This was a case of metaphysics, at least as difficult for Joe to deal with, as for me. But Joe took the case altogether out of the region of metaphysics, and by that means vanquished it.
“There’s one thing you may be sure of, Pip,” said Joe, after some rumination, “namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they didn’t ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don’t you tell no more of ’em, Pip. That ain’t the way to get out of being common, old chap. And as to being common, I don’t make it out at all clear. You are oncommon in some things. You’re oncommon small. Likewise you’re a oncommon scholar.”
“No, I am ignorant and backward, Joe.”
“Why, see what a letter you wrote last night! Wrote in print even! I’ve seen letters — Ah! and from gentlefolks! — that I’ll swear weren’t wrote in print,” said Joe.
“I have learnt next to nothing, Joe. You think much of me. It’s only that.”
“Well, Pip,” said Joe, “be it so or be it son’t, you must be a common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The king upon his throne, with his crown upon his ’ed, can’t sit and write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet — Ah!” added Joe, with a shake of the head that was full of meaning, “and begun at A too, and worked his way to Z. And I know what that is to do, though I can’t say I’ve exactly done it.”
There was some hope in this piece of wisdom, and it rather encouraged me.
“Whether common ones as to callings and earnings,” pursued Joe, reflectively, “mightn’t be the better of continuing for a keep company with common ones, instead of going out to play with oncommon ones — which reminds me to hope that there were a flag, perhaps?”
“(I’m sorry there weren’t a flag, Pip). Whether that might be, or mightn’t be, is a thing as can’t be looked into now, without putting your sister on the Rampage; and that’s a thing not to be thought of, as being done intentional. Lookee here, Pip, at what is said to you by a true friend. Which this to you the true friend say. If you can’t get to be oncommon through going straight, you’ll never get to do it through going crooked. So don’t tell no more on ’em, Pip, and live well and die happy.”
“You are not angry with me, Joe?”
“No, old chap. But bearing in mind that them were which I meantersay of a stunning and outdacious sort — alluding to them which bordered on weal-cutlets and dog-fighting — a sincere wellwisher would adwise, Pip, their being dropped into your meditations, when you go up-stairs to bed. That’s all, old chap, and don’t never do it no more.”