The Quality of Mercy

The Quality of Mercy

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The Quality of Mercy by William Dean Howells

Published:

1892

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The Quality of Mercy

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"The exoneration fo the individual and the attribution of his misdeeds to the social order, an order which individual effort seems powerless to better, is the underlying purpose of The Quality of Mercy."--William Dean Howells: a critical study by Delmar Gross Cooke.

Book Excerpt

n his losses suddenly leaped beyond his ability to make them good; then, for the first time, he began to practice that system in keeping the books which the furious president called juggling with them. Even this measure he considered a justifiable means of self-defence pending the difficulties which beset him, and until he could make his losses good by other operations. From time to time he was more fortunate; and whenever he dramatized himself in an explanation to the directors, as he often did, especially of late, he easily satisfied them as to the nature of his motives and the propriety of his behavior, by calling their attention to these successful deals, and to the probability, the entire probability, that he could be at any moment in a position to repay all he had borrowed of the company. He called it borrowing, and in his long habit of making himself these loans and returning them, he had come to have a sort of vague feeling that the company was privy to them; that it was almost an understood thing. Th

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