The Egoist eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 707 pages of information about The Egoist.

So, very soon the public bosom closed.  She had, under the fresh interpretation of affairs, too small a spirit to be Lady Willoughby of Patterne; she could not have entertained becomingly; he must have seen that the girl was not the match for him in station, and off he went to conquer the remainder of a troublesome first attachment, no longer extremely disturbing, to judge from the tenour of his letters; really incomparable letters!  Lady Busshe and Mrs. Mountstuart Jenkinson enjoyed a perusal of them.  Sir Willoughby appeared as a splendid young representative island lord in these letters to his family, despatched from the principal cities of the United States of America.  He would give them a sketch of “our democratic cousins”, he said.  Such cousins!  They might all have been in the Marines.  He carried his English standard over that continent, and by simply jotting down facts, he left an idea of the results of the measurement to his family and friends at home.  He was an adept in the irony of incongruously grouping.  The nature of the Equality under the stars and stripes was presented in this manner.  Equality!  Reflections came occasionally:  “These cousins of ours are highly amusing.  I am among the descendants of the Roundheads.  Now and then an allusion to old domestic differences, in perfect good temper.  We go on in our way; they theirs, in the apparent belief that Republicanism operates remarkable changes in human nature.  Vernon tries hard to think it does.  The upper ten of our cousins are the Infernal of Paris.  The rest of them is Radical England, as far as I am acquainted with that section of my country.”—­Where we compared, they were absurd; where we contrasted, they were monstrous.  The contrast of Vernon’s letters with Willoughby’s was just as extreme.  You could hardly have taken them for relatives travelling together, or Vernon Whitford for a born and bred Englishman.  The same scenes furnished by these two pens might have been sketched in different hemispheres.  Vernon had no irony.  He had nothing of Willoughby’s epistolary creative power, which, causing his family and friends to exclaim:  “How like him that is!” conjured them across the broad Atlantic to behold and clap hands at his lordliness.

They saw him distinctly, as with the naked eye; a word, a turn of the pen, or a word unsaid, offered the picture of him in America, Japan, China, Australia, nay, the continent of Europe, holding an English review of his Maker’s grotesques.  Vernon seemed a sheepish fellow, without stature abroad, glad of a compliment, grateful for a dinner, endeavouring sadly to digest all he saw and heard.  But one was a Patterne; the other a Whitford.  One had genius; the other pottered after him with the title of student.  One was the English gentleman wherever he went; the other was a new kind of thing, nondescript, produced in England of late, and not likely to come to much good himself, or do much good to the country.

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The Egoist from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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