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Adela Cathcart, Volume 2 by George MacDonald

' Where did you get that wonderful sonnet


"Mourner, that dost deserve thy mournfulness, Call thyself punished, call the earth thy hell; Say, 'God is angry, and I earned it well; 'I would not have him smile and not redress.' Say this, and straightway all thy grief grows less. 'God rules at least, I find, as prophets tell, 'And proves it in this prison.' Straight thy cell Smiles with an unsuspected loveliness. --'A prison--and yet from door and window-bar, 'I catch a thousand breaths of his sweet air; 'Even to me, his days and nights are fair; 'He shows me many a flower, and many a star; 'And though I mourn, and he is very far, 'He does not kill the hope that reaches there.'"

"Where did you get that wonderful sonnet?" I cried, hardly interrupting him, for when he came to the end of it, he paused with a solemn pause.

"It is one of the stars of the higher heavens which I spied through my prison-bars."

"Will you give me a copy of it?"

"With all my heart. It has never been in print."

"Then your star reminds me of that quaint simile of Henry Vaughan,

'If a star were confined into a tomb, Her captive flames must needs burn there; But when the hand that locked her up gives room, She'll shine through all the sphere.'"

"Ah yes;

I know the poem. That is about the worst verse in it, though."

"Quite true."

"What a number of verses you know!"

"They stick to me somehow."

"Is the sonnet your own?"

"My dear fellow, how could I speak in praise of it as I do, if it were my own? I would say 'I wish it were!' only that would be worse selfishness than coveting a man's purse. No. It is not mine."

"Well, will you go on with your story--if you will yet oblige me."

"I will. But I fear you will think it strange that I should be so communicative to one whose friendship I have so lately gained."

"I believe there is a fate in such things," I answered.

"Well, I yield to it--if I do not weary you?"

"Go on. There is positively not the least danger of that."

"Well, it was not to hell I was really sent, but to school--and that not a fashionable boarding, or expensive public school, but a day-school like a Scotch parish school--to learn the conditions and ways and thoughts of my brothers and sisters.

"I soon got over the disgust I felt at the coarseness of the men I met. Indeed I found amongst business-gentlemen what affected me with the same kind of feeling--only perhaps more profoundly--a coarseness not of the social so much as of the spiritual nature--in a word, genuine selfishness; whereas this quality was rather less remarkable in those who had less to be selfish about. I do not say therefore that they had less of it.--I soon saw that their profanity


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