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"Will Mr. Nayland Smith please come to the Wapping River

2023-12-06 06:22:08 source:School of insects and fishauthor: year click:810Second-rate

"'Why not live in Ludgate Circus,' I said, 'and be always as you are now?'

"'Because,' he answered, 'man is a pendulum, and must travel his arc.'

"'My dear Mac,' said he, laying his hand upon my shoulder, 'there is only one good thing about me, and that is a moral. Man is as God made him: don't be so sure that you can take him to pieces and improve him. All my life I have sought to make myself an unnaturally superior person. Nature has retaliated by making me also an unnaturally inferior person. Nature abhors lopsidedness. She turns out man as a whole, to be developed as a whole. I always wonder, whenever I come across a supernaturally pious, a supernaturally moral, a supernaturally cultured person, if they also have a reverse self.'

"I was shocked at his suggested argument, and walked by his side for a while without speaking. At last, feeling curious on the subject, I asked him how his various love affairs were progressing.

"'Oh, as usual,' he replied; 'in and out of a cul de sac. When I am Smythe I love Eliza, and Eliza loathes me. When I am Smith I love Edith, and the mere sight of me makes her shudder. It is as unfortunate for them as for me. I am not saying it boastfully. Heaven knows it is an added draught of misery in my cup; but it is a fact that Eliza is literally pining away for me as Smith, and--as Smith I find it impossible to be even civil to her; while Edith, poor girl, has been foolish enough to set her heart on me as Smythe, and as Smythe she seems to me but the skin of a woman stuffed with the husks of learning, and rags torn from the corpse of wit.'

"I remained absorbed in my own thoughts for some time, and did not come out of them till we were crossing the Minories. Then, the idea suddenly occurring to me, I said:

"'Why don't you get a new girl altogether? There must be medium girls that both Smith and Smythe could like, and that would put up with both of you.'

"'No more girls for this child,' he answered 'they're more trouble than they're worth. Those yer want yer carn't get, and those yer can 'ave, yer don't want.'

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