up here upon Hartford Bridge Flat this sad
November day?  Well, I do not deny that the moor looks somewhat dreary,
though dull it need never be.  Though the fog is clinging to the
fir-trees, and creeping among the heather, till you cannot see as far as
Minley Corner, hardly as far as Bramshill woods--and all the Berkshire
hills are as invisible as if it was a dark midnight--yet there is plenty
to be seen here at our very feet.  Though there is nothing left for you
to pick, and all the flowers are dead and brown, except here and there a
poor half-withered scrap of bottle-heath, and nothing left for you to
catch either, for the butterflies and insects are all dead too, except
one poor old Daddy-long-legs, who sits upon that piece of turf, boring a
hole with her tail to lay her eggs in, before the frost catches her and
ends her like the rest: though all things, I say, seem dead, yet there is
plenty of life around you, at your feet, I may almost say in the very
stones on which you tread.  And though the place itself be dreary enough,
a sheet of flat heather and a little glen in it, with banks of dead fern,
and a brown bog between them, and a few fir-trees struggling up--yet, if
you only have eyes to see it, that little bit of glen is beautiful and
wonderful,--so beautiful and so wonderful and so cunningly devised, that
it took thousands of years to make it; and it is not, I believe, half
finished yet.

How do I know all that?  Because a fairy told it me; a fairy who lives up
here upon the moor, and indeed in most places else, if people have but
eyes to see her.  What is her name?  I cannot tell.  The best name that I
can give her (and I think it must be something like her real name,
because she will always answer if you call her by it patiently and
reverently) is Madam How.  She will come in good time, if she is called,
even by a little child.  And she will let us see her at her work, and,
what is more, teach us to copy her.  But there is another fairy here
likewise, whom we can hardly hope to see.  Very thankful should we be if
she lifted even the smallest corner of her veil, and showed us but for a
moment if it were but her finger tip--so beautiful is she, and yet so
awful too.  But that sight, I believe, would not make us proud, as if we
had had some great privilege.  No, my dear child: it would make us feel
smaller, and meaner, and more stupid and more ignorant than we had ever
felt in our lives before; at the same time it would make us wiser than
ever we were in our lives before--that one glimpse of the great glory of
her whom we call Lady Why.

But I will say more of her presently.  We must talk first with Madam How,
and perhaps she may help us hereafter to see Lady Why.  For she is the
servant, and Lady Why is the mistress; though she has a Master over her
again--whose name I leave for you to guess.  You have heard it often
already, and you will hear it again, for ever and ever.

But of one thing I must warn you, that you must not confound Madam How
and Lady Why.  Many people do it, and fall into great mistakes
thereby,--mistakes that even a little child, if it would think, need not
commit.  But really great philosophers sometimes make this mistake about
Why and How; and therefore it is no wonder if other people make it too,
when they write children's books about the wonders of nature, and call
them "Why and Because," or "The Reason Why."  The books are very good
books, and you should read and study them: but they do not tell you
really "Why and Because," but only "How and So."  They do not tell you
the "Reason Why" things happen, but only "The Way in which they happen."
However, I must not blame these good folks, for I have made the same
mistake myself often, and may do it again: but all the more shame to me.
For see--you know perfectly the difference between How and Why, when you
are talking about yourself.  If I ask you, "Why did we go out to-day?"
You would not answer, "Because we opened the door."  That is the answer
to "How did we go out?"  The answer to Why did we go out is, "Because we
chose to take a walk."  Now when we talk about other things beside
ourselves, we must remember this same difference between How and Why.  If
I ask you, "Why does fire burn you?" you would answer, I suppose, being a
little boy, "Because it is hot;" which is all you know about it.  But if
you were a great chemist, instead of a little boy, you would be apt to
answer me, I am afraid, "Fire burns because the vibratory motion of the
molecules of the heated substance communicates itself to the molecules of
my skin, and so destroys their tissue;" which is, I dare say, quite true:
but it only tells us how fire burns, the way or means by which it burns;
it does not tell us the reason why it burns.

But you will ask, "If that is not the reason why fire burns, what is?"  My
dear child, I do not know.  That is Lady Why's business, who is mistress
of Mrs. How, and of you and of me; and, as I think, of all things that
you ever saw, or can see, or even dream.  And what her reason for making
fire burn may be I cannot tell.  But I believe on excellent grounds that
her reason is a very good one.  If I dare to guess, I should say that one
reason, at least, why fire burns, is that you may take care not to play
with it, and so not only scorch your finger, but set your whole bed on
fire, and perhaps the house into the bargain, as you might be tempted to
do if putting your finger in the fire were as pleasant as putting sugar
in your mouth.

My dear child, if I could once get clearly into your head this difference
between Why and How, so that you should remember them steadily in after
life, I should have done you more good than if I had given you a thousand

But now that we know that How and Why are two very different matters, and
must not be confounded with each other, let us look for Madam How, and
see her at work making this little glen; for, as I told you, it is not
half made yet.  One thing we shall see at once, and see it more and more
clearly the older we grow; I mean her wonderful patience and diligence.
Madam How is never idle for an instant.  Nothing is too great or too
small for her; and she keeps her work before her eye in the same moment,
and makes every separate bit of it help every other bit.  She will keep
the sun and stars in order, while she looks after poor old Mrs. Daddy-
long-legs there and her eggs.  She will spend thousands of years in
building up a mountain, and thousands of years in grinding it down again;
and then carefully polish every grain of sand which falls from that
mountain, and put it in its right place, where it will be wanted
thousands of years hence; and she will take just as much trouble about
that one grain of sand as she did about the whole mountain.  She will
settle the exact place where Mrs. Daddy-long-legs shall lay her eggs, at
the very same time that she is settling what shall happen hundreds of
years hence in a stair millions of miles away.  And I really believe that
Madam How knows her work so thoroughly, that the grain of sand which
sticks now to your shoe, and the weight of Mrs. Daddy-long-legs' eggs at
the bottom of her hole, will have an effect upon suns and stars ages
after you and I are dead and gone.  Most patient indeed is Madam How.  She
does not mind the least seeing her own work destroyed; she knows that it
must be destroyed.  There is a spell upon her, and a fate, that
everything she makes she must unmake again: and yet, good and wise woman
as she is, she never frets, nor tires, nor fudges her work, as we say at
school.  She takes just as much pains to make an acorn as to make a
peach.  She takes just as much pains about the acorn which the pig eats,
as about the acorn which will grow into a tall oak, and help to build a
great ship.  She took just as much pains, again, about the acorn which
you crushed under your foot just now, and which you fancy will never come
to anything.  Madam How is wiser than that.  She knows that it will come
to something.  She will find some use for it, as she finds a use for
everything.  That acorn which you crushed will turn into mould, and that
mould will go to feed the roots of some plant, perhaps next year, if it
lies where it is; or perhaps it will be washed into the brook, and then
into the river, and go down to the sea, and will feed the roots of some
plant in some new continent ages and ages hence: and so Madam How will
have her own again.  You dropped your stick into the river yesterday, and
it floated away.  You were sorry, because it had cost you a great deal of
trouble to cut it, and peel it, and carve a head and your name on it.
Madam How was not sorry, though she had taken a great deal more trouble
with that stick than ever you had taken.  She had been three years making
that stick, out of many things, sunbeams among the rest.  But when it
fell into the river, Madam How knew that she should not lose her sunbeams
nor anything else: the stick would float down the river, and on into the
sea; and there, when it got heavy with the salt water, it would sink, and
lodge, and be buried, and perhaps ages hence turn into coal; and ages
after that some one would dig it up and burn it, and then out would come,
as bright warm flame, all the sunbeams that were stored away in that
stick: and so Madam How would have her own again.  And if that should not
be the fate of your stick, still something else will happen to it just as
useful in the long run; for Madam How never loses anything, but uses up
all her scraps and odds and ends somehow, somewhere, somewhen, as is fit
and proper for the Housekeeper of the whole Universe.  Indeed, Madam How
is so patient that some people fancy her stupid, and think that, because
she does not fall into a passion every time you steal her sweets, or
break her crockery, or disarrange her furniture, therefore she does not
care.  But I advise you as a little boy, and still more when you grow up
to be a man, not to get that fancy into your head; for you will find
that, however good-natured and patient Madam How is in most matters, her
keeping silence and not seeming to see you is no sign that she has
forgotten.  On the contrary, she bears a grudge (if one may so say, with
all respect to her) longer than any one else does; because she will
always have her own again.  Indeed, I sometimes think that if it were not
for Lady Why, her mistress, she might bear some of her grudges for ever
and ever.  I have seen men ere now damage some of Madam How's property
when they were little boys, and be punished by her all their lives long,
even though she had mended the broken pieces, or turned them to some
other use.  Therefore I say to you, beware of Madam How.  She will teach
you more kindly, patiently, and tenderly than any mother, if you want to
learn her trade.  But if, instead of learning her trade, you damage her
materials and play with her tools, beware lest she has her own again out
of you.

Some people think, again, that Madam How is not only stupid, but
ill-tempered and cruel; that she makes earthquakes and storms, and famine
and pestilences, in a sort of blind passion, not caring where they go or
whom they hurt; quite heedless of who is in the way, if she wants to do
anything or go anywhere.  Now, that Madam How can be very terrible there
can be no doubt: but there is no doubt also that, if people choose to
learn, she will teach them to get out of her way whenever she has
business to do which is dangerous to them.  But as for her being cruel
and unjust, those may believe it who like.  You, my dear boys and girls,
need not believe it, if you will only trust to Lady Why; and be sure that
Why is the mistress and How the servant, now and for ever.  That Lady Why
is utterly good and kind I know full well; and I believe that, in her
case too, the old proverb holds, "Like mistress, like servant;" and that
the more we know of Madam How, the more we shall be content with her, and
ready to submit to whatever she does: but not with that stupid
resignation which some folks preach who do not believe in lady Why--that
is no resignation at all.  That is merely saying--

   "What can't be cured
   Must be endured,"

like a donkey when he turns his tail to a hail-storm,--but the true
resignation, the resignation which is fit for grown people and children
alike, the resignation which is the beginning and the end of all wisdom
and all religion, is to believe that Lady Why knows best, because she
herself is perfectly good; and that as she is mistress over Madam How, so
she has a Master over her, whose name--I say again--I leave you to guess.

So now that I have taught you not to be afraid of Madam How, we will go
and watch her at her work; and if we do not understand anything we see,
we will ask her questions.  She will always show us one of her lesson
books if we give her time.  And if we have to wait some time for her
answer, you need not fear catching cold, though it is November; for she
keeps her lesson books scattered about in strange places, and we may have
to walk up and down that hill more than once before we can make out how
she makes the glen.

Well--how was the glen made?  You shall guess it if you like, and I will
guess too.  You think, perhaps, that an earthquake opened it?

My dear child, we must look before we guess.  Then, after we have looked
a little, and got some grounds for guessing, then we may guess.  And you
have no ground for supposing there ever was an earthquake here strong
enough to open that glen.  There may have been one: but we must guess
from what we do know, and not from what we do not.

Guess again.  Perhaps it was there always, from the beginning of the
world?  My dear child, you have no proof of that either.  Everything
round you is changing in shape daily and hourly, as you will find out the
longer you live; and therefore it is most reasonable to suppose that this
glen has changed its shape, as everything else on earth has done.
Besides, I told you not that Madam How had made the glen, but that she
was making it, and as yet has only half finished.  That is my first
guess; and my next guess is that water is making the glen--water, and
nothing else.

You open your young eyes.  And I do not blame you.  I looked at this very
glen for fifteen years before I made that guess; and I have looked at it
some ten years since, to make sure that my guess held good.  For man
after all is very blind, my dear boy, and very stupid, and cannot see
what lies under his own feet all day long; and if Lady Why, and He whom
Lady Why obeys, were not very patient and gentle with mankind, they would
have perished off the face of the earth long ago, simply from their own
stupidity.  I, at least, was very stupid in this case, for I had my head
full of earthquakes, and convulsions of nature, and all sorts of
prodigies which never happened to this glen; and so, while I was trying
to find what was not there, I of course found nothing.  But when I put
them all out of my head, and began to look for what was there, I found it
at once; and lo and behold! I had seen it a thousand times before, and
yet never learnt anything from it, like a stupid man as I was; though
what I learnt you may learn as easily as I did.

And what did I find?

The pond at the bottom of the glen.

You know that pond, of course?  You don't need to go there?  Very well.
Then if you do, do not you know also that the pond is always filling up
with sand and mud; and that though we clean it out every three or four
years, it always fills again?  Now where does that sand and mud come

Down that stream, of course, which runs out of this bog.  You see it
coming down every time there is a flood, and the stream fouls.

Very well.  Then, said Madam How to me, as soon as I recollected that,
"Don't you see, you stupid man, that the stream has made the glen, and
the earth which runs down the stream was all once part of the hill on
which you stand."  I confess I was very much ashamed of myself when she
said that.  For that is the history of the whole mystery.  Madam How is
digging away with her soft spade, water.  She has a harder spade, or
rather plough, the strongest and most terrible of all ploughs; but that,
I am glad to say, she has laid by in England here.

Water?  But water is too simple a thing to have dug out all this great

My dear child, the most wonderful part of Madam How's work is, that she
does such great things and so many different things, with one and the
same tool, which looks to you so simple, though it really is not so.
Water, for instance, is not a simple thing, but most complicated; and we
might spend hours in talking about water, without having come to the end
of its wonders.  Still Madam How is a great economist, and never wastes
her materials.  She is like the sailor who boasted (only she never
boasts) that, if he had but a long life and a strong knife, he would
build St. Paul's Cathedral before he was done.  And Madam How has a very
long life, and plenty of time; and one of the strongest of all her tools
is water.  Now if you will stoop down and look into the heather, I will
show you how she is digging out the glen with this very mist which is
hanging about our feet.  At least, so I guess.

For see how the mist clings to the points of the heather leaves, and
makes drops.  If the hot sun came out the drops would dry, and they would
vanish into the air in light warm steam.  But now that it is dark and
cold they drip, or run down the heather-stems, to the ground.  And
whither do they go then?  Whither will the water go,--hundreds of gallons
of it perhaps,--which has dripped and run through the heather in this
single day?  It will sink into the ground, you know.  And then what will
become of it?  Madam How will use it as an underground spade, just as she
uses the rain (at least, when it rains too hard, and therefore the rain
runs off the moor instead of sinking into it) as a spade above ground.

Now come to the edge of the glen, and I will show you the mist that fell
yesterday, perhaps, coming out of the ground again, and hard at work.

You know of what an odd, and indeed of what a pretty form all these glens
are.  How the flat moor ends suddenly in a steep rounded bank, almost
like the crest of a wave--ready like a wave-crest to fall over, and as
you know, falling over sometimes, bit by bit, where the soil is bare.

Oh, yes; you are very fond of those banks.  It is "awfully jolly," as you
say, scrambling up and down them, in the deep heath and fern; besides,
there are plenty of rabbit-holes there, because they are all sand; while
there are no rabbit-holes on the flat above, because it is all gravel.

Yes; you know all about it: but you know, too, that you must not go too
far down these banks, much less roll down them, because there is almost
certain to be a bog at the bottom, lying upon a gentle slope; and there
you get wet through.

All round these hills, from here to Aldershot in one direction, and from
here to Windsor in another, you see the same shaped glens; the wave-crest
along their top, and at the foot of the crest a line of springs which run
out over the slopes, or well up through them in deep sand-galls, as you
call them--shaking quagmires which are sometimes deep enough to swallow
up a horse, and which you love to dance upon in summer time.  Now the
water of all these springs is nothing but the rain, and mist, and dew,
which has sunk down first through the peaty soil, and then through the
gravel and sand, and there has stopped.  And why?  Because under the
gravel (about which I will tell you a strange story one day) and under
the sand, which is what the geologists call the Upper Bagshot sand, there
is an entirely different set of beds, which geologists call the
Bracklesham beds, from a place near the New Forest; and in those beds
there is a vein of clay, and through that clay the water cannot get, as
you have seen yourself when we dug it out in the field below to puddle
the pond-head; and very good fun you thought it, and a very pretty mess
you made of yourself.  Well: because the water cannot get though this
clay, and must go somewhere, it runs out continually along the top of the
clay, and as it runs undermines the bank, and brings down sand and gravel
continually for the next shower to wash into the stream below.

Now think for one moment how wonderful it is that the shape of these
glens, of which you are so fond, was settled by the particular order in
which Madam How laid down the gravel and sand and mud at the bottom of
the sea, ages and ages ago.  This is what I told you, that the least
thing that Madam How does to-day may take effect hundreds and thousands
of years hence.

But I must tell you I think there was a time when this glen was of a very
different shape from what it is now; and I dare say, according to your
notions, of a much prettier shape.  It was once just like one of those
Chines which we used to see at Bournemouth.  You recollect them?  How
there was a narrow gap in the cliff of striped sands and gravels; and out
of the mouth of that gap, only a few feet across, there poured down a
great slope of mud and sand the shape of half a bun, some wet and some
dry, up which we used to scramble and get into the Chine, and call the
Chine what it was in the truest sense, Fairyland.  You recollect how it
was all eaten out into mountain ranges, pinnacles, steep cliffs of white,
and yellow, and pink, standing up against the clear blue sky; till we
agreed that, putting aside the difference of size, they were as beautiful
and grand as any Alps we had ever seen in pictures.  And how we saw (for
there could be no mistake about it there) that the Chine was being
hollowed out by the springs which broke out high up the cliff, and by the
rain which wore the sand into furrowed pinnacles and peaks.  You
recollect the beautiful place, and how, when we looked back down it we
saw between the miniature mountain walls the bright blue sea, and heard
it murmur on the sands outside.  So I verily believe we might have done,
if we had stood somewhere at the bottom of this glen thousands of years
ago.  We should have seen the sea in front of us; or rather, an arm of
the sea; for Finchampstead ridges opposite, instead of being covered with
farms, and woodlands, and purple heath above, would have been steep
cliffs of sand and clay, just like those you see at Bournemouth now;
and--what would have spoilt somewhat the beauty of the sight--along the
shores there would have floated, at least in winter, great blocks and
floes of ice, such as you might have seen in the tideway at King's Lynn
the winter before last, growling and crashing, grubbing and ploughing the
sand, and the gravel, and the mud, and sweeping them away into seas
towards the North, which are now all fruitful land.  That may seem to you
like a dream: yet it is true; and some day, when we have another talk
with Madam How, I will show even a child like you that it was true.

But what could change a beautiful Chine like that at Bournemouth into a
wide sloping glen like this of Bracknell's Bottom, with a wood like
Coombs', many acres large, in the middle of it?  Well now, think.  It is
a capital plan for finding out Madam How's secrets, to see what she might
do in one place, and explain by it what she has done in another.  Suppose
now, Madam How had orders to lift up the whole coast of Bournemouth only
twenty or even ten feet higher out of the sea than it is now.  She could
do that easily enough, for she has been doing so on the coast of South
America for ages; she has been doing so this very summer in what hasty
people would call a hasty, and violent, and ruthless way; though I shall
not say so, for I believe that Lady Why knows best.  She is doing so now
steadily on the west coast of Norway, which is rising quietly--all that
vast range of mountain wall and iron-bound cliff--at the rate of some
four feet in a hundred years, without making the least noise or
confusion, or even causing an extra ripple on the sea; so light and
gentle, when she will, can Madam How's strong finger be.

Now, if the mouth of that Chine at Bournemouth was lifted twenty feet out
of the sea, one thing would happen,--that the high tide would not come up
any longer, and wash away the cake of dirt at the entrance, as we saw it
do so often.  But if the mud stopped there, the mud behind it would come
down more slowly, and lodge inside more and more, till the Chine was half
filled-up, and only the upper part of the cliffs continue to be eaten
away, above the level where the springs ran out.  So gradually the Chine,
instead of being deep and narrow, would become broad and shallow; and
instead of hollowing itself rapidly after every shower of rain, as you
saw the Chine at Bournemouth doing, would hollow itself out slowly, as
this glen is doing now.  And one thing more would happen,--when the sea
ceased to gnaw at the foot of the cliffs outside, and to carry away every
stone and grain of sand which fell from them, the cliffs would very soon
cease to be cliffs; the rain and the frost would still crumble them down,
but the dirt that fell would lie at their feet, and gradually make a
slope of dry land, far out where the shallow sea had been; and their
tops, instead of being steep as now, would become smooth and rounded; and
so at last, instead of two sharp walls of cliff at the Chine's mouth, you
might have--just what you have here at the mouth of this glen,--our Mount
and the Warren Hill,--long slopes with sheets of drifted gravel and sand
at their feet, stretching down into what was once an icy sea, and is now
the Vale of Blackwater.  And this I really believe Madam How has done
simply by lifting Hartford Bridge Flat a few more feet out of the sea,
and leaving the rest to her trusty tool, the water in the sky.

That is my guess: and I think it is a good guess, because I have asked
Madam How a hundred different questions about it in the last ten years,
and she always answered them in the same way, saying, "Water, water, you
stupid man."  But I do not want you merely to depend on what I say.  If
you want to understand Madam How, you must ask her questions yourself,
and make up your mind yourself like a man, instead of taking things at
hearsay or second-hand, like the vulgar.  Mind, by "the vulgar" I do not
mean poor people: I mean ignorant and uneducated people, who do not use
their brains rightly, though they may be fine ladies, kings, or popes.
The Bible says, "Prove all things: hold fast that which is good."  So do
you prove my guess, and if it proves good, hold it fast.

And how can I do that?

First, by direct experiment, as it is called.  In plain English--go home
and make a little Hartford Bridge Flat in the stable-yard; and then ask
Mrs. How if she will not make a glen in it like this glen here.  We will
go home and try that.  We will make a great flat cake of clay, and put
upon it a cap of sand; and then we will rain upon it out of a watering-
pot; and see if Mrs. How does not begin soon to make a glen in the side
of the heap, just like those on Hartford Bridge Flat.  I believe she
will; and certainly, if she does, it will be a fresh proof that my guess
is right.  And then we will see whether water will not make glens of a
different shape than these, if it run over soils of a different kind.  We
will make a Hartford Bridge Flat turned upside down--a cake of sand with
a cap of clay on the top; and we will rain on that out of our watering-
pot, and see what sort of glens we make then.  I can guess what they will
be like, because I have seen them--steep overhanging cliffs, with very
narrow gullies down them: but you shall try for yourself, and make up
your mind whether you think me right or wrong.  Meanwhile, remember that
those gullies too will have been made by water.

And there is another way of "verifying my theory," as it is called; in
plain English, seeing if my guess holds good; that is, to look at other
valleys--not merely the valleys round here, but valleys in clay, in
chalk, in limestone, in the hard slate rock such as you saw in
Devonshire--and see whether my guess does not hold good about them too;
whether all of them, deep or shallow, broad or narrow, rock or earth, may
not have been all hollowed out by running water.  I am sure if you would
do this you would find something to amuse you, and something to instruct
you, whenever you wish.  I know that I do.  To me the longest railroad
journey, instead of being stupid, is like continually turning over the
leaves of a wonderful book, or looking at wonderful pictures of old
worlds which were made and unmade thousands of years ago.  For I keep
looking, not only at the railway cuttings, where the bones of the old
worlds are laid bare, but at the surface of the ground; at the plains and
downs, banks and knolls, hills and mountains; and continually asking Mrs.
How what gave them each its shape: and I will soon teach you to do the
same.  When you do, I tell you fairly her answer will be in almost every
case, "Running water."  Either water running when soft, as it usually is;
or water running when it is hard--in plain words, moving ice.

About that moving ice, which is Mrs. How's stronger spade, I will tell
you some other time; and show you, too, the marks of it in every gravel
pit about here.  But now, I see, you want to ask a question; and what is

Do I mean to say that water has made great valleys, such as you have seen
paintings and photographs of,--valleys thousands of feet deep, among
mountains thousands of feet high?

Yes, I do.  But, as I said before, I do not like you to take my word upon
trust.  When you are older you shall go to the mountains, and you shall
judge for yourself.  Still, I must say that I never saw a valley, however
deep, or a cliff, however high, which had not been scooped out by water;
and that even the mountain-tops which stand up miles aloft in jagged
peaks and pinnacles against the sky were cut out at first, and are being
cut and sharpened still, by little else save water, soft and hard; that
is, by rain, frost, and ice.

Water, and nothing else, has sawn out such a chasm as that through which
the ships run up to Bristol, between Leigh Wood and St. Vincent's Rocks.
Water, and nothing else, has shaped those peaks of the Matterhorn, or the
Weisshorn, or the Pic du Midi of the Pyrenees, of which you have seen
sketches and photographs.  Just so water might saw out Hartford Bridge
Flat, if it had time enough, into a labyrinth of valleys, and hills, and
peaks standing alone; as it has done already by Ambarrow, and Edgbarrow,
and the Folly Hill on the other side of the vale.

I see you are astonished at the notion that water can make Alps.  But it
was just because I knew you would be astonished at Madam How's doing so
great a thing with so simple a tool, that I began by showing you how she
was doing the same thing in a small way here upon these flats.  For the
safest way to learn Madam How's methods is to watch her at work in little
corners at commonplace business, which will not astonish or frighten us,
nor put huge hasty guesses and dreams into our heads.  Sir Isaac Newton,
some will tell you, found out the great law of gravitation, which holds
true of all the suns and stars in heaven, by watching an apple fall: and
even if he did not find it out so, he found it out, we know, by careful
thinking over the plain and commonplace fact, that things have weight.  So
do you be humble and patient, and watch Madam How at work on little
things.  For that is the way to see her at work upon all space and time.

What? you have a question more to ask?

Oh!  I talked about Madam How lifting up Hartford Bridge Flat.  How could
she do that?  My dear child, that is a long story, and I must tell it you
some other time.  Meanwhile, did you ever see the lid of a kettle rise up
and shake when the water inside boiled?  Of course; and of course, too,
remember that Madam How must have done it.  Then think over between this
and our next talk, what that can possibly have to do with her lifting up
Hartford Bridge Flat.  But you have been longing, perhaps, all this time
to hear more about Lady Why, and why she set Madam How to make
Bracknell's Bottom.

My dear child, the only answer I dare give to that is: Whatever other
purposes she may have made it for, she made it at least for this--that
you and I should come to it this day, and look at, and talk over it, and
become thereby wiser and more earnest, and we will hope more humble and
better people.  Whatever else Lady Why may wish or not wish, this she
wishes always, to make all men wise and all men good.  For what is
written of her whom, as in a parable, I have called Lady Why?

"The Lord possessed me in the beginning of His way, before His works of

"I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth

"When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no
fountains abounding with water.

"Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:

"While as yet He had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest
part of the dust of the world.

"When He prepared the heavens, I was there: when He set a compass upon
the face of the depth:

"When He established the clouds above: when He strengthened the fountains
of the deep:

"When He gave to the sea His decree, that the waters should not pass His
commandment: when He appointed the foundations of the earth:

"Then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His
delight, rejoicing always before Him:

"Rejoicing in the habitable part of His earth; and my delights were with
the sons of men.

"Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that
keep my ways."

That we can say, for it has been said for us already.  But beyond that we
can say, and need say, very little.  We were not there, as we read in the
Book of Job, when God laid the foundations of the earth.  "We see," says
St. Paul, "as in a glass darkly, and only know in part."  "For who," he
asks again, "has known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His
counsellor? . . . For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all
things: to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen."  Therefore we must
not rashly say, this or that is Why a thing has happened; nor invent what
are called "final causes," which are not Lady Why herself, but only our
little notions of what Lady Why has done, or rather what we should have
done if we had been in her place.  It is not, indeed, by thinking that we
shall find out anything about Lady Why.  She speaks not to our eyes or to
our brains, like Madam How, but to that inner part of us which we call
our hearts and spirits, and which will endure when eyes and brain are
turned again to dust.  If your heart be pure and sober, gentle and
truthful, then Lady Why speaks to you without words, and tells you things
which Madam How and all her pupils, the men of science, can never tell.
When you lie, it may be, on a painful sick-bed, but with your mother's
hand in yours; when you sit by her, looking up into her loving eyes; when
you gaze out towards the setting sun, and fancy golden capes and islands
in the clouds, and seas and lakes in the blue sky, and the infinite rest
and peace of the far west sends rest and peace into your young heart,
till you sit silent and happy, you know not why; when sweet music fills
your heart with noble and tender instincts which need no thoughts or
words; ay, even when you watch the raging thunderstorm, and feel it to
be, in spite of its great awfulness, so beautiful that you cannot turn
your eyes away: at such times as these Lady Why is speaking to your soul
of souls, and saying, "My child, this world is a new place, and strange,
and often terrible: but be not afraid.  All will come right at last.  Rest
will conquer Restlessness; Faith will conquer Fear; Order will conquer
Disorder; Health will conquer Sickness; Joy will conquer Sorrow; Pleasure
will conquer Pain; Life will conquer Death; Right will conquer Wrong.  All
will be well at last.  Keep your soul and body pure, humble, busy,
pious--in one word, be good: and ere you die, or after you die, you may
have some glimpse of Me, the Everlasting Why: and hear with the ears, not
of your body but of your spirit, men and all rational beings, plants and
animals, ay, the very stones beneath your feet, the clouds above your
head, the planets and the suns away in farthest space, singing eternally,

"'Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power, for
Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were


So?  You have been looking at that beautiful drawing of the ruin of Arica
in the _Illustrated London News_: and it has puzzled you and made you
sad.  You want to know why God killed all those people--mothers among
them, too, and little children?

Alas, my dear child! who am I that I should answer you that?

Have you done wrong in asking me?  No, my dear child; no.  You have asked
me because you are a human being and a child of God, and not merely a
cleverer sort of animal, an ape who can read and write and cast accounts.
Therefore it is that you cannot be content, and ought not to be content,
with asking how things happen, but must go on to ask why.  You cannot be
content with knowing the causes of things; and if you knew all the
natural science that ever was or ever will be known to men, that would
not satisfy you; for it would only tell you the _causes_ of things, while
your souls want to know the _reasons_ of things besides; and though I may
not be able to tell you the reasons of things, or show you aught but a
tiny glimpse here and there of that which I called the other day the
glory of Lady Why, yet I believe that somehow, somewhen, somewhere, you
will learn something of the reason of things.  For that thirst to know
_why_ was put into the hearts of little children by God Himself; and I
believe that God would never have given them that thirst if He had not
meant to satisfy it.

There--you do not understand me.  I trust that you will understand me
some day.  Meanwhile, I think--I only say I _think_--you know I told you
how humble we must be whenever we speak of Lady Why--that we may guess at
something like a good reason for the terrible earthquakes in South
America.  I do not wish to be hard upon poor people in great affliction:
but I cannot help thinking that they have been doing for hundreds of
years past something very like what the Bible calls "tempting
God"--staking their property and their lives upon the chances of no
earthquakes coming, while they ought to have known that an earthquake
might come any day.  They have fulfilled (and little thought I that it
would be fulfilled so soon) the parable that I told you once, of the
nation of the Do-as-you-likes, who lived careless and happy at the foot
of the burning mountain, and would not be warned by the smoke that came
out of the top, or by the slag and cinders which lay all about them; till
the mountain blew up, and destroyed them miserably.

Then I think that they ought to have expected an earthquake.

Well--it is not for us to judge any one, especially if they live in a
part of the world in which we have not been ourselves.  But I think that
we know, and that they ought to have known, enough about earthquakes to
have been more prudent than they have been for many a year.  At least we
will hope that, though they would not learn their lesson till this year,
they will learn it now, and will listen to the message which I think
Madam How has brought them, spoken in a voice of thunder, and written in
letters of flame.

And what is that?

My dear child, if the landlord of our house was in the habit of pulling
the roof down upon our heads, and putting gunpowder under the foundations
to blow us up, do you not think we should know what he meant, even though
he never spoke a word?  He would be very wrong in behaving so, of course:
but one thing would be certain,--that he did not intend us to live in his
house any longer if he could help it; and was giving us, in a very rough
fashion, notice to quit.  And so it seems to me that these poor Spanish
Americans have received from the Landlord of all landlords, who can do no
wrong, such a notice to quit as perhaps no people ever had before; which
says to them in unmistakable words, "You must leave this country: or
perish."  And I believe that that message, like all Lady Why's messages,
is at heart a merciful and loving one; that if these Spaniards would
leave the western coast of Peru, and cross the Andes into the green
forests of the eastern side of their own land, they might not only live
free from earthquakes, but (if they would only be good and industrious)
become a great, rich, and happy nation, instead of the idle, and useless,
and I am afraid not over good, people which they have been.  For in that
eastern part of their own land God's gifts are waiting for them, in a
paradise such as I can neither describe nor you conceive;--precious
woods, fruits, drugs, and what not--boundless wealth, in one word--waiting
for them to send it all down the waters of the mighty river Amazon,
enriching us here in the Old World, and enriching themselves there in the
New.  If they would only go and use these gifts of God, instead of
neglecting them as they have been doing for now three hundred years, they
would be a blessing to the earth, instead of being--that which they have

God grant, my dear child, that these poor people may take the warning
that has been sent to them; "The voice of God revealed in facts," as the
great Lord Bacon would have called it, and see not only that God has
bidden them leave the place where they are now, but has prepared for
them, in their own land, a home a thousand times better than that in
which they now live.

But you ask, How ought they to have known that an earthquake would come?

Well, to make you understand that, we must talk a little about
earthquakes, and what makes them; and in order to find out that, let us
try the very simplest cause of which we can think.  That is the wise and
scientific plan.

Now, whatever makes these earthquakes must be enormously strong; that is
certain.  And what is the strongest thing you know of in the world?  Think
. . .


Well, gunpowder is strong sometimes: but not always.  You may carry it in
a flask, or in your hand, and then it is weak enough.  It only becomes
strong by being turned into gas and steam.  But steam is always strong.
And if you look at a railway engine, still more if you had ever
seen--which God forbid you should--a boiler explosion, you would agree
with me, that the strongest thing we know of in the world is steam.

Now I think that we can explain almost, if not quite, all that we know
about earthquakes, if we believe that on the whole they are caused by
steam and other gases expanding, that is, spreading out, with wonderful
quickness and strength.  Of course there must be something to make them
expand, and that is _heat_.  But we will not talk of that yet.

Now do you remember that riddle which I put to you the other day?--"What
had the rattling of the lid of the kettle to do with Hartford Bridge Flat
being lifted out of the ancient sea?"

The answer to the riddle, I believe, is--Steam has done both.  The lid of
the kettle rattles, because the expanding steam escapes in little jets,
and so causes a _lid-quake_.  Now suppose that there was steam under the
earth trying to escape, and the earth in one place was loose and yet
hard, as the lid of the kettle is loose and yet hard, with cracks in it,
it may be, like the crack between the edge of the lid and the edge of the
kettle itself: might not the steam try to escape through the cracks, and
rattle the surface of the earth, and so cause an _earthquake_?

So the steam would escape generally easily, and would only make a passing
rattle, like the earthquake of which the famous jester Charles Selwyn
said that it was quite a young one, so tame that you might have stroked
it; like that which I myself once felt in the Pyrenees, which gave me
very solemn thoughts after a while, though at first I did nothing but
laugh at it; and I will tell you why.

I was travelling in the Pyrenees; and I came one evening to the loveliest
spot--a glen, or rather a vast crack in the mountains, so narrow that
there was no room for anything at the bottom of it, save a torrent
roaring between walls of polished rock.  High above the torrent the road
was cut out among the cliffs, and above the road rose more cliffs, with
great black cavern mouths, hundreds of feet above our heads, out of each
of which poured in foaming waterfalls streams large enough to turn a
mill, and above them mountains piled on mountains, all covered with woods
of box, which smelt rich and hot and musky in the warm spring air.  Among
the box-trees and fallen boulders grew hepaticas, blue and white and red,
such as you see in the garden; and little stars of gentian, more azure
than the azure sky.  But out of the box-woods above rose giant silver
firs, clothing the cliffs and glens with tall black spires, till they
stood out at last in a jagged saw-edge against the purple evening sky,
along the mountain ranges, thousands of feet aloft; and beyond them
again, at the head of the valley, rose vast cones of virgin snow, miles
away in reality, but looking so brilliant and so near that one fancied at
the first moment that one could have touched them with one's hand.  Snow-
white they stood, the glorious things, seven thousand feet into the air;
and I watched their beautiful white sides turn rose-colour in the evening
sun, and when he set, fade into dull cold gray, till the bright moon came
out to light them up once more.  When I was tired of wondering and
admiring, I went into bed; and there I had a dream--such a dream as Alice
had when she went into Wonderland--such a dream as I dare say you may
have had ere now.  Some noise or stir puts into your fancy as you sleep a
whole long dream to account for it; and yet that dream, which seems to
you to be hours long, has not taken up a second of time; for the very
same noise which begins the dream, wakes you at the end of it: and so it
was with me.  I dreamed that some English people had come into the hotel
where I was, and were sleeping in the room underneath me; and that they
had quarrelled and fought, and broke their bed down with a tremendous
crash, and that I must get up, and stop the fight; and at that moment I
woke and heard coming up the valley from the north such a roar as I never
heard before or since; as if a hundred railway trains were rolling
underground; and just as it passed under my bed there was a tremendous
thump, and I jumped out of bed quicker than I ever did in my life, and
heard the roaring sound die away as it rolled up the valley towards the
peaks of snow.  Still I had in my head this notion of the Englishmen
fighting in the room below.  But then I recollected that no Englishmen
had come in the night before, and that I had been in the room below, and
that there was no bed in it.  Then I opened my window--a woman screamed,
a dog barked, some cocks and hens cackled in a very disturbed humour, and
then I could hear nothing but the roaring of the torrent a hundred feet
below.  And then it flashed across me what all the noise was about; and I
burst out laughing and said "It is only an earthquake," and went to bed

Next morning I inquired whether any one had heard a noise.  No, nobody
had heard anything.  And the driver who had brought me up the valley only
winked, but did not choose to speak.  At last at breakfast I asked the
pretty little maid who waited what was the meaning of the noise I heard
in the night, and she answered, to my intense amusement, "Ah! bah! ce
n'etait qu'un tremblement de terre; il y en a ici toutes les six
semaines."  Now the secret was out.  The little maid, I found, came from
the lowland far away, and did not mind telling the truth: but the good
people of the place were afraid to let out that they had earthquakes
every six weeks, for fear of frightening visitors away: and because they
were really very good people, and very kind to me, I shall not tell you
what the name of the place is.

