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[352] he seemed to waive and scorn. There seemed a sort of Greek languor about him; not the best temperament for usefulness perhaps, nor even for happiness, but undoubtedly the most potent for personal fascination, though he would not have deigned to use it consciously for any such end. He seemed to attempt nothing; in fact it was the drawback upon his life that he did not greatly care to attempt anything; and yet his mere preferences seemed to carry more weight than the vigorous efforts of other men. Each of his associates had some anecdote to tell, showing how Stephen had at some time ‘conquered without the crossing of bayonets,’ effecting by a single quiet word or look what others had toiled and stormed in vain to accomplish. Quite democratic in his theories and sympathies,—though he never got credit for this with strangers, —and utterly despising every affectation of personal or social advantage, yet he had at his command all the haughtiness of a Venetian nobleman, and could at a moment's notice put barriers insurmountable and immeasurable between himself and any offender.

The sort of temperament which Charles Reade endeavors to describe in his Lord Ipsden in ‘Christie Johnstone’— but without there freeing it from a certain air of affectationwas natural and almost controlling in Stephen Perkins. Holding in his hands youth, beauty, culture, social advantages, he seemed yet to grasp them all lightly, as if for the next breeze to bear away. He dallied with his great powers, not in mere indolence, still less in conceit; but as if some hidden problem were first to be solved before these trivial faculties could become worth exercising. Meantime it was the very consciousness of this unstated problem which seemed to give him his influence. This delaying quality was the very thing that charmed. It suggested vast spaces of time and hidden resources of ability. It was not alone that thought in him lay behind action, but something else seemed to lie behind thought; as in a machine-shop the flume is behind the wheel, and the silent reservior beyond the flume. His control of those about him was not a thing won by effort, but a thing possessed in virtue of mere head-of-water.

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