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His mission was to show to the world the cloud wrappings, the strange delusive vapours, the deep abysses of mystery in which our little tangible life floats, surrounded on every side by bewildering darkness, and wonders which no man can clear up. To those who saw in it a clear, comfortable, solid universe enough, the best of all possible worlds, in which man's chief end was to attain comfort and respectability, he was a great destructive, pulling down every foundation and leaving the unhappy soul weltering in mists and marshes of the unknowable. . . . That the world was a place for a man to make his way in, to make his fortune, to attain comfort and reputation by steady climbing, catching at every twig to help himself up, was the famous gospel of respectability which he felt himself bound to trample under foot; and it is true that he had no other gospel to proclaim; that was not his business. [112-13.]


Oliphant, Mrs. [Margaret]. The Victorian Age of English Literature. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1892.

Last modified 20 February 2002