His nature was too large, too ready to conceive regions beyond his own experience, to rest at once in the easy explanation, ‘madness,’ whenever a consciousness showed some fullness and conviction where his own was blank. It accorded with his habitual disposition that he should meet rather than resist any claim on him in the shape of another’s need…
The more exquisite quality of Deronda’s nature—that keenly perceptive sympathetic emotiveness which ran along with his speculative tendency—was never more thoroughly tested. He felt nothing that could be called belief in the validity of Mordecai’s impessions concerning him or in the probability of any greatly effective issue: what he felt was a profound sensibility to a cry from the depths of another soul; and accompanying that, the summons to be receptive instead of superciliously prejudging. Receptiveness is a rare and massive power, like fortitude; and this state of mind now gave Deronda’s face its utmost expression of calm beningnant force—an expression which nourished Mordecai’s confidence and made an open way before him. He began to speak.
—George Eliot, Daniel Deronda
I just can’t get over Eliot’s ability to put words to such subtle and ineffable human qualities, qualities which I think are quite out of fashion these days. Condescending charity is certainly popular enough, but that is not what is going on here. Deronda is putting himself at the service of a near total stranger, about whom he knows little, and who even repels him slightly. He doesn’t give hand-outs; he gives his hand, open.