The Egoist eBook

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

Mrs. Mountstuart’s advice was wiser than her procedure, for she stopped short where he declined to begin.  He dived below the surface without studying that index-page.  He had won Miss Middleton’s hand; he believed he had captured her heart; but he was not so certain of his possession of her soul, and he went after it.  Our enamoured gentleman had therefore no tally of Nature’s writing above to set beside his discoveries in the deeps.  Now it is a dangerous accompaniment of this habit of driving, that where we do not light on the discoveries we anticipate, we fall to work sowing and planting; which becomes a disturbance of the gentle bosom.  Miss Middleton’s features were legible as to the mainspring of her character.  He could have seen that she had a spirit with a natural love of liberty, and required the next thing to liberty, spaciousness, if she was to own allegiance.  Those features, unhappily, instead of serving for an introduction to the within, were treated as the mirror of himself.  They were indeed of an amiable sweetness to tempt an accepted lover to angle for the first person in the second.  But he had made the discovery that their minds differed on one or two points, and a difference of view in his bride was obnoxious to his repose.  He struck at it recurringly to show her error under various aspects.  He desired to shape her character to the feminine of his own, and betrayed the surprise of a slight disappointment at her advocacy of her ideas.  She said immediately:  “It is not too late, Willoughby,” and wounded him, for he wanted her simply to be material in his hands for him to mould her; he had no other thought.  He lectured her on the theme of the infinity of love.  How was it not too late?  They were plighted; they were one eternally; they could not be parted.  She listened gravely, conceiving the infinity as a narrow dwelling where a voice droned and ceased not.  However, she listened.  She became an attentive listener.



The world was the principal topic of dissension between these lovers.  His opinion of the world affected her like a creature threatened with a deprivation of air.  He explained to his darling that lovers of necessity do loathe the world.  They live in the world, they accept its benefits, and assist it as well as they can.  In their hearts they must despise it, shut it out, that their love for one another may pour in a clear channel, and with all the force they have.  They cannot enjoy the sense of security for their love unless they fence away the world.  It is, you will allow, gross; it is a beast.  Formally we thank it for the good we get of it; only we two have an inner temple where the worship we conduct is actually, if you would but see it, an excommunication of the world.  We abhor that beast to adore that divinity.  This gives us our oneness, our isolation, our happiness.  This is to love with the soul.  Do you see, darling?

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The Egoist from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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