The Water Babies
Charles Kingsley

contributed by Jul

Once upon a time there was a little chimney-sweep, and his name was Tom. That is a short name, and you have heard it before, so you will not have much trouble in remembering it.

[Tom] never had heard of God, or of Christ, except in words which you have never heard, and which it would have been well if he had never heard. He cried half the time, and laughed the other half.

Now, I dare say, you never got up at three o'clock on a midsummer morning... Some people get up then because they want to catch salmon; and some because they want to climb the Alps; and a great many more because they must, like Tom. But... three o'clock on a midsummer morning is the pleasantest time of all the twenty-four hours, and all the three hundred and sixty-five days; save that they are all determined to spoil their nerves and their complexions by doing all night what they might just as well do all day.

All else was silent. For old Mrs. Earth was still fast asleep; and like many pretty people, she looked still prettier asleep than awake.

"Stop!" said the Irishwoman. "I have one more word for [Tom and Mr. Grimes]; for [they] will both see me again before all is over. Those that wish to be clean, clean they will be; and those that wish to be foul, foul they will be. Remember."

[Tom] did not know that a keeper is only a poacher turned outside in, and a poacher was a keeper turned inside out.

But the two pictures which took [Tom's] fancy most were, one a man in long garments, with little children and their mothers round him, who was laying his hand upon the children's heads. That was a very pretty picture, Tom thought, to hang in a lady's room... The other picture was that of a man nailed to a cross, which surprised Tom much. He fancied that he had seen something like it in a shop-window. But why was it there?

"Poor man," thought Tom, "and he looks so kind and quiet. But why should the lady have such a sad picture as that in her room? Perhaps it was some kinsman of hers, who had been murdered by the savages in foreign parts, and she kept it there for a remembrance."

And Tom felt sad, and awed, and turned to look at something else.

[Tom] thought only of her delicate skin and golden hair, and wondered whether she was a real live person, or one of the wax dolls he had seen in the shops. But when he saw her breathe, he made up his mind that she was alive, and stood staring at her, as if she had been an angel out of heaven.

No. She cannot be dirty. She never could have been dirty, thought Tom to himself. and then he thought, "And are all people like that when they are washed?" And he looked at his own wrist and tried to rub the soot off, and wondered whether it ever would come off.

[Tom] turned on [his own reflection] angrily. What did such a little black ape want in that sweet young lady's room?

However, Tom did not remember ever having had a father; so he did not look for one, and expected to have to take care of himself.

[The old cock-grouse] was always fancying the end of the world has come, when anything happened which was farther off than the end of his own nose. But the end of the world was not come, anymore than the twelfth of August was; though the old grouse-cock was quite certain of it.

Undefiled, for the undefiled;
Play by me, bathe in me, mother and child.

"I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined;
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

"To her fair workd did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think,
What man has made of man."


"And is there care in heaven? and is there love
In heavenly spirits to these creatures base
That may compassion of their evils move?
There is: -- else much more wretched were the case
Of men than beasts"


"Why dost not eat thy bread?"....
Because I hear the church-bells ringing so."

"I must be clean, I must be clean."

Some people think that there are no fairies... Well, perhaps there are none-in Boston, U.S., where [Cousin Cramchild] was raised. There are only a clumsy lot of spirits there, who can't make people hear without thumping on the table; but they get their living thereby, and I suppose that is all they want... Well, perhaps there are none in [ Aunt Agitate's ] political economy. But it is a wide world... and plenty of room in it for fairies, without people seeing them; unless of course, they look in the right place. The most wonderful and the strongest things in the world, you know, are just the things which no one can see... and so there may be fairies in the world, and... yet no one may be able to see them except those who hearts are going round to that same tune.

There must be fairies; for this is a fairy-tale: and how can one have a fairy tale if there are no fairies?

You don't see the logic of that? Perhaps not. Then please not to see the logic of a great many arguments like it, which you will hear before you beard is gray.

"Twenty pounds or none, I will go down over Lewthwaite Crag, if it's only for the poor boy's sake. For he was as civil a spoken little chap as ever climbed a flue."

And Tom?...

Tom, when he woke... found himself swimming about in the stream, being about four inches, or that i may be accurate 3.87902 inches long, and having round the parotid region of his fauces a set of external gills... which he mistook for a lace frill, till he pulled at them, found he hurt himself, and made up his mind that they were part of himself, and best left alone.