Of course after that I could do no less than ask Madam How, very civilly,
how she made earthquakes in that particular place, hundreds of miles away
from any burning mountain?  And this was the answer I _thought_ she gave,
though I am not so conceited as to say I am sure.

As I had come up the valley I had seen that the cliffs were all beautiful
gray limestone marble; but just at this place they were replaced by
granite, such as you may see in London Bridge or at Aberdeen.  I do not
mean that the limestone changed to granite, but that the granite had
risen up out of the bottom of the valley, and had carried the limestone
(I suppose) up on its back hundreds of feet into the air.  Those caves
with the waterfalls pouring from their mouths were all on one level, at
the top of the granite, and the bottom of the limestone.  That was to be
expected; for, as I will explain to you some day, water can make caves
easily in limestone: but never, I think, in granite.  But I knew that
besides these cold springs which came out of the caves, there were hot
springs also, full of curious chemical salts, just below the very house
where I was in.  And when I went to look at them, I found that they came
out of the rock just where the limestone and the granite joined.  "Ah," I
said, "now I think I have Madam How's answer.  The lid of one of her
great steam boilers is rather shaky and cracked just here, because the
granite has broken and torn the limestone as it lifted it up; and here is
the hot water out of the boiler actually oozing out of the crack; and the
earthquake I heard last night was simply the steam rumbling and thumping
inside, and trying to get out."

And then, my dear child, I fell into a more serious mood.  I said to
myself, "If that stream had been a little, only a little stronger, or if
the rock above it had been only a little weaker, it would have been no
laughing matter then; the village might have been shaken to the ground;
the rocks hurled into the torrent; jets of steam and of hot water, mixed,
it may be, with deadly gases, have roared out of the riven ground; that
might have happened here, in short, which has happened and happens still
in a hundred places in the world, whenever the rocks are too weak to
stand the pressure of the steam below, and the solid earth bursts as an
engine boiler bursts when the steam within it is too strong."  And when
those thoughts came into my mind, I was in no humour to jest any more
about "young earthquakes," or "Madam How's boilers;" but rather to say
with the wise man of old, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not

Most strange, most terrible also, are the tricks which this underground
steam plays.  It will make the ground, which seems to us so hard and
firm, roll and rock in waves, till people are sea-sick, as on board a
ship; and that rocking motion (which is the most common) will often, when
it is but slight, set the bells ringing in the steeples, or make the
furniture, and things on shelves, jump about quaintly enough.  It will
make trees bend to and fro, as if a wind was blowing through them; open
doors suddenly, and shut them again with a slam; make the timbers of the
floors and roofs creak, as they do in a ship at sea; or give men such
frights as one of the dock-keepers at Liverpool got in the earthquake in
1863, when his watchbox rocked so, that he thought some one was going to
pitch him over into the dock.  But these are only little hints and
warnings of what it can do.  When it is strong enough, it will rock down
houses and churches into heaps of ruins, or, if it leaves them standing,
crack them from top to bottom, so that they must be pulled down and

You saw those pictures of the ruins of Arica, about which our talk began;
and from them you can guess well enough for yourself what a town looks
like which has been ruined by an earthquake.  Of the misery and the
horror which follow such a ruin I will not talk to you, nor darken your
young spirit with sad thoughts which grown people must face, and ought to
face.  But the strangeness of some of the tricks which the earthquake
shocks play is hardly to be explained, even by scientific men.  Sometimes,
it would seem, the force runs round, making the solid ground eddy, as
water eddies in a brook.  For it will make straight rows of trees
crooked; it will twist whole walls round--or rather the ground on which
the walls stand--without throwing them down; it will shift the stones of
a pillar one on the other sideways, as if a giant had been trying to spin
it like a teetotum, and so screwed it half in pieces.  There is a story
told by a wise man, who saw the place himself, of the whole furniture of
one house being hurled away by an earthquake, and buried under the ruins
of another house; and of things carried hundreds of yards off, so that
the neighbours went to law to settle who was the true owner of them.
Sometimes, again, the shock seems to come neither horizontally in waves,
nor circularly in eddies, but vertically, that is, straight up from
below; and then things--and people, alas! sometimes--are thrown up off
the earth high into the air, just as things spring up off the table if
you strike it smartly enough underneath.  By that same law (for there is
a law for every sort of motion) it is that the earthquake shock sometimes
hurls great rocks off a cliff into the valley below.  The shock runs
through the mountain till it comes to the cliff at the end of it; and
then the face of the cliff, if it be at all loose, flies off into the
air.  You may see the very same thing happen, if you will put marbles or
billiard-balls in a row touching each other, and strike the one nearest
you smartly in the line of the row.  All the balls stand still, except
the last one, and that flies off.  The shock, like the earthquake shock,
has run through them all; but only the end one, which had nothing beyond
it but soft air, has been moved; and when you grow old, and learn
mathematics, you will know the law of motion according to which that
happens, and learn to apply what the billiard-balls have taught you, to
explain the wonders of an earthquake.  For in this case, as in so many
more, you must watch Madam How at work on little and common things, to
find out how she works in great and rare ones.  That is why Solomon says
that "a fool's eyes are in the ends of the earth," because he is always
looking out for strange things which he has not seen, and which he could
not understand if he saw; instead of looking at the petty commonplace
matters which are about his feet all day long, and getting from them
sound knowledge, and the art of getting more sound knowledge still.

Another terrible destruction which the earthquake brings, when it is
close to the seaside, is the wash of a great sea wave, such as swept in
last year upon the island of St. Thomas, in the West Indies; such as
swept in upon the coast of Peru this year.  The sea moans, and sinks
back, leaving the shore dry; and then comes in from the offing a mighty
wall of water, as high as, or higher than, many a tall house; sweeps far
inland, washing away quays and houses, and carrying great ships in with
it; and then sweeps back again, leaving the ships high and dry, as ships
were left in Peru this year.

Now, how is that wave made?  Let us think.  Perhaps in many ways.  But
two of them I will tell you as simply as I can, because they seem the
most likely, and probably the most common.

Suppose, as the earthquake shock ran on, making the earth under the sea
heave and fall in long earth-waves, the sea-bottom sank down.  Then the
water on it would sink down too, and leave the shore dry; till the sea-
bottom rose again, and hurled the water up again against the land.  This
is one way of explaining it, and it may be true.  For certain it is, that
earthquakes do move the bottom of the sea; and certain, too, that they
move the water of the sea also, and with tremendous force.  For ships at
sea during an earthquake feel such a blow from it (though it does them no
harm) that the sailors often rush upon deck fancying that they have
struck upon a rock; and the force which could give a ship, floating in
water, such a blow as that, would be strong enough to hurl thousands of
tons of water up the beach, and on to the land.

But there is another way of accounting for this great sea wave, which I
fancy comes true sometimes.

Suppose you put an empty india-rubber ball into water, and then blow into
it through a pipe.  Of course, you know, as the ball filled, the upper
side of it would rise out of the water.  Now, suppose there were a party
of little ants moving about upon that ball, and fancying it a great
island, or perhaps the whole world--what would they think of the ball's
filling and growing bigger?

If they could see the sides of the basin or tub in which the ball was,
and were sure that they did not move, then they would soon judge by them
that they themselves were moving, and that the ball was rising out of the
water.  But if the ants were so short-sighted that they could not see the
sides of the basin, they would be apt to make a mistake, because they
would then be like men on an island out of sight of any other land.  Then
it would be impossible further to tell whether they were moving up, or
whether the water was moving down; whether their ball was rising out of
the water, or the water was sinking away from the ball.  They would
probably say, "The water is sinking and leaving the ball dry."

Do you understand that?  Then think what would happen if you pricked a
hole in the ball.  The air inside would come hissing out, and the ball
would sink again into the water.  But the ants would probably fancy the
very opposite.  Their little heads would be full of the notion that the
ball was solid and could not move, just as our heads are full of the
notion that the earth is solid and cannot move; and they would say, "Ah!
here is the water rising again."  Just so, I believe, when the sea seems
to ebb away during the earthquake, the land is really being raised out of
the sea, hundreds of miles of coast, perhaps, or a whole island, at once,
by the force of the steam and gas imprisoned under the ground.  That
steam stretches and strains the solid rocks below, till they can bear no
more, and snap, and crack, with frightful roar and clang; then out of
holes and chasms in the ground rush steam, gases--often foul and
poisonous ones--hot water, mud, flame, strange stones--all signs that the
great boiler down below has burst at last.

Then the strain is eased.  The earth sinks together again, as the ball
did when it was pricked; and sinks lower, perhaps, than it was before:
and back rushes the sea, which the earth had thrust away while it rose,
and sweeps in, destroying all before it.

Of course, there is a great deal more to be said about all this: but I
have no time to tell you now.  You will read it, I hope, for yourselves
when you grow up, in the writings of far wiser men than I.  Or perhaps
you may feel for yourselves in foreign lands the actual shock of a great
earthquake, or see its work fresh done around you.  And if ever that
happens, and you be preserved during the danger, you will learn for
yourself, I trust, more about earthquakes than I can teach you, if you
will only bear in mind the simple general rules for understanding the
"how" of them which I have given you here.

But you do not seem satisfied yet?  What is it that you want to know?

Oh!  There was an earthquake here in England the other night, while you
were asleep; and that seems to you too near to be pleasant.  Will there
ever be earthquakes in England which will throw houses down, and bury
people in the ruins?

My dear child, I think you may set your heart at rest upon that point.  As
far as the history of England goes back, and that is more than a thousand
years, there is no account of any earthquake which has done any serious
damage, or killed, I believe, a single human being.  The little
earthquakes which are sometimes felt in England run generally up one line
of country, from Devonshire through Wales, and up the Severn valley into
Cheshire and Lancashire, and the south-west of Scotland; and they are
felt more smartly there, I believe, because the rocks are harder there
than here, and more tossed about by earthquakes which happened ages and
ages ago, long before man lived on the earth.  I will show you the work
of these earthquakes some day, in the tilting and twisting of the layers
of rock, and in the cracks (faults, as they are called) which run through
them in different directions.  I showed you some once, if you recollect,
in the chalk cliff at Ramsgate--two set of cracks, sloping opposite ways,
which I told you were made by two separate sets of earthquakes, long,
long ago, perhaps while the chalk was still at the bottom of a deep sea.
But even in the rocky parts of England the earthquake-force seems to have
all but died out.  Perhaps the crust of the earth has become too thick
and solid there to be much shaken by the gases and steam below.  In this
eastern part of England, meanwhile, there is but little chance that an
earthquake will ever do much harm, because the ground here, for thousands
of feet down, is not hard and rocky, but soft--sands, clays, chalk, and
sands again; clays, soft limestones, and clays again--which all act as
buffers to deaden the earthquake shocks, and deaden too the earthquake

And how?

Put your ear to one end of a soft bolster, and let some one hit the other
end.  You will hear hardly any noise, and will not feel the blow at all.
Put your ear to one end of a hard piece of wood, and let some one hit the
other.  You will hear a smart tap; and perhaps feel a smart tap, too.
When you are older, and learn the laws of sound, and of motion among the
particles of bodies, you will know why.  Meanwhile you may comfort
yourself with the thought that Madam How has (doubtless by command of
Lady Why) prepared a safe soft bed for this good people of Britain--not
that they may lie and sleep on it, but work and till, plant and build and
manufacture, and thrive in peace and comfort, we will trust and pray, for
many a hundred years to come.  All that the steam inside the earth is
likely to do to us, is to raise parts of this island (as Hartford Bridge
Flats were raised, ages ago, out of the old icy sea) so slowly, probably,
that no man can tell whether they are rising or not.  Or again, the steam-
power may be even now dying out under our island, and letting parts of it
sink slowly into the sea, as some wise friends of mine think that the
fens in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire are sinking now.  I have shown you
where that kind of work has gone on in Norfolk; how the brow of
Sandringham Hill was once a sea-cliff, and Dersingham Bog at its foot a
shallow sea; and therefore that the land has risen there.  How, again, at
Hunstanton Station there is a beach of sea-shells twenty feet above high-
water mark, showing that the land has risen there likewise.  And how,
farther north again, at Brancaster, there are forests of oak, and fir,
and alder, with their roots still in the soil, far below high-water mark,
and only uncovered at low tide; which is a plain sign that there the land
has sunk.  You surely recollect the sunken forest at Brancaster, and the
beautiful shells we picked up in its gullies, and the millions of live
Pholases boring into the clay and peat which once was firm dry land, fed
over by giant oxen, and giant stags likewise, and perhaps by the mammoth
himself, the great woolly elephant whose teeth the fishermen dredge up in
the sea outside?  You recollect that?  Then remember that as that Norfolk
shore has changed, so slowly but surely is the whole world changing
around us.  Hartford Bridge Flat here, for instance, how has it changed!
Ages ago it was the gravelly bottom of a sea.  Then the steam-power
underground raised it up slowly, through long ages, till it became dry
land.  And ages hence, perhaps, it will have become a sea-bottom once
more.  Washed slowly by the rain, or sunk by the dying out of the steam-
power underground, it will go down again to the place from whence it
came.  Seas will roll where we stand now, and new lands will rise where
seas now roll.  For all things on this earth, from the tiniest flower to
the tallest mountain, change and change all day long.  Every atom of
matter moves perpetually; and nothing "continues in one stay."  The solid-
seeming earth on which you stand is but a heaving bubble, bursting ever
and anon in this place and in that.  Only above all, and through all, and
with all, is One who does not move nor change, but is the same yesterday,
to-day, and for ever.  And on Him, my child, and not on this bubble of an
earth, do you and I, and all mankind, depend.

But I have not yet told you why the Peruvians ought to have expected an
earthquake.  True.  I will tell you another time.


You want to know why the Spaniards in Peru and Ecuador should have
expected an earthquake.

Because they had had so many already.  The shaking of the ground in their
country had gone on perpetually, till they had almost ceased to care
about it, always hoping that no very heavy shock would come; and being,
now and then, terribly mistaken.

For instance, in the province of Quito, in the year 1797, from thirty to
forty thousand people were killed at once by an earthquake.  One would
have thought that warning enough: but the warning was not taken: and now,
this very year, thousands more have been killed in the very same country,
in the very same way.

They might have expected as much.  For their towns are built, most of
them, close to volcanos--some of the highest and most terrible in the
world.  And wherever there are volcanos there will be earthquakes.  You
may have earthquakes without volcanos, now and then; but volcanos without
earthquakes, seldom or never.

How does that come to pass?  Does a volcano make earthquakes?  No; we may
rather say that earthquakes are trying to make volcanos.  For volcanos
are the holes which the steam underground has burst open that it may
escape into the air above.  They are the chimneys of the great
blast-furnaces underground, in which Madam How pounds and melts up the
old rocks, to make them into new ones, and spread them out over the land

And are there many volcanos in the world?  You have heard of Vesuvius, of
course, in Italy; and Etna, in Sicily; and Hecla, in Iceland.  And you
have heard, too, of Kilauea, in the Sandwich Islands, and of Pele's
Hair--the yellow threads of lava, like fine spun glass, which are blown
from off its pools of fire, and which the Sandwich Islanders believed to
be the hair of a goddess who lived in the crater;--and you have read,
too, I hope, in Miss Yonge's _Book of Golden Deeds_, the noble story of
the Christian chieftainess who, in order to persuade her subjects to
become Christians also, went down into the crater and defied the goddess
of the volcano, and came back unhurt and triumphant.

But if you look at the map, you will see that there are many, many more.
Get Keith Johnston's Physical Atlas from the schoolroom--of course it is
there (for a schoolroom without a physical atlas is like a needle without
an eye)--and look at the map which is called "Phenomena of Volcanic

You will see in it many red dots, which mark the volcanos which are still
burning: and black dots, which mark those which have been burning at some
time or other, not very long ago, scattered about the world.  Sometimes
they are single, like the red dot at Otaheite, or at Easter Island in the
Pacific.  Sometimes the are in groups, or clusters, like the cluster at
the Sandwich Islands, or in the Friendly Islands, or in New Zealand.  And
if we look in the Atlantic, we shall see four clusters: one in poor half-
destroyed Iceland, in the far north, one in the Azores, one in the
Canaries, and one in the Cape de Verds.  And there is one dot in those
Canaries which we must not overlook, for it is no other than the famous
Peak of Teneriffe, a volcano which is hardly burnt out yet, and may burn
up again any day, standing up out of the sea more than 12,000 feet high
still, and once it must have been double that height.  Some think that it
is perhaps the true Mount Atlas, which the old Greeks named when first
they ventured out of the Straits of Gibraltar down the coast of Africa,
and saw the great peak far to the westward, with the clouds cutting off
its top; and said that it was a mighty giant, the brother of the Evening
Star, who held up the sky upon his shoulders, in the midst of the
Fortunate Islands, the gardens of the daughter of the Evening Star, full
of strange golden fruits; and that Perseus had turned him into stone,
when he passed him with the Gorgon's Head.

But you will see, too, that most of these red and black dots run in
crooked lines; and that many of the clusters run in lines likewise.

Look at one line: by far the largest on the earth.  You will learn a good
deal of geography from it.

The red dots begin at a place called the Terribles, on the east side of
the Bay of Bengal.  They run on, here and there, along the islands of
Sumatra and Java, and through the Spice Islands; and at New Guinea the
line of red dots forks.  One branch runs south-east, through islands
whose names you never heard, to the Friendly Islands, and to New Zealand.
The other runs north, through the Philippines, through Japan, through
Kamschatka; and then there is a little break of sea, between Asia and
America: but beyond it, the red dots begin again in the Aleutian Islands,
and then turn down the whole west coast of America, down from Mount Elias
(in what was, till lately, Russian America) towards British Columbia.
Then, after a long gap, there are one or two in Lower California (and we
must not forget the terrible earthquake which has just shaken San
Francisco, between those two last places); and when we come down to
Mexico we find the red dots again plentiful, and only too plentiful; for
they mark the great volcanic line of Mexico, of which you will read, I
hope, some day, in Humboldt's works.  But the line does not stop there.
After the little gap of the Isthmus of Panama, it begins again in Quito,
the very country which has just been shaken, and in which stand the huge
volcanos Chimborazo, Pasto, Antisana, Cotopaxi, Pichincha,
Tunguragua,--smooth cones from 15,000 to 20,000 feet high, shining white
with snow, till the heat inside melts it off, and leaves the cinders of
which the peaks are made all black and ugly among the clouds, ready to
burst in smoke and fire.  South of them again, there is a long gap, and
then another line of red dots--Arequiba, Chipicani, Gualatieri,
Atacama,--as high as, or higher than those in Quito; and this, remember,
is the other country which has just been shaken.  On the sea-shore below
those volcanos stood the hapless city of Arica, whose ruins we saw in the
picture.  Then comes another gap; and then a line of more volcanos in
Chili, at the foot of which happened that fearful earthquake of 1835
(besides many more) of which you will read some day in that noble book
_The Voyage of the Beagle_; and so the line of dots runs down to the
southernmost point of America.

What a line we have traced!  Long enough to go round the world if it were
straight.  A line of holes out of which steam, and heat, and cinders, and
melted stones are rushing up, perpetually, in one place and another.  Now
the holes in this line which are near each other have certainly something
to do with each other.  For instance, when the earth shook the other day
round the volcanos of Quito, it shook also round the volcanos of Peru,
though they were 600 miles away.  And there are many stories of
earthquakes being felt, or awful underground thunder heard, while
volcanos were breaking out hundreds of miles away.  I will give you a
very curious instance of that.

If you look at the West Indies on the map, you will see a line of red
dots runs through the Windward Islands: there are two volcanos in them,
one in Guadaloupe, and one in St. Vincent (I will tell you a curious
story, presently, about that last), and little volcanos (if they have
ever been real volcanos at all), which now only send out mud, in
Trinidad.  There the red dots stop: but then begins along the north coast
of South America a line of mountain country called Cumana, and Caraccas,
which has often been horribly shaken by earthquakes.  Now once, when the
volcano in St. Vincent began to pour out a vast stream of melted lava, a
noise like thunder was heard underground, over thousands of square miles
beyond those mountains, in the plains of Calabozo, and on the banks of
the Apure, more than 600 miles away from the volcano,--a plain sign that
there was something underground which joined them together, perhaps a
long crack in the earth.  Look for yourselves at the places, and you will
see that (as Humboldt says) it is as strange as if an eruption of Mount
Vesuvius was heard in the north of France.

So it seems as if these lines of volcanos stood along cracks in the rind
of the earth, through which the melted stuff inside was for ever trying
to force its way; and that, as the crack got stopped up in one place by
the melted stuff cooling and hardening again into stone, it was burst in
another place, and a fresh volcano made, or an old one re-opened.

Now we can understand why earthquakes should be most common round
volcanos; and we can understand, too, why they would be worst before a
volcano breaks out, because then the steam is trying to escape; and we
can understand, too, why people who live near volcanos are glad to see
them blazing and spouting, because then they have hope that the steam has
found its way out, and will not make earthquakes any more for a while.
But still that is merely foolish speculation on chance.  Volcanos can
never be trusted.  No one knows when one will break out, or what it will
do; and those who live close to them--as the city of Naples is close to
Mount Vesuvius--must not be astonished if they are blown up or swallowed
up, as that great and beautiful city of Naples may be without a warning,
any day.

For what happened to that same Mount Vesuvius nearly 1800 years ago, in
the old Roman times?  For ages and ages it had been lying quiet, like any
other hill.  Beautiful cities were built at its foot, filled with people
who were as handsome, and as comfortable, and (I am afraid) as wicked, as
people ever were on earth.  Fair gardens, vineyards, olive-yards, covered
the mountain slopes.  It was held to be one of the Paradises of the
world.  As for the mountain's being a burning mountain, who ever thought
of that?  To be sure, on the top of it was a great round crater, or cup,
a mile or more across, and a few hundred yards deep.  But that was all
overgrown with bushes and wild vines, full of boars and deer.  What sign
of fire was there in that?  To be sure, also, there was an ugly place
below by the sea-shore, called the Phlegraen fields, where smoke and
brimstone came out of the ground, and a lake called Avernus over which
poisonous gases hung, and which (old stories told) was one of the mouths
of the Nether Pit.  But what of that?  It had never harmed any one, and
how could it harm them?

So they all lived on, merrily and happily enough, till, in the year A.D.
79 (that was eight years, you know, after the Emperor Titus destroyed
Jerusalem), there was stationed in the Bay of Naples a Roman admiral,
called Pliny, who was also a very studious and learned man, and author of
a famous old book on natural history.  He was staying on shore with his
sister; and as he sat in his study she called him out to see a strange
cloud which had been hanging for some time over the top of Mount
Vesuvius.  It was in shape just like a pine-tree; not, of course, like
one of our branching Scotch firs here, but like an Italian stone pine,
with a long straight stem and a flat parasol-shaped top.  Sometimes it
was blackish, sometimes spotted; and the good Admiral Pliny, who was
always curious about natural science, ordered his cutter and went away
across the bay to see what it could be.  Earthquake shocks had been very
common for the last few days; but I do not suppose that Pliny had any
notion that the earthquakes and the cloud had aught to do with each
other.  However, he soon found out that they had, and to his cost.  When
he got near the opposite shore some of the sailors met him and entreated
him to turn back.  Cinders and pumice-stones were falling down from the
sky, and flames breaking out of the mountain above.  But Pliny would go
on: he said that if people were in danger, it was his duty to help them;
and that he must see this strange cloud, and note down the different
shapes into which it changed.  But the hot ashes fell faster and faster;
the sea ebbed out suddenly, and left them nearly dry, and Pliny turned
away to a place called Stabiae, to the house of his friend Pomponianus,
who was just going to escape in a boat.  Brave Pliny told him not to be
afraid, ordered his bath like a true Roman gentleman, and then went into
dinner with a cheerful face.  Flames came down from the mountain, nearer
and nearer as the night drew on; but Pliny persuaded his friend that they
were only fires in some villages from which the peasants had fled, and
then went to bed and slept soundly.  However, in the middle of the night
they found the courtyard being fast filled with cinders, and, if they had
not woke up the Admiral in time, he would never have been able to get out
of the house.  The earthquake shocks grew stronger and fiercer, till the
house was ready to fall; and Pliny and his friend, and the sailors and
the slaves, all fled into the open fields, amid a shower of stones and
cinders, tying pillows over their heads to prevent their being beaten
down.  The day had come by this time, but not the dawn--for it was still
pitch dark as night.  They went down to their boats upon the shore; but
the sea raged so horribly that there was no getting on board of them.
Then Pliny grew tired, and made his men spread a sail for him, and lay
down on it; but there came down upon them a rush of flames, and a
horrible smell of sulphur, and all ran for their lives.  Some of the
slaves tried to help the Admiral upon his legs; but he sank down again
overpowered with the brimstone fumes, and so was left behind.  When they
came back again, there he lay dead, but with his clothes in order and his
face as quiet as if he had been only sleeping.  And that was the end of a
brave and learned man--a martyr to duty and to the love of science.

But what was going on in the meantime?  Under clouds of ashes, cinders,
mud, lava, three of those happy cities were buried at once--Herculaneum,
Pompeii, Stabiae.  They were buried just as the people had fled from
them, leaving the furniture and the earthenware, often even jewels and
gold, behind, and here and there among them a human being who had not had
time to escape from the dreadful deluge of dust.  The ruins of
Herculaneum and Pompeii have been dug into since; and the paintings,
especially in Pompeii, are found upon the walls still fresh, preserved
from the air by the ashes which have covered them in.  When you are older
you perhaps will go to Naples, and see in its famous museum the
curiosities which have been dug out of the ruined cities; and you will
walk, I suppose, along the streets of Pompeii and see the wheel-tracks in
the pavement, along which carts and chariots rumbled 2000 years ago.
Meanwhile, if you go nearer home, to the Crystal Palace and to the
Pompeian Court, as it is called, you will see an exact model of one of
these old buried houses, copied even to the very paintings on the wells,
and judge for yourself, as far as a little boy can judge, what sort of
life these thoughtless, luckless people lived 2000 years ago.

And what had become of Vesuvius, the treacherous mountain?  Half or more
than half of the side of the old crater had been blown away, and what was
left, which is now called the Monte Somma, stands in a half circle round
the new cone and new crater which is burning at this very day.  True,
after that eruption which killed Pliny, Vesuvius fell asleep again, and
did not awake for 134 years, and then again for 269 years but it has been
growing more and more restless as the ages have passed on, and now hardly
a year passes without its sending out smoke and stones from its crater,
and streams of lava from its sides.

And now, I suppose, you will want to know what a volcano is like, and
what a cone, and a crater, and lava are?

What a volcano is like, it is easy enough to show you; for they are the
most simply and beautifully shaped of all mountains, and they are alike
all over the world, whether they be large or small.  Almost every volcano
in the world, I believe, is, or has been once, of the shape which you see
in the drawing opposite; even those volcanos in the Sandwich Islands, of
which you have often heard, which are now great lakes of boiling fire
upon flat downs, without any cone to them at all.  They, I believe, are
volcanos which have fallen in ages ago: just as in Java a whole burning
mountain fell in on the night of the 11th of August, in the year 1772.
Then, after a short and terrible earthquake, a bright cloud suddenly
covered the whole mountain.  The people who dwelt around it tried to
escape; but before the poor souls could get away the earth sunk beneath
their feet, and the whole mountain fell in and was swallowed up with a
noise as if great cannon were being fired.  Forty villages and nearly
3000 people were destroyed, and where the mountain had been was only a
plain of red-hot stones.  In the same way, in the year 1698, the top of a
mountain in Quito fell in in a single night, leaving only two immense
peaks of rock behind, and pouring out great floods of mud mixed with dead
fish; for there are underground lakes among those volcanos which swarm
with little fish which never see the light.

But most volcanos as I say, are, or have been, the shape of the one which
you see here.  This is Cotopaxi, in Quito, more than 19,000 feet in
height.  All those sloping sides are made of cinders and ashes, braced
together, I suppose, by bars of solid lava-stone inside, which prevent
the whole from crumbling down.  The upper part, you see, is white with
snow, as far down as a line which is 15,000 feet above the sea; for the
mountain is in the tropics, close to the equator, and the snow will not
lie in that hot climate any lower down.  But now and then the snow melts
off and rushes down the mountain side in floods of water and of mud, and
the cindery cone of Cotopaxi stands out black and dreadful against the
clear blue sky, and then the people of that country know what is coming.
The mountain is growing so hot inside that it melts off its snowy
covering; and soon it will burst forth with smoke and steam, and red-hot
stones and earthquakes, which will shake the ground, and roars that will
be heard, it may be, hundreds of miles away.

And now for the words cone, crater, lava.  If I can make you understand
those words, you will see why volcanos must be in general of the shape of

Cone, crater, lava: those words make up the alphabet of volcano learning.
The cone is the outside of a huge chimney; the crater is the mouth of it.
The lava is the ore which is being melted in the furnace below, that it
may flow out over the surface of the old land, and make new land instead.

And where is the furnace itself?  Who can tell that?  Under the roots of
the mountains, under the depths of the sea; down "the path which no fowl
knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen: the lion's whelp hath
not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.  There He putteth forth
His hand upon the rock; He overturneth the mountain by the roots; He
cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and His eye seeth every precious
thing"--while we, like little ants, run up and down outside the earth,
scratching, like ants, a few feet down, and calling that a deep ravine;
or peeping a few feet down into the crater of a volcano, unable to guess
what precious things may lie below--below even the fire which blazes and
roars up through the thin crust of the earth.  For of the inside of this
earth we know nothing whatsoever: we only know that it is, on an average,
several times as heavy as solid rock; but how that can be, we know not.

So let us look at the chimney, and what comes out of it; for we can see
very little more.

Why is a volcano like a cone?

For the same cause for which a molehill is like a cone, though a very
rough one; and that the little heaps which the burrowing beetles make on
the moor, or which the ant-lions in France make in the sand, are all
something in the shape of a cone, with a hole like a crater in the
middle.  What the beetle and the ant-lion do on a very little scale, the
steam inside the earth does on a great scale.  When once it has forced a
vent into the outside air, it tears out the rocks underground, grinds
them small against each other, often into the finest dust, and blasts
them out of the hole which it has made.  Some of them fall back into the
hole, and are shot out again: but most of them fall round the hole, most
of them close to it, and fewer of them farther off, till they are piled
up in a ring round it, just as the sand is piled up round a beetle's
burrow.  For days, and weeks, and months this goes on; even it may be for
hundreds of years: till a great cone is formed round the steam vent,
hundreds or thousands of feet in height, of dust and stones, and of
cinders likewise.  For recollect, that when the steam has blown away the
cold earth and rock near the surface of the ground, it begins blowing out
the hot rocks down below, red-hot, white-hot, and at last actually
melted.  But these, as they are hurled into the cool air above, become
ashes, cinders, and blocks of stone again, making the hill on which they
fall bigger and bigger continually.  And thus does wise Madam How stand
in no need of bricklayers, but makes her chimneys build themselves.

And why is the mouth of the chimney called a crater?

Crater, as you know, is Greek for a cup.  And the mouth of these
chimneys, when they have become choked and stopped working, are often
just the shape of a cup, or (as the Germans call them) kessels, which
means kettles, or caldrons.  I have seen some of them as beautifully and
exactly rounded as if a cunning engineer had planned them, and had them
dug out with the spade.  At first, of course, their sides and bottom are
nothing but loose stones, cinders, slag, ashes, such as would be thrown
out of a furnace.  But Madam How, who, whenever she makes an ugly
desolate place, always tries to cover over its ugliness, and set
something green to grow over it, and make it pretty once more, does so
often and often by her worn-out craters.  I have seen them covered with
short sweet turf, like so many chalk downs.  I have seen them, too,
filled with bushes, which held woodcocks and wild boars.  Once I came on
a beautiful round crater on the top of a mountain, which was filled at
the bottom with a splendid crop of potatoes.  Though Madam How had not
put them there herself, she had at least taught the honest Germans to put
them there.  And often Madam How turns her worn-out craters into
beautiful lakes.  There are many such crater-lakes in Italy, as you will
see if ever you go there; as you may see in English galleries painted by
Wilson, a famous artist who died before you were born.  You recollect
Lord Macaulay's ballad, "The Battle of the Lake Regillus"?  Then that
Lake Regillus (if I recollect right) is one of these round crater lakes.
Many such deep clear blue lakes have I seen in the Eifel, in Germany; and
many a curious plant have I picked on their shores, where once the steam
blasted, and the earthquake roared, and the ash-clouds rushed up high
into the heaven, and buried all the land around in dust, which is now
fertile soil.  And long did I puzzle to find out why the water stood in
some craters, while others, within a mile of them perhaps, were perfectly
dry.  That I never found out for myself.  But learned men tell me that
the ashes which fall back into the crater, if the bottom of it be wet
from rain, will sometimes "set" (as it is called) into a hard cement; and
so make the bottom of the great bowl waterproof, as if it were made of

But what gives the craters this cup-shape at first?

Think--While the steam and stones are being blown out, the crater is an
open funnel, with more or less upright walls inside.  As the steam grows
weaker, fewer and fewer stones fall outside, and more and more fall back
again inside.  At last they quite choke up the bottom of the great round
hole.  Perhaps, too, the lava or melted rock underneath cools and grows
hard, and that chokes up the hole lower down.  Then, down from the round
edge of the crater the stones and cinders roll inward more and more.  The
rains wash them down, the wind blows them down.  They roll to the middle,
and meet each other, and stop.  And so gradually the steep funnel becomes
a round cup.  You may prove for yourself that it must be so, if you will
try.  Do you not know that if you dig a round hole in the ground, and
leave it to crumble in, it is sure to become cup-shaped at last, though
at first its sides may have been quite upright, like those of a bucket?
If you do not know, get a trowel and make your little experiment.

And now you ought to understand what "cone" and "crater" mean.  And more,
if you will think for yourself, you may guess what would come out of a
volcano when it broke out "in an eruption," as it is usually called.
First, clouds of steam and dust (what you would call smoke); then volleys
of stones, some cool, some burning hot; and at the last, because it lies
lowest of all, the melted rock itself, which is called lava.

And where would that come out?  At the top of the chimney?  At the top of
the cone?

No.  Madam How, as I told you, usually makes things make themselves.  She
has made the chimney of the furnace make itself; and next she will make
the furnace-door make itself.

The melted lava rises in the crater--the funnel inside the cone--but it
never gets to the top.  It is so enormously heavy that the sides of the
cone cannot bear its weight, and give way low down.  And then, through
ashes and cinders, the melted lava burrows out, twisting and twirling
like an enormous fiery earth-worm, till it gets to the air outside, and
runs off down the mountain in a stream of fire.  And so you may see (as
are to be seen on Vesuvius now) two eruptions at once--one of burning
stones above, and one of melted lava below.

And what is lava?

That, I think, I must tell you another time.  For when I speak of it I
shall have to tell you more about Madam How, and her ways of making the
ground on which you stand, than I can say just now.  But if you want to
know (as I dare say you do) what the eruption of a volcano is like, you
may read what follows.  I did not see it happen; for I never had the good
fortune of seeing a mountain burning, though I have seen many and many a
one which has been burnt--extinct volcanos, as they are called.

The man who saw it--a very good friend of mine, and a very good man of
science also--went last year to see an eruption on Vesuvius, not from the
main crater, but from a small one which had risen up suddenly on the
outside of it; and he gave me leave (when I told him that I was writing
for children) to tell them what he saw.

This new cone, he said, was about 200 feet high, and perhaps 80 or 100
feet across at the top.  And as he stood below it (it was not safe to go
up it) smoke rolled up from its top, "rosy pink below," from the glare of
the caldron, and above "faint greenish or blueish silver of indescribable
beauty, from the light of the moon."  But more--By good chance, the cone
began to send out, not smoke only, but brilliant burning stones.  "Each
explosion," he says, "was like a vast girandole of rockets, with a noise
(such as rockets would make) like the waves on a beach, or the wind
blowing through shrouds.  The mountain was trembling the whole time.  So
it went on for two hours and more; sometimes eight or ten explosions in a
minute, and more than 1000 stones in each, some as large as two bricks
end to end.  The largest ones mostly fell back into the crater; but the
smaller ones being thrown higher, and more acted on by the wind, fell in
immense numbers on the leeward slope of the cone" (of course, making it
bigger and bigger, as I have explained already to you), and of course, as
they were intensely hot and bright, making the cone look as if it too was
red-hot.  But it was not so, he says, really.  The colour of the stones
was rather "golden, and they spotted the black cone over with their
golden showers, the smaller ones stopping still, the bigger ones rolling
down, and jumping along just like hares."  "A wonderful pedestal," he
says, "for the explosion which surmounted it."  How high the stones flew
up he could not tell.  "There was generally one which went much higher
than the rest, and pierced upwards towards the moon, who looked calmly
down, mocking such vain attempts to reach her."  The large stones, of
course, did not rise so high; and some, he says, "only just appeared over
the rim of the cone, above which they came floating leisurely up, to show
their brilliant forms and intense white light for an instant, and then
subside again."

Try and picture that to yourselves, remembering that this was only a
little side eruption, of no more importance to the whole mountain than
the fall of a slate off the roof is of importance to the whole house.  And
then think how mean and weak man's fireworks, and even man's heaviest
artillery, are compared with the terrible beauty and terrible strength of
Madam How's artillery underneath our feet.

               / | \
              /  |  \
          A  /---+---\  E
            /    |    \
           /-----+-----\  E
Ground    /      | B    \      Ground
---------/       |       \------------
        |  D  |  | D |  D  |
        |     |  |   |     |

Now look at this figure.  It represents a section of a volcano; that is,
one cut in half to show you the inside.  A is the cone of cinders.  B,
the black line up through the middle, is the funnel, or crack, through
which steam, ashes, lava, and everything else rises.  C is the crater
mouth.  D D D, which looks broken, are the old rocks which the steam
heaved up and burst before it could get out.  And what are the black
lines across, marked E E E?  They are the streams of lava which have
burrowed out, some covered up again in cinders, some lying bare in the
open air, some still inside the cone, bracing it together, holding it up.
Something like this is the inside of a volcano.


Why, you ask, are there such terrible things as volcanos?  Of what use
can they be?

They are of use enough, my child; and of many more uses, doubt not, than
we know as yet, or ever shall know.  But of one of their uses I can tell

They make, or help to make, divers and sundry curious things, from
gunpowder to your body and mine.

What?  I can understand their helping to make gunpowder, because the
sulphur in it is often found round volcanos; and I know the story of the
brave Spaniard who, when his fellows wanted materials for gunpowder, had
himself lowered in a basket down the crater of a South American volcano,
and gathered sulphur for them off the burning cliffs: but how can
volcanos help to make me?  Am I made of lava?  Or is there lava in me?

