I'm reading Arthur Conan Doyle's LOT NO. 249, and I'm having some troubles understanding the first paragraph.
Of the dealings of Edward Bellingham with William Monkhouse Lee, and of the cause of the great terror of Abercrombie Smith, it may be that no absolute and final judgment will ever be delivered.
Let A stand for "the dealings of Edward Bellingham with William Monkhouse Lee".
Let B stand for "the cause of the great terror of Abercrombie Smith".
And maybe, we can rewrite it as:
It may be that no absolute and final judgment will ever be delivered of A and B.
= It may be impossible to make an absolute and final judgement on matters A and B.
which may mean that it's hard to really understand or form a definite opinion on matters A and B?
It is true that we have the full and clear narrative of Smith himself, and such corroboration as he could look for from Thomas Styles the servant, from the Reverend Plumptree Peterson, Fellow of Old's, and from such other people as chanced to gain some passing glance at this or that incident in a singular chain of events.
Does it mean
The story will narrate Smith's perspective which is full and clear. The story also has evidence from the servant, from one fellow of Old's, and from other such people who might have had witnessed some incidents part of a big happening (consisting of many events).
Yet, in the main, the story must rest upon Smith alone, and the most will think that it is more likely that one brain, however outwardly sane, has some subtle warp in its texture, some strange flaw in its workings, than that the path of Nature has been overstepped in open day in so famed a centre of learning and light as the University of Oxford.
This sentence is the really confusing one. I vaguely understand the first part of this sentence. As for that "path of Nature [...]" clause, I really have no idea.
But, in the main story/narrative, the focus must be Smith's experiences/perspective. Most can reasonably argue that one brain no matter how sane it seems from the outside is likely to have slight distortions—and thus one person's narrative is questionable, something experienced and agreed on simultaneously by multiple people has more credibility. And even someone from so famous a institute as Oxford may have a flawed .... brain???
Yet when we think how narrow and how devious this path of Nature is, how dimly we can trace it, for all our lamps of science, and how from the darkness which girds it round great and terrible possibilities loom ever shadowly upwards, it is a bold and confident man who will put a limit to the strange by-paths into which the human spirit may wander.
Clueless on this one.