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COPYRIGHT 2013 International Education Institute,
ATTN: Ken Harvey, 2027 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick
WA 99336, USA
by George Eliot
ptWho that cares much to know
the history of
man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves
under the varying experiments of
Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on
the life of Saint Theresa, has not
smiled with some gentleness at the thought
of the little girl walking forth one
morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller
brother, to go and seek martyrdom
in the country of the Moors? Out
toddled from rugged Avila, wide-eyed and
helpless-looking as two fawns, but
with human hearts, already beating to a
national idea; until domestic reality
met them in the shape of uncles, and turned
them back from their great
child-pilgrimage was a fit
nature demanded an epic life: what were
many-volumed romances of chivalry and
the social conquests of a brilliant girl to
Her flame quickly burned up
that light fuel;
and, fed from within, soared after some
illimitable satisfaction, some object
which would never justify weariness, which
would reconcile self-despair with
the raurous consciousness of life beyond
She found her epos in the reform
woman who lived three hundred
years ago, was certainly not the last of her
Many Theresas have been born
who found for
themselves no epic life wherein there was a
constant unfolding of far-resonant
action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the
offspring of a certain spiritual
grandeur ill-matched with the meanness of
opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure
which found no sacred poet and sank unwept
into oblivion. With
dim lights and tangled circumstance they
tried to shape their thought and deed in
noble agreement; but after all, to
common eyes their struggles seemed mere
inconsistency and formlessness; for
these later-born Theresas were helped by no
coherent social faith and order
which could perform the function of
knowledge for the ardently willing
Their ardor alternated between
vague ideal and the common yearning of
womanhood; so that the one was
disapproved as extravagance, and the other
condemned as a lapse.
felt that these blundering lives
are due to the inconvenient indefiniteness with
which the Supreme Power has
fashioned the natures of women: if there were
one level of feminine
incompetence as strict as the ability to count
three and no more, the social
lot of women might be treated with scientific
Meanwhile the indefiniteness
remains, and the
limits of variation are really much wider than
any one would imagine from the
sameness of women's coiffure and the favorite
love-stories in prose and verse. Here
and there a cygnet is reared uneasily
among the ducklings in the brown pond, and never
finds the living stream in
fellowship with its own oary-footed kind.
Here and there is born a Saint
Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose
loving heart-beats and sobs after an unattained
goodness tremble off and are
dispersed among hindrances, instead of centring
in some long-recognizable deed.
"Since I can do no good because a woman,
Reach constantly at something that is near it.
The Maid's Tragedy:
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER.
had that kind of beauty which
seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
Her hand and wrist were so finely formed
that she could wear sleeves not
less bare of style than those in which the Blessed
Virgin appeared to Italian
painters; and her profile as well as her stature
and bearing seemed to gain the
more dignity from her plain garments, which by the
side of provincial fashion
gave her the impressiveness of a fine quotation
from the Bible, – or from one
of our elder poets, – in a paragraph of to-day's
was usually spoken of as being remarkably
clever, but with the addition that her sister
Celia had more common-sense.
Nevertheless, Celia wore scarcely more trimmings;
and it was only to close observers
that her dress differed from her sister's, and had
a shade of coquetry in its
arrangements; for Miss Brooke's plain dressing was
due to mixed conditions, in
most of which her sister shared. The
pride of being ladies had something to do with it:
the Brooke connections,
though not exactly aristocratic, were
unquestionably "good:" if you
inquired backward for a generation or two, you
would not find any
yard-measuring or parcel-tying forefathers –
anything lower than an admiral or
a clergyman; and there was even an ancestor
discernible as a Puritan gentleman
who served under Cromwell, but afterwards
conformed, and managed to come out of
all political troubles as the proprietor of a
respectable family estate. Young
women of such birth, living in a quiet
country-house, and attending a village church
hardly larger than a parlor,
naturally regarded frippery as the ambition of a
Then there was well-bred economy, which in
those days made show in dress the first item to be
deducted from, when any
margin was required for expenses more distinctive
of rank. Such
reasons would have been enough to
account for plain dress, quite apart from
religious feeling; but in Miss
Brooke's case, religion alone would have
determined it; and Celia mildly
acquiesced in all her sister's sentiments, only
infusing them with that
common-sense which is able to accept momentous
doctrines without any eccentric
knew many passages
of Pascal's Pensees and of Jeremy Taylor by heart;
and to her the destinies of
mankind, seen by the light of Christianity, made
the solicitudes of feminine
fashion appear an occupation for Bedlam.
She could not reconcile the anxieties of a
spiritual life involving
eternal consequences, with a keen interest in gimp
and artificial protrusions
of drapery. Her
mind was theoretic, and
yearned by its nature after some lofty conception
of the world which might
frankly include the parish of Tipton and her own
rule of conduct there; she was
enamoured of intensity and greatness, and rash in
embracing whatever seemed to
her to have those aspects; likely to seek
martyrdom, to make retractations, and
then to incur martyrdom after all in a quarter
where she had not sought
such elements in the
character of a marriageable girl tended to
interfere with her lot, and hinder
it from being decided according to custom, by good
looks, vanity, and merely
With all this, she,
the elder of the sisters, was not yet twenty, and
they had both been educated,
since they were about twelve years old and had
lost their parents, on plans at
once narrow and promiscuous, first in an English
family and afterwards in a
Swiss family at Lausanne, their bachelor uncle and
guardian trying in this way
to remedy the disadvantages of their orphaned
It was hardly
a year since they had come to
live at Tipton Grange with their uncle, a man
nearly sixty, of acquiescent
temper, miscellaneous opinions, and uncertain
had travelled in his younger years, and was
held in this part of the county to have contracted
a too rambling habit of
Brooke's conclusions were as
difficult to predict as the weather: it was only
safe to say that he would act
with benevolent intentions, and that he would
spend as little money as possible
in carrying them out. For the
glutinously indefinite minds enclose some hard
grains of habit; and a man has
been seen lax about all his own interests except
the retention of his
snuff-box, concerning which he was watchful,
suspicious, and greedy of clutch.
In Mr. Brooke
the hereditary strain of
Puritan energy was clearly in abeyance; but in his
niece Dorothea it glowed
alike through faults and virtues, turning
sometimes into impatience of her
uncle's talk or his way of "letting things be" on
his estate, and
making her long all the more for the time when she
would be of age and have
some command of money for generous schemes.
She was regarded as an heiress; for not
only had the sisters seven
hundred a-year each from their parents, but if
Dorothea married and had a son,
that son would inherit Mr. Brooke's estate,
presumably worth about three
thousand a-year – a rental which seemed wealth to
provincial families, still
discussing Mr. Peel's late conduct on the Catholic
question, innocent of future
gold-fields, and of that gorgeous plutocracy which
has so nobly exalted the
necessities of genteel life.
And how should
Dorothea not marry? – a girl
so handsome and with such prospects?
Nothing could hinder it but her love of
extremes, and her insistence on
regulating life according to notions which might
cause a wary man to hesitate
before he made her an offer, or even might lead
her at last to refuse all
young lady of some birth and
fortune, who knelt suddenly down on a brick floor
by the side of a sick laborer
and prayed fervidly as if she thought herself
living in the time of the
Apostles – who had strange whims of fasting like a
Papist, and of sitting up at
night to read old theological books!
Such a wife might awaken you some fine
morning with a new scheme for the
application of her income which would interfere
with political economy and the
keeping of saddle-horses: a man would naturally
think twice before he risked
himself in such fellowship. Women
expected to have weak opinions; but the great
safeguard of society and of
domestic life was, that opinions were not acted
people did what their neighbors did, so
that if any lunatics were at large, one might know
and avoid them.
opinion about the new young
ladies, even among the cottagers, was generally in
favor of Celia, as being so
amiable and innocent-looking, while Miss Brooke's
large eyes seemed, like her
religion, too unusual and striking. Poor
Dorothea! compared with her, the innocent-looking
Celia was knowing and
worldly-wise; so much subtler is a human mind than
the outside tissues which
make a sort of blazonry or clock-face for it.
Yet those who
approached Dorothea, though
prejudiced against her by this alarming hearsay,
found that she had a charm
unaccountably reconcilable with it. Most
men thought her bewitching when she was on
loved the fresh air and the various
aspects of the country, and when her eyes and
cheeks glowed with mingled
pleasure she looked very little like a devotee.
Riding was an indulgence which she allowed
herself in spite of
conscientious qualms; she felt that she enjoyed it
in a pagan sensuous way, and
always looked forward to renouncing it.
She was open,
ardent, and not in the least
self-admiring; indeed, it was pretty to see how
her imagination adorned her
sister Celia with attractions altogether superior
to her own, and if any
gentleman appeared to come to the Grange from some
other motive than that of
seeing Mr. Brooke, she concluded that he must be
in love with Celia: Sir James
Chettam, for example, whom she constantly
considered from Celia's point of
view, inwardly debating whether it would be good
for Celia to accept him. That he
should be regarded as a suitor to
herself would have seemed to her a ridiculous
Dorothea, with all her eagerness to know
truths of life, retained very childlike ideas
She felt sure that she would have accepted
the judicious Hooker, if she had been born in time
to save him from that
wretched mistake he made in matrimony; or John
Milton when his blindness had
come on; or any of the other great men whose odd
habits it would have been
glorious piety to endure; but an amiable handsome
baronet, who said
"Exactly" to her remarks even when she expressed
uncertainty, – how
could he affect her as a lover? The
really delightful marriage must be that where your
husband was a sort of
father, and could teach you even Hebrew, if you
peculiarities of Dorothea's character
caused Mr. Brooke to be all the more blamed in
neighboring families for not
securing some middle-aged lady as guide and
companion to his nieces. But he
himself dreaded so much the sort of
superior woman likely to be available for such a
position, that he allowed
himself to be dissuaded by Dorothea's objections,
and was in this case brave
enough to defy the world – that is to say, Mrs.
Cadwallader the Rector's wife,
and the small group of gentry with whom he visited
in the northeast corner of
Miss Brooke presided in
her uncle's household, and did not at all dislike
her new authority, with the
homage that belonged to it.
Chettam was going to dine at the
Grange to-day with another gentleman whom the
girls had never seen, and about
whom Dorothea felt some venerating expectation.
This was the Reverend Edward Casaubon,
noted in the county as a man of
profound learning, understood for many years to be
engaged on a great work
concerning religious history; also as a man of
wealth enough to give lustre to
his piety, and having views of his own which were
to be more clearly
ascertained on the publication of his book.
His very name carried an impressiveness
hardly to be measured without a
precise chronology of scholarship.
Early in the
day Dorothea had returned from
the infant school which she had set going in the
village, and was taking her
usual place in the pretty sitting-room which
divided the bedrooms of the
sisters, bent on finishing a plan for some
buildings (a kind of work which she
delighted in), when Celia, who had been watching
her with a hesitating desire
to propose something, said –
dear, if you don't mind –
if you are not very busy – suppose we looked at
mamma's jewels to-day, and
It is exactly six months
to-day since uncle gave them to you, and you have
not looked at them yet."
had the shadow of a pouting
expression in it, the full presence of the pout
being kept back by an habitual
awe of Dorothea and principle; two associated
facts which might show a
mysterious electricity if you touched them
To her relief, Dorothea's eyes were full of
laughter as she looked up.
wonderful little almanac you
are, Celia! Is
it six calendar or six
"It is the
last day of September now,
and it was the first of April when uncle gave them
to you. You
know, he said that he had forgotten them
till then. I
believe you have never
thought of them since you locked them up in the
we should never wear
them, you know." Dorothea spoke in a full cordial
tone, half caressing,
She had her pencil in
her hand, and was making tiny side-plans on a
and looked very grave. "I
think, dear, we are wanting in
respect to mamma's memory, to put them by and take
no notice of them.
And," she added, after hesitating a
little, with a rising sob of mortification,
"necklaces are quite usual
now; and Madame Poincon, who was stricter in some
things even than you are,
used to wear ornaments. And
generally – surely there are women in heaven now
who wore jewels." Celia
was conscious of some mental strength when she
really applied herself to
like to wear them?"
exclaimed Dorothea, an air of astonished discovery
animating her whole person
with a dramatic action which she had caught from
that very Madame Poincon who
wore the ornaments.
then, let us have them out. Why did
not tell me before?
But the keys, the
keys!" She pressed her hands against the sides of
her head and seemed to
despair of her memory.
here," said Celia, with
whom this explanation had been long meditated and
"Pray open the
large drawer of the
cabinet and get out the jewel-box."
The casket was
soon open before them, and
the various jewels spread out, making a bright
parterre on the table. It was
no great collection, but a few of the
ornaments were really of remarkable beauty, the
finest that was obvious at
first being a necklace of purple amethysts set in
exquisite gold work, and a
pearl cross with five brilliants in it.
Dorothea immediately took up the necklace
and fastened it round her
sister's neck, where it fitted almost as closely
as a bracelet; but the circle
suited the Henrietta-Maria style of Celia's head
and neck, and she could see
that it did, in the pier-glass opposite.
you can wear that with
your Indian muslin.
But this cross you
must wear with your dark dresses."
trying not to smile with
Dodo, you must keep
the cross yourself."
"No, no, dear,
Dorothea, putting up her hand with careless
you must; it would suit
you – in your black dress, now," said Celia,
"You MIGHT wear that."
"Not for the
world, not for the world. A cross
is the last thing I would wear as a
trinket." Dorothea shuddered slightly.
"Then you will
think it wicked in me
to wear it," said Celia, uneasily.
no," said Dorothea,
stroking her sister's cheek. "Souls
have complexions too: what will suit one will not
"But you might
like to keep it for
"No, I have
other things of mamma's –
her sandal-wood box which I am so fond of – plenty
of things. In
fact, they are all yours, dear. We need
discuss them no longer. There –
take away your property."
Celia felt a
There was a strong assumption of
in this Puritanic toleration, hardly less trying
to the blond flesh of an
unenthusiastic sister than a Puritanic
"But how can I
wear ornaments if you,
who are the elder sister, will never wear them?"
that is too much to ask,
that I should wear trinkets to keep you in
If I were to put on such a necklace as
I should feel as if I had been pirouetting. The world
would go round with me, and I should
not know how to walk."
unclasped the necklace and drawn
it off. "It
would be a little tight
for your neck; something to lie down and hang
would suit you better," she
said, with some satisfaction. The
complete unfitness of the necklace from all points
of view for Dorothea, made
Celia happier in taking it. She was
opening some ring-boxes, which disclosed a fine
emerald with diamonds, and just
then the sun passing beyond a cloud sent a bright
gleam over the table.
beautiful these gems
are!" said Dorothea, under a new current of
feeling, as sudden as the
is strange how deeply
colors seem to penetrate one, like scent I suppose
that is the reason why gems
are used as spiritual emblems in the Revelation of
St. John. They
look like fragments of heaven. I think
that emerald is more beautiful than
any of them."
"And there is
a bracelet to match
it," said Celia.
"We did not
notice this at first."
lovely," said Dorothea,
slipping the ring and bracelet on her finely
turned finger and wrist, and
holding them towards the window on a level with
her eyes. All
the while her thought was trying to
justify her delight in the colors by merging them
in her mystic religious joy.
like those, Dorothea,"
said Celia, rather falteringly, beginning to think
with wonder that her sister
showed some weakness, and also that emeralds would
suit her own complexion even
better than purple amethysts. "You
must keep that ring and bracelet – if nothing
see, these agates are very pretty and
I will keep these – this ring and
bracelet," said Dorothea. Then,
letting her hand fall on the table, she
said in another tone – "Yet what miserable men
find such things, and work
at them, and sell them!" She paused again, and
Celia thought that her
sister was going to renounce the ornaments, as in
consistency she ought to do.
"Yes, dear, I
will keep these,"
said Dorothea, decidedly. "But
all the rest away, and the casket."
She took up
her pencil without removing the
jewels, and still looking at them. She
thought of often having them by her, to feed her
eye at these little fountains
of pure color.
wear them in company?"
said Celia, who was watching her with real
curiosity as to what she would do.
glanced quickly at her
all her imaginative
adornment of those whom she loved, there darted
now and then a keen
discernment, which was not without a scorching
Miss Brooke ever attained perfect
meekness, it would not be for lack of inward fire.
cannot tell to what
level I may sink."
and was unhappy: she saw
that she had offended her sister, and dared not
say even anything pretty about
the gift of the ornaments which she put back into
the box and carried
too was unhappy, as she
went on with her plan-drawing, questioning the
purity of her own feeling and
speech in the scene which had ended with that
consciousness told her that she had
not been at all in the wrong: it was quite natural
and justifiable that she
should have asked that question, and she repeated
to herself that Dorothea was
inconsistent: either she should have taken her
full share of the jewels, or,
after what she had said, she should have renounced
"I am sure –
at least, I trust,"
thought Celia, "that the wearing of a necklace
will not interfere with my
I do not see that I should
be bound by Dorothea's opinions now we are going
into society, though of course
she herself ought to be bound by them.
But Dorothea is not always consistent."
mutely bending over her
tapestry, until she heard her sister calling her.
come and look at my
plan; I shall think I am a great architect, if I
have not got incompatible
stairs and fireplaces."
As Celia bent
over the paper, Dorothea put
her cheek against her sister's arm caressingly.
Celia understood the action.
Dorothea saw that she had been in the
wrong, and Celia pardoned
they could remember, there
had been a mixture of criticism and awe in the
attitude of Celia's mind towards
her elder sister.
The younger had always
worn a yoke; but is there any yoked creature
without its private opinions?
"`Dime; no ves aquel caballero que hacia nosotros viene sobre un caballo rucio rodado que trae puesto en la cabeza un yelmo de oro?' `Lo que veo y columbro,' respondio Sancho, `no es sino un hombre sobre un as no pardo como el mio, que trae sobre la cabeza una cosa que relumbra.' `Pues ese es el yelmo de Mambrino,' dijo Don Quijote."
not yon cavalier who
cometh toward us on a dapple-gray steed, and
weareth a golden helmet?' `What I
see,' answered Sancho, `is nothing but a man on a
gray ass like my own, who
carries something shiny on his head.' `Just so,'
answered Don Quixote: `and
that resplendent object is the helmet of
Davy?" said Mr.
Brooke, over the soup, in his easy smiling way,
taking up Sir James Chettam's
remark that he was studying Davy's Agricultural
now, Sir Humphry Davy; I dined
with him years ago at Cartwright's, and Wordsworth
was there too – the poet
Wordsworth, you know. Now
I was at Cambridge
when Wordsworth was there, and I never met him –
and I dined with him twenty years
afterwards at Cartwright's. There's an oddity in
But Davy was there: he was a poet too. Or, as I
may say, Wordsworth was poet one,
and Davy was poet two. That was
every sense, you know."
a little more uneasy than
the beginning of dinner, the
party being small and the room still, these motes
from the mass of a
magistrate's mind fell too noticeably.
She wondered how a man like Mr. Casaubon
would support such
manners, she thought,
were very dignified; the set of his iron-gray hair
and his deep eye-sockets made
him resemble the portrait of Locke. He
had the spare form and the pale complexion which
became a student; as different
as possible from the blooming Englishman of the
red-whiskered type represented
by Sir James Chettam.
"I am reading
Chemistry," said this excellent baronet, "because
I am going to take
one of the farms into my own hands, and see if
something cannot be done in
setting a good pattern of farming among my
you approve of that, Miss Brooke?"
interposed Mr. Brooke, "going into electrifying
your land and that kind of
thing, and making a parlor of your cow-house. It
won't do. I
went into science a great deal myself at
one time; but I saw it would not do. It
leads to everything; you can let nothing alone.
No, no – see that your tenants don't sell
their straw, and that kind of
thing; and give them draining-tiles, you know.
But your fancy farming will not do – the
most expensive sort of whistle
you can buy: you may as well keep a pack of
is better to spend money in finding out how men
can make the most of the land
which supports them all, than in keeping dogs and
horses only to gallop over
is not a sin to make yourself
poor in performing experiments for the good of
She spoke with
more energy than is expected
of so young a lady, but Sir James had appealed to
was accustomed to do so, and she had often
thought that she could urge him to many good
actions when he was her brother-in-law.
turned his eyes very markedly
on Dorothea while she was speaking, and seemed to
observe her newly.
political economy, you know," said Mr. Brooke,
smiling towards Mr.
remember when we were
all reading Adam Smith. THERE is
took in all the new ideas at one
time – human perfectibility, now. But
some say, history moves in circles; and that may
be very well argued; I have
argued it myself.
The fact is, human
reason may carry you a little too far – over the
hedge, in fact.
It carried me a good way at one time; but I
saw it would not do.
I pulled up; I
pulled up in time.
But not too
have always been in favor of a
little theory: we must have Thought; else we shall
be landed back in the dark
talking of books, there is
Southey's `Peninsular War.' I am reading that of a
"No" said Mr.
keeping pace with Mr. Brooke's impetuous reason,
and thinking of the book
have little leisure for
such literature just now. I have
using up my eyesight on old characters lately; the
fact is, I want a reader for
my evenings; but I am fastidious in voices, and I
cannot endure listening to an
It is a misfortune, in
some senses: I feed too much on the inward
sources; I live too much with the
mind is something like the
ghost of an ancient, wandering about the world and
trying mentally to construct
it as it used to be, in spite of ruin and
But I find it necessary to use the utmost
caution about my eyesight."
This was the
first time that Mr. Casaubon
had spoken at any length. He
himself with precision, as if he had been called
upon to make a public
statement; and the balanced sing-song neatness of
his speech, occasionally
corresponded to by a movement of his head, was the
more conspicuous from its
contrast with good Mr. Brooke's scrappy
Dorothea said to herself that Mr. Casaubon
was the most interesting man she had ever seen,
not excepting even Monsieur
Liret, the Vaudois clergyman who had given
conferences on the history of the
reconstruct a past world,
doubtless with a view to the highest purposes of
truth – what a work to be in
any way present at, to assist in, though only as a
This elevating thought lifted her above her
annoyance at being twitted with her ignorance of
political economy, that
never-explained science which was thrust as an
extinguisher over all her
"But you are
fond of riding, Miss
Brooke," Sir James presently took an opportunity
of saying. "I
should have thought you would enter a
little into the pleasures of hunting. I
wish you would let me send over a chestnut horse
for you to try.
It has been trained for a lady. I saw
you on Saturday cantering over the hill
on a nag not worthy of you. My groom
shall bring Corydon for you every day, if you will
only mention the time."
you are very good.
I mean to give up riding. I shall
not ride any more," said
Dorothea, urged to this brusque resolution by a
little annoyance that Sir James
would be soliciting her attention when she wanted
to give it all to Mr.
"No, that is
too hard," said Sir
James, in a tone of reproach that showed strong
sister is given to
self-mortification, is she not?" he continued,
turning to Celia, who sat
at his right hand.
"I think she
is," said Celia,
feeling afraid lest she should say something that
would not please her sister,
and blushing as prettily as possible above her
likes giving up."
"If that were
true, Celia, my
giving-up would be self-indulgence, not
self-mortification. But there may be
good reasons for choosing not to do what is very
Mr. Brooke was
speaking at the same time,
but it was evident that Mr. Casaubon was observing
Dorothea, and she was aware
said Sir James.
"You give up from some high, generous
I did not say that of myself," answered
Unlike Celia, she
rarely blushed, and only from high delight or
this moment she felt angry with the
perverse Sir James.
Why did he not pay
attention to Celia, and leave her to listen to Mr.
Casaubon? – if that learned
man would only talk, instead of allowing himself
to be talked to by Mr. Brooke,
who was just then informing him that the
Reformation either meant something or
it did not, that he himself was a Protestant to
the core, but that Catholicism
was a fact; and as to refusing an acre of your
ground for a Romanist chapel,
all men needed the bridle of religion, which,
properly speaking, was the dread
of a Hereafter.
"I made a
great study of theology at
one time," said Mr. Brooke, as if to explain the
know something of
I knew Wilberforce in his
best days. Do
Wilberforce was perhaps not
enough of a thinker; but if I went into
Parliament, as I have been asked to do,
I should sit on the independent bench, as
Wilberforce did, and work at
bowed, and observed that it
was a wide field.
Mr. Brooke, with an
easy smile, "but I have documents.
I began a long while ago to collect
want arranging, but when a question has
struck me, I have written to somebody and got an
have documents at my back. But now,
how do you arrange your
pigeon-holes partly," said
Mr. Casaubon, with rather a startled air of
pigeon-holes will not do. I have
tried pigeon-holes, but everything
gets mixed in pigeon-holes: I never know whether a
paper is in A or Z."
"I wish you
would let me sort your
papers for you, uncle," said Dorothea.
"I would letter them all, and then make a
list of subjects under
gravely smiled approval, and
said to Mr. Brooke, "You have an excellent
secretary at hand, you
"No, no," said
shaking his head; "I cannot let young ladies
meddle with my
ladies are too flighty."
Casaubon would think that her uncle had
some special reason for delivering this opinion,
whereas the remark lay in his
mind as lightly as the broken wing of an insect
among all the other fragments
there, and a chance current had sent it alighting
When the two
girls were in the drawing-room
alone, Celia said –
"How very ugly
Mr. Casaubon is!"
"Celia! He is
one of the most distinguished-looking
men I ever saw.
He is remarkably like
the portrait of Locke. He has
those two white moles with
hairs on them?"
"Oh, I dare
say! when people of a
certain sort looked at him," said Dorothea,
walking away a little.
is so sallow."
suppose you admire a man with the
complexion of a cochon de lait."
exclaimed Celia, looking
after her in surprise. "I never
heard you make such a comparison before."
"Why should I
make it before the
It is a good comparison:
the match is perfect."
was clearly forgetting herself,
and Celia thought so.
"I wonder you
"It is so
painful in you, Celia, that
you will look at human beings as if they were
merely animals with a toilet, and
never see the great soul in a man's face."
Casaubon a great soul?"
Celia was not without a touch of naive malice.
believe he has," said
Dorothea, with the full voice of decision.
"Everything I see in him corresponds to his
pamphlet on Biblical
"He talks very
"There is no
one for him to talk
quite despises Sir James Chettam; I believe she
would not accept him."
Celia felt that this was a pity. She had
never been deceived as to the object of the
Sometimes, indeed, she had reflected that
Dodo would perhaps not make a husband happy who
had not her way of looking at
things; and stifled in the depths of her heart was
the feeling that her sister
was too religious for family comfort.
Notions and scruples were like spilt
needles, making one afraid of
treading, or sitting down, or even eating.
Brooke was at the tea-table, Sir
James came to sit down by her, not having felt her
mode of answering him at all
should he? He
thought it probable that Miss Brooke liked
him, and manners must be very marked indeed before
they cease to be interpreted
by preconceptions either confident or distrustful. She was
thoroughly charming to him, but of
course he theorized a little about his attachment. He was
made of excellent human dough, and had
the rare merit of knowing that his talents, even
if let loose, would not set
the smallest stream in the county on fire: hence
he liked the prospect of a
wife to whom he could say, "What shall we do?"
about this or that;
who could help her husband out with reasons, and
would also have the property
qualification for doing so. As to
excessive religiousness alleged against Miss
Brooke, he had a very indefinite
notion of what it consisted in, and thought that
it would die out with
short, he felt himself to
be in love in the right place, and was ready to
endure a great deal of
predominance, which, after all, a man could always
put down when he liked. Sir
James had no idea that he should ever
like to put down the predominance of this handsome
girl, in whose cleverness he
man's mind – what there is of it – has
always the advantage of being masculine, – as the
smallest birch-tree is of a
higher kind than the most soaring palm, – and even
his ignorance is of a
Sir James might not
have originated this estimate; but a kind
Providence furnishes the limpest
personality with a little gunk or starch in the
form of tradition.
"Let me hope
that you will rescind
that resolution about the horse, Miss Brooke,"
said the persevering
assure you, riding is
the most healthy of exercises."
"I am aware of
"I think it would
do Celia good – if she would take to it."
"But you are
such a perfect
"Excuse me; I
have had very little
practice, and I should be easily thrown."
"Then that is
a reason for more
lady ought to be a
perfect horsewoman, that she may accompany her
"You see how
widely we differ, Sir
have made up my mind that I
ought not to be a perfect horsewoman, and so I
should never correspond to your
pattern of a lady." Dorothea looked straight
before her, and spoke with
cold brusquerie, very much with the air of a
handsome boy, in amusing contrast
with the solicitous amiability of her admirer.
"I should like
to know your reasons
for this cruel resolution. It is
possible that you should think horsemanship
"It is quite
possible that I should
think it wrong for me."
said Sir James, in a
tender tone of remonstrance.
had come up to the table,
teacup in hand, and was listening.
"We must not
inquire too curiously
into motives," he interposed, in his measured way. "Miss
Brooke knows that they are apt to
become feeble in the utterance: the aroma is mixed
with the grosser air. We must
keep the germinating grain away from
colored with pleasure, and looked
up gratefully to the speaker. Here was
man who could understand the higher inward life,
and with whom there could be
some spiritual communion; nay, who could
illuminate principle with the widest
knowledge a man whose learning almost amounted to
a proof of whatever he
inferences may seem large; but
really life could never have gone on at any period
but for this liberal
allowance of conclusions, which has facilitated
marriage under the difficulties
Has any one ever
pinched into its pilulous smallness the cobweb of
said good Sir
Brooke shall not be
urged to tell reasons she would rather be silent
am sure her reasons would do her honor."
He was not in
the least jealous of the
interest with which Dorothea had looked up at Mr.
Casaubon: it never occurred
to him that a girl to whom he was meditating an
offer of marriage could care
for a dried bookworm towards fifty, except,
indeed, in a religious sort of way,
as for a clergyman of some distinction.
Miss Brooke had become
engaged in a conversation with Mr. Casaubon about
the Vaudois clergy, Sir James
betook himself to Celia, and talked to her about
her sister; spoke of a house
in town, and asked whether Miss Brooke disliked
from her sister, Celia talked quite
easily, and Sir James said to himself that the
second Miss Brooke was certainly
very agreeable as well as pretty, though not, as
some people pretended, more
clever and sensible than the elder sister.
He felt that he had chosen the one who was
in all respects the superior;
and a man naturally likes to look forward to
having the best.
He would be the very Mawworm of bachelors
pretended not to expect it.
"Say, goddess, what ensued, when Raphael,
The affable archangel . . . Eve
The story heard attentive, and was filled
With admiration, and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange."
Paradise Lost, B. vii.
If it had
really occurred to Mr. Casaubon
to think of Miss Brooke as a suitable wife for
him, the reasons that might
induce her to accept him were already planted in
her mind, and by the evening
of the next day the reasons had budded and
they had had a long conversation in the
morning, while Celia, who did not like the company
of Mr. Casaubon's moles and
sallowness, had escaped to the vicarage to play
with the curate's ill-shod but
this time had looked deep into
the ungauged reservoir of Mr. Casaubon's mind,
seeing reflected there in vague
labyrinthine extension every quality she herself
brought; had opened much of
her own experience to him, and had understood from
him the scope of his great
work, also of attractively labyrinthine extent.
For he had been as instructive as Milton's
archangel;" and with something of the archangelic
manner he told her how
he had undertaken to show (what indeed had been
attempted before, but not with
that thoroughness, justice of comparison, and
effectiveness of arrangement at
which Mr. Casaubon aimed) that all the mythical
systems or erratic mythical
fragments in the world were corruptions of a
tradition originally revealed. Having
once mastered the true position and
taken a firm footing there, the vast field of
mythical constructions became
intelligible, nay, luminous with the reflected
light of correspondences. But to
gather in this great harvest of truth
was no light or speedy work. His
already made a formidable range of volumes, but
the crowning task would be to
condense these voluminous still-accumulating
results and bring them, like the
earlier vintage of Hippocratic books, to fit a
In explaining this to Dorothea, Mr.
expressed himself nearly as he would have done to
a fellow-student, for he had
not two styles of talking at command: it is true
that when he used a Greek or
Latin phrase he always gave the English with
scrupulous care, but he would
probably have done this in any case. A
learned provincial clergyman is accustomed to
think of his acquaintances as of
"lords, knyghtes, and other noble and worthi men,
that conne Latyn but
altogether captivated by the
wide embrace of this conception. Here
was something beyond the shallows of ladies'
school literature: here was a
living Bossuet, whose work would reconcile
complete knowledge with devoted
piety; here was a modern Augustine who united the
glories of doctor and saint.
seemed no less clearly marked
than the learning, for when Dorothea was impelled
to open her mind on certain
themes which she could speak of to no one whom she
had before seen at Tipton,
especially on the secondary importance of
ecclesiastical forms and articles of
belief compared with that spiritual religion, that
submergence of self in
communion with Divine perfection which seemed to
her to be expressed in the
best Christian books of widely distant ages, she
found in Mr. Casaubon a
listener who understood her at once, who could
assure her of his own agreement
with that view when duly tempered with wise
conformity, and could mention
historical examples before unknown to her.
with me," said
Dorothea to herself, "or rather, he thinks a whole
world of which my
thought is but a poor twopenny mirror. And his
feelings too, his whole experience –
what a lake compared with my little pool!"
argued from words and
dispositions not less unhesitatingly than other
young ladies of her age. Signs
are small measurable things, but
interpretations are illimitable, and in girls of
sweet, ardent nature, every
sign is apt to conjure up wonder, hope, belief,
vast as a sky, and colored by a
diffused thimbleful of matter in the shape of
are not always too grossly deceived; for
Sinbad himself may have fallen by good-luck on a
true description, and wrong
reasoning sometimes lands poor mortals in right
conclusions: starting a long
way off the true point, and proceeding by loops
and zigzags, we now and then
arrive just where we ought to be.
Because Miss Brooke was hasty in her trust,
it is not therefore clear
that Mr. Casaubon was unworthy of it.
