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Warlock o' Glenwarlock By George MacDonald Characters: 11210

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03

Cosmo was not particularly fond of school, and he was particularly fond of holidays; hence his father's resolve that he should go to school no more, seemed to him the promise of an endless joy. The very sun seemed swelling in his heart as he walked home with his father. A whole day of home and its pleasures was before him-only the more welcome that he had had a holiday so lately, and that so many more lay behind it. Every shadow about the old place was a delight to him. Never human being loved more the things into which he had been born than did Cosmo. The whole surrounding had to him a sacred look, such as Jerusalem, the temple, and its vessels, bore to the Jews, even those of them who were capable of loving little else. There was hardly anything that could be called beauty about the building-strength and gloom were its main characteristics-but its very stones were dear to the boy. There never were such bees, there never were such thick walls, there never were such storms, never such a rushing river, as those about his beloved home! And this although, all the time, as I have said, he longed for more beauty of mountain and wood than the country around could afford him. Then there were the books belonging to the house!-was there any such a collection in the world besides! They were in truth very few-all contained in a closet opening out of his father's bedroom; but Cosmo had a feeling of inexhaustible wealth in them-partly because his father had not yet allowed him to read everything there, but restricted him to certain of the shelves-as much to cultivate self-restraint in him as to keep one or two of the books from him,-partly because he read books so that they remained books to him, and he believed in them after he had read them, nor imagined himself capable of exhausting them. But the range of his taste was certainly not a limited one. While he revelled in The Arabian Nights, he read also, and with no small enjoyment, the Night Thoughts-books, it will be confessed, considerably apart both in scope and in style. But while thus, for purest pleasure, fond of reading, to enjoy life it was to him enough to lie in the grass; in certain moods, the smell of the commonest flower would drive him half crazy with delight. On a holiday his head would be haunted with old ballads like a sunflower with bees: on other days they would only come and go. He rejoiced even in nursery rimes, only in his head somehow or other they got glorified. The swing and hum and BIZZ of a line, one that might have to him no discoverable meaning, would play its tune in him as well as any mountain-stream its infinite water-jumble melody. One of those that this day kept-not coming and going, but coming and coming, just as Grannie said his foolish rime haunted the old captain, was that which two days before came into his head when first he caught sight of the moon playing bo-peep with him betwixt the cows legs:

Whan the coo loups ower the mune, The reid gowd rains intil men's shune.

I think there must at one time have been a poet in the Glenwarlock nursery, for there were rimes, and modifications of rimes, floating about the family, for which nobody could account. Cosmo's mother too had been, in a fragmentary way, fond of verse; and although he could not remember many of her favourite rimes, his father did, and delighted in saying them over and over to her child-and that long before he was capable of understanding them. Here is one:

Make not of thy heart a casket, Opening seldom, quick to close; But of bread a wide-mouthed basket, And a cup that overflows.

Here is another:

The gadfly makes the horse run swift: "Speed," quoth the gadfly, "is my gift."

One more, and it shall be the last for the present: They serve as dim lights on the all but vanished mother, of whom the boy himself knew so little.

In God alone, the perfect end, Wilt thou find thyself or friend. Cosmo's dream of life was, to live all his days in the house of his forefathers-or at least and worst, to return to it at last, how long soever he might have been compelled to be away from it. In his castle-building, next to that of the fairy-mother-lady, his fondest fancy was-not the making of a fortune, but the returning home with one, to make the house of his fathers beautiful, and the heart of his father glad. About the land he did not think so much yet: the country was open to him as if it had been all his own. Still, he had quite a different feeling for that portion which yet lay within the sorely contracted marches; to have seen any smallest nook of that sold, would have been like to break his heart. In him the love of place was in danger of becoming a disease. There was in it something, I fear, of the nature, if not of the avarice that grasps, yet of the avarice that clings. He was generous as few in the matter of money, but then he had had so little-not half enough to learn to love it! Nor had he the slightest idea of any mode in which to make it. Most of the methods he had come in contact with, except that of manual labour, in which work was done and money paid immediately for it, repelled him, as having elements of the unhandsome where not the dishonest: he was not yet able to distinguish between substance and mode in such matters. The only way in which he ever dreamed of coming into possession of money-it was another of his favourite castles-was finding in the old house a room he had never seen or heard of before, and therein a hoard of riches incredible. Such things had been-why might it not be?

