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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesMy Novel - Book 4 - Chapter 21
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My Novel - Book 4 - Chapter 21 Post by :directemailer Category :Long Stories Author :Edward Bulwer-lytton Date :May 2012 Read :1661

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My Novel - Book 4 - Chapter 21

BOOK FOURTH CHAPTER XXI

Whatever ridicule may be thrown upon Mr. Dale's dissertations by the wit of the enlightened, they had a considerable, and I think a beneficial, effect upon Leonard Fairfield,--an effect which may perhaps create less surprise, when the reader remembers that Leonard was unaccustomed to argument, and still retained many of the prejudices natural to his rustic breeding. Nay, he actually thought it possible that, as both Riccabocca and Mr. Dale were more than double his age, and had had opportunities not only of reading twice as many books, but of gathering up experience in wider ranges of life,--he actually, I say, thought it possible that they might be better acquainted with the properties and distinctions of knowledge than himself. At all events, the parson's words were so far well-timed, that they produced in Leonard very much of that state of mind which Mr. Dale desired to effect, before communicating to him the startling intelligence that he was to visit relations whom he had never seen, of whom he had heard but little, and that it was at least possible that the result of that visit might be to open to him greater facilities for instruction, and a higher degree in life.

Without some such preparation, I fear that Leonard would have gone forth into the world with an exaggerated notion of his own acquirements, and with a notion yet more exaggerated as to the kind of power that such knowledge as he possessed would obtain for itself. As it was, when Mr. Dale broke to him the news of the experimental journey before him, cautioning him against being over sanguine, Leonard received the intelligence with a serious meekness, and thoughts that were nobly solemn.

When the door closed on his visitors, he remained for some moments motionless, and in deep meditation; then he unclosed the door and stole forth. The night was already far advanced, the heavens were luminous with all the host of stars. "I think," said the student, referring, in later life, to that crisis in his destiny,--"I think it was then, as I stood alone, yet surrounded by worlds so numberless, that I first felt the distinction between mind and soul."

"Tell me," said Riccabocca, as he parted company with Mr. Dale, "whether you would have given to Frank Hazeldean, on entering life, the same lecture on the limits and ends of knowledge which you have bestowed on Leonard Fairfield?"

"My friend," quoth the parson, with a touch of human conceit, "I have ridden on horseback, and I know that some horses should be guided by the bridle, and some should be urged by the spur."

"Cospetto!" said Riccabocca, "you contrive to put every experience of yours to some use,--even your journey on Mr. Hazeldean's pad. And I now see why, in this little world of a village, you have picked up so general an acquaintance with life."

"Did you ever read White's' Natural History of Selborne'?"

"No."

"Do so, and you will find that you need not go far to learn the habits of birds, and know the difference between a swallow and a swift. Learn the difference in a village, and you know the difference wherever swallows and swifts skim the air."

"Swallows and swifts!--true; but men--"

"Are with us all the year round,--which is more than we can say of swallows and swifts."

"Mr. Dale," said Riccabocca, taking off his hat with great formality, "if ever again I find myself in a dilemma, I will come to you instead of to Machiavelli."

"Ah!" cried the parson, "if I could but have a calm hour's talk with you on the errors of the Papal relig--"

Riccabocca was off like a shot.

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BOOK FOURTH CHAPTER XXIIThe next day Mr. Dale had a long conversation with Mrs. Fairfield. At first he found some difficulty in getting over her pride, and inducing her to accept overtures from parents who had so long slighted both Leonard and herself. And it would have been in vain to have put before the good woman the worldly advantages which such overtures implied. But when Mr. Dale said, almost sternly, "Your parents are old, your father infirm; their least wish should be as binding to you as their command," the widow bowed her head, and said,-- "God bless them, sir,
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BOOK FOURTH CHAPTER XX"Ah, my son!" said the parson, "if I wished to prove the value of religion, would you think I served it much if I took as my motto, 'Religion is power'? Would not that be a base and sordid view of its advantages? And would you not say, He who regards religion as a power intends to abuse it as a priestcraft?" "Well put!" said Riccabocca. "Wait a moment--let me think! Ah, I see, Sir!" said Leonard. PARSON.--"If the cause be holy, do not weigh it in the scales of the market; if its objects be peaceful, do
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