He stayed a
little longer than he had
intended, on a slight pressure of invitation from
Mr. Brooke, who offered no
bait except his own documents on machine-breaking
and rick-burning. Mr.
Casaubon was called into the library to look at
these in a heap, while his host
picked up first one and then the other to read
aloud from in a skipping and
uncertain way, passing from one unfinished passage
to another with a "Yes,
now, but here!" and finally pushing them all aside
to open the journal of
his youthful Continental travels.
"Look here –
here is all about
the ruins of Rhamnus –
you are a great Grecian, now. I don't
know whether you have given much study to the
spent no end of time in making out these
things – Helicon, now. Here,
now! – `We
started the next morning for Parnassus, the
double-peaked Parnassus.' All this
volume is about Greece, you know," Mr. Brooke
wound up, rubbing his thumb
transversely along the edges of the leaves as he
held the book forward.
made a dignified though
somewhat sad audience; bowed in the right place,
and avoided looking at
anything documentary as far as possible, without
showing disregard or
impatience; mindful that this desultoriness was
associated with the
institutions of the country, and that the man who
took him on this severe
mental scamper was not only an amiable host, but a
landholder and custos
rotulorum. Was his endurance aided also by the
reflection that Mr. Brooke was
the uncle of Dorothea?
seemed more and more bent on
making her talk to him, on drawing her out, as
Celia remarked to herself; and
in looking at her his face was often lit up by a
smile like pale wintry
he left the next
morning, while taking a pleasant walk with Miss
Brooke along the gravelled
terrace, he had mentioned to her that he felt the
disadvantage of loneliness,
the need of that cheerful companionship with which
the presence of youth can
lighten or vary the serious toils of maturity.
And he delivered this statement with as
much careful precision as if he
had been a diplomatic envoy whose words would be
attended with results. Indeed,
Mr. Casaubon was not used to expect
that he should have to repeat or revise his
communications of a practical or
The inclinations which he
had deliberately stated on the 2d of October he
would think it enough to refer
to by the mention of that date; judging by the
standard of his own memory,
which was a volume where a vide supra could serve
instead of repetitions, and
not the ordinary long-used blotting-book which
only tells of forgotten
in this case Mr. Casaubon's
confidence was not likely to be falsified, for
Dorothea heard and retained what
he said with the eager interest of a fresh young
nature to which every variety
in experience is an epoch.
It was three
o'clock in the beautiful
breezy autumn day when Mr. Casaubon drove off to
his Rectory at Lowick, only
five miles from Tipton; and Dorothea, who had on
her bonnet and shawl, hurried
along the shrubbery and across the park that she
might wander through the
bordering wood with no other visible companionship
than that of Monk, the Great
St. Bernard dog, who always took care of the young
ladies in their walks. There
had risen before her the girl's vision
of a possible future for herself to which she
looked forward with trembling
hope, and she wanted to wander on in that
visionary future without
She walked briskly in the
brisk air, the color rose in her cheeks, and her
straw bonnet (which our
contemporaries might look at with conjectural
curiosity as at an obsolete form
of basket) fell a little backward. She
would perhaps be hardly characterized enough if it
were omitted that she wore
her brown hair flatly braided and coiled behind so
as to expose the outline of
her head in a daring manner at a time when public
feeling required the
meagreness of nature to be dissimulated by tall
barricades of frizzed curls and
bows, never surpassed by any great race except the
was a trait of Miss Brooke's
there was nothing of an
ascetic's expression in her bright full eyes, as
she looked before her, not
consciously seeing, but absorbing into the
intensity of her mood, the solemn
glory of the afternoon with its long swathes of
light between the far-off rows
of limes, whose shadows touched each other.
young or old (that is, all
people in those ante-reform times), would have
thought her an interesting
object if they had referred the glow in her eyes
and cheeks to the newly
awakened ordinary images of young love: the
illusions of Chloe about Strephon
have been sufficiently consecrated in poetry, as
the pathetic loveliness of all
spontaneous trust ought to be. Miss
Pippin adoring young Pumpkin, and dreaming along
endless vistas of unwearying
companionship, was a little drama which never
tired our fathers and mothers,
and had been put into all costumes. Let
but Pumpkin have a figure which would sustain the
disadvantages of the
shortwaisted swallow-tail, and everybody felt it
not only natural but necessary
to the perfection of womanhood, that a sweet girl
should be at once convinced
of his virtue, his exceptional ability, and above
all, his perfect
perhaps no persons then
living – certainly none in the neighborhood of
Tipton – would have had a
sympathetic understanding for the dreams of a girl
whose notions about marriage
took their color entirely from an exalted
enthusiasm about the ends of life, an
enthusiasm which was lit chiefly by its own fire,
and included neither the
niceties of the trousseau, the pattern of plate,
nor even the honors and sweet
joys of the blooming matron.
It had now
entered Dorothea's mind that Mr.
Casaubon might wish to make her his wife, and the
idea that he would do so
touched her with a sort of reverential gratitude. How good
of him – nay, it would be almost as
if a winged messenger had suddenly stood beside
her path and held out his hand
For a long while she had
been oppressed by the indefiniteness which hung in
her mind, like a thick
summer haze, over all her desire to made her life
What could she do, what ought she to do? –
she, hardly more than a budding woman, but yet
with an active conscience and a
great mental need, not to be satisfied by a
girlish instruction comparable to
the nibblings and judgments of a discursive mouse. With
some endowment of stupidity and conceit,
she might have thought that a Christian young lady
of fortune should find her
ideal of life in village charities, patronage of
the humbler clergy, the
perusal of "Female Scripture Characters,"
unfolding the private
experience of Sara under the Old Dispensation, and
Dorcas under the New, and
the care of her soul over her embroidery in her
own boudoir – with a background
of prospective marriage to a man who, if less
strict than herself, as being
involved in affairs religiously inexplicable,
might be prayed for and
contentment poor Dorothea was shut out.
The intensity of her religious disposition,
the coercion it exercised
over her life, was but one aspect of a nature
altogether ardent, theoretic, and
intellectually consequent: and with such a nature
struggling in the bands of a
narrow teaching, hemmed in by a social life which
seemed nothing but a
labyrinth of petty courses, a walled-in maze of
small paths that led no
whither, the outcome was sure to strike others as
at once exaggeration and
The thing which seemed to
her best, she wanted to justify by the completest
knowledge; and not to live in
a pretended admission of rules which were never
acted on. Into
this soul-hunger as yet all her youthful
passion was poured; the union which attracted her
was one that would deliver
her from her girlish subjection to her own
ignorance, and give her the freedom
of voluntary submission to a guide who would take
her along the grandest path.
learn everything then,"
she said to herself, still walking quickly along
the bridle road through the
would be my duty to study
that I might help him the better in his great
would be nothing trivial about our
things with us would
mean the greatest things. It would
like marrying Pascal. I should
see the truth by the same light as great men have
seen it by. And
then I should know what to do, when I got
older: I should see how it was possible to lead a
grand life here – now – in
don't feel sure about doing
good in any way now: everything seems like going
on a mission to a people whose
language I don't know; – unless it were building
good cottages – there can be
no doubt about that.
Oh, I hope I should
be able to get the people well housed in Lowick! I will
draw plenty of plans while I have
checked herself suddenly with
self-rebuke for the presumptuous way in which she
was reckoning on uncertain
events, but she was spared any inward effort to
change the direction of her
thoughts by the appearance of a cantering horseman
round a turning of the
well-groomed chestnut horse
and two beautiful setters could leave no doubt
that the rider was Sir James
discerned Dorothea, jumped
off his horse at once, and, having delivered it to
his groom, advanced towards
her with something white on his arm, at which the
two setters were barking in
an excited manner.
delightful to meet you, Miss
Brooke," he said, raising his hat and showing his
sleekly waving blond
has hastened the pleasure
I was looking forward to."
was annoyed at the
This amiable baronet,
really a suitable husband for Celia, exaggerated
the necessity of making
himself agreeable to the elder sister.
Even a prospective brother-in-law may be an
oppression if he will always
be presupposing too good an understanding with
you, and agreeing with you even
when you contradict him. The
that he had made the mistake of paying his
addresses to herself could not take
shape: all her mental activity was used up in
persuasions of another kind. But he
was positively obtrusive at this
moment, and his dimpled hands were quite
Her roused temper made her color deeply, as
she returned his greeting with some haughtiness.
interpreted the heightened color
in the way most gratifying to himself, and thought
he never saw Miss Brooke
looking so handsome.
brought a little
petitioner," he said, "or rather, I have brought
him to see if he
will be approved before his petition is offered."
He showed the white
object under his arm, which was a tiny Maltese
puppy, one of nature's most
"It is painful
to me to see these
creatures that are bred merely as pets," said
Dorothea, whose opinion was
forming itself that very moment (as opinions will)
under the heat of
said Sir James, as
they walked forward.
"I believe all
the petting that is
given them does not make them happy.
They are too helpless: their lives are too
weasel or a mouse that gets its own living
is more interesting.
I like to think
that the animals about us have souls something
like our own, and either carry
on their own little affairs or can be companions
to us, like Monk here. Those
creatures are parasitic."
"I am so glad
I know that you do not
like them," said good Sir James.
"I should never keep them for myself, but
ladies usually are fond
of these Maltese dogs. Here,
this dog, will you?"
objectionable puppy, whose nose and
eyes were equally black and expressive, was thus
got rid of, since Miss Brooke
decided that it had better not have been born.
But she felt it necessary to explain.
"You must not
judge of Celia's feeling
from mine. I
think she likes these small
had a tiny terrier once, which
she was very fond of. It made
unhappy, because I was afraid of treading on it. I am
"You have your
own opinion about
everything, Miss Brooke, and it is always a good
was possible to such stupid
"Do you know,
I envy you that,"
Sir James said, as they continued walking at the
rather brisk pace set by
"I don't quite
understand what you
"Your power of
can form an opinion of
know when I like people. But
about other matters, do you know, I have
often a difficulty in deciding. One
hears very sensible things said on opposite
"Or that seem
we don't always discriminate between
sense and nonsense."
that she was rather rude.
said Sir James.
"But you seem to have the power of
contrary, I am often unable to
that is from ignorance. The
right conclusion is there all the same, though
I am unable to see it."
"I think there
are few who would see
it more readily.
Do you know, Lovegood
was telling me yesterday that you had the best
notion in the world of a plan
for cottages – quite wonderful for a young lady,
he thought. You
had a real GENUS, to use his
said you wanted Mr.
Brooke to build a new set of cottages, but he
seemed to think it hardly
probable that your uncle would consent.
Do you know, that is one of the things I
wish to do – I mean, on my own
should be so glad to carry out
that plan of yours, if you would let me see it.
Of course, it is sinking money; that is why
people object to it.
Laborers can never pay rent to make it
after all, it is worth
yes, indeed," said
Dorothea, energetically, forgetting her previous
"I think we deserve to be beaten out of
our beautiful houses with a scourge of small cords
– all of us who let tenants
live in such sties as we see round us.
Life in cottages might be happier than
ours, if they were real houses
fit for human beings from whom we expect duties
"Will you show
me your plan?"
dare say it is very faulty. But I
have been examining all the plans for
cottages in Loudon's book, and picked out what
seem the best things. Oh what
a happiness it would be to set the
pattern about here!
I think instead of
Lazarus at the gate, we should put the pigsty
cottages outside the
in the best temper now. Sir
James, as brother in-law, building model
cottages on his estate, and then, perhaps, others
being built at Lowick, and
more and more elsewhere in imitation – it would be
as if the spirit of Oberlin
had passed over the parishes to make the life of
Sir James saw
all the plans, and took one
away to consult upon with Lovegood. He
also took away a complacent sense that he was
making great progress in Miss
Brooke's good opinion. The
was not offered to Celia; an omission which
Dorothea afterwards thought of with
surprise; but she blamed herself for it.
She had been engrossing Sir James.
After all, it was a relief that there was
no puppy to tread upon.
present while the plans were
being examined, and observed Sir James's illusion. "He
thinks that Dodo cares about him,
and she only cares about her plans. Yet
I am not certain that she would refuse him if she
thought he would let her
manage everything and carry out all her notions. And how
very uncomfortable Sir James would
cannot bear notions."
It was Celia's
private luxury to indulge in
She dared not confess it
to her sister in any direct statement, for that
would be laying herself open to
a demonstration that she was somehow or other at
war with all goodness. But on
safe opportunities, she had an
indirect mode of making her negative wisdom tell
upon Dorothea, and calling her
down from her rhapsodic mood by reminding her that
people were staring, not listening. Celia
was not impulsive: what she had to say
could wait, and came from her always with the same
people talked with energy
and emphasis she watched their faces and features
never could understand how well-bred
persons consented to sing and open their mouths in
the ridiculous manner
requisite for that vocal exercise.
It was not
many days before Mr. Casaubon
paid a morning visit, on which he was invited
again for the following week to
dine and stay the night. Thus
had three more conversations with him, and was
convinced that her first
impressions had been just. He was
she had at first imagined him to be: almost
everything he had said seemed like
a specimen from a mine, or the inscription on the
door of a museum which might
open on the treasures of past ages; and this trust
in his mental wealth was all
the deeper and more effective on her inclination
because it was now obvious
that his visits were made for her sake.
This accomplished man condescended to think
of a young girl, and take
the pains to talk to her, not with absurd
compliment, but with an appeal to her
understanding, and sometimes with instructive
delightful companionship! Mr.
Casaubon seemed even unconscious that
trivialities existed, and never handed round that
small-talk of heavy men which
is as acceptable as stale bride-cake brought forth
with an odor of
talked of what he was
interested in, or else he was silent and bowed
with sad civility.
To Dorothea this was adorable genuineness,
and religious abstinence from that artificiality
which uses up the soul in the
efforts of pretence.
For she looked as
reverently at Mr. Casaubon's religious elevation
above herself as she did at
his intellect and learning. He
to her expressions of devout feeling, and usually
with an appropriate
quotation; he allowed himself to say that he had
gone through some spiritual
conflicts in his youth; in short, Dorothea saw
that here she might reckon on
understanding, sympathy, and guidance.
On one – only one – of her favorite themes
she was disappointed. Mr.
Casaubon apparently did not care about
building cottages, and diverted the talk to the
extremely narrow accommodation
which was to be had in the dwellings of the
ancient Egyptians, as if to check a
too high standard.
After he was gone,
Dorothea dwelt with some agitation on this
indifference of his; and her mind
was much exercised with arguments drawn from the
varying conditions of climate
which modify human needs, and from the admitted
wickedness of pagan
she not urge these
arguments on Mr. Casaubon when he came again?
But further reflection told her that she
was presumptuous in demanding
his attention to such a subject; he would not
disapprove of her occupying
herself with it in leisure moments, as other women
expected to occupy
themselves with their dress and embroidery – would
not forbid it when –
Dorothea felt rather ashamed as she detected
herself in these
But her uncle had been
invited to go to Lowick to stay a couple of days:
was it reasonable to suppose
that Mr. Casaubon delighted in Mr. Brooke's
society for its own sake, either
with or without documents?
little disappointment made
her delight the more in Sir James Chettam's
readiness to set on foot the
desired improvements. He came
oftener than Mr. Casaubon, and Dorothea ceased to
find him disagreeable since
he showed himself so entirely in earnest; for he
had already entered with much
practical ability into Lovegood's estimates, and
was charmingly docile. She
proposed to build a couple of cottages,
and transfer two families from their old cabins,
which could then be pulled
down, so that new ones could be built on the old
James said "Exactly," and she
bore the word remarkably well.
these men who had so few
spontaneous ideas might be very useful members of
society under good feminine
direction, if they were fortunate in choosing
their sisters-in-law! It is
difficult to say whether there was or
was not a little wilfulness in her continuing
blind to the possibility that
another sort of choice was in question in relation
to her. But
her life was just now full of hope and
action: she was not only thinking of her plans,
but getting down learned books
from the library and reading many things hastily
(that she might be a little
less ignorant in talking to Mr. Casaubon), all the
while being visited with
conscientious questionings whether she were not
exalting these poor doings
above measure and contemplating them with that
self-satisfaction which was the
last doom of ignorance and folly.
Our deeds are fetters that we forge ourselves.
Ay, truly: but I think it is the world
seems determined to do
everything you wish," said Celia, as they were
driving home from an
inspection of the new building-site.
"He is a good
creature, and more
sensible than any one would imagine," said
"You mean that
he appears silly."
"No, no," said
recollecting herself, and laying her hand on her
sister's a moment, "but
he does not talk equally well on all subjects."
think none but disagreeable
people do," said Celia, in her usual purring way. "They
must be very dreadful to live
think! at breakfast, and always."
Kitty, you are a wonderful
creature!" She pinched Celia's chin, being in the
mood now to think her
very winning and lovely – fit hereafter to be an
eternal cherub, and if it were
not doctrinally wrong to say so, hardly more in
need of salvation than a
course people need
not be always talking well. Only one
tells the quality of their minds when they try to
"You mean that
Sir James tries and
Why do you catechise me about Sir James? It is
not the object of his life to please
can you really believe
thinks of me as a
future sister – that is all." Dorothea had never
hinted this before,
waiting, from a certain shyness on such subjects
which was mutual between the
sisters, until it should be introduced by some
Celia blushed, but said at once –
"Pray do not
make that mistake any
When Tantripp was brushing
my hair the other day, she said that Sir James's
man knew from Mrs.
Cadwallader's maid that Sir James was to marry the
eldest Miss Brooke."
"How can you
let Tantripp talk such
gossip to you, Celia?" said Dorothea, indignantly,
not the less angry
because details asleep in her memory were now
awakened to confirm the unwelcome
must have asked
It is degrading."
"I see no harm
at all in Tantripp's
talking to me.
It is better to hear what
people say. You
see what mistakes you
make by taking up notions. I am
sure that Sir James means to make you an offer;
and he believes that you will
accept him, especially since you have been so
pleased with him about the
uncle too – I know he expects
one can see that Sir James is
very much in love with you."
was so strong and painful in
Dorothea's mind that the tears welled up and
All her dear plans were embittered, and she
thought with disgust of Sir James's conceiving
that she recognized him as her
was vexation too on account
"How could he
expect it?" she
burst forth in her most impetuous manner.
"I have never agreed with him about
anything but the cottages: I
was barely polite to him before."
"But you have
been so pleased with him
since then; he has begun to feel quite sure that
you are fond of him."
"Fond of him,
can you choose such odious
expressions?" said Dorothea, passionately.
Dorothea, I suppose it would
be right for you to be fond of a man whom you
accepted for a husband."
offensive to me to say that Sir
James could think I was fond of him.
Besides, it is not the right word for the
feeling I must have towards
the man I would accept as a husband."
"Well, I am
sorry for Sir James.
I thought it right to tell you, because you
went on as you always do, never looking just where
you are, and treading in the
You always see what nobody
else sees; it is impossible to satisfy you; yet
you never see what is quite
your way, Dodo."
Something certainly gave Celia unusual courage;
and she was not sparing the sister
of whom she was occasionally in awe. Who
can tell what just criticisms Murr the Cat may be
passing on us beings of wider
"It is very
Dorothea, feeling scourged. "I can
have no more to do with the cottages. I
must be uncivil to him. I must
I will have nothing to do with them. It
is very painful." Her eyes filled again with
about it. You
know he is going away for a day or two to
see his sister.
There will be nobody
besides Lovegood." Celia could not help relenting. "Poor
Dodo," she went on, in an
"It is very hard:
it is your favorite FAD to draw plans."
"FAD to draw
you think I only care about my
fellow-creatures' houses in that childish way?
I may well make mistakes. How can
one ever do anything nobly Christian, living among
people with such petty
No more was
said; Dorothea was too much
jarred to recover her temper and behave so as to
show that she admitted any
error in herself.
She was disposed
rather to accuse the intolerable narrowness and
the purblind conscience of the
society around her: and Celia was no longer the
eternal cherub, but a thorn in
her spirit, a pink-and-white nullifidian, worse
than any discouraging presence
in the "Pilgrim's Progress." The FAD of drawing
was life worth – what great faith was
possible when the whole effect of one's actions
could be withered up into such
parched rubbish as that? When she
out of the carriage, her cheeks were pale and her
She was an image of sorrow, and her uncle
met her in the hall would have been alarmed, if
Celia had not been close to her
looking so pretty and composed, that he at once
concluded Dorothea's tears to
have their origin in her excessive religiousness. He had
returned, during their absence, from a
journey to the county town, about a petition for
the pardon of some criminal.
dears," he said,
kindly, as they went up to kiss him, "I hope
nothing disagreeable has
happened while I have been away."
said Celia, "we
have been to Freshitt to look at the cottages.
We thought you would have been at home to
"I came by
Lowick to lunch – you
didn't know I came by Lowick. And I
brought a couple of pamphlets for you, Dorothea –
in the library, you know;
they lie on the table in the library."
It seemed as
if an electric stream went
through Dorothea, thrilling her from despair into
They were pamphlets about the early
oppression of Celia, Tantripp,
and Sir James was shaken off, and she walked
straight to the library. Celia
went up-stairs. Mr. Brooke was detained
by a message, but when he re-entered the library,
he found Dorothea seated and
already deep in one of the pamphlets which had
some marginal manuscript of Mr.
Casaubon's, – taking it in as eagerly as she might
have taken in the scent of a
fresh bouquet after a dry, hot, dreary walk.
getting away from Tipton and
Freshitt, and her own sad liability to tread in
the wrong places on her way to
the New Jerusalem.
Mr. Brooke sat
down in his arm-chair,
stretched his legs towards the wood-fire, which
had fallen into a wondrous mass
of glowing dice between the dogs, and rubbed his
hands gently, looking very
mildly towards Dorothea, but with a neutral
leisurely air, as if he had nothing
particular to say.
Dorothea closed her
pamphlet, as soon as she was aware of her uncle's
presence, and rose as if to
she would have been
interested about her uncle's merciful errand on
behalf of the criminal, but her
late agitation had made her absent-minded.
"I came back
by Lowick, you
know," said Mr. Brooke, not as if with any
intention to arrest her
departure, but apparently from his usual tendency
to say what he had said
fundamental principle of
human speech was markedly exhibited in Mr. Brooke. "I
lunched there and saw Casaubon's
library, and that kind of thing. There's
a sharp air, driving. Won't
down, my dear?
You look cold."
quite inclined to accept the
times, when her uncle's
easy way of taking things did not happen to be
exasperating, it was rather
threw off her mantle and
bonnet, and sat down opposite to him, enjoying the
glow, but lifting up her
beautiful hands for a screen. They
not thin hands, or small hands; but powerful,
feminine, maternal hands. She
seemed to be holding them up in
propitiation for her passionate desire to know and
to think, which in the
unfriendly mediums of Tipton and Freshitt had
issued in crying and red eyelids.
herself now of the condemned
news have you brought
about the sheep-stealer, uncle?"
Bunch? – well, it seems we
can't get him off – he is to be hanged."
brow took an expression of
reprobation and pity.
know," said Mr.
Brooke, with a quiet nod. "Poor
Romilly! he would have helped us. I knew
is a little buried in books,
you know, Casaubon is."
"When a man
has great studies and is
writing a great work, he must of course give up
seeing much of the world. How can
he go about making
"That's true. But a
man mopes, you know.
I have always been a bachelor too, but I
that sort of disposition that I never moped; it
was my way to go about
everywhere and take in everything. I
never moped: but I can see that Casaubon does, you
wants a companion – a companion, you
"It would be a
great honor to any one
to be his companion," said Dorothea,
"You like him,
eh?" said Mr.
Brooke, without showing any surprise, or other
now, I've known Casaubon ten
years, ever since he came to Lowick. But
I never got anything out of him – any ideas, you
he is a tiptop man and may be a
bishop – that kind of thing, you know, if Peel
stays in. And
he has a very high opinion of you, my
"The fact is,
he has a very high
opinion indeed of you. And he
uncommonly well – does Casaubon. He has
deferred to me, you not being of age. In
short, I have promised to speak to you, though I
told him I thought there was
not much chance.
I was bound to tell him
said, my niece is very young,
and that kind of thing. But I
think it necessary to go into everything.
However, the long and the short of it is,
that he has asked my
permission to make you an offer of marriage – of
marriage, you know," said
Mr. Brooke, with his explanatory nod.
"I thought it better to tell you, my dear."
No one could
have detected any anxiety in
Mr. Brooke's manner, but he did really wish to
know something of his niece's
mind, that, if there were any need for advice, he
might give it in time. What
feeling he, as a magistrate who had
taken in so many ideas, could make room for, was
Since Dorothea did not speak immediately,
repeated, "I thought it better to tell you, my
Dorothea, in a clear unwavering tone.
"I am very grateful to Mr. Casaubon. If he
makes me an offer, I shall accept him. I admire
and honor him more than any man I
paused a little, and then said
in a lingering low tone, "Ah? . . .
He is a good match in some
now, Chettam is a good
our land lies together. I shall
never interfere against your wishes,
my dear. People
should have their own
way in marriage, and that sort of thing – up to a
certain point, you know. I have
always said that, up to a certain
wish you to marry well; and I
have good reason to believe that Chettam wishes to
marry you. I
mention it, you know."
impossible that I should ever
marry Sir James Chettam," said Dorothea.
"If he thinks of marrying me, he has made a
"That is it,
you see. One
I should have thought Chettam was just the
sort of man a woman would like, now."
"Pray do not
mention him in that light
again, uncle," said Dorothea, feeling some of her
late irritation revive.
wondered, and felt that women
were an inexhaustible subject of study, since even
he at his age was not in a
perfect state of scientific prediction about them. Here was
a fellow like Chettam with no chance
There is no hurry – I mean for you. It's
true, every year will tell upon
is over five-and-forty, you
should say a good
seven-and-twenty years older than you.
To be sure, – if you like learning and
standing, and that sort of thing,
we can't have everything. And his
is good – he has a handsome property independent
of the Church – his income is
he is not young, and I must
not conceal from you, my dear, that I think his
health is not over-strong. I
know nothing else against him."
"I should not
wish to have a husband
very near my own age," said Dorothea, with grave
should wish to have a husband who was
above me in judgment and in all knowledge."
repeated his subdued, "Ah?
– I thought you had more of your own opinion than
most girls. I
thought you liked your own opinion – liked
it, you know."
imagine myself living without
some opinions, but I should wish to have good
reasons for them, and a wise man
could help me to see which opinions had the best
foundation, and would help me
to live according to them."
"Very true. You
couldn't put the thing better – couldn't
put it better, beforehand, you know. But
there are oddities in things," continued Mr.
Brooke, whose conscience was
really roused to do the best he could for his
niece on this occasion. "Life
isn't cast in a mould – not cut
out by rule and line, and that sort of thing.
I never married myself, and it will be the
better for you and
fact is, I never loved any
one well enough to put myself into a noose for
IS a noose, you know. Temper,
There is temper. And a
likes to be master."
"I know that I
must expect trials,
is a state of higher
never thought of it as mere
personal ease," said poor Dorothea.
"Well, you are
not fond of show, a
great establishment, balls, dinners, that kind of
can see that Casaubon's ways might suit you
better than Chettam's. And you shall do as you
like, my dear.
I would not hinder Casaubon; I said so at
once; for there is no knowing how anything may
turn out. You
have not the same tastes as every young
lady; and a clergyman and scholar – who may be a
bishop – that kind of thing –
may suit you better than Chettam.
Chettam is a good fellow, a good
sound-hearted fellow, you know; but he
doesn't go much into ideas. I did,
I was his age.
But Casaubon's eyes,
think he has hurt them a little
with too much reading."
"I should be
all the happier, uncle,
the more room there was for me to help him," said
quite made up your mind, I
my dear, the fact is, I have
a letter for you in my pocket." Mr. Brooke handed
the letter to Dorothea,
but as she rose to go away, he added, "There is
not too much hurry, my
about it, you know."
had left him, he reflected
that he had certainly spoken strongly: he had put
the risks of marriage before
her in a striking manner. It was
duty to do so.
But as to pretending to
be wise for young people, – no uncle, however much
he had travelled in his
youth, absorbed the new ideas, and dined with
celebrities now deceased, could
pretend to judge what sort of marriage would turn
out well for a young girl who
preferred Casaubon to Chettam. In
woman was a problem which, since Mr. Brooke's mind
felt blank before it, could
be hardly less complicated than the revolutions of
an irregular solid.
"Hard students are commonly troubled with gowts, catarrhs, rheums, cachexia, bradypepsia, bad eyes, stone, and collick, crudities, oppilations, vertigo, winds, consumptions, and all such diseases as come by over-much sitting: they are most part lean, dry, ill-colored . . . and all through immoderate pains and extraordinary studies. If you will not believe the truth of this, look upon great Tostatus and Thomas Aquainas' works; and tell me whether those men took pains."
BURTON'S Anatomy of Melancholy, P. I, s. 2.
This was Mr.
MY DEAR MISS
BROOKE, – I have your
guardian's permission to address you on a subject
than which I have none more
at heart. I
am not, I trust, mistaken in
the recognition of some deeper correspondence than
that of date in the fact
that a consciousness of need in my own life had
arisen contemporaneously with
the possibility of my becoming acquainted with
in the first hour of meeting you, I had
an impression of your eminent and perhaps
exclusive fitness to supply that need
(connected, I may say, with such activity of the
affections as even the
preoccupations of a work too special to be
abdicated could not uninterruptedly
dissimulate); and each succeeding opportunity for
observation has given the
impression an added depth by convincing me more
emphatically of that fitness
which I had preconceived, and thus evoking more
decisively those affections to
which I have but now referred. Our
conversations have, I think, made sufficiently
clear to you the tenor of my
life and purposes: a tenor unsuited, I am aware,
to the commoner order of
I have discerned in you an
elevation of thought and a capability of
devotedness, which I had hitherto not
conceived to be compatible either with the early
bloom of youth or with those
graces of sex that may be said at once to win and
to confer distinction when
combined, as they notably are in you, with the
mental qualities above
was, I confess, beyond my
hope to meet with this rare combination of
elements both solid and attractive,
adapted to supply aid in graver labors and to cast
a charm over vacant hours;
and but for the event of my introduction to you
(which, let me again say, I
trust not to be superficially coincident with
foreshadowing needs, but
providentially related thereto as stages towards
the completion of a life's
plan), I should presumably have gone on to the
last without any attempt to
lighten my solitariness by a matrimonial union.
Such, my dear
Miss Brooke, is the accurate
statement of my feelings; and I rely on your kind
indulgence in venturing now
to ask you how far your own are of a nature to
confirm my happy
To be accepted by you as
your husband and the earthly guardian of your
welfare, I should regard as the
highest of providential gifts. In
I can at least offer you an affection hitherto
unwasted, and the faithful
consecration of a life which, however short in the
sequel, has no backward
pages whereon, if you choose to turn them, you
will find records such as might
justly cause you either bitterness or shame.
I await the expression of your sentiments
with an anxiety which it would
be the part of wisdom (were it possible) to divert
by a more arduous labor than
in this order of experience I
am still young, and in looking forward to an
unfavorable possibility I cannot
but feel that resignation to solitude will be more
difficult after the temporary
illumination of hope.
case, I shall remain,
with sincere devotion,
trembled while she read this
letter; then she fell on her knees, buried her
face, and sobbed.
She could not pray: under the rush of
emotion in which thoughts became vague and images
floated uncertainly, she
could but cast herself, with a childlike sense of
reclining, in the lap of a
divine consciousness which sustained her own.
She remained in that attitude till it was
time to dress for dinner.
How could it
occur to her to examine the
letter, to look at it critically as a profession
of love? Her
whole soul was possessed by the fact that
a fuller life was opening before her: she was a
neophyte about to enter on a
higher grade of initiation. She was
going to have room for the energies which stirred
uneasily under the dimness
and pressure of her own ignorance and the petty
peremptoriness of the world's
Now she would
be able to devote herself to
large yet definite duties; now she would be
allowed to live continually in the
light of a mind that she could reverence.
This hope was not unmixed with the glow of
proud delight – the joyous
maiden surprise that she was chosen by the man
whom her admiration had chosen. All
Dorothea's passion was transfused through
a mind struggling towards an ideal life; the
radiance of her transfigured
girlhood fell on the first object that came within
its level. The
impetus with which inclination became
resolution was heightened by those little events
of the day which had roused her
discontent with the actual conditions of her life.
when Celia was playing an
"air, with variations," a small kind of tinkling
which symbolized the
aesthetic part of the young ladies' education,
Dorothea went up to her room to
answer Mr. Casaubon's letter. Why
she defer the answer? She
wrote it over
three times, not because she wished to change the
wording, but because her hand
was unusually uncertain, and she could not bear
that Mr. Casaubon should think
her handwriting bad and illegible. She
piqued herself on writing a hand in which each
letter was distinguishable
without any large range of conjecture, and she
meant to make much use of this
accomplishment, to save Mr. Casaubon's eyes.
Three times she wrote.
MY DEAR MR.
CASAUBON, – I am very grateful to you for
loving me, and thinking me
worthy to be your wife. I can
forward to no better happiness than that which
would be one with yours. If I
said more, it would only be the same
thing written out at greater length, for I cannot
now dwell on any other
thought than that I may be through life
Later in the
evening she followed her uncle
into the library to give him the letter, that he
might send it in the
was surprised, but his
surprise only issued in a few moments' silence,
during which he pushed about
various objects on his writing-table, and finally
stood with his back to the
fire, his glasses on his nose, looking at the
address of Dorothea's letter.
thought enough about this,
my dear?" he said at last.