A water -baby? You never heard of a water-baby. Perhaps not. That is the very reason why this story was written. There are a great many things in the world which you have never hear of; and a great many more which nobody ever heard of; and a great many things too, which nobody will ever hear of, at least until the coming of the Cocqcigrues, when man shall be the measure of all things.

"But there are no such things as water-babies."

How do you know that? Have you been there to see? And if you had been there to see, and had seen none, that would not prove that there was none... And no one has a right to say no water-babies exist till they have seen no water-babies existing; which is quite a different thing, mind, from not seeing water-babies; and a thing which nobody ever did, or perhaps ever will do.

"But a water-baby is contrary to nature."


You must not talk about "ain't" or "can't" when you speak of this great wonderful world around you, of which the wisest man knows only the very smallest corner, and is, as the great Sir Isaac Newton said, only a child picking up pebbles on the shore of a boundless ocean... Wise men are afraid to say that there is anything contrary to nature, except what is contrary to mathematical truth; for two and two cannot make five, and two straight lines cannot join twice, and a part cannot be as great as a whole, and so on (at least so it seems at the present): but the wiser men are, the less they talk about "cannot."

And therefore it is, that there are dozens and hundreds of things in the world which we should certainly have said were contary to nature, if we did not see them going on under our eyes all day long. If people had never seen little seeds grow into great plants and trees... they would have said, "The thing cannot be; it is contrary to nature."

Did not learned men, too, hold, till within the last twenty-five years, that a flying dragon was an impossible monster? And do we not now know that there are hundreds of them found fossil up and down the world? People call them Pterodactyles: but that is only because they are ashamed to call them flying dragons, after denying so long that flying dragons could exist.

The truth is, that folks fancy that such and such things cannot be, simply because they have not seen them, is worth no more than a savage's fancy that there cannot be such a thing as a locomotive, because he never saw one running in the forest. Wise men know that their business is to examine what is, and not to settle what is not... and the wiser they are, the less inclined they will be to say positively that there are no water-babies.

Do you not know that a green drake, and an alder-fly, and a dragon-fly, live under water till they change their skins, just as Tom changed his? And if a water animal can continually change into a land animal, why should not a land animal sometimes change into a water animal?

If [Cousin Cramchild] says that it is too strange a transformation for a land-baby to turn into a water-baby, ask him if he ever heard of the transformation of Syllis, or the Distomas, or the common jelly-fish..." Who would not exclaim that a miracle had come to pass, if he saw a reptile come out of the egg dropped by the hen in his poultry-yard,and the reptile give birth at once to an indefinite number of birds? Yet the history of the jelly-fish is quite as wonderful as that would be."Ask him if he knows about all this; and if he does not, tell him to go and look for himself; and advise him... to settle no more what strange things cannot happen, till he has seen what strange things do happen every day.

If [Cousin Cramchild] says that things cannot degrade, that is, change downwards into lower forms, ask him, who told him that water-babies were lower than land-babies? But even if they were, does he know about the strange degradation of the common goose-barnacles, which one finds sticking on ships' bottoms...?

And lastly, if [ Cousin Cramchild ] says... that these transformations only take place in the lower animals, and not in the higher, say that that seems to little boys, and to some grown peoples, a very strange fancy. For if the changes of the lower animals are so wonderful. and so difficult to discover, why should not there be changes in the higher animals far more wonderful, and far more difficult to discover?... And if he says... that not having seen such change in his experience, he is not bound to believe it, ask him respectfully, where his microscope has been?

Does not each of us, in coming into this world, go through a transformation just as wonderful as that of a sea-egg, or a butterfly? and do not reason and analogy, as well as Scripture, tell us that that transformation is not the last?

Am I earnest? Oh dear no! Don't you know that this is a fairy tale, and all fun and pretenence; and that you are not to believe one word of it, even if it is true?

When all the world is old, lad
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

Now if you don't like my story, then go to the schoolroom and learn your multiplication-table, and see if you like that better. Some people, no doubt, would do so. So much the better for us, if not for them. It takes all sorts, they say, to make a world.

Tom was now quite amphibious.

"Amphibious. Adjective, derived from two Greek words, amphi, a fish, and bios, a beast. An animal supposed by our ignorant ancestors to be compunded of a fish and a beast; which therefore, like the hippopotamus, can't live on the land, and dies in the water."