My child, I did not say that volcanos helped to make you.  I said that
they helped to make your body; which is a very different matter, as I beg
you to remember, now and always.  Your body is no more you yourself than
the hoop which you trundle, or the pony which you ride.  It is, like
them, your servant, your tool, your instrument, your organ, with which
you work: and a very useful, trusty, cunningly-contrived organ it is; and
therefore I advise you to make good use of it, for you are responsible
for it.  But you yourself are not your body, or your brain, but something
else, which we call your soul, your spirit, your life.  And that "you
yourself" would remain just the same if it were taken out of your body,
and put into the body of a bee, or of a lion, or any other body; or into
no body at all.  At least so I believe; and so, I am happy to say, nine
hundred and ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine people out
of every million have always believed, because they have used their human
instincts and their common sense, and have obeyed (without knowing it)
the warning of a great and good philosopher called Herder, that "The
organ is in no case the power which works by it;" which is as much as to
say, that the engine is not the engine-driver, nor the spade the

There have always been, and always will be, a few people who cannot see
that.  They think that a man's soul is part of his body, and that he
himself is not one thing, but a great number of things.  They think that
his mind and character are only made up of all the thoughts, and
feelings, and recollections which have passed through his brain; and that
as his brain changes, he himself must change, and become another person,
and then another person again, continually.  But do you not agree with
them: but keep in mind wise Herder's warning that you are not to
"confound the organ with the power," or the engine with the driver, or
your body with yourself: and then we will go on and consider how a
volcano, and the lava which flows from it, helps to make your body.

Now I know that the Scotch have a saying, "That you cannot make broth out
of whinstones" (which is their name for lava).  But, though they are very
clever people, they are wrong there.  I never saw any broth in Scotland,
as far as I know, but what whinstones had gone to the making of it; nor a
Scotch boy who had not eaten many a bit of whinstone, and been all the
better for it.

Of course, if you simply put the whinstones into a kettle and boiled
them, you would not get much out of them by such rough cookery as that.
But Madam How is the best and most delicate of all cooks; and she knows
how to pound, and soak, and stew whinstones so delicately, that she can
make them sauce and seasoning for meat, vegetables, puddings, and almost
everything that you eat; and can put into your veins things which were
spouted up red-hot by volcanos, ages and ages since, perhaps at the
bottom of ancient seas which are now firm dry land.

This is very strange--as all Madam How's doings are.  And you would think
it stranger still if you had ever seen the flowing of a lava stream.

Out of a cave of slag and cinders in the black hillside rushes a golden
river, flowing like honey, and yet so tough that you cannot thrust a
stick into it, and so heavy that great stones (if you throw them on it)
float on the top, and are carried down like corks on water.  It is so hot
that you cannot stand near it more than a few seconds; hotter, perhaps,
than any fire you ever saw: but as it flows, the outside of it cools in
the cool air, and gets covered with slag and cinders, something like
those which you may see thrown out of the furnaces in the Black Country
of Staffordshire.  Sometimes these cling together above the lava stream,
and make a tunnel, through the cracks in which you may see the fiery
river rushing and roaring down below.  But mostly they are kept broken
and apart, and roll and slide over each other on the top of the lava,
crashing and clanging as they grind together with a horrid noise.  Of
course that stream, like all streams, runs towards the lower grounds.  It
slides down glens, and fills them up; down the beds of streams, driving
off the water in hissing steam; and sometimes (as it did in Iceland a few
years ago) falls over some cliff, turning what had been a water-fall into
a fire-fall, and filling up the pool below with blocks of lava suddenly
cooled, with a clang and roar like that of chains shaken or brazen
vessels beaten, which is heard miles and miles away.  Of course, woe to
the crops and gardens which stand in its way.  It crawls over them all
and eats them up.  It shoves down houses; it sets woods on fire, and
sends the steam and gas out of the tree-trunks hissing into the air.  And
(curiously enough) it does this often without touching the trees
themselves.  It flows round the trunks (it did so in a wood in the
Sandwich Islands a few years ago), and of course sets them on fire by its
heat, till nothing is left of them but blackened posts.  But the moisture
which comes out of the poor tree in steam blows so hard against the lava
round that it can never touch the tree, and a round hole is left in the
middle of the lava where the tree was.  Sometimes, too, the lava will
spit out liquid fire among the branches of the trees, which hangs down
afterwards from them in tassels of slag, and yet, by the very same means,
the steam in the branches will prevent the liquid fire burning them off,
or doing anything but just scorch the bark.

But I can tell you a more curious story still.  The lava stream, you must
know, is continually sending out little jets of gas and steam: some of it
it may have brought up from the very inside of the earth; most of it, I
suspect, comes from the damp herbage and damp soil over which it runs.  Be
that as it may, a lava stream out of Mount Etna, in Sicily, came once
down straight upon the town of Catania.  Everybody thought that the town
would be swallowed up; and the poor people there (who knew no better)
began to pray to St. Agatha--a famous saint, who, they say, was martyred
there ages ago--and who, they fancy, has power in heaven to save them
from the lava stream.  And really what happened was enough to make
ignorant people, such as they were, think that St. Agatha had saved them.
The lava stream came straight down upon the town wall.  Another foot, and
it would have touched it, and have begun shoving it down with a force
compared with which all the battering-rams that you ever read of in
ancient histories would be child's toys.  But lo and behold! when the
lava stream got within a few inches of the wall it stopped, and began to
rear itself upright and build itself into a wall beside the wall.  It
rose and rose, till I believe in one place it overtopped the wall and
began to curl over in a crest.  All expected that it would fall over into
the town at last: but no, there it stopped, and cooled, and hardened, and
left the town unhurt.  All the inhabitants said, of course, that St.
Agatha had done it: but learned men found out that, as usual Madam How
had done it, by making it do itself.  The lava was so full of gas, which
was continually blowing out in little jets, that when it reached the
wall, it actually blew itself back from the wall; and, as the wall was
luckily strong enough not to be blown down, the lava kept blowing itself
back till it had time to cool.  And so, my dear child, there was no
miracle at all in the matter; and the poor people of Catania had to thank
not St. Agatha, and any interference of hers, but simply Him who can
preserve, just as He can destroy, by those laws of nature which are the
breath of His mouth and the servants of His will.

But in many a case the lava does not stop.  It rolls on and on over the
downs and through the valleys, till it reaches the sea-shore, as it did
in Hawaii in the Sandwich Islands this very year.  And then it cools, of
course; but often not before it has killed the fish by its sulphurous
gases and heat, perhaps for miles around.  And there is good reason to
believe that the fossil fish which we so often find in rocks, perfect in
every bone, lying sometimes in heaps, and twisted (as I have seen them)
as if they had died suddenly and violently, were killed in this very way,
either by heat from lava streams, or else by the bursting up of gases
poisoning the water, in earthquakes and eruptions in the bottom of the
sea.  I could tell you many stories of fish being killed in thousands by
earthquakes and volcanos during the last few years.  But we have not time
to tell about everything.

And now you will ask me, with more astonishment than ever, what possible
use can there be in these destroying streams of fire?  And certainly, if
you had ever seen a lava stream even when cool, and looked down, as I
have done, at the great river of rough black blocks streaming away far
and wide over the land, you would think it the most hideous and the most
useless thing you ever saw.  And yet, my dear child, there is One who
told men to judge not according to the appearance, but to judge righteous
judgment.  He said that about matters spiritual and human: but it is
quite as true about matters natural, which also are His work, and all
obey His will.

Now if you had seen, as I have seen, close round the edges of these lava
streams, and sometimes actually upon them, or upon the great bed of dust
and ashes which have been hurled far and wide out of ancient volcanos,
happy homesteads, rich crops, hemp and flax, and wheat, tobacco, lucerne,
roots, and vineyards laden with white and purple grapes, you would have
begun to suspect that the lava streams were not, after all, such very bad
neighbours.  And when I tell you that volcanic soils (as they are
called), that is, soil which has at first been lava or ashes, are
generally the richest soils in the world--that, for instance (as some one
told me the other day), there is soil in the beautiful island of Madeira
so thin that you cannot dig more than two or three inches down without
coming to the solid rock of lava, or what is harder even, obsidian (which
is the black glass which volcanos sometimes make, and which the old
Mexicans used to chip into swords and arrows, because they had no
steel)--and that this soil, thin as it is, is yet so fertile, that in it
used to be grown the grapes of which the famous Madeira wine was
made--when you remember this, and when you remember, too, the Lothians of
Scotland (about which I shall have to say a little to you just now), then
you will perhaps agree with me, that Lady Why has not been so very wrong
in setting Madam How to pour out lava and ashes upon the surface of the

For see--down below, under the roots of the mountains, Madam How works
continually like a chemist in his laboratory, melting together all the
rocks, which are the bones and leavings of the old worlds.  If they
stayed down below there, they would be of no use; while they will be of
use up here in the open air.  For, year by year--by the washing of rain
and rivers, and also, I am sorry to say, by the ignorant and foolish
waste of mankind--thousands and millions of tons of good stuff are
running into the sea every year, which would, if it could be kept on
land, make food for men and animals, plants and trees.  So, in order to
supply the continual waste of this upper world, Madam How is continually
melting up the under world, and pouring it out of the volcanos like
manure, to renew the face of the earth.  In these lava rocks and ashes
which she sends up there are certain substances, without which men cannot
live--without which a stalk of corn or grass cannot grow.  Without
potash, without magnesia, both of which are in your veins and
mine--without silicates (as they are called), which give flint to the
stems of corn and of grass, and so make them stiff and hard, and able to
stand upright--and very probably without the carbonic acid gas, which
comes out of the volcanos, and is taken up by the leaves of plants, and
turned by Madam How's cookery into solid wood--without all these things,
and I suspect without a great many more things which come out of
volcanos--I do not see how this beautiful green world could get on at

Of course, when the lava first cools on the surface of the ground it is
hard enough, and therefore barren enough.  But Madam How sets to work
upon it at once, with that delicate little water-spade of hers, which we
call rain, and with that alone, century after century, and age after age,
she digs the lava stream down, atom by atom, and silts it over the
country round in rich manure.  So that if Madam How has been a rough and
hasty workwoman in pumping her treasures up out of her mine with her
great steam-pumps, she shows herself delicate and tender and kindly
enough in giving them away afterwards.

Nay, even the fine dust which is sometimes blown out of volcanos is
useful to countries far away.  So light it is, that it rises into the sky
and is wafted by the wind across the seas.  So, in the year 1783, ashes
from the Skaptar Jokull, in Iceland, were carried over the north of
Scotland, and even into Holland, hundreds of miles to the south.

So, again, when in the year 1812 the volcano of St. Vincent, in the West
India Islands, poured out torrents of lava, after mighty earthquakes
which shook all that part of the world, a strange thing happened (about
which I have often heard from those who saw it) in the island of
Barbados, several hundred miles away.  For when the sun rose in the
morning (it was a Sunday morning), the sky remained more dark than any
night, and all the poor negroes crowded terrified out of their houses
into the streets, fancying the end of the world was come.  But a learned
man who was there, finding that, though the sun was risen, it was still
pitchy dark, opened his window, and found that it was stuck fast by
something on the ledge outside, and, when he thrust it open, found the
ledge covered deep in soft red dust; and he instantly said, like a wise
man as he was, "The volcano of St. Vincent must have broken out, and
these are the ashes from it."  Then he ran down stairs and quieted the
poor negroes, telling them not to be afraid, for the end of the world was
not coming just yet.  But still the dust went on falling till the whole
island, I am told, was covered an inch thick; and the same thing happened
in the other islands round.  People thought--and they had reason to think
from what had often happened elsewhere--that though the dust might hurt
the crops for that year, it would make them richer in years to come,
because it would act as manure upon the soil; and so it did after a few
years; but it did terrible damage at the time, breaking off the boughs of
trees and covering up the crops; and in St. Vincent itself whole estates
were ruined.  It was a frightful day, but I know well that behind that
How there was a Why for its happening, and happening too, about that very
time, which all who know the history of negro slavery in the West Indies
can guess for themselves, and confess, I hope, that in this case, as in
all others, when Lady Why seems most severe she is often most just and

Ah! my dear child, that I could go on talking to you of this for hours
and days!  But I have time now only to teach you the alphabet of these
matters--and, indeed, I know little more than the alphabet myself; but if
the very letters of Madam How's book, and the mere A, B, AB, of it, which
I am trying to teach you, are so wonderful and so beautiful, what must
its sentences be and its chapters?  And what must the whole book be like?
But that last none can read save He who wrote it before the worlds were

But now I see you want to ask a question.  Let us have it out.  I would
sooner answer one question of yours than tell you ten things without your

Is there potash and magnesia and silicates in the soil here?  And if
there is, where did they come from?  For there are no volcanos in

Yes.  There are such things in the soil; and little enough of them, as
the farmers here know too well.  For we here, in Windsor Forest, are on
the very poorest and almost the newest soil in England; and when Madam
How had used up all her good materials in making the rest of the island,
she carted away her dry rubbish and shot it down here for us to make the
best of; and I do not think that we and our forefathers have done so very
ill with it.  But where the rich part, or staple, of our soils came from
first it would be very difficult to say, so often has Madam How made, and
unmade, and re-made England, and sifted her materials afresh every time.
But if you go to the Lowlands of Scotland, you may soon see where the
staple of the soil came from there, and that I was right in saying that
there were atoms of lava in every Scotch boy's broth.  Not that there
were ever (as far as I know) volcanos in Scotland or in England.  Madam
How has more than one string to her bow, or two strings either; so when
she pours out her lavas, she does not always pour them out in the open
air.  Sometimes she pours them out at the bottom of the sea, as she did
in the north of Ireland and the south-west of Scotland, when she made the
Giant's Causeway, and Fingal's Cave in Staffa too, at the bottom of the
old chalk ocean, ages and ages since.  Sometimes she squirts them out
between the layers of rock, or into cracks which the earthquakes have
made, in what are called trap dykes, of which there are plenty to be seen
in Scotland, and in Wales likewise.  And then she lifts the earth up from
the bottom of the sea, and sets the rain to wash away all the soft rocks,
till the hard lava stands out in great hills upon the surface of the
ground.  Then the rain begins eating away those lava-hills likewise, and
manuring the earth with them; and wherever those lava-hills stand up,
whether great or small, there is pretty sure to be rich land around them.
If you look at the Geological Map of England and Ireland, and the red
spots upon it, which will show you where those old lavas are, you will
see how much of them there is in England, at the Lizard Point in
Cornwall, and how much more in Scotland and the north of Ireland.  In
South Devon, in Shropshire--with its beautiful Wrekin, and Caradoc, and
Lawley--in Wales, round Snowdon (where some of the soil is very rich),
and, above all, in the Lowlands of Scotland, you see these red marks,
showing the old lavas, which are always fertile, except the poor old
granite, which is of little use save to cut into building stone, because
it is too full of quartz--that is, flint.

Think of this the next time you go through Scotland in the railway,
especially when you get near Edinburgh.  As you run through the Lothians,
with their noble crops of corn, and roots, and grasses--and their great
homesteads, each with its engine chimney, which makes steam do the work
of men--you will see rising out of the plain, hills of dark rock,
sometimes in single knobs, like Berwick Law or Stirling Crag--sometimes
in noble ranges, like Arthur's Seat, or the Sidlaws, or the Ochils.  Think
what these black bare lumps of whinstone are, and what they do.  Remember
they are mines--not gold mines, but something richer still--food mines,
which Madam How thrust into the inside of the earth, ages and ages since,
as molten lava rock, and then cooled them and lifted them up, and pared
them away with her ice-plough and her rain-spade, and spread the stuff of
them over the wide carses round, to make in that bleak northern climate,
which once carried nothing but fir-trees and heather, a soil fit to feed
a great people; to cultivate in them industry, and science, and valiant
self-dependence and self-help; and to gather round the Heart of
Midlothian and the Castle Rock of Edinburgh the stoutest and the ablest
little nation which Lady Why has made since she made the Greeks who
fought at Salamis.

Of those Greeks you have read, or ought to read, in Mr. Cox's _Tales of
the Persian War_.  Some day you will read of them in their own books,
written in their grand old tongue.  Remember that Lady Why made them, as
she has made the Scotch, by first preparing a country for them, which
would call out all their courage and their skill; and then by giving them
the courage and the skill to make use of the land where she had put them.

And now think what a wonderful fairy tale you might write for
yourself--and every word of it true--of the adventures of one atom of
Potash or some other Salt, no bigger than a needle's point, in such a
lava stream as I have been telling of.  How it has run round and round,
and will run round age after age, in an endless chain of change.  How it
began by being molten fire underground, how then it became part of a hard
cold rock, lifted up into a cliff, beaten upon by rain and storm, and
washed down into the soil of the plain, till, perhaps, the little atom of
mineral met with the rootlet of some great tree, and was taken up into
its sap in spring, through tiny veins, and hardened the next year into a
piece of solid wood.  And then how that tree was cut down, and its logs,
it may be, burnt upon the hearth, till the little atom of mineral lay
among the wood-ashes, and was shovelled out and thrown upon the field and
washed into the soil again, and taken up by the roots of a clover plant,
and became an atom of vegetable matter once more.  And then how, perhaps,
a rabbit came by, and ate the clover, and the grain of mineral became
part of the rabbit; and then how a hawk killed that rabbit, and ate it,
and so the grain became part of the hawk; and how the farmer shot the
hawk, and it fell perchance into a stream, and was carried down into the
sea; and when its body decayed, the little grain sank through the water,
and was mingled with the mud at the bottom of the sea.  But do its
wanderings stop there?  Not so, my child.  Nothing upon this earth, as I
told you once before, continues in one stay.  That grain of mineral might
stay at the bottom of the sea a thousand or ten thousand years, and yet
the time would come when Madam How would set to work on it again.  Slowly,
perhaps, she would sink that mud so deep, and cover it up with so many
fresh beds of mud, or sand, or lime, that under the heavy weight, and
perhaps, too, under the heat of the inside of the earth, that Mud would
slowly change to hard Slate Rock; and ages after, it may be, Madam How
might melt that Slate Rock once more, and blast it out; and then through
the mouth of a volcano the little grain of mineral might rise into the
open air again to make fresh soil, as it had done thousands of years
before.  For Madam How can manufacture many different things out of the
same materials.  She may have so wrought with that grain of mineral, that
she may have formed it into part of a precious stone, and men may dig it
out of the rock, or pick it up in the river-bed, and polish it, and set
it, and wear it.  Think of that--that in the jewels which your mother or
your sisters wear, or in your father's signet ring, there may be atoms
which were part of a live plant, or a live animal, millions of years ago,
and may be parts of a live plant or a live animal millions of years

Think over again, and learn by heart, the links of this endless chain of
change: Fire turned into Stone--Stone into Soil--Soil into Plant--Plant
into Animal--Animal into Soil--Soil into Stone--Stone into Fire again--and
then Fire into Stone again, and the old thing run round once more.

So it is, and so it must be.  For all things which are born in Time must
change in Time, and die in Time, till that Last Day of this our little
earth, in which,

   "Like to the baseless fabric of a vision,
   The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
   The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
   Yea, all things which inherit, shall dissolve,
   And, like an unsubstantial pageant faded,
   Leave not a rack behind."

So all things change and die, and so your body too must change and
die--but not yourself.  Madam How made your body; and she must unmake it
again, as she unmakes all her works in Time and Space; but you, child,
your Soul, and Life, and Self, she did not make; and over you she has no
power.  For you were not, like your body, created in Time and Space; and
you will endure though Time and Space should be no more: because you are
the child of the Living God, who gives to each thing its own body, and
can give you another body, even as seems good to Him.


You want to know why I am so fond of that little bit of limestone, no
bigger than my hand, which lies upon the shelf; why I ponder over it so
often, and show it to all sensible people who come to see me?

I do so, not only for the sake of the person who gave it to me, but
because there is written on it a letter out of Madam How's alphabet,
which has taken wise men many a year to decipher.  I could not decipher
that letter when first I saw the stone.  More shame for me, for I had
seen it often before, and understood it well enough, in many another page
of Madam How's great book.  Take the stone, and see if you can find out
anything strange about it.

Well, it is only a bit of marble as big as my hand, that looks as if it
had been, and really has been, broken off by a hammer.  But when you look
again, you see there is a smooth scraped part on one edge, that seems to
have been rubbed against a stone.

Now look at that rubbed part, and tell me how it was done.

You have seen men often polish one stone on another, or scour floors with
a Bath brick, and you will guess at first that this was polished so: but
if it had been, then the rubbed place would have been flat: but if you
put your fingers over it, you will find that it is not flat.  It is
rolled, fluted, channelled, so that the thing or things which rubbed it
must have been somewhat round.  And it is covered, too, with very fine
and smooth scratches or grooves, all running over the whole in the same
line.  Now what could have done that?

Of course a man could have done it, if he had taken a large round stone
in his hand, and worked the large channellings with that, and then had
taken fine sand and gravel upon the points of his fingers, and worked the
small scratches with that.  But this stone came from a place where man
had, perhaps, never stood before,--ay, which, perhaps, had never seen the
light of day before since the world was made; and as I happen to know
that no man made the marks upon that stone, we must set to work and think
again for some tool of Madam How's which may have made them.

And now I think you must give up guessing, and I must tell you the answer
to the riddle.  Those marks were made by a hand which is strong and yet
gentle, tough and yet yielding, like the hand of a man; a hand which
handles and uses in a grip stronger than a giant's its own carving tools,
from the great boulder stone as large as this whole room to the finest
grain of sand.  And that is ICE.

That piece of stone came from the side of the Rosenlaui glacier in
Switzerland, and it was polished by the glacier ice.  The glacier melted
and shrank this last hot summer farther back than it had done for many
years, and left bare sheets of rock, which it had been scraping at for
ages, with all the marks fresh upon them.  And that bit was broken off
and brought to me, who never saw a glacier myself, to show me how the
marks which the ice makes in Switzerland are exactly the same as those
which the ice has made in Snowdon and in the Highlands, and many another
place where I have traced them, and written a little, too, about them in
years gone by.  And so I treasure this, as a sign that Madam How's ways
do not change nor her laws become broken; that, as that great philosopher
Sir Charles Lyell will tell you, when you read his books, Madam How is
making and unmaking the surface of the earth now, by exactly the same
means as she was making and unmaking ages and ages since; and that what
is going on slowly and surely in the Alps in Switzerland was going on
once here where we stand.

It is very difficult, I know, for a little boy like you to understand how
ice, and much more how soft snow, should have such strength that it can
grind this little stone, much more such strength as to grind whole
mountains into plains.  You have never seen ice and snow do harm.  You
cannot even recollect the Crimean Winter, as it was called then; and well
for you you cannot, considering all the misery it brought at home and
abroad.  You cannot, I say, recollect the Crimean Winter, when the Thames
was frozen over above the bridges, and the ice piled in little bergs ten
to fifteen feet high, which lay, some of them, stranded on the shores,
about London itself, and did not melt, if I recollect, until the end of
May.  You never stood, as I stood, in the great winter of 1837-8 on
Battersea Bridge, to see the ice break up with the tide, and saw the
great slabs and blocks leaping and piling upon each other's backs, and
felt the bridge tremble with their shocks, and listened to their horrible
grind and roar, till one got some little picture in one's mind of what
must be the breaking up of an ice-floe in the Arctic regions, and what
must be the danger of a ship nipped in the ice and lifted up on high,
like those in the pictures of Arctic voyages which you are so fond of
looking through.  You cannot recollect how that winter even in our little
Blackwater Brook the alder stems were all peeled white, and scarred, as
if they had been gnawed by hares and deer, simply by the rushing and
scraping of the ice,--a sight which gave me again a little picture of the
destruction which the ice makes of quays, and stages, and houses along
the shore upon the coasts of North America, when suddenly setting in with
wind and tide, it jams and piles up high inland, as you may read for
yourself some day in a delightful book called _Frost and Fire_.  You
recollect none of these things.  Ice and snow are to you mere playthings;
and you long for winter, that you may make snowballs and play hockey and
skate upon the ponds, and eat ice like a foolish boy till you make your
stomach ache.  And I dare say you have said, like many another boy, on a
bright cheery ringing frosty day, "Oh, that it would be always winter!"
You little knew for what you asked.  You little thought what the earth
would soon be like, if it were always winter,--if one sheet of ice on the
pond glued itself on to the bottom of the last sheet, till the whole pond
was a solid mass,--if one snow-fall lay upon the top of another snow-fall
till the moor was covered many feet deep and the snow began sliding
slowly down the glen from Coombs's, burying the green fields, tearing the
trees up by their roots, burying gradually house, church, and village,
and making this place for a few thousand years what it was many thousand
years ago.  Good-bye then, after a very few winters, to bees, and
butterflies, and singing-birds, and flowers; and good-bye to all
vegetables, and fruit, and bread; good-bye to cotton and woollen clothes.
You would have, if you were left alive, to dress in skins, and eat fish
and seals, if any came near enough to be caught.  You would have to live
in a word, if you could live at all, as Esquimaux live now in Arctic
regions, and as people had to live in England ages since, in the times
when it was always winter, and icebergs floated between here and
Finchampstead.  Oh no, my child: thank Heaven that it is not always
winter; and remember that winter ice and snow, though it is a very good
tool with which to make the land, must leave the land year by year if
that land is to be fit to live in.

I said that if the snow piled high enough upon the moor, it would come
down the glen in a few years through Coombs's Wood; and I said then you
would have a small glacier here--such a glacier (to compare small things
with great) as now comes down so many valleys in the Alps, or has come
down all the valleys of Greenland and Spitzbergen till they reach the
sea, and there end as cliffs of ice, from which great icebergs snap off
continually, and fall and float away, wandering southward into the
Atlantic for many a hundred miles.  You have seen drawings of such
glaciers in Captain Cook's Voyages; and you may see photographs of Swiss
glaciers in any good London print-shop; and therefore you have seen
almost as much about them as I have seen, and may judge for yourself how
you would like to live where it is always winter.

Now you must not ask me to tell you what a glacier is like, for I have
never seen one; at least, those which I have seen were more than fifty
miles away, looking like white clouds hanging on the gray mountain sides.
And it would be an impertinence--that means a meddling with things which
I have no business--to picture to you glaciers which have been pictured
so well and often by gentlemen who escape every year from their hard work
in town to find among the glaciers of the Alps health and refreshment,
and sound knowledge, and that most wholesome and strengthening of all
medicines, toil.

So you must read of them in such books as _Peaks, Passes, and Glaciers_,
and Mr. Willes's _Wanderings in the High Alps_, and Professor Tyndall's
different works; or you must look at them (as I just now said) in
photographs or in pictures.  But when you do that, or when you see a
glacier for yourself, you must bear in mind what a glacier means--that it
is a river of ice, fed by a lake of snow.  The lake from which it springs
is the eternal snow-field which stretches for miles and miles along the
mountain tops, fed continually by fresh snow-storms falling from the sky.
That snow slides off into the valleys hour by hour, and as it rushes down
is ground and pounded, and thawed and frozen again into a sticky paste of
ice, which flows slowly but surely till it reaches the warm valley at the
mountain foot, and there melts bit by bit.  The long black lines which
you see winding along the white and green ice of the glacier are the
stones which have fallen from the cliffs above.  They will be dropped at
the end of the glacier, and mixed with silt and sand and other stones
which have come down inside the glacier itself, and piled up in the field
in great mounds, which are called moraines, such as you may see and walk
on in Scotland many a time, though you might never guess what they are.

The river which runs out at the glacier foot is, you must remember, all
foul and milky with the finest mud; and that mud is the grinding of the
rocks over which the glacier has been crawling down, and scraping them as
it scraped my bit of stone with pebbles and with sand.  And this is the
alphabet, which, if you learn by heart, you will learn to understand how
Madam How uses her great ice-plough to plough down her old mountains, and
spread the stuff of them about the valleys to make rich straths of
fertile soil.  Nay, so immensely strong, because immensely heavy, is the
share of this her great ice-plough, that some will tell you (and it is
not for me to say that they are wrong) that with it she has ploughed out
all the mountain lakes in Europe and in North America; that such lakes,
for instance, as Ullswater or Windermere have been scooped clean out of
the solid rock by ice which came down these glaciers in old times.  And
be sure of this, that next to Madam How's steam-pump and her rain-spade,
her great ice-plough has had, and has still, the most to do with making
the ground on which we live.

Do I mean that there were ever glaciers here?  No, I do not.  There have
been glaciers in Scotland in plenty.  And if any Scotch boy shall read
this book, it will tell him presently how to find the marks of them far
and wide over his native land.  But as you, my child, care most about
this country in which you live, I will show you in any gravel-pit, or
hollow lane upon the moor, the marks, not of a glacier, which is an ice-
river, but of a whole sea of ice.

Let us come up to the pit upon the top of the hill, and look carefully at
what we see there.  The lower part of the pit of course is a solid rock
of sand.  On the top of that is a cap of gravel, five, six, ten feet
thick.  Now the sand was laid down there by water at the bottom of an old
sea; and therefore the top of it would naturally be flat and smooth, as
the sands at Hunstanton or at Bournemouth are; and the gravel, if it was
laid down by water, would naturally lie flat on it again: but it does
not.  See how the top of the sand is dug out into deep waves and pits,
filled up with gravel.  And see, too, how over some of the gravel you get
sand again, and then gravel again, and then sand again, till you cannot
tell where one fairly begins and the other ends.  Why, here are little
dots of gravel, six or eight feet down, in what looks the solid sand
rock, yet the sand must have been opened somehow to put the gravel in.

You say you have seen that before.  You have seen the same curious
twisting of the gravel and sand into each other on the top of Farley
Hill, and in the new cutting on Minley Hill; and, best of all, in the
railway cutting between Ascot and Sunningdale, where upon the top the
white sand and gravel is arranged in red and brown waves, and festoons,
and curlicues, almost like Prince of Wales's feathers.  Yes, that last is
a beautiful section of ice-work; so beautiful, that I hope to have it
photographed some day.

Now, how did ice do this?

Well, I was many a year before I found out that, and I dare say I never
should have found it out for myself.  A gentleman named Trimmer, who,
alas! is now dead, was, I believe, the first to find it out.  He knew
that along the coast of Labrador, and other cold parts of North America,
and on the shores, too, of the great river St. Lawrence, the stranded
icebergs, and the ice-foot, as it is called, which is continually forming
along the freezing shores, grub and plough every tide into the mud and
sand, and shove up before them, like a ploughshare, heaps of dirt; and
that, too, the ice itself is full of dirt, of sand and stones, which it
may have brought from hundreds of miles away; and that, as this
ploughshare of dirty ice grubs onward, the nose of the plough is
continually being broken off, and left underneath the mud; and that, when
summer comes, and the ice melts, the mud falls back into the place where
the ice had been, and covers up the gravel which was in the ice.  So,
what between the grubbing of the ice-plough into the mud, and the dirt
which it leaves behind when it melts, the stones, and sand, and mud upon
the shore are jumbled up into curious curved and twisted layers, exactly
like those which Mr. Trimmer saw in certain gravel-pits.  And when I
first read about that, I said, "And exactly like what I have been seeing
in every gravel-pit round here, and trying to guess how they could have
been made by currents of water, and yet never could make any guess which
would do."  But after that it was all explained to me; and I said,
"Honour to the man who has let Madam How teach him what she had been
trying to teach me for fifteen years, while I was too stupid to learn it.
Now I am certain, as certain as I can be of any earthly thing, that the
whole of these Windsor Forest Flats were ages ago ploughed and harrowed
over and over again, by ice-floes and icebergs drifting and stranding in
a shallow sea."

And if you say, my dear child, as some people will say, that it is like
building a large house upon a single brick to be sure that there was an
iceberg sea here, just because I see a few curlicues in the gravel and
sand--then I must tell you that there are sometimes--not often, but
sometimes--pages in Madam How's book in which one single letter tells you
as much as a whole chapter; in which if you find one little fact, and
know what it really means, it makes you certain that a thousand other
great facts have happened.  You may be astonished: but you cannot deny
your own eyes, and your own common sense.  You feel like Robinson Crusoe
when, walking along the shore of his desert island, he saw for the first
time the print of a man's foot in the sand.  How it could have got there
without a miracle he could not dream.  But there it was.  One footprint
was as good as the footprints of a whole army would have been.  A man had
been there; and more men might come.  And in fear of the savages--and if
you have read Robinson Crusoe you know how just his fears were--he went
home trembling and loaded his muskets, and barricaded his cave, and
passed sleepless nights watching for the savages who might come, and who
came after all.

And so there are certain footprints in geology which there is no
mistaking; and the prints of the ice-plough are among them.

For instance:--When they were trenching the new plantation close to
Wellington College station, the men turned up out of the ground a great
many Sarsden stones; that is, pieces of hard sugary sand, such as
Stonehenge is made of.  And when I saw these I said, "I suspect these
were brought here by icebergs:" but I was not sure, and waited.  As the
men dug on, they dug up a great many large flints, with bottle-green
coats.  "Now," I said, "I am sure.  For I know where these flints must
have come from."  And for reasons which would be too long to tell you
here, I said, "Some time or other, icebergs have been floating northward
from the Hog's Back over Aldershot and Farnborough, and have been trying
to get into the Vale of Thames by the slope at Wellington College
station; and they have stranded, and dropped these flints."  And I am so
sure of that, that if I found myself out wrong after all I should be at
my wit's end; for I should know that I was wrong about a hundred things

Or again, if you ever go up Deeside in Scotland, towards Balmoral, and
turn up Glen Muick, towards Alt-na-guisach, of which you may see a
picture in the Queen's last book, you will observe standing on your right
hand, just above Birk Hall, three pretty rounded knolls, which they call
the Coile Hills.  You may easily know them by their being covered with
beautiful green grass instead of heather.  That is because they are made
of serpentine or volcanic rock, which (as you have seen) often cuts into
beautiful red and green marble; and which also carries a very rich soil
because it is full of magnesia.  If you go up those hills, you get a
glorious view--the mountains sweeping round you where you stand, up to
the top of Lochnagar, with its bleak walls a thousand feet perpendicular,
and gullies into which the sun never shines, and round to the dark fir
forests of the Ballochbuie.  That is the arc of the bow; and the cord of
the bow is the silver Dee, more than a thousand feet below you; and in
the centre of the cord, where the arrow would be fitted in, stands
Balmoral, with its Castle, and its Gardens, and its Park, and pleasant
cottages and homesteads all around.  And when you have looked at the
beautiful amphitheatre of forest at your feet, and looked too at the
great mountains to the westward, and Benaun, and Benna-buird and Benna-
muicdhui, with their bright patches of eternal snow, I should advise you
to look at the rock on which you stand, and see what you see there.  And
you will see that on the side of the Coiles towards Lochnagar, and
between the knolls of them, are scattered streams, as it were, of great
round boulder stones--which are not serpentine, but granite from the top
of Lochnagar, five miles away.  And you will see that the knolls of
serpentine rock, or at least their backs and shoulders towards Lochnagar,
are all smoothed and polished till they are as round as the backs of
sheep, "roches moutonnees," as the French call ice-polished rocks; and
then, if you understand what that means, you will say, as I said, "I am
perfectly certain that this great basin between me and Lochnagar, which
is now 3000 feet deep of empty air was once filled up with ice to the
height of the hills on which I stand--about 1700 feet high--and that that
ice ran over into Glen Muick, between these pretty knolls, and covered
the ground where Birk Hall now stands."

And more:--When you see growing on those knolls of serpentine a few
pretty little Alpine plants, which have no business down there so low,
you will have a fair right to say, as I said, "The seeds of these plants
were brought by the ice ages and ages since from off the mountain range
of Lochnagar, and left here, nestling among the rocks, to found a fresh
colony, far from their old mountain home."

If I could take you with me up to Scotland,--take you, for instance,
along the Tay, up the pass of Dunkeld, or up Strathmore towards Aberdeen,
or up the Dee towards Braemar,--I could show you signs, which cannot be
mistaken, of the time when Scotland was, just like Spitzbergen or like
Greenland now, covered in one vast sheet of snow and ice from year's end
to year's end; when glaciers were ploughing out its valleys, icebergs
were breaking off the icy cliffs and floating out to sea; when not a
bird, perhaps, was to be seen save sea-fowl, not a plant upon the rocks
but a few lichens, and Alpine saxifrages, and such like--desolation and
cold and lifeless everywhere.  That ice-time went on for ages and for
ages; and yet it did not go on in vain.  Through it Madam How was
ploughing down the mountains of Scotland to make all those rich farms
which stretch from the north side of the Frith of Forth into
Sutherlandshire.  I could show you everywhere the green banks and knolls
of earth, which Scotch people call "kames" and "tomans"--perhaps brought
down by ancient glaciers, or dropped by ancient icebergs--now so smooth
and green through summer and through winter, among the wild heath and the
rough peat-moss, that the old Scots fancied, and I dare say Scotch
children fancy still, fairies dwelt inside.  If you laid your ear against
the mounds, you might hear the fairy music, sweet and faint, beneath the
ground.  If you watched the mound at night, you might see the fairies
dancing the turf short and smooth, or riding out on fairy horses, with
green silk clothes and jingling bells.  But if you fell asleep upon the
mounds, the fairy queen came out and carried you for seven years into
Fairyland, till you awoke again in the same place, to find all changed
around you, and yourself grown thin and old.

These are all dreams and fancies--untrue, not because they are too
strange and wonderful, but because they are not strange and wonderful
enough: for more wonderful sure than any fairy tale it is, that Madam How
should make a rich and pleasant land by the brute force of ice.

And were there any men and women in that old age of ice?  That is a long
story, and a dark one too; we will talk of it next time.


You asked if there were men in England when the country was covered with
ice and snow.  Look at this, and judge for yourself.

