BOOK IV. THREE LOVE PROBLEMS.
41. CHAPTER XLI.
"By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.
The transactions referred to by Caleb Garth as having gone forward
between Mr. Bulstrode and Mr. Joshua Rigg Featherstone concerning
the land attached to Stone Court, had occasioned the interchange
of a letter or two between these personages.
Who shall tell what may be the effect of writing? If it happens
to have been cut in stone, though it lie face down-most for ages
on a forsaken beach, or "rest quietly under the drums and tramplings
of many conquests," it may end by letting us into the secret of
usurpations and other scandals gossiped about long empires ago:--
this world being apparently a huge whispering-gallery. Such conditions
are often minutely represented in our petty lifetimes. As the stone
which has been kicked by generations of clowns may come by curious
little links of effect under the eyes of a scholar, through whose
labors it may at last fix the date of invasions and unlock religions,
so a bit of ink and paper which has long been an innocent wrapping
or stop-gap may at last be laid open under the one pair of eyes which
have knowledge enough to turn it into the opening of a catastrophe.
To Uriel watching the progress of planetary history from the sun,
the one result would be just as much of a coincidence as the other.
Having made this rather lofty comparison I am less uneasy in calling
attention to the existence of low people by whose interference,
however little we may like it, the course of the world is very
much determined. It would be well, certainly, if we could help
to reduce their number, and something might perhaps be done by not
lightly giving occasion to their existence. Socially speaking,
Joshua Rigg would have been generally pronounced a superfluity.
But those who like Peter Featherstone never had a copy of
themselves demanded, are the very last to wait for such a request
either in prose or verse. The copy in this case bore more of
outside resemblance to the mother, in whose sex frog-features,
accompanied with fresh-colored cheeks and a well-rounded figure,
are compatible with much charm for a certain order of admirers.
The result is sometimes a frog-faced male, desirable, surely,
to no order of intelligent beings. Especially when he is suddenly
brought into evidence to frustrate other people's expectations--
the very lowest aspect in which a social superfluity can present himself.