That is not strange: for you know, when you came into this world, and became a land-baby, you remember nothing. So why should [Tom], when he became a water-baby?

Then have you lived before?

For then the great fairy Science, who is likely to be the queen of all the fairies for many a year to come... and instead of fancying... that your body makes your soul, as if a steam-engine could make its own coke; or... that your soul has nothing to do with your body, but is stuck into it like a pin into a pin-cushion, to fall out with the first shake;- you will believe the one true, orthodox, inductive, rational, deductive, philosohpical, seductive, logical, productive, irrefragable, salutary, nominalistic, comfortable, realistic, and on-all-accounts-to-be-received doctrine of this wonderful fairy tale; which is that your soul makes your body, just as a snail makes his shell.

Then came a flash brighter than all the rest, and by the light of it - in the thousandth part of a second they were gone again Three beautiful little white girls, with their arms twined round each other's necks, floating down the torrent, as they sang. "Down to the sea, down to the sea!"

For as you must know, no enemies are so bitter against each other as those who are of the same race; and a salmon looks on a trout, as some great folks look on some little folks, as something just too much like himself to be tolerated.

"Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things
We murder to dissect.

Enough of science and art,
Close up these barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives."


Letting water-babies die is as bad as taking singing birds'eggs; for though there are thousands, ay, millions, of both of them in the world, yet there is not one too many.

Then there came in a great lazy sunfish... and, when Tom questioned him, he answered in a little squeaky feeble voice:

"I'm sure I don't know; I've lost my way..."

And, when Tom asked him again, he could only answer, "I've lost my way. Don't talk to me; I want to think."

But, like a good many other people, the more he tried to think the less he could think; and Tom saw him blundering about all day, till the coast-guardsmen saw his big fin above the water... and took him away. They took him up to the town and showed him for a penny a head, and made a good day's work of it. But of course Tom did not know that.

But the professor had gone, I am sorry to say, even further than [proving that apes had hippotamus majors in their brains just as men have]; for he had read at the British Association at Melbourne, Australia, in the year 1999, a paper which assured every one who found himself the better or wiser for the news, that there were not,never had been, and could not be, any rational or half-rational beings except men, anywhere, anywhen, or anyhow; that nymphs, satyrs, fauns, inui, dwarfs, trolls, elves, gnomes, fairies, brownies, nixies, wilis, kobolds, leprechaunes, cluricaunes, banshees, will-o'-the-wisps, follets, lutins, magots, goblins, afrits, marids, jinns, ghouls, peris, deevs, angels, archangels, imps, bogies, or worse, were nothing at all, and pure bosh and wind.

From all which you may guess that the professor was not the least of little Ellie's opinion. So he gave her a succinct compendium of his famous paper at the British Association, in a form suited for the youth mind...

Now little Ellie was, I suppose a stupid little girl; for... she only asked the same question over again.

"But why are there not water-babies?"

"Because there ain't.

Which was not even good English... the professor ought to have said, if he was so angry as to say anything of the kind Because they are not; or are none: or are none of them; or... they do not exist.

"Dear me!" [Professor Ptthmllnsprts] cried. "What a large pink Holothurian; with hands, too! It must be connected with Synapta."

And he took [Tom] out.

"It has actually eyes!"he cried. "Why, it must be a Cephalopod! This is most extraordinary!"

He would... have called him Hydrotecnon Ptthmllnsprtsiannum, or some long name like that; for they are forced to call everything by long names now, because they have used up all the short ones, ever since they took to making nine species out of one.

There was a wise old heathen once, who said, "Maxima debetur pueris reverentia." The greatest reverence is due to children.

Now, if the professor had said to Ellie, "Yes, my darling, it is a water-baby, and a very wonderful thing it is; and it shows how little of the wonders of nature, in spite of forty years'honest labour... little Ellie would have believed him more firmly, and respected him more deeply, and loved him better, than ever she had done before. But he was of a different opinion... He longed to keep Tom, and yet he half wished he never had caught him;... So he turned away and... said carelessly, "My dear little maid, you must have dreamt of water-babies last night, your head is so full of them."

Too late!... as she sprang down, she lipped, and fell some six feet... and lay quite still.

The professor picked her up... and cried over her, for he loved her very much: but she would not waken at all. So... little Ellie was put to bed, and lay there quite still; only now and then she woke up and called out about the water-baby: but no one knew what she meant, and the professor did not tell, for he was too ashamed to tell.