"There was no
need to think long,
know of nothing to make me
I changed my mind, it must
be because of something important and entirely new
"Ah! – then
you have accepted
Chettam has no chance? Has
Chettam offended you – offended you, you
is it you don't like in
nothing that I like in
him," said Dorothea, rather impetuously.
threw his head and shoulders
backward as if some one had thrown a light missile
at him. Dorothea
immediately felt some self-rebuke,
and said –
"I mean in the
light of a
is very kind, I think –
really very good about the cottages. A
"But you must
have a scholar, and that
sort of thing?
Well, it lies a little in
our family. I
had it myself – that love
of knowledge, and going into everything – a little
too much – it took me too
far; though that sort of thing doesn't often run
in the female-line; or it runs
underground like the rivers in Greece, you know –
it comes out in the
sons, clever mothers. I went a
good deal into that, at one time. However,
my dear, I have always said that
people should do as they like in these things, up
to a certain point.
I couldn't, as your guardian, have
to a bad match.
But Casaubon stands
well: his position is good. I am
Chettam will be hurt, though, and Mrs. Cadwallader
will blame me."
of course, Celia knew nothing
of what had happened. She
Dorothea's abstracted manner, and the evidence of
further crying since they had
got home, to the temper she had been in about Sir
James Chettam and the
buildings, and was careful not to give further
offence: having once said what
she wanted to say, Celia had no disposition to
recur to disagreeable
had been her nature when a
child never to quarrel with any one –
only to observe with wonder that they
quarrelled with her, and looked
like turkey-cocks; whereupon she was ready to play
at cat's cradle with them
whenever they recovered themselves. And
as to Dorothea, it had always been her way to find
something wrong in her
sister's words, though Celia inwardly protested
that she always said just how
things were, and nothing else: she never did and
never could put words together
out of her own head.
But the best of
Dodo was, that she did not keep angry for long
though they had hardly spoken to each
other all the evening, yet when Celia put by her
work, intending to go to bed,
a proceeding in which she was always much the
earlier, Dorothea, who was seated
on a low stool, unable to occupy herself except in
meditation, said, with the
musical intonation which in moments of deep but
quiet feeling made her speech
like a fine bit of recitative –
come and kiss me,"
holding her arms open as she spoke.
down to get the right level and
gave her little butterfly kiss, while Dorothea
encircled her with gentle arms
and pressed her lips gravely on each cheek in
"Don't sit up,
Dodo, you are so pale
to-night: go to bed soon," said Celia, in a
comfortable way, without any
touch of pathos.
"No, dear, I
am very, very
happy," said Dorothea, fervently.
"So much the
how strangely Dodo goes
from one extreme to the other."
The next day,
at luncheon, the butler,
handing something to Mr. Brooke, said, "Jonas is
come back, sir, and has
brought this letter."
read the letter, and then,
nodding toward Dorothea, said, "Casaubon, my dear:
he will be here to
dinner; he didn't wait to write more – didn't
wait, you know."
It could not
seem remarkable to Celia that
a dinner guest should be announced to her sister
beforehand, but, her eyes
following the same direction as her uncle's, she
was struck with the peculiar
effect of the announcement on Dorothea.
It seemed as if something like the
reflection of a white sunlit wing had
passed across her features, ending in one of her
For the first time it entered into Celia's
mind that there might be something more between
Mr. Casaubon and her sister
than his delight in bookish talk and her delight
Hitherto she had classed the admiration for
this "ugly" and learned acquaintance with the
admiration for Monsieur
Liret at Lausanne, also ugly and learned.
Dorothea had never been tired of listening
to old Monsieur Liret when
Celia's feet were as cold as possible, and when it
had really become dreadful
to see the skin of his bald head moving about.
Why then should her enthusiasm not extend
to Mr. Casaubon simply in the
same way as to Monsieur Liret? And it
seemed probable that all learned men had a sort of
schoolmaster's view of young
But now Celia
was really startled at the
suspicion which had darted into her mind.
She was seldom taken by surprise in this
way, her marvellous quickness
in observing a certain order of signs generally
preparing her to expect such
outward events as she had an interest in.
Not that she now imagined Mr. Casaubon to
be already an accepted lover:
she had only begun to feel disgust at the
possibility that anything in
Dorothea's mind could tend towards such an issue. Here was
something really to vex her about
Dodo: it was all very well not to accept Sir James
Chettam, but the idea of
marrying Mr. Casaubon! Celia
felt a sort
of shame mingled with a sense of the ludicrous.
But perhaps Dodo, if she were really
bordering on such an extravagance,
might be turned away from it: experience had often
shown that her
impressibility might be calculated on.
The day was damp, and they were not going
to walk out, so they both went
up to their sitting-room; and there Celia observed
that Dorothea, instead of
settling down with her usual diligent interest to
some occupation, simply
leaned her elbow on an open book and looked out of
the window at the great
cedar silvered with the damp. She
herself had taken up the making of a toy for the
curate's children, and was not
going to enter on any subject too precipitately.
in fact thinking that it was
desirable for Celia to know of the momentous
change in Mr. Casaubon's position
since he had last been in the house: it did not
seem fair to leave her in
ignorance of what would necessarily affect her
attitude towards him; but it was
impossible not to shrink from telling her.
Dorothea accused herself of some meanness
in this timidity: it was
always odious to her to have any small fears or
contrivances about her actions,
but at this moment she was seeking the highest aid
possible that she might not
dread the corrosiveness of Celia's pretty carnally
Her reverie was broken, and the difficulty
decision banished, by Celia's small and rather
guttural voice speaking in its
usual tone, of a remark aside or a "by the bye."
"Is any one
else coming to dine
besides Mr. Casaubon?"
"Not that I
"I hope there
is some one else.
Then I shall not hear him eat his soup
"What is there
remarkable about his
can't you hear how he
scrapes his spoon?
And he always blinks
before he speaks.
I don't know whether
Locke blinked, but I'm sure I am sorry for those
who sat opposite to him if he
emphatic gravity, "pray don't make any more
observations of that
"Why not? They are
quite true," returned Celia,
who had her reasons for persevering, though she
was beginning to be a little
are true which only the
commonest minds observe."
"Then I think
the commonest minds must
be rather useful.
I think it is a pity
Mr. Casaubon's mother had not a commoner mind: she
might have taught him
better." Celia was inwardly frightened, and ready
to run away, now she had
hurled this light javelin.
feelings had gathered to an
avalanche, and there could be no further
"It is right
to tell you, Celia, that
I am engaged to marry Mr. Casaubon."
had never turned so pale
paper man she was making
would have had his leg injured, but for her
habitual care of whatever she held
in her hands.
She laid the fragile
figure down at once, and sat perfectly still for a
When she spoke there was a tear gathering
"Oh, Dodo, I
hope you will be
happy." Her sisterly tenderness could not but
surmount other feelings at
this moment, and her fears were the fears of
still hurt and agitated.
"It is quite
decided, then?" said
Celia, in an awed under tone. "And
accepted Mr. Casaubon's
uncle brought me the letter
that contained it; he knew about it beforehand."
"I beg your
pardon, if I have said
anything to hurt you, Dodo," said Celia, with a
slight sob. She
never could have thought that she should
feel as she did.
There was something
funereal in the whole affair, and Mr. Casaubon
seemed to be the officiating
clergyman, about whom it would be indecent to make
Kitty, do not
should never admire the same
often offend in something of
the same way; I am apt to speak too strongly of
those who don't please
In spite of
this magnanimity Dorothea was
still smarting: perhaps as much from Celia's
subdued astonishment as from her
Of course all the
world round Tipton would be out of sympathy with
Dorothea knew of no one who thought as she
did about life and its best objects.
before the evening was at an
end she was very happy. In an
tete-a-tete with Mr. Casaubon she talked to him
with more freedom than she had
ever felt before, even pouring out her joy at the
thought of devoting herself
to him, and of learning how she might best share
and further all his great
Casaubon was touched with an unknown
delight (what man would not have been?) at this
childlike unrestrained ardor:
he was not surprised (what lover would have been?)
that he should be the object
"My dear young
lady – Miss Brooke –
Dorothea!" he said, pressing her hand between his
hands, "this is a
happiness greater than I had ever imagined to be
in reserve for me.
That I should ever meet with a mind and
person so rich in the mingled graces which could
render marriage desirable, was
far indeed from my conception. You have
all – nay, more than all – those qualities which I
have ever regarded as the
characteristic excellences of womanhood.
The great charm of your sex is its
capability of an ardent
self-sacrificing affection, and herein we see its
fitness to round and complete
the existence of our own. Hitherto
have known few pleasures save of the severer kind:
my satisfactions have been
those of the solitary student. I have
been little disposed to gather flowers that would
wither in my hand, but now I
shall pluck them with eagerness, to place them in
could have been more thoroughly
honest in its intention: the frigid rhetoric at
the end was as sincere as the
bark of a dog, or the cawing of an amorous rook. Would it
not be rash to conclude that there
was no passion behind those sonnets to Delia which
strike us as the thin music
of a mandolin?
faith supplied all that Mr.
Casaubon's words seemed to leave unsaid: what
believer sees a disturbing
omission or infelicity? The
whether of prophet or of poet, expands for
whatever we can put into it, and
even his bad grammar is sublime.
"I am very
ignorant – you will quite
wonder at my ignorance," said Dorothea.
"I have so many thoughts that may be quite
mistaken; and now I
shall be able to tell them all to you, and ask you
about them. But,"
she added, with rapid imagination
of Mr. Casaubon's probable feeling, "I will not
trouble you too much; only
when you are inclined to listen to me.
You must often be weary with the pursuit of
subjects in your own
shall gain enough if you will
take me with you there."
"How should I
be able now to persevere
in any path without your companionship?" said Mr.
Casaubon, kissing her
candid brow, and feeling that heaven had
vouchsafed him a blessing in every way
suited to his peculiar wants. He was
being unconsciously wrought upon by the charms of
a nature which was entirely
without hidden calculations either for immediate
effects or for remoter
was this which made Dorothea so
childlike, and, according to some judges, so
stupid, with all her reputed
cleverness; as, for example, in the present case
of throwing herself,
metaphorically speaking, at Mr. Casaubon's feet,
and kissing his unfashionable
shoe-ties as if he were a Protestant Pope.
She was not in the least teaching Mr.
Casaubon to ask if he were good
enough for her, but merely asking herself
anxiously how she could be good
enough for Mr. Casaubon. Before
the next day it had been decided that the marriage
should take place within six
Casaubon's house was ready. It was
not a parsonage, but a considerable
mansion, with much land attached to it.
The parsonage was inhabited by the curate,
who did all the duty except
preaching the morning sermon.
My lady's tongue is like the meadow blades,
That cut you stroking them with idle hand.
Nice cutting is her function: she divides
With spiritual edge the millet-seed,
Casaubon's carriage was passing out
of the gateway, it arrested the entrance of a pony
phaeton driven by a lady
with a servant seated behind. It was
doubtful whether the recognition had been mutual,
for Mr. Casaubon was looking
absently before him; but the lady was quick-eyed,
and threw a nod and a
"How do you do?" in the nick of time.
In spite of her shabby bonnet and very old
Indian shawl, it was plain
that the lodge-keeper regarded her as an important
personage, from the low
curtsy which was dropped on the entrance of the
Fitchett, how are your
fowls laying now?" said the high-colored,
dark-eyed lady, with the
clearest chiselled utterance.
for laying, madam, but
they've ta'en to eating their eggs: I've no peace
o' mind with 'em at
sell them cheap at once. What
will you sell them a couple? One
can't eat fowls of a bad character at a
half-a-crown: I couldn't
let 'em go, not under."
Come now – for the Rector's chicken-broth
a Sunday. He
has consumed all ours that
I can spare.
You are half paid with the
sermon, Mrs. Fitchett, remember that.
Take a pair of tumbler-pigeons for them –
You must come and see them. You have
no tumblers among your
Master Fitchett shall go
and see 'em after work. He's
very hot on
new sorts; to oblige you."
"Oblige me! It will
be the best bargain he ever
pair of church pigeons for a
couple of wicked Spanish fowls that eat their own
you and Fitchett boast too much, that
was driven onwards with the
last words, leaving Mrs. Fitchett laughing and
shaking her head slowly, with an
interjectional "SureLY, sureLY!" – from which it
might be inferred
that she would have found the country-side
somewhat duller if the Rector's lady
had been less free-spoken and less of a skinflint. Indeed,
both the farmers and laborers in the
parishes of Freshitt and Tipton would have felt a
sad lack of conversation but
for the stories about what Mrs. Cadwallader said
and did: a lady of
immeasurably high birth, descended, as it were,
from unknown earls, dim as the
crowd of heroic shades – who pleaded poverty,
pared down prices, and cut jokes
in the most companionable manner, though with a
turn of tongue that let you
know who she was.
Such a lady gave a
neighborliness to both rank and religion, and
mitigated the bitterness of
A much more exemplary
character with an infusion of sour dignity would
not have furthered their
comprehension of the Thirty-nine Articles, and
would have been less socially
seeing Mrs. Cadwallader's
merits from a different point of view, winced a
little when her name was
announced in the library, where he was sitting
"I see you
have had our Lowick Cicero
here," she said, seating herself comfortably,
throwing back her wraps, and
showing a thin but well-built figure.
"I suspect you and he are brewing some bad
polities, else you would
not be seeing so much of the lively man.
I shall inform against you: remember you
are both suspicious characters
since you took Peel's side about the Catholic
shall tell everybody that you are going to
put up for Middlemarch on the Whig side when old
Pinkerton resigns, and that
Casaubon is going to help you in an underhand
manner: going to bribe the voters
with pamphlets, and throw open the public-houses
to distribute them.
the sort," said Mr.
Brooke, smiling and rubbing his eye-glasses, but
really blushing a little at
"Casaubon and I
don't talk politics much. He
care much about the philanthropic side of things;
punishments, and that kind of
only cares about Church
is not my line of
action, you know."
much, my friend.
I have heard of your doings. Who was
it that sold his bit of land to the
Papists at Middlemarch? I believe you bought it on
are a perfect Guy Faux. See if
you are not burnt in effigy this 5th
of November coming.
Humphrey would not
come to quarrel with you about it, so I am come."
"Very good. I was
prepared to be persecuted for not
persecuting – not persecuting, you know."
"There you go! That is
a piece of clap-trap you have got
ready for the hustings. Now, DO
them lure you to the hustings, my dear Mr. Brooke. A man
always makes a fool of himself,
speechifying: there's no excuse but being on the
right side, so that you can
ask a blessing on your humming and hawing.
You will lose yourself, I forewarn you.
You will make a Saturday pie of all
parties' opinions, and be pelted by
"That is what
I expect, you
know," said Mr. Brooke, not wishing to betray how
little he enjoyed this
prophetic sketch – "what I expect as an
As to the Whigs, a man who goes with the
thinkers is not likely to be hooked on by any
may go with them up to a certain point –
up to a certain point, you know. But that
is what you ladies never understand."
certain point is?
No. I should like to be told how a man can
have any certain point when he belongs to no party
– leading a roving life, and
never letting his friends know his address.
`Nobody knows where Brooke will be –
there's no counting on Brooke' –
that is what people say of you, to be quite frank. Now, do
How will you like going to Sessions with
everybody looking shy on you, and you with a bad
conscience and an empty
pretend to argue with a lady
on politics," said Mr. Brooke, with an air of
smiling indifference, but
feeling rather unpleasantly conscious that this
attack of Mrs. Cadwallader's
had opened the defensive campaign to which certain
rash steps had exposed
sex are not thinkers,
you know – varium et mutabile semper – that kind
of thing. You
don't know Virgil.
I knew" – Mr. Brooke reflected in time
that he had not had the personal acquaintance of
the Augustan poet – "I
was going to say, poor Stoddart, you know.
That was what HE said. You
are always against an independent attitude – a
man's caring for nothing but
truth, and that sort of thing. And
is no part of the county where opinion is narrower
than it is here – I don't
mean to throw stones, you know, but somebody is
wanted to take the independent
line; and if I don't take it, who will?"
Why, any upstart who has got neither blood
People of standing should consume their
independent nonsense at home, not hawk it about. And you!
who are going to marry your niece,
as good as your daughter, to one of our best men. Sir
James would be cruelly annoyed: it will
be too hard on him if you turn round now and make
yourself a Whig
again winced inwardly, for
Dorothea's engagement had no sooner been decided,
than he had thought of Mrs.
Cadwallader's prospective taunts. It
might have been easy for ignorant observers to
say, "Quarrel with Mrs.
Cadwallader;" but where is a country gentleman to
go who quarrels with his
Who could taste the
fine flavor in the name of Brooke if it were
delivered casually, like wine
without a seal?
Certainly a man can only
be cosmopolitan up to a certain point.
Chettam and I shall always be
good friends; but I am sorry to say there is no
prospect of his marrying my
niece," said Mr. Brooke, much relieved to see
through the window that
Celia was coming in.
said Mrs. Cadwallader,
with a sharp note of surprise. "It
is hardly a fortnight since you and I were talking
"My niece has
chosen another suitor –
has chosen him, you know. I have
nothing to do with it. I should
preferred Chettam; and I should have said Chettam
was the man any girl would
But there is no accounting
for these things.
Your sex is
capricious, you know."
"Why, whom do
you mean to say that you
are going to let her marry?" Mrs. Cadwallader's
mind was rapidly surveying
the possibilities of choice for Dorothea.
But here Celia
entered, blooming from a
walk in the garden, and the greeting with her
delivered Mr. Brooke from the
necessity of answering immediately. He
got up hastily, and saying, "By the way, I must
speak to Wright about the
horses," shuffled quickly out of the room.
child, what is this? – this
about your sister's engagement?" said Mrs.
engaged to marry Mr.
Casaubon," said Celia, resorting, as usual, to the
simplest statement of
fact, and enjoying this opportunity of speaking to
the Rector's wife alone.
long has it been going on?"
"I only knew
of it yesterday.
They are to be married in six weeks."
dear, I wish you joy of your
"I am so sorry
"Sorry! It is
her doing, I suppose."
"Yes; she says
Mr. Casaubon has a
"With all my
Cadwallader, I don't think
it can be nice to marry a man with a great soul."
dear, take warning.
You know the look of one now; when the next
comes and wants to marry you, don't you accept
"I'm sure I
"No; one such
in a family is
your sister never cared about
Sir James Chettam?
What would you have
said to HIM for a brother-in-law?"
"I should have
liked that very
am sure he would have been a
Only," Celia added,
with a slight blush (she sometimes seemed to blush
as she breathed), "I
don't think he would have suited Dorothea."
"Dodo is very
thinks so much about everything, and is
so particular about what one says. Sir
James never seemed to please her."
"She must have
encouraged him, I am
is not very creditable."
be angry with Dodo; she
does not see things.
She thought so much
about the cottages, and she was rude to Sir James
sometimes; but he is so kind,
he never noticed it."
putting on her shawl, and rising, as if in haste,
"I must go straight to
Sir James and break this to him. He will
have brought his mother back by this time, and I
must call. Your
uncle will never tell him. We are
all disappointed, my dear. Young
people should think of their families
I set a bad example –
married a poor clergyman, and made myself a
pitiable object among the De Bracys
– obliged to get my coals by stratagem, and pray
to heaven for my salad
Casaubon has money enough;
I must do him that justice. As to
blood, I suppose the family quarterings are three
cuttle-fish sable, and a commentator
the bye, before I go, my
dear, I must speak to your Mrs. Carter about
want to send my young cook to learn of
people with four children,
like us, you know, can't afford to keep a good
have no doubt Mrs. Carter will oblige
James's cook is a perfect
In less than
an hour, Mrs. Cadwallader had
circumvented Mrs. Carter and driven to Freshitt
Hall, which was not far from
her own parsonage, her husband being resident in
Freshitt and keeping a curate
Chettam had returned from the
short journey which had kept him absent for a
couple of days, and had changed
his dress, intending to ride over to Tipton
horse was standing at the door when Mrs.
drove up, and he immediately appeared there
himself, whip in hand. Lady
Chettam had not yet returned, but Mrs.
Cadwallader's errand could not be despatched in
the presence of grooms, so she
asked to be taken into the conservatory close by,
to look at the new plants;
and on coming to a contemplative stand, she said –
"I have a
great shock for you; I hope
you are not so far gone in love as you pretended
It was of no
use protesting, against Mrs.
Cadwallader's way of putting things. But
Sir James's countenance changed a little.
He felt a vague alarm.
"I do believe
Brooke is going to
expose himself after all. I
of meaning to stand for Middlemarch on the Liberal
side, and he looked silly
and never denied it – talked about the independent
line, and the usual
"Is that all?"
said Sir James,
rejoined Mrs. Cadwallader,
with a sharper note, "you don't mean to say that
you would like him to
turn public man in that way – making a sort of
political Cheap Jack of
"He might be
dissuaded, I should
would not like the
"That is what
I told him. He
is vulnerable to reason there – always a
few grains of common-sense in an ounce of
Miserliness is a capital quality to run in
families; it's the safe side for madness to dip
there must be a little crack in the
Brooke family, else we should not see what we are
Brooke standing for Middlemarch?"
really feel a little responsible. I always
told you Miss Brooke would be such a
fine match. I
knew there was a great
deal of nonsense in her – a flighty sort of
But these things wear out of girls. However,
I am taken by surprise for
"What do you
Cadwallader?" said Sir James. His
fear lest Miss Brooke should have run away to join
the Moravian Brethren, or
some preposterous sect unknown to good society,
was a little allayed by the
knowledge that Mrs. Cadwallader always made the
worst of things.
"What has happened to Miss Brooke? Pray
"Very well. She is
engaged to be married." Mrs.
Cadwallader paused a few moments, observing the
deeply hurt expression in her
friend's face, which he was trying to conceal by a
nervous smile, while he
whipped his boot; but she soon added, "Engaged to
Sir James let
his whip fall and stooped to
pick it up. Perhaps
his face had never
before gathered so much concentrated disgust as
when he turned to Mrs.
Cadwallader and repeated, "Casaubon?"
"Even so. You know
my errand now."
"Good God! It is
is no better than a mummy!" (The
point of view has to be allowed for, as that of a
blooming and disappointed
"She says, he
is a great soul. – A
great bladder for dried peas to rattle in!" said
has an old bachelor
like that to marry?" said Sir James.
"He has one foot in the grave."
"He means to
draw it out again, I
not to allow it: he
should insist on its being put off till she is of
would think better of it then. What is
a guardian for?"
"As if you
could ever squeeze a
resolution out of Brooke!"
might talk to him."
"Not he! Humphrey
finds everybody charming I never can
get him to abuse Casaubon. He will
speak well of the bishop, though I tell him it is
unnatural in a beneficed clergyman;
what can one do with a husband who attends so
little to the decencies? I hide
it as well as I can by abusing
Come, come, cheer up!
you are well rid of Miss Brooke, a girl who would
have been requiring you to
see the stars by daylight. Between
ourselves, little Celia is worth two of her, and
likely after all to be the
For this marriage to
Casaubon is as good as going to a nunnery."
"Oh, on my own
account – it is for
Miss Brooke's sake I think her friends should try
to use their influence."
Humphrey doesn't know yet. But when
I tell him, you may depend on it he
will say, `Why not?
Casaubon is a good
fellow – and young – young enough.' These
charitable people never know vinegar
from wine till they have swallowed it and got the
if I were a man I should prefer
Celia, especially when Dorothea was gone.
The truth is, you have been courting one
and have won the other. I can
see that she admires you almost as much
as a man expects to be admired. If it
were any one but me who said so, you might think
handed Mrs. Cadwallader to the
phaeton, and then jumped on his horse.
He was not going to renounce his ride
because of his friend's unpleasant
news – only to ride the faster in some other
direction than that of Tipton
Now, why on
earth should Mrs. Cadwallader
have been at all busy about Miss Brooke's
marriage; and why, when one match
that she liked to think she had a hand in was
frustrated, should she have
straightway contrived the preliminaries of
there any ingenious plot, any
hide-and-seek course of action, which might be
detected by a careful telescopic
at all: a telescope might
have swept the parishes of Tipton and Freshitt,
the whole area visited by Mrs.
Cadwallader in her phaeton, without witnessing any
interview that could excite
suspicion, or any scene from which she did not
return with the same unperturbed
keenness of eye and the same high natural color. In fact,
if that convenient vehicle had
existed in the days of the Seven Sages, one of
them would doubtless have
remarked, that you can know little of women by
following them about in their
pony-phaetons. Even with a microscope directed on
a water-drop we find ourselves
making interpretations which turn out to be rather
coarse; for whereas under a
weak lens you may seem to see a creature
exhibiting an active voracity into
which other smaller creatures actively play as if
they were so many animated
tax-pennies, a stronger lens reveals to you
certain tiniest hairlets which make
vortices for these victims while the swallower
waits passively at his receipt
of custom. In
this way, metaphorically
speaking, a strong lens applied to Mrs.
Cadwallader's match-making will show a
play of minute causes producing what may be called
thought and speech vortices
to bring her the sort of food she needed.
Her life was rurally simple, quite free
from secrets either foul,
dangerous, or otherwise important, and not
consciously affected by the great
affairs of the world. All the
the affairs of the great world interest her, when
communicated in the letters
of high-born relations: the way in which
fascinating younger sons had gone to
the dogs by marrying their mistresses; the fine
old-blooded idiocy of young
Lord Tapir, and the furious gouty humors of old
Lord Megatherium; the exact
crossing of genealogies which had brought a
coronet into a new branch and
widened the relations of scandal, – these were
topics of which she retained
details with the utmost accuracy, and reproduced
them in an excellent pickle of
epigrams, which she herself enjoyed the more
because she believed as
unquestionably in birth and no-birth as she did in
game and vermin.
She would never have disowned any one on
ground of poverty: a De Bracy reduced to take his
dinner in a basin would have
seemed to her an example of pathos worth
exaggerating, and I fear his
aristocratic vices would not have horrified her. But her
feeling towards the vulgar rich was a
sort of religious hatred: they had probably made
all their money out of high
retail prices, and Mrs. Cadwallader detested high
prices for everything that
was not paid in kind at the Rectory: such people
were no part of God's design
in making the world; and their accent was an
affliction to the ears. A town
where such monsters abounded was
hardly more than a sort of low comedy, which could
not be taken account of in a
well-bred scheme of the universe. Let
any lady who is inclined to be hard on Mrs.
Cadwallader inquire into the
comprehensiveness of her own beautiful views, and
be quite sure that they
afford accommodation for all the lives which have
the honor to coexist with
With such a
mind, active as phosphorus,
biting everything that came near into the form
that suited it, how could Mrs.
Cadwallader feel that the Miss Brookes and their
matrimonial prospects were
alien to her? especially as it had been the habit
of years for her to scold Mr.
Brooke with the friendliest frankness, and let him
know in confidence that she
thought him a poor creature. From the
first arrival of the young ladies in Tipton she
had prearranged Dorothea's
marriage with Sir James, and if it had taken place
would have been quite sure
that it was her doing: that it should not take
place after she had preconceived
it, caused her an irritation which every thinker
will sympathize with. She was
the diplomatist of Tipton and
Freshitt, and for anything to happen in spite of
her was an offensive irregularity. As to
freaks like this of Miss Brooke's, Mrs.
Cadwallader had no patience with them, and now saw
that her opinion of this
girl had been infected with some of her husband's
weak charitableness: those
Methodistical whims, that air of being more
religious than the rector and
curate together, came from a deeper and more
constitutional disease than she
had been willing to believe.
said Mrs. Cadwallader,
first to herself and afterwards to her husband, "I
throw her over: there
was a chance, if she had married Sir James, of her
becoming a sane, sensible
would never have contradicted
her, and when a woman is not contradicted, she has
no motive for obstinacy in
But now I wish her joy
of her hair shirt."
that Mrs. Cadwallader must
decide on another match for Sir James, and having
made up her mind that it was
to be the younger Miss Brooke, there could not
have been a more skilful move
towards the success of her plan than her hint to
the baronet that he had made
an impression on Celia's heart. For he
was not one of those gentlemen who languish after
the unattainable Sappho's
apple that laughs from the topmost bough – the
"Smile like the knot of cowslips on the cliff,
Not to be come at by the willing hand."
He had no
sonnets to write, and it could
not strike him agreeably that he was not an object
of preference to the woman
whom he had preferred. Already
knowledge that Dorothea had chosen Mr. Casaubon
had bruised his attachment and
relaxed its hold.
Although Sir James was
a sportsman, he had some other feelings towards
women than towards grouse and
foxes, and did not regard his future wife in the
light of prey, valuable
chiefly for the excitements of the chase.
Neither was he so well acquainted with the
habits of primitive races as
to feel that an ideal combat for her, tomahawk in
hand, so to speak, was
necessary to the historical continuity of the
marriage-tie. On the contrary,
having the amiable vanity which knits us to those
who are fond of us, and
disinclines us to those who are indifferent, and
also a good grateful nature,
the mere idea that a woman had a kindness towards
him spun little threads of
tenderness from out his heart towards hers.
happened, that after Sir James had
ridden rather fast for half an hour in a direction
away from Tipton Grange, he
slackened his pace, and at last turned into a road
which would lead him back by
a shorter cut.
Various feelings wrought
in him the determination after all to go to the
Grange to-day as if nothing new
He could not help
rejoicing that he had never made the offer and
been rejected; mere friendly
politeness required that he should call to see
Dorothea about the cottages, and
now happily Mrs. Cadwallader had prepared him to
offer his congratulations, if
necessary, without showing too much awkwardness. He
really did not like it: giving up Dorothea
was very painful to him; but there was something
in the resolve to make this
visit forthwith and conquer all show of feeling,
which was a sort of
file-biting and counter-irritant. And without his
distinctly recognizing the
impulse, there certainly was present in him the
sense that Celia would be
there, and that he should pay her more attention
than he had done before.
men and women, devour many a
disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time;
keep back the tears and look
a little pale about the lips, and in answer to
inquiries say, "Oh,
nothing!" Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad
thing when it only urges
us to hide our own hurts – not to hurt others.
"Piacer e popone
Vuol la sua stagione."
as might be expected, spent a
great deal of his time at the Grange in these
weeks, and the hindrance which
courtship occasioned to the progress of his great
work – the Key to all
Mythologies – naturally made him look forward the
more eagerly to the happy
termination of courtship. But he
deliberately incurred the hindrance, having made
up his mind that it was now
time for him to adorn his life with the graces of
female companionship, to
irradiate the gloom which fatigue was apt to hang
over the intervals of
studious labor with the play of female fancy, and
to secure in this, his
culminating age, the solace of female tendance for
his declining years.
Hence he determined to abandon himself to
stream of feeling, and perhaps was surprised to
find what an exceedingly
shallow rill it was.
As in droughty
regions baptism by immersion could only be
performed symbolically, Mr. Casaubon
found that sprinkling was the utmost approach to a
plunge which his stream
would afford him; and he concluded that the poets
had much exaggerated the
force of masculine passion.
Nevertheless, he observed with pleasure
that Miss Brooke showed an
ardent submissive affection which promised to
fulfil his most agreeable
previsions of marriage. It had
twice crossed his mind that possibly there, was
some deficiency in Dorothea to
account for the moderation of his abandonment; but
he was unable to discern the
deficiency, or to figure to himself a woman who
would have pleased him better;
so that there was clearly no reason to fall back
upon but the exaggerations of
"Could I not
be preparing myself now
to be more useful?" said Dorothea to him, one
morning, early in the time
of courtship; "could I not learn to read Latin and
Greek aloud to you, as
Milton's daughters did to their father, without
understanding what they
"I fear that
would be wearisome to
you," said Mr. Casaubon, smiling; "and, indeed, if
rightly, the young women you have mentioned
regarded that exercise in unknown
tongues as a ground for rebellion against the
"Yes; but in
the first place they were
very naughty girls, else they would have been
proud to minister to such a
father; and in the second place they might have
studied privately and taught
themselves to understand what they read, and then
it would have been
I hope you don't expect me
to be naughty and stupid?"
"I expect you
to be all that an
exquisite young lady can be in every possible
relation of life.
Certainly it might be a great advantage if
you were able to copy the Greek character, and to
that end it were well to
begin with a little reading."
seized this as a precious
would not have asked Mr.
Casaubon at once to teach her the languages,
dreading of all things to be
tiresome instead of helpful; but it was not
entirely out of devotion to her
future husband that she wished to know Latin and
provinces of masculine knowledge seemed
to her a standing-ground from which all truth
could be seen more truly. As it
was, she constantly doubted her own
conclusions, because she felt her own ignorance:
how could she be confident
that one-roomed cottages were not for the glory of
God, when men who knew the
classics appeared to conciliate indifference to
the cottages with zeal for the
even Hebrew might be
necessary – at least the alphabet and a few roots
– in order to arrive at the
core of things, and judge soundly on the social
duties of the Christian. And she
had not reached that point of
renunciation at which she would have been
satisfier' with having a wise
husband: she wished, poor child, to be wise
Brooke was certainly very naive with al:
her alleged cleverness. Celia,
mind had never been thought too powerful, saw the
emptiness of other people's
pretensions much more readily. To have
in general but little feeling, seems to be the
only security against feeling
too much on any particular occasion.
