Daniel Deronda HTML version

Chapter 10
1st Gent. What woman should be? Sir, consult the taste
Of marriageable men. This planet's store
In iron, cotton, wool, or chemicals--
All matter rendered to our plastic skill,
Is wrought in shapes responsive to demand;
The market's pulse makes index high or low,
By rule sublime. Our daughters must be wives,
And to the wives must be what men will choose;
Men's taste is woman's test. You mark the phrase?
'Tis good, I think?--the sense well-winged and poised
With t's and s's.
2nd Gent. Nay, but turn it round;
Give us the test of taste. A fine menu--
Is it to-day what Roman epicures
Insisted that a gentleman must eat
To earn the dignity of dining well?
Brackenshaw Park, where the Archery Meeting was held, looked out from its
gentle heights far over the neighboring valley to the outlying eastern downs and
the broad, slow rise of cultivated country, hanging like a vast curtain toward the
west. The castle which stood on the highest platform of the clustered hills, was
built of rough-hewn limestone, full of lights and shadows made by the dark dust
of lichens and the washings of the rain. Masses of beech and fir sheltered it on
the north, and spread down here and there along the green slopes like flocks
seeking the water which gleamed below. The archery-ground was a carefully-
kept enclosure on a bit of table-land at the farthest end of the park, protected
toward the southwest by tall elms and a thick screen of hollies, which kept the
gravel walk and the bit of newly-mown turf where the targets were placed in
agreeable afternoon shade. The Archery Hall with an arcade in front showed like
a white temple against the greenery on the north side.
What could make a better background for the flower-groups of ladies, moving
and bowing and turning their necks as it would become the leisurely lilies to do if
they took to locomotion. The sounds too were very pleasant to hear, even when
the military band from Wanchester ceased to play: musical laughs in all the
registers and a harmony of happy, friendly speeches, now rising toward mild
excitement, now sinking to an agreeable murmur.
No open-air amusement could be much freer from those noisy, crowding
conditions which spoil most modern pleasures; no Archery Meeting could be
more select, the number of friends accompanying the members being restricted
by an award of tickets, so as to keep the maximum within the limits of