You mean Mr?
I mean Mr Gowan, most decidedly, said Daniel Doyce.
There was a gap in the conversation, which Clennam devoted to winding up his watch.
Perhaps you are a little hasty in your judgment, he said. Our judgmentsI am supposing a general case
Of course, said Doyce.
Are so liable to be influenced by many considerations, which, almost without our knowing it, are unfair, that it is necessary to keep a guard upon them. For instance, Mr
Gowan, quietly said Doyce, upon whom the utterance of the name almost always devolved.
Is young and handsome, easy and quick, has talent, and has seen a good deal of various kinds of life. It might be difficult to give an unselfish reason for being prepossessed against him.
Not difficult for me, I think, Clennam, returned his partner. I see him bringing present anxiety, and, I fear, future sorrow, into my old friends house. I see him wearing deeper lines into my old friends face, the nearer he draws to, and the oftener he looks at, the face of his daughter. In short, I see him with a net about the pretty and affectionate creature whom he will never make happy. We dont know, said Clennam, almost in the tone of a man in pain, that he will not make her happy.
We dont know, returned his partner, that the earth will last another hundred years, but we think it highly probable.
Well, well! said Clennam, we must be hopeful, and we must at least try to be, if not generous (which, in this case, we have no opportunity of being), just. We will not disparage this gentleman, because he is successful in his addresses to the beautiful object of his ambition; and we will not question her natural right to bestow her love on one whom she finds worthy of it.
Maybe, my friend, said Doyce. Maybe also, that she is too young and petted, too confiding and inexperienced, to discriminate well.
That, said Clennam, would be far beyond our power of correction.
Daniel Doyce shook his head gravely, and rejoined, I fear so.
Therefore, in a word, said Clennam, we should make up our minds that it is not worthy of us to say any ill of Mr Gowan. It would be a poor thing to gratify a prejudice against him. And I resolve, for my part, not to depreciate him.
I am not quite so sure of myself, and therefore I reserve my privilege of objecting to him, returned the other. But, if I am not sure of myself, I am sure of you, Clennam, and I know what an upright man you are, and how much to be respected. Good night, MY friend and partner! He shook his hand in saying this, as if there had been something serious at the bottom of their conversation; and they separated.
By this time they had visited the family on several occasions, and had always observed that even a passing allusion to Mr Henry Gowan when he was not among them, brought back the cloud which had obscured Mr Meagless sunshine on the morning of the chance encounter at the Ferry. If Clennam had ever admitted the forbidden passion into his breast, this period might have been a period of real trial; under the actual circumstances, doubtless it was nothingnothing.
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