Casaubon consented to listen
and teach for an hour together, like a
schoolmaster of little boys, or rather
like a lover, to whom a mistress's elementary
ignorance and difficulties have a
Few scholars would
have disliked teaching the alphabet under such
But Dorothea herself was a little shocked
discouraged at her own stupidity, and the answers
she got to some timid
questions about the value of the Greek accents
gave her a painful suspicion
that here indeed there might be secrets not
capable of explanation to a woman's
Mr. Brooke had
no doubt on that point, and
expressed himself with his usual strength upon it
one day that he came into the
library while the reading was going forward.
now, Casaubon, such deep
studies, classics, mathematics, that kind of
thing, are too taxing for a woman
– too taxing, you know."
learning to read the
characters simply," said Mr. Casaubon, evading the
had the very considerate thought of
saving my eyes."
without understanding, you
know – that may not be so bad. But
is a lightness about the feminine mind – a touch
and go – music, the fine arts,
that kind of thing – they should study those up to
a certain point, women
should; but in a light way, you know. A
woman should be able to sit down and play you or
sing you a good old English
is what I like; though I have
heard most things – been at the opera in Vienna:
Gluck, Mozart, everything of
that sort. But
I'm a conservative in
music – it's not like ideas, you know. I
stick to the good old tunes."
is not fond of the
piano, and I am very glad he is not," said
Dorothea, whose slight regard for
domestic music and feminine fine art must be
forgiven her, considering the
small tinkling and smearing in which they chiefly
consisted at that dark
smiled and looked up at her
betrothed with grateful eyes. If he
always been asking her to play the "Last Rose of
Summer," she would
have required much resignation. "He
says there is only an old harpsichord at Lowick,
and it is covered with
"Ah, there you
are behind Celia, my
now, plays very prettily,
and is always ready to play. However,
since Casaubon does not like it, you are all
it's a pity you should not have little
recreations of that sort, Casaubon: the bow always
strung – that kind of thing,
you know – will not do."
"I never could
look on it in the light
of a recreation to have my ears teased with
measured noises," said Mr.
tune much iterated has
the ridiculous effect of making the words in my
mind perform a sort of minuet
to keep time – an effect hardly tolerable, I
imagine, after boyhood. As to
the grander forms of music, worthy to
accompany solemn celebrations, and even to serve
as an educating influence
according to the ancient conception, I say
nothing, for with these we are not
"No; but music
of that sort I should
enjoy," said Dorothea. "When
we were coming home from Lausanne my uncle took us
to hear the great organ at
Freiberg, and it made me sob."
"That kind of
thing is not healthy, my
dear," said Mr. Brooke.
"Casaubon, she will be in your hands now:
you must teach my niece
to take things more quietly, eh, Dorothea?"
He ended with
a smile, not wishing to hurt
his niece, but really thinking that it was perhaps
better for her to be early
married to so sober a fellow as Casaubon, since
she would not hear of Chettam.
wonderful, though," he
said to himself as he shuffled out of the room –
"it is wonderful that she
should have liked him. However,
match is good.
I should have been
travelling out of my brief to have hindered it,
let Mrs. Cadwallader say what
she will. He
is pretty certain to be a
bishop, is Casaubon.
That was a very
seasonable pamphlet of his on the Catholic
Question: – a deanery at least. They owe
him a deanery."
And here I
must vindicate a claim to
philosophical reflectiveness, by remarking that
Mr. Brooke on this occasion
little thought of the Radical speech which, at a
later period, he was led to
make on the incomes of the bishops. What
elegant historian would neglect a striking
opportunity for pointing out that
his heroes did not foresee the history of the
world, or even their own actions?
– For example, that Henry of Navarre, when a
Protestant baby, little thought of
being a Catholic monarch; or that Alfred the
Great, when he measured his
laborious nights with burning candles, had no idea
of future gentlemen
measuring their idle days with watches.
Here is a mine of truth, which, however
vigorously it may be worked, is
likely to outlast our coal.
But of Mr.
Brooke I make a further remark
perhaps less warranted by precedent – namely, that
if he had foreknown his
speech, it might not have made any great
think with pleasure of his niece's husband
having a large ecclesiastical income was one thing
– to make a Liberal speech
was another thing; and it is a narrow mind which
cannot look at a subject from
various points of view.
"Oh, rescue her! I am her brother now,
And you her father. Every gentle maid
Should have a
guardian in each
wonderful to Sir James Chettam how
well he continued to like going to the Grange
after he had once encountered the
difficulty of seeing Dorothea for the first time
in the light of a woman who
was engaged to another man. Of
the forked lightning seemed to pass through him
when he first approached her,
and he remained conscious throughout the interview
of hiding uneasiness; but,
good as he was, it must be owned that his
uneasiness was less than it would
have been if he had thought his rival a brilliant
and desirable match.
He had no sense of being eclipsed by Mr.
Casaubon; he was only shocked that Dorothea was
under a melancholy illusion,
and his mortification lost some of its bitterness
by being mingled with
while Sir James said to
himself that he had completely resigned her, since
with the perversity of a
Desdemona she had not affected a proposed match
that was clearly suitable and
according to nature; he could not yet be quite
passive under the idea of her
engagement to Mr. Casaubon. On the
when he first saw them together in the light of
his present knowledge, it
seemed to him that he had not taken the affair
Brooke was really culpable; he ought to
Who could speak to
might be done perhaps
even now, at least to defer the marriage.
On his way home he turned into the Rectory
and asked for Mr.
Happily, the Rector was at
home, and his visitor was shown into the study,
where all the fishing tackle
he himself was in a little
room adjoining, at work with his turning
apparatus, and he called to the
baronet to join him there. The two
better friends than any other landholder and
clergyman in the county – a
significant fact which was in agreement with the
amiable expression of their
Cadwallader was a large man, with full
lips and a sweet smile; very plain and rough in
his exterior, but with that
solid imperturbable ease and good-humor which is
infectious, and like great
grassy hills in the sunshine, quiets even an
irritated egoism, and makes it
rather ashamed of itself. "Well,
how are you?" he said, showing a hand not quite
fit to be grasped.
"Sorry I missed you before. Is there
You look vexed."
brow had a little crease in it,
a little depression of the eyebrow, which he
seemed purposely to exaggerate as
"It is only
this conduct of Brooke's.
I really think somebody should speak to him."
to stand?" said
Mr. Cadwallader, going on with the arrangement of
the reels which he had just
"I hardly think he
means it. But
where's the harm, if he
likes it? Any one who objects to Whiggery should
be glad when the Whigs don't
put up the strongest fellow. They
overturn the Constitution with our friend Brooke's
head for a battering
"Oh, I don't
mean that," said Sir
James, who, after putting down his hat and
throwing himself into a chair, had
begun to nurse his leg and examine the sole of his
boot with much
mean his letting that
blooming young girl marry Casaubon."
"What is the
see no harm in him – if the
girl likes him."
"She is too
young to know what she
guardian ought to
ought not to allow the
thing to be done in this headlong manner.
I wonder a man like you, Cadwallader – a
man with daughters, can look at
the affair with indifference: and with such a
heart as yours!
Do think seriously about it."
"I am not
joking; I am as serious as possible,"
said the Rector, with a provoking little inward
are as bad as Elinor. She has
been wanting me to go and lecture
Brooke; and I have reminded her that her friends
had a very poor opinion of the
match she made when she married me."
"But look at
Casaubon," said Sir
"He must be
fifty, and I don't believe he could ever have been
much more than the shadow of
a man. Look
at his legs!"
handsome young fellows!
you think of having it all your own way in the
don't under stand women. They
don't admire you half so much as you
Elinor used to tell
her sisters that she married me for my ugliness –
it was so various and amusing
that it had quite conquered her prudence."
"You! it was
easy enough for a woman
to love you.
But this is no question of
don't LIKE Casaubon."
This was Sir James's strongest way of implying
that he thought ill of a man's
"Why? what do
you know against
him?" said the Rector laying down his reels, and
putting his thumbs into
his armholes with an air of attention.
did not usually find it easy to give his
reasons: it seemed to him strange that people
should not know them without
being told, since he only felt what was
last he said –
Cadwallader, has he got any
"Well, yes. I don't
mean of the melting sort, but a sound
kernel, THAT you may be sure of. He is
very good to his poor relations: pensions several
of the women, and is educating
a young fellow at a good deal of expense.
Casaubon acts up to his sense of justice. His
mother's sister made a bad match – a
Pole, I think – lost herself – at any rate was
disowned by her family. If it
had not been for that, Casaubon would
not have had so much money by half. I
believe he went himself to find out his cousins,
and see what he could do for
man would not ring so well
as that, if you tried his metal. YOU
would, Chettam; but not every man."
know," said Sir James,
am not so sure of
myself." He paused a moment, and then added, "That
was a right thing
for Casaubon to do.
But a man may wish
to do what is right, and yet be a sort of
A woman may not be happy with him. And I
think when a girl is so young as Miss
Brooke is, her friends ought to interfere a little
to hinder her from doing
You laugh, because you
fancy I have some feeling on my own account.
But upon my honor, it is not that.
I should feel just the same if I were Miss
Brooke's brother or
what should you do?"
"I should say
that the marriage must
not be decided on until she was of age.
And depend upon it, in that case, it would
never come off.
I wish you saw it as I do – I wish you
talk to Brooke about it."
Sir James rose
as he was finishing his
sentence, for he saw Mrs. Cadwallader entering
from the study.
She held by the hand her youngest girl,
five years old, who immediately ran to papa, and
was made comfortable on his
"I hear what
you are talking
about," said the wife. "But
you will make no impression on Humphrey.
As long as the fish rise to his bait,
everybody is what he ought to
you, Casaubon has got a
trout-stream, and does not care about fishing in
it himself: could there be a
is something in
that," said the Rector, with his quiet, inward
is a very good quality in a man to
have a trout-stream."
seriously," said Sir James,
whose vexation had not yet spent itself, "don't
you think the Rector might
do some good by speaking?"
"Oh, I told
you beforehand what he
would say," answered Mrs. Cadwallader, lifting up
"I have done what I could: I wash my
hands of the marriage."
"In the first
place," said the
Rector, looking rather grave, "it would be
nonsensical to expect that I
could convince Brooke, and make him act
Brooke is a very good fellow, but pulpy; he
run into any mould, but he won't keep shape."
"He might keep
shape long enough to
defer the marriage," said Sir James.
"But, my dear
Chettam, why should I
use my influence to Casaubon's disadvantage,
unless I were much surer than I am
that I should be acting for the advantage of Miss
know no harm of Casaubon. I don't
care about his Xisuthrus and
Fee-fo-fum and the rest; but then he doesn't care
about my fishing-tackle. As
to the line he took on the Catholic Question, that
was unexpected; but he has
always been civil to me, and I don't see why I
should spoil his sport. For
anything I can tell, Miss Brooke may be
happier with him than she would be with any other
"Humphrey! I have
no patience with you. You know
you would rather dine under the
hedge than with Casaubon alone. You have
nothing to say to each other."
"What has that
to do with Miss
Brooke's marrying him? She does
it for my amusement."
"He has got no
good red blood in his
body," said Sir James.
put a drop under a
magnifying-glass and it was all semicolons and
parentheses," said Mrs.
"Why does he
not bring out his book,
instead of marrying," said Sir James, with a
disgust which he held
warranted by the sound feeling of an English
"Oh, he dreams
footnotes, and they run
away with all his brains. They
he was a little boy, he made an abstract of `Hop
o' my Thumb,' and he has been
making abstracts ever since. Ugh! And that
is the man Humphrey goes on saying
that a woman may be happy with."
"Well, he is
what Miss Brooke
likes," said the Rector. "I
don't profess to understand every young lady's
"But if she
were your own
daughter?" said Sir James.
"That would be
is NOT my daughter, and I
don't feel called upon to interfere.
Casaubon is as good as most of us.
He is a scholarly clergyman, and creditable
to the cloth.
Some Radical fellow speechifying at
Middlemarch said Casaubon was the learned
straw-chopping incumbent, and Freke
was the brick-and-mortar incumbent, and I was the
And upon my word, I don't see that one is
worse or better than the other." The Rector ended
with his silent
always saw the joke of any
satire against himself. His
was large and easy, like the rest of him: it did
only what it could do without
would be no interference
with Miss Brooke's marriage through Mr.
Cadwallader; and Sir James felt with
some sadness that she was to have perfect liberty
It was a sign of his good disposition that
did not slacken at all in his intention of
carrying out Dorothea's de. sign of
Doubtless this persistence was the best
course for his own dignity: but pride only helps
us to be generous; it never
makes us so, any more than vanity makes us witty. She was
now enough aware of Sir James's
position with regard to her, to appreciate the
rectitude of his perseverance in
a landlord's duty, to which he had at first been
urged by a lover's
complaisance, and her pleasure in it was great
enough to count for something
even in her present happiness. Per. haps she
gave to Sir James Chettam's cottages
all the interest she could spare from Mr.
Casaubon, or rather from the symphony
of hopeful dreams, admiring trust, and passionate
self devotion which that
learned gentleman had set playing in her soul.
Hence it happened that in the good
baronet's succeed ing visits, while
he was beginning to pay small attentions to Celia,
he found himself talking
with more and more pleasure to Dorothea.
She was perfectly unconstrained and without
irritation towards him now,
and he was gradually discovering the delight there
is in frank kindness and
companionship between a man and a woman who have
no passion to hide or confess.
An ancient land in ancient oracles
Is called "law-thirsty": all the struggle there
Was after order and a perfect rule.
Pray, where lie such lands now? . . .
they lay of old – in human souls.
behavior about settlements
was highly satisfactory to Mr. Brooke, and the
preliminaries of marriage rolled
smoothly along, shortening the weeks of courtship. The
betrothed bride must see her future home,
and dictate any changes that she would like to
have made there.
A woman dictates before marriage in order
that she may have an appetite for submission
certainly, the mistakes that we male and
female mortals make when we have our own way might
fairly raise some wonder that
we are so fond of it.
On a gray but
dry November morning Dorothea
drove to Lowick in company with her uncle and
Casaubon's home was the manor-house.
Close by, visible from some parts of the garden,
was the little church, with the
old parsonage opposite. In the
of his career, Mr. Casaubon had only held the
living, but the death of his
brother had put him in possession of the manor
had a small park, with a fine old oak here
and there, and an avenue of limes towards the
southwest front, with a sunk
fence between park and pleasure-ground, so that
from the drawing-room windows
the glance swept uninterruptedly along a slope of
greensward till the limes
ended in a level of corn and pastures, which often
seemed to melt into a lake
under the setting sun. This was
happy side of the house, for the south and east
looked rather melancholy even
under the brightest morning. The
here were more confined, the flower-beds showed no
very careful tendance, and
large clumps of trees, chiefly of sombre yews, had
risen high, not ten yards
from the windows.
The building, of
greenish stone, was in the old English style, not
ugly, but small-windowed and
melancholy-looking: the sort of house that must
have children, many flowers,
open windows, and little vistas of bright things,
to make it seem a joyous
this latter end of autumn, with
a sparse remnant of yellow leaves falling slowly
athwart the dark evergreens in
a stillness without sunshine, the house too had an
air of autumnal decline, and
Mr. Casaubon, when he presented himself, had no
bloom that could be thrown into
relief by that background.
Celia said to herself,
"I am sure Freshitt Hall would have been
pleasanter than this." She
thought of the white freestone, the pillared
portico, and the terrace full of
flowers, Sir James smiling above them like a
prince issuing from his
enchantment in a rose-bush, with a handkerchief
swiftly metamorphosed from the
most delicately odorous petals – Sir James, who
talked so agreeably, always
about things which had common-sense in them, and
not about learning!
Celia had those light young feminine tastes
which grave and weatherworn gentlemen sometimes
prefer in a wife; but happily
Mr. Casaubon's bias had been different, for he
would have had no chance with
the contrary, found the house
and grounds all that she could wish: the dark
book-shelves in the long library,
the carpets and curtains with colors subdued by
time, the curious old maps and
bird's-eye views on the walls of the corridor,
with here and there an old vase
below, had no oppression for her, and seemed more
cheerful than the easts and
pictures at the Grange, which her uncle had long
ago brought home from his
travels – they being probably among the ideas he
had taken in at one time. To poor
Dorothea these severe classical
nudities and smirking Renaissance-Correggiosities
were painfully inexplicable,
staring into the midst of her Puritanic
conceptions: she had never been taught
how she could bring them into any sort of
relevance with her life. But the
owners of Lowick apparently had not
been travellers, and Mr. Casaubon's studies of the
past were not carried on by
means of such aids.
walked about the house with
hallowed to her: this was to be the home of her
wifehood, and she looked up
with eyes full of confidence to Mr. Casaubon when
he drew her attention
specially to some actual arrangement and asked her
if she would like an
appeals to her taste she
met gratefully, but saw nothing to alter.
His efforts at exact courtesy and formal
tenderness had no defect for
filled up all blanks with
unmanifested perfections, interpreting him as she
interpreted the works of
Providence, and accounting for seeming discords by
her own deafness to the
And there are many
blanks left in the weeks of courtship which a
loving faith fills with happy
"Now, my dear
Dorothea, I wish you to
favor me by pointing out which room you would like
to have as your
boudoir," said Mr. Casaubon, showing that his
views of the womanly nature
were sufficiently large to include that
"It is very
kind of you to think of
that," said Dorothea, "but I assure you I would
rather have all those
matters decided for me. I shall
happier to take everything as it is – just as you
have been used to have it, or
as you will yourself choose it to be. I
have no motive for wishing anything else."
"will you not have the bow-windowed room
led the way thither.
The bow-window looked down the avenue of
limes; the furniture was all of a faded blue, and
there were miniatures of
ladies and gentlemen with powdered hair hanging in
a group. A
piece of tapestry over a door also showed a
blue-green world with a pale stag in it.
The chairs and tables were thin-legged and
easy to upset.
It was a room where one might fancy the
of a tight-laced lady revisiting the scene of her
light bookcase contained duodecimo volumes
of polite literature in calf, completing the
"this would be a pretty room with some new
hangings, sofas, and that sort
of thing. A
little bare now."
do not speak of
There are so many
other things in the world that want altering – I
like to take these things as
they are. And
you like them as they are,
don't you?" she added, looking at Mr. Casaubon. "Perhaps
this was your mother's room
when she was young."
"It was," he
said, with his slow
bend of the head.
"This is your
Dorothea, who had turned to examine the group of
is like the tiny one you brought me;
only, I should think, a better portrait.
And this one opposite, who is this?"
were, like you and your sister, the only
two children of their parents, who hang above
them, you see."
"The sister is
Celia, implying that she thought less favorably of
Mr. Casaubon's mother. It was a
new open ing to Celia's imagination,
that he came of a family who had all been young in
their time – the ladies
"It is a
peculiar face," said
Dorothea, looking closely. "Those
deep gray eyes rather near together – and the
delicate irregular nose with a
sort of ripple in it – and all the powdered curls
Altogether it seems to me peculiar rather
There is not even a family
likeness between her and your mother."
"No. And they
were not alike in their
"You did not
mention her to me,"
"My aunt made
never saw her."
wondered a little, but felt that
it would be indelicate just then to ask for any
information which Mr. Casaubon
did not proffer, and she turned to the window to
admire the view.
The sun had lately pierced the gray, and
avenue of limes cast shadows.
"Shall we not
walk in the garden
now?" said Dorothea.
"And you would
like to see the church,
you know," said Mr. Brooke.
"It is a droll little church.
And the village. It all
lies in a
nut-shell. By the way, it will suit you, Dorothea;
for the cottages are like a
row of alms-houses – little gardens,
gilly-flowers, that sort of thing."
looking at Mr. Casaubon, "I should like to see all
that." She had got
nothing from him more graphic about the Lowick
cottages than that they were
They were soon
on a gravel walk which led
chiefly between grassy borders and clumps of
trees, this being the nearest way
to the church, Mr. Casaubon said. At the
little gate leading into the churchyard there was
a pause while Mr. Casaubon
went to the parsonage close by to fetch a key.
Celia, who had been hanging a little in the
rear, came up presently,
when she saw that Mr. Casaubon was gone away, and
said in her easy staccato,
which always seemed to contradict the suspicion of
any malicious intent –
"Do you know,
Dorothea, I saw some one
quite young coming up one of the walks."
"There may be
a young gardener, you
know – why not?" said Mr. Brooke.
"I told Casaubon he should change his
"No, not a
gardener," said Celia;
"a gentleman with a sketch-book. He had
I only saw his back. But he
was quite young."
son, perhaps," said
Mr. Brooke. "Ah,
there is Casaubon
again, and Tucker with him. He is
to introduce Tucker.
You don't know
Mr. Tucker was
the middle-aged curate, one
of the "inferior clergy," who are usually not
wanting in sons.
But after the introduction, the
did not lead to any question about his family, and
the startling apparition of
youthfulness was forgotten by every one but Celia. She
inwardly declined to believe that the
light-brown curls and slim figure could have any
relationship to Mr. Tucker,
who was just as old and musty-looking as she would
have expected Mr. Casaubon's
curate to be; doubtless an excellent man who would
go to heaven (for Celia
wished not to be unprincipled), but the corners of
his mouth were so
thought with some
dismalness of the time she should have to spend as
bridesmaid at Lowick, while
the curate had probably no pretty little children
whom she could like,
irrespective of principle.
Mr. Tucker was
invaluable in their walk;
and perhaps Mr. Casaubon had not been without
foresight on this head, the
curate being able to answer all Dorothea's
questions about the villagers and
the other parishioners. Everybody,
assured her, was well off in Lowick: not a
cottager in those double cottages at
a low rent but kept a pig, and the strips of
garden at the back were well
small boys wore excellent
corduroy, the girls went out as tidy servants, or
did a little straw-plaiting
at home: no looms here, no Dissent; and though the
public disposition was
rather towards laying by money than towards
spirituality, there was not much
speckled fowls were so
numerous that Mr. Brooke observed, "Your farmers
leave some barley for the
women to glean, I see. The poor
here might have a fowl in their pot, as the good
French king used to wish for
all his people.
The French eat a good
many fowls – skinny fowls, you know."
"I think it
was a very cheap wish of
his," said Dorothea, indignantly.
"Are kings such monsters that a wish like
that must be reckoned a
"And if he
wished them a skinny
fowl," said Celia, "that would not be nice. But
perhaps he wished them to have fat
"Yes, but the
word has dropped out of
the text, or perhaps was subauditum; that is,
present in the king's mind, but
not uttered," said Mr. Casaubon, smiling and
bending his head towards
Celia, who immediately dropped backward a little,
because she could not bear
Mr. Casaubon to blink at her.
into silence on the way back
to the house.
She felt some
disappointment, of which she was yet ashamed, that
there was nothing for her to
do in Lowick; and in the next few minutes her mind
had glanced over the
possibility, which she would have preferred, of
finding that her home would be
in a parish which had a larger share of the
world's misery, so that she might
have had more active duties in it. Then,
recurring to the future actually before her, she
made a picture of more
complete devotion to Mr. Casaubon's aims in which
she would await new
such might reveal
themselves to the higher knowledge gained by her
in that companionship.
soon left them, having some
clerical work which would not allow him to lunch
at the Hall; and as they were
re-entering the garden through the little gate,
Mr. Casaubon said –
"You seem a
little sad, Dorothea. I trust
you are pleased with what you have
"I am feeling
something which is
perhaps foolish and wrong," answered Dorothea,
with her usual openness –
"almost wishing that the people wanted more to be
done for them here.
I have known so few ways of making my life
good for anything.
Of course, my notions
of usefulness must be narrow. I must
learn new ways of helping people."
position has its
corresponding duties. Yours, I
the mistress of Lowick, will not leave any
believe that," said
suppose that I am sad."
"That is well. But, if
you are not tired, we will take
another way to the house than that by which we
not at all tired, and a little
circuit was made towards a fine yew-tree, the
chief hereditary glory of the
grounds on this side of the house. As
they approached it, a figure, conspicuous on a
dark background of evergreens,
was seated on a bench, sketching the old tree.
Mr. Brooke, who was walking in front with
Celia, turned his head, and
"Who is that
They had come
very near when Mr. Casaubon
"That is a
young relative of mine, a
second cousin: the grandson, in fact," he added,
looking at Dorothea,
"of the lady whose portrait you have been
noticing, my aunt Julia."
The young man
had laid down his sketch-book
and risen. His
bushy light-brown curls,
as well as his youthfulness, identified him at
once with Celia's apparition.
me introduce to you my
cousin, Mr. Ladislaw. Will,
this is Miss
The cousin was
so close now, that, when he
lifted his hat, Dorothea could see a pair of gray
eves rather near together, a
delicate irregular nose with a little ripple in
it, and hair falling backward;
but there was a mouth and chin of a more
prominent, threatening aspect than
belonged to the type of the grandmother's
Ladislaw did not feel it necessary to
smile, as if he were charmed with this
introduction to his future second cousin
and her relatives; but wore rather a pouting air
"You are an
artist, I see," said
Mr. Brooke, taking up the sketch-book and turning
it over in his unceremonious
"No, I only
sketch a little.
There is nothing fit to be seen there,"
said young Ladislaw, coloring, perhaps with temper
rather than modesty.
this is a nice bit,
did a little in this way myself
at one time, you know. Look
this is what I call a nice thing, done with what
we used to call BRIO."
Mr. Brooke held out towards the two girls a large
colored sketch of stony
ground and trees, with a pool.
"I am no judge
of these things,"
said Dorothea, not coldly, but with an eager
deprecation of the appeal to
know, uncle, I never see
the beauty of those pictures which you say are so
They are a language I do not understand. I
suppose there is some relation between
pictures and nature which I am too ignorant to
feel – just as you see what a
Greek sentence stands for which means nothing to
me." Dorothea looked up
at Mr. Casaubon, who bowed his head towards her,
while Mr. Brooke said, smiling
now, how different people
you had a bad style of
teaching, you know – else this is just the thing
for girls – sketching, fine
art and so on.
But you took to drawing
plans; you don't understand morbidezza, and that
kind of thing.
You will come to my house, I hope, and I
show you what I did in this way," he continued,
turning to young Ladislaw,
who had to be recalled from his preoccupation in
Ladislaw had made up his mind that she must
be an unpleasant girl, since she was going to
marry Casaubon, and what she said
of her stupidity about pictures would have
confirmed that opinion even if he
had believed her.
As it was, he took her
words for a covert judgment, and was certain that
she thought his sketch
was too much
cleverness in her apology: she was laughing both
at her uncle and himself. But what
a voice! It
was like the voice of a soul that had once
lived in an AEolian harp. This
one of Nature's inconsistencies. There
could be no sort of passion in a girl who would
But he turned from her, and bowed his
for Mr. Brooke's invitation.
"We will turn
over my Italian
engravings together," continued that good-natured
have no end of those things, that I
have laid by for years. One gets
in this part of the country, you know.
Not you, Casaubon; you stick to your
studies; but my best ideas get
undermost – out of use, you know. You
clever young men must guard against indolence.
I was too indolent, you know: else I might
have been anywhere at one
"That is a
admonition," said Mr. Casaubon; "but now we will
pass on to the
house, lest the young ladies should be tired of
backs were turned, young
Ladislaw sat down to go on with his sketching, and
as he did so his face broke
into an expression of amusement which increased as
he went on drawing, till at
last he threw back his head and laughed aloud.
Partly it was the reception of his own
artistic production that tickled
him; partly the notion of his grave cousin as the
lover of that girl; and
partly Mr. Brooke's definition of the place he
might have held but for the
impediment of indolence. Mr. Will
Ladislaw's sense of the ludicrous lit up his
features very agreeably: it was
the pure enjoyment of comicality, and had no
mixture of sneering and
"What is your
nephew going to do with
himself, Casaubon?" said Mr. Brooke, as they went
you mean – not my
in the way of a career, you know."
"The answer to
that question is
On leaving Rugby he
declined to go to an English university, where I
would gladly have placed him,
and chose what I must consider the anomalous
course of studying at
now he wants to go
abroad again, without any special object, save the
vague purpose of what he
calls culture, preparation for he knows not what. He
declines to choose a profession."
"He has no
means but what you furnish,
"I have always
given him and his
friends reason to understand that I would furnish
in moderation what was
necessary for providing him with a scholarly
education, and launching him
I am-therefore bound to
fulfil the expectation so raised," said Mr.
Casaubon, putting his conduct
in the light of mere rectitude: a trait of
delicacy which Dorothea noticed with
"He has a
thirst for travelling;
perhaps he may turn out a Bruce or a Mungo Park,"
said Mr. Brooke.
"I had a notion of that myself at one
"No, he has no
exploration, or the enlargement of our geognosis:
that would be a special
purpose which I could recognize with some
approbation, though without felicitating
him on a career which so often ends in premature
and violent death.
But so far is he from having any desire for
more accurate knowledge of the earth's surface,
that he said he should prefer
not to know the sources of the Nile, and that
there should be some unknown
regions preserved as hunting grounds for the
is something in that, you
know," said Mr. Brooke, who had certainly an
"It is, I
fear, nothing more than a
part of his general inaccuracy and indisposition
to thoroughness of all kinds,
which would be a bad augury for him in any
profession, civil or sacred, even
were he so far submissive to ordinary rule as to
has conscientious scruples
founded on his own unfitness," said Dorothea, who
was interesting herself
in finding a favorable explanation.
"Because the law and medicine should be
very serious professions to
undertake, should they not? People's
lives and fortunes depend on them."
but I fear that my young
relative Will Ladislaw is chiefly determined in
his aversion to these callings
by a dislike to steady application, and to that
kind of acquirement which is
needful instrumentally, but is not charming or
immediately inviting to
self-indulgent taste. I have
him on what Aristotle has stated with admirable
brevity, that for the
achievement of any work regarded as an end there
must be a prior exercise of
many energies or acquired facilities of a
secondary order, demanding patience.
I have pointed to my own manuscript volumes, which
represent the toil of years
preparatory to a work not yet accomplished.
But in vain.
To careful reasoning
of this kind he replies by calling himself
Pegasus, and every form of
prescribed work `harness.'"
Celia laughed. She was
surprised to find that Mr. Casaubon
could say something quite amusing.
know, he may turn out a
Byron, a Chatterton, a Churchill – that sort of
thing – there's no
telling," said Mr. Brooke.
"Shall you let him go to Italy, or wherever
else he wants to
"Yes; I have
agreed to furnish him
with moderate supplies for a year or so; he asks
no more. I
shall let him be tried by the test of
"That is very
kind of you," said
Dorothea, looking up at Mr. Casaubon with delight. "It is
all, people may really have in them
some vocation which is not quite plain to
themselves, may they not? They may
seem idle and weak because they are
should be very patient with
each other, I think."
"I suppose it
is being engaged to be
married that has made you think patience good,"
said Celia, as soon as she
and Dorothea were alone together, taking off their
"You mean that
I am very impatient,
people don't do and say
just what you like." Celia had become less afraid
things" to Dorothea since this engagement:
cleverness seemed to her more
pitiable than ever.
"He had catched a great cold, had he had no other clothes to wear than the skin of a bear not yet killed."
did not pay that visit to
which Mr. Brooke had invited him, and only six
days afterwards Mr. Casaubon
mentioned that his young relative had started for
the Continent, seeming by
this cold vagueness to waive inquiry.
Indeed, Will had declined to fix on any
more precise destination than
the entire area of Europe. Genius,
held, is necessarily intolerant of fetters: on the
one hand it must have the
utmost play for its spontaneity; on the other, it
may confidently await those
messages from the universe which summon it to its
peculiar work, only placing
itself in an attitude of receptivity towards all
The attitudes of receptivity are various,
Will had sincerely tried many of them.
He was not excessively fond of wine, but he
had several times taken too
much, simply as an experiment in that form of
ecstasy; he had fasted till he
was faint, and then supped on lobster; he had made
himself ill with doses of
greatly original had
resulted from these measures; and the effects of
the opium had convinced him
that there was an entire dissimilarity between his
constitution and De
Quincey's. The superadded circumstance which would
evolve the genius had not
yet come; the universe had not yet beckoned.
Even Caesar's fortune at one time was, but
a grand presentiment. We know
what a masquerade all development is,
and what effective shapes may be disguised in
helpless embryos. – In fact, the
world is full of hopeful analogies and handsome
dubious eggs called possibilities. Will saw
clearly enough the pitiable
instances of long incubation producing no chick,
and but for gratitude would
have laughed at Casaubon, whose plodding
application, rows of note-books, and
small taper of learned theory exploring the tossed
ruins of the world, seemed
to enforce a moral entirely encouraging to Will's
generous reliance on the
intentions of the universe with regard to himself. He held
that reliance to be a mark of genius;
and certainly it is no mark to the contrary;
genius consisting neither in
self-conceit nor in humility, but in a power to
make or do, not anything in
general, but something in particular.
Let him start for the Continent, then,
without our pronouncing on his
all forms of mistake,
prophecy is the most gratuitous.
But at present
this caution against a too
hasty judgment interests me more in relation to
Mr. Casaubon than to his young
to Dorothea Mr. Casaubon had
been the mere occasion which had set alight the
fine inflammable material of her
youthful illusions, does it follow that he was
fairly represented in the minds
of those less impassioned personages who have
hitherto delivered their
judgments concerning him? I
against any absolute conclusion, any prejudice
derived from Mrs. Cadwallader's
contempt for a neighboring clergyman's alleged
greatness of soul, or Sir James
Chettam's poor opinion of his rival's legs, – from
Mr. Brooke's failure to
elicit a companion's ideas, or from Celia's
criticism of a middle-aged
scholar's personal appearance. I am not
sure that the greatest man of his age, if ever
that solitary superlative
existed, could escape these unfavorable
reflections of himself in various small
mirrors; and even Milton, looking for his portrait
in a spoon, must submit to
have the facial angle of a bumpkin.
Moreover, if Mr. Casaubon, speaking for
himself, has rather a chilling
rhetoric, it is not therefore certain that there
is no good work or fine
feeling in him.
Did not an immortal
physicist and interpreter of hieroglyphs write
Has the theory of the solar system been
advanced by graceful manners and conversational
we turn from outside estimates of a
man, to wonder, with keener interest, what is the
report of his own
consciousness about his doings or capacity: with
what hindrances he is carrying
on his daily labors; what fading of hopes, or what
deeper fixity of
self-delusion the years are marking off within
him; and with what spirit he
wrestles against universal pressure, which will
one day be too heavy for him,
and bring his heart to its final pause.