As they walked, his father told him he had been th

inking all night what it would be best to do with him, now that the school was closed against him; and that he had come to the conclusion to ask his friend Peter Simon-the wits of the neighbourhood called him Simon Peter-to take charge of his education.

"He is a man of peculiar opinions," he said, "as I daresay you may have heard; but everything in him is, practice and theory, on a scale so grand, that to fear harm from him would be to sin against the truth. A man must learn to judge for himself, and he will teach you that. I have seen in him so much that I recognize as good and great, that I am compelled to believe in him where the things he believes appear to me out of the way, or even extravagant."

"I have heard that he believes in ghosts, papa!" said Cosmo.

His father smiled, and made him no answer. He had been born into an age whose incredulity, taking active form, was now fast approaching its extreme, and becoming superstition; and the denial of many things that had long been believed in the country had penetrated at last even to the remote region where his property lay: like that property, his mind, because of the age, lay also in a sort of border-land, An active believer in the care and providence of God, with no conscious difficulty in accepting any miracle recorded in the Bible, he was, where the oracles were dumb, in a measure inclined to a scepticism, which yet was limited to the region of his intellect;-his imagination turned from its conclusions, and cherished not a little so-called weakness for the so-called supernatural-so far as any glimmer of sense or meaning or reason would show itself therein. And in the history of the world, the imagination has, I fancy, been quite as often right as the intellect, and the things in which it has been right, have been of much the greater importance. Only, unhappily, wherever Pegasus has shown the way through a bog the pack-horse which follows gets the praise of crossing it; while the blunders with which the pack-horse is burdened, are, the moment each is discovered, by the plodding leaders of the pair transferred to the space betwixt the wings of Pegasus, without regard to the beauty of his feathers. The laird was therefore unable to speak with authority respecting such things, and was not particularly anxious to influence the mind of his son concerning them. Happily, in those days the platitudes and weary vulgarities of what they call SPIRITUALISM, had not been heard of in those quarters, and the soft light of imagination yet lingered about the borders of that wide region of mingled false and true, commonly called Superstition. It seems to me the most killing poison to the imagination must be a strong course of "spiritualism." For myself, I am not so set upon entering the unknown, as, instead of encouraging what holy visitations faith, not in the spiritual or the immortal, but in the living God, may bring, to creep through the sewers of it to get in. I care not to encounter its mud-larkes, and lovers of garbage, its thieves, impostors, liars, and canaille, in general. That they are on the other side, that they are what men call dead, does not seem to me sufficient reason for taking them into my confidence, courting their company, asking their advice. A well-attested old-fashion ghost story, where such is to be had, is worth a thousand seances.

"Do YOU believe in ghosts, papa?" resumed Cosmo, noting his father's silence, and remembering that he had never heard him utter an opinion on the subject.

"The master says none but fools believe in them now; and he makes such a face at anything he calls superstition, that you would think it must be somewhere in the commandments."

"Mr. Simon remarked the other day in my hearing," answered his father, "that the dread of superstition might amount to superstition, and become the most dangerous superstition of all."

"Do you think so, papa?"

"I could well believe it. Besides, I have always found Mr. Simon so reasonable, even where I could not follow him, that I am prejudiced in favor of anything he thinks."

The boy rejoiced to hear his father talk thus, for he, had a strong leaning to the marvellous, and hitherto, from the schoolmaster's assertion and his father's silence, had supposed nothing was to be accepted for belief but what was scientifically probable, or was told in the bible. That we live in a universe of marvels of which we know only the outsides,-and which we turn into the incredible by taking the mere outsides for all, even while we know the roots of the seen remain unseen-these spiritual facts now began to dawn upon him, and fell in most naturally with those his mind had already conceived and entertained. He was therefore delighted at the thought of making the closer acquaintance of a man like Mr. Simon-a man of whose peculiarities even, his father could speak in such terms. All day long he brooded on the prospect, and in the twilight went out wandering over the hills.

There was no night there at this season, any more than all the year through in heaven. Indeed we have seldom real positive night in this world-so many provisions have been made against it. Every time we say, "What a lovely night!" we speak of a breach, a rift in the old night. There is light more or less, positive light, else were there no beauty. Many a night is but a low starry day, a day with a softened background against which the far-off suns of millions of other days show themselves: when the near vision vanishes the farther hope awakes. It is nowhere said of heaven, there shall be no twilight there,

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