The gentleman in the ample white cravat and shirt-frill, taking
his brandy-and-water so pleasantly with his good friend Tulliver,
is Mr. Riley, a gentleman with a waxen complexion and fat hands,
rather highly educated for an auctioneer and appraiser, but
large-hearted enough to show a great deal of bonhomie
toward simple country acquaintances of hospitable habits. Mr. Riley
spoke of such acquaintances kindly as "people of the old
The conversation had come to a pause. Mr. Tulliver, not without
a particular reason, had abstained from a seventh recital of the
cool retort by which Riley had shown himself too many for Dix, and
how Wakem had had his comb cut for once in his life, now the
business of the dam had been settled by arbitration, and how there
never would have been any dispute at all about the height of water
if everybody was what they should be, and Old Harry hadn't made the
Mr. Tulliver was, on the whole, a man of safe traditional
opinions; but on one or two points he had trusted to his unassisted
intellect, and had arrived at several questionable conclusions;
amongst the rest, that rats, weevils, and lawyers were created by
Old Harry. Unhappily he had no one to tell him that this was
rampant Manichaism, else he might have seen his error. But to-day
it was clear that the good principle was triumphant: this affair of
the water-power had been a tangled business somehow, for all it
seemed–look at it one way–as plain as water's water; but, big a
puzzle as it was, it hadn't got the better of Riley. Mr. Tulliver
took his brandy-and-water a little stronger than usual, and, for a
man who might be supposed to have a few hundreds lying idle at his
banker's, was rather incautiously open in expressing his high
estimate of his friend's business talents.
But the dam was a subject of conversation that would keep; it
could always be taken up again at the same point, and exactly in
the same condition; and there was another subject, as you know, on
which Mr. Tulliver was in pressing want of Mr. Riley's advice. This
was his particular reason for remaining silent for a short space
after his last draught, and rubbing his knees in a meditative
manner. He was not a man to make an abrupt transition. This was a
puzzling world, as he often said, and if you drive your wagon in a
hurry, you may light on an awkward corner. Mr. Riley, meanwhile,
was not impatient. Why should he be? Even Hotspur, one would think,
must have been patient in his slippers on a warm hearth, taking
copious snuff, and sipping gratuitous brandy-and-water.
"There's a thing I've got i' my head," said Mr. Tulliver at
last, in rather a lower tone than usual, as he turned his head and
looked steadfastly at his companion.
"Ah!" said Mr. Riley, in a tone of mild interest. He was a man
with heavy waxen eyelids and high-arched eyebrows, looking exactly
the same under all circumstances. This immovability of face, and
the habit of taking a pinch of snuff before he gave an answer, made
him trebly oracular to Mr. Tulliver.
"It's a very particular thing," he went on; "it's about my boy
At the sound of this name, Maggie, who was seated on a low stool
close by the fire, with a large book open on her lap, shook her
heavy hair back and looked up eagerly. There were few sounds that
roused Maggie when she was dreaming over her book, but Tom's name
served as well as the shrillest whistle; in an instant she was on
the watch, with gleaming eyes, like a Skye terrier suspecting
mischief, or at all events determined to fly at any one who
threatened it toward Tom.
"You see, I want to put him to a new school at Midsummer," said
Mr. Tulliver; "he's comin' away from the 'cademy at Lady-day, an' I
shall let him run loose for a quarter; but after that I want to
send him to a downright good school, where they'll make a scholard
"Well," said Mr. Riley, "there's no greater advantage you can
give him than a good education. Not," he added, with polite
significance,–"not that a man can't be an excellent miller and
farmer, and a shrewd, sensible fellow into the bargain, without
much help from the schoolmaster."
"I believe you," said Mr. Tulliver, winking, and turning his
head on one side; "but that's where it is. I don't mean
Tom to be a miller and farmer. I see no fun i' that. Why, if I made
him a miller an' farmer, he'd be expectin' to take to the mill an'
the land, an' a-hinting at me as it was time for me to lay by an'
think o' my latter end. Nay, nay, I've seen enough o' that wi'
sons. I'll never pull my coat off before I go to bed. I shall give
Tom an eddication an' put him to a business, as he may make a nest
for himself, an' not want to push me out o' mine. Pretty well if he
gets it when I'm dead an' gone. I sha'n't be put off wi' spoon-meat
afore I've lost my teeth."