Doubtless his lot is important in his own
eyes; and the chief reason
that we think he asks too large a place in our
consideration must be our want
of room for him, since we refer him to the Divine
regard with perfect
confidence; nay, it is even held sublime for our
neighbor to expect the utmost
there, however little he may have got from us.
Mr. Casaubon, too, was the centre of his
own world; if he was liable to
think that others were providentially made for
him, and especially to consider
them in the light of their fitness for the author
of a "Key to all
Mythologies," this trait is not quite alien to us,
and, like the other
mendicant hopes of mortals, claims some of our
affair of his marriage with
Miss Brooke touched him more nearly than it did
any one of the persons who have
hitherto shown their disapproval of it, and in the
present stage of things I
feel more tenderly towards his experience of
success than towards the disappointment
of the amiable Sir James. For in
as the day fixed for his marriage came nearer, Mr.
Casaubon did not find his
spirits rising; nor did the contemplation of that
matrimonial garden scene,
where, as all experience showed, the path was to
be bordered with flowers,
prove persistently more enchanting bo him than the
accustomed vaults where he
walked taper in hand. He did
to himself, still less could he have breathed to
another, his surprise that
though he had won a lovely and noble-hearted girl
he had not won delight, –
which he had also regarded as an object to be
found by search.
It is true that he knew all the classical
passages implying the contrary; but knowing
classical passages, we find, is a
mode of motion, which explains why they leave so
little extra force for their
Casaubon had imagined that his
long studious bachelorhood had stored up for him a
compound interest of
enjoyment, and that large drafts on his affections
would not fail to be
honored; for we all of us, grave or light, get our
thoughts entangled in
metaphors, and act fatally on the strength of
now he was in danger of being saddened by
the very conviction that his circumstances were
unusually happy: there was
nothing external by which he could account for a
certain blankness of
sensibility which came over him just when his
expectant gladness should have
been most lively, just when he exchanged the
accustomed dulness of his Lowick
library for his visits to the Grange. Here was a
weary experience in which he was as
utterly condemned to loneliness as in the despair
which sometimes threatened
him while toiling in the morass of authorship
without seeming nearer to the
his was that worst loneliness
which would shrink from sympathy. He
could not but wish that Dorothea should think him
not less happy than the world
would expect her successful suitor to be; and in
relation to his authorship he
leaned on her young trust and veneration, he liked
to draw forth her fresh
interest in listening, as a means of encouragement
to himself: in talking to
her he presented all his performance and intention
with the reflected
confidence of the pedagogue, and rid himself for
the time of that chilling
ideal audience which crowded his laborious
uncreative hours with the vaporous
pressure of Tartarean shades.
Dorothea, after that toy-box history
of the world adapted to young ladies which had
made the chief part of her
education, Mr. Casaubon's talk about his great
book was full of new vistas; and
this sense of revelation, this surprise of a
nearer introduction to Stoics and
Alexandrians, as people who had ideas not totally
unlike her own, kept in
abeyance for the time her usual eagerness for a
binding theory which could
bring her own life and doctrine into strict
connection with that amazing past,
and give the remotest sources of knowledge some
bearing on her actions. That
more complete teaching would come – Mr.
Casaubon would tell her all that: she was looking
forward to higher initiation
in ideas, as she was looking forward to marriage,
and blending her dim
conceptions of both.
It would be a great
mistake to suppose that Dorothea would have cared
about any share in Mr.
Casaubon's learning as mere accomplishment; for
though opinion in the
neighborhood of Freshitt and Tipton had pronounced
her clever, that epithet
would not have described her to circles in whose
more precise vocabulary
cleverness implies mere aptitude for knowing and
doing, apart from
her eagerness for
acquirement lay within that full current of
sympathetic motive in which her
ideas and impulses were habitually swept along.
She did not want to deck herself with
knowledge – to wear it loose from
the nerves and blood that fed her action; and if
she had written a book she
must have done it as Saint Theresa did, under the
command of an authority that
constrained her conscience. But
something she yearned for by which her life might
be filled with action at once
rational and ardent; and since the time was gone
by for guiding visions and
spiritual directors, since prayer heightened
yearning but not instruction, what
lamp was there but knowledge? Surely learned men
kept-the only oil; and who
more learned than Mr. Casaubon?
Thus in these
brief weeks Dorothea's joyous
grateful expectation was unbroken, and however her
lover might occasionally be
conscious of flatness, he could never refer it to
any slackening of her
The season was
mild enough to encourage the
project of extending the wedding journey as far as
Rome, and Mr. Casaubon was
anxious for this because he wished to inspect some
manuscripts in the Vatican.
regret that your sister is
not to accompany us," he said one morning, some
time after it had been
ascertained that Celia objected to go, and that
Dorothea did not wish for her
"You will have many
lonely hours, Dorotheas, for I shall be
constrained to make the utmost use of
my time during our stay in Rome, and I should feel
more at liberty if you had a
The words "I
should feel more at
liberty" grated on Dorothea. For
the first time in speaking to Mr. Casaubon she
colored from annoyance.
"You must have
misunderstood me very
much," she said, "if you think I should not enter
into the value of
your time – if you think that I should not
willingly give up whatever
interfered with your using it to the best
"That is very
amiable in you, my dear
Dorothea," said Mr. Casaubon, not in the least
noticing that she was hurt;
"but if you had a lady as your companion, I could
put you both under the
care of a cicerone, and we could thus achieve two
purposes in the same space of
"I beg you
will not refer to this
again," said Dorothea, rather haughtily.
But immediately she feared that she was
wrong, and turning towards him
she laid her hand on his, adding in a different
tone, "Pray do not be
anxious about me.
I shall have so much
to think of when I am alone. And
Tantripp will be a sufficient companion, just to
take care of me.
I could not bear to have Celia: she would
It was time to
was to be a dinner-party that day, the
last of the parties which were held at the Grange
as proper preliminaries to
the wedding, and Dorothea was glad of a reason for
moving away at once on the
sound of the bell, as if she needed more than her
usual amount of
She was ashamed of being
irritated from some cause she could not define
even to herse1f; for though she
had no intention to be untruthful, her reply had
not touched the real hurt
within her. Mr.
Casaubon's words had
been quite reasonable, yet they had brought a
vague instantaneous sense of
aloofness on his part.
"Surely I am
in a strangely selfish
weak state of mind," she said to herself.
"How can I have a husband who is so much
above me without knowing
that he needs me less than I need him?"
convinced herself that Mr. Casaubon
was altogether right, she recovered her
equanimity, and was an agreeable image
of serene dignity when she came into the
drawing-room in her silver-gray dress
– the simple lines of her dark-brown hair parted
over her brow and coiled
massively behind, in keeping with the entire
absence from her manner and
expression of all search after mere effect.
Sometimes when Dorothea was in company,
there seemed to be as complete
an air of repose about her as if she had been a
picture of Santa Barbara
looking out from her tower into the clear air; but
these intervals of quietude
made the energy of her speech and emotion the more
remarked when some outward
appeal had touched her.
naturally the subject of many
observations this evening, for the dinner-party
was large and rather more
miscellaneous as to the male portion than any
which had been held at the Grange
since Mr. Brooke's nieces had resided with him, so
that the talking was done in
duos and trios more or less inharmonious.
There was the newly elected mayor of
Middlemarch, who happened to be a
manufacturer; the philanthropic banker his
brother-in-law, who predominated so
much in the town that some called him a Methodist,
others a hypocrite,
according to the resources of their vocabulary;
and there were various
In fact, Mrs.
Cadwallader said that Brooke was beginning to
treat the Middlemarchers, and
that she preferred the farmers at the
tithe-dinner, who drank her health
unpretentiously, and were not ashamed of their
grandfathers' furniture. For in
that part of the country, before reform
had done its notable part in developing the
political consciousness, there was
a clearer distinction of ranks and a dimmer
distinction of parties; so that Mr.
Brooke's miscellaneous invitations seemed to
belong to that general laxity
which came from his inordinate travel and habit of
taking too much in the form
Miss Brooke passed out of the
dining-room, opportunity was found for some
"A fine woman,
Miss Brooke! an
uncommonly fine woman, by God!" said Mr. Standish,
the old lawyer, who had
been so long concerned with the landed gentry that
he had become landed
himself, and used that oath in a deep-mouthed
manner as a sort of armorial
bearings, stamping the speech of a man who held a
the banker, seemed to be
addressed, but that gentleman disliked coarseness
and profanity, and merely
remark was taken up by Mr.
Chichely, a middle-aged bachelor and coursing
celebrity, who had a complexion
something like an Easter egg, a few hairs
carefully arranged, and a carriage
implying the consciousness of a distinguished
"Yes, but not
my style of woman: I
like a woman who lays herself out a little more to
please us. There
should be a little filigree about a
woman – something of the coquette. A man
likes a sort of challenge. The more
dead set she makes at you the better."
truth in that,"
said Mr. Standish, disposed to be genial.
"And, by God, it's usually the way with
suppose it answers some wise ends: Providence
made them so, eh, Bulstrode?"
"I should be
disposed to refer
coquetry to another source," said Mr. Bulstrode. "I
should rather refer it to the
"Ay, to be
sure, there should be a
little devil in a woman," said Mr. Chichely, whose
study of the fair sex
seemed to have been detrimental to his theology. "And I
like them blond, with a certain
gait, and a swan neck. Between
ourselves, the mayor's daughter is more to my
taste than Miss Brooke or Miss
If I were a marrying man I
should choose Miss Vincy before either of them."
up, make up," said
Mr. Standish, jocosely; "you see the middle-aged
fellows early the
shook his head with much
meaning: he was not going to incur the certainty
of being accepted by the woman
he would choose.
The Miss Vincy
who had the honor of being
Mr. Chichely's ideal was of course not present;
for Mr. Brooke, always
objecting to go too far, would not have chosen
that his nieces should meet the
daughter of a Middlemarch manufacturer, unless it
were on a public
feminine part of the
company included none whom Lady Chettam or Mrs.
Cadwallader could object to;
for Mrs. Renfrew, the colonel's widow, was not
only unexceptionable in point of
breeding, but also interesting on the ground of
her complaint, which puzzled
the doctors, and seemed clearly a case wherein the
fulness of professional
knowledge might need the supplement of quackery. Lady
Chettam, who attributed her own
remarkable health to home-made bitters united with
constant medical attendance,
entered with much exercise of the imagination into
Mrs. Renfrew's account of
symptoms, and into the amazing futility in her
case of all, strengthening
"Where can all
the strength of those
medicines go, my dear?" said the mild but stately
dowager, turning to Mrs.
Cadwallader reflectively, when Mrs. Renfrew's
attention was called away.
strengthens the disease,"
said the Rector's wife, much too well-born not to
be an amateur in
the constitution: some people make fat, some
blood, and some bile – that's my
view of the matter; and whatever they take is a
sort of grist to the
ought to take medicines that
would reduce – reduce the disease, you know, if
you are right, my dear. And I
think what you say is reasonable."
You have two sorts of potatoes, fed on the
same soil. One
of them grows more and
more watery – "
"Ah! like this
poor Mrs. Renfrew –
that is what I think. Dropsy! There is
no swelling yet – it is inward. I should
say she ought to take drying
medicines, shouldn't you? – or a dry hot-air bath. Many
things might be tried, of a drying
"Let her try a
pamphlets," said Mrs. Cadwallader in an undertone,
seeing the gentlemen
does not want
dear?" said Lady
Chettam, a charming woman, not so quick as to
nullify the pleasure of
bridegroom – Casaubon. He has
certainly been drying up faster since the
engagement: the flame of passion, I
think he is far from having
a good constitution," said Lady Chettam, with a
then his studies –
so very dry, as you say."
the side of Sir James, he
looks like a death's head skinned over for the
my words: in a year from this time that
girl will hate him.
She looks up to him
as an oracle now, and by-and-by she will be at the
fear she is headstrong. But tell
me – you know all about him – is
there anything very bad? What is
"The truth? he
is as bad as the wrong
physic – nasty to take, and sure to disagree."
not be anything worse
than that," said Lady Chettam, with so vivid a
conception of the physic
that she seemed to have learned something exact
about Mr. Casaubon's
"However, James will
hear nothing against Miss Brooke. He
says she is the mirror of women still."
"That is a
generous make-believe of
upon it, he likes little
Celia better, and she appreciates him. I
hope you like my little Celia?"
she is fonder of
geraniums, and seems more docile, though not so
fine a figure.
But we were talking of physic. Tell me
about this new young surgeon, Mr.
am told he is wonderfully
clever: he certainly looks it – a fine brow
"He is a
heard him talking to Humphrey. He talks
Brooke says he is one of the
Lydgates of Northumberland, really well connected. One does
not expect it in a practitioner of
that kind. For
my own part, I like a
medical man more on a footing with the servants;
they are often all the
assure you I found poor
Hicks's judgment unfailing; I never knew him
was coarse and butcher-like, but he knew
It was a loss to me his
going off so suddenly. Dear me,
very animated conversation Miss Brooke seems to be
having with this Mr.
talking cottages and hospitals
with him," said Mrs. Cadwallader, whose ears and
power of interpretation
were quick. "I
believe he is a sort
of philanthropist, so Brooke is sure to take him
Lady Chettam when
her son came near, "bring Mr. Lydgate and
introduce him to me.
I want to test him."
dowager declared herself
delighted with this opportunity of making Mr.
Lydgate's acquaintance, having
heard of his success in treating fever on a new
had the medical accomplishment
of looking perfectly grave whatever nonsense was
talked to him, and his dark
steady eyes gave him impressiveness as a listener. He was
as little as possible like the
lamented Hicks, especially in a certain careless
refinement about his toilet
Yet Lady Chettam gathered
much confidence in him. He
view of her own constitution as being peculiar, by
admitting that all
constitutions might be called peculiar, and he did
not deny that hers might be
more peculiar than others. He did
approve of a too lowering system, including
reckless cupping, nor, on the other
hand, of incessant port wine and bark.
He said "I think so" with an air of so much
accompanying the insight of agreement, that she
formed the most cordial opinion
of his talents.
"I am quite
pleased with your
protege," she said to Mr. Brooke before going
"My protege? –
dear me! – who is
that?" said Mr. Brooke.
Lydgate, the new
doctor.-He seems to me to understand his
he is not my protege,
you know; only I knew an uncle of his who sent me
a letter about him.
However, I think he is likely to be
first-rate – has studied in Paris, knew Broussais;
has ideas, you know – wants
to raise the profession."
lots of ideas, quite new,
about ventilation and diet, that sort of thing,"
resumed Mr. Brooke, after
he had handed out Lady Chettam, and had returned
to be civil to a group of
"Hang it, do
you think that is quite
sound? – upsetting The old treatment, which has
made Englishmen what they
re?" said Mr. Standish.
knowledge is at a low ebb
among us," said Mr. Bulstrode, who spoke in a
subdued tone, and had rather
a sickly wir "I, for my part, hail the advent of
I hope to find good reason for confiding
new hospital to his management."
"That is all
very fine," replied
Mr. Standish, who was not fond of Mr. Bulstrode;
"if you like him to try
experiments on your hospital patients, and kill a
few people for charity I have
But I am not going to hand
money out of my purse to have experiments tried on
like treatment that has been tested a
know, Standish, every dose
you take is an experiment-an experiment, you
know," said Mr. Brooke,
nodding towards the lawyer.
"Oh, if you
talk in that sense!"
said Mr. Standish, with as much disgust at such
non-legal quibbling as a man
can well betray towards a valuable client.
"I should be
glad of any treatment
that would cure me without reducing me to a
skeleton, like poor Grainger,"
said Mr. Vincy, the mayor, a florid man, who would
have served for a study of
flesh in striking contrast with the Franciscan
tints of Mr. Bulstrode. "It's an
uncommonly dangerous thing to
be left without any padding against the shafts of
disease, as somebody said, –
and I think it a very good expression myself."
of course, was out of
had quitted the party early,
and would have thought it altogether tedious but
for the novelty of certain
introductions, especially the introduction to Miss
Brooke, whose youthful
bloom, with her approaching marriage to that faded
scholar, and her interest in
matters socially useful, gave her the piquancy of
an unusual combination.
"She is a good
creature – that fine
girl – but a little too earnest," he thought. "It is
troublesome to talk to such
are always wanting reasons,
yet they are too ignorant to understand the merits
of any question, and usually
fall hack on their moral sense to settle things
after their own taste."
Brooke was not Mr. Lydgate's
style of woman any more than Mr. Chichely's.
Considered, indeed, in relation to
the latter, whose mied was matured, she was
altogether a mistake, and
calculated to shock his trust in final causes,
including the adaptation of fine
young women to purplefaced bachelors.
But Lydgate was less ripe, and might
possibly have experience before him
which would modify his opinion as to the most
excellent things in woman.
however, was not again seen by
either of these gentlemen under her maiden name. Not long
after that dinner-party she had
become Mrs. Casaubon, and was on her way to Rome.
"But deeds and language such as men do use,
And persons such as comedy would choose,
When she would show an image of the times,
And sport with human follies, not with crimes."
fact, was already conscious of
being fascinated by a woman strikingly different
from Miss Brooke: he did not
in the least suppose that he had lost his balance
and fallen in love, but he
had said of that particular woman, "She is grace
itself; she is perfectly
lovely and accomplished. That is
woman ought to be: she ought to produce the effect
of exquisite music."
Plain women he regarded as he did the other severe
facts of life, to be faced
with philosophy and investigated by science.
But Rosamond Vincy seemed to have the true
melodic charm; and when a man
has seen the woman whom he would have chosen if he
had intended to marry
speedily, his remaining a bachelor will usually
depend on her resolution rather
than on his.
Lydgate believed that he
should not marry for several years: not marry
until he had trodden out a good
clear path for himself away from the broad road
which was quite ready
had seen Miss Vincy above his
horizon almost as long as it had taken Mr.
Casaubon to become engaged and
married: but this learned gentleman was possessed
of a fortune; he had
assembled his voluminous notes, and had made that
sort of reputation which
precedes performance, – often the larger part of a
man's fame. He
took a wife, as we have seen, to adorn the
remaining quadrant of his course, and be a little
moon that would cause hardly
a calculable perturbation. But
was young, poor, ambitious. He had
half-century before him instead of behind him, and
he had come to Middlemarch
bent on doing many things that were not directly
fitted to make his fortune or
even secure him a good income. To a man
under such circumstances, taking a wife is
something more than a question of
adornment, however highly he may rate this; and
Lydgate was disposed to give it
the first place among wifely functions.
To his taste, guided by a single
conversation, here was the point on
which Miss Brooke would be found wanting,
notwithstanding her undeniable
did not look at things from
the proper feminine angle. The
of such women was about as relaxing as going from
your work to teach the second
form, instead of reclining in a paradise with
sweet laughs for bird-notes, and
blue eyes for a heaven.
nothing at present could seem
much less important to Lydgate than the turn of
Miss Brooke's mind, or to Miss
Brooke than the qualities of the woman who had
attracted this young
any one watching keenly the
stealthy convergence of human lots, sees a slow
preparation of effects from one
life on another, which tells like a calculated
irony on the indifference or the
frozen stare with which we look at our
unintroduced neighbor. Destiny
stands by sarcastic with our dramatis
personae folded in her hand.
society had its share of
this subtle movement: had not only its striking
downfalls, its brilliant young
professional dandies who ended by living up an
entry with a drab and six
children for their establishment, but also those
less marked vicissitudes which
are constantly shifting the boundaries of social
intercourse, and begetting new
consciousness of interdependence. Some
slipped a little downward, some got higher
footing: people denied aspirates,
gained wealth, and fastidious gentlemen stood for
boroughs; some were caught in
political currents, some in ecclesiastical, and
perhaps found themselves
surprisingly grouped in consequence; while a few
personages or families that
stood with rocky firmness amid all this
fluctuation, were slowly presenting new
aspects in spite of solidity, and altering with
the double change of self and
town and rural
parish gradually made fresh threads of connection
– gradually, as the old
stocking gave way to the savings-bank, and the
worship of the solar guinea
became extinct; while squires and baronets, and
even lords who had once lived
blamelessly afar from the civic mind, gathered the
faultiness of closer
Settlers, too, came
from distant counties, some with an alarming
novelty of skill, others with an
offensive advantage in cunning. In fact,
much the same sort of movement and mixture went on
in old England as we find in
older Herodotus, who also, in telling what had
been, thought it well to take a
woman's lot for his starting-point; though Io, as
a maiden apparently beguiled
by attractive merchandise, was the reverse of Miss
Brooke, and in this respect
perhaps bore more resemblance to Rosamond Vincy,
who had excellent taste in
costume, with that nymph-like figure and pure
blindness which give the largest
range to choice in the flow and color of drapery. But
these things made only part of her charm. She was
admitted to be the flower of Mrs.
Lemon's school, the chief school in the county,
where the teaching included all
that was demanded in the accomplished female –
even to extras, such as the
getting in and out of a carriage. Mrs.
Lemon herself had always held up Miss Vincy as an
example: no pupil, she said,
exceeded that young lady for mental acquisition
and propriety of speech, while
her musical execution was quite exceptional.
We cannot help the way in which people
speak of us, and probably if Mrs.
Lemon had undertaken to describe Juliet or Imogen,
these heroines would not
have seemed poetical. The
of Rosamond would have been enough with most
judges to dispel any prejudice
excited by Mrs. Lemon's praise.
not be long in Middlemarch
without having that agreeable vision, or even
without making the acquaintance
of the Vincy family; for though Mr. Peacock, whose
practice he had paid
something to enter on, had not been their doctor
(Mrs. Vincy not liking the
lowering system adopted by him), he had many
patients among their connections
For who of any
consequence in Middlemarch was not connected or at
least acquainted with the
were old manufacturers, and
had kept a good house for three generations, in
which there had naturally been
much intermarrying with neighbors more or less
Mr. Vincy's sister had made a wealthy match
in accepting Mr. Bulstrode, who, however, as a man
not born in the town, and
altogether of dimly known origin, was considered
to have done well in uniting
himself with a real Middlemarch family; on the
other hand, Mr. Vincy had
descended a little, having taken an innkeeper's
on this side too there was a cheering
sense of money; for Mrs. Vincy's sister had been
second wife to rich old Mr.
Featherstone, and had died childless years ago, so
that her nephews and nieces
might be supposed to touch the affections of the
it happened that Mr. Bulstrode and Mr.
Featherstone, two of Peacock's most important
patients, had, from different
causes, given an especially good reception to his
successor, who had raised
some partisanship as well as discussion.
Mr. Wrench, medical attendant to the Vincy
family, very early had
grounds for thinking lightly of Lydgate's
professional discretion, and there
was no report about him which was not retailed at
the Vincys', where visitors
Mr. Vincy was more
inclined to general good-fellowship than to taking
sides, but there was no need
for him to be hasty in making any new man
Rosamond silently wished that her father
would invite Mr. Lydgate. She was
of the faces and figures she had always been used
to – the various irregular
profiles and gaits and turns of phrase
distinguishing those Middlemarch young
men whom she had known as boys. She had
been at school with girls of higher position,
whose brothers, she felt sure, it
would have been possible for her to be more
interested in, than in these
inevitable Middlemarch companions. But
she would not have chosen to mention her wish to
her father; and he, for his
part, was in no hurry on the subject. An
alderman about to be mayor must by-and-by enlarge
his dinner-parties, but at
present there were plenty of guests at his
often remained covered with the
relics of the family breakfast long after Mr.
Vincy had gone with his second
son to the warehouse, and when Miss Morgan was
already far on in morning
lessons with the younger girls in the schoolroom. It
awaited the family laggard, who found any
sort of inconvenience (to others) less
disagreeable than getting up when he was
was the case one morning of
the October in which we have lately seen Mr.
Casaubon visiting the Grange; and
though the room was a little overheated with the
fire, which had sent the
spaniel panting to a remote corner, Rosamond, for
some reason, continued to sit
at her embroidery longer than usual, now and then
giving herself a little
shake, and laying her work on her knee to
contemplate it with an air of
hesitating weariness. Her
mamma, who had
returned from an excursion to the kitchen, sat on
the other side of the small
work-table with an air of more entire placidity,
until, the clock again giving
notice that it was going to strike, she looked up
from the lace-mending which
was occupying her plump fingers and rang the bell.
"Knock at Mr.
Fred's door again,
Pritchard, and tell him it has struck half-past
This was said
without any change in the
radiant good-humor of Mrs. Vincy's face, in which
forty-five years had delved
neither angles nor parallels; and pushing back her
pink capstrings, she let her
work rest on her lap, while she looked admiringly
at her daughter.
"when Fred comes down I wish you would not let him
have red herrings.
I cannot bear the smell of them all over
house at this hour of the morning."
"Oh, my dear,
you are so hard on your
is the only fault I have to
find with you.
You are the sweetest
temper in the world, but you are so tetchy with
mamma: you never hear me
speak in an unladylike way."
"Well, but you
want to deny them
"Oh, my dear,
you must allow for young
thankful if they have good
woman must learn to put up
with little things.
You will be married
"Not to any
one who is like
your own brother, my
young men have less against
them, although he couldn't take his degree – I'm
sure I can't understand why,
for he seems to me most clever. And you
know yourself he was thought equal to the best
society at college.
So particular as you are, my dear, I wonder
you are not glad to have such a gentlemanly young
man for a brother.
You are always finding fault with Bob
he is not Fred."
"Oh no, mamma,
only because he is
dear, you will not find any
Middlemarch young man who has not something
"But" – here
broke into a smile which suddenly revealed two
herself thought unfavorably of these
dimples and smiled little in general society.
"But I shall not marry any Middlemarch
"So it seems,
my love, for you have as
good as refused the pick of them; and if there's
better to be had, I'm sure
there's no girl better deserves it."
mamma – I wish you would
not say, `the pick of them.'"
else are they?"
mamma, it is rather a vulgar
my dear; I never was a
What should I say?"
"The best of
seems just as plain and
I had had time to think, I
should have said, `the most superior young men.'
But with your education you
Rosy know, mother?"
said Mr. Fred, who had slid in unobserved through
the half-open door while the
ladies were bending over their work, and now going
up to the fire stood with
his back towards it, warming the soles of his
right to say `superior
young men,'" said Mrs. Vincy, ringing the bell.
"Oh, there are
so many superior teas
and sugars now.
Superior is getting to
be shopkeepers' slang."
beginning to dislike slang,
then?" said Rosamond, with mild gravity.
wrong sort. All
choice of words is slang. It marks
correct English: that is not
"I beg your
pardon: correct English is
the slang of prigs who write history and essays. And the
strongest slang of all is the slang
"You will say
anything, Fred, to gain
"Well, tell me
whether it is slang or
poetry to call an ox a leg-plaiter."
"Of course you
can call it poetry if
Rosy, you don't know Homer
from slang. I
shall invent a new game; I
shall write bits of slang and poetry on slips, and
give them to you to
"Dear me, how
amusing it is to hear
young people talk!" said Mrs. Vincy, with cheerful
"Have you got
nothing else for my
breakfast, Pritchard?" said Fred, to the servant
who brought in coffee and
buttered toast; while he walked round the table
surveying the ham, potted beef,
and other cold remnants, with an air of silent
rejection, and polite
forbearance from signs of disgust.
like eggs, sir?"
"Eggs, no! Bring me
a grilled bone."
Fred," said Rosamond,
when the servant had left the room, "if you must
have hot things for
breakfast, I wish you would come down earlier.
You can get up at six o'clock to go out
hunting; I cannot understand why
you find it so difficult to get up on other
"That is your
want of understanding,
can get up to go hunting because
I like it."
you think of me if I came
down two hours after every one else and ordered
think you were an uncommonly
fast young lady," said Fred, eating his toast with
the utmost composure.
"I cannot see
why brothers are to make
themselves disagreeable, any more than sisters."
"I don't make
myself disagreeable; it
is you who find me so. Disagreeable
word that describes your feelings and not my
"I think it
describes the smell of
"Not at all. It
describes a sensation in your little nose
associated with certain finicking notions which
are the classics of Mrs.
Look at my mother you don't
see her objecting to everything except what she
She is my notion of a pleasant woman."
both, my dears, and don't
quarrel," said Mrs. Vincy, with motherly
Fred, tell us all about the new
is your uncle pleased with
I think. He
asks Lydgate all sorts of questions and
then screws up his face while he hears the
answers, as if they were pinching
his toes. That's
his way. Ah,
here comes my grilled bone."
"But how came
you to stay out so late,
my dear? You
only said you were going to
"Oh, I dined
at Plymdale's. We had
was there too."
"And what do
you think of him?
He is very gentlemanly, I suppose. They say
he is of excellent family – his
relations quite county people."
was a Lydgate at John's who spent
no end of money.
I find this man is a
second cousin of his. But rich
have very poor devils for second cousins."
makes a difference, though,
to be of good family," said Rosamond, with a tone
of decision which showed
that she had thought on this subject.
Rosamond felt that she might have been
happier if she had not been the
daughter of a Middlemarch manufacturer.
She disliked anything which reminded her
that her mother's father had
been an innkeeper.
Certainly any one
remembering the fact might think that Mrs. Vincy
had the air of a very handsome
good-humored landlady, accustomed to the most
capricious orders of gentlemen.
"I thought it
was odd his name was
Tertius," said the bright-faced matron, "but of
course it's a name in
the family. But
now, tell us exactly
what sort of man he is."
dark, clever – talks
well – rather a prig, I think."
"I never can
make out what you mean by
a prig," said Rosamond.
"A fellow who
wants to show that he
"Why, my dear,
doctors must have
opinions," said Mrs. Vincy.
"What are they there for else?"
the opinions they are
paid for. But
a prig is a fellow who is
always making you a present of his opinions."
Mary Garth admires Mr.
Lydgate," said Rosamond, not without a touch of
can't say." said Fred,
rather glumly, as he left the table, and taking up
a novel which he had brought
down with him, threw himself into an arm-chair.
"If you are jealous of
her, go oftener to Stone Court yourself and
"I wish you
would not be so vulgar,
you have finished, pray ring
"It is true,
though – what your
brother says, Rosamond," Mrs. Vincy began, when
the servant had cleared
the table. "It
is a thousand pities
you haven't patience to go and see your uncle
more, so proud of you as he is,
and wanted you to live with him. There's
no knowing what he might have done for you as well
as for Fred.
God knows, I'm fond of having you at home
with me, but I can part with my children for their
now it stands to reason that your uncle
Featherstone will do something for Mary Garth."
can bear being at Stone
Court, because she likes that better than being a
Rosamond, folding up her work. "I
would rather not have anything left to me if I
must earn it by enduring much of
my uncle's cough and his ugly relations."
"He can't be
long for this world, my
dear; I wouldn't hasten his end, but what with
asthma and that inward
complaint, let us hope there is something better
for him in another.
And I have no ill-will toward's Mary Garth,
but there's justice to be thought of.
And Mr. Featherstone's first wife brought
him no money, as my sister
nieces and nephews can't have
so much claim as my sister's. And I must say I
think Mary Garth a dreadful
plain girl – more fit for a governess."
would not agree with you
there, mother," said Fred, who seemed to be able
to read and listen too.
dear," said Mrs. Vincy,
wheeling skilfully, "if she HAD some fortune left
her, – a man marries his
wife's relations, and the Garths are so poor, and
live in such a small
I shall leave you to your
studies, my dear; for I must go and do some
studies are not very
deep," said Rosamond, rising with her mamma, "he
is only reading a
by-and-by he'll go to his
Latin and things," said Mrs. Vincy, soothingly,
stroking her son's
a fire in the
smoking-room on purpose. It's
father's wish, you know – Fred, my dear – and I
always tell him you will be
good, and go to college again to take your
Fred drew his
mother's hand down to his
lips, but said nothing.
"I suppose you
are not going out
riding to-day?" said Rosamond, lingering a little
after her mamma was
"Papa says I
may have the chestnut to
"You can go
with me to-morrow, if you
I am going to Stone Court,
"I want to
ride so much, it is
indifferent to me where we go." Rosamond really
wished to go to Stone
Court, of all other places.
"Oh, I say,
Rosy," said Fred, as
she was passing out of the room, "if you are going
to the piano, let me
come and play some airs with you."
"Pray do not
ask me this
"Why not this
I wish you would leave
off playing the flute. A man
silly playing the flute. And you
out of tune."
"When next any
one makes love to you,
Miss Rosamond, I will tell him how obliging you
you expect me to oblige
you by hearing you play the flute, any more than I
should expect you to oblige
me by not playing it?"
should you expect me to take
you out riding?"
led to an adjustment, for
Rosamond had set her mind on that particular ride.
So Fred was
gratified with nearly an hour's
practice of "Ar hyd y nos," "Ye banks and braes,"
favorite airs from his "Instructor on the Flute;"
performance, into which he threw much ambition and
"He had more tow on his distaffe
Than Gerveis knew."
