Monday, January 16, 2012

"general doctrine . . . unchecked by the deep-seated habit of direct fellow-feeling"

"There may be coarse hypocrites, who consciously affect beliefs and emotions for the sake of gulling the world, but Bulstrode was not one of them.  He was simply a man whose desires had been stronger than his theoretic beliefs, and who had gradually explained the gratification of his desires into satisfactory agreement with those beliefs.  If this be hypocrisy, it is a process which shows itself occasionally in us all, to whatever confession we belong. . . .
"to Mr Bulstrode God's cause was something different from his own rectitude of conduct:  it enforced a discrimination of God's enemies, who were to be used merely as instruments, and whom it would be well if possible to keep out of money and consequent influence.  Also, profitable investments in trades where the power of the prince of this world showed its most active devices, became sanctified by a right application of the profits in the hands of God's servant.
     "This implicit reasoning is essentially no more peculiar to evangelical belief than the use of wide phrases for narrow motives is peculiar to Englishmen.  There is no general doctrine which is not capable of eating out our morality if unchecked by the deep-seated habit of direct fellow-feeling with individual fellow-men."

     George Eliot, Middlemarch, Bk. 6, chap. 61 (ed. W. J. Harvey (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1965), 667-668).

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