This was evidently a point on which Mr. Tulliver felt strongly;
and the impetus which had given unusual rapidity and emphasis to
his speech showed itself still unexhausted for some minutes
afterward in a defiant motion of the head from side to side, and an
occasional "Nay, nay," like a subsiding growl.
These angry symptoms were keenly observed by Maggie, and cut her
to the quick. Tom, it appeared, was supposed capable of turning his
father out of doors, and of making the future in some way tragic by
his wickedness. This was not to be borne; and Maggie jumped up from
her stool, forgetting all about her heavy book, which fell with a
bang within the fender, and going up between her father's knees,
said, in a half-crying, half-indignant voice,–
"Father, Tom wouldn't be naughty to you ever; I know he
Mrs. Tulliver was out of the room superintending a choice
supper-dish, and Mr. Tulliver's heart was touched; so Maggie was
not scolded about the book. Mr. Riley quietly picked it up and
looked at it, while the father laughed, with a certain tenderness
in his hard-lined face, and patted his little girl on the back, and
then held her hands and kept her between his knees.
"What! they mustn't say any harm o' Tom, eh?" said Mr. Tulliver,
looking at Maggie with a twinkling eye. Then, in a lower voice,
turning to Mr. Riley, as though Maggie couldn't hear, "She
understands what one's talking about so as never was. And you
should hear her read,–straight off, as if she knowed it all
beforehand. And allays at her book! But it's bad–it's bad," Mr.
Tulliver added sadly, checking this blamable exultation. "A woman's
no business wi' being so clever; it'll turn to trouble, I doubt.
But bless you!"–here the exultation was clearly recovering the
mastery,–"she'll read the books and understand 'em better nor half
the folks as are growed up."
Maggie's cheeks began to flush with triumphant excitement. She
thought Mr. Riley would have a respect for her now; it had been
evident that he thought nothing of her before.
Mr. Riley was turning over the leaves of the book, and she could
make nothing of his face, with its high-arched eyebrows; but he
presently looked at her, and said,–
"Come, come and tell me something about this book; here are some
pictures,–I want to know what they mean."
Maggie, with deepening color, went without hesitation to Mr.
Riley's elbow and looked over the book, eagerly seizing one corner,
and tossing back her mane, while she said,–
"Oh, I'll tell you what that means. It's a dreadful picture,
isn't it? But I can't help looking at it. That old woman in the
water's a witch,–they've put her in to find out whether she's a
witch or no; and if she swims she's a witch, and if she's
drowned–and killed, you know–she's innocent, and not a witch, but
only a poor silly old woman. But what good would it do her then,
you know, when she was drowned? Only, I suppose, she'd go to
heaven, and God would make it up to her. And this dreadful
blacksmith with his arms akimbo, laughing,–oh, isn't he ugly?–I'll
tell you what he is. He's the Devil really" (here Maggie's
voice became louder and more emphatic), "and not a right
blacksmith; for the Devil takes the shape of wicked men, and walks
about and sets people doing wicked things, and he's oftener in the
shape of a bad man than any other, because, you know, if people saw
he was the Devil, and he roared at 'em, they'd run away, and he
couldn't make 'em do what he pleased."
Mr. Tulliver had listened to this exposition of Maggie's with
"Why, what book is it the wench has got hold on?" he burst out
"The 'History of the Devil,' by Daniel Defoe,–not quite the
right book for a little girl," said Mr. Riley. "How came it among
your books, Mr. Tulliver?"
Maggie looked hurt and discouraged, while her father said,–
"Why, it's one o' the books I bought at Partridge's sale. They
was all bound alike,–it's a good binding, you see,–and I thought
they'd be all good books. There's Jeremy Taylor's 'Holy Living and
Dying' among 'em. I read in it often of a Sunday" (Mr. Tulliver
felt somehow a familiarity with that great writer, because his name
was Jeremy); "and there's a lot more of 'em,–sermons mostly, I
think,–but they've all got the same covers, and I thought they were
all o' one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn't judge
by th' outside. This is a puzzlin' world."
"Well," said Mr. Riley, in an admonitory, patronizing tone as he
patted Maggie on the head, "I advise you to put by the 'History of
the Devil,' and read some prettier book. Have you no prettier
"Oh, yes," said Maggie, reviving a little in the desire to
vindicate the variety of her reading. "I know the reading in this
book isn't pretty; but I like the pictures, and I make stories to
the pictures out of my own head, you know. But I've got 'Asop's
Fables,' and a book about Kangaroos and things, and the 'Pilgrim's
"Ah, a beautiful book," said Mr. Riley; "you can't read a
"Well, but there's a great deal about the Devil in that," said
Maggie, triumphantly, "and I'll show you the picture of him in his
true shape, as he fought with Christian."