And... one moonlight night, the fairies came flying in at the window and brought her such a pretty pair of wings that she could not help putting them on; and she flew with them out of the window, and over the land, and over the sea, and up through the clouds, and nobody heard or see anything of her for a very long while.

So [the old fairy] took the poor professor in hand: and because he was not content with things as they are, she filled his head with things as they were not, to try if he would like them better; and because he did not choose to believe in a water-baby when he saw it, she made him believe in worse things than water-babies in unicorns, fire-drakes, manticoras, basilisks, amphisboenas, griffins, phoenixes, rocs,orcs, dog-headed men, three-headed dogs, three-bodied, greyons, and other pleasant creatures, which folks think never exsited yet, and which folks hope never will exist, though they know nothing about the matter and never will.

So all the doctors in the country were called in to make a report on [Professor's Ptthmllnsprts] case; and of course everyone of them flatly contradicted the other; else what use is there in being men of science? But at last the majority agreeed on a report in the true medical language, one half bad Latin, the other half worse Greek, and the rest what might have been English, if they had only learnt to write it. And this is the beginning thereof."

The subanhypaposupernal anastomoses of peritomic diacellurite in the encephalo digital region of the distinguised individual of whose symptomatic phoenomena we had the melancholy honour (subsequently to a preliminary diagnostic inspection) of making an inspectorial diagnosis presenting the interexclusively quadrilateral and antinomian diathesis known as Bumperstein's blue follicles, we proceed."

A light tax on words over three syllables, which are necessary evils, like rats: but, like them, must be kept down judiciously.

A heavy tax on words over four syllables, as heterodoxy, spontaneity, spiritualism, spuriosity, etc.

And on words over five syllables... a totally prohibitory tax.

Now the doctors had it all their own way; and to work they went in earnest, and they gave the poor professor divers and sundry medicines, as prescribed by the ancients and moderns, from Hippocrates to Feuchtersleben, as below, viz.-

1. Hellebore, to wit -
Hellebore of Ăta.
Hellebore of Galatia.
Hellebore of Sicily.
And all other Hellebores, after the method of the Helleborising Helleborists of the Helleboric era. But that would not do. Bumpsterhausen's blue follicles would not stir an inch out of his encephalo digital region.

2. Trying to find out what was the matter with him, after the method of
Colius Aurelianus,
And Galen:

But they found that a great deal too much trouble, as most people have since; and so had recourse to -

3. Borage.

Boring a hole in his head to let out fumes, which (says Gordonius) "will, without doubt, do much good."But it didn't."

Mandrake pillows.
Dormouse fat.
Salts and senna.
Bucketings with cold water.
Knockings down.
Kneeling on his chest till they broke it in, etc. etc.; after the medieval or monkish method: but that would not do. Bumpsterhausen's blue follicles stuck there still.

Then -

4. Coaxing.
Champagne and turtle.
Red herrings and soda water.
Good advice.
Musical soirees.
Aunt Salty.
Mild tobacco.
The Saturday Review.
A carriage with outriders, etc. etc.
After the modern method. But that would not do.
..., viz. -

5. Suffumigations of sulphur.
Herrwiggius his "Incomparable drink for madmen:":

Only they could not find out what it was.

Suffumigation of the liver of the fish. Only they had forgotten its name
But could not get one that mentioned water-babies.

Geopathy, or burying him.
Atmopathy, or steaming him.
Sympathy, after the method of Basil Valentine his Triumph of Antimony, and Kenelm Digby his Weapon-salve, which some call a hair of the dog that bit him.
Hermopathy, or pouring mercury down his throat to move the animal spirits.
Meteoropathy, or going up to the moon to look for his lost wits, as Ruggiero did for Orlando Furioso's: only, having no hippogriff, they were forced to use a balloon; and, falling into the North Sea, were picked up by a Yarmouth herring-boat, and came home much the wiser, and all over scales.
Antipathy, or using him like "a man and a brother."
Apathy, or doing nothing at all.
With all other ipathies and opathies which Noodle has invented, and Foodle tried, since black-fellows chipped flints at Abbeville - which is a considerable time ago, to judge by the Great Exhibition.