What is it? a piece of old mortar?  Yes.  But mortar which was made Madam
How herself, and not by any man.  And what is in it?  A piece of flint
and some bits of bone.  But look at that piece of flint.  It is narrow,
thin, sharp-edged: quite different in shape from any bit of flint which
you or I ever saw among the hundreds of thousands of broken bits of
gravel which we tread on here all day long; and here are some more bits
like it, which came from the same place--all very much the same shape,
like rough knives or razor blades; and here is a core of flint, the
remaining part of a large flint, from which, as you may see, blades like
those have been split off.  Those flakes of flint, my child, were split
off by men; even your young eyes ought to be able to see that.  And here
are other pieces of flint--pear-shaped, but flattened, sharp at one end
and left rounded at the other, which look like spear-heads, or
arrow-heads, or pointed axes, or pointed hatchets--even your young eyes
can see that these must have been made by man.  And they are, I may tell
you, just like the tools of flint, or of obsidian, which is volcanic
glass, and which savages use still where they have not iron.  There is a
great obsidian knife, you know, in a house in this very parish, which
came from Mexico; and your eye can tell you how like it is to these flint
ones.  But these flint tools are very old.  If you crack a fresh flint,
you will see that its surface is gray, and somewhat rough, so that it
sticks to your tongue.  These tools are smooth and shiny: and the edges
of some of them are a little rubbed from being washed about in gravel;
while the iron in the gravel has stained them reddish, which it would
take hundreds and perhaps thousands of years to do.  There are little
rough markings, too, upon some of them, which, if you look at through a
magnifying glass, are iron, crystallised into the shape of little sea-
weeds and trees--another sign that they are very very old.  And what is
more, near the place where these flint flakes come from there are no
flints in the ground for hundreds of miles; so that men must have brought
them there ages and ages since.  And to tell you plainly, these are
scrapers such as the Esquimaux in North America still use to scrape the
flesh off bones, and to clean the insides of skins.

But did these people (savages perhaps) live when the country was icy
cold?  Look at the bits of bone.  They have been split, you see,
lengthways; that, I suppose, was to suck the marrow out of them, as
savages do still.  But to what animal do the bones belong?  That is the
question, and one which I could not have answered you, if wiser men than
I am could not have told me.

They are the bones of reindeer--such reindeer as are now found only in
Lapland and the half-frozen parts of North America, close to the Arctic
circle, where they have six months day and six months night.  You have
read of Laplanders, and how they drive reindeer in their sledges, and
live upon reindeer milk; and you have read of Esquimaux, who hunt seals
and walrus, and live in houses of ice, lighted by lamps fed with the same
blubber on which they feed themselves.  I need not tell you about them.

Now comes the question--Whence did these flints and bones come?  They
came out of a cave in Dordogne, in the heart of sunny France,--far away
to the south, where it is hotter every summer than it was here even this
summer, from among woods of box and evergreen oak, and vineyards of rich
red wine.  In that warm land once lived savages, who hunted amid ice and
snow the reindeer, and with the reindeer animals stranger still.

And now I will tell you a fairy tale: to make you understand it at all I
must put it in the shape of a tale.  I call it a fairy tale, because it
is so strange; indeed I think I ought to call it the fairy tale of all
fairy tales, for by the time we get to the end of it I think it will
explain to you how our forefathers got to believe in fairies, and trolls,
and elves, and scratlings, and all strange little people who were said to
haunt the mountains and the caves.

Well, once upon a time, so long ago that no man can tell when, the land
was so much higher, that between England and Ireland, and, what is more,
between England and Norway, was firm dry land.  The country then must
have looked--at least we know it looked so in Norfolk--very like what our
moors look like here.  There were forests of Scotch fir, and of spruce
too, which is not wild in England now, though you may see plenty in every
plantation.  There were oaks and alders, yews and sloes, just as there
are in our woods now.  There was buck-bean in the bogs, as there is in
Larmer's and Heath pond; and white and yellow water-lilies, horn-wort,
and pond-weeds, just as there are now in our ponds.  There were wild
horses, wild deer, and wild oxen, those last of an enormous size.  There
were little yellow roe-deer, which will not surprise you, for there are
hundreds and thousands in Scotland to this day; and, as you know, they
will thrive well enough in our woods now.  There were beavers too: but
that must not surprise you, for there were beavers in South Wales long
after the Norman Conquest, and there are beavers still in the mountain
glens of the south-east of France.  There were honest little water-rats
too, who I dare say sat up on their hind legs like monkeys, nibbling the
water-lily pods, thousands of years ago, as they do in our ponds now.
Well, so far we have come to nothing strange: but now begins the fairy
tale.  Mixed with all these animals, there wandered about great herds of
elephants and rhinoceroses; not smooth-skinned, mind, but covered with
hair and wool, like those which are still found sticking out of the
everlasting ice cliffs, at the mouth of the Lena and other Siberian
rivers, with the flesh, and skin, and hair so fresh upon them, that the
wild wolves tear it off, and snarl and growl over the carcase of monsters
who were frozen up thousands of years ago.  And with them, stranger
still, were great hippopotamuses; who came, perhaps, northward in summer
time along the sea-shore and down the rivers, having spread hither all
the way from Africa; for in those days, you must understand, Sicily, and
Italy, and Malta--look at your map--were joined to the coast of Africa:
and so it may be was the rock of Gibraltar itself; and over the sea where
the Straits of Gibraltar now flow was firm dry land, over which hyaenas
and leopards, elephants and rhinoceroses ranged into Spain; for their
bones are found at this day in the Gibraltar caves.  And this is the
first chapter of my fairy tale.

Now while all this was going on, and perhaps before this began, the
climate was getting colder year by year--we do not know how; and, what is
more, the land was sinking; and it sank so deep that at last nothing was
left out of the water but the tops of the mountains in Ireland, and
Scotland, and Wales.  It sank so deep that it left beds of shells
belonging to the Arctic regions nearly two thousand feet high upon the
mountain side.  And so

      "It grew wondrous cold,
   And ice mast-high came floating by,
      As green as emerald."

But there were no masts then to measure the icebergs by, nor any ship nor
human being there.  All we know is that the icebergs brought with them
vast quantities of mud, which sank to the bottom, and covered up that
pleasant old forest-land in what is called boulder-clay; clay full of
bits of broken rock, and of blocks of stone so enormous, that nothing but
an iceberg could have carried them.  So all the animals were drowned or
driven away, and nothing was left alive perhaps, except a few little
hardy plants which clung about cracks and gullies in the mountain tops;
and whose descendants live there still.  That was a dreadful time; the
worst, perhaps, of all the age of Ice; and so ends the second chapter of
my fairy tale.

Now for my third chapter.  "When things come to the worst," says the
proverb, "they commonly mend;" and so did this poor frozen and drowned
land of England and France and Germany, though it mended very slowly.  The
land began to rise out of the sea once more, and rose till it was perhaps
as high as it had been at first, and hundreds of feet higher than it is
now: but still it was very cold, covered, in Scotland at least, with one
great sea of ice and glaciers descending down into the sea, as I said
when I spoke to you about the Ice-Plough.  But as the land rose, and grew
warmer too, while it rose, the wild beasts who had been driven out by the
great drowning came gradually back again.  As the bottom of the old icy
sea turned into dry land, and got covered with grasses, and weeds, and
shrubs once more, elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, oxen--sometimes
the same species, sometimes slightly different ones--returned to France,
and then to England (for there was no British Channel then to stop them);
and with them came other strange animals, especially the great Irish elk,
as he is called, as large as the largest horse, with horns sometimes ten
feet across.  A pair of those horns with the skull you have seen
yourself, and can judge what a noble animal he must have been.  Enormous
bears came too, and hyaenas, and a tiger or lion (I cannot say which), as
large as the largest Bengal tiger now to be seen in India.

And in those days--we cannot, of course, exactly say when--there
came--first I suppose into the south and east of France, and then
gradually onward into England and Scotland and Ireland--creatures without
any hair to keep them warm, or scales to defend them, without horns or
tusks to fight with, or teeth to worry and bite; the weakest you would
have thought of the beasts, and yet stronger than all the animals,
because they were Men, with reasonable souls.  Whence they came we cannot
tell, nor why; perhaps from mere hunting after food, and love of
wandering and being independent and alone.  Perhaps they came into that
icy land for fear of stronger and cleverer people than themselves; for we
have no proof, my child, none at all, that they were the first men that
trod this earth.  But be that as it may, they came; and so cunning were
these savage men, and so brave likewise, though they had no iron among
them, only flint and sharpened bones, yet they contrived to kill and eat
the mammoths, and the giant oxen, and the wild horses, and the reindeer,
and to hold their own against the hyaenas, and tigers, and bears, simply
because they had wits, and the dumb animals had none.  And that is the
strangest part to me of all my fairy tale.  For what a man's wits are,
and why he has them, and therefore is able to invent and to improve,
while even the cleverest ape has none, and therefore can invent and
improve nothing, and therefore cannot better himself, but must remain
from father to son, and father to son again, a stupid, pitiful,
ridiculous ape, while men can go on civilising themselves, and growing
richer and more comfortable, wiser and happier, year by year--how that
comes to pass, I say, is to me a wonder and a prodigy and a miracle,
stranger than all the most fantastic marvels you ever read in fairy

You may find the flint weapons which these old savages used buried in
many a gravel-pit up and down France and the south of England; but you
will find none here, for the gravel here was made (I am told) at the
beginning of the ice-time, before the north of England sunk into the sea,
and therefore long, long before men came into this land.  But most of
their remains are found in caves which water has eaten out of the
limestone rocks, like that famous cave of Kent's Hole at Torquay.  In it,
and in many another cave, lie the bones of animals which the savages ate,
and cracked to get the marrow out of them, mixed up with their
flint-weapons and bone harpoons, and sometimes with burnt ashes and with
round stones, used perhaps to heat water, as savages do now, all baked
together into a hard paste or breccia by the lime.  These are in the
water, and are often covered with a floor of stalagmite which has dripped
from the roof above and hardened into stone.  Of these caves and their
beautiful wonders I must tell you another day.  We must keep now to our
fairy tale.  But in these caves, no doubt, the savages lived; for not
only have weapons been found in them, but actually drawings scratched (I
suppose with flint) on bone or mammoth ivory--drawings of elk, and bull,
and horse, and ibex--and one, which was found in France, of the great
mammoth himself, the woolly elephant, with a mane on his shoulders like a
lion's mane.  So you see that one of the earliest fancies of this strange
creature, called man, was to draw, as you and your schoolfellows love to
draw, and copy what you see, you know not why.  Remember that.  You like
to draw; but why you like it neither you nor any man can tell.  It is one
of the mysteries of human nature; and that poor savage clothed in skins,
dirty it may be, and more ignorant than you (happily) can conceive, when
he sat scratching on ivory in the cave the figures of the animals he
hunted, was proving thereby that he had the same wonderful and mysterious
human nature as you--that he was the kinsman of every painter and
sculptor who ever felt it a delight and duty to copy the beautiful works
of God.

Sometimes, again, especially in Denmark, these savages have left behind
upon the shore mounds of dirt, which are called there
"kjokken-moddings"--"kitchen-middens" as they would say in Scotland,
"kitchen-dirtheaps" as we should say here down South--and a very good
name for them that is; for they are made up of the shells of oysters,
cockles, mussels, and periwinkles, and other shore-shells besides, on
which those poor creatures fed; and mingled with them are broken bones of
beasts, and fishes, and birds, and flint knives, and axes, and sling
stones; and here and there hearths, on which they have cooked their meals
in some rough way.  And that is nearly all we know about them; but this
we know from the size of certain of the shells, and from other reasons
which you would not understand, that these mounds were made an enormous
time ago, when the water of the Baltic Sea was far more salt than it is

But what has all this to do with my fairy tale?  This:--

Suppose that these people, after all, had been fairies?

I am in earnest.  Of course, I do not mean that these folk could make
themselves invisible, or that they had any supernatural powers--any more,
at least, than you and I have--or that they were anything but savages;
but this I do think, that out of old stories of these savages grew up the
stories of fairies, elves, and trolls, and scratlings, and cluricaunes,
and ogres, of which you have read so many.

When stronger and bolder people, like the Irish, and the Highlanders of
Scotland, and the Gauls of France, came northward with their bronze and
iron weapons; and still more, when our own forefathers, the Germans and
the Norsemen, came, these poor little savages with their flint arrows and
axes, were no match for them, and had to run away northward, or to be all
killed out; for people were fierce and cruel in those old times, and
looked on every one of a different race from themselves as a natural
enemy.  They had not learnt--alas! too many have not learned it yet--that
all men are brothers for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  So these
poor savages were driven out, till none were left, save the little Lapps
up in the north of Norway, where they live to this day.

But stories of them, and of how they dwelt in caves, and had strange
customs, and used poisoned weapons, and how the elf-bolts (as their flint
arrow-heads are still called) belonged to them, lingered on, and were
told round the fire on winter nights and added to, and played with half
in fun, till a hundred legends sprang up about them, which used once to
be believed by grown-up folk, but which now only amuse children.  And
because some of these savages were very short, as the Lapps and Esquimaux
are now, the story grew of their being so small that they could make
themselves invisible; and because others of them were (but probably only
a few) very tall and terrible, the story grew that there were giants in
that old world, like that famous Gogmagog, whom Brutus and his Britons
met (so old fables tell), when they landed first at Plymouth, and fought
him, and threw him over the cliff.  Ogres, too--of whom you read in fairy
tales--I am afraid that there were such people once, even here in Europe;
strong and terrible savages, who ate human beings.  Of course, the
legends and tales about them became ridiculous and exaggerated as they
passed from mouth to mouth over the Christmas fire, in the days when no
one could read or write.  But that the tales began by being true any one
may well believe who knows how many cannibal savages there are in the
world even now.  I think that, if ever there was an ogre in the world, he
must have been very like a certain person who lived, or was buried, in a
cave in the Neanderthal, between Elberfeld and Dusseldorf, on the Lower
Rhine.  The skull and bones which were found there (and which are very
famous now among scientific men) belonged to a personage whom I should
have been very sorry to meet, and still more to let you meet, in the wild
forest; to a savage of enormous strength of limb (and I suppose of jaw)

   "like an ape,
   With forehead villainous low,"

who could have eaten you if he would; and (I fear) also would have eaten
you if he could.  Such savages may have lingered (I believe, from the old
ballads and romances, that they did linger) for a long time in lonely
forests and mountain caves, till they were all killed out by warriors who
wore mail-armour and carried steel sword, and battle-axe, and lance.

But had these people any religion?

My dear child, we cannot know, and need not know.  But we know this--that
God beholds all the heathen.  He fashions the hearts of them, and
understandeth all their works.  And we know also that He is just and
good.  These poor folks were, I doubt not, happy enough in their way; and
we are bound to believe (for we have no proof against it), that most of
them were honest and harmless enough likewise.  Of course, ogres and
cannibals, and cruel and brutal persons (if there were any among them),
deserved punishment--and punishment, I do not doubt, they got.  But, of
course, again, none of them knew things which you know; but for that very
reason they were not bound to do many things which you are bound to do.
For those to whom little is given, of them shall little be required.  What
their religion was like, or whether they had any religion at all, we
cannot tell.  But this we can tell, that known unto God are all His works
from the creation of the world; and that His mercy is over all His works,
and He hateth nothing that He has made.  These men and women, whatever
they were, were God's work; and therefore we may comfort ourselves with
the certainty that, whether or not they knew God, God knew them.

And so ends my fairy tale.

But is it not a wonderful tale?  More wonderful, if you will think over
it, than any story invented by man.  But so it always is.  "Truth," wise
men tell us, "is stranger than fiction."  Even a child like you will see
that it must be so, if you will but recollect who makes fiction, and who
makes facts.

Man makes fiction: he invents stories, pretty enough, fantastical enough.
But out of what does he make them up?  Out of a few things in this great
world which he has seen, and heard, and felt, just as he makes up his
dreams.  But who makes truth?  Who makes facts?  Who, but God?

Then truth is as much larger than fiction, as God is greater than man; as
much larger as the whole universe is larger than the little corner of it
that any man, even the greatest poet or philosopher, can see; and as much
grander, and as much more beautiful, and as much more strange.  For one
is the whole, and the other is one, a few tiny scraps of the whole.  The
one is the work of God; the other is the work of man.  Be sure that no
man can ever fancy anything strange, unexpected, and curious, without
finding if he had eyes to see, a hundred things around his feet more
strange, more unexpected, more curious, actually ready-made already by
God.  You are fond of fairy tales, because they are fanciful, and like
your dreams.  My dear child, as your eyes open to the true fairy tale
which Madam How can tell you all day long, nursery stories will seem to
you poor and dull.  All those feelings in you which your nursery tales
call out,--imagination, wonder, awe, pity, and I trust too, hope and
love--will be called out, I believe, by the Tale of all Tales, the true
"Marchen allen Marchen," so much more fully and strongly and purely, that
you will feel that novels and story-books are scarcely worth your
reading, as long as you can read the great green book, of which every bud
is a letter, and every tree a page.

Wonder if you will.  You cannot wonder too much.  That you might wonder
all your life long, God put you into this wondrous world, and gave you
that faculty of wonder which he has not given to the brutes; which is at
once the mother of sound science, and a pledge of immortality in a world
more wondrous even than this.  But wonder at the right thing, not at the
wrong; at the real miracles and prodigies, not at the sham.  Wonder not
at the world of man.  Waste not your admiration, interest, hope on it,
its pretty toys, gay fashions, fine clothes, tawdry luxuries, silly
amusements.  Wonder at the works of God.  You will not, perhaps, take my
advice yet.  The world of man looks so pretty, that you will needs have
your peep at it, and stare into its shop windows; and if you can, go to a
few of its stage plays, and dance at a few of its balls.  Ah--well--After
a wild dream comes an uneasy wakening; and after too many sweet things,
comes a sick headache.  And one morning you will awake, I trust and pray,
from the world of man to the world of God, and wonder where wonder is
due, and worship where worship is due.  You will awake like a child who
has been at a pantomime over night, staring at the "fairy halls," which
are all paint and canvas; and the "dazzling splendours," which are gas
and oil; and the "magic transformations," which are done with ropes and
pulleys; and the "brilliant elves," who are poor little children out of
the next foul alley; and the harlequin and clown, who through all their
fun are thinking wearily over the old debts which they must pay, and the
hungry mouths at home which they must feed: and so, having thought it all
wondrously glorious, and quite a fairy land, slips tired and stupid into
bed, and wakes next morning to see the pure light shining in through the
delicate frost-lace on the window-pane, and looks out over fields of
virgin snow, and watches the rosy dawn and cloudless blue, and the great
sun rising to the music of cawing rooks and piping stares, and says,
"This is the true wonder.  This is the true glory.  The theatre last
night was the fairy land of man; but this is the fairy land of God."


What do you want to know about next?  More about the caves in which the
old savages lived,--how they were made, and how the curious things inside
them got there, and so forth.

Well, we will talk about that in good time: but now--What is that coming
down the hill?

Oh, only some chalk-carts.

Only some chalk-carts?  It seems to me that these chalk-carts are the
very things we want; that if we follow them far enough--I do not mean
with our feet along the public road, but with our thoughts along a road
which, I am sorry to say, the public do not yet know much about--we shall
come to a cave, and understand how a cave is made.  Meanwhile, do not be
in a hurry to say, "Only a chalk-cart," or only a mouse, or only a dead
leaf.  Chalk-carts, like mice, and dead leaves, and most other matters in
the universe are very curious and odd things in the eyes of wise and
reasonable people.  Whenever I hear young men saying "only" this and
"only" that, I begin to suspect them of belonging, not to the noble army
of sages--much less to the most noble army of martyrs,--but to the
ignoble army of noodles, who think nothing interesting or important but
dinners, and balls, and races, and back-biting their neighbours; and I
should be sorry to see you enlisting in that regiment when you grow up.
But think--are not chalk-carts very odd and curious things?  I think they
are.  To my mind, it is a curious question how men ever thought of
inventing wheels; and, again, when they first thought of it.  It is a
curious question, too, how men ever found out that they could make horses
work for them, and so began to tame them, instead of eating them, and a
curious question (which I think we shall never get answered) when the
first horse-tamer lived, and in what country.  And a very curious, and,
to me, a beautiful sight it is, to see those two noble horses obeying
that little boy, whom they could kill with a single kick.

But, beside all this, there is a question, which ought to be a curious
one to you (for I suspect you cannot answer it)--Why does the farmer take
the trouble to send his cart and horses eight miles and more, to draw in
chalk from Odiham chalk-pit?

Oh, he is going to put it on the land, of course.  They are chalking the
bit at the top of the next field, where the copse was grubbed.

But what good will he do by putting chalk on it?  Chalk is not rich and
fertile, like manure, it is altogether poor, barren stuff: you know that,
or ought to know it.  Recollect the chalk cuttings and banks on the
railway between Basingstoke and Winchester--how utterly barren they are.
Though they have been open these thirty years, not a blade of grass,
hardly a bit of moss, has grown on them, or will grow, perhaps, for

Come, let us find out something about the chalk before we talk about the
caves.  The chalk is here, and the caves are not; and "Learn from the
thing that lies nearest you" is as good a rule as "Do the duty which lies
nearest you."  Let us come into the grubbed bit, and ask the farmer--there
he is in his gig.

Well, old friend, and how are you?  Here is a little boy who wants to
know why you are putting chalk on your field.

Does he then?  If he ever tries to farm round here, he will have to learn
for his first rule--No chalk, no wheat.

But why?

Why, is more than I can tell, young squire.  But if you want to see how
it comes about, look here at this freshly-grubbed land--how sour it is.
You can see that by the colour of it--some black, some red, some green,
some yellow, all full of sour iron, which will let nothing grow.  After
the chalk has been on it a year or two, those colours will have all gone
out of it; and it will turn to a nice wholesome brown, like the rest of
the field; and then you will know that the land is sweet, and fit for any
crop.  Now do you mind what I tell you, and then I'll tell you something
more.  We put on the chalk because, beside sweetening the land, it will
hold water.  You see, the land about here, though it is often very wet
from springs, is sandy and hungry; and when we drain the bottom water out
of it, the top water (that is, the rain) is apt to run through it too
fast: and then it dries and burns up; and we get no plant of wheat, nor
of turnips either.  So we put on chalk to hold water, and keep the ground

But how can these lumps of chalk hold water?  They are not made like

No: but they are made like sponges, which serves our turn better still.
Just take up that lump, young squire, and you'll see water enough in it,
or rather looking out of it, and staring you in the face.

Why! one side of the lump is all over thick ice.

So it is.  All that water was inside the chalk last night, till it froze.
And then it came squeezing out of the holes in the chalk in strings, as
you may see it if you break the ice across.  Now you may judge for
yourself how much water a load of chalk will hold, even on a dry summer's
day.  And now, if you'll excuse me, sir, I must be off to market.

Was it all true that the farmer said?

Quite true, I believe.  He is not a scientific man--that is, he does not
know the chemical causes of all these things; but his knowledge is sound
and useful, because it comes from long experience.  He and his
forefathers, perhaps for a thousand years and more, have been farming
this country, reading Madam How's books with very keen eyes,
experimenting and watching, very carefully and rationally; making
mistakes often, and failing and losing their crops and their money; but
learning from their mistakes, till their empiric knowledge, as it is
called, helps them to grow sometimes quite as good crops as if they had
learned agricultural chemistry.

What he meant by the chalk sweetening the land you would not understand
yet, and I can hardly tell you; for chemists are not yet agreed how it
happens.  But he was right; and right, too, what he told you about the
water inside the chalk, which is more important to us just now; for, if
we follow it out, we shall surely come to a cave at last.

So now for the water in the chalk.  You can see now why the chalk-downs
at Winchester are always green, even in the hottest summer: because Madam
How has put under them her great chalk sponge.  The winter rains soak
into it; and the summer heat draws that rain out of it again as invisible
steam, coming up from below, to keep the roots of the turf cool and moist
under the blazing sun.

You love that short turf well.  You love to run and race over the Downs
with your butterfly-net and hunt "chalk-hill blues," and "marbled
whites," and "spotted burnets," till you are hot and tired; and then to
sit down and look at the quiet little old city below, with the long
cathedral roof, and the tower of St. Cross, and the gray old walls and
buildings shrouded by noble trees, all embosomed among the soft rounded
lines of the chalk-hills; and then you begin to feel very thirsty, and
cry, "Oh, if there were but springs and brooks in the Downs, as there are
at home!"  But all the hollows are as dry as the hill tops.  There is not
a brook, or the mark of a watercourse, in one of them.  You are like the
Ancient Mariner in the poem, with

   "Water, water, every where,
   Nor any drop to drink."

To get that you must go down and down, hundreds of feet, to the green
meadows through which silver Itchen glides toward the sea.  There you
stand upon the bridge, and watch the trout in water so crystal-clear that
you see every weed and pebble as if you looked through air.  If ever
there was pure water, you think, that is pure.  Is it so?  Drink some.
Wash your hands in it and try--You feel that the water is rough, hard (as
they call it), quite different from the water at home, which feels as
soft as velvet.  What makes it so hard?

Because it is full of invisible chalk.  In every gallon of that water
there are, perhaps, fifteen grains of solid chalk, which was once inside
the heart of the hills above.  Day and night, year after year, the chalk
goes down to the sea; and if there were such creatures as
water-fairies--if it were true, as the old Greeks and Romans thought,
that rivers were living things, with a Nymph who dwelt in each of them,
and was its goddess or its queen--then, if your ears were opened to hear
her, the Nymph of Itchen might say to you--

So child, you think that I do nothing but, as your sister says when she
sings Mr. Tennyson's beautiful song,

   "I chatter over stony ways,
   In little sharps and trebles,
   I bubble into eddying bays,
   I babble on the pebbles."

Yes.  I do that: and I love, as the Nymphs loved of old, men who have
eyes to see my beauty, and ears to discern my song, and to fit their own
song to it, and tell how

   "'I wind about, and in and out,
   With here a blossom sailing,
   And here and there a lusty trout,
   And here and there a grayling,

   "'And here and there a foamy flake
   Upon me, as I travel
   With many a silvery waterbreak
   Above the golden gravel,

   "'And draw them all along, and flow
   To join the brimming river,
   For men may come and men may go,
   But I go on for ever.'"

Yes.  That is all true: but if that were all, I should not be let to flow
on for ever, in a world where Lady Why rules, and Madam How obeys.  I
only exist (like everything else, from the sun in heaven to the gnat
which dances in his beam) on condition of working, whether we wish it or
not, whether we know it or not.  I am not an idle stream, only fit to
chatter to those who bathe or fish in my waters, or even to give poets
beautiful fancies about me.  You little guess the work I do.  For I am
one of the daughters of Madam How, and, like her, work night and day, we
know not why, though Lady Why must know.  So day by day, and night by
night, while you are sleeping (for I never sleep), I carry, delicate and
soft as I am, a burden which giants could not bear: and yet I am never
tired.  Every drop of rain which the south-west wind brings from the West
Indian seas gives me fresh life and strength to bear my burden; and it
has need to do so; for every drop of rain lays a fresh burden on me.
Every root and weed which grows in every field; every dead leaf which
falls in the highwoods of many a parish, from the Grange and Woodmancote
round to Farleigh and Preston, and so to Brighton and the Alresford
downs;--ay, every atom of manure which the farmers put on the land--foul
enough then, but pure enough before it touches me--each of these, giving
off a tiny atom of what men call carbonic acid, melts a tiny grain of
chalk, and helps to send it down through the solid hill by one of the
million pores and veins which at once feed and burden my springs.  Ages
on ages I have worked on thus, carrying the chalk into the sea.  And ages
on ages, it may be, I shall work on yet; till I have done my work at
last, and levelled the high downs into a flat sea-shore, with beds of
flint gravel rattling in the shallow waves.

She might tell you that; and when she had told you, you would surely
think of the clumsy chalk-cart rumbling down the hill, and then of the
graceful stream, bearing silently its invisible load of chalk; and see
how much more delicate and beautiful, as well as vast and wonderful,
Madam How's work is than that of man.

But if you asked the nymph why she worked on for ever, she could not tell
you.  For like the Nymphs of old, and the Hamadryads who lived, in trees,
and Undine, and the little Sea-maiden, she would have no soul; no reason;
no power to say why.

It is for you, who are a reasonable being, to guess why: or at least
listen to me if I guess for you, and say, perhaps--I can only say
perhaps--that chalk may be going to make layers of rich marl in the sea
between England and France; and those marl-beds may be upheaved and grow
into dry land, and be ploughed, and sowed, and reaped by a wiser race of
men, in a better-ordered world than this: or the chalk may have even a
nobler destiny before it.  That may happen to it, which has happened
already to many a grain of lime.  It may be carried thousands of miles
away to help in building up a coral reef (what that is I must tell you
afterwards).  That coral reef may harden into limestone beds.  Those beds
may be covered up, pressed, and, it may be, heated, till they crystallise
into white marble: and out of it fairer statues be carved, and grander
temples built, than the world has ever yet seen.

And if that is not the reason why the chalk is being sent into the sea,
then there is another reason, and probably a far better one.  For, as I
told you at first, Lady Why's intentions are far wiser and better than
our fancies; and she--like Him whom she obeys--is able to do exceeding
abundantly, beyond all that we can ask or think.

But you will say now that we have followed the chalk-cart a long way,
without coming to the cave.

You are wrong.  We have come to the very mouth of the cave.  All we have
to do is to say--not "Open Sesame," like Ali Baba in the tale of the
Forty Thieves--but some word or two which Madam Why will teach us, and
forthwith a hill will open, and we shall walk in, and behold rivers and
cascades underground, stalactite pillars and stalagmite statues, and all
the wonders of the grottoes of Adelsberg, Antiparos, or Kentucky.

Am I joking?  Yes, and yet no; for you know that when I joke I am usually
most in earnest.  At least, I am now.

But there are no caves in chalk?

No, not that I ever heard of.  There are, though, in limestone, which is
only a harder kind of chalk.  Madam How could turn this chalk into hard
limestone, I believe, even now; and in more ways than one: but in ways
which would not be very comfortable or profitable for us Southern folk
who live on it.  I am afraid that--what between squeezing and heating--she
would flatten us all out into phosphatic fossils, about an inch thick;
and turn Winchester city into a "breccia" which would puzzle geologists a
hundred thousand years hence.  So we will hope that she will leave our
chalk downs for the Itchen to wash gently away, while we talk about
caves, and how Madam How scoops them out by water underground, just in
the same way, only more roughly, as she melts the chalk.

Suppose, then, that these hills, instead of being soft, spongy chalk,
were all hard limestone marble, like that of which the font in the church
is made.  Then the rainwater, instead of sinking through the chalk as
now, would run over the ground down-hill, and if it came to a crack (a
fault, as it is called) it would run down between the rock; and as it ran
it would eat that hole wider and wider year by year, and make a swallow-
hole--such as you may see in plenty if you ever go up Whernside, or any
of the high hills in Yorkshire--unfathomable pits in the green turf, in
which you may hear the water tinkling and trickling far, far underground.

And now, before we go a step farther, you may understand, why the bones
of animals are so often found in limestone caves.  Down such
swallow-holes how many beasts must fall: either in hurry and fright, when
hunted by lions and bears and such cruel beasts; or more often still in
time of snow, when the holes are covered with drift; or, again, if they
died on the open hill-sides, their bones might be washed in, in floods,
along with mud and stones, and buried with them in the cave below; and
beside that, lions and bears and hyaenas might live in the caves below,
as we know they did in some caves, and drag in bones through the caves'
mouths; or, again, savages might live in that cave, and bring in animals
to eat, like the wild beasts; and so those bones might be mixed up, as we
know they were, with things which the savages had left behind--like flint
tools or beads; and then the whole would be hardened, by the dripping of
the limestone water, into a paste of breccia just like this in my drawer.
But the bones of the savages themselves you would seldom or never find
mixed in it--unless some one had fallen in by accident from above.  And
why?  (For there is a Why? to that question: and not merely a How?)
Simply because they were men; and because God has put into the hearts of
all men, even of the lowest savages, some sort of reverence for those who
are gone; and has taught them to bury, or in some other way take care of,
their bones.

But how is the swallow-hole sure to end in a cave?

Because it cannot help making a cave for itself if it has time.

Think: and you will see that it must be so.  For that water must run
somewhere; and so it eats its way out between the beds of the rock,
making underground galleries, and at last caves and lofty halls.  For it
always eats, remember, at the bottom of its channel, leaving the roof
alone.  So it eats, and eats, more in some places and less in others,
according as the stone is harder or softer, and according to the
different direction of the rock-beds (what we call their dip and strike);
till at last it makes one of those wonderful caverns about which you are
so fond of reading--such a cave as there actually is in the rocks of the
mountain of Whernside, fed by the swallow-holes around the mountain-top;
a cave hundreds of yards long, with halls, and lakes, and waterfalls, and
curtains and festoons of stalactite which have dripped from the roof, and
pillars of stalagmite which have been built up on the floor below.  These
stalactites (those tell me who have seen them) are among the most
beautiful of all Madam How's work; sometimes like branches of roses or of
grapes; sometimes like statues; sometimes like delicate curtains, and I
know not what other beautiful shapes.  I have never seen them, I am sorry
to say, and therefore I cannot describe them.  But they are all made in
the same way; just in the same way as those little straight stalactites
which you may have seen hanging, like icicles, in vaulted cellars, or
under the arches of a bridge.  The water melts more lime than it can
carry, and drops some of it again, making fresh limestone grain by grain
as it drips from the roof above; and fresh limestone again where it
splashes on the floor below: till if it dripped long enough, the
stalactite hanging from above would meet the stalagmite rising from
below, and join in one straight round white graceful shaft, which would
seem (but only seem) to support the roof of the cave.  And out of that
cave--though not always out of the mouth of it--will run a stream of
water, which seems to you clear as crystal, though it is actually, like
the Itchen at Winchester, full of lime; so full of lime, that it makes
beds of fresh limestone, which are called travertine--which you may see
in Italy, and Greece, and Asia Minor: or perhaps it petrifies, as you
call it, the weeds in its bed, like that dropping-well at Knaresborough,
of which you have often seen a picture.  And the cause is this: the water
is so full of lime, that it is forced to throw away some of it upon
everything it touches, and so incrusts with stone--though it does not
turn to stone--almost anything you put in it.  You have seen, or ought to
have seen, petrified moss and birds' nests and such things from
Knaresborough Well: and now you know a little, though only a very little,
of how the pretty toys are made.

Now if you can imagine for yourself (though I suppose a little boy
cannot) the amount of lime which one of these subterranean rivers would
carry away, gnawing underground centuries after centuries, day and night,
summer and winter, then you will not be surprised at the enormous size of
caverns which may be seen in different parts of the world--but always, I
believe, in limestone rock.  You would not be surprised (though you would
admire them) at the caverns of Adelsberg, in Carniola (in the south of
Austria, near the top of the Adriatic), which runs, I believe, for miles
in length; and in the lakes of which, in darkness from its birth until
its death, lives that strange beast, the Proteus a sort of long newt
which never comes to perfection--I suppose for want of the genial
sunlight which makes all things grow.  But he is blind; and more, he
keeps all his life the same feathery gills which newts have when they are
babies, and which we have so often looked at through the microscope, to
see the blood-globules run round and round inside.  You would not wonder,
either, at the Czirknitz Lake, near the same place, which at certain
times of the year vanishes suddenly through chasms under water, sucking
the fish down with it; and after a certain time boils suddenly up again
from the depths, bringing back with it the fish, who have been swimming
comfortably all the time in a subterranean lake; and bringing back, too
(and, extraordinary as this story is, there is good reason to believe it
true), live wild ducks who went down small and unfledged, and come back
full-grown and fat, with water-weeds and small fish in their stomachs,
showing they have had plenty to feed on underground.  But--and this is
the strangest part of the story, if true--they come up unfledged just as
they went down, and are moreover blind from having been so long in
darkness.  After a while, however, folks say their eyes get right, their
feathers grow, and they fly away like other birds.

Neither would you be surprised (if you recollect that Madam How is a very
old lady indeed, and that some of her work is very old likewise) at that
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, the largest cave in the known world, through
which you may walk nearly ten miles on end, and in which a hundred miles
of gallery have been explored already, and yet no end found to the cave.
In it (the guides will tell you) there are "226 avenues, 47 domes, 8
cataracts, 23 pits, and several rivers;" and if that fact is not very
interesting to you (as it certainly is not to me) I will tell you
something which ought to interest you: that this cave is so immensely old
that various kinds of little animals, who have settled themselves in the
outer parts of it, have had time to change their shape, and to become
quite blind; so that blind fathers and mothers have blind children,
generation after generation.

There are blind rats there, with large shining eyes which cannot
see--blind landcrabs, who have the foot-stalks of their eyes (you may see
them in any crab) still left; but the eyes which should be on the top of
them are gone.  There are blind fish, too, in the cave, and blind
insects; for, if they have no use for their eyes in the dark, why should
Madam How take the trouble to finish them off?

One more cave I must tell you of, to show you how old some caves must be,
and then I must stop; and that is the cave of Caripe, in Venezuela, which
is the most northerly part of South America.  There, in the face of a
limestone cliff, crested with enormous flowering trees, and festooned
with those lovely creepers of which you have seen a few small ones in
hothouses, there opens an arch as big as the west front of Winchester
Cathedral, and runs straight in like a cathedral nave for more than 1400
feet.  Out of it runs a stream; and along the banks of that stream, as
far as the sunlight strikes in, grow wild bananas, and palms, and lords
and ladies (as you call them), which are not, like ours, one foot, but
many feet high.  Beyond that the cave goes on, with subterranean streams,
cascades, and halls, no man yet knows how far.  A friend of mine last
year went in farther, I believe, than any one yet has gone; but, instead
of taking Indian torches made of bark and resin, or even torches made of
Spanish wax, such as a brave bishop of those parts used once when he went
in farther than any one before him, he took with him some of that
beautiful magnesium light which you have seen often here at home.  And in
one place, when he lighted up the magnesium, he found himself in a hall
full 300 feet high--higher far, that is, than the dome of St. Paul's--and
a very solemn thought it was to him, he said, that he had seen what no
other human being ever had seen; and that no ray of light had ever struck
on that stupendous roof in all the ages since the making of the world.
But if he found out something which he did not expect, he was
disappointed in something which he did expect.  For the Indians warned
him of a hole in the floor which (they told him) was an unfathomable
abyss.  And lo and behold, when he turned the magnesium light upon it,
the said abyss was just about eight feet deep.  But it is no wonder that
the poor Indians with their little smoky torches should make such
mistakes; no wonder, too, that they should be afraid to enter far into
those gloomy vaults; that they should believe that the souls of their
ancestors live in that dark cave; and that they should say that when they
die they will go to the Guacharos, as they call the birds that fly with
doleful screams out of the cave to feed at night, and in again at
daylight, to roost and sleep.