Maggie ran in an instant to the corner of the room, jumped on a
chair, and reached down from the small bookcase a shabby old copy
of Bunyan, which opened at once, without the least trouble of
search, at the picture she wanted.
"Here he is," she said, running back to Mr. Riley, "and Tom
colored him for me with his paints when he was at home last
holidays,–the body all black, you know, and the eyes red, like
fire, because he's all fire inside, and it shines out at his
"Go, go!" said Mr. Tulliver, peremptorily, beginning to feel
rather uncomfortable at these free remarks on the personal
appearance of a being powerful enough to create lawyers; "shut up
the book, and let's hear no more o' such talk. It is as I
thought–the child 'ull learn more mischief nor good wi' the books.
Go, go and see after your mother."
Maggie shut up the book at once, with a sense of disgrace, but
not being inclined to see after her mother, she compromised the
matter by going into a dark corner behind her father's chair, and
nursing her doll, toward which she had an occasional fit of
fondness in Tom's absence, neglecting its toilet, but lavishing so
many warm kisses on it that the waxen cheeks had a wasted,
"Did you ever hear the like on't?" said Mr. Tulliver, as Maggie
retired. "It's a pity but what she'd been the lad,–she'd ha' been a
match for the lawyers, she would. It's the wonderful'st
thing"–here he lowered his voice–"as I picked the mother because
she wasn't o'er 'cute–bein' a good-looking woman too, an' come of a
rare family for managing; but I picked her from her sisters o'
purpose, 'cause she was a bit weak like; for I wasn't agoin' to be
told the rights o' things by my own fireside. But you see when a
man's got brains himself, there's no knowing where they'll run to;
an' a pleasant sort o' soft woman may go on breeding you stupid
lads and 'cute wenches, till it's like as if the world was turned
topsy-turvy. It's an uncommon puzzlin' thing."
Mr. Riley's gravity gave way, and he shook a little under the
application of his pinch of snuff before he said,–
"But your lad's not stupid, is he? I saw him, when I was here
last, busy making fishing-tackle; he seemed quite up to it."
"Well, he isn't not to say stupid,–he's got a notion o' things
out o' door, an' a sort o' common sense, as he'd lay hold o' things
by the right handle. But he's slow with his tongue, you see, and he
reads but poorly, and can't abide the books, and spells all wrong,
they tell me, an' as shy as can be wi' strangers, an' you never
hear him say 'cute things like the little wench. Now, what I want
is to send him to a school where they'll make him a bit nimble with
his tongue and his pen, and make a smart chap of him. I want my son
to be even wi' these fellows as have got the start o' me with
having better schooling. Not but what, if the world had been left
as God made it, I could ha' seen my way, and held my own wi' the
best of 'em; but things have got so twisted round and wrapped up i'
unreasonable words, as aren't a bit like 'em, as I'm clean at
fault, often an' often. Everything winds about so–the more
straightforrad you are, the more you're puzzled."
Mr. Tulliver took a draught, swallowed it slowly, and shook his
head in a melancholy manner, conscious of exemplifying the truth
that a perfectly sane intellect is hardly at home in this insane
"You're quite in the right of it, Tulliver," observed Mr. Riley.
"Better spend an extra hundred or two on your son's education, than
leave it him in your will. I know I should have tried to do so by a
son of mine, if I'd had one, though, God knows, I haven't your
ready money to play with, Tulliver; and I have a houseful of
daughters into the bargain."
"I dare say, now, you know of a school as 'ud be just the thing
for Tom," said Mr. Tulliver, not diverted from his purpose by any
sympathy with Mr. Riley's deficiency of ready cash.
Mr. Riley took a pinch of snuff, and kept Mr. Tulliver in
suspense by a silence that seemed deliberative, before he
"I know of a very fine chance for any one that's got the
necessary money and that's what you have, Tulliver. The fact is, I
wouldn't recommend any friend of mine to send a boy to a regular
school, if he could afford to do better. But if any one wanted his
boy to get superior instruction and training, where he would be the
companion of his master, and that master a first rate fellow, I
know his man. I wouldn't mention the chance to everybody, because I
don't think everybody would succeed in getting it, if he were to
try; but I mention it to you, Tulliver, between ourselves."
