“If it had no importance he scarcely knew why his initial impression of her should so seem to have so much; the answer to which, however, was that in such a life as they all appeared to be leading for the moment one could but take things as they came”
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle” in The Better Sort, (New York: The Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1903), 190-191.
The appearance of how a life is lived can be as important as how a life is actually lived. James is also speaking on the inevitability of events and the importance of taking things in stride.
“It affected him as the sequel of something of which he had lost the beginning. He knew it, and for the time quite welcomed it, as a continuation, but didn’t know what it continued, which was an interest, or an amusement, the greater as he was also somehow aware – yet without a direct sign from her – that the young woman herself had not lost the thread. She had not lost it, but she wouldn’t give it back to him, he saw, without some putting forth of his hand for it; and he not only saw that, but saw several things more, things odd enough in the light of the fact that at the moment some accident of grouping brought them face to face he was still merely fumbling with the idea that any contact between them in the past would have had no importance. If it had had no importance he scarcely knew why his actual impression of her should so seem to have so much; the answer to which, however, was that in such a life as they all appeared to be leading for the moment one could but take things as they came.”
Notes: he has to make an effort, figuring out if meetings have an importance, shift to taking life as it comes, beginnings and continuations
Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories & Essays (New York: Library of America, 1999), 446.