Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 25
How trace the why and wherefore in a mind reduced to the barrenness of a
fastidious egoism, in which all direct desires are dulled, and have dwindled from
motives into a vacillating expectation of motives: a mind made up of moods,
where a fitful impulse springs here and there conspicuously rank amid the
general weediness? 'Tis a condition apt to befall a life too much at large,
unmoulded by the pressure of obligation. Nam deteriores omnes sumus licentiae,
or, as a more familiar tongue might deliver it, "As you like" is a bad finger- post.
Potentates make known their intentions and affect the funds at a small expense
of words. So when Grandcourt, after learning that Gwendolen had left Leubronn,
incidentally pronounced that resort of fashion a beastly hole, worse than Baden,
the remark was conclusive to Mr. Lush that his patron intended straightway to
return to Diplow. The execution was sure to be slower than the intention, and, in
fact, Grandcourt did loiter through the next day without giving any distinct orders
about departure--perhaps because he discerned that Lush was expecting them:
he lingered over his toilet, and certainly came down with a faded aspect of
perfect distinction which made fresh complexions and hands with the blood in
them, seem signs of raw vulgarity; he lingered on the terrace, in the gambling-
rooms, in the reading-room, occupying himself in being indifferent to everybody
and everything around him. When he met Lady Mallinger, however, he took
some trouble--raised his hat, paused, and proved that he listened to her
recommendation of the waters by replying, "Yes; I heard somebody say how
providential it was that there always happened to be springs at gambling places."
"Oh, that was a joke," said innocent Lady Mallinger, misled by Grandcourt's
languid seriousness, "in imitation of the old one about the towns and the rivers,
you know."
"Ah, perhaps," said Grandcourt, without change of expression. Lady Mallinger
thought this worth telling to Sir Hugo, who said, "Oh, my dear, he is not a fool.
You must not suppose that he can't see a joke. He can play his cards as well as
most of us."
"He has never seemed to me a very sensible man," said Lady Mallinger, in
excuse of herself. She had a secret objection to meeting Grandcourt, who was
little else to her than a large living sign of what she felt to be her failure as a wife-
-the not having presented Sir Hugo with a son. Her constant reflection was that
her husband might fairly regret his choice, and if he had not been very good
might have treated her with some roughness in consequence, gentlemen
naturally disliking to be disappointed.
Deronda, too, had a recognition from Grandcourt, for which he was not grateful,
though he took care to return it with perfect civility. No reasoning as to the