AN EXCERPT FROM "MEMOIRS OF EXTRAODINARY POPULAR DELUSIONS BY CHARLES MACKAY: The Love Of The Marvellous And The Disbelief Of The True. (abbr.) "Well, son John," said the old woman, "and what wonderful things did you meet with all the time you were at sea?" - " Oh! mother," replied John, "I saw many strange things." -- " Tell us all about them," replied his mother, "for I long to hear your adventures." -- " Well, then," said John, "as we were sailing over the Line, what do you think we saw?" - "I can't imagine," replied his mother. -- " Well, we saw a fish rise out of the sea, and fly over our ship!" "Oh! John! John! what a liar you are!" said his mother, shaking her head, and smiling incredulously. "True as death? said John; "and we saw still more wonderful things than that." -- " Let us hear them," said his mother, shaking her head again; "and tell the truth, John, if you can." -- " Believe it, or believe it not, as you please," replied her son; "but as we were sailing up the Red Sea, our captain thought he should like some fish for dinner; so he told us to throw our nets, and catch some." -- " Well," inquired his mother, seeing that he paused in his story. "Well," rejoined her son, "we did throw them, and, at the very first haul, we brought up a chariot-wheel, made all of gold, and inlaid with diamonds!" "Lord bless us!" said his mother, "and what did the captain say ?" -- " Why, he said it was one of the wheels of Pharaoh's chariot, that had lain in the Red Sea ever since that wicked King was drowned, with all his host, while pursuing the Israelites." -- " Well, well," said his mother, lifting up her hands in admiration; "now, that's very possible, and I think the captain was a very sensible man. Tell me such stories as that, and I'll believe you; but never talk to me of such things as flying fish! No, no, John, such stories won't go down with me, I can assure you!" Such old women as the sailor's mother, in the above well-known anecdote, are by no means rare in the world. Every age and country has produced them. They have been found in high places, and have sat down among the learned of the earth. Instances must be familiar to every reader in which the same person was willing, with greedy credulity, to swallow the most extravagant fiction, and yet refuse credence to a philosophical fact. The same Greeks who believed readily that Jupiter wooed Leda in the form of a swan, denied stoutly that there were any physical causes for storms and thunder, and treated as impious those who attempted to account for them on true philosophical principles. The reasons that thus lead mankind to believe the marvellously false, and to disbelieve the marvellously true, may be easily gathered. Of all the offspring of Time, Error is the most ancient, and is so old and familiar an acquaintance, that Truth, when discovered, comes upon most of us like an intruder, and meets the intruder's welcome. We all pay an involuntary homage to antiquity -- a "blind homage," as Bacon calls it in his "Novum Organum," which tends greatly to the obstruction of truth. To the great majority of mortal eyes, Time sanctifies everything that he does not destroy. The mere fact of anything being spared by the great foe makes it a favourite with us, who are sure to fall his victims. To call a prejudice "time-hallowed," is to open a way for it into hearts where it never before penetrated. Some peculiar custom may disgrace the people amongst whom it flourishes; yet men of a little wisdom refuse to aid in its extirpation, merely because it is old. Thus it is with human belief, and thus it is we bring shame upon our own intellect.