The fixed inquiring glance with which Mr. Tulliver had been
watching his friend's oracular face became quite eager.
"Ay, now, let's hear," he said, adjusting himself in his chair
with the complacency of a person who is thought worthy of important
"He's an Oxford man," said Mr. Riley, sententiously, shutting
his mouth close, and looking at Mr. Tulliver to observe the effect
of this stimulating information.
"What! a parson?" said Mr. Tulliver, rather doubtfully.
"Yes, and an M.A. The bishop, I understand, thinks very highly
of him: why, it was the bishop who got him his present curacy."
"Ah?" said Mr. Tulliver, to whom one thing was as wonderful as
another concerning these unfamiliar phenomena. "But what can he
want wi' Tom, then?"
"Why, the fact is, he's fond of teaching, and wishes to keep up
his studies, and a clergyman has but little opportunity for that in
his parochial duties. He's willing to take one or two boys as
pupils to fill up his time profitably. The boys would be quite of
the family,–the finest thing in the world for them; under
Stelling's eye continually."
"But do you think they'd give the poor lad twice o' pudding?"
said Mrs. Tulliver, who was now in her place again. "He's such a
boy for pudding as never was; an' a growing boy like that,–it's
dreadful to think o' their stintin' him."
"And what money 'ud he want?" said Mr. Tulliver, whose instinct
told him that the services of this admirable M.A. would bear a high
"Why, I know of a clergyman who asks a hundred and fifty with
his youngest pupils, and he's not to be mentioned with Stelling,
the man I speak of. I know, on good authority, that one of the
chief people at Oxford said, Stelling might get the highest honors
if he chose. But he didn't care about university honors; he's a
quiet man–not noisy."
"Ah, a deal better–a deal better," said Mr. Tulliver; "but a
hundred and fifty's an uncommon price. I never thought o' paying so
much as that."
"A good education, let me tell you, Tulliver,–a good education
is cheap at the money. But Stelling is moderate in his terms; he's
not a grasping man. I've no doubt he'd take your boy at a hundred,
and that's what you wouldn't get many other clergymen to do. I'll
write to him about it, if you like."
Mr. Tulliver rubbed his knees, and looked at the carpet in a
"But belike he's a bachelor," observed Mrs. Tulliver, in the
interval; "an' I've no opinion o' housekeepers. There was my
brother, as is dead an' gone, had a housekeeper once, an' she took
half the feathers out o' the best bed, an' packed 'em up an' sent
'em away. An' it's unknown the linen she made away with–Stott her
name was. It 'ud break my heart to send Tom where there's a
housekeeper, an' I hope you won't think of it, Mr. Tulliver."
"You may set your mind at rest on that score, Mrs. Tulliver,"
said Mr. Riley, "for Stelling is married to as nice a little woman
as any man need wish for a wife. There isn't a kinder little soul
in the world; I know her family well. She has very much your
complexion,–light curly hair. She comes of a good Mudport family,
and it's not every offer that would have been acceptable in that
quarter. But Stelling's not an every-day man; rather a particular
fellow as to the people he chooses to be connected with. But I
think he would have no objection to take your son; I
think he would not, on my representation."
"I don't know what he could have against the lad," said
Mrs. Tulliver, with a slight touch of motherly indignation; "a nice
fresh-skinned lad as anybody need wish to see."
"But there's one thing I'm thinking on," said Mr. Tulliver,
turning his head on one side and looking at Mr. Riley, after a long
perusal of the carpet. "Wouldn't a parson be almost too high-learnt
to bring up a lad to be a man o' business? My notion o' the parsons
was as they'd got a sort o' learning as lay mostly out o' sight.
And that isn't what I want for Tom. I want him to know figures, and
write like print, and see into things quick, and know what folks
mean, and how to wrap things up in words as aren't actionable. It's
an uncommon fine thing, that is," concluded Mr. Tulliver, shaking
his head, "when you can let a man know what you think of him
without paying for it."
"Oh, my dear Tulliver," said Mr. Riley, "you're quite under a
mistake about the clergy; all the best schoolmasters are of the
clergy. The schoolmasters who are not clergymen are a very low set
of men generally."
"Ay, that Jacobs is, at the 'cademy," interposed Mr.
"To be sure,–men who have failed in other trades, most likely.
