Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 38
There be who hold that the deeper tragedy were a Prometheus Bound not after
but before he had well got the celestial fire into the narthex whereby it might be
conveyed to mortals: thrust by the Kratos and Bia of instituted methods into a
solitude of despised ideas, fastened in throbbing helplessness by the fatal
pressure of poverty and disease--a solitude where many pass by, but none
"Second-sight" is a flag over disputed ground. But it is matter of knowledge that
there are persons whose yearnings, conceptions--nay, traveled conclusions--
continually take the form of images which have a foreshadowing power; the deed
they would do starts up before them in complete shape, making a coercive type;
the event they hunger for or dread rises into vision with a seed-like growth,
feeding itself fast on unnumbered impressions. They are not always the less
capable of the argumentative process, nor less sane than the commonplace
calculators of the market: sometimes it may be that their natures have manifold
openings, like the hundred-gated Thebes, where there may naturally be a greater
and more miscellaneous inrush than through a narrow beadle-watched portal. No
doubt there are abject specimens of the visionary, as there is a minim mammal
which you might imprison in the finger of your glove. That small relative of the
elephant has no harm in him; but what great mental or social type is free from
specimens whose insignificance is both ugly and noxious? One is afraid to think
of all that the genus "patriot" embraces; or of the elbowing there might be at the
day of judgment for those who ranked as authors, and brought volumes either in
their hands or on trucks.
This apology for inevitable kinship is meant to usher in some facts about
Mordecai, whose figure had bitten itself into Deronda's mind as a new question
which he felt an interest in getting answered. But the interest was no more than a
vaguely-expectant suspense: the consumptive-looking Jew, apparently a fervid
student of some kind, getting his crust by a quiet handicraft, like Spinoza, fitted
into none of Deronda's anticipations.
It was otherwise with the effect of their meeting on Mordecai. For many winters,
while he had been conscious of an ebbing physical life, and as widening spiritual
loneliness, all his passionate desire had concentrated itself in the yearning for
some young ear into which he could pour his mind as a testament, some soul
kindred enough to accept the spiritual product of his own brief, painful life, as a
mission to be executed. It was remarkable that the hopefulness which is often the
beneficent illusion of consumptive patients, was in Mordecai wholly diverted from
the prospect of bodily recovery and carried into the current of this yearning for
transmission. The yearning, which had panted upward from out of over-
whelming discouragements, had grown into a hope--the hope into a confident