The ride to
Stone Court, which Fred and
Rosamond took the next morning, lay through a
pretty bit of midland landscape,
almost all meadows and pastures, with hedgerows
still allowed to grow in bushy
beauty and to spread out coral fruit for the
details gave each field a particular
physiognomy, dear to the eyes that have looked on
them from childhood: the pool
in the corner where the grasses were dank and
trees leaned whisperingly; the
great oak shadowing a bare place in mid-pasture;
the high bank where the
ash-trees grew; the sudden slope of the old
marl-pit making a red background
for the burdock; the huddled roofs and ricks of
the homestead without a
traceable way of approach; the gray gate and
fences against the depths of the
bordering wood; and the stray hovel, its old, old
thatch full of mossy hills
and valleys with wondrous modulations of light and
shadow such as we travel far
to see in later life, and see larger, but not more
are the things that make the gamut of
joy in landscape to midland-bred souls – the
things they toddled among, or
perhaps learned by heart standing between their
father's knees while he drove
But the road,
even the byroad, was
excellent; for Lowick, as we have seen, was not a
parish of muddy lanes and
poor tenants; and it was into Lowick parish that
Fred and Rosamond entered
after a couple of miles' riding. Another
mile would bring them to Stone Court, and at the
end of the first half, the
house was already visible, looking as if it had
been arrested in its growth
toward a stone mansion by an unexpected budding of
farm-buildings on its left
flank, which had hindered it from becoming
anything more than the substantial
dwelling of a gentleman farmer. It was
the less agreeable an object in the distance for
the cluster of pinnacled corn-ricks
which balanced the fine row of walnuts on the
was possible to discern
something that might be a gig on the circular
drive before the front door.
said Rosamond, "I
hope none of my uncle's horrible relations are
is Mrs. Waule's gig – the last yellow
gig left, I should think. When I
Mrs. Waule in it, I understand how yellow can have
been worn for mourning. That gig
seems to me more funereal than a
then Mrs. Waule always has
black crape on.
How does she manage it,
friends can't always be
"I don't know
at all. And
she is not in the least
evangelical," said Rosamond, reflectively, as if
that religious point of
view would have fully accounted for perpetual
not poor," she added, after a
are as rich as Jews, those Waules and
Featherstones; I mean, for people like them, who
don't want to spend
yet they hang about my
uncle like vultures, and are afraid of a farthing
going away from their side of
the family. But
I believe he hates them
The Mrs. Waule
who was so far from being
admirable in the eyes of these distant
connections, had happened to say this
very morning (not at all with a defiant air, but
in a low, muffied, neutral
tone, as of a voice heard through cotton wool)
that she did not wish "to
enjoy their good opinion." She was seated, as she
observed, on her own
brother's hearth, and had been Jane Featherstone
five-and-twenty years before
she had been Jane Waule, which entitled her to
speak when her own brother's
name had been made free with by those who had no
right to it.
"What are you
driving at there?"
said Mr. Featherstone, holding his stick between
his knees and settling his
wig, while he gave her a momentary sharp glance,
which seemed to react on him
like a draught of cold air and set him coughing.
Mrs. Waule had
to defer her answer till he
was quiet again, till Mary Garth had supplied him
with fresh syrup, and he had
begun to rub the gold knob of his stick, looking
bitterly at the fire. It was a
bright fire, but it made no
difference to the chill-looking purplish tint of
Mrs. Waule's face, which was
as neutral as her voice; having mere chinks for
eyes, and lips that hardly
moved in speaking.
can't master that cough,
just like what I have; for
I'm your own sister, constitution and everything. But, as
I was saying, it's a pity Mrs. Vincy's
family can't be better conducted."
said nothing o' the
said somebody had made free
with my name."
"And no more
than can be proved, if
what everybody says is true. My
Solomon tells me it's the talk up and down in
Middlemarch how unsteady young
Vincy is, and has been forever gambling at
billiards since home he came."
"Nonsense! What's a
game at billiards?
It's a good gentlemanly game; and young
is not a clodhopper.
If your son John
took to billiards, now, he'd make a fool of
John never took to
billiards or any other game, brother, and is far
from losing hundreds of
pounds, which, if what everybody says is true,
must be found somewhere else
than out of Mr. Vincy the father's pocket.
For they say he's been losing money for
years, though nobody would think
so, to see him go coursing and keeping open house
as they do. And
I've heard say Mr. Bulstrode condemns
Mrs. Vincy beyond anything for her flightiness,
and spoiling her children
Bulstrode to me?
I don't bank with him."
Bulstrode is Mr. Vincy's
own sister, and they do say that Mr. Vincy mostly
trades on the Bank money; and
you may see yourself, brother, when a woman past
forty has pink strings always
flying, and that light way of laughing at
everything, it's very
indulging your children
is one thing, and finding money to pay their debts
is another. And
it's openly said that young Vincy has
raised money on his expectations. I
don't say what expectations. Miss
hears me, and is welcome to tell again.
I know young people hang together."
you, Mrs. Waule," said
Mary Garth. "I
scandal too much to wish to repeat it."
Featherstone rubbed the knob of his
stick and made a brief convulsive show of
laughter, which had much the same
genuineness as an old whist-player's chuckle over
a bad hand. Still
looking at the fire, he said –
pretends to say Fred Vincy
hasn't got expectations? Such a
spirited fellow is like enough to have 'em."
There was a
slight pause before Mrs. Waule
replied, and when she did so, her voice seemed to
be slightly moistened with
tears, though her face was still dry.
no, brother, it is
naturally painful to me and my brother Solomon to
hear your name made free
with, and your complaint being such as may carry
you off sudden, and people who
are no more Featherstones than the Merry-Andrew at
the fair, openly reckoning
on your property coming to THEM. And me
your own sister, and Solomon your own brother!
And if that's to be it, what has it pleased
the Almighty to make
families for?" Here Mrs. Waule's tears fell, but
with it, Jane!" said
Mr. Featherstone, looking at her.
"You mean to say, Fred Vincy has been
getting somebody to advance
him money on what he says he knows about my will,
"I never said
so, brother" (Mrs.
Waule's voice had again become dry and unshaken).
"It was told me by my
brother Solomon last night when he called coming
from market to give me advice
about the old wheat, me being a widow, and my son
John only three-and-twenty,
though steady beyond anything. And he
had it from most undeniable authority, and not
one, but many."
don't believe a word of it. It's all
a got-up story.
Go to the window, missy; I thought I heard
if the doctor's coming."
"Not got up by
me, brother, nor yet by
Solomon, who, whatever else he may be – and I
don't deny he has oddities – has
made his will and parted his property equal
between such kin as he's friends
with; though, for my part, I think there are times
when some should be
considered more than others. But
makes it no secret what he means to do."
"The more fool
he!" said Mr.
Featherstone, with some difficulty; breaking into
a severe fit of coughing that
required Mary Garth to stand near him, so that she
did not find out whose
horses they were which presently paused stamping
on the gravel before the door.
Featherstone's cough was quiet,
Rosamond entered, bearing up her riding-habit with
much grace. She
bowed ceremoniously to Mrs. Waule, who
said stiffly, "How do you do, miss?" smiled and
nodded silently to
Mary, and remained standing till the coughing
should cease, and allow her uncle
to notice her.
miss!" he said at last,
"you have a fine color. Where's
the horses. He
will be in presently."
"Sit down, sit
Waule, you'd better go." Even
those neighbors who had called Peter
Featherstone an old fox, had never accused him of
being insincerely polite, and
his sister was quite used to the peculiar absence
of ceremony with which he
marked his sense of blood-relationship. Indeed,
she herself was accustomed to
think that entire freedom from the necessity of
behaving agreeably was included
in the Almighty's intentions about families.
She rose slowly without any sign of
resentment, and said in her usual
muffled monotone, "Brother, I hope the new doctor
will be able to do
something for you.
Solomon says there's
great talk of his cleverness. I'm sure
it's my wish you should be spared. And
there's none more ready to nurse you than your own
sister and your own nieces,
if you'd only say the word. There's
Rebecca, and Joanna, and Elizabeth, you know."
"Ay, ay, I
remember – you'll see I've
remembered 'em all – all dark and ugly.
They'd need have some money, eh?
There never was any beauty in the women of
our family; but the
Featherstones have always had some money, and the
Waules too. Waule
had money too.
A warm man was Waule. Ay, ay;
money's a good egg; and if you 've
got money to leave behind you, lay it in a warm
Mrs. Waule." Here Mr.
Featherstone pulled at both sides of his wig as if
he wanted to deafen himself,
and his sister went away ruminating on this
oracular speech of his. Notwithstanding
her jealousy of the Vincys
and of Mary Garth, there remained as the
nethermost sediment in her mental
shallows a persuasion that her brother Peter
Featherstone could never leave his
chief property away from his blood-relations: –
else, why had the Almighty
carried off his two wives both childless, after he
had gained so much by
manganese and things, turning up when nobody
expected it? – and why was there a
Lowick parish church, and the Waules and
Powderells all sit ting in the same
pew for generations, and the Featherstone pew next
to them, if, the Sunday
after her brother Peter's death, everybody was to
know that the property was
gone out of the family? The
has at no period accepted a moral chaos; and so
preposterous a result was not
strictly conceivable. But we
frightened at much that is not strictly
When Fred came
in the old man eyed him with
a peculiar twinkle, which the younger had often
had reason to interpret as
pride in the satisfactory details of his
misses go away," said
"I want to speak
"Come into my
room, Rosamond, you will
not mind the cold for a little while," said Mary. The two
girls had not only known each other
in childhood, but had been at the same provincial
school together (Mary as an
articled pupil), so that they had many memories in
common, and liked very well
to talk in private.
tete-a-tete was one of Rosamond's objects in
coming to Stone Court.
Featherstone would not begin the
dialogue till the door had been closed.
He continued to look at Fred with the same
twinkle and with one of his
habitual grimaces, alternately screwing and
widening his mouth; and when he
spoke, it was in a low tone, which might be taken
for that of an informer ready
to be bought off, rather than for the tone of an
He was not a man to feel any strong moral
indignation even on account of trespasses against
was natural that others should want to get
an advantage over him, but then, he was a little
too cunning for them.
you've been paying ten per
cent for money which you've promised to pay off by
mortgaging my land when I'm
dead and gone, eh?
You put my life at a
But I can alter my
Fred blushed. He had
not borrowed money in that way, for
But he was conscious
of having spoken with some confidence (perhaps
with more than he exactly remembered)
about his prospect of getting Featherstone's land
as a future means of paying
"I don't know
what you refer to,
have certainly never borrowed any
money on such an insecurity. Please
"No, sir, it's
you must explain.
I can alter my will yet, let me tell
of sound mind – can reckon
compound interest in my head, and remember every
fool's name as well as I could
twenty years ago.
What the deuce? I'm
I say, you must contradict this story."
contradicted it, sir,"
Fred answered, with a touch of impatience, not
remembering that his uncle did
not verbally discriminate contradicting from
disproving, though no one was
further from confounding the two ideas than old
Featherstone, who often
wondered that so many fools took his own
assertions for proofs. "But I
contradict it again.
The story is a silly lie."
authority, and make him name
the man of whom I borrowed the money, and then I
can disprove the story."
good authority, I think –
a man who knows most of what goes on in
It's that fine, religious, charitable uncle
o' yours. Come
now!" Here Mr. Featherstone
had his peculiar inward shake which signified
story has grown into this
lie out of some sermonizing words he may have let
fall about me.
Do they pretend that he named the man who
lent me the money?"
"If there is
such a man, depend upon
it Bulstrode knows him. But,
you only tried to get the money lent, and didn't
get it – Bulstrode 'ud know
that too. You
bring me a writing from
Bulstrode to say he doesn't believe you've ever
promised to pay your debts out
o' my land. Come
Featherstone's face required its whole
scale of grimaces as a muscular outlet to his
silent triumph in the soundness
of his faculties.
himself to be in a disgusting
"You must be
Mr. Bulstrode, like other men, believes
scores of things that are not true, and he has a
prejudice against me. I could
easily get him to write that he knew
no facts in proof of the report you speak of,
though it might lead to
But I could hardly ask
him to write down what he believes or does not
believe about me." Fred
paused an instant, and then added, in politic
appeal to his uncle's vanity,
"That is hardly a thing for a gentleman to ask."
But he was
disappointed in the result.
"Ay, I know
what you mean.
You'd sooner offend me than Bulstrode. And
what's he? – he's got no land hereabout
that ever I heard tell of. A
He may come down
any day, when the devil leaves off backing him.
And that's what his religion means: he
wants God A'mighty to come in. That's
one thing I made out pretty clear
when I used to go to church – and it's this: God
A'mighty sticks to the
promises land, and He gives
land, and He makes chaps rich with corn and
you take the other side. You like
Bulstrode and speckilation better
than Featherstone and land."
"I beg your
pardon, sir," said
Fred, rising, standing with his back to the fire
and beating his boot with his
like neither Bulstrode nor
speculation." He spoke rather sulkily, feeling
you can do without me,
that's pretty clear," said old Featherstone,
secretly disliking the
possibility that Fred would show himself at all
"You neither want a bit of land to make
a squire of you instead of a starving parson, nor
a lift of a hundred pound by
the way. It's
all one to me.
I can make five codicils if I like, and I
shall keep my bank-notes for a nest-egg. It's all
one to me."
had rarely given him presents of
money, and at this moment it seemed almost harder
to part with the immediate
prospect of bank-notes than with the more distant
prospect of the land.
"I am not
I never meant to show disregard for any
intentions you might have towards me. On
"Very good. Then
prove it. You
bring me a letter from Bulstrode saying
he doesn't believe you've been cracking and
promising to pay your debts out o'
my land, and then, if there's any scrape you've
got into, we'll see if I can't
back you a bit.
That's a bargain. Here,
give me your arm.
I'll try and walk round the room."
Fred, in spite
of his irritation, had
kindness enough in him to be a little sorry for
the unloved, unvenerated old
man, who with his dropsical legs looked more than
usually pitiable in
giving his arm, he
thought that he should not himself like to be an
old fellow with his
constitution breaking up; and he waited
good-temperedly, first before the
window to hear the wonted remarks about the
guinea-fowls and the weather-cock,
and then before the scanty book-shelves, of which
the chief glories in dark
calf were Josephus, Culpepper, Klopstock's
"Messiah," and several
volumes of the "Gentleman's Magazine."
"Read me the
names o' the books.
Come now! you're a college man." Fred
gave him the titles.
missy want with more
must you be bringing her
more books for?"
her, sir. She
is very fond of reading."
"A little too
fond," said Mr.
Featherstone, captiously. "She was
for reading when she sat with me. But I
a stop to that.
She's got the newspaper
to read out loud.
That's enough for one
day, I should think.
I can't abide to
see her reading to herself. You mind
not bring her any more books, do you hear?"
"Yes, sir, I
hear." Fred had
received this order before, and had secretly
He intended to disobey it again.
bell," said Mr.
Featherstone; "I want missy to come down."
Mary had been talking faster
than their male friends. They did
think of sitting down, but stood at the
toilet-table near the window while
Rosamond took off her hat, adjusted her veil, and
applied little touches of her
finger-tips to her hair – hair of infantine
fairness, neither flaxen nor
Garth seemed all the
plainer standing at an angle between the two
nymphs – the one in the glass, and
the one out of it, who looked at each other with
eyes of heavenly blue, deep
enough to hold the most exquisite meanings an
ingenious beholder could put into
them, and deep enough to hide the meanings of the
owner if these should happen
to be less exquisite. Only a
children in Middlemarch looked blond by the side
of Rosamond, and the slim
figure displayed by her riding-habit had delicate
In fact, most men in Middlemarch, except
brothers, held that Miss Vincy was the best girl
in the world, and some called
her an angel.
Mary Garth, on the
contrary, had the aspect of an ordinary sinner:
she was brown; her curly dark
hair was rough and stubborn; her stature was low;
and it would not be true to
declare, in satisfactory antithesis, that she had
all the virtues.
Plainness has its peculiar temptations and
vices quite as much as beauty; it is apt either to
feign amiability, or, not
feigning it, to show all the repulsive ness of
discontent: at any rate, to be
called an ugly thing in contrast with that lovely
creature your companion, is
apt to produce some effect beyond a sense of fine
veracity and fitness in the
the age of two-and-twenty
Mary had certainly not attained that perfect good
sense and good principle
which are usually recommended to the less
fortunate girl, as if they were to be
obtained in quantities ready mixed, with a flavor
of resignation as
shrewdness had a streak of
satiric bitterness continually renewed and never
carried utterly out of sight,
except by a strong current of gratitude towards
those who, instead of telling
her that she ought to be contented, did something
to make her so.
Advancing womanhood had tempered her
plainness, which was of a good human sort, such as
the mothers of our race have
very commonly worn in all latitudes under a more
or less becoming
would have painted
her with pleasure, and would have made her broad
features look out of the
canvas with intelligent honesty. For
honesty, truth-telling fairness, was Mary's
reigning virtue: she neither tried
to create illusions, nor indulged in them for her
own behoof, and when she was
in a good mood she had humor enough in her to
laugh at herself.
When she and Rosamond happened both to be
reflected in the glass, she said, laughingly –
"What a brown
patch I am by the side
of you, Rosy!
You are the most
"Oh no! No one
thinks of your appearance, you are so
sensible and useful, Mary. Beauty
very little consequence in reality," said
Rosamond, turning her head towards
Mary, but with eyes swerving towards the new view
of her neck in the glass.
"You mean my
beauty," said Mary,
thought, "Poor Mary, she takes
the kindest things ill." Aloud she said, "What
have you been doing
Oh, minding the house – pouring out syrup –
pretending to be amiable and
contented – learning to have a bad opinion of
"It is a
wretched life for you."
Mary, curtly, with a
little toss of her head. "I think
my life is pleasanter than your Miss Morgan's."
"Yes; but Miss
Morgan is so
uninteresting, and not young."
interesting to herself, I
suppose; and I am not at all sure that everything
gets easier as one gets
reflectively; "one wonders what such people do,
without any prospect. To be
sure, there is religion as a
she added, dimpling,
"it is very different with you,'Mary. You may have
"Has any one
told you he means to make
mean, there is a gentleman who may fall in
love with you, seeing you almost every day."
change in Mary's face was chiefly
determined by the resolve not to show any change.
always make people fall in
love?" she answered, carelessly; "it seems to me
quite as often a
reason for detesting each other."
"Not when they
are interesting and
hear that Mr. Lydgate is
Lydgate!" said Mary,
with an unmistakable lapse into indifference.
"You want to know something about him," she
choosing to indulge Rosamond's indirectness.
you like him."
"There is no
question of liking at
liking always wants some
little kindness to kindle it. I am not
magnanimous enough to like people who speak to me
without seeming to see
"Is he so
Rosamond, with heightened satisfaction.
"You know that he is of good family?"
"No; he did
not give that as a
"Mary! you are
the oddest girl.
But what sort of looking man is he? Describe
him to me."
"How can one
describe a man?
I can give you an inventory: heavy
dark eyes, a straight nose, thick dark hair, large
solid white hands – and –
let me see – oh, an exquisite cambric
pocket-handkerchief. But you will see
know this is about the time of
blushed a little, but said,
meditatively, "I rather like a haughty manner. I cannot
endure a rattling young man."
"I did not
tell you that Mr. Lydgate
was haughty; but il y en a pour tous les gouts, as
little Mamselle used to say,
and if any girl can choose the particular sort of
conceit she would like, I
should think it is you, Rosy."
is not conceit; I call
"I wish no one
said any worse of
should be more careful. Mrs.
Waule has been telling uncle that Fred
is very unsteady." Mary spoke from a girlish
impulse which got the better
of her judgment.
There was a vague
uneasiness associated with the word "unsteady"
which she hoped
Rosamond might say something to dissipate.
But she purposely abstained from mentioning
Mrs. Waule's more special
"Oh, Fred is
would not have allowed
herself so unsuitable a word to any one but Mary.
"What do you
mean by horrid?"
"He is so
idle, and makes papa so
angry, and says he will not take orders."
"I think Fred
is quite right."
"How can you
say he is quite right,
thought you had more sense of
"He is not fit
to be a
"But he ought
to be fit." –
"Well, then, he is not what he ought to be. I know
some other people who are in the same
"But no one
approves of them.
I should not like to marry a clergyman; but
there must be clergymen."
"It does not
follow that Fred must be
"But when papa
has been at the expense
of educating him for it! And only suppose, if he
should have no fortune left
"I can suppose
that very well,"
said Mary, dryly.
"Then I wonder
you can defend
Fred," said Rosamond, inclined to push this point.
defend him," said Mary,
laughing; "I would defend any parish from having
him for a
"But of course
if he were a clergyman,
he must be different."
"Yes, he would
be a great hypocrite;
and he is not that yet."
"It is of no
use saying anything to
you, Mary. You
always take Fred's
"Why should I
not take his part?"
said Mary, lighting up. "He
take mine. He
is the only person who
takes the least trouble to oblige me."
"You make me
feel very uncomfortable,
Mary," said Rosamond, with her gravest mildness;
"I would not tell
mamma for the world."
you not tell her?"
said Mary, angrily.
"Pray do not
go into a rage,
Mary," said Rosamond, mildly as ever.
"If your mamma
is afraid that Fred
will make me an offer, tell her that I would not
marry him if he asked me. But he
is not going to do so, that I am
certainly never has asked
"Mary, you are
"And you are
What can you blame me for?"
people are always the
There is the bell – I
think we must go down."
"I did not
mean to quarrel," said
Rosamond, putting on her hat.
we have not quarrelled. If one
is not to get into a rage sometimes,
what is the good of being friends?"
"Am I to
repeat what you have
said?" "Just as you please. I
never say what I am afraid of having repeated.
But let us go down."
was rather late this morning,
but the visitors stayed long enough to see him;
for Mr. Featherstone asked
Rosamond to sing to him, and she herself was-so
kind as to propose a second
favorite song of his – "Flow on, thou shining
river" – after she had
sung "Home, sweet home" (which she detested). This
Overreach approved of the sentimental song, as the
suitable garnish for girls,
and also as fundamentally fine, sentiment being
the right thing for a song.
Featherstone was still applauding the
last performance, and assuring missy that her
voice was as clear as a
blackbird's, when Mr. Lydgate's horse passed the
expectation of the usual
disagreeable routine with an aged patient – who
can hardly believe that
medicine would not "set him up" if the doctor were
only clever enough
– added to his general disbelief in Middlemarch
charms, made a doubly effective
background to this vision of Rosamond, whom old
Featherstone made haste
ostentatiously to introduce as his niece, though
he had never thought it worth
while to speak of Mary Garth in that light.
Nothing escaped Lydgate in Rosamond's
graceful behavior: how delicately
she waived the notice which the old man's want of
taste had thrust upon her by
a quiet gravity, not showing her dimples on the
wrong occasion, but showing
them afterwards in speaking to Mary, to whom she
addressed herself with so much
good-natured interest, that Lydgate, after quickly
examining Mary more fully
than he had done before, saw an adorable kindness
in Rosamond's eyes.
But Mary from some cause looked rather out
"Miss Rosy has
been singing me a song
– you've nothing to say against that, eh, doctor?"
"I like it better
than your physic."
"That has made
me forget how the time
was going," said Rosamond, rising to reach her
hat, which she had laid
aside before singing, so that her flower-like head
on its white stem was seen
in perfection above-her riding-habit. "Fred, we
must really go."
said Fred, who had
his own reasons for not being in the best spirits,
and wanted to get away.
"Miss Vincy is
a musician?" said
Lydgate, following her with his eyes.
(Every nerve and muscle in Rosamond was
adjusted to the consciousness
that she was being looked at. She was
nature an actress of parts that entered into her
physique: she even acted her
own character, and so well, that she did not know
it to be precisely her own.)
"The best in
Middlemarch, I'll be
bound," said Mr. Featherstone, "let the next be
who she will.
Speak up for your sister."
I'm out of court,
evidence would be good for
has not a very high
standard, uncle," said Rosamond, with a pretty
lightness, going towards
her whip, which lay at a distance.
quick in anticipating her. He
reached the whip before she did, and
turned to present it to her. She
and looked at him: he of course was looking at
her, and their eyes met with
that peculiar meeting which is never arrived at by
effort, but seems like a
sudden divine clearance of haze. I think
Lydgate turned a little paler than usual, but
Rosamond blushed deeply and felt
a certain astonishment. After
was really anxious to go, and did not know what
sort of stupidity her uncle was
talking of when she went to shake hands with him.
result, which she took to be a
mutual impression, called falling in love, was
just what Rosamond had
contemplated beforehand. Ever
important new arrival in Middlemarch she had woven
a little future, of which
something like this scene was the necessary
whether wrecked and clinging to a
raft, or duly escorted and accompanied by
portmanteaus, have always had a
circumstantial fascination for the virgin mind,
against which native merit has
urged itself in vain. And a
absolutely necessary to Rosamond's social romance,
which had always turned on a
lover and bridegroom who was not a Middlemarcher,
and who had no connections at
all like her own: of late, indeed, the
construction seemed to demand that he
should somehow be related to a baronet.
Now that she and the stranger had met,
reality proved much more moving
than anticipation, and Rosamond could not doubt
that this was the great epoch
of her life.
She judged of her own
symptoms as those of awakening love, and she held
it still more natural that
Mr. Lydgate should have fallen in love at first
sight of her.
These things happened so often at balls,
why not by the morning light, when the complexion
showed all the better for
though no older than Mary,
was rather used to being fallen in love with; but
she, for her part, had
remained indifferent and fastidiously critical
towards both fresh sprig and
And here was Mr. Lydgate
suddenly corresponding to her ideal, being
altogether foreign to Middlemarch,
carrying a certain air of distinction congruous
with good family, and
possessing connections which offered vistas of
that middle-class heaven, rank:
a man of talent, also, whom it would be especially
delightful to enslave: in
fact, a man who had touched her nature quite
newly, and brought a vivid
interest into her life which was better than any
such as she was in the habit of opposing to the
riding home, both the brother and
the sister were preoccupied and inclined to be
whose basis for her structure had
the usual airy slightness, was of remarkably
detailed and realistic imagination
when the foundation had been once presupposed; and
before they had ridden a
mile she was far on in the costume and
introductions of her wedded life, having
determined on her house in Middle-march, and
foreseen the visits she would pay
to her husband's high-bred relatives at a
distance, whose finished manners she
could appropriate as thoroughly as she had done
her school accomplishments,
preparing herself thus for vaguer elevations which
might ultimately come. There
was nothing financial, still less
sordid, in her previsions: she cared about what
were considered refinements,
and not about the money that was to pay for them.
on the other hand, was busy
with an anxiety which even his ready hopefulness
could not immediately
saw no way of eluding
Featherstone's stupid demand without incurring
consequences which he liked less
even than the task of fulfilling it. His
father was already out of humor with him, and
would be still more so if he were
the occasion of any additional coolness between
his own family and the Bulstrodes. Then, he
himself hated having to go and speak
to his uncle Bulstrode, and perhaps after drinking
wine he had said many
foolish things about Featherstone's property, and
these had been magnified by
felt that he made a
wretched figure as a fellow who bragged about
expectations from a queer old
miser like Featherstone, and went to beg for
certificates at his bidding. But –
He really had them, and he saw no agreeable
alternative if he gave them up; besides, he had
lately made a debt which galled
him extremely, and old Featherstone had almost
bargained to pay it off. The
whole affair was miserably small: his
debts were small, even his expectations were not
anything so very
Fred had known men to whom
he would have been ashamed of confessing the
smallness of his scrapes. Such
ruminations naturally produced a streak
of misanthropic bitterness. To be
the son of a Middlemarch manufacturer, and
inevitable heir to nothing in
particular, while such men as Mainwaring and Vyan
– certainly life was a poor
business, when a spirited young fellow, with a
good appetite for the best of
everything, had so poor an outlook.
It had not
occurred to Fred that the
introduction of Bulstrode's name in the matter was
a fiction of old
Featherstone's; nor could this have made any
difference to his position. He saw
plainly enough that the old man wanted
to exercise his power by tormenting him a little,
and also probably to get some
satisfaction out of seeing him on unpleasant terms
Fred fancied that he saw to the bottom of
uncle Featherstone's soul, though in reality half
what he saw there was no more
than the reflex of his own inclinations.
The difficult task of knowing another soul
is not for young gentlemen
whose consciousness is chiefly made up of their
point of debate with himself
was, whether he should tell his father, or try to
get through the affair
without his father's knowledge. It was
probably Mrs. Waule who had been talking about
him; and if Mary Garth had
repeated Mrs. Waule's report to Rosamond, it would
be sure to reach his father,
who would as surely question him about it.
He said to Rosamond, as they slackened
their pace –
Mary tell you that Mrs.
Waule had said anything about me?"
"That you were
think that was enough,
"You are sure
she said no more?"
mentioned nothing else. But
really, Fred, I think you ought to be
"Oh, fudge! Don't
lecture me. What
did Mary say about it?"
"I am not
obliged to tell you.
You care so very much what Mary says, and
are too rude to allow me to speak."
"Of course I
care what Mary says.
She is the best girl I know."
never have thought she was a
girl to fall in love with."
"How do you
know what men would fall
in love with?
Girls never know."
Fred, let me advise YOU not
to fall in love with her, for she says she would
not marry you if you asked
have waited till I did ask
"I knew it
would nettle you,
"Not at all. She
would not have said so if you had not
provoked her." Before reaching home, Fred
concluded that he would tell the
whole affair as simply as possible to his father,
who might perhaps take on
himself the unpleasant business of speaking to
1st Gent. How class your man? – as better than the most,
Or, seeming better, worse beneath that cloak?
As saint or knave, pilgrim or hypocrite?
2d Gent. Nay, tell me how you class your wealth of books
The drifted relics of all time.
As well sort them at once by size and livery:
Vellum, tall copies, and the common calf
Will hardly cover more diversity
Than all your labels cunningly devised
To class your
of what he had heard from
Fred, Mr. Vincy determined to speak with Mr.
Bulstrode in his private room at
the Bank at half-past one, when he was usually
free from other callers. But a
visitor had come in at one o'clock, and
Mr. Bulstrode had so much to say to him, that
there was little chance of the
interview being over in half an hour.
The banker's speech was fluent, but it was
also copious, and he used up
an appreciable amount of time in brief meditative
not imagine his sickly aspect to have been
of the yellow, black-haired sort: he had
a pale blond skin, thin gray-besprinkled brown
hair, light-gray eyes, and a
Loud men called his
subdued tone an undertone, and sometimes implied
that it was inconsistent with
openness; though there seems to be no reason why a
loud man should not be given
to concealment of anything except his own voice,
unless it can be shown that
Holy Writ has placed the seat of candor in the
Bulstrode had also a deferential bending
attitude in listening, and an apparently fixed
attentiveness in his eyes which
made those persons who thought themselves worth
hearing infer that he was
seeking the utmost improvement from their
who expected to make no great figure,
disliked this kind of moral lantern turned on
you are not proud of your cellar, there is
no thrill of satisfaction in seeing your guest
hold up his wine-glass to the
light and look judicial. Such
reserved for conscious merit. Hence
Bulstrode's close attention was not agreeable to
the publicans and sinners in
Middlemarch; it was attributed by some to his
being a Pharisee, and by others
to his being Evangelical. Less
superficial reasoners among them wished to know
who his father and grandfather
were, observing that five-and-twenty years ago
nobody had ever heard of a
Bulstrode in Middlemarch. To his
visitor, Lydgate, the scrutinizing look was a
matter of indifference: he
simply formed an unfavorable opinion of
the banker's constitution, and concluded that he
had an eager inward life with
little enjoyment of tangible things.
"I shall be
exceedingly obliged if you
will look in on me here occasionally, Mr.
Lydgate," the banker observed,
after a brief pause.
"If, as I dare
to hope, I have the privilege of finding you a
valuable coadjutor in the
interesting matter of hospital management, there
will be many questions which
we shall need to discuss in private. As
to the new hospital, which is nearly finished, I
shall consider what you have
said about the advantages of the special
destination for fevers. The
decision will rest with me, for though
Lord Medlicote has given the land and timber for
the building, he is not
disposed to give his personal attention to the
"There are few
things better worth the
pains in a provincial town like this," said
fine fever hospital in addition to
the old infirmary might be the nucleus of a
medical school here, when once we
get our medical reforms; and what would do more
for medical education than the
spread of such schools over the country?
A born provincial man who has a grain of
public spirit as well as a few
ideas, should do what he can to resist the rush of
everything that is a little
better than common towards London. Any
valid professional aims may often find a freer, if
not a richer field, in the
Lydgate's gifts was a voice
habitually deep and sonorous, yet capable of
becoming very low and gentle at
the right moment.
About his ordinary
bearing there was a certain fling, a fearless
expectation of success, a
confidence in his own powers and integrity much
fortified by contempt for petty
obstacles or seductions of which he had had no
this proud openness was made lovable by
an expression of unaffected good-will. Mr.
Bulstrode perhaps liked him the
better for the difference between them in pitch
and manners; he certainly liked
him the better, as Rosamond did, for being a
stranger in Middlemarch. One can
begin so many things with a new
person! – even
begin to be a better man.
rejoice to furnish your zeal
with fuller opportunities," Mr. Bulstrode
answered; "I mean, by
confiding to you the superintendence of my new
hospital, should a maturer
knowledge favor that issue, for I am determined
that so great an object shall
not be shackled by our two physicians.
Indeed, I am encouraged to consider your
advent to this town as a
gracious indication that a more manifest blessing
is now to be awarded to my
efforts, which have hitherto been much with stood. With
regard to the old infirmary, we have
gained the initial point – I mean your election. And now
I hope you will not shrink from
incurring a certain amount of jealousy and dislike
from your professional
brethren by presenting yourself as a reformer."
"I will not
profess bravery," said
Lydgate, smiling, "but I acknowledge a good deal
of pleasure in fighting,
and I should not care for my profession, if I did
not believe that better
methods were to be found and enforced there as
well as everywhere else."
of that profession is
low in Middlemarch, my dear sir," said the banker. "I mean
in knowledge and skill; not in
social status, for our medical men are most of
them connected with respectable
My own imperfect
health has induced me to give some attention to
those palliative resources
which the divine mercy has placed within our
have consulted eminent men in the
metropolis, and I am painfully aware of the
backwardness under which medical
treatment labors in our provincial districts."