Now, a clergyman is a gentleman by profession and education; and
besides that, he has the knowledge that will ground a boy, and
prepare him for entering on any career with credit. There may be
some clergymen who are mere bookmen; but you may depend upon it,
Stelling is not one of them,–a man that's wide awake, let me tell
you. Drop him a hint, and that's enough. You talk of figures, now;
you have only to say to Stelling, 'I want my son to be a thorough
arithmetician,' and you may leave the rest to him."
Mr. Riley paused a moment, while Mr. Tulliver, some-what
reassured as to clerical tutorship, was inwardly rehearsing to an
imaginary Mr. Stelling the statement, "I want my son to know
"You see, my dear Tulliver," Mr. Riley continued, "when you get
a thoroughly educated man, like Stelling, he's at no loss to take
up any branch of instruction. When a workman knows the use of his
tools, he can make a door as well as a window."
"Ay, that's true," said Mr. Tulliver, almost convinced now that
the clergy must be the best of schoolmasters.
"Well, I'll tell you what I'll do for you," said Mr. Riley, "and
I wouldn't do it for everybody. I'll see Stelling's father-in-law,
or drop him a line when I get back to Mudport, to say that you wish
to place your boy with his son-in-law, and I dare say Stelling will
write to you, and send you his terms."
"But there's no hurry, is there?" said Mrs. Tulliver; "for I
hope, Mr. Tulliver, you won't let Tom begin at his new school
before Midsummer. He began at the 'cademy at the Lady-day quarter,
and you see what good's come of it."
"Ay, ay, Bessy, never brew wi' bad malt upo' Michael-masday,
else you'll have a poor tap," said Mr. Tulliver, winking and
smiling at Mr. Riley, with the natural pride of a man who has a
buxom wife conspicuously his inferior in intellect. "But it's true
there's no hurry; you've hit it there, Bessy."
"It might be as well not to defer the arrangement too long,"
said Mr. Riley, quietly, "for Stelling may have propositions from
other parties, and I know he would not take more than two or three
boarders, if so many. If I were you, I think I would enter on the
subject with Stelling at once: there's no necessity for sending the
boy before Midsummer, but I would be on the safe side, and make
sure that nobody forestalls you."
"Ay, there's summat in that," said Mr. Tulliver.
"Father," broke in Maggie, who had stolen unperceived to her
father's elbow again, listening with parted lips, while she held
her doll topsy-turvy, and crushed its nose against the wood of the
chair,–"father, is it a long way off where Tom is to go? Sha'n't we
ever go to see him?"
"I don't know, my wench," said the father, tenderly. "Ask Mr.
Riley; he knows."
Maggie came round promptly in front of Mr. Riley, and said, "How
far is it, please, sir?"
"Oh, a long, long way off," that gentleman answered, being of
opinion that children, when they are not naughty, should always be
spoken to jocosely. "You must borrow the seven-leagued boots to get
"That's nonsense!" said Maggie, tossing her head haughtily, and
turning away, with the tears springing in her eyes. She began to
dislike Mr. Riley; it was evident he thought her silly and of no
"Hush, Maggie! for shame of you, asking questions and
chattering," said her mother. "Come and sit down on your little
stool, and hold your tongue, do. But," added Mrs. Tulliver, who had
her own alarm awakened, "is it so far off as I couldn't wash him
and mend him?"
"About fifteen miles; that's all," said Mr. Riley. "You can
drive there and back in a day quite comfortably. Or–Stelling is a
hospitable, pleasant man–he'd be glad to have you stay."
"But it's too far off for the linen, I doubt," said Mrs.
The entrance of supper opportunely adjourned this difficulty,
and relieved Mr. Riley from the labor of suggesting some solution
or compromise,–a labor which he would otherwise doubtless have
undertaken; for, as you perceive, he was a man of very obliging
manners. And he had really given himself the trouble of
recommending Mr. Stelling to his friend Tulliver without any
positive expectation of a solid, definite advantage resulting to
himself, notwithstanding the subtle indications to the contrary
which might have misled a too-sagacious observer. For there is
nothing more widely misleading than sagacity if it happens to get
on a wrong scent; and sagacity, persuaded that men usually act and
speak from distinct motives, with a consciously proposed end in
view, is certain to waste its energies on imaginary game.
