The Patrician eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 339 pages of information about The Patrician.
life, by reason of their appearance, position, assurance, and of a certain energy, half genuine, and half mere inherent predilection for short cuts.  Certainly he was not idle, had written a book, travelled, was a Captain of Yeomanry, a Justice of the Peace, a good cricketer, and a constant and glib speaker.  It would have been unfair to call his enthusiasm for social reform spurious.  It was real enough in its way, and did certainly testify that he was not altogether lacking either in imagination or good-heartedness.  But it was over and overlaid with the public-school habit—­that peculiar, extraordinarily English habit, so powerful and beguiling that it becomes a second nature stronger than the first—­of relating everything in the Universe to the standards and prejudices of a single class.  Since practically all his intimate associates were immersed in it, he was naturally not in the least conscious of this habit; indeed there was nothing he deprecated so much in politics as the narrow and prejudiced outlook, such as he had observed in the Nonconformist, or labour politician.  He would never have admitted for a moment that certain doors had been banged-to at his birth, bolted when he went to Eton, and padlocked at Cambridge.  No one would have denied that there was much that was valuable in his standards—­a high level of honesty, candour, sportsmanship, personal cleanliness, and self-reliance, together with a dislike of such cruelty as had been officially (so to speak) recognized as cruelty, and a sense of public service to a State run by and for the public schools; but it would have required far more originality than he possessed ever to look at Life from any other point of view than that from which he had been born and bred to watch Her.  To fully understand harbinger, one must, and with unprejudiced eyes and brain, have attended one of those great cricket matches in which he had figured conspicuously as a boy, and looking down from some high impartial spot have watched the ground at lunch time covered from rope to rope and stand to stand with a marvellous swarm, all walking in precisely the same manner, with precisely the same expression on their faces, under precisely the same hats—­a swarm enshrining the greatest identity of, creed and habit ever known since the world began.  No, his environment had not been favourable to originality.  Moreover he was naturally rapid rather than deep, and life hardly ever left him alone or left him silent.  Brought into contact day and night with people to whom politics were more or less a game; run after everywhere; subjected to no form of discipline—­it was a wonder that he was as serious as he was.  Nor had he ever been in love, until, last year, during her first season, Barbara had, as he might have expressed it—­in the case of another ’bowled him middle stump.  Though so deeply smitten, he had not yet asked her to marry him—­had not, as it were, had time, nor perhaps quite the courage, or conviction.  When he was near her, it seemed impossible that he could go on longer without knowing his fate; when he was away from her it was almost a relief, because there were so many things to be done and said, and so little time to do or say them in.  But now, during this fortnight, which, for her sake, he had devoted to Miltoun’s cause, his feeling had advanced beyond the point of comfort.

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The Patrician from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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