More Jonathan Papers

Elisabeth Woodbridge

More Jonathan Papers by Elisabeth

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Title: More Jonathan Papers
Author: Elisabeth Woodbridge
Release Date: December 19, 2006 [Ebook #20141]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO 8859-1

More Jonathan Papers
By Elisabeth Woodbridge

Published November 1915


I. The Searchings of Jonathan II. Sap-Time III. Evenings on the Farm IV. After Frost V. The Joys of Garden Stewardship VI. Trout and Arbutus VII. Without the Time of Day VIII. The Ways of Griselda IX. A Rowboat Pilgrimage Colophon Appendix A: Extra Front Pages Errata

More Jonathan Papers
The Searchings of Jonathan
"What I find it hard to understand is, why a person who can see a spray of fringed gentian in the middle of a meadow can't see a book on the sitting-room table."
"The reason why I can see the gentian," said Jonathan, "is because the gentian is there."
"So is the book," I responded.
"Which table?" he asked.
"The one with the lamp on it. It's a red book, about so big."
"It isn't there; but, just to satisfy you, I'll look again."
He returned in a moment with an argumentative expression of countenance. "It isn't there," he said firmly. "Will anything else do instead?"
"No, I wanted you to read that special thing. Oh, dear! And I have all these things in my lap! And I know it is there."
"And I know it isn't." He stretched himself out in the hammock and watched me as I rather ostentatiously laid down thimble, scissors, needle, cotton, and material and set out for the sitting-room table. There were a number of books on it, to be sure. I glanced rapidly through the piles, fingered the lower books, pushed aside a magazine, and pulled out from beneath it the book I wanted. I returned to the hammock and handed it over. Then, after possessing myself, again rather ostentatiously, of material, cotton, needle, scissors, and thimble, I sat down.
"It's the second essay I specially thought we'd like," I said.
"Just for curiosity," said Jonathan, with an impersonal air, "where did you find it?"
"Find what?" I asked innocently.
"The book."
"Oh! On the table."
"Which table?"
"The one with the lamp on it."
"I should like to know where."
"Why--just there--on the table. There was an 'Atlantic' on top of it, to be sure."
"I saw the 'Atlantic.' Blest if it looked as though it had anything under it! Besides, I was looking for it on top of things. You said you laid it down there just before luncheon, and I didn't think it could have crawled in under so quick."
"When you're looking for a thing," I said, "you mustn't think, you must look. Now go ahead and read."
If this were a single instance, or even if it were one of many illustrating a common human frailty, it would hardly be worth setting down. But the frailty under consideration has come to seem to me rather particularly masculine. Are not all the Jonathans in the world continually being sent to some sitting-room table for something, and coming back to assert, with more or less pleasantness, according to their temperament, that it is not there? The incident, then, is not isolated; it is typical of a vast group. For Jonathan, read Everyman; for the red book, read any particular thing that you want Him to bring; for the sitting-room table, read the place where you know it is and Everyman says it isn't.
This, at least, is my thesis. It is not, however, unchallenged. Jonathan has challenged it when, from time to time, as occasion offered, I have lightly sketched it out for him. Sometimes he argues that my instances are really isolated cases and that their evidence is not cumulative, at others he takes refuge in a tu quoque--in itself a confession of weakness--and alludes darkly to "top shelves" and "bottom drawers." But let us have no mysteries. These phrases, considered as arguments, have their origin in certain incidents which, that all the evidence may be in, I will here set down.
Once upon a time I asked Jonathan to get me something from the top shelf in the closet. He went, and failed to find it. Then I went, and took it down. Jonathan, watching over my shoulder, said, "But that wasn't the top shelf, I suppose you will admit."
Sure enough! There was a shelf above. "Oh, yes; but I don't count that shelf. We never use it, because nobody can reach it."
"How do you expect me to know which shelves you count
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