"Yes; – with
our present medical rules
and education, one must be satisfied now and then
to meet with a fair
As to all the higher
questions which determine the starting-point of a
diagnosis – as to the
philosophy of medial evidence – any glimmering of
these can only come from a
scientific culture of which country practitioners
have usually no more notion
than the man in the moon."
bending and looking
intently, found the form which Lydgate had given
to his agreement not quite
suited to his comprehension. Under
circumstances a judicious man changes the topic
and enters on ground where his
own gifts may be more useful.
"I am aware,"
he said, "that
the peculiar bias of medical ability is towards
Nevertheless, Mr. Lydgate, I hope we shall
not vary in sentiment as to a measure in which you
are not likely to be
actively concerned, but in which your sympathetic
concurrence may be an aid to
recognize, I hope; the existence
of spiritual interests in your patients?"
those words are apt to cover different
meanings to different minds."
"Precisely. And on
such subjects wrong teaching is as
fatal as no teaching. Now a
I have much at heart to secure is a new regulation
as to clerical attendance at
the old infirmary.
The building stands
in Mr. Farebrother's parish. You know
"I have seen
gave me his vote.
I must call to thank him. He seems
a very bright pleasant little
I understand he is a
Farebrother, my dear sir, is a
man deeply painful to contemplate. I
suppose there is not a clergyman in this country
who has greater
Bulstrode paused and
"I have not
yet been pained by finding
any excessive talent in Middlemarch," said
desire," Mr. Bulstrode
continued, looking still more serious, "is that
attendance at the hospital should be superseded by
the appointment of a
chaplain – of Mr. Tyke, in fact – and
that no other spiritual aid should be called in."
"As a medial
man I could have no
opinion on such a point unless I knew Mr. Tyke,
and even then I should require
to know the cases in which he was applied." Lydgate
smiled, but he was bent on being
"Of course you
cannot enter fully into
the merits of this measure at present.
But" – here Mr. Bulstrode began to speak
with a more chiselled
emphasis – "the subject is likely to be referred
to the medical board of
the infirmary, and what I trust I may ask of you
is, that in virtue of the
cooperation between us which I now look forward
to, you will not, so far as you
are concerned, be influenced by my opponents in
"I hope I
shall have nothing to do
with clerical disputes," said Lydgate.
"The path I have chosen is to work well in
my own profession."
responsibility, Mr. Lydgate, is of
a broader kind.
With me, indeed, this
question is one of sacred accountableness; whereas
with my opponents, I have
good reason to say that it is an occasion for
gratifying a spirit of worldly
I shall not therefore
drop one iota of my convictions, or cease to
identify myself with that truth
which an evil generation hates. I have
myself to this object of hospital-improvement, but
I will boldly confess to
you, Mr. Lydgate, that I should have no interest
in hospitals if I believed
that nothing more was concerned therein than the
cure of mortal diseases. I have
another ground of action, and in the
face of persecution I will not conceal it."
Bulstrode's voice had become a loud and
agitated whisper as he said the last words.
certainly differ," said
he was not sorry that the
door was now opened, and Mr. Vincy was announced. That
florid sociable personage was become
more interesting to him since he had seen
that, like her, he had been weaving any
future in which their lots were united; but a man
naturally remembers a
charming girl with pleasure, and is willing to
dine where he may see her
he took leave, Mr. Vincy
had given that invitation which he had been "in no
hurry about," for
Rosamond at breakfast had mentioned that she
thought her uncle Featherstone had
taken the new doctor into great favor.
alone with his
brother-in-law, poured himself out a glass of
water, and opened a sandwich-box.
persuade you to adopt my
"No, no; I've
no opinion of that
wants padding," said
Mr. Vincy, unable to omit his portable theory.
"However," he went on, accenting the word,
as if to dismiss
all irrelevance, "what I came here to talk about
was a little affair of my
young scapegrace, Fred's."
"That is a
subject on which you and I
are likely to take quite as different views as on
"I hope not
this time." (Mr.
Vincy was resolved to be good-humored.)
"The fact is, it's about a whim of old
Featherstone's. Somebody has been
cooking up a story out of spite, and telling it to
the old man, to try to set
him against Fred.
He's very fond of
Fred, and is likely to do something handsome for
him; indeed he has as good as
told Fred that he means to leave him his land, and
that makes other people
"Vincy, I must
repeat, that you will
not get any concurrence from me as to the course
you have pursued with your
eldest son. It
was entirely from worldly
vanity that you destined him for the Church:
with a family of three sons and four
daughters, you were not warranted
in devoting money to an expensive education which
has succeeded in nothing but
in giving him extravagant idle habits.
You are now reaping the consequences."
To point out
other people's errors was a
duty that Mr. Bulstrode rarely shrank from, but
Mr. Vincy was not equally
prepared to be patient. When a
the immediate prospect of being mayor, and is
ready, in the interests of
commerce, to take up a firm attitude on politics
generally, he has naturally a
sense of his importance to the framework of things
which seems to throw
questions of private conduct into the background. And this
particular reproof irritated him
more than any other.
It was eminently
superfluous to him to be told that he was reaping
But he felt his neck under Bulstrode's
and though he usually enjoyed kicking, he was
anxious to refrain from that
"As to that,
Bulstrode, it's no use
going back. I'm
not one of your pattern
men, and I don't pretend to be. I
couldn't foresee everything in the trade; there
wasn't a finer business in
Middlemarch than ours, and the lad was clever.
My poor brother was in the Church, and
would have done well – had got
preferment already, but that stomach fever took
him off: else
he might have been a dean by this
think I was justified in what I
tried to do for Fred. If you
religion, it seems to me a man shouldn't want to
carve out his meat to an ounce
beforehand: – one must trust a little to
Providence and be generous. It's a
good British feeling to try and raise
your family a little: in my
it's a father's duty to give his sons a fine
"I don't wish
to act otherwise than as
your best friend, Vincy, when I say that what you
have been uttering just now
is one mass of worldliness and inconsistent
said Mr. Vincy,
kicking in spite of resolutions, "I never
professed to be anything but
worldly; and, what's more, I don't see anybody
else who is not worldly. I
suppose you don't conduct business on what
you call unworldly principles. The only
difference I see is that one worldliness is a
little bit honester than
"This kind of
unfruitful, Vincy," said Mr. Bulstrode, who,
finishing his sandwich, had
thrown himself back in his chair, and shaded his
eyes as if weary.
"You had some more particular business."
"Yes, yes. The long
and short of it is, somebody has
told old Featherstone, giving you as the
authority, that Fred has been
borrowing or trying to borrow money on the
prospect of his land. Of
course you never said any such nonsense. But the
old fellow will insist on it that
Fred should bring him a denial in your
handwriting; that is, just a bit of a
note saying you don't believe a word of such
stuff, either of his having
borrowed or tried to borrow in such a fool's way. I
suppose you can have no objection to do
"Pardon me. I have
I am by no means sure that your son, in his
recklessness and ignorance – I will use no severer
word – has
not tried to raise money by holding out
his future prospects, or even that some one may
not have been foolish enough to
supply him on so vague a presumption:
there is plenty of such lax money-lending
as of other folly in the
gives me his honor that he
has never borrowed money on the pretence of any
understanding about his uncle's
is not a liar.
I don't want to make him better than he
have blown him up well – nobody
can say I wink at what he does. But he
is not a liar.
And I should have thought
– but I may be wrong – that
there was no
religion to hinder a man from believing the best
of a young fellow, when you
don't know worse.
It seems to me it
would be a poor sort of religion to put a spoke in
his wheel by refusing to say
you don't believe such harm of him as you've got
no good reason to
"I am not at
all sure that I should be
befriending your son by smoothing his way to the
future possession of
Featherstone's property. I cannot
wealth as a blessing to those who use it simply as
a harvest for this world. You do
not like to hear these things, Vincy,
but on this occasion I feel called upon to tell
you that I have no motive for
furthering such a disposition of property as that
which you refer to.
I do not shrink from saying that it will
tend to your son's eternal welfare or to the glory
of God. Why
then should you expect me to pen this
kind of affidavit, which has no object but to keep
up a foolish partiality and
secure a foolish bequest?"
"If you mean
to hinder everybody from
having money but saints and evangelists, you must
give up some profitable
partnerships, that's all I can say," Mr. Vincy
burst out very
may be for the glory
of God, but it is not for the glory of the
Middlemarch trade, that Plymdale's
house uses those blue and green dyes it gets from
the Brassing manufactory;
they rot the silk, that's all I know about it.
Perhaps if other people knew so much of the
profit went to the glory of
God, they might like it better. But I
don't mind so much about that – I could get up a
pretty row, if I chose."
paused a little before he
pain me very much by
speaking in this way, Vincy. I do not
expect you to understand my grounds of action – it
is not an easy thing even to
thread a path for principles in the intricacies of
the world – still
less to make the thread clear for the
careless and the scoffing. You must
remember, if you please, that I stretch my
tolerance towards you as my wife's
brother, and that it little becomes you to
complain of me as withholding
material help towards the worldly position of your
must remind you that it is not your own
prudence or judgment that has enabled you to keep
your place in the
not; but you have been no
loser by my trade yet," said Mr. Vincy, thoroughly
nettled (a result which
was seldom much retarded by previous resolutions).
"And when you married
Harriet, I don't see how you could expect that our
families should not hang by
the same nail.
If you've changed your
mind, and want my family to come down in the
world, you'd better say so. I've
never changed; I'm a plain Churchman
now, just as I used to be before doctrines came
take the world as I find it, in trade and
I'm contented to be no
worse than my neighbors. But if
us to come down in the world, say so. I
shall know better what to do then."
Shall you come down in the world for want
this letter about your son?"
or not, I consider it
very unhandsome of you to refuse it.
Such doings may be lined with religion, but
outside they have a nasty,
dog-in-the-manger look. You
well slander Fred:
it comes pretty near
to it when you refuse to say you didn't set a
It's this sort of thing – -this tyrannical
spirit, wanting to play bishop and banker
everywhere – it's this sort of thing
makes a man's name stink."
"Vincy, if you
insist on quarrelling
with me, it will be exceedingly painful to Harriet
as well as myself,"
said Mr. Bulstrode, with a trifle more eagerness
and paleness than usual.
"I don't want
to quarrel. It's
for my interest – and perhaps for yours
too – that we should be friends. I bear
you no grudge; I think no worse of you than I do
of other people.
A man who half starves himself, and goes
length in family prayers, and so on, that you do,
believes in his religion
whatever it may be:
you could turn over
your capital just as fast with cursing and
swearing: – plenty
of fellows do.
You like to be master, there's no denying
that; you must be first chop in heaven, else you
won't like it much.
But you're my sister's husband, and we
to stick together; and if I know Harriet, she'll
consider it your fault if we
quarrel because you strain at a gnat in this way,
and refuse to do Fred a good
I don't mean to say I shall
bear it well.
I consider it
rose, began to button his
great-coat, and looked steadily at his
brother-in-law, meaning to imply a
demand for a decisive answer.
This was not
the first time that Mr.
Bulstrode had begun by admonishing Mr. Vincy, and
had ended by seeing a very
unsatisfactory reflection of himself in the coarse
unflattering mirror which
that manufacturer's mind presented to the subtler
lights and shadows of his
fellow-men; and perhaps his experience ought to
have warned him how the scene
would end. But
a full-fed fountain will
be generous with its waters even in the rain, when
they are worse than useless;
and a fine fount of admonition is apt to be
It was not in
Mr. Bulstrode's nature to
comply directly in consequence of uncomfortable
Before changing his course, he always
to shape his motives and bring them into
accordance with his habitual
said, at last –
reflect a little, Vincy. I will
mention the subject to Harriet. I shall
probably send you a letter."
"Very well. As soon
as you can, please.
I hope it will all be settled before I see
"Follows here the strict receipt
For that sauce to dainty meat,
Named Idleness, which many eat
By preference, and call it sweet:
First watch for morsels, like a hound
Mix well with buffets, stir them round
With good thick oil of flatteries,
And froth with mean self-lauding lies.
Serve warm: the vessels you must choose
To keep it in
are dead men's shoes."
Bulstrode's consultation of Harriet
seemed to have had the effect desired by Mr.
Vincy, for early the next morning
a letter came which Fred could carry to Mr.
Featherstone as the required
gentleman was staying in bed on
account of the cold weather, and as Mary Garth was
not to be seen in the
sitting-room, Fred went up-stairs immediately and
presented the letter to his
uncle, who, propped up comfortably on a bed-rest,
was not less able than usual
to enjoy his consciousness of wisdom in
distrusting and frustrating
put on his spectacles to
read the letter, pursing up his lips and drawing
down their corners.
circumstances I will not
decline to state my conviction – tchah!
what fine words the fellow puts! He's as
fine as an auctioneer – that
Frederic has not obtained any advance of money on
bequests promised by Mr.
Featherstone – promised? who said I had ever
promise nothing – I shall make codicils as
long as I like – and that considering the nature
of such a proceeding, it is
unreasonable to presume that a young man of sense
and character would attempt
it – ah, but the gentleman doesn't say you are a
young man of sense and
character, mark you that, sir! – As to my own
concern with any report of such a
nature, I distinctly affirm that I never made any
statement to the effect that
your son had borrowed money on any property that
might accrue to him on Mr.
Featherstone's demise – bless my
`property' – accrue – demise! Lawyer
Standish is nothing to him. He
speak finer if he wanted to borrow.
Well," Mr. Featherstone here looked over
his spectacles at Fred,
while he handed back the letter to him with a
contemptuous gesture, "you
don't suppose I believe a thing because Bulstrode
writes it out fine, eh?"
Fred colored. "You
wished to have the letter,
should think it very likely that
Mr. Bulstrode's denial is as good as the authority
which told you what he
"Every bit. I never
said I believed either one or the
now what d' you expect?"
said Mr. Featherstone, curtly, keeping on his
spectacles, but withdrawing his
hands under his wraps.
Fred with difficulty restrained himself
venting his irritation. "I came
bring you the letter. If you
like I will
bid you good morning."
"Not yet, not
the bell; I want missy to come."
It was a
servant who came in answer to the
"Tell missy to
come!" said Mr.
Featherstone, impatiently. "What
business had she to go away?" He
spoke in the same tone when Mary came.
you sit still here till
I told you to go? want my waistcoat now.
I told you always to put it on the bed."
looked rather red, as if she
had been crying.
It was clear that Mr.
Featherstone was in one of his most snappish
humors this morning, and though
Fred had now the prospect of receiving the
much-needed present of money, he
would have preferred being free to turn round on
the old tyrant and tell him
that Mary Garth was too good to be at his beck.
Though Fred had risen as she entered the
room, she had barely noticed
him, and looked as if her nerves were quivering
with the expectation that
something would be thrown at her. But
she never had anything worse than words to dread. When she
went to reach the waistcoat from a
peg, Fred went up to her and said, "Allow me."
"Let it alone! You
bring it, missy, and lay it down
here," said Mr. Featherstone.
"Now you go away again till I call you," he
added, when the
waistcoat was laid down by him. It was
usual with him to season his pleasure in showing
favor to one person by being
especially disagreeable to another, and Mary was
always at hand to furnish the
his own relatives came
she was treated better. Slowly
out a bunch of keys from the waistcoat pocket, and
slowly he drew forth a tin
box which was under the bed-clothes.
"You expect I
am going to give you a
little fortune, eh?" he said, looking above his
spectacles and pausing in
the act of opening the lid.
"Not at all,
were good enough to speak of making me a
present the other day, else, of course, I should
not have thought of the
Fred was of a hopeful
disposition, and a vision had presented itself of
a sum just large enough to
deliver him from a certain anxiety. When
Fred got into debt, it always seemed to him highly
probable that something or
other – he
did not necessarily conceive
what – would come to pass enabling him to pay in
due time. And
now that the providential occurrence was
apparently close at hand, it would have been sheer
absurdity to think that the
supply would be short of the need: as
absurd as a faith that believed in half a miracle
for want of strength to
believe in a whole one.
deep-veined hands fingered many
bank-notes-one after the other, laying them down
flat again, while Fred leaned
back in his chair, scorning to look eager.
He held himself to be a gentleman at heart,
and did not like courting an
old fellow for his money. At last,
Featherstone eyed him again over his spectacles
and presented him with a little
sheaf of notes:
Fred could see
distinctly that there were but five, as the less
significant edges gaped
But then, each might mean
He took them, saying –
"I am very
much obliged to you,
sir," and was going to roll them up without
seeming to think of their
this did not suit Mr.
Featherstone, who was eying him intently.
you think it worth your
while to count 'em?
You take money like
a lord; I suppose you lose it like one."
"I thought I
was not to look a
gift-horse in the mouth, sir. But I
shall be very happy to count them."
Fred was not
so happy, however, after he
had counted them.
For they actually
presented the absurdity of being less than his
hopefulness had decided that
they must be.
What can the fitness of
things mean, if not their fitness to a man's
Failing this, absurdity and atheism gape
behind him. The
collapse for Fred was
severe when he found that he held no more than
five twenties, and his share in
the higher education of this country did not seem
to help him.
Nevertheless he said, with rapid changes in
his fair complexion –
"It is very
handsome of you,
think it is," said Mr.
Featherstone, locking his box and replacing it,
then taking off his spectacles
deliberately, and at length, as if his inward
meditation had more deeply
convinced him, repeating, "I should think it
"I assure you,
sir, I am very
grateful," said Fred, who had had time to recover
his cheerful air.
"So you ought
to be. You
want to cut a figure in the world, and I
reckon Peter Featherstone is the only one you've
got to trust to."
Here the old man's eyes gleamed with a
curiously mingled satisfaction in the
consciousness that this smart young
fellow relied upon him, and that the smart young
fellow was rather a fool for
"Yes, indeed: I was
not born to very splendid chances. Few men
have been more cramped than I have
been," said Fred, with some sense of surprise at
his own virtue,
considering how hardly he was dealt with.
"It really seems a little too bad to have
to ride a broken-winded
hunter, and see men, who, are not half such good
judges as yourself, able to
throw away any amount of money on buying bad
"Well, you can
buy yourself a fine
hunter now. Eighty
pound is enough for
that, I reckon – and you'll have twenty pound over
to get yourself out of any
little scrape," said Mr. Featherstone, chuckling
"You are very
good, sir," said
Fred, with a fine sense of contrast between the
words and his feeling.
"Ay, rather a
better uncle than your
fine uncle Bulstrode. You
won't get much
out of his spekilations, I think. He's
got a pretty strong string round your father's
leg, by what I hear, eh?"
never tells me anything
about his affairs, sir."
shows some sense there. But
other people find 'em out without his
never have much to leave
most-like die without a will
– he's the sort of man to do it – let
'em make him mayor of Middlemarch as much as they
you won't get much by his dying without a
will, though you ARE the eldest son."
that Mr. Featherstone had
never been so disagreeable before. True,
he had never before given him quite so much money
destroy this letter of Mr.
Bulstrode's, sir?" said Fred, rising with the
letter as if he would put it
in the fire.
"Ay, ay, I
don't want it.
It's worth no money to me."
the letter to the fire, and
thrust the poker through it with much zest.
He longed to get out of the room, but he
was a little ashamed before his
inner self, as well as before his uncle, to run
away immediately after
pocketing the money.
farm-bailiff came up to give his master a report,
and Fred, to his unspeakable
relief, was dismissed with the injunction to come
He had longed
not only to be set free from
his uncle, but also to find Mary Garth.
She was now in her usual place by the fire,
with sewing in her hands and
a book open on the little table by her side.
Her eyelids had lost some of their redness
now, and she had her usual
air of self-command.
"Am I wanted
said, half rising as Fred entered.
"No; I am only
Simmons is gone up."
Mary sat down
again, and resumed her
was certainly treating him
with more indifference than usual: she
did not know how affectionately indignant he had
felt on her behalf up-stairs.
"May I stay
here a little, Mary, or
shall I bore you?"
down," said Mary;
"you will not be so heavy a bore as Mr. John
Waule, who was here
yesterday, and he sat down without asking my
"Poor fellow! I think
he is in love with you."
"I am not
aware of it.
And to me it is one of the most odious
in a girl's life, that there must always be some
supposition of falling in love
coming between her and any man who is kind to her,
and to whom she is
should have thought that I,
at least, might have been safe from all that.
I have no ground for the nonsensical vanity
of fancying everybody who
comes near me is in love with me."
Mary did not
mean to betray any feeling,
but in spite of herself she ended in a tremulous
tone of vexation.
did not mean to make you angry. I didn't
know you had any reason for being
grateful to me.
I forgot what a great
service you think it if any one snuffs a candle
for you. Fred
also had his pride, and was not going to
show that he knew what had called forth this
outburst of Mary's.
"Oh, I am not
angry, except with the
ways of the world.
I do like to be
spoken to as if I had common-sense. I really often
feel as if I could
understand a little more than I ever hear even
from young gentlemen who have
been to college."
recovered, and she spoke with a suppressed
rippling under-current of laughter
pleasant to hear.
"I don't care
how merry you are at my
expense this morning," said Fred, "I thought you
looked so sad when
you came up-stairs. It is a shame you should stay
here to be bullied in that
"Oh, I have an
easy life – by
have tried being a
teacher, and I am not fit for that: my
mind is too fond of wandering on its own way.
I think any hardship is better than
pretending to do what one is paid
for, and never really doing it.
Everything here I can do as well as any one
else could; perhaps better
than some – Rosy, for example. Though
she is just the sort of beautiful creature that is
imprisoned with ogres in
Fred, in a tone of
profound brotherly scepticism.
emphatically; "you have no right to be so
"Do you mean
anything particular –
"No, I mean
something general –
"Oh, that I am
Well, I am not fit to be a
poor man. I
should not have made a bad
fellow if I had been rich."
have done your duty in that
state of life to which it has not pleased God to
call you," said Mary,
couldn't do my duty as a
clergyman, any more than you could do yours as a
ought to have a little fellow-feeling
"I never said
you ought to be a
are other sorts of
seems to me very miserable not
to resolve on some course and act accordingly."
"So I could,
if – " Fred broke
off, and stood up, leaning against the
"If you were
sure you should not have
"I did not say
want to quarrel with me. It is
too bad of you to be guided by what
other people say about me."
"How can I
want to quarrel with
should be quarrelling with all my
new books," said Mary, lifting the volume on the
naughty you may be to other
people, you are good to me."
like you better than any
one else. But
I know you despise
"Yes, I do – a
Mary, nodding, with a smile.
admire a stupendous fellow,
who would have wise opinions about everything."
was sewing swiftly, and seemed
provokingly mistress of the situation.
When a conversation has taken a wrong turn
for us, we only get farther
and farther into the swamp of awkwardness.
This was what Fred Vincy felt.
"I suppose a
woman is never in love
with any one she has always known – ever
since she can remember; as a man often is.
It is always some new fellow who strikes a
"Let me see,"
said Mary, the
corners of her mouth curling archly; "I must go
back on my
is Juliet – she seems
an example of what you say. But then
Ophelia had probably known Hamlet a long while;
and Brenda Troil – she had
known Mordaunt Merton ever since they were
children; but then he seems to have
been an estimable young man; and Minna was still
more deeply in love with
Cleveland, who was a stranger. Waverley
was new to Flora MacIvor; but then she did not
fall in love with him. And
there are Olivia and Sophia Primrose, and
Corinne – they may be said to have fallen in love
with new men.
Altogether, my experience is rather
Mary looked up
with some roguishness at
Fred, and that look of hers was very dear to him,
though the eyes were nothing
more than clear windows where observation sat
was certainly an affectionate fellow, and
as he had grown from boy to man, he had grown in
love with his old playmate,
notwithstanding that share in the higher education
of the country which had
exalted his views of rank and income.
"When a man is
not loved, it is no use
for him to say that he could be a better fellow –
could do anything – I mean,
if he were sure of being loved in return."
"Not of the
least use in the world for
him to say he COULD be better. Might,
could, would – they are contemptible auxiliaries."
"I don't see
how a man is to be good
for much unless he has some one woman to love him
"I think the
goodness should come
before he expects that."
Women don't love men for their
"Perhaps not. But if
they love them, they never think them
"It is hardly
fair to say I am
nothing at all about
"I never shall
be good for anything,
Mary, if you will not say that you love me – if
you will not promise to marry
me – I mean, when I am able to marry."
"If I did love
you, I would not marry
would certainly not promise ever
to marry you."
"I think that
is quite wicked,
you love me, you ought to
promise to marry me."
contrary, I think it would be
wicked in me to marry you even if I did love you."
just as I am, without any
means of maintaining a wife. Of
am but three-and-twenty."
"In that last
point you will
I am not so sure of any other
father says an idle man
ought not to exist, much less, be married."
"Then I am to
blow my brains
"No; on the
whole I should think you
would do better to pass your examination.
I have heard Mr. Farebrother say it is
"That is all
very fine. Anything
is easy to him.
Not that cleverness has anything to do with
am ten times cleverer than many
men who pass."
said Mary, unable to
repress her sarcasm; "that accounts for the
curates like Mr. Crowse. Divide
your cleverness by ten, and the
quotient – dear me! – is able to take a degree.
But that only shows you are ten times more
idle than the others."
"Well, if I
did pass, you would not
want me to go into the Church?"
"That is not
the question – what I
want you to do.
You have a conscience of
your own, I suppose.
There! there is Mr.
must go and tell my
Fred, seizing her
hand as she rose; "if you will not give me some
encouragement, I shall get
worse instead of better."
"I will not
give you any
encouragement," said Mary, reddening.
"Your friends would dislike it, and so
would mine. My
father would think it a disgrace to me if
I accepted a man who got into debt, and would not
stung, and released her hand. She
walked to the door, but there she turned
and said: "Fred,
you have always
been so good, so generous to me. I am
But never speak to me in
that way again."
said Fred, sulkily,
taking up his hat and whip. His
complexion showed patches of pale pink and dead
many a plucked idle young gentleman, he
was thoroughly in love, and with a plain girl, who
had no money!
But having Mr. Featherstone's land in the
background, and a persuasion that, let Mary say
what she would, she really did
care for him, Fred was not utterly in despair.
When he got
home, he gave four of the
twenties to his mother, asking her to keep them
for him. "I
don't want to spend that money,
want it to pay a debt with. So keep
it safe away from my fingers."
"Bless you, my
dear," said Mrs.
doted on her eldest son and
her youngest girl (a child of six), whom others
thought her two naughtiest
mother's eyes are not
always deceived in their partiality: she
at least can best judge who is the tender,
filial-hearted child. And Fred
was certainly very fond of his
it was his fondness for
another person also that made him particularly
anxious to take some security
against his own liability to spend the hundred
the creditor to whom he owed a hundred
and sixty held a firmer security in the shape of a
bill signed by Mary's
"Black eyes you have left, you say,
Blue eyes fail to draw you;
Yet you seem more rapt to-day,
Than of old we
"Oh, I track the fairest fair
Through new haunts of pleasure;
Footprints here and echoes there
Guide me to my
"Lo! she turns – immortal youth
Wrought to mortal stature,
Fresh as starlight's aged truth –
historian, as he insisted on
calling himself, who had the happiness to be dead
a hundred and twenty years
ago, and so to take his place among the colossi
whose huge legs our living
pettiness is observed to walk under, glories in
his copious remarks and
digressions as the least imitable part of his
work, and especially in those
initial chapters to the successive books of his
history, where he seems to
bring his armchair to the proscenium and chat with
us in all the lusty ease of
his fine English.
But Fielding lived
when the days were longer (for time, like money,
is measured by our needs),
when summer afternoons were spacious, and the
clock ticked slowly in the winter
belated historians must not
linger after his example; and if we did so, it is
probable that our chat would
be thin and eager, as if delivered from a
campstool in a parrot-house. I at
least have so much to do in unraveling certain
human lots, and seeing how they
were woven and interwoven, that all the light I
can command must be
concentrated on this particular web, and not
dispersed over that tempting range
of relevancies called the universe.
At present I
have to make the new settler
Lydgate better known to any one interested in him
than he could possibly be
even to those who had seen the most of him since
his arrival in
For surely all must admit
that a man may be puffed and belauded, envied,
ridiculed, counted upon as a
tool and fallen in love with, or at least selected
as a future husband, and yet
remain virtually unknown – known
as a cluster of signs for his neighbors' false
There was a general impression, however,
Lydgate was not altogether a common country
doctor, and in Middlemarch at that
time such an impression was significant of great
things being expected from
everybody's family doctor was
remarkably clever, and was understood to have
immeasurable skill in the
management and training of the most skittish or
The evidence of his cleverness was of the
higher intuitive order, lying in his
lady-patients' immovable conviction, and
was unassailable by any objection except that
their intuitions were opposed by
others equally strong; each lady who saw medical
truth in Wrench and "the
strengthening treatment" regarding Toller and "the
system" as medical perdition. For
the heroic times of copious bleeding and
blistering had not yet departed, still
less the times of thorough-going theory, when
disease in general was called by
some bad name, and treated accordingly without
shilly-shally – as if, for
example, it were to be called insurrection, which
must not be fired on with
blank-cartridge, but have its blood drawn at once. The
strengtheners and the lowerers were all
"clever" men in somebody's opinion, which is
really as much as can be
said for any living talents. Nobody's
imagination had gone so far as to conjecture that
Mr. Lydgate could know as
much as Dr. Sprague and Dr. Minchin, the two
physicians, who alone could offer
any hope when danger was extreme, and when the
smallest hope was worth a
I repeat, there was a
general impression that Lydgate was something
rather more uncommon than any
general practitioner in Middlemarch. And
this was true.
He was but
seven-and-twenty, an age at which many men are not
quite common – at which they
are hopeful of achievement, resolute in avoidance,
thinking that Mammon shall
never put a bit in their mouths and get astride
their backs, but rather that
Mammon, if they have anything to do with him,
shall draw their chariot.
He had been
left an orphan when he was
fresh from a public school. His
a military man, had made but little provision for
three children, and when the
boy Tertius asked to have a medical education, it
seemed easier to his
guardians to grant his request by apprenticing him
to a country practitioner
than to make any objections on the score of family
was one of the rarer lads who early get a
decided bent and make up their minds that there is
something particular in life
which they would like to do for its own sake, and
not because their fathers did
of us who turn to any subject
with love remember some morning or evening hour
when we got on a high stool to
reach down an untried volume, or sat with parted
lips listening to a new
talker, or for very lack of books began to listen
to the voices within, as the
first traceable beginning of our love.
Something of that sort happened to Lydgate. He was a
quick fellow, and when hot from
play, would toss himself in a corner, and in five
minutes be deep in any sort
of book that he could lay his hands on:
if it were Rasselas or Gulliver, so much
the better, but Bailey's
Dictionary would do, or the Bible with the
Apocrypha in it.
Something he must read, when he was not
riding the pony, or running and hunting, or
listening to the talk of men. All this
was true of him at ten years of age;
he had then read through "Chrysal, or the
Adventures of a Guinea,"
which was neither milk for babes, nor any chalky
mixture meant to pass for
milk, and it had already occurred to him that
books were stuff, and that life
was stupid. His
school studies had not
much modified that opinion, for though he "did"
his classics and
mathematics, he was not pre-eminent in them.
It was said of him, that Lydgate could do
anything he liked, but he had
certainly not yet liked to do anything remarkable. He was a
vigorous animal with a ready
understanding, but no spark had yet kindled in him
an intellectual passion;
knowledge seemed to him a very superficial affair,
judging from the conversation of his
he had apparently got already more than was
necessary for mature life. Probably
this was not an exceptional result
of expensive teaching at that period of
short-waisted coats, and other fashions
which have not yet recurred. But, one
vacation, a wet day sent him to the small home
library to hunt once more for a
book which might have some freshness for him:
in vain! unless, indeed, he took down a
dusty row of volumes with
gray-paper backs and dingy labels – the volumes of
an old Cyclopaedia which he
had never disturbed.
It would at least
be a novelty to disturb them. They
on the highest shelf, and he stood on a chair to
get them down.
But he opened the volume which he first
from the shelf:
somehow, one is apt to
read in a makeshift attitude, just where it might
seem inconvenient to do
page he opened on was under the
head of Anatomy, and the first passage that drew
his eyes was on the valves of
the heart. He
was not much acquainted
with valves of any sort, but he knew that valvae
were folding-doors, and
through this crevice came a sudden light startling
him with his first vivid notion
of finely adjusted mechanism in the human frame. A
liberal education had of course left him
free to read the indecent passages in the school
classics, but beyond a general
sense of secrecy and obscenity in connection with
his internal structure, had
left his imagination quite unbiassed, so that for
anything he knew his brains
lay in small bags at his temples, and he had no
more thought of representing to
himself how his blood circulated than how paper
served instead of gold. But the
moment of vocation had come, and
before he got down from his chair, the world was
made new to him by a
filling the vast spaces planked out of his sight
by that wordy ignorance which
he had supposed to be knowledge. From
that hour Lydgate felt the growth of an
We are not
afraid of telling over and over
again how a man comes to fall in love with a woman
and be wedded to her, or
else be fatally parted from her. Is it
due to excess of poetry or of stupidity that we
are never weary of describing
what King James called a woman's "makdom and her
weary of listening to the twanging of the old
Troubadour strings, and are
comparatively uninterested in that other kind of
"makdom and fairnesse"
which must be wooed with industrious thought and
patient renunciation of small
the story of this passion,
too, the development varies: sometimes
is the glorious marriage, sometimes frustration
and final parting.
