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      66It is well for the reputation of Aristotle that he could apply himself with such devotion to the arduous and, in his time, inglorious researches of natural history and comparative anatomy, since it was only in those departments that he made any real contributions to physical science. In the studies which were to him the noblest and most entrancing of any, his speculations are one long record of wearisome, hopeless, unqualified delusion. If, in the philosophy of practice and the philosophy of art, he afforded no real guidance at all, in the philosophy of Nature his guidance has312 always led men fatally astray. So far as his means of observation extended, there was nothing that he did not attempt to explain, and in every single instance he was wrong. He has written about the general laws of matter and motion, astronomy, chemistry, meteorology, and physiology, with the result that he has probably made more blunders on those subjects than any human being ever made before or after him. And, if there is one thing more astounding than his unbroken infelicity of speculation, it is the imperturbable self-confidence with which he puts forward his fallacies as demonstrated scientific certainties. Had he been right, it was no slight or partial glimpses of the beloved that would have been vouchsafed him, but the fullest and nearest revelation of her beauties. But the more he looked the less he saw. Instead of drawing aside he only thickened and darkened the veils of sense which obscured her, by mistaking them for the glorious forms that lay concealed beneath.

      As we approached Jhansi we passed a village whence all the inhabitants had fled. The houses, the little temples, the gods on their pedestals by the dried-up tankseverything was thickly coated with white dust.

      When the affair was fully explained to her she threw herself at his feet, exclaimingA dancing-girl went by, wrapped in white muslin as thin as air, hardly veiling the exquisite grace of her shape. Close to us, in front of two musicians playing on the vina and the tom-tom, she began to dance, jingling the rattles and bells on her anklets: a mysterious dance with slow movements and long bows alternating with sudden leaps, her hands crossed on her heart, in a lightning flash of silver necklets and bangles. Every now and then a shadow passed between the nautch-girl and the lights that fell on her while she was dancing, and then she could scarcely be seen to touch the ground, she seemed to float in her fluttering[Pg 301] drapery; and presently, before the musicians had ceased playing, she vanished in the gloom of a side alley. She had asked for nothing, had danced simply for the pleasure of displaying her grace.

      stop him he rose--rather shakily--and steadied himself by the backM. de Beaune was cheerful enough when the day was fine, as he spent his time in visiting them; but when it rained he stayed at home fretting, grumbling, and adding unintentionally to the troubles of those he loved. He took to reading romances aloud to Pauline, who could not bear them, partly, perhaps, from over-strictness, but probably more because in those days, before Sir Walter Scott had elevated and changed the tone of fiction, novels were really as a rule coarse, immoral, [236] and, with few exceptions, tabooed by persons of very correct notions. However, she knew M. de Beaune must be amused, so she made no objection.

      30th Septemberthink of anything to say. And now he has gone away imagining

      He and Vergennes were said to have wasted the revenues of France, but at any rate he spent money like a gentleman, and when, in 1787, he was dismissed from office, he did not possess an cu.



      What these frenzied orders have cost in human lives History will tell later on.


      The muddy waters reflected the grey houses and the roofs of unbaked clay, on which the winter snows were melting in black trickling drops.