Page:Court Royal.djvu/162

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another. There now, Beavis, you have my creed. How can I go into Parliament with such doctrine in my heart?’

‘That is not a creed at all; it is the confession of a mind that is too lazy to think.’

‘You are very rude.’

‘I speak the truth, Saltcombe. You know it.’

Lord Saltcombe laughed. ‘Of course you are right, Beavis. It is not pleasant, however, to hear the truth put so plainly. Nevertheless, I maintain that my position is a right one. No man can be a partisan in any cause unless he is ignorant of what is to be said on the opposite side. To be an enthusiast you must be narrow. The man of culture is an all-round man; he sees good everywhere, is tolerant of every form of faith, religious and political, because he believes that no party holds a monopoly of the right. The man of culture, then, must be indifferent to all parties.’

‘With your abilities, and your position, it is wicked to waste your life over shooting partridges and pheasants, collecting china, and reading ephemeral literature.’

‘Upon my word, Beavis, you are sharp on me.’

‘I am plain-spoken, Saltcombe, because you must be roused. You are throwing away life in that most miserable of all follies—killing time.’

Lord Saltcombe was annoyed. He raised his eyebrows, and lit a cigar.

‘You are striving to deaden the impulses of your nobler nature, which would force you into active life.’

‘Indeed,’ said the Marquess, coldly, ‘I do not contradict you. You feel strongly, speak over-vehemently, because you know only one side.’

‘I know what is right, what your own conscience tells you is right; and I say it at the risk of forfeiting your friendship.’

‘You strain the relation between us, Beavis,’ said Lord Saltcombe.

Young Worthivale was silent a moment. Lord Saltcombe crossed his legs and leaned back in his chair, he did not look at Beavis, whom he allowed to stand. He was annoyed, and wanted the young man to go. Presently, as Beavis did not move, he said: ‘Life is either a blank or a torture chamber. If we act in it, we involve ourselves in annoyances; if we aim at anything, we bring on ourselves disappointment; if we take a part in politics, we are covered with obloquy by our opponents—that is, by the press of the opposite party; if we appear in