Page:Tales of John Oliver Hobbes.djvu/295

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A Study in Temptations.

were observed in it, in a manner which showed the author had never heard of Aristotle. Miss Jenyns's acting had the same unpremeditated excellence. The polite world, however, was doing its best to make her think that her readings were the result of laborious thought, that she spent hours over the nice lifting of an eyelid and devoted months to the right inflexion of a syllable, but Wrath, with his usual bluntness, having declared that "all such twaddle made him sick," she dared not assume prodigious airs in his presence. But she found it humiliating to reflect that she had so very little to do with her own ability—that she was, after all, a sort of puppet controlled by an invisible power, who made her do wonderful things when she thought she was simply acting on a chance idea.

Now young Mauden, fresh from Oxford, with much learning and no wisdom, with Plato in his brain, the Odyssey next his heart, and Aristophanes in his portmanteau—Mauden, who could find the whole of Aristotle in a pause, was exactly the sort of clever youth to persuade a fresh woman into a dull pedant. Already, after one conversation with De Boys on the Irony of Shakespeare contrasted with the Irony of Sophocles, a brief discussion on the respective characters of Lear and Œdipus, with hints at Dumas, so local but so witty, and Augier, whose humour deserted him in a big situation, Sophia was beginning to feel, that Wrath as a dramatic critic lacked culture: he talked too much about work and common sense, and not enough about the True, the Universal, and Objectivity. Yet he, too, was an Oxford man, and well read: so differently do men apply their knowledge.