all probability have lived respectably and honestly, like her mother, and might eventually have died in peace, which at present she could scarcely hope to do. Education had failed to produce any good in this poor woman; on the contrary, there could be little doubt that she had been injured by it. Then was education a bad thing? Rousseau was of opinion that it was; but Rousseau was a Frenchman, at least wrote in French, and I cared not the snap of my fingers for Rousseau. But education has certainly been of benefit in some instances; well, what did that prove, but that partiality existed in the management of the affairs of the world - if education was a benefit to some, why was it not a benefit to others? Could some avoid abusing it, any more than others could avoid turning it to a profitable account? I did not see how they could; this poor simple woman found a book in her mothers closet; a book, which was a capital book for those who could turn it to the account for which it was intended; a book, from the perusal of which I felt myself wiser and better, but which was by no means suited to the intellect of this poor simple woman, who thought that it was written in praise of thieving; yet she found it, she read it, and - and - I felt myself getting into a maze; what is right, thought I? what is wrong? Do I exist? Does the world exist? if it does, every action is bound up with necessity.
Necessity! I exclaimed, and cracked my finger-joints.
Ah, it is a bad thing, said the old woman.
What is a bad thing? said I.
Why to be poor, dear.
You talk like a fool, said I, riches and poverty are only different forms of necessity.
You should not call me a fool, dear; you should not call your own mother a fool.
You are not my mother, said I.
Not your mother, dear? - no, no more I am; but your calling me fool put me in mind of my dear son, who often used to call me fool - and you just now looked as he sometimes did, with a blob of foam on your lip.
After all, I dont know that you are not my mother.
Dont you, dear? Im glad of it; I wish you would make it out.
How should I make it out? who can speak from his own knowledge as to the circumstances of his birth? Besides, before attempting to establish our relationship, it would be necessary to prove that such people exist.
What people, dear?
You and I.
Lord, child, you are mad; that book has made you so.
Dont abuse it, said I; the book is an excellent one, that is, provided it exists.
I wish it did not, said the old woman; but it shant long; Ill burn it, or fling it into the river - the voices at night tell me to do so.
Tell the voices, said I, that they talk nonsense; the book, if it exists, is a good book, it contains a deep moral; have you read it all?