Page:Court Royal.djvu/391

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You cannot do what you like, you have to consider everyone else. You have obligations to every child in the school and sick woman on her bed. You have to dress according to your station; attend church to set an example. Where is the I Myself in this? A poor bound lion in a net. The coming change is the bursting of the lion out of the net, and the rending of every mesh that entangled him; it is the rebellion of the individual against obligations of every sort, social, moral, political, religious. Self will be free and follow its own will wherever it leads—free to enjoy every luxury that civilisation can give, without scruple from within or check from without.’

Lucy shuddered.

Charles laughed. ‘This frightens you, and well it may, brought up as you are in the old world. I do not say that your old world is wrong, or that the new world which is beginning to live is right. They are counter principles. I tell you what is coming; I need no prophetic instinct to see that. The individual for the first time since the fall of old Rome and heathenism is asserting itself. Hitherto the body corporate has been supreme.’

‘That will be a terrible time. I dare not even think of it.’

‘Not as bad as you suppose. In mechanics, when two forces meet, running in different directions, they do not kill each other, but they produce a resultant, that is, a force which goes in quite a new direction. The old idea is not exhausted, and when the new idea clashes against it, neither is neutralised so as to cease to be, both are modified and altered into a resultant of some sort. What the resultant will be when the counter forces in modern life meet, I cannot conjecture, but we shall see a new social departure in a direction of which we know nothing.’

‘To return to Lady Grace.’

‘You are right; to return to her. You see, I do not want to break away from the new current, to plunge myself in the old, which is passing away.’

‘What prospect of happiness is there to either, with minds and principles so dissimilar, so conflicting?’

‘That,’ said he, and sighed, ‘that is what I continually ask myself, and am as often frightened at the answer.’

‘Oh, Cousin Charles! do not risk the ruin of her, of your life, by persevering.’

‘Remember, Lucy, she encouraged me. She made the