Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 21
It is a common sentence that Knowledge is power; but who hath duly Considered
or set forth the power of Ignorance? Knowledge slowly builds up what Ignorance
in an hour pulls down. Knowledge, through patient and frugal centuries, enlarges
discovery and makes record of it; Ignorance, wanting its day's dinner, lights a fire
with the record, and gives a flavor to its one roast with the burned souls of many
generations. Knowledge, instructing the sense, refining and multiplying needs,
transforms itself into skill and makes life various with a new six days' work;
comes Ignorance drunk on the seventh, with a firkin of oil and a match and an
easy "Let there not be," and the many-colored creation is shriveled up in
blackness. Of a truth, Knowledge is power, but it is a power reined by scruple,
having a conscience of what must be and what may be; whereas Ignorance is a
blind giant who, let him but wax unbound, would make it a sport to seize the
pillars that hold up the long-wrought fabric of human good, and turn all the places
of joy dark as a buried Babylon. And looking at life parcel-wise, in the growth of a
single lot, who having a practiced vision may not see that ignorance of the true
bond between events, and false conceit of means whereby sequences may be
compelled --like that falsity of eyesight which overlooks the gradations of
distance, seeing that which is afar off as if it were within a step or a grasp--
precipitates the mistaken soul on destruction?
It was half-past ten in the morning when Gwendolen Harleth, after her gloomy
journey from Leubronn, arrived at the station from which she must drive to
Offendene. No carriage or friend was awaiting her, for in the telegram she had
sent from Dover she had mentioned a later train, and in her impatience of
lingering at a London station she had set off without picturing what it would be to
arrive unannounced at half an hour's drive from home--at one of those stations
which have been fixed on not as near anywhere, but as equidistant from
everywhere. Deposited as a femme sole with her large trunks, and having to wait
while a vehicle was being got from the large-sized lantern called the Railway Inn,
Gwendolen felt that the dirty paint in the waiting-room, the dusty decanter of flat
water, and the texts in large letters calling on her to repent and be converted,
were part of the dreary prospect opened by her family troubles; and she hurried
away to the outer door looking toward the lane and fields. But here the very
gleams of sunshine seemed melancholy, for the autumnal leaves and grass were
shivering, and the wind was turning up the feathers of a cock and two croaking
hens which had doubtless parted with their grown-up offspring and did not know
what to do with themselves. The railway official also seemed without resources,
and his innocent demeanor in observing Gwendolen and her trunks was
rendered intolerable by the cast in his eye; especially since, being a new man, he
did not know her, and must conclude that she was not very high in the world. The
vehicle--a dirty old barouche--was within sight, and was being slowly prepared by
an elderly laborer. Contemptible details these, to make part of a history; yet the