Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 23
Among the heirs of Art, as is the division of the promised land, each has to win
his portion by hard fighting: the bestowal is after the manner of prophecy, and is
a title without possession. To carry the map of an ungotten estate in your pocket
is a poor sort of copyhold. And in fancy to cast his shoe over Eden is little warrant
that a man shall ever set the sole of his foot on an acre of his own there.
The most obstinate beliefs that mortals entertain about themselves are such as
they have no evidence for beyond a constant, spontaneous pulsing of their self-
satisfaction--as it were a hidden seed of madness, a confidence that they can
move the world without precise notion of standing-place or lever.
"Pray go to church, mamma," said Gwendolen the next morning. "I prefer seeing
Herr Klesmer alone." (He had written in reply to her note that he would be with
her at eleven.)
"That is hardly correct, I think," said Mrs. Davilow, anxiously.
"Our affairs are too serious for us to think of such nonsensical rules," said
Gwendolen, contemptuously. "They are insulting as well as ridiculous."
"You would not mind Isabel sitting with you? She would be reading in a corner."
"No; she could not: she would bite her nails and stare. It would be too irritating.
Trust my judgment, mamma, I must be alone, Take them all to church."
Gwendolen had her way, of course; only that Miss Merry and two of the girls
stayed at home, to give the house a look of habitation by sitting at the dining-
room windows.
It was a delicious Sunday morning. The melancholy waning sunshine of autumn
rested on the half-strown grass and came mildly through the windows in slanting
bands of brightness over the old furniture, and the glass panel that reflected the
furniture; over the tapestried chairs with their faded flower-wreaths, the dark
enigmatic pictures, the superannuated organ at which Gwendolen had pleased
herself with acting Saint Cecelia on her first joyous arrival, the crowd of pallid,
dusty knicknacks seen through the open doors of the antechamber where she
had achieved the wearing of her Greek dress as Hermione. This last memory
was just now very busy in her; for had not Klesmer then been struck with
admiration of her pose and expression? Whatever he had said, whatever she
imagined him to have thought, was at this moment pointed with keenest interest
for her: perhaps she had never before in her life felt so inwardly dependent, so
consciously in need of another person's opinion. There was a new fluttering of