But nothing would do; for he screamed and cried all day for a water-baby, to come and drive away the monsters; and of course they did not try to find one, because they did not believe in them, and were thinking of nothing but Bumpsterhausen's blue follicles; having, as usual, set the cart before the horse, and taken the effect for the cause.

So they were forced at last to let the poor professor ease his mind by writing a great book, exactly contrary to all his old opinions; in which he proved that the moon was made of green cheese, and that all the mites in it .....are nothing in the world but little babies, who are hatching millions, ready to come down into this world whenever children want a new little brother or sister.

Which must be a mistake, for this one reason: that, there being no atmosphere round the moon .....there can be no evaporation; and therefore the dew-point can never fall below 71.5 degrees below zero of Fahrenheit: and, therefore, it cannot be cold enough there about four o'clock in the morning to condense the babies'mesenteric apophthegms into their left ventricles; and, therefore, they can never catch the hooping-cough; and if they do not have hooping-cough, they cannot be babies at all; and, therefore, there are no babies in the moon. - Q.E.D.

Which may seem a roundabout reason; and so, perhaps, it is: but you will have heard worse ones in your time, and from better men than you are.

"I did not know there was any harm in it," said Tom.

"Then you know now. People continually say that to me: but I tell them, if you don't know that fire burns, that is no reason that it should not burn you; and if you don't know that dirt breeds fever, that is no reason why the fevers should not kill you. The lobster did not know that there was any harm in getting into the lobster-pot; but it caught him all the same."

"I never was made, my child; and I shall go for ever and ever; for I am as old as Eternity, and yet as young as Time."

"... she was like a great many people who have not a pretty feature in their faces, and yet are lovely to behold, and draw little children's hearts to them at once; because though the house is plainly enough, yet from the windows a beautiful and good spirit is looking forth."

"... as if wasps' waists and pigs' toes could be pretty, or wholesome, or of any use to anybody."

"And then Tom heard all the other babies coming... and the noise that they made was just like the noise of the ripple. So he knew that he had been hearing and seeing the water-babies all along; only he did not know that, because his eyes and ears were not opened."

"Like a great many fox-hunters, [Mr. Lobster] was very sharp as long as he was in his own country; but as soon as they get out of it they lose their heads..."

"Don't go away," said little Tom. "This is so nice. I never had any one to cuddle me before."

"But, when he saw all the nice things inside, instead of being delighted, he was quite frightened, and wished he had never come there. And then he would only touch them, and he did; and then he would only taste one, and he did;... and then he would only eat two, and then three, and so on; and then he was terrified lest she should come and catch him, and began gobbling them down so fast that he did not taste them, or have any pleasure in them; and then he felt sick, and would have only one more; and then only one more again; and so on till he had eaten them all up."

"She took off her spectacles, because she did not like to see too much; and in her pity she arched up her eyebrows into her very hair, and her eyes grew so wide that they would have taken in all the sorrows of the world, and filled with great big tears, as they too often do.

But all she said was:

"Ah, you poor little dear! you are just like all the rest."

"Ah," said naughty Tom, "I see what you want; you are persuading me all along to go, because you are tired of me, and want to get rid of me."

Little Ellie opened her eyes very wide at that, and they were all brimming over with tears.

And Tom cried, "Oh, Ellie, where are you?"


"Oh!" said Tom. "Oh dear, oh dear! I have been naughty to Ellie, and I have killed her - I know I have killed her."

And at that Tom cried so bitterly that the salt sea was swelled with his tears, and the tide was .3,954,620,819 of an inch higher than it had been the day before: but perhaps that was owing to the waxing of the moon.

[The DoasyouLikes] lived very much such a life as those jolly old Greeks in Sicily, whom you may see painted on the ancient vases, and really there seemed to be great excuses for them, for they had no need to work...

And they sat under the flapdoodle-trees, and let the flapdoodle drop into their mouths; and under the vines, and squeezed the grape-juice down their throats; and, if any little pigs ran about ready roasted, crying, "Come and eat me," as was their fashion in that country, they waited till the pigs ran against their mouths, and then took a bite, and were content, just as so many oysters would have been.

"Something fearfully like it, poor foolish creatures,"said the fairy. "[The DoAsYouLikes] are grown so stupid now, that they can hardly think: for none of them have used their wits for many hundred years. They have almost forgotten, too, how to talk... I am afraid they will all be apes very soon, and all by doing only what they liked."