Now, it is these very Guacharo birds which are to me the most wonderful
part of the story.  The Indians kill and eat them for their fat, although
they believe they have to do with evil spirits.  But scientific men who
have studied these birds will tell you that they are more wonderful than
if all the Indians' fancies about them were true.  They are great birds,
more than three feet across the wings, somewhat like owls, somewhat like
cuckoos, somewhat like goatsuckers; but, on the whole, unlike anything in
the world but themselves; and instead of feeding on moths or mice, they
feed upon hard dry fruits, which they pick off the trees after the set of
sun.  And wise men will tell you, that in making such a bird as that, and
giving it that peculiar way of life, and settling it in that cavern, and
a few more caverns in that part of the world, and therefore in making the
caverns ready for them to live in, Madam How must have taken ages and
ages, more than you can imagine or count.

But that is among the harder lessons which come in the latter part of
Madam How's book.  Children need not learn them yet; and they can never
learn them, unless they master her alphabet, and her short and easy
lessons for beginners, some of which I am trying to teach you now.

But I have just recollected that we are a couple of very stupid fellows.
We have been talking all this time about chalk and limestone, and have
forgotten to settle what they are, and how they were made.  We must think
of that next time.  It will not do for us (at least if we mean to be
scientific men) to use terms without defining them; in plain English, to
talk about--we don't know what.


You want to know, then, what chalk is?  I suppose you mean what chalk is
made of?

Yes.  That is it.

That we can only help by calling in the help of a very great giant whose
name is Analysis.

A giant?

Yes.  And before we call for him I will tell you a very curious story
about him and his younger brother, which is every word of it true.

Once upon a time, certainly as long ago as the first man, or perhaps the
first rational being of any kind, was created, Madam How had two
grandsons.  The elder is called Analysis, and the younger Synthesis.  As
for who their father and mother were, there have been so many disputes on
that question that I think children may leave it alone for the present.
For my part, I believe that they are both, like St. Patrick, "gentlemen,
and come of decent people;" and I have a great respect and affection for
them both, as long as each keeps in his own place and minds his own

Now you must understand that, as soon as these two baby giants were born,
Lady Why, who sets everything to do that work for which it is exactly
fitted, set both of them their work.  Analysis was to take to pieces
everything he found, and find out how it was made.  Synthesis was to put
the pieces together again, and make something fresh out of them.  In a
word, Analysis was to teach men Science; and Synthesis to teach them Art.

But because Analysis was the elder, Madam How commanded Synthesis never
to put the pieces together till Analysis had taken them completely apart.
And, my child, if Synthesis had obeyed that rule of his good old
grandmother's, the world would have been far happier, wealthier, wiser,
and better than it is now.

But Synthesis would not.  He grew up a very noble boy.  He could carve,
he could paint, he could build, he could make music, and write poems: but
he was full of conceit and haste.  Whenever his elder brother tried to do
a little patient work in taking things to pieces, Synthesis snatched the
work out of his hands before it was a quarter done, and began putting it
together again to suit his own fancy, and, of course, put it together
wrong.  Then he went on to bully his elder brother, and locked him up in
prison, and starved him, till for many hundred years poor Analysis never
grew at all, but remained dwarfed, and stupid, and all but blind for want
of light; while Synthesis, and all the hasty conceited people who
followed him, grew stout and strong and tyrannous, and overspread the
whole world, and ruled it at their will.  But the fault of all the work
of Synthesis was just this: that it would not work.  His watches would
not keep time, his soldiers would not fight, his ships would not sail,
his houses would not keep the rain out.  So every time he failed in his
work he had to go to poor Analysis in his dungeon, and bully him into
taking a thing or two to pieces, and giving him a few sound facts out of
them, just to go on with till he came to grief again, boasting in the
meantime that he and not Analysis had found out the facts.  And at last
he grew so conceited that he fancied he knew all that Madam How could
teach him, or Lady Why either, and that he understood all things in
heaven and earth; while it was not the real heaven and earth that he was
thinking of, but a sham heaven and a sham earth, which he had built up
out of his guesses and his own fancies.

And the more Synthesis waxed in pride, and the more he trampled upon his
poor brother, the more reckless he grew, and the more willing to deceive
himself.  If his real flowers would not grow, he cut out paper flowers,
and painted them and said that they would do just as well as natural
ones.  If his dolls would not work, he put strings and wires behind them
to make them nod their heads and open their eyes, and then persuaded
other people, and perhaps half-persuaded himself, that they were alive.
If the hand of his weather-glass went down, he nailed it up to insure a
fine day, and tortured, burnt, or murdered every one who said it did not
keep up of itself.  And many other foolish and wicked things he did,
which little boys need not hear of yet.

But at last his punishment came, according to the laws of his
grandmother, Madam How, which are like the laws of the Medes and
Persians, and alter not, as you and all mankind will sooner or later
find; for he grew so rich and powerful that he grew careless and lazy,
and thought about nothing but eating and drinking, till people began to
despise him more and more.  And one day he left the dungeon of Analysis
so ill guarded, that Analysis got out and ran away.  Great was the hue
and cry after him; and terribly would he have been punished had he been
caught.  But, lo and behold, folks had grown so disgusted with Synthesis
that they began to take the part of Analysis.  Poor men hid him in their
cottages, and scholars in their studies.  And when war arose about
him,--and terrible wars did arise,--good kings, wise statesmen, gallant
soldiers, spent their treasure and their lives in fighting for him.  All
honest folk welcomed him, because he was honest; and all wise folk used
him, for, instead of being a conceited tyrant like Synthesis, he showed
himself the most faithful, diligent, humble of servants, ready to do
every man's work, and answer every man's questions.  And among them all
he got so well fed that he grew very shortly into the giant that he ought
to have been all along; and was, and will be for many a year to come,
perfectly able to take care of himself.

As for poor Synthesis, he really has fallen so low in these days, that
one cannot but pity him.  He now goes about humbly after his brother,
feeding on any scraps that are thrown to him, and is snubbed and rapped
over the knuckles, and told one minute to hold his tongue and mind his
own business, and the next that he has no business at all to mind, till
he has got into such a poor way that some folks fancy he will die, and
are actually digging his grave already, and composing his epitaph.  But
they are trying to wear the bear's skin before the bear is killed; for
Synthesis is not dead, nor anything like it; and he will rise up again
some day, to make good friends with his brother Analysis, and by his help
do nobler and more beautiful work than he has ever yet done in the world.

So now Analysis has got the upper hand; so much so that he is in danger
of being spoilt by too much prosperity, as his brother was before him; in
which case he too will have his fall; and a great deal of good it will do
him.  And that is the end of my story, and a true story it is.

Now you must remember, whenever you have to do with him, that Analysis,
like fire, is a very good servant, but a very bad master.  For, having
got his freedom only of late years or so, he is, like young men when they
come suddenly to be their own masters, apt to be conceited, and to fancy
that he knows everything, when really he knows nothing, and can never
know anything, but only knows about things, which is a very different
matter.  Indeed, nowadays he pretends that he can teach his old
grandmother, Madam How, not only how to suck eggs, but to make eggs into
the bargain; while the good old lady just laughs at him kindly, and lets
him run on, because she knows he will grow wiser in time, and learn
humility by his mistakes and failures, as I hope you will from yours.

However, Analysis is a very clever young giant, and can do wonderful work
as long as he meddles only with dead things, like this bit of lime.  He
can take it to pieces, and tell you of what things it is made, or seems
to be made; and take them to pieces again, and tell you what each of them
is made of; and so on, till he gets conceited, and fancies that he can
find out some one Thing of all things (which he calls matter), of which
all other things are made; and some Way of all ways (which he calls
force), by which all things are made: but when he boasts in that way, old
Madam How smiles, and says, "My child, before you can say that, you must
remember a hundred things which you are forgetting, and learn a hundred
thousand things which you do not know;" and then she just puts her hand
over his eyes, and Master Analysis begins groping in the dark, and
talking the saddest nonsense.  So beware of him, and keep him in his own
place, and to his own work, or he will flatter you, and get the mastery
of you, and persuade you that he can teach you a thousand things of which
he knows no more than he does why a duck's egg never hatches into a
chicken.  And remember, if Master Analysis ever grows saucy and conceited
with you, just ask him that last riddle, and you will shut him up at

And why?

Because Analysis can only explain to you a little about dead things, like
stones--inorganic things as they are called.  Living things--organisms,
as they are called--he cannot explain to you at all.  When he meddles
with them, he always ends like the man who killed his goose to get the
golden eggs.  He has to kill his goose, or his flower, or his insect,
before he can analyse it; and then it is not a goose, but only the corpse
of a goose; not a flower, but only the dead stuff of the flower.

And therefore he will never do anything but fail, when he tries to find
out the life in things.  How can he, when he has to take the life out of
them first?  He could not even find out how a plum-pudding is made by
merely analysing it.  He might part the sugar, and the flour, and the
suet; he might even (for he is very clever, and very patient too, the
more honour to him) take every atom of sugar out of the flour with which
it had got mixed, and every atom of brown colour which had got out of the
plums and currants into the body of the pudding, and then, for aught I
know, put the colouring matter back again into the plums and currants;
and then, for aught I know, turn the boiled pudding into a raw one
again,--for he is a great conjurer, as Madam How's grandson is bound to
be: but yet he would never find out how the pudding was made, unless some
one told him the great secret which the sailors in the old story
forgot--that the cook boiled it in a cloth.

This is Analysis's weak point--don't let it be yours--that in all his
calculations he is apt to forget the cloth, and indeed the cook likewise.
No doubt he can analyse the matter of things: but he will keep forgetting
that he cannot analyse their form.

Do I mean their shape?

No, my child; no.  I mean something which makes the shape of things, and
the matter of them likewise, but which folks have lost sight of nowadays,
and do not seem likely to get sight of again for a few hundred years.  So
I suppose that you need not trouble your head about it, but may just
follow the fashions as long as they last.

About this piece of lime, however, Analysis can tell us a great deal.  And
we may trust what he says, and believe that he understands what he says.


Think now.  If you took your watch to pieces, you would probably spoil it
for ever; you would have perhaps broken, and certainly mislaid, some of
the bits; and not even a watchmaker could put it together again.  You
would have analysed the watch wrongly.  But if a watchmaker took it to
pieces then any other watchmaker could put it together again to go as
well as ever, because they both understand the works, how they fit into
each other, and what the use and the power of each is.  Its being put
together again rightly would be a proof that it had been taken to pieces

And so with Master Analysis.  If he can take a thing to pieces so that
his brother Synthesis can put it together again, you may be sure that he
has done his work rightly.

Now he can take a bit of chalk to pieces, so that it shall become several
different things, none of which is chalk, or like chalk at all.  And then
his brother Synthesis can put them together again, so that they shall
become chalk, as they were before.  He can do that very nearly, but not
quite.  There is, in every average piece of chalk, something which he
cannot make into chalk again when he has once unmade it.

What that is I will show you presently; and a wonderful tale hangs
thereby.  But first we will let Analysis tell us what chalk is made of,
as far as he knows.

He will say--Chalk is carbonate of lime.

But what is carbonate of lime made of?

Lime and carbonic acid.

And what is lime?

The oxide of a certain metal, called calcium.

What do you mean?

That quicklime is a certain metal mixed with oxygen gas; and slacked lime
is the same, mixed with water.

So lime is a metal.  What is a metal?  Nobody knows.

And what is oxygen gas?  Nobody knows.

Well, Analysis, stops short very soon.  He does not seem to know much
about the matter.

Nay, nay, you are wrong there.  It is just "about the matter" that he
does know, and knows a great deal, and very accurately; what he does not
know is the matter itself.  He will tell you wonderful things about
oxygen gas--how the air is full of it, the water full of it, every living
thing full of it; how it changes hard bright steel into soft, foul rust;
how a candle cannot burn without it, or you live without it.  But what it
is he knows not.

Will he ever know?

That is Lady Why's concern, and not ours.  Meanwhile he has a right to
find out if he can.  But what do you want to ask him next?

What?  Oh!  What carbonic acid is.  He can tell you that.  Carbon and
oxygen gas.

But what is carbon?

Nobody knows.

Why, here is this stupid Analysis at fault again.

Nay, nay, again.  Be patient with him.  If he cannot tell you what carbon
is, he can tell you what is carbon, which is well worth knowing.  He will
tell you, for instance, that every time you breathe or speak, what comes
out of your mouth is carbonic acid; and that, if your breath comes on a
bit of slacked lime, it will begin to turn it back into the chalk from
which it was made; and that, if your breath comes on the leaves of a
growing plant, that leaf will take the carbon out of it, and turn it into
wood.  And surely that is worth knowing,--that you may be helping to make
chalk, or to make wood, every time you breathe.

Well; that is very curious.

But now, ask him, What is carbon?  And he will tell you, that many things
are carbon.  A diamond is carbon; and so is blacklead; and so is charcoal
and coke, and coal in part, and wood in part.

What?  Does Analysis say that a diamond and charcoal are the same thing?


Then his way of taking things to pieces must be a very clumsy one, if he
can find out no difference between diamond and charcoal.

Well, perhaps it is: but you must remember that, though he is very old--as
old as the first man who ever lived--he has only been at school for the
last three hundred years or so.  And remember, too, that he is not like
you, who have some one else to teach you.  He has had to teach himself,
and find out for himself, and make his own tools, and work in the dark
besides.  And I think it is very much to his credit that he ever found
out that diamond and charcoal were the same things.  You would never have
found it out for yourself, you will agree.

No: but how did he do it?

He taught a very famous chemist, Lavoisier, about ninety years ago, how
to burn a diamond in oxygen--and a very difficult trick that is; and
Lavoisier found that the diamond when burnt turned almost entirely into
carbonic acid and water, as blacklead and charcoal do; and more, that
each of them turned into the same quantity of carbonic acid, And so he
knew, as surely as man can know anything, that all these things, however
different to our eyes and fingers, are really made of the same
thing,--pure carbon.

But what makes them look and feel so different?

That Analysis does not know yet.  Perhaps he will find out some day; for
he is very patient, and very diligent, as you ought to be.  Meanwhile, be
content with him: remember that though he cannot see through a milestone
yet, he can see farther into one than his neighbours.  Indeed his
neighbours cannot see into a milestone at all, but only see the outside
of it, and know things only by rote, like parrots, without understanding
what they mean and how they are made.

So now remember that chalk is carbonate of lime, and that it is made up
of three things, calcium, oxygen, and carbon; and that therefore its mark
is CaCO(3), in Analysis's language, which I hope you will be able to read
some day.

But how is it that Analysis and Synthesis cannot take all this chalk to
pieces, and put it together again?

Look here; what is that in the chalk?

Oh! a shepherd's crown, such as we often find in the gravel, only fresh
and white.

Well; you know what that was once.  I have often told you:--a live sea-
egg, covered with prickles, which crawls at the bottom of the sea.

Well, I am sure that Master Synthesis could not put that together again:
and equally sure that Master Analysis might spend ages in taking it to
pieces, before he found out how it was made.  And--we are lucky to-day,
for this lower chalk to the south has very few fossils in it--here is
something else which is not mere carbonate of lime.  Look at it.

A little cockle, something like a wrinkled hazel-nut.

No; that is no cockle.  Madam How invented that ages and ages before she
thought of cockles, and the animal which lived inside that shell was as
different from a cockle-animal as a sparrow is from a dog.  That is a
Terebratula, a gentleman of a very ancient and worn-out family.  He and
his kin swarmed in the old seas, even as far back as the time when the
rocks of the Welsh mountains were soft mud; as you will know when you
read that great book of Sir Roderick Murchison's, _Siluria_.  But as the
ages rolled on, they got fewer and fewer, these Terebratulae; and now
there are hardly any of them left; only six or seven sorts are left about
these islands, which cling to stones in deep water; and the first time I
dredged two of them out of Loch Fyne, I looked at them with awe, as on
relics from another world, which had lasted on through unnumbered ages
and changes, such as one's fancy could not grasp.

But you will agree that, if Master Analysis took that shell to pieces,
Master Synthesis would not be likely to put it together again; much less
to put it together in the right way, in which Madam How made it.

And what was that?

By making a living animal, which went on growing, that is, making itself;
and making, as it grew, its shell to live in.  Synthesis has not found
out yet the first step towards doing that; and, as I believe, he never

But there would be no harm in his trying?

Of course not.  Let everybody try to do everything they fancy.  Even if
they fail, they will have learnt at least that they cannot do it.

But now--and this is a secret which you would never find out for
yourself, at least without the help of a microscope--the greater part of
this lump of chalk is made up of things which neither Analysis can
perfectly take to pieces, nor Synthesis put together again.  It is made
of dead organisms, that is, things which have been made by living
creatures.  If you washed and brushed that chalk into powder, you would
find it full of little things like the Dentalina in this drawing, and
many other curious forms.  I will show you some under the microscope one

They are the shells of animals called Foraminifera, because the shells of
some of them are full of holes, through which they put out tiny arms.  So
small they are and so many, that there may be, it is said, forty thousand
of them in a bit of chalk an inch every way.  In numbers past counting,
some whole, some broken, some ground to the finest powder, they make up
vast masses of England, which are now chalk downs; and in some foreign
countries they make up whole mountains.  Part of the building stone of
the Great Pyramid in Egypt is composed, I am told, entirely of them.

And how did they get into the chalk?

Ah!  How indeed?  Let us think.  The chalk must have been laid down at
the bottom of a sea, because there are sea-shells in it.  Besides, we
find little atomies exactly like these alive now in many seas; and
therefore it is fair to suppose these lived in the sea also.

Besides, they were not washed into the chalk by any sudden flood.  The
water in which they settled must have been quite still, or these little
delicate creatures would have been ground into powder--or rather into
paste.  Therefore learned men soon made up their minds that these things
were laid down at the bottom of a deep sea, so deep that neither wind,
nor tide, nor currents could stir the everlasting calm.

Ah! it is worth thinking over, for it shows how shrewd a giant Analysis
is, and how fast he works in these days, now that he has got free and
well fed;--worth thinking over, I say, how our notions about these little
atomies have changed during the last forty years.

We used to find them sometimes washed up among the sea-sand on the wild
Atlantic coast; and we were taught, in the days when old Dr. Turton was
writing his book on British shells at Bideford, to call them Nautili,
because their shells were like Nautilus shells.  Men did not know then
that the animal which lives in them is no more like a Nautilus animal
than it is like a cow.

For a Nautilus, you must know, is made like a cuttlefish, with eyes, and
strong jaws for biting, and arms round them; and has a heart, and gills,
and a stomach; and is altogether a very well-made beast, and, I suspect,
a terrible tyrant to little fish and sea-slugs, just as the cuttlefish
is.  But the creatures which live in these little shells are about the
least finished of Madam How's works.  They have neither mouth nor
stomach, eyes nor limbs.  They are mere live bags full of jelly, which
can take almost any shape they like, and thrust out arms--or what serve
for arms--through the holes in their shells, and then contract them into
themselves again, as this Globigerina does.  What they feed on, how they
grow, how they make their exquisitely-formed shells, whether, indeed,
they are, strictly speaking, animals or vegetables, Analysis has not yet
found out.  But when you come to read about them, you will find that
they, in their own way, are just as wonderful and mysterious as a
butterfly or a rose; and just as necessary, likewise, to Madam How's
work; for out of them, as I told you, she makes whole sheets of down,
whole ranges of hills.

No one knew anything, I believe, about them, save that two or three kinds
of them were found in chalk, till a famous Frenchman, called D'Orbigny,
just thirty years ago, told the world how he had found many beautiful
fresh kinds; and, more strange still, that some of these kinds were still
alive at the bottom of the Adriatic, and of the harbour of Alexandria, in

Then in 1841 a gentleman named Edward Forbes,--now with God--whose name
will be for ever dear to all who love science, and honour genius and
virtue,--found in the AEgean Sea "a bed of chalk," he said, "full of
Foraminifera, and shells of Pteropods," forming at the bottom of the sea.

And what are Pteropods?

What you might call sea-moths (though they are not really moths), which
swim about on the surface of the water, while the right-whales suck them
in tens of thousands into the great whalebone net which fringes their
jaws.  Here are drawings of them.  1. Limacina (on which the whales
feed); and 2. Hyalea, a lovely little thing in a glass shell, which lives
in the Mediterranean.

But since then strange discoveries have been made, especially by the
naval officers who surveyed the bottom of the great Atlantic Ocean before
laying down the electric cable between Ireland and America.  And this is
what they found:

That at the bottom of the Atlantic were vast plains of soft mud, in some
places 2500 fathoms (15,000 feet) deep; that is, as deep as the Alps are
high.  And more: they found out, to their surprise, that the oozy mud of
the Atlantic floor was made up almost entirely of just the same atomies
as make up our chalk, especially globigerinas; that, in fact, a vast bed
of chalk was now forming at the bottom of the Atlantic, with living
shells and sea-animals of the most brilliant colours crawling about on it
in black darkness, and beds of sponges growing out of it, just as the
sponges grew at the bottom of the old chalk ocean, and were all,
generation after generation, turned into flints.

And, for reasons which you will hardly understand, men are beginning now
to believe that the chalk has never ceased to be made, somewhere or
other, for many thousand years, ever since the Winchester Downs were at
the bottom of the sea: and that "the Globigerina-mud is not merely _a_
chalk formation, but a continuation of _the_ chalk formation, so _that we
may be said to be still living in the age of Chalk_." {1}  Ah, my little
man, what would I not give to see you, before I die, add one such thought
as that to the sum of human knowledge!

So there the little creatures have been lying, making chalk out of the
lime in the sea-water, layer over layer, the young over the old, the dead
over the living, year after year, age after age--for how long?

Who can tell?  How deep the layer of new chalk at the bottom of the
Atlantic is, we can never know.  But the layer of live atomies on it is
not an inch thick, probably not a tenth of an inch.  And if it grew a
tenth of an inch a year, or even a whole inch, how many years must it
have taken to make the chalk of our downs, which is in some parts 1300
feet thick?  How many inches are there in 1300 feet?  Do that sum, and
judge for yourself.

One difference will be found between the chalk now forming at the bottom
of the ocean, if it ever become dry land, and the chalk on which you
tread on the downs.  The new chalk will be full of the teeth and bones of
whales--warm-blooded creatures, who suckle their young like cows, instead
of laying eggs, like birds and fish.  For there were no whales in the old
chalk ocean; but our modern oceans are full of cachalots, porpoises,
dolphins, swimming in shoals round any ship; and their bones and teeth,
and still more their ear-bones, will drop to the bottom as they die, and
be found, ages hence, in the mud which the live atomies make, along with
wrecks of mighty ships

   "Great anchors, heaps of pearl,"

and all that man has lost in the deep seas.  And sadder fossils yet, my
child, will be scattered on those white plains:--

   "To them the love of woman hath gone down,
   Dark roll their waves o'er manhood's noble head.
   O'er youth's bright locks, and beauty's flowing crown;
   Yet shall they hear a voice, 'Restore the dead.'
   Earth shall reclaim her precious things from thee.
   Give back the dead, thou Sea!"


Now you want to know what I meant when I talked of a bit of lime going
out to sea, and forming part of a coral island, and then of a limestone
rock, and then of a marble statue.  Very good.  Then look at this stone.

What a curious stone!  Did it come from any place near here?

No.  It came from near Dudley, in Staffordshire, where the soils are
worlds on worlds older than they are here, though they were made in the
same way as these and all other soils.  But you are not listening to me.

Why, the stone is full of shells, and bits of coral; and what are these
wonderful things coiled and tangled together, like the snakes in Medusa's
hair in the picture?  Are they snakes?

If they are, then they must be snakes who have all one head; for see,
they are joined together at their larger ends; and snakes which are
branched, too, which no snake ever was.

Yes.  I suppose they are not snakes.  And they grow out of a flower, too;
and it has a stalk, jointed, too, as plants sometimes are; and as fishes'
backbones are too.  Is it a petrified plant or flower?

No; though I do not deny that it looks like one.  The creature most akin
to it which you ever saw is a star-fish.

What! one of the red star-fishes which one finds on the beach?  Its arms
are not branched.

No.  But there are star-fishes with branched arms still in the sea.  You
know that pretty book (and learned book, too), Forbes's _British Star-
fishes_?  You like to look it through for the sake of the vignettes,--the
mermaid and her child playing in the sea.

Oh yes, and the kind bogie who is piping while the sandstars dance; and
the other who is trying to pull out the star-fish which the oyster has

Yes.  But do you recollect the drawing of the Medusa's head, with its
curling arms, branched again and again without end?  Here it is.  No, you
shall not look at the vignettes now.  We must mind business.  Now look at
this one; the Feather-star, with arms almost like fern-fronds.  And in
foreign seas there are many other branched star-fish beside.

But they have no stalks?

Do not be too sure of that.  This very feather-star, soon after it is
born, grows a tiny stalk, by which it holds on to corallines and
sea-weeds; and it is not till afterwards that it breaks loose from that
stalk, and swims away freely into the wide water.  And in foreign seas
there are several star-fish still who grow on stalks all their lives, as
this fossil one did.

How strange that a live animal should grow on a stalk, like a flower!

Not quite like a flower.  A flower has roots, by which it feeds in the
soil.  These things grow more like sea-weeds, which have no roots, but
only hold on to the rock by the foot of the stalk, as a ship holds on by
her anchor.  But as for its being strange that live animals should grow
on stalks, if it be strange it is common enough, like many far stranger
things.  For under the water are millions on millions of creatures,
spreading for miles on miles, building up at last great reefs of rocks,
and whole islands, which all grow rooted first to the rock, like
sea-weeds; and what is more, they grow, most of them, from one common
root, branching again and again, and every branchlet bearing hundreds of
living creatures, so that the whole creation is at once one creature and
many creatures.  Do you not understand me?


Then fancy to yourself a bush like that hawthorn bush, with numberless
blossoms, and every blossom on that bush a separate living thing, with
its own mouth, and arms, and stomach, budding and growing fresh live
branches and fresh live flowers, as fast as the old ones die: and then
you will see better what I mean.

How wonderful!

Yes; but not more wonderful than your finger, for it, too, is made up of
numberless living things.

My finger made of living things?

What else can it be?  When you cut your finger, does not the place heal?

Of course.

And what is healing but growing again?  And how could the atoms of your
fingers grow, and make fresh skin, if they were not each of them alive?
There, I will not puzzle you with too much at once; you will know more
about all that some day.  Only remember now, that there is nothing
wonderful in the world outside you but has its counterpart of something
just as wonderful, and perhaps more wonderful, inside you.  Man is the
microcosm, the little world, said the philosophers of old; and
philosophers nowadays are beginning to see that their old guess is actual
fact and true.

But what are these curious sea-creatures called, which are animals, yet
grow like plants?

They have more names than I can tell you, or you remember.  Those which
helped to make this bit of stone are called coral-insects: but they are
not really insects, and are no more like insects than you are.
Coral-polypes is the best name for them, because they have arms round
their mouths, something like a cuttlefish, which the ancients called
Polypus.  But the animal which you have seen likest to most of them is a

Look now at this piece of fresh coral--for coral it is, though not like
the coral which your sister wears in her necklace.  You see it is full of
pipes; in each of those pipes has lived what we will call, for the time
being, a tiny sea-anemone, joined on to his brothers by some sort of
flesh and skin; and all of them together have built up, out of the lime
in the sea-water, this common house, or rather town, of lime.

But is it not strange and wonderful?

Of course it is: but so is everything when you begin to look into it; and
if I were to go on, and tell you what sort of young ones these
coral-polypes have, and what becomes of them, you would hear such
wonders, that you would be ready to suspect that I was inventing
nonsense, or talking in my dreams.  But all that belongs to Madam How's
deepest book of all, which is called the BOOK OF KIND: the book which
children cannot understand, and in which only the very wisest men are
able to spell out a few words, not knowing, and of course not daring to
guess, what wonder may come next.

Now we will go back to our stone, and talk about how it was made, and how
the stalked star-fish, which you mistook for a flower, ever got into the

Then do you think me silly for fancying that a fossil star-fish was a

I should be silly if I did.  There is no silliness in not knowing what
you cannot know.  You can only guess about new things, which you have
never seen before, by comparing them with old things, which you have seen
before; and you had seen flowers, and snakes, and fishes' backbones, and
made a very fair guess from them.  After all, some of these stalked star-
fish are so like flowers, lilies especially, that they are called
Encrinites; and the whole family is called Crinoids, or lily-like
creatures, from the Greek work _krinon_, a lily; and as for corals and
corallines, learned men, in spite of all their care and shrewdness, made
mistake after mistake about them, which they had to correct again and
again, till now, I trust, they have got at something very like the truth.
No, I shall only call you silly if you do what some little boys are apt
to do--call other boys, and, still worse, servants or poor people, silly
for not knowing what they cannot know.

But are not poor people often very silly about animals and plants?  The
boys at the village school say that slowworms are poisonous; is not that

Not at all.  They know that adders bite, and so they think that slowworms
bite too.  They are wrong; and they must be told that they are wrong, and
scolded if they kill a slowworm.  But silly they are not.

But is it not silly to fancy that swallows sleep all the winter at the
bottom of the pond?

I do not think so.  The boys cannot know where the swallows go; and if
you told them--what is true--that the swallows find their way every
autumn through France, through Spain, over the Straits of Gibraltar, into
Morocco, and some, I believe, over the great desert of Zahara into
Negroland: and if you told them--what is true also--that the young
swallows actually find their way into Africa without having been along
the road before; because the old swallows go south a week or two first,
and leave the young ones to guess out the way for themselves: if you told
them that, then they would have a right to say, "Do you expect us to
believe that?  That is much more wonderful than that the swallows should
sleep in the pond."

But is it?

Yes; to them.  They know that bats and dormice and other things sleep all
the winter; so why should not swallows sleep?  They see the swallows
about the water, and often dipping almost into it.  They know that fishes
live under water, and that many insects--like May-flies and caddis-flies
and water-beetles--live sometimes in the water, sometimes in the open
air; and they cannot know--you do not know--what it is which prevents a
bird's living under water.  So their guess is really a very fair one; no
more silly than that of the savages, who when they first saw the white
men's ships, with their huge sails, fancied they were enormous sea-birds;
and when they heard the cannons fire, said that the ships spoke in
thunder and lightning.  Their guess was wrong, but not silly; for it was
the best guess they could make.

But I do know of one old woman who was silly.  She was a boy's nurse, and
she gave the boy a thing which she said was one of the snakes which St.
Hilda turned into stone; and told him that they found plenty of them at
Whitby, where she was born, all coiled up; but what was very odd, their
heads had always been broken of.  And when he took it, to his father, he
told him it was only a fossil shell--an Ammonite.  And he went back and
laughed at his nurse, and teased her till she was quite angry.

Then he was very lucky that she did not box his ears, for that was what
he deserved.  I dare say that, though his nurse had never heard of
Ammonites, she was a wise old dame enough, and knew a hundred things
which he did not know, and which were far more important than Ammonites,
even to him.


Because if she had not known how to nurse him well, he would perhaps have
never grown up alive and strong.  And if she had not known how to make
him obey and speak the truth, he might have grown up a naughty boy.

But was she not silly?

No.  She only believed what the Whitby folk, I understand, have some of
them believed for many hundred years.  And no one can be blamed for
thinking as his forefathers did, unless he has cause to know better.

Surely she might have known better?

How?  What reason could she have to believe the Ammonite was a shell?  It
is not the least like cockles, or whelks, or any shell she ever saw.

What reason either could she have to guess that Whitby cliff had once
been coral-mud, at the bottom of the sea?  No more reason, my dear child,
than you would have to guess that this stone had been coral-mud likewise,
if I did not teach you so,--or rather, try to make you teach yourself so.

No.  I say it again.  If you wish to learn, I will only teach you on
condition that you do not laugh at, or despise, those good and honest and
able people who do not know or care about these things, because they have
other things to think of: like old John out there ploughing.  He would
not believe you--he would hardly believe me--if we told him that this
stone had been once a swarm of living things, of exquisite shapes and
glorious colours.  And yet he can plough and sow, and reap and mow, and
fell and strip, and hedge and ditch, and give his neighbours sound
advice, and take the measure of a man's worth from ten minutes' talk, and
say his prayers, and keep his temper, and pay his debts,--which last
three things are more than a good many folks can do who fancy themselves
a whole world wiser than John in the smock-frock.

Oh, but I want to hear about the exquisite shapes and glorious colours.

Of course you do, little man.  A few fine epithets take your fancy far
more than a little common sense and common humility; but in that you are
no worse than some of your elders.  So now for the exquisite shapes and
glorious colours.  I have never seen them; though I trust to see them ere
I die.  So what they are like I can only tell from what I have learnt
from Mr. Darwin, and Mr. Wallace, and Mr. Jukes, and Mr. Gosse, and last,
but not least, from one whose soul was as beautiful as his face, Lucas
Barrett,--too soon lost to science,--who was drowned in exploring such a
coral-reef as this stone was once.

Then there are such things alive now?

Yes, and no.  The descendants of most of them live on, altered by time,
which alters all things; and from the beauty of the children we can guess
at the beauty of their ancestors; just as from the coral-reefs which
exist now we can guess how the coral-reefs of old were made.  And that
this stone was once part of a coral-reef the corals in it prove at first

And what is a coral-reef like?

You have seen the room in the British Museum full of corals, madrepores,
brain-stones, corallines, and sea-ferns?

Oh yes.

Then fancy all those alive.  Not as they are now, white stone: but
covered in jelly; and out of every pore a little polype, like a flower,
peeping out.  Fancy them of every gaudy colour you choose.  No bed of
flowers, they say, can be more brilliant than the corals, as you look
down on them through the clear sea.  Fancy, again, growing among them and
crawling over them, strange sea-anemones, shells, star-fish, sea-slugs,
and sea-cucumbers with feathery gills, crabs, and shrimps, and hundreds
of other animals, all as strange in shape, and as brilliant in colour.
You may let your fancy run wild.  Nothing so odd, nothing so gay, even
entered your dreams, or a poet's, as you may find alive at the bottom of
the sea, in the live flower-gardens of the sea-fairies.

There will be shoals of fish, too, playing in and out, as strange and
gaudy as the rest,--parrot-fish who browse on the live coral with their
beak-like teeth, as cattle browse on grass; and at the bottom, it may be,
larger and uglier fish, who eat the crabs and shell-fish, shells and all,
grinding them up as a dog grinds a bone, and so turning shells and corals
into fine soft mud, such as this stone is partly made of.

But what happens to all the delicate little corals if a storm comes on?

What, indeed?  Madam How has made them so well and wisely, that, like
brave and good men, the more trouble they suffer the stronger they are.
Day and night, week after week, the trade-wind blows upon them, hurling
the waves against them in furious surf, knocking off great lumps of
coral, grinding them to powder, throwing them over the reef into the
shallow water inside.  But the heavier the surf beats upon them, the
stronger the polypes outside grow, repairing their broken houses, and
building up fresh coral on the dead coral below, because it is in the
fresh sea-water that beats upon the surf that they find most lime with
which to build.  And as they build they form a barrier against the surf,
inside of which, in water still as glass, the weaker and more delicate
things can grow in safety, just as these very Encrinites may have grown,
rooted in the lime-mud, and waving their slender arms at the bottom of
the clear lagoon.  Such mighty builders are these little coral polypes,
that all the works of men are small compared with theirs.  One single
reef, for instance, which is entirely made by them, stretches along the
north-east coast of Australia for nearly a thousand miles.  Of this you
must read some day in Mr. Jukes's _Voyage of H.M.S. "Fly_."  Every island
throughout a great part of the Pacific is fringed round each with its
coral-reef, and there are hundreds of islands of strange shapes, and of
Atolls, as they are called, or ring-islands, which are composed entirely
of coral, and of nothing else.

A ring-island?  How can an island be made in the shape of a ring?

Ah! it was a long time before men found out that riddle.  Mr. Darwin was
the first to guess the answer, as he has guessed many an answer beside.
These islands are each a ring, or nearly a ring of coral, with smooth
shallow water inside: but their outsides run down, like a mountain wall,
sheer into seas hundreds of fathoms deep.  People used to believe, and
reasonably enough, that the coral polypes began to build up the islands
from the very bottom of the deep sea.

But that would not account for the top of them being of the shape of a
ring; and in time it was found out that the corals would not build except
in shallow water, twenty or thirty fathoms deep at most, and men were at
their wits' ends to find out the riddle.  Then said Mr. Darwin, "Suppose
one of those beautiful South Sea Islands, like Tahiti, the Queen of
Isles, with its ring of coral-reef all round its shore, began sinking
slowly under the sea.  The land, as it sunk, would be gone for good and
all: but the coral-reef round it would not, because the coral polypes
would build up and up continually upon the skeletons of their dead
parents, to get to the surface of the water, and would keep close to the
top outside, however much the land sunk inside; and when the island had
sunk completely beneath the sea, what would be left?  What must be left
but a ring of coral reef, around the spot where the last mountain peak of
the island sank beneath the sea?"  And so Mr. Darwin explained the shapes
of hundreds of coral islands in the Pacific; and proved, too, some
strange things besides (he proved, and other men, like Mr. Wallace, whose
excellent book on the East Indian islands you must read some day, have
proved in other ways) that there was once a great continent, joined
perhaps to Australia and to New Guinea, in the Pacific Ocean, where is
now nothing but deep sea, and coral-reefs which mark the mountain ranges
of that sunken world.

But how does the coral ever rise above the surface of the water and turn
into hard stone?

