Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 6
"Croyez-vous m'avoir humiliée pour m'avoir appris que la terre tourne autour du
soleil? Je vous jure que je ne m'en estime pas moins."
--FONTENELLE: Pluralité des Mondes.
That lofty criticism had caused Gwendolen a new sort of pain. She would not
have chosen to confess how unfortunate she thought herself in not having had
Miss Arrowpoint's musical advantages, so as to be able to question Herr
Klesmer's taste with the confidence of thorough knowledge; still less, to admit
even to herself that Miss Arrowpoint each time they met raised an unwonted
feeling of jealousy in her: not in the least because she was an heiress, but
because it was really provoking that a girl whose appearance you could not
characterize except by saying that her figure was slight and of middle stature, her
features small, her eyes tolerable, and her complexion sallow, had nevertheless
a certain mental superiority which could not be explained away--an exasperating
thoroughness in her musical accomplishment, a fastidious discrimination in her
general tastes, which made it impossible to force her admiration and kept you in
awe of her standard. This insignificant-looking young lady of four-and-twenty,
whom any one's eyes would have passed over negligently if she had not been
Miss Arrowpoint, might be suspected of a secret opinion that Miss Harleth's
acquirements were rather of a common order, and such an opinion was not
made agreeable to think of by being always veiled under a perfect kindness of
But Gwendolen did not like to dwell on facts which threw an unfavorable light on
itself. The musical Magus who had so suddenly widened her horizon was not
always on the scene; and his being constantly backward and forward between
London and Quetcham soon began to be thought of as offering opportunities for
converting him to a more admiring state of mind. Meanwhile, in the manifest
pleasure her singing gave at Brackenshaw Castle, the Firs, and elsewhere, she
recovered her equanimity, being disposed to think approval more trustworthy
than objection, and not being one of the exceptional persons who have a
parching thirst for a perfection undemanded by their neighbors. Perhaps it would
have been rash to say then that she was at all exceptional inwardly, or that the
unusual in her was more than her rare grace of movement and bearing, and a
certain daring which gave piquancy to a very common egoistic ambition, such as
exists under many clumsy exteriors and is taken no notice of. For I suppose that
the set of the head does not really determine the hunger of the inner self for
supremacy: it only makes a difference sometimes as to the way in which the
supremacy is held attainable, and a little also to the degree in which it can be
attained; especially when the hungry one is a girl, whose passion for doing what
is remarkable has an ideal limit in consistency with the highest breeding and
perfect freedom from the sordid need of income. Gwendolen was as inwardly