Now it is time to stop. Is there anything more you want to know? for you look as if something was puzzling you still.
Were there any men in the world while all this was going on?
I think not. We have no proof that there were not: but also we have no proof that there were; the cave-men, of whom I told you, lived many ages after the coal was covered up. You seem to be sorry that there were no men in the world then.
Because it seems a pity that there was no one to see those beautiful coral-reefs and coal-forests.
No one to see them, my child? Who told you that? Who told you there are not, and never have been any rational beings in this vast universe, save certain weak, ignorant, short-sighted creatures shaped like you and me? But even if it were so, and no created eye had ever beheld those ancient wonders, and no created heart ever enjoyed them, is there not one Uncreated who has seen them and enjoyed them from the beginning? Were not these creatures enjoying themselves each after their kind? And was there not a Father in Heaven who was enjoying their enjoyment, and enjoying too their beauty, which He had formed according to the ideas of His Eternal Mind? Recollect what you were told on Trinity Sunday—That this world was not made for man alone: but that man, and this world, and the whole Universe was made for God; for He created all things, and for His pleasure they are, and were created.
Where were we to go next? Into the far west, to see how all the way along the railroads the new rocks and soils lie above the older, and yet how, when we get westward, the oldest rocks rise highest into the air.
Well, we will go: but not, I think, to-day. Indeed I hardly know how we could get as far as Reading; for all the world is in the hay-field, and even the old horse must go thither too, and take his turn at the hay-cart. Well, the rocks have been where they are for many a year, and they will wait our leisure patiently enough: but Midsummer and the hay-field will not wait. Let us take what God gives when He sends it, and learn the lesson that lies nearest to us. After all, it is more to my old mind, and perhaps to your young mind too, to look at things which are young and fresh and living, rather than things which are old and worn and dead. Let us leave the old stones, and the old bones, and the old shells, the wrecks of ancient worlds which have gone down into the kingdom of death, to teach us their grand lessons some other day; and let us look now at the world of light and life and beauty, which begins here at the open door, and stretches away over the hay-fields, over the woods, over the southern moors, over sunny France, and sunnier Spain, and over the tropic seas, down to the equator, and the palm-groves of the eternal summer. If we cannot find something, even at starting from the open door, to teach us about Why and How, we must be very short-sighted, or very shallow-hearted.