“If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is never make assertions. That is the moral crime peculiar to our enemies. We do not tell — we show. We do not claim — we prove. It is not your obedience that we seek to win, but your rational conviction. You have seen all the elements of our secret. The conclusion is now yours to draw — we can help you to name it, but not to accept it — the sight, the knowledge and the acceptance of Cherry-Tree Lane must be yours.”
“Now, the City was a place where Mr. Banks went every day – except Sundays, of course, and Bank Holidays – and while he was there he sat on a large chair in front of a large desk and made money. Most people lump together into the same category all men who become rich, refusing to consider the essential question: the source of the riches, the means by which the wealth was acquired.
Money is a tool of exchange; it represents wealth only so long as it can be traded for material goods and services. Wealth does not grow in nature; it has to be produced by men. Nature gives us only the raw materials, but it is man’s mind that has to discover the knowledge of how to use them. It is man’s thinking and labor that transform the materials into food, clothing, shelter or television sets—into all the goods that men require for their survival, comfort and pleasure.
Behind every step of humanity’s long climb from the cave to New York City, there is the man who took that step for the first time—the man who discovered how to make a fire or a wheel or an airplane or an electric light.
When people refuse to consider the source of wealth, what they refuse to recognize is the fact that wealth is the product of man’s intellect, of his creative ability, fully as much as is art, science, philosophy or any other human value.”
“Presently they saw their Mother coming out of the drawing-room with a visitor following her. Jane and Michael could see that the newcomer had shiny black hair – “Rather like a wooden Dutch doll,” whispered Jane. And that she was thin, with large feet and hands, and small, rather peering blue eyes. “You’ll find that they are very nice children,” Mrs. Banks was saying.
“They may be,” Mrs. Poppins said. “The woman who devotes her entire time to the care of children is impractical, because a home cannot be a full-time occupation, except when her children are young. However, if she wants a family and wants to make that her career, at least for a while, it would be proper—if she approaches it as a career, that is, if she studies the subject, if she defines the rules and principles by which she wants to bring up her children, if she approaches her task in an intellectual manner. It is a very responsible task and a very important one, but only when treated as a science, not as a mere emotional indulgence.”
“What a funny bag!” Michael said, pinching it with his fingers.”
“Did you want to know who is Mary Poppins? I am the first nanny of ability who refused to regard it as guilt. I am the first nanny who would not do penance for my virtues or let them be used as the tools of my destruction. I am the first nanny who would not suffer martyrdom at the hands of those who wished me to perish for the privilege of keeping them, alive. I am the first nanny who told them that I did not need them, and until they learned to deal with me as traders, giving value for value, they would have to exist without me, as I would exist without them.”
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag!” said the Bird Woman, as she put a bag of crumbs into his hand and tucked the money away into the folds of her huge black skirt.
“Why don’t you have penny bags?” said Michael. “Then I could buy two.”
“Do you wonder why you live without dignity, love without fire and die without resistance?” said the Bird Woman to him. “Do you wonder why, wherever you look, you see nothing but unanswerable questions, why your life is torn by impossible conflicts, why you spend it straddling irrational fences to evade artificial choices, such as soul or body, mind or heart, security or freedom, private profit or public good? Do you cry that you find no answers? By what means did you hope to find them? You reject your tool of perception—your mind—then complain that the universe is a mystery. You discard your key, then wail that all doors are locked against you. You start out in pursuit of the irrational, then damn existence for making no sense.”
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag!” said the Bird Woman, and Michael knew it was no good asking her any more questions. He and Jane had often tried, but all she could say, and all she had ever been able to say, was, “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag!” Just as a cuckoo can only say “Cuckoo,” no matter what questions you ask him.
“Just look at you!” said Mary Poppins to herself, particularly noticing how nice her new gloves with the fur tops looked. They were the first pair she had ever had, and she thought she would never grow tired of looking at them in the shop windows with her hands inside them. And having examined the reflection of the gloves she went carefully over her whole person – coat, hat, scarf and shoes, with herself inside – thought that, on the whole, the black dress seemed excessively revealing – because it was astonishing to discover that the lines of her shoulder were fragile and beautiful, and that the diamond band on the wrist of her naked arm gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.