Whereon Mr. Andrews, who seems to have been a very sensible old gentleman, tells him all about his curiosities: and then it comes out—if you will believe it—that Master William has been over the very same ground as Master Robert, who saw nothing at all.
Whereon Mr. Andrews says, wisely enough, in his solemn old-fashioned way,—
“So it is. One man walks through the world with his eyes open, another with his eyes shut; and upon this difference depends all the superiority of knowledge which one man acquires over another. I have known sailors who had been in all the quarters of the world, and could tell you nothing but the signs of the tippling-houses, and the price and quality of the liquor. On the other hand, Franklin could not cross the Channel without making observations useful to mankind. While many a vacant thoughtless youth is whirled through Europe without gaining a single idea worth crossing the street for, the observing eye and inquiring mind find matter of improvement and delight in every ramble. You, then, William, continue to use your eyes. And you, Robert, learn that eyes were given to you to use.”
So said Mr. Andrews: and so I say, dear boys—and so says he who has the charge of you—to you. Therefore I beg all good boys among you to think over this story, and settle in their own minds whether they will be eyes or no eyes; whether they will, as they grow up, look and see for themselves what happens: or whether they will let other people look for them, or pretend to look; and dupe them, and lead them about—the blind leading the blind, till both fall into the ditch.
I say “good boys;” not merely clever boys, or prudent boys: because using your eyes, or not using them, is a question of doing Right or doing Wrong. God has given you eyes; it is your duty to God to use them. If your parents tried to teach you your lessons in the most agreeable way, by beautiful picture-books, would it not be ungracious, ungrateful, and altogether naughty and wrong, to shut your eyes to those pictures, and refuse to learn? And is it not altogether naughty and wrong to refuse to learn from your Father in Heaven, the Great God who made all things, when he offers to teach you all day long by the most beautiful and most wonderful of all picture-books, which is simply all things which you can see, hear, and touch, from the sun and stars above your head to the mosses and insects at your feet? It is your duty to learn His lessons: and it is your interest. God’s Book, which is the Universe, and the reading of God’s Book, which is Science, can do you nothing but good, and teach you nothing but truth and wisdom. God did not put this wondrous world about your young souls to tempt or to mislead them. If you ask Him for a fish, he will not give you a serpent. If you ask Him for bread, He will not give you a stone.