E. M. Forster: Howards End

8. CHAPTER VIII (continued)

A shake of the head. "I only meant that I am fifty-one, and that to me both of you-- Read it all in some book or other; I cannot put things clearly."

"Oh, I've got it--inexperience. I'm no better than Helen, you mean, and yet I presume to advise her."

"Yes. You have got it. Inexperience is the word."

"Inexperience," repeated Margaret, in serious yet buoyant tones.

"Of course, I have everything to learn--absolutely everything --just as much as Helen. Life's very difficult and full of surprises. At all events, I've got as far as that. To be humble and kind, to go straight ahead, to love people rather than pity them, to remember the submerged--well, one can't do all these things at once, worse luck, because they're so contradictory. It's then that proportion comes in--to live by proportion. Don't BEGIN with proportion. Only prigs do that. Let proportion come in as a last resource, when the better things have failed, and a deadlock-- Gracious me, I've started preaching!"

"Indeed, you put the difficulties of life splendidly," said Mrs. Wilcox, withdrawing her hand into the deeper shadows. "It is just what I should have liked to say about them myself."

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