And that was the end of the great and jolly nation of the Doasyoulikes. And, when Tom and Ellie came to the end of the book, they looked very sad and solemn; and they had good reason so to do, for they really fancied that the men were apes, and never thought, in their simplicity, of asking whether the creatures had hippopotamus majors in their brains or not; in which case, as you have been told already, they could not possibly have been apes, though they were more apish than the apes of all aperies.

"But could you not have saved them from becoming apes?"said little Ellie, at last.

"At first, my dear; if only they would have behaved like men, and set to work to do what they did not like. But the longer they waited, and behaved like the dumb beasts, who only do what they like, the stupider and clumsier they grew; till at last they were past all cure, for they had thrown their own wits away. It is such things as this that help to make me so ugly, that I know not when I shall grow fair."

"And where are they all now?"asked Ellie.

"Exactly where they ought to be, my dear."

"Folks say now that I can make beasts into men, by circumstance, and selection, and competition, and so forth. Well, perhaps they are right; and perhaps, again, they are wrong. That is one of the seven things which I am forbidden to tell, till the coming of the Cocqcigrues; and, at all events, it is no concern of theirs."

"And he wandered away and away
With Nature, the dear old Nurse,
Who sang to him night and day
The rhymes of the universe."


Then [Tom] watched the sailors upon deck, and the ladies, with their bonnets and parasols: but none of them could see him, because their eyes were not opened, - as, indeed, most people's eyes are not.

"Babies in the sea? Well, perhaps it is the happiest place for them;"and waved her hand to Tom, and cried, "Wait a little, darling, only a little: and perhaps we shall go with you and be at rest."

"Yes... and if people are not gentleman and ladies, and forget that noblesse oblige, they will find it as easy to get on in the world as other people who don't care what they do. Why, if I had not recollected that noblesse oblige, I should not have been all alone now."

Tom... made his bow to the Gairfowl. But she would not return his bow: but held herself bolt upright, and wept tears of oil as she sang:

"And so the poor stone was left all alone; With a fal-lal-la-lady."

But she was wrong there; for the stone was not left all alone: and the next time that Tom goes by it, he will see a sight worth seeing.

The old Gairfowl is gone already: but there are better things come in her place.

"But [the hoodie-crows] are true republicans, these hoodies, who do every one just what he likes, and make other people do so too; so that, for any freedom of speech, thought, or action, which is allowed among them, they might as well be American citizens of the new school."

Why, after [the poor little dog] had kicked and coughed a little, he sneezed so hard, that he sneezed himself clean out of his skin, and turned into a water-dog, and jumped and danced round Tom, and ran over the crests of the waves, and snapped at the jelly-fish and the mackerel, and followed Tom the whole way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.

"A lucky voyage to you, lad,"said the mollys; "we knew you were one of the right sort. So good-bye."

"Why don't you come too?"asked Tom.

But the mollys only wailed sadly, "We can't go yet, we can't go yet," and flew away over the pack.

[Tom] expected, of course - like some grown people who ought to know better - to find [Mother Carey] snipping, piecing, fitting, stitching, cobbling, basting, filing, planing, hammering, turning, polishing, moulding, measuring, chiselling, clipping, and so forth, as men do when they go to work to make anything.

But, instead of that, she sat quite still with her chin upon her hand, looking down into the sea with two great grand blue eyes, as blue as the sea itself. Her hair was as white as the snow - for she was very very old - in fact, as old as anything which you are likely to come across, except the difference between right and wrong.

"You ought to know yourself, for you have been there already."

"Have I, ma'am? I'm sure I forget all about it."

"Then look at me."

And, as Tom looked into her great blue eyes, he recollected the way perfectly.

Tom thought; and behold, he had forgotten it utterly.

"That is because you took your eyes off me."

"You must do without me, as most people have to do, for nine hundred and ninety-nine thousandths of their lives; and look at the dog instead; for he knows the way well enough, and will not forget it... you must go the whole way backward."

"Backward!" cried Tom. "Then I shall not be able to see my way."

"On the contrary, if you look forward, you will not see a step before you, and be certain to go wrong; but, if you look behind you... and especially keep your eye on the dog, who goes by instinct, and therefore can't go wrong, then you will know what is coming next, as plainly as if you saw it in a looking-glass."

