Adam Bede eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 635 pages of information about Adam Bede.
shrunk from confessing to these accomplished and acute gentlemen what my own experience has been.  I am afraid I have often smiled with hypocritical assent, and gratified them with an epigram on the fleeting nature of our illusions, which any one moderately acquainted with French literature can command at a moment’s notice.  Human converse, I think some wise man has remarked, is not rigidly sincere.  But I herewith discharge my conscience, and declare that I have had quite enthusiastic movements of admiration towards old gentlemen who spoke the worst English, who were occasionally fretful in their temper, and who had never moved in a higher sphere of influence than that of parish overseer; and that the way in which I have come to the conclusion that human nature is lovable—­the way I have learnt something of its deep pathos, its sublime mysteries—­has been by living a great deal among people more or less commonplace and vulgar, of whom you would perhaps hear nothing very surprising if you were to inquire about them in the neighbourhoods where they dwelt.  Ten to one most of the small shopkeepers in their vicinity saw nothing at all in them.  For I have observed this remarkable coincidence, that the select natures who pant after the ideal, and find nothing in pantaloons or petticoats great enough to command their reverence and love, are curiously in unison with the narrowest and pettiest.  For example, I have often heard Mr. Gedge, the landlord of the Royal Oak, who used to turn a bloodshot eye on his neighbours in the village of Shepperton, sum up his opinion of the people in his own parish—­and they were all the people he knew—­in these emphatic words:  “Aye, sir, I’ve said it often, and I’ll say it again, they’re a poor lot i’ this parish—­a poor lot, sir, big and little.”  I think he had a dim idea that if he could migrate to a distant parish, he might find neighbours worthy of him; and indeed he did subsequently transfer himself to the Saracen’s Head, which was doing a thriving business in the back street of a neighbouring market-town.  But, oddly enough, he has found the people up that back street of precisely the same stamp as the inhabitants of Shepperton—­“a poor lot, sir, big and little, and them as comes for a go o’ gin are no better than them as comes for a pint o’ twopenny—­a poor lot.”

Chapter XVIII

Church

Hetty, Hetty, don’t you know church begins at two, and it’s gone half after one a’ready?  Have you got nothing better to think on this good Sunday as poor old Thias Bede’s to be put into the ground, and him drownded i’ th’ dead o’ the night, as it’s enough to make one’s back run cold, but you must be ’dizening yourself as if there was a wedding i’stid of a funeral?”

“Well, Aunt,” said Hetty, “I can’t be ready so soon as everybody else, when I’ve got Totty’s things to put on.  And I’d ever such work to make her stand still.”

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Adam Bede from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.