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about the house, but I could not tell what; and little did I think that Ephraim had been the man to cause it. Mr. Dykes, as I am a living woman (and I don't care whom thee tells it to), and as our Mary, and as Sukey, are witnesses of the truth of what I say; on Tuesday night, when, as I now find, poor Bobby was in the cage, in the dark loft, at the top of the house; here, at this very table, I thought I heard our best blue and white china punchbowl crack, while it stood quietly upon the projecting shelf in the beaufet (and nobody near it); and, just at the same time, too, all my gilt-edged coffee-cups jingle upon their hooks, along the shelf in front of the punch-bowl! And Sukey and Mary know (though, poor things, they did not hear the crack, nor the jingling, not they), that I jumped up in a moment (as who would not in my place?) and went to the beaufet; and there were the coffee-cups as still as mice, and the punch-bowlwithout a crack in it, and just as sound as when my dear old grandmother gave it to me, forty years ago, when I was married to my Ephraim !"
“ Ah! Bridget,” cried Mr. Gubbins, “ thee wilt live and die by those old notions that thee learnedst of thy dear grandmother, when thee used to sit by her knee, as I have often seen thee, and as I think I see thee now; and thee and I small chits together! But, Master Dykes, thee knowest, or thee oughtest to know (a man well-learned like thee), what is the meaning of all these fancies, which it is the fashion to call old women's fancies; and all which, by the way, more or less of them, are still alive throughout society, old and young, and in the cottage and the palace too!”
“Why, as to that, Mr. Gubbins,” replied Cobbler Dykes, “thee answerest rather too boldly for me; for,
d'ye see, though I be a bit of an ornithologist, and can fit a shoe and hammer a sole with any man, yet I don't pretend that I know every thing, as thee dost. Thee hast had books for many a day, while I have been waxing my thread; and though I can think while I wax, and sometimes sing a song; yet, ye see, I can't read at such a time; and so my learning has been neglected, and I don't know how I should understand what I believe there are plenty of lords, and dukes, and judges, and generals, know as little about as myself, and are sometimes as ready to believe, as any of your old women !”.
“ I'll tell thee, then, Master Dykes," resumed Mr. Gubbins; “and first let me remark, that while there are many to make mention of these things only to laugh at them, or to cause a laugh to be raised at them; it is my mind to mention them chiefly to explain them.”
“ Go on, friend Gubbins, go on,” cried Cobbler Dykes; “ there is no man to do it better!”
" Aye,” interrupted Mrs. Gubbins, “ but he will be a cunning man indeed, if he can persuade me that I did not hear the punch-bowl crack when it did not crack; or that it did not sound as if it cracked, because he had caught a Robin-red-breast in a trap, and put it into a cage, and kept it from its mate, all alone in our cockloft!”
“Good Bridget,” pursued Mr. Gubbins, “ be patient with thy husband; and be satisfied when I tell thee that I think thy heart is right, even though thy learning should be wrong! Master Dykes,” he added (applying himself to the task he had undertaken), “ thee know'st that all these notions are ancient, very ancient; and I can tell thee that they had, and still
“ There is some beauty, then, and some value, Master Gubbins, even in the errors depending upon your principle,” rejoined Cobbler Dykes ?
“ There is, there is, friend Dykes," answered Mr. Gubbins; “ and, even with all the deformity, and with all the mischief which likewise belong to it, mankind will never part with it at heart, whatever may be the outside learning of the day !"
“ Thank thee, thank thee,” cried Cobbler Dykes; " and only two questions more. Since thee drawest the fancies of our country-people (asking pardon of Madam Gubbins) out of the very learning of the ancient schools, how dost thee account for their having obtained them from such a source; and also why is it, as thee thinkest, that they hold their ground among low and high, even to this day, and will do still, in spite of the efforts of modern learning to overthrow them?"
“I believe,” said Mr. Gubbins, “that contrary to common opinion, the direct diffusion of the learning of the age, whatever it was, was very wide in ancient times. I believe that the indirect diffusion was wider still ; and that, by one means or the other, it descended and spread abroad, so as to reach all individuals, and was by them transmitted to their children. I believe, too, that, error and truth together, it was the more easily spread, and now keeps its hold, because its great or primary principle is true, and is therefore congenial with human apprehensions. And it was a blessed fountain for men to drink at, however sometimes muddy! It united all men, rich and poor, and small and great, and servant and lord, and lord and servant. With the natural principle, that all things were in natural union, went the moral principle, that all things were in moral union, or held together in one bond of sympathy and love. Your atomical philosophy, — your doctrine of atoms, separable and separated—not less in tendency than in principle, is the opposite of every thing of this kind, either natural, moral, or intellectual*.
“ As to the rest,” concluded Mr. Gubbins, “we must not attempt to hide, that the errors which are the corruptions from the principle are enormous, and many more than we have adverted to. The principle itself is one of the parents of superstition, at the same time as of all just thinking; the latter being its use, the former its abuse. But, be the whole of this as it may, so it has happened, that (such is the case of our Robin and our punch-bowl, and its similitudes) thoughts which, not without reason, were once treasured beneath the cloaks of philosophers, and passed for the sublimest of thoughts in the Academy, and under the Portico t; are now passed to no cloaks at all (or at least are pretended so to be), except the red-cloaks of a village !"
• It is well known that the doctrine of the sympathies was in bigb vogue over all Europe not more than two centuries ago; and, in England, under the special auspices of Sir Kenelm Digby. But the physical or metaphysical root and rationale of the doctrine, and its moral influences and inferences, have seldom, perhaps, attracted much attention.
+ In Greece, a cloak was the distinguishing garb of a philosopher.
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
I SHALL not talk to my indulgent reader of the inward joy, the rapture, or the ecstasy, with wbich, at length, I found myself absolutely free; and hardly of the transports and tender welcome with which my return into the thickets and plantations was greeted by my mother, and my mate, and my companions! Suffice it to say, that upon my first flying from Mr. Gubbins's door, almost in doubt but that I should strike my wings against the insides of the wires of another decoy-cage, I perched upon the thick twig of an adjacent horse-chestnut-tree, just behind one of its few remaining fans, presented by its large, but brown and shrivelling leaves. Here, I shook and pruned my feathers, heated, soiled, and disarranged as they were, by all the handling which I had suffered ; and scratched my head, and cleaned my bill, the latter against the smooth and silky bark of my supporting twig. This done, I felt myself refreshed, and had perceived, by this time, that I was really free; so, that now, I had spirits to take a new and longer flight, crossing again the road, or village street, and embowering myself in the opposite gardens. But, arrived within those happier precincts, I was still without the courage to mix myself at once with my fellows; or even to expose myself at ease to the immediate chance of view. I sat, for the space of a few minutes, in the