St Ogg's Passes Judgment

IT was soon known throughout St Ogg's that Miss Tulliver was come back: she had not, then, eloped in order to be married to Mr Stephen Guest - at all events, Mr Stephen Guest had not married her - which came to the same thing, so far as her culpability was concerned. We judge others according to results; how else? - not knowing the process by which results are arrived at. If Miss Tulliver, after a few months of well-chosen travel, had returned as Mrs Stephen Guest - with a post-marital trousseau and all the advantages possessed even by the most unwelcome wife of an only son, public opinion, which at St Ogg's, as elsewhere, always knew what to think, would have judged in strict consistency with those results. Public opinion, in these cases, is always of the feminine gender - not the world, but the world's wife: and she would have seen, that two handsome young people - the gentleman of quite the first family in St Ogg's - having found themselves in a false position, had been led into a course, which, to say the least of it, was highly injudicious, and productive of sad pain and disappointment, especially to that sweet young thing, Miss Deane. Mr Stephen Guest had certainly not behaved well; but then, young men were liable to those sudden infatuated attachments - and bad as it might seem in Mrs Stephen Guest to admit the faintest advances from her cousin's lover (indeed it had been said that she was actually engaged to young Wakem - old Wakem himself had mentioned it) still she was very young - `and a deformed young man, you know! - and young Guest so very fascinating, and, they say, he positively worshipped her (to be sure, that can't last!) and he ran away with her in the boat quite against her will - and what could she do? She couldn't come back then: no one would have spoken to her. And how very well that maize-coloured satinette becomes her complexion - it seems as if the folds in front were quite come in - several of her dresses are made so - they say, he thinks nothing too handsome to buy for her. Poor Miss Deane! She is very pitiable - but then, there was no positive engagement - and the air at the coast will do her good. After all, if young Guest felt no more for her than that, it was better for her not to marry him. What a wonderful marriage for a girl like Miss Tulliver - quite romantic! Why - young Guest will put up for the borough at the next election. Nothing like commerce nowadays! That young Wakem nearly went out of his mind - he always was rather queer; but he's gone abroad again to be out of the way - quite the best thing for a deformed young man. Miss Unit declares she will never visit Mr and Mrs Stephen Guest - such nonsense! pretending to be better than other people. Society couldn't be carried on if we inquired into private conduct in that way - and Christianity tells us to think no evil - and my belief is, that Miss Unit had no cards sent her.' But the results, we know, were not of a kind to warrant this extenuation of the past. Maggie had returned without a trousseau, without a husband - in that degraded and outcast condition to which error is well known to lead; and the world's wife, with that fine instinct which is given her for the preservation of society, saw at once that Miss Tulliver's conduct had been of the most aggravated kind. Could anything be more detestable? - A girl so much indebted to her friends - whose mother as well as herself had received so much kindness from the Deanes - to lay the design of winning a young man's affections away from her own cousin who had behaved like a sister to her? Winning his affections? That was not the phrase for such a girl as Miss Tulliver: it would have been more correct to say that she had been actuated by mere unwomanly boldness and unbridled passion. There was always something questionable about her. That connection with young Wakem, which, they said, had been carried on for years, looked very ill: disgusting, in fact! But with a girl of that disposition! - to the world's wife there had always been something in Miss Tulliver's very physique that a refined instinct felt to be prophetic of harm. As for poor Mr Stephen Guest, he was rather pitiable than otherwise: a young man of five and twenty is not to be too severely judged in these cases - he is really very much at the mercy of a designing bold girl. And it was clear that he had given way in spite of himself - he had shaken her off as soon as he could: indeed, their having parted so soon looked very black indeed - for her. To be sure he had written a letter, laying all the blame on himself, and telling the story in a romantic fashion so as to try and make her appear quite innocent: of course he could do that! But the refined instinct of the world's wife was not to be deceived: providentially! - else what would become of society? Why - her own brother had turned her from his door - he had seen enough, you might be sure, before he would do that. A truly respectable young man - Mr Tom Tulliver - quite likely to rise in the world! His sister's disgrace was naturally a heavy blow to him. It was to be hoped that she would go out of the neighbourhood - to America, or anywhere - so as to purify the air of St Ogg's from the taint of her presence - extremely dangerous to daughters there! No good could happen to her: - it was only to

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