204 Unprofessional Sermons too little can go to the British Museum, or to the Working Men's College, and learn more; but when a thing is once well learnt it is even harder to unlearn it than it was to learn it. Would it be possible to unlearn the art of speech or the arts of reading and writing even if we wished to do so ? Wisdom and knowledge are, like a bad reputation, more easily won than lost; we got on fairly well without knowing that the earth went round the sun ; we thought the sun went round the earth until we found it made us uncomfortable to think so any longer, then we altered our opinion ; it was not very easy to alter it, but it was easier than it would be to alter it back again. Vestigia nulla rctrorsum ; the earth itself does not pursue its course more steadily than mind does when it has once committed itself, and if we could see the movements of the stars in slow time we should probably find that there was much more throb and tremor in detail than we can take note of. How, I wonder, will it be if in our pursuit of knowledge we stumble upon some awkward fact as disturbing for the human race as an enquiry into the state of his own finances may sometimes prove to the individual ? The pursuit of knowledge can never be anything but a leap in the dark, and a leap in the dark is a very uncomfortable thing. I have sometimes thought that if the human race ever loses its ascendancy it will not be through plague, famine or cata- clysm, but by getting to know some little microbe, as it were, of knowledge which shall get into its system and breed there till it makes an end of us.* It is well, therefore, that there should be a substratum of mankind who cannot by any inducement be persuaded to know anything whatever at all, and who are resolutely determined to know nothing among us but what the parson tells them, and not to be too sure even about that. Whence then cometh wisdom and where is the place of understanding ? How does Job solve his problem ? " Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom: and to depart from evil is understanding." The answer is all very well as far as it goes, but it only amounts to saying that wisdom is wisdom. We know no better what the fear of the Lord is than what wisdom is, * Cf. "Imaginary Worlds/' p. 233 post.