Anthony Trollope, Can You Forgive Her?: Vol. 2, Ch. 34

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Chapter LXXIV: Showing What Happened in the Churchyard 

These arrangements as to the return of Mr Palliser's party to London did not, of course, include Mr Grey. They were generally discussed in Mr Grey's absence, and communicated to him by Mr Palliser. "I suppose we shall see you in England before long?" said Mr Palliser. "I shall be able to tell you that before you go," said Grey. "Not but that in any event I shall return to England before the winter."

"Then come to us at Matching," said Mr Palliser. "We shall be most happy to have you. Say that you'll come for the first fortnight in December. After that we always go to the Duke, in Barsetshire. Though, by-the-by, I don't suppose we shall go anywhere this year," Mr Palliser added, interrupting the warmth of his invitation, and reflecting that, under the present circumstances, perhaps, it might be improper to have any guests at Matching in December. But he had become very fond of Mr Grey, and on this occasion, as he had done on some others, pressed him warmly to make an attempt at Parliament. "It isn't nearly so difficult as you think," said he, when Grey declared that he would not know where to look for a seat. "See the men that get in. There was Mr Vavasor. Even he got a seat."

"But he had to pay for it very dearly."

"You might easily find some quiet little borough."

"Quiet little boroughs have usually got their own quiet little Members," said Grey.

"They're fond of change; and if you like to spend a thousand pounds, the thing isn't difficult. I'll put you in the way of it." But Mr Grey still declined. He was not a man prone to be talked out of his own way of life, and the very fact that George Vavasor had been in Parliament would of itself have gone far towards preventing any attempt on his part in that direction. Alice had also wanted him to go into public life, but he had put aside her request as though the thing were quite out of the question,—never giving a moment to its consideration. Had she asked him to settle himself and her in Central Africa, his manner and mode of refusal would have been the same. It was this immobility on his part,—this absolute want of any of the weakness of indecision, which had frightened her, and driven her away from him. He was partly aware of this; but that which he had declined to do at her solicitation, he certainly would not do at the advice of any one else. So it was that he argued the matter with himself. Had he now allowed himself to be so counselled, with what terrible acknowledgements of his own faults must he not have presented himself before Alice?

"I suppose books, then, will be your object in life?" said Mr Palliser.

"I hope they will be my aids," Grey answered. "I almost doubt whether any object such as that you mean is necessary for life, or even expedient. It seems to me that if a man can so train himself that he may live honestly and die fearlessly, he has done about as much as is necessary."

"He has done a great deal, certainly," said Mr Palliser, who was not ready enough to carry on the argument as he might have done had more time been given to him to consider it. He knew very well that he himself was working for others, and not for himself; and he was aware, though he had not analysed his own convictions on the matter, that good men struggle as they do in order that others, besides themselves, may live honestly, and, if possible, die fearlessly. The recluse of Nethercoats had thought much more about all this than the rising star of the House of Commons; but the philosophy of the rising star was the better philosophy of the two, though he was by far the less brilliant man. "I don't see why a man should not live honestly and be a Member of Parliament as well," continued Mr Palliser, when he had been silent for a few minutes.

"Nor I either," said Grey. "I am sure that there are such men, and that the country is under great obligation to them. But they are subject to temptations which a prudent man like myself may perhaps do well to avoid." But though he spoke with an assured tone, he was shaken, and almost regretted that he did not accept the aid which was offered to him. It is astonishing how strong a man may be to those around him,—how impregnable may be his exterior, while within he feels himself to be as weak as water, and as unstable as chaff.