And not seldom the catastrophe is bound up
with the other passion, sung by the Troubadours. For in
the multitude of middle-aged men who
go about their vocations in a daily course
determined for them much in the same
way as the tie of their cravats, there is always a
good number who once meant
to shape their own deeds and alter the world a
story of their coming to be shapen after
the average and fit to be packed by the gross, is
hardly ever told even in their
consciousness; for perhaps their ardor in generous
unpaid toil cooled as imperceptibly
as the ardor of other youthful loves, till one day
their earlier self walked
like a ghost in its old home and made the new
Nothing in the world more subtle than the
process of their gradual change! In the
beginning they inhaled it unknowingly:
you and I may have sent some of our breath
towards infecting them, when
we uttered our conforming falsities or drew our
or perhaps it came with the vibrations from
not mean to be one of those
failures, and there was the better hope of him
because his scientific interest
soon took the form of a professional enthusiasm: he had a
youthful belief in his bread-winning
work, not to be stifled by that initiation in
makeshift called his 'prentice
days; and he carried to his studies in London,
Edinburgh, and Paris, the
conviction that the medical profession as it might
be was the finest in the
world; presenting the most perfect interchange
between science and art;
offering the most direct alliance between
intellectual conquest and the social
nature demanded this
he was an emotional
creature, with a flesh-and-blood sense of
fellowship which withstood all the
abstractions of special study. He cared
not only for "cases," but for John and Elizabeth,
another attraction in his
wanted reform, and gave a
man an opportunity for some indignant resolve to
reject its venal decorations
and other humbug, and to be the possessor of
genuine though undemanded
He went to study in
Paris with the determination that when he
provincial home again he would settle
in some provincial town as a general practitioner,
and resist the irrational
severance between medical and surgical knowledge
in the interest of his own
scientific pursuits, as well as of the general
would keep away from the range of London
intrigues, jealousies, and social truckling, and
win celebrity, however slowly,
as Jenner had done, by the independent value of
his work. For
it must be remembered that this was a
dark period; and in spite of venerable colleges
which used great efforts to
secure purity of knowledge by making it scarce,
and to exclude error by a rigid
exclusiveness in relation to fees and
appointments, it happened that very
ignorant young gentlemen were promoted in town,
and many more got a legal right
to practise over large areas in the country.
Also, the high standard held up to the
public mind by the College of
which which gave its peculiar sanction to the
expensive and highly rarefied
medical instruction obtained by graduates of
Oxford and Cambridge, did not
hinder quackery from having an excellent time of
it; for since professional
practice chiefly consisted in giving a great many
drugs, the public inferred
that it might be better off with more drugs still,
if they could only be got
cheaply, and hence swallowed large cubic measures
of physic prescribed by
unscrupulous ignorance which had taken no degrees. Considering
that statistics had not yet
embraced a calculation as to the number of
ignorant or canting doctors which
absolutely must exist in the teeth of all changes,
it seemed to Lydgate that a
change in the units was the most direct mode of
changing the numbers. He meant
to be a unit who would make a
certain amount of difference towards that
spreading change which would one day
tell appreciably upon the averages, and in the
mean time have the pleasure of
making an advantageous difference to the viscera
of his own patients.
But he did not simply aim at a more genuine
kind of practice than was common. He was
ambitious of a wider effect: he was
fired with the possibility that he might work out
the proof of an anatomical
conception and make a link in the chain of
Does it seem
incongruous to you that a
Middlemarch surgeon should dream of himself as a
of us, indeed, know little of the great
originators until they have been lifted up among
the constellations and already
rule our fates.
But that Herschel, for
example, who "broke the barriers of the heavens" –
did he not once
play a provincial church-organ, and give
music-lessons to stumbling
of those Shining Ones had
to walk on the earth among neighbors who perhaps
thought much more of his gait
and his garments than of anything which was to
give him a title to everlasting
of them had his little local
personal history sprinkled with small temptations
and sordid cares, which made
the retarding friction of his course towards final
companionship with the
was not blind to the
dangers of such friction, but he had plenty of
confidence in his resolution to
avoid it as far as possible: being
seven-and-twenty, he felt himself experienced.
And he was not going to have his vanities
provoked by contact with the
showy worldly successes of the capital, but to
live among people who could hold
no rivalry with that pursuit of a great idea which
was to be a twin object with
the assiduous practice of his profession.
There was fascination in the hope that the
two purposes would illuminate
each other: the
careful observation and
inference which was his daily work, the use of the
lens to further his judgment
in special cases, would further his thought as an
instrument of larger
not this the typical
pre-eminence of his profession? He would
be a good Middlemarch doctor, and by that very
means keep himself in the track
of far-reaching investigation. On one
point he may fairly claim approval at this
particular stage of his career: he did
not mean to imitate those
philanthropic models who make a profit out of
poisonous pickles to support
themselves while they are exposing adulteration,
or hold shares in a
gambling-hell that they may have leisure to
represent the cause of public
intended to begin in his
own case some particular reforms which were quite
certainly within his reach,
and much less of a problem than the demonstrating
of an anatomical
of these reforms was to
act stoutly on the strength of a recent legal
decision, and simply prescribe,
without dispensing drugs or taking percentage from
was an innovation for one who had chosen
to adopt the style of general practitioner in a
country town, and would be felt
as offensive criticism by his professional
Lydgate meant to innovate in his
treatment also, and he was wise enough to see that
the best security for his
practising honestly according to his belief was to
get rid of systematic
temptations to the contrary.
was a more cheerful time for
observers and theorizers than the present; we are
apt to think it the finest
era of the world when America was beginning to be
discovered, when a bold
sailor, even if he were wrecked, might alight on a
new kingdom; and about 1829
the dark territories of Pathology were a fine
America for a spirited young
was ambitious above
all to contribute towards enlarging the
scientific, rational basis of his
more he became
interested in special questions of disease, such
as the nature of fever or
fevers, the more keenly he felt the need for that
fundamental knowledge of
structure which just at the beginning of the
century had been illuminated by
the brief and glorious career of Bichat, who died
when he was only
one-and-thirty, but, like another Alexander, left
a realm large enough for many
great Frenchman first
carried out the conception that living bodies,
fundamentally considered, are
not associations of organs which can be understood
by studying them first
apart, and then as it were federally; but must be
regarded as consisting of
certain primary webs or tissues, out of which the
various organs – brain,
heart, lungs, and so on – are
as the various accommodations of a house are built
up in various proportions of
wood, iron, stone, brick, zinc, and the rest, each
material having its peculiar
composition and proportions. No man,
sees, can understand and estimate the entire
structure or its parts – what are
its frailties and what its repairs, without
knowing the nature of the
the conception wrought
out by Bichat, with his detailed study of the
different tissues, acted
necessarily on medical questions as the turning of
gas-light would act on a
dim, oil-lit street, showing new connections and
hitherto hidden facts of
structure which must be taken into account in
considering the symptoms of
maladies and the action of medicaments.
But results which depend on human
conscience and intelligence work slowly,
and now at the end of 1829, most medical practice
was still strutting or
shambling along the old paths, and there was still
scientific work to be done
which might have seemed to be a direct sequence of
Bichat's. This great seer
did not go beyond the consideration of the tissues
as ultimate facts in the
living organism, marking the limit of anatomical
analysis; but it was open to
another mind to say, have not these structures
some common basis from which
they have all started, as your sarsnet, gauze,
net, satin, and velvet from the
raw cocoon? Here
would be another light,
as of oxy-hydrogen, showing the very grain of
things, and revising ail former
Of this sequence to
Bichat's work, already vibrating along many
currents of the European mind,
Lydgate was enamoured; he longed to demonstrate
the more intimate relations of
living structure, and help to define men's thought
more accurately after the
true order. The
work had not yet been
done, but only prepared for those who knew how to
use the preparation.
What was the primitive tissue? In that
way Lydgate put the question – not
quite in the way required by the awaiting
answer; but such missing of the right word befalls
And he counted on quiet intervals to be
watchfully seized, for taking up the threads of
investigation – on many hints
to be won from diligent application, not only of
the scalpel, but of the
microscope, which research had begun to use again
with new enthusiasm of
was Lydgate's plan of his
do good small work for
Middlemarch, and great work for the world.
certainly a happy fellow at this
be seven-and-twenty, without
any fixed vices, with a generous resolution that
his action should be
beneficent, and with ideas in his brain that made
life interesting quite apart
from the cultus of horseflesh and other mystic
rites of costly observance,
which the eight hundred pounds left him after
buying his practice would
certainly not have gone far in paying for.
He was at a starting-point which makes many
a man's career a fine
subject for betting, if there were any gentlemen
given to that amusement who
could appreciate the complicated probabilities of
an arduous purpose, with all
the possible thwartings and furtherings of
circumstance, all the niceties of
inward balance, by which a man swims and makes his
point or else is carried
risk would remain even
with close knowledge of Lydgate's character; for
character too is a process and
The man was still in the
making, as much as the Middlemarch doctor and
immortal discoverer, and there
were both virtues and faults capable of shrinking
The faults will not, I hope, be a reason
the withdrawal of your interest in him.
Among our valued friends is there not some
one or other who is a little
too self-confident and disdainful; whose
distinguished mind is a little spotted
with commonness; who is a little pinched here and
protuberant there with
or whose better
energies are liable to lapse down the wrong
channel under the influence of
transient solicitations? All
things might be alleged against Lydgate, but then,
they are the periphrases of
a polite preacher, who talks of Adam, and would
not like to mention anything
painful to the pew-renters. The
particular faults from which these delicate
generalities are distilled have
distinguishable physiognomies, diction, accent,
and grimaces; filling up parts
in very various dramas. Our
differ as our noses do: all
not the same conceit, but varies in correspondence
with the minutiae of mental
make in which one of us differs from another.
Lydgate's conceit was of the arrogant sort,
never simpering, never
impertinent, but massive in its claims and
benevolently contemptuous. He would
do a great deal for noodles, being
sorry for them, and feeling quite sure that they
could have no power over
had thought of joining the Saint
Simonians when he was in Paris, in order to turn
them against some of their own
his faults were marked by
kindred traits, and were those of a man who had a
fine baritone, whose clothes
hung well upon him, and who even in his ordinary
gestures had an air of inbred
Where then lay the spots of
commonness? says a young lady enamoured of that
How could there be any commonness in a man
well-bred, so ambitious of social distinction, so
generous and unusual in his
views of social duty? As
easily as there
may be stupidity in a man of genius if you take
him unawares on the wrong
subject, or as many a man who has the best will to
advance the social
millennium might be ill-inspired in imagining its
lighter pleasures; unable to
go beyond Offenbach's music, or the brilliant
punning in the last burlesque. Lydgate's
spots of commonness lay in the
complexion of his prejudices, which, in spite of
noble intention and sympathy,
were half of them such as are found in ordinary
men of the world:
that distinction of mind which belonged to
his intellectual ardor, did not penetrate his
feeling and judgment about
furniture, or women, or the desirability of its
being known (without his
telling) that he was better born than other
He did not mean to think of furniture at
present; but whenever he did so it was to be
feared that neither biology nor
schemes of reform would lift him above the
vulgarity of feeling that there
would be an incompatibility in his furniture not
being of the best.
As to women,
he had once already been drawn
headlong by impetuous folly, which he meant to be
final, since marriage at some
distant period would of course not be impetuous. For
those who want to be acquainted with
Lydgate it will be good to know what was that case
of impetuous folly, for it
may stand as an example of the fitful swerving of
passion to which he was
prone, together with the chivalrous kindness which
helped to make him morally
story can be told without
many words. It
happened when he was
studying in Paris, and just at the time when, over
and above his other work, he
was occupied with some galvanic experiments.
One evening, tired with his experimenting,
and not being able to elicit
the facts he needed, he left his frogs and rabbits
to some repose under their
trying and mysterious dispensation of unexplained
shocks, and went to finish
his evening at the theatre of the Porte Saint
Martin, where there was a
melodrama which he had already seen several times;
attracted, not by the
ingenious work of the collaborating authors, but
by an actress whose part it
was to stab her lover, mistaking him for the
evil-designing duke of the
was in love with this
actress, as a man is in love with a woman whom he
never expects to speak to. She was
a Provencale, with dark eyes, a Greek
profile, and rounded majestic form, having that
sort of beauty which carries a
sweet matronliness even in youth, and her voice
was a soft cooing.
She had but lately come to Paris, and bore
virtuous reputation, her husband acting with her
as the unfortunate lover. It was
her acting which was "no better
than it should be," but the public was satisfied. Lydgate's
only relaxation now was to go and
look at this woman, just as he might have thrown
himself under the breath of
the sweet south on a bank of violets for a while,
without prejudice to his
galvanism, to which he would presently return.
But this evening the old drama had a new
At the moment when the heroine was to act
stabbing of her lover, and he was to fall
gracefully, the wife veritably
stabbed her husband, who fell as death willed.
A wild shriek pierced the house, and the
Provencale fell swooning: a shriek
and a swoon were demanded by the
play, but the swooning too was real this time.
Lydgate leaped and climbed, he hardly knew
how, on to the stage, and was
active in help, making the acquaintance of his
heroine by finding a contusion
on her head and lifting her gently in his arms.
Paris rang with the story of this death: –
was it a murder?
Some of the actress's warmest admirers were
inclined to believe in her guilt, and liked her
the better for it (such was the
taste of those times); but Lydgate was not one of
vehemently contended for her innocence,
and the remote impersonal passion for her beauty
which he had felt before, had
passed now into personal devotion, and tender
thought of her lot.
The notion of murder was absurd: no
motive was discoverable, the young couple
being understood to dote on each other; and it was
not unprecedented that an
accidental slip of the foot should have brought
these grave consequences. The
legal investigation ended in Madame
Lydgate by this time
had had many interviews with her, and found her
more and more adorable. She
talked little; but that was an additional
was melancholy, and seemed
grateful; her presence was enough, like that of
the evening light.
Lydgate was madly anxious about her
affection, and jealous lest any other man than
himself should win it and ask
her to marry him.
But instead of
reopening her engagement at the Porte Saint
Martin, where she would have been
all the more popular for the fatal episode, she
left Paris without warning,
forsaking her little court of admirers.
Perhaps no one carried inquiry far except
Lydgate, who felt that all
science had come to a stand-still while he
imagined the unhappy Laure, stricken
by ever-wandering sorrow, herself wandering, and
finding no faithful
are not so difficult to find as some other hidden
facts, and it was not long
before Lydgate gathered indications that Laure had
taken the route to
found her at last acting with
great success at Avignon under the same name,
looking more majestic than ever
as a forsaken wife carrying her child in her arms. He spoke
to her after the play, was received
with the usual quietude which seemed to him
beautiful as clear depths of water,
and obtained leave to visit her the next day; when
he was bent on telling her
that he adored her, and on asking her to marry
knew that this was like the sudden impulse
of a madman – incongruous even with his habitual
It was the one thing which he was resolved
to do. He
had two selves within him apparently, and
they must learn to accommodate each other and bear
reciprocal impediments. Strange,
that some of us, with quick
alternate vision, see beyond our infatuations, and
even while we rave on the
heights, behold the wide plain where our
persistent self pauses and awaits us.
approached Laure with any suit that
was not reverentially tender would have been
simply a contradiction of his
whole feeling towards her.
"You have come
all the way from Paris
to find me?" she said to him the next day, sitting
before him with folded
arms, and looking at him with eyes that seemed to
wonder as an untamed
ruminating animal wonders. "Are all
Englishmen like that?"
because I could not live
without trying to see you. You are
lonely; I love you; I want you to consent to be my
wife; I will wait, but I
want you to promise that you will marry me –
no one else."
at him in silence with a
melancholy radiance from under her grand eyelids,
until he was full of
rapturous certainty, and knelt close to her knees.
"I will tell
you something," she
said, in her cooing way, keeping her arms folded. "My foot
"I know, I
know," said Lydgate,
"It was a fatal
accident – a
dreadful stroke of calamity
that bound me to you the more."
paused a little and then said,
slowly, "I MEANT TO DO IT."
strong man as he was, turned pale
moments seemed to pass
before he rose and stood at a distance from her.
"There was a
secret, then," he
said at last, even vehemently. "He
was brutal to you:
you hated him."
wearied me; he was too
would live in Paris, and not in
my country; that was not agreeable to me."
said Lydgate, in a
groan of horror.
"And you planned
to murder him?"
"I did not
came to me in the play – I MEANT TO DO
mute, and unconsciously
pressed his hat on while he looked at her.
He saw this woman – the first to whom he
had given his young adoration –
amid the throng of stupid criminals.
"You are a
good young man," she
I do not like
will never have
afterwards Lydgate was at his
galvanism again in his Paris chambers, believing
that illusions were at an end
for him. He
was saved from hardening
effects by the abundant kindness of his heart and
his belief that human life
might be made better. But he
reason than ever for trusting his judgment, now
that it was so experienced; and
henceforth he would take a strictly scientific
view of woman, entertaining no
expectations but such as were justified
No one in
Middle march was likely to have
such a notion of Lydgate's past as has here been
faintly shadowed, and indeed
the respectable townsfolk there were not more
given than mortals generally to
any eager attempt at exactness in the
representation to themselves of what did
not come under their own senses. Not
only young virgins of that town, but gray-bearded
men also, were often in haste
to conjecture how a new acquaintance might be
wrought into their purposes, contented
with very vague knowledge as to the way in which
life had been shaping him for
that instrumentality. Middlemarch,
fact, counted on swallowing Lydgate and
assimilating him very comfortably.
"All that in woman is adored
In thy fair self I find –
For the whole sex can but afford
The handsome and the kind."
SIR CHARLES SEDLEY.
whether Mr. Tyke should be
appointed as salaried chaplain to the hospital was
an exciting topic to the
Middlemarchers; and Lydgate heard it discussed in
a way that threw much light
on the power exercised in the town by Mr.
banker was evidently a ruler, but there
was an opposition party, and even among his
supporters there were some who
allowed it to be seen that their support was a
compromise, and who frankly
stated their impression that the general scheme of
things, and especially the
casualties of trade, required you to hold a candle
to the devil.
Bulstrode's power was not due simply to
his being a country banker, who knew the financial
secrets of most traders in
the town and could touch the springs of their
credit; it was fortified by a
beneficence that was at once ready and severe –
ready to confer obligations,
and severe in watching the result. He had
gathered, as an industrious man always at his
post, a chief share in
administering the town charities, and his private
charities were both minute
He would take a great deal
of pains about apprenticing Tegg the shoemaker's
son, and he would watch over
Tegg's church-going; he would defend Mrs. Strype
the washerwoman against
Stubbs's unjust exaction on the score of her
drying-ground, and he would
himself-scrutinize a calumny against Mrs. Strype. His
private minor loans were numerous, but he
would inquire strictly into the circumstances both
before and after.
In this way a man gathers a domain in his
neighbors' hope and fear as well as gratitude; and
power, when once it has got
into that subtle region, propagates itself,
spreading out of all proportion to
its external means.
It was a principle
with Mr. Bulstrode to gain as much power as
possible, that he might use it for
the glory of God.
He went through a
great deal of spiritual conflict and inward
argument in order to adjust his
motives, and make clear to himself what God's
But, as we have seen, his motives were not
always rightly appreciated. There
many crass minds in Middlemarch whose reflective
scales could only weigh things
in the lump; and they had a strong suspicion that
since Mr. Bulstrode could not
enjoy life in their fashion, eating and drinking
so little as he did, and
worreting himself about everything, he must have a
sort of vampire's feast in
the sense of mastery.
The subject of
the chaplaincy came up at
Mr. Vincy's table when Lydgate was dining there,
and the family connection with
Mr. Bulstrode did not, he observed, prevent some
freedom of remark even on the
part of the host himself, though his reasons
against the proposed arrangement
turned entirely on his objection to Mr. Tyke's
sermons, which were all
doctrine, and his preference for Mr. Farebrother,
whose sermons were free from
that taint. Mr.
Vincy liked well enough
the notion of the chaplain's having a salary,
supposing it were given to
Farebrother, who was as good a little fellow as
ever breathed, and the best
preacher anywhere, and companionable too.
shall you take, then?"
said Mr. Chichely, the coroner, a great coursing
comrade of Mr. Vincy's.
precious glad I'm not one of
the Directors now.
I shall vote for
referring the matter to the Directors and the
Medical Board together. I shall
roll some of my responsibility on
your shoulders, Doctor," said Mr. Vincy, glancing
first at Dr. Sprague,
the senior physician of the town, and then at
Lydgate who sat opposite. "You
medical gentlemen must consult
which sort of black draught you will prescribe,
eh, Mr. Lydgate?"
"I know little
of either," said
Lydgate; "but in general, appointments are apt to
be made too much a
question of personal liking. The
man for a particular post is not always the best
fellow or the most
if you wanted to
get a reform, your only way would be to pension
off the good fellows whom
everybody is fond of, and put them out of the
who was considered the
physician of most "weight," though Dr. Minchin was
usually said to
have more "penetration," divested his large heavy
face of all
expression, and looked at his wine-glass while
Lydgate was speaking. Whatever
was not problematical and suspected
about this young man – for example, a certain
showiness as to foreign ideas,
and a disposition to unsettle what had been
settled and forgotten by his elders
positively unwelcome to a
physician whose standing had been fixed thirty
years before by a treatise on
Meningitis, of which at least one copy marked
"own" was bound in
my part I have some
fellow-feeling with Dr. Sprague: one's
self-satisfaction is an untaxed kind of property
which it is very unpleasant to
remark, however, did not meet the
sense of the company. Mr.
that if he could have HIS way, he would not put
disagreeable fellows anywhere.
reforms!" said Mr.
humbug in the world.
You never hear of a
reform, but it means some trick to put in new men. I hope
you are not one of the `Lancet's' men,
Mr. Lydgate – wanting to take the coronership out
of the hands of the legal
words appear to point
interposed Dr. Sprague, "no man more:
he is an ill-intentioned fellow, who would
sacrifice the respectability
of the profession, which everybody knows depends
on the London Colleges, for
the sake of getting some notoriety for himself.
There are men who don't mind about being
kicked blue if they can only
get talked about.
But Wakley is right
sometimes," the Doctor added, judicially.
"I could mention one or two points in which
Wakley is in the
said Mr. Chichely,
"I blame no man for standing up in favor of his
own cloth; but, coming to
argument, I should like to know how a coroner is
to judge of evidence if he has
not had a legal training?"
opinion," said Lydgate,
"legal training only makes a man more incompetent
in questions that
require knowledge a of another kind.
People talk about evidence as if it could
really be weighed in scales by
a blind Justice.
No man can judge what
is good evidence on any particular subject, unless
he knows that subject
lawyer is no better than an old
woman at a post-mortem examination. How
is he to know the action of a poison?
You might as well say that scanning verse
will teach you to scan the
aware, I suppose, that it is
not the coroner's business to conduct the
post-mortem, but only to take the
evidence of the medical witness?" said Mr.
Chichely, with some scorn.
"Who is often
almost as ignorant as
the coroner himself," said Lydgate.
"Questions of medical jurisprudence ought
not to be left to the
chance of decent knowledge in a medical witness,
and the coroner ought not to
be a man who will believe that strychnine will
destroy the coats of the stomach
if an ignorant practitioner happens to tell him
really lost sight of the fact
that Mr. Chichely was his Majesty's coroner, and
ended innocently with the
question, "Don't you agree with me, Dr. Sprague?"
"To a certain
extent – with regard to
populous districts, and in the metropolis," said
the Doctor. "But
I hope it will be long before this
part of the country loses the services of my
friend Chichely, even though it
might get the best man in our profession to
I am sure Vincy will agree with me."
give me a coroner who is a
good coursing man," said Mr. Vincy, jovially. "And in
my opinion, you're safest with a
can know everything.
Most things are `visitation of God.' And as
to poisoning, why, what you want to
know is the law.
Come, shall we join the
private opinion was that Mr.
Chichely might be the very coroner without bias as
to the coats of the stomach,
but he had not meant to be personal.
This was one of the difficulties of moving
in good Middlemarch
was dangerous to insist on
knowledge as a qualification for any salaried
Vincy had called Lydgate a prig, and now
Mr. Chichely was inclined to call him prick-eared;
especially when, in the
drawing-room, he seemed to be making himself
eminently agreeable to Rosamond,
whom he had easily monopolized in a tete-a-tete,
since Mrs. Vincy herself sat
at the tea-table. She resigned no domestic
function to her daughter; and the
matron's blooming good-natured face, with the two
volatile pink strings floating
from her fine throat, and her cheery manners to
husband and children, was
certainly among the great attractions of the Vincy
house – attractions which
made it all the easier to fall in love with the
tinge of unpretentious, inoffensive vulgarity
in Mrs. Vincy gave more effect to Rosamond's
refinement, which was beyond what
Lydgate had expected.
small feet and perfectly turned
shoulders aid the impression of refined manners,
and the right thing said seems
quite astonishingly right when it is accompanied
with exquisite curves of lip
and eyelid. And
Rosamond could say the
right thing; for she was clever with that sort of
cleverness which catches
every tone except the humorous. Happily
she never attempted to joke, and this perhaps was
the most decisive mark of her
Lydgate readily got into
He regretted that he had
not heard her sing the other day at Stone Court. The only
pleasure he allowed himself during
the latter part of his stay in Paris was to go and
probably?" said Rosamond.
"No, I know
the notes of many birds,
and I know many melodies by ear; but the music
that I don't know at all, and
have no notion about, delights me – affects me.
How stupid the world is that it does not
make more use of such a
pleasure within its reach!"
"Yes, and you
will find Middlemarch
There are hardly any good
only know two gentlemen who
sing at all well."
"I suppose it
is the fashion to sing
comic songs in a rhythmic way, leaving you to
fancy the tune – very much as if
it were tapped on a drum?"
"Ah, you have
heard Mr. Bowyer,"
said Rosamond, with one of her rare smiles.
"But we are speaking very ill of our
almost forgetting that he must
carry on the conversation, in thinking how lovely
this creature was, her
garment seeming to be made out of the faintest
blue sky, herself so
immaculately blond, as if the petals of some
gigantic flower had just opened
and disclosed her; and yet with this infantine
blondness showing so much ready,
self-possessed grace. Since he
the memory of Laure, Lydgate had lost all taste
for large-eyed silence: the
divine cow no longer attracted him, and
Rosamond was her very opposite. But he
"You will let
me hear some music
to-night, I hope."
"I will let
you hear my attempts, if
you like," said Rosamond.
"Papa is sure to insist on my singing. But I
shall tremble before you, who have
heard the best singers in Paris. I have
heard very little:
I have only once been
to London. But
our organist at St.
Peter's is a good musician, and I go on studying
"Tell me what
you saw in London."
"Very little." (A more
naive girl would have said, "Oh,
But Rosamond knew
better.) "A few of the ordinary sights, such as
raw country girls are
always taken to."
"Do you call
yourself a raw country
girl?" said Lydgate, looking at her with an
involuntary emphasis of
admiration, which made Rosamond blush with
she remained simply serious, turned her
long neck a little, and put up her hand to touch
her wondrous hair-plaits
habitual gesture with her as pretty
as any movements of a kitten's paw. Not
that Rosamond was in the least like a kitten:
she was a sylph caught young and educated
at Mrs. Lemon's.
"I assure you
my mind is raw,"
she said immediately; "I pass at Middlemarch. I am not
afraid of talking to our old
I am really afraid of
accomplished woman almost always
knows more than we men, though her knowledge is of
a different sort.
I am sure you could teach me a thousand
things – as an exquisite bird could teach a bear
if there were any common
language between them. Happily,
a common language between women and men, and so
the bears can get taught."
"Ah, there is
Fred beginning to
must go and hinder him from
jarring all your nerves," said Rosamond, moving to
the other side of the
room, where Fred having opened the piano, at his
father's desire, that Rosamond
might give them some music, was parenthetically
Ripe!" with one hand. Able men
have passed their examinations will do these
things sometimes, not less than
the plucked Fred.
defer your practising till
to-morrow; you will make Mr. Lydgate ill," said
has an ear."
and went on with his tune to
turned to Lydgate, smiling gently,
and said, "You perceive, the bears will not always
Rosy!" said Fred,
springing from the stool and twisting it upward
for her, with a hearty
expectation of enjoyment. "Some
good rousing tunes first."
Her master at Mrs. Lemon's school (close to
county town with a memorable history that had its
relics in church and castle)
was one of those excellent musicians here and
there to be found in our
provinces, worthy to compare with many a noted
Kapellmeister in a country which
offers more plentiful conditions of musical
with the executant's instinct, had
seized his manner of playing, and gave forth his
large rendering of noble music
with the precision of an echo. It was
almost startling, heard for the first time.
A hidden soul seemed to be flowing forth
from Rosamond's fingers; and so
indeed it was, since souls live on in perpetual
echoes, and to all fine
expression there goes somewhere an originating
activity, if it be only that of
Lydgate was taken
possession of, and began to believe in her as
something exceptional. After
all, he thought, one need not be
surprised to find the rare conjunctions of nature
apparently unfavorable: come
may, they always depend on conditions that are not
sat looking at her, and did not rise to
pay her any compliments, leaving that to others,
now that his admiration was
was less remarkable? but also
well trained, and sweet to hear as a chime
perfectly in tune.
It is true she sang "Meet me by
moonlight," and "I've been roaming;" for mortals
must share the
fashions of their time, and none but the ancients
can be always classical. But
Rosamond could also sing "Black-eyed
Susan" with effect, or Haydn's canzonets, or "Voi,
or "Batti, batti" – she only wanted to know what
her audience liked.
looked round at the company,
delighting in their admiration. Her
mother sat, like a Niobe before her troubles, with
her youngest little girl on
her lap, softly beating the child's hand up and
down in time to the music. And
Fred, notwithstanding his general
scepticism about Rosy, listened to her music with
perfect allegiance, wishing
he could do the same thing on his flute.
It was the pleasantest family party that
Lydgate had seen since he came
The Vincys had the
readiness to enjoy, the rejection of all anxiety,
and the belief in life as a
merry lot, which made a house exceptional in most
county towns at that time,
when Evangelicalism had east a certain suspicion
as of plague-infection over
the few amusements which survived in the
the Vincys' there was always whist, and
the card-tables stood ready now, making some of
the company secretly impatient
of the music.
Before it ceased Mr.
Farebrother came in – a
broad-chested but otherwise small man, about
forty, whose black was very
brilliancy was all in
his quick gray eyes.
He came like a
pleasant change in the light, arresting little
Louisa with fatherly nonsense as
she was being led out of the room by Miss Morgan,
greeting everybody with some special
word, and seeming to condense more talk into ten
minutes than had been held all
through the evening.
He claimed from
Lydgate the fulfilment of a promise to come and
see him. "I
can't let you off, you know, because
I have some beetles to show you. We
collectors feel an interest in every new man till
he has seen all we have to
But soon he
swerved to the whist-table,
rubbing his hands and saying, "Come now, let us be
Lydgate? not play?
Ah! you are too young and light for this
to himself that the clergyman
whose abilities were so painful to Mr. Bulstrode,
appeared to have found an
agreeable resort in this certainly not erudite
could half understand it: the
good-humor, the good looks of elder and
younger, and the provision for passing the time
without any labor of
intelligence, might make the house beguiling to
people who had no particular
use for their odd hours.
looked blooming and joyous
except Miss Morgan, who was brown, dull, and
resigned, and altogether, as Mrs.
Vincy often said, just the sort of person for a
did not mean to pay many such visits
were a wretched waste of
the evenings; and now, when he had talked a little
more to Rosamond, he meant
to excuse himself and go.
"You will not
like us at Middlemarch,
I feel sure," she said, when the whist-players
"We are very stupid, and you have been
used to something quite different."
"I suppose all
country towns are pretty
much alike," said Lydgate.
"But I have noticed that one always
believes one's own town to be
more stupid than any other. I have
up my mind to take Middlemarch as it comes, and
shall be much obliged if the
town will take me in the same way. I
have certainly found some charms in it which are
much greater than I had
"You mean the
rides towards Tipton and
Lowick; every one is pleased with those," said
Rosamond, with simplicity.
"No, I mean
something much nearer to
and reached her netting, and
then said, "Do you care about dancing at all? I am not
quite sure whether clever men ever
"I would dance
with you if you would
Rosamond, with a
slight deprecatory laugh. "I was
only going to say that we sometimes have dancing,
and I wanted to know whether
you would feel insulted if you were asked to
"Not on the
chat Lydgate thought that he was
going, but on moving towards the whist-tables, he
got interested in watching
Mr. Farebrother's play, which was masterly, and
also his face, which was a
striking mixture of the shrewd and the mild.
At ten o'clock supper was brought in (such
were the customs of
Middlemarch) and there was punch-drinking; but Mr.
Farebrother had only a glass
of water. He
was winning, but there
seemed to be no reason why the renewal of rubbers
should end, and Lydgate at
last took his leave.
But as it was
not eleven o'clock, he chose
to walk in the brisk air towards the tower of St.
Botolph's, Mr. Farebrother's
church, which stood out dark, square, and massive
against the starlight. It was
the oldest church in Middlemarch; the
living, however, was but a vicarage worth barely
four hundred a-year. Lydgate
had heard that, and he wondered now whether Mr.
Farebrother cared about the
money he won at cards; thinking, "He seems a very
pleasant fellow, but
Bulstrode may have his good reasons."
Many things would be easier to Lydgate if
it should turn out that Mr.
Bulstrode was generally justifiable.
"What is his religious doctrine to me, if
he carries some good
notions along with it? One must
brains as are to be found."
These were actually Lydgate's first meditations as he walked away from Mr. Vincy's, and on this ground I fear that many ladies will consider him hardly worthy of their attention. He thought of Rosamond and her music only in the second place; and though, when her turn came, he dwelt on the image of her for the rest of his walk, he felt no agitation, and had no sense that any new current had set into his life. He could not marry yet; he wished not to marry for several years; and therefore he was not ready to entertain the notion of being in love with a girl whom he happened to admire. He did admire Rosamond exceedingly; but that madness which had once beset him about Laure was not, he thought, likely to recur in relation to any other woman Certainly, if falling in love had been at all in question, it would have been quite safe with a creature like this Miss Vincy, who had just the kind of intellige