Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 15
"Festina lente--celerity should be contempered with cunctation."--SIR THOMAS
Gwendolen, we have seen, passed her time abroad in the new excitement of
gambling, and in imagining herself an empress of luck, having brought from her
late experience a vague impression that in this confused world it signified nothing
what any one did, so that they amused themselves. We have seen, too, that
certain persons, mysteriously symbolized as Grapnell & Co., having also thought
of reigning in the realm of luck, and being also bent on amusing themselves, no
matter how, had brought about a painful change in her family circumstances;
whence she had returned home-- carrying with her, against her inclination, a
necklace which she had pawned and some one else had redeemed.
While she was going back to England, Grandcourt was coming to find her;
coming, that is, after his own manner--not in haste by express straight from
Diplow to Leubronn, where she was understood to be; but so entirely without
hurry that he was induced by the presence of some Russian acquaintances to
linger at Baden-Baden and make various appointments with them, which,
however, his desire to be at Leubronn ultimately caused him to break.
Grandcourt's passions were of the intermittent, flickering kind: never flaming out
strongly. But a great deal of life goes on without strong passion: myriads of
cravats are carefully tied, dinners attended, even speeches made proposing the
health of august personages without the zest arising from a strong desire. And a
man may make a good appearance in high social positions--may be supposed to
know the classics, to have his reserves on science, a strong though repressed
opinion on politics, and all the sentiments of the English gentleman, at a small
expense of vital energy. Also, he may be obstinate or persistent at the same low
rate, and may even show sudden impulses which have a false air of daemonic
strength because they seem inexplicable, though perhaps their secret lies merely
in the want of regulated channels for the soul to move in--good and sufficient
ducts of habit without which our nature easily turns to mere ooze and mud, and
at any pressure yields nothing but a spurt or a puddle.
Grandcourt had not been altogether displeased by Gwendolen's running away
from the splendid chance he was holding out to her. The act had some piquancy
for him. He liked to think that it was due to resentment of his careless behavior in
Cardell Chase, which, when he came to consider it, did appear rather cool. To
have brought her so near a tender admission, and then to have walked headlong
away from further opportunities of winning the consent which he had made her
understand him to be asking for, was enough to provoke a girl of spirit; and to be
worth his mastering it was proper that she should have some spirit. Doubtless
she meant him to follow her, and it was what he meant too. But for a whole week