Of course the coral polypes cannot build above the high-tide mark; but
the surf which beats upon them piles up their broken fragments just as a
sea-beach is piled up, and hammers them together with that water hammer
which is heavier and stronger than any you have ever seen in a smith's
forge.  And then, as is the fashion of lime, the whole mass sets and
becomes hard, as you may see mortar set; and so you have a low island a
few feet above the sea.  Then sea-birds come to it, and rest and build;
and seeds are floated thither from far lands; and among them almost
always the cocoa-nut, which loves to grow by the sea-shore, and groves of
cocoa palms grow up upon the lonely isle.  Then, perhaps, trees and
bushes are drifted thither before the trade-wind; and entangled in their
roots are seeds of other plants, and eggs or cocoons of insects; and so a
few flowers and a few butterflies and beetles set up for themselves upon
the new land.  And then a bird or two, caught in a storm and blown away
to sea finds shelter in the cocoa-grove; and so a little new world is set
up, in which (you must remember always) there are no four-footed beasts,
nor snakes, nor lizards, nor frogs, nor any animals that cannot cross the
sea.  And on some of those islands they may live (indeed there is reason
to believe they have lived), so long, that some of them have changed
their forms, according to the laws of Madam How, who sooner or later fits
each thing exactly for the place in which it is meant to live, till upon
some of them you may find such strange and unique creatures as the famous
cocoa-nut crab, which learned men call _Birgus latro_.  A great crab he
is, who walks upon the tips of his toes a foot high above the ground.  And
because he has often nothing to eat but cocoa-nuts, or at least they are
the best things he can find, cocoa-nuts he has learned to eat, and after
a fashion which it would puzzle you to imitate.  Some say that he climbs
up the stems of the cocoa-nut trees, and pulls the fruit down for
himself; but that, it seems, he does not usually do.  What he does is
this: when he finds a fallen cocoa-nut, he begins tearing away the thick
husk and fibre with his strong claws; and he knows perfectly well which
end to tear it from, namely, from the end where the three eye-holes are,
which you call the monkey's face, out of one of which you know, the young
cocoa-nut tree would burst forth.  And when he has got to the eye-holes,
he hammers through one of them with the point of his heavy claw.  So far,
so good: but how is he to get the meat out?  He cannot put his claw in.
He has no proboscis like a butterfly to insert and suck with.  He is as
far off from his dinner as the fox was when the stork offered him a feast
in a long-necked jar.  What then do you think he does?  He turns himself
round, puts in a pair of his hind pincers, which are very slender, and
with them scoops the meat out of the cocoa-nut, and so puts his dinner
into his mouth with his hind feet.  And even the cocoa-nut husk he does
not waste; for he lives in deep burrows which he makes like a rabbit; and
being a luxurious crab, and liking to sleep soft in spite of his hard
shell, he lines them with a quantity of cocoa-nut fibre, picked out clean
and fine, just as if he was going to make cocoa-nut matting of it.  And
being also a clean crab, as I hope you are a clean little boy, he goes
down to the sea every night to have his bath and moisten his gills, and
so lives happy all his days, and gets so fat in his old age that he
carries about his body nearly a quart of pure oil.

That is the history of the cocoa-nut crab.  And if any one tells me that
that crab acts only on what is called "instinct"; and does not think and
reason, just as you and I think and reason, though of course not in words
as you and I do: then I shall be inclined to say that that person does
not think nor reason either.

Then were there many coral-reefs in Britain in old times?

Yes, many and many, again and again; some whole ages older than this, a
bit of which you see, and some again whole ages newer.  But look: then
judge for yourself.  Look at this geological map.  Wherever you see a bit
of blue, which is the mark for limestone, you may say, "There is a bit of
old coral-reef rising up to the surface."  But because I will not puzzle
your little head with too many things at once, you shall look at one set
of coral-reefs which are far newer than this bit of Dudley limestone, and
which are the largest, I suppose, that ever were in this country; or, at
least, there is more of them left than of any others.

Look first at Ireland.  You see that almost all the middle of Ireland is
coloured blue.  It is one great sheet of old coral-reef and coral-mud,
which is now called the carboniferous limestone.  You see red and purple
patches rising out of it, like islands--and islands I suppose they were,
of hard and ancient rock, standing up in the middle of the coral sea.

But look again, and you will see that along the west coast of Ireland,
except in a very few places, like Galway Bay, the blue limestone does not
come down to the sea; the shore is coloured purple and brown, and those
colours mark the ancient rocks and high mountains of Mayo and Galway and
Kerry, which stand as barriers to keep the raging surf of the Atlantic
from bursting inland and beating away, as it surely would in course of
time, the low flat limestone plain of the middle of Ireland.  But the
same coral-reefs once stretched out far to the westward into the Atlantic
Ocean; and you may see the proof upon that map.  For in the western bays,
in Clew Bay with its hundred islands, and Galway Bay with its Isles of
Arran, and beautiful Kenmare, and beautiful Bantry, you see little blue
spots, which are low limestone islands, standing in the sea, overhung by
mountains far aloft.  You have often heard those islands in Kenmare Bay
talked of, and how some whom you know go to fish round them by night for
turbot and conger; and when you hear them spoken of again, you must
recollect that they are the last fragments of a great fringing
coral-reef, which will in a few thousand years follow the fate of the
rest, and be eaten up by the waves, while the mountains of hard rock
stand round them still unchanged.

Now look at England, and there you will see patches at least of a great
coral-reef which was forming at the same time as that Irish one, and on
which perhaps some of your schoolfellows have often stood.  You have
heard of St. Vincent's Rocks at Bristol, and the marble cliffs, 250 feet
in height, covered in part with rich wood and rare flowers, and the Avon
running through the narrow gorge, and the stately ships sailing far below
your feet from Bristol to the Severn sea.  And you may see, for here they
are, corals from St. Vincent's Rocks, cut and polished, showing too that
they also, like the Dudley limestone, are made up of corals and of coral-
mud.  Now, whenever you see St. Vincent's Rocks, as I suspect you very
soon will, recollect where you are, and use your fancy, to paint for
yourself a picture as strange as it is true.  Fancy that those rocks are
what they once were, a coral-reef close to the surface of a shallow sea.
Fancy that there is no gorge of the Avon, no wide Severn sea--for those
were eaten out by water ages and ages afterwards.  But picture to
yourself the coral sea reaching away to the north, to the foot of the
Welsh mountains; and then fancy yourself, if you will, in a canoe,
paddling up through the coral-reefs, north and still north, up the valley
down which the Severn now flows, up through what is now Worcestershire,
then up through Staffordshire, then through Derbyshire, into Yorkshire,
and so on through Durham and Northumberland, till your find yourself
stopped by the Ettrick hills in Scotland; while all to the westward of
you, where is now the greater part of England, was open sea.  You may
say, if you know anything of the geography of England, "Impossible!  That
would be to paddle over the tops of high mountains; over the top of the
Peak in Derbyshire, over the top of High Craven and Whernside and Pen-y-
gent and Cross Fell, and to paddle too over the Cheviot Hills, which part
England and Scotland."  I know it, my child, I know it.  But so it was
once on a time.  The high limestone mountains which part Lancashire and
Yorkshire--the very chine and backbone of England--were once coral-reefs
at the bottom of the sea.  They are all made up of the carboniferous
limestone, so called, as your little knowledge of Latin ought to tell
you, because it carries the coal; because the coalfields usually lie upon
it.  It may be impossible in your eyes: but remember always that nothing
is impossible with God.

But you said that the coal was made from plants and trees, and did plants
and trees grow on this coral-reef?

That I cannot say.  Trees may have grown on the dry parts of the reef, as
cocoa-nuts grow now in the Pacific.  But the coal was not laid down upon
it till long afterwards, when it had gone through many and strange
changes.  For all through the chine of England, and in a part of Ireland
too, there lies upon the top of the limestone a hard gritty rock, in some
places three thousand feet thick, which is commonly called "the
mill-stone grit."  And above that again the coal begins.  Now to make
that 3000 feet of hard rock, what must have happened?  The sea-bottom
must have sunk, slowly no doubt, carrying the coral-reefs down with it,
3000 feet at least.  And meanwhile sand and mud, made from the wearing
away of the old lands in the North must have settled down upon it.  I say
from the North--for there are no fossils, as far as I know, or sign of
life, in these rocks of mill-stone grit; and therefore it is reasonable
to suppose that they were brought from a cold current at the Pole, too
cold to allow sea-beasts to live,--quite cold enough, certainly, to kill
coral insects, who could only thrive in warm water coming from the South.

Then, to go on with my story, upon the top of these mill-stone grits came
sand and mud, and peat, and trees, and plants, washed out to sea, as far
as we can guess, from the mouths of vast rivers flowing from the West,
rivers as vast as the Amazon, the Mississippi, or the Orinoco are now;
and so in long ages, upon the top of the limestone and upon the top of
the mill-stone grit, were laid down those beds of coal which you see
burnt now in every fire.

But how did the coral-reefs rise till they became cliffs at Bristol and
mountains in Yorkshire?

The earthquake steam, I suppose, raised them.  One earthquake indeed, or
series of earthquakes, there was, running along between Lancashire and
Yorkshire, which made that vast crack and upheaval in the rocks, the
Craven Fault, running, I believe, for more than a hundred miles, and
lifting the rocks in some places several hundred feet.  That earthquake
helped to make the high hills which overhang Manchester and Preston, and
all the manufacturing county of Lancashire.  That earthquake helped to
make the perpendicular cliff at Malham Cove, and many another beautiful
bit of scenery.  And that and other earthquakes, by heating the rocks
from the fires below, may have helped to change them from soft coral into
hard crystalline marble as you see them now, just as volcanic heat has
hardened and purified the beautiful white marbles of Pentelicus and Paros
in Greece, and Carrara in Italy, from which statues are carved unto this
day.  Or the same earthquake may have heated and hardened the limestones
simply by grinding and squeezing them; or they may have been heated and
hardened in the course of long ages simply by the weight of the thousands
of feet of other rock which lay upon them.  For pressure, you must
remember, produces heat.  When you strike flint and steel together, the
pressure of the blow not only makes bits of steel fly off, but makes them
fly off in red-hot sparks.  When you hammer a piece of iron with a
hammer, you will soon find it get quite warm.  When you squeeze the air
together in your pop-gun, you actually make the air inside warmer, till
the pellet flies out, and the air expands and cools again.  Nay, I
believe you cannot hold up a stone on the palm of your hand without that
stone after a while warming your hand, because it presses against you in
trying to fall, and you press against it in trying to hold it up.  And
recollect above all the great and beautiful example of that law which you
were lucky enough to see on the night of the 14th of November 1867, how
those falling stars, as I told you then, were coming out of boundless
space, colder than any ice on earth, and yet, simply by pressing against
the air above our heads, they had their motion turned into heat, till
they burned themselves up into trains of fiery dust.  So remember that
wherever you have pressure you have heat, and that the pressure of the
upper rocks upon the lower is quite enough, some think, to account for
the older and lower rocks being harder than the upper and newer ones.

But why should the lower rocks be older and the upper rocks newer?  You
told me just now that the high mountains in Wales were ages older than
Windsor Forest, upon which we stand: but yet how much lower we are here
than if we were on a Welsh mountain.

Ah, my dear child, of course that puzzles you, and I am afraid it must
puzzle you still till we have another talk; or rather it seems to me that
the best way to explain that puzzle to you would be for you and me to go
a journey into the far west, and look into the matter for ourselves; and
from here to the far west we will go, either in fancy or on a real
railroad and steamboat, before we have another talk about these things.

Now it is time to stop.  Is there anything more you want to know? for you
look as if something was puzzling you still.

Were there any men in the world while all this was going on?

I think not.  We have no proof that there were not: but also we have no
proof that there were; the cave-men, of whom I told you, lived many ages
after the coal was covered up.  You seem to be sorry that there were no
men in the world then.

Because it seems a pity that there was no one to see those beautiful
coral-reefs and coal-forests.

No one to see them, my child?  Who told you that?  Who told you there are
not, and never have been any rational beings in this vast universe, save
certain weak, ignorant, short-sighted creatures shaped like you and me?
But even if it were so, and no created eye had ever beheld those ancient
wonders, and no created heart ever enjoyed them, is there not one
Uncreated who has seen them and enjoyed them from the beginning?  Were
not these creatures enjoying themselves each after their kind?  And was
there not a Father in Heaven who was enjoying their enjoyment, and
enjoying too their beauty, which He had formed according to the ideas of
His Eternal Mind?  Recollect what you were told on Trinity Sunday--That
this world was not made for man alone: but that man, and this world, and
the whole Universe was made for God; for He created all things, and for
His pleasure they are, and were created.


Where were we to go next?  Into the far west, to see how all the way
along the railroads the new rocks and soils lie above the older, and yet
how, when we get westward, the oldest rocks rise highest into the air.

Well, we will go: but not, I think, to-day.  Indeed I hardly know how we
could get as far as Reading; for all the world is in the hay-field, and
even the old horse must go thither too, and take his turn at the
hay-cart.  Well, the rocks have been where they are for many a year, and
they will wait our leisure patiently enough: but Midsummer and the hay-
field will not wait.  Let us take what God gives when He sends it, and
learn the lesson that lies nearest to us.  After all, it is more to my
old mind, and perhaps to your young mind too, to look at things which are
young and fresh and living, rather than things which are old and worn and
dead.  Let us leave the old stones, and the old bones, and the old
shells, the wrecks of ancient worlds which have gone down into the
kingdom of death, to teach us their grand lessons some other day; and let
us look now at the world of light and life and beauty, which begins here
at the open door, and stretches away over the hay-fields, over the woods,
over the southern moors, over sunny France, and sunnier Spain, and over
the tropic seas, down to the equator, and the palm-groves of the eternal
summer.  If we cannot find something, even at starting from the open
door, to teach us about Why and How, we must be very short-sighted, or
very shallow-hearted.

There is the old cock starling screeching in the eaves, because he wants
to frighten us away, and take a worm to his children, without our finding
out whereabouts his hole is.  How does he know that we might hurt him?
and how again does he not know that we shall not hurt him? we, who for
five-and-twenty years have let him and his ancestors build under those
eaves in peace?  How did he get that quantity of half-wit, that sort of
stupid cunning, into his little brain, and yet get no more?  And why (for
this is a question of Why, and not of How) does he labour all day long,
hunting for worms and insects for his children, while his wife nurses
them in the nest?  Why, too, did he help her to build that nest with toil
and care this spring, for the sake of a set of nestlings who can be of no
gain or use to him, but only take the food out of his mouth?  Simply out
of--what shall I call it, my child?--Love; that same sense of love and
duty, coming surely from that one Fountain of all duty and all love,
which makes your father work for you.  That the mother should take care
of her young, is wonderful enough; but that (at least among many birds)
the father should help likewise, is (as you will find out as you grow
older) more wonderful far.  So there already the old starling has set us
two fresh puzzles about How and Why, neither of which we shall get
answered, at least on this side of the grave.

Come on, up the field, under the great generous sun, who quarrels with no
one, grudges no one, but shines alike upon the evil and the good.  What a
gay picture he is painting now, with his light-pencils; for in them,
remember, and not in the things themselves the colour lies.  See how,
where the hay has been already carried, he floods all the slopes with
yellow light, making them stand out sharp against the black shadows of
the wood; while where the grass is standing still, he makes the sheets of
sorrel-flower blush rosy red, or dapples the field with white oxeyes.

But is not the sorrel itself red, and the oxeyes white?

What colour are they at night, when the sun is gone?


That is, no colour.  The very grass is not green at night.

Oh, but it is if you look at it with a lantern.

No, no.  It is the light of the lantern, which happens to be strong
enough to make the leaves look green, though it is not strong enough to
make a geranium look red.

Not red?

No; the geranium flowers by a lantern look black, while the leaves look
green.  If you don't believe me, we will try.

But why is that?

Why, I cannot tell: and how, you had best ask Professor Tyndall, if you
ever have the honour of meeting him.

But now--hark to the mowing-machine, humming like a giant night-jar.  Come
up and look at it, and see how swift and smooth it shears the long grass
down, so that in the middle of the swathe it seems to have merely fallen
flat, and you must move it before you find that it has been cut off.

Ah, there is a proof to us of what men may do if they will only learn the
lessons which Madam How can teach them.  There is that boy, fresh from
the National School, cutting more grass in a day than six strong mowers
could have cut, and cutting it better, too; for the mowing-machine goes
so much nearer to the ground than the scythe, that we gain by it two
hundredweight of hay on every acre.  And see, too, how persevering old
Madam How will not stop her work, though the machine has cut off all the
grass which she has been making for the last three months; for as fast as
we shear it off, she makes it grow again.  There are fresh blades, here
at our feet, a full inch long, which have sprung up in the last two days,
for the cattle when they are turned in next week.

But if the machine cuts all the grass, the poor mowers will have nothing
to do.

Not so.  They are all busy enough elsewhere.  There is plenty of other
work to be done, thank God; and wholesomer and easier work than mowing
with a burning sun on their backs, drinking gallons of beer, and getting
first hot and then cold across the loins, till they lay in a store of
lumbago and sciatica, to cripple them in their old age.  You delight in
machinery because it is curious: you should delight in it besides because
it does good, and nothing but good, where it is used, according to the
laws of Lady Why, with care, moderation, and mercy, and fair-play between
man and man.  For example: just as the mowing-machine saves the mowers,
the threshing-machine saves the threshers from rheumatism and chest
complaints,--which they used to catch in the draught and dust of the
unhealthiest place in the whole parish, which is, the old-fashioned
barn's floor.  And so, we may hope, in future years all heavy drudgery
and dirty work will be done more and more by machines, and people will
have more and more chance of keeping themselves clean and healthy, and
more and more time to read, and learn, and think, and be true civilised
men and women, instead of being mere live ploughs, or live manure-carts,
such as I have seen ere now.

A live manure-cart?

Yes, child.  If you had seen, as I have seen, in foreign lands, poor
women, haggard, dirty, grown old before their youth was over, toiling up
hill with baskets of foul manure upon their backs, you would have said,
as I have said, "Oh for Madam How to cure that ignorance!  Oh for Lady
Why to cure that barbarism!  Oh that Madam How would teach them that
machinery must always be cheaper in the long run than human muscles and
nerves!  Oh that Lady Why would teach them that a woman is the most
precious thing on earth, and that if she be turned into a beast of
burden, Lady Why--and Madam How likewise--will surely avenge the wrongs
of their human sister!"  There, you do not quite know what I mean, and I
do not care that you should.  It is good for little folk that big folk
should now and then "talk over their heads," as the saying is, and make
them feel how ignorant they are, and how many solemn and earnest
questions there are in the world on which they must make up their minds
some day, though not yet.  But now we will talk about the hay: or rather
do you and the rest go and play in the hay and gather it up, build forts
of it, storm them, pull them down, build them up again, shout, laugh, and
scream till you are hot and tired.  You will please Madam How thereby,
and Lady Why likewise.


Because Madam How naturally wants her work to succeed, and she is at work
now making you.

Making me?

Of course.  Making a man of you, out of a boy.  And that can only be done
by the life-blood which runs through and through you.  And the more you
laugh and shout, the more pure air will pass into your blood, and make it
red and healthy; and the more you romp and play--unless you overtire
yourself--the quicker will that blood flow through all your limbs, to
make bone and muscle, and help you to grow into a man.

But why does Lady Why like to see us play?

She likes to see you happy, as she likes to see the trees and birds
happy.  For she knows well that there is no food, nor medicine either,
like happiness.  If people are not happy enough, they are often tempted
to do many wrong deeds, and to think many wrong thoughts: and if by God's
grace they know the laws of Lady Why, and keep from sin, still
unhappiness, if it goes on too long, wears them out, body and mind; and
they grow ill and die, of broken hearts, and broken brains, my child; and
so at last, poor souls, find "Rest beneath the Cross."

Children, too, who are unhappy; children who are bullied, and frightened,
and kept dull and silent, never thrive.  Their bodies do not thrive; for
they grow up weak.  Their minds do not thrive; for they grow up dull.
Their souls do not thrive; for they learn mean, sly, slavish ways, which
God forbid you should ever learn.  Well said the wise man, "The human
plant, like the vegetables, can only flower in sunshine."

So do you go, and enjoy yourself in the sunshine; but remember this--You
know what happiness is.  Then if you wish to please Lady Why, and Lady
Why's Lord and King likewise, you will never pass a little child without
trying to make it happier, even by a passing smile.  And now be off, and
play in the hay, and come back to me when you are tired.

* * * * *

Let us lie down at the foot of this old oak, and see what we can see.

And hear what we can hear, too.  What is that humming all round us, now
that the noisy mowing-machine has stopped?

And as much softer than the noise of mowing-machine hum, as the machines
which make it are more delicate and more curious.  Madam How is a very
skilful workwoman, and has eyes which see deeper and clearer than all
microscopes; as you would find, if you tried to see what makes that
"Midsummer hum" of which the haymakers are so fond, because it promises
fair weather.

Why, it is only the gnats and flies.

Only the gnats and flies?  You might study those gnats and flies for your
whole life without finding out all--or more than a very little--about
them.  I wish I knew how they move those tiny wings of theirs--a thousand
times in a second, I dare say, some of them.  I wish I knew how far they
know that they are happy--for happy they must be, whether they know it or
not.  I wish I knew how they live at all.  I wish I even knew how many
sorts there are humming round us at this moment.

How many kinds?  Three or four?

More probably thirty or forty round this single tree.

But why should there be so many kinds of living things?  Would not one or
two have done just as well?

Why, indeed?  Why should there not have been only one sort of butterfly,
and he only of one colour, a plain brown, or a plain white?

And why should there be so many sorts of birds, all robbing the garden at
once?  Thrushes, and blackbirds, and sparrows, and chaffinches, and
greenfinches, and bullfinches, and tomtits.

And there are four kinds of tomtits round here, remember: but we may go
on with such talk for ever.  Wiser men than we have asked the same
question: but Lady Why will not answer them yet.  However, there is
another question, which Madam How seems inclined to answer just now,
which is almost as deep and mysterious.


_How_ all these different kinds of things became different.

Oh, do tell me!

Not I.  You must begin at the beginning, before you can end at the end,
or even make one step towards the end.

What do you mean?

You must learn the differences between things, before you can find out
how those differences came about.  You must learn Madam How's alphabet
before you can read her book.  And Madam How's alphabet of animals and
plants is, Species, Kinds of things.  You must see which are like, and
which unlike; what they are like in, and what they are unlike in.  You
are beginning to do that with your collection of butterflies.  You like
to arrange them, and those that are most like nearest to each other, and
to compare them.  You must do that with thousands of different kinds of
things before you can read one page of Madam How's Natural History Book

But it will take so much time and so much trouble.

God grant that you may not spend more time on worse matters, and take
more trouble over things which will profit you far less.  But so it must
be, willy-nilly.  You must learn the alphabet if you mean to read.  And
you must learn the value of the figures before you can do a sum.  Why,
what would you think of any one who sat down to play at cards--for money
too (which I hope and trust you never will do)--before he knew the names
of the cards, and which counted highest, and took the other?

Of course he would be very foolish.

Just as foolish are those who make up "theories" (as they call them)
about this world, and how it was made, before they have found out what
the world is made of.  You might as well try to find out how this hay-
field was made, without finding out first what the hay is made of.

How the hay-field was made?  Was it not always a hay-field?

Ah, yes; the old story, my child: Was not the earth always just what it
is now?  Let us see for ourselves whether this was always a hay-field.


Just pick out all the different kinds of plants and flowers you can find
round us here.  How many do you think there are?

Oh--there seem to be four or five.

Just as there were three or four kinds of flies in the air.  Pick them,
child, and count.  Let us have facts.

How many?  What! a dozen already?

Yes--and here is another, and another.  Why, I have got I don't know how

Why not?  Bring them here, and let us see.  Nine kinds of grasses, and a
rush.  Six kinds of clovers and vetches; and besides, dandelion, and
rattle, and oxeye, and sorrel, and plantain, and buttercup, and a little
stitchwort, and pignut, and mouse-ear hawkweed, too, which nobody wants.


Because they are a sign that I am not a good farmer enough, and have not
quite turned my Wild into Field.

What do you mean?

Look outside the boundary fence, at the moors and woods; they are forest,
Wild--"Wald," as the Germans would call it.  Inside the fence is
Field--"Feld," as the Germans would call it.  Guess why?

Is it because the trees inside have been felled?

Well, some say so, who know more than I.  But now go over the fence, and
see how many of these plants you can find on the moor.

Oh, I think I know.  I am so often on the moor.

I think you would find more kinds outside than you fancy.  But what do
you know?

That beside some short fine grass about the cattle-paths, there are
hardly any grasses on the moor save deer's hair and glade-grass; and all
the rest is heath, and moss, and furze, and fern.

Softly--not all; you have forgotten the bog plants; and there are (as I
said) many more plants beside on the moor than you fancy.  But we will
look into that another time.  At all events, the plants outside are on
the whole quite different from the hay-field.

Of course: that is what makes the field look green and the moor brown.

Not a doubt.  They are so different, that they look like bits of two
different continents.  Scrambling over the fence is like scrambling out
of Europe into Australia.  Now, how was that difference made?  Think.
Don't guess, but think.  Why does the rich grass come up to the bank, and
yet not spread beyond it?

I suppose because it cannot get over.

Not get over?  Would not the wind blow the seeds, and the birds carry
them?  They do get over, in millions, I don't doubt, every summer.

Then why do they not grow?


Is there any difference in the soil inside and out?

A very good guess.  But guesses are no use without facts.  Look.

Oh, I remember now.  I know now the soil of the field is brown, like the
garden; and the soil of the moor all black and peaty.

Yes.  But if you dig down two or three feet, you will find the soils of
the moor and the field just the same.  So perhaps the top soils were once
both alike.

I know.

Well, and what do you think about it now?  I want you to look and think.
I want every one to look and think.  Half the misery in the world comes
first from not looking, and then from not thinking.  And I do not want
you to be miserable.

But shall I be miserable if I do not find out such little things as this.

You will be miserable if you do not learn to understand little things:
because then you will not be able to understand great things when you
meet them.  Children who are not trained to use their eyes and their
common sense grow up the more miserable the cleverer they are.


Because they grow up what men call dreamers, and bigots, and fanatics,
causing misery to themselves and to all who deal with them.  So I say
again, think.

Well, I suppose men must have altered the soil inside the bank.

Well done.  But why do you think so?

Because, of course, some one made the bank; and the brown soil only goes
up to it.

Well, that is something like common sense.  Now you will not say any
more, as the cows or the butterflies might, that the hay-field was always

And how did men change the soil?

By tilling it with the plough, to sweeten it, and manuring it, to make it

And then did all these beautiful grasses grow up of themselves?

You ought to know that they most likely did not.  You know the new


Well then, do rich grasses come up on them, now that they are broken up?

Oh no, nothing but groundsel, and a few weeds.

Just what, I dare say, came up here at first.  But this land was tilled
for corn, for hundreds of years, I believe.  And just about one hundred
years ago it was laid down in grass; that is, sown with grass seeds.

And where did men get the grass seeds from?

Ah, that is a long story; and one that shows our forefathers (though they
knew nothing about railroads or electricity) were not such simpletons as
some folks think.  The way it must have been done was this.  Men watched
the natural pastures where cattle get fat on the wild grass, as they do
in the Fens, and many other parts of England.  And then they saved the
seeds of those fattening wild grasses, and sowed them in fresh spots.
Often they made mistakes.  They were careless, and got weeds among the
seed--like the buttercups, which do so much harm to this pasture.  Or
they sowed on soil which would not suit the seed, and it died.  But at
last, after many failures, they have grown so careful and so clever, that
you may send to certain shops, saying what sort of soil yours is, and
they will send you just the seeds which will grow there, and no other;
and then you have a good pasture for as long as you choose to keep it

And how is it kept good?

Look at all those loads of hay, which are being carried off the field.  Do
you think you can take all that away without putting anything in its

Why not?

If I took all the butter out of the churn, what must I do if I want more
butter still?

Put more cream in.

So, if I want more grass to grow, I must put on the soil more of what
grass is made of.

But the butter don't grow, and the grass does.

What does the grass grow in?

The soil.

Yes.  Just as the butter grows in the churn.  So you must put fresh grass-
stuff continually into the soil, as you put fresh cream into the churn.
You have heard the farm men say, "That crop has taken a good deal out of
the land"?


Then they spoke exact truth.  What will that hay turn into by Christmas?
Can't you tell?  Into milk, of course, which you will drink; and into
horseflesh too, which you will use.

Use horseflesh?  Not eat it?

No; we have not got as far as that.  We did not even make up our minds to
taste the Cambridge donkey.  But every time the horse draws the carriage,
he uses up so much muscle; and that muscle he must get back again by
eating hay and corn; and that hay and corn must be put back again into
the land by manure, or there will be all the less for the horse next
year.  For one cannot eat one's cake and keep it too; and no more can one
eat one's grass.

So this field is a truly wonderful place.  It is no ugly pile of brick
and mortar, with a tall chimney pouring out smoke and evil smells, with
unhealthy, haggard people toiling inside.  Why do you look surprised?

Because--because nobody ever said it was.  You mean a manufactory.

Well, and this hay-field is a manufactory: only like most of Madam How's
workshops, infinitely more beautiful, as well as infinitely more crafty,
than any manufactory of man's building.  It is beautiful to behold, and
healthy to work in; a joy and blessing alike to the eye, and the mind,
and the body: and yet it is a manufactory.

But a manufactory of what?

Of milk of course, and cows, and sheep, and horses; and of your body and
mine--for we shall drink the milk and eat the meat.  And therefore it is
a flesh and milk manufactory.  We must put into it every year yard-stuff,
tank-stuff, guano, bones, and anything and everything of that kin, that
Madam How may cook it for us into grass, and cook the grass again into
milk and meat.  But if we don't give Madam How material to work on, we
cannot expect her to work for us.  And what do you think will happen
then?  She will set to work for herself.  The rich grasses will dwindle
for want of ammonia (that is smelling salts), and the rich clovers for
want of phosphates (that is bone-earth): and in their places will come
over the bank the old weeds and grass off the moor, which have not room
to get in now, because the ground is coveted already.  They want no
ammonia nor phosphates--at all events they have none, and that is why the
cattle on the moor never get fat.  So they can live where these rich
grasses cannot.  And then they will conquer and thrive; and the Field
will turn into Wild once more.

Ah, my child, thank God for your forefathers, when you look over that
boundary mark.  For the difference between the Field and the Wild is the
difference between the old England of Madam How's making, and the new
England which she has taught man to make, carrying on what she had only
begun and had not time to finish.

That moor is a pattern bit left to show what the greater part of this
land was like for long ages after it had risen out of the sea; when there
was little or nothing on the flat upper moors save heaths, and ling, and
club-mosses, and soft gorse, and needle-whin, and creeping willows; and
furze and fern upon the brows; and in the bottoms oak and ash, beech and
alder, hazel and mountain ash, holly and thorn, with here and there an
aspen or a buckthorn (berry-bearing alder as you call it), and
everywhere--where he could thrust down his long root, and thrust up his
long shoots--that intruding conqueror and insolent tyrant, the bramble.
There were sedges and rushes, too, in the bogs, and coarse grass on the
forest pastures--or "leas" as we call them to this day round here--but no
real green fields; and, I suspect, very few gay flowers, save in spring
the sheets of golden gorse, and in summer the purple heather.  Such was
old England--or rather, such was this land before it was England; a far
sadder, damper, poorer land than now.  For one man or one cow or sheep
which could have lived on it then, a hundred can live now.  And yet, what
it was once, that it might become again,--it surely would round here, if
this brave English people died out of it, and the land was left to itself
once more.

What would happen then, you may guess for yourself, from what you see
happen whenever the land is left to itself, as it is in the wood above.
In that wood you can still see the grass ridges and furrows which show
that it was once ploughed and sown by man; perhaps as late as the time of
Henry the Eighth, when a great deal of poor land, as you will read some
day, was thrown out of tillage, to become forest and down once more.  And
what is the mount now?  A jungle of oak and beech, cherry and holly,
young and old all growing up together, with the mountain ash and bramble
and furze coming up so fast beneath them, that we have to cut the paths
clear again year by year.  Why, even the little cow-wheat, a very old-
world plant, which only grows in ancient woods, has found its way back
again, I know not whence, and covers the open spaces with its pretty
yellow and white flowers.  Man had conquered this mount, you see, from
Madam How, hundreds of years ago.  And she always lets man conquer her,
because Lady Why wishes man to conquer: only he must have a fair fight
with Madam How first, and try his strength against hers to the utmost.  So
man conquered the wood for a while; and it became cornfield instead of
forest: but he was not strong and wise enough three hundred years ago to
keep what he had conquered; and back came Madam How, and took the place
into her own hands, and bade the old forest trees and plants come back
again--as they would come if they were not stopped year by year, down
from the wood, over the pastures--killing the rich grasses as they went,
till they met another forest coming up from below, and fought it for many
a year, till both made peace, and lived quietly side by side for ages.

Another forest coming up from below?  Where would it come from?

From where it is now.  Come down and look along the brook, and every
drain and grip which runs into the brook.  What is here?

Seedling alders, and some withies among them.

Very well.  You know how we pull these alders up, and cut them down, and
yet they continually come again.  Now, if we and all human beings were to
leave this pasture for a few hundred years, would not those alders
increase into a wood?  Would they not kill the grass, and spread right
and left, seeding themselves more and more as the grass died, and left
the ground bare, till they met the oaks and beeches coming down the hill?
And then would begin a great fight, for years and years, between oak and
beech against alder and willow.

But how can trees fight?  Could they move or beat each other with their

Not quite that; though they do beat each other with their boughs,
fiercely enough, in a gale of wind; and then the trees who have strong
and stiff boughs wound those who have brittle and limp boughs, and so
hurt them, and if the storms come often enough, kill them.  But among
these trees in a sheltered valley the larger and stronger would kill the
weaker and smaller by simply overshadowing their tops, and starving their
roots; starving them, indeed, so much when they grow very thick, that the
poor little acorns, and beech mast, and alder seeds would not be able to
sprout at all.  So they would fight, killing each other's children, till
the war ended--I think I can guess how.


The beeches are as dainty as they are beautiful; and they do not like to
get their feet wet.  So they would venture down the hill only as far as
the dry ground lasts, and those who tried to grow any lower would die.
But the oaks are hardy, and do not care much where they grow.  So they
would fight their way down into the wet ground among the alders and
willows, till they came to where their enemies were so thick and tall,
that the acorns as they fell could not sprout in the darkness.  And so
you would have at last, along the hill-side, a forest of beech and oak,
lower down a forest of oak and alder, and along the stream-side alders
and willows only.  And that would be a very fair example of the great law
of the struggle for existence, which causes the competition of species.

What is that?

Madam How is very stern, though she is always perfectly just; and
therefore she makes every living thing fight for its life, and earn its
bread, from its birth till its death; and rewards it exactly according to
its deserts, and neither more nor less.

And the competition of species means, that each thing, and kind of
things, has to compete against the things round it; and to see which is
the stronger; and the stronger live, and breed, and spread, and the
weaker die out.

But that is very hard.

I know it, my child, I know it.  But so it is.  And Madam How, no doubt,
would be often very clumsy and very cruel, without meaning it, because
she never sees beyond her own nose, or thinks at all about the
consequences of what she is doing.  But Lady Why, who does think about
consequences, is her mistress, and orders her about for ever.  And Lady
Why is, I believe, as loving as she is wise; and therefore we must trust
that she guides this great war between living things, and takes care that
Madam How kills nothing which ought not to die, and takes nothing away
without putting something more beautiful and something more useful in its
place; and that even if England were, which God forbid, overrun once more
with forests and bramble-brakes, that too would be of use somehow,
somewhere, somewhen, in the long ages which are to come hereafter.

And you must remember, too, that since men came into the world with
rational heads on their shoulders, Lady Why has been handing over more
and more of Madam How's work to them, and some of her own work too: and
bids them to put beautiful and useful things in the place of ugly and
useless ones; so that now it is men's own fault if they do not use their
wits, and do by all the world what they have done by these
pastures--change it from a barren moor into a rich hay-field, by copying
the laws of Madam How, and making grass compete against heath.  But you
look thoughtful: what is it you want to know?

Why, you say all living things must fight and scramble for what they can
get from each other: and must not I too?  For I am a living thing.

Ah, that is the old question, which our Lord answered long ago, and said,
"Be not anxious what ye shall eat or what ye shall drink, or wherewithal
you shall be clothed.  For after all these things do the heathen seek,
and your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.  But
seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these
things shall be added to you."  A few, very few, people have taken that
advice.  But they have been just the salt of the earth, which has kept
mankind from decaying.

But what has that to do with it?

See.  You are a living thing, you say.  Are you a plant?


Are you an animal?

I do not know.  Yes.  I suppose I am.  I eat, and drink, and sleep, just
as dogs and cats do.

Yes.  There is no denying that.  No one knew that better than St. Paul
when he told men that they had a flesh; that is, a body, and an animal's
nature in them.  But St. Paul told them--of course he was not the first
to say so, for all the wise heathens have known that--that there was
something more in us, which he called a spirit.  Some call it now the
moral sentiment, some one thing, some another, but we will keep to the
old word: we shall not find a better.

Yes, I know that I have a spirit, a soul.

Better to say that you are a spirit.  But what does St. Paul say?  That
our spirit is to conquer our flesh, and keep it down.  That the man in
us, in short, which is made in the likeness of God, is to conquer the
animal in us, which is made in the likeness of the dog and the cat, and
sometimes (I fear) in the likeness of the ape or the pig.  You would not
wish to be like a cat, much less like an ape or a pig?

Of course not.

Then do not copy them, by competing and struggling for existence against
other people.

What do you mean?

Did you never watch the pigs feeding?

Yes, and how they grudge and quarrel, and shove each other's noses out of
the trough, and even bite each other because they are so jealous which
shall get most.

That is it.  And how the biggest pig drives the others away, and would
starve them while he got fat, if the man did not drive him off in his

Oh, yes; I know.

Then no wiser than those pigs are worldly men who compete, and grudge,
and struggle with each other, which shall get most money, most fame, most
power over their fellow-men.  They will tell you, my child, that that is
the true philosophy, and the true wisdom; that competition is the natural
law of society, and the source of wealth and prosperity.  Do not you
listen to them.  That is the wisdom of this world, which the flesh
teaches the animals; and those who follow it, like the animals, will
perish.  Such men are not even as wise as Sweep the retriever.

Not as wise as Sweep?

Not they.  Sweep will not take away Victor's bone, though he is ten times
as big as Victor, and could kill him in a moment; and when he catches a
rabbit, does he eat it himself?

Of course not; he brings it and lays it down at our feet.

Because he likes better to do his duty, and be praised for it, than to
eat the rabbit, dearly as he longs to eat it.

But he is only an animal.  Who taught him to be generous, and dutiful,
and faithful?

Who, indeed!  Not we, you know that, for he has grown up with us since a
puppy.  How he learnt it, and his parents before him, is a mystery, of
which we can only say, God has taught them, we know not how.  But see
what has happened--that just because dogs have learnt not to be selfish
and to compete--that is, have become civilised and tame--therefore we let
them live with us, and love them.  Because they try to be good in their
simple way, therefore they too have all things added to them, and live
far happier, and more comfortable lives than the selfish wolf and fox.

But why have not all animals found out that?

I cannot tell: there may be wise animals and foolish animals, as there
are wise and foolish men.  Indeed there are.  I see a very wise animal
there, who never competes; for she has learned something of the golden
lesson--that it is more blessed to give than to receive; and she acts on
what she has learnt, all day long.

Which do you mean?  Why, that is a bee.