"Once on a time, there were two brothers. One was called Prometheus, because he always looked before him, and boasted that he was wise beforehand. The other was called Epimetheus, because he always looked behind him, and did not boast at all; but said humbly, like the Irishman, that he had sooner prophesy after the event.

"Well, Prometheus was a very clever fellow, of course, and invented all sorts of wonderful things. But, unfortunately, when they were set to work, to work was just what they would not do: wherefore very little has come of them, and very little is left of them; and now nobody knows what they were...

"But Epimetheus was a very slow fellow, certainly, and went among men for a clod, and a muff, and a milksop, and a slowcoach, and a bloke, and a boodle, and so forth. And very little he did, for many years: but what he did, he never had to do over again.

"... There came to the two brothers the most beautiful creature that ever was seen, Pandora by name; which means... But because she had a strange box in her hand, this fanciful, forecasting, suspicious, prudential, theoretical, deductive, prophesying Prometheus, who was always settling what was going to happen, would have nothing to do with pretty Pandora and her box.

"But Epimetheus took her and it, as he took everything that came; and married her for better for worse, as every man ought, whenever he has even the chance of a good wife. And they opened the box between them...

"And out flew all the ills which flesh is heir to; all the children of the four great bogies, Self-will, Ignorance, Fear, and Dirt - for instance:...

But one thing remained at the bottom of the box, and that was, Hope.

"So Epimetheus got a great deal of trouble... but he got the three best things in the world into the bargain - a good wife, and experience, and hope: while Prometheus had just as much trouble, and a great deal more... of his own making; with nothing beside, save fancies spun out of his own brain, as a spider spins her web out of her stomach.

"And Prometheus kept on looking before him so far ahead, that as he was running about with a box of lucifers (which were the only useful things he ever invented, and do as much harm as good... whereby he set the Thames on fire; and they have hardly put it out again yet. So he had to be chained to the top of a mountain, with a vulture by him to give him a peck whenever he stirred, lest he should turn the whole world upside down with his prophecies and his theories.

"But stupid old Epimetheus went working and grubbing on, with the help of his wife Pandora, always looking behind him to see what had happened... and understood so well which side his bread was buttered, and which way the cat jumped, that he began to make things which would work, and go on working, too; to till and drain the ground, and to make looms, and ships, and railroads, and steam ploughs, and electric telegraphs, and all the things which you see in the Great Exhibition;...

"And his children are the men of science, who get good lasting work done in the world; but the children of Prometheus are the fanatics, and the theorists, and the bigots, and the bores, and the noisy windy people, who go telling silly folk what will happen, instead of looking to see what has happened already."

Next he saw all the little people in the world, writing all the little books in the world, about all the other little people in the world; probably because they had no great people to write about: and if the names of the books were not Squeeky, nor the Pump- lighter, nor the Narrow Narrow World, nor the Hills of the Chattermuch, nor the Children's Twaddeday, why then they were something else. And, all the rest of the little people in the world read the books, and thought themselves each as good as the President; and perhaps they were right, for every one knows his own business best. But Tom thought he would sooner have a jolly good fairy tale, about Jack the Giant-killer or Beauty and the Beast, which taught him something that he didn't know already.

And there he found all the wise people instructing mankind in the science of spirit-rapping, while their house was burning over their heads: and when Tom told them of the fire, they held an indignation meeting forthwith, and unanimously determined to hang Tom's dog for coming into their country with gunpowder in his mouth. . Tom couldn't help saying that... he would have called for the fire-engines before he hanged other people's dogs.Whereon they recommenced rapping for the spirits of their fathers; and very much astonished the poor old spirits were when they came, and saw how... their descendants had weakened their constitution by hard living.

[On the Island of Polupragmosyne] every one knows his neighbour's business better than his own; and a very noisy place it is... considering that all the inhabitants are ex officio on the wrong side of the house in the "Parliament of Man, and the Federation of the World;" and are always making wry mouths, and crying that the fairies' grapes were sour.

"You mustn't go west, I tell you; it is destruction to go west."

"But I am not going west, as you may see,"said Tom.

And another, "The east lies here, my dear; I assure you this is the east."

"But I don't want to go east,"said Tom.

"Well, then, at all events, whichever way you are going, you are going wrong," cried they all with one voice.

And there he fell in with a deep, dark, deadly, and destructive war, waged by the princes and potentates of those parts, both spiritual and temporal... all their strategy and art military consisted in the safe and easy process of stopping their ears and screaming, "Oh, don't tell us!" and then running away.

