There have always been, and always will be, a few people who cannot see that. They think that a man’s soul is part of his body, and that he himself is not one thing, but a great number of things. They think that his mind and character are only made up of all the thoughts, and feelings, and recollections which have passed through his brain; and that as his brain changes, he himself must change, and become another person, and then another person again, continually. But do you not agree with them: but keep in mind wise Herder’s warning that you are not to “confound the organ with the power,” or the engine with the driver, or your body with yourself: and then we will go on and consider how a volcano, and the lava which flows from it, helps to make your body.
Now I know that the Scotch have a saying, “That you cannot make broth out of whinstones” (which is their name for lava). But, though they are very clever people, they are wrong there. I never saw any broth in Scotland, as far as I know, but what whinstones had gone to the making of it; nor a Scotch boy who had not eaten many a bit of whinstone, and been all the better for it.
Of course, if you simply put the whinstones into a kettle and boiled them, you would not get much out of them by such rough cookery as that. But Madam How is the best and most delicate of all cooks; and she knows how to pound, and soak, and stew whinstones so delicately, that she can make them sauce and seasoning for meat, vegetables, puddings, and almost everything that you eat; and can put into your veins things which were spouted up red-hot by volcanos, ages and ages since, perhaps at the bottom of ancient seas which are now firm dry land.
This is very strange—as all Madam How’s doings are. And you would think it stranger still if you had ever seen the flowing of a lava stream.
Out of a cave of slag and cinders in the black hillside rushes a golden river, flowing like honey, and yet so tough that you cannot thrust a stick into it, and so heavy that great stones (if you throw them on it) float on the top, and are carried down like corks on water. It is so hot that you cannot stand near it more than a few seconds; hotter, perhaps, than any fire you ever saw: but as it flows, the outside of it cools in the cool air, and gets covered with slag and cinders, something like those which you may see thrown out of the furnaces in the Black Country of Staffordshire. Sometimes these cling together above the lava stream, and make a tunnel, through the cracks in which you may see the fiery river rushing and roaring down below. But mostly they are kept broken and apart, and roll and slide over each other on the top of the lava, crashing and clanging as they grind together with a horrid noise. Of course that stream, like all streams, runs towards the lower grounds. It slides down glens, and fills them up; down the beds of streams, driving off the water in hissing steam; and sometimes (as it did in Iceland