Yes, it is a bee: and I wish I were as worthy in my place as that bee is
in hers.  I wish I could act up as well as she does to the true wisdom,
which is self-sacrifice.  For whom is that bee working?  For herself?  If
that was all, she only needs to suck the honey as she goes.  But she is
storing up the wax under her stomach, and bee-bread in her thighs--for
whom?  Not for herself only, or even for her own children: but for the
children of another bee, her queen.  For them she labours all day long,
builds for them, feeds them, nurses them, spends her love and cunning on
them.  So does that ant on the path.  She is carrying home that stick to
build for other ants' children.  So do the white ants in the tropics.
They have learnt not to compete, but to help each other; not to be
selfish, but to sacrifice themselves; and therefore they are strong.

But you told me once that ants would fight and plunder each other's
nests.  And once we saw two hives of bees fighting in the air, and
falling dead by dozens.

My child, do not men fight, and kill each other by thousands with sharp
shot and cold steel, because, though they have learnt the virtue of
patriotism, they have not yet learnt that of humanity?  We must not blame
the bees and ants if they are no wiser than men.  At least they are wise
enough to stand up for their country, that is, their hive, and work for
it, and die for it, if need be; and that makes them strong.

But how does that make them strong?

How, is a deep question, and one I can hardly answer yet.  But that it
has made them so there is no doubt.  Look at the solitary bees--the
governors as we call them, who live in pairs, in little holes in the
banks.  How few of them there are; and they never seem to increase in
numbers.  Then look at the hive bees, how, just because they are
civilised,--that is, because they help each other, and feed each other,
instead of being solitary and selfish,--they breed so fast, and get so
much food, that if they were not killed for their honey, they would soon
become a nuisance, and drive us out of the parish.

But then we give them their hives ready made.

True.  But in old forest countries, where trees decay and grow hollow,
the bees breed in them.

Yes.  I remember the bee tree in the fir avenue.

Well then, in many forests in hot countries the bees swarm in hollow
trees; and they, and the ants, and the white ants, have it all their own
way, and are lords and masters, driving the very wild beasts before them,
while the ants and white ants eat up all gardens, and plantations, and
clothes, and furniture; till it is a serious question whether in some hot
countries man will ever be able to settle, so strong have the ants grown,
by ages of civilisation, and not competing against their brothers and

But may I not compete for prizes against the other boys?

Well, there is no harm in that; for you do not harm the others, even if
you win.  They will have learnt all the more, while trying for the prize;
and so will you, even if you don't get it.  But I tell you fairly, trying
for prizes is only fit for a child; and when you become a man, you must
put away childish things--competition among the rest.

But surely I may try to be better and wiser and more learned than
everybody else?

My dearest child, why try for that?  Try to be as good, and wise, and
learned as you can, and if you find any man, or ten thousand men,
superior to you, thank God for it.  Do you think that there can be too
much wisdom in the world?

Of course not: but I should like to be the wisest man in it.

Then you would only have the heaviest burden of all men on your


Because you would be responsible for more foolish people than any one
else.  Remember what wise old Moses said, when some one came and told him
that certain men in the camp were prophesying--"Would God all the Lord's
people did prophesy!"  Yes; it would have saved Moses many a heartache,
and many a sleepless night, if all the Jews had been wise as he was, and
wiser still.  So do not you compete with good and wise men, but simply
copy them: and whatever you do, do not compete with the wolves, and the
apes, and the swine of this world; for that is a game at which you are
sure to be beaten.


Because Lady Why, if she loves you (as I trust she does), will take care
that you are beaten, lest you should fancy it was really profitable to
live like a cunning sort of animal, and not like a true man.  And how she
will do that I can tell you.  She will take care that you always come
across a worse man than you are trying to be,--a more apish man, who can
tumble and play monkey-tricks for people's amusement better than you can;
or a more swinish man, who can get at more of the pig's-wash than you
can; or a more wolfish man, who will eat you up if you do not get out of
his way; and so she will disappoint and disgust you, my child, with that
greedy, selfish, vain animal life, till you turn round and see your
mistake, and try to live the true human life, which also is divine;--to
be just and honourable, gentle and forgiving, generous and useful--in one
word, to fear God, and keep His commandments: and as you live that life,
you will find that, by the eternal laws of Lady Why, all other things
will be added to you; that people will be glad to know you, glad to help
you, glad to employ you, because they see that you will be of use to
them, and will do them no harm.  And if you meet (as you will meet) with
people better and wiser than yourself, then so much the better for you;
for they will love you, and be glad to teach you when they see that you
are living the unselfish and harmless life; and that you come to them,
not as foolish Critias came to Socrates, to learn political cunning, and
become a selfish and ambitious tyrant, but as wise Plato came, that he
might learn the laws of Lady Why, and love them for her sake, and teach
them to all mankind.  And so you, like the plants and animals, will get
your deserts exactly, without competing and struggling for existence as
they do.

And all this has come out of looking at the hay-field and the wild moor.

Why not?  There is an animal in you, and there is a man in you.  If the
animal gets the upper hand, all your character will fall back into wild
useless moor; if the man gets the upper hand, all your character will be
cultivated into rich and fertile field.  Choose.

Now come down home.  The haymakers are resting under the hedge.  The
horses are dawdling home to the farm.  The sun is getting low, and the
shadows long.  Come home, and go to bed while the house is fragrant with
the smell of hay, and dream that you are still playing among the
haycocks.  When you grow old, you will have other and sadder dreams.


Hullo! hi! wake up.  Jump out of bed, and come to the window, and see
where you are.

What a wonderful place!

So it is: though it is only poor old Ireland.  Don't you recollect that
when we started I told you we were going to Ireland, and through it to
the World's End; and here we are now safe at the end of the old world,
and beyond us the great Atlantic, and beyond that again, thousands of
miles away, the new world, which will be rich and prosperous, civilised
and noble, thousands of years hence, when this old world, it may be, will
be dead, and little children there will be reading in their history books
of Ancient England and of Ancient France, as you now read of Greece and

But what a wonderful place it is!  What are those great green things
standing up in the sky, all over purple ribs and bars, with their tops
hid in the clouds?

Those are mountains; the bones of some old world, whose poor bare sides
Madam How is trying to cover with rich green grass.

And how far off are they?

How I should like to walk up to the top of that one which looks quite

You will find it a long walk up there; three miles, I dare say, over
black bogs and banks of rock, and up corries and cliffs which you could
not climb.  There are plenty of cows on that mountain: and yet they look
so small, you could not see them, nor I either, without a glass.  That
long white streak, zigzagging down the mountain side, is a roaring
cataract of foam five hundred feet high, full now with last night's rain;
but by this afternoon it will have dwindled to a little thread; and to-
morrow, when you get up, if no more rain has come down, it will be gone.
Madam How works here among the mountains swiftly and hugely, and
sometimes terribly enough; as you shall see when you have had your
breakfast, and come down to the bridge with me.

But what a beautiful place it is!  Flowers and woods and a lawn; and what
is that great smooth patch in the lawn just under the window?

Is it an empty flower-bed?

Ah, thereby hangs a strange tale.  We will go and look at it after
breakfast, and then you shall see with your own eyes one of the wonders
which I have been telling you of.

And what is that shining between the trees?


Is it a lake?

Not a lake, though there are plenty round here; that is salt water, not
fresh.  Look away to the right, and you see it through the opening of the
woods again and again: and now look above the woods.  You see a faint
blue line, and gray and purple lumps like clouds, which rest upon it far
away.  That, child, is the great Atlantic Ocean, and those are islands in
the far west.  The water which washes the bottom of the lawn was but a
few months ago pouring out of the Gulf of Mexico, between the Bahamas and
Florida, and swept away here as the great ocean river of warm water which
we call the Gulf Stream, bringing with it out of the open ocean the
shoals of mackerel, and the porpoises and whales which feed upon them.
Some fine afternoon we will run down the bay and catch strange fishes,
such as you never saw before, and very likely see a living whale.

What? such a whale as they get whalebone from, and which eats sea-moths?

No, they live far north, in the Arctic circle; these are grampuses, and
bottle-noses, which feed on fish; not so big as the right whales, but
quite big enough to astonish you, if one comes up and blows close to the
boat.  Get yourself dressed and come down, and then we will go out; we
shall have plenty to see and talk of at every step.

Now, you have finished your breakfast at last, so come along, and we
shall see what we shall see.  First run out across the gravel, and
scramble up that bank of lawn, and you will see what you fancied was an
empty flower-bed.

Why, it is all hard rock.

Ah, you are come into the land of rocks now: out of the land of sand and
gravel; out of a soft young corner of the world into a very hard, old,
weather-beaten corner; and you will see rocks enough, and too many for
the poor farmers, before you go home again.

But how beautifully smooth and flat the rock is: and yet it is all

What is it like?

Like--like the half of a shell.

Not badly said, but think again.

Like--like--I know what it is like.  Like the back of some great monster
peeping up through the turf.

You have got it.  Such rocks as these are called in Switzerland "roches
moutonnees," because they are, people fancy, like sheep's backs.  Now
look at the cracks and layers in it.  They run across the stone; they
have nothing to do with the shape of it.  You see that?

Yes: but here are cracks running across them, all along the stone, till
the turf hides them.

Look at them again; they are no cracks; they do not go into the stone.

I see.  They are scratched; something like those on the elder-stem at
home, where the cats sharpen their claws.  But it would take a big cat to
make them.

Do you recollect what I told you of Madam How's hand, more flexible than
any hand of man, and yet strong enough to grind the mountains into paste?

I know.  Ice! ice! ice!  But are these really ice-marks?

Child, on the place where we now stand, over rich lawns, and warm woods,
and shining lochs, lay once on a time hundreds, it may be thousands, of
feet of solid ice, crawling off yonder mountain-tops into the ocean there
outside; and this is one of its tracks.  See how the scratches all point
straight down the valley, and straight out to sea.  Those mountains are
2000 feet high: but they were much higher once; for the ice has planed
the tops off them.  Then, it seems to me, the ice sank, and left the
mountains standing out of it about half their height, and at that level
it stayed, till it had planed down all those lower moors of smooth bare
rock between us and the Western ocean; and then it sank again, and
dwindled back, leaving moraines (that is, heaps of dirt and stones) all
up these valleys here and there, till at the last it melted all away, and
poor old Ireland became fit to live in again.  We will go down the bay
some day and look at those moraines, some of them quite hills of earth,
and then you will see for yourself how mighty a chisel the ice-chisel
was, and what vast heaps of chips it has left behind.  Now then, down
over the lawn towards the bridge.  Listen to the river, louder and louder
every step we take.

What a roar!  Is there a waterfall there?

No.  It is only the flood.  And underneath the roar of that flood, do you
not hear a deeper note--a dull rumbling, as if from underground?

Yes.  What is it?

The rolling of great stones under water, which are being polished against
each other, as they hurry toward the sea.  Now, up on the parapet of the
bridge.  I will hold you tight.  Look and see Madam How's rain-spade at
work.  Look at the terrible yellow torrent below us, almost filling up
the arches of the bridge, and leaping high in waves and crests of foam.

Oh, the bridge is falling into the water!

Not a bit.  You are not accustomed to see water running below you at ten
miles an hour.  Never mind that feeling.  It will go off in a few
seconds.  Look; the water is full six feet up the trunks of the trees;
over the grass and the king fern, and the tall purple loose-strife--

Oh!  Here comes a tree dancing down!

And there are some turfs which have been cut on the mountain.  And there
is a really sad sight.  Look what comes now.


Why, they are sheep.

Yes.  And a sad loss they will be to some poor fellow in the glen above.

And oh!  Look at the pig turning round and round solemnly in the corner
under the rock.  Poor piggy!  He ought to have been at home safe in his
stye, and not wandering about the hills.  And what are these coming now?

Butter firkins, I think.  Yes.  This is a great flood.  It is well if
there are no lives lost.

But is it not cruel of Madam How to make such floods?

Well--let us ask one of these men who are looking over the bridge.

Why, what does he say?  I cannot understand one word.  Is he talking

Irish-English at least: but what he said was, that it was a mighty fine
flood entirely, praised be God; and would help on the potatoes and oats
after the drought, and set the grass growing again on the mountains.

And what is he saying now?

That the river will be full of salmon and white trout after this.

What does he mean?

That under our feet now, if we could see through the muddy water, dozens
of salmon and sea-trout are running up from the sea.

What! up this furious stream?

Yes.  What would be death to you is pleasure and play to them.  Up they
are going, to spawn in the little brooks among the mountains; and all of
them are the best of food, fattened on the herrings and sprats in the sea
outside, Madam How's free gift, which does not cost man a farthing, save
the expense of nets and rods to catch them.

How can that be?

I will give you a bit of political economy.  Suppose a pound of salmon is
worth a shilling; and a pound of beef is worth a shilling likewise.
Before we can eat the beef, it has cost perhaps tenpence to make that
pound of beef out of turnips and grass and oil-cake; and so the country
is only twopence a pound richer for it.  But Mr. Salmon has made himself
out of what he eats in the sea, and so has cost nothing; and the shilling
a pound is all clear gain.  There--you don't quite understand that piece
of political economy.  Indeed, it is only in the last two or three years
that older heads than yours have got to understand it, and have passed
the wise new salmon laws, by which the rivers will be once more as rich
with food as the land is, just as they were hundreds of years ago.  But
now, look again at the river.  What do you think makes it so yellow and

Dirt, of course.

And where does that come from?

Off the mountains?

Yes.  Tons on tons of white mud are being carried down past us now; and
where will they go?

Into the sea?

Yes, and sink there in the still water, to make new strata at the bottom;
and perhaps in them, ages hence, some one will find the bones of those
sheep, and of poor Mr. Pig too, fossil--

And the butter firkins too.  What fun to find a fossil butter firkin!

But now lift up your eyes to the jagged mountain crests, and their dark
sides all laced with silver streams.  Out of every crack and cranny there
aloft, the rain is bringing down dirt, and stones too, which have been
split off by the winter's frosts, deepening every little hollow, and
sharpening every peak, and making the hills more jagged and steep year by

When the ice went away, the hills were all scraped smooth and round by
the glaciers, like the flat rock upon the lawn; and ugly enough they must
have looked, most like great brown buns.  But ever since then, Madam How
has been scooping them out again by her water-chisel into deep glens,
mighty cliffs, sharp peaks, such as you see aloft, and making the old
hills beautiful once more.  Why, even the Alps in Switzerland have been
carved out by frost and rain, out of some great flat.  The very peak of
the Matterhorn, of which you have so often seen a picture, is but one
single point left of some enormous bun of rock.  All the rest has been
carved away by rain and frost; and some day the Matterhorn itself will be
carved away, and its last stone topple into the glacier at its foot.  See,
as we have been talking, we have got into the woods.

Oh, what beautiful woods, just like our own.

Not quite.  There are some things growing here which do not grow at home,
as you will soon see.  And there are no rocks at home, either, as there
are here.

How strange, to see trees growing out of rocks!  How do their roots get
into the stone?

There is plenty of rich mould in the cracks for them to feed on--

   "Health to the oak of the mountains; he trusts to the might of the
   Deeply he mines, and in peace feeds on the wealth of the stone."

How many sorts of trees there are--oak, and birch and nuts, and mountain-
ash, and holly and furze, and heather.

And if you went to some of the islands in the lake up in the glen, you
would find wild arbutus--strawberry-tree, as you call it.  We will go and
get some one day or other.

How long and green the grass is, even on the rocks, and the ferns, and
the moss, too.  Everything seems richer here than at home.

Of course it is.  You are here in the land of perpetual spring, where
frost and snow seldom, or never comes.

Oh, look at the ferns under this rock!  I must pick some.

Pick away.  I will warrant you do not pick all the sorts.

Yes.  I have got them all now.

Not so hasty, child; there is plenty of a beautiful fern growing among
that moss, which you have passed over.  Look here.

What! that little thing a fern!

Hold it up to the light, and see.

What a lovely little thing, like a transparent sea-weed, hung on black
wire.  What is it?

Film fern, Hymenophyllum.  But what are you staring at now, with all your

Oh! that rock covered with green stars and a cloud of little white and
pink flowers growing out of them.

Aha! my good little dog!  I thought you would stand to that game when you
found it.

What is it, though?

You must answer that yourself.  You have seen it a hundred times before.

Why, it is London Pride, that grows in the garden at home.

Of course it is: but the Irish call it St. Patrick's cabbage; though it
got here a long time before St. Patrick; and St. Patrick must have been
very short of garden-stuff if he ever ate it.

But how did it get here from London?

No, no.  How did it get to London from hence?  For from this country it
came.  I suppose the English brought it home in Queen Bess's or James the
First's time.

But if it is wild here, and will grow so well in England, why do we not
find it wild in England too?

For the same reason that there are no toads or snakes in Ireland.  They
had not got as far as Ireland before Ireland was parted off from England.
And St. Patrick's cabbage, and a good many other plants, had not got as
far as England.

But why?

Why, I don't know.  But this I know: that when Madam How makes a new sort
of plant or animal, she starts it in one single place, and leaves it to
take care of itself and earn its own living--as she does you and me and
every one--and spread from that place all round as far as it can go.  So
St. Patrick's cabbage got into this south-west of Ireland, long, long
ago; and was such a brave sturdy little plant, that it clambered up to
the top of the highest mountains, and over all the rocks.  But when it
got to the rich lowlands to the eastward, in county Cork, it found all
the ground taken up already with other plants; and as they had enough to
do to live themselves, they would not let St. Patrick's cabbage settle
among them; and it had to be content with living here in the
far-west--and, what was very sad, had no means of sending word to its
brothers and sisters in the Pyrenees how it was getting on.

What do you mean?  Are you making fun of me?

Not the least.  I am only telling you a very strange story, which is
literally true.  Come, and sit down on this bench.  You can't catch that
great butterfly, he is too strong on the wing for you.

But oh, what a beautiful one!

Yes, orange and black, silver and green, a glorious creature.  But you
may see him at home sometimes: that plant close to you, you cannot see at

Why, it is only great spurge, such as grows in the woods at home.

No.  It is Irish spurge which grows here, and sometimes in Devonshire,
and then again in the west of Europe, down to the Pyrenees.  Don't touch
it.  Our wood spurge is poisonous enough, but this is worse still; if you
get a drop of its milk on your lip or eye, you will be in agonies for
half a day.  That is the evil plant with which the poachers kill the

How do they do that?

When the salmon are spawning up in the little brooks, and the water is
low, they take that spurge, and grind it between two stones under water,
and let the milk run down into the pool; and at that all the poor salmon
turn up dead.  Then comes the water-bailiff, and catches the poachers.
Then comes the policeman, with his sword at his side and his truncheon
under his arm: and then comes a "cheap journey" to Tralee Gaol, in which
those foolish poachers sit and reconsider themselves, and determine not
to break the salmon laws--at least till next time.

But why is it that this spurge, and St. Patrick's cabbage, grow only here
in the west?  If they got here of themselves, where did they come from?
All outside there is sea; and they could not float over that.

Come, I say, and sit down on this bench, and I will tell you a tale,--the
story of the Old Atlantis, the sunken land in the far West.  Old Plato,
the Greek, told legends of it, which you will read some day; and now it
seems as if those old legends had some truth in them, after all.  We are
standing now on one of the last remaining scraps of the old Atlantic
land.  Look down the bay.  Do you see far away, under, the mountains,
little islands, long and low?

Oh, yes.

Some of these are old slate, like the mountains; others are limestone;
bits of the old coral-reef to the west of Ireland which became dry land.

I know.  You told me about it.

Then that land, which is all eaten up by the waves now, once joined
Ireland to Cornwall, and to Spain, and to the Azores, and I suspect to
the Cape of Good Hope, and what is stranger, to Labrador, on the coast of
North America.

Oh!  How can you know that?

Listen, and I will give you your first lesson in what I call Bio-geology.

What a long word!

If you can find a shorter one I shall be very much obliged to you, for I
hate long words.  But what it means is,--Telling how the land has changed
in shape, by the plants and animals upon it.  And if you ever read (as
you will) Mr. Wallace's new book on the Indian Archipelago, you will see
what wonderful discoveries men may make about such questions if they will
but use their common sense.  You know the common pink heather--ling, as
we call it?

Of course.

Then that ling grows, not only here and in the north and west of Europe,
but in the Azores too; and, what is more strange, in Labrador.  Now, as
ling can neither swim nor fly, does not common sense tell you that all
those countries were probably joined together in old times?

Well: but it seems so strange.

So it is, my child; and so is everything.  But, as the fool says in

   "A long time ago the world began,
   With heigh ho, the wind and the rain."

And the wind and the rain have made strange work with the poor old world
ever since.  And that is about all that we, who are not very much wiser
than Shakespeare's fool, can say about the matter.  But again--the London
Pride grows here, and so does another saxifrage very like it, which we
call Saxifraga Geum.  Now, when I saw those two plants growing in the
Western Pyrenees, between France and Spain, and with them the beautiful
blue butterwort, which grows in these Kerry bogs--we will go and find
some--what could I say but that Spain and Ireland must have been joined

I suppose it must be so.

Again.  There is a little pink butterwort here in the bogs, which grows,
too, in dear old Devonshire and Cornwall; and also in the south-west of
Scotland.  Now, when I found that too, in the bogs near Biarritz, close
to the Pyrenees, and knew that it stretched away along the Spanish coast,
and into Portugal, what could my common sense lead me to say but that
Scotland, and Ireland, and Cornwall, and Spain were all joined once?
Those are only a few examples.  I could give you a dozen more.  For
instance, on an island away there to the west, and only in one spot,
there grows a little sort of lily, which is found I believe in Brittany,
and on the Spanish and Portuguese heaths, and even in North-west Africa.
And that Africa and Spain were joined not so very long ago at the Straits
of Gibraltar there is no doubt at all.

But where did the Mediterranean Sea run out then?

Perhaps it did not run out at all; but was a salt-water lake, like the
Caspian, or the Dead Sea.  Perhaps it ran out over what is now the
Sahara, the great desert of sand, for, that was a sea-bottom not long

But then, how was this land of Atlantis joined to the Cape of Good Hope?

I cannot say how, or when either.  But this is plain: the place in the
world where the most beautiful heaths grow is the Cape of Good Hope?  You
know I showed you Cape heaths once at the nursery gardener's at home.

Oh yes, pink, and yellow, and white; so much larger than ours.

Then it seems (I only say it seems) as if there must have been some land
once to the westward, from which the different sorts of heath spread
south-eastward to the Cape, and north-eastward into Europe.  And that
they came north-eastward into Europe seems certain; for there are no
heaths in America or Asia.

But how north-eastward?

Think.  Stand with your face to the south and think.  If a thing comes
from the south-west--from there, it must go to the north-east-towards
there.  Must it not?

Oh yes, I see.

Now then--The farther you go south-west, towards Spain, the more kinds of
heath there are, and the handsomer; as if their original home, from which
they started, was somewhere down there.

More sorts!  What sorts?

How many sorts of heath have we at home?

Three, of course: ling, and purple heath, and bottle heath.

And there are no more in all England, or Wales, or Scotland, except--Now,
listen.  In the very farthest end of Cornwall there are two more sorts,
the Cornish heath and the Orange-bell; and they say (though I never saw
it) that the Orange-bell grows near Bournemouth.

Well.  That is south and west too.

So it is: but that makes five heaths.  Now in the south and west of
Ireland all these five heaths grow, and two more: the great Irish heath,
with purple bells, and the Mediterranean heath, which flowers in spring.

Oh, I know them.  They grow in the Rhododendron beds at home.

Of course.  Now again.  If you went down to Spain, you would find all
those seven heaths, and other sorts with them, and those which are rare
in England and Ireland are common there.  About Biarritz, on the Spanish
frontier, all the moors are covered with Cornish heath, and the bogs with
Orange-bell, and lovely they are to see; and growing among them is a tall
heath six feet high, which they call there _bruyere_, or Broomheath,
because they make brooms of it: and out of its roots the "briar-root"
pipes are made.  There are other heaths about that country, too, whose
names I do not know; so that when you are there, you fancy yourself in
the very home of the heaths: but you are not.  They must have come from
some land near where the Azores are now; or how could heaths have got
past Africa, and the tropics, to the Cape of Good Hope?

It seems very wonderful, to be able to find out that there was a great
land once in the ocean all by a few little heaths.

Not by them only, child.  There are many other plants, and animals too,
which make one think that so it must have been.  And now I will tell you
something stranger still.  There may have been a time--some people say
that there must--when Africa and South America were joined by land.

Africa and South America!  Was that before the heaths came here, or

I cannot tell: but I think, probably after.  But this is certain, that
there must have been a time when figs, and bamboos, and palms, and
sarsaparillas, and many other sorts of plants could get from Africa to
America, or the other way, and indeed almost round the world.  About the
south of France and Italy you will see one beautiful sarsaparilla, with
hooked prickles, zigzagging and twining about over rocks and ruins,
trunks and stems: and when you do, if you have understanding, it will
seem as strange to you as it did to me to remember that the home of the
sarsaparillas is not in Europe, but in the forests of Brazil, and the
River Plate.

Oh, I have heard about their growing there, and staining the rivers
brown, and making them good medicine to drink: but I never thought there
were any in Europe.

There are only one or two, and how they got there is a marvel indeed.  But
now--If there was not dry land between Africa and South America, how did
the cats get into America?  For they cannot swim.

Cats?  People might have brought them over.

Jaguars and Pumas, which you read of in Captain Mayne Reid's books, are
cats, and so are the Ocelots or tiger cats.

Oh, I saw them at the Zoological Gardens.

But no one would bring them over, I should think, except to put them in
the Zoo.

Not unless they were very foolish.

And much stronger and cleverer than the savages of South America.  No,
those jaguars and pumus have been in America for ages: and there are
those who will tell you--and I think they have some reason on their
side--that the jaguar, with his round patches of spots, was once very
much the same as the African and Indian leopard, who can climb trees
well.  So when he got into the tropic forests of America, he took to the
trees, and lived among the branches, feeding on sloths and monkeys, and
never coming to the ground for weeks, till he grew fatter and stronger
and far more terrible than his forefathers.  And they will tell you, too,
that the puma was, perhaps--I only say perhaps--something like the lion,
who (you know) has no spots.  But when he got into the forests, he found
very little food under the trees, only a very few deer; and so he was
starved, and dwindled down to the poor little sheep-stealing rogue he is
now, of whom nobody is afraid.

Oh, yes!  I remember now A. said he and his men killed six in one day.
But do you think it is all true about the pumas and jaguars?

My child, I don't say that it is true: but only that it is likely to be
true.  In science we must be cautious and modest, and ready to alter our
minds whenever we learn fresh facts; only keeping sure of one thing, that
the truth, when we find it out, will be far more wonderful than any
notions of ours.  See!  As we have been talking we have got nearly home:
and luncheon must be ready.

* * * * *

Why are you opening your eyes at me like the dog when he wants to go out

Because I want to go out.  But I don't want to go out walking.  I want to
go in the yacht.

In the yacht?  It does not belong to me.

Oh, that is only fun.  I know everybody is going out in it to see such a
beautiful island full of ferns, and have a picnic on the rocks; and I
know you are going.

Then you know more than I do myself.

But I heard them say you were going.

Then they know more than I do myself.

But would you not like to go?

I might like to go very much indeed; but as I have been knocked about at
sea a good deal, and perhaps more than I intend to be again, it is no
novelty to me, and there might be other things which I liked still
better: for instance, spending the afternoon with you.

Then am I not to go?

I think not.  Don't pull such a long face: but be a man, and make up your
mind to it, as the geese do to going barefoot.

But why may I not go?

Because I am not Madam How, but your Daddy.

What can that have to do with it?

If you asked Madam How, do you know what she would answer in a moment, as
civilly and kindly as could be?  She would say--Oh yes, go by all means,
and please yourself, my pretty little man.  My world is the Paradise
which the Irishman talked of, in which "a man might do what was right in
the sight of his own eyes, and what was wrong too, as he liked it."

Then Madam How would let me go in the yacht?

Of course she would, or jump overboard when you were in it; or put your
finger in the fire, and your head afterwards; or eat Irish spurge, and
die like the salmon; or anything else you liked.  Nobody is so indulgent
as Madam How: and she would be the dearest old lady in the world, but for
one ugly trick that she has.  She never tells any one what is coming, but
leaves them to find it out for themselves.  She lets them put their
fingers in the fire, and never tells them that they will get burnt.

But that is very cruel and treacherous of her.

My boy, our business is not to call hard names, but to take things as we
find them, as the Highlandman said when he ate the braxy mutton.  Now
shall I, because I am your Daddy, tell you what Madam How would not have
told you?  When you get on board the yacht, you will think it all very
pleasant for an hour, as long as you are in the bay.  But presently you
will get a little bored, and run about the deck, and disturb people, and
want to sit here, there, and everywhere, which I should not like.  And
when you get beyond that headland, you will find the great rollers coming
in from the Atlantic, and the cutter tossing and heaving as you never
felt before, under a burning sun.  And then my merry little young
gentleman will begin to feel a little sick; and then very sick, and more
miserable than he ever felt in his life; and wish a thousand times over
that he was safe at home, even doing sums in long division; and he will
give a great deal of trouble to various kind ladies--which no one has a
right to do, if he can help it.

Of course I do not wish to be sick: only it looks such beautiful weather.

And so it is: but don't fancy that last night's rain and wind can have
passed without sending in such a swell as will frighten you, when you see
the cutter climbing up one side of a wave, and running down the other;
Madam How tells me that, though she will not tell you yet.

Then why do they go out?

Because they are accustomed to it.  They have come hither all round from
Cowes, past the Land's End, and past Cape Clear, and they are not afraid
or sick either.  But shall I tell you how you would end this evening?--at
least so I suspect.  Lying miserable in a stuffy cabin, on a sofa, and
not quite sure whether you were dead or alive, till you were bundled into
a boat about twelve o'clock at night, when you ought to be safe asleep,
and come home cold, and wet, and stupid, and ill, and lie in bed all to-

But will they be wet and cold?

I cannot be sure; but from the look of the sky there to westward, I think
some of them will be.  So do you make up your mind to stay with me.  But
if it is fine and smooth to-morrow, perhaps we may row down the bay, and
see plenty of wonderful things.

But why is it that Madam How will not tell people beforehand what will
happen to them, as you have told me?

Now I will tell you a great secret, which, alas! every one has not found
out yet.  Madam How will teach you, but only by experience.  Lady Why
will teach you, but by something very different--by something which has
been called--and I know no better names for it--grace and inspiration; by
putting into your heart feelings which no man, not even your father and
mother, can put there; by making you quick to love what is right, and
hate what is wrong, simply because they are right and wrong, though you
don't know why they are right and wrong; by making you teachable, modest,
reverent, ready to believe those who are older and wiser than you when
they tell you what you could never find out for yourself: and so you will
be prudent, that is provident, foreseeing, and know what will happen if
you do so-and-so; and therefore what is really best and wisest for you.

But why will she be kind enough to do that for me?

For the very same reason that I do it.  For God's sake.  Because God is
your Father in heaven, as I am your father on earth, and He does not wish
His little child to be left to the hard teaching of Nature and Law, but
to be helped on by many, many unsought and undeserved favours, such as
are rightly called "Means of Grace;" and above all by the Gospel and good
news that you are God's child, and that God loves you, and has helped and
taught you, and will help you and teach you, in a thousand ways of which
you are not aware, if only you will be a wise child, and listen to Lady
Why, when she cries from her Palace of Wisdom, and the feast which she
has prepared, "Whoso is simple let him turn in hither;" and says to him
who wants understanding--"Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine
which I have mingled."

"Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.  By me princes rule, and
nobles, even all the judges of the earth.  I love them that love me; and
those that seek me early shall find me.  Riches and honour are with me;
yea, durable riches and righteousness."

Yes, I will try and listen to Lady Why: but what will happen if I do not?

That will happen to you, my child--but God forbid it ever should
happen--which happens to wicked kings and rulers, and all men, even the
greatest and cleverest, if they do not choose to reign by Lady Why's
laws, and decree justice according to her eternal ideas of what is just,
but only do what seems pleasant and profitable to themselves.  On them
Lady Why turns round, and says--for she, too, can be awful, ay dreadful,
when she needs--

"Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and
no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have
none of my reproof--"  And then come words so terrible, that I will not
speak them here in this happy place: but what they mean is this:--

That these foolish people are handed over--as you and I shall be if we do
wrong wilfully--to Madam How and her terrible school-house, which is
called Nature and the Law, to be treated just as the plants and animals
are treated, because they did not choose to behave like men and children
of God.  And there they learn, whether they like or not, what they might
have learnt from Lady Why all along.  They learn the great law, that as
men sow so they will reap; as they make their bed so they will lie on it:
and Madam How can teach that as no one else can in earth or heaven: only,
unfortunately for her scholars, she is apt to hit so hard with her rod,
which is called Experience, that they never get over it; and therefore
most of those who will only be taught by Nature and Law are killed, poor
creatures, before they have learnt their lesson; as many a savage tribe
is destroyed, ay and great and mighty nations too--the old Roman Empire
among them.

And the poor Jews, who were carried away captive to Babylon?

Yes; they would not listen to Lady Why, and so they were taken in hand by
Madam How, and were seventy years in her terrible school-house, learning
a lesson which, to do them justice, they never forgot again.  But now we
will talk of something pleasanter.  We will go back to Lady Why, and
listen to her voice.  It sounds gentle and cheerful enough just now.

What? is she speaking to us now?

Hush! open your eyes and ears once more, for you are growing sleepy with
my long sermon.  Watch the sleepy shining water, and the sleepy green
mountains.  Listen to the sleepy lapping of the ripple, and the sleepy
sighing of the woods, and let Lady Why talk to you through them in "songs
without words," because they are deeper than all words, till you, too,
fall asleep with your head upon my knee.

But what does she say?

She says--"Be still.  The fulness of joy is peace."  There, you are fast
asleep; and perhaps that is the best thing for you; for sleep will (so I
am informed, though I never saw it happen, nor any one else) put fresh
gray matter into your brain; or save the wear and tear of the old gray
matter; or something else--when they have settled what it is to do: and
if so, you will wake up with a fresh fiddle-string to your little fiddle
of a brain, on which you are playing new tunes all day long.  So much the
better: but when I believe that your brain is you, pretty boy, then I
shall believe also that the fiddler is his fiddle.


Come: I suppose you consider yourself quite a good sailor by now?

Oh, yes.  I have never been ill yet, though it has been quite rough again
and again.

What you call rough, little man.  But as you are grown such a very good
sailor, and also as the sea is all but smooth, I think we will have a
sail in the yacht to-day, and that a tolerably long one.

Oh, how delightful! but I thought we were going home; and the things are
all packed up.

And why should we not go homewards in the yacht, things and all?

What, all the way to England?

No, not so far as that; but these kind people, when they came into the
harbour last night, offered to take us up the coast to a town, where we
will sleep, and start comfortably home to-morrow morning.  So now you
will have a chance of seeing something of the great sea outside, and of
seeing, perhaps, the whale himself.

I hope we shall see the whale.  The men say he has been outside the
harbour every day this week after the fish.

Very good.  Now do you keep quiet, and out of the way, while we are
getting ready to go on board; and take a last look at this pretty place,
and all its dear kind people.

And the dear kind dogs too, and the cat and the kittens.

* * * * *

Now, come along, and bundle into the boat, if you have done bidding every
one good-bye; and take care you don't slip down in the ice-groovings, as
you did the other day.  There, we are off at last.

Oh, look at them all on the rock watching us and waving their
handkerchiefs; and Harper and Paddy too, and little Jimsy and Isy, with
their fat bare feet, and their arms round the dogs' necks.  I am so sorry
to leave them all.

Not sorry to go home?

No, but--They have been so kind; and the dogs were so kind.  I am sure
they knew we were going, and were sorry too.

Perhaps they were.  They knew we were going away, at all events.  They
know what bringing out boxes and luggage means well enough.

Sam knew, I am sure; but he did not care for us.  He was only uneasy
because he thought Harper was going, and he should lose his shooting; and
as soon as he saw Harper was not getting into the boat, he sat down and
scratched himself, quite happy.  But do dogs think?

Of course they do, only they do not think in words, as we do.

But how can they think without words?

That is very difficult for you and me to imagine, because we always think
in words.  They must think in pictures, I suppose, by remembering things
which have happened to them.  You and I do that in our dreams.  I suspect
that savages, who have very few words to express their thoughts with,
think in pictures, like their own dogs.  But that is a long story.  We
must see about getting on board now, and under way.

* * * * *

Well, and what have you been doing?

Oh, I looked all over the yacht, at the ropes and curious things; and
then I looked at the mountains, till I was tired; and then I heard you
and some gentleman talking about the land sinking, and I listened.  There
was no harm in that?

None at all.  But what did you hear him say?

That the land must be sinking here, because there were peat-bogs
everywhere below high-water mark.  Is that true?

Quite true; and that peat would never have been formed where the salt
water could get at it, as it does now every tide.

But what was it he said about that cliff over there?

He said that cliff on our right, a hundred feet high, was plainly once
joined on to that low island on our left.

What, that long bank of stones, with a house on it?

That is no house.  That is a square lump of mud, the last remaining bit
of earth which was once the moraine of a glacier.  Every year it crumbles
into the sea more and more; and in a few years it will be all gone, and
nothing left but the great round boulder-stones which the ice brought
down from the glaciers behind us.

But how does he know that it was once joined to the cliff?

Because that cliff, and the down behind it, where the cows are fed, is
made up, like the island, of nothing but loose earth and stones; and that
is why it is bright and green beside the gray rocks and brown heather of
the moors at its foot.  He knows that it must be an old glacier moraine;
and he has reason to think that moraine once stretched right across the
bay to the low island, and perhaps on to the other shore, and was eaten
out by the sea as the land sank down.

But how does he know that the land sank?

Of that, he says, he is quite certain; and this is what he says.--Suppose
there was a glacier here, where we are sailing now: it would end in an
ice cliff, such as you have seen a picture of in Captain Cook's Voyages,
of which you are so fond.  You recollect the pictures of Christmas Sound
and Possession Bay?

Oh yes, and pictures of Greenland and Spitzbergen too, with glaciers in
the sea.

Then icebergs would break off from that cliff, and carry all the dirt and
stones out to sea, perhaps hundreds of miles away, instead of letting it
drop here in a heap; and what did fall in a heap here the sea would wash
down at once, and smooth it over the sea-bottom, and never let it pile up
in a huge bank like that.  Do you understand?

I think I do.

Therefore, he says, that great moraine must have been built upon dry
land, in the open air; and must have sunk since into the sea, which is
gnawing at it day and night, and will some day eat it all up, as it would
eat up all the dry land in the world, if Madam How was not continually
lifting up fresh land, to make up for what the sea has carried off.