On the borders of that island he found Gotham, where the wise men live; the same who dragged the pond because the moon had fallen into it, and planted a hedge round the cuckoo, to keep spring all the year. And he found them bricking up the town gate, because it was so wide that little folks could not get through. And, when he asked why, they told him they were expanding their liturgy.

And having bagged his bat, up he got, and on he went; while all the people ran, being in none the better humour for having their temple smashed for the sake of three obscure species of Podurella, and a Buddhist bat.

"Well,"thought Tom, "this is a very pretty quarrel, with a good deal to be said on both sides. But it is no business of mine."

And no more it was, because he was a water-baby, and had the original sow by the right ear; which you will never have, unless you be a baby, whether of the water, the land, or the air, matters not, provided you can only keep on continually being a baby.

"Jack shall have Gill
Nought shall go ill
The man shall have his mare again, and all go well."

"I can't learn my lesson: the examiner's coming!"

"I can't learn my lesson; do come and help me!"And one cried, "Can you show me how to extract this square root?"

And another, "Can you tell me the distance between [alpha] Lyrae and [beta] Camelopardis?"

And another, "What is the latitude and longitude of Snooksville, in Noman's County, Oregon, U.S.?"

And another, "What was the name of Mutius Scaevola's thirteenth cousin's grandmother's maid's cat?"

And another, "How long would it take a school-inspector of average activity to tumble head over heels from London to York?"

And another, "Can you tell me the name of a place that nobody ever heard of, where nothing ever happened, in a country which has not been discovered yet?"

And another, "Can you show me how to correct this hopelessly corrupt passage of Graidiocolosyrtus Tabenniticus, on the cause why crocodiles have no tongues?"

...So [the Tomtoddy's] mamma says that [his] intellect is not adapted for methodic science, and says that [he] must go in for general information."

Tom thought he was crying: but it was only his poor brains running away, from being worked so hard; and as Tom talked, the unhappy turnip streamed down all over with juice, and split and shrank till nothing was left of him but rind and water; whereat Tom ran away in a fright, for he thought he might be taken up for killing the turnip.

But, on the contrary, the turnip's parents were highly delighted, and considered him a saint and a martyr, and put up a long inscription over his tomb about his wonderful talents, early development, and unparalleled precocity... But even they are no foolisher than some hundred score of papas and mammas, who fetch the rod when they ought to fetch a new toy, and send to the dark cupboard instead of to the doctor.

"You see,"said the stick, "[The Tomtoddies] were as pretty little children... but their foolish fathers and mothers, instead of letting them pick flowers, and make dirt-pies, and get birds'nests, and dance round the gooseberry bush, as little children should, kept them always at lessons, working, working, working, learning week-day lessons all week-days, and Sunday lessons all Sunday, and weekly examinations every Saturday, and monthly examinations every month, and yearly examinations every year, everything seven times over... till their brains grew big, and their bodies grew small, and they were all changed into turnips, with little but water inside; and still their foolish parents actually pick the leaves off them as fast as they grow, lest they should have anything green about them."

"What are you crying for?"said Tom.

"Because I am not as frightened as I could wish to be."

"Because we are not like those clumsy-made truncheons in the land- world, which cannot go without having a whole man to carry them about. We do our own work for ourselves; and do it very well, though I say it who should not."

"Then why have you a thong to your handle?"asked Tom.

"To hang ourselves up by, of course, when we are off duty."

"And of course Tom married Ellie?"

My dear child, what a silly notion! Don't you know that no one ever marries in a fairy tale, under the rank of a prince or a princess?

Oh, you may see [Tom's dog] any clear night in July; for the old dog-star was so worn out by the last three hot summers that there have been no dog-days since; so that they had to take him down and put Tom's dog up in his place.

['efts in the ponds'] never did anybody any harm, or could if they tried; and their only fault is, that they do no good - any more than some thousands of their betters. But what with ducks, and what with pike, and what with sticklebacks, and what with water-beetles, and what with naughty boys...; and some folks can't help hoping, with good Bishop Butler, that they may have another chance, to make things fair and even, somewhere, somewhen, somehow.

But remember always, as I told you at first, that this is all a fairy tale, and only fun and pretence: and, therefore, you are not to believe a word of it, even if it is true.