*****The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Princess and Curdie*****. #4 in our series by into another passage, which also had a window at the end of it; and in at that once more in right serviceable relation to his arms and legs. CHAPTER. s in The Princess and the Goblin, MacDonald's second and final tale about The surprising ending to The Princess and Curdie seems at odds. Princess Irene and Curdie return in a magical adventure to save the King and the page, then continues on the next, looking as if we're at the end of a chapter.
Smoke arose from a chimney or two; there was hardly another sign of life. It was not for some little time generally understood that the highest officers of the crown as well as the lowest menials of the palace had been dismissed in disgrace: And what lord chancellor would, so attired in the street, proclaim his rank and office aloud? Before it was day most of the courtiers crept down to the river, hired boats, and betook themselves to their homes or their friends in the country.
Chapter 28. The Preacher
It was assumed in the city that the domestics had been discharged upon a sudden discovery of general and unpardonable peculation; for, almost everybody being guilty of it himself, petty dishonesty was the crime most easily credited and least easily passed over in Gwyntystorm. Now that same day was Religion day, and not a few of the clergy, always glad to seize on any passing event to give interest to the dull and monotonic grind of their intellectual machines, made this remarkable one the ground of discourse to their congregations.
More especially than the rest, the first priest of the great temple where was the royal pew, judged himself, from his relation to the palace, called upon to 'improve the occasion', for they talked ever about improvement at Gwyntystorm, all the time they were going down hill with a rush. The book which had, of late years, come to be considered the most sacred, was called The Book of Nations, and consisted of proverbs, and history traced through custom: The main proof of the verity of their religion, he said, was that things always went well with those who profess it; and its first fundamental principle, grounded in inborn invariable instinct, was, that every One should take care of that One.
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald: Chapter The Preacher
This was the first duty of Man. If every one would but obey this law, number one, then would every one be perfectly cared for - one being always equal to one.
But the faculty of care was in excess of need, and all that overflowed, and would otherwise run to waste, ought to be gently turned in the direction of one's neighbour, seeing that this also wrought for the fulfilling of the law, inasmuch as the reaction of excess so directed was upon the director of the same, to the comfort, that is, and well-being of the original self. To be just and friendly was to build the warmest and safest of all nests, and to be kind and loving was to line it with the softest of all furs and feathers, for the one precious, comfort-loving self there to lie, revelling in downiest bliss.
One of the laws therefore most binding upon men because of its relation to the first and greatest of all duties, was embodied in the Proverb he had just read; and what stronger proof of its wisdom and truth could they desire than the sudden and complete vengeance which had fallen upon those worse than ordinary sinners who had offended against the king's majesty by forgetting that 'Honesty Is the Best Policy'?
At this point of the discourse the head of the legserpent rose from the floor of the temple, towering above the pulpit, above the priest, then curving downward, with open mouth slowly descended upon him. Horror froze the sermon-pump.
He stared upward aghast. The great teeth of the animal closed upon a mouthful of the sacred vestments, and slowly he lifted the preacher from the pulpit, like a handful of linen from a washtub, and, on his four solemn stumps, bore him out of the temple, dangling aloft from his jaws.
At the back of it he dropped him into the dust hole among the remnants of a library whose age had destroyed its value in the eyes of the chapter.The Princess and the Goblin (1991)
They found him burrowing in it, a lunatic henceforth - whose madness presented the peculiar feature, that in its paroxysms he jabbered sense. Bone-freezing horror pervaded Gwyntystorm. If their best and wisest were treated with such contempt, what might not the rest of them look for?
Alas for their city! Their grandly respectable city! Their loftily reasonable city! Where it was all to end, who could tell! But something must be done. Think of the creatures scampering over and burrowing in it, and the birds building their nests upon it, and the trees growing out of its sides, like hair to clothe it, and the lovely grass in the valleys, and the gracious flowers even at the very edge of its armor of ice, like the rich embroidery of the garment below, and the rivers galloping down the valleys in a tumult of white and green!
And along with all these, think of the terrible precipices down which the traveler may fall and be lost, and the frightful gulfs of blue air cracked in the glaciers, and the dark profound lakes, covered like little arctic oceans with floating lumps of ice.
All this outside the mountain! But the inside, who shall tell what lies there?
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
Caverns of awfullest solitude, their walls miles thick, sparkling with ores of gold or silver, copper or iron, tin or mercury, studded perhaps with precious stones — perhaps a brook, with eyeless fish in it, running, running ceaselessly, cold and babbling, through banks crusted with carbuncles and golden topazes, or over a gravel of which some of the stones are rubies and emeralds, perhaps diamonds and sapphires — who can tell? This contrast between the familiar hillside and grassy valleys which MacDonald must have explored during his childhood in Scotland, and the unknown vastness just beneath forces the reader to confront our own vulnerability.
As we are not all miners, we will never know what lies within the mountain, we can only, and indeed we must, be "free to think. In fact Curdie sets off for court armed only with Queen Irene's gift, the ability to feel the truth of a man's inner self.
Curdie is growing up and it is time for him to leave home and the mountain. Whereas The Princess and the Goblin resembles a youth's adventure story in which Princess Irene and Curdie, no matter how threatened by goblins or lost within the mountain, will follow their thread or string and return home to Nurse or Mother, in The Princess and Curdie, both child protagonists have had to grow up; there is no longer string or thread to guide them surely to safety.
Rather, Curdie must rely on his gift to distinguish appearances from reality and the Princess Irene must guard her King-papa's troubled sleep. Indeed, for much of the book, the children must deal with adults. On reuniting in the King-papa's bedchamber, Princess Irene states "I am not the little princess any more.
I have grown up since I saw you last, Mr. Yet even as Princess Irene and Curdie cleanse the court of corruption and evil men, they retain an aspect of their innocent childhood. In fact, MacDonald affirms his faith in the child: He must still, to be a right man, be his mother's darling, and more, his father's pride, and more.
The child is not meant to die, but to be forever fresh born. The surprising ending to The Princess and Curdie seems at odds with MacDonald's faith in men as children "forever fresh born. What does MacDonald think of mining then, within the mountain?
How are Peter and Curdie good men and miners, the fortunate few able to see the riches within the mountain, different from the greedy kings who lead the kingdom to ruin? Strong parallels to Christianity appear throughout The Princess and Curdie.
For instance, the emphasis on bread and wine that bring real nourishment and salvation to the King-papa draws strongly from Christianity. How does Curdie's mission parallel Christian work? Queen Irene admonishes him, "You must not be like a dull servant that needs to be told again and again before he will understand.
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
You have orders enough to start with, and you will find, as you go on, and as you need to know, what you have to do. But I warn you that perhaps it will not look the least like what you may have been fancying I should require of you.
I have one idea of you and your work, and you have another. I do not blame you for that — you cannot help it yet; but you must be ready to let my idea, which sets you working, set your idea right.
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