Oh, look there! some one has caught a fish, and is hauling it up.  What a
strange creature!  It is not a mackerel, nor a gurnet, nor a pollock.

How do you know that?

Why, it is running along the top of the water like a snake; and they
never do that.  Here it comes.  It has got a long beak, like a snipe.  Oh,
let me see.

See if you like: but don't get in the way.  Remember you are but a little

What is it? a snake with a bird's head?

No: a snake has no fins; and look at its beak: it is full of little
teeth, which no bird has.  But a very curious fellow he is, nevertheless:
and his name is Gar-fish.  Some call him Green-bone, because his bones
are green.

But what kind of fish is he?  He is like nothing I ever saw.

I believe he is nearest to a pike, though his backbone is different from
a pike, and from all other known fishes.

But is he not very rare?

Oh no: he comes to Devonshire and Cornwall with the mackerel, as he has
come here; and in calm weather he will swim on the top of the water, and
play about, and catch flies, and stand bolt upright with his long nose in
the air; and when the fisher-boys throw him a stick, he will jump over it
again and again, and play with it in the most ridiculous way.

And what will they do with him?

Cut him up for bait, I suppose, for he is not very good to eat.

Certainly, he does smell very nasty.

Have you only just found out that?  Sometimes when I have caught one, he
has made the boat smell so that I was glad to throw him overboard, and so
he saved his life by his nastiness.  But they will catch plenty of
mackerel now; for where he is they are; and where they are, perhaps the
whale will be; for we are now well outside the harbour, and running
across the open bay; and lucky for you that there are no rollers coming
in from the Atlantic, and spouting up those cliffs in columns of white

* * * * *


Ah!  Who was that coughed just behind the ship?

Who, indeed? look round and see.

There is nobody.  There could not be in the sea.

Look--there, a quarter of a mile away.

Oh!  What is that turning over in the water, like a great black wheel?
And a great tooth on it, and--oh! it is gone!

Never mind.  It will soon show itself again.

But what was it?

The whale: one of them, at least; for the men say there are two different
ones about the bay.  That black wheel was part of his back, as he turned
down; and the tooth on it was his back-fin.

But the noise, like a giant's cough?

Rather like the blast of a locomotive just starting.  That was his

What? as loud as that?

Why not?  He is a very big fellow, and has big lungs.

How big is he?

I cannot say: perhaps thirty or forty feet long.  We shall be able to see
better soon.  He will come up again, and very likely nearer us, where
those birds are.

I don't want him to come any nearer.

You really need not be afraid.  He is quite harmless.

But he might run against the yacht.

He might: and so might a hundred things happen which never do.  But I
never heard of one of these whales running against a vessel; so I suppose
he has sense enough to know that the yacht is no concern of his, and to
keep out of its way.

But why does he make that tremendous noise only once, and then go under
water again?

You must remember that he is not a fish.  A fish takes the water in
through his mouth continually, and it runs over his gills, and out behind
through his gill-covers.  So the gills suck-up the air out of the water,
and send it into the fish's blood, just as they do in the newt-larva.

Yes, I know.

But the whale breathes with lungs like you and me; and when he goes under
water he has to hold his breath, as you and I have.

What a long time he can hold it.

Yes.  He is a wonderful diver.  Some whales, they say, will keep under
for an hour.  But while he is under, mind, the air in his lungs is
getting foul, and full of carbonic acid, just as it would in your lungs,
if you held your breath.  So he is forced to come up at last: and then
out of his blowers, which are on the top of his head, he blasts out all
the foul breath, and with it the water which has got into his mouth, in a
cloud of spray.  Then he sucks in fresh air, as much as he wants, and
dives again, as you saw him do just now.

And what does he do under water?

Look--and you will see.  Look at those birds.  We will sail up to them;
for Mr. Whale will probably rise among them soon.

Oh, what a screaming and what a fighting!  How many sorts there are!  What
are those beautiful little ones, like great white swallows, with crested
heads and forked tails, who hover, and then dip down and pick up

Terns--sea-swallows.  And there are gulls in hundreds, you see, large and
small, gray-backed and black-backed; and over them all two or three great
gannets swooping round and round.

Oh! one has fallen into the sea!

Yes, with a splash just like a cannon ball.  And here he comes up again,
with a fish in his beak.  If he had fallen on your head, with that beak
of his, he would have split it open.  I have heard of men catching
gannets by tying a fish on a board, and letting it float; and when the
gannet strikes at it he drives his bill into the board, and cannot get it

But is not that cruel?

I think so.  Gannets are of no use, for eating, or anything else.

What a noise!  It is quite deafening.  And what are those black birds
about, who croak like crows, or parrots?

Look at them.  Some have broad bills, with a white stripe on it, and cry
something like the moor-hens at home.  Those are razor-bills.

And what are those who say "marrock," something like a parrot?

The ones with thin bills? they are guillemots, "murres" as we call them
in Devon: but in some places they call them "marrocks," from what they

And each has a little baby bird swimming behind it.  Oh! there: the
mother has cocked up her tail and dived, and the little one is swimming
about looking for her!  How it cries!  It is afraid of the yacht.

And there she comes up again, and cries "marrock" to call it.

Look at it swimming up to her, and cuddling to her, quite happy.

Quite happy.  And do you not think that any one who took a gun and shot
either that mother or that child would be both cowardly and cruel?

But they might eat them.

These sea-birds are not good to eat.  They taste too strong of fish-oil.
They are of no use at all, except that the gulls' and terns' feathers are
put into girls' hats.

Well they might find plenty of other things to put in their hats.

So I think.  Yes: it would be very cruel, very cruel indeed, to do what
some do, shoot at these poor things, and leave them floating about
wounded till they die.  But I suppose, if one gave them one's mind about
such doings, and threatened to put the new Sea Fowl Act in force against
them, and fine them, and show them up in the newspapers, they would say
they meant no harm, and had never thought about its being cruel.

Then they ought to think.

They ought; and so ought you.  Half the cruelty in the world, like half
the misery, comes simply from people's not thinking; and boys are often
very cruel from mere thoughtlessness.  So when you are tempted to rob
birds' nests, or to set the dogs on a moorhen, or pelt wrens in the
hedge, think; and say--How should I like that to be done to me?

I know: but what are all the birds doing?

Look at the water, how it sparkles.  It is alive with tiny fish, "fry,"
"brett" as we call them in the West, which the mackerel are driving up to
the top.

Poor little things!  How hard on them!  The big fish at them from below,
and the birds at them from above.  And what is that?  Thousands of fish
leaping out of the water, scrambling over each other's backs.  What a
curious soft rushing roaring noise they make!

Aha!  The eaters are going to be eaten in turn.  Those are the mackerel
themselves; and I suspect they see Mr. Whale, and are scrambling out of
the way as fast as they can, lest he should swallow them down, a dozen at
a time.  Look out sharp for him now.

I hope he will not come very near.

No.  The fish are going from us and past us.  If he comes up, he will
come up astern of us, so look back.  There he is!

That?  I thought it was a boat.

Yes.  He does look very like a boat upside down.  But that is only his
head and shoulders.  He will blow next.


Oh!  What a jet of spray, like the Geysers!  And the sun made a rainbow
on the top of it.  He is quite still now.

Yes; he is taking a long breath or two.  You need not hold my hand so
tight.  His head is from us; and when he goes down he will go right away.

Oh, he is turning head over heels!  There is his back fin again.  And--Ah!
was that not a slap!  How the water boiled and foamed; and what a tail he
had!  And how the mackerel flew out of the water!

Yes.  You are a lucky boy to have seen that.  I have not seen one of
those gentlemen show his "flukes," as they call them, since I was a boy
on the Cornish coast.

Where is he gone?

Hunting mackerel, away out at sea.  But did you notice something odd
about his tail, as you call it--though it is really none?

It looked as if it was set on flat, and not upright, like a fish's.  But
why is it not a tail?

Just because it is set on flat, not upright: and learned men will tell
you that those two flukes are the "rudiments"--that is, either the
beginning, or more likely the last remains--of two hind feet.  But that
belongs to the second volume of Madam How's Book of Kind; and you have
not yet learned any of the first volume, you know, except about a few
butterflies.  Look here!  Here are more whales coming.  Don't be
frightened.  They are only little ones, mackerel-hunting, like the big

What pretty smooth things, turning head over heels, and saying, "Hush,

They don't really turn clean over; and that "Hush" is their way of

Are they the young ones of that great monster?

No; they are porpoises.  That big one is, I believe, a bottle-nose.  But
if you want to know about the kinds of whales, you must ask Dr. Flower at
the Royal College of Surgeons, and not me: and he will tell you wonderful
things about them.--How some of them have mouths full of strong teeth,
like these porpoises; and others, like the great sperm whale in the South
Sea, have huge teeth in their lower jaws, and in the upper only holes
into which those teeth fit; others like the bottle-nose, only two teeth
or so in the lower jaw; and others, like the narwhal, two straight tusks
in the upper jaw, only one of which grows, and is what you call a
narwhal's horn.

Oh yes.  I know of a walking-stick made of one.

And strangest of all, how the right-whales have a few little teeth when
they are born, which never come through the gums; but, instead, they grow
all along their gums, an enormous curtain of clotted hair, which serves
as a net to keep in the tiny sea-animals on which they feed, and let the
water strain out.

You mean whalebone?  Is whalebone hair?

So it seems.  And so is a rhinoceros's horn.  A rhinoceros used to be
hairy all over in old times: but now he carries all his hair on the end
of his nose, except a few bristles on his tail.  And the right-whale, not
to be done in oddity, carries all his on his gums.

But have no whales any hair?

No real whales: but the Manati, which is very nearly a whale, has long
bristly hair left.  Don't you remember M.'s letter about the one he saw
at Rio Janeiro?

This is all very funny: but what is the use of knowing so much about
things' teeth and hair?

What is the use of learning Latin and Greek, and a dozen things more
which you have to learn?  You don't know yet: but wiser people than you
tell you that they will be of use some day.  And I can tell you, that if
you would only study that gar-fish long enough, and compare him with
another fish something like him, who has a long beak to his lower jaw,
and none to his upper--and how he eats I cannot guess,--and both of them
again with certain fishes like them, which M. Agassiz has found lately,
not in the sea, but in the river Amazon; and then think carefully enough
over their bones and teeth, and their history from the time they are
hatched--why, you would find out, I believe, a story about the river
Amazon itself, more wonderful than all the fairy tales you ever read.

Now there is luncheon ready.  Come down below, and don't tumble down the
companion-stairs; and by the time you have eaten your dinner we shall be
very near the shore.

* * * * *

So?  Here is my little man on deck, after a good night's rest.  And he
has not been the least sick, I hear.

Not a bit: but the cabin was so stuffy and hot, I asked leave to come on
deck.  What a huge steamer!  But I do not like it as well as the yacht.
It smells of oil and steam, and--

And pigs and bullocks too, I am sorry to say.  Don't go forward above
them, but stay here with me, and look round.

Where are we now?  What are those high hills, far away to the left, above
the lowlands and woods?

Those are the shore of the Old World--the Welsh mountains.

And in front of us I can see nothing but flat land.  Where is that?

That is the mouth of the Severn and Avon; where we shall be in half an
hour more.

And there, on the right, over the low hills, I can see higher ones, blue
and hazy.

Those are an island of the Old World, called now the Mendip Hills; and we
are steaming along the great strait between the Mendips and the Welsh
mountains, which once was coral reef, and is now the Severn sea; and by
the time you have eaten your breakfast we shall steam in through a crack
in that coral-reef; and you will see what you missed seeing when you went
to Ireland, because you went on board at night.

* * * * *

Oh!  Where have we got to now?  Where is the wide Severn Sea?

Two or three miles beyond us; and here we are in narrow little Avon.

Narrow indeed.  I wonder that the steamer does not run against those
rocks.  But how beautiful they are, and how the trees hang down over the
water, and are all reflected in it!

Yes.  The gorge of the Avon is always lovely.  I saw it first when I was
a little boy like you; and I have seen it many a time since, in sunshine
and in storm, and thought it more lovely every time.  Look! there is
something curious.

What?  Those great rusty rings fixed into the rock?

Yes.  Those may be as old, for aught I know, as Queen Elizabeth's or
James's reign.

But why were they put there?

For ships to hold on by, if they lost the tide.

What do you mean?

It is high tide now.  That is why the water is almost up to the branches
of the trees.  But when the tide turns, it will all rush out in a torrent
which would sweep ships out to sea again, if they had not steam, as we
have, to help them up against the stream.  So sailing ships, in old
times, fastened themselves to those rings, and rode against the stream
till the tide turned, and carried them up to Bristol.

But what is the tide?  And why does it go up and down?  And why does it
alter with the moon, as I heard you all saying so often in Ireland?

That is a long story, which I must tell you something about some other
time.  Now I want you to look at something else: and that is, the rocks
themselves, in which the rings are.  They are very curious in my eyes,
and very valuable; for they taught me a lesson in geology when I was
quite a boy: and I want them to teach it to you now.

What is there curious in them?

This.  You will soon see for yourself, even from the steamer's deck, that
they are not the same rock as the high limestone hills above.  They are
made up of red sand and pebbles; and they are a whole world younger,
indeed some say two worlds younger, than the limestone hills above, and
lie upon the top of the limestone.  Now you may see what I meant when I
said that the newer rocks, though they lie on the top of the older, were
often lower down than they are.

But how do you know that they lie on the limestone?

Look into that corner of the river, as we turn round, and you will see
with your own eyes.  There are the sandstones, lying flat on the turned-
up edges of another rock.

Yes; I see.  The layers of it are almost upright.

Then that upright rock underneath is part of the great limestone hill
above.  So the hill must have been raised out of the sea, ages ago, and
eaten back by the waves; and then the sand and pebbles made a beach at
its foot, and hardened into stone; and there it is.  And when you get
through the limestone hills to Bristol, you will see more of these same
red sandstone rocks, spread about at the foot of the limestone-hills, on
the other side.

But why is the sandstone two worlds newer than the limestone?

Because between that sandstone and that limestone come hundreds of feet
of rock, which carry in them all the coal in England.  Don't you remember
that I told you that once before?

Oh yes.  But I see no coal between them there.

No.  But there is plenty of coal between them over in Wales; and plenty
too between them on the other side of Bristol.  What you are looking at
there is just the lip of a great coal-box, where the bottom and the lid
join.  The bottom is the mountain limestone; and the lid is the new red
sandstone, or Trias, as they call it now: but the coal you cannot see.  It
is stowed inside the box, miles away from here.  But now, look at the
cliffs and the downs, which (they tell me) are just like the downs in the
Holy Land; and the woods and villas, high over your head.

And what is that in the air?  A bridge?

Yes--that is the famous Suspension Bridge--and a beautiful work of art it
is.  Ay, stare at it, and wonder at it, little man, of course.

But is it not wonderful?

Yes: it was a clever trick to get those chains across the gulf, high up
in the air: but not so clever a trick as to make a single stone of which
those piers are built, or a single flower or leaf in those woods.  The
more you see of Madam How's masonry and carpentry, the clumsier man's
work will look to you.  But now we must get ready to give up our tickets,
and go ashore, and settle ourselves in the train; and then we shall have
plenty to see as we run home; more curious, to my mind, than any
suspension bridge.

And you promised to show me all the different rocks and soils as we went
home, because it was so dark when we came from Reading.

Very good.

* * * * *

Now we are settled in the train.  And what do you want to know first?

More about the new rocks being lower than the old ones, though they lie
on the top of them.

Well, look here, at this sketch.

A boy piling up slates?  What has that to do with it?

I saw you in Ireland piling slates against a rock just in this way.  And
I thought to myself--"That is something like Madam How's work."


Why, see.  The old rock stands for the mountains of the Old World, like
the Welsh mountains, or the Mendip Hills.  The slates stand for the new
rocks, which have been piled up against these, one over the other.  But,
you see, each slate is lower than the one before it, and slopes more;
till the last slate which you are putting on is the lowest of all, though
it overlies all.

I see now.  I see now.

Then look at the sketch of the rocks between this and home.  It is only a
rough sketch, of course: but it will make you understand something more
about the matter.  Now.  You see, the lump marked A.  With twisted lines
in it.  That stands for the Mendip Hills to the west, which are made of
old red sandstone, very much the same rock (to speak roughly) as the
Kerry mountains.

And why are the lines in it twisted?

To show that the strata, the layers in it, are twisted, and set up at
quite different angles from the limestone.

But how was that done?

By old earthquakes and changes which happened in old worlds, ages on ages
since.  Then the edges of the old red sandstone were eaten away by the
sea--and some think by ice too, in some earlier age of ice; and then the
limestone coral reef was laid down on them, "unconformably," as
geologists say--just as you saw the new red sandstone laid down on the
edges of the limestone; and so one world is built up on the edge of
another world, out of its scraps and ruins.

Then do you see B.  With a notch in it?  That means these limestone hills
on the shoulder of the Mendips; and that notch is the gorge of the Avon
which we have steamed through.

And what is that black above it?

That is the coal, a few miles off, marked C.

And what is this D, which comes next?

That is what we are on now.  New red sandstone, lying unconformably on
the coal.  I showed it you in the bed of the river, as we came along in
the cab.  We are here in a sort of amphitheatre, or half a one, with the
limestone hills around us, and the new red sandstone plastered on, as it
were, round the bottom of it inside.

But what is this high bit with E against it?

Those are the high hills round Bath, which we shall run through soon.
They are newer than the soil here; and they are (for an exception) higher
too; for they are so much harder than the soil here, that the sea has not
eaten them away, as it has all the lowlands from Bristol right into the
Somersetshire flats.

* * * * *

There.  We are off at last, and going to run home to Reading, through one
of the loveliest lines (as I think) of old England.  And between the
intervals of eating fruit, we will geologize on the way home, with this
little bit of paper to show us where we are.

What pretty rocks!

Yes.  They are a boss of the coal measures, I believe, shoved up with the
lias, the lias lying round them.  But I warn you I may not be quite
right: because I never looked at a geological map of this part of the
line, and have learnt what I know, just as I want you to learn simply by
looking out of the carriage window.

Look.  Here is lias rock in the side of the cutting; layers of hard blue
limestone, and then layers of blue mud between them, in which, if you
could stop to look, you would find fossils in plenty; and along that lias
we shall run to Bath, and then all the rocks will change.

* * * * *

Now, here we are at Bath; and here are the handsome fruit-women, waiting
for you to buy.

And oh, what strawberries and cherries!

Yes.  All this valley is very rich, and very sheltered too, and very
warm; for the soft south-western air sweeps up it from the Bristol
Channel; so the slopes are covered with fruit-orchards, as you will see
as you get out of the station.

Why, we are above the tops of the houses.

Yes.  We have been rising ever since we left Bristol; and you will soon
see why.  Now we have laid in as much fruit as is safe for you, and away
we go.

Oh, what high hills over the town!  And what beautiful stone houses!  Even
the cottages are built of stone.

All that stone comes out of those high hills, into which we are going
now.  It is called Bath-stone freestone, or oolite; and it lies on the
top of the lias, which we have just left.  Here it is marked F.

What steep hills, and cliffs too, and with quarries in them!  What can
have made them so steep?  And what can have made this little narrow

Madam How's rain-spade from above, I suppose, and perhaps the sea gnawing
at their feet below.  Those freestone hills once stretched high over our
heads, and far away, I suppose, to the westward.  Now they are all gnawed
out into cliffs,--indeed gnawed clean through in the bottom of the
valley, where the famous hot springs break out in which people bathe.

Is that why the place is called Bath?

Of course.  But the Old Romans called the place Aquae Solis--the waters
of the sun; and curious old Roman remains are found here, which we have
not time to stop and see.

Now look out at the pretty clear limestone stream running to meet us
below, and the great limestone hills closing over us above.  How do you
think we shall get out from among them?

Shall we go over their tops?

No.  That would be too steep a climb, for even such a great engine as

Then there is a crack which we can get through?

Look and see.

Why, we are coming to a regular wall of hill, and--

And going right through it in the dark.  We are in the Box Tunnel.

* * * * *

There is the light again: and now I suppose you will find your tongue.

How long it seemed before we came out!

Yes, because you were waiting and watching, with nothing to look at: but
the tunnel is only a mile and a quarter long after all, I believe.  If
you had been looking at fields and hedgerows all the while, you would
have thought no time at all had passed.

What curious sandy rocks on each side of the cutting, in lines and

Those are the freestone still: and full of fossils they are.  But do you
see that they dip away from us?  Remember that.  All the rocks are
sloping eastward, the way we are going; and each new rock or soil we come
to lies on the top of the one before it.  Now we shall run down hill for
many a mile, down the back of the oolites, past pretty Chippenham, and
Wootton-Bassett, towards Swindon spire.  Look at the country, child; and
thank God for this fair English land, in which your lot is cast.

What beautiful green fields; and such huge elm trees; and orchards; and
flowers in the cottage gardens!

Ay, and what crops, too: what wheat and beans, turnips and mangold.  All
this land is very rich and easily worked; and hereabouts is some of the
best farming in England.  The Agricultural College at Cirencester, of
which you have so often heard, lies thereaway, a few miles to our left;
and there lads go to learn to farm as no men in the world, save English
and Scotch, know how to farm.

But what rock are we on now?

On rock that is much softer than that on the other side of the oolite
hills: much softer, because it is much newer.  We have got off the
oolites on to what is called the Oxford clay; and then, I believe, on to
the Coral rag, and on that again lies what we are coming to now.  Do you
see the red sand in that field?

Then that is the lowest layer of a fresh world, so to speak; a world
still younger than the oolites--the chalk world.

But that is not chalk, or anything like it.

No, that is what is called Greensand.

But it is not green, it is red.

I know: but years ago it got the name from one green vein in it, in which
the "Coprolites," as you learnt to call them at Cambridge, are found; and
that, and a little layer of blue clay, called gault, between the upper
Greensand and lower Greensand, runs along everywhere at the foot of the
chalk hills.

I see the hills now.  Are they chalk?

Yes, chalk they are: so we may begin to feel near home now.  See how they
range away to the south toward Devizes, and Westbury, and Warminster, a
goodly land and large.  At their feet, everywhere, run the rich pastures
on which the Wiltshire cheese is made; and here and there, as at
Westbury, there is good iron-ore in the greensand, which is being smelted
now, as it used to be in the Weald of Surrey and Kent ages since.  I must
tell you about that some other time.

But are there Coprolites here?

I believe there are: I know there are some at Swindon; and I do not see
why they should not be found, here and there, all the way along the foot
of the downs, from here to Cambridge.

But do these downs go to Cambridge?

Of course they do.  We are now in the great valley which runs right
across England from south-west to north-east, from Axminster in
Devonshire to Hunstanton in Norfolk, with the chalk always on your right
hand, and the oolite hills on your left, till it ends by sinking into the
sea, among the fens of Lincolnshire and Norfolk.

But what made that great valley?

I am not learned enough to tell.  Only this I think we can say--that once
on a time these chalk downs on our right reached high over our heads
here, and far to the north; and that Madam How pared them away, whether
by icebergs, or by sea-waves, or merely by rain, I cannot tell.

Well, those downs do look very like sea-cliffs.

So they do, very like an old shore-line.  Be that as it may, after the
chalk was eaten away, Madam How began digging into the soils below the
chalk, on which we are now; and because they were mostly soft clays, she
cut them out very easily, till she came down, or nearly down, to the
harder freestone rocks which run along on our left hand, miles away; and
so she scooped out this great vale, which we call here the Vale of White
Horse; and further on, the Vale of Aylesbury; and then the Bedford Level;
and then the dear ugly old Fens.

Is this the Vale of White Horse?  Oh, I know about it; I have read _The
Scouring of the White Horse_.

Of course you have; and when you are older you will read a jollier book
still,--_Tom Brown's School Days_--and when we have passed Swindon, we
shall see some of the very places described in it, close on our right.

* * * * *

There is the White Horse Hill.

The White Horse Hill?  But where is the horse?  I can see a bit of him:
but he does not look like a horse from here, or indeed from any other
place; he is a very old horse indeed, and a thousand years of wind and
rain have spoilt his anatomy a good deal on the top of that wild down.

And is that really where Alfred fought the Danes?

As certainly, boy, I believe, as that Waterloo is where the Duke fought
Napoleon.  Yes: you may well stare at it with all your eyes, the noble
down.  It is one of the most sacred spots on English soil.

Ah, it is gone now.  The train runs so fast.

So it does; too fast to let you look long at one thing: but in return, it
lets you see so many more things in a given time than the slow old
coaches and posters did.--Well? what is it?

I wanted to ask you a question, but you won't listen to me.

Won't I?  I suppose I was dreaming with my eyes open.  You see, I have
been so often along this line--and through this country, too, long before
the line was made--that I cannot pass it without its seeming full of
memories--perhaps of ghosts.

Of real ghosts?

As real ghosts, I suspect, as any one on earth ever saw; faces and scenes
which have printed themselves so deeply on one's brain, that when one
passes the same place, long years after, they start up again, out of
fields and roadsides, as if they were alive once more, and need sound
sense to send them back again into their place as things which are past
for ever, for good and ill.  But what did you want to know?

Why, I am so tired of looking out of the window.  It is all the same:
fields and hedges, hedges and fields; and I want to talk.

Fields and hedges, hedges and fields?  Peace and plenty, plenty and
peace.  However, it may seem dull, now that the grass is cut; but you
would not have said so two months ago, when the fields were all golden-
green with buttercups, and the whitethorn hedges like crested waves of
snow.  I should like to take a foreigner down the Vale of Berkshire in
the end of May, and ask him what he thought of old England.  But what
shall we talk about?

I want to know about Coprolites, if they dig them here, as they do at

I don't think they do.  But I suspect they will some day.

But why do people dig them?

Because they are rational men, and want manure for their fields.

But what are Coprolites?

Well, they were called Coprolites at first because some folk fancied they
were the leavings of fossil animals, such as you may really find in the
lias at Lynn in Dorsetshire.  But they are not that; and all we can say
is, that a long time ago, before the chalk began to be made, there was a
shallow sea in England, the shore of which was so covered with dead
animals, that the bone-earth (the phosphate of lime) out of them crusted
itself round every bone, and shell, and dead sea-beast on the shore, and
got covered up with fresh sand, and buried for ages as a mine of wealth.

But how many millions of dead creatures, there must have been!  What
killed them?

We do not know.  No more do we know how it comes to pass that this thin
band (often only a few inches thick) of dead creatures should stretch all
the way from Dorsetshire to Norfolk, and, I believe, up through
Lincolnshire.  And what is stranger still, this same bone-earth bed crops
out on the south side of the chalk at Farnham, and stretches along the
foot of those downs, right into Kent, making the richest hop lands in
England, through Surrey, and away to Tunbridge.  So that it seems as if
the bed lay under the chalk everywhere, if once we could get down to it.

But how does it make the hop lands so rich?

Because hops, like tobacco and vines, take more phosphorus out of the
soil than any other plants which we grow in England; and it is the
washings of this bone-earth bed which make the lower lands in Farnham so
unusually rich, that in some of them--the garden, for instance, under the
Bishop's castle--have grown hops without resting, I believe, for three
hundred years.

But who found out all this about the Coprolites?

Ah--I will tell you; and show you how scientific men, whom ignorant
people sometimes laugh at as dreamers, and mere pickers up of useless
weeds and old stones, may do real service to their country and their
countrymen, as I hope you will some day.

There was a clergyman named Henslow, now with God, honoured by all
scientific men, a kind friend and teacher of mine, loved by every little
child in his parish.  His calling was botany: but he knew something of
geology.  And some of these Coprolites were brought him as curiosities,
because they had fossils in them.  But he (so the tale goes) had the wit
to see that they were not, like other fossils, carbonate of lime, but
phosphate of lime--bone earth.  Whereon he told the neighbouring farmers
that they had a mine of wealth opened to them, if they would but use them
for manure.  And after a while he was listened to.  Then others began to
find them in the Eastern counties; and then another man, as learned and
wise as he was good and noble--John Paine of Farnham, also now with
God--found them on his own estate, and made much use and much money of
them: and now tens of thousands of pounds' worth of valuable manure are
made out of them every year, in Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, by
digging them out of land which was till lately only used for common
farmers' crops.

But how do they turn Coprolites into manure?  I used to see them in the
railway trucks at Cambridge, and they were all like what I have at
home--hard pebbles.

They grind them first in a mill.  Then they mix them with sulphuric acid
and water, and that melts them down, and parts them into two things.  One
is sulphate of lime (gypsum, as it is commonly called), and which will
not dissolve in water, and is of little use.  But the other is what is
called superphosphate of lime, which will dissolve in water; so that the
roots of the plants can suck it up: and that is one of the richest of

Oh, I know: you put superphosphate on the grass last year.

Yes.  But not that kind; a better one still.  The superphosphate from the
Copiolites is good; but the superphosphate from fresh bones is better
still, and therefore dearer, because it has in it the fibrine of the
bones, which is full of nitrogen, like gristle or meat; and all that has
been washed out of the bone-earth bed ages and ages ago.  But you must
learn some chemistry to understand that.

I should like to be a scientific man, if one can find out such really
useful things by science.

Child, there is no saying what you might find out, or of what use you may
be to your fellow-men.  A man working at science, however dull and dirty
his work may seem at times, is like one of those "chiffoniers," as they
call them in Paris--people who spend their lives in gathering rags and
sifting refuse, but who may put their hands at any moment upon some
precious jewel.  And not only may you be able to help your neighbours to
find out what will give them health and wealth: but you may, if you can
only get them to listen to you, save them from many a foolish experiment,
which ends in losing money just for want of science.  I have heard of a
man who, for want of science, was going to throw away great sums (I
believe he, luckily for him, never could raise the money) in boring for
coal in our Bagshot sands at home.  The man thought that because there
was coal under the heather moors in the North, there must needs be coal
here likewise, when a geologist could have told him the contrary.  There
was another man at Hennequin's Lodge, near the Wellington College, who
thought he would make the poor sands fertile by manuring them with whale
oil, of all things in the world.  So he not only lost all the cost of his
whale oil, but made the land utterly barren, as it is unto this day; and
all for want of science.

And I knew a manufacturer, too, who went to bore an Artesian well for
water, and hired a regular well-borer to do it.  But, meanwhile he was
wise enough to ask a geologist of those parts how far he thought it was
down to the water.  The geologist made his calculations, and said:

"You will go through so many feet of Bagshot sand; and so many feet of
London clay; and so many feet of the Thanet beds between them and the
chalk: and then you will win water, at about 412 feet; but not, I think,
till then."

The well-sinker laughed at that, and said, "He had no opinion of
geologists, and such-like.  He never found any clay in England but what
he could get through in 150 feet."

So he began to bore--150 feet, 200, 300: and then he began to look rather
silly; at last, at 405--only seven feet short of what the geologist had
foretold--up came the water in a regular spout.  But, lo and behold, not
expecting to have to bore so deep, he had made his bore much too small;
and the sand out of the Thanet beds "blew up" into the bore, and closed
it.  The poor manufacturer spent hundreds of pounds more in trying to get
the sand out, but in vain; and he had at last to make a fresh and much
larger well by the side of the old one, bewailing the day when he
listened to the well-sinker and not to the geologist, and so threw away
more than a thousand pounds.  And there is an answer to what you asked on
board the yacht--What use was there in learning little matters of natural
history and science, which seemed of no use at all?  And now, look out
again.  Do you see any change in the country?


Why, there to the left.

There are high hills there now, as well as to the right.  What are they?

Chalk hills too.  The chalk is on both sides of us now.  These are the
Chilterns, all away to Ipsden and Nettlebed, and so on across Oxfordshire
and Buckinghamshire, and into Hertfordshire; and on again to Royston and
Cambridge, while below them lies the Vale of Aylesbury; you can just see
the beginning of it on their left.  A pleasant land are those hills, and
wealthy; full of noble houses buried in the deep beech-woods, which once
were a great forest, stretching in a ring round the north of London, full
of deer and boar, and of wild bulls too, even as late as the twelfth
century, according to the old legend of Thomas a Becket's father and the
fair Saracen, which you have often heard.

I know.  But how are you going to get through the chalk hills?  Is there
a tunnel as there is at Box and at Micheldever?

No.  Something much prettier than a tunnel and something which took a
great many years longer in making.  We shall soon meet with a very
remarkable and famous old gentleman, who is a great adept at digging, and
at landscape gardening likewise; and he has dug out a path for himself
through the chalk, which we shall take the liberty of using also.  And
his name, if you wish to know it, is Father Thames.

I see him.  What a great river!

Yes.  Here he comes, gleaming and winding down from Oxford, over the
lowlands, past Wallingford; but where he is going to it is not so easy to

Ah, here is chalk in the cutting at last.  And what a high bridge.  And
the river far under our feet.  Why we are crossing him again!

Yes; he winds more sharply than a railroad can.  But is not this prettier
than a tunnel?

Oh, what hanging-woods, and churches; and such great houses, and pretty
cottages and gardens--all in this narrow crack of a valley!

Ay.  Old Father Thames is a good landscape gardener, as I said.  There is
Basildon--and Hurley--and Pangbourne, with its roaring lasher.  Father
Thames has had to work hard for many an age before he could cut this
trench right through the chalk, and drain the water out of the flat vale
behind us.  But I suspect the sea helped him somewhat, or perhaps a great
deal, just where we are now.

The sea?

Yes.  The sea was once--and that not so very long ago--right up here,
beyond Reading.  This is the uppermost end of the great Thames valley,
which must have been an estuary--a tide flat, like the mouth of the
Severn, with the sea eating along at the foot of all the hills.  And if
the land sunk only some fifty feet,--which is a very little indeed,
child, in this huge, ever-changing world,--then the tide would come up to
Reading again, and the greater part of London and the county of Middlesex
be drowned in salt water.

How dreadful that would be!

Dreadful indeed.  God grant that it may never happen.  More terrible
changes of land and water have happened, and are happening still in the
world: but none, I think, could happen which would destroy so much
civilisation and be such a loss to mankind, as that the Thames valley
should become again what it was, geologically speaking, only the other
day, when these gravel banks, over which we are running to Reading, were
being washed out of the chalk cliffs up above at every tide, and rolled
on a beach, as you have seen them rolling still at Ramsgate.

Now here we are at Reading.  There is the carriage waiting, and away we
are off home; and when we get home, and have seen everybody and
everything, we will look over our section once more.

But remember, that when you ran through the chalk hills to Reading, you
passed from the bottom of the chalk to the top of it, on to the Thames
gravels, which lie there on the chalk, and on to the London clay, which
lies on the chalk also, with the Thames gravels always over it.  So that,
you see, the newest layers, the London clay and the gravels, are lower in
height than the limestone cliffs at Bristol, and much lower than the old
mountain ranges of Devonshire and Wales, though in geological order they
are far higher; and there are whole worlds of strata, rocks and clays,
one on the other, between the Thames gravels and the Devonshire hills.

But how about our moors?  They are newer still, you said, than the London
clay, because they lie upon it: and yet they are much higher than we are
here at Reading.

Very well said: so they are, two or three hundred feet higher.  But our
part of them was left behind, standing up in banks, while the valley of
the Thames was being cut out by the sea.  Once they spread all over where
we stand now, and away behind us beyond Newbury in Berkshire, and away in
front of us, all over where London now stands.

How can you tell that?

Because there are little caps--little patches--of them left on the tops
of many hills to the north of London; just remnants which the sea, and
the Thames, and the rain have not eaten down.  Probably they once
stretched right out to sea, sloping slowly under the waves, where the
mouth of the Thames is now.  You know the sand-cliffs at Bournemouth?

Of course.

Then those are of the same age as the Bagshot sands, and lie on the
London clay, and slope down off the New Forest into the sea, which eats
them up, as you know, year by year and day by day.  And here were once
perhaps cliffs just like them, where London Bridge now stands.

* * * * *

There, we are rumbling away home at last, over the dear old
heather-moors.  How far we have travelled--in our fancy at least--since
we began to talk about all these things, upon the foggy November day, and
first saw Madam How digging at the sand-banks with her water-spade.  How
many countries we have talked of; and what wonderful questions we have
got answered, which all grew out of the first question, How were the
heather-moors made?  And yet we have not talked about a hundredth part of
the things about which these very heather-moors ought to set us thinking.
But so it is, child.  Those who wish honestly to learn the laws of Madam
How, which we call Nature, by looking honestly at what she does, which we
call Fact, have only to begin by looking at the very smallest thing,
pin's head or pebble, at their feet, and it may lead them--whither, they
cannot tell.  To answer any one question, you find you must answer
another; and to answer that you must answer a third, and then a fourth;
and so on for ever and ever.

For ever and ever?

Of course.  If we thought and searched over the Universe--ay, I believe,
only over this one little planet called earth--for millions on millions
of years, we should not get to the end of our searching.  The more we
learnt, the more we should find there was left to learn.  All things, we
should find, are constituted according to a Divine and Wonderful Order,
which links each thing to every other thing; so that we cannot fully
comprehend any one thing without comprehending all things: and who can do
that, save He who made all things?  Therefore our true wisdom is never to
fancy that we do comprehend: never to make systems and theories of the
Universe (as they are called) as if we had stood by and looked on when
time and space began to be; but to remember that those who say they
understand, show, simply by so saying, that they understand nothing at
all; that those who say they see, are sure to be blind; while those who
confess that they are blind, are sure some day to see.  All we can do is,
to keep up the childlike heart, humble and teachable, though we grew as
wise as Newton or as Humboldt; and to follow, as good Socrates bids us,
Reason whithersoever it leads us, sure that it will never lead us wrong,
unless we have darkened it by hasty and conceited fancies of our own, and
so have become like those foolish men of old, of whom it was said that
the very light within them was darkness.  But if we love and reverence
and trust Fact and Nature, which are the will, not merely of Madam How,
or even of Lady Why, but of Almighty God Himself, then we shall be really
loving, and reverencing, and trusting God; and we shall have our reward
by discovering continually fresh wonders and fresh benefits to man; and
find it as true of science, as it is of this life and of the life to
come--that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the
heart of man to conceive, what God has prepared for those who love Him.


{1}  I could not resist the temptation of quoting this splendid
generalisation from Dr. Carpenter's Preliminary Report of the Dredging
Operations of H.M.S. "Lightening," 1868.  He attributes it, generously,
to his colleague, Dr. Wyville Thomson.  Be it whose it may, it will mark
(as will probably the whole Report when completed) a new era in

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