BOOK VII. TWO TEMPTATIONS.
64. CHAPTER LXIV.
1st Gent. Where lies the power, there let the blame lie too.
2d Gent. Nay, power is relative; you cannot fright
The coming pest with border fortresses,
Or catch your carp with subtle argument.
All force is twain in one: cause is not cause
Unless effect be there; and action's self
Must needs contain a passive. So command
Exists but with obedience."
Even if Lydgate had been inclined to be quite open about his affairs,
he knew that it would have hardly been in Mr. Farebrother's power
to give him the help he immediately wanted. With the year's bills
coming in from his tradesmen, with Dover's threatening hold on
his furniture, and with nothing to depend on but slow dribbling
payments from patients who must not be offended--for the handsome
fees he had had from Freshitt Hall and Lowick Manor had been
easily absorbed--nothing less than a thousand pounds would have
freed him from actual embarrassment, and left a residue which,
according to the favorite phrase of hopefulness in such circumstances,
would have given him "time to look about him."
Naturally, the merry Christmas bringing the happy New Year,
when fellow-citizens expect to be paid for the trouble and goods
they have smilingly bestowed on their neighbors, had so tightened
the pressure of sordid cares on Lydgate's mind that it was hardly
possible for him to think unbrokenly of any other subject, even the
most habitual and soliciting. He was not an ill-tempered man;
his intellectual activity, the ardent kindness of his heart, as well
as his strong frame, would always, under tolerably easy conditions,
have kept him above the petty uncontrolled susceptibilities which make
bad temper. But he was now a prey to that worst irritation which
arises not simply from annoyances, but from the second consciousness
underlying those annoyances, of wasted energy and a degrading
preoccupation, which was the reverse of all his former purposes.
"THIS is what I am thinking of; and THAT is what I might
have been thinking of," was the bitter incessant murmur within him,
making every difficulty a double goad to impatience.