Plotting covetousness and deliberate contrivance, in order to
compass a selfish end, are nowhere abundant but in the world of the
dramatist: they demand too intense a mental action for many of our
fellow-parishioners to be guilty of them. It is easy enough to
spoil the lives of our neighbors without taking so much trouble; we
can do it by lazy acquiescence and lazy omission, by trivial
falsities for which we hardly know a reason, by small frauds
neutralized by small extravagances, by maladroit flatteries, and
clumsily improvised insinuations. We live from hand to mouth, most
of us, with a small family of immediate desires; we do little else
than snatch a morsel to satisfy the hungry brood, rarely thinking
of seed-corn or the next year's crop.
Mr. Riley was a man of business, and not cold toward his own
interest, yet even he was more under the influence of small
promptings than of far-sighted designs. He had no private
understanding with the Rev. Walter Stelling; on the contrary, he
knew very little of that M.A. and his acquirements,–not quite
enough, perhaps, to warrant so strong a recommendation of him as he
had given to his friend Tulliver. But he believed Mr. Stelling to
be an excellent classic, for Gadsby had said so, and Gadsby's first
cousin was an Oxford tutor; which was better ground for the belief
even than his own immediate observation would have been, for though
Mr. Riley had received a tincture of the classics at the great
Mudport Free School, and had a sense of understanding Latin
generally, his comprehension of any particular Latin was not ready.
Doubtless there remained a subtle aroma from his juvenile contact
with the "De Senectute" and the fourth book of the "Aneid," but it
had ceased to be distinctly recognizable as classical, and was only
perceived in the higher finish and force of his auctioneering
style. Then, Stelling was an Oxford man, and the Oxford men were
always–no, no, it was the Cambridge men who were always good
mathematicians. But a man who had had a university education could
teach anything he liked; especially a man like Stelling, who had
made a speech at a Mudport dinner on a political occasion, and had
acquitted himself so well that it was generally remarked, this
son-in-law of Timpson's was a sharp fellow. It was to be expected
of a Mudport man, from the parish of St. Ursula, that he would not
omit to do a good turn to a son-in-law of Timpson's, for Timpson
was one of the most useful and influential men in the parish, and
had a good deal of business, which he knew how to put into the
right hands. Mr. Riley liked such men, quite apart from any money
which might be diverted, through their good judgment, from less
worthy pockets into his own; and it would be a satisfaction to him
to say to Timpson on his return home, "I've secured a good pupil
for your son-in-law." Timpson had a large family of daughters; Mr.
Riley felt for him; besides, Louisa Timpson's face, with its light
curls, had been a familiar object to him over the pew wainscot on a
Sunday for nearly fifteen years; it was natural her husband should
be a commendable tutor. Moreover, Mr. Riley knew of no other
schoolmaster whom he had any ground for recommending in preference;
why, then, should be not recommend Stelling? His friend Tulliver
had asked him for an opinion; it is always chilling, in friendly
intercourse, to say you have no opinion to give. And if you deliver
an opinion at all, it is mere stupidity not to do it with an air of
conviction and well-founded knowledge. You make it your own in
uttering it, and naturally get fond of it. Thus Mr. Riley, knowing
no harm of Stelling to begin with, and wishing him well, so far as
he had any wishes at all concerning him, had no sooner recommended
him than he began to think with admiration of a man recommended on
such high authority, and would soon have gathered so warm an
interest on the subject, that if Mr. Tulliver had in the end
declined to send Tom to Stelling, Mr. Riley would have thought his
"friend of the old school" a thoroughly pig-headed fellow.
If you blame Mr. Riley very severely for giving a recommendation
on such slight grounds, I must say you are rather hard upon him.
Why should an auctioneer and appraiser thirty years ago, who had as
good as forgotten his free-school Latin, be expected to manifest a
delicate scrupulosity which is not always exhibited by gentlemen of
the learned professions, even in our present advanced stage of
Besides, a man with the milk of human kindness in him can
scarcely abstain from doing a good-natured action, and one cannot
be good-natured all round. Nature herself occasionally quarters an
inconvenient parasite on an animal toward whom she has otherwise no
ill will. What then? We admire her care for the parasite. If Mr.
Riley had shrunk from giving a recommendation that was not based on
valid evidence, he would not have helped Mr. Stelling to a paying
pupil, and that would not have been so well for the reverend
gentleman. Consider, too, that all the pleasant little dim ideas
and complacencies–of standing well with Timpson, of dispensing
advice when he was asked for it, of impressing his friend Tulliver
with additional respect, of saying something, and saying it
emphatically, with other inappreciably minute ingredients that went
along with the warm hearth and the brandy-and-water to make up Mr.
Riley's consciousness on this occasion–would have been a mere