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"Generous deed should not be checked by cold counsel." (Tolkien's Return of the King)

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25 May 2005

Eliot's Daniel Deronda

Deronda's unconscious fervour had gathered as he went on: he was uttering thoughts which he had used for himself in moments of painful meditation.

'Then tell me what better I can do,' said Gwendolen, insistently. "Many things. Look on other lives besides your own. See what their troubles are, and how they are borne. Try to care about something in this vast world besides the gratification of small selfish desires. Try to care for what is best in thought and action--something that is good apart from the incidents of your own lot.' ... 'You mean that I am selfish and ignorant.' He met her fixed look in silence before he answered firmly-- 'You will not go on being selfish and ignorant.' ... 'Can't you understand that?' 'I think I do--now,' said Gwendolen.

"But you were right--I am selfish. I have never thought much of anyone's feelings, except my mother's. I have not been fond of people. But what can I do?'... You say I am ignorant. But what good is the good of trying to know more, unless life were worth more?'

'This good,' said Deronda, promptly, 'life would be worth more to you: some real knowledge would give you an interest in the world beyond the small drama of personal desires. It is the curse of your life--forgive me--of so many lives, that all passion is spent in that narrow round, for want of ideas and sympathies to make a larger home for it. Is there any single occupation of mind that you care about with passionate delight or even independent interest?' (Excerpt from George Eliot's Daniel Deronda)